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volume II: Synopsis

page 4:

Language

One of the most amazing things about our world is that we can share very complicated ideas with strings of symbols like these. How is this possible? The answer lies in language and the abstract idea of coding. Language - Wikipedia, Coding theory - Wikipedia

Mind thrives on language, which comes in many forms. We think of language as any code that can be used to share information between independent entities ('sources'). As we develop from babies, we absorb and respond to the human language around us. Written representations of language, like this page, enable us to share knowledge through space and time.

What is happening when we communicate with language? The idea behind coding is to transform the same information into different representations which may be optimized for different purposes. If we are talking to one another, images in my mind are being converted into strings of sound. The strings of sound are moving your mind to form images similar to those in my mind. And vice-versa. Through language we have correlated our minds.

In the case of simple instructions like 'break one small brown hen's egg into a wine glass' the images are clear and unequivocally define certain actions.

In more difficult situations dialogue is necessary to get ideas across. A dialogue is a recursive process, each of us stimulating the other to a reply. It may be an unbounded ramble, or it may converge on the precise communication of one particular idea. I say 'mathematics is a language'. You say 'what do you mean by language?' I say . . . . This process is similar to the idea of moving toward a limit in mathematics and perturbation theory in physics. Limit (mathematics) - Wikipedia, Perturbation theory - Wikipedia

Despite its difficulties, we know that language works well most of the time. Communication can fail, of course, but we remain confident that failures can be overcome if dialogue is infused with goodwill and patience.

Language is not unique to human beings, nor is it confined to sound. Here we accept Landauer's proposition that all information is encoded physically. The number of different ways physical phenomena can be arranged to represent information is practically infinite. Rolf Landauer

We know that every element of the Universe communicates with every other, and that each channel of communication uses a particular language. The human species has, or has used, tens of thousands of different languages. We are becoming aware that animals and plants also have languages.

All these languages are rooted in the languages of physics. Physical languages are sometimes called forces, since like human languages, they enable individuals to move or change one another. Physicists have identified four forces, called strong, weak, electromagnetism and gravitation. The sum of their communication is the life of the Universe at every scale from the majestic whole to events so small that they are measured by the quantum of action. These languages are studied by quantum mechanics. Strong interaction - Wikipedia, Weak interaction - Wikipedia, Electromagnetism - Wikipedia, Gravitation - Wikipedia

The language of physics supports the language of chemistry, which in turn is used to build the languages of life like genomic, the language of genes. Genomic encodes the detailed molecular structure of every creature. Like sentences in human language, genomes are divided into words called genes. Each gene has a certain basic meaning which is nuanced by the context in which the gene is expressed. The dialogue between creature and environment that shapes genomic sentences is evolution by natural selection.

I imagine this work as the genome of a very simple virus. A virus, unlike a cell, cannot read its own genes. Instead it must inject its genome into a cell so that the cell can read the genes and produce new viruses. The genes here are pages. The following pages are laid out in a narrative order, because that makes it easy to see if they are complete. Through hyperlinking, they may be read in any order and visited any number of times. Virus - Wikipedia

Hopefully, through this process, you may be able to build in your mind a version of the structure that exists in my mind. Like the instructions in a cookery book, this communication has a practical purpose. That purpose is to show, by looking at the world in a particular way, that it is possible to realize our dreams of heaven on earth.

These dreams are themselves fuelled by language. Through the Bible the Christian God is believed to have revealed itself once for all time to all mankind. It could be difficult to overestimate the influence that the Bible has had on human life. In particular, we have the notion that life on earth is not meant to be easy. It is a trial, designed to separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep are destined for an eternal life of bliss. The goats for an equally eternal life of pain.

Is this true? Maybe not. A new linguistic picture may drive a new dream: to manage our lives on earth so that they are heavenly. The Christian paradigm would say that this is not possible, because we are inherently evil. The physical paradigm says that as far as we can see, our Universe is as perfect as can be and divine, and that we can make our lives quite good given the necessary knowledge, cooperation and acceptance of reality.

First we dreamt about flight, then we flew. Later we wanted to travel to the moon, and we did. Do we want to live in peace and harmony with ourselves and our planet? If your answer is yes, it may help to read on.

[revised 28 March 2013]

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Further reading

Books

Click on the "Amazon" link below each book entry to see details of a book (and possibly buy it!)

Campbell, Jeremy, Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language and Life, Allen Lane 1982 Foreword: 'This book is an attempt to tell the story of information theory and how it evolved out of the ferment of scientific activity during the Second World War. ... The laws and theorems of this science stimulated exciting ideas in biology and language, probability theory, psychology, philosophy, art, computers and the study of society.' 
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Campbell, Jeremy, Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language and Life, Allen Lane 1982 Foreword: 'This book is an attempt to tell the story of information theory and how it evolved out of the ferment of scientific activity during the Second World War. ... The laws and theorems of this science stimulated exciting ideas in biology and language, probability theory, psychology, philosophy, art, coputers and the study of society.' 
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Crystal, David, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, Cambridge University Press 1992 Jacket: '... universally acclaimed as the most exciting and comprehensive book on language ever written. With over 600 maps, diagrams and photographs, the book is a unique source of information on the variety, structure, history and theory of language - for the student of language or literature and those interested in how we communicate.' 
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de Boysson-Bardies, Benedicte, How Language comes to Children, MIT Press 1999 'Inside the genetically determjned envelope of what is linguistically possible, the child has leeway to choose his or her personal avenue to the mother tongue. In the author's own words: "Children's styles or modes of accessing language show themselves to be incredibly different. How can this be explained on the basis of common mechanisms?" Two-hundred-odd pages of clear prose built on an enviable expertise make it very clear that this is not a rhetorical question' [From a review by Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, Nature, 400:829-30, 26 August 1999] 
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Donoghue, Denis , The Sovereign Ghost: Studies in Imagination , Faber and Faber 1978  
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Hofstadter, Douglas R, Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, Basic Books, HarperCollins Publishers Inc 1997 Amazon: 'In the fall of 1537, a child was confined to bed for some time. The French poet Clément Marot wrote her a get-well poem, 28 lines long, each line a scant three syllables. In the mid-1980s, the outrageously gifted Douglas R. Hofstadter- il miglior fabbro of Godel, Escher, Bach - first attempted to translate this "sweet, old, small elegant French poem into English." He was later to challenge friends, relations, and colleagues to do the same. The results were exceptional, and are now contained in Le Ton Beau De Marot, a sunny exploration of scholarly and linguistic play and love's infinity. Less sunny, however, is the tragedy that hangs over Hofstadter's book, the sudden death of his wife, Carol, from a brain tumor. (Her translation is among the book's finest.) 
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Joyce, James, Finnegans Wake, Faber and Faber 1982 Webster: 'Experimental novel by James Joyce. Extracts of the work appeared as Work in Progress from 1928 to 1937, and it was published in its entirety as Finnegans Wake in 1939. The book is, in one sense, the story of a publican in Chapelizod (near Dublin), his wife, and their three children; but Mr. Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, Mrs. Anna Livia Plurabelle, and Kevin, Jerry, and Isabel are every family of mankind. The motive idea of the novel, inspired by the 18th-century Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico, is that history is cyclic; to demonstrate this the book begins with the end of a sentence left unfinished on the last page. Languages merge: Anna Livia has "vlossyhair"--wlosy being Polish for "hair"; "a bad of wind" blows--bad being Persian for "wind." Characters from literature and history appear and merge and disappear. On another level, the protagonists are the city of Dublin and the River Liffey standing as representatives of the history of Ireland and, by extension, of all human history. As he had in his earlier work Ulysses, Joyce drew upon an encyclopedic range of literary works. His strange polyglot idiom of puns and portmanteau words is intended to convey not only the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious but also the interweaving of Irish language and mythology with the languages and mythologies of many other cultures. ' 
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Lodge, David, The Art of Fiction, Illustrated from Classic and Modern texts., Penguin Books 1992 Jacket: 'Brings to criticism the verve and humour of his own novels. DL has provided essential reading for students of literature, aspirant writers, and anyone who wishes to understand how literature works.'  
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Pagels, Heinz R, The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature, Michael Joseph 1983 Jacket: 'Pagels provides an overview of quantum physics and traces the historical development of the science, which began with the ancient Greek concepts of the "atom".' 
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Links
Coding theory - Wikipedia Coding theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Coding theory is the study of the properties of codes and their fitness for a specific application. Codes are used for data compression, cryptography, error-correction and more recently also for network coding. Codes are studied by various scientific disciplines—such as information theory, electrical engineering, mathematics, and computer science—for the purpose of designing efficient and reliable data transmission methods.' back
Electromagnetism - Wikipedia Electromagnetism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation. Electromagnetism is the force that causes the interaction between electrically charged particles; the areas in which this happens are called electromagnetic fields.' back
Gravitation - Wikipedia Gravitation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped. Gravitation causes dispersed matter to coalesce, and coalesced matter to remain intact, thus accounting for the existence of the Earth, the Sun, and most of the macroscopic objects in the universe.' back
Language - Wikipedia Language - Wikipedia 'Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication. The scientific study of language in any of its senses is called linguistics. The approximately 3000–6000 languages that are spoken by humans today are the most salient examples, but natural languages can also be based on visual rather than auditory stimuli, for example in sign languages and written language. Codes and other kinds of artificially constructed communication systems such as those used for computer programming can also be called languages. A language in this sense is a system of signs for encoding and decoding information.' back
Limit (mathematics) - Wikipedia Limit (mathematics) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'In mathematics, the concept of a "limit" is used to describe the behavior of a function as its argument or input either "gets close" to some point, or as the argument becomes arbitrarily large; or the behavior of a sequence's elements as their index increases indefinitely. Limits are used in calculus and other branches of mathematical analysis to define derivatives and continuity.' back
Perturbation theory - Wikipedia Perturbation theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Perturbation theory comprises mathematical methods that are used to find an approximate solution to a problem which cannot be solved exactly, by starting from the exact solution of a related problem. Perturbation theory is applicable if the problem at hand can be formulated by adding a "small" term to the mathematical description of the exactly solvable problem.' back
Rolf Landauer Information is a Physical Entity 'Abstract: This paper, associated with a broader conference talk on the fundamental physical limits of information handling, emphasizes the aspects still least appreciated. Information is not an abstract entity but exists only through a physical representation, thus tying it to all the restrictions and possibilities of our real physical universe. The mathematician's vision of an unlimited sequence of totally reliable operations is unlikely to be implementable in this real universe. Speculative remarks about the possible impact of that, on the ultimate nature of the laws of physics are included.' back
Strong interaction - Wikipedia Strong interaction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'In particle physics, the strong interaction (also called the strong force, strong nuclear force, or color force) is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, the others being electromagnetism, the weak interaction and gravitation. As with the other fundamental interactions, it is a non-contact force. At atomic scale, it is about 100 times stronger than electromagnetism, which in turn is orders of magnitude stronger than the weak force interaction and gravitation. ' back
Virus - Wikipedia Virus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'A virus is a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses can infect all types of organisms, from animals and plants to bacteria and archaea.' back
Weak interaction - Wikipedia Weak interaction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Weak interaction (often called the weak force or sometimes the weak nuclear force), is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, alongside the strong nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity. It is responsible for the radioactive decay of subatomic particles and initiates the process known as hydrogen fusion in stars. Weak interactions affect all known fermions; that is, particles whose spin (a property of all particles) is a half-integer.' back

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