Awhile ago I posted an article about how Google is like God: omniscient, omnipresent, omni-etc. The alpha and the omega. Here is a link to the church of google. I’ve also pointed out what Christians, or God, should think about the iphone (What does God think about the iPhone?), and explored what the iPhone means for people who enjoy the untethered freedoms of faithless living (Is the iPhone Satanic?)
But it’s all been hearsay, as I’ve only had the opportunity so far to own an iTouch. In fact, my previous articles actually give witness to my consumer interest in joining the hive and staying cool by getting an iphone of my own. HOWEVER – the iphone is so superfluous now, so awesome, so everywhere, that it’s not hip anymore. It’s not independent. Sure it kicks ass and can do anything, but when the day of reckoning came I went instead with an HTC Aria with Google’s Android OS 2.1 – hence the title of this article.
But don’t be misled by the title: the final conclusion will not be that my HTC Aria phone IS better than God, and I will explain why. At the same time, there are many areas where the 3G, GPS, WiFly capabilities mixed with the many incredible apps in the Android marketplace make “God” look like outdated technology. So let’s get started.
What is God?
First of all, we need to ask what is God. What does he stand for or represent? What human roles has he fulfilled in the past?
A) God is the answer to any problem, the man behind the curtain, the eternal referent for anything humans can’t understand.
B) God is the controller of natural forces, the sender of rains and earthquakes, the rewarder and punisher who must be appeased.
C) God is the comforter for the lonely, the always present invisible friend.
D) God is inspiration, the feel-good-feeling you get when you see a rainbow or sunset, the love you feel towards children and cute animals.
What I won’t add to this list is “God is the answer to prayers”. Anybody who knows anything about God knows that he rarely answers prayers – his excuse is that he ‘knows what’s best for us’ and gives us the right challenges for us to learn from. But in practice, God is not what gets us what we want – we are on our own. You could say that God is the Void where everything happens, where we are given the opportunity and willpower to create what we want through hard work and discipline.
To sum up: God is basically everything about humanity that it’s impossible to quantify… he’s that “otherness” that humans still feel, and call ‘spirituality’, but which can’t be demonstrated or proved. He is, therefore, not very practical. He doesn’t “DO” anything; he is just a concept that convenient wraps up all the loose ends (and any concept, such as the Flying Spaghetti monster, could do this just as neatly without all the cultural baggage).
7 Things my new HTC Aria cell phone can do that God can’t.
1) It tells me where I am, and where I’m going
With Google Maps + GPSI can sit in my house, click open the application, get a satellite/bird’s eye view of my continent, and zoom in until I see my street and my exact location. using other apps I can see exactly where all my friends are at the same time. If I plug in an address, it will give me exact directions, whether I’m on foot, in a car or bicycling.
2) It’s Omniscient
Connect to my service and I have all the power of internet in my hands. I can find anything about anything. All the facts and information and history of the world, instantly, immediately.
3) It helps me to be a better person
Being a good person is all about habits. Like the Iphone, there are tons of productivity apps which help me get more done, achieve my goals, and keep myself motivated.
4) It can find and contact anyone.
A regular old phone is pretty amazing in itself; but my HTC automatically finds phone numbers for everybody I know on Facebook, Yahoo, or anywhere else and puts them in my phonebook. If I don’t have someone’s number – even if I haven’t talked to them in 20 years – I can probably track them down, get a number and give them a call.
5) It keeps me entertained.
I hate waiting. If for some reason I’m stuck in a line, on a bus, in a class, and dying of boredom, there are tons of fun things I can do on my HTC. I use it for games, studying Chinese, surfing the web, etc.
6) It keeps me company.
Ok, it’s not really the phone – it’s the ability to be connected, all the time. Facebook is the ultimate cure for loneliness. With Facebook, MSN, Myspace etc, there is always someone new to get to know and chat with all the time; so you never have a moment to be alone with yourself and feel that empty void that people fill with God. Unless you’re away from your computer… then the HTC can really save the day.
7) It takes pictures
I remember when I bought my first digital camera about 14 years ago. 2.1MP, and that was pretty good back then. Now, they put this feature into everything and people forget that photography is not very old and pretty awesome. See something I like that I want to remember? Want to share the cafe I’m sitting in or the sunset I’m watching with my family? Take a movie of my niece’s first steps and put it directly on Facebook or Youtube? I can do all that. I can even scan documents and save them as PDF.
8) It answers my Prayers
Yes, it does. Let’s say I want something in my life. I can either a) Go on ebay and buy it, right away, and get it sent to me or b) find a resource to teach me how to get it. Information really is power.
Must people, myself included, aren’t going to use all the features on an Aria HTC phone or an iphone. But we CAN – and in those rare moments when all Hell breaks lose, the sky falls, the world is ending, our symbolic order crashes, when normally we’d be stuck, helpless, face with insurmountable dilemmas and no-one to turn to, those moments when usually we’d turn to God, instead we can probably figure out how to solve the problem, or else whine on Facebook and get tons of sympathy comments. Who needs God anymore?
HOWEVER, at the same time, an argument must be made for preserving the possibility of a spiritual Truth which can only be reached with effort. Mystics and religious folk have always talked about a supernatural moment of connection and understanding. It usually comes after years of meditation, fasting, prayer, proper diet and exercise, drug use, etc. It is possible that this place is only accessible to seekers, and that the HTC is yet another distraction from what is real. It is also possible that, by putting the internet on my phone, I’ve allowed the Power Discourse (Foucault) to reach even deeper into my life, in a kind of biopower ethics that grows throughout my entire being. The HTC makes this life and all the shit I try to do more practical… but maybe we all need to pull a Walden and get the heck out of town.