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

From: Terry M. Gray <>
Date: Sat May 23 2009 - 16:15:35 EDT


I'm not sure a name tag is necessary, but I would say that there is a
historical individuality that can be (and would be) tracked or even
has been predetermined by God. After all, He knows all the stars by
name and no sparrow falls without his permission and He numbers every
hair on our heads. It seems not too outrageous to extend those
Biblical descriptions to water molecules, protons, or quarks.

I think we need to be extremely cautious about thinking that God's
knowledge is like our knowledge. Just because we can't tell the
difference, even in principle, doesn't mean that He can't. There are
some points of contact between His knowledge and our knowledge, hence
our being in his image, but omniscience is one of those incommunicable
attributes of God and, in my opinion, one of the fundamental Creator/
creature differences.

This discussion actually highlights what I think is a serious problem
with current faith-science discussions, i.e. the tendency to limit God
to designing the way we design in the case of ID or to limit God to
interacting with the world in ways describable by our scientific
understanding, e.g. finding God's action in the realm of quantum
indeterminacy. Who says that God interacts in any such way that we can
possibly comprehend? I'm not sure the Bible gives us much of a clue,
it just says that he does it. To try to figure it out with any more
precision is to move into speculation and natural theology. Charles
Hodge once said:

"The fact of this universal providence of God is all the Bible
teaches. It nowhere attempts to inform us how it is that God governs
all things, or how his effectual control is to be reconciled with the
efficiency of second causes. All the attempts of philosophers and
theologians to explain that point, may be pronounced failures, and
worse than failures, for they not only raise more difficulties than
they solve, but in almost all instances they include principles or
lead to conclusions inconsistent with the plain teachings of the word
of God."


"All we know, and all we need to know is (1.) That God does govern all
his creatures; and (2.) That his control over them is consistent with
their nature, and with his own infinite purity and excellence."


On May 23, 2009, at 1:40 PM, Randy Isaac wrote:

> 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?
> Randy
> ----- 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
>>>> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
>>>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>>> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
>>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>> ________________
>> 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
>> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

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

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Sat May 23 16:15:58 2009

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