RE: Seely's Views 2

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Sat Sep 11 2004 - 10:28:31 EDT

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Don Winterstein []
> Sent: Saturday, September 11, 2004 3:59 AM

> DFW: Yes, by your analogy there is noise in the system--so
> I've seen the light; but the noise originates not with the
> source (God) but in the receiver (inspired scribe). Further,
> I assert on subjective bases that some "receivers" generate
> far less noise than others. If the noise levels are low,
> lots of communication can be going on, even though it may not
> be possible to quantitatively prove it.

It really doesn't matter where the noise arises from. If you have a
perfect source, transmitting perfectly, but you send it along a set of
wires that has a lot of cross-feed, induction etc, the noise will affect
the signal and if there is only a 50-50 chance of the information
getting to the receiver correctly, then the noisy channel theorem states
that there is zero communication occurring.

A 10% error in the transmission channel means that only 50% of the
communication actually gets across!

>From p. 20 of C. E. Shannon, " A Mathematical theory of Communication"
The Bell System Technical Journal, 27(1948):3:379-423, p. 21 at using base
2 logarithms:

Hy(x) = - [.9log.9 + .1log.1] = .46 bits per symbol. In Shannon's
example, the symbols were 1 or 0 so each symbol was one bit. That is
nearly 50% miscommunication. This is why error correcting mechanisms
are vitally essential to good communication. It is why DNA has an error
correcting mechanims. In the case of divine commands, the the symbols
are longer (they are commands) but if the entire command doesn't get
through, then lots of symbols(commands) are erroneous. One must
remember that the binary-length of a symbol is somewhat arbitrary.

> DFW: We don't know in detail how to differentiate signal
> from noise, but we judge that the communication was
> successful from the results: God was able to establish a
> relationship with his chosen people, and he was able to
> interact with them over an extended period--in fact, until
> this very day. Consider ordinary human interpersonal
> interactions: No parity bits and plenty of noise, but people
> still make their meanings relatively clear to one another, as
> we can see from results. God as Spirit has big barriers to
> overcome, but we know he's succeeded.

This once again, begs the question that has to be asked. One can only
judge that communication has been successful through christianity by
previously assuming that Christianity is correct. Once we allow
accommodation and error into the information stream, at the receiving
end, it is not safe to assume that communication has occurred. There is
nothing one can do to reconstruct the correct message. That is the
scary thing. "If the channel is noisy it is not in general possible to
reconstruct the original message or the transmitted signal with
certainty by any operation on the received signal E". Shannon C. E.
Shannon, " A Mathematical theory of Communication" The Bell System
Technical Journal, 27(1948):3:379-423, p. 21 at p. 20

So, I would say that without an a priori assumption that Christianity is
the correct communication, you can't logically conclude that the
communication has actually happened.

> You've mentioned [as I recall, possibly inaccurately] that
> you were likely to reject Christianity and become an atheist
> if the Bible (especially Gen. 1-11) were not literally true
> in some sense.

The inaccuracy is that it has to have, or to to possibly have, some
historical content. That is NOT the same as the YEC literalist
position. If God can't be the creator then I see no way he has the
power to raise the dead. (I simply find it amazing that one can say
creation is a theological position but not a historical fact)

> DFW: In accepting Christ one acknowledges that key parts of
> the Bible are at least on the right track. Christ came in a
> context, and Scriptures provided a key part of that context.

How much on the right track?

> GRM: ...The claims of each of these religions are so mutually
> exclusive that if there is a significant fraction of truth in
> all of them, then there must also be a significant fraction
> of untruth. And if that is the case, then Shannon's theories
> condemn the idea that there is any communication occurring.
> To ignore this is to ignore what science says.
> DFW: It's easy for me to imagine that some Muslims may be no
> farther from the truth of God than many Israelites of the OT.
> I hope not all of them wound up damned.
One can't make something true by making all mutually exclusive things
true at the same time

> At bottom there's a form of communication going on in
> Christianity that involves no words or physical system, and
> that is the communication of the Spirit with our spirit (Rom.
> 8:16). (Our spirit of course is connected to the physical
> system that is our body, but the body becomes spiritual in
> such interaction.) It is this form of error-free
> communication that underlies, supports and confirms the key
> verbal messages and ultimately gives Christianity its power.

Maybe that is the only way out of this problem, but it existentializes
things to the point of being Lazurkinian.
Received on Sat Sep 11 10:55:33 2004

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