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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

The religion in Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (later published as Blade Runner) is known as Mercerism, after its chief representative Wilbur Mercer. Mercer is a messiah-like character with whom the people relate in an artificial empathy which is mechanically created. The specific purpose of this religion is not to advance the spiritual enlightenment of the people or to encourage their ethical behavior, but rather to induce conformity in the citizens of this society of the future. Dick clearly means this religion to reflect in part what is seen by non-religionists as the negative aspects of religion in the real (non-fictional) world. At the same time, to see Mercerism as nothing more than a satirical stab at religion is to underestimate the seriousness and complexity of Dick's intent.

When the religion of Mercerism and its elements are compared to the religions of the world as described in Huston Smith's The World's Religions, the basic elements of those religions are found in Mercerism, but in every case in a perverted form. Dick intends not to create a viable religion, but to depict those aspects of religion which are used by powerful social, economic and political forces to control the people and impose civil order and stability. This study will examine the religion in Dick's novel and will compare its central elements with the elements of the religions in Smith's work. The essence of the comparison will be the argument that Dick uses Mercerism both as a means of critiquing religion itself and, more importantly, as a means of calling into question what it means to be a fully human being in the spiritual or religious sense of the term.

As a result of war, technology, environmental desolation, authoritarian control, and a world with little or no true religion or spirituality, the society of Dick's novel has been almost entirely dehumanized. There is some question, in fact, whether the actual humans in th...

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 12:27, May 29, 2020, from