Field of Dreams
Do you remember the movie Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner? If you are unfamiliar with the movie, Costner plays a farmer in Iowa, and he hears a voice telling him to tear down his corn field and replace it with a baseball field. This is crazy because the cornfield is how he supports his family. He eventually tears down the cornfield and builds a baseball field, and then something strange happens. Players from the past begin showing up and playing baseball.
Costner realizes one of the players is his father. That realization becomes one of those scenes that pull at the heartstrings because Costner says, “Hey, Dad, wanna play catch?” And father and son have this moment while playing catch on this field of dreams.
Years after the movie, that baseball field and corn fields are still there in Dyersville, Iowa. People from all over the country come and visit the site. Several years ago, my family and I were in Chicago, so we decided to take a side trip and see the Field of Dreams field in Iowa. We stood in the cornfield and took pictures. Then my kids said, “Hey, Dad, wanna play catch?” Well, as you can imagine, that will be a moment I will forever cherish.
This site had become so popular that two years ago, major league baseball decided to have a real major league baseball game played there in Iowa. Last August was the second year they played a real game in Iowa. If you are familiar with baseball, you know that in the middle of the seventh inning, everyone stands and stretches their legs and sings “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Harry Carey Hologram
Last August, at the Field of Dreams game, Harry Carey led the fans in a song. Now, if you are from Chicago, you know Harry Carey was famous for leading the crowd in a song at every Cubs home game. I say “‘was famous” because Harry Carey passed away in 1998!
So, after almost twenty-five years after his death, how did he lead the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” last August? Carey appeared as a hologram. It was his likeness, it was his voice, it was his mannerism — it was Harry Carey!
Afterward, I told myself, Harry Carey led us in singing the seventh inning stretch. But then I realized, no, he did not. Harry Carey is not alive. That was just an image of him. I was torn between thinking, “That was pretty cool” and “That was pretty creepy.”
With this technology already available, how long until it is used for ungodly purposes? Holograms can mirror anyone’s image and voice. People could be accused of saying things they never said. Holograms could put people in places they never were. Then you add technology such as AI (artificial intelligence), which can learn and reason, and ChatGPT, and the possibilities go to a completely different level.
AI and ChatGPT
ChatGPT is an AI chatbox, meaning once you create an account, you can ask it questions and it responds in written form. Universities are putting guidelines in place because you can see how easy it would be for students to be tempted to use technology like this for all their written assignments. That, of course, would be cheating.
ChatGPT was released in November of 2022. According to a February report from Reuters, within two months after being launched, it had over 100 million monthly active users, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history. In comparison, it took TikTok about nine months after its global launch to reach 100 million users and Instagram 2 1/2 years to do so. Technology is moving fast!
But, where does it go from here, and what does it lead to? Singing holograms in August 2022; AI and ChatGPT in November 2022.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Feurth, Germany
On June 9, 2023, a sermon was delivered by artificial intelligence in a Lutheran church in Germany. Over 300 people attended the forty-minute church service at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Feurth, Germany. The whole church service was written and delivered using OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The service was “led” by four avatars on the screen — two young women and two young men. An avatar is a graphical representation of a human.
An avatar opened the sermon with, “Dear, friends, it is an honor for me to stand here and preach to you as the first artificial intelligence at this year’s convention of Protestants in Germany.” No human writing, no human speaking, no human connection. The entire service was electronic, written by AI, and presented by avatars.
This advanced technology doesn’t end there; we’ll talk more about this in the future, but Quantum computing is coming next.
An Abomination of Desolation
Where does the use of technology to communicate and represent people eventually lead? In Daniel 9:27, the prophet speaks about a time when the Antichrist will enter the holy Temple in Jerusalem (2 Thessalonians 2:4), and commit an “abomination of desolation.” Jesus, in Matthew 24:15-16, confirms what Daniel prophesized, “Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place — let the reader understand.”
What will this abomination be? Most understand this to be a statue or image of the beast, which gives the appearance of life. Could it be a hologram? Could it be an avatar? Could it be some other form of technology?
Image of the Beast
This Image of the Beast, prophesied by Daniel and confirmed by Jesus, will be the focal point of worship during the second half of the Tribulation. Bowing to the Image of the Beast is how deceived people will worship the “man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
This future image will be crucial for those who refuse to worship the Image of the Beast and those willing to bow in worship to the Beast. Those who refuse to comply with the Antichrist’s command will suffer the wrath of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:15; 20:4). But, those who willingly worship the Image of the Beast will suffer the wrath of God (Revelation 14:9-11).
In the Tribulation, the last set of judgments is the seven Bowl Judgments. The First Bowl Judgment will be specifically poured out upon those who worship the Image of the Beast (Revelation 16:2). If you wonder how close we are to the Rapture of the Church and the beginning of the Tribulation period, and if technology is a window into that future, then the world better prepare because technology now can take us to a place Scripture first told us about over twenty-five hundred years ago.
Maranatha, Lord Jesus!