Why "Hacking for Christ"?
This document explains the title of my blog. It actually has two audiences; the first is those who don't understand why I would label myself as a 'computer criminal', and the second is those who don't understand why I would associate myself with 'the principal enemy of moral progress in the world'.
This is probably the most common question; the majority of my blog's readers are people who understand my use of the term 'hacking', but may be bemused or surprised by the 'Christ' part.
Yes, I'm a Christian, and I am one because I am convinced that two thousand years ago, God walked on the earth in order to reveal himself to us. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, predicted in advance, show that he was not merely a 'good man' or even just a prophet. He brought a message of the need to turn away from our rebellion against God (what the Bible calls "sin"), and he made available free, unconditional forgiveness for past and future sins to all who put their trust in him.
This message is the most important one in the world, one which everyone needs to hear. Each of us is going to live forever - either in God's presence or away from it, depending on whether we have accepted Jesus's offer or not. And, as he is the source of all goodness in the universe, eternity separated from him is as unpleasant a prospect as eternity in his presence is a fantastic one.
To many people today, a "hacker" is a computer criminal, someone who breaks into other people's machines for nefarious purposes. However, this usage is comparatively new. The original meanings of the word are preserved within the software community - that is, someone who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, or who is simply a master programmer. It's not unheard of for a word to have two almost opposite meanings - in the UK, at least, "wicked" is another. Wikipedia has more information on the linguistic controversy. So when I use the word "hacking", I am using it in the positive sense to describe the act of programming free software.
God, of course, is the ultimate hacker in the "master programmer" sense - one only needs to briefly peruse of some of the things he has made to see that. The elegance of design in some biological systems is breathtaking. When you compare human DNA to chimpanzee DNA, you see they are around 96% the same. Some people see this as evidence that both evolved from the same original species; I see it simply as sensible code reuse.
So I'm a Christian who hacks. But what does one have to do with the other? In the first century, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in a city called Corinth. He told them: "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31) So there are several secondary reasons why I hack. It's fun. It's intellectually challenging. Free software helps the underprivileged. But the primary reason is because it's the gift I've been given, and I'm charged to use it because doing so glorifies the One who gave it to me.