The singularity and the Tree of Knowledge
Faith and reason: the Singularity from a biblical perspective
Since the Garden of Eden, when man first ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, to the collapse of reason during the Dark Ages, to the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason, to the modern day of information technology, man’s mind has functioned in a profound ambiguity. Humanity has been simultaneously captivated and perplexed by the marvels created by our intelligence and the destructive ends to which this cognitive faculty have been put to use throughout history.
The mammalian nature of the human brain has created the bifurcated structure, in which the neo-cortex—the rational mind—coexists with the primitive instinctive impulses of the mammalian brain. These impulses direct humans for basic survival needs, such as seeking food, sex, and social status within the group, and they regulate herd behavior. Rational cognition, the defining attribute of the human species, has always been hampered in dealing with this symbiotic relationship between reason and unconscious urges and the feelings caused by these instincts.
Western philosophy has sought to reconcile reason and free will with the unconscious psychological influences on the human mind. In 1929, futurist and scientist John Bernal published the book, The World, the Flesh & the Devil: An Enquiry into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul, in which he defines, from a secular worldview, the impediments of human progress. Bernal states that the modern man has made progress in dealing with the world, the unintelligent forces of nature, and with the flesh, healing the body from disease, but has failed to conquer the “devil,” the unconscious motives that drive our life and give us meaning and purpose. These same unconscious motives in the Christian tradition are what subjugate the reason, or logos and spirit, to uncontrolled instincts and impulses of the body and are referred to as Original Sin. Redemption from sin of the world and the flesh is at the core of messianic expectation of end times in the Judeo-Christian faith.
The fact that modern science was developed from the philosophical worldview of Hebrew Scripture can be historically established and substantiated. The father of modern science was Isaac Newton, a devout English Puritan, who studied the natural laws of the universe from the perspective of a deeply held conviction in the monotheistic worldview of a Creator of order in nature. The Genesis story of creation, wherein God creates the world through speech, or language as information, is the fundamental philosophy of language of the Hebrew Bible.
It is the Aristotelian worldview, which is rooted in pagan Greek cosmology, and which dominated the study of biology in the West until the nineteenth century, that views the universe as eternal and unchanging. Only after the English Puritans, like Locke, had studied the philosophy of the Hebrew Bible during the Enlightenment was this static conception of the cosmos transformed into one of constant evolution and progression in the process of creation in both order and complexity. Charles Darwin was raised in a devoutly Christian Unitarian family that believed in the Creator of all living things. The neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, which states that information encoded in the genes is the language of the creation of life, emerges from and, in fact, substantiates the biblical philosophy of language.
In the twenty-first century, the next stage in the evolution of the human species and human civilization will be experienced in the greatest transformation since the emergence of the Homo sapiens, the rational man. According to futurist Ray Kurzweil, in just a few decades, man will transcend his biological limitations and merge with artificial intelligence in what he declares will be the technological singularity, or simply the Singularity. This will equip the Western mind to transcend and to escape from the destiny prescribed to it according to the patterns directed by the limbic system. The biblical faith in the transcendent Creator has led mankind to transcend itself, creating the great Western civilization. The struggle to liberate the human mind, starting with Abraham in ancient Sumer is still taking place, and the stakes are higher than ever. Man, created in the image of the transcendent God, is now creating the tools to enhance the capacity of his own mind and become a fully rational human being, transcending the limits of his mammalian, biological nature. Homo sapiens will finally become fully rational and hence fully human, realizing his destiny to subdue nature as first depicted in Genesis in the Story of Creation.
The information revolution of the modern world actually began thousands of years ago when Abraham, coming from the Sumerian city of Ur, originated the monotheistic worldview, the creation of order through language and natural law. In Western Civilization, this revolution is reaching its next, revolutionary phase: the Singularity, an end-times vision when human reason will transcend biology, and pure reason, the spirit, will conquer the “flesh and the devil.”