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February 28, 2013

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When you define your terms in your own favour,you can claim teh win.

Does your god really need logical propositions to define its existence? If so - oh dear.

It boils to this. Either your god manifests in the observable universe or does not? So which is it?

"Does your god really need logical propositions to define its existence?"

You would prefer what? Illogical propositions? Emotive interjections?

BTW-

Is the above comment from Confused a comment on the video? I can't seem to see the video in any browser...so I'm inclined to think not.

WL, you should be able to see the video. Are you still not able to?

I can see it now.

Confused, it's not about defining terms in favor of one way or another. It's about properly defining the terms, period. Part of understanding a viewpoint, is understanding what the terms mean to the person holding the viewpoint. In this case, the viewpoint is classical Christianity. Therefore, the classical understanding of God's omniscience is at stake here, which is what Brett was pointing out. The challenger has built a strawman by inserting his own understanding of the term "omniscience" instead of properly understanding the term in light of the viewpoint he's challenging.

It is amazing that all the logical "inconsistencies noted by the posters on this line of argument have to some degree a possible resolution:

1. God cannot create a rock so heavy He can't lift it ....

Jesus collapsed under the weight of His cross.

2. God cannot create a round square ...

Still, we can make such leaps of illogic in the world of boxing, where the square battle zone is called the "ring."

3. God cannot make a married bachelor ...

Still, Jesus, who never married, is spoken of as having the "bride of Christ."

before we see all this as so much sophistry (answering sophistry), let's examine another truth claim that can be "tweaked." If I make the assertion "man cannot fly," I could be resisted by a person who knows and uses such entities as Delta, Sothwest, United yadayada, one who could say with certainty that "man can fly." But if I took this person to a tall building, walked into an elevator, and explained to the man how to resolve this argument by a leap from the building, I'm sure the man defending human flight would clearly state the prerequisites for the possibly. This is what Brett did in his answer to the challenge. Instead of accepting infidels.org's definition of "omniscience," it was necessary to show the deficiencies in the understanding infidels displayed.

And that is no sophistry! Thanks Brett.

Length limits again. Breaking up post.

PART ONE: Having All-Knowledge-That implies Having All Knowledge-Of

Brett makes a classic distinction.

I don't think it really works.

Just consider what he said about knowledge-of, or experiential knowledge. He has knowledge of His wife, so he knows that she doesn't like to be on film. In other words, his experiential knowledge in that case boils down to a proposition!

But there is more to be said. How does one know that some proposition, "Sky is blue" for example, is true? One must first know what it means for sky to be blue. And that involves knowing what it is like to see blue. So all propositional knowledge implies experiential knowledge.

Now, there are a couple of wrinkles to this.

First, you might think that a blind person (blind from birth) can know that "Sky is blue", so knowing that that proposition is true does not seem to require that one know what it is like to see blue.

But notice that what the blind person knows is quite different from what the sighted person knows. The blind person knows that the sound "Sky is blue" is associated by speakers of his language with truth. Is that what a sighted person knows? The blind person and the sighted person actually mean different, though related, things when each of them say "Sky is blue". The sighted person knows that a different proposition is true than the blind person knows.

Notice also that standard spectrum-inversion skepticism creates a problem as well. Suppose that your visual sensation of the world is what I would call a photographic negative. If that were the case, it is impossible that through conversation with one another we should ever come to discover that when I say "Sky is blue" I mean something quite different from what you mean. But were I to ever be shown what you mean when you say "Sky is blue", I would immediately say "No it isn't...that's a dusky orange". It would be clear that we are expressing very different propositions and we, again, know different but related propositions to be true.

Now, it's tempting to say. Well what "sky is blue" actually means is that it emits a spectum of light the intensity of which peaks at about 500 nm wavelength and that falls off quickly for lower wavelengths and more slowly for higher wavelengths. God, sighted people, the blind, the color-blind, the spectrum-inverted viewer and everyone else can agree on the truth of this claim. And this is the meaning of "sky is blue" that bears the truth value of that claim.

But this is obviously false. When Wordsworth wrote in Peter Bell:

At noon, when, by the forest's edge
He lay beneath the branches high,
The soft blue sky did never melt
Into his heart; he never felt
The witchery of the soft blue sky!
He was not referring to wavelengths when he spoke of the "soft blue sky". Wordsworth didn't know the first thing about wavelengths, but he knew perfectly well what he was saying when he declared that the sky is blue.
Besides, the 'scientific' meaning of "sky is blue" is as full of experiential meanings as everything else.

For an Omniscient God, then, to know that "Sky is blue" seems to require that He know what I am experiencing when I look at the sky and declare it to be blue...He must know what it is like for me to see blue. And He must know what it is like for you to see your spectrum-inverted blue. He must know that I am experiencing the one and what it is like for me and that you are experiencing the other and what it is like for you. He must know what it is like for the blind person to hear "Sky is blue" associated by fellow language speakers with truth. He must know what it is like for the scientist to read his gauges and meters to plot out the spectrum of light that the sky emits.

In short, an Omniscient God must know what a whole host of experiences are like in order to know that the whole host of propositions expressed by the sentence "Sky is blue" are true.

To know that every truth is true and every falsehood is false is to know what it is like to have all the experiences that are involved in the meanings that those propositions are. Without that, you would have an omniscient being who doesn't even know what He is talking about.

PART TWO: Know-How doesn't help (A).

On know-how...which Brett strangely identified as the type of knowledge that is involved in the challenge...notice he actually said that God's omniscience does not imply that God knows how to fix a refrigerator!

OK.

First...reductio ad absurdum.

Second, the challenge explicitly talks about what it is like to learn...so that's knowledge-of, not know-how.

But there's more.

Even if God's Omniscience does not require that God know how to fix the refrigerator, doesn't God's Omnipotence require that?

The answer is obvious.

We would be affirming a pretty sorry excuse for an Almighty God if we said, "Well, He can fix the refrigerator, but He doesn't know how." He would be like like Lady Catherine de Bourgh from Pride and Prejudice who, if she had ever learnt, should have been a great proficient at the pianoforte.

Of course God's Omnipotence requires that He know how to do all the things He can do. Including all the things He can do through limited intermediaries, like refrigerator repairmen, piano players and learners.

So God knows every way there is to fix a refrigerator, play the piano, learn and so on because His Omnipotence requires it. This is an example of the Simplicity of the Divine Attributes...God's Power is His Knowledge.

So for starters, the folks at infidels.org could just repose the question as a challenge to the compossibility of Omnipotence and Omniscience.

PART THREE: Know-How doesn't help (B).

Besides, what really is know-how other than a combination of knowledge-that and knowledge-of?

The refrigerator repairman first knows that if there's a puddle in the refrigerator even though nothing has spilled, then the drain tube is blocked (knowledge-that). He might know that the drain tube is on the left side for Amana, but on the right for GE (knowledge-that). He might know that GE Profile Series fridges require that you wiggle the drain tube a little to successfully clear a plug (knowledge-that). And He might know what it feels like to wiggle that tube just right (knowledge-of). What else is there to the repairman's know-how?

Any way you slice it, when we say that God is all knowing, we mean that He knows not only all the facts, but what all those facts are like, and how they came to be facts. In short, He knows exactly what we would expect the Creator of all those facts to know.

PART FOUR: We Don't Need the Classic Distinction.

So the distinction between knowledge-that, knowledge-of and know-how gets you exactly nowhere.

And you don't need the distinction anyway.

The problem with the objection is that it assumes that in order to know what it is like to learn, in order to have the experience of learning, that God must Himself learn something.

But there is no reason to think that that is true.

In general, there is no reason to think that someone must have done X in order to have the experience of doing X. You would think that anyone who has watched The Matrix would get the distinction between the experience of doing a thing and the doing of a thing. It is possible, for example, to have an experience of breathing air, for example, yet not be breathing air.

God has the experience of what it is like to learn in virtue of the fact that He creates every learner and every instance of their learning and all that it feels like for each learner to learn everything they ever learn. It need not follow that God Himself has ever learned anything.

WisdowLover’s multi-part comment has helped me to both more completely flesh out and better articulate what I had attempted in my comment on the previous post.

I contend that we cannot understand any one of the ‘omni’ attributes apart from any other, i.e., we must consider omniscience with both omnipotence and omnipresence. Creating and sustaining the cosmos requires all three. Quoting Thomas V. Morris, “Perhaps the best understanding of the attribute of omnipresence is that of its being the property of being present everywhere in virtue of knowledge of [omniscience] and power over [omnipotence] any and every spatially located object” [The Logic of God Incarnate. 1986, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY & London, UK; p 91. Bracketed comments added.].

We must also understand that time is a part of creation, yet God transcends time. Therefore, God’s eternality must also be factored in. It seems we cannot separate our conception of the God’s ‘omni’ attributes apart from His eternality.

With the foregoing in mind, let’s add the following quote of Lewis Sperry Chafer [Systematic Theology, 1948, 1976 Dallas Theological Seminary (1993), Kregel, Grand Rapids, MI; Vol. VII, pp 141-142]:

“…Whatever time may be and whatever its relation to eternity, it must be maintained that no cessation of eternity has occurred or will. God’s mode of existence remains unchanged. Time might be thought of as something superimposed upon eternity were it not that there is ground for question whether eternity consists of a succession of events, as is true of time. The consciousness of God is best conceived as being an all-inclusive comprehension at once, covering all that has been or will be. The attempt to bring time with its successions into a parallel with eternity is to misconceive the most essential characteristic of eternal things.”

In other words, we cannot impose time upon an eternal Being. Therefore, since learning is by definition a process requiring two points in time, one beginning point (before the experience of learning) and one end point (having learned), this whole idea is an attempt to superimpose a construct of creation – time – onto an eternal Being Who is outside of creation/time as its Creator. God knows all about the past, the present, and the future simultaneously. Hence, the question posed by infidels.org is based upon a faulty conception of the Christian God and is rendered moot.

Having stated all this, I’m open to criticism. I’m not sure if I’ve fully fleshed out the interrelationships of God’s omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence and eternality and then adequately applied them to the argument posed by infidels.org.

Part One:

Experience is the Materialist's God and they wrongly assert that we will, at the end of all avenues, find all things looking at an upward incline toward Experience as the only mechanism of Knowing.

Experience is like Sin which is like Knowing which is like every thread throughout our bone and skin and neuron and vessel. Knowledge Himself who fashions every thread of simply all fabrics knows in textures we cannot know the entire spectrum of every nerve ending screaming out within all our tissues and each incline, decline, slope, tilt, slant, and gradient of all collections of every neuron entangled within our skulls for a trillion permutations compiled there in our skulls cannot out-run the Infinite Who Himself swallows them up whole and in swallowing but inventing and in inventing but tasting and in tasting but delighting in This and laughing within That as the Uncreated for Joy’s sake dives In-To and Out-Of all that Is and all that Can-Be as there is no Mold, no Shape, whether in World or Neuron which He Himself does not fill to its End for we find that the final regress of exactly Every Reality is in all vectors this: Word.

More to follow.....

Part Two:

The skeptics ignore their enslavement to cascading dominoes while simultaneously putting forth some vague and spooky hint at a yet to be elucidated freedom from Chemistry and Physics.

They talk of Experience as if it is somehow some other thing besides cascading dominoes. Now, this is a bridge to the Truth of all things, though they are unaware of their own part in the testimony of that Truth’s Actuality. And just what is that Actuality? We will find that it, that Actuality, in fact is a Thing which Experience itself, Knowing itself, find themselves gazing along an upward incline to capture.

We find the philosophy of Materialism and of a kind of Pretend-Immaterialism playing a bait and switch for we all taste and touch Freedom of Motion among Self-Other all day long in a myriad of verifiable proofs in the Experiential and the Empirical and the Theoretical and the Rational. They bait with the Materialism’s spooky and illogical freedom or with the pseudo-Immaterial and then switch back to mere perception enslaved to Materialism's Deterministic dance. The very thing they ignore is found within Experience testifying to them of some other Something which out-reaches the widest reach of their own philosophy. We stand beside our wife and in that moment there at the sink we Motion within that Self-Other with the dirty dishes before us. Wash them or head for the TV? And so on and so on in, well, trillions of little proofs of little I-AM's freely motioning into and out-of Self and into and out of Other. Herein we find that "Take" and "Give" and "Fight" and "Love" give us Proofs from the Empirical peering downward on the Experiential into that Freedom of Motion in and among Self-Other. Anyone who denies such overwhelming evidence raining in from every direction from the Empirical downward to the Experiential need not be taken seriously. Our good friend Ben concedes, “I experience a kind of freedom” (only moments before retreating yet again to enslavement).

More to follow....

Part Three:

We need not take seriously those who play the game of bait and switch. Atheists claim to experience choice in the arena of Self-Other and some make an attempt at Pseudo-Immaterialism with a reach toward a claim that Mind is indeed Free of Physical Forces, Free of Physics, Free of Chemistry somehow, though they never tell us how, and that the Bedrock is some Flavor and Nuance of Word, of Proposition, of Presupposition, of Premise, of Law, of Property of Thought, of Content of Thought, and so on only to then switch to, as they always do somewhere in their regress, "But not really! It's all just perception!" on all fronts. They first testify of their own "experience" of Freedom of Choice in the arena of Self-Other to justify their borrowing of language, their stealing of nuance from other worldviews (as theirs cannot justify it) and they then testify of the Bedrock of the nuance of Word underlying all things to defend their various borrowing and stealing and then on both fronts they shout But-Not-Really! via "It's not really-real, it's just our perception!" and so retreat to simple materialism enslaved yet again to physical forces and deterministic imprisonment from top to bottom, including "thought" and "like" and "dislike" and so on ad infinitum. They lie to their wife and tell her they are not free to wash the dishes all the while touring academia telling the world that consciousness really (actually) is free.

Whatever Experience is to the Materialist, it is at its highest peak but a lie of psychic phosphorescence. And, we find here a bit of truth to the matter. There just is no such thing as Any-Thing which can in its own arena gaze down a downward incline toward the Self Existing Being Who is Actual Actuality. All things are by default Less-Than, more Vague, more Thin by comparison, and we are told in scripture that all things are sourced coming out of Him and are destined as returning again back into Him.

More to follow....

Part Four:

Experience and even Sin suffer this same fate. Sin is but a Motion which is found within the Triune’s interior. What? God is Love, and in this we find within Him an innate and Uncreated I-You-We inside of Actuality’s Triune Topography within Being's singular and pleural amid the I and the You and the singular I-You for Being itself regresses to Love's embrace among the I and the You wherein the Singular-We streams uncreated. And here we find that Motion into Self, into the Pure “I” is necessarily found, and is Good, and Lovely, and Life, for in Him we find what no other Being has: Self-Sufficiency, Self-Existence, Uncreated-Life. He alone can in Truth shout “I-AM!” and speak that which is Life and Good for whether it is I, or whether it is You, or whether it is His Singular-We, we find within the Triune but Multiple Perfect Distincts Each of Whom upon shouting I-AM employs not merely Truth but the Good and the Whole. There just are no bad moves inside of Him. He cannot “sin”. That Motion into Self, which is to Him but more and more of that Self-Sufficient One, brings us to the what and the why of how Sin is not some New Thing. Any Created Self is by default dependent upon Uncreated Life for its very existence, life, knowledge, fabric, experience, and ad infinitum. Experience, Sin, and so on, are but Motions and Slices of that Larger, more Concrete Uncaused within Whom and out of Whom all that Is or Can-Be are found. Thus, we find here in Agency, in any Created-Self, that Motion of Love which is I-You, and which, should it be Self-Other, will be Life, for it would then be bound to Life Himself, but should its Motion be but that insistence upon I, I, and only I, that fierce imprisonment within the Self, it must then stand Alone, dissected off of Life Himself upon Whom it is necessarily and eternally dependent for every bit of Life’s Fabric, and, having no Self-Sufficiency, it must taste then that which we call death.

More to follow....

Part Five:

This Motion into the Self, which is Life within the Triune, is, by this very same Motion in any created self, death simply because Power cannot create a Self-Sufficient Being, and thus should any created self make this Motion, which must be afforded to it if it is to mirror love’s triune fabric of I-You-We, it has thus done that Act of Volition which we call Sin, which is for any Created-Self death, or simply Sin, but which is to the One Uncreated and Self-Sufficient Actuality but more of that Self, more of that Life, more of that Self-Existent One.

The Volition of Agency to Dive Into Self is found within the Triune and there, and there alone, is Life, is Good, is but more and more of that Self-Sufficient One. That Motion into Other is also found, and so on, ad infinitum. We are made in Love’s Image and thus we find in our fabric the Self, the Other, and the Self-Other there within that Singular-We and all of these pleural/singular dances are housed quite easily there in John’s seventeenth chapter.

We will find at the end of all things that Sin, and Experience, and Thought, and Knowledge, and Power, and All Things whatsoever will ultimately gaze along an upward incline toward Actuality Himself. Whether we worship Experience, or Knowledge, or Taste, or Thought, or Feeling, or Sin, or Matter, or Space, or Time, or Ad Infinitum there will be just No-Thing whatsoever which will be in some spooky ill-defined way more concrete than Actuality Himself as all things are but more vague, less dynamic Derived Slices off of He Who is Primary, Un-derived, more positive, more dynamic, more opaque. Experience, like Knowledge, like Sin, like Thought, like all Derived things will at the end of all Vectors find themselves bending the neck along an upward incline to gaze upon the Concrete.

More to follow.....

Part Six:

We find that Experience is like Sin which is like Knowing which is like every thread throughout our bone and skin and neuron and vessel. Knowledge Himself who fashions every thread of simply all fabrics knows in textures we cannot know the entire spectrum of every nerve ending screaming out within all our tissues and each incline, decline, slope, tilt, slant, and gradient of all collections of every neuron entangled within our skulls for a trillion permutations compiled there in our skulls cannot out-run the Infinite Who Himself swallows them up whole and in swallowing but inventing and in inventing but tasting and in tasting but delighting in This and laughing within That as the Uncreated for Joy’s sake dives In-To and Out-Of all that Is and all that Can-Be as there is no Mold, no Shape, whether in World or Neuron which He Himself does not fill to its End for we find that the final regress of exactly Every Reality is in all vectors this: Word.

More to follow.....

Part Seven:

To paraphrase C.S. Lewis as I already have been a bit: we find that it is the error of Pride, of the Pure-Self, of the Isolated-I to insist upon the Fabric of This-Now as that which all of actuality must for some spooky reason gaze upward toward. No. Actuality Itself by definition gazes downward upon all that is. Actuality Himself must not be thought of as a featureless generality as He is the most concrete thing there is, the most individual, "organized and minutely articulated." He is unspeakable not by being indefinite but by being too definite for the unavoidable vagueness of language. The Original Thing is not a principle nor a generality, much less an "ideal" or a "value," but an utterly concrete fact. The crudest picture of Actuality Himself thundering and lightning out of thick, dense smoke, making mountains skip like rams, threatening, promising, leading, even changing His mind transmits that sense of Living Deity which evaporates in abstract thought. We may make our attempt at rejecting such imagery but we must be clear why we are doing so: not because the images are too strong but because they are too weak.

More to follow....

Last Part:

Some more paraphrasing of Lewis to close: Whether we speak of Experience, or Sin, or Knowing, or Thought, or every screaming nerve ending everywhere, we find that such cannot outreach the Ultimate Spiritual Reality for He is not vaguer, more inert, more transparent than those images but He is more positive, more dynamic, more opaque. Actuality is the self-existing Being whom no man nor angel can say nor conceive what He is in and for Him¬self or what this created work which He in delight “makes from the begin¬ning to the end” is. We are all derived and unsubstantial things. Our vision fails us and we cover their eyes from the intolerable light of utter actuality, which was and is and shall be, which never could have been otherwise, which has no opposite.

End.

The real assumption behind the question is that God is a human projection. Or, in Philosophical terms, being is univocal.

In other words, their beef is with the Ancient Greek and Roman Gods who were like irascible and temperamental 'men-writ-large', not the Judeo-Christian one.

In other words, being is analogous and not univocal in the orthodox Christian Schema, so the question seems rather silly, but it's certainly, an ill-informed one.

Brett,

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer this week's challenge. I enjoy your insight and wisdom that you bring to the table to address these issues and the work you do for STR.

All that said I found it very distracting with riding in the car, camera bouncing, road tire noise, kid noises, and wife who clearly didn't want to be photographed.

I would like to concentrate on what you are trying to convey without all the other competition going on. Maybe answers in the car aren't a good venue. It's not something I would choose given the importance of the topic. Sorry if the sounds unduly harsh or nit picky. I'm just trying to be constructive without being offensive.

Please keep doing videos. I appreciate them and watch them. Just please not in the car with a thousand distractions.

Brett,
I think the "know how" was a little confusing and actually wrong. God certainly has the "know-how" to fix a refrigerator. He has the "know-how" to make a universe, much more a household appliance.
Perhaps we should define a category of "experience," and state that it is not knowledge. Example - I know what a purple striped elephant looks like without having experienced it at any point. However, the knowledge does not require an experience. I have never burned my leg, but I am quite confident that I know what burning my leg feels like.
So, it is possible to have the knowledge associated with an experience without the experience itself. Granted, I have picked up pieces of knowledge needed through experiences such as purple, stripes, and elephants. However, a God with all knowledge can certainly put together "what it is like" without having to have the first person experience.

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