I heard about the Pope’s speech over the weekend (on Palm Sunday). He, of course, is right on when he says that we should not believe that technology will save us! When you think about it, what has technology really gained us? Let’s put it in terms we can all understand: Human terms. First and foremost, technology has allowed us to become better at killing our fellow man. More people were killed in wars in the 20th Century than in all the previous centuries combined! Secondly, technology has allowed more people to become filthy rich than ever before. Having wealth is not wrong or bad per se, but having money for money’s sake is greed pure and simple. Thirdly, and this is perhaps the one thing that will do us all in – is that technology has allowed us to remove and use resources from this planet faster than ever before. More oil and other resources have been consumed in the past 100 years than in the previous 5,500 years of civilization!
Face it folks, technology is NOT the answer. There is, also, another way to look at this. Technology has allowed Western Civilization to dominate the world for many years. Darwin came along with his theory about evolution and specifically “survival of the fittest” and this was seen by many as the rationale for Imperialism in the 19th and on into the 20th Century. Technology advances have kept pace and allowed the west to continue to dominate into the 21st Century. The question is whether that domination will continue now that resources are being used up and other nations possess the technology to dominate as well?
I’m reading an interesting book by Hal Lindsey called There’s A New World Coming where he makes the assertion that folks didn’t study or even try to understand the Book of Revelation in The Bible up until the latter part of the 19th Century. It was assumed, apparently, that the book was incomprehensible and therefore beyond human understanding. So, it seems that technology brought about a rise in understanding of at least one book in The Bible. Interestingly, I would link the ability to comprehend these difficult parts of The Bible more with the advent of the printing press, and mass distribution of The Bible than anything else. Once you get the Word of God into enough hands, it won’t be long before you have a discussion on even the most difficult parts!
So, how do you think technology really impacted readers of the Book of Revelation? My personal belief is that most of the symbols and metaphors in Revelation were so far beyond what humans could comprehend that they simply read it and it made no sense to them. With technology, suddenly, there are machines and inventions that start to make things in Revelation “appear” to make sense. We must be careful here, because the things of God are far beyond our understanding – even in our so-called “advanced” technological state. But, things “started” to make sense. Humans started to have a “frame of reference” for understanding things in The Bible. Even in the Book of Genesis, there were things so incomprehensible as to have been complete mystery up until the advent of technology. A good example here is when Lot’s wife became a “Pillar of Salt” because she turned to watch the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Modern science would lead us to conclude that she turned and witnessed a nuclear blast or something similar. Thus, with the ability to split the atom and harness unbelievable amounts of energy, we finally have a glimpse into just how God created this universe and all that we can see and perceive.
But God, by definition, is a “Non-dimensional” being, not constrained by the notions of space-time as we are. That is our greatest failing is a tendency to try to speak about God and describe the things of God in human terms. As I was saying, we have somewhat of a frame of reference now to start to understand what God has presented to us in Revelation (and other books of The Bible such as Daniel, Ezekiel and as I said before, even Genesis). We must be very careful in our analysis so that we never try to put God into a box. There was a time when people sat around discussing whether God could create a rock so big that He could not lift it. This is mental masturbation in my opinion, not worth the paper it’s written on. Technology, similarly, does not hold out the hope for mankind. Since sin entered the world, the bottom line became that men would use whatever they could however they could to Lord over one another and try to make themselves better than their neighbors. Somehow, that just has never worked – and it never will. The only solution is to know God, and love God and to simply go about your daily life trying to serve Him and be happy with what you have.
Solomon knew this. Many in our society have found similarly that seeking to find fame and fortune only results in “A chasing after the wind.” All of that is “vanity” as Solomon said (see the Book of Ecclesiastes). But, we cannot rule out the possibility that God in His infinite wisdom has seen fit to use technology for His purposes. We have seen that with the rise of technology and the emergence from Medieval Christianity, that folks were spurred to Antisemitism, and a turning against Jews on an international scale never before witnessed in history. I believe that is The Hand of God moving in human society to bring about things as He would have them. The rise of Antisemitism led directly to the first Zionist Congresses and ultimately to the re-establishment of the State of Israel. Thus, God is busy bringing about events leading to the end of all things (as we know them) while we are here using our technology to kill and dominate one another. Now that is something to think about!