How Science Fiction Sacralizes the Secular
Cyberpunk science fiction has been an important empirical base of the critique of modernist conceptions of science and technology and their relationship to magic and religion. Novelists such as William Gibson, Vernor Vinge, and Neal Stephenson have helped to create a popular imagination in which digital technology erases the distinctions between religion, magic, and science and/or technology. They picture, respectively, “space cowboys” confronting godlike or voodoo artificial intelligences in cyberspace; electronic identification tags as magical “true names”; and a computer virus as a language as well as a religion.1 By thus encouraging a conception of travel in cyberspace that identifies the virtual and the spiritual and the realist fiction that the latter can penetrate the physical world through the former, they have helped to persuade scholars and hackers that, in postmodern society, the relationship between religion and technology has decisively changed. Some argue that cyberspace has produced an alternative realm akin to Dante’s heaven and hell;2 others that digital technology has kick-started a mode of gnostic thinking implicitly inherent to technology in the first place;3 yet others that the cyborg phase
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Publication information: Book title: Deus in Machina: Religion, Technology, and the Things in between. Contributors: Jeremy Stolow - Editor. Publisher: Fordham University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2013. Page number: 213.
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