Clarke: “Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology Is Indistinguishable From Magic.” Really? Even In The 21st Century?
I was watching the show “V” (the recent one which began in 2009) and when Anna, the Queen of the V’s is in a meeting with the Pope in the Vatican I began thinking about the Clarke’s Third Law. If you don’t know what that is, the famous science fiction author and scientist, Arthur C. Clarke, is known for many things one of them being his Three Laws of Prediction which he used in his writing. The Third Law, beautifully enshrined above and in the title of this post, is: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
In the scene of the show V, Anna and the Pope are discussing faith and miracles after the Pope tells Anna that he will not condemn priests who tell their parishes anti-V messages. Anna says to the Pope and a group of Cardinals and other Church higher ups that the V’s “gifts to the people of Earth: the healing centers, blue energy, red rain, [are] merely products of highly advanced science…but also viewed as miracles by many…how many more “miracles” do you think it would take for your followers to turn to me? One a day? Two?” After she finishes her speech Anna takes 2 spheres from a case and holds them together causing blue lightning or electricity or ‘blue energy’ to shoot around the room (see screen cap below) and the Church bigwigs seem completely stunned.
Much as I do enjoy the show V – it is still somewhat mysterious as to what exactly the V’s intentions are which is what is keeping us all on the edge’s of our seats – I don’t know that I can agree with this depiction or Anna’s simplification of the way people of the 21st Century in Western Society think. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are enough people who WOULD believe that Anna and the V’s are godlike and turn their faith to them from whatever religion to which they were currently subscribed. However, I think that a large part, I would even go so far as to say a majority, of the population would not accept this as miraculous.
I think that if someone were to appear seemingly out of thin air – a la Star Trek transporter technology – right now in front of me I would probably be quite stunned. BUT! Would I think they were a god? I doubt it. I would understand that this person somehow was in possession of a technology that I am not privy to. I think that almost no matter what kind of ‘miracle’ you showed a rational, smart, thinking person of 21st Century Western Society they wouldn’t so easily take it as a miracle. I completely agree that if we went back in time 400 years ago and showed them some modern technology they would probably worship us as gods or kill us for being witches/warlocks. But nowadays? Really? I don’t think so. I think we would continue looking for the rational, logical, scientific explanation for the event or ability. I think that even if we didn’t bother looking for the ‘how’ these people (or aliens) were able to perform these feats we would just accept them as highly advanced science and go with it. We probably would also hope they would teach it to us and some of us may attempt to steal it to learn its secrets, but bow down to it in awe? Not happening.