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brain as computer


“He saw himself as a scientific materialist; he believes that metaphor—the brain as a computer—has done more to increase the number of atheists than anything by Darwin.”

This is a quote from a schizophrenic programmer who wrote his own sixteen color operating system called TempleOS.  The whole article is very interesting but I’m mainly focusing on this brain as computer analogy and how it causes us to see ourselves differently.  Being a Computer Science graduate I gravitated towards seeing my brain as a computer so much so that when I had a psychotic break one of the things I wanted to have them do is run my brain through the old-school DOS Scandisk to look for bad sectors (the Scandisk from the Windows 95/98 days, the one that would run on the boot after the computer failed to shut down properly).  More recently I’ve talked about sandboxing relationships that meant a lot to me which I didn’t do when I was in my early 20’s (much to my chagrin because I am still not over them).  Sandboxing is when you run a process cordoned off from the rest of the computer’s resources so it can’t crash or manipulate the rest of the system.

The metaphor of the brain as a computer when internalized subconsciously is incredibly materialistic, leaving out the soul or supernatural agents.  It breeds scientism and pragmatism.  Things are framed as inputs, processing, and outputs.  This is one reason millennials (who often exhibit this metaphor) absolutely can’t metabolize hypocrisy.  Because they see clearly the inputs, the outputs, and the disconnect between the two.  Output and outworking are what are paramount, existence precedes essence.

One in four of us millennials has a mental illness and in this regard we see religion as a software patch attempting to fix a hardware problem (as if brain chemicals could be put correctly merely by force of will).  We see religion like an annoying friend trying to photo bomb every picture we take.  It inserts itself into places it has no business being like how one can “pray” the mental illness or gay or whatever away.  By design it’s the one thing, the only thing, the most important thing.  Just follow these spiritual disciplines and things will improve and if they don’t improve you’re not doing it right, it’s your fault.  A lot of time people will judge you based on whether your life compiles.  If they see any fatal errors in you (not living up to what they expect of you) they’ll simply ignore or scorn you.

Then you have apps like Shazam and SoundHound.  Suddenly we can consult an app to see who what we hear is coming from.  God’s voice can’t be Shzam’d and it makes taking instructions from a deity just seem more and more ridiculous.