Culture & Wordview

The Coming Dystopia: Technology and Human Obsolescence

Jul 15th, 2017 | By
iipi071517

This summer I have read two books which present an overview of humanity that is both enlightening and shocking. Written by Yuval Noah Harari, whose Ph.D. is from Oxford and who now teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the books have profoundly affected me: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2015) and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2017). Harari combines insights from genetics, anthropology, cultural studies, as well as social and epistemological history in his two books. In his first book Harari argues for three broad “revolutions” in the history of humankind: . . . Harari’s second book looks to the future and Harari sees basically a dystopian future, which is what I am most interested in for this Perspective.



In Vitro Gametogenesis: A New Revolution in Reproductive Technology?

Jul 8th, 2017 | By
iipi20170706

The newest development in reproductive technology promises to be far more controversial than in vitro fertilization (IVF), which accounts for about 70,000, or almost 2%, of the babies born in the US each year. [Indeed, more than 6.5 million babies have been born worldwide through IVF and related procedures.] According to Tamar Lewin reporting on this new development, “Within a decade or two, researchers say, scientists will likely be able to create a baby from human skin cells that have been coaxed to grow into eggs and sperm and used to create embryos to implant in a womb. The process, in vitro gametogenesis, or IVG, so far has been used only in mice. But stem cell biologists say it is only a matter of time before it could be used in human reproduction—opening up mind-boggling possibilities.” What are some of these possibilities?



Ben Sasse’s Solution to the Emerging Adult Crisis in America

Jul 1st, 2017 | By
iipi20170701

Nebraska Senator, Ben Sasse, has written an enjoyable and important book entitled, The Vanishing American Adult. His book addresses what Jeffrey Arnett calls the “emerging adult” phenomenon in our culture. Because of technology and affluence, Sasse sees the nature of this “crisis” as centered in the “digital world” and its “polarizing effect, its tendency to favor emotion over reason, and because citizen engagement in a republic requires reasoned debate, critical thinking, the thoughtful contesting of ideas, and individuals willing to stand up for what they believe, even when challenged,” this crisis is serious. With the emerging adult, adolescence is perpetual and this reality threatens our republic and our freedom in a way not seen before.



Is Abortion “God’s Work?”

May 27th, 2017 | By
iipi20170527

In a recent editorial in the New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof gave focus to Dr. Willie Parker, who operates an abortion clinic. Parker has written his autobiography, entitled Life’s Work, in which he claims, “I believe that as an abortion provider, I am doing God’s work. I am protecting women’s rights, their human right to decide their futures for themselves, and to live their lives as they see fit.” Dr. Parker is an African-American Christian and an OB-GYN doctor who practices medicine in the South. Both Parker’s memoir and Kristof’s editorial make two claims: That only recently have evangelical Christians come to oppose abortion and that historically Christianity has not opposed abortion. Are these claims true?



Handling Guilt, Identity and Sin in a Secularized Culture

May 13th, 2017 | By
iipi20170513

One of my favorite writers today is David Brooks, and his recent book, The Road to Character, has challenged me in many ways. In a related essay, among the many points Brooks makes is that “religious frameworks no longer organize public debate . . . We have words and emotional instincts about what feels right and wrong, but no settled criteria to help us think, argue and decide.”



The Pernicious Results of a Secularized Culture

Apr 22nd, 2017 | By
iipi20170422

The familiar term “secularism” is often used today to define the ideology of western civilization, for it refers to the absence of any binding theistic authority or belief. Theologian Albert Mohler further defines its companion, “secularization,” as “a concept and a sociological process whereby societies become less theistic and they become more modern. Secular societies therefore drift toward conditions where there is little if any theistic belief and the rejection of any binding authority at all.”



Identity Politics as Theology: The Case of Princeton and Pastor Tim Keller

Apr 8th, 2017 | By
iipi040817

Princeton Theological Seminary has a rich heritage, often intertwined with the history of the United States. Founded about 1726 by William Tennent (then known as the Log College), it contributed to providing a real need for colonial Presbyterianism—college-educated ministers. In colonial America, most prospective pastors needed to study in Europe and then return to the colonies to serve. Over the next several decades of the 18th century, numerous connections developed between the Log College and the founding of the College of New Jersey, later known as Princeton University (and Seminary). . . But the Princeton of history is not the Princeton of today.



Thinking Biblically about The Shack: The Movie (and the Book)

Mar 25th, 2017 | By
iipi032417

The movie, The Shack, has just been released in American theaters and is generating a similar level of discussion among Christians as did the book by the same title, which was published in 2010. William Young is a compelling, imaginative writer and the movie seeks to capture on film the same imaginative presentation of tragedy and God’s involvement and answer to such tragedy.



“Dignicide:” Can Euthanasia Ever Be Dignified?

Mar 18th, 2017 | By
iipi031817

The debate over the ethics of euthanasia within western civilization has taken a new turn. In London, a musical in the British theater scene has received rave reviews over the last year or so. It is “Assisted Suicide: The Musical,” created by Liz Carr, who suffers from a genetic disorder that prevents her from extending her muscles, among other impairments. That “Assisted Suicide: The Musical” is being received so well (often to standing ovations) is puzzling, for western civilization is embracing assisted suicide with a passion.



Evangelicals, a Free Press and Donald Trump

Mar 11th, 2017 | By
iip031117

Among the various voting blocs in the United States, 81% of Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump for president in 2016. There were undoubtedly many reasons for this unbridled allegiance to a man who, in terms of character, honesty and lifestyle, only a few years ago would never have earned their vote. But his opponent was Hillary Clinton and most evangelicals viewed her as a worse choice. In my reading and in my conversations with evangelical Christians, the consensus among evangelicals seems to be that God has given us a political “savior” who will lead America back to its roots. He will bring about an America that is great economically, culturally and spiritually.