Re: [asa] Musing on entropy, chaos, and omniscience

From: Jim Armstrong <jarmstro@qwest.net>
Date: Mon May 25 2009 - 13:38:54 EDT
I too am grateful for the presence and consistency of the conservation laws, now that Creation is in place.
But that really wasn't the point.
Whatever God did to initialize Creation is the point, and it seems to me that "ex nihilo" as a process might well be the way it appears to us in our context. But that appearance may not be (and probably isn't)  particularly accurate if we were able to access the domain of God's existence. Our context does not span the whole of reality, most particularly not spanning the reality of God's existence. Who knows? He may have a workshop or laboratory, and raw starting stuff in forms of which we know nothing and of which we are incapable of knowing. We would never know the difference from that and ex nihilo. But the posit of ex nihilo just seems inappropriate, more akin to a statement of magic than a descriptor of divine creation. This is just an opinion. Perhaps most users of "ex nihilo" are aware of the implicit limitation. Maybe not.

The use of this expression does offer a convenient shorthand, and I guess I would be hard-pressed to offer a concise substitute at this point.

JimA [Friend of ASA]



Alexanian, Moorad wrote:
Surely, the issue of violations of conservation laws would not come to the fore if the cosmic background radiation did not force scientists to consider the creation of the universe--Of course, many are trying to avoid such logical conclusion by constructing theories where there is no singularity. Recall that even Sir Arthur Eddington, which I think may have been a Christian, found the notion of a beginning abhorrent to science. Therefore, once created, I think conservation laws ought to exist. Can you imagine a universe without conservation laws? I can't.

Moorad

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of Jim Armstrong
Sent: Monday, May 25, 2009 12:21 PM
To: ASA
Subject: Re: [asa] Musing on entropy, chaos, and omniscience

Re the first para - I don't see how this would necessarily be any
violation. If Creation was "not" a "moment before" Creation, then all
that is required is that Creation is "seeded" with something transformed
from another plane of reality (in which God is a "resident"), a plane
other than our space-time, energy/matter constrained existence which a
moment ago didn't exist. But presumeably, God did exist.  Ex-nihilo is
our construct, bearing the implication that our existence is the only
existence. Don't we hope that's not the case? Moreover, in Jewish
thought (as I understand it), Creation was more an organization and
shaping (and naming) event (from non empty-set "chaos") than literally
ex-nihilo.

JimA [Friend of ASA]

Merv Bitikofer wrote:
  
Indeed!  and that any creation (or beginning point) ex-nihilo would be
a violation of just about every law of conservation would seem to be
the elephant in the room here.  These philosophies take aim at a god
that very few, if any, Christians ever claim.

I also thought a recent public radio interview bordered on the
ridiculous.  The findings of some researchers were discussed that were
purporting to show some correlation between prayer and the health of
the pray-er.  No biggie here --and it wasn't for them either; they
were happy to concede the mechanism of mind-body links or the power of
positive thinking.  But then it got more dicey around the question of
the effects of the prayer *on others*.  Some had apparently researched
and concluded that if the pray-er was personally close to the
prayer-recipient, that there still was a positive correlation through
some entirely unknown mechanism (they actually speculated about
string-theory or quantum connections & such).   But on prayer for the
health recovery of a complete stranger ---here the conclusions were
"clear":   NO correlation  (or in some cases people even got worse
--which would seem to contradict the preceding conclusion and
everything else they said, suggesting faulty research.)  And their
reasoning was straightforward on this:  there could be no possible
mechanism for such prayer to work.   Which again, if they were taking
aim at Christian spirituality (what else motivates such "studies" here
in the west), then they missed the elephant in the room --and that is
that Christians don't generally direct their prayers to or at the
person in need.  Prayers go to God  (or maybe some saint).  And God
presumably may or may not grant the request.  In which case no
Christian would expect a causal mechanism to be found  --and even the
lack of correlation of results when praying for strangers would
probably only be marginally troubling for some Christians.  Others
here have already pointed out the trouble with "putting God to the
test".
I really liked the exchange in "Bruce Almighty" in which God
personally asks the protagonist what he wants:  to which the Jim Carey
character, after some serious and sanctimonious thought replies:
peace on earth.   And God replied:   that's a great prayer .........
if you're Ms. America.   Now tell me what you REALLY want.  Then the
protagonist gives a more heart-felt plea regarding his own girl-friend
situation, and God replies to the effect ----- now THAT'S a prayer.

--Merv
p.s.   another profound line in that movie ran something like this:
Jim Carey (who is allowed to play God for a day in a big city) asks
the real God:  "How can I make my girlfriend love me if I'm not
allowed to violate her freewill in any way?"

To which God replies:  "If you figure that one out, then please tell
me --I would really like to know."


dfsiemensjr wrote:
    
The problem noted parallels one from Jaegwon Kim, a philosopher, who
argued that there cannot be a God because he would have to interact with
the world and it would show up in mass-energy calculations. The guy did
not realize that a Creator, not being physical, would not be bound by
physical restrictions.

This leads me to a couple questions: Would Kim's argument not run afoul
of the mass-energy needs of the Big Bang? How would the perpetual need
for more energy for new universes impact the multiverse notion?
Dave (ASA)


      
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