One of the remarkable features of the decade of the 1960′s was the wildly optimistic view people held for technology and its ability to make our life better. Commercials abounded that touted the latest technological product that would mean less work, more leisure for the suburban American. Artificial turf was seen as superior to natural grass for ballparks across the country. Children had to be bottle-fed rather than breast-fed because of the wonderful vitamins that man put into the bottles. And of course, The Pill would free women everywhere from nature’s “curse”: bearing children.
The epitome of this messianic view of technology was the television show Star Trek, created at the height of man’s love for artificiality. Much of science-fiction up until this time took a dark view of the future, with aliens invading and robots taking over the world. But Star Trek had a different view: technology would not only not be our downfall, it would be our savior. In the Star Trek world, the advent of faster-than-light warp travel led to the end of poverty, greed, war and apparently Original Sin.
Over the years it has become apparent to almost everyone that modern technology is not, in fact, the savior the 1960′s thought it would be. No one makes a baseball park with artificial turf anymore and no one argues that bottle-milk is superior for a baby over breast-milk. Commercials still tout the time-saving features of the latest gadgets, but no one actually believes that these devices will save any time – they in the end fill it with things we don’t really want to do.
But there is one artificial technology that we still cling to vociferously, refusing to examine any evidence that it might actually be harmful to man. That, of course, is The Pill. When technology impacts something of marginal interest, such as a baseball game, we have no problem analyzing it objectively to see if it is truly beneficial. When it impacts someone we love, such as our baby, we are willing to reject it if the evidence shows it is harmful. But when it impacts our own selfish needs, especially one so powerful as the sexual drive, we refuse to see the evidence right in front of our face.
This is the curse of Original Sin: we want to make ourselves gods, controlling the world around us to make it in our image. We think we can make our own Garden of Eden. But we have found that the artificial things that we make don’t hold a candle to God’s created universe. But we cling to our false, artificial world if it allows us to wallow in our sins. We need to remember that the salvation of this world comes not from technology, but instead through the work of a Carpenter’s son who was nailed to a wooden Cross for our sins, and makes that salvation available to us through such humble (and natural) things like water, bread, and wine.