The Digitalization of the Faithful

...like that, especially if AIs become involved and start changing what is written automatically. An AI may be able to change a pdf, but it can’t change a print copy....

In a previous article on the digitalization of man, I took a general look at the attempt in the secular world to recreate reality in its own increasing delusional and horrific image. It’s one thing to speak about propaganda that attempts to hide truth from people (modern corporate media becoming experts at it) and yet another thing when other trusted sources of information are altered in hidden ways to attempt to support that false propaganda. But it’s another thing entirely when people themselves begin to create havens from which they can escape reality.

While one can say that this has been an issue deep into our past with drugs and alcohol, it’s another thing entirely when one can become engrossed in a virtual world in which most of the rules of reality no longer apply, losing touch with the real world, and at times wondering which is really the real world. How does this latest attempt to rewrite reality relate to the faithful?

One can say, at the most basic level, that sin itself is our earliest attempt to do this. The greatest delusion of all is the original sin of pride, in which the first beings to sin thought that they could do something better than God. One could go further and say that every heresy is an attempt to rewrite reality in a way. 

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In earlier parts of this series, I mentioned the gnostic heresy. In gnostic writings, one sees a complete inversion of the Bible in which the God of the Old Testament is seen as a bumbling idiot of a creator who ruined a perfect existence by badly creating the material world, causing all the pain and suffering in which we exist. The goal of this group in general (variations existing amongst the various groups that have taken up this philosophy over time) is to escape this world and to return to that true existence which preexisted this fake world, returning to the true god, Sophia, from which the God of the Old Testament, whom they call the demiurge, went away from to create this world.  

In this false worldview, Jesus was nothing more than an agent of Sophia who came to give a select few the special knowledge they would need in order to escape this world. Not only that, but in their view Jesus and Christ were two separate beings who inhabited the same body, Christ existing in Jesus as a demon in a possessed person, leaving ahead of the Crucifixion, leaving Jesus to die alone for things He didn’t say or do.  

It’s a heresy that has reappeared many times in slightly different forms throughout the history of the Church, as most heresies do. It has become popular once again as more of their lost texts have been found and as people increasingly seek an escape from a world full of pain and suffering—a world that is unintelligible and unreasonable thanks to a loss of faith in God and a resulting lack of purpose in life beyond escaping the pain of it all. This all sits beside modern dreams that frequently come out in science fiction of people downloading their minds into “better” artificial bodies at first and then finally “digitally ascending” to a higher plane of existence of some sort, “digitally ascending” from the material world to the non-corporeal, and perhaps even immaterial world, living out the gnostic dream.

This may seem all kinds of crazy (and it is), but that is what happens when we begin to separate ourselves from reality. Since the spiritual world, as we are taught about in the biblical texts, requires us to control ourselves and act in ways our minds, dimmed from sin, many times don’t want to, many seek to create their own place to go that is different than that and which follows their own lacking vision of an ultimately good eternity. Those with a material view of the world, after all, see Heaven as fulfillment of their material wants rather than the fulfillment of their spiritual needs. 

This becomes a great problem for those who seek to follow God when so many others, seeing the world in material terms, seek to rewrite religious beliefs and practices to fit their material view of what should be instead of seeking to find the truth about reality and follow God and find far greater joy than their materialist minds could ever comprehend.  

In the current world, we see this battle occurring both at the lay and the clerical levels. It’s one thing to see some group of Ph.D.s who think they know far more about the world then they actually do uttering blasphemies and heresy, but it goes to a whole other level when the person doing it is a group of bishops (such as those in the German synod of bishops who called for the Church to change her Doctrine on many things, something that is actually not at all possible to do. But I digress).  It’s one thing to see some group of Ph.D.s who think they know far more about the world then they actually do uttering blasphemies and heresy, but it goes to a whole other level when the person doing it is a group of bishops.Tweet This

While those of us who know more about the Doctrines of the Faith and what good resources from the past one can point to about the truths of the Faith—such as Ott, Denzinger, the Baltimore Catechism, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, and others—most today have never heard of these things. One can try modern sources, but when generally good resources such as Catholic Answers are at times afraid to speak about or contradict false things said by clergy, and when other sources that seem solid at first to those who don’t know better like to take quotes constantly out of context (to the point that  one can see some clip of theirs in context and immediately see that it doesn’t mean what they say it did) to twist them in ways that make the particular talking head look like a smart fighter for a cause in an attempt to get high ratings (and many video likes), it can be hard to know what’s true and what’s not.

A growing point of importance in keeping the faith is keeping hard copies of sources. I recently received an electronic copy of a few chapters of Peter Kwasniewski’s book Treasuring the Goods of Marriage in a Throwaway Society, a pretty solid book, and a good read I soon hope to have a full copy of. Saving it to my computer, I can be fairly certain that nothing in it is going to change reading to reading as it is a pdf rather than an electronically accessed writing from a source like Kindle or such. I’m not saying Kindle alters its books (yet) over time, but as things shift as companies and individuals become more woke over time, one has to be ready for a risk like that, especially if AIs become involved and start changing what is written automatically. An AI may be able to change a pdf, but it can’t change a print copy.

We live in a world in which many people with strong calls to the clergy and religious life are turned away because their love of God is too great to simply go along with the modern (failing) materialistic narrative of what the modern religious should be. This is also a world in which most institutions of higher (and lower for that matter) learning turn away faithful teachers of the Faith because what they believe is also too far from the modern narrative of what should be. 

This, at times, includes churches who have some form of leadership that either doesn’t like faithful teachings in general or simply doesn’t like complaints from those who care enough to still both give money to the Church and show up occasionally to church on Sunday. It doesn’t help when uncatechized or undercatechized parents are sending children with no interest in the Faith to uncatechized or undercatechized Sunday School teachers who are many times there because no one else wanted to do the job.  

All of this can quickly get dark, as you’ve seen here, if you spend too much time thinking about it. It is, however, the inevitable result of a situation in which the long-running decay of the view of the human person meets up with a time of laxity and loss of faith within the earthly members of the Church. This isn’t to say that we are without hope though. God is always seeking us out, even if we are confused about things in one way or another in regard to Him. 

Seek the truth and seek to cultivate a deep spiritual life. While books like The Three Ages of the Interior Life by Rev. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, or his simplified The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life, or the more recent Fire Within by Fr. Thomas Dubay are good places to start for a general understanding of the spiritual life, the best thing one can do is cultivate a life of increasing virtue and love of God and neighbor. After all, while knowing the truth is of the utmost importance, even more important is living that truth. Jesus didn’t speak too highly of the lukewarm after all.  

Only in showing others that there is a better way—and that we know that better way—can we begin to soften their hearts to the actual Truth so that they would be willing to listen to it. God could come down to every person in physical form and try to evangelize them if He wanted to, but He called us to go out into the world and make disciples. After reading what I have written, hopefully you know a little more that will help you in this call we all have.

Author

  • Christopher Lippold

    Christopher Lippold is a lifelong Catholic with a Masters Degree in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles in Cromwell, CT. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology and a minor in Philosophy from Northern Illinois University.

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