Laudato Si 104: The Power of Technology

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. What’s the saying? With great power comes great responsibility?

104. Yet it must also be recognized that nuclear energy, biotechnology, information technology, knowledge of our DNA, and many other abilities which we have acquired, have given us tremendous power. More precisely, they have given those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world. Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used. We need but think of the nuclear bombs dropped in the middle of the twentieth century, or the array of technology which Nazism, Communism and other totalitarian regimes have employed to kill millions of people, to say nothing of the increasingly deadly arsenal of weapons available for modern warfare. In whose hands does all this power lie, or will it eventually end up? It is extremely risky for a small part of humanity to have it.

Yet the nuclear argument is” the fewer the better. And sometimes those in power go back on their earlier decisions. It was a British and American decision, for example, to share nuclear energy with Iran in the 1950’s. A gesture of alliance and friendship now turned sour, it would seem. Who decides who shares? It might be said, once an atom is split, we can’t forget how we did it. But perhaps a wider discussion is needed among those who lack the “power” and a sharing, by them, of how such power in energy, genetics, or computers gets used. Not an easy thing to share, it would seem.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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