Technocriticism and Religion: Christianity, Ecology and Techno-Scientific Progress in the Second Half of the 20th Century
The latter half of the 20th century marked a period of disillusionment regarding the liberating potential of techno-scientific progress. The ecological crisis, relentless exploitation of Earth’s resources, and rapid breakdown of conventional social structures caused by the proliferation of new industries and technologies provided fertile ground for the emergence of a counterculture that was increasingly skeptical of modernity. Among the vocal critics challenging the dominance of technology in contemporary society were non-conformist philosophers, intellectuals, and scientists driven by Christian faith. The radical reinterpretation of the history of technology proposed by Christian technocritics, particularly over the past century, leads to a pessimistic appraisal of our civilization's state. Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (physicist and philosopher), Jacques Ellul (sociologist and theologian), Ivan Illich (priest and activist), and Ernst Friedrich Schumacher (economist) represent four distinct perspectives on Christian contributions to understanding the ecological crisis, industrialization, technological alienation, and the responsibility for these issues. While all four figures drew upon scholarship in the history of science and technology to substantiate their arguments, their work diverges from the prevailing portrayal of the relationship between science, technology, and religion in existing literature, serving as a bridge between the history of technology and other disciplines like political ecology.
Received 25 October 2023. Revised 18 December 2023. Accepted 19 December 2024. Published online 11 January 2024
Marcin KrasnodębskiPolish Academy of Sciences, Institute for the History of Science