How Our Decision Making Processes Were Rewritten

It is a scary thing to realize you have driven on autopilot for an unknown length of time. I’m talking about starting at Point A, and you know you have to pass Points B, C, and D, before arriving at Point E. Autopilot is realizing you left Point A, saw Point B, but suddenly find yourself somewhere between Points D and E.

Yes, that has really happened to me. No, I wasn’t drinking or high. Sometimes I was tired. Other times my mind was occupied on other things and never noticed what was happening around me.

Life is busy and full of demands on our attention. There is so much we do not take the time to think about before doing or saying what the moment seems to require of us. We have preferences and tendencies programmed into our hearts and minds to keep is headed where they take us.

Where did those default settings come from? Is my life running on autopilot with those settings driving the car? Am I sure the default programming will take me where I want to go?

I am a bit of technology guy. I’m the one my friends call for help even if they could have asked Google or Siri faster than texting or calling me.

As I thought about how to communicate the creation of these defaults in our lives some familiar technology terms came to mind. If you aren’t good with tech, don’t worry. I will explain the idea.

Factory Settings

When a computer or smart device is initially put together, it is given specific settings in order to complete its function. It’s true of pretty much anything technical.

Without the basic operating system and settings in place, the device will either malfunction or will not work at all. One basic technique to fix a device with problems, other than turning it off and on again, is to restore the factory settings.

When God went about the task of creating humanity, He did so with a set of basic factory settings. These are based on the idea of how we were made to be like God.

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature…” (Genesis 1:26a MSG).

Beta Testing

We don’t know how long Adam and Eve ran on those settings, but we do know how they ended up “rewriting the code” of humanity, so to speak. It is like they sold the humanity division of Creation to a knock-off supplier using cheap parts and faulty equipment. As a result our factory settings are far different from God’s intention.

If you are a fan of Apple products you may know about the opportunity to test new software before it goes live to the general public. The product is not ready for wide use, is considered to be in “testing”, and the idea is to work out the “bugs”.

Why work out the bugs? Because they can hinder basic performance. In some cases they can even ruin your device. That is when people say they have “bricked” their unit, turned it as useless as a brick.

Adam and Even believed they were getting an upgrade when they added the knowledge of good and evil to their lives. The expectation was that they would become like God. Didn’t happen, though. Instead they “bricked” their programming (and all of ours).

Adding Preferences

When you install a new program on your computer or a new app on your smartphone, you usually have the opportunity to set some personal preferences. You can choose the language, the font size, the background colors.

While most of us think this is just an added bonus to something new, there is a marketing goal in mind. The more you can customize your experience, the more you will express your individuality and feel personally connected in the application. Then this service or app becomes more important to us and we become loyal followers of the Brand.

As we move through each day, our personal preferences are cataloged in our minds. The more we choose the same color, route, flavor, television channel, music genre, etc., our daily choices shape our default settings.

Though we started with the same default settings, we spent years customizing who we are and how we do things. Each individual became a unique combination of desires, dreams, experiences, lessons, and curiosities. Not a single one of us has an exact duplicate.

Some of these preferences are benign. Which color t-shirt you prefer or which flavor of ice cream is your favorite will not make you a good or bad person, even if your kids think you’re weird.

We all have personal struggles which can lead us into selfish, worldly, and even sinful paths. Struggles and temptations are universal, in that we all face them, though we don’t all face the same struggles and temptations.

Our upbringing, personal and family histories, school and work experience, where we live, what we watch and listen to. We are uniquely shaped and uniquely susceptible to what we have had access to. Mix in our various personalities and we respond in different ways.

The vast array of possibilities is actually a part of God’s creativity, as He formed us and a plan for us. My quirks are His fingerprint on my life. God designed us to specific purpose not to specific sin. But that makes vulnerable to sin in ways others may not be.

This is how we move from a perfect creation where God looks and says, “It is very good”, to a fallen, broken existence headed to a tragic ending: death.

We will look at the restoration God offers in the next post. For now, we can have hope.

Though we are fallen, broken, and have this universal brokenness personal, God was never content to leave us in this state. He made a plan before He spoke Creation into being.

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. (Ephesians 1:4 MSG)