Anthropotheology: Latour Speaking Religiously


While Bruno Latour is commonly identified with science studies, he has also written extensively on religion and especially on its relation to the modern Western sciences. His writings on the subject include the relatively early essays, “On the Cult of the Factish Gods” and “‘Thou Shall Not Freeze-Frame’ or, How Not to Misunderstand the Science-Religion Debate”, and the book, Rejoicing: Or the Torments of Religious Speech. Religion also figures centrally in Latour’s recent work, including An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns and his 2013 Gifford lectures, “Facing Gaia.” Indeed, it appears that the hope to frame a generally acceptable, intellectually sophisticated, and theologically proper account of religion (which Latour identifies with Christianity) has been a central motivating force in his work for at least the past two decades and perhaps from the beginning. In his pursuit of these ends, Latour has tied together a duly radical constructivist-pragmatist account of scientific knowledge with a rhetorically deft Christian apologetics to produce a singular—bold, inventive, and in many ways compelling but also equivocal—anthropotheology. Readers in the humanities will find much of interest in these writings but also much that is perplexing, dubious, and intellectually and/or experientially alien.