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Given that much of modern science is steeped in atheism/secular humanism/agnosticism, and that those who don't believe in magic or magic persons (God/gods/spirits/demons/fairies, etc.) ironically seem to have an appreciation and nostalgia or longing to create real magic.

Dr. William Schnoblen has stated that atheism is a common gateway to worshipping Satan.

So, it is no wonder that creators of computers and software have chosen naming conventions that can be seen as a gateway for demons and therefore cursing rather than blessing on the lives of those who use them. Anti-God and anti-Christ Jesus, rather than honoring God (YHWH).

The one example I am thinking of is: Daemon - a computer process that runs in the background "invisibly".

How should Christian coders relate to software that can be seen as inadvertently demonic (as opposed to intentionally demonic, e.g. "Diablo"), and obedience to God and not defiling oneself in the biblical sense?

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    Can this be answered objectively? I have strong opinions on this question, but I don't see how an opinion-free answer should look. I doubt this is a subject you can find sources for from denominations (and even if, that would need to restrict the question to a specific denomination).
    – kutschkem
    Oct 8 at 10:52
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    kutschkem is probably right that there aren't any official resources from denominations, however that also provides an answer, because almost all Christians everywhere would say there is absolutely nothing sinful or satanic about any of those names. Are cows satanic because the Egyptians worshipped Hathor? Is the sun satanic because lots of cultures worship it? That's just not how anything works!
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 8 at 11:12
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    @EricHepperle-CodeSlayer2010 In every case, names are man-made. And it's the names that trouble you here, as far as I understand, not the actual things.
    – kutschkem
    Oct 8 at 13:37
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    Sorry to close the "debate" but you know, but like bad code smells, this has the hallmarks of questions that would normally be rejected, it just kind of annoys me that I had to do the mod-hammer close. "Does God" and "How do Christians" are the two things that flag the question as off-topic. I'm not sure Christian coders is a group heterogeneous enough to constitute a doctrinal framework. I think you got some great answers though, but for consistencies sake we can't really allow these kinds of questions (Even if I think it's interesting personally)
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 8 at 18:03
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    @one yeah, I'd like to salvage this question, but I'm not sure how without breaking all the rules. At the very least, the title should be edited. It'd be nice if someone took a stab at it, doesn't necessarily need to be the OP
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 8 at 18:09
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Christians have felt uncomfortable about nomenclature before.

George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement (which today is a very different thing to the way in which George Fox lived and worshipped) disliked having to state the days of the week and months of the year as he felt their origin was heathen and idolatrous, related to Roman and Greek 'deities'.

So he used numbers instead and would say he did such and such on 'the third day of the fourth month' and so on.

Entries in George Fox's journal may be seen where he uses his own nomenclature.

There is a later discussion about the matter written by Henry J Cadbury in the 1920s.

I am aware of Christians today who follow the same custom and for the same reason.

By contrast, in his narrative of the Acts of the Apostles, Luke appears not to avoid mentioning that the Ephesians cried out 'Great is Diana ...' nor to avoid mentioning the ensign which a ship displayed, relating to 'Dioscuri' or the 'Twins' - deities whose name the Romans gave to the stars which we know as Castor and Pollux.

Thus I would suggest that these are matters of individual conscience.

However the Psalmist, David, makes it very clear that in matters related to homage and worship :

Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips. [Psalm 16:4 KJV]

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  • Fascinating re George Fox! Oct 8 at 18:04
  • @OneGodtheFather: Incidentally, I do the same sometimes (i.e. use "2021/06/01" instead of "01 June 2021"). And I don't know why the names of months got stuck the way they are. I mean, why on earth are we using long-dead Roman emperors' names for months just because they changed the original names to their own? On the other hand, we cannot escape from pagan influence in many areas.
    – David
    Oct 10 at 3:24
  • Also interesting to note that as for the names of the week, each language has different history, which may or may not at all related to the same Roman pagan history.
    – justhalf
    Oct 10 at 5:21
  • @David Ya, I'm all up for us changing the month names. They don't make sense anyway in English (September = 7 but it's the 9th month, same for October, November, and December). What should it be guys? Named after Saints? Oct 10 at 18:56
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How should Christian coders relate to software that can be seen as inadvertently demonic (as opposed to intentionally demonic, e.g. "Diablo"), and obedience to God and not defiling oneself in the biblical sense?

I'm going to answer by first analyzing the usage of names/brands, then incorporating it into morality.

About human-made names / brands

By linguistic / sociological / business analysis, we can distinguish the following usage aspects of names / brands given to human-made programming techniques like Linux/Unix daemon and DOS terminate and stay resident (TSR) programs, or programming languages such as Python:

  • Why did the inventor chose those names?
    • Is it a reference to certain behavioral aspect of the programs, making the name a metaphor like the Unix daemon? According to project team member Fernando J. Corbató:

      "We fancifully began to use the word daemon to describe background processes that worked tirelessly to perform system chores"

      inspired by Maxwell's demon.

    • Is it a cultural reference like Python <= Monty Python's Flying Circus?

      the group implied that "Monty" was selected (Eric Idle's idea) as a gently mocking tribute to Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, a British general of World War II; requiring a "slippery-sounding" surname, they settled on "Python"

  • Did the inventor intend to promote something sinister by the names? This is a historical / investigative inquiry. If the intention was simply metaphorical (like the Linux daemon), there was no "marketing" aspect at all. In contrast, the programming language Java and the operating system Windows were consciously named to lead people to desire using them.
  • Is there empirical evidence linking people who use them to becoming more evil in character? This is a social studies inquiry.
  • Is there something inherently evil in the act of using the names / brands? In other words, do users have to necessarily commit an evil act simply by using the product?
  • If the thing referred to by the name / brand is named differently, would it make a difference in the act of using it? For example the equivalent of Linux/Unix daemon is called service in the Windows OS.

It's also helpful to make a few observations:

  • How the days of our week are named after Roman gods and the planets are named after Roman/Greek gods yet we can safely say that 99.99% of the time, their usage by billions of people didn't lead to worship of those gods. (thanks, Nigel & Codosaur)
  • Since the things named are human-made there is no mystery of their origin, unlike natural things (like the sun or the cow) which could lead to superstition, magic, or false religions
  • Human-made implies that the content of the things are completely known, eliminating the mystery of their metaphysical properties that could have lead to using them as amulet, elixir, talisman, etc.
  • Unless the things are intentionally linked to non-human-made entities such as how an idol / graven image is made precisely to worship a god, they should not lead to idolatry
  • Over time, names can lead to associations beyond the inventor's intention, having a life of their own. This is something that PR / marketing experts manage to protect a brand.

Moral aspects of using questionable names in a moral act

Names can play into a human act in a variety of ways:

  1. The name has inherent power / connection to make invocation of the name a moral act. For example, the name of Jesus, where Christians regularly ends prayers with "In the name of Jesus" to mean praying in His authority. Using this name has such tight connection with worship and religion leading to one of the 10 commandments: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
  2. The name as used within a cultural context is commonly associated in a person's mind to something other than the product/thing itself. In contrast, when daemon or Python is used within the programming community, the programmers rarely think about a spiritual being or a snake.
  3. Using the product makes one complicit with the sinister purpose of the inventor of the thing. In using the product the consumer benefits the inventor. In this case, the name itself serves as an enticement or a hook.
  4. Using the product with that name leads to an immoral act beyond the use of the product because of the success / investment of the marketing / public relations to make the connection.

Conclusion

In Christianity, a moral act starts with the intention and purpose in the mind, leading to the execution of the act with the body, and ends with the enjoyment of the act. A moral act has side effects in the world (affecting other people, culture, and environment) as well as in the soul (forming virtues / vices). Christianity provides an objective evaluation of the act, whether it is good or evil.

  • When the name of a human-made product/brand inclines a person to an evil act or makes one complicit (by benefiting the inventor), a Christian should stop using the product.
  • When the name of a product makes one to keep thinking of something evil (although not in the product itself), a Christian should consider deprogramming oneself (or call the product by a different name in his/her mind). For example, if a Linux kernel programmer (who most likely sees the word "daemon" in the source code regularly) find himself/herself attracted to Satanism then maybe he/she should either change job or consider dissociation therapy.
  • When the name has been proven to promote bad association in the culture/society but the product itself is okay, a Christian should attempt to change the name so other people are not compromised in their faith.

Applications:

  1. Should Christians start a campaign to change the names of the days of the week or the names of the planets? Unlikely. No cause and effect demonstrated.
  2. Should Christians stop using Linux or stop programming Python because of later connotation of the names that were not in the inventor's intention (see Ray Butterworth's answer)? Maybe not. Instead, raise awareness to the origin of the terminology should provide "reverse connotation" as language is flexible.
  3. Should Christians stop using games that have been shown to increase interest in witchcraft? Maybe yes.

I hope this answer demonstrates that names in themselves do NOT lead to evil acts. It's the human person who creates/uses/perpetuates the names who is ultimately responsible to make sure that the connotations do not lead to evil acts.

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  • Regarding the second point under your Applications section, I think it'd be interesting to note as well about the recent case of people (in general, not about Christian values) opposing the name of "master"/"slave" branch in Github due to its perceivable link to slavery (and many companies did change the name). This is I think a very important case study regarding names which later got another negative association, which might or might not be initially intentional.
    – justhalf
    Oct 10 at 5:09
  • When choosing baptismal names, the Church forbids names that are foreign to the faith. Foreign meaning offensive. The first pope to change his name did so because his birth name was Mercury!
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 10 at 22:22
  • @justhalf You're right. I remember the pre-SATA era when 3.5" drives had to be jumpered as to their "master"/"slave" role because they shared the same EIDE data cable. The hard drive industry went through a massive effort in updating the hard drive label, manuals, webpages, etc. so they use "primary"/"secondary" instead. Oct 11 at 0:54
  • Oh? It already happened before? I didn't know that. Hm, so it seems like it's not unprecedented then.
    – justhalf
    Oct 11 at 4:48
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The biblical principle that applies to all Christians is that whatever does not come from faith [in God and in Christ Jesus] is sin (Romans 14:23).

The work we do, the way we spend our leisure time, the manner in which we interact with other people should reflect the faith and the hope we have in our Lord and Saviour. This honours God and is a witness to others.

Here is some sound biblical advice for Christians to take to heart and to apply to their lives:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).

Christians should be guided by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. If their conscience is troubled by the sort of work they are doing, then they need to re-evaluate in light of pleasing God by living holy lives, lives that are above reproach, lest they stumble others.

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The formulation of this question is a faulty generalization: it is not because some software project names that get inspiration from mythologies that all software naming is of such nature. A few examples: Lotus, Excel, Perl, C-Sharp, PHP, Node, Dart, Go, UnReal,....

In addition,

Those who don't believe in magic or magic persons (God/gods/spirits/demons/fairies, etc.) ironically seem to have an appreciation and nostalgia or longing to create real magic.

It's not because you are an atheist that you can't appreciate mythology, enjoy the Lord of the Rings, or even study mythology academically. But I see no evidence for "longing to create real magic" to be more pervasive among atheists than among theists. People that go to Comic-Con may enjoy cosplay, but they generally don't think this imbues them with superpowers. And yes, there are Christian cosplayers too.

atheism is a common gateway to worshipping Satan.

This is nonsense. Atheists do not believe there is sufficient evidence for a supernatural dimension, so by definition they do not believe there is sufficient evidence for a deity's underlings.

Anti-God and anti-Christ Jesus, rather than honoring God

I would point out that the planets discovered during the supremacy of Christianity in Europe were all named after Greek and Roman deities, and names of days and months come from pagan deities. The Catholic Church did not attempt to rename any of this at any time in history.

You yourself probably use expressions like "Achilles heel" (a son of Zeus), or put up a Christmas tree, which was originally a pagan tradition. And let's not forget Halloween, wedding rings, fingers crossed, Groundhog Day, Lady Justice, Mother Earth, or the tooth fairy - to name but a few concepts and traditions with pagan origins.

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  • Ah, interesting take on the "atheism is a common gateway to worshipping Satan". I personally see it in the light of Mat 12:30 and John 8:44 in the sense that by not worshipping Jesus, one is worshipping Satan, either intentionally or not. And so calling that atheism is a common gateway to worshipping Satan is kinda implied.
    – justhalf
    Oct 10 at 5:24
  • If you don't believe something exists you can't be said to possibly worship it. That's "kinda implied" by the definition of atheism.
    – Codosaur
    Oct 11 at 7:42
  • Well, the point of what Jesus said is that you don't have to consciously believe in devil in order to be of the devil.
    – justhalf
    Oct 11 at 15:04
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Relating "Python" to a Mexican spirit is really stretching it.

"Terminate and Stay Resident" is simply Microsoft's version of the traditional "fork off and die" method for detaching processes from their parent processes. There is no reason to think it is related to a game company (one that actually competes with MS), simply because they share the same initials.

But even if there were such connections, effectively no one would be aware of them, so such connections would be meaningless.

The other example is the only one worth discussing, since there really are deliberate similarities.


Biblically, demons are fallen angels. They are capable of possessing individual humans and animals, invisibly observing everything that the victims experience and able to alter their behaviour and speech.

People that "hears voices" telling them to do things are exhibiting symptoms of demon possession. Demons spend their time waiting for the right opportunity to make the person do something they wouldn't normally do.

In computers, a daemon is self-contained software that silently lurks in the background of the operating system. It observes what is happening on the computer and, when certain conditions are observed, it initiates specific actions that can potentially affect other software running on the computer.

A "printer daemon" for instance knows how to talk with printers, how to pass data to them, how to get them to print. It spends most of its time just sitting there, doing nothing, waiting for some other program to ask it to print something for them. That way no other software needs to know anything about how printers work; the daemon provides a common means of performing the task and everything associated with it.

In many ways, demons and daemons are very similar.

But notice the spelling. In Greek mythology, "demon" refers to an evil creature, while "daemon" refers to a benevolent spirit.

And in the computer world, no one believes that daemons are living or have anything resembling consciousness. The terminology is simply a conveniently descriptive simile.

The Complete FreeBSD contains an amusing story of one woman's encounter with what she calls "the original Texas rednecks", and their reaction to her BSD-Unix t-shirt: "Hmmm. Interesting. See, we was just wondering why it is you have the lord of darkness on your chest there.".

Berkeley Daemon

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    Thanks for sharing the alt.humor article. Brings back memories, as I was in college (CS major) when the Design & Implementation book came out so my first connotation of that picture was correct within the intended context. But I can see how even savvy everyday computer user who doesn't know any programming, let alone the internal working of Unix, can be troubled by the dissociation between a smile (positive) and demon (negative). The lesson I think is that we have some cultural & social responsibilities when using certain names / images outside the original domain. Oct 8 at 17:29

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