Comments on "Religion, Politics, and the Earth-The New Materialism" by Clayton Crockett and Jeffrey Robbins.
By Radical Theologies, many of the fundamentals of orthodox Christian and other mono-theistic theologies are rejected, tacitly if not overtly. A "post-theistic" theology is presumed.
Wikipedia does not yet have an entry for "radical theology" or "radical theologies" but related wikipedia posts include:
Fundamentals of a Christian worldview/meta-narrative include the following:
1) There is a God who is separate from what he created,
2) This God is personal - self-aware and capable of agency
3) God created physical universe.
4) God also created a moral universe or his character reflects the moral universe.
5) God created mankind with unique responsibilities-to be his "creation-caring-for creature" on planet earth and a unique capability to enjoy a personal and positive relationship with God, with other
humans and, in a more limited sense, other parts of creation.
6) it is important for humans to consciously try to ascertain and advance God's will on earth, in and through their lives.
7) special revelation - the Bible - is essential to mankind realizing his place in universe, but mankind has other sources of information and wisdom too.
But in rejecting/ignoring such fundamental aspects of the Christian worldview, the book fails to claim its point of view - its meta-narrative for answering basic worldview questions such as (see James Sire books about "worldview"):
1) what is the prime reality - i.e. "The really real"?
2) what is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?
3) what is a human being?
4) what happens to a person to death?
5) why is it possible to know anything at all?
6) how do we know what is right and wrong?
7) what is meaning of human history?
Radical theologies seem to lack the foundation of an explicit, coherent, metanarrative that addresses such questions, so let me play devil's advocate to some of the values espoused in the book:
So what's wrong with concentration of wealth in the hands of the few? With attaining arbitrary power being the chief purpose of man, in order to maximize reproductive advantage? With mankind, the most successful species in the 4.4 billion year history of planet Earth, despoiling the planet Earth and experiencing a mass die off, if not complete extinction, in next hundred years or so?
The authors seem to be opposed to all these things, but don't present much argument why their preferences are not as arbitrary as any other choice in the apparently pitilessly indifferent universe mankind finds itself accidentally in.
Neither does the book make much argument for the truth of its claims to allow the reader, the "shopper in the marketplace of ideas" to make an informed decision. Such guidelines include:
1) nonselective empirical grounding of knowledge based on experience. Beliefs and ideas must be traceable back to observable physical events. All facts, including inconvenient, must be included.
2) consistency - worldviews are to be consistent, both internally and externally. They must be free from logical contradiction and they must not disagree with well-established facts.
3) Sobriety - credence given a proposition must accord with the evidence. One must recognize the tendency to inflate the validity of one's cause.
4) Converging Evidence - extent to which varied and independent evidence jointly validates some explanation.
5) Cognitive consonance - a person not only lives with his beliefs, he lives them out too.
The book is silent to how theory of evolution explains - or fails to explain - why mankind is as it is, individually and collectively and whether the traits of evolved human nature fit with the changed circumstances of modern man.
After reading it, I question the intellectual courage of "radical theologians" - because a post-theistic theology - if it is to be based in empirical fact - and not just derivative arguments of long-dead philosophers, theologians, etc - who were basically clueless about the "big history" of the universe, earth, life on earth and history of human society - their reasoning should lead them to something like a place, at least I suggest, now held by E.O. Wilson or David Wilson. But that would lead to their basically renouncing their years of professional training for being their chasing down rabbit-holes of meta-narratives based on myths and derivatives of myths, and not reality based.
Radicial theologies are openly about "subverting the norm," the "norm" is the more broadly held meta-narrative of evangelical Christianity (what about Catholic, Orthodox, Celtic, Coptic, Oriental, etc strands of Christianity and their norms?). "Norms" provided generally accepted answers to questions as "what is real?" and "what is important?" so that rank and file human beings can navigate their lives and explain themselves to themselves, at least to some degree.
So what is the "norm" of radical theology?
Tripp Fuller, uber-brewmaster of Homebrewed Christianity, said I would be a wuz Christian engineer if I did not make a "taster" post for an upcoming blog tour in which I am participating. Here it is:
Prepare yourself. I am going to be part of a blog tour on this freaking amazing
book (Religion, Politics, and the Earth - The New Materialism) of practical nerdiness (unfortunately, it is not an "amazingly" cheap book, the print version is about $65 and the kindle version about $60 from Amazon. If you buy it from Amazon, please go to Homebrewed Christianity website first and link to Amazon via it - that way Homebrewed will get a slice of the sales price.)
The book is part of a series on "radical theologies" which is:
- a call or transformational theologies that break out of traditional locations and approaches. The rhizomic ethos of radical theologies enable the series to engage with an ever-expanding radical expression and critque of theologies that have and seek to enter the public sphere, arising from the continued turn to religion and especically radical theology in politics, social sciences, philosophy, theory, cultural, and literary studies. The post-theistic theology both driving and arising from these intersections is the focus of this series.
Can contemporary science, postmodern philosophy, and radical theology lead to a New materialism that could provide a framework for addressing the major global challenges we face today? These questions are addressed in this book. I'll be blogging on chapters 5, "Ethics," 6, "Energy," and 7, "Radical Proposal for Nuclear Energy" on April 23-25.
In the meantime check out a sweet discussion of the 'Death of God' and philosophical background to the book with Dr. Robbins on the Homebrewed Christianity (HBC) podcast. A podcast about the book's chapter "Radical Proposal for Nuclear Energy" by Dr. Crockett talk to his physicisti insider and contributor Kevin Mequet is available here.
Finally, here is a "blog tour tag" which is a list of links to others blogging about the book as part of the blog tour. Oh - it's empty because Tripp has not provided me any links yet.
Blog Tour Tag:
First draft, July 10, 2006
A Word Version of this document is available to commenters and I hope anyone who wishes to comment does so.
An Inquiry Regarding Advancing God?s Kingdom, In and Through the Engineering Profession and its Christian members.
Can God?s will be ascertained, to any degree, regarding the engineering profession and its Christian members? Is ?thy will be done, on earth as in heaven,? meaningful for the engineering profession and its Christian members in 2006? If we do not intentionally seek it, how will we know?
What follows is the initial results of efforts of a self-selecting, volunteer group of Christian engineers, theologians, and others to ascertain and document God?s will for the engineering profession and its Christian members regarding two foundational questions ? one of theology, the other of its application, specifically:
?Should Christian engineers, to any degree, collectively and intentionally influence their profession? If so, how might this be done??
We share our initial results with all interested internal and external stakeholders to the Christian faith and engineering profession ? everyone interested ? and invite their feedback, particularly critical comments. We contend that both Christianity and engineering exist for more that Christians and engineers ? they exist, in part, for all of humanity.
We start with the premise that God?s will can be, at least to a degree, ascertained relative to the engineering profession and its Christian members. We also assume that His will allows for our intentional and collective efforts to better ascertain it. From those premises, we applied our God-given powers of observation, experience, imagination, knowledge, and reasoning about general revelation, special revelation, and sought the leading of God?s spirit about the engineering profession and its Christian members, focused on those two questions.
Now we invite feedback. If a consensus is achieved that God?s will for the engineering profession and its Christian members can be: 1) ascertained, at least in part, 2) should be intentionally and collectively sought, and 3) as ascertained and adequately agreed upon, then advanced in and through the engineering profession, via the intentional, both individual and collective efforts of Christian engineers, then we hope to contribute to that process. If not, then at least the status quo ? no collective and intentional Christian influence in the engineering profession and no continuing collective and intentional efforts to ascertain, document, and advance God?s will in and through the engineering profession - will have been examined, at least to some degree.
We employ a question and answer format to develop the groundwork to address the two targeted questions:
God?s Nature relevant to engineering
1. Triune God has numerous names and roles as Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, Lord, Judge - what role is primary to purpose of the engineering profession? Answer God?s role as Creator of the physical universe is primary to the purpose of engineering profession. Absent God?s creating a physical universe, with physical laws, and physical beings made in His image, there would nothing to save or judge, no physical beings with whom to have a relationship, and nothing to engineer.
2. Christians understanding of God?s nature - how has it been informed by scientific discoveries of past 200 years and related technological advancements? Answer They underscore our Creator?s prodigiously creative and constructive capacity and will to express it. Additionally, as we better understand our place in the physical universe and increase our technological prowess, our responsibilities and capabilities as stewards of God?s creation on planet earth increases.
3. Nature of man - does man?s ?image of God? nature include creative and productive capacities and an innate need to express them via ?work? or ?play?? Answer Yes and we suggest it a reasonable contention that man?s original purpose was to advance God?s glory by advancing His creation on earth, by using his ?image of God? creative and productive capacity and innate need for it to find expression, while enjoying a flourishing relationship with God and his fellow human beings?
4. Why did God make man and place him on earth? Answer To advance His glory via mankind using its ?image of God? abilities to advance His creation on earth - to be fruitful and multiply - while enjoying a direct relationship with Him and others.
5. Where is this described and to whom does it apply? Answer Mankind?s cultural mandate - to advance God?s glory by advancing using its ?image of God? abilities to advance His creation on earth in accordance with His will - is described in the first chapter of Genesis and its applies to everyone.
6. How does the cultural mandate relate to the Great Commission? Answer The Great Commission applies to Christians alone, who are to advance it while advancing, with others, both Christian and non-Christian, the cultural mandate.
Great Commission/Cultural Commission?
7. Great Commission and members of engineering profession - is the tense of the verb translated as ?go? in Matthew 28:19, progressive - ?going? - in the Greek? Answer As we are ?going? (about our lives, including our professions) we should also be making disciples, but the premise is that we should be ?going? about our lives with all their various facets. By tradition, Jesus was a practicing member of a trade for many more years than he had a public ministry, modeling what we suggest was God?s original purpose in creating man - to glorify Him, including through our using our ?image of God? capabilities to advance His creation on earth, while enjoying a direct fellowship with Him.
8. Cultural Commission (Matthew 5: 13-16) ? what presuppositions does it appear to have? Answer Apparent presuppositions of the ?cultural commission? include: 1) culture, including social institutions as professions, would need the preservative, restorative, corrective influence of Christians, and 2) Christians could be effectual in providing it.
9. What is Impact of Fall on man?s purpose on earth, including work and man?s innate need to express creativity/productivity? Answer: Marred, but not destroyed.
Stewardship of earth in 2006; meaning of history?
10. Stewardship of planet earth and its inhabitants in 2006 - how is mankind doing? Answer: By most objectives measures, mankind is facing more and more complex technological challenges than in recorded human history.
11. What is role of engineers and engineering profession in stewardship? Answer: Engineers play an essential role in the design, construction, and operation of mankind?s ?built-environment? and for the care and stewardship of the natural environment.
12. How has increasing social complexity and increase in number and types of man-made institutions ? such as corporations, unions, professions, special interest groups, political parties, government agencies, non-profits ? that so mediate our individual and collective lives influenced how we live out the cultural mandate and cultural commission? Answer: By design, many human institutions are not responsive to solitary efforts, no matter how intentional, and those solitary actors are frequently marginalized by those systems. By design, most human institutions are responsive to the collective and intentional efforts of relatively small groups of stakeholders.
13. Love one?s neighbor in 2006 - can a neighbor be someone thousands of miles and generations of time away? Answer: It certainly appears that way.
Nature of Engineering
14. What is engineering? Answer: Engineering is the application of the laws of math and discoveries of science to the universe?s natural resources for the betterment of mankind.
15. What is science? Answer: Science, at least the natural sciences, is the effort to ascertain and document ?truth? about the physical universe - its qualities, properties, and rules for matter, time, space, and energy.
16. How do science and engineering relate to the ?Two Great Commandments?? Answer: Natural sciences are focused on the first and Greatest Commandment - to love God more and better by learning more about the material, inanimate, products of His creative power and mind. Engineering is focused on improving human health, safety, and welfare, and so reflects and advances the Second Great Commandment - to love one?s neighbor as oneself.
17. What is ?common grace? and how does it relate to engineering? Answer As generally used, ?common grace? describes the regularity of the operation of natural processes on earth and their general applicability to all mankind at all times. The products of the engineering profession - the built-environment, the infrastructure of power, water, communications, transportation, etc - the regularity and reliability of which is essential to our individual and collective functioning in modern society, share some similar characteristics with ?common grace? natural phenomena as weather, seasons, time and tides.
18. How is engineering like the tongue (able to bless or curse - see James 3:9)? Answer: Engineering is essential to creating the ?built-environment? upon which we so depend. It is essential to making the means - weapons and their delivery systems - to destroy the built-environment, while inflicting significant collateral damage on the natural environment.
19. Is engineering going to become more or less important, assuming the continuation of current trends? Answer: Only more important, with more people, wanting higher standards of living, residing in larger cites, causing more environmental stresses.
Nature of secular professions
20. What does one ?profess to? in becoming a member of a recognized secular profession as engineering? Answer: Three things - 1) that one has extensive knowledge, skills, and ability in some specialized, largely intellectual, field of human endeavor; 2) that one will apply that knowledge, skills, and abilities in accordance with the profession?s code of ethics; and 3) that one accepts the jurisdiction of the profession over one?s professional competency and ethics.
21. To whom does one make such a ?profession?? Answer: One ?professes? this to oneself, the public, and others in the profession.
22. Are secular professions as engineering invented or discovered? Answer: Obviously to say ?discovered? implies a Creator with a purpose, that is not a premise that can be openly stated in the engineering profession today.
23. For individuals who are members of recognized secular professions, what is the biggest portion of conscious hours in life spent preparing for and pursuing? Answer: One?s career in one?s chosen profession.
24. What is the most valuable economic asset for most practitioners in secular professions? Answer: Their vocational earning power, which depends on their membership status in their chosen profession.
25. Where do most practitioners in secular professions have the greatest public influence? Answer: In their careers.
26. How fungible is membership status in a recognized secular profession? Answer: Not very, ?name, age, profession? are standard descriptors of an individual. For practical purposes, it?s generally easier to change one?s church, job, place of residence, and, even, spouse and family than one?s profession.
27. What are some essential attributes of a secular profession? Answer: 1) The profession ?holds its own gates? - it admits its new members, being a member is a privilege that can be removed for cause, 2) it is largely self-regulating - the profession gets to make the rules for itself regarding its internal operation, its standard of care, its code of ethics is, and how they are implemented.
28. What are the two basic purposes of secular professions? Answer: 1) Advance the professional interests of its members, and 2) advance the common good by advocating and advancing the art, science, and ethics underlying the practice of the profession and its service to society.
29. What is a purpose of professional codes of ethics? Answer: In a sense, they are somewhat equivalent to creedal statements of faith communities. In a sense, secular professions exist to advance their codes of ethics.
30. What is a significant vulnerability of recognized secular professions as engineering? Answer: Professions are largely self-regulating with two fundamental purposes that exist in tension - to advance the professional interests of its members while advancing the common welfare via the trustworthy - ethical, competent, and accountable - practice of the profession. They too easily tend to become overly self-serving - rackets - to the detriment of their public trust for the public welfare.
31. What is the most intentional decision most engineers, as most members of secular professions, make in life? Answer: No one gets to choose their sex, race, or family of origin. To become a member of recognized secular profession as engineering takes years of work and study, (as well as, in my cases, much money.) The decision to become a member, particularly a licensed member, of a secular profession is, for most of those who make it, the most intentional decision of their lives, taking years of focused work and study to implement.
32. Where do most members of professions have the greatest influence in life? In the private sphere, in their families; in the public sphere, via their jobs, career, and profession - this observation is self-evident - one will have the greatest influence in life where one lives and works.
Nature of Engineering Profession
33. When did engineering begin to assume the form of a ?modern profession?? Although engineering has antecedents in guilds of medieval times and trades from antiquity, as a modern profession in America, 1850 is generally considered a starting date.
34. How many engineers are there? Department of Labor statistics state there are about 2,000,000 engineers in American work force. There are likely about 20 million degreed (B.S. or equivalent) engineers in world. Engineering is arguably mankind?s largest and most global secular profession.
35. What are engineering professional societies? They are voluntary, membership organizations in which each member generally has equal rights. They are organizational vehicles to facilitate members of the profession collectively and intentionally influencing their chosen profession for two basic purposes: 1) advance their professional interests, and 2) advance the practice of the profession for the greater common good.
36. Do the engineering profession, its members, and its organizational vehicles as professional societies hold a public trust? Answer: Yes, they do. Engineering does not exist only for engineers and engineers are not the only stakeholders to their profession! Given the profession?s responsibilities for the design, construction, operation, maintenance, and eventual decommissioning of equipment, structures, and facilities so essential to public health, safety, and welfare; together with its largely self-regulating nature, the profession, its members, and its organizational vehicles as professional societies hold a definite and important public trust.
37. How are engineering professional societies doing these days? Answer: Not too well, membership is aging and shrinking overall, with fewer members willing to do more than pay dues once a year and get a magazine once a month.
Faith at Work; Faith and Professions?
38. What is essential nature of employment relationship and how does that impact relationships and topics of conversation in places of employment? Answer: Employee relationships are inherently master-servant; each employee is are expected to successfully collaborate with other employees ? subordinates, super ordinates, and peers; therefore potentially divisive topics as sex, politics, and religion are generally considered inappropriate in places of employment, because they tend to retard collaboration and hinder productivity in a context in which employees are showing up and being paid to advance the interests of their employers (and unless their employers are faith communities or partisan political groups.)
39. What is the essential nature of a profession and how does that impact relationship and topics of discussion? Answer: Professions are not places of employment; they are equalitarian and democratic in functioning. Professions exist to advance the professional interest of their members and advance the greater social good by advancing the practice of the profession. Professional societies are voluntary membership organizations to facilitate their dues-paying members to intentionally and collectively advance their professional interests and discharge their responsibilities to society.
40. How does the code of ethics for engineers compare to ethical codes for other professions? Answer: Engineering Ethics is a more moral code, with its primary focus on the public health, safety, and welfare; as opposed to those of law and medicine which put primary focus on the interests of the practitioner?s client/patient.
41. How did existing codes of engineering ethics come into being? Answer: They were developed by consensus and they can be changed by consensus.
42. Do codes of ethics for engineers, at all, reflect a moral law? Answer: To some they do, but this is not open topic for discussion in the profession at present, because of its bias against acknowledging the existence and relevance of religious faith to the professional actions of engineers.
43. How ?ethical? is engineering ethics in scope and implementation? Answer: Engineering ethics is ?in the ditch? in significant ways regarding its scope and implementation. They require individual engineers to risk professional retribution by ?blowing whistles,? when necessary, to protect the public health and safety. They are implemented on a strict code basis ? not only is an engineer to adhere to them, he is to report to proper professional authorities instances in which another engineer does not. Because most engineers are employees, with employers who may not appreciate such actions, an ?ethical? code of ethics would also place demands on the profession to collectively uphold and defend its code of ethics and its members who do so. This is not the case, the profession generally ?washes its hands? of any engineer so foolhardy to put adherence to the code of ethics before personal self-interest. Additionally, most engineers are not required to be licensed by the State as a condition of their employment, such engineers cannot invoke the ?public policy exemption? to ?at-will? employment doctrine that is the basis of private employment in US.
Religious Faith, Engineering, and Engineers
44. How, if at all, does the ?wall of separation? between Church and State apply to engineering? Answer: A secular profession as engineering is neither a Church nor a State. Membership is open to people of all faiths and no faith. Its code of ethics, while highly moral, is secular. But it is also a collective entity of diverse members and diverse specialties, united by a basic body of knowledge and a code of ethics. For many, morality, including professional ethics, cannot be entirely separated from religious faith, particularly when adherence to them can cause one to act against one?s immediate self-interest. Who is being more intolerant - someone who contends that religious faith can be valid, at least in part for the efforts of some, to uplift and advance the engineering profession and its service to mankind and the created order, or someone who contends that it cannot be?
45. Are faith based reasons considered valid by the engineering profession, to explain, at least in part, the efforts of some engineers to uplift and advance the engineering profession and its service to mankind and the created order? Answer: At present, major engineering societies will neither openly affirm nor deny that faith-based reasons are valid, to any degree for any engineer?s efforts to uplift the profession and advance its stewardship of its public trust, including via active membership in them. Engineering professional societies desire religion kept private and separate from engineering.
46. Should Christians who are privileged to have membership status in a recognized secular profession as engineering, as a necessary outworking of their faith, model and advocate, individually and collectively, the trustworthy - ethical, competent, and accountable - practice of their chosen profession? Answer: Yes, engineering does not exist only for engineers, just as Christianity does not exist only for Christians. It is an improper limitation on the expression of Christian faith, given the cultural mandate and cultural commission, and the collective nature of the engineering profession, for Christian engineers or their profession to a priori determine that faith must be kept private and is not a valid reason, even if only partial, for any engineer to work to uplift the engineering profession and its service to mankind.
47. Will such a position face opposition in the engineering profession? Answer: Undoubtedly, for in our modern (post-modern) society when anyone attributes religious faith to any effort to influence a collective decision, they will be accused of attempting to force their religion upon others - just as those making that accusation can be accused of attempting to force their non-religion upon others. Those who claim to be ?tolerant? in modern society frequently are not ?tolerant? of those they judge ?intolerant? ? particularly those who claim faith-based reasons for their actions.
Should Christian engineers, to any degree, collectively and intentionally influence their profession to advance God?s will in and through it?
48. Answer: Clearly, yes. The engineering profession is an organized, collective activity with vital responsibilities for the implementation of mankind?s cultural mandate. As a rule, the collective actions of organized components of modern society are not susceptible to the influence of individuals acting alone; such individuals are frequently marginalized or eliminated from the system. Instead, they are designed to be responsive to the collective and intentional actions of internal and/or external stakeholders. The stakes are just too high for the cultural mandate and cultural commission for Christian engineers to not advance, collectively and intentionally, the cultural commission.
49. What is the operative theology of the engineering profession? Answer: The current assumed ground rules in the engineering profession are that: 1) there is no God, and/or 2) if there is a God, He does not actively care about earth and its inhabitants, and/or 3) even if He exists and care, there is not duty upon Christian engineers to seek and advance it in and through the engineering profession.
How Should Christians Do This?
50. We suggest they create an auxiliary engineering society for Christian engineers, to create a space for Christians engineers and other stakeholders to both the engineering profession and Christian faith to intentionally seek God?s will, to document the results and invite feedback, and if consensus is achieved, to engage the profession, as members, in a respectful, professional way, openly accepting that non-faith-based motives to influence the engineering profession and its service to society and the created order are also valid (and obviously more valid for many engineers), while asking recognition from the profession that, for some engineers, in some situations, faith-based reasons are valid, at least in part, to motivate a given position or action.
51. If current ?status quo? - no collective and intentional Christian influence in the engineering profession - is not an adequate expression of God?s will, why are we, in 2006, documenting it? Answer: That is a good question! What else could be systematically wrong that contributed to the existence and persistence of ?facts on the ground? we are describing as inadequate? What else could well be wrong if the ?facts on the ground? about a lack of collective and intentional Christian influence in the engineering profession is wrong?
52. What are marks of a Godly membership organization as an auxiliary profession society for Christians? Answer: We suggest such an organization would on an ongoing basis intentionally and collectively seeks God?s will relevant to its place in God?s economy, documents the results, and then equip and encourage its members to intentionally, both individually and collectively, to advance it.
53. What next? Answer: We think it realistic, assuming a clear affirmation of contention that Christian engineers should intentionally and collectively influence their profession, for such an organization to have 500,000+ members by 2010 (MySpace.com, about 4 years old, has over 60 million members). Such an organization could be a transformative agent, not only within the engineering profession, but within the capital, corporate, government, religious and other systems in which the engineering profession operates.
How could an auxiliary Christian engineering professional society could be a vehicle to facilitate collective and intentional efforts to influence the engineering profession to advance God?s will in and through it?
Assuming a general consensus is reached that it is consistent with God?s will - as can be best ascertained from special revelation, general revelation, common sense, tradition, and experience - for Christian engineers, at least to some degree, to intentionally and collectively influence the engineering profession, then what is the implementing plan?
The following outlines a plan to create a ?virtuous circle? by which many stakeholders to the engineering profession welcome and benefit by the existence of an auxiliary professional society for Christian engineers.
The corporate shell of one such possible organization - the Affiliation of Christian Engineers (ACE) <http://www.christianengineer.org> - exists, but there are few barriers to entry to create other such organizations. So while the description that follows uses the name ?ACE,? it could certainly be something else.
Engineers have, as a generalization, ?compliant? personalities. A key to a viable auxiliary engineering professional society will be its obtaining endorsements from a variety of Christian leaders. To warrant such endorsements, the endorsers would likely have to be persuaded how the organization, if viable, could help advance their organization?s missions, directly or indirectly.
ACE, like the internet upon which it is almost entirely based, is "something new under the sun." ACE is intended to be a low-cost, high value-added, auxiliary, virtual, international, interdenominational professional society for Christian Engineers. As its name implies, ACE
hopes to eventually have formal ties with the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) <http://www.asa3.org> the "granddaddy" of religion-science organizations.
To warrant existence, ACE needs to "add-value" to 1) its members, 2) the engineering profession, 3) society at large, and 4) the Church universal.
ACE intends to encourage Christian engineers to be actively involved in the engineering profession, primarily via active membership in one or more existing engineering professional societies and to add-value to that active participation. ACE is premised on belief that Christian engineers, as a logical, if not necessary, outworking of their faith should model and advocate, individually and collectively, the trustworthy - ethical, competent, and accountable - practice of their profession.
In practice, ACE's website will function as a social networking website (see the Wikipedia article on ?social networks? <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network> for a primer on theory and current applications) - with a focus on networking opportunities in engineering profession that, will, at least in part, advance God?s will in and through the engineering profession, will be goal.
Creating a ?virtuous circle? that drives ACE?s membership and influence upwards.
1. Keep dues low - hopefully $15/year or less, with a free trial period, and ability to waive some/all the dues, upon request of a member/prospective member for undue financial hardship.
2. Keep the membership benefit/dues cost ratio high. Most engineering professional society?s dues are about $150/year.
3. Advocate ACE members be active members of at least one major engineering professional society. This will give ACE and its members influence in those societies and make them partners in their well-being and advancement.
4. Advocate ACE members be active members of a church or congregation, as churches have significant membership issues too and being an ACE member is not a substitute for belonging to a local church.
5. Advocate ACE, together with major engineering societies, and other stakeholders to the engineering profession develop guidelines for the appropriate expression of religion in major engineering professional societies.
6. Develop ties between ACE and socially responsible investment firms (SRI?s), whose missions have any number of engineering related components. Many SRI?s would welcome financial investments from ACE members and other engineers.
7. Advocate the major engineering societies jointly develop ?Guidelines for the employment of engineers? with input from SRI?s, major employers of engineers, and other stakeholders. Companies that voluntarily adopt such these guidelines would have an advantage in recruitment and retention of engineers, SRI?s could influence public companies to adopt them by making their adoption a criteria for SRI investments, and engineers would be encourage to invest part of their portfolios in SRI?s that supported public companies adopting the guidelines.
8. The guidelines would address topics as employer?s voluntarily imposing P.E. licensure requirements on their experienced engineers, employers recognizing the independent professional accountability of engineers to their profession and its code of ethics, and employers supporting their employed engineers active participation in one or more engineering professional societies, among other topics.
9. Encourage and equip ACE members to assume volunteer leadership positions, at all different levels, in the major engineering professional societies.
10. Provide forums for ACE members to discuss issues impacting the profession and its stewardship of its public trust, from a faith-based perspective, with input from other, external, stakeholders to the profession.
11. There are 20 million degreed members of the engineering profession. In 2006, almost all have access to the internet at work and/or home. There are probably 5 million or more professing Christians (i.e. individuals who identify themselves as Christians) who are degreed engineers. ACE could readily have 500,000+ members by 2010, a gross revenue of 15 million dollars/year, and a net revenue of 5 million dollars/year. 500,000 members would make ACE, by a significant margin, the largest engineering society in the world.
12. ACE?s net revenue would be transferred to an associated foundation and disbursed, across denominational lines, to engineering-related ministries, humanitarian projects, development projects, schools, scholarships, etc. 5 million dollars/year is ?major donor? status and would provide an opportunity for leaders of ACE to ask leaders of all major Christian denominations to formally encourage engineers in their denominations to investigate a free trial membership in ACE or tell ACE leaders how ACE needs to change to warrant their support.
13. The Board of ACE would not be limited to engineers or even Christians - external stakeholders of high reputation would be sought out of a recognition that neither engineering nor Christianity exist solely for their members and ?prophetic voices? to the engineering profession are needed.
14. The primary, continuing, purpose of ACE would be to provide an organizational vehicle to facilitate Christian engineers and others in body of Christ to collectively and intentionally seek God?s will for the engineering and its Christian members, document the result, and, as consensus is reached, equip and encourage its members to intentionally, both individually and collectively, influence the engineering profession to advance God? will, in and through the engineering profession.
What type of issues could ACE address and, via its membership, intentionally and collectively influence the engineering profession ?
1. The engineering profession was essential to the creation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and their delivery systems. Absent the ?built-environment,? engineers were also essential to creating, WMD?s have little meaning. Engineering is also essential to the control and, hopefully, elimination of WMD?s. Engineering has, more than other professions, been more involved, simultaneously, in the creation of mankind's common "built environment" and in the creation of means to destroy it.
2. Engineers, more than other professionals, know how fragile mankind's built environment is. They also realize how much the built environment depends upon natural resources and the natural environment. Hopefully ACE would spur the engineering profession to become a better steward of natural resources and natural environment.
3. ACE could spur the profession to denounce terrorist engineers.
4. ACE could spur the profession to improve its response to situations where engineers allege and/or are vindicated in claims of retribution for adhering to the profession?s code of ethics.
5. ACE could spur the profession to formally support the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG?s) <http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals>, many of which have an engineering focus.
6. ACE could spur the profession to declare, unilaterally, something as ?all engineers, everywhere, should enjoy full human rights, starting within the engineering profession,? and then spur the major engineering professional societies to adopt such language in their Constitutions, bylaws, and policies and require similar language in the national engineering organizations with which they adopt agreements of cooperation.
7. ACE could spur the profession to become much more aggressive in confronting and opposing institutional and individual corruption in the governments and companies that supply or procure engineering services.
8. ACE could spur more ecumenical, inter-denominational efforts, to advance mankind?s cultural mandate and Christianity?s cultural commission in non-engineering related ways.
9. ACE could spur the elevation of the engineering profession and its service to mankind, as embodied in engineering ethics, making one?s identity as an engineer and allegiance to the profession and its code of ethics a unifying factor in situations - such as the Mid-East - where divisive claims of religion, race, or nationality exist.
1. YOUR WORK MATTERS TO GOD by Doug Sherman and William Hendricks
2. TOTAL TRUTH: LIBERATING CHRISTIANITY FROM ITS CULTURAL CAPTIVITY by Nancy Pearcey
3. THE MARKETPLACE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY: A CHRISTIAN GUIDE TO BOOKS ON WORK, BUSINESS, AND VOCATION by Pete Hammond, R. Paul Stevens, and Todd Svanoe
4. HOLD PARAMOUNT: THE ENGINEER?S RESPONSIBILITY TO SOCIETY by Alastair Gunn and P. Aarne Vesilind
5. ENGINEERING ETHICS: CONCEPTS, VIEWPOINTS, CASES, AND CODES Complied and Published by the National Institute for Engineering Ethics
6. BELEAGUERED RULERS: THE PUBLIC OBLIGATION OF THE PROFESSIONAL by William May
7. THE ENGINEER IN AMERICA: A HISTORICAL ANTHOLOGY FROM ?TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE? edited by Terry Reynolds
8. A CENTURY OF INNOVATION: TWENTY ENGINEERING ACHIEVEMENTS THAT TRANSFORMED OUR LIVES by George Constable and Bob Somerville
A selective list of organizations, websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines of possible interest
1. Wilberforce Forum http://www.wilberforce.org/
2. International Coalition of Workplace Ministries http://www.icwm.org
3. Speaking of Faith http://www.speakingoffaith.org
4. National Institute for Engineering Ethics http://www.niee.org
5. Get Religion (blog) http://www.getreligion.org
6. Christian Legal Society http://www.clsnet.org
7. Christian Medical and Dental Association http://www.cmdahome.org/
8. Gegrapha ? Christians in Journalism http://www.gegrapha.org
9. American Scientific Affiliation http://www.asa3.org
10. The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society http://www.theNewAtlantis.com
11. Worldwatch Institute http://www.worldwatch.org
12. Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility http://www.iccr.org
13. 3iG ? International Interfaith Investment Group - http://www.3ignet.org/
14. Alliance of Religions and Conversation http://www.arcworld.org/
15. Affiliation of Christian Engineers http://www.christianengineer.org
16. Christianity Today http://christianitytoday.com/ctmag/
17. Concordia Seminary Institute of Lay Vocation (blog) http://concordia.typepad.com/vocation/rss.xml
18. Faith at Work blog http://blog.mike.mcloughlin.com/blog
19. Finding ? From the Trinity Forum (blog) http://www.ttf.org/index/findings/rss-2/
20. Woodstock Theological Center http://www8.georgetown.edu/centers/woodstock/
21. Affiliation of Christian Engineer (blog) http://christianengineer.blogs.com/christian_engineer/
How to provide feedback on this document:
By email: email@example.com
By phone: 865-300-5831;fax 865-966-1675
By mail: Joseph Carson, P.E.
President, Affiliation of Christian Engineers
10953 Twin Harbour Drive
Knoxville, TN 37934
My article, "Is Engineering Ethic `Ethical'? Is Engineering Ethics `At All'?" has been published in the Professional Ethics Report of the American Association for the Advancment of Science (AAAS).
Feel free to comment upon it!
Joe Carson, P.E.
The co-author of my recent op-ed in Engineering Times, "Engineers, Terrorism, and the Spread of Democracy," Michael Horowitz, authored a recent piece in Christianity Today, "How to Win Friends and Influence Culture." It details criteria Christians should use in evaluating societal causes to intentionally and collectively support.
I think Christian engineers should, with other interested engineers, advocate human rights within and through the engineering profession. I recently submitted a draft position statement to the Public Policy Committee of the American Nuclear Society on this topic.
If there were a viable Affiliation of Christian Engineerss, it could facilitate Christian members of ANS collectively and intentionally influencing ANS to adopt such a position statement.
Joe Carson, the President of the Affiliation of Christian Engineers, recently co-authered an op-ed, "Engineers, Terrorism, and the Spread of Democracy." It appeared in the August/Sept issue of Engineering Times, the monthly publication of the National Society of Professional Engineers
Absent something that does not now exist - a collective and intentional Christian influence in the engineering profession - there is no reason to think the ideas espoused in the op-ed will take root in the profession.