A computer is a canonical example of a machine. Every machine can be described by a mathematical theory, and every mathematical theory can be automated on a computer. Therefore if you could describe something mathematically, you could also automate it in a computer. People often suppose that this means if we had a mathematical description of nature, that description could also be automated on a machine. In the case of living beings, such an automation would mean that we too are automatons—machines. This post examines the issues in this argument, highlighting the holes in it.

# Evolution’s Halting Problem

This post describes a problem in Evolutionary Theory that arises when we consider why all living beings eventually die. I will compare the death of a living being to a computer program that halts after completing execution. The issue of program halting is problematic in computing theory because current computing models do not incorporate meanings. A similar problem exists for living beings too. If living beings are evolving by random mutation and natural selection, then there is no physical process of selection that will produce finitely lived living beings. In fact, if the selection process is just as Evolutionary Theory describes it, then we must find living beings that live…