In preparing for the CBF “What Does the Future Hold?” forum this Thursday I have been mulling over the responses to the expected arguments of my fellow panelists: a State Greens MP and a Curtin University academic whose speciality is Technological Singularity. Nothing like a little pre-match homework and some intellectual Dencorub.
What strikes me is how religious much of the language is that is utilised by both the Environmentalist movement and Singularity. I went into this gig assuming that I would be the “religious” one, but on reflection, I think there, at least, we are on the same page. Everyone wants to live forever!
Consider the following from Bob Brown’s rather curious 3rd annual Green Oration, which drew bemused media attention for its use of the term “my fellow Earthians”.
The pursuit of eternity is no longer the prerogative of the gods: it is the business of us all, here and now.
Bob’s whole speech was something of an old-fashioned liberal Anglican sermon – replete with 5 points beginning with the letter “E”, including his fifth and final – Eternity.
But he goes on:
Drawing on the best of our character, Earth’s community of people is on the threshold of a brilliant new career in togetherness.
If ever there was a Kumbaya moment it was right there. It seems at odds with the hard-nosed idealist we know of Brown, but remember, on ABC’s QandA Bob reminded the audience of the painful spiritual time he had as he jettisoned Christianity. In speaking about his sexuality he said:
I was talking a lot with Jesus about it, but he didn’t come good.
At one level then, I can understand the Greens “spiritual” mix, given the merging of Green and Gaia themes recently, with many Greens having a Christian subframe underneath their stated beliefs, however what about Technological Singularity? I heard Ray Kurzweil, the father of the term, speaking on the ABC recently. I hear Technological Singularity and I am thinking Terminator 2. What is Ray thinking? Eternity, that’s what:
…it’s still not a guarantee of immortality, but it’s a tipping point.
Despite everything, despite their understanding of how the planet got here and why, materialists DO want to live forever! There is an almost driving desire to keep going and going, but very little idea how to do so. This fact alone will be a common point among the three of us, but as you can surmise our solutions are vastly different.
A reminder of Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “God has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
True – WE cannot find out! But the God who has put eternity into our hearts, he and he alone can reveal it to us.
The concept of the singularity come from SF author Vernor Vinge. The singularity is not an attempt to live forever, rather it is a “technological creation of superintelligence” and its’ impact cannot be determined.
The only thing that will influence it? The acts of humankind in its’ creation.
As we create the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, we must never think that we understand what is going on. We just make sure our acts are based in faith and love.
Hi James – noted Vinge’s name – but not totally looked into it. While not an attempt to live forever that seems to be the direction Kurzweil took it – and the discussions on ABC pushed back on this. The academic dude who is speaking is going down the “live forever” line apparently. It’s not my forte! I probably need you there as back up! Can you pop down anyway? It’s in our old stomping ground!
Not sure though that WE can create the kingdom on earth as in heaven. Lord’s prayer is for God to do that. That’s perhaps my point: there is way too much optimism in both perspectives (Green and Technology) – one that history does not allow us to indulge in. Jurgen Moltmann (greatest theologian perhaps of 2nd half of 20th century) said that as believers in the resurrection we are neither optimists or pessimists, but simply committed to the fact of the resurrection as it has happened and as it has changed the future.
You must log in to post a comment.