The world is in an age where people young and old are addicted to social media networking, constantly on their smart phones and otherwise absorbing every bit of drama on reality television shows. They call it the Digital Revolution.
In this movement of constantly evolving digital technology, many have been accused of neglecting their spiritual health.
Michel Bauwens, Internet consultant and technology researcher, writes in a peer review study called “Spirituality and Technology: Exploring the Relationship,” that some scholars and critics agree that technology could ultimately mean the demise of human spirituality but others say it can be transformational.
“Technology can be seen both as a degenerate practice and/or as a means to bring mankind to a higher level of consciousness or to a more well-developed civilization,” the abstract reads.
Bauwen allows that there are both pessimistic and optimistic interpretations of technology and its effect on spiritual and religious thought.
“Pessimists see the inner way strengthening human character, arguing that technology progressively weakens humanity. This interpretation would fit with Marshall McLuhan’s thesis that technology extends our senses. The more we extend technology and thus our external senses, the less need for inner senses. This technosphere is increasingly becoming inimical to both our bodies and minds,” Bauwens writes.
One could see how this point of view is formed, especially with the pioneering thought that technology will eventually replace human contact and the need for human bodies and minds, according to Bauwens. Further, technology is moving on a path where human memories can be downloaded onto hard drives and human bodies can be merged with robotic parts. Some have proposed that digital technology gives people the artificial power to create and depend on self rather than the Supreme Being.
An article in the cyber world magazine, The Spiritual Scientist, called “Technology: A Blessing or a Curse,” discusses the issue.
“In a technology-centered world, multitudes of gadgets promise control and enjoyment. Consequ-ently, people develop, consciously or unconsciously, a world view that everything is meant for their enjoyment if they can just get the means,” the article reads. “Technological education, being secular, teaches them nothing about any higher spiritual purpose of life. Having no knowledge or opportunity for finding inner fulfillment, people consider material enjoyment to be the only goal of life.”
Further, it allows that technology does indeed appear to enable society progress in various forms, but the forward motion is only an illusion. While individuals may seem comforted by what technology offers, the article suggests that it robs the human being of peace of mind, generates more health problems related to technology, causes a need for constant unsatisfying stimulation, and intoxicates users with a false sense of control and power.
Although the article suggests that technology is contributing to a material world view in which people are becoming spiritually blind, it also suggests that technology is a tool that can be used in a positive way as well as in a negative way.
On the flip side, from an optimistic point of view, technology has a tendency to bring people closer.
According to Stephen K. Spyker, author of “Technology & Spirituality,” the two areas do indeed mix and work well with one another.
“Unlike oil and water, technology and spirituality can and do mix,” Spyker writes. “As an alternative, think of spirituality and technology as two countries. Normally, these countries keep comfortably to themselves. Both are vast, and no one person living in them will ever see or truly know them in their entirety. In spite of this vastness, the frontiers of each appear to be fairly well established; we can cross the frontier from one country to another, but when we do we’re quite aware of the crossing.”
Pastors, spiritual leaders, and even therapists have found ways to integrate spirituality with technology, not to mention the pastors who preach from their iPads on Sunday morning.
But when it comes to teen enlightenment and making God enticing, researchers Tricia L. Hoogestraat and Harlan G. Gayunga say in “The Therapist’s Notebook for Integrating Spirituality in Counseling II” that using technology to develop teen spirituality is ideal.
“Technology is an integral part of the American teen culture. Cell phones, the Internet, instant messenger, and email have significantly impacted the adolescent’s world of communication. These tools provide instant access and a new dimension to human connection. Therefore, the application of technology as a metaphor for spiritual connection can aid in the therapeutic process,” their study reads.
While the topic is indeed too broad for one article, consider the use of technology when creating living organisms for cloning or even taking out patents on various forms of life. Further, technology exists in various platforms of life, including work, home, education, social interaction, business, and several others. Depending on your world view, technology can forge an avenue of spiritual change or devolve the human soul.