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Essay talk:What God would have to be

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Another one[edit]

One idea that was posed in Stephen Baxter's books is that "God" is the last conscious observer in the universe. As such, that being gets to collapse the waveform for all possible universes and thus, in a sense, is omnipotent. This idea was posed by the "Friends of Wigner" in Timelike Infinity

There's another one written by a physicist who is a supporter of the Big Crunch who had some odd ideas. Give Omega Point a read. I've got a copy of The Physics of Immortality somewhere and it is... odd. Seems he has come out with a new book The Physics of Christanity which I can only presume is even odder. I was introduced to this eschatology in the science fiction book Tomorrow & Tomorrow by Charles Sheffield. --Shagie 19:45, 11 April 2008 (EDT)

I'm actually pretty familiar with the basics of Tipler's... imaginings... They're pretty steeped in improbability. The first thing, on the other hand, sounds like quantum woo. EVDebs 19:54, 11 April 2008 (EDT)
Tipler is serious about his claims. Baxter was just after a plot device that made for some interesting thoughts and exploration into the implications. --Shagie 20:05, 11 April 2008 (EDT)
I know Tipler is serious -- in fact, IIRC when he first put Omega Point forth his colleagues thought he was playing a prank. Baxter's idea is interesting, but definitely strictly literary. EVDebs 02:00, 12 April 2008 (EDT)

How so?[edit]

You said in this essay: "A God who exists outside any concept of time at all is incomprehensible and indescribable in scientific terms, and discussion of such a thing would be fruitless, falling largely into the category of Deism."

Clearly it is not a question science can tackle, but how is it Deism? Many very non-Deist theologies, notably that of Augustine (see Wikipedia:Eternity), explicitly state that God operates completely outside of time. In this sense, wouldn't traditional Christianity largely fall under this category? -- Emperorbma 09:26, 31 October 2008 (EDT)

I probably should have changed that to "space-time", but essentially, Augustine is wrong; a Deist god has no meaningful interaction with the universe and is therefore the only possible interpretation under the circumstances. If we're dealing specifically with time, that brings up the complexity issue in a big way, plus massive causality problems -- how can one make coherent sense of the time-stream if one does not actually experience it as time? If we expand to space-time, as I'm pretty sure I originally meant, the point is that in order to interact with space-time, God would in some sense have to be a part of it, and therefore explicitly measurable like any natural object. While confirmation of such a thing would cause cosmologists the world over to cream their pants in excitement, it would also explicitly rebuke any supernatural concept of God. EVDebs 17:15, 1 November 2008 (EDT)
See, even if you use the term space-time, I don't see that it [i]requires[/i] a Deist conception unless we also presume that the rules of space-time itself are unchangeable and non-contingent. Christian theology, however, does not share this presupposition. Space-time does operate consistently but it also merely another subject of the Divine Will. The very laws of nature themselves operate at God's whims. In that case, why should God be bound to those same laws?
Furthermore, omniscience obviates the need for God to "make sense" of data in order to comprehend it. It is, in fact, specifically admitted that God's thoughts are not like the thoughts of humans in the Bible. The basic conception of a Universal Turing machine, which operates on finite states, does not apply to an infinite and unlimited being. There is no such thing as a "future" or "past" to a being whose very name means unconditional self-existence. In fact, that was also the one thing the Bible says God cannot do: deny Himself. -- Emperorbma 06:06, 2 November 2008 (EST)
I would point out that the statement "a Deist god has no meaningful interaction with the universe" is quite a bit of an oversimplification. For one thing, there are many different types of deism. Secondly, while true that deism rejects miracles and other forms of revelation in favour of approaching and understanding God through reason instead, that does not mean that it does not see God as interacting with the universe - such as through the concept of divine providence. Indeed, perhaps one could go so far as to say that in certain types of deism, God is the universe. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 09:57, 2 November 2008 (EST)
Wouldn't that be pantheism?--Bobbing up 12:27, 2 November 2008 (EST)
Technically correct, apparently Deism in its broader sense can mean what most Christians refer to as rationalism. That said, "mostly falling into the category of Deism" does not seem to apply if traditional Christianity [i]also[/i] makes the claim that God is not bound by space or time in any manner. -- Emperorbma 13:49, 2 November 2008 (EST)


Sorry, im new to this wiki, I stumbled this and was very interested in this article. I tried to find the author to contact him directly, but I couldn't find him on the page. I'm not religious (and I am a determinist), but I'd just like to add that although i think this is a very well written essay it makes many assumptions and systematically excludes the possibility of a god.

Everything is explained within a purely scientific context. Some are fundamental assumptions made by science. Science is a methodology which is constructed for epistomological purposes. It's not a perfect model, it's just the best one we've got. Finding truth via falsification is best technique we've come up with, but if you think about it, it is still very inefficient. So using science as the definitive mode of reasoning neglects other possibilities. You're argument is logical, but the premises are all based on science.

For example, the article assumes that god must exist in the same sense that matter or energy exists. That he occupies space and has measurable dimensions to him. You draw the conclusion that he must exist in a universe. What if he exists but not in the sense that we understand or can empirically measure? While at the same time he is omnipresent. Occam's razor right? Unfalsifiable right? Maybe, but the scientific methodology is designed for attaining physical truths about the observable universe, it is not the ultimate epistemological tool and shouldn't be treated as such.

To be honest, I didn't understand too much of the physics. My meagre physics knowledge basically comes from breif history of time, universe in a nutshell, newscientist and highschool. What I'm trying to say though is that by arguing only within the context of science, you do not consider the alternate view at all. It's like fundamentalists using the bible as definitive proof. Not saying you're alike in that you're illogical, rather that you're using theories and ideas which are true in your own discipline because they are self-referencing.

I'd like to hear opinions and replies. My email is (to prevent email bots) azn1mp05t3r - at - hotmail - dot - com.

I'm not the author, but I will provide a note here: Though God need not be bound erself by the laws of science, in order to interact with the world, God must be compatible with a scientifically-built world. WazzaHello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me... 15:07, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
There is a simple rule at work here: that which can interact with the natural world is part of it; that which can't is not. Apart from certain quantum mechanical effects affected by the Uncertainty Principle, that means everything that exists can in some sense be measured. I might invoke Arthur C. Clarke here -- any sufficiently poorly understood phenomenon is indistinguishable from a miracle. When you consider that the Clark principle (both in this bastardization and its original phrasing) is more or less commutative, you realize there's no escape -- no special pleading allowing a Divine agency to break the rules. (If there was evidence that miracles actually happened, we'd be starting to get somewhere, but no one has ever made an unanswerable argument for a miracle that didn't come down to an argument from ignorance.) In other words, there is no alternate view; if it happens, if it can be observed, it can be studied (and theoretically explained) scientifically. If it can't be studied scientifically, it for all intents and purposes did not happen.
You can, if you're so inclined, look outside our universe, but you're still confined within a larger multiverse, in which some kind of natural law must apply, both in the greater multiverse and its interactions with this universe. You can't say "well, God isn't in our universe, so he can make up his own rules" -- nature doesn't work that way. And what if there is no multiverse? That means there is no outside for God to exist -- God must exist within our universe, and be bound by our rules. I think we can all agree that as Gods go, that's a pitifully tiny and unambitious concept for a deity, in fact nothing more than a rogue member of a Kardashev-2 alien civilization, if even that.
Finally, as regards your line "systematically excludes the possibility of a god". No, actually, it doesn't. But it does set an unimaginably high bar for the existence of a being that most humans would think of as "God", a bar for which next to no evidence exists to clear; at the end of the day, you're still obligated to prove the existence of something divine in the first place, before you go about trying to explain it; this article gives you part of a model of what to look for. The "rational" part of RationalWiki is all about following the evidence. Where's yours? EVDebs 19:05, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

Ok, this is exactly my point though. You HAVE systematically excluded the possibility of a god. You say high bar, but on what scale is this bar placed on? You make the assumption that scientifically proven facts are the only facts out there and that science is the only true method of reaching truth. No matter what argument is presented to you, you argue using science, referring only to scientific principles and conclusions deduced via scientific methods. Science is pretty awesome, I'll give you that, I study pscyhology (I don't know what your position on that is in terms of it being a scientific discipline) so I appreciate the scientific methodology and the results that come from it. However, in the end it is only a method, a method designed for a specific purpose to find specific truths. It isn't the ultimate method. You cannot apply scientific methodology to philosophy and metaphysics. You cannot apply it to history or politics. You cannot even apply the scientific methodology to mathematics (its not required to begin with). Yet all these disciplines are concerned with truths and they approach it using different methods. I'm not arguing physics theory with you, I'm arguing epistomology. What I'm saying you're doing is that you are applying science in areas which do not concern science and by further verifying your claims with more science and requesting proof which is limited to this discipline alone, you are in fact systematically excluding the possibility of a god(s). For your last bit, no I don't think there is evidence that there is a god, but I think my points prior to this still remains valid. I assume you're not asking for any type of proof either, you wan't empirical proof, the type which science accepts. It has to be proven scientifically or it doesnt exist. Again, I'd like to say that science is just a method. I don't claim that god exists, but I don't agree that using science to argue theology is valid. It's a different ball game.

You're still arguing special pleading. If divine activity exists and affects the world, it can be observed and studied scientifically. You can't assert the divine has a direct effect on the observable universe and then turn around and say that it's immune to the same sort of scrutiny as everything else in that universe. As for your other assertions about applying scientific methodologies to other subjects -- a) it's a red herring, as we are dealing with allegedly empirical phenomena, so the example of other subjects is irrelevant and b) why the hell not? You may not be able to do experiments in history, but when you get right down to it history is nothing more than cultural forensics. And the value of a philosophy can be measured based on the real-world effects created by those who support it. All you're giving me here is a sideways god-of-the-gaps argument. You should know by now, if you've spent any length of time arguing theology on the Internet, that argument is made of fail. EVDebs 03:12, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

I think you're missing my point, that or I'm missing yours because it seems like we're just repeating ourselves. I am in a way arguing special pleading, but I don't think it's in the way that you've framed it. I'm not saying god is immune to the same sort of scrutiny, I'm saying that you assume that your type of scrutiny is the only valid type of scrutiny. That everything should be placed under the scientific microscope and that it is VALID to place everything under the scientific microscope. Ok, you say that my argument is a red herring. You claim yourself that science is irrelevant to humanities. Yet you don't see my argument? Science is irrelevant to theology. You can't treat theology as a science for the same reasons that you can't treat philosophy as a science. And no, you can't apply science to history. Define science for me. When I say science, I'm referring to the scientific method, as in Popper. Saying that history is nothing more than cultural forensics is completely missing the point. How do you apply the SCIENTIFIC METHOD to history? History doesn't just deal with facts and numbers, it deals with cultural aspects and quantitative data as well. How do you apply the SCIENTIFIC METHOD to philosophy? Give me an example and if i can't come up with a counter example, I'll concede. Saying you're able to measure the effects of philosophy is also missing the point. I don't care if you can measure philosophy, by measuring the effects of philosophy you have completely departed from philosophy. Departed from philosophy into science, and that's exactly my point, you've now forced philosophy into the scientific box. You'd still call it philosophy but in actual fact, its more sociology (bad example, not a science hehe). Those aren't the questions which philosophy asks, and those are definately not the method which philosophy uses to find solutions. Using the wrong method after you've changed the question leads to an irrelevant answer. But you would call it a good answer because its scientific? Science is not synonymous with logic, science is not synonymous with reason. It may require logic and reasoning, but not all efforts which require logic and reason are scientific. I'm not giving you a sideways god-of-the-gaps argument. I'm not asserting that god exists, the argument's probably got nothing to do with whether god exists or not. If you'd just take time and try to think outside of the scientific paradigm the discussion can go somewhere. Well I gotta say, theology on the internet is pretty much fail, but you shouldn't hold that prejudice. I've met some very intelligent religious people, and they use the internet too.

I'll sum it up as follows: science is the study of objective reality. Its tools apply to anything that is part of that reality. If God is in any meaningful way a part of that reality, than God is subject to science. It really isn't any more complicated than that; in fact, I'd go so far as to say that if God could be proven to exist, scientists would immediately start working on a Theory of God. The fact that no such thing has happened would seem to indicate that God has no meaningful interaction with the universe. (Incidentally, if the idea of "thinking outside the scientific paradigm" actually seems intelligent to you, RW may not be the best community for your interests.) EVDebs 06:30, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

For someone who claims to be so enlightened, you're very ignorant and close minded. And very high and mighty about it too. So philosophy doesnt seem like a worthy intellectual pursuit to you? Because philosophy doesn't fit into the scientific paradigm. So i suppose philosophy doesnt belong to RW. Listen to yourself, you sound like a RW nazi. I thought this argument was going somewhere, I suppose not.

I think our Unsigned here is just trying to argue NOMA before failing to realise that a sizable chunk of RW rejects it as nonsense and throwing the toys out of the pram in that last paragraph. The original essay makes no apologies for the fact that it is purely based on science and I'm sure the original author (Shagie) and others would concede that if you want to just wave your hands, invoke Goddidit etc. etc. then you can say what you like. But it won't be backed up with logic or evidence, only special pleading of the highest degree. The Unsigned also postulates a misunderstanding of the scientific method in an above post, the Method involves observing, theorising, testing and refining. It's not just about facts and figures, in fact real science involves very little of this, otherwise it would be just low-level maths such as 2 + 2 = 4. Thus, you can apply it to philosophy and history, history in particular being very scientific and evidence based, you can't just say that the Romans had flying cars without the evidence and the following the scientific method and the questions it would raise (how did they build flying cars 2000 years ago, what did they use for fuel and so on). Philosophy is similar, but the scientific method is seldom applied, probably due to philosophers wanting to ensure that their job is unequivocally Not Science. You can philosophise on the existence of a soul, that's all well and good, but like it or not there are actual scientific questions we can ask and experiments we can do to test it. The scientific method can be applied to figure out what to ask next - What is the soul made of? How does it interact with the brain? Where does it go next and where did it come from? How do we test these things? Is our technology advanced enough to test them yet? (and no you can't really argue this sort of thing on an "example-counter-example" basis) Once you say that "science can't be applied" it is merely special pleading, ignorance of the power of the method - in principle it can work even "outside" the material universe, if there is such a thing - and a lack of curiosity. At the very worst, saying that science cannot apply to God is merely an insult to human ability. Scarlet A.pngmoral 11:49, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm closed-minded? Open-mindedness is about following the evidence where it goes. You're neither asking for that nor making any serious effort to do that; all you're doing is trying to place barriers around certain fields of inquiry and complaining when people who don't share your views ignore them. That's not open-mindedness you want; it's capitulation. EVDebs 17:15, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

Well now we're talking business. I just had a read of NOMA, I guess its pretty much what I'm saying, although the article here's pretty short and I don't agree with all the details such as assuming a supernatural explanations and that what I'm suggesting goes beyond the morals religion has to offer. I didnt make the claim that science is just about facts and figures. What I was referring to is empiricism. I specified that the scientific method I am referring to is the one Popper endorses, if you think history uses the scientific methodology, then you're the one who's misinformed. Historical evidence is not the same as scientific evidence, a piece of papyrus carbon dated back to the 7th C is not the same recording the volume of precipitate after a chemical reaction. In science, theory is formulated before the experiment which produces the result. In history, there is no testing and you need the evidence before you theorize. Yeah philosophy wants to ensure that their job is unequivocally not science, does theology strike a bell? In your opinion it seems like it doesnt matter what the discipline wants or aims to achieve, if it doesnt fit within the scientific paradigm, it doesnt deserve a mention. No, you'd set a different standard for philosophy now. How do you plan to reconcile your previous claim that thinking outside the scientific paradigm is unacceptable when you've just said that the scientific methodology is seldomly applied to philosophy? Would you conclude that in the majority case where the scientific methodology (I would argue that it never applies) does not apply, philosophy canno't possibly reach acceptable truths? Truths which are worthy of your attention and RW? Yes ofcourse there are scientific questions you can ask about philosophy, we've been through this and you've made this point. My reply remains that asking scientific questions about philosophical questions is exactly that, scientific questions. NOT PHILOSOPHICAL questions. Certainly NOT answers to philosophical problems. Would you say that philosophy is special pleading? Back to my original point, science is not the ultimate method for all truths. Maybe for empirical truths its the best we got (and by no means perfect). Not all questions require answers in the form of scientifically verified answers, and not all scientifically verified answers are valid to non-scientific questions. Since im pretty involved in this, call me Salmon.

To add to the last post and hopefully sum things up. I'm not saying that god exists or that god deserves special consideration within science. Of course we should scrutinize claims of supernatural beings, and do so with logic and reasoning. I'm saying that theology deserves the same consideration within science as philosophy. Which is pretty much next to nothing because their goals do not overlap. They don't ask the same questions and they don't seek the same answers. Salmon

Convenient edit button[edit]

Ah, your summary makes a lot of sense there. However, I do reject the idea that their goals don't overlap. It's far too handwavy for my liking to say something like "science says how, philosophy/theology says why". I think it's perfectly possible for science to ask and answer questions that some claim are exclusively that of philosophy and religion, and importantly, (because of the methodology utilised) the answers will be correct (or will steadily approach being accurate correct), rather than merely speculative. What exactly is so special about a so called "philosopical question" that means it's immune from being tackled scientifically or better off being tackled unscientifically. And in that case, what is "unscientifically" and why is it better?
As for the point about historical and scientific evidence being different, I certainly don't agree. You either have evidence for your idea, or you don't. The nature of the evidence changes nothing. If you get evidence that contradicts your idea, you change the idea to fit (after scutinising the evidence, obviously) and this works just as much in historical analysis as scientific experimentation. Scarlet A.pngmoral 15:07, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I'd probably also have to add that the scientific method in it's simplest form, is Observe > Theorise > Test > Refine. This can, in principle, be applied to everything. Even if the methodology isn't available to us in practice (which essentially means "now", as we can't really speculate what we'll be capable of in 10 years time never mind a 100 years or 1000 years or a potential infinite amount of time), it's still possible to run this cycle on so-called philosopical questions or historical ones. Scarlet A.pngmoral 15:14, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

The nature of the evidence does matter, greatly. Genesis is a creationist's evidence, but it's not scientific. A 7th C historian's account of 6th C history is evidence for a 19th C historian. You might argue these are not valid evidence, and you'd have a point because you'd be saying it's not scientifically valid evidence. However, this is what historians have to work with, furthermore the weighing of evidence is also subjective and up to the discretion of the historian. There's no formula or a systematic method to weigh the evidence. In science, all evidence is weighted equally. Secondly how the evidence is derived is also important. In philosophy, evidence could be subjective experience. For example, Descarte's 'I think therefore I am' is absolutely dependant upon his awareness, whether you agree with the statement or not doesn't come into it. The fact that he can argue his existence using his awareness as evidence is acceptable in philosophy, but unacceptable as scientific evidence, and rightly so. Also philosophy often doesn't deal with evidence. Moral philosophy, political philosophy, epistomology. You can probably find instances where you need evidence for a premise, but I'm sure you can also find many instances where this is not required. (where it is required, it probably wouldn't be the type of evidence that science accepts.) If you look at the reverse, there are plenty of cases where philosophy is used to investigate scientific matters. Most of natural philosophy does this. That's equally unacceptable because they are applying ideas and methods of investigation which is inappropriate. I'm not saying that philosophy is immune to being tackled scientifically. I agree with that, its hard not to agree with that. What I've been saying is that by tackling it scientifically, its no longer philosophy. Same with the other disciplines. It's not special, just like science is not special, they're just different disciplines. Science isn't the center of the epistomological universe, there are other disciplines too. If by overlap you mean you can have a scientific perspective on it, then yeah sure. Philosophy can have a philosophical view on science too, it'll still be philosophy. You can study the history of science as well, it'd still be history. In the same sense you can have a scientific take on philosophy, but it'd be science, not philosophy. You're not investigating philosophical matters, you're investigating scientific matters. Salmon

For that reason, you'd be systematically excluding philosophy in your scientific investigation. Which was my original point on science and religion. Salmon


You sure make a lot of assumptions: matter exists, for one. We have no proof that the universe is not simulated on some computer. Maybe the ideas of God and his omnipotence are simply saying, in modern terms, that the universe is not as real, in some sense, as it appears. If the universe only seems to be matter, then you can have the Christian God- able to change the laws of physics, square the circle (change the program so circles can be squared), know everything that passes in the computer. The problem is simpler, because only those things exist which are seen exist, and the rest is veneer. So, God doesn't have to know all that other stuff. Makes the problems manageable.

I never heard that they say that God knows everything about God... and you forgot a property: God is spirit. This at least would make it possible for God to touch every particle in the universe at once. Just some thoughts. Tarantallegra 07:04, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

One may postulate many things. There are many things about which one could say "maybe X" - the question then becomes, "Where is the evidence?"--Bobbing up 07:34, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Indeed, burden of proof says that you need to present the evidence that we're a simulation - not merely the logical disjuntion mentioned in the simulated reality article. There are lots of things we can't disprove - you'd probably have some considerable difficulty disproving that the user typing this edit isn't a pink Rhinoceros or a frozen albatross - but that doesn't automatically make them correct. And what is "spirit"? What's it made of? How fast does it travel? What are it's properties, even if they aren't "material"? It's all very handwavy, but as I mentioned in response to criticism above, the article makes no apologies for being scientific and applying natural laws to worlds where people like to plead that they can't work im. You can argue about "spirit" and other things all you like, wave your hands and beg for "logic" and "law" and "science" to go away and stay away from this non-material fantasy land, but that's just not how we see the world working. Scarlet A.pngmoral 11:58, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
What is "spirit"? Has it been unambiguously observed? What are its properties? What is the Theory of Spirit? Those are questions you have to answer (especially the second one) in order to make those assertions. EVDebs 17:18, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
My point is merely that if you take a scientific description of the universe, but throw out the essential point that the universe is made of matter/energy, then you have an easier time disproving the existence of the universe. He threw out -or ignored- one of the essential attributes of God. One of the essential attributes of God is that God is spirit. I'm not trying to prove anything, just commenting. You know, I don't understand why you assumed I was making an assertion.
If "spirit" is hand waiving, then hand waiving is part of the essential qualities of God... and in fact, it is; The whole point of being almighty spirit who can perform miracles and all the rest is that you don't have to be logical. So, while the essay is very nice indeed, it can't be taken seriously because it basically throws out the essential elements of the nature of God. In saying this I am not making a point, but merely extending logically what is said of the nature of God. The quality of being able to do hand waiving, far from being something to be avoided, is in fact one of the most essential qualities of God. Tarantallegra 05:54, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
You're not allowed to handwave anything unless someone can come back later and explain it. Nothing is off-limits; asserting that something is not amenable to scientific inquiry is a copout. In any case, you still have to prove that "spirit" actually exists to begin with in order to assert that it's the nature of anything. Your position is completely unsupportable and unacceptable. Besides, if "spirit" is the same thing as whatever it is that people thought defined vitalism, considering the term has no meaning to biology, you may as well be asserting that God is made of chile-spiked parmesan cheese and fudge sauce considering how little scientific value "spirit" has as a concept. In other words, if unknowability is one of the "most essential qualities", you're talking about absolutely nothing at all. EVDebs 07:40, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Nope, sorry: you can call it what you will, hand waiving or copout. It's still an essential property of God. You're just mixing apples and oranges, science and faith. I don't have to prove anything, I only have to say that if someone comes and says "I have a fruit" and you say "Well, if we rule out the existence of fruit we can rule out you having a fruit," then you're not doing much of use. God is spirit. That's what they say. If you say it's unproved, you're quite right. But my point that the essay ignores an essential quality of God stands. Tarantallegra 01:06, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
The problem isn't so much that God is defined as spirit, but that no one has ever proven the existence of spirit. To borrow your example, we're saying "there's no such thing as fruit", you're saying "but fruit cups are made of fruit", then we're asking you to show us a fruit cup. I think. I may have gotten tangled in my analogies there. But I'm sure you get my point. WazzaHello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me... 01:21, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
True. The basic point I'm making is that while considering the existence of God is an interesting intellectual exercise, it necessitates that you throw out certain essential qualities of God. All you're proving here is that the traditional God cannot be considered a rational or scientific hypothesis. Your case is perfect. Nevertheless, the essay is only an intellectual exercise in considering what God would have to be if we throw out some of God's essential qualities. What you found, which is interesting, is that even when you throw out some of those properties, God still does not fit within a scientific framework. Tarantallegra 01:24, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Your "essential property" would require a Deist god. I'm sorry. You do not get to invoke an exemption here. It is not rational. EVDebs 04:58, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
I do not know why it would require a Deist God. If you mean "rationalwiki" by "here," well that is fair enough (although I don't know who made you God), because it's rationalwiki. Then, God is an exemption to Rationalwiki. Nice mental exercise, but if the concept of God includes an exemption from rationality then you get an exemption. If it's banned on rational wiki, then God is banned. Taking parts of the God concept and discussing them as if they were the whole concept is a nice mental exercise- and nothing more. If God is (a + b + c = d) and you prove (a + b cannot = d), well, good for you. Like I said, good mental exercise. Tarantallegra 05:52, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
well argued tarantallegra :), I was making a similar point in the discussion above. EVDebs, it's not helping your case that you dismiss all his claims by substituting your argument with 'hand wavy'... It's rather handwavy to do so. It's not that your argument is not valid, it is absolutely valid within the scientific conception of truth - which seems to be all that you're concerned with. I think in the end, this argument underpins the atheist-agnostic debate. Salmon

It's pretty simple, really -- all that can definitively be known through observation, directly or indirectly, comes under the realmof science. If the divine exists and interacts in any observable fashion with this reality, it is part of it and can be observed and theoretically explained as such. If it does not, the question of whether the divine exists or not is irrelevant and is pointless to even consider, since it can't be observed or proven. You may as well be discussing an invisible pink unicorn. EVDebs 07:09, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

It is irrelevant... irrelevant to science is my point. You can use science to probe it sure, but that's beside the point. Philosophy and art is irrelevant to science as well. If I were to put forth the question of what emotions are, you could answer scientifically, you could tell me how its an evolutionary advantageous adaptation, causes physiological responses, hormones, oxytocin, co-occurs with measurable behavioural responses etc... Not to say it's an invalid answer but wouldn't you say there's something missing? Qualitative descriptions which do not concern science... If I asked you what morals are, what do logical positivists endorse, what a hot dog smells like, how would you respond? Do scientific endeavours relate to these topics? Are these questions irrelevant then? Salmon.
No, I wouldn't say anything's missing. You want to pigeonhole science and make it less than it is. What is clear is that you and Tarantallegra simply don't understand science or rational thinking. I've gotten rather tired of this particular convo and will be bailing on it; please examine the rest of the site (may I be so bold as to point out the Atheism FAQ?), and while you're at it go to and read the entry called Straw Vulcan. EVDebs 22:16, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

A WTF by a BoN[edit]

The following was added and reverted from this essay. Since it's a little WTF and reads much like a talk page post, I thought I'd put it here for posterity. Who knows, maybe it'll spur a discussion. --Edgerunner76Tah-daaaaaaah! 17:41, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

The aforementioned WTF[edit]

Well, I have enjoyed your discourse but I have a few issues with it. Your primary assumption is that God is describable with human logic and intellect, to some degree. You infer that science overrides faith, but it is more limited structurally.

We know that all matter is made of smaller components. It would be safe to say that matter is a 'function' of God. Meaning it is not something that is separate from him that requires some kind of foreign distancing and then interaction. Sound would then be a function of God too, along with every other physical manifestation. Our physical world would be a complex 3D graph of previous creations interacting together on a new timeline.

  • This is a rather rationalized form of pantheism and doesn't have any bearing on the existence of YHWH. It's also unfalsifiable.

Gods primary concern is creation and giving to his creations. Lets also not forget about the 7 classes of angels that are between us and Him. The angels are said to have a will and also permeate our physical world without specific form. When we picture a hierarchy of knowledge and will, it is much easier to construct an image of God that is way up there with varying degrees of spirit manifesting as consequences of the hidden laws that are yet to be discovered.

  • These "classes of angels" have always struck me as being a specifically Catholic misinterpretation of one rather murky Bible passage about world politics. In any case, there's no actual observation of their existence, so they aren't relevant.

I do not have the energy or knowledge to refute your statements, but I just want to point out that your logic is a little narrow and underdeveloped in the actual faiths that you are discussing.

  • Courtier's reply. Try again. (And I grew up a very devout Catholic and actually taught catechism for a few years. Ignorant I'm not.)

The freedom of faith is the state of mind where anything is possible, not bound to the conditional world described by the language of the human mind. We cannot define God according to our discoveries because that would make him equivalent to us and our discoveries. Food for thought. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

  • In other words, so openminded your brain falls out? But your second to last sentence is exactly my point -- if God can be observed, than that is the approach we must take. Theists can argue we "cannot" do that, but if God's existence could be observed and proven, doing exactly that would be the next step -- in other words, creating a "theory of God". Your idea of "freedom of faith" is nothing more than self-negation and incuriosity, the latter of which goes wholeheartedly against RW's mission. EVDebs (talk) 19:50, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
The freedom of faith is the state of mind where anything is possible, not bound to the conditional world... Or, in a word, insanity. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 20:02, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

A Conclusion of Sorts[edit]

It looks like I'm about 2 years late with this but maybe someone will stop by and see it.
Firstly, the essay itself was quite compelling so good job writing it.
Secondly, I thought all that analysis and debating between the Unsigned, EVDebs, and all the others who contributed was very compelling as well, not to mention quite thought-provoking. Both sides, in my opinion, make valid points (so good job to you guys as well).
One conclusion I drew after reading both the essay and much of the subsequent debate was how valuable all that was said would be to an agnostic argument (that no one can know or prove/disprove the existence of God). If God interacts with our universe he would have to, somehow, follow the physical laws of the universe and could hence be measured somehow (even if we don't necessarily have the capabilities now) by humans . It only makes sense. On the other hand, God would be, well, God. If God is so omnipotent and omni-this and omni-that and omni-everything, then he could use his Godliness to transcend the universe's physical laws and the mental comprehension of human beings to operate on a level we can't detect (let alone comprehend). These arguments the above debaters argued so well reflect the basic agnostic argument. This really makes only a Deist god possible in my opinion. It seems that no matter how hard we try to define how God would be like and how to physically find him, it's impossible to get a definitive answer. I imagine that only gut-feeling can separate such deep thinking individuals like us who can comprehend these ideas and propositions so openmindedly from agnosticism: if you feel instinctively deep down that there is probably a transcendent God out there beyond the reaches of these arguments (and even our comprehension) then you're a theist; if your deep-down gut feelings tell you its unlikely there's a God out there, you're an atheist.
So in a way, anyone who really thinks about God on such a deep level (as those of us on this talk page have done) should really be an agnostic at the most fundamental level (with possibly a gut-feeling one way or the other).
Hopefully, the point I tried to convey made sense. I sorta get close to touching on it (kinda, not really) in my own essay on God and religion. Socal212I can't find my talk page 06:29, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

If God is doing things that are undetectable in any way, then what is he even doing? The main thing people are saying about scientific evidence of God isn't necessarily about God herself, but his interactions. We may not be able to detect a God that is capable of lifting a mountain, but we could definitely detect the lifting of a mountain--and thus infer a God. Unless one were to argue that she is lifting mountains, but those mountains are undetectable as well--in which case the argument becomes a rephrasing of Russell's Teapot. On the subject of agnosticism/atheism, all rational atheists would be agnostic since a change in evidence would result in a change of belief (for subjective definitions of "belief"), and all rational agnostics would be atheists for the same reason (since belief in something without evidence is irrational). Anti-theism is something else. "What you feel deep down" is also something else. (talk) 18:03, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

What are the laws of physics?[edit]

Are they descriptive or prescriptive? In my view, the perfect law of physics is the shortest program (of say a Turing Machine), which generates a straightforward precise description of this universe as output, given a null input. This view overcomes the dichotomy of laws and initial conditions - they are one and the same. It also means, if the universe was different in even the slightest way, the laws of physics would be different. This law is unknowable due to the halting problem, among other reasons.

What then are the "laws of physics" as we know them? Imperfect human approximations to the unknown and unknowable true laws of physics as described above. Due to their imperfections, we should never expect them to apply perfectly.

If God "intervenes" in the world, does that violate the laws of physics? Well, from the perspective of our imperfect human laws of physics, God may or may not violate them; but, since they are not ultimately valid, just imperfect approximations of human origin, what matter? What about the true, perfect, unknowable law of physics? If the universe is even slightly different, the law of physics would be different. But, God's intervention then is not to "violate" the laws of physics, but rather to choose which law of physics applies. God does not intervene in the universe, rather God chooses which universe(s) will exist. Out of the set of all possible laws of physics, God chooses a law, and breathes life into that law, converting it from a mathematical abstraction to a real universe.

I think this essay fails to achieve what it sets out to achieve, because it has failed to consider at any deep level the question of what the laws of physics actually are, from a philosophical viewpoint. (((Zack Martin))) 07:45, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

That's assuming God has a choice in the matter. Asking if the laws of physics are descriptive or prescriptive is sort of meaningless since they just are, and we don't have direct access to them, only descriptive theories that attempt to model them. The closest we can come to imagining different laws of physics is imagining alternate universes where the physical constants are different; we don't know enough about what we don't know to consider what truly alien physics are like, or if the concept is even meaningful. There are certain things that would be constant from universe to universe though -- shape, matter and energy or analogues thereof, math, complexity, probably entropy, to name a few. We can generalize from those though. EVDebs (talk) 22:22, 27 September 2011 (UTC)


I get where you're coming from, but nobody gets an exclusion from the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. It's not a matter of measurement — it's a description of the universe as it actually is. If one member of a complementarity pair is forced to a narrow range of values, the other member will spread across a wider range. That's why passing waves and wave-like matter through a narrow slit (well-defined *position*), will result in a broad diffraction pattern (poorly defined *momentum*), and passing a wave through a wide slit (poorly defined position) will result in a particle-like beam (well defined momentum).

In the words of Leon Rosenfeld, "complementarity is not a philosophical superstructure invented by Bohr to be placed as a decoration on top of the quantal formalism, it is the bedrock of the quantal description."— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

That's the universe as it's observed, not as it is. They may be the same thing, but they aren't necessarily; of course, Heisenberg is on pretty solid ground as far as we know. That said, it's kind of an "assume a spherical cow" statement -- it's an oversimplification of the problem for the sake of a model that produces only a partial solution. EVDebs (talk) 22:16, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

As a Christian...[edit]'s this kind of thinking that basically got me to realize that the God of the Bible simply could not exist, at least not in the form described in the Bible.

Actually, that's not EXACTLY true. The Bible does say that God is infinite (1 Kings 8:22-27; Jeremiah 23:24; Psalm 102:25-27; Revelation 22:13), which thus basically means "THE God" also is everything God (of the Bible), YHWH, Allah (etc) isn't. But furthermore, if God is infinite, that means God is the set that contains ALL things... and if God is the set that contains all things, that set THEREFORE includes concepts like mutable, imperfect, nonexistent, unomnipresent and unomnipotent. It kinda is--actually it VERY is--contradictory for God to be both omnipresent/omnipotent and unomnipresent/unomnipotent... because if the God-set DIDN'T contain terms like unomnipresent/unomnipotent, then the God-set WOULDN'T be infinite, and THAT would contradict what is said in the Bible of God being infinite... and in turn it would describe a God that isn't described in the Bible. So basically, no matter how I thought it, the house of cards that Christianity build kinda falls apart.

Therefore, if the only thing is true out of the Bible that describes God is "God is infinite", then that simply must mean God doesn't exist within the confines of our universe, no more than a watchmaker can fit within the confines of the watch he built. This is the only way I've--thusfar--been able to accept both the concept of God existing (which, in my infinite fallibility, I still believe in) with the fact that God seems to be very absent from this universe (something that atheists don't seem to have a problem noticing). But in the end, it comes back to the conclusion of this essay: That the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam cannot exist in our universe in the expected form, or in any universe with entropy and a finite value of c.

But having said that, it really didn't push me away from Christianity, considering that God's existence is irrelevant when it comes to stuff like "don't be a dick to each other, and stop nailing people to pieces of wood". I just wish more Christians focused more on THAT than trying to prove God exists AND exists in the form described in the Bible... as if proving it would make "don't be a dick to each other" MORE true... y'know?

Anyways, just my thought on this essay.... -- (talk) 05:51, 9 August 2012 (UTC)

Actually, it's perfectly possible for an infinite set to not contain all things/concepts/whatever. The set of natural numbers doesn't contain negative integers, but is still infinite. The set of rational numbers doesn't include irrational numbers, but is still infinite, etc. In relation to God, it's perfectly possible for God to be infinite with this universe being an infinitesimal piece of his being, including human conceptual ideations of imperfection, non-existence, non-omnipotence etc., without any of these concepts necessarily applying to God as a whole. (talk) 17:03, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
Doesn't work because God is supposed to have infinite power, not to be an infinite series of specific things. King Skeleton (talk) 17:09, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
And I'm not sure what you think that addition does to help: you can't be almighty and limited at the same time, it's like being bulletproof except your head. Overall that would make you not bulletproof.
Infinity is impossible to parse and never makes any sense if you try because it's irrational as a concept. It's in its nature that any part of it, no matter how small, is still infinite, and you can't treat it like a rational number that becomes smaller when divided without tying your brain in a knot. King Skeleton (talk) 17:18, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you think I'm trying to do. I'm just replying to 71's post and pointing out a few errors in his reasoning. If you're trying to argue for the irrationality of the concept of omnipotence, then your argument is lost on me since I don't consider omnipotence as it's usually presented a necessary property of God. (talk) 18:54, 26 October 2014 (UTC)