The God Who Made Robots

Let’s remember for a moment that there must be a difference between a Creator God who creates intelligent beings who possess free will, and a lesser god who creates automatons — animated statues — that are essentially magical robots of ancient lore. If there weren’t a difference, we’d all be robots. There would be no separation between us and animated statues. That would also put us in the peculiar position of becoming our own minor deities as we create animated automatons for ourselves, as this Chinese inventor has done. Perhaps he sees himself as a minor deity among men, as he has programmed her to demurely ask, “What can I do for you, my Lord?” Sometimes, a man must have respect, even if only from an automoton who’s compelled by creation to give it.

Hephaestus was a crippled god. Like men with limitations, this Greek god became a skilled inventor and creator, using metal to craft armor, chariots, bows and arrows, and many other implements, suffused with his own godlike powers. He was, in fact, the foremost smith of Mount Olympus. For example, it was Hephaestus who created Hermes’ winged helmet and sandals. What it must have been like to be the crippled god crafting the magical devices of more attractive and powerful gods!

That’s how the world works, though. He was rejected by his own mother for his shriveled foot, originally exiled from Mount Olympus. In one story, in which the goddess Hera had rejected him, he forged her a throne that would ensnare her when she sat on it. The other gods, wanting Hera released from her snare, begged him to come back to Mount Olympus. He refused, and eventually was forced back to his origins via Dionysus getting him drunk and strapping him to a mule — to the Place of Gods that had rejected him.

Because of his difficulty in moving around, he invented metalwork automatons, such as tripods to carry things to Mount Olympus and back. And then, in perhaps the ultimate expression of the Greek concept of Ekphrasis, he also created golden maidens who could speak and learn and move about, waiting on their master. What we see in the god Hephaestus is the image of a broken man who used his skills to improve his mobility, gain him approval from his peers, and make himself more desirable to females. We also see his dark side: the rejected genius who invents tools to wreak revenge on those who’ve hurt him.

The motivations of human inventors no doubt varies, mirroring Hephaestus’ complex image. According to Jungian theory a la Campbell, men are inspired to create because they can never be fulfilled in the way women are through childbearing. And so they throw their genius in the creation of art and technology. It’s an interesting theory, in any case. There are women who are tinkerers, but they’re rare. From that Jungian perspective, man’s desire to create automatons makes sense. Even deeper, from a creation perspective, humans are compelled to create because of God’s image stamped on their souls. The woman bears the fleshly child; the man forges children from metal.



  1. Tinkerbelle is a tinkerer in the newer Disney movies, but I don’t know if that’s a reboot of her backstory, or if she never had a backstory when she was first conceived (rimshot?). It could be both, in a way.

    Btw, tonight I’m going to have nightmares about giving birth to Johnny 5.

      1. If I would guess (I don’t know for sure) I would say the origin of the name “tinkerbell” was a form of onomatopoeia with “tinker” having the sound of a clinking bell. But then afterwards, somebody thought about it and decided that “tinker” must actually refer to “tinkering” or pounding out objects of metal with a hammer. (Which also is a word based on onomatopoeia.)

        In either case the aspect of Tinkerbell’s personality that had to do with clinking bells is and always was more prominent than the “tinkerer” of bells aspect…

  2. Modern evolutionary psychologists say men create in order to impress women, in order to find more desirable mates, in order to have more children.

    This is not entirely silly and does somewhat relate to the myths of Hephaestus. Men DO want to please women and will use the power to create to do so at times. Though this is a side effect to the creative impulse I would say and not its real motivation.

    There is something more basic in human beings, in both men and women and especially in children, which desires to create without any direct benefit from the act of creation. This is of course, the false musings of Jung and the modern evolutionary biologists aside, because, as you already said, we are made in the image of a Creator God.

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