What Does it Mean to be Human in a Technological Age?

What does it mean to be human in a technological age? This is the fundamental question that was asked during the conference Being Human in a Technological Age: Rethinking Theological Anthropology, organized by ILSE. The conference was an outcome of the research project Moral Discernment in an Age of Complex Technology, headed by ILSE and funded by the Blankemeyer Foundation.

The three keynote speakers and the fifteen paper presenters each offered their individual answers. Professor Brian Brock (University of Aberdeen) illustrated our lack of critical thinking towards technological development by presenting a case-study where students were unable to distinguish between medical therapy and human enhancement.

Professor emeritus Henk Jochemsen of Reformed Philosophy (Wageningen University and Research) shed light on the impact of increasingly advanced technology on the tension between control and freedom. According to him, we have controlled factors (such as disease) which allow us the freedom we have, but technology poses a risk that it will control us or will be used for control. Thirdly, Professor Brent Waters (Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, US) focussed on the momentum in which technological development takes place to enhance human beings. According to Waters, this momentum prevents human flourishing, as it disavows what it means to be authentically human. We should be selective in allowing technological development to influence who we are as embodied human beings.

These plenary sessions were followed by a panel discussion where the participants joined in a conversation about the theme with the keynote speakers.

The plenary sessions and a redacted section of a number of papers will be published in the forthcoming volume Being Human in a Technological Age: Rethinking Human Anthropology, as part of an academic peer-reviewed series Christian Perspectives on Leadership and Social Ethics, published by Peeters Publications.

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