Just introducing some ideas here, and they might seem weird, but the question is worth pursuing. One of the big problems in emerging science today is in the field of nanotechnology. This science deals with those sub-atomic robots that can build virtually anything from the atomic level, using electrons to organize and construct anything you wish to be built, from steel girders to steak.
One little problem: in order to do this, the nanobots must first build enough of themselves to be able to create sufficient quantities of whatever they’re supposed to create for you.
Suppose, for example, you want them to build you a nice 1966 full-scale, operating model of a Ford Mustang. Assuming they could do this, their first program would be to build enough of themselves to create the Mustang in a reasonable time period. But something happens in their replication. They become cancer-like, and suddenly they start replicating themselves with no means of stopping them. The begin to scavenge electrons from everything available, including grass, dirt, animals, and even you, and still they keep on building more of themselves.
This is pretty much the problem considered in nanotechnology. Once you enable them to start replicating, how do you keep them from going crazy?
In the field of biology and environment, Philip Slater writes of a similar process describing cancer-like systems:
“Imagine a mass of cancerous tissue, the cells of which enjoyed consciousness. Would they not be full of self congratulatory sentiments at their independence, their more advanced level of development, their rapid rate of growth? Would they not sneer at their more primitive cousins who were bound into a static and unfree existence, with limited aspirations, subject to heavy group constraint, and obviously ‘going nowhere’? Would they not rejoice in their control over their own destiny, and cheer the conversion of more and more normal cells as convincing proof of the validity of their own way of life? Would they not, in fact, feel increasingly triumphant right up to the moment the organism on which they fed expired?”
In short, Slater is describing a basic replication process that is involved with self-reference, of determining its success simply by means of its own expansion. The nanobots, however, would likely not possess consciousness or self-awareness, but their programming would entail replication as a prime requirement to build larger, more complex systems.
Did you ever read the Tower of Babel story found in the Bible, Genesis chapter 11? Interesting similarity. There’s this large group of people, capable of both consciousness and self-awareness. Using this self-awareness, they select a goal for themselves collectively. They said “Why don’t we get together and build a tower, whose top will be so high, we can see what God is doing?” Forget the possibility that there really is no God. What is interesting is that suddenly a group forms that is capable of deciding goals for itself as a collective. So they focus completely on this one project, to build a tower that will enable them to see what God is doing.
Of course, this person called God is alarmed by the process, and for some interesting reasons. He says “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do, and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do”.
Here we see a variation of the problem established in nanotechnology. A really big group of individuals capable of technology and self-awareness, all focused on one singular goal to the exclusion of all other goals. What could it harm? Well, if they actually did discover what God was up to, and if there was a God, it might not harm anything. But what if they built, and built, and built some more, and never found what they were looking for? This is what is known as accelerated entropy. You know about entropy, right? If you take energy from one section and use it for organizing some related system, you cause chaos in the system from which you borrow. The more you borrow from that system, the more chaos results. Eventually, you will no longer be able to borrow from that system, so you range a little farther, and borrow from other systems, until you are gong so far you’ve destroyed all the systems that once provided your sense of order in the world.
Accelerated entropy leading to your total destruction, because you’ve destroyed the very environment on which you depend.
So what did this person called God decide to do? Very interesting solution:
“Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
Think about that. If each person operated from a specialist system of language, that person would have to re-integrate his behaviors with his environment so that there would once again be a balance between the individual and the environment on which he depended.
Suppose you take nanobots and create specialist language in the form of programming that enables them to do certain things but no more. You limit their functions so each of them can do simple things which, when added together produce synergy, a system in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
But what if the system overcomes the language barriers and begins to organize by more complex systems? Sooner or later it has to happen, and how would you program them so they divided into smaller groups?
When you talk of programming, you’re talking of algorithms, and when you talk of algorithms, you’re talking of decision procedures.
If individuals can breach their specialist language by developing a language according to unifying concepts that allow “unconscious” organization, you have the problem of the nanobots and the tower of Babel all over again.
The problem is not one of unity and organization, but of continual splintering and speciation, of necessary adaptation t more specialized needs within the environment.
How would you do that? Would it be possible to set up a system that operated so that unity would constantly be thwarted by another system that drove people toward speciation?
In fact, such a process has been discovered as a mathematical theorem developed by Kurt Godel in the 1930s. Godel developed a theorem which is gaining increasing popularity for discussion in the computer world of today.
The fascinating application of Godel’s theorem, you see, is the result of the conscious attempt of people to do what I described above. In that same time period, the dominating mathematician of the day was David Hilbert, and Hilbert, along with other mathematicians, began to wonder if they could actually develop a formal system of number theory that could simply avoid such things as intuition and “meanings”, and create a formal system so basic that it would only require a system of marks on a paper, each of which, by their connective structure, would lead us mathematically to one complete, consistent system. Imagine! One complete, consistent system that could dispense with the need for human error of thought, with human frailties such as greed, desire, envy, power-seeking, all the things that cause destruction, to be replaced with a completely formalized system that only required following the prescribed functions!
Alas, Kurt Godel came along and showed that such things were forever doomed, at least in every predictive sense. Godel had demonstrated a metamathematical system with all the rigors and formalism of mathematics, which proved once and for all that in any consistent axiomatic formulation of number theory, there exists undecidable propositions.
Doesn’t sound so impressive, does it? And yet, it applies to all formal systems, from computers to neural networks, to perhaps even human brains, and it tells us that if we try to devise any formal system to capture all truth, we can never, in any predictive fashion, hope to succeed! In terms of truth, “Big ‘T'”, we just can’t get there from here!
We simply can’t define any “higher” reason to show why we should unite, and if we DO propose such a reason, we can;t prove that we have a right to deprive anyone who might disagree with our goals.
In terms of one united truth, we can’t get “there” from “here”. And if we propose a God who is consistent with, and the source of all truth, we cannot, by any decision procedure of our own, get from “here” to “God”!
In all formal endeavors, no matter how complex, the very complexity of the system itself will force us toward an infinity of undecidable propositions! We can’t do it, and the most powerful computers can’t do it!
The entire structure of our thinking seems to have a built -in “failsafe” that keeps us from organizing in such a way as to accelerate our own destruction.
In religion, we have parallels to this in New testament teaching. Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:34-38, that all attempts to follow him will result in continual division and splintering, until our own families will be against us. In Romans 8:7, Paul writes that the natural mind is enmity against God, and cannot be subject to Gods laws, which would mean that every attempt to organize in God’s name will have the same effect as trying to organize according to one unifying truth.Today, as evidence of that fact, we have over 38,000 versions of Christianity alone!
It would seem that we are embedded in an environment of constant change, and we must adapt to that change consciously, to grow in knowledge, so that we may continue to survive on this planet.
God or no God, the mathematical evidence now suggests that we are literally programmed by the very nature of mathematics itself, to be unable to succeed by our own efforts, and that seems to be what Paul says in Ephesians 2: 8-10, among other scriptures.