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Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology

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Digital technology has become a ubiquitous feature of modern life. Our increasingly fast-paced world seems more and more remote from the world narrated in Scripture. But despite its pervasiveness, there remains a dearth of theological reflection about computer technology and what it means to live as a faithful Christian in a digitally-saturated society. In this thoughtful Digital technology has become a ubiquitous feature of modern life. Our increasingly fast-paced world seems more and more remote from the world narrated in Scripture. But despite its pervasiveness, there remains a dearth of theological reflection about computer technology and what it means to live as a faithful Christian in a digitally-saturated society. In this thoughtful and timely book, Derek Schuurman provides a brief theology of technology, rooted in the Reformed tradition and oriented around the grand themes of creation, fall, redemption and new creation. He combines a concise, accessible style with penetrating cultural and theological analysis. Building on the work of Jacques Ellul, Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman, and drawing from a wide range of Reformed thinkers, Schuurman situates computer technology within the big picture of the biblical story. Technology is not neutral, but neither is there an exclusively Christian form of technological production and use. Instead, Schuurman guides us to see the digital world as part of God's good creation, fallen yet redeemable according to the law of God. Responsibly used, technology can become an integral part of God's shalom for the earth.


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Digital technology has become a ubiquitous feature of modern life. Our increasingly fast-paced world seems more and more remote from the world narrated in Scripture. But despite its pervasiveness, there remains a dearth of theological reflection about computer technology and what it means to live as a faithful Christian in a digitally-saturated society. In this thoughtful Digital technology has become a ubiquitous feature of modern life. Our increasingly fast-paced world seems more and more remote from the world narrated in Scripture. But despite its pervasiveness, there remains a dearth of theological reflection about computer technology and what it means to live as a faithful Christian in a digitally-saturated society. In this thoughtful and timely book, Derek Schuurman provides a brief theology of technology, rooted in the Reformed tradition and oriented around the grand themes of creation, fall, redemption and new creation. He combines a concise, accessible style with penetrating cultural and theological analysis. Building on the work of Jacques Ellul, Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman, and drawing from a wide range of Reformed thinkers, Schuurman situates computer technology within the big picture of the biblical story. Technology is not neutral, but neither is there an exclusively Christian form of technological production and use. Instead, Schuurman guides us to see the digital world as part of God's good creation, fallen yet redeemable according to the law of God. Responsibly used, technology can become an integral part of God's shalom for the earth.

30 review for Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gabriela Bevenuto

    Uma aplicação maravilhosa dos pilares da cosmovisão cristã à tecnologia computacional. Gostaria de ter lido esse livro enquanto ainda cursava engenharia de telecomunicações.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Derek Shuurman, professor of Computer Science at Redeemer, Ontario, has done all Christian technophobes and technophiles a favour. He has written a superb book on how to view technology from a Christian perspective. This book could be described as Creation Regained upgraded for a computer age. Like Al Wolter's Creation Regained, Schuurman writes from an unashamedly neo-calvinist perspective. Kuyperian themes are embedded in the book. The first chapter introduces technology and exposes the myth th Derek Shuurman, professor of Computer Science at Redeemer, Ontario, has done all Christian technophobes and technophiles a favour. He has written a superb book on how to view technology from a Christian perspective. This book could be described as Creation Regained upgraded for a computer age. Like Al Wolter's Creation Regained, Schuurman writes from an unashamedly neo-calvinist perspective. Kuyperian themes are embedded in the book. The first chapter introduces technology and exposes the myth that technology is neutral; others deal with Creation (ch 2), Fall (ch 3) and Redemption (ch 4); structure and direction, the antithesis, Dooyeweerd's modal aspects and the norms associated with each are discussed in relation to computer technology (ch 4). This might give the impression that this book is only for graduates - this couldn't be further from the truth. The book will be accessible to most with a good secondary education. Four pages of discussions questions - a set for each chapter - provide an excellent basis for small group discussions. Further resources to support the book can be found on the book's companion website. The book began as a series of notes to the question: "What does my faith have to do with my work as an electrical engineer?" In the book Schuurman seeks to answer the question: "What do [computer] bytes have to do with Christian beliefs?" He ably shows us how a Christian worldview informed by the scriptures can help us see the lordship of Christ in the area of (computer) technology. This book is essential reading for all Christians who have contact with computers - and that would include most Christians! But even the Amish would find much here to illuminate and edify. If you are pastor buy several and give one to each of your students who are leaving for university in September. It will give them an excellent model through which to think about not only technology but also their chosen subject.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Felipe

    A useful account of the biblical implications of technology.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    A #sundayquickreads about how technology and faith interact and harmonize. Technology can be used for both good and bad, but the underlying idea is that technology is like everything else in this world: broken by the fall, but used for and in redemption. A more specific focal point than the more encompassing discussion in Gotham, the ideas are still similar and a good reminder of what I read and discussed a couple of years ago.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Schuurman provides an insightful discussion on technology and computer science from a neo-calvinist perspective. Recommended to those who seek to bring all areas of life under the lordship of Christ.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brian Taylor

    This book is an amazing look into the world of technology and computers specifically. The idea of subject of integrating faith, computers and culture in a book is not new, but Schuurman's views as presented in this very thought provoking book gives the reader much to consider about the technology that we have come to know and understand, as well as how we as Christians should be acknolwedging our "cultural mandate" to redeem it. There are portions of this book which when reading it remind you of This book is an amazing look into the world of technology and computers specifically. The idea of subject of integrating faith, computers and culture in a book is not new, but Schuurman's views as presented in this very thought provoking book gives the reader much to consider about the technology that we have come to know and understand, as well as how we as Christians should be acknolwedging our "cultural mandate" to redeem it. There are portions of this book which when reading it remind you of all the sci-fi movies and books that speak of how destructive technology can be if we don't have a proper relationship with it. It also shows just how far we have come with technology and the very real world challenges of handling it with a moral and ethical responsibly. I've personally felt that this has been one of the most insightful books that I've had to read in relationship to technology and how we as the Church should do our part to ensure that while we are using it well for ministry sake, that we are also personally aware of its dangers and handling it with care, ad not as the world has.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Luana Baratta

    Excelente livro! Nos leva a pensar se estamos usando a internet com ética e se estamos idolatrando a tecnologia nos tempos atuais. Onde expressa também que a informação não é neutra e devemos tomar nossa responsabilidade de transmitir Cristo através do nosso uso das tecnologias, usar para fazer o bem aos homens.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Markin

    Just like Black Mirror, technology isn't bad, we just mess it up. Just like Black Mirror, technology isn't bad, we just mess it up.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chase Pheifer

    Wasn't extremely ground breaking. Some helpful stuff - a very Dordt-ish technology book Wasn't extremely ground breaking. Some helpful stuff - a very Dordt-ish technology book

  10. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Barkley

    A short overview. Unique for the genre in that the author is a trained computer scientist. Its bibliography and citations are one sided, I think. It misses the middle ground.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leandro Dutra

    Ðe following review I wrote while annoyed by unruly fellow airplane passengers leaviŋ þeir small children uſe noiſy electronic toys, so I may have lacked long-sufferiŋ. It is quite grave that Schuurman speaks as looſely as he does, never riſiŋ above the common ſenſe, on a falſely so called teχnology — properly defined it is the ſtudy of teχnique, and that he does not do, doing little more than enumeratiŋ politically correct talking points in a neoevangelical varnish. His inſufficiency in dealiŋ w Ðe following review I wrote while annoyed by unruly fellow airplane passengers leaviŋ þeir small children uſe noiſy electronic toys, so I may have lacked long-sufferiŋ. It is quite grave that Schuurman speaks as looſely as he does, never riſiŋ above the common ſenſe, on a falſely so called teχnology — properly defined it is the ſtudy of teχnique, and that he does not do, doing little more than enumeratiŋ politically correct talking points in a neoevangelical varnish. His inſufficiency in dealiŋ with the ſubſtance of what he mentions lead to diſinformation, for example when he writes about free ſoftware licenſiŋ — as the name implies, it is licenſed, not given away, unleß it is releaſed to the public domain, which is actually quite rare — or, even worſe, when he uses the propaganda term ‘intellectual property’ for the four diſparate inſtitutes of time limited, artificial, government-created & granted private monopolies of copy rights, letters patents, trade marks & trade ſecrets. Ellul refused ðe word technology, sticking to more modest & precise technic, & for good reason: use of such high sounding, academic-like lingo, as incidentally foreign words for concepts already present in the vernacular, obscures how prosaic is ðe world around us — & its temptations. Moreover, it has been a long time since I read such a badly thrown together book. When I wrote just above that he enumerates politically correct talking points, I was quite literal — the text (one can barely call it a book) lacks a flow of articulate ideas, so the reader feels thrown away hiþer & tiþer, wiþout knowing whence ðe auþor (one is tempted to call him a compiler instead, but even so there are more readable compilations) comes from or where he goes. I would like to note it even lower, if not for his at least mentioning free ſoftware. Even ſo, I was let down for I came to this book becauſe ſomeone ſaid it contained a defenſe of free ſoftware baſed on Dooyeweerd‘s categories; it does mention a very superficial justification of free ſoftware, and it does liſt Dooyeweerd‘s categories, but it never tries to articulate free ſoftware — nor oðer stuff he mentions — to Doyeeweerd’s categories. Even worſe, ðe type of diſinformed Christian who sees no ißues wiþ usiŋ private, proprietary ſoftware will not probably ſtomach enough of Schuurman’s political correctneß to even read enough to reach his ſhort, unarticulated mention on ðe rationale for free ſoftware. Anoðer letdown was ðat ðe blurb promised Schuurman drew on Ellul, but he has noþiŋ of ðe Reformed trenchant demolition of idols Ellul had, even if Ellul ſurpriſingly was an Univerſalist. A friend aſked quite appropriately why ðen four ſtars. I felt ðis title could provoke a better converſation deſpite its flaws, but on reconſideration ðis is not enough to compenſate ðem, ſo þree ſtars it is.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Josiah

    This book was a surprisingly well-researched book that managed to combine elements from sophisticated philosophers, computer engineers, neo-Kuyperian thinkers, and contemporary technology theorizers to create a fairly complex and varied work. Unfortunately, for me, I found that a lot of the great parts of the book ended up being from the other thinkers that he referenced and quoted, rather than from his own unique thoughts. There were some elements of his neo-Kuyperian look at the issue that wer This book was a surprisingly well-researched book that managed to combine elements from sophisticated philosophers, computer engineers, neo-Kuyperian thinkers, and contemporary technology theorizers to create a fairly complex and varied work. Unfortunately, for me, I found that a lot of the great parts of the book ended up being from the other thinkers that he referenced and quoted, rather than from his own unique thoughts. There were some elements of his neo-Kuyperian look at the issue that were good, but I couldn't at times help but think that perhaps he was pushing some things a bit too far. And while he did bring original applications into the picture towards the end, a lot of his applications seemed to be targeted at the producers of digital technology rather than consumers of it. All of this is understandable given his background, but as a user of technology and not a producer, most of his applications weren't terribly applicable to me. Overall, this isn't a bad book on digital technology, and it certainly is extensively researched. But it also tends to jump rather quickly from one aspect to another, and while it quotes extensively, given the combination of a large scope and a rather short work, he doesn't delve into some issues as much as I would have liked. It gave me some food to think about. But I've gotten much more out of other books on the topic, and the specific appeal of this book--the neo-Kuyperian approach to technology--wasn't handled as well, or as directly applicable to me, as I would have liked it to be. Rating: 2.5-3 Stars (Okay).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Quick read that tried to do too much in too little space. I picked it up thinking it was geared toward those working in technology (in retrospect, I'm not sure why I thought that). However, the book also attempted to address consumer issues and matters of public policy, which watered down the content. It seems that the author had lofty goals for the book which were then cut down to size by the publisher, as a lot of thoughts are unexplored or presented without sufficient background. The constant Quick read that tried to do too much in too little space. I picked it up thinking it was geared toward those working in technology (in retrospect, I'm not sure why I thought that). However, the book also attempted to address consumer issues and matters of public policy, which watered down the content. It seems that the author had lofty goals for the book which were then cut down to size by the publisher, as a lot of thoughts are unexplored or presented without sufficient background. The constant assertion that "Technology is neutral", while also saying "technology can be used for both good and bad" seemed to be an odd definition of 'neutral'. In short, it was a quick read that didn't provide much additional insight. I'd recommend "The Next Story" by Tim Challies first to scratch a similar itch.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This was recommended in some Christian blog or magazine or something I had seen. What a bad recommendation. Unless the last 20 pages (which I just could not bring myself to finish) house some truly miraculous insights, this book was extraordinarily obvious throughout, offering almost nothing novel and interesting. If you have never, ever remotely considered how technology relates to theology and faith, this book MIGHT provide a useful framework. But if you are considering this book, you almost c This was recommended in some Christian blog or magazine or something I had seen. What a bad recommendation. Unless the last 20 pages (which I just could not bring myself to finish) house some truly miraculous insights, this book was extraordinarily obvious throughout, offering almost nothing novel and interesting. If you have never, ever remotely considered how technology relates to theology and faith, this book MIGHT provide a useful framework. But if you are considering this book, you almost certainly have thought about technology and faith to some extent, and as a result, you almost certainly have already discovered the most substantial thoughts from this book already, in your 15 second reflection.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    This book was written by Derek C Schuurman an associate professor of computer science and chair of the Mathematics/physics, computer science department at Redeemer University in Ontario. He also is a speaker and researcher in the area of robotics and computer vision as well as faith and technology issues. I guess I am not a deep enough scholar, as I could see the relevance to spirituality but the talk was way over my head. The format was good, discussion questions important and his research for This book was written by Derek C Schuurman an associate professor of computer science and chair of the Mathematics/physics, computer science department at Redeemer University in Ontario. He also is a speaker and researcher in the area of robotics and computer vision as well as faith and technology issues. I guess I am not a deep enough scholar, as I could see the relevance to spirituality but the talk was way over my head. The format was good, discussion questions important and his research for Intervarsity Academic excellent, so the fault is in my understanding of the material. It probably is a rare jewel for the technology driven Christian. Bible quotes were excellent and did their best to draw me in..

  16. 4 out of 5

    Harriette

    I attended an engaging workshop by this author in the fall and was refreshed by reading the book on which it was based. Too often we think of technology as a neutral entity. Schuurman points out that each technology has a built-in worldview that affects its users, whether they realize it or not. This balanced approach to computer technology through the lens of Reformed thought has something to say to those who love computers, those who use them and those who eschew them.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Calvin Sun

    A short and insightful read targeted at a generation that may find itself indifference to the advances of technology. The author tackled the subject by defining technology as non-neutral cultural activity with a structure and direction. This definition is then compare to biblical worldview and eschatology. Great read overall, especially for young christians and believers in any tech. industries!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Justin Bailey

    What a refreshing book! Schuurman does us a great service in bringing the neo-Calvinist framework to bear on questions of technology and computer science. Taking the structure of creation-fall-redemption-consummation as his organizing framework, he argues against technicism, reductionism and for governing norms (Dooyeweerd) for the way we think about the digital world.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Waxin

    Helpful overview framework to consider the relationship between technological development and human beings. I particularly find the Modal Aspect of Creation and the analysis of technology in such framework helpful. Style wise: very structured and concise.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Arnold Sikkema

    If you are interested in Christian worldview thinking at all, read this book! It's not just about computer science, but explains some great foundational ideas anyone can apply in their own sphere of life. If you are interested in Christian worldview thinking at all, read this book! It's not just about computer science, but explains some great foundational ideas anyone can apply in their own sphere of life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Victor Chininin

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trey Dunham

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

  24. 5 out of 5

    Victor Osorio

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alvin Natawiguna

  26. 5 out of 5

    Azariah

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Paetkau

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jiaming Jiang

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Jameson

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

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