Can God be beyond the universe?

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Philosophy Explorer
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Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Philosophy Explorer » Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:58 pm

Interesting problem.

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QuantumT
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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by QuantumT » Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:03 am

I don't see any other option for divinity. Either it's everywhere or there is none.

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Mike Strand » Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:04 am

Philosophy Explorer wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:58 pm
Interesting problem.

🇺🇲PhilX🇺🇲
Yes, it is interesting -- one reason for this is that the solution may vary, depending on how the terms are defined. For example:

If "God" is the supernatural Being, the creator of the universe, and so on, suggested by religion, there is an inherent contradiction if one claims God is part of the universe, unless God somehow created God.

If the universe is everything that exists, then God, if extant, would belong to the universe by definition.

If "God" is a metaphor for "love" or "goodness" (human ideals), then God exists as an idea in the human mind, and thus exists in some sense in the universe if we can say that human beings and their ideas are part of the universe.

Now suppose the universe is restricted to "nature", and nature is restricted to what human beings can detect, study, investigate, describe, or understand. Suppose also that God is the supernatural Being of religion and, in some sense, dwells in a realm separate from nature, and who created nature. Then God could be viewed as not in the "universe".

The solution thus may well depend on definition of terms, and once again we can appreciate Socrates's observation that the beginning of wisdom is to define the terms of the discussion. Wisdom, or confusion, if people have differing definitions.

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Mike Strand » Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:16 pm

The thread question, "Can God be beyond the universe?", calls for defining at least two words: "God", and "Universe". To illustrate again the power or importance of definitions, here's how the question can change into, "Is God nonexistent?"

Define the universe as everything that exists. Define God as anything you like. Then the thread question becomes, "Is God nonexistent?"

Also under these definitions, the question, "Is God in the universe?" would become the old, familiar question, "Does God exist?"

To either question, Socrates may well answer: "It depends on how you define God."

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Greta » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:18 am

A bit daggy to quote oneself, I know, but a posting I just made in another thread here fits the thread theme too well :)
Some Silly Old Cow wrote:We have it all wrong. The Earth and Moon are our demigods and the Sun is God, but it's also a demigod subject to the greater deity - supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*. Our galaxy's centre which fulfils all criteria for God:

- it created us and our "universe" (galaxies are like universes at human time scales anyway)
- it is ineffable and mysterious
- it is in another realm - the insides of black holes are locked off from the rest of the universe, each effectively being a universe of its own
- it could smite us down at any time with a gamma ray burst
- we have a bit of it within everything. Quarks are the closest thing in baryonic matter to singularities such as is within black holes (quasi-singularities? we don't [yet] know)

The nature of our true deity, though, is such that It is unlikely to care much that some homininds on the Orion Spur of the Orion arm believe in a self-reflecting deity.

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Mike Strand » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:17 am

I
Greta wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:18 am
A bit daggy to quote oneself, I know, but a posting I just made in another thread here fits the thread theme too well :)
Some Silly Old Cow wrote:We have it all wrong. The Earth and Moon are our demigods and the Sun is God, but it's also a demigod subject to the greater deity - supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*. Our galaxy's centre which fulfils all criteria for God:

- it created us and our "universe" (galaxies are like universes at human time scales anyway)
- it is ineffable and mysterious
- it is in another realm - the insides of black holes are locked off from the rest of the universe, each effectively being a universe of its own
- it could smite us down at any time with a gamma ray burst
- we have a bit of it within everything. Quarks are the closest thing in baryonic matter to singularities such as is within black holes (quasi-singularities? we don't [yet] know)

The nature of our true deity, though, is such that It is unlikely to care much that some homininds on the Orion Spur of the Orion arm believe in a self-reflecting deity.
This reminds me of Spinoza defining “God” as “nature”, even (or especially) the parts we don’t now understand.

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by surreptitious57 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:50 am

The Universe is defined as ALL THERE IS and so the notion of something beyond it makes no sense
Even God can not inhabit a point in spacetime that does not actually exist for it is just impossible

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Mike Strand » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:25 am

Mike Strand wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:04 am
If the universe is everything that exists, then God, if extant, would belong to the universe by definition.
surreptitious57 wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:50 am
The Universe is defined as ALL THERE IS and so the notion of something beyond it makes no sense
Even God can not inhabit a point in spacetime that does not actually exist for it is just impossible
I agree with you, surrepitious 57! Our statements imply the same overall idea. I was being cautious, when I wrote If the universe is everything that exists ..., in case anyone out there might, for some reason, define the universe differently. I was also careful to state God also as a premise (... then, God, if extant ...). Your statement is just as good, if not better, as a piece of writing, and the reader needs to realize that the premises are implicit. My wording is perhaps more like a statement in mathematics.

The universe as other than everything that exists (all there is)?? -- In my earlier post, I tried out the definition of the universe as being restricted to human-knowable nature. Such a notion is favored by folks who want to entertain a notion of the "supernatural".

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by surreptitious57 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:09 pm

Sometimes the physical observable Universe and the metaphysical state that God supposedly inhabits are treated as entirely separate domains
But that is a category error because if the Universe is ALL THERE IS then that logically would include the metaphysical as well if it really exists
Christians and Muslims think that Heaven is a separate state beyond the Universe and that God exists outside of space and time. However both
of these beliefs are false regardless of whether or not God actually exists because they display no understanding of physics. If there is no space and time then there is nothing that can exist within it because it is non existent by definition

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Mike Strand » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:07 pm

surreptitious57 wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:09 pm
Sometimes the physical observable Universe and the metaphysical state that God supposedly inhabits are treated as entirely separate domains
But that is a category error because if the Universe is ALL THERE IS then that logically would include the metaphysical as well if it really exists
Christians and Muslims think that Heaven is a separate state beyond the Universe and that God exists outside of space and time. However both
of these beliefs are false regardless of whether or not God actually exists because they display no understanding of physics. If there is no space and time then there is nothing that can exist within it because it is non existent by definition
Mike Strand wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:04 am
If the universe is everything that exists, then God, if extant, would belong to the universe by definition.
Once again, I agree with surreptitious57, here, under the definition of universe as everything that exists.

Here we get into two of the difficulties to which definitions and assumptions can lead: (1) Does a given definition or assumption reflect "reality", and (2) is the definition a common understanding of the word being defined? When a person makes a case, we need to insist that the person defines his terms and clarifies his assumptions, whether or not we like the definitions or agree with his assumptions.

Then, our job is to see if the resulting conclusions follow the rules of logic. If they do, then we check whether the conclusions can be tested, or are obviously false, which would lead us to criticize the person's definitions or assumptions.

A common definition for "universe", or pervasive understanding of what it means, at least in physics, is whatever arose due to the Big Bang, and which is the object of human observation and study. Now we're faced with two conflicting assumptions: That Homo sapiens is capable of understanding the universe, at least some day, or is not capable of such understanding, at least of some of the universe. If a person assumes that human beings are incapable of understanding at least part of the universe, then there exists (from the Big Bang) a realm that might be called "exo-natural", to avoid the religious connotation of "supernatural".

To assume this human incapability or limitation leads to some amusing conclusions, discussed in the thread, "Droll Implications of the Supernatural", under the Lounge. Maybe the title should have used the word "exo-natural" instead of "supernatural".

For example, if the "exo-natural" exists, suppose we can witness at least some aspects of it (e.g., events in nature triggered somehow by forces or objects in the exo-natural). Some such events may be amazing, beautiful, "inexplicable", and the like, to us, and some of us may conclude that they are, therefore, "miracles" -- or better, caused by exo-natural phenomena. Such phenomena, however, are those which human beings cannot understand, by definition. This means that this conclusion of an exo-natural cause can't be tested directly, because it can't be shown that such an event will never get a correct natural explanation.

If the amazing event was caused entirely by forces and objects in the human-understandable part of the universe, then the conclusion that it was an exo-natural-caused event will be disproved only on the day it receives a correct natural explanation. So in the meantime, both the anti-exo-natural folks and the pro-exo-naturalists may just as well go out for drinks together and enjoy the current mysterious status of the amazing event.

Now, if England wins the World Cup, it won't be a miracle, but scientifically explainable by their overall talent and superiority, right?

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Noax » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:27 pm

Mike Strand wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:25 am
The universe as other than everything that exists (all there is)?? -- In my earlier post, I tried out the definition of the universe as being restricted to human-knowable nature. Such a notion is favored by folks who want to entertain a notion of the "supernatural".
There are plenty of other definitions. It requires a different definition of 'universe' to talk about a multiverse, or other universes.
'Supernatural' means not part of natural law. Usually a god is supernatural even with a 'all there is' definition of 'universe'. The natural part is not all of the universe. Part of it is supernatural.

Finally, one might wish to discuss the universe despite one's disbelief that it exists in any objective way, similar to how one might wish to discuss prime numbers despite lack of acceptance of their platonic existence. One can talk about the moon being part of the universe without committing to its objective existence.
So 'all there is' is a valid definition, but not the only valid one. Yes, the definition must be made clear before asking the question as PhilX has done. I notice no clarification, implying not much thought being put into the OP.

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Noax » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:50 pm

Mike Strand wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:07 pm
Here we get into two of the difficulties to which definitions and assumptions can lead: (1) Does a given definition or assumption reflect "reality", and (2) is the definition a common understanding of the word being defined?
(1) A defintion is not an assertion of reality. There are 3 things, and different definitions of 'set X' include anywhere from 0 to 3 of those things. There is no reality about which of the 3 things are actually in the 'correct set X'.
When a person makes a case, we need to insist that the person defines his terms and clarifies his assumptions, whether or not we like the definitions or agree with his assumptions.

Then, our job is to see if the resulting conclusions follow the rules of logic. If they do, then we check whether the conclusions can be tested, or are obviously false, which would lead us to criticize the person's definitions or assumptions.
Yes.
A common definition for "universe", or pervasive understanding of what it means, at least in physics, is whatever arose due to the Big Bang, and which is the object of human observation and study.
Two different definitions. The latter precludes other worlds inaccessible due to spatial separation, temporal seporation, or quantum decoherence. The former includes all these things, none of which can be the object of human observation. Science also uses a more broad definition than just our big bang. Other 'bangs' exist under chaotic inflation theory, so there is yet another definition of 'universe'.
Now we're faced with two conflicting assumptions: That Homo sapiens is capable of understanding the universe, at least some day, or is not capable of such understanding, at least of some of the universe. If a person assumes that human beings are incapable of understanding at least part of the universe, then there exists (from the Big Bang) a realm that might be called "exo-natural", to avoid the religious connotation of "supernatural".
I like the term. It seems arrogant to assume that all can be worked out from our limited subjective viewpoint, just as cosmology probably is going to be never understood by a race forever confined to a dust cloud preventing views of other stars. There are likely parts of nature that are unknowable, but still natural. The big bang is our cloud. You can see it, but you can't see beyond it.
For example, if the "exo-natural" exists, suppose we can witness at least some aspects of it (e.g., events in nature triggered somehow by forces or objects in the exo-natural). Some such events may be amazing, beautiful, "inexplicable", and the like, to us, and some of us may conclude that they are, therefore, "miracles" -- or better, caused by exo-natural phenomena. Such phenomena, however, are those which human beings cannot understand, by definition. This means that this conclusion of an exo-natural cause can't be tested directly, because it can't be shown that such an event will never get a correct natural explanation.
Well, God sort of fits in that. God as a creator puts the god in a direct relationship with our spacetime: a created object. So what is nature then? The rules of God and his objects, or the rules of one of the objects? That definition must be clarified to distinguish a supernatural god from an exo-natural god. I don't think there is a correct definition of 'natural' then. Usually it means the physics of our spacetime, but not always.

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Mike Strand » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:35 pm

Thanks, Noax!, for your interest and interesting thoughts.
Noax wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:27 pm
Finally, one might wish to discuss the universe despite one's disbelief that it exists in any objective way, similar to how one might wish to discuss prime numbers despite lack of acceptance of their platonic existence. One can talk about the moon being part of the universe without committing to its objective existence.
So 'all there is' is a valid definition, but not the only valid one. Yes, the definition must be made clear before asking the question as PhilX has done. I notice no clarification, implying not much thought being put into the OP.
Defining "to exist" is a philosophical area in which I, personally, fear to tread, wise or not. So Socrates's penchant for definition enters the picture yet again!

If I stick my neck out for the time being, let me pose this definition: "To exist" is to be detectable by human beings, or able to be investigated by human beings, or with which a human being may interact, according to the human senses or their extensions (e.g. telescope, blood hound, particle accelerator, and such).

Maybe this definition of "to exist" is a subjective, human definition, but it can inform human discussions.

As for your last two sentences, Noax, regarding PhilX's question that defines the thread: At least it got me going, in terms of thinking about Socrates's advice. So I also extend my thanks to PhilX.

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Mike Strand » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:54 pm

Mike Strand wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:35 pm
If I stick my neck out for the time being, let me pose this definition: "To exist" is to be detectable by human beings, or able to be investigated by human beings, or with which a human being may interact, according to the human senses or their extensions (e.g. telescope, blood hound, particle accelerator, and such).

Maybe this definition of "to exist" is a subjective, human definition, but it can inform human discussions.
Inform controversy in this case: If the universe can contain things Homo sapiens cannot detect, discover and understand (the "exo-natural"), then immediately this subjective, human definition of "to exist" can be questioned. This merely restates some of Noax's observations. To paraphrase Noax, it appears hubristic for human thinkers to believe that Homo sapiens is able to know and understand everything about reality, at least eventually.

This is not to say we can't come to understand a lot more about reality than we do today!

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Re: Can God be beyond the universe?

Post by Mike Strand » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:58 pm

Philosophy Explorer wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:58 pm
Interesting problem.

🇺🇲PhilX🇺🇲
Hey, PhilX, do you like the responses to this question, or have they gone hopelessly awry?

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