Is there a God?
thoughtful ideas on life's big questions
Comments on pages in the Clues section.
I like this website.Yes jesus is alive .I too saw his beautiful and tender hands in my vision.
Good article. My problem is how to match the big bang theory with what is said in the Bible about creation. It’s possible that someone gets confused and thinks that genesis books are all a fairy tale.
Hi Bonasi, thanks. What do you think Genesis 1-3 should be seen as?
I am a Messianic rabbi, and I would love to hear from you on this also! Is there a proof of God? Yes. Nobody has ever proved the Bible wrong. Please write to me if you have an issue with the Word of God and you think there is an errant fact. My proof that there is God is simple. As a Jew, who believes in Jesus our Messiah, Lord, and God, the Bible prophecies, in over 360 prophecies, that our Messiah, God in the flesh, was to come exactly when, where, why, and how He came 2014 years ago. He came as God said (Isaiah 9:6, Daniel 9:24-27, Isaiah 7:14, and Micah 5:2 in particular). He said that He was God and proved it. In John 1, the Bible says that Jesus is the Word and that all things were created through him and by him. Jesus proved that He was God by bringing people back from the dead, healing them, curing them of blindness and many other diseases. He said that He would come back from the dead in three days, and He did. He lived for another 40 days on earth and then ascended into the sky before over 500 people, saying that He would come back as He left, from clouds of Heaven. The Big Bang theory is a contradiction to thermodynamics which says that matter cannot spontaneously generate itself. In other words, matter cannot not create itself, from nothing. Only God can do that. God is eternal. He always was. The Bible starts off by saying, “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth.” God, in the form of a man, Jesus, came to live with us on earth, showing Himself to us and showing us how to live and to love. Please write to me so we can further talk if you are interested. There is so much proof of God and none of the Big Bang without God. How can perfect order and life come from a big explosion that came from nothing? Impossible. The only reasons we have the “THEORIES” of the Big Bang and Evolution, is because people do not want to admit that there is a God. They do not want to believe in God simply because they do not want to follow his rules, called commandments. The word for law in Hebrew is תורה or Torah, which simply means teaching. God came to teach us how to live, so we could be at peace with each other. When we violate this teaching on how to live with each other, just look at the news today and see where a “godless” world is leading us. Be blessed. May the love and peace of Jesus/Yeshua be with you always and forever.
Hi David, welcome! It is wonderful to meet a Messianic Rabbi! I have visited your website, and there were some good things there.
I agree with many of the things you have written here, and I don’t really want to get into an argument with you about the things where we don’t agree. So I will just be brief.
There are many people who think they have proved the Bible wrong at some point. Whether they are right, or you are, is a matter of debate. I don’t think there is anywhere in the Bible where the Word of God is specifically equated with the Bible, and many places where it clearly isn’t. Again, we may debate what that means.
I don’t think the big bang explanation entails creation out of nothing. I think it starts with an enormous amount of energy, some of which becomes matter in time. Science cannot explain how that initial energy got there out of nothing, and I agree with you that God is the best explanation – probably the only explanation. Perhaps some people believe in the big bang to escape believing in God, but I don’t think that would be logical, and many people (such as me) accept the big bang even though we believe in God, because it seems to be the best explanation of the facts.
Best wishes, and thanks for visiting.
Discovery of the God, Big Bang & Evolution:
Science very exciting for a religion & a nation- is there a no conflict between science and religious through that physical nature of the Universe.
See into- about 5 years ago comments- Shahidur Rahman Sikder at http://science.jrank.org/pages/840/Big-Bang-Theory-evolution-Universe.html
The Big Bang and evolution ARE real but they were carried out by God, says the Pope as he embraces modern science
Pope: The most important news- about the God, Big Bang & Evolution at https://plus.google.com/104669722445739033329/posts/MQ9wQejCRLQ
See- God or Dark Energy, Big Bang, Evolution and Early Universe, My DEMO Final https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYcnbwUKUEM New Discovery of the Universe: can be found at http://lnkd.in/Sn6wPK the Universe creation or creator or religious- can be found at http://t.co/OQDPbAg
What created God? Why is God always thought of as “HE”? If it is ever proved that there is a God it is more likely to be an “IT”.
Hi John, thanks for reading and commenting. I’d be interested to hear your answers to these questions. Here are mine ….
1. No-one. God has always existed. Or more accurately, God is timeless.
2. Personal pronouns are tricky. We only have male (he), female (she) and non-personal (it). We don’t have one for non-gender specific but personal, which is what I think God is. So he is often used because most societies have traditionally been patriarchal. But I think God is personal but not gendered, for which we have no pronoun.
3. Does that mean you think God is non-personal?
A mysterious new form of energy seems to make up most of the universe. Where did the universe come from? Did the Universe Come from Nothing?
Answering of the question:
Modern Big Bang Theory: On reflection of Big Bang theory such as; “Beginning of the creation a part of the power of the nature/God became divisible as a result of the big bang”. At the time of the beginning of the creation or from the absolute zero of time or from the big black hole or from the Nature or From the God, part of the power of the Nature/God became divisible as a result of the big bang. The part of energy had been divided in the beginning of creation from the large field of energy, which is below 50% of total energy. In the most of natural power reserved in Nature or big black hole or the God from which, the world of gravitation become influenced. See at https://shahidurrahmansikder.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/big-bang/
Hi thanks for visiting and commenting, but do you mind if I ask you a question?
In answering questions like this, do you think we should have reasons and evidence before we offer an answer? or do you think we can just say whatever we think?
I really appreciated your article and thoughts, especially “I believe that creation by God is more
reasonable than either of the other options”. I TOTALLY agree with you.
Please permit me to give you some back ground about myself. I was born and raised in a Lutheran environment. I am still a member of a Lutheran church however because of health issues (and others) I no longer attend.
I believe there is a God who created the Universe. I believe that more from my observations while working as a chemist in a research laboratory, and after retirement from my online research. Several years ago I started to do research into the origin of the Universe and life. It has been a most interesting “ride”. The more I read, the more I became convinced, as you have, that there are many holes in many of the scientific theories. Especially the “inflation theory”. Most cosmologists seem to go to great lengths to avoid accepting God as the creator. They admit that the Universe cannot be as “flat” as it is solely by chance (and the list goes on and on). And they certainly don’t explain how atomic particles can be made (at least not to my satisfaction.)
UnkleE, I fear I have taken up too much of your time. Thanks again for starting this “forum”.
I would be most pleased to hear your thoughts and continue this communication.
I’m glad you found the page(s) you read interesting. Thanks for commenting. You certainly haven’t taken up too much time – I too am retired from full time work and enjoy the opportunity to discuss.
I think it is natural that scientists try to find explanations apart from God – that is after all the role of science. We no longer consider things like thunder or eclipses to be supernatural, so it is good to test the boundaries of the natural. My disagreement is when science has no explanation and it seems it principle that it cannot – then we should reasonably accept the possibility of a supernatural explanation.
People say this is “God of the gaps”, but I have no problem with that. We go with the best explanation we have until a better one is found. But inevitably, when we find a natural explanation for something we previously thought was supernatural, that just pushes back the boundary one step.
So I think, as you know, that the existence and design of the universe both reveal truth that points to God.
I much appreciate your response to my post.
Regarding the role of science – It seems we agree for the most part, however, there may be some slight differences. To me science is a field of human endeavor to search for an understanding of all biological, chemical, and physical things that interests homo sapiens. And an essential part of science is to verify the purported findings of knowledge. The knowledge that science has provided to us is mind-boggling. Along the way theories are tested and retested. The difficulty (especially with theoretical physics) is that some (many) theories are accepted as “near” fact without adequate verification. One such theory in my opinion is the “inflation theory”. There are just too many questions. Enough, I could go on about this theory for some time. I currently do not accept it.
There are SOOOooo many things we still do not know. And frankly, there are many questions that scientists throw under the table and ignore. I suspect that is done in part because those questions would raise many questions about “how” and “why” which then raises the question about a creator. Discussions about a creator is a no no for atheists.
Oh yes – “God of the gaps”. Atheists try to lay that onto theists. Not to say that isn’t true for some cases, but not all. I don’t feel I am “using” the “God of the gaps” every time science does not have a answer. In fact, it is from what I KNOW that convinces me there is a God. That showed itself numerous times in the lab.
To quote your excellent thought – “So I think, as you know, that the existence and design of the universe both reveal truth that points to God.” I say YES!!!! In my opinion, not only points to there being a God but all the cosmological evidence proves it.
Have a GREAT Day!
“Our eyes are the mirror of God – he created us to see himself.”
Thanks John, I like that.
may i have one or two scientists or more to discuss with me about these TOPICS: what is life? What is its origin? watsup line 0964486955
Hi Festus, I don’t suppose there are many scientists likely to read this blog. If you want a scientific opinion, you may be better trying a science blog.
As a new christian, this has become one of my favorite sites from the first visit. Fantastic information, would love to see a book on all this out of you!
Hi Alex, thanks again for your encouragement. It is nice to meet a new christian. I have thought about turning it all into a book, even just an ebook that could be downloaded for free. I have done a few trials of using software to do that, but I haven’t got around to making it happen. One day perhaps! 🙂
A satisfying and comforting read.
I did not know research goes dark before the single cell. A mysterious blueprint much too complex to come naturally where natural selection cannot apply – I, as uneducated in the matter as I may be, will still push that there must be a large gap of natural occurrences leading to cell division. But even in this day and age, the complex blueprints within us have me consider the idea of a designer nonetheless. This is why I found myself to this website, searching what it means to have discovered DNA – Information storing and transferring not commonly liken to organic processes by people who do not study and learn biology.
The Christian religion is based on selfishness and elimination of opposing ideas. Any evidence of a designer I will not address as the Christian god, or a god at all. A designer of that complexity implies that we cannot begin to fathom the truth.
The Psychedelic “drug” DMT expanded my mind on the matter as well. As it is naturally occurring, I don’t classify it along side recreational drugs such as marijuana or alcohol since the experience is a complete transportation of self, with the mind completely intact.
When the initial trip is over, you are left in what is a complex skeletal design of the room you’re in. It’s as if everything is being synthesized back to normal.
I don’t believe that we can understand the truth behind our current existence. The religions we know represent only what we can perceive without extensive scientific research. At least, I have not discovered yet any religion that does integrate current scientific discoveries into it’s belief system. Perhaps it would not be called a religion, and is just belief in science.
There are some metaphysical beliefs I feel strongly about, though I believe it might actually only apply to our current world in it’s state.
Hi Maybelle, thanks for reading, and letting me know some of your ideas. I agree that DNA is fascinating and complex. I have been studying it a little because it is relevant to family history as well as questions about the human race and God.
I feel the christian religion has often been very unfaithful to the teachings of Jesus, as you say, but I do believe Jesus teaches us truth. I agree with you that we can’t understand God much by ourselves, but I believe Jesus gives us information about God that we couldn’t get any other way.
Some modern day christians and churches have integrated science and religion, even though others haven’t, and there are websites and organisations devoted to bringing the two together. You might be interested in these: BioLogos and Science and Belief.
Thanks again for reading and commenting.
Oh no, don’t agree with me. Whatever is out there that we can’t understand – it’s not god. Whatever it is, we may never fathom it but there is something much bigger than we are and I don’t believe it’s someone determining our fates by our deeds, etc.
It may start to go beyond what we may call science, but I truly believe it is not divine. Those beliefs were created to comfort those who feel alone & need some divine parent to make them feel loved. So many people have this need to believe, to hope in something great and beautiful although the world itself already is.
Hi Maybelle, it’s not common to find someone asking me not to agree with them! 🙂
But I have to agree with you that what is out there we can’t understand, but then disagree because I think it IS God. Maybe it is true that some people need a divine parent to feel loved, but that doesn’t mean the divine parent isn’t there. It may be that just as our hunger points us to food, so our need points us to God.
You have a lovely site & it is nice to speak with you. Thank you for the website recommendations.
Thank you Maybelle, and best wishes to you.
Very interesting question, possibly the most important question for our species. On the scientific approach to understanding consciousness, I see it like this. Science is a great tool, and has helped us in so many ways. But when it comes to consciousness I think science is out of it’s depth. It like you have a leaky tap in the back yard, the solution is to put a bucket underneath it and it catches the water, problem solved, by science. However, if a storm suddenly arrives, with heavy downpours, and intense winds scattering the water everywhere, and some lightning adding danger to the situation. Is the bucket of any use any more to catch the water? Obviously not, the science of the bucket is no longer of any use. The storm to the bucket is like consciousness to science, it is overwhelmed and cannot resolve the issue. It (science) is dealing with something outside of it’s control (consciousness). Try as you might (with the bucket) you will not catch the water from the storm, it is too complex a situation. But scientists, keep trying if you wish. The person who said, there is a fundamental problem with how we are trying to resolve the consciousness issue has he correct view.
Hello, this is Tom. I was born and raised christian but in the past year have been seeking answers
to the “does god exist” question. I have listened to hours of debates between theists and atheists,
including christian apologist, William Lane Craig and atheist- scientist, Lawrence Krauss.
Although the arguments on both sides make sense, I am still not convinced one way or the other.
Dr. Craig, after putting forth his 5 or 6 logical arguments for God’s existence concludes that the
more “reasonable world view” is theism, not atheism.
Professor Krauss, on the other hand, maintains that just because science has not yet provided an
explanation for a particular phenomenon or event, that to say, god is responsible, is unreasonable. He further goes on to argue that there are some things that science may never be able to explain, and he’s ok with that.Does it trouble him that he may take his last breath not having ever received the answers to some of life’s major questions? Absolutely.
Aside from making intelligent and logical arguments for the existence of a “god”, and despite the
“reasonableness” of the arguments, can we ever know “for sure ” that a god or gods exist?
I maintain that we cannot, and that we will not know until we pass from this life.
If this makes any sense, then my question is, do you think a position of agnosticism is reasonable? If it turns out that a god or gods exist and that there is an after life, will it be held against me for being honest with myself and taking the agnostic position?
Should I be penalized for not having faith in a god who I honestly “could not know” whether or not he exists?
Hi Tom, thanks for writing. I appreciate your questions and your dilemma. Obviously I am not God and so cannot tell you “for sure” what he thinks, but I can offer you my perspective as someone who has grappled with these questions for more than 50 years.
“Aside from making intelligent and logical arguments for the existence of a “god”, and despite the “reasonableness” of the arguments, can we ever know “for sure ” that a god or gods exist?”
I agree that we can never know “for sure”, but then, there is very little we can have certainty about. This might all be a dream of a computer simulation, we can’t know “for sure”, but none of us really believes that. So I think it is reasonable to say we should look for logical probability, and then live with that practical belief.
And I think logical probability about God can come from the cumulative strength of the following:
1. The philosophical arguments (there are about 4 that I find convincing).
2. Our understanding of what it feels like to be human – rational, ethical, freely choosing, conscious, loving people.
3. The life of Jesus, his teachings, his apparent miracles, and the impact he made on his followers.
4. People’s apparent experience of God through guidance, comfort, visions and miraculous healings.
I have summarised these reasons briefly in Why believe?, and more fully in Is there a God?, and I think they show that it is much more likely that God exists than that he doesn’t.
Put simply, atheism, naturalism, whatever we want to call it, cannot explain many of these things I have mentioned. From what you say, Lawrence Krauss doesn’t have an explanation, he’s just not happy with WL Craig’s explanation. (I attended a live debate between the two in Sydney, and it seemed there that Lawrence didn’t have any good arguments, and so he tried to take the debate out of evidence and into emotion and assertion.) But the test of a hypothesis is what it can explain, so atheism fails as a hypothesis, in my opinion, compared to theism.
“do you think a position of agnosticism is reasonable? “
We each can only go with the evidence as we see it, so if you think that agnosticism is the best or only option, then you should go with it. But I regard it as an unsatisfactory option in the long term. GK Chesterton once said: “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”
So I think agnosticism is an honest and right position for as long as we can hold no other view, but I personally wouldn’t be happy to stay there forever. It is a little like refusing to vote in an election because we don’t like either of the candidates. But surely, one candidate is not as bad as the other, and therefore we should vote for the lesser of two evils?
Likewise, I think that eventually it is better to choose one of the competing worldviews than to stay uncommitted – better psychologically, and in the end more likely to lead to truth. After all, something must be true, so choosing theism or atheism has at least some probability of being true, whereas agnosticism doesn’t even attempt to be true.
So like I said at before, I think you should go where you think honesty compels, but I would hope you would keep looking for a worldview that has the best probability of being true.
“If it turns out that a god or gods exist and that there is an after life, will it be held against me for being honest with myself and taking the agnostic position?
Should I be penalized for not having faith in a god who I honestly “could not know” whether or not he exists?”
This is the question I can only offer an uncertain opinion on. I believe God judges us according to the light we have been given, and according to the integrity of our motives. There are places where the Bible suggests that, and it seems reasonable.
But Jesus said if we want to find the truth, we must “keep on seeking”, so I think part of the right attitude God is looking for is someone who keeps on seeking. So again, I hope you don’t stop where you are now – and I don’t think you are, otherwise why would you write this comment?
My suggestion is to read a good book by a historian about Jesus that breaks some of the christian wrong ideas you may have grown up with – I suggest Richard Bauckham’s Jesus: a very short introduction – it is short, easy to read, very good, and easy to order online. Then I suggest reading the gospel of Luke, with the new understandings you get from Bauckham, asking yourself, could I follow this man even if he wasn’t the son of God? If you could, then you have a start, and perhaps in time you will come to believe he was the son of God too. And if you couldn’t give any credence or loyalty to him as a human being, then he is never going to be son of God to you, and you can start looking elsewhere for truth.
If you do this, you will be continuing to search, and if God exists as I believe, he will maybe show you more clearly.
Please feel free to discuss, either here on the blog comments, or by email – there is a link in the menu bar. I hope this all helps.
For those that believe ‘God’ created the universe, what is the logical argument that there is only one god ? As one who might be called a naturalist, I think it is just as logical to believe there is only one god as believing that there could be many (or infinite numbers of) gods who started the entire ball of wax.
I like the logical discussion presented, but I don’t think the debate is limited to : there is a singular god or there is not…
Hi, thanks for reading and for your thoughts.
I agree with you, arguments for the existence of God based on the creation of the universe could work equally well for several gods. Perhaps simplicity suggests one God is more likely, but that’s not much of an argument.
My view is that the case for the existence of God, and the nature of that God, is cumulative, and each argument adds a little to the picture. The naturalistic arguments take us so far, but for me the nature of God is mainly established by revelation. I believe the historical evidence points to Jesus being divine, and it is from him that I get monotheism rather than polytheism.
Sociologist Rodney Stark, analysing the rise of christianity, has argued for the superiority of monotheism over polytheism, but that is more based on what works rather than what is true.
A paper by Paramahamsa Tewari titled, Structural Relation Between the Vacuum Space and the Electron, presented a theory that the electron is the first fundamental particle created in space through the transformation of energy. His theory enabled the calculation of many properties of the electron, such as its mass and charge. By examining the Periodic Table of Atomic Numbers, a conception of how the universe began surfaces. The table reveals that the electron intimately exists in the formation of atoms, which are the building blocks of inorganic and organic matter. It may therefore be reasoned that the electron is key in the creation of all matter. For further information about creation of the electron and if it began the creation of the universe, read the article presented on the link:
What if God wore gloves and intended not to leave his fingerprints ? i.e. to allow us to find Lawrence Krauss”s solution to be the simplest.
“Though one thousand fall at your right side it shall not touch you”…….but it touched many who relied on this prayer from the Psalms. So say the prayer and wait for the divine heads or tails to see your fate.
Sorry your comments took so long to appear. When someone comments for the first time, WordPress requires that I approve them before they appear. I thought I’d done that, but I hadn’t, I’m sorry.
I don’t find Lawrence Krauss’s conclusions about God to be at all simple, what do you think is simple?
Agreed Krauss’s argument is not simple. what I am trying to get at is what will theists do if someday science has the better of it and is able to present a cogent argument that matter is its own reason for being? i.e. the explanatory gap is closed with a shutout win for science.
Why does God have to leave clues / fingerprints ? Perhaps he chose to “wear gloves” and remain hidden ?
Hi John, interesting questions.
I’m doubtful that science can ever answer all the questions. Even if science gets to “a cogent argument that matter is its own reason for being” (which I don’t think is a thing science can even do in principle), then we could always ask “but why?” We can always conceive of ways things could be different, and then ask why not one of those ways?
So I don’t think the explanatory gap can ever (and I mean ever) closed, for we can always ask “why?”. As a God believer, I don’t believe God is the ultimate end-point answer, because we can always ask “What if God wasn’t there?” (Philosophically, if God is a necessary being, then there was no other possibility, but we can always ask if he necessarily had to be necessary!?) So we’ll never have all the answers, and we just have to choose the best explanation and the best place to stop the chain of explanations. I think God is the best explanation and the best place to stop the chain of explanation, and I think the universe is a highly unsatisfactory place to stop the explanations.
I think God leaves clues rather than obvious evidence because he has chosen to give us choice, and too much evidence or too little evidence and our choices are too constrained. And because I see so much evidence for God, I don’t think he has chosen to remain hidden.
This is so odd…I was just thinking last week that something happened that is incomprehensible to man as to what caused the Big Bang but I was also thinking that maybe someday, science will figure it all out. At this moment , it is simply beyond anything we are able to understand . So maybe in order to find a rationale explanation for something that cannot be understood, man invented God…..It wouldn’t be the first time that man has assigned a supernatural explanation for something that he couldn’t explain rationally…..
Hi Eric, it appears to be true that people are prone to see agency, including supernatural agency, in all sorts of phenomena. We hear a noise in our house at night and wonder if it might be a robber. Someone has a significant dream and they wonder if God was speaking to them.
The question is: what does this tell us? It could be that people invented God out of these experiences. It could also be that God made us this way so we can be aware of him. My pick is the second.
sure…There could be a god or gods…..I am not a scientist but my understanding is that if time started with the Big Bang, then scientific theory has an idea what happened a second (or a few seconds ) later after the Big Bang ….However, at this point in human history, we seem to be clueless as to what happened before that initial ‘second’, so absolutely anything is possible within the constraints of Scientific Laws (some of which we may not comprehend or be aware of)
God(s), UFOs, Extra-Terrestrials, Satan, Demons, Angels, etc. are all part of the same Human created concepts. We can choose to believe it we wish, however, while believing may give us something to lean on, it doesn’t make them real. My view is, it’s more practical to believe in things that can be proven or dis-proven, otherwise we could all end up believing in many new fantasies created in the future.
Another concept we must also take on board, is that “if there is a God”, we can’t assume that he is especially there for us humans. We can’t assume that we own God. We are only only one species out of millions that exist on the planet earth. Do Bears have a Bear God, do butterfly’s have a butterfly God. And, we have just been around for a short while given the age of the Universe. What about all the other extinct species, what about other planets and the possibility of life on those. do those also have their God? We cannot assume that God’s existence is purely for us Humans. If he has to leave signs, messages, and miracles for all species he must be very busy.
My understanding is that the Butterfly God is weak and puny……..
Something happened to kick the whole universe off and its unlikely we will have an answer soon. Personally, I lack the faith that there is anything beyond this lifetime for any of us ; That not withstanding, I do believe that there is morality and a code in which we should live our life and how we should treat others… In fact, there seems to be some school of thought that that Jesus was exposed and possibly studied Buddhism in depth in his ‘missing’ years ( Buddhists were sending out missionaries 600 years before Christ and had a solid footprint in his area). So I try to be good and not commit ‘sin’, because it makes me feel good with myself when I go to bed each night. There is much about religion (all religion) that simply defies any kind of logic.
Another interesting theory, is that the big picture is not just composed of Humans, The Sun, The Moon, The Universe, and God, but is instead a massive entity comprised of various forms of Energy, Waves (light, etc.), Particles, Gravity, Magnetism, Bacteria, Biological Organisms, etc. and that we humans are just one part of that massive entity. This theory also proposed that Humans may not even be capable of comprehending concepts such as How the Universe was Created, Who Owns it, Controls it, Manages it, Operates it, etc. This theory compares us to a Leaf on a Tree, i.e. we come into existence, we Live, we Decay, and we Die. Does the Leaf need to understand how everything works, do we? Difficult to answer.
Sorry but anything physical let alone biologic does not exist as anything except sub atomic energy. Except in your mind as what Einstein referred to as an Optical Delusion. It’s all just a virtual reality created by the binaric decoding of the firing of synapses ON and OFF just like a computer created a virtual reality of ONE and ZERO…. nothing exists physical and crept in that small portion of consciousness you refer to as a physical mind. It is not. It is just sub atomic energy like everything else you may perceive of as a physical universe.
James…..I don’t believe you are responding to me, but your last post isn’t particularly or especially clear to a layman…Assuming your point is valid, you probably need to ‘dumb it down’ so most of can try and understand the point you are trying to make…….I had to read it three times and I ‘think’ I understand your point (but maybe not)……..just saying
Science told us a long time ago that EVERYTHING in the universe including us and our brain tissue is actually composed of protinscekectrons and neutrons further broken down into charms and muons and bosons etc. Physical is just a perception not a reality. Based on this fact that we are made of the same stuff as everything else, Einstein pointed out that mankind is under the Optical Delusion that we are separate from the universe. Further to that synapses operate under a simple binary system of Off and On. Just like the zone and Zero that a computer creates its own virtual reality that has only an appearance of physicality even though there is no actual substance to it. I took that one step further realizing that the OFFS and the ZEROS are nothing. That means we are a singularity of ONES or ONS that vibrate at frequencies we might call angstroms for the sights and decibels for the sounds of this illusion of a perception of a physical reality that does not exist.
James (the other James) all evidence points to your theory (energy, neurons, etc.) being correct. We cannot dispute the fact that everything is composed of atoms and energy in various states. The fact that they appear to us in various visual states (including ourselves) is an interesting curiosity. How and Why is something of a mystery.
I can picture a scene a couple thousand years ago where a Roman citizen is running through a rainstorm and gets zapped by lightning and dies…And all the friends say “one of the Gods got angry at him for not making a sacrifice,and threw down a lightening bolt to punish him….I don’t know how realistic this was ( did they really believe in all the different gods), but at the time Romans didnt have the knowledge or technology to know ‘the how and the why of it’… Now today we know how lightning is created and why it takes the path it does….the Roman was in the wrong place at the wrong time….SO here we are again contemplating the origins of the universe and we don’t have the knowledge or technology to answer ‘the how and why of it……I believe there is a pretty good possibility that if you ask my descendants in a few thousand years that the may very well know the answer….
of course there will always be mechanisms that are discoverable ” behind” whatever we experience and however we experience. Nonetheless May our experience of physicality still have meaning for us ? May we choose to rejoice in being made a little less than the angels ?
James and John Connor . The fact that we are a virtual reality and not a physical reality. Does not change the fact that within this “closed system” our perceived physical laws apply. However since this is a creation and we are created and given the ability to control our characters from outside this closed system in accordance with the laws of physics, is proven because we can choose to turn left or right or stop or go regardless of what the universal laws impel us to do once our perception of our own creation has been entered into the virtual reality creation. That is why the observer makes a difference in quantum mechanics because before it is entered into the physical perception it can be changed, once it has come into existence and been observed it is part of the closed system of the PAST which no longer exists and cannot be changed. The future also does not yet exist. The bible says this about the past future and present… now we have FAITH in memories of a past forever gone zero existence. Now we have HOPE for a future not yet existing zero existence only now ONE exists ones and zeros we use to create NOWs like a computer creates a virtual reality. now one is presented as the LOVE part of the bible expression because to make a better now the tool of love uses patience kindness non envious ness not arrogant but based on truth and right. Of the ones and zeroes only ones exist so we are a Singularity creating now which is the only time that exists… it is hard to fathom the ramifications that are entailed by this concept that only now exists and the physical perception is gone and past before we even are able to recognize it existed because the observation is not comprehended in time to k own it exists before it has already passed into oblivion. It’s over. We can only react to things that no longer are now. It is hard to express let alone comprehend all the ramifications it entails .. sorry for taking this so deep…?but it does not change the fact that this pereception of reality we exist within must adhere to and abide by those rules we call the laws of physics ….. once they have been committed they into the now and the closed system of physical perception …. until then we have the ability to CHOOSE!
One thing more the bible concept applies here when God says choose this day or NOW who you will serve, because only NOW exists once you have committed your action you cannot change it…. but you can make a better new NOW if you make a mistake by admitting you made a mistake and by not making that same mistake in you next NOWs.
Hi James, your comment (the one including reference to quantum physics) is very true, and also very interesting. Even allowing for that, it does brings us back to the age old question “What’s it all about”. One could of course also ask, why does it need to be about anything, why can’t things just be the way they are, without having any particular reason. However, this is where one of our Human weakness (let’s just call it that for now) arises, we feel there must be a reason. But will we ever know?
Descartes tells us what it’s all about “I think therefore I AM” I thought about being made in the image of God and I thought, what would I do if I was the only thing that existed…. Borrrring… so I would create something to entertain me… but Eventually I would feel Lonnnnnely.. so I would create someone to have fellowship with. But live must be freely given so slaves robots and puppets would not cut it. We are created in the image of god for a reason. Go to Maslow what do we need that god does not need? Just the food shelter and security.. but what about love belonging purpose esteem and self actualization and self ascendancy needs. God has those needs. God told Moses tell them I AM has sent you what was Descartes I AM? An expression of simple self awareness. The BIG BANG THEORY then becomes … I AM… but then the explosion of thoughts. What where why how who AM I and the unlimited exponential thoughts that explore the possibilities attendant with those questions. That is how we create this. Virtual reality with the firing of synapses on off one zero… the frequency of those ones can then be decoded into angstroms and decibels represented as the sights and sounds of our existence. The purpose of life is to fulfill those needs of existence .
Could the quantum world be a necessary substrate for the macro world to exist in the image of God. Is superposition a prerequisite for free will ?
Additional in my research results- The Infinite/Creator/Allah/God not exist but we found the Infinite/Allah/God partially. Such as- existence of the Allah/God/Creator is in everything at all i.e. the Infinite/Allah/God is omnivorous i.e. at the root of Allah or God or Creator is everything at all in the universe. Again, we found the influence of gravitational force or universal ray; it proves the partial division of dark energy or black body. Everything is the presence of singular dimension, the last position of matter in artificial experiment and we found the result by evolution/variable of him/her part such as in physics.
Coming soon my Book is- In Titled: “Real brief History of the Universe”. World-wide people- Found out- Communications Physics are finally- before the Big Bang. Swiftly- people found the Universe creation and creator and religious finally- a religion a nation. Found out- The Structure of Sketch of the Universe and Amazing facts about the Universe.
Without a substrate what would we base our perception of reality on? For example a dream has no need for physical trees or water or people to experience them. The same as a virtual reality creation does not need the physical construct to experience them. But am AWARENESS of I think therefore I AM must exist. What is that awareness based on in terms of the concept of the firing of synapses that create ones and zeros from their on and offs. We can then take those ones and zeros and create a perception of reality based on the frequency they exist on. That would be the substrate of energy we create the perceptions on and out of. But I realized the zeros and offs do not exist so we are a singularity of ons or ones that are continually creating new NOWs which is all that exists. Once again the essence of the singularity as past and future NOWs do not exist as they are now zeros.
James (II) all of what you say is true, but it also leads to an interesting question. If we assume that the substrate (or ones and Zeros) of everything is all that really exists, and the rest is illusion or perception, how do we explain things like personality, opinions, likes, dislikes, compassion, depression, talent, etc. We all have the same Nervous System, the same Brain Structure, the same Synaptic structure, the same Neuron architecture, and basically the same Ones and Zeros. How then do we account for differences in people, whether it’s skill, talent, opinions, preferences, etc. Is this perhaps something that is special, that cannot be accounted for in terms of Ones and Zeros. Perhaps this is where the real mystery lies, and perhaps also where we should focus our investigative efforts. Certainly something I find very interesting.
I think therefore I exist but you may be and are just a character in my existence, why? Because I/ we are a singularity. We had a Rastafarian friend who said in Jamaica you would say “I and I are going down the road for a cuppa” the Beatles lyrics say, “ I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together”
Einstein said Mankind is under the Optical Delusion that he is separate from the universe” but we are made of that same substrate as the universe, subatomic electromagnetic energy forces. All the personalities are just different aspects of the same singularity. We are not God as solipsism May suggest but we are all creations of the same God. Like Jim Carey expresses Jim Carey is just another character he plays. Another concept is people where many different hats. Father son friend employee employer customer husband uncle nephew… all the same person but all different to who they are relating to. I don’t relate to my wife in the same way I relate to my son.. 2 completely different characters but the same person. God the singularity is all of us. And yet we are all individual creations.
I agree with your comments, but I also have a slight variation on one aspect. The very fact that you (or I) can alter some things at will, such as the relationships between different people, would appear to give us control over some events as distinct from just being bit players in some large physical process being played out?
If I accept that the ultimate substrate of my experience is subatomic electromagnetic energy, does that warrant the conclusion that “all personalities are just different aspects of the same singularity.” This conclusion sounds more like a philosophical premise/conclusion of eastern thought: a type of modalism that perceives differences in persons as separate modes of being the same thing. I think it is fine to draw such a conclusion but I think there are other conclusions falling on the side of a non modal – individuality that are just as valid.
Actually John Connor, it was Einstein’s observation that mankind is under the Optical Delusion that he is separate from the universe. That is a quote.
The evidence supports that indeed we are a singularity of the one apart from the zero in what we mistakenly refer to as a binary system. Zero is nothing therefore you are left with the one. One plus one in the binary system is three 11 nothing plus one is 2 010etc. But we just use the one where the one is determines its value. 101010 then becomes 32 plus 8 plus 2 = 42 just ones and nothing’s but because of the position of the ones we perceive or define them as 42… we could now also define 42 as a colour or a sound something vibrating at a certain rate of. Ones and zeros we can define as angstroms giving us all the colours of the rainbow, or sounds can be defined based on different vibratory rates. But it is all based on the ons of the binary system. BUT these ons do not stick around. They go off and disappear into the past. All that exists is the current on. The single on of now.. another binary system expression only this time exist not exist exist then not exist but only now exist as the one singularity. Anything other than the exist the now the one the on, does not exist making anything except the ONE or Singularity, an Optical Delusion. What is Solopsism again !
I was just looking at my hand and if I do not move it, I thought it is still there. But then I realized it is NOT still there because of the time dimension. It is gone into the past even as I see it. It also is in a different place as we circle the sun and Milky Way etc. Then I thought about Schrodingers cat . I dont know if my hand is there even relative to my own place in space because I may have moved it but I won’t know until I actually have moved it and by then it could be anywhere. Funny how such ideas pop into my head just by looking at my hand and realizing it is not what or where it appears to be at any perceived time or place.
I must stop now but I leave you with this last revelation I came to. TIME is the variable that determines the off and ons if the firing is one for 4 NOWs then goes off for 3 NOWs then fires for 2 NOWs you end up with 11100011 .. I have not had time to Concorde the ramifications of this revelation .. it was revealed to me that it is lunch time and I am hungry… ciao… chow.. hahaha
1 the big Bang started with the first conscious aware thought of I AM
2 that thought started the expansion of questions and possible answers. Who am I what am I where am I why am I.
3 we are created in the image of God. Meaning not the physical image needing food shelter and security. But the needs of love belonging purpose esteem self ascendancy.
You need to create another person because a puppet Slave or Robot cannot love.
Therefore we must be free to choose to love goodness or it would be meaningless thus God must allow evil in order to allow love.
We create a perception of reality using the on off. Binary system we call the firing of synapses… just like computers create virtual reality and artificial intelligence with ones and zeroes.
Having said all that stuff about life being a virtual reality and not physical as we imagine. It makes absolutely no difference whatsoever in the purpose of life itself. The purpose of life is to experience it and learn from it .. experience is the best teacher and god/creator must allow his creation to learn how to be his equal to have a relationship with it.
I am an agnostic. I have come to see and believe that the gospels are a point of view being put forward by a particular believing community based on the oral traditions it has accepted about Jesus.. The human element in what has been reduced to writing is essential. It is the human contribution and my changing life experience that prompts my agnosticism. If I choose to I am able to live a life of commitment as well as one of healthy doubt.
John that is why my online alias is A God for the Atheist.. it can also be a God for the Agnostic… god is defined as creator and ruler. The laws of conservation and of energy and Newton’s laws of motion show that the universe is our creator and ruler. By definition that makes the universe our god.
As you may have noticed my beliefs can stray into the area of solopsism as well considering my proof that even the firing of synapses makes our existence the on off or one zero of the binary system and the zero does not exist making us a singularity if the on which in itself is a singularity of the present on as past and future ons do not exist in the NOW. I am trying to write a book about the meaning of life based on these principles.
Personally any written information from the bible to peanuts comic strip to the wisdom of Stan lee stand or fail based on their content when taken in the true context regardless of who said those words.
Why would you think Good is personal? I don’t use personal pronouns in the mention of the name of God simply because they are human and not in the same league as God. The bible,quran, and every other document of religious doctrine was penned by man, regardless of the amount of influence attributed by God. The Constitution of the United States was also said to have been influenced by God, but it doesn’t make it “divine”.
I think God is personal for several reasons.
(1) If not personal, then what? The only alternative I can see is like a giant machine or a force, neither of which seems to allow choice. Without choice, such a God would be at the mercy of whatever blind forces control it, and that would hardly be God.
(2) Some of the reasons to believe in God suggest a personal character. So the universal design argument suggests God is a designer = choice. The moral argument suggests God is moral. And so on. Those qualities are personal.
(3) I believe God showed us what he is like through the person of Jesus, who was undoubtedly a person, and who therefore reveals a God who is personal.
Does anyone know why the miracles of God/Jesus ended 2000 years ago. Even though Jesus is no longer with us, should there not be some representation of God/Jesus today in the form of modern day miracles?
They certainly didn’t end 2000 years ago. There have been reports of miracles right through christian history, not as many as Jesus did, but then no-one else was Jesus! There are still reports today.
Hebrews 11:6 says that “For without faith it is impossible to please God. For those who come to Him must believe that He exists and is a rewarder to those who earnestly seek Him. ”
It is that all simple. It is either you believe God and experience a miracle or you don’t. Nothing is in between. Blessings.
Hi, thanks for your thoughts. If it is that “simple” for you, then that is great. But many people struggle to know if God is there, to know God, to have faith in him and/or to experience him in their lives. I mostly write for these people.
I must first apologize for what must come across as either a gleaned over comprehension of the matter at hand, or a less than scholarly diligence in covering my pedantic bases, when I put forth my objection to what seems to me a stubborn persistence of the very paradigms of either the theistic or atheistic accounts of the silly problems of how did the universe begin, or why is the universe fine tuned for life.
As for problem #1, science has the right idea: moving backwards in time, there comes a point beyond which science no longer applies, so we might as well ignore what happens at and before this point. This is humble. Let’s call science the totality of human knowledge. While it makes leaps and bounds and presumes to be ever more closely approximating reality, it admits to a finite limit to its grasp upon this particular problem. You just really had to be there. Now I don’t dare impede the imaginations of the more idle scientific contributors among us, but I do beseech these same logicians for a justification as to why we should be compelled to accept a fudged answer instead of a question mark? Not only is saying God did it the equivalent of any unsatisfactory metaphysical solution, i.e. a human conceived notion which is somehow intended to defeat the limits of human conception, it is hubris; and while a good degree of hubris is indispensable to science, a whole lot of it is obscuratism (despite the warm welcome to learn about historically dominant cultural exports). This leads me to problem #2.
“We are humans, therefore humans are special. We conceived of probablilty theory, and by probability theory we are special. Our grasp of a concept of our own design, called the universe, is sufficient to lead us to conclude that this universe serves the purpose of bringing us into existence.” This is malignant narcissism on the scale of an entire species; a biological necessity, but hardly special!
Hi Callie, thanks for your comment.
I think most people find the “problem” of how the universe began, and whether God exists, as something more than “silly”. At the very least, they are curious. But often they really want to know as much as they can to make sense of life.
Do you not feel either of those motivations?
Both of those questions are intriguing to say the least. In terms of the origins of the Universe, or indeed what existed prior to the Big Bang, I wonder if these questions are beyond the comprehension of the Humans species. For example, can we comprehend the question of “what happens at the edge of the Universe. Is there a stone wall there, or perhaps a velvet curtain, or maybe a river. Let’s say there are non of those items there, what happens if we try to pass through the edge of the Universe. Do we bump into something, do we disappear, or perhaps something else. This is a similar question to that of what was there before the Big Bang. From our perspective we cannot comprehend the concept of all the mass in the Universe originating from nothing. And, what was there before the Big Bang, i.e. no matter, no space, no time, no gravity, no oxygen…… It would appear to me that we Humans must accept that we also have limitations in terms of comprehension and understanding. Maybe it’s time we realized that we are just one element in the overall picture. We are not special, we are no different that all the other species out there. In fact one could make a case that Humans are the most destructive species on Earth. Think of WWI & WWII, Air Pollution, Water Pollution, Destruction of Forests, killing (and eating) other species, etc. Perhaps we should rethink our place in the grand scheme of things.
I do agree that no one has a clue how the universe began and theories can be forth. But some theories can be dismissed out of hand ( one theory that can be dismissed is that my older sister created the universe), whilst other theories have some credibility and other theories seemingly have greater credibility….It is not reasonable/logical to suggest all theories have equal standing.
I think , perhaps, one flaw in your logic is your definition of science being the totality of humankind knowledge. This suggests that there is nothing more to add to our scientific knowledge.
I can picture a scene a couple thousand years ago where a Roman citizen is running through a rainstorm and gets zapped by lightning and dies…And all the friends say “one of the Gods got angry at him for not making a sacrifice, and threw down a lightening bolt to punish him….I don’t know how realistic this was ( did they really believe in all the different gods), but at the time Romans didnt have the knowledge or technology to know ‘the how and the why of it’… Now today we know how lightning is created and why it takes the path it does….the Roman was in the wrong place at the wrong time….SO here we are again contemplating the origins of the universe and we don’t have the knowledge or technology to answer ‘the how and why of it……I believe there is a pretty good possibility that if you ask my descendants in a few thousand years that the may very well know the answer….
Personally, I think there is a lot of stuff in the Bible that makes absolutely no literal sense. As a guide in how one should strive to live ones life, I think it offers great advice. Whether there is a deity or deities; who is to say ? I don’t think it matters much
Hi James, thanks for your thoughts. I certainly agree with you that “we Humans must accept that we also have limitations in terms of comprehension and understanding” and “Humans are the most destructive species on Earth”.
But I think humans are nevertheless “special” – in both good and bad ways.And I think our limitations should spur us on to know more and do better. Would you agree?
G’day Eric, thanks for your thoughts too. We seem to be all agreed that there are many mysteries about our universe.
one flaw in your logic is your definition of science being the totality of humankind knowledge
I’m sorry if I gave that impression, but that isn’t what I think. I defined the physical universe as everything that is physical (matter and energy, time and space), and I think science addresses (or attempts to address) all of that while being unable to address anything that isn’t physical, but I certainly don’t think science is complete, or probably ever could be.
SO here we are again contemplating the origins of the universe and we don’t have the knowledge or technology to answer ‘the how and why of it……I believe there is a pretty good possibility that if you ask my descendants in a few thousand years that the may very well know the answer….
Here we disagree. I think science can (in principle) tell us everything about our universe, but can’t tell us about what if anything is beyond the universe and hence beyond physics. We need some other methodology to know that, because whatever lies beyond everything that is physical must itself be non-physical.
Whether there is a deity or deities; who is to say ? I don’t think it matters much
I think this is the most important question we can ask.
UnkleE, in light of my previous rhetoric, my answer to your considerate question would have to be complex, so to first put it simply: my curiosity, despite all the ingenuity I could ever hope to muster, can only take me down the paths of the previous attempts to answer these questions. I was educated by the same worldview that the leading theories were informed by, and I am no astrophysicist to introduce something new to them. Would I have liked to have been there at the pre-beginning of time? Do I now want to be at the edge of the universe? Despite the lurid impossibility of these, yes. Do I need to make sense of life? No.
But here I will boil down my intention from before, if I may. As Eric points out, science is not the totality of human knowledge, not only because it is intended to build upon itself, but because science can’t tell you what I’m thinking about right now. If I were to tell you that I’m thinking about a red firetruck, science couldn’t even tell you where the mental image of that firetruck resides. I am mocking science. And while I do intend to show that science is a primitive attempt at answering my two “silly” questions, I am more concerned with what James Stevens has caught on to: our depravity in even pursuing them. Here I would invoke the virtual reality arguments going around, not because I give them credence or not, but because they illustrate that we experience reality through a hopelessly self-serving lens. The crux of my argument was that non-scientific theories attempt to violate the barrier between objective and subjective, and that’s there for a reason: it IS the basis of our knowledge. As the dominant species, one whose specialization is using its brain, attempts at knowing the unknowable represent an unseemly overexpression of this trait.
So I turn to making sense of life. I think that we are born with this capacity fully intact, which only becomes broken by the machinery of human intellect, or the world that it has created. Maybe we’ll eventually get it right, i.e. use our intellect in a way that is harmonious, instead of at odds, with our instincts; this egocentrism could be indicative of a yet maturing species. I would certainly be curious as to what a self-actualized human race would look like.
Firstly, I do agree UnkleE, we do need to focus more on using our advantages (as a species) to do more and do better, no only for ourselves, but for all species, the environment, and the planet. I think there is also a critucal link between the latter sentiment and a point raised by Callie, i.e. “Maturing Species”. This is a reference I have made in past discussions with friends on these subjects. There is considerable evidence that we Humans are in many ways similar to a newborn baby, we learn by our mistakes and the pain these mistakes bring. The major difference being that a child learns to NOT put their finger in the fire because it’s painful, us adults learn that War is not a good thing after we lose friends and family and there is so much destruction. Similar with the Environment, we are only now realizing that our business profits, or our pursuit of whatever it is we want may also have consequences. But thankfully there appears to be a realization now that we Humans may need to stop and rethink some of our endeavors, and perhaps make some significant changes.
Hi Callie, thanks for replying. I think your mind works very differently to mine!
Hi James, I hope you are right that we as a species are starting to realise we need to re-think.
I guess I come down to ‘everything’ can be explained by physical laws…We may not know the physics today and we may not reach a point of total scientific knowledge, but that doesn’t refute my belief. It’s not clear to me why someone would throw their hands up and say science will never get it, so let’s look beyond the natural world to explain things we don’t understand.
As far as science reading one’s mind and getting the actual picture of the firetruck Callie is thinking about,.this seems like a very doable thing for future scientists to accomplish. Thoughts and feelings and emotions are just chemical reactions and electronic impulses. We have tools today that can ‘see’ these things…….not to the degree that we can know what is in your mind, but it doesn’t take a large leap of faith to think ‘we’ will get there at some point (scary).
When the body dies, the neurons and synapses and memories all just fade away into nothingness just as the body decomposes into dust. Whatever ‘essence’ of the soul that one wants to think will go on and live in eternity really wouldn’t seem to have any type of consciousness or memory.
I actually don’t believe the Christian Bible suggests that anything different than I am suggesting. I think over the centuries that the Church and Hollywood and parents telling their kids at night that Aunt Becky is looking down at us from Heaven and smiling has totally distorted what the Bible says about the after-life. Aunt Becky is not hanging out in Heaven drinking tea with Jesus and petting Whiskers in her lap.
If one can try to ‘unlearn’ what one has been taught about the Bible and then go read it with a open mind and a blank slate, much of it comes across as an Ancient Aliens episode, especially in the Old Testament. (This actually has been my conflict……there is stuff in the Bible that is just about as believable as the existence of the ancient Roman Gods throwing down lightning bolts at people )…Ah well…..
Hi Eric, I’m curious about this statement:
When the body dies, the neurons and synapses and memories all just fade away into nothingness just as the body decomposes into dust. Whatever ‘essence’ of the soul that one wants to think will go on and live in eternity really wouldn’t seem to have any type of consciousness or memory.
I actually don’t believe the Christian Bible suggests that anything different than I am suggesting.
My understanding of the Bible (or the New Testament at any rate) is different. When the life (Greek: psyche, sometimes translated as soul) leaves a body, we can expect it naturally to stay dead and to decompose as you say. But the Bible says that God will resurrect our bodies into life in the age to come (e.g. passages like 1 Corinthians 15). Where do you get a different view?
well, you are possibly right that I may have mis-stated Christian belief. It is possible that the new testament is the ‘word of God’ and it all must be accepted literally as written.
However, I also think almost the entire New Testament was NOT written by eye-witness accounts to actual events surrounding Jesus’ life but rather written by men with political agendas 40-50-100 years after Jesus’ death (if he actually died on the cross) . I have even heard that passages might have been added 100-200 years later to Mark (?) because the original manuscript was silent as to his supposed resurrection (and without the resurrection, what is Christianity?)
There was a lot of politics going on and jockeying for position by religious leaders in those first few hundred years AD, so I have a lot of skepticism. We also know certain books written during that time period were excluded from inclusion from the Bible, possibly/probably for political reasons. ( Isn’t there a Gospel by Mary and by Judas ?) So maybe the Bible is supposed to be interpreted as the word of God, but factually, it was written by men long after the fact.
As far as a God resurrecting our bodies into life, I guess this comes down to faith. It doesn’t make logical sense that I, Eric , would be resurrected with the same thoughts and knowledge and emotions and feeling that I have today with the body that I have today.
I happen to be trained in mathematics but am clueless how to fix an engine. I have biases. There are people I admire and people I dislike….SO if I were Christian and I ‘come back’, am I coming back as a 25 year old , or am I coming back as an 80 year old .Are my negative thoughts and bias’s removed ? Will I still know mathematics better than 98 % of the population but still unable to fix my car ? Will I meet Abraham Lincoln if he is walking around ? These are just rhetorical questions, but if I ask a Christian what do you mean, when you say we all will be resurrected, I get no coherent answer. (and no answer is known)
So maybe, when the Bible talks about resurrection, they aren’t really talking about a physical resurrection, but some kind of resurrection into a different dimension or plane…I have no idea and now I am starting to talk like an Ancient Alien episode.
I said in earlier post, some theories can be dismissed out of hand…eg. my older sister created the universe before I was born. I think the belief in the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of you (someday) comes down to faith. Raised as a Methodist, I was never taught to believe a physical body comes back and walks the Earth that doesn’t age, forever. Maybe I was taught wrong, but this is one of those theories that I cant buy into..
No offense intended, btw, if I did.
Hi Eric, I wasn’t trying to argue that the Bible is the word of God (depending on what you mean by that term, I don’t believe it is), but simply explaining what I think the Bible teaches.
Some of your “facts” about the New Testament are, I think, right and others wrong. For example:
1. The gospels probably weren’t written by one author, and it is doubtful that the final authors or compilers were eyewitnesses, but many of the written and oral reports that make up the gospels were from eyewitnesses.
2. It is generally accept that the NT writings were written 20-70 years after Jesus’ death, not 40-100 as you say.
3. Almost all historians believe Jesus was a real person executed (on a cross) by the Romans.
4. Two passages are generally believed to have been added to the original gospels (one in Mark, as you say, and one in John), but these have been detected because, unlike most ancient texts where we have relatively few copies, there are literally thousands of copies of parts of the NT, so the later addition of text can generally be discerned. This means that the majority of the text is known well.
5. So-called gospels like those supposedly of Mary, Judas and others are much later than those included in the Bible, generally second and third century. The only non-canonical gospel that may have been written in the first century (some think it was, some don’t) is the gospel of Thomas.
6. If you ask me what I mean by the resurrection, I mean that the me I know via my own consciousness will be resurrected in a new body. John Polkinghorne says it will be like the same software being played on new hardware. I think this is quite coherent, would you agree?
7. I think you are only half right about the Bible talking about resurrection “into a different dimension”. It says Jesus is the first to rise, and we will rise and be like him.
You are obviously free to believe whatever you like about the Bible and the resurrection, but I am just trying to point out that I think you are misunderstanding some facts and some christian beliefs.
Thanks for commenting.
Good morning…I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee…Quick responses because most of what you say isn’t far removed from what I was trying to say. To your points:
1) yes, we agree….2nd and 3rd and 4th hand eye witness accounts decades after the fact comprise the New Testament for the most part. And yes, not one author. I think the names of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John were added later as the authors, and we dont really know who wrote them….this isn’t really an important point. But think of your oral report on something you witnessed 20-40 years ago which was passed on from mouth to mouth until someone decided to write down what he was told.
2) sure….dont disagree..
3) I agree he was a real person and I also think there is a Roman footnote is some historical document that says that the Romans executed a cult leader (Jesus) on the cross….But did he really die ? He was taken down 6 hours after the crusification began (not enough time to die perhaps) and his body was whisked away by supporters. My understanding (from the internet -lol) is lots of people were reported as having been resurrected back in those days . All I am saying it is possible he was unconscious, resuscitated, and escaped (to India). I do believe Jesus was a real living man and not a fictional character.
4) no additional comment
5) I dont know much about the other Gospels……are they any less credible than the New Testament ? Aren’t they supposed eye-witness accounts or accounts told to others by eye-witnesses ?
6) sure, it is possible to get a new body; your analogy makes sense. Since none of know what happens after death, any theory is valid and seems to simply come down to faith. So if I am to accept in your belief system, if I am fortunate enough to run into you, will I still be good in math and hopelessly lost fixing an engine ?
7) I am clueless what happens after death. As stated, I don’t believe any Earthly consciousness or memories continue beyond this existence…not sure the Bible even says this….
You seem to be very knowledgeable about the New Testament. However, I think there is no single ‘Christian’ belief….Quakers believe different from Catholics who believe different than Calvinists. SO, while I don’t really view myself as a Christian, I dont think today, there is a defined ‘set of Christian beliefs”……there are a few commonalities, but wide divergent views
Eric, to your previous point, while you do remind me of the Black Mirror series, where they already have the technology you describe, i.e. putting ones thoughts up on a screen, I was referring to the mind/body problem. Sure, you can take a neural network snapshot of every neuron in a given brain and simulate the firetruck onto a given display medium, but as with the edge of the universe, and the pre-beginning of time, where MY firetruck resides, the shiny red four-seater with its towering ladder and hoses and axes clamped on the side (trying to be evocative), is more elusive; I certainly don’t have a monitor in my brain or a thought bubble over my head.
Speaking of which, you guys touch upon this philosophical quandary when you assert that consciousness seems as if it can easily be dis/reembodied. For fun:
`i. I can doubt that I have a body.
ii. I cannot doubt that I am.
iii. Therefore, I who am doubting and thinking am not a body. `
It is well within the traditional (attempts at) solutions to observe that consciousness is a concert of bodily stimuli: different body, different mind. This said, it is becoming popular to believe that there is only one consciousness, so if by some miracle after you died, you were still conscious, the experience could be very much the same, although you’d most likely have to relearn math and kung-fu.
To return to science, the consciousness that consumes empiricism and theories based thereupon does not readily lend itself to them, as it supervienes upon them: we are and always have been tool users, stuck with what’s directly in front of us. Similarly for unexperienceable phenomena, that is, at least until science gives us that intergalactic space ship. Subatomic particle physics is full of charming, albeit comparatively solvable, mysteries that demonstrate this.
But I feel like I haven’t overtly put my own stake in on the big question, about the big guy, as we are here to do. I must say that I didn’t know that I had such agnostic inclinations before posting my musings here. Make no mistake, I know that there is no God; Jaweh was the “dominant cultural export” I was referring to above, a veritable study in human perseverance itself, and I should have made clear by now my dubiousness of human ideas. But I should also put it out there that I’ve read more psychology than the Bible. I did however take stabs here and there, most recently with the Quran.
What I found was in fact not simple to grapple with. I thought that I would find God in that book. But the way to get there was by laying down my ego and telling myself that God is great, over and over again.
Hi Eric, a few responses ….
I think the names of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John were added later as the authors, and we dont really know who wrote them….this isn’t really an important point.
The scholars have widely varying views. My view is that the names reflect someone involved in the process, but not necessarily the final author or compiler. I think there is reasonable evidence for that.
But think of your oral report on something you witnessed 20-40 years ago which was passed on from mouth to mouth until someone decided to write down what he was told
We have to remember that in an oral society, this was quite a reliable process. Of course changes crept in, but the evidence suggests this was mainly in the minor details, while the main stories and points were well preserved.
All I am saying it is possible he was unconscious, resuscitated, and escaped
There would be very few historians who think this is possible.
I dont know much about the other Gospels……are they any less credible than the New Testament ? Aren’t they supposed eye-witness accounts or accounts told to others by eye-witnesses ?
Apart from Thomas, which has some credibility as a historical document (though it only contains sayings, not narrative), the other non-canonical gospels were written too long after the events to be credible history.
I think there is no single ‘Christian’ belief
It depends what you are considering. Very many variations in minor doctrines and rituals, but fairly good agreement about the historical facts.
I find it difficult to place any sense of reality on old religious texts, such as the Bible, etc. These are documents (or parchments) were written my Humans, from within the Human mental framework, most likely to meet the needs of Humans. They could have been written to meet deep psychological needs of society, or they could have been written to provide a foundation for developing a power structure. Christian teachings say that the only True religion is Christianity, and that all others are false and misleading. Does this not show a weakness in the whole religious thing, i.e. we are correct and you are all wrong?
Also, The Universe is circa 14 billion years old, modern humans have been around for circa 200,000. years. What was God doing for the circa 13.8 Billion years prior to us Humans. Was he/she just sitting around waiting for us to arrive. Seems like a long time to be idle. Also, by claiming that the God of everything exists purely for us Humans (and in our own likeness) are we being somewhat precious about ourselves. What about all the other species, are they irrelevant. Or perhaps the Lion, the Giraffe, the Ape, the Salmon, all have their own versions of God. I do agree that is need for structure in society, a structure whereby us Humans can strive to be good Humans, and help others. But I don’t think the answer exists in documents that were written thousands of years age, during a time that was very different from ours. The real answer my lie in us Humans creating a society that is compassionate, kind, helpful, and caring. And possibly also accepting that we don’t know what is out there beyond our existence, and because of this just doing the best we can to create a good society. This would appear to be a better solution than relying on these old documents.
I guess we agree that we don’t really know who wrote the four gospels and so have a maximum of two potential eyewitnesses to the crusification, to potentially no eyewitness giving an account. I guess I also don’t buy your statement that being an oral society meant they were more accurate and diligent in passing along stories without embellishment or exaggeration; it only takes one person (with a motive or none) in the chain to distort the story and over 20-70 years the cumulative effect could be quite dramatic…eg. feeding throngs of people with a single loaf of bread
Sure, most historians don’t agree that he was resuscitated after taken down the cross. That would be heresy, because as I said earlier: what would Christianity be without the resurrection ? Resuscitation is just a theory that fits the facts. I doubt most historians really believe he floated off into the clouds as well , if asked…Btw, weren’t there lots of reports of lots of other people being ‘resurrected’ back in those days?
I do think Christian beliefs do vary dramatically, though they all generally start with the New Testament ( but even here,not all Christians do). Some sects believe one can talk directly to God; others think you need an intermediary. Some sects preach that the only way to Heaven is through Christ; others think that God chooses who comes to Heaven. Christian sects think man has free will; others think it’s all pre-determined. Some think gay marriage is fine; others believe the Bible condemns it. There are actually huge fundamental differences in beliefs and when one says they are a Christian, they may not even know what they mean when they say that they are Christian other than the very basic idea.
P.S. Black Mirror is a great series
What was God doing for the circa 13.8 Billion years prior to us Humans. Was he/she just sitting around waiting for us to arrive.
Maybe he was watching Netflix?
If God exists outside of our time, then he didn’t have to wait for 13.8 bn years.
This would appear to be a better solution than relying on these old documents.
I think it all depends. If the Bible is just folk tales and our brains are capable of knowing all truth, then you are right. If our brains struggle to comprehend God and he has revealed something about himself in the Bible, then we’d be wise to check it out. That call is really up to you, but I have made my choice.
it only takes one person (with a motive or none) in the chain to distort the story and over 20-70 years the cumulative effect could be quite dramatic
You really have to decide if you will trust your own judgment or that of historians who have studied these matters. There seems to be good evidence that oral transmission of stories is accurate about the core facts but less accurate around the less important details. We can see that in the gospels where the outline of Jesus’ life, his teachings, his actions as a prophet/teacher/healer and his death and resurrection are all presented fairly consistently, but the details of where something occurred, or the people present or the exact words spoken varies. That is why historians generally agree on the core and argue over the peripherals.
It is important to note that the stories of Jesus would have been told by many people, and that we have four gospels each written from different communities around the Mediterranean. If one person changed something important, as you suggest, it would have been contradicted by all the other stories. The fact that we have four gospels makes it much more certain that we have the original story right, and that peripheral details are problematic in places.
Btw, weren’t there lots of reports of lots of other people being ‘resurrected’ back in those days?
I don’t know of any, do you? The Jews believed in a resurrection at the end of the age, but not in this present age.
I do think Christian beliefs do vary dramatically
Yeah, just like people disagree about virtually everything in life. But the core is pretty much the same. At bottom, pretty much all christians believe in the gospels as the core. Of course they think differently about lots of stuff, but I’m not sure what that proves. In the end, it is the gospels that matter.
I’ve heard a supernova made everything by exploding, the problem with that theory is it takes a supernova exploding to create a supernova. which makes the only possible theory is the biblical account.
Hi Dennis, thanks for reading and commenting on my website.
I’ve never heard that “it takes a supernova exploding to create a supernova”. Where did you read that?
I think it is time we moved away from those old teachings from the bible. While some of the stories concerned do present Jesus as a kind and compassionate person, a lot of the additional material applied to him is obviously fantasy or perhaps lies with a purpose.
The Resurrection, the Holy Ghost, the Parting of the Ocean, not realistic. And, if God was presenting himself in the form of Jesus 2000 years ago, where is he now, why has he abandoned Earth. Also, if God and his Son Jesus are Human, and are concerned only with Humans, why did he (God) create all the other species. Do those other species also have a God that they can related to. And, if God created Man in his own likeness, then why are there so many Humans that are not nice people?
Hi James, you’ve said some of those things before. I understand how you are thinking about this, but I think things are different to that, and there are quite reasonable answers to your questions. I won’t go into those answers now, as I think we might have been there before. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Under Objections 5 & 7 you reference the First Causer making a choice to create the universe. If it is the case that this must be correct for the KCA to be successful, there may be a problem.
If the First Causer is to make a choice, there must be a degree of freedom in which to make the choice. Without a degree of freedom there are no (differing) places from which to choose.
The only degree of freedom that could exist for the First Causer prior to the creation of the universe, is beginningless unmeasured duration of existence of the beginningless First Causer. This beginningless unmeasured duration necessarily has negative infinity.
Hi Ian, it’s good to see your comment. Thanks.
I’m not sure I’d want to insist that the Cosmological argument requires God to make a choice, but since I think it must have been a choice, let’s go with that.
I think degrees of freedom are an interesting idea with God. For if he knows everything (which most people assume, though there are some theists who don’t think that) and he always chooses what is best, then in the end there as only one option he was ever going to choose. But I think that is still a choice. (Just as, if faced with a steak meal or a fish meal, I am always going to choose the fish, but it is still a choice.) And so I think there were many degrees of freedom – whether to create, when to create (if he was in time) and what to create.
I’m not sure I understand the logic of your third paragraph, but I agree with your conclusion, that God’s existence goes back unmeasurably into the past.
Interested in your further thoughts.
You say “ God’s existence goes back unmeasurably into the past”, which I will assume to be essentially the same as my “unmeasured duration of existence”. Do you agree that this existence was, and must have been, beginningless?
If this existence was beginningless, then this existence was an instance of negative infinity – because “beginningless” is a synonym for “negative infinity”. If you do not agree with this synonym, I would be grateful if you could explain the difference between “beginningless” and “negative infinity”. Rgds, Ian.
Hi Ian, good to hear your further thoughts. I’m not sure where you are going with this, but I am interested to see.
Yes, I agree that God was/is beginningless – even though my mind cannot really comprehend that!
I think the problem with “negative infinity”, as with my phrase “back unmeasurably into the past” is that they both imply a timeline. Language is tricky, because it can convey ideas that we don’t fully intend, but sometimes we can’t avoid that.
So here. Most language, following our thought patterns, tends to imply time and change. But I don’t think God is limited by time as we are. Sometimes I think he is totally outside of time, though that has its difficulties – e.g. how can he change? Other times I think he exists in time, but can move around it just as we can move around in space. But I know that all my thoughts are very finite and I cannot comprehend any of those ideas with much coherence.
I think that “beginningless” can mean either (i) not in time or (ii) being in time but infinite, whereas “negative infinity” can only imply (ii). So the two terms are slightly different in my understanding.
I agree that language is tricky. As you suggest, there can be more than one meaning/definition of “beginningless”.
In the context of time, there is either a beginning or there is beginningless. This is the usual usage of the word.
– In this usage, the First Causer having beginningless duration-of-existence would have duration-of-existence from negative infinity.
– If we accept the KCA assertion that a negative infinity is impossible, the First Causer cannot have beginningless duration-of-existence.
– So the First Causer would have to have a beginning of duration-of-existence, but according to KCA P1, there has to be a cause of that beginning – otherwise the beginning is spontaneous.
– This leaves us with a dilemma – both “solutions” are impossible. So what to do? We can reject the impossibility of negative infinity or we can reject KCA P1.
– Alternativelty we can craft an alternative definition of “beginningless” that avoids these problems.
The other meaning you suggest seems to be related to applicability. We can assert that the First Causer exists independent of time. Whilst this raises some interesting ideas, it is contrary to the notion that duration is a Brute Fact that applies to anything/everything.
One possibility (I think WLC refers to this as Relational Time) is that in the absence of a duration-measurer (aka a clock) there is no time. That would constrain time to exist only when a duration-measurer exists. My thought is that duration exists independent of any duration-measurer (this is like Newton and Absolute Time), with the obvious consequence that without a duration-measurer, duration is unmeasured (this would be the same as undifferentiated or amorphous).
As for where I am going with this, I see the “not in time” idea as incoherent, and the assertion of impossible negative infinity to be unviable. Rgds, Ian.
Hi Ian, this is most interesting and I appreciate your thoughts. We seem to agree on the dilemmas, but not on how we might resolve them. Here are a few of my thoughts:
When talking about God (whether we believe such a being exists, or not) we are talking about something beyond our full comprehension and experience. We need to be cautious, and we have to be careful that we don’t confuse our inability to understand with logical improbability. So, for example, I think it is logically impossible for something to begin without a cause or reason or prior condition or something external to itself, whereas I think discussing God’s beginninglessness is something we can’t understand and so it can’t be a case of logical improbability but rather a dilemma we cannot resolve or a possible logical problem. I think this gives theists what is in a sense an unfair advantage, because we can always place all our dilemmas into God and then quarantine them from criticism, but I can’t see a way out of that. The classic arguments for God almost always take some fact or experience that we cannot explain and place it on the concept of God.
the KCA assertion that a negative infinity is impossible
Is this an assertion of the KCA? I don’t think it is. The KCA asserts that the universe began to exist, and offers mathematical and physical reasons to think that is true. Those reasons are based on sequences of numbers (time) or physical events, and it argues that they cannot go back to a negative infinity, but that isn’t the same as saying negative infinity is impossible.
contrary to the notion that duration is a Brute Fact that applies to anything/everything
I haven’t ever heard this assertion that I can recall, and I see no reason to accept it. How would you argue for it?
So I am left with this summary.
1. I think it is logically impossible for the universe to begin without a cause or external state that leads to it.
2. I think the only way to resolve that (for me) very potent dilemma is to say something not material or physical must have been the cause or external condition, and the only candidate seems to be a God.
3. The dilemmas raised by #2 are not nearly as difficult as the dilemmas raised by all other views, and are (I think) best resolved by postulating that God exists outside of time or able to move about time the way we can move about space.
4. I think these dilemmas mean the Cosmological argument cannot be considered a proof, but is rather one piece of cumulative evidence for God.
I’m interested to see how you respond to that. Perhaps I have misunderstood somewhere. Thanks.
If I have “a dilemma we cannot resolve or a possible logical problem”, I say that I do not know. In such a case, it may be a matter of insufficient data/information or incorrect assumptions/logic. I do not appeal to something that exists in abstract and whose existence in actuality has not been established.
Are you saying that an uncounted negative infinity may be possible? If so, I would offer this comment – we may be able to categorise negative infinity as two types – negative-infinity-by-counting and negative-infinity-by-extent. I infer that if a negative infinity is possible, it would be an instance of negative-infinity-by-extent, on the basis that negative-infinity-by-counting is impossible. But we can overlay an instance of negative-infinity-by-counting on the instance of negative-infinity-by-extent – one way to do this is to bisect the extent and then bisect each of the halves, ad infinitum. So we would have an infinity-by-counting contained within a negative-infinity-by-extent. So maybe you mean some other type of negative infinity?
I am ok with KCA P1. But this leads to the problem of how the First Causer was able to escape lone unchanging existence. The usual response to this is that the First Causer is personal and chose “when” to initiate the creation process. My comment for this is – The lone unchanging existence of the First Causer is not a sufficient condition to initiate the personal choosing. When I say “unchanging” I mean no changing of any sort. This includes that the First Causer did not have any mental activity – that would be change. So if there was no mental activity, it would be impossible for there to be active Libertarian Freedom. If there was no active Libertarian Freedom, it would be impossible for there to be personal choosing. If there was no personal choosing, it would be impossible for there to be initiation of the universe-creation process.
Duration as a Brute Fact. A thought experiment – imagine you can delete everything that has actual existence – this includes everything material/physical, everything divine/spiritual (if they have actual existence) – so that “nothing” remains. What remains? My response is – duration, plus the three dimensions of spatiality. Each of these is limitless – any limit is “something”, so they have no beginning, no completion. Duration has past infinity and will have future infinity. Spatiality has extent infinity.
Re: cumulative evidence – evidence is assessed in a sequence – what is the first evidence in your sequence?
Re: God moving around in time – what source(s) do you use for this idea? rgds, Ian.
“If I have “a dilemma we cannot resolve or a possible logical problem”, I say that I do not know.”
But do you not feel some curiosity to resolve such questions, especially if they are about important issues?
“I do not appeal to something that exists in abstract and whose existence in actuality has not been established.”
Why would you not do this, if a reasonable, evidence-based argument is presented?
“So we would have an infinity-by-counting contained within a negative-infinity-by-extent.”
I see no reason to accept this. It is possible to produce all sorts of strange conclusions when playing around with infinity, but that doesn’t make them true and reasonable to me.
“Are you saying that an uncounted negative infinity may be possible?”
This means there is no situation where some thing has not existed. I think that is only possible with a necessary being.
“the problem of how the First Causer was able to escape lone unchanging existence”
Why should anyone believe that God is unchanging, without defining what unchanging means? Theologians say God is unchanging, but I don’t know how they know that, and they are talking about his nature, not his actions.
“if there was no mental activity”
I think it is quite amazing that anyone would postulate a God with no mental activity. Surely that shows something is wrong in your logic?
“A thought experiment – imagine you can delete everything that has actual existence ….. Duration has past infinity and will have future infinity. Spatiality has extent infinity.”
This isn’t what the cosmologists say. In the early moments of the big bang, space itself was very small. There wasn’t anything outside of that very finite space. Likewise many seem to believe that time (for our universe) began at the big bang, and isn’t necessarily limitless.
“Re: cumulative evidence – evidence is assessed in a sequence – what is the first evidence in your sequence?”
I think the argument can be constructed beginning at almost any point. The two obvious ways (for me) are these:
(1) Start with the universe because it has to exist before we can be here (Cosmological argument, fine-tuning argument). Then go to humanity, which is our direct and universal experience (arguments from reason, morality, consciousness, freewill). Then go to individual people’s experiences (arguments from miraculous healings & other experiences of God). Finally go to the historical evidence for Jesus and how it can best be explained. So the argument builds from a first mover and designer to a personal ethical being to a God who communicates, finally to a revelation of that God.
(2) Start with Jesus as an alleged revelation of a certain type of God and then check whether the world reveal that God, using the other steps above.
“Re: God moving around in time – what source(s) do you use for this idea?”
It’s just an idea, nothing more. I think I originally got it from CS Lewis, who pictured God as a person above a table, which represents time in its length and space in its breadth. The person can see the whole of everything and intervene anywhere and any time, yet still be in his or her own time. And, perhaps, so can God.
I am constantly troubled by the gross evil in this world – the volume of it. Millions of children born so severely disabled, cancer in children – what’s that about? The random, seemingly senseless natural disasters – earthquakes, often killing the weakest and most vulnerable. Plagues and epidemics wiping out millions (often the poorest and weakest).
How do you get/maintain a belief system in God that is robust enough to deal with such evil in the world?
Hi John, thanks for commenting. That’s probably the hardest question of all. I too am constantly troubled by the gross evil in the world. YAnd you are right, it requires a robust belief system to continue to believe in God!
Some christians try to argue that things aren’t really quite so bad, but I think that is ignoring the reality. Other christians say it is all due to human sin and therefore God’s not responsible, and while I think there is some truth in that, I think (a) it isn’t all due to human sin, some of it is natural (earthquakes, tidal waves, etc), and (b) God must have foreseen all this, and yet he still created. So those “answers” don’t seem to be satisfactory to me.
I think that when confronted with a problem like this, we have to do like the police would do and consider the totality of evidence, and then ask which hypothesis best explains all that evidence.
Now suppose we consider the two basic hypotheses of 1. A good God exists, and 2. No God exists. Hypothesis #1 struggles to explain the evil in the world, while #2 explains it easily. But there are many other facts we should consider, and I find that most of these are explained better by #1 than #2.
So while I agree that the suffering in the world makes it harder to believe in God, all those other things make it harder to believe there’s no God.
So logic forces me to conclude that the evidence strongly favours belief in God, but I cannot explain the troubling level of suffering. That is why I continue to believe that the existence of the christian God is far more likely than any other possibility.
What do you think about that way of seeing things?
I have re-read your article and have concerns relating to your definition/meaning of “time”.
According to al-Ghazali “time is originated and created”, “time is the expression of the measure of motion”. WLC describes relational time and absolute time, but does not state specifically which he subscribes to, although he seems to suggest that time was created along with the universe (by the First Causer), and that time exists only when there is change.
For me to be able to understand your argument, I ask you to provide more information about your definition/meaning of “time” – such as – is it caused? If so, how and by what? Does it exist if it is unmeasured? If not, why not? Does it exist without motion/change? Anything else you can think of. Rgds, Ian.
Hi Ian, I’d like to know the answers to those questions too! Let’s admit that it is very difficult to define time. And as we try to understand it we end up with dilemma and difficulties.
Augustine apparently said that he understood what time was – until he tried to define it. It is like consciousness, which we all experience but it is difficult to explain. Or life, which is also difficult to define without excluding some things we would all think were alive or including some things we wouldn’t think were alive.
Time doesn’t have a tangible existence, but we all experience it. Some say we measure time by change or via entropy, but intuitively it seems that time would exist even if the entire universe stopped moving. Physicists and mathematicians can play around with backwards time, but it doesn’t seem to have any real life meaning. For the time in the equations doesn’t include the direction of time, but the direction is very real for us.
These are all dilemmas I have read about. So I’m not feeling too worried if I am unable to define things to your satisfaction or mine. But I’ll have a go at your questions.
more information about your definition/meaning of “time”
If the philosophers and physicists can’t define it, how could I? But my guess would be that it is defined by what has happened, is remembered, and cannot change, vs what hasn’t happened, can’t be remembered and still has potential to change.
is it caused?
I don’t know. How could I? The physicists seem to say that time began (for our universe, or our part of the universe, at any rate). But some of them also envisage a universe which ours bubbled out of, with its own time. So I’m inclined to think that there are different types of time (like WLC, except I wouldn’t try to be too specific), and that our time was created. But there may be some other type of time that God lives in, perhaps with no direction.
If so, how and by what?
By God. No idea how. But my guess is that he created a universe of time, space, matter and energy, and it couldn’t exist without all four.
Does it exist if it is unmeasured? If not, why not? Does it exist without motion/change?
I think so. But we wouldn’t experience it if it wasn’t for change.
How would you answer your own questions?
I begin my answer with the result of my Root Cause Analysis approach to this problem – this leads me to Underlying Brute Facts – this relates to the context in which everything exists, or if nothing exists, just the context itself. These Brute Facts are Duration, Three Dimensional Spatiality and Absolute Nothing.
The Brute Fact Duration is necessary for change to be able to occur. Being a Brute Fact, it was not caused – it always was/is. For any explanation of origins, there will always be one or more Brute Facts. So if I am asked “how did Brute Fact Duration come to be?”, my response is exactly the same as the theist who states that Brute Fact God “just is”.
As for time, the word “time” as we refer to it, is a synonym for change. This can lead to confusion for anybody who thinks that time is caused by change – that would require simultaneous causation. Discussions by WLC and others, regarding simultaneous causation, sometimes refer to examples such as a horse crossing the finish line first causes it to be the winner, a person sitting down causes a lap – but these are examples of synonyms rather than causation.
When we refer to the time is takes something to happen (aka something changes) we are referencing the change to a clock (itself something that is changing). So if there is no change and no clock, by this definition there is no time. But there is still Brute Fact Duration.
One takeaway for me is the need to separate the context from whatever exists. An item may be categorised as “timeless”, which for me means “unchanging”, but the context in which the item exists is ultimately the underlying context which has the Underlying Brute Facts. So an item may be “timeless”, but the context has (Underlying Brute Fact) duration.
A consequence of this is that Brute Fact Duration is beginningless (aka past eternal, aka past infinity). This is unmeasured, and so is infinity-by-extent. But infinity-by-extent is infinity of finite extents, and thus is infinity-by-counting. I see no way to avoid this. rgds, Ian.
Hi Ian, thanks for your explanation, I found it quite fascinating. I didn’t find it at all convincing, I’m sorry, but if it is convincing to you, who am I to try to change that? But I will give a brief response to why it wasn’t meaningful to me.
“These Brute Facts are Duration, Three Dimensional Spatiality and Absolute Nothing.”
I don’t see any reason to suppose this is true. I don’t see why your Root Cause Analysis should stop here. I don’t see any reason why 3-D spatiality should be a brute fact. (Why should a physical world be the ultimate reality, and why should it be 3-D?) I’m not sure if I think Duration could be a brute fact, and I certainly cannot see why absolute nothing should be. (If absolute nothing was a brute fact, I cannot see how there could ever be anything else.)
” the word “time” as we refer to it, is a synonym for change”
I’m not sure about this either and I don’t know how you can be so confident. I think if absolutely nothing happened for a second, time would still go on. So I’m inclined to think your statement is wrong, but I wouldn’t be sure.
“So if I am asked “how did Brute Fact Duration come to be?”, my response is exactly the same as the theist who states that Brute Fact God “just is”.”
I guess this is where the rubber hits the road. I think it is easy to say “my brute fact is as good as yours”. But I think that is manifestly untrue. If I said my brute fact is the world as it is at exactly this moment, there would be all sorts of arguments to show that is a very poor proposition. So I think your proposition is not as reasonable as the theists’ one.
Duration is a concept really, an abstract, and it actually has no purpose, no power, no ability to be an agent. If duration existed on its own, there is no reason to suppose anything else should exist or come into existence. Duration has no power to make anything else exist, or to do anything. On it’s own it explains very little, and certainly not the world of our experience. God, on the other, is a concept or a being, that can readily explain everything else.
So brute facts are not equal and your response is, I think, avoiding the difficulty. So I think God is truly an explanation whereas yours is not. I think there is a very real way to avoid the dilemma you refer to at the end.
Re-reading, that sounds very blunt, I’m sorry. But I’m trying to be brief. I really appreciate that you have shared theseideas with me, and I am learning a few things through this discussion. Thanks.
I am attempting to put together a response – but I have struck a problem – I need to know (in as much detail as you can provide) how you define “eternal”.
The reason is that if eternal is temporal, it necessarily has the same problem as beginningless material/physical existence. But if eternal means “outside time” or “timeless”, this is a plot device whose purpose would seem to be to avoid a problem. And if “outside time” or “timeless” is employed, that would seem to be an appeal to mystery – it is a mystery what it means – but this would be replacing one mystery (past infinity of duration of existence of energy/matter) with another, which is not progress. Rgds, Ian.
I don’t think I have used the word “eternal” in our discussion. I tend only to use it in a very clear sense, as it is used by Jesus and first century Jews. For them, we are living in a present “evil” age. But one day, the Messiah would come and usher in the age to come, which would be good. The Greek word for this age to come is aionos, and it is from this word that we get the word “eternal”. Most christians don’t understand this, and use the word as if it means “everlasting”, when in fact it means “of the age to come”.
But in any case, I don’t think exact definitions of these things are possible. So I don’t think our viewpoint should depend so tightly on one particular definition. As I have said before, I think we only have a very limited understanding of time, and no way of know what things might be like outside our own time. (The physicists and mathematicians can play around with negative time, etc, but I think that is just abstraction on a page or screen.) I think I have said before that I think maybe there could be alternative time systems outside our own, but I don’t think God is confined to any of them, and can “be” in any place and any time that he chooses.
Finally, I don’t think replacing one mystery with another can sometimes be progress. If one is true, then that is better even if we don’t really understand it. If one is capable of taking action and the other mystery isn’t, then it seems obvious which one is a better explanation.
Your reference to the Historical Jesus and usage of “eternal” relates to “future eternal” rather than “past eternal”. For the discussion we are having, “eternal” would relate to only “past eternal”. You did mention “eternal” in your article objections 1 & 7. Perhaps you could explain what you meant by “eternal” (what you mean “today”, not an interpretation of what somebody night have said thousands of years ago). Those two references seem to mean “has always existed”, or something like that, but that includes temporality.
Your comment 28Aug refers to “a very real way to avoid the dilemma you refer to at the end.” This “dilemma” related to “infinity-by-extent is infinity of finite extents, and thus is infinity-by-counting”. I cannot figure out “a way to avoid” – can you explain in as much detail as you can how to avoid what you refer to as a ”dilemma”, because I see no dilemma.
Without definitions it may be impossible to understand an argument. This is why I have asked you for explanations and details. For example, I struggle to understand in a coherent way your comments relating to “time” (and “timeless” or “outside time”). My reference to Brute Fact Duration relates to the context in which everything exists. It is the end-point of explanatory regress. This means that it is explanatorily prior to everything that exists, but not temporally prior. What we call time is Brute Fact Duration as measured by a clock. What you refer to as alternative time systems may just be different clocks that measure at a different rate. Brute Fact Duration satisfies Occam’s Razor. Rgds, Ian.
I’m sorry, but this conversation seems rather vague to me. I’m honestly not really making much sense out of what you are saying, nor do I see a coherent thread. Can you perhaps say what you want to say in a few simple statements? Thanks.
What I am attempting to do is understand your argument. My focus is the situation pre-BigBang. As I see it, the KCA is an assessment of two competing explanations. One is that all that has ever existed is material, and the other that all that exists materially was “created” by a non-material causer.
It is my contention that both of these explanations have the same problem – that is, infinity of past beginningless Brute Fact Duration. By its nature, infinity-by-counting can never be completed. By its nature, infinity-by-extent is infinity-by-counting of finite-extents. The finite-extents exist whether or not they are measured/counted. If you disagree with this, I would need to ask you to explain your understandimg of Brute Facts, as well as your understanding of infinity. These two are fundamental to this argument.
The KCA asserts that a material-only past would necessarily be (traversed) infinity of events, but a pre-BigBang material-only situation may have been beginningless eventless Material Activity, just as you seem to assert that God had pre-BigBang beginningless eventless Mental Activity. In this case, the God explanation has no additional explanatory value. Rgds, Ian.
Hi Ian, my argument (which is really a very old argument) isn’t very difficult to understand. If we consider everything material that exists (matter & energy), then:
1. Either it had a cause or it didn’t (simple logic).
2. If a cause, then it caused itself or something external caused it (again, simple logic).
3. If something external caused it, that something must have been non-material (ditto).
4. No cause = no explanation and therefore less believable.
5. Causing itself is illogical.
6. Therefore most likely something immaterial caused it.
Now notice there is nothing about time there, though the argument is sometimes framed with a time element in it (and I may have done so at times).
So I think all your discussion about time is not strictly relevant. And, I’m sorry, phrases and clauses like “infinity of past beginningless Brute Fact Duration” and ” infinity-by-extent is infinity-by-counting of finite-extents” and “beginningless eventless Material Activity” and “pre-BigBang beginningless eventless Mental Activity” don’t carry much meaning to me, and seem to be unnecessarily complicating what is a quite simple argument.
The context of my expressions that you refer to in your last paragraph is not the argument as you present it, but the assumptions you rely upon. The argument (as presented) may be simple, but it is the assumptions that add the complication.
You said on 22Jul that the KCA argues that – sequences of numbers (time) or physical events cannot go back to a negative infinity. From this I infer that you –
(1) assume that in the Matter&Energy explanation, (beginningless) material activity pre-BigBang would be characterised by “sequences of numbers (time) or physical events”. This leads to the problem of (negative) infinity-by-counting and thus is ruled out (as a possible explanation) by the KCA.
(2) assume that in the God explanation, His (beginningless) mental activity pre-UniverseCreation could not be characterised by “sequences of numbers (time) or physical events”. This avoids the problem of (negative) infinity-by-counting and thus is consistent with the KCA.
Put simply, this give us (1) (beginningless) event-based material activity, and (2) (beginningless) eventless mental activity.
Because nobody knows anything about the situation prior to the BigBang, an alternative assumption in the Matter&Energy explanation might be that matter/energy pre-BigBang existed in a different form such that there was (beginningless) eventless material activity. This avoids the problem of infinity-by-counting and thus is consistent with the KCA, and avoids the need for God (in this explanation). rgds, Ian.
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