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Chaos, Randomness and Calculability - Why we are a necessary part of creation

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posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 12:13 AM
I have two beliefs that I have long held, and this evening I realized that they are somewhat in opposition to each other, and thought I'd see what other people thought.

The first comes out of the studies that I've done of chaos theory, and the chaos implicit in complex systems. A simplistic representation of complex systems is the "a butterfly flaps its wings in China and it rains in New York City." Applicable, but a bit of a stretch -- rains cannot be backtraced to butterflies, obviously. But in looking at chaos, it becomes evident that the piece that we are really missing is the ability to collate all variables and calculate them together.

If we have a set of initial conditions that is all inclusive (all variables that impact weather, plus the addition of whether the butterfly is beating its wings or not,) we will always find the same result, so the logical conclusion is that if we have sufficient data and the ability to calculate it out, we won't need to see the weather develop, we can just sort it out. The limitation, of course, is that we have no idea what the variables are, and we lack the ability to calculate it, by an order of magnitude that is almost unimaginable.

So the first question arises... if one had sufficient knowledge of the state of the universe prior to the Big Bang, sufficient understanding of the underlying laws and limitations of reality, and sufficient ability to project things out mathematically, could one determine the current state of the universe? Recognize that this represents an almost unimaginable level of knowledge and mathematics, but is it possible that one could factor out the way that things are right now?

Aside from capabilities, the real limitation to this is the factor of randomness. Is there true randomness? Among other things, I'm a computer scientist, and, though you might believe otherwise, there is no "random number generator" in computers, because there is no randomness. In CSci, it works by having a lot of numbers, and using some initial "seed" value which is unique (usually the time at which the function is run) to determine how you pick the numbers. But the sequence is predictable, because if you use the same seed two times, you'll get the same "random" numbers.

In the natural world, if there is randomness, something that cannot be predicted, then it would be impossible to predetermine the state of anything beyond the first initial potential of randomness. I've talked to people about randomness, and I've seen arguments going both ways. So we'll have to let that go for now.

The second belief of mine is that there is a creator God, and that everything that we are, everything that we see, is a result of something that he's done. My personal belief is that he's something of a creative scientist himself, and that we're part of some experiment of his. Say that he set up some initial variables back before the Big Bang, built his sandbox universe to conform to those initial variables (laws associated with gravity, electromagnetism, evolution, mathematics and so on) and then fired off the Big Bang to see what comes of it. This may be the first time he's done it, may be the millionth time that he's done it.

Herein lies the rub. If God is omniscient (he knows everything,) in a universe that contains no randomness, there is no point to letting it play out. Unlike us, he does have the capability of complete knowledge of the initial variables, as well as the ability to calculate it all out. If he would like to create a universe where pi=3.46 to see how that works out, he need not even let it happen, he can sort it out himself right from the start.

But within the scope of that second premise, it should seem obvious that God himself can be the "randomness." As you might drop into your "Sims Family" and add a person or remove one, God leaning in and curing someone's cancer, or appearing as a vision someplace would represent an intrusion to the original state, invalidating the integrity of the experiment, as well as the predictability of it. In our current experiment, he became man 2000 years ago to help us out. In the next experiment, maybe he'll fight the urge and never send a saviour. Or he'll give whatever intelligence exists in that reality concrete proof of his existence to see how they react.

Additionally, and more importantly, we represent randomness in this view. Everything that has happened in my life, all the choices that I have made, have led me to this moment, my writing this. Everything that has happened in your life, similarly, has led to you reading it. Whether it has any impact on you depends on your reception, I suppose, but these are all purely random occurrences. Unless you are a Calvinist or other pre-determinism believer, you recognize that our free will allows us to do what we want and, in effect, become the random element in God's equation.

So, within the realm of my two beliefs, there is a basic conflict, in that one precludes the other, aside from the recognition that the insertion of randomness, whether God mucking with things on our behalf, or us being chaotic, results in unpredictability. Ultimately, we spoil God's experiment, but I think that that's the point of it. There may be one intelligence like us in the universe, there might be millions of them, but this is the variable that prevents the experiment from being boring, predictable and calculable from the point before it even starts.

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 01:39 AM
Very interesting, and thought provoking.
I'll offer just a few of my thoughts: I think that god (creator) is giving us either
1. A limited world to grow and learn
2. A place to co-create (with his help, things go wrong when we don't create anything, or when we don't use his wisdom)
Or both.
Also, I think reality may be a fractal. The universe is a single cell in a larger universe, and the smallest particles are universes. Just some interesting thoughts.

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 02:42 AM
Interestingly, there are several scientists that are proposing the universe is a quantum computer.
en.wikipedia.org...

Herein lies the rub. If God is omniscient (he knows everything,) in a universe that contains no randomness, there is no point to letting it play out.

I think of it as an amusement park ride. The ride operator knows what is going to happen when he flips the switch. He knows where the riders are going to go and how its all going to end. However, he must let the ride play out so that the riders get the experience. And your point about us being a random factor makes sense. Free will creates randomness for sure. Imagine if riders started trying to jump off. The ride operator would have to intervene.

It seems to me since God is outside the universe/'computer' with, as you say, all the initial variables and knowledge to forecast what happens with each entity inside the 'computer'; at each calculation inside our universe-computer he merely runs something akin to Dijkstra's shortest path or A* algorithm to determine where the entities are heading and all possible outcomes of that path. As they move along the path, the algorithm updates. In this way God knows where things are heading no matter what random choices we make.

Of course all this is moot if he can forecast everyone's choices before hand. Then his computer already has all paths plotted and the simulation just has to run to the end. Either way, the simulation runs so that the entitys inside actually get to experience the simulation. I think that allowing us to make our choices, even if God knows what they are and where they will lead us, is the point.

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 09:17 AM

Originally posted by time91
Very interesting, and thought provoking.
I'll offer just a few of my thoughts: I think that god (creator) is giving us either
1. A limited world to grow and learn
2. A place to co-create (with his help, things go wrong when we don't create anything, or when we don't use his wisdom)
Or both.

I agree with the second one, though a case can certainly be made for the first. I never gave the second one a lot of thought until I read a book that was speculating on the nature of heaven. In it, the author dismissed any notion of "sitting around singing for eternity" as being foolishly limiting, and noted that God loves creating, and it stands to reason that God loves seeing what we create, so it's unlikely that heaven would be a place where our creativity would be stifled.

Also, I think reality may be a fractal. The universe is a single cell in a larger universe, and the smallest particles are universes. Just some interesting thoughts.

That's a lot to wrap one's head around, so when I've contemplated it in the past, I wind up just setting it aside in my confusion.

[edit on 15-8-2010 by adjensen]

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 09:39 AM
reply to post by Chillimac

Nice summary and comparison, thanks. You bring up a good point -- whether through calculability or his residing outside of time, God must already know the outcome of this particular experiment, so does he let it run out for our benefit, or does he need to let it run out in order to have the knowledge? I like the "for our benefit" option for obvious reasons, but I think that the second simply fails because of the paradox.

The whole notion of reality as an experiment poses one almost unfathomable thing -- the temporal nature of God. There's no telling when this experiment will end (in my view, we are incidental to the whole thing, so to say that when mankind is gone, the experiment is over would be wrong,) but suffice it to say that we're talking many, many billions of years, maybe trillions. And if this is merely one of many, the scale becomes immense. God must be a very patient observer.

Me, I whinge when the kettle to boil water for my tea takes too long :-)

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 09:54 AM
Quantum mechanics has some truely random elements, although some people believe that there are "hidden variables" influencing this randomness. Contrary to what Einstein thought, maybe God really plays dice with the universe..

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 09:54 AM
reply to post by adjensen

Have you read Answer to Job? I think you would like it.

posted on Aug, 16 2010 @ 12:48 AM

Originally posted by adjensen
The first comes out of the studies that I've done of chaos theory, and the chaos implicit in complex systems. A simplistic representation of complex systems is the "a butterfly flaps its wings in China and it rains in New York City." Applicable, but a bit of a stretch -- rains cannot be backtraced to butterflies, obviously. But in looking at chaos, it becomes evident that the piece that we are really missing is the ability to collate all variables and calculate them together.

I fear you have misunderstood chaos theory. What it actually states is that, even if all the variables are known and calculable, the outcomes of certain processes cannot be fully determined. At best we can propose a range of outcomes.

More accurately, if the number of initial conditions known is finite, the outcome of these processes cannot be determined. However, it is impossible (except, perhaps, for God) to determine an infinite set of initial conditions.

Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for chaotic systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general. This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behaviour is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. In other words, the deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable. This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos. Source

So this is wrong:

The logical conclusion is that if we have sufficient data and the ability to calculate it out, we won't need to see the weather develop, we can just sort it out.

We can't. Chaos (more accurately, 'determined chaos') is inherent in them.

So the first question arises... if one had sufficient knowledge of the state of the universe prior to the Big Bang, sufficient understanding of the underlying laws and limitations of reality, and sufficient ability to project things out mathematically, could one determine the current state of the universe?

This would be true, perhaps, if there was a 'state of the universe prior to the Big Bang. In fact, time is an aspect of the universe (spacetime) and only exists within it. There was no 'prior to' the Big Bang. Some physicists, Julian Barbour for example, contend that time does not exist at all, but that opens a different can of worms...

Recognize that this represents an almost unimaginable level of knowledge and mathematics, but is it possible that one could factor out the way that things are right now?

'Almost unimaginable'? Infinity is not imaginable, except in an abstract way. There are no infinite quantities in nature.

Aside from capabilities, the real limitation to this is the factor of randomness.

No, for the reasons explained above. You could eliminate randomness and still not be able to predict chaotic outcomes. There's a mathematical Catch-22 here: you need to know an infinite set of initial conditions, yet there is no infinite set of conditions to be known; at the quantum level, all events are limited and finite.

Of course, if there were a God, these strictures would not apply to Him. God, by definition, can do anything and everything (this, incidentally, is one of the most potent arguments against the existence of God, since it involves a wide range of moral contradictions--which might be thought to pertain even if we throw logic out of the door before sneaking God in through the window.

Is there true randomness?

Yes, as maslo pointed out earlier. Of course, you may choose to believe that God decides every quantum outcome. Aristotle's God, the Unmoved Mover, is theoretically capable of this. However, this would defeat your argument again (see below).

Though you might believe otherwise, there is no "random number generator" in computers, because there is no randomness.

That is not the reason. It is because the kind of thing that would generate random numbers at the computer speeds would be quite big, hard to handle and dangerous. Randomness exists. Any piece of fast-decaying radioactive material can be an efficient RNG.

If God is omniscient (he knows everything,) in a universe that contains no randomness, there is no point to letting it play out Unlike us, he does have the capability of complete knowledge of the initial variables, as well as the ability to calculate it all out. If he would like to create a universe where pi=3.46 to see how that works out, he need not even let it happen, he can sort it out himself right from the start.

Correct. However, the randomness would still defeat Him. If he can foresee it, it isn't random any more.

God himself can be the "randomness." As you might drop into your "Sims Family" and add a person or remove one, God leaning in and curing someone's cancer, or appearing as a vision someplace would represent an intrusion to the original state, invalidating the integrity of the experiment, as well as the predictability of it.

This is a false premise, I'm afraid. A created universe doesn't have to be an experiment. A telling argument against such a deus ex machina as you propose is that thousands of years of observation have shown absolutely no convincing evidence of its operation. It would be more fruitful to argue that any intervention by an external, Aristotelian or Thomist God slews the world onto a new track, complete with a new-minted history, so that nobody remembers what it was like before the intervention and nobody remembers the intervention either. Of course, you'd then have to look elsewhere to find evidence of God at all...

Additionally, and more importantly, we represent randomness in this view. Everything that has happened in my life, all the choices that I have made, have led me to this moment, my writing this. Everything that has happened in your life, similarly, has led to you reading it. Whether it has any impact on you depends on your reception, I suppose, but these are all purely random occurrences.

No, they are not. Every event in your life is determined by earlier, upstream events. The choices you make are based on your natural proclivities (as determined by the genetic lottery), your personal history and the circumstances prevailing at the moment of decision. All these are determined. A truly random action would be a truly irrational action--irrational not in the sense of poorly thought out, but in the sense of being motiveless. There is no free will except in the most limited, provisional sense.

There is a much simpler and far more convincing argument for why we are a necessary part of the universe. It is that we apprehend the universe. If we did not exist, the universe as we apprehend it would not exist either.

This thread should be in the Philosophy forum, not in this one.

posted on Aug, 16 2010 @ 09:00 AM
reply to post by Astyanax

Excellent reply, thank you for the insights. The natural question, it seems to me, is why the state of a complex system can't be determined from its initial conditions, as there's logically no reason for it. The Universe is finite, the particles within it are finite, so one would not need infinite knowledge, just knowledge of the finite members.

As I said, I have seen both sides of the random argument, and it seems like people argue for or against it, depending on what they're arguing about. True randomness prevents the calculability of creation, but if God is outside of his own creation (as it seems logical that he would have to be,) as I noted, he already knows the results of it anyway. If he is external to time, the end state was known at the same time as the initial state was known, but the paradox, I think, still requires it to "run".

Time and time again, we've seen science face some subject and either get it wrong or throw up their hands and say "I don't know" (or, in the past, "God did that") and eventually other aspects of science or technology develop that allows us to go back to that conclusion and right it. I lean towards the belief that we're currently in that "I don't know" state in both chaos and quantum mechanics. We lack the necessary tools to determine whether a real calculation can be made (and, thinking through weather, for example, I don't think that we ever will -- the knowledge required is not infinite, but it's far beyond our capability to collect and process, so its possible, but not feasible) or why observation of quantum phenomenon affects the results.

I suspect (hope, really) that we'll eventually develop the ability to do so, and people will look back on some of the theories these days in a fashion similar to how we look at Ptolemy today.

Your comments regarding human action implies a sense of determinism, but I'm guessing that I'm misreading that and, as you say, a topic for another thread perhaps.

posted on Aug, 16 2010 @ 10:26 AM
If god were a computer scientist running the simulation of universe on his quantum computer he would in a sense be omnipotent - as long as he is capable enough to inject code into the simulation. However, a computer scientist is not in knowledge of every variable in regards to his simulation - there are so many things going on that he can simply not know each and every thing each and every moment.

Sure, he can look up whatever he wants to know, sure he can modify the simulation any way he wishes. But the reason he started it in the first place might be the desire to learn or to experience. Heck, he could even be a kid sitting and playing sims, a few thousand of our years being one of his days/nights.

[edit on 8/16/2010 by above]

posted on Aug, 16 2010 @ 11:14 AM

Originally posted by adjensen
The natural question, it seems to me, is why the state of a complex system can't be determined from its initial conditions, as there's logically no reason for it.

Theoretically, this ought to be feasible for any determined system, however chaotic, so long as initial conditions could be measured with infinite precision. Clearly the powers of observation and calculation this would demand are also infinite, so we are discussing something only God could do, if there were a God to do it.

However, there are events in the universe that occur with genuine randomness. These aren't necessarily small, insignificant events; the exact timing of a supernova explosion is a stochastic event.

God would doubtless be able to predict the outcome of every event, however random it appears to us mortals; however, that would eliminate randomness, as I pointed out earlier, and point to an absolutely determined universe without the faintest possibility of free will.

The Universe is finite, the particles within it are finite, so one would not need infinite knowledge, just knowledge of the finite members.

This re-admits chaos. Yes, the Universe and its contents--including 'events', however defined--are finite in extent and number. However, system states are not finite, because not all processes occur in discrete increments. In particular, forces act continuously. A massive object moving under the influence of gravity is subject to a continuous influence upon its motion. However closely you plot your points along the trajectory of its motion, you cannot identify precisely which point among a substantial number of adjacent ones specifies your 'initial condition'; and the closer you plot your points (for, you hope, greater accuracy), the larger the number of contenders for Si = n grows. You need the infinite capacity I mentioned earlier.

Still, for a believer, there is a way out of this. God is, after all, God; He doesn't have to bother with identifying initial conditions; He can set them as He likes, and decree the laws of nature too, so that the final outcome is never in doubt. The only mystery I see here is why you think that

(even) if God is external to time, (and thus) the end state was known at the same time as the initial state was known... the paradox, I think, still requires it to "run".

In a recent argument with another philosophically inclined believer (a pantheist, however), I mentioned that the Greeks saw even the gods as subject to Necessity. You seem to be in agreement with that here, but I don't see why you should be, or indeed whether it is appropriate to your Christian faith. True Omnipotence cannot be subject to necessity; it is a contradiction in terms. Of course, unfettered omnipotence generates paradoxes of the 'God can build a wall he can't climb over' kind. Aquinus more or less admitted the limits of omnipotence when he said something to the effect that God's divinity is not compromised by the intractability of logic. I fear I paraphrase wildly, but you get the drift.

The point that sticks out of all this is that no rational statement can really be made about an omniscient, all-powerful being. Nor, if one is a believer, is there any necessity to make any, apart for wishing--ahem--to appear reasonable in the eyes of nonbelievers. Perhaps you can supply a less cynical-sounding reason.

Your comments regarding human action implies a sense of determinism, but I'm guessing that I'm misreading that and, as you say, a topic for another thread perhaps.

You're reading it right. I am most certainly a determinist.

posted on Aug, 16 2010 @ 12:41 PM

Originally posted by Astyanax
Still, for a believer, there is a way out of this. God is, after all, God; He doesn't have to bother with identifying initial conditions; He can set them as He likes, and decree the laws of nature too, so that the final outcome is never in doubt.

Well, technically I'm not looking for a way out of it. If it's an impossibility, then it is what it is and that's okay. I still think that it's not an impossibility, though, due to the current non-absolute understanding of reality, but that's probably as much my intransigence as it is a thoughtful conclusion.

The only mystery I see here is why you think that

(even) if God is external to time, (and thus) the end state was known at the same time as the initial state was known... the paradox, I think, still requires it to "run".

In a recent argument with another philosophically inclined believer (a pantheist, however), I mentioned that the Greeks saw even the gods as subject to Necessity. You seem to be in agreement with that here, but I don't see why you should be, or indeed whether it is appropriate to your Christian faith. True Omnipotence cannot be subject to necessity; it is a contradiction in terms. Of course, unfettered omnipotence generates paradoxes of the 'God can build a wall he can't climb over' kind. Aquinus more or less admitted the limits of omnipotence when he said something to the effect that God's divinity is not compromised by the intractability of logic. I fear I paraphrase wildly, but you get the drift.

I think that you're asking about the paradox bit, and I see it as being the same as the nonsense question of "Can God make a burrito so hot that even he can't eat it?" because it's a logical impossibility. If God creates a start point, observes the end point from the same external (in both space and time) perspective, then it has to still happen, or he cannot have observed the end point. That seems like a limitation of omnipotence, but I think it depends on perspective.

In short, I view omnipotence as being understood with reference to God's relationship with our reality, but not understood for his relationship to his reality. It might be the same thing, but I suspect that it is not, as it would take away the logical impossibility of both my statement and Homer Simpson's, though in a fashion that we're unable to understand. But if omnipotence in the two realities is not consistent, God can do whatever he wants within our reality, but cannot do everything outside of this reality, so the experiment still needs to run.

Frankly, when I think about omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence, a number of things occur to me. First, if I take the position that God is outside of our reality, both in space and time, these three seem reasonable. Secondly, I accept as a possibility that, as with so much that is described in the Bible, it is possible that these three things are misapplied (for example, from his external point of view, God can know everything, but does he need to? I can see that both ways.) Finally, and this is where those first two coincide with your "no rational statement can be made" note, because we are not God, and we are not aware of the nature of his reality (other than speculation and extension of our own perspective,) when we try to understand or relate to some of these supernatural aspects, we would be more honest to say "yeah, don't really know how that works" than to apply our view of things to God to say "here's how it works."

My faith is subjective, and my objective brain and craving for understanding drives me to learn, speculate and debate, but in the end, I accept that there are no concrete answers, at least not here. That's both frustrating and interesting, but it is the only conclusion that I've been able to come to.

Your comments regarding human action implies a sense of determinism, but I'm guessing that I'm misreading that and, as you say, a topic for another thread perhaps.

You're reading it right. I am most certainly a determinist.

Okay. I assumed that I was reading it wrong, because it's contrary to what appears to be your view of the rest of reality, but we can sort through that another time.

posted on Aug, 16 2010 @ 01:05 PM
reply to post by adjensen

Hello adjensen-

You stated that you believe in "God"

I look at it this was, if you want to find "God" you must start simple which is how "God" created everything.

Simple 0

If "God" is "everything" then "God" is 0, Nothing comes before 0.

Once 0 was created, -1 and 1 were created at the same time to create what we see today.

In the bible it says we were created in "Gods" image and that we are.

We start as 0 and when we are born we then become -1 and 1 as well.

posted on Aug, 16 2010 @ 01:13 PM

Originally posted by adjensen
So the first question arises... if one had sufficient knowledge of the state of the universe prior to the Big Bang, sufficient understanding of the underlying laws and limitations of reality, and sufficient ability to project things out mathematically, could one determine the current state of the universe? Recognize that this represents an almost unimaginable level of knowledge and mathematics, but is it possible that one could factor out the way that things are right now?

Not necessarily. Depending on your interpretation of quantum mechanics, it may be that there is in fact genuine randomness, or just genuine uncertainty, or even some wiggle room for the divine, in the universe.

See my thread on this topic of several weeks ago:

www.abovetopsecret.com...

[edit on 16-8-2010 by NewlyAwakened]

posted on Aug, 16 2010 @ 04:42 PM
@Trudge - we've talking about that before in your thread about creating something out of nothing, but I still don't really get where you're at, sorry.

@NewlyAwakened - thanks for the thread, I had read through it. I get lost in the complexities of QM if I stumble in too deep, but while I think that one can walk away from it, with the understanding that we have right now, with a sense of God in there someplace, I once again suspect that we'll get a better handle on it in the future (probably the distant future) and that view may change. So I don't hang anything on it, although I will admit that, when I left religion for a bit, it was a book on QM that nudged me back to giving it a lot of thought.

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 01:51 AM
reply to post by adjensen

If God creates a start point, observes the end point from the same external (in both space and time) perspective, then it has to still happen, or he cannot have observed the end point. That seems like a limitation of omnipotence, but I think it depends on perspective.

In short, I view omnipotence as being understood with reference to God's relationship with our reality, but not understood for his relationship to his reality... if omnipotence in the two realities is not consistent, God can do whatever he wants within our reality, but cannot do everything outside of this reality, so the experiment still needs to run.

Fair enough. This way of looking at things also has the advantage that it makes plausible God's a special interest in humankind (He is omnipotent, but only in our reality, so He's God to us but not necessarily to anybody else).

However, this view makes a demiurge of your Christian God. That is an ancient and terrible heresy, first anathematized by Irenaeus during the second century. It remains heretical in all forms of Christianity to this day.

More here if you really are interested. I used to be, but it's all mumbo-jack to me now.

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 04:49 AM
Strangely, while pondering a reply i found this picture:

3.bp.blogspot.com... /AAAAAAAAQmA/9xbZWdSKfXw/s640/single8negro.jpg

Science and maths goes back to a singularity. Where it seems every single law was both broken, and made at the same time.

LET THERE BE LIGHT. And in that, existed all the rules and laws of physics and probability. I accept evolution as God's doing quite happily, as these laws of chance and survival seem to work quite well.

I think the universe is largely static, in that if you had the ability to factor in all variables you would have a fairly accurate idea of what is about to happen. However, first we can't, but even if we could, there IS an element of freewill that exists, that can break the conventional routines.

We just don't know how that works. Yet. The closest i've come to answers is FAITH ... a swear word in science. The Global Consciousness project is probably the closest we've come scientifiucally to looking at this problem of humanity unarguably affecting natural laws. Perhaps it helps us understand the laws a little better.

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 08:30 AM

Originally posted by Astyanax
reply to post by adjensen

If God creates a start point, observes the end point from the same external (in both space and time) perspective, then it has to still happen, or he cannot have observed the end point. That seems like a limitation of omnipotence, but I think it depends on perspective.

In short, I view omnipotence as being understood with reference to God's relationship with our reality, but not understood for his relationship to his reality... if omnipotence in the two realities is not consistent, God can do whatever he wants within our reality, but cannot do everything outside of this reality, so the experiment still needs to run.

Fair enough. This way of looking at things also has the advantage that it makes plausible God's a special interest in humankind (He is omnipotent, but only in our reality, so He's God to us but not necessarily to anybody else).

However, this view makes a demiurge of your Christian God. That is an ancient and terrible heresy, first anathematized by Irenaeus during the second century. It remains heretical in all forms of Christianity to this day.

More here if you really are interested. I used to be, but it's all mumbo-jack to me now.

I think that you've made a leap there that I didn't follow, but I'm probably misunderstanding, sorry. My statement is that, within the realm of this reality (and I don't view this to reality to be human-centric, necessarily,) God has the power of omnipotence. He exists outside of this reality, though -- he cannot have created the realm of his own existence, a logical paradox. Within his reality, it is possible, though unknown, that omnipotence means something different than it does here.

The heresy that you cite was an attempt by some in the early Church to pull together Gnosticism, a belief that predates Christ, and Christianity. I view this more as Gnostics trying to "muscle in" on this new faith that was burgeoning, though it could have been well meaning Christians who liked aspects of Gnosticism and were trying to reconcile them.

Gnosticism, though (and I'll admit to having a less than massive knowledge of it -- I did some reading, concluded it wasn't sensible for me, and that ended it,) held a number of views that were contrary with the God that Christians followed. They believed, for instance, that our bodies are "spiritual prisons", that material is bad, and that there were multiple spiritual beings (ala gods) who played different roles.

The Gnostic Christians viewed the creator God (by implication, I think, the God of the Old Testament Jewish faith) as, effectively, being a bit of a bumbler, an imperfect being who screwed things up, then made things worse by the actions that the OT describes. This "Archon" was pushed aside by the God that Jesus spoke of while he was here, and Christ was an intermediary aeon who came here to impart the sacred knowledge that would free us from these spiritual prisons.

As you can imagine, this sort of thinking didn't sit very well with the early Church (the Epistles of both Paul and John indicate that it didn't take too long to get started, and both adamantly declare it to be wrong) and so it was quickly declared heresy and its proponents were shown the door.

When I think through some of these logical extensions of faith, I apply my religion and theology against them. If I come across something that is in conflict, I proceed carefully, because it's either wrong, or I am, and I need to make sure that my biases aren't causing me to see a conclusion that isn't there. To believe that God's omnipotence in another reality is somehow different than it is here doesn't really impact my view of Christianity, because whether it's the same thing or different, it doesn't have any effect on his omnipotence in this reality, which is all anyone can claim to understand.

But, again, I might be misconstruing your statement, sorry.

posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 10:40 PM

Originally posted by adjensen
I think that you've made a leap there that I didn't follow.

The concept of the demiurge was Platonic in origin. Gnostic adoption and elaboration came later. Your concept of God fits the Platonic demiurgos perfectly.

There are many forms of gnosticism, all anathematized by the Church. However, the history you've painted is speculative and much too flattering to early Christians. Are you familiar with the real history of Christianity? A good source, despite its great age, is Gibbon. They were chucking cathedrae at each other.

Remember that the prize for post-Constantinian Christian groups was world domination; they were like the Taliban on amphetamines.

posted on Aug, 19 2010 @ 08:49 AM

Originally posted by Astyanax
The concept of the demiurge was Platonic in origin. Gnostic adoption and elaboration came later. Your concept of God fits the Platonic demiurgos perfectly.

Not without an awful lot of incorrect inference on your part, sorry. I do not believe in a power above God, I do not believe in the division of Arche/Logos/Harmonia, and I do not accept that God is a "bumbler" who has mucked it all up.

The link that you pointed to in the previous version describes the heresy refutation of Gnostic Christianity. The demiurge view adopted by Gnosticism is the specific heresy that the church addressed, and while it may encompass similar beliefs (and should likely be assumed to) that has no bearing, as it is not my belief.

Your wanting to infer that my speculation represents Gnosticism or a demiurge view of God is incorrect, and I suspect that I'm a bit more of an authority on what I believe than you are.

Remember that the prize for post-Constantinian Christian groups was world domination; they were like the Taliban on amphetamines.

Well, more's the power to them, then, that they had sorted that out in the time of Paul and John.

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