Monday 8 May 2023

Neo Reformer, Kungfu Calvinist

Most of us GenX-Millenial moviegoers remember when we learned how Kung-fu is learned. At least the ones who learn it from the least kung-fu-esq product and process known in the martial arts world. 


What happens in the movies we watch is only ever tangentially related to real life. The movies let us know more possibilities than they ever let us know about reality. 

So when things from the movies start to come true we need to be careful how we approach them as moviegoers and as people who don't have the plot armor and happy endings that movie characters tend to have. 

However you want to look at it we are progressing however slowly towards a future where information won't need to be learned by experience and training, but can be uploaded into a person's mind via a technological medium. Neo, from The Matrix movies, might have been the first person we collectively as a society and culture saw do this. But the idea exists elsewhere as well. A breathtakingly terrifying game called Prey uses the same idea of techno-learning to take skills needed to progress in the game and bolt them onto the brain of the main character, to move through the storyline and gameplay of the game. Were this all an exercise in mental postulation, we could flippantly consider movies and video games as examples of what could be. 

But then a guy like Elon Musk shows up and starts dabbling with a thing called Neuralink.

Musk's creation isn't new but is poised to be a kind of sleeper agent in our scheme of things if we allow it to operate in our ignorance. Right now, the project is trying to help people with major neurological damage so that a person's brain could control robotic limbs or mobility aids and living standards tech like moving a mouse on a laptop with your mind. This is all well and good and as humane a thing as anyone is likely to come up with as a use for brain-computer hybrids. But like all technologies, things will progress and this will be a step into the shallow end of a very, very, VERY, deep pool.

And where we're going to find ourselves, drowning in a sea of good intentions, and technological hell storms, in need of a Saviour that walks on troubled waters, is when the gospel becomes something people can upload.

We can imagine what it means to learn how to crouch like a tiger and hide like a dragon when the only things at stake are misconceptions of traditional martial arts and overpriced popcorn. But what happens when the kung-fu we want to download is the gospel? And the stakes are a wee bit higher in the realms of eternal salvation for the hell our sins damn us to? And Even more into the realms of treading water in this pool, what happens when we upload that gospel to someone who has never heard it before?

If it works then we have the means to make everyone in the world a Christian with the click of a mouse. One ironically and poetically/potentially controlled by a person using the same tech they received the gospel by. The church has a dark history of being attached to the Crusader's decision to "Baptize" people by marching them into rivers upon which their deaths all but guaranteed their salvation because "We literally just baptized them." The crusades and Jihads that founded this kind of horrid theology won't be needed to do the same kind of thing by different means. In a world where the Neuralink can not only animate robotic limbs in their body's stead, but anoint souls apart from their sin. Imagine a world where a Muslim convert to Christ hijacks the minds of their family while they sleep and the family wakes up Christian. With an honest compulsion to pray before breakfast in any direction but the one towards Mecca. How long in this cinematic universe before the Mormons lose their literal stake in Utah? How long before the Australians lose their internet-famous Jedi as a religious group? Who wouldn't take that kind of red pill? 

If you've watched the movies or read the Good Book, you know who doesn't want to take that pill, who doesn't want a saviour to be that real. 

So what happens when it doesn't work. When The church gets ahead of the curve and like Cypher and bites off more steak than it can congregationally chew, in front of a guy named Smith and the ones dressed just like him? Admittedly our Smiths use bikes more often than computers, but even those are electrified these days.

What happens when the Calvinists were right and the doctrine of election is a statistically derivable thing? Just apply the right gospel programming to a population and you get a chart-able graph of salvation plot points to see how wide the road to Hell really is. Or maybe, more interestingly for guys like me, who like to read books, A way to outright disregard a whole library's worth of authors that write from the Arminian perspective. 

People like to talk a lot of smack about how the internet and other related technologies are "Just like Gutenberg's Press." That is, unless, There's some actual reformed theology or reforming in general to do. What technologies like Neuralink will give the church is the same kind of thing handing scriptures to everyone in the church did post 95 theses'. We'll see a large swell of people who agree with the device's findings in their faith lives, and a larger opposition to the practice of gospel-pilling unwilling people, or even willing people by the principles of attrition. 

It will be in the vested interest of people going to Hell, in a world of uploadable salvation, to make sure they aren't lonely. Because we already have people going to hell who are ensuring that highway is well travelled. 

Musk may not have intended to create something that could do this kind of thing, but that isn't the point being made here. The point here is that tech is not something we do or make apart from God, We do it alongside and under his oversight. Under his control like he had a mouse on our firmware which he controlled with his mind. Macbooks didn't sneak up on God, and neither will Neuralink, Chatgpt, Rockets that go to Mars, or whatever mechanized lust demons Pornhub manages to finally make and commercialize. God will use tech to build his kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven, the same way he uses bricks. And a good many of us "Christians" will think that we are somehow variables in that scheme. Ones that think they can find an individualistic path alongside what God does with uploadable knowledge and A.I. so powerful it can convert a Reddit atheist in a comment section. 

But our damnation and salvation are built on more solid foundations to the universe itself. A solid rock that is not threatened by technology any more than He was a hammer and nails. And that kind of God, is the one at the helm of technology as an idea. One that He spoke into existence alongside the water we sink in and the land that was cursed because of our sins. When the option to upload the one true religion comes along, will we wonder where the spoon is? Or how the steak taste in Hell?

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