Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology, By Derek C. Schuurman

Shaping a Digital World

Faith, Culture and Computer Technology

by Derek C. Schuurman

Shaping a Digital World
  • Length: 138 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: May 02, 2013
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 2713
  • ISBN: 9780830827138

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Digital technology has become a ubiquitous feature of modern life. Our increasingly fast-paced world seems more and more remote from the world narrated in Scripture. But despite its pervasiveness, there remains a dearth of theological reflection about computer technology and what it means to live as a faithful Christian in a digitally-saturated society.

In this thoughtful and timely book, Derek Schuurman provides a brief theology of technology, rooted in the Reformed tradition and oriented around the grand themes of creation, fall, redemption and new creation. He combines a concise, accessible style with penetrating cultural and theological analysis. Building on the work of Jacques Ellul, Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman, and drawing from a wide range of Reformed thinkers, Schuurman situates computer technology within the big picture of the biblical story.

Technology is not neutral, but neither is there an exclusively "Christian" form of technological production and use. Instead, Schuurman guides us to see the digital world as part of God's good creation, fallen yet redeemable according to the law of God. Responsibly used, technology can become an integral part of God's shalom for the earth.

"Schuurman's book is a rare jewel: rare because it is unusual to find genuinely helpful and insightful material on a Christian approach to computer science, a jewel because the author combines impeccable credentials as an engineer with wide reading in history, theology and philosophy to produce a readable and insightful treatment of the topic. I recommend it highly."

Al Wolters, Redeemer University College

"Reflecting a deep understanding of both computer technology and of biblical truths, Derek Schuurman draws parallels between the two that enlighten our understanding and deepen our faith. He shows how a field as technical as computer science can be relevant to spirituality, encouraging every one of us to connect our vocation with our faith. Anyone dabbling in technology and interested in scriptural teaching would benefit from his insights."

Randy Isaac, executive director of the American Scientific Affiliation

"What does it mean to be a Christian in today's high-tech world? This one-of-a-kind book deftly mixes computing technologies and biblical wisdom with the thoughts of people like Fred Brooks, Jacques Ellul, Donald Knuth, Marshall McLuhan, Plato, Neil Postman, Eric Raymond, Linus Torvalds and Sherry Turkle. The result is a heady brew exploring the implications of Christianity for our digital lives. Engagingly written, this book is a must-read for high-tech Christians interested in the question of how their faith and their technology relate to one another."

Joel Adams, professor of computer science, Calvin College

"The little machines we now hold in our hands are not neutral. We make them, but they mold us. This book is an invitation to first recognize this and then think through its implications. Neither reactionary dismissal nor uncritical embrace, Schuurman roots technology in a biblical theology of culture, demonstrating that the Reformational tradition has gifts to offer the wider church. A fresh resource for Christian reflection on both computer science and our everyday digital lives."

James K. A. Smith, Gary Henrietta Byker Professor of Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview, Calvin College

"There are many books on technology. This book is exceptional and very special. Everyone who wants to understand the real meaning of the digital world has to read this biblically oriented and wise book."

Egbert Schuurman, professor emeritus at the universities of Delft, Eindhoven and Wageningen, and author of Technology and the Future: A Philosophical Challenge

"Read Shaping a Digital World and be reminded that all culture, even our computer culture fits within God's sovereign control and fits within our narrative of creation, fall, redemption and restoration."

Dave Sikkema, Christian Renewal, April 16, 2014

"Admitting that technology is a human cultural activity that is 'value laden,' Schuurman does not juxtapose technology and theology oppositionally, but instead offers an optimistic vision of how belief imbues technology with greater purpose; he also takes time to critique humanity's negative use of technology and discusses some of technology's potential pitfalls. . . . the book is succinct enough to keep even the non-technical reader engaged."

Publishers Weekly, April 8, 2013

"'What does Silicon Valley have to do with Jerusalem?' With that play on Tertullian's ancient remark about Athens and Jerusalem, Derek Schuurman begins his discussion of the relationship between Christian faith and computer technology. It turns out that the answer is 'quite a lot.' The book presents a broad but thorough overview of issues a Christian in the computer field ought to consider. . . . [T]his is a well-written book that fills an important gap. I know of no other book that is like it."

Russel C. Bjork, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, March 2014

"In the end, Shaping a Digital World provides a useful introduction to how the technology of a digital age relates to Christian morality. Schuurman provides a helpful outline for framing this discussion through the grand redemptive-historical themes of creation, fall, redemption and new creation. . . . Shaping a Digital World makes strides in understanding how technology, as one part of God?s good creation, can be leveraged to the praise and glory of God."

Peter M. Anderson, Themelios, 38.3

"Shaping a Digital World is recommended enthusiastically for any thinking person, but it is especially important for those who work in and teach about technology. . . . Given its many virtues, I will be using this gem as a required text the next time I teach Christian Ethics and Modern Culture at Denver Seminary."

Douglas Groothuis, Denver Seminary Journal, October 2013

"Shaping a Digital World is ideal as a textbook for computer science courses, but it should also appeal to science and technology readers from any Christian tradition."

Burton K. Janes, Faith Today, May / June 2013

"This is a stimulating and helpful study, accessible even to readers whose understanding of the technology is limited, and it provides many good insights into a subject which no one can avoid entirely."

Rev. Prof. W.D.J. McKay, The Covenanter Witness, October 2014

"There are relatively few good books attempting to deal theologically with technology, despite our technologically saturated culture. Schuurman is thoughtfully trying to address the gap. In an age where technology is nearly ubiquitous, we need Christian scholars who are willing to function as guides for the layperson."

Ruth Vanhooydonk, Christian Renewal, November 30, 2016


1. Introduction
2. Computer Technology and the Unfolding of Creation
3. Computer Technology and the Fall
4. Redemption and Responsible Computer Technology
5. Computer Technology and the Future
6. Concluding Thoughts
Discussion Questions
Author and Subject Index


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Derek C. Schuurman

Derek C. Schuurman (PhD, McMaster University) is professor of computer science at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously taught at Dordt University and Redeemer University and has also worked as an engineer designing embedded systems. He is the author of Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology and coauthor of PSpice Simulation of Power Electronics Circuits (with R.S. Ramshaw).