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II. The challenges we face - Deeper roots of the current crisis

18. How have we come to this situation? What are the root causes of the threats we are facing today? For many, the answer seems obvious: The reason is to be sought in the immense range of means and possibilities put into the hands of human beings by science and technology. The fundamental changes which have occurred both in the ordering of societies and in the relationship to the natural world have their cause in the dramatic expansion of the scope of human action. Modern means of production are the basis for today's economy. They provide possibilities of exploitation which never existed before. Technology has changed the nature of war and has equipped dictatorial regimes with new means of control and repression. Abuse of technology is responsible for the increasing exploitation and, if not brought under control, destruction of the environment. Technology has brought many blessings, but at the same time, instead of serving humanity it has developed into a threat to its future. It has created entire systems in which even small human errors can be disastrous.

19. The real causes, however, are to be sought in the very heart of humankind, in human attitudes and mentalities. There is the illusion that human beings are capable of shaping the world; the self-aggrandizement, which leads to an overestimation of our human role with respect to the whole of life; an ideology of constant growth without reference to ethical values is at the root of economic systems both in the West and in the East; the conviction that the created world has been put into our hands for exploitation rather than for care and cultivation; the blind confidence that new discoveries will solve problems as they arise and the subsequent neglect of the risks which have been brought about by our own actions.

20. There is a clear need for the resources of science and technology as we face the future. But if we are to serve the causes of justice, peace and the preservation of the environment, the expectations they have generated must be radically re-evaluated. As Christians, we cannot uncritically advocate an ideology of human progress which of itself does not take adequate account of the whole person. We can, therefore, not share in the blind confidence in human achievement. We also resist with equal emphasis the growing tendency towards feelings of powerlessness, resignation or despair. In our understanding, Christian hope is a movement of resistance against fatalism. We believe that it is through conversion to Christ that we shall discover the full meaning of human life.


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