If it is true, as I’m beginning to be able to see, that technology took a radical turn at the scientific revolution, from mere tool to way of seeing and being: If, then the implications go way way down. To backup a little, Heidegger says that the Rhine used to have water wheels in it. That was technology as a tool. There is no human inference with the nature of things. The technology, if we can even call it that, is benign. (Even the word technology is a spawn of the modern way of thinking, per Canadian George Grant.) However, now the Rhine has been dammed multiple times in its course from Eastern Europe, is it Romania that is the headwaters, all the way to the Dutch and German coast (better get out my google map and remind myself of Rotterdam, up to where…). When the Rhine is dammed, human mastery has taken over and reshaped the river. Modern technology is primarily the expression of that human-first way of thinking. We are the masters. We do what we wish. There is no inherent purpose in nature, other than that which we humans shape, ourselves. You could well call this way of thinking “practical nihilism.” Indeed, humans must now start shaping ourselves. We also are part of nature, after all. So human nature, not just inanimate nature, can (and must) be reshaped. Will we still be human when somebody manipulates DNA to put an ox’s head onto a human body? Well, if there is no God, and no inherent purpose in the universe, the answer is (Nietzsche’s) Yes. God help us. As Heidegger, follower of Neitzsche, both of whom no believers said, Only a god can save us. Quite a statement.
When we apply the modern way of thinking to a Christian life, what results? The trick of all of this area of thinking is that so much of it seems Christian-friendly. Are not human supposed to dominate, be lords of, nature? Are they not supposed to fill the earth and subdue it? Are we not supposed to fulfill the inherent potentials that the Creator placed in the Creation, as gifts. The gifts can be used for good or ill, yes. We see that in Genesis Chapter 4 and 5, immediately after the expulsion from the Garden. The metal-workers are extending the potentials of the Creation. The first musicians are developing the good gift of music. But neither of these is doing so to the glory of God. Great cities are built, but the writer of Genesis is laconic about these superb achievements. They are built for human glory, not divine. So the potentials that are being unfolded from the Creation can be unfolded to the honour of God, or to the honour of passing humanity. The greatest achievements prove hollow in the face of pervasive death. (See under Becker, Denial of Death, for more.)
The problem with the modern world from a Christian point of view is that it is SO LIKE what the Christian real thing might look like. We could add, like Charles Taylor, that a modern polity, modern secularity, owes much to Protestantism. To stick to the techn-subject, though: The potentials are God’s potentials. But when humans come to the challenge FOR OURSELVES, the potentials are twisted in entirely the wrong direction. They are apt to turn around and whap us. See under “Daiichi,” for a fairly surfacey example.
My intention in starting this peekaboo diary entry was to ask: what therapies are available for a Christian who wishes to get out of his inborn, inculcated worldview and into a God-fearing one? “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (I could imagine another post or 100 on the topic of right reasonable fear.) Well, my suggestion for now is: Read the Psalms. Or, read Job. Or, read Ecclesiastes. Why these? If one is soaked in these, meditates on these, primal life is there. There is primal fear. The writers walk on the edge of the pit. Or who cry from the middle, as water rises past their necks to the nose. Comfortable people have a hard time relating. My friend spoke this week of a dweller in depression and addiction who is a believer in the midst of daily Hell, and who leads the most amazing studies on the psalms with homeless people. This dark dwelling brother can see and appreciate the scriptures as me, who just finished my cereal and milk and an espresso, can barely imagine. I am resolving to start soaking in the Psalms to flush out the excessive confidence in my own planning and articulating. God help me.