David Noble to discuss the connection between religion and technology
Author David Noble will discuss his latest book, The Religion of Technology: The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention (Penguin, 1999), at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12, in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives. The public is invited to attend and admission is free.
Noble, who believes that throughout history technology has been at heart a religious endeavor, argues that it’s no coincidence that Isaac Newton devoted his life to the interpretation of prophecy, or that Joseph Priestly, who discovered oxygen, founded Unitarianism. Noting that the code name for the first atomic test was “Trinity” and the first attempt at human space flight was named “Project Adam,” Noble believes religion pervades even contemporary technology.
However, in The Religion of Technology, Noble also warns that we are currently involved in a pseudo-spiritual quest to achieve perfection through technologies that may threaten rather than serve humanity. The results, he argues, include Hiroshima, Chernobyl and the rise of techno-spiritual fringe groups like the Heaven’s Gate cult in California. According to Noble, it is time to demystify scientists and re-examine the role of technology so talent and resources can be directed toward more humane ends.
A professor of history at York University in Toronto, Noble is also the author of America by Design: Science, Technology and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism and Progress Without People: New Technology, Unemployment and the Message of Resistance among others. He currently is the Hixon-Riggs Visiting Professor at Harvey Mudd College and also has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Drexel University.