God is Dead: How Religions Shape Posthumans in the End of Times


Since the beginning of the 20th century, Science Fiction (SF) writers have experimented with narratives about possible futures to explore the limits of humanity and its demise. SF writers have also been exploring questions of gender, race and class as a result of increasing technological progression. For example, Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) subvert gender roles and play with the idea of hierarchal structures in society collapsing. Similar to these novels, Octavia E. Butler’s Lilith’s Brood (2000) subvert gender roles and racial stereotypes by creating sexless aliens that save humanity after a world war that lead humans to the near extinction. Furthermore, Octavia E. Butler creates slave narratives within her SF fiction. At the same time, religion plays a role in Le Guin and Atwood’s novels in an intricate web of relations that influence attitudes and views on gender. In The Handmaid's Tale, for instance, religion is used to fortify laws that strip away women's rights. However, in Atwood’s latest MaddAdam trilogy and Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, religion becomes more complex as it has a more prominent role in the novels. In the second novel of the MaddAdam trilogy, The Year of the Flood, God’s Gardeners attempt to create cult or religion based on the bible, but with the aim to decentralize the human role in God’s plan. In Parable of the Sower, the protagonist Lauren Olamina creates her own religion, Earthseed, in order to help her followers and herself to cope with their posthuman condition. I argue that both religions change the concept of God and adopt rituals and beliefs that reshape followers into posthumans. In the first chapter, the concept of God in both novels is reconceptualized as Eugene Thacker's demon in Parable and Hegelian spirit in Flood. In the second chapter, Earthseed and God’s Gardeners’s cult is  compared to theories in posthumanities such as Haraway’s companion species and Chtuluscene. In the third chapter, the role of race and gender is discussed in relation to the two religions that encourage a posthuman life. The final chapter conclude and summarizes how the concents of the three chapters reshape the characters of the novels into posthumans.

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