Worshiping the Techno Gods
With technology, we can change the world.” I was sitting in an examining room at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, listening to my oncologist tell me about “magic bullets” and new medicines that scientists believe can eradicate many forms of cancer. “You probably won’t die of this type of cancer,” he told me. “We’ve come so far so quickly that the treatments you had are becoming obsolete.”
That was certainly good news for me. Though overjoyed with his prognosis, I couldn’t help but feel that perhaps his worldview placed a little too much faith in science.
Today many people believe knowledge can save the world. They think science and technology will conquer disease, stabilize the economy, change weather patterns, preserve our natural resources, replenish food supplies, and even abolish the struggles between nations and religious factions. To hear them tell it, we are merely a few discoveries away from solving all the problems of the universe.
According to this worldview, everything humanity needs to attain Utopia on Earth can be generated by techno wizards and scientists, people with a “can do” spirit who believe if you can dream it, you can do it. So who needs God?
Instead of worshiping the Creator, they worship the technological work of their own hands. That philosophy may well become the very heart of the message preached during the future, seven-year Tribulation.
The Techno Beast Cometh
Two distinct beasts appear in Revelation 13. Wrote the apostle John,
I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon (vv. 1, 11).
The beast from the sea is the pseudo messiah, the Antichrist. His emergence from the sea likely means he will come from the Gentile world. Bible teacher Dr. David Jeremiah explained, “The sea in biblical imagery stands for the general mass of humanity or, more specifically, the Gentile nations.”1
The second beast is the False Prophet. His advent “up out of the earth” contrasts him with the beast from the sea and may mean he is Jewish. Bible scholar J. Hampton Keathley, III, said the ground “may symbolize the nation Israel who is consistently related to the land in Scripture.”2
The False Prophet’s job is to draw worship to the first beast. Satan’s desire is to be God (Isa. 14:12–14). It appears that, in the future, his goal will come close to being realized. The False Prophet will exercise “all the authority of the first beast” and cause “the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast” (Rev. 13:12). He will instruct “those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast [Antichrist]” (v. 14). Then he is “granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (v. 15).
This feat will be accomplished through unique means.
In 1964 Walt Disney unveiled a technological marvel at the New York World’s Fair. It was a representation of Abraham Lincoln that moved, spoke, and even rose to its feet from a sitting position. Disney called this new form of animation Audio-Animatronics. Man had found a way to make an inanimate object move, talk, and exhibit facial expressions using a special form of robotics.
Today at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, you can see all types of man-made, inanimate objects miraculously come to life through Audio-Animatronics. It remains to be seen how far technology will advance before the time comes for the lifelike image of the beast to make its entrance.
The image is reminiscent of the giant statue erected by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in Daniel 3. Nebuchadnezzar commanded everyone to bow down to the image or die. This future effigy goes a step further: It will appear to be alive. The False Prophet will delude much of humanity into believing he has the power to create life. Is it a miracle, or is it science and technology?
666: The Mark of the Beast
This master deceiver eventually will force “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads” (Rev. 13:16). The mark will identify them with the Antichrist. Without it, “no one may buy or sell” (v. 17). This mark of the Beast is “the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666” (v. 18).
For decades people have speculated about this dangerous and mysterious mark. No one knows exactly what it is or how it will be applied to human flesh. In The Jeremiah Study Bible, Dr. David Jeremiah wrote the following:
Ruling powers usually have an identifying insignia—Nazi Germany had its swastika; the Soviet Union its hammer and sickle. The idea itself goes back to early history. Babylon, the first Gentile power, was symbolized by a lion with eagle’s wings (Dan. 7:4). . . . Volumes have been filled with fanciful ideas that attempt to identify this mark. Some have identified it with credit cards, computer chips, barcodes, and even names of specific people (Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein). No one can say exactly what form the mark of the Beast will take, but the number six seems to be important. . . . The number six is the number of man. Humanity was created on the sixth day and commanded to work six out of seven days. The number 666 is man’s number— tripled. . . . Perhaps the number of the Beast represents the ultimate opposition to God.3
Perhaps the number six also represents the best man has to offer—what he values and trusts in more than anything else: his ability to create new wonders of science and technology from the recesses of his own mind.
It seems that many people today almost deify science and mankind’s capacity to make the materials on Earth conform to the human will. They believe it is within their power to control life utterly, and they arrogantly defy God. The Antichrist will epitomize this spirit of arrogance and rebellion.
A Double-Edged Sword
Of course, science and technology are not inherently evil. Many advancements are good and helpful. I clearly prefer my doctor’s “magic bullet” to all the chemotherapy I was forced to endure. But neither science nor technology will conquer disease and death, though they are trying mightily. And the same technology people may depend on to save them could ultimately be used to hunt them down and destroy them.
For example, the Associated Press has reported that you can have a computer chip the size of a grain of rice implanted in your arm with vital information about your medical history that may save your life. “With the pinch of a syringe, the microchip is inserted under the skin in a procedure that takes less than 20 minutes and leaves no stitches. Silently and invisibly, the dormant chip stores a code that releases patient-specific information when a scanner passes over it.”4
Here’s the rub. These microchips also would give someone with the right scanner access to all your personal information. Ultimately, your life-saving chip could become a tracking device capable of monitoring your every move.
The Bible teaches that without the mark of the Beast, no one will be able to buy or sell. Presumably, no one would be able to receive healthcare either. It is a small step from tracking a person’s health to tracking his or her movements and then every aspect of an individual’s life.
It seems the mark is linked to the future world’s economy. Today banks can track people through use of credit and debit cards. We can be tracked from our increasingly more sophisticated cell phones and even the handy electronic toll collectors in our cars. Those who refuse the mark will find life horrendously difficult.
Unfortunately, all the world will follow the Beast and worship “the dragon [Satan] who gave authority to the beast” (Rev. 13:3–4). And the government will seek to kill anyone who worships the true and living God.
Today the world trusts more and more in its ability to solve problems; to right all wrongs; and to bring about a flawless, healthy, Utopian society. Many worship techno gods and mock the God who sits in the heavens.
Though science may help people live longer and provide more gizmos, gadgets, medicines, and conveniences, it will never be able to erase the effects of sin. People will still get sick, die, and rob and murder each other. And neither science nor technology can produce everlasting life. That province belongs exclusively to God.
In fact, many of our advancements have come with consequences. We invented ways to preserve food, but they often use harmful chemicals. We invented air conditioners, but they supposedly destroy the ozone. We invented cars, but they reportedly poison our air.
Humanity cannot heal or repair the world. That task belongs to the Lord. He will return to this planet and set things back to the way they were supposed to be:
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lᴏʀᴅ from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Isa. 2:3–4).
In that day, people will no longer worship the work of their hands: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts” (Zech. 14:16).
They will worship the God of Israel—the Messiah—who saved them.
- Dr. David Jeremiah, The Jeremiah Study Bible (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing, 2013), 1,854 n Revelation 13:1.
- J. Hampton Keathley, III, Studies in Revelation, “The Beast and the False Prophet (Rev 13:1–18)” <tinyurl.com/Bible-org-JHK>.
- Jeremiah, “FYI: The Mark of the Beast,” 1,855.
- The Associated Press, “FDA approves computer chip for humans,” NBCNews.com, October 13, 2004 <tinyurl.com/ricechip>.