Even though the 3D printing industry is only in its infancy, its already showing potential to make emergency housing cheaper and to make gun control well nigh impossible. Its one of those technologies that comes along every now and again that has truly disruptive potential. Not just technologically, but also socially.
And therefore, religiously.
Remember that one of the seven dimensions of religion is the material dimention. If manufacturing is made as personal as publishing, think of the implications for art, music, architecture and artifact customization. Think also of the ethical dimension. If you think copyright is threatened by music and movie digitization, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Then of course there’s the von Neuman possibilities: 3D printing 3D printers printing 3D printers. Can it be used to help the poor? Or will it undermine minority cultures even further? Or could it do both simultaneously? What will it mean for western individualism and consumerism? Will it undermine it or further fuel it?
I’m not even sure I have all the right questions yet.
I see opportunities, but also threats. I see potential for creative Christians to explore new territories, but I also see potential for western Christianity to become even more marginalised if it does not rise to the challenge of the coming technological and cultural revolutions.