Tom Caylor wrote:

>I'm talking about ultimate meaning, meaning which is ultimately based
>on truth.  Purpose would go along with that.  I think that this
>situation is similar (metaphysically isomorphic? :) to the "primary
>matter" situation.  I think you maintain that experience is enough.  I
>maintain that if all you have is relative references, you are having
>faith that there is ultimately something "there".  I'm not interested
>in any straw-man caricature god who decides what is valuable etc. on a
>whim.  I'm interested in the source of the wonderfully unexplainable
>good in us.

In mentioning the idea of God deciding morality on a whim, you perhaps 
allude to the old counterargument to grounding morality in God in the first 
place, known as "Euthyphro's Dilemma" from one of Plato's dialogues--if God 
*chose* these supposed laws of morality, then they are ultimately arbitrary 
since God could have chose a completely different set of laws, but if moral 
truths are in some sense beyond God's ability to change, much like many 
philosophers would say the laws of mathematics or logic are, then it's not 
clear why you need "God" in your explanation at all, you could just cut out 
the middleman and postulate eternal platonic moral truths in the same way 
many on this list are prepared to postulate eternal platonic mathematical 

The only way in which I could see that it would make sense to relate 
goodness to "God" is to imagine a sort of pantheist God that represents a 
sort of ultimate pattern or harmony connecting every individual part of the 
universe, so goodness would represent some kind of orientation towards the 
ultimate pattern which encompasses all of us, and which would override 
individual conflicting interests. A variation on this might be the "Omega 
Point" idea that every individual finite being is on some sort of long-term 
path towards being integrated into an infinite superorganism (perhaps only 
as a limit that can never actually be reached in finite time), or in the 
concepts of this list maybe a single infinitely complex observer-moment with 
memories of every other observer-moment, which could also be seen as an 
ultimate pattern connecting everything (one might say, as in Frank Tipler's 
speculations about the Omega Point, that an infinite mind would itself 
contain simulations of every possible history in every possible universe 
leading up to it, so that the Omega Point would both be an endpoint of 
history but also contain all history integrated within it). In this view, 
every instance of individuals trying to cooperate and to understand and 
connect with each other is an incremental "step in the right direction", so 
one could ground "ultimate goodness" in that. I recently came across an 
interesting interview at discussing Teilhard de 
Chardin's thoughts on the Omega Point, and many on this list will be 
familiar with Frank Tipler's version which I mention above (even if Tipler's 
specific ideas about using the Big Crunch to do an infinite amount of 
computation in a finite time are proven wrong, as a transhumanist I'm still 
crossing my fingers that intelligence will find some loophole in the laws of 
physics that will allow it to continue forever without violating the laws of 
thermodynamics). But neither of these versions of "God" bears much 
resemblance to the creator-God separate from the rest of the universe that's 
imagined by most mainstream religions.


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