Technocracy and the Beast of Revelation: “the appearance of omnipotence and omnipresence”

A while ago I had a post and poll about government surveillance of your communications and other doings.  HERE

I saw an article in First Things (in these USA to subscribe click HERE) which touches on Christian issues and surveillance.  Read the whole thing, but let us plunge in medias res for a taste:

[...]

One of the most insightful addresses was by James M. Houston, who was on leave at the time from his position as University Lecturer in Geography at Oxford to serve as principal of the newly founded Regent College in Vancouver. Houston reached beyond questions of Middle East politics to warn about some dangers associated with “the growth of technology in a postindustrial age with its temptation to substitute rational, mechanical order for the life of the spirit, and for what is personal and of God.”

He connected this danger with the vision, in Revelation 13, of a beast rising out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads—thus giving the appearance of omnipotence and omnipresence. Under the rule of the apocalyptic Beast, said Houston, “there are no secrets . . . the inner shrine of being must be invaded.”

Fearing a drift into oppressive “technocracy,” Houston pleaded with his audience to “far more seriously turn our minds, our scholarship, our practical concerns, to know how future man can be defended against the impersonal forces, the manipulations and other pressures of the complexities of life in these closing decades of the twentieth century.”

[...]

Even more urgent in these initial decades of the 21st century?

I also, once again, call again for a deeper Theology of Communication.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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7 Responses to Technocracy and the Beast of Revelation: “the appearance of omnipotence and omnipresence”

  1. The Cobbler says:

    ‘Houston reached beyond questions of Middle East politics to warn about some dangers associated with “the growth of technology in a postindustrial age with its temptation to substitute rational, mechanical order for the life of the spirit, and for what is personal and of God.”’

    I’ll add, for the sake of us technology workers, that this ruins the technology itself. Technology is both a tool and an art, and arts need to be refined with the wisdom of life; if you become as mechanical as the machine you’re programming, you’re not going to program the machine worth a fig. As always, aim at Heaven and you get Earth thrown in with it, but aim at Earth and you lose both; that at any rate is older than fire and the wheel. But then, speaking of old, I have wondered if the beast coming out of the waters was symbolic of the return of some pre-deluge evil?

  2. joan ellen says:

    Fr. Z says: “I also, once again, call again for a deeper Theology of Communication.”

    Kudos to you Fr. Z. Bravo. Bingo. Yes, Yes, Yes. This is the call par excellence!

  3. kkroll says:

    Father,
    Have you seen the news about MIT and the implanting of false memories, and how this seems to possibly connect to Obama’s “Brain Initiative” he was trumpeting a few months ago?

  4. Konstantin says:

    A unprecedented global campaign using modern technology and giving the appearance of omnipotence and omnipresence has risen yesterday:

    UN Human Rights Office Launches Unprecedented Global Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality
    CAPE TOWN, July 26, 2013
    http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/Media.aspx?IsMediaPage=true&LangID=E

  5. Priam1184 says:

    The beast with ten horns and seven heads of our age is not some technological superstructure, but humanity’s overeliance on and adoration of the material world and the things we can produce from its elements to the exclusion of all else. Since both we ourselves and the world as we know it are mortal and have an expiration date then worship of these things will inevitably produce despair, the most effective tool in the toolbox of the enemy of mankind. Despair is everywhere in this society and culture; why else would so many people devote so much of their time and energy to pumping mind altering and soul destroying chemicals into their bodies and pursuing every conceivable ephemeral and empty pleasure? Attack and conquer this despair and the world will change, like it did when the Roman Empire was converted so long ago.

  6. GypsyMom says:

    If you really want to be frightened of how our inner shrine can be invaded, do a little research into Ray Kurzweil and Singularity. It sounds like science fiction–like a Dr. Who episode with the Cybermen–but it’s real and people such as Kurzweil are working on it. Kurzweil, a model of amorality if there ever was one, is petrified of dying and is working on a way to achieve “immortality” by melding man with machine. We would survive as cyborgs and upload our consciousness onto hard drives. There would be no real distinction between biological and mechanical, and we would become more machine than human. The thinking is that we would have fewer “deficiencies” and end disease, aging, and death. We would be more “intelligent” (according to Kurzweil’s warped definition) because we could upload information into our brains. This would also mean our very thoughts would be read by the powers that be, and any “unacceptable” thoughts (such as freedom, dignity, faith, prayers) could be stopped. Those working on this technology believe it can be accomplished in only a few decades, and most of their other predictions about the timelines of implementation of technologies we use today have been correct. Now, ultimately we, as followers of the True Faith, know that if God won’t let demons have access to our thoughts, He will certainly intervene someway to prevent despotic men from knowing, and worse, controlling them. Nonetheless, if we need any evidence that our world and our technology is out of hand and that we are being hunted by an “omnipotent and omnipresent” spirit, this movement is it.

  7. Priam1184 ,”The beast with ten horns and seven heads of our age is not some technological superstructure, but humanity’s over reliance on and adoration of the material world and the things we can produce from its elements to the exclusion of all else”
    Yes.