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A response to Ken Funk.

Many ASA members share feelings of guilt associated with "technology," triggered by modern doctrinaire environmentalists and now intensified by Ken Funk in his article (PSCF 59, no. 3 [2007]: 201-11) on "technology." I have an instant cure for this mode of malaise, guaranteed to elicit viscerally from all readers the thought, "Thank God for modern technology": read, as I have, the book review of Hubbub, Filth, Noise and Stench in England, 1600-1770 by Emily Cockayne (Yale University Press, 2007) titled "Cesspool in the City" by Florence King in the American Spectator (September 2007): 66-8. In this case, we thank God for modern technology of sanitary engineering--plumbing, water supply, waste removal, and so forth. Similar joyful exclamations occur as we read of the sounds, smells, and sights of urban neighborhoods in the nineteenth century. Thus we honestly can thank God for electricity and automobiles (vs. horses).

The point is that "technology," at least in these cases, can be viewed essentially as an unqualified good, which we not only accept gratefully but perhaps ponder why these gifts were so delayed in the long history of humans. As in all things, we accept the unavoidable risks and work to reduce them--a long-term task for many engineers and scientists.

Technology, per se, can be good with no need to look for associated faults of negligible significance. (In all cases, the goal of perfect reliability is not attainable.) As such, I believe many Christians involved in the development of "technology" can validly present a positive view of technology to the ASA. That was the guiding thought in my role in creating the name "Christian Engineers and Scientists in Technology" (CEST)--a current ASA affiliation.

I have had a life-long career in developing microwave power technology and microwave safety standards. Throughout, I thank God daily for the insights that reflect imperfectly his understanding of microwave physics and have never felt guilty before God for my career. If I refer to the "Guide to Prudent Technological Practice" (Table 1 in Funk's paper), I meet all his criteria for positive assessment except those (especially #8) that imply absence of competition (industrial or academic) and valid proprietary intellectual property. This ethical dilemma is akin to debating whether the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox is "God's team." We can rationalize this problem and still end up optimistic pro-technology Christians.

John M. Osepchuk

ASA Fellow

Full Spectrum Consulting

248 Deacon Haynes Road

Concord, MA 01742
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Osepchuk, John M.
Publication:Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Mar 1, 2008
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