The Difference Between Babies and Calculators


When a Mommy Calculator and a Daddy Calculator love each other very much, a baby calculator is born. The creation of a calculator is the least morally conflicting thing in the world, unless it was made with slave labor, which I suppose is a different topic. But the great thing about a calculator is that it does what it’s supposed to. If you tell it to divide 2 by 3, it’ll do it. If you want to know what the distance to the moon times your last paycheck is, it’s got you. I’ve even heard that some of the fancy scientific calculators can tell you the difference of One Direction minus Zayn.

We made the calculator for one purpose, and we can make it fulfill that purpose until the day it dies.

Consider instead a baby. When a baby is made (and someone will have to let me know how that is accomplished in the comments below), we have to make decisions for it. We have to choose its toothpaste, clothes, when it goes to sleep. But with babies, an interesting thing happens. They grow up. Our involvement in a baby’s life is commensurate to its capacity to understand its free will. And the more that it understands that, the fewer decisions we make for it, until we don’t make any decisions for it at all. The more it understands its will, the less we impose ours upon it.

And almost all parents (some sooner than others) recognize that they have to let this thing go and do the things that it will do that they can’t be a part of.

The Difference Between Babies and Calculators

Unlike the calculator, we can’t just make the baby do what we want until it dies, that’s illegal.

Humans have rightly concluded and understood that we are different than calculators. We are not simply things that get expected outputs for given inputs, nor should we be. And the one thing that makes humans so joyously and apparently different than the things around us is the one thing that Christianity would like to give up – existential directive.

How can you even be free when you believe that the Holy Spirit guides you to do the will of God? How can you be free when He has a plan for your life?

As far as we know, rocks, coral, buffalo, dogs, gorillas, and amoebas do not decide why they are here. They are only driven by their deepest instincts and not much more. Turtles migrate in a seemingly programmed fashion, birds fly south for the winter, but humans can choose. And it should go without saying that I think an ill use of that choice is to desire so strongly to be owned and protected and loved that we lie to ourselves and each other.

This existential directive gives us the ability to decide who we will be. Who do you think we are?

We are either calculators, simply machines for input and output, created by some all powerful spirit for a pre-ordained function that we will serve for our entire lives (and after.) Or we are babies, dependent on fables and fairy tales for a time, but everyday growing in stature and wisdom, and one day becoming fully adult, and fully human. It’s up to you.

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3 thoughts on “The Difference Between Babies and Calculators”

  1. All humans are complicated calculators (or computer programs or whatever mechanical metaphor you want to use) who absorb social functions and then as they grow older test the limits of social functions and what they can get away with before finally becoming normalized. Humans are not automatons; we have will, we have the ability to make choices, but think of life like a series of multiple choice questions. We have the ability to choose whichever of the options are inputted into us (some of the options are “correct” and some are “incorrect”), but we do not have absolute freedom to be able to invent our own options. The closest we can get to creating new options is adapting, combining, and molding previous options. Human behavior is extraordinarily predictable (with only marginal anomalous life choices). We are calculators, but we are far more complicated than any computer program we have thus far been able to create. You seem to see “calculator” as being synonymous with “lifeless,” which is a very shallow and unfair equation.

    I realize that your main purpose was to argue against the Christian ideas of predestination and providence, but personally I must reject your methods since they promote mystical ideas of human nature and life itself. I do not believe that while animals live by instinct, humans live on a higher plane. Your description of humanity is reminiscent of an argument for the existence of souls. That being said, I’m not attempting to prove you wrong or anything like that. I don’t assume that I’m right. I just wanted to share an alternate perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your comment, sir! Sorry it took me so long to reply. I guess when I use the word calculator, I’m at least using it in the sense that a functioning calculator gives a correct output for a given input, and human beings should be seen as more complex than that.


      1. Hey Tim! I think I agree with this train of thought. We’ve talked before about how humans don’t always give the same output from the same set of inputs. Thus the potential for The Fall despite a perfect Father.

        Also, I can’t find that other post about Piper’s sermon. Can you point me to it?


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