Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Neo-Narnian Ethics

In his recently published book, Above All Earthly Pow'rs (Eerdmans, 2005), David Wells observes that the "blessing" of modern technology is a "two edged sword" that contributes to the disappearance of human nature:

"On the one hand, it has allowed us to transcend our world, to achieve what was unimaginable only a short time ago, to effect an unparalleled degree of efficiency in the production of goods which fill our malls and showrooms, an elevation in their quality, a new array of medical procedures, more information, and more information spread more rapidly."

"On the other hand, what began as the physical conquest of our world by technology, the annihilation of apace and time, the control some of nature's forces, and the exploitation of its resources has now become a profoundly psychological reality. The benefits of technology all come packaged in values which are naturalist and materialist. These fill the air, quite literally, all the time. We find no solitude, no escape."

Nigel M. de S. Cameron echoes this insight in his article on C.S. Lewis's, The Abolition of Man, in this month's edition of Christianity Today:

"Lewis's key idea is that technology gives us power, power to do good or to do evil and modern technologies give us more and more power. But such power is not simply 'power over nature,' as we tend to say. It is the power some people exercise over other people, with 'nature' as their instrument."

"Lewis foresees that the result of the use and abuse of our 'power over nature' could be the end of human nature itself. Decades later, others saw that same truth, including Bill Joy, the techie pioneer who emerged as a secular prophet in our time with his April 2000 essay in Wired magazine 'Why the Future Doesn't Need Us' (another piece of essential reading for anyone interested in 21st century technology)."

See Cameron's article in Christianity Today at:

1 comment:

Ligon Duncan said...

This is excellent Brad. Thanks.