It’s going to look a lot more like the quote below, and a lot less like the Rapture Fever religion of the late 20th century…
Information is not material. This is clear from the fact that the same information can be conveyed by a blackboard, an email, skywriting or voice. There’s a growing realization that Information must be added to particles and forces as a fundamental entity needed to describe the universe.
The very fact that we can take the DNA code and program it with a computer shows that its essence is software – a form of complex specified information. Our human experience with software, codes and messages makes it the most rational inference that software-driven biological machines operating protein robots have an intelligent cause. This should be the death of materialism, actually. Combining these discoveries with the principle of conservation of information (i.e., that information cannot exceed its source, and degrades without intelligent proofreading and maintenance), the evidence now more strongly than ever implies that biological information has an intelligent cause greater than the effects we observe.
Those who wish to take the next step beyond science in the direction the evidence points can locate that intelligence in God. “By faith,” the author of Hebrews said, “we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” Look how modern that statement sounds. The universe was created by the word of God (information, communication), so that what is seen (material) was not made out of things that are visible. In short, the invisible information came first by the Word (logos, as in John 1:1), then the material.*
Also noteworthy in Claire O’Connell’s story was that it never mentioned evolution. Darwin is disappearing stage left as Venter, Watson and a new generation of information engineers rise to the footlights, describing life as fundamentally information-rich software. They may still be materialists, but they cannot justify materialism by their own science. As materialism dies, so will its ground of relativism and amorality. Before tinkering with the biological software, then, man with his limited knowledge and questionable wisdom had better rethink his accountability to the omniscient and all wise-Creator.
*Footnote: O’Connell’s statement about biologists sending each other the information instead of the biological material itself suggests, for Christians, an interesting possibility about the resurrection. Skeptics have scoffed at the idea of the resurrection of the dead. The biological material of a human body quickly degrades. What if a man is eaten by a shark, which is caught and eaten by a fisherman? Whose body will be raised? It’s possible your body contains the atoms of countless dead people that have been recycled through the food chain. But if the essence of the body is software, not its material substance, it is simply a matter of reconstructing the atoms from the code – analogous to how technicians can rebuild a company’s computer center at an offsite location on new hardware with backup tapes. Venter stated in his TED talk that a third of all humanity’s DNA genomes would fit on the proverbial head of a pin. For the Biblical Creator who called life into existence by His Logos, it’s no problem at all to resurrect every person’s physical body right out of the spot where it died, assembling the atoms from the code and upgrading it to Body 2.0 on the way up.
Exercise: Read I Corinthians 15:35–58 and I Thessalonians 4:13–18 with this new understanding of physical resurrection in mind. (Note to materialists: this only applies to born-again Christians. To see your resurrection fate, you need to read Revelation 20:11–15, unless you call on the Lord while he may be found; see Isaiah 55 and Romans 10:5–13).
I expect all sorts of interesting and unexpected discoveries to come online during the few decades of my remaining life. I will fear some, welcome others, and be astonished by some of the wild cards. One thing I do know: things are not going to stay the same. (And for Christians, this is welcome news indeed!)
The Future is going to be decentralized, networked, and portable. In a few decades, the very concept of some hidden (read: responsibility-shirking) Power Elite managing the economy, the press, and the schools will be so much dust in the wind. No more censorship, and a lot fewer rules and regulations – good news for Christians, indeed!
(The modern church, with it’s theology-degreed preacher, expensive church buildings, and bureaucratic structure is on the way out, too. “Mainline churches? What are those shrinking, aging, withering oddities?”)
On the other hand, self-mastery and self-discipline will be absolutely crucial to achieve anything in life. You really will be able to waste your life away in online fantasies if you wish, and it’s going to be a lot easier to do this than to get a job and serve others.
Sadly, there STILL will be no moonbases, and no FTL drives… or even interstellar STL colony ships. Sigh. Aliens from outer space ain’t happening either – besides God and the angels, of course. But when it comes to alien intelligences on Earth, organic, cybernetic, and combinations thereof… that is a distinct possibility in the next 50 or so years.
And after the next few decades? How am I supposed to know? Could a well-educated, 25-year old man of 1912 even guess what the world would be like in 1960?
The Unimaginable World of the Far Future isn’t A.D. 5625…
(a.k.a. 1105 Imperial) – it’s A.D. 2100.