Calvin Mercer, PhD
Calvin Mercer's seven books and 30 articles are in religion and culture, with emphasis in the past decade on the religious and social implications of radical human enhancement technology. He is co-editor, with UK scholar Steve Fuller, of Palgrave Studies in the Future of Humanity and Its Successors. He was a founding chair of the American Academy of Religion's “Human Enhancement and Transhumanism Group.” Dr. Mercer is also trained in clinical psychology, practiced professionally part-time for about a decade, and has utilized insights from this discipline in his published work on religion. Representative publications include Slaves to Faith: A Therapist Looks Inside the Fundamentalist Mind; Religion and Transhumanism, The Unknown Future of Human Enhancement (co-edited with Tracy Trothen), Religion and Human Enhancement: Death, Values, and Morality (co-edited with Tracy Trothen), Transhumanism and the Body: The World’s Religions Speak (co-edited with Derek Maher), and Religion and the Implications of Radical Life Extension (co-edited with Derek Maher). He frequently gives public lectures on religion and human enhancement technology, and his psychological interpretation of fundamentalism.
How would you like to live healthy for 500 years—or longer? Dr. Mercer is one of a growing number of scholars examining the religious and social implications of radical physical, cognitive, affective, moral, and even spiritual enhancements. The following trends and research programs illustrate the broad “radical evolution” front that could, even if indirectly, contribute to extreme longevity and other radical human enhancements: genetic engineering, tissue engineering and organ replacement, merging of computer technology with human biology, scanning technologies, robotics, and nanotechnology. Dr. Mercer is co-editor, with UK scholar Steve Fuller, of Palgrave Studies in the Future of Humanity and Its Successors. He was a founding chair of the American Academy of Religion's “Human Enhancement and Transhumanism Group.” In his various scholarly writings, Dr. Mercer has given focus to the theological implications of superintelligence and to whole brain emulation, commonly referred to as mind uploading. He frequently gives public lectures on religion and radical human enhancement technology and has written, along with Dr. Tracy Trothen, a book that, while based on current scholarship, is written in an informal style, appealing to a lay or student audience. It can be used, e.g., as a study guide for faith communities and other groups. Contact Dr. Mercer (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information about the book and to be placed on an occasional email list for updates about human enhancements events and publications.
Dr. Mercer is trained in clinical psychology and practiced professionally part-time for over a decade doing psychometric assessment and therapy. He was known as the "go-to" therapist for clients where religion was a factor in their mental distress and/or behavioral dysfunction. In both his teaching and clinical practice, he has worked extensively with fundamentalists. Dr. Mercer gives public lectures on this topic based on his book, Slaves to Faith: A Therapist Looks Inside the Fundamentalist Mind. With a foreword by Martin Marty, the book provides a novel—and controversial—psychological analysis of fundamentalism. Although the book is focused on Christian fundamentalism, the insights are valuable for understanding extreme religion in all traditions and especially so in our post 9/11 climate.
Dr. Mercer is the originator of The Monastic Project, a comprehensive program used by professors and others around the country that speaks to a deep yearning many people have for substantive religious experience that goes deeper, offers more, and requires more than much of the easy, quick, sensual froth offered up by much contemporary religion. The Monastic Project, with guidelines drawn from various monastic traditions, can yield results transformative beyond explicit religious experience, such as improved mental and physical health, clarification of life goals and purpose, improved relationships, increased awareness, and better sleep. The Project has been reviewed in Teaching Theology and Religion (April 2009) and is recommended by Matthew Fox. Dr. Mercer has provided on-campus and other consultations about The Monastic Project to theological and religious studies faculty.
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