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Title: The God of possibility and promise : Christian eschatology as a response to technological futurism
Author: Burdett, Michael Stephen
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Abstract:
The explosive growth of technology today is causing extensive speculation about the future. These ‘technological futurisms’—especially transhumanism—are often imbued with religious value by their adherents. How should Christians respond to the content of technological futurisms and also the way the future is constructed? In this thesis I argue that Christian eschatology has a more robust understanding of the future than technological futurism, as championed by transhumanism, and can allow for radical hope while also maintaining important humanistic virtues which are ultimately lost in transhumanism. Christian eschatology does not only depend on what is actual to create its future. Rather, it is open to the God of possibility and promise who can bring the radically new in the Kingdom of God. This dissertation is broken into three major sections with an introductory and concluding chapter. The first section provides a history of our technological imagination today by looking at visionary approaches to technology and the future in both technological utopias and science fiction. This history provides the conditions for understanding the proposed future of transhumanism. The second section orients the final response by assessing technology and the future in the eschatologies of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Jacques Ellul. Both Teilhard and Ellul agree that the technological future without appeal to the Christian God is dangerous. The final section looks at the theological and philosophical issues surrounding technology and the future. Heidegger’s works are used to sharpen themes related to technology and the future; in particular, how technology is related to ontology and how the future is related to possibility. The final chapters construct a Christian response to transhumanism around the themes of possibility and promise by utilising the works of Richard Kearney, Eberhard Jüngel and Jürgen Moltmann. A Christian notion of possibility allows for the radically new in a way transhumanism does not and the Christian idea of promise safeguards human virtues by emphasising the interpersonal as ultimate rather than self-transcendence as with transhumanism.
Supervisor: Pattison, George Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.581133  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Modern theology ; Science and religion ; Modern spiritual movements ; Christian Eschatology ; Technology ; Philosophy of Religion ; Religion and Culture
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