2024 Theological Lecture at Queen’s now available online

Thursday July 4th 2024

At the 2024 Theololgical Lecture at Queen’s are, from left: Bishop George Davison, Dr Peter Hamill (Board of Education), Professor Stephen Williams, the Revd Danielle McCullagh (Church of Ireland & Methodist Chaplain), and Professor Stuart Elborn (Deputy Vice-Chancellor). Photo: Colin Metcalfe Photography

This year’s Annual Theological Lecture at Queen’s University Belfast – on the theme of ‘Artificial Intelligence: Religious Friend or Foe?’ – is now available to play back on the Church of Ireland and Methodist Chaplaincy’s YouTube channel. 

A two-minute preview can be found at www.thehubbelfast.org/annuallecture and the direct link to the video is https://youtu.be/5GGZuoZSAs0

Professor Stephen Williams. Photo: Colin Metcalfe Photography

The lecture, sponsored by the Church of Ireland Board of Education (Northern Ireland), was delivered in the Great Hall at Queen’s on Monday May 27 by Professor Stephen Williams.  Professor Williams is a theologian, author and lecturer who, after retiring from a teaching career, was appointed Honorary Professor of Theology at Queen’s in 2017.

The title is provocative: Artificial intelligence means more than one thing; there are different religious traditions; and ‘friend or foe’ may be false alternatives.

Welcome and introduction by Bishop George Davison. Photo: Colin Metcalfe Photography

Admitting the complexity of the issues, the lecture sets out the challenge of AI to our understanding of what it is to be human, highlighting its critical nature. It ranges from discussion of the nature of the brain in the context of Western culture and the significance of the Church in an attempt to answer the question posed in the title.

Since 1957, the Church of Ireland has organised annual lectures at Queen’s to stimulate and contribute to the discussion of public theology on campus.  Guest lecturers, typically eminent thinkers in their field, have ranged from theologians to scientists, authors to archbishops.  The Board of Education remains grateful to Queen’s University for its contribution in hosting the lectures each year.


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