As an electrical engineer, Derek Schuurman wondered, what do bits and bytes have to do with Christian beliefs? Sitting in a cubicle farm in the high technology industry, he had difficulty understanding what his work had to do with the Kingdom of God.
In a concise and accessible style, Schuurman explores a wide range of topics from why making technology is fun to why technology is more than technical. Besides technical implications; the high-tech world also has substantial legal, ethical, political, social, and other non-technical implications. Computer Science thus needs to avoid reductionism and respect the diversity and complexity in creation.
While technology is not neutral, neither is there an exclusively "Christian" form of technological production and use. So the author centers his view of the digital world on the grand themes of creation, fall, redemption and new creation. Responsible used, technology can become an integral part of God's shalom for the earth. With penetrating cultural and theological analysis, Schuurman places computer technology within the big picture of the biblical story.
Digital technology has become a ubiquitous feature of modern life. Our increasingly fast-paced world seems more and more remote from the world narrated in Scripture. But despite its pervasiveness, there remains a dearth of theological reflection about computer technology and what it means to live as a faithful Christian in a digitally-saturated society. In this thoughtful and timely book, Derek Schuurman provides a brief theology of technology, rooted in the Reformed tradition and oriented around the grand themes of creation, fall, redemption and new creation. He combines a concise, accessible style with penetrating cultural and theological analysis. Building on the work of Jacques Ellul, Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman, and drawing from a wide range of Reformed thinkers, Schuurman situates computer technology within the big picture of the biblical story. Technology is not neutral, but neither is there an exclusively "Christian" form of technological production and use. Instead, Schuurman guides us to see the digital world as part of Gods good creation, fallen yet redeemable according to the law of God. Responsibly used, technology can become an integral part of Gods shalom for the earth.
Derek C. Schuurman (Ph.D., McMaster University) is associate professor of computer science and chair of the computer science department at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario. Schuurman is a professional engineer (P.Eng.) in the province of Ontario, holding memberships with the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences (ACMS) and the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE). Coauthor of (with R.S. Ramshaw, 1997), Schuurman is also an active researcher and speaker in the areas of robotics and computer vision as well as faith and technology issues.
Schuurman's book is a rare jewel: rare because it is unusual to find genuinely helpful and insightful material on a Christian approach to computer science, a jewel because the author combines impeccable credentials as an engineer with wide reading in history, theology and philosophy to produce a readable and insightful treatment of the topic. I recommend it highly.
Redeemer University College
Admitting that technology is a human cultural activity that is 'value laden,' Schuurman does not juxtapose technology and theology oppositionally, but instead offers an optimistic vision of how belief imbues technology with greater purpose; he also takes time to critique humanity's negative use of technology and discusses some of technology's potential pitfalls...the book is succinct enough to keep even the non-technical reader engaged.
"There are many books on technology. This book is exceptional and very special. Everyone who wants to understand the real meaning of the digital world has to read this biblically oriented and wise book.
professor emeritus at the universities of Delft, Eindhoven and Wageningen, and author of Technology and the Future: A Philosophical Challenge
The little machines we now hold in our hands are not neutral. We make them, but they mold us. This book is an invitation to first recognize this and then think through its implications. Neither reactionary dismissal nor uncritical embrace, Schuurman roots technology in a biblical theology of culture, demonstrating that the Reformational tradition has gifts to offer the wider church. A fresh resource for Christian reflection on both computer science and our everyday digital lives.
-James K. A. Smith,
Gary & Henrietta Byker Professor of Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview, Calvin College
What does it mean to be a Christian in today's high-tech world? This one-of-a-kind book deftly mixes computing technologies and biblical wisdom with the thoughts of people like Fred Brooks, Jacques Ellul, Donald Knuth, Marshall McLuhan, Plato, Neil Postman, Eric Raymond, Linus Torvalds and Sherry Turkle. The result is a heady brew exploring the implications of Christianity for our digital lives. Engagingly written, this book is a must-read for high-tech Christians interested in the question of how their faith and their technology relate to one another.
professor of computer science, Calvin College
Reflecting a deep understanding of both computer technology and of biblical truths, Derek Schuurman draws parallels between the two that enlighten our understanding and deepen our faith. He shows how a field as technical as computer science can be relevant to spirituality, encouraging every one of us to connect our vocation with our faith. Anyone dabbling in technology and interested in scriptural teaching would benefit from his insights.
executive director of the American Scientific Affiliation
Shaping a Digital World is ideal as a textbook for computer science courses, but it should also appeal to science and technology readers from any Christian tradition.
-Burton K. Janes
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