Ours is the Information Age. But we need to get past that. As Tim Challies points out (in The Next Story), we should be able to move from data information knowledge understanding wisdom. God calls us to live with wisdom. In a digital age, we rarely get beyond information.
Information used to be scarce. In biblical times people had access to less information in their whole lifetime than can today be stored in a mobile phone. Yet they understood wisdom. Today we all have access to incredible volumes of information. By the end of 2010 there was over a zettabyte of information available (think of 75 billion i-pads stuffed to capacity). By 2020 that will have increased by 44 times (that’s a stack of DVD’s all full of data, reaching halfway to Mars).
How do we get from information to knowledge? Perhaps the key to moving beyond our access to information and into true knowledge lies in what we commit to memory. That’s where we store what we know. But in the digital world, memory is increasingly outsourced. You don’t need to be able to know or remember anything – just know where to look it up. When you want medical information about some strange symptoms you see, just do a google search.
It is now harder to remember things; our memory has become flabby. But in biblical terms, memory is not simply the storage of data in the brain; it is a living, dynamic reality by which information passes through our brains and into our hearts. Bible memorization is a matter of saying, like David, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” That is different to saying “I have a complete Bible on my iPhone so I can look up the references on lust every time I am tempted.” Jesus did not google for Bible verses to throw at the devil when he was tempted.
Be wary of a technology that changes us from being the kinds of people God created us to be; outsourced memory leads to empty minds and empty hearts no longer able to process information into knowledge into wisdom.