Re: Paper-tigers

Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@UNCWIL.EDU)
Sun, 05 Apr 1998 17:27:03 -0500 (EST)

At 12:54 AM 4/1/98 +0100, William B. Provine wrote:
>Dear Linda,
>How nice of you to join the discussion.
>> Since Will's 3/19 posting I have been pondering the question of what
>> our world would be like if we had a god that did NOT primarily work
>> using consistent, regular, and describable laws. It seems to me that if
>> that were the case, the world would be unpredictable, chaotic, and a
>> truly fearful place to live. I doubt that we would be able to recognize
>> miracles if that were the case, as we wouldn't have "laws" to be broken.
>I think that a natural world with no gods at all from any religion would
behave exactly
>the same way. This assumption is hard to disprove, just as I cannot
disprove your
>intuition that your Christian God is necessary to to give the laws that
govern nature.
>Plato in the Timaeus argued as do you: nature without the Demiurge's
influence (though
>later in the dialogue he talks mostly of lesser gods) would yield a
"chaos" that
>resembles somewhat your view given above.

Dear Will,

I think one ought to distinguish between our descriptions of the natural
(physical) world from the totality of events that take place in the world.
Science deals only with a portion of all such events---the physical ones. It
is true that scientific theories are devoid of deities. However, the fact
that such theories describe an aspect of reality does not preclude other
aspects of reality which are outside of the realm of science. It may be that
your reasoning ability is outside the realm of science. I do not mean a
mechanical description of the workings of the brain, but a description of
how non-physical concepts concerning meaning, values, purpose arise in the
human mind. Would you say that those concepts are nonsensical since they are
not explainable by purely scientific means?

>Incidentally, I don't consider the world a "fearful" place to live if
devoid of gods of
>any kind. I am not scared of death or thinking about death forever. With
the sting of
>death thus solved, the other problems of a naturalistic view are rather
minor. >Christians
>seem very scared of death as a total end of their lives. Why is this?

I have often heard from nurses that non-Christians have a "harder" time
dying than Christians. One does not have to believe in a spiritual realm to
fear death. Even Lucretius in his "De Rerum Natura" could not dispell the
fear of death with the aid of his atomistic theory of the mortality of the
soul. Who says Christians are scared of death? I would say quiet the
contrary. If Christians truly believe in a fairy tale of an afterlife, why
should they be afraid to die?

>> As for those exceptions, I am sure that God does sometimes do things
>> which do not conform to the regularities he normally uses.
>I am always glad to try out naturalistic interpretations even of these
events that are out
>of the normal regularities.
>Very best wishes, Will

I recently posted the first seven statements of the Declaration of
Principles Concerning Activities Following the Detection of Extraterrestrial
Intelligence by the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program.
The first one is:

1. Any individual, public or private research institution, or governmental
agency that believes it has detected a signal from or other evidence of
extraterrestrial intelligence (the discoverer) should seek to verify that
the most plausible explanation for the evidence is the existence of
extraterrestrial intelligence rather than some other natural phenomenon or
anthropogenic phenomenon before making any public announcement. If the
evidence cannot be confirmed as indicating the existence of extraterrestrial
intelligence, the discoverer may disseminate the information as appropriate
to the discovery of any unknown phenomenon.

Do you know of any unknown phenomenon in your life? Are all your human
experiences explained by your naturalistic interpretations?

It seems to me that if we use the scientific criteria of the SETI
scientists, then our observations of the physical world would indicate not
only the existence of design but also an intelligence behind the design.

Take care,