From Beyond the Pulpit – My Car Doesn’t Trust Me

by Stan Hudson, who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

Every 270,000 miles or so I usually turn my Honda Civic in for a new one.  I just did it again a few months ago.  I like the gas mileage and the reliability…but I spoil myself with a higher model, one that has a few bells and whistles.  This time I got one that has a bunch of “safety features.”

There is a not-so-subtle trend today among auto manufacturers where they are trying to be helpful, I think, in pointing out our “mistakes.”  My Honda literally jiggles the steering wheel when it thinks I am too close to a painted lane line.  And should I do the unthinkable and take off my seat belt a second or two early as I am pulling into a parking spot a female voice warns “please put on driver’s seat belt.” 

This untrusting attitude is established early when you prepare to start the engine.  A printed message says something like “you DO understand that if you have an accident it’s YOUR fault for not being a responsible driver, don’t you?”  Self-driving cars are based on a very clear view of drivers like you and me; that view is that we can’t be trusted to do a competent job of getting to where we need to get without major problems along the way.

My Honda isn’t the only car I’ve driven lately that doesn’t trust me.  A GMC rental I drove in Arizona while I was on vacation bird watching was a real nagger.  On a canyon dirt road I was driving, then stopping, then driving slowly as I was spotting interesting birds.  A strict warning flashed on screen:  “Good driving requires focus.  Keep your eyes on the road.  If you need to stop for a rest, please do so.  DO YOU AGREE?”  And that message would not go away unless I hit the “I agree” response.  And I mean it stayed up even after I had stopped the engine later, then drove some more.  The rebel in me didn’t want to agree, but it would not let me get away with that!

A Mazda we recently rented for Oshkosh had a radio that could not be turned off!  No kidding;  all you could do is turn the radio down so far you couldn’t hear it.  But it still displayed the song currently playing on the radio station.  And what about these cars that lock doors when you aren’t wanting them to?

I have wondered what this “Big Brother” trend really means in our world today.  Is it the insurance industry?  The government?  Whomever we are talking about, they have a negative view of our IQs.  They think we need help!  More than that, they aren’t offering it to just those who would like it, because it’s not an option.  Just try to find ways of turning off these “safety features.”  Most can’t be, including that woman telling me to put on my safety belt.

There is talk that cars are being developed that are completely self-driven.  And the worries that follow that is, “will the government monitor where we are and perhaps have better ideas about what society should be doing in their cars?”  For instance, like remotely keeping people from driving on high traffic days…or maybe even not driving on Sundays to preserve the environment. 

The progressive movement in our culture today has a poor view of humanity; it is that we are all fairly stupid and in deep need of enlightenment (okay, some truth there!).  Pop science with their views on origins is part of that.  And so are Christian scholars who don’t believe in the reliability of God’s word (and thus God Himself); apparently God needs modern help in communicating truths to us.  That thinking is large and in charge.  And just like in our Hondas, we can’t turn those voices off!  My Honda just doesn’t trust me.

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