Steve Jobs and the Garden of Eden
In addition to being “World Food Day”, October 16th is also “Steve Jobs Day.” So, while you munch on your day old Vietnamese spring roles for lunch, here is a year old piece I wrote about Steve Jobs, heaven and the Garden of Eden.
Steve Jobs will be remember for being an innovative visionary. His vision, in fact, was so expansive that we’ll be enjoying his technological legacy for possible decades into the future.
And yet, there’s part of me that wants to speculate that Jobs innovation and vision extended past the technological realm and touched religion and maybe even theology.
Apple developed an almost otherworldly, religious mystic that I think Jobs consciously enjoyed and even planned.
He seemed to weave biblical imagery into his very brand image.
Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Nobody knows what kind of tree it was, but many assume — for a reason that escapes my six years of theological education — it was an apple tree.
I don’t know why church history has assumed an Apple tree … but we have. The story continues:
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
They ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil … the “tree of wisdom.”
Now look at Jobs’ brand image.
I’m just speculating, but I think Steve Jobs was a visionary. Okay. That’s no speculation.
But this is: I think he was a theological visionary.
I think he was re-narrating Genesis. He was attempting to cast an alternate vision.
Maybe I’m reading into the symbol too much, but I don’t think I am.
Could the same knowledge that lead us out of Eden bring us back into it?
What is the end of technology? The ultimate endgame of our tech?
Isn’t it Eden? Was that Jobs vision? Did he think that maybe we could find Eden with the knowledge we obtained from Eden? Is that what the Apple logo evoked in his mind?
Like I said. All speculation.
And speculation or not, it does raise some visionary/futurist questions that I’m sure Mr. Jobs would have loved to talk about. Here are some of those questions:
What are the limitations of technology?
What is the future of technology?
Is it possible to recreate Eden apart from God?
Or, maybe the only way to recreate Eden is without a God?
After all, isn’t God the source of all the tension, all the strife and hatred in this world?
Maybe the only way back to Eden is to march into it and kick God out?
Or, maybe God was gracious enough to give us knowledge in our rebellion, so as to create a path back to Eden?
Maybe technology is part of God’s attempt to bring us back to the garden?
The Jews couldn’t accept Jesus because he didn’t fit their understanding of “Messiah.” They expected strength of armies, he brought a strength of peace. They expected a political kingdom, and he did something entirely different.
Their eschatology was so wrong, so off the mark of what God was actually doing that many of them literally walked right by their Messiah and didn’t notice Him (of course, they would still disagree to this day).
And so, as Christians, we like to think we know the future. We like to think God has told us how the future works.
But, let’s not forget that God’s people have been oblivious before. Maybe we’re looking for the kingdom to come from the sky … from the heavens; but maybe it will come from earth? Maybe Eden will be here, again, after all; and maybe technology will play a part. Maybe in 20 or 30 years the iRise offering eternal life is on sale down at the Apple store.
It could be.
I don’t know much about the future. I deal with the dead. That’s my job. I’m nothing like the visionary Steve was. His was a rare gift (CNN put out a great short doc on his tech advances [And, he was adopted ... something that I'll be sure to tell my children]). And the world will miss him as we continue to enjoy the benefits of his vision well into the future.
If there’s a heritage Jobs left behind, it’s that it’s okay to dream. It’s okay to see alternate futures.
And if Jobs was a sort of theologian, he might be right: there’s a place for technology in the Kingdom come. I know there’s no Eden apart from Jesus, but maybe, just maybe, in the history books of the future, Steve Jobs will not only be remembered for what he gave to the world, but maybe he’ll be remember for what he gave to the people of God.