In this introductory message to our new series called Interface, which deals with a Christian’s role and interaction with technology, Greg walks through how we got to where we are, both as a human species as well as a Christian sub-culture. There is a general principle of proportionality that applies to all things including technology. It says a thing or person’s capacity for good is directly proportional to its capacity for evil. Greg walks through that exercise in counting the cost of our interaction with technology.
In this series, in a variety of ways, we’ll be exploring a Christian’s response to technology. As in other areas, the principle of proportionality applies where something or someone’s capacity is for good is often their equal and opposite capacity for evil. Technology is not by itself good or evil, it is merely a tool. If we focus solely on the positive attributes of technological progress (as much of secular culture does) we can put ourselves at risk of falling prey to Satan’s schemes to trap and isolate ourselves from one another and become ineffective for the kingdom.
Humans seem to have a tendency to overlook or minimize the negative aspects of technological progress. We often stop after asking “can we” and forget to ask “should we?” No matter how good one’s intentions are, the law of unintended consequences often applies to new technology. It can promise connection and creation of more free time for its users, but many times it only creates envy, comparison and judgment, isolation, and a higher stress lifestyle. We must remember there is a personal spiritual agent out there bent on our destruction. As we read in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11, we can’t be ignorant of his schemes.
The question is how did we get here? How did we get to 2019 walking down an empty neighborhood street with all its residents safely tucked away inside in isolation from one another with eyes glued to a screen of one sort or another? Only 100-200 years ago those same streets would have been filled with people, if for no other reason than because they didn’t have anything better to do. A person’s source of entertainment and information came by in large from their immediate and local community. Much of that has now been outsourced to professionals. There are many positives to this information and entertainment revolution, but we must also count the cost.
Greg highlighted more, but below is a brief summary of some of the key technological innovations in human history and a brief commentary on both the positive and negative aspects of each:
|1 Million years ago = Fire – provided light and warmth, but also allowed controlled destruction
|20,000 BCE = Arrow head spears – more efficient hunting and gathering, but also some of the first instruments of war and human on human longer range violence
|3500 BCE = the wheel – provided efficient transport and eased work, but also utilized by kings and pharaohs as tool of building empire on backs of slaves and chariot wheels
|3000 BCE = writing – provides opportunity to be heard long after and far away from subject, can be an amplifying megaphone for either good or evil.
|1041 / 1450 AD = printing press – mass produce literature to increase literacy and availability, but also can be used for propaganda and spreading of destructive ideologies
|1608 / 1633 AD = telescope & discovery sun at center of universe – creates a crisis of faith in church as Christians create first division with science over observed natural world vs. scripture interpretations
|1901 / 1927 AD = radio & television – provides ability to communicate and stay informed and entertained, but also one of the first distractions away from local community as source for information and entertainment, outsourced to a professional, starts the road to isolation in later 20th / 21st century
|1945 AD = atomic energy – promise of cheap near infinite energy source, used in war as ultimate weapon in killing efficiency
|2015 AD = genetic engineering – provides opportunities to cure and fight diseases and extend human longevity, but also creates opportunities to blur the lines of human autonomy with concerns of clones
|2000-2017 = internet explosion, Google, Facebook, Twitter, artificial intelligence – promise of ultimate connection and life enhancements right alongside all time high rates of depression, isolation, & suicide
We are instructed to pray for our leaders that they may know the ways of peace. With the amount of technology at their fingertips, they must possess great wisdom to know how to exploit the technological advantages of our current world while not discounting the costs that come along with this revolution. Technology by itself is not evil and should not be rejected, but a wise Christian is one who first counts the cost of any new addition to his or her life and examines its potential effect on their call to faithfulness and discipleship.
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