Saturday, May 21, 2011

God is Gen and Eval

I normally write only about things that I know about, but I had a tiny little thought last night that I wanted to share with you about the beautiful Being I blab about here.

So, linguistics.  Despite common misunderstanding, linguists do not necessarily know a bunch of different languages, but rather understand how language in general works.  How do we learn language, how can we use it, why does grammar turn out this way, what languages are related--those are the kinds of questions linguists ask.  One of the really cool things a linguist can theoretically do is predict possible words in a language based on a limited knowledge of the sounds and morphemes, or units of meaning, in that language.

Linguists do that with something called "optimality theory." I don't really understand it at all, to tell you the truth, but I understand these two things--first, there's a huge pool of possible words called Gen.  Gen basically says "oh, look, all these options!" and shoots a gazillion ideas at you, without any limits.  To find out what real words in the language are, linguists use Eval.  Eval creates a set of constraints on the possibilities from Gen, saying "uh, no, that won't work in this language because of this or that".  The possible morpheme combinations come out of Eval, and linguists use a weird hand rule to select which one most probably forms a real word in the desired language.

I was thinking about God the other day, and I got really excited about this silly little idea of mine.  So, God is Gen, right?  He's limitless, and there are no boundaries on Him, no rules, and infinite possibilities.  But He's also eval.  He created matter, and matter, unlike energy, has definite boundaries and rules. The moment He created matter, He created boundaries and constraints: spiritual boundaries, physical boundaries, etc.  He Himself holds those things together, so He himself is Eval. 

This is weird!  God is Gen, and God is Eval.  God is limitless, but God chooses to restrict Himself for the sake of a functioning universe.  He creates goodness and right and wrong and pushes all His limitless possibilities through those constraints to come up with the Optimal Universe--the best story that could ever be told, and the most glorious History.  For That really is his purpose--That gloriousness, all congealing around Him and Us.  He knows how every little person or ant or wind would affect anything else, and He puts all the possible universes through His Great Big Heart of Eval and comes out with Optimality.

Are you able to believe that?  Can you trust that this God of paradoxes, this great Master of Opposites Who Is Both Gen and Eval, knows how to bring forth great and wonderful things from the possibilities that you or I might prefer instead?  I'm not able to believe that in a functional way, but I still think it's pretty cool to think about.

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