Billy Graham on Technology and Faith – Lunch w/ TEDLunch with TED — By Dustin R. Steeve on August 12, 2010 at 12:00 am
Technology has enabled us to accomplish astounding things and solve many problems. Instantaneous world-wide communication, prolonged life, flight, space travel, deep sea exploration, and more. Yet with all that technology has changed, with all the problems it has solved, man is left to wrestle with this: the problem of evil.
I await with eager anticipation the arrival of my iPhone 4. I imagine that owning one will be a life changing experience. I’ve not yet owned a smart phone with internet capabilities and I anticipate that access to the web as well as millions of apps from my phone will alter the way I live my life. For example, I’ll be able to check e-mail anytime I want, not simply when I’m near a computer with internet access. If I’m out with friends, I’ll be able to quickly identify nearby places to eat. I’ll even be able to squeeze some Scrabble play into free time throughout the day. The iPhone will change my life by changing the way that I live it, by changing my habits and expectations.
Technology has the power to shape us. It is shaping us. Yet its formative power pales in comparison to the power of evil – the problem of evil.
Two weeks ago, I featured a talk by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com. Mr. Bezos exhorted his audience to be kind, not clever. Yet, as I pointed out in my post, Mr. Bezos did not give his audience a way to identify or know kindness. Mr. Bezos clearly recognizes the problem of evil but all of his technological and entrepreneurial wisdom cannot help him put words to, or make truth claims about, kindness or what kindness is.
Sadly for Mr. Bezos, even if he identified it, kindness alone cannot solve the problem of evil.
The difference between Mr. Bezos’ talk and Mr. Graham’s is striking. Both acknowledge the cleverness of man, especially the technological cleverness. Mr. Graham, being of much greater age and experience as a man who has spoken with a number of scientists, politicians, and persons of power, is able to expound on man’s cleverness in greater detail from a variety of perspectives not limited to the founding a technology company. However, it is only Mr. Graham who dares to define an answer to the problem of evil.
As a Christian, it is hard for me not to feel like the problem of evil is merely a religious or Christian concern. Worse, it’s hard for me not to ignore the problem of evil, desiring instead to focus on the promise of goods – such as the iPhone. But the Mr. Graham, confident in the truth of Christ, fearlessly throws down the gauntlet: “Even the most sophisticated among us seem powerless to break this [the problem of evil and suffering]. I would like to see Oracle take up that. Or some other technological geniuses work on this.”
He invites the challenge because he knows that there is only one true answer and its not found in technology or cleverness.
Knowledge is power. The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, the means by which we come into relationship with God. The problem of evil was solved by Christ. We have the promise of eternal life because Christ solved the problem of evil.
This is the answer to Mr. Graham’s challenge.
Here’s my challenge: both Christ and the iPhone have solved problems. Which are we more eager to share with our friends? Which one is changing our lives?’