Thursday, February 15, 2007

God and recursive acronyms


Note: this article is aimed fairly and squarely at computer scientists and hackers. Apologies to everyone else.

The free software movement abounds with recursive acronyms. Examples include GNU's Not Unix, PNG's Not GIF, etc. Some people see this kind of circular definition as poetical. Others prefer the mathematical intractability. Either way, recursion is symbolic of both complexity and beauty.

God, when describing Himself, employs recursive naming schemes. Consider Moses' meeting with God [Exodus 3], familiar to both Jewish and Christian faiths. When Moses asks God, "What is Your Name?" then God replies "I AM WHO I AM." God's character is incomparable with anyone other than Himself. I AM WHO I AM brings before us God's uniqueness, constancy and eternity...

God also defines His emotions recursively. He describes why He has chosen to rescue the Israelite people from Egypt [Deuteronomy 7]. He says "I love you ... because I love you." God is love, and this is the only reason He needs to love. God's love is determined entirely by the subject, not at all the object, of that love.

So, is this recursive, infinite God entirely unknowable to humanity? No! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to tell us who "I AM" really is, and to show us what "I LOVE" really means...

1 comment:

ahoussney said...

God's title "King of Kings" is recursive in the other sense too - recursion is an important aspect of Hebrew thinking about the transcendent.