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Billy Graham's Faith-vs-Tech TED Talk: Then and Now

Billy Graham's Faith-vs-Tech TED Talk: Then and Now

When you hear the words, “TED Talk” you probably imagine those trendy videos which occasionally pop up in your social media feeds. TED Talks (short for Technology, Entertainment, Design) have become a staple in modern conversations surrounding science, culture, and technology. The media giant has made a name for itself by distributing free videos online under the slogan, “ideas worth spreading”, and its guests have included everyone from famous scientists to award-winning actors. Long before the inception of social media though, TED crowds gathered annually to listen to a presenter discuss the future of humanity and technology. One of those earliest speakers was none other than the Rev. Billy Graham.

Speaking at a TED conference in 1998, Graham marveled at the power of technology and its ability to change lives across the globe. However, he noted that there were three problems technology couldn’t solve: the problem of human evil, the problem of human suffering, and the problem of death.

Graham, who was well into his 80’s at the time of his speech, was somewhat nostalgic as he recounted the events of his life. He spoke about the many places he’d been, the people he’d met, and his acceptance of human mortality. Yet ultimately, despite the many strides of progress mankind had made during his lifetime, humans were no closer to solving these three problems than their distant ancestors had been.

“I’ve never met a person in the world who didn’t have a problem or a worry.” He noted sadly. 

For Graham, humanity’s solution for these troubles could only be found in God.

“‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’ This was David’s answer to the three dilemmas of evil, suffering, and death. It can be yours as well, as you seek the living God and allow him to fill your life, and give you hope for the future.”

Looking back on this long-forgotten sermon, it’s amazing how relevant Graham’s message of gospel transformation remains. Modern technology had advanced in ways humanity never dreamed possible. Our phones can do just about anything. We’re connected to people across the world through social media, and news is delivered at the press of a button. Yet we are still nowhere near to solving the problem of human evil, the problem of human suffering, or the problem of death.

Graham would go on to live another twenty years after his TED Talk, but the message he preached forever stayed the same. He boldly declared the resurrection of Jesus to countless individuals in countless countries, and even in the twilight of his life, his faith in God remained as certain as ever. With his recent passing, the final words of his TED Talk only serve to punctuate the journey he had long prepared for,

By faith I said I believed him, and he came into my heart, and he changed my life. Now I’m ready when I hear that call to go into the presence of God.

*Published 2/22/2017