Re: Extropianism & Theology
Thu, 25 Feb 1999 18:55:25 EST


Thank you for your compliment. I would like to continue our discussion on a few of the points you have brought up.

"How about 'all powerful, all knowing, and Good' as a definition of God" -
This is a popular modern definition of God, and many people find this an attractive concept. However, as you take you are seeking to derive your knowledge of God from scientific observation of the universe, as opposed say to some source of authority (e.g. a holy book, prophet, etc.), we should examine this concept of God in the light of the Universe we find ourselves. I think with a little effort most of us could at least outline a different Universe with an internally consistant set of more benign laws and initial conditions than the one in which we find ourselves. For example, I can envision a Universe where from the beginning conscious beings are immortal, difficult to harm, mentally sound, with the ability to constantly grow and evolve, and where space-matter-energy are constantly created to provide endless resources and experiences for the myriad peoples of that Universe. Actually, this description reminds me of a couple other concepts, namely the various concepts of Heaven, and even an Extropian future. An all powerful God should be able to create such a Paradise. A benevolent God would want to create such a Universe. And an all knowing God would get it right the first time. Unfortunately, we do not seem to be living in such a Universe at this time. What does this mean? To my mind it means that one or more of the three attributes you describe are inaccurate. Let's examine the alternatives. a) God is not Good - This leaves with either an Evil God, in which case if said being had your other two attributes, then any Universe created by such a being would be likely be as similar to the concept of Hell as our first hypothetical Universe is to Heaven, or with a Neutral God, who most likely is uninterested in any lower consciousness and has this Universe the way it is for completely different reasons. For some reason, I find a Neutral God somewhat of an unstable concept, but that could be an aesthetic bias, and I must include the Indifferent Deity as a possibility. b) God doesn't know everything - I have trouble separating the concept of God being all powerful from God being all knowing. It seems to me that omniscience would be a necessary prerequisite for true omnipotence. I think most Extropians would agree that ignorance is an exploitable weakness. c) God is not all powerful - This is an option I do see as a strong possibility. Indeed, I can easily imagine a God who is Good, All Knowing, but not All Powerful. This need not make God weak, or even defeatable. It is possible that there may, in a sense, be an ecological niche with room for only one, the Most Powerful niche. This Most Powerful Being could be more powerful than any other possible combination of beings, but might be constrained by some laws of existence. Even a few such constraints might in and of themselves limit the type of Universes which exist, or a Good God might find that these constraints might limit the ethically acceptable actions this being could take. I believe some possible limits might involve the relation (if any) of the Origin of God and the Origin of the Universe to one another. More on this later.

Glen Finney