The Positive Opportunities of Technology

February 9, 2016

Technology is all around us. Whether it takes the form of a smart phone, tablet, computer, or even the way we make coffee in the morning, it surrounds us daily. In the liturgy of life, from waking up in the morning to laying our head down at night, we are inundated with technology. This reality has both positive and negative influence upon our lives. I believe, too often, we can focus on the negatives and dangers of technology and forget to embrace the good that it brings to our lives. This article will reflect on four major categories in which I think technology improves our lives both on the individual level and as a society. Granted, as with most aspects of life it is not all black and white. Each category will have its negatives, but today I will focus solely on the positive ways it impacts our day-to-day lives. The four categories I will focus upon are: creative outposts, education, communication, and social media/niche communities.

Creative Outposts

In previous generations, the chance to produce in a creative manner often had its hinderances mostly in relation to resources. If you were a musical performer, the only way to get noticed and “make it” would be to be physically present and perform somewhere. In order to create quality demos of your work, this required significant financial resources. Today, artists of all generations are able to use their creative skills to produce high quality recordings with minimal financial strain, all from their own home. Artists can also put themselves out there on YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, and a variety of other outlets in order to be seen and heard. This has enabled a new generation to provide the world with very broad array of fresh talent.

This creative outlet is not only in relation to music but can also be seen in writing and speaking. Blogs are now booming and anyone can have a voice. No longer are there centralized groups of people controlling the access to high quality content. If you have something to say, then you can easily put your voice out there in the form of writing (blogs) or speaking (podcasts). The control of quality and popularity is now in the hands of the public rather than individuals vetting the merits of someone’s voice and opinions.

Even people with physical or mental handicaps have access to produce and have a voice. One of Apple’s initiatives is to provide high quality accessibility features on all their devices and software so everyone has a voice, regardless of any limitations one may have. This quote from Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, I think sums up this access for all people well

People with disabilities often find themselves in a struggle to have their human dignity acknowledged. They frequently are left in the shadows of technological advancements that are a source of empowerment and attainment for others. But Apple’s engineers push back against this unacceptable reality, they go to extraordinary lengths to make our products accessible to people with various disabilities from blindness and deafness to various muscular disorders and this beautiful story

I (Tim Cook) receive hundreds of e-mails from customers every day, and I read them all. Last week I received one from a single mom with a three year old autistic son who was completely non-verbal, and after receiving an iPad, for the first time in his life, he had found his voice. I receive scores of these incredible stories from around the world and I never tire of reading them.[1]

Technology has given more people, who are all created in the image of God, a creative voice in the world. We should embrace this creativity and encourage people of all ages and abilities to find their creative niche with the help of technology.


Previously, educational access was primarily limited to physical locations. So for many people, if they did not have access to these locations they would not receive education that is now available to them. Online learning has decentralized the education process. Now, anyone, regardless of location, can receive learning from wherever they are.

I find this to be especially important for lay people in churches here in the United States and around the world. Access to high quality education, formal or informal, is only a mouse-click away. Resources range from the informal training of Ligonier Ministries or Bible Mesh to the formal training at our Southern Baptist seminaries. By providing access to content from anywhere, it allows people to learn content where they are situated.[2]


Communication is no longer limited to being physically present. This was transformed with the introduction of the telephone but every year we gain better and more effective methods of communicating with each other from a distance. There are many positive applications of using technology for communication, whether it is talking with friends and family, business associates, missionaries, etc. We are now able to form and foster new and ongoing relationships despite the distance that may separate many of us. If you are in the business world you may now be able to have meetings where you would be required to travel but instead can have a conference video call from the comfort of your office. Reducing the travel time could potentially give you more opportunity to spend time with your family and be involved in your local church.

Social Media and Niche Communities

Lastly, the continued rise of social media, plus creative outposts such as blogs and podcasts, has presented many opportunities for people to form online communities, especially related to niche interests. I think one of the reasons for this rise is that often times, unless you live in a bigger city, you may be the only one around that is interested in these hobbies. For example, the use of fountain pens has been increasing the last several years. I think one of the reasons for this rise of interests is that there is an ever growing community of fountain pen users that have congregated online. People are able to form a bond of the presence of these communities through similar interests. There are many blogs and websites created by individuals who now have a voice (see creative outposts) in the community by talking about what they love.[3] This doesn’t replace the reality of actual, physical community, because the interest in niche hobbies does not always lend itself well to like-minded community. However, social media has allowed many to find this community in the online environment for the hobbies they love.


The continued rise of technology in our every day lives provides many positive opportunities to create, produce, educate, communicate, and engage with like-minded people in ways that were previously unavailable. We always need to be mindful of the negative implications that often accompany these endeavors, but that should not prohibit our moderate use of it. So go out today and engage your creative side and share with the world, learn about something, or find that community that shares one of your interests and dive deeper into it. Take advantage of the many outlets that technology provides to us.

[1]       http://www.imore.com/apple-and-accessibility-pushing-back-against-unacceptable-realities

[2]       There is a whole other conversation on the merits of online theological education that I will not address here. Needless to say, there are both pros and cons to online theological education. One area that online education struggles to address is the formation of the person in the educational process, which is vital to education. The content can be delivered and learned in effective ways but true formation requires a physical presence with physical people. This should be taken into account when one is choosing training for ministry.

[3]       For example, Brad Dowdy, started the Pen Addict blog several years ago plus a podcast that has almost 200 episodes and is still going strong. This was my entry way into the fountain pen world.

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24