Russell and Duenes

covetousness: the engine of innovation?

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I was listening to atheist Christopher Hitchens today explain why the Ten Commandments are garbage and should be considered ridiculous. He waived most of them off with a word and then declared that the command against covetousness was particularly ill-conceived because, according to him, covetousness is the engine that drives progress and “innovation.” This sounded like it had some force until I started meditating on it. Surely many goods we enjoy have been developed because of the inventor’s desire to attain something – fame, status, money – that others have in greater measure than he. But is covetousness really the engine that drives human invention and innovation, by and large? I have no way of knowing, of course (and neither does Hitchens), but as I generally considered the sweep of western civilization, one could just as well argue that invention and innovation were sought as a means of glorifying God and attaining to his likeness in some measure through one’s creativity and ingenuity. My hypothesis would be that much more human innovation has been driven by a desire simply to help other people or to honor God than has been driven by a desire to have what others have. Call me crazy!


Written by Michael Duenes

January 9, 2010 at 6:39 am

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

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