Sunday, August 12, 2007

How Big Is Your God?

How much do you limit God? No really ... what are your limits on what God can do? No ... really ... keep thinking about that. What can your God do and how do you limit His power?

I was watching an episode of "Eureka" (goodness, but I love this show). One of the main characters created a robot and it had life. As his 'son' died, he asked the character (Stark) whether or not Turing was right when he said that God could grant a computer a soul if He wished to.

Alan Turing is the father of modern computing and this statement came about from a discussion called the Turing Test. Turing believed that you could put a man and a computer in separate rooms, type questions to them and given the right circumstances (the computer is advanced enough), a person would not be able to tell the difference between them. There were many objections, but one was a theological objection. That objection stated that thinking is a function of man's soul and therefore a machine could not think.

The question is not whether or not God WOULD give a computer a soul, but COULD He?

Because I believe in a God big enough to create or change anything. As to the question of whether or not God WOULD give a computer a soul, I think that is something that will be dealt with in the future and not today. I think it will be an interesting exercise in our belief structure when we start dealing with computers / robots, etc. that interact with humanity.

There used to be a question about whether or not animals would be in heaven. Do they have souls? Wow ... it's kind of exciting to be part of a world where the Creator allows these questions to be asked!


cody said...

The future is closer than you think. The question is being asked already, and by some really smart people. I studied AI a bit in my Philosophy of Mind class. Our brains are carbon based computers. We're chemical-electrical thinkers. Computer chips are silicon based...silicon-electrical. What if scientists could replace a single carbon atom in a human brain with one made of silicon, and give it the same electrical function? What if they replaced ten atoms? What if they replace half of a human carbon-brain with half of a human silicon brain? What if they could replicate with incredible detail the electrical firings of a human brain with one made entirely of silicon based material? What sort of body could they put this new brain into, and does that body have a soul?

These go on and up, and the scary thing is these questions are not just abstract exercises for some scientists...they're actually working on making these things happen. So...if they're successful...would a robot with a thinking, feeling, silicon brain also have a soul?

Diane Muir said...

That's so funny. I was counting on you commenting. I knew you'd think about this. This is a conversation I'd love for you to have with Max. He's listening (not reading) to a book called "On Intelligence" by John Hawkins. All about this. Funny how random thoughts converge, eh? I didn't know what he was listening to and he wasn't watching the same show and seeing me get fired up about this.

But ... he has some other ideas about how we are actually farther away than we might think. Based on the linear properties of a computer and pattern thinking of a person.

You're right, though. They are working on this - haven't breached the dam yet, but this is a question we might see as reality in our lifetime!