A Conversation for What is God?

New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 1

Playboy Reporter

Through out the ages there have been various attempts via philosophy to prove the existance of God. No luck so far. smiley - biggrin

Recently however, a fellow by the name of Chris Langan has developed a new frame-work for thinking about reality. (He calls his model the CTMU - Cognition Theoretic Model of the Universe)

This framework includes a rather interesting attempt to prove and define 'God' I'm quite impressed with what he's come up with, so I thought I'd try to give a quick summary of his argument in my own words.

Here's the basic gist of the argument:

(1) Proof that reality is self-creating and self-describing

Define 'Reality' to be everything which exists, including all physical and non-physical aspects. Thus if God existed, he would be part of reality by this definition.

Then there exists nothing outside reality. What then can explain reality?

Take 'nothing' Nothing is a total absense of any contraints. But since there are no constraints, there must exist the potential for something to exist. And this potential has to be realised for at least some realitites (the realities which are self-consistant)

Given that self-consistant realities must exist, and given that there existed nothing outside reality, the only possible explanation for 'reality' is that reality created itself!

Note: By 'Creation' we are NOT referring to an event in time. Time itself is a part of reality and therefore reality was not created 'in time' Thus whether the universe has existed for an infinite time or not is irrelevant to this argument. By 'Creation' we simply mean the mechanism by which the properties of the universe are determined.

Since 'Reality' created itself, another equally strange fact follows. The explanation (or theoretical description) of reality is itself a part of reality! This again, follows from the facts that reality has to have an explanation and that there is nothing outside reality (See above)


(2) Proof that all aspects of reality have 'mind-like' properties.


In order for something to be comprehensible, that something needs to be able to be described by a mind. This is because everything that exists can only be known and understand in someone's mind.

No one ever perceives things directly. What ever we see is simply a model which we have set up inside our minds. Thus every thing which exists, can only be known and understand to exist when it exists as a thought in someones mind!

In order for each thing to exist as a thought in someone's mind, that thing needs to be able to be described in terms of the most general and neccesaary cognitive processes going inside minds.

Thus one can formulate a general syntax for describing things which applies equally well to both mental processes and to physical processes!

Now, by (1) we proved that reality was a self-creating, self-describing system. But now consider, that for self-consistanty to be maintained through -out all of reality, the most general properties of reality must to some extent be replicated at all scales. Thus any given sub-set or part of reality, must to some extent have this self-creating, self-describing property.

We have just reasoned with help from (1) that any 'thing' must to some extent be self-created and self-describing, and be have also reasoned that any 'thing' can be described in terms of a general 'cognition' syntax.

What is the definition of a mind? The most general definition of a mind is that its a self-referential (ie self-describing, self-activating) system engaged in 'cognition'

Thus our argument, in fact, proves that any 'thing' (including all inanimate objects) functions like a mind! (to some degree or another)


(3) Proving that 'Reality' has holistic properties.

This is the easiest part of the argument. Suppose we tried to argue that reality is simply the sum of its parts (ie suppose that reality consists of all the individual objects within it interacting). We can see that this argument fails, due to the fact that all objects exist in space and time, and we would be unable to explain the existance of space and time itself.

Moreover, reality is self-consistant - there appear to be no internal contradictions and how could we explain why reality is self-consistant?

The only valid conclusion is that reality, in at least some of its aspects, functions like a single unified system, and possesses holistic properties which cannot be described simply the sum of its parts.


We are now in a position to prove the existance of God! Lets combine (1), (2) and (3) and complete the argument.

By (1), we proved that reality is a self-creating, self-describing system. Thus something created reality and determined all its properties (namely reality itself)

What properties does this 'Creator' have? By (2) we proved that any 'thing' functions like a mind. And by (3) we proved that the whole of reality itself is a single unified system and thus qualifies as a 'thing' with a mind. Thus we proved that a single supreme mind has created all of reality! We have just proved the existance of God.


The reasoning outlined above suggests that panthesism is correct, and that we should equate God with the Universe itself. It also resolves the problem of what created God by showing that God created himself and that God is in fact no more complex that the Universe (because God IS the universe) Finally, it establishes that all of our own minds, are simply a part of God's mind and that everything is a thought in the mind of God.

Pretty trippy huh? smiley - biggrin

I invite every one to ponder all this very carefully. Please read it more than once until you really understand it. Then please explain whether or not you agree with it.

For myself, I'm quite confident that the entire argument is more or less correct. Have fun trying to counter my proof of God's existance! All counter arguments will be considered but I doubt whether you will be able to do it.

smiley - zen


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 2

MaW

It doesn't seem to me to be any more conclusive than any other argument I've ever seen - apart from maybe the one about God existing "because the Bible says He does" which is a complete pile of [word not said to save the Moderators some time].

- why does reality need to have created itself? That's just a different way of looking at it that leads to a particular train of thought. What if reality was never created - or rather, was created infinitely far back in time? Creation has no meaning for something that has always been.

- why does the property of an object to be perceived through a cognitive process inbue it with the ability to engage in a cognitive process itself? Excuse me, but that seems like a bit of a stretch.

I won't mention the rest, as everything else seems to hang on that second point especially. In my opinion, there's a rather large hole in the argument there.


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 3

Guardian_007

Is that second point like "I think therefore I am; and since the rock is it must think also"?


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 4

MaW

It sounds somewhat like it to me, but since there's absolutely no proof that the "I think therefore I am" relationship is reflexive. I don't think the conclusion is valid.


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 5

Martin Harper

I wonder what deep thoughts rocks have. Do they hold long discussions over the corrupting influence of weathering on impressionable young pebbles? Or perhaps they have long debates over whether there is life after erosion? smiley - smiley


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 6

DoctorGonzo

I think one of the main problems is clearly evident.

Science offers proofs, and philosophy offers understanding. And scientists generally, as far as I'm aware, realise that their proofs are not proofs, but theories. Stephen Hawkings, for instance, has 'proved' the existance of black holes, but now argues that it's mostly rubbish. Actually - maybe it's the other way around., but I think my point is valid.


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 7

Playboy Reporter

Ok, MaW. You had two main objections.

I think I can deal with the first one easily enough, but your second point is more serious and may indeed be a problem for the argument. I will try to explain. smiley - scientist

Your first objection: why does reality need to have created itself?

Well, if you re-read the section near the beginning which I marked as 'Note' I was careful to define what I meant by 'creation'

Ok. So 'creation' is NOT talking about an event in time ok? What needs to be remembered is that even time itself is a part of 'reality' So that even time is something which would need to be created. By 'creation' I was just talking about the mechanism through which the properties of the universe are determined.

For example: Suppose the universe has existed for an infinite amount of time. We could still ask; Why does the universe have the properties that it does? What explains these properties? And the only answer can be that 'these properties are explained by the universe itself' or alternatively ; 'these properties are created by reality' (ie reality created itself) This follows from the fact that 'nothing is outside reality'

Now, second objection: why does the property of an object to be perceived through a cognitive process imbue it with the ability to engage in a cognitive process itself?

Well, the short and simple answer is that it is the general mental categories underlaying thought itself (for instance space, time, logic) which are neccessary for anything at all to exist in the first place! These general abstract things actually require or imply 'cognition' (BECAUSE they are abstract things!)

Let me try to explain this a little more clearly. smiley - biggrin

The second part of the argument actually relies on the first part. That is, it relies on the fact that reality is self-creating and self-describing. Now, given that reality as a whole is self-creating, and reality is self-consistant, it actually follows that every local point within reality also has to some lesser degree this same property (of self-creation and self-description)

And a 'self-referential property' is precisely a defining feature of cognition!

As for you Lucinda, wondering what a rock 'thinks about' ! smiley - biggrin

Well, of course the argument requires 'degrees of consciousness' The consciousness of a rock would of course be very very low - but I am maintaining that it is NOT actually non-existant! Even a rock has to have a very very low level of consciousness if my argument is correct.

Hopefully you are all starting to become a little more convinced... smiley - puff

Until next time... smiley - cool


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 8

Playboy Reporter

Ok, in the course of trying to tackle some other objections that have been made elsewhere I will hopefully succeed in clarifying the argument.

Firstly, the argument does not support dualism, it refutes it. Basically the argument is saying that everything which exists is a sort of 'mind stuff' (So this is monism - reality consist of one basic substance)

Now: 'reality is real - unreality is unreal' Does it follows that reality created itself? Actually...I maintain that it does.

To see why, consider that the above tautology is equivalent to saying that 'nothing exists outside reality' or 'what exists outside reality has no effect on reality which can be understand' (because if any entity outside reality had an effect on reality which could be understood that entity would not be 'nothing' but 'something' and it would therefore be a part of reality)

So asking what created reality is equilavent to asking why reality possess the properties which it does. What determined (created) these properties?

Explaining all the properties of the universe is equivilant to explaining how every property is related to every other property. Relations between properties define 'high level attributes of reality' which can be assigned 'true' or 'false' labels. If we could assign true/flase labels to all such attributes then it logically follows that 'reality created itself' (because every property of reality has been traced to a 'cause' consisting of other properties of reality)

Suppose we tried to take the line that some of these high level atrributes of reality are inexplicable. (ie we cannot assign a high level attribute the label 'true' or 'false')

But this failure to assign a true/false attribute would mean it literally does not exist and therefore 'reality would fall apart' (because in a logically consistant system all true/false attributes must exist - or else the system is logically inconsistant and in an inconsistant system 'anything is possible' - there would be no 'laws of science at all)

Why do I claim that inability to assign a true/false label to a high level attribute of reality would imply it's non-existance?

The reason is that all high level attributes must be comphrensible to a mind in order to exist. This follows from the fact that certain general categories of logic neccessery for anything at all to exist (ie maths, space, time) are MENTAL categories and therefore 'cognitive' in nature.

In short, reality MUST be self-creating.

What about another of my apparent assertions:

'there must exist the potential for something to exist' Does this mean that even unrealized, unreal, non-existant, non-things have a chance? Actually it does, but this doesn't contradict anything I have said!

For these 'unreal, non-existant, non-things' can have absolutely no effect on reality WHILE they are 'unreal, non-existant, non-things' Only when a 'potential thing' is bought into existance does it actually become a 'real thing'

As I have already explained, in order for something to be a 'potential thing' it must be something capable of being comprehensible to a mind. (ie it have the property of logical self-consistancy with other aspects of reality, as explained above)

But 'self-consistancy' alone is not enough to ensure existance. Existance can only be 'ensured' through 'teleology' (ie through the 'will' of the mind which is Gloabl Reality itself- The mind of God)

<Playboy slugs lots of smiley - alesmiley - alesmiley - ale and is now smiley - drunk

Hopefully now my argument is starting to make a bit more sense smiley - biggrin




New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 9

Martin Harper

So the consciousness of the universe could be that of a rock. Sorry, but such an entity would not strike me as particularly godlike...


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 10

Wonko

I don't see any basical difference between yor arguing and the Theory of Evolution except for introducing the symbol "god", which, as everything works by itself, is superfluous.

If you replace the word mystic with mutation and selection you got it. smiley - smiley


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 11

MaW

Sorry Playboy, but your elaboration isn't any more convincing than your original description. I still think you're making some fairly huge leaps in the logic, without filling in the gaps in the middle. Yes, it hangs together somewhat, but it seems to me to be more like a rambling train of thought than anything that can be confirmed by reasoning - at least not my reasoning, anyway.

As for creation - changing the definition doesn't really count as a valid option. Besides, if the universe has indeed existed for an infinite amount of time, isn't creation utterly irrelevant? The universe is here, with the properties it has, and it always has been. Therefore wondering how it got them is pointless, since it didn't.

And it'll take a lot to convince me the universe hasn't existed for an infinite amount of time, since I've never seen anything else that seemed even remotely possible.


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 12

Madent

It really is a pity that philosophy isn't more widely studied at school. This would prevent silly arguments such as the above being presented as "proofs".

Philosophy is basically science - the application of reasoning and logic to formulate hypotheses that describe observable phenomena.

The above proof is incoherent and irrational.

To take just one point alone, Point 2. There is much that is incomprehensible about life, the universe and everything and just because you or I cannot comprehend something doesn't mean it doesn't exist and even if something does exist it may not be possible for you or I to observe it either directly or indirectly and therefore proove its existence at all.

A well known philosophical proof is "I think therefore I am" but all this demonstrates is self awareness.

The above proof can be reduced to something like:

"I think therefore I am"
"I am therefore I am real"
"I cannot prove the existence of my surroundings"
"The only proof of reality is my own thoughts"
"Reality must be my thoughts"

This leads down the route of:

"I am reality"
"I created reality"
"I am God"

At which point most philosophers in history give up and concentrate on working out something useful. Like how to build some dirty great big and really ingenious war engines to knock out the Roman fleet before it reaches Syracuse and burns it to the ground.


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 13

Playboy Reporter


smiley - hotdog Madent,

Well I think you have mis-understood. Your 'supposed summary' of my proof is of course 'classic solipsism' - the belief that nothing exists except oneself. That is not what the argument is saying at all!

The whole point of the argument is that it requires the existance of a 'Universal Mind' (ie God) in order to REFUTE solipsism

The arguement was basically saying 'certain abstract things are neccessary for anything at all to exist - ie maths, logic, space, time' - and these abstract things essentially require the pre-existance of 'cognition' (BECAUSE they refer to abstract processess)

Thus cognition (ie thought) is the basic essense of reality. It follows that everything has to be comprehensible to a mind in order to exist. (Note: Comprehensible does NOT require that all things have to be perceived directly - not at all - just that a mind could IN PRINCIPLE explain them)

But there are plenty of things that at the present time are not understood by the human mind. Why then does any thing at all exist?

In order to REFUTE solipsism and reaffirm the existance of an objective reality the argument then requires an all-knowning 'Universal Mind' to which all things ARE comprehensible. Only in this way can a person escape the ludicrous conclusion of solipsism that 'my thoughts are reality'

smiley - hotdog Lucinda - this also deals with your objection. The Mind associated with the Universe must be 'all knowing' in order to ensure the existance of 'all things'

Now smiley - hotdog MaW. You made a good point about the possibility of the universe existing forever, but you still misunderstood my reply.

Time itself is a part of 'Reality' So even if the universe has existed for an infinite amount of time we can still talk about 'creation' - ie the creation of time itself.

Remember from the perspective of something 'outside reality' the universe is timeless... imagine you are 'outside' reality and then you cannot operate on the time system which is 'a part of reality' An infinite amount of time within reality is no time at all to you. So you would simply see all points in space and time already layed out before you like a motionless painting. And it is perfectly valid to talk about 'the creation' of this painting.

To put it another way...in a universe existing for infinite time we can still ask 'why does the universe have these properties instead of some other properties?' We can simply redefine 'creation' to mean 'the explanation why' Then exactly the same argument applies...ie my argument proves that there DOES have to be an explanation.

Now smiley - hotdog wonko... well my argument is basically for 'panthesism' ie the idea that the Universe itself is God, so of course you are right to say that it fully supports the theory of evolution and one could equally well simply talk in terms of ordinary science... but my argument allows for the existance of 'higher levels of description'

(for example you could talk about your country consisting of a lot of individual people interacting and you would be right...but at a higher level you can also talk about things like 'government', 'the economy' ,'social groups' etc.)

I still say my arguments are not too bad... but I can definitely see I'm going to have to rewrite the thing and do a much better job of it... smiley - biggrin

Until next time... smiley - cool


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 14

Madent

Playboy, I think you really need to look back at the history of such things as the Cargo Cults before you start trying to explain the universe in a manner that makes sense to you.

I trust that I don't have to explain the history of the Cargo Cults, but basically their religion is derived from their logical and proveable interpretation of their surroundings and their lives, i.e. their reality.

As observers from outside of their reality we know that their religion is just a load of rubbish, but it worked for them. (I understand that there may still be one active cult in the South Pacific.)

In a similar vein, your proof of the existence of God is founded upon a number of western, scientific and most importantly in your view logical arguments.

Spot the similarity.

You have argued yourself into a corner.

You explicitly state that "The whole point of the argument is that it requires the existance of a 'Universal Mind' ". (BTW it should be existence.)

Clearly you believe in, for want of a better word, a god. Therefore for you the "Universal Mind" already exists and therefore you proof is self-evident. However an atheist does not accept the existence of a "Universal Mind" and therefore lacks a fundamental element of your "weltangschlung" to be able to accept your argument.

To put it plainly you make far too many assumptions and demand too many things to be blindly accepted for your argument to withstand critical analysis.


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 15

MaW

* nods *

Playboy, I still think it's meaningless to consider the root cause. It's all very well to say what you have about looking at our infinite universe from outside reality, but just before then you said that nothing is outside reality, so your own argument is therefore, by your own admission, meaningless.

And why does maths have to exist for the Universe to exist with the properties it has? Maths is a human invention (and maybe an invention of other species we haven't found out about yet of course). It formalises certain relationships we perceive between numbers - and numbers themselves are abstract concepts initially invented in order to count things. Yes, maths can be used in conjuction with the sciences to model many, many things, but that doesn't to me imply that maths is an integral part of the universe. Maths and science are both attempts by us to formalise and understand the universe around us - science more than maths, I think. There is absolutely no guarentee science is right - it just happens to work in most of the situations that we are capable of testing it in.

But there is still no justification for saying that various abstract concepts are required for the universe to exist, as these concepts are symptoms of our attempts to perceive and understand the universe with our highly limited senses. They only exist for us - there is nothing that says that the universe perceives them to exist as well, or indeed that the universe is capable of perceiving anything.


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 16

Wonko

By the way, the word is Weltanschauung, the (philosophical) view of the world.


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 17

Madent

Sorry.

No spell check er handy and it's been a few years since I last used the term myself.

Thanks Wonko.


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 18

Madent

Sorry.

No spell checker handy and it's been a few years since I last used the term myself.

Thanks Wonko.


New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 19

Playboy Reporter

smiley - hotdog Madent,

You say I clearly want to believe in a god. Well, don't be too sure, because if you read my first post I make it pretty clear that this is not actually MY argument but someone elses. smiley - winkeye I took the guys argument, put it into my own words in as simple form as possible and posted it here because I was intrigued by it and wanted to see if I could defend it. And I think I've done a reasonable so far BTW.

Actually I'm quite open minded and don't have strong views either way about the correctness of the argument. So I'm certainly not arguing from a position of preconceived views.

You seem to be saying that the argument is circular. Well it's not because it certainly doesn't start from the position that a 'Universal Mind' exists. It has a set of initial premises and then attempts to REASON to that conclusion. When I said that 'The Whole point of the argument is that it requires the existence of a Universal Mind' I meant that when you start from some initial premises you reach a point in the argument where you are either forced into solipsism or else you must accept the existence of a 'Universal Mind' There is nothing circular about the argument at all.

Yes I know all about cargo cults - Feynman made a humorous reference to them in a book he wrote actually. You say my argument makes use of 'western, scientific concepts of logic' and say 'spot the similarity with cargo cults' smiley - ermsmiley - silly No, there isn't any similarity unless you are arguing that the whole of modern science and logic is a cargo cult!

smiley - hotdog MaW

Actually I never said that the concept of 'outside reality' was 'meaningless' I just said that that which is outside reality can have no effect of that which is 'within reality' Thats why the label 'nothing' is applied to 'outside reality' smiley - winkeye I was simply using the idea of 'stepping outside reality' in order to give you a little analogy about how even a universe existing for an infinite time can still be said to have been 'created'

Now you raise a really tough point about the possible status of abstract things such as mathematical concepts. You ask why these things need to have an existance and you wonder whether they are just human inventions.

Heres an interesting argument: Suppose abstract things were indeed 'just human inventions' Then try to imagine how the universe could have given rise to 'minds' at all. Next time you walk down the street - look at the people walking past you. From your point of view they are just physical objects - their bodies consist of atoms. chemicals etc. They have brains. These brains consists of nerve cells which transmit electrical impulses. Now you postulate the existance of an 'abstract things' which you call 'minds' in order to explain the fact that the people around you seem to display 'intelligent behaviour' Is not the abstract concept you call a 'mind' simply a 'human invention' postulated to explain certain facts? No it is not! The 'abstract concept' you call a 'mind' MUST be real, and your own mind is the proof of it! (I think, therefore I am) This proves that abstract concepts can have a real existance.

To put it another way....

The physical world exists and eventually gives rise to human minds which are 'abstract concepts'. If abstract concepts are 'just human inventions' then then they need human minds to exist in the first place... (Spot the contradiction!) smiley - biggrin QED Abstract concepts are NOT 'just human inventions'

Until next time... smiley - cool







New Philosophical proof of God's existance

Post 20

MaW

Did I say that the mind is an abstract concept? No, I did not. To my way of thinking, the mind is a thing. Maths is a concept, a formula, a means of expression and explanation. The mind is a thing, most of us would appear to have one, and thus it's as real and concrete as the monitor this text is appearing on.

Close, but no banana.


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