Re: [asa] Musing on entropy, chaos, and omniscience

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Sat May 23 2009 - 15:40:48 EDT

From quantum mechanics, the particles are indistinguishable with no
identifiable features.
You must be suggesting that God adds a name tag to each one? We just can't
see it?
If there truly is no difference then why would it violate omniscience to not
know something when such knowledge is nonexistent?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Terry M. Gray" <>
To: "ASA" <>
Sent: Saturday, May 23, 2009 3:26 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Musing on entropy, chaos, and omniscience

> Randy,
> I've been hoping to jump into this conversation and this seems like an
> easy one to begin with.
> I would give a resounding "yes" to all of your questions and this is key
> to my own views of how God works in the world. It seems self- evidence to
> me. If he can't then he's not omniscient.
> Would this be a controversial notion?
> TG
> On May 23, 2009, at 1:17 PM, Randy Isaac wrote:
>> Are you implying that God's omniscience means he can distinguish between
>> (i.e. identify) two water molecules? Or two protons? Or two quarks?
>> Randy
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Merv Bitikofer" <
>> >
>> To: "asa" <>
>> Sent: Friday, May 22, 2009 9:07 PM
>> Subject: [asa] Musing on entropy, chaos, and omniscience
>>> If any of you have time for some light mental meandering, read this and
>>> tell me if I'm off my rocker. (Bernie, if you don't count this intro,
>>> three paragraphs will get you almost all of the way through
>>> this! ---long paragraphs are the key strategy for you!)
>>> Many of us will be familiar with the same types of stories and examples
>>> that teachers used to describe the concept of entropy: the shattered
>>> vase ---that can only appear to fly back together again if you play a
>>> movie backwards; or the messy bedroom that only gets elevated to a
>>> neater (or lower entropy) state by the input of work. And we’re told
>>> that this is one of those one-way temporal arrows of physics that,
>>> unlike momentum and collision scenarios ---this one won’t go backwards.
>>> Yet it is fun to attempt this little thought ‘experiment’ to see where
>>> it might lead. Take an ordinary collection of molecules --- say, the
>>> water in your drinking glass. And now in your mind, run the clock
>>> backward --not just moments, but hours and days. And we ‘see’ these
>>> molecules rushing back up the same pipe up into the same city water
>>> tower, and from there we witness what must look like ordinary
>>> diffusion. Various molecules bump into others, becoming more and more
>>> widely dispersed as they move farther back away from their joint trip
>>> down the pipe to join their buddies in your water glass. And as we
>>> follow their history back further down along the aquifers from which
>>> they were pumped, we might observe some that had been trapped
>>> underground for years, and others were relatively recent comers from a
>>> global whirlwind tour before they were rained into some river and
>>> seeped down to their appointment with your city well. We may wonder if
>>> some found one or two of their present buddies early on and managed to
>>> stay together all the way to your glass, but chaos theory makes this
>>> seem a virtual impossibility (short of temporary
>>> micro-crystallization) – but we’ll assume a chaotic liquid state here.
>>> So our historical molecules are bumping elbows with current companions
>>> that they will never see again –in your future drink or otherwise. I
>>> don’t imagine we would have to go too far back before your present
>>> glass of water is completely ‘atomized’ into individual molecules and
>>> quite widely, even globally dispersed.
>>> Now –with the omniscience of God Himself, we look in on all these
>>> molecules in their historical locations and we KNOW that they will ALL
>>> be keeping a future appointment in your drinking glass in the evening
>>> of May 22, 2009. This time, though, let’s watch the clock go forward.
>>> And as it plays we see something like the un-shattering vase flying
>>> together –and in ordinary forward time, no less! To the less omniscient
>>> inhabitants of our drama, it is totally unremarkable, indeed invisible.
>>> But to us, it looks like diffusion in perfect reverse. These
>>> not-so-omniscient, but otherwise savvy inhabitants would be quite
>>> amazed if we identified the disjoint pieces for them ahead of time and
>>> then let them observe as they came together, because they know the
>>> infinitesimal probability of such a thing happening. But for us, the
>>> probability of occurrence is 1 since we’ve seen its future state. (Of
>>> course our mere act of informing them & any interactions at all will
>>> have to have been part of the original history of your present thirst
>>> episode since the slightest modification throws everything off with
>>> chaotic amplification.) It must look all quite amazing from a “God’s
>>> eye” perspective. And contrary to our unidirectional arrow –there would
>>> seem to be a striking symmetry about these events; i.e. any temporary
>>> collection of molecules whether in a cloud, a drinking glass, or the
>>> molecule collective called ‘you.’ For after your ingestion of it, our
>>> drinking glass bunch all eventually go their separate ways again, never
>>> to be re-united. As they came, so they went. So the ‘asymmetry’ of such
>>> events may be in part only an asymmetry based on ignorance or due to a
>>> lack of prior specification.
>>> Tangentially, (speaking of the butterfly effect) it is rather sobering
>>> & simultaneously useless for us to ponder whether or not to suppress
>>> that next sneeze or just let’er rip – the outcome of this choice will,
>>> by next year, make a difference on the level of where a hurricane hits
>>> the U.S. coast, or whether it even forms at all.
>>> And now; who still wonders where the potential points of Divine
>>> influence can enter the causal chains in our reality? A more apt
>>> question might be: where aren’t they?
>>> --Merv Bitikofer
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> ________________
> Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
> Computer Support Scientist
> Chemistry Department
> Colorado State University
> Fort Collins, CO 80523
> (o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801
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Received on Sat, 23 May 2009 15:40:48 -0400

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