Programming was my god
I originally meant to quietly post this as my Stack Overflow profile, but profiles there are only allowed 3000 characters, so here we are on Medium. Normally I don’t publicly write about sensitive topics that I know are controversial because I dislike controversy and I didn’t want any negative consequences that it might bring. However, this topic is important to me and I’m prepared to accept what may come.
Until January of 2022, programming was one of my gods, and Stack Overflow was a big part of my worship. I was proud of how many reputation points I had and proud of all the gold badges I had collected. I worked many years to achieve these things. That seems a little silly now.
Saying that programming was my god isn’t to say that I wasn’t religious in other ways. I was quite religious. In fact, coding is one of the reasons that made me believe in God. There was a time I doubted God’s existence, but after reading books like Darwin’s Black Box, The Edge of Evolution, and Signature in the Cell, I was amazed at the incredible complexity and design that exists within every living cell. Knowing how difficult it is to write code that not only works but is architecturally sound on multiple levels, I couldn’t believe that things like the DNA replication mechanism or the bacterial flagellum came about by natural processes working on random mutation. They have all the hallmarks of an amazing designer. Who else could this be but God?
Even though I came to believe God existed, I didn’t want to obey Him. I wanted to continue living for myself, doing the things I wanted to do. Outwardly I pretended to be a good person, but secretly I just did the things that made me feel good in the moment. It was all a very empty way of living, though, and I was depressed with my life.
I very much admired the teachings of Jesus, things like loving your enemies, forgiving those who hurt you, giving to those who ask you, doing to others as you would have them to do you, and living an upright life. I really wanted to live that kind of life, but Jesus also said that anyone who wants to follow Him has to give up their life. And that’s where I was stuck. I didn’t want to give up control of my life.
I hesitate to use the word Christian here; this word has been given a bad name because of all the people who have done wicked things in the name of Christ. I also have a low view of these so-called Christians. However, one thing that helped me to understand the Bible’s definition of “Christian” was listening to the recording Who Are You Calling a Christian. A Christian is someone who turns from their old life of rebellion against God, trusts in Jesus as the Son of God, and obeys Him. That person then receives God’s forgiveness and has a new life.
In January of 2022, I finally decided to stop living for myself and surrendered my life to God. I still have a lot of questions, but I don’t regret the decision. Life is so short and I wasted so many years living for myself. I want to spend the rest of my life with an eternal perspective and live to serve God and people. I need God’s help with that because I’m still quite selfish. Call me out if you see me living in a way that doesn’t match the teachings of Jesus.
What does that mean for programming and my activity on Stack Overflow? It probably means that I’ll be less active on SO, but I don’t know what all it means for programming. Jesus said let your yes be yes and your no, no, so for now I know that I need to finish my current programming commitments. I think it’s also very possible that I could use programming as a way to serve God and people.
And for you, dear reader, what does it mean? Well, I have a lot of internet points here on Stack Overflow that I don’t need anymore, so if you want me to add a bounty to your unanswered question, just ping me. I don’t check SO as often as I used to, but I should still eventually see your message. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about anything in my story. The Bible says God loves you, too. And just as He did to me, God is calling you to give up living for yourself and to follow Him.
Here is a follow-up article that I wrote later in the year: