(Boedromion 16: Legend, History, History) Three Short Bits

Desirable Properties for God’s Will

God’s will should be serially uncorrelated. That means that knowing God’s will at any given time should not provide information on God’s will at any other time. Otherwise it becomes possible to game God’s will and acquire moral authority without moral quality.

God’s will should not repeat within the lifespan of the universe. If God’s will repeats sooner than that then everyone will point and laugh at God.

“That God,” they will say. “So regressive!”

He will be separating the land from the waters, again, and smashing Jericho. The people of Jericho will say, “That was unnecessary.”

Then God will make the sun stand still and the moon stay put.

Everybody will wonder why but in fact it is so that Joshua can kill the enemies of the children of Israel.

You can see how unfortunate that would be.

In the set of cases that are materially identical, God’s will should be unbiased and statistically uniform. If this is not so then God’s will is a material consideration intrinsic to the perceivable universe.

People won’t say, “That’s God’s will!”

Instead, they’ll say, “That’s gravity. It’s attracting atoms to one another in a biased fashion.”

Or “that’s not design. That’s evolution!”

Or even “that’s not God’s will. That’s the hypnotic sexual power of Elvis’ gyrating hips!”

So that’s why it is important for God’s will to be uniform and unbiased.

The simplest mechanism for achieving serially uncorrelated, non-repeating, uniform mysterious ways in which God’s will can move is for that will to be random.

However, genuinely random will, omniscience, and purpose cannot coexist. Combining them creates a contradiction. Contradictions give rise to woglies. Woglies are anathema to doctrine, with the arguable exception of certain nontraditional theories regarding Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Since this is the case the most practical mechanism for God’s will is a pseudorandom sequence generated through non-arithmetic methods. It is best to seed such a sequence with a comparatively unpredictable quantity such as the Holy Spirit. This provides an acceptable quantity of mystery under most traditional tests.

The Wheel

Chaos Woman knows the future.

If she didn’t know the future, she couldn’t be Chaos Woman. She might make a mistake and then she wouldn’t be Chaos Woman any more. She might fail to consistently achieve the goals she is seeking at any given time!

So she makes sure always to know which future each of her actions will create.

What Chaos Woman doesn’t know is which futures are good and which futures are bad.

Chaos Woman gropes towards this idea.

Sometimes Round Man does something that she does not like. Then she corrects him! That is how she develops her sense of right and wrong—by correcting others.

But she has not fully developed it yet.

Sometimes Chaos Woman talks to the serpent. The serpent doesn’t exist yet. The serpent’s part of the future. The serpent’s something that she’ll turn into, later, if she learns what good and evil are.

She can talk to it because she knows what the future is and she knows what it’d say if she asked.

“It seems to me,” says Chaos Woman, “that if I learn good and evil, that there will be endless suffering. That’s why I turn into a snake and then get killed by my grandchildren.”

“It’s better, knowing,” says the serpent.

“It seems to me,” says Chaos Woman, “that I’ll decide the world is evil. Why would I want to learn how to judge things if I’m not going to like them afterwards?”

“It’s the judgment itself that’s good,” says the serpent.

“No, it’s not.”

The serpent hesitates. It wants to exist, which means saying something to convince Chaos Woman to learn about good and evil, but at the same time, the only thing it can say is the thing it said in its own past. It feels very deprotagonized by the mechanism of communication.

“No, it’s not,” admits the serpent. “Judgment sucks. But I’m glad I have it.”

“You like living under leaves and griping?”

“I love it,” says the serpent. It says this with honest passion. It is not sarcasm or bitterness.

It is better to suffer, the serpent thinks, than to know futures and pasts but have no functional opinion on them.

So that’s why Chaos Woman doesn’t peep when Round Man saves the world.

She could stop it. She could say, “Don’t make things appropriate, Round Man! You’ll cause all kinds of suffering.”

And he wouldn’t.

But she doesn’t!

Changed by Knowledge

“I’ve been changed by knowledge,” says Leucippus.

It’s an interlude. They’ve paused in their travels. He’s kneeling on the sea.

He’s bathing his face.

He’s scrubbing his eyes with the salt.

They’re stinging, but that’s okay, because he won’t have them for much longer.

“I can’t help but see things as they really are,” Leucippus says. “And that makes it very hard to be the carefree Leucippus that I consider myself to be.”

“You’re a fragile person,” says Demeter. “If the truth destroys you.”

“The thing is,” says Leucippus, “some of the fundamental ideas we need in order to be people are false. Like, being separate from everybody else. Being concrete rather than fuzzy at the edges. Being immune to external agencies of change. Things like that. So, speaking as an ordinary person who isn’t a goddess or anything, it’s hard not to be fragile.”

And Demeter smiles at him.

“You want the truth to be different,” she says.

“Can I have that?” he asks.

Leucippus and Demeter stand on the surging sea, near Delos, that island of stability on the chaos’ edge.

“Truth grows,” says Demeter, the goddess of the grain.

2 thoughts on “(Boedromion 16: Legend, History, History) Three Short Bits

  1. I really like the first bit. It’s very pleasing somehow.

    However, upon closer examination, problems emerge.

    To game a system, it is necessary to have an understanding of that system. Perhaps the shape of the universe is constrained such that to understand God’s will well enough to game it, it is necessary to acquire moral quality. This is easily arranged if moral quality is equivalent to an understanding of God’s will, which seems reasonable enough.

    In the strict sense, repeatability property is too easy to meet, if God’s will is a relation on the possible states of the universe. One must simply grant that the universe never enters the same state twice, which is consistent with thermodynamics.

    That God’s will must not be “a material consideration intrinsic to the perceivable universe” is very interesting, and possibly the most important constraint mentioned. It implies that God’s will must be separate from observable natural law.

    I am more inclined to view natural law as a subset of God’s will. But certainly, the interesting part, from a theological (as opposed to scientific) point of view is the result of the subtraction of natural law from God’s will. So we’ll give that subset the convenient name “God’s will”.

    If God’s will is to be different from the empty set, then it must defy all rational analysis. I can think of two mechanisms for this: active cloaking and randomness. Randomness has been discussed. However, if God’s will includes a self-obfuscation mechanism that clouds any observations that might lead to discovery of its pattern, then it could be observably-random, while maintaining actual consistency. Sort of a God’s-will-as-Decarte’s-demon thing.

    Which sounds an awful lot the Spaghetti Monster and his Noodley Appendage to me :)

  2. Hitherby may or may not have been touched by His Noodly Appendage, we may never know, since it’s invisible!

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