Hello, all...  My cousin is a post-doc in computer science.  He is a Christian, specifically a Quaker.  A while ago, he and I got into a discussion about atheism, religion, etc.  He claims that the existence of the supernatural (he didn't go so far as to say "god" or "the Christian god") is provable.  Here's what he had to say below...

You're going to have to do some serious reading here, but if you're actually interested in challenging your faith and embracing free thinking, here is where you should start:

"An Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata" by Peter Linz
ISBN-13: 978-0763737986

Mizzou probably has it in their University book store. You need this to understand the fundamental limits of computation. Once you get this, I'd suggest the following shorter reads:

"An Unsolvable Problem of Elementary Number Theory" by Alonzo Church
"On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem" by Alan Turing

You can find copies of these at the following locations for free:
http://phil415.pbworks.com/f/Church.pdf
http://www.math.uic.edu/~vladot/mcs441/turing36.pdf

Don't even attempt these until you understand Linz's book, however, as you lack the f...undamental background required at the moment.

Also, and probably better than jumping right into Church/Turing is to read

"Introductions to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation" by Hopcroft, Ullman, etc (they add new authors each addition)
ISBN-13: 978-0321462251

This also should be obtainable from Mizzou's bookstore and/or library. It's a pretty standard text book.

Chomsky's original paper on language models might also be helpful and can be found here:
http://www.chomsky.info/articles/195609--.pdf

Once you finish this set, come back to me and we'll talk about how to link this with the concepts I'm talking about if it hasn't become apparent already. Turing connects a lot of it for you, but there are several other authors who build up...on it.

There is not, to my knowledge, an accessible to laymen guide to these concepts.


So I'm hoping that someone on here has read some of these titles/also has a degree in computer science and can help this layman try to figure out exactly what he's talking about and where he might be drawing his conclusions from so that I can actually try to competently refute him..

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ask him why Allen Turing is an atheist ?
i've downloaded torrents for the literature, i'll get back to you in a couple days
"I'd give a response, but you're too dumb to understand"... IS NOT AN ARGUMENT! It is a dodge.
probably true. looking at what i have to read for this response, its more likely an argument from ignorace or design, both of which are easily refuted
See that's kind of what i figured based on what he had talked about in previous conversations and this one as well... The way i figure it without having actually read any of his literature is that it's an argument from ignorance a la "God of the Gaps," because he has specifically referenced the Halting Problem before in other conversations...
What pompous nonsense. Why doesn't your cousin actually articulate his arguments rather than using the old "read this and you will see the light" nonsense?

I won't pretend to have read all those books, but I'm fairly familiar with Turing-machines and the Church-theorem (seeing as I'm an electrotechnical engineer and we use these mechanisms all the time - hell, it's sophomore philosophy). And I'm familiar with Chomsky too.

But despite this, I don't have a fucking clue why he thinks Turing's invention of the aptly named Turing machines or his formulation of a test for artificial intelligence (Turing's theorem) or even his analysis of mathematics in biology, let alone Chomsky's essays on meta-language, have the slightest fuck to do with providing tangible evidence for theism.
I just hope it's not that tired "nature contains clues from God in mathematical form" crap that's been debunked by philosophers a gazillion times.

Don't try to refute him. Get him to descend from his high horse, stop the hand-waving and formulate an argument; then maybe he'll figure out why it's spectacularly weak.
Im sure when Gaaaaaawd appeared to the illiterate Bedouins he appealed to their understanding of meta-language and their firm grasp of elementary number theory to prove his existence to others. Its simple to see that these ideas should have immediately caused all worthy peoples of the ancient world to put away their false idols and worship the TRUE gaaaaawd.
I pulled up "An Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata" by Peter Linz on books24x7, Its a text on the theory of computation. Looks like it might be worth while study if you're interested in the mathematical basis of what can and can't be computed algorithmically. The halting problem he mentioned is (chapter 12) is an example of problem which can not be solved in general by any algorithm. Now this is all very interesting but what the hell it has to do with the existence of gods or the price of bananas in Bavaria?!. I think he's seriously blowing smoke up your a$$. Some problems have no computational solution => god
And since you didn't wade through the 12 chapters of proofs your just not smart enough to understand why. Bull.
I tell you what, Greg. You ask your smart-ass cousin to write down his "proof" so you can post it on here for critical analysis. After all, that is the scientific process - you don't just discover something then keep it hidden to the world. There will be plenty of people here that have a high enough educational level to critique it.

If he says no, then argument over. Tell him not to annoy you again with his fantasies.
I would agree with much of what was said below.  The mark of a good scholar is the ability to filter out jargon and unnecessary complexities in order to stay grounded, connected to those around him/her, and relate what he/she has learned to reality.  I am a PhD candidate in neurobiology, and people in my field routinely ridicule those who annoyingly confuse others with needless shop-talk.  If your cousin can explain his conclusion to a 5th grader, I would consider his views.  Otherwise, let your pedantic cousin ride his trolley of self-aggrandizement around town to until his heart's content.

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