(The following article is by Bill Keller) One of the questions that I get daily is, ” How do I hear God speaking to me?” That is a great question and one of the most important things for a follower of Christ to do, hear God’s voice. The fact is, God not only does speak to us, but speaks to us constantly throughout the day. As a matter of fact, God NEVER STOPS SPEAKING TO US. I know this may come as a shock to many, even those who have followed the Lord and heard His voice for many years, but God is actually speaking to each of us non-stop, all the time. The problem is, we are not always listening for His voice all the time.
There are 4 main ways God speaks to us. He speaks to us through His Word, through our prayer life, through that “still small voice,” through other people, and He speaks to us through our circumstances. I do want to mention
that there is one other way God can speak to us, though it is very rare, and that is audibly as He spoke to Saul on the Damascus Road . I personally have never heard God speak to me audibly, and to be honest with you, am not sure I really want to. I am very content hearing Him through the other 4 ways.
God speaks to us through His Word. Have you ever been reading the Bible and a verse or passage jumped off the page at you, almost like it was “talking to you?” IT WAS! That is how God speaks to us through His Word. We can read the same verse or passage 10 times, and it may say something different to us each time. As we read the Bible, we need to be listening to what God is saying to us as we read. Those places that “speak to us” are God speaking to us! God also is speaking to us when we pray. As we are in that time of prayer, that “still small voice” inside of us is God. One of the most important parts of our prayer time is the time we stop talking and listen. Part of praying includes being silent to “listen to the voice of God.” God is talking to us if we will be quiet long enough to hear Him.
Another way we hear from God is through other people. God speaks to us all the time through others, both those who know Him and those who don’t. Normally we hear God when He is speaking through our pastor, or someone we are accountable to spiritually, often through a pastor, evangelist, or teacher we may see on t.v., hear on the radio or a tape, or read in a book or on the Internet. God speaks to us through other people all the time, including those who may not know Him. He can use anyone to speak to us so we need to be aware that God uses other people to communicate with us.
The last way God speaks to us is through our circumstances.
THERE ARE NO ACCIDENTS AND NO COINCIDENCES WITH GOD!
There is no such thing as “chance” or “luck.” One of the most powerful ways God speaks to us is through the things that happen in our life, especially those things that are totally out of our control. God is speaking to us all
the time through the events in our life and we need to realize that what happens to us is happening for a reason. We may never fully understand or comprehend that reason, but nothing happens in our life that God doesn’t allow.
Hearing from God is like anything else, it takes practice. If you want to hear God’s voice, you have got to practice listening to God’s voice. The more you practice hearing God, the more you WILL hear God. The first thing you will be amazed at is how much God is speaking to you. Like I said earlier, God is ALWAYS speaking to you. The problem is, we are not always listening. The more you practice hearing God, the more you will hear God since He is always speaking to you.
The other critical issue in hearing God is knowing His voice. You see, satan also can talk to you in all these same ways I outline above. So, how do you know you are hearing the voice of God as opposed to the voice of the great
deceiver? Again, the more you practice hearing God, the better you will become in knowing the sound of His voice. As you practice hearing God speak to you, you are also sharpening your discernment.
Here is the key. When God speaks to you, what He says will always be in line with His Word. God will NEVER contradict His Word. God is not going to tell you to do something that He has told you NOT to do in His Word. That is another reason why it is so critical to read and study the Bible since it helps you know what God says. When God is speaking to you, it is always in line with His Word.
Lastly, let me share with you the main reason why people don’t really want to hear God’s voice much of the time.
IF WE HEAR FROM GOD, THEN WE MUST OBEY GOD!
You see, most people really DON’T want to hear from God, since once they do, they now need to obey Him. They feel better about themselves by tuning God’s voice out, and that way they can claim ignorance when they live in rebellion to God. That is a game from the pits of hell. Don’t you know that rebellion brings consequences while obedience brings blessings? Why would you want to tune out God’s voice, just so you can do it your way, when you know in the end, your way doesn’t work? When you know in the end your way won’t bring blessings but consequences?
Aren’t you tired of getting beat on the head with a 2×4? God had to hit me with a 2×4, a steel pole, and crush me with a few huge buildings before I finally figured out blessings were better than consequences. Yes, listening to God means you now need to OBEY GOD, but that is where your blessings come from!
I love you and care about you so much. This is a very important message today since we ALL need to do a better job of hearing God. God is speaking to us all the time through His Word, through our time in prayer, through
other people, and through our circumstance. We need to start practicing hearing God, discerning His voice, and then obeying what He is telling us. After all, we call ourselves FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST. That means we are to listen to His voice and obey what He is telling us.
Don’t you know yet how much God loves you and cares about you? He only wants the best for your life. One of the ways God shows you His love is by talking to you. Think about that for a moment. The God of the Universe, the God who created the heavens and the earth, the God who created you in His own image SPEAKS TO YOU ALL THE TIME! That is a powerful truth! He speaks to you because He loves you and cares about you. He speaks to you to guide you through this journey called life so that you can know the fullness of His joy, His peace, and the abundance this life can offer.
I will be praying for you today. Praying that you will start to do a better job of hearing God’s voice. He is speaking to you all the time, non-stop. It is up to you, however, to listen to Him, and after you hear from God, obey Him. God loves you enough to talk to you, do you love Him enough to listen?
“Worry looks around, sorry looks back, Faith looks up.”
Have faith, God will honor it!
“Who I Am Makes a Difference.”
A teacher in New York decided to honor each of her seniors in High School by telling them the difference each of them had made. She called each student to the front of the class, one at a time.
First, she told each of them how they had made a difference to her, and the class. Then she presented each of them with a blue ribbon, imprinted with gold letters, which read, “Who I Am Makes a Difference.”
Afterwards, the teacher decided to do a class project, to see what kind of impact recognition would have on a Community. She gave each of the students three more blue ribbons, and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment ceremony. Then they were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom, and report to the class in about a week.
One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby Company, and honored him for helping him with his career planning. He gave him a blue ribbon, and put it on his shirt.
Then he gave him two extra ribbons and said, “We’re doing a class project on recognition, and we’d like for you to go out, find somebody to honor, give them a blue ribbon, then give them the extra blue ribbon so they can acknowledge a third person, to keep this acknowledgment ceremony going. Then please report back to me and tell me what happened.”
Later that day, the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had been noted, by the way, as being kind of a grouchy fellow. He sat his boss down, and he told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon, and would he
give him permission to put it on him. His surprised boss said, “Well, sure.” The junior executive took the blue ribbon and placed it right on his boss’s jacket, above his heart.
As he gave him the last extra ribbon,! he said, “Would you take this extra ribbon, and pass it on by honoring somebody else. The young boy who first gave me the ribbons is doing a project in school, and we want to keep this recognition ceremony going and find out how it affects people.”
That night, the boss came home to his 14-year-old son, and sat him down. He said, “The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office, and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me, and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius.
Imagine! He thinks I am a creative genius! Then he put a blue ribbon that says,
“Who I Am Makes a Difference”, on my jacket above my heart. He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor. As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honor with this ribbon, and I thought about you. I want to honor you.
My days are hectic and when I come home, I do not pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough grades in school, and for your bedroom being a mess. Somehow, tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you
know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You’re a great kid, and I love you!”
The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he could not stop crying. His whole body shook. He looked up at his father and said through his tears, “Dad, earlier tonight I sat in my room and wrote a letter to you and Mom, explaining why I had took my life, and I asked you to forgive me. I was going to commit suicide tonight after you were asleep. I
just did not think that you cared at all. The letter is upstairs. I don’t think I need it after all.” His father walked upstairs and found a heartfelt letter full of anguish and pain. The boss went back to work a changed man. He was no longer a grouch, but made sure to let all of his employees know that they made a difference. The junior executive helped
several other young people with career planning, and never forgot to let them know that they made a difference in his life…one being the boss’ son. In addition, the young boy and his classmates learned a valuable lesson,
“Who YOU are does make a difference”.
You are under no obligation to pass this on to anyone…. not to two people, or to two hundred. As far as I am concerned, you can forget it and move o On the other hand, if you want, you could send it to all of the people who mean something to you, or send it to the one, two, or three people who mean the most.
On the other hand, just smile and know that I think that YOU are important, or you would not have received this in the first place. Who you are does make a difference, and I wanted you to know that.
Isn’t this a wonderful story? I’m passing the blue ribbon to you, for who YOU are does make a difference, too. May GOD BLESS YOU. Have an awesome day, and know that someone has thought about you today!
A brief prayer for today: Lord, Thank you for my friends and family who really do make a difference to me. AMEN
Malachi 3:3 says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”
This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.
That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining Silver.
As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.
The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.” She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there
The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”
He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.”
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire , remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.
Pass this on right now. This very moment, someone needs to know that God is watching over them.
And, whatever they’re going through, they’ll be a better person in the end.
“You can spend life anyway you wish, but you can only spend it once.”
A Tale of Two Servants – Amazing Grace and Breach
Last week on “BreakPoint,” we talked a lot about William Wilberforce, the English parliamentarian who fought for the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain. The marvelous new film about his life, Amazing Grace, beautifully portrays a public servant whose Christian beliefs aligned with his outward actions. His life was the epitome of integrity, an example of an integrated world view.
Just before the debut of Amazing Grace, another film about a public servant appeared in theaters. The film is called Breach, and it tells the story of Robert Hanssen, the man responsible for what some have called the “greatest security breach in American history.” Hanssen was the FBI agent, you may remember, who sold secrets to the Russians for twenty years until his arrest in February 2001.
Breach opens with a scene of Hanssen in church praying the rosary; it closes with him asking for prayer. Like Wilberforce, Hanssen seems to be a man of deep religious convictions. He was a Roman Catholic, a member of Opus Dei, a devoted father and husband, and – to all appearances – a true patriot. A Washington Post review noted: “Hanssen would duck out of work early so he could attend antiabortion rallies.”
But unlike Wilberforce, it appears that Hanssen’s inner convictions had little impact on his outward behavior. Hanssen was a sexual deviant who, without his wife’s knowledge, distributed films of their marital encounters across the Internet. He was a traitor who did not bat an eyelash at betraying three American agents who were killed due to his actions.
Hanssen’s story is a cautionary tale of the dangers of failing to combine orthodoxy (that is, right belief) with orthopraxy (that is, right action). Biographer David A. Vise says about Hanssen, “He was a compartmentalizer. How else could he be married and a father and go to church every day and, at the same time, commit treason?”
So we have in Amazing Grace, on the one hand, and Breach, on the other, a contrast between integrity and compartmentalization. One life shows the fruit of right belief translated into right action, while the other shows how compartmentalized sin does not stay compartmentalized for long; it spreads like gangrene.
God demands our whole hearts. He wants our beliefs and actions in alignment. That’s why Wilberforce was so adamant, warning us against counterfeits of real Christianity.
Wilberforce wrote the following: “If the affections of the soul are not supremely fixed on God, and if our dominant desire and primary goal is not to possess God’s favor and to promote His glory, then we are traitors in revolt against our lawful Sovereign. . . .Whether we are the slaves of avarice, sensuality, amusement, sloth, or the devotees of ambition, taste, or fashion, we alike estrange ourselves from the dominion of our rightful Sovereign.”
Breach is rated PG-13 for some mild obscenity and adult situations. If you do choose to see it, however, see Amazing Grace soon after. The juxtaposition of Hanssen and Wilberforce will startle you. Unlike Hanssen, Wilberforce knew that real Christianity puts beliefs into action – and that any failure to live our Christian convictions is an intolerable breach of trust with our rightful Sovereign.
Thirty Pints of Blood – A Contrast in Worldviews
What difference does a worldview make? Around the world, we are seeing the clash of civilizations in action. In recent days, that clash has given us a story of life, and stories of death.
In Baghdad yesterday, a terrorist blew himself up with a car bomb, killing at least twenty-eight people and wounding dozens more. One witness told the Associated Press that pieces of human flesh were scattered all around the marketplace.
In Afghanistan last month, another terrorist blew himself up near a crowd gathered for a ceremony to open a hospital emergency ward. A few days later, a Sunni Muslim blew herself up and forty others at a college in Baghdad.
In all three cases, Muslims blew up Muslims. The response of Europe and the Muslim world to the stories of death? Outrage? No. Silence. Did the Western press condemn them? No.
Last week, another story was told on NBC News – this time, a riveting story of life.
NBC has been running a gripping series on the emergency military triage facilities in Iraq. Last Thursday, NBC showed wounded Iraqi insurgents being brought to Camp Speicher near Tikrit. Two of them had been caught placing an explosive device on a nearby road, intending to kill Americans, when a U.S. helicopter opened fire on them.
The U.S. medical team moved heaven and earth to save their lives. One insurgent, however, was not going to survive unless he got thirty pints of blood.
But the base was low on blood. The call went out for volunteer donors; minutes later, dozens of G.I.s had lined up.
At the head of the line was a battle-hardened soldier named Brian Suam. Asked if it mattered that his blood was going to an insurgent, he smiled and said, no – “A human life is a human life.”
I have never seen a more dramatic example of worldviews in contrast, nor have I been prouder of an American G.I. On one hand, we have the horrors of a civilization that values death – even the death of its own children – if by killing them they can hurt the infidels. On the other side, we have a story that makes us realize just how deeply embedded within American life is our Judeo-Christian heritage. This heritage teaches that human life is sacred – even the life of an enemy who falls into our hands.
These stories make nonsense of the claim that there is no real difference between Christianity and Islam. The clash of civilizations is not only about a fundamental difference between ways of viewing God, reality, life, and life’s meaning; it’s also about good versus evil, life versus death.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to peace-loving Muslims, but to the radicals now surging in the Arab world.
It’s time for the West to wake up. As Thomas Friedman of the New York Times put it last week, there is no accepted source of Arab-Muslim authority today for peace-loving Muslims “to anchor their souls in.” We need, Friedman writes, “a counter-terrorism strategy that delegitimizes suicide bombers.” But that will happen only when Muslim leaders condemn violence.
Friedman is right. We ignore the horrors of radical Islam to our peril. If we do nothing, in time, the stories of life will be overwhelmed by the stories of death.
Busting on One – The Dark Side of Population Control
According to its Academy of Social Sciences, China “suffers from the world’s most severe brain drain.” Approximately two-thirds of the Chinese who have studied abroad in the past two decades did not return home.
The BBC offered many possible explanations for this drain: the lack of opportunities at home; a lack of freedom, especially after Tiananmen Square, and a preference for the Western “lifestyle.”
One factor that was not mentioned but should have been was a concern about spending the rest of your life alone.
According to China’s State Population and Family Planning Commission, “by 2020 some 30 million Chinese men will not be able to find wives.” If these thirty million men were a country, they would be one of the forty most-populous countries in the world.
This inability to find wives, in the commission’s words, “may lead to social instability.” I guess it will. According to Constance Kong, a consultant in Shanghai, “given that understatement is a characteristic of the Chinese Government when it discusses national problems, this means that it is [really] alarmed.”
The government has only itself to blame. The looming imbalance between men and women of marriageable age is the completely foreseeable result of China’s “one-child” policy. Limited to one child in “a country where daughters are unwanted,” many Chinese families, especially in rural areas, made sure – even by infanticide – that the one child born was a boy.
As a result, in parts of China, there are 130 males for every 100 females. Government attempts to end sex selection, such as prohibiting doctors from revealing the sex of unborn children, have failed: Families regularly bribe doctors.
This demographic imbalance has created a new market: kidnapping young girls from other parts Asia, not for the sex trade, but to provide wives.
Given the role that marriage and family plays in socializing males and the trouble that young unmarried men have historically created, it is little wonder that Beijing is alarmed. But that’s not the only problem caused by the “one-child” policy.
It “has also created the world’s fastest aging population.” China’s population is stabilizing, but, thanks to the “one-child” policy, it is replacing working-age adults with those over sixty. The result: a demographic “Titanic gunning for the iceberg,” according to Kong.
This iceberg has raised many concerns among foreign investors. They are no longer putting all their eggs in the Chinese basket. As Kong puts it, it is no longer ” China or bust,” but “if only China, bust.” This diversion of funds threatens China’s ability to provide jobs for the tens of millions moving into its cities in search of work.
Given China’s history, its leaders are right to be alarmed about the possible impact its demographics will have on “social stability.”
China is not the only place where demographic trends are frightening: 3,500 miles away in Tehran, demographics have officials worried, and because they are worried, we need to be worried, as well. I will tell you more about this tomorrow.
China , having chosen “lifestyle” over life itself, is going to find out how costly that preference really was – and provide an object lesson to those of us in the West who are facing birthrate declines of our own.
For the Sake of the Planet? Anti-Natalism in America
Joan Blades describes herself as, among other things, a “nature lover” and a “mother.” She is also a co-founder of the liberal activist group MoveOn.org and a regular contributor to the liberal blog The Huffington Post.
In a recent post, Blades wrote about an article she read in her local paper. It described a group that supports the kind of measures Blades expected liberals like Huffington Post readers to support: health care for children, “fair wages,” and flexible work schedules for moms.
What Blades found surprising were some of the comments that came into the paper’s website. One person “reasoned” that if he has to pay $25 for a dog license, why should parents expect help when they “choose” to have kids. Another commenter simply wrote, “Can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ’em.”
Of course, this is the Internet we’re talking about. Still, Blades felt compelled to refute the erroneous assumption underlying those comments, that “choosing to have a child is purely an individual act” and not “a contribution to society as a whole.”
Their response to Blades’s response was – what else? – more of the same. A “chunk of the replies” objected “to contributing to the wellbeing of children” because they did not want to “reward or encourage” “indiscriminate breeders.”
To be fair, many of the replies were supportive of Blades’s views. Still, there were enough people using terms like breed and critters, terms normally associated with animals, to prompt Blades to write another article.
This anti-natalism is not limited to liberals. A few years ago, at a dinner I attended, a conservative Christian advocated sterilizing poor women as a solution to welfare dependency. And today, leading immigration-reform groups have links to zero-population growth advocates.
The divide is not between Republican and Democrats or liberals and conservatives – it’s between those who regard children as a blessing and those who view them as, at best, a burden.
While Blades is right when she says that plain selfishness accounts for some of the hostility to families with children, there is something else at work here as well. As Catholic writer Erin Manning says, the belief that growth in human population should be controlled is “an important tenet of mainstream environmentalism.”
Environmentalists agree that “there are too many people on the earth,” and that repairing environmental damage requires “aggressive measures to limit and restrict human population.”
In contrast to the Christian idea of stewardship, which “wishes to conserve and protect the natural resources of the planet for the sake of future generations,” this viewpoint “wishes to eliminate future generations for the sake of the planet.”
This is only one example of the cultural message today driven home to Americans: that is, that large, or even medium-sized, families are an impediment to the good life. Even if the kids are not yours, their existence will have a negative impact on you – whether it’s higher taxes or global warming.
Blades was rightly disturbed by the sentiments expressed, but she should not have been surprised – not in a culture where being a “nature lover” and a “mom” is viewed as a contradiction in terms.
A 92-year-old, small-framed, well-poised and proud man, who >is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with his hair fashionably coifed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.
After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.
As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.
“I love it,” he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mr. Jones, you haven’t seen the room; just wait.”
“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” he replied.
“Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged … it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. “It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.
Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away Just for this time in my life.
Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you’ve put in.
So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories! Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.”
Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3 Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.
Pass this message to 7 people except me.. You will receive a miracle tomorrow.
Now, STOP! Did you hear what I just said. Make a deposit in the Bank Account.
So send it right now!
Legal Fictions – Creating Parents with a Judicial Magic Wand
Isabella Miller-Jenkins is only four years old, but she is at the center of one of the most important legal battles of our time. A judge will soon decide whether a woman with no biological or adoptive ties to Isabella can legally be declared her mother.
It sounds incredible, but it is the logical result of where our anything-goes society has been leading us all these years.
As the Washington Post reports, Isabella was conceived via artificial insemination while her mother, Lisa Miller, was in a same-sex civil union with Janet Jenkins. But later the civil union fell apart. Lisa took Isabella and left Vermont for Virginia. She also returned to the Christian faith of her childhood and became “determined to ‘leave the [lesbian] lifestyle’.” That meant that she no longer considered Janet to be Isabella’s parent.
But in our reckless pursuit of getting whatever we want at all costs, our nation has begun interpreting the law in a way that reinforces all the fictions that Lisa Miller no longer believes.
The subhead in the Post article says it all: “Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller got hitched and had a baby together.” Together? Anybody who knows anything about biology knows that’s impossible. But that’s just how the courts are looking at it. As a judge in the case told Janet Jenkins’s lawyer, Janet (the lesbian partner) “without question is presumed to be the natural parent . . . by the basis of the civil union.” So in the court’s eyes, Isabella is the child of two women, something biologically impossible.
How is it possible that laws and court procedures could have become so dangerously fantasy-based? Actually, we should not be surprised. Many modern parents have unwittingly been collaborating with the process for years. The Washington Post tells us how Judge Cohen explained it: “Consider the situation of a heterosexual couple in which an infertile husband agrees for his wife to be artificially inseminated with donor sperm.” In such a case, the judge stated, the husband would be presumed to have parental rights even though someone else had actually fathered the child.
It all ties together. Heterosexual couples have tacitly approved this practice of including a silent third partner in a marriage to produce a child. And then it makes it very difficult to cry foul when homosexuals do the same thing.
Isabella’s plight shows us the tragic consequences of rejecting the biblical view of marriage, which provides for one man and one woman in the union to raise the child. Sure, there are extraordinary circumstances, and adoption is possible. But the norm is the norm, and the law has always recognized the natural moral order.
If Janet Jenkins wins her case – which may go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court – Isabella may be taken from her biological mother to live with a woman she barely remembers. And not only Isabella; many other children would also be threatened by this waving of the judicial magic wand to produce legal parents out of nowhere.
I urge you to visit our blog at thepoint.breakpoint.org to read more about this important story. We need to see how our attitude of “I can do anything I want, and it won’t hurt anybody” has led to a situation that could hurt families everywhere.
The Transhuman Future – Longing to Forget
Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.
In the movie Johnny Mnemonic, the protagonist is a “data trafficker” with a hard drive device implanted right in his brain. While the implant “enhances” his life by allowing him to make a good living, this “enhancement” costs him his childhood memories, which leaves him distant and aloof – in other words, not quite human.
While the story is science-fiction, the scenario it describes may soon become science fact.
That’s what renowned computer scientist Ray Kurzweil believes. In a recent interview in Hemispheres magazine, Kurzweil predicted that within our lifetimes, human-machine “hybrids” will become commonplace.
Within twenty years, he says, we will have “nonbiological machine intelligence” that is “more powerful than biological intelligence.”
This advance will leave us with only one choice: to merge with the technology. By 2035, Kurzweil claims, “you will be hard-pressed to find a human who doesn’t have substantial nonbiological thinking processes inside his body.” We will combine the “power of human intelligence” with the “strengths of computer intelligence: speed, storage, and memory,” he says.
Before we all line up to get our “upgrades,” though, I would like to point out a few problems with Kurzweil’s scenario. First, he is almost certainly underestimating the difficulty of the task he describes. Ever-more sophisticated mathematical “models” and “simulations” are not the same thing as “reverse engineering the human brain.”
This kind of underestimation is not new. People my age grew up believing that by the twenty-first century flying cars would be commonplace. Every vision of the not-too-distant future included them. Yet, it’s 2007, and flying cars are nowhere in sight.
The difficulties in designing and building a flying car are child’s play compared to the kind of “hybrid” Kurzweil describes. We know how powered flight work – we know little about the workings of the brain and even less about human consciousness.
But even if we can do it, that still leaves the question, “Should we do it?” Philosopher Peter Augustine Lawler has written that for many Americans, the pursuit of happiness increasingly means rejecting “the bodies they have been given by nature.”
Or, to be more precise, we reject the limitations associated with these bodies. In a culture where plastic surgery is commonplace, even among teenagers, it is no surprise that the idea of computer-like recall is attractive.
But, as Lawler reminds us, such enhancements come at a price. Our limitations, including our mortality, are the source of much of what is distinctly human. Art, philosophy, morality all spring from our coming to grips with our limitations. Take them away, and the result is not utopia, but perhaps a numbed dispiritedness.
In addition, the human capacity to forget – or, at least, to blur our memories – makes things like forgiveness and simple coping possible. Would you want to remember everything that ever happened to you with machine-like recall and speed? Would you want every bad experience to be as vivid as when it happened? I don’t think I would. Yet, that is what a hybridized future would hold in store.
Happily, there is still time to raise the important questions that the techno-utopians will not or cannot – before we all wish we were able to forget.