For all of modernity’s immense progress in the circumstance of the species and the staggering exponential growth and application of knowledge, some things can’t be changed.
Human nature, the core of our being is driven with as many different emotions, motivations, and competing personalities as there are people, and those attributes are as determinative now as they were at the dawn of human history.
Reading about the great empires of antiquity reveal rulers, dictators and kings vexed with the same military, diplomatic and cultural conundrums leaders face today – just in a low tech version. Change up the landscape and the technology, and the political intrigues of Julius Caesar read like the front page dramas of our own time.
It’s not just politics or the culture either. From King Solomon forward, we can read about the accumulation of incredible wealth by both empires and individuals throughout history, and the attendant problems of inflation, deflation, production, distribution, incomes and currency – not to mention greed and corruption – all due to the unrelenting, inescapable laws of economics that can’t be outwitted, ignored or circumvented regardless of the era.
And God. The human argument about the existence of God – or gods – rolls through all of recorded history too, and is no less, or more controversial than it ever was.
What brings all this to mind is mega-bestselling novelist Dan Brown, who is out and about this month promoting his latest novel, Origin.
Mr. Brown, has sold over 200 million books worldwide, and several, The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and Inferno were turned into movies. His books feature an Indiana Jones style professor, Robert Langdon, as he rockets across exotic locations, deciphering ancient clues and escaping (with his comely assistant) time and again from the sinister grip of the Illuminati, the Catholic Church, and other dark forces.
Origin has Professor Langdon following mysterious leads in Spain, where a reclusive billionaire “futurist” has announced that he has discovered information that will change the world, forever. Numerous interviews have quoted Mr. Brown saying that this new novel was inspired by the question, “Will God survive science?”
I’ve not read his new book, but my guess is that he thinks not.
Reuters New Service quotes Mr. Brown as stating that “Humanity no longer needs God but may with the help of artificial intelligence develop a new form of collective consciousness [emphasis mine] that fulfills the role of religion.”
Here Mr. Brown fits in well with many burial announcements over several thousand years that have celebrated the impending demise of Christianity specifically. “Are we naive today to believe that the gods of the present will survive and be here in a hundred years,” he asked?
The concept of the divine, he predicted, would become a wholly different perception in the future because of technological change and the development of artificial intelligence which would fundamentally alter the way humanity saw the spiritual realm.
“We will start to find our spiritual experiences through our interconnections with each other,” Mr. Brown allowed, while also stating that a “form of global consciousness” will become a new “divine” for the world.
Finally lowering the intellectual boom, he said, “Our need for that exterior god that sits up there and judges us…will diminish and eventually disappear.”
Well, I guess that settles that.
The last fifty years or so have seen an avalanche of such books and authors, Deepak Chopra comes to mind, that claim to debunk faith – Christians usually – and extol the utopian future where supremely sophisticated, intensely analytic and carefully shaped minds will step into some higher gear of conciseness, or have their heads fitted with a USB port.
The general theme is that finally man and technology have reached the place where they can replace that which was before – meaning God – even though that which was before can never be accurately described. They are really saying that now science is all that there is and all that we need.
And in the era of extreme intolerance concerning anything outside of a narrow band of approved group-think, if you happen to be a skeptic in any sense towards anything purported to be associated with science, you’re automatically a bigoted extremist and all-round lout – a denier.
Personally I’ve never had a dog in the fight in the “science vs God” debate. I’ve been an avid fan of science since I was a kid. I am mechanically inclined, and have followed as best a layman can, a variety of scientific disciplines for decades.
But, I’ve never had to park my understanding of science at the curb to study the Bible, or attend a worship service, or believe in the Creator God and His redemptive plan for mankind. They complement, not complicate each other.
Science doesn’t nullify genuine faith, any more than faith invalidates genuine science. You can look at the world scientifically, logically, rationally and mathematically and come around the corner to meet God waiting for you.
And it is a position that the scientific community, after a season of aggressive anti-faith (especially Christian) push back, is edging towards ever so carefully, and quietly.
First, with every passing discovery the evidence of a grand design it hard to escape. The observable universe is not random – it is exquisitely balanced with a finely tuned operating system. It exists in a sympathy of motion where a fraction of a degree, or fractionally more or less energy would not allow its existence at all. It had, the consensus now suggests, a single beginning, and in that one event every atom was created and flung into the new beginning, and exist now – the estimates vary widely, and change with each discovery – in a 170 billion galaxies stretching out 13.8 billion light-years, containing trillions upon trillions of stars.
In inner space, each passing year brings more startling evidence from molecular biology; internal life like the external universe is extraordinarily complex, precise. The DNA tightly wrapped in each cell contains all of the genetic instructions used by the body for every phase of development and functioning. Only a pinprick of DNA contains coded instructions whose volume stagger the imagination and dwarf any information storage man has yet devised. How can all the information to assemble a unique life form, from a flower to a baby, be so extraordinarily designed?
I’m a believer in binary logic – things are or they’re not. I can believe in science that demands evidence to support conclusions, while also believing that behind the science is the Creator of all science. No app required.