Mark of the Beast or marvel of technology?
CBN.com - PALM BEACH, FL — Imagine having a microchip inside your body that would store your identity and important medical information, and might even tell people where you are. Is it a sign of the end times or simply a sign of progress?
Microchip technology is no longer just for Palm Pilots and cell phones, now people can store important information about themselves right beneath their skin. A chip about the size of a Tic Tac can carry up to six lines of text, readable with a scanner.
Science fiction has become reality. A Florida company plans to bring their new VeriChip to the market this year. It's a product that excites a lot of people, but worries many others.
"The VeriChip is an advanced, digital identification technology," explained Doctor Keith Bolton, the vice president and chief technology officer at Applied Digital Systems in Palm Beach, Florida. It will be the first company in the world to offer the microchip for insertion into humans.
"The first component is a very small microchip. The other component is a proprietary, patented, handheld scanner, that reads the information from the chip," Bolton said.
The initial use of the VeriChip will be to store personal identification or medical information, such as details about any implanted medical devices like pacemakers or artificial limbs, or any allergies to medication. In an emergency, it could save a life. Dr. Richard Seelig, medical advisor at Applied Digital, implanted a chip in his arm and his hip area a few months ago.
"Yes, it's in my right forearm and there is no bump or anything that you can really see, and if you just gently pass your finger over it it's right in this area right here," Seelig demonstrated. "The technique just involves a little bit of local anesthetic into the skin, and just a slight amount of pressure... it takes about seven seconds to do, and that was that — wear a band-aid, that was the end of it."
The Jacobs family in Coral Springs, Florida would like to be the first family to receive the VeriChip. "I was watching the news with Derrick and there was a segment on the VeriChip, and he was so intrigued with the VeriChip. After it was over he stood up and said, 'I want to be the first kid to have that chip implanted in me,'" said Leslie Jacobs.
"Everybody uses computers in their everyday life, and as people get more and more close to computers, people can't even live without computers for one day," Derrick said. "So I think it's just another step closer in the evolution of man and technology."
But for Derrick's dad, Jeff, who suffers from a number of medical challenges, the VeriChip could be a lifesaver. "They would know who to contact, they would know what medications I'm on, and it's quite a few. They would know what I'm allergic to, what kind of operations I've had and where there might be problems. I can't wait to get it because it will make me feel so much more secure," Jeff said.
Future versions of embedded microchips could carry a person's full identification in place of I.D. cards that can be lost or stolen. That could put a dent in the growing problem of identity theft, and make the world a little safer.
"We would like to know for sure as best we can that the people in that cockpit of that airplane belong there and they are the right people, that people who work at nuclear power plants are the right people and they should be there," Seelig said.
Still more advanced versions of the microchip someday might be able to track a person's location through a global positioning system [GPS].
Right now Applied Digital Solutions sells a separate system for tracking and monitoring called Digital Angel, which consists of a device similar to a wrist-watch and a module worn on the belt. It is marketed to the families of Alzheimer's patients because, as Bolton demonstrates, it can locate loved ones anywhere in the world, from any P.C. in the world.
"Pete is outside and he has the Digital Angel monitor on, and we're going to monitor his position from this Internet access P.C.," Bolton illustrated. "What we're showing here is he is on the corner of Coconut Grove and Royal Palm Way." And that is exactly where Pete was.
A GPS tracking device is currently too large to fit into the tiny VeriChip, but miniaturization is probably only a matter of time. Some believe a tracking device inside the body could deter kidnapping. "We've had six Latin American countries in here in just the last two weeks, and they are begging us to create an embedded integrated technology," Bolton said.
But the thought of being tracked and carrying vital information in the body makes a lot of people's skin crawl. And it reminds some of a frightening prophecy in the Bible about the mark of the Beast.
Revelation 13 says the Beast will force everyone "to receive a mark on his right hand or forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the Beast or the number of his name... His number is 666."
Applied Digital has been attacked by some Christians for making what some fear is a prototype mark of the Beast. So does this chip, as it is now, have any relationship to the prophecy in the book of Revelation? CBN News asked Regent University professor Doctor Joseph Kickasola.
"My judgement is, no they do not," Kickasola said. "I think it's both illogical and unfair to make that assertion, and let me tell you why. I think the Bible clearly says the mark of the Beast is for buying and selling and that it is also coerced, it's government enforced. On the face of it, these microchips are for good purposes, like for medical records, like for lost children. They're not for buying or selling, as is described in the book of Revelation."
And Bolton stresses the VeriChip is voluntary. "We live in a free society," he said. "You can either elect to smoke [or not]. You can elect to have the VeriChip. So it's a freedom of choice technology."
But what about a future in which everyone must take an embedded chip if they want to drive or work in secure environments? Kickasola stresses that any government coercion would collide with the First Amendment.
"Government cannot coerce us to speak," he said. "And a microchip speaks a lot, it has a lot of information in it. The one threshold in the Bible we must not pass is the threshold of coercion, whereby we have a state or federally enforced form of identification in our body."
The tiny VeriChip would seem to contain more than electronics: hope, fear, opportunity, some politics and perhaps a dash of theology. But it is another piece of technology that will likely become a part of everyday life.
The VeriChip sells for $199 and will be marketed in South America and Europe while awaiting FDA approval for sale in the United States.