For the context of the following comments please click on the hyperlinks above them.
(Responding to a excellent blog post by John Lombard at Rational Doubt. The resulting conversation inadvertently echoes and expands upon a past interaction.)
I like this post. It is clear and logical. Though still seems to fall short of addressing the difference between “a god” (as in one of many possible) and “God” as the Entirety: existence, the potential to exist and the emergent characteristics resulting there from.
What term can be used for someone interested in comprehending the Real?
John Lombard - “brmckay: I can’t quite say, based on what you’ve said, but it sounds something like pantheism — the idea that there is no ‘god’, as such, but that the universe itself has a kind of ‘consciousness’ or ‘purpose’.
If that’s not what you mean…then please explain more clearly what you mean by ‘God’.”
Pantheism seems to have evolved in meaning since I last looked it up.
You got me to read the current Wikipedia article and that led to the article on “immanence“.
I enjoyed the various summations. And was glad to remember that, though fun, words, like graffiti, are all surface.
I can’t explain more clearly what I mean by “God”. It is just shorthand for the bigger picture.
As for “…the idea that … the universe has a kind of consciousness or purpose”, I think it would be more accurate to say “Consciousness” non-different from “Universe”.
“Purpose” has to be paired with “Purposelessness”. I concentrate more on awareness of the above mentioned unity.
i.e. Singularity … paradox….me. non-different.
But that’s just the latest refinement. Here and Now.
In your version of atheism, what limits are assumed regarding awareness, self, consciousness, etc.?
John Lombard - “brmckay: honestly, I find your question a little confusing, but will do my best to answer. I have a 100% naturalistic view of the universe, and of self. There is no purpose or plan in the existence of the universe; and there is no purpose or plan in my own existence, or that of anyone else.
This perspective can either be very negative, leading one towards a nihilistic view that ‘nothing matters'; that life is meaningless and void; or it can be very positive, leading one to the conclusion that since there is no extrinsic, pre-determined meaning or purpose to my life, I am therefore liberated to choose that meaning and purpose for myself.
It should, I hope, be obvious that I’ve adopted the latter perspective.
As to limits — all the limits are natural limits. There is no ‘deeper’ consciousness, no ‘interconnectedness’ where consciousness exists on a plane different from or higher than my own. I am conscious, you are conscious…but that’s it.
And when we die, that’s it. That’s the end. There is no continuation of my consciousness in any form, my consciousness is absolutely and irrevocably ended.
Hope this helps clarify my views.”
Thanks. You seem to have answered the question though.
Sorry to be confusing. It does take a while to sort out other people’s use of language. For instance, I’m not clear what you mean by “naturalistic” or “natural”.
Perhaps you’re using this in a philosophically technical way that I’m not aware of.
I’m guessing it to mean “as you find yourself”, without additional modifications.
But then the act of choosing “meaning and purpose”, rather than “finding” it, implies an artificial modification.
So, this must not be what you mean.
First, I want to thank you for your earnest answers and delightful mastery of logic. Reading your post and answers to various comments, has been a treat. Your precision is awesome.
Which leaves me confused when you leave so much unexamined.
John Lombard - “I do not believe in any phenomenon that is beyond the means of science to test or measure.”
Science is a relative phenomena. These are early days. E=mc2 alone catalysed a massive re-evaluation of time, space, matter, (mind?) — What the concept of “physical” means. There is so much more to come.
“Thus, this would exclude not only gods, but also a soul, or some other kind of ‘consciousness’ that is distinct from my physical body.”
Not sure why… Of course we may be blinded by our pre-conceived requirements regarding the nature of such phenomena. This would of course impede actual understanding.
As an example:
“… There is no ‘deeper’ consciousness, no ‘interconnectedness’ where consciousness exists on a plane different from or higher than my own. I am conscious, you are conscious…but that’s it.”
Here the terms “deeper” and “higher” cause a problem in understanding the inherent “interconnectedness” of all natural phenomena. Both seen and unseen; What we are aware of and what waits in the wings.
An insistence, that our experience of “consciousness”, is something less integral to the universe, than say gravity, or light, is another example.
Is the light emitted by a single candle fundamentally different than that of the sun? I’m not talking about the various degrees of wavelength or separate circumstances. Each traverses “space” at 299,792,458 meters / second.
Just so. At what level of “law” is my sense of self bound to yours? Not at a higher plane but by “physics”.
To not consider this relevant is only a habit of thought or attitude. It is an arbitrary limitation. It skews an understanding of the nature of “Self”, which as a Human Being, would seem to be of primary interest.
In considering the nature of a single instance of self. We must examine the underlying and primordial (potential) of Self in it’s relationship to it’s origin — The infinitude of Singularity.
The field of inquiry is the Here and Now. Nothing more, nothing less.
Fair enough. I had forgotten that I had subjected you to all this before. Probably explains some of my reluctance to undertake it again.
Before I sign off, I need to clarify that my use of (pseudo) scientific analogies, was specific to the conversation with you. And, is a (pseudo) poetic device designed set you up for the required epiphany.
All that you say here, is of course a true and accurate description of “your” experience, and the guiding principals that shape it.
I must admit frustration, that the actual principals I was exploring, were not deemed of interest. The failure is of course mine.
As you have noticed before. I am not a “scientist”. Though a critique of my logic might be in order. I did my best not to overreach. Being intent on coherence, punctuation, and (imagined) effect of word choice.
(Note: I hope to wrap this up now.)
The frustration is indeed the result of our different perspectives. The gap in the communication seems unnecessary though.
I basically understand your points. But chafe at the current limitations in making mine.
It seems to me, (again from my perspective), that the contemplation of “God”, is all about the personal. The individual sets the standards for themselves.
In my experience there is a process to this that responds to intention. The more honest I want to be, the more honest I become. The more compassionate I want to be, the more compassionate I become. The more I want to understand the interconnectedness, the infinitude, the simplicity, the intimate nature of existence — the more I get it.
Robots don’t need to know God. Man is fool if he doesn’t try.
If the scientific version of “Reality” cannot accommodate integration of the personal. This is a limit of science. Not a limit of Truth.
It is absurd to wait for an elite subset of our fellow Humans, to arrive at “objective” proof. Of what?
– the Potential to Exist
– Knowledge of Existence.
Not as the parts of something, but as a single,non-differentiated whole.
Common sense will do just fine.
Though you seem open minded, there is a ponderous obstruction in the mix known as the “NUMEROUS different theories” syndrome.
Previously referred to as — Not seeing the forest for the trees.