Technology as Iconic

From Tim Dalrymple:

Are we deaf to the marvels around us?

Why is that so? If it is extraordinary that God could make rivers, is it not even more extraordinary that God should make humans with the ingenuity to cross those rivers by designing and building bridges? If we should give thanks to God for the beauty of the ocean, should we not give thanks to God for the beauty — and utility — of the microchip? Is it not ingenious that God should make human eyes that can observe the regularities of nature, human brains that can penetrate those regularities to the laws beneath them, human imaginations that can devise new ways of making use of those laws, and human hands that can go about building and distributing new forms of technology? Technology has made shelters and irrigated fields, has crosses rivers and tunneled through the earth, has eliminated diseases and provided the means to overcome disabilities and handicaps, has given us undreamt-of powers of communication and organization….

Do you see the problem? The natural world is filled with “pointers” toward God, yet few of us work amidst the wonders of the natural world. More of us work amidst the wonders of technology, yet since we cannot see these things as pointers to God. Thus we are effectively cut off from God in our places of work. If we could sit in front of a computer and marvel at the work of God in fashioning a creation and creature for which such a computer is possible — then we would find ourselves surrounded by pointers to God.

And those who work in industry and technology, in chemistry and engineering, should know not only that they engage in the holy work of redeeming creation and making it fruitful but that the works of their hands give evidence of the creative power of God.

Yes, it is extraordinary that God should build a mountain. But it is more extraordinary still that God should make people who can move mountains.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Tim

    Scot,

    The human ability to build a microchip is a pointer to God? Naturally formed rivers are pointers to God?

    What is the natural explanation for these phenomenon that you find so lacking that these serve as pointers?

    In order for something to serve as a “pointer” it must do as good a job or better of accounting for the phenomenon in question than an alternative explanation, and it should avoid being superfluous to the explanation.

    Now, perhaps I can see “consciousness” as being a “pointer” to God, as it may be at this point an equally viable explanation as a presuming a naturalistic alternative. Certainly aesthetic experiences of nature could also be “pointers.”

    But why human problem solving and ingenuity? Why a naturally formed river? Seriously, how are these pointers? Could you please lay out how you’ve arrived at this inference from what I imagine you to believe is a base experiential ground within which all humanity can participate (i.e., a Biblicist response wouldn’t be appropriate for the argument you are making)?

  • http://unveiledface.blogspot.com Mick Porter

    As an IT worker, this is of real interest. There’s a bit of a flipside though – why is technology so dependent on cheap labour? My understanding is that the cost of end-to-end production of a typical device, if made entirely in a Western country, would be a very large multiple of current costs and essentially prohibitive. God makes people who design clever things but who also rely on what is essentially slavery to supply them…

  • Tim

    …just observed excerpt above is from Tim Dalrymple, so #1 may or may not apply to you Scot depending on your level of support for his arguments. But if you or anyone else wishes to champion them, please have at it.

  • http://randomthoughtsbychris.blogspot.com Chris

    #2, Mick: I think that everything has a flipside in the world as it currently stands; rivers can flood, the atmosphere produces hurricanes and tornadoes, the earth provides volcanic activity and earthquakes … even the “natural” pointers to God have their issues … just a thought …

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    …I did not read the other comments, but…

    I am *always* amazed that we live in a body that we have no idea how it works yet it does and we take it for granted. Its like seeing living dust, then being amazed by it, the realizing that the living dust sees it as being commonplace.

  • JHM

    Tim,

    I don’t think the intention of the post was to exclude natural causes or origins. I think the point was for the Christian we often recognise God’s hand and providence in nature and natural phenomenon, but are maybe too jaded to see it as much in the activities of humanity. That’s what I got out of it in any case.

    You sometimes read or hear things from people that give you the impression they think what is natural is “divine” and what is human is “evil”. I think maybe Dalrymple is trying to push against that.


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