“Playing God? Yes!” Religion in the Light of Technology



If we appeal to God when our technology (including medicine) fails, we assume a “ God of the gaps.” It is religiously preferable to appreciate technological competence. Our successes challenge, however, religious convictions. Modifying words and images is not enough, as technology affects theology more deeply. This is illustrated by the history of chemistry. Chemistry has been perceived as wanting to transform and purify reality rather than to understand the created order. Thus, unlike biology and physics, chemistry did not provide a fertile basis for natural theologies. It is argued that an active, transformative role of humans is appropriate in biblically inspired religions and called for in the light of imperfections and evil in the world. When the expression “playing God” is used dismissively, as if we trespass upon God–given territory, a theologically problematical association of God and the given order is assumed. A different view of the human calling can be articulated by drawing upon the Christian heritage and by developing an antinatural religious naturalism.