21 December 2004
Comments on Formalization of "Sin"
- / -
Selected comments on: Towards
a logico-mathematical formalization of "sin": Fundamental memetic
organization of faith-based governance strategies
Lynnclaire Dennis, Founder, Mereon
12 December 2004
My understanding is that at its most fundamental level, 'sin'
simply means to 'forget'...
it seems to me that remedying this, is the core issue facing humanity...
our world has been turned inside out by millennia of being told
that those on the outside have the key to what is on our inside...
that the divine is an absentee landlord 'watching us from the
for too long our quest as been to 'get', find, or acquire, searching
outside of ourselves for god, matter or approval...
tragically, the politics of religion and religions based politics
has too long wrought havoc on the planet, its Janusian nature now being more
fully revealed. My dynamic believing is that the knowledge to reverse this,
has been revealed whether we deserve it or not; for any mere mortal to be the
messenger of such, is certainly a significant part of the 'whether we deserve
it or not' equation. Mereon's complex geometry with the knot being the simple
path of the dynamics of these three embedded spheres is without reservation
revealing new understanding regarding the authentic nature of life and the dynamics
of our universe. Thus, it is most certainly revealing something of the individual
spirit; how all matter is linked via a common Pattern, energy emitted from the
Energy of a single Source, a Universal Soul.....
Perhaps Mereon is here to cut us a new key, one that will release
us from 'sin'... here to help us remember what we have forgotten... who we are...
humankind. What we are... light. Our purpose for being here... to free ourselves
by unfreezing our light. How to do this.... by first turning inward and then
returning in the light of authenticity, compassion and justice. Only by honoring
our uniqueness and celebrating our sameness can we re-member and appreciate
the bond that connects us, One and all. in the light of remembrance there is
abundance, light and water for all
Response from Tony Judge:
12 December 2004
I have no disagreement with your take on the matter.
The question is how to empower people to remember. I have a concern that people
easily slip into articulating *motherhood cliches* that encourage them to think
that they and others have done all the remembering they need to do.
The sin thing sharpens the focus -- because few of us fail to forget most of
the time. Hence my text.
On the other hand, within your own framework, my concern is the bridge between
the structures in which we respectively delight and the anchoring of their insights
in operational organizations that reflect those insights in new modes of action.
Here I see little in practice and much in principle.
My saying of the week for myself is: We can eat without recipes -- whether
well or badly. But we cannot eat recipes. Unfortunately much of what we all
do is write new recipes without relating them to the food to which people have
Please understand that I am talking to myself -- which is why it is my saying
of the week!
A Heelan (Gaston Professor of Philosophy Georgetown University Washington,
19 December 2004
Tony, This is fascinating stuff. In my opinion it is not so much
related to sin in the best Christian sense, but rather that it is related to
failure, disorder, chaos, etc. and all the things that catastrophe theory talks
about, which, as natural events, are subject to human questioning and to scientific
modeling and exploration.
- From the philosophical/scientific point of view, the question catastrophe
theory is answering is: What is the role of failure or 'perceived failure'
(relative to the possibility of human control) within the economy of nature
and human life? How is it to be described (as formally non-describable?);
Is it possible that some forms of chaos have a formal explanatory structure
such as, say, that given by catastrophe theory? However, these questions/answers
can be extended (metaphorically) to the moral and religious orders.
- From the moral and social points of view: What relation have different
kinds of faults, failures, etc. to human responsibility?
- From the religious point of view, How could a good God make such a fault-ridden
(physical) cosmos, and fault-ridden (moral) human species?
- From a biblical viewpoint, it would seem (on some theological interpretations)
that some works of man (and fallen angels) are to be described as religious
as well as moral faults -- i.e., as sins -- about which the Bible (Old and
New Testaments) are concerned and for which God's Son, Jesus, paid the high
price as an atoning sacrifice on the Cross.
I see catastrophe theory as applicable literally only to A. Attempts
to apply it to B, C, and D are in my opinion just interesting metaphors, or
metaphoric narratives (myths) grounded in catastrophe theory models. However,
these myths and metaphors are not uninteresting, and seem to be veritable translations
of some popular (even some intellectual) traditions according to which the Bible
has been (mis)interpreted in the West. Such traditions in my opinion tend to
be pragmatically oriented and miss the core central point of the Judeo-Christian
tradition which is:
- that the cosmos and everything in it is good (e.g., Augustine, Aquinas,
...); moral faults have to do with the character of human intentions (whether
and to what extent actions are motivated by a deviation from the love of God
and the neighbor and are recognized in conscience to be such). The only real
evil in the world is the freely chosen refusal to follow the divine call as
experienced and understood in life and as culturally organized. Natural 'evils,'
physical and moral harm caused by human actions, etc. are not absolute evils,
but challenges to human social and personal intelligence, responsibility,
and personal and social change from which may flow progress or decline, each
relative to long-term or short-term consequences (see below). The existence
and good functioning of religious institutions is presumed because these are
the cultural repertories of religious resources -- but the presumption may
fail from time to time.
- that the messianic message of the Judeo-Christian tradition is about God's
love in history (and culture, human and social development, etc.) to bring
all mankind to perfection in the model of the human Jesus who in history has
shown mankind the "Way, Truth, and Life," namely, how to love God and one
another (as children belonging to God's family) even in a fault-ridden society
and a contingent fault-ridden natural universe. This message is about hopeful
(long-term) progress towards this goal and possible/probable short-term declines.
Which directs our inquiry to history? ... and more!
However, I found your Internet links fascinating and could enjoyably
spend hours following them through. But alas! these hours are limited in this
fault-ridden society and I surely will not live to experience the fulfillment
of the Judeo-Christian Redemption.
P.S.: There is much discussion among Christians about the proper
interpretation of the term 'sacrifice' that was introduced only late into Christian
theology. It now seems best to be interpreted as a supreme act of love for God
and mankind in a fault-ridden world rather than as a sacrificial death offered
by Jesus and us with the intention of equalizing the scales of justice in the
sight of God relative to sinful mankind.
Response from Tony Judge:
21 December 2004
I would emphasize that the different approaches to the formalization of "sin"
have been collected and presented as pointers without any particular preference.
But in response to your point concerning the essential "goodness"
of the cosmos, I would have liked to distinguish between the "good"
that we can understand (being in opposition to the "evil" that we
understand) and the "good" that encompasses both that we are much
challenged to understand. It is the latter I point to as a plenum that is disrupted
by various ways of separation and disconnection -- of dis-remembering, here
to be understood as "sins".
Catastrophe theory is then a way of holding such distinctions -- however simplistically
as stories or metaphors -- and suggesting how they may be engendered by distortions
of a more complex space. Given the challenge in understanding catastrophe theory,
this suggests care in claiming understanding of that space.
In this light I would not disagree with your comments but the exercise, however
"tongue in cheek", was an effort at formalization of matters on which
verbal interpretation leads to much misunderstanding.
Paul Caron: Consultant
(21 December 2004)
Thanks for including me in this very interesting exchange. I can't
help but want to say more. So here goes.
If evil can be mathematically defined and the same for its "opposite"
good, I would be surprised. I take math as mathematicians speak of it, that
is, a certain deductive rigour and quantification. However, if we wish to use
math as a metaphor then we have gained a new language or tool to explore relationships.
Assuming that there is any finite "reality" and assume it priorities
itself to all other finite entities i.e. favors in choice itself against anything
"other", then we have a closed system or a particularity.
If (and again probably using it as a metaphor) we apply Gödel's
conclusions as to systematic, deductive thought then we know, by its nature,
that it is incoherent in some sense. The finite nature demands assumptions,
axioms or givens (which by their definition wall or protect or define) its finite
aspects. Is it from them or their existence that Gödel's proof develops?
Also we know that closed systems are entropic. They degrade.
The definition of evil, for me then, is the decision or intention
to be "prioritaire" or first in an all-inclusive way. With finite beings whose
intentions center upon themselves in reality, we see the results.
If we view the other pole, we assume our finite nature, we accept
it, but as open systems, willing to accept "the other". The interesting point
here is that there must be introduced the concept or idea of the infinite, or
we would have a cascade of finite open systems -- Russian dolls. Some might
be tempted to say that that is OK with them or really the situation. I can't
accept that emotionally.
The infinite needs no axioms or assumptions. Without referring
to all the 19th century math work on infinite numbers, one can go back further
in the history of thought to Nicolas of Cusa or others who dealt with the infinite
in theological terms.
We could add that the infinite of all infinities, God, contains
all possibilities (or forms), in other words, not limited as to being, as we
are. The opposite is that a finite entity is filled with certain possibilities
but to a limit. Many possible changes and growth etc, but a limit and with that
limit a focus to achieve the forms desired and possible.
One interesting point is that it appears that if the finite is
closed, then from a deep fundamental need, control is necessary. I don't know
why, but it does seem that way. Perhaps relative to the "being" there is a need
to focus and therefore maximize what is possible. Hence controlling.
Whereas, the God that I believe, does not need control because
infinite, but rather wishes (almost in a mathematical sense) the realization
of all the potential that each may have. In other words, decentralised reality
(the incredible complexity of it all) is beautiful, brilliant and fun, but can
only exist because it is tied together by a infinite message of love, one that
asks that all flower.
Response from Tony Judge:
21 December 2004
Well mathematics is supposed to be the ultimate study of relationships. And
the dis-relationship with God is one of the most fundamental non-relationships.
As to "if we wish to use math as a metaphor then we have gained a new language
or tool to explore relationships", I would say let us see where it may
lead without expecting miracles.
"The definition of evil, for me then, is the decision or intention to
be "prioritaire" or first in an all-inclusive way". I would argue that
this lends itself to mathematical description. It is prioritizing a particular
"local" over the "global".
It would be interesting if the potential profundities of the self-other relationship
could be given a mathematical formaization.
I have no problem with your emphasis on the infinite. The article endeavours
to point to this in terms of plenum -- a multidimensional plenum would be the
limit of our current ability to provide any formal description.
As to the finite being closed, this of course surely depends on the dimensionality
through which the finititude and closure is perceived -- possibly precluding
understanding of how it is open. Whether this is to be associated with some
form of control does not seem to be an issue -- that would have to do with the
curvature of that space which makes the finite a form of gravity-well