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Byte of the Apple

October 30, 2006

I have been asked how the spirit/soul distinction would play out in actual
life. The following is a parable that reflects a certain conception of how
it may work. Admittedly, it is speculation and not doctrine, but I
think it accords well with Scripture. I understand also that people are
not computers, but they are perhaps built in the image of man.

The computer consists of material and immaterial elements. The material is most obvious; this is the hardware. There is the box containing the central processing unit (the brain of the computer), the power source, and many other components. There are also the peripherals: the devices for input from and output to the surrounding environment. The monitor, the keyboard, the mouse, the printer and other peripherals are the means for the computer to have an impact on and be impacted by the world around it. (Body)

But there is a non-material element as well, the software. The software mostly impacts the central processing unit, but also regulates how the central calculating function interacts with the peripherals. Software is a very real thing (as testified by anyone who has had to pay for it), and yet it has no physical existence. It may be held or stored in the memory of the computer or on various media, but the software itself is basically pattern. However, when someone interacts with the “computer,” they are in reality interacting with a program. If you wish to divide the software further, it may have logic elements, evaluation algorithms, and command functions, among others. But we are not going to be concerned here with subdividing the on board software. (Soul)

Now, the computers I am concerned about were designed and intended to function on a network. As such they have an additional element, also within the non-physical part of the system. Yes, we could think of this as just another part of the software, but for reasons I hope to demonstrate, I am presenting it separately. This software element allows the individual computer to function on the network. It allows for input and output from a remote source. This source is not local, and is not perceptible or visible from the local environment. In a way it is analogous to the hardware, particularly the peripherals. As these allow interaction with the local environment, this special element of the software allows interaction with the unseen, remote environment where the central command function exists, where coordination with other individual computers happens, and where vast resources of information and analysis are available. (Spirit)

Now since such computers are designed to operate on the network, they really would not function properly without this constant flow from the network. The on board systems would soon begin to show faulty results if ever the contact with the network were to be interrupted. There are other types of computers and similar electronic devices that operate as isolated units with only the benefit of on board programming, but these are inferior machines, and not able to fulfill the goals the designer had in mind for the network computers. It is true that if the network connection were lost, these computers would be reduced to functioning in a way similar to these independent devices, only with more power and speed. In a way they would still be more impressive machines, but on the other hand, they would shortly be outputting nonsense all the more rapidly due to their increased efficiency.

  • The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:14)

Now as it happens, the first of these computers were installed and turned on and functioned for a while on line, as they were designed. However, due to some bad input from a certain device that was loaded with malware (thanks to an unscrupulous hacker), the computers selected a process that violated one of the designer’s basic protocols. The malware gave the impression that it would radically enhance the informational and analytical ability of the computers to a degree that imitated the central command function of the network. However, the actual result was quite other: the network connection was broken, and the computers went off line.

  • But God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ (Gen. 3:3)
  • But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5)
  • Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. (Rom. 5:12)

The computers immediately began to function badly and showed faulty coordination between them. Internal error messages began to pop up and processes were initiated to try and compensate, but soon the pattern of the software began to be a mess.

Right away the network administrator was alerted, and an order was issued to remedy the situation. Actually, all this was anticipated, and a preexisting plan went into effect. This would not be a simple task, however.

These computers were self replicating, and when the first new units appeared, there was some hope they would be free of the bug. But it turns out that from the onset they were not only off line, but they were loaded with malware passed on from the progenitors. Naturally, they quickly picked up malware of their own and each malfunctioned in its own particular way.

  • so death spread to all men because all sinned (Rom. 5:12)

The malfunctioning computers were duly scheduled for disposal and destruction, but the designer intentionally allowed this action to be delayed, while he carried out a salvage plan.

  • For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)
  • God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
  • What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Rom. 9:22)

Since input from the network was no longer possible through the special network system, any interaction with the administrator would have to be done through the physical peripherals. So a sampling of network resources was published on CD, which could, of course, be read in the appropriate reader in the computer hardware. Everything on the disc correctly represented the network central command and the intentions of the designer. However, it should not be thought that the computers would be able to run simply off this disc. This was not its function. Oh, it was tried, but the results were a failure. The best that could be achieved was a few processes that appeared to function adequately for a while, but they were really only mimicking the true operations.

  • For sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. (Rom. 5:13)
  • For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Rom. 3:10)

To make matters worse the hacker was still around and slipping in viruses, Trojan horses, and other malware anywhere he could, and it seems some stray non-network signals may even have been picked up by the open but off line network system, and more malware came in this way.

The actual function of the disc at this point was more diagnostic: it basically provided a checklist of commands that demonstrated whether a given computer was functioning off line or on line. Of course, at first, since every unit was off line, the results were uniform. As the commands were input, they would search for the best match. The commands were really only compatible with on line network functions, and so mostly they did not compute at all. On occasion one of the commands would get a hit, of sorts. For example, the command would be “DO NOT EXECUTE PROCESS XYZ.” Well, it would then hit some internal programming that said “EXECUTE PROCESS XYZ,” and it would figure that this was close enough, and so process XYZ would be executed. So strange as it may seem, the disc, which only contained correct programming caused even more malfunction than without it. Ah, but this was a diagnostic key, because it showed the problem was located on board the unit, and it was trying to function off line.

  • I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. (Rom. 7:7-8)
  • It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. (Rom. 7:13)
  • So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Rom. 7:17)

After the CD step had been in place for some time, the truly decisive phase began. A pristine unit was introduced, identical in every way to the other computers, only it had never been off line and had not a single speck of malware on board. It functioned flawlessly as it was perfectly attuned to the network. For once, a computer was fulfilling its designed function.

  • But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law (Gal. 4:4)
  • …one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15)

Naturally, this ticked off the hacker, who tried and failed to introduce bad data into this unit. Unable to defeat it this way, the hacker arranged to have some to the other units abuse the computers hardware, in fact the machine was so badly damaged that the lights went out, and not a flicker of life remained. Not to worry, the designer said “We can rebuild him; we have the technology.” And so the perfect computer was rebuilt in record time, but now had indestructible hardware!

  • Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

Well, not only was the hacker’s plans for the demise of the perfect computer thwarted, the attack itself put into play a process that would reverse much of the damage he had inflicted on the other units. Due to an important policy of the designer, faulty computers slated for the refuse heap could be reclaimed under the same rationale by which the perfect computer was reinitiatedIt would be a step-by-step process, but eventually each computer involved would be rebuilt in the same indestructible material as the perfect computer.

  • For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18)
  • those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom. 8:30)
  • and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor. 15:52)

First, the network would send out a signal that would reinitiate the link for an individual computer. That unit would start to send and receive data over the network and would once again benefit from the information and analysis provided by the designer. The computer would be in the network and the network would be in the computer as the special network software fulfilled its function.

  • No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. (John 6:44)
  • And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom. 8:30)
  • Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Now, things were not yet as before (though would be one day, since the designer was adamant about this), since the bundle of on board software was loaded with those viruses, Trojan horses, and other malware. Pop-ups continued to happen, often with embarrassing results. Nevertheless, the network input began to clean these out little by little.

  • but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)

Amazingly, when the same CD that caused malfunction earlier was put in one of these newly on line computers, the diagnostic function showed the presence of network activity! Not to say that everything worked appropriately at this stage, certainly not. But things were better than before. There still were bad hits, but there were some good hits, too. Imperfect though they were, the designer still managed to get some function out of them.

  • Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (1 Cor. 2:12)

Of course, each unit would eventually wear out and would cease to function. Generally, there was still considerable malware remaining on board at this time, but this is really irrelevant. The designer would himself finish off the remaining clean-out task, and hold the software ready for the day when all the units would get the new indestructible software.

  • away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8)
  • we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Rom. 8:23)

While the hardware was still operational though, and even though the on board software still would cause significant glitches, the designer employed his re-linked computers to help brings other selected units on line.

  • All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18)

It’s really a beautiful thing how these computers would function together in sub-networks. Some could perform certain of the designer’s functions better than others, and be working grouped one filled in what another lacked, and in a well-formed group all the functions were represented by one unit or another. Also the interaction between them was also used by the designer to eradicate the malware little by little. And best of all, together the little groups of reclaimed computers would send grateful signals to the designer of all, who had never been caught off guard, and whose perfect wisdom was beyond computation.

  • But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Cor. 12:18-20)
  • Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (Heb. 13:15)
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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    December 29, 2006 2:59 pm

    Marvin,

    Thanks for your posting. I’ve not yet responded as I’m still pondering your comments, but did want you to know that I’d seen and appreciate them.

    Merry Christmas…

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