I just read a report that states: “Uber is buying thousands of self-driving cars.” Just let that sink in.
Picture yourself riding along, calmly reading your morning paper (or tablet, or whatever you read in the morning), weaving in and out of traffic, while the vehicle you’re riding in has no driver—at least, not a human one. If you can see yourself doing that, more power to you. I must say, I can’t.
I’ve seen these marvelous wonders in action. My gut reaction is a simple, “No thanks!” Haven’t been there, haven’t done that, didn’t get the t-shirt (and not interested in ordering one).
It’s not that I’m unadventurous, but… Well, maybe I AM unadventurous—especially when it comes to bodily harm. Entrusting my physical wellbeing to KITT isn’t my idea of traffic safety. It looks great on TV, but so do imaginary dragons.
The driverless Uber I saw was traversing through city traffic. While there wasn’t a driver, there was…I don’t know…a “monitor,” I guess. Although the car was doing the driving, there was a human being sitting there. I have to ask myself, “If the car is doing the driving, why the need for the human?”
Obvious and Scary
The answer to that one is as obvious as it is scary. The human is there in case something goes wrong (haywire, erratic, nonfunctional). When it gets to that point, we could probably add one more adjective—suicidal.
I know, I know. I’m an old fuddy-duddy. I’m old school. I’ve seen better days. I’ve got one foot in the grave and afraid I’ll step on a banana peel with the other. So, sue me!
I’m sure the next generation will be totally fine with these contraptions and won’t think a thing about hitching a ride in them. I can only say, “My prayers are with you. Godspeed!” Well, maybe you won’t want to go that fast, but you know what I mean.
In many of my blogs, this is the place where I begin to insert some spiritual meaning into the subject at hand. Unfortunately, I’ve searched the Scripture, and there’s no mention of Uber in there anywhere. There are lots of references to chariots, but they all seem to have human beings in the driver’s seat. As we like to say these days, “I got nothin’!”
There is, however, an Old Testament passage that states, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test…” (Deuteronomy 6:16) Jesus, himself, quotes this verse in Luke 4:12 to none other than the devil. He said this when old Slew Foot tried to get him to jump from the highest point of the temple (one of three temptations plied against him during his wilderness ordeal). Even though he was the Son of God whose life could be saved by a band of angels used as a safety net, he resisted.
So, in the wonderful tradition of my Lord and Savior, I will not be tempting God in a driverless car—angels not withstanding.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]