04 February 2007

Name Your Fear

Since the previous post mentioned fear, here is a post from my MySpace page.

The other evening, we got together with friends for a "Bring Your Own Barbecue." We talked about law school, career changes, psychotherapy, religion... And then we talked about the future. We must be in a time of great transition, because the dominant mood was not hope. It was fear.

I talked about how genetic engineering, implants, and other high tech "enhancements" could make the people of the future so different from us that they might not consider "non-enhanced" or "natural" people like us to be fully human. And how, by tinkering with human nature itself, we would undermine the basis of Natural Law.

Our host spoke of Global Warming, and how climate change could wipe out agriculture in some parts of the world, and sink coastal cities.

My wife talked about how the melting of the North Polar Icecap could decrease the salinity gradient in the North Atlantic that drives the Gulf Stream. If the Gulf Stream were to stop, that would almost shut down the transfer of heat from the equatorial to the polar regions. The result could be a rapid re-freezing of the northern latitudes resulting in a new Ice Age. In other words, our climate is metastable, with tipping points beyond which large and sudden changes may occur.

I suppose we could have mentioned asteroid impacts, and global thermonuclear war while we are at it. Or maybe the day some terrorist organization gets hold of a nuclear weapon and detonates where you would least like it.

So I'm just curious. Was it just us, or are other people having anxious thoughts about the future. What sort of thoughts?


LutheranChik said...

One of my anxious fears -- probably in part due to living in one of the more economically moribund states of the Union -- what if there ARE no new jobs to replace the ones being made redundant or moved offshore?

My other anxious thought -- more sad than anxious, I guess -- is sorrow at the acclerated rate of exinctions on this planet. I know a few months ago the ELCA's science-and-faith department (I can't think of the official name) ran an article on natural selection as kenosis -- something along the lines of God entering into weakness and failure at this level; it was interesting, but didn't make me feel better about the diversity of our plant and animal species shrinking.

Anonymous said...

I'm taking a course called Communication and Technology at a small christian university on the east coast. Our class talks a lot about technophilia (the love of technology) versus technophobia (the fear of technology). WE live in a very new and uncertain time. That statement seems a little trite and obvious i will admit, but there is a lot of truth in it. Neil Postman devides the history of our relationship with tevchnology into three periods, which i kind of like and tend to agree with. The first periiod is a the tool-using period where men made tools for various purposes and usually there was a large degree of ritual and even religious meaning surrounding and actaully determing how, why, and where the tools scould/should be used.
Sometime after the middle ages technocracies began to rise where technology no longer needed to have some reason or standard behind it. This was around the time of galileo, decartes, and bacon. The theologians, religious leaders, and religious thought began to lose control (which was not necessarily all bad, oppresive, or deceitful, it was simply the cultural engine of the time) of technology.
postman argues today technopolies, such as america, have begun to surface. the sign of a technopoly is close to technological determinism. a technopoly exists when new technoglies are being created just for the sake of making them, and their effects are having very little relative effect on the quality of human life.

I would argue that you and ur friends bout of neagtive thought is not so negative as it is critical of the technophilia that is embedded deeply in the ideologies of this nation, and many others.

nor would i call your thoughts pessimistic, pessimism only takes root when one forfits their ability to change any bleekness in the future, optimism is the hope (faith) that change can happen in the face of adversity.

Scooper said...

On what we're doing to the species on this planet, here is what I think. We will not diminish biodiversity. We'll just focus it to make its living off us.

Your point reminds me of Albert Einstein's opinion that, "Our technology has outpaced our humanity." Indeed, in the developed world, technologies seems to develop simply because developers think people will want want them. And sometimes people do. It's called the free market.

But your point is equally well taken that nothing more than the market seems to be guiding or restraining innovation. And indeed, the market has a collective intelligence. But it does not have a collective limbic system. The market is capable of thought, but not of love.

And then there is the age-old problem of the dual-use nature of so many technologies. Is a hammer a tool or a weapon? It depends on who wields it and why.