Technology’s Benefits and Drawbacks for Humanity Will Be Focus of Baylor Symposium Oct. 25-27

Article ID: 594933

Released: 16-Oct-2012 11:30 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Baylor University

Newswise — “Technology and Human Flourishing” will be the theme of the 2012 Baylor University Symposium on Faith and Culture, hosted by Baylor's Institute for Faith and Learning, on Thursday, Oct. 25, through Saturday, Oct. 27.

“Technology changes us—and the world around us—in countless ways,” said Darin H. Davis, Ph.D., assistant professor of philosophy and director of the Institute for Faith and Learning at Baylor. “It eases our labor, cures diseases, provides abundant food and clean water, enables communication and travel across the globe, and expands our knowledge of the natural world and the cosmos . . .

“But technological advance is not without complication, and even ardent proponents of technology recognize that our present age of innovation is fraught with concern for unintended consequences."

The event deals with how technology contributes to and at times compromises human flourishing, Davis said.

Technology has implications for theology -- Christianity in particular, he said.

“Technology that eases our labor can detach us from a meaningful sense of work. What can cure disease also can encourage us to view the human body as something to be engineered, modified, and immortalized. Techniques that produce more food from less land can have ruinous, long-term effects on the environment. Likewise, even as technology makes possible instant communication with others around the world, it often creates distance between ourselves and people near to us . . . As technology provides ever increasing knowledge, we quite reasonably wonder whether such knowledge is being used to bring about a wiser, more just world.”

Speakers will include:--Lori Baker, Ph.D., director of Reuniting Families, an effort to identify and repatriate to families the remains of undocumented immigrants who die crossing the southern U.S. border. Her work has been featured in Discovery Magazine, National Geographic, NPR, The Washington Post, USA Today, MSNBC and The Wall Street Journal.An associate professor of anthropology at Baylor, her research interests include forensic science and human rights. --Patrick J. Deneen, Ph.D., Frank Potenziani Chair of Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He served as principal speechwriter for Joseph Duffey, former director of the United States Information Agency. He authored The Odyssey of Political Theory and Democratic Faith and received the American Political Science Association's Leo Strauss Award for Best Dissertation in Political Philosophy in 1995.--Jean Geran, founder and president of Each, Inc., an organization committed to building and providing technology to support those working to care for and protect vulnerable children globally. She has been a member of the policy planning staff at the U.S. Department of State responsible for issues including human rights, trafficking in persons, child protection, refugee policy and governance.--Ian H. Hutchinson, Ph.D., is professor of nuclear science and engineering and the Alcator Project Co-principal of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Monopolizing Knowledge: A Scientist Refutes Religion-Denying, Reason-Destroying Scientism.--S. Kay Toombs is associate professor emeritus of philosophy at Baylor University. Diagnosed in 1973 with multiple sclerosis, she explores her firsthand experience of chronic progressive debilitating disease in order to reflect on issues relating to the experience of illness and disability, the care of the chronically ill, the challenges of incurable illness and the relationship between health care professionals and patients. She is the author of The Meaning of Illness: A Phenomenological Account of the Different Perspectives of Physician and Patient.--Peter Kilpatrick, Ph.D., founding director of the North Carolina Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center from 2004 to 2007. He is the Matthew H. McCloskey Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame and teaches a course in technology, engineering, and ethics at Notre Dame. --Nancey Murphy, Ph.D., professor of Christian philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary. She serves on the board of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Berkeley, and is a member of the executive committee of the International Society for Science and Religion. Her book Theology in the Age of Scientific Reasoning received the American Academy of Religion's Award for Excellence and the Templeton Award for best book in theology and science. --Rosalind W. Picard, founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group, co-director of the Things That Think Consortium, and leader of the Autism & Communication Technology Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is also co-founder, chief scientist and chairman of Affectiva, Inc. Picard holds multiple patents, having developed a variety of new sensors, algorithms, and systems for sensing, recognizing, and responding respectfully to human affective information.--Russell R. Reno, editor of First Things. His books include Fighting the Noonday Devil—and Other Essays Personal and Theological, In the Ruins of the Church: Sustaining Faith in an Age of Diminished Christianity and Redemptive Change: Atonement and the Christian Cure of the Soul. --Ralph Wood is University Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor. He formerly taught at Wake Forest University, Samford University, Regent College and Providence College. His books include Chesterton: The Nightmare Goodness of God, Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South, Contending for the Faith: Essays in the Church's Engagement with Culture, and The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth.

For a schedule, visit

Regular registration is $175; student registration is $75. Group registration pricing may be available for students attending with faculty sponsors. A group's faculty sponsor should contact the Institute for Faith and Learning. To register, visit . To learn more, call (254) 710-4805 or email

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITYBaylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR FAITH AND LEARNINGThe Institute for Faith and Learning was founded in 1997 to assist Baylor in achieving its mission of integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment, and its goal of becoming a university of the first rank committed to its Baptist and Christian heritage. Since its founding, the Institute has developed several major programs to cultivating research, sponsor conferences, mentor students and encourage teaching faithful to the Christian intellectual tradition.


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