December 15, 2018

Mere Science and Christian Faith, by Greg Cootsona: Chapter 7- Give Technology a Break

Mere Science and Christian Faith: Bridging the Divide with Emerging Adults, Chapter 7- Give Technology a Break

We are reviewing the book, Mere Science and Christian Faith, by Greg Cootsona, subtitled Bridging the Divide with Emerging Adults.  Today we look at Chapter 7- Give Technology a Break.  In this chapter Cootsona makes the case that we must limit technology’s reach and find God at the center of our lives.  He quotes Psalm 131:2:

But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.

There, at the center when we’re calmed, we find “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  He notes Sherry Turkle, who has written such books as Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.  Turkle asserts technology can invade true human community and often prevents authentic conversation and empathy.  She also asserts that technology and education don’t always mix well together; online courses, while increasingly common, don’t substitute for the often messy learning that human relationships bring.  It is particularly true with emerging adults, who were given screens to quiet them as fussy babies.  Such early training is sticky and recalcitrant.  He says this persistent use of technology can lead to anxiety—back to “cell phone addiction”—and emerging adults seem the most vulnerable.

Turkle says a view of the world as “apps”—the idea that some app for our smartphones will lead us to the solution to all our problems—has developed.  The app way of thinking starts with the idea that actions in this world will work like algorithms: certain actions will lead to predictable results. But human relationships are unpredictable, chaotic, and complex—that’s what makes them both frustrating and exultant.  Cootsona says:

This “app thinking” can affect us relationally and spiritually.  We think we can manage people neatly, and if things go awry, we simply shut down that person’s “app” or “doc”.  But when we do this, we treat human beings impersonally—like they’re simply an extension of our smartphone—and this may alter the way we approach another personal relationship—namely with God.

Greg also points out that almost all commercial forces see the use of technology by emerging adults as positive since it helps sell products.  The power of social media marketing particularly and Internet use generally, along with the devices that employ them is immense.  Technology displacing people from their jobs is nothing new since the auto industry put the buggy whip industry out of business.  Nevertheless, one has to wonder the effect on employment in the retail sector as online shopping replaces stores, and stores replace checkout clerks with banks of self-checkout stations.

Greg thinks that particularly worthy of the church’s attention is “transhumanism”, a term coined in 1967 by Julian Huxley referring to the belief that the creation, development, and use of technology will improve human physical, intellectual, and psychological capacities.  Greg’s friend, theologian Ted Peters, who has studied transhumanism thinks he sees an Achilles heel:

Transhumanist assumptions regarding progress are naïve, because they fail to operate with an anthropology that is realistic regarding the human proclivity to turn good into evil… and they are overestimating what they can accomplish through technical innovation.

He thinks there are two issues to extract here.  One is whether faith is endemically recalcitrant towards progress.  The second is we cannot slavishly succumb to a gospel of technological salvation.  Riffing on Jesus and “the Sabbath made for man”, Greg says technology was made for us, not us for technology.  Father Stephen Freeman notes some of the dangers of technology.  From Father Stephen Freeman: 

“Changing the world,” under a variety of slogans, is the essence of the modern project. Modernity is not about how to live rightly in the world, but about how to make the world itself live rightly. The difference could hardly be greater. The inception of modernity, across the 18th and 19th centuries, was marked by revolution. The Industrial Revolution, the rise of various forms of capitalism, the birth of the modern state with its political revolutions, all initiated a period of ceaseless change marked by winners and losers. Of course, success is measured by statistics that blur the edges of reality. X-number of people find their incomes increased, while only Y-number of people suffer displacement and ruination. So long as X is greater than Y, the change is a success. The trick is to be an X.

The ceaseless re-invention of the better world rarely takes stock of its own actions. That large amounts of any present ruination are the result of the last push for progress is ignored. It is treated as nothing more than another set of problems to be fixed. As the fixes add up, a toxic culture begins to emerge: food that cannot be eaten; air that cannot be breathed; relationships that cannot be endured; safety that cannot be maintained, etc. As the toxicity rises, so the demand for ever more action and change grows, and, with it, the increase in violence (of all types). The amount of our human existence that now requires rather constant technological intervention is staggering.

In the Apostle Paul’s time, he was concerned that disciples would be lured away from the simplicity of the gospel in Christ by secret religious knowledge.  He warned that “knowledge puffs up” (1Corinthians 8:1) and warns the Colossians:  “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (2:8). So, today, do we also have to worry that “information overload” confuses and distracts us from what is truly important?

Is there a correlation between a drop in religious affiliation and a rise in internet use?  And even if there exists a correlation, correlation does not mean causation.  Studies also find a correlation between empathy and religious belief—that is, believers tend to show higher levels of empathy.  Can God make himself known to people despite their technological distractions and decreased empathy?  At the same time, some studies suggest that the use of technology reduces empathy, and since emerging adults are digital natives and use technology throughout the day, Greg thinks this is a particularly pertinent issue.  He thinks that interacting virtually and not in real relationships numbs our empathy.  And empathy is a virtue that must be cultivated.  In other words, he’s saying if technology decreases our empathy, and empathy is correlated with faith, maybe technology decreases our capacity for spiritual life.

Finally, he notes, physical presence in community and physical participation in the sacraments are central to Christian faith and practice.  So do virtual communities erode that experience?  Or, like I would assert InternetMonk does, can it provide an enhanced opportunity to discuss and express ideas that would never be discussed or tolerated in our “meat space” congregations.  As frequent commenter, Pellicano Solitudinis, noted last week:  “It has made a huge difference to me, knowing that I am not alone with my doubts and questions.”  Still, those of us at InternetMonk look for and long for that gold standard of koinonia as expressed in Acts 2:42-44.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.

Comments

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    In That Hideous Strength, wasn’t N.I.C.E. into Transhumanism?
    Especially regarding The Head?

  2. john barry says:

    What a topic! Of course this is going to fall on generational lines because that is where we are at. Social and personal interactions have changed greatly in the past 20 years for sure. Like many things in life , how we use it and for what end is important.

    I will be interested in seeing the comments on this today. This is the only internet site that I even address or find worthwhile , but I am sure there are others, I just do not want to be involved on internet that much. I find the current conversations and concerns about Facebook, Twitter and You Tube to be somewhat amusing. Someone here that is knowledgeable made a great point , that if it is “free” on the internet , you are the product. I love to find out things like that and it sounds true.

    Generally speaking I find much of the comments on the internet not to be worthwhile and a waste of time. I do believe it has a negative influence in our social interactions. Years ago, their were several “drive in” theaters , that had Sunday morning “church” where you could stay in your car and listen to the services via the speaker. Again, the term drive in theater dates itself. Of course it never took off because of the lack of personal involvement.

    To be honest, in my life, not everyone is “great” or even good at social personal inter actions. My wife thinks I am terrible when I tell her that a lot of people I find boring but she reminds me that they probably think that I am boring but she knows the truth but she will not tell me.

    I love to have good conversations and personal relationships. I love to be around people who are well versed, well spoken and interesting. My personality requires personal feedback and I enjoy it. I am at a lost when it seems so many prefer the internet to personal inter reactions.

    Looking forward to hearing the opinions here from people who actually know what is going on in today’s world.

  3. Robert F says:

    “….some studies suggest that the use of technology reduces empathy.”

    Is that all technology, or social media in particular?

    • Mike the Geologist says:

      Cootsona wasn’t specific. He cited as a reference: Robert N. McCauley, Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011),265-68. I think he means any personal interaction where communication is through devices rather than face to face.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I believe most people, and this author, are thinking of **INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY** when they say “technology”.

      IT is in many ways distinct, both in design methodology and impact, from plumbing and rapid transit.

    • –> “….some studies suggest that the use of technology reduces empathy.”

      Based upon my observation of religious folks (some who even post here periodically), I’d say some religions reduce empathy, too.

      • Christiane says:

        SBCtoday showed me a sample of that lack of empathy through a particular contributor who was extremely homophobic. The man had been ‘ministering’ to LBGT people all of his life and was the most negative soul regarding them that I have ever read. It left me wondering if he was in some way dealing (or trying to deal) with his own demons. (?)

        Of course, it was red meat to the three or four core group there that ate it up. They formed a kind of ‘hate’ synergy effect which I believe in time influenced the administrator greatly, who then went too far and was ‘replaced’.

        no ’empathy’ for the LBGT community was ever shown by that group . . . . none

        just attacks on something they called ‘LBGT agenda’

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Ever wonder if Fred Phelps’ REAL sin was being too direct instead of using Proper Code Words?

          • Christiane says:

            Oh Headless,
            just watching Laura Ingraham lately with her ‘coded’ racism is a master-class in the art of encasing the worst kind of hate in ‘acceptable’ (?) terms. . . . .

            only yesterday, she went a bit too far, unless that’s the new normal in Trumpland that even legitimate immigrants are preventing this country from looking ‘American’ the way we are used to it.

            Are now ‘legitimate’ immigrants also going to be targeted if they ‘look wrong’ to the base????

            What next?

            Yes, Fred Phelps was too ‘open’ for those who cloak their hatred ‘just enough’ to get away with it. But now, with DT (der teufel) in power, more and more hate is ‘allowed’ to be shown openly in the new normal and DT’s ‘base’ is eating it up

            • “Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people,” she continued, “and they’re changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically in some ways the country has changed.”

              What I love about America is its animating idea: “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

              What Ingraham loved about America was apparently its former demographic profile. Now that Hispanic and Asian immigrants have triggered “massive demographic changes,” the America she loves “doesn’t exist anymore.” Sad!”

              https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/08/laura-ingrahams-loss-of-love-for-america/567122/

              • Adam Tauno Williams says:

                “Massive demographic changes have been foisted” . . . “and they’re changes that none of us ever voted ”

                Huh? Uhmm. When did we get to vote on demographics?

                • Robert F says:

                  You don’t get it. You need to take the Red Pill. Demographic changes in the U.S. have been deliberately, and secretly, plotted by the Liberal-Globalist Deep State. Join QAnon, and get based!

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                    I hear about “The Deep State” all the time on Coast to Coast AM and afternoon drive-time radio.

                    Why do I keep thinking that 80-100 years ago “The Deep State” would have been called “The Jews”?

            • Dave Greene says:

              Maybe DT is the mirror we needed that reveals us for who we are.

              • john bary says:

                How did we get on Donald Trump ? Why did we get on Donald Trump? The only time I hear Fred Phelps mentioned anymore is here.

                Of course I am not in the IT field , I am mostly in right field, but I do not think Trump or Phelps are major influences in the use of technology and its impact on society.

                How about Kevin Bacon, we can link him into the subject Bacon is always within six degrees of anything in the “Hollywood” universe. .. Trump is within six degrees of any thing in the universe. Kevin Bacon played an astronaut in Apollo and space men use technology so it is just 2 degrees to the answer. Trump dominates the minds of many and that is highly technical achievement.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                  And Born-Again Evangelical Christians are THE most Fanatical of Trump Fanatics.

                  It’s like they’ve taken The Mark in bad Book of Revelation fanfic. Once The Mark goes on they instantly become Totally Fanatically Loyal unto The Beast, Loyal Unto Death and Beyond.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              But now, with DT (der teufel) in power, more and more hate is ‘allowed’ to be shown openly in the new normal and DT’s ‘base’ is eating it up

              And remember, that “base” includes 80% of Evangelical Christians.

              “I give Donald Trump praise and adoration.”
              — ChapmanEd (regular troll) in a Wondering Eagle comment thread

            • Burro (Mule) says:

              I also liked the demographic mix of the America of, say, 1965. Why is this so wrong?

              I don’t like Pakistanis, for instance. Their accent is difficult. They talk all around an issue instead of getting directly to a point. They treat their women so poorly that even I, an unapologetic apologist for traditional gender roles, am embarrassed by it.

              Once again, I have to ask myself. How many of you all rub shoulders with immigrants on a daily, even hourly, basis? It is easy to be ’empathic’ at arm’s length.

              Neighborhoods that attract immigrants are the same sorts of places where they put toxic dump sites and truck parts yards. Nowhere near the residences of those who make policy.

              And I speak Spanish. Sheesh. I can guarantee you that most of the people calling themselves refugees, ain’t. They consider the gringos world class marks for letting them into a country where everything for sale is openly on display on the store floor, and they consider our fellow Americans of African descent to be a nuisance at best, and a threat at worst.

              Y’all so holy and sanctimonious on this issue y’all make me want to retch.

              • Christiane says:

                I’m the daughter of an immigrant who did not speak English until he was in school. My father joined the Navy when he came of age, fought in WWII, and when he passed away, he was buried in a casket that was draped by an American flag at his funeral.
                My immigrant Pop was the best man I EVER knew and he was my own father.

                What is this ‘white supremacist’ thing about immigrants all about anyway?
                My own thought is that it is blatantly unAmerican.

                • Burro (Mule) says:

                  I’m sure your father and his family tripped xenophobes’ internal alarms back in the 50s or 60s, too.

                  It’s human nature.

                  But in the 60s the pressure was towards assimilation to the dominant culture. In my neighborhood, the centripetal forces are much stronger, and are tending towards Balkanization.

                  As far as ‘white’ goes. I much prefer the black Gambian Pentecostals down the street to the white Kosovar Muslims next door. Just a personal preference.

                  • Christiane says:

                    I love your honesty, Mule. You help me stay where I need to be. LOL

                    P.S.
                    yes, there was in the same New England town, a Polish Catholic Church, and an Italian Catholic Church (Pop went to the French Catholic Church and school).

                    Yes. There were ‘jokes’ and there were comparisons made, I happen to know.

                    Human nature.
                    We none of us get too far from it, do we? 🙂

              • B(M) I’m neither holy or sanctimonious. I’m just smart enough not to generalize from my own experience.

              • Robert F says:

                @Mule, I work with immigrants every day of the week, and live in a multiracial neighborhood in a poorer part of our suburb. And if I could make you retch, I would consider a day well spent.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                My mother’s family immigrated from somewhere in Northern Italy, roughtv 1900-1920. They were jammed into a ghetto called “Little Italy” and called “Wops/Dagoes/White Niggers”. First generation, unskilled day labor. Second generation included several firemen (ethnic lock for Italians, just as cops were for Irish). Third gen, all over the place.

                i.e. The usual three-generation assimilation pattern: First gen Old Country, Second gen Transition, Third gen Fully Assimilated.

                The problem here in Del Norte (Mexican border states) is that there’s been such a continuous flood of immigration that they’re NOT visibly assimilating. With fear that they’re going to start assimilating US.

            • I pictured Pocahontas or Sitting Bull making the same statement as Ingraham. There goes the neighborhood!

              • Robert F says:

                Hell, the Irish and Germans were saying basically the same thing when they saw my Italian forbears getting off the boats, less than a hundred years ago: Here come the WOPS (for anybody who doesn’t know, the acronym WOP means without papers, i.e., undocumented immigrants!)

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                  That was a repeating pattern in wave after wave of 19th Century immigration.

                  Each group of immigrants would come off the boats and get stomped on face by Racism from the “Native Americans” (19th Century definition) already settled here. A generation later, they’d be mostly assimilated and form “Native American Organizations” to stomp on the next subhuman race coming off the boats.

                  And in the 19th Century, “Scientific Racism” (started by Darwin fanboys in academia) defined “race” a LOT more narrowly than today. Irish weren’t White, Jews weren’t White, Italians weren’t White, Slavs weren’t White, Spanish weren’t White. (Anyone from a primarily Catholic country wasn’t White, a legacy of the Reformation Wars.) And the “one drop rule” defined Race Purity.

  4. Robert F says:

    Re: the extended quote of Father Freeman: I would say that “Changing the world” is what human being have always done. Granted, we have been doing it at an accelerated pace in the last couple of centuries due to technological developments, but it’s not new. The human propensity for changing environments, whether via agriculture or urbanizing or a hundred other things, has been an ongoing characteristic for millennia, and is one of the most distinctive and important evolutionary characteristics contributing to our survival. It’s in our genes, and our communal ways.

    • Mike the Geologist says:

      I think Father Freeman’s critique goes to more of the exploitation of poorer peoples by richer peoples for the sake of “progress”. He is saying if you are part of the “X” winners then progress is good. That mindset creates the vicious competition among the “Y” losers to get their piece of the pie even if that is at somebody else’s expense. There is no shared sense of “we’re all in this together” that should be part of a Christian ethic.

      • Robert F says:

        Yet technological innovation, and the economic benefits that come from it, have lifted a greater proportion of people out of poverty than has ever been the case before. It’s certainly true that there are unintended consequences of technological developments, but that, again, has always been the case, only now we are experiencing it at an accelerated pace due to the accelerated pace of technological development.

        And was there a greater sense of “we’re all in this together” before technology made it possible for geographically separated populations to know much about each other, or even that they existed? There may have been, but it was the result of ignorance about the rest of the world out there, and thus illusory.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > accelerated pace due to the accelerated pace of technological development.

          It is a technological development of a different Kind.

          Domestication of animals, pumps and plumbing, electrification, transportation networks were all notably corporeal advances. They all at least enabled the possibility of human communities at a scale of prosperity, safety, and leisure previously unimaginable.

          Does INFORMATION Technology, necessarily, further that possibility?

          I’ve been in IT for ~25 year.

          My answer is “I don’t know”. Despite all the techno-rah-rah-ism there is the data point that worker productivity has been nearly a FLAT LINE for awhile now. The promise of IT is illusive and the ROI questionable The low hanging fruit has long since been picked. After the years of Spreadsheet and then E-Mail the line loses its upward thrust.

          I am not a doomsayer, as for every Futurist, Tech-Bro, or Transhumanist you show me, I can show you 10 Localists. However, the former make much better TED talks; and the Tech-Bros have a lot of wealth. Do they really represent a cultural power bloc? I don’t know. Mention that you saw a TED talk at any given pub and I can almost promise you eye rolls.

          > was there a greater sense of “we’re all in this together” before…

          Nah.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I’ve been in IT for 40 years.
            I can’t wait to retire.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says:

              I’ve still got 15 years to go.

              Some days that sounds like a L-O-N-G time.

              I have been actively working on modulating my reactions to techo-BS; reminding myself “not my money” helps.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                4-5 years here.

                Problem is, I’ve got to get out of California when I do (taxes too high, prices too high, everything too crazy), but I’ve been living in SoCal since I was six months old, and the only people I know out-of-state are in central Pennsylvania. (With two exceptions — one in rural Indiana, the other in rural Michigan — who are best taken in real small doses.) Everyone else is SoCal.

                I have heard horror stories of what happens when retirees move across the country (like Florida) with no local support system — the suicide rate (especially after aging to the point of being widowed or requiring assisted living) is incredible. I have seen a retirement horror story with my father, a workaholic who looked forward to “getting out of the rat race” but once out, the forced inactivity torpedoed his health; he wasted away and died within four years.

        • Dana Ames says:

          Fr Stephen makes it clear that he has nothing against technology per se, and as you say, Robert, he would agree that developing useful ways of doing things is part of who we are as humans. He’s rather bringing to our attention the mindset, because of a certain philosophical ground, that will tend to exploit, to use, to “bend to the will” – of others, because of the assumptions it holds.

          A few quotes:
          “In modernity, things being just things with no reality deeper than what you see on the literal level, all meaning is nothing more than an act of the will, an imposition. As such, meaning can only be a political construct, a way of seeing things imposed by one group on another. That worldview is actually gaining in popularity and is the natural conclusion of the assumptions of modernity.” – 31 July

          “It is not about science, test tubes, toilets, medicines, etc. Modernity is about the shattering of the world into competing uses of power.” – 31 July

          “Modernity (the philosophy) assumes that only “things, facts, objects” are true.” – 2 August

          “The assumptions of modernity (as I’ve carefully described them – noting that the term has nothing to do with science, technology, etc.) – I believe to be false and that they lead to false conclusions and a false construction of the world.” – 4 August

          “I have a particular critique of modernity – but the term, as I use it, is its most common meaning in philosophical/theological material. In those writings (which I’ve been studying at a graduate level since the later 80’s) it represents not a period of time, per se, but a set of ideas. Those ideas dominate in our time. But, again, they have nothing to do with science or technology. They have to do with things like the myth of progress (it’s only a narrative), human beings viewed as individualistic (when we actually only exist as social creatures), the primacy of the will and choice (when what is largely meant is little more than consumerism).” – 6 August

          “I have to say, as an aside, I’m not making this stuff up about modernity. It’s not my private hobby horse – but simply an example of a critique that has been around for a while with some very serious-minded people sharing it…. It was studying with Hauerwas at Duke (among others) where I first encountered the critique of modernity. ” – 7 August

          Dana

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            “””That worldview is actually gaining in popularity and is the natural conclusion of the assumptions of modernity.””””

            I guess my core critique is here. Is that true? I am really very skeptical – and I kinda feel like I have been hearing some version of this [dire warning] my entire life. I live in a blue-urban-progressive area, talk to lots of people; off-hand I think I could name ONE person who would match the Modernity he describes.

            It is very hard for me to hear critiques of “Modernism” or the “Enlightenment” and not think “Hobby Horse”. Because I simply don’t find it out there in the real [not online] world. But then, maybe, I’m just not hanging out with scholars at Duke… but how many places are Duke-like?

            I fail to grasp how exploitation or coercion is in any way unique to our time. Perhaps we – or some of us – have simply become more willing to call a spade a spade? Does that make us Modern?

            • Dana Ames says:

              What makes us Modern is that we believe that things (including human beings and other animate life) are only distinct entities, nothing more – nothing has any intrinsic relationship to anything else. The reason it’s hard for us to pinpoint is that we’re swimming in it like fish. It didn’t come upon us suddenly; there has been a trajectory. And it hasn’t only existed in our time, but it is now the dominant outlook.

              No, exploitation and coercion are not unique to our time. But what is unique is that in earlier times, there was a philosophical/metaphysical/theological disposition from which to claim those things are wrong/harmful. The assumptions of Modernity don’t allow for that. Yes, we can call a spade a spade. But we can’t make a value judgment about that spade – without reverting to pre-Modern assumptions. The only value Modernity recognizes is utilitarian/commercial. From such a standpoint, how can we decry, for example, the slavery in which thousands in southeast Asia are held in order to provide us with cheap seafood? “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” Think about it. The 20th century could easily be described as the most violent in history; Fascism and Communism are completely utilitarian; along with militaristic arms-race politics (lead-in to WWI as well as the Cold War), they were responsible for tens of millions of deaths in wars, forced starvation and migration, etc. etc. The gains technology has made for humanity in terms of sanitation, medicine, communications, etc. stand alongside all this other terrible stuff (and technologically-enabled ways of killing more people in said wars).

              Here’s another quote from Fr Stephen, regarding “history”, but any other subject of inquiry could be substituted. He’s not saying there’s anything wrong with facts; the problem is that Modernity believes ONLY in Facts, atomized facts not related to anything else. (This is not about true scientific inquiry; this is, rather, the basis of Scientism, which so many see as the only Reality and Salvation. One of Fr Stephen’s frequent commenters is a PhD Chemist who was led to Jesus Christ, out of deep agnosticism, as she was observing the physical structure of the universe…)

              “Modernity (the philosophy) assumes that only “things, facts, objects” are true. And it means by that a very secular, flat sort of thing. It would think that history is self-existing, just like it thinks that we and everything else in the world are self-existing. As such, when it does “historical” research of any kind (archaeology, etc.) it is trying to determine the self-existing facts. It would be like Mr. Spock’s rendition of a rainbow. It would be correct, but would also dismiss anything else as being nothing more than mythic poetry. I am saying that nothing is self-existing in all of creation… ” – 2 August

              Have you read C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy? Best example I can think of to illustrate this.

              Dana

              • Dana,
                At its best, modernity encompasses the wisdom of knowing that, though facts may not be everything, if any particular version of reality strays far from them, or flies in the face of them, then not only is it not true, neither can it convey Truth in any metaphysical sense.

                • Dana Ames says:

                  Robert,

                  what you say about Modernity is exactly the opposite of what Fr Stephen is saying. Modernity as he defines it would gainsay everything you wrote. As he defines it, Modernity is concerned with fact as the ONLY reality, completely uninterested in conveying what has herein sometimes been described is “poem truth.”

                  What you wrote is a description, not of the “wisdom of modernity”, but of pre-modern thought. It is the pre-modern disposition, not the Modern, to contain the wisdom of knowing that facts, although useful, may not be everything and that reality must contain not only facts, but also other ways to convey Truth in any metaphysical sense. Again, I refer you to C.S. Lewis – in this point, The Abolition of Man.

                  Dana

                  • I think I’m saying something a little different, Dana. I’m saying the metaphysical understanding of reality has to be tested against the facts, which we know are true; if it contradicts them, then it must be changed, or scrapped.

                    I’ve read TAM, and for a long time I put a lot of stock in it, but at some point it seemed to me that the reasoning Lewis uses in it is circular. At this point I’m unable to chapter and verse you with texts from the book that would show you why I came to feel that way — it’s been a long time since my reading of it. I don’t think I’m willing to go over that ground again, or try to find the trail I took through it.

            • Klasie Kraalogies says:

              Very much with you, ATW.

              My daughter and I have been working on genealogy. It was a reminder of how things have changed. For instance, the records of common people on average only stretch back to the 1500’s, and then in the Prtoestant countries especially. Prior to that, only the rich and powerful mattered. But then you get the slow development of tech, starting with the printing press – and now more people matter. Now the actions of individual middle class people are recorded.

              Of course, if you were rich and wealthy, records were kept regardless. I have 2 branches like that – stretching to some very famous names.

              I think history is a great teacher. For one, it teaches us that assumptions about modernity bad, long-ago good is ever so much bullishit.

              • Though accurate knowledge of the past is important, as you point out, and though the past has philosophical and religious insights that we are foolish to ignore, I don’t see that the past has the answers to the problems we face now, nor do I believe or see evidence that our ancestors were generally wiser or more in touch with reality than we are — just the opposite.

  5. In this chapter Cootsona makes the case that we must limit technology’s reach
    (…reads on iPhone…)

    • Yep. We’re all using technology and social media to gripe about technology and social media. 😉

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        There is not any actual irony in this, or at least not additional irony anyway.

        This morning I took a bus to the meeting of the city’s Mobility commission.

        And after a recent meeting of a meeting about Housing Policy. . . everybody went home.

        We are always within our constructs, so where else can be complain about them? 🙂

      • While quoting from the pages of a book mass produced…

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    X-number of people find their incomes increased, while only Y-number of people suffer displacement and ruination. So long as X is greater than Y, the change is a success. The trick is to be an X.

    “I Got Mine,
    I Got Mine,
    The World’s The Way It’s Meant To Be,
    I Got Mine…

    “I Got Mine,
    I Got Mine,
    I DON’T WANT A THING TO CHANGE
    NOW THAT I GOT MINE!”
    — Glenn Frey, “I Got Mine”