Apple and Eve: Revering Technology as God

-Expanded Middle

Thesis: Throughout history, religion and technology have opposed each other, with the church forbidding science practices, and science undermining many religious beliefs. In the modern age, science seems to have largely triumphed, even replacing religion in some ways, with technology fulfilling many of the aspects God is believed to have, from omnipotence to our faith to the promise of an afterlife. So if science has prevailed, why is it that instead of it retaining its classical aspects of proof and rationality, it has been reimagined as God?



I. Technology/science vs religion in history

            A. Church generally opposed technology/science throughout history

                        1. Forbidding teaching evolution, etc

                        2. [Media: The timeline]

            B. Ouija board: explaining supernatural phenomenon with science, rather than spirituality

                        1. Debunking myths, explaining it through psychological terms and analyzing through technological tools,                                     explaining its main purpose was for profit, not to actually help people contact the dead

                                    a. The first patent offers no explanation as to how the device works, just asserts that it does. That                                                  ambiguity and mystery was part of a more or less conscious marketing effort. “These were very shrewd                                      businessmen,” notes Murch; the less the Kennard company said about how the board worked, the more                                      mysterious it seemed—and the more people wanted to buy it. “Ultimately, it was a money-maker. They                                        didn’t care why people thought it worked.” (McRobbie)

                        2. “Ouija boards are not, scientists say, powered by spirits or even demons. Disappointing but also potentially                             useful—because they’re powered by us, even when we protest that we’re not doing it, we swear. Ouija boards                           work on a principle known to those studying the mind for more than 160 years: the ideometer effect.”                                        (McRobbie)

                        3. “Even if they don’t succeed, the UBC team has managed to make good on one of the claims of the early                                   Ouija  advertisements: The board does offer a link between the known and the unknown. Just not the                                           unknown that everyone wanted to believe it was.” (McRobbie)


II. Technology is now playing God

                         1. “permanent life is more than a selfish daydream; it’s a stepping-stone on our fated path of accelerating                                     creativity, that godlike quality which will ultimately make us gods.” (Ever After) [Make into a pull quote]

            A. Always watching us

                        1. Apple and facebook lawsuits, listening to us through our phone

                        2. [Media:                                   article]

            B. Some degree of blind faith and trust

                         1. We don’t know if there is a God, we don’t know exactly how our technology works, yet we continue to use it

                         2. Cryonics: tiny chance of it working, yet still they tried, hope against the odds

                                     a. “Family members and strangers alike told them they were wasting Kim’s precious remaining time on                                       a pipe dream. Kim herself would allow only that “if it does happen to work, it would be incredible.”                                                “Dying,” her father admonished gently, “is a part of life.” (Harmon)

                                      b. “Still, the reliance on strictly hypothetical technology for the idea of biological repair led one critic to                                       dismiss cryonics as “based almost entirely on faith in the future” in a 2001 Scientific American essay.”

                                                -faith in humans, not in God

                                     c. “And the infinite scenarios could seem overwhelming. Might she be back in a hundred years, or a                                               thousand? Would Josh be there? In what form? If damaged, maybe her biological brain could actually                                            be repaired?”

             C. Our hope for immortality through afterlife replaced by hope for immortality on Earth

                         1. “In a culture that places a premium on the graceful acceptance of death, the couple faced a wave of                                           hostility,  tempered by sympathy for Kim’s desire, as she explained it, ‘not to miss it all.’” (Harmon)

            D. Technology as the newest religion


                         [media: article]


III. If we did turn technology into a religion, why?

             A. When technology debunked many religious aspects, why do we then make technology our religion?

                       1. Human desire to have faith and seek larger meaning

                                     a. “People want to believe. The need to believe that something else is out there is powerful,” he says.                                            “This thing is one of those things that allows them to express that belief.” (McRobbie)

                       2. Need to be in control, have some control over fate, be more than other animals

                                     a. A way to live on: “Victoria Mazurenko, who had gotten an early look at the bot from Kuyda, rushed to                                       her defense. “They continued Roman’s life and saved ours,” she wrote in a reply to Esmanov. “It’s not                                            virtual reality. This is a new reality, and we need to learn to build it and live in it.” (Newton)

             B. Modern self-obsession, or perhaps all there is left to explore is our own minds

                         1. “UBC’s experiments show that the Ouija could be a very useful tool in rigorously investigating non-                                             conscious  thought processes.” (McRobbie)

             C. People want to leave a mark on the world, be a “special snowflake,” have significance

                         1. “Modern life all but ensures that we leave behind vast digital archives — text messages, photos, posts on                                 social media — and we are only beginning to consider what role they should play in mourning. In the                                           moment, we tend to view our text messages as ephemeral. But as Kuyda found after Mazurenko’s death, they                            can also be powerful tools for coping with loss. Maybe, she thought, this “digital estate” could form the                                         building blocks for a new type of memorial.” (Newton)

             D. Ever After- a sort of complacency in believing we can escape death

                         1. “Once again, the project of dismantling existential borders emerges from the alignment of technology                                      (however one defines it), dollars, entitlement and irrational optimism—manifest destiny, you might say. The                                notion that it’s our duty to surpass the physical self complements the canards of abundance and exception                                that plague an (over)ambitious mind.”

                         2. “Belief in approaching immortality, like a belief in the Rapture, becomes ideology, a single-issue political                                  party.”

                        3. “It’s well worth noting that even as we pursue these new frontiers in research, we harbor an inborn revulsion                          toward “unnaturally” prolonged life: from do-not-resuscitate orders to horror films about various undead,                                   avatars for endless, thoughtless consumption and want. Zombies and vampires, creatures sustained by                                       unspeakable parasitic means: they’re us without the luxury of finitude.”


Conceptual Question: What is it about the modern age and human nature that makes people want to turn technology into a religion?