by Joel Adams
Calvin College is a Christian college in the reformed tradition, embracing the biblical themes of
That is, God is working to bring humanity and the creation back into a right relation with Himself, a process that began with Jesus’ death (Romans 8:19-23), and that will be completed when His kingdom is finally established (Revelations 21, 22).
One of the distinctives of reformed Christianity is its teaching that all aspects of life have been affected by the fall. Genesis 3 shows this clearly when the fall disrupts people’s relationships with (i) God, (ii) each other, (iii) their work, and (iv) the world around them.
Another reformed distinctive is that Christians are the agents through whom redemption occurs. The idea is that as Christians, we are obliged to live all aspects of our lives in a way pleasing to Him, including our play, our work, and so on — all aspects of life are subject to Jesus’ lordship. By living all facets of our lives consistently with Jesus’ teachings, we redeem those facets, and advance His kingdom.
For the Christian computer scientist, one implication of this is that our work in the area of computing is one of the things to be redeemed. Put differently, humanity’s fall and God’s curse has affected a variety of relationships, including those involving computers. (It is an interesting thought experiment to speculate on how the human-computer relationship might be different if the fall had not occurred.) It is thus important for the Christian computer scientist to consider what aspects of computing are in need of redemption?
Since computers are a part of the creation, and God commanded ourancestors to exercise dominion over the creation (Genesis 1:28), then the proper relationship between people and computers is for people to exercise dominion over computers.
The vast majority of the people I know would describe their relationship with their computer as one of frustration, rather than dominion. Instead of enhancing our productivity and making life simpler, the computer dominates us far more than we dominate it. The reasons for this inversion are numerous: buggy or poorly designed applications, interfaces designed to simplify life for the implementer instead of the end-user, programming languages that seem to be designed with no concern for readability, and so on.
Thus, there are a number of ways that the Christian computer scientist can work to redeem computing:
These are just a few of the areas where the computer scientist who is a Christian can work to redeem computing.
In summary, one task of the Christian computer scientist is to bring healing anywhere that pain exists in the endeavor of computing.