Dear sir, when you hear me coughing … it’s not me offering any condemnation of this view … no matter how much it might sound like it … and no matter how much people are laughing at my coughing.
Dear sir, when you hear me coughing … it’s not me offering any condemnation of this view … no matter how much it might sound like it … and no matter how much people are laughing at my coughing.
My real problem with the “sufficient complexity” hypothesis is the fact that the things that are possible or not in the universe are dependent on laws which were always present, so personal identity is something that had to always be present in the universe, at least as a possibility. Saying that it emerges from a neural network of sufficient complexity seems to me like saying that the laws of the universe changed to accomodate consciousness once suficiently complex systems came into existence, which is nonsense. It is perfectly consistent that evolution would create complex organisms with complex neural networks in a world without the possibility of consciousness, they would be philosophical zombies, however. The fact that we are not claims for an explanation, the most coherent one in my view is that consciousness is fundamental in some way, which could be through models like panpsychism or by the pre existence of immortal souls which become embodied into bodies with brains. I particularly believe in the second one, but going from what I said first to that conclusion is indeed a leap of faith. I think your arguments only reinforce the validity of these problems. I find the view of the soul as being a physical part of the universe very problematic, so I must confess I find the “outside of space and time” hypothesis very interesting.
I personally believe in both these things, but I think only the first one is really mandatory. One could imagine a non-personal principle which grants these things to personal beings like us (even though that is not what I believe), don’t you think?
Actually, it is exactly your line of thinking (or part of it) that compels me to believe that if there is any Consciousness in the Universe … Then: there is a Supreme Consciousness.
Consciousness is irrelevant and meaningless with out a Supreme Consciousness. Without such a Supreme Consciousness, neither the individual, nor the population of individuals, nor the Cosmos would need consciousness to perform the exact same tasks without it.
I think that the existence of consciousness certainly opens the possibility for the existence of a supreme consciousness, but it opening a possibility doesn’t necessarily mean that it actually exists, that is my main problem with ontological arguments for a maximally great being like Plantinga’s, just because a MGB could in principle exist, it doesn’t follow that it does (though I personally believe it, but i recognize it as a matter of faith).
oh, I understand… this is the objection Atheists typically have with my view.
You aren’t an atheist, are you?
For me, it is the very proof of God… because I just can’t accept the idea that the Universe has no supreme being and yet STILL supports consciousness.
Technically, I allow that this is not the most rigorous of conclusions… but I don’t need rigor to know that if I were to constantly review the words to the song “Dust in the wind” , I would become most vulnerable to depression… and I think most humans would be equally vulnerable to this inclination of the biological brain!
… All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Thanks Christy for raising this objection. It is quite relevant for this thread and I answer it here with pleasure (also because the original thread where you posted it is locked):
According to my explanation all cultures today that share a human body are Image Bearers. Therefore, even if they do not have writing systems, they are NOT less image bearers or less moral.
The reason for this is that at a certain time T in history God made the first humans in His Image (Genesis 1:27). By this act God definitely chose the kind of body His Son would take at Incarnation: Jesus Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). In that way the human body became the sign of being Image Bearer.
It is obvious that before time T no population can be said to be in God’s Image.
So the crucial question is:
How do we ascertain this time T when God makes the human body in His Image?
It seems to me we all agree that at the latest time T can be set when Writing appears.
If someone can provide convincing reasons to predate the moment when God makes the first Image Bearers I will wholeheartedly change my view. Nonetheless the discussion in the original thread of your post shows pretty well that Language cannot be considered a clear sign for the creation of the first Image Bearers, no matter whether they were a single couple (as @agauger assumes) or a population (as I assume).
So for the time being the safest solution seems to be Writing.
Today all cultures, also they without Writing, are Image Bearers.
Before God created the first population of Image Bearers (at the latest at the time when Writing appears) no creature was bestowed with capability for freely loving God and therefore no creature was accountable toward Him and capable of sinning.
Notice that the personal identity of spiritual beings like us cannot be granted by our consciousness because we lose this “thing” while we are sleeping. Therefore to be coherent you have to invoke a being that is someone conscious uninterruptedly, someone who can always say I AM: Someone whose name is YAHWEH.
By the way, this is NOT an ontological argument: We are going from existence of limited beings (who do not yet have eternal life and name) to the existence of the Unlimited Being who LIVES and IS.
Imagining “a non-personal principle which grants identity to personal beings like us” means nothing other than refer to space-time continuum as the substrate of our existence. This amounts to making the space-time to an idol. In fact the “Golden-Calf of space-time” is the most ancient Idol of humanity. Quantum physics has ground to powder this Idol!
So quantum physics comes in support of George:
Definitely we are not “dust in the wind”, we “live, move, and have our being” in a loving and merciful God.
Happy Sunday of Resurrection to you all!
Well, I agree with all you said, but an atheist could still say “yeah, I’m saying space-time continuum (or whatever lay outside of it) is the substrate for our existence, what is wrong with that? The bible may say it is idolatry, but if there is no God, then the bible has no authority. And even if there is a God, how can you be so sure that it is the christian God/YAHWEH?”. While as a christian I don’t hold these views myself, I do recognize them as valid objections and I don’t see how we can prove them wrong. At the end of the day, faith is still required to make such statements as true, even if they are perfectly consistent with our current understanding of physics.
In my view there are two sorts of atheism: the classical or pre-quantum atheism, and the post-quantum one.
The classical atheism (for instance Karl Marx’ “historical materialism”) is based on “scientific materialism” and argues that the space-time continuum (“matter”) is the substrate for our existence. This “materialism” was tricky because we all intuitively tend to consider space-time as a continuum substrate. Christianity was able to overcome this materialism because “by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3). By contrast “classical deterministic science” reinforced it. Now classical atheism is old-fashioned because it clearly conflicts with today’s quantum science.
The post-quantum atheism cannot deny the outside of space-time and therefore the spiritual realm. And since by acknowledging this realm one is led to acknowledge God, this atheism tries to escape this conclusion in two main ways:
Referring to the outside space-time as “Nothing”. It is the atheism of people like Lawrence Krauss, who invoke quantum physics to claim that the universe comes from “Nothing”. His argument amounts to give God the deceptive Fake Name: “Nothing”, similarly to Odysseus who called himself “Nobody” to deceive Polyphemus.
Introducing the Multiverse: However this is self-defeating in the end because one acknowledges that there are realms of existence that are not accessible to our senses. And this is the same as acknowledging that there are beings existing outside space-time, or in other words that the parallel worlds are worlds existing in God’s mind.
So these arguments are not arguments in favor of atheism but rather in favor of the existence of God.
If atheists do not accept their own free will and personal identity, then you cannot prove them wrong. These two principles are the basis of any knowledge, and in particular science. If someone doesn’t accept free will and the spiritual component of human beings you cannot prove him/her wrong because the very notion of proof disappears. But then one cannot take anything seriously, in particular rights, and this attitude may become dangerous if it becomes generalized.
By the way, my argument amounts to say that my personal identity is warranted neither by the continuum space-time nor my consciousness. Thus to warrant it an always conscious and enduring being is required, that is, a being who can uninterruptedly claim “I AM” (in Hebrew “YAHWEH”). It happens that this is the Name the God of the Bible claims to be His name. So the God of the Bible is not a Premise but the Conclusion of my argument.
In response to @AntoineSuarez over in the never-ending Venema/Buggs thread:
Thanks for the information on how Catholic doctrine and the “functional” interpretation of the image of God are compatible. I am aware of Barth, of course, but I have never studied the finer points of Catholic teachings on the issue.
While we agree on many things, I am not persuaded by theories that place Adam at a recent time. It’s a disjunctive proposition that makes a mess of human history and concepts such as free will, spirituality, morality, personhood, and, yes, even sin.
For example, the sentence right before section 7.2 reads: “Thus Genesis 2:7 can be read in correspondence to the gradual evolution of Homo sapiens in Africa about 150,000 years ago consisting of non-personal human animals.” Immediately, I have to wonder what makes these “human animals” non-personal?
You attempt to answer right afterward, saying, “Personhood as a result of divine intervention is suggested in Genesis 2:22 by the fact that God creates the man and the wife as called to fulfil their existence in relation to each other, that is, in the context of an interpersonal ontology (Ratzinger 1995, 72–73; Alexander 2008, 197). Thus the “deep sleep” referred to in Genesis 2:21 can be considered to correspond to the creation of primeval human persons from the modern humans.”
I can agree that “male and female he created them” (1:27) refers to God’s relational intent for humanity, an idea reinforced by the naming incident of 2:18-20, where “no suitable helper” for the man was found. However, your “thus” is a non sequitur, because none of the preceding ideas lead to the conclusion that the creation of “the woman” = the creation of “primeval human persons” from modern humans. (This also seems to reverse the order of creation, since Eve would be the first “human person,” created from the merely “modern human” Adam, but that’s a side issue.) You haven’t really shown that such a conclusion is warranted, let alone flows from the text of Gen. 2. It is an unwarranted leap, not a logical conclusion.
Be that as it may, every “recent Adam” ignores facts about human history and violates simple logic. For example, earlier you said:
In what sense can we say that “Homo sapiens creatures” 10,000 years ago did not possess free will? Were they not able to love God? Were they not able to love one another? Did Homo sapiens creature not marry one another or possess any moral codes prior to Adam in 3500 B.C.? Were human cultures prior to 3500 B.C. sinless?
The questions roll on and on. In a nutshell, postulating a “recent Adam” and a recent “Fall” turn human history into an incomprehensible mess. I appreciate your efforts to resolve the problem, but your scenario creates more questions than answers, to my mind.
I’ll be glad to give you the last word on the issue, though.
I thank you warmly for these remarks, which I am studying and will answer in detail soon, when I finish a work with dead-line in three days.
In order to respond suitably I would be glad to know what would you mean by a “NON-recent Adam”.
Are you supporting an “Adam” at the beginning of the genus Homo, as @agauger seems to do?
If not, when and why?
Thanks in advance for your answer.
Well, “non-recent Adam” would not be my choice of terms. I understand Genesis 1-3 to refer to the creation of all of mankind. I don’t think Scripture, reason, or tradition support the notion that Genesis teaches an original (evolutionary) creation of humanity in general and then the creation of a man named “Adam” hundreds of millennia later.
In answer to your question, I do not support a literal individual named “Adam” at the beginning of the genus Homo, nor at any other date. I do not support any interpretation of Genesis 1-3 that posits an actual individual named Adam. The text indicates as much, since it does not use adam as a proper name until the end of chapter 4. Ha’adam, “the man,” is an archetypal symbol representing both the human race and each individual.
Well, what I’m really trying to say is that they could accept the existence of something outside of space of time (God, if you will) but claim that this thing is some inanimate, non-personal principle. I’m not a physicist, so I may be wrong, but I’ve seem atheist physicists talking about the idea that space and time could be not fundamental, but emerging properties from and underlying deeper reality that is timeless and non-local, isn’t that recognizing these exact things you’re saying without invoking God, but rather a new set of fundamental principles from which space and time emerge?
I see! Now it is much more clear to me. That is actually a really interesting interpretation since God does claim that he is the being “who just is” in the bible, which is very consistent with a being which sustains reality (and personal identity as a consequence). I’ve seem one of your talks on youtube in which you arrive at a similar conclusion, and indeed, it looked to me as you were just using the name YAHWEH as a way of trying to give warrant to christian belief as a first principle, which seemed really weird. But from what you said now, you are actually basically saying that the concept of God that emerges from the conclusions of QM is totally consistent with the biblical God since he is the one who could and can always claim “I am!”, right? If I may make a constructive criticism, that point really wasn’t any clear at all for me before you answered my question, and I think it will be even less clear for people which don’t have much background in the christian faith or the science and faith debate, so maybe you could try to emphasize that aspect a little bit more when making this argument about YAWEH and QM. Thanks for the answer!
The God of the Bible, YHWH, must be not only the Conclusion of our argument, but also the Premise. YHWH is Relational, or dynamic not Being, or static. YHWH is Personal, not Being, which means that YHWH is Trinity, Power, Mind, and Spirit.
Many thanks also to you also for your interest and these constructive and very helpful comments!
Some days ago you expressed another important point:
I fully agree. In my view most people who declare themselves atheists have sort of a cognitive barrier or prejudice in their brains.
The example of Richard Dawkins is paramount:
He argues for instance that there is no biological sharp beginning of the evolving species Homo sapiens or the evolving genus Homo. “If all the ancestors were still alive, then there will be a complete continuum between every creature and every other.” The disappearance of all intermediate species is a “fortunate accident”, “one of these apparently ordinary things that are “more magical […] than any myth or made-up mystery or miracle.”
Why “fortunate accident”?
Because, Dawkins says:
“we should not live by Darwinian principles […] one of the reasons for learning about Darwinian evolution is as an object lesson in how not to set up our values and social lives.”
“You are right when you say that aspects of what Hitler tried to do could be regarded as arising out of Darwinian natural selection. That’s exactly why I said that I despise Darwinian natural selection as a motto for how we should live.”
If after acknowledging that Humanity cannot be explained exclusively by biological means Dawkins feels the necessity of invoking a “fortunate accident” to avoid invoking God, then I can’t help thinking that in his brain some neurotransmitter is not functioning well: Any normally wired brain would conclude on God!
In fact we cannot do more than Paul in Athens (Acts 17): To argue the best we can. There will be always some who realize that it is sounder invoking God than a “fortunate accident”. Well aware, that our strength is not arguing “irrefutably” but teaching the Suffering of Love of Jesus Christ in the Cross, like Paul did.
Nonetheless I dare to finish stating that today’s science puts us in a better position than Paul in Athens: Those who mocked him because his teaching of Resurrection where worshipers of the Space-Time Idol. As said this Idol has been grounded to powder by quantum physics.
We are agreed that we are not to live by “Darwinian natural selection,” even though Darwin claims “survival of the fittest” is responsible for who we are. However if survival of the fittest is evil and it is how can God use Darwinian natural selection to create humanity? Especially since John 1 says that God created everything including humanity through the Logos.
This is the problem that TE has not addressed properly if at all. The best answer is that God does not create using Darwinian natural selection. God does not use evil means to create good ends. God does not even use a mixture of evil and good means in terms of natural selection. God creates the evolving ecosystem using ecological natural selection or symbiosis.
In a related topic many Christians believe that God gave humans as opposed to other creatures an immortal soul which makes them unique, that is created in God’s Image. This even though OT scholars believe the text Gen 2:7 refers to the breath of life. The concept of the immortal soul comes from Socrates and Plato and does not belong in Christian theology.
The human spirit does belong in theology as a created or evolved aspect of humanity and part of the Image of God. Again we need to explain this through TE or ecological natural selection.
Actually I fully agree with what you state here. The debate in this thread has led me to more accurate formulations and also to some novel insights. I summarize them in the following so that we can ascertain where we have common ground and progress to deeper understanding:
Humans in the Image of God (Image Bearers) means humans capable of freely loving God, and therefore also free to sin and accountable toward God for their behavior.
Humanity as community of Image Bearers has a sharp beginning in time, say time T, whereas the beginning of evolving biological taxa like Homo sapiens or genus Homo is fuzzy and arbitrary.
Regarding the time T when God makes the human body in His Image:
At the latest, time T can be set at the moment when Writing appears.
This moment could be predated as far as someone provides convincing reasons in this respect. For the time being the safest solution seems to be appearance of Writing.
It is obvious that before God makes the first humans in His Image no population on Earth can be said to be in God’s Image.
By contrast all cultures today that share a human body are Image Bearers. Therefore, even if they do not have writing systems, they are NOT less image bearers or less moral.
The Son of God is obviously in the likeness of God and the Image of God par excellence (Colossians 1:15). Making mankind in God’s image means determining the body God wants for the Incarnation of His Son.
The act of God “to create them male and female, in the likeness of God” defines which observable anatomical features are the basis for acknowledging populations and individuals as Image Bearers and thereby defines the fundamental biological taxon or species: Humanity (in accord with Genesis 5:1-2).
Humanity can be anatomically well-defined thanks the gap evolution brought about between humans and the (genetic and anatomical) nearest life-forms by eliminating intermediate varieties: “If all the ancestors were still alive, then there will be a complete continuum between every creature and every other.”
Accordingly one should avoid confusing Humanity with evolving Homo sapiens: Such confusion happens mainly in two ways:
one tries to define the beginning of Humanity by searching for a (non-existing) sharp beginning of Homo sapiens or genus Homo.
one declares that Humanity has no sharp beginning because the beginning of Homo sapiens is fuzzy.
One can give up the genetic or genealogical descent from a single couple without impairing the teaching of Jesus Christ and His Work of Redemption. What is more, Jesus Christ himself rather suggests that in the beginning God’s commandment was pronounced for a little population of Image Bearers.
The first Image Bearers were called to complete God’s creation by work and increase the people of Image Bearers through marriage: this was the primeval vocation of mankind as God’s children.
I’m sure we have a lot of common ground, but I’m not sure this is where we’ll find it. I’ll work my way down the list, but I may not hit everything …
I’m going to stop you right there. (Surprise! haha) If we consider the image of God a vocation, then we can’t really speak of people as “Image Bearers.” That is confusing the substantialistic view, which considers the image as something inborn (part of the “stuff” that makes us human), with the functional view, which sees the image as a purpose or calling. Because of mankind’s fall into sin, we are unable to function properly as the image of God. In relational terms, no one loves God or others as we should, and in functional terms, no one truly represents God’s goodness, justice, and mercy. So, I agree with you that humanity must possess certain capabilities in order to function as God’s image, but I don’t think that possessing those capabilities makes one an Image Bearer, just as having the capability to be a doctor does not make me a doctor. See what I mean?
The distinction you’re trying to make is not applicable if the image of God is a vocation, and the requirement that humanity had a “sharp” beginning in time is entirely arbitrary. As well, the equation of “time T” with God making the human body in his image again conflates the substantialistic and the functional interpretations of the image.
Again, this confuses possessing a human body with the image.
On No. 5, the Son of God is definitely the paradigm for all mankind, but all you’re saying here is that God planned to arrive at his desired destination, which was the incarnation of the Son of God. I don’t think anyone would take issue with that.
I’m going to stop with No. 6, though, because it is a good example of why I think your treatment is flawed. Namely, you are treating the image of God as if it were an “observable anatomical feature,” which is fundamentally wrong, and you use it this way in order to distinguish “human” from H. sapiens and previous hominins, which is completely irrelevant to the biblical narrative.
Yes, I see what you mean, and think you are not conflicting with what I state but rather adding a complementary aspect:
To be in the Image of God is both a status and an aim to achieve.
As Genesis 5:1 states, “God made them (Mankind) in His likeness and created them male and female”. Thereby Humanity is the community of those bodily creatures blessed with the capability of freely loving God. Humanity and each human are called to unfold this capability to achieve becoming like God in His Son Jesus Christ. God becomes human flesh in Jesus Christ, in order each human and Humanity can become Jesus Christ’s flesh end thereby like God. In Heaven the whole Humanity will appear as embodied in Jesus Christ.
I am not stating that the Image of God reduces to an “observable anatomical feature” but rather the following:
At the time T when God creates the first humans in His likeness, He establishes which kind of body He wants for His Son to become incarnate, and thereby He establishes also which kind of body is thereafter the observable sign to ascertain which creatures have the status of Image Bearers. And this means that:
Image Bearers have to acknowledge as Image Bearers anybody belonging to Humanity.
In my view the coherent logical path is as follows:
Conservation of my personal identity and free will (foundation of Law).
Space-time is not continuous but quantified or “pixelated” (evidence from quantum physics).
No material substrate can warrant the conservation of my personal Identity.
I am not aware of my existence during sleep:
I am not capable of warranting my personal identity.
There must be a non-material being that is uninterruptedly conscious and aware of his existence, i.e.: a personal being who can claim ‘I AM’ and warrants my personal identity.
The God of the Bible says his name is ‘I AM’ (in Hebrew YAHWEH).
The God we are led by quantum physics to is the same God the Bible refers to.
Jesus Christ reveals us that YAHWEH consists in a relation of three Persons: Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
Jesus-Christ Himself declares to be the Incarnated Son of God, that is the perfect Image of God.
Genesis 1:27, 5:1-2 tells us that “When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them.”
Marriage as relation of persons is Image of God’s relational being.
This Conclusion 5 has been proposed both by Karl Barth and Pope John Paul II (see Section 7.2 of this article).
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6
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