Is technology an undeniable blessing to the world: lifting people out of poverty, curing disease, functionally ending mass starvation, and connecting us all instantly in ways unimaginable just thirty years ago? Or is technology a curse that enables tyrants to watch our every move, allows the loudest crackpots to define our public discourse, undermines historic virtues, and further alienates us from those we should love and care for most? According to Tony Reinke’s new book God, Technology, and the Christian Life, it’s complicated.
But then again, Reinke reminds us, it’s always been complicated. The first technological advances were made by members of Cain’s line (Genesis 4), which were then put to work and advance in the construction of Noah’s ark. The first major work of an entire people was an act of rebellion in the building of the Tower of Babel, yet the common technological development of agriculture is also applied by every people for the common good. Again, it’s complicated.
This book is also complicated, but in a good way. Drawing on a spectrum of thinkers from John Calvin to Elon Musk, Reinke encourages us to be cautiously optimistic about the role of technology in our lives. We should strive to avoid tech avoidance–it’s not really possible anyway, and taking that route just lets others set the terms by which we engage with technology. But we should also strive to avoid tech utopianism. Technology is a common grace gift to the world to soften the effects of sin and lighten the weight of the curse, but it is also as fallen as the rest of the world and can be abused as often and as much as anything else. Again, it’s complicated.
What’s not complicated is that this is an excellent book that you should pick up and read.