Back to course catalogue

Judaism, Science, and Technology

Can an artificially intelligent robot become Jewish? Does Jewish tradition teach us who should get the COVID-19 vaccine first? On what basis should we decide when life begins and ends—science, philosophy, or religion? Does Jewish law offer clear guidance about how to preserve our natural environment? In this course, we will explore some of the challenges, opportunities, and mysteries of modern science and technology from three distinct perspectives: Jewish philosophy (how we think about things), Jewish law (the rules that govern our behavior), and Jewish ethics (the rightness and wrongness of our choices and actions). We will then study some cutting-edge test cases—from managing medical care in a pandemic to the changing definition of death to the future of artificial intelligence. All these cases demonstrate human mastery over nature (and its limits), raise questions about what life is and when it begins and ends, and open a wellspring of ethical challenges. At every turn, thinking as Jews, we will not only ask what science says we can do, but whether everything that can be done should be done.