Technology Kills Faith?

I just started reading Albert Borgmann’s *Power Failure* (2003), his work on contemporary culture, technology, and the Christian faith response. Although very dated given the speed of the internet/technology, his thesis and premise are discussion-worthy for me. Here goes:

He makes some connections between technology’s use (in a broad sense of heating/cooling, refrigeration, communication, architecture, etc.) and money., and the growth of a “type of culture” (technology integrated within, part of; not extra, detached, etc.) The west and the most affluent are seeing declines in church attendance, therefore he’s drawing a connection between tech. and faith-lessness.

“The connection between technology and Christianity is troubling for two reasons. Most obviously the progress of technology seems to render Christianity superfluous and irrelevant. [Paraphrase of Borgmanns next bit: If the “good news” as Jesus spoke and lived it is levied towards the poor/oppressed & these have been reduced by tech, what necessitates the “good news” today for those “freed” by technology?]. . . What is troubling as well is the fuzzy outline and uncertain force of technology and hence of the challenge Christianity is facing. What kind of liberation is it that technology has promised? What sort of riches has tech. produced? Do we in fact feel free? Are we truly prospering?

. . .Making room for Christianity is in fact the most promising response to technology. We should neither try to demolish technology nor run away from it. We can restrain it and must redeem it.”

Does Borgmann point towards a significant piece of a declining faith in (a Christian) God as it pertains to socio-cultural shifts in spirituality? Is he missing anything in his assessment? Is this statement applicable to other faith communities as well; Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, etc.?


~ by Brian Shope on August 19, 2010.

2 Responses to “Technology Kills Faith?”

  1. Personally I see it all as just a coincidence. Throughout human history people’s religious beliefs seem to have gone up and down all while technology has efficiently increased steadily. I’m huge into technology and I don’t see how it could kill my faith. Also I don’t know how technology can make us feel more free at all. If anything having all of this gadgetry makes you more tied down to others, it seems like people nowadays have less time to themselves where they can just go out without anyone contacting them or knowing their whereabouts.

  2. I agree, striker300southpaw, I’m a little wary of the dying of faith based on technology. Although Borgmann’s distinction is of a societal and cultural level, which may make his assertion specified not towards our self-actualization, but communal movements. To his credit (and my poor framing in the post), he states that – as you’ve observed and experienced – technology has indeed exerted a “numbing” presence and development that has gone without critical reflection. Likewise, the flipside to the freedom that technology (again, at a macro level) he alludes to is: protection from elements and the environment; medical/physiological developments that free us from the oppression of disease, exposure, etc.; economic developments that free us from the oppression of servitude/slavery; military/weaponry that frees us from oppression of political oppression, etc. (His words: freedom from hunger, cold, disease, ignorance, and confinement.)

    I’m not sure I’d see it quite as coincidental as you have offered, but perhaps we would both agree that the reduction of faith (of any kind) in western society to technology is a bit of an overstatement?

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