Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A recent conversation with a friend.

me: The funny thing is, that if the Christians ever find a definitive proof of god’s existence, they will destroy faith, and thus make it impossible for anyone to get into heaven.

friend: I mean my agnosticism argument is pretty much “Suppose God exists and created the universe. If he was created out of nothing, then so can a universe without God be. If he was not created and was always there, then so could have a universe without God. For me, God does not explain anything, therefore irrelevant.”
Well, if God is truly as Christians perceive him, there can never be proof of God. Not even theoretically.

me: Exactly

friend: Or, in other words, the degree to which you can ascertain existence of something is lowest for God.

me: So why is it so many of them try to prove his existence?
Basic stupidity?

friend: There’s two problems here. First, and more mild is that their faith is not strong enough to override that aspect of their humanity or they poorly deal with the conflict within their own faith.

friend: Second, I firmly believe that the human capacity for abstract thinking is inherently limited and only a small percentage of people, regardless of intelligence are capable of fully grasping concepts such as falsifiability or logical validity.

me: I once tried explaining that to a group of Mormons, urging them to stop evangelizing, and stay home. It almost worked :)

friend: Also, a lot of creation myths do not actually answer some basic creation questions.

me: Err 1.God did it.
2.The ways of God are unknowable.
I think it covers pretty much everything

me: I hope someone finds Hopi emergence tunnels.

friend: Not that part. Existence is a fairly abstract concept -- and complicated one to boot. Mainly the questions that arise are is there a concept of ‘before God did it’? The flow of time is rarely mentioned as one of the things created by God in creation myths. However, if you ask a Christian if God existed before the Earth, they will most likely say “Yes! He created the Earth!”. And if you ask a Christian where did direction, speed and concept of time flow come from, they will say “God created it.”

friend: This is not a logical problem, but it is a logical ambiguity that creates a kink for some theologies. If you have faith in the existence of time independently of God, you have some problems -- namely you are creating a universe around your God and lowering their godliness. If you have faith in the creation of time by God, you have much bigger problems -- ‘existence’ does not require time, but ‘creation’ does. Time is created philosophically by the first change -- there can be existence “before” time but it cannot be measured in duration and it is static. Assuming the initial existence is just God, then the first change of God creates time, but while there is no problem with saying “God created time” in this context, that very first change is not an act of God.

friend: Essentially infinite past or finite past both require God to be less-than-God in some aspect, and I don’t think Christians would be content with a theory that God is only God in the scope of our Universe, with something that is bigger, unknowable and not a work of God.

me: Sorry I was out. This is my problem with Descartes’s Cogito. I think therefore I am - implies that logic and causality are somehow universal and retain their relevance when you discard all other “facts”that come from our perception. I see causality as a learned effect and not an imperative. You plant a seed, you see it grow, you learn logic. It’s a property of a closed system of the universe, that God might’ve created along with other mechanisms like time and space and mass. God’s power within the universe would thus be limited to the laws that govern us (else the system might be destabilized) but no such rules need apply outside the universe or cause restrictions during the time of creation before the jump-start.

me: The paradox is of course that I am using logic to reason this through :)

me: This is why I like Eastern Orthodoxy. They call it all a mystery and refuse to construct logical arguments.
At least the more sensible of them do :)

friend: I don’t think you can lump logic and causality together. Causality is observed. Logic just is. This was the problem of many philosophers discussing epistemology -- they took things like existence, causality, motion and flow of time, and took as them as logical premises.

me: Logic is also observed

friend: How?

me: Like everything else. You add one pebble to another one, and observe that you now have two, presupposing that if you take one away, you’ll be left with one. You test it, and arrive at a rule.

me: Logic is of course very abstract, and removed from all things sensual, but it is discovered in relation to your observation of how things are

friend: But that’s not a rule, that’s an axiom. Axioms of logic are certainly observed or invented, but logic itself is not.

me: The very existance of the concept of logic is supposed because of a number of axioms that are learned
If no axioms were discoverable, the idea of logic would not exist

friend: Yes it would. The idea of logic is that “If things follow rules, then things follow rules.”
What the rules are, or if they even exist, or if anything follows them is entirely outside the scope of the part of logic I’m referring to.

me: And where does that come from?
When we are outside of both things and rules

friend: brb, you can’t be outside a concept

me: I suppose there’s gotta be a rule of logic that prohibits reasoning against the existence of logic in a logical way. I think I am starting to understand the purpose of all those silly illogical koans.

And then I got hungry and left the chat.