Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The GodBlocker

If you're anything like me, you read a ton - news, magazines, books, blogs - whether it be online or the old-fashioned way. A lot of times as I'm catching up on the news, I get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again - the latest Justin Bieber article, or worse - what shocking thing Lady Gaga just did (sad that this qualifies as "Breaking News"). Or else there's the latest failed Bachelor or Bachelorette couple. Or perhaps you're overwhelmed by the constant reporting concerning the BP oil spill or some other real-world news story that you find depressing or annoying. Being a technology geek I love when I come across new technologies that serve a purpose to make life easier or less cluttered. Recently I've read about web developers who have created browser plug-ins that scrub the browser of any and all mention of whatever or whoever you choose. Perhaps the most popular was created as a Firefox application that blocks any and all mention of Justin Bieber (called "Shaved Bieber"). So if you apply that plug-in to your Firefox browser then you can browse the world wide web free of any mention whatsoever of Justin Bieber. I, for one, think that's awesome (hopefully I won't receive any death threats for mentioning that - some people love them some Bieber). The same thing has been done in other ways as well - there is the "Ex-Blocker" which blocks any mention of ones ex - be it girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, or significant other. And, for that matter, it can be used to block anyone from your browser view. Kind of funny. Kind of sad. But if that wasn't crazy enough, there is also a browser plug-in which allows you to block any and all mention of...God. "GodBlock" is the name of this product, and it is becoming quite popular. In the developers words, it is designed to "hide religious content from impressionable kids." When visiting the web site for this product, you further read the following: 

"GodBlock is a web filter that blocks religious content. It is targeted at parents and schools who wish to protect their kids from the often violent, sexual, and psychologically harmful material in many holy texts, and from being indoctrinated into any religion before they are of the age to make such decisions. When installed properly, GodBlock will test each page that your child visits before it is loaded, looking for passages from holy texts, names of religious figures, and other signs of religious propaganda. If none are found, then your child is allowed to browse freely. In the last century, the United States has seen a resurgence of fundamentalist religion. Fundamentalist Evangelicals, Mormons, Baptists, Muslims, and Jews have held back progress in science, human rights, civil rights, and protecting our environment. How can we reverse this trend and join the rest of the world in the gradual secularization of society and government? Most deeply religious people are born into their religion, but even children raised in a secular household are vulnerable to content on the web. That's why we've produced GodBlock."

There is no question that there are religious extremes that give true Christianity a black eye, and I wouldn't want anyone to be exposed to the hate-mongering and false teaching that exists with such fringe belief systems. But, unfortunately, this blocker will remove ALL mention of God - which includes all that is true and good about him, his nature, and his purposes. In other words - real faith. Now God is certainly bigger than a browser plug-in attempting to completely silence all mention of him to the world wide web audience (which, by the way, one would have to choose to do - this is not a default setting for any web browser). But the mere idea of such a resource speaks to a larger problem that is growing in society, and the web site supporting this product sums it up well, "How can we...join the rest of the world in the gradual secularization of society and government?" To me, that is a great summation of what is taking place all around us today - secular humanism is seeking to block God from everything. Even traditional denominations are desperately trying to move toward a level of tolerance on secular and social issues, even political matters, that removes God and the truth of his word from focus. As I read about this shift, I couldn't help but think about Psalm 14.

Psalm 14:1-5a (ESV)

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD? There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous."

The literal translation of the phrase "there is no God" in verse one is, "No, God." Only a fool would say no to God. Only a fool would say that there is no God. Only a fool would seek to block all mention of God from existence. Throughout history men have tried to destroy God and his word. In A.D. 300 the Roman emperor Diocletian ordered every Bible burned because he thought that by destroying the Scriptures he could destroy God and Christianity. Anyone caught with a Bible would be executed. But just 25 years later, the Roman emperor Constantine ordered that 50 perfect copies of the Bible be made at government expense. The French philosopher Voltaire, a skeptic who destroyed the faith of many people, boasted that within 100 years of his death, the Bible would disappear from the face of the earth. Voltaire died in 1728. The irony of history is that 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society moved into his former house and used the Gutenberg printing press to print thousands of Bibles.

Trying to block God and his word is not a new concept. It has happened before and it will happen again. But perhaps the best answer to individuals who seek to block out God and his word from existence would do well to remember Matthew 24:35, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."