Both artificial intelligence and genetic engineering have enormous potential benefits for the health and welfare of humanity, but there are also risks. Artificial intelligence is using computers to mimic human thought processes and decision making. The possible threat here is that computers may surpass or even displace humanity. Genetic engineering is editing DNA genes. This can potentially be used to mitigate or eliminate genetic diseases, enhance human athletic or intellectual performance, improve health, or substantially prolong life. Dr Fazale Rana, from Reasons to Believe (RTB), spoke to us on “Artificial Intelligence and Genetic Engineering”. This is based on his book “Humans 2.0: Scientific, and Theological Perspectives on Transhumanism”. The Kindle edition is available from https://www.amazon.com.au/Humans-2-0-… for $11.99. The initial sections are on gene editing using CRISPR-Cas9, Brain Computer interfaces (BCI) and artificial body parts. These can be used to heal diseases or adverse genetic conditions. A prime example is the Cochlear ear implant, which is now used to enable deaf people to hear. This is great, but these techniques also have the potential capability to enhance human capabilities to create a new super humanity, which is more controversial.
Dr Fazale Rana has a PhD in biochemistry. He was brought up in an atheist family, but describes his conversion as follows:
“As a graduate student studying biochemistry, I was captivated by the cell’s complexity, elegance, and sophistication. The inadequacy of evolutionary scenarios to account for life’s origin compelled me to conclude that life must come from a Creator. Reading through the Sermon on the Mount convinced me that Jesus really was who Christians claimed him to be: Lord and Saviour.”
In 1999 he left his position in research and development to join Reasons to Believe and is now Vice President of Research and Apologetics.
In the first century Christianity (especially in the person of Jesus) raised the status of women dramatically in comparison with the prevailing Greek, Roman and Jewish cultures. Women played a key role in the rise of Christianity within the Roman empire. In fact, Christianity was mocked for being a religion filled with women.
However, some of the contemporary cultural male/female roles and practices (such as head coverings) were maintained, which now seem out of touch with modern egalitarian western views, especially those arising from the feminist movement. This is sometimes an object of ridicule that may cause some to dismiss Christianity as old-fashioned and irrelevant. So, is there an essential difference between a Biblical view and modern western values? If so, who is right?
The topics that will be discussed are:
What is sexism?
What were the cultural influences in the 1st century?
What does Genesis say?
How were women viewed in the Old Testament?
How did Jesus treat women?
What were Paul’s views on the role of women?
Are they still applicable?
How should we respond?
I would have preferred that this topic be presented by a woman, but I am the only one who has put their hand up so far; and I happen to be a man.
Kevin Rogers is the director of Reasonable Faith Adelaide and is a member of Ingle Farm Baptist Church. He is also an engineering researcher and research supervisor at the University of South Australia.
Transhumanism is the belief that humanity can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations by means of science and technology.
Already today there are huge advances:
Gene Editing enables cures (yes cures) for a number of terrible diseases, as well as the promise of many more, including cancers, diabetes and heart disease.
Brain Computer Interfaces are already being used to overcome paralysis and loss of limbs and may offer help for issues as diverse as dementia.
There are also AI powered scientific breakthroughs that may well yield radical life extension and even start to reverse aging.
Transhumanists believe that we have a moral obligation to take control of human evolution to prevent suffering and overcome our biological limitations, including death.
It sounds like science fiction, but much of the above is already happening and so much more is highly likely within the next 5-10 years. Given our secular society in the West, perhaps it should be no surprise that a growing and influential minority of voices have started to look to this science and technology “for salvation” to solve much of our suffering, and perhaps even death itself. Transhumanists believe that humanity now has the ability and the moral obligation to take charge of our own evolution. Yet it turns out that this serves to highlight the importance of the Christian worldview.
We all know that our planet is special. But how unique is it really? Is there any evidence that pertains to our existence being extraordinary?
Join Gordon and Bronwyn as they explore this fascinating topic on what science has actually uncovered about the universe’s beginning and the features of our place in space that contribute to earth’s unique features. This will be a joint presentation from Bronwyn Pearse and Gordon Stanger.
Bronwyn Pearse is a primary school teacher who currently works with a number of people from different religious backgrounds. Having grown up in a Christian family she has always enjoyed asking questions and digging deeper into the truth claims of Christianity. In recent years she has been exploring what makes Christianity unique amongst the world religions and the scientific evidence for a creator found, particularly in cosmology. During Bronwyn’s talk she refers to a couple of key web links. These can be found at https://reasons.org and https://reasons.org/connect-to-a-scho….
Dr Gordon Stanger is a geologist, hydrologist, water resources specialist, and a climate-change impact analyst. He is semi-retired and is a keen advocate of ‘sensible Christianity’. He has spoken on several occasions at our meetings. He is very knowledgeable on scientific issues, and we greatly appreciate his contribution.
Bronwyn and Gordon’s joint presentation can be viewed on YouTube.
In 2020, in response to covid19, churches around the world were forced to close their buildings, many of which are still closed today.
The common initial response to this closure by the local church was to “put the normal church service online” and to create online content and an online production. As a result, many local churches became far more aware of the state of technology, its interplay with culture and the online world in general. Yet it appears there is a very strong widespread desire to return to the comfort of church, much as it was operating in a pre-covid world. In this talk, we are going to explore aspects of how technology has been shaping the environment that the church exists in and how covid is revealing that environment. So, is a simple return to pre-covid church operation and strategy more about our comforts than our mission? In addition, we will examine some approaches for using technology to reach a tech-saturated world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the very dark days of World War 1, Britain made agreements with both the Arabs and the Jews regarding the land, then known as Palestine, to seek short term assistance to win “The Great War”. As an inevitable consequence, both Arabs and Jews believed they had received a promise that they would possess that land, but the contradictory promises resulted in growing anger and conflict between Arabs and Jews in that land. By 1947 Britain, so weary after World War 2, had had enough of this conflict and, on 29th November 1947, the United Nations agreed to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The conflict has been going on ever since.
Notwithstanding climate denialism, the long-term human implications of climate-change are alarming. World governments will not meet the Paris targets on climate change. We won’t even be close. Following a look at the science, we will examine the consequences of climate change from the perspective of climate-forced human migration. Some 3% of the projected global population will have no choice but to relocate, by about 2100. Nobody, not even the United Nations, which at least recognizes the problem, is doing anything about this looming crisis.
We were privileged to have Dr Hugh Ross give us a presentation on climate change. He covered the following topics:
Is climate change for real?
What can we do about it?
Just to warn you, he does believe it is real and is related to human activity, but he has some novel ideas on how it can be addressed without causing huge disruption to human flourishing.
You can purchase a Kindle version of his book on this topic from Amazon by clicking on the following link: Weathering Climate Change by Dr Hugh Ross.
Dr Hugh Ross was an astronomer/astrophysicist at the University of Toronto. He is the founder and president of Reasons to Believe, (www.reasons.org), and is the author of over 17 books including ‘The Creator and the Cosmos’, ‘Why The Universe is The Way it is ‘ and ‘Navigating Genesis.’ Ross has addressed students and faculty on over 300 campuses in the US and abroad and speaks at various churches and groups on a wide variety of science-faith topics. He runs a weekly meeting for sceptics and agnostics. He is asked to present to government agencies and atheists and leading contemporaries on the powerful evidence for a purpose filled universe.
Sex makes the world go round! Sexual attraction and the resulting sexual activity are vital to almost all forms of animal life, from the simplest to the most complex.
Without sex, life on planet earth would cease to exist. The variation in sexual activity across the animal realm is simply astounding. What is natural for wildlife, such as the birds and the bees and mammals and reptiles and fish and insects and everything else, and what are the implications for human sexuality?
Technology is invading every facet of our lives including our sex lives and relationships; and the pace and breadth of technological change is staggering. We are adopting this technology into our lives and are often unaware and of the real “costs” to us, our societies and our relationships.
In this talk we will briefly survey the landscape of technology that affects our existence in the world as “sexual beings” and then look in detail at some of the darker and more damaging areas of this landscape. Examples are high speed internet pornography, the growing evil of child sexual exploitation and how technology is enabling “new” evils to be visited on the vulnerable.
We will look at this topic from a “largely secular” perspective. However, on many issues, such as the challenges and evils of child exploitation, there is good agreement between people of faith and secular minded people. Still there are significant and obvious implications here for the Church, which we will highlight.
Tom Daly is an IT professional, with over 30 years’ experience and is a graduate of the University of Adelaide. Tom has been asking tough questions of his Christian faith for many years now and is confident that the more scrutiny orthodox Christian faith is subjected to the more it provides a coherent (and breathtaking) worldview.