Steve Jobs, the Gospel of Technology, and the Hope of Humanity (1)

Since his passing, Steve Jobs has been called a saint, a secular prophet, and a technological evangelist.

On paper, he was just a successful CEO who designed computers and phones. No doubt one that changed not only technology but also the world. He faithfully delivered “magical” products that rarely disappointed. He turned a utilitarian object into something like a friend. One study showed that many people’s attachment to their iPhone reaches romantic levels. They experience separation anxiety if they walk out of the house without it.

Naturally people projected their love of the iPhone onto the creator of the iPhone.

But by no means is he the first to be memorialized with such religious devotion, candid scrutiny, and world-wide attention. Princess Diana and Michael Jackson both went through the same thing. To say “they” went through it isn’t altogether accurate because they weren’t alive anymore, but in another sense they did go through it because their lives were larger than the molecules that made them up.

Make no mistake about it, the veneration we are seeing in the aftermath of Jobs’ death is religious through and through – not “kinda” religious, or “pseudo” religious,” or “mistakenly” religious, but a genuine expression for many of heartfelt sacred sentiments of loss and glorification.

-Gary Laderman

Apple products gave people hope, and this became Steve Jobs’ version of the gospel. They constantly and distinctly improved, not only in technical specs but in user experience. They became less cumbersome. They began to add a fluidity to our lives that tied everything together, magically.

The hope people imbued in the evolution of iPhone became very apparent when the anticipated iPhone 5 turned out to be just a 4S. People wanted something more, new, and transformative. They hoped that technology would provide an ever-developing salvation from the aging, slowing, and decaying effects of fallen flesh. Surely a new iPhone meant new promises, new advances, new releases.

Some have seen the early apple logo as a symbolic proclamation of this gospel. A bitten apple imprinted with a rainbow. Both are Biblical allusions. The bitten fruit, a sign of man’s rebellion and fall from God’s purpose and the rainbow, a sign of God’s promise to man to keep His covenant. The combination of the two applied to a computer company logo heralds technology’s ability to annul the curse. Or even worse to convert the fall of man into a promise of improvement.

Technology promises to relieve us of the burden of being merely human, of being finite creatures in a harsh and unyielding world.

-Albert Borgmann

Technology promises that while human life may get worse, it will always get better. It certainly has made life easier. But has it caused us to misplace our hope? Has it merely masked the symptoms of a deeper illness?

The gospel of Steve Jobs may give people temporary hope or distraction from the impermanence of life, but it can’t save people.

Having been regenerated not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, through the living and abiding word of God. For “all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass has withered, and the flower has fallen off, But the word of the Lord abides forever.” And this is the word which has been announced to you as the gospel.

-1 Peter 1:23-25

The only recourse we have to our fading humanity is the living and abiding word of God. Only God’s word has the life power to enliven us and change our nature, making us living and abiding forever.

11 thoughts on “Steve Jobs, the Gospel of Technology, and the Hope of Humanity (1)

    • Thanks,
      I was reminded of Galatians 1:6 as I wrote this. “I marvel that you are so quickly removing from Him who has called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel.”

    • Thanks. I guess technology is a counterfeit new creation in a sense- revolutionary, hitherto unknown, otherworldly. Some have advocated a technological evolution resulting in humanity. But as great as it is, technology is the not the key to man’s universal happiness or a replacement of religion or man’s need for the transcendent. You can only suppress the inner emptiness for so long.

  1. awesome post Kyle! this reminds me of Hobbes’ Leviathan; his idea was that if God abandoned us then we were now free to create our own paradise here on earth without His help. Obviously that idea is not working out, but it’s just crazy how so many people are so determined to find ways to happiness and fulfillment outside of God.

    “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision”

    But we can Kiss the Son! Praise the Lord! This is our only salvation.

    • I think a sure sign that God has not abandoned us is that a man who was worth $7 billion, created magical devices, and changed the world, still wondered about God near the end of his life.

  2. You do what you love. This is so true especially when you first wake up. Like so many others, I myself am tempted to turn off my alarm (on my phone), then check my email (on my phone), then check my facebook (on my phone). Next thing I know I’ve wasted an hour. That time in the morning is prime time to redeem the time and give the Lord the first place in my day.

    http://money.msn.com/top-stocks/post.aspx?post=7c37f59c-952a-44e7-a2c2-0cae4ca8ff58

    This article is titled “Good Morning: Where’s My iPhone?” I’m going to do a blog titled “Good Morning Lord Jesus!” Check it out at drod55.wordpress.com

    • Technology is like bamboo- it’s an invasive species. Smart phones are beginning to rival God in some ways- they’re increasingly omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. As such they can begin to replace God in our experience. The time we used to give to the Lord first thing in the morning now may start going to our phone. I’ve reached for my phone in the morning before reaching God more than once.

      Don’t get me wrong. Technology can be used by the Lord for His purpose. Of course. And we need to find more ways to do this. But the other side is equally valid.

      The YouVersion Bible app has been downloaded 30 million times since it came out 4 years ago. Angry Birds has it beat by a factor of 16- the game has been downloaded 500 million times and it has only been out for 2 years.

      Can’t wait to read your post Drod!

  3. Pingback: Psalm 90: Dwelling in God to Escape Vanity « life and building

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