Join us on Thursday 17 June at 3pm UK time for the final lecture in this year’s Open Lecture Series.
The Right Reverend Andrew Swift – Biography
Bishop Andrew Swift has been the Scottish Episcopal Bishop of Brechin (centred in Dundee) since August 2018. He has particular interests in healthy transitions and coping with conflict in churches. Prior to arriving in Dundee, he was in ministry in Argyll and The Isles having trained and served briefly in the Church of England. Prior to ordained ministry he had careers as a shipbuilding executive, an Admiralty research scientist and a junior engineering officer in the RAF. He was born in 1968 in Aberdeen and grew up in Dunblane. He has studied at the Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Oxford. Bishop Andrew is married to Mary, a native of Stranraer, and they have three adult children.
About the Lecture
There are many debates about science and faith, which often centre on the increase of human knowledge and explore if this narrows the scope for knowledge of the divine. As a former engineer, I lived with this field of application of human knowledge to control the world around us. This is actually very different to science: this is how science practically and cost-effectively changes things. Examples: Vaccines are a technology based on application of scientific knowledge of disease and now genetics. Air travel is a technology based on application of scientific understanding of airflows and material. Refrigeration (one of the most profound technologies – how on earth do you take energy out of something?) is an application of scientific understanding of liquids, pressures and energy. Humans have striven to control the environment around us from the earliest days when we picked up stones to use as tools, right through to picking up our smartphones to connect and interact and buy things. Science is knowledge about the world. Technology changes the world.
But where is the divine in this human story of control? As people of faith, we believe in an all-powerful God who has created the universe, the author of the scientific rules and principles. We may pray to the divine to intercede in the world. Scripture gives us examples of God acting in the world, directly and through human action. In the centuries of humans increasingly controlling the world, the question arises: “So what does God control?”
This lecture will briefly explore the history and nature of technology and the parallel development of religious beliefs and norms (focused on the Judaeo-Christian tradition). It will attempt to draw some conclusions about the ‘technological values’ of present-day society and how these relate to religious faith values.
Bishop Andrew Swift was a chartered mechanical engineer who worked in technology development and application for fifteen years before entering Christian ministry. He still has more engineering qualifications than theological ones.
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