Few factors are more important for youth, youth leaders, and all of us, than the issue of technology. It is not only an important; it is a complex matter. Therefore we ought to make sure about what we are discussing.
Wikipedia defines Technology as “the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology, accessed 30Sep2011.)
The Global Dictionary of Theology (ed. Dyrness & Karkkainen, article on Technology by David W. Gill, pp. 870-874) explains that “the word technology derives from two Greek roots, techne and logos…” From its literal meaning of study of technique, skill, art, and craft, it was gradually used, not just for the study, but the actual development of skills and craft. Technology was the knowledge and skill to do or make something. Technology now refers to tools and techniques themselves.
From the use of fire, the making of tools, the invention of the wheel and written languages, technology has greatly changed human culture and civilization. Technologies use natural resources to modify and control our natural environments.
Plato seems to have opposed the technology of writing and educating people to read. Similarly, the invention of the printing press, pencil erasers, television and the Internet have raised grave objections for various reasons from thoughtful critics.
Technology’s benefits are enjoyed by all and admitted by most. Even life on a primitive, self-sustaining farm uses forms of technology. Technologies benefit most of us from morning to night, at home, school or work, in leisure and social relations—even in places of worship if there are lights in the sanctuary.
Still we are frightened by the destructive power of weapons of unthinkable power, their use by terrorists, the possibilities of cyber-warfare, pollutions, and the melting of the Arctic icecap.
Besides possible world devastation, we also wonder what digital and other technologies are doing to our quality of life.
After describing the many benefits of technology, the Dictionary of Global Theology comments on “bad technology.”
Bad technology… respects no temporal boundary (but rather erases the rhythm of life and invades human rest); bad technology respects no spatial boundary (but invades everywhere it can; “if it can be done, it will be done”). Bad technology is motivated and justified only by curiosity, profit-motives and a will to power (rather than by a sense of God’s calling and purposes). Bad technology proclaims its own goodness (or neutrality—which is the same thing), instead of seeking a moral evaluation from God. Bad technology grasps for autonomous knowledge of good and evil from the forbidden tree (“we shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”).
From a position of biblical faith, this article calls for a return to the doctrine of Creation for a fuller appreciation of technological advances and restraint of its misuse. “Creation is the starting point, but we must proceed to redemption to develop a fully Christian view of technology…. Christians seeking God’s guidance for a creative and redemptive technology must not only be instructed by the Word of God, but must also seek the guiding power of God’s Holy Spirit.”
Today’s technological crises call for collaboration between people of all faiths and those of a secular mind. All who seek justice and the common good are needed to fight the forces of unrestrained greed and lust for power—which lead to violent conflict and poverty of human spirit.
This is a topic needing to be studied and discussed; it cannot be given a low priority.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
How important is technology in your life, the lives of your family and friends, the lives of young people today?
How would you have written an introductory article on technology? What comments or questions do you have on this article?
If you were discussing the benefits and dangers of technology with 8-10-year-olds, what do you think they would have to say?
How would such a discussion be different among teenagers… or among college young adults in their twenties?
What do you consider the greatest technological danger to our world today?
What are technology’s dangers to you personally… and to your family and friends?
How would you go about leading a discussion or discussions on technology?
Whether from a faith or strictly scientific perspective, human beings seem destined to make things (homo faber).
The huge question is whether we will control those things for the good of humanity (and people of faith would say, the glory of God) or those things will control us. That is the big question this topic seeks to explore.