Technology has transformed our world. In just one generation, we have gone from analog to digital; wires to wireless to Wi-Fi, buttons to screens to swipes. But how did this change happen so rapidly? And how was it introduced to us? As a child of the early 1980s, I am part of what is known as “the Oregon Trail Generation.”[i]
It was either in second or third grade, when my class migrated to the library of my local elementary school. There we were met with a room full of Macintosh computers, all displaying the home screen for the game Oregon Trail. Vicariously through heavily pixelated American pioneers on the computer screen, we learned how to barter, and trade to keep our family alive in the Wild West. None of us had any idea of the massive changes that the Oregon Trail Generation would witness.
It wasn’t long before we saw more computers in our classrooms, libraries, and offices. Beyond the walls of public education, home PCs became affordable, allowing many of us to participate in this strange thing called the “Internet” from home. We started to notice that this ethereal place called “online” was great not only for communication, but also for sharing and discovering new information. But as people started to get comfortable with emails, websites, and AOL Instant Messenger, social norms also began to change. For example, I recall noticing a change in daily interaction with friends and family as somehow, every conversation included the word “email” or “website.” Words that had little meaning in earlier days suddenly held prominence in our ever quickening, fast-paced world. And nothing ever slowed down.
I was a sophomore in college, when Facebook first hit the college scene. I recall at the time understanding the concept of social media, as it was the natural next phase after AIM (Instant Messenger) and MySpace. By the end of my college years, everyone was on Facebook, and everyone was watching YouTube videos. It was around that time rumors began to circulate about a future Apple product called the iPhone that was supposed to revolutionize communication technology forever.
So yes, the Oregon Trail Generation is unique in that we are the last generation born with any knowledge or experience of life before the computer and the Internet. Every child born after us was pretty much born into the ‘Brave New World’. In fact, my sister who is 7 years younger than I am, has grown up in a completely different world from the one I was in at the same age.
But where is this seeming progress taking us?
THE SEA OF DATA
The vastness and speed by which the Internet would grow was completely overwhelming for everyone in the Oregon Trail Generation. Yet somehow, we were uniquely qualified and able to adapt to the changes being thrown our way. As access to the Internet became easier, we realized that we no longer needed landline phones, or cable television, as long as we can go online. Consuming Music, TV Shows, Movies, Articles, Stories, Opinions, News, Politics, Religion, Spirituality, and hundreds and hundreds of other categories, and sub-categories, each with an identification tag; each with a vast cluster of information that can be accessed; such is the Internet. But if we can imagine, that one piece of data being constructed in the ethereal virtual cloud, was a single water molecule, it’s easy to follow the analogy and say that the Internet as a whole, is like the vast ocean or sea.
Revelation 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.[emphasis added]
Many scholars have used a future reference from Revelation 17:15 of “many waters,” in attempt to describe the “sea” in Revelation 13:1. Revelation 17:15 states, “The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” In other words, the “sea” refers to the people of the world. This begs the question; given the progress of technology and science, where are we now as a people? And where are we headed in the near future?
If the stories and articles published daily are an indication of where we are headed, it is my opinion, that the final human world empire will not be human at all. Enhanced by the various emerging technologies and sciences, the “beast that rises out of the sea,” might literally be, a new race of humans, led by one that will champion the cause, more aptly labeled the man of sin.
SOME MORE FROM SCRIPTURE
A fascinating study can be done when comparing the various aspects of the final beast described in Revelation 13:2, to each individual beast described in Daniel 7:2-7. What author and filmmaker Chris White discovered, was that the dreadful, terrible, and exceedingly strong, fourth beast of Daniel 7:7 is precisely the beast described rising from the sea in Revelation 13:1. While Daniel 7 describes the first beast (lion), second beast (bear), and third beast (leopard) before getting to the fourth beast, Revelation 13:2 describes a single beast who has consolidated the first three beasts mentioned in Daniel individually.
Revelation 13:2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.[emphasis added]
This final beast will crush the lion, leopard, and bear, and use them as part of this single dark kingdom. By studying each animal, what they are thought to represent, and re-evaluating them from our current position in time, we come to discover that the beasts might not necessarily be nations as traditionally believed, but rather large corporations.
Consolidation seems to be happening very quickly in the Internet era. For example, Google has been responsible for acquiring more than one company a week since 2010.[ii] It is only a matter of time before we will begin to see large corporate merges, and perhaps entire industries being bought out and under control of one corporate structure. While such an idea is well outside traditional interpretations, I only suggest such an idea given the strange and bizarre world that is unfolding before us.
MENTAL CONDITIONING FOR A NEW MAN
All the while, we are being bombarded with mental conditioning and brainwashing through Entertainment media. We see films like Transcendence display the philosophical and existential implications of uploading Johnny Depp into a mainframe of a supercomputer. The film Chappie promotes similar ideas of mind-up-loading, tackling the implications of an artificially intelligent consciousness in a robot packaged in an action film resembling my favorite childhood movie, Short Circuit. Kid’s television programs like Lab Rats on Disney XD, is a show about the world’s first bionic superhumans, who are described as being “stronger than us, faster than us, smarter; (where) the next generation of the human race is…living in my basement?” The list goes on and on.
Beyond Entertainment, the combination of military developments, in conjunction with the growing infrastructure of the video gaming industry, progressive futurists are spearheading a public campaign to get the masses to embrace what is being sold as the “next phase of human evolution.” Given our coming transhuman present and future, privileged men and women will begin to break away from mankind as a species. Consider the beast kingdom that would rise “out of the sea” where the “sea” represents “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongue.” The object that rises up from the “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongue,” is not human, but is described as “a beast,” operating under the power of the dragon.
Such lines of thought lead me to speculate that the members of this final beast kingdom will be partakers and participants in the “human enhancement” revolution. Part of the human enhancement will involve an organic mechanism for accessing the Internet. Such speculations become less fiction as we continue to see the roll out of these ideas in Entertainment media and beyond.
Some believe that humanity is already participating in a large social experiment, constructed for the purposes of creating a hive mind on planet earth. Futurist Dick Pelletier, stated the following:
“Computer scientists compare the Internet to Earth growing a global brain. As users, we represent the neurons; our emails, IMs, and blogs act as synaptic actions; and electromagnetic waves through the sky become neural pathways. Like germinating seeds, this wonder-tech continues to evolve and as many predict, will not stop until it achieves human-like consciousness”[iii]
It is disturbing to think that all of the information we place on the Internet is feeding a massive datacenter recording the collective human experience. It’s even more alarming to think that this “data” would one day become “alive” or “self aware.” It’s easy to trail off into speculation about how demons and fallen angels from the “other side” of the veil, could easily masquerade as an intelligent species and communicate through the Internet. According to the co-founder of Wired Magazine, Kevin Kelly, in his book What Technology Wants, the “technium,” is akin to giving birth to a child:
“In biological evolution there is no designer, but in the technium there is an intelligent designer – Sapiens…In the words of psychologist Sherry Turkle, technology is our “second self.” It is both “other” and “us.” Unlike our biological children, who grow up to have minds completely separate from us, the technium’s autonomy includes us and our collective minds. We are part of its selfish nature. The ongoing dilemma of technology, then, will never leave us. It is an ever-elaborate tool that we wield and continually update to improve our world; and it is an ever-ripening superorganism, of which we are but a part, that is following a direction beyond our own making. Humans are both master and slave to the technium…”[iv]
Given what we know about the Mark of the Beast and the Image of the beast, it is easy to imagine the technium becoming the lifeblood of the beast that rises out of the sea. The Mark, perhaps causing an alteration in ones DNA, and the worship of the Image, a passage that I believe is the best description of artificial intelligence prophesied in the bible.
Revelation 13:15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Leading up the creation of the Image, the second beast will perform miraculous signs and wonders, even in resurrecting the first beast from a mortal head wound. These miracles will be so spectacular, that it will captivate the entire world. Under this hypnotic state, the members of the beast kingdom will build and image to this first beast. Then, he will give this image life. This “life” that the second beast gives the image can also be translated as “breath” or “spirit.” The result will be the image of the beast, having an ability to speak, and slay those who do not worship it. It’s no wonder that God’s wrath is brought down over this kingdom.
Revelation 14:9-10 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
Revelation 16:2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
The people who take the mark of the beast, and worship his image, are going to be punished severely in God’s wrath. But why would God be so angry at this particular unrepentant world? Perhaps, it is because humans will begin to genetically alter themselves, just as the days of Noah were. And it seems God has no tolerance for the breaking the barriers of kinds. The description of those who took the mark and worshiped the image is “smoke of their torment” ascending up “forever and ever.”[v] Not the most pleasant imagery. Yet, most who are part of this movement will continue to blindly persist that technology will be our saviors.
And, it seems that the more we hear about the advances in science and technology, the more the “new race” theory about the “beast that rises out of the sea,” sounds plausible. If Noah was found “perfect in his generations,” speaking to his genetic purity, then it seems fair to assume that a similar time with similar implications are on the horizon.
AN ABOMINABLE IMAGE?
So as a member of the Oregon Trail generation, I find myself caught in the thick of the technological changes, all while trying to maintain a steady biblical base for my thinking. The struggle, and eventual integration between man and machine is becoming obvious, yet more difficult to address, as we continue to get hit with the constant waves of emerging technologies. I am confident though, that there will come a day when Christians around the world will know that we have to unplug and step away from the Internet. Perhaps this moment will be what Jesus and the prophet Daniel described as “the abomination that causes desolation.” The beginning of what Jesus called would be a time “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
Mark 13:14 “When you see the abomination that causes desolation standing where it should not” (let the reader understand), “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains!”
Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Many believe that this is the Antichrist himself, standing in the holy place, declaring himself to be God. However, some commentators have suggested, that the “abomination of desolation” is not the antichrist, but the image of the beast! Warren Wendell Wiersbe, a Bible Scholar and Pastor, best known as host of ‘Back to the Bible’ radio, stated in 1992 in his expository outlines on the New Testament quote:
“The False Prophet is the one who orders the image of the Beast made. This is the “abomination of desolation” found in Matt. 24:15, Dan. 11:45, and 2 Thes. 2:4. The Beast will have his image set up in the restored Jewish temple in Jerusalem at this time. This image will come to life! It will speak and greatly amaze the world. Both the Beast and his image will speak “great things” and utter blasphemies against heaven.”[vi]
In next month’s installment, we’ll take a look at how the drive to rebuild temple is preparing for the Image of the Beast.
[iii] Dick Pelletier, ‘Positive Futurist’ http://www.positivefuturist.com/archive/285.html
[iv] Kelly, Kevin. ‘What Technology Wants’ Page 183, 187.
[v] Revelation 14:11
[vi] Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (834). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.