Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A Christian perspective on scientific and technological developments

Many people associate religion as contrary to science. However, 40 years ago, the Kirk had the forethought to develop and finance the Society, Religion and Technology (SRT) project with the specific remit to examine and advice the Church of Scotland on the ethical and moral implication of technological and scientific advances.

Science and technology are ever changing. Advances in biological sciences or in digitalisation allow us to do things that were only science fiction when I was a child. Many of these advances pose acute ethical issues. Take for example the development of cloning, or issues surrounding genetically modified agriculture to name only a few.

Over the 40 years of its existence the SRT project has provided invaluable advice on topics right at the interchange between ethics and frontline research. Thanks to SRT’s foresight and the work of committed scientists, philosophers and theologians associated with the project last May I was able to write about the Kirk’s insight into developments in synthetic biology. We were the first religious institution to have addressed such a current topic and propose a Christian perspective.

I am therefore delighted to see that the SRT is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a conference at City Chambers in Edinburgh on the 20th of November. This conference will have distinguished scientists amongst the panel of speakers. In particular, I am quite keen to attend Prof. John Wyatt’s presentation on the ethical issues at the beginning and end of life. If anyone is interested in attending please send an email to this address.

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