Technological Futures and God’s Sovereignty: How Far Will We (Be Allowed to) Go? -- By: Hal N. Ostrander

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 04:1 (Spring 2000)
Article: Technological Futures and God’s Sovereignty: How Far Will We (Be Allowed to) Go?
Author: Hal N. Ostrander


Technological Futures and God’s Sovereignty:
How Far Will We (Be Allowed to) Go?

Hal N. Ostrander

Hal N. Ostrander is Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Christian Theology at the James P. Boyce College of the Bible. Dr. Ostrander has also served on the faculty of Dallas Baptist University. He has written a number of articles on the relationship between science and the scriptures

Introduction

The historical impetus for the practice of classical Christian faith has always been fides quarens intellectum—faith seeking understanding. Few scholars in evangelical circles would contest this as a given. The arrival of the “age of biotechnology,” however, has thrown in a number of biotech twists and turns against the forging of an evangelical path guided by such a tried and true maxim. To navigate this course, Evangelicals need not only a healthy dose of cultural awareness but also a willingness to engage in logical analysis. On the one hand, there is the “What has God wrought?” spirit of sci-fi wonderment when looking at technology’s accomplishments. On the otherhand, there is the “How far, God, will you allow this to go?” inquiry at the other end of the spectrum.

Loosely defined, biotechnology is a term referring to the host of biological/genetic techniques utilized for purposes of alleged human beneficence. Biotechnology as a contemporary discipline, then, is replete with complexity and rapid advance, making it difficult to become acquainted with, much less plumb the depths of, each new technological innovation that inevitably comes along. The word genethics is also used frequently and serves as a clever synonym for biotechnology, but due to its very etymology (gene + ethics) the word itself seems to give more credence to whatever ethical considerations are involved. Years ago one writer related, “It is now becoming possible to insert, recombine, rearrange, edit, program, and produce human and other biological materials just as our ancestors were able to heat, burn, melt, and solder together various inert materials.”1 Today such a description is passé when juxtaposed against present-day genethics programs and their plans for additional research.

Purpose of the Essay

The purpose of this essay, above all else, is to inform and raise questions for further study. Christian faith should always seek to understand the technocultural scene of which it is a part, whether on the order of bioethics, biomedicine or biotechnology per se, or at the level of more commercially creative, profit-making technologies meant (with the best of intentions perhaps) to make our lives easier, more productive and more fulfilled. Bu...

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