information theory
Information is more than most people think. Sure, we get information from books, the news, gossip and google searches. Information is also the basis of computer programs and the DNA within our cells. But it's also much more than that. In fact, it may be a fundamental aspect of reality as we know it: from the particles and energy of physics to the shapes of our bodies and even the very acts of observation, thought and choice.

In his 2014 book Being As Communion, mathematician, philosopher, and intelligent design proponent William Dembski lays out what he calls a metaphysics of information, arguing that information and intelligence go to the very bottom and top of the cosmos. The ideas of information theory have strong resonances with the thought of Whitehead and Jordan Peterson, too.

Today on the Truth Perspective we discuss information theory, Dembski's book, and how information theory helps us not only to understand the nature of reality, but our place within it, and what our purpose might be.

Running Time: 01:35:09

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Harrison: Welcome back to the Truth Perspective everyone, I am Harrison Koehli, and joining me today are Elan Martin.

Elan: Hi everyone.

Harrison: ... and Adam Daniels.

Adam: Hello.

Harrison: Today, we are going to be discussing information, all the information.

Adam: All of it.

Harrison: All the information because, apparently, we just found out that everything is information. Kinda blew my mind. Actually that was a lie because I didn't just find out that, it was a while. We're going to be discussing that because it is actually quite cool and quite interesting. I never knew that information could be so interesting, that something that was such a boring word to describe it, could actually be so interesting, because information, what's that? Boring. But no! No, information is actually quite cool, quite hip, kids love the information these days, but they don't realize what it is and how wide ranging and expansive the actual concept of information is. In the last probably less than a hundred years, one was Claude Shannon, like in the 50s or something?

Adam: Mm hmm.

Harrison: So in the past 60, 70 years, there's been this thing called information theory, and that too was kind of boring, only nerds and information tech people really get into it. but in more recent years, the ideas in information theory have been expanded and applied to all kinds of different areas of life and science and thought to the point where it's not just this specialized field dealing with encryption and the coding of information on computer networks and computer programs and things like that. It's gone to the extent of a wide-ranging philosophy to the point where we're going to be discussing this book today by William Dembski called Being as Communion: A Metaphysics of Information, which kind of blew my mind when I read it. When did it come out? Let's see here. This book was published in 2014. That's probably the year I read it. But, you guys have just read, at least parts of it, right?

Elan/Adam: Yeah.

Harrison: Well, what did you think about it first of all, then we can get into the details.

Adam: I would agree with your initial statement that it pretty much blew my mind. It reminded me in a very similar way of Whitehead's Process Philosophy and Pan-experientialism. There are a lot of connections there with rather than matter being the fundamental thing of nature, there is information. It blended really well with experience and processes being the fundamental nature of things.

Harrison: Yeah, the title of the book is Being as Communion, because one of the main points that he makes, the main theme of the book that stretches through all the various sections on all these aspects of information, is that the nature of reality is one of being in relation to other things, and that's like, fundamental to reality. That is actually what Whitehead was on about with his process philosophy, that everything is in process and in communion in relation to other processes, other experiences. And that is a fundamental aspect of reality as a whole.

So Whitehead, I would say, was an information philosopher and didn't really know it, just because the terminology wasn't around at the time, information theory hadn't been developed. There weren't the words to describe it but when I read what people are writing about information these days, Whitehead was saying very similar things without using the language of information.

I guess to start out with, we should talk a bit about what information actually is. It's a word we all use every day. We get our information from the news but on the one hand it has a more specific definition, but also like I was suggesting just a couple minutes ago, a more all-encompassing aspect to it as well so that it can account for much more phenomena than we would ordinarily think of as information, but it's also defined in a specific way that might come as a surprise to people who haven't really delved into the subject.

So information, when you first hear that, it's just things that you learn about, or get informed about. We get information from the news. We get information from books and from other people. When we want a bit of information we ask someone, and they tell us, and now we have that information, right? So it can be used in terms of language, and statements about the world, and about people, and internal and exterior facts about the world. But what is it really?

When you look at information theory, the way it is applied to coding, for instance, computer languages or cryptography, I mentioned the guy Claude Shannon. He's the guy who originally developed some of these basic concepts. He wasn't the only one, but he was revolutionary in his discoveries and writings, to the point where there's now something that's called Shannon Information, which is a measure of the potential information in any given stream of characters. The potential information storage in any given medium, or information storage device, even something like language. Now what do I mean by that?

Let's say in a computer language everything is in zeros and ones, right? You have a string of characters and you can have a certain number of bits of information within that string of characters. It's the same with language. You've got, let's say, three characters that you can type out on your computer. Now, if you take the total number of possible combinations of letters, you've got your one specific sentence that you want to write out. All the different possible strings of letters that you can write out is the total information carrying capacity of that string of letters.

But when we have actual meaningful information, not just a probability or a possibility space of all the possible strings of letters, we have one specific string of letters which is a meaningful sentence in English, or in whatever language you're dealing with. So the way in which people are now thinking of information is that in terms of these possibility spaces like we talked about in previous weeks, where you've got a range of possibilities, and then when you actually write a meaningful informational sentence, you are collapsing that possibility space into one actual, realized possibility and in that way, what we are able to do, is to do things that on the surface of things, are actually vastly improbable.

This ties back to our discussion of evolution and DNA and the genome because the DNA, the genome is like an informational substrate. It encodes information. It's got a total information capacity that it can hold, but it is got a very specific string of nucleotides that build up, that encode proteins, that build things, and it has to be specific. It can't just be any random sequence of DNA, it has to be a specific sequence of DNA, in order to get the coding sequences for all of these proteins, and things like that.

So, when we think about that in terms of probabilities, one of the things that we discussed when discussing evolution, is it vastly improbable to get any meaningful stretch of DNA randomly. There are a couple of analogies that people who talk about information like to use. Random flips of heads and tails, for instance. You're never going to get a sequence of a million heads in a row. It's just going to be impossible. It goes so against the laws of probability, it's so improbable we'd say it's physically impossible for that to actually happen. It's a similar thing when we're looking at the genome, of DNA. It would be like a monkey randomly typing out the complete works of Shakespeare or something. It's just never going to happen.

So it's vastly improbable. But then again, we have someone, Shakespeare, who actually did write the complete works of Shakespeare, so a vastly improbable event in terms of randomness, and seemingly natural processes. Humans can do that without even thinking much about it. I could type out the Complete Works of Harrison Koehli and it might not be very good, but it would be a vastly improbable event, when looked at from the perspective of a meaningless, mindless universe. That would be so improbable that it's an impossibility. But, I could do it if I just sat down to write out 700 pages of a complete works of whatever I actually wanted to write about.

So, when we're looking at information, there's some math involved. We're have a bunch of things. I'm just going to list some features of information that all come into play. There's meaning, so it has to mean something, it has to be a specific something that is the information. There's probabilities involved, so there's math. We're going to be looking at how probable something is, what the different possibilities are. The information is actually going to be, for the most part, very improbable. So the more improbable something is, the more capacity it has to carry information. Not only that, that's not the only thing that is information. It's not just language, or the bits you can have in a string, alphanumeric characters, or whatever. The most general thing that information is, is the collapse of a possibility space into one actuality. I might read some quotes as we go on in the book, because Dembski puts things in really clear terms and actually makes all these concepts clear. It's hard to know where to start when talking about information theory, but let's use that as a basic intro. Do you guys have anything to add on or clarify?

Elan: Yeah. I'll just say that this has been my first foray into information theory since about a few years ago, so it was nice to revisit it and to think about these ideas, especially how they relate to materialists and the idea that everything is this arbitrary, accidental, combination and recombination of material particles acting together on accident to produce some kind of result.

So what Dembski and other proponents of information theory and intelligent design are proposing is that there has to be, in the vast scheme of things, another explanation, another something that informs the nature of reality, that accounts for these highly improbable results that you were referring to Harrison, that can't be explained away as this arbitrary, kind of spontaneously created thing that happens to exist. So, he is at least putting his foot in the door of questions. He's saying that materialists seek to eliminate the possibilities of an outside source of intelligence, of something that helps to create or inform those things that exist in the world.

He's a Christian theist, as he calls himself so he does subscribe to the notion that there is a god, but it's not that simple for him either. He doesn't completely fall into this category of saying that, because there is a god, it's only god that's informing reality with its thoughts of reality. But he doesn't rule that out either, it seems to me. So this is a really eye-opening look at why materialists can't have the whole enchilada, how things as they exist, especially DNA being as complicated and sort of designed as it is, can't simply be explained away by an accidental universe, where everything is a biological coincidence.

Harrison: Well, I think there are two aspects of reality that we have to take into account which are the ones that you are alluding to, which are the ones that look miraculous, like the origin of the cell or the genome. But, also just on a more mundane level, if you're just looking at the world in terms of matter, energy, you can't describe reality completely. You need information to be able to describe reality, because not only do you have to take into account the information that humans create and pass between each other every single day or every moment of their existence, you have to be able to account for the specificity of things.

This is one of the directions that several scientists have been going over the past sixty years or so, is looking at reality itself in terms of information, that you can't even describe matter and the material world without looking at it in terms of information, without adding that into the equation. A simple way of getting to that first idea, is if you look at a book. You can describe a book completely in terms of it's material make-up but that won't account for the information in the book and that's the primary purpose of the book, the essence of the book is the information in it. If you just describe it in terms of the atoms and the molecules making up the pages...

Adam: Or that it's three inches thick, and ....

Harrison: Yeah.

Adam: Six inches long, and whatever.

Harrison: Then you're missing the point, right? You need information as a category to be able to account for that aspect of reality. I think it was John Archibald Wheeler who had the idea "it from bit"?

Adam: Yeah,

Harrison: What he was implying by that statement was that, "it", an existence, is actually predicated on an underlying bit or information. So that the world is actually an expression of information, as opposed to information being like an epiphenomenon of the material world. This is one of the aspects that Dembski gets to, that's why it's called a metaphysics of information. He's basically saying that information is a fundamental aspect of reality.

So when you look at something like the material world, like particles and the interactions of different particles to make atoms and molecules and all this, every scientific observation or discovery is information on both ends. There's an informative process that goes on in the observation, because when you're observing something, you're seeing one pattern to the exclusion of all other patterns. That's information, because the way that Dembski defines information, I kind of paraphrased it to start out with, but the way he puts it is, is that "information is the ruling out of possibilities" So the greater number of possibilities that are ruled out, the greater information is in that thing. So every scientific observation is actually informational, because if you're seeing a pattern, a pattern is itself information because when you see one pattern, you're not seeing all other patterns. So, when you're looking at a book, you're looking at that book, and you're not looking at all other books.

Adam: And you're not looking at everything else that's not a book.

Harrison: Right, exactly. Well, we'll get into that too, because that gets into the classes of things that are inherent in them. There's an implicit comparison in every informative process. You just got to the heart of that in that comment. So, not only looking at this book to the exclusion of all other books in existence, I'm looking at that book to the exclusion of all possible books in existence, and to all books and everything that's not a book.

So it's this one specific thing, and you can bracket off all these different categories and classes within classes to get to this one specific book that I'm holding right now. To get back to my original point, we need information not only to describe the vastly improbable events that defy explanation in terms of the categories and the processes readily available to the modern scientific mindset, but we also need it to account for science itself and every mundane thing that we take for granted. Everything is informational. In my situation right now, in my experience right now, I am perceiving just a vast amount of information. I'm seeing Adam, and not seeing everything that isn't Adam. There are things in my peripheral vision, of course, but there's a very specific informational process going on, just by the act of me observing the person sitting across from me.

So, again, to the exclusion of everything that's not Adam, and every possibility, not only every actuality that's around me in my physical environment, and extending past my perceptive capabilities, behind the walls, a mile away, ten thousand miles away, at the other side of the universe, but also every possibility because, Adam could theoretically be wearing a different T-shirt. I'm not seeing the he's not wearing. Every act of observation is an informational exchange. Again, coming back to the title of the book, Being as Communion there is information coming from Adam to me, from Elan to me, from this entire room onto all my sensory receptors, and then at the same time it's an exchange, because I'm sending information back. A lot of that is just stuff we take for granted, that we don't pay attention to, and there are probably different types and levels of information. Either of these guys saying something to me is going to be a different phenomenon than me just looking at what they're wearing. But they all come together, and it just goes to show how much information everything actually is. Poor way of putting it but...

Adam: There was one part in the book where he was talking about why it is that the less likely something is, the more information it carries?

Harrison: Mm hmm.

Adam: I think if I remember correctly, it was a particular exchange between two hypothetical people. Just say you and I, Harrison, you ask me, "How is the weather?," and I can tell you "It's raining." Well that doesn't tell you a whole lot. It tells you that it's raining, but it doesn't tell you what kind of rain, or how hard it's raining.

Harrison: Or where it's raining.

Adam: Or where it's raining! Yeah, that's a good point. It could be raining somewhere it South America, and that wasn't your specific question, maybe. The more possibilities that you rule out by being more specific and intentional in your language, the more information that you can then pass on.

Harrison: It's kind of like a game of 20 questions but it never ends, right? With the question about the weather, it's like, "Well, "How's the weather?," "Oh, it's raining," "Well, how much is it raining?" "Well, it's raining this much," "What kind of rain is it?". The more specific you get, you get a much clearer picture of the actual weather, so you're getting more and more specific as you go. The less specific you are, the more general a picture you have. So you don't actually know exactly how the weather is. You've got a general picture which includes a bunch of possible weather situations, but you can't really say what the very specific weather situation is that you're inquiring about. With each clarification, that's a more in-depth, more improbable, more specific statement about the world, and therefore it has more information, because more possibilities are ruled out. I've ruled out that it's not just raining in South America. I've ruled out that it's not just a light rain. I've ruled out that it hasn't just been raining for the past 24 hours, right?

Adam: Mm hmm.

Harrison: The more possibilities you rule out, the more information you have. It's an interesting way of defining information because of its generality. If you think about information in those terms, then you look at all the things you can apply it to. Of course, we've done several already, so far in this show, but really you can apply it to pretty much anything. One of the ways that he does it is at the beginning of the book, when he's talking about free will because, he's of the view that free will is really the power of "no". What he means by that is that every action you take is "yes" to one possibility, and "no" to all those other possibilities. Jordan Peterson made this point a couple months ago in one of his talks, I can't remember which it was, but he was basically describing consciousness, and he was describing how one of the features of consciousness seems to be a channelling of possibilities into one thing. You could only ever do one thing. I think this was in the context of, if it wasn't in the debates with Sam Harris, it was in a discussion he was having about the debates with Sam Harris.

One of the issues they were talking about was the whole thing about there being an infinitude of facts, and you need some kind of process, some kind of scheme in order to identify which facts you're going to look at. Well, that itself is an information process because you're excluding possibilities, right? When you have a thousand facts in front of you, and you only see one fact in combination with maybe four other facts, and you have this little fact "bubble," you're ruling out all the other facts that you could possibly perceive at that moment. That's information.

Two other things about Peterson's perspective, that shows that I think Peterson too is an information philosopher and he doesn't know it, or at least he hasn't used those words, one, in his description of the nature of consciousness as encountering possibility and bringing one into actuality, and another in the way in which he talks about consciousness channeling all possible actions into one action. So there's something about the mind and the brain and the way all those processes actually work, that it all reduces down to one action in the present.

So with free will, it's the same thing. The way in which we experience the world, and the way that we think about the world, it's inescapable that we think in terms that aren't deterministic. We always think as if in all the choices that we make, there have been a set of possible actions and that we've taken one. So, we could have chosen otherwise and that's the way in which we always behave all the time, and there's no escaping it. When you write something, you could've chosen a different word there, you could have phrased things differently. When you cook a meal, a dinner, you could've let this cook a little bit longer, you could've added this ingredient. We can't help but think that way.

So Whitehead would say, if we can't help but think it, we have to account for it. When we make choices, again, we're kind of bringing information into the world. We're manifesting some kind of information in the very actions that we choose at every moment of our lives, because every moment that we're doing something, we're not doing other things.

Adam: And that can tie into the failure of the materialist mindset or perspective to account for free will and consciousness, because in the purely materialist universe, these things are accidental, and they are epiphenomenon, something that comes out of matter, and there's no way to really account for it, other than to say that if this is a materialist universe and everything is determined, or deterministic, then potentially, I should be able to look at the history of an individual, let's say, and if I get enough information about this individual, I can then be able to determine what this person is going to do, because he cannot have acted in any other way.

Harrison: That would be the complete deterministic way of looking at the world. The way he phrases at one point in the book is, "In a deterministic universe, every possibility is realized" because nothing can ever go differently than it already went, so every possibility is realized, everything that happened is the only thing that could have happened, which is, of course, nonsense. I don't think there are many people that are actually that deterministic. I think that the people who think that they are determinists or say that they are determinists, just haven't thought through that far, because I'm sure they'd be able to find areas in their knowledge either of the physical world or of themselves where they contradict their own views.

But the question is, what's the nature of the indeterminism, because that's a valid question too. Is everything chance, or is there room for a free agent. You can have an indeterminate world that doesn't have free agents in it. Well, at least you can conceive of such a world, whether it accurately describes our reality is another question. If we look at quantum phenomena, or when we get down to that level of reality, where there seems to be indeterminacy, things can go one way or another, and then they happen to go one way. At least that's the way that we think it happens.

Does something similar happen at other levels of the material world where things just happen, but we don't actually have control over them? That's a question. Dembski doesn't think that's the proper way of looking at things. In fact, he questions what chance actually is. What is the nature of chance? What is the nature of randomness? One of the things he points out, when thinking about information in terms of these probability sets, every process seems to occupy this probability distribution where some things are more probable than others, some things are vastly improbable, and those curves may vary. Just like the positions of electrons buzzing around the nucleus of an atom there are different probabilities at different areas. But when you look at the actions that people take, for instance, like the way that people write, there are probabilities that become apparent even in acts that are intelligent in nature.

So, for example, when we use language, when we write books, when we then analyze the words and the letters in those books, we find that the letter "E" might occur a certain percentage of times and that's actually pretty representative of all written English. Any English book that you examine, you're going to find the letter "E" used within a range of percentage numbered percentage points. So you can find these probability distributions even in intelligent actions. You can also find them in the statistics of certain behaviors. You give people certain choices between options, and then you do a study and you find, 'oh, this percentage of people tends to go in this certain direction and this percentage tends to go in that direction'. You can find these probabilities that are seemingly, from one perspective deterministic in a certain sense. 'Okay, this percentage of people is always going to do this,' and it seems set it stone. It's almost like astrology, 'this is your fate to go in this direction as opposed to this direction'. On the other hand, you can look at it as, it's just the way of measuring what people actually choose, and for some reason, people choose in these proportions and according to this, probability distribution.

With things like that in mind, he questions what is the nature of chance in the natural world? Even when you go down to the quantum level, or you're looking at anything you can measure in that way in the universe, where does that chance come from? Well, he argues that it's at least possible that even that level of randomness and chance is a result of the intelligence of, he would argue, god. Whitehead might say a similar thing, god or creativity or the Cosmic Mind, that is a by-product of intelligence at that level of the cosmos.

That kind of throws up in the air even our notions of what it means to be a random or chance event. Even that opens up the possibility for something else, because he's got a chapter in there on causality and what it means for something to cause something else. And he says that even in a causally closed universe, where the only real causation would be one bit of matter on another bit of matter, even in a universe like that, as long as there are indeterminate processes, as long as there are processes that are probabilistic in any given way of measuring, that is the window for a possible divine influence because even if the world is constrained by physical limitations, if there's anything that operates on a probability distribution, that means that improbable events can happen, and if improbable events can happen, then those, through his argumentation, can be the result of a divine influence. All that he means by divine influence is an information transfer.

So you can transfer information to a system just through the playing of probabilities, and that too is kind of like a more modern way of describing what we were talking about in terms of Whitehead's philosophy, because Whitehead said something similar, that divine influence is through the possibilities that present to your mind essentially. So you are still bound by the physical laws, or just the habits of nature that surround you, but you can do something improbable, and the source of that probability, the source of that possibility that you then actualize, well where did that come from? How did get access to that possibility? How did whatever part of you that chooses, know that it was a possibility in order to actually do it? Because you have to conceive of something before you actually do it, even if it's in a very unconscious way. That's another thing that Dembski argues, that in the information channel that he describes in the book, and this is basic information theory in terms of computer programming and things like that, when information gets coded, that information first needs to be conceived, you need to think it, and then it gets encoded, and transferred through a medium to the receiver. The receiver has to decode it, and then the receiver has that information.

Something similar seems to go on, on a whole other level, and that's what Whitehead said too. That's a foundational aspect of reality. That's how things get done. That's how everything gets done. And that's why I think Jordan Peterson too is an information philosopher because when he describes the nature consciousness being that confrontation with possibilities, we're dealing with potential futures. That's the nature of consciousness. We see a vast array of possibilities at any given moment and then we actualize one of those possibilities.

That means a couple of things. We need to have some way of perceiving those possibilities because possibilities aren't matter. We can't see them and touch them. We need some other kind of sight, where we can see and conceive of these possibilities and then we have to have some way of bringing them into being.

Elan: Well, as you were describing all of that, I was thinking about the subject of our last show, NPC's, and those individuals who run on very automatic, programmed beliefs and thoughts, and limited information. So something that seems pretty clear is that they're not informed by many ideas, they're not informed by many possibilities that would govern their actions that would lead to, say, individuals who are part of this "walk away" movement, who have allowed a certain amount of information and perspective to govern their free will and make different choices for themselves. It seems to me that it's no accident that many of these individuals are holding fast to conventional science, are demonizing others who aren't ascribing to the conventional man-made global warming, and have limited themselves to a materialist worldview, cultural Marxism. It precludes a lot of religious thought and openness to any higher level of reality, where information might come from.

I was thinking of that as you were describing, to put that on a base level of how this can affect an individual, of how closing of the possibilities, of holding fast to a very deterministic mindset limits one's ability to act with as much free will as they are capable of, constitutionally.

Harrison: Yeah, it's at least theoretically possible, and it seems to be self-evidently the case that some people, for whatever reasons, have a narrower range of possibilities that they seem to perceive and then bring into being, to manifest. So you'll see one person that you might know that just seems to do the same thing over and over, right? Doesn't seem to have very much variety in his or her choices, and even just in their daily activities and routines and in the thoughts they think, maybe a very conventional thinker or ever not necessarily conventional, but just doesn't stray too far from the small number of thoughts and feelings and opinions that they have, doesn't reach too far out to open themselves to new ideas and new possibilities and just seems to be on that steady, narrow track, throughout potentially their whole lives. We've encountered people like that. So that's kind of how it seems to play out in the actual world that we live in. It's not like everyone's the same, and it's not like all possibilities are the same for everyone.

Well, it may be that all the possibilities are the same for everyone, but for each individual, just like the electrons in their orbits, they all have different parts, different probability distributions, different curves, right? One person might have certain actions and certain possibilities that are way more probable than others, and some might just be almost impossible, like vastly improbable. The possibilities might still be there. It's just where they lie in the probability distribution. So, one way of looking at things. Did you have anything to say on that?

Elan: No.

Harrison: Well, I want to read a couple things from near the end of the book. One of them comes back to that idea of free will being the power of "no". Dembski has a couple quotes from G. K. Chesterton. I haven't read any Chesterton, but from what I know he wrote both philosophy and theology, as well as murder mysteries, which is a kind of interesting combination I think. Not having read him that might be fake news. But, he quotes a couple of paragraphs from Chesterton. So this one's about free will or about will. Chesterton writes:
Every act of will is an act of self-limitation. To desire action, is to desire limitation. In that sense, every act is an act of self-sacrifice. When you choose anything, you reject everything else. Every act is an irrevocable selection and exclusion. Just as when you marry one woman, you give up all the others. So when you take one course of action, you give up all the other courses.
Again just coming back to what I was talking about with reference to Jordan Peterson and some of the things he said. And then another quote from Chesterton:
It was the prime philosophic tradition of Christianity, that this divorce in the divine act of making, such as severs the poet from the poem, or the mother from the newborn child, was the true description of the act whereby the absolute energy made the world. According to most philosophers, god, in making the world, enslaved it. According to Christianity, in making it, he set it free. God had written not so much a poem, but rather a play, a play he had planned as perfect, but which had necessarily been left to human actors and stage managers, who had since made a great mess of it.
So that in itself, I thought, was a poetic way of putting what we were trying to describe when we were describing Whitehead's philosophy and his theology because basically, according to Whitehead's philosophy, the prime act of god, of the unified intelligence behind the cosmos and everything in it was to give order to all of the eternal objects, basically, all of the possibilities. And what that means is basically writing a play. Writing a general sequence of events with various ends in mind. It would be like, when you have a plan for anything. I want this to happen, this is the best possible outcome given these starting conditions. That was the prime act of god to create that template, basically, that pathway, that immense, long, and adventure-filled story that gets to the grand conclusion. But, taking into account the nature of reality and the nature of the beings that play those parts, it's never going to match up to that ideal vision. The ideal vision will always be there, and things will match up to it to a greater or lesser degree, but it will never be a perfect copy. And that's what Dembski basically writes. Chesterton here treats creation as a play, whose production fails to meet the quality of the script:
"God has written the perfect script, but the actors can't pull it off. In the idiom of double creation, god as creator, exercises perfect control at the first creation" - that is the conception of the thing that you're going to make - "but then cedes control at the second creation, permitting it to go haywire."
The second creation is when you actually make something, I'll just go backwards a page, he says:
One of the best expressions of this principle of double creation that I've found however occurs not in the writings of theologians or philosophers. Rather, it appears in the work of businessman and leadership expert Stephen Covey: 'All things are created twice, there is a mental or first creation, and physical, or second creation to all things.'
So he's applying this via the Chesterton quote to the creation of the universe. Creation basically means the ordering of, because when you create you're giving order to some uninformed mass of something, like when you make a clay sculpture. It's unformed to begin with, and when you bring form to it, you create the sculpture. It's not that you create it out of nothing, it's rather you give form to something to then create whatever you want to create. So he says:
This disjunction between first and second creation has, of course, profound implications for the problem of evil. God's will is done in heaven, but less so on earth. God in creating the world, has set it free, that freedom presumably entailing benefits that exceed its costs. In its freedom, the world has become prodigal, abandoning it's divine moorings, and now needs to find its way back to god. According to the Christian teaching, the incarnation of Christ, is god's means of winning the world back to itself, consistent with the world's freedom, without coercion.
And, we can think of that, if you're not a Christian, if you don't think in those terms, that's kind of one of the great things about Jordan Peterson or plenty of other people that look at these kind of things. It's probably what Paul himself, the origins of Christianity was doing by introducing new terminology, by introducing this new Christian language. What was the Christ for Paul? Well, the Christ was the mindset necessary in order to see your part in that play, and better play your part. Basically, how to be the best - It's cheesy, but {laughter} ... you, you can be, right? Where you act correctly according to your own actual, essential convictions, at the heart of who you are, to be able to actually live up to your potential, to actually be able to be a good person.

That is what living in Christ means, to be living in the mindset of the Christ, and what Paul meant by the Christ - he had specific characteristics that was associated with the Christ mentality, the Christ mindset - and basically to take that out of the religious terminology. It's basically to conform your mind to the ideal template for living the best life possible, in all possible ways, according to a set of objective values.

So, there's not really much room for relativity in that view, because relativity is nonsense, at least in the terms of moral relativity. The best options available for different people in different situations are going to be different options, naturally. So there's going to be differences between individuals, but they all align with a common set of values, and a common set of end goals. There is a common set of end goals in the universe. There is a common set of cosmic values that humanity is striving towards, but depending on the conditions in which an individual lives, or a group lives, or an entire epoch of humans lives, there are going to be different options open and the best options are open in different times and places and for different individuals.

So, those were the two Chesterton quotes, but there is one other thing. He mentioned the possibilities or implications it had for the problem of evil. A couple of pages before that, he had just one paragraph on evil. He says that Shannon's communication diagram - this is the diagram that shows the information source, the message, the transmitter and then the signal that is received by the receiver, and then decoded to the destination.

Elan: And also the influence of noise.

Harrison: Yeah, I missed that and I was just going to say it. So while the signal is being sent, that's the noise source. Thanks for pointing that out. [laughter] So, what he writes is that:

Shannon's communication diagram is easily mined for theological resonances. Noise, along the communication channel, for instance, can readily be identified with the distorting effects of evil on intentions that started out good at the information source. It then becomes an open question to what degree the noise source is autonomous, acts by its own warped intention, is perhaps sovereignly instituted by god, or has access to randomness that is beyond divine control.

He comments that: "My own theology causes me to reject the latter option, though process and open theism would be open to it."

So there he's got a reference to process theism, which was developed by Charles Hartshorne based on Whitehead's ideas. So that there, the access to randomness that's beyond divine control. So maybe some degree of evil is due to the things that are out of god's control. I know that David Ray Griffin and Hartshorne would basically agree that there are some things that are just random, that just due to the way that the physical world is constructed. We live on a planet, because of all of the various characteristics of that planet result in things like weather. With things like weather,, certain things can't be controlled, like where a hurricane is going to land and how many people are going to be killed in a hurricane, for instance. That kind of suffering from natural disasters is a type of evil, just like Peterson distinguishes between various types of suffering, the suffering from an accident or a natural disaster and the suffering caused by malevolence. There are different types.

So when we think about that in terms of information, again, this goes back to Whitehead as well. Every being presumably has access to the best eternal object, the best possibility at any given moment. That's what gives it its force. That's what allows the universe to progress into novelty, into something that hasn't happened before. That's why the universe is always different at any given moment, and how new things come into being.

Well, if that's the case, then how does evil come into being? How does malevolence come into being if presumably we all have access to the best possible course of action? Well, if the best possible action is always there if the signal is always being sent. We don't always have access to it to the best degree possible. The signal might be noisy, and why is it noisy? Well it might be from our past actions that have diluted our capacity to receive that signal. It might be due to randomness. Well that's just one way of looking at it, but basically the signal is noise.

Elan: Well, another way of looking at it is that part of the challenge of being a consciousness unit existing in the world, maybe it was god's plan to incorporate the noise as a challenge, as a part of the way that things are set up in order to appreciate those things that do emit a stronger or more beneficial signal, so that in learning about what is, we have to make distinctions between what is and what isn't. That seems to be, or could be part of the plan, I would say, and part of the challenge, and part of the kind of sacrifice that you quoted from in the passage before.

So, we're attempting, I think, as individuals some of us anyway - to weed out those ideas that perhaps don't provide for the best of all possible worlds, and do bring us closer in communion with ideas that are closer to a Christ consciousness or a level of being that is acknowledging the signal for its truth. Or at least making an attempt to see where truth exists in the midst of the noise.

Harrison: Well, Adam, what do you think?

Adam: Yes. Well...

Harrison: Just give us a deep thought right now, top of your head, deep thought time.

Adam: {laughter} Umm...

Harrison: Were there any parts of the book which jumped out at you and struck you as interesting?

Adam: The portion talking specifically about teleology and the purpose and meaning that we must in our interactions with the world and each other ascribe to things, objects, people, and in a materialist universe where all is random and it's all just randomness and natural selection, and yet you have a mind that strives. You have hands that grasp. Coming back to just an overall thing, it seems to me as an essence of nature to have purpose and to work towards something better.

Harrison: Yeah, and that's one of the big implications of looking at the world in this way, is that just as information is fundamental to reality, that purpose is fundamental to reality, that meaning is fundamental to reality. These are things that Jordan Peterson has been saying and that have always been true but no one's been really saying them in a public way for a long time.

Just to repeat ourselves from numerous other shows, that's really what the world needs right now, because if you don't see a world in which meaning is possible and actually real, then what's the point, right? I think that's why so many people commit suicide and just go down really bad paths in their lives. They don't see that they do have a purpose, that they could find some meaning in the world because it's a real meaning, and they've got a very important job to do, that is relevant not only in their own personal lives, but relevant to the entire universe. I may be a small part, but every small part is a big part, essentially.

Look around the world. How many people do you see who are seemingly embodying their purpose one hundred percent? Not very many. So, that should be even more of an impetus to take up the challenge, because, who else is going to do it, right? There's a job that needs to be done, and no one is stepping up to the plate. It might be scary and you can feel resentful about it but that's kind of like missing the point. No, that's where you find meaning, and that's where you feel the best. That's where you feel that everything is right in the world, when you're doing what you're supposed to do. When you have that kind of guiding purpose in your life, that's what actually gives meaning. That's what actually gives, not happiness, but being in the right place at the right time, feeling at one with yourself and the universe, like you're doing what's right. It's not going to be easy, but at least it gives you that kind of satisfaction that you're actually doing something useful.

Adam: At the same time too - I don't know if it's something that Jordan Peterson has said specifically but he's the one that comes to mind specifically when I think about this - was with a divine reality where there's a creative inspiration, a divine impulse, you could say, to reach ever higher moral ideals, it kind of stands in the face of what you see with the SJWs and the NPC liberals who stand at the doors of the Supreme Court banging like nut-jobs because they have a very confined view as to what is and isn't good. And so when you have these ideas of a divine reality and a divine purpose that is far more inclusive of things other than just happiness, or well-being for minorities, when you encompass the world in a more broad sense, it gives you a more informed way to be or to act, and to actually bring about that which you think is good.

Harrison: It brings your own personal possibilities into focus, because when you're acting as a mob, as part of a group, the goals of the group, like if you look at a protest movement, are very broadly defined. When you have a broadly defined aim like that, also the actions you take are broadly varied. So, if your only purpose is to end racism, for instance, then if that's your purpose, then it gets to the point that the end justifies the means, in a sense. 'The most important thing is ending racism, therefore, we will kill as many people as we need to in order to end racism.' That's the worst case scenario that something like that can go to. It comes back to that quote I read about evil, about the noise entering the signal, to the point where it distorts the original good intention.

But when you expand your horizons and get more information about the world in all its complexity, that telescopes down your possibilities to a remarkable degree, where you now have a very limited set of very specific actions to take in the world. It's not this general amorphous thing like fighting the one percent, or ending racism. No, here are the actual actions that you can take in your everyday life, first of all the actions you personally can take in your own development and then the influence that you can have on the people around you, in various spheres of separation, degrees of separation. It becomes a very specific thing, where you have your purpose and your actions that you can take and it's a very personalized, specific course of action, as opposed to just joining a mob, and going to these protests and acting like complete idiots.

There's something there about the level of resolution. The level of resolution for a group mentality, is very low resolution. It's vague, it's broadly defined, it's not specific. It's got these broad goals in mind, but no actual plan. It's kind of like what a lot of critics of US foreign policy have said about Obama's approach to Syria, to Assad. So you say that Assad must go, let's say he goes, what's the result? Who do you put in his place? When you don't have an actual, specific course of action, when you've just got this ideological goal in mind, which isn't very well-defined, which isn't very specific, then that's what opens the course for evil, actually.

But when you look at the complexity of the situation, if all the foreign policy strategists in the west that came up with this great idea that Assad must go, if they actually looked at the complexity of the situation, they would have seen - well this is assuming good intentions and that they actually had truth in mind and the search for actual truth - they wouldn't have done it in the first place. They wouldn't have had this policy. Well, first of all, given conditions and given the nature of the ideological revolutionary forces in Syria that were imported from all around the world, given that nature, Assad is and has been the best option for Syria, objectively.

When you're thinking in terms of a specific country and the fact that any specific country can be better, well yeah, of course. Every specific country can be better in certain ways. That doesn't mean the best option is regime change. There are different types and different levels of regime change. That's a whole other subject, but my main point is that if we're using this as an example, like geopolitics and just the conditions in any given country, take any given country and the situation can be better, naturally.

So then, applying the same kind of principle you get as much information as possible, you learn about all the complexities involved and you see that there's a tightrope that you can walk in order to make things better. Because chances are, any intervention you make, any prescription, any medication you give to any country involved will only make things worse. This is another point that Peterson likes to make; that's the bad thing about openness. The personality trait of openness is that yeah, you get a lot of great ideas that people without openness don't make, but chances are the vast majority of the ideas that you get are bad ideas, and most of them will fail. In fact, most of them will probably make things worse. That's why conservatives are an essential thing for humanity, it's because they prevent bad ideas from being instituted that make things worse. Not always, of course, but that's the role they play.

So, when we tie meaning into this, meaning is finding that tightrope, finding that place where you manage to stay balanced, and you're walking that line but it's a very fine line, and you can go horribly wrong from any slight deviation from that course of action. But that's just the way life is. To get things right is very difficult, because there are so many other possibilities. If there's one best course of action for you to take as an individual, or for an entire country to take, that just means that there's almost an infinitude of bad possibilities. So, that's what you're up against! {laughter} You're up against almost an infinity of bad possibilities and you've got to find the right one.

Now luckily, it is possible to find the right one, or at least the set of relatively good actions. The set of actions that won't make things worse, and might make things a little bit better. At the very least, you can do that, you can make things a little bit better. You don't have to find the perfect course of action, but you can try to avoid making things worse, and just getting things a little bit better.

Elan: Lobaczewski says, do not try and cure something you don't understand.

Harrison: Exactly.

Elan: And the plain fact of the matter is that most people are informed with the idea to do something, do something already, do something! where doing something is tantamount to doing anything, taking some action that doesn't necessarily have any kind of healing, or holistic, or making better component, because they haven't thought it through. You said the world is a very complicated place, and trying to come to the right decision on something, trying to address a problem or issue is like walking a tightrope. It requires an incredible amount of fortitude and patience and intelligence and insight.

Bringing this back to the geopolitical level, we see an incredible display of this on the part of the Russian government, who, at any time in the past, four years, let's say, could have made a disastrous decision in the way of reacting, instead of responding, instead of thinking intelligently on the subject, in the way that they have. They could have gone awry. They could have reacted. They could have taken things too far in any particular direction, which would have justified, in the minds of Western imperial forces, a course of action that could have spelled even greater disaster for the people of Syria, for the people of Ukraine, for the people of any number of different areas.

So, what we're witnessing now, at least in the responses to Western interventionalism and all kinds of crass and destructive behavior on the part of the West from Russia, is just an incredible display of intelligence, of information. They are an example of a group of individuals and a nation, thinking things through to the best of their ability. But this has required on the part of each individual working on behalf of the Russian government, I would say, probably a level of development, objectivity, restraint, and a willingness to work with others in their team, to make the right decisions at every turn. It's just an incredible, historical, almost macro demonstration of being guided by higher principles and morals and good information, is made manifest, in keeping Russia as safe as possible, for as long as possible, and for actually taking a stand for people on the whole planet, who have now taken notice of Russia's actions, and who have viewed them as an example of what it means to behave rationally, behave morally, even if the prevailing narrative is that they're exactly the opposite. So they're standing in the face of the noise of malevolence with a great amount of courage.

Adam: Taking it back to the individual level within the United States in particular, Nike had their new campaign thing, with Colin Kaepernick, "Just do it even if it means losing everything" or something like that.

Harrison: ... sacrificing everything.

Adam: Sacrificing everything, yeah. And it was just talking about the impulse that's out there, telling everyone to just go out and protest and do all of these things. That was immediately what came to my mind, you know, "Just do It!" even if it means not thinking it through completely. You've got to do something to stop this slow creeping march of patriarchy, whatever it is, which is completely antithetical to going about and getting the results that you actually want, in the case of Russia and Putin. When they killed the Russian choir, a year or something ago. When the West killed them...

Harrison: Well, we'll just add that, officially it was an accident.

Adam: Yeah, officially.

Harrison: But go on.

Adam: With something like that, there is the strong impulse to go out and do something, to ignore what would actually happen as a repercussion of that, and to just act on the impulse. But, when you're informed enough about how bad impulses can be, or at least, how bad the consequences of acting on pure impulse can be, that gives you an understanding of what you shouldn't do, all of the various things that you should say "no" to, so that you can build something better within and without.

Harrison: Right, and that ties into our discussion last week on Positive Disintegration. We basically had the same conversation, right? where that distance between yourself and the impulsive acting out of that programmed reaction within you. So when something happens, and you want revenge, like I said last week, the impulse for revenge is rational in a sense. It makes sense. The impulse for revenge makes sense. But the actual act of revenge doesn't always make sense in the wider scheme of things because very many things can go wrong, through playing out that action potential, basically what you're saying right now.

It applies not only on the individual level but on the national level as well. There have been numerous times over the last three years since the whole Russia and Syria thing happened, where there have been various events that happened in Syria where there was an event, when many nations would have gone to war over them, or created some big hubbub in order to get revenge, in order to set things right. The Russian government chose not to, The latest one was with the Israelis setting up the Russian plane to get shot by the Syrian air defence.

But it just shows that when there is the impulse, the impulse will make sense, and the impulse is a live option, right? It's a possibility that, everything else being equal, would be actualized. That's the deterministic view of things, and most people's actions, I think, are deterministically governed, because they go with the easiest option. The easiest option is just to go with the impulse. That is a possibility that is actualized, but it is one that is actualized just by inertia or momentum. You're being pushed from the past. You're being pushed from your past biology, the impulses that have been set up in your limbic system, in your body, in order to push you in a specific direction. Your body wants you to actualize this one possibility.

But, that's just running on autopilot. What you should do is think about it first, look at the possibilities, look at all of the possible courses of action and then you play them through in your mind. This is one of the great things about having a mind, is that you're able to think about various possibilities and run them through. Play out these virtual worlds in your own mind, "If I do this, what are the possible consequences and what are the possible things that can happen that I don't anticipate, or that I don't actually want to happen? Okay, if I do this, I could go to jail, or endanger my relationship with this person, I could set up a whole spiral of revenge, and blah, blah, blah." Run through all these possibilities for your given situation, for your individual situation, and then maybe you'll come to the conclusion that, "Oh maybe that's not the right choice, maybe that's not such a good idea. Well, what is the best option?"

Then, you think some more, and basically you think before you act. If you had a good mom, that's what your mom should have taught you, and your dad, to think before you do something. And sometimes you might get lucky, and the thing that you end up doing, is the thing that you originally wanted to do, and you could say "Oh yeah, good, okay." You can give your emotional body a reward for having a good instinct. "Okay, good emotional body!"

But, it doesn't always work out that way, and that's life, right? That's the thing about this whole informational process, is that it does take work, you do have to think about it, and it can be fun too, to actually think about things, and to look for the best option. And when you actually find a good option, and you do it, that itself gives a reward to your system. It's like okay, good, I did good.

Elan: Good boy!

Harrison: What is it, good pig!

Elan: Good pig! And who knows, maybe being open to praying, or to meditation as an acknowledgement for the idea that there is a higher intelligence out there, and that if we empty our cups just enough, maybe we can access this information that would help inspire us towards the right decisions, especially when they really count, and they're important to us, and we don't want to mess things up. Certainly when we're in the confluence of emotions and reactivity, and the feelings of confluence that bring us down and affect our thinking, and our ability to reason, maybe that is a time to step back, and just concentrate on the idea that there is something bigger than your mind out there that one may be able to be in communion with to some extent, or at least just be open to the possibility of such a thing. I think it would be pretty arrogant to assume that we're all that is and that our ideas and our thoughts and our reasons are the only way that things can go. So there's another possible pathway towards doing the right thing and helping oneself to become informed as to what the right thing may be.

Adam: It's arrogant to think that we are all that is, and I think it's also arrogant to think that you already know, or that you already have that connection, without actually having sat down, thought it through, searched, researched, killed some sacred cows. To think that you already possess that ability to commune with the divine in an uncorrupted way, or to be able to think logically and rationally without having to put in some serious effort, I think is also just as arrogant.

Harrison: Yeah. You used a good word there, search because that's one of the information theory terms for finding the target, is you engage in a targeted search. That's basically what evolution is. It's a search for targets. What any informational process is, is a targeted search. So when you're looking through possibilities, you're searching the possibility space for the one that you want to then actualize, the best one. The nature of a search is that it takes energy, it takes effort to do it.

So tying back to the examples that we gave, with protesters and things like that, they haven't engaged in a search. This might be a good rule of thumb. If you think you have the answer, and you haven't done a lot of work to find the answer, then that implies that you haven't engaged in a systematic search for the answer and that means you're probably wrong, that you haven't found the answer, you haven't found the improbable needle in a haystack, basically. If it has come easily to you, and you think you already have it, then chances are it's not the answer. You can use that as a rule of thumb in your life. If something has come too easily, and if you think you have the answer, you probably don't, so you should engage in a search which requires effort, which is going to be difficult because you're going to have to learn. You're going to have to kill off some parts of yourself that think they are right, and think that they have the answers in order to make room for the new possibilities and the new answers, and you're going to have to work for it.

To come back to the point you were making, Elan, you both made the point about the fact that there's more to the cosmos than just us, and we have to be open to those possibilities, unless you guys have any other comments, I'll read just two more quotes that I found interesting from the book. We've already discussed them in a generalized way but I just want to leave you listeners with some of Dembski's own words, to just sum up some things. First one, from Chapter Four on Possible Worlds he writes:
What are the possibilities that information alternately realizes, or rules out? It is convenient to think of possibilities as existing in possible worlds, and a world as consisting of all possibilities realized in it. In our world, the actual world, Barack Obama was re-elected President of the United States in 2012, dinosaurs once ruled the earth, etc.
Going on:
What is at the top? Or what is the top? The very top, presumably, would be the collection of all possible worlds, in which case the ultimate act of information would be to identify the actual world, the world we inhabit, to the exclusion of other worlds. Philosophers and logicians who ponder such imponderables, reach different conclusions here. As a Christian theist, I'm happy to regard the collection of all possible worlds as residing in the mind of god, and then see god, in an act of creation, as actualizing one world, ours, to the exclusion of others. To say that I'm happy with this prospect is not to say that I'm wedded to it, or that I have a slam dunk argument for it, but it seems to be reasonable given my theological presuppositions.
Well a couple comments maybe on that is that Whitehead came to similar conclusions, not based on theological presuppositions, but based on rigorous philosophical analysis of actually scientific presuppositions because Whitehead argued the presuppositions inherent in the nature of science imply exactly what Dembski was writing about here, a realm that contains all possible worlds, all possibilities, in all possible worlds. Like we said in the Whitehead show, Whitehead called those possibilities eternal objects, and he called the place in which those eternal objects reside the Cosmic Mind, the mind of the cosmos, the cosmic god. So hee came to the same conclusions based on coming at from a secular angle, a scientific philosophical angle, he came to the same conclusion. So, just something to keep in mind there. Next quote is from Chapter 5, Matrices of Possibilities. Just to give some background, I'll read the first paragraph, then the paragraph I want to read:

Because the actual world is so large and unwieldy, we never grasp it in its entirety. Instead, we only grasp certain limited aspects of it. This we do by situating aspects of the world within matrices of possibilities. These form conceptual grids for our inquiries about the world. A matrix of possibility is a collection of possibilities relevant to an inquiry. It provides a window on the actual world. Just as a window always has a frame, and thus views some things and not others, so a matrix of possibility limits inquiry to some aspects of the world excluding others. Because information is produced as some possibilities are realized to the exclusion of others, information is fundamentally relational. The possibilities associated with information exist only in relation to other possibilities and thus, within a reference class of possibilities. From an information theoretic point of view, individual possibilities make no sense on their own, but only as a part of a reference class.

This comes back to the little exchange that we had Adam when we were looking at the book and it being not all other books, but you said all other things that aren't books. Those are reference classes. So that to the idea of information being relational, is that the only way that makes sense, is if we think about all these possibilities in terms of reference classes. Actually, it's consciousness that creates those reference classes. It's not like there's necessarily a pre-existing set of all books and all things that aren't books. Well, that may be the case, but what we do is, we set up the parameters, right? When we're thinking about something, when we're trying to solve a problem, and we're observing something, when we're making a scientific experiment or a scientific observation, we are in control of that process, "OK, I want to analyze this class of things, I'm going to bracket of these, I only want to look at these." We basically make all these choices that then limit our scope of inquiry to a specific reference class of things.

One of the presuppositions or implications behind that is, is what is the nature of reference classes? How can reference classes exist? Are they just a product of human minds? Well then do humans create them? Well, how can we create them when they're not made of matter? A question like that is kind of behind a whole bunch of topics that we've been covering, like consciousness and mathematics and information. Where is the information? Where is the reference class? Where are abstractions?

Adam: Mm hmm.

Harrison: It's these questions led Whitehead and Dembski here to say, "OK, there must be some other realm, essentially, some place where these things exist, some place where there are reference classes, where there are categories of things. It's how we can categorize in the first place because reference classes are possible." We can only put things in categories because it's possible to put things in categories. Well, where is the possibility of putting things in categories? Well, that's part of this fundamental nature of reality. It has to be a fundamental aspect of reality. That again is why Whitehead had to find a place for eternal objects. A guy like Thomas Nagel the philosopher wants to find things like that, wants to find purpose, wants to find the direction of the cosmos, and presumably all other things of that sort, these kind of abstractions that seem real but aren't materially real. He wants to find them in something that is secular. He doesn't like the idea of god.

Well, maybe there's a version of god, a possible god that doesn't have some of the bad things that Nagel doesn't like. I don't know what his objections were. In his book, he said something about the idea rubbed him the wrong way. He didn't like the idea of god being the source of purpose in the universe, or a cosmic mind being the receptacle, the realm in which all eternal objects exist. But that seems like the best option available. I haven't seen a better one, and Nagel himself doesn't give a better one. He says, "Well, I don't like that idea, so I'm going to place my bet on there being a non-theological source for all these things." But, he can't really describe it, because, at this point, we don't really have the words to describe it, as opposed to using some divine language, some concept that includes consciousness and meaning and intelligence and information. all these things that need to be at that level in order for them to be possible in our universe.

Maybe it's just that the reality and the source of all those things is god in a sense in which religions haven't been very good in putting into words. Maybe the religious conceptions of god have been more symbol than hard fact, or hard description of reality. Maybe there's something to them, but we have to figure out what it actually means. That's the direction that Collingwood went in, that there is a philosophical explanation, or a way of putting things philosophically, in philosophical language that accounts for what religions are trying to describe symbolically. There's still a place for symbolic representation and the effect that that has on a part of our being that only responds to symbols, but there seems to be a way of putting it philosophically too. That's kind of what Whitehead, Collingwood, Dembski and all these people have been talking about, Peterson have either been attempting to do, or have done a pretty good job of doing, or at least they're on the way to giving a description of that.

So, I think with that said, we will leave things there, and probably now that we've set this recording in stone, we can come back to it at other times and refer to the concepts that we've talked about in this show. So thanks everyone for tuning in, thanks guys for talking about this book and we'll see everyone next week, so everyone take care.

Adam: Bye everyone.

Elan: See ya!