Is technology spiritually neutral?

Common Misconceptions:
At first glance it would appear that technology and religion are only as related as the person who chooses to connect them and that they are strongly distinct from each other. Technology is commonly thought to be rooted in modern human invention just as religion is seen as a Divine plan from the beginning of time.

They represent different sources and very different purposes. The measure of their relation in that context would be limited to the relationship of a person and God, each one allowing for only as much collaboration as the individual and God might imagine and implement.

Technology is understood today in terms of scientific development and mostly fixed in a digital framework where religion is thought to be more of a natural part of mankind, much less informed by technology.

How then can they be considered in relationship?
Both Tim Challies and John Dyer submit a different possibility that deserves our contemporary attention. Utilizing their similar definition of technology as “the human activity of using tools to transform God’s creation for practical purposes,”* we can immediately match the creative nature of God to the created nature of humankind in “the image of God.” (Gen 1:26)

Continuation of Creation
The constructive activity of mankind is then identified as a continuation of God’s creation in the development of farming tools as implied in Genesis 2:15 where mankind was put in the Garden of Eden to “till it and keep it” according to God’s wishes. This continuation of God’s creation comes forward through time until this very moment where mankind continues the activity of using tools to transform God’s creation for practical purposes. We can see then that this activity is associated with humankind’s relationship with God, known as religion. They are undoubtedly related intimately and eternally.

Nothing New Under the Sun
Ecclesiates 1:9-10 reads this way:

9 “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has already been, in the ages before us.”

Because we mostly think of technology in contemporary terms, such an assertion related to this subject seems suspect. There are, however, overarching aspects of the technology and religion that are supported by this Ecclesiastics assertion. All through the ages mankind has been using tools to transform God’s creation for practical purposes. Even the latest technology cannot claim to be new in that sense. The impact upon humankind and its stimulative affect is not particularly new either. The measurement of such varies from generation to generation as does the specific results of the precise tools against its practical purposes, but it doesn’t necessarily make it new. The makeup of the tools change with improvements, but their essence is consistent with humankind’s continuation of God’s creation.

God is Eternal and So Is His Plan
According to Isaiah 57:15, “God inhabits eternity.” We also understand from 2 Timothy 1:9 that God, “who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…” (NRSV)

God has known all along of the technological expectations of his creation through the years. Not limited by time or space, he knows where it comes from and has seen its effect upon his creation, both in how our lives are changed externally and internally.

When we recognize that he even assigned it to us as a part of his purpose in Christ Jesus before the ages began, we can also recognize that technology, like all of God’s good creation is meant to enhance our relationship with Him and others in what we call religion.

Perspective
From the creation story we observe the creation of earth with minerals and metals in the ground and plant life. This in itself excites us. All the while, God was creating a Baby Grand Piano, and an automobile, and a skyscraper to mention only a few things. Further to the plants, we saw beautiful flowers and enjoyed heavenly scents. He was establishing colors, medicines and a daily course of appreciation, hoping we’d “stop to smell the roses.”

We saw a sandy beach to catch some sun rays. He sees the many purposes of glass, and silicone computer chips under those waves on the seashore. No wonder the grains of sand are uncountable.

We saw Adam and Eve. He saw each of us in them. What do we see when we look into a mirror? He sees much more, and He saw it all from before day one.

We saw lightning in the sky. He was thinking electric power grids and the internet and who knows what next.

When I read Psalm 19, I can’t help but reflect on what God was seeing about today.

1 “The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.”

Even if the Psalmist couldn’t conceive of the possibilities of these verses, God knew when He inspired the words to be written. It makes it believable to accept the Tim Challies’ concept that “ultimately, then, God himself is the author of all technology.”**

Is technology spiritually neutral?
From what we’ve studied here, I conclude that technology is not spiritually neutral. Certainly, technology can be used negatively or positively based upon the hands of the holder. But as a constructive, strategic part of God’s plan, it is meant to becomes an inherently positive spiritual force.

Mankind itself was designed to honor God in this way. “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:10 NRSV) So the transformational work of our hands are ordained by God himself.

* Dyer, John 2011 From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology, Kregel Publications, 2011 1090 of 3483
** Challies, Tim. The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion. (Kindle Edition) 57 of 981

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