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Posted by Harvey on January 19, 2002 20:18:18 UTC

Hi Yasir,

***Why does God jump in ll the discussions when there are unanswered or unexplained questions?***

For me the issue is about order in the cosmos. I want to know why there is order and what is the nature of that order. This involves science, it involves philosophy, and ultimately it involves theology.

***What compels us to believe that you need some unknown supernatural thing to control all the natural phenomena by handpicking the universal constants?***

First, we must recognize what is apparently the case. That being that the universe is an oddity if you look at what the constants and laws could have been conceivably compared to what they actually are. We live in a Goldilocks universe (just so) and this limits the type of underlying order that could explain such a phenomena. So, this is a discussion about the kind of order in the universe. One view is that an ensemble universe can explain this situation (i.e., given enough universes anything is possible), another is the traditional scientific view which is that there is some law that requires certain actions by nature. Some forms of theist arguments, such as the one that I believe, favors the latter.

***Why is it difficult for us to simply say that we don't know yet if there is God or no God?***

Put some emphasis on the word 'yet'. I believe there is a widely held misconception of science that we will eventually know all things (like some people believe will happen when we go to Heaven). However, the misconception that I think this view is based on is that science doesn't deal with ontological knowledge of the world (i.e., knowledge which is about the way the world really is). Science is about models that make predictions and explanations that jive with our observations and our sensibilities. It isn't a certain knowledge of the world, rather it provides models about the way the world could be, but we have no way of really knowing that is the case.

If this philosophical accessment is correct (and I believe it is), then the best we can do with science is provide sensible theories of the world, but we cannot actually know how the world really is. Philosophy, on the other hand, is concerned about a number of matters. One branch of philosophy, called metaphysics, is concerned about the way the world really is (in terms of what actually exists this is called ontology, and the 'theories' that it produces as ontological theories).

In terms of ontological knowledge, we don't have experimental methods to confirm our knowledge, and we will perhaps never have such knowledge. The reason is that there is always an out there aspect to what is actually 'out there'. In terms of the question of God or what kind of order actually exists, the best reliable method that we can address these kinds of ontological questions is philosophy. A combination of philosophy and science is an effective tool, and fortunately a good deal of these resources are now available to us. That's not to say in the future the situation won't improve, but we are now at the point to where we can see certain ontological theories take on a more obvious tone. It is my belief that we have already reached the point to where atheist or agnostic views have shown themselves as poor choices to explain the order in the universe as we currently understand it.

***Why theism or athiesm? Why not just pure science?***

Well, science is possible without any ontological theory itself. However, most of us like to think that scientific entities actually exist. For example, if I came on this forum and said that quarks, leptons, protons, etc were all useful fictions but not actually existing objects, then many of you would think that I was a little lulu. Despite that fact, there are a number of philosophers of science who say exactly that - the entities of science (or a good deal of them) are just useful fictions. Are they wrong scientifically. Unfortunately they cannot be shown scientifically that this is the case. The issues here are issues of philosophy and they directly impinge upon our understanding of science, the role of science in clarifying our knowledge of the world, and ultimately - I think -- they leave us no choice but to study ontology and consider full ontological theories. We do not have to do this to do science, but they begin to affect our commonly conceived conceptions of science if we do not hold at least engage in some philosophical analysis.

***Why we should talk about God?***

We need to talk about order that underlies science if we are ever to make a fuller sense of what the laws of science mean.

Warm regards, Harv

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