The Wonderful Horrible Integrity of the World

Horror: … from Latin horror, “dread, veneration, religious awe” …

What is true at any time and place is true at all others. Truth is non-local, instantaneous, ubiquitous.

This is obvious in respect to the eternal and a priori truths, as of mathematics, metaphysics, and so forth.

But it is as so for a posteriori truths as for a priori.

For, that I went to Mass on Sunday morning was true forever throughout the history of our cosmos, as characteristic thereof, and so from its beginning to its end, as soon as it happened. From the moment I arrived at Mass, all futures of our cosmos that lacked the feature of that factual arrival – and, so, likewise, all pasts that led to such futures – were instantly foreclosed, and rendered impossible, as being incompossible with my attendance at Mass that morning. This was so throughout the spatial and temporal extent of our cosmos.

And, indeed, those of all others.

A fact in one cosmos is a fact of all cosmoi, even though, as different cosmoi, they may have no interactions. For, a fact is a fact: a fact in any cosmos is then ipso facto a fact reckoned in and by the mind of Omniscience, and so cannot possibly be otherwise than it is, throughout the whole infinite extent of Omniscience over and above and under and through all worlds in all their instances; which is to say, throughout their spatial and temporal extents.

What Omniscience knows has factually happened anywhere is in virtue of that knowledge factually established at all spatiotemporalw loci of all worlds. What is a fact anywhere is then a fact everywhere.

So in virtue of the Omniscience of the Eternal One, that I went to Mass Sunday morning is an eternal fact. It is a fact before, and so, for, all worlds.

Excursus: This is how Jesus of Nazareth came to be able to walk in Eden with Adam in the cool of the day. It is how Good Friday and Easter are participated at and by every Mass. It is also how the host is transubstantiated; it is how God is incarnate; it is how the Church is the Body of God; it is how the still small voice sounds within you as your deepest truest love.

Those are some pretty big saltations. I’ll fill in the steps, if anyone is interested.

Excursus: Platonic anamnesis is founded upon this reality: upon the reality to each event in a cosmogony of all events therein; a reality to each event of all others that obtains and transpires in virtue of their conjoint integrity within that cosmogony. Causation is remembrance.

Of particular interest, then, is that an event in Alpha Centauri that took place as I was at Mass on Sunday morning at 11:00 AM Pacific Time could not have occurred in such a way as to have resulted in some future state of affairs in which what happened to me Sunday morning was something else. The worldline leading forward into the future from Alpha Centauri this last Sunday morning must eventually meet cleanly, intelligibly, orderly, perfectly, compossibly, in a seamless garment integral with the world line leading forward into the future from my arrival at church that same morning. In other words, the events at Alpha Centauri on Sunday morning at 11:01 AM Pacific Time must as they sprang into being have reckoned already the fact of my arrival a minute beforehand for Mass at Saint Dominic’s in San Francisco, so that they could eventually lead to an integral future two years hence, in which there was at that future time no conflict whatever between what had happened two years prior both at Saint Dominic’s and at Alpha Centauri.

Now, what this means is that everything that happened at Saint Dominic’s on Sunday morning must have reckoned what had just happened at Alpha Centauri a nanosecond before, and vice versa. In no other way might the worldlines leading forward from those two loci ever have been able to agree at any point in their futures. In no other way might those worldlines ever even intersect. In no other way then might a coherent world have eventuated when light from each locus reached the other, four years hence. If the worldlines did not thus agree, starting that morning, then in four years they would specify altogether different cosmoi. In one, Alpha Centauri would exist, but not Sol; in the other, Sol would exist, but not Alpha Centauri.

The light of each one would never meet any other. This failure would be repeated for all lights, whatever.

Right now, we live in a world where both Sol and Alpha Centauri exist. That could not be so, had their loci been uninformed four years ago about what was then happening at and to and in each other. Only if their motions were then in perfect agreement might we now find them agreeable to each other; only thus might we find them both, at all.

Alpha Centauri and Sol must then always reckon each instantaneously the immediately past state of the other in order ever to arrange their own motions in such a way that the worldlines leading into the future from their disparate loci might ever meet up together anywhere orderly, coordinately, coherently, intelligibly. It will always take four years for each of their lights to reach the other. But were they not now already ordered to the same transcendent order, neither of their lights could ever reach the other at all.

They could not in that case live in the same cosmos.

We could not in that case apprehend Alpha Centauri. Nor could Alpha Centauri apprehend us. There would in that case be no stars. Not that we could see, anyway, or in any way.

We see stars. So we know that this present moment was arranged millions of years ago, and indeed before all time.

The continued coherence of the world then – along any worldline whatsoever (or, on the MWI, along all worldlines) – depends crucially on the non-local, instantaneous presence in every worldline of information – of *all* information – about what has just happened in all other worldlines.

In short, there is no way to obtain a coherent world unless each instant of becoming thereof is both instantaneously appraised of all prior instants thereof, and what is more – this is the shocking, wonderful, horrible bit – is properly ordered toward a coherent future wherein all worldlines continuously and consistently intersect at perfectly compossible unity again and again, repeatedly, and throughout an entire cosmogony.

Each creaturely act must be aimed more or less immaculately at a coherent future it cannot possibly know, or else there could be no world.

There is a world, ergo etc.

So may we know that all instants of time transpire first in eternity.

Such is the physics of Providence.

Think about this then. The motion of that leaf on the distant tree just now? It had to have known and aptly reckoned aforehand, before ever it moved or even came into being, about your disappointment all those years ago about the girl, and about what your teacher did that so outraged you, and about your triumph on the playground.

If the leaf did not know about you and the girl, the teacher, and the playground, it could not inhabit the same cosmos as you.

So is nothing lost or forgotten; not just to Omniscience, but to every creaturely occasion, as a prior condition of its own eventuation. Everything is and must be accounted for, completely, by every other thing in its world. In no other way might any world come to pass, or therefore any part of any world.

The world then, throughout its temporal extent, is an integrity.

Notice then the final consideration, so far as I can now see: the eschaton of each world is integral with its whole history. Had things turned out differently than they have so far, this cosmos could not possibly wend its eventual way to its ultimate redemption and rescue, and restoration. That this world is now real, then, tells us that it is bound ultimately for new and everlasting life in its own proper heaven.

So, of most importance to us today: nothing of our present suffering is either lost or vain. All of what we have borne, do now bear, and shall soon bear, is somehow in the end critical to the rescue of the cosmos.

Nothing is extraneous, nothing forlorn or meaningless or stupid. So then, straightforwardly, and by a simple process of elimination: all that happens, which we must perforce bear and do and suffer – aye, and enjoy – is therefore somewise great, noble, beautiful, ergo worthy; and, indeed, as not necessary, but rather a lovely addition to what must be so absolutely, therefore superlative, and supererogatory, surplus, sublime: horribly wonderful.

Creatura is not necessary. It is an infinite good superadded to, and by, the Infinite Good himself.

Be then comforted, in that. God knows how this all works out, even if you do not. On then, into the fray; and let each man do his duty, in confidence, and in mutual solidarity with all his creaturely fellows.

This little cultural phase change we are about to enact and suffer, as the deadly dying old liberal order of the Enlightenment winks out at last, paralyzed and confused by its own contradictions, and in a paroxysm of violence and confusion is superseded by some New Thing? No big deal. Such is history, ever.

On, then, to death.

All things die, after all. In no other way might they find their proper resurrections.

Death, then! Death! Death! Deus vult!

21 thoughts on “The Wonderful Horrible Integrity of the World

  1. Pingback: The Wonderful Horrible Integrity of the World | Reaction Times

  2. I have a pet theory that Original Sin is the reason Entropy is always increasing.

    But the future is perfect order, after the eschaton, as you say. As the cliche goes, you can’t have Christ without the Cross; nor the Cross without Christ. Indeed, as you say, you can’t have Easter Sunday without Good Friday. We must suffer our fallen cosmos now, to share the beatific vision and our glorified, resurrected bodies then.

    It’s a distinctly Christian thought that from all this chaos can come order. That’s the mystery of creation (chaos in its greek sense, void, or nothingness): Out of Chaos, order. That’s the mystery of original sin: Out of Order, disorder. And that’s the mystery of the Last Things: out of disorder, perfected order again.

    • All becoming is at least in part ex nihilo. Novelty per se is the actualization of something in a context that manifested nothing of it. And of course, every passage of a temporal being to a new moment is and must be occasioned by a sort of death: a passage from an old moment.

  3. So when you went to Mass on Sunday you collapsed the many-worlds multiverse and Schrödinger’s Cat is now definitely dead. I am joking of course, mostly because I don’t really understand this type of high philosophy but it sounds like you are working in that sort of framework.

    • Something like that, yeah. But, even disregarding QM, the truth is non-local, instantaneous, and ubiquitous. The instant I appeared at church on Sunday, it became impossible for any event anywhere in our cosmos, and anywhen, to constitute itself in such a way as to be incompatible with my participation of the Mass. All events prior to that rite had to lead up to it; all subsequent events had to comport with its facticity.

      And this is true for all mundane events whatever. Thus every event is radically constrained in its options by the absolute necessity of conforming itself instantly, exactly and perfectly to every other occasion of its world, from end to end both timewise and spacewise. All cosmic regularities – including the regularities of QM – hang upon that constraint.

      I’m still mulling this idea. I’m pretty sure it cuts the legs out from under the MWI, but I’m not yet totally confident that it does.

  4. Best piece I have seen in a long time. Well done, Kristor. I have increasingly believed the same. Mass is really a “time machine” and we really are present at all those events of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord. The same with the particular and general Judgments: they occur at the same “time” and those “days” in purgatory are instantaneous. And every choice we make affects the whole universe, meaning that a good or sinful act alters the reality of the universe all linked together, and this means of course, how horrible the Fall was and still “is” and how wonderful the Redemption is, was and is being now and ever. The fabric of the whole universe is altered by our actions. Oh, what a great act the Incarnation then is. All our philosophies pale because we poor creatures live and act in what we know is time. Even Aquinas had to invent a particular term for events outside of time: he measures them by changes of state – a way of dealing with what your whole essay is about.

    • Thanks, Michael. The Mass is indeed a time machine, in that, as a portal to eternity – a rent in the veil, from top to bottom – it is a portal through eternity and then by it on to all other things. It is in particular a portal, not just to the Heavens, but also to the dead (this is why the tombs opened at the moment Jesus died). With the opening of this portal that opens upon all moments of all worlds, our world was shaken to its core, like a dreaming child shaken by his mother to wakefulness (this is why the earth shook at the moment Jesus died), and radically reordered.

      That this portal opens upon all moments of all worlds entails that – whether or not they know it – all such moments open always upon that portal. All occasions, then, are instances of that portal. All occasions are types, and therefore instances, of the Mass, and of the Incarnation. The House of the Lord is in the final analysis the entire created order; so all occasions of all worlds are in the Church: some more, some less; some inbound, some outbound. Such is divine immanence.

      The sacrament of the Mass is special then mostly because it is a particularly intense instance of its type, in which the whole mystery is brought forcefully to the minds – to the bodies – of those who partake. It shakes us, and awakens. It reminds us that it is now, right now, within our power to put on the mind of Christ and become saints. The sacrament is entirely efficacious, in itself, and whether or not we cooperate in its confection within our hearts. Therein lies its terrible danger: Aslan is not a tame lion, and you ignore his Presence at your extreme peril.

  5. One minute after you arrived at Mass on Alpha Centauri is not well defined. It is frame dependent.

    However, the main problem with this doesn’t require relativity. Consider a very simple system, a hyperbolic partial differential equation, the wave equation. Information travels only on characteristic curves, so that the value of the field at an event depends only on some events in its past, those within a domain of dependence defined by the characteristic speeds. And yet, no contradictions arise. Given initial data throughout a domain and boundary conditions on the domain, the evolution of the field in the domain is a well-posed problem. There is a unique solution, and it depends continuously on initial/boundary conditions.

    It would be a mistake to imagine that if Alpha Centauri has no information about the last four years of Earth’s history, then it must be evolving with false information about these four years. In fact, it is evolving with no information at all–when in four years a signal from us, now reaches it, this will be a new stimulus for it–so I don’t see how a problem is supposed to arise.

    • One minute after you arrived at Mass on Alpha Centauri is not well defined. It is frame dependent.

      I’m afraid I’m guilty of presupposing an absolute frame. Fortunately for my reputation vis-à-vis Einsteinian relativity, that absolute frame I presuppose isn’t intracosmic, but supracosmic. Relativity holds only intracosmically, and only for strictly intracosmic observers. It doesn’t limit extracosmic observers, who by definition are independent of intracosmic frames.

      Are not these supposed extracosmic observers rendered participant in our cosmos in mere virtue of their observations thereof, and – one supposes – their acts therein? As participants, are they then not rendered intracosmic, and thus subject to the same frame dependency of their observations as we?

      No. The key thing to remember is that supracosmic observers, as angels and God, are not *limited* to this cosmos, as we are. They are not *strictly* intracosmic, as we are. They observe our cosmos from outside it, as an author or reader observes the world of a novel. Their observation is panoptic, and synoptic. They can take up the perspective of characters in the story, and even take up active roles in that story – like a member of the audience climbing up on stage and interacting with the characters of the play – but are nowise limited thereto.

      A long winded response to a point you made in passing, albeit aptly, and interestingly.

      As to your larger point, and to the extent that I properly understand what you are saying, it seems to me that you have simply restated the amazing fact that, despite the ignorance of each star about what is happening at the other right now, they each move in such a way right now as to guarantee that the light cones of information about their present moment of existence will intersect agreeably in two years. That future intersection is not precisely determined by their pasts.

      This is as true for immediately adjacent facts as it is for facts separated by light years. As they come into being and are not yet definitely concrete so as to be apprehensible to each other, neither of two adjacent subatomic events can have information about the other. They can each know about the past of the other – both those pasts after all are immediately adjacent to both of them – but not the present, or a fortiori the future. NB then that, so long as they are still engaged in the process of becoming, their character as definite facts once they have completed that process and are thenceforth actual will be fixed and thus ascertainable *by any being whatever* – including themselves – only at some point in their future.

      And yet, as you say, no contradictions arise between their futures.

      The only way this result would not be astonishing is if neither of them had any real options, so that their motions independent and ignorant of each other were nevertheless predetermined in such a way that no contradictions between their futures could possibly arise. But in that case, they would not be events, properly speaking; they would not be things happening, would not be motions. In that case, we would inhabit a block universe, and nothing in it could properly be said to happen, for nothing in it could possibly be otherwise.

      I may of course have failed to understand your point.

      • Hi Kristor. I’ll try to rephrase.

        In order for there to be agreement, there must be two claims, and in order for agreement to be meaningful, disagreement must be at least conceivable. I like my example of a universe consisting of a field governed by the wave equation because it is simple enough that we can understand it completely. If spacetime regions out of causal contact with each other can be said to evolve in a way that is retrospectively agreeable to each other, we must be able to say what sort of behavior (“disagreeable behavior”) this rules out. It might mean that the initial data at different points at the initial time (the Cauchy surface) is not arbitrary but must obey some constraints. It might mean that from data in one region one can constrain data in causally disconnected regions. But for the wave equation, neither of these are true. So it seems there are no rival claims to compare and no opportunity for meaningful agreement.

        Perhaps your claim is that my model is too simple (although in fact physics as we know it does seem to boil down to hyperbolic PDEs) and that the real world is some sort of overdetermined system, in which case consistency would indeed be remarkable. But I’d need some reason to believe this.

        Regarding extracosmic observers of our universe, I’ve usually assumed that their experiences are not tied to our spacetime, but tradition is probably more on your side–at least for the angels, as there is a robust tradition of speculation that God Himself is totally atemporal. The angels, not being this way, presumably have some internal time, a one-dimensional space A in which their thoughts are ordered. You claim that they are affiliated to our spacetime to the extent that there is a map of A into our spacetime manifold M. This affiliation (to speak vaguely) f:A–>M could indeed provide a foliation for the part of M that the angel is present to (the image of f in M). Each angel would in principle have its own f, but it is possible that they would yield the same foliation, in which case the time thus marked out would deserve to be considered special.

        Yeah, maybe.

      • Thanks, Bonald. I’m terrifically interested in your take on all this, because I feel sure that I can learn a lot from it, and from trying my best to understand it properly and then respond to it.

        As for your way of formalizing the mapping of angelic aeviternity to our time: wow, so cool! It seems right to me. But that’s no more than a hunch (not to disparage hunches!). I can’t say that I understand aeviternity, because I’m not aeviternal (yet; the Tradition is that theosis (which may God grant me, and you, my friend, and all our friends together, forever) involves donning our own dear old human bodies in their true form, such that they are also angelic bodies; so, we’ll see). But my understanding of aeviternity so far suggests that the angels can observe at a single glance all moments of all worlds that are subsidiary to their own, in rather the way that we would look down upon, and indeed experience, a recorded performance of Mozart’s Requiem with a total prior familiarity and comprehension of it: of all its meanings and interpretations, portents, and significations. They may also focus their attention on a particular bit of a given world, again in just the way that we might particularly attend to a passage played by the oboes, then turn to the altos.

        Thanks to the Incarnation, God himself can’t be totally – i.e., can’t be *only* – atemporal. If Jesus is God, then God is both atemporal and temporal. I’m not particularly worried about that, because I don’t apprehend any conflict between divine atemporality, divine aeviternality in virtue of God’s instantiation as an aeviternal angel (YHWH), and God’s instantiation in and as a temporal human (Jesus the Galilean, who sweated and ate and pooped and so forth).

        On now, then, to your main point. Thanks for rephrasing. This I think is the heart of it:

        If spacetime regions out of causal contact with each other can be said to evolve in a way that is retrospectively agreeable to each other, we must be able to say what sort of behavior (“disagreeable behavior”) this rules out. It might mean that the initial data at different points at the initial time (the Cauchy surface) [are] not arbitrary but must obey some constraints. It might mean that from data in one region one can constrain data in causally disconnected regions. But for the wave equation, neither of these are true.

        Surely the initial data at the Cauchy surface must obey *some* constraints, no? How could they constitute a surface, did they not? Isn’t the wave equation itself a formalization of just such a constraint?

        Again, surely the initial data at the Cauchy surface can’t be simply arbitrary, no? And again, how could those data constitute a surface if they were indeed purely arbitrary? If, i.e., they were simply *chaotic*?

        Prima facie it would seem that the initial conditions at the Cauchy surface would have to be such as to constrain the data thereof in such a way as to allow them to be mutually commensurable – and, what is much more, to be compossible and free of contradictions of any sort – so as to enable them jointly to constitute an intracommensurable surface.

        The initial conditions, and for that matter all subsequent conditions, must share all the same order. They must all inhabit the same world. But if that order is probabilistic rather than deterministic, then it would seem that events that proceed according to a common probabilistic order but in ignorance of each other – which is to say, all contemporaneous events, whatever, and regardless of how great or small their spatial separation – then there is quite a bit of leeway for their histories to evolve independently in such a way that, while they continue to manifest the same sorts of order, they are logically incompossible, and thus in retrospect cannot be fit together to constitute a coherent world system.

        Nevertheless we find that the Cauchy surface keeps propagating along coherently as time goes on. That’s the thing that astonishes me.

        So it seems there are no rival claims to compare and no opportunity for meaningful agreement.

        This it seems to me is the hard central core of your worry. Rival claims must I grant be disparate somehow or other in order anywise to differ in the first place, so as to allow for either their agreement or their disagreement. But such differences can be obtained from a simple divergence of spatial locus of this or that event; different reference frames alone will suffice. And different reference frames can agree; can, that is, disagree relatively without ruining their basic agreement about the world of which they are each frames.

        I am painfully aware that I am likely still to be misunderstanding you badly.

      • Hi Kristor,

        It seems I have not understood you. If there is not mapping of angelic subjective time into or onto the spacetime manifold, how can it define a special frame?

        Regarding freedom of initial conditions, initial data is arbitrary/unconstrained, although one doesn’t have total freedom on where in spacetime one can specify initial data (i.e. what constitutes a Cauchy surface). One can’t choose a surface that with points connected by characteristic lines. Usually one specifies data at a “moment in time”, and this isn’t an issue.

        The larger issue is still whether there really are independent claims of some particular property in the universe (either my toy model or one suitably more complicated), so that one can speak meaningfully of agreement or disagreement. I’ve got to teach a class now, but I hope to explain why I see this not being the case (at least in my simple universe) later today.

      • If a field u living in a one-dimensional space obeys a wave equation with speed c, the general solution will be
        u(x,t) = f(x-ct) + g(x+ct)
        where f and g are arbitrary functions. Note that f is constant on right-going paths/rays x=ct+constant, and g is constant on left-going paths/rays x=-ct+constant. Nothing constrains the initial data, laid down say at t=0. We need to find u at future events, say the event (X,T) at location x=X and time T>0. One way is to follow backwards in time the right-going path x-ct = X-cT to its intersection at the initial data at t=0 and read off f, and likewise to trace back the left-going path x+ct=X+cT to t=0 and read off g. Then u(X,T)=f+g. Intuitively, we see that information has come from the left at speed c and from the right at speed c. Each event (X,T) needs two pieces of information and gets them via two separate rays. The particular combination of left and right-going ray of an event never reoccur for any other event. There appears to be no redundancy, hence nothing to agree or disagree with anything else. This is why I’m having trouble translating your intuition into something concrete that I can grasp.

      • It seems I have not understood you. If there is not mapping of angelic subjective time into or onto the spacetime manifold, how can it define a special frame?

        I think it is likely that I misunderstand your misunderstanding. But, regardless, here’s an attempt to clear up the confusion.

        Angels are naturally aeviternal, not temporal. So they probably don’t experience things the way we do; they probably don’t experience a subjective time that we would recognize as such.

        Even so, what matters is the mapping of angelic aeviternal experience – whatever that is like – to the spacetime manifold, and thus to the sort of experience that we have. Is there such mapping? Yes, probably: when an angel focuses his attention here or there in our world. When he does, he defines a special frame for himself within our manifold, at least for a moment (NB: all definitions of special frames are momentary; frames are characteristics of specific moments).

        But when an angel is not attending to this or that particular moment in a cosmos subsidiary to him, that entire cosmos appears to him all at once, from beginning to end and from one end to the other. This, again, in just the way that we can apprehend the whole of a play or musical composition, rather than picking out this or that part for our special attention, and thus for the mapping of our global comprehension of the piece to a special frame within the composition.

        We need to find u at future events, say the event (X,T) at location x = X and time T > 0. One way is to follow backwards in time the right-going path x – ct = X – cT to its intersection at the initial data at t = 0 and read off f, and likewise to trace back the left-going path x + ct = X + cT to t = 0 and read off g. Then u(X,T) = f + g. Intuitively, we see that information has come from the left at speed c and from the right at speed c.

        It looks to me as though in this description the rays are not actually doing anything (and therefore fall before the scythe of Ockham’s Razor). They are not conveying information about u(X,T), because the information needed for the logical coherence of u(X,T) is implicit in the initial conditions at t = 0, together with the functions f and g (NB: f and g are among the initial conditions at t = 0).

        Excursus: this leads to the question: where, exactly, would the rays be conveying their information? Where do the rays meet up? Where, in short, in the one-dimensional space in which u lives is u(X,T) to be found? Nowhere, apparently. Is there then really such a thing as a concrete u(X,T)? Apparently not. Is there then really any such thing as any concrete u(x,t)? It doesn’t look like it. It looks rather as though the only real in this model is the model itself: the form of the concrete. Interesting.

        Consider then that the rays are conveying the information about u(X,T) to an observer of u who is not himself a participant of u. Namely, Bonald and Kristor and everyone else who reads these words. But that conveyance is not happening at c. It is instantaneous, and not local to any locus in u.

        Consider then further that u is a world subsidiary to the world of Bonald and Kristor and the readers of the Orthosphere. Interesting.

        Then u(X,T) is *necessarily* coherent. Not only that, but thanks to its complete specification and thus determination by f and g, it could not be otherwise than it is; could not be coherent in any of the other possible ways that it might have been coherent. There are no such other possible ways. Thus, u(X,T) is not a contingency.

        This lands us again in the Spinozan block universe, wherein nothing actually happens, there are no acts or motions; thus, no causal relations among events; i.e., no space or time. All that is left is the geometricization.

        It lands us in a universe where, there being no internal causal relations, there is nothing for physics to study.

        The only way out of this difficulty that I can at present see is to suppose that each iteration of f and g specifies, not a unique product, but rather a distribution of probable products of their arguments.

  6. I’ve used something like a dumbed down version of this argument for people who quip that Christ’s suffering didn’t matter, since He merely resurrected himself and, besides, He was God anyway. I try to explain that the crucifixion is ongoing at this very instant in eternity. Never works, unfortunately.

  7. Pingback: Cantandum in Ezkhaton 10/06/19 | Liberae Sunt Nostrae Cogitatiores

  8. Hi Kristor,
    Very engaging writing as always.

    I need help understanding something. I’m having a very hard time wrapping my head around the idea that two events could create incongruent states of the universe. I also get that that’s the point of the essay, but for it to be remarkable, shouldn’t the opposite be even possible?

    When the timecones of two events intersect, my understanding is that information from those events is reaching the intersection point. In that case information from both events will just interfere/superpose along with all the other information arriving from all other events in view, the result of which will in fact be the state of the universe at that point. I fail to see how information from different events could create a contradiction. It seems that information from Alpha Centauri should have to travel faster than light to get to your Sunday mass and somehow disagree with it.

    Also, all events are already in a common timecone of a shared previous cause (I guess you need an initial singularity for this) so it seems that all of them should be in agreement, as they evolved from a single event.


    • Thanks, Neodemus. If the world evolves deterministically, so that at every juncture of its history there is only one path possible to it, then yes, no disagreement between events can possibly occur, and the integrity of the world is not remarkable. But in that case, there is no such thing really as eventuation, no events, no motions, no changes; we live rather in a Spinozan block universe. I.e., in that case, we don’t really act, or live, or therefore exist as disparate entities.

  9. I’ve followed the comments here and as I sometimes do, I’d like to take a stab at answering some of the questions both to help (such as I am able) untangle complex concepts which I like to think I have the barest grasp of, and to test whether I actually understand.
    I think the relevant section in the OP is this:

    In short, there is no way to obtain a coherent world unless each instant of becoming thereof is both instantaneously appraised of all prior instants thereof, and what is more – this is the shocking, wonderful, horrible bit – is properly ordered toward a coherent future wherein all worldlines continuously and consistently intersect at perfectly compossible unity again and again, repeatedly, and throughout an entire cosmogony.
    Each creaturely act must be aimed more or less immaculately at a coherent future it cannot possibly know, or else there could be no world.
    There is a world, ergo etc.
    So may we know that all instants of time transpire first in eternity.

    I take you to mean that acts and their resultant facts happen outside of time and space, as well as inside of time and space. Every act is a metaphysical event such that everything subsequent to it is changed. It would be an oversimplification to refer to this as a metaphysical “butterfly effect”, but just that reality is changed by every thing that happens. A fact changes reality, such that all the rest of reality acknowledges that this is true.
    You once said to me in a comment, something along the lines of, God can see my entire life as a timeline, and he can see BOTH the times where x is true, and the time where x isn’t true, as one coherent unit. God can see all of reality, and he can see reality at the moment of the act, all of time before the act, and all of time after the act. But all of time after the act must include the act. And if we consider things from God’s perspective outside of time and space, he can see Alpha Centauri as easily as he can see the Andromeda Galaxy as easily as he can see the Moon as easily as he can see the hairs on my head. If Scoot types the letter “Q”, then that is a metaphysical event that, from God’s perspective outside of time and space, is adopted into the Moon, Alpha Centauri, the Andromeda Galaxy, everything, instantaneously. The Act begets the Fact and maintains metaphysical integrity. Alpha Centauri in the post Q era cannot exist without the Q I typed.
    To say this another way: I started an MBA program a couple weeks ago and I am taking a refresher statistics course (much needed, I confess). We discussed statistical dependency. Two statistical events are independent if P(A|B) = P(A), or if the given event (B) had no effect to increase or decrease the probability of event A. Two statistical events are Dependent if the reverse is true, that P(A|B) P(A). I thought of your article here. Given event (B) has already happened, there is no longer any universe where B hasn’t happened. Every event, A, C, or otherwise, is stained by the given event B having happened. While this is sensible for metaphysics, it doesn’t lend itself to ready comprehension of statistics but I managed to grasp the rest of the lesson.
    (Anecdote: I had trouble with Statistics in undergrad because they used past tense. “Out of a bag of marbles, Joe picked a blue marble. What was the probability of this happening?” I answered, 100%, since that is the marble he picked. I did not do very well in that class…)
    Considerations of “information” being transferred at the speed of light is still a physical phenomenon, and while each act has it’s physical properties and side effects, these side effects all have their own metaphysical properties too. Yes, information is transferred at the speed of light, but that doesn’t hinder God’s ability to see the whole cosmos and see it’s “horrible” integrity.
    Considerations of what this would be like if it weren’t true, I think, is part of the point of the OP: The fact that the universe has metaphysical integrity is a feature of the universe, and it is never not true, and it is incoherent to conceive of a universe that does not have integrity. If different sides of the universe were constrained by different metaphysical–it boggles the mind to conceive. I think that’s the beauty of it: Our universe is beautiful in it’s integrity, in such a way that only God could have made it.
    Not sure if this sheds any new light but hopefully I’m not too far off the mark.

    • Scoot, I think you’ve pretty well nailed what I was trying to get at in the OP. My only quibble is with your statement:

      I take you to mean that acts and their resultant facts happen outside of time and space, as well as inside of time and space.

      This is so close to perfect accuracy as to make almost no practical difference. But, to be quite clear, acts occur extratemporally, because until an act is completed, and is then and therefore thenceforth forever a definite fact, it can have no definite character or properties of any sort – including the character of being located in a certain time and place in a certain world. For, until it has finished becoming and is thus some perfectly definite thing, its character is still in flux, and not therefore ascertainable, *even by itself.* This is why as we come to be from one moment to the next – i.e., as we live – we are at bottom mysterious to ourselves, even on those rare occasions when we are intensely awake, alert, and clearly aware what we are about, and what we intend.

      As completed acts and therefore fully definite and real, facts can subsist within a world, or can be factual for worlds subsidiary to their own (which, in the case of the fact of God, means all possible worlds whether actualized or not).

      Notice that I wrote that until we have finished becoming, we are not in “a certain world.” Until it is a definite fact, it is not a definite fact of any world.

      Thus it is that in our next moment, we might come to be in some other world. This is how a mystical ascent to the heavens (II Corinthians 12:2-4) is accomplished – and a descent. That seems pretty wild. But then, we should consider that each moment of novelty in the history of a world renders it a different thing than it was. Our progress into the future is a progress into a world that differs from the world of our past; into what amounts to a different world.

      Here’s where you summarize in one sentence the entire OP:

      But all of time after the act must include the act.

      Yes. And the really weird thing is that all of time before the act, too, must eventuate in the act; must cooperate in such a way, must be ordered and coordinated in such a way, as to enable the act to transpire in due season. Two instances of that sort of anticipatory coherence of contingent disparate motions: the anthropic principle, and the preparation of the human species – and, by extension, all that led to the human species – for the production of the Virgin and her Son. All of evolutionary history is implicated in these two instances.

      Thus a forecondition of the actualization of any mundane potentiality whatever is that it integrate perfectly and seamlessly with *all other events throughout the spatial and temporal extents of its world.* If that perfect integration between an act and a world does not obtain, the act cannot be a part of that world. It must be a part of some other world, or, failing that, vanish into the outer darkness.

      David Bohm called this immaculate coordination of things the implicate order. The implicate order is the matrix and forecondition and potentiality of the explicit order we apprehend in things.

      We can by a shift of perspective appreciate the unfolding of the implicate order in our daily lives by consideration of a simple thing like moving an arm. If the molecules of air and clothing surrounding the arm were to fail to cooperate in its motion, were to fail to make way for it, the arm could not move. We are accustomed to thinking of the motion of the arm as efficiently pushing the molecules of air and clothing around. But while it is at least that, to be sure, it’s not just or only that.

      In the first place, the efficiency of the arm vis-à-vis the air and clothing is impossible without the formal agreement of arm, air and clothing to the formal order of the cosmos. The air can’t make way for the arm unless the air agrees ex ante with the arm about conservation of momentum, for example. Efficient, material and final causation all reduce to types of formal causation. Absent a formal agreement between arm and air, they could not move in response to each other.

      In the second place, if the molecules of air and clothing are to move in response to the motion of the arm, all of the elements of their environments must in turn move, out to the ends of the world. The motion of the arm, then, is really a motion of the whole cosmos. If the cosmos and the arm were not immaculately coordinated, the motion could not happen. That coordination, out to the ends of the world, happens among all motions immaculately, and instantly.

      It will be interesting to see whether all this helps with the concerns Bonald and Neodemus have raised, or even pertains to them properly.


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