Previous posts in this discussion:
PostScience and the Transcendence of Knowledge (John Heelan, UK, 12/30/17 9:07 am)
Istvan Simon (29 December) makes some very good points about the rationality of science.
However, maybe Istvan's analysis falls down when it comes to the transcendence of knowledge--to use Kantian terms--claimed by religions? Scientific knowledge has a shelf life limited by the next scientific breakthrough, and this can provide only potential signposts to the overarching realm of transcendental knowledge.
At the point of an individual's death, it is perhaps meaningless what epidemiologists have discovered with their statistical calculations and preconditions. Science is not necessarily "truth" but scientists' opinions of the meaning of their researches--and these are often questioned by peer reviews.
JE comments: Concerning the transcendence of knowledge, I received this Tor Guimaraes-inspired comment from a Muslim reader in Singapore: "God is the Creator of all things, space-time and matter. He is not the universe. The universe had a beginning. God is a beginningless entity of Supreme power, will and knowledge."
I'm a lightweight on theological matters, but I welcome your thoughts. Meanwhile, more cars of Cuba?
God the Universe as a Sentient Being; Tautologies Again
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
01/02/18 7:55 AM)
I thank John Heelan (December 20th) for his kind words and was very pleasantly surprised when I agreed strongly with Istvan Simon's every statement (December 29th) addressing the differences between science and religion.
But in the same posting, Istvan provided only a specific definition of the word tautology, which in the standard dictionaries have several meanings.
From a different perspective, A. J. Cave's post exemplifies the historical clash between the powerful Catholic Church and the scientific community trying to discover the truth about God the Universe regarding our planetary system. It is interesting to note that other religions have not clashed with science to any significant extent. But most importantly, scientific knowledge is too important for any society to allow its scientific community to be held back by religious nonsense.
I thank the Muslim reader in Singapore for his comment that God is the creator of, and not the universe itself, since the universe had a beginning and God has no beginning. My reply is that when one says God created the universe, many questions arise as to who created God and why does He not help the "good guys" more often since we are His creation?
Also, as Ric Mauricio asked, "If there is but one god, why is it that god did not make everything clearer so that man would not disagree about their gods?" To me the biggest problem is that you have no evidence, just faith. On the one hand, if you define God as the Universe no one can deny Its existence. By the way, while we know there was a Big Bang creating the Universe, we don't know what came before and might come after.
Also, some preliminary hypothesis is that God the Universe may comprise many parallel universes. So while some universes may be starting, others might be ending in a continuous cycle.
In response to Istvan, several questions which have already been addressed in my book God for Atheists and Scientists: Q1. Is God (the Universe) all-powerful? Yes in the sense that the laws of the Universe are enforced strictly but accounting for the fact that there are numerous stochastic processes at work. The other questions, 2. Is God (the Universe) loving and/or merciful? 3. Does God (the Universe) care if a child is murdered? 4. According to God (the Universe) Is it right or wrong to kill animals for food? 5. According to God (the Universe) is it right or wrong to kill animals for sport? 6. According to God (the Universe) is cannibalism right or wrong?)--all these have to do with whether or not God intervenes directly in the working of the Universe. I think not.
The rules are set from the beginning and we humans must learn to live with them. As I explained in my book, God makes no decisions because It knows Itself in great detail. Also God has no ethics because It is always right. An integral part of the species evolutionary process is increasing levels of environmental awareness, information processing, and decision making/choice control capability. Within the laws of the Universe, we make the choices available to us, and learn to accept the results.
Regarding John Eipper's question: Is God the Universe a sentient being? A whole section of my book addressed this question and concluded that God is very sentient in a particular way. John's larger question: Is there any "use" for a god if She/He/It doesn't have a moralizing function? This is a very sneaky question. The real question is what good is God if he does not intervene when we ask? The book addresses this question also.
Ethics and morals are important when we have two or more people and are dependent on group customs. That is a human thing, not God's. On the other hand, if one is "in touch with the Universe," I believe miracles (events with extremely low probability or unexplainable) might happen. Also, as the book explains, I believe in prayers which are mostly to thank God for benefits already received but also asking for health, success in my efforts, and happiness. But most of the time I believe in scientific knowledge, increasing prioritization, environment scanning, and preparation for action and reaction.
Something like praise God and pass the ammunition.
JE comments: Or God (the Universe) helps those who help themselves?
Regarding tautologies, I never thought the definition was in doubt. They're X = X statements, which are true by definition. Remember Silent Cal Coolidge's "When people are out of work, unemployment results"? Or how about the classic "Predictions are hard, especially about the future," variously attributed to several philosophers?