Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pandeism and the Knowledge of Good and Evil

I have in the past addressed the question of Pandeism and the problem of good and evil. Here, I extend that analysis to the question of human knowledge of good and evil. How, especially, can we know what is good or evil if we discern a theological model which supposes our Creator to have entered into the Creation without knowing what is good or evil. Indeed, while curing such a lack of knowledge handily answers both the question of why our Creator created at all, and why evil is able to exist in a created Universe, some find that the absence of rules set down from above leaves disconcertingly open the question of what is or is not morally wrong. And yet, whether we are able to attribute such knowledge to an original metaphysical directive or no, it seems absurd to suggest that we do not in fact know what is good and what is evil, and especially to suggest that absent directions from a higher power, we would be unable to distinguish the most beauteous good actions from the most grotesquely evil actions.

Evil deeds may seem to have no good end, but to a Creator wishing to experience existence in the form of a Universe filled with beings experiencing many different things, evil deeds -- and responses to them -- may be very instructive indeed!! If our Creator initially exists alone, and has no experience of fear or suffering, or relations with other entities at all to inform it of what these are like, it is logical to suppose that it becomes the Creation with no initial sense of what interactions ought to be deemed discreditable. We must realize, naturally, that virtually any sensible understanding of evil requires at least one sentient being and at least one other being, for a man who is alone in existence except for a pebble can not particularly do 'evil' to that unfeeling pebble. And perhaps it is we who, by rejecting our own inherent divinity and (often more importantly) the divinity of all around us, bring upon ourselves the consequences of evil -- suffering, and the fear or anger or sadness caused by suffering.

We must first distinguish here is rejection of an innate characteristic itself from rejection of knowledge of such an innate characteristic. Consider gravity. A knowledgeable person accepts that gravity exists and holds us to the surface of our planet, and exists as a central force such that those who stand on the opposite side of the planet are not hanging upside-down there, but simply standing just as we are. But suppose an opposer, an 'antigravitationist' were to come along and reject gravity, to deny that it exists, to deny that it is inherent to his own existence as a being having mass, and to deny even that he will fall and will ultimately suffer and cause suffering were he to walk off a high ledge over a dense crowd. Rejecting gravity does not change the behaviour of gravity, it simply changes the behaviour of its denier, making it more likely that he make ignorant decisions leading to bad ends.

And what of the validity of our perspectives? If we are each of us but a fragment of our Creator, why are not all perspectives equally valid, why do we not devolve into moral relativism? The answer is that being fragments of our Creator is not by itself enough to prevent our being ignorant fragments. Consider the conviction shared by the vast majority of humans that it is morally reprehensible to sadistically torture a newborn baby. There may be some few sick minds which are attracted, rather than repulsed, by such a notion. But that attraction necessarily proceeds from some level of ignorance of the suffering which they would inflict, or an inability to appreciate it. Or, going back to gravity, the antigravitationist who jumps from the ledge out of lack of belief may simply be acting out of ignorance of the certitude of gravity. And yet, it would be wrong on that basis to claim that such fractional views mean 'humanity' does not know about gravity. This would be little different from accrediting to a random teaspoon of you brain cells the quality of being 'you' and holding your knowledge and your views. And so, simply being fragments of our Creator does not give us the perspective of our Creator, for the true perspective of our Creator would be one which incorporates all knowledge generated to that point, and would be ignorant of no fact (even as we as fragments are inherently ignorant of many).

But a solution lies in the law of averages, and in the continuous advancement of knowledge. Firstly I will reiterate the reason our Creator may be supposed to not inherently know 'right' from 'wrong' or 'good' from 'evil' so far as those term applies to interactions between limited beings, for before the existence of ourselves and reflective beings like us, our Creator can know only its own existence as a being without such limitations. But it would necessarily be existing alone as well; and so it logically follows that the most efficient means by which such an entity may come to know what it is to exist as a limited being amongst limited beings is to experience existence in a Universe designed to bring about such beings. And that proposition is sufficient to parsimoniously account for the very existence of our Universe and everything in it.

Okay, but still, where does that leave us with right and wrong, good and evil? If our Creator is as ignorant as we are, does that remove our responsibilities to seek a moral compass and live by it? Well I contend not, and here is why: We find in our existence circumstances which we as individuals understand to be wrong, to be evil, and we find others who agree with us as to these matters. These understandings derive from human experience, ultimately I would suggest from the experience of suffering and beliefs as to its causes. A child learns early that touching the fire causes suffering. It is 'wrong' for him to touch the fire (and he may even believe the fire itself to be 'evil' at this point). The child would learn this if brought up amongst people of the most remote tribe, who had never heard of any deity. And at some point he is given to learn that others will experience the same suffering from the same cause, and if he possesses empathy (which is simply a form of knowledge), he will feel it is wrong to force others to touch the fire.

And as these sorts of understandings are built upon by more and more people, they become codified. Their origins lost in history, they are themselves accredited to the direct intervention of our Creator (or to comparable beings). Naturally, some of these beliefs arise by happenstance or coincidence, out of the same ignorance that once led men to believe the world to be flat. A person who sees a black cat and shortly thereafter becomes ill may draw a false correlation between the events, and if the idea is spread into the culture, others who become ill will suddenly take notice of black cats which happen to exist in their environment, and the mistaken correlation -- the proposition that black cats are 'evil' -- will becomes codified.

But just as belief in a flat Earth gave way to knowledge first of its roundness, then of its subtle oblateness, scientific inquiry and logical examination ought to eventually dispel those elements steeped in ignorance, leaving behind a progressively more accurate picture of what it is which we do which tends to cause suffering, and to alleviate it. And so it seems that knowledge of good and evil, derived from experience of suffering and codified by breadth of acceptance amongst men, will be winnowed by the advance of knowledge toward condemnation of the true causes of suffering. Simply put, we continue to learn that what is good is what objectively minimizes suffering and brings happiness, and that what is evil is what objectively increases suffering and reduces happiness. The ability for knowledge to be shared amongst members of our species means that we will, on average, holistically tend towards a greater understanding and appreciation of these elements, and to act accordingly. And our Creator -- being inherent within us -- will learn as we learn, will indeed have already learned as we have learned, adding every bit of human knowledge to its complete compilation of the knowledge of a Universe which is of it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pandeism fully accounts

What is it that we, as pandeists, mean exactly when we claim that 'Pandeism fully accounts'?

That Pandeism is meticulous as to the miraculous and provides profundity as to prophecy; that it is a revolution in revelation; and a vision as to oracles. To give the quick summation, the theological model of Pandeism combines the coherently reconcilable elements of Pantheism with Deism, attempting to answer open questions left by each with aspects of the other -- concluding that experience demonstrates elements of both are likely correct, that our Creator did set forth our Universe, but that it did not "leave it" but instead completely became the energy of which all things are made and the unconscious governing dynamics by which all things are able to operate.

This pandeistic model accounts for the state of our Universe with the fewest assumptions required of any theological model. Derivable from First Principles, the whole of the set of assumptions necessary for Pandeism are:

  • that ours may be a Created Universe, and if this is so, then our Creator necessarily possesses these characteristics:

  • sufficient power to set forth the forces of which our Universe is

  • sufficent intelligence to set forth the governing dynamics guiding those
    forces into the states which we observe

  • rationality, for ours is a rational Universe, consistent in the application
    of those governing dynamics

  • a rational motivation to create such a Universe as ours.

Pandeism fully accounts for every claimed miracle, revelation, scripture, prophecy, vision, dream, oracle, sign, egrigor, spiritual activity, spiritual emotion, etc, and it does so for all faiths. For if any of these occur at all, then they are simply explicable as manifestations of the power of our Creator unconsciously underlying our Universe, as unwittingly misread through the biased minds of human observers.

Imagine for a moment, if you were able to travel back in time to a much earlier point in human history, and were there able to show a select handful of pre-civilisation homosapiens perhaps a ten-minute vid of vital images which accurately laid out the history of our Universe and our planet only to that point. Understanding that you would not be able to communicate anything with them verbally for lack of a common language, how do you imagine they would interpret what they saw? The Big Bang, the massive cycles of starbirth and stardeath necessary to generate heavy elements which permit the existence of our world at all. The violent geological activities, periods of evolution, the strange eras of prehistoric beasts which necessarily preceded human existence, even the seemingly sudden leaps in human technology (from nothing to the lever, wheel, inclined plane, fire, axes, and such) -- if the primitives with whom you shared these images then felt the need to relay that vision to others, using what limited language and symbology as was then available to them, would they not couch it as a series of miracles, creditable to the intervention of inscrutable metaphysical forces such as a deity?

And yet, if our Creator because our Universe, if we are of our Creator in this fragmentary sense, wafting on the winds of its unconscious sustainment despite our illusion of concreteness, then all of our religious visions represent such manifestations, glimpses of the commonalities well known within the unconscious mind of the metaphysical progenitor of which we are so stunningly a part. Our world glitters about us with the promise of a similar oneness of being, a potential to be whatever world we wish it to be -- if we wish it.

Under the pandeistic model it need not be assumed that our Creator is a conscious and active deity who chooses to act or not act, and is opposed by some evil entity -- presumed to have been created by it as well, either errantly or as part of some complicated scheme for which additional levels of excuses and assumptions must be made. For our Creator need not continue to interfere in our Universe, judge or condemn, send seeming conflicting messages to prophets of various faiths, nor need it to create or permit any other spiritual forces to contend with man. Pandeism avoids the traditional response to the multiplicity of claimed miracles, revelations, prophecies, and so forth supporting irreconcilable differences of faith, which has been the invocation of the agency of evil spirits. Such assumption is itself deeply irrational, for it is simply impossible for there to be an evil spirit from whom 'miraculous' results emanate for the affirmance of other faiths. All laws of nature, and the laws of physics among them, these are necessarily the laws of our Creator, and all things are bound by them except (and only except) as allowed by the power of our Creator; put otherwise, even were we to impose upon our Creator the additionally assumed characteristics of consciousness and a need to intervene, our Creator would nonetheless be the force sustaining our Universe. It would be impossible for anybody, any entity, to violate the laws of physics except by using such Creator's own power to do so. And if there is proposed to be a conscious Creator, this simply means that nothing miraculous may occur except as done by that Creator.

In the pandeistic model, our Creator unconsciously underlies existence, and so what miracles occur (if anything is not susceptible to naturalistic explanation) do so because that power is manifested by the fragments of our Creator which constitute all of existence. And, as importantly, no good and wise Creator would grant free reign to an entity sufficiently powerful as to undermine the ability of other entities to make informed decisions, if reward or punishment hinged upon such decisions. If so powerful an entity were deemed to exist, it would immediately render fatally suspect any widely held belief, as any one of us could have lived our entire existence in an illusion generated by it to secure our falsity of beliefs. If an 'evil spirit' exists at all, and is so successful as to be responsible for all the religions with which one disagree (though others adhere tightly to them) then it is overwhelmingly likely it is equally responsible for that last faith with which one does agree. And, in fact, whatever the 'truth' is, would then most likely reside only in a minor and obscure and generally ignored or even reviled group, whose few members display impeccable morality.

Another benefit of the pandeistic model is that it equally accounts for all scientific discovery -- all that is discovered by science as to how our Universe operates simply is an uncovering of the governing dynamics set in motion by the Creator in the moment of creating/becoming of our Universe. If science reveals our Universe to be billions of years old, it is so, and is because the rational goal sought by our Creator was one which required our Universe gestating through billions of years of natural development to give birth to its desired set of information. If science reveals our descent from a Universal Common Ancestor, it is so, and is because our Creator set forth a Universe capable of giving rise to sufficiently complex life through a simple process of evolution by natural selection.

And, lastly, this model contains a remarkable powerful basis for morality, as it proposes that all things are part of our Creator, and that our Creator experiences through us the consequences of our actions. We ought therefore to be motivated to act in ways which avoid causing suffering and harm, because in so doing we would simply be inflicting these things on our own Creator -- and, in a way, upon ourselves. And indeed, such raises the Golden Rule from good advice to universal law, for that which we do unto others, we may thusly veritably do unto ourselves!!

And so, because the pandeistic model fully accounts for all of the proof generally presented in support of both faith and science, it is presumably true against any theological system which requires additional assumptions to account for the same proof -- and especially against any system which fails to fully account for contradictory beliefs and the manifestations of the miraculous claimed to support those beliefs, and for contradictory scientific discoveries.