Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Technology and Magic...

In several classic science fiction works--most memorable for me are Isaac Asimov's Nightfall and Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer--it is the scientists who are viewed as the wizards. After all, with advanced technology they possess powers unattainable by mere mortals. They become the shamans who bless the fetish trinkets that we carry around and feel less than human without, bereft of our magical powers. Rodney Clapp writes in a similar vein in his American Soundings column in the Sept. 8, 2009 issue of The Christian Century. His column, entitled "Spooked By Gadgets" closes with this excellent paragraph:
In our hypertechnologized culture, the line between rational prudence and magical animism is razor thin. We want to believe our promethean powers of mechanical invention can bring paradise on earth. And yet our machinery, in such homely, intimate guises as the cell phone, carries with it mystification and even menace—right into our pockets and even our ear canals. In the face of postmodern animism, the secularization thesis— about the death of religions and disenchantment of the world—suffers its most ignominious defeat yet.

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