Just finished reading Rocks of Ages : Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould as part of an ongoing project evaluating models of science and religion interaction. It was one of those books where after the preface and the next 8 pages you knew pretty much all you needed to know. Still 200+ pages later it’s done. If you want to read a book about how science and religion relate to separate things (facts vs. values), basically shouldn’t talk to each other and science has the last say, then this is the book for you. Still he painted the “two-worlds” argument with verve even if he reuses the old cliches like “science tells you about the age of rocks; religion tells you about the rock of ages” and “science tells you how the heavens go; religion tells you how to go to heaven”.
Knocked that off and I’m on to Elaine Graham’s Representations of the Post/Human: Monsters, Aliens and Others in Popular Culture which looks far more promising. Flicking through her bibliography I noticed that she has cited not only a lot of the printed material I’ve been working with but also many of the electronic sources too. Sort of reassuring to know someone else has walked a similar path as well.
I also find it interesting that both Graham and Noreen Herzfeld (In Our Image: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Spirit in their respective engagements with theology and technology spend significant effort using cinema, television and literature as primary sources. In thinking about this last year I wrote
These contemporary narratives highlight what Lelia Green calls ï¿½the widespread fascination with the interface of biology and technology, and the potential for fusion between the two.ï¿½ It is in these type of stories that society explores the boundaries of what it means to be human as well as trying to distill the essence of humanness. Questions about how to live and how to be human are addressed, as well as the hopes and fears of people who are increasingly dependent on technology and the cultures it creates. There is, she asserts, almost an enthrallment with the question of how much technology compromises the essentially human.
I’ve only dipped into Graham’s book but already the synapses are firing as I’ve skimmed through it.
Another observation is that a lot (most?) of the people writing in the areas overlapped by culture, technology, sociology and religion are women – Brenda Brasher, Margaret Wertheim, Susan J White, Anne Foerst, Noreen Herzfeld, Elaine Graham, Lelia Green, Jennifer Cobb, Nancey Murphy and Sherry Turkle to name just a few off my bookshelf.
Anyway, only another million books or so to go after this one so I’d better get cracking.