June 5, 1997
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
It is astonishing what nonsense even supposedly intelligent people can write about computers so as to credit them with quasi-human qualities. This is mainly because they have such a low view of human beings. Materialists who believe only in matter, and their kissing cousins, evolutionists, have almost no idea what a human being is.
Let me give for instance the argument of an article written last month by a nationally renowned columnist here in the U.S.A. It concerns the recent one-game victory by chess computer Deep Blue in its six-game re-match played one month ago in Philadelphia against world chess champion, Gary Kasparov. The article is called "Be Afraid", and it concludes that mankind must fear an evolution of computers from victory over Kasparov to victory over the human race! Here are the bare bones of the article, in four propositions –
1. In the second game of the second match, "Deep Blue" played in a way (apparently) more human and less mechanical than ever before, thus not only defeating but also unnerving Kasparov.
2. This is because the computer was stronger than Kasparov in chess strategy, where normally humans are stronger. Thus Deep Blue seemed to have risen from mere calculating to real thinking, from mere quantity to quality, from mere brain to mind.
3. Similarly Deep Blue looked as though it was breaking free of mechanical determinism insofar as its makers could not tell what move it would make in any one situation, because its 32 computer nodes each with 16 co-processors could talk to one another in such different orders that it would give unpredictably different results: said one of the makers, "We can never know why Deep Blue did what it did."
4. Thus Deep Blue demonstrated in early May that computers have moved up the first stage on the evolutionary ladder from merely mechanical determinism to non-determined action, and, given that integrated circuits have only been around for 40 years and microprocessors for the last 30, then we can reasonably expect that computers will soon make, as human beings did, the second step, from non-determined thinking to fully intelligent freedom! Mankind, move over!
Now our columnist might not like his argument to be so cruelly shrunk, but he could not deny that here are its bare bones. Let us take each of the four propositions in turn -
Firstly, however much Deep Blue may have "appeared" (sic...) to be moving humanly instead of merely mechanically, it remains obvious that the computer was still only doing what it had been programmed by its designers to do. Outside that programme it absolutely could not move. Kasparov won the first match because he discovered a weakness in the computer's programming (pawn structure), and being human was free to adapt his own play accordingly. On the contrary the computer could not be adapted until after the first match was over, when no doubt its human designers freely corrected it, to Kasparov's grief in the re-match. Brute force of millions of lightning calculations is still the computer's only internal strength. To defeat a Kasparov still requires external manipulation of that brute force by other humans.
Secondly, however much Deep Blue may have "seemed" (sic...) to have risen from brute calculation to real thinking, from quantity to quality, etc., in reality any such rise is only an illusion, or, such a violation of common sense as only evolutionists are capable of. Since when, if I buy 20, 50 or even 50,000 cans of beans at the store, do they turn into a joint of beef by the time I get home? Since when, if I add oceans to oceans of water, do they make one piece of land? Since when if I pile up billions of unthinking apes, do they make one thinking man? As though quantity if only big enough will jump into a change of quality or of substance! As though mechanical circuits, if only I connect up enough zillions of them, will make an unmechanical thought! Idiocy! But then evolutionists, like our columnist, are (witting or unwitting) idiots. For them, apples slide into oranges all the time!
Thirdly, however much Deep Blue "looked as though" (sic... are you beginning to feel sea-sic?) it was breaking free of determinism, of course it was doing no such thing. To conclude from the designers' no longer being able to observe their machine's determinedness to the machine being indetermined in itself is as idiotic as to say the moon has no other side because I can never see it! Any randomness of Deep Blue's complications is only relative, or apparent. If in one and the same situation it can give different results, that is only because it is designed to be able to do so. Its determinedness is only relatively unobservable, absolutely Deep Blue remains determined.
Fourthly, to add to the fancy of Deep Blue's having risen to - sorry, having seemed to rise to - undeterminedness, the fancy of its rising from undeterminedness to full intelligence, is to double the stupidity. But then our columnist's wits are addled by his belief in just such an evolution on the part of man himself. After all, if man evolved from mineral to vegetable to animal to humanoid, why can't the mineral machine do the same? Poor columnist! He may ape all the mindless fools in creation, but he is still going to answer at God's judgment seat for the misuse he has made of his God-given intelligence!
The human being ranks high in God's graded creation, because of all material creatures man alone is also spiritual. Amongst spiritual creatures he ranks low insofar as he alone is also material. Above him are the purely spiritual angels. Beneath him are the purely material creatures of the animal, vegetable and mineral categories, in that order.
Now through all these grades of creation, rank is by more or less spirituality climbing out of matter. Lowest minerals have no semblance of life, whereas the highest minerals (e.g. amino-acids?) seem close to life. The lowest plants are little more than mineral, the highest (e.g. fly-catchers) seem close to animal. The lowest animals (e.g. starfish?) seem little more than plants, the highest animals are those constantly credited by the media with intelligence. The lowest human beings behave little better (even, worse!) than animals, the highest seem angelic. And the angels again are graded towards God.
However, while the highest of the lower in God's creation thus always touches on the lowest of the higher, still each main category is unmistakably distinct from its neighbours, and no creature can belong to two such categories. Thus every plant has life in itself which no mineral has; every animal has sensation which no plant has; every human being has intelligence which no animal has; no angel has a body which every human being has. Nor is there any scientific evidence whatsoever to prove that any creature has ever moved from one category to another, on the contrary there are masses of evidence for every creature's being fixed in its category.
So Deep Blue is mere mineral, will remain mere mineral, and has not in it a grain of life, let alone of intelligence, nor will it ever have. So with its zillions of electronic circuits it may be able, in a game that suits it like chess does, to overtop the calculating capacity of the strongest of human players, but it is still intrinsically incapable of one truly intelligent or free thought, because it is totally material and all its operations are locked in the determinedness of matter. To be a match for the free Kasparov, Deep Blue had to be programmed and re-programmed by a team of spiritual and free chess and computer experts.
So the machine is and always will be a mere instrument of human beings. The problem remains inescapably the human beings, or, whatever fouls up human beings, which in any serious sense is always sin, which is always human beings fouling up their relations not firstly with one another but firstly with God.
So what we need to be afraid of, dear columnist, is not a take-over of mankind by Deep Blue, but rather the human beings who are liable to misuse the powers of Deep Blue, because, amongst other reasons, columnists completely misrepresent to them their own spiritual nature and the material nature of Deep Blue. There is no way in which men will behave like angels if they are equated with machines!
Nor will they always behave like angels even if they are treated like men! Here at the Seminary we have just had a stormy month of May. A priest who had been a professor here for nearly four years precipitated his own expulsion for combined subversion and disobedience at the beginning of the month, because, it seems, he thought the moment had come when his own project for the apostolate, ripening within his mind for the last ten years, could no longer be advanced from within the Seminary. So instead he manipulated his departure.
The gravity of his condition as an incorrigible dreamer was not immediately apparent when he came to Winona, firstly for three years as a seminarian and then as a professor. On the contrary, his out of the ordinary talents rendered for a while considerable service to the Seminary and to seminarians, as they had been brought here to do. But now it seems that he was driven by his dream all along. Alas, each time he meets with a reality check, he will be sure it is the fault of reality.
But who can help loving Peter Pan? When this 34-year old priest left the Seminary behind him, he took with him one priest and two seminarians, and since then another half dozen seminarians have left, at least for the time being, and some of those who are still here have stardust in their eyes and tears in their hearts. It can be painful to grow up!
Dear friends, pray for these two priests that they come to their senses before they have to be expelled from the Society of St Pius X, and pray to lose no more of your priests to their dream, which they themselves indicate may end up back within the Novus Ordo establishment. Let no more fantasies of the Devil be allowed to distract or divert our seminarians or priests from the seeming treadmill of labour appointed for our sanctification by Our Lord in his vineyard!
Meanwhile the Seminary continues on schedule. There will be ordinations to the priesthood and diaconate here on Saturday, June 21, at 9 AM, by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais. There will follow the series of Retreats as announced, women's July 2 to 5 and 7 to 12, men's June 25 to 28 and July 14 to 19, concluded by the Doctrinal Session of July 22 to 26, which will deal with modern and postmodern errors.
Enclosed is a flyer for the latest series of three audio-tapes made by Bernard Janzen and myself. The flyer advertises their availability from him in Canada, but they will also be available at the same price here from the Seminary. He says he likes them.
This week we shall be consecrating the Seminary to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, at a little shrine we are constructing in a prominent place. The Seminary belongs to Him. May He continue to have mercy on it as He had for the last month! And thank you especially for the help of your prayers over the same time period.
Most sincerely yours in His service,