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

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

Post by SolenoidEntity » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:29 pm

Via nostalgebraist's tumblr, I came across David Bentley Hart's essay "God, Creation, and Evil: The Moral Meaning of creatio ex nihilo" (this page has a link to the freely-available full article) and found it an eloquent statement of an argument that I (some kind of agnostic) often find myself wanting to make about Christianity: that all of the conventional theodicies notwithstanding, the existence of hell is impossible to reconcile with the idea of a completely good God who freely created the universe. (Hart's conclusion from this is that all souls must ultimately be saved.)

Anyway, I'd be interested to hear thoughts about it from anyone who hasn't had enough discussions of theodicy since Unsong ended (or is otherwise interested).

(People who prefer to avoid discussion/descriptions of hell will probably want to avoid this.)

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

Post by Raininginsanity » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:33 am

I couldn't access the article, but hopefully I'm familiar enough with he debate to play as devils advocate. Ehrm...Gods advocate.

Let's skip the debate about whether the Bible actually endorses Ex Nihlo or not (i would argue it doesn't) and let's talk about the nature of hell.

Whose hell are we talking about? The Eastern Orthodox?
The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that heaven and hell are relations to or experiences of God's just and loving presence. There is no created place of divine absence, nor is hell an ontological separation from God. One expression of the Eastern teaching is that hell and heaven are dimensions of God's intensifying presence, as this presence is experienced either as torment or as paradise depending on the spiritual state of a person dwelling with God. For one who hates God and by extension hates himself as God's image-bearer, to be encompassed by the divine presence could only result in unspeakable anguish.
Is this type of hell inconsistent with a good divine being?

How about the Mormon God? Hell is a little hard to pin down in meaning in Mormonism and can potentially explain three places. One that is a place where spirits temporarily exist while they await for resurrection and to be taught the gospel (but is not a place of suffering) called Spirit Prison. One that is a place (or state of being) that is either as good or better than this world called the Telestial Kingdom. Or the last one which basically conforms to the Eastern Orthodox tradition where the suffering is created by ones self and not by God himself, and is only reserved for the worst sinners, like not even Hitler gets sent here.

Whose hell we are talking about is very important here. If God sends people who have never heard of Christianity to a pit of endless suffering because they were never baptized, then that seems like an arbitrary God not worth worshipping. A God used more as a political tool than anything else. I'm not sure what proportion of Christians believe in that sort of God or hell.

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

Post by archon » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:45 am

Raininginsanity wrote:
Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:33 am
I couldn't access the article, but hopefully I'm familiar enough with he debate to play as devils advocate. Ehrm...Gods advocate.

Let's skip the debate about whether the Bible actually endorses Ex Nihlo or not (i would argue it doesn't) and let's talk about the nature of hell.

Whose hell are we talking about? The Eastern Orthodox?
The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that heaven and hell are relations to or experiences of God's just and loving presence. There is no created place of divine absence, nor is hell an ontological separation from God. One expression of the Eastern teaching is that hell and heaven are dimensions of God's intensifying presence, as this presence is experienced either as torment or as paradise depending on the spiritual state of a person dwelling with God. For one who hates God and by extension hates himself as God's image-bearer, to be encompassed by the divine presence could only result in unspeakable anguish.
Is this type of hell inconsistent with a good divine being?

How about the Mormon God? Hell is a little hard to pin down in meaning in Mormonism and can potentially explain three places. One that is a place where spirits temporarily exist while they await for resurrection and to be taught the gospel (but is not a place of suffering) called Spirit Prison. One that is a place (or state of being) that is either as good or better than this world called the Telestial Kingdom. Or the last one which basically conforms to the Eastern Orthodox tradition where the suffering is created by ones self and not by God himself, and is only reserved for the worst sinners, like not even Hitler gets sent here.

Whose hell we are talking about is very important here. If God sends people who have never heard of Christianity to a pit of endless suffering because they were never baptized, then that seems like an arbitrary God not worth worshipping. A God used more as a political tool than anything else. I'm not sure what proportion of Christians believe in that sort of God or hell.
Okay, the article does cover this - I am not familiar enough with the christian sects to say which he intends to talk about, but he does cover many different possibilities, including the ones mentioned above.

Broadly speaking, the counterpoint is that God would not create people whose natures (or environs) doom themselves to eternal suffering, if he did not intend their suffering. (If literally no-one ever is damned to the Mormon hell, then it doesn't really matter morally, but creating it with the intent of damning any possible subset of souls is still evil, given you could have simply not created those souls, or not damned them).

So yeah. A god whose creations are incapable of enjoying his presence, and instead suffer eternally, is a flawed god (either in being unable to make better creations, or in not caring that they suffer)

(I would be genuinely interested in hearing your arguments with regards to Ex Nihlo - it seems like a potentially interesting, and I have never heard someone argue the negative in a christian context before - maybe make a new thread?)

As a second point of discussion - does any religion other than Judeo-Christian religion has the issue of theodicy. All of the other religions (the pagan ones in particular) has very flawed creators which allow for the existence of evil. The assumption of a single all-powerful, flawlessly good being seems like it was always going to cause trouble, theologically speaking.
"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 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:00 pm

Okay, the article does cover this - I am not familiar enough with the christian sects to say which he intends to talk about, but he does cover many different possibilities, including the ones mentioned above.
The article didn't work on my phone, but it does work on my laptop. I'll see If I can get around to it later today.
Broadly speaking, the counterpoint is that God would not create people whose natures (or environs) doom themselves to eternal suffering, if he did not intend their suffering. (If literally no-one ever is damned to the Mormon hell, then it doesn't really matter morally, but creating it with the intent of damning any possible subset of souls is still evil, given you could have simply not created those souls, or not damned them).
I have a hard time answering anything about eternal suffering because in Mormon theology (the one I am most familiar with), eternal suffering is not interpreted as "suffering forever". Mormons have a weird work around to this.
So yeah. A god whose creations are incapable of enjoying his presence, and instead suffer eternally, is a flawed god (either in being unable to make better creations, or in not caring that they suffer)
Something Scott posted today may catch your interest. The parallels between AI and Mormon theology. Just in time for this conversation!

http://jeremiah820.blogspot.com/2016/10 ... d-lds.html

Mormons, btw, do not think that God is omnipotent in the literal sense. In Mormon theology, if God were to lie, he would CEASE to be God. God did not even "create" us. Our "intelligence's" have always existed.
(I would be genuinely interested in hearing your arguments with regards to Ex Nihlo - it seems like a potentially interesting, and I have never heard someone argue the negative in a christian context before - maybe make a new thread?)
I don't have much to say on the topic. Mormons believe that God found "matter unorganized" and formed the earth from that matter. The creation of the universe isn't really spoken about, but its clear in the theology that it is not Ex Nihilo. Looking at the wiki page, there is debate on the topic within Christianity. It seems like the idea of "First Cause" and political reasons are why Ex Nihilo was accepted in the early church. But in the end, I have nothing to add to the convo that the wiki page doesn't have.
As a second point of discussion - does any religion other than Judeo-Christian religion has the issue of theodicy. All of the other religions (the pagan ones in particular) has very flawed creators which allow for the existence of evil. The assumption of a single all-powerful, flawlessly good being seems like it was always going to cause trouble, theologically speaking.
I agree. The combination of omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omni...goodness(?) seems contradictory and impossible to reconcile.

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

Post by archon » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:42 am

Raininginsanity wrote:
Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:00 pm
As a second point of discussion - does any religion other than Judeo-Christian religion has the issue of theodicy. All of the other religions (the pagan ones in particular) has very flawed creators which allow for the existence of evil. The assumption of a single all-powerful, flawlessly good being seems like it was always going to cause trouble, theologically speaking.
I agree. The combination of omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omni...goodness(?) seems contradictory and impossible to reconcile.
I believe Omnibenevolence is the conventional term.
Raininginsanity wrote:
Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:00 pm
Something Scott posted today may catch your interest. The parallels between AI and Mormon theology. Just in time for this conversation!

http://jeremiah820.blogspot.com/2016/10 ... d-lds.html

Mormons, btw, do not think that God is omnipotent in the literal sense. In Mormon theology, if God were to lie, he would CEASE to be God. God did not even "create" us. Our "intelligence's" have always existed.
I read that article (It was pretty interesting - I like finding that kind of parallel between the theological and the technological ) - from that, and the other things you have said about Mormon theology, it seems that vision of god lacks either omnipotence or omniscience - being merely very powerful and very wise, rather than being able to do literally anything, and knowing literally everything.

Raininginsanity wrote:
Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:00 pm
I don't have much to say on the topic. Mormons believe that God found "matter unorganized" and formed the earth from that matter. The creation of the universe isn't really spoken about, but its clear in the theology that it is not Ex Nihilo. Looking at the wiki page, there is debate on the topic within Christianity. It seems like the idea of "First Cause" and political reasons are why Ex Nihilo was accepted in the early church. But in the end, I have nothing to add to the convo that the wiki page doesn't have.
If my having gone to a Jesuit school has taught me anything, its that (At Least this subset of) Catholics believe very firmly in the First cause and the idea of Ex Nihlo.

In general, what I am getting from this is the theodicy is mostly caused by a specific subset of Judeo-Christian sects backing themselves into a corner, and is not a general problem for much of the world. In the cases of where it is an issue - mitigations like the one described in the article above don't really help with the issue. Scott's "Many Worlds" Theory of Theodicy sometimes Works, but it assumes a very consequentialist/utilitarian view of gods goodness. This is fine for me, but not everyone is a consequentialist/utilitarian.
"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 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:54 pm

I believe Omnibenevolence is the conventional term.
Ah, yes. Thank you.
I read that article (It was pretty interesting - I like finding that kind of parallel between the theological and the technological ) - from that, and the other things you have said about Mormon theology, it seems that vision of god lacks either omnipotence or omniscience - being merely very powerful and very wise, rather than being able to do literally anything, and knowing literally everything.
Mostly omnipotence is rejected. I think omniscience is still on the table, though I am not quite sure what that even means. One way I could imagine it is that if the universe were a simulation, then God is the sentient AI that runs that simulation. Very similar to how in certain mythologies we are manifestations of a gods dream. Strangely enough, the simulation hypothesis also has support in Mormonism. The hypothesis in this case would essentially be 'nested' simulations. Simulations within simulations. Like a Russian nesting doll. You can conclude from this that each universe has a God, and therefore God has His own God, and you would be right. That is in line with Mormon Theology. Another reason that omnipotence is rejected.
If my having gone to a Jesuit school has taught me anything, its that (At Least this subset of) Catholics believe very firmly in the First cause and the idea of Ex Nihlo.

In general, what I am getting from this is the theodicy is mostly caused by a specific subset of Judeo-Christian sects backing themselves into a corner, and is not a general problem for much of the world. In the cases of where it is an issue - mitigations like the one described in the article above don't really help with the issue. Scott's "Many Worlds" Theory of Theodicy sometimes Works, but it assumes a very consequentialist/utilitarian view of gods goodness. This is fine for me, but not everyone is a consequentialist/utilitarian.
I believe Catholics are firmly on board with Ex Nihilo. But you don't necessarily have to accept the doctrine to be a good Catholic either.

Theodicy is tough. Every person can come up with their own version, and so in order to prove that God is evil, you have to come up with arguments against not only the strongest argument, but also every iteration that can come out of its corpse (to paraphrase Scott). I very much enjoyed Scott's take on this issue, I hadn't read it before, but I think the chief disconnect is that Christians do not believe that the purpose of life is about happiness (with maybe the exception being Mormonism, "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy"). Life is a 'test'. That is why that AI comparison is so appealing to me. It is able to explain the idea of the 'test' in a way that I have never been able to. My dad and I had conversations on the topic when Ex Machina came out, but I hadn't picked up the idea since

I'm actually not sure what the point of this 'test' is according to other religions. In Mormonism it only makes sense to me because in the next life we are supposedly given responsibility. And for those who do really well on the 'test', they become Gods. As in create your own universe, create more sentient life, and start the process all over again. Something that should only be trusted to a moral AI. But in other christian religions the point of the test seems to be, "If you don't pass, no utopia for you." In Mormonism its, "If you don't pass, utopia wouldnt be utopia for you anyways. If you do not WANT to do good, then heaven is your hell. The only place where you COULD be happy is among people who have the same morality as you, and the higher beings just aren't going to trust you with authority. And if you reject all morality in favor of social Darwinism, well, the devil is your playmate. Go ahead and see if you can rule hell. It wont make you happy. You'll be miserable. But not even the existence of a divine being could convince you that happiness is found in something other than selfishness."

edit: I do get a kick out of a utilitarian God. I imagine a host of angels sitting behind calculators trying to figure out if Noahs Flood will increase or decrease happiness in the long run. One thing is for certain, a God that can flood the world certainly doesn't seem too invested in virtue ethics.

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

Post by archon » Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:50 am

Raininginsanity wrote:
Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:54 pm
Mostly omnipotence is rejected. I think omniscience is still on the table, though I am not quite sure what that even means. One way I could imagine it is that if the universe were a simulation, then God is the sentient AI that runs that simulation. Very similar to how in certain mythologies we are manifestations of a gods dream. Strangely enough, the simulation hypothesis also has support in Mormonism. The hypothesis in this case would essentially be 'nested' simulations. Simulations within simulations. Like a Russian nesting doll. You can conclude from this that each universe has a God, and therefore God has His own God, and you would be right. That is in line with Mormon Theology. Another reason that omnipotence is rejected.
At least among the people I talk to, omniscience is generally taken to mean the knowledge of literally everything - in the sense of knowing the postion and properties of every atom, every thought and action and meaning in the world, and the outcome of any action, such that every state of the world, past and future is known and understood in its entirety, and no jot of fact is left out.

Such a god would have no need of tests or armies of angels with calculators (Marvellous mental image, by the way.) - they would simply know which intelligence's were good, and which were not.

So, I do not think that Mormon theology believes in omniscience either - being able to see everything in the world is only a lesser form.

All in all, much more simple than the christian theology I have to deal with more often.
Raininginsanity wrote:
Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:54 pm
Theodicy is tough. Every person can come up with their own version, and so in order to prove that God is evil, you have to come up with arguments against not only the strongest argument, but also every iteration that can come out of its corpse (to paraphrase Scott). I very much enjoyed Scott's take on this issue, I hadn't read it before, but I think the chief disconnect is that Christians do not believe that the purpose of life is about happiness (with maybe the exception being Mormonism, "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy"). Life is a 'test'. That is why that AI comparison is so appealing to me. It is able to explain the idea of the 'test' in a way that I have never been able to. My dad and I had conversations on the topic when Ex Machina came out, but I hadn't picked up the idea since
Life being a test of worthiness is a generally pretty common idea in christian theology - it was pretty much universal through medieval times, if my understanding is correct (I believe the description is that your life on earth was just a antechamber to be endured, to find joy in the hereafter). Such a view is much less common these days - people want to be happy in the here and now, and the world seem much easier to change that it did a millennia ago.
Raininginsanity wrote:
Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:54 pm
I'm actually not sure what the point of this 'test' is according to other religions. In Mormonism it only makes sense to me because in the next life we are supposedly given responsibility. And for those who do really well on the 'test', they become Gods. As in create your own universe, create more sentient life, and start the process all over again. Something that should only be trusted to a moral AI. But in other christian religions the point of the test seems to be, "If you don't pass, no utopia for you." In Mormonism its, "If you don't pass, utopia wouldnt be utopia for you anyways. If you do not WANT to do good, then heaven is your hell. The only place where you COULD be happy is among people who have the same morality as you, and the higher beings just aren't going to trust you with authority. And if you reject all morality in favor of social Darwinism, well, the devil is your playmate. Go ahead and see if you can rule hell. It wont make you happy. You'll be miserable. But not even the existence of a divine being could convince you that happiness is found in something other than selfishness."
This is an interesting point, and it says a whole lot of things about the religion saying it. Mostly that god is either more invested in a particular system than in the happiness of humans (which means a single particular heaven is made - I don't think this is what you are saying, since this would just start the problem again), or that god is unable to change the nature of heaven or humanity, and only seeks to allow more of the later to access the former. This is much more interesting - it bypasses the idea of theodicy entirely.

Now to move away from actual theology, and into something which is much more a thought experiment / interesting idea.

One could envision a god who creates a different heaven for each person, perfect for them alone. So what might be seen as hell is truly heaven for the person who lives there, and would find my heaven similarly, hellish. I don't think many Christians envision such a heaven, but it is a interesting possibility.

In particularly, one can imagine that such a god would not want to create new people to populate such a heaven, since such would necessitate their eventual deaths and moving on the another, more distant heaven of their own (and if our world is such a heaven - who is it heaven for?). Instead such a god might only be able to create a heaven for certain types of people, those who do not require the unhappiness or relative lack of others to be happy. So selfless or solipsistic people, or the merely happily mediocre, live in world tailored for them and them alone, interacting with others where it makes both happy, but not ever doing harm or creating unhappiness with accidental or inevitable misdeeds as they might in life, which those who must prove themselves richer or greater than others (and thus requiring others to be their inferiors - one who derives joy from competition could simple be placed with other similarly minded sorts, and allowed to compete eternally), or those who simply revel in the suffering of others, are prevented from reaching a heaven, simply by the lack of a other to put down.

Such a religion would thus produce a interesting morality - do not take joy in suffering, find happiness either in a way that can be shared, or alone, but do not be so different from the crowd that you are unique, since you might find yourself damned to solitude if nobody in the cosmic scheme wants to hang out with you more than someone else (improbable, but not impossible).

Such a god is quite interesting - but not what we are looking for in the study of theodicy, I think. (It also manages to be Omnibenevolent, and Omniscient, but not omnipotent). Are there any implications I missed?
"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 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:51 pm

I'm not sure about omniscience. If God exists, then I give Him a 50% chance of being perfectly omniscient in the strong sense. If God were to exist outside of time, then that could seem very omniscient while not necessarily requiring it in the strong sense. Or if we're more loose with the term God, then it could mean a million things. An active but unorthodox Mormon friend of mine, when pushed for Bayesian confidence levels, said that he is 80% sure God exists in some form. And given His existence, 95% confident that He is intelligent, and 30% sure He is conscious. His vision of God is probably closer to what Spinoza described. And if God is the "sum total of the physical laws of the universe", then omniscience is a given...in a sense. Or if God is a council, something more in line with Mormon thought than Spinozas God, then a set of beings could collectively have a form of soft omniscience in their collective knowledge.

Here's a thought experiment, if neurons are independent agents, and neurons give us consciousness, then can a set of beings that are perfectly "one in purpose" give rise to a form of consciousness through their collective actions? In other words, can a set of AI with exactly the same goals give rise to a 'higher' AI? What does this mean for the Trinity 3 in 1 model? What does it mean when Christ says that we should be one with him even as he is one in God? I think Hinduism has some interesting things to say about that (monist versions of Brahman).

OR, if God is omniscient, then the "life as a test" model could be more of a training ground for us. God is training his model. He knows the test results, but the training still has to happen because of his lack of omnipotence.
Life being a test of worthiness is a generally pretty common idea in christian theology - it was pretty much universal through medieval times, if my understanding is correct (I believe the description is that your life on earth was just a antechamber to be endured, to find joy in the hereafter). Such a view is much less common these days - people want to be happy in the here and now, and the world seem much easier to change that it did a millennia ago.
Life could be conceived of more like a school in Mormon thought. Something that is required for progress, but also solidifying who you are as a person/soul. The after life would be like college where your education is completed so that you can work.

The God of Old and the New Testament has been fading away and replaced by something that doesn't care about "tests". I agree with that point. It's sort of sad to me because I feel the transition has happened because of lack of understanding and abuse of the "test" model rather than any sort of intelectual challenge.
This is an interesting point, and it says a whole lot of things about the religion saying it. Mostly that god is either more invested in a particular system than in the happiness of humans (which means a single particular heaven is made - I don't think this is what you are saying, since this would just start the problem again), or that god is unable to change the nature of heaven or humanity, and only seeks to allow more of the later to access the former. This is much more interesting - it bypasses the idea of theodicy entirely.
I didn't quite understand what you were saying here. Could you rephrase it?
One could envision a god who creates a different heaven for each person, perfect for them alone. So what might be seen as hell is truly heaven for the person who lives there, and would find my heaven similarly, hellish. I don't think many Christians envision such a heaven, but it is a interesting possibility.
That's interesting. Who's Heaven could this earth be? I'd go with the devil. :p Cast out of Heaven for rebellion. Claims to be the god of this earth. Earth as hell, a heaven for the devil...I mean, if the devil voluntarily decided to try and tempt humans, then one way of looking at it is that this is the best possible world the devil could imagine. In all the universe, he could not conceive of doing something better with his time.

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

Post by archon » Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:55 am

Raininginsanity wrote:
Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:51 pm
I'm not sure about omniscience. If God exists, then I give Him a 50% chance of being perfectly omniscient in the strong sense. If God were to exist outside of time, then that could seem very omniscient while not necessarily requiring it in the strong sense. Or if we're more loose with the term God, then it could mean a million things. An active but unorthodox Mormon friend of mine, when pushed for Bayesian confidence levels, said that he is 80% sure God exists in some form. And given His existence, 95% confident that He is intelligent, and 30% sure He is conscious. His vision of God is probably closer to what Spinoza described. And if God is the "sum total of the physical laws of the universe", then omniscience is a given...in a sense. Or if God is a council, something more in line with Mormon thought than Spinozas God, then a set of beings could collectively have a form of soft omniscience in their collective knowledge.
See, I'd put a very low percentage on a god having strong omniscience (<1%). Just because of the number of other quantities of knowledge a hypothetical god could have, and the fact that knowing the outcome of every possible action makes action kinda pointless for a bunch of possible motivations. I agree about the existing out of time thing - That would produce a level of knowledge with resembles strong omniscience, without actually producing it. (It has issues with regards to describing the state evolution of a entity outside of time - you need another meta-time, I think.) That idea works well for a testing kind of god.
Raininginsanity wrote:
Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:51 pm
Here's a thought experiment, if neurons are independent agents, and neurons give us consciousness, then can a set of beings that are perfectly "one in purpose" give rise to a form of consciousness through their collective actions? In other words, can a set of AI with exactly the same goals give rise to a 'higher' AI? What does this mean for the Trinity 3 in 1 model? What does it mean when Christ says that we should be one with him even as he is one in God? I think Hinduism has some interesting things to say about that (monist versions of Brahman).
Neurons aren't particularly effective agents, but I will give you that. I wouldn't say the agents need to be particularly one in purpose - just enough so that working together is more efficient that staying apart. Our civilisation could probably be modelled as a single entity, and a corporation definitely could be (and regularly is). In all these cases, the goals of the super-agent don't much resemble the goals of the agents. So, I think a set of simple AI's with compatible goals can give rise to a larger AI Quite easily, in some senses.

This is a interesting model for the holy trinity. Nobody really talks about the origin or goals of the trinity (Who I get the impression have different goals, or at least different methods, from other another. Especially if one is willing to interpret scripture more literally than I think is wise).

I like the idea of god as a celestial bureaucracy composed of all the dead souls who were sufficiently compatible in nature to join. It's has potential - especially in the direction of mormon-style testing god. Maybe not so worth it to try and enter (What happens to souls not capable of enjoying heaven in mormon theology).
Raininginsanity wrote:
Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:51 pm
Life could be conceived of more like a school in Mormon thought. Something that is required for progress, but also solidifying who you are as a person/soul. The after life would be like college where your education is completed so that you can work.
Re: my previous question - why do we want to work? is it necessary for out continued existence? What is the cosmic unemployment rate?

I think that the idea of earth as a proving/testing/teaching ground is a good one for some models of theodicy. We learn what we have to. the only issue is that some people completely fail to learn their lessons, and a omniscient god could have planed better one (or a omnipotent god created better learners or just created people who already knew). Not a problem for the Mormon god, though.
Raininginsanity wrote:
Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:51 pm
The God of Old and the New Testament has been fading away and replaced by something that doesn't care about "tests". I agree with that point. It's sort of sad to me because I feel the transition has happened because of lack of understanding and abuse of the "test" model rather than any sort of intelectual challenge.
I think this is probably a better reason that the one I came up with - it makes more historical sense, and I was just kinda groping around for answers.
Raininginsanity wrote:
Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:51 pm
This is an interesting point, and it says a whole lot of things about the religion saying it. Mostly that god is either more invested in a particular system than in the happiness of humans (which means a single particular heaven is made - I don't think this is what you are saying, since this would just start the problem again), or that god is unable to change the nature of heaven or humanity, and only seeks to allow more of the later to access the former. This is much more interesting - it bypasses the idea of theodicy entirely.
I didn't quite understand what you were saying here. Could you rephrase it?
Okay, I'll try. So, if only a single heaven (which only a subset of humans are capable of enjoying) exists, this either means one of two things:

a. God does not care to change it - preserving the nature of heaven is preferred to allowing more people to enter.
or
b. God is powerless to change either the nature of heaven (to allow more people to enter) or the nature of people (to make a higher percentage of the population of humans able to enter the heaven which exists).

a. bypassed the problem of theodicy by saying god is not omnibenevolent, and b does it by saying he is not omnipotent.
Raininginsanity wrote:
Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:51 pm
That's interesting. Who's Heaven could this earth be? I'd go with the devil. :p Cast out of Heaven for rebellion. Claims to be the god of this earth. Earth as hell, a heaven for the devil...I mean, if the devil voluntarily decided to try and tempt humans, then one way of looking at it is that this is the best possible world the devil could imagine. In all the universe, he could not conceive of doing something better with his time.
That's a good answer in a theological context. There are few enough people in the christian mythology that would suit for it to be anyone else. I kinda like the idea of there being a single entirely mundane (very good work choice in this case, considering the root of that word) person, for whom this world in its entirety has been created, just so that he can sit in front of a television eating dinner and being glad he isn't starving in Africa.
"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 » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:13 pm

This is a interesting model for the holy trinity. Nobody really talks about the origin or goals of the trinity (Who I get the impression have different goals, or at least different methods, from other another. Especially if one is willing to interpret scripture more literally than I think is wise).

I like the idea of god as a celestial bureaucracy composed of all the dead souls who were sufficiently compatible in nature to join. It's has potential - especially in the direction of mormon-style testing god. Maybe not so worth it to try and enter (What happens to souls not capable of enjoying heaven in mormon theology).
I shouldn't take complete credit for this idea. I was inspired by this 4-part entry on Melting Asphalt (which I think also has implications for "The Fall").
Re: my previous question - why do we want to work? is it necessary for out continued existence? What is the cosmic unemployment rate?
Call this the dichotomy between Hedonic utilitarianist wire-heading (see Lotus Thrones) and Christian Teleology with a protestant work ethic. I do not want wire-heading. I think such a future is dytopian. So what do I want to do for all eternity? Probably something that brings me flow. Which is work. In Mormonism they say Godhood is like parenthood. That doesn't sound as appealing to me as saying "perpetual and eternal flow". Even if the work is hard or sad at times (the Mormon God cries when he explains to Enoch about the flood that is coming). Given perfect bodies, and near omniscience, whatever work it is that brings flow sounds like exhilarating work.

Okay, I'll try. So, if only a single heaven (which only a subset of humans are capable of enjoying) exists, this either means one of two things:

a. God does not care to change it - preserving the nature of heaven is preferred to allowing more people to enter.
or
b. God is powerless to change either the nature of heaven (to allow more people to enter) or the nature of people (to make a higher percentage of the population of humans able to enter the heaven which exists).

a. bypassed the problem of theodicy by saying god is not omnibenevolent, and b does it by saying he is not omnipotent.
I would agree with that. I don't see how to reconcile omnibenovelence with omnipotence...Unless maybe you take out omniscience, in which case you might have an incompetent all powerful benevolent God, which is kind of scary.
That's a good answer in a theological context. There are few enough people in the christian mythology that would suit for it to be anyone else. I kinda like the idea of there being a single entirely mundane (very good work choice in this case, considering the root of that word) person, for whom this world in its entirety has been created, just so that he can sit in front of a television eating dinner and being glad he isn't starving in Africa.
I love it.

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