Last time, I said that computer programming is the closest you’ll get to magic in real life. However, there’s a slightly more serious way of thinking about the issue. It might be more accurate to to say computer programming can inform your faith.

In Genesis 1, God creates by speaking. Then God creates humans “in God’s image.” This makes humans an imitation of God. I think the idea is that humans should “take after God,” like children learning from their parents by imitation.

People often say you shouldn’t play God. And they’re right. However, the Bible says we’re supposed to be “imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1, NRSV). That is, we can only be our best selves when we take our cues from the God who is a wise and loving creator.

One way we can do this is through the creative arts. I’m reminded of Tolkien’s discussion of how writers are involved in “sub-creation.” But as odd as it sounds, I think we can also imitate God through computer programming.

Computer programming, like writing a good novel, lets you experience both the joy of creativity and the challenge thereof. You learn how much fun it is to make things that work and are interactive. But you also learn just how difficult it is to make things that work right — and how easy it is for things to go disastrously wrong.

So, programming can teach you humility. It can show you how important it is not to play God “in big ways” (e.g., by doing what the foolish scientists in zombie apocalypse movies are always doing). And it can help you appreciate just how huge an accomplishment our universe is.


Featured image by Sasin Tipchai, who has provided it under a CC0 Public Domain license.