Between the Idol of Nature and the Idol of Technology

There is a lot of worry over the role of technology in our lives, where it comes from, and where it might lead.

I do not disagree that technology may be originally inspired by dark forces, or that we are unprepared to deal wisely with a high-tech world and it might lead to our spiritual or physical destruction.

I do not disagree that technology has a pull that can turn us into slaves of the great disembodied machine, and our behavior can begin to look like the worship of some dark deity.

I do not disagree that there are some who willfully seek to serve this deity, attempting to usher in “entities” that can think for us and run our lives in some panopticon dystopian mass-factory control grid.

But those who start on a narrative like the above usually forget the danger on the other side.

They go all-in for more touching grass, more sunshine, more time in the woods, more rural ideals. These are good practical antidotes to too much technocratic city life, but as spiritual ends, they have the same danger as technology.

The “return to nature” is no less a threat to humans fulfilling our unique human nature as the techno utopia. Technology is not a good god, but neither is nature. Both wish to have us in their grasp. Neither want us in our rightful place, free beings who wield them and master them, redeeming them and bending them to the will of He in whose image we were created.

One way to tell when you are in danger is whether your motivation is primarily reactionary. If the draw to nature is rooted more in anger at technology than love of creation, you are playing on the enemy’s terms. The warring demons of technology and nature each want you to take their side. The one whom they serve just wants you to take a side – any side.

Entering into an antagonistic relationship with nature or technology, and by extension with those who are fans of either, means you are in the devil’s territory.

Picking one as the ultimate goal means the same. Both are false idols.

The pursuit of technology above all else ends at brains in jars.

The rejection of tech and pursuit of nature above all else ends at howling naked in the woods.

One wholly rejects the animal part of human nature. The other embraces it at the expense of our divine nature.

Christians should have a different orientation to both. We needn’t get caught in the battle between two false gods. We needn’t feel the persistent tension between screen time and time in nature. We needn’t be driven by fear.

We are the ones given dominion over nature, and over the tools we can derive from it and use to help us master it.

Even if false gods inspired technology before we were ready to handle it, through Christ it is redeemed. (He redeemed even that vile technology of torture and death, the cross.)

We must reject the god of technology and its promise to make us gods. It is a false hope.

We must also reject the god of nature and its promise to free us from the machine and return us to the innocence of the animal.

We are something else. We are image bearers of God Himself. We are appointed to rule justly over this domain, bringing all things into His service.