Sunday, October 9, 2011

Information and knowing

We live in an age of information.  It is not just money that changes hands around the globe, but information.  We send and receive emails, texts, twitters... we write on our blogs.  There are whole fields of study devoted to information  - information theory, information science, economics of information - just to name a few.  It is easy to create and difficult to quantify; essential and practical yet somehow intangible.  Have you ever thought about the role of 'information' in your life?

In the field of Quantum Optics (where I work and study), information theory becomes important.  Many questions arise, such as "how much information can be 'stored' in a photon?" or "what are the limitations on transporting information - how fast can we do it, and with what loss of information?"    These are fascinating questions with clear implications for the information-driven society in which we live.

Yet - in the midst of this world based on bits of fact or idea - yet we long for something more.  Do we not?  It is not enough to simply possess knowledge.  We want to really know it, to have it affect who we are at our core.  How many times do we hear someone express the desire that something will make the transition from their head to their heart?  Or that they feel like a hypocrite, saying what they do not feel?

In my own life I know that I long for more than simply information.  It is not enough to know about the love of God.  I want that love and the knowledge of that love to transform me.  It is not enough to say that God is good or beautiful.  I want to be filled with wonder at who God is.

It seems that even as we become better and better at producing, quantifying, and transporting information, this deep need we have will remain.  We are dependent on the slow working of time in our lives for this true knowing to happen.  More than that, we are dependent on the work of God in our lives to transform us.  And not just dependent - grateful that he does work in this way.

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