2022-2024 Theme: Transhumanism, Immortality, and Religion

Many traditional religious philosophies are predicated on the assumption that humans die (in some cases over and over again). But what if humans one day possess the technological ability to preserve human life indefinitely? What if, one day, humans no longer die? The 2022–24 The Comparison Project lecture series explores these issues, looking at the possibilities of digital and other technologically enhanced forms of immortality, the implications of these immortalities for traditional religious philosophies, and responses to them, whether constructive or critical, from traditional religious philosophies. (Special thanks to Seth Villegas for helping us refine our topic and choose our speakers.)

See below for the lectures that have already occurred. Clicking on the name of each lecture will allow you to access a page on which to find a recording of the lecture (and a powerpoint, if one was used).

Fall 2022 Programming

The Desire to Upload: Digital Immortality and the Transhumanist Push for Radical Life-ExtensionSeth Villegas, PhD candidate, Boston University9/29/2022, 7:00 pm, Olmsted Sussman Theater
Transhumanism, Gender, and the Deconstruction of IdentityJames Hughes, Associate Provost, University of Massachusetts Boston10/20/2022, 7:00 pm, Olmsted Sussman Theater
Seeking Immortality: Technology, Theology, and Endless LifeRon Cole-Turner, former H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary11/17/2022, 7:00 pm, Cowles Reading Room

Spring 2023 Programming

Transhumanism, AI, and Memory: Zen Buddhist Ruminations on Digital ImmortalitiesGereon Kopf, Professor of Religion, Luther College2/23/2023, 7:00 pm, Cowles Reading Room
Gender, Sexuality, and Digital Immortality: What Would Women’s Fantasy Novels from Contemporary China Contribute to Transhumanism?Zhange Ni, Associate Professor of Religion and Literature, Virginia Tech University4/20/2023, 7:00 pm, Cowles Reading Room
Sexbots Playing the Imitation Game: Mormonism, Transhumanism, and the Turing Test as Trolley PrizeJon Bialecki, Lecturer in Anthropology, University of California-San Diego5/11/2023, 7:00 pm, Cowles Reading Room

Fall 2023 Programming

“Saffron Singularity: The Global Circulation of Transhumanist Narratives”Robert Geraci, Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College 9/14/2023, 7:00 pm, Sussman Theater (Olmsted)
“Transhumanism vs. Christianity” Eric Steinhart, Professor of Philosophy at William Patterson University 10/19/2023, 7:00 pm, Sussman Theater (Olmsted)
Immortality through AI? Transhumanism, Human Nature, and Islamic PhilosophyMuhammad Faruque, the Inayat & Ishrat Malik Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati11/15/2023, 7:00 pm, Sussman Theater (Olmsted)
“The Preciousness of Being Human: A Judaic Perspective on Embodiment, Death, and ImmortalityHava Tirosh-Samuelson, Director of Jewish Studies and Irving and Miriam Lowe Professor of Modern Judaism at Arizona State University12/7/2023, 7:00 pm, Sussman Theater (Olmsted)

Spring 2024 Programming

“Space Dust: Blackness, Its Expansion, and Transfinite Exploration”Phillip Reed-Butler, Assistant Professor of Theology and Black Posthuman Artificial Intelligence Systems at Iliff School of Theology2/22/2024, 7:00 pm, Sussman Theater (Olmsted)
“The Magic, Science, and Religion of Pet Cloning: An Homage to Malinowski”Jennifer Huberman, Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at University of Missouri-Kansas City2/22/2024, 7:00 pm, Sussman Theater (Olmsted)
“Comparative Philosophical Conclusions”Seth Villages, Postdoctoral Fellow for Boston University’s Computing and Data Sciences2/22/2024, 7:00 pm, Sussman Theater (Olmsted)
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