An interesting article in the New York Times considers American’s faith in technology and the surprise we have when technology can’t immediately fix our problems. The occasion for the article is the oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. As most of you know, efforts to stop the oil from gushing into the Gulf have failed.
Enter Elisabeth Rosenthal’s article, “Our Fix-It Faith and the Oil Spill.” With the mood in America becoming increasingly restless (and for many people nothing short of outrage exists), Rosenthal observes,
Americans have long had an unswerving belief that technology will save us — it is the cavalry coming over the hill, just as we are about to lose the battle. And yet, as Americans watched scientists struggle to plug the undersea well over the past month, it became apparent that our great belief in technology was perhaps misplaced.
This is not to say this crisis has been perfectly managed or that more could not be done. That’s not the point of this post or of Rosenthal’s piece. I’ll leave that debate to the politicos and experts on the ground (or in the water). What this disaster is revealing, however, is just how much faith we put in technology to solve all of our problems. Rosenthal is uncovering American’s “misplaced” faith—something Christians should be very interested in.
Later in the article, Rosenthal reminds us of the similar reaction to the recent grounding of planes due to volcanic ash over parts of Europe,
Indeed, think of all the planes grounded for nearly a week in northern Europe last month, as a volcano poured ash in the atmosphere. There was no technological fix, and many passengers couldn’t believe it. Said Mr. Kohut, of Pew Research, “The reaction was: ‘Fix this. Fix this. This is outrageous.’ ”
Humans don’t do well when not in control.
While there is much to learn from the oil crisis in the Gulf, one lesson is coming home clearly to Rosenthal and others: technology is not God.
Among other things, this catastrophe can remind us of where our faith ultimately needs to be: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).