Last time, I discussed some articles about "digital immortality" that were making their rounds in the news. Today, I'd like to continue on that theme by delving into whether or not knowledge is equivalent to the concept of life.
If you amass all of your thoughts, memories, and dreams and were able to transfer them somehow into a computer, would you achieve immortality? Or, to put it another way, would your personality be able to live without a body and would it still be you? What if one could add some autonomous code to the system so that your "digital personality" is able to continue to gather knowledge, generate new memories, and create dreams?
Like I mentioned previously, I don't think you would find too many people who would consider a library or even the internet "alive"...at least when compared to concept of human life. Even if you mix in some type of autonomous ability, it is doubtful it would approach human intelligence or the idea of life. Somehow, the acquisition of knowledge is just not enough, and the reason for that is because human beings are spiritual.
Although the Bible has plenty to say about spiritual matters, it also discusses a great deal about knowledge. Besides the Book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and Psalms (considered "wisdom literature"), in I Corinthians 8:1 (NKJV), it states, "Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies." From that it seems that with great knowledge can also come great pride. The Bible goes further than that, however. In Ecclesiastes 12:12 (NKJV), it says, "Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh."
To top it off, in II Timothy 3:1-9, it talks about the last days and in those verses, there is this curious statement about knowledge (verse 7) where it states people in that time will be "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." So, it seems too much knowledge can lead to pride, exhaustion, and even deception since knowledge is not always the same thing as truth.
Yet, when we compare God's knowledge with ours, we find in Romans 11:33 it reads (NKJV), "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" In Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV), it states, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
But even if a machine were built that could acquire all the knowledge of the Earth's inhabitants so that it might in some distant way attempt to approach God's knowledge, the spiritual component would still be missing. The effort, in other words, would fall woefully short. In John 4:24 (NKJV), it reads, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
So where does the idea of gathering tons of knowledge in the pursuit of digital immortality potentially lead us? Does it really lead to immortality or does it just create another library of information? Could knowledge be uploaded and then downloaded to a new, younger brain and body? Is any of this research addressing the spiritual side of humanity?
There are verses in the Bible which tie immortality and knowledge together. For example, in John 5:24 (NKJV), Jesus tells a group of Jews who were persecuting Him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." Then, a few moments later, He tells them, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."
The point here is that some sought to attain eternal life by spending their time studying the Scriptures...but missed the larger concept. The study of the knowledge (Scripture) was important, but they failed to realize what, exactly, the Scriptures were referring to and that it required faith in God. In short, faith and knowledge are supposed to work together and that the attainment of eternal life requires belief in God and not in one's own limited abilities.
Next time, in part three of this series, I'll cover another goal of digital immortality...that of trying to beat aging once and for all.