More information is being gathered in our day than can be stored in all the computers, everywhere in the world. According to a special report in The Economist (February 27th), advances in technology now permit the daily gathering of quantities of data so vast, that a special science has developed simply to sift through this data and ferret out the useful from the trivial.
For example, Wal-Mart handles more than 1 million transactions every hour, feeding data bases holding 2.5 petabytes - "the equivaltent of 167 times the books in America's Library of Congress." Cisco Corporation estimates that, within three years, the amount of data "flowing over the internet annually wil reach 667 exabytes..." For some perspective, one exabyte is equal to 10 billion copies of The Economist.
I find this not so much alarming as fascinating. Just think of all the data that is not being observed, gathered, and studied - all the complex interactions occuring in all the plants in the world, the movements of molecules of air, the blood coursing through the bodies of all living things, the cells dividing in all the microorganisms of the vast oceans. Mankind will never be able to observe and record all the information transactions taking place on planet earth, even within the next second - much less throughout the entire cosmos. But all the activities of simple existent translate into data, information, and, in the end, thoughts.
No wonder the psalmist marveled, "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! (Ps. 139.17) For, back of all this information, all the data of every aspect of the entire cosmos, is the mind of God, and of His Word. Physicist-theologian John Polkinghorne, in an attempt to describe the interface between the unseen world of God and His Word and the visible world we inhabit, to give some definition or explanation of this exchange, described the means whereby the world continues to exist as an ineffable, incessant, information transfer from the mind of God to the world of His creation.
How vast indeed is the mind of God! Of what yet unknown powers is our God capable! And how we, who have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16), are to be rebuked to shame for the paltry use we make of this great gift of our Savior.
Great reserves of insight, ideas, plans, and communications, borne in the minds of ordinary believers, are squandered day by day by people who refuse to read, prefer television or video games to conversation, and do not dare to ask or think anything more than what gives them personal comfort each day - in spite of the fact of vast power for more dwelling within us (Eph. 3.20). The world is hungry for information, yet the Christian community barely taps the greatest information gift that God could ever bestow - His own mind.
This is a matter of Christian stewardship, for which, one day, we all will be required to give an account.
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