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God and the Chip

Religion and the Culture of Technology

William A. Stahl

Editions SR Series

Paper 194 pp.

ISBN13: 978-0-88920-321-1

Release Date: March 1999

Online discount: 25%

$42.99  $32.24


eBook availability

Winner of the 1999 Saskatchewan Book Award for Scholarly Writing

Our ancestors saw the material world as alive, and they often personified nature. Today we claim to be realists. But in reality we are not paying attention to the symbols and myths hidden in technology. Beneath much of our talk about computers and the Internet, claims William A. Stahl, is an unacknowledged mysticism, an implicit religion. By not acknowledging this mysticism, we have become critically short of ethical and intellectual resources with which to understand and confront changes brought on by technology.

William A. Stahl is a professor of sociology at Luther College, University of Regina, who specializes not only in the sociology of religion but also in science, technology, and society, and who holds a degree in theology. He is a regional director for the Canadian Network on Science and Religion. Between 1989 and 1993 he was a senior researcher on an international, interdisciplinary team that developed a design model for computerizing the university system in India. His class on religion and the sciences won an award from the John Templeton Foundation’s Science and Religion Course Program


“Stahl uncovers the cultural expectations we place on technology, showin g how religion, pop culture, and the media interact to fan our hopes and fears that technology will alternatively save us and destroy us. His discussion of ’redemptive technology’ is one of the most rich, profound, and illuminating discussions of religion and technology in recent years.”

— Ronald Cole-Turner, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

God and the Chip: Religion and Culture of Technology by William A. Stahl... uncovers the implicit religion of the computer and technology in a fascinating, interdisciplinary analysis. Stimulating for group and individual study.”

— Janet Silman, The United Church Observer

“Stahl exhibits impressive intellectual breadth and depth in providing a provocative interdisciplinary critique of the mystique that is associated with technology generally and computers and communications technology specifically.”

— Reginald W. Bibby, University of Lethbridge

“Stahl’s book is a welcome critique of our technological culture that is not overwhelmed by the latter’s negative potential. Understanding technology and culture as a ‘seamless web’ compels us to rethink our collective beliefs, values and goals. While these critical reflections may not affect the practices of IBM, Microsoft, Nortel, and other technology corporations, discussing the social practices underlying today’s technology raises public awareness that computers are not in control. Once we realize that the computer is not an autonomous agent nor even a ‘magic box,’ we begin to ask critical questions regarding the purposes and values of society. Stahl’s book is important because it challenges us to think critically about a society that reveres the ‘magic box.’ ”

— Scott Kline, McGill University, The Ecumenist

“We live in a technological society....the machine and the culture of technology are part of our daily lives. But do we have to worship them?”

— from the author’s introduction

“Mysticism needs to be understood to confront the changes and ethical consequences brought on by technology.”

Rating **** (very important for the development of science and spirituality)

Science and Spirit