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  1. Politics
12 May 2009

Technology, the Latter-day way

The Mormon community can rightfully boast a long association with technological advancement, from th

By Malcolm Adcock

Whether you’re a technophobe or a technophile, it’s hard to argue against the merits of technological advances; although our heads may well be spinning at their pace.

Designer and architect R Buckminster Fuller’s remark that “humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons” may motivate some to want to slow down the ride. But humankind’s drive for knowledge is ultimately inspiration-driven, from a loving Creator to His children.

Many people of faith would accept Freeman Dyson’s philosophy that “technology is a gift of God”. 

The application of know-how can, of course, be used for good or evil. But we rejoice in the God-given attribute for us to progress.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known as ‘Mormons’ or Latter-day Saints) see this as a vital part of an eternal journey by which we glorify God.

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Along with people of all faiths, Latter-day Saints have made their mark in science and technology.

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Most Brits have never heard of Philo Taylor Farnsworth (you’d be forgiven for that). The invention of the first electronic TV is attributed to this Mormon farm boy from Idaho (although many other, more feted scientists worked on other aspects of television). As a youngster, he was captivated by electricity and the electron and talked his science teacher, Justin Tolman, into giving him special lessons. Eventually Philo had his eureka moment.

Harvey Fletcher, a prominent physicist and a devout Mormon, is regarded as the father of stereo sound – he was the first to demonstrate stereophonic transmission and stereophonic recording. And he did a lot to pioneer hearing aids too.

Technology is a great servant for the well-balanced individual. The Internet has helped bring about what we now call the democratisation of knowledge and that knowledge has mushroomed when it comes to us discovering our personal heritage.

I attended a Family History day in Cambridge the other week, in one of our Latter-day Saint churches. Hundreds of members of the public turned up to see Nick Barratt (from the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? TV series). We were enthralled by his talk.

Our church is happy to facilitate people tracing their roots; it’s a deep human need to know where we came from and who we are. Family history is part of all that and the Mormons’ FamilySearch website is now the largest genealogy organisation in the world.

Over one billion names can be found within the cyber walls of the www.familysearch.org database.

Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. Users freely access resources and services online or through over 4,500 family history centres in 70 countries.

We believe that families are meant to be central to our lives and that family relationships are intended to continue beyond this life. Because interest in family history is not limited by culture, ethnicity, or religious faith, we welcome all who wish to discover more about their family and their heritage.

Technology’s rapid development doesn’t need to pass us by at break-neck speed. In all its forms, technology can inform and enrich our communities in real, tangible ways.

Yes, Mormons embrace technological progress and we want to use the Internet to help families too.

Malcolm Adcock is Assistant Area Director – Europe Public Affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which runs the Family Search website