Robert M Geraci
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Manhattan College

PhD, Religious Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara
MA, Religious Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara
BA, Plan II Honors in Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin

I'm Texan, but living, teaching, and writing in New York City. I'm pretty sure that everyone loves robots, which is why I've written a book about them. People love games too, so I wrote another book.  I'm also interested in the toadstool circles, the ancient temples, the soaring cathedrals of our religious imagination. Likewise, the dark tunnels of mining and rapid transit. I visit mountains, deserts, holy places, laboratories, factories, and massively-multiplayer online games, looking for the fantastic in all of them.

I believe that writing should be accessible and that readers should never want to curse authors for producing unintelligible drivel. I want my academic studies accessible and interesting to people who are not college professors and I hope that my own work lives up to those standards.

My past research focused upon the relationship between artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and religion (primarily the Singularity, mind uploading, & sentient machines, but also Shinto and Buddhist ideas as they relate to the development of Japanese robotics). That work led me to a first book, Apocalyptic AI, and a second book, which is about online gaming and religion, and is in contract with Oxford Univ. Press. That research resulted in a National Science Foundation grant to further my studies into virtual worlds.

From December 2012 to April 2013, I spent 5 months in Bangalore, India as a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Researcher and Visiting Scholar at the Indian Institute of Science in order to research for my third book. This new book will engage the cultural context of science and technology in Bangalore.

I love that there are at least 3,333 projects worth writing, and quite possibly more than that (in some multiple of 3, because 3 is the magic number). I love my work.

Scholarly books:

Forthcoming. Virtually Sacred: Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life. New York: Oxford University Press.

2010. Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality. New York: Oxford University Press.

Scholarly essays:

2012. "Theological Productions: The Role of Religion in Video Game Design." Cultural Perspectives of Video Games: From Designer to Player (eds. Adalm L. Brackin and Natacha Guyot), pp. 101-114. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press.

2012. "Video Gaming and the Transhuman Inclination." Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47(4): 735-756.

2011. "There and Back Again: Transhumanist Evangelism in Science Fiction and Popular Science." Implicit Religion 14(2): 141-172.

2011. "Martial Bliss: War and Peace in Popular Science Robotics." Philosophy & Technology 24(3): 339-354.

2011. "Cyborgs, Robots, and Eternal Avatars: Transhumanist Salvation at the Interface of Brains and Machines." Routledge Companion to Religion and Science (eds. Haag, Peterson, and Spezio), pp. 578-590. New York: Routledge.

2010. "Popular Appeal of Apocalyptic AI." Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45(4): 1003-1020. 

2010. "Religion and Science in Daily Practice." Religion in the Practice of Daily Life (eds. Hecht and Biondo). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

2009. "Religion and Technology." Masaryk Journal of Law and Technology 3(1): 1-6.

2008. "Apocalyptic AI: Religion and the Promise of Artificial Intelligence." The Journal of the American Academy of Religion 76(1): 138-166.

2008. Human Nature and the Ethics of Progress: Power and Purpose in 20th Century Religion, Science and Art. Saarbrücken, Germany: VDM Verlag. (Reprinting of my dissertation)

2007. "Cultural Prestige:  Popular Science Robotics as Religion-Science Hybrids."  Reconfigurations: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Religion in a Post-Secular Society (eds. Alexander D. Ornella and Stefanie Knauss).  LIT Press. 43-58.

2007. "Robots and the Sacred in Science and Science Fiction: Theological Implications of Artificial Intelligence."  Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 42(4): 961-980. 

2006. "Spiritual Robots: Religion and Our Scientific View of the Natural World." 
Theology and Science
4(3): 229-246.

2005. "Signaling Static:  Artistic, Religious and Scientific Truths in a Relational Ontology."  Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 40(4): 953-974.

2004. "Laboratory Ritual:  Experimentation and the Advancement of Science."  Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 37(4): 891-908. 

Popular Publications:

"Shared Paradise." Sightings. Published by the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago. January 26, 2012.

"The Cult of Kurzweil: Will Robots Save Our Souls?" Religion Dispatches. April 5, 2011.

"Virtual Salvation: The Sacred World of Second Life." SL'ang Life 4. 2008.

Religion for the Robots.” Sightings. Published by the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago. June 14, 2007.

Courses Taught:

RELS 110  The Nature and Experience of Religion
RELS 300  Gnosticism
RELS 400  Religion and Contemporary Art
RELS 400  Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Religion
RELS 425  Religion and Psychology
RELS 463  Religion and Science
RELS 470  Religion Online and Online Religion
RELS 480  Independent Study: Virtual Lives and Virtual Worlds (Ethics and the Divine in Robotics and AI)
RELS 480  Independent Study: The Death of God and Sexuality in Modern Art
RELS 480  Independent Study: Religion and Modern Media
Grants, Awards and Appointments:

National Science Foundation EAGER Grant, Virtually Meaningful project (2011-2013)

William A. Coolidge Scholar, Association for Religion and Intellectual Life (Summer 2010)

Guest editor, Masaryk Journal of Law and Technology 3:1. Special edition on religion and technology. (2009).

Visiting Researcher, Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute (summer 2007)

Manhattan College Summer Research Grant (2007)

New Visions of Nature, Science, and Religion Research Stipend (2005-2006)

New Visions of Nature, Science, and Religion Research Stipend (2004-2005)

Academic Presentations:

"A Novel Society: Science Fiction Stories as Religious Actors" at the annual meeting for the American Academy of Religion, November 20, 2011.

"Mythic Transhumanism: The Apocalyptic Use of Artificial Intelligence" at the Columbia University Study of Religion Seminar, December 13, 2010.

"A Landscape of the Religious Imagination: Travel and Tourism in the Work of Neil Gaiman" at the annual meeting for the American Academy of Religion, October 31, 2010.

"The Mythic Power of Transhumanism" at Transvision 2010, October 23, 2010.

"The Singularity Solution: Ray Kurzweil, Artificial Intelligence, and the American Public" at the annual meeting for the Society for Machines and Mentality (Special Interest Group of the International Association for Computing and Philosophy), December 28, 2009.

"Virtually Sacred: Popular Religion in Second Life" at the William Patterson University Philosophy Colloquium, December 1, 2009.

"Evolution and the Politics of Religious Practice" at the College of Mt. Saint Vincent, November 17, 2009.

"Between Evangelism and Education: Transhumanist Religion in Pop Science and Science Fiction" at the annual meeting for the American Academy of Religion, November 9, 2009.

"The Virtual Sacred: Hierophanies of Second Life" at The Future of Religions/Religions of the Future: Dialectics of Faith and Technology in the Third Millennium conference in Al-Andalus in Second Life, June 4, 2008.

"Religion, Spirituality and the Avatar" at Sophrosyne's Salon in Extropia Core, Second Life, March 15, 2008.

“Apocalyptic Artificial Intelligence: How Friends are Never Quite Friendly in Religion and Science” at the Manhattan College Dante Seminar, Riverdale, NY, October 4, 2007.

 “Apocalyptic Artificial Intelligence” at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute Philosophy of Robotics Group, Pittsburgh, PA, June 21, 2007.

 “The Human Machine: Dignity and Blame in Conceptualizing Humanity” at the Annual Meeting for the American Academy of Religion, Washington, D.C., November 20, 2006.

“Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and the Persistence of the Sacred” at the Annual Meeting for the American Academy of Religion, Philadelphia, PA, November 20, 2005.

“Robots in Science-Fiction: Technology and Twentieth-Century Holiness” at the Consortium for Literature, Theory and Culture Conference, The Sacred and the Profane, University of California, Santa Barbara, May 21, 2004.

“The Cultural History of Religions and Twentieth Century Temporality” at the Department of Religious Studies Research Colloquium, University of California, Santa Barbara, February 4, 2004.

“Revolution in Early Christianity: Social Marginalization in the Gospel of Thomas” at the Annual Meeting of the Association of the Sociology of Religion, Anaheim, CA, August 17, 2001.

mountains to climbj

--Shel Silverstein--

Sandra's seen a leprechaun,
Edie touched a troll,
Laurie danced with witches once,
Charlie found some goblins' gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Susy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I've had to make myself.