Thursday, March 1, 2012

High Tech Handicap

Hugh Ross of the Reasons to Believe organization has witten a new book entitled Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job (Baker Books, 2011). In one chapter he speaks of some of the modern handicaps to understanding and appreciating basic science which could give glory to the Creator and even strengthen belief in him. Job and his contemporaries did not suffer such handicaps.

Ross reminds us that a great majority of our population now lives in cities, away from meaningful contact with nature. Specialization in science professions deflects the layperson from their simpler recognition of God’s handiwork in the natural realm. We speak not only of the aesthetic beauty of nature but also of our understanding of authorship of the many orderly laws of nature, all of which reinforce belief in God. Science is often perceived as accessible only to specialists and inaccessible to the ordinary person. Therefore, the basic science which should inspire exuberant wonder, fascination, and awe, is often shunned, feared, or used inappropriately.

Our society demands specialization even in professions other than science. This has necessarily resulted in a narrower scope of interests and knowledge in many people. In turn, our population is more easily tilted toward a consumerist mentality in which natural inquiry is stifled. Our modern lifestyle does not lend itself to quality time for thoughtful contemplation of the design features supporting our existence on this planet.

What other factors have robbed us of time, and with its loss, the opportunity to learn more of the creative activities of our God who “created the heavens and the earth?” The answers should be discussed from our pulpits. Identifying time robbing factors is merely the prelude to our discussion. Time robbing activities of our modern culture leave us short on the opportunity and desire to contemplate the wonders of the natural world which could trigger a more refreshing God-awareness.

Our obsession with technology provides one of the best examples. Years ago we were concerned with the deleterious effects of watching too much television. But now we ask ourselves how much time we spend on social networks such as Facebook? How many hours do church folks, young and old, devote to checking and sending emails, gaming, Google searching, or speaking, texting, and sending photographs via the most recently marketed technological innovations? Our obsessions have made us enthusiastic consumers of these products. We have distanced ourselves from the joy of discovery of the basic principles and laws of science on which our modern technology depends.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) was a pre-eminent scientist who made foundational discoveries regarding the electromagnetic spectrum. Our instant, long distance, wireless communication systems are utterly dependent on application of his landmark discovery. Albert Einstein gave Maxwell, a devout Christian, credit for discoveries which were “the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.” He anticipated the discovery and propagation of electromagnetic waves of all possible lengths. But even Maxwell would be astonished at the application of his work to our modern wireless Smart Phone technology. Today’s scientists use his fundamental discoveries in thousands of applications. The layperson’s rediscovery of the wonder of Maxwell’s 19th century landmark findings could be an occasion for reverence.  

Many no longer have the time to reflect on the wonder of early science breakthroughs such as those of James Clerk Maxwell. He posited that ongoing discoveries would enlighten interpretation of scripture. He saw “the ordered uniformity rather than the peculiarity and complexity of nature, as signs of the Creator.” Our culture, bathed in the applied science of so-called “miracle” technologies, does not believe the findings of science call attention to the Creator. Instead, our high tech gadgets often distract us, deflect us toward ourselves, and promote our worst human tendencies. In our day we must work to overcome our high-tech handicap.

Below is a link to our previous post on James Clerk Maxwell: