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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Mon Apr 28, 2008 8:00 pm

In my recent dialogues with Atheists, one general theme seems to always underly any particular arguments. The world is imperfect, absurd, and contingent, hence no signs of creation by a perfect, intentional, designer. Even some Deists seem to be resigned to the irony of an absurd creation. So, just for the sake of discussion, I ask:
What is the Deist answer to Absurdity?



As I understand it:

Theists have faith that God will ultimately resolve the absurdity of Evil in a perfectly-designed world, corrupted by the free choice of imperfect creatures. Hence, we are to blame.

Atheists see no reason to expect any resolution to the inherent absurdity of a pointless, accidental, meaningless existence. Hence, random contingency is to blame.

Deists don't have the option of faith in promissory notes from an unseen God. So how do they reconcile the presence of Evil and the absence of Justice with their hypothesis of a teleological Designer? Can we blame God for the apparent pointlessness of existence?



Related questions:


Is the Deity a Utilitarian? A moral pragmatist?

Does a teleological end justify the absurd means?

Should we expect something better from a Creator?

How can we explain the "benign indifference of the universe"? ( Camus)

Do Deists follow the example of Job, blessing God despite His injustice?
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Mon Apr 28, 2008 8:15 pm

I view evil and injustice as human creations that are a result of a dualistic world.

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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Mon Apr 28, 2008 8:38 pm

Personally I think the answer to your question lies in rejecting purposeful creation and accepting that the world is a mere epiphenomenon of that which we call God. The only purpose then is that which we make for ourselves.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:24 pm

Personally, I look at the world as a work in progress. From the beginning of our universe until now there has been a great amount of progress in the form of complexity that has arisen. Certainly it is not perfect at this time but progression is occuring and we are involved in that progression. In this view, God is not a being that exists outside the universe and can intervene but rather is something that is generally incomprehensible to us that exists both outside existence (the totality of God) and at the same time exists within existence (the essence of God) as the creative process (ie: cosmic evolution and biological evolution).

What we see as destructive that comes from natural disasters are part of the process that brings about this complexity. A Super Nova is highly destructive but yields many of the elements from the periodic table.

Human evil is our fault and responsibility. We come from the creative process of the universe (which is the essence of God to me) and as such we not only have it within us but we can tap into it as well. Unfortunately, we can use this creativity to better ourselves and bring about greater complexity or we can use it to destroy ourselves and bring about the opposite.

A criticism of this view could be that God does not care about us and should be helping us. However, that puts forth an human god that tends to take on dimensions such as omnipotence and omnibenevolence. However, my view of God transcends these concepts so a God that would intervene makes no sense. It is not a matter of God caring or not caring but that it makes no sense to state that God does either as those are human characteristics that don't apply to God.

I think one of the main problems is human arrogance in all of this. Theists believe that we are the center of the universe and we get all of Gods attention. Atheists (even though they deny it) place us at the center and then state that there must not be a God because of destructiveness and evil in the world. However, I don't believe that we are the center of the universe but are part of the process of complexity that is on-going and as such we have the ability to create and bring about complexity as well.

In this view, we are not the center but we are important along with everything else but we humans need to quit putting us on a pedestal and then make arguments from the pedestal.

Joe

Addendum: I need to add something else to my beliefs here. Absurdity is an odd choice as I see it because the universe is based on symmetry. Without symmetry nothing would exist and certainly not life. This symmetry and creative process are the reason anything at all exists rather than just a universe of particles and energy.

Now, I know that some will argue that it is absurd because of how life comes about and how it survives. However, when an animal eats a plant it is not just destroying but the waste is in turn used by plants to grow. Thus you have symmetry.

A powerful storm can be destructive but it also can help with plant and animal diversity by moving around living things to other areas.

Human evil is absurd but that is out doing and not God's and as I stated above we should stay away from the pedestal.

Some might say that the universe is growing in complexity but that in a 100 trillion years in the future it will be anything but. First, we really have no idea what will occur by that time and second we are putting out universe on the pedestal when there may be an infinite number of universes with different laws and life.

Finally, one may ask why I would worship such a non-human God and the answer is simple, I don't. I have awe and reverence towards God. I exist because of the essence of God within the universe which is symmetry and the creative process. It is through this that I can experience life in all its manifestations and in turn experience God.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Thu May 01, 2008 10:48 pm

Thank You Joe for that creative expression.

"I exist because of the essence of God within the universe ..."

I am curious . . . do you exist and in turn experience God strictly because of the essence of God within the universe ? or do you also feel that essence within yourself ? Is it possible to feel a personal connection to a God of that magnitude?

Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Fri May 02, 2008 9:15 am

Chattan wrote:
Addendum: I need to add something else to my beliefs here. Absurdity is an odd choice as I see it because the universe is based on symmetry. Without symmetry nothing would exist and certainly not life. This symmetry and creative process are the reason anything at all exists rather than just a universe of particles and energy.

Yes, I think this idea is embodied well in the idea of dialectics (such as yin and yang for example Yin Yang ). In other words, manifestation has a polar or dialectical nature that is expressed through dualisms like life and death, evil and good, up and down, etc... Without such dualisms, not only life, but nothing else could exist.

Chattan wrote:
Finally, one may ask why I would worship such a non-human God and the answer is simple, I don't. I have awe and reverence towards God. I exist because of the essence of God within the universe which is symmetry and the creative process. It is through this that I can experience life in all its manifestations and in turn experience God.

Yes, very well said Joe. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Fri May 02, 2008 5:25 pm

Bill asked:

Quote :
I am curious . . . do you exist and in turn experience God strictly because of the essence of God within the universe ? or do you also feel that essence within yourself ? Is it possible to feel a personal connection to a God of that magnitude?

No and Yes (I hate when people do this and here I am doing it).

Let me put in into some different words which may help to explain my beliefs better.

The true nature of God is what is outside of the universe and we are not capable of seeing or understanding this aspect of God. Unfortunately, this aspect of God is the true nature of God which is why I state that God is basically unknowable to us (at least right now).

We will call this the Unimanifest aspect of God.

The aspect of God that is within the universe is what I was calling the essence of God. This is the symmetry that exists in our universe. The reason there is existence at all is because how the universe has symmetry in it. Otherwise, certain parts would have greater influence than other parts and not only could life not exist but neither could the most basic building blocks of existence. It is the symmetry and the creative process (ie: cosmic and biological evolution) that arises from the symmetry that brings about the universe.

We will call this the Manifest aspect of God.

The manifest aspect of God which I call the essence of God is the creative process that is on-going since the Big Bang occured. Even though it is a very slow process it has led to the creation of the cosmos and in turn the very planet that we are living on now. It also brought about life as we know it including we humans (ie: Darwinian Evolution based on natural selection).

Now to your questions:

Quote :
do you exist and in turn experience God strictly because of the essence of God within the universe?

I believe that we exist because of this process as without it there would be no life so the answer to the first part of the question is yes.

In regards to the second part, the answer is no because we experience God because of the manifest aspect but we also have the ability to expand our consciousness beyond the confines of our existence and experience the unmanifest aspect of God as well (ie: look up info on the transcendental experience).

Quote :
or do you also feel that essence within yourself ?

Most definitely yes. Not only do we exist because of the creative process but we also have the process within us all the way down to our gray matter. Humans can be incredibly creative in positive ways that can be artistically pleasing but also humanitarian in nature as well. So, the essence of God is all around us and within us (sorry to get all Star Warsy on you).

Quote :
Is it possible to feel a personal connection to a God of that magnitude?

I usually have to say Yse and No to this one as well. The spiritual experience is completely personal and private but the connection we feel to the essence of God and to the totality of God is shared by all humans and be all existence. Yet, for humans a personal relationship (ie: connection) that we are able to experience is usually a two way street in which both participants share some sort of emotional connection. As your question puts forth, the magnitude of God is far beyond us and our existence and when we do experience it is only like looking through darkened glass in which the other side is very blurred and incomprehensible.

It must be remembered that God is not some human like being that thinks and acts like we humans but transcends these characteristics. Without those characteristics and the limits of human language we run into a major problem in trying to truly understand what God is.

When some hear my beliefs they jump in and state that the essence of God means that God is doing everything in the universe. However, anybody that has studied a little science knows that the creative processes that bring about existence and life are the basis for existence while existence itself has a certain degree of autonomy and emerges from these processes.

So, there you have it, those are my answers to your questions. I hoped that helped to clarify but if you have more questions than please ask away.

Joe
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Sat May 03, 2008 6:44 pm

I appreciate your candid and detailed response, Joe.

Let's consider, for a moment, the "transcendental" experiences you quickly referred to. They are forms of communication and experience from one realm to another. Many quickly assume that if such experiences occur, they must be experiencing God. IMHO all realms, seen or unseen, are "Manifest" and not "Unmanifest". Most would agree that there is the same symmetry in the spirit realm as there is in this physical realm. Fear vs. Love, Government of deception vs. Government of Divinity, Satan vs. Christ, etc. The "Unmanifest" is not a descriptive realm mainly because it is not a realm dependent upon supporting contrasts for balance. All symetry contrasts are Manifest and thus initiated BY Unmnaifest. The only way we can describe or experience anything is via comparison, or contrast.

"...for humans a personal relationship (ie: connection) that we are able to experience is usually a two way street in which both participants share some sort of emotional connection. "

I contend that an emotional connection can only occur on an emotional level, a spiritual connection can only occur on a spiritual level, an unmanifest connection can only happen on an unmanifest level. That third "level" is actually beyond levels and can only truly occur when an individual transcends individuality and dissolves into Unmanifest. Neither the physical aspects nor any of the spiritual aspects of individuality can accept such a dissolved state.

The "warm and fuzzy" feelings of spirituality are actually encouragements from (Light) realms higher than previously experienced, while the "discouraging" feelings of spirituality are actually discouragments from (dark) realms higher than previously experienced.

Soooo ALL of the valid transcendental experiences are merely tapping into higher realms of manifest, positive or negative.

I so agree that worship and praise can only apply to the manifest realms and not the unmanifest. There is a place for that but with understanding. Gratitude, however, is a self perpetuating exercise of personal pure positive progression that I highly recommend.

I appreciate the opportunity to share.

Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Sat May 03, 2008 9:40 pm

Cowboy wrote:
Soooo ALL of the valid transcendental experiences are merely tapping into higher realms of manifest, positive or negative.

I agree.

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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Sun May 04, 2008 4:58 pm

THE DEIST ANSWER TO ABSURDITY

Absurd: [AB – from; SURD – deaf; i.e. jibber-jabber.]
Ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous; having no rational or orderly relationship to human life - meaningless; lacking order or value. An absurd belief does not follow from the evidence.


Atheists, Existentialists, Nihilists, and Absurdists (and perhaps some Deists) are all in agreement that the universe is a meandering series of random events (like a pinball game) with no ultimate goal, no essential meaning, and no final standard of value. In other words, the world we live in is “whack”; and there's no omnipotent outside "player" to influence the random destiny of the god-forsaken ball ("tilt"). To the nogodists, asking for ultimate meaning in a non-teleological world is akin to asking the absurd question "which way is up" in outer space. Hence it seems to them that we are all floating in the directionless darkness of space with no light to guide us, and no particular place to go.

However, except for the Nihilists, they all believe that---urged by some unfathomable sentiment---humans seem to need meaning and values to give structure to their otherwise amoeboid lives. So they advise people to create-from-scratch whatever meaning seems good to them, individually and collectively. Despite the essential absurdity of life then, almost all “–ists” believe that the "search for meaning", like the "pursuit of happiness", is necessary in order to live an "authentic", fulfilled human life. That’s why most ordinary people, without prompting from gods or patronizing advice from Existentialists, do try to create their own personalized mission statement. But because creativity is hard, and it’s a daunting task to reinvent-the-wheel-of-fortune, they also tend to base their self-definition upon the tried-and-true traditions handed-down from predecessors---most of which begin-and-end with some kind of divine definition.

Hence, an embarrassing-but-undeniable majority of humans have traditionally looked to their gods to provide the ultimate foundation and direction for the meaning of their petty lives. But Existentialists view such abject dependence on deity, tradition, and hierarchy as ridiculous and absurd, because---in the existential worldview---the absolute meaning we seek "out there" does not exist. For Exies, who deny the essential meaning of intentional creation, the highest kind of meaning we can hope for is the conventional meaning of human cultures. "Thou shalt not kill", for example, is a general rule most of us agree on---regardless of religion---but interpret in various ways for specific applications. So it’s true that malleable cultural conventions, sometimes masquerading as divine revelations, have provided a semblance of universal meaning and direction, in the absence of actual absolute Truths.

And yet, pragmatic physical scientists routinely use both conventionally-defined and essentially-defined values in their work. Most of their norms, standards, definitions, numerical values, and scales of measurement are set, not by necessity, but by custom, or by mutual agreement, or by averaging samples. Even so, some idealistic scientists still strive to find values that are set, not by brokered convention, but by the mandate of nature. They are never satisfied with "Standard Interpretations", but look for reliable data that do not require compromised consensus. Such natural "Laws" and constants are few in number, but when confirmed by replicated tests or mathematical proofs, they are considered to be absolute, eternal, and comprehensive. For example, the speed of light is an invariant limit to which all other motion is relative. Is it absurd then for empirical scientists to believe---based on such skimpy evidence---in universal order and absolute laws of Nature?

In a similar manner, Deists choose to view Natural Laws as divine mandates---essential facts of reality. Some things are the way they are because they cannot logically be any other way. If this world is the creation of an intelligent lawgiver, or even of a non-sentient principle, some things in this world are indeed absolute, final, end-of-discussion. So like the scientists, we can use these non-negotiable facts-of-life as the firm foundation for our man-made edifice of meaning and value. We may not know what the ultimate purpose of life is, but we can rest assured that whatever it is, it is rational and meaningful. And the immovable foundation, the invariant background, the eternal verity that defines reality is what we, sometimes reluctantly, call God.


PS---Deists have been forced to believe in some kind of deity by the absurdity of the alternative.

The irony of absurdity is that the concept of irrationality was deduced by human reason, following universal rules of Logic. Are those laws-of-thought something that arose by accident? Is the rational structure of science an artifact of human convention? Did random evolution stochastically stumble upon a workable system of mental order? Can order spontaneously emerge from disorder? Can science succeed in its mission to find truth in a world ruled by absurdity? To think that we can understand an absurd world is irrational.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Sun May 04, 2008 11:31 pm

That was a flat out awesome post Gnommon, and a damn good read.


Do you think that by nature Deists are essentially Existentialists?

It seems that what you're saying, is that Existentialism is the best application of reason in making sense out of it all.

I think Existentialism and Deism are natural bedmates.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Sun May 04, 2008 11:59 pm

Uriah wrote:
That was a flat out awesome post Gnommon, and a damn good read.

I agree. Thats one thing I like about this place, there are some flat out smart people running around here.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Mon May 05, 2008 9:24 am

Yes good post Gnomon. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Mon May 05, 2008 6:19 pm

Uriah wrote:
Do you think that by nature Deists are essentially Existentialists?

It seems that what you're saying, is that Existentialism is the best application of reason in making sense out of it all.

I think Existentialism and Deism are natural bedmates.

I suspect that most of us De-atheists have gone through an Existentialist period. The contrast between the biblical portrayal of Creation---"And God saw that it was good"---and the exasperating imperfections we see in the world around us, can be difficult to reconcile without the blindfold of faith. Blaming the evil in the world on Adam & Eve though, sounds like scapegoating by the CEO who is ultimately responsible.

Understandably, the Rationalist-Existentialist-Atheist response to that perplexing paradox of good-mingled-with-evil is to reject the whole Designer-World concept, and to stoically accept that mindless Randomness---personified as Lady Luck, or Fortune, or Fate---is the actual cause of this cosmic traffic accident we call home. But it's hard to muster-up much optimism from such a fatalistic worldview.

Fortunately, Deists have a third option for making sense of senselessness: Faith, Fate, or Freedom. Obviously, the world is imperfect and often unpredictable. But it is also undeniable that the universe is orderly-enough for us to understand, if we put our minds to it. So instead of taking the sour-grapes attitude---"we don't need no f*ing designer anyway"---we can accept the challenge of creating a little orderly oasis of our own in the midst of cosmic chaos, even as we make use of the organizational tools (matter, energy, and mind) providentially provided by the mysterious designoid function that Darwin called Natural Selection, and theists call God.

Physicist Steven Weinberg once said, "The more the universe seems understandable, the more it seems pointless". That observation also bothered me until I saw that "pointlessness" might be The Point. If a hypothetical Creator wanted to evolve a race of self-sufficient, freethinking creatures, the "perfect" solution of Predestination would have to be compromised a bit with a dab of Freewill. One practical way to achieve this delicate balance between freedom and determinism might be to treat them like lab rats. Drop them into a puzzling situation where they are forced to make rational choices on the basis of incomplete information. This ability is what we call Inference, or Intelligence.

The idea of humans as God's lab rats may not sound very appealing, but on the upside, the evolutionary test would select for intelligence and independence, instead of for fawning faith and obsequious obedience: i.e survival of the smartest. Actually I prefer the image of autonomous avatars in a virtual-reality game. For those of us inside the game, the point of the exercise is just to stay alive and procreate. But the unseen creator and observer of the game might have other things in mind for us when the game is over. But, then again, maybe not; we'll have to wait and see.

If cosmic pointlessness is the point of the world as a whole, then each intelligent agent is free to set his own target to aim at, or to just opt out of the game. Freedom
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Mon May 05, 2008 6:31 pm

I think the Existentialists generally have it right, but I think most of them (especially the great Existentialist artists, writers, and thinkers) suffer from what Dostoyevsky termed the "disease" of hyperconsciousness. Suffering, not from a lack of reason - but from too much of it.
As you point out, Faith is a key component to spiritual belief. I suppose one could argue that Deists are simply Existentialists who have faith in the absurd. That, in part, is their answer to absurdity - somewhat like Tertullian who said "I believe because it is impossible".

I do feel, from my own perspective, that that internal struggle with faith, confronting meaninglessness, and making sense out of this absurd existence is the heart of my own spiritual struggle. My heart wants to believe what my mind cannot.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Mon May 05, 2008 7:49 pm

In an email on the same topic to some Atheist/Agnostic friends, I posted the item below. It may serve as an addendum to the thoughts above.


On the Freethought Fellowship Forum I have been asked several times about the essential distinction between a Deist and an Atheist. I usually reply flippantly that a Deist is an Atheist who believes in God. While that is an easy sound-bite response, it’s not a very satisfactory philosophical answer. So I have concluded that the primary difference is in the way they respond to the obvious absurdity of the world. The thoughts below were posted on the Panendeist Forum to see if anyone else had viewed Absurdity as a good thing.

Apparently not, since the response seemed to be pleasant surprise at that not-so-obvious option for optimism. But there was some misunderstanding of my ambiguous reference to Existentialism, so I had to append another note to explain that our, apparently godforsaken, existence doesn’t have to be viewed from a pessimistic standpoint. The existence of Good and Order alongside Evil and Disorder can serve as rational evidence that something more than blind, impersonal, randomness is at work in the world.

Ultimately, I suppose it’s a case of optimistically choosing to view the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. Like most people, I would prefer a more certain answer, but I guess we have no choice but to play the sorry hand we’re dealt.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Mon May 05, 2008 8:37 pm

Uriah wrote:
As you point out, Faith is a key component to spiritual belief. I suppose one could argue that Deists are simply Existentialists who have faith in the absurd. That, in part, is their answer to absurdity - somewhat like Tertullian who said "I believe because it is impossible".

I like that. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Mon May 05, 2008 11:48 pm

Quote :
The world is imperfect, absurd, and contingent, hence no signs of creation by a perfect, intentional, designer. Even some Deists seem to be resigned to the irony of an absurd creation. So, just for the sake of discussion, I ask:
What is the Deist answer to Absurdity?


HOly cow I have that same feeling that one gets when everybody gets a joke except for me.

I've read the whole string but I still can't get by the opening sentence.

To me the premise is seriously flawed. I disagree with it.

I agree the world is imperfect. That's pretty obvious. That's a given.

The world may or may not be contingent.

I'm guessing if there's a god then the world is contingent.

If there is no god, then I'm betting the world is not contingent.

But to say the world or the universe or existence is absurd, I don't know how you can just say that. That's gotta be proven, doesn't it. Or is that some a priori thing that I'm missing.

In any event two of the words in particular don't fit into the opening sentence.

Let's restate the opening sentence with just the word imperfect in it, as it has to fit into the equation..

The world is imperfect ... ... hence no signs of creation by a perfect, intentional, designer.

That's simply not true. So I have to again say I disagree with the premise.

And what do we mean my the world is contingent.

Contingent means dependent upon something does it not. So an atheist would say the world is not contingent on anything, or at least not contingent upon anything that has to do with intent.

Those that believe in God, with the exception of panendeists, would believe that the unvierse is contingent upon God (panendists I assume believe God can indeed grow with the universe, I suppose part of the increasing complexity).

But even the statement. Existence or the existence of the universe is absurd. I simply need more information or proof as to the validity of that claim or at least an explanation as to why our existence or the existence of the universe is absurd.

I don't quite understand why existence or the existence of the universe is absurd.

Can someone explain that to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Tue May 06, 2008 2:00 pm

Helium wrote:

But to say the world or the universe or existence is absurd, I don't know how you can just say that. That's gotta be proven, doesn't it. Or is that some a priori thing that I'm missing.

In any event two of the words in particular don't fit into the opening sentence.

Let's restate the opening sentence with just the word imperfect in it, as it has to fit into the equation..

The world is imperfect ... ... hence no signs of creation by a perfect, intentional, designer.

That's simply not true. So I have to again say I disagree with the premise.


But even the statement. Existence or the existence of the universe is absurd. I simply need more information or proof as to the validity of that claim or at least an explanation as to why our existence or the existence of the universe is absurd.

I don't quite understand why existence or the existence of the universe is absurd.

Can someone explain that to me.


If you don't view the world as absurd, then you must be some kind of Deist or Theist. Perhaps you didn't notice that I was paraphrasing the general attitude of Atheists toward the imperfections of the world. This attitude is most explicitly defined in the works of Existentialists.

Wiki: Existentialism is a reaction against traditional philosophies, such as rationalism and empiricism, that seek to discover an ultimate order in metaphysical principles or in the structure of the observed world, and thereby seek to discover universal meaning. . . . It then follows that existentialism tends to view human beings as subjects in an indifferent, objective, often ambiguous and "absurd" universe, in which meaning is not provided by the natural order, but rather can be created, however provisionally and unstably, by human beings' actions and interpretations.

Those "traditional philosophies" were heavily influenced by Christian doctrine. Early scientists, such as Isaac Newton, were motivated in part by the assumption that they were discovering the beauty and magnificence of God's creation. Ironically he was responsible for showing that the rationalized beauty of Ptolemy's theory of perfectly circular planetary orbits was erroneous because they are actually "imperfect" ellipses. The philosopher Leibniz went so far as to assert that, since this world was created by an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectionist God, then logically it must be "the best of all possible worlds".

But subsequent developments in science began to uncover evidence of randomness and disorder (epitomized by Entropy) in the natural world. Darwin's Theory of Evolution was a major turning point, away from the concept of rational Divine Providence, and toward the current assumption of Modern Science that irrational randomness is the basic principle of Reality. Christians could be more optimistic because they believed that in the battle between Good and Evil, an omnipotent God would trump a created Satan. But Deists must find some other reasons for ultimate optimism.

Fortunately, I see a trend in science that is turning back to "empirical" metaphysics in order to explain such things as chaos and complexity in nature. Most of those cutting-edge scientists are reluctant to postulate a deity as the cause of order out of chaos. But they are forced to accept some form of Holism to make sense of the otherwise absurd ramblings of open-ended random processes. The Whole makes sense of a disjointed collection of parts.

If the world is non-teleological (goal oriented) then it is ultimately meaningless and absurd. But if the random wanderings of evolution are actually proceeding in the general direction of complexity and consciousness, despite the counter-force of Entropy, then there must be some kind of meaning or reason or intention behind it. Some of us call that mysterious meta-physical motive-force God. But, being an optimistic skeptic, I call it The God Hypothesis.


PS---Perhaps I should clarify that the mischievous deity of my God Hypothesis intentionally created a world where godless existentialism makes sense. So the main distinction from Atheism is that Ambiguous Absurdity is not just a burden to bear, but necessary and good for us---in the long run. Isn't that ironic?

PPS---Absurdity in Philosophy is equivalent to Anomaly in Science---it forces you to stop and look for new directions. Ambiguity in Logic is like a fork in the road, it forces you to make a creative choice.

PPPS---Another afterthought: A logical extension of Absurd Existentialism is Postmodern Relativism, where all knowledge and truth is fabricated by the human imagination with no objective basis in Reality. However, this is not a warranted extrapolation from Einstein's Relativity though, since he noted that at least one thing in the world is absolute: Invariant Lightspeed. Is it a coincidence that the first act by the God of Genesis was to create light?
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Tue May 06, 2008 11:04 pm

Quote :
I suppose one could argue that Deists are simply Existentialists who have faith in the absurd. That, in part, is their answer to absurdity - somewhat like Tertullian who said "I believe because it is impossible".

I suppose that you could also argue that Neo-Deists are Post-Existentialists, because their answer to absurdity is to accept it as a positive challenge, not an obstacle to work around.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Tue May 06, 2008 11:22 pm

okay thanks for the explanation. That helped, not sure I completely follow. But it helped.

My answer to atheists contention of absurdity, then, is for them prove it's absurd.

Seems to me it's just like the god question; the statement can never be proved.
i.e. there is a God. But it can't be proved

or

there is no God.

Which also can't be proved.

So too is the univers is absurd.

Can't be proved.

So too the universe is not absurd.

Can't be proved.

We can make sense out of a lot of things in the physical world and we can see historically our increasing clarity of sense of the physical world.

Is it absurd, then, to think the burning questions of existence and of god might become more clarified with the passage of time allowing more insight to grow on the issue?

Anyway thanks for explanation!
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Wed May 07, 2008 1:04 pm

I agree with Helium that the universe has to be proven to be absurd and imperfect first. I've never seen any undeniable prove that it is either and I believe it to be the opposite.

How are we able to study and understand the universe if it is absurd? Wouldn't an absurd universe be incomprehensible?

If the universe was created exactly the way God wanted it then isn't it a perfect creation? If an artist's favorite painting was painted exactly the way he envisioned it and everyone else that observed it thought it was a piece of shit then would his painting be a masterpiece or crap?

What does a perfect world look like and could you do a better job than God? If so, will you please make this perfect world so I can see that you would make a better god?

Is Heaven perfect? Is Hell perfect? Is Earth perfect?

If you had a mental disorder that prevented you from feeling any negative emotions and everybody treated you like shit all the time then would your life be perfect or imperfect? Would you be willing to have a surgery that gave you this disorder? Why or why not?

If the nature of the world was like the Garden of Eden would you feel like your life has purpose and would you not eat the forbidden fruit or would the "perfect" world of the Garden of Eden feel pointless and would you eat the forbidden fruit to gain meaning in your life? If the world was like Eden then would the purpose of God making the forbidden fruit be to give you a choice of how you want to live your life? Maybe this is the nature of the world? Maybe the reason you were created was to be free and God doesn't have a robot like purpose for you? Maybe the meaning of life is to choose your own meaning? Maybe God didn't make a perfect world and said,"It is good!" but maybe he made an imperfect world and said,"It is good!"? Maybe the perceived "imperfections" is what makes this a perfect world? Would such a world be absurd? I don't think so!
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Wed May 07, 2008 3:01 pm

I don't necesarrily think that absurd and imperfect go hand in hand. The universe can indeed be absurd, and still perfect. Just as something can be totally rational, logical, and reasonable - and still be imperfect.

Wabi Sabi


When we speak of the universe being absurd, I at least am referring to the universe of human perception and existence. Surely the physical universe operates according to its own fixed laws, it is not absurd - but our existence largely is. The universe is absurd because there is no inherent logical, reasonable, purpose to our sentience, to our existence.

But, for me anyway, that chaos and mystery is where all the beauty and perfection reside.

Yin and Yang - Absurdity and Perfection
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Wed May 07, 2008 4:29 pm

Schizophretard wrote:
I agree with Helium that the universe has to be proven to be absurd and imperfect first. I've never seen any undeniable prove that it is either and I believe it to be the opposite!

I suspect that Atheists and Existentialists would say that the burden is upon believers-in-God to justify their assumption that the universe has some ultimate meaning and purpose beyond the individual ideas of ordinary humans. That attitude probably stems from their early training in Christianity or Judaism or Islam. Children are often given the impression that, like Santa Claus, God can do no wrong. Yet when they grow up an see how scr*wed-up the world is, they lose faith in God. If the world is godless, then hey!---sh*t happens!, what do you expect?---get used to it! To them, a divine design with imperfections is absurd.

When I first read about the philosophy of Existentialism, I was still a Christian. So like you, I didn't see the real-world problems as evidence of ultimate absurdity, but as human fallibility. However, Absurdists would point to things like the 1755 Lisbon earthquake that killed up to 100,000 devout Catholics, most of whom were engaged in worship services on All Saints Day. How can you make sense of such a thing, if you believe in a good and just God---what point was God trying to make? Was God indiscriminately punishing New Orleans, for some unspecified sins, with a hurricane ? The "Ex-surdist" solution was to stop trying to justify God's mysterious ways, and just conclude that the whole world is irrational, meaningless, and pointless---so-called deliberate "acts of God" are actually contingent accidents of impersonal Nature.

Later, as an Agnostic, I still couldn't believe that the world was totally meaningless. I suppose because I saw more good than evil in the world. But as I began to veer toward a Deist conception of God, I had to find some kind of answer to the apparent absurdities---unexplainable evils and paradoxes---of Existence that had been drilled into me by years of Science and Skepticism. My solution---that I am still working on---is to assume as an axiom that the imperfections of this life are not due to a klutzy designer's glitch, or to an evil Adversary, or to Adam & Eve's fall.

That only leaves one rational conclusion for me: this world was carefully designed to be just chaotic and disorderly enough to test the intelligence and emotional stability of the creatures in it---perhaps in order to develop a few "souls" with the "right stuff" for eternal life. In other words, Evolution is weeding out the "unfit" as it progresses from random chaos in the beginning toward perfection at the end---the Omega Point. But as I said before, this scenario was not revealed to me in a vision, it's just a debatable, controversial guess on my part. And I could be wrong. Some on this forum have reached a different conclusion, closer to godless Existentialism. What's your solution to the pollution of Eden?
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Absurdity   Thu May 08, 2008 12:13 am

Quote :
I suspect that Atheists and Existentialists would say that the burden is upon believers-in-God to justify their assumption that the universe has some ultimate meaning and purpose beyond the individual ideas of ordinary humans.

I, on the other hand, contend that it us up to a person making a contention to prove the contention.

Thus if I say there is a God, it is up to me to prove it.

If I say there is no God, it is up to me to prove it.

Also to the atheist or existentialist, they cannot answer why or how we are here.

So if I say we are here because God is a first cause they can, indeed, successfully argue that I can't prove that contention.

BUT!!!!

They cannot prove their own contention, which is the opposite, simply that we exist without a first cause.

The corollary to this is that the imperfections such as 100,000 Porteguese Catholics dying on a CAtholic holy day, is neither here nor there.

Of course our universe is imperfect. As you point out, nature giveth but nature also taketh.

To this we must also add free will. People excercising their own free will can help us, people can also harm us.

This is not absurdity.

To a deist this is simple reality.

For instance, the 100,000 portugese catholics dying in an earthquake on a CAtholic holy day. This may be absurd to a Catholic who believes in an intervening God.

But to a deist who does not believe in an intervening God, but does believe in plate tectonics, this is most certainly NOT absurd, even while it IS tragic.

The 100,000 dead in Burma. It can all be logically explained. It's part nature (i.e. a cyclone hit) and part human (i.e., available technology, in particular radar, not employed in a forecast network in the country, as well as the typically flimsy contstruction of the buildings).

Thus I have proven that the atheist contention of absurdity is itself absurd because it contends that anything would be absurd other than the state of complete perfection.

So I would contend that an atheist would contend that the only logical state of existence should be complete perfection.

Any other state is "absurd."

And that I cannot agree with.
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