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Beyond Paradise

Beyond Paradise

by Jack Clayton Swearengen


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Technology is shaping our culture and controlling our lives—for better or for worse. Often, technology's benefits far outweigh its negative impacts, and technological advances can seem boundless. But the scientific-technological worldview tends to override other value systems. Indeed, this technological way of thinking has influenced many contemporary ideas, beliefs, values, habits, and ways of communicating. Furthermore, in addition to technology's well-known environmental impacts, social, aesthetic, and spiritual consequences are now emerging. How can we balance positive physical effects of technology with other ambiguous or negative impacts?

Some of the decisions we face have no precedent from which to draw wisdom. For this reason, the resources of Scripture and the Christian tradition must be brought to bear on technological questions: How is technology used and abused today? Does technological progress lead to human progress? How can Scripture help us, both individually and collectively, to manage technology's impact in proactive ways?

Swearengen uncovers a comprehensive scriptural mandate for managing technology. On his way to a theology of technology, he evaluates which advances are moving society in directions consistent with God's purposes. Beyond Paradise: Technology and the Kingdom of God aims to provide practical means for assessing technology's influence and for steering technology and its effects toward biblical ends.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597528429
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 03/01/2007
Pages: 366
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

Dr. Jack Swearengen's career has included equipment design, research in materials science, and the application of science and technology to arms control and weapons dismantlement. He served as staff member, supervisor, and manager at Sandia National Laboratories, Scientific Advisor for the Secretary of Defense, and Professor and Founding Director of Engineering Programs at Washington State University in Vancouver. He was science advisor for the US delegation at the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr. Swearengen has published more than sixty articles in professional journals, including ten on technology and society. He has been deacon, elder, and Director of Education in local churches, administrator of

para-church organizations, and has taught adult classes for thirty years. He is a fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

In this "prophetic primer for church leaders," engineer Jack Swearengen draws on his personal and professional experience to alert Christians to the pervasive nature of technology in our world. He summarizes the views of both techno-optimists and doomsayers on the effects of technology, paying particular attention to "unintended consequences" and the limits that render our cherished "American way of life" sustainable for only a few more years. After a barrage of facts and figures supporting that unsustainability, he explores a biblically based "theology of technology," proposing a kind of Hippocratic responsibility for his fellow engineers and technologists. Swearengen's broad experience in industry, academia, weapons design, and policy-making has led him to the relatively new field of "industrial ecology," a more holistic and biblically compatible approach to engineering design. He conveys a sense of urgency in a book that abounds in detail and is both intellectually and spiritually challenging.

Walter Hearn, professor of Christianity and science at New College Berkeley, is a former biochemistry professor. He is the author of Being a Christian in Science (IVP) and other works on the interaction of science and faith.

"Jack Swearengen provides us with a sacrifice of love and insight in this valuable work. It is a labor of love in that he boldly ventures into areas to tell us that our best Biblical principles apply to the evaluation of science and technology. A trained engineer boldly steps out of his comfort zone into philosophy and cultural analysis to tell us our technological and scientific idols are failing us. He does this with passion, insight, and depth, traits often missing in today's get-it-down-now society. I highly recommend this book."

The Reverend Dr. Robert Wauzzinski, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Ball State University, President of Interfacing, and author of Discerning Prometheus

"Swearengen is a Jeremiah for our times, calling on Christians to stop the idolatrous worship of science and technology. Secular values are driving innovation, reshaping the world in ways neither environmentally nor spiritually sustainable. To counteract this, he recognizes, Christians must limit and shape technology using Biblical guidelines. Church leaders and others concerned about global warming, exhaustion of fossil fuels, human cloning, surveillance, violence, and other technology-implicated problems will find this wise and learned book a tremendous resource."

Edward Woodhouse, Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, author of Averting Catastrophe: Strategies for Regulating Risky Technologies

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