Re: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Sat, 09 Dec 2006 16:13:48 -0800

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Tom,
> The question I am interested in is not whether it would be a *good thing* for a
> personal God to exist, but whether it is *the case* that a personal God exists.
> There are all sorts of things that people would like to be true, but that does not
> make them true.
> Stathis Papaioannou
In fact "the problem of evil" is that things people don't like, such as cancer, AIDS, tsunamis,..., exist in spite of the supposed existence of a loving, personal God.
If the world is impersonal, then there is no reason to suppose that it is all good or all evil, but a mixture - which is the way it seems to be.
Brent Meeker
> ----------------------------------------
>> From:
>> To:
>> Subject: Re: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)
>> Date: Sat, 9 Dec 2006 15:33:10 -0800
>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>> Le 04-déc.-06, à 08:34, Tom Caylor wrote :
>>>> The existence of a personal God who is not silent answers the questions
>>>> in a way that an impersonal god or reality does not...
>>> I certainly have a methodological problem with such an idea. This is
>>> due to my motivation in the subject. I am searching an explanation of
>>> what is a person, so assuming the existence of a person (any person,
>>> godlike or not) seems to me to beg the question...
>> In my view, your motivation is not large enough. I am also motivated
>> by a problem: the problem of evil. I don't think the real problem of
>> evil is solved or even really addressed with comp. This is because
>> comp cannot define evil correctly. I will try to explain this more.
>>> Note also that the major critics by the neoplatonists on Aristotle,
>>> besides their diverging opinions on the nature of matter, is the
>>> non-person character of the big unnameable, but then for Plotinus the
>>> "second God" (the second primary hypostase is "personal"), and indeed
>>> G* has a personal aspect from the point of view of the machine. I agree
>>> (comp agree) with Plotinus that the big first cannot be a person. The
>>> second one can. To be sure Plotinus is not always completely clear on
>>> that point (especially on his chapter on free-will).
>> None of Plotinus' hypostases are both personal and free from evil (as
>> well as infinite, which we agree is needed (but not sufficient, I
>> maintain!) for the problem of meaning).
>>> ...
>>>> An impersonal origin results in everything
>>>> finally being equal.
>>> Why? This reminds me Smullyan describing two possible reactions of a
>>> human in front of the comp hyp:
>>> 1) The human does not trust himself and believes that machine are
>>> stupid at the start. His reaction about comp is: "I am machine thus I
>>> am as stupid as a machine".
>>> 2) The human trust himself: his reaction with the comp hyp is "Cute, it
>>> means machine can be as nice as me".
>> Where you can really see that numbers are impersonal is in the fact
>> that they don't solve the problem of evil. Yes, Man is finite and cf
>> Sartre, Plato etc. is not a sufficient integration point within himself
>> for meaning. But man, as a person, is also noble and cruel in his
>> relationship with himself and other persons. With an impersonal core,
>> the universe/multiverse is totally silent in this area. With an
>> impersonal core, Man's alienation with himself and other persons is
>> only because of chance. With an impersonal core, man is simply
>> statistically out of line with the rest of the universe. With an
>> impersonal core, the only possible definition of "right" vs. "wrong" is
>> statistical (e.g. the average), and ultimately there is no difference
>> between cruelty and non-cruelty. As Marquis de Sade said, "What is, is
>> right". If we were all tied to a computer which takes the average and
>> spits it out as the current definition of "right", then after a while,
>> if it weren't for meaningless random fluctuations, it would filter into
>> a constant and we would all end up flat-lining.
>>> ...
>>>> Impersonal+complexity does not produce personal.
>>> I would like to see a proof of that statement. The comp first person
>>> seems to me to be a counterexample, unless you assume at the start the
>>> negation of comp (and weaker-comp).
>> See above paragraph. Impersonal+complexity produces something with
>> evil intrinsically in the mix, and no real solution can exist. See
>> below for more on this.
>>>> This is the problem Plato had. He knew that you need absolutes in
>>>> order to have meaning. Plato's gods weren't big enough to be the point
>>>> of reference needed to define a person. The gods and fates were
>>>> continuously fighting one another.
>>> You are right, but Plato did not know about Church thesis, or
>>> incompleteness.
>>>> I know you get some nice relative
>>>> forms, G*/G and all that. But in the end it is all meaningless.
>>> You are quite quick here. Why would machine's beliefs and hopes be
>>> meaningless?
>> You are talking about relative meaning, meaning relative to the
>> machine. This is why I said *in the end* it is all meaningless.
>> Meaning has to address evil and nobility. See below.
>>>> As
>>>> Satre pointed out, no finite point has any meaning without an infinite
>>>> reference point.
>>> I totally agree with Sartre's point here. Church thesis is exactly what
>>> gives an absolute infinite reference point.
>> OK, even saying for the sake of argument Church's Thesis gives an
>> absolute infinite reference point. This is not sufficient for solving
>> the problem of evil. When you change the language or reference frame
>> from one machine to the other, suddenly evil (in one machine's
>> perspective) gets redefined. This is the problem that happens for
>> example in marriage. The two person's see each other as a machine in
>> an impersonal universe, and the cycle of "I'm withholding love or
>> respect until I get love or respect from you" starts and doesn't end...
>> until at least one person makes the choice to tap into (and hold onto)
>> the ultimate Person who provides the infinite source of unconditional
>> love), resulting in the manifestation of nobility rather than cruelty.
>>> ...
>>>> Everything that there is is there. But this is the ultimate in begging
>>>> the question. The question remains, why is everything (I see) there?
>>>> Why do I exist?
>>> We have to accept something, if only because we cannot explain prime
>>> numbers without accepting the numbers, then comp explains why numbers
>>> talk like if they were sensible person, like if they were not numbers,
>>> like if they believe in a physical reality and beyond.
>>> And above all, G* explains why those beliefs are correct.
>>> I can indeed sum up a part of the interview by: machine will correctly
>>> discover their unnameable self and G* will correctly prove that such a
>>> self is not a machine from the first and third person point of view.
>> My view is that, yes because of the limitations of finite systems, cf
>> Godel incompleteness, certain things are unnameable *relative* to the
>> system, BUT that this does not necessarily imply that the absolute core
>> of Everything has to be unnameable by anyone. I claim that the
>> absolute core of Everything is nameable by the core Himself, a Person.
>> And He has told us His name: "I AM THAT I AM". He is infinite (we are
>> not), and He is absolutely good and loving (we originally were and will
>> be). More below.
>>>> Relative truth is ultimately useless when it comes to the end of my
>>>> life.
>>> I agree with you. It is really the discovery of Church thesis, which
>>> introduces a lot of "absoluteness" in math (Godel found this
>>> miraculous) that I have begin to take "mathematicalism" seriously.
>> Great. But again, because of the problem of evil, "mathematicalism" is
>> insufficient for a theory of absolutely Everything. The linguistics
>> philosophers confine themselves to too small of a territory.
>>>> I would paraphrase Brent Meeker and ask, "Why does 'blind' have to be
>>>> the
>>>> default?"
>>> If "non blindness" is introduced as an hypothesis, it will prevent at
>>> the start any possible impersonal (blind) explanation of "vision". Like
>>> putting consciousness in the neuron for explaining consciousness in the
>>> brain: this does not explain consciousness. Not only this does not
>>> explain consciousness, but it makes the search of an explanation almost
>>> impossible.
>> Is it not possible that reality indeed has a definite personal
>> character, even at the core? If so, then if you start with impersonal
>> blindness, i.e. "Everything is random" no matter how orderly is appears
>> locally, then you will never find the definite personal character of
>> the universe, because if you take this blind approach absolutely
>> seriously you will always ignore order and character and personality as
>> intrinsic. (Actually nobody does that consistently. See story at end.)
>>>> My response to Bruno addresses the assumption of
>>>> impersonality.
>>> I'm not convinced. The assumption of a personal God, like the
>>> assumption of an impersonal physical universe, explains nothing. Imo.
>>> It explains neither mind nor matter, nor ... God.
>>> Now, I have much more evidence---empirical and theoretical--- for a
>>> (probably impersonal and immaterial) God, than for a primitive
>>> impersonal physical universe, which I take to be a locally useful FAPP
>>> superstition which does not resist reflection and introspection, as I
>>> try to illustrate with machine's introspection.
>>> Bruno
>> Here is more on the problem of evil:
>> If we assume that there as been a continuous line of intrinsic evil in
>> the universe (as the impersonal core has to), then there is an unbroken
>> line between what man is now and what he has always been, i.e. man has
>> always had a thread of cruelty. With this assumption, then the
>> conclusion would have to be that of French thinker Charles Baudelaire,
>> "If there is a God, He is the Devil". For example in (impersonal,
>> pantheistic) Hinduism, there is constructive Vishnu and destructive
>> Kali. Also, Albert Camus noted that with such a core there is no
>> reason to stand against evil, for instance in helping widows and
>> orphans in Christianity, because evil is just part of the way things
>> intrinsically are. Finally, with such an impersonal core, with no
>> ultimately good personal God, there is no hope of a qualitative change
>> in man, since cruelty is intrinsic to the way man has always been.
>> The "later Heidegger" saw that this assumption that "man, the way he
>> is, is normal" leads to a dead end. However, his attempted solution
>> was only an epistemological solution. He put the discontinuity at
>> Aristotle, and called man's problem an epistemological abnormality,
>> rather than a moral one. By "moral" I mean a rejection of our origin
>> in the ultimately good Person. (I don't mean that evolution is false.
>> I mean *ultimate* origin.) However, Heidegger's solution was not
>> sufficient, since he did not define evil correctly, since evil can only
>> be correctly defined with respect to a Personal core. I maintain that
>> any impersonal core has this same instrinsic limitation.
>> Plato searched for a place to root his absolutes. Neither Plator nor
>> the neo-Platonists found the solution because their impersonal gods
>> were not immune from evil. The impersonal gods ultimately cannot
>> distinguish between man's finiteness and his cruelty. Only the
>> infinite personal good God has a character from which evil is totally
>> excluded. This is the only core for which a solution to the real
>> problem of evil is possible, so that everything can ultimately be
>> brought back into unity and wholeness.
>> Finally, regarding the unsolvable dichotomy in the impersonal (closed)
>> naturalistic system, Francis Schaeffer tells the following story:
>> "I remember sitting in a Lyons' Corner House near Marble Arch in London
>> some years ago, talking to a brilliant young physicist. I asked him
>> about the latest work he was doing, and he told me about a new idea
>> that he thought might solve Einstein's problem concerning
>> electromagnetism and gravity. He became very enthusiastic about this,
>> because I knew enough about the subject to stimulate him, and he was
>> far away in his thought. Then I brought him back by saying, 'This is
>> fine for the Christian, who really knows who he is, to say that the
>> material universe may finally be reduced to energy particles moving in
>> opposite directions in a vortex, but what about your naturalistic
>> colleagues? What happens to them when they go home to their wives and
>> families at night?' He paused for a moment and then said, 'Oh, Dr.
>> Schaeffer, they just have to live in a dichotomy.'"
>> Tom
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Received on Sat Dec 09 2006 - 19:14:08 PST

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