A Default Positive View of Technology

I love gadgets. Always have. On hand, I typically have one of the newest computers from Apple, an iPad, and an iPhone, and a number of other cool tools: a Dot Grid journal, the perfect pen, the best mouse, a good flashlight, a nice bag to carry them all in. The design of all this is to make my work seamless and effective as possible. I have many ideas, and a lot to get done. This requires discipline, and the right tools. And this is the way God intended it.

In the Christian world, there seems to be a general air of suspicion and lament at technology, that somehow technology itself is a disruption to our lives, causing distraction, bringing temptation, a difficulty to be endured. In fact, in the middle of writing this post, Desiring God published a blog post warning of being over-fascinated with newness, a good warning, one which we should heed.

However, I take a default positive view of technology. Technology is a gift to us from God, through His human agents who, believer or not, produce wonderful works and tools that make us more effective in our work on this Earth. That work being typified in the “first Great Commission” as “subduing it and filling it”, think gardening as a metaphor, the ordering of chaos, causing things around you to grow and thrive, writ large and in many arenas. This is evidence of God’s providence, care, creativity, and common grace toward all mankind.

We ought to rejoice when the new iPhone is announced, or when John Deere produces the next generation of tractor, or when Cutco brings us razor sharp kitchen knives, or when Dyson produces gorgeous and useful vacuum cleaners, or when Audi crafts beautiful vehicles or when Facebook created an amazing service that allows you to connect with long-lost friends and distant relatives and stay up-to-date with the major happenings of their lives (more on this in an upcoming post).

Conversely we should mourn a bit when a company, driven solely by the bottom line cranks out blatant low-quality knock offs of these things: tools that break easily, interfaces that cause confusion rather than assist effortless usage, blades that dull quickly, pens that don’t let ink flow smoothly and evenly.

Technology, like money, is morally neutral. Is it possible to idolize it? Yes. Is it possible to be distracted from our God-given tasks by them? Absolutely. Is there a Righteous way to marvel at the iPhone 5 and desire to own one? YES!

I suggest you take a default positive view of technology, see it as a gift from God, for the purpose of effectively carrying out your calling on the planet. If an iPad will not help you toward this end, do not buy one. But if it might, I suggest you experiment. It may just be the missing piece in a killer work flow that will unlock a tidal wave of effectiveness in God-glorifying labor.


5 responses to “A Default Positive View of Technology”

  1. Jesse Gardner Avatar

    Hm. Much as I’d like to jump into this idea head-first, I’m a little confused. On one hand, you state that technology is morally neutral, then you argue for us to take a default positive view of technology.

    All technology has an ideological bent. This ideology might be bad and might be good—and the ideology behind it will impact whether or not it should be embraced. All technology has intended and unintended uses; these should also be evaluated when considering a new technology.

    I think probably what you mean is: don’t be afraid to embrace a new technology for God-glorifying purposes. But it comes across a bit more like, “Rejoice in all new technology”, which is problematic.

    1. Matt Heerema Avatar

      Some refinement is in order, perhaps then. I suppose I felt the boundaries were obvious (rejoicing in the creation of new weapons of mass destruction, for example… )

      1. Jesse Gardner Avatar

        Well, the obvious is obvious, but the not-so-obvious where most people live, I think—a fancier car, this year’s latest digital trend, whatever the next-door neighbor just bought. Most people’s default state (ok, MY default state) is to buy the marketing hype of technology that promises newer, better, more satisfying. I think we all need a good dose of discernment to see if technology we’re embracing is worth the cost.

        That said, I’m an anti-Luddite, so perhaps this message is for some more distrusting of technology than me…

        1. Matt Heerema Avatar

          But this doesn’t have to do with the technology, that has to do with our wrong hearts toward it, which is a different point. MY point is that there is a way to have a right heart about technology, and that we should start with it.

  2. James Kinnard Avatar
    James Kinnard

    Appreciated this post, Matt

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