Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Knowledge unknown

One of the most widely held and yet heavily contested path of belief is one which includes the 3 O’s god: omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. Omnibenevolence is an incredibly difficult quality to address. The problem lies within the structure of its definition. The Oxford English Dictionary simply states it as an unlimited or infinite disposition to do good. A philosophical definition might go further to describe it as moral perfection. But what is the nature of goodness, of moral perfection? Many different cultures would describe this feature in many diverse ways. While suicide is almost universally thought of as disreputable and unethical in American culture, many followers of traditional Japanese culture would characterize the act as honorable, given the proper circumstances. So we find that human designation of morality is often contradictory, and thus incomplete. It is quite probable that were we to somehow comprehend the perfect goodness of God, it would appear as something dissimilar from our own views. One such possibility is that what God finds to be perfectly good is the increase and consumption of knowledge. Were this to be the case, it would make total sense that He does not make himself known to us, as His presence would change the possibilities for the outcomes of any particular human situation.
Omniscience is not knowing everything, but knowing everything that can be known. For example, it cannot be known that a Unicorn exists, because the idea of a Unicorn is a creation of the human imagination. Even if, at some point in the future, against all odds of possibility, a creature was found on another planet that possessed all of the qualities our lore attributes to Unicorns, the being would still not be a Unicorn. Something that exists in nature cannot be one and the same with something that was created by imagination. Similarly, omnipotence is the power to everything that is possible, not the power to do anything. In an effort to discredit the likelihood of the existence of omnipotence, many ask “can God create a rock that he cannot lift?” This is an illogical question: God would neither be limited in his ability to create rocks of increasing weights, nor in his power to lift anything he creates. His incapacity to create a rock he cannot lift is a mute point; his power could not be constrained by a logical fallacy. The distinctions made here are incredibly important in realizing the potential for a single organism to possess these qualities.
One such position against the existence of the 3 O’s God is presented in John Schellenberg’s Divine Hiddenness argument. He contends that if a perfectly loving God exists, he would make available himself to all creatures capable of having a relationship with him. A person could not want a relationship with God if he does not believe in God, and a perfectly loving God would give those individuals willing to believe enough evidence to believe, yet there still exists non-resistant non-belief. Therefore, he concludes, “it is not the case that God exists.” Though somewhat of a stretch when defining a “perfectly loving God,” since as humans we cannot know the actual nature of God, his argument is logically sound. If someone accepts his description of God’s loving attribute, this would make perfect sense. It could be the case, however, that this opens up a Pandora’s Box of other questions, both for and against God’s existence.
In quantum physics, the observer is no longer external and neutral, but through the act of measurement he becomes himself a part of observed reality. If in an exact science, such as physics, the outcome of an experiment depends on the view of the observer, then what does this imply for other fields of human knowledge? This prevalent issue finds its origins in Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle, which state that the more precisely the position of a particle is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa. Momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of a particle, each of which, along with its position in spacetime, are measurable qualities. By measuring any one of these properties, the observer naturally distorts the reality of the other two.
Another quality that is often ascribed to God is Omnipresence, or existence in all places at the same time. When arguing for or against the existence of god, his actual size, as understood in this way and in comparison to ourselves, is almost never taken into account. Instead of using philosophical debate to address the possibility of God, let us for a moment examine the physical probability, specifically considering our own size in relation to both the smallest and largest possible scientific measurement. In relation to quark particles, the smallest limit of our current scientific model, humans are approximately 1016 times larger-this means that a quark is 1/10,000,000,000,000,000 the size of a person. Conversely, at a distance of 1024 meters from any specific point on Earth, one would only be able to see hundreds of thousands of galaxies when looking in the direction of our planet.
Now, while attempting to mentally comprehend all of the above, imagine a being who somehow exists throughout, and possibly even beyond, our entire universe. If we consider how much larger than a quark a human being is, the size of God, relative to humans, would measure 109 times larger than humans are to quarks. This means that if a human was the size of a quark, God’s size would equal roughly two thirds that of the planet Jupiter. If God does in fact exist in this manner, his very presence in and around our universe would necessarily influence any and all of our actions. This could explain the need for divine hiddenness.
In the philosophical and religious world, there are always going to be intelligent, rational people who make strong, logical arguments both for and against the existence of a God. Furthermore, someone will always find fault in each of these positions, no matter how well written or logically deduced. Therefore, it makes no sense for any single person or group of people to say that they know, hands down, that there is or is not a God, not to mention what qualities he may or may not possess. Even with all of our abilities to measure, think about, and understand our reality, we must keep in mind the principle truth which Heisenberg realized, "What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."

No comments: