ESSSAT (European Society for the Study of Science and Theology) Conference,

Barcelona, Spain. 1-6 April, 2004

TECHNOLOGY TOUCHES THEOLOGY AND VISA VERSA:

GIVE ME THAT ON-LINE RELIGON

Paul Henry Carr, Rome Laboratory Emeritus

Hanscom, ATTN: AFRL/SNHA, Bedford, MA, 01731-2909, USA

KEYWORDS: theology, technology, science and religion, culture, Internet,

Communication, relational contextual reasoning

OUTLINE

"Culture is the form of religion. Religion is the substance of culture.(1,2)"

Technology and theology are interactive. Technology touches theology. Science and its resulting technology provide a means for the promulgation of religious beliefs and theology. The roads and maritime technology of the Rome Empire provided a mechanism for the teachings of Jesus, whom the First Century Jewish historian Josephus called "the leader of a marginal movement in a minor province of the Roman Empire," to spread throughout its regions. Christianity survived persecution as well as competition from numerous religions to emerge as the state religion under Emperor Constantine in the Fourth Century. The invention of the printing press fueled the fires of Lutherís Protestant Reformation. In a similar manner, modern transportation and communications technology including satellites, optical fiber networks, and the Internet break down national barriers and make religious pluralism the issue of our day. The world religions are all represented on the Internet. The distributed, ubiquitous nature of the Internet has led some to propose it as a model or metaphor for God. "Give me that on-line religion!"

Theology also touches and nurtures technology. Why did modern science emerge in the West rather than the East? Judeo-Christian theology provided a milieu for the goodness of the material world and for and consistency and openness. A monotheistic God created the material world as "good" and therefore worthy of being investigated. This God was consistent and honored His covenant, in contrast with the capriciousness of polytheistic gods. This consistency contributed to the emergence of the natural laws of science, whose fruit is technology. The created world is contingent (non-deducible from logical principles) and can therefore be discovered by empirical modern science. Thus, theology touches science and technology.

The interactive relationship between theology and technology is consistent with physicist-psychologist K. Helmut Reich's Relational Contextual Reasoning (RCR) (3). RCR emphasizes the interdependence between theology and technology, the links between them, and the situation and context in which they interact. Theologian Paul Tillich said: "Culture (of which technology is a part) is the form of religion, religion is the substance of culture" (1). Our technological culture is the milieu and situation in which the meaning and vision of religion and theology are actualized and implemented. (2)

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  1. Paul Tillich, "Systematic Theology: Life and the Spirit, History and the Kingdom of God" vol. III., pg. 158. University of Chicago Press, 1963.
  2. R. F. Bulman, F. J. Parrella, "RELIGION IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM: Theology in the Spirit of Paul Tillich," Science & Religion: pgs. 235-345, (2001)
  3. K. Helmut Reich, "Developing the Horizons of the Mind: Relational and Contextual Reasoning and the Resolution of Cognitive Conflicts," Cambridge University Press, 2002.