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Posted by Harvey on January 31, 2002 00:07:58 UTC

Hi Paul,

***I think the biggest error that religions have foisted on people is the notion that God is infinite, perfect, omnipotent, and all the rest. It is easy to see where this came from, though. The My-God-is-more-powerful-than-your-god contests that have been waged or imagined throughout history have naturally led to the view of an almighty god.***

You might be partly correct. I know that in the Hebrew scriptures the emphasis upon Yahweh as being more powerful than other nation's gods, eventually developed into Yahweh being the only god, to the point to where there is only God and his name is "I AM". The Hebrew scriptures were written at different times (lots of renditions) and so we see sparks of this evolution throughout. Even in the Christian scriptures we see where justice, power, and revenge give way to love, compassion, and mercy. The Greeks had a similar evolution where the philosophers began to dismiss the gods in favor of a monotheistic God (which is why Socrates was accused of being an atheist and was ultimately killed). Plato continued with the monothestic version but added the notion that God is Goodness, Aristotle refined it to God as the Prime Mover, etc. So, it probably was a natural evolution of thought, but competition was probably very much part of it (by the way, my ignorance of other ancient cultures keeps me from commenting further - which is a good thing, huh?).

***It also makes more cosmological sense. If we acknowledge a god and then ask how he got to be so powerful, the traditional view has to make what seem to be preposterous claims: that he has had all this power from the very beginning and yet he creates obviously imperfect universes. In my view, god got to be as powerful as he is through a natural process of experiencing, learning, and growing.***

You sound like you are quoting a process theologian directly out of one of their books. I don't buy into this notion only because in my view the universe conforms to God's will. Anything that doesn't conform is merely an anomaly that will eventually be corrected. That is, something can be wrong but ultimately it is allowed because it is currently within the boundary conditions of God's will. In your view I get the idea that stuff happens which is certainly outside God's boundary conditions but God is limited in preventing it. This would be far outside my view.

***The point is that there are different modes and perspectives of knowing. I suspect that god has many more such modes and perspectives with respect to us than we do with respect to our cars. But because of that complementarity idea I suggested earlier, I claim that god can't know everything about everything all the time.***

My only rough spot with this idea is that God is already working at the quantum level in your view. It seems to me that our knowledge actually increases the more detail we know.

***When I think of Alan's explanation of the three-cornered game, connecting the dots, etc. and then I think of my explanation of a primordial mind thinking of numbers and playing mental games with them to the point of producing the illusion that there are conscious beings inhabiting a physical universe, and then I think of your explanation of God starting out following a minimal path toward some goal involving symmetry transformations thus producing the natural history of the world, I get the distinct feeling that we are all trying to describe the same concept. We just use different words and different mental models that seem to make sense to us but they make less sense to the others. I don't think we are very far apart, except in our use of language.***

I like to focus more on the differences because that makes the discussions much more interesting and often more precise. But, if you think about it, the fact that we think about reality beyond meeting our immediate needs is an amazing unity that everyone on this forum shares to a considerable extent!

Warm regards, Harv

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