tsunamis and life building

In a reflection that is most certainly to be categorised firmly on the side of what is understandably seen as the impersonal, cold, logic-chopping philosophical problem of evil (rather than more humane existential or pastoral problem of evil), it occurs to me that the feeling of unjustness we almost universally feel when, say, a massive tsunami wipes out thousands of poor ‘innocent’ people ((though a thoroughgoing Christian anthropology knows no such thing, mind you – we’re a mixed bag – wretched and radiant – always both – never just one…)) is almost entirely an affair of emotion rather than reason.

Notice that I said it was the feeling of unjustness, rather than the sense that we ought to have compassion on the victims, which was driven chiefly by emotion rather than reason.  For what just alternative do we imagine?  That earth should be free of tectonic activity and water – both of which are fundamentally necessary for the existence and flourishing of all life?

The complaint seems to be that God is somehow unjust for making a world where tsunamis happen, or for not intervening each time they are in places that wipe out thousands of people… or hundreds of people… or dozens of people… or any single human life… or animal life… yes, God should stop those tsunamis too… matter of fact, God should stop sudden gusts of wind that cause people to lose their balance, fall and hurt themselves…  God should intervene to stop my paper cut…

From the perspective of a Martian, all of these human dramas played out on our ‘pale blue dot’ are not so different.  Certainly the point at which the ratio of deaths-saved to degree-of-divine-interference becomes an offense ((by whose standards though?)) seems utterly arbitrary.  What’s more, Nature certainly doesn’t care for either tsunami or paper-cut victims.  Nature is neither grieved at evil nor glad at good, for the ‘dumb witch‘, needs not either of those adjectives – or any qualitative value-judgments.

Experience teaches us that when we build our house on a beach, we risk possible devastation by wind and waves.  Handle papers quickly and carelessly, and expect paper-cuts.  The ‘natural evil’ is worsened by the human evils of things like impatience and inattention (behind the paper-cut) and things like the greedy, indifferent and dehumanising failure to share knowledge and technology that would see the poor, vulnerable coastal communities having stronger buildings and better and faster tsunami warning systems.

The God-who-is-Love is not there to remove all pain and suffering, but to be trusted in the midst of, and to Love us into, through and out the other side of all pain and suffering – great and small.

It’s not the reality of tsunamis that raise hairy theological questions, but rather when people claim that God sent it on the homosexuals or the lone survivor claims God singled them out for survival over the others. ((I’m opposed to those who would rob such a survivor of their gratitude to God for their survival – it’s just that I’m also highly doubtful that it is appropriate or sensible for this gratitude to be accompanied by a sense that God didn’t want the others to survive  – or want them to survive as much…))

I’m not fond of the habit of attaching direct, one-for-one, tit-for-tat theological purpose and meaning to every single phenomena (i.e. this mouse made it to the mouse trap before that other mouse because it had been very, very naughty in the eyes of the Lord…).  Though equally, I’m committed to seeing all phenomena as known by and sustained by God, so God has at least something to do with literally everything that happens.

It does seem that we tend to thank God for pleasing events, but not critique God for unpleasant ones.  So, the simplistic complaint, ‘all of the credit, but none of the blame’, is very intuitive, but only to a point.  Despite that many Christians actually do only thank God for nice events and are not sure what to say of un-nice ones, the Christian faith relates to pain and suffering in a unique way.  One (certainly not the only) way it does is by taking everything from tsunamis to paper-cuts as an opportunity to be reminded that one must not put their trust in anything other than God, the Rock of Salvation.

Calling a Spirit such as God a ‘rock’ is both a delicious juxtaposition and an utterly appropriate metaphor, especially if God actually is who Christians (and monotheists) believe God to be – the very source and sustainer of all (created) being or existence.  The single, sole ‘capital-T-Thing-transcending-all-lower-case-t-things’, who does not change in essence, character or nature.  The lone Locus of faith that cannot be shaken.

24 ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain fell, and the floods [even tsunamis!] came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’ – Matthew 7:24-27

100 thoughts on “tsunamis and life building”

  1. not getting on the merry-go-round of our heaven convo here :)

    But again, you collapse the condition of the creation onto the character of the Creator. Is it my fault if my son pees his pants? I and my wife are responsible (causally) for his existence, and if we are ‘responsible’ parents we can be expected to provide conditions best suited for him to grow up, which includes learning to control his bladder. You can fill out the analogy. But the point is that faulting the Creator for the faults of the creation shifts the blame/fault from the one (creation) who messed itself up and the One (Creator) who allowed it to mess itself up but will help clean it up.

  2. If by fill out you mean invalidate? Sure. If peeing your pants can at all be considered evil (or an analogy for evil) this means God too is evil, as you, DaleGod of SonHumanity… you no doubt peed your pants as a toddler..?

    We fault creators for faulty creations everyday (and rightly so). Product recalls on dangerous appliances, cosmetics, vehicles. The designers/creators of these are responsible.

  3. of course all analogies of the Creator-creation relationship have to borrow imagery or phenomena (i.e. pants-peeing, or bread-baking) from within the creation, so thus they are limited. But some work better than others. Yes, we do fault designers for poor designs, and examples abound. But we do NOT fault them if what they make is ab-used or mis-used. This claim, that the creation has made itself bad, is what you keep skipping over in your attempts to blame the Creator for the non-perfect state of creation. Use whatever metahor you like, but realise that they will all fall short.

  4. A perfect creator is by definition, incapable of creating something that can be abused or misused. Perfect creations cannot be imperfected. Alright creations can. And guess what kind of creators create alright creations? Alright ones.

    When you can grasp this – you’ll understand why whatever (if anything) is responsible for the existence of this universe is imperfect.

  5. I obviously disagree. A Creator who perfectly creates such to grant freedom, relationship and meaning ‘cannot’ (by his own self-determination to be such a Creator, not from any limitation outside himself) create a creation that has no freedom to do anything (including go bad). But conversely, the same kind of perfectly relational and perfectly redemptive Creator can create a creation that is radically other than himself (including being unlike him in terms of perfection) and work within it to bring it toward perfection.

  6. “A Creator who perfectly creates such to grant freedom, relationship and meaning ‘cannot’ (by his own self-determination to be such a Creator, not from any limitation outside himself) create a creation that has no freedom to do anything (including go bad).”

    If he ‘cannot’ – then not omnipotent
    If he ‘will not’ – then not omnibenevolent.

    “the same kind of perfectly relational and perfectly redemptive Creator can create a creation that is radically other than himself (including being unlike him in terms of perfection) and work within it to bring it toward perfection.”

    Perfectly relational is an oxymoron. If we’re speaking of perfection – no want for relationship exists. Perfectly redemptive is an oxymoron. If we’re speaking of perfection – nothing needs redeeming.

    Work within it to bring it toward perfection? Please describe to me this ‘perfection’..

  7. re tri-omni potent/benevolent… you’re skipping over / forgetting over our discussions of both. see thread above (and/or other threads)

    On ‘perfectly relational’:
    You like collapsing things that should be distinct, don’t you? Big difference between ‘needing’ relationship and ‘wanting’ it. Indeed an ultimate being wouldn’t ‘need’ anything, but an ultimate being is also not hindered/enslaved by any human prescriptions of what it is allowed to ‘want’.

    On ‘perfectly redemptive’:
    You again confuse the non-perfection of the non-perfectly-redeemed creation with the perfection of the perfectly-redemptive Creator. Of course the creation isn’t perfect! But (again… and again…) the state of the creation and the character of the Creator are not the same. The Creator-creation relationship knows of no perfect analogy within creation.

  8. Oh don’t you worry. I remember the discussions. You’re just skipping over/forgetting that I think your convoluted worldview/theology is but a wonderful set of thought gymnastics.

    “Big difference between ‘needing’ relationship and ‘wanting’ it.”

    Annndd… this is why I said “If we’re speaking of perfection – no want for relationship exists.” Think about it for a second. If you want something, you lack or are short of something. Ultimate – Perfect – Supreme, etc… these words cannot describe an entity that is lacking.

    “You again confuse the non-perfection of the non-perfectly-redeemed creation with the perfection of the perfectly-redemptive Creator.”

    I’m not confusing them. I’m saying that a perfect creator wouldn’t create anything that needs redeeming (anything imperfect). This is logical. If there’s no perfect analogy to describe your god concept – why are you into it so much? You a sucker for mystery?? Enigma junkie or something??

  9. Again, you think about it too. Whilst perfect/complete being would not need anything to complete/perfect itself, it is free from your specific conviction that it cannot want something (relationship in particular). The reason is that it is perfect in itself, while still free to desire to relate to an ‘other’ that is (it feels redundant to even point this out) other than itself. IF I was claiming that an ultimate being needed relationship to be complete in itself, that would indeed be inappropriate/false to call that being ultimate. God can perfectly want what God wants to want.

  10. Yeah, it is. Already shown you.

    “If you want something, you lack or are short of something. Ultimate – Perfect – Supreme, etc… these words cannot describe an entity that is lacking.”

    By definition. If you think otherwise, you’re gonna have to reference the Dalepedia.

  11. Wow. OK. So maybe this will help.
    What’s infinity minus 7? Infinity. What’s infinity plus 7? Infinity. (and that’s even if the plus-or-minus 7 is of the same nature as the Infinity – which would not be the case with an infinite Creator creating something other than itself – namely creation.)
    An infinite/ultimate/limitless/not-lacking-anything kind of being doesn’t lack anything. Ever. Creating a temporal/non-ultimate/etc. creation with space/time/etc. dimensions doesn’t lessen his being/perfection because the creation is (again) other than himself.

  12. It doesn’t help.

    “An infinite/ultimate/limitless/not-lacking-anything kind of being doesn’t…”

    …create anything. Why?

    Reasons for creating are as follows:

    1) Need – impossible, it lacks nothing, needs nothing else.
    2) Want – impossible, it lacks nothing, wants nothing else.
    3) Accident maybe? – impossible, perfect entities don’t have accidents.

  13. …and whilst the wording of 1) is correct as I’ve maintained all along, 2) is off coz I’ve just shown again that wanting and creating something else, does not change God’s perfect, lacking-nothing (infinitely whole) nature, coz that which is wanted and created is other than God.

  14. The Nature Of God:

    1) Perfect
    2) Creative… waiit… yeah true.. he wouldn’t have, need or want to create anything else if 1) Perfect, scratch this..
    3) Relational… waiitt.. yeah true… he wouldn’t have, need or want anything else to relate to if 1) Perfect, scratch this also..

  15. I’m still trying to discern just how you can be so certain of what a Transcendent mind would not want. I’m with you as far as ‘need’ goes, coz ‘needing’ anything would make a necessary being contingent on the thing it needed, which is flatly contradictory. But as for wanting, I just don’t see the contradiction.

  16. Because for a entity to ‘want’ something, this means it lacks something. And perfect beings don’t want as they don’t lack a thing.

    perfect – having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be

    want – chiefly lack or be short of something desirable or essential

    These are dictionary definitions. Find other words to describe your god concept that are compatible and non-contradictory.

  17. Ok, so it’s ‘want’ we are quibbling over…

    Picking up on the ‘or’ in the definition you found, clearly there is a kind of ‘wanting/desiring’ that is proper to an Ultimate being (i.e. God has chosen not to forcefully take, and thus is ‘lacking in or short of’ something ‘desirable’ to Him, whilst still not ‘needing’ it to be complete/perfect.). Whereas to say that God is “lacking or short of” something ‘essential’ to his very being would be indeed most illogical for a perfect/complete Being.

  18. “God has chosen not to forcefully take, and thus is ‘lacking in or short of’ something ‘desirable’ to Him”

    Can’t be perfect then.

  19. “clearly there is a kind of ‘wanting/desiring’ that is proper to an Ultimate being” is an incoherent sentence.

  20. I disagree. As long as God remains perfect and complete and not-lacking anything in himself, then he is free to desire, indeed ‘be in lack of’ things other than himself, precisely because lack of things-other-than-God’s-ultimate-self are not a lack of part-of-God’s-ultimate-self.

  21. Doesn’t matter if you disagree lol.

    If a being wants anything this means it lacks something. Ultimate beings do not lack anything. ‘other than themselves’ things do not exist. Why? Cos the perfect entity hasn’t created anything else. Why? Because he’s effing perfect therefore having no needs, no wants, no lack.

    Perfect entities don’t create. Thus it’s crossed off the list (above).

    This is really simple definitional logic, dude.

    Like I said, find some different words to describe your god.

  22. Do you not see how the ‘perfect’ entity you are describing is enslaved to your ‘logic’ that it doesn’t (indeed cannot!) want to create or relate to anything other than itself? That’s no longer an Ultimate being if it’s so enslaved. I think Lewis said it along the following lines: God is so [perfectly] brim full of existence that He can give it away to his creatures. This is perfectly compatible. Infinity minus three is still infinity. (and again, that’s staying on the same level – an infinite number minus a finite number) There. Is. No. Logical. Quandry. Here.

  23. The only thing the perfect entity is enslaved to is it’s perfection. It doesn’t (indeed cannot!) do a lot of things. Namely, creation, relation, evil, etc. I’m sure the list could be expanded. It’s the very definition of an ultimate (the best achievable or imaginable of its kind) perfect (having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be:) being to be enslaved to such perfection.

    Your ‘infinity’ analogy isn’t helping your cause. I’m telling you, like I always do, whenever you start throwing around ultimate/omni/infinity concepts – logic takes a huge hit.

  24. fwiw, even the most basic definitions of God describe a “creator and ruler of the universe” and frequently call it ‘perfect’, so our dictionaries are contradictory according to you. But God is not defined by me, you, logic or Webster, but by God-self.

    You say a perfect God could not lack a creation and thus could not want to create.
    I say a perfect God did not have to want to create, but nonetheless chose to (or ‘wanted to want to’ – see the infinite regress here?) because of God’s self-defining creative/relational nature.

    It is a very real possibility for God to have never created. He did not need to. But his nature and actions are one. And all I’m saying is that God’s perfection in Godself is not decreased or broken simply due to creating an other that does not automatically relate to Him.

  25. “fwiw, even the most basic definitions of God describe a “creator and ruler of the universe” and frequently call it ‘perfect’, so our dictionaries are contradictory according to you.”

    No, it is many god concepts that are contradictory according to… um gee, the whole history of the debate surrounding the existence of god/s??

    “You say a perfect God could not lack a creation and thus could not want to create.
    I say a perfect God did not have to want to create, but nonetheless chose to (or ‘wanted to want to’ – see the infinite regress here?) because of God’s self-defining creative/relational nature.”

    What I say is that a perfect ‘entity’ (not ‘god’, if there exists a ‘god’, there needs to exist something that it is the ‘god’ of, e.g. before ‘Creation’, whatever existed was not ‘a god’ just an entity) could not have a creative/relational nature – see my comment with the strikethroughs.

    “It is a very real possibility for God to have never created.”

    No it’s not, see above.

    “He did not need to.”

    Haven’t been saying this. Whole time we’ve been talking about ‘want’, ‘desire’, etc. not ‘need’.

    “But his nature and actions are one.”

    Exactly, and if its nature is first and foremost ‘perfect’ then ‘creative’ and ‘relational’ and ‘evil’, etc. etc. etc. cannot and do not follow as further characteristics of its nature.

    “And all I’m saying is that God’s perfection in Godself is not decreased or broken simply due to creating an other that does not automatically relate to Him.”

    Your ‘saying’ is incoherent. Because if a pre-existing entity created something else (creation) thus becoming the god of something, the creator of this new creation – it would have had a reason to do so.

    Reasons for creating are as follows:

    1) Needed it – yup but this would render it imperfect, as it lacked something
    2) Wanted it – yup but this would render it imperfect, as it lacked something.
    3) Accident maybe? – yup but this would render it imperfect, as perfect entities don’t have accidents.

  26. 1) and 3) all make the Creator enslaved to conditions outside Godself. I have yet to see how 2) necessarily does (unless ‘want’ is defined in a hard-necessity kind of way such that it is more accurately called a ‘need’)

    Also, I’d add a 4) and say Creative Nature.

  27. “1) and 3) all make the Creator enslaved to conditions outside Godself. ”

    ?

    It’s only enslaved to the condition inside Godself. The condition of being ultimately perfect in every way.

    “I have yet to see how 2) necessarily does (unless ‘want’ is defined in a hard-necessity kind of way such that it is more accurately called a ‘need’)”

    Nope, ‘want’ is defined the way I’ve always been defining it.. ‘chiefly lack or be short of something desirable or essential’.

    Put it this way. Perfection is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

    Required elements? These are the needs.
    Desirable elements? These are the wants.

    An ultimately perfect entity therefore has no needs, no wants.

    “Also, I’d add a 4) and say Creative Nature.”

    Remember how that doesn’t work?

    The Nature Of God:

    1) Perfect
    2) Creative… waiit… yeah true.. he wouldn’t have, need or want to create anything else if 1) Perfect, scratch this..
    3) Relational… waiitt.. yeah true… he wouldn’t have, need or want anything else to relate to if 1) Perfect, scratch this also..

  28. Required elements (for being perfect in Godself) These are the needs
    —–> I agree God cannot ‘need’ anything in this sense

    Desired elements (for being perfect in Godself) These are ‘wants’ needs again (if they are necessary to make God complete)
    ——> I thus also agree God cannot ‘want’/’need’ anything in this sense

    Desired ‘elements’ (for acting according to God’s nature and making/relating to an ‘other’) These are wants/desires
    ——> I cannot see any logical problem here. If God wants to want to want things other than Himself, who are you/I to say I cannot or would not?

  29. “Desired elements (for being perfect in Godself) These are ‘wants’ needs again”.

    Nope, they’re wants as:

    want = a desire to possess or do (something that’s lacking or not yet done)
    need = a thing that is required because it is essential or very important.

    “If God wants to want to want things other than Himself, who are you/I to say I cannot or would not?”

    Sure he can – he just definitionally therefore can’t be ultimately perfect. Why? Because he’s lacking and ultimate perfection cannot lack. What’s he lacking? He’s lacking ‘the other’ he desires to create.

    Out of lack stems desire.
    Out of lack stems desire.
    Out of lack stems desire.
    Write that out 100x lol.

  30. I think the tricky issue of time needs to be brought to bear on this topic. God, as an ultimate being and the creator (bracket your ‘he wouldn’t create’ mantra for a sec) of all space, time, matter and meaning, etc. transcends time. By creating time, God is also allowing there to be process, freedom and what we call ‘chance’. So from within time, God’s not ‘yet’ got what he wants, and has not ‘yet’ completed the task of redemption, etc. But from ‘outside’ time (a perspective necessarily unable for us to gain or even imagine), these accusations that God ‘lacks’ this or that ring utterly hollow, for he is the Eternal maker & redeemer for everything ‘before’ creation, ‘during’ it and ‘after’ it are in God’s eternal ‘now’.

    This whole accusation that God is (at ‘this’ point in time) ‘lacking’ something and then (at a later/subsequent point in time) acts to ‘get it’ (or not!), appears to treat God as if God were merely another object trapped within created space and time.

    One more thing. I do think that Christian theology, whilst not leaving an omni-ish view of God behind, presents a vision of God that is ‘kenotic’, as God exercises self-restraint through gentleness, patience and dying on a Cross, etc. So yet again, the accusation that God is inferior because he ‘wants’ seems to not take into the Christian vision of God as the one who ‘stoops’ and ’empties’ himself to meet us. The thing about gentleness and stooping is that only strong people can be gentle, (gentleness means nothing apart from strength) and only high people can ‘stoop’ (descending means nothing apart from being high and exalted). So yes, Christian theology is working from the revelation of God in Christ in the NT, and not from abstract philosophical categories. Again, it’s not that all philosophical categories or logic are left behind. I maintain there is nothing ‘illogical’ about an ultimate/perfect being who chooses (eternally) to (from our time-bound perspective) ‘want’ relationship etc. No logical contradictions there. But it’s just that the Christian vision of God goes beyond those categories. We don’t figure God out with reason/logic alone. Rather, God reveals himself as a Lover, Creator, Redeemer, Judge, Friend, etc. taking our categories and turning them inside/out and upside/down a bit :) Reality is always more interesting than we usually expect it to be.

  31. Cool story bro. Reads as utterly incoherent, convoluted, wishful thinking to me. Sorry about it. But I’m sure you can cope with that ;)

    Disregarding all the chaff in that comment that requires numerous prerequisite beliefs, I’ll say something on this whole foundational belief about infinite entities and there nature/capabilities. You said:

    “This whole accusation that God is (at ‘this’ point in time) ‘lacking’ something and then (at a later/subsequent point in time) acts to ‘get it’ (or not!), appears to treat God as if God were merely another object trapped within created space and time.”

    Besides the wanting/perfect convo it’s even the very notion of an infinite personal entity ‘creating’ a separate finite entity that is ridiculous to my ears. An infinite entity can’t make something other than itself – it’s infinite. It stretches out over and through everything, there is no room for anything else.

    Now in saying this, it makes much more sense to me (though as you know I remain agnostic towards the unknown) that there may exist substructures (of substructures of substructures.. who knows, it seems every few decades scientists discover something deeper/smaller) of elementary particles that simply ‘just exist’, and always have, infinitely. These are what stretch out over and through everything. And in the ‘chaotic order’ you might call it of whatever it is they do (disappear, reappear somewhere else, combine, wriggle, twang) they occasionally group together to ‘create’ ‘finite forms’ or combinations of themselves that (in the eternal scheme of things) dissolve as quickly as they’re formed. Examples would be hydrogen, carbon-based life, stars, planets, galaxies, etc.

    This reality, I think, though for some a sobering thought, is a very interesting and much more likely one than the notion of what is essentially a big loving friend who will cuddle us forever, which, as I said at the top, sounds like wishful thinking to me.

  32. Again, just as only the strong can be gentle (etc.), only the infinite and all-encompassing Creator can make space ‘within’ himself for creation. Paul quoted the pagan poets at Athens who said of their ‘unknown god’ that “in Him we live and move and have our being…” And perhaps the notion that the uni[multi]verse exists ‘within’ God is most helpful. Christian theology is distinct from out-and-out pantheism (everything IS god), but despite this being controversial to some, ‘pan-en-theism’ (everything IN God) seems to be OK provided the Creator-creation distinction is clear and not collapsed. I’m not sure I understand those theologians who say pan-en-theism is not Christian. Must look into that.

  33. “And perhaps the notion that the uni[multi]verse exists ‘within’ God is most helpful.”

    Yeah but again, cuddly, wishful thinking, connotations.

    I personally think it’s important to avoid projecting what you might want to be the case or what would be ‘nice’ when pondering the big questions like these.

  34. Indeed. But there seems to be a to-and-fro at play. Projections are shaped by expectations, which are not only shaped by emotional desire for a cuddly God, but also by reason. You have a logical (to you), intuitive picture of a perfect, un-wanting being which you can project as well. Other people have imagined God in many other logical (to them) ways. The idea in the Xian doctrine of revelation is that God cuts through our projections and reveals himself in a most un-expected way. But here, let’s just stick to the question of whether or not a logical contradiction occurs? The kenotic and pan-en-theistic Xian vision of God making-room-within-Godself-for-creation may be a helpful way of showing that no logical errors at play.

  35. Oh ok. Well there’s a big time logical contradiction occurs if you claim your god is both ultimately perfect/eternal/infinite etc. and that it wants to create other finite entities and relate to them.

  36. If the finite forms are merely combinations/amalgamations of an underlying infinite substructure, then I can easily comprehend it. But I’m almost certain that’s not what you claim and definitely not what you believe..

  37. I think I’ve laid out clearly enough above that the creation can’t have the same nature as the Creator, so yes, that would be a ‘no-that’s-pantheism-and-not-the-God-I’m-describing’ to the notion of a creation that was merely an altered form of the Creator. Rather the God of Christian scripture is that ‘in’ (and for and to) whom all things exist. A God who eternally wanted-to-want-to ‘make space’ within Godself for an ‘other-than-God’ dimension – even though already complete as a personal being.

  38. Cool. Now maybe we can talk about that other thing. When you said:

    “You have a logical (to you), intuitive picture of a perfect, un-wanting being which you can project as well.”

    You must remember that is precisely what makes no sense to me. I cannot imagine how a supremely ultimate perfect being can exist given the fact that you and I and the universe exists. Reasons riddled through out post.

    Let me summarize.

    The most honest, reasonable, logical response to the questions:

    1 – “a)Does there exist an infinite entity and b)what is it like?” is

    1a,b) We don’t know yet and may never know and also may never be capable of knowing, so don’t lose sleep.

    2a) If you not gonna let me say 1) then I would say it makes sense to me that an infinite entity exists simply due to the probing question “how did the first entity start?” Proposing the infinite removes notions of ‘start’ from any question so all you’re left with is the question of ‘why’. Why does the infinite entity exist? Which is both unanswerable and incoherent e.g. “Why does infinite entity A394 exist?” “Why does Yahweh exist?” “Why does Allah exist?” etc.

    2b) What would this infinite entity be like? Well it needs to be infinite, that much is obvious. Check.

    What other characteristics might it have? Well let’s start from our lives, our point of view, and work our way back. We live 80 odd years. Hmmm… so it would make no sense to deduce the characteristics of an infinite entity based on characteristics exhibited by such a speck on the finite scale of the universe or vice versa. What has been around longer than us? Let’s say the building blocks of life… no.. wait… in the larger perspective that doesn’t go back much further than humans, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Until we get to the smallest known elementary particles and other strange and still relatively misunderstood (see answer 1a,b) things like dark energy and dark matter. This is as far as we can see back currently. Leptons, quarks, bosons, higgs field, etc. existed back then and still exist now. They are the biggest contender we currently have for potentially having been around forever. And if not them – if there indeed was a time when not a single elementary particle existed – we can reasonably deduce from a lengthy history of discovering smaller and smaller building blocks that the substructures of these elementary particles must have existed and must have not yet formed elementary particles (just like elementary particles existed and had not yet formed protons which had not yet formed nuclei which had not yet formed atoms…. blablabla…. formed us, humans).

    So with this in mind – characteristics? Let’s have a look at some you proposed:

    “Lover, Creator, Redeemer, Judge, Friend”

    Loving? Hmmm… well love is an emotion that starts and ends with humans and at a stretch, some animals exhibit love. So no.

    Lover, Creator, Redeemer, Judge, Friend

    Creative? Well, if you consider recombining and replicating to be creation, sure.

    Redeeming, Judgemental? These things imply evil and therefore morality which starts and ends with humans and at a stretch, some animals (these are accurate conclusions based on evidence btw but you know that) So no.

    Lover, Creator, Redeemer, Judge, Friend.

    Friendly? Again, kindness and pleasantness are emotions that start and end with humans, and at a stretch, some animals exhibit friendliness. So no.

    Maybe you can suggest some other characteristics, but so far, the characteristics that can reasonably be deduced without invoking wishful thinking or misled anthropocentrism is:

    Characteristics Of An Infinite Entity:

    1) Infinite
    2) Creative – at least, the ability to recombine and replicate to bring about ‘forms’ that come in and out of existence (in half a blink of an eye, essentially)
    3)…..???

  39. Friend, we’re nearing 100 comments, and I need to let this one drop. Suffice to say the whole point of the revelation/reason distinction is that the Friend/Lover/Judge qualities are not derived through such methodology as comparing what we can imagine an ultimate being to be like with human or animal behaviour. Or looking at a tree. The best reason has to offer is telling you what God is not like – the via negativa: god is not finite (infinite), not contingent (necessary), not in one place (omnipresent), not visible, not mortal, etc. A Christian theology of revelation holds that God goes beyond reason in revealing himself in/through the biblical story which climaxes in Jesus. But yeah, I need to let this post drop (and additionally I’ve allowed it to ramble off-topic which is pretty amazing for a topic-nazi like me). Final comment is yours if you want it.

  40. But maybe some time you could show me when and why you hop off the reason boat…

    “The best reason has to offer is telling you what God is not like – the via negativa: god is not finite (infinite), not contingent (necessary), not in one place (omnipresent), not visible, not mortal, etc….HERE…. A Christian theology of revelation holds that God goes beyond reason in revealing himself in/through the biblical story which climaxes in Jesus.”

    ….and on to the specific faith boat of ‘Christian theology’.

    I see the reason/logic behind characteristics such as omnipresence (e.g. the higgs field or dark energy, etc) and not being visible (to the human eye at least) and not mortal goes without saying. But then in the next sentence you mention ‘beyond reason’ in the man Jesus who is visible, mortal, moral, not omni-present (for 33 years at least you would agree?).

    Yeah… I’d be interested to hear you fill in the gaps/show me your stepping stones if you will sometime. Doesn’t have to be here if you’d rather not.

  41. Short answer would be that I believe what the NT says about Jesus :) But yeah, not keen to have it on this thread. If you can be bothered, there are other posts (relatively easily found via search?) that it would be more relevant for.

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