Computers and God

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Information about Computers and God

Published on September 26, 2008

Author: aSGuest216


Jan 26 2004, MIT What do Computers tell us about God?:Reflections of a Computer Scientist : Jan 26 2004, MIT What do Computers tell us about God?:Reflections of a Computer Scientist Hooman Katirai Dual Masters Candidate Computer Science /Technology & Policy Humans can create universes : Humans can create universes Inside a computer Like our universe have Creatures Laws lend insight to Relationship between creator and created Case in point Game of Life (Conway ’70) Game of Life (Conway ’70) : Game of Life (Conway ’70) Universe: A Simple Grid Creatures: Yellow cells Empty Space Gray cells The Game of Life’s Universal Laws : The Game of Life’s Universal Laws 1. Birth: dead cell with 3 live neighbors becomes alive 2. Survival: live cell with 2-3 live neighbors stays alive 3. Death: all other cases, cell dies or remains dead (loneliness or over-crowding). More sophisticated Universes : More sophisticated Universes Creatures can learn Example: Creature behavior governed by probability matrix Probabilities updated with experience Free will simulated by picking behavior according to probabilities Evolution Survival of fittest Suppose you wanted to communicate with your creatures : Suppose you wanted to communicate with your creatures Could you: enter their world? turn yourself into a square on the grid? Solution : Solution Since you cannot enter their universe you must control something in their universe i.e. to speak to your creatures you require an intermediary i.e. this man cannot be God Communication via an Intermediary : Communication via an Intermediary God Our Universe Messenger Us Messengers = {… ,Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Mohamed, Bab, Baha’u’llah, … } Closest we can get to God but they are not God. Evidence from Christianity : Evidence from Christianity Christ is an intermediary who carries actions of God on earth: “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” -John 8:28 (King James Version) Further evidence of distinction between Christ & God: “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” -Mark 13:32 And Islam : And Islam Mohammed is an intermediary that delivers message of God to man: “Even as We have sent unto you a messenger [Mohammed] from among you, who reciteth unto you Our revelations and causeth you to grow, and teacheth you the Scripture and wisdom …” -The Qur'an, 2:151 “Muhammad is but a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) have passed away before him.” -The Qur'an 3:144 And Judaism : And Judaism Moses in an intermediary that delivered God’s message to Humankind: “Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I [God] commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, even statutes and ordinances.” -Prophets And the Bahá’i Faith : And the Bahá’i Faith Confirms idea of human intermediary "since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation … " God ordains that "in every age … a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven" (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 232) If you were to speak to your creatures .. : If you were to speak to your creatures .. What Language: English? their language? “All that I have revealed unto thee … hath been in accord-ance with thy capacity and understanding, not with My state and the melody of My voice.” (Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words) Level of communication: According to our capacity? Or their capacity? On Miracles : On Miracles Should not constitute a “proof”: Except to observers Even then there are often alternate explanations Miracles : Miracles Nonetheless, we can see how miracles could be easy for creator Example: Game of Life can create life simply by flipping a bit from a 0 to a 1 in the grid. a power creatures do not have So, why not have a miracle side-show to quell all doubts? Free Will vs. Miracles : Free Will vs. Miracles If God performed miracles on demand forced to acknowledge him lose autonomy to recognize (or reject) creator Suppose instantaneous {punishment, correction, guidance} for ‘wrong’ acts. Puppet vs. Growing being -controlled vs. guided -little or no autonomy vs. free will & choice: -brute vs. noble being -loss of self vs. self -no capacity for altruism vs. capacity for altruism How might our creatures perceive us? : How might our creatures perceive us? “The world of our creator is vast and composed of infinite number of squares.” “Our creator is large, composed of an infinite number of bits” “The creator is the source of all life” “The creator is all-powerful.” “The creator exists above time. Can see the future; knows the past.” “The creator is omniscient (all-knowing).” TAKEAWAY: God is unknowable! Parallels in Bahá’i Writings : Parallels in Bahá’i Writings On Praise: “To have accepted any act or praise from Thy creatures is but an evidence of the wonders of Thy [God’s] grace and bountiful favors, and a manifestation of Thy generosity and providence.” -Baha'u'llah On Unknowability: “… souls shall be perturbed as they make mention of Me [God]. For minds cannot grasp Me nor hearts contain Me.” -Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words But isn’t God All-Powerful? : But isn’t God All-Powerful? Can’t God turn himself into a human? Equivalent question: “Couldn’t God turn himself into a square in Game of Life?” Power of the Creator (cont’d) : Power of the Creator (cont’d) What do we mean by all-powerful? In Game of life we are all-powerful because We can: change game’s state to any state alter universal laws no creature can stand in our way Limits of God’s Power : Limits of God’s Power Though “All-Powerful” in Game of Life Can we turn ourselves into a square? 1 bit needed to represent square Bits required to represent a human? Information loss Power of God (cont’d) : Power of God (cont’d) If humans can’t be represented in 1 bit Can God? From the Bahá’i Writings : From the Bahá’i Writings “… that invisible yet rational God … can in no wise incarnate His infinite, His unknowable, His incorruptible and all-embracing Reality in the concrete and limited frame of a mortal being.” -(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'llah, p. 112) Power of God : Power of God Takeaway: Even power of God has limits All Powerful ≠ Ability to do anything Specifically God cannot be not God What if .. : What if .. power withheld from computer for even a few seconds? “.. if for one moment the tide of His mercy and grace were to be withheld from the world, it would completely perish” -Bahá'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'llah, p. 68 Is the universe an abandoned experiment? : Is the universe an abandoned experiment? According to Bahá’i Writings: We are created of love:“… I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee ….” -Baha'u'llah, The Hidden Words The loving creator guides us: “… Were it not for the love of God the holy books would not have been revealed. Were it not for the love of God the divine prophets would not have been sent to the world … ” -Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 90 Can we develop a relationship with an “unknowable God?” : Can we develop a relationship with an “unknowable God?” Prayer: the creator can communicate with us via inspiration “A servant is drawn unto Me in prayer until I answer him; and when I have answered him, I become the ear wherewith he heareth....“ -Quran 83:28 "For the core of religious faith is that mystical feeling which unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer.” Baha’i Writings: Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 506 How do we develop a relationship with an “unknowable God?” (cont’d) : How do we develop a relationship with an “unknowable God?” (cont’d) Reading Sacred Scriptures (messages sent by creator) Meditation On spiritual teachings (to understand messages from creator) Striving every day to bring behavior more into accordance with high standards Selfless service to humanity in carrying on of our trade or profession. Summary : Summary God is unknowable You cannot: fully comprehend or directly interact with God. Communication with God requires an intermediary Founders of World Religions intermediaries (messengers) between humankind & God are not God but are directed by God hard to imagine another way God could communicate with humankind without loss of our choice to accept (or reject) God. What do Computers tell us about God?:Reflections of a Computer Scientist : What do Computers tell us about God?:Reflections of a Computer Scientist Questions / Discussionfeedback: Final Questions : Final Questions What could we possibly offer our creator that it doesn’t already have? Thankfulness

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