Monday, August 04, 2003

Edifier du Jour-Psalm 97:1-7
1 The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad. 2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. 3 Fire goes before Him And burns up His adversaries round about. 4 His lightnings lit up the world; The earth saw and trembled. 5 The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. 6 The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples have seen His glory. 7 Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you gods.
Two pieces brought this passage to mind; the first was Waileia's mention of Tom Friedman's Google piece from June. It's provocatively titled "Is Google God?" People tend to give divine attributes to things that are significantly more knowledgeable or powerful than themselves. There's probably a better word for it, but if giving non-humans human characteristics is call anthropomorphic, theomorphic sound about right for giving non-divine but potent stuff god-like status; I thought was coining that out of thin air, but someone beat me to it. It's a theological twist to the old Arthur C. Clark concept that really high-tech stuff looks like magic to a non-techie; it can also look like a miracle. However, such man-made stuff only has a partial knowledge of the universe. Even if we could have Google tapped into our brain directly, we'd only scratch the surface of what God knows. Google is knowledgeable but nowhere near omniscient. The other piece that gave me pause on this report on the World Transhumanist Association1 meeting at Yale earlier this summer. Here was part of an evocative opening paragraph
International academics and activists, they met to lay the groundwork for a society that would admit as citizens and companions intelligent robots, cyborgs made from a free mixing of human and machine parts, and fully organic, genetically engineered people who aren't necessarily human at all. A good many of these 160 thinkers aspire to immortality and omniscience through uploading human consciousness into ever evolving machines.
This was a secular crowd trying to achieve what only God can give. While some of the modest modifications on the near horizon, like artificial eye implants, don't challenge our definition of human, others do. If people are trying to upload their memories onto a computer (or a young, healthy clone of themselves) in order to achieve immortality, they are heading towards a living hell. Not only are they trying to claim immortality and achieve omniscience, but they are doing so while keeping God out of the loop. Striving in that direction is a lonely endeavor, for living forever in a fallen world is a low-grade hell. That is one of the reasons God blocked the way to the Tree of Life, for an immortal and sinful man is doomed to be apart from God forever. Those who try to cheat death will ultimately fail, but even when they succeed, the success may be not what they wished for. People have a God-spot in their souls. Some people substitute sex, others the occult, yet others with belief in extraterrestrials; the hard-core Transhumanists are substituting technology as their god, one which will lead them to a day of greater knowledge and indefinite lifespans. While some of the technology that they are coming up with will prove useful, they have went and essentially theomorphized technology and science. I look at the last verse in the passage above-"Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols..." ; too many people today are serving false gods of various shapes and sizes, whether it be sexual freedom or technology or money or any number of other down-scale deities. They are looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places. 1 Link via Instapundit

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