A few weeks ago, I came across an article showcasing the rather ghastly expressions of children parked in front of the television,
Photographer Donna Stevens’ series Idiot Box seeks to draw attention to the constant presence of technology and its most impressionable audience, our children...
According to Stevens, Idiot Box explores the darker side of our love for technology and begs the questions: Should we exhibit more caution about the role of technology in our children’s lives? Is our techno-paranoia warranted? No matter what gadgetry we may possess and blame for our undoing, do our problems still just remain human?
However you choose to answer the first two questions, the answer to the last one must be an inexorable and resounding "yes." Why? Because man is a sinner, and sin will forever make a mockery out of attempts at salvation through “progress,” technological or otherwise. Build as many mighty ships of humanistic optimism as you dare — sin is the reef that will turn your fleet into matchsticks.
Recognition of this truth is one of the many reasons I love science fiction. The gravitas of science fiction stems from its ability "to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam" (Frederik Pohl). Consider the finest examples of the genre - like Minority Report, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World - and you’ll find stories that are far less concerned with gadgets than they are with the mind and soul of man.
I am reminded of an observation Chesterton makes in his essay “The Efficiency of the Police”:
The truth is that any advance in science leaves morality in its ancient balance; and it depends still on the inscrutable soul of man whether any discovery is mainly a benefit or mainly a calamity. This is, perhaps, the strongest argument for a morality superior to materialism, and a religion that refuses to be bullied by science. Moral progress must still be made morally; and a modern scientist who has invented the most complex mechanism, or liberated the most subtle gas, has still exactly the same spiritual problem before him as that which confronted Cain, when he stood with a ragged stone in his hand.