POD 029 | Crafting Tomorrow: John Dyer on the Intersection of Faith and Technology

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What does technology have to do with faith, and how does it shape our human story? Prepare to be challenged and inspired as John Dyer, PHD explores the profound impact of technology on our human story, from ancient biblical narratives to the digital age, and its implications for humanity and community. Together, we'll examine the theological dimensions of modern tools, wrestle with questions of AI and human uniqueness, and understand why technology can never be neutral. Join us for this enlightening episode of theFormed.life.

  1. Defining Technology: John Dyer redefines technology not just as digital gadgets but as any tool, device, or process that humans use to shape the world. From baking to the symbolism of the cross, technology encompasses all transformative practices.
  2. Media Ecology & Theology: Technology molds us as much as we mold it. John dexterously traces its impact from biblical times to today's social media-centric landscape. He shares how media ecology and the philosophy of technology are crucial in understanding the societal shifts influenced by tech advancements.
  3. Human Aspect & AI: In an age where AI questions often mirror deep, personal inquiries about worth and divine existence, John emphasizes the critical importance of community and personal connections. He advocates for balance and discernment in our increasingly automated world.

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John Dyer is the Vice President for Enrollment and Educational Technology and assistant professor of Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. Having pursued theology at DTS, he obtained his Master of Theology (ThM) degree in 2008, followed by a PhD in sociology of religion from Durham University in 2019. Notably, he initially studied biochemistry and genetics at Texas A&M, even securing a patent on a molecule at one point. Since around 2000, John has been immersed in coding, gradually expanding his roles to include thoughtful reflection on technology's impact. His endeavors extend to teaching seminary students, delivering speeches at conferences, and crafting various tools such as bestcommentaries.com, biblewebapp.com, yallversion.com, and worship.ai. Many of these tools are open source and are utilized by prominent entities like Apple, WordPress, Microsoft, and the Department of Defense. Residing in the Dallas region, John shares his life with his remarkable wife, who serves as a literature and philosophy professor, and their two delightful children, a son and a daughter.

"I do wanna make this distinction between older tools and then modern devices. So we talk a little bit about that, and I think the newer edition of my book spends some more time on that just so that we think about how a shovel might form us in a different way than a device or a screen might form us."
— John Dyer

“I think the AI movement that we're in right now is the generative AI stuff that really came out sort of the the fall of 22 in some way. And so all the stuff from text generation, image generation, and then now, you know, lots of the deep fake type videos are much much easier to produce."
— John Dyer

"Technology in that day meant something more like learning how to make stuff. So technology was the knowledge of making stuff. And so, eventually, the word technology becomes the stuff itself, and that was, you know, physical machines, and now it's, like, digital machines."
— John Dyer



theology and technology, John Dyer, Dallas Theological Seminary, technology definition, community impact, church models, missionary work, technology as transformation, technology and society, coding, creation and tools in the Bible, technology in the gospel, cross as redemption technology, theological implications, idol-making, smartphones as orientation, media ecology, philosophy of technology, sociology, "From the Garden to the City", media polarization, local communities, Christian dialogue, generative AI, deep fake videos, algorithm-driven social media, AI for theological questions, TechWise series, formative practices, quantum computing

00:00 Influential technology shaping our world, theological perspective.
03:53 Realizing impact of technology on ethics and accessibility.
08:38 Technology shapes lives, churches, and communities.
09:39 Contrasting old and modern tools and devices.
14:00 Summarize: From garden to city, Biblical framework explained.
17:10 Genesis poses questions and explores human innovation.
19:53 Technological process reflects theological good and potential harm.
26:05 Questioning the influence of technology on us.
27:28 Beware of fake world and social media.
30:07 AI models need to connect with people.
36:12 Technology and limits impact decision-making and community.
38:09 Wrapping up
40:25 Podcast by Christ Community Church in Kansas City.

POD 029 | Crafting Tomorrow: John Dyer on the Intersection of Faith and Technology
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