1/11/07

"Open Your Mind Too Much and Your Brains Will Fall Out"

My grandfather passed away last Thanksgiving. He was a great man of God. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to his funeral. The title of this post is one of the greatest things I ever heard him say. At first I questioned the wisdom of it, but the longer I live the more I see its truth.

Alas, this post is not about my grandfather. It's about a movement I just discovered on Wikipedia called Open Source Religion.

I remember back when I was at Nicolet Bible Institute there was a time when it just hit me . . . this thing is real! I don't know whether it was the classes or the experience or maybe one of the stories told by Dave Wager, the president of NBI, but at one point I just sat back and realized that as a Christian I am part of something that sheds light on and exposes the truth of existence rather than stumbling around in the dark trying to "feel out" what's there.

I once heard someone say that whenever "consensus" is involved you are no longer dealing in truth. If you get a bunch of people to stand around and agree on something that's not what truth is. Truth either is or it isn't. The idea that "Open Source Religion" is a great way to go is absurd on that basis. Religion isn't just about "feeling good" or "doing right" or any kind of philosophy. Religion is about acknowledging the God who exists whether we want Him to or not and realizing that, as Creator, He knows best. The idea that a bunch of people can sit around and agree on religious practices is like a bunch of computers programing their own operating parameters.

Open Source started as a movement to create computer programs with the idea that the more input and the more access users had to these programs the better they could eventually become. Open Source programs are generally free of charge, easy to use and easy for a programmer to change around to their preference, should they see fit. The Open Source methodology has spread around the world and lead to the development user-generated and user-driven websites which have fallen under the category of "Web 2.0." It has lead Geeks to be King and the Internet to be their Kingdom. Open source works because such geeks understand how the programs work, how they can change it around, and they're able to do it without running into legal problems.

Now, last I knew, no one really understands the intricacies of how a life-form works. They can study systems and observe how it flows and log their findings, but when it comes right down to the basic question "how?" no one can really tell you the answer. This is not only true for life-forms, but for the universe in general. You can study all the planets, all the solar systems, all the galaxies you want, but if I ask you how gravity works, you can never really be sure. And this is where Open Source Religion falls flat on its face. If Religion is about truth and Open Source is about manipulating the object of it for its evolution into perfection, then the two are incompatible. Open Source is a great methodology for manipulating those things which we understand, but before we go applying it to something so grand and so far-reaching as Religion we'd better first be sure we understand the universe. And as Albert Einstein once said: "You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother."

Open dialog about such matters as religion and various other topics is good. There's no question about that. But don't you dare think that you've come to a good conclusion unless such an open dialog has lead to a clear understanding. If the dialog ends and you still believe the subject could be up for debate, it is foolish to think that any conclusion on the subject should be set as any kind of standard.