The Music in Noise

The Idolatry of Technology - 2021-04-28

Despite being a computer engineer (student), I am actually quite skeptical of technology and new technological innovations, especially the more complex and interdependent they become. My exposure to Primitivist literature has also contributed significantly to this skepticism, although I always try to be as pragmatic as possible. I say this so that the reader may know my personal biases on this matter prior to exposing the topic at hand.

A certain tendency that I believe is very frequent in the technologically developed world today is one of absolute reliance on complex technologies, and believing that any solution may have a technological - or what people will often (erroneously) call "scientific" - solution. That is to say, the belief that any problem can be solved with a new technological innovation, and any problems we currently face only exist because we have not yet (but will) find a technological solution for them.

It is first worth noting that this is a kind of faith. You can say it's a faith in technology, "science", or simply human ingenuity, but ultimately it is faith. The question to ask is whether this faith is well-founded. Should we have faith in technology as a means of our salvation? It may sound silly when phrased that way, but this is ultimately the question. Just that instead of the spiritual salvation we're speaking of a temporal salvation.

I cannot help but to conclude that this faith is wrongly founded, since it is faith in something that is ultimately as limited as we are, and therefore limited by the laws of the universe. If to solve a given problem simply with a new technology would require breaking the laws of the universe, then said solution simply isn't going to be possible, since we are unable to break these laws no matter how hard we may try. It's also worth noting that technology has a history of not solving the world's problems, or what's worse, making new ones. We simply have to consider problems that have always existed, such as poverty, hunger, war, violence, etc. These have always existed, and they always will. Technology hasn't saved us nor will it.

However, especially for the religiously inclined, I believe this is a dangerous kind of faith, as faith in technology ends up turning into an idolatry of technology, turning it into a new god. Rather than having faith in God's Divine Will, and changing ourselves to live in accordance to His Will, we believe that we by means of our own creations may save ourselves and as such construct a kind of heaven on Earth. This, as any good Christian will know, falls into three kinds of errors: Pelagianism, Millenarianism, and idolatry. I've already explained how this becomes idolatry. It is Pelagian because it expresses an ability for Man to save himself through his own merits, in this case his own human ingenuity, therefore believing we do not need God. This is no less than the sin of the devil, and the temptation which he presented to Adam and Eve. It is also Millenarianism, as it aims towards the creation of a terrestrial paradise, for utopia to be created here on Earth rather than God Himself bringing us into the beatific vision, which we do not deserve but receive by His Grace and Love alone.

Finally, there is a real possibility of falling into an additional error, which is that of Gnosticism. This is particularly present in the ideas of Transhumanism. The idea of transcending our human bodies so as to surpass its limitations and, once again, be like gods. This is, by its very essence, an anti-human mentality, as it rejects something that is innate to human beings: our bodies. We are not spirits trapped in a body, we are our body and the spirit which animates it. To separate these is to say that one's foot and one's hand are not one's body. Both form part of one's body, just as both body and soul form part of oneself.

Ultimately, I believe this post is more of a rant than anything else, but I do hope that it gives you, the reader, something to think about with regards to your relationship with technology in your life, and your attitude towards technology.

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