Doubting David

Years ago I realized that everything I believed about God I learned secondhand. It had never occurred to me until a co-worker mentioned it that the Bible might not be the inspired Word of God. Maybe I had just gotten caught up in Christianity because I spent so much time around Christians. Maybe in their enthusiasm the Biblical authors exaggerated and embellished events. I’m sure their intentions were good. Maybe they were just writing down what they themselves heard secondhand.

My ideas about belief have changed. These days I’m less inclined to believe that belief is a free choice. I didn’t choose to believe that Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. It was presented to me as fact and I believed it. I saw photos and videos. I heard the “One Small Step” audio recording. It never occurred to me that it might be fake. I later heard the conspiracy theories about a faked Moon landing but I’m not convinced it was fake.

I’m not sure what would boost my confidence in God’s existence. I suppose if God spoke to me in some small way that would do it. I realize God, if it exists, is in no way obligated to do anything to convince me of its existence. But there are many unremarkable things that I believe in. It doesn’t require much. Is it unreasonable for me to first experience something with one of my senses before I believe in it? Of course, I’ve never been to Borneo, but I believe it exists. I’ve heard stories about quarks and bosons, but they sound incredible. Until scientists have a way of demonstrating to laypeople that quarks are real, my confidence in their existence will remain at a level below that of Borneo.

Things like Borneo and bosons are purported to be physical. I have much experience with physical objects. God is allegedly not physical. It is said that God is timeless, massless and invisible. That is outside my experience, much harder to swallow.

Nine possible objections to the view that machines may be intelligent.

Nine possible objections to the view that machines may be intelligent

I’ve done some thinking and reading about free will and whether or not humans are just highly complex machines or whether we have a soul which ultimately governs our behavior.

One way to look at the problem is to see if it is possible to build a machine which behaves as a human would. If the machine behaves as a human would does that mean that God gave the machine a soul?

It’s a difficult question to answer. Isaac Asimov and other authors have written about machines that think and behave like humans. Alan Turing devised a simple test to determine if a machine is capable of producing intelligent behavior indistinguishable from that of a human.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test

The Consortium on Cognitive Science Instruction has published an article by Peter Bradley listing nine possible objections to the view that machines may be intelligent.

Read the article here:

http://www.mind.ilstu.edu/curriculum/turing_machines/turing_test_and_machine_intelligence.php

Perpetual Motion

Wikipedia says, ‘[a] perpetual motion machine of the first kind [is] a “hypothetical machine which, once activated, would continue to function and produce work” indefinitely with no input of energy. There is a scientific consensus that perpetual motion is impossible, as it would violate the first or second law of thermodynamics.’

Is the universe a perpetual motion machine? If not, then it will ‘run down’ eventually and it has not been ‘running’ forever. Who or what ‘activated’ the universe?

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_motion

Only the Erratic Are Free

How is it possible to know if someone has free will? If given a choice between A or B a person always chooses B, then we might think the person does not have free will because, like a machine, he or she always does the same thing in a given situation. Suppose that the person sometimes chooses A and sometimes chooses B. We might then think the person has free will, but why? Why do they sometimes choose A and other times choose B. Are their choices random? If they are not random, then are they responses to previous events? Would they always respond to those events in the same way like a machine would? Making decisions in a rational way can be done by a machine (If the temperature drops below 66°, turn the heater on. If the temperature rises above 70°, turn the heater off). It looks to me that the only way to tell if someone is exercising free will is if they behave erratically. Yet machines like the Lorenz Water Wheel can be built which behave erratically. I just don’t know.