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

From: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>
Date: Wed May 27 2009 - 06:24:24 EDT

I just intended to point out the difference between history and individual
identity. Every human being and every snowflake has not only a history but a
unique individual identity. Protons have a history but not a unique
individual identity. So what? I don't know. Just an observation.
Randy

----- Original Message -----
From: "Terry M. Gray" <grayt@lamar.colostate.edu>
To: "ASA" <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 12:20 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Musing on entropy, chaos, and omniscience

> Randy,
>
> Maybe it's "just semantics" but I don't really know why it's a different
> issue or dodging the question. Isn't history and relationship part of
> thing-ness and individuality? It's not necessarily knowable or detectable
> by us, but it exists nonetheless and is known to God.
>
> I like the argument of Cornelius Van Til, that "there are no brute
> facts". Part of every fact is its God-relation, that God created that
> thing or that fact and that God sustains that thing or that fact. Thus if
> you don't know that God created the sun, then you don't know the truth
> about the sun (perhaps the most fundamental thing) even though you know
> its astronomical features, history, etc. Arie Leegwater has a nice piece
> in the Evan Runner Feschtrift from the late 80's where I first ran into
> this idea.
>
> Indeed, having some experience with molecular dynamics simulations in my
> research, I "tracked" individual water molecules (at least their
> simulated versions) Of course, in my simulation, each molecule did have a
> label. As for the human ability to track history and paths, we went to
> the Rockies game yesterday and one of the scoreboard games between
> innings was a "shell game" I could track for the first ten moves or so,
> but lost track after that.
>
> TG
>
> On May 26, 2009, at 8:28 PM, Randy Isaac wrote:
>
>>
>>
>> Terry,
>> I think that's a different issue. As humans we can track the history and
>> paths of different protons also. No, we can't do that for all 10E80
>> particles in the universe simultaneously but we can and do differentiate
>> between two protons when we track them. So that isn't the question.
>> Rather
>> it's the case where two protons are interchanged (you can hide that from
>> humans but not from God, so you could argue that history is always known
>> by
>> God but that's dodging it again) and our current understanding is that
>> there
>> is no difference whatsoever. That is, there is no individuality
>> connected
>> with elementary particles. Certainly God can track the particle but does
>> he
>> recognize individuality in those particles?
>> No, I'm not hung up on this one. I don't really think it is all that
>> significant. Just a fun thought question. Is this like expecting an
>> omnipotent God to be able to do something that is logically
>> contradictory
>> (the classic square circle)?
>>
>> Randy
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Terry M. Gray"
>> <grayt@lamar.colostate.edu
>> >
>> To: "ASA" <asa@calvin.edu>
>> Sent: Saturday, May 23, 2009 4:15 PM
>> Subject: Re: [asa] Musing on entropy, chaos, and omniscience
>>
>>
>>> Randy,
>>>
>>> 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."
>>>
>>> and
>>>
>>> "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."
>>>
>>> TG
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> 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"
>>>> <grayt@lamar.colostate.edu
>>>> >
>>>> To: "ASA" <asa@calvin.edu>
>>>> 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"
>>>>>> <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
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
>>>>>>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu 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 majordomo@calvin.edu with
>>>>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu 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 majordomo@calvin.edu with
>>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>>>
>>
>>
>> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu 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 majordomo@calvin.edu with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>

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Received on Wed May 27 06:24:53 2009

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