God - Everything or nothing

Hi Believers great and small,

Just a thought that’s cropped up around the reading I’ve been doing recently about computational limitations and artificial intelligence.

Basically, we envisage God as a concept of perfection - usually on a cloud with a beard. Presumably we would also attach to this being a propensity to dispense absolute truths.

In mathematics there occur formulas that are reasonably easy, or at least finite, to write down as II sentences - Mathematical/algebraic relationships between sets of numbers. However some of them are incredibly, ridiculously hard to prove either right or wrong in the absolute. ie: The degree of brute-force computation required, mental or otherwise is almost infintitely long - time-wise and ‘writing it all down’-wise.

Yes-yes, of course, for an omni-powerful being this would be child’s play.

But (You knew a ‘but’ was coming) there’s a catch, or at least I think there is a catch anyway. In the process of doing these enormously long computations the chances of teeny-tiny influences from something external to the object doing the number-crunching interfering and causing errors, however infestimal, become near-absolute certainties. (We’re talking a neutrino going zip instead of zap on its journey through the universe here, to give you an idea of scale.)

ie: Any proof, beyond certain limits, becomes unreliable.

ie: anything existant, anything with an actual physical extention into our plane of being becomes prone to error, even if only at the quantum level.

ie: Either God remains simply a concept - at which point, having no finite physical manifestation, no measurable coordinates of consciousness - it can remain ‘perfect’ and ‘error-free’, or it exists in such a state as to be unencapsulated and free of external interference - which would mean God would actually have to ‘be’ the whole of existance: You, me, that tree and the contents of my baby’s nappy.

All God,

Every bit.

Everything or nothing.

Thoughts…? (Please - not extremely mathematically-formulaeic thoughts - I’m a bit of a dumbass)

The dilemma you seem to be setting up is that EITHER God is physical and everything, OR He’s not physical and thus just a concept, if I get you.
Well, the great bulk of theists, from what I can tell, already believe that God isn’t physical, and that He also not a concept- He’s this other thing we call spirit. That makes it hard for us to interact with your argument, since we were already outside the presented dilemma to begin with. See, the second half of your dilemma “God is not physical and therefore just a concept” is complex, and a theist would disagree that you can get from one to the other. So your next step would be to argue that that which is not physical must necessarily be nothing more than a concept. Which would defeat theism pretty much in itself anyways.
Another thing too, is that you seem to be assuming that God would have to go through a process to work out the solutions to these mathematical formula. Doesn’t that presume that there was a time at which God didn’t have the answer, and had to calculate in order to get it? I only understood the math portion of your argument very generally, so correct me on that part.

It’s a bit of Godel’s - He says that basically “No set of rules can ever be both complete and consistant at the same time.”

Plus a lot of complex maths of course.

Am I wrong to wonder wether God - as unphysical spirit, or as something with at least some extention within our sphere of existance with which to interact with us/our ‘minds’ - has some set of ‘rules’ to lend him some form of cohesive node of being…?

To either have none, or to somehow not be held to a ‘set of rules’ would imply diffuseness, would it not…?

Hard to have a discussion with a big heap of nothing at all.

And yes - you are right - perhaps God has no need to find answers - he either intuits or they are just ‘there’. That is not the point - it is the ability to prove them with a 100% reliability to others… That is the difficult bit. Did I say ‘difficult’ I meant nigh impossible.

I’d love to whip out some Tao and lay it on ya’, but I won’t. Lying. Yes I will.

I won’t argue the assumptions made both in this statement or how it is generally received by believers. The sticky part lies in the notion that whatever one calls God is confined to conceptualization in the first place.

A perfect universe where God is all (in order to contain all imperfection)? How would we know that? What is sponteniety and novelty isn’t necessarily error. What I am hearing is that science cannot explain all. That “error” is always a potential, and science will never be able to account for that.

(Here it comes!) In a processual universe the coming into being and the returning to the flow happens as it happens. You can describe down to the quantum level (statistically) what something is, but never why it is or is not. At the same time, one cannot explain either what God is or is not, or even if the concept of God is part of reality. And so we return to square one: Knowing that we cannot know. Of course, that’s just for us heathens…

Hey Tentative - Then what’s the point of us…? As spiritual beings…? To realize the pointlessness of second guessing God…? To turn our little cause-and-effect hunting backs and go back to our knitting…?

Not a very human trait… Were we made broken…?

Not a very Godly trait - manufacturing faulty goods.

For me , the god notion is otiose and so, I am an ignostic. As keith Parsons put it:" Occult powers weilded by a transcendent bieng in an inscrutalbel way for unfathomalbe purposes just do not seem to be the basis for any sort of a good explanation. Thistic ’ explanations’ therefore only seem to serve the purpose of hiding our ignorance behind a theological fig leaf." The god notion therefore not only does not answer but is itself in need of one ! It is just the tautology God wills what He wills. Is that by the magic of thus saith God? How does one know if He is limited or unlimited? How does one know that His attributes are those assigned Him? If He is not the god of the gaps, then how does He operate in the cosmos? If He is so other than everything else, how is that different form being nothing? Theists [-X [-X ,might you try to answer? Fellow non-theists, =D>

Skeptic - You’re wearing loon-pants and have a chicken on your head, don’t you.


That we see patterns, a glimpse of something resembling order, that we sense that ‘something’ is an awareness, not a knowing. That is the mystery, isn’t it? And so yes, we go to our knitting. That is Tao. Making our way in this world. Uncomfortable with not knowing? Most people are. But for me, not knowing is the most delicious part of life. It is the constant potential of this moment because no experience is ever completed, but constantly evolves into the next experience. The dance is the dance and it never ends…

He has a nature, sure- most a-theistic arguments center around finding some alleged aspects of His nature that contradict. Is that the same thing as a set of rules? Are you saying that God’s set of rules must be rather like one of these massive forumla you’re talking about?

I think the notion that there are some things God can’t prove to us works very well with common theism too. I must be missing something. If I get you correctly, then yes, God trying to mathematically prove some of these things might be similar to God trying to count to infinity. Can He not do it? Well, He can get started right now, and it’s not like He’d reach a point where He’s definitively failed.

sSo , one just goes on faith? :^o [-X [-X


My old friend you are the anti-philosopher, freshly slouched out of Bethlehem… With your “do not seek to know the unknowable” you render the religious forum a hard path indeed. Just as with your chorus of “All philosophies are but constructs - both questions and answers self-referential, swirling about eachother like motes of white locked in a snow-globe - isolate from reality…”


Must I then simply fold my hands and purse my lips against my teeth and sit like the other nodding dogs on the back seat of existance…? Just revel in the sensual scenary as it goes by…? I think not. There are wonders beyond the grasp of your content complacency, if you but reach out your hand.

Consider this then, perhaps I seek not to stamp any token of absolute truth upon any facet of experience, but simply in my musings strive to improve the quality of our unknowings…?

May I not raise my voice then…? May I not indulge in a little trampling of the fruit already fallen from the tree of life to reach that still hanging, just beyond the span of my fingertips, from branches higher still…?

Not all of us are content to remain goggle-eyed hicks at the great carnival of life. :wink:

I will paint my brass-ring gold or die trying.

Hey Ucc,

No, simply that if he has some physical extention - then to coherently manifest it would have to ‘obey’, or perhaps ‘coalesce’ around some seed-crystal of predictable physical rules. As physical beings we would simply fly apart if the mundane matter we subsist of decided that obeying strict physical/quantum laws was somehow… Optional.

And if this extention (or Lovecraftian-pseudopod) does have a set of rules underlying its existance then it falls prey to the problems of Gödel’s theorums, and cannot reflect the ‘perfection’ clause.

There is actually a loophole, that involves the extant being being unaware of the rules underlying its existance. But once it does - as God, being omniscient would, presumably - It can either count them as ‘perfect’ and itself a ‘perfect’ being at which point it becomes forced by Gödelian law to accept the imperfection of its axiomatic output (Divine thoughts I suppose in this case), or accept its underlying rules as imperfect, and itself an incomplete being - but suddenly find its axioms internally consistant - proveable to others.

Funnily enough that’s a core facet of the current arguements against strong AI at the moment, that non-human ‘intelligences’ cannot evade none-finite equations by intuitive understanding of the underpinnings of the mathematics governing them. They never stop.

The correct answer is then that God would fall into another see-saw state, part would presumably intuit the infinite nature of the solution to the given formula, and the pointlessness of trying to solve it in finite time - But the “I can do bloody-well anything me” facet of an all-powerful construct would no doubt be driven to try anyway.

Let’s hope God’s almighty mainboard has infinite processing capability, and a good fan.

But of course, I but pitch my arrows at the lightning, pitiful ape that I am.



I think you may have missed a bit of understanding. You say there are wonders beyond my content complacency, which tells me you just might be missing the point, but never mind. More importantly, Please tell me what those wonders are I’m missing? I’d love to know what they are, and how you discovered them, and how I can see what you see. I hate to be left out, you know.

Oh, I loved the snow globe. So visual…

I’ll tell you when I get my mitts on them. But even then you’d probably have to be me to get into the essential groove. My top-10 smash is not necessarily yours.

I knew you’d like the snow-globe bit. :sunglasses:

Again ,I stress my previous points. How can theists claim what they do about God? They have much for which to answer. How can they justify the Trinity and the Atonement? Faith, the I just say so of credulity is the answer! :^o [-X =P~