G!d's Lonely Programmer

This is a story about a man named Terry Davis who has programmed a Temple of G!d. His talent as a programmer emerged in elementary school, and he went on to become an engineer, like his father. He was raised Catholic, but he became an atheist. “I thought the brain was a computer,” Davis tells Motherboard’s Jesse Hicks, “And so I had no need for a soul.” But that all changed when G!d talked to him.

“Davis describes how that happened in a fragmentary, elliptical way, perhaps because it was such a profoundly subjective experience, or maybe because it still embarrasses him. ‘It’s not very flattering,’ he says. ‘It looks a lot like mental illness, as opposed to some glorious revelation from G!d.’ It was a period of tribulation, but to this day he declares, ‘I was being led along the path by G!d. It just doesn’t look very glorious.’”

The other strange visions and ideas that followed for Davis sound more like textbook schizophrenia, but I found this downplaying of the revelation part so touching. It’s like his engineering mind has allowed his prophet mind to enter, but it hasn’t let go of its reservations. The rest of the story is weird and sad, but it resulted in something remarkable. Following divine instructions, Davis built TempleOS:

The graphics are simple, but the animation is actually amazing. The craft of this OS transcends those of the old-school, utilitarian systems of which it reminds us. Davis’ narration is not troubling, it’s lucid and complete given what he’s describing. It’s all so esoteric and tangled. It does remind me of Torah in form, not just in content. Davis has a website at templeos.org that lets you peer into the meanings and workings a little further.

I don’t want to freak anybody out, but I feel a sense of kinship with this guy. I feel like I’ve always sought to build a Temple, one that requires the fullest extent of my skills and years of my effort and commitment. I’ve had a fair bit of practice with little mini-Temples, but none of it is my Life’s Work. The desire to build something grand and immortal is so familiar, but it feels out of reach for me. Maybe you have to be called by G!d to actually build one. Or be a little crazy. If there’s a difference.

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