Sunday, January 20, 2008

Does God Really Care About Me?

This essay is a response to the faulty argument that the universe is so vast and the human being so small, his action so inconsequential, that God would not devote much attention to him.

Aristotle argued thus: We explain phenomena by referring to other phenomena. For example, we explain the rain by reference to clouds, the clouds by reference to temperature, temperature by reference to particle movement, and so on. If so, then the explanation has to end somewhere, because if not, either the series of explanations goes in a circle or goes on forever, in either which case we understand nothing. For Aristotle, this somewhere is God. But this God is very different from the God of the Theistic religions.

The word “God”– and it is only a word – has developed connotations consistent with its use. In a Western world with Christianity as the dominant world religion, people think of God (vis. God the Father) as an invisible tough-loving bearded man in the sky. The more philosophically minded tend to think of God as a more abstract kind of being, one unsusceptible to such simple, or perhaps any, description. This abstracting is a depersonalizing of God, and it places Him at a distance from human consciousness and concern. But the Theist, even the philosophical Theist, will insist that in some sense God cares about human beings, their welfare and their behavior.

The atmosphere in which modern science finds its roots, in 16th century Europe, was one deeply entrenched in religious thinking. For the masses, God was the invisible Superman; for the well educated, God was the abstract, incomprehensible super-unity of Maimonides and Aquinas. The Being of God was “known” from philosophy, His Nature “known” by revelation. When the first modern scientists began their work, the assumption was that God certainly exists, and that He is eminently rational. Therefore the universe, the physical world, is rationally constructed, and susceptible to understanding by way of rationality. Though we may never understand God, we might understand something of His “mind” by understanding his creation.

Without the conviction that there is a unitary basis for reality, the task of science would never have gotten started, because if we don't assume that the world is rational, then the quest for rational understanding of the world is a misbegotten one.

Scientists don't typically think they are seeking "God", because they are not seeking the invisible man in the sky. They do typically seek the God of Aristotle, though, even though they call Him by a different name: The “Grand Unified Theory” (GUT). Science, (and the quest for understanding generally) seeks that one principle that is not explained in terms of other principles, and which stands as the ground for all the rest. The reasoning process demands the assumption of a unity on the far end of it. In Big-Bang cosmology, we seek to apprehend to conditions of a world absolutely unified in a superdense chunk of matter, and to extrapolate from those conditions the unfolding of the world to the state we find it today, in all its variety.

But, consistent with the standard position of scientific inquiry today, scientists only consider the physical component of reality. They seek to explain the material conditions and physical
laws of today by understanding a unified material body and its unified physical law. All the physical matter, its configuration and behavior, all is included in the primordial and prime matter. But there is more to reality than materiality alone; at very least there is consciousness. The GUT, which proposes to explain everything, a law which is supposed to contain within it every other law, is not complete until it integrates into itself the ideas of psychology as well.

God is the physical law that contains within It every physical law, indeed, every physical event. But God is also the consciousness that contains within it every consciousness. One pithy way of putting it is, every thought in every mind is also a thought in God's mind

And one of the phenomena of consciousness that must be included in the principle that contains all consciousness is concern for the self. In my first consciousness, I am the most important thing in the world. My survival, my well being, my satisfaction in life, my conscience, these things are very important to me. These same thoughts and feelings - with their same intensity -
are also thought and felt by God.

If the argument stands, I am in God's auspices, the most important person in the world, and so are you and so is everyone else.

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