Sketches towards a theology of technology : theological confession in a technological age
This thesis will argue that information technology (IT) has given rise to a cultural mythology which offers a competing theological model to the model offered by kerygmatic Christian theology. The theological model advocated by IT culture regards human technical creativity and material culture to be the means by which ultimate concern can be mediated and satisfied. This model will be judged inauthentic, when theological authenticity is measured in terms of a theology’s ability to point beyond itself – to the transcendent and the infinite – as they symbol of that which is truly ultimate. This inauthentic ‘techno-theology’ purveyed by IT culture will be contrasted with a theology of technology, which seeks to engage technology hermeneutically by finding the meaning of technology at the nexus of its use and invention, and by judging the appropriateness of technology against the norm of the Christian kerygma. It is hoped that by contrasting techno-theology with a kerygmatic theology of technology, that an ethics of technological practices may be approached. The context for this thesis will be the contemporary information technology culture, running from roughly the mid 1980’s to the present, with specific attention given to the phenomenon of posthuman discourse to which this culture has contributed. Of the four types of information technology examined in this thesis (actual/realistic, idealised, imagined, and speculative), examples of actual IT will be taken from cybernetics research and computer science; examples of idealised IT will be taken from philosophical and theological treatments of virtual reality, cognitive science and artificial intelligence research; examples of imagined IT will be taken from science fiction literature and film; and examples of speculative IT will be taken from speculative science with a specific interest in posthumanism and radical life extension.