The need for a different type of tech
Silicon valley technology has given us easier access to information. It has also made it much easier to spread lies, hate and confusion. We need a new type of tech that will enable us to make better value judgements.
“What is truth?” said a Roman Governor called Pontius Pilate as he sentenced an innocent man to death in 33 AD. Almost two thousand years and 10 million patents later, the human race is still struggling with this question. Like Pilate, we are still struggling to keep the peace in the Middle East and to help people get along with one another in our homes, schools and businesses.
Despite all the efforts of Silicon Valley to help us understand one another through social media, discerning true and false, right and wrong is still the number one human challenge. Like Pilate, many question the nature of truth.
But in practical life, we all believe firmly in right and wrong. The fact that people argue, and fight is evidence that we all have a very strong sense of right and wrong. We get upset when lies are told or when people wrong us. So true and false, good and evil are very real and we all care deeply about them. But when it comes to living together, as more and more people of different cultures and backgrounds come together, it seems harder and harder for people to agree on what we think is true and good versus what we think is false and bad.
Wherever you look, you see polarisation, alienation, division and confusion. In politics and social media, respectful discussion seems to have become impossible. From Trump to Brexit, from the ‘Yellow Vests’ in France to the refugee crisis in Germany, the evidence of deep division is everywhere. Some blame everything on the Russians, others blame it on fake news and hate speech. For some people the answer is more laws, to others we need more advanced tech solutions.
Meanwhile, although big brother-style surveillance is becoming increasingly inevitable, many are worried that we won’t live to see his arrival because we are all going to drown when the polar ice caps melt. While the majority of scientists question the dogma that human CO2 is the cause of the hockey stick effect, the media reports the topic as if there is an extra hot corner of hell reserved for climate-change deniers. After all, polar bears and the future of planet earth are at stake!
This then, is the world in 2019: we have lots of information but little wisdom, excessive amounts of data but a lack of clear direction. We have social media and more and more anti-social behaviour. Obviously, something needs to be done, but, too often, we don’t know where to start or we lack the strength to make the necessary changes. What’s the solution?
From information technology to inspiration technology
Obviously, technology is – it always has been! Thanks to textile technologies the naked ape is clothed. Thanks to hunting technologies, homo sapiens could overcome stronger and faster beasts. Thanks to lenses we can see better and thanks to computers we can think bigger. Technologies have helped us well, thus far, but what kind of technology do we need to differentiate between good and evil or to discern what is true from what is not?
There are many technologies that allow us to gather and share facts – measuring and communications technologies do that. But how do we know which facts are important and how do we motivate people to care about facts anyway? Take smoking, for example; the facts are clear enough, but millions still smoke. In this and many other cases, the facts are useless when the will-power is lacking.
We need a technology that will take us beyond information and into the realm of inspiration. We need a technology that will allow people to come together for the common good. But first we need to know what the common good will look like. One might think that the answer is to develop an artificial intelligence connected to the Internet of Things and train it to maximise the sum of happiness. But how will happiness be measured and what will we do while we are waiting for this science fiction to become a reality?
Like many people, you might think faith is the same as religion, that it means believing things that cannot be proved, or where there is no evidence. But I propose that faith is actually a technology that allows us to tap into natural and supernatural resources by enabling us to connect to revelation and inspiration. If this is the case, then Faith Tech could actually be the technology that we have been searching for.
Nowadays, technology is defined as the application of science to the solve problems in industry. But the word technology originally emerged from the combination of the words for art and craft and divine revelation.
Faith fits this definition very well. Faith has produced the greatest art and music that the world has ever known, and faith has motivated armies of craftsmen to create incredible buildings filled with awe-inspiring art. In a brutal, harsh world, faith-empowered individuals were able to mobilise and inspire others to create great works of transcendent beauty. The most beautiful artworks and architecture were created by people who understood faith as a gateway to revelation. And in their work, they reflected the glory of what they had thus received. Contrast this with the state of art today: artists devoid of inspiration content themselves with breaking taboos. Where revelation is lacking, art fails to inspire.
But the ‘techne’ in technology also means craft. There is a process by which technologies are propagated from one generation to the next, not by scientific formula but in the context of apprenticeships and workshop trainings. Without the master-apprentice relationship, knowledge remains theoretical and technologies die out. The same is true for faith. It is best learnt from someone who is older and more experienced in the methods of faith. Wherever these principles have been followed, you see faith shaping the world.
I cannot remember when I first had the idea of saying that faith is a technology. For a long time, I simply talked about examples in the world of technology that are parables that help us to understand certain spiritual truths, but one day, I had the revelation that faith is itself a communications technology. Faith connects us to a different realm as surely as a Wi-Fi router connects us to the internet. The question is just what we are going to do once we are online. Will we check our mail, read the news, check in with friends and family or access the dark web? Faith is neutral, I realised, it really depends what sources of revelation you seek.
If you want to find out more about Faith Tech, you can preview some of the chapters and watch a number of teaser videos here on this website. You can also signup for the Faith Tech newsletter to gain instant access to the first three chapter of the book ‘Faith Tech’.
What do you think about the idea that Faith is a Technology? Why not connect on social media and join the conversation?