A mere half-century ago most of us might have smirked at the suggestion that the day really would come when the whole world would be ruled by a single human being or a small cluster of elites, a global oligarchy.
People who took literal prophecies from the Bible about such things were regarded as fanatics easily led by sensationalist preachers of doom.
In recent years, however, the possibility of global elites dominating throughout the world has become plausible.
Perhaps now we even can know what such an oligarchy of the elite might look like.
“There is a power structure in this country,” wrote Sohrab Ahmari on April 5 in The American Conservative. This is “a tangle of private capital, managerial interests, and governmental authority...that has become adept at seeing off challengers.”[i]
In previous columns, I have described this as a “consensus establishment” comprised of entertainment, information, academic, political, and corporate elites. They converge into a general agreement about what the rest of us should believe and value and propagandize that worldview non-stop. They marginalize, or, worse, cancel us when we refuse to comply.
Wars make many vulnerable and willing to receive leadership that is strong enough to stop killing and maiming. Desperation forces people to settle for even greater threats if the looming disasters burst upon the existential moment.
It was this intensifying angst that we are observing in our era that prompted me to author a book about artificial intelligence and the “looming spiritual crisis” rapidly developing technologies may present sooner rather than later.
The proliferation of the machines, their startling abilities, and entrancing presences make us all vulnerable to the belief systems wired into them. People who have no sense of Transcendence in their hearts and minds are the most susceptible.
“Babylon,” as presented in the Bible book of Revelation, is the world system organized without and even in defiance of God. It is the human attempt to recover through human means the lost Paradise that was Eden before the entry of evil.
“Babylon” is an apt symbol for that world system because human hands have tried to restore Eden on their own terms. The effort ranges from Nimrod to those who built Babel’s tower, to Nebuchadnezzar aiming to construct and then energize the human-built kingdom with his own glory. The struggle to recover paradise through human effort extends to modern social movements that try to build the perfect world in their image, from the 18th-century French revolution to Communism to movements of the Right, including Fascism and Naziism, and many many more.
To pull off their schemes they must drug people. Thus, the Book of Revelation speaks of the “seductions” of Babylon, the world system. In fact, Revelation 18:23 describes this allurement as “sorcery” that deceives whole nations — whole people groups.
The Greek word translated “sorcery” is pharmakeia from which we get “pharmaceuticals” and other terms. The appeal of the elitist-ruled world system is powerful because it makes addicts of people, causing us to crave the imagery and the spiritual, mental, and emotional stimulations of modern Babylon.
My concern in my book, Who Will Rule The Coming ‘gods’: The Looming Spiritual Crisis of Artificial Intelligence, was not so much the machines as the human beings who wire into the devices a set of values, boundaries, and worldview
The survival of the human race might hinge on the kinds of worldviews that shape the logic.[ii]
One hopes the creators of all the alluring platforms of public interaction will awaken to their responsibility as arenas that facilitate widespread conversation rather than propaganda machines of the global elite.
It’s not the devices that ought to be at the center of concern, but the mighty people who create them in their image and have no sense of accountability to any ‘God’ than themselves.
The problem we struggle with is the inconvenient truth that God has put “eternity” in our hearts. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) We immerse ourselves in the intoxicants of Babylon, but discover that we are still not satisfied, and seek more...and more.
This is what the elites vie with one another to meet. Franklin Graham is not talking mere religion but reality when he says that our only hope is in God. Otherwise, we succumb to the seductions of Babylon and become slaves to those who would the be lords of our lives, nations, and cultures.
Wallace Henley is a former White House and Congressional aide. He is now a teaching pastor at Grace Church, The Woodlands, Texas. Wallace is author of more than 20 books, including God and Churchill, and his newest, Who Will Rule the Coming 'gods: The Looming Spiritual Crisis of Artificial Intelligence.