"God, Creation, and Evil: The Moral Meaning of creatio ex nihilo"

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SolenoidEntity
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Re: "God, Creation, and Evil: The Moral Meaning of creatio ex nihilo"

Post by SolenoidEntity » Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:34 am

This has been very interesting - I was aware that Mormons had an almost-but-not-quite universalist eschatology, but didn't know that the "not quite" part was the result of a belief that God is not entirely omnipotent.

I feel like with some of this - the initial constraint's on God's creation, the idea of God/Godhead as council - Mormon theology is trying* to take advantage of something more akin to a polytheist theology (which, as one of you has mentioned, neatly sidestep the problem of evil by not having a single omnipotent entity), while also preserving/taking advantage of the Christian idea of God as unsurpassed in power within the universe.

If God didn't create the universe ex nihilo, I'm not sure why (in a Watsonian sense - the Doylist answer is "because Mormon doctrine arose from earlier Christianity") one would expect there to be a single God (considering the Trinity/Godhead and any beings later exalted by this God together for this purpose) rather than a whole pantheon. I guess I can imagine a situation where, as rationalists often expect the first superintelligence to do, the first God to come into existence rapidly shapes the universe in accordance with its goals, preventing others who come later from doing so, but I'm not sure if this is the right way to think about it. I do find this theodicy more satisfying than any other non-universalist Christian one I can recall, at any rate.

*To be clear, I'm not claiming that this is a conscious effort, or that Mormons are Actually Polytheists, or anything of the sort.

archon
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Re: "God, Creation, and Evil: The Moral Meaning of creatio ex nihilo"

Post by archon » Fri Jul 21, 2017 6:44 am

What is the universalist christian solution to theodicy?

I'm also not sure what you mean by the advantages of a polytheistic theology. Apart from the lack of omnipotence, Mormonism looks quite typical for monotheistic religions from where I am standing?
"Don't be silly -- if we were meant to evolve naturally, why would God have given us subdermal implants?"

Raininginsanity
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Re: "God, Creation, and Evil: The Moral Meaning of creatio ex nihilo"

Post by Raininginsanity » Fri Jul 21, 2017 6:37 pm

Mormonism is pretty strange. A lot of Christians do not consider them Christians despite the fact that Mormons do in fact accept Jesus as the Christ. An evangelical friend once told me that he was once going to ask a Mormon to pray for him, but decided against it because "the Mormon God is not my God."

Part of the strangeness comes from not accepting some developments within Christianity (such as the trinity), and also accepting that God hasn't stayed quiet for the last 2000 years. This leads to some strange ever-developing beliefs, that often have elements similar to other religions.

One belief that is popular in Mormonism (though I dont think it necesitates such a view), is that there never was a begining to time, space, matter, or gods. So the idea of there being a "first" superintelligence might not be appreciated by many Mormons. I've tried to think about this rationally, and I'm not sure what to make of it. But this is my thought process so far.

Have you read Harry Potter and The Methods of Rationality? Do you remember where Harry uses the Time Turner to try and solve a math problem? I think the universe could work on similar principles. Given an infinite amout of time, and the existance of super intelligence, we can assume the universe is already optimized along some divine order. Phrased another way:

If the multiuniverse has no beggining or end, then we could assume that the divine order (assuming it does exist) is also the optimal order which COULD exist, because any improvement which could have been made, was made an infinite time ago. Therefore the divine order has no beggining, and no end, and has always been the same.

And if super intelligences CAN exist, then they have ALWAYS existed, and therefore there is a divine order. In other words, if you think the universe and/or multiverse have always existed, and if you beleive that a super intelligence is possible, then it is not all that crazy to think something very close to Mormonism could be true.

Also, given the mathematics of Game Theory, I think it very likely that the optimal model which would develop is either something close to monarchy (One supereme being), or something like the Evolution of Cooperation (a more Mormon-ish model). I lean towards the latter because eternity is a repeated game and I can't imagine a scenario where only one super intelligence ever develops given an infinite time. Or that only one ever reaches the theoretical potential of intelligence in the universe.

I'm not theologican of physcist, and I'm sure my ideas have been phrased better by someone else, and refuted by someone else as well. But it makes me think that the chief question is not whether God exists, but what are the upper bounds of intelligence in the multi-verse given infinite time. And such a question cannot be answered meaningfully. Certainly there could be something "God-like". But where in the range between Einstein, the Greek Gods, the Mormon God, and omnipotent God that intelligence lies, I am not sure.

archon
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Re: "God, Creation, and Evil: The Moral Meaning of creatio ex nihilo"

Post by archon » Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:11 am

Okay, so the idea that the universe has always existed is one of those claims which require moving outside of the observable facets of the universe, in order to avoid thermodynamics, but quite frankly, we are talking theology, and so our definition of universe was always going to be a little bit weird, and have large chunks of it be observable.

The idea that a infinite universe must have reached a stable position is fair. It occurs to me that not all mathematical operations form stable trends as t -> infinity, but lets assume it has reached some broadly stable position. Having one super-intelligence seems like a simpler stable position - multiple different agendas with a infinite amount of time will have optimised against each other perfectly, and the odds that they are perfectly matched seems unlikely. (i.e. given infinite time, the odds that somebody wins the game to the extent that nobody can challenge them seem high, opposed only by the odds that some other state occurs - with the main alternatives being everyone dies, and a draw (or some other stable state of back and forth - a battle between god and the devil?)) So either we have one super-intelligence, or we have a group of them, with identical agendas, which is basically the same thing.

Given a infinite universe, containing a single agenda, I would expect that agenda to be optimised perfectly in the universe, to the limit of that beings ability, with puts us back where we were with theodicy, and trying to guess what divine agenda made this world optimal.

I agree, that given a infinite universe, and the assumption that that universe contains things in it [Citation Needed], we would probably have to assume that the optimal intelligence exists. (Whatever the optimal intelligence is).

TL;DR: I agree - but it kinda just leaves us where we started, asking what god thinks, that this is optimal.

Note, I keep saying "given a infinite universe". It seems a slightly odd assumption. The only reason to make it is that we cannot conceive of what would make nothing become something (my own reason really boiling down to "Because it could, and you wouldn't be complaining if it didn't"). So even though the observable physics-universe looks to have a finite beginning and end, people like to think the bigger picture is like that too. I'm not sure what to say about that.
"Don't be silly -- if we were meant to evolve naturally, why would God have given us subdermal implants?"

Raininginsanity
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Re: "God, Creation, and Evil: The Moral Meaning of creatio ex nihilo"

Post by Raininginsanity » Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:55 pm

The idea that a infinite universe must have reached a stable position is fair. It occurs to me that not all mathematical operations form stable trends as t -> infinity, but lets assume it has reached some broadly stable position.
I suppose that's true. I could imagine a scenario in which there are phases. One social order, replaced by another, replaced by another...Either never repeating or always repeating. Much like pi never repeats, or how the Big Bang->Big Crunch->Big Bang model always repeats.
Having one super-intelligence seems like a simpler stable position - multiple different agendas with a infinite amount of time will have optimised against each other perfectly, and the odds that they are perfectly matched seems unlikely.
The one being and multi-being models are about equally plausible models in my mind. Both have holes, but I think those holes aren't so large so as to be impossible to cross, even for one with as simple intelligence as me, let alone a super Intelligence.

I suppose more could be said on this front, but there's already a few too many assumed premises (that there never was just "nothing", followed by the idea that super intelligences could form an eternal stable society, though I have fairly high confidence that both of those are true). There's also so many possible directions for the model to take that I think I would need a decision tree just to keep track of them all.

My goal was more to put forth an argument that the idea of religion and rationality are not as impossible to reconcile as has been suggested in the past. But your right that the question of theodicy still exists. Ultimately, I don't think omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenovelence are possible to reconcile given the world we live in. A crack in any of the three and I think the issue is solved. But I just can't reconcile all three.

archon
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Re: "God, Creation, and Evil: The Moral Meaning of creatio ex nihilo"

Post by archon » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:14 am

Raininginsanity wrote:
Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:55 pm
I suppose that's true. I could imagine a scenario in which there are phases. One social order, replaced by another, replaced by another...Either never repeating or always repeating. Much like pi never repeats, or how the Big Bang->Big Crunch->Big Bang model always repeats.
Possible, but complicated. No-one said the universe had to be simple (except for Occam)
Raininginsanity wrote:
Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:55 pm
My goal was more to put forth an argument that the idea of religion and rationality are not as impossible to reconcile as has been suggested in the past. But your right that the question of theodicy still exists. Ultimately, I don't think omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenovelence are possible to reconcile given the world we live in. A crack in any of the three and I think the issue is solved. But I just can't reconcile all three.
I think I agree with you that religion and rationality are not impossible to reconcilable. It is hard though, sometimes. And yeah, I think I agree with you. All theodicy is deciding which crack you like best.
"Don't be silly -- if we were meant to evolve naturally, why would God have given us subdermal implants?"

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