How Smart is God? by Lee Horstman

If you were as smart as God, what would you do?

I have long been fond of this mental exercise or gedanken (thought) experiment.

Well, first of all, I would not want my enemies to know how smart I am.

This obvious corollary – it seems obvious to me – explains so much. It explains, for starters, why they who in ignorance construct elaborate theories about why God does not exist seem to carry the day. They do indeed seem to carry the day. In all these thousands of years since Socrates and before, thinkers as noble as Spinoza, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine, Immanuel Kant – many of them mystics of evidently singular depth – have sought for a penetrating rational demonstration that God irrefutably exists; whilst, a sort of loyal opposition featuring thinkers such as Bertrand Russell, have similarly sought to demonstrate that, no, God is but a pitiful fiction: a refuge for the weak-minded; a delusion; ‘the opiate of the masses;’ an anthropomorphic conceit. And so on. It seems to be so clear-cut a standoff, does it not? I say it’s a precisely balanced standoff. And moreover a very deliberate one. Thus is freedom vouchsafed. Freedom after all is paramount. Without freedom where is love? Freedom is the necessary oxygen for love. Thus we behold a cosmos well furnished with all manner of freedoms: freedoms great and small; all of them orbiting merrily within a sort of lawful superstructure that implies, every so slyly, that we inhabit something grander than just random cosmic soup. We inhabit in point of fact ‘the mind of God;’ withal, a mind subtle indeed. I will say it this way: a mind of boundless precision and intelligence; every inch the match for a nature possessed as well of boundless compassion, forbearance, love. While the antithesis of either, or both, might bloom for a day here or there, all such counterpoint but reinforces the cosmical leitmotif of wisdom most artfully veiled; love most adroitly shown. And vice versa.

So while it is in fact structurally impossible to ever construct an airtight rational ‘proof’ of God’s even mere existence, let alone whether God might be smart or not, by the very same token it is structurally impossible to ever construct an airtight rational proof of God’s nonexistence. Is this a fluke? Not. It accomplishes two things. First. It represents an ambuscade behind which God is permanently hidden: never, by mere rationality alone can God ever be accessed. Suggestions for and against can endlessly be mounted. Such playful efforts in each direction last forever. Each effort is as endless as the number “pi.” (Thanks to recent computer power this number has been taken out, now, to several hundred decimal places; yep, still no end in sight).

In sum it takes a supra-rational (not irrational) struggle, to arrive to…intelligent infinity.

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[1] Briefly, I affirm cafeteria-style religionism: a little of this, a little of that, and mix to your – the seeker’s – taste. That this is a virtue and not a vice. My own plate seeks to reflect the virtue of the Trimarga (three paths) Yoga (Bhakti- / Karma- / Jnana-yoga), as recommended by Aurobindo among others. The Bhagavad Gita; The Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object and Without a Subject; and, The Law of One books:

These three highly disparate tomes have by far the largest impact upon my seeking for – and to notable degree finding – the Presence of God. ‘Be results oriented; not technique oriented.’ With this in mind I continue, always, to canvas for the teachings of seekers whose wisdom / love // love / wisdom, might impart yet further clarity upon ‘godnature.’

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2 thoughts on “How Smart is God? by Lee Horstman

  1. sorry, one clarification – I stated early in the comment that we don’t accept the idea that science must be agnostic. We believe an intuitive or “gnostic” science can be developed. But in the opening chapters of the book, we “bracketed” our own position, adopted the current methodological/epistemological limitations of science, and concluded that – from within that limited viewpoint – science has nothing fundamental to contribute regarding the origin of consciousness or matter, or the question about whether or not intelligence is active as a guiding factor in evolution. We (Jan, my wife and co-author) both fervently hope that these limitations are recognized. We think that as these limitations are more and more widely acknowledged, the profound limiltations that physicalist views place on science will become so obvious that a growing number of people will be willing to consider the possibility of alternate – even superior! – ways of “knowing” such as intuition, knowledge by identity, gnosis or interoception.

  2. Wonderful thought experiment. In the opening section of our book on yoga psychology, we took the stance the science – as currently conceived, cannot make ultimate statements about the nature of the universe – it cannot take one step toward even addressing the question, “which is ultimate, consciousness or matter”. Personally, we don’t take this agnostic stance – we accept Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s idea that there is a “third” way of knowing – what he calls “interoception” and Sri Aurobindo calls intuitive knowledge, “knowledge by identity” (or, “gnosis” for short). In fact, we propose in the appendix to our book that the next step in science is to develop a “gnostic” methodology, and give a few small hints as to how that might come about.

    But science today considers “intuition” to be nothing more than a rapid process of subconscious reasoning. For example, Arthur Reber’s Dictionary of Psychology defines intuition as “any knowledge or understanding which is largely based on unconscious factors related to one’s feelings, values, background of experience, subliminal perceptions, etc. which operate outside the conscious, rational or analytical processes.”

    But before intuition, or “knowledge by identity”, or interoception or gnosis can be used as a legitimate tool for scientific research, we need to understand in great detail (in fact, in minute detail) the limitations of current scientific methodology.

    In a section of our book on evolution, we suggested that given the current limitations of scientific methodology and epistemology, both sides – Chopra, Goswami, Sheldrake, and others arguing for evidence of intelligence in evolution, and Dennett, Dawkins, and others who say it’s a mindless process – are being equally unscientific. Science as currently conceived has nothing to say about the matter.

    Coming back to your thought experiment, it is rather stunning that leading scientists and philosophers fail to understand the limitations of science. So you have incoherent, irrational nonsense written by scientists like S. J. Gould “explaining” why the poor “design” of certain organisms is “proof” (!) of the lack of any intelligent factor in evolution

    As we put it in the book [Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness: Seeing Through the Eyes of Infinity”]:

    Observing correctly that current research methods provide no direct empirical evidence of intelligence as an agent in evolutionary change, [some scientists] conclude that science has therefore proven that natural selection in combination with mutations is a wholly non-intelligent, non-conscious process. For example, both philosopher Daniel Dennett and biologist Richard Dawkins argue quite vehemently against the idea of intelligent design, and for the idea that evolution is a process entirely without purpose. Claiming to base his argument on the evidence provided by physics and biology, Dennett concludes that evolution is a designerless process: “It is the wonderful wedding of chance and necessity, happening in a trillion places at once, at a trillion different levels. And what miracle caused it? None. It just happened to happen, in the fullness of time. You could even say, in a way, that the Tree of Life created itself. Not in a miraculous, instantaneous whoosh, but slowly, slowly, over billions of years.”
    Just as Dembski, Hall and Ben-Jacob cannot provide direct empirical evidence of the working of consciousness in evolution, neither can Dawkins and Dennett provide direct evidence to the contrary. Realizing this, some contemporary biologists wedded to the idea of physicalism resort more directly to philosophic arguments. In Darwin’s time, arguing for the existence of God based on the complexity of the world was known as “natural theology.” Contemporary biologists, by contrast, sometimes engage in what physicist Richard Thompson has called “negative theology,” arguing that the allegedly problematic design of many creatures constitutes evidence against the existence of God. Paleontologist Steven J. Gould presents such an argument, saying, “Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution – paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce.” Gould and others who offer similar arguments rarely acknowledge that their concept of a sensible “God” may not bear much if any resemblance to that of sophisticated theologians. In any case, as with the others mentioned, Gould does not offer evidence of the absence of intelligence in the process of evolution – and of course, it is not possible to do so.
    Both arguments – for or against the involvement of conscious intelligence in the process of evolution – rely on assumptions about chance that cannot be proven by current scientific methodology. Does consciousness create and maintain the laws or patterns of nature? Is it responsible in any way for the mutations that take place in evolution? Or did the laws of nature just happen to have happened “in the fullness of time” as the result of purely material causes, as Dennett suggests? And is Dawkins right that evolution is also a wholly mindless, purposeless physical process? Since current scientific methods cannot detect the presence or absence of consciousness, it seems that the appropriate stance for scientists to take – at this point in time – is one of consistent, rigorous agnosticism.

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