"The new is always better than the old." Do you agree? Disagree? As the impact of technology on our lives has accelerated this assumption has become increasingly taken for granted.
In our third and final conversation with Pete Nicholas about his book 'Virtually Human: Flourishing In A Digital World' we explore the powerful messages that come to us through technology around the subjects of time and sexuality.
While technology presents a narrative of never-ending progress when it comes to new devices and software , the impact on us as human beings grappling with its ramifications is far from straight-forward.
C.S. Lewis wrote about this in terms of what he called "Chronological snobbery." That is 'the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate of our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of of date is on that count discredited.' Pete in his book (p.114) shows us how this leads to the following kind of thinking:
- We think we are the most technologically developed culture on earth.
- Since time is an arrow to the future, that means we are at the head of the curve.
- Therefore, our decisions (about morality, society, technology) are the most 'progressive'.
- So, if other people/countries/cultures disagree, it is because they are lagging behind (but in time they will catch up and probably agree with us).
We tend to think of time as linear with a beginning and definite end, ultimately when the universe at some point in the future will come to a grinding halt. Here are some challenges to these assumptions we discuss from the book:
- "Time is not a straight line heading for a finish. God is taking the cosmos towards its goal. In one sense this goal is the end of time; in another sense it is just the beginning.
- The timeline is God's and not ours. We are graciously part of His story, but we need to watch out for the ways technology can be used to write Him out and put us centre stage."
- Time is not a commodity, but a gift to be stewarded. As technology gives me such a variety of choices with what to do with my time, I need to become discerning about what I should do today and what can be left for tomorrow or another time.
For more on this also see Podcast #024: Making Sense of Time.
Technology has also had a huge influence on our view of sex an sexuality. On this podcast we go on to discuss:
- How the digital story of sex is linked to the sexual revolution of the 20th century with its desire to liberate from previous norms and taboos.
- How my sexual identity cannot be separated from my psychology and spirituality.
- The dangers of pornography in objectifying women and men.
- How the male editor of a pornographic magazine radically changed his views following the birth of his daughter.
- How pornography while promising satisfaction and fulfilment actually leads to a growing addiction and enslavement with significant problems in relating to others.
- How the Bible is able to be both open about sex without being crude and objectifying. There is emphasis on restraint without being oppressive while emphasising the beauty of sexual love within the marriage covenant.
In conclusion, the challenges technology brings into our lives are about living in wisdom. Tomorrow's problems from technology are going to be very different from today's problems. The key is becoming the right kind of person who can learn to cope and flourish while living by grace. In other words we need to live in wisdom.
Details on Covenant Eyes and more resources on sexual addiction we mention in our discussion is here.
More details on the book are available at the Virtually Human website here.
What questions and comments does our discussion raise for you?