Gary: Now, Religion in the News. This week’s item is from Dr. Dean Edell’s webpage HealthCentral, with the headline, “A Devil in the Disk Drive, and no, we don’t mean Microsoft. ‘I’m not a real fan of computers, and on occasion have almost thrown mine out a window, but I never considered them possessed by the devil,’ a notion a Georgia minister is admonishing from the pulpit. This particular clergyman says parishioners who are happily married have been drawn to pornographic websites, where they’ve seen abominations and foul, debasing language that has threatened their households.
“‘Even worse,’ Reverend Jim Peasboro says, ‘he logged onto one machine and an artificial intelligence program talked directly to him, mocking his role as a minister and spouting a stream of obscenities and what appeared to be gobble-de-gook, but upon analysis was a 2,000-year-old dialect.’
“The notion that evil spirits reside in computers that have sufficient memory seems pretty weird, but Peasboro will probably have a bestseller in his upcoming book, The Devil in the Machine. Peasboro claims that demons are able to possess anything with a brain, from a chicken to a human being. And if you have a computer built after 1985, it probably has sufficient memory to be a home for the devil.
“‘I know I get mad at my computer, but I don't think it’s corrupted my soul. If you feel modern technology is that depraved, I suggest pulling the plug.’”
Tom: Dave, although I don’t go along with everything this minister says, I think there is some merit here. I mean, first of all, I believe he’s right about the ability of demon entities to use the capabilities of a computer to keep mankind in bondage to sin. If such entities can use something like a Ouija board, why not a computer?
Dave: Well, the Ouija board is being played by a human being, and so they are possessing the human being. A demon could…
Tom: But, Dave, prior to possessing, isn’t there a communication…somebody who gets information? They’re not automatically possessed.
Dave: Yeah, a demon can speak out of a wall, for example.
Tom: Right, mm-hmm.
Dave: So to speak out of a computer, they’re going to have to manipulate the electronics in there by, I suppose…they could…I don’t know. It’s probably not too likely, because a computer being an inanimate object, you’d think they could do it all the time. So, here I am, typing away, I’m trying to write an article for The Berean Call, or I’m trying to write a book, and suddenly, a demon takes over this thing. Not me, now. I’m not demon possessed, but they got that machine!
Tom, it might happen, but I’ve got some problems with it.
Tom: Well, on the other hand, the computer—it’s…Dave, I remember way back…
Tom: …you and your IBM typewriter, and I said, “Dave, there’s such thing as a computer—let’s try this.” And you balked, you jumped up and down…
Dave: I wasn’t going to do it. I would just cut and paste.
Tom: (Laughing) Right! But…it’s had a real impact in your ability, my ability, to get information out, to communicate. This was really pre-internet days, just this…
Dave: Oh, long ago, yeah. No, computers are very, very helpful, and I’m grateful for them.
Tom: On the other hand, Dave, there are some problems. People are coming into bondage through this—not just machine, but this medium, the internet, pornography, the email sex, related to the problem there…
Dave: It’s because of what it puts out. You even have a website out there for homosexual priests, Catholic priests who are homosexuals. I think even an archbishop is on there. I don’t know. I have not gone to the website.
James says, James chapter 1, he says that, “Don’t say you’re tempted of God. God can’t be tempted, and He doesn’t tempt man with evil. And don’t blame it on the devil. Every man is tempted when he’s led astray of his own lusts, and enticed.” So, I don’t think Satan can impose anything upon anyone. But it’s like Judas. It says, “He was a thief. He loved money,” and so Satan was able to first of all tempt him to steal (he was the treasurer) and then to even betray the Lord for thirty pieces of silver, you know, money—he wanted money.
So if there is some lust in our heart, yes, Satan can get his hooks into you that way.
Tom: Right. So, regardless of the medium, some may be more, in a sense, evil, because of what’s filled them, I mean in terms of the content.
Dave: I not going to recommend this book, There’s a Devil in the Machine, because I think that if it would ever happen, it would be very doubtful—however—it would be a very rare occasion—however, the machine is helping man to become more evil. We are developing techniques with the machine that allows us to do incredibly evil things, okay? That increases evil, increases the imagination of man, which is evil. The capability of man to use his imagination for evil. We’re going to have virtual reality, you’re going to have intelligent machines—machines, supposedly, that when they tell us they’re conscious, we’ll have to believe them and we will use them as our playmates, our counselors, and our lovers, even? This is what Ray Kurzweil, who’s one of the geniuses in this area, says.
So, yes, they can be used for evil, but “the devil in there”? Very limited, I think.
Tom: Well, I don’t know, Dave…
Dave: At least personal …
Tom: I don’t know, Dave. I remember the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and Hal was still a problem.
Dave: He was a bad guy, wasn’t he?
Tom: And, Dave, you alluded to artificial intelligence. Now—does that put it in the realm of…I mean, who’s going to be manipulating this intelligence? Would demons be able to control this kind of thing?
Dave: Computers can only do what they’re programmed to do. So, if a demon is going to do it, they can speak to men. They can possess men. I think probably worse than this is if they could clone a man! God’s not going to put a human soul and spirit in him, and that would be what the demons would really love to have—a body that they can operate through. A computer? I think just the mechanics of the whole thing would make it more difficult. It’s what we will do with computers. It opens doors of opportunity for evil and for the imagination of man that are beyond anything that we have imagined—could have imagined—100 years ago, 50 years ago. That would be my concern.