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Author Topic:   Can Christians Believe That God Is Immanant In The Natural World?
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 46 of 88 (410877)
07-17-2007 4:14 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by anastasia
07-17-2007 1:41 PM


Re: Layers of Causality
Far as I know, pantheism does not worship a sentient or thinking God. In patheism, God is energy or force. There are many philosophies which are based on a connection to the universe and nature.

The terms energy and force as used by such belief systems bear little resemblence to anything physicists would recognise.

1) We both agree that unless there is infinite regress there must be a cause/event/effect that itself was not caused by something preceding it
2) We both agree that the universe exists

Yes, although we could question either.


Absolutely! But we had to find some common ground:)

Ok. I don't know too much about quantum physics or mechanics at the 'initial' level. If they are effects which occur with in the universe, would they be able to occur before the universe formed?

As I understand it the universe IS the quantum effect in such scenarios. The universe is equivelent to the "virtual particle" that "pops into existence" as the result of quantum fluctuations.
http://universe-review.ca/R03-01-quantumflu.htm
Applying this to the universe is of course hypothetical but it is based on extrapolating observed quantum effects in our universe.

A better description would be that I believe the finite can not exist without the infinite. The universe is known to have a beginning, so it makes sense to me to say it must have been caused by something greater than that.

Why? If you accept an uncaused phenomeon what leads you to the conclusion that it must be infinite?
You have introduced a whole new criteria of the finite from the infinite but what is this based on? Why do you believe this?

You regress one step further than I do in terms of causes and effects
You do not do this based on any evidence

At this level of thought, there is no evidence for either scenerio.


There is no evidence for a creator. There is no evidence for a creator of a creator. There is no evidence for the creator of a creator of a creator.......etc. Why do you stop at one uncaused beyond the universe itself? Why not 2 or 3 more regressive steps?
Why go beyond the universe we already have as the uncaused?

Because we don't know either, my view can still make sense. Even if I do regress further than you do. So what?

Like I said why not regress 10 more steps? Surely it is logical to stop at the first uncaused unless there is good reason to go beyond that?
In my view, a universe composed of 'stuff' could not have appeared from nothing unless somehow 'nothing' is an irreducible complexity

You assume that "stuff" cannot come from nothing. This is a BIG assumption and very possibly wrong.
What has complexity to do with anything?

Basically there is no logical justification for the extra regressive step you take.
BUT now you have introduced both finitenes and complexity as extra criteria with no physical evidence based reason to do so.
I can only assume that you are doing this to further add to your belief that "God" requires a role.
You are arbitarily setting up the criteria to justify your predefined conclusion - namely that God is, or has a role, in nature.

BUT the criteria you define are based on nothing more than your beliefs.
There is no reason to conclude that relative complexity or finiteness are criteria for the uncaused under discussion except for your desire to find a role for God.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 45 by anastasia, posted 07-17-2007 1:41 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 49 by anastasia, posted 07-17-2007 10:52 PM Straggler has responded

  
Grizz
Member (Idle past 3549 days)
Posts: 318
Joined: 06-08-2007


Message 47 of 88 (410897)
07-17-2007 6:18 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by anastasia
07-15-2007 11:06 PM


Re: Layers of Causality
If we don't know WHAT was the first cause, how can we possibly decide whether we are pushing it backward or forward a step? It is only upon deciding that nature was the first cause, that you can say the supernatural is 'extra'. How can the 'natural' be the cause of anything if nothing natural existed? It's pretty simple. If nature is THE cause, then nature is God. You just don't mention it. I am declaring that WHATEVER is the uncaused cause is not known, and until it is known, God is not an extra step. He is the same step.

I think it is safe to say we both agree on a matter of prime importance in this discussion: We both agree that not all effects must be causes. Something must be fundamental to avoid an infinite regress of causality.

I have presented a simple argument that the causality present in nature derives it's source from fundamental cause(s) which are not effects. If these are indeed fundamental, then asking for the source of this causality is meaningless. It would make as much sense as a geneticist inquiring into the genotype that expresses a genotype.

I am not claiming a further level of contingency cannot exist, I am simply stating that, based on what we know about physical existence, there is no reason to conclude one is necessary. You really have not supplied any argument that would indicate why you think it is necessary.

You also are mixing and matching categories by trying to assign a supernatural category to the natural. By definition, God would be external from the causality that exists in nature - God is supernatural. God cannot be part of nature, the creator cannot be part of the created. Going a step further by equating God with nature simply results in a redundancy or a tautology.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by anastasia, posted 07-15-2007 11:06 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 48 by anastasia, posted 07-17-2007 10:18 PM Grizz has not yet responded

    
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4031 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 48 of 88 (410913)
07-17-2007 10:18 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by Grizz
07-17-2007 6:18 PM


Re: Layers of Causality
Grizz writes:

I am not claiming a further level of contingency cannot exist, I am simply stating that, based on what we know about physical existence, there is no reason to conclude one is necessary. You really have not supplied any argument that would indicate why you think it is necessary.

I don't actually think anything is necessary. I have always believed in God, and I think that if I have so many other 'arguments' for God, then this common ground, give or take a level, is too close to being a draw for me to give up my belief just because it isn't necessary.

Going a step further by equating God with nature simply results in a redundancy or a tautology.

Well, in a simple way, I take the word YHWH 'I am Who am' and I might say for you and others it should read 'I am What Is'. I don't think the first cause need be a Who, but with the limitations of langauge, What doesn't quite cut it.

I am no Hebrew scholar or anything, but whatever it is which caused the universe, it can't be summed up or understood any better in a name. Maybe that is myself being mushy or soft. It is still a good reminder that the 'Christian Merciful Avenging Sacrificing God' is just tons of stuff we added along the way.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by Grizz, posted 07-17-2007 6:18 PM Grizz has not yet responded

    
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4031 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 49 of 88 (410915)
07-17-2007 10:52 PM
Reply to: Message 46 by Straggler
07-17-2007 4:14 PM


Re: Layers of Causality
Straggler writes:

The terms energy and force as used by such belief systems bear little resemblence to anything physicists would recognise.

Just as 'soul' bears little resemblence to anything a doctor would recognize.

Applying this to the universe is of course hypothetical but it is based on extrapolating observed quantum effects in our universe.

Yeah, I still don't get how something observed in the universe could have existed before the universe was here to observe it in. I guess anything is possible, but I will try to learn more about it.

Why? If you accept an uncaused phenomeon what leads you to the conclusion that it must be infinite?
You have introduced a whole new criteria of the finite from the infinite but what is this based on? Why do you believe this?

Probably nothing more than familiarity with the idea, and no reason to believe otherwise. I mean, infinite things can exist, and finite things can exist within them.

Like I said why not regress 10 more steps? Surely it is logical to stop at the first uncaused unless there is good reason to go beyond that?

Because there can only be ONE uncaused, and I can't say 'I am going beyond that' if I don't know what THAT is. Right now, I am still on the first cause, the first cause which caused the universe. Let me put it this way. How do I know we aren't talking about the same thing?

BUT the criteria you define are based on nothing more than your beliefs.
There is no reason to conclude that relative complexity or finiteness are criteria for the uncaused under discussion except for your desire to find a role for God.

I don't need to find a role for God. He is what he is. BUT, it was sort of the purpose of the thread to find a description of God. Is God immanant in Nature? You say God is Nature. Not in so many words. :) Anyway, the whole subject of infinity can probably be traced back to some philosopher or another, and I can probably pick their brains, but I don't have anything to prove here. All the philosophizing in the world won't prove anything. I believe what makes sense to me, same for you. We can always learn more. Right now, you are also fitting your beliefs about the existence of God into your beliefs about the origins of the universe. What would be really crazy is if either of us weren't. I mean, would an atheist find it necessary to look for any further cause than nature itself? Wouldn't it be rather ludicris?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 46 by Straggler, posted 07-17-2007 4:14 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 50 by Straggler, posted 07-18-2007 6:52 AM anastasia has responded

    
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 50 of 88 (410961)
07-18-2007 6:52 AM
Reply to: Message 49 by anastasia
07-17-2007 10:52 PM


Single Step Regression
You are missing the point somewhat in your desire to equate nature with God and to find a role for God generally.

It is a question of unnecessary regression vs necessary regression. I will try and spell it out.

For the sake of argument lets assume that infinite regression of cause is not under consideration (it could be but so far neither of us have seriously postulated this)

So we have -

Assumption 1: Infinite regression of cause is not valid
Assumption 2: The observable evidence suggests that the universe does physically exist

Conclusion 1: There must be an uncaused phenomenon at some point in the regressive chain
Conclusion 2: Either the universe is the itself the uncaused phenomenon OR it was created by a phenomenon which itself may or may not have a cause, which in turn may or may not have a cause etc. etc. until we reach an uncaused phenomenon after X number of regressions.

Based on the observable evidence at hand ALONE the rational conclusion is therefore that the universe is itself the uncaused phenomenon as this is the only phenomenon for which we have any physical evidence.

ANY other conclusion, involving any number of prior causes of any sort, relies on additional assumptions for which there is NO evidence whatsoever.

Is God immanant in Nature?

No.
Your attempts to make it seem so are like banging square pegs into round holes with a mallet whilst ignoring the round pegs that would fit perfectly into the available holes.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 49 by anastasia, posted 07-17-2007 10:52 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 51 by anastasia, posted 07-18-2007 11:10 AM Straggler has responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4031 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 51 of 88 (410980)
07-18-2007 11:10 AM
Reply to: Message 50 by Straggler
07-18-2007 6:52 AM


Re: Single Step Regression
Straggler writes:

You are missing the point somewhat in your desire to equate nature with God and to find a role for God generally.

No, I got the point since the first post, but it is not all black and white.

I think I have already mentioned that it is quite possible IMO that all of us are talking about the same thing, with a different description.

Conclusion 2: Either the universe is the itself the uncaused phenomenon OR it was created by a phenomenon which itself may or may not have a cause, which in turn may or may not have a cause etc. etc. until we reach an uncaused phenomenon after X number of regressions.

Either way you look at it, something caused the universe. There had to be some first phenomenon which propelled the rest, unless the universe has always existed. Are you denying this?

Based on the observable evidence at hand ALONE the rational conclusion is therefore that the universe is itself the uncaused phenomenon as this is the only phenomenon for which we have any physical evidence.

The universe could also be said to be the only evidence we have that there was a cause, and we still don't know what that was.

ANY other conclusion, involving any number of prior causes of any sort, relies on additional assumptions for which there is NO evidence whatsoever.

Additional assumptions? I am assuming the same things you are.

A. the universe exists

B. there must have been a first cause

I could go further and say something can not come from nothing, so there must have been a something which has always existed. That may be 'additional' but it is not illogical.

No.
Your attempts to make it seem so are like banging square pegs into round holes with a mallet whilst ignoring the round pegs that would fit perfectly into the available holes.

I am not making any attempts. I was asking the opinion of fellow Christians. I have no vested interest in the outcome of the conversation.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 50 by Straggler, posted 07-18-2007 6:52 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 52 by Straggler, posted 07-18-2007 11:42 AM anastasia has responded

    
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 52 of 88 (410983)
07-18-2007 11:42 AM
Reply to: Message 51 by anastasia
07-18-2007 11:10 AM


The Key Point
Either way you look at it, something caused the universe. There had to be some first phenomenon which propelled the rest, unless the universe has always existed. Are you denying this?

Yes I am denying that. That is the whole point you are missing.

The universe is the uncaused phenomenon. There is no preceding cause or phenomenon or event.
In the quantum fluctuation hypothesis the universe IS the quantum fluctuation. NOT just the result of such an event but the event itself.

It seems that this fundamental point is where we have been getting each other confused.

At some point in the chain of regression there has to be something that is uncaused. Agreed?

We accept that the universe exists.
I am saying that uncaused something IS the universe as it is the only thing that we know to exist.

You insist on going one step further back to invoke God but this is not necessary or rational as there is no evidence for the existence of anything preceding the universe itself.

Additional assumptions? I am assuming the same things you are.

At various points you have used finiteness, eternalness and complexity to justify different assertions or beliefs and the "something from nothing is impossible" assumption is implicit in your whole argument.


A. the universe exists

B. there must have been a first cause

A - Yes
B - No. There must have been an uncaused phenomenon (i.e. the universe itself). That is subtly different (and one regressional step less) than the uncaused cause of the universe you speak of.

I am not making any attempts. I was asking the opinion of fellow Christians. I have no vested interest in the outcome of the conversation.

If I am hijacking your thread down a path you do not want to pursue let me know and I will stop. This was not my intention and I have been quite enjoying (if getting a little frustrated by) the conversation.

Edited by Straggler, : Spelling and clarity

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 51 by anastasia, posted 07-18-2007 11:10 AM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 53 by anastasia, posted 07-18-2007 2:47 PM Straggler has responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4031 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 53 of 88 (411021)
07-18-2007 2:47 PM
Reply to: Message 52 by Straggler
07-18-2007 11:42 AM


Re: The Key Point
Straggler writes:

If I am hijacking your thread down a path you do not want to pursue let me know and I will stop. This was not my intention and I have been quite enjoying (if getting a little frustrated by) the conversation.

Not at all. No Christian has responded anyway.

Don't be frustrated. You may be assuming that I am trying to prove the need for God. I already konw that is not possible in the objective sense.

I am maybe trying to prove that there is a need, if we are to avoid infinite regress, to come to a cut-off point in causality. That very need may have been the foundation of all 'god concepts'.

I do not care one way or the other that you say 'the universe is contigent upon nothing' and immanant in itself. The important thing is, that if we accept ideas like that, we have understood all that is understood in the word 'God'.

It does seem a teeny bit simplistic to me to say that the universe is self-made, only because this 'obvious conclusion' and along with it, naturalism, and nature worship, etc. is amoung the earliest forms of religion that existed. Why did men conclude that the universe needed a cause? Well, to some, THAT seems obvious. To hear that the effect is the cause, and the cause is the effect, sounds like a conundrum. I suppose that is why we don't refer to God as a cause, but as a creator. The Thing which made something happen from nothing.

The amazing thing is, that in a world where everything came from nothing, the very first movements in the universe should appear the same to everybody. The should appear exactly as if they were poofed there by magic. Therefore I don't understand the arguments from Christians concerning the findings of science, nor really see why people don't believe in this 'magic' called the Unseen. I think it is amazing how theologians had a grip on these ideas long before the discovery of anything 'quantum'.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 52 by Straggler, posted 07-18-2007 11:42 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 54 by Grizz, posted 07-18-2007 6:23 PM anastasia has not yet responded
 Message 55 by Straggler, posted 07-18-2007 6:32 PM anastasia has responded

    
Grizz
Member (Idle past 3549 days)
Posts: 318
Joined: 06-08-2007


Message 54 of 88 (411071)
07-18-2007 6:23 PM
Reply to: Message 53 by anastasia
07-18-2007 2:47 PM


Re: The Key Point
It does seem a teeny bit simplistic to me to say that the universe is self-made.

We are not stating the Universe is self-made, just non-contingent and causally fundamental.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 53 by anastasia, posted 07-18-2007 2:47 PM anastasia has not yet responded

    
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 55 of 88 (411073)
07-18-2007 6:32 PM
Reply to: Message 53 by anastasia
07-18-2007 2:47 PM


I am maybe trying to prove that there is a need, if we are to avoid infinite regress, to come to a cut-off point in causality. That very need may have been the foundation of all 'god concepts'.

Regress could in theory stop at any point.
We could look for the immanence of the creator of the creator in nature.
But nobody does. Why is that? Why do theists only ever go back one regressive step from the universe itself?
I can see no reason for this other than lack of necessity and desire for simplicity.

We can attempt to explain what we observe. We observe the universe. We cannot observe a creator and science suggests that this is an unnecessary step anyway.

1) We observe the universe.
2) We have a widely successful theory in quantum theory that suggests it is theoretically posible for something such as the universe to come from nothing.
3) We have observed the uncaused and spontaneous quantum "creation" of subatomic particles

Whilst the formation of the universe is admittedly a fairly major extrapolation of the above, it does seem to make the God hypothesis.....well just unneccessary.

I think it is amazing how theologians had a grip on these ideas long before the discovery of anything 'quantum'.

Well unsurprisingly I disagree. Theologians have applied the natural human common sense principle of cause and effect. Quite possibly erroneously as it actually turns out.
Whats more they have not even applied theprinciple of cause and effect properly as any questions as to what caused the creator or how many steps of regression are necessary are met with meaningless mumbo jumbo about infinite eternal omniscient omnipotent ultimately complex beings of which we cannot and (usually) should not ask questions of anyway.

That is not insight. In my opinion it is dishonesty.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 53 by anastasia, posted 07-18-2007 2:47 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 56 by anastasia, posted 07-18-2007 6:52 PM Straggler has responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4031 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 56 of 88 (411076)
07-18-2007 6:52 PM
Reply to: Message 55 by Straggler
07-18-2007 6:32 PM


Straggler writes:

Well unsurprisingly I disagree. Theologians have applied the natural human common sense principle of cause and effect. Quite possibly erroneously as it actually turns out.

If that is all you have taken from this discussion...sorry.

I thought it was already clear that theology had come to the same conclusions you have.

A. There is no need for infinite regress
B. the universe came from nothing

Whats more they have not even applied theprinciple of cause and effect properly as any questions as to what caused the creator or how many steps of regression are necessary are met with meaningless mumbo jumbo about infinite eternal omniscient omnipotent ultimately complex beings of which we cannot and (usually) should not ask questions of anyway.

All of these 'mumbo-jumbos' are not part of this discussion. They are extrapolated from Biblical accounts once the principle of the Uncaused has been established.

I mentioned infinity only because you had asked for my opinion.

Whilst the formation of the universe is admittedly a fairly major extrapolation of the above, it does seem to make the God hypothesis.....well just unneccessary.

Or, it makes the theologians right all along. All that we can observe, came from nothing. If you prove that, that's one point in favour of Genesis.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 55 by Straggler, posted 07-18-2007 6:32 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 57 by Straggler, posted 07-18-2007 7:05 PM anastasia has responded

    
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 57 of 88 (411080)
07-18-2007 7:05 PM
Reply to: Message 56 by anastasia
07-18-2007 6:52 PM


Nothing?
Or, it makes the theologians right all along. All that we can observe, came from nothing. If you prove that, that's one point in favour of Genesis.

Is a creator really "nothing"?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 56 by anastasia, posted 07-18-2007 6:52 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 58 by anastasia, posted 07-18-2007 7:14 PM Straggler has responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4031 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 58 of 88 (411083)
07-18-2007 7:14 PM
Reply to: Message 57 by Straggler
07-18-2007 7:05 PM


Re: Nothing?
Is a creator really "nothing"?

A creator is one who makes something from nothing.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 57 by Straggler, posted 07-18-2007 7:05 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 59 by Straggler, posted 07-21-2007 9:20 AM anastasia has responded

    
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 59 of 88 (411542)
07-21-2007 9:20 AM
Reply to: Message 58 by anastasia
07-18-2007 7:14 PM


Re: Nothing?
As already discussed, if infinte regression is not an option, then at some point "something from nothing" MUST occur.

How could it be otherwise?

As already discussed there does not seem to be an inherent problem with the concept of something from nothing occurring naturally depsite it being contrary to common sense.

A creator is one who makes something from nothing.

A creator is an unnecessary and extremely unlikely step in the whole process.

To quote Laplace - There is "no need for that hypothesis"

To change focus - Do you think brutality and suffering is inherent in life and if so how does that equate with the possible immanence of God in nature?

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 58 by anastasia, posted 07-18-2007 7:14 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 60 by anastasia, posted 07-21-2007 9:54 PM Straggler has responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4031 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 60 of 88 (411692)
07-21-2007 9:54 PM
Reply to: Message 59 by Straggler
07-21-2007 9:20 AM


Re: Nothing?
Straggler writes:

To change focus - Do you think brutality and suffering is inherent in life and if so how does that equate with the possible immanence of God in nature?

That is really not very different from asking if God allows evil. Obviously, yes, God allows bad things to happen.

If you take any interest in the morality topics, it is hard to define evil. What is natural is not evil.

If God sustains the universe, whether inside or outside, the universe we see, including what we see as evil, is sustained and allowed by God.

In other words, if you want to prove that God is not in nature by saying nature is 'evil', it won't work. At least not for me.

As already discussed there does not seem to be an inherent problem with the concept of something from nothing occurring naturally depsite it being contrary to common sense.

How can something naturally occur from nothing, when nature is all cause and effect? Is it wrong to say that this idea about 'being contrary to common sense' is just what theists do when they reach an unexplainable impasse? I don't know why, if you have all the 'parts' of God, you think you don't have God.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 59 by Straggler, posted 07-21-2007 9:20 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 61 by Straggler, posted 07-22-2007 5:03 AM anastasia has responded

    
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