1
   

Science proves apophatic theology

 
 
pam69ur
 
Reply Fri 6 Jul, 2007 07:24 pm
it is arued in this book that science proves apophatic theologies claims that god/reality are ineffable
[CENTER][CENTER]PROLEGOMENON TO THE STUDY OF THE SIMILARITIES IN MYSTICAL THEOLOGY AND SCIENCE[/CENTER]
[/CENTER]


http://gamahucherpress.yellowgum.com/books/philosophy/theology.pdf

Quote:
Mystical theology and science share a common understanding in regard to the limitations and hindrance of language in unlocking reality. Both would agree that language falsifies reality. It falsifies it by imposing limits to the real. It falsifies it by imposing human categories and classifications to the real. For both realities is beyond words and human concepts. Reality transcends language. Language in fact hinders a true understanding of the real. What language does is create what the Hindus' call Maya. Namely a conventional reality based upon language -a world of appearances and forms of illusion or deception generated by a falsifying language which an unenlightened mind takes as the only reality. For the physicist Bohr language is a barrier to understanding reality Dante like Lao Tzu, Pseudo-Dionysius St Augustine (354-430), St Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) Zen and many forms of Eastern mysticism knew the simultaneous inapplicability and inevitability of human language when talking of reality or God and his attributes and domains. Whether the reality as investigated by science is really just another name for God or the reality investigated by science is just a reality and not the God of religion. In other words is God just another name for reality or is reality just another name for God is by the by. What is important is this reality/God as understood by both science and theology is beyond the ability of human language -and thus intellect to grasp
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 4,210 • Replies: 44
No top replies

 
Aristoddler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Jul, 2007 03:11 am
@pam69ur,
If god and reality are ineffable...then I guess there's nothing to talk about.

Sometimes, I find myself doubting the intellect of man when he reasons these things.
Sometimes, I find that these things are best left unreasonable.
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jul, 2007 08:09 am
@Aristoddler,
Hi guys:)

The lanuage of many traditional western religions through lanuage have a pretty clear impression of God it seems to me,he has all the characteristics of a not to pleasant humanity.The one thing this type of religion does to great effect is to close the door on wonder,when you have ceased to wonder at the mystery of the world and the wonder of your own being it seems to me spirituality is lost.
Peter phil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 03:35 am
@boagie,
Both Kant and his successor Schopenhauer argued that ultimate reality is beyond our experience and beyond the possibility of knowledge, though they did not discuss this in terms of language but rather as "categories of understanding".

A basic point is that if you postulate an ultimate reality which is beyond our reach then it is just that - beyond our reach. Meanwhile we have to get on with living our lives in the reality which we know and which is within our reach. As a matter of survival we are forced to build up a knowledge of reality as it is known to the senses and for this task the methods of science are unquestionably superior to those of theology.

Peter
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Oct, 2007 05:17 pm
@Peter phil,
Peter wrote:

A basic point is that if you postulate an ultimate reality which is beyond our reach then it is just that - beyond our reach. Meanwhile we have to get on with living our lives in the reality which we know and which is within our reach. As a matter of survival we are forced to build up a knowledge of reality as it is known to the senses and for this task the methods of science are unquestionably superior to those of theology.
Peter

Hi peter. I agree that what you said makes plenty of sense. I'm not trying to say one way or another right now, but I just wanted to point out that science will only be proved "unquestionably superior" if indeed there is no God/Creator, or he doesn't expect us to believe in him. This doesn't prove you wrong of course, it's just the other side of the coin.Wink
Peter phil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Dec, 2007 10:09 am
@NeitherExtreme,
NeitherExtreme wrote:
Hi peter. I agree that what you said makes plenty of sense. I'm not trying to say one way or another right now, but I just wanted to point out that science will only be proved "unquestionably superior" if indeed there is no God/Creator, or he doesn't expect us to believe in him. This doesn't prove you wrong of course, it's just the other side of the coin.Wink


Thanks for the comment, NeitherExtreme. I don't think I can go along with it. I said that the methods of science are unquestionably superior for the purpose of building up knowledge of the world which is revealed to us by the senses and in which we live. You could believe in a transcendant God while accepting that investigation of the physical world is best done using the methods of science.

Peter
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Dec, 2007 01:39 pm
@Peter phil,
Peter wrote:
Thanks for the comment, NeitherExtreme. I don't think I can go along with it. I said that the methods of science are unquestionably superior for the purpose of building up knowledge of the world which is revealed to us by the senses and in which we live. You could believe in a transcendant God while accepting that investigation of the physical world is best done using the methods of science.

Peter


Point taken. Smile I guess I should have said that science that excludes the possiblity of "an ultimate reality which is beyond our reach" is in jepordy of comming to wrong conclusions if there is such a reality. I personally think that anyone's interpretation of "fact" will be influenced by some "unprovable" assumtions that make up their world-view. I think this is just an inescapable part of the human experience.

For what its worth, this "apophatic thoelogy" seems to be guilty of some other extreme, and makes precious little sense to me...
Peter phil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Dec, 2007 09:33 am
@NeitherExtreme,
Anyone who "excludes the possibility of an ultimate reality which is beyond our reach" is not engaged in science but in some kind of dogmatism. Ultimate reality may be beyond our reach (ie understanding) or it may not. At present we cannot be sure since we lack evidence. My own inclination is to expect that there are elements of reality which are beyond our comprehension if only because our brains and minds evolved Wink to fulfill certain functions and are therefore likely to be unsuited to understanding events and processes which are remote from us. In fact, in one respect we may already have reached the frontier of what is comprehensible - in relation to quantum physics. No one really understands some of the more exotic findings of this discipline (eg that the same electron can pass through two spatially separated gaps in a screen at the same time; that subatomic particles appear to take up definite positions only when they are observed; that spatially separated particles appear to maintain some kind of non-spatial "entanglement"). It appears to me that those engaged in quantum physics merely note their findings rather than understand them.

On the other hand, as a prerequisite for undertaking any quest for knowledge we need to entertain at least the hope that the subject matter will prove to be comprehensible - otherwise there would be little point in doing philosophy and science rather than crossword puzzles! The best tactic, I would suggest, is to assume that reality is comprehensible until it is found to be otherwise.

Talking of "unprovable assumptions", I have found that those who proclaim loudly that ultimate reality is beyond our understanding are often pretty quick to make definite assertions about it - if not a grey old man with a beard then at least that it consists of an intelligent designer prone to intervening in the processes of the universe. There seems to be a strong urge to fill in any gap in our knowledge with an anthropomorphic projection of our own priorities and ways of thinking. We should resist this urge until evidence becomes available. It is better to admit our ignorance than to proclaim an error.

Peter:)
Doorsopen
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Dec, 2007 01:00 pm
@pam69ur,
Language defines reality. According to every world religion it CREATES reality. We construct our understanding by defining sets of phenomenon. It seems that transient states of being become manifest reality merely by perception:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God." John 1:1

"Every creature is a word of God" Meister Eckhart

"... the name is nothing but a changing combination of physical and psychical phenomena, and has no real existence in itself." - from 'The Five Groups of Existence, Buddha, The Word 500 BC

"You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them." from the Koran (17:36)

FINALLY:
And the Lord said, behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they will begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."



PS Shame on Boagie for naysaying the status of spirituality! Religion has a really bad rep at the moment (perhaps with just cause) but I assure him transcendence is happening without the church.

PPS
Can anyone refer me to a discussion concerning the enormous empty space that has been discovered in the Universe? Woud like to explore the concept and the nature of the space that encloses a void--- seems like a good place to explore the threshold between existence and non-existence.
0 Replies
 
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Dec, 2007 05:36 pm
@Peter phil,
Peter wrote:

Talking of "unprovable assumptions", I have found that those who proclaim loudly that ultimate reality is beyond our understanding are often pretty quick to make definite assertions about it - if not a grey old man with a beard then at least that it consists of an intelligent designer prone to intervening in the processes of the universe. There seems to be a strong urge to fill in any gap in our knowledge with an anthropomorphic projection of our own priorities and ways of thinking. We should resist this urge until evidence becomes available. It is better to admit our ignorance than to proclaim an error.


Hehe, you would probalby laugh if you knew all the scenerios I've imagined to explain the nature of the "outside source" (as I call it during discussions such as this) that must have influenced our universe, based on the little that we "know" about it. IMO, one of the funnier and more interesting scenerios that I've thought of is that our whole universes could be a science experiment on Entropy, being designed by some powerful scientists (or maybe just young students) who exist in a universe not controlled by entropy. On the more serious side, there was a time when I felt that the most logical solution that I could come to was that there was an omnipotent being who was pure evil, and "good" was only introduced so that pain could be more clearly experienced, and that this being was behind all religions and using them to confuse humanity.

I have indeed come to some beliefs (things I actually believe), and these have been based on both observation and experience. At the same time, I realize that they are not imperically provable.

Here's a few ideas i've had, of course based on the idea that nature could not have created the present universe in general, and life in particular:

If there is an "outside source" that in essence created the universe and life, it must be very powerful, and fully capable of making itself known in any way that it chooses. The fact that this source (for the most part IMO) does not clearly (imperically) present itself most likely means that it is either:
-indifferent towards us (unlikely IMO if it created us)
-that it dislikes us (in which case we are all in trouble)
-that it is studying us (meaning we are basically lab rats)
-that it wants us to seek after the knowledge of it (which IMO perfectly fits with our desire to seek for truth. IMO this scenerio would make perfect sense if this "source" created us).
Peter phil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Dec, 2007 08:24 am
@NeitherExtreme,
Hi, NeitherExtreme,Smile

I was especially interested in your comment: "If there is an "outside source" that in essence created the universe and life, it must be very powerful, and fully capable of making itself known in any way that it chooses."

The trouble I have with these kinds of ideas is that if we invoke an outside source to explain "the universe" or "our universe" then we still haven't addressed the fundamental problem - that is the origin of everything that exists. Immediately you posit an outside source you are of course assuming that it/he/she exists. It then becomes part of the general concept of everything that exists - and requires an explanation just as much as any other part of the totality. By definition, everything that exists can not have an explanation outside itself.

It looks as if we just cannot handle the idea of a totality which is not sourced outside itself. The reason for that, I would suggest, is that our mental processes are geared up to (have evolved only with the capacity to) understand and explain the events of immediate experience in terms of other specific events which we identify as causes. However, as I've just demonstrated, if we are seriously talking about the totality of existence then it seems that we need to get used to the idea of no outside origin. Perhaps this, like quantum physics, is a concept which goes beyond the capacity of a brain which has evolved to deal only with a specific range of terrestrial processes.

Peter
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Dec, 2007 06:11 pm
@Peter phil,
Peter wrote:
Hi, NeitherExtreme,Smile

I was especially interested in your comment: "If there is an "outside source" that in essence created the universe and life, it must be very powerful, and fully capable of making itself known in any way that it chooses."

The trouble I have with these kinds of ideas is that if we invoke an outside source to explain "the universe" or "our universe" then we still haven't addressed the fundamental problem - that is the origin of everything that exists. Immediately you posit an outside source you are of course assuming that it/he/she exists. It then becomes part of the general concept of everything that exists - and requires an explanation just as much as any other part of the totality. By definition, everything that exists can not have an explanation outside itself.

It looks as if we just cannot handle the idea of a totality which is not sourced outside itself. The reason for that, I would suggest, is that our mental processes are geared up to (have evolved only with the capacity to) understand and explain the events of immediate experience in terms of other specific events which we identify as causes. However, as I've just demonstrated, if we are seriously talking about the totality of existence then it seems that we need to get used to the idea of no outside origin. Perhaps this, like quantum physics, is a concept which goes beyond the capacity of a brain which has evolved to deal only with a specific range of terrestrial processes.

Peter


Well, it appears we may be at an impass... Wink Smile Just a few thoughts: If I had to get really specific about the "outside source" I describe, I would say that I am not necessarily speaking about something outside our universe. It may be outside, inside, part of each, or something altogether other. What I really mean by "outside" is something that exists outside the laws of nature, physics, science, rules of time/space. Something outside of these laws might not need a begining, entropy my not effect it, infinity might be realized. OTOH, nature as we can observe it is a gigantic paradox of nonsense (which ought not to exist as it does) if something "outside" had not had influence. My opinion, of course. But I can not logically see it any other way.

And yes, there are quite obviously limitations to our human understanding. But I would ask you this: If our minds have evolved (geared up) to be able to only understand our imediate experiences, then why have humans, throughout all of our history and in every corner of the earth that we exist, search for meaning outside of ourselves and our experiences?
Peter phil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Dec, 2007 02:50 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
Hello again, NeitherExtreme,Smile

Yes, the formulation that "outside source" means outside the known laws of science, outside space and time is certainly logically consistent in that it does not involve a contradiction. Could it be true? Well, scientists prefer to maintain that the laws of nature are identical throughout the universe but this is an assumption rather than a fact. It is partly an aspiration and partly a rule of general epistemological discipline - to maximise consistency and minimise the use of ad hoc explanations. So it is possible that the idea you express is true.

Have you ever read (or read about) Schopenhauer? He believes that there are two aspects to reality. One is the phenomenal world of our senses, daily experience and science. The other is a non-conscious, non-purposive energy existing outwith space, time and causality. A good introduction is The Philosophy of Schopenhauer by Bryan Magee, Clarendon Press (1983,1997).

But the logical possibility that an idea is true only means that its truth would not lead to a logical contradiction. There is a huge gap between possible and actual truth. It is possible that I will win the Lotto tomorrow.

Peter Smile
0 Replies
 
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Dec, 2007 12:45 pm
@pam69ur,
Peter,

I have not read any Schopenhauer, but will take a look...

After thinking about it some more, I decided that looking for natural explanations is in essence what science is all about. If people had always attributed to God what they didn't understand, we would have very little scientific understanding indeed... I still think that it would be a hinderence for science to assume that the supernatural can not exist. It is a subtle difference I am after- I don't think science should use the supernatural as an explanation, but neither do I think that science should make poor "scientific" excuses to deal with of the scientifically unexplainable. (Further study is fine, poor excuses in the meantime is not.) And if the scientist is holding strongly, even if subconsciously, to a world-view that excludes the possibility of something that is possible (the supernatural), he will not be able to tell when he has "crossed the line" from science to excuses. His science can in essence lose it's scientific integrity, and subconsiously become the defense of his assumed world view.

A subtle difference, but a profound one IMO.
Peter phil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Dec, 2007 05:49 am
@NeitherExtreme,
NeitherExtreme wrote:
Peter,

After thinking about it some more, I decided that looking for natural explanations is in essence what science is all about. If people had always attributed to God what they didn't understand, we would have very little scientific understanding indeed...


Hi, NeitherExtreme,

I think I can see the possibility of a consensus emerging. It looks as if we are in agreement that there are areas of potential knowledge that we don't understand and that it is important not to claim knowledge in areas which are (for the present at least) beyond our understanding. I wonder, though, why you wish to call our areas of ignorance "the supernatural"? Does this imply that it is permanently beyond our understanding? My position is that, although our intelligence is finite (and we should therefore expect that at some stage we will come up against limits), we have no idea where these limits are. It therefore makes sense to assume comprehensibility until we find otherwise. For this reason I am reluctant to use the word "supernatural" since this suggests a region which is permanently beyond the possibility of understanding.

I am strengthened in this view by the history of mankind's aquisition of knowledge in which a pattern is revealed of primitive thinking which ascribed supernatural, animistic causes to natural events, being steadily replaced by the development of rational, scientific explanations. Because our growth of knowledge is cumulative, it is to be expected that it will be incomplete and that there will therefore be gaps. But I don't see any reason to assume that these gaps are essentially outwith the limits of reasoned explanation.

Peter
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Dec, 2007 04:48 pm
@Peter phil,
Peter wrote:

I am strengthened in this view by the history of mankind's aquisition of knowledge in which a pattern is revealed of primitive thinking which ascribed supernatural, animistic causes to natural events, being steadily replaced by the development of rational, scientific explanations. Because our growth of knowledge is cumulative, it is to be expected that it will be incomplete and that there will therefore be gaps. But I don't see any reason to assume that these gaps are essentially outwith the limits of reasoned explanation.


I agree that we might be coming to a consensus here. Smile And thanks for pushing me out, as I have been forced to refine what I'm saying, and I appreciate that. The paragraph above is indeed the same (and strong) logic that I have already come to that would support the naturalist world view. IMO though, science has in many ways advanced only to more sharply define that which has no natural explanation (non-entropy in general and complex life in particular). The major subjects that man has always ascribed to the supernatural still lie astonishingly (IMO) unexplainable. These would be life in it's various forms and the order that we find in the universe at large (stars, earth, water, and its very existence for that matter). And if there is something supernatural, then it has clearly chosen, for the time being anyway, to hide itself for the most part- but IMO leaving clues for the unbiased and careful observer, or for the one who doesn't doubt their instincts. And it is this "hideness" that makes me assume that at least for now, we will not be fully able to discover it; if it exists outside the universe, then we can not find it by our senses if it has hiden itself.

In the end though, my main desire for science is that it could become self-aware (and honest), and play the part of the unbiased observer of the natural universe while refusing to allow itself to cling to any one world view or another. And for what it's worth, I don't think modern evolution science was the first to have this problem. I think it is a human problem in general, and so it has been a problem for science throughout history- with one group defending one world view and later (or in other circles) another group defending another world view- and science (and everyone else IMO) has suffered for it.
0 Replies
 
Poseidon
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 05:35 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
Science evolved out of religion.
Religion evolved from philosophy.

For science to refute religion,
would be like the branches of a tree
cutting itself off from its roots.

For religion to refute philosophical debate
would be like the branches of a tree
cutting itself off from its roots.
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 06:44 pm
@Poseidon,
I am surprised that the argument quoted in the first post has not been challenged. It goes thusly:
"Mystical theology and science share a common understanding in regard to the limitations and hindrance of language in unlocking reality. Both would agree that language falsifies reality. It falsifies it by imposing limits to the real. It falsifies it by imposing human categories and classifications to the real. For both realities is beyond words and human concepts. Reality transcends language. Language in fact hinders a true understanding of the real."

First, while mysticism might make such a claim about language, it is far from certain that science would do so. To say that "both would agree that language falsifies reality" is an unproven statement, if not absolutely false.

The argument, furthermore, that language imposes human categories, etc., upon the real does not take into consideration the possibility that language reflects "reality" and that it has its origins in it. Language didn't suddenly appear and decide willy-nilly about terms and definitions to be imposed on "stuff." It has in fact, changed and adapted to new situations and conditions, which it would not if it were not "shaped" by reality.

Third, the argument presupposes the existence of a "reality" somehow different or above or outside our conception of it: there is our reality and then there is a "really real" reality which is secret and available only to mystical visions.

I read, "Chicago is beside Lake Michigan." Now, pray tell me, how does this falsify reality?
urangutan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 08:09 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
I do not deny any being the accolade that comes with the reality of infinity. The only thing one denies the self, is the portrayal of one's own imagination breaking that barrier. How can language be considered a hinderence to this path, when all but a single alphabet is a word in itself, hence it is a reality unto itself. Don't let your self, be conditioned by projection when it cleary steps beyond that wall.
urangutan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 08:23 pm
@urangutan,
The reality of your statement is Jgweed, Chicago sits on Lake Michigan which does include over, when you consider piers and in when you include drainage outlets. So the word "beside", has no bearing on the reality of your statement.
 

Related Topics

How can we be sure? - Discussion by Raishu-tensho
Proof of nonexistence of free will - Discussion by litewave
morals and ethics, how are they different? - Question by existential potential
Destroy My Belief System, Please! - Discussion by Thomas
Star Wars in Philosophy. - Discussion by Logicus
Existence of Everything. - Discussion by Logicus
Is it better to be feared or loved? - Discussion by Black King
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Science proves apophatic theology
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.05 seconds on 11/29/2022 at 02:13:23