Note: The below letter may be easier to read on the Notable Conversations page, where I have preserved the quotes from the item he’s responding to.
I do play with words. It’s something I enjoy because there are many echoes of a past and of truth hidden in the usage of our many languages. I hope you don’t mind some counterpoints. I hope you don’t mind a bit of a continuation of my previous posting. I know, I know, you don’t like forums for this subject but, I simply could not resist.
Again, point by point;
**Here we are in agreement, I think. If there is a God and if It is omnipotent, etc., then we have no way of comprehending It’s nature.**
**That is my feeling. These customs came from war like, tribal peoples and therefore have those elements embedded. These traditions being responsible for some good is true, yet some of the most atrocious acts have been committed on behalf of these churches. The bad most certainly outweighs the good.**
** If we are to believe the big bang theory, we are led to believe that all of the matter and energy present in the universe today was locked inside a speck (marble size?) and was released in a fury. “All of the matter and all of the energy”, means all of the information available. Just because we can’t calculate it, does not mean it is not True.**
**In my mind, “the energy of creation” implies the frozen state energy found inside the (theoretical) singularity. We are, after all, composed of this stuff. Not just the electricity in our bodies. Remember, matter is just an expression of energy. Yes, I am implying a Creator. (Stop picturing the old man sitting on a throne. :-) )**
**It doe not imply that. However, there is much we do not understand about the universe, dark matter, dark energy, string that vibrate to create reality. The universe is no doubt a self-organizing system. Doe It have consciousness? Well, what the heck do we know about consciousness? We know that everyone experiences the world differently. We know that dolphins, whales, elephants, etc. are self aware. But, where does the definition stop. I would postulate the universe to be alive. Teeming with different expressions of the same rudimentary stuff. I can’t say It is self aware, the way us monkeys are self aware. But, if we are made up of the stuff stars are made of, then we are the universe experiencing itself.**
**Cave men would bury their dead. That either implies a belief in the after life or, that corpses stink and you have to get rid of them. But, why the rituals involved? Many Native Tribes all around the world have beliefs which are more spiritual and personal, than religious and imposed. Spirituality is an inward process. Religiosity is an outward event.**
**Today’s science is profit and personal aggrandizement driven. That’s not to say there is no “good” research going on but, it seems that it is driven in particular directions, at times detrimental to our existence. Many lay people and scientists feel that we know everything and what we don’t, the answers are right around the corner. We should all have faith in the inexplicable. For instance, we know cell phones work but, we don’t know why.**
**Technical progress does not imply anything as proven. Progress happens because we are able to observe what works by trial and error. Better math reduces the error rates, yet these remain. The theory of evolution is a funny point for people to contest. It is only an observation of change. It postulate that life came from simple origins and has progressed in to more complex form. Chaos theory, in some ways, opposes this change as natural. Systems should strive towards simpler forms, ones having an easier time surviving. Yet, that is not the case. Sure, life forms have changed, perhaps even evolved but, why? Natural selection should have precluded all simplicity. Better yet, how does a flower know that a bee will be attracted to a particular scent or color? How does an ant know that leaves will grow fungus which they can then eat? It all remains a theory because it is all still mysterious. To fall in to full belief of any scientific theory is no different than becoming a fundamentalist. The nice thing about science is that it allows for a change of theory a lot easier than religion.**
**Umm, everything happens for a reason or because of a reason. There is no such thing as an unconnected event. Let me explain. The Tsunami. People were killed because they lived near the ocean (happened because of a reason). People who moved from the coast will not be drowned by a tsunami again (the tsunami happened for a reason; people were not bright enough to know that the last one, was not the last one. Those that learned, survived the last one). It’s all about using available information, which is there for a reason.**
Picture omnipotence . . . . It exists but, has not motivation to do so. We live “for” something; ourselves, others, love, religion, etc. But, why would omnipotence need to exist for anything. It has no needs, want, no motivation. Except, perhaps, for one. What would happen if “It” stopped existing . . . BANG!
One more thing, never trust a man who tells you he knows what God wants but, I think you already know that ;-)
I think we may have a bit of difficulty discussing these topics because we have a great divide in our use of certain terms. I’ll give it a shot, though.
Regarding information in the universe. I disagree that “all of the matter and all of the energy means all of the information available.” So far as I understand, the only way this could be true would be if you were saying that determinism implies having all possible information at any given time (assuming no quantum randomness). You continue, saying “Just because we can’t calculate it, does not mean it’s not True” — and while this is correct, it is also correct that if we can’t calculate it then the “information” effectively does not exist.
For example, one might say that from a deterministic perspective the winner of the 2007 World Series has already been decided. But if I were to ask, “Then who is going to win” and the response was “There’s no way to tell,” I would have to wonder about the value of the original statement.
“All information that ever will be currently exists” might be an interesting philosophical point, but I would argue that it is of purely linguistic interest since, if we define our terms in what might be a more useful manner, it disappears.
I have the same sort of problem with your discussion of a creator and consciousness. If the universe is alive, and if it has a consciousness, then you can say that it has a creator (effectively itself, I suppose). But in order to make this argument, you have to turn “consciousness” into a bigger unknown than it is. I agree that we have unknowns about consciousness, but some things are not on the borderline of our understanding. I see no compelling reason to believe that the universe is conscious.
You are right that some primitive humans had religious beliefs, but to me this does not say that religion goes back to our origin as a species. I think this is a minor, technical point, though. You are right that there has probably been religion for as long as there has been what we could call people.
I agree that a lot of science is driven by commerce and ego, but I don’t know that this is a recent thing. I also agree that humans sometimes create things detrimental to our existence, but I think there’s a difference between what research finds and what we do with that research.
I’m not sure what you mean about having faith in the inexplicable. Your example about cell phones is a little lacking because cell phones are not inexplicable. At most, I have faith that whoever is running my cell phone company knows what they are doing, and this is a far cry from faith in the inexplicable.
You are right that technical progress does not imply that anything is proven. However, there are many areas of science where there is so much data that scientists treat a theory as proven.
I also disagree some of your points about evolution (or I’m misunderstanding your point). You say that chaos theory opposes progression from simple to complex forms. Do you mean thermodynamics? So far as I recall, chaos theory only says that we could never get enough data to predict how the system would develop, not that it would not become more complex.
I also disagree that systems should strive toward “simpler forms, ones having an easier time surviving.” Simpler things do not necessarily survive better.
Your questions about how a flower knows a bee will be attracted, etc., seem based on a false assumption. Who says that the flower knows anything? The theory of evolution is not goal oriented — flowers do not see the need to attract bees and therefore evolve a pleasant scent. I feel like you are creating mysteries where none are necessary.
When you say, “everything happens for a reason” and talk about a tsunami, you are mingling the words “cause” and “reason.” A cause does not imply a reason (although there may be a reason). As in other parts of your discussion, you are using a word that sometimes has implications of intelligence (reason or creator) when a purely mechanical word would suffice (cause) and using this to imply that the intelligence must therefore exist.
Unfortunately, your definition of omnipotence seems likewise murky to me, so I can’t agree with your conclusion that, without it, there would be nothing.