An Invitation to the Study of Cyborgs

I met with Prof. Toru Takahashi a week or two back, while he was here at the University of Waikato on sabbatical. Good conversations around cyborgs, religion, animé and manga. He’s written mostly in Japanese, but here’s an English version of a short article of his.

Are Robots Threatening Your Immortal Soul?

A while ago, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, theology and robots was a topic that generated a number of books and publications including the ones below:


“God In the Machine: What Robots Teach Us About Humanity and God” (Anne Foerst)

“God and the Mind Machine: Artificial Intelligence” (John C. Puddefoot)

Now it looks like that discussion is getting a new lease of life: See Apocalypse NAO: Are Robots Threatening Your Immortal Soul? | Popular Science

“When the time comes for including or incorporating humanoid robots into society, the prospect of a knee-jerk kind of reaction from the religious community is fairly likely, unless there’s some dialogue that starts happening, and we start examining the issue more closely,” says Kevin Staley, an associate professor of theology at SES. Staley pushed for the purchase of the bot, and plans to use it for courses at the college, as well as in presentations around the country. The specific reaction Staley is worried about is a more extreme version of the standard, secular creep factor associated with many robots.

“From a religious perspective, it could be more along the lines of seeing human beings as made in God’s image,” says Staley. “And now that we’re relating to a humanoid robot, possibly perceiving it as evil, because of its attempt to mimic something that ought not to be mimicked.”

Thanks to Nanogirl (@medickinson) (Passionate scientist/engineer/kitesurfer & regular @firstlineNZ science TV slot. Run a nano mechanical lab. My TEDx talk: http://t.co/cw9On1JVgN) for the link.

Theology and cancer discussions this week

Because of the Theology, Spirituality and Cancer Symposium coming up that I’m participating in I was interested to see these NZ articles on the internet this week.

The first three are from the NZ Herald. In the first two Stephen Wealthhall reflects on death and then in the third Brian Brandon responds in part to those.

The fourth link is to a blog post by a (new) colleague of mine, Mark McConnell, written as he works on his paper for the symposium.

Public Lecture: Exploring the spiritual terrain of the cancer experience; stories and statistics

Public Lecture for the Theology, Spirituality and Cancer Symposium

Exploring the spiritual terrain of the cancer experience; stories and statistics
Richard Egan PhD
School of Medicine, University of Otago

Cancer affects everyone differently but what is evident is that it turns most people’s lives upside down. For those with cancer, along with their family/whanau and friends, the cancer experience may challenge their beliefs and values, a sense of who they are, and their meaning and purpose in life. For many, the cancer experience is not only a reminder of their own mortality but it also provides a sense of connectedness. Our work with people who have experienced cancer suggests these are the elements that begin to define the spiritual terrain for people traversing the cancer landscape.

This presentation will consider people’s stories and will be supported by population based statistics, combined with contemporary ways of seeing health and well-being as a means to explore the often considered profound spiritual experience of cancer.

Thursday 20 February, 7.30pm
Library Theatre B10, Alfred Street, The University of Auckland
For more details contact: theologyadmin@auckland.ac.nz

061bb0bRichard Egan is a lecturer in health promotion at the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago. Working in the Cancer Society Social and Behavioral Research Unit, Richard teaches Undergraduate and Postgraduate health promotion. His background includes five years working as a health promoter/professional advisor in a Public Health Unit and five years secondary school teaching. Richard’s academic interests centre on supportive care in cancer, health promotion and the place of spirituality in health and well-being. Richard is a mixed methods researcher, with a particular focus on qualitative research.

This lecture is presented in association with Theology at the University of Auckland and Laidlaw College, Auckland.

PDF Flyer available here: Richard Egan Lecture.

Reminder: Theology, Spirituality and Cancer Symposium

From the symposium organisers:

Just in case you were planning to come but haven’t registered yet we thought we’d send this quick reminder about the upcoming two-day symposium and public lecture on Theology, Spirituality & Cancer on 20-21 February 2014.

The Theology, Spirituality and Cancer symposium, jointly sponsored by Laidlaw College and Theology at the University of Auckland, is is an interdisciplinary meeting exploring dialogue between theological (including biblical), religious, philosophical, spiritual, healthcare and pastoral arenas, and will include presentations by biblical scholars Dr Tim Meadowcroft and Dr Caroline Blyth, and practical theologian Dr Stephen Garner among others. The symposium will be of interest to academics and practitioners, including religious ministers, chaplains, counsellors and healthcare practitioners in related areas. It will address topics such as theodicy, cancer therapies, end-of-life care and pastoral challenges as well as exploring the insights a theological, religious or spiritual perspective can bring to an understanding of all aspects of cancer. These areas will be explored through presented papers, keynote addresses and a public lecture.

Symposium
When: 20-21 February 2014 | 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Where: University of Auckland (City Campus), Arts 1 Building (Building 206), 14A Symonds Street, Auckland
Cost: $100 (includes morning and afternoon tea)
Register: Click here to register online. Registration will close on Friday 9 February 2014, but please register early as places are limited.

Public Lecture with Richard Egan, PhD
EXPLORING THE SPIRITUAL TERRAIN OF THE CANCER EXPERIENCE; STORIES AND STATISTICS
When: 20 February 2014 | 7:30pm
Where: Library Theatre B10, University of Auckland, Alfred Street, Auckland
Cost: Free

For further information about the symposium click here for schedule and registration form or visit theologyandcancer.org or contact Christina Partridge at cpartridge@laidlaw.ac.nz

Future visions and environmentalism

A few links on how people’s perception of the future (incl. theological eschatologies) might shape environmental ethics.

On Ian Barbour

The following link is a reflection on Ian Babour and his work in the area of science and religion interaction. Barbour (who died just before Christmas) was hugely influential upon my own thinking about the relationships between science and religion and theology and technology. I often talk about his four-fold typology of relationships in theology classes, and his idea of ‘appropriate technology’ informed one of the thrusts of my PhD thesis.

See Farewell to Ian Barbour by Connor Wood over at Patheos: Science on Religion.

Here are a few of his many books:


“Religion and Science (Gifford Lectures Series)” (Ian G. Barbour)


“When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners?” (Ian G. Barbour)


“Myths, Models and Paradigms” (Ian G. Barbour)


“Religion in an Age of Science (Gifford Lectures 1989-1991, Vol 1)” (Ian G. Barbour)


“Ethics in an Age of Technology: Gifford Lectures, Volume Two” (Ian G. Barbour)


“Issues in Science and Religion (Torchbooks)” (Ian G. Barbour)

Symposium on Theology, Spirituality and Cancer – Update

theology,spirituality-and-cancer-mailchimp-banner v6

Laidlaw College and Theology at the University of Auckland will be sponsoring a two-day symposium and public lecture on Theology, Spirituality & Cancer on 20-21 February 2014 and you are warmly invited to attend.

The Theology, Spirituality and Cancer symposium is an interdisciplinary meeting exploring dialogue between theological (including biblical), religious, philosophical, spiritual, healthcare and pastoral arenas, and will include presentations by biblical scholars Dr Tim Meadowcroft and Dr Caroline Blyth, and practical theologian Dr Stephen Garner among others. The symposium will be of interest to academics and practitioners, including religious ministers, chaplains, counsellors and healthcare practitioners in related areas. It will address topics such as theodicy, cancer therapies, end-of-life care and pastoral challenges as well as exploring the insights a theological, religious or spiritual perspective can bring to an understanding of all aspects of cancer. These areas will be explored through presented papers, keynote addresses and a public lecture.

Symposium

When: 20-21 February 2014 | 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Where: University of Auckland (City Campus), Arts 1 Building (Building 206), 14A Symonds Street, Auckland
Cost: $100 (includes morning and afternoon tea)
Register: Click here to register online. Registration will close on Friday 9 February 2014, but please register early as places are limited.

Cancer and Spirituality Matters: Stats and Stories

Public Lecture with Dr. Richard Eagan
When: 20 February 2014 | 7:30pm
Where: LibB10, General Library (Building 109), Level B (Basement), 5 Alfred Street, Auckland
Cost: Free

For further information about the symposium click here for schedule and registration form or visit theologyandcancer.org or contact Christina Partridge at cpartridge@laidlaw.ac.nz

PDF Version of this information to print out or distribute.

New books from friends and colleagues

New books on the bookshelf from the past couple of week authored and edited by friends and colleagues (two of which were free copies arriving in the mail yesterday and today).

First up Spiritual Complaint: The Theology and Practice of Lament edited by Miriam Bier and Tim Bulkeley which came out of an interdisciplinary colloquium on lament back in 2011. I’ve got a chapter in there titled “Lament in an age of new media”. Links below:


“Spiritual Complaint: The Theology and Practice of Lament” (Miriam Bier, Tim Bulkeley) – Amazon.com
“Spiritual Complaint: The Theology and Practice of Lament” (Miriam Bier, Tim Bulkeley) – Wipf and Stock Publishers

Secondly, Nicola Hoggard Creegan’s work on theology, animal suffering and problem of evil looks like a good read, especially for those interested in the theological implications of evolutionary frameworks and the science-religion interface.


“Animal Suffering and the Problem of Evil” (Nicola Hoggard Creegan) – Amazon.com
“Animal Suffering and the Problem of Evil” (Nicola Hoggard Creegan) – Oxford University Press

And finally, a collection of essays from a range of NZ writers – theologians, philosophers, scientists – on new-atheism from the TANSA meetings etc. Something to dip into from time to time.


“Taking Rational Trouble Over the Mysteries: Reactions to Atheism” (Nicola Hoggard Creegan and Andrew Shepherd) – Amazon.com
“Taking Rational Trouble Over the Mysteries: Reactions to Atheism” (Nicola Hoggard Creegan and Andrew Shepherd) – Wipf and Stock Publishers