Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dumbed Down Society

This post talks about how society has dumbed down everything except technology. He has a great clip from Fr Barron on dumbed down Catholicism. But it reminded me of paragraph 14 of Pope Benedict's encyclical Caritas in Veritas. I thought that was pretty pathetic that I could remember the exact paragraph number of a papal encyclical without looking it up. Such is my life. Here is a quote:
Paul VI had already warned against the technocratic ideology so prevalent today, fully aware of the great danger of entrusting the entire process of development to technology alone, because in that way it would lack direction. Technology, viewed in itself, is ambivalent. If on the one hand, some today would be inclined to entrust the entire process of development to technology, on the other hand we are witnessing an upsurge of ideologies that deny in toto the very value of development, viewing it as radically anti-human and merely a source of degradation. This leads to a rejection, not only of the distorted and unjust way in which progress is sometimes directed, but also of scientific discoveries themselves, which, if well used, could serve as an opportunity of growth for all. The idea of a world without development indicates a lack of trust in man and in God. It is therefore a serious mistake to undervalue human capacity to exercise control over the deviations of development or to overlook the fact that man is constitutionally oriented towards “being more”.
There are a bunch of things here. First he talks about the idea that human development is automatic if we embrace technology. That becoming smarter makes us better. That science brings salvation. When we allow people to be ignorant of everything except technology that is what we are implicitly buying in to.

The truth is technology is neither good nor bad. It gives us power but does not decide whether we use that power for good or for evil. In fact, some go the other direction. They blame technology for the evils that have come. We don't want to go there. They can be used well. But more than that. Man is wired to want progress. He wants to learn. He wants to explore, to discover things that nobody has discovered before.

Part of the objection is rooted in Sola Scriptura. What that does is make God's revelation static. The bible does not change. So applying God's word to a fast changing world is going to create problems. Interpretations need to be made. The Holy Spirit needs to lead. But there also needs to be a process where the true interpretations and true Spirit leadings can be definitively separated from the false ones. That is what the authority of the church does.

The bible says nothing about the internet. It says nothing about cloning. It says nothing about condoms. It does not directly address pornography or abortion. It was all written before the year 100 AD so it isn't going to address those things. But using it as the sole authority in matters of faith and morals was already unworkable but becomes even more so with the flood of new technology and the ethical questions they raise. The Sola Scriptura believer is no better off than an atheist on these questions. He just has moral feelings and human reason. He has no reply when somebody says I don't share your feelings and I don't agree with your reasoning.

No comments:

Post a Comment