Technology — both theoretically and practically — has staked its claim in our cultural moment. It is here to stay. This dominance has fostered much positive innovation, yet also exposed a great deal of fear and anxiety about our future, prodding the theological realm for greater nuance and application.
On November 11-12, the Center for Faith & Work hosted their 6th annual conference on The Wonder and Fear of Technology to develop new thought on the intersection of faith and technology and examine the future of work.
Opening night featured Derek Thompson (Senior Editor, The Atlantic) as he discussed how work has shaped American identity in the last 200 years and how automation will both change and reaffirm the meaning that people derive from their work. Tim Keller (New York Times best selling author and Redeemer Presbyterian Church Pastor) then spoke on how we move toward a re-enchanted view of God’s creation and the technological tools we employ. Alissa Wilkinson further explored a re-enchanted worldview through the lens of popular television and film narratives. The trio then participated in a panel discussion with CFW Executive Director, David H. Kim.
Saturday morning began with worship led by The Brilliance before David H. Kim discussed the critical role of technology in our God-given mandate to cultivate the world. Engineer and author Derek C. Schuurman then explained how a Christian perspective of technology can be informed by the biblical narrative, and framed by the themes of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. The morning session ended with author Nancy Jo Sales and sociologist Felicia Wu Song discussing the effects of social media on in-person relationships and our capacity for empathy.
The final session of the conference looked at how humans can shape the future as stewards of technology. Programmer Jane Stewart Adams examined the ways data-driven strategies can perpetuate discrimination in hiring practices. Nigel Cameron (CEO, Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies) discussed the necessity of human wisdom for technological development and how Christians can develop a non-naive optimism about the future of technology.
Closing conversations for the conference looked at how the gospel rightly orders our world so that our technologies can bring hopeful fear and wonder that reflects not only our image but God’s glory.
The weekend was a fantastic starting point for further conversations on how the gospel replaces current normative models of technology that spawn fear with a fuller notion of the divine signature that has authored us all.