Last evening I was listening to a commentary discussing the amount of data being collected on each individual every day, and how that data can and will be used by artificial intelligence programs to impact many aspects of our lives. They discussed the possible problem of it being used in “big brother” fashion to control us, but also said that there would be so many benefits that “we would be a stupid society if we didn’t get these benefits”. It sounded very much like a repeat of Genesis 11:4 where the people said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves…”. I am not anti-science, but unless our research is guided by wisdom of the One who is the source of all knowledge, we find ourselves playing God as did those people at the Tower of Babel. What is true progress? Is it gathering and using every bit of data, trying every technique, looking down every avenue of investigation? Or is it growing in the knowledge of the One who created us? Apart from that there is no true progress.
There was a study published a while back in one of the scientific journals dealing with humans natural aversion to snakes. It reported that there is something built into the complexities of the eye and the brain that quickly detects the presence of a snake and displays fear. This was shown to be true even in certain laboratory raised monkeys that had never seen a snake before. The study went into a long evolutionary explanation as to why this might be and how in developed. There really is another explanation. “The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this (caused the fall of mankind), … I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;…”(Genesis 3:14-15) But that really isn’t scientifically satisfying. There must be a natural explanation without having to say that God did it. There must be a way of keeping man at the center of all explanations without resorting to faith in a God we can’t prove exists. Many would like it that way, but then the desire to write God out of life is really the heart of all our problems.
The European Space Agency has just accomplished a great feat. They landed a probe on a comet. It’s an effort that cost $10 billion dollars, thousands of man hours, and many years to accomplish. The probe is sending back data they hope will give more clues to the origins of the universe. They are to be lauded for this amazing accomplishment. I am, by no means, anti-science, but these great efforts always raise questions in my mind. At the same time as we witness these great accomplishments, we are in an age when many western nations, ours included, are working to remove God from secular life. Yet Paul, speaking about the reason God created mankind says, “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”(Acts 17:27) This says that mankind’s central purpose is to grow in understanding God and our relationship to Him. We do have many theological scholars today, but I wonder what we would really learn if nations would humble themselves and commitment to such an effort to understand our Lord? We would gain far more data for the good of mankind than any comet probe can gather.
A new study was published in one of the scientific journals on humans natural aversion to snakes. It reported that there is something built into the complexities of the eye and the brain that quickly detects the presence of a snake and displays fear. This was shown to be true even in certain laboratory raised monkeys that had never seen a snake before. The study went into a long evolutionary explanation as to why this might be and how in developed. There really is another explanation. “The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this (caused the fall of mankind), … I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;…”(Genesis 3:14-15) But that really isn’t scientifically satisfying. There must be a natural explanation that we can learn without just saying that God did it. There must be a way of keeping man at the center of all explanations without resorting to faith in a God we can’t prove exists. We would like it that way, but then our desire to write God out of life is really the heart of all our problems.
Scientist and engineers have been working for some time to develop artificial intelligence. I’m afraid I get a bit cynical with this. I know it is an important part of automation. It is just that the human brain is such a marvelous God-created gift to man that it will never be matched. We only use a small portion of it as it is. But above all, intelligence is not the issue. What we need is wisdom. It is only wisdom that gives the proper direction to use the intelligence we have. Further, Scripture teaches us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Unfortunately, in our stubbornness, we reject that source. It is God who created us, and has determined the best way for us to live. In so many way we have pushed Him aside in favor of our own human reason. Except for a lot of technological advances, we really can’t say that we have progressed in ways that are really important for the total good of mankind. It is time we put in as much effort seeking the source of all true wisdom as we do in our scientific endeavors.
The big news in science this past week is the announcement of discovery of the Higgs Boson, the so called God Particle. This is a subatomic particle predicted years ago mathematically, and now observed by the super collider laboratory in Switzerland. This particle is supposed to explain the origin of mass in the universe. Many great minds have been engaged in this search for years. I am not anti-science, nor do I want to disparage this pursuit of understanding, but there is a far greater understanding gained from some simple words in the first chapter of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It may be satisfying to have a physical explanation for things that happen, but that really draws us no closer to the One who is the source of all things. We don’t need to explain the miracles of Jesus as some try to do. It is far better to understand that He is extending His hand to us in love, and opening for us a Kingdom beyond our comprehension. Science can’t explain the cross, but it is there that we find life.
In a conversation with my grandson last week he was telling me about one of his science classes. The instructor was saying that because of the great advances in medicine and technology, he predicted that, by the end of the century, people would be living to 200 years and beyond. This opened up a great discussion. My remark was that this would be a horrible prospect. I can’t conceive of the terrible conditions this would impose, and the absolute dictatorship that would come about to manage such a society. This is the stuff horror films are made of. My main point was that, in spite of all our scientific advances, man’s heart has not changed in 7000 years. A couple thousand years ago Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”(17:9) Jesus followed this saying that “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:19) Unless the heart is changed, all of the technological progress can only lead to destruction. And only Jesus can change the heart.