Thursday, January 10, 2008

Moral Entropy, Bonehead Math, and the Open Cosmos (1.13.11)

Bolton writes that -- and I'm not saying I agree with him yet, I'm just using it as a point of departure for this morning's post -- "when cosmic reactions are due, they do not necessarily happen all at once to everyone who deserves them, or in easily recognized patterns." I'm guessing that in small, premodern communities, the workings of the Law -- i.e., karma -- were much easier to discern. In the modern world, there are so many additional layers of causality, that reactions to actions can go unappreciated because they are so delayed and distorted. It's probably similar to voting. Your vote obviously has much more impact in your local city election than it does nationally. You're the same size, but your vote -- and therefore your causal influence -- is larger and more direct.

Whatever the case may be, Bolton insists that the Law must exist, because it is rooted in a much deeper principle -- you know, one of those principles that "cannot not be": "namely, that the world-order is moral, despite all contrary appearances." I suppose it can get confusing, because the point is that the whole cosmic system is moral, even though experience of seeming exceptions may fool us into believing this isn't the case. However, in this regard, it may be analogous to the second law of thermodynamics, which -- according to physicists -- can never be violated on the macro scale, local appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

In other words, in the material cosmos, entropy is da' law. What about organic life? Or evolution? Or increased complexity? Aren't these obvious exceptions to the law of entropy? Not according to physics. In fact, the pioneering work of Ilya Prigogine in chaos theory demonstrated how non-linear self-organizing systems can only increase their complexity because of the existence of entropy, which they "dissipate" by maintaining disequilibrium and openness to the environment, but only up to a point. To put it another way, open systems at disequilibrium -- that would be you and me, for example -- are able to dissipate entropy and therefore maintain dynamic order. Until they don't. Life is a fugitive from the law of entropy, and when entropy finally catches up, you die. This is why everyone is so nervous. Wouldn't you be?

However, there is no unsane reason you cannot turn this formulation back on its feet, and affirm that entropy can only exist in a cosmos that is fundamentally ordered. In other words, it seems obvious that entropy is always parasitic on order, not vice versa. And where did all the a priori order come from? Physicists are not permitted say, since -- ironically -- they operate in a totally closed system in which no influences from outside the system are permitted. This is an assumption that science can never prove, on pain of making Gödel spin in his grave, which cannot happen, since he has been at complete thermal equilibrium since 1978.

I personally believe -- and Petey agrees with me -- that it is preposterous to suggest that the deep order -- say, those 20 mathematical parameters that govern the character and development of the physical universe, discussed in my book, which is now down to #470,452 on amazon, thanks a lot -- came from "entropy," or from complete cosmic equilibrium. This cannot happen, for the same reason I flunked trigonometry in the 12th grade -- that is, you cannot derive higher mathematics from complete emptiness and utter indifference. (This follows from the big bong theory, which I don't have time to explain at the moment.) Seriously, it's like suggesting that God had to take a bonehead math course at Pierce Junior College in 1975, to pick a date at random.

No, it's worse than that. It's like insisting that the cosmos was created from "nothing" instead of Nothing -- which makes all the difference, "difference" being the very opposite of entropy. You could even say that God makes all the difference, which is certainly what Genesis teaches, in that the very first act -- the act which makes any subsequent action possible -- is to separate. Just try googling "genesis separation chaos judaism," and watch how google instantaneously organizes the chaos of cyberspace into metaphysical truth at your fingertips, just like an echo of Genesis.

Again, we are not denying entropy, only putting it in its proper place. For one thing, if entropy did not exist, we could not have freedom, for the universe would either be the "pure order" of a machine or a pure absence of order -- a chaosmos, not a cosmos. Entropy is a middle term without which we could not get from here to there, not a final term that allows us to go nowhere. For example, the reason why the Commandments were necessary was to keep moral entropy in check. Left to his own deviceings, man will morally dissipate. But this surely doesn't mean that moral dissipation is the inevitable end of man. Rather, the soul may journey toward perfection because of entropy.

Man always lives his life in relation to value, "value" being the essence of quality, which can never be reduced to quantity. To live in relation to value is to live teleologically and to therefore allow oneself to be shaped by influences from "above" or from "the future." Now, are these transcendent values "permanent truths," like the truths of mathematics, or are they just worthless artifacts to be worn away by the sands of entropy? Is it true that we shouldn't murder, or is it no more real than a rainbow?

In the real world, entropy exists. In fact, you could say that this is one of the lessons of Genesis 3. There is no entropy in paradise -- no death, no knowledge of duality, no separation from the Principle, no need for junior college. I remama that warm little womb, don't you? But then I was bearthed and begaialed and bodhied out. And here I sattva, or try to anyway, despite my book sales drifting toward total entropy.

So in the end, predestination is indistinguishable from strict scientism, which are both just sloppy solipsisms and slippery solecisms. To quote Bolton, "When everything is believed to happen because of natural forces alone without relation to value, the experience of the validity of belief is cut off from the outside world, and made exclusively part of the individual's relation to him or herself." And "If all consequences of beliefs and actions had to await the hereafter, the result would be an impassable divide between the temporal life and the eternal..."

Just so, if actions and their consequences have no moral value, then existential entropy is absolute and man can never become what he is: "A world in which anything could happen to anyone would be one in which the natural order was inherently amoral, and the commandments of religion would not make any concrete difference. Far from meaning an openness to Providence, it would really mean no Providence at all" (Bolton).

The "good news" of religion is that the world is not a closed circle, that it is not an eternal prison, that it has an exit and an entrance.... "Perdition" is to be caught up in the eternal circulation of the world of the closed circle... [whereas] "salvation" is life in the world of the open circle, or spiral, where there is both exit and entrance. --Meditations on the Tarot


Anonymous said...

And with a crack of the bat it's a long drive to center field,it's going, going - It's outa here, Bob hits yet another home run at the OC ballpark. One for the record books folks.

Nova said...

What's the expression?

Fuckin A

Well done Bob. More later, just boarding.

NoMo said...

"Predestination" is such a (as Bob would say) "saturated" word. I prefer Paul's definition here and here.

Perhaps God doesn't value everyone the same. He clearly chose whomever he willed over time to join into specific covenants with him. Where did we ever get the notion that every human is equal in the eyes of the one who created them all?

I don't mean to stir things up or anything...OK, I do.

debass said...

"Where did we ever get the notion that every human is equal in the eyes of the one who created them all?"
The Declaration of Independence.

robinstarfish said...

How To Become Invisible
footprints disappear
as fast as i can make them
praise the snow maker

Anna said...

Free Snow Tromp

snow on snow, silent
fall, retrace steps through patterned
clear... steps and snow - one.

Anonymous said...

Wait, wait? Vishnu, Shiva, ying, yang, entropy and order, just duals of each other? If order is the dual space of entropy??? Kind of like looking at the figure or the ground? Hmmm... but it feels like logic games, not terribly important in my little world.

Anna said...


not to presume, but no, it is that risk makes growth/movement (for lack of better word here) possible.

limited time (at the moment) is yielding short post!

Van Harvey said...

First comes what Jim Said,
Then must be as Smoov declared,
All else falls in place.

Van Harvey said...

I’m trying to rescue a project which the person who 'is no longer with the company' seems to have created as an experiment in rapidly dissipating entropy – and nearly at the end of the week given to do it. While the last successful 7 day project I know of that worked, worked out pretty well… that Developer was a bit more senior than I am.

Computers would be great... if we could just get rid of all of the programmers who try to think like computers (randomly activated bits of bytes), instead of like people (coherent and purposefully).

Entropy check please!

(groan... pass the Starbucks)

Anonymous said...

On CSPAN this weekend:

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
Jonah Goldberg explores the political theories of fascism and contends that there are several corollaries between the politics of the left and fascist ideology. Mr. Goldberg presents his book at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC.
(Saturday 10 PM, Sunday 3:30 AM and 10 AM, Monday 1 AM ET)

Also of interest, if ya like to explore Whack-jobs:

Cathy Wilkerson was a member of the 1960's radical political group the Weathermen. In her memoir, Flying Close to the Sun, Ms. Wilkerson recounts her middle-class upbringing and her introduction to radical politics. She examines the inner-workings of the Weathermen and describes the morning of March 6, 1970, when three members of the organization were killed in an explosion in Ms. Wilkerson's family home.
She discusses her book with Congressman Bobby Rush, Democratic representative from the First Congressional District of Illinois and former Black Panther.

Saturday 9 PM, Sunday 6 PM and 9 PM, Monday 12 AM ET

Anonymous said...


"Cathy Wilkerson was a member of the 1960's radical political group the Weathermen. In her memoir, Flying Close to the Sun, Ms. Wilkerson recounts her middle-class upbringing and her introduction to radical politics."

So they're back at it again huh? Must be the Clinton/Obama fever.
I remember sitting on the highway waiting at a railroad crossing for a train to pass and listening to NPR. They had a male member of that group pimping his book and discussing their activities. I couldn't believe what I was hearing and especially outraged that NPR would give him a platform. He spoke as if their activities were right up there with baseball (or soccer in your case), Mom, apple pie and Chevrolet. He had aquired a teaching position somewhere and the hubris exuded by this guy was amazing. Around that time I also saw some reference to his book on the internet, etc..
About a week later, 9/11/2001, and this guy crawled back into his hole, never to be heard from again.
I see they consider it safe to slither out from under the rock pile again.

Anonymous said...

Nomo, Calvinism is a dead end.

NoMo said...

Anon - Who's Calvin? The Apostle Paul wrote that stuff. I'm seriously curious about what he meant. Can you tell me?

Van Harvey said...

Thanks for that C-SPAN heads up Ximeze! That one's going into the TivO right now.

Speaking of C-SPAN, last weekend, they had a talk by Strobe Talbot promoting his book 'The Great Experiment', State Dept. egghead of the Clinton era, who made a number of matter-of-fact statements about the coming elimination all individual Nations, to make way for a single global gov't. He also reverently commented on the essay by Kant that I mentioned a couple weeks ago, "Perpetual Peace" which has been behind most such utopian ideals.

"Sort of sent a shiver up my spine, because when I was studying philosophy, at Yale... I don't remember if Pres. Bush was in the class or not [pause for fellow a-hole snickering] and eh.. uh... er.. being intimidated, to put it mildly, by the concept of the categorical imperative, and the difference between an empirical and an apriori proposition ...and I hope that no one here or anywhere else will quiz me on that ... but that's not the aspect of Immanuel Kant that I focused on, but what is striking to me, is his political writing, and particularly his project for Perpetual Peace, which visualized in a prophetic way the essence of what we know as NATO (!!!???)... the EU and even the United Nations...." yadda yadda yadda blah blah blah.

The categorical imperative is Kant’s basis for ethical behavior, such as Never Lie, even if a murder is at your door looking for your daughter and asks if she is home, you still must not lie. This is the unthinking reality that the MSM smears religious people for believing and thinking as, Literalist, deterministic, unthinking mind numbed robots, making a mockery of Ethics - and it is at the very root of all of their thought. And most often, people like Talbot who are shaping the structure and policies of our Gov't, are operating under the influence of Ideas whose meaning they didn't grasp, but follow it anyway, and reverently follow Kant’s more 'comprehensible' blueprints for the in-depth ordering of entire peoples lives.

Entropy indeed.

Anna said...


I've given that one some thought (the lying example) and realized that the murderer takes himself out of the moral community and therefore disqualifies himself. The only answer you can give him is "no" because it is not really the answer you are giving him. It is a hidden larger statement. The loyalty is to those who are following the moral code. You don't dignify his question as legitimate.

This is what I came up with and I'm sure you and everyone might have a better answer and can find a hole in my scenario and it might be merely that the hypothetical problem presupposes anemic thought, as you point out.

[I realize addressing the example may be a side bar.]

Anna said...

I should add the class in which this problem was presented was one I sat in on at UCLA and was regarding the "moral community" so I used that term as it was part of the debate in the class.

Anonymous said...

Right after posting that comment, off I went to the Library to pick up Flying Close to the Sun.

First page of intro = already trotting out justifications. I can see I'm gonna have to read this book with waders-on, a barf-bag & not before bed, cause I'm already really, really pissed-off..... & only on pg 2 of the introduction.

Don't miss who is interviewing her for that piece, either.

Book jacket says she's been teaching Math in the NY school system for the last 20 years. So much for changing the world with your violent revolution, bozo. Off she went & got hereself a 'safe' job, buried within The Establishment.

Unbearable phonies, the lot of them.

debass said...

You don't have to lie. You shoot the SOB and then answer "yes".

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Debass said...
You don't have to lie. You shoot the SOB and then answer "yes".

Damn straight! :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Nomo said:
"4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he [a] predestined us for adoption to sonship [b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."

Yes, but we must also choose Him.
I believe Paul, in these verses, and the verses from Romans, is basicall talking about two things, irt your question:
Destiny and Potential.

Yes, we have the potential to reach our Destiny.
God is Justice, therefor He cannot impose His will upon ours (without making us robots), because that would violate His laws, and destroy Liberty (free will).

We must choose our Destiny (or predestiny) (with many destinies betwixt) to fulfill our Destiny.

IOW's, Free will IS what God predestined for man.
That's the foundation of our journey towards Destiny, because without it there is no purpose.

Of course God wants us to be His sons and daughters, and much more, but we must also want that.

God is not a respecter of persons comes to mind.
But our choices have consequences; good or bad depending on our choices and our heart, and if we are aligning ourselves to Truth.

That being said, God obviously doesn't randomely choose specific covenants with individuals IMO.
Theres far more to it than that.

And does God really value say Gideon more than you or I?
That may be how we see it, from a limited perspective, but I don't think so.
His Love for us is perfect, and Love responds to love freely given.

Does a father or mother value one of their children more than another?
Most parents do their best not to.

The perfect Parent would never do that.
That's not to say that parents or children don't value each other based on any number of choices we make, but God would not, could not do that.
We however, could and often do.

Perhaps value, in this case, would better be described as quality.
Doesn't the Master pay all the workers the same wages?

Anyhow, much much more could be said about this I reckon, and Bob is sayin' it better than I could.

Like you said, it is saturated all right, but it won't break any laws. I think the key here is how we value God, because we have a good idea how much He values us. :^)

Van Harvey said...

debass said "You don't have to lie. You shoot the SOB and then answer "yes".

OH! Oatmeal ISS!!!

Very good, very true.

But assuming you don't have the gun handy (or a giant weight suspended above his head, a trap door beneath his feet or tigers to release - Walt, go ahead, I'll let you have this one), there's also the issue of, does he have a right to a truthful answer? Is he a madman or the Sherrif? Is the country America or Nazi Germany? Context matters, and 'categorical imperatives' serve only to deny and destroy your ability to live and act in the world as a thinking and honest person.

Is Truth served and deepened by your answer or disintegrated? The question needn't be so drastic, how about a co-worker asking you about something someone you love considers personal and private? Do they have any right to that information? In that context, to give them that information, to behave as if their curiosity is of more substance than your relationship and the trust you've built with your loved one, would do far more to destroy and disintegrate than develop and integrate Truth and value in your life.

On the other hand, if it is a Sheriff, and it is America, and you know the loved ones secret implicates them in an unjustified crime - not giving them the Truth would be wrong, would be disintegrating the larger sense of what is Good and True.

On the other hand... (what we need is a good one handed philosopher....)

Context, judgment, and a firm grasp on the wider hierarchies are what is important - not some fools 'categorical imperative' which is based on what will have NO benefit for you, as a primary consideration - if it benefits you in anyway, it is not moral!(look him up).

Yuck - Kant in the morning. Pass the coffee.

NoMo said...

Ben - Thanks, I truly appreciate hearing the varied views of those mysterious and amazing passages. I probably put less emphasis on our choice than on our faith.

debass said...

I agree that some people don't deserve the truth.
Also, being familiar with our legal system, I don't know that they deserve the truth either. From my experience, they don't want the truth but are only interested in a story line that fits their agenda at the moment.
I try to tell the truth. However, I usually only tell it to people that want to hear it. Which means I don't say anything until someone asks, honest.
This blog is a good example. Most people here are truthful although we use a fake name and there is no way to verify what people say about themselves or others. But we trust each other to be truthful about what we believe.

Anna said...

I said...You don't [i.e. should not] dignify his question as legitimate.

I think this is key. His question is an illegitimate question. To answer "yes" means you participate, gratify, endorse the insanity of the question and the asker gets (the gift of) the truth on a technicality which is what the categorical imperative does.

I like what Van said - "a firm grasp on the wider hierarchies are what is important."

Questions can set up categories, corner people, and be used as a manipulative (control) technology.

This may be QUITE REPETITIVE but in the lucidity of the morning, in addition to the comments posted, I am further rested on my case.

The thing is, in the class, the professor was all "tied in knots" and I wonder if it was a show and he knew what he was doing - in the bad sense. The class was spinning circles and it seemed to everyone a really tough question. It's not.

It really is a ratty hypothetical and is from some Bermuda Trapezoid Land of the technically correct. It kind of says, "I got ya and now I'm gonna eat ya. Ha ha ha." And the innocent perish upon pressure in the name of doing the right thing. No, that's not innocence, it's flaccid; you gotta be, what is it?

Matt 10:16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

And the preceding portion (Matt. 10:11-15) may actually apply as well.

Anna said...

This categorical imperative is like a kidnapper who preys upon a child and says, "Tell me, where's your mommy?" or whatever he/she says to gain access/get the kid in the car or whatnot.

Anna said...

An undeserving thief!