A Spiritual-Technological Odyssey

Happy New Year! Inevitably, as we enter a new year, century and millennium (officially, many say) we are enamored, overwhelmed, even frightened by our own advances. In no other field is this more true than technology--particularly information technology. Of course, we run the risk of inflating the impact of new trends, inventions and discoveries, too. Nevertheless, there is much to look ahead to, from nanotechnology to robotics to computing and medical breakthroughs to our personal and societal adaptations.

One concern surrounding the computer breakthroughs of recent years is security--national and personal. (Isn't there always a prominent fear factor when we consider the coming fruits of our ingenuity?) At a recent Microsoft-sponsored conference, National Security Council official Richard Clarke "told [conferees] that the United States could soon discover that other countries have built arsenals of information warfare," according to World magazine, December 23, 2000 . "It may be improbable that a war in cyberspace can occur," Clarke stated, "but it could happen."

Recall the groundbreaking sci-fi film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. In a way not unlike the film's profound approach, our Special Focus contemplates technology (and politics,etc.) and its implications for humankind, delving deeper into the philosophical side. How does one cope with the cascade of daily information that buries us? And what of human nature as related to technology? Are we simply machines which science and technology will ultimately comprehend and overtake? These are important questions when dealing with issues like genetic engineering or robotics. Also, how does technology intersect with the spiritual? For these and other reflections, see our Special Focus.

—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University

Feature Articles:

Are We Spiritual Machines?
William A. Dembski
Dembski examines the metaphor common to scientific and philosophical discussions of the person that man is a kind of machine and criticizes this view as entirely inadequate.

Science and the Story that We Need
Neil Postman
Current technology transfers messages at a blistering pace. Modern science provides guidance on where we came from and how we should live. But what genuine human purpose is served by this glut of information?

TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information
Review by John J. Reilly
Reilly reviews Erik Davis's book on the connection between information technology and pagan spiritualities.

The Morphing of Religious Practices
Mike Penn

Opinion piece that forecasts a new information-age syncretism of "designer religion" driven by the online culture itself. From a Web site designed to prepare believers for a new paradigm that will affect the way religion and the Church universal are understood.

Computers and the Information Revolution
Kerby Anderson
What has been the impact of the information revolution, and how should Christians respond? The world has shifted to a computer-based society; we need some guiding principles and ethics for technology's "Brave New World."

What Remains To Be Discovered: Mapping The Secrets Of The Universe, Origins Of Life, And The Future Of The Human Race
Stephen M. Barr
Barr reviews Maddox's chronicle of the last 300 years of scientific discovery and his predictions for the future of science.

Privacy 2000
First Things, January 1997
Kerby Anderson looks at the loss of privacy and discusses such issues as the National ID card, wire taps, Carnivore, and encryption.

Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
Leon R. Kass
Kass reviews Huxley's disturbingly prescient view of a pleasure-driven, engineered society.

Related Articles:

The 2001 Principle
Mordechai Steinman and Gershon Robinson
In the annals of motion picture history, the film "2001: A Space Odyssey" holds a special place. Though outwardly science fiction, the film speaks about life, the universe, and reality in general, and the message seems to be one of enormous consequence. But that message may not be what you think. Be sure to visit the source site (link within) to experience more of the film's mystique and message.

What Can We Reasonably Hope For?: A Millennium Symposium
First Things, January 2000
It is of course the case that only God knows what will happen in the next century and the next millennium. But we human beings are created with an irrepressible disposition toward the future, as well as a capacity to recall the past. In the last year we published a "millennium series" of articles remembering, century by century, where we have been. Now we ask a group of notable thinkers, all of whom are familiar to our readers, what they expect of the future. Writers were free to choose their own topics, and we trust our readers will agree that the result is a suggestive, and frequently provocative, contribution to the right ordering of expectations, hopes, and fears for the century and millennium now upon us.

We would love to get your feedback on this special focus. Please tell us what you think.

Go here to see our past Special Focus features.