12 July 2012

Gadgets that Changed the World or Why Popular Mechanics Reads the Gospel According to John

Scroll down to see what I mean or read the intro to set it up.

I was asked to write about Popular Mechanics’ list of 101 Gadgets That Changed the World and the first thing that popped in my head was, “In the beginning was the word and the word was made flesh...” Not being a religious person despite years of Catholic education, I had to google the verse to see which book it’s from.

First off, I found out that I was wrong with my verse. Between “In the beginning…” and “the word was made flesh..” were 14 verses. It wasn’t just one sentence I believed it was for years and years. Second, the verse was from the Gospel According to John in the New Testament. And third, why is there a bible verse floating in my mind?

It can be gleamed that the random verse I picked up on had something to do with the gadgets in question. The 4 of the top 5 devices have something to do with communication; the PC, TV, radio, and the cellphone.

And there it was, we build things that help us communicate. Communicate across time, communicate across distance, and with the help of translation programs, communicate across language. In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was made digital.
From the printing press to the telegraph, from telegraph to telephone, from telephone to email; our evolution is always linked to a jump in communication technology. Wasn’t the Bible, the first book to be printed? And once again, I am back to The Word.
At this point, we are already near the boundaries of communication technology. Everything is within reach and is immediate. We can know all about the migratory habits of the North American Geese at the touch of a finger. We can email a scientist in the North Pole at the blink of an eye. We can even read a chapter of the New Testament at the push of a button.

Maybe, just maybe, because we are at the farthest we can go, we feel we can go no further?

Maybe that’s why thoughts of the end of the world are sprouting up everywhere.
“When Alexander the Great saw the breadth of his empire, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer”. I didn’t get that from ancient Greek historian Plutarch. I got it from Hans Gruber, Die Hard.

Are we as humans, constantly craving to communicate faster than we can every time? In the next 30 years, what innovation will we bring to further evolve communication, far advanced as it is now? It makes me really wonder. Do we have implants in our heads then? Will we be forever bound in a pod that connects us to a depersonalized world? Or can we communicate volumes with just the look of the eye?
Now back to the Gospel According to John. As a flight of fancy, the conspiracy theorist in me, decided to juxtapose the top 14 gadgets in ascending order with the 14 verses of John:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 He was in the beginning with God.

3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

Dry Cell Battery
4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

Light Bulb
5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Alarm Clock
6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.

8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.

Portable Air Conditioner
9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

Personal Computer
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

Hypodermic Syringe
11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

To be honest, I got a kick out of this. Who knew John 2000 years ago read the minds of the editors of Popular Mechanics? Or did the people of PM read John and tried to fit the gadgets to the word?
Regardless, our world is always changing. But each step forward, we all have one innate trait that pushes us forward and upward; we want to talk and we want to be heard.