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Knuth lectures on "God and Computers" Online

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the speaking-about-important-issues dept.

The Internet 318

pq writes "Donald Knuth talks about "God and Computers" as part of the MIT AI lab's 1999 lecture series - a live webcast is available from here, and archived transcripts will also appear there. " Looks like three are finished already, with more coming over the next few weeks. Knuth is always worth listening to.

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Knuth is God (2)

slickwillie (34689) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582706)

So he oughtta know what he's taking about.

Wow! Knuth... (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582709)

I always wondered whether someone's theism (or
atheism) would affect coding style.

God and computers? (2)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582712)


That lecture kinda brings new meaning to the phrase "Deus Ex Machina" ;-)

AI real good idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582717)

Didn't any of these guys watch 'The Matrix'? Last thing I need is my damn toaster telling me my shirt doesn't match my shoes!

Really cool (5)

washort (6555) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582720)

Knuth is such a great guy. i'm listening to lecture #1 right now. :) JonKatz (and other assorted trolls) ought to listen to this - not all Christians are crazy, stupid, or preachy. SOme actually do have a clue. :)

I've read Knuth's "3:16 - Scripture Verses Illuminated" as well, it's a beautiful book. Good insight into the verses presented as well. (It would take a computer scientist to invent a scheme such as this :)

autobiographical monologue (0)

rodentia (102779) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582722)

Lordy! :) Where to take that subject? We are gods, the machines our creations? The machine is god (or will be) and we are subject? God is a machine?

autobiographical monologue (1)

rodentia (102779) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582724)

Lordy! :)

Where to take that subject? We are gods, the machines our creations? The machine is god (or will be) and we are subject? God is a machine?

What's this about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582726)

Will someone who has listened to the "webcasts" tell us what this is all about?

Listen (1)

mochaone (59034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582819)

After trying to read some of this guy's stuff, I've learned to recite the company line: "Knuth be da man, dude" When pressed on what I actually like about his books, I change the conversation quickly in the hope that no one finds out I can't get out of chapter 1. Guess I shouldn't have read the newspaper in math class way back when.


Jefferson (1)

uninerd (79304) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582821)

His effort to come up with an improved bible translation reminds me slightly of Jefferson's Bible; but which way is going to provide the best spiritual guidance- Good end result control, or better parity checking?

More information available here (3)

Laitnedurp (87135) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582824)

The MIT student newspaper had an interview with Knuth about these lectures, and gives some insight. http://www-tech.mit.edu/V119/N5 1/knuthtlin.51f.html [mit.edu] . Basically just Knuth expressing his religious views.

Re:Knuth is God (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582826)

Uh...no offense (to you _or_ the great Knuth) ... but you need to get out more.

Anonymous Kevin

Re:Bible translation (2)

washort (6555) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582830)

Jefferson didn't really create his own translation, he just cut'n'pasted the parts of the Gospels he liked into his own book....
Knuth just made an effort to provide an idiomatic translation of each verse mentioned in 3:16, not the whole Bible. Which is a good strategy, IMO.

Re:AI real good idea (0)

Tank (9385) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582833)


your backs' shirt is not.
There are no shoes to not match.
wisdoms' toast pops up

Better watch out.... (1)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582836)

He's one of those slimey Christian types: he'll probably try to repress you!


<apology
I'm sorry, but Katz's repeated slams of Christians have really annoyed me pretty badly. Expect bitterness for a while.
</apology

God? (1)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582839)

Oh damn, I think he reversed the byte order - he's really talking about Dogs..... =)

--

Webcast? No can do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582846)

Sorry but I guess I am not priveledged enough to see this so called webcast since where I live (Ohio) the telephone company forbids such things as "webcasts" by providing overpriced underperforming services and those which would be ideal are way overpriced. Sprint... bastards.

Hmmm. (0)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582848)

This explains the new Soul type in C! No wonder he's so bent on saving people's souls - those things take up ALOT of memory! Of course perl had it before it had it, it's a post-modern language you know.... =)



--

im confused (0)

MrP- (45616) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582849)

who is this person? i read the site and i dont get whats going on, im playing the webcast, what does this have to do with computers? please explain

#----------------------------
$mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;

and I'm supposed to see this how? (0)

sqrlbait5 (67782) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582851)

Warning: MySQL Connection Failed: Too many connections in /usr/dd/technetcast.ddj.com/htdocs/tnc_program.htm l on line 4

Warning: MySQL Connection Failed: Too many connections in /usr/dd/technetcast.ddj.com/htdocs/tnc_program.htm l on line 6

Warning: MySQL: A link to the server could not be established in /usr/dd/technetcast.ddj.com/htdocs/tnc_program.htm l on line 6
Unable to select database

yeah? Where's your god NOW?

html (offtopic) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582854)

The "lt" isn't short for "left", it's short for "less than". So instead of "&rt;", you want "&gt;". :)

curious (0)

Ater (87170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582856)

I'd just like to know what Knuth thinks about Jesux :)

Not the God of clarity... (1)

eries (71365) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582859)

The lecture series is about things that I learned about things

Good try though :)

Anotherone Bites the Dust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582860)

From the Knuth lecture page:

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line 4

Warning: MySQL Connection Failed: Access denied for user: 'root@localhost' (Using password: NO) in
/usr/dd/technetcast.ddj.com/htdocs/tnc_program.h tml on line 6

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on line 6
Unable to select database

Re:im confused (1)

Khalid (31037) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582861)

Knuth is literally a computer's GOD, he is very well known for his serie a kind of Encyclpaedia of computer programing "The art of computer programing" were generations and generations of developers have studied, he has also done a lot of research in sorting and seraching algorithms, algorithm complexety, hash coding, grammar attributs, compilation, programming languages, he his also very well known for Tex (wich became LaTex) and Web (nothing to have with the WWWW) two typseting programs and many other things. I simply can't believe how a single person was able to do as many things.

Re:im confused (2)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582867)

Knuth is the author of the Art of Computer Programming books, which are required textbooks in many CD programs. He created the groundbreaking computer typesetting system TeX. His work with a text/code system called the Web (no, not the WWW) basicly started the "literate programming" movement. And he seems to be an all around smart and articulate guy.

So when Donald Knuth talks, people listen. Shame he's infected with that Christian meme, though... B-) (ducks objects thrown from /.'s Xian section, dons asbestos longjohns)

Offline Transcripts? (2)

Christopher B. Brown (1267) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582868)

I rather hope that there will be some form of these lectures available in non-"Webcast" form, as that is a uniquely ephermal form.

Doubtless Knuth will be able to turn it into an engaging book; a followup of sorts to 3:16 would be a very nice thing to see; I'm sure I'll acquire it once available...

Although I still have to say that I'd put higher priority on at least a preprint Vol. 5/6 of TAOCP. That would provide at least draft form for all of the series, what with The Stanford Graphbase [stanford.edu] at least providing the flavor of Vol. 4.

Errfff... (1)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582871)

For the record, I wish /.'s "preview" button would work with & codes! It's not my fault, honest!

In one word... (1)

sreeram (67706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582872)

How do you say "Knuth, God, TeX, Open Source, Free Software, and GNU" in one breath?

Gnuth!!! :-)

Sreeram.

Knuth, a Christian??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582875)


He's one of those slimey Christian types

I'm sorry, but this has hit me pretty hard. Knuth is a Christian? I had no idea. If I had, I would have never started reading his books or using his software. I have just finished dumping his "Art of Computer Programming" books in the trash outside, lest my possession of these tomes be construed as an acceptance of his vile and filthy lifestyle. I do not give such acceptance, and it saddens me to hear such news about a man that I once thought a great deal of. I almost wish I hadn't started reading this article, but I suppose that it is for the best that I know the real truth.

*sigh*

I'm off to convert my LaTeX documents to groff.

Re:im confused (2)

slickwillie (34689) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582876)

Yeah, what Khalid and MrSippery said. Plus he's done (and is doing) a lot more including non-computer related stuff. Check out his WWW site:

http://www-cs-staff.Stanford.EDU/~knuth/

Re:and I'm supposed to see this how? (0)

eshefer (12336) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582878)

god has been slashdotted.

he created the world in seven days (well actualy six).
/. knocked the site in 5 minutes.. so much for god.

--------------------------------

Is Knuth a god? (1)

mmmmbeer (107215) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582880)

Well, my college professors (some of whom are older than god) certainly thought so. "When somebody asks you if you're a god, you say, 'YES'!"

Re:Better watch out.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582883)

I didn't assume he was Christian. Why do you? :-/

Re:That's why some Christians annoy people :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582886)

Yep. The majority of Christians (or Budhists, or Tsoists, or Moslems, or...) share this in common with the majority of atheists.

Let's face it. Some people are just assholes.

yeah, *that's* funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582887)

When your in the lake of fire screaming for mercy, your going to wish you hadn't tossed around the name of the Almighty in such a nonchalant manner.

Re:yeah, *that's* funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582889)

Running around making pronouncements, casting other people's fates. Oooh boy. You'll be in trouble....

Obviously, it's the Christians who are persecuted. (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582892)


You see, the hypocritical secular humanist atheist liberals (and members of false "religions" like Buddhism and Judiasm) are persecuting us Christians, and violating our right to freedom of religion every day of their lives!

How so, you ask? Easy!

They refuse to take orders from us. Our religion requires us to give them orders, and it requires them to obey. The free and unimpeded practice of our religion requires us to interfere in their private lives by means of legislation. We are required to force their children to pray to our God, we are required to send police officers into their bedrooms to put a stop to their immoral conduct, and the list goes on. But they keep trying not to let us do these things! It's true that we've had a lot of success in many areas, but as long as we're not entirely free to practice our religion, we are (in principle) not at all free to practice our religion. And as the saying goes, "if one man is not free, then none are free". Therefore, if our freedom of religion has been abrogated in this manner, than so has everybody else's freedom of religion. What that means, in simple terms, is that as long as a Buddhist is not forced to practice Christianity -- in fact, as long as he is even allowed to practice Buddhism -- he is being denied the freedom to practice his own religion (Buddhism)! It's an all-or-nothing proposition.


I hope this clarifies the bizarre persecution complex evinced by members of a religion which has totally dominated this country for more than 200 years. Name me a presidential candidate who hasn't professed conventional faith in the Christian God. Name me a self-described "born-again" Republican front-runner who has lost any significant support due to his religious views. Heh. Christian fundamentalists (as starkly opposed to sincere practicing Christians) have political power wildly out of proportion to their numbers. Nevertheless, they continually and quite hysterically paint themselves as "victims" of ill-defined persecution, in order to get sympathy and grab even more power.

Enough is enough. The "help-me-I'm-a-victim" game is annoying but understandable when played by somebody who really has gotten the shitty end of the stick[1], but an enormously powerful and wealthy political force like Christian fundamentalism is another matter entirely. Coming from them, it's just plain disgusting.


------------------------------
[1] My sympathy for some "victims" probably seems offensive to the fundies, and I don't blame them. After all, they feel equally offended by all of Christ's teachings, including his explicit prohibition of divorce.

Re:Guess mSQL doesnt scale well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582893)

This error came from MySQL (not mSQL), which does scale well (it handles Slashdot, doesn't it?)
but it won't scale at all if you don't set the max_connections variable high enough.

Re:That's why some Christians annoy people :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582896)


The majority of Christians (or Budhists, or Tsoists, or Moslems, or...) share this in common with the majority of atheists.

I don't entirely agree. For one thing, atheists don't often go around slaughtering the, uh, "unbelievers" (so to speak), and a lot of religions do that kind of thing from time to time. And from what I've read, Christianity can easily tie with Islam for Most Asshole-genic Religion. Not all religions promote idiocy to the same extent as those two.


Let's face it. Some people are just assholes.

True, but assholery has causes and exacerbating factors. An asshole religion can go a long way in both departments.


Finally, bear in mind that I carefully said "some" Christians. Most Christians that one meets are pretty damn tolerant. I've even met a few decent fundies, believe it or not.

Quote (5)

ajs (35943) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582900)

Looks like three are finished already, with more coming

Haven't I heard this about Knuth's work before?

;-)

Tsk, tsk (1)

xmedar (55856) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582901)

Well I had the MySQL errors, now I'm on to another set:-

This server has reached its capacity for the requested url.
pnm://media.cmpnet.com/technetcast/tnc_mit_dk_01 .rm?title=Donald

To think I actually read DDJ and they cant even run a simple audio / video stream, back to consulting my preist on matters programmatic I think, although if I go Protestant I can do it without the guilt.....

Sarcasm? Whats that?

Re:Offline Transcripts? (1)

AdamG (23268) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582902)

I went to the first two of these and aparently they're planning on publishing the transcripts in hardcopy.

Re:and I'm supposed to see this how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582903)

The Day GOD got /.ed, I can see it on the front of The National Enquirer now....

a private venture (5)

mcjulio (68237) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582904)

In these talks, Knuth makes the extremely important point that is missing from so much of what we perceive about Christianity in the Western world today - religion is a private thing, as personal as a lover and just as sacred. In the first talk, he speaks of teaching at Stanford, and refusing to answer students' questions about God and politics. Could this possibly be because he's weak and unable to discuss the subject, or is it more likely that he recognizes what the Religious Right refuses to, namely that God's (however you define him/her) place is not in politics or education or courtrooms, but in the hearts of those who find him/her real?

Is it real? Will it save your life? Is it even Christianity if you don't smear it in your friend's faces? The overwhelming feeling from a scientist who cannot help but feel a reverence for the tradition and the mystery that is human existence is: who cares? What matters is not whether or not you dip or sprinkle, but whether or not you need it to feed your soul.

Many scientists are knee-jerk atheists, being unable to reconcile Genesis with the overwhelming evidence for something different. However, maintaining a spiritual life is not about adhering to the tenants of a specific doctrine. Having not done the research, it nevertheless seems safe to say that Knuth, as a man of scientific mind, cannot reconcile some of the tenants of his faith to what he knows to be true, and has yet found a way to embrace it as a valued and necessary part of his life.

There's a lesson here. Whatever brought us here, whatever keeps us cranking along in life, be it evolution, creation, or something else, there is a piece in 99% of us that is mystical, that asks for some outlet. Accepting Christianity as an outlet does not mean succumbing to the stupidities that are fraught within it, just as they are fraught within every other religion, in varying ways. It does mean acknowledging one's own need for the unknown, and a way to interact with it.

tell me about atheism's track record (1)

Zhaus (33218) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582905)

Well, there have been very few opportunities for atheists to slaughter people who disagree with them. They haven't been in power in very many places or for very long. However, their track history hasn't been entirely spotless - U.S.S.R. and China were never known for their - uh - wonderful humanistic policies. And grouping the rest of atheism together with them will make as much sense as grouping all Christianity together with the Crusades/Inquisition, so I don't feel too guilty in doing so.

So, just wait awhile, and when they've got more power I'm sure atheists will eventually have the opportunity to repress them wacko religious folks.

Re:Tsk, tsk (1)

xmedar (55856) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582906)

Its okay I figured out why :-

Transcripts of the lectures will be available for purchase upon completion of the series

so if they make it impossible to view online so get you to fork over some money for a dead tree version.

Conspiricy theorist and sarcastic ... this sig has been terminaled in the name of National Security....

Losing my religion (4)

sketchy (86211) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582907)

Actually, I just came back from Knuth's 3rd
lecture (well...had dinner first). It was on
translating Bible verses without knowledge of
Hebrew or Greek. Yes, I came in saying to everyone
around that "Knuth is God", etc. But the lecture
was horrible. Well...at least it was extremely
uninteresting, IMHO. Maybe some of the other
lectures in the series will be better (maybe first two were), but
that looks doubtful. Art of CP, TeX, good math are all well and supernatural, but
3:16 (what he talked about today) is not. He sounded more like a preacher and less like a diety; that and he can't really give a presentation. Well...I'm going to go back to my altar now...

But most importantly... (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582908)

...there is no spoon.

--Joe
--

Stupid Logic (2)

ranton (36917) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582909)

Saying that religious people are the cause of bloodshed is simply idiocy. More wars have been waged for political reasons that religous reasons. Even the often used example of the Crusades is incorrect because it began for purely political reasons. It just so happened that the Pope backed it and recruited armies based on a false religious context.

Also, athiests have never truly been in power during history, so you cant blame religion for wars at all. Russia and China are the only non-religious run countries that I can think of, and they arent exactly utopias. It is the people in power that cause the problems in society, not religion.

Oh, and by the way. I am an athiest, not a religious zealot. I just dont agree with blaming religon for all of the world's problems simply because our leaders happen to be religious.

Re:Really cool (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582910)

Oh please give me a break. I would almost bet you take 99% of everything for granted without prooving it yoruself. If you don't understand the science, but you accept it, it's really no better than just accepting religion. I think Orwell once said that the orthodoxy or religion is being replaced by a following of orthodoxy to science.

YOUR vs. YOU'RE (2)

mantis_p (62535) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582911)

"When your in the lake of fire screaming for mercy,"

Shouldn't that read... "When you're in the lake of fire screaming for grammar ,"?

Just wonderin'.

~m

Re:a private venture (1)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582912)

There is a lesson...but if your description of it is accurate, the corollary is that religion is not objectively true.

Religion is intensely personal and private, yet it purports to give objectively accurate descriptions of the world. Obviously, there are severe constraints on how accurate everyone can be simultaneously.

Also, religion is a private venture until it starts affecting other people. E.g. in Chechnya.

Re:YOU ARE SHIT (1)

ranton (36917) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582913)

>>You make all of humanity look bad before his eyes.

And you make his so called creation look like a race of illiterate, inbred, idiots.

Crusades: political or religious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582914)

The Crusades were certainly started for religious reasons but many of the nobles, especially younger sons with no prospect of inheritance at home, followed them for political reasons. The redirection of the 4th crusade by the Doge of Venice to attack the *Christian* Byzantine Empire instead of the holy land is a particularly notable point where politics triumphed over religion in the crusades (although it may have been impossible without the dislike of the Catholic westerners for the Orthodox Byzantines).

Re:a private venture (2)

xmedar (55856) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582915)

I agree with :-

but whether or not you need it to feed your soul.

however, personally I do it by making the world a better place, not by some devotion to an unknown and unknowable force, I feel that just makes me weak to say I cant have an impact, thats its all some divine will. Maybe if we all got off our knees to some idol and actually did something positive that we might find the religion meme disappears, and we might make humanity that bit better. As for :-

It does mean acknowledging one's own need for the unknown, and a way to interact with it.

yes I agree there is the unknown, I see it as just randomness, but that is more difficult to live with than some mystical force that has our interests at heart, but if you need that emmotionally to get though the day then thats fine, just realise what you are doing, and what you are giving up.

try telling that to the dalai lama (1)

arielb (5604) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582916)

"For one thing, atheists don't often go around slaughtering the, uh, "unbelievers" (so to speak), " is that a joke or what? ever heard of Mao and Stalin? they slaughtered millions and millions of people. The Soviet Union was officially atheist. China and North Korea still are and they really suck As a Jew I'm know of the yevesekes (Jewish leninist atheists) who persecuted religious Jews (including executing some) and attacked Russian Christians. Anyway, Knuth is a great coder and isn't running around attacking people. So stop attacking him because of his beliefs.

Re:tell me about atheism's track record (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582917)

The problem with blaming atheism for anything is that it is difficult to see how the lack of a belief motivates anyone to do anything. One can certainly argue that Communism has resulted in many atrocities, but it does not follow from that and the fact that Communists are atheists that atheists are responsible any more than it follows from the facts that Buddhists are generally nice people and that Buddhists are atheists that atheists are generally nice people.

Re:Obviously, it's the Christians who are persecut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582918)

With bullshit like this, we Christians do have proof that we are being persecuted. If you don't like that fact that Presidential candidates believe in God, then don't vote for them. This is your problem not ours. This is proof Christians aren't the problem.

Re:Not the God of clarity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582919)

I think hes trying to be recursive, I guess old habits die hard...

Re:Stupid Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582920)

Politics and religion, whats the difference? Its all about "them and us", read all the Hellmouth stuff to find out how intolerant most of society is.

Re:Turning science into religion (2)

Arandir (19206) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582921)

It sounds as if you're trying to turn science into a religion. You are making it an article of your faith that stuff outside of science is "dumb".

Science cannnot deal with God, the supernatural, or anything else non-observable. It can't. It wasn't designed to. But neither does it deny the existance outside of observation, it merely states that such knowledge is outside of it's domain. Trying to use science to disprove the existance of God is like trying to use a hammer to saw wood.

Re:a private venture (1)

mcjulio (68237) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582922)

Yes, that corollary was the intended extrapolation; I do not believe that any religion has a lock on what is objectively true. There are millions of people who do, however, and I have a very difficult time relating to them.

In all honesty, the angle I perceive Knuth to be taking is rare and uncommon. About the only practical application is has is providing the scientifically-minded a morally neutral way to use organized religion as an outlet without needing to feel coerced into the (potentially) bizarre doctrines that go along with the faith. It is this angle alone that makes no claim on accuracy.

The vast majority of the world will continue, as you mentioned, to use religion in destructive, unproductive ways that violate the rights of those around them, claiming truth at the point of a gun. I'm not upset or angry that thinking people choose, on the whole, to shun these institutions. Whenever faith stops being personal (which happens the majority of the time), it starts being destructive.

Re:Knuth, a Christian??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582923)

Either this is a satire of very poor quality, or you have a serious problem upstairs.

Re:How to Circumvent "Server is full" or save .rm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582924)

Thanks for that, now downloading at a whoping 0.9K/s on my 2mb/s ADSL link, I think they need to get some more bandwidth, or do us all a favour and post it on a few mirrors / Usenet, as anyone with an IQ in double figures and more than 30 seconds in the tech business would know that that chance of this being /.ed is 90%+.

Re:curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582925)

what if I said a beowulf cluster of jesux boxen - would that be cool? probably not - oh well

athlon naked and petrified

Ever hear of mod_perl?Re:Anotherone Bites the Dust (1)

embobo (1520) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582926)

If this site was using mod_perl they could have persistent connections to the db which may have solved the problem. They seem to be using php. Does it have such a feature?

Running a db server on the same machine as the webserver is a bad idea.

Connecting to the db as root is a bad idea unless they removed most of root's priveledges.

Re:Really cool (1)

bungalow (61001) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582927)

If you believe what you're told, for example "God exists" without demanding evidence (and i don't mean the ambiguous and self-contradictory Bible), you're not cool - you're just plain dumb.

...As opposed to the enlightened and infallible wisdom of "If I don't see it, it don't exist"?

Ever had the Flu? Bet your doctor told you that you had a virus. Probably gave you a shot, or at least a pill to lessen the symptoms. Did you believe that the medicine would work, or did you demand to see your "bug's" reaction in real time before you'd take it? How did you trust your doctor not to poison you? Yet you would trust him before you allow yourself to feel the faith and hope that you'd find in a church community?

It is, actually (2)

Roelof (5340) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582928)

Any old atheist who actually wakes up after (s)he's died is going to rejoyce. But what is a believer (whatever the god(s)) going to do when (s)he stays dead? Complain? Ask ones money back? Denounce retroactively?



Before you try to scare people you should consider what scares them. Promising a hell to someone who believes in no afterlife whatsoever is hardly a threat, now is it. Consider the alternative... It is what scared most believers so much they took religious insurance to try and ward it off. Your hell is actually an atheists heaven. Yet an atheists reality is your worst nightmare.



So who is scaring whoom here?

This is just stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582929)

Who are you gonna demand evidence from? The Pope?

You can't confirm or deny for sure that God exists. You may be able to tear apart the Bible, but that doesn't mean God doesn't exist. Proof that God exists? What about proof that God doesn't exist? I mean, where would you find proof that God exists? If God comes up and destroys some city? It could be that in doing so, God might disrupt the universe. See, God can break laws of physics and such, but then anything can happen, and everything goes into chaos. There is no logical reason to discount God as a possibility. Think about it.

There is such thing as being fooled by facts and math. Look at Numerology: 9/9/1999 = 9+9+1+9+9+9= 4+6 = 1+0 = 1. Uh oh, it must be the end of the world. Yeah, I know, it sounds pretty stupid, but you could probably fool quite a bit of logical people if you attached enough stuff to it. Say something like "See how there is this pattern in all the stars and such, and through the universe...". Probably quite amazing how much you will believe that is on TV, without questioning the evidence. All those Investigative Reporting shows, documentaries...etc. Seriously, you see some show that says airbags are dangerous and how some people got decapitated and you go "Oh no! Don't want that!" But you don't realize that they only pose a threat to certain people and that they might actually save your life.

Just because there is evidence does not mean anything anyway.

Well, I could continue my rant, but I've decided to stop.

Re:Turning science into religion (1)

Arandir (19206) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582930)

"It's the underlying slave mentality and world hatred of it all that's so perverse."

What slave mentality? Some religions may have it, and even some christian denominations, but the Bible does not command people to be slaves of others. I am not required in the Bible to submit myself to a priest. Personally, my politics border on anarchism. My life is between me and my God. But the Bible contains more than religious lessons, it also contains descriptions of political and cultural norms. Perhaps this is what Neitsche was refering to. It was a great debate in the early christian church (and detailed in the book of Acts) whether non-jewish christians had to follow the cultural norms of judaism. The answer was no.

As to a "world hatred", this is partially true. Some christian denominations, particularly eastern, are deeper in to this than others. But this is only natural. The world is truly a rotten place. Pick up the newspaper on any given day and you'll see that this isn't a perfect place. But this doesn't deny the good that is also present in the world. In Neitsche's day, the prevalent christian teaching was that this world was thoroughly evil and that our lot in life was merely to endure through to the end. It's no wonder he ended up thinking what he did. But this is not what the Bible teaches (much of what people see christianity as is not what the Bible teaches either...).

Re:Turning science into religion (2)

WNight (23683) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582931)

No, because what was said doesn't involve taking anything on faith.

We see many examples of people who believe things without proof. That is faith. We see them do stupid things because of their belief in that faith. That is the proof that faith is bad.

It's not that without faith, nothing is ever bad, but if you base your beliefs on rationality, you're more likely to change your beliefs when they aren't representative of the world.

If you believe what you're told, for example "God exists" without demanding evidence (and i don't mean the ambiguous and self-contradictory Bible), you're not cool - you're just plain dumb.

That is true. Maybe a bit harsh, but true. Especially the part about "without demanding evidence."

People can be lied to, or be wrong. If you look for evidence and find faked evidence, or a liar offering to teach you, that doesn't make you stupid. What makes you stupid is to not look for evidence, and reject it when you find it.

Almost everyone on /. would laugh at someone who believed company benchmarks without demanding to try the product himself. Especially with companies like MindCraft around who do everything possible to distort the truth. Why should we be less critical of someone who believes, with less evidence, in the existence of a god?

It doesn't make them a bad person, but it doesn't indicate a very critical mind.

Come to the UK (1)

xmedar (55856) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582932)

We've already had a woman Prime Minister, and there are gay members of parliment, only the newspapers / TV actually care if they are gay, most of the rest of the population only care if they are any good e.g. an ex-minister was jailed not that long ago for perjury, which contrasts nicely with Clinton. Oh and one guy by the name of Micheal Portillo actually went up in his ratings after disclosing that he had homosexual experiences while at university and he is in the Conservative Party (our version of Republicans). One last thing one of the ministers of state is even blind and takes his guide (seeing eye) dog in with him.

Non-Existance of God (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582933)

One word - Babelfish

Nuff said

Re:a private venture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582934)

"No religion has a lock on what is objectively true."

So, is that a true statement? Are you saying that you know something to be objectively true (namely, that nobody can know the truth), or have you simply not thought things through quite enough?

Re:Wow! You guys are repressed! (1)

LarryTheCucumber (105583) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582935)

Of course, that only applies to AMERICAN Christians of the past ~two hundred years. Christians have faced a lot of persecution throughout history and in many (most?) parts of the world today. We American Christians are just extremely fortunate to be living here.

-jimbo

Re:Better watch out.... (2)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582936)

I didn't assume he was Christian. Why do you? :-/
Because I've read his book (3:16 Illuminated). Have you?

Re:It is, actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582937)

ha, well said m'lad!

Re:Obviously, it's the Christians who are persecut (1)

mantis_p (62535) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582938)

Please try to honestly answer these questions:

1). Would George Bush have ever been elected president if he had been Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist dare I suggest... GAY?

2). Has there ever been a president who has been of a religion other than a Christian-based one?

3). Has there been a female president?

What you are neglecting to recognize when you say "Christians are being persecuted" is that it is VERY difficult to persecute a group on a national scale when that group is very squarely in the majority and very clearly holds the support of the population. You may be mocked, you may be ridiculed, and you may be taunted by \.ers for a blind belief in your God, but you most certainly are not a victim who has been persecuted for your beliefs. In fact, \. is likely the ONLY place where you are forced to defend your beliefs in ANY way. I am sure you feel no shame or fear when walking down the street wearing a cross around your neck, whereas Americans who are gay or who are black can honestly be afraid of major persecution.

I know it is easy to call yourself a victim these days, but please take a look at the situation and be honest, if only with yourself.


~m

Re:Turning science into religion (1)

cthonious (5222) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582939)

see AJ Ayer "god is meaningless". Very good essay which presents perhaps the strongest atheist position there is. Very few atheists think one can "disprove" gods existence.

Science cannnot deal with God, the supernatural, or anything else non-observable.

... neither can anything else

No one's making a religeon of science here (although many do that). God is irrelevant because it is unknowable. Even if you claim to "know god", your experience is unintelligible to me (and everyone else).

Re: the arguments against xtianity: Neitsche said it better than anyone else. If you want to be challenged, as a christian, read the "Antichrist". It has little to do with zealotry ala Pat Robertson. It's the underlying slave mentality and world hatred of it all that's so perverse.

Re:a private venture (1)

cthonious (5222) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582941)

there is a piece in 99% of us that is mystical

... I would call that fear

Re:tell me about atheism's track record (1)

Zhaus (33218) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582942)

My point was that atheists often argue "all religion is bad because of the following X things so-called religious people have done:". My (poorly phrased) point was that this is as ridiculous as blaming atheism for all the bad things communists have done. If atheists choose to attack religion, please let them do so in an intelligent manner.

So, I'm glad that you basically agree with me, but I'm sorry I couldn't explain myself better. I'm not so good with words.

On the other hand, it is as easy to imagine extremism on the part of atheists as any other group. Most atheists do have strongly held views and all of the atheists I've met have been highly motivated individuals - perhaps you meant agnostics?

Crusades were about economics, the Inquisition about political power. The names and faces behind them were relatively unimportant - the slogans might as well have been "Keep religious myth out of our state!". Religious war is almost never really about religion! If I remember from History, even though the Pope kept calling for more Crusades, they stopped once there was no longer any economic incentive for having them.

Strong differences in opinion only exacerbated the situation. Atheism, usually being a strongly held opinion, is not immune to this effect. Holy wars start from the idea that one is on the side of good, fighting against evil - Christianity as I understand it says no one is good.
I like that.

IANAEOHM (I am not an English or History major.)

Re:tell me about atheism's track record (1)

Orii (55092) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582943)

The problem with blaming atheism for anything is that it is difficult to see how the lack of a belief motivates anyone to do anything.

Atheism isn't a lack of belief in God; it's the belief that there is no God.

One can certainly argue that Communism has resulted in many atrocities, but it does not follow from that and the fact that Communists are atheists that atheists are responsible any more than it follows from the facts that Buddhists are generally nice people and that Buddhists are atheists that atheists are generally nice people.

Many (most? all?) Communist countries punished those who expressed belief in God and actively taught that God does not exist. This is why they were labeled atheistic.

Re:Really cool (1)

WNight (23683) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582944)

It is different to accept certain facts without having proved them yourself, if they fit into the larger structure of beliefs you have proved.

I know a lot about CPUs. I haven't proved that they actually are doped semiconductors with parts etched away in such a way that electrons can flow through them in certain ways.

I have done enough to this end though that I think I would be justified in believing this, especially if I was willing to entertain the idea that it might be otherwise, if I was offered contradictory proof.

I have used a chisel to crack open chips. I've looked at them under a microscope and examined them as best I can. Both simple ones, like 555 timers, and complex ones like CPUs. In simple ones, or ones designed to work with high current, the elements are big enough you can follow them visually.

I've also taken courses in electronics. I have to accept the existence of an electron, but I have done a lot to verify the existance of, if not electrons, then particles that do exactly what electrons are said to do.

I haven't examined MY CPU by cracking it open, but I accept that if some CPUs are what they are said to be, then it's likely that the one I use now is. I haven't SEEN an electron, but I have seen the results of them in controlled experiements.

Sure, electrons *could* be replaced with tiny angels who are told to *act like* electrons and we'd never know. But I consider that one of the least likely scenarios. Similarly, my CPU could be different from all the others I've looked at, and those could have been planted by the CIA to lead me away from the real secret of digital computers... And I could be just a brain in a jar, and your posting could be generated by an AI.

But, I don't really think so.

I'll base by conclusions on the evidence I've seen, and where it seems I have to accept someone's word too much, I'll investigate myself, or accept as a good story, but unproven.

So in short, we do to accept that we can't know everything, but this doesn't mean we take the rest on faith. We have the proof that what we can investigate is true, and thus the rest seems more likely if it fits with that.

Better Watch Out... (2)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582945)

He's one of those slimey Christian types: he'll probably try to repress you!


<apology>
I'm sorry, but Katz's repeated slams of Christians have really annoyed me pretty badly. Expect bitterness for a while.
</apology>

one last thing (1)

xmedar (55856) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582946)

I'm almost at the end of "The Pearly Gates Of Cyberspace - A History of Space From Dante to The Internet", a really excellent read on how our concept of space has developed though the ages, from religous soul "space" to the Net, I dont quite agree with the ending, but the history is fascinaing and well worth a read.

Re:a private venture (1)

WNight (23683) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582947)

If you can only appreciate beauty via mystical means, I pity you.

A tree can be just a bunch of wood, and still be beautiful. No need for god in there.

Wow! You guys are repressed! (5)

Arandir (19206) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582948)

Apparently, Mr. Knuth's being a christian has deeply offended a lot of you. My guess would be that you're much, much more intolerant of other people than any imagined intolerance on christianity's part.

Geeks hate being wrong (I know, I am one). But that's what christianity is, telling you that you're wrong, a sinner, doomed. But you guys are so narrow minded that you can't get past that to find out that it also talks about what to do about it.

I could of course mention the fact that it was geeks killing christians at Columbine, but that's grossly unfair. Just as unfair as all these posts here blaming religion for all the atrocities in the world.

Christian bashing is the last refuge of the bigot in this era of political correctness.

Re:Losing my religion (2)

sketchy (86211) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582949)

Hmm...that sounded kind of harsh. I don't want to come off as bashing Knuth in any way. For one thing, he could probably come up with a better way to get a nicely typeset message using lynx. I guess my problem with the lecture was that I came in expecting to see a fearless code warrior(tm) but instead heard a pretty old guy say things like (don't hold me to wording) "I recommend [doing group translations of bible verses]. It's very educational" and "Working on 3:16 was great because I learned so many new things about the Bible."

Knuth's lecture series is subtitled (something like) "Things that a Computer Scientist doesn't talk about." I think that's the problem. When people try to go out of their field, they usually end up sounding unprofessional. I got the same impression from reading some of Douglas Hofstadter's new book, Le Ton Bon de Marot, which is also about translation. I didn't read the whole book, so maybe my opinion is worthless, but the first few chapters weren't that great and gave a really amateurish impression.

The moral: computer scientists should give talks about computer science. Go ahead and study the Bible, read French poetry, smoke pot, etc., on your own free time. But don't tell us about it.

Re:Stupid Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582957)

I don't know how old you are, but life really isn't so bad after high school - that's not to say that we shouldn't try to fix the schools, though.

TSOist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582958)

Is that a devotee of old IBM mainframe systems? Or someone who likes General Tso's Chicken? Ohhhh... you said Taoist. In the words of the late Emily Litella, "Neever miind."

Re:That's why some Christians annoy people :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582959)

Fundamentalist:Christian::Islamist:Muslim::Zionist :Jew

Re:a private venture (1)

emerson (419) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582960)

If your only mystical experiences were based in fear, I pity you, and recommend you get out more.

Might start by visiting the redwoods in the Pacific Northwest.

--

Re:Wow! You guys are repressed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582961)

Ah, what I wouldn't give for moderation points right now, to pop this up an "Insightful" notch.

The moderation of this message makes my point. (4)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582962)

It has been up-moderated twice. Down-moderate three times. So, which is it? OffTopic? Flamebait? Troll? Overrated? Underrated? Interesting?

The fool below who claims that Christians enjoy no persecution in our society has been moderated directly up.

Oh yeah. For all you who whine about the evils of the religious right: THEY ARE NOT THE MAINBODY OF CHRISTIANITY! And stop your whining: have you people any idea what has been done to Christians in the past and in other countries? Our religious started out with its founder executed. As far as I know, at least 5 of the original twelve apostles were killed by the government of the time.

Why? Because people suck and power corrupts! And whatever group is in power will abuse it. So, you have gross abuse of power by atheists (think Stalin), including abuse of Christians. The Jews are documented to have done some pretty unpleasant things to their enemies (looked in Israel lately and the way they treat the palestinian Christians). Even Eastern faiths are not immune: look at the ethnic conflicts in India/Pakistan sometime. Or consider that the pacific half of WWII was caused by Shinto (the Japanese national religion) racism in addition to its obvious, secular causes. And you have gross abuse of power by putative Christians throughout history, but its probably nothing to compare to what has been done by non-Christians.

I can't speak for any other faith system, but calling yourself a Christian does not make you a Christian! Christ himself said so:

"Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Mark 7:23

Of course, the trick is telling who is and who isn't a "real" Christian. The answer is that you can't. But if you devote yourself first to God then, like numerous Christians who stood up against injustice from the church (notably Dietrich Bonhoeffer in WWII, but also many, many others) you will know what God is calling you to do. Or, as the verse above continues:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

matt 7:24

But, I guess I'm speaking to people who won't listen.

Listen people: I don't slam you. I have in fact walked out of churches when they became to vehement in condemning people of other faiths (not because people of other faiths are right: universalism is an absurdity, but because I can respect them as other peoples attempts to pursue God even when they are wrong). All I ask is that you exercise some care to get your facts straight before you slander me and my brothers.

Oh yeah: for being such repressers, I find it interesting that Christian sentiment was what led most abolitionists to want to abolish slavery.

Re:Wow! You guys are repressed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1582963)

With all due respect, only a few trolls are posting anti-Christian views here. I think many people (less the trolls) can handle the fact that not everyone believes in the same thing, religion, and/or deity. Don't judge (ahem) Slashdot based on the posting of some trolls, even though they get a lot of attention.

-- A former Christian (tollerant of basically any belief)

Re:yeah, *that's* funny (1)

Q*bert (2134) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582965)

If that's the way he runs his game, the Almighty is an asshole.


Beer recipe: free! #Source
Cold pints: $2 #Product

Matthew 7:21-23 is the first reference (2)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582968)

Need I say more?

God? Computers? The answer is obvious! (2)

Uruk (4907) | more than 14 years ago | (#1582969)

God IS real.

Unless declared an integer.

(unfortunately not mine, although I don't know where I got it)
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