Christian Scholarship and the Philosophical Analysis of Cyberspace Technologies

By Groothuis, Douglas | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, December 1998 | Go to article overview

Christian Scholarship and the Philosophical Analysis of Cyberspace Technologies


Groothuis, Douglas, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


DOUGLAS GROOTHUIS*

I. THE CHALLENGE TO THE CHRISTIAN SCHOLAR

The recent explosion of cyberspace technologies in modern culture raises some salient questions for Christian scholars who endeavor to bring a Christian mind to bear on the analysis of these computer-mediated forms of communication. Responsible Christian scholars should serve both the Church and the culture at large by bringing Biblical tools of cultural analysis to the matters at hand. We should emulate the Hebrew tribe of Issachar "who understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chr 12:32). As Christians we are commanded to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Cor 10:5) and to be "transformed through the renewing of our minds" (Rom 12:2) in order to know the will of God in our day. These imperatives are especially cogent for the Christian scholar, whose public role of articulating perspectives to students, peers and the population at large constitutes an important teaching ministry. Although we may not teach in a local church in an official position, Christian scholars face the challenge of sober and careful thinking, writing and public speaking, for "we who teach will be judged more strictly" (Jas 3:1).

Those who hold a Christian worldview need to discern the nature and function of cyberspace interactions in order to appraise rightly their significance, worth, and potential for the Christian cause and the culture at large. Several recent philosophical and cultural analyses of cyberspace and its culture have applied various non-Christian viewpoints from postmodernism to pantheism. One's philosophical orientation will to a large measure determine which questions to ask and what proposals to make with respect to cyberspace. For instance, Jeff Zaleski repeatedly asks the question of whether cyberspace can transmit prana, a Hindu term for spiritual energy.l For Christians who do not believe in the existence of prana (an impersonal pantheistic force) the question is moot.2

A thoroughly Christian analysis of cyberspace brings to bear the questions and imperatives that flow out of a Biblical understanding of life, such as how the Holy Spirit-not prana-may or may not operate in computermediated communication. This presents a challenge to the Christian scholar, since Scripture was written to a pretechnological culture. Nevertheless those who take the Bible as God's inspired revelation believe that it continues to be "useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17).

This project is multifaceted, and I will not touch on important matters such as electronic privacy (surveillance and encryption), copyright policies, on-line pornography, the nature of artificial intelligence, and so forth. I will focus on the definition and nature of cyberspace (metaphysics), how this medium shapes its message in one particular dimension (social epistemology), and how Christians should resist any cyberspace orientation that diminishes the incarnational or embodied reality of the Christian enterprise (theological ethics).

II. WHAT IS CYBERSPACE?

The term "cyberspace" was coined by the fiction writer William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer in 1984. It is a compound neologism formed from "cybernetics" ("the study of the communication and manipulation of information in service of the control and guidance of biological, physical, or chemical energy systems"3) and "space." Gibson wrote imaginatively of minds "jacking in" to cyberspace by literally entering the world of computer information through a kind of digital incarnation in which the flesh becomes data, but the term cyberspace more generally refers to the information interface between computers and humans. It is the place or space where human consciousness and computer systems meet or, in Michael Heim's words, "the juncture of digital information and human perception. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Christian Scholarship and the Philosophical Analysis of Cyberspace Technologies
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.