[extropy-chat] Putting God to Rest

Mike Dougherty msd001 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 25 04:10:22 UTC 2007

On 4/24/07, Samantha Atkins <sjatkins at mac.com> wrote:
> I believe Damien was pointing out the fact that one can conceive there
> could be a higher order being than oneself and one always can conceive
> of such a being is not an argument for God as usually conceived or even
> for the actual existence of any such being.  The line of reasoning is
> similar to an old argument for God as the highest order being far beyond
> human conception.

agreed.  if "as usually conceived" means the abrahamic god, then i
believe I understand this point.  I also agree that there is no proof.
 My position is that to discuss some concept such as "God" there needs
to be a mutual understanding of the terms.  I am more inclined to
start with, "Suppose there exists a sufficiently advanced state of
being beyond which current human thinking is unable to conceive, label
that God...."  and discuss from that point.  Any later proof is
suspect due to the starting definition, but it does arbitrarily
bootstrap the concept.  Although I think I have done a poor job
establishing this point so far.

> > The quote from me (above) was asking about defining a term or
> > qualifying a label.
> Which term, God?  God is already defined on rather non-defined by the
> believers.  Some rarefied though experiment God is not God as generally
> though of, worshipped, etc. in the culture.  So I don't see where such
> an effort would gain much.

I know "God" is so overloaded with meaning that it is different for
each person, which I why I attempted the above declaration for point
of reference.  I was originally asking what Extropians or
Transhumanists would call a belief in a recursively defined higher
order, such that upon realizing that state the next higher state is
implicitly defined to be above the one just realized.  Picture the
scene in Godel, Escher, Bach where a Djinni must ask G.O.D. for
permission to grant additional wishes beyond the normal three.  In
that example, G.O.D. is a recursive acronym for G.O.D. Over Djinni.
Each Djinni invokes another (more powerful lamp) to contact their
G.O.D.  The request is passed up to infinity.  The response back from
infinity is, of course, No.

> You say you want communication then you label some of the people here
> "knee jerk atheist"?  That is inconsistent at best if not hypocritical.

Yeah, that wasn't right.  Thanks for calling me on it so I can
apologize.  I felt rebuked by what seemed a negative response to what
I posted.  I was still defensive after a few hours, so the next time I
checked the thread I responded emotionally.  I read your response a
few hours ago and i've been thinking you are right.

> Most Buddhist I know believe in considerable orders of higher beings and
> engage in quite a bit of magical thinking including the assumption that
> changing one's own consciousness can transform everything and the de
> facto assumption that the important aspects of suffering are those
> within one's control with training, i.e., one's attachments.  There is
> considerable cognitive dissonance in simultaneously holding the self as
> illusory and having reincarnation as an important supporting basis for
> the general buddhist worldview.  Boddhisatva and enlightenment itself
> not to mention becoming a Buddha are higher states.  There are claims
> that a Buddha frees all beings of suffering on all planes and throughout
> all time.   I don't see how this is substantially different from other
> religious thinking.

I don't remember if we're down on just "God" or all "religious
thinking" - I know they're usually codependent, but there might be a
distinction.  I'm 0 for 3 tonight, so I certainly don't want to
propose any new ideas :)

> > But if this is suffering from a category mistake, then I don't want to
> > be indoctrinated into accepting this wysiwyg existance is the most we
> > can hope for.
> Do you honestly think that any extropians hold such a bizarre formulation?\

honestly no, that was more immature emotional backlash.  I think i'm over that.

I do think the extropian phase space for ideas covers so much ground
that being on opposite sides of "mainstream" thinking can present a
huge challenge.  Maybe this is analogous to attempting to
differentiate stars across the galactic center.

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