I don’t, no. Resurrecting a human who has already had experiences and retains them is entirely different from creating a brand new functioning human who has had no experiences. I can conceive of what the former might look like. I simply can’t imagine the latter. (And I’m not talking about just “picturing” it. I can picture water on fire as well, but I can’t imagine a way that you could oxidize H2O.) I know what people who have no experience, no knowledge, no language are like. I’ve made three of them myself. They’re not terribly good for much. They get better, but it takes… time.
By “nature”, I just mean the essence of what you are, not your actuality at any specific point in time. Humans are experience-having things. A human zygote is a human. It hasn’t had much in the way of experience, but if nature takes its course it will. The more experience a human has, the more we see the human in terms of “the being who has had those experiences” rather than just their physical form.
Since we may after all still be disagreeing slightly on the crux of disagreement, let me try to phrase it another way. You hold that God could create a being that (at the very least) can communicate, reason, love, and sustain its own life all without any experience of any sort. I hold that such a being is as nonsensical as a three-legged cat with four legs, and that all of those capabilities are precisely lived experience over time. Furthermore, I hold that while we have literally billions of examples of the latter, we have no examples of the former. And still furthermore (and possibly gratuitously), I hold that when God wanted to create His own son, he did it the long way.
i genuinely understand why you would be dubious of that, since everything we know we gain by experience. we know how to communicate, how to speak and hear language through a process of learning it… we know how to walk through learning, etc.
But what makes it impossible for me to believe that this is the only way such skills could be received, or that God is incapable of immediately giving people gifts of communication, or walking, for instance, is that we have on record the son of God doing exactly that. When he healed the mute and deaf man, the man spoke clearly instantly, he didn’t have to work with a speech therapist and learn how to carefully make his words, after being deaf. Jesus healed him, and part of that was instantaneous knowledge of how to speak (Aramaic, presumably) properly.
Similarly the people Jesus healed that were lame and unable to walk… When a man has been lame or crippled from birth, and has never walked a day in his life, he has never had the experience of “learning” to walk. But when these people were healed, Jesus did not simply heal their injury or physical ailment, then send them off to a physical therapist who would have to teach them how to walk… Jesus’ healing of these individuals consisted of both giving them physical healing of their limbs, and giving them the instantaneous knowledge of how to walk, apparently just as capable as if they’d been doing it all their life.
It is an objection, but I don’t think a strong enough one.
The people Jesus healed did have experiences of walking, talking, etc… They just hadn’t experienced it themselves – they’d experienced it happening all around them their entire lives. (Although some probably had first-hand experience. While some people are explicitly identified as having had their condition since birth, I don’t think we can conclude that was true for everyone.) People are perfectly capable of acquiring language, even if they can’t hear or speak it. While the mute and deaf man may have suddenly acquired the ability to speak Aramaic, there was already an Aramaic for him to speak and he might have even already known some of it. That’s a far cry from de novo man appearing in a world where there’s never been language at all. As for non-cognitive skills like physical body control (i.e. walking)… I’m fine with those not requiring experience. Spiders don’t have to practice webspinning, or even watch another spider spin a web first… they can just do it. Some rare musical savants can reproduce entire concertos note-perfect after only one listen. But it’s no big deal for a golem to be able to walk, pick up stuff, or maybe even reproduce a work on piano. We can already build machines that do those things. It’s understanding the human-specific things like language, love, hate, evil, goodness, beauty, creativity that I’m talking about. These don’t just come to us by experience, but by experience in the context of human society.
In living things we see various processes that can’t be self-organizing as is suggested by science. I read things like “RNA polymerase recognizes the starting position of the gene and…” and as an industrial chemist I am amazed. I don’t buy this for one second. Intelligence is seen in living things, especially at the cellular and sub-cellular level and is treated as an anathema by the biomedical scientists because they want to explain everything by physical cause and effect. It can’t be explained by the physical alone.
Even in the non-living, physical nature we see that there are laws governing how things react and interact and we have recognized the laws but refuse to recognize that these laws can’t just arise out of nowhere. If everything was just a whole lot of matter that exploded, it can then become ordered and be governed by laws.
For there to be intelligence behind life’s processes and laws governing the physical, then there has to be more to the picture than the physical. You say that you accept that there is a non-physical / spiritual aspect to our existence, but how can you then say that it doesn’t have anything to do with life?
The physical was all brought into being/ created by God. The basis of everything physical is information. This is recognized by physicists, but they want to say that information is physical. That is rubbish. The laws of physics that we have discovered and represent mathematically are the meaning that God had attached to the information God has used to describe this physical realm and thus bring it into existence. There was a big bang but God dunnit.
At the cellular and subcellular level there are also laws that govern how everything behaves. We as embodied conscious being don’t control how the physical body works in its basic level. But we do have an influence in that how we react to ideas in the Mind affects the information at the basic level, which is why we see changes in the body, even at the cellular level. For instance we have seen in the early clinical trials that a person’s belief in there being damage in some area will ignite the immune system. And the inflammation, which is unnecessary if there is no damage in that area, will damage healthy cells.
Now about the human mind. This is a term that is very often used to really refer to the embodied conscious being. The many minds theory doesn’t have any good evidence to support it. We utilize information/ ideas in The Mind, which is the Mind of God, in which the physical is brought into being. The evidence that supports this is telepathy, which is also an anathema to most scientists. The experiments have not been done properly.
I don’t agree with anything that Paul said. I don’t think there was ever any bodily resurrection and I don’t believe that people will be selectively resurrected on earth and have bodies that defy the laws of the physical realm. Immortality is spiritual. Those that walk the Path of Righteousness will be granted eternal life. Those that walk the Path of Darkness have themselves committed themselves to eternal oblivion.
RNA IS an information storage system for living things. It carries patterns for numerous purposes including matching with protein sequences which is indeed for recognition. And it is a product of a learning process we call evolution. I think you have a prejudicial bias for the word “intelligence” which is only acknowledging it for some examples of life and not for others. With computer algorithms beating us at all of our own strategy games I put to you that intelligence doesn’t require anywhere near as much as was previous supposed. All it really consists of is the ability to follow a set of rules.
And I do not see any reason for such a bias with the word “consciousness” either for awareness of its environment and self-awareness of its own condition for self-maintenance are basic to the process of life in general. This is not to say that all forms of life are equally conscious, aware, intentional, and intelligent. Not hardly. All of this is not only highly quantitative but consists of a great number of different abilities which we are lumping together in a few words. And we can not only see different examples of these abilities in other organisms, but we can see an absence of various abilities in human beings who have suffered damage due to a number of different causes.
Explanation is both a rather subjective thing as well as bit complicated. People look for different kinds of explanations and thus what the scientist looks for to enable them to predict the results of experimental procedures is not the what other people look for in things like religion.
People can refuse this because we have concrete example of how this can indeed happen as a result of spontaneous symmetry breaking.
Thus I agree with your conclusions while I disagree with your arguments. Surely you must know that just because a claim is true doesn’t mean an argument for that claim is correct. My reasons for believe are different and a bit complicated and some of them strongly conflict with the reasons that other people have for belief. I see a necessity for choices of faith in life and suspect that in the arguments people make they end up replacing their faith in the things they argue for with a faith in the things they argue with.
Obviously I disagree with this argument. It seems to me in the light of our recent experiences with AI, that intelligence is nowhere near as special or as singular as has been supposed – and both of these suppositions have contributed to thinking of it in a magical way when in reality it can be broken down into a vast collection of much more simple things.
Because that is what the evidence shows, and I don’t need unsound arguments to prop up my belief in these things – for they make them weaker rather than stronger.
I certainly believe so.
I have heard this sort of nonsense before many many times… the basis of everything physical is matter… is energy… is mathematical or… the basis of human history is conflict… is economics… Give me a break already. All of these are simply ways of looking at these things and they may even be very very helpful in understanding them… but spare me the ideological rhetoric that tries to cram all of reality into these different shaped holes.
And I say rubbish to your rubbish which is fundamentally self-contradictory. Information is information and it can be represented in a variety of mediums. Just because we can intellectually abstract the information from particular examples doesn’t mean it exists in magical way apart from the particulars. Our intellectual abstraction is just another PHYSICAL medium for the information.
Well that is a fundamental disagreement with Christianity and there is no way to reconcile what you are saying here with the Bible. In this you wander in a direction which I see no purpose in going.
??? But that is exactly what Paul said (perhaps you need to read 1 Cor 15 again)… well except the word he uses is imperishable (this immortality stuff is more pagan Gnostic Greek philosophy… because of 1 Timothy 6:16 only God is immortal, this doesn’t really work with Christianity).
I put things in a bit different terms that these to say that the spiritual is product of its own nature and choices and not effected by external forces. Thus it can die from its own self-destructive choices and thus is not necessarily immortal, and thus requires a resurrection (renewal of life by shedding the self-destructive habits of sin) in order to be imperishable.
That is a rather empty threat which does nothing for me. I see more value in the atheist approach which sees righteousness as its own reward. Thus I would argue that righteousness is the essence of eternal life and the only oblivion is the “path of darkness” itself.
Just getting caught up in this thread and as an atheist myself I find your POV interesting. I personally don’t press the challenge you outline. I think that tends to come from people who were more fully immersed in Christianity than I ever was. From my scant acquaintance with Christian theology what seems most noteworthy is the detail with which some Christians claim to know the nature, limits, preferences and intentions of God.
Whatever God may be, I’m pretty sure whatever we can conceive of will be too limiting. But that doesn’t mean that reality must be God’s plaything. To impose the idea that God can or does just poof things into existence is just more distortion imposed by our own limitations. Whatever it is which gives rise to God belief, trying to paint His picture with our limited palette is a fool’s mission. The first thing anyone should say is we just don’t know, and then go ahead and venture your hopes and beliefs but keep in mind your own limitations. But then, that is the way it seems to an atheist. Without belief that the Bible is a message for us from whatever it is that God may be, one cannot be a Christian. So I’m not one. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes sense something more and deeper going on. But it is possible to live with a mystery, in fact it adds interest.
I have been a little surprised in the paucity of response (read ‘none’ ) to my comment above, not even any flak. Do your remarks apply?
Yes. It is one thing for it to make sense given certain assumptions and quite another to justify those opening assumptions.
Ah. Well, they are justifiable biblically. The references cited do that – Piper bleeds scripture. Of course there are assumptions involved, Christian ones.
Well there you go.
So it looks like I’d be right assuming I can’t get there from here.
I heard a Christian (and she had been a Christian for a long time), when asked why God created us, say, “I guess he was lonely.”
From a starting point of not believing in God? That would be correct. It takes a miracle (and maybe a few precursor miracles) to become a Christian.
You let God know I’m here for him. But I’m not lonely. Though I do enjoy spending a good deal of time alone.
Wanting God is part of the equation, and you seem to be missing that.
(Being a comfortable atheist is not something I envy. It is a house built on sand.)
Yeah, that’s probably right. It’s one of those “I’m trying to score on you by demonstrating a contradiction in your view” maneuvers. But it’s a fairly pointy one, at that. I think folks who pull it out tend to either have an axe to grind or are looking to validate the superiority of their own perspective. If you play that game long enough you eventually realize it’s just that – a game, and the only wins you get aren’t because your position is True, but because you happened to be more skilled than your opponent.
I didn’t bring it up to score on @Daniel_Fisher. This whole thread started because @Scott_Coyne had a pain point (pun intended) with respect to EC where the problem of suffering is concerned. I’ve felt that pain, and in my case traced it to certain assumptions about God. I started to question if those assumptions were justified, and realized that perhaps they weren’t. Without those assumptions, things seemed to make more sense. I offered that perspective to Scott and the thread – not to argue, but merely to help those who might find it helpful. Daniel, on the other hand, seems to find that things work better for him with those assumptions, and I wanted to better understand his take.
I certainly agree that Christians want to talk a lot about the nature, limits, preferences, and intentions of God. And, yeah, we probably take it farther than we justifiably should sometimes. But saying that painting a picture of God is a fool’s mission or that we just don’t know is… well… another species of the same animal. It’s implicitly assuming that God won’t (or can’t) help us along with that picture. The central thesis of Christianity is precisely this: that Jesus Christ was the human revelation of God, and that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. We are limited in what we can know about God, certainly, but we claim there are things we can know. To reject that possibility a priori is itself to make a claim about God with no greater epistemological grounding.
I’m not looking to please him, leastwise not with flattery. Nor would I put him on a pedestal. But I’d always give him my honest feedback and listen well to any offered. I’m not eager to know God as men have decided he must be. There is definitely something more, but I’ll let him fill me in on his own schedule. Honestly though, I don’t think God is like a person. No where near that petty.
But you know I recognize your genuine concern for me and I don’t take it any other way. But I’ll leave it here unless you want to PM something more.
When your house begins to disintegrate in the floods (or fires) of this life, God is there for you, too. (But condescension is anathema to him.)
I would want you to be honest. But don’t be Frank.
Personhood is a key part of our being created in his image. (Personhood does not necessitate pettiness, by any means.)
I think I’ve had a decent exposure to Piper’s perspective, but personally I haven’t found it helpful. God is happy in himself? God does everything for his own glory? I don’t know what all that means. I feel like I do when I see people doing something that they all are really enjoying, but I try it and get… nothing. Like drinking Scotch or something. Must be an acquired taste.