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.

Does the church know it has a technology challenge?Much has been made of the death of books, television and newspapers in the Internet Age. Even if one is looking for crystal-ball gazing about the death of the church and faith, a quick Google search can yield a number of results – some which are relevant and others that are not.

Should pastors do such a search or pay attention to its results? What technology should the church embrace and what is the church’s role in a technologically driven society?

Facing technology issues are nothing new for the church but the church has not seen this much change in communication since the introduction of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg, whose masterwork is known as the Gutenberg Bible.

By some the church is viewed online as having changed little since Gutenberg’s time! But a closer look at the Internet reveals that the worldwide church has come to embrace Facebook and other web communities as well as creating new sources of information online about theology and faith. The range is astounding, one can find just about anything of interest (of which Covalence may be just one example!), no matter how esoteric!

The challenge is always how to remain current, especially when society questions Christianity’s relevance in modernity. Some of these issues cannot be solved in a series of blogs, but dialogue online and in person is a good place to begin. For instance, in a bid to improve our content and resources for lay people and pastors interested in theology and science, we here at Covalence are preparing for a cyber face lift in order to give a fresh look and feel to the content we provide each month. (Within two months-stay tuned!)

The electronic makeover in church communications is more than skin deep however. For pastors and parishes considering what they need to be doing in cyberspace, there are a number of issues to consider. Whether the church can be effective (and still be the church) in cyberspace is of interest to our very own George Murphy, Theological Editor, this month.

The use of technology in general is often very personal, even though it is more public these days thanks to the Internet. There are other technologies to consider though. The debate over the validity of the use of VSELs is just one topic mentioned in our news section; it is related to questions over the use of embryonic stem cells.

Another technological topic that the church seems to be taking greater interest in concerns what neuroscience is suggesting about who we are and what we believe. More research is likely to be funded in this area, but the findings so far are generating interest. For those in the Chicago area, a lecture series taking place this fall and spring at Dominican University (see this month’s Calendar section) is taking a look at human consciousness and how it plays a role in religion, criminality and mysticism.

The church’s challenge with technology and science may often come from individuals’ uncertainty over what the technology is actually capable of accomplishing. As with all change, there are positive and negative attributes. At the same time, the church ought to be challenging the unreflective use of technology. Simply weighing functional concerns against benefits is not sufficient morally or theologically. Asking the right questions about what it means to be human and a creator/user of technology can make all the difference if the church is to fulfill its role, which sometimes includes tackling the perception of being die-hard technophobes.

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