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

From: Merv Bitikofer <mrb22667@kansas.net>
Date: Sun May 24 2009 - 08:09:00 EDT

Another follow up response: And are you suggesting, Randy, that modern
thinkers are packing too much into the label "omniscience" --beyond
what is Biblically warranted? Could there be such a thing as partial
or limited omniscience? I know that not all Christians subscribe to the
same notion, but I'm wondering if omniscience ranks anywhere close to
being "doctrinal" among orthodox thinkers. I'm not asking these things
rhetorically; I'm really interested in answers.

B.T.W. We have an occasionally outspoken professor here at K-State who
(I have heard) argued that there can't be a God -- or at least not an
omniscient one, because if He existed, then He would have knowledge that
it is impossible to have ---or that the "having of it" would wreak havoc
in the quantum world. (I don't know --it was probably about wave
function collapses with observer knowledge or the like; I only heard
about this second hand and so can't articulate his arguments well.)
But anyway, would this be related to your hesitance over the notion of
exact tracking of a world that has inherent uncertainty?

I'm not sure why faith couldn't include the assumption that God is
simply not subject to the same limitation that is inherent to creatures.

--Merv

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" <mrb22667@kansas.net>
> To: "asa" <asa@calvin.edu>
> 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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Received on Sun May 24 08:09:48 2009

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