The Enigma Who Was Alan Turing

A few weeks ago, I watched the movie The Imitation Game on Netflix.  It’s the story of Alan Turing, the man who lead a team of Brittish mathematicians who broke the Nazi encryption system known as Enigma.  This group’s work was top secret in the highest degree and the story wasn’t declassified until the 1970s.

I’d definitely recommend you to watch this show–the acting is great. The plot is exciting.  Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Mr. Turing is outstanding.

One thing the movie strikes on, sadly, is how poorly society treated this incredibly gifted and talented hero–because he was gay.  During the World War II era, homosexuality was illegal in Great Brittan and after the way, Mr. Turing was convicted of this “crime” and was forced to undergo chemical castration.  Side effects of the treatment and the torment he faced eventually led Alan to take his own life.

And because his mission was top secret, no one knew of his contributions to the Brittish and the Allied Forces.  No one knew it was he who was responsible for bringing down Enigma.

Great Brittan had persecuted a man that no one realized was a national hero for a wholly unworthy reason.


Pope Francis recently stated that Christians should apologize to gay people and others that the church has historically oppressed.  I hope you were as happy to see this as I was.  Christians owe that apology to any who have been hurt by the church.  It’s exactly the opposite of the church’s mission.  Christians are called to love others, not to condemn them.


But how often do we do similar things to others?  I have often wondered:

“How many wonderful people have I overlooked for reasons that were immaterial, petty, or just plain stupid?”

“How much talent has our society missed out on because we have ostracized people for ‘a good reason?'”

“How much greater could our world be if we were to focus on inclusion and the merits of each individual, rather than excluding that which we see as different or strange?” 

I know I’ve done this myself.  I see it happen in the world around me.  Have I missed out on a rich friendship because I overlooked someone for foolish, petty reasons?  Have people with the potential for greatness been shut out, denied rights or opportunities because he or she were deemed “unfit” by society?


In the 1940’s, the Allies were fortunate to have Alan Turing–a genius ahead of his time–to crack the Nazi Enigma code.  Alan’s work is often given credit to enabling the Allies to shorten the war, save millions of lives, and even to ultimately prevail over Nazi Germany.  (Forbes, NYT ).


The machine he made that broke Enigma became known as the first “Turing Machine.”

Today we call them “computers.”