Religion and Technology into the Future: From Adam to Tomorrow’s Eve examines the broad significance of the current trends and accomplishments in technology (AI/robots) against the long history of the human imagination of making sentient beings. It seeks to enrich our understanding of the present as it is trending into the future against the richly relevant and surprisingly long past. Creatively considered in some depth are a wide range of specific examples drawn especially from contemporary film and television, as well as from cosmology, ancient mythology, biblical literature, classical literature, folklore, evolution, popular culture, technology, and futurist studies. This book is distinctive, in part, in drawing on a wide range of resources demonstrating the indispensable interrelationship among these disparate materials. Science, technology, economics, and philosophy are seamlessly interwoven with history, gender, culture, religion, literature, pop culture, art, and film. Written for general as well as academic readers, it offers fascinating and provocative insights into who we are and where we are going.
Sam Gill is professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of Dancing Culture Religion.
Religion and Technology into the Future discovers untold possibilities in religious texts and science fiction. It traces a journey from the modern rejection of transcendence toward a future of emotionless robots. It proposes that the surrender of moving rites for the stasis of correct belief presaged the rise of an information-obsessed individualist world. A bleak, merely nostalgic religious future is, however, not the pessimistic prediction of this book. Rather, Religion and Technology into the Future sends us toward the 'moving flesh' of our bodies to rediscover and retheorize religion in more thoroughly embodied, everyday human relations. And in religion, we rediscover humanity.
In a series of articulate, well-crafted meditations, Sam Gill offers in his new book provocative thought about technology in modern life. From school kids in social media and sci-fi film and literature to the intellectual gurus of modern thought such as Haraway and Kurzweil, Gill spans a broad range of current practice and critique, showing in very readable prose how religion permeates the culture of cyberpunk, dystopian visions, AI, and technological hopes and fears. With an eye to history, Gill asks for a longer view of the relation between religion and science as a more productive way to understand their complex relationship today. Ancient myth, ritual, and sacred literature resurface in sci-fi films in the form of struggles over embodiment, sexuality, love, self-awareness, and simulacra, speaking to the present with an urgency that belies their antiquity. Pulling it all together in brief and poignant chapters, Gill’s book will be indispensable in the religious studies classroom.
Anyone watching videos online of robotic prototypes being kicked by their developers (to demonstrate their resiliency and balance), and who instinctively feels bad for the robots, needs to spend some time with Sam Gill, to eavesdrop as he mulls over the mixings and possibilities of bodies, technologies, and identity—from the ancient past to the near future. What started out as lectures in an introductory course has turned into a wide-ranging book that makes plain that scholars of religion have tools to help us understand more about the present moment than we might at first think.