Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Time And Motion III

"'...matter can't be transferred from one space-time plenum to another in violation of the conservation laws of physics. Psychic influences can go, yes. Visions, temptations, inspirations, that sort of thing. The uncertainty principle allows them. But not an actual object. If you want to take it from its proper universe to your own, you have to replace it with an identical amount of matter, whose configuration has to be fairly similar to preserve momentum. You may remember Villegas suggested this was the reason angels take more or less anthropomorphic shapes on earth.'"
-Poul Anderson, Operation Chaos (New York, 1995), p. 165.

Two observations so far:

(i) It is being assumed here that Heaven and Hell are just two more of the universes in the multiverse. Is this not as wrong as thinking that Heaven is above the clouds or that Hell is inside the earth? Or indeed that Heaven and Hell are other continents or other planets?

(ii) I do not understand how this explains why angels look like men on earth. What do angels look like in Heaven? If they are invisible spirits, then they do not look like anything and are not composed of matter. However, let us assume for the sake of argument that each angel is a perfect sphere. In that case, an angel arriving on Earth will displace a spherical amount of matter from Earth to Heaven - and a man visiting Heaven would displace an anthropomorphic amount of Heavenly matter to Earth.

Ginny continues that, although God is omnipotent:

"'...His servants are finite. They must often find it easier to let transferred matter fall into the shape it naturally wants to, rather than solve a problem involving the velocities of ten to the umpteenth atoms in order to give it another form.'" (ibid.)

But why would they want to give transferred matter another form? Transferring a spherical volume of air or water would seem to do the trick. The angel should arrive here in its spherical form, which I am assuming for the sake of argument, rather than give itself another form. Or has every arriving angel for some reason transferred a human being?

"'And the inhabitants of the Low Continuum probably can't. They aren't creative. Or so the Petrine churches claim. I understand the Johannine doctrine includes Manichaean elements.'" (ibid.)

For references to Manichaeanism in science fiction, see James Blish's A Case Of Conscience and SM Stirling's Island In The Sea Of Time.

"'A demon could go from his universe to a point in ours that was inside this house. Because his own natural form is chaotic, he wouldn't have to counter-transfer anything but dirt, dust, trash, rubbish, stuff in a high-entropy condition. After he finished his task, he'd presumably return that material in the course of returning himself.'" (pp. 165-166)

However, if a demon's form is as chaotic as dirt and dust, how can it be conscious? And how can it exercise either intellect or will?

The demon has left  "'...a homunculus...'" (p. 160) in the form of three year old Valeria Matuchek. This makes sense.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    In Catholic teaching the angels are pure spirits, without any kind of physical form or body. And not needing any. And that applies to the fallen angels, demons, as well. What I've read is that the angels take anthropomorphic shapes when appearing to men because that was simply more convenient--as a means of appearing to human beings in forms they could grasp.


    1. Sean,
      I understand that reason for angels appearing as men. The discussion in OPERATION CHAOS seems a bit confused.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Regretfully, considering my reverence for Poul Anderson, I have to agree. Here, Anderson tried to be too complex. He probably should have read Mortimer Adler's book on the angels (if it was available in the 1950s)!