Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Christian Techie: not extinct yet

This morning I was reading an interview with Larry Wall, creator of the Perl programming language (Perl rocks!), and was surprised to see one of the questions asked him was about his Christian belief. Not a very "apologetic" way to explain the existence of God, but interesting nevertheless.

This is for you out there who stumbled into my blog wondering how on earth a Linux-using techie could ever possibly believe in God...!!!!

This was the question:

I remember reading at some point that you are a Christian, and there have been suggestions that some of your early missionary impulses (a desire to do good, help others) are perhaps part of the zeal you have put into Perl over the years.

Preferring a scientific view, I am not religious, and have no desire to be. Perhaps there is a God, but if there is, I think he/she has no opposable thumbs; in other words, has no power to change anything; reality is just playing out according to the laws of physics (whatever those are).

Please tell us how in the world a scientific or at least technical mind can believe in God, and what role religion has played in your work on Perl.

This is part of his answer:

So let me try to clarify what I mean, and reduce it to as few information bits as possible.. So just how big is that, in information theory terms? I think it's just two bits big. Please allow me to qoute a couple "bits" from Hebrews, slightly paraphrased: You can't please God the way Enoch did without some faith, because those who come to God must (minimally) believe that:
A) God exists, and
B) God is good to people who really look for him.
Now, it appears that you're willing to admit the possibility of bit A being a 1.. Or maybe you're a quarter way there on average, if it's a qubit that's still flopping around like Shroedinger's Cat. You're the observer there, not me--unless of course you're dead. :-)

A lot of folks get hung up at point B for various reasons, some logical and some moral, but mostly because of Shroedinger again. People are almost afraid to observe the B qubit because they don't want the wave function to collapse either to a 0 or a 1, since both choices are deemed unpalatable. A lot of people who claim to be agnostics don't take the position so much because they don't know, but because they don't want to know, sometimes desperately so.
Once you see the universe from that point of view, many arguments fade into unimportance, such as Hawking's argument that the universe fuzzed into existence at the beginning, and therefore there was no creator. But it's also true that the Lord of the Rings fuzzed into existence, and that doesn't mean it doesn't have a creator. It just means that the creator doesn't create on the same schedule as the creature's.

The rest of the questions are no less entertaining, if you're a techie :)

1 comment:

danibou said...

Nice read :). It's good to see there are techie Christians :D.