Information loss in a course in miracles

Friday, Aug 06, 2021 2064 words 9 mins 10 secs
An A Course in Miracles Blog  © 2021 Paul West

We often talk about the versions of the course, the editing, whether all the facts are included etc. And then on top of that we try to understand its metaphysical model, its concepts and ideas, and argue over which model is the right one.

But what we should perhaps really be more concerned with is whether true information has been lost. ie whether we have the whole truth represented in word form, or whether key detail has been lost.Information is ... the minimum amount of detail that is needed to represent something with perfect logical accuracy.

In its simplest form, for example, let's say there are two squares next to each other. One is black and one is white. You can distinguish that there are two, because they contrast to each other. This contrast is information. If you were to, for example, color both squares white, you cannot tell whether its one square or two squares. Information has been lost.

In information theory, which is used for such things as data compression algorithms for example, and also in science, there is something called entropy. Entropy is a measure of the absolutely minimum possible size that the information can be, in order to fully and accurately represent something.

When you have files on your computer, or images for example, you can "compress" them. Usually this is based on representing larger repeated things with smaller symbols. You can get back exactly what you started with by "de-compressing" it based on the symbols. But this can only be done up to a point. There is a threshold at which you CANNOT compress the files any smaller, without losing information. All the "information" needed to fully describe the image must be retained in some form.

With images for example, the jpeg file format is not an accurate representation of the image. It LOSES ACCURACY as a trade-off for making the files smaller. The more accuracy it loses, the smaller the representation becomes, the blurrier the image is. It starts to develop artifacts which are visual errors. From that "overly reduced" data, you CANNOT get back the original full fidelity and quality of the original image. Key accuracy of information is LOST.

When we conceive of truth, when we try to describe reality, or talk about God and his creation etc, these lofty and rather abstract metaphysical ideas, the temptation is to make the representation of that truth, the symbol of that truth, be as SMALL AND SHORT as possible. We somehow think that less is always more, and that "simpler" must be more true. This is NOT true. TOO FEW words is INACCURATE.

When an accurate representation of something is reduced SO much, it has to in fact LOSE very important detail. The information becomes blurred, vague, generalized, overly abstract, and really does NOT contain the subtle nuances that are actual aspects of the whole truth. It may SEEM like it represents the whole of the truth but it doesn't. It's an APPROXIMATION, like a jpeg image, which is "sort of close" to being accurate and gives you some idea of it, but IS NOT accurate.

Examples of this happening include "reductionistic" statements like "Everything is God." Well now. For some reason that sounds all mystical and special and lofty. But, such a vague statement lacks enough detail to be accurate. You cannot GET BACK the full story when you BASE logical conclusions on this information. The reconstruction of the whole story is corrupted.

You could say for example, well, it seemed like the Son of God feel asleep and dreamed of death. But ... since ITS ALL GOD.... THIS MUST MEAN, logically, that God HIMSELF fell asleep and dreamed of death. That is absolutely what it implies. You can argue that "no it doesn't" but all you're doing is trying to pretend that it is accurate because the BS alarms are going off to indicate errors. The fact is that the information that's given is NOT ENOUGH, it DOES NOT accurately represent the whole truth, and it's too vague.

MORE WORDS IS BETTER! Or perhaps we can say, you want ideally the fewer number of words which FULLY AND ACCURATELY represent the whole truth. I you can be sure this is not going to be 3 words or even 20 words.

So yes, even in terms of thinking about abstract spiritual stuff, even in terms of oneness, god being all, everything is mind, son and father blending into each other, going beyond words and concepts... all this stuff.... when you are USING LANGUAGE and logical constructs to THINK about it..... and you strip SO much away that you start losing vital information, going BEYOND the entropy threshold, you are literally turning a detailed and nuanced truth into a blob of mush and mud and blurriness and meaninglessness. Because you think that is what spirituality is like .... this oneness thing... must mean, we only need to use one word. Not even close.

There IS an entropy limit beyond which you cannot go, in logical reasoning, in discussion, in theorizing, in metaphysics, in conceptualizing reality, where if you DO go beyond it, you have chopped out SO much information that you're not even really talking about the whole truth anymore. You're making a vague approximation which is NOT accurate enough. And it is therefore MISELADING. The more you push it towards eradicating as many words as possible, down to like "everything's God"... you have seriously censored significant major truths.

If for example I have a flower with 6 petals and I tell you that I have "a flower", but I don't tell you that it has 6 petals, in your mind you may envisage a flower with 8 petals. You are wrong. I did not give you enough information to represent the whole truth about what I have. There is information loss. I have been TOO VAGUE. I have reduced the accuracy of the representation of truth BEYOND the limit of information entropy, and have gone into the realm of a LACK OF TRUTH. A loss of precision.

It is funny then that when we talk about "its all one thing", we are actually LACKING truth, while pretending to talk about truth. We are not being accurate because we are not giving enough information. In fact we're trying to SPIRITUALIZE WORDS by having the fewest words possible. Less words is not more spiritual! In fact less words can be corrupting and destructive and a complete misrepresentation of the truth.

There are some people that go so far with their stripping away of any notion of anything informational - which usually means anything separate-sounding - any contrast or delineation or division or any notion of a "something" or two of anything.... that they enter a logical realm of total abstract bullshit. It devolves into meaningless drivel with specialness all over it. Ego loves to do this because it thinks a count of one is more spiritual than a count of two. It's concept of truth is flawed.

If for example it is true that God has at least one son. And if we say that this son IS God. And that is ALL that we tell you. If we tell you that is the WHOLE truth. Then someone is going to think ok.... the son IS God, so.... when the son fucks up and dreams of death and imagines murder, this must be God doing it right? Sure thing. God is now dreaming of death. We weren't specific enough or accurate enough.

It's a nice idea to imagine that God is this total 100% abstraction which is SO abstract that there is NO detail to it, no properties, no structure, no qualities, no characteristics, nothing. Just a nice blob of existence sitting there all by itself. That is NOT an accurate enough representation using words and symbols and language. It is a massive information loss. And God DOES in fact have properties, qualities, a "nature", a premise, law, mind, thought, causation, will, love, etc. The attempt to reduce truth to NOTHING, is an attempt by the ego to destroy the truth!

We HAVE to understand that God is for example infinite and absolute. We have to properly specify what God'e nature actually is before we can start basing conclusions on it. If you knew that God is causal and a creator, you would also know that God MUST have creations which MUST in turn have creations. The logic in this is utterly impeccable. But you can't see that or come to that conclusion is you DON'T specify that God is causal, or that his creations have to inherit through extension, or that he is a creator at all.

So when you become too vague, thinking it is spiritual, thinking you are representing truth more, thinking that "its oneness" is the most spiritual thing anyone has ever conceived of. ... it is not true. You CANNOT go that far into the loss of information and represent the whole truth using language and logic. But people are doing it all the time. "It's all God" ... well, sort of... but no. It's not. God has creations. "God is everything" .. well.. sort of, but no. God is not an illusion. Did you specify that? You need to.

So in terms of the editions of the course and the editing and the words in the book and the repetition of concepts and ideas and whether it contains ALL distinct information, fact, accuracy, precision and is "complete" informationally, you really need to think more in terms of ..... is there a full and accurate representation of the whole truth here. Is there ENOUGH words to represent the whole message. And that does NOT mean there should be too FEW words OR more than is needed. More words is not always an improvement either.

We might ask if something has been LOST, vital information, which is not repeated, which is missing, and that without it the picture is incomplete. It doesn't matter so much if the same ideas are presented many times, or if the concepts taught are built upon by others, etc. We need the whole accuracy and full scope of the truth, enough description to leave no loopholes, but we don't necessarily need 550,000 words to do that. But what matters is when you become SO reductionistic that you chop out VITAL information and disappear up your own arse.

So perhaps we can steer away from all these super-short ultra-vague trying-to-be-mystical statements of vagueness, and instead realize that you HAVE to use enough words in order to fully communicate an idea. You can't JUST say "God is" at this level and expect someone to understand that this DOESN'T imply that God is a piece of dog poop on the sidewalk. A more accurate, more detailed definition is needed, to close loopholes and stop logical errors from happening. This is why ACIM is presented as rather a lot of words, and not just one.

The course tries to represent a picture of the whole truth. It tries to talk about God and his nature. It doesn't do it in 2 words. It does it with a great many words because Jesus knows that you CANNOT represent the nuances of reality in such a small number of symbols. There is a certain level of entropy to this. You can't properly represent God, creation, kingdom, sonship, holy spirit, souls, your creations, eternal life, immortality, etc... in two words.

It has nothing to do with a person's inability to "grasp the truth of oneness" either. No one is grasping the truth of oneness by using the word oneness in a sentence. Oneness actually encapsulates rather a lot of details which you might not think are a part of it. Oneness doesn't forego God having a son. But it implies that there is no son at all. That is wrong. It is not an accurate representation and not enough information. The son is literally lost in that formulation.

Nor is someone being "all spiritual" just because they talk about God as if he's SO abstract that you can't say anything about him accurately at all. We might as well say that God is so beyond everything that you can't even say that God is beyond everything. What then? If you're GOING to use words, and language, and logical arguments, you CANNOT REDUCE IT beyond a certain point and expect to be accurately representing it.

God is ... much more than... just oneness.

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