What if every Christian doctor was connected as the body of Christ!
5 MINUTE READ
The thick ‘silver lining’ that has come with the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has dragged medicine kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Telehealth, eScripts, remote imaging and pathology referrals, secure messaging, Medicare web-based services, SafeScript, MyHealthRecord, Australian immunisation register (AIR) access, PRODA, pharmacy delivery-to-your-door, the list goes on. All these have progressed at a cracking pace and are now regular parts of life as a GP. The techno-creep has even reached our specialist and hospital colleagues, albeit at a slower pace!
Scientists have collaborated around the world to develop vaccines and COVID-19 treatments faster than ever before. Regional, national and international meetings are possible from the comfort of home, albeit sometimes at inconvenient times. The world has expanded digitally whilst contracting physically, with lockdowns and isolation part of pandemic life. Working from home, international resourcing, live-stream meetings, mobile offices, online ordering and home delivery have all increased exponentially. Many of these things are here to stay, even though the conditions that painfully birthed them have thankfully passed.
“As complexity increases, our ability to make sense of it decreases, and we are left further and further behind by a runaway technology.”
There is a dark side too. Cyber-attacks, social media ‘conspiracy theories’, wide-spread misinformation, extremism, vaccine hesitancy, politicalisation of information (originating in the US, but influencing the globe), fake treatments, pop-up telehealth clinics, and (in the global picture) the digital divide between those who have technology access and those who do not has led to an increase in poverty. Human cognitive limits lead to information overload. Dopamine stimulation drives addictive use. Social validation spawns the influencer culture. Confirmation bias amplifies fake news. Outrage leads to polarisation. The drivers are greed, delusion, fear and jealousy – sin at its ugliest. Extreme views are magnified as widely representative, whilst moderate voices are less likely to be posted. Unfortunately, even though we are aware of it, we are still affected by what we see. As complexity increases, our ability to make sense of it decreases, and we are left further and further behind by a ‘runaway technology’.
Edward O. Wilson stated in 2009,1 “The real problem of humanity is the following: We have paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology. And it is terrifically dangerous, and it is now approaching a point of crisis overall.” Edward speaks from an agnostic perspective. This is not new, although technology does seem to have accelerated at an astonishing rate this last century.
Early in human history, the Bible sees our attempts to control technology with the tower of Babel:
“And the LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.’” (Gen 11:6).
Tristan Harris (the Social Dilemma) proposes a solution: “Embrace paleolithic emotions, upgrade medieval institutions, and apply wisdom to using god-like technology.”2 His Centre for Humane Technology strives to protect human weakness rather than exploiting it. That wisdom is secular: respect human vulnerabilities, minimise harm, create shared understanding, support fairness and justice, be conscious of our values and help people thrive. These noble values come from Judeo-Christian roots and reflect the character of God.
The Bible takes us further, ”The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov 9:10 NIV).
When we interact with our ‘runaway technology’, when we are tempted to think ourselves ‘demi-gods’, we do well to remember who we are in relation to the God revealed in the Bible – creatures, made in His incredible image, to rule the world under Him, in ways that reflect Him.
Luke’s Journal too, has had a technological upgrade over the years:
The Journal’s reach is worldwide (18,000 in Oz, but a further 3000 from the US, NZ, UK, Singapore, Ireland, Canada, Malaysia, China and South Africa!), with 4000+ readers a month, searchable, shareable, and showcased weekly on Facebook. It has a ten-strong editorial team, a bank of occasional proofreaders, and we are succession-planning for the long-term. I think you’ll agree that we’ve come a long way. (If that excites you and you’d like to get involved, email email@example.com!)
In this issue of Luke’s Journal, Dr John Goswell gives us a fascinating look into the history of technology as it relates to the Bible. Dr Ern Crocker and Prof John Whitehall share personal reflections in photos and words. Dr Paul Mercer and Dr Joseph Thomas delve into some of the negatives, and we hear how CMDFA members are connecting regularly for prayer, education, fundraising and fellowship via technology. Asher Morrison and Dr Alyssa Arnold share tips for adolescent screen-time and sleep, whilst Debbie Hopper gives ideas for stewarding your time with tech. All in all, well worth a sit-down with a cuppa to enjoy the benefits of technology at our fingertips!
Last, but not least, I encourage you to partner with CMDFA in its ministry of advocacy, mentoring and integrating faith in practice. Less than 6% of Christian doctors are members, but together we have made significant impacts at parliamentary, regional and individual levels. Dr James Yun (CMDFA Treasurer) expands on this in his article, “Membership in the Digital Age”. We know that God is not ‘on mute’ in his creation – imagine what might be possible if every Christian doctor was connected as the body of Christ!
Luke’s Journal would like to acknowledge the tireless work of Ivan Smith of Communiqué Graphics, who has been with us since the very beginning, printsetting 61 issues of Luke’s Journal over 25 years!
He has been ably followed by Peter Shirley who is our current web content manager.
Dr Catherine Hollier Dr Catherine Hollier is a part-time GP in Newcastle who loves to encourage others to integrate faith and work. She has been excited to be part of the journey of increasing the reach of Luke's Journal using internet technology. She enjoys disseminating the wisdom of many CMDFA members through editing Luke’s Journal.
Would you like to contribute content to Luke’s Journal? Find out more…
- Debate at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, Mass., 9 September 2009
- “The Battle for Our Attention: Technology, Mindfulness, and the Future of Humanity” posted 23 April 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5rn1qp2aZc&ab_channel=Wisdom2.0