God is INFORMATION

. . . is the breakthrough that I made this week while drinking heavily with an old friend. What do you think, my dear Bento?

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7 thoughts on “God is INFORMATION”

  1. Well, I think you’re right. This is another area in which Spinoza was stunningly prescient — his concept of natura naturans and natura naturata. Natura naturans deftly describes the logic that underpins the mathematics of the universe, and natura naturans describes the concretization of that logic through the laws of physics into the actual universe we are part of. In this sense, Mathematics is very much the mind of God (the thought attribute of God) and matter/energy becomes all the stuff that has the extension attribute.

    Interestingly, string theory and its most recent alternatives (like Loop Quantum Gravity) are all returning to a system where physics is seen as concretized maths — mathematics given extension, if you will. LQG in particular lends itself to seeing the universe as a massive parallel computer, a shuffler of bits — indeed, a processor of information. And if God is defined as being intrinsic to the universe, then indeed God is synonymous with information.

    And finally, let’s not forget entropy, our common enemy. Entropy increases over time in the universe — we need less and less information to describe the universe as a whole, as its energy slowly disperses into a homogeneous fog — a “heat death”, it is called — even while we at the local level temporarily manage to build ever more complex information structures.

    One possible outcome, then, is that eventually the universe will contain no more information — heralding the death of God, if you will. Our human strivings and the complexities that arise out of them could then be viewed as contributing to the life of God, or doing God’s work, or doing what is necessary according to our nature — which Spinoza goes on to equate with virtue.

    I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “God” that frequently in a piece of writing.

    — Bento

  2. You seem to grasp what I mean. Let me expound a bit, for my own purposes. I was unable to fill in much of the wide spaces around the sudden conclusion with any actual thought. If I sound like I am lecturing, forgive me, I am lecturing myself. I just have to write it down somewhere.

    We know that in the Ethics, Spinoza describes god as synonymous with Nature. It, god (note lack of gender and capitalisation) is the singularity at the end of all the chains of cause and effect which create the world we understand and think we exist in.

    Most of the external and our internal world are effects of this prime cause. There are primary effects, and secondary effects, and presumably tertiary and whatever sorts of effects. I can’t quite remember what we are.

    We are able to gain some adequate understanding of god and nature. In fact, it is our “function” — though “function” is the wrong word and indicates some intent, some plan. It is just what we do, or should do: understanding nature and god is the prime expression of what we are. It is what gives us our greatest joy, the permanent bliss Spinoza thought was achieveable in life.

    So it is clear that gathering information on god is significant in the philosophy. Moreover with my 21st century mind I tend to understand nature or god as a set of rules that govern the interactions of the effects from that prime cause. If you like, we’re talking about the laws of physics, though I would imagine it as a bit more important than that. Universe DNA or something.

    That’s pure information, of course. So far, so bleeding obvious. But it would be information that works in the medium of physical states. And as far as I know (in fact, I should say as far as I think I may understand it), and as you make clear (again, insofar as I think you do), quantum theory includes the idea of the absolute conservation of information.

    Which is why I am a little confused by the existence of entropy. I have read somewhere though that even in entropical (sp?) states information is preserved, just in forms that are unreadable or inaccessible to us.

    So according to your string/quantum theory, information cannot “die”. Or rather, as Steven Hawking would have had it until he lost his famous bet, cannnot leak into other universes. Like god. And the core information from which extends all the attributes around us is god. God is information.

    In fact I think that alternative universes are not admissible in core Spinozism. I may write more on this later.

  3. Your remark about information being preserved, but not being accessible to us, is interesting. I need to investigate more.

  4. Awesome. I came to this conclusion on my own, then googled “god is information”, and viola, here we are. I need to look into this Spinozism more.

  5. This is strange, I was reading Spinoza some time ago, and only recently it settled into my mind that “God is word” , and that “God is word” can be translated into God is Information… then I found this link on Google, the source of my thinking was almost the same, the theological tractatus – Spinoza: “The evolution of definition of God goes with evolution of human society, in Bible it is from: God is Jahvey in the Old testament, to, God is word in the New testament.”

    Interesting, but I don’t like describing God as a set of mathematical formulas… feels little bit “dry”….

  6. I also found this site by googling “god is information.” Very cool!

    But I do not agree that Spinoza’s arguments logically follow. God is not lifeless. It also does not follow that everything done by humans is excellent.

    More logically, the arguments for natural law from Cicero arise out of this “information.” Thus, the US Constitution flows from recognition of truth in this ‘information’ (God).

    God, as information, needed a way to show the truth to the world, thus creating Jesus. Then to reveal it to each individual, the Holy Spirit continues to speak to each of us.
    If I was information, if I was truth, if I was the way the truth and the life, this is the way I would do it so it makes perfect sense to me! :-)

  7. Fascinating!
    I too typed “god is information” and arrived here. My comment is for all those who do the same (and I hope the authors above will return here from time to time.
    First – what actually *is* information?
    The most fundamental answer is that it is difference – a single difference making one bit of information (see the work of L. Floridi). More interesting is what makes *meaningful* information; because it is this which has function (i.e. has effects with non trivial range in space and time). ‘Meaning’ describes the resonance-like effect of mutual reinforcement, by selection, of two or more pieces of information. Selection creates meaning out of ‘fog’ of entropic (random) information. ‘Meaning’ has the slightly bizarre property of spontaneous creation – more meaning is created than the sum of the parts. This is analogous to amplification by resonance. The universe’s present form is the result of a huge number of encounters among ‘packages of difference’ creating clusters of meaningful information. We should not think of meaning as a noun, but rather as a verb, describing the phenomenon of information resonance (see essays in Principia Cybernetica for explanations of this). Meaningful information has been proliferating since the big bang in the abiotic universe.
    With the dawn of life, the creation of semantic information dramatically accelerated. This information was about how to make chemical processing machines that carried and reproduced the information needed to make them. With the development (by life) of information processing machines (first brains and then a product of their work – computers), information made another great break-through. In this we see a progression of information from the thermodynamic (e.g. stars), through the coded (e.g. in DNA) self-replicating, to the information mediated creation (synthesis) using physical coding and physical information processing machines (e.g. brains).
    As far as we are aware, we humans are the greatest concentration of meaningful information in the universe to-date. We are not separate from it, indeed on an informational level we are seamlessly a part of it and interconnected deeply with the whole.
    It is possible (though not necessary!) to see the increase of meaning through time since the big bang, and our role in it, as the unfolding of god. This vision certainly chimes with the mystics of the Axial age who emphasised oneness, interconnectedness, the centrality of meaning and the special importance of the human soul in relationship with god. For Aristotle the sole was equivalent to the form – the semantic information that defines a thing as what it is. We can conceive god as the ultimate meaning of the universe: the, yet to be realised, culmination of all information in a single ‘resonating’ whole of ultimate meaning. God is the plan and the realisation of this. By our actions we can help it (creative harmonious actions) or we can side with disorder, entropy, destructive forces to harm it.
    I am fascinated that this idea of God as meaning brings the physics of information so close to the insights of Axial wisdom – Buddhism, Greek rationalism and the monotheistic religions and their thinkers.

    Here is my conclusion:
    The universe has a direction and this is because it is revealing the ultimate truth as it evolves. We are (as far as we know) the latest development on that path – the most concentrated and productive information processing entities of the universe. But we are part of it, in space and time and also in the total information structure of the universe, to which we are completely connected and on which we are completely dependent. Although we rarely use it, we have within us the ability to transcend selfishness (the illusion of isolation) and to become a part of everything. That is what the religious masters have been saying. The original information at the start of the universe set all this in motion – it is the message, god and made by god, we are part of that message and we seem to be the first things in the universe that can know it.

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