• EnPassant
    56
    Richard Dawkins asks the question 'If complexity requires a designer, who designed the designer?' Good question. But does the designer need a designer?

    Dawkins' answer is that evolution needs a crane to lift it up by 'its own bootstraps'. Without a crane nothing gets going. Or so he argues. (Mount improbable is understood to be a crane.)
    But do all kinds evolution need a crane of sorts? Dawkins seems to forget that God is not a material, physical being. Apparently God would be 'nothing less than mind' (Keith Ward)

    Does mind need a crane to evolve into complexity?

    If mind is, in the beginning, simple it can evolve purely through contemplation. This has happened here on earth. For centuries people have been studying mathematics and now mathematics is one of the greatest and most evolved bodies of knowledge in the world.
    In set theory numbers begin by a process of iteration and partition.

    Start with /
    Iterate //
    Reiterate ///
    and so on ///////////////////////////
    Partition each step; /, //, ///, …

    and this gives us numbers which are the beginning of mathematics. Number Theory begins with the most primitive concepts.

    The discipline of Pure Number Theory evolved, over the centuries, from the contemplation of numbers. This is an evolution of mental things without the necessity of a crane.
    If God, in primitive form, spends eternity thinking about numbers could He not become complex, by contemplating primordial abstractions, without the need for a crane? This seems to be one way in which God's Mind could evolve into complexity.
  • DPMartin
    21
    God's Mind doesn't evolve, though there's something to the thought of eternity being used to His advantage or to accomplish creation. biblically He has been known to use His creation to accomplish. it would be difficult to understand eternity as in always was seeing we are here for a brief part of it.
  • Relativist
    86
    Knowledge entails information,and information entails encoding. The encoding of omniscience would be of infinite complexity.
  • Noah33
    1
    The creator in all his form, relies entirely upon his essence. The drive of man is a manifestation of that inner-consciousness which cannot be distinguished or separated from the will of the creator. Thus, the designer purely and simply extends his thought through the designer.
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    Dawkins seems to forget that God is not a material, physical being.EnPassant

    It’s not something that Dawkins has forgotten - it’s something that he has never known. Like most people nowadays, he has no understanding of the classical tradition of theism, the basis of which is ‘the Uncreated’: ‘one infinite source of all that is: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, uncreated, uncaused, perfectly transcendent of all things and for that very reason absolutely immanent to all things‘ [from D B Hart, The Experience of God.]

    Nearly of the ‘new atheist’ arguments are likewise based on a misconception of what it is they’re doubting; ‘straw God’ arguments, you might say. But they’re so utterly convinced of their own fundamental rectitude that it is impossible to point this out. But the caricatures which Dawkins makes out of God - the Flying Spaghetti Monster, orbiting teapot, celestial potentate - are indeed the figments of his own imagination. Just as he says.
  • GreyScorpio
    98
    But does the designer need a designer?EnPassant

    Most definitely the designer needs a designer. How can you justify something as complex as 'God' to have clicked himself into existence. Even if that were a plausible explanation for his existence, wouldn't that imply that God is his own designer, therefore, he would have a designer. The real question that should be asked is; How did God come into existence? How is he able to step in and out of time (This is an ability of his implied by his omniscience). There has to be a logical explanation for his abilities for him not to entail a contradiction because a logical explanation cannot entail a contradiction. If 'God' was all knowing, powerful etc. There would be no room for doubt on whether he exists or not.
  • EnPassant
    56
    Most definitely the designer needs a designer.GreyScorpio

    Not if the designer can know abstract mathematical complexity. This complexity can then be the basis for physical complexity.
  • GreyScorpio
    98
    I don't follow how this would warrent God to be able to pop into existence. Why is God exempt from logical rules if he can only do what is logically possible?
  • EnPassant
    56
    I don't follow how this would warrent God to be able to pop into existence. Why is God exempt from logical rules if he can only do what is logically possible?GreyScorpio
    The question is not about God's existence it is about how God can be complex without a designer. If abstract knowledge can exist in God's mind you have complexity right there; mathematical complexity.
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    How can you justify something as complex as 'God'GreyScorpio

    According to classical theology, God is not complex. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but it's part of the specification.

    How did God come into existence?GreyScorpio

    Strictly speaking, never did, except (according to Christians) voluntarily, by becoming incarnate as Jesus (and according to Hindus, in numerous other forms and avatars). But in the normal course of events, God is not among the inventory of 'things that exists', being transcendent. 'Existence' is what 'transcendent' is transcendent to.

    If 'God' was all knowing, powerful etc. There would be no room for doubt on whether he exists or not.GreyScorpio

    Again according to classical theology, humans are free to ignore God. It's part of what freedom entails; if humans were compulsorily made to know God then they wouldn't be free.
  • GreyScorpio
    98
    But you can't talk about god having a designer without talking about how he came to exist. Because that is the whole point, no? How did this complex knowledge come about in the first place?
  • GreyScorpio
    98
    Existence' is what 'transcendent' is transcendent to.Wayfarer

    I understand this - Kant did say that existence is not a predicate meaning that you can't explain God in terms of whether he exists or not because existence is not an adjective. But surely if God is completely supremely perfect and supremely logical then it is only fair to say that those that exist can only act on those that exist. It would be illogical to say that those that exist can act on those that don't and vice versa.

    According to classical theology, God is not complex. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but it's part of the specification.Wayfarer

    This would seem to downplay God as to what he is said to be. To be complex is almost another property that God should hold just like omnipotence and omnibenevolence. How can something so simple create a universe as complex as this. I understand that you could say that it may be complex to us but simple to God, but then that would entail that this being is not as people say he is.
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    How can something so simple create a universe as complex as thisGreyScorpio

    That's not something I would care to try and explain, or to expound on, but that is the classical understanding nonetheless. The problem is that we're situated in a generally very anti- or non-religious culture, and have learned about such ideas second-hand, often from sources who also have no real exposure to the traditional understanding. So misconceptions abound. Many of the atheist polemics against God are based on just those kinds of anthropomorphic projections.

    In any case, questions such as the nature of the divine simplicity are not really intelligible from the viewpoint of analytic philosophy. They come from a very different kind of mind, and a different age. It takes a lot of work to understand what it's actually saying.

    There's a current philosophical theologian, by the name of David Bentley Hart, whose book The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness and Bliss, attempts to address these subjects. The point he makes is that the God that is understood by the classical tradition, and the God that is disputed by many atheists, are profoundly different:

    whatever the New Atheists don’t believe in, it’s not God, at least not God as conceived by a single one of the major theistic traditions on the planet.

    Instead, the New Atheists ingeniously deny the existence of a bearded fellow with superpowers who lives in the sky and finds people’s keys for them. Daniel Dennett wants to know “if God created and designed all these wonderful things, who created God? Supergod? And who created Supergod? Superdupergod?”—thereby revealing his lack of acquaintance not only with Augustine and Thomas but with Aristotle.

    It was Aristotle who wrote that “one and the same is the knowledge of contraries.” Denys Turner, in his recent Thomas Aquinas (which makes a fine companion piece to The Experience of God), puts the matter like this: “Unless…what believers and atheists respectively affirm and deny is the same for both, they cannot be said genuinely to disagree.”

    There are, then, a great many people who say “God” and mistakenly believe that they have the notion, at least, in common. Hart is interested in clarifying the notion, and one of his deeper points is that the major theistic religions do indeed have something in common when they say “God.” 1

    And one of the facets of that, is the 'divine simplicity'. But it takes some work to understand.

    if God is completely supremely perfect and supremely logical then it is only fair to say that those that exist can only act on those that exist.GreyScorpio

    Very good point. How I would answer that (and I know my view is almost universally contested on the forum) is that the philosophical understanding of the relationship of God and creation was mainly derived from the Greek tradition, principally neoplatonism, and was originally grounded in the idea of the 'great chain of Being'.

    Now, the point about the great chain of Being, is that on different levels or 'domains', things exist in different ways. The reality of beings is determined by their proximity to the source - the source being the One (in neoplatonism) or, of course, God in mainstream theology (although whether these really are the same is in my view debatable.) But the hierarchy is based on an implicit understanding of 'degrees of reality', within which 'the world' - which is, roughly speaking, the domain of the empirical sciences - is only partially real, or an admixture of real and unreal, being and non-being.

    This is still visible in the 17th Century philosophers, Liebniz, Spinoza and Descartes 2, but the hierarchical understanding of the nature of reality has been almost entirely eclipsed in subsequent Western culture. The result of which is that we inhabit a 'one-dimensional universe' comprising things that either exist, or don't. There's no conception of modes of being, which was the subject of the older modal metaphysics. So, strictly speaking, we don't even understand how to ask the question, about what the meaning of the existence of God is, because if it's not something that's 'out there somewhere', then there's no conceptual space for it to be.
  • andrewk
    1.4k
    But the caricatures which Dawkins makes out of God - the Flying Spaghetti Monster, orbiting teapot, celestial potentate - are indeed the figments of his own imagination.
    Whoa there! The teapot is from Bertrand Russell who, I think it should be acknowledged, engaged charitably with Christianity while rejecting its claims, at least it seems that way from his discussions with Father Coplestone. I'd be pretty confident that Russell had read Aquinas and understood the claims of classical theism.

    And the celestial potentate - Alan Watts was discussing that in the sixties, long before Dawkins got involved. Watts had a typically nuanced perspective on that. Although he pointed to how comic that myth was, and how ironic it was that America was so proud of being a republic yet favoured a monarchic theology, he also stood up for it, saying that it was no less idolatrous than Protestant idolisation of the Bible, Paul Tillich's notion of Undifferentiated Ground of Being or an Enlightenment atheist's reverence for Progress. Watts was very pro-myth. He saw it as poignant that Protestant ministers would become enthused by all sorts of interesting notions of God in the seminary but then be expected to trot out simplistic Stern-Daddy-God platitudes to their congregations, because they paid his wage.
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    The teapot is from Bertrand Russell who, I think it should be acknowledged, engaged charitably with Christianity while rejecting its claims, at least it seems that way from his discussions with Father Coplestone.andrewk

    Well, perhaps in the original. But it has become part of the rubric of atheism as a kind of symbol for something that might exist, but for which there can be no evidence. (Actually Bill Vallicella has a pretty good article on it here.) That said, I quite like Russell, and he certainly had a much greater depth of understanding than many since. I got into University through a 'mature age entry exam' (a quaint custom), the great bulk of which was a comprehension test on Russell's Mysticism and Logic (just the kind of thing I went on to then study.)

    Watts had a typically nuanced perspective...andrewk

    What I had in mind was Dawkins' remark that the God of the OT is one of the 'nastiest characters in literary history' and like an oriental despot. Of course, Alan Watts is a completely different matter, one of my all-time favourite writers, even despite my disillusionment when I learned about his alcoholism. But he's a terrific writer and I would recommend his books to anyone - especially The Supreme Identity, Way of Zen, and Beyond Theology.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.1k
    I'd be pretty confident that Russell had read Aquinas and understood the claims of classical theism.andrewk

    I highly doubt that anyone has ever understood the claims of classical theism. It is the nature of that beast, that there is an element of unintelligibility there. That is what atheists like to poke fun at. But the unintelligibility inherent within such theism is the result of the deficiencies of the human intellect, trying to gets some principles to approach what is beyond the intellect's present ability to apprehend.

    This is a common, but not essential, difference between the atheist perspective and the theist perspective. The theist recognizes the vast reality which is beyond the capacity of human understanding, and that the unintelligibility of God is a reflection of this. The atheist tends to believe that all reality can be brought into human understand, like a theory of everything, or something like that.
  • EnPassant
    56
    Very good point. How I would answer that (and I know my view is almost universally contested on the forum) is that the philosophical understanding of the relationship of God and creation was mainly derived from the Greek tradition, principally neoplatonismWayfarer

    I think you are correct in this. Try to get hold of Simone Weil's Letter to a Priest.
  • andrewk
    1.4k
    The theist recognizes the vast reality which is beyond the capacity of human understanding, and that the unintelligibility of God is a reflection of this.Metaphysician Undercover
    My experience is quite the contrary of this. Most theists I've encountered do not recognise that at all. Instead they write and speak at length about alleged properties of God - what She can do, what She wants, what She thinks, what She has said, what books She has dictated.

    The theist that agrees that God is unintelligible and we can say nothing meaningful about Her is a rare beast indeed - but all the more admirable for that.
  • Marchesk
    1.9k
    Most definitely the designer needs a designer.GreyScorpio

    Sophisticated notions have God as the necessary being for existence, and not some additional thing of complexity that needs explaining.

    Of course one is free to disbelieve that there is any such thing as a necessary being. But then one can also turn around and say that the complexity of QM in the vacuum necessarily existed to get the universe going, or whatever it was.

    The explanation for why anything exists is going to run into an infinite regress, brute existence, or unknowns.
  • GreyScorpio
    98
    The explanation for why anything exists is going to run into an infinite regress, brute existence, or unknowns.Marchesk

    I completely agree, but does the idea of a necessary being sound logical to you? If anything this would disprove that there is a God overall as it would always lead to an infinite regression. How does a necessary being become necessary and what warrants that? Would that not then imply a designer also?

    I'm just prodding here by the way.
  • EnPassant
    56
    But you can't talk about god having a designer without talking about how he came to exist. Because that is the whole point, no? How did this complex knowledge come about in the first place?GreyScorpio

    As outlined in my first post, mathematics rests on very primitive concepts (essentially number as a set). If primitive knowledge can exist in God's mind it can evolve into mathematics, which is non physical complexity. But in God 'evolve' does not require time; perhaps God spontaneously knows mathematical truth, yet there is a logical abstract evolution in mathematics; one thing leads to another, endlessly.
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