While the astronauts of Apollo 16 successfully carried out their incredibly complex technical mission, a colloquy relating theology and technology was in full swing in Strasbourg, France. Cosponsored by the renowned Faculty of Protestant Theology of the university, whose history began with Calvin and Bucer, and by Syracuse University’s Religion Department, where the death-of-God movement originated, this conference brought together such noted speakers as Jacques Ellul, death-of-God-er Gabriel Vahanian, and hermeneutic specialist Hans-Georg Gadamer.
Among invited observers were a number of prominent theologians from both sides of the Atlantic; the international gamut ran from Bultmann critic Fritz Büri to the University of Chicago’s Langdon Gilkey. Though ironically hobbled by a severe technical difficulty—the lack of simultaneous translation of French lectures into English for the benefit of monoglot Americans (Gilkey lost his temper when asked to pose a question in French)—the colloquy raised some exceedingly vital questions on the place of theological thinking in the modern technical age.
Secular specialists threw down their gauntlets before the theologians. Physicist Astier of the Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, lucidly summarized the technological world-view: the universe evolves from an original ball of gas; the “higher” aspects of human life must be understood in naturalistic terms—philosophical or religious quests for meaning (the Logos) are ultimately derived from sexuality, which in turn relates to the development of human consciousness; genetic mechanisms are the key to solving the problems of man and society.
Desroches, a sociologist of religion, who earlier this year participated in a dialogue with theology-of-hope ...1
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