You don’t have to go very far in the book to identify what Jardine’s argument is all about. In The Making and Unmaking of Technological Society, Jardine wants his readers to know that his argument is that present day Western societies are in the grip of a profound moral crisis. He states that this crisis is our inability to make moral sense of our scientific and technological capabilities.
From the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century to computers today, sometimes called the “third industrial revolution” Jardine declares that technology has profoundly changed the way people in Western societies live. Throughout the ages most of the technological advancements have been to improve the way we live and benefit society. Although one can consider these advancements to be positive, it has undoubtedly created a challenge. When computers were first invented it was believed that this would reduce the long hours of work. Yet, the hours of work due to the revolution in computer technology has increased and the pace of life has increased dramatically, to the point where many people feel chronically exhausted and even psychologically disoriented. Jardine writes that we have actually become slaves of technology.
According to Jardine, modern technology can improve human existence in certain ways, but it can also be incredibly destructive if misused. Jardine does not blame technology for this disorder, but he attributes it to humanity’s inability to make moral sense of its current capacity to control and change its environment. It is apparent, according to Jardine, that the misuse of technology has caused many people to question the idea of progress.
“In the beginning God created…and God said…and God saw that it was good.” In Genesis 1, God created the world by speaking and then creates humans in his own likeness, which implies that humans can also create by speaking. Yet the progress of technology somehow has pushed the “mute button” in God’s creation, specifically the Christian community.
Throughout the scriptures we are captured by the power of the spoken word of Jesus. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said…(Matthew 4:19); “He drove the spirits out with a word, and they obey him.” (Matthew 8:16); “He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!” (Mark 4:39); “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3). The spoken word is powerful.
Jardine contends that we need to recapture a sense of the moral limitations inherent in our capacity for speech. He goes on to say that,
“Thanks to literacy and modern inventions such as television, which engage primarily our eyes rather than our ears, we live in a culture that is extremely visually oriented and relatively closed to the sound-dimension of human experience. Thus it is essential, if we are to develop a moral sense that can enable us to deal with technology, that we recapture a much richer sense of what we are doing when we speak and listen to other human beings. This in turn implies that we must rebuild local communities characterized by face-to-face contact—that is, where speaking becomes a more central aspect of daily life.”
The choices we make in how we use modern technology can sometimes hinder ability to build community. In a world of texting, tweeting, emails, and facebook, etc… we often miss the gift of the spoken word. I’m not against any of this technology…I use it all the time. However, sometimes we use this technology to avoid speaking to someone. Sometimes we use it to avoid the face to face contact. And sometimes we use it to avoid difficult conversations. In my own faith community where I normally received or made various phone calls throughout the week, I now receive and send more texts than calls. And what I have noticed in the process is a disconnect with the community and with families. The lack of the spoken word can sometimes create distance and isolation.
The God of the Bible is a creator. Therefore humans should recognize their own capacity for creating. In Genesis 1 God creates by speaking, so, by implication, humans create by speaking. Our words create a world in a much more subtle and important way than just the capacity to conceptualize physical objects. All human beings live in a web of relationships that are created by speech.  A spoken word doesn’t just label things, it actually creates, it can bring new possibilities. Thus spoken words are dynamic and creative. And God said it was good. As Christians we have the ability and capacity to use technology for good. Let’s do it.