Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Reality Online Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Reality Online Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

In a previous issue of the Monitor, Daniel Nahmod wrote that "we may be witnessing the yielding of physical reality and experience to the seductive appeal of 'virtual' reality and 'virtual' experience" ("Through the Online Looking Glass," Aug. 26). His article urged readers, "Let's decide for ourselves that we're still people - that frequent and varied human interaction is what we're made of, what truly is in our best and natural interests."

Perhaps millions of people today worry about the apparently unstoppable revolution taking place in the realm of human communication. What can be said that will help us deal positively with the rapid pace of this change?

A central concern would seem to be the possible loss of human identity by venturing into the realm of cyberspace. But consider that long before the communications revolution, people were sometimes encountering severe restrictions on the frequency and variety of their human contacts. Often, this solitude left an individual not with a diminished sense of personal value and identity but with a joyful and reassuring conviction of closer contact with God. One Bible writer went so far as to say, in a hymn of praise to God, "If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (Psalms 139:9, 10). Couldn't this be just as true of someone who might "take the wings" of the communications revolution and "dwell in the uttermost" regions of cyberspace? The Bible tells that we're made in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26). This fact about our true nature is the bedrock of our identity. It applies equally to each and every one of us. Thus our identity is not dependent on the form, variety, or frequency of our human interactions. When the telephone was still new, it must have seemed strange and even frightening to many people. I heard it pointed out that when we are with someone on the phone we're actually with him or her in an early version of cyberspace. But spending a lot of time on the phone is obviously not a threat to our identity. In 1901, the founder of the Monitor was asked by a reporter what she thought of then new phenomena such as electricity and the telephone, and "the pursuit of modern material inventions. …

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