Summary: How should the Christian view technology?
Technology and the Soul of Man
We live in a blizzard of new technology today. We even wonder how we could live without it. I can remember the surprise snowstorm which hit the South in March of 1993 when the power was out in some places here for a week. It was interesting to see how much things were affected here back then. Now, such an outage would be absolutely disruptive.
To give an example of this, I can remember going to a large Christian youth event and seeing the young people gathered around in a large room texting and staring at their phones. No one was looking at one another. This room had large couches on it, and there was a teenage boy on one end of the sofa texting a teenage girl. I could see a sense of excitement on the young man as though he had some affection for the girl he was texting. As it turned out, the young lady he was texting was sitting at the other end of the couch! My have times changed! Wonderful, this new technology!
Now technology can be used to good purposes. Martin Luther was a master of the new technology of his day, the printing press. This mastery of the press led to a much needed reformation of the church and a reordering of society. In the same way, the Internet provides an opportunity to broadcast the gospel to the world. In fact, this is why I publish my sermons on-line. But we must also be critical of technology as well. This is especially true in a world that is becoming increasingly godless. What affect does technology have on the soul of man. Let us take a look.
The first place to evaluate technology is to see what the Bible says about it. At the very beginning we see that God created the world by speaking rather than making it with His hands. I know there is metaphor being used here, but the Bible clearly wants us to observe the distinction between how God creates and how we create. In addition, God created all from nothing, whereas we have to create using raw materials of God’s creation.
In the passage we read from this morning, we are introduced to man’s introduction of technology. In says Enoch made the first city, Jubal made the first musical instrument, and that Tubal-Cain was the master of crafting in bronze and iron. It is very important to notice here that all of these mentioned people were of the line of Cain and not Seth. Whereas the seed of Seth was preserved through the flood, all of Cain’s descendants perished. So very early in the Bible, technology made by the hands of man is seen in a negative light. They are associated with ultimate destruction rather than the means of making a better world.
The downward spiral of Cain’s line was remarkable, I was started by a cursed murderer, Cain and spiraled downward. Even as technology advanced, the soul of man declined. We read of Lamech’s miserable poem glorying in his killing a man. Later the Bible mentions the sons of god sleeping with the daughters of men. We don’t know exactly what that means, but whatever it was, it was in a context of something that was displeasing to God. Finally, the last straw was that the world was filled with violence. Technology did not make for a better world. This is because the hearts of men were corrupt and evil. Technology could only amplify the power to do evil. The result was the utter annihilation of the effort. The flood came, and only Noah and his family found grace in the sight of the Lord.
When on continues through the story of the Scripture, this tension between God and technology and the artifices of men continues to play out. We see what happened with Nimrod and the Tower of Babel. God with a lesser judgment than the Flood confused the tongues of men to prevent them from co-operating on a project which would have been disastrous to the souls of men.
Abraham was called out of the technologically advanced city of Ur to being a shepherd on the fringe of the Canaanite land. And when God fulfilled His promise to Abraham in giving possession of Canaan land to His descendants, he warned the people of Israel not to take up their ways. They had used technology to make gods to worship with their hands. They had erected altars upon which innocent children were burned alive. They had horse-powered chariots of iron. They had advanced technology and lived in walled cities. Yet, God has Israel shout a few words and the walls of Jericho fall down. The city is destroyed with its wealth except for Rahab whose faith in the God of Israel saved her and her family.