AN INTERFACE BETWEEN SCIENCE AND GOD
Contemplating a Naturalistic “Process” Deity
By Robert DePaolo
In this article the notion that and science are mutually exclusive is called into question. A bridge-building concept of a creative, omni-influential template/regulator that transcends, yet sets parameters on the natural world is discussed as a “God-process.” This process is extended to include oversight of physical laws, biology and morality. It further proposes that the various versions of God developed over the course of human history might have been manifestly different ways of describing the same God-process.
The Universe – In the Beginning
Since the advent of science, arguably during Aristotle’s initial forays into empirical investigation, scientists have attempted to explain what created and/or led to the origin of the universe. In modern times, the question has been concerned more specifically with what took place at the precise the moment/event now referred to as the Big Bang.
The laws of physics seem to apply up to a few seconds before this event but as Rothman & Bough (2006) suggested, they seem to have been inapplicable prior to that point. To elaborate further: we know that gravity was responsible for the skewed distribution of gasses and matter into galaxies. It is well known that mass and energy are reciprocal forces and that time and space are in effect two sides of the same coin. We know that particles come together to build atoms and that atoms comprise the building blocks of matter. Unfortunately, at the moment of creation these phenomena become hard to explain through our present knowledge of the physical world.
Some of the contradictions are obvious. For example the explosion of the cosmic egg (the presumably pin-sized entity of nearly infinite mass and heat that gave rise to the universe) would have dispersed with such force as to preclude clusters of matter from congealing into galaxies, stars and planets. Gravity is a slow process and a rather weak force. (Trefil (1983) has suggested that it never could have kept pace with the outward movement of matter emanating from the big bang. Thus the question remains; how did galaxies systems form in the first place?
One possible answer, now accepted by many in the scientific community is that, rather than the space-warp process described by Einstein, gravity is a function of particle interactions that could have overridden universal expansion and galvanized celestial bodies and systems. That particle (which has not yet been observed) is called the graviton and it appears to operate as follows.
In the physical world there seems to be a correlation between the mass of a particle and the distance over which it can exert influence. More massive particles seem capable of operating only across small distances (such as occurs with the strong force, which binds the nuclei of atoms). Less massive particles can interact over longer distances. The graviton is assumed to be without mass, thus there would ostensibly be no limit on its capacity to interact with objects, regardless the distance involved. In that context, gravity did not have to win the race with cosmic expansion. It could comfortably sit by, and as the universe began to stabilize, gravitons could have reach out to its various debris clusters and produced attractions that led to the formation of galaxies
Another massless particle, the photon operates in similar fashion. Yet massless particles don’t so much collide with other forms of matter as penetrate or bend around them “ghost-like.” which minimizes any sort of “blockage” or material hindrance that might otherwise slow them down.
That graviton explanation is symmetrical but in some ways problematic. For one thing, some scientists (refer back to Rothman and Bough) believe it is virtually impossible to even detect a graviton. In addition, while being without mass enables a particle to interact over great distances, its interactive effect would seem to be minimized. The very same quality that provides it with such immunity to material restraints would conceivably diminish its own material influence on other objects. In other words, massless particles operate by the not-so-scientific maxim that you can‘t have your cake and eat it too. Furthermore, a massless particle would have much less capacity for energy conversion, as per Einstein’s famous equation. The question is; how much energy would it take for a graviton interacting with other objects, to bring them together in a glue-like attraction?
Gravity is a relatively weak force that somehow must pull rather massive celestial bodies into alignment via its interactions with them. Thus while graviton theory complements or (depending on one’s view) contradicts Einstein’s notion of gravity as a warp in the fabric of space it might also have its shortcomings.
Other questions have to do with the phenomena of space, time, matter and energy. In the intensely hot cosmic egg atoms could not have formed – or at least endured. Any particle combines would have undergone severe collisions within the very small space in the egg and been torn apart immediately. Thus the amount of matter in the egg was fleeting and minimal. In addition, the cosmic egg was so compressed that there was almost no space within which particles could have interacted with one another systemically, let alone come together to form nuclei and atoms. Since space correlates with time as per Special Relativity Theory, it is conceivable that the question of when the universe actually begancannot be answered – bearing in mind that the cosmic egg did not explode into something. Rather it became something as it exploded. What “surrounded” it prior to the big bang? Nothing. Not even a void. That in itself raises interesting questions about the flow of energy. Certainly if there was an area, say a vacuum that existed apart from the proto-universal material, that could explain why the energy created by the big bang dispersed with such force. The law of energy conservation holds that the flow of energy tends to proceed from a high density domain into a vacuum. On the other hand, physicists have long maintained that there wasn’t even a void and that the proto universe (cosmic egg) is all there was.
As a result the cosmic egg could be described as essentially nothing (Kaku, 2009) or perhaps more accurately as nothing but entropy. It would have had little or no mass differentials despite being (oddly) massive itself. Moreover, no systemic structures, interactions or communications could have occurred in such a rapid, random milieu. Thus it appears that prior to the Big Bang, the proto-universe was predominantly a uniform blend of plasma.
Even more interesting is that since, as Einstein demonstrated, time and space are interrelated, the idea of a “moment” of creation or of any sort of temporal transitions within the cosmic egg prior to the big bang could be called into question. With virtually no space or sphere in which entities could travel, and with perhaps all of its components whirling around at the speed of light it is conceivable that time did not exist within the domain of the cosmic egg. The question is, can an event occur in the absence of time, and if not, is it possible that a metaphysical factor played a role?
Information, Entropy, Existence
Entropy is defined as a monotonous state, whereby everything blends into everything else in a kind of nonfunctional uniformity. It pertains to both communications and energy dynamics and is applicable to phenomena ranging from grammatical language to nucleo-synthesis. Without separate entities or distinctions no linear, dynamic, servo-mechanical or homeostatic systems can exist. In such a state no communication is possible because sending a message (whether in the form of human communication or object interactions) requires at least three separate conditions. There must be a sender, a receiver absorbing and/or reacting to the message, and on some level the message must be coherent or systemic. Entropy precludes those possibilities.
Thus the cosmic egg was a singularity, therefore unlawful and un-coded functionally or structurally, whereas the present universe derives its laws and functions, shapes and forces from differences in mass, force, charge and spin. In simpler terms, the universe as we know it, including all the flora, fauna, and natural phenomena might have developed from a topography of differentials. First components separated, then they were able to interact. Then their differences led to attractions, assimilations, systemic structures and organized complexity. Thus to truly comprehend the universe seems to require addressing two questions: First how it originated. Second how it became intra-distinctive, interactive and systemic. The assumption here is that since physics can’t take us back to the moment of creation that its origin might have had something to do with an increase in its information content.
Information is not material. It is ultimately an abstraction; not quite spiritual in the classical sense but certainly transcendent, omni-present and prerequisite to existence. In that context, the most fundamental catalyst of universal origin might have not physical but metaphysical- in the form of an information algorithm.
As a test of that assumption one could employ the criteria typically used in establishing deterministic relationships within the natural world, specifically by asking; whether a variable is necessary to create causation and whether it is sufficient to create causation. The argument here is that since the universe could not have emerged or systematized without breaking out of a state of entropy, forces, mass and other material/energetic phenomena were, while necessary, not sufficient to bring about universal expansion and systemization.
More to the point, when something is in a state of entropy it has only a non systemic blend. To the extent that distinctions make up reality it is a state of nothingness – a mere potential. Thus an informed system can be said to be alive, an entropic one, dead. By the same token information comprises something. It is synonymous with existence and with creation. That is why it might be possible to speculate about an interface between God and nature.
An Integrative Postulate
If one wished to integrate religion and science Information Theory might provide an encompassing frame of reference. This is for several reasons. First information is not be material but it can be quantified by tallying all possible elements in a proto system and calculating how much uncertainty is “resolved” by eliminating its component parts from consideration.
On the other hand, because information is relational rather than material it requires no physical origin, thus obviating the need to challenge it with the First Cause argument. Yet information also has an essence. It is not merely a transition from uniformity to codification. It has parameters, and while infinitely influential it is not infinite in itself. For example if uniformity prevails for too long or too great an extent it can reach a state of entropy – also referred as decay. The most obvious example is the death of an organism, at which point the differing organic functions that collectively comprise homeostasis flatten out, blend in dysfunctionally and then cease to interact with one another. But entropy pertains to everything in the physical universe. It can also be applied to cognition, language and moral precepts. For example, a periodic influx of new phrases, idioms, forms and habits is needed to keep culture vibrant. Thus language, art, music and literature would appear to unfold according to an information/entropy model.
On the other hand, if the deviations from uniformity are supra systemic – that is, diverge so much that the original system is undone then divergence becomes chaotic. In that context the information based God-process could be defined in terms of the following sequence…
A. There is an initial state of uniformity or randomness referred to variously as entropy, uncertainty or “noise.”
B. Changes in the system in the form of codes are introduced and increase the probability that the entity will break out of a state of entropy.
C. As the codes begin to interact a new, coherent system is produced.
D. Even if the new format is systematic and coherent, new codes must be introduced on an ongoing basis to prevent entropy within that system.
E. If subsequent code changes are system-congruent, i.e. not so deviant as to disrupt the system, the system will remain intact.
F. If new codes are so incongruent with the existing system as to threaten its integrity, the system will proceed toward entropy.
This can apply to morals as well and would imply that system-friendly change is a manifestation of both information content and morality whereas chaotic change is neither.
This paradigm has precedent. It bears similarity to Aristotle’s moral concept of the Golden Mean. It coincides with the second law of thermodynamics. It can be applied to liberal and conservative politics and Constitutional law – the latter of which has a foundation but can be amended from time to time within its own framework. It drives the functions of the human brain (in fact all brains), which operate by the dual processes of memory and curiosity, or what Piaget referred to as schemata and disequilibrium. It encompasses the physical, social, behavioral, moral, existential and artistic aspects of the universe It applies to the ways in which generations of people interact with one another. It can even pertain to the ongoing challenge within religions to incorporate cultural changes into doctrine (as occurred during the Ecumenical Council of 1962) without abandoning the basic tenets of faith. As Heinz Pagels (1982) has written, the universe is essentially an information system driven by communicative interactions and systemic integrity – whether in the form of grammatical speech, gene interactions or the attractions created by electrical charges in particles.
The Concept of a Creator
By employing the above argument, one can conceive of a God-process with regulatory capacities that is not strictly a physical phenomenon, nor a material entity. Its breadth is universal. Indeed it is pan-applicable in ways that a physical GUT (grand unified theory) is not – the latter would not necessarily apply to biological or moral-behavioral considerations. While it can never be viewed as a God personified, it can be seen as a metaphysical entropy/systemic encoding process that pervades all of nature. It could be said to have its own Genesis; not in the sense of Lucifer’s expulsion, the division between heaven and hell or Adam and Eve’s demotion from magistrate to mere member of the animal kingdom (a strangely Darwinian notion). Rather it would be conceived as a kind of “moral trinity” in which entropy, systemic development and continuous encoding represent a moral structure imbedded within information parameters. This hypothetical entity can be presumed to have existed before time itself, providing a constant template for intelligence, beauty, morality and creation.
Yet that doesn’t completely answer the question of what constitutes the God-process. The next question involves building a conceptual bridge between the concept of God and Information principles. It is a rather difficult task, despite Heisenberg’s grand description of Information Theory as the theory that decides. However it is conceptually possible.
One can look at God from various perspectives. Three have been chosen here for the sake of convenience. The omni-religious view holds that God is the same for all creatures (particularly mankind) yet has been worshipped and described in different ways by various cultures over time. Therefore while he/she/it might exist, God’s real identity has not yet been determined. In that context, all worshippers up to thi point would have to be viewed as blind men groping the elephant.
The homocentric (atheistic) view holds that God is a creation of man, that he doesn’t exist, rather was conjured up to fill in knowledge gaps and unexplained phenomena prior to the advent of the scientific method. Those who adhere to this belief (or non belief) maintain that because man has described God in various ways over time proves the notion of a deity emanated from the minds of men and is not real.
A third way of conceptualizing God is the derivative view, which will be employed here and can be referenced in the writing of Karen Armstrong, holds that a fundamental process governs all things in the universe and that creatures who evolved in that universe (particularly those of us capable of pondering the nature of the universe) have brains that operate according to the same process that created and governs that universe. In other words, whatever causative trends led to the advent of universal structures and functions also led to the advent of brain and mind. To the extent that a God-process exists in nature we are both derived from it and prone to operating within its parameters. It is real. Therefore we try to discover its true essence and meaning.
The derivative view is a “trickle down” concept, essentially stating that just as our physiology is made up of cosmic chemical properties so do human, language, emotion and cognition derive from the process that led to the existence of everything else in the universe. In effect we are boxed inside of an information paradigm; programmed to mimic the functions of the universe; our neurons, instincts and DNA-driven emotional, cognitive and behavioral proclivities isotropic with the world around us.
The Question of Moral Substance
It is one thing to assert that Homo sapiens has a predisposition toward thinking in religious terms, quite another trying to explain why the moral principles handed down by prophets and clerics are what they are. Therefore the question needs to be asked as to how Information principles pertain to moral principles.
A first place to start might be with the nature of information itself. While, as discussed above it can be measured in “bits” – referring to the degree to which uncertainty is reduced, it has implications that go beyond that. Information is both quantifiable and relativistic. It cannot stand on its own, nor emerge independently. In order for it to arise requires that is be emerge from uncertainty. That would imply that morality must be extracted from entropy, ie immorality, and that both are dependent variables that together comprise a universal constant. Not a singular entity or law but a kind of “transcendent sequence” If one were to construct a parable or psalm in that context, it might read as follows…
● Life both in terms of organic structure and the survival instinct depends on death (here the writer must credit the Hindu religion).
● Curiosity, growth and development depend on antecedent boredom.
● Enthusiasm depends on prior passivity.
● Success and resolution depend on prior failure and confusion.
● Love and other social-affliliative needs depend on prior isolation/separation, and/or the search for identity
● Creativity and other individualistic experiences depend on prior self doubt and/or immersion into social uniformity.
In that sense information is not just mathematical and metaphysical. It is also a dialectic. Thus the God-process could be conceived as a questioning, rather than dogmatic entity deferring to free will and enabling people to make their own decisions without need of divine guidance at every turn. As the 18th century Deists believed, God sets the table but it is man who dines, either to his benefit or to his peril.
The doctrine would also espouse that to thrive, creatures need to override entropy by introducing system-friendly newness or codes that alter but don’t destroy the system. Thus an information God-process could assimilate modifications in doctrine – in fact would require them as long as the main aspects of morality remained intact. This model is reminiscent of Jesus’ rebellious assertion that “The Sabbath is made for men” while holding constant the importance of the First Commandment. It is also reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson’s assertion that ongoing generational change in necessary in a democracy.
The dual theme inherent in this doctrine (hesitate to call it a commandment) would entail on one hand, abstaining from extremes in behavior that tend to destroy existing, stable systems (a tenet analogous to the legal definition of a crime as an act so heinous as to disrupt the society) and on the other hand abstaining from sloth, apathy and ignorance that might lead to entropy and dissolution of the system. Yet it would also include forgiveness, since entropy, or immorality can be a temporary state of decay setting the stage for subsequent good works.
According to this paradigm truth and morality can only emerge from the social entropy arising from falsehood and immorality. In that sense, while immoral behavior is entropic it has an ultimate moral purpose – as a seedbed from which morality can grow. That would provide a quasi-explanation as to why God is said to “act in mysterious ways.”
This is not to imply that an information-based God-process proves the existence of heaven and hell. It is to say that moral polarities are
A. Part of the foundation of all faiths,
B. Inherent in the human thought process
C. Universal phenomenon typified by sequences of sameness and distinction – or information vs. entropy.
As for the relevance of this paradigm to specific moral principles, consider the following.
The propensity for caring behavior is common to many organisms. The usual argument holds that such behavior has evolutionary value, that taking care of one’s fellow “creature” results in more members of the species living longer and producing more offspring so that the genetic line will continue. At face value that notion makes sense. Yet it also invites contradictions. For example if altruism is grounded in a survive/propagate mandate, what can one say about the human tendency to care for those outside of the species, or for those members of our own species who won’t propagate? The human tendency toward compassion is not designed to protect the fittest among us and never has been.
If morality transcends evolutionary practicality, then how can it be defined? One way is through information dynamics. In that context the explanation of altruism would be that since the relationship between entropy and encoding created and drives the universe, it also drives the human thought processes. In moral terms, we fluctuate between uniformity and individuation in our concerns. If a pet is injured we care for it, not because we need to see its genes propagated – in fact many caring pet owners, have their animals spayed. It is either because the pet is ours, or because pets per se have some common connection to collective human experience. The pet is systemic with respect to our beliefs and emotions.
Conversely, the more detached a person is from a group or its belief system, the less likely it is that altruistic behavior will occur. For example the sociopath can kill without conscience, not just because he is more aggressive than others, but also because his world view and sense of self are typically more detached from society than others. Existential remoteness can be called the real antecedent in such horrendous behavior. His marginal beliefs and behaviors undo the system, therefore can be defined as chaotic as well as criminal.
Yet sameness is, while ultimately entropic, also a grounding force. We resort to structure and uniformity because it is prerequisite to information attainment. But the process doesn’t end there. As a state of increasing uniformity approaches the entropy threshold, the switch is flipped – just as it was in the big bang. Now uniqueness is required. At that point people are torn between wanting to be moral (in a socially acceptable context) and wanting to be distinct.
The need for distinction can have both positive and negative implications. System-friendly distinction is typically seen as creative. System-incongruent distinctions are considered deviant.
This trend has played a role in history. In the ancient world of the Middle East (when religion was paramount in the lives of the inhabitants) tribal sameness was important – Egyptian nobles often married their siblings to preclude outsiders from infiltrating the family line. On the other hand the discovery of agriculture attracted diverse tribes to fertile areas surrounded by bodies of water. That meant strangers had to learn to live together. In some instances those differences led to war. However once it became clear that large armies were needed to secure land and nationhood, integration became a more accepted practice. At that point, despite cultural, religious and political tensions strangers became necessary. Then alienation converted to assimilation, ie immigrants operating and cooperating within the systemic functions of the society.
It wasn’t easy. Since social-familial estrangement raises the likelihood of antisocial behavior, laws had to be created, the first of which were probably written by the Babylonian king Hammurabi. Then religious documents were developed, many dealing with the dual moral tenets of tribal preservation (sectarianism) and stranger-assimilation. For example Moses was an Egyptian who became the Hebrew God’s spokesman. In later times Jesus on one hand distinguishing between the Romans and Jews through his statement, render unto Caesar with is Caesar’s, render unto God what is God’s, yet also professed that no man hath greater faith than a Roman centurion. As a result, new codes, in the form of linguistic, ethnic, religious and racial assimilations occurred. Human society then had its own big bang; in which new ideas emanating from supra-tribal distinctions led to the rise of advanced political, artistic and religious systems.
In that instance the inexorable shift from uniformity to encoding was helpful and positive. Indeed we owe our cultural existence to that extraction process. On the other hand the same process has had negative implications at times. People who feel boxed in by the sameness of the group will often rebel and exhibit para-social or even antisocial behaviors due to a universally derived need to encode themselves. We saw this during the 50s in the USA…In more modern times it has emerged with the gang-banger, who has the best of both informational worlds. On one hand he shares a sameness within a group, On the other hand his need for distinction is met by the fact that his group operates outside the norms of society. We also see it in the arts, whereby persons base their craft on prior successful models – in music, the theater, literature – then feel compelled to deviate from the early models (sometimes creatively, occasionally with disastrous results).
While that might explain the need to both affiliate with and separate from the group; a process which has arguably been responsible for inventions, acts of compassion as well as sociopathy and war throughout history, it does not explain why, particularly with regard to the emotional/motivational aspects of moral and immoral behavior. For that we must discuss the driving force of human motivation, both in terms of moral and immoral behavior.
Pleasure and Energy
Despite its dubious reputation, pleasure plays a very distinctive role in morality. While one typically equates words like sacrifice and giving with morality, all religions seem to include some reward system for good deeds. Whether it be adhering to the first commandment in return for which the Hebrews entered a land of milk and honey, giving up one’s material acquisitions in order to be received in paradise, or, with regard to early Visigoth beliefs, adopting the life and mentality of a warrior in order to enter the kingdom of Valhalla, all faiths offer promises of pleasure.
This holds true in modern times. When we give to charity or engage in a compassionate gesture a response occurs within our cognitive (cortical) and emotional (limbic) circuits that registers what is called a pleasure response. Pleasure is actually felt at the limbic rather than the cortical level but as neuroscientists have demonstrated, when a rise and sudden drop in brain and somatic arousal levels occurs (in information terms it is an abrupt neural transition from uncertainty to resolution known as an arousal jag) it is registered and perceived as pleasurable regardless of the site of the arousal jag. Thus pleasure is a function of information dynamics – a kind of neurological version of uncertainty reduction.
That is why sex (which involves neuro-humoral arousal followed by rapid resolution) feels so good. It is why intellectual resolution – the so-called “aha experience” feels good, and why musicians playing through the rough spots, “find their groove” as discord transforms into tight harmony. It is also why some people derive pleasure from pain. To the extent that they can control the duration of the pain-inducing arousal and bring on resolution they are in effect both pleasing and informing themselves.
(Benson, Dusek and Sherwood (2006) have shown that prayer provides similar benefits. Prayer is often preceded by uncertainty. We ask God’s help in the aftermath of stressful events. In such circumstances praying gives us a sense of control, a perception that we no longer have to be burdened with duress, instead can transfer the burden to a higher power. Or perhaps in church we feel the uncertainty of our own moral shortcomings and prayer resolves that uncertainty, e.g. dutifulness cancels out doubt.
It could be said that the relationship between information and pleasure is analogous to that between space and time, or matter and energy in that one begets the other. So once again there is a permeable effect on all natural phenomena and experience encompassed in a single process.
Despite being unorthodox this is not an original idea. Thinkers as far back as the fourth century reached similar conclusions regarding the essence of pleasure, particularly as pertains to esthetics. St. Augustine defined beauty as a shifting combination of synthesis and divergence. DeCartes defined esthetics as a stimulus complex that “neither bores nor fatigues.”
The Self as a Code
Another example of the applicability of information principles to faith and morality can be seen in the relationship between the self and the group. Self concern and its various byproducts such as pride, arrogance and (in more positive terms) self examination, achievement and self improvement adheres to an information paradigm. It can comprise an encoding process. For example, in child development one needs to come to understand, judge and guide oneself with regard to restraint, risk taking and group affiliations. It can wax entropic if excessive and if it leads to detachment from the outside world. Thus the information-based, moral factors inherent in self concern would be apportioned in a way similar to the Self Concept theories discussed by Alfred Adler and Carl Rogers. Self concern as it entails cultivation of individual interests and achievement can benefit the group. Indeed if not for that human creativity would be much less prevalent. On the other hand too much self concern creates noise, preventing the person from interacting morally with the outside world.
Since information dynamics entail the need for uniformity (but not to the point of entropy) and for encoding (but not to the point of chaos) the information/morality model is based on proportion. Arguably, all moral and religious belief systems are as well. Its reliance on proportionality makes it ideal for debate and argument.
As stated earlier, both information and morality are dialectic processes. Thus the model espoused by St. Thomas Aquinas who, rather than denying the empirical movement of their time, attempted to address and to an extent incorporate it into his concept of faith might be an ideal combine for the paradigm described here.
Echoes of a God-process
If, as stated earlier, there is a derivative universal thread running through all of nature and all of mind in the form of a creative, omnipresent, non material process one would expect it to have been referenced (even if unwittingly) in early religious texts. Since the Old Testament provided a basic frame of reference for Judaism, Christianity and Islam and employs images and concepts similar to early Sumerian lore it can serve as a pivot point in discussing the human religious legacy in the broadest of terms.
The commandments and laws included in Genesis and Deuteronymy can be said to be info-consonant. For example the rules on food preparation, rituals, language (Hebrews spoke Aramaic in the marketplace but only in Hebrew in religious settings) can be said to espouse tribal uniformity. The commandments provide stability in that respect. Honoring one’s parents, abstaining from hurting or bearing false witness against one’s neighbor are actions that sustain the group. On the other hand group stability can become rigidly parochial and entropic so that a prophet like John and a messiah like Jesus might see a need to make revisions – even if these revisions were new takes on old Testament themes.
Even prior to the Common Era, the story of Abraham’s search for his God was replete with the uniformity/distinction duality. Since Sarah (a Hebrew Semite) could not bear him children, Abraham turned to Hagar, who was an Egyptian maid (a deviation in both ethnicity and class). The child she bore, Ishmael became the father of the Islamic faith. Abraham agonized over this potentially divisive situation – particularly in response to Sara’s resentment. Yet God told him to accept Ishmael, presaging that he would one day become leader of a great faith.
In that biblical episode there is a clear duality depicted in the form of integration vs diversity. Abraham’s God evidently decided an encoding process, the integration of an Egyptian maid and her son into the Abrahamic family of man was appropriate. The fact that Islamic leaders broke free of Jewish doctrine in the eighth century (despite retaining many of the same prophets) speaks to the fact that Mohamet and by extension Allah decided the Judeo-Christian influence was too uniform. Islam needed its own identity. Thus Islamic worshippers held the system intact while introducing newness. It represented both the beginning of a new religion and an increase in information.
In the modern world the dual themes of integration and segregation have obviously been paramount as well. Indeed much of American history played out in that context. Thus information processes seem to have guided and prompted the behavior and morals of man, and for that matter history itself. For example, Hegel’s concept of thesis, synthesis, antithesis is a virtual restatement of Information Theory.
Point – Counterpoint
In developing this article the writer anticipated counter-arguments (which incidentally would be well appreciated). One such argument might be posed by adherents to a theory known as evolutionary psychology. This field of study emphasizes genetic factors as determinants or moral, immoral, opportunistic and cooperative behavior. In contemplating a pre-emptive response to the EP argument, it occurred to this writer that the genetic code is itself an information system. For example, while there are roughly 20,000 protein-inducing genes in the human body only four chemicals are used to produce them all. Adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine form the uniform base for all evolutionary transformations. Similarly, life itself has a carbon base; carbon being a very pliable compound to which various molecules can attach and evolve. Thus the organic world operates according to systems and codes. Just as the Big Bang could not have ensued without a code emerging from entropy, neither could life have evolved without variations on its carbon-based, four-part, relatively uniform biological template. That doesn’t entirely close out the EP argument but perhaps provides a context in which it can be incorporated into an information-based explanation of moral behavior.
Musings On Doctrine
For the sake of argument, consider the following. To wit:
If this concept of a god process were ever adopted by some fringe group of believers in search of a dialectic, information-based moral system, what might their doctrine look like? Let’s presume they might begin by first by defining what is meant by “God.”
In this paradigm God might be described as a process or monolaw that does not actively create things, but provides a foundation of existence by which everything can come into being. (This too is analogous to the Deist concept of the Lord).
God would be conceived as omni-present, ie. operative in all that transpires in the physical, mental and moral world.
God would be not dogmatic but dialectic, favoring ongoing encoding to change and reenergize systems without undoing their integrity. This could pertain to molecular configurations, works of art, politics and all of human experience.
The prime mandate (dare I say commandment) might involve the need to inform and energize the people and milieu in one’s life and avoid lapsing into extreme deviance, apathy, sloth or chaotic behaviors that destroy existing systems. (Socrates said it better)
This God-process would favor productivity, intellectual, artistic and creative pursuits and would not distinguish between goodness and achievement, between honor and commitment, between discovery and virtue.
The concept of sin might not be terribly different from that in most modern religions. Sloth, extreme self concern featuring excessive pride and arrogance, socially marginal system-destroying behaviors, acts that undo the family (nothing wrong with seeking an identity outside of it, as long as the family system is not unraveled) would all be viewed as transgressions.
In addition to prayer the doctrine might advocate the use of reason (perhaps combining the two) as a means of determining how much risk taking, creative adventurousness, proportionate individuation, and system-friendly revolutions in science, the arts, education and love are acceptable and in accord with the God-process.
The one flaw in this hypothetical religion (hopefully the reader can appreciate that it is conjured up merely for the sake of argument and not to actually create a new movement) is its lack of a figurehead like Yawveh, Jesus or Buddha. Such figures give form and substance to religious systems. On the other hand the earliest religions, including Judaism avoided physical descriptions of God, because it was felt that providing him with a physical presence might limit his scope of influence. Thus one might argue that the personification of God is as theosophically reductionistic as a purely physical model of the universe. In that sense the notion of an Information-based God-process might be, at the very least counter-entropic.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
On physics and the Big Bang... Cosmic Vision article (Feb 2006) asserted that one of the biggest challenges to physicists is that the current laws do not apply at the extremely high temperatures that existed in the cosmic egg
On graviton theory,,, Rothman & Bough proposed that under most conditions it would be impossible to detect a graviton. In General Relativity & Quantum Cosmology (2006)
On the cosmic egg as a state of entropy or nothingness… Michio Kaku of New York City University has raised the possibility that the universe might have emerged from nothing with no matter, spin, charge or energy.
On entropy and information as applied to communications and physics… In 1948 Claude Shannon described information as a process in which a message is chosen from a previously random set of circumstances. In Science Dictionary, entropy is defined in the physical sense as a measure of unavailable energy to do work as a result of a random, unstructured configuration.On Einstein’s concept of space and time… Article in Gravity Probe B, Testing Einstein’s Universe, 2009, states with regard to Special Relativity Theory that “since physical laws and the speed of light must be the same for uniformly moving observers that space and time cannot be independent. They are converted into each other in a way that keeps the speed of light constant.”
On Karen Armstrong reference on the universal belief in God Armstrong, K (2009) The Case for God, Alfred Knopf
On James Trefil and massless particle collisions: Trefil, J. (1983) The Moment of Creation; Big Bang Physics from Before the First Millisecond to the Present Universe
On Jesus and the Sabbath : Mark 2:27
On Jesus and the First Commandment: Mark 12:28-34
On Ishmael…Genesis 21: 2-3
On Evolutionary Psychology and Altruism…Joyce, R (2006) The Evolution of Morality (Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology. Cambridge, Mass The MIT Press
On Egyptian sibling marriage. All rulers after Ptolemy II married their siblings to ensure and strengthen the line of succession.
On prayer and pleasure benefit… Benson,H Dusek, JA & Sherwood, JB (2006) Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: A multi-center randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving Intercessory Prayer. American Heart Journal 151:934-942