Daily Life in The 21st Century
Daily life in the 21st century is full of digital technology. In contrast to twenty years ago some people worked on computers and those were mainly in offices, today just about everybody uses a computer in some or other form. It is no longer just a word processor for the secretary, or used for data processing by the academic, the statistician or the chartered accountant.
Today, the diesel mechanic must know how to connect their computer to the central computer that manages the engine components for instructions on where the problem lies. The paediatrician in Cape Town uses a computer and robot to operate on the baby in the hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. The mother uses her digital diary to keep up with all her children’s activities. The busy global executive uses his smart phone to run his business while he is globetrotting from India to South Africa, Spain and Germany. Elections are won or lost based on what happens in the digital world (Chen, 2013).
The Digital Age has Arrived
Children from a very young age are into computerised games and social media. The popular game, Fortnite, has around 300 million players worldwide. One event in the game was attended by 42,8 million people (Cultured Vultures, 2020). On the other hand 12,8 million people watched the final of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 (Ingle, 2019). The digital age has arrived, and it is here to stay.
Digital Technology does Things Faster
But what is the reason for this digital transformation? Why has society moved from analogue to digital? Accenture explains it as follows (Accenture, 2020): “Your customer. B2B or B2C. Doesn’t matter. They’ve been forever altered by digital. They want – no. They expect everything faster. And better and cheaper.” Digital technology does things faster and cheaper than what humans can do.
If this is the importance of digital technology today, then it is important that we have to understand it from a Biblical worldview. Dr Makhado explains that for a school a worldview is like a spin. Everything in human life revolves around it: philosophical assumptions, vision, mission, school culture and classroom activities. All development is centered on a person’s worldview. A Biblical worldview is then when the Bible informs everything that is believed, said and done. This is the way that Christians should lead their lives: every word, every action based on the Bible; also their use of digital technology.
Digital Technology Defined
Let’s look at a definition for technology from a Biblical worldview. In the book, Responsible Technology, technology is defined as “a distinct cultural activity in which human beings exercise freedom and responsibility in response to God by forming and transforming the natural creation, with the aid of tools and procedures, for practical ends or purposes.” We could just add digital tools to complete our definition of digital technology. In other words, it is any practical thing that human beings responsibly make (because we are free to do so) in response to God.
There is a simpler way to explain this. The Passion Translation puts it beautifully: “Whether you eat or drink, live your life in a way that glorifies and honors God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). That is the long and short of it: our use of digital technology and ICT should glorify and honour God.
Honouring God with Digital Technology
Have you ever wondered about this? How do we live to honour God? Again, the Bible answer is so simple: “Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you. This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is like it in importance: You must love your friend (neighbour) in the same way you love yourself” (Matthew 22:37 – 39 – brackets in quotation added). Any time something takes your focus, passion and energy away from your relationship with God, there is a problem. Or if anything causes you to love your neighbour less than you love yourself, there is a problem.
Who is your consuming fire?
The Bible says that “our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). Or has your phone become the consuming fire in your life? Or perhaps your Facebook account? Or WhatsApp? Or Candy Crush Saga? Or Clash of Clans? Or YouTube? Is this what takes up all your time? Do you prefer spending time on your phone to spending time with your spouse? Or your children? Or don’t you have time to visit with friends but you have a couple of hours to spend in front of the television every day after work? Does your work come home today because you have your laptop with you? Do you have time to follow the news online but you don’t have time to spend with the Lord? If you have a problem today, do you first turn to the Lord or do you first turn to Google?
We can make this a very complex and difficult issue, but it is actually quite simple. In short, if we want to use digital technology from a Biblical worldview, it should be our servant, helping us to glorify and honour God and to love our neighbour as ourselves.