Boundless riches: Big data, the Bible and human distinctiveness

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


A number of scientific concepts have proved helpful to theologians in the resonances they offer with theological ideas, meaning that they can bring us novel images and insights to feed into the ways in which we think about God. The present author has suggested elsewhere that the phenomenon of Big Data – large, richly-complex datasets, which can be gathered from a plethora of sources through the medium of computing – offers a novel space for the interaction of theology and the sciences regarding ethical and hermeneutical issues. The present paper describes the phenomenon of Big Data, and introduces it as a new resource from the sciences with the potential to cast light on two areas of interest to theologians. First, the richness and variety of Big Data as a source of the various analyses which may be based upon it suggest interesting parallels with the richness and variety of the
scriptures as a source of understandings of God. Second, in highlighting the way in which qualitative distinctiveness might arise from quantitative difference, Big Data may also have some important insights to offer regarding the question of human distinctiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIssues in Science and Theology
Subtitle of host publicationAre we special?
ISBN (Electronic)9783319621241
ISBN (Print)9783319621234
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Oct 2017

Publication series

NameIssues in Science and Religion: Publications of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology


  • analogy
  • analysis
  • Bible
  • big data
  • brain
  • computer
  • imagery
  • model


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