According to this morning’s Today website, soon our mobile phones will function like credit cards. We’ll store our financial information on them, then tap or swipe the phone to pay. Hand motions will control our cameras and computers. Watches will contain apps that synchronize with our phones. We will be able to monitor and control our homes using our smart phones as well.
Meanwhile, scientists say that the first Earth-like alien planet will be discovered this year. Last month, Abel Mendez of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory stated, “I’m very positive that the first Earth twin will be discovered next year.” One NASA researcher believes there are two billion “Earth analogs” in the Milky Way galaxy alone. And there are 50 billion other galaxies in the universe. It’s only a matter of time before astronomers find a planet capable of supporting life as we know it, or so we’re told.
What do these predictions have in common? What do they say about our culture?
Consider the degree to which they create the illusion of control. We can manage our credit cards without using them; we can manipulate our technology and circumstances more easily than ever before. Even on planets far from us, we can evaluate their capacity to support life and perhaps respond to what we find.
A fascinating recent essay explores this phenomenon. It points out that we are able to control our environment to a greater degree than any civilization in history. As a result, “technology feeds the illusion of control so much that it is easy for us to think that we don’t need God, that we can sustain ourselves, and that we can tame our groaning planet.” But when a Newtown tragedy strikes, we realize that we’re not in control at all.
King David noted that “dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28). His wise son observed, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). What are your plans for the new year? Have you surrendered them to the Lord’s purpose?
David prayed: “You are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name” (1 Chronicles 29:12-13). Amen?