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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Tilley

The gods vs science. Technology vs miracles.

Chapter 1

You can’t get rid of the “bad” parts of technology

and retain only the “good” parts.

The Unabomber

With every new ability and bit of knowledge came new possibilities. These possibilities became actualities and they changed our lives. As human beings learned to make rope, we were able to control our surroundings. When we learned to make tents we were able to hold back the weather. As we learned to plant gardens and domesticate animals, we learned to control our landscape. No longer dependent on nature and the seasons to provide, we were able to stop roaming and foraging. We built cities, mapped the stars, and studied ourselves and it was good, but we didn’t stop there.

As we congregated we learned to read and write. This opened up communication, education, and our ability to record history and events. This was great, but with each new technological advancement, we lost a bit of our connection to the spiritual world. We lost the spiritual dependence we once had.

When we built tents, we no longer feared the elements therefore, we didn’t have to pray for protection. When we learned to plant fields and domesticate animals, we were no longer bound to nature for food, we made our own. When we began to read and write our history, we were able to think critically about our lives, therefore we were no longer bound to the stories of the shamans and myths of our village. We could finally look at events in our world and from our past with the clarity of the present. We no longer needed the gods to make sense of the world. We were finally coming of age and thinking for ourselves. Again, this was also good, but it came at a cost.

With these advancements, prayer and our interest in the spiritual world became less and less important. As we grew in knowledge, science began to answer many of the mysteries that the existence of the gods had previously answered. Technology replaced the gods and science removed the mysteries. Rather than embrace the new knowledge, religious people began to fear progress. Early Christian and Jewish writings reflected this fear in ancient writings like the Book of Enoch.

In this ancient Jewish text, the story of mankind is rewritten with the advantage of a spiritual backdrop. In the mythology surrounding the story, the reader finds out that mankind had not fallen alone, but rather was encouraged by Satan and a whole brood of fallen angels. These angels are named and one of their many sins was teaching mankind different forms of technology. The sin was the equivalent to putting a five year old behind the wheel of an SUV. These fallen angels gave mankind advanced knowledge they were not yet ready to possess and they were punished for that mistake.

We are told the fallen angel, Azazel, taught men how to work metals in order to create weapons and shields. Baraqijal taught us astrology. Sariel explained the course of the moon, Tamiel taught women how to use plants to induce a chemical abortion, and Gadreel instructed men in the art of reading and writing and “thereby many sinned from eternity to eternity and until this day.” These angels gave humanity all kinds of “gifts,” which allowed them to transgress the natural order. The problem was made even worse when these very same angels eventually fell in love with the daughters of men.

According to the text, these unnatural relationships produced a race of giants called the Nephilim which were bloodthirsty and wretched. It is also here that we find out the reason for Noah’s flood; to destroy the Nephilim. Of course, biblical scholars debate the details, but there is no doubt this book was taught that technology was a major cause in mankind’s rejection of their creator.

Of course, whether or not you accept the historicity of the Book of Enoch really doesn’t matter. The point is that many believed, taught, and still believe that it is human advancement itself which is our downfall. But, I would argue, rather than destroy religion, technology was simply appropriated and misapplied. I believe we reasoned together that if we could manipulate the soil and grow fields and manipulate the animals and force them to serve us for food and clothing, why not the spiritual world? Technology itself became our very own tower of Babel.

In the end, I do not believe that technology or science is evil, it is just the human heart doing what it does best; selfishly serving itself. The use of ritual to manipulate God was a misapplication of prayer that came from our ability to manipulate the world. This is where we see the beginning of idolatry in the form of magic and ritual. We began to convince ourselves that we could control God like we controlled the world around us.

Rituals and magic are mankind’s attempt at manipulating God. We came to learn that the soil is no great mystery, so we use it. Plant a seed, water it, give it sunlight, and the seed grows into a plant. Pretty simple, so why can’t we do the same to God?

Do you agree/disagree?

Is technology the real problem?

Did we really lose touch with God because we learned to live without him?

What questions do you have?

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