The Digital Will Never Make Us Better
Written by C.R. Carmichael |
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Arrogance is at the root of our problem, as pride arrives just in time to initiate the tragic fall (Proverbs 16:18). We may be technologically advanced, but it isn’t helping us if we wield our latest digital tools as weapons against God….Thankfully, all is not lost because God is still in control, the Spirit is still moving, and salvation is always near with the redeeming power of Jesus Christ—f we only have faith.
Understanding the Digital vs. the Analog
So what is meant by putting forth the metaphorical argument that “the Digital” of transhumanism is an evil and dangerous corruption of the righteous design of “the Analog” established by God for the fruitfulness of mankind?
Technically speaking, digitization is the process of converting analog information like an object, image, document, or signal into a computer-relatable language encoded with a mathematical combination of “ones and zeroes.” Though its primary function is to speedily generate and disseminate data, it has become a darling of transhumanists because digitization can also be used as a powerful tool to transplant reality and, according to journalist Gil Press, “encourage the replacement or augmentation of the physical with the virtual or online presence.”
Of course, the “physical” that they desire to replace is nothing less than the creation of God, which, in a rhetorical sense, is the “Analog” of God. This is so because long ago He spoke the world into existence and saw that everything He had made answered the plan which His eternal wisdom had conceived; and “Behold, it was very good” (Psalm 33:6-9; Genesis 1:31).
Why call it the Analog? Think of an analog watch built with a traditional clock face and hands. Back in the days before digital watches, it was just a “watch.” But now, to differentiate it from the digital display, we call the very first watch, “analog.” The name is an example of a retronym, which is defined as a word created to avoid confusion between older and newer types of creations, usually because of advancements in technology.
From a Biblical standpoint, therefore, the Analog can be broadly defined as the elemental state of the world as originally created by God (even after the “generation loss” caused by the Fall), and the Digital can be viewed as the latest attempt by man to improve upon or completely remake that original design by digitization or digitally-driven science and technology.
Today, most people would likely assume that the digital process is superior to the analog. But such is not always the case. In the area of sound recording, for example, many audiophiles will tell you that digitization has not served us well. As often reported by those who have ears to hear the difference, the digitized music presented in compact discs and streaming audio can generally sound compressed, lifeless, bass shy and synthetic; whereas analog from vinyl records and tapes has “a physicality and immediacy in the sound of musical instruments” that is “warm, airy, and much closer to a live performance.”
The public at large, in fact, seems to agree with this assessment. Worldwide sales of vinyl records have increased sharply in recent years as people everywhere have rediscovered their fondness for the analog listening experience which, as one audio engineer tells us, “feeds the soul” because it most faithfully captures the original signal and waveform of God.
Indeed, according to mathematician Katrina Morgan, there is a credible scientific reason for this perception. “Analog captures a physical process,” she explains, “whereas digital uses mathematics to reduce the process to finite bits of information. What, if anything, is lost in that reduction is difficult to pinpoint. But the limitations of math in replicating reality may factor in to the difference in listening experiences reported by so many vinyl lovers.”
If Morgan’s general assessment is correct, there is a real danger of corrupting reality when we try to copy it with a binary conversion process that is inherently limited and reductive. Is it not prudent, then, that we ask what other aspects of God’s “analog” world are not improved by digitization?
The Increasing Dissonance of the Digital
To put it plainly, human beings are not computerized robots; we are image-bearers of God formed from the earth and comprised of flesh, soul and spirit (Genesis 2:7; Zechariah 12:1; Matthew 26:41; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). While the Digital is nothing but a “hall of mirrors, deterministic, cold and sterile,” we as part of the Analog are “numinous, reverberative, warm and fertile.”
Can we not spiritually discern the important difference? Our earth and sea is vast and spacious and teeming with life, and it vibrates with His wisdom, eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1:20; Psalm 104:24-25). Did God not create the physical world with these nurturing properties so that mankind could “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28)?
Surely, this is why the Analog has a pleasing full-spectrum resonance, and the reason why we find that there is an increasing dissonance in the world when we blindly pursue a conversion to the Digital.
For decades, digitally-driven science and technology has been touted for their revolutionary capacity to usher in a new age of health and well-being, and yet in many ways our lives do not appear that much improved. Perhaps more than ever before, we are finding our highly-digitized world struggling with a malaise of the spirit, a strange wave of sicknesses, and the menacing advent of unexpected death. So why does it seem we are no longer truly thriving on this earth?
Statistically, we are in poorer overall health, despite amazing advancements in diagnostics, trauma medicine and other specialties. The CDC, in fact, has recently reported decreases in life expectancy and increases in obesity and drug overdose rates. Fertility rates have plummeted 50% over the last 70 years, post-pandemic deaths rates are up by 40%, and three million more people between the ages of 16-64 have been added to the U.S. disabled population in the last two years.
Even worse, our usually-resilient young people are now more prone to serious health problems. The incidence of cancer in people under 50 has increased around the world. Millennials have also noticed a spike in strokes among their peers, as 10% of U.S. victims are now under the age of 45. And the autism rate among American children (which back in 1970 only affected one in 10,000) has now dramatically risen to one in 36 (CDC).
Truth be told, something very strange is going on when public school systems are scrambling these days to provide more classroom space for the rising number of psychologically troubled or special-needs students.