Dr. Richard Land

When Does Technology Go Too Far?

May 18, 2015

Southern Evangelical Seminary Explores Intersection of Ethics and Technology during Summer Module Taught by Dr. Richard Land

CHARLOTTE, N.C.— Do travelers want airlines monitoring their emotions or health through their plane seats? Should a GPS device be able to track a person’s whereabouts down to the centimeter?

Both of these technological advancements (and many more) are within arm’s reach. However,Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) President Dr. Richard Land says the march of science must not outpace the guidance of ethics.

“We are on the threshold of a technology revolution of breath-taking dimensions,” Land said, “and we will be faced with a host of ethical and moral issues concerning human beings versus machines, particularly when we think about invasion of privacy—either via an airline seat or via a location tracker. Do human beings need to give in to this kind of invasion of their privacy, especially when it’s without their consent?”

This week, SES, a leader in apologetics education, will explore how ethics and technology impact each other during a special summer module taught by Land. The class, titled “A Christian Perspective of Ethics” and offered both on-campus and online, will delve into current headlines that consider these important and complex matters.

University students in the Netherlands, for example, have created an app that will tell airline personnel if a passenger is feeling anxious or ill via sensors in airplane seats. The Flightbeat app is still in the concept stage but is being seriously considered, according to a recent report in the UK’s Daily Mail.

Likewise, potential privacy concerns arise as a result of GPS technology spearheaded by researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas, who say centimeter-accurate GPS-based positioning systems could, for example, allow unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages to a specific spot on a customer’s back porch, according to The Independent, also out of the UK.

“With the possibility that technologies like these would fall into the hands of those with ill-intent, a conversation is in order about giving consent to or opting out of these possible invasions of privacy. I, for one, do not want my home to be searchable down to the centimeter. A world like this closely mirrors ‘1984’. In Orwell’s dark vision of the future, there was no privacy. Big Brother was always watching. In 2015 we are hurdling toward the threshold of this way of life.”

Land’s summer module, “A Christian Perspective of Ethics,” set for May 18-23 both on campus and online, will ask and answer such questions as “Who and what is a human being?” “Is a human being merely his physical nature?” and “Is a human being a separate creation of God and different in kind?”

“A Christian Perspective of Ethics,” which is part of SES’s ‘Ethics of Emerging Technologies’ initiative, will also explore the general question of “How should Christians live in the 21st Century?” Ethical problems arise every day for Christians and non-Christians, but many churches avoid discussing ethical issues when they should be providing Christians with the tools to navigate these dilemmas. Land will provide a study of ethical alternatives and issues from a Christian perspective.

“We’re exploring these queries at SES,” Land added, “helping Christians interact with and intelligently answer these unprecedented questions that confront us with the quantum leaps that are taking place in technology. SES exists to provide a synthesis of sound philosophy, classical apologetics and a cohesive theology for the glory of God in order to equip Christians to persuasively share their faith in a secular world.”

Land will also teach “Hamartiology and Soteriology” from June 8-13, which will cover the theological implications of sin as well as its implications for mankind. The course will also discuss the deep meanings of salvation and explore the depths of Christ’s work on the cross for all mankind. 

Land’s modules are just two of several offered this summer. For more information on additional courses, visit http://ses.edu/students/current/current-semester-courses.

SES is a leader in apologetics education—teaching students to defend their faith and talk intelligently, passionately and rationally about what they believe and why they believe it. Many courses focus on societal issues from a Christian worldview, delve into scientific apologetics or contemplate creation research.

SES’s 22nd annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics will be hosted by Calvary Church in Charlotte on Oct. 16-17, 2015, with the theme, “Ideas Have Consequences: The Bigger the Idea, the Bigger the Consequence.” In addition to Dr. Land, confirmed speakers include Josh McDowell, Dr. Jay Richards, Dr. Hugh Ross, Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. Paige Patterson.

Land is featured in his nationally syndicated daily radio commentary, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” which airs on 200 stations on the American Family Radio Network and 100 stations on the Bott Radio Network. “Bringing Every Thought Captive” is also podcast daily on the free SES mobile app and airs locally in the Charlotte, N.C., area every weekday. The “Bringing Every Thought Captive” television program, hosted by Land, debuted in January on the NRB Network, and airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and midnight EST. In May, it will begin airing on the Total Living Network, reaching nearly 2 million households in the Chicago area. For more information about stations, times, downloads and more, visit www.ses.edu/about-us/bringing-every-thought-captive.

Land has taught as a visiting or adjunct professor for several seminaries and has authored or edited more than 15 books. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University in England and his bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from Princeton University. Land also earned a Master of Theology degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received the Broadman Seminarian Award as the Outstanding Graduating Student. Dr. Land was the 2013 Watchman Award recipient from the Family Research Council for his leadership on moral and cultural issues. He also received the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth from Biola University in 2010. Land served previously (1988-2013) as president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention’s official entity assigned to address social, moral and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families. In 2014, he was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow of the ERLC’s Research Institute, and in 2015, he was named in the top 15 of Newsmax’s “Top 100 Christian Leaders in America.”

Southern Evangelical Seminary invites visitors to its web site to join the more than 20,000 people who have already downloaded the SES Apologetics App for Windows mobile devices and Android and Apple phones and tablets. Those with the app can get the very best news and information in Christian apologetics, including articles, audio, video, blogs and more from today’s most able defenders of the Christian faith—William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, William Dembski, Frank Turek, Hugh Ross, Gary Habermas and other well-known speakers, authors and teachers.

Southern Evangelical Seminary has been ranked No. 1 for its General Christian Apologetics Graduate Program by TheBestSchools.org’s “Top 10 Graduate Programs in Christian Apologetics.” For more information, visit the SES web site at www.ses.edu or its Facebook page, follow the SES Twitter feed, @sesapologetics, or call (800) 77-TRUTH.

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For information on SES or to set up an interview, contact Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716or 610-584-1096, or Beth Harrison, 610-584-1096Media@HamiltonStrategies.com.

Southern Evangelical Seminary is a leader in apologetics education—teaching students to defend their faith and talk intelligently, passionately and rationally about what they believe and why they believe it. The accredited Christian college and seminary in Matthews, N.C., offers a wide variety of bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Programs can be completed through residence in the Charlotte area or online. The award-winning education at SES is distinctively Christian and focused on evangelism and world-engaging defense of the Christian faith—Christian Apologetics.