Admission

Kevin Kelly writes about technology. His book What Technology Wants is a sweeping look at technology as an entity. Our technology is bigger than we are, he argues. The entire sphere of human technology, taken as a whole and considered across history, is advancing along a trend line that existed before we did. Particularly in the book’s sixth chapter, he argues that matter has an inherent tendency toward the emergence of life, and that life has an inherent tendency toward the emergence of mind. These two tendencies together are part of one big ascending trend, he argues, and the ongoing advance of technology is now following this single great arrow in the same direction. Heady stuff.

Yet as I read these big ideas, I encounter a lack that circumscribes what they say and makes them unnecessarily small. A line of questioning is obvious to me that seemingly is not obvious to the author, because the book doesn’t consider it. That line of questioning goes something like this:

1. If we find big patterns in the world, patterns that are bigger than we are, then what is the source of those patterns? If the tendencies Mr. Kelly has seen are real, if they have waited within the world to exert their push, then how did those tendencies get there?

2. Everything made of matter is in decline. That is, everything decays or collapses, except when some being acts upon it to maintain or improve it. But the move from matter to life is a move to a higher-order state. Ditto, the move from life to mind is a move to a higher-order state. Since these advances are moving in the direction opposite from decline, don’t they suggest an action being taken? Don’t they suggest a choice being made?

3. Who, then, is making this choice?

4. And can we know this being?

The lack of attention to God within an inquiry that ought to point to God is not a willful omission. At least, it’s not necessarily so. I once would have ignored this line of questioning myself. I would have assumed that questions like these are pointless because the inquiry can only pixelate at the boundary of such questioning.

That’s not a logical assumption. God, in fact, can be sought. However, the mind is clouded. As the Bible describes it, and as perhaps you have experienced, part of the transformation of a calling into faith is a renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2). God is the one who does this unclouding, and indeed, God is the one who issues that very call (John 6:44). Since we can’t take credit for coming to see something more, I don’t see how we can fault anyone who doesn’t see the same way.

In my new book, I titled the first chapter, “We Admit That He Is There.” Though that admission is simple (or perhaps because it is so simple), I don’t believe we ever make it until the Spirit first draws our attention near enough to do so. He admits us first.

If I am right about that, then the moment of seeing is not our triumph and not even our choice, really, but instead his gift.

Until then, though the unrenewed mind might be brilliant, though the intelligence might range across all it sees, what it sees is nevertheless curtailed, because our human tendency is to avoid looking in the direction of the divine.