Subject:     Re: Theology (was in-between-times)
    Date:     5 August 2005 10:44:38 PM
    To:       [EMAIL PROTECTED]

On 04/08/2005, at 11:44 PM, Bruno Marchal wrote:

Le 31-juil.-05, à 03:13, Kim Jones wrote (just before the thread was censored).

Go Bruno!!

Theology concerns itself with the "mechanism" of belief.

What is the mechanism of belief?

It acts like a filter, or a pair of tinted glasses if you will.
Belief is that way of looking at reality that reinforces that way of
looking at reality. Is that scientific?

No. But then your definition of theology is perhaps a little bit to much a contingent matter.
Perhaps the word "theology" has too many connotations. I explain below why I do think that, despite its heavy historical background, it could still be the less misleading word.

I prefer "metaphysical" myself. After all, it claims to be the system that is looking at the system. That is perhaps best described as "metaphysics"

Any assessment of supposed objective rigour in ANY form of
theological thinking - be it "total unrigorous manipulative pseudo-
theology" or even the usual kind of theology taught to the average
working cleric has to be seen in the light of this comment.

The FOR book, Everett formulation of QM, and my own work rely on the computationalist hypothesis. Is this not a "theological" assumption?

Only if it can never be proven. The trick is to NEVER believe that it can never be proven!

If COMP one day turns out to be true then it's not theological anymore, it's logical. I'm assuming an equivalence of meaning here in the use of the terms "theological" and "metaphysical" in dealing with assumptions. Of course, if quantum computers turn out to work in the specified manner, then MWI is proven and there never was anything metaphysical going on. Whether or not that is seen as reliable proof of COMP remains to be seen

The danger, that Alan guards against, lies in STARTING from the metaphysical/theological viewpoint. But this of course makes it extremely hard to deal with all these assumptions out in the open (as you say).

I certainly do not hold that scientists are somehow free of the ravages of belief. In science, one's beliefs are always smuggled in through the back door - hence Einstein's famous  "God does not play dice with the universe". He meant it quite as much as a statement of religious faith as a refutation of QM (and I do not believe Einstein would have considered himself offtopic either)

Is this not a belief in a form of survival after a form of possible death? A belief that I can survive with an artificial body can be seen as an argument for the ability of the "soul" to be independent of its body. No?

Yes of course, but again if it turns out to be physically real or at least possible (testable), why do we need the metaphysics? What if the "soul" turns out to be the summation of the "amplitude of your minds" to use Herwig's words, spread across the multiverse? I can cope with that notion under the banner of the real, the possible. No star in the east, no burning bushes - just a mind-blowing real possibility

Those cases also illustrate the possibility of some theological assumptions about which we can reason. As Deutsch and Tipler do, it seems to me.

The exciting part surely in what they do is to bypass the theology altogether. It's simply an unnecessary explanatory step. Truth really is stranger than fiction. Theology would try to reference everything to the Bible - see next

Theology wants to limit the field of ideas because theology is the
traditional gate-keeper of the intellect of organised religion.

It is not because 99% of the theologians, and this 99% of the time, are under the control of political organization (like science sometimes, somewhere: ex: genetic in Soviet Union), that we should dismiss the original questioning.

I feel it is the other way around. Politics is belief or spirituality in action. What we believe authors what we do, sets up what we call "moral".  The supposed split between the Church and the State is as much nonsense today as it was in the Middle Ages. Law is ultimately rooted in adherence to a moral framework, so belief in values, morals etc precedes politics, indeed gives rise to it

anyone heard of an organised religion that is gagging for new
thinking, new ideas???

Come on. The jewish commentaries, the scolastic christians, The Muslim neoplatonist,  the Hinduism school, the taoist schools, the buddhist schools: all have been open some long time to critical argumentations and improvements. Hinduism and Buddhism have even had quite sophisticate internal school of logic.

Most look to their past for a continuing mandate and thus fall back on their laurels. There is not enough futuristic stuff in theology. It's usually about why things have to be NOW the way they are because of something that happened way back THEN.  COMP is exciting because it offers the possibility of "future" conditioning of "past" events. Religious thinking is not really up to this

Look at the neo-platonist tradition: quite a long and sincere argumentation. It still exists today everywhere on the planet, even if it is hidden by the media politically correct cacophonia.

Yet, Plato was a truly fascist thinker. He admired Sparta, a fascist state - and built this power-structure thing into his vision of what a Republic was. Let's not forget that. He believed in slavery. This surely is of interest in looking at the theological aspects of the neo-platonist tradition?  He claimed a form of reality for ideas that is based on "mathematical reality" - essentially a yes-no, right-wrong information system - at least in its everyday implementation. This was extrapolated as the search for "truth". According to Socrates (or Plato more likely as all we know of Socrates words comes via Plato's ) - all you had to do was get rid of all error and then you are left with the truth. But this is nonsense. Life is not a mathematical problem. Usually the cause of all "error" is human nature. This is a very difficult cause to remove.

Theology has an unspoken brief to limit the field of ideas to what
the powerbrokers in organised religions long ago decided was permissable

But organised religion, like organised academy, should be separate from the original intent.
The same is true for philosophy.

It's hard not to extrapolate to the world around here. Many religious scholars are standing up for their beliefs right now in a very public way. Islamic scholars have the direct ear of government. In this way, belief systems can quickly author actions if required.

Science (and hopefully philosophy if it can keep up) will usually
seek to enlarge and populate the field of ideas with anything and
everything necessary to understand reality.

But by preventing seriousness in theology and its related questions, you make yourself an objective ally of those who want "theology" to be kept in the hand of social manipulators.

If by "seriousness in theology" you allow that everything in a belief system may be subject to a complete makeover or update to a more contemporary way of expressing and dealing with issues then I am not against it at all. Everything has to change in the universe, so why does belief remain stuck in Sunday school? Going back to the Bible to justify everything is how the social manipulators work because God spoke to man in a way that requires interpretation and that can be exploited

And the worst is that this attitude encourages a wrong understanding of science, like if science was answering (or even tackling) those questions, which for methodological reasons only, it does not. It makes science a peculiar theology : one which pretend to reach the truth. Is that not a form of arrogance?

Like I said - scientists have their beliefs; they just don't talk about them. Most don't talk about them even to themselves and that's the biggest worry. It's impossible not to act out of belief because we know when we are doing something we do not believe in. You cannot lie to yourself. I do not think science pretends to be reaching the truth because if that happens we all have to shut up and go to bed because there is nothing left to talk about.

Is not naturalism a religion? Is not the "primitive universe" or "Nature" just a "Modern God"?

Yes. But doesn't Occam's razor eliminate some things here? Or, doesn't Occam show up when God is around?

After all, as I just recall in my preceding post, nobody has given a proof of the existence of Nature.

I think the Gaia hypothesis of Lovelock came closest. The Earth may yet convince us that she exists through repeated attempts to destroy the human plague with natural catastrophe and severe weather. We take a lot of convincing, don't we?

Even Aristotle, as I begin to suspect, has been much more cautious on the existence of Nature than most of its followers.
I have no problem with scientists and theologians. I have problem with any dogma, both when used in science or in theology.

But today, dogmatic theologians are less annoying than dogmatic scientists,

Except where they provide intellectual justification for people to strap bombs on themselves etc.

because the dogmatic scientists pretend having no dogma, making dialog on fundamental open questions even more difficult I'm afraid.

Then it is a very silly situation then. We should dismiss all scientists' claims until we can be certain of their dogma. You can see why they try to avoid talking about it


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