Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is the Whole World Just a Code?


"I might be, just a lil' bit crazy, but I'm ok with that."

- c emerson said that.

"Want some whiskey in your water? Sugar in your tea?
What's all these crazy questions' they're askin' me?
This is the craziest party that could ever be
Don't turn on the lights 'cause I don't wanna see.

Mama told me not to come
Mama told me not to come
... That ain't the way to have fun, son."
(Sing365.com - Three Dog Night version, 1970)

Those few who knew me in the day, knew me as something of a genius crazy ... Today, I'm just a half-hippie and a part-time biker, looking for a few answers and a good beer. I still get most of my answers from music, and from literature, but I thought I would give philosophy another chance.

Tires on the pavement ... Danica Patrick in pole position ... it's not what you think ... it's what you know ... first impresssions are so often wrong ... So: Is the whole world just some kind of code?

Over on Feser's blog, as comments were winding down on Prof Feser's Craig versus Rosenburg post,

Alan said this:
"As another stone for the sarcophagus of determinism or gnu style scientism, a physicist has now demonstrated Aristotelian-Thomistic First Cause - he ... demonstrates mathematically though quite unintentionally, that it is impossible to reduce intentionality from the universe at the very basic quantum level ...", referring to and citing a paper by Jae-Weon Lee - Physics from Information - arxiv.org/pdf/1011.1657v2.pdf.

I saw Alan's comment, and responded: "If the mathematics were to so demonstrate, wouldn't that support panpsychism as much, or even more, than Aristotelian-Thomist theism?"

Alan next: "I would not say that - I would not see it as having a 'mental' aspect but a purpose-built character. As a logic circuit or printed circuit board. The 'information equations' he is using represent the signature of a cell phone or radio transmission. There is no awareness in the broadcast but there is information which the receiver is required to decode."

Then me: "Your post evokes the following thought: I wonder, if all humans saw everything in just grey and white shades, or perhaps better, in just shades of green and black (the Matrix effect), would we be more likely to see the universe as coded?"

Alan brought his response to my blog as a comment under my previous post, The World's a Big Place.  He asked me if I hated mankind and wished us all punished (tongue-in-cheek I believe), from which I gathered Alan likes it that humans see in such a multitudinous array of colors. So do I, actually, but that's a story for another time.

Alan said: "I was thinking (with my original post) more along the lines of the patterns of structure ... A universe full of bosons and fermions would be like a giant sand box save for the 'structure; of quantum mechanics. And, it turns out, that structure can be modeled by the same mathematics that turn a sine wave into a phone call! As if 'The Word of God' turns a gazillion dots of stuff into the structure of the universe."

I brought up the word, Logos, which can mean word, reason, explanation, as well as a divine creating force. Presocratic sources here. And I suggested what's needed is the physical, as well as metaphysical, if any, organizing principles.

Alan responded that his "pattern-recognizing neurons" jumped straight away to the three thousand year old wisdom "that word, reason and divine creating forces were intertwined. Science confirming philosophy."

Let me say that I agree that word, reason and the notion of divine-creating-forces are interwined. But I am not sure that science has confirmed philosophy. I have not, however, read Jae-Weon Lee's paper. It will be a pleasure to read it.

I am confident, anyway, as to at least one point: that both science and philosophy have to do with what's out there, and how we know what's out there.

That may seem overly simplistic, even "uninteresting", as is sometimes said of simple statements. But then, again, I'm just crazy enough to be cautious.

I see, as I am getting ready to post this, that TxLostWolf and Alan have both posted additional comments on The World's a Big Place.  I will ask them to post future comments under this OP, which will hopefully evoke even more thoughts, and will maintain a title appropriate to the debate. (And I will take the liberty of copying over the last several comments).

Thanks, Alan and TxLostWolf, hope you both stick around.  If no further comments come, that's fine, too. I have a refrigerator full of beer.


Alan said...

(Comment moved by OP author)
I was thinking (with my original post) more along the lines of the patterns of structure. On a beach or in a box, sand is like so much noise. But if you process that sand into glass or fiberglass you can build or create all manner of things. Because in linking the silica molecules you get structure from former loose grains. A universe full of bosons and fermions would be like a giant sand box save for the ‘structure’ of quantum mechanics. And, it turns out, that structure can be modeled by the same mathematics that turn a sine wave into a phone call! As if ‘The Word of God’ turns a gazillion dots of stuff into the structure of the universe. Noise and random impacts an idea and takes shape

c emerson said...

(Comment moved by OP author)
Ty, as to the blog title.
Logos: can mean word, reason, explanation, as well as a divine creating force. Presocratic sources here such as Heraclitus. A bit premature for me, of course, but very interesting.

What's needed is the physical (as well as metaphysical, if any) organizing principle(s). That is, as you suggest, the process that turns sand into glass.

And, as you can tell, I like sand.

Alan said...

(Comment moved by OP author)
I did not want another lemon war on Feser’s lawn, so when I saw the title of your blog it was clear where this discourse belonged. A colleague of mine knows J. W. Lee and was peer-reviewing the original draft before submission. He shared it with me and my pattern-recognizing neurons jumped straight to that three thousand year old wisdom that word, reason and divine creating forces were intertwined. Science confirming philosophy.

To discern organizing principals was perhaps my (just previously) unrecognized goal – I saw this as premature for science and am attempting to throw it back to philosophy to get a start.

TxLostWolf said...

(Comment moved by OP author)
Meteor impact or volcanic eruption both provide sufficient heat to turn sand to glass so externalities are involved in that process. Certain crystaline structures are self-organized and could be said to be self-creating in a sense.

I think to prove the devine will take more. I am not trying in any way to be flippant here. I think we are trying to define what , in meditation, is sometimes called the space between thoughts. This precursor might be likened to the prime mover.

Btw I agree "thoughts are physical" as proof they effect the physical world.

Ty for your time.


Alan said...

(Comment moved by OP Author)
Apologize not sir Tx. It was I being flippant and deliberately provocative intoning proof where only correlation was demonstrated. The paper I was referring to is:

Jae-Weon Lee ‘Physics from information’

From the Abstract: ‘… one can find that basic physical laws such as Newton’s second law and Einstein’s equation simply describe the energy-information relation (dE=TdS) for matter or space time crossing causal horizons.’

From the Introduction: ‘In this paper, based on these works, it is suggested that major physics such as quantum mechanics, Einstein gravity and Newton’s mechanics are simply describing information processing at causal horizons.’

In short, ‘information’ appears coded into matter to build such things as electrons and protons (defined in quantum mechanics) and continues through solar systems (General Relativity). Crystals lie between – with their own structures.

Alan said...

And I thank you, Mr. OP Author, for your patience and audience. Further, I would prescribe two of those beers to lubricate those ol’ neurons affore tackling Lee. I’ll need them if not you.

The problem I see (to jump back to near the beginning) with one’s and zero’s is that they are so one dimensional when the world and our experience have so many. There are the four of time and space but added to that those of our senses and sensibilities. A great range of textures for our tactile, aromas for our olfactory, sounds of nature and songs … emotions of friends, family and foe. Each with their own codes of infinite complexity. These codes, these patterns translate far better to our neurons than do one’s and zero’s. The many colors of nature do not ‘hide’ the code, they are a part of it! And I mean that very literally – and with our new instruments, we can now detect and represent (and begin to decode) light, sounds and shapes our human senses could never detect.

c emerson said...

So much for my desire to make complicated ideas simple. Thanks a lot, Alan and Tx.

Basically, the laws of thermodynamics describe nature's little tendency to move naturally towards disorder (entropy: boiling hot water molecules will most likely spread out across a room rather than congregating on their own under the sofa) -- unless something acts to counteract this tendency (a top on the pot will do nicely) - while the information of a system relates to the amount of data needed to describe or specify the system, and is proportional to the entropy of the system. See here.

Now I have nearly expended my current knowledge base re entropy & information (before digging into some old books at the back of my closet). Here is what I think is one of the key sources of this hot new notion that physics is derived from information (that is, from change in entropy): On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton, by Erik Verlinde,

-- http://arxiv.org/pdf/1001.0785v1.pdf.

See also this NY Times article.

I am not sure how this gets us any closer to intentionality in nature. Water will still run down hill, unless someone ports it back up the hill. Cheers. (I see Alan has posted, but what I just wrote may not apply).

c emerson said...

> The many colors of nature do not ‘hide’ the code, they are a part of it!

Yes, I agree with that. And I definitely agree that our neurons (so to speak) are so structured as to recognize, analyze and respond to all those myriads of patterns. The more we recognize and correctly analyze, the more successful we are in functioning, naturally, as humans.

How does that reveal intentionality?

c emerson said...

> I think we are trying to define what , in meditation, is sometimes called the space between thoughts.

I am particularly interested in the idea of the 'space between thoughts'. The usual argument seems to complain about always pushing the divine into the gaps, a supposedly forever shrinking space for God to reside in. Your referenced 'space between thoughts' does not sound like a space that would ever shrink. Perhaps not a bad place for the divine to reside after all?

Alan said...

My suggestion in the original post was that intentionality was revealed through information, or that information was intentional. The following posts have been largely discussing how this information is manifest.

c emerson said...

Granted, so let me drain your brain a bit more. Recognizing the complexity of the numerous connotations for a word like "intentionality", what, In simple terms, do you feel is being revealed in the cosmic information? The divine? or merely constructs or representations of distant objects?

Alan said...

We could say, I suppose, that the ‘information’ could serve as a fingerprint or signature of the artist, but I think it will only tell us what we are, not who is responsible – I think we must ever speculate or accept that we can never know save through faith the Cause.

As to what has been revealed of the code are all the discoveries of science. The Periodic Table, DNA, chemistry and physics – everything. The role of science is to unravel the code. The whole ‘Fine-tuned Universe’ business – all that fine tuning is captured in the primordial code.


c emerson said...

> signature of the artist

Coincidentally I was just reading Robert Oerter's post, Collins vs. Stenger, and supporting material:


Robert Collins:

Victor Stenger:

Luke Barnes (cited by Collins):

Have we reached a level of scientific detail where only a handful of experts can hope to decipher the data, and even they can't agree? Peace.

c emerson said...

Here is the Stenger PDF cited by Oerter -

Victor Stenger:

The one I cited above is from the same colorado.edu site, but isn't the one Oerter compared. I can't tell yet whether Oerter has remarked, pro or con, on any of Luke Barnes' material.

Alan said...

Thanks – I look forward to reading those. That whole brew-ha-ha smacks of ‘god of the gaps’ and is secondary to my argument though. Regardless the significance of the constants or how they ‘must’ be ‘balanced for life’, they are coded into the fabric of the universe, and science has decode them. I predict that working through Lee’s revelations will allow us to (one day) trace the link between them and see how they are tied together.

At the moment though, the boss is ordering beer. Ciao.

Anna Maria said...

Since you "cross blogged" from mine to Deity Shmeity I suppose it's OK for me to. I've long been of the mindset everyone's opinion counts on science versus faith...the Internet has whipped that ancient war into warp speed. I express my "intellectual" views in rather everyday words because I chose to have baby's instead of go to college.

"Let me say that I agree that word, reason and the notion of divine-creating-forces are intertwined."

That quote from your post I totally agree with...as in we all have our own personal reasons for believing what we do and were given that right by the act of being born human.

I'll be keeping my eye on your posts in case I feel you write something inspired by too many beers. I still think those old men who wrote the Bible had waaaay too much wine to drink before they wrote the gospels.:D

Anna Maria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
c emerson said...

> science versus faith ... the Internet has whipped that ancient war into warp speed.

Tysm for posting here. Feel free to post on my other blog, Random Walk, anytime as well. Every week, for the last few months, I've been trying to survey a bit more of the blogosphere's terrain. Your blog is very interesting, and your blog roll is one of the most extensive I've seen. Whew!

The whole thing is an interesting cultural phenomenon. So why is science versus faith a war? If God exists, and is the originator of both Nature and Inquiry, then why are so many religious people opposed to inquiries of science into nature? And, to put our shoes onto the opposite feet, if God does not exist, then why are so many scientists offended by the 'ignorance' of religion?

As I like to say to my non-blogging friends and acquaintances, either enjoy my questions, or ignore them, whichever pleases you the most. And I think everyday words are the best vehicle for everyday thoughts. Cheers.

Anna Maria said...

Good to find another who thinks on subjects the way I do...with a wide open mind. I do have an extensive blog roll on my profile that I joined as a courtesy to those who added mine but I only keep those I stay most interested in on my blog list on the side of my post...and have added this one. That way the last one who posts comes to the top and I can check it out. I will check out Random Walk...and will keep checking this one out. Cheers back to you!

Grundy said...

I've always liked the mythology of words having power. In theology Logos is like that. God spoke and it was. It's big in magic, words like Abracadaba and all the Harry Potter spells. I don't believe it, but it makes an interesting story.

In comics, Billy Batson uses the name of the Wizard who gave him his powers to transform into a superhero. "Shazam!" It might be my favorite example.

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