Discussion Board

Topic: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Ian Smith
Location: 32n 64w - Apex of the Bermuda triangle
Date: 09/22/2008

Mr. Bear,

I'm doing a little WWW research and your name popped up on a Google search.

In the early or mid '70s or so, I read a short story or novel in a pulp SF magazine (now long irretrievable) describing an event called "mortdieu".

It was a chaotic story, I was young at the time and quite frankly I remember only the concept and not the details or author.

In that spirit and as a departure, philosophically, I have always taken the position that time travel is impossible.

Our experience shows that the possible is not only probable, but given an infinity of forward time every possibility is a certainty. If time travel is possible, it will certainly happen, and so must certainly have happened. Or more simply, if you can go back, you will go back, and have gone back.

If that has happened, then all of time past and forward is meaningless. Just try to figure out the plot to the next "Back to the Future" sequel and you'll understand this argument. Every "leap" requires more "leaps" to correct the chaos a "leap" causes.

Time travel means entropy rules and all order must have already collapsed. The order or forces that make the universe as it is with continuity of time going forward and onwards for all of recorded and observable history simply could not be, if time travel is possible. All events proceeding in sequence and the existence that depends on them would have already collapsed to chaos. Existence dictates order, despite the state of my desk and office.

Not withstanding the temptation to make the humourous and emotive argument to the contrary, order does exist. There is causative action and resultant effect, proceeding in time sequence. Observation dictates this so, ergo, time travel is not possible.

Having said that, it creates a great side argument. With deference to Aristotle, everything has a cause, so there must be an ultimate cause. Causation is Godhood. This is good for one's self image. At times, I create order and so must be Godlike. At other times, I create chaos, so what does that mean? Am I anti-God like?

I concede that all of that a bit of a circular argument, but there's some meaning in there somewhere, isn't there?

Of course, the triumph of chaos may be a reality and our ability to notice may be one of the effects. Who really knows? ;7)

ALL SAID AND DONE - the point of my mail is the term, "mortdieu".

The connection of the idea of the death of God with the collapse of all order is a certainty philosophically. And of course, a leap of faith.

This discussion is a great fundamentalization of all distant forward prophecy, Nostradamus and Saint the John the Divine being examples. Their visions into the distant future turn chaotic and predict the end of time and the end of the world as we know it. Rhetorically, does that mean all prophets ultimately predict time travel, the collapse of order and the death of God? Somehow, I think so. If prophets are time travelers, they must always predict the end of time.

From that, I think that if there is a God he must be distant. If we could know His mind and predict what He has and will cause it can only be the His own death. If there is no order, He can not both "BE" and "NOT BE". Hence, we can not know the mind of God, or the future, but there must be a God because we have order and existence. The great "I AM". Does this sound familiar?

Was there any eloquence and elegance in that rambling at all?

MY REAL QUESTION -

Was it you who wrote this story in the '70s? Yours is the only name that I can find who has any reference on google to the term of "mortdieu".

Ian Smith

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Greg Bear
Date: 09/25/2008

Hello, Ian! I did indeed write that story. It's called "Petra" and it's available in a number of collections. As for time travel... my concern is that systems that acquire knowledge are like cooked eggs, chemically different, perhaps irreversibly so. Time travelers going back into the past may have to shed some of this change... How does that play into our energy concerns, or entropy? Now, might I introduce you to Michael Glosson...?

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Mike Glosson
Location: San Diego, CA
Date: 09/25/2008

Gentlemen:

A day or so after I wrote my long piece on CITY AT THE END OF TIME (posted here) I also flashed back to this story, which I first read in Omni in I think 1980 or 1981, which manifests one of the Themes of Observation in CITY, and wondered if this might be a "Gape" or "Terminus" event that hits Paris, or a version of Paris.

When God (or a sufficiently advanced observer filling in for God) stops looking, the "World" acts up. Then it's up to little watchers like you and me and that tree in the yard to take up the slack.

Thanks for thinking about it more deeply, as at this moment I see "Petra" now as one of the seed-myths for the current novel.

Mike Glosson

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: patrick
Location:
Date: 09/25/2008

Ian, two things:

- on a less significant note, check out Bernard Haisch's THE GOD THEORY. He's a current scientist and approaches things from that perspective....except, well, his main premise, which goes back to St. Anselm, etc. That for Man to have purpose, there must be some thing. This is clearly an issue of human insecurity. (I'm implying something here, personally. Heh.)

- more significantly, there is the question of: what defines order?

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Greg Bear
Date: 09/25/2008

Some thing? Like, a higher being--or just an existing order?

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Steven Becker
Location: San Jose, CA
Date: 09/26/2008

Great discussion.

Mr. Bear discusses systems that acquire knowledge. Perhaps 'god' or similarly powerful ... serves to make the multiverse a reversible system by storing the intermediate states in a highly hashed archive (a concept from computer science)[Jarts on speed?].

The loss of that 'god' could result in something like City's Chaos.

Okay, it's Friday, and I've headed off on a non-useful tangent.

My apologies.

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: patrick
Location:
Date: 09/28/2008

Sorry. Yeah, a being of some sort, an infinite consciousness. I mean, it ain't new. Fred Alan Wolf has him beat, though obviously the idea in it's essence is very old, but Haisch seems to argue from a standpoint of physics. The book is called The God Theory: universes, zero point fields, and what's behind it all. (I haven't beeen able to read much of it, or anything lately, fiction or no, cos I haven't been moved by anything I've picked up enough to continue it.)

However, I did mean needing anything conceivable that would equate to a purpose. Hell, just needing to have a purpose.

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Greg Bear
Date: 10/06/2008

Indeed, could it be that the entire universe is the memory store for God?

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: patrick
Location:
Date: 10/06/2008

Well, as Wolf puts it, we are god, and rather than something modular or 'physical', he says that the universe is the conscious expression of us/it (invoking a certain 'circular' symmetry). (If I recall, this is concurrent with the Hindu tradition.)

Incidentally, rather than thinking of reality as a set of things, I think it's more appropriate to think of it as a set of conditions, 'things' being the embodiment of them. Hence, the following:

1. a 'neutral', non-anthropomorphic sense is enabled

2. further, different 'realities' (what seems 'real'; electronic 'virtual' worlds; imagination - actually, the oldest and so far best 'virtual reality') are equally 'real', yet differentiate in complexity.

3. all realities are simulations (Sorry Nick Bostrom)

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Steven Becker
Location: San Jose
Date: 10/10/2008

Going from the universe as a data store for God idea:

First, I'll switch from God (capital "G") to creator (lowe-case "c") to take some of the baggage out.

Then I'll pre-suppose that I'm utterly incapable of conceiving the kinds of goals that a creator of multiple universes would have.

That leaves me with trying to guess what a creator of this scope would want to store in his data stores (the multiple universes).

Falling into the trap of using human limitations and analogies:
- It would seem that even a multiverse-creator wouldn't want to try to understand cause and effect via tracking the location and energy state of every particle in a universe.
- Just as we use visualization tools (like charts in a spreadsheet) to summarize and understand large data stores...
- Perhaps a creator would spin-off huge numbers of universes (each with slightly different physical laws or see configurations) to summarize cause/effect combinations in order to more perfectly attain it's end goals.
- To get a bit closer to the quantum mechanical view, would could imagine, naively, that a creator's goals are highly dynamic, and the multiple universes have to be continuously regenerated in vast numbers all the time.

As a side note, this would take the creator about as far away from the Judeo/Christian view of a personal God as I can imagine. We (humanity) would be just the most meaningless side effects of the smallest part of a single, immensely complex data model among an infinitely expanding set of data models.

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Greg Bear
Date: 10/13/2008

Interesting variations here--but I see no reason to remove any conception of God from the mix. We are, after all, dealing with an entity we cannot begin to understand--either in motivation or capacity or capability! And I can vouch for a personal connection--not always obvious, but sometimes very obvious.

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Steven Becker
Location: San Jose
Date: 10/13/2008

Fair enough. Sounds like you may have experienced something like what you described in Darwin's children.

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Greg Bear
Date: 10/13/2008

Yes--see elsewhere in this blog for discussions on that topic!

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: patrick
Location:
Date: 10/16/2008

Connection (or connexion) and interpretation of it aren't inherently commutative. Though the conception presented in DR was a vague sort, it was still anthropomorphically based.

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Ian Smith
Location: Bermuda
Date: 05/18/2014

I had an email this evening, 2014-04-18, thanking me for my participation in this discussion. How or why I do not know. However, it DID happen after my posting, so must have been consequential from that post.

Apparently, some forms of time travel are possible! But only in a forward direction.

All said, I stand by my assertion that the invention of time travel signals the end of order, and the beginning of ultimate chaos. The end of cause and effect. Mortdeiu. The death of God.

We do not have chaos, despite certain localized evidence to the contrary. We have prevalent order. One thing DOES happen after the other. We do have continuity of timeline. Time travel (backwards) does not exist. If it did, time and cause and effect would all collapse. Chaos, as vividly described in Greg's story, would reign.

I credit Greg Bear with the BRILLIANT observation that if God dies, time and cause and effect end. The instant time travel is invented, all time and cause and effect become random. Time ends. Order ends.

Also, I credit Greg with the corollary that as long as cause and effect do exist, there is a God.

This is Aristotle grade brilliance, even if a little circular and perhaps derivative in argument.

Years after having raised the point, again, thanks Greg.

Time DOES go forward, in order, so God must still exixt. The death of all causation (God) would be the result if it did not. Coining the term "Mortdeiu" for the invention of time travel is a huge thing.

Run with that, Greg Bear.

:7)

Re: Mortdieu - collapse of order - death of god - end of the world as we know it.

From: Greg Bear
Date: 05/23/2014

Thanks, Ian--will do. Meanwhile, please take a look at CITY AT THE END OF TIME, to carry on these explorations.

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