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 The God Argument

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Gnomon
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PostSubject: The God Argument   Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:04 pm

This is a review of a book review in SKEPTIC magazine, vol 14, no 2, 2008. Norman Levitt reviews the new book by John Allen Paulos, IRRELIGION: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up. Although I agree with most of Levitt's and Paulos' criticisms of religion, and of theological arguments, I still can't be so sure that the universe could exist without some kind of Creator. Nevertheless, Levitt boldly states, "The hypothesis that a deity created the universe and somehow intervenes in it is, on the face of it, an extravagant, inelegant, and superfluous supposition." Levitt claims that "atheism is really the default position." He probably means "should be", since Theism seems to be the defacto supposition for most people in the world. However, Deists typically omit the "intervention" phrase, so they also avoid the necessity for empirical, scientific evidence to resolve the question, leaving only theoretical philosophical evidence to determine the validity of the hypothesis.

Anyway, I have come to think of the divide between Theists and Atheists as primarily a result of contrasting thought styles. Atheists seem to view the God question analytically and objectively, while Theists tend to think in more holistic and subjective terms. Another article by Massimo Pigliucci in the same magazine says, "You can think of scientism as advocating an impossibly objective view of the world . . . while postmodernism subscribes to an equally unrealistic view founded on subjectivity." That polarization between subjective/objective perspectives may also be implicated as the unbridgeable gulf in the Science/Religion debate. As Pigliucci puts it, "Dualism in anything like the Cartesian sense is intellectually dead . . . This does not mean that all human experience can be reduced to quarks . . . But quarks don't even begin to exhaust the bewildering complex causal web that yields human culture." In other words, scientific Reductionism and Analysis is appropriate for the study of physical phenomena, but philosophical Holism and Synthesis may be more appropriate for the study of metaphysical concepts like Culture and Creator.

Pigliucci doesn't mention metaphysics, but he does make a clear distinction: "Literature, art, history, and philosophy do not need any defense from science, nor do they need to be justified by comparison to science." Of course, some scientists and atheists disagree with that "non-overlapping magisteria" argument to exempt religious beliefs from scientific scrutiny. And my own position is that any postulated metaphysical phenomena must be compatible with rational science on some fundamental level. So that's why I have latched onto the Informationism hypothesis as a bridge between the two poles of human understanding.

Paulos quotes Eugene Wigner: "Why does the vast corpus of mathematical ideas developed without any applications in mind turn out to be so useful in describing what we can discover of physical reality, to the extent that it is virtually impossible to envision a physics detached from these mathematical formalisms?" Then Levitt admits, "Wigner's question remains deep and resists an easy answer." Yet I would like to propose a simple resolution to the question : metaphysical mathematics and physical phenomena are different manifestations of the same underlying "substance": Information***. By that I mean, information has the ability to transform from metaphysical ideas, into physical objects, and back again. The very name is suggestive of the power to in-form, to give form to the formless. And since Information is essentially mind-stuff, it makes sense that a Deity conceived as a bodyless mind would fill the bill for the source of all metaphysical ideas and physical realities.

Now that wasn't so inelegant was it? Dualism is resolved into Monism. Extravagant? Occam's razor prefers the fewest assumptions. Superfluous? The deity of Deism is not an add-on to Nature, but integral with it, and essential to it.


***Generic Information
Information is almost always defined in terms of its context or container. ~ Raw In-Form-Action has few, if any definable, perceivable qualities. By itself, Information is colorless, odorless, and formless. Unlike colorless, odorless, and formless water though, Information gives physical form to whatever is defined by it. ~. Like DNA, Information shapes things via internal rather than external constraints. Like the Laws of Physics, Information is the motivating & constraining force of physical reality. Like Energy, Information is the universal active agent of the cosmos. Like Spinoza's God, Information appears to be the single substance of the whole World. Information is the divine, promethean power of transformation. Information is Generic in the sense of generating all forms from a formless pool of possibility.
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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: The God Argument   Tue Sep 23, 2008 12:04 pm

I came up with this little chart a couple of years ago. The idea is that Atheists, Agnostics, and many other freethinkers tend to rely mainly on the right side for their greater worldview while Theists, New-Agers, and various other groups rely more heavily on the left for their greater worldview.



The argument is that in order to have a viewpoint that is most inclusive and integral we should recognize and use all the various aspects of reason.

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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Re: The God Argument   Tue Sep 23, 2008 12:48 pm

Aaron wrote:
I came up with this little chart a couple of years ago. The idea is that Atheists, Agnostics, and many other freethinkers tend to rely mainly on the right side for their greater worldview while Theists, New-Agers, and various other groups rely more heavily on the left for their greater worldview.

The argument is that in order to have a viewpoint that is most inclusive and integral we should recognize and use all the various aspects of reason.

For many years I was a left-brain Agnostic, and I dis-trusted Faith and Intuition. Now as I get older, the right-brain seems to be taking-on a more active role in my reasoning. One result of that "maturation" is that I can now intuitively appreciate the concept of Holism, which I formerly disdained as fuzzy reasoning. Ironically, the information sciences have recently learned that Fuzzy Logic is how Nature works. Classical Logic is an artificial abstraction of natural processes.
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