Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Technology does not equal Wisdom

Human beings too often mistake technological progress for evolution of mind. We possess the same thought processes as far back as we can remember; we know this due to recorded history. Technology advances because new knowledge is produced by using previous knowledge as a foundation. That is one of the wonders of the way human beings think. Other living creatures on the earth don't produce innovative knowledge beyond their natural instincts. Humans can change that temporarily, via instruction to individual animals, but the knowledge is lost forever to the species when the individual animal dies. Non-human animals certainly haven't shown any innate ability to expand on human-given knowledge, despite cute anomalies such as primates trained in sign language.

The knowledge I speak of is our technical knowledge of the physical world. This knowledge persistently grows and expands because of our natural curiosity, coupled with our desires to make our lives easier, more lucrative or more fun. This type of knowledge is not at all synonymous with wisdom about the behavior of human beings or about the nature of existence. However, these two particular areas are of vital importance because human beings can't change their collective reality, despite centuries of philosophical creativity.

Although we have advanced technologically, recorded history has clearly shown that the human issues of today are the same human issues of ancient times; yet we are certain that we are wiser than people who lived in the past.

This doesn't mean we are doomed to make the same mistakes. What it means is we shouldn't abandon wisdom from the past just because we have cell phones and they didn't. Yes, our speeds of communication and travel have increased, computers have drastically changed the world, and yes, our ability to record our observations allows us to amass incredible amounts information. These examples of our mental prowess don't erase the fact that the same behavioral issues that troubled human beings from the ancient past are still with us in the 21st century.

The thoughts of supposedly 'primitive' people of the past should not be entirely dismissed just because they couldn't turn on the television or radio and have marketing drivel and cultural poppycock influence their minds for night after night, year after year, and decade after decade. Remember, way back in those ancient days they had much more time to actually think about their reason or purpose in the universe, due to far less extraneous distraction. Survival and human relationships were more the focus.

If you lived somewhere on earth where there was no access to 'modern' medicine, would that mean you were a primitive idiot because you died for lack of receiving an immunization? Would it mean your observations about the world and ability to interact with people were all suspect, simply because you didn't know how to create penicillin? Of course not.

As technology has advanced, survival has gone mostly into the background for the average human being. At the same time, as technology has advanced, the idea that our relationships with other human beings are vital to our interaction with the world has become secondary to our belief that we don't truly need others anymore. This is an ultimate result of thinking our technology can address all issues. Human beings produce problems via behavioral disharmony. Devices are merely mindless artifacts that only do what we use them for. There is no device that could permanently change the human condition without actually physically changing the human being so much that the being itself no longer retains truly human status.

What we have told ourselves is that the people of the past were primitive beings who lacked the ability to understand how anything in our modern world works. This is a blatant lie. Our minds back then are the same as our minds now, and the fact that we build on previous knowledge to produce the technological wonders of the present has everything to do with the time line of history. You could pull someone (who understood your language) out of a cave from the past, and explain computers and the Internet to them. Once the wonder of these items subsided, he or she could use them just as effectively as you do.

Technological issues are separate from human issues. We are not our technology; our technology is a physical manifestation of our natural abilities. Human issues are still in the same state they were in primitive times; we are not enlightened in this regard, despite our amusing self delusion that our gadgetry and philosophical sophistry equals greater wisdom.

Take a hint from the people in the past who spent a great deal more time thinking about human existence and purpose than we do. Arrogance is not equal to wisdom: "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

Here's the point:

We are not smarter than the millions of people who have lived and died before us. The sooner we stop pretending that our collected knowledge of physics and science have evolved us mentally as a species, the sooner we can properly address the real problems that plague our existence.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Movie "Knowing" Exposes Ignorance

I recently watched the movie "Knowing" with my wife. It stars Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne and others. Then, out of curiosity, I read a bunch of the viewer reviews on Netflix. That was an education indeed.

One point that was raised on many of the negative reviews was the way the movie ended. The complaints were all some form of the following: the ending didn't make any sense, it was completely inappropriate, it ruined the movie because it didn't gel with the rest of the story, it was nothing more than an a big, fat 'deus ex machina.'

I was dumbfounded by how so many people could miss what was to me obvious. Then I remembered something: actual knowledge of the contents of the Bible, as opposed to spurious anecdotal knowledge provided by atheists and popular culture, is steadily being lost to the very societies that were founded on its principles.

It's interesting the movie wasn't released as a Christian film, or at least as a 'spiritual' one. I think the producers must have feared the work being pigeonholed, and thus automatically garnering less box office success. So-called religious movies have long been saddled with lesser production values, acting and writing included. Plus, there's the common standard most moviegoers seem to possess, of steering away from 'preachy' movies.

As a person who spotted a lot of biblical symbolism in the film, I greatly appreciated a decently budgeted movie that wasn't afraid to make a clever connection between our fascination with disaster movies and the Bible's own commentary regarding specific events and entities. That the movie was still just entertainment is not in question; I wouldn't presume to indicate to anyone that it is truly prophetic with its story.

What the movie was though, was an excellent exercise in 'what if.' It not only took concepts directly from the Bible, but also from the possibility that the experiences of the Bible patriarchs may have been interactions with 'Ancient Astronauts,' as theorized by Erich von Däniken and others. Or better yet, the writers could have been advancing the idea that the 'technology' of God might, in some instances, appear to us as the technology of some other advanced civilization, given our current scientific knowledge. Who knows? If the Rapture actually occurs as expected by Christians, who can really say for sure if the chosen will rise from the earth by personally defying gravity, or via spaceships?

There were many subtle visual touches that brought the whole story into focus, such as the picture of Ezekiel's wheel in the mother's abandoned house, and what could be discerned as wings on the backs of the space entities at the end of the film. Even the blinding light and trumpet-like sound that emanated from the stranger's mouth in one scene are concepts that were culled directly from biblical texts.

Nicolas Cage's character (a college professor) is clearly conflicted; the writers chose to have the one lecture to his class in the movie be about random chance versus organization (design). His father just happens to be a pastor, so the internal struggle for someone whose wife recently died could easily be imagined. This struggle is actually stated out loud by Cage's character later in the film.

Subtle examples of biblical influence appear throughout, such as Cage's character finally realizing that certain death with his own family during the coming cataclysm is not something to be feared. The many visual clues, such as the centrally featured tree in the midst of a beautiful golden field, seem to be lost on people who don't know what is actually in the Bible.

What was truly the saddest aspect of this experience for me though, wasn't the mere ignorance of the reviewers. It was the tragically misled anti-religious comments posted on the Netflix site by some reviewers. It seems likely that most individuals tossing darts at those who believe in God are simply jumping on a bandwagon. I find the high level of acrimony of the anti-religious very disproportionate to the meager amount coming from the opposite direction.

The debate over the existence of God has been raging as long as people have been able to argue with each other, and it didn't require the Bible or "On the Origin of Species" as a catalyst. The recent rise from obscurity of certain publicly vocal proponents of atheism has only given one side of the debate more fuel to continue squawking. Their intellectualized nattering is proof of nothing more than our own tendency to avoid whatever we don't find amenable to our own selfish desires.

What's my bottom line on all this?

In this 'wondrous' digital age of instant information, the false idea that history can't be rewritten is even stronger. How ironic that the original written source of the highest aspirations for human beings has been earmarked for complete abandonment, via socially engineered and agenda-ridden vilification, for several decades.

The Bible is not a dispenser of falsehood, ignorance and evil. Those things are what the absence of biblical tenets produce. Keep your eyes on the rotten fruits of apathy regarding God, and you will see, through the years, how the only thing that prevents the world from slipping into total chaos is a return to the values in that unsinkable book.

The values themselves are not exclusive to the Bible, but for any person to claim that the Bible is a (or the) cause of humanity's problems only serves to clearly display that person's intentional ignorance of what is actually written in its pages.

For any reader of this blog who's never really taken an earnest look in the Bible, I offer a challenge:

Be brave, be different, and think for yourself; find out for yourself, once and for all, what is really written on those pages. Don't make the common blunder of letting others interpret them for you.

The Bible will change your life in the best of ways... unless you really don't want it to. As it was in the beginning, so it shall be unto the end of the world: the choice is yours.