Sunday, August 15, 2004

Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About: MIT Lectures on God and Computers
Donald Ervin Knuth

How does a computer scientist understand infinity? What can probability theory teach us about free will? ....

[Knuth's] starting point is the 3:16 project, an application of mathematical "random sampling" to the books of the Bible. The first lectures tell the story of the project's conception and execution, exploring the complex dimensions of language translation, aesthetics, and theological history. Along the way, something even more interesting is revealed: the many insights that Knuth gained from such interdisciplinary work. These theological musings culminate in a mind-bending final lecture, which tackles infinity, free will, and the other Big Questions that lie at the juncture of theology and computation

This was an inspiring book - and provided lots of fruitful insights for approaching the Bible. I was gratified to see him resonate with things I've personally enjoyed in my devotional life - word studies aided and abetted by the Strong's concordance. The cellular automata "Life". Translating Biblical verses to get better understanding of them. This is a charming book, and impressive considering what a lofty intellect is writing on such deep issues as life, the universe and everything.