I’ve long thought that one of the advantages of having a church guided by modern revelation is that we Latter-day Saints don’t have to rely on finding ways to apply scriptural passages to technological developments in order to determine whether some technology or its use in particular ways is sinful or not. For example, a church without modern revelation would have to figure out whether blood transfusions are sufficiently like eating blood that they fall under the proscription in Leviticus. A church with modern revelation can provide a direct answer to the question of whether blood transfusions, in vitro fertilization, and many other modern technological developments are allowed under God’s laws.
Of course, there are many future technologies and discoveries that the Church has not yet had to deal with. And I think there is the potential for some good science fiction stories there. Since the Church has no revelation directly concerning these future technologies, what the Church’s position will be is still open. So here are some science-fictional writing prompts:
- Physical immortality and eternal youth through rejuvenation — If researchers learn to reverse aging and cure basically any disease, human lifespans could exceed that of Methuselah, with death only happening through physical trauma via accident or assault. Does the Church consider this just another blessing of modern medicine, giving us more time to do missionary and temple work before the Millennium eventually comes? Or does such unnaturally long life delay the resurrection to true immortality and eternal life to the extent that it is sinful to use rejuvenation technology?
- Mind uploads – If the human mind can be backed up to a computer, then even physical trauma to the brain may not be enough to kill you, as the physical structure of the brain (or even the whole body) could be repaired and your mind replaced from backup. Alternatively, uploading a human mind to a computer may require destructive scanning, thus killing the physical body. That would seem to be sinful, but if the mind lives on, is the person really dead? Can a spirit be associated with a computer or robotic body?
- Non-human aliens — LDS doctrine has no problems with the idea of people living on other worlds. But what about non-human but clearly sapient aliens? Are they covered by the atonement and the plan of salvation?
- Neanderthal cloning — So far, we’ve only baptized Homo sapiens sapiens into the Church. What happens when a clone from DNA extracted from Homo neanderthalensis wants to join the Church? Neanderthal clones would not be genetic descendants of Adam. Does that matter? Is marriage between a Neanderthal and a human of the opposite sex prohibited?
- Uplifted chimpanzees or other animals — Whether through genetic engineering or brain implants, humanity may create animals with intelligences that rival our own. (See Orson Scott Card & Kathryn H. Kidd’s Lovelock.) Are they in need of salvation?
- Artificial Intelligence — Does an AI need salvation? Can you baptize a robot?
Feel free to add other writing prompts based on future discoveries in the comments.