Have you ever noticed how the bible begins with Adam and Eve directly talking to God but that this relationship grows more distant the further you read? Moses only spoke to God through the clouds and apparitions like the burning bush. The prophets after him got dreams, and then he sent angels instead. By the time Jesus comes along, nobody has spoken to God for ages. This idea is well known and explored in Richard Elliott Friedman’s theological exegesis, “The Hidden Face of God”. Keep reading past Jesus and even the miracles dry up.
Fast forward to today, a modern earth with 7 billion people and not a peep from any god save for the explosive arguments of his followers. Nor any miracles to speak of unless the image of Jesus or Mary appearing on toast or roadside drains impresses you. Like the UFOs of the 50s and the spiritual “scientists” of the 19th and 20th century, they’ve all but vanished with the rise of digital and mobile photography and video (Funny, that).
Arthur C. Clarke famously observed “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic“. We do indeed live in perhaps the most magical period in civilised history. Assuming the “miracles” of the past were an entertaining combination of myth, legend and parlour tricks, our generation is becoming harder to impress than ever before. Sai Baba’s magic sleeve dust doesn’t cut it these days. The kids are getting smarter. There are roughly 2.1 Billion Christians in the world, but there are 6 billion mobile users, and about 2.4 billion of those are smartphones.
Here’s a list of spiritual / magic things my iPhone does that, so far, religion has been unable to replicate :
Telepathy – I can send my friend a message without moving my mouth and it gets there in seconds. Thanks to iMessage, it’s also free.
Astral Projection – Thanks to Facetime, Skype, and Google Street View (among others), I can leave my physical body and travel anywhere in the world.
Apportation & Telekenisis – The transference of an article from one place to another is now easily attained through the global postal and courier network, and my favourite source is still Amazon.com
Aura Reading – Although it’s easy enough to change someones outward glow with an Instragram filter, today the best way to discover their emotional state is to check their facebook wall.
Extra Sensory Perception & Precognition – Smartphones now bring a range of new sensory data for us to divine at a moments notice : GPS + satellite data, temperature and weather prediction, traffic data, realtime news and events. It can also measure a range of things outside our normal human capability, eg calculators, distance, levels, altitude, the position of the stars during the day etc etc.
Psychometry – ” Obtaining information about a person or object”. If you’re not sure whether a smartphone is capable of this yet, let me tell you about a little thing called Google…
Levitation – Ok as far as I know, a smartphone can’t make you fly. Nor do we have personal jetpacks at our disposal despite being 12 years into the 21st century already. Even still, I’m yet to see a yogi beat me on a Jetstar flight from Byron Bay to Sydney. It’s one hour and twelve minutes if any want to strap on a go-pro and race me.
The point is of course, that the many phenomenal things religion and spirituality claim (often dubiously) to achieve after years of personal devotion and training, are actually pretty unimpressive compared to technology is already capable of.
I can hear you gnashing your teeth already “But what about love and happiness? Edification? Awe and joy?”. Well that’s fine if you get these things through spiritual practice and adherence, but none of them are the exclusively available to the devoted. All are available to the unbeliever. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s an app for that.