Wednesday, December 04, 2013

A Pandeist responds to "Sainttalk" on Pandeism

Oh dear. An anonymous web-denizen styling himself as "Sainttalk" is quite confident that he's done Pandeism in here (HERE) and so reason itself deems it necessary to untangle the errors of fact and logic which propel his lengthy missive, and which lead him so far astray.

On a definitional preliminary note, Sainttalk quotes Wikipedia on Pandeism, stating simply that "it holds that the creator of the universe actually became the universe, and so ceased to exist as a separate and conscious entity...." Fair enough -- though the strictures of Wikipedia seem to limit discussion of Pandeism to what a handful of sufficiently 'notable' people have claimed about it (mostly evaluations of which other 'notable' people were or were not pandeistic in their thinking). But Wikipedia's failure to provide any insight into the logic underscoring Pandeism does not directly address the quality of Sainttalk's analysis, only the quality of the sources which inform it. And so, we launch straight into that analysis.

On Pandeism Fully Accounting:

To begin with, Sainttalk writes that "Pandeism purports to account for all supernatural events in our world." And yes, this is correct, it surely does so purport. But Sainttalk does not counter (or address at all) the logic by which Pandeism fully accounts. Perhaps this is due to the paucity of sources to which he has turned for enlightenment on the matter. Simply put, Pandeism proposes that all such events, as reported by all faiths, are man's own unwitting manipulations of the underlying power inherent in our Universe itself, present due to the nature of pandeistic creation. And, failing to address this, naturally, nowhere does Sainttalk seek to disprove this possibility (other than to point out that the holy book to which he holds makes different assumptions). This is perhaps a lost opportunity to test the logic of Pandeism; but since it is an opportunity not taken, we move on with the intact presumption that Pandeism is indeed at least able to fully account.

Sainttalk next writes about how Pandeism "purports to have a superior answer to of all past evil," which is an interesting formulation. Pandeism offers a "superior answer" only in the sense that "5+3=8" is a mathematically "superior" answer as compared to "5+3=2"; it is simply an answer more cogently based on fundamental logic than explanations which suffer from theodicy. Pandeism, Sainttalk complains, attributes "past wars to various 'faiths' rather than the sinners who did not practice their faiths," knowledge which Sainttalk credits to "You-tube videos" -- probably especially meaning this one here -- HERE -- but misunderstands the import of. Pandeism does not claim that faiths inherently cause violence (this is a question for the psychologists), simply that those models are demonstratedly ineffective at averting it. At the least, if being a source of violence is a reason to reject a belief system, these models have failed to redeem themselves of that charge.

There's no doubt that a great many religions actually preach (as Sainttalk asserts) "love our enemies" and similar platitudes of peacefulness -- but it is equally well observed that a core teaching which is ignored by the vast majority of adherents to a faith can reasonably be taken indicative of a subconscious understanding of the general falsity of the propositions of that faith. It is noteworthy as well that, even as to a point largely irrelevant to the truthfulness of Pandeism, Sainttalk presents a false dichotomy, claiming that Pandeism attributes past wars to faiths, as opposed to but one other alternative (the theistic construct of 'sinners'), as if other sources of violence lie beyond the critic's conception. But there is violence in nature; we do not call it a "sin" when asparrow devours a gnat, so perhaps we would do well to consider how much our conceptions of such things are built on a bit too anthropocentric a view of our Universe.

On Pandeism and the Afterlife:

Sainttalk claims that Pandeism "purports to be a philosophy of peace because any bad you do you will later experience to the same degree and any good you do you will later experience to the same degree" (this fellow seems to especially like the word "purports"). Likely, Sainttalk got this notion from another vid, Pandeism and the Afterlife,  HERE, but this vid itself notes that only somePandeists so claim, that this is not a core tenet of Pandeism, but simply a logical extension of certain lines of pandeistic thought.

Simply put, these conclusions stem from the ideas that, firstly, our Creator becomes our Universe to learn through our experiences; secondly, that it may be quite useful to our Creator for our collective experiences (our 'minds') to thereafter be retained intact within the consciousness of our Creator; and thirdly, that each of our minds, having full access to the breadth of all experience of our Universe, will be aware specifically of what consequences accrued for good or ill from our own actions in life. Now, the reason that this is not a core pandeistic belief is that, though logically derived, it is simply not an absolutely necessity for the operations of a pandeistic Universe -- and Pandeism is built on logic, and so on the questions of what is possible and impossible, and what is necessary and unnecessary.

That aside, Sainttalk treats this idea, which he considers a variant of karma, as if it were inseparable from Pandeism, and then turns to lamenting that the idea of karma "has not prevented wars, poverty, injustice or any other sins against humanity in the past." Well, it is true indeed that no theological model (including Sainttalk's own) has had the effect of bringing about peace, comfort, or justice. Sainttalk continues, "Humans have proven themselves to be sinful and selfish NO MATTER WHAT LIST OF RULES YOU GIVE THEM," and (substituting something like 'hurtful' for the biased framework of 'sinful') this is again true as to all faiths. And so not especially an argument for or against any faith, but an argument that the widely held faiths which claim to champion peace are subconsciously understood to be false faiths.

Additionally, Sainttalk asserts, then, that "the afterife to a pandeist is just a sowing/reaping" which Sainttalk claims as a tenet of own faith, and ends this section with the conclusion that Pandeism lacks the benefit of the particular religious figure whom Sainttalk considers necessary for "salvation." This is quite an odd stance, if "salvation" is not needed for those who have sown goodness. Later on, Sainttalk criticizes the suggestion of Pandeists that the dichotomous afterlife options of his own faith are "too black and white," insisting that his holy book allows for" degrees of punishment for sinners" and "levels of reward" for adherents to his faith. (I note here that theistic faiths ape each other enough on these points that in addressing them, it is no matter which religion is claimed, which holy book is held up as deity-inspired, which religious figure is demanded to be worshiped.)

But whatever claims are made as to degrees of punishment, it is still untenably claimed that the states of reward or punishment themselves are eternal, and that their associated deity is strangely impotent as to them, too weak to reach them even, and powerless to change them. But, again, these foibles of theism are not core elements of Pandeism, and more interesting territory lies ahead, where these are actually taken on.

On a Creator Being Able to Learn From Its Creation:

Sainttalk does then, at last, address a core element of Pandeism, that being the pandeistic proposition that our Creator has a rational reason to create at all:

The pandeist denies that the creator and the creation are two separate entities...the painter becomes his painting. We share in godhood. They have no good answer to the "why?" question. They suggest the creator will learn from the people he created by sharing/experiencing their experiences and reactions. But does one powerful enough to CREATE creatures with options/responses/will, etc... need to "learn" from his creation?
It is interesting that Sainttalk claims in one sentence that there is "no good answer" as to why, and yet in the very next sentence offers what he fails to accept as a very good answer -- and one for which he offers no logically effective refutation. The "answer" is obvious in light of our own experience of existence. Learning is an ability -- one possessed in some degree even by some lower orders of animals. Amongst our fellows, we praise those who are able to learn from their experiences, and pity those who are not able to do so. Sainttalk frames his deity as utterly pitiful, unable to learn, and so having no rational reason to create anything at all. Possibly, a desperate enough theist might insist that their deity is unable to learn because it already know everything, already knew which outcome would come about to every moment of decision before deciding to set forth the Universe in which those moments would occur, but this answer eliminates the claim of free will, and replaces it with the cruelest and most absolute predestination.

Pandeism, instead, offers concrete examples of things which a rational, logically possible Creator could, in fact, learn from its Creation. Can an entity which is alone in existence and which is powerful enough to set forth a Universe know how it feels to face an opponent more powerful than itself? Can it know how it feels to be ignorant? Uninformed? In the dark? Confused? Can it know how it feels to cooperate with others, to achieve through teamwork things which it knows it can not do alone? Can it know how it feels to fear the unknown, and to act courageously in the face of such fear? These experiences, almost everyday to us, are necessarily unknown to any entity which faces no external threat, which has no unknown to fear, and it is only through existence as beings ableto experience such things that any entity could actually experience such things!!

But Sainttalk goes further than failing to see this answer; he claims that his preferred holy book specifically deems the Creation to be separate from its Creator, and "calls creation-worship (we are gods) a SIN." It is a well-worn error of anti-Pandeism to mischaracterise Pandeism as any kind of "self-worship." Pandeism contends that our Creator became our Universe, not that each individual person is therefore in some sense equal to the whole of our Creator. To make such a claim is akin to calling a drop of water "the ocean" or a single cell "a person"; it is a straw man, an attack on a position never taken by Pandeism.

Does Our Creator Exist To Serve Our Needs? Or Do We Exist To Serve Our Creator's Needs?

Failing to effectively demonstrate the ineptness of his own deity as to the ability of "learning," Sainttalk dives further into the errors of his own religious conditioning:

Another unanswered question is this: Why no communication from this creator before he went into rules hints? That seems pointless, if not cruel. Why has this one who had the power to prevent evil or control it in the world not given any deterrent to it...
This sort of thinking has always egotistically assumed that our Creator exists to serve man's purposes, and not the other way round. Beyond that, it demonstrates the sort of schizophrenia which theism demands in simultaneously contending that man is in some vaunted "special" place in Creation, while condemning the notion that man is in any such place. Nowhere is this more eloquently highlighted than in Sainttalk's own conclusion to the above thought, that "Pandeists have no understanding of the fallen, selfish, sin-bent hearts of all humans."

From there, Sainttalk steps into a bit of hypocrisy, and a bit of bizarreness. He writes:

The Pandeist view is based on presuppositions that cannot be proven. God just left us to figure this all out for many thousands of years? Why is this such a NEW idea? Pandeists indicated 2010 and 2012 as key years for the "ism". By what power or authority did the Pandeism idea come into being? What verifies its truth?
As to this, firstly, all religion is based on presuppositions which cannot be proved. Indeed, the theistic faiths simply take the essential presuppositions of Pandeism and add to them layers more presupposition. It is the rare theologian who confesses this simple truth, and rarer still the one who confesses that the collective assumptions necessary for any theistic faith are indeed inherently counter to logic, and believed for the sake of belief alone.

As to the notion of our being left "to figure this all out" -- again, what of the countless millions of people who lived and died without ever hearing of Sainttalk's faith? Were they not left "to figure this all out" with no sign of a supposed salvation? How unforgivably cruel, if such a thing existed. But, in fact, we are not left alone to figure things out, we are given discernible governing dynamics, logical and consistent operations of our Universe, and forces as simple as gravity and thermodynamics giving us heat.

As to this being a "new" idea -- well, it is weird that Sainttalk would cite Wikipedia as his first point of authority, and then seemingly ignore the one thing Wikipedia does well as to this topic, which is to point up the age of the ideas Pandeism encompasses, and the age of the specific theory itself. Wikipedia notes as well the assignment of this origin by experts with the Milesians, going back over 2,600 years, and notes the opinions of other experts of Pandeism in Hinduism, which is inestimably older still. Wikipedia identifies the earliest use of the term (in German, naturally) in 1787, followed by an intermittent stream of commentary on the theory from then to the present, with one work presenting an especially substantial focus on Pandeism having been published in 1910. The years mentioned by Sainttalk -- 2010 and 2012 -- are "key" only in that they were fantastic years for Pandeism making inroads into the base of human knowledge, years in which the discovery of things like extrasolar planets strengthened the case for Pandeism to the point where Sainttalk himself feels compelled to address it.

All that as a given, the modern resurgence of interest in Pandeism in light of supporting discoveries in physics makes Pandeism more akin to the Theory of Relativity. When first announced, those who confuse science and theology might well have derided this theory as being "such a new idea." They might well have demanded to know by what power or authority did the Theory of Relativity come into being?

The Importance of Requiring the Fewest Logical Assumptions:

Sainttalk next notes that anybody may claim that "martyrs for their faith will get 72 virgins in heaven," and at another point asks, "What makes THIS idea any better than any other? Some folks like "great pumpkin" theology... anything wrong with that one?" And here we come precisely to the crux of the matter, which is that Pandeism makes the fewest assumptions of any of these models (including Sainttalk's own). Pandeism proposes that ours appears to be a Created Universe -- a point which would be agreed upon by both Sainttalk and the followers of competing faiths which he derides. Pandeism proposes that our Creator had:

1) At least enough power to create the energy of our physical Universe.
2) And, at least enough intelligence to design our Universe's governing dynamics.
3) And, at least enough rationality to have a rational motivation for such Creation.
I would imaging that Sainttalk would be hard pressed to declare that our Creator had insufficient power to create what it created, or that it had insufficient power to have created by becoming our Universe, if it so chose. But that is all that Pandeism requires, and all that it requires to fully account for every scripture, oracle, prophecy, and revelation to come from the hands and mouths of men; and every miracle perceived by the eyes of men.

Pandeism does not require that our Creator be more powerful than is necessary to create all that we can observe to exist, because logic cannot require this; there is no proof of such additional power, for that would require proof of something which we cannot know to exist. And so it is with every other assumption which other faiths would pile upon the simple assumptions of Pandeism. Whether it be 72 virgins in heaven, a divinely authored set of commands, a Great Pumpkin, a resurrected carpenter, a Flying Spaghetti Monster, or a God forever giving birth to itself, every single one of these is a bundled set of assumptions beyond those three set forth above.

The All-Important Question for the Pandeist:

For a Pandeist, the all-important question is, what do logic and reason allow us to deduce about our Universe, from its observable characteristics?

This is key because Pandeism proposes a Creator which is actually universally discernible, and not the sort which can only be known to those to whom it reveals itself. Pandeism makes the obvious logical connection in this regard -- a religion which claims to be universal, but which is (or has ever been) unknown to some portion of the population shows itself to be a lie.

For a pandeist the all-important question to ask is this: Who was [insert religious figure here]? Even non-[insert religious text here] evidence indicates He DID exist. (See footnotes.) Was He a deceived, deceiving man or God in human form, telling us that the creator is not the creation, and that HE is the only way to escape punishment for sin. If He is not who he claimed to be, Pandeism is OK to believe in. But if Christ proved He was God in human form, pandeists are going to be accountable for ignoring God's revelations of Himself through the Bible and through Christ. Christ proved by miracles and by the resurrection from the dead that He was God in human form! (Search for "resurrection evidences" on line) One cannot honestly say "God has said nothing" when the Bible is riddled with "Thus saith the Lord" statements. Further, there are many many fulfilled prophecies in the Bible that verify it is a supernatural book. But there is nothing authoritative to authenticate the ideas of Pandeists....they just came from someone's mind.
Since Sainttalk fails throughout to address the logic from which Pandeism is derived, it is perhaps no wonder that he stands in ignorance of what makes this idea better than other theological notions. Again, Pandeism makes a small number of logically straightforward assumptions, and through these is able to fully account for all other religious claims. If the additional assumptions of another theory are to supplant the logic of Pandeism, then discernible evidence of their necessity must be shown, not in the fallible minds of men, but in the physical nature of our Universe itself!!

Ego-Inflating the Fallacy of the Excluded Middle:

And at last, Sainttalk more or less doubles down on his rejection of reason in his concluding paragraphs. Firstly, he delves deeply into the fallacy of the excluded middle and the error of base egotism.

If [insert religious figure here] is not who He claimed to be, I, as a [insert religious denomination here] will STILL have a good afterlife because as a follower of [insert religious figure here], I have done a LOT of good things for people....and have held firmly to my deepest beliefs (based on all the information I had).
Given the vagaries of historical records, we can not truly be sure of what any religions figure 'claimed' at all. But as to Sainttalk's own cockiness as to his assured good afterlife, well he ought not to be so quick to pat himself on the back. There is no inherent goodness to having held firmly to one's deepest beliefs -- which claim most every crusader or terrorist can make. And this statement contradicts the disclaimer of it being based on all the information the petioner had, for one who is sufficiently informed comes to know that absolute certainty in any faith simply cannot be rationally maintained. As to this individual in particular, his other webpages suggest, variously, that Mormonism and Catholicism and Seventh Day Adventism are false faiths (he labels Pope Francis, for example, as "the most radical or heretical pope of the last century" for daring to imagine a deity able to redeem even atheists). And so it seems (from what little of himself is discernible through these writings) that if Sainttalk is indeed wrong about the particulars of his religious belief, then his primary practice in life has been the sowing of discord against even trivial variations from his own theological model. And he claims:
No legitimate "deity" would suggest that course was wrong without TELLING us so. (This would be a denial of the pandeist version of karma). What other guidance did this pandeistic ghost offer?
This is a very interesting concession in light of the abject failure of any theistic deity to effectively "tell" most of the people who have ever lived if they were on the wrong course. For every reeling, there are literally billions who have lived and died without ever hearing of it, meaning that under Sainttalk's own formula, his is no legitimate deity. And at last, inevitably, he pulls out Pascal's Wager:
If [insert religious figure here] IS who He claimed to be, pandeists will suffer in hell for choosing not to believe in Him. They need to DEAL WITH the claims of [insert religious figure here].
This, now, is simply a threat, a base appeal to roll the dice between wholly illogical fears, and indeed itself the ultimate proof against the deity Sainttalk claims. If I believe that "5+3=8" is true, and I am told that a deity exists which is evil enough to cause me to "suffer in hell" if I choose not to believe that "5+3=2" (while competing theological salesmen are claiming that I will suffer such condemnation if I choose not to believe that "5+3=7" or that "5+3=11" or that "5+3=4"), then I am still better off following such truth and logic as is revealed not by any human, but by the nature of our Universe, the evidence which would be discernible to any person anywhere, even if they had never heard of or imagined any holy book.

Closing Thoughts:

In his own missive against Mormonism, HERE, Sainttalk himself challenges them thusly:

Many who THINK they are being objective, simply cannot be open-minded. Why? To say, "my beliefs may be wrong" is a TOUGH thing to do, perhaps because pride may be involved. And when one's faith is the hub of his or her social and/or economic WORLD, there may be a huge price to pay for such HONEST objectivity! Many just won't consider having to pay the price. Do you still think you are objective?
Ah, but this sound advice, he himself does not even begin to take when approaching a theological model which arises from a more logical approach than his own pridefully, perhaps conditionally held belief set. Perhaps even more unfortunately for Sainttalk, his website (and its many efforts at disposing of theories and theologies which would undermine his own) is unable to accommodate responses -- ironically necessitating a response on this much more visible and visited forum.

1 comment:

Joe Smith said...

Sainttalk is Sharon from Idaho a Baptist who has differing views than her Church. She proposes on her website that there are only two places Heaven and Hell but forgets that Paul went to the third heaven. If Paul went to #3 then there are at least 3 plus her hell. she argues that Purgatory does not exist but cant explain the thief on the cross and where Jesus was between his death and resurrection. She has no answer. She tries to use the bible to make her points but the bible refutes her own thoughts. She has had her webite for 17 years and still does not see the big picture. She flips and flops like a perch on a dock.