I’ve always enjoyed pondering life’s biggest, existential questions. Countless times I’ve gazed up at the stars, seen the vastness and beauty of the universe, and wondered about the miracle and meaning of my very existence. As we will discover in this edition of Connect, I am certainly not the first human being, nor will I be the last, to contemplate such thoughts. The fact that we can do so is, in itself, a hallmark of humanity.
In our modern scientific age, the answer to the question “What does it mean to be human?” seems startlingly obvious. Being Human means we are carbon based life forms, mammals in the order of the primates, a mere speck on the phylogenetic tree of life and yet the most cognitively complex species to have ever walked the earth. Sure, that’s interesting, but ultimately reducing us to scientific specimens doesn’t really satisfy. Why are we here? Why do we love? Why do we laugh? Why do we suffer?
Personally, I find one of the joys of being a Christian is that suddenly the answers to these questions are no longer a mystery. Turn to the beginning of the Bible and we read: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them…” (Gen. 1: 27). Human beings were created in the likeness of God; to reflect, love and serve Him. Of course, we get this badly wrong at times; ignoring God, hurting one another, hurting the world. That is why we need a Saviour in Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are no longer searching for an ultimate purpose; our identity is in Christ and his sacrifice and love for us. “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” (1 Cor. 6:17).
Our Christian faith gives us glorious answers to the question of what it means to be human. When coupled with our knowledge of science, this puts Christian scientists at the forefront of some of the most challenging ethical and technological issues of our time.
In this edition of Connect, we explore the interaction between Christianity and science in answering the question of what it means to be human.
To begin, experimental psychologist Abbie Bradshaw argues that language, a uniquely human facet, is essential in our communication with God, particularly in the form of the written word of the Bible. Briefly moving away from existential questions, Rory McBride discusses why he decided to set up a Christians in Science student group in Sheffield.
In our second article, Nathan Bossoh compares the hope of the Christian resurrection with the utopian aspirations of transhumanists, who envisage that technology will be the solution to physical human weakness. We then turn to our regular feature “Awe and Wonder”, in which Marta Berbel Gallego reveals a personal response to a beautiful scene she witnessed whilst on a pilgrimage.
Using a philosophical thought experiment, Lapo Lappin explores the history of the anthropic principle, and why its use in modern cosmology is arguably too simplified. Finally, we hear from a leading voice in the field of artificial intelligence in an interview with Peter Robinson, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Cambridge, conducted by Omololu Fagunwa.
My prayer is that you will enjoy reading and contemplating these articles and features, and if you finish the magazine with more questions than you have answers, this can only be a good thing! Keep thinking, keep questioning, and get in touch if you would like to contribute to the next edition of Connect!