Saturday, October 03, 2009

Publications Project

Thomas was asked to write an article for a "publication" the middle school creative writing class was putting together. Here is what he contributed.


In the movie Contact Matthew McConaughey portrays Palmer Joss, a former priest studying the effects of technology on third world cultures. Later on in the film while being interviewed on the TV show Larry King Live he asks the question, “Has science and progress made us happier?” This is a profound statement from the mouth of a fictional character. With all of the high-tech gadgets available in the modern, industrialized world, have we become better people?

There can be no doubt that when we study history we see that technology has brought about progress and improved society. In the 16th century, Europe emerged from the Dark Ages and entered a new period of learning with the invention of the printing press. This technological advance allowed books and other forms of writing to be copied quickly and widely distributed. This led to an increase in the desire for, and necessity of, literacy. This intellectual and educational progress fed the Scientific Revolution as well as the Enlightenment. One of the most important contributors to the time period was Denis Diderot, who compiled and edited The Encyclopedia. Diderot, however, sensed where the increase in printed materials could lead and remarked that a “time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe.” He continued, noting that eventually “the world of learning—our world—will drown in books.”

While it would be difficult to say that our world is drowning in books, the world of 2009 could certainly be accused of drowning in information. According to some estimates, in recent years the amount of information available to the average individual in a modern society has doubled almost every two years. This vast amount of information that is only a click away has led to an increase in the amount of trivial information that people encounter and a decrease in the amount of time that people spend analyzing the value of that information. With this loss of focus in how we analyze what is put before us, we have a tendency to either accept whatever we read or see, or to become overwhelmed and apathetic. Either choice produces negative consequences that effect who we become as people.

The modern technologies that are available to us, cell phones, laptops, iPhones, iPods, and the like have all become integral parts of our lives. The question is have they encouraged us to grow as human beings? Sadly, most of the technologies discourage rather than encourage important things such as community. As recently as the latter part of the 20th century people rode on public transportation either in silence or in casual conversation. Now everyone has their ears plugged with buds from their mp3 players. One of the most popular places for people to gather for community is a coffee shop. Hilariously, if you go into a coffee shop what you find are lonely people seeking community by putting their earphones in and working silently on their computers.

In the first chapter of Genesis we are told that man was made in the image of God. This included the ability of man to be creative and improve his conditions. Unfortunately, man chose to sin in Genesis 3 and this brought about problems with this technological progress. Advances in technology have certainly made things better, but man’s tendencies frequently lead him to worship these advances rather than the God who inspired them (Rom. 1:25). This leads to negative consequences for people and slowing of their growth in relationship with both God and each other. Until people slow down and analyze the impact of technology on their lives, they will continue to be troubled by the unfulfilled longings of their high-tech hearts.

Quotations taken from the book Habits of the High-Tech Heart by Quentin J. Schultze.

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