From brain-based tech designed to trigger, enhance, accelerate, modify or measure spiritual experiences to new spiritual movements in Silicon Valley and the everyday ways technology is used in worship and devotion, there is a brave new world of transcendent tech giving both pious pioneers and defenders of traditional religion something to ponder.
In scholarly circles, “spiritual technology” is used to refer to any practice believed to enhance a person’s religious practices or identification. Here, we are talking specifically about the increased interplay between technology and spirituality.
Technology has always played a role in religion and spiritual practices have long involved technologies of various kinds. For millennia, revolutions in travel, printing and digital technologies were impacted by — and significantly transformed — religious traditions.
But today, innovators across religious traditions are actively probing the ways technology can be used yet again to augment and modify spiritual experiences (and vice versa).
The examples are numerous: from ultrasound beams for fast-tracking attempts at enlightenment to church in the “Metaverse,” Christian NFTs and online dating by Orthodox Jews and conservative Muslims. Meanwhile, as the space race heats back up in the private sphere and more people are going to space as paying passengers than as government employees, people are beginning to wonder what religion might look like … in spaaaaace!
While regulators in Europe, China and the U.S. try to rein in tech giants, things like electronically mediated meditation and virtuous virtual reality are no longer fringe exercises, but part of commonplace conversations everywhere from churches in the Midwest to coffee shops in Silicon Valley.
Thankfully, there are researchers, experts and other policy briefs here to help us appreciate the trends, trace the background and understand the technological terms that are coming at us hard and fast:
- Read “Highly religious Americans more skeptical of human enhancements such as brain implants, gene editing,” from Pew Research Center.
- Read “The religious divide on views of technologies that would ‘enhance’ human beings,” from Pew Research Center.
- Read “The relationship between religion, science and technology,” from Arizona State University News.
- Read “On the Intersection of Science and Religion,” from Pew Research Center.
- Read “Muslims in Outer Space,” from Harvard Divinity School.
- Read “How digital technology became sacred for Hindus,” from the Religion Media Centre.
- Read “Issue 36: Religion and Technology,” from the journal History and Technology.
- Read “Religion and Technology,” by Dennis Cheek.
- Read “Hinduism Case Study – Technology,” from Harvard Divinity School.
- Read “The Relationship Between Technology and Religion,” from Learn Religions.
- Read “Islamic Ethics and The Rise of Digital Technology,” from the Maydan.
- Read Spirit Tech: The Brave New World of Consciousness Hacking and Enlightenment Engineering, by Wesley J. Wildman and Kate J. Stockly.
- Read Astrotopia: The Dangerous Religion of the Corporate Space Race, by Mary-Jane Rubenstein.
- Read Destined for the Stars: Faith, the Future, and America’s Final Frontier, by Catherine L. Newell.
- Read “Statement on freedom of religion or belief and digital technology,” from the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (which, amazingly, Australia signed up to…).
The following stories run the gamut of religion and tech intersections. Whether you are looking for stories on “Israel’s ultra-Orthodox tech scene” or new Sikh emojis, Bitcoin epiphanies or “space pagans,” you will find a story below that will take you deeper into the convergence of high-tech spirituality on offer across traditions and around the world.
- Read “This matchmaking site helps religious Jews looking for love,” from The Jerusalem Post on Oct. 17, 2022.
- Read “Faith on the OpenSea: Christians Launch NFT Fundraisers,” from Christianity Today on Oct. 11, 2022.
- Read “Inside Israel’s ultra-Orthodox tech scene,” from Financial Times on Oct. 10, 2022.
- Read “Technology as the new God, before whom all others bow,” from Mind Matters News on Oct. 9, 2022 (commentary).
- Read “Monks go hi-tech to teach dharma,” from Khmer Times on Sept. 30, 2022.
- Read “The Future of Religion in the Metaverse,” from Religion & Politics on Aug. 9, 2022.
- Read “Madison writer Meghan O’Gieblyn explores the connection between technology and religion,” from Isthmus on Aug. 9, 2022.
- Read “Millennials adopt digital worship, but not at the expense of IRL faith,” from Religion News Service on August 5, 2022.
- Read “Space, Technology, and Religion,” from The Edgefield Advertiser on Aug. 5, 2022 (commentary).
- Listen “Where science and technology intersect with religion and spirituality,” from Wisconsin Public Radio on July 28, 2022.
- Read “New emojis up for approval in 2022, include symbol of Sikh faith Khanda,” from The Indian Express on July 15, 2022.
- Read “The People Who Are Finding God Through, and in, Bitcoin,” from Slate on July 12, 2022.
- Read “Bitcoin, Religion and Morality,” from Bitcoin Magazine on July 6, 2022 (commentary).
- Read “Religious minorities face growing digital persecution,” from The Tablet on July 5, 2022.
- Read “Why Silicon Valley is fertile ground for obscure religious beliefs,” from Vox on June 30, 2022.
- Read “How a Religious Sect Landed Google in a Lawsuit,” from The New York Times on June 16, 2022.
- Read “How tech innovations have organized the religious and cultural segments of India,” from The Times of India on June 2, 2022.
- Listen to “How Big Tech Turned Work Into a Religion,” from KQED on June 1, 2022.
24 total views, 1 views today