These days we take rapid scientific and technological progress as a given in modern life. As we grow more and more dependent upon modern gadgetry in almost all aspects of our lives, we believe – or at least assume – that technology will save us from any challenges or threats that may come. Are we overlooking a serious risk or threat from within as we place so much confidence in our growing scientific knowledge and technical abilities?
Technology itself is morally neutral. How that technical know how is used is not morally neutral. Greater medical knowledge has led to some diseases being nearly eradicated from our planet. But greater scientific and technical knowledge has given us nuclear, chemical and biological weapons which can destroy much life on our planet.
Amidst this rapid scientific and technological progress of recent decades, has there been an improvement in man? He still has a very flawed character that is evidenced by his focus on narrow, short term goals that tend to ignore or down play longer term challenges. (As well, the killing in the name of religion and/or ideology is still with us and is made all the more dangerous through advances in technology.) An over emphasis on technological proficiency can keep many of us immersed in details and makes seeing the “bigger picture” more difficult.
Scientific and technological progress has made man more comfortable, extended his average lifespan, given him novelties in entertainment, and given him a sense of power over nature. But, we are woefully lacking in wisdom and that impairs our judgement. Our growth in power has outpaced our growth in wisdom. It does not seem realistic to assume that we will grow in wisdom as so many of us live more of a virtual life than a real one. It may just be that to understand ourselves, we need to grow in understanding of others. More authentic human interaction can help us here. Witty text messages (or Facebook comments) are not a substitute for in person communication. Growth in wisdom may come mainly through the authentic experiences a person has while living an authentic life.
A downside to modern technology is that it has helped to distance us from nature. It is likely more spiritually healthy and good for mental health when we take a break from the TV and the hand-held devices, at least for a time. Is it not better to take a hike in the hills for ourselves than to passively watch a video of someone else hiking?
A final point I wish to make in this post is about the future for coming generations. What kind of world are we making for our children and grand children? Hopefully, there will be living examples for them of individuals who live authentic lives. (Parents can opt to spend more time with their children rather than sitting them in front of a TV or giving them another gadget to occupy their time.)
This recent image of holiday ornaments might remind one of the double helix strand of DNA which is a discovery of modern science in the past 60 years.
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