WeeklyTech #172

Why the Christian ethic isn’t simply about rules

Often when Christians (and even non-Christians) speak about biblical ethics, we tend to focus on the rules that Scripture gives us. For example, we think of the Ten Commandments in which the second half begins with “you shall not _______.” Whether it’s about murder, adultery, stealing, bearing false witness, or covetousness, we tend to relegate the Christian ethic to a set of moral rules by which we are to live. This type of ethical system is known as deontology, where ethics is merely a set of rules, duties, or obligations. 

Portraying the Christian ethic in this manner has some merit since God clearly communicates certain commands and rules to his people through Scripture. But one major difficulty with a pure deontological approach is that Christian ethics is accused of failing to address many of the modern ethical dilemmas we face today. The rise of digital technologies, biomedical advancements, and other gifts that the Lord has given his people should be used to love God and love our neighbors (Matt 22:37-39), but they can pose problems for some versions of deontology. How can the Christian ethic deal with contemporary issues for which there aren’t any rules?

The Rundown

TikTok Claims It’s Limiting Teen Screen Time. Teens Say It Isn’t. by Sapna Maheshwari | The New York Times

At the end of 2021, Ruby McMahon and some of her high school classmates decided to go “TikTok sober.” Ms. McMahon had gotten hooked on TikTok during the Covid-19 pandemic and regularly spent five hours a day on the app.

C.S. Lewis on the Specter of Totalitarianism by Micah Watson | Acton Institute

We’re less familiar with Lewis the political thinker. But in the almost 60 years since he passed away, on November 22, 1963, we’ve come to learn more and more about Lewis’ significant interests in, and concerns about, politics.

The Moral Case Against Equity Language by George Packer | The Atlantic

The sierra club’s Equity Language Guide discourages using the words standAmericansblind, and crazy. The first two fail at inclusion, because not everyone can stand and not everyone living in this country is a citizen.

Noam Chomsky: The False Promise of ChatGPT by Noam Chomsky, Ian Roberts and Jeffrey Watumull | The New York Times

OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Sydney are marvels of machine learning. Roughly speaking, they take huge amounts of data, search for patterns in it and become increasingly proficient at generating statistically probable outputs — such as seemingly humanlike language and thought. 

Why the Christian ethic isn’t simply about rules by Sareen Habeshian | Axios

Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed two bills into law aimed at limiting when and where anyone younger than 18 years old can interact online, and to stop companies from luring minors to certain websites.