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Was the God of the ancients a computer?

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You would be a rare person if you have not had some of the same experiences I have had in getting a supposedly insentient machine, my computer, to do what it's supposed to do.  You, as I, have learned never to call on the people who built the thing to provide helpful instruction on how it works.  They readily admit that they haven't the slightest clue about how it works.  Their recommendation when the computer becomes obstinate is to use intuition, guesswork, trial and error and hope to get it to cooperate.

If you look at the way the people of a few thousand years ago interacted with their God, the similarity to interacting with a computer is inescabable.

Consider the behavior of a computer when you try to interact with it and it's feeling uncooperative.  The obstinacy, the perverse malevolence, the capriciousness, the dictatorial edicts telling you to do this certain thing, when this certain thing doesn't exist, its snide little windows telling you how stupid you are and how badly you've screwed up.  The computer is unapproachable except on its own terms.  You have to do precisely what it says, and then it perversely tells you that was the wrong thing to do.  You must pay obeisance to it and its procedures to gain access to communication with it, and even then, it smugly refuses to answer, or answers another, unrelated question altogether.

The only thing the acolytes to this machine, the people who built it, have not yet recommended is that I try the reading of tea leaves or sheep entrails to discover the mysteries of the machine.  I suppose I could try bowing down in supplication with a burnt offering in propitiation of its fits of ill temper.

The behavior of the computer to those of us who try to interact with it is the same as the experience of the people in the Old Testament in trying to deal with their God.  There's a feeling of the hopelessness of such a one-sided relationship.  Their God and my computer only deal with their supplicants in the imperious "We" mode and only deigns to respond in a totally random manner, or Godlike, not at all.

Could it be that those people of long ago thought they were dealing with a God but were actually dealing with a computer very much like mine?  The similarities are too close to dismiss.  Just think, I could have a God in a metal and plastic box setting right here on my desk.

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Ed Martin is an ordinary person who is recovering from being badly over-educated. Born in the middle of the Great Depression, he is not affiliated with nor a member of any political, social or religious organization. He is especially interested in (more...)

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I feel your pain. If you get frustrated, and ... by John R Moffett on Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 11:45:11 AM
Thanks, John, I appreciate the offer of help, whic... by Ed Martin on Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 2:43:20 PM
You run Windows? It is certainly a powerful spirit... by Ferdinand on Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 11:52:55 AM
...when the ancients built an all powerful compute... by Dooglio on Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 12:46:30 PM
My husband worked on AI for Hughes He believed thi... by siriusss on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 12:47:51 PM