Well here we are, 20 years after the Y2K craze... and things are getting pretty crazy again. The world hasn't changed much in the realm of end times speculation, intermingling with technophobia and conspiracy theories running rampant.
On the one hand, I am a bible believing Christian. I do believe in Bible Prophecy in general, including prophecies surrounding end times events and the Second Coming. Why I believe that is a topic for another article.
On the other hand, I am a software engineer and MIT graduate, and I do feel it important to present my beliefs not only from faith, but from a standpoint of logic and good sound reasoning, and factual evidence.
For this reason, I am not a huge fan of conspiracy theories in general, especially when they don't align with sound factual basis and reasoning. I also think that even if they WERE all true, for the most part it would not change what we as believers should be doing with our time, our lives, and our focus.
And, if they are NOT true and we spend an inordinate amount of time and energy sharing "fake news", then it not only makes us look bad corporately as a body of believers, representing a faith and a lifestyle that is supposed to attract and be a light to the world around us - but it takes away from the message we are supposed to be spreading, the good news of the Gospel.
In October of 1999, I wrote an article entitled "Why Y2k is Ok" (a copy of it is in the archive section of this site). The purpose was to help calm and dispel the fears and anxiety many felt with all the doom and gloom predictions of disaster that people were anticipating would occur with the Y2k bug. As a software engineer I knew that many of the fears such as elevators breaking down and airplanes falling out of the sky, just did not make any sense from a technology point of view, and thus I felt it my responsibility to share it. I even got a nice mention in this LA Weekly article.
So, what's the technology conspiracy theory of the season?
With the progression of this coronavirus/ COVID-19 emerging on the world stage at the end of 2019, to when it was officially declared a pandemic in March of 2020, we saw an example of how quickly governments can all enact draconian restrictions on global travel, commerce, and individual rights. How easy would it be now for every country to agree that we can’t allow an uncontrolled pandemic to impact the world like this again... we need to immediately move to a system worldwide of mandatory vaccines, whatever the global governing powers deem necessary for the well-being of civilization as a whole. Meaning nobody can be allowed in public, to do business, to travel, to go to restaurants or theatres, to go to schools or workplaces, unless they have been vaccinated. Against each and every threat that is deemed a potential hazard.
How do you ensure this is done? One way would be to implant a microchip in everyone's hand, or in cases where the hand is not possible, their forehead:
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Rev 13:16-17)
Enter ID2020, the effort being spearheaded by Bill Gates and some technology and pharmaceutical companies to develop a globally unique digital ID unique to each individual on the planet, that cannot be forged or counterfeited and stays with them for life.
As a software engineer, I appreciate the rationale and purpose for them trying to come up with a reliable, unique digital ID for each person that cannot be stolen, or forged. In this day and age of rampant identity theft and electronic fraud, it is a natural problem that needs solving.
However, I have been reading articles and news stories for years about research and development of human implantable microchips as a means of identification, and it is both a natural and terrifying solution. If it is mandated, naturally many Christians will resist on the grounds of religious beliefs, we will be mocked and ridiculed by the world (as usual), persecuted and forced to succumb anyway. I don't imagine initially they would do a "you need to do this or be beheaded". Probably more like, "hey, if you don't want this ID, you can't participate in our economy" so that part is right up there with Revelation's nobody can buy or sell.
The incredibly swift shutting down of everything worldwide and suppressing of individual freedoms that we are even now experiencing during this pandemic, shows how quickly even our country (USA), in which our religious freedoms and civil rights are considered a foundational part of our society, can be stripped away in favor of “the global good”.
It sure sounds like a very plausible reality, right around the corner!
So what's wrong with this theory?
ID2020 does not mandate implanted microchips.
To see what ID2020 actually is and isn't, it's important to actually visit the web site and read some of the articles, see how they operate and what their goals and aims are, who is involved, what problems they are trying to solve, and what the time table is.
The following are some takeaways for me:
- ID2020 is a technical alliance of various companies around the world, in the software, digital identity and security industries, as well as various organizations and foundations concerned with helping impoverished third world nations. A list of participating organizations and how the alliance is governed can be found at: https://id2020.org/alliance
- The process to develop/adopt a universal identification system and framework is a complex and multifaceted operation, and will take years to achieve. At the moment it is looking like a 10 year roadmap, following the United Nations charter 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, including their commitment to “provide legal identity for all, including birth registration” by 2030.
- The specific technical goals for what the alliance considers good workable solutions, "ID2020 certifiable", can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1L0RhDq98xj4ieh5CuN-P3XerK6umKRTPWMS8Ckz6_J8/edit
- In reading through the technical requirements, it is clear that the basis for the solutions are already widely in use in many of the more developed countries - online security and privacy, such as blockchain, anti-forgery and uniqueness, cryptography and authentication, and takes into consideration all kinds of scenarios including physical, online and offline situations.
- It is also clear from the technical requirements, that multiple types of devices and/or forms of authentication are considered. While biometrics are mentioned (which naturally could include an implanted microchip), no specific mention is made of microchips being the only solution, and in fact references are made to fingerprints, as well as smart phones. Biometrics as we know are already widely in use in a variety of smart phones, touchscreen kiosks, and other devices, and can also include facial recognition, retina scan, DNA matching, and many other technologies. A list of the types of biometrics currently available today can be found here: https://www.biometricsinstitute.org/what-is-biometrics/types-of-biometrics/
Because there are so many biometric options currently available that do not rely on embedded microchips, and because of the widespread concern/objection by people to both the possible health risks as well as privacy concerns and "ick factor" associated with microchips, it seems more likely that the gradual development and adoptions of various ID2020 compliant systems will use other forms of biometric identification, and not need to resort to microchips. Although there have been a few regions in the world in the private sector where implanted microchips have been voluntarily adopted on a small scale (3000 individuals in Sweden to date, and about 50 employees of Three Square Market in Wisconsin as examples), there have also been a number of states in the US that have already adopted laws prohibiting forced microchip implant, including Wisconsin, North Dakota, California, Oklahoma, Georgia, Virginia, and others (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microchip_implant_(human) ). The UK also seems poised to pass anti-chip laws (https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/kevin-mccandless/mandatory-implantation-microchips-employees-uk-govt-says-it-would). So it will likely continue to be a legal battle for years to come.
RFID doesn't track, and has nothing to do with 5G
In an effort to interconnect various technology trends with the narrative of global government takeover and control, some of the conspiracy theory articles and videos are trying to tie to the development of 5G cellular networks, to the forced implanted microchip scenario, with the claim that 5G will be able to read RFID chips, and then the soon to come global totalitarian government can track your every move.
First, what is 5G? 5G is the fifth generation of wireless communications technologies supporting cellular data networks. With the continued growing adoption of mobile device usage, and demand for more and higher quality streaming media online, the cellular networks need to continue to increase bandwidth to accomodate, so it is a natural growth and progression of cellular technology.
There have been various reported and expressed health concerns surrounding 5G, with its increased electromagnetic radiation compared to 4G and below. There are even claims that the current coronavirus epidemic was somehow caused by the widespread implementation of 5G.
Let's just quickly refute that. 5G is only available in approximately 30 countries so far, and Coronavirus is in over 200 countries and territories, so drawing any kind of link there seems unreasonable. As for health concerns and risks of 5G, this article provides some data that may help to allay concerns: https://www.howtogeek.com/423720/how-worried-should-you-be-about-the-health-risks-of-5g/
Next, what is RFID? RFID stands for radio-frequency identification, and works by an RFID tag, smart label or microchip, responding to a near field radio wave scanner. There are two types of RFID tags - active and passive. Active require a battery and can transmit up to about 1500 feet depending on the size of the antenna and other considerations. Passive RFID tags, including the size-of-a-grain-of-rice chips that pets are tagged with, and that humans are concerned about being tagged with, are near field and require the scanner being very close, within inches of the skin.
Putting two and two together, one can quickly see that 5G is not available globally, and has nothing to do with detecting RFID tags. These are simply two unrelated technologies, that weaken the credibility of any all encompassing conspiracy theories that try to connect dots that have no connection.
Technology is Neutral
To those who are concerned about the advancing march of technology ensnaring us in a net that will lead to loss of freedoms and religious liberties, I will say simply this: technology is neutral, and can be used for good or evil. The same internet that is used by the pornography and sex trafficking industries to perpetuate moral and social corruption, is also used by Bible believing Christians to broadcast praise and worship music, sermons, and uplifting information and teachings. The internet is also a great source of cute cat videos.
In an end-times, global government "mark of the beast" scenario, it wouldn’t be technology per se that’s the problem. Technology is merely a means to an end. It is that when the time came, people who receive the mark, whatever it is, are willingly pledging allegiance to this antichrist. Such as in ancient Rome under certain emperors where emperor worship was enforced, nobody could buy or sell unless they declared "Caesar is Lord".
The imagery in Ezekiel 9 - of the righteous receiving from an angel a mark upon their foreheads, so they are spared from the coming destruction.... is similarly a type of the 144,000 in Revelation who receive an angel’s seal before the coming destruction. So God's people receive the seal (mark) of God upon their foreheads.... those that choose instead to receive the seal/mark of the adversary on their foreheads (or hands) have no place for God’s seal. Again it comes down to who you worship, who you pledge your loyalty to. Revelation does also speak of everyone being forced to bow down and worship the image of the beast who was slain and now lives...a false religion perpetuated by the false prophet. So if the mark happens to be a microchip or whatever it is, it is tying into not only a global economy, but also a false religious system.
Unless all these puzzle pieces are there together, we aren’t “there” yet.
So what should be the takeaway?
Certainly there are still a lot of legitimate concerns about individual rights and what we can expect in a post COVID-19 world. For those of us who have health concerns about vaccines in general and are used to declining or waiving most recommended vaccines, the idea of forced vaccination is troubling of its own. For those of us who object to implanted microchips just for the very reasons of health concerns, dignity, or general discomfort with the prospect, we should continue to be vigilant and watch the trends, and do what we can to ensure individual rights and freedom of choice are not trampled on by government overreach.
But it is important, like it was in the Y2k days, that we do not get carried away and caught up by every conspiracy theory to cross the net, and perpetuate articles, memes and videos that may paint we as believers in a troubling light or make us look ignorant and foolish. We should be informed, but remain upbeat and positive, and encouraging to those around us.
Let us not forget the Christian views of submitting to governmental authority. Jesus, and Paul as well, taught about and practiced submitting to governments including Rome at the time, much against the thinking of the zealots who thought active rebellion against the tyranny of Rome’s rule was the right thing. Yet Jesus also predicted the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and told those who would be living in Jerusalem at the time, when they saw the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem, to flee and head for the hills. At one time he said do not take swords with you... then at another time he said to take up a sword. But in the Garden of Gethsemane when he was being arrested and Peter drew his sword and started using it, he said put away your swords. In Revelation it says whoever kills with the sword must be killed by the sword, this calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints.
So there are exceptions, but extreme exceptions. In general we are called to be good upstanding citizens, cooperating with our governments and our leaders, caring for others as well as ourselves.
What can we do to be a positive voice?
I encourage you to share this article to help counter much of the fear mongering and misinformation that is being propogated. I also believe very strongly that a proper and fuller understanding of Bible prophecy and what the Book of Revelation actually does and does not say, will help keep us all better focused and prevent against being led astray by conspiracy distractions. And let's not forget that the study of Revelation is supposed to be a spiritual endeavor and blessing:
"Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it...." (Rev 1:3)
Some years ago, I produced a groundbreaking multimedia Bible Study CD-ROM of the Book of Revelation, which Christian Computing magazine called, "a shining example of what multimedia is all about." Now, technology has improved to the point where I am in the process of working on an all new project - a full motion movie of the book of Revelation, in conjunction with an online study. I have found through this process, that Revelation is extremely visual, and put into context, more of the focus of John's vision is on glorious praise and worship in the heavens, God's ultimate triumph and victory, and the ultimate creation of a new heaven and new earth, where there will be no more sorrow, mourning or pain. The mention of the mark of the beast and the antichrist is truly a small blip in the radar, just a final push in the "birth pangs" that bring about the Messianic kingdom. For more information about this project and how to participate in the study, please visit www.revelationmovie.org.
Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to fill out the contact form on this site.
Nathan Gopen is a professional software engineer and MIT graduate. He is committed to using his skills in software, multimedia and graphic design to create inspiring and powerful new ways of comprehending and studying the vast riches of God's Word. He and his wife are also involved in worship music ministry, more of which can be found at: gopenmusic.com.Website: www.bibleglobe.org