Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Of Funnels, Pandeism, Simulations and Grace.

The Thin End of the Cosmic Funnel***
(Picture from the Wikipedia page on the Big Bang)

In this post I want to reply to “Anonymous” who left a comment on my blog entry here. My blog is a pretty quiet backwater of the www, so when someone comes along with some intelligent comments it’s a big deal on this part of web and so worth showcasing. I actually think of my blogs more as a kind of “get-it-off-my-chest” quasi-private diary of thoughts and reactions to life. But if fair minded people stumble upon them and comment intelligently they’re more than welcome. It’s a bonus!

Anyway, let me first publish (again) Anonymous’ comment:

Tinkering, interruptions, call them what you will, but at the end of the day the question remains, has the deity of your conception sufficient power, intellect, and rationality to set forth a Universe which from its initial state unfolds in accordance with the laws of physics thus established to bring about complexity, life, ultimately intelligent life, without need for any 'interruptions' of any kind? And let me raise the stakes a bit, is able to set forth a Universe in this manner which in its unfolding ends up exactly as the Universe we perceive today, in every particular? For this is precisely the capacity asserted to be that of the Creator in Pandeism.

But I would not wish to leave an incomplete sense of what Pandeism proposes. So here it is.

Pandeism proposes that prior to the existence of our Universe (or, in some sense 'outside' the existence of our Universe, for those who would limit the existence of linear time to being within such existence) there was an entity of, as supposed above, sufficient power, intellect, and rationality to set forth a Universe of the scope and operation of our own. This entity had some rational motivation compelling it to set forth a Universe, perhaps because as a unitary being it could only learn the lessons of dichotomy by experiencing the existence of limited beings interacting with one another. And so, it set forth laws of physics designed to bring about the complexity which would ultimately create these beings, and it poured its energy into that which is now the energy of which our Universe is ultimately made. The laws of physics point to an end but are not determinative. Imagine a large funnel into which many small rubber balls are thrown against the wall; the balls may bounce randomly, unpredictably, but will ultimately end up going down then hole at the narrow end of the funnel. Just so, our laws of physics. No telling when or where exactly intelligent life will develop, or what form it will take, but the brilliantly constructed governing dynamics of our Universe make it highly likely that it will happen at some times and places.

And where is the Creator in all this? Well, it has become our Universe, so it's everywhere; it's power continually sustains all things in being, but it has not the need to 'interrupt' the obedience of every particle of energy in existence to the laws of physics which were well-enough made in the first place to bring about everything required to fulfill its initial motivation. Indeed, it would have an overriding incentive to not interrupt the natural development of things, which would be to not interrupt the natural development of things, and instead see how things unfold, how the true randoms play out, absent any intervention at all.

And what of man's millions of competing revelations and prophecies, visions, scriptures, oracles, miracles, spiritual emotions, supernatural feelings, ghosts, answered prayers, egrigores, and like beliefs? These are after all a constant across all cultures, even those whose take from them is completely opposite to their neighbors, suggesting either a deity doing a rather sloppy job of trying to communicate a single truth, or man doing a rather sloppy (and often self-serving) job of interpreting the unconscious manifestations of the mind of a deity not trying to communicate anything at all. For if, after all, our Creator became the Creation, then we are all fragments of it, and some talented few of us may in our own minds touch some small portion of the incomprehensibly vast and complex mind which underlies all things for however long our Universe is set to bounce around before it ends up down the funnel.

Hi Mr. Anonymous (Or Ms. Anonymous?)

I like your metaphor of a funnel: It gives us a good picture of the blend of law and disorder* that constitutes our physical regime as we understand it. However, we really need to turn the funnel round to get a closer approximation to our Cosmos where the Second Law of Thermodynamics rules OK. In effect the universe is coming out of a funnel and not being pushed into it; but in its “early” stages it is still in the narrow neck of the funnel where there are relatively (and I stress “relatively”) few states available to it. This inverted funnel metaphor gives us one way of picturing why the second law is consistent with self organization: The “neck” of the funnel may be constrictive enough to ensure that of the states available in the constriction the class of life bearing states is proportionately large enough to give them a realistic probability of making a showing. Although I’m actually equivocal about this possibility, the inverted funnel metaphor is one way of picturing why, in spite of the claims of those who should know better such as Granville Sewell, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is, in and of itself, not inconsistent with evolution. But I digress from the real thrust of your comment.

OK, so let’s assume that living structures have a realistic probability of forming given our Cosmic law and disorder regime. That is, expressed mathematically Prob(Life|Physics) has a significant value for realistic Cosmic times. But given these circumstances what I don’t see is why pandeism follows from this; after all, as I have expressed many times before on this blog the law and disorder logic implicit in expressions like Prob(life|Physics) really only amounts to sophisticated descriptive statements from which one infers the likely patterns of cosmic behavior. It is conceivable that the Cosmos could have other patterns of behavior such as the inclusion of many irregular one-off exception events (= “the miraculous”?) making it intractable to the epistemology of law and disorder science, a science whose efficacy depends very much on a strict coherence. Why then should a Cosmos rich in irregularity be any less subject to a pandeist interpretation than the intelligible cosmos we are used to? What difference does the mathematical category of the cosmic behavioral patterns make?

But then again I think I can see where you are coming from. When anyone talks about Deity, particularly transcendent Deity, and its relation to the Cosmos, they have little choice but to talk about it using imaginative metaphorical models that have their origins in this-world-experience. In this connection I can see from the way you write that you intuitively invest far more in the notion of physical law than just a device of mathematical description. Viz:

“….of physics designed to bring about the complexity which would ultimately create these beings, and it poured its energy into that which is now the energy of which our Universe is ultimately made” …. And …….. the obedience of every particle of energy in existence to the laws of physics which were well-enough made in the first place to bring about everything required to fulfill its initial motivation."

You have made an intuitive leap here from physical laws as descriptive devices (which is about as far as the physicist can or should go) to physical laws as some kind of quasi-divine dynamic that is truly creative. Well, may be; who knows how Deity can delegate its energies, but we can’t make much progress on this theology using empirical science: The mathematical category of the patterns of cosmic behavior doesn’t in and of itself reveal much about an ex nihilo creative dynamic. In fact I would go as far as to say that the laws of physics are meaningless unless reified on some kind of ontological substrate, a substrate upon which observation and test can be made; that is, “physical law” is secondary to the primary matrix on which it is reified. Using a Marxist turn of phrase: Physical Law is the secondary mathematical superstructure raised upon a primary ontological foundation.

The “prescriptive” (as opposed to the merely “descriptive”) notion of physical law as a proactive creative dynamic is a very metaphysical, exotic and debatable notion that resides deep in the psyche of Western man. In fact it is intriguing to note that some atheists take it for granted that physical law constitutes a creative dynamic of quasi-divine status transcending the ontology which it appears to “control”. For example Stephen Hawking is somewhat overawed by the apparent “something for nothing” properties of gravity. But as the joke goes, when Hawking claimed that all he needed was gravity and no God, the Almighty said in reply “Go and get your own gravity Hawking!”

What then is at the bottom of this crypto-deist intuition that physical law is autonomous to such an extent that it is itself some kind of self-managing creative/controlling dynamic? I would suggest that this belief has its source in metaphors taken from the world of our everyday experience; I have given more detail in this post. I would therefore put it to you Mr. Anonymous that the pandeism you have expressed and which through physical law finds such a compelling reason to equate deity and the Cosmos, is based on this-world-metaphors.

However, having said that Mr. Anonymous, let me say that the first set of comments you left me gave me an issue I’m still very much chewing over. I was struck by your suggestion that perhaps Deity has the motive of creating a universal simulation because the outcome is unknown; after all, if Deity is pure Mind then perhaps like ourselves it passes from states of unknowing to knowing as it thinks through and explores the implications of certain problems in algorithmic logic. A corollary of this seems to be that the Cosmos is in some sense Deity – or at least the thoughts of Deity and therefore we have here a hint of pandesim.

But even if we take that latter suggestion on board it is still far too strong an identification to equate the Cosmos with Deity and Deity with the cosmos. By way of illustration let’s use the metaphor of a computer running a software simulation, a metaphor of which you said in the comments section here you liked. Let us note the paradox inherent in computer simulations: The simulation is in one sense part of the computer and yet in another sense it is very much other than the computer; the computer has a deeper and “firmer” reality than the simulation and significantly the simulation at no time has a life of its own; the software can’t run itself – the computer must be always there sustaining the simulation. Moreover the computer has the power to interrupt the flow of “normalcy” at anytime either through a hardware or system software interrupt. (Hence my preference for the notion of “interruptions” rather than “interventions”). Also it is possible for the computer to hold meta-information about the simulation it is running, information that may not exist in the simulation itself.

This computer simulation, like much talk about God, is, after all, a metaphor and therefore likely to only capture a facet of the nature of Deity and its relation to creation. However I like this particular metaphor for two reasons: Firstly because it conveys the sheer contingency of the cosmos; no simulation has a logical necessity to exist; the internal logic of the simulation is descriptive of the simulation but it in no way delivers aseity or self explanation. And secondly I like it because the simulation metaphor conveys something of the paradox of the simultaneous eminence and immanence of the Godhead that seems to have been recognized in Acts 17:27-28.

I also quite like the author-book metaphor as it has some features in its favour. But I do take your point that this metaphor has the failing of leading to a problematical dichotomy between God’s vision and a separate created world. I have always been in favour of employing multiple metaphors about God in order to bring facets of His nature to the fore and I try to avoid the over interpretation and over selling of any particular metaphor.

You refer to the “The deity of my conception”. My guess is that the majority of people have a conception of deity somewhere in the corner of their minds. In fact there are probably nearly as many conceptions of God as there are people, although those conceptions will likely have a lot of overlap with one another. Exclusive use of proprietary pet metaphors in trying to express our ideas about God can lead to much grief. For example attempts to put the doctrine of the Trinity on a clearer footing by over interpreting and overselling a particular metaphor such as “modalism”, for example, quickly leads to shouts of “heresy” from others**. But in the face of human cognitive infirmity we really need to bear in mind some of the other attributes God might have. You talk about God setting up a cosmic simulation motivated by an experimental curiosity. But if we are to hazard such an anthropomorphic motive why not hazard other motives such as love of the objects created? In fact this affective attribute of God is largely the concern of the New Testament; such a Deity may well be gracious toward our cognitive infirmity as we attempt to conceive His nature. He may look upon our attempts to describe Him as might a Parent who sees His child drawing a stickman depiction of Him. The offspring of the Almighty may abuse one another over the state of their respective stick-man depictions of deity, but I suspect God Himself has a very different point of view of those attempts.

Thanks again Mr. Anonymous for turning up. In these days when brain dead bigotry and block-headed religiosity gets such an airing it’s nice to see some fair minded intelligence being applied. I’ve really benefitted from your input.

A Note on Science
What is the scientific status of the speculative ideas I have discussed above? Scientific testability comes in degrees: Roughly speaking the higher the level and the more significant the conjectured ontology becomes the less tractable it is to an elementary hypothesis testing epistemology. This leaves little choice but to proceed with a “post-facto interpolation method”; that is, joining the dots of experience with imaginative background sense making structures. See here for more details.

Foot notes: 
*  Law and Disorder is my short hand for patterns described by a combination of algorithms (or "functions") and statistics.

** Here are some so-called Christian “heresies” (re: the Godhead) as listed by Reachout Trust, Ministry to the Cults: Aphthartodocetism, Monophysitism, Apollinarianism, Alogi, Arianism, Docetism, Ebionitism, Encratite, Eutychainism, Gnosticism, Marcionism, Monarchianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, Montanism, Nestorianism, Pelagianism, Sebellianism. The criterion used to identify these attempts at grappling with the nature of God as “heresy” sometimes involves a splitting of hairs that would probably make most of us “heretics”. God help us!

*** The funnel like shape of space-time diagram here is only meant to be symbolic of the funnel like shape of  the  disorder vs. time graph. 


Anonymous said...

This is some very interesting commentary. One thing jumps out at me -- well it is interesting to speak of a 'need to turn the funnel around' as indeed there is no reason to suppose that the funnel metaphor is a one-way proposition; indeed, there would be a beautiful symmetry to the notion that what we are presented with is a pair of funnels facing one another, one from which everything pours into our expanding Universe, and another into which this material bounces about until its actions bring about an experience of existence through self-reflective life; unpredictably in the details and yet inevitably in the results.

Timothy V Reeves said...

Unless there is more physics out there waiting to be discovered, the one-way funnel is difficult to avoid I think:

1. If the universe is deterministic a la decoherence theory, say, then by far and away the majority of trajectories of change lead to maximum disorder and it looks as though we are on one of those trajectories - unless of course, the extraordinarily rare has been selected for us - which I suppose is possible!

2. If the universe is perturbed by absolutely random events a la the quantum state vector jumps (my view) then it looks as though our physics isn't constrictive enough to invert the funnel. But once again it is conceivable that the extraordinarily rare could still happen!

Anonymous said...

You ask, "But if we are to hazard such an anthropomorphic motive why not hazard other motives such as love of the objects created?"

I think this is a misapplication of the concept of anthropomorphisation, and one which I frequently run into with theists and atheists alike. I have a garden, and certain of the plants in my garden are sensitive, which in the context of gardening essentially means that they react very specifically to conditions like not getting sufficient water. And I as often suggest that when these plants appear to be wilting and drooping that they are 'thirsty'; and when, after water has been supplied, they return to their full bushiness, that they are now 'happy.' It is, obviously, as much a fancy for me to speak of my plants being 'happy' in any human sense of the experience as it might be for me to suggest that they 'love' me and respond to my ministrations out of love -- but this does not mean that it is folly to speak of them being 'thirsty,' for that is a different class of characterization, one which does not require as a prerequisite the assumption of emotions learned through the human experience. Do mice or canaries or rattlesnakes feel love as humans do? Who knows, but we can be assured from observing them that they feel thirst. And do plants feel thirst as animals do? They have no throat to parch but metaphors aside it is clear that they fare poorly for lack of water, and return to health when water is given.

The distance between anthropomorphic and actual comparisons stretches even farther when applied to fundamental forces -- does Earth ring the Sun out of love? Are masses 'attracted' to one another in a way comparable to the sexually dimorphic mating impulse? Do electrons beam adoration at protons? Surely not, for these forces exist inherently whereas love is, after all, a realization after the fact -- a consequence, and not a precedence, of our human interactions with other beings. And so such a consequential experience can never rationally be the motivation which is imagined to stimulate Creation (especially a Creation wherein it is impossible to predict what precisely will arise from it). But, in the vain and selfish conditioning which our experience of interactions imposes on the limited human mind from the time of our first human contact, it is only natural that we should desire and imagine and even project upon ourselves 'love' emanating from a metaphysical energy.

I have written in other venues of the relationship between the principles of conatus, ketosis, and kenosis -- conatus (an irresisteble tendency inherent in things) can compel ketosis (the metabolising by a thing of some part of itself in order to preserve other more valuable parts); which for an entity of energy, a pure logical form, would manifest as kenosis -- a transformative emptying of the self. And so it is precisely because our Creator does not, and can not, know what 'love' is (or any other emotional experience which comes from the interaction of multiple limited beings) that it is driven to remedy this gap by existing as a Universe wherein these things can come to pass. This can be proved by asking a very simple question of an emotional analogue: what does our Creator fear? The question itself is nonsensical, for a relatively omnipotent and omniscient entity would have nothing to fear at all; the sentimentation would be utterly foreign to the experiential understanding of such an entity....

Anonymous said...

But humans have time and again proved very good at projecting these human biases on things which do not, and logically can not, possess them. We speak of the Sun smiling upon us, of the rain punishing us, of all of nature acting for our benefit. But oddly enough, we are beginning to discover that we are merely a waystation on the path to greater future beings. If one imagines that our Creator loves us, one must now wonder whether our Creator equally loved our Australopithecene ancestors, or their own more apelike forebears, or the lemurlike ancestors preceding them, going back to the bacteria from which multicellular animals would eventually evolve. And, tracking back the other way, as science and technology enable us to enter an era of transhumanism, biological augmentation, artificial intelligence -- every generation has thought itself to be the generation which finally 'got it,' and we are with particularity able to look back upon past generations and so how absurd were their notions of biology and chemistry and astronomy, and even theology.... but some future generation (perhaps one so advanced that we would not even recognize them as human!!) will look back on our time from a position of superior knowledge, perhaps from a time of pure Pandeism or Panendeism or some as yet uncalculated formulation, and think the same thing of us, will marvel at the fact that they evolved from naked apes with needlessly inefficient organs and brains. And perhaps the thing which will amuse them the most is our vain, self-serving, human notion that we were the object of the attentions of our Universe's Creator.

Anonymous said...

As to the one-way funnel problem, we are not speaking of a literal funnel in either direction. Entirely to the contrary, we see that the physics of our Universe very readily generates the requisite complexities. Stars -- hundreds of billions of them in our galaxy alone, and hundreds of billions more galaxies beyond that, which inevitably create some proportion of heavy elements; and planets -- perhaps as many again as there are stars -- wherein these elements congeal into complex, sometimes self-replicating molecules. All of which bespeaks a very complex and very brilliantly calculated (but very distant) design. And one which certainly allows for humans to come to exist on Earth, but (as hard a blow to our ego as it may be) does not require our kind, or our world, or our entire galaxy to ever have come into existence. And may well take little notice of it, if there are things out there which more cognisant with the designer's goals.

Timothy V Reeves said...

Thanks very much for those thoughts Anonymous.

The reasoning you advance regarding plants etc can also be applied to humans: Seen from the third person perspective humans are never more that the dynamics of particles (or whatever). But few humans with the ability to empathize think of other humans just in terms of this third person perspective; rather they also think of the third person story being accompanied by a parallel first person story of conscious cognition; they project a parallel background ontology of consciousness and feeling to accompany the observable aspects of personality.

True, there may be a point by point conformity between the third and first person perspectives (in fact I rather think there may be), but it is impossible to purge the first person from science because in the final analysis the third person perspective itself assumes the experimental observations of the first person. As the philosopher John Searle says; the first person perspective looks to be an irreducible feature of our universe.

It is only in this context of the projected qualia of conscious cognition that the concept of “love” is fully meaningful: One cannot show the same kind of love to what one thinks of as a purely particulate ontology of interacting neurons as one does to an ontology where one proactively projects a stream of conscious cognition onto the observed “physical” façade; I refer to this act of projection as the “empathic construction”.

Applying the foregoing to theism, I would want to say two things. Firstly, talking about Deity purely in terms of elemental objects observed by the third person carries with it an implicit assumption about the existence of the first person perspective in as much as these objects must be subject to empirical investigation by the first person. Secondly, it is clearly at variance with conventional theism to reduce Deity to the perspective of third person objects because conventional theism usually projects a first person perspective onto Deity. If this projection is assumed notions of Divine motivation and emotion then make sense. However, if you, Anonymous, don’t feel you can relate to Deity via an empathic construction then it goes without saying that you are free to work out your picture reality without it.

Timothy V Reeves said...

As you know, the Christian view is that Christ is the express image of God: He is the revelation without which our thoughts about Deity are cut adrift. Being a Person He is the vehicle that prompts us to project an empathic construction onto Deity. In Him we see the “Father”. In Him we see that Divine love does have meaning. In Him we understand that God is not an impersonal elemental force but a Person. In Him we see that the Divine is willing and able to identify with humanity to the extent that He knows not only fear, pain, hunger etc but above all love. In Him we understand that the first and third person perspectives are inextricably intertwined. In Him there is no longer an artificial separation between the third and first person perspectives; in fact, the “empathic construction” is seen to be the most significant feature of our universe, one that gives it meaning, deep meaning.

Just what the dispensation was between the Almighty and our primate ancestors is difficult to say. But like the bringing to maturity of the prodigal son, the evolutionary development of humanity reached a point when willful rejection of the right values for societal living (What the Bible identifies as the “Fruit of the Spirit” – see Galatians 5:22) was a possibility. It is the rejection of those values that the blighted word of “Sin” designates, the issue that is so central to Christianity.

Obviously I’m not familiar with your theories relating conatus, ketosis and kenosis. My overall impression is that you have developed a narrative here that sees Deity as the interplay of inscrutable elemental forces or at most a distant impersonal intelligence. Perhaps I’m still a bit of a primitive here, but for me the only way I envisage of connecting with the Almighty is via the projection of an empathic construction and this is prompted by the historical Christ. My hope and belief is in a personal God. If it is any easier for you, then think of this belief as my mythological story with which I try to come to terms with reality. I personally find it a “mythology” of unparalleled beauty, the pearl of great price. I realize that you may find this expressed view annoying.

The funnel: I was using this metaphor to illustrate the purely scientific point of increasing entropy. However, regarding our importance in the Designer’s goals: A possible interpretation which suggests we may be far more important than we think can be found in these posts:

I was interested in your illusion to Panediesm. On the related notion of Panetheism let me say this: If the cosmos can be thought of as in some sense “the thoughts of Deity” then Panetheism has something going for it.

Anonymous said...

Very good responses, which lead me to think that our fundamental ideas may not be so far apart at all. Now I would agree, it is possible to look at other humans in this third person reductive sense, but I don't think it's quite possible to look at oneself that way. And I think our Creator, far from being distant from us, is us -- which is to say, we are part of it, within it, and it experiences us simultaneously in the third person and in our first person selves as well.

Now, how does that play into the Christian view of Christ? Well 'Christ' is a title of sorts, not necessarily attached to but a single person. We are used to thinking of the collocation, 'Jesus Christ' as if there was but one and there it was; but if Pandeism is true then it is mankind collectively which is man's 'Christ' -- to quote Obama somewhat blithely, "we are the ones we've been waiting for."

Thanks for the blog ref, I'll check it out shortly. Blessings!!

Timothy V Reeves said...

Thanks very much “Knuje” (I assume from your blog that’s what you would like to be called). Yes I think we have some substantial points of contact; I very much agree that humans don’t see themselves from a purely third person perspective. I can see how your ideas on the very close identification of God with his universe do concur with aspects of Christianity. (I think you know about Mat 25:35-41)

I would say that my position is, however, more that of panetheism/panedeism – I see this universe as a strict subset of the mind of deity, thus satisfying, perhaps, the paradox of eminence and immanence. This means I fight shy of a strong pandeist position: I would still want to retain the idea that there is a sense in which God is other than the cosmos. (Using the simulation metaphor; the computer is in one sense other than what it is simulating).

For the foregoing reasons and also probably because I’m rather steeped in a Christian theist view of God, I have to say that statements like “Our Creator is us” can make my flesh creep; the spectre of divine pretenders raises its ugly head. But I realize that you didn’t mean it as simply as that because you qualify as follows:

which is to say, we are part of it, within it, and it experiences us simultaneously in the third person and in our first person selves as well.

…which I find reminiscent of Acts 17:27-28.

Anonymous said...

I was actually rather enjoying being called 'Mr. Anonymous,' though I was about to insist on being called 'Doctor Anonymous' -- not that I am claiming to have a doctorate (or claiming not to have one), but it sounds like a neat comic book character. I believe you mean panendeism/panentheism in your above post. I am familiar with the biblical passages which you allude to, and I think their presence support the general proposition that scriptures reflect man's miscomprehended glimpses of the sustaining mind of an underlying Creator -- and that, though these reports will inevitably be errant and biased towards upholding human vanities, sometimes their writers will get some fraction of the gist of things right.

Timothy V Reeves said...

...I'm not too hot on spelling - mild dyslexia.

Misapprehension and vanity are, I'm sure you'll agree, affecting factors in all human connections, especially vanity - as that musty old word of yesteryear has it, "Sin" is the word with the "I" in the middle.

I take the view that when it comes to knowing God we are rather depending on the grace of self disclosure; assuming there is such a thing as "God's grace". In fact our dependency on an assumed grace is so comprehensive that our quest is likely to be a vanity of vanities otherwise and we may as well all go home now.

Anonymous said...

Now, "the grace of self disclosure," there is an interesting proposition worthy of examination. For if the Creator of which we speak is universal, then such grace must be universal as well. And indeed, there are many different faiths who each believe themselves to have received such a sort of disclosure in the form of a revelation or of visions bestowed upon persons held holy to them. And yet, for a universal deity, any such 'disclosure' must be equally universal, and the falsity of a claimed disclosure is proved by its no universality-- that is, by the existence of persons as to whom such deity has lacked this proposed grace, and who have therefore not been provided with this disclosure.

Naturally, it will not do to suppose that grace is shown by making a disclosure to some, with the detain knowledge that the limited and fallible recipients of this disclosure would fail to reach the geographically remote (and indeed, in the times of Lao Tze, of Jesus, of Mohammad, it was literally a physically impossibility for recipients of claimed disclosures to reach most of the people then living, disqualifying all of these as products of a being with the necessary universality of grace.

And so, having disposed of these nonuniversal, and so man-made 'revelations,' these mutilitious malinterpretations of the mind of our Creator, we must ask, what is the which is in fact universally revealed to all people, no matter when or where born, no matter how remote, no matter what their parents or their grandparents or their greatgrandparents taught them?

There is a universality of physics, of gravity and electricity and refraction, and biochemistry, which is discoverable to all people at all times who seek to investigate the physical manifestation of our Creation. There is an equal universality of pure mathematics. The value of pi, though wrong in scriptures, is right in the world itself no matter where the enquirer sojourns.

Is is where the notion of a grace of self disclosure leads, to the only disclosure which is competently universal, and which in turn is the one which leads back to Pandeism, logic derived and fully explanatory of the mathematics and physics by which we stand.


Timothy V Reeves said...

Thanks very much for the post Knuje; always welcome! I certainly agree with you that, as you say, physics and mathematics, comes under the heading of a general/universal grace of self-disclosure. I also agree that the epistemic arrogance of many sectarian religions who make claim to being the objects of a very narrow and exclusive grace of self-disclosure results in a contradiction! In my own Christian tradition I only have to think of characters like Charles Taze Russell (JWs), Joseph Smith, (Mormons), David Berg (Children of God), David Koresh (Adventist), Ellen G White (Adventist), Ken Ham (AiG), William Tapley (failed prophet), Harold Camping (ditto), Stephen Green (a nasty bigoted fellow countryman), plus numerous obnoxious “Christian” specimens I have met etc, to illustrate the plausibility of your reasoning; the “Christianity” found here smacks too much of human conceit and spiritual egotism to look anything like an authentic grace of self-disclosure! There is no grace here, so I’m with you on this! Christian exclusivism is, it seems, an oxymoron.

But what I would also want to add this. Though physics and mathematics is a gracious universal self-disclosure of the intelligence of deity I’m also interested whether or not that deity has other personal characteristics that “he/she” might reveal about “him/herself”. Expressing this using my own tradition I see this supplementary revelation of personality coming through the Christ:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4)

But I’m certainly not using the above Bible text to claim that only those who call themselves “Christians” can grasp and submit to the nature of God’s personality; the Christian egotists I’ve listed above are contra-evidence for that! For example here’s a quote from a Buddhist:

I am weak and sinful, and have no hope in myself; my hope is all in Amida Buddha. I believe him to be the Supreme Being. Because of the wickedness of man, and because of human sorrow, Amida Buddha became incarnate and came to earth to deliver man; and my hope and the world’s hope is to be found in his suffering love. He has entered humanity to save it; and he alone can save. He constantly watches over and helps all who trust him. I am not in a hurry to die, but I am ready when the time comes; and I trust that through the gracious love of Amida Buddha I shall enter into a future life which I believe to be a state of conscious existence, and where I shall be free from sorrow. I believe that he hears my prayer, and that he has guided me thus far, and my hope is in his suffering love.

In terms of personality that God looks very much like my God!

As a general comment let me say that given God’s immanence I have a lot common with your pandiesm.