Johannes Gutenberg created the printing press that became society’s tool to disseminate information. Some have credited the printing press with both the Protestant Revolution and the Scientific Revolution as the ideas that the powers kept locked up became more widely known and available. Anyone could become an expert simply by reading.
Mark Twain is quoted as saying:
“What the world is today, good and bad, it owes to Gutenberg. Everything can be traced to this source, but we are bound to bring him homage… for the bad that his colossal invention has brought about is overshadowed a thousand times by the good with which mankind has been favored.”
I think in a few hundred years we’ll look back at Google as being Gutenberg 2.0 for its commitment to making the world’s knowledge accessible.
In news making my inner academic squeal, Google has made publicly available high-resolution images of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the most exciting archaeological find in the 20th century…period. I took a Dead Sea Scrolls class in undergrad and was enthralled by them and wished I had real copies of them that were not degraded by copy machines and internet-compressed jpegs.
Gutenberg’s real offer to society wasn’t any new idea or political point. His real offer was a tool that made one’s own discernment and fact-checking easier and publicly available and held authority figures accountable for their claims.
I think the more people that are able to see and understand biblical text transmission, transliteration, and transcription, and the more people that understand the canonization process, they will come to a greater understanding (beyond literalism) of what it means when we call the text “The Word of God” and how much of a role humans play in making that a reality.