VILLANOVA, Pa. March 28, 2011 – Technology is the proverbial two-edged sword. It makes life more convenient, extends our capabilities, and keeps us connected. But, it also complicates, restricts and isolates us. Much has been made of the distractibility of technology. But, how has it affected our understanding of God, religion, and faith traditions? Have technological breakthroughs like fertility treatments, bioengineering and medical procedures that increase longevity changed our sense of identity? What about technology’s impact on morals and ethics?
The Theology Institute at Villanova University will take up the metaphysical side of technology on April 4 when it convenes its annual conference to explore the theme, “Children of a Better God: Technology and the Next Humanity.” Free and open to the public, the day sessions of the conference will be held in the Connelly Center Cinema on the University’s Main Campus.
President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, Father George Coyne will deliver a 7:30 p.m. keynote address titled “Children of a Fertile Universe: Chance, Destiny and a Creator God” in the Driscoll Hall Auditorium. Conference speakers include Brent Waters, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; William Schweiker, The University of Chicago; Mary Devereaux, University of California at San Diego; and James Caccamo, St. Joseph’s University.
A Villanova University panel comprised of computer scientist Robert Beck along with engineers Noelle Comolli and William Lorenz will explore whether Christian commitments are inherently in tension with scientific and technological progress. The speakers will draw on their own work in areas like computer-human interaction, bioengineering, and environmental impact assessment to consider how research, teaching, and learning are affected by educational institutions with an explicit Christian identity and mission.
“Technology gives us the power to refashion ourselves, to neglect given limits, moral and spiritual,” said Darlene Fozard Weaver, Director of the Theology Institute, and an associate professor of theology at Villanova. “But, it also calls into question traditional theology, our familiar claims about God,” she added.
The object of the Theology Institute conference is, according to Weaver, “neither to baptize nor condemn technology, but rather to foster a meaningful dialogue with folks that sit at these disciplinary boundaries.”
Topics that will be addressed by conference speakers include: “In Whose Image and Likeness? Posthuman Creators and Creatures;” “Against the Seductions of Trans-Humanism: Responsibility for the Human Future;” “Engineering the Body/Engineering the Self;” and “Rewiring Virtue: The Practice of the Christian Life at the Dawn of a New Era.”
Click here for additional information on the 2011 Theology Institute Conference.