Friday, 24 June 2011

God and physical reality - the mind-body analog

I'm veering back toward accepting the possibility of a supreme mind as creator of the universe. This is as a result of the 'evidence' for 'intelligent design'. This supreme mind may or may not have all the attributes of the deity of Classical Theism. Certainly I consider that this deity does not reveal itself through parochial special revelations. I am very skeptical of claims by particular religions that their founders have had a special revelation from the deity. In any event whether any particular revelation is true must still be determined by reasoning processes. Therefore reason is the only measure of whether particular truth claims can be accepted. You can see then that I am supportive of a form of 'deism'.

Classical Deism denies that the divine  intervenes in nature. However creating the universe capable of life and creating life is surely the greatest form of intervention. In other words Deists as creationists, must believe that the deity intervened in the physical world's affairs at least in the deep past. This begs questions as to why the divine does not intervene now.

Further Classical Deists will insist that their Deity is the 'designer' of the world, but  they cannot it seems explain how a being of pure spirit, existing in a transcendental state could effect changes in the physical world. In other words, what is the hinge between spirit and matter? what is medium by which a supernatural entity effects its designs?. These divine designs are presumably simply mental objects in the divine mind - there is no reason why merely having a design must of itself alter the physical world. We know physical forces and energy can act on other physical natures, but how does the non physical acheive this?  There cannot be another medium, another force that the divine  uses to effects its will in the physical universe, otherwise there would be an eternal dualism of the deity plus that medium.

I can only conclude that the medium for divine intervention is also divine, indeed that the divine can act in the physical world because in some way the physical world or a energy or force underlying the physical world is itself an extension of the deity. Indeed this must be a case of a deity acting upon the world from outside it, but from 'inside' as an imminent presence or power within the world. I also think that this process of manipulation of the physical world must be probabilistic, at the quantum level of reality, so that the natural forces that govern the macroscopic world are not disturbed.

It is very important that nature is coherent and consistent or natures workings would cease to be in dynamic equilibrium but be plunged into chaos. Life on earth today is highly complex and requires the stability of natural processes, and so the 'laws of nature' and in particular the 'iron law' of cause and effect must be maintained. I believe that when the universe and the earth was in its early stages of their development they had a 'plastic nature' and could be manipulated in some measure to give rise to life as we know it. As the earth has developed with a complex biosphere and ecology, I believe the 'laws of nature' must now be fixed precluding the intervention of the deity (for such intervention today could result in the disintegration of nature, and the greater the intervention, the greater the disturbance of nature's equilibrium).

[Now some theists may argue that a deity could effect change in nature and by other miraculous power avoid any of the unwanted consequences of such disturbance of natural processes. However I believe the theists are simply wrong that any 'supreme being' can simply 'do anything' in wants once it has created a living functioning entity that is the world.  Indeed I think common notions of omnipotence simply betray magical thinking i.e they imply that a pure act of mind physical reality can suddenly 'change' physical reality without any causal process. I think the physical world is real and not simply a projection of the divine mind - it is not a divine dream as it were, that an be changed endlessly, by divine whim. To the contrary, having created a physical system the deity cannot act in a way that is contrary to its inherent nature]

The picture of the physical world as an extension of the deity, and the mode by which the supreme mind effects its will in the physical world has a potential analogy in the relationship of the human mind to the human body. The latter relationship is internal and intimate, but the mind cannot change the physical characteristics of the body, but in so far as the body's cells are co-operative with the mind they can give effect to that will. As individual beings who have apparent autonomy we also have a choice whether to co-operate with the mind of the Cosmos.

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