God’s Brain and Information Theory

April 2, 2008    By: Jacob J @ 8:55 pm   Category: Theology

There is a famous episode in Mormon history when Orson Pratt and Brigham Young were having a very public debate over various points of doctrine. One of the many things they disagreed about was whether or not God was increasing in knowledge and learning new truths. Brigham taught that God does learn new truths and eventually laid the smackdown on Orson by way of a first presidency message denouncing Orson’s opposing view. Ironically, Orson’s view is probably the prevalent one in the church today, mostly because of folks like JFSII and BRM.

If I correctly recall my reading of Evidences and Reconciliations, Widtsoe argued that God’s omniscience is like having a knowledge of all the numbers zero through ten (he knows everything), but that those numbers could be combined in an infinite number of ways (knowledge is unbounded). Like most analogies, this one seems slick until you realize that it doesn’t mean a thing. Widtsoe doesn’t say what the numbers represent or what the analog to combining numbers is, so the analogy obfuscates more than it enlightens.

Eugene England wrote a paper arguing that God knows all truths within a “sphere” but that there are more truths in a higher sphere which God continues to learn. This time around, the smackdown went the other direction as England was famously rebuked by Bruce R. McConkie in a private letter (which became very public) in which McConkie quoted his own Seven Deadly Heresies speech in which he called Brigham’s doctrine “false — utterly, totally, and completely.”

Given our love for the topic of freedom and foreknowledge at NCT, we have discussed this topic from the standpoint of God’s foreknowledge several times in the past. If God does not know the future (as has been argued here) then this would be one way in which his knowledge is limited. But, this potential limitation doesn’t really get at the interesting part of the Brigham/Orson debate. Recently, I started thinking about this problem of God’s knowledge in the context of information theory. Specifically, I have been been wondering where God stores all this information he proportedly knows.

The Interesting Part

Two Mormon doctrines seem particularly relevant here. The first is the fundamental materialism implied by D&C 131:7 which states that “there is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter.” The second is the doctrine that God has a physical body. These two doctrines create fascinating issues in the realm of information theory. The fundamental problem is that it takes space to store information. It must be written down in books or stored on computer hard drives or captured in physical brains. The doctrine that all spirit is matter implies that not even God can get around this limitation. Information takes up space.

Our experience with computers over the last 40 years has demonstrated that a LOT of information can be compressed and sqashed into remarkably small spaces. Of course we must assume that God can squish it into even more compact spaces then we can. But is there a limit? It seems that there must be. Consider what it means for God to know everything about the current state of the universe. The key word to consider is the word everything. Even when we think we are storing a lot of information about something, we are in reality only storing a very small fraction of what we usually conceive of as everything.

Just about the most compact storage system we can imagine right now is using single electrons as a “bit” of binary data, using the spin to indicate either a logical 1 or 0. This would provide orders of magnitude more compression than we can acheive today. However, if the everything God knows includes the current spin state of every electron, we have a problem. After all, we will need an electron to store this spin state and the smallest thing we have to store it is an electron in a given spin state. That doesn’t leave any electrons for storing other information. When we add the element of time, things get much worse. Now that I have every electron in the universe busy storing it’s current spin state, where will I store all the spin states of electrons in the next moment? Hmmm.

Leaving aside the problem of where to store all the information, it is interesting to consider this problem in relation to God’s brain. God’s brain can only store a finite amount of information at any given time since it occupies a finite space and we are assuming that there is no such thing as the infinite compression of information. So, it seems that God must have some way of storing information outside of his brain. Maybe he devotes certain universes to data storage doesn’t worry about storing the information about the “data center” universes. I don’t know what format he would use, but I hope it is not books; books take too long to read. Hopefully he can store it in “brain” format so he can just bring it in from disk directly to his brain, sort of like how they taught Neo jujitsu in the Matrix.

However he does it, I don’t think it is feasible to say that God has everything about the infinite past available to him from local storage in his own brain (cf D&C 130:9-10). In fact, the part about the past being infinite pretty much seals the deal. But then, as I think about it, I wonder why it would be imporant for God to know everything from the infinite past anyway. I also wonder if it is important for God to know the spin states of every electron in present. It just seems to me that there is lots of information that doesn’t matter. Why wouldn’t God use the same trick that we do by focusing on and storing only the information that is important for him to know in order to accomplish his plans and designs? It will probably come as no surprise that this is what I think God does.

So, in conclusion, in addition to not believing that God knows the future, I don’t believe he knows everything about the present, and certainly not everything about the infinite past. What say you? Surely there is something in the rambling above you can comment on if you give it a shot. Don’t let me down.

80 Comments »

  1. Just because everything is material doesn’t mean we have to use computer metaphors to describe even human brains, let alone God’s brain.

    Moreover, I am not convinced that all of God’s “information” would even be limited to his brain, but “resides” in his embodied self somehow. (This of course bucks traditional notions of knowledge, which I love to do.)

    But the fundamental problem here is seeing knowledge as atomized bits. I don’t know why we have to do this. Moreover, the crucial question is whether knowledge is matter. Yes, there is no immaterial matter, but that doesn’t mean that there are not realities that are not material. Certainly there are “meanings” that cannot be captured in an atomized bit of information somewhere. However, they are materialized in a certain sense in that they don’t exist outside of a material being. But this hardly means we have to store information, nor that it is limited!!!

    Comment by Dennis Wendt — April 2, 2008 @ 10:14 pm

  2. The issue about whether God could know everything about the present is like the proof in information theory about whether there is a random number. You always need more bits than you have. Add in the past and that gets really tricky.

    However if the universe is infinite and there’s some way of utilizing infinite processes then all bets are off since the mathematics of infinity and infinite sets are considerably different than that of finite sets.

    Comment by Clark — April 2, 2008 @ 10:21 pm

  3. Perhaps there is no meaningful distinction between God and our universe . . . in and through all, the light by which all things are made.

    http://transfigurism.org/community/blogs/lincoln_cannon/archive/2008/03/02/4180.aspx

    Comment by Lincoln Cannon — April 2, 2008 @ 10:43 pm

  4. Dennis,

    I didn’t use a computer as a metphor for a human brain. I am arguing that whether information is stored in a computer or in a brain, both storage systems require matter and space to store the information. Are you arguing that brains somehow store information without space? If so, why do I need a brain?

    But the fundamental problem here is seeing knowledge as atomized bits. I don’t know why we have to do this.

    It is not knowledge, per se, that requires bits and bytes. It is the storage of information.

    Certainly there are “meanings” that cannot be captured in an atomized bit of information somewhere.

    Well, the nature of “meanings” is a tricky subject. Rather than arguing about whether meaning can be captured as information, let me point out that even if meanings cannot be capture as information, that does not mean that information can be stored without taking up space.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 2, 2008 @ 10:56 pm

  5. Lincoln,

    Perhaps there is no meaningful distinction between God and our universe

    Pantheism is not my bag baby.

    Clark,

    and there’s some way of utilizing infinite processes

    What in the world are you talking about? What is this “infinite process” you refer to?

    Comment by Jacob J — April 2, 2008 @ 11:08 pm

  6. My guess is that spirit controls matter, not visa versa. We don’t know much about spirit, but it’s possible that spirit conforms to much simpler laws than matter. If so, things could be simpler than our mortal approach to knowledge.

    Comment by Howard — April 2, 2008 @ 11:37 pm

  7. Jacob,

    In my mind, to assume that “information” needs “storage” is essentially a computer model. We don’t have to call it that if you don’t want to, but it is based on the same fundamental assumptions.

    One of those assumptions is that information is atomistic — that essentially, information is stored in individualized bits and bytes. You can have a brain without having to have bits and bytes of knowledge. No one has seen these bits and bytes of knowledge — and IMHO no one ever will.

    Second, it generally assumes that knowledge is passively stored rather than actively constructed in the here and now. From a constructivist perspective, a brain/mind has an ever-changing imprint (to use an analogy), and a person is always actively constructing meanings from this imprint (and in so doing, constantly changing the imprint). Thus, the question here is not about limits of storage, but limits of construction. The former is passive, the latter is active. I believe that God and men are of a single race of eternal constructors. There is a matter involved in this construction, but that doesn’t mean that anything is being stored in the matter!! This is a major assumption (as is my view, to be sure). So the question is not whether it is all about matter, but what is the nature of the matter: is it a storage receptacle or a necessary but not sufficient tool that facilitates a being’s constructions? or both?

    A third common assumption for a storage model is an empiricist tabula rasa philosophy. If we do not come into the world with blank slate brains, then a storage model of holding information seems odd because we already have some kind of categories of understanding (or whatever you want to call it) that don’t presumably “take up space.” Regardless of what you think about a tabula rasa mentality, you are going to run into problems regarding “information” when you consider the eternality of intelligences. Did we not have “information” before we were born into mortality? If so, how/where did this information exist and reside? If not, on what basis did we make decisions? If it wasn’t information, then what was it? Or, is it possible that we had a “spiritual brain”? If so, what is the relationship between this spiritual brain and our physical brain? Do they become the same brain? Or are they two parallel brains?

    What a tangled web we have to weave when we try to hoist information technology concepts into the heavens!

    Comment by Dennis Wendt — April 2, 2008 @ 11:42 pm

  8. A related question I suppose is prayer-answering. How does God pay attention to, and respond to perhaps billions of simultaneous prayers? This seems to require a different kind of consciousness than we enjoy. Does this require many instances of God, somehow instantaneously interconnected so they don’t go off by themselves and become massively schizophrenic? Hmmm.

    Comment by WVS — April 3, 2008 @ 12:06 am

  9. I’m with you Jacob on your conclusions here.

    Others reading along may not know that we have have touched on these things in the past. In this post the idea that knowledge occupies space was first discussed and it is a good point. In this post I used the idea that God probably can’t remember an infinite past to bolster the idea that Joseph Smith’s ring analogy might support a variation on eternal recursion. In this post I speculated (not well) on the differences between our one-track minds and God’s apparently truly multi-tasking mind.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 3, 2008 @ 12:31 am

  10. Does a human brain get heavier the more it learns? Because someone who has lived 99 years has seen more and stored more experiences than a 30 year old, does that mean his brain has more mass?

    I’m no doctor / biologist, but I don’t think it works that way. If anything, as time goes on, I have less brain matter due to brain cells dying off, yet I know more and have more memories and experiences.

    I don’t think your idea fits reality.

    Comment by JM — April 3, 2008 @ 5:24 am

  11. McConkie’s main argument against England, if I remember correctly, was that if God could continue to learn, he may discover some better way than the atonement, then he can not continue to learn. The failing here is that I can have perfect knowledge in one this, say how to operate a blender, and know nothing at all about other things, like using chopsticks.

    I hold the view that within a certain reasonable scope, God the Father had a perfect knowledge of our needs, and a perfect understanding of the means to fulfil those needs.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 3, 2008 @ 6:31 am

  12. Geoff,

    Thanks for the links. I am pretty new to this blog.

    However, I don’t think anyone has really addressed the issues I raise in (1) and (7). Rather, the bulk of commentators either are leaning towards a finite storage model of God (leaning entirely on analytical thought) or a mysterious infathomable eternal mind. I am doing neither, but am relying on constructivism and nonlinear notions of being and time, as inspired by more continental thought. (By nonlinear I do not mean timeless, but rather the opposite: a radical temporality.)

    Comment by Dennis Wendt — April 3, 2008 @ 6:58 am

  13. Howard,

    Your comment in #6 doesn’t make any sense in a Mormon context sense our scriptures tell us that spirit is matter.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 3, 2008 @ 8:51 am

  14. Dennis (#7): You can have a brain without having to have bits and bytes of knowledge. No one has seen these bits and bytes of knowledge — and IMHO no one ever will.

    You totally lost me here. What are you talking about? Has anyone “seen” the bits and bytes of knowledge a computer stores? If so how is that different than the bits and bytes an organic brain stores?

    JM (#11) — Does your computer hard drive get heavier the more you fill it up with information? If not then your example fails I think.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 3, 2008 @ 9:00 am

  15. Just about the most compact storage system we can imagine right now is using single electrons as a “bit” of binary data, using the spin to indicate either a logical 1 or 0.

    Not really. Look into quantum computing. And that’s only what we understand.

    We (and I include myself) commonly fall into a trap of imposing our rather crude, primitive and nascent understanding of reality upon God — as if the models with which we’re currently working (which — whatever their predictive value — are still just models) actually determine reality and constrain God. This doesn’t mean that exercises such as this one are interesting or relevant; we just have to be careful not to think we’ve somehow put God in a box. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — April 3, 2008 @ 9:26 am

  16. I wonder if God has a more general knowledge of things. Like understanding the ‘governing equations’ of how things work without needing to instantaneously know the spin of every electron. This may lean toward making many things deterministic, but many things probably are.

    Might there be many spirits or ‘gods’ working together in a type of network with ways of sharing infornation as needed?

    These thoughts are probably pretty dumb. Strike the probably.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — April 3, 2008 @ 9:28 am

  17. Dennis,

    You raise a lot of good points. Rather than trying to respond to all of them, let me focus on one.

    Thus, the question here is not about limits of storage, but limits of construction.

    I think this line of reasoning is fine but avoids the point about storage. Certainly you agree that my memory and recall requires storage in my human brain, no? The fact that “meaning” may be an active contruction in the current moment of consciousness does not answer the question of storage. So you say I am avoiding your point and I say you are avoiding mine.

    Now, it may be that God’s brain is not analogous to our brain, but for us. Is God actively holding every detail of every moment of the infinite past in his active awareness such that he never stores or remembers? Is that what you are arguing?

    If we do not come into the world with blank slate brains, then a storage model of holding information seems odd because we already have some kind of categories of understanding (or whatever you want to call it) that don’t presumably “take up space.”

    I would think the Mormon doctrine of a spirit body (which is material) answers this concern by suggesting that those things did take up space and were stored in a spirit brain. Being able to answer the question of how a spirit brain is related to a physical brain is interesting, but off track for this discussion.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 3, 2008 @ 9:34 am

  18. Bruce #15,

    I won’t comment on quantum computing, but I think you might be missing the essential point of the electron example. Notice, my point was not that electrons could only store a certain amount of information, but that no matter how small you go, you end up with the problem of storing information about those small things too. So if you are really trying to store information about everything you have a problem.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 3, 2008 @ 9:39 am

  19. Matt #11,

    That is funny, your argument against McConkie’s criticism of England is essentially England’s original argument.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 3, 2008 @ 9:41 am

  20. There are two ways to go.

    The first insists on the absolute capacity of God, his absolute _omnipotence_ and _omniscience_. (That he is simultaneouly aware of not only the sparrows fall, but of every grain of sand on every beach in the universe.) The second is to put limits on God. This second is considered blasphemy, and even in our church with Joseph’s limited God cannot be easily and openly discussed. However, following the first leads to a God without body, parts or passions. In other words, a God that is beyond our comprehension, inexplicable, unknowable, ultimately impersonal. In short, neither Joseph’s nor Jesus’ God.

    I follow the second to its inevitable conclusions. Richard Bushman notes that the Mormon God copes with the universe in much the same way we do, only using his ‘immense powers.’ I personally beleive that God not only occupies one point in space, but also that He has one thought at a time. I’m reconciled to what this means re: answering prayers and what it might mean to have a ‘personal relationship’ with Him.

    ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — April 3, 2008 @ 9:46 am

  21. Thomas: I personally beleive that God not only occupies one point in space, but also that He has one thought at a time. I’m reconciled to what this means re: answering prayers and what it might mean to have a ‘personal relationship’ with Him.

    How have you reconciled that for yourself? (I’ve seen attempts at this in the past but usually it either requires a multi-track mind in God or replacing a single God with Team God)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 3, 2008 @ 10:03 am

  22. A few thoughts. First, as others noted, I don’t see how quantum computing solves the problem.

    Second, while spirit and matter are in some way equated that may mean that matter is more complex than it appears. Consider at minimum how Orson Pratt conceived of matter. (I’m not in the least suggesting Pratt was right – merely suggesting that the assumption that matter is either non-continuous or has a finite number of possible states seems an unargued for premise) One matter can be conceived as having infinite possible states then the question of information storage changes considerably. So I agree with those urging care.

    Jacob, infinite processes might be possible if time isn’t discrete and if the time to accomplish tasks isn’t limited. Consider for instance in M-theory where we may have an unlimited brane (roughly an universe that isn’t finite like our current one). Let us also say that that we could change states in this brane as much as we want in any finite temporal span in this universe. Then God could have a process that stores infinite amount of information even though it would appear in our universe it takes a finite amount of time.

    There’s lots of assumptions there, of course, that may turn out not to be the case. However the point is we really don’t have a good way to know. Assuming that God’s brain isn’t augmented to external processes seems quite dubious at best. (At a minimum we ought assume God could do anything we could conceive as easily done by an advanced technology) But if we buy M-theory then that allows God to have quite a bit of capacity.

    Now I’m not saying one ought buy M-theory nor that such processes would even be possible within M-theory given our current understanding. I’m just saying we don’t know.

    Comment by Clark — April 3, 2008 @ 10:25 am

  23. re: #14

    I’m unaware of any hard limits on the brain’s capacity to store information? Tell me, when it reaches capacity, does it discard information based on a FIFO or LIFO methodology?

    Are these hard limits removed, increased, decreased, or remain the same when the spirit and the body separate at death?

    How about a resurrected brain? Does it have similar limits?

    I think you’re trying to fit an ocean’s worth of understanding into the thimble of human understanding.

    Comment by JM — April 3, 2008 @ 10:28 am

  24. Thomas, I don’t think we have one thought at a time. Thus the unconscious. If you mean one conscious thought at a time then that’s perhaps more reasonable. However if we find that there’s a mechanism for consciousness then that might be dubious as well.

    Comment by Clark — April 3, 2008 @ 10:30 am

  25. Geoff,

    I think Thomas has commented here before that he leans toward what you’ve called Team God when it comes to prayers being answered.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 3, 2008 @ 10:33 am

  26. JM — So I take it your argument is that brains have infinite capacity to store knowledge? It seems you are making this assertion about resurrected brains at least. Is that right?

    Jacob — Thanks. I ought to post on the Team God idea. Lots of people seem to like it and I think that Mormon theological commitments do push to either Team God or a God that has a mind very unlike ours.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 3, 2008 @ 10:39 am

  27. JM,

    Are you able to store and recall every piece of information you’ve ever learned? As best I can tell, my brain discards information with and LRU algorithm rather than a FIFO or LIFO. Of course, short term memories are dealt with in a different way than long term memories and I agree with you that brains are complex.

    Nevertheless, I don’t see how any of your examples of things we don’t know demonstrate your conclusion that I am trying to fit an ocean’s worth of understanding into a thimble. My point is that God’s brain (a resurrected brain) has similar limits. Not similar in magnitude, but in kind. It is true that this is a speculative assertion, which makes it a good topic for discussion, but I don’t see any reason it shouldn’t be discussed.

    You seem to think that your examples are blowing big holes in this discussion, but I don’t think they are. Your “heavier brain” argument in #10 was soundly refuted by Geoff and the ones in #23 seem to be very reasonable things to discuss, but hardly the conversation-stoppers you are presenting them as.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 3, 2008 @ 10:44 am

  28. Well, I’m not sure God’s brain has to act as a storage facility for information about the universe. Maybe it acts more as a receiver or conduit for the totality of the universe.

    Comment by Seth R. — April 3, 2008 @ 10:49 am

  29. Seth,

    Where do you think the totality of the past universe exists in the present?

    Comment by Jacob J — April 3, 2008 @ 10:51 am

  30. Ah… I understand.

    I’ll duck out of your conversation and watch from afar.

    Apologies for wandering in where I’m not wanted.

    Cheers!

    Comment by JM — April 3, 2008 @ 10:51 am

  31. JM,

    Sarcasm noted. To be clear, you are wanted in the discussion, and as I said, I think the questions you ask in #23 are good questions we should discuss. I was picking up a tone from your two comments that you are trying to throw cold water on the discussion with a “why are you bothering to discuss this” type of attitude. I have a hair trigger when it comes to that attitude.

    To restate: Your #23 would have been very welcome if you removed the last sentence and made all your questions come across as genuine questions to discuss instead of rhetorical conversation stoppers. If I’ve misunderstood your intent, I apologize and invite you to continue participating.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 3, 2008 @ 11:01 am

  32. JM it’s widely thought that one of the most important functions of memory is in choosing what to discard. Interestingly every act of recalling also restores the information. This is why your memories can actually become more distorted as you remember. That’s because every act of recall also is highly interpretive (your creativity fills in a lot of missing parts at a low level) and as you are remembering your brain is storing the new interpreted memory.

    When people have problems with their brain discarding information this can actually lead to cognitive problems.

    A lot of this is still being studied. And some things, such as the relationship of sleep and memory, are still very much at the beginning of being understood.

    Of course there’s no reason to suppose God’s mind is limited by a human brain. Likewise there’s no reason to assume God couldn’t easily augment his brain even if he had one.

    Comment by Clark — April 3, 2008 @ 11:31 am

  33. My point is that God’s brain (a resurrected brain) has similar limits.

    My point is that we should be careful assuming a resurrected brain has anything in common with our brains in terms of biology. But even if it does, given the possibility of augmentation, we shouldn’t assume that God’s mind is reducible to a brain nor should we assume his reasoning is so reducible.

    Comment by Clark — April 3, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  34. Clark,

    Your augmented brain arguments are probably missing Jacob’s point (as I understand it). Even when we concede that God’s brain can store amounts of information that are orders of magnitude greater than ours can store, we still have to concede that it is a finite amount of info. I think that is one of the main the issues at hand — especially when we consider an infinite past to remember (or not).

    Comment by Geoff J — April 3, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  35. I agree Clark. For one thing, we obviously had a mechanism for storing information before we had bodies. Another thing that I find interesting is that we leave out the third “part” of a resurrected being, that is the element of Glory. Joseph Smith said that the light “gathered” around Moroni.

    After this communication, I saw the light in the room begin to gather immediately around the person of him who had been speaking to me, and it continued to do so until the room was again left dark, except just around him; when, instantly I saw, as it were, a conduit open right up into heaven, and he ascended till he entirely disappeared, and the room was left as it had been before this heavenly light had made its appearance.

    When was the last time you saw light “gather”? I see glory, the light of Christ, as the element that provides the sensors and bandwidth to God’s omnipresence. Whether each atom keeps track of its spin state (including its history) is unknown to me, yet I am confident that the light of Christ truly is in all things and that God’s glory “fills the immensity of space”.

    Comment by Kent — April 3, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

  36. Geoff, if you look at some of my earlier comments you’ll see that I suggested M-theory might provide a way for augmentation to provide infinite processing power.

    Second, as I mentioned, even given matter it isn’t clear that matter must be in only a finite number of states. Put an other way a finite number of particles may be able to store infinite information.

    Comment by Clark — April 3, 2008 @ 12:35 pm

  37. in the realm of information theory, what really is “information”?

    Comment by tb — April 3, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

  38. #29
    yes, i’ve always pondered the same question:
    Where does that past go when we are through experiencing it as the present?

    maybe thats why we are commanded to keep a detailed journal. For the…”small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books.” (Rev 20:12)

    How is it that God can discard the “information” on Hitler and “blot him out” of his Book of Remembrance and yet, not have the “information” recalled, when at anytime he looks upon any of 11-14 million that were systematically murdered.

    is God really capable of “discarding” information?

    Comment by tb — April 3, 2008 @ 1:04 pm

  39. Is God capable of using prophets who express things poetically rather than analytically?

    Comment by Kent — April 3, 2008 @ 1:18 pm

  40. Is that a trick question or something Kent?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 3, 2008 @ 1:26 pm

  41. :)

    Comment by Kent — April 3, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

  42. Jacob J, I’m not talking about traditional pantheism — rather something more panentheistic, and certainly something far more naturalistic.

    Comment by Lincoln Cannon — April 3, 2008 @ 1:35 pm

  43. Great topic!

    I’m falling in with camp that sees some serious assumptions over what is infinite/finite.

    Can’t space be infinitely divided into smaller and smaller areas? Isn’t the universe contained in one finite molecule just as infinite as the universe in which our planet glides? Didn’t we learn anything from Monsanto’s Adventure Thru Inner Space?

    Or, to paraphrase Legend of 1900: A piano is finite, but I am infinite. Can’t a finite brain comprehend infinite knowledge just as a finite piano can be used to play infinite numbers of melodies?

    I suppose time is really the only constraint. A piano can’t play an infinite number of melodies all at once. (And after all, isn’t time –with different gaps, pauses & beats– the only thing that keeps melodies unique and infinite?)

    Neither can a (mortal) brain “think” about an infinite number of things. I doubt God’s brain would work any differently, but if it’s immortal, then he has all the time in the world to comprehend anything he sets his mind to.

    I recall my mission president encouraging us to ask him any question we have. He said if he didn’t know the answer, he would know where to look to find the answer.

    Couldn’t God claim omniscience simply because he knows HOW to know Everything?

    This also brings to mind D&C 130: 10. Apparently citizens of the Celestial Kingdom turn to some separate apparatus to learn new things.

    Comment by britain — April 3, 2008 @ 1:59 pm

  44. Dennis Wendt, here are some observations related to the content of post #7.

    Only those with faith have ever seen bits or bytes. Both are abstractions (created by the observer) across potentially infinite complexity within presumed raw sensory input. As with computers, Whether there are bits and bytes to be observed in human brains is a definitional exercise — not a hypothetical exercise. We simplify (willfully or as a consequence of anatomy) chaos into defined atoms as a matter of economy, to empower ourselves as in all matters of faith.

    In addition, all data, to the extent it is not stored actively, eventually loses the characteristic of being “stored”. All substrates on which data is stored are constantly changing, yet we engineer storage to persist, despite those changes, for some practical period of time. Beyond that time, the data can no longer be retrieved via the typical mechanism associated with the original storage — although perhaps no data is ever entirely lost, depending on our ever-improving ability to reverse historical changes. Thus, no data is stored passively. All is stored actively, whether in a computer on in a human brain. And it is stored not so much “in” anything, but rather as an interpretation of the order of things. The data is a pattern across a substrate, and it is meaningful only so long as something (or a combination of things) can recognize and interpret the pattern. Data persists (or, at least, is readily accessible) only so long as someone is sufficiently actively interested in it.

    Our computers do not emerge with any more of a tabula rasa than human brains. Like us, their anatomies were organized within an environment and community that bounded and intended their organization. Like us, they operate within the sphere of their creation, complete with computational architectures analogous to human categories of thought.

    The value of information theory is like that we find in all knowledge: constructs for empowerment, to be used for good or evil according to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. If we suppose any of our knowledge to be an infallible description of the absolute, we’re supposing beyond demonstrability or practicality. That applies to computer data, of course, at least as well as to human knowledge. I also wouldn’t be surprised if that applies to God’s knowledge, even if sublime in comparison to mine, as I suppose it to be.

    Comment by Lincoln Cannon — April 3, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

  45. Jacob #17:

    Certainly you agree that my memory and recall requires storage in my human brain, no? The fact that “meaning” may be an active contruction in the current moment of consciousness does not answer the question of storage. So you say I am avoiding your point and I say you are avoiding mine.

    Jacob, I’m not avoiding your point about storage. I am disagreeing with it head on. The fact that you are so surprised about this suggests, to me, that you haven’t given alternative assumptions much thought.

    Let me spell out a little further what I think. I teach Personality Theory at BYU (in Psych Dept) and in this course we discuss some of the major personality theorists, including the assumptions they make about what it means to be human. Only one brand of theorist (that we cover) thinks of the human brain/mind in terms of memory storage and recall. That is the cognitive behaviorists. This model of understanding the brain is a relatively recent one, and one that basically coincides with the invention of the computer (big surprise). However, all of the other major theorists do NOT think of the brain/mind in this way: Freud, Adler, Jung, Piaget, Skinner, Rogers, and Kelly — not to mention the postmodernists such as many existentialists and hermeneuticists.

    Now I’m not saying what is right and what is wrong here. I am simply saying that, in terms of those who are thinking deeply about personality theory, there are many viable theories for thinking about the brain/mind. The cognitive psychology / neuroscientific route is a seductive one for those who are technically-minded, but it rests on major assumptions that have never been validated — and I would argue that they never will be. Of course, the other theorists do as well. It’s really a matter of what argument you are persuaded by.

    Let me say a little more about this. There have been some who have argued that an approach to the brain as a storage receptacle is tantamount to a modern phrenology, in which we assume that information has to reside somewhere in the brain. I would argue that there is no reason to give credence to the idea that information resides in places in the brain in any way at all similar to a computer-like storage model. And if it doesn’t reside in a particular place in the brain, then the term “storage” is a funny one. We would assume it would be “stored” somewhere.

    Now, one way that you could give credence to the idea that the brain is a storage receptacle is if you were able to somehow remove specific memories (as in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). After all, that is how information on a hard drive works. I can delete specific files and I can make specific files. However, to assume that this same process works in a brain is interesting, but I wonder how much this assumption is due to simply lifting ideas from information technology and hoisting them (without much reflection) into the human brain.

    Another way to give credence to the storage model is if there were robots that are indistinguishable from humans in every respect. This would not prove that humans store information in the same way, but it would be a strong argument that at least they could. Critics of the artificial intelligence movement have noted that AI researchers have been overly enthusiastic about what they could do, and they have made dismal progress in light of their expectations. One reason that is offered for this lack of progress is that humans are radically different in terms of their thinking then are robots.

    Perhaps the most significant critic of AI, Hubert Dreyfus, tackles the very assumptions that I see you making. The following is from the Wikipedia article on Dreyfus:

    Dreyfus’s critique of artificial intelligence (AI) concerns what he considers to be the four primary assumptions of AI research. The first two assumptions he criticizes are what he calls the “biological” and “psychological” assumptions. The biological assumption is that the brain is analogous to computer hardware and the mind is analogous to computer software. The psychological assumption is that the mind works by performing discrete computations (in the form of algorithmic rules) on discrete representations or symbols.

    Dreyfus claims that the plausibility of the psychological assumption rests on two others: the epistemological and ontological assumptions. The epistemological assumption is that all activity (either by animate or inanimate objects) can be formalised (mathematically) in the form of predictive rules or laws. The ontological assumption is that reality consists entirely of a set of mutually independent, atomic (indivisible) facts. It’s because of the epistemological assumption that workers in the field argue that intelligence is the same as formal rule-following, and it’s because of the ontological one that they argue that human knowledge consists entirely of internal representations of reality.

    On the basis of these two assumptions, workers in the field claim that cognition is the manipulation of internal symbols by internal rules, and that, therefore, human behaviour is, to a large extent, context free (see contextualism). Therefore a truly scientific psychology is possible, which will detail the ‘internal’ rules of the human mind, in the same way the laws of physics detail the ‘external’ laws of the physical world. But it is this key assumption that Dreyfus denies. In other words, he argues that we cannot now (and never will) be able to understand our own behavior in the same way as we understand objects in, for example, physics or chemistry: that is, by considering ourselves as things whose behaviour can be predicted via ‘objective’, context free scientific laws. According to Dreyfus, a context free psychology is a contradiction in terms.

    Dreyfus’s arguments against this position are taken from the phenomenological and hermeneutical tradition (especially the work of Martin Heidegger). Heidegger argued that, contrary to the cognitivist views on which AI is based, our being is in fact highly context bound, which is why the two context-free assumptions are false. Dreyfus doesn’t deny that we can choose to see human (or any) activity as being ‘law governed’, in the same way that we can choose to see reality as consisting of indivisible atomic facts…if we wish. But it is a huge leap from that to state that because we want to or can see things in this way that it is therefore an objective fact that they are the case. In fact, Dreyfus argues that they are not (necessarily) the case, and that, therefore, any research program that assumes they are will quickly run into profound theoretical and practical problems. Therefore the current efforts of workers in the field are doomed to failure.

    Comment by Dennis Wendt — April 3, 2008 @ 3:02 pm

  46. Dennis, could you shine a little more light on some of the other brands of personality theorists?

    Comment by britain — April 3, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

  47. Contemporary artificial intelligence research does not depend on context-independence. To the contrary, context is essential even to the definition of intelligence, and programmers are designing computers to learn (change themselves) from interaction with context. Moreover, artifical intelligence has been achieved in many domains, where computers substantially outperform humans.

    Of course, there remain many domains in which humans substantially outperform computers, which is why researchers have not yet claimed success in pursuit of the goal of artificial general intelligence. However, assuming a continuation of historic trends of exponential increase in computing power, ease of software design, and resolution of brain scanning and simulation, we will yet see computers outperform unassisted humans in other domains.

    It seems that the efforts of AI researchers are no more doomed to failure than were the efforts of heavier-than-air craft researchers. Both have seen proofs-of-concept in nature. Both have made unfounded claims and mistakes. Both have been disputed by intelligent and educated persons. One has achieved success, and so, I suspect, will the other, given sufficient time and interest. Such is the power of the human spirit, reflecting God, so far as I am concerned.

    Comment by Lincoln Cannon — April 3, 2008 @ 5:05 pm

  48. Lots of informative and interesting comments.

    Clark,

    Thanks for your explanation in #22. As Spock says, there are always …possibilities. I agree that we just don’t know what crazy thing might turn out to screw up all my thinking here.

    britain,

    I enjoyed your comment. I like your comment about timing being the thing that allows a finite piano to play an infinite number of melodies. As you this question: Can’t space be infinitely divided into smaller and smaller areas? It is not necessarily related to this discussion, but interesting that some formulations of quantum theory say that space cannot be infinitely divided.

    tb,

    For what it’s worth (not much), I have always taken the statements about God “remembering sins no more” and other such statements as figurative and unrelated to memory.

    Dennis,

    Or should I call you Professor Wendt? Great comment which I will have to respond to after scouts.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 3, 2008 @ 6:19 pm

  49. Geoff #13,
    Spirit is matter but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes, this differentiates spirit from say a rock or even from our bodies. No spirit, no life, spirit controls matter.

    Comment by Howard — April 3, 2008 @ 8:09 pm

  50. Going back:

    Geoff, I think I’d prefer “God’s Team” to “Team God.” That is, God, the Father, our absolute, ultimate head, has set up the system perfectly. We direct everything to Him. I do not beleive that means that what He does is actually accomplished by a chorus of gods, or however that is said, the divine concert, per se. Rather, we have angels, ministering spirits, and most importantly the Holy Spirit doing the work – and whether by His own voice or the voice of His servants, it is the same.

    One thought at a time: I suppose I’d prefer to say, and maybe this is more clear, limited consciousness. That is: His consciousness does not simultaneouly record infinite items. How far His conscious apprehensions might be beyond ours I’m not prepared to give an opinion on. But, I do think that I’d have to say not the point where we won’t with Him enjoy the ‘same sociality’ we enjoy with others here and now. From a Jungian point of view, I think He must have subconscious but not an unconscious. Meaning, at any given time He may have processes going on subconsciously, as we do – but He doesn’t have mental processes of which He has no access, no awareness. Beacuse He is Holy. (Whole)

    Finally, I’d never do anything like bear my testimony of these things. I’m specualting based on aesthetic preferences of my own, which have been largely augmented by a version of the Endowment we haven’t had for 20 years.

    ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — April 3, 2008 @ 9:35 pm

  51. Jacob, note that the possibilities I mentioned weren’t pie in the sky but reasonable guesses from some very common views of the universe. As I said I think at a minimum God has to have the kind of power that we can imagine a highly advanced technological race to have. If we limit him beyond that then something odd is going on.

    Comment by Clark — April 3, 2008 @ 10:43 pm

  52. (Although obviously one problem with String Theory is that it says far too much — we just don’t know where it’s limits are. So certainly most of what I said is just hand waving.)

    Comment by Clark — April 3, 2008 @ 10:44 pm

  53. AS an aside, Widtsoe in “Rational Theology” seemed to express the idea that God’s knowledge is an awareness of the whole universe, but expanding and increasing in complexity.

    “The law of progression is then a law of endless development of all the powers of man in the midst of a universe becoming increasingly complex, that is, more varied and interesting. No more hopeful principle can be incorporated into a philosophy of life.”

    “One thing seems clear, however, that the Lord who is a part of the universe, in common with all other parts of the universe is subject to eternal universal laws. In some manner, mysterious to us, he has recognized and utilized the laws of the universe of which he is the chief intelligence. Therefore, if the law of progression be accepted, God must have been engaged from the beginning, and must now be engaged in progressive development, and infinite as God is, he must have been less powerful in the past than he is today. Nothing in the universe is static or quiescent. While it is folly for man to attempt to unravel in detail the mystery of the past, yet it is only logical to believe that a progressive God has not always possessed his present absolute position. That view does not change his relative position to man. The term infinite is always of relative meaning.”

    Sorry for the big quotes, tjust thought they were interesting…

    Comment by Matt W. — April 4, 2008 @ 6:45 am

  54. The “glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93).

    We commonly say that God “made” the world, but we know it wasn’t “ex nihilo” (from nothing). He organized it, manipulated it, and refined it, from already existing matter.

    We commonly say that God “knows” everything, but he doesn’t. Not in the literal sense. He can’t store the sequential spin states of each electron in the universe over time. That would be an impossible amount of information to store in his physical brain (or anywhere else, for that matter). Instead, if he wants to know an exact spin state of an electron at whatever given timestamp (past, present, or future) he would use an elegant prediction algorithm to reveal it.

    Knowing the prediction algorithms is what makes God intelligent. Not the accumulation of raw data.

    God “knows everything” because he can reveal what has already happened without having physically been there, and he can predict what will occur. But this is done in an “on demand” fashion, via predictive algorithms, and not by rote/brute storage retrieval.

    The important thing to understand is that you only need a very limited amount of present, temporary data to pinpoint the “new” data that you want, for example, data you want to find out about a future event. Predictive algorithms are very powerful.

    Consider a ripple on a pond. It doesn’t matter at what stage of its existence that God beholds the ripple. Seeing only a tiny fraction of it’s amplitude and frequency from any perspective or moment in time, he can predict it’s behavior backwards and forwards forever. He then combines that information with the output from other predictive algorithms that take into account any proximity variables, like twigs and rocks in the water, falling rain, a water buffalo charging through it, the water temperature, atmospheric pressure, etc. These nested/layered algorithm may seem impossibly complex, but they’re not. They operate on simple principles of probability and approximation. Working together, they reveal things as they really are and as they really will be.

    Our brain is already doing highly complex things like the above nested/combined algorithms with nothing but DNA firmware (hard-coded “memory”). That is how we breath, keep our heart pumping, walk up stairs, talk, sing etc. Real-time proximity data is flowing into our brain’s neocortex from our five senses and allowing our bodies to predict, manipulate, and survive highly complex and varied situations. Our predictive abilities are highly refined, and amazingly godlike. Read a book called On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins to understand how powerful the human mind is, and how accurately it can predict complex near-future events with only tiny data inputs to work with. (near-future events like knowing where to put your next step when you are running or playing hopscotch, or walking up stairs….it involves a lot more complexity and intelligence than you might think.) As the scriptures say, we are gods. (little “g”)

    Omniscience = instant access to all information, past, present, and future, via predictive algorithms.

    When Brigham said that God is always “learning” new things, he was right in one sense. This is because an infinite number of outputs can be observed by putting in sequentially different strings of the same variables in a predictive algorithm.

    But Orson was right too. He was right in the sense that God knows all the predictive algorithms that are necessary to predict or reveal anything. In this regard, God cannot “learn” anything more than he already knows.

    The paradox is solved by understanding that once a being has mastered all predictive algorithms (there are a set, finite number of them), then that being can swim in the ocean of infinite possibilities. That being can reveal the past, predict the future, arrange his or her atoms to walk through walls, walk on water, change water to wine, combine and manifest bread from proximity elements, and so on.

    Remember that Moroni appeared to Joseph in his bedroom, and then a conduit opened up to heaven….what was going on? How did Moroni get his physical body through the ceiling? Using predictive algorithms, he micro-nudged and hyper-timed his atoms/electrons in such a way that he could go through the ceiling without touching it. (Atoms are mostly empty space, anyway. The nucleus is very tiny compared to the huge diameter of the whole atom.) Moroni knew the algorithm, and executed it on demand. He did it just as easily as you or I execute the algorithm to open a door. He didn’t need to know the spin state of all the atoms in the universe, he only needed to predict a few of them during one small moment in time.

    Once you know the algorithm, you adapt it to the present situation, and execute it. Like riding a bike. Once you know how to ride a bike, you can successfully ride an infinite variety of bikes, different sizes, shapes, colors, and types because you have mastered the algorithm of balance and pedaling. Going through a ceiling or going through a wall, or going through a mountain or entire planet, it’s all the “same.”

    Brigham and Orson were both adamant, convinced they were right. And, they both were right in their own way.

    Let’s explore it through one more example.

    Suppose there is a hallway (or universe) that has an infinite number of locked doors. Now suppose a secret code is necessary to unlock each one. No door has the same code, every one is unique. The code on the first one is 1+1 = ?. The second one is 1+2 =?, the third one is 1+3=?, and so on.

    If you know the core algorithm, you can open any door you choose, even though the codes are infinite and unique. In this way, it could be said that God “knows everything”, but he still has unique experiences each day. The experiences he has are not unexpected or random, but they are unique.

    God’s work and glory is to exalt low-level intelligences all the way up to his level. He has done this probably trillions of times already, but he is not sated, and never will be sated. He continually hungers and thirsts after righteousness, which is exalting lower intelligences to his level.

    Each intelligence in the universe is unique and special, and there are vast arrays of intelligences (gods-in-embryo) out there, just waiting, milling around in chaos, only dimly aware that greater intelligences exist anywhere. We are the treasures that God is eternally hunting and seeking to unlock and empower. Once he has found us, he seeks to earn our trust, and gently entices us to obey him. Once we have accepted the enticement, he then begins to teach us the algorithms. If we accept and adequately practice and hold to the algorithms (including charity, the greatest algorithm of all), he exalts us and helps us reach a perfect knowledge of all the algorithms. We will then hunger and thirst to go out and find other intelligences, entice, teach, and exalt them, worlds without end.

    Mathematical algorithms are at the heart of the priesthood. They are what take up the physical space in God’s exalted brain. They are what give him his glory. These algorithms likely have something to do with Pi, Fibonacci numbers, etc.

    These algorithms take small slices of available data and then output (reveal) things “as they really are, and as they really will be.” The algorithms are infinite in nature because they can predict anything. When we develop and begin to experience the algorithm of charity, (through a glass darkly) we get a partial view of what the past and future of any particular child of God has been and will be. It is stunning and humbling to behold. Whichever child of God we are near, we want to help that person and not hurt them. We want to forgive them, bear with them, uplift them, etc. Remember that charity is a gift, which is given to all “true followers of Christ.” Charity is a gift of intelligence. It is a kind of seership, and to be saved, you have to obtain it. Joseph Smith said that a man is only saved as fast as he obtains intelligence. Charity is a godlike, algorithm-type of intelligence.

    Additional thoughts/assumptions:

    1. The core of Kolob is a massive sea of glass (a database). In other words, it is a huge Urim and Thummim (U&T). That is how God stores all of the unique experiential data that he accumulates over time. He can’t hold all of the raw aggregate data in his brain at one time. There are physical space limitations. But he can instantly access any of it at any time he needs or wants, and store it in his short term memory (likely in the hypothalamus) for as long as he wants before overwriting it with present or subsequent events. One thing that remains constant in his physical brain is the predictive algorithm sets. Those are what make him God.

    2. When Kolob started out, it was a small sea of glass. As God has more children and organizes more matter to govern, Kolob is physically upgraded, added upon, gets bigger (physically) to make room for more data storage. This takes physical labor to do.

    3. Our earth will become a mini-Kolob when it is melted/burned/purified at the Second Coming, ready to be filled and enlarged with experiential data through all eternity.

    4. Kolob is networked with all other U&Ts. Having access to a major U&T is to have access to all eternity. (God is “in” all things, and “through” all things because of his U&T network access.)

    5. Likely our new name (temple name) will be a pass code to access the U&T we will live on (the celestialized Earth.) Some people will not have full access (telestial and terrestrial beings). They will have new names (remember…their temple work is done and they are purified during the millennium), and their new names will give them access to a U&T, but they will not have full access. They will not be able to see God nor “be” where he is, or in other words, they will not “see” all matter. Nonetheless, their privileges will be immense, and they will praise Christ for it. It was through him that they were resurrected and received new names (U&T pass codes) and can be powerful ministering angels to lesser intelligences who are seeking exaltation.

    6. The Liahona was possibly a kind of open-access U&T, but with limited network privileges. That is how it was able to produce unique, real-time data for Lehi’s travels, without letting him see all of eternity. Same thing with Joseph’s seer stones.

    7. With regard to the mechanism by which Kolob might be networked to other U&Ts, check out the movie Thunderbolts of the Gods. We have an “electric” sun, not a nuclear one. You’ve got to see it to believe it, and it’s not what you think. Strong empirical data suggests that nuclear reactions are NOT occurring on the sun. What does this mean? Watch the film, and it will blow your mind.

    8. The scriptures tell us that some things are “not lawful to be written.” That has always been interesting to me. My assumption is that the information that is unlawful to be written would give priesthood powers to anyone who got a hold of it, because priesthood is law/intelligence/truth/algorithm.

    9. Many people think that a pattern-based (algorithm-based) system of memory leads us down the path of “determinism.” That is incorrect. Eternity is known, but it is not coerced or determined. Knowing that a particular electron will be in a given location tomorrow at 12:00:01 AM does not force it to be there. It’s past history and it’s current trajectory, combined with the past history and current trajectory of the variables around it, provide enough data for the prediction.

    10. God can predict his own future, and he sometimes does (OT scriptures predicted God’s interaction with Christ in the NT many years later). This foreknowledge does not destroy the joy that is experienced when he gets to that future moment in time. The foreknowledge simply creates added anticipation for the unique experience that will occur.

    11. Suppose God sees one of his children 50 trillion years after he’s exalted that child. Let’s call the child “Intergalactic Intelligence Number 58,900,875,000,000.” Is the information about that child, his name, his face, his life experiences, will it be in God’s physical brain? No. It won’t. It will have originally been in his short term memory for a couple of thousand years, but it will have later been stored in the sea of glass (Kolob, God’s Urim and Thummim). However, I assume that when God sees that child, he will instantly know him or her and embrace them and remember them, because God’s physical brain must ahve some kind of real-time access to the Urim and Thummim (light speed or faster-than-light network technology?). The moment he sees the child, his short term memory will be refreshed/imprinted with that child’s data for another couple of thousand years.

    When God’s sees a human face, his mind executes an algorithm to predict who it is (every face is unique). If the face is not in his short term memory, the algorithm that he is executing accesses the U&T and finds it instantly. He doesn’t have to “think” about it, it is an instinctual reaction, like touch-typing on keyboard. Once you have learned how to do it, your mind/body executes the algorithm automatically.

    So how does God handle trillions of prayers at the same time? He delegates. There are elegant algorithms in his mind that recognize and handle prayers. Any given batch of prayers that hit his mind is instantly processed and off-loaded to assigned messengers with specific instructions on how to respond to the prayers. Consider how easily we pick up a ringing phone and talk to another person. When we do that, we are actually responding to many different inputs simultaneously. 1) we execute an algorithm to physically locate and pick up the phone, and continually hold it. The algorithm has to keep running the whole time because we are moving around, however slightly, and we have to continually adjust and keep our muscles tensed to keep the phone in position during the whole conversation. 2) we execute an algorithm to speak a pre-assigned introduction and then continually execute nested speech and data retrieval algorithms to respond to the incoming speech 3) we execute various other “back-ground-running” algorithms to handle many other events like keeping our heart pumping, our lungs breathing, our eyes moving and taking in data, our balance so we don’t fall over, our digestion to convert food into energy, etc., etc., etc. All of this is happening simultaneously, and we are doing most of it by instinct, because our brain knows the algorithms. We are operating on pattern-based intelligence. We are delegating simple tasks to billions of different cells in an instantaneous, algorithmic fashion. Some of these delegations are conscious and voluntary and others are instinctive and automatic.

    Once a being has mastered all the algorithms, processing trillions of unique prayers in one instant will be little or no different than breathing. Breathing is a highly complex behavior that takes immense intelligence and involves billions of cells, but once the intelligence is hard-coded, we can breath by instinct, or we can breath consciously and vary the rate, hold our breath, etc.

    When we are exalted, we will eventually have all predictive algorithms hard-coded into our brains. And it will occur line upon line, from actual experience. No blessing is given except by obedience to the law of predication (D&C 130). You can’t get something for nothing. It will take a long time to master the algorithms of eternity, but God will help us to do it.

    The reason we were born with so much intelligence embedded in our DNA is because we already worked for it and learned it and mastered it in the pre-mortal life. When the veil is taken from our minds, we will remember all that we know, and we will see as we are seen, and know as we are known. We will probably be in awe of ourselves for a little while.

    Mortality is necessary to master the greatest of all algorithms: charity. You can’t learn that without being in a hostile physical environment that involves pain and death.

    12. Books recommended in General Conference that will blow your mind, (especially Allen’s):

    Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen, by Hans Andersen (http://www.inspiredconstitution.org/hva_called/index.html)

    Prophets, Principles, and National Survival, compiled by Jerreld Newquist (http://www.inspiredconstitution.org/ppns/index.html)

    The Elders of Israel and the Constitution, by Jerome Horowitz (http://www.inspiredconstitution.org/jh_eic/index.html)

    None Dare Call it Conspiracy, by Gary Allen

    The American Tradition, by Clarence Carson

    13. Please take the red pill, get out of the mass media Matrix: http://www.patriotsquestion911.com

    Comment by JM — April 4, 2008 @ 7:10 am

  55. Still haven’t responded to everything I want to, but I want to throw this question out there. For all those who are pointing out alternative possibilities to what I suggested in the post, what is your take on the limits (or lack thereof) of God’s knowledge? Is God aware of everything at every moment? Does God have everything that has ever happened in the infinite past in his awareness at all moments? Does the “everything” include absolutely anything that we might conceive of God knowing? Going back to the Brigham/Orson debate, does God continue to learn new truths?

    Comment by Jacob J — April 4, 2008 @ 8:29 am

  56. I tend to lean toward Roberts in that God knows what is knowable. But that as the universe is a ‘becoming’ thing so is the knowledge of God. So I guess I would say God’s omniscience is not absolute.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — April 4, 2008 @ 8:40 am

  57. “Should the Lord Almighty send an angel to re-write the Bible, it would in many places be very different from what it now is. And I will even venture to say that if the Book of Mormon were now to be re-written, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation. According as people are willing to receive the things of God, so the heavens send forth their blessings. If the people are stiff-necked, the Lord can tell them but little.” (Journal of Discourses 9:311)

    The heating of the Book of Mormon (say +100 degrees C) is changing the media, on which the information is stored, but not the information. If someone decided to tear all the pages out and place them in order in a long line, the entropy of the media would increase without changing the information. If we could write the bible on the head of a pin, the physical entropy would get really low, but the information would see no change in entropy.

    Howvever, if we decided to rearrange all the pages of the Book of Mormon, so the final book is exactly the same in size, weight and pages, the information would gain entropy, with very little change in physical entropy. If we took at lasar and evaporated all the letters A,a, we would use only a small amount of energy, but would radically increase information entropy.

    Information is different than matter, in that matter follows the laws of nature, while information is a function of the mind. Eternal Truth, or a state of zero information entropy, but can be perceived, by the mind, as high entropy information. For example, if we translated the Book of Mormon into a language one did not know, we have not changed the information per se, but for that person, the entropy of the information has increased. What one knows or believes sort of define the information laws of that mind. Because the new data does not work using those laws of the mind, it will appear like high entropy information.

    The laws of nature, should be the same for all people. The divergence of thought is due to the laws of the mind not being the same. This has less to do with objectivity of the laws of nature, as with the laws of the mind containing subjective factors. The human imagination has no physical limitations, such that anything is possible. This can cause information to appear to gain or retain high entropy.

    Let me give an analogy. Say one could play God and define the laws of nature anyway they wish. Anything that happens differenly would be called entropy. The next guy, also plays God, and decides to use a different set of physical laws. His entropy is different. What could be entropy to him may follow the physical laws of the other person. This is purely subjective, which is the source of information entropy.

    The human mind is the analytical tool for analyzing information. If one does not know how the mind works, let alone God’s Mind, how can one be sure if their tool is calibrated properly? If all the mind tools, used for thought, were slightly out of calibration, one would expect to get information entropy. Yet there is no constraint in science that assures the mind tool is calibrated. One doesn’t even have to know how this tool works and can still be considered an expert at using this analytical tool for information.

    Comment by tb — April 4, 2008 @ 9:18 am

  58. I like the “Super Mario Brothers” Analogy: After playing the game a billion times, I learned everything there was to know about the first level of that game. Every trick, every pixel. To someone living in the world of the first level of Super Mario Bros, I could be relied on to know literally everything, and it should be no concern to them that there might still be other levels that I am figuring out. I don’t see why God can’t be figuring out other levels. As far as I’m concerned, he’s omnipotent. If there is ever anything that I need to know, he will know it. If I can even comprehend a question, he knows the answer. Everything to do with my existence and well-being is taken care of. But that doesn’t logically imply that he is not learning or growing in some other sphere.

    I don’t see how you can believe in both eternal progression and unimprovable perfection. We often say we believe in each of these, but the two are contradictory. I personally have no problem with the idea that God is still learning and improving, while the idea of no eternal progression kind of scares me.

    Comment by rp — April 4, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

  59. Wow. There are some really odd comments in this thread.

    What have you wrought Jacob?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 4, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

  60. Dennis #45,

    It it true I have not spent a lot of time considering the alternative assumptions. Maybe you can help me understand how they explain the properties of memory and recall that are part of our basic experience. I memorize a poem and then years later I am able to recall it. I agree that it is probably not stored in my brain as a file is stored on a hard drive, but it seems that it has to be in there somewhere. I don’t have any experiences of suddently knowing a poem that I didn’t memorize previously. I can go for many years without every thinking of or being aware of the poem and then, upon being reminded, I can recall it again. Perhaps computer-culture conditioning has blinded me to alternatives, can you help me out on what they would be?

    You gave two examples of how to show evidence for storage in brains: deleting a specific memory and AI. The idea of deleting a specific memory seems to fall into the exact trap you are saying I have fallen into of thinking that the brain must be like a computer. (I know you are not suggesting that this would be necessary, just that it would be sufficient to say we had some evidence of storage). However, again, I have never said the brain must be like a computer; I have merely suggested that both involve storage of information. We’ve known for a long time that neural networks do not function like a computer file system. Thus, I don’t think we will ever be able to blot out a single memory and I wouldn’t expect that we would be able to based on my view. However, I would expect that damage to the brain could cause problems in a person’s short term or long term memories, and I think there are examples of this (although I am not prepared to cite specific case studies, so challenge me if you disagree).

    As to AI, I tend to agree with all the points in the wiki quote about Dreyfus. I don’t see how it undermines any of what I am suggesting here, but I agree with him that AI has traditionally been grounded on bad assumptions.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 4, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

  61. Geoff #59,

    Ha. Yea, I think my original post would be considered “out there” by most standards, but I feel safe in saying that I have been outdone in some of the comments.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 4, 2008 @ 2:48 pm

  62. What’s up with the novel by JM in #54? I haven’t carved out enough time to read it yet… Is it all original for this thread or some essay he/she just pasted in?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 4, 2008 @ 3:01 pm

  63. Original work for this thread. Remember this for next years Niblets. I’m thinking of a write in category for longest comment. There’s some good stuff in there, you should read it.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 4, 2008 @ 4:47 pm

  64. #54 is an elaborate argument for determinism, although it tries (unsuccessfully) to say it isn’t in sub-paragraph # 9.

    I found Jacob’s original post interesting because it’s another way to explain how God must know the future, although Jacob didn’t intend it that way (since he believes God doesn’t know the future). The point being that, unless past, present and future are continually before the Lord (in the sense that he has complete access to all three because they currently exist), God not only doesn’t know the future, he couldn’t know everything about the present or the past, as Jacob suggested.

    The only plausible counterargument to Jacob’s conclusion is determinism, along the lines of #54; i.e., that all the universe is an algorithm, so that once you know the algorithm and the precise state of all matter at any point, you can solve for any point in the past or future and you wouldn’t need to actually “know” the past, present or future.

    Comment by Jonathan N — April 5, 2008 @ 11:33 am

  65. Jonathan: the notion that God’s knowledge is limited to brain matter between his ears is simple non-sense in my view. The beginning premise makes no sense. Is jacob insisting that somehow God’s knowledge isn’t in the whole of reality? What he needs is a process perspective on synthesis of the whole in God’s experience. God is not just a body.

    Comment by Blake — April 5, 2008 @ 12:51 pm

  66. Blake,

    I am asking how the whole of reality (including the infinite past) is available to God, given that information about the past must be stored somewhere. My assumptions have been challenged in various ways in the comments. I am not sure how a process perspective solves the problems of information theory, can you explain?

    Now, I never said that God is “just” a body. However, I think we have a fine line to walk. I think we have to be very careful not to trivialize the corporeality of God such that God’s body is surperfluous. The idea that God has a body seems to suggest certain kinds of limits. The idea that information takes up space suggests to me other sorts of problems. I am trying to explore them both in this post and would certainly be interested in your take.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 5, 2008 @ 1:09 pm

  67. Jacob: In process thought all of reality impinges on each actual occasion of as the data of the prior moment are synthesized into the new momentary existences of the actual occasions of experience. God is the perfect preserver of the past because he is embodied the physical universe as whole. In other words, in God the whole of the past is synthesized in each moment of God’s experience. I cannot see any reason not to read D&C 88 and the relation of God’s light that acts immediately on all things as this same embodiment relation in all that exists. God has a glorified body, but is also embodied analogically in the entirety of the physical universe.

    Further, remember that I am an emergentist so that the properties of mind are not merely the deterministic result of the prior data of the neurons in the brain. Mind is over-and-above the physical in the sense that it is not fully explainable by the properties of the physical constituents from which it emerges and has additional causal powers of downward causation. So my choice to go the store is not fully explainable by the neural data with all prior causes and my choice downwardly acts on my brain to cause my legs to move so that free I walk to the store.

    In addition, we presently have the technology for “brain-datalinks” where we can link the data of one brain to be accessed by another — or by a brain to a computer. Further, I can run computer programs on neural networks as well as the computer database. Imagine a world where I can immediately access your brain. Now the only way that the information of my brain can be replicated and thus give rise to my consciousness is by another brain that is in the exact physical state of my brain or some other multi realizable state that would give the same data and consciousness (and we don’t have any idea how many permutations there could be). But if that is possible (and it is even now), then I could link to the data of every brain for every living person via a network that allows me to use your brain as my data source. Would we have co-consciousness? I don’t know, but it seems likely to me. So if I am not limited to my brain given current technology or that will be available in the near future, then you can bet that God isn’t limited to the gray matter between his ears. How about that?

    Comment by Blake — April 5, 2008 @ 3:44 pm

  68. Blake,

    Thanks for the explanation. I don’t have much to disagree with in your comment, but I have a hard time making heads or tails of this:

    God is the perfect preserver of the past because he is embodied the physical universe as whole. In other words, in God the whole of the past is synthesized in each moment of God’s experience.

    I see that you are saying the entirety of the past is synthesized in each moment of God’s experience, but such a concept seems unfathomable to me. Can you help me figure out which of my premises you are rejecting? I have suggested that preserving the past requires some sort of storage mechanism. Earlier, Dennis Wendt was suggesting this is a mistaken notion (and I’m still hoping he comes back to respond to #60) but I am having trouble getting my mind around an alternative.

    All the stuff about joining up brains is pretty cool. I never said that God is entirely limited to the gray matter between his ears. In the post I even mentioned the idea that there could be a parallel universe devoted to data storage. Maybe God can store information in “brain format” instead of as a word doc, which would make it much nicer to use his database. My point is not that he is fantastically limited, but rather that if all spirit is matter there are interesting data management issues to consider.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 5, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

  69. Maybe he has an infinite number of Dell MD 3000s?

    Comment by Matt W. — April 6, 2008 @ 8:35 am

  70. Seriously, could we speculate that he could look at the light on the distant edge of the universe and see in the light the first instances where at least there was light? Or is that too scifi?

    Comment by Matt W. — April 6, 2008 @ 8:37 am

  71. Well Matt, I would prefer if he used something with support for RAID 6. I’d hate to go to hell based on a couple of poorly timed head crashes.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 6, 2008 @ 9:11 am

  72. Jacob: and so we see the difference between an engineer for cisco and a business analyst for Rackspace…

    [editor's note: Jacob J is not an engineer for cisco]

    Comment by Matt W. — April 6, 2008 @ 10:57 am

  73. I just love this type of thread. I think about this stuff all the time. Keep it up, fellas.

    Comment by Jeff Day — April 6, 2008 @ 10:50 pm

  74. “we presently have the technology for “brain-datalinks” where we can link the data of one brain to be accessed by another — or by a brain to a computer.”

    This “technology” will not reach its full potential as puported by the various “futurists” and “trans-humanists” out there.

    Computer memory is based on binary memory or on-off switches. The synapses are variable switches like dimmer switches that have many settings controlled via neuro-transmittors. Even if one could take a snap shot of the human memory, it would only be one switch setting at a time. One would also have to alter the switch settings between snap shots. This is made more complex because there are both global and local affects going on at the same time. For example, if one was in a fight-flight response, the working memory is narrowed down to the needs of survival, due to a global altering of the synaptic switch settings, even though the whole brain is still fully functional.

    Another problem is that computers are based on electrons. While the brain is based on hydrogen protons and the propagation of positive charge. Electrical waves move along a wire at the speed of light. While the positive charge signals are much slower. Recording electron output does not necessarily reflect the propagation of positive charge that is creating the memory making translation to computer memory subject to error.

    Another technical problem is that right hemisphere memory is spatial or 3-D , while computer logic is 2-D, i.e., cause and affect. An analogy for 3-D memory is a ball, while 2-D memory is a plane. One can approximate a 3-D ball with a range of logic planes at different angles. When 3-D memory interacts, logical planes from different 3-D balls can interact resulting in illogical results in 2-D. For example, the 3-D dynamics of falling in love is not logical yet can lead to a progressive result.

    Whereas, 2-D memory is cause and affect defined by the X,Y axis on a logical 2-D plane, 3-D memory is X, Y and Z. The Z dimension is something beyond cause and affect. Until computer programming can simulate 3-D memory, data transfer of the 3-D memory will have practical limitations with respect to its correct translation.

    There are even more advanced features of the brain that would not appear with simple snap shots. There is also a fourth dimensional variable connected to time projection. For example, falling in love only happens for a finite duration of time. The 3-D memory is time projected for a finite duration and then it stops. The result is living software 3+-D, which may not show up during scans unless the software is playing.

    The way to understand 3+-D, is that neurons can grow and shrink branches and synapses. The time projection creates a growth potential where neurons do what is needed to minimize local potential under the constraints of others potentials that are occurring. It is sort of like a thunder cloud being fed potential by the sun while also trying to lower potential via rain.

    (And don’t forget the background chemical component of our mind. Those neuroglia, formerly thought to be mere structure, it has been found in some study or another, that they actually appear to listen in on our neuro-network firing away, and possibly send chemical messages back and forth between themselves.)

    Another thing about the human mind that will make it more difficult to transfer is that the human memory is plastic instead of fixed. For example, harddrive memory is fixed and stays put. The living memory does not work exactly this way but is in flux. The living nature of the brain memory creates local and global energy fields about the plastic memories due to the cyclic firing of neurons, as reflected by brainwaves.

    The potentials within the energy fields, i.e., different memories have different potentials or carry different weight to a person, causes migrations of potential within the global fields, i.e, brain storms. This flux migration of energy can cause the plastic memory to alter within the energy flux. A snap shot today may be different than one in the near future. By then, the memory will contain an element of 20/20 hindsight that came about from the movement of the energy fields in their attempt to lower global potential.

    A good analogy is like the weather on earth. The sun or sensory systems are evaporating water, which begins to organize itself with other similar memories to form clouds. The storms and rain alter the surface of the earth, i.e., semi-fixed memory. It can wipe out areas and cause plants to grow or die due to rain or drought. Major innovations can also cause hurricanes in the energy field alterring the surface of the earth, i.e., the way we see reality. Newton’s telescope created one such hurricane.

    Now if the “futurists” could create plastic computer memory calibrating memory at different potentials or weighs, and then activate them all at the same time, the uneven energy fields will attempt to lower global potential, altering the nature of the plastic memory. If data is constantly inputted at the same time, energy fluxes will mold the dual memory leading to living computers.

    Comment by Brother Bond — April 7, 2008 @ 10:13 am

  75. “Mind is over-and-above the physical in the sense that it is not fully explainable by the properties of the physical constituents from which it emerges and has additional causal powers of downward causation.”

    If an idea were to fall in a closed forest and there is no brain there to perceive it, will its entropy be reduced?

    Comment by Brother Bond — April 7, 2008 @ 10:24 am

  76. “…Post #54….”

    I don’t think is it is possible to explain everything through algorithmic logic. Godel’s incompleteness theorems prove that any reasonably useful formal system will contains statements that can’t be explained by its logic.

    I don’t think every physical thing can be measured with arbitrary precision. This is stated by the uncertainty principle of quantum physics, and supported by much strong experimental evidence.

    Comment by Brother Bond — April 7, 2008 @ 10:31 am

  77. In response to post 76.

    Brother Bond,

    Thank you for your post.

    With regard to the Uncertainty Principle in quantum mechanics, I think you have brought up something important.

    After reading and reflecting more about quantum behavior, it made me think that God probably can’t predict exactly where an electron currently is. However, this is not fatal to the concept of predictive algorithms.

    Here is why:

    Even if God cannot isolate the exact position and momentum of a particular sub-atomic particle, he could generally predict with perfect accuracy where that electron will NOT be at any given time (i.e., it won’t be in any of the space outside of the area that is being controlled by the atomic nucleus governing that electron.)

    That kind of “gross” or “macro” level of information is enough with which to predict future events, and to manipulate matter on an atomic level and above. (It would also allow limited manipulations of sub-atomic particles.)

    It would be similar to you or me watching an ant crawling around in a tiny glass globe. We might not be able to predict exactly where in the globe the ant will go at any given time, but we can know for certain that unless certain conditions are met (like breaking the glass), the ant can never escape the confines of the globe, thus giving us quite precise and constant real-time data about where the ant is, relative to all other matter in the universe.

    We use this same kind of logic when we sit on a chair. We are predicting that the atoms and electrons will stay where they are so that when we transfer our weight to them, we won’t fall through them and hit the floor. Our “gross” or “macro” prediction of their near-future state allows us to execute very complex and precise routines. We “see” the future because we understand one of the basics algorithm that is governing matter.

    Check out the following passage below from Cleon Skousen’s talk “The Meaning of the Atonement”. I think it relates quite importantly to our discussion. (Skousen explains that he learned most of this info from Elder John A. Widstoe, who was his mission president.)

    [BEGIN QUOTE]

    Matter does not function mechanically. It has an element of finite intelligence they say. That’s what Burgeson, the French philosopher, called it. It can distinguish. It can choose. It doesn’t always do what the rules say. Same of those little elements are just as ornery as you and me. The go wandering around, and it is the aggregate, we say, that is the law of chemistry. In the aggregate, yes, but you look at them individually, and they are fooling around. As a matter of fact, Robert Milliken said that if all the elements were obeying all the rules of chemistry, you would never die. There is rebellion in the flesh, and it is called the “Seeds of Death.”

    At God’s command, the elements that have received intelligence attached to them will obey. You want a mountain to move, talk to it. God commands it, or His Priesthood does it by His authority. When God commands, those intelligences obey in the elements. That’s Jacob 4:6 and 1st Nephi 20:13.

    You listen to Brigham Young discussing this principle. “There is light or intelligence in all matter throughout the vast extent of all the eternities. It is in the rock. It is in the sand, in water, air. It is in the gases and, in short, in every description or organization of matter, whether it be solid, liquid, or gas. Particle operation with particle.” Now all of a sudden, we begin to catch the vision of this miracle of God’s creation. He goes into the outer darkness of unorganized intelligences and unorganized bits of elements and combines them together so that a little tiny bit of element has an intelligence attached to it, and now He can command it. The Lord has said, “I have given all of them a pattern which becomes the law by which they operate.”

    God speaks, and they obey. Things are made up of things that act and things that are acted upon. They have been identified for us by name, and President Kimball said that in the next world we will have access to these intelligences to organize our own great systems.

    [END QUOTE]

    I took the time to read about Godel’s theorums. Thanks for the heads up on those. I’m not certain that I understand them completely, but they did motivate me to reflect more deeply about the limitations of prediction.

    It occurs to me that there may be thresholds on prediction algorithms in terms of timeline. The algorithms may only work within certain “striking distances” of proximity data.

    For example, if you see a baseball coming at your face, you can accurately approximate when it will hit you and then you can successfully get out of the way. By being aware of the imminent collision and taking evasive action, you have “predicted” several potential futures and then manipulated physical matter in such a way as to make one of those futures come to pass. That kind of prediction and manipulation is nothing less than godlike.

    But in order to successfully make such predictions/manipulations/fulfillments, you have to have visibility/awareness of the baseball very close to the time when it is about to hit you.

    Suppose you had seen the baseball the day before, lying on the ground in a parking lot by your house. That “old” information by itself would not be of much use in helping you get out of the way of that same baseball on the next day when it was flying through the air at you. So there do seem to be proximity constraints to algorithms.

    Perhaps God has similar constraints. Maybe he can only predict the future to a certain threshold forward.

    All in all, I still think it is fair to say that the way we govern our problems and goals are the same way that God governs/accomplishes/executes his goals with matter: through intelligent algorithms of prediction and manipulation, based on slices of available real-time data. (Not using rote/brute retrieval of raw data storage of all past events).

    Additionally, since matter is combined with various levels of intelligences, if God needs to, he can command arbitrary behaviors to be executed by various groups of atoms, and they obey.

    It would seem to me that most of the time God allows things to operate within pre-designated limits, as Skousen says, according to “a pattern”, which is a synonym for algorithm. With everything running on algorithms, God can predict very precisely what will happen, and thereby tell his prophets what is going to happen, and warn us to prepare for it. But when necessary, he will use his power to adjust things and overrule the “norm.”

    Consider this passage from General Conference from 1950 (Elder R.L. Evans):

    [BEGIN QUOTE]

    You recall the experience of Jonah, that after trying to run from his responsibility he finally did what the Lord asked him to do and proclaimed that destruction should come upon Ninevah in forty days: and from the king to the lowest of his subjects there was repentance in that great city, and it was not destroyed. But Jonah, being human as well as a prophet, was somewhat disappointed that his prediction of destruction had not been fulfilled. He failed to understand, apparently, that the prediction was dependent upon obedience or disobedience, upon perversity or repentance, and that the Lord is happy to revise his timetable concerning the affairs of men on conditions of repentance.

    [END QUOTE]

    Any thoughts?

    Comment by JM — April 9, 2008 @ 5:50 am

  78. ok

    lets say that God knows everything,not because he created everything and there’s no free will,but because he exist in the past,present and futur in the same time.so what ever happened,is happening or will happen, he knows because he predicts everything acording from what he see.smaller data to store

    so the information is processed faster and easely stored.why would he want more information about eveything in the first place,maby to create perfect universes.we probably exist in an infinit amount of universes and each and every one we live in,we make different choices in life.

    Where is it stored?

    everything started from a single point(singularity)

    every life form is connect to it by our vital energy or lets say our soul,the univers is connected to it by black holes.information is sucked in.Expending every universes and linking them together like neurons in our brains.more info=expention=one perfect univers

    why?

    maybe one day every life form will will coexist in this realm next to God….here is where judgment day might fit. but what do i know hehe.

    Comment by alexander martins — April 14, 2008 @ 7:31 am

  79. “I cannot see any reason not to read D&C 88 and the relation of God’s light that acts immediately on all things as this same embodiment relation in all that exists. God has a glorified body, but is also embodied analogically in the entirety of the physical universe.”

    I maybe don’t understand the use of the word ‘analogically’ here, maybe you’ll agree with me in a way I’m not seeing. But I don’t like this last sentence. I want to object to any notion of God being embodied in a literal way outside of His body.

    I don’t see any reason not to take phrases like “as also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun” figuratively. Why insist on this as an embodiment, of any kind. You might say that I am in and through what I create, in a very meaningful way, without claiming I’m somehow embodied in my creation.

    What’s more, just a few versus later we read that this light which is Him in all things actually “proceedeth forth from the presence of God.” So, it is not His embodiment, not Him in an actual sense, but a force that emerges from where He is, where His body is. And, then, we read that this same light that has been described as God in all things is also the “law by which all things are governed” and the “power of God” who _”sitteth on His throne”_ and is “in the midst” (rather than throughout).

    The entire thrust, it seems to me, is to emphasize God’s presense in one place, and that his influence, only, can be manifest throughout the universe. So that calling that influence an embodiment seems to me both unneccesary and dangerous if it moves towards a pantheistic rather than personal and human conception of Him.

    I don’t know what this might mean to the subject in hand. I have no idea how God has access to information from the past. I do, however, think it is unneccesary to assume that every imaginable fact from the past is available to Him, simultaneously or otherwise. We read that some things are recorded in Heaven. Why not also assume that some things are not. Is it of any value to know that on day 313214007 some grain of sand was moved by a wave a certain negligble distance on one of a infinite number of planets? Of course not. So why not assume there is a threshhold of importance to the information needed about the past? And once we’ve done away with the idea that infinite information must be available, we’ve largely done away with the problem of the perceived need for infinite storage space: whether in His mind, however that is conceived, or in the books that are written, however they are conceived.

    ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — April 14, 2008 @ 8:13 am

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