Tuesday, April 04, 2006

My Evolving Beliefs - God

I find that I do now believe in God. Since being freed from the limiting reaches of Positivism I feel comfortable holding beliefs on metaphysical matters that transcend what we can possibly know at this time. That is if we shall ever know. When stuck between two different options, like belief in God vs disbelief in God, it is downright foolish to choose no sides when it is on such a matter of great import. If one wishes to be intellectually honest then one must make a decision and live _as if_ one option were true because it serves as the bedrock for nearly all further beliefs and actions in life.

The existence of God is no small matter and those who live under the title of "agnostics" are really choosing to live under the assumption that no God exists. Without a positive belief then a non-belief is essentially the same as a negative belief. This is a true utilitarian understanding of Pascal's wager. I don't believe in the afterlife, but I understand how this belief will directly affect my current life and so I must play.

Now, one does not need to pretend that one's beliefs are necessarily true or that they must be free from criticism or any other silly category that people put their special beliefs in. One just needs to recognize the nature of the beliefs as a matter of faith - different from the more reliable method of empirical study and rational thinking. We must find some belief to build on in order to move on and create a philosophy that we can live with. Some shaky belief system based on pragmatism and hedonism just doesn't lead to a fulfilling life or conceptual progress. We must move up in order to move on.

I find that I cannot conceive of a Universe that just sprang into existence by itself. I find that all the intricate and specific laws on which our Universe operates leads to an ordered existence that I cannot believe was a cosmic accident. I find that when I study the extremely intricate and complex biochemical pathways through which our cells produce energy or through which it stores genetic information or through anything that makes life as we know it possible I am struck with a sense of awe and I cannot make sense of it unless I suppose some kind of design.

Some people might say this is my failing. That I am performing a prime example of the fallacy of incredulity - that because I cannot imagine it possible so I am saying that it cannot be true. But this is not so. All I am saying is that since I personally cannot seriously imagine it possible then I personally cannot believe it to be so. I only further and further strain my credulity when I try to conceive of natural or accidental ways in which this all could have come to be. Claiming otherwise is just foolish and dishonest to myself. I may be wrong. The evidence may fall against me in future days. But right here and right now I cannot believe it all to be some amazing coincidence and I must posit some Creator and some Designer which made the whole of Existence.

I do not necessarily propose that this Creator is conscious or intelligent or omniscient or omnipotent. Much less omnibenevolent or emotionally loving or parental. All I propose is that this Creator would be called God. This God is the Rock of the Universe. The Sustainer of all that is. What is the nature of God? Why did it do this creating? These questions and the like I cannot answer. Nor do I claim to be able to answer.

I am also not proposing that this God operates in supernatural ways or interferes with reality as we know it with miracles and wonders. I believe that evolution occurred and I reject "ID" as a scientific theory. My belief is based on evidence and my reaction to it but it is not constructed positively and cannot be called scientific. It is a matter of faith.

More to follow...

44 comments:

B. Spinoza said...

Interesting. I don't agree with you, but I find it fascinating that you arrived at this conclusion

happywithhislot said...

Holy Smokes!
Now can you at least change the Daat emet tagline to write what its TRUE main goal is?
PS. I could never get to see your comments re using religion as an excuse. But wondered what you thought of last nights apprentice.

Mis-nagid said...

"it is downright foolish to choose no sides when it is on such a matter of great import."

How is your do-nothing god of great import? You complain that "agnostics" are crypto-atheists because they de-facto act in a manner without god-belief, but so does your theism! Exactly how does your new-found theism change a whit of what you do? You wrote "and live _as if_ one option were true." How does one live "as if" there is a Creator that is not "conscious or intelligent or omniscient or omnipotent[ , m]uch less omnibenevolent or emotionally loving or parental [nor] operates in supernatural ways or interferes with reality as we know it?"

Mis-nagid said...

"Some people might say this is my failing. That I am performing a prime example of the fallacy of incredulity - that because I cannot imagine it possible so I am saying that it cannot be true. But this is not so. All I am saying is that since I personally cannot seriously imagine it possible then I personally cannot believe it to be so."

Huh? So it's not a fallacy if it's appeal to PERSONAL incredulity?

satyaman said...

I agree with your instincts, however, what does this mean for your Judaism? For me, although I have a firm conviction in a creator, I have an equally firm conviction in the man made nature of Judaism. Like you, I am an orthoprax, albeit with a more intense awareness of a metaphysical reality.

David Guttmann said...

You have achieved the first level of addressing the obligation to understand the first foundation of Judaism. There are 12 more to go. You seem to be young so there is hope. You did more than one who does not try.

I say first level, because the method is a little flawed. You arrive at God's existence as the Creator or if you wish designer.You might try to do the same exercise from a more basic idea of First Cause or Mover. That is not necessarily temporal.

Jewish Atheist said...

How is your do-nothing god of great import? You complain that "agnostics" are crypto-atheists because they de-facto act in a manner without god-belief, but so does your theism! Exactly how does your new-found theism change a whit of what you do?

What mis-nagid said.

lakewoodyid said...

Mazel Tov.

You graduated step 1 of Godol Hador's "steps to going up", as he describes it in his post:

"Ups & Downs"

*Going Up*

But how could the universe just come into being by itself?
If the universe is here, then it’s probable that some Supernatural Being created it.
If some Supernatural being created it, then it’s probable that there is a purpose to it.
If there is a purpose to it, then it’s probable that the Being enabled us to figure out the purpose.
If we can figure out the purpose, then it’s probable that one of the religions has at least a partial answer.
If one of the religions has at least a partial answer, then it’s probable that Judaism is it.
If Judaism is correct, then the Torah is from God.
If the Torah is from God, then the Torah is amazing!


When you reach the last one, we'll throw you a party.

jewish philosopher said...

The lynch mob is forming. Prepare to be banned from frumskeptics.

dbs said...

What mis-nagid & JA said. (Or you can see my blog for the long version.)

kasamba said...

You are one articulate guy!

No matter what any of the others say, in my view you have fulfilled the first mitzvah of actively seeking Hashem.
I also think that beyond faith there is the concept of recognising something spiritual as true. It is our 'pintele yid'.

Shlomo said...

So much to say I don't know where to begin.

Shlomo said...

Re: Pascal’s Wager

If this God is as inconsequential in life as you claim, then I would assume that he would remain equally inconsequential, if not more so, after my death. All this, of course, based upon the assumption of substantive change to the content or tone of the Universe by my life or death.

I would turn Pascal around. I’m not a betting man. Let’s say I take his bet, live my life according to the 1000s of rules the religion asks of me and then, come the moment after my life ceases, I find out (providing there is some consciousness available to find out) that I wasted my entire life following meaningless regulations and ended up forgoing many wonderful experiences and pleasures because of it. On the scale of posthumous regrets, I would choose the life of freedom and experience over the life of control-freakism and needless self-restraint each and every time.

Besides what evidence is there to suggest this God would be any more accessible after death than it was beforehand?

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

"Interesting. I don't agree with you, but I find it fascinating that you arrived at this conclusion"

I don't think we're really that far apart. You're just picky on the nature of "God."

Orthoprax said...

Happy,

"Now can you at least change the Daat emet tagline to write what its TRUE main goal is?"

It has it's own tagline already. If you want to disagree with it, then take it up with him.

"PS. I could never get to see your comments re using religion as an excuse. But wondered what you thought of last nights apprentice."

Alright, I'll send you an email. I'll find it somewhere in my collecting online correspondence.

Orthoprax said...

Mis-nagid,

"How is your do-nothing god of great import? You complain that "agnostics" are crypto-atheists because they de-facto act in a manner without god-belief, but so does your theism! Exactly how does your new-found theism change a whit of what you do?"

Did I say theism? Not quite. But anyway, the way I act may not be directly affected by what I believe. I am just being honest in saying where my current thinking lies.

Positively believing - that is - having the willingness to put myself on a side without forever straddling the fence allows me to move on philosophically. It allows me to found a system of belief and make progress even while I recognize the possibility that I may be wrong.

It allows me to believe that the prayers I say are directed towards a real thing. We may not have any idea of what its nature is really like and over time many poets and theologians may have created metaphors and applied characteristics which it actually does not possess - but nonetheless I do not have to feel like a complete hypocrite when I sing its praises.

It allows me to see all of religious Jewish history as a people who had a sense of this divine thing and who set their life's goal into struggling to understand it and its implications. Were they always right? Hardly. Did they go down some dead ends? Sure. But that God is at the end of the day a real concept and a real object allows me to accept Judaism as more than a superficial set of social behaviorism. It allows me to appreciate the soul of Judaism which is of far greater value than any utilitarian benefits so bequeathed to us.

Orthoprax said...

Mis-nagid,

"Huh? So it's not a fallacy if it's appeal to PERSONAL incredulity?"

No, not at all. I am not claiming that it _cannot_ be true because I cannot imagine it so. I am explaining that I cannot believe it so because I cannot imagine it so.

It is explanation, not a false claim of deduction.

Orthoprax said...

Satyaman,

"I agree with your instincts, however, what does this mean for your Judaism?"

See my response to Mis-nagid.

And wait for future posts.

Orthoprax said...

David,

"You have achieved the first level of addressing the obligation to understand the first foundation of Judaism. There are 12 more to go. You seem to be young so there is hope. You did more than one who does not try."

I don't suggest you keep your hopes up. The concept of God has always been a gray area for me. I don't foresee the issues dealing with things like Biblical authorship or Rabbinical exegesis resolving themselves any time soon

"I say first level, because the method is a little flawed. You arrive at God's existence as the Creator or if you wish designer.You might try to do the same exercise from a more basic idea of First Cause or Mover. That is not necessarily temporal."

Same difference. That was included within the statement that I cannot believe that the Universe just popped into existence by itself.

Orthoprax said...

SL Aronovitz,

"Re: Pascal’s Wager"

As I explained in my post, it's not exactly your grandfather's Pascal's Wager. It's about a way of thinking and acting in this world that changes, not some possible benefits in a future existence in some afterlife.

Shlomo said...

Yes. But can you be so sure of any future benefits in this one?

Ben Avuyah said...

Kudos to you, if you have found something that works for you...

But in the tradition of skepticism I will try to be a little picune with your statement.

You recognize design, as do we all in the world around us. It can be biochemistry or traffic patterns, different people sense this in diffrent places.

I have two thoughts about design. One is the usual human limitation...we often see design in random patterns. Our minds are hardwired to pick up repetitive suquences out of the static that we can make use of, the side effect of such a utilitarian mind is that we often intuit design as a necessity when we encounter something that appears organized.

But even when we cannot shake this feeling why does it prompt you to jump to the supernatural over the unobserved....

You see design therefore something metaphysical must of created us ? How do you know you werent created by the intelligent being living one galaxy down to the right for his viewing pleasure, to whom you may be nothing more that a piece of mold gone mobile.

As a skeptic you will need to justify the leap to the metaphysical over the far more straightforward answer of unobserved/unknown. The difference between the former and latter being the involvment of the supernatural.

B. Spinoza said...

>As a skeptic you will need to justify the leap to the metaphysical over the far more straightforward answer of unobserved/unknown. The difference between the former and latter being the involvment of the supernatural.

Ben,

to me, metaphysical does not imply supernatural. I think of Supernatural as something which contradicts the natural order. While metaphysical is something which is related to nature but not made of matter/energy and is not any kind of body. An example of this would be an idea or thought. God is something which includes everything, both physical and metaphysical.

Orthoprax said...

SL,

"Yes. But can you be so sure of any future benefits in this one?"

I'm confident that there are. Did you read my response to Mis-nagid?

Ben Avuyah said...

Spinoza,

I am no expert in the exact defenition, but I have always thought of metaphysics as all inclusive of ontology, theology, first principles etc....of which I would consider the supernatural one possible subcatergory.

I don't know if I would Qualify a "thought" as metaphysical just becuase we can not yet point to the neuron/mechanism of occurence. It may (depressingly) turn out, that our brilliant ideas, insights, and epiphenies, are as regular and disinteresting as the sinoatrial nodes electric control of the heart beat. Basicly a light switch on a timer.

Definitions aside, I don't feel that God is an appropriate term to discuss the unknown becuase it has religious implications that portend decisive knowledge of a beings will.

There may be some creature that emcompasses everything, as you suggest, but there may not be, or there may be three that share it unequally, begrugingly, in a constant battle.

I tend to find the reworking of the definition of god unhelpful becuase in the end we are still stuck with no information to base anything on, a woeful state from which to postulate anything.

B. Spinoza said...

>I am no expert in the exact defenition

neither am I.

>of which I would consider the supernatural one possible subcatergory.

I think of supernatural as the product of a person's imagination. When people don't understand the natural cause they imagine a supernatural cause as the place holder

>I don't know if I would Qualify a "thought" as metaphysical just becuase we can not yet point to the neuron/mechanism of occurence.

I think you're missing my point. Even if we could associate a mechanism which is a associated with an idea, the idea itself is still not a physical think. it can't be measured and it is not located in space. the neuron is not the idea itself

>Definitions aside, I don't feel that God is an appropriate term to discuss the unknown becuase it has religious implications that portend decisive knowledge of a beings will.

I do not think of God as unkown. I don't think God has will either (at least not as we humans have)

>but there may not be, or there may be three that share it unequally, begrugingly, in a constant battle.

Not if you undertsnad the concept as I do. I don't have all the answers worked out, but I look at an infinite eternal being that is the cause of everything as neccessry. And obviously there can't be more than one

>I tend to find the reworking of the definition of god unhelpful becuase in the end we are still stuck with no information to base anything on, a woeful state from which to postulate anything.

We are essentially discussing how we humans understand ultimate reality. i think it is useful. I am not looking for an arbitrary idea, but one that is true. I think it is something that is worth looking into

Orthoprax said...

Ben,

"One is the usual human limitation...we often see design in random patterns."

True, but anyone will acknowledge order in the universe and objects within the universe. I'm not recognizing design, I'm recognizing order. What I see, however, is that design is a better explanation for this order than is luck or an accident.

"But even when we cannot shake this feeling why does it prompt you to jump to the supernatural over the unobserved...."

Well, I don't know what supernatural means, but I don't believe that some alien in the next galaxy existed "before" the universe itself.

some guy said...

While metaphysical is something which is related to nature but not made of matter/energy and is not any kind of body. An example of this would be an idea or thought.

I have to agree with Ben that "thought" does not appear particularly metaphysical. There are many thinking entities besides us, natural and artificial. Is the computer program I wrote this morning metaphysical? Well, to run it certainly requires matter and energy, but then so does a human brain. Hmmm. That's not to say there haven't been great debates over the nature of thought (which still go on, usually within the "Consciousness" literature), but "thought" and "idea" do not in themselves seem particularly metaphysical.

haKiruv said...

Great post Orthoprax. Keep up the good work.

haKiruv said...

P.S. I wrote a similar blog post which involves positivism.

kasamba said...

Ahh, now we get into Descart territory; 'If I think, therefore I am'.

Anonymous said...

Did you arrive at this conclusion after much debate on the nature of evaluation and never found an answer?

Why is it, that you purpose your philosophical thinking that most of it is just intuitive, non-factual, subjective perspective, that is bound to change by circumstances beyond your control?

In conclusion: agnostics maybe 'practically' atheist, however 'essentially' they're far from it. For the theoretically perspective that nothing can be essentially proven -or more correctly put, that nothing can be held true- in the philosophical realm, and thus on the nature of god, Can be the only objective philosophical truth a man possesses

havhareh said...

"But even when we cannot shake this feeling why does it prompt you to jump to the supernatural over the unobserved...."
ben
>Well, I don't know what supernatural means, but I don't believe that some alien in the next galaxy existed "before" the universe itself.
ben, ortho

Obviously anything that has always existed would have to be supernatural i.e. beyond 'possible' explanation.

Therefore, even if a galaxy existed we still have to apply the natural order to it, i.e. a beginning. Thus the enigma of how it occured- must include a supernatural, otherwise that itself constitutes superantural.

David said...

Congratulations, OP. It must have been all of my great arguments :-)

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"Did you arrive at this conclusion after much debate on the nature of evaluation and never found an answer?"

My post here really has very little to do with evolution.

"Why is it, that you purpose your philosophical thinking that most of it is just intuitive, non-factual, subjective perspective, that is bound to change by circumstances beyond your control?"

I've seen this debate from every angle you can imagine. There is nothing conclusive either way. To decide then you must make a choice not wholly based on objective facts for the objective facts lead you nowhere.

"In conclusion: agnostics maybe 'practically' atheist, however 'essentially' they're far from it."

Ok fine. Then I'm an agnostic who decided to make the assumption that God exists. Until one is willing to accept this positive belief then being an "unbeliever" in terms of atheism or agnosticism is simple wordplay.



havhareh,

"Obviously anything that has always existed would have to be supernatural i.e. beyond 'possible' explanation."

Yes, but that something "always" existed is not an assertion that I've made here.


David,

"Congratulations, OP. It must have been all of my great arguments :-)"

Sure sure. But really, if you read over my blog, you'd see signs of this way back from during the summer. I've hinted at it numerous times but never went out and said it like this before.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ortho,
Some food for thought here, hopefully kosher for Pesach.


So the complexity of the universe pushes you to hypothesize a God.

Problem with asking questions or even basing ones conceptions of the origin of the universe based on our common sense perception of how Existence should or shouldn’t be, is that once one talks of Existence he is in very murky water. Existence is impossible to understand because ‘understanding’ is all about classifying it with other existents so that when talking of the total existence it doesn’t apply.

In order to address these issues we have to delve deeply into the core essence of existence and what really is complex structures [if one simple rule inevitably builds a complex system then it’s really not complex.] and why it feels silly to claim that a complex structure is just here by chance.
I for one think that by understanding these issues we will find that it’s not intuitively silly to see self existing complexity; [without any ‘outside’ force] actually I see it as perfectly rational and comfortable.
I’m not sure if I will be able to convey my thoughts easily so please forgive the lack of clarity. I hope that this will shed some light on this issue and maybe help us all [by discussing this]

I’m looking at existence as bits of info, [in truth there is no way to describe/define existence see above.]
Imagine a computer has 100 bits of information [I’ll describe these information bits as we go along] now we throw in to the mix an info byte of the existence of a simple object. Going back to the info bits, lets say that Seven of the above pieces of info are info bytes that would render this simple object non existent, for example, the simple object is a chair and there is info of a fire raging close by that will consume it in seconds. Yet for every annihilating bit of info there is an info of some kind of solution, an info [#2] that saves this from info #1, let’s say that info # 2 is that there is a fire extinguisher that is spraying it’s chemical and it extinguishes the fire. Info # 3 is that there is a pin that doesn’t allow the extinguisher to work, info #4 is that this pin can be taken out. Info #5 is that this type of extinguisher works only if directed to the source of the fire, info # 6 is that this extinguisher has an extension hose that can be stretched to the source of the fire. In the end we have 7 annihilating factoids and 7 ‘saving’ factoids. The rest of the info are completely neutral i.e. irrelevant to the saving or destructing of the object.

I will ‘ask’ this computer if according to all its info will this object end up consumed or not. By the simple fact of this computer ‘knowing’ its info [which is tautologically true, for if it has the info then it knows it] it will have to know that the way this object can be saved is by culling from all its info the seven ‘saving’ factoids to counteract the seven annihilating ones.

The computer will answer me by enumerating as follows. You’ll take the fire extinguisher, you’ll take out the pin, and you’ll connect the hose extension and direct it to the source of fire….. and so on enumerating all seven saving bits of info.

It has constructed a complex set of instructions on how to save this object yet the process is being done by simply ‘knowing’ all these facts. A computer that knows all these hundred bits of info will inevitably know the seven step process of how to save this object from those seven annihilating factoids.



.

In the same vein of the above but looking at it from a different angle I would say that the whole reason we are so intuitively opposed to self created complexity is because each part of this complex whole has been already defined by us as a separate entity which by definition means that its natural place is not to be together with these other components. the only natural way (i.e. the only way how by definition of the concept of this one component) where we can say that it belongs to be together with these other components is on a statistical basis, i.e. when it happens enough times that one of these should be this combination.
So in the end it’s all about what this existent really is (that’s what’s meant by ‘the definition’ of this existent, its essence) and if this existent is a part of this whole combination this is what it is right from the get go then there is nothing opposing it from being such.

My point above can be better understood by remembering that the only thing that ever ‘bothers’ us about a certain aspect of reality is when there is some part of reality that claims it to be different. [this is really the concept that the only truth there is, is the tautological truth, and the only untruth there is, is when you simply contradict yourself.]

Another point where I respectfully disagree with you is that I don’t see what you add with your God.
I do see myself beholden to the facts of things, if I see the facts as being A then I can’t also see it as B, so in a certain sense one can say that I am ruled by existence, an existence which will tell me to be ethical by realizing that my reality sees myself as the same in every way as the next person (we need to discuss this some more) An existence that will also show me that Everything that happens is not dependent in me (the ‘me’ is after all just a combination of many existents, and just a part from the whole big existence there is really no separate entity that is ‘me’) it’s existence doing is thing so that I realize that I am not in charge.
In sum, my God-Existence asks from me the same thing that any conventional God will ask, yet I am not hypothesizing any more than the facts of existence.

It’s strange how we project on God our concepts of what we call Intelligence, Will etc. at the time when these concepts are not even true when talking about ourselves. Intelligence means just knowing reality very precisely as shown above with the computer analogy. Will is just a projection of what we perceive reality to be.

Yet please realize that as any conception of Existence, my conception of God still stays in the realm of metaphor. So that I find nothing wrong to have a metaphor of God as having a personality [that is in the even that this is the common perception of God, for why should I fight it.] The problem starts when we start questioning the metaphor and we don’t realize that as metaphors go it is completely irrelevant and that the underlying abstract concept is as strong as ever.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"...and if this existent is a part of this whole combination this is what it is right from the get go then there is nothing opposing it from being such."

Tell me if I'm wrong, but your ideas sound basically similar to the Platonic school of thought wherein things are the way they are because that's how they must be necessarily. A follows B follows C and the initial determines precisely the final.

That's fine and all, by my point is not so much design in itself, but the necessary implied order of the universe that makes such design possible in the first place. It may be that DNA is a necessary construct given the basic building block(s) of reality, but how can this ordered system of reality come to exist by itself?

If existence itself were to somehow bring itself into existence I would expect chaos, not order. Though I admit that such a statement is the utter height of speculation.

"Another point where I respectfully disagree with you is that I don’t see what you add with your God."

My God is the assertion that the universe was not an accident. It is a denial of modern explanations which make the universe out to be some cosmic roll of the dice formed without reason and without sense.

Granted, the implications of such an assertion may have deep consequences in terms of philosophy (for if it was no accident, then what was the purpose?) but I have yet to explore fully down that path.

Anonymous said...

Ortho,
No it's not about a certain 'order' in the initial building blocks of the universe, it's about taking my analogy of the computer to the next step, namely by imagining that whatever info the computer has that is relevant to this chair is automatically acted out, [remember, in the real world of existence it is not only a peice of info but it actually Exists in precisely the way we have info about it] then we will have a complex machine that has happened simply by the existence of these 7 negative and 7 positive existents.

I'll have to admit that the above needs some better explaining but my point only was to show that when talking about the essence of existence we have different parmeters. Sure it goes against common sense as well it should, for all our sensibilities and understanding start from step 2, i.e. after taking existence as a given and just trying to classify it within itself. So that it is very hard to conclude anything about Existence without going very much out of the box.

And that is why I couldn't agree more to your words "Though I admit that such a statement is the utter height of speculation."

Another point,
You are explaining the universe in terms of commonly understood characteristics like 'reason' 'purpose'. But I argue that maybe we should study carefully what we really mean by saying 'John did this for a purpose' we will find that it's a very complicated concept and that in its abstract form it loses all the 'purposfullness' that we are so used to.

So rather than creating Man in the image of God or mabye creating God in the image of Man, let us first understand this image of man in the first place.

Shternzeyer

Shtern_Zeyer said...

Let me try to explain it to myself a bit more

We have here this existent; every existent is basically a concept, an idea, a state of being. Let’s say that we have here a fact of this object (object A) here moving forward, this is the fact of existence (a very uncomplicated fact) Please note that the only way this existent can cease to exist is when there will be another existent that its definition, its essence, its existence will be the fact of voiding existent A, otherwise this is here to stay. Now here we have another existent, say an object B that is positioned in the path of A. Can we now say that this object B has accomplished our abovementioned requirement and that there is no more existent A? Let us remember that right now we are talking as if there are NO other existents at all. So my question is does existent A [that this object is moving forward] get contradicted by existent B [something standing in its path]? My answer is no! A can still be true even if B exists. So existent A has not stopped being, for it can circumvent this obstruction by going around it, and remember there is nothing that restrains it from going around the object, there are no laws of motion, for nothing exists other than these two abovementioned existents. Our guiding light is that A has to continue being as long as any other existents don’t annihilate it, for after all how can you void this A just like that? Once the “this is moving here” is a fact of existence then it continues on. Please note that the “this is moving ahead” does not talk about the details how precisely it does so, as far as existent A is concerned it is not relevant how it does it. [the details are a product of all kinds of restraints that we envision already in place, it goes here and not here etc. but our universe doesn’t have it right now so we don’t have all these details]

So we agree that this existent is still here even if existent B is around, then we agree that existent A inevitably means that it goes forward by circumventing B, by going around it.

Now let’s repeat this one more time i.e. lets say that while circumventing the object there is another obstacle, it we will then repeat the above formula and say that existent A by dint of it being existing [which it is, for there is no other existent that voids it] is existing in a fashion that is not held up by existent C, i.e. circumventing C.

Once we see how by the mere fact of A existing alongside B we have established the existence of A to be such as to circumvent the B obstacle. All we have to do now is multiply the obstacles and the circumventions and we have an existence with amazing amount of complexity [in our case I’d say that it twists and turns in every which way] where all it’s components are helping to achieve the goal of it continuing to exist.

Same is with a person;
A person who subconsciously sees himself as being healthy and is confronted with a situation that he knows [even subconsciously] that it’s not healthy, I would say that the subconscious of him being healthy is actually a subconscious of him not doing this specific act together with all the criteria that is necessary for this act not to happen [he has to run away, swing over a bridge or whatever. It all is part of his subconscious, and his subconscious is his being, his existence, This is what he is, this simple thing.

Whenever a we say that the a person does something for a purpose it ultimately means that by definition his existence simply claims that he is a person that does X.

To me it seems that this is the idea the Kabbalists wanted to convey with Tzimtzum. First unhindered existence, [by ‘first’ I don’t mean first in time, I mean first in how we will conceptualize it all] then obstacles i.e. paths that have been cut off from our previously unhindered existence, it has been confined = Tzumtzum , and confined once more and so on till we have here something where its path has been hindered in so many ways which made it go in the path of least resistance so that no it has a very complex pathway. And in the end we will see a thing going in all kind of complex ways to reach the goal of its continued existence.

Again I know that all of the above is not clearly explained and possibly not even understood completely by me. But at least it shows that the whole of Existence has a complete different way of being fathomed, or does it?

I’m curious if you see anything at all in all of the above?

B. Spinoza said...

Shtern,

wow. I only skimmed your posts so far. It's a lot to think about.

I have one quick question. I'm not sure about this statement:

"Existence is impossible to understand because ‘understanding’ is all about classifying it with other existents so that when talking of the total existence it doesn’t apply."

Is understanding only comparing things with other things? I'm not too sure about that. I think that may be one level of understanding, but a higher level of understanding is to understand the essence of the thing without comparison

Shtern_Zeyer said...

Spinoza,

When understanding the essnece of anything it still is all about classifiying. Say your trying to explain a rubber ball to someone who never has seen one, so you say, well, the shape of it is like a grapfruit and he asks you what is a grapefruit, forget it you say, it's like an apple but no luck here either he hasn't seen an apple either. You would gladly show the shape with your hands but your talking to him on the phone (so a phone he does have,huh?), Ok so forget about the shape let's go to texture, you tell him that it has rubbery feel to it, oops he never felt rubber, actually he never felt anything at all so you cannot explain it to him right?
Actually its the proverbial explaining color to a blind man.

When you explain or define something it is ALWAYS only classifing with other things that you already experienced. The experience as of in itself is just an existence without classification.

Even when Newton explained the motion of the planets through the law of gravity, all he really did was take a bunch of facts and categorize it in one concept i.e. gravity and law of inertia. So now instead of asking for an explantion how is it that the moon moves (to which he answered Gravity) the question is how is it that there is Gravity.

Orthoprax said...

Shternzeyer,

"...namely by imagining that whatever info the computer has that is relevant to this chair is automatically acted out,"

Ok, I think I understand you. Information itself, as bits of independent data, is existence and not whole physical objects or energy or whatever, right?

I don't understand though how this would help you understand existence itself. Does this information hold itself in being or is it in some larger complex? Where did it come from?

"what we really mean by saying 'John did this for a purpose'"

I think it means that it has a desired end in mind. To do something with intent is also to want to acheive something, right?

"All we have to do now is multiply the obstacles and the circumventions and we have an existence with amazing amount of complexity [in our case I’d say that it twists and turns in every which way] where all it’s components are helping to achieve the goal of it continuing to exist."

So the universe is a kajillion independent "existences" which only form the world as we know it by virtue of not cancelling each other out? Complexity is the building-up of inherent characteristics to keep one datum from contradicting another.

Sounds wild.

I'll have to think about what that means.

It is a fascinating approach, but that still doesn't help us understand where these datums come from. Or are you saying that they've "always" (not in terms of time) existed.

Again, I'll need to think it over.

Shtern_Zeyer said...

“Ok, I think I understand you. Information itself, as bits of independent data, is existence and not whole physical objects or energy or whatever, right?”

Yes and no, please understand that existence is simply indefinable yet it seems to me that the closest we can get to talking about it is when we use the metaphor of ‘concepts’. In which case it can be called information bites.

“I don't understand though how this would help you understand existence itself. Does this information hold itself in being or is it in some larger complex? Where did it come from?”

But this is not a question about complexity, you’re basically asking why Is rather than Is Not, I would answer first off why Is Not rather than Is. But in a deeper sense I would say that by the mere fact of not having any reason for one way or the other we just accept it as it is. [It’s a little bit like the law of motion that the natural state of things is to be what it is, if it moves it will continue…… etc. it is against common sense but ultimately there is no preference for existents to move or not, the same goes the its existence in total]
In any case this is a separate question which I assume doesn’t place you in God camp.

“ I think it means that it has a desired end in mind. To do something with intent is also to want to acheive something, right?”

See above [one the post before Spinoza] ‘the same is with a person” for a little more in depth elaboration please check out what I wrote under the name עני בפתח ooni-bapesach here http://hydepark.hevre.co.il/hydepark/topicarc.asp?topic_id=1614149

In my opinion want is just our perception of reality, and that is why when we will learn to face reality meaning we will just see the facts as they are then we will never have a want that is not fulfilled, call it whatever name you want, ‘peace with yourself’ peace with the whole’ or maybe stoicism.

“Again, I'll need to think it over.”
You betcha, and so do I.

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