Society, Religion and Technology (SRT) keeps the Church and its members informed of the most recent developments in science and technology. Working with experts in related fields, SRT helps the Church create official policies on such issues as climate change, medical ethics, and digital surveillance. It also helps individuals and congregations explore these topics and the ethics surrounding them.
For more than 50 years, SRT has become known for its work on complex issues, starting with North Sea Oil and moving through nuclear energy, cloning, stem cell research, and social justice. SRT works closely with those in the sciences, medical fields, government, and industry to thoroughly understand these issues and help the Church make informed policy decisions.
SRT is currently led by Dr Murdo Macdonald (SRT Policy Officer) and the work is overseen by the Faith Impact Forum and an advisory group of people drawn from the fields of science, medicine, and technology. SRT frequently consults with outside experts when working on a particular topic.
SRT Week of Prayer
SRT hosts a week of prayer during the second week in June each year. This date was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of one of Scotland's greatest scientists, the physicist James Clerk-Maxwell. Clerk-Maxwell was a prominent Christian and an elder of the Church of Scotland.
Timeline: 50 years of SRT
- 1970: SRT is founded, with Dr John Francis its first director. The Advisory Group (now the SRT Committee) is created the following year.
- 1973: SRT publishes its first report, on the impact of North Sea Oil and Gas developments
- 1976-9: Research and reports on nuclear energy, the world food crisis, and renewable energy
- 1985: SRT celebrates its 15th anniversary. It now functions as a think-tank: an open forum for policy debate and a resource for adult Christian education.
- 1987: In response to the Chernobyl Disaster, SRT consults with representatives from the nuclear power industry. It also notes the rise of electronic communication and begins planning to explore the topic further.
- 1989-90: Energy saving and conservation become a major focus, in response to increasing concerns about climate change
- 1992: Dr Donald Bruce becomes the director and SRT moves to John Knox House, as part of an effort to make the project more accessible to both the Church and the general public
- 1997: Dolly the sheep is born at the Roslin Institute. SRT begins to increasingly contribute to the debate around cloning and genetics
- 2004: SRT moves to Edinburgh Science Campus. Its research now includes biotechnology, environmental policy work alongside other religions, GM crops, nanotechnology, and cloning.
- 2008: The role of director is re-named to Policy Officer with the appointment of Dr Murdo Macdonald, the current Policy Officer
- 2011-17: SRT's research and reports consider the implications of the internet, surveillance, social justice, and questions around organ and tissue donation
- 2020: SRT, which was originally only intended to run for three years, celebrates its 50th anniversary.
SRT in Life & Work
SRT has frequently featured in the Church's magazine, Life & Work. Below are some of the most recent highlights.
SRT Milestone: Lynne McNeil looks back at the 50-year history of the Church of Scotland's Society, Religion and Technology Project (SRT).
No Time to Waste: Dr John Francis, the SRT Project's first director, reflects on the nuclear threat.
The Great Unmentionable: Dr Murdo Macdonald considers the issues surrounding the end of life in the 21st century.
The Challenge Ahead: Rev Dr Alistair Donald considers Artificial Intelligence.
Battlefield Robots: The Rev Dr David Coulter reflects on the increasing use of artificial intelligence on the battlefield.
The Strength of a Seed: Ruth Bancewicz looks at churches engaging with science.
Faith and Evolution: Eric Priest considers whether faith and evolution are in harmony.
Jesus and the Natural World: Andrew Torrance explains why the Church is called to proclaim that the natural world is not its own independent reality.
Augustinian Questions: The Very Rev Dr Angus Morrison considers the thoughts and writing of St Augustine on faith and science.
Surveillance and Social Justice: Eric Stoddart explores surveillance of daily life.
With Scorching Heat and Drought: Adrian Shaw reflects on the Church of Scotland's history on climate change.
Giving thanks: In the last part of the series marking the 50th anniversary of the Church of Scotland SRT, Dr Murdo Macdonald looks back – and forward – at the life of the unique project.