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

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Sun May 24 2009 - 09:15:08 EDT

Indeterminacy in quantum mechanics means that one cannot know without disturbing the system to be known by means of measurements. If God is spirit, how do we know if spirit cannot know without disturbing a purely physical system? It seems that when we deal with the God of Scripture, one is dealing with a nature that we know hardly anything. Why constantly speculate without ever hoping to settle anything?

Moorad
________________________________________
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of Merv Bitikofer [mrb22667@kansas.net]
Sent: Sunday, May 24, 2009 8:09 AM
To: Randy Isaac; asa
Subject: Re: [asa] Musing on entropy, chaos, and omniscience

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 09:15:48 2009

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