Your Opinion: Tragic example of Alan Turing
Friday, June 29, 2012
“Love the sinner; hate the sin.” This merciful axiom is supposed to rule the Christian attitude toward behavior not sanctioned by Scripture. It is unfortunate that, in the hands of many, it translates to “Hate the sinner.” This attitude has seldom found a more tragic application than in the life of groundbreaking British mathematician, Alan Turing.
June 23 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest theoretical minds in the history of science — and a tragic hero. During WWII, Turing single-handedly broke the German communications code saving thousands of Allied lives and assuring victory over Hitler.
Turing’s mind was something unique in science. He was capable of detecting patterns where others saw only chaos. His contributions to the fields of communications theory, artificial intelligence (The Turing Test) and morphogenesis are still contributing to our knowledge and understanding of the modern world he so brilliantly anticipated in his brief 42 years of life.
He is a tragic hero because his homosexuality caused him to run afoul of the then-draconian British legal system that viewed homosexuality as a crime punishable by prison or chemical castration. Turing’s choice of the latter caused his suicide.
People of sense and intelligence must reject many of the moralistic conclusions of those who regularly bludgeon the body politic with their unyielding standards of morality concerning sex. Their dogmatism is not only degrading the social and political dialog here, but, left unchallenged and unchecked, is already beginning to turn back decades of enlightened jurisprudence. A modern society does not need some archaic code formulated in obeisance to a demented, paternal God to provide clear, ample guidelines for behavior and to develop humane, legal formulations.
Nietzsche said, “Beware in casting out your demons that you do not cast out the best part of yourself.” We need to be extremely careful in our rejection of other’s behavior. We must stringently ask ourselves “Who is harmed?”
Christianity’s “Love the sinner; hate the sin.” often morphs into “Hate, persecute and prosecute the sinner.” This has led to all manner of crimes and atrocities unparalleled in human history and has resulted in the martyrdom of geniuses from Hypatia of Alexandria to Giordano Bruno. This anti-science Christian zealotry has cost us the loss of some of the greatest minds humanity has produced. Alan Turing is only one modern example. His loss to us is tragic and incalculable.