Don’t look now but Technology is creeping up on us. (Creepy indeed… as in causing fear and unease.)
Or in many cases, has overtaken us! And we may just be left behind. Left indeed … and that’s not right.
Usually it starts harmlessly – it’s only a toy or gadget– a plaything, fanciful, even expensive and bringing fascination and delight. And how it excites the imagination to what is possible!
Your “new” refrigerator is able to discern that you are running out of milk and either reminds you to re-stock or dials directly to the supplier to bring a fresh order over. Incredible.
But one of these days, your smarter-than-you refrigerator will override your preferences and order the milk that is truly good for you! And in a similar vein, add to your cart more salad and greens to increase your fibre intake. “Heaty” foods won’t make the cut but the redoubtable durian may just slip through the cracks. There’s still cause for hope and rejoicing.
So, taste no longer decides. Technology has the capability to determine what’s good for you! Eat healthy, live long. But then you might wish life could be sweeter and/or saltier? Is that what you really wanted?
When push comes to shove, how should Christians engage with technology? asks Andy Geers. ‘“Technology’ is basically anything that is created by human beings to help us reach beyond what we would be able to do without it – whether that’s just doing an old thing more efficiently, or whether it’s doing something that was entirely impossible before. Technology is all around us, and it’s so deeply woven into the very fabric of our lives that we barely even notice it’s there. That’s precisely why it’s so important that we do take time out to consider it from a Christian perspective – because the technology we use always changes us.”
Refuse what distracts us from God. Embrace what draws us closer to Him.
He cautions: “Technology is not morally neutral. When it comes to technology, it’s very easy to
respond in one of two ways:
There’s the approach that just rejects all new technology outright – we don’t like the change it represents, so we reject it en masse as evil. It took me years and years before I got my first mobile phone, and in the meantime I stubbornly rejected it.
The other common response is that we embrace it wholeheartedly as an unambiguously positive force for good. The culture around us often portrays all technological progress as a step forward – newer is always better, and just because something can be done, then that something should be done.”
For example, Dr Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary, warns that continued smartphone use and the constant seeking of applause causes us to ‘ignore our finiteness,’ instilling in users a ‘subconscious desire to become infinite like God.’
"A smartphone absorbs our interest because it is so alluring. It can do so many things. And in a sense it is asking us to do so many things with it," Groothuis said. "But humans are limited. We can only think through so many things at once. We can only feel properly a limited number of things. And these technologies want to stretch us out over the entire globe with Twitter feeds, Facebook messages, and photos shared on Instagram. Instead, we need to embrace our finitude. And if we really own up to our finitude and the fact that a life well lived is a life lived carefully, as Paul says (Ephesians 5:15, Colossians 4:5), we simply have to say 'no' to some of these things."
Technology can do a world of good - yet it can also hurt the spiritual walk of children and adolescents today, asserts Leah MarieAnn Klett. She argues that Technology glorifies Self above all.
“Most children and teens today can't imagine a world without social media; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and youth seem to be deeply interconnected today. The Barna Group found that nearly half of American teens (48%) spend their free time on social media or texting with friends.
Because social media allows users to present the best versions of themselves, users are susceptible to falling into the temptations of self-glorification, comparison, discontentment, and idolatry.”
And this goes beyond smartphones, robots, technology, innovation or Artificial Intelligence to all of life. Refuse what distracts us from God. Embrace what draws us closer to Him. Nothing including no “new thing” takes God by surprise. After all, He is the creative force behind all things new.
Ancient wisdom provides practical application today. "Everything is permissible for me" – but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me" – but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Cor 6:12 NIV)
Dr Andrew Goh is the editor of Impact magazine.
Vol. 44 no.2 of IMPACT Magazine
CYBERSPACE, THE NEW MEDIATOR... Religion in the technological age
DON'T GET LEFT BEHIND... Enhancing comms and community
CHURCHES AND THE PROFESSIONAL FUTURIST... An interview with Jay Gary
FACEBOOK AND SOCIAL MEDIA... The new age of the church
FLIPPING THE UNIVERSITY TO REACH A DYING WORLD... An interview with Mike Mathews
TECHNOLOGY... You can't live without IT, but you can live with it? The IMPACT Panel responds
THE LAND OF ISRAEL... What God has to say about its future
TAKING SIDES... The Christian and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict