Nathan W. Bingham
Connecting in a Hyper-Connected World

Technology, No Matter How Promising and Brilliant, Will Never Satisfy

Today, Apple hosted its annual iPhone event. Technology blogs and geeks have been buzzing for weeks with rumors as to what features, products, and news would be announced.

As an Apple geek, I confess the air has been electric for me today as I waited for the live event. But for many, today is seen not so much as a simple product announcement but as a day of revelation—a day when Apple would offer a salve to sooth the itch of life. But technology, no matter how promising and brilliant, will never satisfy. Penned long before the Internet, iPhones, and iPads, Pascal explains why in Pascal’s Pensees (“thoughts”):

All men seek happiness… And yet after such a great number of years, no one without faith has reached the point to which all continually look. All complain, princes and subjects, noblemen and commoners, old and young, strong and weak, learned and ignorant, healthy and sick, of all countries, all times, all ages, and all conditions… What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.

Ultimate satisfaction and contentment is found only in God. It is alienation from our Creator, caused by our sin, that results in all discontentment, dissatisfaction, and restlessness. In being reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ, the problem at the core of every human being is solved. By God’s grace, satisfaction is possible in spite of circumstances, material possessions, or worldly accolades because we find our satisfaction in Him.

The Apostle Paul offered comfort with the knowledge that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).

Technology’s Failure to Satisfy

I was struck last year by the refreshing honesty of Mat Honan in this rather unconventional report (language warning) on CES 2012, the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow.

In it, Honan describes his dissatisfaction with technology:

“There is a hole in my heart dug deep by advertising and envy and a desire to see a thing that is new and different and beautiful. A place within me that is empty, and that I want to fill up. The hole makes me think electronics can help. And of course, they can…At least for a while. At least until they are obsolete. At least until they are garbage.

Electronics are our talismans that ward off the spiritual vacuum of modernity; gilt in Gorilla Glass and cadmium. And in them we find entertainment in lieu of happiness, and exchanges in lieu of actual connections.”

Two Ways to View Technological Innovation

To Satisfy

Technological innovation can be exhausting when it’s done in an attempt to satisfy—to fill the emptiness inside (as both Pascal and Mat Honan describe it). Innovation must go on because satisfaction is never found. We’re always waiting for the next iPhone, for something newer and shinier, because it may be the answer to satisfy my craving heart. This has turned technology into an idol and it will always fail to deliver on its promise to satisfy.

To Reflect the One Who Satisfies

David Murray, the teacher in the video God’s Technology, often speaks of God as the “ultimate Inventor, Innovator, and Creator who allows men and women to discover His inventions, innovations, and creations…” Technological innovation should be done, not for the purpose of finding satisfaction, but to reflect Him, the original Innovator.

When technological innovation is viewed in this light, it ceases being an attempt to satisfy the unsatisfied, and instead becomes what it is in reality, a blessing from the God who alone satisfies. From that vantage point, I watch events like today’s Apple announcement with expectation and a heart filled with thanksgiving to God.

Pray for the Dissatisfied

There may be cool biometrics in the new iPhone and your choice of silver, gold, or space gray, but the glitter will soon fade. Please pray for the millions of people who continually experience the dissatisfaction of every new gadget, iPhone or otherwise, quickly becoming “garbage.” Pray that it would drive them to seek the One who ultimately and eternally satisfies—the Lord Jesus Christ.

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