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 Deist Answer to Ambiguity

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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Deist Answer to Ambiguity   Mon Jun 02, 2008 8:16 pm

Most Deists seem to believe in some variation of Intelligent Design of the universe by a Deity who deliberately conceals his/her authorship from the scrutiny of science. This deus absconditus position implies that the existence of the supposed designer can only be known by intuition or by faith. However, I tend to be somewhat skeptical of both as methods of acquiring reliable facts about the world. Whenever possible, I prefer to continue looking for the less subtle empirical clues that add up to a consensus conclusion among the cognoscente. Unfortunately, I haven't yet found such an indisputable collection of evidence. So, I can only conclude that, if the universe was designed, the ambiguity of the evidence is intentional. By why would a designer go to the trouble of creating a work of art, and then fail to sign his masterpiece? Besides the folly of imputing human ego motives to an unmanifest deity, the question is still perplexing because of the taunt to human curiosity, which seems to be a part of our design. The pragmatic Atheist answer to most paradoxes is to choose a solution with the fewest speculations, qualifications, and assumptions. Apparently idealist Deists are not satisfied to shrug-off ultimate questions just because the answers are inherently open-ended.

In the current issue of SKEPTIC Magazine (v14 no1 2008), Norman Levitt puts his finger on the paradox. " . . . but that this 'divine intelligence' operates in ways which our lamentably limited mentalities cannot distinguish from mere randomness". Levitt is responding to the author's response to his critical review of Steve Fuller's book Science versus Religion in which the "left-wing" philosopher of science seems to defend the "right-wing" Intelligent Design interpretation of Evolution. Fuller objects to one counter-example, saying that "all Levitt demonstrates is how well intelligent design (in this case by humans) can generate processes that do not seem to be intelligently designed". The reference is to computer programs that emulate the behavior of living creatures via presumably random processes. But Fuller claims that the program designer's intelligence imposes limitations on the randomness of the phenomenon in a manner similar to Natural Laws and Natural Selection. This is known as Front-Loaded Design, which establishes rules to loosely govern the otherwise randomized evolutionary process.

I agree with Fuller's assessment that Artificial Life programs are undeniably designed; hence Natural Life may also be the result of front-loaded programming. But the irony still remains: The fingerprints of the designer in both cases are partially erased by randomness. Why then would the Master Programmer allow serendipity to compromise his/her Master Plan? Deists and Theists accommodate this paradox in various ways. But as I have mentioned before, the only thing that makes sense to me---assuming that the universe was indeed designed---is to conclude that randomness within an orderly system is necessary to allow Freedom within the context of Determinism. In other words, random Chance is a deliberate design loophole in the program of God's Will which permits the exercise of human freewill. If that's the case, then the difficulty of discerning design may be part of the IQ test that humanity must pass in order to qualify for whatever comes next. A more pragmatic---and less ego-centric---answer is that randomness seems to be an essential element in the creativity of nature, yet it eventually erases the tracks of its own meandering progress.

Atheists have concluded that randomness is incompatible with the intelligent designer hypothesis. So they go with the default Occam answer: existence is eternal, irrational, absurd, and unintentional; hence godless. What are some other rational or hypothetical explanations for the ambiguity of Deistic design?
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Ambiguity   Mon Jun 02, 2008 8:55 pm

Gnomon wrote:
What are some other rational or hypothetical explanations for the ambiguity of Deistic design?

That we are more like the product of trial and error rather than engineered design. Think

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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Ambiguity   Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:29 pm

Gnomon wrote:
Most Deists seem to believe in some variation of Intelligent Design of the universe by a Deity who deliberately conceals his/her authorship from the scrutiny of science.

This is where I dissent from most other Deists. Even though I think the cosmos is basically concept and thus requires a Prime Observer I see no evidence the world was purposely designed or even deliberately created. Rather it appears to be nothing more than a self organizing epiphenomenon of that which we call God. Looking at it that way there is no problem because the question never comes up.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Ambiguity   Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:46 pm

As a humble Deist...assuming that Deists can be humble...and assuming that we can call my lack of knowledge "humility"...I cannot know the Mind of God.

So, whether or not God has a Master Plan is debatable and indeterminate. If we are co-creators (my personal opinion) we must have what is referred to as free will. "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings", so God can't know the outcome - because we haven't written the ending yet!

As far as God deliberately concealing himself, I disagree. The current preferred path to knowledge is Science, but Science is a tool well-suited to discovering material things. If God isn't a material entity, Science is no more useful in discovering God than a metal detector is for finding plastic. I don't think God is hiding. We're just looking in the wrong places, with the wrong tools. It wasn't that long ago that radio waves were unknown to Man. They weren't hiding. We just hadn't figured out how to look for them.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Ambiguity   Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:54 am

Gnomon,

Why would a designer go to the trouble of creating a work of art, and then fail to sign his masterpiece? Well, In a way he did sign it. Where there is a painting there is a painter. So, since the universe is a masterpiece it has a painter and people call that painter God. If it wasn't "signed" then people would of never came up with the word God. Also, all our art, our science, and all our inventions have all been inspired by what we see in nature. An artists sees the beauty of a bird and paints it. A scientist finds out what makes a bird fly. A plane maker creates planes by what they learned from science and tries to make the plane look good by what they learned from art. So, nature has made us into intelligent designers because it is intelligently designed.

I don't think the debate between deists and atheists is really a debate about if it is signed but rather or not it is a forgery. What I mean is that atheists see God's "autograph" but argue that he didn't really write it. Deists say,"The universe is intelligently designed." Atheists say,"No, it just appears that way by chance." SETI is a good example of what I'm talking about. If SETI found a radio signal coming from space that was in complex mathematical patterns then there would be a debate about rather or not aliens exists. The believers would say,"It is obviously a signal sent by aliens." and the sceptic would say,"It just appears to be from aliens but it is a product of chance. There are millions of random signals(multiverse) coming to the Earth and this signal is the lucky one." So, atheists see the same "autograph" that we do. They just say chance wrote it.

Also, My answer to atheists about the apparent randomness in the universe is that there is no randomness. I believe in God and they believe in randomness. As a deist I don't take some kind of middle ground. I'm just as skeptical about randomness as they are about God.

The only kind of randomness I believe in is not knowing the outcome of something. Like rolling dice for an example. When I say that a die lands on a random number what I mean is I don't know what it will land on but if I rolled it exactly the same way every time then it would land on the same number every time. So, what the die lands on isn't really random because every cause always has the exact same effect. If the universe had randomness in it in the way that atheists describe it then a cause would have random effects. The universe doesn't work that way. As an example, atheists say that evolution works by natural selection working on random mutations. I agree with them but define the randomness differently. When I say that a mutation is random I mean I don't know what caused it to happen but if I fully understood the cause of the mutation then it wouldn't be random. So, no mutation is caused by randomness.

Also, if the universe behaved randomly science would be impossible.
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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Ambiguity   Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:57 pm

Aaron wrote:

That we are more like the product of trial and error rather than engineered design. Think

As you know, my God hypothesis locates the deity at both the Alpha and the Omega of the evolutionary process. However, I do agree that humanity was created by a "trial & error" process. That's exactly how the Artificial Life programs work. The heuristic (searching) process is guided by a few "rules" established by the programmer. It's not an example of linear engineered design, but of open-ended "front-loaded" design.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Ambiguity   Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:51 pm

stretmediq wrote:

This is where I dissent from most other Deists. Even though I think the cosmos is basically concept and thus requires a Prime Observer I see no evidence the world was purposely designed or even deliberately created. Rather it appears to be nothing more than a self organizing epiphenomenon of that which we call God. Looking at it that way there is no problem because the question never comes up.

That description is close to my position as an Agnostic. That the world was self-organizing, I couldn't deny. But the ambiguity of the "cause" or ultimate reason behind that orderly trend seemed to be impenetrable. I suppose you could call the agnostic- shoulder-shrug -with-a-touch-of-romantic-naturalism attitude "Pantheism", but not Panentheism or Panendeism. Because it makes an idol of the physical universe and ignores the metaphysical whole-verse.

However, in my case "the question" did come up. How does an autopoetic process get started? Either it picks itself up by its own bootstraps, or it is an eternal epiphenomenon*** of pointless, wandering creativity. And yet, "eternal" and "creative" are attributes of most traditional deities. So the remaining mystery is the point of it all: the beginning-and-end points, the goal, the intention, the meaning. My agnostic attitude gave way to deism when I realized that physics is built on a foundation of metaphysics. Which implies that All (physics) is contained in God (metaphysics): Pan-en-Theism.



***The usual interpretation: the metaphysical phenomena of Life and Mind are built upon the physical phenomena of matter.
My interpretation: physical phenomena are made of metaphysical information---the stuff of quantum physics, and of mind. If that inference turns out to be not true, then I'll have to go back to Pandeism.
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Ambiguity   Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:20 pm

Schizophretard wrote:
Also, My answer to atheists about the apparent randomness in the universe is that there is no randomness.
.

I agree that the operation of the universe is not completely random. But randomness in the sense of uncertainty, unpredictability, and probability is a fundamental factor in Quantum Mechanics. So Mechanical Materialists have a paradox to work around when they emphasize Randomness as the motor of evolution. If randomness is the motor, then Natural Selection is the steering wheel. What is Random Order? What is Unpredictable Regularity? What is Probable Certainty?

When we look at the world on a macro (human-scale) level, it seems to be both orderly and unpredictable. That annoying and puzzling element of uncertainty was explained, by some ancient thinkers, as the mischievous pranks of a trickster god, who foiled the best-laid plans of the more sober deities, and of helpless humans. This is the Ambiguity I was referring to. The universe appears to be both orderly and disorderly, both deterministic and indeterministic, both random and directional, both predictable and unpredictable. Hence the Creator, Observer, Force responsible for this creation also seems to be two-faced.

Quantum scientists have an even deeper mystery to explain. Modern science is based on the assumption of random-mechanical-cueball determinism. Yet on the foundational sub-atomic level, the physical world seems to be strangely indeterminate. Not just randomized determinism, but vexing unpredictability. This means that the presumed unbroken chain of classical cause & effect actually has quantum gaps of indeterminism, serendipity, and whimsy. Which in turn, means that classical determinism has a cracked foundation. And that inherent, infuriating, imperfection is viewed by Atheists as evidence that no-one is in charge. The Fool has ascended to the throne.

Therefore, traditional materialists confidently soldier-on with their out-dated assumption that reality has no gaps for god to fill. Meanwhile, some younger scientists are beginning to face the fact head-on that reality is dis-continuous at the root and at the head. They are speculating that the quantum gaps and cosmic space are not filled with empty vacuum, but with space-making Information. And that's where I see a place for a god-of-the-gaps. If G*D is Mind, then information is what S/he is made of. The cracks in the foundation of the world are not imperfections, but the glue that holds everything together. The unity of ambiguity.


PS___The idea of invisible gap-fillers reminds me of Skebleens. Very Happy

"Skebleens are what separate things when
you can't see anything....without Skebleens,
all things would be just one connected mess
with no edges and distances and nothing to
tell which was a thing...."
Edwin Schlossberg
Hiccup's Tale
Life magazine 12:88
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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Ambiguity   Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:25 am

Gnomon wrote:
How does an autopoetic process get started? Either it picks itself up by its own bootstraps, or it is an eternal epiphenomenon*** of pointless, wandering creativity.

That goes back to the question 'why is there something rather than nothing?' My answer, of course, is laid out in my essay 'the paradox of nothingness' which explains why I am a Deist instead of an Atheist.
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Schizophretard

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PostSubject: Re: Deist Answer to Ambiguity   Sun Jun 08, 2008 8:09 am

Gnomon wrote:
Schizophretard wrote:
Also, My answer to atheists about the apparent randomness in the universe is that there is no randomness.
.

I agree that the operation of the universe is not completely random. But randomness in the sense of uncertainty, unpredictability, and probability is a fundamental factor in Quantum Mechanics. So Mechanical Materialists have a paradox to work around when they emphasize Randomness as the motor of evolution. If randomness is the motor, then Natural Selection is the steering wheel. What is Random Order? What is Unpredictable Regularity? What is Probable Certainty?

When we look at the world on a macro (human-scale) level, it seems to be both orderly and unpredictable. That annoying and puzzling element of uncertainty was explained, by some ancient thinkers, as the mischievous pranks of a trickster god, who foiled the best-laid plans of the more sober deities, and of helpless humans. This is the Ambiguity I was referring to. The universe appears to be both orderly and disorderly, both deterministic and indeterministic, both random and directional, both predictable and unpredictable. Hence the Creator, Observer, Force responsible for this creation also seems to be two-faced.

Quantum scientists have an even deeper mystery to explain. Modern science is based on the assumption of random-mechanical-cueball determinism. Yet on the foundational sub-atomic level, the physical world seems to be strangely indeterminate. Not just randomized determinism, but vexing unpredictability. This means that the presumed unbroken chain of classical cause & effect actually has quantum gaps of indeterminism, serendipity, and whimsy. Which in turn, means that classical determinism has a cracked foundation. And that inherent, infuriating, imperfection is viewed by Atheists as evidence that no-one is in charge. The Fool has ascended to the throne.

Therefore, traditional materialists confidently soldier-on with their out-dated assumption that reality has no gaps for god to fill. Meanwhile, some younger scientists are beginning to face the fact head-on that reality is dis-continuous at the root and at the head. They are speculating that the quantum gaps and cosmic space are not filled with empty vacuum, but with space-making Information. And that's where I see a place for a god-of-the-gaps. If G*D is Mind, then information is what S/he is made of. The cracks in the foundation of the world are not imperfections, but the glue that holds everything together. The unity of ambiguity.


PS___The idea of invisible gap-fillers reminds me of Skebleens. Very Happy

"Skebleens are what separate things when
you can't see anything....without Skebleens,
all things would be just one connected mess
with no edges and distances and nothing to
tell which was a thing...."
Edwin Schlossberg
Hiccup's Tale
Life magazine 12:88

I get what you're saying. Well, kind of. I'm just trying to show how randomness doesn't really exist. So, it doesn't need to be explained.
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