Friday, February 25, 2011

There Cannot Not Be a God

garden of the gods

I have a standard sort of God argument that I used to make all the time. It began as an version of the cosmological argument and I called "cosmological necessity."

(1) The Universe is contingent upon "prior" conditions (conditions that existed "prior" to our understanding of space/time:

(a) Prior condition being space/time, or gravitational field.

Matter, energy, all physical phenomena stem from 'gravitational field' the prior condition of which is he big bang, the prior condition of which is the singularity, the prior condition of which is...we do not know.

(b)All naturalistic phenomena are empirically derived, thus they are contingent by their very nature.

"There is not a shred of evidence that the universe is logically necessary. Indeed, as a theoretical physicist I find it rather easy to imagine alternative universes that are logically consistent, and therefore equal contenders for reality." First Things: Physics and the Mind of God: The Templeton Prize Address (1999)

(2) By definition the "ultimate" origin cannot be contingent, since it would reuqire the explaination of still prior conditions (a string of infinite contingencies with no necessity is logical nonsense;the existence of contingent conditions requires the existence of necessary conditions).

(3) Therefore, the universe must have emerged from some prior condition which always existed, is self sufficient, and not dependent upon anything "higher."

(4) Naturalistic assumptions of determinism, and the arbitrary nature of naturalistic cosmology creates an arbitrary necessity; if the UEO has to produce existents automatically and/or deterministically due to naturalistic forces, the congtingencies function as necessities

(5) Therefore, since arbitrary necessities are impossible by nature of their absurdity, thus we should attribute creation to an act of the will; the eternal existent must be possessed of some ability to create at will; and thus must possess will.


(6) An eternal existent which creates all things and chooses to do so is compatible with the definition of "God" found in any major world religion, and therefore, can be regarded as God. Thus God must exist QED!

Over time it began slowing to run together with the Tillich idea of begin itself and I began to argue it quite differently form a cosmological argument. Then when I began to take Tillich's views on the cosmological argument seriously (he didn't like it) I sort of slipped over the line and turned it into another argument I was already making about Tillich. So now it became this:

Argument: Based loosely upon Tillich's ideas. He never advanced argument like this.

(1) For many people, the “sense of the numinous” evokes feelings of religious devotion. [Premise 1]

(2) For [some of(?)] those people, this “sense of the numinous” results from a perception of the juxtaposition of the finite nature of ourselves and the infinite nature of the universe, and contemplation of the “special nature of being” which is rationally inferred on the basis of these perceptions. [Premise 2]

(3) This “special nature of being” refers to the necessary existence of a “ground of all being” or “being itself” as the basis of reality. [Premise 3]

(4) These perceptions and the inferred “special nature of being” meet our criteria of epistemic judgment. [Premise 4]

(5) If certain perceptions or inferences meet our criteria of epistemic judgment, then it is rationally warranted to conclude that the perceptions, and that which is inferred on their basis, accurately represents the nature of reality. [Premise 5]

(6) For many people, feelings of religious devotion are evoked by that which results from contemplation of the “ground of all being” or “being itself” as the basis of all reality, which they are rationally warranted in taking to accurately represent the nature of reality. [From 1~5]

(7) For these people, the “ground of being” or “being itself” is itself the object or source of the evoked feelings of religious devotion. [Premise 6]

(8) Whatever is the object or source of feelings of religious devotion can be reasonably defined as “God”. [Premise 7]

(9) There are people who are rationally warranted in concluding that reality contains as its basis that which we can reasonably call "God".
[Conclusion, from 6, 7, & 8]

If the reader would care to notice the real difference in these two is that the first one connects to God through concept of explaining the eternal nature of existence and the distinction between naturalistic (temporal, consent) being and 'the divine' (known by it's ontologically necessary nature). The second one turns upon and connects to God through the nature of the eternal and the way that triggers the religious nature of humans. There's an implied syllogism here.

Only God is a fit object of worship

Whatever evokes the sense of the numinous must be a fit object of worship becuase worship is a response to the sense of the numinous.

Eternal necessary being triggers the sense of numinous, thus it must be a fit object of worship, therefore, it must be divine (becuase only the divine is a fit object of worship).

the corollary: Only God is divine, therefore, if eternal necessary being is divine, Eternal necessary being must be God.
Atheists have responded to this, (the whole thing but mainly the newer version) by saying "you are just things are the way they are"). That's a clumsy way to put it. It's easy to dismiss in that form becuase I usually just say "that's because the way things are is that God must be." They see as circular becuase they don't get the implied steps in the syllogism. I've made them explicit now and then but the point is not to carp about atheist understanding, after it's also very likely that's my inability to communicate.

I got to thinking, that answer to the issue assumes they put the argument in a clumsy way. What if they put argument in an adroit way. Would be able to answering it? I always did have this realization in the back of my mind, if they ever got serious about answering that aspect of it it might be hard to come back on it. I decided to make the best argument I could on their behalf. That would be this, not to make a straw man argument to really try and challenge myself. That's how one blocks out arguments, it's making straw man because you don't claim "this is really their argument," just a "what if they said this what would I say?"

The what if I see out there no one has put this way but, what if they said, "suppose this eteranl necessary aspect of being did not evoke the numinous, suppose it had nothing special about it but was "naturalistic," how else could it be but eternal and necessary?" In other words isn't the real difference between my concept of God and their concept of naturalism just an attitude one takes toward nature? That's tricky because if they put that tag on it "an attitude toward nature" then it's easy to get out of. I can say "no" because I'm not thinking of "nature" which is anything form rocks and trees to the laws of physics, but "being itself" which is literally the raw nature of what it means to be whatever you are, rocks, trees, gold fish, laws of physics, or whatever. It's not nature that I'm expounding but the eternal necessary aspect of Being.

So the hypothetical atheist needs to refine his work. He needs say "isn't the difference in their view, which is naturalistic, and my view, that is "religious" just a matter of attitude toward what it means to be? All I'm doing is doubing an aspect of nature as "a special form of being" because it makes me feel a certain way? If that's the argument, one must ask "what real negating power does it hold over the argument?" It reduces the sense of the numinous to the atheist ideology and declarers victory becuase it refuses to take seriously the ultimate transfomrative power of religion. Yet that an arbitrary gain saying of an attitude that differs from their own.

Of course by this time the real atheists reading this will be saying "it's more than just disagreement about how to approach being, it's a matter of God not being real, God being a big sky man unicorn what have you." Those who say that are not tumbling to the fact that when I say "God" and they say "God" we mean two totally different things. My idea of God is an aspect of being that is eternal and necessary, it need NOT be viewed as a father figure, it is not a big man in the sky, it doesn't have a white beard or sit on a literal throne. Atheists always get angry here and demand that stop this nonsense, everyone knows that religious people believe in a big man in the sky and God has to be that or it's not God. They often reveal the most bizarre assumption that popularity makes right by demanding that since the majority of theists believe God is a big man (which is a gross oversimplification) then of course that's the only way to be a Christian. If you beileve in God you must believe popularity makes right. Yet they are atheists. Surely they know they are in the minority? Although I've seen some rationalize their way around that in shameless and idiotic fashion. The most appealing one was a guy who tried to narrow liberal theology down to just me. I'm a minority of one so there are more atheists than there are any particular branch of Christianity (to pull that off he had to declare that Hindus are atheists--then all polytheists are atheists).

I don't even wont to dignify such philosophical clowning with an answer.In a sense the hypothetical atheist is right, the actual atheist is wrong. The hypothetical one is righ tin that the argument is really a matter of the attitude one takes toward begin in a certain sense. The actual atheist is wrong in thinking that the impersonal view of God cannot be considered a valid theological view point even from a Christian perspective. Process theology has been taken in by liberal Christianity. That is not to say that I agree with such a view. I think God is the source of consciousness and is conscious, although in a way that is beyond our understanding. There's no point in trying to draw an analogy between God and biological life, but that's another issue. The point is this "impersonal" ground of understanding sort process notion of God is my default assumption, that is it's the basic level one needs to call it "God."

The better question would be to ask, what would the situation with being look like without God? Since we can expect a naturalistic universe to also be laden with eternal necessary being, under that means, by the default described above, there can't fail to be a God as long as anything at all exists. It's the total victory of God over any doubt that this situation musters, I am sure, that cause complete ire on the part of atheists. So what would things be like if there were not God? Just becuase the conditions can't obtain logically doesn't mean that such conditions as one might suggest would not be the negation of the God concept. For example, if the world sprang up out of nothing for no reason, even though logically we should assume that can't happen, that would be a condition such that were it proved to have been the case might indicate no God. That's too easy because we could still say it's the product of God. The problem with having nothing that could count against belief is that it means there's nothing counts for it either.

The criteria do exist, however, to falsify belief in the Tillichian concept of God as being itself. The major one would be if being has no depth. If being is merely surface level and the surface nature of being were transparent. It's the depth aspect of being that creates the situation in which we can have faith. What would a "shallow" universe be like? For one thing the nature of the eternal would not trigger the sense of numinous. In fact we might well posit there would be no sense of the numinous. I'm bracketing the issues brain chemistry for now, that doesn't mean we can't discuss them. I feel I should point that the situation is not anywhere near the "done deal" that atheists thin it is, vis brain chemistry and religious experience. If being had no depth it would be a done deal. There would be no recourse and no hard problem of consciousness. So a world without God would probably be a world of philosophical zombies. A Philosophical Zombie is David Chalmer's* hypothetical concept for getting across the idea of the hard problem. Unlike their Hollywood counter parts, the philosophical variety don't. Wonder about with too much make up and holding their arms in front of them with a glassy stare, they just don't have the sorts of inner feelings we do. Other than that you can't tell them from ordinary people.

Non falsifiability is the concept we are working here, the idea that if there are no circumstances under which something can be proved false then it can't be proved either. That concept is only applicable to the empirical side of proof. It doesn't apply to arguments that are subjective nd personal anyway,such as existentially based arguments. It doesn't apply to deductive reasoning either such as the ontological argument. So, while the argument I am discussing has some falsifiable aspects, it doesn't really need them. It's not a proof it's a ratioanl for personal assurance, or rational warrant perhaps. When Atheists say "there's no proof for your God" I say "I have something better than proof." The sort of deep knowledge (personal assurance) that the phenomenological/existential approach offers, when it's real and it's life changing, is much stronger and more reliable also less demonstrable than empirical scientific proof. I'm sure that in itself is a proposition that gals atheists becuase it flays in the face of their God substitute, their own er zots science. The actual situation is there can't not be a God. Being has to be eternal and necessary and grounded and God is the eternal and necessary ground of being.

*I don't know if he invented them, but he uses the concept and made it famous. Chalmers loves to clown and in a hilarious spoof sings a little Jazz beat tune about "Zombie Blues" on You tube. this is Chamlers himself.


Miles said...

Still can't get over that. Thanks for the Youtube Link

tinythinker said...

Is it necessary that God can choose to create/not create?

Metacrock said...

Is it necessary that God can choose to create/not create?

It's necessary that he can choose yes. I just got through with arguing Emuse (Darth Pringle) about this and put it on atheist watch. Spacemonkey agreed with me (atheist who knows modal logic).

I connected it to E.Orthodox distinction between God's energies (immanent) and his essence (transcendent).

Monkey connected it to Leibnitz understanding of accidents. In either case it says God's actions are not necessary just because God himself is necessary.