Sunday, 17 March 2013

Debating Buddhism with Materialists

Alan Turing, father of the computer

"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."  - That's what Buddhists believe, and also what Alan Turing believed.

Alan Turing was the mathematical genius who laid the theoretical foundations for modern computer science.  During the Second World War, he used his talents to crack the Nazi codes, and shortened the conflict by years, saving the lives of millions of people who would otherwise have died in combat or extermination camps. 

Turing was well aware of both the strengths and limitations of all information processing machines, and devised a simple thought-experiment known as the 'Turing Machine', that clearly demonstrates the absolute limits of what all machines, and indeed all physical systems, can and cannot do.

So when materialists tell you that the 'mind is just the brain' (a biophysical computer) or 'the mind is software running on the hardware of the brain', refer them to this discussion of the Turing Machine.   Even if it doesn't immediately convince them of the validity of the Buddhist view, it will clearly set out the boundaries of debate, and make materialists question their fundamental assumptions, which they may mistakenly believe to be 'scientific'. 

- Sean Robsville 

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