Russell and Duenes

Some Unoriginal Thoughts on Technology

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When I was teaching, my high school juniors and I have discussed issues pertaining to all of the technology that fills one’s life here in modernity. It is impossible, and not even desirable, to imagine living without many of the technological advances that we take for granted everyday. Yet our interaction with technology, as with everything else, calls for wisdom and discernment. I offered these thoughts to my students and now offer them to you.

1. The modern technological advances that we enjoy are a cause for praising and thanking God. God has been good to us in gracing people with the know-how and creative ability to devise so many things we enjoy, which include but are not limited to: Antibiotics, Refrigeration, Indoor plumbing, air conditioning, vaccinations, computers, phones, airplanes, movies, mechanical farming, telescopes and microscopes, MRI machines, ultrasound, washers and dryers, stereo systems, grocery stores, cameras, and much more which we cannot even begin to imagine living without.

The Scripture says that “everything God created is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” (1 Tim.4:4)

2. No technology and nothing about technology changes anything that is fundamental to human existence. That is, God created us; we have rebelled against him by preferring other things instead of him; the penalty for this rebellion is bondage to sin, death, and hell; Christ came to set sinners free from the power of sin and death, and he alone can do this; and we come to know and experience eternal life by giving the controls of our life (and our technology) over to Christ. No technology can nullify, circumvent, change, overrule, or alter any of these facts about human existence, as much as we try. This is most important. Jesus said, “Humans…live upon every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Hebrews says we are to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.”

3. We must beware of the over-promises that come with technology. Our culture tells us that technology will change the fundamental nature of what it means to be human, will give us a way to get around the problems we face, will make our lives better in every way. Technology promises to fulfill us, satisfy our heart’s desires, and give us more efficient, trouble-free lives. But the realities remain the same. There’s no getting away from ourselves. The apostle John tells us: “Do not love the world, neither the things in the world; for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, is not of the Father but of the world. Now the world is passing away, and also its desires, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

4. Technology comes to us in various mediums (i.e., audio, visual, musical, type, digital, video, etc), and these mediums are not neutral. The medium itself imposes certain intellectual, emotional and physical adaptations upon us. As Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium IS the message.” Thus, it not only matters WHAT we watch on TV, but THAT we watch TV at all. The medium of TV changes the way we think and act and affects our attitudes toward life. Or take your ipod. By its very nature it is designed to be a solo endeavor. You put the buds in your ears and you’re in your own world. The unspoken rule for someone listening to their ipod is: “Don’t bug me.” We used to not allow ipods on our school bus trips, but now we do. Two guesses as to what has happened to conversation between students on the bus. God has spoken in various mediums, but our highest authority is the Word of God. We must conform ourselves to it.

5. Christians must be discerning in our use of technology, understanding the ways that it benefits us as well as the ways it encourages us away from God. John tells us to “test the spirits to see if they are from God.” We are to seek wisdom and discernment, according to the Proverbs, and “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Storing up God’s commands and promises in our hearts will help us rightly use and appreciate our technologies. Being in fellowship with God’s people will also help us.

6. Certain technologies create habits and attitudes in us that contradict God’s will. Certain technologies teach us that speed and efficiency are the keys to the good life, but Scripture contradicts this. God is not “speedy” in changing us and He commands us to learn patience and perseverance. Certain technologies teach us that we can avoid suffering or inconvenience, but God contradicts this. God calls us into suffering for Christ’s sake: “Take up your cross and follow me.” Certain technologies teach us to avoid personal interactions with people, but God contradicts this. He commands us to have fellowship together and to cultivate face-to-face relationships where we can practically love and serve others. Certain technologies teach us that we can “have it all” in life, and sway us toward ingratitude when the technology doesn’t “fix” our lives. God teaches us contentment in Christ and the realization that we are “aliens and strangers on earth.” Certain technologies teach us to use other people for our own ends (e.g., to get their stem cells or their eggs), but God tells us to “do to others as you would have them do to you.”

7. Technology should point us to God and should advance his kingdom purposes (e.g., listening to a symphony with all the various instruments working together to play a beautiful piece can point us to the wondrous unity and diversity within the Trinity.). Technology should encourage us to think and feel in ways that honor God (Certain movies can direct our affections toward God and get us thinking about His world.). Technology should help us accomplish the purposes of God (e.g., showing the Jesus Film to unreached peoples, traveling to foreign countries to preach the gospel, bringing medical help to the impoverished of the world, teaching farming techniques to the poor, calling friends to encourage them in God, sending care packages to missionaries, writing songs that honor God in composition, style and lyrics, etc.).



Written by Michael Duenes

January 7, 2010 at 4:43 am

Posted in Duenes, Ethics

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