So the other day Lizzie Scalia, the Anchoress Mother Superior here at Patheos, sends a note around to all us Patheos bloggers introducing Thomas L. McDonald, who has now joined the Patheos team with his blog, God and the Machine, which aims to look at faith and technology.
Naturally, as a Dark Lord who shares a fascination with how faith (in me) can be imposed on a prostrate, begging, and open mind rendered supple to my will by the latest in technology, I immediately wrote him:
Welcome, Thomas! Congratulations on a fine addition to the Patheos gang!
Could you do a post on the ethics of using giant killer robots to wade out into the ocean from my Hidden Island Redoubt and come ashore, wreaking havoc in the major metropolitan cities of the world until my demands are met and all mankind is enslaved to my iron will? I’m thinking there must be *some* way to square that with Just War teaching, but I’m kind of drawing a blank. The robots are programmed and ready and I have enough black market nuclear material to power them all, but I just don’t feel like I’ve dotted all my ethical I’s and crossed all my theological T’s yet. I want to have that smug sense of self-righteousness that is the birthright of every supervillain as I embark on my campaign of slaughter in a good cause. I’m hoping this will really get me into the Evil League of Evil. Any insights you can offer on your blog would be really helpful and I may even tell the robots to spare you and your family.
Yours for a more efficient and orderly world administration
Happily, I hit “reply all”. Because Thomas (no doubt busy putting his finishing touches on the Vatica’s Orbital Mind Control Laser Platform) didn’t reply immediately, leaving room for Timothy Muldoon to offer some very helpful counsel:
I’m a theologian, so I can twist meaning any way I want to. How about this:
1. Let’s do something with language, as that’s all the fashion in academia these days. Instead of “supervillan” let’s go with “Platonic benevolent servant of all,” and instead of “campaign of slaughter” let’s try “campaign of healthy pruning of the good society.” (“Evil League of Evil” is just too over the top for me.)
2. The black market nuclear material we can explain away by critiquing the antisocial practices of corporations. Your practice of acquiring the material is a prophetic stand against corporate greed.
3. The methods of using robots (let’s just elide the “killer” part) is a strategy to avoid unjust labor practices.
4. It’s not so much about enslaving mankind (better: humankind); it’s about advancing a more just social order.
5. Havoc in cities: no problem. We’ll quote Jesus wanting to set fire to the world.
6. The big picture: you’re advancing a cause to make the world more just and equal and are willing to be a servant to all, to sacrifice your own selfish interests for the good of the planet. Noble! You are proposing to interrupt the patterns of greed and the other deadly sins (I can’t remember them) for the sake of equal equality for all people. Ave, Mark!
You see? Now that right there is the best ethics money can buy! I’m gonna get me some more of these theologians. They can justify anything!
Thomas eventually weighed in too:
Mark: I will be consulting my St. Thomas and get back to you on the ethics of giant robots as a means of world domination. Short, quick opinion? I’m fer it.
Timothy: I’m only 1/3rd of a theologian (8 classes left), so I’m just going to say, “Whatever Shea wants, Shea should have, even if it’s a runaway Mechgodzilla pointed at Trenton. ESPECIALLY if it’s pointed at Trenton.”
I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.