Re: God as tinkerer

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
Date: Sat Aug 27 2005 - 14:40:22 EDT

I find your approach interesting. Seems what you don't understand doesn't
count or isn't.
Dave

On Sat, 27 Aug 2005 01:03:16 -0700 "Don Winterstein"
<dfwinterstein@msn.com> writes:
Dave Siemens wrote:

"Logic is an unconditional route to truth,...."

You're right, provided topics are restricted to mathematics or logic. I
use a more general definition of truth: "...the quality of being in
accordance with experience, facts, or reality; conformity with fact."
[Webster's New World College Dictionary] As you know, the crucial
concern with logic in terms of real-world applicability is whether or not
the underlying assumptions are valid. When we're talking about exotic
things like being outside time, I have little confidence they are.

"Denigrating the "attributes of God" does not make them go away."

What I have against them is nothing terribly serious, but they tend to
make of God a "god object" in the sense that seeing a woman in terms of
her measurements tends to make her a sex object. Having a woman's
measurements makes it easy for men to mentally use her in every which way
except the way that is appropriate; having a list of God's attributes
makes it easy for people to mentally use him in every which way except
the way that is appropriate, namely, for coming into or nurturing a
personal relationship. I suspect God does not enjoy being characterized
in terms of these attributes any more than most women enjoy being
characterized in terms of their measurements.

Don

----- Original Message -----
From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.
To: dfwinterstein@msn.com
Cc: asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2005 11:19 AM
Subject: Re: God as tinkerer

Don,
Your first paragraph presents an example of the problems that arise in
discussion. I did not suggest that "logic cannot allow God to act in
time." I said that the deity is outside of time. But, as Creator he is in
total control of everything in time. The last sentence in the paragraph
is false. Logic is an unconditional route to truth, but not to empirical
fact. But we do not have an unconditional proof of empirical fact in
science. Pure logic provides necessary truths, but they are empty of
empirical content. In applying logic, if the premisses are true and the
argument is valid, the conclusion is true.

Denigrating the "attributes of God" does not make them go away. I'm
reminded of my wife's discussion of a child's diagnosis of intestinal
parasites. One of the women present declared, "I don't believe in worms."
Disbelief does not change the facts.

George makes a relevant note in separating theology from philosophy. I've
been noting the latter. I note also that George's theology of creation is
definitely not the same as a scientific approach. But, because human
beings are limited, there is no way for a person to be on top of
everything. Each of us has to cultivate our own garden, and sometimes
trade with our neighbors.
Dave

On Fri, 26 Aug 2005 04:42:24 -0700 "Don Winterstein"
<dfwinterstein@msn.com> writes:
Dave,

Because none of us knows what it means to be outside of time, everything
we say about such a state is a product of and limited by imagination.
Logic is valid within a framework of assumptions. If logic cannot allow
God to act in time, then there's something wrong with one or more of the
assumptions. We may not be able to determine what exactly is wrong any
more than we can understand how a physical entity can be both a wave and
a particle. Scientists long ago established that logic by itself did not
offer a reliable route to truth.

Hence to discuss whether or not one can have an experience outside of
time is irrelevant to me. "Outside of time" is not a category I deal
with. (--Although I acknowledge that God as likely creator of time is
unlikely to be constrained by it. [But I have no idea what this
statement might mean in practice!]) Furthermore, many of the "attributes
of God,"--such as omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal--I've long
regarded as meaningless clutter dragged into pure religion by
philosophers. Theologians have converted emotional responses of praise
and adoration as recorded in the Bible into "precise" philosophical
terms, whereupon, while they seem to increase abstract understanding,
they lose meaning for religion. (So now you know what a tough nut I'm
going to be for you to crack.) What has meaning for religion is the Word
that creates and enhances relationship with God.

You correctly suggest that experience of God is far and away the most
convincing evidence I have for God. Unfortunately it's not possible to
bring other people in to see for themselves what I'm referring to.
That's a persistent frustration. What this spiritual experience may or
may not imply about what God "has to" do I have no idea. I don't see
that it implies any related thing. And I'm comfortable with Romans 8:29.
 In fact, verse 30 says, "And those he predestined he also called...."
Calling as implemented through Word and Spirit requires that God act in
time.

(Note that, if there is anything such as absolute truth for us humans, it
is the content of individual experience before the individual tries to
give expression to such experience. As soon as one tries to express
experience, he employs symbols obtained from previous experience and
thereby contaminates the content. He contaminates the content because
symbols only have meaning relative to other symbols; they have no
absolute meaning and so cannot convey absolute truth. I cannot
accurately describe my experience of God. In fact, as soon as I identify
the experience for myself as being "of God," I thereby contaminate it,
because the symbol "God" [with or without all those philosophical
attributes!] is something quite other than the real person. That's why
extended experiences were necessary for me to arrive at an acceptably
accurate understanding of the experiences.)

(Is the Word an absolute symbol? Yes, but the words that attempt to
convey the Word really only hint at the Word; they only suggest him. The
Spirit conveys the reality.)

Don

----- Original Message -----
From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.
To: dfwinterstein@msn.com
Cc: asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Thursday, August 25, 2005 11:45 AM
Subject: Re: God as tinkerer

Don,
Just how could you have an experience outside of time? Seems to me you're
making your experience the measure of God's existence. This makes God
react, with the implication that he has to wait for knowledge. How does
this match up with Romans 8:29 et sq.?
Dave

On Thu, 25 Aug 2005 04:00:26 -0700 "Don Winterstein"
<dfwinterstein@msn.com> writes:
I'm not sure our logical underpinnings correctly take into account how
God might (or might not) be constrained by his being outside time. As
I've stated here before, I'm convinced that I've had extended personal
interactions with God as Spirit. These could not have happened unless
God entered my space. I conclude there's something wrong with the logic.
 Actually, both QM and Relativity tell us clearly that human logic is
inadequate for comprehending the world. Who would be surprised if it's
inadequate for comprehending God?

As a scientist I was an experimentalist; as a man of God, likewise.
Experience is by far the most concrete thing; our logic must be forced to
conform or be set aside if it can't.

Don
Received on Sat Aug 27 14:47:58 2005

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Aug 27 2005 - 14:47:58 EDT