by Simon Werrett, Minister at Eastwood Evangelical Church
Olympics athletes are amazing, whether it a female running a new women’s 100m record , a BMX 360-degree backflip, or a skateboard ‘kickflip indy’ (do not try at home 😃). All the athletes want to make a name for themselves, win a medal and avoid injury.
Like life, sometimes it does not work out as planned and there are interruptions due to Covid-19, injuries or handlebars falling off the bike.
Reading the story of The Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 we find the same mindset: people who wanted to make a name for themselves. Using technology, they wanted to build a tower to reach the heavens, which would have been taller than Burj al-Khalifa in Dubai. They wanted to be like God and reach his dwelling, but their efforts proved fruitless as the people were scattered all over the earth and their languages confused.
With modern technology the heavens can be reached, people have walked on the moon, the Perseverance Rover has landed on Mars and Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos have travelled to the edge of space.
We have reversed the impact of the Tower of Babel as we have reached the heavens and with ‘Google Translate’ or other apps, language is no longer confused. It could be argued that we have reversed the story of Genesis 11. One recent article commented ‘who needs God when we have Google?’
That is a good question, why do we need God when we have Google to answer all our problems (other search engines are available 😃). With technology, even though scattered through the world, we can talk to each other, we can replicate God by saying ‘let there be light’ and the lights come on, we can create worlds in metaverse as well as avatars in our image.
A conversation with a young person revealed they did not need to remember anything, as Google knows everything, “even your birthday” I asked and then was told I was not being serious. If you ask Alexa when your birthday is, she does not know unless you are famous, although she does offer to sing happy birthday to you.
Can we now do anything we may have relied in the past for God to do? We may think we can, but we cannot. God said ‘let there be light and there was light’ and I can emulate that but only if I have the digital devices installed, the internet and electricity is working. Since time immemorial light has been made from fires, lanterns, light bulbs but even these involve technology like matches or firewood.
Under the Government Travel Traffic Light system, I am not sure which colour covers space travel, possibly green (depending where you land) but we can go to the edge of space and experience weightlessness at a considerable cost - of finance and carbon. I will not be going any time soon!
People’s desire to push the boundaries has not changed since the Tower of Babel, we have grown in intelligence, pushed the boundaries further and may have tried to make a name for themselves.
While medical technology has developed over the years and like God can heal people, there are limits to its effectiveness. It can be argued we have sought to replace God in many ways, but have we? We can do heart transplants, but we cannot change the condition of people’s heart, they are still steeped in sin as Paul reminds us.
We may be able to extend life with medication and healthy lifestyle but we cannot stop death, as the pandemic has taught us. As the writer to the Ecclesiastes puts it ‘all go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.’ We can slow the process down, but we cannot stop it.
Even with all the great technology and inventions there is one major thing we cannot do and that is provide a Saviour, only God can do that. We can ask Google about a saviour, but the search engine cannot provide salvation. Technology can help us engage better with the words of Jesus ‘ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,’ but it cannot give us eternal life.
As Peter reminded the Jewish Sanhedrin when speaking about Jesus, ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.'
We can try and emulate God with technology. We can think we are God because of technology. But we are not God. Even with the advancement of Artificial Intelligence we are still limited, we simply cannot do what God has done, can do and will do.
Athletes are amazing, technology is amazing, but God is beyond amazing, and we have not seen nothing yet! As Jesus reminded his followers ‘For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.’
Simon Werrett BA (Hons), MTh, MSc is a Minister at Eastwood Evangelical Church, Essex and a student on the MADT at Spurgeons.