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'The God Hypothesis'; Science and God

To: Usenet
From: tyagi nagasiva (
Subj: 'The God Hypothesis'; Science and God (
Date: 49920128

Quoting: |Sean Hartigan

|Why I think the "God" hypothesis is useless:
|    All experience is fundamentally incomprehensible. That is: We only make
|"sense" of it by giving bits of it names and then describing the patterns
|of interaction of these bits. But are we any closer to understanding
|what an electron is, once we have given all it's properties names ("charge,"
|"spin," "mass," etc.) ? No. All we have done is given some things we don't
|understand names.  Sir Arthur Eddington on quantum mechanics: "Something
|unknown is doing we don't know what." 
|This is not to say science is useless, or that it doesn't tell us anything.
|Only that it can only describe patterns of relationship between named things,
|things we can never understand except in terms of the names we give them.
|Fundamentally, all is mystery.

Naming is knowing.  To name a form and be able to predict its regularity
of appearance is to 'know' it, in the sense of recognition.  To categorize
it, using scientific methods, allows us to recognize it further.  This is
the same sense of 'knowing' something as one 'knows' one's family.  The
more we are familiar with the forms of things, the more we know them.

Understanding is achieved through comparision and contrast.  This is the
way which we categorize and comprehend our experience and this is the way
we categorize and comprehend objects of the material world.  By listing the
characteristics of a thing (its 'properties') we come to know it better.

Not only does science allow us to come to recognize certain regular patterns
in the material world, it also allows us to predict which patterns are
likely to occur in future circumstance.  To the extent that we may predict
the outcome of a given action, so do we 'know' things about the elements
of that action.  We predict that the lead weight will drop from a height of
3 meters and that it will kill the poor bunny which we have meticulously
placed at the target.  Granted a good aim at the neck, we must say that
the resulting 'kerplop-squash' validates our knowledge of physics and 
rabbit physiology.

|What does this have to with God? Well, God doesn't get us out of this 
|"God", "soul," etc. are just more names for things that would remain 
|forever mysterious.  There is no escape from mystery, even if God exists. 
|We finally will know no more about the nature of things than we do now. 
|Fundamentally, God makes no difference. All is mystery now, all will 
|eternally be mystery.  

Experience which has meaning that extends beyond the immediate time and
place in which it occurred is valuable in that it allows us to arrive at
conclusions that would otherwise be beyond our ability.  I make a careless
comment to my friend.  My friend reacts in a VERY hostile manner.  I can
intuit, from my experience, that my friend finds something painful in the
experience she is having, whether that includes my words or no.  After a
number of similar reactions to the same words, I can conclude that she
feels hurt by my careless comments.  I may then go on to postulate what
exactly brings out these feelings (i.e. a previous experience, the way that
she interprets them, social definitions of terms, etc., etc.).

The point is that the experience had more meaning in it than the simple
events themselves.  I was able to understand this meaning by trial and
error, and come to some conclusions based on this understanding about
how I can interact with my friend in the future.

God is similar in this way.  If I have an experience of God, perhaps I
cannot describe this experience, yet I find out that this experience has
particular effects on the way in which I behave and feel.  After reading
about others who claim to have similar experience I notice that they are
ALSO behaving in these ways.  I conclude that God is ASSOCIATED with 
certain feelings and behaviors.  God is therefore less of a mystery to 
me in that I can see relationships between many of those who have had
an experience of God, whatever this may be.

When I see something I know it more than if I had never seen such a thing.
The more I experience a thing the more I know of it, the more I know it.
The more experience of God I have, the more I come to know God and how
to recognize God in my life.  Therefore, one could postulate a 'science
of religion', in which one engages experience of God, compares results
to other such 'scientists', hypothesizes based on these results, and then
repeats the experiment again.  While one cannot have the same experience,
neither can one perform the same scientific experiment.  The conditions
can be duplicated to within certain standards, however, and these can be
carefully measured so as to assure success.  This is how I describe
'orthodox mysticism'.

|n.b. The Hell business might make a difference subjectively, but I think 
|Christianity/Islam/Judaism, unlike the God hypothesis, is pretty much

Christianity/Islam/Judaism are not hypotheses and therefore, your claim
that they are 'falsifiable' is meaningless.  If you think that these rich
and extremely diverse traditions have only a few hypotheses which do not
include ideas about God, then I recommend more study.

|Does God exist? We will never know, nor will it make any difference.
|Is literalist Christianity true? An easier question, to which it is possible 
|to say "no" with some degree of confidence. But my main argument here is with a
|non-sectarian vision of God. 
|[some material deleted]

The answer to the first question depends largely on what sort of 'evidence' you
consider valid.  If one needs objective, verifiable evidence, I suggest that
this may prove impossible yet we may be asking for the wrong evidence.

It is reasonable to assume that evidence may only be had THROUGH experience
and thus each individual must make the judgement on their own.  Why is it 
'reasonable' to assume that evidence may only be had THROUGH experience?

I submit that this is due to God's nature, AS a subject.  My own answer to
the question of God's existence is that this is a foolish question.  In my
experience God both does and does not exist and transcends the evaluation

Is 'literalist Christianity' true?  Again, this is not a hypothesis so your
confidence in saying 'no' to its truth is meaningless.  If you think that
the many sects who interpret the many versions of The Bible literally are
all incorrect, I'd like to see your basis for that statement.  My experience
is that they have most of the words right but that their interpretations leave
something to be desired.  The Bible has validity in my experience, but not
in universal fashion - only subjective validity.

What is a 'non-sectarian' vision of God?  My understanding of this phrase is
that it is an oxymoron.  Each sect has their own interpretation of what God
IS for them and how God lays down Hir Rule.

Further argument upon request.


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