The Technological Leap of Man

The cover of our magazine for this issue is a reminder of how far man has come in the last 100 years. In 1903, people were still relying to a great extent on horse power and, for the most part, the concept of man flying was not considered a real possibility. Communication in 1903 was slow, awkward, and difficult. If someone had suggested that we would be using satellites to talk to people on a telephone on the other side of the world, they would have been considered at best an unrealistic dreamer.

With all of this technology has come a multitude of problems. Personal privacy is easier to invade today than it was in 1903. Trying to keep children protected from those who would exploit or abuse them is a whole different challenge. The availability of pornography and the ease with which people can spend themselves into bankruptcy have also increased.

All of this just emphasizes the need to know what we believe and why we believe it. God never placed any physical limits on man nor on what man would be able to do. We have not been commanded by God to stay on this planet, and even though we have had people who even opposed man flying or using powered vehicles, there is no biblical teaching that supports this. By the same token, there is nothing in the Bible that places medical limits on what man can do. As technology improves, more and more ways are being found to replace a natural part of the body with a man-made substitute. Diabetics take insulin, kidney patients undergo dialysis, hip and knee replacements are now commonplace, and rapid progress is being made on artificial hearts, livers, and other organs.

This does not mean that man is less dependent on God or that someone is making a religious compromise when they take advantage of technology to relieve pain or extend life. What all of this does do is to emphasize the importance of separating the physical from the spiritual. Jesus stated a basic principle when He said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21). The statement was made in reference to the separation of Church and State, but the principle is far broader than that. Communication, medicine, travel (whether on earth or off the earth), nutrition, housing, and countless other areas that attract our attention are not the domain of religion. That is not to say that the values of people and the way decisions are made are not affected by their religious beliefs, but it is to say that religion does not control or dictate these things. It is only when we violate this principle that technology becomes a problem.

The teachings of Christ and the apostles dealt with man's spiritual needs and with man's relationship to his fellow human beings. When Jesus wanted to impress his followers with what a Christian's relationship should be to the people around them, He washed His disciples feet (the lowliest of all possible acts) and then commanded them to do the same kind of thing. There will always be the need for service to people that requires "getting down and dirty" no matter how sophisticated technology gets. There is also always going to be the need for men and women to look beyond themselves and look to those things that nourish and sustain their souls. Technology may change the way in which worship, art, and music are conducted; but the basic spiritual expressions of man will remain the same. Sheet music, polymer paints, holograms, and the like have not altered man's basic capacity to do these things.

It is an exciting time to be alive. Great strides are being made to reduce human suffering and physical want, but less progress is being made in meeting the growing spiritual needs of people living amidst all of this technological achievement. Let us not be fearful of what technology does, but rejoice in the positive--that being a productive, positive relationship to God, and a growth in the lifestyle that this relationship fosters. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-25). 

--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, JulAug03.