Intellectual Property guardians would call God a “pirate.”
Open Source: It’s a genuine culture shift that also happens to be global. I’m not referring merely to the process of software development, though it is more pronounced there, but the concept that data should be accessible to any and all without restraint. It’s not a demand that content creators go to great lengths to publish at their own expense, but that they should also make no effort to keep their stuff behind barriers. Let others browse your stuff and decide for themselves what is relevant and worthy of passing on to other folks.
We are up against the root nature of the Fall, the human tendency to control things God didn’t put in our hands. This tendency in turn arises from the fallen instinctive assumption that we are God’s equal in deciding what matters. Human reason is unspeakably arrogant about it’s own capabilities. We are utterly certain we can remake the universe to fit our rational systems.
But when we discover a large number of people who somehow manage to envision an end different from that which grows in our own reason, we have an instinct to seek control over the situation so that the results match our individual vision. To the degree we can persuade others to buy into our vision, we imagine that our reason is somehow “objective” in nature, that there is a quasi-deity that we can call “objective truth” or similar labels. It’s a god made in the image of man’s own intellect. It’s plain old psychological projection, and humans are willing to use whatever leverage they possess to serve that deity.
So by restricting access to their data, they seek to control how it is used. If you don’t join their club — whatever that might mean to them — then you cannot access their knowledge. It becomes a secret. It’s not hard to see how this applies to every official government secrecy system, in that some folks have agreed on a predetermined outcome and hide their data to ensure no one else can use it for other outcomes. They pretend that this serves a valid interest of government, but God said long ago that no secular government is valid in His sight, though He does elect to use some of them much the same way beef produces use cattle. If you aren’t cynical about human governments and the posturing of care for your needs, you don’t understand God’s Word (Luke 22:24-27).
God does not keep secrets; He reveals everything we can handle. The difference here is that God really does know what’s in our best interest. No human government can claim that, because no human government includes Our Creator. Instead, God spends a lot of time dealing with something that typically translates as “mystery” — a word that often includes meanings in our daily use that hinder grasping how God uses it. A word from God is hidden only because something inside us keeps us from getting it. You can allege it’s not different from the “you gotta join our club” type of thinking, but again, the difference is that God is God and humans are not. Whatever it is God has to put out there for us comes from Him and He’s the one who made it all, so if you feel constrained to join His club, at least His is the right club.
But God is all about Open Source in the sense that you only have to learn the language, the means of transmission. That language happens to include a great deal of structure that is alien to folks who read English, for the most part. Sadly, the dominant Western Civilization is flatly hostile to God’s revelation, so we have a lot to overcome. Still, the basic idea behind the Open Source philosophy is consistent with divine revelation.
And it will change things, even if we can hardly guess how. But the die is cast and peaceful promotion of that ethic is godly in that limited sense. We see projects that press this ethic and the gatekeepers call it “piracy.” One man’s pirate is another man’s savior. I say that God is rather pleased with so-called Internet “piracy” in that it is consistent with His divine moral character. What is hidden will be made public, that all things may be revealed to His glory.
So go ahead and take my stuff and use it for your own ends. I practice what I preach and try to make all of my stuff available in formats you can edit to suit your own agenda. If you try to lie about what I’m actually saying, trying to allege I’ve said things I haven’t, it will catch up to you as God sees fit. Steal my ideas and claim you wrote them? I’m not concerned about that; I can always write more and will no doubt do so as long as it’s possible.
I make no apology for “pirating” digitized materials.