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Ron Murphy
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"Heaven and Hell Are An Invention of Man and The Church, Not God"

What you neglect to say is, so is God an invention of man.

The image you show quotes John Lennox; and in that quote he may be right, on several points. 

Our laws, of the universe, or of any system, are of course mere models of the system that help us understand to some extent how the system works, how to predict some future behaviour of the system, how we might contribute to the change of state of the system so that its future behaviour might be more favourable to us.

But there are limits. Any system cannot be fully explained, described, by some component of it, or even by its own self. Take a 3-digit universe - an imaginary, purely digital, abstract universe. It can reside in any of 8 different states. But introduce time, a life time, of that universe, where each 'tick' is one state of that universe, where does it record its consecutive states, its memory? Where does it record its future states, in order to predict its own future? It needs more bits that it consists of itself.

The only model of any system that records exactly and completely one single state of a system is the system itself, in one state. The only time evolving model of the universe, our universe, that is complete in any one single state, is the very universe itself. All we can produce, as components of that universe, is a subset of it. We can record, using components of the universe (brains, paper, computers, laws of physics as symbolic expressions), subsets of time sequential records. Components of the universe can have their state changed to map, to model, small parts of the universe. 

Thinking in terms of closed systems, our models, that are actually useful, are theoretical, ideal models, of closed systems. Our models describe the system in some crude sense, note some state of the system, and by defining inputs to the system, the model can predict, crudely, futire behaviours of the system.

In this sense, Lennox is right. As components of the system any law we produce, and Theory of Everything, is bound to be incomplete. Even if the universe were entirely deterministic, as Einstein thought it was, we as components of it do not have the capacity to record all its states. Using just one medium, paper, to map all the states of just Earth alone, would require that the paper contain not only a record of all states of all other matter that constitutes Earth, but also all states of all that paper - since that paper is part of the very Earth we are trying to map.

So, getting back to the image, the God poster, it is taking a massive leap from the correctness of the Lennox quote, to presuming some 'God'.

Let's go with the God hypothesis, that there is some entity out there, that maybe had a hand in creating this universe. As components of this universe how could we know anything about such an entity? We are constrained, as Lennox points out. 

Imagine insects that live their whole lives in as yet undiscovered caves, where the species has not been exposed to sunlight since long before man evolved. We you expect such a creature, no matter how intelligent, to predict the existence of humans, other apes, cars, planes, a Boing 747? When components of a confined system no matter how intelligent, are asked to speculate on what exists outside that system, or even if there is an outside, then all they can come up with is whatever their imagination is capable of dreaming up. It would be no surprise to find that intelligent insects, imagining what might be outside their caves, might imagine more of what they experience already. It should come as no surprise that man invents God in his own image.

Is there no hope for us, in discovering what lies outside our universe? To any complete degree, probably. All we can do is create models, and our models are implemented using components of our universe.

So far there are what amount to 'scientific' and 'mathematical' speculations. In hypothesising that there might be other bubble universes, for example, it is interesting to speculate what we might expect to see should such bubble universes interact. One might expect some change in the pattern of the background radiation, for example. Such patterns have been found. But other universes are just one possible explanation. When it comes to speculative science we are not in a position to anticipate all the possibilities with any satisfaction, and its temping to make what little evidence there is fit our desired models.

We have seen mysteries before that give hints of one theory being true, but later more evidence favours a different theory. 

So it is with God. It's a model, based on an image of ourselves, that we make fit every gap in our knowledge regarding the existence of the universe and us in it. 

The problem with the God hypothesis, as promoted by the pantheists, is that it is essentially no more than a God of the gaps, or an argument from incredulity. While it's one possible hypothesis, it is one among many. There is no evidence, for example, regarding the character of this God. When considering hypotheses that speculate on a good personal God, all the evidence is passed off as evidence for him could just as well be evidence for an evil personal God.

The point being that it is all rather odd that given what we know now, about our universe, and about our limitations for understanding it, and our greater limitation for access beyond it, that some of us should still be clinging to the musings of dessert tribes from antiquity. There really is no more reason to hold on to a pantheistic God than to any God ever invented. 

Even if we try to be entirely rational and sceptical, we might address one of your last points: "... but he did believe science pointed to the existence of an all-powerful and intelligent Creator. Of course, then you get the question of who created God. But I'll leave that one be.?"

God? Why not Gods? What on Earth, or all the universe, suggests that there is just one creator and not a committee? What suggests there is any intelligence involved whatsoever?

Intelligence is just one more example of God being created in our own limited image. We have experiences of intelligent beings - humans. But there are many of us. Why not speculate that there are many Gods? Perhaps the Greeks and Romans were closer to the mark, in number, if not in location. As well as humans there are less intelligent animals on earth too. Why are there not many lesser Gods? Again, the Greek and Roman god models seem to be better imaged, imagined, based on our experience. But, they are limited models nonetheless.

I don't have a problem with a mono-God hypothesis, as long as it is on the table with all the countless other variations on intelligence and non-intelligence. As speculations go they are all up for grabs. 

At least the 'scientific' and 'mathematical' 'natural' models are basing ideas on speculations that have some credibility - science and maths have been pretty fruitful so far. What is the mathematical model for and intelligent God? Where is any remote evidence that would support such a hypothesis? There is none.

It all makes churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, all nothing more than Star Trek conventions. Trekkies might indulge themselves in all things Star Trek. They might speculate about, and even invent, languages of the peoples of the story. They know their characters are fictional, and yet they get much pleasure out of going along with the fiction. But I don't think you would get any Trekkie actually praying to Spok for guidance, the way Christians pray to Jesus. And yet Jesus, as we know him today, is nothing more than a fictional character, based perhaps on some living human of the past - or possibly not.

Even the pantheistic God is an uninformative hypothesis. It is pure speculation that there might be some single entity that might have created this universe, without any reason for supposing that such a creation story should be necessary. There really is nothing to prefer that to some other speculative hypothesis, such as supposing that there is indeed an endless chain of universes that all come about without any need for any intelligence anywhere. 

Given that right now there is a great deal of science to show that our 'minds' are nothing more than the behaviour of material brains, then we have real questions that challenge the very meaning of intelligence - at least enough to put the whole 'intelligent God being' idea in question. If we really are mere complex dynamic matter tick-tocking along with all other particles of the universe, then intelligence amounts to nothing more than the complex behaviour of a complex mass of particles.

"Of course, then you get the question of who created God. But I'll leave that one be.?"

As well you might. Along with the questions about is there a God or anything remotely resembling the many fantasies we have concocted about such an entity?

I'd be interested to know what value is of any God model. What does it provide that a 'naturalistic' model (e.g. non-intelligent, not a 'being', not a single 'entity') does not? 

What is wrong with saying the following: Well, all that ancient God stuff is nonsense. Let's shelve it entirely and start from evidence we have now. Let's push our scientific models as far as we can and see what turns up. Let's continue to speculate along lines that we can actually think about testing someday, instead of running with what amounts to a fairy tale. … Let's say, for now, we don't know! And let's stop wasting our time on divisive religions that concoct absurd stories about what some fictional God might want us to do - or worse, what he might want us to do to eachother.

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