Re: irrational atheists

joe e. dees (
Mon, 11 Jan 1999 05:30:04 -0600

Damien Broderick wrote:
> At 11:49 PM 1/10/99 +0000, Nick wrote:
> >I used to say that I was an atheist, but I've changed my mind and now
> >I'm just an agnostic. This is partly because of the possibility that
> >our world is a simulation; the posthumans running the simulation
> >could well be said to be gods.
> I doubt it, at least not in any sense of deity recognized by modern
> theologians (although it might fit with the plural and anthropomorphic gods
> of Greek, Roman and Norse mythology, not to mention Xena and a lot of Star
> Trek eps). If you build a snazzy alife sim and its GAs construct
> intelligent CAs, you'd be a kind of bridging `first cause', and might even
> have the power to intervene in their lives - even obliterate their entire
> experienced cosmos - but that wouldn't make you a god in any interesting
> sense. Gods are ontologically distinct from creatures, or they're not
> worth the paper they're written on.
> >There is also the possibility
> >that all possible worlds exist; then gods would exist since there are
> >gods in some possible worlds. Or if the universe is spatially
> >infinite, which it is on the simplest topology if it is open (which
> >it seems to be) then random fluctuations should lead to the
> >existence of godlike physical creatures somewhere (but would these
> >be real gods?).
> Again, I think this is an abuse of language. In an infinite universe there
> would be very powerful beings by that path; there could not (I think, but
> my set theory isn't remotely up to this) be a quantum fluctuation that
> yielded an infinite volitional entity coextensive with *all* those infinite
> worlds. And even with Gott-like (ha) closed timelike curves, I doubt that
> there could be a fluctuation that took the form of the logically earliest
> volitional entity that *preceded* itself and its own ontic context (unless
> it is the universe in toto).
> Moreover, I suspect this line of thought is self-refuting: shouldn't there
> also be (1) an *infinite* number of distinct gods so produced; and (b) at
> least one catastrophic transcendental event, perhaps accidental, perhaps
> done by a Mad Mind, that obliterates all these infinite universes? Or
> would such obliteration, like a vacuum catastrophe, have to proceed from a
> center outward at the speed of light? If so, any god postulated as its
> cause is crucially limited, and fails the definition accepted by most
> (Western) theists.
> >And there is the possibility that there might be a
> >kind of neoplatonistic god, a "creative principle" which might
> >explain why the world exists (though I think that looks highly
> >problematic).
> This sounds something like the array of current sub-theological
> representations of deity (as far as I know; I'm hardly an expert in gods)
> that is adduced by scientists such as, say, Paul Davies. I don't see how
> it makes sense as a proposition (so I guess I'm a noncognitivist in Max's
> terms, although it sounds like a nasty label to accept), but that might be
> a limitation of imagination.
> Damien Broderick

After reading "Superior Beings:If They Exist, How Would We Know?:Game Theoretic Implications on Omniscience, Omnipotence, Immortality and Incomprehensibility" by Steven J. Brams, I became a retired agnostic (I don't know, and don't give a tinker's damn anymore, because it's not relevant to this life I live here and now with others in a common world).