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How does religion make better programmers?

Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
It was speculated in this forum that an average atheist makes a better programmer than an average believer. This was what I thought when I lived in Russia, where you couldn't find a decent (or indecent, for that matter) believer in the whole city. But since I got broader exposure to the phenomenon of religious beliefs, I must report that I did not notice any particular skew in distribution of mental abilities among believers as compared to atheists. Heck, I cannot even tell one from another, until it is explicitly said... The last straw -- I recently learned that XSLT guru Bob DuCharm's education consisted of BA in religion first and master in Computer Science after. From here I have to conclude that studying religion does provide at least some benefits for intellectual development, besides saving your soul and making you to memorize a lot of good stuff.
So how can studying religion benefit a programmer? To start, here are some hypotheses:
1) Bible is full of allegories and abstract ideas (like sin, hell...), this gives some practice in abstract thinking.
2) holy texts are self-contradictory and vague, yet you need to make sense out of them. After this, turning user requirements into something realistic is a piece of cake.
3) Peculiar to Christianity Trinity doctrine prepares young minds to the idea of multiple views.
4) Anything else?
[ July 10, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

Uncontrolled vocabularies
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R K Singh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 15, 2001
Posts: 5371
Religion teaches you time management, like you have to say hi to God five times OR you have to go to Church on Sunday, now learn time mgmt and follow it.
It makes you to adhere to the processes. First take bath then you can eat something.
It makes you to beleive in miracles [code was just running, now not running, I have not changed anything and its running again ]
right now only these things .. will come back with more plus points later ..
What it does not teaches you is flexibility in life which is also important in programming.


"Thanks to Indian media who has over the period of time swiped out intellectual taste from mass Indian population." - Chetan Parekh
Devesh H Rao
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 09, 2002
Posts: 687

Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
It was speculated in this forum that an average atheist makes a better programmer than an average believer. This was what I thought when I lived in Russia, where you couldn't find a decent (or indecent, for that matter) believer in the whole city. But since I got broader exposure to the phenomenon of religious beliefs, I must report that I did not notice any particular skew in distribution of mental abilities among believers as compared to atheists. Heck, I cannot even tell one from another, until it is explicitly said... The last straw -- I recently learned that XSLT guru Bob DuCharm's education consisted of BA in religion first and master in Computer Science after. From here I have to conclude that studying religion does provide at least some benefits for intellectual development, besides saving your soul and making you to memorize a lot of good stuff.
So how can studying religion benefit a programmer? To start, here are some hypotheses:
1) Bible is full of allegories and abstract ideas (like sin, hell...), this gives some practice in abstract thinking.
2) holy texts are self-contradictory and vague, yet you need to make sense out of them. After this, turning user requirements into something realistic is a piece of cake.
3) Peculiar to Christianity Trinity doctrine prepares young minds to the idea of multiple views.
4) Anything else?
[ July 10, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

U get to pray to somebody to get ur code to run...
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Ravish Kumar:
What it does not teaches you is flexibility in life

May I ask what upon what basis such a definitive statement as that quoted above may be made? It would seem to me that one would have to know an awful lot about many many religions in order to make such a statement.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
I personally do not believe that the presence or absence of religious belief has much to do with one's ability as a programmer. Formal religious education, such as one might receive in college however, seems to my eyes to be similar in many ways to getting an education in philosophy, which I think on the whole helps the whole deductive reasoning process.
Joel McNary
Bartender

Joined: Aug 20, 2001
Posts: 1817

Originally posted by Devesh H Rao:

U get to pray to somebody to get ur code to run...


Now, now, Computers are not based on magic or religion. There are very technical reason why you have to occassionally sacrifice a goat to your SCSI chain....
On the more serious side (speaking as one who was a Religion major and a Computer Science minor), I will agree with Jason in that whether or not you are religious does not influence your ability to program -- nor does it influence your ability to learn about religion. (My favourite religion professor in college turned out to be an athesist...)
Studying religion (at least, comperative religion; I'm not talking theology/ministerial preparadness here) involves studying patterns and common themes. This also makes for good programming skills.
Lkewise, religion can involve research. I myself study religion through history. My belief is that we can not truly understand a religion or the tenets of that religion unless we understand the context in which that religion came about. (This is in direct opposition to the Fundamentalist Christians who believe that the black-and-white Bible is ultimate and never changing, and if English was good enough for Jesus then it's good enough for them.)
One of the patterns that evolves as you study religion is the concept of "Mother Earth." I do not recall any religion that thinks of the Earth as male; the Earth is always female. See here for a quote regarding this statement.


Piscis Babelis est parvus, flavus, et hiridicus, et est probabiliter insolitissima raritas in toto mundo.
R K Singh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 15, 2001
Posts: 5371
Originally posted by Jason Menard:
It would seem to me that one would have to know an awful lot about many many religions in order to make such a statement.

With my little knowledge about different popular religion.
If I am Jain: I should take bath after every nature call.
If I am Budhist: I must follow Ahimsa[non-violence]
If I am Hindu: I must take bath before eating anything.
If I am Muslim: I must pray 5 times.
If I am Christian: I must go to church on Sunday.
If I am .... : I must do .....

One may come up saying that its not MUST.
But then who is not doing those MUST things will be way behind in the queue for Heaven.
When I say flexibility means .. today I dont want to take bath/go out because I am feeling lazy.
Am I saying that lazyness is more important than anything else ??
I am lazy
Fexibility in programming means I want to use switch statement instad of if blocks.
If programming become religion then one group says even if there is one block use SWITCH, other says even there are 7 blocks use IF only.
I dont belive in any of these group when I feel need of switch I use switch, when I feel need of IF, I use IF.
[ July 10, 2003: Message edited by: Ravish Kumar ]
Mocha D'Late
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 27, 2002
Posts: 11
Programming requires rational as well as abstract thinking, but not fanatism or blind believing. So if somebody think like Java is the only programming language and if you don't use it, I will kill you, obviously that won't make better programmers. :-)
Religion provides abstract thinking but not many facts to base it on.
Religion, atleast as of today and in most cases, does not encourage rational debate. Again atleast for the masses.
So I don't think religion helps develop programming skills.
I know this section is timepass but I cannot help get serious a little bit. Sorry. Read Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey by Naipaul if you like. It covers only one aspect but interesting atleast.
John Dunn
slicker
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 30, 2003
Posts: 1108
Yes. Very religious folks know that you can pop open a book [Bible] and read a few lines, quote a few quotes, and be an 'expert'. Then you can parade your expertise around town and none will be the wiser. These folks will do well as programmers. Although that doesn't mean they'll be the best programmers...


"No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does."
Richard Hawkes
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 28, 2003
Posts: 1340
I admire God's approach to debugging - just wipe the whole thing out and start over. I wouldn't recommend flooding your PC though...
Roy Tock
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 16, 2001
Posts: 83
I can't speak much about religions other than Christianity. With that caveat...
* It seems to me that in organized religions, the faithful come together often to worship. That offers a medium for exercising organizational skills (i.e., organizing religious events), and also forces the religious programmer to talk to people who aren't geeks.
* It seems to me that most organized religions attempt to teach people to sacrifice self-gratification for the good of the community. It can teach a programmer discipline and courtesy. Yes, we all know "religious" people who don't practice their religion...but we also know bad programmers, too.
[ July 11, 2003: Message edited by: Roy Tock ]
Nanhesru Ningyake
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 29, 2000
Posts: 452
There's this popular Hindu prayer:
Kayena vacha manasendriyairva
Buddhyatmanava prakrite swabhavath
Karoomi yadyat sakalam parasmai
Narayanayeti samarpayami

Translated as: Whatever I do with my mind, body, speech or with other senses of my body, Or with my intellect or with my innate natural tendencies, I offer everything to the Lord Narayana.
This really takes the load off the mind of a programmer - screw up? no problem. Be earnest, offer it to God, and move on. No qualms. No worries. Be happy. So the next time things are fubar - say this prayer, or sing Everything I do, I do it for You and move on
[ July 13, 2003: Message edited by: Nanhesru Ningyake ]

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