Monday, July 25, 2011

Technology and Morality

In a recent interview with Christianity Today Kevin Kelly shared his thoughts on how God may think of the man-made technologies. Nicholas Carr, one of my favorite technology author and blogger, then shared his arguments against Kelly's viewpoints in two very interesting posts (1, 2). All of these discussions are worth of reading twice.

"Is technology a moral force?" Nick Carr asked this question in his second post. Kelly insisted that the progress of technology achievement makes our society better. Therefore, technology certainly is a moral force if we accept that we live happier and happier because of the technological achievements. By contrast, Carr believe that technology does nothing about goodness or badness. I incline to Nick's viewpoint on this topic though I agree more to Kevin's general worldview.

Technology contributes nothing to improve or to decrease the overall morality of the society. Technology is not a moral force that we may use to lift the happiness of people overall.

The central point in Kelly's argument is that the advance of technology provides people more options of living. Therefore, Kelly followed, by owning more options of living people are able to live better and be happier since they may then live in their preferred way and do their preferred things with the loosened constraints.

I do not agree to this point. For example, my parents do not feel happier with all the new technologies. Many times they talk about the good old days. Though the life seemed harder with little support from technology, they felt happier internally in their heart.

Technology brings nothing about "love", if it is what Kelly truly wanted to address. If Kelly's point is valid, won't we have to agree that rich people must be generally happier than poor people since rich people generally live with the more advanced technology? In fact, we do not have this conclusion over the history. Rich people do not have more love than poor people have. The enjoyment of the advanced technology does not lift the morality of the respective classes of people. Technology does provide more options of living. But the more options of living does not make people live in a higher moral life.

By reading the interview, I felt most astonished by the following claims by Kelly.

"We are here to surprise God. God could make everything, but instead he says, "I bestow upon you the gift of free will so that you can participate in making this world. I could make everything, but I am going to give you some spark of my genius. Surprise me with something truly good and beautiful." So we invent things, and God says, "Oh my gosh, that was so cool! I could have thought of that, but they thought of that instead."

We are not going to surprise God in any sense. As a matter of fact, I do not believe that God really cares any about our technological achievements. According to the Bible, anything must be realized immediately when God says so. Then which technology of us may surprise God. HE is beyond any technology! Will we be surprised by the greatest ever technology invented by ants (if ants may invent)? Let it alone that the greatest ever technology of mankind must have not been yet invented if there is a one.

Morality is the living standard God puts in our mind. The achievement of our technology is not going to improve it. Neither will it deprive morality. But God may still be happy of the technological improvement we make. It is not because through it we lift the morality of the society. It may only due to that by doing so we show that we want to help the others. This willing to help the others is a demonstration of love. And that is all what God really cares.

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