Friday, May 24, 2013

How Should We Then Code?

A short while ago I discovered Francis Schaeffer's How Should We Then Live? videos on the web.
I still find much of it a powerful perspective on history, even if the story telling is a little dated. But as he gets closer to our own times (1977) I think the presentation becomes a little less accurate and his last episode shows how problematic prediction is.

Curiously, in his last episode he puts forward the view that the only answer for future societies in the absence of 'the Christian consensus'.is for an elite to dictate ethics. This has obviously been shown to be wildly wrong. We don't have an elite as an arbiter of certainty. In the post modern world, we have the very opposite, a completely fragmentary view of reality and truth. But it is the role of technology in making that prediction so wrong which is of course interesting. Schaeffer and others thought that the coming technological age would enhance the power of the powerful technocrats - and in someways this is true. But what the futurists were completely blindsided by was the opposite - the fragmentation of power. Social media, the disaffection with spin etc and now a fair percentage of the population who will believe anything so long as it is opposite to the elite they don't like. Societies are it seems immensely adaptable and so it seems the conditions for collapse based on the lack of a moral consensus are not valid yet. Social media allows simultaneous fragmentation and a gluing together of societies.

And this is a point that has been said a little bit but is generally under appreciated - technological trends are somewhat predictable for a period of 10-20 years but social trends in general not just in relation to the technologies are to a much higher degree uncertain. 

But the question Schaeffer asks is an eternal one: How Should we Then Live?
Or to put a modern spin on it How Should We Then Code?

Some time ago Ethos Australia published a thought provoking article: Hold Your Nerve And Do Nothing by Steve McAlpine . Of course the point of the article is not to do nothing, but it is to do nothing less than to be the community of believers the New Testament envisions. It is a great article and one that is definitely worth reading. 

Galatians 5 states:

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. .... 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

In churches we spend most of our time reading the theology of the New Testament, but as I discover some of the literature on the new testament church, I get more inspired for my own living. There is much that we can should change to be better witnesses, but probably nothing as important as being genuinely people of faith.

How shall we code, the same way we work as bankers and entrepreneurs as homemakers and artists. We need to be people of integrity, a people who care for others, a people belonging to God. Lets not get to fussed up about the future. As Schaeffer shows, the business of prediction is precarious.

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