Advantage or Disadvantage?

In this issue, we address the effect of rapid technological development on our society. One of the most recent and unexpected examples is the phenomenal spread of the Internet. We are becoming even more of a global village than we were in the 1960s, when Marshall McLuhan first coined the term. From the comfort of our living room or office, we can click a button and read foreign newspapers and magazines, study languages, and learn about other cultures.

But such access has its disadvantages: sexually explicit Web sites, chat rooms where people are not what they seen, and violent and ultra-violent video games that can be downloaded. Thus, a still hotly debated issue concerning the entertainment industry now includes the Internet.

With all the talk in Washington about censoring or somehow controlling the Internet's content, one wonders if one day we will have an equivalent of Breen's Code, one of the few successful attempts to force Hollywood to produce 'socially acceptable' entertainment. Demands for such codes are growing, as more people become fed up with rap and gangsta rap music, ultra-violent video games, the use of sex to sell everything, and programs ridiculing traditional social and moral values.

As our world becomes smaller, we must deal with people who are not like us. To do this to everyone's benefit, we need to understand other people's worldviews, religions, histories, cultures, role models, and so on. As Islam is the fastest growing religion in America today, we offer an Islamic perspective on several core Christian beliefs.

Such technological progress has given us increased opportunities for arm-chair travelling. No longer do we have to spend years travelling, as did Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo. We can simply turn on the Travel Channel or the Internet and find whatever we want. But many people are actually travelling, whether as migrants or refugees, with the intention of settling somewhere else. As pointed out in our book review, such a phenomenon simultaneously represents a cultural homogenization and a cultural heterogenization.

Technological developments also have proliferated in science. Humanity has landed on the moon, sent unmanned probes to study other planets and asteroids, and continues to add to our knowledge of our own planet and its inhabitants. This has all been accomplished in the name of objective and value-free science.

But, as one of our authors reminds us, science is as not as 'objective' as it seems, for scientists are human. For example, when asked to explain why he had not considered the possibility that God could use evolution to create diverse life forms, Darwin replied that he had problems reconciling suffering with a merciful God. And so we learned that the scientists are subject to human weaknesses, just like the rest of us. This article explains what the scientific process is, how it works, and how it can be applied to religious beliefs.

Also included are three articles for the spiritual edification of our readers.

The winner of our writing contest will be announced in the next issue.

We hope that you enjoy this issue and, as always, look forward to your comments.
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