8:00 AM: 4/8
The attempt to put buddhism’s atheism against the version of the new atheists, as here with NK, is useful and of interest, but in the end the ‘god’ question is not so simple. I think we can prevent ourselves from going mad in a false debate by adopting the Enlightenment version of sanity proposed by Kant who found antinomies at the core of all such debates.
In an age of science atheism of various kinds is tending to come into the ascendant. But we should keep in mind that atheists have ended up promoting a false version of evolution to suggest falsely that design arguments, so called, are false. Thus atheists are thus creating the same kind of mythology that ended up discrediting theism. The key antinomies pointed to by Kant are almost weird: they drive the mind into a frenzy in a hurricane of ‘dialectical’ contradictories.
We should consider the question of the origins of monotheism, or that of the Israelites: they invoked ‘god’ (they didn’t use that term) because they suspected/detected a ‘something’ that could operate over whole regions over time with ‘actions’ that could hardly be mechanical. Originally, this was a sensible insight. But they moved into a contradiction: if this ‘god’ was really ‘god’ why did it act over the space of ‘Israel/Judah’ and yet also in the age of Abraham? Soon this issue was forgotten, if it ever registered, but we can see that they were really discovering our macro effect with its distinction of continuous/discontinuous, or stream and sequence, effects. We can refer to our model here in WHEE.
The question of god is thus not really very simple. Look at my ‘macro’ effect. Atheists say there is no evidence for god. But in fact the evidence in world history is so overwhelming that it stands out in ‘bold’. We see a ‘mechanical’ agent passing over into a ‘willing’ agent, one that can generate transformations in whole cultures over short intervals of centuries on a global scale. It even raises the question as to whether ‘god’ generated buddhism, for example. But at that point the argument peaks and begins to go sideways…
The Israelites couldn’t quite distinguish between an ‘age of revelation’ producing a god religion, and a god religion which said that god produced that religion through action in history.
Thus as we pursue this further we begin to see that this evidence which is overwhelming isn’t really evidence for god. If fails a key test: it is local and temporary in its action, and switches on an off. And yet it is also a reference to a ‘god’ whose action is universal throughout all space and time. So a really ‘good idea’, bon idee, ended up in multiple versions of Kantian crash and burn. And after an initial clarification atheism has also failed. We can see that there are phenomena, such as the Axial Age, which neither religion nor science can handle.
My response to these issues is to, first, point to the cosmic expansion of scale that puts the ‘god’ idea in a larger context: historical action in a specific planetary system in very short intervals, doesn’t seem so believable anymore although they are compatible with views of godly omnipotennce. But somehow the intimate interaction claimed for the era of the old Testament doesn’t seem so cogent anymore. It is too provincial. But, still, we are confronted with evidence, not of omnipotence, but of something that can do some fairly impressive wonders over the course of world history. But can’t science move to close the explanation gap and ascribe those wonders to mechanical action? It is ironically similar to the kind of contraction we see in the wave/particle duality, a very different situation to be sure.
We can’t resolve a ‘will’/’mechanism’ dilemma, at least as yet. The ‘macro model’ so-called scores a strong plus for ‘mechanism’ with its pointing to the way the evidence exhibits a very close resemblance to a particular kind of system. But further study shows the action of this system to be also very suggestive of design issues. That springs from its creative character and the awy it can generate ultracomplex things like art, poetry, etc…The issue is still more complex: it can generate these but humans carry out the specifics. Homer, btw, was very specific about this: he explicitly claimed that his poetry was ‘generated’ by a muse, a clear design agent! Was he correct? He was in the same confusion as the Israelites: he couldn’t distinguish a muse acting universally over time versus within the boundaries of the Axial Age! The issue in this case is especially tricky: our stream and sequence argument shows that Homer’s idea of a muse has the same problem as the Israelite conception of ‘god’, or in fact, ‘Jehovah’. But is Homeric poetry therefore purely human in creation? That probably won’t work either: the actual collation and crystallization of Greek epic, although it used ‘stream’ elements of great antiquity, that suddenly, as we can see, more or less, as they cross the ‘Axial’ interval entered into a different process.
Enough…This kind of discussion can go on and on, and in the end theism and atheism as we take them are in shreds. So the current ascendance of ‘atheism’ is, like theism, subject to a reversal of fortune at the end of which the whole ‘god’ question becomes murky, as Kantian analysis suggests.
It could hardly be otherwise: we are unable to define a ‘god’ we can defend as believable or unbelievable: we can have no debate unless we can first define ‘god’. And that we cannot do. And we are left with the clear action of something that resembles ‘god’ acting in world history. But we have no definition nor any proof via that definition of anything one way or the other.