Sometimes I wonder what it must have been like for the early European pilgrims and settlers as they landed on the shores of North America in the 17th century. Their new world was bigger than they could have imagined. A world with tremendous potential. Vast territory to explore. Fresh opportunities for freedom and progress. Yet there were also dangers, and the people would have to go forward prepared for the journey, watchful, learning from experience.
In many ways, the new world of the Internet - the World Wide Web - is like that. And there's a whole new breed of explorers charting the course, with countless others following. Some estimates say that as many as 100 million people, or two percent of the globe's population, currently access the Internet. And it's predicted that within the next five years that number could grow to one billion, or 20 percent of the earth's people. Trend watchers predict that the Internet will not only change the whole climate of business and commerce but significantly alter our day-to-day lives as well. Logging on to our computers at home, we'll shop for groceries and pay taxes, research virtually any subject, and even earn a full college degree. The potential is extraordinary, but there are also cautions and possible pitfalls, including cybercrime, increased invasions of privacy, and the loss of certain types of jobs in the transition.
Yet however the Internet develops, it already offers individual users a range of information and knowledge that was previously unheard of. Sometimes it can even seem that there are more choices, facts, and information (and misinformation) than we know what to do with. And with all of this to sort out, along with the potential and the pitfalls, where can we turn? How can we proceed wisely and safely, and realize the greatest benefit?
The following answer may not be what many Web browsers or computer gurus might at first expect. It largely has to do with gaining a spiritual viewpoint of intelligence and of progress. And then bringing the resulting perspective, insight, and inspiration to both the use and development of appropriate technologies.
The Science of Christianity maintains that all intelligence is actually a fundamental quality of God, the infinite and universally present Mind. The intelligence of infinite Mind is necessarily unlimited. Because Mind is God and God is good, true intelligence is also good. Divine intelligence is orderly, not chaotic. And each of us, as God's creation - Mind's expression - has instant access to this intelligence. It isn't artificial or manufactured. It isn't faulty or subject to loss, glitches, or viruses. There is only real, omnipresent intelligence, expressing itself in each of us as wisdom, inspiration, spiritual intuition - the constant capacity to know exactly what we need to know.
As we understand the source and substance of intelligence to be God, and then see our own nature to be God's wholly intelligent expression, we progressively have the mental acuity and dominion we need. This leads us forward, with moral and spiritual clarity, to make wise use of new technologies in whatever manner is appropriate. Some of us will even play a significant part in helping to develop and advance these technologies in productive ways.
In 1901 the New York Herald interviewed Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science. When asked about "modern material inventions," she spoke of how they can be properly utilized to help lead thought forward and break barriers of limitation. She responded, in part: "They all tend to newer, finer, more etherealized ways of living. They seek the finer essences" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 345).
With a spiritual viewpoint, we'll be able to approach the Internet frontier with confidence. We'll be able to stay in control. The new tool will be an effective servant, not a master. It will "seek the finer essences."
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society