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Impossible? God like civilizations?


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#35 lawcat

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 05:58 AM

It sounds like nothing much has changed since the invention of god: The idea was likely designed to explain events and phenomena that were observed in the world


Let's not get into faith. I never intended this discussion, nor did the OP as far as I can tell, to be about faith, but about higher civilizations, possibilities.

Okay.

Okay - god can move at a speed that is in his nature. This is self-referential and say nothing of his participation in the natural world.

It is inconsistent with the laws of physics. It might be in 'god's nature' to move at superluminal speeds . . . And one of them being, of course, the inability to cross the lightspeed barrier. Anything capable of doing just that, is unnatural, per definition.


No problem. If you insist on the relation God = omnipotent = supernatural, then there is no discussion. The term supernatural defeats all possibility of rational discussion. Supernatural is absurd, either physically or logically or both. So on definition, before logic, that god must be defined as absurd, there can be no discussion of god and natural.

I think wiki is consistent (I think :singer:) in what it's saying. I'm just not particularly convinced by some of 1-6 and what they even mean. I think some of them would apply to a human so long as the human were willing to consider himself a deity... which, according to Lawcat's recent post is not out of the range of possibility.


First, I apologize if I offended you with the "biased" remarkd. I meant "incomplete," as in rule of completeness.
Second, yes to last sentence. If there is such thing as god, it is certainly not what we decide to define it, but rather it is what it is.
In other words, if god can do numerous mighty things, but is limited nonetheless in natural by some parameter, does that make the entity not god? Really? Just because God fails our expectations of doing the absurd?
I can not agree that supernatural requirement is the only logical way of thinking of god. That kind of thinking is definition before logic, and is pure faith.

#36 HydrogenBond

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 10:39 AM

The perception of god like civilizations, would be dependent and what one's definition of god was. The closer to humanoid one defines god, then godlike is not that far away. An atheist, who does not believe in god, other than being the product of the human mind, would not take much special effect, to appear, to them, to be god like. It only has to be humanoid plus.

On the other hand, if we make the definition of god far more extreme, godlike would need more than a few tech tricks. For example, if god created the universe, god also created the laws of nature and physics. Therefore this god, is not limited to the laws of physics or nature, but can change these laws, locally or globally at will. These laws are there more to help out the humanoids by giving them logical consistency. This god does not need technology, since technology would only be seen as a prosthesis, needed by those still limited by the laws of physics. With this definition of god, the atheist definition of godlike would appear more like a magician, since it was still depended on technology behind the curtain, to create godlike special effects.

#37 Boerseun

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 01:32 PM

[quote name='lawcat']No problem. If you insist on the relation God = omnipotent = supernatural, then there is no discussion. The term supernatural defeats all possibility of rational discussion. Supernatural is absurd, either physically or logically or both. So on definition, before logic, that god must be defined as absurd, there can be no discussion of god and natural.[/quote]
It's not me 'insisting' on the above relation of God's supernatural absurdness, it's the Laws of Nature that define anything with the powers we ascribe to God as outside the scope of nature, i.e. supernatural. If you want to label God's supposed powers 'absurd', you might be cutting closer to the essence of religion than you might think. But no - it's not me insisting on anything, here.[/quote]
[quote name='lawcat']I can not agree that supernatural requirement is the only logical way of thinking of god. That kind of thinking is definition before logic, and is pure faith.[/quote]
That's a bit ***-backward. God is said to be omnipotent. God is said to have created the entire universe in six days. It therefore follows that God must be outflying light by several orders of magnitude. However, the First Law of the Universe states: "Thou Shalt Not Break The Speed of Light". Therefore, it logically follows that if there is a God, he's wiping his *** off on the Laws of Nature. In other words, he's operating outside the scope of the Natural Laws. It's not applicable to Him. In other words, he's a supernatural entity.
For him to have done all the magical things the Jews, Christians and Muslims accuse him of, he simply must be supernatural. That's logic. If it ends up in God being absurd, then so be it.

#38 geko

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 02:17 PM

The more i think about this the more i'm becoming convinced the problem lies in the definition of words.

For example, nature/natural refers to our universe and it's innate qualities that make it so. In this case, what do we then make of potential alternate universes that could conceivably be governed by different laws? To follow from our take on 'nature' they must be either unnatural or supernatural. It also follows that our universe is unnatural or supernatural when viewed from a certain perspective.

If we take the idea that existence exists as a truism, and define the parameters of existence as [a] space, how do we then qualify our idea that our space is different than another space? By the laws that allow consistency? Is it only me that this doesn't sit well with?

Personally, i think 'natural' should be a term used to describe an unfolding of events in [a] space consistent with the governing laws.

The potential differences between potential existences are only consistency. They are all 'existence', and therefore the same, i.e. [a] space. So if our universe is natural, existence is natural.

.....

I may have just gone off on one, but i'm serious.

#39 Getting A Life

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 03:04 PM

Yes we can breed fish, even to the point of making them look like us but there are limits to what we can do, God could for instance take a fish into the sun and show him the center close up, I doubt we can ever do such a thing in any way except remotely.

God on the other hand can do anything, we are limited, I would be willing to say that even the fish, once it had achieved intelligence and technology would indeed question our omnipotence. Once a certain level of technology is reached the idea of god becomes harder and harder to fake.


Very well put. The more intelligent/advanced we become, the more the concept of God must advance beyond what our intelligence can encompass. As we become 'godlike' the goalposts shift so that godlike is not within human capability.

You can't impress the natives with fire if they have blowtorches.

1MYAP... 1MYBP = 1 million years before present. 1MYAP = ? :shrug:

#40 Moontanman

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 05:21 PM

I have to agree with Moontan here.

"Omnipotence" by definition places the owner of such power outside the scope of the laws of nature. Travel faster than light (which a God such as our Abrahamic God who created the universe in six days clearly must be able to) ? - bah - no problem! You just hop in your Omnipotent Superluminal Intergalactic SUV and you're all set... but that is not natural, whether we are fish or humans.

But I think Moontan's premise for this thread is at fault. When we talk of the "godlike" qualities of superadvanced aliens, I'm sure we're employing a metaphor, and we're not alluding to anything that's got anything to do with God, at all. I'm a flaming atheist, but I will use the term "godlike" when confronted by an awesome set of boobs, for instance. Is that because God's a tit, or because I'm employing a quick 'n handy metaphor to express the deep impression the object(s) under discussion has made on me?


I'd like to see them boobs, were they natural or was human intervention involved? :shrug:

#41 Buffy

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 06:55 PM

... he's operating outside the scope of the Natural Laws. It's not applicable to Him. In other words, he's a supernatural entity.
For him to have done all the magical things the Jews, Christians and Muslims accuse him of, he simply must be supernatural. That's logic. If it ends up in God being absurd, then so be it.

Right, and as a result discussions of what God is drive off in these two completely different directions, with folks on each side thinking the others are out of their minds.

Since I like to conceive of God personally as "natural" and "not omnipotent" it's easy to stay withing "logic" for discussing it. As soon as you get into "supernatural" and "omnipotent," it's really hard to have logic play any role in the discussion...of course it's still more self consistent than the "natural and omnipotent" or "supernatural and not omnipotent" (or "God as Inspector Clouseau" as one might think of it) views of the God... :shrug:

It's hard to work in groups when you're omnipotent, :)
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#42 Moontanman

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 07:48 PM

I'm curious Buffy, do you think of god as being aware of everything that happens? The whole no birds falls without her knowledge ( i say her in deference to the nicest religious people I know) If this is true then doesn't god have to be above natural laws?

#43 Moontanman

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 07:56 PM

I think it's interesting this thread has evolved into "what is the nature of god" and that there is principally two ideas, a natural God, and a supernatural God"

#44 Buffy

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 02:06 AM

I'm curious Buffy, do you think of god as being aware of everything that happens?

No, that would be omnipotence!!!! It's not just being *able* to "do anything," but also having the knowledge necessary to always intervene anywhere at any time.

That I think is why this discussion devolves into people talking right past each other: we pagan types have a view of God that is in line with natural laws, and it implies the impossibility of "knows all" and "does all."

In that sense, this particular viewpoint is very much closer to the initial intent of the discussion. I sometimes define my God as "the gal that pressed the start button" which presupposes "magic" in the sense of Clarke, but certainly within the natural realm. It also presupposes that "God" might not know about us at all, or even *care*. In my view this kind of God can even be described as likely to actually exist--even if it might be that creation is the result of Homer Simpson's Duff-fueled burp.

On the other hand, the sociologically developed version of God is based on the notion that all this horrible stuff that happens or the good stuff that happens to others has a reason for happening--namely a wrathful God--and of course a priesthood that tells you if you do what God wants then some of those rare good things will happen to you. This view has very little to do with trying to bridge the gap between God's "abilities" and any natural processes that might make them possible. In fact the very purpose of this kind of God concept is to argue *against* reality, precisely because as we all know, "reality has a well known liberal bias."

The notion of aliens with advanced technology as God is actually quite reasonable, and is the subject of numerous Star Trek episodes....

Is that the secret of your power over women -- the thunderbolts you throw? :)
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#45 Boerseun

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 02:31 AM

Arthur Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

The technology that allows you to "flick a bic" and start a fire is sufficiently advanced in this sense to be pure magic when your audience consist of cave-dwellers.
The technology to talk into a little black thing and be heard instantaneously (well, almost) on the other side of the world is sufficiently advanced to be regarded as "magic" by a sixteenth-century Dutchman who had to spend two years on the open ocean to deliver a message from the Dutch East India Company to its emmisaries in Japan.

And so we can progress with the technology under discussion, and for every instance there once was a crowd of humans for whom it's "magical", bordering on "godlike".

And surely, I would not be able to discern 30th century technology from "magic". Yet I'm completely up to speed with current technology (okay, granted - my knowledge of latter-day Vietnamese underwater basket weaving might come a little short).

The universe might be the result of some super-advanced race having meddled with the essence of energy, space and time in a tiny little jar in a lab. The last fifteen billion years of the universe's expansion might have been one billionth of a second in a particle accelerator for this über-powerful race of aliens, and all our hopes and dreams and everything we've loved and lost exist in a mere flash, leaving absolutely no trace, at all. Hell - we might even be doing the same thing in our particle accelerators.

This is highly unlikely, but there is no evidence at all to disprove it.

That, then, would be a case of God being an alien species, meddling with time, space and energy. He created our universe - but isn't even aware of our existence because at his scale, we exist for not even a picosecond.

There is no evidence at all to suggest that the above is true. But likewise, there is no evidence to disprove it, either.

In the above sense, I might believe in the existence of an entity called "God". But it will not be a personal God knowing your moves and thoughts and motives - no, this God is most likely an alien nerdy post-grad student battling with social awkwardness and spends most of his time at the lab where he blows up stuff and inadvertently creates universes and galactic civilizations without even being aware of their existence.

But the metaphor of Godlike civilizations stand, and is basically what Arthur Clarke said.

#46 modest

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 04:42 AM

I think it's interesting this thread has evolved into "what is the nature of god" and that there is principally two ideas, a natural God, and a supernatural God"


Interestingly, Carnap broke it down similarly:

Another example is the word “God.” Here we must, apart from the variations of its usage within each domain, distinguish the linguistic usage in three different contexts or historical epochs, which however overlap temporally. In its mythological use the word has a clear meaning. It, or parallel words in other languages, is sometimes used to denote physical beings which are enthroned on Mount Olympus, in Heaven or in Hades, and which are endowed with power, wisdom, goodness and happiness to a greater or lesser extent. Sometimes the word also refers to spiritual beings which, indeed, do not have manlike bodies, yet manifest themselves nevertheless somehow in the things or processes of the visible world and are therefore empirically verifiable. In its metaphysical use, on the other hand, the world “God” refers to something beyond experience. The word is deliberately divested of its reference to a physical being or to a spiritual being that is immanent in the physical. And as it is not given a new meaning, it becomes meaningless.

Rudolf Carnap - The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language 1957


What he says is meaningless I would say is illogical by the natural laws of the universe (which is, in a sense, meaningless) and therefore beyond our ability to understand. In other words, a metaphysical god is supernatural.

Arthur Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".


Again, Carnap agrees:

Carnap distinguished between mythological statements which, like statements of magic, are phrased by means of empirical predicates, and metaphysical ones, which are not

Rethinking Popper - Google Books


I don't think there's any reason 'magic' has to be supernatural or metaphysical in the usual sense of those words.

~modest

#47 Eclipse Now

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 06:45 AM

Geko:
Super-natural is not about existence per se, but *where* something exists. Does it exist within this space time continuim as testable by the laws of this universe, or is there something above / beyond / next to this universe, a "Universe next door" so to speak? So all you have done is define a materialistic worldview, which you are entitled to have, but is not a correct definition of terms for the discussion being had or the normal English usage of the word "supernatural".

Therefore, there is nothing supernatural about the statement "a sufficiently advanced civilisation is indistinguishable from our idea and definition of a god". It's a reasonable statement which assumes all requisites are natural.

I'm not even sure what point you are trying to make, other than to continually assert your materialistic worldview?

The subject to me is... "Can really COOL sci-fi-like stuff happen, EVER, or is it just getting offensive to our understanding of science"?

This has nothing to do with the idea of God Like, you were insinuating we would see them as gods, the idea they would be god like defines the parameters of their existence, god is outside the natural, god is not confined by natural law, so to be god like insinuates the ability to defy natural laws. if they can create another universe then that would mean they can manipulate things in a way we cannot but it does not imply godhood. If they can do it so could we, eventually, but to be god implies much more than high tech


Thank you Moontanman. That was exactly what was bugging me, as a Christian reader of this thread.

I for one want to note that I was not threatened by the Pantheism in Avatar. Why? It's about how we define what we are discussing.

IF we found Alien Natives (is that what NAVI stands for, Native mixed up?) that worshipped a 'pantheistic god' like Weya (or whatever it was called) but the science explained the process of this planet-wide neural network, is this 'god-like' power actually SUPERNATURAL as in THE GOD or a very powerful entity that inhabits this Universe, and is similarly bound to the laws of space-time, albeit with maybe a more advanced understanding of them? (In downloading personal memories etc anyway).

I think that's what Moontanman may have been getting at, and Geko's just confusing terms here.

< theological aside >

"nothing new under the sun" failure of imagination.

I protest! Solomon's was a philosophical statement about the fleeting, temporary, mist like vapour that are our mortal, fleeting lives, not a failure of imagination. It was profound philosophy basically teaching "Theistic hedonism" or finding enjoyment in the good gifts of God, as long as we can in this broken world, and as long as we don't ignore the Giver. It's a long and complex theme which is found ultimately in Jesus teaching about enjoying friendship with HIM more than "anything else", because "anything else" before HIM is probably what we'd call an "idol", and... I digress. This is probably offensive enough in the context of this thread. :)
< / theological aside >

#48 HydrogenBond

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 08:10 AM

When you discuss god in terms of natural, one will limit god to the state of the art. In the mechanical world of 100 years ago, mechanical was the matrix of natural. Anything beyond the state of the art, even if turned out to be natural, would be seem as supernatural and might be off limits for discussion. We could not add digital to that discussion, 100 years ago, since it is beyond the state of the art. There can be things that are natural, which human don't yet understand, but we will understand in the future.

For example, from Einstein on, science has had the intuition of the integration of all the forces of nature or GUT. What that would imply is that it is theoretically possible to use one unified force to modify any of the other forces. The basic cause and effect of four distinct forces would not be violated, even when it appeared to be violated. Since we can't yet figure out how this all comes together, if such a natural thing occurred it would be called supernatural so we can't discuss it.

If we include supernatural, we are also talking about the future state of the art of science and not just the laws du jour. This is how god concepts helps push the envelope of thinking. I ask "what would have to happen to create the universe in 6 days, knowing the state of the art is far from seeing this. Rather than limit god to my contemporary ignorance, so I feel in control, I prefer use god as the way to peak into the future even that means I am not in control.

The question become, why do some need to control the concept of god? What is the fear that requires this control? Is it the fear of the future?

#49 geko

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 08:46 AM

...Geko's just confusing terms here.


I'm actually trying to simplify things by removing supernatural as a valid term that describes something. I honestly see that it doesn't. It doesn't help or answer anything... a quick look back through several posts here convinces me again of this. It's thrown out as a end-answer to certain things without challenge as if the term itself has been objectively verified. My last post challenged that view.


Super-natural is not about existence per se, but *where* something exists. Does it exist within this space time continuim as testable by the laws of this universe, or is there something above / beyond / next to this universe, a "Universe next door" so to speak?


This is what i see as limiting, it's confusing things for no real need; this can lead to errors in thinking which doesn't lead to understanding.

When leading physicists start believing in the possibility of other universes (which they do), it's also past its usage date. The meaning is no longer applicable and should be changed to accommodate our new world view.

This post doesn't argue my point, my last post did that.

#50 Pyrotex

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 01:35 PM

How about saying that a technologically advanced Human from 3000 AD, would appear to have "pseudo-deistic abilities" (or PDAs).

:)

#51 modest

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 06:10 PM

< theological aside >

Einstein didn't have Solomon's "nothing new under the sun" failure of imagination.

I protest! Solomon's was a philosophical statement about the fleeting, temporary, mist like vapour that are our mortal, fleeting lives, not a failure of imagination.


The Eclipse doth Now protest too much, methinks. :shrug: But, as long as we’re off topic anyway :turtle: ...

[James Earl Jones Voice]Thou shalt have no false dichotomies before me, sayeth the Lord.[/James Earl Jones Voice]

Something that is theological and speaks to the futility of human life and the pointlessness of the world around us could, perhaps, also represent a failure of imagination. If you changed the word “not” in your quote up there to “and” then I’d agree most ardently :naughty:

It was profound philosophy basically teaching "Theistic hedonism" or finding enjoyment in the good gifts of God, as long as we can in this broken world, and as long as we don't ignore the Giver.


I get the feeling you’re very well informed on this topic. Yet, it seems like you didn’t quite get why I made the metaphor that I did. Solomon’s worldview as set out in Ecclesiastes is certainly diametrically opposed to Einstein’s. Even your quote above reveals it. What Solomon considered a “broken world” from which we take solace in God, Einstein considered “the harmony of all that exists” in which God reveals Himself. The difference in those two worldviews is profound... and it’s exactly that reason I used the metaphor.

Solomon concluded that seeking out the world, or worldly knowledge, was pointless—that we should be admonished for “making many books” and “much study”—that a person’s duty was only to “fear God” and follow the commandments. It was, as I said, a failure of imagination. He failed to imagine a life where inspiration comes from the natural beauty of what exists.

If there’s anything that Einstein’s pantheism drastically separates itself from, it is that Ecclesiastes worldview (what you rightfully and cleverly call theistic hedonism). Einstein not only found meaning in trying to understand the world, he described it at length as a kind of religious experience. And, because of that, he didn’t just find something new under the sun, he made the sun anew.

If God wanted us to worship nature, he wouldn’t have slapped it together in 6 days :confused:


~modest