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September 13, 2023

Sage Against the Machine: George Gilder Shaping Culture

George Gilder has been shaping culture for the last several decades. A new documentary, Sage Against the Machine, shows Gilder’s work as an intellectual giant fighting against oppressive ideologies in our culture, such as feminism and socialism. The documentary, released Friday, September 8, was produced by Canon Press and sponsored by New Saint Andrews College. The documentary recounts Gilder’s work over the last several decades to promote and explain conservative Christian principles around the family, economics, technology, and culture. 

As the movie shows, Gilder has been on the frontlines of the culture war for a long time. At one point in the documentary, Gilder tells about Time magazine naming him Pig of the Year. Gilder smiled, saying, “I had so much fun with the Pig of the Year award.” He said it was his greatest attainment. His family even gave him a pig trophy in honor of the award. He says that he retired the trophy because Time magazine has never named anyone else for the award.

Dr. Ben Merkle, president of NSA, said, "We need more Christians, like Gilder, working from a biblical worldview in technology and economics. If NSA can produce more leaders like Gilder for the next generation, then that will have a profound impact on culture.”

Gilder has appeared on several TV shows to defend his ideas. In 1973, he was on the Dick Cavett Show where two lesbians read him a manifesto about how he was a sexist and he was helping destroy women who are “sacrificed at the altar of male supremacy.” Later, in 1986, he was on the Phil Donahue Show defending his ideas against a crowd of angry women booing his comments. 

Gilder helped found the Discovery Institute in 1991, which advocates for Intelligent Design. This institute promotes work that fights against the materialistic worldview of Darwinian Evolution. This materialistic worldview drives much of the ideas behind feminism, socialism, and technology.   

Twenty years ago, The New Yorker described George Gilder as a “technology prophet.” His insights into technology and the economy have made him a leading voice over the last fifty years. In 1990, he predicted the iPhone in his book Life After Television. For the last three decades, his monthly report on the newest technology trends, called Gilder’s Technology Report, has been a key source for investors seeking to support the next development in technology. Ronald Reagan would quote regularly from Gilder’s book Wealth and Poverty.

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“Gilder is a great example to the students at NSA,” Dr. Ben Merkle, president of NSA, said. “We need more Christians, like Gilder, working from a biblical worldview in technology and economics. If NSA can produce more leaders like Gilder for the next generation, then that will have a profound impact on culture.” 

Gilder, at the end of his book Men and Marriage, recently republished by Canon Press, talks about the impact that his father had on him and his work. His father was a bomber pilot who was killed in the Second World War. Gilder was two years old when this happened so he never knew his dad. However, decades later, Gilder was given a box of papers that his father had written, one of which was a 175-page manuscript on economics. Gilder says that he was surprised to find that his father anticipated many of his own ideas advocating for the importance of family and faith in economics. Gilder writes, “I was linked in an almost mystical way to this man I never knew.” 

This story about his father is a clear example of the impact that family can have on society even many years down the road. It is this kind of story that gives Gilder great hope for the future. Others have also recognized Gilder’s hope, saying, “Gilder believes that each new day the world will bring forth boons so unexpected and wonderful that they couldn’t be imagined the day before.” God is not bound by the material world and so He can and does inspire men to take surprising risks and accomplish new things. This Christian hope shapes Gilder’s work in fighting against the false worldviews in the culture.

Gilder has written several books including Wealth and Poverty, Life After Television, Knowledge and Power, Life After Google, and Life After Capitalism. He and his wife currently live in western Massachusetts.

Canon Press recently republished his book Men and Marriage. The documentary Sage Against the Machine is on the Canon+ app.