Would he or wouldn’t he?

Technology makes things possible.  This is why some of you are reading these words on your way to work on the train, some are reading them the other side of the world and others may read them in print.  That technology makes things possible is also the principle which underlies the most advanced surgical procedures in the world, the best rescue equipment in the world as well as the most sophisticated weaponry in the world!  Not only this, but there is a law of increasing necessity and diminishing satisfaction which runs parallel to the technological race track.  What do I mean by that?  Once a thing becomes possible, it then becomes necessary, and once it has become necessary it then becomes vital.  Once it becomes vital you must join in or lose out.  Furthermore, the older ways of doing things quickly appear outmoded, unappealing and clunky.

When games designer Peter Molyneux unveiled his virtual boy ‘Milo’ at the Technology, Design and Entertainment conference in Oxford recently, there was much admiration for the product.  It is undoubtedly a technological marvel.  This virtual human being is developed with a kind of artificial intelligence which can interact on all sorts of levels with the real human the other side of the screen.  It can interpret and mimic facial gestures and develop a kind of relationship with those who play with it.  Am I the only one to feel, however, that these words from its inventor are incredibly sad: ‘films, TV, even hallowed books are rubbish because they don’t involve me – it’s a sea of blandness’.

Meanwhile, global phenomenon Facebook has passed an important milestone with its 500 millionth user.  It has certainly come a long way since its inception as “connectU” on a campus in 2004.  Updating your Facebook status has become as much a part of daily life for some as opening the curtains or brushing your teeth.  The widening of your circle of Facebook friends has become a mission for some, with some describing the “evangelism” which goes on to sign others up.  Meanwhile, poor old face-to-face friendship must tag along behind – with its geographical and temporal limitations.

Someone somewhere has doubtless posed the question as to whether Jesus would be your friend on Facebook.  I would answer a resounding “no” to that question.  A virtual messiah, a bit like a virtual friend or a virtual playmate just won’t do.  The principle underlying the incarnation was that only the personal touch would do – and for that I am grateful.

This article will also appear on the website of Teddington Baptist Church, at http://bit.ly/deEMZB