John the Beloved concluded his first Epistle with the following: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (5: 21). Why does John say this, even though his addressees have been freed from worshiping idols? The reader of the Epistle understands that there were heresies, some of which claimed that Christ did not have a real body, and therefore was not incarnate; as if the general and permanent heresy is when the believer does not feel that the truth of Christ is amongst us and within us.

Is Christ with us and within us if we succumb to that which deprives us of our freedom in Christ and of always looking up to Him? There is no doubt that worshiping money, worshiping glory and worshiping the body are some of the permanent idols that enchant every generation and mislead people. However, I am talking now about other things.

Among others, worshiping of science and technology constitutes a new religion. In fact, science makes us feel that we are breaking into the unknown; and every time we do so, we feel that we no longer fear it and that we are more capable of understanding reality; although we often worry about that which we did not expect. Yet knowledge, no matter how wide it can get, does not alleviate the impact of neurosis nor inner anxiety, or family problems, or the isolation we feel in the church where things are not working out as we expected when we sought its revival. People are the same, even if they were called spiritual persons. This is often nothing but a name; yet some of them rejoice in money and fake glory.

We suffer isolation in a society where authoritarianism and lies prevail, as if people cannot believe that honesty brings power and profits, but with patience.

We can never rid ourselves of the fear of the future or the fear for our health which is threatened with heart disease, cancer, hypertension and AIDS. Rejoicing in palaces, beautiful houses, luxurious furniture, travelling, women (and women rejoicing in men); none of this will prevent sickness or death from occurring. Fear will always remain regardless of all the sophistication and luxury. But people amuse themselves and get all dressed up so as to forget their concerns and find their way to settlement temporarily, even though there is no settlement.

I am not calling on people to abandon education but to be aware that science is relative in the wholeness of life, for the ignorant and the scientist are equal before death and sickness. And when our faith is weak, we tend to make science an alternative. Nothing is dangerous in itself. Knowledge is not a danger. Yet the danger lies whenever this knowledge replaces the simple values that make up the existence: love in all forms of giving, human sharing, refraining from indecency, justice, forgiveness and every other eternal matter revealed to us by the Bible.

As for technology, it is good in itself since it allows us to produce more, shorten the distances, stay up to date with all what is new in the world, get our daily chores done easily and reduce the difficulties of life in general. Yet technology comes with a price. Technology can cost us our nerves and our spiritual lives if we were not very cautious and aware. This does not mean that we are to return to the old civilizations, manual industries and the simple life style. This is a getaway dream that will not ever be realized and that vanquishes weak peoples. Big nations impose this on you since they barter machines for the product of your agriculture.

And if you are to contribute to technology, keep away from what is immoral, especially in the field of genetic engineering which is an attempt to manipulate genes and fetuses. This science produces in vitro babies and gets rid of the unwanted fetuses by throwing them away or burning them. We are not slaves of technology.

What matters is to be free from that which is put into your hands, as you were free from the money you accept and the authority given to you. Things have no power over you. It is you that give them value and worship them as idols. Slavery and freedom lay both inside of you.

Translated by Amani Haddad

Original Text: “الأصنام” – Raiati no 38. 22.09.1996