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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Replies to This Discussion

Wait... what was the question?
Is anyone here familiar enough with the texts cited and/or computer science to help me understand his "there is no layman-accessible explanation" claim without paying $150 each for two 300+ page textbooks that I'll probably only understand about half of anyway?
Sounds like he's trying to win the argument by overwhelming you with a bunch of unrelated texts that are only accessible to computational theory specialists. All of this has nothing to do with his claim. Computational theory has nothing to do with proving the supernatural with empirical evidence. It's a form of "Proof by verbosity".

My only guess is that he's trying to use some trick of language to redefine his assertion, creating a straw man that he can more easily defend. What is that called? What's the opposite of a straw man?
Concrete bullshit.
Ha! I like that. "Argumentum ad fæces concretum."
It's also like he's asking you to prove his case. It's up to him to provide the evidence. You shouldn't have to get a minor in computational theory to understand his reasoning. He's betting you won't.
I am familiar with these topics and I also have a degree in computer science.
and what is the question ?
ask him why Allen Turing is an atheist ?
Yeah, I didn't catch that the first time. Good catch, Panku!
Thanks. The claims in the pdf is something like this" mathematicians cannot figure the largest integer yet because there is God"

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