Letters to God – Part 4: Punishment

source: http://wobble-house.blogspot.co.il/2012/03/concept-of-god.html

Last week I started a new ritual in my daily: I come early from work (before sunset) and walk around the block with my son, while he has a patch on his good eye. Last week we found out (once again by chance) that he lost almost all of his sight in one eye :-(, so I want to do a more daily follow-up on this, and also use this time to talk to him and understand how he feels.

Yesterday was tough. In the middle of the walk, while talking about an eye exam he was doing today (and after doing it once, hates it), he asked one question: Why was I punished with this? Why did God punish me?

Tough one, ah?

First I had to stop myself from crying. After I managed this, I tried to explain to him that he was not being punished. That we simply don’t understand what God wants from us and that if he gave him what he did, it must be for a purpose, but we are simply too dumb and simple to understand this.

The conversation went “uphill” from that point, and we talked about all of the bad things that happen in the world (well, not all but many), and how, if I was to make the world, people would never get sick and would never die. He thought this would be boring, having all of the time the same people around, doing the same jobs. So we settled on having no sickness and when people got bored, they would simply go to sleep forever. Deep thoughts for a seven-year old kid.

So God, tell me. Just between you and me. Are you punishing us or is this really the way you meant the world to be?

Scott Adams on Religion

If you are an engineer, you must know Dilbert. If not, please go there now and come back after you have read all of it. I’ll wait.

You’re back? good. Now you should also subscribe and read to the blog of Scott Adams, the creator if Dilbert. I don’t agree with all of his views, but he does make the mind exercise. And since lately I am talking about religion and reality and how things work, this phrase in one of his posts (at the bottom) just “clicked”:

I’m not a believer, but I’ve evolved to be pro-religion because I observe religion to be a functional interface to a reality our brains aren’t designed to understand.

So maybe we’ll never understand.

Letters to God – Part 3: A Theory of Everything

Hi God. It’s been a long time since my last letter, but I have been thinking a lot about how to write this post and what would be the best way to explain what I want to say. And just like they say, perfect is the enemy of good… So let’s just get started and see how this goes.

The saying goes that “Everything is for the good” is a typical Israeli/Jewish saying that is told to people in hard times. Many people also read/hear this as “everything is for my good”, but I think they are wrong. Everything is for the good, but not personal, but general. For the goodness of your general plan of which you still don’t want to share any details.

But if you have a plan, what about our free will? How can you decide the direction in which the world is/will go but at the same time let us do whatever we think our mind chooses?

I think both can be done at the same time. And this is my “Theory of Everything”. If we look at the world around us, what are we? We are our reactions to our inputs (yes… I’m a software developer…). And what are our inputs but the creation of our brain? If you take a look at what surrounds us, take a deeper look. Deeper. There is mostly empty space. Even the densest of materials in the world is composed of atoms that are composed of a nucleus and a cloud of electrons with LOADS of space in between. Therefore when we touch something there is no real contact between elements. What we feel is the force that is applied between the two things, the energy that one has against the energy that the other one has.

So the world is energy. Nice. But let’s go back to us and our inputs. I am now sitting in the train, writing this post. Every second, microsecond, picosecond, $epsilon$, is a point where I have made a decision. Maybe not a conscious decision but a decision anyhow. And there are millions of possibilities every second. Will I write an ‘a’ or a ‘b’? Will I click the keyboard with my first finger or my second finger? Will I breathe now or in one millisecond? We can visualize this as a graph (for the CS grads out there, a tree):

Every point in time is a jump that moves you forward in this decision graph. And every decision you make changes the possible path that you can take in the future:

And we are all just traveling together in this graph, moving forward as we take multiple, infinitesimal decisions. And we are all moving together because the choices we have at each step are not only affected by our decisions, but also by the decisions taken by all of the people in the world (yes, the butterfly effect). At every step there is a “decision plane” with all of the possible paths that everybody can take, and each move creates a new plane of choices for the whole world (or universe). I have a great picture in my mind of how this should look, and I’ll try to reproduce it:

Now how is this related to the existence or absence of free will? And how is this related to “everything is for the good”? First, while we have free will to make the choice of how we move from one decision plane to the other, we are not the creators. And while each decision plane may seem to us as random, it is predesigned to take us in a specific direction of all the real possible directions. Even if the next decision plane is infinite, it doesn’t have to contain all of the options, but just the option that will take us on a journey to the final destination. So we have free will, and we have infinite choices, but there is some force that is directing us (all of us) towards a final destination. And this destination is by definition good. So “everything is for the good”. Not my personal good, not any private personal good, but the good of the destination (by definition).

There are yet more things that can be explained using this theory, such as deja-vus and prophecy, but this letter is getting long so I’ll leave this for next time. As usual, it was very nice writing to you, and as like always, I await your answer, even if by my theory, this will never happen. Or maybe already planned. Who knows…