There’s so much that one can say about Altered Carbon at the intersection of religion. I recognize that I haven’t blogged about earlier seasons, in which the notion is explored that ‘Meths’ like Rei and Bancroft (who can afford to change their sleeve – i.e. their body – while their personality is backed up, transfers, and lives forever) are “living gods.” As actor James Purefoy put it in an interview related to season 1,
“I loved the duality of being so monstrously egotistical that you would keep coming back, week after week after week, dying and being reborn, dying and being reborn, and still coming back. They would see you as a living god.”
In season 2, we get some interesting statements, some bold and blatant, some subtle and deep. Episode 1 has someone suggest that “true salvation is found in renunciation.” Episode 2 talks about the idea that nothing is sacred any longer, and of moving on to a “more divine plane.” Episode 3 envisages a person’s stack – i.e. their personality which has the potential to move between bodies – being tortured forever in virtual reality. It also has the quip, in response to the old military adage “Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out,” that this “sounds like an argument for atheism if you ask me.” I’ll write more on this in the near future, especially as I get back to watching the most recent season.
Of related interest, here are some calls for papers on posthumanism:
Also related to Altered Carbon and the broader themes and technological possibilities it explores:
As I mentioned above, I didn’t blog about Altered Carbon when I watched it, but I’ll be thinking about the show more in the very near future, as I work on a book chapter for a volume on Altered Carbon and theology, and complete another (due sooner) about resurrection and afterlife in the Bible and science fiction. These are important questions, and science fiction in general and shows like Altered Carbon in particular enable us to ask more interesting and sometimes simply better questions about subjects like resurrection. On such broader questions you may enjoy reading:
Richard Beck blogged about ancient transhumanism (no, seriously).
On how we envisage the afterlife:
Bart Ehrman on resurrection beliefs in the ancient world:
There’s more from Bart Ehrman on his blog, including some posts that are accessible by non-members.
There are other series that deserve to be discussed in comparison with Altered Carbon, such as Josh Whedon’s Dollhouse. See too: