Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, Ecotheology 11.1 March 2006

Techno-demonology: Naming, Understanding and Redeeming the A/Human Agencies with Which We Share Our World

Bronislaw Szerszynski
Issued Date: 24 Feb 2007


In this paper I argue that an important strand of ecotheology should be an
articulated techno-demonology—an understanding of the ways that technologies
increasingly confront us as indifferent or malign agencies. Drawing
particularly on the New Testament language of spiritual agencies, I
consider in turn three necessary components of techno-demonology. First,
techno-demonology needs a taxonomic nomenclature, one which ‘names’
techno-demonological phenomena in a manner that reveals the specific
ways in which the technologies can stand before us as autonomous powers.
As a contribution to this task I distinguish between elementals (stoicheia)
and powers (dynameis)—between technical systems which have become
treated as ends in themselves, and have thus started to control human
action, and technologies whose unanticipated side-effects overwhelm their
intended purposes. Second, I suggest that techno-demonology should
include an understanding of how such techno-demons arise; I thus give
historical explanations for the proliferation of technological elementals and
powers in the contemporary world. Finally, I argue that techno-demonology
should include the redemptive task of restoring technology to its
rightful place in creation.

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DOI: 10.1558/ecot.2006.11.1.57


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