Monday, 6 February 2012

Alan Turing: A Gay Buddhist

Alan Turing - Buddhist philosopher destroyed for being gay.

Alan Turing is best known for his work in cracking the Nazi codes, which gave the allies a consistent intelligence advantage over the enemy, shortening the war by years and saving millions of lives.  He died at the early age of 41, chemically castrated, mentally destroyed, and hounded to suicide by a viciously homophobic religious establishment.

Richard Dawkins blamed the repressive, religion-influenced laws which drove him to despair for his death, adding that   "Turing arguably made a greater contribution to defeating the Nazis than Eisenhower or Churchill. Thanks to Turing and his 'Ultra' colleagues at Bletchley Park, Allied generals in the field were consistently, over long periods of the war, privy to detailed German plans before the German generals had time to implement them.

"After the war, when Turing's role was no longer top-secret, he should have been knighted and fĂȘted as a saviour of his nation. Instead, this gentle, stammering, eccentric genius was destroyed, for a 'crime', committed in private, which harmed nobody,"

Without Turing, the war would still be raging beyond 1945

Turing, like all homosexuals in pre-1960's Britain, was rejected and hated by the Church of England establishment, and maybe this was why his religious affinities were more with Buddhism than with Christianity.

Although Turing's work as a code-breaker is what is most familiar to the general public, he also made a major contribution to philosophy by defining the boundary between the physical and non-physical aspects of the mind.   Turing’s investigation of artificial intelligence may have been motivated by his young gay lover's untimely death,  as he analysed the relationship between the material and the spiritual.

Christian orthodoxy in Turing's day

Turing's view of spirituality was not the Christian scheme of heaven and hell, for as an accursed sodomite, he knew he would be condemned to burn for all eternity in a lake of fire.    His belief was the Buddhist teaching on rebirth, which he set out in a letter to the mother of Christopher Morcom, his dead boyfriend: "'when the body dies the 'mechanism' of the body, holding the spirit is gone and the spirit finds a new body sooner or later, perhaps immediately... "     Full article here

See also  Buddhist Philosophy

Related Posts 

Evolution, Emptiness and Delusions of the Darwinian Mind

Queer Dharma and Gay Buddhists: Buddhism for the LGBT  community

Algorithms, Data Structures and Mental Designation 

The Explanatory Gap and the Hard Problem of Consciousness

Richard Dawkins and Buddhism



1 comment:

-Moi- said...

So tragic and sad, a genius of a man dying so young. So good to see Google celebrating his 100th birthday. Today he is considered a giant and rightly so. Indeed he should have been knighted when you consider his massive contribution in code-breaking and the results stand as testement in history with the modern age acknowledging what he did even if in his own lifetime there was little or no credit.