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Saturday, December 20, 2008

If programming languages were religions: the aftermath

Until December 15 2008, would typically get ~350 hits per day. Between December 16 and 19, it got a total of 266 thousand hits, thanks to the "If programming languages were religions..." post. So, first of all: Thanks, everybody! All feedback, positive and negative, was greatly appreciated.

First it was put on Digg. Then on reddit. Then, to my great surprise, on Slashdot... and on Stumbleupon. And even on one of my favourite blogs, Pharyngula. It was linked on many IRC channels and blogs around the Internet... Several of my friends wrote to tell me that they had seen it linked in some internal forum or mail list. I never expected this kind of reaction!

So here's the basic rundown on all the comments that I saw: most Muslims (that manifested their opinion regarding it, at least) thought that it was funny, and didn't think that it was insulting. Several others thought that it was very offensive. Lots of people thought that I was a Python fanboy (C++ is my actual favourite language, although it's possible that Haskell will take its place as I learn more about it), or a Microsoft hater (hey, I use Vista and Visual C++). Since I got accused of being a Jew by at least 3 different people, let me get this straight: I'm an atheist.

There were many complaints about "missing" languages, or "stereotyping". The list was never meant to be exhaustive, nor was it meant to be perfectly accurate - it's meant to be a JOKE. It's SATIRE. I KNOW that Satanism isn't really about selling souls, and that some of the matches aren't perfect. Also, the reason why languages such as Pascal, Fortran and Smalltalk didn't make it to the list was because I couldn't think of anything funny to say about them. The single most common observation was that assembly should be atheism - I actually WROTE that at a point, but I removed from the final post because I felt that it would end up being biased, one way or the other, and because atheism isn't a religion (or lack of one, for that matter).

If you thought that the original article was funny, I suggest you to read through the comments, both on the article and on the links above - there are some very funny suggestions on those, both for languages that I covered and also for many that I didn't mention.

P.S.: Some people seemed to take issue at me calling C restrictive. I obviously didn't mean that it's restrictive in a "what can you implement with it" sense, but rather in a "to what level can you abstract with it" sense.

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  1. Posting about programming languages will always get people pissy at you, whether you're saying good things or bad! Some people (especially geeks) can't seem to take a joke.

  2. Aha! Then you are a so-called "blasphemous sinner"! Then, adding Assembly as Atheism to the list would have made a circular contradiction!

    But if I am to wish you one thing on the new year, I wish you get to find God as well, like I did.

  3. no, writing about programming language is somehow fabulous, real programmer never distinguish between language...
    they will switch between any languages that they think capable enough to do their business...
    Oh well...
    Happy New year...
    thanks for the lol....

  4. FYI atheism is a religion, since it's a belief rather than based on proof - in the same way that other religions like Christianity and Magical Teapotism are based on beliefs without proof.

    Which is why I'd consider myself an agnostic, currently on the assumption that atheism is the most believable hypothesis albeit perhaps an unprovable one :D

  5. That's not the definition of neither religion nor atheism. Atheism isn't a belief, it's the lack of one. And even strong atheism (which is a belief, in God's non-existence) does not count as religion.

  6. The Atheists I've met are more religious than most believers. Their bombastic preaching is delivered with more conviction. Belief in something you got no proof of? Ain't that the definition of religion....

  7. Wikipedia says:

    "A religion is a of way of life based on tenets (or a belief system) about the ultimate power. It is generally expressed through conducts such as prayers, rituals, or other practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality (the cosmos, and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience."

    Pretty good definition, in my opinion.

  8. Oisín: atheism can be based on the fact that the 'truths' of religion can not exist concurrently, take Christianity for example; it states that its god is perfect and made humans yet according to its own tenets people are imperfect. By definition a perfect creature can not create something in perfect; if it did then that creature would itself be imperfect . Therefore the god of Christianity is a paradox and can not exist in the form that their holy book, which is allegedly divinely inspired and therefore perfect, says it does. Scratch one major religion, this also applies to all other religions that claim a perfect deity.

  9. Assembly could be tribal religion or spiritualism: the basic component of more complex beliefs.

  10. Well, I would say that Atheism is about believing exclusively in evidence i.e. proven facts.
    If it hasn't been proved an atheist doesn't believe in it, and therein lies the beauty, the atheist can freely do some research regardless of imposed morality from some dumbnut preacher and go find his or hers sought after answer.

  11. Atheists *believe* that God does not exist - so it is a belief. A "theism" is a belief in a divine power - hence 'a'theism is the non-belief of a divine power. Agnosticism is a belief based on [provable] knowledge and takes the stance that: God may exist, God may not exist - at least until there is some form of proof (for either direction).

  12. Nope.

    Theism is the belief in the existence of a God or set of gods.
    Atheism is the lack of such belief.
    Strong atheism is the assertion that theism is false. You do not need to be a "strong atheist" to be an atheist.

    Agnosticism is the position where you do not hold any of the above beliefs as FACTUAL. You can be both a theistic agnostic ("I don't KNOW if God exists, but I believe in it") or, more usually, an atheistic agnostic ("I don't KNOW if God exists, but I suspect that he doesn't" for weak atheism or "I don't KNOW if God exists, but I believe that he doesn't" for strong atheism).

  13. you inspired quite a bit of nerd rage. the best kind.

  14. Agnosticism is the premise that the existence of God is un-knowable, not simply that someone has yet to form an opinion or is waiting for more evidence. Not only does it claim that I do not know, but that you can't know either, you just think you do.

    So in that respect, it is more dogmatic than non-theism, or atheism. As Dawkins says, if absolute proof of non-existence is what it takes for me to switch from calling myself an agnostic to calling myself an atheist, then I am a tooth fairy agnostic as well.

  15. Radical athiests are so annoying. They make the rest of use look bad.

  16. Is 'stereotyping' something like Pacal's 'with'?

  17. Very uninformed.
    All the Financial and Banking systems in the world runs on COBOL. => Iluminati?

  18. COBOL is back in the form of XML.
    Only the level numbers are omitted.

  19. I find it interesting that a fundamentalist Christian is one who insists that certain things be accepted as absolutely true without any supporting evidence (to say nothing of the contradicting evidence), but a "fundamentalist atheist" is one who insists that certain things be accepted as absolutely true based on an overwhelming amount of supporting evidence.

    If you're going to be dogmatic about something, shouldn't it be a something that has factual support for the argument?

  20. Guys guys!!!!!!
    The article is a joke not a debate topic. It's a simple non related comparison between programing languages and religions. It's supposed to be funny, it's supposed to make you smile... Laugh for God's sake don't analyze.

  21. Ronny I am horrifically offended by your comment...

    LOL j/k. I agree though, this was just for kicks. Nobody was trying to start such a debate. Just goes to show how testy the world has become.

    Good read, amz.

  22. I think I'll stick to Assembler. Go forth and NOP you evil higher level language programmers! ;-)

  23. atheism is a religion?
    what if I don't care?

  24. Atheism IS a religion.

    You know, like NOT collecting stamps is a hobby!

    Cheers, Dave

  25. A theology is a theoretical model about God or Gods.

    A religion is a group of people who share a theology and have decided to organize themselves along the lines of this theology.

    Atheism is not a religion, it is however a theology. And should those who are convinced of this theology decide to organize themselves it would become a religion.

  26. Loved the list although I can't think what my current tool de jour, PL/SQL, would be! It's derived from Ada but that doesn't help because I can't think of a religion designed for military purposes :)

    Oh, and as an atheist, I'll say - atheism is a religion in the same way bald is a hair colour.

  27. I enjoyed anyway. Good job.

  28. Forgot where I read it - When one man having illusion we call it psychotic, when thousands of man having illusion we call it Religion.

  29. As for the list, awesome job! I would have written it differently, but I didn't write it, so awesome job on what you did! For whatever difference it makes, which should be none at all, I'm a "Christian", although I find that I fit none of the other labels typically associated with that.

    As for atheism, nobody really cares if anyone else calls it a religion or not or if anyone else treats it as a religion or not. No, seriously, nobody really cares. If they claim they care, it's just because they like stirring up drama. Going to an atheist board and saying atheism is a religion is just something to do when it's too cold outside to go kick over an ant nest.

    "By definition a perfect creature can not create something in perfect" is one of the most colossally stupid statements I've ever read. There is absolutely no requirement at any place or at any time that a created thing be an equal to its creator. It's also a general fallacy to even suggest that a created thing be required to share the defining characteristics of its creator (reservations on specifics are noted, but those specifics don't come anywhere near making the original claim even probable). Beneath the surface of its blatant stupidity lies a special pleading fallacy in that no one ever makes claims like this about anything else.

    Of course, one colossally stupid statement generally comes with friends, and here's another: "their holy book, which is allegedly divinely inspired and therefore perfect". "Perfect" is not a natural result of "divinely inspired" by anyone's definition, even if your other colossally stupid statement were true. Secondly, even formalized inerrancy doctrine doesn't claim that the Bible is perfect. Thirdly, the very reasoning behind Open Theism is that of all the attributes the Bible assigns to God, "perfect" is not one of them (once you wrap your head around the fact that the Bible was not, in fact, written in English). Your premises, reasoning, and conclusions are all made entirely of errors in fact, logic, and category.

    "Scratch one major religion, this also applies to all other religions that claim a perfect deity." - Actually, scratch another atheist that is an insult to all thinking atheists due to an utter lack of basic research and reasoning skill. As Ravi Zacharias said, if you can easily dismiss any major world religion then it is solely because you have not properly understood it. Contrary to fundamentalist atheist beliefs, you must actually study a thing and understand it before you are in a position to properly criticize it.

    That's also why all you "contradiction" nuts fail so spectacularly when the "put up or shut up" cards are called. All you do when you trot out your so-called contradictions is highlight your glaring inability to grasp anything beyond your X-Box colored view of the world and your fourth grade understanding of anything beyond your own culture and time. Then, in yet another insult to intelligent atheists, you prop up your insistence that "anecdote + anecdote = data" and pretend that a preacher or two that fails to live up to the standards of his own religion represents a problem of the religion and not the man, is somehow representative of the whole, and somehow diminishes the hard work of so many other preachers, scholars and theologians that do understand all those things you mock without comprehension.

    But then I guess actually studying the claims would mean you'd have to get off the couch and do something, so it's easier just to go out and type some stupid little blurb about Christians and pretend it's got scholarly merit.

    Oh yeah Aegisub, great list.

  30. Atheist here...

    I spent a fair time to study religions, going as far as learning the original language of the first monotheist one, read the Hebrew bible, read the Coran (Quran) and read the new testament, and read serious historic reserach about how these books have been written, by who (no, it's not God but very identifible people).

    Also, I spent a fair time to reverse engineer software created by high level languages and see what the processor really execute, the actual binary code (which translate one-to-one to assembler instructions) that is generated by these high level languages.

    Religion, from latine religare, means to associate, to group together.

    I can see how people feel threatened when somebody else tell them that their beloved high level language, or religion, is not the best or only one.

    My experience with people declaring themself as Agnostics is that they live in a Country, USA, where they know that they could loose their job if their dared to be honest.

    Christian, by definition, are conviced to know the one and only one thruth and that everybody else will burn to Hell.

    Muslim are supposed to be the same. I appreciate the one that promised to not kill the author of this article, but they do not represent the "real" point of view of Islam.

    Enjoy the Soltice, you Atheist and the reborn of baby Jesus you Believers.

  31. Great list, except where it doesn't fit. Judaism, or example, does in fact accept converts.

  32. You can convert to C language, or Judaism, if you ** really **, ** really ** want.

    But you will not find Jews going from door to door or waiting at an airport disguised as information booth trying actively to convert you to Judaism.

    For 99.99% of Jews, you are born that way from your Mother side.

    It is a duty for Christians to "save" you from eternal damnation by accepting Jesus in your life as your only God. As a bonus, you also get the two other Gods; the Father and the Holy Ghost or spirit.

    Mohammed never understood who was this third God, so he rigthly identified the third most important God of Christians as being the mother of Jesus, Mary.

    The Catholics have much more Gods in their live in the form of Saints and Angels.

    Happy Hanukkah to all Jews and Goyim!

  33. Atheism is the lack of belief
    Does that mean assembly is lack of programming languages?

  34. Atheism is *The Belief* There is no God.

    Agnosticism is holding the opinion that there is not enough evidence to decide either way.

  35. There is only one truth: Any time religion is mentioned anywhere on an open forum, people will argue about the definition of atheism.

  36. Assembly language, and the intimate, fact based hardware knowledge that allows to unleash it's true power would not be atheism or any religion.

    It would be the root language used at the upper rank of all religions organizations to empower those who know the truth, but use the myths to manipulate and control societies. Assembly language would be the most powerful religion ever created and serve as the soil upon which other programming languages can flourish.

  37. So what doe that make me as a Business Analyst and Project Manager??

    Should I look at myself and other Project Managers a some sort of church organisation? Perhaps one of the "mothers" committee members or the choirs? I feel sometimes that the projects I get involved in are more like church fairs than any real business project. It would be nice to get tax exemption?

  38. This atheist does not "believe" there is no god. This atheist simply does not accept the proposition of the existence of any gods due to lack of evidence.

    The various holy books are no more relevant to the discussion than the works of H.P. Lovecraft or J.R.R. Tolkien.

    Agnostics are missing their gonads.

    To be intellectually consistent, one must give the exact same credence to ALL gods ever conceived. Based on the evidence, if one is to believe in the Abrahamic god, one must also accept the existence of the gods of the Eqyptians, Babylonians, Norse, Native Americans, Aboriginese, Inuits, Buddhists, Hindus, etcetera and so on. To do otherwise is to commit the fallacy of special pleading.

    Given the contradictory nature of the collected religions of man, there is only one reasonable conclusion. They can't all be right, but they can all be wrong.

  39. Hi,

    I loved your first post and congratulation for your surge of traffic. It was very funny and quite true in my opinion.

    When I saw the reactions I really thought that people are really taking this too seriously, and putting meaning where there is none.

    Religion is also becoming a "passionate" topic and I sometimes feel we are going back to ages where religion was the the center of everyone life and the only truth. This is most disturbing when we think our fathers decided that was enough and separated religion and executive power, public schools started to teach science instead of creationism. And now we feel we are going back again. Same mistakes, same dark ages ?


  40. Hmmm, what would be the religion associated with Hare Krishnas? Is there a language that you only see in airports and smoke shops?

  41. What about one for Objective (or rather Objectionable) C? I'm thinking maybe Catholicism?

    Come to think of it, the previous post about Hare Krishna might work too... :P

  42. Yeah religion is a touchy subject for most people. I actually respect atheism since I don't see em killing people unlike those religious cults. Well actually I think true Buddism is pretty chill too.

  43. im horny. gonna write some assembly stuff

  44. Very funny article. I think the description for perl, python, vb and especially for java is kindda true.

  45. Anonymous: You miss something: to be able to love, you need freedom. There's no such thing as constrained love. In this freedom, we can chose God, or not. That's why the man can fall. I know a case: someone in former Romanian comunist jails, jew, said: God, I know that You don't exist, but if You do, please help me......years later, after he was close to death in the prison, but saved by his fellows, he became christian, and pastor, when released. He said that he met saints in those jails. No metaphors. Saints.

  46. As a Mormon (and a *NIX C programmer) I found the comparison funny and apt.
    I have recently gone back to school, and am required to take an C# ASP class.

    Faced with the heretical choice of either installing Windows, or polluting an as yet undefiled Linux server with mono and Apache::ASP, I had to really take a look at my beliefs. It was hard. LOL!

    Now to the ongoing athiest/agnostic/religion discussion I would add this: Despite what people may say or think, my Faith (with a capital F) is very empirical in its teachings.

    We are taught to believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

    But belief isn't a requirement to begin. We are taught to test gods existence through prayer, and if the theory of Gods existence is supported by our results, we can (as long as His existence isn't disproven) use prayer as a way to test other tenets.

    I am not always the best example of Mormonism, but I can tell you that as religions go, it meshes very comfortably with the scientific method.

    I have had answers to my prayers. I am satisfied that God not only exists, but is still making miracles in the lives of those who love and serve Him. I know and am known by Him. This is the opposite of Agnosticism.

  47. Maybe assembly could be related to tribal religions, with its low level, primitive commands. Very popular among the ancient programmers.

  48. hare krishna ~ pascal?

  49. How could you possible miss out Brainfuck?

  50. An interesting question, but largely irrelevant as long as the extremists claim they are a part of the group, and that claim is not obviously and meaningfully repudiated. Remember, no group is ever perfectly homogeneous, so every group has factions within it. It will usually be difficult for people external to a group to accurately identify faction members within that group. And if it's difficult, many people won't make the effort to do it.

    In the particular case of Islam, efforts to curtail the extremists seems to often be conflated by people in the larger, more moderate group, as an attack on that larger group. And the actions of the extremists often seem to have some level of approval from the moderate group's leaders. Thus leading me to the obvious conclusion that both moderate Muslims and extremist Muslims share a common group. I suspect this is a view shared (rightly or wrongly) by the majority of non-Muslims.

  51. I really liked the post, I'm not too familiar with programming, but I very much enjoy religion. I do have to wonder though, where does Deism fit into all this?

  52. "Also, if you're a Muslim, please don't kill me."
    As I'm not a Muslim, is it OK to kill you?

    Would you prefer (a) ritual sacrifice, (b) hit and run accident, (c) calling a destructor?

  53. Dave Thomas said...

    Atheism IS a religion.

    You know, like NOT collecting stamps is a hobby!

    Cheers, Dave

    No, Atheism is the hobby of trying to convince others there are NO stamps.

  54. loool.. looks like uv sparked a theological war :P great and funny.. thanks for posting :D

  55. I feel so dirty that you have compared c++ to muslim, bleaghh. i prefer c++, and even though c# is from m$, is one of the few things they got right so far

  56. Great response, loved the article. I have been programming for 8 years and sampled or used half of those languages and gave up 1 of those religions ;). I love when stuff like this comes my way, It makes the day go so much faster.

  57. Obviously it was posted to reddit first and not Digg.

  58. Judaism:
    "The catch is, you can't convert into it - you're either into it from the start, or you will think that it's insanity."
    WRONG: You can make a "giur", which means "conversion to Judaism".

    "Fundamentalist Christianity - ... but they're willing to burn those who disagree at the stake"
    WRONG: In question of killing infidels and apostates Chrischianity is much softer (and always has been even in Middle Ages) then Islam. This is a typical trick of anti-christian and pro-islamic PROPAGANDA to mention inquisition as a "proof"
    that Christianity is not humanistic religion.

    Islam - "It takes C and not only keeps all its laws:"
    WRONG. If C is Judaism, then Islam does not keep all its laws. "Old testament" is not a canonical book of Islam.
    Jewish Commandment "Thou shalt not kill" is not a Commandment of Islam. More than that, Koran directly orders to KILL infidels just because they are infidels (no other reasons needed). It orders it in tens of lines.

    "C# would be Mormonism"
    MY COMMENT: Mormonism is a religion that arose in USA in 1848. Its main difference from Christianity is that it allows polygamy. This difference is much more significant than difference between C# and Java.

    Visual Basic would be Satanism
    MY COMMENT: I agree completely.

  59. im horny. gonna write some assembly stuff

  60. Forgot where I read it - When one man having illusion we call it psychotic, when thousands of man having illusion we call it Religion.

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  61. Haha, Right said by author, this a fact, now a days programming languages has a different religions.
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  62. The whole point thought is that programming languages are religions.

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