Ross Douthat argues for God: idea that the universe was created with intent, intelligence and even love explained why the world in which you found yourself had the appearance of a created thing: not just orderly, law-bound and filled with complex systems necessary for human life, but also vivid and beautiful and awesome in a way that resembles and yet exceeds the human capacity for art. …
What exactly is incoherent, in terms of an explanation for the existence of the cosmos, about the God described in the Quran (assuming that you've done any reading on the subject)?
Here's how Allah measures up to your interpretation of the 'G' argument (which may or may not stem from a Christian understanding):
The alternative “God” (G) theory says:A) A “perfect” mind exists without a universe, or even time, needs no resources, has no mental limits
Allah isn't described as a 'mind' or 'mentality', but if this is being loosely used in the sense of 'source of wisdom, will, and knowledge', then yeah, sure. Granted.
B) Just by thinking, this mind can learn anything and create universes, life, creatures, and minds
Again, not sure where this terminology comes from, but it falls apart for Allah at the 'learning' claim. Allah is All-Knowing, so Allah has nothing to learn. Because Allah is All-Knowing, Allah is perfectly capable of all possible (i.e. non-contradictory) creation (whether we can imagine it or not).
C) This mind has particular concepts of beauty and morals, and gave them to humans
In this case, we as humans were most certainly created with the capacity to learn about, understand, accept, apply, and incorporate beauty and morality in our limited lives. Allah gives us the tools to do this, as well as the necessary knowledge to achieve it and the guidance to maintain it. Of course, it all needs a purpose and motivation, which can be found quite clearly in Islamic theology. However, the surface concept of how this is relayed to us, what we're meant to do with it, and how we're meant to proceed in the absence of our ability to act upon it, is clear.
D) This mind makes some humans see strange things for various mostly-unknown reasons
This might be a Christianity thing? Allah doesn't do anything without a reason, but we as humans are not owed all reasons by virtue of things happening to or around us (unless you're of the position that you can make demands of Allah). 'See strange things' kind of fits, since a miracle is meant to make you acknowledge a higher power without breaking your mind, but the whole 'various mostly-unknown reasons' bit would defeat the purpose of Allah's revelation (to prophets, of course, to then be disseminated to their people. Prophets, by necessity, are chosen wisely as the most upright, truthful, and eloquent representatives of their people, all of which is in Allah's control). Anything we as creation need to know or be motivated by to fulfill our purpose will be made known to us, however 'strange'. 'Strange' phenomena that could be ignored within the purview of our purpose serve as continuous reminders and evidence of Allah, which limited humans need in order to remain upright (lotta distractions out there, which Allah has given us the tools to resist and overcome. We just have to use them).
Additionally, without life-after-death, this analysis is meaningless (my assertion, but also gleaned from Islamic theology). Therefore, anyone with a conviction that nothing happens after we die would have no reason to attempt a rule-bound existence by way of moral activity, intentions, or balance. Just live, then die. Consequences be damned. None of what I said applies without consequences after death (which asserts that Hitler, for example, and his ilk, will go unpunished).
Apologies if this came off as preaching, not my intent. I read the blog plenty and appreciate the novelty of your thinking.
Pascal's Wager, anyone? https://priorprobability.co...
Good question. Space is a thing - it can be warped, bent, etc... perhaps nothing lies beyond space. Just as earth has a boundary and there is no earth beyond it, perhaps space has a boundary and there is no "thing" beyond it. Or perhaps space is expanding into something else. The universe was once smaller and more compact and has been expanding at an increasing rate. Is it expanding into some "thing"? What is it pushing aside as it expands? These might be interesting questions, but it isn't clear that we can fathom the answers.
Our intuition (what we can fathom) evolved based on selection pressures that allowed our species to continue. Much of what we have learned from modern science is unfathomable which I suppose shouldn't be too surprising (how does one fathom dimensions beyond 3+1, quantum non-locality, or numbers so large that we can not count them?). Thus we are left explaining insights by analogy (models) that give us tools to make predictions that can usually be tested.
What lies beyond the end of space? I can't even begin to fathom the possibility of a finite-space reality because I cannot imagine what lies beyond.
I just read Douthat's piece. It's not very good. He's a good writer and even a very good one sometimes. And I respect him. And I think it's great the NYT has him. But...that was not convincing at all.
Yeah, I still think the God hypothesis is unfalsifiable even if it's unlikely because there could be billions of Gods, and the God that created us, could be not the best god, so maybe that is why we are limited in our capacities and knowledge.
I guess I'm saying as long as there is even a possibility that "our" god is just more able then us, but maybe not "perfect," then the God hypothesis is alive.
I personally am a materialist but I've been trying to articulate this for awhile. I think I failed here but maybe someone will get my point.
"Surely humans have stuck with human associates, even humans who don't claim to be God."
It flies in the face of self-interest to be so loyal to a human associate that you would die in their name, particularly if you were an eyewitness to a crime that they committed or if you just made up the story. You would expect attrition after a failed messiah, not conversion of skeptics (e.g., James the Just, Paul) unless something unusual happened (e.g., mass hallucination, swoon hypothesis, a miracle). There could be a naturalistic explanation, but unless P(miracles)=0 then this should increase P(christianity).
"Matter and energy sounds to me like a much better foundation."
I don't see how matter/energy can explain their own existence. Matter and energy are both dependent things. Even Lawrence Krauss recognizes this in "A Universe from Nothing," but I think he ends up unintentionally postulating something closer to platonism, rather than his preferred naturalism. If the naturalist wants to maintain his worldview, there needs to be a foundational naturalistic explanation for matter/energy. (There are some platonist-naturalist hybrids like Steven Landsburg.)
I just came across Max Baker-Hytch who has a few papers here that appear to be relevant:https://oxford.academia.edu...
particularly "Religious Diversity and Epistemic Luck"
I haven't had time to read it yet, but the abstract is promising.
I'm just a stellar astronomer, not a cosmologist, and my intuition is driven by what we can actually measure. The universe certainly is very close to being flat, and I suspect that a torus is a good bet. I don't see why an eternally accelerating universe+inflation naturally leads to a multiverse. I confess that I certainly could be missing something here, but it seems awfully ad hoc.
You don't need to choose between them. Most (maybe all) religions believe life is a moral challenge or series of challenges to stimulate spiritual development with a goal of reaching heaven or nirvana or something along those lines. Details obviously vary, but Newton said different things to Einstein, and every generation of scientists says different thngs to the ones before. Nothing wrong with any of that. I'm not trying to say science is bad. You've got to allow for differences without seeing every difference as a reason to throw everything out. If you look for the commonalities between major religions you'll find them.
If you're really into optimising your religious choice, try a type of principle component analysis of the major ones and find your own way. Maybe you can come up with an Eigen religion. Most adherents of most religions have their own skew on things anyway, and most major religions allow for and encourage that. Seek and yea shall find.
But where exactly do you think space ends? Is it a torus? If it doesn't end or wrap back, it has to keep going, which with inflation implies a vast multiverse.
Okay, but what exactly would this g theory be trying to explain, over and above the usual S theory?
I agree there could be things that want to stay hidden. But the evidence for believing them must still be non-hidden. No such evidence suggests no such belief.
"Miracle" just means something that seems strange and hard to understand. I don't see how weird stuff is in general evidence for G over S. Sure very particular weird stuff might be, if we believed it, but there's an awful lot of pretty conflicting theories said to be justified by weird stuff; how could we choose between them?
The idea that there is one "complete" thing that gives rise to everything else also seems quite strange to me.
Have you seen Goedel's proof of god?
You talk about the limited understanding of human minds, but there are limits to the understanding of any and all information processing. The entire universe viewed as a single combined computer still has limits on what it can understand. Rationality isn't complete or "all seeing" even if given infitiy resources.