In my previous piece, I asserted that God is embedded in what I describe as the Non-corporeal Human Exoskeleton (NHE) – for lack of a better description, a structure that human beings have evolved over eons and that permeates all facets of our existence.
I’m indebted to futuristic writer Kevin Kelly for much of this insight. Kelly envisions a similar process occurring with technology – what he calls the technium – which has grown in tandem with human evolution. Indeed, the technium has undergone such a rapid evolution that it now may be on the verge of attaining a consciousness that surpasses its human counterpart.
Several times throughout the book, Kelly states explicitly that technology – that is to say, the technium – comprises a sort of exoskeleton. Cooking, for example, essentially has supplied humanity with a second stomach.
I simply carry Kelly’s argument a step further: Virtually everything that we have achieved comprises this exoskeleton, though much of it – language, ethics, morality, law and religion, for example – is intangible.
In response to my previous post a friend asked if this God, this embedded God of the human exoskeleton, resembles the deistic god of Franklin and Jefferson. Or does it resemble more a formless, nonrealistic God of a nontheist thinker, such as Don Cupitt?
All we can state with certainty is that there is been some kind of human hunger for the transcendent since the beginning of time. We want to know our purpose for being here, our sense of value as human beings, and the ultimate destiny of ourselves and our relatives. In many cultures, this yearning for transcendence has been personified in gods or, comparatively more recently in our history, a single God.
Likewise, it appears that through language, we have essentially uploaded this through a sort of cloud, which I consider roughly synonymous with the exoskeleton I described in the previous essay. In other words, we have used language and the relatively more recent invention of writing to share our evolving notions of transcendence – God, if you will – with future generations of humans. Mind you, this cloud started out quite primitive. Consequently, our evolving views of God occurred slowly, painstakingly, and were disrupted by all manner of human upheavals – war, famine, disease, etc. – throughout much of history.
Even so, the remarkable thing to me, as I point out in the previous essay, is that our views on transcendence, as they have been uploaded onto the cloud, have become so refined over time that they have begun making increasing and more nuanced demands with each generation. We are compelled to act in certain ways because of this embedded transcendence.
There is another interesting characteristic associated with the NHE that is worth sharing with my readers. A couple of weeks ago, I pointed out to a beloved cousin that she, donned in an evening dress, could travel through a time portal to 19th century to attend an evening party among the British nobility without raising nary an eyebrow. That’s because she is lean, long-limbed and very blond and fair-skinned. She looks like a descendant of the old Norman French-derived ruling stock that ruled the fortunes of Britain well into the 20th century.
I, on the other hand, would look like an anomaly because of my dark eyes, thick truck and rather proportionately short limbs. That’s because I resemble far more a British peasant than a member of the ruling class. Yet – and here is the other fascinating side to all of this – if I traveled through time to a British dockyard dressed in a stevedore’s outfit, I would have a hard time fitting in too, because even though I resemble more a peasant than an aristocrat, I have a soft, pliable face and hands as well as a full and highly functional set of teeth. I also happen to be overweight. Consequently, it’s likely that many of these dockworkers would confuse me as some sort of spy dispatched by the management to observe their levels of efficiency and output.
And why is that? Why do I have soft, pliable skin and healthy teeth, despite the fact that I’m likely descended from generations of British working stock? Why would I likely be perceived as a member of the management rather than as a common stevedore?
It can be attributed to quite a few things: advances in farm production; breakthroughs in water treatment; industrialization; democratization and the subsequent empowerment of the laboring classes through public schooling and the increasing access to higher education that followed; immense technological advances, particularly indoor heating and air-conditioning; a host of cultural changes, including an emphasis on daily bathing and hygiene; and, finally but no less significant, huge strides in the medical and dental sciences.
That is one of the things that got me reflecting on how human beings have constructed a sort of non-corporeal exoskeleton that has transformed us in ways that we can’t even begin to recount adequately. And the remarkable thing is that we not only benefit from this structure but we also are in dialogue with it.
And adding an another compelling layer to all of this, the strong case could be made that this exoskeleton may be on the verge of acquiring some sort of rudimentary consciousness. And in order for us not to be consumed by this exoskeleton, we may deem it necessary to undergo some kind of technological transformation that enables us to merge with it.
In a very literal sense, we may end up not only merging with this exoskeleton but also with God – or, to express it another way, with the projection of God that has been uploaded to this exoskeleton over eons.
I suppose that is why it is difficult for me to label myself an atheist or even an agnostic. Our hunger for transcendence – God – has played too integral a role in human existence. By becoming deeply embedded in our exoskeleton and, in the course of which, by making demands on us and teasing out those qualities that define our very nature as human beings, God has played an indispensable role in our evolution as a species.
In that respect, Tillich’s famous phrase that God is the very “ground of our being” strikes me as a bit of an understatement. Through our exoskeleton, we are connected with God to a degree that transcends Tillich’s characterization. We are not only anchored by God but we are also suffused by Him to a degree that surpasses words.
Granted, one could make the case, perhaps that strong case, that the God embedded in the human exoskeleton is merely a human projection, uploaded across eons and refined over time. Yet, how can we characterize something as integral to human existence and development as a mere projection?
Could it imply something even more significant?
Perhaps we will gain some clearer picture of all of this through contact with intelligent extraterrestrials or even as we merge our consciousness with our exoskeleton. By then, perhaps, we will discern some kind of convergence evident throughout the cosmos.
As trite as it may sound within this context, all I can say is stay tuned.