Saturday, July 4, 2009

Can the Bible help evaluate new technologies?

The previous post about theoblogging prompted me to think more about Christians evaluating technologies. It seems to me that almost all technologies are morally neutral. The question is how we put them to use. What potential do they have for good? for evil?

It is striking to me that most of the criticisms of theoblogging that are given in the comments section of Ben Myers post (n.b. the irony of people using blogs to spread the message that theoblogging is bad!) can be made of most media: books, sermons, conversations at church, Christian TV, DVD's, websites, sermons downloaded from blogs,....

All media have their strengths and weakness, limitations and problems for theological discourse. I don't think the most important issues with blogs are necessarily that different from other media. The real issue is how people use these different media and what mix they use and in what context.

I should stress that I am far from advocating a "laissez faire" attitude or trying to minimise or ignore problems associated with theoblogging. Some might consider me a bit of a "ludditte". My family does not have a TV. I am not an active mobile phone user. I get the bus to work and walk home. I don't pick up the phone in my office if I am meeting with someone. ..... But, these are purely lifestyle decisions based on what I think works best for me personally.

The broader issues of superficiality, tribalism, lack of accountability, and poor content are not particularly new or unique. But, the Bible does provide a framework in which to consider them. Consider for example what the Bible says about speech and about money:
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

James 4:7-12
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

1 Timothy 6:10
On a related issue some might be interested in a post on my work blog, Think twice before you send that email!

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