Thoughts in an airport lounge
Reprinted from The Omega Times - April 2000
Today I watched a man opposite me working on his notebook
computer. I've seen it many times before. The world is changing fast and it is
clear that we are now living in a society where it is important to become
computer literate, if you can. The Internet means that information is available
on almost every subject you wanted, or never wanted, to know about. Like all
information it can be a blessing or a curse to you. The new information
technology gives a speedy voice to everyone and is hard to stop.
When faxes first came in and digitalized photo's could be
sent, protesters in China were able to quickly get their version of events to
the waiting news agency in the West. Those who believe in the progress of
humanity to higher levels welcome the great flow of ideas and information. So do
pornographers and perverts and rebels with recipes for home made bombs. So do
doctors and scientists and writers doing research within days that would have
taken months or years. I used to feel hindered in my education by my lack of
entrance papers and qualifications but if I learn to "surf the net" the
world is open to me. Vast and distant libraries and galleries of art are open
for my perusal.
Emails have changed much too. People who won't answer
letters will answer emails. Gossip flies fast. Libel gathers speed. Now you can,
at the touch of a button, involve the world in your fights and disappointments
with others. One site criticises a certain mission and collects testimonies from
disappointed ex workers. It is difficult for leaders to reply. The charges fly
around the world on the net or by email. The Bible says, "Whoever is first in
their case, seems right, but later his neighbour finds him out." Proverbs 18:17
"A fool", we are told, "multiplies words", and now he
has more opportunity to do that than ever -– he has a wider audience.
A preacher friend of mine who has a website which contains
clean gospel messages tells me it gets more than 1400 hits (visits) each day. I'd
give my eyeteeth to preach to an audience of 1400 every day! The gospel can run
Unfortunately, some of the old mystique of computers and
robots of comic book fame, lingers on. The implication is that, "If the
computer sys it -– it computes. It is highly likely to be true," as if we are
dealing with a special intelligence and wisdom. The youngest computer users are
not infected with such a virus. They know if the wrong information is fed in,
the wrong results will be published. GIGA, Garbage in = Garbage out. It is the
older generation who still believe in the cult of authority of the expert, and
who believe a machine's testimony is likely to be credible. Stated like this
it seems potently absurd, and so it is. When the association is subconscious the
faulty logic is unexamined and too much weight is given to what the computer
tells us. Information must be sorted. Discernment must still be practised, both
by the "inner witness" and by careful scrutiny and tests for validity.
Discernment, the Bible says, comes by reason of practice. (Hebrews 5:14. "But
solid food is for the mature ones, who by constant use of their discernment can
distinguish between what is good and what is in fact evil.")
As for the immoral person and other wicked ones discernment
will be difficult for them. Their rebellion locks up their awareness so that
they are blinded to real issues. "But the wicked will continue in wickedness.
None of them will understand, but wise ones, these will truly understand..."
Daniel 12:10. It is the same chapter that tells us about many travellers going
to and fro and knowledge increasing (verse 4).
On the other side of the coin a wise man, a God fearing
person might find some of the guiding advisers who help him wage war, on the
world wide net. His knowledge and strength might well be increased by
information God inspires people to leave there. Knowledge is not our enemy -–
only distorted knowledge, false knowledge is. Much of what "everyone knows"
is rubbish and you can find that too on the net. Her too is another version of
the market place, the chief places of concourse, the place where the roads meet,
where wisdom still lifts up her voice (Proverbs 8:1-5).
Here too you will find in abundance pride and arrogance ,
evil behaviour and perverse speech which those who fear the Lord, must hate
(Proverbs 8:13). A whole culture of email jokes take the mocking of sin to a new
level (Proverbs 14:9). I am not saying we should avoid it, but make the new
ability serve us, avoiding the evil and guarding our way (Proverbs 16:17.)