Annual CSS Meeting, Asbury University, Kentucky, October 7, 2023

Table of Contents

Meeting Registration

8:00 AM Registration (coffee and light breakfast)

9:00 AM Welcome

9:10 AM Jim Painter, Ph.D., R.D.N.
“The Promise and Pitfalls of Technology Regarding Food for Humans”

The promise of technology for human food production has been realized. At the end of the 1800s, the U.S. averaged 26 bushels of corn per acre while in 2021 yield was 174 bushels per acre, a sixfold increase. Soybeans have seen a similar increase from 32.2 to 49.5 bushels per acre from 1993 to 2021. The technologies responsible for the increase include; breeding, hybridization, and improvements in fertilizer, pesticides, precision agriculture, and biotechnology. Yet, although the amount of food produced per acre has increased, the quality has not.  

During this time of crop increase the food in the US became highly processed through the use of food processing technologies, decreasing its quality. In the middle of the 20th century, flour was refined by removing the bran and germ leaving only the endosperm to improve shelf life.  By this, 60-80% of the nutrients were removed.  Coincidentally, sugar consumption has increased from 18 lbs. per person per year in 1800 to close to 100 lbs. per person per year today. Over 55% of the diet in the US is highly processed, contributing to the chronic disease burden of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. GMOs then entered the food market 30 years ago adding their promise and pitfalls. 

Considering Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5 that our whole spirit, soul, and body should be preserved blameless until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, what should our response be to the condition of our foods? Technology has had positive and negative effects on our food supply. How can we respond to the current situation in light of Paul’s admonition? In this talk, we will discuss our options to fulfill Paul’s admonition.  

Jim Painter earned a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and is currently the Program Director for the Masters of Science in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition concentration at John Patrick University and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas, School of Public Health. His current areas of research include reducing the risk of heart disease through phyto-nutrient and dietary intervention, and mindless eating by changing the dining environment by stealth to control calorie intake. Jim has been a Registered Dietitian since 1980 and has served as the Director of Nutrition research for the California Raisin Marketing Board, and nutrition adviser for Sun-Maid Raisin Growers of California and Paramount Farms Wonderful Pistachios, and has served on American Heart Association’s Healthier Diet Business Committee. He is the Nutrition Advisor for Sugarwise and consults for the National Dairy Council. Jim has more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and presentations to his credit and has authored the textbook, Nutrition You Can Use and his latest book Let’s Eat Mindfully! 

10:00 AM Michael Hilton, Ph.D.
“ChatGPT: Liar, Lunatic, or (over)Lord?”

While there have been significant advances in the field of AI in the past decade or so, none has caused more impact than that of Large Language Models, such as ChatGPT or Google Bard. In the words of Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” How should we think about these new technologies? In this talk, we will discuss the underlying technologies that enable these new tools, discuss their capabilities and limitations, and consider how we should think about these technologies going forward. Particularly we will discuss the interaction of faith and technology looking to the future.

Dr. Michael Hilton is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Software and Societal Systems Department in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He is also the Associate Department Head for Education, as well as the director of the Software Engineering Minor/Concentration. He holds a Ph.D. from Oregon State University. He teaches a variety of courses each year, including Foundations of Software Engineering, Software Engineering for Startups, and more. He has won several awards for his teaching, including the 2021 Spira Excellence in Teaching Award, and the 2020-21 Wimmer Faculty Fellowship. He also published in top Software Engineering venues, where his research is focused on flaky tests, and other CI/CD topics. Before coming back to academia, Michael also worked nine years for the Department of Defense as a software Engineer.

10:50 AM Brandon Rickabaugh, Ph.D.
“Reprogramming Humanity: The Human Soul and AI’s Power to Dehumanize”

Dr. Rickabaugh will lead a discussion in how our use of AI reveals a dehumanizing vision of ourselves, each other, and God. His thesis is that by rejecting the depths and dynamics of the human soul, we are outsourcing our humanity; he argues that the only way forward is a return to the reality of the soul as understood by Jesus.

Dr. Brandon Rickabaugh is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Research Scholar of Philosophy of Technology and Culture at Palm Beach Atlantic University.  His Ph.D. in philosophy is from Baylor University. He is co-author of The Substance of Consciousness (Wiley-Blackwell, 2023) with J. P. Moreland. Dr. Rickabaugh is a fellow of the Cultura Initiative at The Martin Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, where he explores how the nature of consciousness and developing technologies, such as AI, impact human flourishing and culture.

11:40 AM Break for lunch

1:00 PM Jason Rampelt, Ph.D., Th.M.
“Digital Storage: Solution or Problem?”

As more and more of human experience is recorded and even created in a digital environment, the challenges of preserving those records move into a new realm. From an archival perspective, digital records are in many ways analogous to paper records, but they are not identical. Digital records create new opportunities for expanded access, however they are especially fragile, making them open to new archival problems. Our memory of the past has always depended on the security of such records and the persistence of digital records will require deliberate efforts to mitigate their liabilities. Our human cultural memory depends on being educated about the sometimes invisible dangers to their survival and taking steps now to ensure access to them for future generations.

Jason Rampelt has studied philosophy (M.A., Univ. of Pennsylvania), theology (M.A.R., Th.M., Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia), and history and philosophy of science (Ph.D., Cambridge), and was a Research Fellow at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge, in 2006-2009. He is presently History of Science and Medicine Archivist for the University of Pittsburgh Library System.

1:50 PM David Snoke, Ph.D.
“A Theology of Work”

Why do we work to do anything? Should we seek “progress”? The scientific and industrial revolutions are deeply connected to Christian, and to a large degree, Protestant biblical theology, to the degree that scholars talk of the “Protestant work ethic.” Is this something modern Christians should embrace? Many Christians struggle with whether what they are doing is “meaningful.” I will discuss both modern and ancient Christian thinking on why we work.

David Snoke is Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Pittsburgh and a Fellow of the American Physical Society, with over 150 refereed publications and six scientific books, including five with Cambridge University Press. He is also ordained as a ruling elder and a licensed preacher in the Presbyterian Church in America. He is the current president of the Christian Scientific Society.

2:40 PM Panel Discussion of the speakers
moderated by Paul Nesselroade

3:50 PM Closing

One response to “Annual CSS Meeting, Asbury University, Kentucky, October 7, 2023”

  1. Amy Givler

    I wish I could come next week, but have another commitment. I hope there is a way to access the talks afterwards. Jim Painter’s subject is intriguing. I recently read Ultra-Processed People and found it compelling. At what point does processing make food edible but not actually any longer food?

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