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 Critique of Panendeism

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Aaron
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PostSubject: Critique of Panendeism   Tue May 11, 2010 11:32 pm

This is an interesting (if somewhat misguided IMO) critique of Panendeism.

Quote :
Panendeism

Pandendeism is a fairly recently coined term to describe a sort of ``open'' pandeism similar to what I more specifically mused upon at the end of the previous section. According to the panendeist website, any deist who believes that the universe is a part (but not the whole) of God can be considered a panendeist. More explicitly, it asserts that ``panendeists believe in a god that is present in everything but extends beyond the universe... In other words, god is the universe but is also greater than the universe.''

I have to confess, these words on a site supposedly devoted to rational religion give me a bit of a headache. Let's eliminate the use of the term ``god'' and ``universe'' per se, and reduce these statements to pure set theory.

Suppose $U$ is ``the set of all things that exist''. Suppose some set $G$ exists. Then it is absolutely certain that $G \subset U$ ($G$ is a strict subset of $U$) or $G \subseteq U$ (where $G$ could conceivably be all of $U$).

Fine, so now assert $G \equiv U$. One cannot at that point, also assert $U \subset G$ (set $U$ is a strict subset of $G$), so that $G$ is a larger set than the set that contains it. Or rather, one can assert it all you want but it is obviously mathematically and logically impossible no matter what particular existential set $G$ is asserted to be.

Note that honestly we don't even need to assert that $U$ is the set of everything that exists. Any set specifier could be used in place of existence and the observation above would still hold - no set can at one time be a strict subset, equivalent to, and a strict superset of any other set, any more than a number can be at once strictly greater than, strictly less then, and equal to any number. To assert such things destroy all meaning; it is pure nonsense.

This is especially true in the case of the Universe, because the set of all things that exist has special properties. Again, consider the more obvious case of numbers. The set of all natural numbers is reasonably well defined, with or without an axiom of infinity. If I assert a set that is a superset of the natural numbers, such as the real numbers, I am basically saying that there exist real numbers that are not natural numbers, which is perfectly true.

Now consider the problem when we try the same thing with the set of all things that exist. If I assert a strict superset of all things that exist, I am stating that in this set there are entities that don't exist. To assert that God is ``greater than'' the Universe is thus equivalent to stating that God is at least partly imaginary, unreal, nonexistent, because the Universe is already everything that exists.

I find it vaguely irritating when people use words in this sort of way. I imagine that the problem is that they are being sloppy in their usage, and perhaps they mean to say Cosmos where they instead say Universe, where of course the Cosmos might well be a strict subset of the Universe, although we have no sound empirical reason to think that it is at this point. Or, perhaps they mean to use the term ``greater than'' in some subjective and arbitrary way - as a way of saying ``has a more complex structure than one might naively expect'' or the like.

The site does attempt to explain it further with vaguely poetic metaphors, such as the idea that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, but this of course breaks down given that the Universe is the whole; the question is only whether God is also the whole or just one of its parts as it is impossible that the Universe could be only a part of God. It attempts to suggest that we are more than just our cells, and in a similar (also very sloppy) way God might be more than just the Universe. But this is doubly treacherous - we are not more than our cells, the ``we'' of our self-awareness is far less. High level awareness is always enormously compressive; our thoughts and feelings, however sublime, are a tiny, tiny bit of information compared to the vast sea of information self-encoded within our cells and constantly updated by dynamical interactions with the entire Universe. Also, this more or less assumes that there is something inherently mystical or spiritual about complexity or awareness, that it is ``greater than'' the microscopic interactions that give rise to it. More important to us, I agree - the only place where ``importance'' can exist - but ordinal arguments of ``greatness'' smack of Descartes failed arguments for a cause (God) that is ``greater than'' the effect (Descartes). To ourselves we are enormously important - to the Universe, from the point of view of physics, we are simply particularly efficient generators of entropy.

Let me attempt to replace the poetry and set-theoretic and information-theoretic contradictions with a more concrete and consistent definition of panendeism. In physics and mathematics, there is a profound difference between open sets and closed sets, between finite sets and infinite sets. Let us suppose that the Universe does, in fact, consist of only the one Cosmos we seem to live in - so that there are no more actual Cosmi, there are no hidden dimensions or hidden variables, so that the actual spacetime we inhabit plus the mass-energy in it are pretty much ``it'' as far as existence goes. Let us assume further that the Universe isn't much bigger than what we can see - that there really is a boundary to it or that it closes topologically in some way that lacks a boundary (such as a toroidal boundary condition). In this case spacetime is closed and finite. The information content of the Universe, however large, is not unbounded (especially if spacetime is granular on some microscopic scale, e.g. the planck scale) and the information density of the Universe is actually remarkably low.

In this case it is difficult to sensibly postulate God at all, even a God that is the Universe. To the best of our ability to see, all the way out to the limits of our ability to see, the Universe appears to be lifeless and mechanical, with a fair bit of ``disorder'' but in a well defined state that clearly has zero global entropy. If the stars or the rocks are parts of God's Brain, there is no obvious way they could be thinking of much of anything at all besides what they are and what they are doing, with all of reality the collective result of their microscopic collective motion. The motion might appear to be random or reasoned and ordered, in much the same way that Monte Carlo computations appear to sample interaction spaces randomly that exhibit phase transitions and other highly organized behavior, but in reality both reality and the random number generators used in the computations aren't random at all. The kind of ``free will'' exhibited by an e.g. Ising model computation leading to an ``organized choice'' of a predominently spin up or spin down system is an illusion, an artifact of the appearance of non-deterministic outcomes, and our own free will or God's free will is similarly an illusion, something that disappears if the Universe is a closed finite state system with zero entropy.

It continues on here....
http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/Philosophy/god_theorem/god_theorem/node28.html

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PostSubject: Re: Critique of Panendeism   Sat May 15, 2010 6:23 am

The stars and rocks aren't God's brain we would be God's brain, I don't think they quite made the connection that we're as much a part of the universe as anything else.
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PostSubject: Re: Critique of Panendeism   Sat May 15, 2010 4:10 pm

Yes. An interesting approach to the God theory. And the author's logic seems to be impeccable. But some of his premises (assumptions) may be derived from erroneous axioms, so the conclusions would miss the target. . . . except that his target is defined as wherever the logic-driven arrow hits.

The key assumption of Panendeism, that is not well understood by Theists, Atheists and some Deists, is that God is the set of all sets : $infinite sets$. Hence, trying to fit a Pandeist god as a novel subset into the predefined "set of all things that exist" is bound to fail. G*D is not a subset of anything.

<< To assert that God is ``greater than'' the Universe is thus equivalent to stating that God is at least partly imaginary, unreal, nonexistent, because the Universe is already everything that exists.>>
The initial assertion is actually a true depiction of Panendeism, but the conclusion is skewed because of the erroneous definition of the physical universe. Our universe is instead an imaginary concept in the Mind of G*D, not the other way around. Once we can wrap our minds around such a counter-intuitive notion, Panendeism becomes mathematically and logically obvious.

PS---Stars and rocks are not part of G*D's brain, as in Pandeism, but are simply figments of
G*D's imagination.

PPS---These conclusions are drawn from the Enformationism axiom that the physical world is ultimately a meta-physical concept, consisting only of immaterial information. The essence of all existence is the metaphysical substance and power of BEING : what science calls "Information".
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PostSubject: Re: Critique of Panendeism   Sat May 15, 2010 9:59 pm

Yes the author of the critique is trying to use dualistic logic to refute a non-dual concept. Using that methodology is like trying to hear the color red. You can listen with all your might but you are never going to hear the color red. The author seems to have complete faith in his methodology and worldview however and is therefore left with no choice but to conclude that the color red doesn't exist.

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