Every generation seems to think the prominent events of their particular historical context signals the end of the world.
There are matrices of being which are beyond known human experience, and maybe beyond human capacity, but the hope I have in the face of the demands placed on the human psyche by the exponential onslaught of technology is this: that there are no matrices of being outside of God’s domain of competence. Or at least by extension, everything that human hands can construct comes from capacities that were placed in them by God. Perhaps that sounds fatalistic, that no matter what we do, we are still tethered to how we were originally created, that no matter what kinds of existence humans contrive, we are always on God’s leash, tied back to the tree of our original creation. Questions: the scary possibility is that of not being tethered to our roots at all; the ability to iterate our way out from under being human, which in my opinion sounds like a self-created hell, like an idea conceived, that, if allowed to grow up in alignment with it’s constructs, becomes a kind of hell.
Backing up a little, to call the idea of being inextricably in the bounds of God’s creation ‘fatalistic’, seems flawed, because it seems loaded with a connotation of limitation, as if being under God’s purview is somehow a more limiting experience than being ‘totally free’, whatever that could possibly mean. Roughly, I think that God banned people from the garden after they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:22) in order to save them from becoming something like demonic beings. It’s something like this; eternity consummates your personal trajectory. Basically, it’s that if you consummate with eternity, in your current state of being, if you become married to your current state follow it through to it’s end, it might not be heavenly. Therefore, it is not evident to me that it is beneficial to escape parameters that seem like limitations, even death. Let’s make the concept of consummating your current state even less abstract: if you took a snapshot of your life today, and that became fixed such that you would live it eternally, would you be OK with it? Would that be a heavenly experience or a hellish one? Of course, that poses a question of trajectory, because it seems to me that eternity would amplify that perpetual experience by one of two mechanisms:
1.) Eternity is experienced like linear time, just without an end point, so that the patterns of your life are allowed to propagate without any chronological cap, or, 2.) Eternity is a timeless experience where the full expression of what anything could become is felt all at once, which, parenthetically, I must wonder how you can experience it ‘all’, because the word ‘all’ connotes a finite amount of something, and if there is an infinite amount of time for your state of being to become what it could be, how could you have all of it, and yet, if eternity was outside of time, you would somehow experience infinity. (As an aside, I wonder if the experience will be spatial rather than historical. What I mean is that, in our current state, everything is contextualized like, ‘that happened yesterday’, or ‘that happened two years ago.’ I wonder if, instead, experiences will be contextualized spatially, like rooms in your house rather than days on your calendar.)
Either way, I suppose that the only thing limiting the expression of the idea is the DNA, so to speak, of the idea. What I mean is that the seed of the idea determines the tree that it becomes.
The closer we get to more immersive virtual experiences, the more we will have the capacity to prototype the seeds of our thoughts into the trees of what they could become. One of the entrepreneurs I follow on social media, Gary Vaynerchuk, made a comment to the effect of, “Technology isn’t changing us, it’s exposing us.” He once commented that couple that couple on a date playing on their phones would have, thirty years ago, just sat across from each other in silence. I digress.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
Before the internet, it took more effort to get a video or picture of a woman to look at with lust. Before home video technology, and more so before print materials, I suspect that it took even more effort and a lot more boldness to seek out a flesh and blood prostitute. Yeah, there might have been thoughts and imagination, but you could feel good about your lack of acting upon those thoughts. Of course, Jesus over-turned that false sense of moral superiority with the above teaching. And today, there is no hiding. If you are connected, it’s hard to take refuge in a lack of opportunity as you once could. I am not saying that people should experience these sins, and more so, in ways that are increasingly immersive, but the fact that they do experience them presents an opportunity, I hope, that the lucid experience their potential darkness will give them a greater craving, and a greater sense of their need for the light.
In closing, a thought:
I believe that the capacities which technology has to offer raise the bar for faith because the fullest expression of human thoughts, feelings, strengths, weaknesses, and temptations is always at hand. A false heaven or a self-created hell will be at hand. Maybe what it means to be human will blur. Maybe an effective church will be one that helps people become human again.