We live in an age of radical change, challenge, and opportunity.
This hit again as I read through an interesting article, The End of Employees, posted yesterday at The Wall Street Journal. The piece chronicled yet another profoundly challenging economic reality facing those enmeshed in the Corporate/Statist approach to life. The challenge in question centers on the fact that businesses, corporations, and even civil governments are increasingly moving toward outsourcing the “good jobs” that the Corporate/State system has long encouraged us to build our lives around.
Combine the well-documented, long-running flight of businesses and corporations toward outsourcing with the also well-documented though less established use of synthetic, automated means to fill jobs currently (or recently) done by humans, and we should have no trouble seeing that over the next several years and decades, our world is about to change radically, particularly where the realms of business and economics are concerned, which will, in turn, radically impact every other area of life as we know it.
The very definition and meaning of work itself is changing before our eyes. We are, or will soon be, challenged to test and reform our understanding of work as never before…and that’s a good thing.
In this context, cultivating the creative talents and vision that God has given us has never been more important. So important, in fact, that those who neglect the loving command to cultivate and wisely use what God has provided will soon to find themselves suffering significant consequences as a result of their apathy and laziness.
Making matters worse, this already difficult situation presents itself in the context of an Americanized Christianity that has managed to morph such apathy and laziness into “spiritual” virtues. Most who claim the name of Christ in America these days have been led and conditioned to embrace a “why really bother” approach to technology and a “the whole world’s just going to hell anyway” perspective on God’s physical creation in general, leaving these professing Christians particularly vulnerable and, to nobody’s surprise, impotent and ineffective when it comes to actually engaging the culture, much less charting its future course.
The counterfeit gospel at the heart of this Americanized Christianity knows nothing (and doesn’t want to know anything) about taking every thought captive here and now (2 Corinthians 10:5), thereby subjugating every political, technological, artistic and economic thought to the mind of Christ. No, the little gospel masquerading as Christianity in America (and throughout the West) has set its sights much, much lower than that, encouraging its adherents to indulge in pietistic navel-gazing and disengagement from the culture, all in Jesus’ name and all for the sake of being “spiritual”. (Now there’s an approach to spirituality that the Devil must surely enjoy…and often laugh about…)
Thus, the disciples of this little gospel have rejected the everything-touching Christian worldview that inspired the Pilgrims and Puritans who first launched what we now call the United States, trading that life- and culture-resurrecting Gospel in for the little man-centered dead religion that passes for Christianity in most of America and the West these days. After 100+ years of diving deep in this direction, we are now left with a professing Christian subculture dominated by unbiblical views aimed at denying and evading the Gospel-fueled Great Commission call to take every (legal/economic/educational) thought captive to Christ (and thereby every legal/economic/educational action captive to Christ), thus advancing His Kingdom by His grace right here and now at every point that His people intersect with life.
While all of this has been happening, God has been both A) preserving for Himself a people, and B) raising up incredible technologies to benefit those people as they advance His Kingdom.
So it is that the year of our Lord 2017 should be a beautiful thing to contemplate for the Spirit-filled, Gospel-fueled, Kingdom-minded Christian in America (or anywhere else).
Even so, we must be diligent not only in recognizing the great opportunities that are being given to us. We must also be diligent in seizing them, lest we fall into the places of intense dependence, weakness and despair designed by our enemies and enabled by the many practitioners of “little gospel Christianity” roaming the countryside.
God’s gift of technology is on the verge of yielding truly awe-inspiring, culture- and civilization-altering breakthroughs (on the heels of a long string of similar breakthroughs). The radical decentralization of economic, industrial, informational, and political power is on the horizon.
The transformational power of personal computers, the Internet, increasingly amazing medical advances, and other fruits of God’s gift of creativity to His image bearers is about to be combined with and amplified by technologies like 3D printers and complex robotics in ways that will soon (not to be confused with “might soon”) radically alter our lives, homes, families, communities, and cultures.
And we should fear none of it.
To the contrary, we as Christians should be embracing the many great gifts that God is purposefully providing so that we might use them to His glory and to the benefit of His people in accordance with our mission. We should be the tip of the spear when it comes to understanding, appreciating, applying and improving the gifts God gives us through technology.
As we ramp up and into the age of transformation that’s coming our way through some of the specific technologies already mentioned (in conjunction with others not mentioned and many not yet even on our radar), we as Christians would do well to understand and appreciate the significance of our place in time and history.
Here in 2017, we’ve been blessed through technology with many opportunities to better prepare for the profound changes that are right around the corner. We have been given a window through which we can see and in which we can operate in a manner that will, Lord willing and by His grace, allow His people to place themselves in positions of strength and great influence over communities and culture.
As the present culture dominated by Corporate/State-controlled systems unravels and crumbles around us, those who’ve been most thoroughly programmed by (and are therefore most dependent upon and defensive of) the Corporate/State program are going to suffer greatly for their blind devotion to a lie (or many lies, actually). Positioning ourselves to help them and teach them when they are needing to be helped and open to being taught is something that we should be thinking about now.
As more and more jobs become automated, those who’ve been conditioned by the Corporate/State system to view the pursuit of “a good job” as the basis for education and, to a great extent, the meaning of life, will find themselves in the increasingly precarious position of having accepted the assignment of “being a good cog in the Corporate/State machine” in a word where more and more (and eventually nearly all) of those cogs will be literal machines, as opposed to the human biological variety cranked out by the Corporate/State run “education” system.
The ironies and tragedies permeating this scenario are numerous and thick, notable among them being the fact that the very Corporate/State system that encouraged drone/cog/robot-like vocational approaches is now on the verge of filling most (and soon nearly all) of those drone/cog/robot slots with actual robots of one sort or another, leaving many millions of Corporate/State programmed people in something of a nightmarish scenario.
This is what happens when things like education, work, and vocation are defined and pursued apart from and contrary to the Word of God. That’s the lesson (or series of lessons) that we as a people are about to learn the hard way.
The basic factory job will soon be a thing of the past. At least where people are concerned. More than 90% of those jobs can, will, and should be done by machines when the cost and availability of said machines reaches a certain tipping point – a tipping point that is in the process of coming into full bloom even as I type these words.
Large scale manufacturing jobs will soon be overwhelmingly filled by automated workers. The same goes for many service jobs and far more high-end professional jobs than we might imagine from where we sit right now. The sorts of “good jobs” that we have been conditioned to build our lives around by our Corporate/State masters for 100+ years now will mostly be filled by non-people in the not-very-distant-at-all future.
And that’s a good thing, overall.
A painful thing for many in the short (and some in the long) term, to be sure, but a very good thing overall nonetheless.
God is pushing us.
He’s pushing us through His tool of technology to think and do things that we would otherwise prefer not to think or do (out of comfortable ignorance, apathy, and/or laziness).
[For more on this, check out How God’s Gift Of Technology Is Forcing Us To Think And Grow Biblically, From Babel To Pentecost: How The Kingdom Of God Is Built Upon The Ruins Of Enemy Empires, and How The City On A Hill Leads To Cities On The Seas.]
So what do we do to prepare?
Better yet, what do we do to flourish in this scenario?
Put another way: How do we advance the Kingdom of God using the tools He has given us in this time and place in which we’ve been placed?
A first step toward answering this question (and assuaging some of the borderline hysterical fear that some have concerning the future, particularly where technology is concerned), is to note what differentiates – and will always differentiate – image-bearers of God from anything (including any person-like machine) that said image-bearers may create and use as tools of their own.
Image-bearers of God are not to be confused with creations of image-bearers of God.
Image-bearers of God will not and cannot ever be fully replicated by anything that they may create.
While we as people can and will create tools (including increasingly complex and human-like tools) as we go about the business of using the creativity and skill that God has given us for the purpose of exploring and cultivating His creation, and many of those tools will remarkably emulate many of our own most unique abilities and attributes, there are certain core components of our image-bearer nature that are non-transferrable to our synthetic creations.
The spirit within us is non-transferrable.
The breath of life that animates us is non-transferrable.
The Spirit of God literally dwelling within the physical temples of flesh that we call our bodies is non-transferrable.
Only we can be what God has called and equipped us to be. As His purposefully crafted image-bearers, we are unique in all of creation. We have attributes – critical culture- and civilization-defining attributes – that have been purposefully reserved for us and cannot be replicated or transferred to any other created form or agent in all of God’s creation.
This is very important to understand.
While a secular materialist may imagine that all that comprises a person is ultimately physical in cause or nature, and therefore measurable, reproducible and transferrable by scientific means, we as Christians understand that this is not the case at all. We understand that the breath of life that launched humanity into being is not a thing that can be physically measured, recorded or captured in a bottle (or on a hard drive) for use in a non-human machine, no matter how human-like that machine may appear to be.
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So the machines we make now and will make in the future are not the problem. They are not to be feared. They’re only as good or as bad as the motives and instruction from the image-bearers of God using them.
They’re just tools.
And the better the tools, the better, right?
So what do we do about the radical changes coming through the rapid proliferation and use of these tools? What do we do to better understand, appreciate, and prepare for the dramatically different world to come through the use of these ever-improving, increasingly human-like tools?
Having identified the core distinction between people (image-bearers of God) and the tools made by people (not image-bearers of God), we have a great launching point for a great many encouraging and inspiring lines of thought and preparation.
In Preparing For Terminator Part 2 (which I hope to finish Monday evening, Lord willing), we will explore some core attributes unique to image-bearers of God and how we can practically polish them up and cultivate their fruit in a manner that will not only have us not fearing technology and the future, but will instead inspire us to be thankful and excited for the amazing, incredible adventure that God has charted for His people at this remarkable point in His creation of History.
That’s the Big Idea, anyway.
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