Susan is an author with a long-time interest in religion and science. She currently edits Covalence, the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology’s online magazine. She has written articles in The Lutheran and the Zygon Center for Religion and Science newsletter. Susan is a board member for the Center for Advanced Study of Religion and Science, the supporting organization for the Zygon Center and the Zygon Journal. She also co-wrote Our Bodies Are Selves with Dr. Philip Hefner and Dr. Ann Pederson.

The war in Ukraine has thrown us into thinking about our past World Wars and has us anxiously thinking about our future. In the realm of faith and science, the future can often be filled with wonder and a sense of something better being on the horizon due to technology and our own human ingenuity. 

This month, Phil Hefner takes us on a journey on what may be thought of as a glimpse into what co-creators are ultimately capable of in a world in need of yet another way to solve its problems. The weight of the responsibility in that kind of creating is not without the need to reflective on longer term impacts of disruptive technologies in medicine and more pervasive technologies such as A.I.

In this month’s feature, which is a chapter of a forthcoming book from Hefner, he writes, “Does our concept of the human include extending longevity as far as possible? Or enhancing human bodies and intelligence, and skills? For all practical purposes, we are at present answering all these questions with “Yes.” We may demur when the questions are put to us directly — transhumanism is scoffed at in many circles — but our behavior, for all practical purposes, affirms the transhumanist program.”

He digs deeper, however, into how such affirmations in themselves can shape our behavior.

Hefner in his work often looks to Hollywood and popular fiction to provide glimpses into our future. Films like 2021’s “Dune” allow us to safely look into what could be our future in the stars. Somehow though humanity’s ponderings are still very familiar. One of the quotes from a wise elder in the original 1965 novel of the same name written by Frank Herbert perhaps sums some of this up, “The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.” 

The reality is varied, and we also are curious about whether our reality matches those of others. With virtual reality and now even the metaverse coming to the forefront of our shared imagination, one must wonder whether our creativity will be on par to that of our ancestors.

And in looking back, particularly in the arena of religion and science, we highlight this month a new book that aims to document through objects in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History archives how Americans views on how faith and technology have changed over time.

Lastly, in our ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at how some scholars see digital media promoting safer behavior in faith communities.

We hope you enjoy this month’s combined issue,

Susan Barreto, Editor
Covalence
@luthcovalence
relandsci@gmail.com

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