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Constructive Theology in the Age of Digital Culture and Anthropocene

ARRS Code: P6-0434

Research programme duration: 1. 1. 2022 – 31. 12. 2028

Head of research programmeNadja Furlan Štante, PhD

This research programme will discuss, from an interdisciplinary view, some of the most important issues for our present society. The main aim of this research is to understand and place in dialogue the role of Christianity in the ethics of environmental protection, ecological awareness, and ecological empowerment, on the one hand, and the theological and philosophical interpretations of technology, particularly digital technologies, on the other.

The starting point of this research programme is the increasing intertwinement of natural and digital environments for contemporary and future life on our planet. The development and increasing use of advanced digital technologies and artificial intelligence raise a number of challenging ethical questions. Understanding these challenges and formulating theologically reflective responses to them are important aspects of digital theology. Digital culture is the context within which we increasingly do theology, thus, digital theology impacts both theology as a discipline and digital culture within which we live.

Our focus on this reflective contextual interaction between digitality and theology, will examine the impact of digital culture on questions regarding the nature of God, God’s interaction with the world, the mystery of faith, on our relationships with one another and the Other (including God, gender, nature, and non-human beings). We will also explore the impact of theology on digitality and digital culture. Digital technology is different from previous technologies and brings with it both new dangers and new possibilities. It can be either a poison or a remedy, or a range of possibilities related to both – in other words, digital technology has the capacity to be either a positive or a negative influence upon how we live, think, and relate, and the challenge is to identify which is which and under what conditions. Digital technology operates somewhat differently from previous technologies by virtue of the ways in which it takes our thoughts, memories and, indeed, our habits and speeds up the normal processes through which they operate. Such technologies, employed by consumer culture and commercial interests, risk short-circuiting our processes of reflection and critical thought. The times, spaces, and reflective methodologies provided by religion could provide an antidote to this, functioning similarly to the dreams and intermittences which escape external control and enable the opportunity for alternative thoughts and experiences.

New modes of ethical cohabitation are needed in the Digital-Anthropocene age, therefore new models of theological responses will be sought and proposed by our programme.

This research programme draws upon, contributes to, and brings together the fields of theology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, religiology, computer sciences and digital humanities.