Information Theory and God’s Word

“Information Source sends message to a transmitter using energy to send its encoded signal through a medium containing sources of noise that is added to the original encoded signal. A receiver receives the message with the embedded noise and decodes the message which is then sent to the destination.”

The above quoted from A Brief History and Theory of Speaking by Steve Fournier, which continues below:

“Claude Shannon was a research scientist at Bell Telephone Company trying to achieve maximum telephone line capacity with minimum distortion. He had never intended for his mathematical theory of signal transmission for anything but telephones. But when Warren Weaver applied Shannon's concept of information loss to interpersonal communication, one of the most popular models of communication was created.

“According to Shannon and Weaver's model..., a message begins at an information source, which is relayed through a transmitter, and then sent via a signal towards the receiver. But before it reaches the receiver, the message must go through noise (sources of interference). Finally, the receiver must convey the message to its destination.

“Suppose you have an idea in your head (information source) that you want to tell someone about. You must first move the idea from your brain to your mouth (transmitter). Since you cannot actually share your gray matter, you must select words for your transmitter to use. Once you speak, your voice (signal) is carried through the air toward the listener's ear (receiver). Along the way, your signal is joined by a myriad of other sounds and distractions (noises). The receiver then takes everything it receives and tries to maximum the message and minimize the noise. Finally, the receiver conveys its message to the other person's mind (destination).

“Shannon and Weaver's model clearly demonstrates why even the simplest communications can be misunderstood. Transmitting a signal across additional media only adds to the complexity of the communication and increases the chance for distortion. It is suddenly easier to understand why other people just can't grasp what we already know.”

The Mind

“In the beginning was the Word...” The Greek for word is logos which means word, how odd. Logos comes from the Greek root, lego, which means to say. How does one say something? What was the first thing said?

A person, or God in this case, says something because a person can speak; He speaks a language. In the case of people, a person learns his language from his parents or guardians; the language burned into the brain becomes the only way a person can think or reason apart from other languages such as music or body language. However, as we learned in linguistics, thoughts have no reality unless they are expressed vocally or written down; when a person speaks or writes, the thought becomes real. When a person acts on, say, the thought of building a house or planting crops, the thought becomes real, even more real perhaps than speaking or writing. Thus, a child learns to think and reason in language and learns to speak and act on his thoughts. In the beginning was the word, language. What does a baby say first? Mama. Why does the baby say mama? He says it because his mother is the most important person in his life; she gives him food and water, cleans up his mess, keeps him warm with blankets and clothes; additionally, the mother keeps telling the baby that she is “mama.” The baby realizes that the sounds mama means the person who takes care of him in all ways. All that meaning fills the sound mama. To the mother, she just says or thinks, hey, Billy said his first word and its me. Unless she is versed in linguistics, she probably does not realize all that is involved in that first word. Until then all he did was make sounds, but not really. What he was doing was practicing how to articulate.

How does the infant say his first word? The whole physiology of speech and language comes with being a human being. God created man in His image; in this case, part of the image pertains to language. God created all the grey matter for language (whether for the brain communicating to the rest of the body by neurons or for vocal language), and the brain contains all the speech apparatus necessary for man to communicate using language. Without going into detail language consists of phonemes (the unit of sound), morphemes (sounds with meaning), words (full sounds with meaning), sentences (group of words making sense grammatically and otherwise), paragraphs (groups of sentences developing a thought), chapters, books, and volumes. The entire aspect of the language of a person is the person. The purpose of language beyond cogitating is communicating with others. To communicate, a person must complete a series of activities called IT, which God also created and science discovered and called it information theory that explains how people communicate. More on this later.

However, that was not the first word spoken in the beginning. The first work spoken by God was “light!” God’s thought became a word, here a command, which resulted in light being formed. Light is both energy and matter according to science. So the power of God’s breath, ruach, vibrated His spiritual vocal folds and formed the word, light; in turn that power produced a powerful force and substance.
God’s mind has language similar to earthly languages because He created language as shown by Adam whom God told to name the creatures. We cannot know if God’s language is inflected or word order, syntactical. Words have meaning derived from both the phoneme and morpheme. Furthermore, words have denotations, etymology and connotations. However, we understand the meaning of a word in its fullest by context.

Gen. 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.

God created the heavens and earth by His Word or Command. How did that work? He encoded His plan of creation into words. He spoke and His voice traveled out. His Words were decoded and heavens and earth came into existence. “In the beginning God created...” and “In the beginning was the Word...” So while, Genesis does not say here that God spoke and the creation began, we can assume so because of John.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Notice how John 1:1 sounds like a linguistic statement. “The word was God.” All humans exist by their word or words. We are our language, as noted above, including body language, not only our gestures and facial expressions but also the brain communicates with every cell in the body, one way or another; it runs the body from causing the heart to pump to move blood, which carries oxygen and nourishment to the cells and CO2 and wastes from them, within veins and arteries. Nerves connected to the brain control the body, communicate to the body. We are language, we are word.

Gen. 1:2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving [Hebrew, hovering] over the surface of the waters.

God describes what the Earth was like in the beginning before God built the creation. God’s Spirit, ruach, hovered. Ruach also means word, wind and mind. In other words, God’s word hovered over the primal Earth.

This time Genesis has God speaking; He said, “Light!” because “let there” is not in the Hebrew. Oops. But, more on that later. Translators tell us that they put “let there” there to make it English, but God did not say, “let there” in any language. We have a problem here.

However, first, we need to see the mechanics. God encoded the thought of creating light; He encoded the thought into a Command or Word, “Light!” The command traveled to the creation through whatever medium existed there like air, or the ether. The creation decoded the Word and light came into existence. Now, communication needs a response to the communication. Now, the creation encoded the light and light shown back to God.

Gen. 1:3 Then God said, “[Let there be] light”; and there was light.

When God said, “Light!” the full meaning of the word and command can be understood. First it denotes the physical light and all it does and it also connotes understanding, clearness, and brightness. God, therefore, said, My Word can be understood in its clarity and brightness.
An encoded thought becomes sounds, words and sentences. These sounds must have enough energy to force them through the channel, air or telephone wire, to the decoder. However, the channel through which the sounds travel there is interference or noise, in Information Theory. The noise interferes with the decoder “hearing” the same information that the decoder sent. Words may be missed; other sounds may sound like words not said. Noise becomes a major problem with communication. Noise can be normal ambient sounds, or information can be added to modify or interfere with communication. We see an example of that when two radio stations too close in frequency overlap each other, which makes good sense out of either difficult.

We saw an example of added noise in Genesis 1:3, where translators added noise or information to what God encoded to travel to our decoder. While not a great deal of misinformation occurred, the noise makes the powerful command, “Light” become a weak “let there be light.” Let does not have the force of a powerful enough command to bring light into existence.

We need to understand that all the additional media noise has several causations; time and transcribing leads to both meanings changing and mistakes; and the ever changing culture changes their Weltanschauun of the past understanding to present day’s far different world. Additional media or layers change parts of some words or phrases; misunderstandings and beliefs of copiers lead to mistakes. Additionally, translations seldom capture the true meaning and sense of the original language to the new one, for each language is like an individual that cannot be cloned. The original language is the top of the rug; the translated language is like the bottom of the rug; its all there but not in its full scope and beauty.

In John 1:2, the translators, assuming that Jesus is the “divine” son of God who is called the “Word,” translate the pronoun, autos or houtos as he. However the pronouns, as Strong’s points out can be translated as he, she or it. Why did the translators translate the antecedent of Word (logos, word from lego to say) as he? Actually, Greek being an inflected language has no neuter gender, since the case of logos is masculine gender because it ends in the masculine “os,” the tendency would be to use the masculine pronoun grammatical gender notwithstanding a word is not a man and its root comes from to say. A word is a thing, not a person in any language regardless of the lack of a neuter gender in Greek.

A powerful related reason translators use he instead of it is because they think Jesus is the divine Creator with God in the beginning. Therefore they choose to make the pronoun antecedent he instead of it. When we read the translation, we must understand that the translators added noise to the communication. When we decode John 1:2, we know that noise has been added and the apparent meaning including the noise has been mistranslated. Noise permeates the Bible just as it does in communication as information theory shows. The correct translation follows.

John 1:2 [It, His Word or Language] was in the beginning with God.
John 1:3 All things came into being through [it, His Word or Language], and apart from [it, His Word or Language] nothing came into being that has come into being.

The reason we know noise has been added to the above two verses because it ignores what God has said over one hundred times that He is God there is no other. Here are just a few of the Scriptures.

Is. 45:6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
That there is no one besides Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
Is. 45:21 “Declare and set forth your case;
Indeed, let them consult together.
Who has announced this from of old?
Who has long since declared it?
Is it not I, the LORD?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A righteous God and a Savior;
There is none except Me.

Is. 45:5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me;
Is. 45:6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
That there is no one besides Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
Is. 45:21 “Declare and set forth your case;
Indeed, let them consult together.
Who has announced this from of old?
Who has long since declared it?
Is it not I, the LORD?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A righteous God and a Savior;
There is none except Me.
Is. 45:22 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.
Is. 46:9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,

Joel 2:27 “Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel,
And that I am the LORD your God,
And there is no other;
Deut. 4:35 “To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him.
Deut. 4:39 “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.

Redundancy

Because noise permeates the Bible by reasons of its long life and other causes mentioned above, God added huge amounts of redundancy to mitigate noise. As noted, God has given us over one hundred verses saying God is One Person, no other. That redundancy protects us from the noise of mistranslation deliberate or otherwise.

All communication contains redundancy because, without it we could not understand what is being said. Linguistic points out that only small amounts of new information must be communicated because we would not understand the communication if most of the information were new. It would be akin to listening to an unfamiliar foreign language. Therefore, God adds new information about Him, His Law and the Creation little by little through out the Bible. Paul puts it this way:

Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

Examples of redundancy are, as we said, the one hundred scriptures saying God is One Person only, the Sabbath is mentioned almost two hundred times, the Ten Commandments are referred to over two hundred times, almost two hundred scriptures say that all men come from the blood of Adam (see son of man or men). Nonetheless a few men of Athens (See Acts 17:22-28) accepted these scriptures, disdaining Trinity, Sunday Worship, a non-human descendent of Adam as a divine (or previously existed) Jesus and only seven or eight commandments. The “sum of the Truth” of redundancy filtered out the noise that once filled the minds of these former non-believers.

Conclusion

God encoded His thoughts and created the world. God encoded His thoughts and created life and life more abundantly. God encoded His thoughts and gave us His Laws. These encoded thoughts became words which traveled the ether (the channel) and were decoded by those who understood His language. God sent enough redundancy so that all the noise added by nonbelievers could not keep the “sum of His Truth” from us.

Gil Kovacs, Pastor
Sabbath Christian Church