Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pratchett on Chaos Theory

"The Quantum Weather Butterfly (Papilio tempestae) is an undistinguished yellow colour, although the mandelbrot patterns on the wings are of considerable interest. Its outstanding feature is its ability to create weather.

This presumably began as a survival trait, since even an extremely hungry bird would find itself inconvenienced by a nasty localized tornado. From there it possibly became a secondary sexual characteristic, like the plumage of birds or the throat sacs of certain frogs. Look at me, the male says, flapping his wings lazily in the canopy of the rain forest. I may be an undistinguished yellow colour but in a fortnight's tone, a thousand miles away, Freak Gales Cause Road Chaos."

(Interesting Times, Terry Pratchett)

Friday, August 17, 2007

A different take on theology -II

1) There are billions of gods in the world. they swarm as thick as herring roe. Most of them are too small to see and never get worshiped, at least by anything bigger than bacteria, who never say their prayers and don't demand much in the way of miracles. They're the Small Gods- the spirits of places where 2 ant trails cross, the gods of micro-climates down between the grass roots. And most of them stay that way... because what they lack is belief.

...what gods need is belief, and what humans want is gods.


2) "... I never did thundering. demarcation, see. Bloody I've-got-a-big-hammer Blind Io up on Nob Hill does all the thundering."

"You said there were thousands of thunder gods."

"Yeah. And he's all of them. Rationalization. A couple of tribes join up; they've got thunder gods, right? And the gods kinda run together- you know how amebas split? Well, its like that, only the other way."

"I still don't see how one god can be a hundred thunder gods. They all look different..."

"False noses. And different voices. I happen to know Io's got 70 different hammers. Not common knowledge, that. And its just the same with mother goddesses. there's only one of them. She's just got a lot of wigs and of course, its amazing what you can do with a padded bra."

3) People said there had to be a Supreme Being because otherwise how could the universe exist, eh? And of course there clearly had to, said Koomi, a Supreme Being. But since the universe was a bit of a mess, it was obvious that the Supreme Being hadn't in fact, made it. If he'd made it, he would, being Supreme, have made a much better job of it, with far better thought being given, taking an example at random, to things like the human nostril.
Or, to put it another way, the existence of a badly put-together watch proved the existence of a blind watchmaker. You only had to look around and see that there was room for improvement practically everywhere.

This suggested that the universe had probably been put together in a bit of a rush by an underling while the Supreme Being wasn't looking...

So, reasoned Koomi, it wasn't a good idea to address any prayers to a Supreme Being. It'd only attract his attention and might cause trouble.

Koomi's theory was largely based on the good ol' Gnostic heresy, which tends to turn up all over the multiverse whenever men get up off their knees and start thinking for 2 minutes together, although the shock of the sudden altitude means that the thinking's a little whacked. But it upsets priests, who tend to vent their displeasure in traditional ways.

-Terry Pratchett (Small Gods)

What/who are you when you're floating protoplasm?

"Imagine y'self floating alone in the ocean, abandoned.

What assets do you have?

You have your mind, your brain. Your mind's stored information on survival situations, shipwreck situations, and your ability to swim.
Your brain functions as a product of your experiences and training. Inside your mind are your decision-making and problem-solving faculties; the machinery to help you decide whether to swim for land, or to float for as long as possible in the hope of being picked up. Your mind's synonymous with your heart, reflecting the levels of toughness, determination and emotional control that you bring to the situation.

The state of your body might be critical. Is it fit? have you eaten recently? Are you hydrated?

What's your level of hope?

Do you have friends or family who'll definitely be searching for you?

Are you feeling lucky?

Do you believe in God?

How long you survive will likely be decided by the answers to these questions. Reduced to floating protoplasm, we have an excellent opportunity to look at ourselves. What do you have to live for? Have you pretty much done and seen it all? do you feel your life mission's complete?"

Mark Bender (Operation Excellence)