Arbtirary thoughts on nearly everything from a modernist poet, structural mathematician and functional programmer.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

haha... Good times

Today's sinfest (10 Aug, 08) contains a brief retelling of the Gospel... In comedic form... with a terminator parody.

On evolutionary models...

I was thinking about evolution on the way home this morning. It bugs me, because Darwin really didn't say anything at all. There's nothing profound, nothing insightful about it. It is a general model for change. "The object most suitable to it's current environment will be the one that survives best, and small changes accumulate (somehow), such that new objects will have traits which suit the new environment better, thus prospering." The object can be an animal, a theory, or anything else; the environment can be any type of environment; the changes can form and be accumulated based on any set of rules.
In essence, it says things change, and certain things change "better" than others.

This is why there is social darwinism, memetics, Popper's Knowledge evolution, etc. I realize that rather than falsifying evolution it provides some circumstantial evidence, but that's not the point. The point is: it doesn't say anything. What we now call social darwinism actually predates the theory of evolution-- in fact, Darwin made an argument that can roughly be summarized as "We all know this sort of change happens in the economic realm, why not here? It's really the same sort of evolution."

You can apply the idea to literally anything that changes. Philosophy, science, marketing, pop culture, art, etc, etc-- Figure out the (intellectual/cultural/economic/political) environment, and you can see why the "victors" are the things that grew.

Is it easier to believe that the universe precisely follows simple, elegant and human discoverable laws, or that we impose simple and elegant structures on an unstructured (or weakly structured... or, dare I say, inelegantly structured) universe? What happens if the universe is simply, but inelegantly structured? If the different pieces sort of "klunk" together, rather than flowing smoothly? Can we really, actually, imagine our universe working that way? Or working according to rules that humans can't discover?

We do it because we need to impose structure on our universe in order to understand it. We cannot cope with-- cannot advance in-- a world without order. So we impose structures on our universe. Obviously, the elegant ones are the easiest to deal with. And this is where memetics/knowledge evolution come from: we learn to use more advanced structures to model the phenomena we are seeing, thus allowing us to account for more of the intricacies.

It's the smart ones who can impose structures on anything that go crazy and search for codes in the newspaper. The idea that there are a few simple laws in the background of all of the workings of the universe isn't that different from the idea that there are a few people in the background of all the workings of man, is it? What's the difference between Templar conspiracies and the search for the TOE? Humans are fickle, while universal laws can't decide-- they can only act?

On another note, I'm finally creating a "science" tag. I'll retroactively place posts in it at some point.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My Servant Whom I love...

Isaiah 42:1-4:
Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chose one in whom I delight;
I will put my spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope.

The note in my Bible says:
There is a twofold account of the coming Servant:
He is represented (1) as weak, despised, rejected, slain; and also (2) as a mighty conqueror, taking vengeance on the nations and restoring Israel. The former class of passages relate to the first advent and are fulfilled; the latter, to the second advent and are unfulfilled.

The chapter goes on with words similar to Isaiah 61: "to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness."

I'm not sure if I agree with the note in Bible, about the second description being unfulfilled. I think that the idea that the "Coming Kingdom" is outside of our hands allows a lot of laziness within Christians. While that interpretation is not wrong, and is certainly not unBiblical, it does miss something. As with anything, especially the Scripture, there are multiple levels to anything-- multiple interpretations-- all of which must be taken into account. I am a firm believer that the nature of God has not and will not change; So Our Lord must have been a conqueror from the start. We must, as his followers be diligent, and conquer. But not, as those loyal to earthly kings, in a physical way. The battles we fight are not for land or lives or power. Nor are they intellectual battles, whose purpose is to spread knowledge of truth. They are battles of the Spirit, whose purpose is to spread the experience of Love.

Perhaps the note is correct, and that those things are unffulfilled, but if that is the case, it is only because we, as His Kingdom, have not fulfilled the prophesy.
Creative Commons License Cory Knapp.