Chronicles from the Future - An amazing story that defies logical explanation

Chronicles from the Future - An amazing story that defies logical explanation


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Chronicles from the Future tells a remarkable story about a bizarre and incredible event experienced by Paul Amadeus Dienach, the author, who lived during the beginning of the previous century in central Europe. Dienach claims that during his one-year comatose state, brought about by a serious illness, his consciousness travelled to the future in a different body and stayed there for the entire duration of his coma. Although this sounds impossible and indeed fanciful, Dienach’s written account was taken very seriously by the Freemasons, who kept his book as a closely guarded secret.

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Maybe Future Generations Will Be Just Fine

In his new book, legal scholar Cass R. Sunstein argues that there may be reasons to not worry about the hereafter. Photograph: Katrin Ray Shumakov/Getty Images

Cass R. Sunstein is one of America’s foremost legal scholars he is also a big fan of science fiction authors such as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. Sunstein thinks that science fiction can be a useful tool to inoculate people against status quo bias&mdashour tendency to resist anything new and unfamiliar.

“If you love science fiction, you find it fun, and maybe a good little chill goes down your spine, when you think of things that hadn’t been dreamt of until 1990 or 2005, and those things excite you, as well as maybe scaring you,” Sunstein says in Episode 468 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

Podcast

Sunstein’s new book Averting Catastrophe lays out an approach for evaluating unpredictable threats such as asteroids, AI, climate change, and pandemics. One of the book’s more science fictional ideas is that people might not need to worry so much about the well-being of future generations, an idea that Sunstein attributes to Nobel prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling.

“There are a lot of people urging that we do stuff to protect future generations from what we’re going to inflict on them,” Sunstein says. “And Schelling says, be careful about that, because future generations are going to be much richer and better off than we are&mdashif history is any guide&mdashand if we sacrifice our resources to help them, we will be redistributing from poor us to rich them, and where’s the fairness in that?”

In fact, investing too much time and energy in safeguarding future generations might actually be counterproductive, if those measures end up stifling economic growth. “The fact that we are as well off as we are now is because previous generations did a lot of stuff that made them healthier, that made them wealthier, that made them better off in countless ways, rather than thinking, ‘Let’s stem innovation and development in order to protect the future,'” Sunstein says. “So you could add to Schelling’s point that the future&mdashif the past is prologue, and people are going to be better off than we are&mdashyou could add that the future is dependent on our doing a lot of innovative, creative stuff, and not worrying so much about them.”

However, realizing that future generations will likely be wiser and wealthier than we are shouldn’t give us carte blanche to take actions that even a wiser, wealthier civilization will find almost impossible to reverse. “We shouldn’t take Schelling’s arguments to suggest that we should devalue endangered species or pristine areas,” Sunstein says. “The idea of preserving precious things for future generations, that’s a good idea. And if they’re richer but they don’t have wolves and coyotes and bears, they are to that extent significantly poorer, even if they have plenty of money.”

Listen to the complete interview with Cass R. Sunstein in Episode 468 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

Cass R. Sunstein on Awake:

“The show is about someone who loses either his wife or his son after a car accident&mdashyou can’t tell. Half the time the wife is alive and the son is dead, and half the time the son is alive and the wife is dead. These are two different realities in which he lives, and he can’t figure out which one is real, and neither can the viewer. And the parallels and discontinuities between the two realities are incredibly fascinating. … The idea of parallel worlds is something that I find intriguing. I really like the writer Robert Charles Wilson, because he does great things with that. So that’s up my alley. You can have a bad show on that topic, but [Awake] is off-the-charts good.”

“With the Star Wars book tour, I had no expectation that anyone other than Star Wars enthusiasts&mdashif I were lucky&mdashwould show up, but instead what I found was that the people on the tour were like brothers and sisters to me, in the sense that there was an immediate sense of trust and willingness to be real, rather than to be an audience member. And so they’d talk about something that happened in their lives, like a child had gotten very sick, and as soon as the child was able to go out of the hospital, the dad took the child to Star Wars. … In so much of life, our connections with each other are an inch deep, and that’s better than nothing, but on my Star Wars tour, I felt that we were all, in some sense, family.”


An Introduction to First and Second Chronicles

2. The Targum starts “This is the book of genealogies, the Chronicles from days of Antiquity” emphasizing the enormous historical scope of the book as it reached from Adam to the establishment of the Persian empire (2 Chronicles 36:20)

B. The Greek Title is PARALEIPOMENWN A’, B’ [The Books] of Things Left Out

1. This title identifies the fact that Chronicles supplements the history in Samuel and Kings in many places

2. Nevertheless, the name is misleading:

a. Chronicles also repeats much of the material in Samuel and Kings

b. The name fails to note that Chronicles own positive purpose which has decided his selection and arrangement of material to include in these books 1

C. The English Title is First and Second Chronicles:

1. Jerome noted the enormous extent of these books (as with the Targum above) and thus stated in his prologue to the books of Samuel and Kings that “we might more significantly call it the chronikon of the whole sacred history.’

2. Even though Jerome used the Greek title for the books, his suggestion influenced Luther and thus became the title for the books which is used in English today 2

D. One should not confuse the references to the “Chronicles” mentioned in the books of Kings with the book of Chronicles

1. Both Kings and Chronicles drew from earlier court chronicles 3 (see below)

2. Court scribes probably produced a number of scrolls which recorded the daily events of each monarch’s rule (Est. 2:23 6:1 10:2)

II. AUTHOR: Either Ezra the Scribe or an unknown Levite-scribe

A. Technically, the book is anonymous--no author or compiler is named

B. An unknown chronicler who was a priest or Levite because of the writer’s interest in the temple 4

1. The Jewish Babylonian Talmud identifies Ezra the scribe as the author who “wrote the genealogy of Chronicles unto himself” or down unto his own time 5

2. The description of the decree by Cyrus in II.36:22 supports a time close to that of Ezra--at least not much before his time

3. The genealogy in I.3:19-24 traces the descendants of Zerubbabel to the sixth generation. If Zerubbabel can be dated at 520 B.C. this would result in a date of 400 B.C. for the latest descendant of Zerubbabel (counting 20 years for each generation). That would require the book to have been written c. 400 B.C. which would make it reasonably compatible with Ezra the scribe 6

4. Similarity of literary and linguistic features in Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles suggest a single author (Ezra) for these works 7

III. DATE: 450-400 B.C.

A. Some identify the date of Chronicles to have been during the mid-fourth century B.C. because of style, vocabulary, and genealogies 8

B. The earliest possible date for the book is 538 B.C. when Persia was established over Babylon and Cyrus issued the decree for the Jews to return to Jerusalem and build the temple (2 Chron. 36:20-23)

C. The latest possible date for the book is the mid-second century B.C. with the textual attestation of the existence of the LXX of Chronicles by Eupolemos 9

D. Most conservative scholars date the book between 450-400 B.C. 10

1. Chronicles 3:1-24 lists David’s descendants unto the eighth generation after Jehoiakim (3:16-24) this could allow for a 400 B.C. date:

a. Jehoiakim was 18 years old in 597 B.C. when he was taken captive by the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:18)

b. An average of 25 years times eight generations would yield 200 years

c. This places the earliest date around 400 B.C.

2. Chronicles 3:17-24 may not be a straight line of descent from Jehoiachin through Anani--some of the persons mentioned may be contemporaneous and not successive 11

a. Jehoiakim was 18 years old in 597 B.C. when he was taken captive by the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:18)

b. This would make for at least five generations

c. An average of 25 years times five generations would yield 125 years

d. This places the earliest date at a mid-fifth century B.C.

3. The question around the mention of money in “darics” during the time of David in 1 Chronicles 19:7 does not necessarily require an early date of Chronicles to be anachronistic since the “daric” need not be a reference to Darius I (c. 520-486) 12

IV. CANONICITY:

1. Originally they were one scroll 13

2. The Greek LXX first divided the material into two books c. 200 B.C. 14

3. The first Hebrew division of the material into two books was not until 1448 A.D. 15

1. In the Greek and English OT canons the books of Chronicles PARALEIPOMENWN A’, B’ “[The Books] of Things Left Out)” are placed among the historical books following the books of Kings ( BASILEIWN A’ - D’ )

2. Even the book of Ezra may have had an original unity with Chronicles it is placed after Chronicles in both the LXX and our English canons 16

3. When the Greek Canon expanded with the inclusion of apocryphal books it separated Chronicles and Ezra with the inclusion of I Esdras. 17

1. At an undocumented point prior to the fourth century A.D. Rabbinic authorities made up a third division of the canon called “The Writings” probably for liturgical reasons by:

a. combining the former and latter prophets

b. transferring some of the former prophets (Chronicles), some of the shorter scrolls and one latter prophet (Daniel) into a single group

2. Therefore, Chronicles now stands at the end of the Hebrew Canon ( <ymyh yrbd “Events of the Days”, hence “Annals”) 18

V. SOURCES USED 19

1. The Book of the Kingdoms (or Kings) of Judah and Israel (or of Israel and Judah) 21

2. The Story (midrash) of the Book of the Kings 22

3. The Words of Ussiah composed by the prophet Isaiah

4. The Words of Shemaiah the Prophet of Iddo the Seer

5. The Midrash of the Prophet Iddo

6. The Words of Jehu the son of Hanani

C. The author used his sources with an intentional understanding and design 23

VI. NUMBERS IN CHRONICLES THAT DISAGREE WITH THEIR OT PARALLELS: 24

300 slain by Jashobeam, not 800

Hadadezer’s 1,000 chariots and 7,000 horsemen, not 1,000 and 700 horsemen

7,000 Syrian charioteers slain, not 700

and 40,000 foot soldiers, not horsemen

Israel’s 1,100,000 troops, not 800,000

Judah’s 470,000 troops, not 500,000

Three years of famine, not seven

Ornan paid 600 gold shekels, not 50 silver

3,600 to supervise the temple construction, not 3,300

Different method of reckoning

20,000 baths of oil to Hiram’s woodman, not 20 kors (=200 baths)

Temple pillars 35 cubits, not 18

Sea holding 3,000 baths, not 2,000

250 chief officers for building the temple, not 550

Different method of reckoning

450 gold talents from Ophir, not 420

300 gold bekas per shield, not 3 minas

Different method of reckoning

4,000 stalls for horses, not 40,000

Ahaziah king at 42 years, not 22

Jehoiachin king at 8, not 18

Compared with its parallels, Chronicles is the same once, higher 10 times, and lower 7 times.

Total disagreements 19 (j repeats i) out of 213 parallel numbers

VII. PURPOSES FOR THE BOOKS OF CHRONICLES

A. To bear witness to the “unity of God’s will for his people.” 25

B. To bear witness to “the continuity of the obedient response within the history of Israel.” 26

C. To bear witness to “the fundamental correspondence between an action and its outcome.” 27

D. To “give the Jews of the Second Commonwealth the true spiritual foundations of their theocracy as the covenant people of Jehovah” 28

E. To bear witness to the “role of sacred scripture as providing the rule of faith by which the community lives.” 29

F. To “interpret to the restored community in Jerusalem the history of Israel as an eternal covenant between God and David which demanded an obedient response to the divine law.” 30

G. To reveal God’s desire to bless those who wholeheartedly worship Him and to curse those who resist Him in rebellion according to the Mosaic system of Temple worship 31

1 Williamson writes, it may be said that the influence of this misnomer in LXX and V on the Christian church has contributed significantly to the undervaluing and consequent neglect of these books until comparatively recent times (H. G. M. Williamson, 1 and 2 Chronicles, 4).

Merrill writes, The Books of 1 and 2 Chronicles provide the only Old Testament example of a 'synoptic problem,' since they parallel the contents of Samuel and Kings to a great extent. That is, they recount the history and theology of Israel from a slightly different perspective than that of Samuel and Kings. Likewise, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke view the life and teachings of Jesus in similar but by no means identical ways. Students of the Old Testament are sometimes confused by this repetitious yet alternative approach to God's revelation. Why, it is asked, should there be two versions of the same set of circumstances and events?

These same kinds of questions have been asked relative to the Gospels. The most satisfying evangelical response has been that each gospel writer was a unique individual who witnessed personally and otherwise came to understand the life and message of Jesus in a unique way. Furthermore, each recounted the tradition as the Spirit of God prompted and corrected him. Thus, the quotations of Jesus' words differ from gospel to gospel and the order of events likewise varies according to the interests, emphases, and literary structures peculiar to each writer. This freedom of literary creativity within the boundaries of divine supervision is well understood and accepted by those who have engaged themselves in serious study of the Gospels.

Careful reading of Samuel-Kings and of Chronicles reveals the same approaches and processes. Though the two respective accounts deal largely with the same essential subject matter, they vary in their emphases, in what they include or exclude and in their theological interests. And yet, just as reverent gospel studies have shown that there is no demonstrable case for contradiction among them, so Samuel-Kings and Chronicles evidence no insoluble disharmonies. The exposition to follow will make this clear.

To see Chronicles as synoptic to Samuel-Kings is not to deny its independent importance and significance, for it is in those very areas of its topical, thematic, and theological divergences that its justification lies. Its authors and compilers were sensitive to the fact that the Holy Spirit desired to use them to communicate the truth of revelation in ways that paralleled the message of Sammuel-Kings from a different perspective and with different objectives. Thus, no study of the Old Testament is complete that dismisses Chronicles as a mere repetition of Samuel-Kings and fails to see it for what it is--a fresh, alternative way to view God's dealings with his people in Old Testament times (Eugene H. Merrill, 1, 2 Chronicles: Bible Study Commentary, 9-10).

57.8% of Chronicles is unique in Old Testament Literature (J. B. Pyne, The Validity of the Numbers in Chronicles, Bibliotheca Sacra, 136 (1979): 111. Donald Holdridge writes, Aside from Solomon, the Chronicler writes 8.5 verses more on each Judean king than does the writer of 'Kings' (Donald Wesley Holdridge, The Argument of 2 Chronicles, paper submitted for course 327 Seminar in Old Testament Historical Literature. Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 1989, 21 n. 6).

Johnson writes, Evaluation is the point of the narrative history. The author of Chronicles is an author in the sense of a historian. Continuity and selectivity are the twin considerations for a historian. Continuity is necessary because of the interrelatedness of history. Each event bears a definite relationship to others--like a thread in a fabric--and cannot be understood in isolation. Selectivity is mandatory because no one could record everything that happened in any given era. The historian, therefore, singles out and highlights what is significant. An event is significant because it expresses his evaluation of the period. An event is measured as valuable when it expresses whole-hearted worship and is dangerous when it involves turning away and forsaking God. A valued event reflects what was pleasing to YHWH then and what is now pleasing to YHWH in the recently constructed Temple. What was dangerous bears all the marks of warning for the repetition of the same response to God. This was the criterion of selection. The criteria of continuity involved the establishment of the Davidic mediated Kingdom and the factors related to its continuation (Elliott E. Johnson, Synopsis and Selective Analysis of 1 and 2 Chronicles [unpublished class notes in 327 Seminar in Old Testament Historical Literature, Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 1989], 2-3).

2 See H. G. M. Williamson, 1 and 2 Chronicles, 3-4.

3 See R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament: With a Comprehensive Review of Old Testament Studies and a Special Supplement on the Apocrypha, 1160.

4 Andrew E. Hill, and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 217 See R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament: With a Comprehensive Review of Old Testament Studies and a Special Supplement on the Apocrypha, 1157 Eugene H. Merrill, 1, 2 Chronicles, 12.

5 Baba Bathra 15a. Archer writes, It is quite possible that the Talmudic tradition (Baba Bathra, 15a) is correct in assigning the authorship to Ezra. As the chief architect of the spiritual and moral revival of the Second Commonwealth, he would have had every incentive to produce a historical survey of this sort. As a Levite from the priestly line, his viewpoint would have been in perfect agreement with that of the author of this work, and he would be very apt to lay the stress just where the chronicler has. It is pertinent to note that there was embodied in 2 Maccabees 2:13-15 a tradition that Governor Nehemiah owned a considerable library: 'He, founding a library, gathered together the books about the kings and prophets, and the books of David and letters of the kings about sacred gifts.' If Nehemiah did possess such a sizable collection of reference works, it might very well be that his close collaborator, Ezra, would have had ready access to these reference works and used them in the compilation of Chronicles (Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 413).

Nevertheless, Merrill writes, Moreover, there is nothing in the Baba Bathra statement that says Chronicles was completed by Ezra, but only that he 'wrote the genealogy of Chronicles unto himself' (15a). This leaves room for genealogical records beyond his own time and, of course, it may intend to say only that Ezra contributed to the genealogies and to nothing else (Eugene H. Merrill, 1, 2 Chronicles, 12).

6 See R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament: With a Comprehensive Review of Old Testament Studies and a Special Supplement on the Apocrypha, 1153, 1156-57.

7 R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament: With a Comprehensive Review of Old Testament Studies and a Special Supplement on the Apocrypha, 1153 William. F. Albright, The Date and Personality of the Chronicler, Journal of Biblical Literature 40 (1921): 104-119. Note also that 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 is repeated as the opening verses of Ezra 1:1-3a.

Harrison (and others like Newsome, Hill & Walton, and Samir B. Massouh in J. Barton Payne, 1, 2 Chronicles, in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, 4:306-307) argues against this very point later when he writes, Attempts to identify the Chronicler with Ezra appear inadvisable because of significant differences in style, historical and theological perspective, the treatment of source material, and the basic metaphysic of history as exhibited in the two compositions (R. K. Harrison, 1157). However, these objections are not determinative since Chronicles seems to be a completely different genre than that of Ezra-Nehemiah. Therefore, style and treatment of material is not determinative of the author here any more than it would be for Luke as the writer of the Gospel and then the book of Acts. Genre can determine literary choices. In addition the purpose of the author can be as determinative of what is included and what is excluded as the concept of a different author.

8 R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, 1154 H. G. M. Williamson, 1 and 2 Chronicles, 15-16. For an overview of positions see Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 413-14.

However, these objections are not determinative since Chronicles seems to be a completely different genre than that of Ezra-Nehemiah. Therefore, style and treatment of material is not determinative of the author here any more than it would be for Luke as the writer of the Gospel and then the book of Acts. Genre can determine literary choices.

9 H. G. M. Williamson, 1 and 2 Chronicles, 15. However, Payne observes that this is actually obsolete now since an actual MS of Chronicles has been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran cave four making a third-centry date difficult to maintain (J. Barton Payne, 1, 2 Chronicles, In The Expositor's Bible Commentary, 4:305).

10 C. F. Keil, The Books of the Chronicles, in Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes, III:27 Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 418 Andrew E. Hill, and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 217 Eugene H. Merrill, 1, 2 Chronicles, 11-12. This allows for Ezra to be the chronicler, but does not prove it.

11 Eugene H. Merrill, 1, 2 Chronicles, 12. Merrill writes, The chronicler obviously does not trace the genealogies past his own time so that further descendants of David through Zerubbabel (and perhaps otherwise) continue for only two or three more generations (3.21-24). Hananiah, a son of Zerubbabel, has only one generation in his succession. Then there follow four families whose connection is unstated, with the last of these extending through five generations--Shecanian, Shemaiah, Neariah, Elioenai, and Anani. If Shecaniah was contemporary with Hananiah, the son of Zerubbabel (which seems reasonable), five generations inclusive would place the date of Anani, the last named, about 425 B.C., a generally accepted date for Chronicles (Ibid., 28).

12 Archer writes, At the same time it must be conceded that darics had for many decades been in circulation before Ezra's time, and there would be no difficulty in his referring to them as a current unit of exchange. Since the daric represented a well-known weight in gold, there is no particular reason why Ezra could not have computed the amount of bullion actually contributed by the Israelite princes for the service of the temple and then have convereted the sum into an equivalent number of darics as more meaningful to the public of Ezra's own generation (Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 415). See also R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament: With a Comprehensive Review of Old Testament Studies and a Special Supplement on the Apocrypha, 1157.

13 A Masoretic notation at the end of a manuscript of Chronicles noted the middle of the book as being 1 Chronicles 27:25 (ZPEB s.v. Chronicles, Books of, by S. J. Schultz, I:809.

14 This was probably done due to the books length. They would divide the books at the death of a key figure, which was David here.

16 See Josephus, Against Apion I.38 [8] for the earliest description. Payne writes, Moreover the incompleteness of form with which the decree of Cyrus appears--breaking off in the middle of the king's decree--at the close of 2 Chronicles, and with which Ezra opens, suggests that Chronicles was added to the canon after Ezra was already there.

A plausible explanation is as follows: when God inspired Ezra in 450 to write the total volume, he also inspired him to place the last part of it (= Ezra) within the OT canon, as the divinely authorized sequel to the historical record of Kings. Only subsequently, perhaps at the canon's final compilation shortly before 420, did God lead him to insert the rest (= Chron), as supplementary parallels to the materials found in Samuel and Kings (J. Barton Payne, 1, 2 Chronicles, In The Expositor's Bible Commentary, 4:312).

The inclusion of Chronicles with Ezra in the LXX supports a canonization of the books from at least the middle of the second century B.C.

17 Esdras B = our Ezra-Nehemiah. Meyers writes, Chronicles, Esdras A, Esdras B (our Ezra-Nehemiah). That was the order followed by St. Jerome and Luther, and hence in our English Bibles, except that Esdras A (apocryphal Ezra) has been relegated to the Apocrypha while Esdras B appears as Ezra and Nehemiah (Jacob M. Meyers, I Chronicles: Introduction, Translation, and Notes, XVII).

18 Payne writes, But though Chronicles, as a result, now stands at the very end of printed Hebrew Bibles, the English (and Greek) arrangement is the one that corresponds to the order of the canon in NT Times. For in Matthew 23:35 Christ spoke of all the martyrs from Abel in the first book (Gen) down to the last martyred minor prophet (Zechariah, who was 'slain in the sanctuary' Malachi is not known to have suffered martyrdom) (J. Barton Payne, 1, 2 Chronicles, In The Expositor's Bible Commentary, 4:312).

19 Hill and Walton follow Payne and divide the categories of sources into (1) genealogical records, (2) letters and official documents, (3) poems, prayers, speeches, and songs, (4) other histories, (5) prophetic writings, and (6) canonical sources (Andrew E. Hill, and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 217-18 cf. J. Barton Payne, 1, 2 Chronicles, In The Expositor's Bible Commentary, 4:309-11).

20 Archer writes, It is much disputed whether the chronicler actually copied from Samuel and Kings most authorities assume that he did so (cf. New Bible Commentary). Others, like Zoeckler (in Lange's Commentary, pp. 18-20) and E. J. Young (IOT, pp. 384-85), believe that he copied from common earlier sources, but that differences in detail and arrangement preclude the possibility of any direct borrowing (Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 415).

21 Archer writes that these may be the same as the Book of the Kings of Israel and the Words of the Kings of Israel (Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 415).

22 Archer writes (which may or not be different from the one previously mentioned) (Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 415).

23 Childs writes, What can one say about the author's own understanding of his sources? First of all, it is clear that the chronicler is making a selection of material from a much larger source which is available to him. Thus, for example, he passes over in silence the whole history of the Northern Kingdom after the division of the nation and only uses it when it has a direct bearing on Judah (II Chron. 18). However, it is a basic error of interpretation to infer from this method of selection that the Chronicler's purpose lies in suppressing or replacing the earlier tradition with his own account. Two reasons speak directly against this assumption. First, the Chronicler often assumes a knowledge of the whole tradition on the part of his readers to such an extent that his account is virtually incomprehensible without the implied relationship with the other accounts (cf. I Chron. 12.19ff. II Chron. 32.24-33). Secondly, even when he omits a story in his selection he often makes explicit reference to it by his use of sources. For example, the Chronicler omits reference to Jeroboam's divine election (I Kings 11), but his explicit reference to the prophecy of Ahijah (II Chron. 9.29) rules out a theory of conscious suppression. Then again, the Chronicler's frequent method of repeating large sections of earlier material to which he supplies a theological explanation of its causes indicates that the author views his work, not simply as a supplement, but as a necessary explication of the tradition (Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, 646-47).

24 J. Barton Payne, 1, 2 Chronicles, In The Expositor's Bible Commentary, 4:561 cf. also Andrew E. Hill, and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 220.

25 Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, 654. This point has often been lost in the modern concern over the issue of historicity. Childs writes, The author relativizes all issues of historical change and development, and deals with God's will for his people as eternal and unchanging. The Word of God addressed ancient patriarchs, pre-exilic kings, and exiles from the Babylonian captivity with the same imperatives and accompanied them with the same promise. In other words, the Chronicler speaks to the ontological question and faithfully testifies to the unchanging reality of the One God (Ibid., 654-55).

26 Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, 655. Childs writes, Because God did not change his will, demanding one thing of his people earlier and something different later, there emerged a common profile of the faithful within Israel. There is a family resemblance in their praise and thanksgiving, in prayers and laments which extends throughout all ages. The Chronicler shaped his material to highlight the continuity within the community of faith (Ibid.).

27 Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, 655.

28 Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 412. Continuing he writes, The historian's purpose is to show that the true glory of the Hebrew nation was found in its covenant relationship to God, as safeguarded by the prescribed forms of worship in the temple and administered by the divinely ordained priesthood under the protection of the divinely ordained dynasty of David. Always the emphasis is upon that which is sound and valid in Israel's past as furnishing a reliable basis for the task of reconstruction which lay ahead. Great stress is placed upon the rich heritage of Israel and its unbroken connection with the patriarchal beginnings (hence the prominence accorded to genealogical lists) (Ibid).

Holdridge writes, He stressed the Davidic and Mosaic covenants in the examples of their former kings, so that they would live in hope and obedience to these covenants respectively during the second temple era (Donald Wesley Holdridge, The Argument of 2 Chronicles, paper submitted for course 327 Seminar in Old Testament Historical Literature, Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 1989, 15).

Merrill writes, There could hardly have been a more fitting and encouraging message for the post-exilic Jewish community than that of Chronicles. The people had returned, a temple had been rebuilt, and a cultus with its priesthood and other institutions continued. There was no monarchy, to be sure, but the merging of the offices of priest and king along with the prophetic promises of contemporary men of God, such as Haggai (2:4-9) and Zechariah (9:9-10 14:9-21), were reason enough to fill the remnant with hope that the covenant promises of the Lord could not fail and would surely come to pass (Eugene H. Merrill, 1, 2 Chronicles, 14 cf also J. Barton Payne, 1, 2 Chronicles, In The Expositor's Bible Commentary, 4:312-14).

29 Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, 655. Continuing he writes, Far from being a dead hand of the past, the writings of the prophets offer both a chart and a compass for the boldest possible exploration of the inner and out structure of faith within the world and without. The fact that the book of Chronicles does not replace Samuel and Kings, but stands along side the earlier traditions, illustrates the function of the canon as a means of enrichment of the biblical traditions in the process of critical reflection (Ibid.).

30 Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, 644. Continuing he writes, On the basis of past history he sought repeatedly to draw the lesson that Israel prospered when obedient but courted God's wrath and the destruction of the nation through disobedience. In spite of continual warnings from the prophets, Israel abandoned God's law and suffered the consequences (II Chron. 36.15f.). However, after the judgment, God once again restored his people who continue to stand under the same divine imperatives. The author assumes that the will of God has been made known through revelation. It does not need to be actualized or reinterpreted for a new era. Rather, both the judgments which the writer cites upon disobedience in the past (I Chron. 10.13f II Chron. 12.2 II Chron. 36.15f.) as well as the promises proffered for a faithful response remain authoritative for every generation (II Chron. 6.1ff. 7.11ff. 21.7). Significantly, the term Israel retains for the Chronicler its basically religious connotation of the people of God and does not become simply a political designation (cf. Williamson) (Ibid.).

31 Elliott Johnson writes, The Chronicler's overarching concern is the theocratic character of the community of [the] returned remnant. God's direct activity, the pattern of retribution, scriptural authority, and centrality of the temple are all components in the providential rule of God over his people. The Chronicler longs for and seeks to contribute to a recovery of the glorious days of David and Solomon--not by the reestablishment of the mediatoral rule of God through the monarchy but by a return to obedient worship. To a people stripped of kings (monarchy) and forced to obey Persian law and to submit to Persian government (times of the Gentiles), he writes about the glory days with an implication of hope. God adores and blesses those who worship Him with a pure heart. The book selects events surrounding the Temple (I.6:31, 49, 9:27 17:1 22:6 28:11 II.5:1 7:1 22:12 24:4 29:3 24:1-33 36:7, 22, 23) and features experience worship (I.14:10 14 16:7ff. 17:16ff. 21:17 29:10 II.5:2--7:10 14:11 20:5-12 26:4 30:6 31:2 35:1). For the restored remnant, the clear implication is that God relishes such worship in the restored Temple and purposes to bless these worshippers.

In addition, God's pattern of retribution also implied that the resistant ones in rebellion would be the object of God's covenant curses. This was a remnant surviving in the midst of Gentile nations whose own destiny would relate to their worship. They were linked to the experiences of the Davidic line not because the Davidic heir was recognized but because the same God would be worshipped. The purposes of God toward his people remained unchanged in spite of their change in status from nation to worshipping community (Elliott E. Johnson, Synopsis and Selective Analysis of 1 and 2 Chronicles [unpublished class notes in 327 Seminar in Old Testament Historical Literature, Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 1989], 1).

Continuing he writes, Perhaps the dominant theological emphasis of Chronicles is the constant concern for the temple, its worship, and its officials, the Levites. Comparison of the accounts of the inauguration of worship in Jerusalem under David (2 Sam. 6:12-19 1 Chron. 15:1--16:3) or Hezekiah's reform (2 Kings 18:4-7 2 Chron. 29--31) reveals the Chronicler's avid interest in the structure and personnel of Israel's religion. Though he is by no means disinterested in the Hebrew Prophets, (I.21:18 II.15:1 2 18:6 19:2 21:12-15 25:7 28:9 36:21-22) the Levites, who assisted the priests in preparing sacrifices and who served as temple attendants, singers, and gatekeepers are particularly dear to his heart (I.23 24 25 26:2--20:14 23:11 24:20). Little attention is given to these in Kings.

Although his priestly perspective cannot be doubted, one need not hold that 'the Chronicler gave the Levites a higher place than they ever actually had' (N. H. Snaith OTMS, 111). The complex history of the relationship between priests and levites brooks no sweeping generalities of any kind. The author of Chronicles simply lingers on those individuals who valued and supported worship. Worship according to the Mosaic order was valued and the preparation of David which established the order for worship received detailed attention. David restored the ark to Jerusalem which is distinctly identified as the throne of God (I.13:6) and prepared a temporary dwelling (I.15:1). In addition, a Psalm (105) written by Asaph whom David commissioned is included in David's worship (I.16:1, 8-36). That narration of David's worship is matched by a narration of Solomon's worship (5:1--7:22). Solomon worships in the completed Temple as YHWH settles in a cloud displayin impenetrable glory in His presence (II.5:13, 14). Then Solomon celebrates the coming of YHWH's glory as a realization of YHWH's promise to David (II.6:1-11). and worships as He petitions YHWH to respond to prayers offered in the Temple (II.6:12-42). YHWH's second appearance to Solomon defines the Mosaic [provisions] as conditional blessing if they humbly pray, then YHWH will forgive (7:14) but if they turn away and forsake His commands to worship other gods, then they will be uprooted from the land (7:19, 20). This pattern of worship or rejection of worship governs the remainder of the Davidic kings (II.36:15 and 18-20) blessing (II.11:16, 17 12:7, 12 15:5 17:3-10 26:5 32:5) and judgment (II.12:1, 2 21:6, 7 22:3, 4 24:18 26:16 32:25 36:9, 12 36:21, 22) (Ibid., 1-2).


Share All sharing options for: Liverpool’s Success This Season Defies Explanation

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Any teacher worth their salt will tell you that teaching is a great way to learn. By explaining a concept to someone else, you generally gain a better understanding of that topic yourself.

The concept of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, in my very recent and personal experience, is an exception to this rule.

The last several weeks I’ve had family come to visit me (or more accurately the little human that we just created). In each case, often during matches, I tried explaining and contextualizing Liverpool’s achievements from the loss in Kiev onward. I talked about their heartbreaking loss, only to come back and win the thing in Madrid last year. I talked about losing the title by 11mm, and responding with the decision to win all the games. I talked about how even the academy players are stepping up and playing “The Liverpool Way.”

In each case, it occurred to me that these Reds defy explanation.

None of this makes sense, even to a footy fan. It makes even less sense without understanding the weight of Liverpool’s history and the new history this team is creating with each and every win.

It doesn’t make sense. No one—not even the most rose-tinted glasses, optimistic, and biased Liverpool fan—would have thought we would be here, 25 games played, 24 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses. No one would have thought we’d be 22 points clear, with some fans openly pondering whether a treble or invincible, record-breaking season would be better?

It doesn’t make sense that the kids would be charged with continuing Liverpool’s 21-year unbeaten run at Anfield against Everton. It makes even less sense that they pulled it off. And even less sense again that they kept our treble hopes alive—without Klopp or senior players to help—in the very next round.

I can’t explain what Liverpool are accomplishing because I don’t understand it myself. I might as well be explaining quantum mechanics or Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. By attempting to teach another person about quantum mechanics, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, or this Liverpool side, I only expose my own ignorance. I don’t know how it works, I just know that it works. It seems impossible and beyond the capacity of our primitive monkey brains to do or understand. But some great men have understood these concepts and created the end result. So while I cannot understand these things, I can appreciate them.

And for one, brilliant moment, my family got to appreciate it. West Ham won a corner. Liverpool cleared the danger. Jordan Henderson played Mohamed Salah into space. Mo picked out a streaking Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with a perfect outside-of-the-boot pass. Ox beat his man, stayed on his feet, and made it 2-0.

I know. Amazing. Brilliant. Determined. And about a million other adjectives, but somehow none of those words do them justice. I can’t explain it. I’m not sure many others can either. But we can watch them (FA permitting) and enjoy it.

No one knows how long this brilliance will last, and how many pieces of silverware they’ll collect along the way.

This season will almost certainly end with them as English Champions. The long-awaited #19. We might just keep winning the rest of the way in. But equally, it might end with a whimper. Perhaps they go out on away goals to Atletico Madrid. Perhaps their FA Cup run ends at Chelsea. Perhaps they miss out on an unbeaten season and/or a record points tally. In a word, perhaps we’ve peaked (or will do soon).

But what a ride it has been so far. It will come to an end, at some point. The only thing we can do is appreciate it in the moment. To understand that we’re seeing greatness. That we’re seeing accomplishments that we might not see from any side, Liverpool or otherwise, in our lifetimes.

With enough years in the rearview mirror, I might even be able to understand what Jurgen Klopp has accomplished. Though, probably not. All I know is that I can’t wait for the next inexplicable match, and the next record broken that completely defies logic or explanation. Up the inconceivable Reds.


Why does SkyNet apparently have the human flaw of hubris?

Hey guys, Iɽ literally never been to this subreddit before like seven minutes ago. This is probably something you've discussed before. I watched Terminator 1-3 as a teenager and I've been rewatching them recently. I am watching Terminator 2: Judgment Day as I write this (well, technically it's paused).

SkyNet is supposed to be this all-powerful artificial intelligence. In this post-apocalyptic future, it has fully automatic factories and basically no constraints on access to any resources. Furthermore, since it has passed the singularity, it's capable of being smart enough to improve itself and build better technologies.

Why is such a sophisticated computer system, which again can build these amazing cyborgs (T-800, T-1000) so self-confident that it only sends ONE of these things back in time for each mission? Like, I know stuff can't come back (you can travel to past but there is no return trip), but why wouldn't it send like six of them?

And obviously it knows the first mission failed because John Connor was born. It sent a T1000 back to kill John later, but it knows that mission failed. As soon as it's done, it would know. That's what's so confusing about the time travel aspect. So why doesn't it just keep sending robots until something changes?

The only logical explanation for only sending one unit is hubris, and I can't imagine that an AI would be capable of hubris.

Is this addressed in the books at all? I didn't even know there were books until today.


The Vishnu Chronicles : The Hunt For Rama's Bow

Just finished reading #TheHuntForRamasBow and I loved it.
Every chapter brings a new adventure.
Good story, interesting characters. And a book title that is sure to raise brows.
Yet another winner. Congrats again, Suhail Mathur

Plus Points:
An assortment of cool characters from Indian myth.
Fast-paced narration.
Surprises unfolding with each chapter.
Good writing.

Pick this book if you&aposre a lover of Indian myth or adventures in general.
Would recommend this to my friends. Just finished reading #TheHuntForRamasBow and I loved it.
Every chapter brings a new adventure.
Good story, interesting characters. And a book title that is sure to raise brows.
Yet another winner. Congrats again, Suhail Mathur

Plus Points:
An assortment of cool characters from Indian myth.
Fast-paced narration.
Surprises unfolding with each chapter.
Good writing.

Pick this book if you're a lover of Indian myth or adventures in general.
Would recommend this to my friends. . more

Oh yes, the book deserves it. The way it is written. I would say perfect, but then, I remember the adage: no thing is perfect. It was such an engaging read that I never felt any inclination to put it down. The book is much better than even his previous book, &aposThe Bhairav Putras&apos.

The worldbuilding, the riddles, etc almost make me reminisce high fantasy epics like Lord of the Rings, but I understand this is an urban setting and hence not as complex systems as the genre I remember. But STORY: 4.8/5

Oh yes, the book deserves it. The way it is written. I would say perfect, but then, I remember the adage: no thing is perfect. It was such an engaging read that I never felt any inclination to put it down. The book is much better than even his previous book, 'The Bhairav Putras'.

The worldbuilding, the riddles, etc almost make me reminisce high fantasy epics like Lord of the Rings, but I understand this is an urban setting and hence not as complex systems as the genre I remember. But that's not to say that the worldbuilding in this book was an easy feat. Add to it a quest-like nature, I felt as if I was traveling with the characters. Felt like an RPG game, almost.

The characters are believable. The cover pic of this review post is of the protagonist, Mohan, who is mysterious right from the start. He is a good person, obviously, and destined for great things. A postgraduate student thrust into an almost alternate timezone to stop a tyrannical immortal demon who has gained a complex boon from Lord Shiva Himself. a story worth following. The story brings to the forefront many mythical folklores and tales, many of those belonging to The Ramayana. The major quest is to find Kodanda, the bow Lord Rama used to kill the demon king Ravana of Lanka.

Mohan has a girlfriend, Samaira. Although much hasn't been told of her in the book, even in the subplots where people are trying to determine the validity of the legend of the Rama Setu, I have grown to like the character from whatever the author has shown.

The protagonist is accompanied by a lot of friends and well-wishers like Jayadev and Rannvijaya, Pawan and Nagarjuna, etc. They meet on the way a lot of eminent mythological figures, but I will let you, the reader, find them and be surprised. The very story made me wonder: could they be alive? The chiranjeevis, I mean. Could the celestial weapons be found?

Any fiction that makes me ask questions or at the very least, make me wonder about things, I call it good fiction.

Oh, and there is also Alakshmi, whose riddles are. well. extra-legally fair.

And then there is Garud, the Lord Vishnu's Vahana, who comes at moments where one would almost weep for the characters.

Not only does this book has a good storyline, but the writing also makes one read the book. The author shows a command over English that makes his language so easy to read, yet displays a vocabulary that highlights his knowledge of the language. The flow with which the book is written makes it a reading continuous, unable to put down. The grammar is excellent my eyes couldn't find a lot of typos either.

For mythology lovers, this book is a must and this is just the first one of The Vishnu Chronicles. Book Two is coming with more adventures and riddles. Oh, and the prophecies. . more


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For more information on the Bible history and history, click on each Bible person or event.

Brought to you by the publishers of the Amazing Bible Timeline with World History study companion. We hope that this information complements your study of God’s Word.

For a printable Biblical Timeline chart showing more detail and Biblical events in parallel, click on the headings. These Bible timeline charts can be printed off and joined together to form a linear Bible timeline.


To Understand Your Past, Look to Your Future

Y ou’re thinking about time all wrong, according to our best physical theories. In Einstein’s general theory of relativity, there’s no conceptual distinction between the past and the future, let alone an objective line of “now.” There’s also no sense in which time “flows” instead, all of space and time is just there in some four-dimensional structure. What’s more, all the fundamental laws of physics work essentially the same both forward and backward.

None of these facts are easy to accept, because they’re in direct conflict with our subjective experience of time. But don’t feel too bad: They’re hard even for physicists to accept, an ongoing tension that places physics in conflict not just with common sense but also with itself. As much as physicists talk about time symmetry, they do not allow themselves to invoke the future, only the past, when seeking to explain occurrences in the world.

FRETTING ABOUT IT: Just as the boundaries of a guitar string (how it is pinned at both ends) determine how it vibrates, the distant past and far future of the universe may govern what happens today. Giphy / starsinasyringe.tumblr.com

When formulating explanations, most of us tend to think in terms laid down by Isaac Newton over 300 years ago. This “Newtonian Schema” takes the past as primary and uses it to solve for the future, explaining our universe one time-step at a time. Some researchers even go so far as to think of the universe as the output of a forward-running computer program, a picture that is a natural extension of this schema. Even though our view of time has changed dramatically in the last century, the Newtonian Schema has somehow endured as our most popular physics framework.

But imposing old Newtonian Schema thinking on new quantum-scale phenomena has landed us in situations with no good explanations whatsoever. If these phenomena seem inexplicable, we may just be thinking about them in the wrong way. Much better explanations become available if we are willing to take the future into account as well as the past. But Newtonian-style thinking is inherently incapable of such time-neutral explanations. Computer programs run in only one direction, and trying to combine two programs running in opposite directions leads to the paradoxical morass of poorly plotted time-travel movies. In order to treat the future as seriously as we treat the past, we clearly need an alternative to the Newtonian Schema.

To Predict Turbulence, Just Count the Puffs

The water is always running in Björn Hof’s laboratory. Like a Zen water fountain, it gently flows over the top of a reservoir into a tube, and from there into a glass pipe 15 meters long, but thinner than. READ MORE

And we have one. Most physicists are well aware of a different framework, an alternative where space and time are analyzed in an even-handed manner. This so-called Lagrangian Schema also has old roots and has become an essential tool in every field of fundamental physics. But even physicists who regularly use this approach have resisted the last obvious step: thinking of the Lagrangian Schema not just as a mathematical trick, but as a way to explain the world. Perhaps we haven’t been taking our own theories seriously enough.

The Lagrangian Schema doesn’t just allow future-based explanations. It demands them. By treating the future and the past on the same footing, this framework avoids paradoxes and makes new explanatory opportunities available. And it just might be the viewpoint that physics needs for the next major breakthrough.

T he first step toward understanding the Lagrangian Schema is to fully set aside the temporal “flow” of Newtonian thinking. This can best be done by treating spacetime regions holistically: considering the full duration all at once, rather than as sequential frames of a movie. We can picture regions of spacetime as bounded four-dimensional structures, with not just spatial boundaries, but also temporal boundaries—the initial and final bookends of the region.

All of classical physics, from electricity to black holes, can be expressed via the simple Lagrangian-based principle of “least-action.” To use it on a spacetime region, you first describe how physical parameters are constrained over the entire boundary. Then, for each set of possible events inside that boundary, you calculate a quantity called the “action.” The set of events with the lowest value of the action is the one that will actually occur, given the original boundary constraints and a few other technical caveats.

It is hard to accept that events might be explained by what goes on in the future.

For instance, when a ray of light travels from point A to point B, the action corresponds to the amount of travel time. The actual path is the fastest route, given the intermediate obstacles. By this way of thinking, a light ray bends at a glass interface simply because it minimizes the overall travel time. The Lagrangian Schema works a bit differently in quantum physics and yields probabilities rather than decisive predictions, but the basics are the same: Spacetime boundary constraints are still imposed all at once.

By Newtonian logic, this sounds quite strange. The light ray at A seems to possess foreknowledge (about point B and future obstacles), vast computational ability (to survey the different paths), and agency (to choose the fastest one). But this strangeness is merely evidence that Newtonian and Lagrangian thinking don’t mesh—and that we probably shouldn’t anthropomorphize light rays.

Instead of explaining events via only the past, the Lagrangian Schema starts with the entire boundary constraint—including, crucially, the final boundary. If you don’t impose a final constraint—for light rays, the location of point B—this approach fails to give the proper answer. But if used properly, the success of the mathematics indicates a clear logical priority of the boundary constraint: The boundary of any spacetime region explains the interior.

The Lagrangian approach provides the most elegant and flexible account of known physics, and physicists often prefer it. Still, despite the wide applicability of Lagrangian-based principles, even the physicists who use them don’t take them literally. It is hard to accept that events might be explained by what goes on in the future. After all, there are obvious distinctions between past and future. Given that we see such an evident arrow of time, how could future boundaries possibly matter just as much as past ones?

But there’s a way to reconcile the Lagrangian Schema with our causal experience. We just have to think sufficiently big, without losing sight of the details.

FACE LIT UP: Physics is reversible in time. If a spotlight illuminates a statue, you can also say that a statue illuminates a spotlight. We never do that in practice because it violates our expectations about what explanation means. PlusONE / Shutterstock

S uppose you take a flash photograph of a statue. Each ray of light obeys the least-action principle, giving a perfectly time-symmetric account of its path. But taken together, there’s an obvious asymmetry: The initial boundaries A are all clustered together at the flash, while the final boundaries B are spread out over the statue. Furthermore, it’s perfectly clear that the spreading of light from A is a much better explanation of the illumination at B than vice-versa. Even if the ray paths were viewed in reverse, no one would plausibly claim that the light was concentrated at the flashbulb because of complex patterns of light on the statue.

One lesson here is that satisfying explanations account for complicated events in terms of simple givens. They take a single fact, with just a few relevant parameters, to explain a plurality of events. This should be evident no matter which schema one is using.

But this asymmetry of A and B is not a rebuttal to the Lagrangian perspective, which merely says that A and B together can best explain the details of what happens in between. Even in the Lagrangian Schema, A and B are not independent of each other. To see how they’re related, we need to think bigger. According to the boundary framework of the Lagrangian Schema, explanations don’t chain. They nest. In other words, we don’t picture event A leading to event B leading to event C. Instead, we treat a small spacetime region in its entirety then we treat this region as part of a larger region (in both space and time). Applying the same Lagrangian logic, the larger boundaries should now explain everything in their interior, including the original boundaries.

If the future can constrain the past, why are the consequences confined to the quantum level?

Running this procedure for the statue example, we find the same asymmetry of bulb and illumination writ larger. That is, we find a satisfying explanation for the camera flash in its past, but we don’t explain the illumination of the statue by looking to its future. Then we can enclose that larger system in an even bigger one, and so on, until we have gone all the way out to the cosmological boundary—the external constraints on our entire universe. To the best of our knowledge, we see the same asymmetry at that scale: an unusual, smooth distribution of matter near the big bang, and greater disorder in the future.

Looking at ordinary spacetime regions from a Lagrangian perspective, the fact that initial boundaries (light rays diverging from flashbulbs) are simpler than final boundaries (lit statues) is strong evidence that our closest cosmological boundary lies to our past. The consistency of this ordering implies there is no corresponding cosmological boundary in the comparable future. So given the big bang as our best explanation of the obvious features of our universe, the evident direction of time is essentially no different from the spatial temperature gradient you feel when standing next to a cold window. In neither case is space or time asymmetric it’s just a matter of where you are located relative to the nearest boundary constraint.

On the classical scales that we typically observe, we don’t get any new information from the future boundary that we didn’t already have in the past. If this held true at all scales, the Lagrangian Schema would be in trouble, because the future boundary wouldn’t really matter at all. But in fact it isn’t true when we get down to the level of quantum uncertainty: Microscopic future details cannot be deduced from only the past. And the quantum scale is where the real power of the Lagrangian Schema becomes evident.

A TANGLED TALE: In a standard quantum-entanglement experiment, pairs of particles are emitted by a source and measured by detectors. Two computers, “Alice” and “Bob,” generate random numbers to control the detectors. Events at the detectors may dictate what happens at the source, even though they lie in its future. Jackie Ferrentino Based on sketch by authors

Q uantum entanglement is a concept that defies Newtonian Schema explanations. The details don’t matter for our purposes, so let’s consider the skeletal outline of a typical entanglement experiment (see A Tangled Tale). The apparatus in the center creates two particles. The left particle is sent to a detector controlled by one computer (“Alice”), and the right particle is sent to a distant detector controlled by another computer (“Bob”). The detectors measure their respective particles in one of several different ways, decided by independent random numbers. As the Irish physicist John Bell famously demonstrated in the ’60s, the measurement results of these experiments are correlated in ways that firmly resist our usual attempts at explanation.

In particular, the particles’ shared past isn’t sufficient to explain the measured correlations, at least not over the full range of measurement settings that Alice and Bob could randomly choose. Of course, many scientists want to explain these results physically and aren’t particularly happy with merely describing the correlations via bare mathematics. Left at a loss, they find themselves invoking mysterious entities not properly existing anywhere in space or time (begging for an explanation in their own right) or perhaps even traveling faster than light (in blatant violation of everything we know about Einstein’s theory of relativity).

Why can’t we use quantum phenomena to send messages into the past?

Leaving these desperate options aside, everyone agrees that if only the particles could anticipate Alice’s and Bob’s random settings in advance, a natural explanation could still be found. But most proposals to give the particles this information sound even more desperate, requiring what amounts to a form of cheating: The particles would somehow sniff out all the inputs to Alice’s and Bob’s random number generators and use that information to predict the future detector settings.

Almost no one buys this as a worthwhile explanation of the entanglement experiments, just as you wouldn’t accept an “explanation” of a localized camera flash as being due to the complicated details of a lit statue. Such conspiratorial accounts violate our reasonable standards of explanation: The putative mechanism is vastly more complicated than the simple outcomes it is trying to explain.

In the statue example, the obvious solution is to look to the simpler boundary—the flash—for the best explanation. For quantum entanglement, when using the Lagrangian viewpoint, a reasonable explanation is nearly as obvious. The explanation is not in the complex precursors to the detector settings, it’s in the simple future detector settings themselves.

The mysterious entangled particles exist in the shaded spacetime region in the figure, and the boundary of this region includes both their preparation and their eventual detection. The settings chosen by Alice and Bob are physically expressed by the actual detectors, on the final boundary—exactly where the Lagrangian Schema tells us to look for explanations. All we need to do is allow the particles to be directly constrained by that future boundary and a simple explanation of entanglement experiments becomes available. In this case, it’s the future and the past together that can best explain the observations.

Q uantum entanglement may not be the only mystery that we can dissolve by taking the future seriously as an explanation. Other quantum phenomena may also turn out to have an underlying simpler account, an explanation that could reside in ordinary space and time without any action at a distance. Maybe the probabilities in quantum theory will turn out to be like probabilities in every other scientific discipline: simply due to parameters that we don’t know (because some of them lie in the future).

Any such line of research will certainly raise significant questions. If the future can constrain the past, why are the consequences confined to the quantum level? Why can’t we use quantum phenomena to send messages into the past? At what scales does the cosmological boundary dominate, and how exactly should we generalize Lagrangian-based approaches to make this all work?

Addressing such questions might not just help physics it might also inform how we see ourselves as part of our four-dimensional universe. For example, according to the Lagrangian Schema, microscopic details in any region are not entirely constrained by the past boundary. On the level of the atoms in your brain, there are relevant but unknown constraints in the future. Perhaps this line of thinking could even help to explain our sense of free will, by providing a new sense in which the future is not purely determined by what has come before. Certainly it would require us to rethink the idea that there is a neat and objective difference between a fixed past and an open future.

Almost every time science has found a deeper, simpler, more satisfying explanation, it has led to a cascade of further scientific advances. So if there is a deeper account of quantum phenomena that we haven’t yet grasped, mastering that deeper level could lead to crucial advances in the vast array of technologies that utilize quantum effects. Mistaken instincts have certainly slowed past physics advances, and our instincts about time are as strong as they come. But there is a clear path forward to explaining some of nature’s deepest mysteries, if we can simply make ourselves look to the future.

Ken Wharton is a physics professor at San Jose State University, formerly an experimentalist working on high-intensity lasers, now a theorist working to unify physics by rethinking our conventional notions of time.

Huw Price is a philosopher professor at the University of Cambridge who is best known for exploring the time symmetry of physics. Beginning this fall, he will be director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence to study the ramifications of artificial intelligence.

The lead art was created using an image from Christian Mueller / Shutterstock


Morrison’s sabre rattling defies logic, history

Recently, we were regaled by pictures of our fearless leader looking at a tank. It didn’t look like he knew what he was seeing, but that fit perfectly with the explanation he offered for being there in the first place. Australia needed to arm itself, he said, because the homeland was under threat and he was ‘ eerily haunted by similar times in the 1930s ’. Then it was Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, now China, but same horse different jockey, as it were.

What was necessary was the Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan . Of course, we know what a great idea it is to counter weapons with weapons. Especially for those who rule the military-industrial complex: over the next ten years you and I will give them $575 billion dollars out of our taxes. Good idea, obviously. But I am still a little confused about that reference to the 1930s. What was Morrison talking about there?

Let’s listen to what he was saying first. The near future would be, he was convinced, a world that is ‘poorer, more dangerous and more disorderly’, a reminder, apparently, of ‘the existential threat we faced when the global and regional order suddenly collapsed in the 1930s and 1940s’. And this is why we were spending all that money and enlarging the ADF to 60,000 military personnel. There are a few points I would like to make here.

Number one: I am sure that those 60,000 people are amazing war horses and ready for anything. Also, those billions are a lot of money. On the other hand, the Chinese army is the biggest in the world, with 2.18 million active members . In that regard, Morrison is absolutely right to remind us of the 1930s.

In the years between WWI and WWII, Australia didn’t spend a lot of money on defence. It couldn’t. Not that it was ‘suddenly collapsing’, but shortly after WWI ended, first a serious drought and then the Great Depression broke out. The country had no money, so apart from a small group of professionals, the Permanent Military Forces, it had a larger group of civilian militia. The closer the country came to war, the more it spent on its military capability (and the poorer people became poorer because of that). But by then, Nazi Germany and the Japanese (and Italians) were way ahead of us. During the war, this led to endless fights between Curtin and Churchill about who could use the Australian forces to protect what. Churchill thought his Empire had preference, Curtin wanted them back in our country .

Why the warlike language by Scomo then? Apart from the fact that his mates in the military-industrial complex like to make some money?

The problem then, and now, is that we are a small nation. On a big island, with 36,000 kilometres of shoreline. We never have had, and never will, the capability to defend ourselves. Without the Yanks in WWII we would have been done for, and we will need them now as well. And if they are as reluctant and as arrogant as they were then, we are in for some fun and games. The good thing about being a tiny place that you can’t protect, is that it is wise not to even try. Why would you invest all that money into something you can’t really use anyway?

The build-up of our forces didn’t help us in the 1930s and it won’t help us now. Soft power (by which I don’t mean licking Chinese boots) seems much smarter to me. So why the warlike language by Scomo then? Apart from the fact that his mates in the military-industrial complex like to make some money? I am willing to bet that what is in the pipeline is conscription. It was then, and I am guessing that our fearless leader wants to introduce it again now. Of course, to force men to enrol in the military, you first have to give them boys’ toys. And you have to whip up enough fear in order for people to believe that it is necessary to ruin tens of thousands of men (and women?)’s lives.


NoSQL

The typifying feature of NoSQL databases is essentially the rejection of the &lsquorelational structuring of data&rsquo inherent to RDBMS. The recent impetus behind enterprises turning to NoSQL, commonly referred to as not only SQL, has been the latest explosion in transaction volume which must be recorded as so much commerce is conducted online. This in parallel with the boon of cheap online storage has popularized NoSQL. It makes a better friend of the ad-hoc changes and dynamism demanded by a growing enterprise than the relational database does. Creating a relational database involves research and consideration of what data conceivably needs to be tracked in order to construct a relational schema. However, if you&rsquore an agile App in startup mode, the NoSQL format allows you to voraciously hoard any and all points of data (even ones you hadn&rsquot imagined at the outset of setting up your database)—after all, you never know when it may be useful down the line.

The jury is undecided over whether NoSQL will supplant the relational model. The skepticism surrounding its candidacy illuminates a novel moment in this data history. One question begged of Big Data has been: Is anybody actually handling data big enough to merit a change to NoSQL architectures? This may be the first point in the history of databases that a data reservoir has found the world wanting in terms of incoming volumes of data.

Cover image of IBM RAMAC 305 (1956) courtesy IBM.

Notes

Some have mentioned the absence of graph databases in this brief history. An original draft included information on graph systems but was ultimately removed for concision.

In addition, an addendum on the unconventional ZigZag database can be found on Stephen&rsquos personal webpage.


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