Monday, September 10, 2007

The Omnipotent God - B

This is a follow up to part A.

Recall that * version of Gods is the same as unstrarred one except it refers to knowledge as opposed to power. Also recall the definitions of more knowledgeable and more powerful, which unlike the colloquial sense are umambiguous. Nevertheless it is worth reiterating here. To be able to do some task (defined here) is a measure of Power of an entity and his ability to carry out a proof in a formal system is a measure of Knowledge of a k-entity, which as shown here is same as entity, which also shows that power and knowledge are equivalent concepts. Taking inspiration from the knowledge versions G2* and G3* here we define G2 and G3 Gods. After this we can equivalently talk about G2/G2* and G3/G3*. For the sake of completeness, we also reiterate the definition of G1 here.

  1. The *list of tasks which God (called as G1) can execute includes any conceivable task. i.e, if there exists any entity, then all the tasks from its *list are also present in the *list of G1. We have called this *list as L1. And we have shown that any entity with L1 as its *list cannot exist. The star-version of G1 is G1*, which is in possession of a formal system capable of telling him all the truth. This runs into same contradiction as G4. This point actually shows that *List concept itself is troublesome. Hence we change tack and work only with Lists.

  2. A G2 god is one whose list is union of lists of all the entities. This means that such a God has already executed all the conceivable tasks, maybe before the universe began.

  3. A G3 god by contrast has not performed all the tasks, but is in the process of finishing it and will do so eventually.

In the sequel it is sufficient if we talk only about either the starred or unstarred versions not both. So we use the terms interchangeably.

Also for the sake of completeness we mention that the corresponding notion of G4 in context of omnipotence is the *list L1. (Since G4 is a formal system not a k-entity so its omnipotence-counterpart must be a *list rather than an entity). We have already agreed that L1 is non-existent.

A point in Omnipotence vs Omniscience

In Dawkins' The God Delusion there is an argument showing why omniscience and omnipotence are mutually incompatible. Roughly it goes like this :
If God is omniscient he must be knowing what he is going to do at some point of time (say one year later) in the future. Then he is powerless against changing it. Hence He cannot be omnipotent
As we understand, defining omnipotence and omniscience is a troublesome task at best. And to give it a concrete unambiguous meaning seems impossible. We have tried various tacks of trying to define both the things, none of which works. Ultimately these concepts are ill defined and logically contradictory. Hence they cannot be used to form unambiguously meaningful sentences. So the above proof stands invalid. We are not saying that omnipotence and omniscience are mutually compatible. Just that it doesn't make sense to ask this question. In this respect it is like many english questions which are grammatically correct but meaningless to answer. like - what is the shape of red color ? flaw : shape is not defined for color.

In fact as we have seen here, if at all omniscience and omnipotence should be expected to go hand in hand. But again it is meaningless to explore this thing further.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Hypothesis of Atheism

So far we have been trying to understand the Theism hypothesis. Upon some reflection, it turns out that it is not so easy to make this hypothesis precise, which is where most of the difficulty with God arises. Nevertheless we will try various approaches and see what we can do with it. For the sake of completeness, we mention a caricature of this hypothesis : There exists a (many ?) loving, caring, all powerful, all knowing, timeless, supremely perfect (and with limitless creative powers) being called God. The universe, life, humanity, ethics, morals, etc all are His creation. He rules the world with his infinite wisdom.

Now we come to the Hypothesis of Atheism. Again different people may have different interpretations of it, but let us have a initial working hypothesis, which we may refine as need comes (just like we are doing with theism hypothesis).
  • Life has got no spiritual meaning. We are all products of unconscious physical laws and our life is a result of choices/actions of all of us and the universe. There is no divine intervention in life. We are solely on our own.
  • Death has got no higher purpose. We have got just one precious life, which cannot be reincarnated and is lost irretrievably after death. In short, death is a full stop. No more outer journeys, no heaven, no hell and no after life.
  • There does not exist any soul, which is also one of the ambiguous concepts. We will try to understand it clearly in the future. Also we don't consider existence of ghosts, spirits, bhoots, demons, draculas, etc.
  • The universe was not made by God neither are we designed by any conscious being.
  • Nobody rules us from up there since there is no 'up there'. Our ethics, morals etc all are our creation and God/religion has no place in it. And nobody is 'up there' to punish for our wrongdoings, we have to do it on our own if at all.
  • Finally there is no God. So no divine intervention in the world too. No Allah, no Yahweh, no Ishwara, no Awesta, no trinity, no awatars, no prophets and no awaited messiah. Anybody who claims to be a prophet or awatar is either fraud, foolish, demented, demagogue, power hungry or all. Can't help but wonder how much our politicians (especially the dictators) fit this picture ? This we shall see is actually more true : such messiahs are usually very cunning politicians. In fact their aides are even more cunning and cruel.
  • Religion is a big eyewash. It serves no constructive purpose in our life. If something superficially seems nice about it, it is only our own inherent goodness and is not bestowed either by God or religion. Consequently prayers are meaningless. And so are all purported Books of revelations.

So let us steer clear of such prophets, messiahs and their revealed Books. Let us embrace the beautiful life that we have got with such a great luck. Let us pay our just tributes to mother earth by acknowledging its role in (figuratively speaking) creating life and not pander to imaginary / destructive Gods. We have already destroyed too much life in the name of God. Let us put a stop to all this madness.

Rationally speaking, the burden of proof should rest on the theists. We atheists are simply asserting the opposite of theists point of view. So technically theism is a hypothesis in need of proof not atheism. But to start with we consider the theism as well atheism on equal footing and start our investigation.