“An asteroid or a super volcano could certainly destroy us, but we also face risks the dinosaurs never saw: An engineered virus, nuclear war, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us.” (Elon Musk, founder, chairman, CEO, and chief technology officer of SpaceX, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc., owner, chairman, and CTO of X Corp., founder of the Boring Company, and co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI)
“Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.” (Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb”)
Well, those certainly are dark quotes about technology. What a way to start. Is there a positive side to technology? Oh yes. Here’s one on the internet.
“Technology is a gift of God. After the gift of life, it is perhaps the greatest of God’s gifts. It is the mother of civilizations, of arts and of sciences.” (Freeman Dyson, British-American theoretical physicist and mathematician)
What is technology? Britannica.com defines technology as “The application of scientific knowledge to the practical aims of human life or, as it is sometimes phrased, to the change and manipulation of the human environment” (britannica.com, italics author). Merriam-Webster.com puts it this way, “the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area,” and “a capability given by the practical application of knowledge.”
Given those definitions, humanity has run the technology train from the start. The outworking of our Subdue and Rule Mandate involves taking our knowledge and applying it to the betterment of the world around us for God’s glory and obedience to Him. In the process, we gain more knowledge through experience and apply it to what we already know and use, increasing our capability of world transformation and control.
The earliest biblical references to technology are Jubal, who developed and deployed his knowledge to build the technology of musical instruments (Genesis 4:21), and Tubal-Cain, who was one of the earliest metallurgists, creating metallic tools for farming (Subdue and Rule) and, according to Jewish sources, weapons of war (Conquer and Dominate) (Genesis 4:22).
As you might have noticed, it didn’t take long for the drive to Conquer and Dominate to twist another tool of humanity into a means of control. Once you’re dead, you’ve been permanently controlled, right?
So, is technology a bane or a blessing? The answer is both, depending on how technology is used. As we’ve seen with the other domains, technology is simply a tool that reflects the morality of the user. I must admit that this is the one domain that scares me terribly. Like music, which can inspire us with visions of heaven or bathe us with the putrid vomit of hell, technology can unveil the majesty of God’s creation in ways we’ve never imagined, or it can wipe humanity from the face of the earth after it’s been used to enslave the global population.
Technology is a tool that amplifies our Subdue and Rule Mandate for tremendous good or to Conquer and Dominate for absolute evil. We can save or take life through technology, making it one of the foundational domains we must safeguard from human corruption. Because technology’s growth depends on the multiplication of knowledge, its applications rise exponentially over time, amplifying its effects on everyone in every area of life.
Look around you right now. What do you see that hasn’t come from technological advancements? On my desk, I see a lamp, lens cleaner, vitamins that my wonderful wife set out for me this morning, paper, a printer, a stupid toy buzzer I press during online classes to signal a wrong answer, and a microphone that I use for those classes and The Truth Barista Radio Show and Podcast found at HighBeamMinistry.com. (Yes, that was a shameless plug.) All of that came from “the practical application of knowledge, especially in a particular area.” Voila! Technology!
Technology is the most intense domain I’ve explored regarding our Subdue and Rule Mandate. God’s gift of technology has made it possible for us to be the ultimate world-shapers or world-destroyers.
How fast has knowledge grown? Cio.com (a Chief Information Officer trade publication) says, “In 1982, futurist and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller estimated that up until 1900, human knowledge doubled approximately every century, but by 1945 it was doubling every 25 years. And by 1982, it was doubling every 12-13 months. In retrospect, this may sound a little quaint since experts now estimate that by 2020, human knowledge will double every 12 hours.” If that’s the case, imagining the technological advances we’ll see is mind-blowing. What will the world be like one hundred years from now?
Just in my lifetime, I’ve witnessed the development of hand-held calculators with an astounding four math functions (+ - x ), microwaves (“Don’t stand too close, kids. You’ll get irradiated!), cellphones, space travel, video games (!), heart pacemakers, Kevlar, fiber optics, high-yield rice, the MRI, barcodes, GPS, email, the Sony Walkman (I still have mine…), the internet, electric vehicles, genetic mapping, cryptocurrency, reusable rockets (a very cool thing to watch!), and other wonderous inventions (popularmechanics.com). Oh, and don’t forget the Selfie Toaster ™, the Snuggie ™, the Ostrich Pillow ™, and the ShamWoW™. Seriously, look ‘em up.
On a much more serious note, humanity has developed nuclear power as a clean and sustainable energy source that can also be used as a world-ending weapon. Check out YouTube.com for the declassified footage of Russia’s Tsar Bomba test, a 100-megaton hydrogen bomb, the world’s largest nuclear weapon. The magnitude of the explosion is jaw-dropping and embodies Robert Oppenheimer’s quote, “Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.” (Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb”)
Subdue and Rule Technology: God’s Gift to Us
What’s the purpose of technology when used to Subdue and Rule? To free us and assist us in changing and manipulating our human environment. God commissioned us to bring our world under control and manage it. Technology, cumulative knowledge applied practically, is a wonderful tool to those ends.
For example, we need light to work in the dark. For millennia, people have used fire. Then came artificial light via the invention of the light bulb about 150 years ago (Edison, 1878). Human communication was radically transformed with Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent (1876). Up until the late 1800s, land transportation required animals and wheels. Then Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir created the first commercially successful internal combustion engine (1860)—light, communication, and transportation. Humanity was on the move!
Humanity took a great leap forward with a significant move from the Industrial Era to the Information Age with the advent of computer technology. Computer science was birthed with Babbage’s Difference Engine (the first designed mechanical computer, 1822) and matured through the appearances of Univac (the first commercially available computer, 1951) to the first computer chip (Kilby and Noyce, 1958) to the first Dynamic Access Memory chip (DRAM) to the first floppy disc (IBM, 1971) to ethernet development (Xerox, 1973), and the birth of Microsoft (1975) and Apple (1976). Since then, supercomputers have burst on the scene, able to make a quintillion (a million trillion!) calculations per second to help people transform the world (scientificamerican.com).
Recent computer innovations are even more spectacular such as “Graphene-based transistors which are one carbon-atom thick and more conductive than any other known material” and “Quantum computing uses quantum bits, or qubits, which can be a zero, a one, both at once, or some point in between, all at the same time.” Scientists are working on DNA data storage, “researchers believe we could meet the world’s entire data storage needs for a year with a cubic meter of powdered e. coli DNA” (sap.com).
And this is just computer technology. Imagine all this computing power applied to other sciences like medicine, engineering, agriculture, business, economics, manufacturing, education, entertainment, and more. Tell me, what area of our lives hasn’t been touched by technology’s reach?
Technology has boosted human communication, enabled faster and more efficient decision-making, increased productivity, and expanded access to information with immediate responses to questions and a vast knowledge base. Technology has advanced innovation, problem-solving, research and development, made our work lives flexible with telecommuting, and provided more opportunities for learning via lower costs, convenience, and self-paced education. Technology connects families through online interaction, gives us easier mobility (GPS), helps us find employment, and saves us time.
As for the government domain, technology assists citizens and streamlines government functions through digitizing identification, automation of public services, cybersecurity, national defense, and GovTech startups (forbes.com). We still have to fight government bureaucracy, but at least we have a fancier way now.
Technology impacts economics by providing banking speed and security, giving us an abundance of shopping options (from home with extensive access to a multitude of merchandise), predicting economic trends and analysis, and tracking goods and services.
And then there’s healthcare technology. We have AI (Artificial Intelligence) to detect cancers quickly and accurately and develop gene therapies and new drugs. 3-D printers now create prosthetic parts for joint replacements and dental implants. Specialists can 3-D print skin tissue and are working toward manufacturing organs. During my recent dental visit for a tooth implant, the assistant needed to take a dental impression. Gone are the days of the painful dental tray with the yucky blue goo that nearly choked me as it oozed out the back of the tray. This time the assistant used a wand inside my mouth to create a 3-D impression from which the new tooth will be made. That was truly amazing!
One of the more intriguing technological innovations is CRISPR gene editing. CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. CRISPR makes gene editing possible. Wild, I know. For example, “The technology works by ‘harnessing the natural mechanisms’ of invading viruses and then ‘cutting out’ infected DNA strands. By altering cell mutations, CRISPR also has the potential to transform the way rare conditions like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease are treated” (weforum.org). But there’s a but. “However, ethical concerns around its use need to be addressed, as its potential ability to change genomes in children has been raised. A team of scientists was prosecuted in China in 2020 after they claimed to have created the world’s first ‘designer babies’ using CRISPR” (weforum.org, italics author).
Education technology provides virtual reality, where students can learn via interacting with a 3-D world. AI is used for daily tasks (grading and student feedback), personalized learning for special needs students, and teaching classes. Technology provides access to education globally via cloud computing, 3-D printing for learning, prototype research and development of new ideas, social media for individual and institutional communication and information sharing, and biometrics to streamline education and enhance discipline (theamegroup.com). What a far cry from the one-room schoolhouses of the last century.
Science technology allows us to peer further into the universe with the Webb and Hubble telescopes, scope the earth for resources, and scan our solar system and galaxy for discoveries and dangers. With space technology, humanity is poised to take our Subdue and Rule Mandate to shape the worlds around our world “to infinity and beyond!” (Thanks, Buzz Lightyear.)
Gone are the days of the horse and plow. With agricultural technology, “Farmers can use AI-powered algorithms to monitor their crops and predict yield, soil health monitoring, pest and disease detection, weather prediction, robotic farm equipment, and autonomous vehicles.” (southernmarylandchronicle.com). Autonomous vehicles? Imagine a farmer with a drone combine harvesting his fields while he tends to the rest of his automated farm.
And what about my flying car? Wasn’t that what The Jetsons said I would have in the future? Well, flying cars and taxis and other aeronautic advancements are here. Transportation technology has brought us those flying cars, self-driving vehicles, delivery drones, ultra-speedy Maglev trains, and Elon Musk’s underground roads (check out boringcompany.com) and Hyperloop, “a transportation tube that would run groups of passengers or freight through a pressurized track. The hyperloop would run at a high speed of 600 mph or more” (thezebra.com).
And now for something technologically spectacular, and of course, it has to do with entertainment. Have you heard about the musical event ABBA Voyage in London, England? Technicians used motion-capture technology to record the live actions of the four now-in-their-70s ABBA members, digitized their images, and melded them into holographic images of their younger bodies as performers at their musical peak in 1974-1982. The result is stunning and captivating. The holographic performance looks realistic. Check out the ABBA Voyage promotion video on YouTube.com and be amazed!
However, as I watched the ABBA Voyage promo video, I had a dark thought. If technology can create holograms this detailed, precise, and barely distinguishable from reality, what else can be done with high-level holograms if used for nefarious Conquer and Dominate purposes?
“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them” (Steve Jobs, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple). But people aren’t basically good and smart. God tells us the cold, hard truth no matter what other religions and philosophies tell us. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV).
That takes us to the dark side of technology, the truly terrifying side, which we’ll explore in the next part.
Thriving in a World of “Knowledge Half-Life,” cio.com/article/219940/thriving-in-a-world-of-knowledge-half-life.html
The Most Famous Inventions the Past 69 Years Have Given Us, popularmechanics.com/technology/g24668233/best-inventions
New Exascale Supercomputer Can Do a Quintillion Calculations a Second, scientificamerican.com/article/new-exascale-supercomputer-can-do-a-quintillion-calculations-a-second
6 Surprising Innovations for the Future of Computing, sap.com/insights/viewpoints/6-surprising-innovations-for-the-future-of-computing.html
The Five Biggest Tech Trends Transforming Government In 2022, forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2022/01/27/the-five-biggest-tech-trends-transforming-government-in-2022/?sh=7c8c532518f5
5 innovations that are revolutionizing global healthcare, weforum.org/agenda/2023/02/health-future-innovation-technology
The Top 6 Technology Innovations for Education, theamegroup.com/top-6-technology-innovations-education
Top 6 Innovations In Agriculture Technology, southernmarylandchronicle.com/2022/05/24/top-6-innovations-in-agriculture-technology
Future transportation: These emerging technology trends will transform our roads and skies, thezebra.com/resources/driving/future-transportation
Shining the Light of God’s Truth on the Road Ahead
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts