In my reading, I have not come across many attempts to define technology from a distinctly Christian perspective. Recently however, I found a definition that seems rather useful which comes from a 1986 publication called Responsible Technology from the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship at Calvin College:
We can define technology as a distinct human cultural activity in which human beings exercise freedom and responsibility in response to God by forming and transforming the natural creation, with the aid of tools and procedures, for practical ends and purposes. (Monsma, Stephen V. (ed.) Responsible Technology, 1986, p. 19)
According to the authors, there are five parts of the definition:
- A distinct human cultural activity in which human – technology is not just the physical objects (tools and gadgets) nor is it merely technical know-how; it is a part of human culture making.
- exercise freedom and responsibility in response to God – use of technology is always accountable to God and in relationship to him and his creation.
- by forming and transforming the natural creation – this distinguishes technology from other cultural activities such as marriage, singing songs, or creating art.
- with the aid of tools and procedures – while technology is not just tools, it certainly does not exist without tools, and those tools have a set of procedures that defines their proper use.
- for practical ends and purposes – there is always a goal in our use of technology and therefore in technology itself and each individual tool.
The one facet that I would like to add to this definition is the place of communication media. The mediums we use to communication (e.g. books and mobile phones) do not necessarily “form and transform the natural creation,” but they do fit the other four elements of the definition.
Any additions or subtractions you would make? Have you come across better/worse definitions of technology?