Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Information, the basis of reality

posted by Rod Dreher

Yesterday at the Foundation, I heard a presentation by Hyung Choi, a physicist, philosopher and theologian who is in charge of our grant-giving in mathematics and the physical sciences. Hyung said that the emergence of quantum mechanics caused a revolution in our entire understanding of the way reality worked. He said we are now undergoing a second revolution, building on the first: today, physicists are exploring the idea that the basis of reality is not energy and matter, but information. He gave a quote by Anton Zeilinger, one of the world’s great physicists, who said that the first syllables of the Gospel of John — “In the beginning was the Word…” actually tells us something profound about reality.
Dr. Zeilinger — aside from being the man who recently, at a New York gathering of the Foundation, shared with me the happy news that a Dreher from Vienna did humankind a great service by inventing a kind of lager beer – is the scientist whose Viennese team succeeded in carrying out the first example of quantum teleportation — has written the following about the information-as-the-basis-of-reality. Excerpt:

Quantum World is full of paradoxes, of which the most well-known is Schrodinger’s cat. There have been a number of attempts in the history of quantum physics to somehow bypass the conceptual problems of quantum physics, witness for example Albert Einstein’s position. Not the least because all these attempts have turned out not to be very fruitful, the only productive approach is to accept quantum phenomena and ask what the message of the quantum really is. John Archibald Wheeler has formulated this in his far-reaching questions. It turns out that very naturally the referent of quantum physics is not reality per se but, as Niels Bohr said, it is “what can be said about the world”, or in modern words, it is information. Thus, if information is the most fundamental notion in quantum physics, a very natural understanding of phenomena like quantum decoherence or quantum teleportation emerges. And quantum entanglement is then nothing else than the property of subsystems of a composed quantum systems to carry information jointly, independent of space and time; and the randomness of individual quantum events is a consequence of the finiteness of information.The quantum is then a reflection of the fact that all we can do is make statements about the world, expressed in a discrete number of bits. The universe is participatory at least in the sense that the experimentalist by choosing the measurement apparatus, defines out of a set of mutually complementary observables which possible property of a system can manifest itself as reality and the randomness of individual events stems form the finiteness of information.A number of experiments will be reviewed underlining these views. This will include an entangledphoton delayed choice experiment where the decision whether a photon that has passed a double slit did this as a particle or a wave is delayed not only until a time after its passage through the double slit assembly but even after it has already been registered. Thus, while the observed facts, i.e. the events registered by the detectors, are not changed, our physical picture changes depending on our choice what to measure. Another experiment discussed is the observation of the quantum interference of fullerenes which are so hot that they are not at all decoupled from the environment. The reason why interference is still observed is due to the fact that the photons emitted by the fullerenes do not carry path information into the environment. The criterion for observation of interference is simply whether or not path information is available anwhere in the universe, independent of whether or not an observer cares to read that information out. Finally an experiment on the teleportation of an entangled photon demonstrates that the decision whether or not two photons are entangled or not again can be made at a time long after these photons have already been observed. More precisely, the quantum state we assign two photons for a time period before they have been registered depends on our future choice whether or not we then implement the Bell state measurement these two photons are entangled with. This experiment lends support to the idea that the quantum state is just a representation of our knowledge and that this knowledge changes when an observation is made. Thus the reduction of the wave packet is just a reflection of the fact that the representation of our information has to change whenever the information itself changes as a consequence of an observation. In conclusion it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Then the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word”.

If you completely understood that, you are ahead of me. Here is a newspaper interview (trans. into English) with Dr. Zeilinger. Here’s his page on Edge.org, which includes several articles on him and his work. Here is a 2001 article from New Scientist that makes Dr. Z’s basic insights more intelligible for non-specialists like me, though it’s still a stretch to wrap one’s mind around the ideas here. The practical application of this idea, Dr. Z. has explained, is not so much that we’ll be able to teleport objects — he said that’s a thousand years away — but that we can create “quantum computers” which will be able to work vastly faster than current computers.
I am wondering, though, about the philosophical and theological implications of this work. It seems to me that information, to have any definition, must have a receiver (is a sound really a sound if it is not received?). In other words, information must have a knower to be known. Can the purpose of the universe, built into its very structure, be relational — that is, to know and to be known? Is consciousness the telos of Creation? For the Christian, of course, the point of our existence is to know God, our Creator, and to exist in transformative relationship with Him. Orthodox Christianity is panentheistic, meaning it sees God, in his energies, as immanent in all matter, though matter is not essentially God. In the Orthodox view of the Fall, humankind, through the exercise of its free will, disrupted the harmonious order of Creation; salvation for the Orthodox, then, is not a legal process, but one of regeneration and healing — restoring harmonious order to creation, spiritually and physically.
Perhaps the Fall — however it was accomplished (I don’t think it’s necessary to believe in a literal Adam and Eve; at some point, however, the fabric of the universe was rent by the exercise of free will by conscious humanity — was inevitable, given that, per Zeilinger, free will appears to be intrinsic to the structure of reality:

Zeilinger : ‘… it’s like this: an experimenter can determine through his choice of measuring equipment which physical size becomes reality. Take a particle with an uncertain location and an uncertain velocity. When you look at it through a microscope and locate it, the particle gives you an answer: “Here I am.” That means, the location becomes reality at that moment. Beforehand, the particle had no location at all. With the choice of the measuring equipment we’ve had a major impact on reality. But the answer that nature gives is completely random.
Interviewer : I choose the measuring equipment, and nature chooses the result?
Zeilinger : That’s right. I call that the two freedoms: first the freedom of the experimenter in choosing the measuring equipment – that depends on my freedom of will; and then the freedom of nature in giving me the answer it pleases. The one freedom conditions the other, so to speak. This is a very fine property. It’s too bad the philosophers don’t spend more time thinking about it.
Interviewer : I’d like to come back to these freedoms. First, if you assumed there were no freedom of the will – and there are said to be people who take this position – then you could do away with all the craziness of quantum mechanics in one go.
Zeilinger : True – but only if you assume a completely determined world where everything that happened, absolutely everything, were fixed in a vast network of cause and effect. Then sometime in the past there would be an event that determined both my choice of the measuring instrument and the particle’s behaviour. Then my choice would no longer be a choice, the random accident would be no accident and the action at a distance would not be action at a distance.
Interviewer : Could you get used to such an idea?
Zeilinger : I can’t rule out that the world is in fact like that. But for me the freedom to ask questions to nature is one of the most essential achievements of natural science. It’s a discovery of the Renaissance. For the philosophers and theologians of the time, it must have seemed incredibly presumptuousness that people suddenly started carrying out experiments and asking questions of nature and deducing laws of nature, which are in fact the business of God. For me every experiment stands or falls with the fact that I’m free to ask the questions and carry out the measurements I want. If that were all determined, then the laws of nature would only appear to be laws, and the entire natural sciences would collapse.

True harmony can only be restored by free consciousnesses (ungainly word!) — or discrete minds/spirits — freely yielding to the will of the Creator. It counts for nothing if it’s not freely given. And it can only be given in Love. If Zeilinger and the quantum information theorists are right, it seems to me that love, then, could be said to be the basis of all reality. I doubt you could derive that from purely scientific means, but it’s interesting to contemplate whether or not a universe in which language (information) is intrinsic must not in some sense be conscious.
Meh. I’m off to the farmer’s market. Tell me what you think. Meanwhile, for further reading, here’s the transcript of a lengthy interview Krista Tippett did with the Anglican priest and theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne, which takes up in part the theological implications of quantum physics.



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Jon

posted July 17, 2010 at 11:34 am


More basic than informtion even: Potential (in which information is encoded). The fundamental reality is a set of superimposed quantum potential fields out of which everything (perhaps even space and time) emerge as attributes. The world is a gigantic “Maybe”.



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meh

posted July 17, 2010 at 11:57 am


Rod: “If Zeilinger and the quantum information theorists are right, it seems to me that love, then, could be said to be the basis of all reality.”
http://www.sciencecartoonsplus.com/pages/gallery.php



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Charles Cosimano

posted July 17, 2010 at 12:12 pm


I think this a good example science going where it is not supposed to go, not in a theological sense but in a sense of how can this be proven by experiment. It raises more doubts in my mind than answers.
Or to be less charitable, it sounds like The Secret on crack. Now, I like The Secret. I like the idea of positive thinking, it is certainly to be preferred to the alternative. But to claim that it is science is pushing the envelope of science to the breaking point.
I would like to ask him a simple question. How did we manage to create mosquitos?



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Steve W

posted July 17, 2010 at 12:39 pm


Isn’t this just what a Thomist or an Aristotelian would call “intelligibility?” It’s not a new concept or anything.



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Sotto Voce

posted July 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm


That is a lot to digest in one quick reading. But Dr. Z’s observations appear to be a partial confirmation of something I’ve believed for decades.
I don’t recall ever having been moved by an unbeliever’s complaint that he or she couldn’t believe in a God that would allow (so much suffering, etc.) to occur. They seemed to miss the point: their issue was not with the nature of God, but the nature of physical existence.
For free will to be possible, the potential for it must necessarily be woven into the very fabric of the universe. Without inherent deterministic tendencies governing matter, there would be no potential for order (Newtonian physics), yet at a deeper level, one trades certainties for probabilities (Heisenberg, et al). Those uncertainties are chinks in the armor of pure determinism. Yet while making free will possible, these also unleash the potential for random physical misfortunes and human suffering that comprise the basis for the unbeliever’s aforementioned complaint.
Ultimately, the object of resentment is not so much the idea of God, but the burden of a free existence and the uncertainties that go with it.
Existentialist thinkers have taken us down a few blind alleys. But they were onto something. We can choose, and our choices matter.



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Neil D

posted July 17, 2010 at 1:49 pm


Whenever I’m confronted with questions about the nature of the cosmos, I think of my dog. Bear with me…
My dog is smart, but he’s not smart enough to build a house. He can’t learn my language and I can’t learn his. He can’t do calculus. We communicate, sort of, via what appears to me to be very basic senses. I pet him and he seems to like it (he doesn’t run away) so I continue. If I get rough with him he yelps or tries to bite me. I have no idea if he is aware of his mortality but clearly he has enough awareness to keep from placing himself in too much danger.
So he has some understanding of this world. It is different from mine, I suppose, but it is awareness.
He seems stuck, though, in a place he cannot escape through innovation and scientific progress. He can see the moon, but unlike me, he cannot go there.
I’m forced to wonder if in some way I am also just like him. There are things I cannot do or even imagine. We humans create gods to help explain those things we do not understand – to provide context, meaning, or purpose to our lives. It seems to me rather silly to create this God and worship it. And then I wonder what my dog thinks of me…
My apologies if this makes no sense to you. It’s how I explain what I don’t know. Those things, in fact, may be unknowable.



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Kentigern

posted July 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm


There’s a difference here between Thomist analogia and non-Augustinian patristic energeia in how such intelligibliity is experienced in practice in different traditions, I’d say. On a sidenote: Coming from a kind of spiritualistic quasi-Protestant background in my youth, in which Adam and Eve were viewed symbolically but Christ largely as well, if the former are ahistorical, then what prevents the conclusion (made by a lot of folks especially of Protestant background across the last few generations in America) that Christ is “merely” symbolic as well, on the road to adopting secularism? (A view I no longer share.) Historically there has been a connection between the two developments, with similar logic often employed by analogy ultimately. It’s worth considering in light of this really interesting post the difference made between a figurative and historical view of Adam and Eve in relation to Christ–and doing so from a patristic/liturgical/hesychastic perspective that gets beyond fundamentalist conflicts with science–while also admittedly more into the realm of what modern culture would classify as mystical.



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Broken Yogi

posted July 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm


ANother interesting article on Zellinger and the modern QM viewpoint called “the Reality Tests” is found here:
http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_reality_tests/?page=all&p=y
If someone was looking for experimental evidence for the kinds of things being talked about in Rod’s excert, this would be a good place to begin.
The basic inference from these experiments is that there really is no “objective reality”, but that even large objects only appear when we observe them, and not before.
Another good article along these lines is found here, with further experimental findings:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203130708.htm
These findings support an even more radical theory: that our entire universe is really just information on the surface of a black hole, projected as a hologram into a multi-dimensional space. ALready, a number of physicists have been discovering that all the particles we know of can be described as “evaporating mini-black holes”, which further supports these kinds of cosmological views of the universe.
http://www.crystalinks.com/holographicuniverse.html



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Steve Esser

posted July 17, 2010 at 2:59 pm


Your thought that information implies a receiver is very insightful, I think. It leads pretty naturally to the idea that some kind of proto-conscious experience and intentionality is part of every physical interaction. This model of panexperientialism can certainly be used to support a model of pantheism or panentheism.
You lose me when you start relating this to the Fall. But, anyway, good, thought-provoking ideas.



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Geoff G.

posted July 17, 2010 at 3:05 pm


I would just point out that the first part of the first verse of John in the original is actually: ?? ???? ?? ? ?????.
“? ?????” is almost always translated as “the Word,” but it can also refer to thought or reason. It’s also a word used for a speech or oration, i.e. something transmitted, with the implication that there is indeed someone listening.
The interesting thing I take from reading this is that the information exchange is a two-way street. It’s not all God broadcasting His will to the universe (as ? ????? might seem to imply), just as the experimenter is not merely an observer of physical phenomena, receiving information from the experiment. Rather, both the experimenter and phenomenon appear to be in some way exchanging information.
It seems to me that that exchange (rather than one-way transmission) would have profound implications for the nature of God.



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Roland de Chanson

posted July 17, 2010 at 4:38 pm


In regard to the perennial enigma of whether a tree falling in the forest when there is no one to hear makes a sound — no, it does not, because there is no recipient for the transmission. But the deaf hiker it fell on did holler pretty loud till they found him.
If information interchange is revelatory of the nature of God, I am exceedingly chagrined to say that the channel I’ve been using seems to accomodate simplex transmission only. I’ll try to listen harder. But if you listen hard enough and there is no sound, does that mean there is no transmitter?
I feel out of my depth on the very broad topic of this post. It rather makes me regret I neglected my Blavatsky in my misspent youth.



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Her Lao

posted July 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm


“Matter.” “Energy.” “Space.” “Time.” “Matter-Energy.” “Space-Time.” “Information.” Etc. Etc. —- these are words, words to describe human perception (of things, ideas, descriptions, matter, etc.).
To say one word, one thing, or one idea is “reality” and another is “not reality” is a play with words, NOT with “reality,” whatever IT is.
But to refer to ONE particular way of expression from ONE SUPERSTITION or another (e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, etc.) as the real deal, or the deepest one, and, say, the various Christians from Luke to John to Augustin must really have had gleaned “truth” that has taken hundreds or thousands of years for secular scientists and philosophers to now, in the year 2010, understand it as those men shortly before and shortly after the writing of the Bible…. That’s just nonsense.
The whole article is pervaded, invaded by Judeo-Christian terminologies, dictions, words, history, and nonsense.
Of course, it is nice to infuse it, from beginning to end, with names of prominent scientists; and Hyung Choi (whom I presume to be of Korean American origin) — being a person from a people that has been thoroughly converted en mass in the last 60 years to Christianity — being a physicist and a theologian, the writer of this piece of article, THINKS nicely lends credibility to the “Word” in the Bible and other Judeo-Christian nonsense as being “the Truth”, whatever that is.
It’s mostly mumble jumble. Or perhapas it is mumbo jumbo. Or perhaps it is a combination of both.
INFORMATION can be studied purely as a phenomenon without any allusion to any of the endless and superstitious nonsense like the various “divinely inspired Holy Books.”
And such an investigation (for a person who is interested) could be started with the name Claude Shannon, who did one of the most simple and yet fundamental “tunneling” into the reality of what we called INFORMATION or, as this article wants to call it, “reality.” And while Shannon focused mostly on the HOW and not the “what,” if a person understand the “how” of things, getting to the “what” of it may just be the next step.
(Another name what might help such an investigation, such a reading and exploration, might be David Deutsch.)
No holy work, or book, or term, or thinking is necessary. Any and all things human beings — some or a lot — deem to be “holy” or “sacred” or “divine” is NECESSARILY a delusion, a superstition, a willful ignorance, or a combination of all of the tree.
Infusing names of people, of the various “learned” people, into the discussion doesn’t change the reality of the gibberish and nonsensical discussion itself. What that has done, for the writer of the article and for his piece, is to INDICATE that he is using what’s called an “appeal to authority” writing format.



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MargaretE

posted July 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm


Well, Her Lao… I guess that’s settled, then. Imagine how silly we all feel.



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted July 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm


And it can only be given in Love.
I can see why having postulated an all-powerful Creator, one would like very much for that Being to be Omnibenevolent, or at least Benevolent towards People Like Us, but I don’t see that this is necessarily so.
Besides wanting very much for it to be so, what reason is there for attributing benevolence instead of indifference towards this Observer?
Perhaps Watching all of Creation is The Observer’s equivalent to me spending a Saturday afternoon watching Conway’s Life generate pretty patterns on a computer.



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Max Schadenfreude

posted July 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm


“I think this a good example science going where it is not supposed to go, not in a theological sense but in a sense of how can this be proven by experiment. It raises more doubts in my mind than answers.”
You mean like Darwinism?



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Hector

posted July 17, 2010 at 7:24 pm


John E,
Anselm’s ontological argument demonstrates the existence of a perfect being. Perfection implies moral perfection among other things, thus God must be perfectly good.
This is one of the reasons I find Anselm’s argument more compelling then the the argument from design, the cosmological argument, and so forth. If the ontological argument is true then it proves a lot more then, say, the argument from design: it proves a perfect being, among whose attributes is being perfectly good. (It even seems to me, in more contemplative moods, that one can come close to arriving at the doctrine of the Trinity from pure reason, starting from the premise that God is perfect).



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted July 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm


Hector, but being ‘Perfectly Good’ (whatever that means) does not necessarily mean that such a Being cares about you.



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metanous

posted July 17, 2010 at 8:31 pm


“This epistemology-soaked orgy ought to come to an end.” Albert Einstein
“But already my desire and my will
were being turned like a wheel, all at one speed,
by the Love which moves the sun and the other stars.” Dante



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MH

posted July 17, 2010 at 8:52 pm


Max, do you mean that the theory of evolution raises more doubts than it answers, or that evolution is outside the domain of science?
In my mind saying that X is the basis of reality seems in the domain of philosophy and not science. This is because it strikes me as a claim of ultimate knowledge which is not falsifiable and is outside the domain of science.



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted July 17, 2010 at 9:40 pm


I have this auditory imagining of a Valley Girl voice saying, “Of course a Perfectly Good Being would care about me because otherwise He wouldn’t be Perfectly Good.”
Surely that can’t be what Hector means.



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Broken Yogi

posted July 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm


ANother interesting article on Zellinger and the modern QM viewpoint called “the Reality Tests” is found here:
http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_reality_tests/?page=all&p=y
If someone was looking for experimental evidence for the kinds of things being talked about in Rod’s excert, this would be a good place to begin.
The basic inference from these experiments is that there really is no “objective reality”, but that even large objects only appear when we observe them, and not before.



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grendel

posted July 17, 2010 at 11:49 pm


it all sounds very much like Whitehead and his process philosophy — of course process philosophy spawned process theology, which surely must be up near the top of Dreher’s list of the most egregious errors of liberal theology.



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Impressivesort

posted July 18, 2010 at 12:36 am


The beginning of the gospel according to John (“In the beginning was the Word”) is not really correct.
Although that is the English transliteration, the Greek term “Logos” means something more like ‘thought expressed’, rather than merely word. Words can certainly be ‘thought expressed’, but that is not the full meaning of the term ‘Logos.’
Just saying . . .



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the stupid Chris

posted July 18, 2010 at 1:14 am


Rod,
I think you’ve inadvertently hit upon the problem with Morally Therapeutic Deism here.
Here’s the key: …first the freedom of the experimenter in choosing the measuring equipment – that depends on my freedom of will; and then the freedom of nature in giving me the answer it pleases. The one freedom conditions the other, so to speak.
MTD posits a world that swings on the axis of “good person,” in which all other considerations are irrelevancies by degrees.
But what if MTD is merely one of an infinite number of measuring tools, and that nature (or God) gives back first, only those answers that can be grasped by MTD and, second, only those answers that it pleases. In such a case the ability to be misled as to the import of one’s insights are infinite.
And this speaks directly to several of your recent posts, because (though you don’t necessarily say as much) your real problem seems to lie with the narrow-sightedness of those who claim to see more clearly than the Church.
Now you and I will disagree on the import of these discoveries, in that I’m just as likely to find the Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop Roger Mahoney as defective in the same way as the guy in the pews who has raised his conscience to the sine-qua-non of faith. But that’s a different issue entirely.
What if reality itself is not what humanity has every conceived it to be? What if we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the information that’s out there? “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
This would make communion far more important than dogma or doctrine, yet communion relies upon dogma and doctrine, and so one can only properly appreciate the complexity and randomness of the world if one is in proper communion with God.



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Jon

posted July 18, 2010 at 7:42 am


Re: This would make communion far more important than dogma or doctrine, yet communion relies upon dogma and doctrine
I’m not so sure about this. The Apostles were not trained theologians. They did not argue about Accidents and Essence. Yet the celebrated the Eucharist without the need to puzzle out its hows and wherefores. It was enough to believe in Christ and do as he bid.



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Hector

posted July 18, 2010 at 1:11 pm


Re: I have this auditory imagining of a Valley Girl voice saying, “Of course a Perfectly Good Being would care about me because otherwise He wouldn’t be Perfectly Good.”
Actually, John E, the Valley Girl is, in her witless and ditzy way, might be onto something.
Our intuitions tell us that love is good, and that hatred and indifference are bad. Human virtue finds its highest expression in the capacity to love, and to give of ourselves for another. If God is perfectly good, therefore it follows that he must be perfectly loving as well, and that means that his love must be total and unlimited. Not only does God care about us, but He also cares about all other conscious beings. If he didn’t care about us, then his love would be limited, which would make it not perfect, and that would mean that he wasn’t truly perfectly good.
As St. John says, God is love. From which we can probably derive the doctrine of the Trinity (since love requires an object).



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MargaretE

posted July 18, 2010 at 3:08 pm


Hector, I agree completely. C.S. Lewis writes about this SOMEWHERE, but for the life me I can’t find the passage. The basic premise is that if we concede that Man is at his very best when he is using his inspiration to create beauty, using his reason to improve his world, and – most importantly – loving his fellows selflessly and unconditionally… can we possibly imagine a “perfectly good being” who does NOT do those things? Can we really imagine a God whose character is somehow inferior to that of His creatures? The Valley Girl is definitely onto something.



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted July 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm


Hector, I’ll be the first to say that it would be a better Universe if you are right and I am wrong, but it seems to me that all you are doing is making assertions about how you think reality is based on how you would like it to be.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that…



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the stupid Chris

posted July 18, 2010 at 3:57 pm


Just finished reading Cloud Atlas a novel by David Mitchell.
Near the end of the book he has a character offer an observation which seems in keeping with the spirit of this thread:
My recent adventures have made me quite the philosopher, especially at night, when I hear naught but the stream grinding boulders into pebbles through and unhurried eternity. My thoughts flow this. Scholars discern motions in history & formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilizaitons. My belief runs contrary, however. To wit: history admits no rules; only outcomes.
What precipitates outcomes: Vicious acts & virtuous acts.
What precipitates acts? Belief.
Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind’s mirror, the world. If we believe humanity is a ladder of tribes, a colosseum of confrontation, exploitation & bestiality, such a humanity is surely brought into being, and history’s Horroxes, Boer-haaves & Gooses [nasty characters in the story] shall prevail. You & I, the moneyed, the privileged, the fortunate, shall not fare so badly in this world, provided our luck holds. What of it if our consciences itch? Why undermine the dominance of our race, our gunships, our heritage & our legacy? Why fight the “natural” (oh, weaselly word!) order of things?
Why, Because of this: – one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the Devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species selfishness is extinction.
Is this the doom written within our nature?
If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe divers races & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share their candlenut tree [a reference to a scene in the book], if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth and its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Torturous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president’s pen or a vainglorious general’s sword.
A life spent shaping a world I want Jackson [his son] to inherit, not one I fear Jackson shall inherit, this strikes me as a life worth the living. Upon my return to San Francisco, I shall pledge myself to the Abolitionist cause, because I owe my life to a self-freed slave [literally in the book] & because I must begin somewhere.
CAPTCHA: compensates Weimar fitting if you ask me.



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Mont D. Law

posted July 18, 2010 at 11:42 pm


You guys understand this is all abstract math. That these words are like the shadows on the wall of the cave – verbal interpretations of complex mathematical formulas describing various forces can only be interpreted but not understood.
This oral framing of math is surely none of many and until you devise experiments to confirm the math there’s no one here that can judge the correctness of this paradigm. In fact there are probably less then 1000 people who even understand the math.



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posted 10:00:56pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Why I became Orthodox
Wrapping up my four Beliefnet years, I was thinking about the posts that attracted the most attention and comment in that time. Without a doubt the most popular (in terms of attracting attention, not all of it admiring, to be sure) was the October 12, 2006, entry in which I revealed and explained wh

posted 9:46:58pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Modern Calvinists
Wow, they don't make Presbyterians like they used to!

posted 8:47:01pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

'Rape by deception'? Huh?
The BBC this morning reported on a bizarre case in Israel of an Arab man convicted of "rape by deception," because he'd led the Jewish woman with whom he'd had consensual sex to believe he was Jewish. Ha'aretz has the story here. Plainly it's a racist verdict, and a bizarre one -- but there's more t

posted 7:51:28pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »




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