About three weeks ago, a link was posted on Slashdot that featured a website criticizing Apple Computer of its anti-christian views, written by Dr. Richard Paley of Fellowship University. The article was so striking that I was unsure of whether to laugh or be scared at the sheer ignorance that the author of the essay wrote. The Apple computer portion is buried at the bottom of the article, after a similar exploration of the supposed anti-christian overtones of the PBS series “Evolution.”
Before I get into talking about Apple Computer and the errors Dr. Paley has made, I want to talk briefly about the “Evolution” section of his essay. Paley calls evolution a “Secular Humanistic psuedo-science.” I will not try to deny him the ability to say what he wishes, but he should realize that evolution, as a science, is just as valid as physics or chemistry. By definition, theology and religion are spiritualistic, and therefore, not science. In addition, Paley likes to equate Darwin to the father of evolutionary theory. He was not a pioneer in that regard; Darwin only gave us the idea of “natural selection,” whereby those organisms (human or otherwise) who are better adapted to their environment will survive while the others die out. Even many Christians believe this, in a modified form, even if they don’t realize it. Those individuals, including Dr. Paley, would rather see anyone who does not believe in their views, will die and spend eternity in Hell; their version of adaptation is a belief in God. Again, I want to stress that I am not attempting to discredit Paley’s belief in God, but that his approach is somewhat misguided, mainly due to a lack of research and clarity of language.
To get to the real heart of the matter….
The first major error that is made evident about Apple Computer is the misunderstanding of the name “Darwin.” It is being used to describe the operating system that is naturally superior to others on the market. It is merely used as a marketing term and was used as a working title internal to the company. That much should be perfectly clear.
In the first addendum, a reference is made to Hexley, the mascot for OS X (not “Darwin OS,” as the article uses as a reference). Paley assumes that the mascot was designed “no doubt to influence children.” What he fails to consider is that it is drawn as a cartoon because there are no platypus-in-devil-costumes in the wild. Since it is a fictional mascot, it had to be drawn. And as far as performing hexes, that is a bit of a stretch. The name actually comes from a pun on the term, ‘hexidecimal,’ the base-16 number system that is commonly used in the computer industry. Hexidecimal is a great deal easier for humans to work with than a true binary system, using only ones and zeroes.
Addendum III also contains a slew on misconceptions and problems. It comments that BSD is obsolete, when that is not the case. Obviously, Dr. Paley has been brainwashed by Microsoft with that idea. And a simple check of the Jargon File tells us that the pitchfork held by the BSD mascot is representative of the idea of the server programs that run on BSD systems fork, or put themselves into the background so that other programs can be used by the user until those “daemons” (properly spelled, since the derivation is from the mythological spelling) are needed. In fact, every server program could be called a daemon because of this behavior! The web server hosting the page proclaiming the Christian holiness over evolution and Apple Computer is a force of evil, according to Paley’s interpretation of “daemons.”
The final technological misconception that I’d like to point out occurs in Addendum IV. Dr. Paley claims, “To open up certain locked files,” the user must “type in a secret code: ‘chmod 666′.” Paley is correct in the actual command, except for not giving a filename to apply the command to. However, he is not aware of why this is the case. The ‘chmod’ stands for CHange MODe. The ’666′ portion of the command relates to the permissions allowed on that file. The subject of permissions is simply too complex to discuss in this essay. However, any beginners book on Linux or Unix or BSD will have a detailed discussion of file and directory permissions. Suffice it to say that ‘chmod 666′, if Paley were to have done complete research, is actually a known bad idea in terms of computer security. It allows anyone who has any access to the computer on which the file resides the capability to read, write, or delete that file. There are only a very limited number of circumstances in which this is the desired result.
As a computer user for over fifteen years, and one who has administered my own Linux system for more than two, I resent the comment made by Dr. Paley about computer users (which he is subtely equating to Pagans) being “poor spellers.” I dare someone to find a grammatical error in this particular work. There are many of us who do not hold the exact same beliefs that Dr. Paley and his followers that are rather pedantic about our grammar. Educated people in general, including Christians and computer users, are generally rather particular about the written and spoken words that they produce. And as far as the other examples of poor spelling by the computer-savvy community, they can be traced, in almost all cases, to either mythological or medieval origin.
The most troublesome aspect of this whole article is how absolutely stubbornly closed-minded Dr. Paley is. I fear that he is representative of the whole community. The basis for the Christian religion is to teach non-believers the truth about Jesus Christ and God. All Dr. Paley and those who think and act like he does, simply wish to cast everyone else down. These so-called “Christians” go completely against what God’s love really means. The fundamentalists, like Dr. Paley, are nearly as detrimental to our collective community, online and in the real world, as the Muslim fundamentalists that are out to destroy American ideals and lifestyles. In certain respects, they are worse because of their subtle insidiousness. Dr. Paley has a PhD, and that is commendable. His words, on the other hand, describe a secretly hateful thought that tends to find its way through all fundamentalist groups. This despise of ‘outsiders’ is what leads to conflict and suffering.