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Mar 28, 2011

A Counselor Looks at Facebook

Article about how Facebook is about false intimacy.

That resonates with me. I describe Facebook as "a way to think you're keeping up with people." It is nice to get some inkling of what old friends are up to that are far away. But, it is terribly easy to put forward a false image and to engage in false relationships that may feel more fulfilling that a marriage.

Mar 23, 2011

"New" Technology?

I have struggled with Ecclesiastes 1:9-11. I have made many "new" things in my life, particularly computer software that didn't exist before. How many people, engineers, computer scientists, artists, architects, craftsmen, have made something "new" that was never seen before? Assuming (as I do) that Scripture is the inerrant, infallible Word of God, what does it mean here?

I went to Matthew Henry for some insight. He points out that new things may not be new as they may have come before and simply not been recorded, and that there is nothing new in natural creation as it was finished on the sixth day. The hearts of men are the same, so corruption and sin always run their course with ancient heresies and false philosophies.

But, I ask, what about the moon landing? Surely that is one of the greatest technological achievements and something that is "new." Well, I think from the perspective of this passage, no, that is not new. Travel by various contrivance is not new. The moon itself and all the gravitational forces between it and the earth are not new. Going someplace people have not been before is not new. We learned a great deal about how the world and universe work, but was it really new? Though difficult for me, I must conclude that the Apollo program was not "new" in the sense of this passage.

As Matthew Henry quotes:
Tatianus the Assyrian, showing the Grecians how all the arts which they valued themselves upon owed their original to those nations which they counted barbarous, thus reasons with them: "For shame, do not call those things eureseis—inventions, which are but mimeseis—imitations."

To conclude, a major application Henry makes is to show us our pride in thinking we came up with something new rather than pursuing what is truly new - new life in Christ. And indeed such mercies are new every morning.

Mar 21, 2011

Prayer for Japan

Considering the terrible devastation in Japan, I ask that you stop and pray for the people affected.

It has been remarkable to watch some of the many videos from the tsunami - seeing how much infrastructure is simply washed away by the torrent of water. That's a lot of technology that used to be people's dwellings, work places, comforts, and various means to earn income. Even worse, so many have lost their lives.

Some of the videos that affected me the most were from aircraft showing the water as it was washing over towns. In one, I noticed a vehicle driving on a road going toward the oncoming water. It stopped before the water got to it, turned around, and drove back. I wonder if the driver and any passengers are still alive.

Mar 16, 2011

Who built the ark? Noah, Noah...

Many are familiar with the story of Noah's ark, but have you ever thought of the technology involved? Look closely at the narrative. God gives some engineering specifications to this large structure: materials, dimensions, door location, and numbers of decks. Even with that (and assuming that is all of the revelation God gave Noah), Noah and his sons would have had to make many decisions about how to actually build the ark. And God, apparently, gave them the freedom to do that.

Also, the size of the ark is immense: a cubit is about 18 inches, so this is a 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high boat.

My takeaways:
  • Is there enough room for all those animals and their supplies for a whole year? Well, it certainly is a huge boat.
  • God gave some necessary specifications but not an exact blueprint. The rest was left to Noah & sons to figure out how to implement. Praise God that He gave us good minds to be able to figure out such problems.

Mar 14, 2011

Review: Devices of the Soul

Devices of the Soul: Battling for Our Selves in an Age of Machines by Steve Talbott is one of the books I found in the library during my browsing. I find he makes many similar points to The Soul in Cyberspace, though he does not work from a Christian foundation. I'd summarize the main point of this book as: we must be cautious of our habits and attitudes of our souls in the use of technology, lest we become accustomed to conforming to them rather than being human.

I'll focus on one way he works this out is related to disabilities. One may have some disability, but that may push you to have a different perspective on the world and indeed grow in ways others do not. Chapters 4 and 5 on this issue are really thought provoking. He shares an instance of a man who was blinded as a child, yet went on to be a major leader in the French Resistance in World War II.

My thought while reading these sections was on suffering. How do Christians view suffering? Do we run from it, like most Americans, that seek ever more comfort and security? Or do we understand that it is something that comes and that God uses it for our good (Romans 8:28)?

I suppose if I were disabled in some way, such as losing a limb, I would want the best technology available to replace the functionality I had. But, all things work together for good as scripture says. Perhaps the decision to get a prosthetic is not one we should make automatically, but thoughtfully. Is this change in life for my good? Undoubtedly. Is it more for my good if I do not use some technology to replace that functionality, but rather learn to function in different ways or be limited in one way and grow in another?

Though not written from a distinctly Christian viewpoint (the author states he was raised in a Christian home, but he makes no statement on his current beliefs), this is a thought provoking book about technology and how our beliefs should shape our view of it.

Mar 11, 2011

WIRED interview with article Edward Tenner

Go check out the WIRED interview with Edward Tenner. Interesting because it focuses on the consequences of technology - something I think Christians must think more about.