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Safe from cyberworld crime

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

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About a year ago, Megan, a teenager from Dardenne Prairie, Mo., became the target of an e-mail hoax attacking her character. It eventually led Megan to commit suicide. The perpetrator wasn't a shadowy cyberpredator, but neighbors – one of them apparently the mother of another teenager, who felt driven to know what Megan was saying about her own daughter.

Just as Johannes Gutenberg may not have foreseen how his invention of movable type sometimes would be used for base and destructive purposes, the innovators who first conceived the network-linked computers now known as the Internet may never have foreseen its potential misuse, even for malicious attacks and criminal acts.

These inventors' aims were largely good and noble. Their inventions revolutionized communication. Then why the perversion of these remarkable gifts to humanity? What makes people take good concepts and do bad things with them? And are there any reliable means of defense in a world so pervaded by electronic communication which can enter your personal space through your personal computer anonymously and tamper with your thinking?

The printing press was as transformative when invented as the Internet is today. On some of the first printed pages to come off his world-changing press, Gutenberg could have read (in Latin) the Apostle Paul's lament: "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do" (Rom. 7:19). The Bible shows that evil is essentially a deceptive inclination to think and do things contrary to the nature of God and His creation. When someone is ignorant of, or willfully blind to, the divine good and gives in to such base instincts as envy, greed, revenge, malice, or even obsessive curiosity, he or she is prone to err – to do "the evil which I would not."


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