God or the Machine? Seeking Truth in a Technological Age

In his message for the 57th World Day of Peace on January 1, 2024, Pope Francis spoke to the urgent need for Catholics to consider the challenges technology poses to human flourishing in the modern world: “We rightly rejoice and give thanks for the impressive achievements of science and technology, as a result of which countless ills that formerly plagued human life and caused great suffering have been remedied. At the same time, techno-scientific advances, by making it possible to exercise hitherto unprecedented control over reality, are placing in human hands a vast array of options, including some that may pose a risk to our survival and endanger our common home.” 

In response to His Holiness’ call for Catholics to lead the global conversation on the proper role and limits of technology in the 21st century, the Portsmouth Institute’s 2024 Humanitas Summer Symposium will convene Catholic scholars, public intellectuals and leaders to consider the challenges and opportunities which rapid advances in technology pose to the social order and the Christian life. Questions we will confront include: How does technology affect our ability to understand the truth? How does technology lead to the loss of critical intellectual faculties —and what are the consequences? What is the relationship between technology and addiction? How can beauty help us to contemplate truth in a digital age? How can students learn in the age of ChatGPT? 

These questions and more will animate deep reflection and conversation throughout the symposium weekend. In addition to keynote lectures and panel discussions from top public intellectuals in the field, participants will have the chance to discuss how to apply timeless ideas in the Catholic intellectual tradition to contemporary challenges during breakout sessions led by faculty from Portsmouth Abbey School and Providence College. Plentiful hospitality and the Benedictine monastic liturgies at Portsmouth Abbey will cultivate a convivial environment of learning, fellowship, and prayer.

For fifteen years, the Portsmouth Institute’s annual Humanitas Summer Symposium has been New England’s premier gathering of Catholics interested in the intersection of faith and culture.

From stimulating lectures and energetic discussion sessions to beautiful liturgies, sacred art, and of course, our signature Benedictine hospitality, the Humanitas Summer Symposium is more than just an event: it’s a transformative experience of the truth and joy of Christ.

Attendees come from across the world, and feature prominent Catholic thought leaders, professionals, clergy, religious, and students. We are especially delighted to welcome back so many parents, grandparents, and alumni of Portsmouth Abbey School who return each year for intellectual growth, spiritual renewal, and a chance to reconnect with friends in an environment of fellowship and joy. I hope you can join us.

In Christ and St. Benedict,

Chris Fisher

Executive Director