Getting some stuff off my chest….

I don’t think that science has disproven, nor even suggests, that it is unlikely that an Intelligent Designer was responsible for the world, and intended it to come into existence.

I don’t think that science has, nor even can, prove that divine and/or miraculous intervention is impossible.

I don’t think that the fact that we can make good predictive models of the world (and we can) in any way demonstrates that how the world has observedly panned out was not entirely foreseen and intended by some deity.

I  think the world has properties that make it perfectly possible for an Intelligent Deity to “reach in” and tweak things to her liking – and that even if it didn’t, it would still be perfectly possible, given Omnipotence, just as a computer programmer can reach in and tweak the Matrix.

I don’t think that science falsifies the idea of an omnipotent,omniscient deity – at all.

I think that only rarely has this even been claimed by scientists, and, of those, most of them were claiming that science has falsified specific claims about a specific deity, not the idea in principle of a deity.

I do think that the world is such that IF there is an omnipotent, omniscient deity, EITHER that deity does not have human welfare as a high priority OR she has very different ideas about what constitutes human welfare from the ones that most people hold (and as are exemplified, for example, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), OR she has deliberately chosen to let the laws of her created world play out according to her ordained rules, regardless of the effects of those laws on the welfare of human beings, perhaps trusting that we would value a comprehensible world more than one with major causal glitches.  In my case, her trust was well-placed.

I do think that the evidence we have is far more consistent with the idea that life and its origins are the result of processes consistent with others we see acting in the world, and not a result of some extraordinary intervention or series of extraordinary interventions, regardless of any question as to whether a benign or otherwise deity designed those processes with the expectation that life would be a probable or inevitable result.

I don’t think that it follows that, were we to find incontrovertible evidence of a Intelligent Creator (for instance, an unambiguous message in English configured in a nebula in some remote region of space, or on the DNA of an ant encased in amber millions of years ago) that that would mandate us in any way to worship that designer.  On the basis of her human rights record I’d be more inclined to summon her to The Hague.

I think that certain theological concepts regarding a benevolent deity useful, inspiring, entirely consistent with science, and may reflect reality.

I don’t myself, any more, believe in some external disembodied intelligent and volitional deity, simply because I am no longer persuaded that either intelligence or volition are possible in the absence of a material substrate.  But I do understand why people think this is false, and that consciousness, intelligence and volition are impossible, even in principle, to account for in terms of material/energetic processes, and I also understand that, although I think, for reasons that satisfy myself, that they are mistaken, the case is not an easy one to articulate, not least because of the intrinsically reflexive nature of cogitating on cogitation.

I think that “free will” is an ultimately incoherent concept; I think that the question “do we have free will?” is ill-posed, and ultimately meaningless.  I think the better question is: Do I have the ability to make informed choices for which I am morally responsible?” and I think the answer is clearly yes.

Anyone else want to unload?

 

605 thoughts on “Getting some stuff off my chest….

  1. “On the basis of her human rights record I’d be more inclined to summon her to The Hague.”

    Maybe this is a place of learning contrasts. We are suppose to experience good and evil.

    Or maybe it’s a prison.

    Or maybe it’s a colossal virtual reality game for bored supercosmic entities and you chose to be here, playing the game, as it were.

    Who the hell knows.

    But the limited facts we have at our disposal that might lead one to conclude that “She” deserves to be judged at the Hague could be very much mitigated if one of the above scenarios is true.

  2. bill,

    But the limited facts we have at our disposal that might lead one to conclude that “She” deserves to be judged at the Hague could be very much mitigated if one of the above scenarios is true.

    Any seemingly evil act, by anyone, might turn out to be the epitome of righteousness if certain scenarios turn out to be true.

    The question is whether we have any reason to think that they are.

    Theists like to point out that humans are puny, with limited intellect and knowledge, and that God might therefore be acting with the purest benevolence, but in a way that seems less than benevolent from our limited perspective. This is all true, but it cuts both ways. God might also be acting with perfect malevolence, but in a way that sometimes seems benevolent from our limited perspective.

    Either way, we have to do our best with the finite intellectual resources at our disposal, by picking a hypothesis that is internally consistent and best matches the evidence.

    The hypotheses that best fit the evidence are:

    1. God, if she exists, is neither perfectly benevolent or perfectly malevolent.
    2. God doesn’t exist at all.

    The hypothesis that God is perfectly benevolent (or perfectly malevolent) requires additional assumptions that we have no reason to make.

  3. bill:
    “On the basis of her human rights record I’d be more inclined to summon her to The Hague.”

    Maybe this is a place of learning contrasts. We are suppose to experience good and evil.

    Or maybe it’s a prison.

    Or maybe it’s a colossal virtual reality game for bored supercosmic entities and you chose to be here, playing the game, as it were.

    Who the hell knows.

    But the limited facts we have at our disposal that might lead one to conclude that “She” deserves to be judged at the Hague could be very much mitigated if one of the above scenarios is true.

    Your argument can be summarized as We humans are too damn stupid and/or ignorant to recognize God’s Goodness when we see it. This argument may even be true. But if it is true—if we humans genuinely cannot recognize God’s Goodness when we see it—on what possible grounds can Believers assert that God is Good? If it turns out that seemingly-Evil stuff is actually Good (except we’re too stupid/ignorant to see the truth), why isn’t seemingly-Good stuff actually Evil (except we’re too stupid/ignorant to see the truth)?

  4. “…on what possible grounds can Believers assert that God is Good? ”

    Maybe no grounds. Or maybe on the grounds that God only reveals his goodness to certain individuals and the rest are cursed because of prior bad acts before their human incarnation. The New Testament basically makes this assertion, such as when Jesus said, “no man can come to me except my Father brings him.” (Not that I necessarily believe this personally, but it is an explanation.) In other words, God has favorites, and if you’re not one of them, too bad.

    At any rate, my point is not to push any particular view (since I am up in the air myself), but to state that there are plausible scenarios of how there could be a creator(s) and how evil is justifiable. It doesn’t take that much imagination.

  5. bill,

    At any rate, my point is not to push any particular view (since I am up in the air myself), but to state that there are plausible scenarios of how there could be a creator(s) and how evil is justifiable. It doesn’t take that much imagination.

    As cubist and I both explained, it is just as easy to envision scenarios in which God is perfectly evil.

    Omnibenevolence is possible, as is omnimalevolence, but neither fits the evidence as well as the other two hypotheses I offered:

    1. God, if she exists, is neither perfectly benevolent or perfectly malevolent.
    2. God doesn’t exist at all.

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