pacman, God, and programming
For my artificial intelligence class, we program Pacman to go through mazes, eat the food, avoid the ghosts (or eat them), and win. We program Pacman not by hard-coding in directions (turn right, go straight, turn left), but by giving him an evaluation function, which is basically a bunch of numbers that give variables in his environment a particular weight (ghosts a large negative number, food a positive number, etc). In this way, we give him just enough information about what is good and what is bad in his environment, but allow him to make calculations for himself about what specific directions he’s going to take.
I don’t claim to know a lot about theology or philosophy, but as someone who believes in God, I was surprised to get a glimpse of understanding through my Pacman project. Just as it was incredibly frustrating to watch Pacman make poor decisions when I (thought I) had given him good directions, I can start to imagine how frustrating it is for God when I run around and make stupid decisions. And just as Pacman’s view of the world is far more limited than my view, my own view of the world is a form of tunnel vision, and far more limited than the world that God sees. So what am I doing, running around making mistakes (like Pacman running into ghosts), instead of recognizing that there’s a God who is bigger than I am, sees far more than I am, and actually wants something better for me than anything I can imagine?>