Tom Caylor wrote:
> Brent Meeker wrote:
>> Tom Caylor wrote:
>>> Brent Meeker wrote:
>>>> An excellent essay.  I agree with almost everything you wrote; and you put 
>>>> it very well.  Would you mind if I cross posted it to Vic Stenger's 
>>>> AVOID-L mailing list.  You can check out the list here: 
>>> Although Victor Stenger doesn't use the word "anti-natural", the
>>> following equation is what he is assuming in his atheistic arguments:
>>> supernatural = anti-natural.
>>> Therefore he thinks that a proof of theism would amount to finding a
>>> violation of natural law.  Since he finds no such violation (which I
>>> would argue is a circular argument based on the definition of natural)
>>> he claim this proves atheism beyond a reasonable doubt (what is the
>>> measure of certainty/uncertainty?).
>>> In terms of Bruno's provability, this is akin to saying that a proof of
>>> the existence of a non-trivial G*/G can be obtained by finding an
>>> inconsistency in G.  This does not make sense.  This is like saying the
>>> only god that can exist is an inconsistent god.
>> A theist God (as opposed to a deist God) is one who intervenes in the 
>> natural order, i.e. does miracles.  Stenger will readily admit that his 
>> argument does not apply to a deist God.
>> Brent Meeker
> The problem (or challenge :) is that the meaning of "natural order"
> is open to much debate, especially here on the Everything List.

I'd say it's almost only on the Everything List that it is much debated.  Which 
of course because once you postulate that everything (in some sense or another) 
happens, you are then faced with the question of why what actually happens is 
so regular.

> Everything is up for grabs, so much so that it can be a challenge to
> figure out where any order comes from, resulting in problems such as
> white rabbits.  When we start with Everything, the problem is not just
> "How can anything interesting happen (like life, not to mention our
> stereotypical 'miracles'?" (the something-from-nothing question),
> but also "How can any order be birthed out of the plenitudinous sea
> of disorder?"  So in this Everything context, not having the whole
> picture of what the "natural order" is implies a lack of knowledge
> of what it would be to "intervene" on the natural order.
> Of course if we're talking about theism, then the nature of
> "intervention" is limited by certain parameters related to whatever
> god is supposedly intervening.  These parameters are a function of
> contingent aspects, such as, in the case of the biblical God's
> universe, the presence of evil and sacrificial love.  But such facts
> are probably considered too contingent for a List like this, where
> Everything is supposed to be impersonal.  (Is it?) Unfortunately, as
> Blaise Pascal noted, if the solution to the problem of evil is based on
> contingent facts, then staying at a general metaphysical (Everything)
> level is not going to get us in contact with the solution.    One
> possible insight that we can get from Everything-level discussion, if
> the thinker is willing to accept it, is to realize that a solution
> based on contingent facts in history is not ruled out by general
> philosophical thought about Everything.  

There is a very simple and widely accepted solution to the problem of evil - 
there is no omnipotent, benevolent God.

>Another insight is to realize
> that there is no solution to the problem of evil (or the mind-body
> problem...) at the (non-contingent) Everything level.  And if there's
> no solution to a problem that is part of the universe, then perhaps the
> (impersonal) Everything approach is not sufficient for dealing with
> everything.
> Getting back to the more impersonal question, as has been observed on
> this List multiple times, there is a problem with discerning the source
> of order in the universe.  

Actually Vic has just published a book on the subject, "The Comprehensible 
Cosmos".  I recommend it.

>Where does this natural order come from that
> we can make laws about it, and predict nature's actions fairly
> accurately, at least for our purposes?  Why is it that we aren't
> destroyed by savage white rabbits out of nowhere?  Proposed
> explanations include the use of ideas such as the Anthropic Principle,
> Occam's Razor, some kind of "measure", numbers, local order at
> the expense of disorder somewhere else far away, etc.  So again, in the
> light of this lack of understanding, it seems pretty presumptuous for
> us to say that there must not be interventions in the natural order
> simply because we don't see any as we've defined them. (Then we
> trap ourselves even more when we attach the label "natural order"
> to Everything we observe, whether we can explain it "naturally" or
> not.)  Perhaps the following analogy will help to open up the
> possibilities (not probabilities!) in our brains.  This is from C.S.
> Lewis as he put it in his book "Miracles".
> Tom
> "Let us suppose a race of people whose peculiar mental limitation
> compels them to regard a painting as something made up of little
> coloured dots which have been put together like a mosaic.  Studying the
> brushwork of a great painting through their magnifying glasses, they
> discover more and more complicated relations between the dots, and sort
> these relations out, with great toil, into certain regularities.  Their
> labour will not be in vain.  These regularities will in fact
> "work"; they will cover most of the facts.  But if they go on to
> conclude that any departure from them would be unworthy of the painter,
> and an arbitrary breaking of his own rules, they will be far astray.
> For the regularities they have observed never were the rule the painter
> was following.  What they painfully reconstruct from a million dots,
> arranged in an agonizing complexity, he really produced with a single
> lightning-quick turn of the wrist, his eye meanwhile taking in the
> canvass as a whole and his mind obeying laws of composition which the
> observers, counting their dots, have not yet come within sight of, and
> perhaps never will.  I do not say that the normalities of Nature are
> unreal.  The living fountain of divine energy, solidified for purposes
> of this spatio-temporal Nature into bodies moving in space and time,
> and thence, by our abstract thought, turned into mathematical formula,
> does in fact, for us, commonly fall into such and such patterns. But to
> think that a disturbance of them would constitute a breach of the
> living rule and organic unity whereby God, from his own point of view,
> works, is a mistake. If miracles do occur then we may be sure that not
> to have wrought them would be the real inconsistency."

But it's not a mistake to assume a magical Daddy in the sky who'll torture you 
in hell if you don't flatter him?  Lewis must have enjoyed this arrogant view 
of his own perception that could point to the mistakes of strawmen he invented 
for the purpose.

Brent Meeker
He's like a philosopher who says, "I know it's possible in
practice. Now I'd like to know whether it's possible in
      --- Daniel Dennett

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