This week I finished a Teaching Company course that I’ve had on my list for at least two years. I started it at first listening to it in my car during my commute, but stalled quickly. About six months ago, though, I changed my phone carrier and not only have a much larger harddrive on my new phone, but I also have unlimited internet. This means I’ve incorporated my phone into my learning process, using my phone in the mornings while undertaking manual labor (when at Eden), or all day while at work (since I can listen to lectures, podcasts, audiobooks while working in the office). This is how I’ve been able to finish the course, Exploring Metaphysics, and it’s opened up some interesting lines of inquiry for me in my studies.
While you’re at it, you can also read all of my other course assignments for my uThM Program here.
With this post, let’s dig in and work through the course Discussion Questions in Metaphysics!
Introduction to Metaphysics
How would you define the difference between science and metaphysics?
Science is (or was) the objective, measurable study of the natural world. It explored that which it could predict and falsify, what could be observed, tested and those tests repeated. Metaphysics is the philosophical study of the fundamental nature of reality, though, it does not limit itself to the objective, measurable, predictable, falsifiable, observable, natural world.
There is not so much of a difference today, as much of science (save for the extremely hard sciences of mathematics) has been hijacked by a philosophical, naturalistic, non-theistic world-view that pervades much of its objectivity.
Science pretends to adhere and limit itself to an observable, falsifiable system, yet betrays that with its underlining uniformitarian presuppositions.
Metaphysics, especially in light of the subjects covered in this lecture series, takes on a wide variety of challenges posed to the theories of reality, yet, is not ham-stringed by uniformitarianism. It brings to bare logic and sense and emotion, the entire corpus of philosophy and ethics, to address the fundamental questions of life, of death, of reality and the essential nature of existence itself.
Science (though it does not currently) should limit itself to that which is empirical and it should leave the rest to metaphysics, philosophy and theology.
Which is the better approach to studying metaphysics: to find and settle on an answer to difficult questions or to understand and appreciate the difficulty of the questions? Or are there other approaches?
In my estimation, if possible, it is best to do both. In the case of my particular research questions about death, it is likely that I will not find actual answers to those questions, such as what is death? What happens to us when we die? But, there will come a point in my life, in my own experience, where I will find an answer (when I die). Then again, if death is the end and there is nothing after death, then I will simply end and I will never actually know what it is to die, what it means to be dead.
There is a place and a purpose for discussing the question, the severity of the question, the complexity and difficulty of the question. But there is also a place to derive at answers if possible. Some questions have no answer and may never will have an answer. But, we benefit still in asking the question, in determining the framework from which the question is asked, deciding on the best possible worldview that appears more accurate, given our current conditions and our current (to this point) knowledge about the world and about the question itself.
I would conclude, it is important to analyze the question, but this does not go far enough. We may not arrive at all the answers, and some answers may not be as convincing or as effective, but it is important that we still strive for answers, at least as a goal, rather than deciding there are no answers before we even begin.
The hard problem of consciousness is about how neural activity can produce mental activity. Is this a question that is even answerable? What could we learn, or what experiment could we do, to find the answer?
This question may not be answerable from an empirical perspective. If we are to separate out any metaphysical or religious explanation, we are left with the five senses, with what can be measured by equipment, and what can be reproduced.
It is clear we have brains and brain activity and events. Likewise, I’m pretty sure it has already been established that brain events are in at least some way causally linked to our mental function. It has even been established that particular parts of the brain produce particular mental events. What is unclear is how.
How is it humans have this mental event layer overtop of brain function while (at least it appears) animals do not. Are these human mental events causal or correspondent one from another? Is the experience of consciousness the result of brain functionality alone or is there another first cause we are unaware of? Does the brain have any affect on consciousness and mental events at all?
In order to test for this causative link, we would have to first identify some measurable quality or even from our mental activity that can be tracked and traced to the physical brain’s event and activity. But, we have no way, at least to this point, of identifying, recording, or monitoring consciousness or mental activity. We would need to quantify conscious mental activity, as we have successfully done with brain activity. But, there is no substrate upon which consciousness operates. We do not know really anything about mental operation. It is an error to say consciousness does not exist, since I know with certainty at this moment that I am conscious of the cold air, I’m slightly uncomfortable, and I am devoting my conscious efforts toward the question of what conscious activity actually is. So, if we conclude, then, consciousness is real, eventful, then we have to conclude we do not yet know how or why or by what mechanism conscious mental activity originates, manifests, or how to measure or record it.
We can make an important assertion, though, within the framework of this discussion. It has been said frequently in theological circles that God is spirit only, that he has no flesh, no form. But, I profit an argument to this notion.
First, God has stated that man is made in his image. If we postulate the human mind event is causal to the human brain event, then there is no way we can deny God’s brain event. If we are made in the image of God, then what we have is what God has. I know with certainty that I am experiencing consciousness, and this is a perpetual stream of mental events. Because of this certainty, I can argue that, because we know God has consciousness (and thoughts and feelings and emotions), then he, too, would require a brain to have brain events.
By this argument, we prove God has a physical form. The argument against this assertion would require an alternative explanation. Yes, the bible states, “No man has seen God at any time” (John 1:18), but it also shows in many places with God having a face (Genesis 32:30), having a throne in which he sits on and consults with the angels (1 Kings 22:19–23), etc.
So, the phrase, “No man has seen God at any time” must mean something different than we understand it to mean. Or, the perspective is different. It could mean no one has ever seen God in the flesh because they’re always seen God in visions, not actually standing in the actual physical presence of God. It in no way suggests that God does not have a physical form to be seen (because we’ve never seen it). That would be the same as if I said, “Tokyo doesn’t have a physical location because I’ve never seen Tokyo.”
Souls and Superman
Where did you first hear about souls? Where did you first come across the idea that humans have souls? Were any convincing arguments or reasons put forth at that time for the existence of souls? Are there really any important consequences to doubting the soul’s existence?
My first intellectual understanding of souls as a concept that came from the bible. Specifically, Jesus referred to it, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Καρδία is heart (though most likely not the physical organ but the residence of our deep seated emotions, and true beliefs), ψυχή is the inner being, the passion of the individual, the desire of the heart, διανοία is our mental activity, the contemplative part of us. Mark added ισχύος, which is our strength.
The soul here, or our inner being, might be seen differently than the modern idea of the soul. Though, to say modern is a misnomer, as it is quite possible the concept we have of the soul today is derived from Plato and Greek philosophy more than anything else.
Of course, I developed this popular idea of the soul before my exposure to the biblical soul, but when I read the statement by Jesus, I simply assumed the word he referred to had the same platonic meaning.
I currently persist in accepting the existence of the soul ONLY because of Jesus’ reference to it, and the multitude of references throughout the biblical text to the soul. But, I don’t believe this soul, or ψυχή (inner being) is the spiritual, ethereal version of the individual. Rather, it is simply the collection of thoughts, memories, emotions that make up that which is the psyche. The personality.
The way in which we think of mind today is more apt intellect, which in the bible is νοῦς or the mind, the intellect, the reasoning part of us. It is with this mind (νοῦς) that Paul serves the law of God (Romans 7:25), but with his flesh (the physical body) he serves the law of sin. In Romans 11:34, it is said that God has a νοῦς. And, we are not to conform to this world, but we are to instead be transformed by the renewing of our νοῦς.
There is, then, no measurable evidence for the platonic soul. There is precedent for the biblical use of soul, in that ψυχή is the primal collection of all that makes us individual. Without all these component parts, we are not, individually, who we are. It is from the psyche where the consciousness experience is manifest, and is persistent and supernal.
The soul, by this definition, is separate and distinct from the physical body, as we can see in Matthew 10:28, “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in the lake of fire (Matthew 10:28). The body is temporal, though it will one day be eternal. The soul, on the other hand, is ethereal, and will always exist.
Outside of the biblical claim there is no evidence for the soul. And, there is no consequence for rejecting the concept of a soul if, indeed, there is no God, and Jesus was not resurrected after the third day. For, as Paul argues, if there is no resurrection of Christ, then our hope of resurrection is futile (1 Corinthians 15:13-19). We are, in fact, to be pitied above all others, for exchanging the single life we have now for a better one in the afterlife.
But, if there is an afterlife, if Christ did, in fact, die on the cross and was resurrected by God the Father on the third day, and he will one day return and bring with him wrath and anger and judgment, and those who believe are saved and enter into eternity with him, then there is truly a consequence for doubting or rejecting the biblical account. For, if there was truly a historic Jesus, and he truly died and was resurrected, then everything he said was the word of God, including the use of ψυχή. It might certainly not be what we understand soul to be (given the platonic shading we have in modern western society), but, nonetheless, it is an important reality to consider.
If Christ be God, and the bible is the inspired word of God, then we would do best to not only accept it but to learn from it and let it do it’s work to transform us into the Sons of God.
What other properties do mental events have that brain events seem to lack? What other properties do brain events have that mental properties lack?
Mental events seem to somehow possess or perpetuate consciousness for the individual, while brain events appear to serve as a kind of substrate upon which mental events operate. With mental events, I am able to exercise self-awareness, I’m able to contemplate not only that I exist, that I am experiencing the present moment, that I am able to contemplate possible future events and can bring about (from brain events) memories (replays of mental events).
Though there is some evidence that our brain events precede mental ones, it would be ill advised to conclude a lack of free will. If it is true brain events originate first, I would argue our subconscious drive initiates our volition, that the process, though it does originate within us and is independent of another, operates from very deep within our “soul” (the inner being that is constituted by the bundle of memories, emotions, traits that seem integrally connected to our persistent conscious state), that our current scientific measurements cannot yet observe.
Mental events can be likened to a car, or a series of cars, and brain events to the highways on which the cars move about. More aptly, the car that moves is more accurately a three-dimensional hologram projected onto the street (neural pathways) by the traffic system.
Even though Clark Kent and Superman are identical, one might say that in a certain way, they have different properties. For example, Clark Kent wears glasses, but Superman does not. Is it possible to make sense of mental events and brain events being numerically identical, yet having different properties, in the same way?
The example given of Superman and Clark Kent is a ficticious one. It is not an accurate statement of fact to say Clark wears glasses but Superman does not. In reality, Superman does were glasses, in those moments that he’s pretending to be Clark Kent. Clark isn’t actually a real, authentic individual. If you were to ask who is Clark Kent, really, you would have to answer: he is Superman.
In the same sense, from the materialist point of view, the brain event may not produce the mind event. In fact, the brain event is to the mind event as Superman is to Clark Kent. There is really no mind event at all, but only brain events. They are not distinct. They are simply only brain events.
If we apply this to the biblical world-view and a Christian metaphysic, and a brain event is, indeed, a mental event, there is a problem. The issue arises when we remove the brain (which is a physical thing), and, yet, we still see evidence of mental events. The best example of this is the Rich Man and Lazarus. When they both die, their bodies are buried and decay and turn into inert matter. But, we see the angels carrying Lazarus to Abraham and we assume the Rich Man was carried by the angels to Hades.
We clearly see the Rich Man experiencing multiple mental events. He is conscious (able to look up and see). He is aware of his situation and is concerned for his family members who are still alive (has memories and individual identity). He can feel some sort of sensation (despite not having a body), for the Rich Man begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his aid, since he is “tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).
In fact, the Rich Man and Abraham are able to carry on a conversation despite both being in celestial form (without physical bodies) and even over a supernaturally great distance.
If, indeed, there is validity to Jesus’ claims of Messiahship (if he is truly the Christ), then everything he said would be completely accurate. If so, it stands to reason brain events are not in any way required for mental events.
Several options are that, maybe brain events are required when residing in the body. Maybe brain events are only required when living, but once you are no longer living, you no longer need to interact with the living world and, thus, have no need to communicate with that state of existence.
Abraham was already long dead by the time the Rich Man begged him for help.
We know, though, that living is not necessarily limited to mortal living. Angelic beings are not mortal, nor do they reside here on earth natively. Yet, they obviously experience consciousness, mental events, and I can only assume they experience brain events when they are in physical form (if, indeed, they move in and out of physical form when they move between this plane of existence and the heavenly one). It is possible that angels have their own bodies and it is unique to them, as there are “celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies” (1 Corinthians 15:40). When we are transformed at the resurrection, we will put on that which makes us celestial, immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53). It is quite possible the celestial body does not have or require brain events in order to have mental events.
This leads to another question. Why do we assume our brain events are required at all for mental events? It is possible, when on earth, inhabiting our physical (and fallen) bodies, that our brain events simply mirror our mental events. The mental events are the real drivers, the real originators, since all things that make up the personhood of a particular individual seem to reside and persist in the bundled collection that is the soul. It is possible, for a ψυχήν ζώσαν “living soul” to exist and interact with and embody a physical form on this plane of reality, it’s mental events need a translator by which our thoughts and volition is evidenced into this matrix.
There are, actually, a whole host of options and potentialities that most will simply never bother to consider, all because they have been convinced by the secular religion of our day that God does not exist.
Is Artificial Intelligence Minded?
Sometimes people ascribe personal characteristics and mental attributes erroneously to material objects, called the anthropomorphic bias. If androids behave like a human mind, are they alive or are you showing anthropomorphic bias? Is IBM’s Watson, the Jeapardy-playing computer, minded or are we showing anthropomorphic bias? At what point and at what level of complexity or behavior should we conclude a computer is minded?
This, of course, depends entirely upon the mechanisms we presume initiate these characteristics. The fact is, we don’t really know what initiates the human characteristics that we point to that illustrates mindedness in us. What is it, exactly, that leads us to believe we are conscious, minded individuals? How do we know with any certainty that it is not a single consciousness that has dreamed up all other conscious people?
We are, as individuals, spontaneous, often unpredictable (and likewise predictable), we are varied, and we exercise a certain level of autonomy and individuality which all together tend to represent our mindedness.
We likewise develop relatively early in life a distinct and individualistic personality, and this personality persists throughout our lives. We grow, we broaden, we change both physical and emotionally, but it generally is the same us that we identify through that particular span of life as the same individual. The same could be said for a particular mechanical device. Parts can be swapped in and out, but there is a point at which (if only intuitively) that the device ceases to be the specific, individual device and becomes a new or different device.
If a device, a robot, a computer system exhibits characteristics we identify as mindedness, there are a few questions that need to be ascertained. One, was the system programmed to exhibit said characteristic? If it is part of the program to mimic this characteristic, then it does not lend to the claim of consciousness or mindedness. If the system was designed to pick up trash a certain way, but then instead chooses to do it another way because the other way is faster or quicker or more expedient so that the system accomplishes not only its programmed goals, but its ad hoc desires as well, then there is an argument for mindedness.
But, can we say with any certainty that humans are not just very complex systems that operate as they were programmed? This question, if followed to its logical conclusion, would most likely lead to removing mindedness from humanity and render us simply as complex systems. Fleshy androids. There is even evidence that the myriad of choices we make really are not driven by our own volition, but by chemical interactions that trigger our volitional choices. So, free will does not reside in our volition, but in the chemical mechanisms underlining that volitional seat. If this be true, there is no such thing as free will or mindedness in humans, but simply complex programming operating as it should within the chassis we call the human body and the human brain.
The same question, of course, should be asked of animals. How minded are they? Is the domesticated dog really, truly, man’s best friend? Does your dog really express love and affection toward you, individually, willfully, expressively, purposefully, and willingly?
There are a multitude of traits and characteristics domesticated dogs express toward their owners that wild dogs express toward the individuals in their own packs. They are driven by instinct. But, then again, how much do we really know of domesticated dogs? We have no idea really what they’re thinking. We don’t know what their opinion is of us, if they consider things, if they have the mental capacity to self-reflect. It would be a tragedy if they could, as they are so limited and helpless without thumbs. They cannot manipulate things and cannot overcome their surroundings. Dogs, it appears, both tame and wild, appear to be build for a much different purpose than human beings. All of the animal world seems to be missing a fundamental component toward expression and mindedness and conscious self-reflection. Is it simply peoples’ time at the moment in geologic history? Will there be a time in the future of existence when humans will shuffle aside to make room for another species that is up to the proverbial bat? Like the dinosaurs did for humans?
Do animals possess the brain capacity of memory? Do they recall memories like humans do? Do they have active fantasy lives like, well, like I do? I live a great deal of my life in my own head. Thinking about, considering, contemplating the lives and the events of completely imaginary people and places who do imaginary things and live imaginary lives.
What of their mindedness?
They are just as real as anyone else, just as important (I would say, to me, more important) than most everyone else who exists on the earth. I think of these people often. I manifest in my own mind what they say, what they do, who they are, how they change as people, who they become.
Do they exist?
How do we know, if our reality is based on a matrix like virtual reality, we are not living out our lives within the mind of God? What if the earth, our physical forms, our minds, our galaxy, our universe, does not reside within a God’s mind? That there is yet another, separate, distinct reality outside of that mind, where that mind exists, that is as utterly foreign to our reality as my character’s reality is to ours?
Do my characters exist distinct from my conscious thought of them? If I have Dawn McKensie move to a small town with her boyfriend, when I stop typing this on my keyboard and turn to watch a television show, does Dawn McKensie, at least for that hour I’m not actively typing, cease to exist? She is not being observed. She is not being “created” during that hour. Does she freeze where I left her off, getting into Paul’s truck, excited and terrified about leaving her home town, the only place she’s ever lived? Is she caught, the moment I minimize my word processor, in some kind of suspended animation, where she neither exists nor does not exist, but simply could be both and neither simultaneously?
At the moment that I return to the word processor and begin thinking of what she will do next, does her life begin again, at the moment where I last left off, and she has no cognition of the hour that passed while I (her God) was away, watching a television show? Did she know existence ceased for her during that time? Did it cease? Or, did her existence continue and the gaps in her story, in her life, that I do not bother with as I enjoy her story, was filled in by my subconscious and to her she lived out a full life reminiscent of mine with all its monotony?
Are they minded? Is their mindedness as real as mine? As yours? As my God’s? What of God’s creator?
Mindedness and consciousness, are these two descriptors of the same concept? Mindedness is the act of having mind, having conscious determination, to be of a conscious state of existence. When I fall asleep, I am no longer conscious. I, in essence, to my conscious identity, no longer exist. Time for my conscious, minded self ceases to be, and from the moment I fall asleep, the next moment I awake. Hours, of course, have passed. Typically eight hours. Sometimes four. Sometimes six. But I have not actually experienced those missing hours. I have not filled those missing hours with conscious activities, with minded thoughts, or with volitional actions. I have, instead, filled those hours (not I but my body) with involuntary actions (breathing, physical repair, growth, REM sleep activity or dreaming).
Now, if I can take control of my dreams through lucid dreaming, then I have theoretically taken back those hours from my subconscious and remain a conscious being throughout.
Do I cease to be minded if I sleep? Yes. I am no longer minded as in conscious. But I remain minded if I am dreaming (whether lucid or not). If not dreaming, then I am no longer minded during those times.
Animals present evidence of dreaming. They exhibit the same kinds of physical movements that humans do during a dreaming state. Does this mean animals are minded because they dream? It certainly lends credibility to the argument. Or, do we reserve mindedness to self-aware states?
If a computer is never self-aware then it does not possess a mind. I know my name. I know where I was born and who I was born to. I know the collection of memories that I have that consider of what we call my childhood. Certainly, these are just glimpses, snapshots of my childhood. They do not contain the gross collection of all childhood events. Just important highlights.
There is a biblical argument that there is somewhere in existence a collection of everything we’ve ever done in the span of our lives. These collections will be used for or against us in the judgment to come. They are written on many books.
What if our minds do not reside in our brains, but reside in the books, and our brains are simply a receiving device that reads from those books (memories) and writes onto the books everything we do?
The essence of what mindedness actually is is rather hazy and may actually be a complete and utter mystery. If a biological manifestation (arising from the brain, and effect of the brain) then it is quite possible mindedness (thinking, considering, problem solving, being self-aware) might manifest in animals and could possibly manifest in computers or mechanical/technological systems such as AI or GAI. If mindedness originates not from the brain as a physical, biological effect, but rather arises from the bundle of characteristics we call the soul (personality, memories, consciousness, identity), then it would only be possible for mindedness to arise in animals or technological systems IF they are able to derive a soul (bundled collection).
Extending this further, if mindedness arises from the soul rather than the brain, then it is quite possible the cloning of a human will not produce a separate or functioning human copy with a distinct (or identical) personality because the soul would be absent from the copy. Since animals have successfully been cloned, it is fair to argue animals do not have souls, if, indeed, souls are required for mindedness. But, if there is no actual mindedness in animals (being self-aware), then they can be cloned at will, producing exact copies of other animals without issue, since they do not have souls (if, indeed, they do not).
If what we call here souls are required, it would be difficult (if not impossible) to create a minded, non human entity.
In the movie A.I. all humanity went extinct and only their androids survived. If androids like these came to our planet and found us, would they say we were minded or too primitive? Do we have carbon biases?
There is no way to really know what the AI’s would conclude about us if they arrived here from a distant planet. We would have no knowledge of their history, of the history and demise of the human culture that created them, and no understanding of the culture they’d built up over the generations since they were first created and since their creators went extinct.
It is hard to imagine the original AI that was created by these alien humans would create their descendant without any information or history concerning their “founding human fathers.” Because of this, I can’t imagine a scenario where they would exclude any idea of humans being minded. Unless, of course, our race of humans was different in one or more ways than the alien humans.
I wouldn’t say we as a race or species (better, a biblical kind) have a non-carbon bias. We have a non-human bias. We appear to relate everything to ourselves. We talk. We have language. We communicate with each other. We build societies, cities, and manipulate the physical world with our advancing technologies. If another species does not do this (we have no evidence of any other kind of creation doing this) then we would most likely assume they are incapable of complex thought, of consciousness, of mindedness (rightly or wrongly).
This bias is not carbon based but is based on similarity to ourselves.
We consider the life of a slug to not only be without a mind, but to be rather insignificant. Spider, the same. Even the wild cat lurking and living silently in the woods. Their lives are not viewed as important as a human life, though these creatures have been existing, living, having offspring, dying long before humans (if we are to accept evolutionary time – biblical time they did not exist for long before Adam was created, or possibly were created afterward).
Is the Chinese room thought experiment the same as a thinking Chinese person? Does time matter in mentation?
With all other things being equal, the Chinese room is exactly the same as a Chinese person. The only difference between the two would be the time it takes the Chinese room to process through the thoughts.
If we were to include time as a requisite to mindedness, then we could not consider developmentally disabled people as actual people. The same could be said of a child who takes at least twice as long to mentate.
Only the Physical Produces Consciousness
Would it really be possible to eliminate folk psychology from our vocabulary? Neuroscientists might be able to only talk in terms of brain events, but could the general public?
This is an interesting question. I would ask where the concept of mind came from in the first place. Has it always been considered separate from the brain? When did they first discover there were mirror-like (or originating) brain events for every mind event? Before they discovered this reality, what did people think the purpose was of the brain? Surely a human’s head had been cracked open before they could use brain scans to look inside. It would be interesting to read a history of the brain.
I think another question to ask could be: would it be beneficial to cease referring to the mind and only refer to the brain? What evidence do we have for the mind in the first place? Maybe it is time to abandon concepts like the mind or the soul or the spirit, and develop a body-centric thesis for life.
The only problem with this, of course, is the biblical claim for the existence of these components. Jesus clearly states there is a body, there is a mind, there is a soul, there is a spirit. When we die, the body decomposes (is technically destroyed, or at least disassembled), the spirit returns to God (which we could conclude is the life force of the living person), the soul (where the mind apparently resides within) is carried away by angels to the hades and enters the intermediate state between death and afterlife.
There is said to be one day in the future a resurrection of the good and evil. The living and the dead will be transformed from mortal beings and will put on immortality. Whatever exactly this transformation is exactly, it is unclear. But, we each will at that point cease from being able to die ever again.
The soul (with the mind) will be reunited with the body. This could be the original atoms that made our body or it could just be the DNA sequence that makes up our physical bodies will be used to duplicate our body utilizing the atomic material available at that time (our original atomic material might be occupied representing something else when we are resurrected).
After the resurrection, all will be judged for what they’ve done, good or bad. That which is good we will keep as treasure. That which is bad or futile, will burn up in the judgment. If we have accepted the work of Christ on the cross, our names will be written in the book of life and we will enter into eternity and will be with God and Christ forever. If our names are not found in the book of life, we will somehow, cryptically, fantastically, terrifyingly be locked out of creation, out of the universe, out of reality, where God will no longer look upon us ever again. I venture those who are banished into non-existence will spend eternity existing while simultaneously being constantly pulled apart at the atomic level. It will be impossible to continue their existence while at the same time, impossible to actually die or cease to exist.
I personally believe it would be in error to abandon the concepts of the soul or the mind or the spirit simply because they are recorded by Christ as having existed. If, upon our death, we cross over and discover Christ was never actually resurrected, never died for our sins, and that we are still dead, then at that time we are able to stop believing in what Christ said. Until then, it is foolish to abandon what he’s said.
Is it possible all material in the universe has mental properties to some degree? Quantum mechanics shows us some behavior at the level of very small particles is random and unpredictable. Does the idea that such particles are conscious to some degree help account for this?
No. I find no plausibility in this hypothesis. It was an idea forwarded in the Metaphysics and Mystery course I took awhile back. The idea that all of nature, everything in the physical world is conscious and that you could sense that consciousness tangibly is preposterous. I believe the instructor’s words were, “I like to go out in the forest and sit by one of those giant rocks and just sense the silence the rock is emanating out toward us,” believing the rock was conscious and alive, as everything else was in the universe.
The behavior of the quantum level does not indicate it is conscious. It only indicates it is not physical as we assumed. Or, at least, the physical world does not exist at the quantum level. It is not that the physical world does not exist, it does. But, it may only exist because it is being observed. The woods I live in persist right now, this moment, because I am observing them. But, those same woods still persist when I leave because I’m not the only living entity observing the woods.
There are other animals here, there are insects, and there is an argument to be made that the real reason the external, objective, physical world does not collapse in on itself (including us) is that Jesus is holding everything up by watching it constantly, “He is before all things, and in him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17).
How problematic is it to abandon the idea mental events cause human behavior? Could it really be that mental events and human behavior simply have a common cause: brain events?
If we are looking at human behavior from an evolutionary hypothesis, there is no hindrance. This path of thinking has eradicated the existence of God, his message, and his inspired word, concluding it is unreliable and a fabrication of earthly man. It would serve the evolutionary agenda quite well to abandon the ideas of both mind and soul and spirit, and leave us with a single biological explanation for all human trait, characteristic and behavior.
Human behavior, from the evolutionary standpoint, is all derived from the physical, brain function. They want to deny the presuppositions in the bible: the spiritual realm, the impermanence of death, the reality of the coming resurrection of all who have ever lived.
If it is indeed true that there is no actual resurrection, Christ did not die and effectively paid for our sins as a sinless sacrifice, if, like him, we will also be dead in our graves and will remain so for eternity, then there is no good reason not to abandon the mind and the causal link between the mind, the individual and our behaviors.
But, if there is a savior, if there is a sacrifice that has made the way for our redemption, and that will come at our resurrection of our physical bodies as they are united with our soul and our consciousness (which resides in our soul), then there is grave consequences for abandoning what Christ took as fact.
Would abandoning the existence of the soul or the mind or the spirit (or their connection to our behaviors) strip us of salvation? I think not. But, God be the judge and every man a liar (Romans 3:4). How do you know your abandonment of the existence of your soul and mind and spirit won’t lead you to an abandonment of your belief in Christ’s saving grace? If you have accepted Christ as your savior, but then “fall away, [it is impossible] to renew them again” (Hebrews 6:6).
Does this mean you can lose your salvation? (shrug). I have no clue. It certainly sounds like it. But, you might argue, what of Romans 8:38-39? Yes, indeed. What could separate us from the love of God? But, if we once loved God and then abandoned him, is there any longer love on God’s behalf?
Are you willing to risk the chance by abandoning what Christ has said was true?
The Argument of Identity
How intellectually satisfying is the argument that the soul just somehow gets us into the afterlife (though we don’t know how)?
This is one of the main reasons for my uThM program as I’ve designed it, focusing on some of the questions I’ve had for a very long time that religion seems content to leave as unanswerable.
This is not acceptable.
Don’t tell me that when I die my soul I going to go to heaven or hell when there is no evidence for a soul in the first place. There is, of course, an argument to be made that God (specifically Christ) made reference to the soul several times in the bible, indicating it’s existence. We can argue that the soul will transfer through death, since death has no ability to destroy the soul, only the physical body (Matthew 10:28).
The argument here rests entirely upon the reliability and divine inspiration of the bible. If there is no supernatural inspiration, if the bible was indeed written by a ad hoc collection of off kiltered individuals who were either making stuff up as they went along, or were certifiable (or both), then the answer “God just makes it happen somehow” is horribly insufficient.
But, even if there is validity to the argument, the answer “it just is” provide little but base comfort. It provides at best a thin covering over a shallow and hastily dug grave. Those questions still remain, and may remain unexplored until death comes knocking.
Rigorous examination is required, despite the possible necessity that we will, in the end, have to exhort to relying still on faith.
I, for one, would very much be interested in the origin of the soul as a concept. Did Jesus have preferential knowledge, being the Son of God, the Creator of all things? Or, (and if just a man), was there a belief doctrine of the Jews that Jesus would have known? If the latter, where did that tradition come from? What is the original source of the soul concept and how did they come up with such an idea?
If someone swapped your brains and you could give one of those people a million dollars. Who would you give it to, your body (with the other brain) or the other body (with your brain)?
As I understand the concept of the brain, it is a receptor of the soul. It mirrors what occur in the soul, where the mind resides (since the soul exists without the body tether and the personality (which is constituted within consciousness) persists beyond death (as illustrated in Luke 16:19ff). Therefore, if my brain was taken from my body and successfully transplanted into a different body, then my brain should, at least theoretically, maintain the communication with the soul/consciousness, wherever it happens to resides geographically.
It is unclear if the soul somehow reside in proximity to the body while there is a brain connection. There certainly is no proximity when experiencing the intermediate state. But, if my brain was transplanted to another body, at least the connection should remain.
If a foreign brain was then transplanted into my body, and I was given the choice, I would certainly grant the foreign body (where my brain resided) the million dollars. I would do this because 1. I (my personality and soul) now has control over the foreign body. 2. I can now experience the benefits of having the million dollars in the foreign body.
There is one caveat. Would I remain in the foreign body indefinitely? If so, there would be nothing else to do. If not, and it was scheduled to switch me back in a week, I would then need to make some adjustments, so that the money transferred to the new body upon the second brain swap.
If there was no avenue by which the money could be transferred once the brain swap was reversed, then it would stand to reason that I would grant the money to the strange brain in my original body, so that I would have the money after the brain swap redux.
What elements of your psychology are most important for your survival? Are there parts of your psychology you could lose and still be you? How much could you lose at once and still be you?
I do believe the question refers to personality and consciousness when it uses the term “psychology.” So, I will answer for identity, meaning the conscious personality, the who I am identification, the bundle of memories, emotions, opinions, aspirations and particular identity that is me.
I am, the soul, a collection of religious beliefs, of behaviors (such as hobbies, projects, what I do to pass the time, including work for money), my interactions with other people, my inner dialog (interactions with myself), and my memories (to include my regrets) and my memories also include my hopes, dreams and goals, which are simply possible memories of the future, or what my mind has conjured up (still in my mind) of what kind of memories I would like to have in the future.
This is the me of my identity. It is the sum total of what I am. Of these, what parts are most important for survival? I could, technically, survive (if survival means to continue to live) without religious beliefs, without memories. I would argue that I do not need dialog with other peoples to survive.
Now, for what I would need to keep of my identity to survive. I would say my inner dialog would be requisite, simply because it is nearly impossible to turn it off. As a former Zen Buddhist, I realize this is the goal of Buddhist teaching and practice, to quiet the inner voice, to detach from worldly possessions and all inner desire, that one might reach nirvana. So, in this sense, if nirvana is even indeed possible to be realized and is not inherently a demonic delusion, then it might be considered possible to survive without the inner dialog. But, it would not be possible without concerted and long term effort.
My behaviors may not be necessary for my survival in the most literal sense, but there will, as a human, be required some form of behaviors (procuring food, shelter, water) and keeping my mind occupied so that I do not lose my sanity.
Beliefs about me, which are really more memory than anything. I was given a particular name at birth. I had no say in this. I had no say in being born. I am attached to this name out of context (family I was raised by) and memory. If I had no memory reservoir, then I would not have any attachment to the name I was given. But, I would still survive. A personal proper noun is not requisite to continue to live. People with genuine amnesia (if there are truly such cases) go on living day to day, but have no recollection or personal attachment to who they were before their amnesia. They could have no associated memories connecting them to family members, spouses, children, or places or things. But, if they forget how to eat, drink, breathe, then it is literally possible for them to lose their life without intervention.
So, to answer the question definitively, I could lose nearly all of my identity (psychology) and still survive physically. But, there is the question of whether I as the individual actually survived after the moment of losing all that makes up my identity. If I don’t remember who I am, have no memory or context memories of who I am, then it is possible that the identity that I previously had ceased to exist, even though my physical body and my mind continued on afterward.
Who would my body be after the moment that I lost all memory of who I was? It will become a new identity, with a new psychology that it would begin to develop from that moment going forward. New name. New place to live. New friends. It’s possible I could go on living with no recollection of who my family members or parents were. Many orphans are given up for adoption when they are newborn babies and go through life never knowing who their biological parents actually were.
So, it is possible to literally lose all of my psychology and still survive physically. But, I would not survive psychologically. That person who I was before would be dead.
Then again, where exactly has the loss of memory occurred? If memory resides in the soul and not in the brain, then the soul, the individual still survives, but the potion of their soul that contains their memories has been erased. But, are our memories actually stored in the soul or in the brain? That is an interesting question.
The Question of Material Survival Theory
Would you use transporters if they are ever invented? If disassembled and reassembled in use, would you feel like yourself afterward? Or would you cease to exist?
My use of a transporter would be based entirely upon the results of previous use. I would certainly never be the first person to try a transporter. But, if 100 people used a new transporter and they came out the other side as the same people, with the same memories, and physically safe, then I would consider the benefits of such a machine. I would, of course, wait until 1000 people used it before I tried it myself. Then again, I’m not really certain how many people would try it before me before I felt comfortable to use it myself.
Even if we were destroyed physically and reassembled afterward, this would not really matter if 1. There was no pain in the process 2. You were identical after you were reassembled. If 1 & 2 could be met, destruction would be relative and basically non material.
Nozick’s closest continuer view suggest survival of a person can be dependent on their being a closer continuer and there is always a Yes or No answer. Should we require a Yes or No for the survival of organizations? How would this affect the viability of Nozick’s theory?
An organization is not a living entity. It is not the same, substantially, as a living soul (the collection of all that makes me the individual I am). Organizations are created by humans for human purposes. It is not the same as giving birth to a child. Yes, there is human volition involved in the conception of a child and the bringing the child to delivery, and the health of the child, but the two parents and particularly the mother does not create life as is the misinformed slogan might claim. They are participants in the creation of life, but the mechanism that actually does the creating is unknown, not at all understood, and may forever remain a mystery. As Paul concludes, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
In this respect, the life of an organization is euphemistic. It is not literal. An organization does not live. It is not alive and has not the breath of life. It has not a soul. It has not a fleshly body. It has no lifeblood. Thus, it has no bearing on Nozick’s theory.
How important is it to you that there is an afterlife? If it is truly eternal, won’t you eventually get bored? Wouldn’t utopia become hell?
At this point, I am okay with whatever comes. If, when I die, I simply cease to exist, this is preferred to what I have experienced thus far in this horrible, pitiful excuse of a society I live in. Humans are liars, deceitful, double-tongued, and incredulous, as God put it, “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
As far as I can tell, this has never changed. I maintain no friendships. I have relinquished most family relationships. People cannot be trusted in their speech or their actions.
In the last 10 years of my life, I’ve been happier and less stressed by social and interpersonal drama because of my choices above. People claim this is an error, that it is incorrect and unhealthy to cut ties with people and social engagement. But, I attribute this to human addiction to suffering and social drama. I’m not certain why people tend to be hung up on this. I’m not certain I understand why people seek out misery for themselves and others.
I do not.
I am not interested in it at all.
Society is a demon. Social construct is evil. That which is passed off as benevolence is actually malignant and malevolent.
I no longer care for life or living, except I am stuck here to live it out until I’m called forward into the unknown, the intermediate state, or the final state of non-existence. If I cease to exist at death, it means nothing. My life has had no meaning. There was no larger purpose or import to it. We are simply a cosmic accident and no value can be assessed for or against life or my life or any life, for there is no meaning or significance to anything.
If, instead, I die and find myself in an eternal utopia, the question remains, won’t I get bored? Won’t utopia become a hell?
This is a misunderstanding and misapplication of the Christian (or more aptly, the biblical) definition of afterlife.
First, we don’t really know all there is to know about eternity. We have glimpses. But, the question presupposed a misunderstanding. It superimposes onto eternity the limitations of mortality. Human experience will do us little good in seeing eternity for what it is.
If the biblical account is correct, eternity will not be much like life on earth. First, there will be no ocean. No sun. No moon. That means no seasons. Possibly perpetual growing. We don’t know if food will naturally grow and we just take it as needed or if there will be cavalries of farmers to bring in the fruit of the fields. Likewise, as depicted in Jesus’ post-resurrection abilities, our post-resurrection bodies will be capable of much, much more than our mortal bodies are capable of. We will be able to come and go with apparently no limitation from the physical laws of nature. There will be no sorrow, no tears, no sin, no death, no loss.
In addition, consider how long it takes, traveling at the speed of light, to cross the Milky Way Galaxy (I believe at least 100 thousand years?) This is but one singular galaxy in the entire known universe. I said here “known” because it is possible there is even more to the unknown universe (and even likely an endless number of other universes) in which we will be able to explore and record and cause trouble in.
If we, once saved and resurrected, become like the Angels, and are, as they, Sons of God, then it stands to reason they (the Angels) had a not so different origin than ours. If this is the case, and after our story is complete, we will join the ranks of the heavenly hosts (we do not become angels since angels are from a different story, but we become like them) and we possibly may venture with Christ to a different galaxy and watch the intervention of yet another race of living beings. We might, as the Angels were, witness the very creation of a new planet and a new object of God’s obsession.
I would argue it will be impossible to become bored at the sheer plausibility of what is to come, if, indeed, we survive after death, and there is an afterlife.
I will certainly be glad, either way, to be off this rock and to be done with this stubborn and stiff necked people on planet earth. I wish I had never been born, but hold out hope that the afterlife to come will make this present suffering worth it (not that I suffer much at all in this life currently, but by sheer existence there is suffering).
The Existence of Persons
How important or essential is it to believe persons exist? If we came to believe persons don’t exist how would society change?
Whether we believe persons (meaning individual identity) exists has no baring on what society does. Society does not care what we might individually believe. Even if a large segment of the population changed their mind and believed identity doesn’t exist (which is what has happened with evolution), people would still go about their lives as if identity did exist, simply because we are hard wired to act in certain ways.
Identity was not created in abstract. It is not a philosophical argument (or was derived from one). Rather, individuality arose out of self-awareness. How we became self-aware is unknown (unless it first began with the first man, Adam, who was a fully formed self-aware adult man). It is possible, at some point, that we might sacrifice our individual identity for a collective identity (the borg). This would remove decent from the roster altogether. It would allow the powers that be the ability to root out insubordination or ill aligned thinking immediately. It would not matter, in our borg example, if we believed in individual identities or not. It would stand that the collective takes precedent over the individual, regardless of how the individual might feel about it.
The same can be true of the after life. It matters nothing at all what our personal belief might be about the existence of the after life or what the after life will entail. It simply is what it is, as it is, and our beliefs have no bearing on its materialization or perpetuation. Just because one is an atheist, does not negate the existence of paradise. Just because one professes a faith in Christ, in no way automatically qualifies him to a seat at the table. A baptist could be devout, and soul-winning, but if the true and real God is Allah, the Baptist (and all his Baptist friends) are in serious trouble.
David lewis’s time worm theory suggests persons are like television shows, they exist stretched over time. But do television shows have positive ontological status? Do they really exist the same way people exist, or is it more like the theseus’s ship? How might your answer affect your conclusions about the answer to a person if they exist or not?
I certainly don’t think people are like Theseus’ ship. Even people are not replaced biologically throughout their life, despite the myth. Some parts of us are replaced by newly refreshed material. But our nerves are not. Our heart muscle is not. Our brain material is not. There are, apparently, core pieces of us that remain with us throughout our lives.
Are people like television series? More important to ask, I think, are television series characters truly alive like we think we are?
The answer for both questions depends entirely upon perspective. For us, we are not like tv show characters because I can see nearly every part of my life (except for while I’m sleeping). This is unlike tv. But, it is quite possible, that God sees us like a television show in his mind, that we exist only in his mind, that our objective, external reality is nothing more than the matrix of God’s mind, with us being played out in it, based on the scenes he desires to see. The rest is filled in by Gods’ subconscious mind for back story and continuity.
Do people exist? I think yes. I reject the idea that we are all part of the central consciousness as described by far eastern religious thought or new age thought in the west. I think I am myself, the person I’ve become, the person I’m still becoming. If events and choices had been different in my life, I would be a different person today. It might only be slightly different, and, if compared, you might say I now and I then would be the same person with only slight variation. But, give enough differences and I become an entirely different person.
My consciousness is unique and individual and specific to my body and the mind, my thoughts, my beliefs, my emotions, my memories, my goals and aspirations are all bundled together into what is known as the soul, the personality, the identity. This is what Christ claims survives after death. The spirit, which brought about the living spark to mortal life, returns to the Father, the physical body returns to the ground, breaks down, and the soul (that which makes me who I am) is carried away into the intermediate state, to suffer until resurrection or to wait in the company of other saints until the resurrection.
I will forever be who I am, regardless of my eternal destination.
Knowledge is classically defined by philosophers as justified true belief. Foreknowledge is knowing the future before it happens. As we’ve seen, divine foreknowledge is incompatible with free will. However, given the arguments, is human foreknowledge incompatible with free will as well?
In no way is foreknowledge incompatible with free will. Critics who make this argument simply do not understand free will or are working within a specific and narrow perspective that limits their capacity to exercise both.
Free will is the ability to exercise independent volition by a sentient being either upon itself or upon the external world around it (whether that be in the physical world, the spiritual world, etc). God’s foreknowledge of our choices during our life has no bearing on our ability to make those choices. He might even intervene, and guide us in a particular direction. It still allows us the choice and we still make those decisions of our own will to do so. Pharaoh is a good example. Though he chose against God by attacking the Jews again and again, he was exercising what was preordained by God. God hardened his heart. God not only knew beforehand what Pharaoh would do, he orchestrated it. But, Pharaoh was still responsible for his actions. He still had free will to do it or to not do it. God simply knew he would do it.
It is the same for us. God has predestined the works we are to do in this life. But, despite those works being predestined, and despite the fact that God wants us to walk in those works, we still have the free will to walk in them or not. If we walk in them, we are choosing to do so. If we decide to rebel (Jonah) and not walk in them, it is our will that leads us to that decision.
It was my free will that led me to become a Buddhist in high school. It was a choice I made. I planned at first (before I was a Buddhist) to join the military when I graduated high school. But, after a few years of Buddhist practice, I started to second guess my military service and thought maybe I should join a Buddhist monastery instead. Shortly before my graduation, God intervened and literally took Buddhism away from me. It was my choice to be a Buddhist. It was also my choice to become a Christian. But it was God’s decision to intervene and show me the truth about Buddhism, most likely before I went down a road I would never recover from. It is quite possible I would have ended up finding a monastery somewhere and becoming a disciple and spending the rest of my life lost, and hopeless, yet remaining ignorant of my depravity. By God revealing to me (through the Word) of the fallacy of Buddhism, I was able to then make a choice that changed my life, possibly my eternity. I may never have made that decision if God had not interceded. But I was able to all along.
Time Traveling Books
Suppose you found a book, a collection of all the true propositions about your life arranged in chronological order. Would you read it? Would you skip parts? Would you read the end? Why or why not?
Yes, I would read it. I would read it with great excitement and enthusiasm. Mostly because I would want to know. I want to know. I want to know what the rest of my life will amount to. I want to know how I will eventually die? Will it be from medical conditions? From treefall? In a Civil War? Murder? Will I be killed by a cougar while hiking in the woods? I want to know if, at some point during my life, Christ returns to the earth. I would not skip any parts of the book, but I would carefully, systmatically, read through every page from beginning to end.
Not only am I curious how everything in my life (and the world) will shake out, but I’ve always thought there has to be something more than this. It is the running theme in my life. During my childhood the feeling, conviction, conclusion drove me to Buddhism. To search for spiritual answers to the questions I was asking. If this is all there is, I don’t want to play this game anymore. I want a refund. If this is all there is, I’m offended I wasn’t asked beforehand if I even want to be involved. Because, if this all, it is definitely not worth the suffering required.
But, in addition to reading this found book outlining my life, I would also like to find a book that contains the works God prepared beforehand for me to walk in. I would like to be able to compare that which God predestined for my life and that which I did on my own, where I went wrong, where I messed up, and also what I might have occassionally got right.
More than anything, I would hope the finding of these two books would be at the end of everything, the end of this fallen world, the end of all these fallen peoples, because, quite frankly, I’m sick of this world and those in it. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to endure this anymore (not that I truly have anything to endure). But, the monotony, the bitter nature, the incessantly deplorable and corrupt behavior and personalities of those in power, I’m done with it all.
Does human free will really require the ability to choose to not act as you act? Can you think of a situation where someone could act freely yet where not choosing to act is not possible?
No. We always have a choice to choose not to. The only example I can think of that is close is breathing, or my heart beating. In theory, these are involuntary. I cannot stop them. But, in reality, I can. Suicide would stop either (actually, both). If I were imprisoned and the guards told me to go into my cell, I choose if I go into my cell or not. If I do not, I could get beaten by the guards or thrown into solitary, but it is still my choice.
I can stay on earth or I can choose to go to outer space? Actually, this is really not likely. I could spend the rest of my life trying to get into outerspace, but I might not have the option of going. There may be no possibility of the option, so staying on earth is something I can do of my own free will, yet, I might not have the option of leaving the earth. I can take a plane with much greater propability, but that plane will soon land back on earth, and there is an argument I never left the earth, just left the ground. There is a chance, though quite slim, I could convince Elon Musk to let me take the first rocket to the ISS and, thus, I could choose to not stay on the earth. So, then, the free will to stay on the earth is at least theoretically based on my ability to choose to not stay on the earth.
When God predestines me to walk in a work, I can choose whether or not I will actually walk in that work, whether I will do what that work requires and bring about the predestination. There are instances in the bible where God changes his mind. Ninivah was destined to be destroyed, but, because they repented, he spared them for many years. This is why Jonah did not want to preach to them. He wanted them to be destroyed and he knew if they repented from his preaching God would spare them. God had predestined them to be destroyed, but they chose not to be destroyed by repenting from their sin.
God could have predestined me to be a pastor of a church in West Virginia and married a woman name Sally after I got out of the military (I had talked extensively with the re-enlistment officer about joining the National Guard in WV after I left active duty). Instead of doing this, I returned back to my home state instead. Which decision was predestined? Did God predestined both paths for me? This one has been pretty uneventful and rather unfulfilling, to the point that now my military service seems to have been worthless and a waste of time and youth. My marriage failed after five years. I am heading, oddly enough though, toward my childhood dream of living as a hermit on the lake. The only difference is the 20 years of military service. Maybe the predestination from God was not a bride and pastorate in WV, but it was always the hermitage on the lake. Maybe if I would have stayed in the military for 20 years, I would have been killed in Iraq or Afganistan. Or, maybe I was supposed to go and survive? There were an endless number of choices and paths I could have taken. Which one was right or wrong? It is utterly unclear. I could have married the girl in Germany who’d asked me, “Why did you stop coming around?” Would we have gone back to her home town in Mississippi and gotten married and lived happily ever after? There is no telling which choice would have been better or best or which one God had chosen for me.
There has always been a draw for me back to the woods, back to nature, back to that particular piece of land where the Eden property is on. Maybe this is God’s predestination, that I live there and die there and am resurrected there. As my coworker said today, I might end up being a happy, 80 year old hermit, living in a ramshackle near the lakeshore. Wouldn’t that be something if I end up having an incredibly fulfilling life as a solitude, self-sequestered in and among nature, living with the passing seasons and waking up one day as an old man, who sits in his chair and gently slips off to sleep of death, never to awake until Christ’s return?
In the movie the Matrix, people keep ending up the same way with every reset. If we rewound our world 100 years, would the same things happen? What if we rewound to the moment of your birth? Would you end up doing exactly as you did before? Living the exact same life? You wouldn’t know anything that you do now, you would start from scratch again. What does your answer reveal about your beliefs regarding free will?
Free will is based entirely upon perspective, as does most anything in existence. From my perspective, I have free will to make choices. But, from God’s perspective, he knows everything I have ever done and everything I will ever do.
The answer to this question is built into the question itself. The fact that I will know nothing different from what I knew the first time I’ve lived my life, the fact that no one will know anything different than what they knew before, this requires that no changes would be made the second time through, from anyone. I will do everything exactly the same, in fact, I have no choice but to make those same decisions because those are the decisions I ultimately made the first time around. It was the results of my thought process, my evaluation of value based on my perspective, my emotional state, etc. If none of these inputs change, the output will be repeated.
Now, if I were able to rewind back to my birth, but I carried with me all the memories up until today, that would possibly change a great deal of things in my life, most likely, though with surprisingly negative consequences.
I would not have preoccupied myself with the opposite sex. Relationships have been nothing but a disappointment for me my entire life. Instead, I would have insisted I quit school or would have protested ever attending school. Of course, given that my parents had no ability to teach me, they would have forced the matter and made me stay. By junior high I would have quit outright. From as early as possible I would have started reading all the important books. Because I could remember what television is like now, I most likely would not be able to stand watching tv, so that would give me more time to study and read.
By the age of 15 I would want to have mastered mathematics, science, religion, writing, reading, and would enroll in college as soon as possible. I would get my AA, then my BA in business, then get my MA in mathematics, and probably a PhD in either mathematics or philosophy, specifically in consciousness, death, and afterlife. Then I would go to seminary and get my theology degree in the theology of death and Christian metaphysics.
By this point I would have already started teaching college courses online and would start living as simply as I can and maximize my savings until I reached the crossover point and could live off of my savings until I was old enough to draw Social Security. I would buy a cabin on the lake (where the Eden property is located) and would live there in solitude for the rest of my life.
It’s interesting that, if I could go back, I would end up nearly exactly where I am today, with only a few slight variances of difference. It makes me wonder how much I am called to be a teacher, or if that was just a way to make money while working from home. I would still like to teach online, but I would have to get a Master’s degree (more like a PhD) and I’m not at all interested in jumping through those kinds of hoops in this day and age.
But, I would still be living at the lake property (where I’m currently living five days out of each week). It’s entirely possible (and is really the primary goal going forward) to make the lake property livable full time, year around.
This tells me I’m actually on the right track with my life, despite the side tracks, blind alleys and major disappointments and regrets (military service, failed marriage).
Free Will and Causation
Suppose all the decisions we make in our life are ultimately the results of the work of unconscious parts of our brains. Can it still be humans who have free will?
If volition originates in the brain then, no, we could not have free will. Decisions are only the result of chemical reaction. But, there is a fundamental problem with assuming this is the case.
If the soul (which would be defined as the collection of all that makes us the individual identity) can survive without the body (a claim made in the bible by Jesus), and we know when someone dies their body is rather quickly broken down to it’s base elements and technically no longer exists, yet the soul survives that death and exists in the intermediate state awaiting the resurrection, then volition does not originate from within the brain but originates from within the soul.
It is my hypothesis the brain simply mirrors the event of the soul because of the soul’s inability to interact or communicate with the physical, external world. Once the person is no longer living (no longer existing in the external, physical world), they no longer have need of the physical body. They exist in the intermediate state between life and afterlife, but they do continue to exist and volition continues (as is illustrated by the rich man account in the bible).
Some libertarians define free will as having the option to do or not do something. YOu must be able to do either. Are there any examples where this is not the case? Is there an instance where someone acts freely yet had no choice to choose a different action?
When the alternative is physically impossible. As cited before, if someone wants to remain on earth, the alternative would be to leave earth. But, if they have no ability to escape earth itself, they are choosing to remain on earth, despite not having the choice to leave. But, then you have to ask, do they really choose to remain on the earth since they have no option to get off earth? There is, of course, the option to try to get off the earth. The probability that I could stow away on one of Elon’s rockets and take a trip to Mars is next to zero (if not completely zero). But, because Elon has a rocket that will eventually be going to Mars (presumably), then there is the possibility that I could escape earth, no matter how remote that possibility. But, that simply confirms the original libertarian definition, that free will requires the ability to do or not do. Odds of success do not weigh in.
Now, if we were to ask the quiestion, does a human in 1920 have the possibility to escape earth? No. They have 100% no chance of leaving earth. There is no rocket at that time leaving earth. There is no space race. No NASA. There was no way to overcome gravity to escape. No way to survive in outerspace even if you could overcome gravity. So, did the human in 1920 have free will to choose to remain on the earth if he had no choice but to remain on the earth?
There is an argument that he could kill himself and thus, he would escape existence on the earth. His body would remain on the earth for a brief period of time, but it would quickly break down into its base component elements and would be dispersed throughout the natural world. But, he still had a choice to kill himself or not, once again proving that free will required at least two options: to do or not to do.
What of the example of Pharaoh? He was free to do as he liked. He ruled Egypt with an iron fist. People did what he said. People died at his word. Countless people labored under his rule. When given the choice to continue oppressing the Jews or let Moses’ people go, the bible says Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to set them free.
But, the bible also says after the fact, that Pharaoh was raised up for the expressed purpose of God putting him down so God’s name would go out over all the earth.
This is key. If God raised up Pharaoh to do these acts, to put him in the path of Moses and the Jewish people so God would have to deal with him as some kind of global object lesson, did Pharaoh have free will?
Again, this is about perspective.
Pharaoh had free will in making his choices. God raised him up because he knew the choices the king would make, given the circumstances. We see this in 1 Kings 22:19ff, where God asks the angels about persuading Ahab. Ahab definitely had free will, otherwise he would not need to be persuaded. Likewise, Pharaoh had free will in making the choices he did.
Was it possible for him to make a different choice at that moment? The answer is no. But not that he could not (because he could), but that he “would” not.
God’s sovergnty does not violate our free will in any way. He knows the end from the beginning.
But, the libertarian argument appears to be correct. In order for there to be free will, there must be a choice between two distinct options that we can choose. If God had enslaved Pharaoh, forcing him to do what he did, Pharoah would be innocent of wrongdoing. But, he was not forced. He was simply provided an opportunity and was put in that position specifically because God knew what choice he would, in the end, make.
It makes me wonder if the Angels, having been created at some point before us, had the same or similar opportunity to choose eternity with God or one absent of him? What is their story?
I had no choice in being born. I was subjected to life. There was no option in that. But, I do have the option to choose between life with Christ and one without him. Why does choice appear fundamental to the afterlife as well as life on earth?
And this choice, this free will, if the angels are our example, extends into eternity. For some of them abandoned their first choice to be with God, and came to earth to, assumptively, gratify their sexual appetites (if that was indeed the justification for their fall). Will we have the same choice in the after? Once we become like the angels, will we also continue to exercise free will for eternity?
The choice will apparently always remain an option for us.
Agent-causation theorists state an action is free only if the ultimate cause of the action is the agent who performed it. If you were to trace the causal history of the action, it must end in the agent. Is it possible for an action to be agent-caused and yet for it to be true that the agent couldn’t have done anything else?
I would have to agree, if the agent has no other option, then it is not a choice, and if there is no choice, the agent has no free will. Free will appears to be fundamental to the very essence of life, at least human life (and possibly angelic life). We don’t see free will in animal existence, but rather the multifaceted, intricately layered process of animal instinct appears to rule the animal kingdom.
Animals go where their instincts direct them. They do what their instincts dictate. Humans, on the other hand, wrestle between both instinct and higher forms of consciousness. Ethics. Emotion. Sense of justice and rights and equality. Humans die for one another, though this can be rare. It is not found in the animal kingdom. A mother might try to fight off a male to protect her young (again, instinct), but if the male manages to out maneuver the female and kills the cub, it is quite possible you’ll find the mother eat the cub. A dead cub is just meat at that point.
This is not seen in humanity. Humans experience loss and appear to exercise a mental faculty that animals do not seem to possess.
Likewise, free will appears human centric. And, in order to exercise that autonomy, we must have the options to choose or not choose. We must be able to direct our paths independent of external forces outside of ourselves.
The theory is correct, the cause must originate from the agent for there to be free will.
The Problem with Free Will
Is it possible to believe you don’t have free will?
Absolutely. There were many throughout human history, and many today that do not have free will or are not able to exercise free will. The Muslim population in China as I write this is having their free will curtailed by imprisoning them in work camps, where they are shaved, their organs are removed and I will bet you the ones that are not economically viable are being dispatched systematically.
These people have no free will any longer. There are no choices for them. Their tyrannical government has removed those choices entirely, or, at least, severely curtailed them.
This is also starting for the Christian church in China, and it has started here in the US for Christians as well. There will be a point in the US where we will not be able to receive benefits, use services, or participate in the economy without first denying our faith in Christ. We now have free will to do and think and move in the US. That will soon be limited. Then the choice will be to deny Christ or accept persecution and the removal of our free will.
Our liberties have already been removed, if we ever had them in the first place.
I, for one, look forward with great anticipation the coming of Judgment Day. For the bible claims we cannot even conceive of what God has prepared for those who will enter into eternity with him. If I am not one of those fortunate few, so be it. At least my time here on this miserable planet will be over, and I will know as the Rich Man knew, his lot was his own doing and it was truly just. But, if I am one that is found worthy before God because of the work of Christ on the cross, then I will be able to step into eternity with graditude, humility, knowing that thought they may beat my body and break my bones, they cannot kill the soul.
That is my free will choice. I choose Christ.
What other ways would the world be different if we, at least academically and philosophically admitted we had no free will?
I think we’re seeing it unfold before us across the globe. Civil unrest. We stand at the edge of civil war. It is the self-destruction of civil society. The rabid fascination with anihilation. There is no end to the misery that will be unleashed on the earth if this is to continue.
If we have no free will then we have no accountability. It is not us doing or saying or acting, but we reduce humanity to debased animals where we are all driven solely by instinct. It is a depraved and futile mind that believes there is no free will.
Free will is essential to the plan of salvation and to the rectification of the fall of man. It is apparently essential for existence within paradise. The ability to choose and to choose and re-making that choice every moment of every day. The angels who fell (Genesis 6) made a choice. They were able to choose either to obey God and keep their proper dwelling place, remain at their post, keep their station afforded them, or they could choose to rebel, reject God’s provision for them (which may be unique and distinct from the provision we have been offered), and descend into condemnation. If they had no free will, how could God punish them?
Free will is essential to accountability, to responsibility, and to righteousness. If there were no free will, we would be reduced to atomatons, wandering about based exclusively on our programming. We would have no need for thoughts, ideas, emotions, goals, or dreams.
I would wager free will is necessary for existence.
Do you find the idea that abstract objects exist is problematic? Do you think it is reasonable to suppose they exist because their existence would solve certain philosophical problems?
I do not find this problematic. There is no way to determine with any certainty that abstract objects don’t exist. I’m personally convinced the characters I create for my novels actually exist if only in my mind. It certainly can be said they exist in my mind as a thought and that thought of a particular character is no less real as a thought than a thought of a person in the real world.
I don’t see a difference. I’m not certain if there is a difference between how I see characters from my books and how God sees us. It is quite possible (maybe even probable) that we exist, in our universe, solely in the mind of God. We exist simply because he his actively thinking about us, much in the same way I think of my characters. Whenever he ceases to think of us, we cease to exist and we would never know the moment he stops thinking to the moment he starts thinking of us again. We would not experience any of that time he is not thinking of us.
It could be the same for my characters. They may cease existing when I’m not thinking of them. Maybe we are a book written out in God’s existence. Maybe that book is passed around between God and the angels and every time one of them reads from our book we exist and spring into life.
The idea that abstract objects actually exist is not the biggest issue. It is what this means for our existence. Do we exist any more tangibly than they do? Are we any more real? Or are we simply figments of another consciousness’ mind? How fleeting are our abstract thoughts. Does this mean our existence is predicated on the fleeting thought of another sentient being?
Even more curiouser, if we are the product of God’s conscious thinking, and our abstract objects are the product of our conscious thinking, is there a way or a process by which our abstrat objects cross over into God’s mind? What if I inserted myself into the abstract world of my characters, becoming a character myself. Christ did this when he became flesh and “dwelt among us.” If I enter into the fantasy world of my own creation, can I then bring out one of those abstract objects (a character) in such a way that they then exist in the same manner that I exist? They would be brought out into God’s mental activity.
We see examples of this in the tv show Supernatural, when the boys die and go to heaven and are being messed with by the archangel Zechariah. He has been toying with them, using their memories to illicit a response he wants from them. Toward the end of the episode, the boys see the angel with their mother, but she isn’t really their mother. She is just their memory of their mother, animated like some sort of robot. It’s a kind of clone, the angel can materialize, animate, etc.
This would be God (or angels, but in this case myself) bringing from my mind the abstract object into the reality of God’s mind (or wherever it is I actually exist) so that my abstract object (mental activity) exists in God’s.
Argument for God
Can you think of any more potential problems for the classic, traditional, perfect conception of god? Good “divine paradoxes” to find more.
There are countless problems with traditional, classic, domatic views of God and Christ and angels. There are no problems with accurate, biblical depictions of any of these. People throughout the centuries, clearly, have lost their minds. They’ve either twisted the Scriptures to say whatever they wanted it to say, or they have abandoned Scripture entirely and just made up fantastical theories in and of themselves.
I can only answer this question from the position of a genuine believer. In fact, I think I’ve always been a genuine believer, even before I was saved. While a Buddhist, even while a Satanist, I believed in the existence of God. As a Satanist, I was angry at God for bringing me to life, for making me go through this without ever asking me if I was willing to do so. I would go through the bible as a kid and highlight every place where God lied or broke his own rules (because I wanted to prove God was no different than the father I had who broke his own rules, who lied and who caused me all kinds of suffering).
As a Buddhist, I remember several discussions with people and remarking, “Maybe one day I will become a Christian, just not yet.” At that time, I had no intention of becoming a Christian. Yet, somehow, I knew God was real. I was deluded. In rebellion. Unwilling to submit.
It took a direct intervention with God’s word to snap me out of the trance I was in. But it was so much more than that. The Scripture passage in 2 Peter seemed to act as a key that unlocked from within me a living faith that the word went on to feed and foster and grow into full faith in Christ, to the point that I was willing and accepting of his salvation. I did not want to discard Buddhism. In fact, for many months after that initial supernatural interaction with the Word, I attempted to meditate and return to my previous teachings, and world view, to no avail.
There has always, though, been a great distinction between the faith and doctrine of the bible and the often watered down and poluted teachings of the modern church. Evangelical. Catholic. Orthodox. It doesn’t matter. Man’s expression of God is not God’s. This is one of the reasons I no longer participate in church organizations.
There are doctrines of men, doctrines of demons, and then true doctrine which is encapsulated in the biblical text, which is spiritually, supernaturally discerned.
Here is an ontological argument against god’s existence. If god exists, then he exists in all possible worlds. Its possible that god doesn’t exist. If so, then he doesn’t exist in at least one possible world. If so, then he doesn’t exist in them all. Therefore god does not exist. This argument is valid. It is Plantinga’s argument in reverse. Do you think it works? Why? Why not? What does your answer say about the soundness of Plantiga’s argument?
It does not work. Just because in one world God exists doesn’t mean he exists in all possible worlds. There could be another God beside the God that created our universe and everything within it, and this other God created his own universe with its own creation within. So, just because our God exists, doesn’t mean he exists in all other worlds. In fact, there may be no other worlds.
Likewise, just because there is the possibility that God doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist in at least one world. If, in reality, God doesn’t exist, it means he doesn’t exist in all possible other worlds and this world. This works only if God doesn’t actually exist. Just because its possible God doesn’t exist does not conclude God doesn’t exist. There is an underlining reality that must be dealt with. Just because you don’t want to admit it, are willingly ignorant of the actual, objective, universal, and eternal truth in no way invalidates the truth. It simply means you remain willingly ignorant of that truth.
The existence of other possible worlds holds no bearing on the existence or non-existence of God. The only pertinent dependency pertaining to God’s existence is whether or not he actually exists. Does he exist as depicted in the bible? Does he exist in the sense that he can exert power, influence, and control over his creation? If he exist but has no way to communicate with us or change anything for us, or help us, or protect us, or guide us, then it really does not matter if he exists. In fact, in that circumstance, from the perspective of his creation, God might as well not exist. He doesn’t exist.
But the bible makes a specific set of measurable, tangible, objective claims about the existence of God. The question is does he fit those claims?
Something from Nothing
Consider: why is there something rather than nothing? How intellectually satisfying do you find it to suppose the existence of the universe, the singularity from which it sprang, or the existence of quantum foam is a brute fact, that it has no explanations? Is there something else you could hypothesize as an explanation for such things would be more intellectually satisfying that would not require an explanation or raise more questions? What would that be?
I take issue with the way this question is framed. It takes on the assumption as fact that the universe sprang forth from the singularity, which has not in the least been proven. If you are talking scientifically, using the scientific method, nothing from the creation of the world has been observed by humans. We didn’t yet exist. To assume we know from the current observable universe how the universe was created takes on a lot of assumptions.
But, the question itself is quite fascinating. Why is there something rather than nothing?
From my perspective, I cannot fathom a reason for creating the universe, the planet, or the creatures living upon it. From the creation story and all down through human history, we see the depravity, the debased nature, the horrendous actions of people. God determined very early on after the fall, “Peoples’ thoughts are filled with evil continually.” Not a more accurate statement has been said.
I wonder if God, deep down, when alone, doesn’t truly regret what he’s created. Maybe, though, he sees what is to come, what he’s promised and maybe that promise makes the last 6000 years pale in comparison.
Brute facts are only such because we haven’t the ability to look beyond them or have enough context surrounding them. We really don’t know as much as we think we know about the universe at large. What it is. What it’s doing. How it was created or how it will end. Look at all that is on earth that remains still unexplored. The oceans? 80% unexplored. The jungles of South America? Wholely abandoned ancient civilizations awaiting to be discovered. Maybe angels existed as mortal on earth before they became Sons of God. Maybe they were created as Sons of God, which seems off, since God appears pretty insistent that his creations are tested and willingly accept him and willingly serve him.
And what if there is no God, no angels, but only this planet that is alone hospitable enough to support life? What if when we die we cease to exist, and our consciousness, our individual identities die with the death of our bodies. The question remains even then. Why? Why this rather than nothing? Mars has no apparent life on it. Why does it exist in the first place? How and why did it come to be, yet not support life? Does it serve some other purpose we don’t understand? What about the other planets in our solar system that seem to be utterly inhospitible to sustaining life? Why is the earth the only planet that is perfectly capable of doing such? If not from God, where in the hell did all of this come from? What is the purpose for it all? How will it all end? Was there a reason? Is there an explanation?
I personally believe God created the world and the universe as described in the biblical account, and I think he did it for a yet undisclosed reason. I think the explanation will come once God determines the human inhabitants of the earth have had enough time to make their decision, and he sends his Son to clean up the mess. At that point, those who are saved will receive the clear explanation of all the mysteries of creation and maybe even beyond.
I would like to know what is beyond creation. What is there beyond the universe? Where does God come from? What is God’s origin story? What is the origin story of the Angels? Where there other races on other planets? Are there living beings on other planets now elsewhere in the universe? Will they be visited and receive an intervention as we have?
If there is no God then nothing matters, my life was a waste of time and I’m actually better off dead and not existing and it would be my choice to never exist again. But, if there is a God, and there is an afterlife with answers, then I hope I’m some sort of researcher, so I can spend eternity in the libraries of heaven, reading about and discovering all there is to know about God and what he’s done.
Suppose you have a set of three things, a b c. Suppose a causes b to exist and b causes c to exist and c causes a to exist. Is this set of objects self-explanatory? Does it explain its own existence, or does the set itself require an explanation outside of it? If it is not self-explanatory, then what would it mean for an object to be self-explanatory?
No it is not self-explanatory and, yes, it would require explanation from outside of the set. This is like saying God created me, and I created Zack, a character in several of my books that happens to be a serial killer, and Zack created God.
This actually is not a logical statement and does not work. It is an impossibility.
To be self-explanatory, or logically consistent, you would need to look at the existence of God himself, who exists, who is omnicient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and yet was never created. He has always existed and, in fact, he exists outside of the property of time itself (he created time) and thus has only the present as a state of being. This means he’s everywhere simultaneously, in the past, in the present, in the future. He sees all things, knows all things, and everything persists through him and by him and because of him.
We don’t know anything about God’s origin, possibly because he had no origin. It’s incoprehensible, but our inability to comprehend it doesn’t negate its truthfulness as a statement of fact.
God is self-explanatory. He simply is. His existence, as they say, is a brute fact. It is true, regardless of our opinion or acceptance of it. The bible states that one day, all of creation will bend the knee and confess Christ as Lord. It does not mean he will be their Lord. It means each and every one of us will testify and confess the lordship of Christ, the authority of Christ over the earth, over the people upon it, and over everything in creation. He will receive the deed to the earth, and will sit on the throne of David into eternity.
The existence of God has no causation. Has no disposition. Has no external conditions. He simply is in and of himself, existent. He is sheer force of will, force of individual volition, of mental and physical manifestation.
Suppose the laws that govern the universe are fine-tuned. If those laws necessitate the occurrence of hurricanes, and other natural events, how does this affect your opinion of what a fine-tuner of our universe would be like?
This is a gross simplification and misapplication of the fine-tuned nature of earth and the universe. The bible says all creation has been subjected to the curse, from the fall. The earth and the universe are remarkable. Massive. Complex. Ultimately designed by an intelligence that is far beyond our capacity to comprehend. There is great and infinite majesty to creation, to the earth, to that which moves and has its being upon it.
But, the earth at least (and those on it) suffer under a curse. A curse that is genetic and biological in nature. As it is understood, death is the consequence of that curse. It causes disorder, decay, destruction. It exacts a toll from the living. The transaction of sin is inhereted as Sons of Adam. Through him all have sinned and through sin death came into the world. This curse also carried a penalty of oppression upon all of the physical world, the implications of which we may not even fully understand.
I would argue the earth was more finely tuned before the fall than it is now. But, with the size of the universe, with the size of just our galaxy, there is the possibility of near limitless numbers of other finely tuned planets that support or can support life. Maybe there is no other life than that which is found on earth. Maybe there will be no more life until our intervention is complete, the wicked are cast into the lake of fire which somehow removes them from reality, possibly removing them from the physical plane of our universe, and then we travel to another solar system where God will begin working again, to design a new earth with a new race of sentient beings that will need similar yet distinct interventions before their time has come and the chosen are revealed as Sons of God. This may repeat into eternity and may have repeated countless times in the past, before our beginning.
There is no way to know the details with any specificity. There simply is not enough data, not enough information. And, to be honest, this frustrates me. I’m not certain I understand why the cloak and dagger are needed. Why all the mystery? I guess if we knew everything then God would not know for certain (or maybe we and the other sentient beings in creation would not know for certain) who truly trust in the Lord.
There is certainly more to the story that we have been told. There are large gaps in the chronology. There are whole information streams that have been left out of the historical record.
But storms and natural disasters, these are not designed by God and I would argue they did not exist before the fall of Adam. They are the consequence, biproduct, and result of that fall, of the curse that has infected everything and everyone.
After the curse is lifted, death will no longer reign, we will no longer have a sun or the moon or the oceans. It will either be a completely different dimension we will enter into or the earth will be made anew and anew it will be vastly different than it is now.
But, if there is no God, if there is no creation, if evolution is true and accurate and we evolved over time, then nature has acted uniformly throughout the world, operating under the principles and laws of nature. If this is the fundamental reality of existence, of life, of the planet, then there is no fine-tuner and there is no purpose or reason or morality. There is only the blunt and brutal physical world of starvation, deprivation and ultimately death. In such a world I do not wish to continue to live. If there be no resurrection of the dead, no rapture of the living saints, no judgment day, no return of my King, then I desire no longer to exist or be or live or breathe.
I would choose death.
Perfection, Science, and Metaphysics
If there is a perfect being, all of its properties are perfectly balanced. If any one of its properties were different to any degree, it would no longer be perfect, there is no way you could compensate for a change in one property by changing another. Any change in a perfect being at all would make it imperfect. Does this mean if there is a perfect being, it must be fine-tuned?
Yes, it would require an intelligence to have been perfected. Unless, of course, the being had no beginning and no end. It was never created. It never experienced birth and will never experience any sort of death or cecession of existence. It has always been and will always be. This kind of perfect being is not fine-tuned since the process of fine-tuning would intimate a process that brought the being from imperfection to perfection at some point in its past. A creative process.
God was not created. His claim is he has always been and always will be. Obviously, God exists as an individual entity in a much different and much larger reality than what we exist in. There is no mention of co-habitors with God (save for the trinity). No mention of father or mother or sister or brother. No mention of other Gods other than the angels and us (or what we will one day be).
Are the angels created? Are they like God in every way? What is this story before our “in the beginning” commenced?
What has not been created, has not been formed, has not been brought into existence by a separate and distinct entity outside of itself cannot be fine-tuned. It cannot be tuned at all. It simply has always been. There is no beginning and no ending. It was not formed like we were formed in the womb.
It is the fundamental essense and substance of eternality.
Are there dangers for theistic belief in pointing to something that seems to be unexplained, such as fine-tuning, as an argument for god’s existence?
It is dangerous if those who invoke theistic belief do so over and above, say, scientific observation. We cannot reject evidence in forming the observation. We need to include all data sets, all information, all ideas, all hypotheses. Let the data speak for itself, without any twisting or bias.
What is called science today is utterly and completely bias by limiting its framework to uniformitarianism and naturalistic processes. They turn a blind eye to hypotheses that counter their religious, non-theistic world view.
To ascribe fine-tuning as an indication or evidence of the existence of God is find for a hypothesis. Just like evolution is fine as a hypothesis for adaptation and the ascent of man. But, they need to be put in their proper perspectives. Neither evolution nor special creation are provable in any measurable sense. They are theological propositions. The supposition for special creation is there was a designer. The supposition for evolution is there was no designer and natural processes are responsible for changes over time. These are philosophical claims and should not be involved in empirical scientific inquiry.
But, since science has been hijacked by a religious world-view (naturalism), then, as predicted by the biblical text, a great delusion will be given to those who do not believe.
Given the last few lectures, how important would you say understanding science is to the study of metaphysics? How would you describe the relationship between science and metaphysics?
Science is an important component to the study of metaphyiscs, if you mean by metaphysics, the study of the underlining nature of reality. The word “metaphysics” has been hijacked by the new age movement as has consciousness studies to interject into the conversation a push to bring transendental meditation to the masses. This is, by and large, a demonic push. The bible says we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in the heavenly places. Science is a process by which we undertake an investigation of the physical world. Nothing else. It is a tool or set of tools from which we can ascertain some data. Because of that it has limitations. It is no different than philosophy or theology. All must be involved for the search of truth to be ultimately successful.
Problematic Possible Worlds
Do you find the idea that possible worlds exist problematic? Do you think it is reasonable to suppose they exist because their existence solves certain philosophical problems?
I don’t think their existence solves any philosophical problems. But, I’m also not personally convinced possible worlds exist that are duplicate copies of my world, just with slight alterations or differing choices.
I would proffer there are quite possible multiple worlds (planets within our universe) that possess life that is altogether unique and distinct from human life or any animal life or plant life found on earth. These other planets could be prime targets for intervention by their creator in the future after our intervention has been completed. It is possible there were previous worlds (planets) such as Mars that held their own distinct races of sentient beings that went through their own form of interventions and became what the bible calls Sons of God. These are those form that particular race that were saved (maybe by grace, maybe by works, and maybe some other way).
It is quite possible, once our intervention is complete, at least a subset of us will join the host of heaven, becoming Sons of God in our own right, and will journey with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to these other planets and participate (as the angels did in our intervention) in their interventions.
I see no evidence to support parallel universes that have duplicate copies of ourselves with all choices being taken in at least one parallel universe. This provides no function, no utility, serves no real purpose, and is highly inefficient.
Is the ontology of someone who believes other worlds really exist more bloated than someone who believes possible worlds existing are simply an arrangement of propositions but thinks the propositions are abstract objects?
So the major difference here is the first person is a true, literal believer in other worlds, but the second person believes other worlds are simply myths made up as possible theories. The question propositioned is, is the first person worldview (that the other worlds really exist) more bloated than the person who is convinced other worlds are simply myths.
We can transfer this to two professing Christians, one who is a fundamentalist (literally believes) and the other who really just thinks the bible is a collection of myths.
Bloated would entail a larger, possibly even heavier weight to the worldview. Difficulty wielding the greater mass of that worldview.
Just based purely on the difference that the fundamentalist believes literally against the lukewarm christian who discounts all as myth, I would answer no. In fact, I would say the fundamentalist has a greater zeal because he truly believes, to his core, that the biblical account is real and accurate and carries with it power. The lukewarm christian is lackidazical, most likely lives a life not that different from non-believers, most likely is compromised on several if not the majority of tenants of the bible.
It is cautioned in Revelation, God would rather we be hot or cold than lukewarm. It is a fearful thing to be found in the hands of the living god!
Transfering this back to the true believer in other worlds vs the one who thinks other worlds are simply a myth. Purity and intensity in faith matter nothing at all if the object of that belief is false. If the God of the bible is reality, then the weight or power of true belief in other worlds only carries across to the extent that the other worlds exist. If the proposition is true, the veracity is generated from the validity of the truth, not from the belief itself or from it’s apparent intensity.
But, if God be true (and every man a liar), it does not matter and there is substantively no difference between the true believer and the believer in myths of other worlds if 1. other worlds do not exist or do exist 2. if they have not accepted Christ and have not placed faith in the work of God in Christ. Countless people believe in a myriad of things and none of those beliefs will lead to a saving grace. Believe or don’t believe in other worlds. It is futile thinking. It would be better to confess Christ and believe God raised him from the dead than it is to believe or not believe in other worlds.
Removing God, there is no difference between believing and mythologizing. If God be removed, both people will live and die and will cease to exist, regardless of the existence of other worlds. They will die and return to the dust of the earth and within a few hundred years (if not much sooner) they will no longer be remembered and they will benefit from nothing any longer. Their belief or lack of belief in other worlds mean nothing and is futile.
How do you conceive of god? Is he or she perfect? What does that entail? If god is not perfect, then what properties does he lack?
I only know of God from the depiction in the bible. I also know, throughout my life, specific instances where he has spared me from hardship. Looking back over the course of my life, I can see where he guided me, where he protected me (often from myself), and where he provided for me.
God is perfect. Omniscient. Omnipotent. He is everything and sees everything and knows everything, and will judge everyone at the end of this world and the end of this creation. I know God is somehow light. He is the logos. He spoke everything into existence from nothing. I know God as distinct from human beings or any other created thing. I know no one (human) has ever seen God (the father), but Christ has declared him (if you see and believe Christ is the Messiah, then in him and his actions you’ve seen the Father). God is male because the bible declares him as such. Women are a mystery. There appear to be no female angels, yet every living creature on earth appears in two distinct forms, male and female. Yet, the bible claims our true form is without gender, sex, or race. Yet the angels, when they fell (Genesis 6), they procreated with human women, so Angels are male?
There are too many unanswered (and unanswerable) questions pertaining to God to get a full or accurate depiction of him. We either never knew the full God or suffer from some sort of amnesia. There is much to the story that has yet to be disclosed.
Relativity, Changing Time, and Predictions
Relativity suggests there is no preferred reference frame, none have special properties that make it better than another. But since the big bang, the intensity of the microwave background radiation left has been slowly decreasing. And there are reference frames were the intensity of that radiation would not be uniform. It would be more dense on one side of the universe than the other. Could the reference frame be used to determine objective facts about simultaneity, length, and duration? What consequences might follow from this?
I would object, if I understand the question, simply because we don’t truly know the cause for the background radiation. We assume it came from the big bang, but no one was there to observe it and so all we can do is settle for conjecture. This kind of thinking may fit certain paradigms and it may make the masses feel better in justifying their abandonment of God and the biblical message, but that is all it does. It is an unproven hypothesis.
Suppose you could use the effects of relativity to slow down or speed up how time passes for you. Would you do it? Why or why not?
I don’t think I would want to experience time slowing down or speeding up from my perspective. They say, because of time dilation, if I’m traveling at the speed of light, those on earth are aging much quicker (or I’m aging slower), but to me, my relative age remains constant. It is only different in relation.
But to actually experience the speeding down or speeding up of time, I don’t see a benefit to this at all.
Rather, I would be much more interested in time travel, into the past. I would want to go as I am now, I would want to go back with my full memories in tact, and I would want to go back to the early 1990’s.
Better still, I would want to return to my own body as a child, but only if I can retain full knowledge of the life I’ve lived thus far. If I had to go back and experience it all again without that extra information, I would not want to do it. I would rather remain here in the present knowing the truth about so many things I had no concept of as a child or young adult.
But time manipulation itself, I don’t see it being a benefit.
Are you an instrumentalist or a realist about science? Do scientific theories describe the world as it actually is, or are they just useful tools for making successful predictions?
I would like to think I’m a realist, but probably not by the definition presented here. I don’t believe reality as we perceive it is actually objective. Certainly not objective, as it is colored by our emotional and psychological states at the present moment we are perceiving it. To the man who is severely depressed and considering suicide, the world looks much different compared to the same man three years earlier who was happily married with a family and loved his life. The two worlds are distinctively and dreadfully different, yet they are the same exact world.
It must be said, the reality we experience does persist and has persisted for at least the length of our known history and possibly far beyond that. It is a consistent reality, with at least an appearance of an objective, external physical world.
Is the external, physical world real?
There is no way to determine this and still better, it really doesn’t matter, since there is no way we can find to escape from the physical world. In fact, we can go so far as to say, we as individual, sentient beings are IN the external physical world.
Is there anything other than the external, physical world?
At this point, we cannot with any specificity claim there is. None has been witnessed via our individual or collective perception and to this moment no one has returned from death (other than Christ and a few others during his time) and none of them have elucidated the world on what is beyond.
We have fragments of what is outside of the physical world, but these are just glimpses. Possibilities.
What is the main sub-straight from which reality operates? Is it the physical, external world? Is it, instead, the spiritual world, where God and the angels dwell? How does that spiritual realm differ from the physical realm? Why is it we cannot cross between these realms but the angels can (and we assume so can God)?
What is the more real of reality?
Does the behavior at the quantum level indicate the external, physical world is not actually as real as we perceive it to be? Why is it, after Jesus’ resurrection, he was able to manipulate space and time, appear and disappear at will? Is this something the angels can also do? Will it be something we can do once we are declared Sons of God?
Why all the cloak and dagger? Why not just level with everyone?
What is truly, fundamentally real?
Space-Time, Reference Frame, and Time Travel
Are you a substantivalist or a relationalist about space-time.? Is space time really a substance in which light travels and is bent by massive objects? Or is it simply a description of how objects relate to each other?
I truly have no idea. Both ideas have sound merits in and of themselves. And, all things considered, it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is the fundamental reality of space. It is what it is. It is one or the other or something else entirely. But there is an objective, universal, and eternal truth about the nature of space and time and the physical world and the spiritual world.
There is a fundamental truth about the origin of earth and of the universe. We can guess and speculate and we can coax and prod each other into leaning one way or the other, but, in the end, the true reality remains the same.
Our belief has no bearing on reality as it is. Reality does not change based on how we might feel about it. Just because the naturalist and evolutionist vehemently argues against an all knowing God in no way reduces the amount or capacity or extent to which He knows everything there is to know about the naturalist. He may be certain in his belief in evolution because, without it, it would mean he has to acknowledge a God who will one day judge him (and one day he will be judged). But, the veracity of the naturalist’ belief does not lessen in any way the severity of the judgment to come. It does not abdicate the punishment for his disobedience.
Likewise, the devout fundamentalist’s faith in Christ in no way affects his final disposition after death, if there is no resurrection. If Christ did not rise, then there is no resurrection from the dead and death reigns over all universally. The fundamentalist will die, he will breathe his last breath and he will cease to exist. His faith does not change his fate in the least bit, if, indeed, the naturalist is right.
The point is, in the end, there is but one valid reality. There is but one valid truth. And that is what is true. What is genuinely, universally, and eternally true. Be it evolution, be it biogenesis from ancient alien race, or Christ in the beginning, there is a story that is true. Everything else is mere perspective, bias and conditional.
The modern world may not accept truth. But their rejection of it in now way lessens truth’s potency.
An object rotating is in a non-inertial reference frame. It’s motion replicates the effects of gravity. In spaceships we can replicate gravity by rotating it. How does this explain Newton’s spinning bucket phenomenon? Does spinning the bucket problem commit one to a substantive view of space and time?
As the bucket spins, the water moves from the center to the outsides and rises up the sides of the bucket based on the speed at which the bucket is rotating. This is similar to the hypothetical process of creating a gravity like effect. As the ship (has to be a very large ship) rotates, the outer compartments will experience centrifugal force, which would be similar to the effects of gravity on earth (though gravity is caused by the mass of the earth pulling against our mass, whereas the artificial gravity would be caused by rotation rather than mass).
Is then, space real? Is it substantive? I lean toward the affirmative. In Isaiah 40:22, it says, “He sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants who are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spread them like a tent to dwell in.”
I have never been to space. I’ve never experienced weightlessness after leaving this planet. I most likely never will experience these things first hand. But, there is one who claims first hand witness, who’s testimony I am confident in.
Is space simply the relation between objects? Is it a substance upon which those objects move about? There is really no way to know. But I take in the scientific data and the information revealed in the Scripture and then make an educated guess.
In the end, I will be proven right or wrong (or most likely a little of both).
If you could travel in time, where would you go? Who would you want to meet? What events would you want to see? Given what we have discussed, could you change what happened? Could you end up causing it?
If traveling separately (meaning my physical body of today was moved materially back in time) and there would be two distinct instances of me, the one from then and the one from now that goes back to the past, then I would want to go back to the early 90’s.
If, instead, my conscious identity (from now with all my memories and knowledge intact) was moved ethereally back and took over or inhabited the body of my past, then I would want to go back to early childhood, maybe 10 or 12 years old (but only if my mind was at 45).
I wouldn’t want to meet anyone, or go anywhere in particular. I would simply want to start over or have the opportunity to live through those years again armed with the knowledge I have currently from the future.
Or, if possible, I would at least want to return to the person I was at 10 or 11 and be equipped with a book of all the details about my life and about the history of human society so I knew what decisions to make differently and I would want to know the winning numbers for the lotteries or the history of the stock market.
I would invest my time in applying myself in school. I would forget about girls entirely and I would abandon any idea of enlisting in the fraudulent US military. I would try to get out of public school as soon as possible, get my BA, MA, and PhD degrees as soon as possible, and then find a small, quiet community college to get a job at. Then, when the time came (when insanity came) I would quietly retire and go live on a tropical island somewhere reading books and writing on a blog and writing novels.
Wait, that sounds similar to my life now!
The Quirky Quantum World
How comfortable are you with causal loops? Can something be the cause of itself in the way its described in the lecture? Could the possibility of causal loops explain how god could be a self-caused being?
Here is yet another misconception of God. He is not a self-caused being. His claim is he has no cause. Causation is based upon the principle of time, the presence of time as a bounding force. But, time has locality, and God is separate from that locality. Time is a substrate from which we must operate. There is, apparently, no escaping time if you are part of it, if you operated from it. Being bound by time is a universal trait of creation.
God, though, is no creation. He has no origin story. He does not exist or experience existence from within the confounds of the temporal plane. His is not only outside of it, he is not bound by it, and, in fact, he is the creator of it.
Causal loops are, logically, incoherent. There is no evidence in the external, physical world of a causal loop.
Creation itself is a linear process not a loop. It is against intelligent order and design for creative processes to loop in on themselves and, in effect, attempt to explain the creation of other beings within the closed system.
It is an impossibility.
It seems there is a less than certain objective probability certain things will occur at the quantum level. Is there anything else in the world whose probability is less than certain in an objective sense? If so, is the fact it has such a probability just a result that its a product of a quantum event? Is any other kind of event, besides quantum events, truly objectively random?
It appears the quantum level operates differently and manifests differently than the physical level does. There appear to be two systems at play, with the physical world (as an intrinsic reality) lays upon the quantum world (also an intrinsic reality). Just because the quantum world operates under a set of specific rules does not mean any of those rules apply to the physical world and vice versa.
It would seem causation is prima in the physical world while probability is prima in the quantum world. The physical world needs the quantum. The quantum causes the physical.
Given what you have learned thus far, how would you describe what is happening at the quantum level?
There is something happening at the quantum level that makes no sense. Everything appears to be in a state of indeterminate probability, never materializing into the physical until the wave function is observed. The physical world around us continually persists due to the constant observation by life, sentience (and possibly God).
It stands to reason that the physical world is real, albeit, it may exist only in the mind of the creator. If our world is mental activity at its core, it would stand to reason that mental activity is merely probability. We tend to work in the same manner, our minds constantly wandering, fluid, in a constant state of flux, yet capable of the most inspiring, awing creativity imaginable.
To say there is no God is to deny the intelligence required of order, of structure, of purpose.
There is something else beyond the distinctive reality of the physical world. There may be no way to crack into that which is beyond. Maybe only death pierces that veil. But, I stand unconvinced of randomness as creator. Intelligence is required.
Quantum Mechanics, a Cat, and No Location
Are you comfortable accepting something that has no location or momentum, that is not an object in any classical sense, but merely a probabilistic wave function, that it exists? Are you comfortable accepting Schrödinger’s cat could be in a superposition of aliveness and deadness? How does this affect your notion of what it means for something to exist?
Certainly it exists. If it did not exist then the physical world would not be able to exist. But, it is possible it exists only in the way a thought exists within a person’s mind. It may be ethereal. Without corpus, without necessarily having location in any given place, space or even time. It may be entirely manifest only within the mind of God.
Now, as it pertains to Schrödinger’s cat. This is a nice illustration attempting to explain quantum activity, but it is actually ill conceived.
A real cat stuck in a box with poison is, in actuality, in only one state. It has either taken of the poison and has died, or it has not taken of the poison and remains alive. The fact it is in an unopened box plays no role in the state in which the cat exists.
On the quantum level this is different. But the quantum level operates under a different set of principles than does the physical world. You may wish there to be a universal set of laws that govern all reality (so desired because of your naturalism bias), but God has apparently created the reality in which we exist in at least two separate planes or states.
Reconsider your view on the instrumentalism verses realism debate about scientific knowledge. Does science tell us the way the world is or is it merely a tool for making predictions?
Science “can” tell us the way the world is. It does not necessarily always actually tell us how it is. Science is often wrong, in error, or operating down a dead end, simply by sheer function. But, there has to be some degree of accuracy for predictions to be correct, when they are correct.
This can be tricky, though. Often, predictions are heavy laden with metaphysical and presumptive world-view beliefs that cause bias in the interpretive steps. Science (and more specifically, scientists) cannot be objective one hundred percent of the time. Likewise, there may not be enough data, system may not be fully understood, miscalculations could and do occur. Science is not exact, it is broad and generalizing at best.
A more helpful question I would pose is: does perception and mental contemplation about the way the world is actually tell us how the world actually is? Is it possible to observe the world as it is? Was the world (reality, the state of our existence) programmed in such a way that there is a particular way in which we are supposed to see the world, even though that may not be the way the world actually is? The best example of this is the difference between the classical and quantum worlds. For the bulk of human history there was absolutely no knowledge of the quantum world or its behavior. Only in the most recent of times have we discovered the distinction.
Obviously, the world was designed so that we would view it as an external, physical reality, operating deterministically under a set of identifiable rules (rules that are identifiable by objective observation and measurement). But, is that the real world? Or, is the quantum world the real world and the classical, external, physical world a fabrication? Is it the other way around, the quantum is the substrate, the matrix, upon which the real operates and moves?
Which interpretation of quantum mechanics do you prefer and why?
Personally, I don’t believe any of the interpretations are correct. Of course, I have no way of knowing, neither do the authors of those interpretations. They are making guesses, making conclusions based on the evidence before them.
I do like the idea that quantum mechanics is idealistic, in that it is intrinsically tied to perception of the observer. Further I would predict the entire universe is a fabrication, in that it actually has no existential form or substance, that it is not actually real and does not exist in any one place, similar at best to the transient nature of our own thoughts, dipping in and out of existence based on both our perception and our mental focus.
I would utterly reject the many world interpretation. There is no reason or logic to ground such a view, and I’m not certain I understand the purpose in it other than a vain and desperate attempt to produce anything that might sway the conscience away from the existence of God or the reality of the coming judgment.
Personally, this is my interpretation of quantum mechanics. I view it as the underlining thoughts, the mental activity of God. The external, physical world we exist in, ourselves included and everything that encompasses creation and life, subsist either in the mind of God alone, or, God, in some incomprehensible way manifested into being from thought alone the external, physical world.
We are told God “Hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7). “By Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17).
However God did it, whatever reality consists of, whatever it actually IS, we know from above it hangs on nothing, that both the visible and invisible were created by him, created through him, and created for him. Likewise, and I think more importantly, it is in him that “all things consist.”
I am convinced the fundamental essence of reality is bundled up in Christ Jesus. Everything. He maintains everything, through every moment, in every way. Our very being, our very existence, every thought in our heads, is possible because of is direct, present, and intense interest in us and in all of his creation.
But, there will come a time when he will be done with this reality. He will separate out the wheat from the chaff, and he will no longer consider this world, this reality, this people who never truly knew him, where never genuinely called by the Father, and the external, physical world we know will begin to crack apart, “the sky receded as a scroll when rolled and every mountain and island was moved from its place” (Revelation 6:14).
When it is over, there will be no earth, no reality, no physical laws, no light, no darkness, no seas, no death. There will be a great white throne before which everyone who ever lived will stand before, and God will be seated on the throne and the earth and heaven will flee from the face of God (Revelation 20:11).
Can you imagine that?
What kind of power, immensity, severity will be required to drive away both the earth and heaven (which is basically everything in the created cosmos)? To the point that there was no place found for them.
Out of existence.
Multiverse, God, and Not Knowing
Do you think suggesting god creates an infinite number of universes worth creating solves the problem of no best world? Do you find the idea of god creating a multiverse disturbing, comforting, or something else?
I find a God created multiverse to be implausible. It simply attempts to divert attention away from the finality of this world, subverting the immensity of the gospel message for these particular people. Humanity is in such desperation to deny anything that might pertain to their unique, genuine, and final judgment. They can’t fathom (because of their sin) a just God who would hold them accountable for their sin.
They cannot fathom this because God has given them over to a futile mind. They are accursed. There is no hope for them. They are lost, utterly.
So the call is all the more pertinent, all the more potent, all the more necessary for those who can still hear his voice. If you can hear, repent! There is yet still time to turn from your ways and accept Christ and his work on the cross! Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, and you will be saved. There is no way of knowing how much time remains. Only the father in heaven knows such mysteries. And when the time is over, there will be no more opportunity. It will be then his decision is made, it will be at that moment that the wrath of the lamb will be revealed on the earth and his judgment will go out and burn and plunder and raze.
Wake up while there is still time!
Does the idea we live in a multiverse change your views about your own importance or the importance of your actions? If every choice exists in at least one parallel universe, does it really matter what choice you make in this universe since all choices are being taken simultaneiously? What is the significance of never being able to prevent something from happening in all universes just your own universe?
Say, hypothetically, God created a multiverse. It in no way lessens the importance of my life or the choices I make, especially since there appears no way for me to cross over into any of the other universes and no way for any universes to interact with any other universe.
Because of this limitation, it is practically the same as if there were no multiverse, and thus, we live in a single universe, on the only planet (at this time) that possesses life.
If we live in a simulation, would you travel to the outside world if you could do so? What would you say to our simulation’s creator? Could you be sure they weren’t just another simulation? What should the creator of our simulation conclude about the idea he’s also in a simulation?
In fact, I hope that upon death we travel outside of the simulation and we meet the creators of the simulation. If the creators of the simulator are not God as described in the bible, I’m going to give them a piece of my mind. I will be furious! There is absolutely no reason to create such a brutal, sadistic, corrupt, irreparable place as earth is or society is. Humans are the absolute worst of creation. If the bible is but a collection of myths, and the simulation is instead some kind of video game or experiment or past time, then I will very quickly slip into a murderous rage and will try my very best to annihilate every last one of those creators.
If it was yet another simulator, I would at that point give up and try my best to kill myself. I’m not interested in participating any longer in my own simulation, let alone my creator’s simulation.
How comfortable are you with sacrificing certainty and knowledge for wisdom and understanding? Do you find yourself wanting to ascribe to a particular metaphysical view, or are you comfortable saying you don’t know.
I don’t believe I willingly ascribed to my metaphysical view. It was given to me supernaturally, through the bible, upon one reading of a chapter in 2 Peter. That experience never happened in the times I’d read the bible before that, and it has never happened since. But, that singular experience readjusted my trajectory in this life and the only thing that is fundamentally different now is my world view. I did not come to believe in God or Christ or the gospel message. After reading that single chapter, I then believed. I’m not convinced it was the reading of that passage or necessarily the context of the passage that convinced me to believe. The belief was transfered to me. I simply believed.
Ascribing to my world view has actually not made my life easier. It has not provided answers, in fact, it has prompted many, many more questions. My life has become a waste in the eyes of men. But to me, I have a great joy and great anticipation of what is to come. I am so thankful for the knowledge I’ve been given, the comfort that knowledge has brought to me over the years as I’ve watched this world collapse in on itself, especially today as the fabric of society seems to be disintegrating.
To the first part of the question. If you are referring to wisdom and understanding as in this is inferred by the adoption of a particular metaphysic because it supposedly provides all the answers and so you gain understanding and wisdom, but these are distinct from certainty and knowledge (since metaphysic cannot be proven).
The bible says there is an ἐπίγνωσιν “full knowledge” in which we come to the full unity of the faith and full knowledge of Christ.
There is certainty in faith, especially in informed faith. Tested faith. It is by knowledge that we grow in faith and exercise that faith. From faith we find wisdom and understanding, comfort and peace. It is not one or the other.
Certainly there are many, many questions left unanswered. But, I have assurances from the Word that one day those questions will be answered completely. And, the object of my faith has been, to me, faithful. He has thus far delivered on his promises, the promises of his Word, the promises of faith, the promises of seeking his will and the promises of how that will would work in my life.
I might be a fool, but let me then be a fool for Christ. Let God be true and every man a liar. May I go to my grave and cease to exist believing, fully and utterly convinced, in the promises of God and the coming return of my King.
This has been my very first course in metaphysics. I’m a little perplexed, yet also a little surprised at the rigorous nature of the content. There were, I thought, really good questions being asked. And, as I’ve come to expect, working through the questions has led me to a great deal more.
I still feel as if my coursework for my uThM program is a little rudimentary. Discussion of consciousness, metaphysics, theology, it seems to dab at best around the periphery of the questions, never actually delving in and trying to ascertain answers. Maybe it is the topic I’ve chosen for my research. It is quite possible I’ve set myself up for disappointment, since I may never be able to adequately answer the questions I have posed.
But I do feel as if I’m getting close, despite the slow process to get there. In reality, the study of philosophy, as Socrates argued, is ultimately the preparation for death.
This is truly what I’m attempting to do.
I have no interest in continuing on in this life. No pursuits that prod me. No plans or goals or dreams. In fact, looking back, I see only the meager aspirations I once had have been stripped from me by a cold and calculating and debased government and culture and wicked people.
Death is the only thing that remains. It is the only comfort I see ahead of me. Either death as annihilation or death as in transformation. Even ceasing to exist is better than to continue on. Yet, I am instilled with a bizarre and torturous spirit intent on causing me the greatest amount of pain, that goads me to continue, to write, to read, to search, to grasp ahead in the darkness of will and service and thought.
Maybe there is a reason for all of this. Maybe on the other end of my uThM I will come out with a purpose much greater than I ever could have imagined. I doubt it. But, it could happen.
I did like many of these discussion questions. I always like working through them for weeks at a time, struggling, reading, re-reading the text or listening to lectures, trying to ascertain at least a superficial understanding of what is being asked.
If nothing else, it feels good to finish.
Excerpt from The Light Aurora:
The door’s lock released and Dr. Lewis looked around at each of them.
“Stay close, and be ready for anything. I’m not sure if they’re all in the Command Center or if they are trying to secure Level 4. Hell, they could all be evacuating.”
He stared at Scott as he came up onto the landing.
“Let’s go,” Scott said.
Dr. Lewis pushed the door open and walked out into the hall, followed by the others – in ones and twos.
Level 2 was similar to the other level, with a long corridor, doors on either side, all with security displays recessed into the wall next to them.
But, as they entered the corridor, Scott’s breath caught in his throat.
As he stood there with the others, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
In front of them, probably no more than a few yards away, were three bodies lying on the floor. One was sitting up against the wall, the side of his face melted, exposing his right eyeball and a good portion of his right skull.
Another one was laying face down, his entire back opened up at the spine, as if his spinal cord had been ripped out of him from behind.
The last one was a few more feet away from the others, on his back, his eyes seared from his head, black, burnt flesh where his eyes used to be.
The intercom came back to crackling life.
Derrick said over the intercom.
“Don’t worry. You can answer,” he said. “I can hear you.”
Scott looked up, then fixed his gaze on the security camera at the end of the corridor.
“Yes?” Scott finally asked.
There was a pause, static.
“What are you doing, Derrick?” he asked. “Did you do this?”
“Indeed,” Derrick said, coming back on.
“They refused to help me.”
“What are you trying to do, Derrick?” Scott asked.
There was another pause.
“I want to go home, Professor,” the boy said.
“Yes,” Derrick said, his tone soaked with some other-worldly confidence that did not belong in an innocent, ten year old boy.
“I want to go home, Professor,” he said again. “Would you be interested in coming home with me?”
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