Re: PHIL: Church vs. Turing

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 21:33:05 -0600

Saith John K. Clark:
> I agree, it has nothing to do with intelligence or Free Will or religion.
> So what's your point?

Exactly. Double dissociation. Noncomputable != religious; you can have
computable souls or noncomputable minds. And I don't share your
pessimism; you seem to think that anything noncomputable is never going
to be explained, but it seems to me that noncomputable things exerting
causal influences on our Universe are part of the "laws of physics" and
can thus be examined by the tools of science. And I don't share your
optimism; "Instantiation"/"bits" really aren't well-defined at all. See
(if it's still there)

Oh, and the article on analog computing being non-duplicable by Turing
computers is available via FTP at:

Mocking your opponent's theories is common, for various reasons; I
prefer to think that you've simply become careless. Can you demonstrate
that noncomputability has any religious implications, and can you
specifically demonstrate that anyone claiming noncomputability for the
mind does so from religious reasons which override rationality to the
point that their argument need not be considered? The Church-Turing
thesis is a mathematical formalism. I don't see what God has to do with
it. In fact, it seems to me that any computational account of the
Universe requires a God to "breathe fire into the equations and make
them live" [Hawking]. Care to explain to me how *one* particular Turing
machine, and not all the others, can spontaneously come into existence?

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.