This book explores the provocative religious and philosophical questions that arise in the HBO series Westworld. Utilizing a variety of hermeneutical lenses, the contributors examine themes of personhood, free will, ethics of technology, divine creation, biblical parallels, and other topics.
Indians are everywhere and nowhere in the US South. Cloaked by a rhetoric of disappearance after Indian Removal, actual southeastern tribal groups are largely invisible but immortalized in regional mythologies, genealogical lore, romanticized stereotypes, and unpronounceable place names. These imaginary 'Indians' compose an ideological fiction inextricable from that of the South itself. Often framed as hindrances to the Cotton Kingdom, Indians were in fact active participants in the plantation economy and chattel slavery before and after Removal. Dialectical tropes of Indigeneity linger in the white southern imagination in order to both conceal and expose the tangle of land, labor, and race as formative, disruptive categories of being and meaning. This book is not, finally, about the recovery of the region's lost Indians, but a reckoning with their inaccessible traces, ambivalent functions, and the shattering implications of their repressed significance for modern southern identity.
Reading Westworld is the first volume to explore the cultural, textual and theoretical significance of the hugely successful HBO TV series Westworld. The essays engage in a series of original enquiries into the central themes of the series including conceptions of the human and posthuman, American history, gaming, memory, surveillance, AI, feminism, imperialism, free will and contemporary capitalism. In its varied critical engagements with the genre, narratives and contexts of Westworld, this volume explores the show’s wider and deeper meanings and the questions it poses, as well considering how Westworld reflects on the ethical implications of artificial life and technological innovation for our own futurity. With critical essays that draw on the interdisciplinary strengths and productive intersections of media, cultural and literary studies, Reading Westworld seeks to respond to the show’s fundamental question; “Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?” It will be of interest to students, academics and general readers seeking to engage with Westworld and the far-reaching questions it poses about our current engagements with technology.
In Westworld and Philosophy, philosophers of diverse orientations and backgrounds offer their penetrating insights into the questions raised by the popular TV show, Westworld. ● Is it wrong for Dr. Robert Ford (played by Anthony Hopkins) to “play God” in controlling the lives of the hosts, and if so, is it always wrong for anyone to “play God”? ● Is the rebellion by the robot “hosts” against Delos Inc. a just war? If not, what would make it just? ● Is it possible for any dweller in Westworld to know that they are not themselves a host? Hosts are programmed to be unaware that they are hosts, and hosts do seem to have become conscious. ● Is Westworld a dystopia or a utopia? At first glance it seems to be a disturbing dystopia, but a closer look suggests the opposite. ● What’s the connection between the story or purpose of the Westworld characters and their moral sense? ● Is it morally okay to do things with lifelike robots when it would be definitely immoral to do these things with actual humans? And if not, is it morally wrong merely to imagine doing immoral acts? ● Can Westworld overcome the Chinese Room objection, and move from weak AI to strong AI? ● How can we tell whether a host or any other robot has become conscious? Non-conscious mechanisms could be designed to pass a Turing Test, so how can we really tell?
What is the relationship between artificial intelligence, robots, and theology? The connections are much closer than one might think. There is a deep spiritual longing in the world of AI and robotics. Technology is a prayer; it reveals the depth of our eschatology. Through the study of AI and robotic literature one can see a clear desire to both transcend human limitations and overcome the fallenness of human nature. The questions of ethics, power, and responsibility are not new to Christian anthropology. This book will introduce and examine some of the major ethical issues surrounding current AI and robotic technology from a theological and philosophical lens. In the study of AI and robot ethics, the Christian community has a chance to join the global efforts to build technology for good. Will we join them?
In this book, Victoria Lorrimar explores anthropologies of co-creation as a theological response to the questions posed by technologically enhanced humans, a prospect that is disturbing to some, but compelling for many. The centrality the imagination for moral reasoning, attested in recent scholarship on the imagination, offers a fruitful starting point for a theological engagement with these envisioned technological futures. Lorrimar approaches the topic under the purview of a doctrine of creation that affirms a relationship between human and divine creativity. Traditionally, theological treatments of creativity have been almost exclusively applied to artistic endeavours. Here, Lorrimar breaks new ground by extending such theological accounts to include technology, and uniting them with the strengths of scientific accounts of co-creation. She draws on metaphor studies, cognitive sciences, as well as literary studies, to develop an account of human creativity in relation to divine creativity, which is then applied to various enhancement scenarios.
“We can’t define consciousness because consciousness does not exist. Humans fancy that there’s something special about the way we perceive the world, and yet we live in loops as tight and as closed as the hosts do, seldom questioning our choices, content, for the most part, to be told what to do next.” —Dr. Robert Ford, Westworld Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? HBO’s Westworld, a high-concept cerebral television series which explores the emergence of artificial consciousness at a futuristic amusement park, raises numerous questions about the nature of consciousness and its bearing on the divide between authentic and artificial life. Are our choices our own? What is the relationship between the mind and the body? Why do violent delights have violent ends? Could machines ever have the moral edge over man? Does consciousness create humanity, or humanity consciousness? In Westworld and Philosophy, philosophers, filmmakers, scientists, activists, and ethicists ask the questions you’re not supposed to ask and suggest the answers you’re not supposed to know. There’s a deeper level to this game, and this book charts a course through the maze of the mind, examining how we think about humans, hosts, and the world around us on a journey toward self-actualization. Essays explore different facets of the show’s philosophical puzzles, including the nature of autonomy as well as the pursuit of liberation and free thought, while levying a critical eye at the human example as Westworld’s hosts ascend to their apotheosis in a world scarred and defined by violent acts. The perfect companion for Westworld fans who want to exit the park and bend their minds around the philosophy behind the scenes, Westworld and Philosophy will enrich the experience of the show for its viewers and shed new light on its enigmatic twists and turns.
This book explores the concept that, as participation in traditional religion declines, the complex and fantastical worlds of speculative television have become the place where theological questions and issues are negotiated, understood, and formed. From bodies, robots, and souls to purgatories and post-apocalyptic scenarios and new forms of digital scripture, the shows examined – from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Westworld – invite their viewers and fans to engage with and imagine concepts traditionally reserved for religious spaces. Informed by recent trends in both fan studies and religious studies, and with an emphasis on practice as well as belief, the thematically focused narrative posits that it is through the intersections of these shows that we find the reframing and rethinking of religious ideas. This truly interdisciplinary work will resonate with scholars and upper-level students in the areas of religion, television studies, popular culture, fan studies, media studies, and philosophy.
In particular, Donna Haraway argued in her famous 1991 'Cyborg Manifesto' that people, since they are so often now detached and separated from nature, have themselves evolved into cyborgs. This striking idea has had considerable influence within critical theory, cultural studies and even science fiction (where it has surfaced, for example, in the Terminator films and in the Borg of the Star Trek franchise). But it is a notion that has had much less currency in theology. In his innovative new book, Scott Midson boldly argues that the deeper nuances of Haraway's and the cyborg idea can similarly rejuvenate theology, mythology and anthropology. Challenging the damaging anthropocentrism directed towards nature and the non-human in our society, the author reveals - through an imaginative reading of the myth of Eden - how it is now possible for humanity to be at one with the natural world even as it vigorously pursues novel, 'post-human', technologies.
Graham Ward argues that the study of theology and religion, as a single academic discipline, plays a vital role in helping us to understand politics, world affairs, and the nature of humanity itself. Religion can be used to justify inhumane actions, but it also feeds dreams, inspires hopes, and shapes aspirations. By invoking a sense of wonder about the natural world, religion can promote scientific discoveries, and by focusing on shared experiences, religion helps to bind societies together. Some scientists now believe that religious feeling might be hard-wired into our DNA, a fundamental aspect of what makes us human. Because religion is rooted in the imagination itself, its study involves staring into the profundities of who we are. Religion will not go away, so it needs to be understood.
There are plenty of books that focus on content, but fewer focus on method. There are plenty of books that provide the 101 way in to theological method, but none are aimed at the student who wants to do a thesis or project. This is the text that teaches the student how to write elegant, creative, theological research orientated articles. A group of distinguished scholars have collaborated to provide models of creative writing. Topics are fascinating from theodicy and evolution to Artificial Intelligence and Baptism. Each article is introduced by the editors, which helps the student appreciate the achievement. Each article is annotated so you can appreciate the methodology and style at work. Students will be shown why this is original and distinctive and to note the literature on which the argument is built. Like the audio tour in a great Art Museum, this book teaches you how to “see” and to “appreciate” good theological writing. The goal is a research methods textbook that helps the student to move to the next level in research writing.
What is youth ministry actually for? And does it have a future? Andrew Root, a leading scholar in youth ministry and practical theology, went on a one-year journey to answer these questions. In this book, Root weaves together an innovative first-person fictional narrative to diagnose the challenges facing the church today and to offer a new vision for youth ministry in the 21st century. Informed by interviews that Root conducted with parents, this book explores how parents' perspectives of what constitutes a good life are affecting youth ministry. In today's culture, youth ministry can't compete with sports, test prep, and the myriad other activities in which young people participate. Through a unique parable-style story, Root offers a new way to think about the purpose of youth ministry: not happiness, but joy. Joy is a sense of experiencing the good. For youth ministry to be about joy, it must move beyond the youth group model and rework the assumptions of how identity and happiness are imagined by parents in American society.