In the first part of the book, Barbour investigates different views about technology, ranging from technology as liberator, to technology as threat, to technology as an instrument of power. He also looks at human and environmental values and their relation to to technology (science), philosophy and religion, arguing that, in the end, the Christian ethic and worldview offers the best and most distinct answer. In the second part, Barbour focuses on three key technologies: agriculture, energy, and computers. He assesses how all three technologies can be used for the greatest good, arguing in terms of sustainability, renewability and social impact. The third part of the book focuses on the future of technology, and the incredible potential for both good and evil inherent in technological advances. He looks at environmental degradation, and how it can be slowed and reversed. He also looks at genetic engineering and nuclear weapons. His focus is on the proper control of technology, through the government, along with proper risk and cost-benefit analysis, and argues that we need to redirect technology with a view toward ethics, values and sustainability.
Barbour is a Christian and a scientist, which makes him uniquely qualified to discuss the ethics of technology. His thorough understanding of the issues, and his passion to influence those issues in an ethical manner combine to create a readable and practical book, which will shape the face of technological ethics. And his call for Christians to lead the ethical assault on technology cannot be ignored.
Publication Date: 1992
Dimensions: 6 X 9 X 1 (inches)
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Human Dignity in the Biotech Century: A Christian Vision for Public PolicyCharles W. ColsonInterVarsity Press / 2004 / Trade Paperback$21.60 Retail:
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The Gifford Lectures have challenged our greatest thinkers to relate the worlds of religion, philosophy, and science. Now Ian Barbour has joined ranks with such Gifford lecturers as William James, Carl Jung, and Reinhold Neibuhr. In 1989 Barbour presented his first series of Gifford Lectures, published as Religion in an Age of Science. In 1990 he returned to Scotland to present his second series, dealing with ethical issues arising from technology and exploring the relationship of human and environmental values to science, philosophy, and religion and showing why these values are relevant to technological policy decisions.
In examine the conflicting ethics and assumptions that lead to divergent views and technology, Barbour analyzes three social values: justice, participatory freedom, and economic development. He defends such environmental principles as resource sustainability, environmental protection, and respect for all forms of life. He present case studies in agriculture, energy policy, genetic engineering, and the use of computers. Finally, he concludes by focusing on appropriate technologies, individual life-styles, and sources of change: education, political action, response to crisis, and alternative visions of the good life.
Ian G. Barbour has retired from Carleton College where he was professor of physics, professor of religion, and Bean Professor of Science, Technology, and Society. The "preeminent synthetic in the field" (Cross Currents,) he is the author of several influential books, including Ethics in an Age of Technology and Myths Models, and Paradigms, which was nominated for the National Book Award. He gave the world-renowned Gifford Lectures, 1989-1991.