An act of God

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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vegetariantaxidermy
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Re: An act of God

Post by vegetariantaxidermy » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:48 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:43 am
Lacewing wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:28 am
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:01 am
Well, we must be careful not to imagine "nature" refers to some intelligence capable of creating a universe. If it means that, then you're back to God -- a supernatural intelligence that could plan, intend and execute a universe.
Why do you leap to that conclusion?
It's not a leap.

If you anthropomorphize "Nature," and attribute to it creative power, order, intent, preferences and directions, then you've turned it into a weird kind of "god." Nature, according to Naturalism, is impersonal, has no intentions, does not plan, direct or control. It just exists. It is not even capable of knowing or caring what comes out of it. It's just another form of random chance.
Oh my giddy aunt. I agree with you on something.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: An act of God

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:06 pm

Harbal wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:14 am
Perhaps Lacewing isn't talking about nature according to Naturalism. Maybe she has her own concept of what nature is.
Maybe. But so what?

If she has the idea that "Nature" has volition, wishes, design-intentions, preferences, arrangements, teleology, and so on, then she's anthropomorphizing nature. That's her conception. Her conception is of a supernatural consciousness capable of those actions listed above.

So she could call it "Nature," or "god," or "Apollo," or "Crom" or "Mook the Magnificent," and it will make no difference. All that will have changed is the name.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: An act of God

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:07 pm

vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:48 am
Oh my giddy aunt. I agree with you on something.
We should declare a national holiday. This doesn't happen every day.

uwot
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Re: An act of God

Post by uwot » Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:25 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:01 am
You must mean, "Randomness accidentally produced order from chaos." Except that, stated that way, it becomes much harder not to notice the implausibility of that option...so people prefer to use the more anthropomorphic term, "Nature."
Ya don't have to believe that freezing water is guided by any 'intelligence' as it invariably forms six sided snowflakes. Nor that evolution informs species that there is an ecological niche to exploit.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:01 am
The Biblical account doesn't say "chaos," but "nothing": a creation ex nihilo, as they say.
That's right, Mr Can; the Bible is a science textbook.

Belinda
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Re: An act of God

Post by Belinda » Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:22 pm

There are three hypotheses:-

Immanuel Can wrote, initially quoting me:
1 God made order from chaos.
2. Nature made order from chaos.
Well, we must be careful not to imagine "nature" refers to some intelligence capable of creating a universe. If it means that, then you're back to God -- a supernatural intelligence that could plan, intend and execute a universe.

You must mean, "Randomness accidentally produced order from chaos." Except that, stated that way, it becomes much harder not to notice the implausibility of that option...so people prefer to use the more anthropomorphic term, "Nature."
I hoped I could credit you with understanding how natural selection and all don't deal in final cause. Unlike God who does. Nature is not random ,as order does not imply a designer who deals in final cause. How is it you don't understand that?( She complained despairingly).
A third problem: "chaos" cannot be the starting point, if by "chaos" we mean a state in which some things already existed. Those contingent elements of chaos would then also need a prior origin-explanation.

The Biblical account doesn't say "chaos," but "nothing": a creation ex nihilo, as they say.
Chaos precisely means no things/ no events exist. To use Biblical language, the spirit of God the Maker of all, had not yet created order. God is cause of itself . Nature is cause of itself. The difference between God and nature is the personal God intends to create , maintain, and bring to a conclusion: nature doesn't intend anything.
3. Man made order from chaos.




That's really not an option. Man is manifestly a contingent being, and thus isn't even a rational candidate.
Man is a necessary being according to God's plan . Man is a necessary being according to nature's evolution. History could not have been otherwise than that man evolved. Where did you get the notion that man is a contingent being? True, we don't know the entire history of man as he is not yet defunct. O ye of little faith, why do ye not see that God, nature, and man all three are still in the making? God took an awful risk when He threw in his lot with man and only love could have done it. It's a great narrative Immanuel don't distort it.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: An act of God

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:51 pm

In response to Harbal's offering, let me offer a story from a man who was probably the most renowned Atheist of the previous century, Anthony Flew:


"Let us begin with a parable. Imagine that a satellite phone is washed
ashore on a remote island inhabited by a tribe that has never had
contact with modern civilization. The natives play with the numbers on
the dial pad and hear different voices upon hitting certain sequences.
They assume first that it’s the device that makes these noises. Some
of the cleverer natives, the scientists of the tribe, assemble an
exact replica and hit the numbers again. They hear the voices again.
The conclusion seems obvious to them. This particular combination of
crystals and metals and chemicals produces what seems like human
voices, and this means that the voices are simply properties of this
device.

But the tribal sage summons the scientists for a discussion. He has
thought long and hard on the matter and has reached the following
conclusion: the voices coming through the instrument must be coming
from people like themselves, people who are living and conscious
although speaking in another language. Instead of assuming that the
voices are simply properties of the handset, they should investigate
the possibility that through some mysterious communication network
they are ‘in touch’ with other humans. Perhaps further study along
these lines could lead to a greater understanding of the world beyond
their island. But the scientists simply laugh at the sage and say,
‘Look, when we damage the instrument, the voices stop coming. So
they’re obviously nothing more than sounds produced by a unique
combinatino of lithium and printed circuit boards and light-emitting
diodes.

In this parable we see how easy it is to let preconceived theories
shape the way we view evidence instead of letting the evidence shape
our theories…. And in this, it seems to me, lies the peculiar
danger, the endemic evil, of dogmatic atheism. Take such utterances as
‘We should not ask for an explanation of how it is that the world
exists; it is here and that’s all’ or “Since we cannot accept a
transcendent source of life, we choose to believe the impossible: that
life arose spontaneously by chance from matter’ or ‘The laws of
physics are “lawless laws” that arise from the void — end of
discussion.’ They look at first sight like rational arguments that
have a special authority because they have a no-nonsense air about
them. Of course, this is no more sign that they are either rational or
arguments….

… I therefore put to my former fellow-atheists the simple central
question: ‘What would have to occur or to have occurred to constitute
for you a reason to at least consider the existence of a superior
Mind?

Moving on now from the parable, it’s time for me to lay my cards on
the table, to set out my own views and the reasons that support them.
I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an
infinite Intelligence. I believe that this universe’s intricate laws
manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that
life and reproduction originate in a divine Source.

Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for
more than half a century? The short answer is this: this is the world
picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science. Science
spotlights three dimensions that point to God. The first is the fact
that nature obeys laws. The second is the dimension of life, of
intelligently organized and purpose-driven beings, which arose from
matter. The third is the very existence of nature. But it is not this
alone that has guided me. I have also been helped by a renewed study
of the classical philosophical arguments. "


Comments?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: An act of God

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Jul 16, 2019 3:08 pm

Belinda wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:22 pm
natural selection and all don't deal in final cause.
Quite so.

So we must avoid statements like "Nature intends..." or "Nature arranges..." or even "Nature's laws require..." We should opt instead to say merely, "Randomness happened this way..."

If we don't confine our usage to non-anthropomorphic and non-teleological (i.e. without "final cause" postulates) terms, we're glossing over a god-type explanation by using the word "Nature." And then we're not talking about a neutral, indifferent, unconscious nature at all.

But then you say,
Nature is not random
That contradicts the above.

For there are only two alternatives: random chance, and deliberate arrangement. If any modicum of planning, intention, direction, purpose or volition was involved in creating the universe, then you are positing some kind of supernatural intelligence, or "god".

You cannot opt for that, if you are using small-"n" nature as your explanation.
Chaos precisely means no things/ no events exist.
I'm sorry to contradict, but it doesn't, actually. It means without order, not without substance. See https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictio ... lish/chaos

When a mother says, "Clean up your room, it's chaotic," she is not saying to her daughter, "Clean up your room that does not exist." :wink:
3. Man made order from chaos.

That's really not an option. Man is manifestly a contingent being, and thus isn't even a rational candidate.
Man is a necessary being according to God's plan .
Perhaps: but not "necessary" in the philosophical sense. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tefsuXuntbM

Philosophy uses the word "necessary" to designate that which by it's own nature cannot possibly not exist...like, for example, numbers. Anything that lives and dies, or anything that could have been even slightly other-than-it-is is not "necessary" in that sense.
Man is a necessary being according to nature's evolution.
Not even slightly.

It's very easy to imagine planets -- we don't even have to imagine them, because such exist -- on which there are no human beings. It's not hard to imagine the whole universe that way either. Humans are contingent beings, not philosophically "necessary" ones.

Belinda
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Re: An act of God

Post by Belinda » Tue Jul 16, 2019 3:40 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:


For there are only two alternatives: random chance, and deliberate arrangement. If any modicum of planning, intention, direction, purpose or volition was involved in creating the universe, then you are positing some kind of supernatural intelligence, or "god".

You cannot opt for that, if you are using small-"n" nature as your explanation.
Natural selection is not random it's a form of selection. Random and selected don't go together. Nobody deliberated natural selection. When selection is deliberate it's artificial selection.
Chaos precisely means no things/ no events exist.
I'm sorry to contradict, but it doesn't, actually. It means without order, not without substance. See https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictio ... lish/chaos

When a mother says, "Clean up your room, it's chaotic," she is not saying to her daughter, "Clean up your room that does not exist." :wink:
Things are substantial. Events happen to substances.

How a word is used in a vernacular has little bearing on its ontological meaning.
Please don't wink at me.
3. Man made order from chaos.
That's really not an option. Man is manifestly a contingent being, and thus isn't even a rational candidate.

Man is a necessary being according to God's plan .
Philosophy uses the word "necessary" to designate that which by it's own nature cannot possibly not exist...like, for example, numbers. Anything that lives and dies, or anything that could have been even slightly other-than-it-is is not "necessary" in that sense.
Man is a necessary being according to nature's evolution.
Not even slightly.
Its possible to fantasize man did not exist. What transpired was and is man exists. You confuse fantastic possibility with fact.
It's very easy to imagine planets -- we don't even have to imagine them, because such exist -- on which there are no human beings. It's not hard to imagine the whole universe that way either. Humans are contingent beings, not philosophically "necessary" ones.
Fantasy or fact which is best?

Everything that happened necessarily happened. What will happen will not necessarily happen; that's because the future is chaotic until it happens then it's not the future it's the past.

You are afraid of the chaos which is the future so you invent a God Who has it all safely wrapped up for you. My God prefers you to take responsibility for your future like a man

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Lacewing
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Re: An act of God

Post by Lacewing » Tue Jul 16, 2019 4:20 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:06 pm
Harbal wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:14 am
Perhaps Lacewing isn't talking about nature according to Naturalism. Maybe she has her own concept of what nature is.
Maybe. But so what?

If she has the idea that "Nature" has volition, wishes, design-intentions, preferences, arrangements, teleology, and so on, then she's anthropomorphizing nature. That's her conception.
No, that's you projecting some conception onto me. Why assume that natural forces and creativity must have man’s ideas of wishes, preferences, and intentions, etc?

Why would man’s model of reality, which is based on very limited perception and awareness, be “the model” for that which is vastly expansive beyond man’s reality?

Why would there need to be a separate identity directing everything?

Is it not observable that there is an energy flowing/shared throughout all, displaying no grand intentions other than creativity, exploration, and expression? Why would humans reject this non-ego potential, and superimpose a human story/model?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: An act of God

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:06 pm

Lacewing wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 4:20 pm
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:06 pm
Harbal wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:14 am
Perhaps Lacewing isn't talking about nature according to Naturalism. Maybe she has her own concept of what nature is.
Maybe. But so what?

If she has the idea that "Nature" has volition, wishes, design-intentions, preferences, arrangements, teleology, and so on, then she's anthropomorphizing nature. That's her conception.
No, that's you projecting some conception onto me. Why assume that natural forces and creativity must have man’s ideas of wishes, preferences, and intentions, etc?
I didn't. Notice the word "if" there? It marks a hypothetical construction, one that thus only applies IF some particular thing is true.

But not just you, but anybody who anthropomorphizes "Nature" has done that. If you haven't done that, fine: but then you must believe mere randomness produces cosmic order out of chaos. The minute you impose a regularity on that, you've anthropomorphized the concept.

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Lacewing
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Re: An act of God

Post by Lacewing » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:32 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:06 pm
anybody who anthropomorphizes "Nature" has done that. If you haven't done that, fine: but then you must believe mere randomness produces cosmic order out of chaos. The minute you impose a regularity on that, you've anthropomorphized the concept.
What makes you think that the human concepts of "order" and "chaos" are to be applied? Why can't various flows stir and then regulate naturally, continually?

Please also respond to my other questions (re-posted below). I would very much like to hear your honest answers.

Why would man’s model of reality, which is based on very limited perception and awareness, be “the model” for that which is vastly expansive beyond man’s reality?

Why would there need to be a separate identity directing everything?

Is it not observable that there is an energy flowing/shared throughout all, displaying no grand intentions other than creativity, exploration, and expression? Why would humans reject this non-ego potential, and superimpose a human story/model?

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Harbal
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Re: An act of God

Post by Harbal » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:53 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:51 pm


In this parable we see how easy it is to let preconceived theories
shape the way we view evidence instead of letting the evidence shape
our theories….
We only see how easy it is because the fictitious scenario was constructed to give that impression. Anyone can write a story where the characters come to whatever conclusion they want them to come to.
And in this, it seems to me, lies the peculiar
danger, the endemic evil, of dogmatic atheism.
I don't like dogmatic atheism any more than I like dogmatic religion, or dogmatic politics, or dogmatic anything.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: An act of God

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:07 pm

Lacewing wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:32 pm
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:06 pm
anybody who anthropomorphizes "Nature" has done that. If you haven't done that, fine: but then you must believe mere randomness produces cosmic order out of chaos. The minute you impose a regularity on that, you've anthropomorphized the concept.
What makes you think that the human concepts of "order" and "chaos" are to be applied?
What species's concepts would you like applied? If not our own concepts, then whose?
Please also respond to my other questions (re-posted below). I would very much like to hear your honest answers.

Why would man’s model of reality, which is based on very limited perception and awareness, be “the model” for that which is vastly expansive beyond man’s reality?
I will happily respond...if I could figure out the meaning from the syntax. But I can't.

Can you rephrase?
Why would there need to be a separate identity directing everything?
An entity "separate" from what? Separate from the universe?

If that's what you're asking then the answer is simple, and comes from Spinoza. It's the Principle of Sufficient Reason. One element of this theory is that a purported cause must be sufficient to its purported effect. If it's not, then the right assumption is that it is not the cause of that effect.

Any purported cause of the universe must be sufficient in nature to the proposed effect, the universe. That means it must be greater than, and pre-exist the universe. If it's not, it's as absurd as saying, "I'm my own grandfather."
Is it not observable that there is an energy flowing/shared throughout all, displaying no grand intentions other than creativity, exploration, and expression? Why would humans reject this non-ego potential, and superimpose a human story/model?
Answer: no, it's not observable. It seems to be a sort of religious postulate, and one not borne out by the empirical evidence. Moreover, "creativity, exploration and expression" are far from "non-grand intentions": they're things only a person can do. Indeed, they are among the most celebrated features of humanity.

So again, you're anthropomorphizing "Nature" there.

But you do raise a very interesting question: if human beings are about "creativity, exploration and expression," and these things are only possible to persons, then why would we not also be drawn to the postulate that the Creator also has these features?

I think you have the idea that in using human terms we are possibly under-describing something. And that's probably partly right. But what we're doing is attempting to describe, not attempting to control, or even to "model". We are approximating the realities with the best tools we have, not trying to shape our findings beforehand.

Science can only use human terms. And those are inevitably human. So however short we may fall of describing cosmic realities, we have to trust we can keep getting better. And in any case, we have no other means for understanding them at all. So the alternative is blank silence.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: An act of God

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:30 pm

Harbal wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:53 pm
We only see how easy it is because the fictitious scenario was constructed to give that impression. Anyone can write a story where the characters come to whatever conclusion they want them to come to.
Well, let me quote what a very wise man said to me very recently:

"Yes, the main one being that it doesn't comply with your views on the matter."

:D

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Harbal
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Re: An act of God

Post by Harbal » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:36 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:30 pm
"Yes, the main one being that it doesn't comply with your views on the matter."
:D
Actually, IC, just to show how unbiased I am, I will post another little story of mine that is much more in tune with your views. Watch out for it.

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