“Jesus Is King”. Kanye West boldly titled the new album he dropped last week. In a valiant attempt to revitalize Christianity in modern America, Kanye’s tracklist was filled line to line with realness, gospel and hope.
However, according to results from a recent poll conducted by Pew Research Center, religion is losing its relevance. Americans identifying as Christian have decreased by 12% between 2008-2019, while those identifying as non-religious have increased by 10%. Fewer people are believing in God. More people are choosing nothing.
Maybe people who are choosing “nothing” are believing in technology rather than God. Is it possible that the rise of digital relevance is causing religious irrelevance?
Every day it seems like a phone can do something new. Back in 2008, cell phones were limited. They could only call, text, held eight gigabytes of storage, two-megapixel camera and a sliding keyboard – during this time, that was basically revolutionary. In 2019, cell phones have vastly advanced to smartphones that provide unlimited internet search, hundreds of gigs, 12-megapixel camera, streaming abilities, navigation, location services, step counting, predictive capabilities, wallet, facial recognition, thumbprint ID, etcetera, etcetera.
Today, people are almost completely dependent on these features for three main reasons: social life, knowledge and the future. Want friends? Go to Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. Need to know something? Google it. Want to know where you’ll be next Monday? Check your digital calendar. What about in an hour? Check Waze. Have a problem? Check the App store or social media. Want to know your future? Siri can predict your words. Need something? Ads know what you like. The list of omniscient abilities goes on. There is almost nothing you want that your all-powerful phone can’t help you get.
What’s interesting is that people have traditionally been dependent on religion for the same three reasons as they are now reliant on technology: Social life, knowledge and the future. Following the same pattern – want friends? Go to church. Want knowledge? Read the Bible. Want your future? Pray. Ask God. It’s a much slower process with fewer answers and more work in comparison to technology’s high-speed answers on demand.
Not to sound like a Boomer or anything, but tech is permeating our lives and possibly determining our existence. While that might sound over the top, it’s true! It doesn’t stop at just our phones. We have a variety of gadgets we love to run out and buy, such as smartwatches, smart speakers in addition to Google Glass and drones for example.
There’s even biometric tech we are being conditioned to, such as “CLEAR” at the airport, which is a retina (eye) scan that identifies you. In Sweden, people are implanting RFID chips (microchips) that embed their complete identities and financial information. The more time goes by, the smaller tech gets, the more inseparable from us it’s becoming.
Not only is tech everywhere around us, but rather than us controlling it, are we letting it control us? The American Psychological Association has found that suicide rates jumped to 30% since 2000, increasing about 2% each year from 2006-2016. Is it possible that the rise of technology is in part responsible? If so, that would indicate a lack of God is, therefore, a correlation of these rising suicide rates.
What technology has to offer is deceptively limitless. Whereas, God has set intentional limits to the knowledge we should have. It begs the question of why we should believe in God when we have what seems like infinite information at our fingertips. However, there is a difference between spiritual knowledge and physical worldly knowledge. A spiritual battle people constantly go through in faith is that they want to know more in their timing than what God will tell them. Technology can quickly quench some of that thirst for spiritual knowledge, with little worldly knowledge. There’s no need for God when the internet can tell us what we want, when we want it. Social media can give us the affirmation we want to hear faster than God will.
Think about it this way and technology sounds way more convenient than the hassle of religion. It seems as if tech is fulfilling our desire for a higher power therefore demolishing the relevance for God.
However, the difference is this: technology can’t decide our eternal future and it can’t forgive us.
Glorifying technology is shortsighted as it is only temporarily satisfying to our physical future in life. Its inanimate nature is useless when it comes to resolving matters of the soul, the decision between right and wrong and our judgment. It can’t heal or give lasting peace and comfort. Only God’s love that is found in His wisdom and words can do that. Technology is basically just a band-aid, but God is the ultimate cure. The sooner we depend less on technology and more on God to fill the voids in our emotional and spiritual well-being, the sooner we can help other people struggling internally as and maybe even save another person’s life.