God vs The Multiverse

Click here for God vs The Multiverse: a rational argument for the Existence of One God who intelligently designed one universe.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 21: On Knowing God)

Steven Weinberg asks a very direct question (which we took the liberty of expanding upon).  What does the word 'God' even mean?  It merely signifies an empty mysterious Being, which does not explain how order, complexity, and fine tuning come from this Being.  The word has no value as essentially it represents a big question mark.  We still have no concept of why there is order and complexity, and we intrinsically can never know!

A further question that can be raised on our explanation of fine tuning is as follows: How could the God of Abraham (One Simple Necessary Existence) possibly be the Intelligent Designer of the universe?  Doesn't saying that God is Intelligent, necessarily imply complexity in His Absolutely Simple Essence?  Calling an Absolutely Simple Existence "Intelligent" is nothing other that a contradiction of terms! You might as well say square-circle, and admit to believing in that which is absurd!

We think that these epistemological questions get right at the most abstract part of these posts.  The solution to these questions can be apprehended by understanding the important role that fundamentals play in scientific models.  It is essential to understand how the human mind builds models of reality, and the intrinsic limitations that this imposes upon our ability to comprehend all that is real.

The basic answer to these questions is that 'intelligence' is a description of that which God produced; namely, the universe.  It is not a component of His Absolutely Simple Essence, as that would indeed imply complexity in that which is Absolutely Simple, which is an absurd idea.  That which is Absolutely Simple can not be understood it terms of anything simpler.  This answer is easy to say, but hard to grasp, and we will spend the rest of the post trying to elucidate this critical concept.

Once again, we are going to work with the scientific example of the previous posts to help illustrate the concept of fundamental and the intrinsic limitations of understanding that which is fundamental.  The important idea is not the particulars of the science, but rather to grasp the role that fundamentals play in human understanding. We want to reiterate that we are NOT saying that God is the most fundamental particle, or that God's Absolute Simplicity is to be equated with the limited simplicity of fundamental particles.  (See post 18 and its comments for more details on this important point.)

Modern science has been very successful at reducing the complex objects and events in the universe to a few fundamental particles that interact with one another.  An electron is one of the fundamental particles, which means that as far as we know, it can not be understood in terms of anything more basic.  Consequently, we can not comprehend the essence of an electron.  (Again, if string theory is true, a similar line of reasoning will apply for a fundamental string.)

However, we can understand an electron by studying how it acts.  We know that it interacts with fundamental particles called photons, so we say it has an intrinsic property called 'charge'.  All 'charge' really means is that an electron interacts with photons.  We do not know what about the electron causes this, because an electron is not made out of anything simpler that would enable us to understand how it does this.  That is why science calls the electron a fundamental particle.

Additionally, we do not even understand the nature of the interaction between two electrons repelling each other.  According to the incredibly successful theory of QED, each electron absorbs or emits virtual messenger photons in this interaction.  Despite this description, we have no real understanding about this fundamental interaction.  An electron has no internal structure, so what does it even mean for an electron to absorb a photon?  How does it do that?  Where does it "put" the photon?  We can not answer these questions, because science can not reduce this interaction to any simpler explanation.  Science therefore calls it a fundamental interaction.

While the action of "pushing" is usually accomplished by a complex object (like a person or a machine) via the expansion and contraction of its various parts, in the case of an electron this same action is accomplished by a fundamental entity.  However, we can not explain how one electron "pushes" another electron (as we can by the person or the machine), except by saying they exchange virtual photons.

QED models the actions of an electron; it does not model the essence of an electron or explain how a simple electron does what it does.  We simply do not understand how electrons absorb and emit virtual photons; they just do, and that is what causes the two electrons to push each other away.  The one thing we do know is that it is not by flexing their little complex electron muscles.

Just because we can not further understand the essence of electrons, photons, and their fundamental interactions, does not mean that QED explains nothing about the universe.  The exact opposite is true.  Once we accept these few simple first principles of QED, we are able (in theory) to understand all complex phenomenon which only involve electrons, photons, and their interaction (such as chemistry and biology).

Thus, scientists do not know what an electron actually is or what about an electron causes its action.  However, they are satisfied to posit its existence, describe its actions, and see how complexity results from these simple fundamental principles. They realize that this is the most that one can possibly know about something which is truly fundamental.

The questions of "What is a fundamental particle really?" and  "How does something so simple do what it does?", bothers the layperson very much.  The layman may challenge the scientist by claiming that he is being illogical. The action of "pushing" can only be accomplished by a complex object via the expansion and contraction of its various parts.  How can an irreducible fundamental particle push anything?  Which part of it does the pushing?  Just to say that "it pushes" is illogical! We may as well posit a square-circle!

It is clear that this objection is based upon the layman's frustration and lack of experience with the study of fundamentals.  There is a major difference between something which is a logical contradiction (square-circle), and something which a person can not truly model because of its fundamental nature.  There is nothing illogical about the action of a simple object.  However, since humans understand things by reducing them to their simpler components, there is an intrinsic limitation on our ability to explain the simplest existences. They can not be modeled in the same way we model everything else that is complex, and their actions must be accepted as first principles.

When scientists say that an electron absorbs and emits a photon, they do not actually mean it absorbs it. Taken literally, this implies parts and complexity which would contradict the definition of an electron as a fundamental particle.  Rather, it is a descriptive model for the action of an electron.  In order to describe fundamental particles at all, we have no choice but to use language that is in truth inapplicable, but conveys some sense to listener.

Despite the limitations of language for describing the model, we use it so we can have some working understanding of the action of an electron.  There is nothing illogical about this, but is rather something forced upon science when it tries to adapt language and concepts that were derived from the complex world of human experience to a new realm of fundamental physics.  As the great quantum physicists, Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, repeatedly said: Fundamental physics has no choice but to speak in the language of the common man.  We advise the reader to pause and think this abstract point through.

Based upon these considerations regarding fundamental existences, we can answer Weinberg's question.  The knowledge that we can have of the God of Abraham is the only type of knowledge that is logically possible of something fundamental: knowledge of the complexity that results from His actions, but not a simpler understanding of His Essence.  It is logically impossible to explain the Essence of that which is Ultimately Fundamental with something else.

It is senseless to ask to comprehend God's Essence by reduction to greater simplicity, and thereby understand how intelligent actions result from God's Absolutely Simple Essence.  This would be analogous to asking to understand what fundamental particles are made of, and how they produce fundamental interactions in terms of something simpler.  If they could be reduced to something simpler, they would no longer be fundamental.

God does actions which are similar to those done by complex entities. This does not imply that these actions can only be accomplished by complex entities. When done by God, however, we can not go any further than saying that He does the actions that produce specific results.  We can not explain how He does it by providing a model, but we nevertheless do not deny our observation that the universe is designed and ordered (and thereby posit an infinite chaotic multiverse).  We recognize that the actions of an Absolutely Simple Necessary Existence are fundamentally different from those of a complex existence, and we can understand why they can not be understood in terms of anything simpler.

While it is true that we do not know anything further about the Essence of the One Simple Necessarily Existence, we do know something about the universe He caused.  The proof from the fine tuning tells us something about the universe; that the laws, constants and initial conditions of the universe have a teleological explanation and are not the result of random chance.  Once we know this about the universe, we know that the Cause of the universe is intelligent as opposed to unintelligent.

The statement that the One Simple Necessary Existence is intelligent, is not positive knowledge of God's Essence; it is knowledge of the product of His actions.  It is based upon our scientific understanding of the universe that He caused.  If, after studying the universe, we came to the conclusion that it was full of infinite chaotic nonsense, we would say the god who made that universe was stupid.  In fact, the gods of the multiverse are very stupid and unintelligent gods.  The difference between saying that the One God of Abraham is intelligent, and the gods of the multiverse are stupid, is entirely based upon the fact that the one universe we observe is ordered and fine tuned.

All positive terms that we attribute to the God of Abraham, such as alive, intelligent, and powerful, are used to describe His actions.  Dead gods do not create universes.  Stupid gods make multiverses.  Impotent gods create about as much as dead gods, which is to say, nothing at all.  We have no recourse when speaking about the One Fundamental Existence, other than to use the language of the common man.  All the positive characteristics we attribute to the One Simple Necessary Existence are always descriptions of the complex products of His actions; or if you prefer, descriptions about the complex universe, which is identical with His actions.

Abraham's discovery was that ultimately, there must be an Absolutely Simple Existence which we can know only in terms of His actions and the complexity that is produced by His Simple Essence.  Abraham's God is the One Simple Necessary Existence which explains the ordered complex universe He caused, but whose Essence can not logically be reduced and further comprehended in terms of anything simpler.

44 comments:

  1. So you are begging the question of how can God have intelligence and be simple by saying that we intrinsically cannot know. When we say intelligent we are describing results of actions. But we actually cannot say that God is intelligent or stupid or anything else descriptive. That would be trying to describe his essence in terms of something else; which we cannot do.

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    1. By "begging" the question do you mean "answering" the question, because we've never quite heard it used that way.

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    2. I was discussing this question with someone earlier today and came up with a related idea.

      It is foolish to suggest that the One Simple Necessary Existence is ignorant, because the mark of ignorance is the inability to order something along the lines of a principle. Yet we see that the universe is unbelievably ordered and principled. So as you said, that's why we say He has "knowledge", because we look at what He caused and based on that ignorance is impossible.

      Great post, btw.

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    3. There actually is a definition to that term. From Wiki:

      "Begging the question (Latin petitio principii, "assuming the initial point") is a type of logical fallacy in which a proposition relies on an implicit premise within itself to establish the truth of that same proposition."

      However, I didn't mean it that way. I meant not answering the question directly.

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    4. Exactly, Rafi. You were saying something close in the previous post, but we thought it best to let others respond. We're glad you liked it.

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    5. Jeff,

      We are resolving the contradiction by undercutting its premise.

      Our basic answer is that the question is assuming intelligence is a description of God's Essence, when it is really a description of His actions. There is no contradiction by having a Simple Existence cause complex results. That is the very nature of all our scientific understanding.

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  2. We understand that there is a tension between current readers who want to have current conversations about older posts that other readers know about, and potential future readers who would benefit much more with questions and answers being in their appropriate posts.

    We recommend the following solution: post your comments or questions on the relevant older post, and leave a short second comment on the current post, referencing other readers to it.

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  3. I know this may be an abstract point, but how is it that God can produce something intelligent, yet intelligence is not part of his essence. Doesn't intelligent action stem from an intelligent being?

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    1. Yes. Intelligent actions stems from an intelligent being. That is why we call God "Intelligent". In fact, that is the only reason we are calling Him Intelligent; because of the intelligent actions He does.

      But we are explaining that the fact that we see Him do intelligent actions, does not give us the right to infer that His Essence is a big brain or a super computer.

      If your question is, "How does an Absolutely Simple Essence do intelligent actions?", then we can only respond that the question is not really sensible. We can't know how God does it any more than we can understand how one fundamental particle interacts with another.

      There comes a point where we can longer explain the "how" by further reduction. All we can say is that we observe that this Absolutely Simple Essence does in fact act very intelligently, and we therefore call Him an Intelligent Designer.

      While it is an abstract point, it is a very important point, so keep asking until it's clear.

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    2. I understand the point. Thanks.

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  4. One more question. Are you saying that it is intrinsically impossible to go any further with regards to knowledge of God's essence? Therefore, the only steps forward intellectually would be to analyze God via HIs actions. So greater advances in knowledge of metaphysics only come about through a study of God's actions and no more can be known of His essence other than he is absolutely simple and necessary?

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    1. Yes, it is intrinsically impossible to understand God's Essence in terms of anything simpler.

      And even those terms about His Essence (One Absolutely Simple Necessary Existence) are really forms of negative knowledge. One means there aren't two of these essences. Absolutely Simple means that It has no complexity whatsoever. Necessary means that there is no other cause for His Existence.

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  5. Thank you R&R for the new intro paragraph about the tension between current and future readers. I think you mean something more like caught up vs catching up readers, like myself. Will try to take your advice.

    I'm still having a problem with how to approach this series. I'm still back in Part 4, and decided to read Stenger's Fallacy book for myself. Thanks Jeff and Yaacov for the responses there (where's Dr_M?)

    I haven't even started reading Stage 3 yet. I don't see how I can catch up - maybe I should just skip and come here to where the current action is. But my doubts are still back in multiverse. And now there's the new Part 22.

    Just expressing my frustration.

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    1. Ron you may also want to read Ellis's short reply to stenger's The God Hypothesis
      http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/2007/may/01/case-not-proven

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  6. (This to some degree continues our discussion of perfect simplicity on post 19)

    While I cannot formalize the my objection at the moment, I’ll make an analogy with perfect compression (which is mathematically impossible - you can find a short proof searching for “perfect compression” here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lossless_data_compression). Compression is just another mechanism for abstraction: if you know the model (like a physical law) that produced your data, you can express it shorter.

    If the universe is as unusual as the fine-tuning implies, it cannot be summarized perfectly by something perfectly simple. I can understand complexity arising in parts of a chaotic universe (multiverse) - they are not claimed to have originated from something completely simple. Yes, this requires the universe to be big (most likely a multiverse) and we have to deal with some questions like the Boltzmann brains, etc., but at least I understand it.

    And yes, I understand and accept that we have cognitive limitations in our knowledge of reality, some completely insurmountable (e.g. there are true statements we can never prove, Goedel etc) and some perhaps too abstract for our brains to represent. But I do not accept that the universe can be abstracted into something completely simple. When I’m told that “god’s goal and his (rather complicated) plan for implementing the goal” are all “one thing”, my mind is screaming 3=1. I’m afraid your appeal to human limitations here just lowers the reader’s standard for clarity and makes them accept that which their mind would naturally reject.

    Now this is how I see your argument in light of the above. Basically, you’re not answering the question that bothers me and perhaps other readers, making the idea of “completely simple all-knowing being” impossible. What you are doing is putting your proof that some of the other readers accepted and putting it on the other side of the scale, saying “but we showed that such a thing *does* exist!” and merely addressing my objection by appealing to human cognitive limitations, making readers feel that they’re not *supposed* to have clarity in this area. To me personally the incoherence of the concept is much stronger than the proof that relies on “amazing specificity of constants”+”some uncommitted appeal to fine-tuning arguments” (by uncommitted I mean you’re unwilling to say what the fine-tuning is for other than “ordered universe”, which makes your claim impossible to measure). I think multiverse is a much more convincing answer, “scientists’ motivations” / Boltzmann brains objections notwithstanding.

    Dr_Manhattan

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    1. We think the reason for your difficulties has to do with misunderstanding the post. We are not saying that God is some ultimate Zip file. (It's kind of funny that you took it that way.) Everything is not a computer program. Try to think in other categories besides computer science.

      A good example for a simple theory that explains very complex phenomenon is QED, which we elaborated on in the post. Feynman explained how those few, simple rules explained the complex realm of chemistry and biology.

      He was not saying that QED is a great Zip file. It is not the perfect compression of chemistry into physics. You are making category errors by trying to conceive of everything in the universe exclusively through the language of computer science.

      Finally, we are very clear that we are not saying that humans have cognitive limitations and therefore can not reduce God to anything simpler. It is an intrinsic logical impossibly. We say this point again, and in a slightly different way in the first few paragraphs of the next post, so try reading that as it might help you understand your mistake.

      We've already dealt with your misunderstandings about fine tuning in our conversations on other posts. Try rereading those.

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    2. I think you misunderstood what I meant by "compression". As I said (right there) compression is an analogy to abstraction, and in fact finding the underlying model is a method of compression. As a matter of fact since at least one of you is mathematically literate you surely know that Shannon's "Information Theory" was based on his work with compression.

      Of course we can gain some compression by understanding the laws of nature, such as QED. But by your own argument which you described in Stage 1 even fine-tuning of the constants was not sufficient to create the complex universe as we see it - very specific initial configuration was required according to you. Setting the constants aside for the moment a specific configuration has irreducible complexity.

      In addition, just the very basic premise of teleology - having an external goal (whatever that goal is) = 1, having a plan to accomplish the goal = 2, and god himself = 3. Those are 3 separate things.

      "It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.". This is often requoted as "making things as simple as possible, but not simple" - A. Einstein.

      Dr_Manhattan



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    3. You said "While I cannot formalize the my objection at the moment, I’ll make an analogy with perfect compression".

      When you can actually formulate a coherent question, post it. Until then, analogizing God with a Zip file and then claiming 3=1 is simply another straw man argument.

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    4. Dr M - so do you understand the inherent limitations of the human mind or dont you? The concept of a Simple Necessary Existence is coherent, and it is rational that human intellect can only perceive what He caused and not He Himself. Why? Because there is nothing simpler by which to understand Him. You are the only one introducing "supposed to" or similar phrases. He is what He is, Similar to how laws of fundamental particles cause order He causes their order, He is the Foundation of all knowledge. Think of Him in terms of the concept of a Simple, Necessary Cause first, then you will see how it is coherent and it is incoherent to apply to Him terms related to the order He caused in an unequivocal fashion.

      In short, your questions in regard to anthropomorphic terms and the coherency of Absolute Unity have definitely been addressed and your persistance at this point indicates that you dont understand the concept of an Absolutely Simple Necessary Cause. You want the Primary Existence to be like the universe He caused which if you pause to think about it is absurd! Think into it again man! By definition they are of two different characters.

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    5. Dr_Manhattan's criticism is very reminiscent of the raavad's criticism in Hilchot Teshuva 5:5

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    6. We are doing something very different than the Rambam, and therefore the Raavad's critique on him is not applicable to what we're saying.

      The Rambam is trying to explain how God's knowledge does not preclude the possibility of free will. He explains it by saying that God's knowledge and Essence are identical, in so far as God is Absolutely Simple it makes no sense to attribute any complexity to His Essence. The Rambam then says that since we can't know God's Essence, we can't understand how He knows. Therefore, it's not a problem with free will. The Raavad critiques the Rambam for raising a question about free will which he can't fully explain.

      It seems to us that the Rambam and Raavad are speaking about how God's knowledge of particular events in a individual person's life (which is required for Divine Providence) does not preclude free will. Once again, we are not speaking about knowledge of particulars and Divine Providence.

      We are saying something entirely different than the Rambam. We are saying that God's intelligence is a description of His actions, not His Essence. The Rambam's theory of knowledge was based upon Aristotle's idea of the Active Intellect and his idea that even when man knows things, he becomes one with his knowledge.

      Frankly, we don't understand the Rambam's idea. Also, we are not trying to explain free will in the post. In these posts, we're not in discussing Divine Providence, or how God's knowledge of particulars allows for free will, or a dispute between the Rambam and Raavad.

      We also don't really understand Aristotle's theory of knowledge. Perhaps the idea still makes sense, or perhaps it is based on outdated Aristotelian metaphysics. Either way, we are not saying God's intelligence is one with His Essence, but are rather saying it means knowledge of His actions (i.e., the universe He created), which is something you can understand through scientific knowledge.

      Our approach for explaining what God's intelligence means is similar to how Saadyia Gaon (2:4 in Beliefs and Opinions) and Chovos Halvavos (Shaar Yichud in chapter 10) explain it. (The Rambam himself generally explains all positive attributes of God in this manner, which the Raavad never criticizes).

      We do not not think the Ravaad would have a problem with physicist's saying that you can't understand a fundamental particle or a fundamental interaction any further. This is a clear point every physicist understands.

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  7. Another problem with the teleological argument is the assumptions that you know “what god wants”. I suspect this is why you haven’t committed to a specific teleological goal, because then this assumptions would be readily challenged. But while you haven’t stated the goal you certainly implied one (“ordered universe” of some sort). This is sort of your neighbourhood mafia telling you “we’re not saying anything will happen to your store, or to your house, or to your dog, but you know, *bad things sometimes happen*” :). But even that is an assumption. How do you know god does not want to create fractals, or chaos, or anything else? If we really truly admit that we do not know, seeing an ordered universe seems no more evidence for god than seeing a disordered one.

    I’ll come back to reading god’s intentions, but I’ll take a little detour. Why is it so important to imbue the “basis of the universe” with “intelligence”, especially if it’s just a descriptive term, not at all related to the concept of intelligence we humans deal with day to day?
    I’ll be honest, I think the intention is very basic, of making god seem awesome. What if I call “that which causes actions that seem to be intentional” “arginous” (totally made up term), would that be satisfactory? I dare say not, because we think being smart is awesome, and “arginous” is just not awesome enough.


    To take this one step further, if we just look at the universe as it is and start reading in god’s intentions into it a very good argument can be made for god being a sadist. After all, he creates a universe with conscious intelligent beings in it who grow up, if they’re lucky have a some kids, then start to deteriorate physically and mentally, seeing their friends die, with rare exceptions become defenseless from abuse and useless to society, and end their lives drooling in a wheelchair listening to some blaring TV show. The mechanisms that lead to this sad state are built into nature. And... This is in our pampered country and century, where you on average do get 60 or 70 “good” years, at least in terms of health. If we move the clock couple of hundred years back, you’re very likely to see some of your children and or close family die (by something that’s now fixable with a pill or a little over-the-counter ointment, even if you’re the most powerful man in America http://www.answers.com/topic/how-did-calvin-coolidge-s-son-die ), and live on average to 45 years yourself.

    Move the clock a few millennia back and you will find yourself huddling in a cave, quite likely to see some of your family treated as food by a larger animal. And this is all part of nature!

    Are you willing to take your teleology that far, or is that too inconvenient?

    Note that I’m not making a direct “problem of evil” argument here, but pointing out that “judging god only by his intelligent actions” is a veiled emotional appeal to the our respect for intelligence, and 1) it loses much of it’s power if an invented word without the attached positive associations is used 2) a similar “judge by actions” argument can be used to create quite the unpleasant associations, and I do not think people appealing to god’s intelligence would be willing to bite the bullet and accept an inconveniently negative association, which is “read from the universe” in the same way that the posiitive one is.

    Dr_Manhattan

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    1. > If the universe is as unusual as the fine-tuning implies, it cannot be summarized perfectly by something perfectly simple.

      This is an extremely bold claim for which you, and anyone else in the world, have no proof. Aside from the difficulty the existence of electrons poses to its veracity.

      > To me personally the incoherence of the concept is much stronger than the proof that relies on “amazing specificity of constants”+”some uncommitted appeal to fine-tuning arguments” (by uncommitted I mean you’re unwilling to say what the fine-tuning is for other than “ordered universe”, which makes your claim impossible to measure). I think multiverse is a much more convincing answer, “scientists’ motivations” / Boltzmann brains objections notwithstanding.

      Then the proof is unconvincing to you. Unless you have an actual question though, the rest of us are basically just reading your lack of conviction.

      > Another problem with the teleological argument is the assumptions that you know “what god wants”. I suspect this is why you haven’t committed to a specific teleological goal, because then this assumptions would be readily challenged. But while you haven’t stated the goal you certainly implied one (“ordered universe” of some sort).

      This is an interesting question. You're assuming that a teleological claim requires an identified goal rather than merely an appreciation of order. I disagree with you, though. It is not necessary to identify "the goal" to teleologically determine a Designer.

      As an example we can return to the spaceship on Mars. We identify its order not because we know how it works or that it is used for space travel or where it is meant to go. We understand that it has a designer because it stands in contrast to natural chaos.

      It is not necessary teleologically to identify a goal to see the extremely high order contrasted to chaos. One needs merely to examine the low entropy - let alone moving on to the constants and multiple decimal points to which they are tuned.

      > I’ll be honest, I think the intention is very basic, of making god seem awesome. What if I call “that which causes actions that seem to be intentional” “arginous” (totally made up term), would that be satisfactory? I dare say not, because we think being smart is awesome, and “arginous” is just not awesome enough.

      Even entertaining the silliness of this argument, the meaning of words is what imbues them with "awesomeness". If "arginous" is the word you want for intelligence then (shockingly) it will be just as impressive as the word "intelligence". The "awesomeness" is that the act of intelligence is impressive.

      Regardless, intelligence is not being suggested to praise G. It's where the facts lead us.

      > To take this one step further, if we just look at the universe as it is and start reading in god’s intentions into it a very good argument can be made for god being a sadist.

      I suppose that all depends on whether or not you're a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty kinda guy. From the sounds of it you're looking at more of the downside. I could easily say back to you that the creation of the medication and the increase of Man's life show G's mercy. I'm not arguing that though, because very little is gained in this discussion by citing our personal interpretations of history.

      Try to focus on the science.

      Food for thought: If you are genuinely here for understanding and wish to have your "objections" resolved, I would recommend that you stop "objecting" and start asking questions instead. Nuanced distinction to be sure. But one worth recognizing.

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    2. Michael has an excellent response to you. We just want to add one point. We have said clearly many, many time that we are not interested in discussing Divine Providence, yet you persist in bring it up over and over. We are not claiming that humans are the exclusive purpose of all existence, and we are not claiming that God's purpose in creating the universe is to make you happy.

      It is clear to us that whenever you have lost the argument based upon science, you try to bring in good and evil. We are not making the claim that we are proving God only lets good things happen and prevents all evil. We are saying that He acts intelligently. What is relevant is the order, design, and fine tuning as they have been revealed by modern science.

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    3. > This is an extremely bold claim for which you, and anyone else in the world, have no proof. Aside from the difficulty the existence of electrons poses to its veracity.

      Michael, please see my response to R&R above. Also, electrons are not perfectly simple AND do not produce anything interestingly complex by themselves.

      > Then the proof is unconvincing to you. Unless you have an actual question though, the rest of us are basically just reading your lack of conviction.

      It was relevant to mention my unconviction here to show how it's affected by R&R's current direction of showing how something can be (impossibly IMO) simple.


      This is an interesting question. You're assuming that a teleological claim requires an identified goal rather than merely an appreciation of order. I disagree with you, though. It is not necessary to identify "the goal" to teleologically determine a Designer.

      > As an example we can return to the spaceship on Mars. We identify its order not because we know how it works or that it is used for space travel or where it is meant to go. We understand that it has a designer because it stands in contrast to natural chaos.

      Funny that you mention this :). Before the invention of spaceships this was known as the "watchmaker argument" and phrased exactly as here except spaceship=watch and Mars=desert. It was mostly used to "show god" from the "design" of living creatures, until Darwin came along... Most of the great complexity you see around you is still living creatures, explained incredibly well by the blind forces of evolution. So as far as the spaceship, I'm not going along for the ride.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    4. > We have said clearly many, many time that we are not interested in discussing Divine Providence, yet you persist in bring it up over and over. We are not claiming that humans are the exclusive purpose of all existence, and we are not claiming that God's purpose in creating the universe is to make you happy.

      And I said very clearly that I'm not making an argument from evil at this juncture. I was illustrating the fact teleology slippery unless you make some commitments, which you're frankly chicken to do IMO for the reasons I outlined above - it's presumptuous, and you'd be easily called on it.

      > It is clear to us that whenever you have lost the argument based upon science, you try to bring in good and evil.

      Let's not try to count our "winnings", shall we? I don't think either one of us in position to decide who won. Reality decides. I had a different purpose in bringing up the point (as stated above), so let's leave psychologysing aside.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    5. Our point is that God acts intelligently. If you want to wax on about how He acts like an evil genius you can find plenty of other places to discuss this. Our point is that he acts like a genius. Try to stick to the issues and not get distracted by how God relates to man in particular.

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    6. > In addition, just the very basic premise of teleology - having an external goal (whatever that goal is) = 1, having a plan to accomplish the goal = 2, and god himself = 3. Those are 3 separate things.

      This is exactly your misunderstanding of intelligently discussing the Necessary Simple Existence. I refer you back to REF/RAZ's electron analogy. An electron cannot "act" or "affect" other things in any intelligible way. Since they are perfectly simple their "actions" are done wholly differently than anything our minds can comprehend. We can study the effects and dub them certain titles but we cannot explain the action beyond stating its existence and charting the further effects. It is an epistemological limit. You are misapplying your inclination toward complexity when you ought be examining the order. If you can't understand this by electrons I am not surprised that it is confusing you here.

      > Michael, please see my response to R&R above. Also, electrons are not perfectly simple AND do not produce anything interestingly complex by themselves.

      The main point is that they interact with things, not create complexity (though they do that too). You should stay focused. Regardless, you have not addressed their simple existence and its ability to perform what we perceive to be complex actions. I'd refer you back to the blog post.

      > Funny that you mention this :). Before the invention of spaceships this was known as the "watchmaker argument" and phrased exactly as here except spaceship=watch and Mars=desert. It was mostly used to "show god" from the "design" of living creatures, until Darwin came along... Most of the great complexity you see around you is still living creatures, explained incredibly well by the blind forces of evolution. So as far as the spaceship, I'm not going along for the ride.

      I'm aware that it is a version of the watchmaker argument. Has identifying it as such actually addressed it? Perhaps it has in your mind, but, again, I see no question here to address.

      > And I said very clearly that I'm not making an argument from evil at this juncture. I was illustrating the fact teleology slippery unless you make some commitments, which you're frankly chicken to do IMO for the reasons I outlined above - it's presumptuous, and you'd be easily called on it.

      It's exactly this kind of baiting which is causing so much tension. In what was did you think labeling G a sadist would not provoke a reaction? REF/RAZ are not "chicken" they are presenting a logical proof of existence. Whether you realize it or not, you are absolutely bringing up arguments against G's Justice which is 100% irrelevant to the discussion.

      I am aware that you brought it up in reference to your teleological objection. But why didn't you ask "How can you claim teleological proof when you also claim motive to be incomprehensible to the complex mind?"

      You are stirring up trouble. I don't know if you're aware of it and I don't really care but when you start insulting the authors personally and repeatedly state your opinion without any actual question you are not contributing in any way.

      Finally, you haven't addressed any of my answers to you. Am I correct in understanding that they have therefore resolved your "objections" and we are all on the same page? Or are you perhaps ignoring them and going to reassert the very same questions in a few days, pretending that they have not yet been addressed?


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    7. The specific teleology was stated clearly in post 3:
      "We want to make it clear that we are not saying that the constants of nature were set for human existence exclusively (as the terminology 'anthropic principle' implies). On the contrary, we believe that man should draw a very different conclusion about a human being's significance in the vast cosmos. (We will develop this idea more in a later post.) Rather, we are arguing that the constants were fine tuned to produce all the myriads of wonderous creations in the cosmos on all orders of magnitude, i.e. galaxies, nebulae, stars, quasars, pulsars, solar systems, planets, carbon based DNA, the possibility of non-carbon based life, intelligence, molecules, atoms, etc."
      and a few paragraphs later:
      "Similarly, the reason why the constants and the laws are designed the way they are, is in order for the universe to result from them. "

      In other words, the goal is existence.

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    8. This is Ron Wadiz. I'm saying that because I see that my and some of the other commentor's names (including R&R's) are not always in the dateline anymore. Why is that? Is it my computer?

      Although I'm still stuck back in Part 4, I decided that I had to jump ahead and be a little more current. I am very confused by this Part, after a 1st reading. Do I need to go back to the beginning of Stage 3, Part 18?

      Dr_M - I'm very glad that you're continuing to be the antagonist here - somebody should! (not saying who's right in the debate yet).

      I'm just wondering: are you arguing now as if you accept R&R's proof against the Multiverse, and just arguing about what kind of God they must be talking about? This must be, otherwise there's no point arguing about what God is if you don't accept that God is.

      Just trying to sound as confusing as all of you guys! : D

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    9. Hey Ron. What I'm saying (whether I'm right or not) is that they're using unconvincing arguments to prove the impossible, and patching up the impossibility by appeal to human cognitive limitations.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    10. Why don't you reply directly to the argument instead of making up excuses in your mind for "what they're doing"?

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    11. Dr_manhattan
      as others have mentioned, you are rehashing old points:
      Your question about the goal of the design is answered on post 3 and your point from evil is therefore irrelevant.
      The difference between the classical watch argument and the argument from constants was already explained and discussed in posts 7 and 8.
      Please follow RAZ/REF's request to review those posts and to address questions about old posts, on those posts.

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    12. Ron Wadiz (I still don't see my name)

      DM - Why is God "impossible"? If you really think so and/or it really is so, then why challenge any of their arguments? What could they say, if anything, to bring God into the realm of possibility?

      Also, do you think that, even if their MV proof would convince you, the providential Problem of Evil itself would show that that proved God doesn't exist after all?

      Maybe God is the result of one of those 10^whatever quantum fluxes - but then it would be prior to Him, so he still wouldn't be Tri Omni God (TOG?). And then, He would anyway be fluxed in more than once (infinite # of times?)

      10^Aaaargh!!

      I know it's a lot to ask, but maybe you could summarize and list your main criticisms of R&Rs Rguments (read "arguments"). Maybe you could do that in the Stage summaries for 1 and 2, and in individual 3's. It would surely help me at least.

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    13. Ron Wadiz.

      An idea for R&R. Can you do a reader survey here? Do you know how many unique readers you have, and how many of those are regulars, reading more than just once or twice? I'm curious what people are thinking - are they being persuaded by you or by Dr.M? Maybe use categories like this (in descending order of belief): This series -

      1. Confirms my belief in God
      2. Challenges my belief in God
      3. I (still) don't know
      4. Challenges my disbelief in God
      5. Confirms my disbelief in God

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    14. We see your name title above the comment, Ron. It must be something wrong with your computer.

      We think you are making an excellent suggestion about using the summary posts (6 and 17) to list any unresolved problems a person has with the proof that is pertinent to a respective stage, especially for questions that are more general than any particular post.

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    15. Ron, have you read this post (and the earlier posts in part 3)?
      To suggest that god is a quantum flux is missing the fundamental meaning of God (One Simple Necessary Existence). A quantum flux is not Necessary nor is it absolutely One. Anything which has something prior to it cannot be God. Anything physical cannot be God. Also, thinking about the 3 'omnis' is confusing at this stage, we must be careful to understand what they mean (for example omnipotent does not mean can do anything, but rather can do the possible, a confusion which has mislead many people), but whatever they mean has no direct bearing on the basic idea of the Necessary Existence.
      This idea is very abstract , please think it through carefully.

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    16. The reason we don't think a vote on God's Existence is productive is because the objective of these posts is to give a person the knowledge which enables them to make an honest decision using their own mind.

      You should not be swayed by everyone in the world believing in the God of Abraham, nor by them disbelieving. You need to evaluate the evidence and arguments yourself.

      In addition, a vote by unidentified people that is not justified by arguments has no value in any way at all. How would you know that crazy religious people of crazy atheists didn't "stuff the ballot box"?

      We think a much better method of including other people's thought process in your decision making is by reading their points of substance, and using that to guide your mind to a conclusion that makes rational sense to you.

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  8. Ron:

    It would be helpful to start from the beginning of Part 3. I think that would help you to understand this post

    Also, I see your name coming up; don't know what your issue is...

    As for Dr_M, while it is helpful for someone to question and challenge, the problem, as Michael pointed out, is that he does not have any specific questions on the points outlined by the authors. It appears that he is just an antagonist for antagonists sake and not for the sake of clarification.

    Either way, it is fine. I don't get the sense that anyone here cares much one way or the other.

    On the other hand, although you have questions, yours appear to be well founded. They have helped me to think further about some of the issues you raised and to further my understanding of the issues. Dr_M seems to be falling back on the same arguments that have been addressed multiple time, but I'll let you be the judge. Again, always welcome your comments

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    1. Ron Wadiz. Jeff, it seems to me, amongst all of the extensive commenting that DM has done here, that there must be SOME specific questions for clarification's sake! And where it's clear to him and he just disagrees, then those are the antagonistic parts.

      And you think nobody cares about that? Just like to see people fighting it out for nothing?

      I hope mine are well founded, although I admit that the foundation of much of them is unfortunate ignorance.

      So, starting the survey, where are you holding - belief confirmed?

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    2. What I meant was is that the people here are genuinely trying to understand the ideas proposed by the authors. While at times DM did have some specific questions for clarification, at this point, he keeps rehashing the same points that have been addressed multiple times. Antagonism just for the sake of being an antagonist makes no sense -- it doesn't add to anyone's knowledge, DM or otherwise. If he wants to continue doing so for no benficial purpose, then so be it.

      Finally, not sure I get the point of the survey questions you posed.

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  9. Ron Wadiz. About the survey - maybe add more "fine-tuned" categories, such as:

    1. Confirms my belief in God
    2. Mildly challenges my belief in God
    2. Strongly challenges my belief in God
    3. I (still) don't know
    4. Strongly challenges my disbelief in God
    4. Mildly challenges my disbelief in God
    5. Confirms my disbelief in God

    Maybe replace "Mildly" with "Somewhat".

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  10. A thought that I did not see discussed in the blog is the possibility that the multiverse and ID both coexist. I.e. According to a God-fearing person, ID, as mentioned, rather than just declaring “Poof, here is Man,” may have facilitated evolution by a natural mechanism that took millions of years. Similarly, ID, rather than just saying “Poof” to create a Big Bang that consisted of fine-tuned constants and special physical laws in a single universe, may have created the universe, as in evolution, through a more natural mechanism of probabilities, by using a multiverse. It may be premature to say “… the gods of the multiverse are very stupid and unintelligent gods” when a multiverse might actually be God’s work.

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    1. Interesting question. We considered the possibility, but our thoughts are as follows:

      Random chance and infinite tries is not an intelligent mechanism for creating anything; rather it is an unintelligent mechanism that creates everything (an infinite number of times).

      For example, the explanation for chickens provided by the theory of evolution (random mutations plus natural selection) is a very intelligent mechanism that God used to create life. If however, someone were to posit that we live in an infinite multiverse which necessarily fluctuates chickens (as well as every other possible combination of particles), that would constitute a very unintelligent explanation of life and would not be called ID but rather UD (unintelligent design). Such a theory would not need evolution at all. Hence, our statement that "the gods of the multiverse are very stupid and unintelligent gods”.

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