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Pantheism presentation


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Given the scientific possibility of Boltzmann Brains, and the theory from philosophy of mind known as Functionalism, it is quite possible to construct a model of pantheism which is not as implausible as restricted theism or traditional models of pantheism. The aim of this article is to explain how this might work, but also to say why, in the end, it will not do the same job as restricted theism, even if it turned out to be true. The article does not aim to defend its premises, such as pantheism or functionalism, in more than a cursory way; the conclusions of the article are tentative and conditional: if functionalism is true, then physicalist pantheism may be true.

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Pantheism presentation

  2. 2. ABSTRACT Given the scientific possibility of Boltzmann Brains, and the theory from philosophy of mind known as Functionalism, it is quite possible to construct a model of pantheism which is not as implausible as traditional restricted theism or traditional models of pantheism.The aim of this paper is to explain how this might work, and give some arguments about why it might work, but why in the end it will not do the same job as restricted theism, even if it turned out to be true.
  3. 3. INTERLUDE ONTHEISM • Theism: omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, omnibenevolence, perfect. Restricted vs expanded theism. Expanded:Trinity, prophets, angels, creator, etc. • Polytheism: many deities. Some interpretations (e.g. Sivananda,Theosophical Society) suggest incarnations or avatars of one deity (Brahma). (Swinburne, 2004, pp145-7 for reasons to reject it) • Pantheism: God is everywhere.The Force. Spinoza.
  4. 4. SPINOZA God is one, that is, only one substance can be granted in the universe. (Ethics, I.14) Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, 
 or be conceived. (I.15) God is the indwelling and not the transient cause of all things.All things which are, are in God. Besides God there can be no substance, that is, nothing in itself external to God. (I.17) Although each particular thing be conditioned 
 by another particular thing to exist in a given way, 
 yet the force whereby each particular thing perseveres in existing follows from the eternal necessity of God's nature. (ii.45)
  5. 5. ARGUMENTS • Pantheism seems to follow from omnipresence and omniscience (e.g. Oakes, 2006) — if God is everywhere and if everything is in his mind/reality is his mind, is God not everything? Also seems to follow from creatio continuans — if God is constantly creating, is he not continuous with creation, since it’s not independent of him? Identity of origin and end goal (apotheosis). Compare Berkeley. • Compare Apeiron or Tao. Compatible with Anselm. (SEP) • Reverence for nature (e.g. Einstein). In understanding nature we understand God. Nature’s parts are God’s parts. (Spinoza) • Evil can be explained away as illusory or just part of the operations of the universe rather than antithetical to God.
  6. 6. PROBLEMS • We’re just renaming the universe to preserve God by fiat. (Schopenhauer 1851, I:114, II:99). • Strict identity, partial identity? Immanence vs transcendence, Formal vs Material pantheism, coextensive. Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts, Etc. • “It may be asked whether a statement of the world's unity is a precondition for asserting its identity with God, or a consequence of asserting it?” (SEP: Pantheism). • Do pantheists hold that physicalism, idealism, or both, are true? • What then is the line between supernatural/natural?
  7. 7. PROBLEMS • Personal vs impersonal. Impersonal is more attractive to scientists. But the possible mind-like nature of the cosmos is a good reason to think that nature is more than just nature. (SEP).We’ll see more later. • Panpsychism — implied?Tenable? Certainly required for nature to have moral value (E.g. rocks have value or psyche qua part of God). See Satish Kumar video. • How to improve the argument for pantheism?
  8. 8. FUNCTIONALISM • Lewis, D. (1980). Mad Pain and Martian Pain. Imagine a martian with a hydraulic nervous system. Does he feel pain? He acts as if he does. • Philosophy of mind: functionalism: if it’s structured so as to function like a brain, it will be conscious. • AI,TuringTest. If something seems intelligent, is it? • Nation of China thought experiment.
  9. 9. FUNCTIONALISM • Criticisms: • Behaviour does not guarantee intelligence; it’s possible to fool aTuring test.What do we mean by “functional equivalence” if we don’t mean consciousness? First-person problem. • Perhaps specific hardware (wetware) is required for a mind? We don’t see strong evidence of minds emerging in many complex things, e.g. plants, existing computers, jerseys.
  10. 10. FUNCTIONALISM • But suppose that functionally speaking, if we made a suitably complex entity, with other features of brains, such as information flow, responsiveness to stimuli, ability to learn — such as we see in Neural Networks — is it not bigoted to say it’s not a mind? • Does a mind require consciousness, and what does consciousness require? Is it perhaps an epiphenomenon of complexity? Could a mind or intelligence not be conscious? Are you no longer a mind when asleep?
  11. 11. • Google’s AI nightmares/dreams. Neural network code in Google’s image recognition algorithms finds things where they do not exist.
  12. 12. BOLTZMANN BRAINS “Nevertheless, interesting things will occasionally pop out of the vacuum as quantum fluctuations, at a nonzero rate per unit spacetime volume.An intelligent observer, like a human, could be one such thing. Or, short of a complete observer, a disembodied brain may fluctuate into existence, with a pattern of neuron firings creating a perception of being on Earth and observing the CMB radiation. Of course, the nucleation rate ΓF of such freak observers (also known as Boltzmann brains [2, 3, 4]) is extremely small [5, 6, 7]. But the important point is that it is nonzero.” (Vilenkin, 2006).
  13. 13. BOLTZMANN BRAINS “Regular observers are formed as a result of non-equilibrium processes which started at the big bang and will eventually end when the universe thermalizes […] The total number of such observers that will exist in a fixed comoving volume is finite. On the other hand, the cumulative number of freak observers grows unboundedly with time. (In fact, it grows exponentially, since the corresponding physical volume grows as exp(3Ht).) Then the question is: Why are we not freak observers? (Assuming that we believe we are not.).” (Vilenkin, 2006).
  14. 14. BOLTZMANN BRAINS “Boltzmann brains” are human brains that arise as thermal or quantum fluctuations and last at least long enough to think a few thoughts. In many scenarios involving universes of infinite size or duration, Boltzmann brains are infinitely more common than human beings who arise in the ordinary way. Thus we should expect to be Boltzmann brains, in contradiction to observation. (Matthew Davenport and Ken D. Olum, 2010).
  15. 15. BOLTZMANN BRAINS • Anthropic principle*; this is a special case thereof. • The details beyond this do not matter for this presentation. • The point is, cosmologists recognise it as possible. • How about this…?
  16. 16. WHAT ISTHIS?
  17. 17. DARK MATTER MODEL • Hypothesised to account for observed expansion rate of the universe; more matter than is visible is needed. Intergalactic filaments.
  18. 18. NEURONS
  19. 19. CONCLUSIONTHUS FAR • Pantheism, specifically scientific pantheism, is a live possibility • It has scientific support beyond arguments towards equivalence seen in Spinoza; viz. Functionalism, Boltzmann Brains, Dark Matter.
  20. 20. CRITICISMS 1. Does scientific pantheism do the work that theism does, namely, provide a superior being, who created the universe, and who is interested in, and intervenes in, our actions, and who is worthy of worship? 2. Which is more plausible, theism or pantheism? 3. Does pantheism explain anything? Occam.
  21. 21. CRITICISMS 1. Does this do the work that theism does, namely, provide a superior being, who created the universe, and who is interested in, and intervenes in, our actions, and is worthy of worship?
  22. 22. THEISM VS PANTHEISM • Yes: it provides a superior being, who ipso facto is the universe (if true, universe is eternal in some sense, which may be an empirically falsifiable claim), however, it doesn’t do the work of a personal God. Unless qua large mind, we take it that it is inherently personal.* It does offer some sort of immortality; think of Sagan’s “star dust”.And similarly it could allow petitioning (prayer) if it were conscious/personal.
  23. 23. THEISM VS PANTHEISM But, Spinoza disagrees… God is without passions, neither is he affected by any emotion of pleasure or pain . . . Strictly speaking, God does not love anyone. (Ethics,V.17) He who loves God cannot endeavour that God should love him in return. (V.19) Not that this proves anything either way.
  24. 24. CRITICISMS 2. Which is more plausible, theism or pantheism? • Reply: Pantheism. Reasons: • a. Bayes • b. Evidence.
  25. 25. CRITICISMS a. Bayes.Where π is Pantheism andT is theism, and E is the evidence of our universe P(T|E) = P(T)P(E|T) / P(E) P(T|E) = (0.5)(0.9) / P(0.6) = 0.75 — indifferent toT, but we think that E raises probability of T slightly. Let’s explain the number choices* …
  26. 26. CRITICISMS a. Theism/Bayes: some subjective numbers P(T) = 0.5 = indifferent toT a priori; P(E|T) = 0.9 =T explains E (theism’s cosmological argument) P(E) = 0.6 = universe reasonably plausible
  27. 27. CRITICISMS a. Bayes continued… P(π|E) = P(π)P(E|π) / P(E) P(T|E) = (0.9)(0.9) / P(0.9) = 0.9 — π and E have the same prior probability because π more or less means E. Therefore P(π|E) > P(T|E) because 0.9 > 0.75
  28. 28. CRITICISMS a. Pantheism/Bayes: some subjective numbers P(π) = 0.9 = π is more a priori probable since π isT without implausible commitments (perfect morality, omnibenevolence, human-like personality) P(E|π) = π is roughly the same as E here, so if P(π) is 0.9, P(E) must be 0.9, and P(E|π) is also probably 0.9, i.e. E is not really evidence either way for π since E is π
  29. 29. CRITICISMS b. Evidence. Since we have strong support for the possibility of Boltzmann Brains, and AI is more or less demonstrated (but we’re just not sure if it’s conscious), and, since functionalism is likely true if AI is,* it follows that the evidence quite strongly supports the possibility of non-human non- wetware large-scale intelligences…
  30. 30. CRITICISMS • Whereas there is no empirical support for an extra- temporal interventionist consciousness, and plenty of philosophical problems such as coherence, hiddenness, evil, MUT, etc., associated with theism (or to a lesser extent panentheism)… • And since expanded theism is less probable than restricted theism (too specific and too many extra claims — Occam)… • It follows that pantheism is more plausible than theism.
  31. 31. CRITICISMS 3. Does pantheism explain anything? • No.And this is the chief problem with any theism. It does not do any indispensable explanatory work. • Therefore, although pantheism is more plausible than theism, it fails to do any indispensable explanatory work, and as such, is merely speculative, even if true. • If pantheism and the universe are more or less the same thing, pantheism amounts to the brute fact that the universe exists; i.e. doesn’t explain the universe quite in the same way as the cosmological argument.
  32. 32. CRITICISMS 4. What about panentheism? • God is supervenient/extratemporal/extramundane but coextensive with the world, and the world is in God? Or, the world and God overlap but they’re qualitatively different? • Preserves the world/God distinction a la traditional theism but adds extra ontological type(s) to existence (adds “spirit”). • This is a scientific argument to render pantheism plausible on a materialist paradigm, so this strategy is contrary to the spirit of the argument.
  33. 33. CRITICISMS 4. What about panentheism? … • Again, the question is: can we make a case for a plausible model of God via pantheism without appeal to anything unscientific? Or, does science give us reason to believe in pantheism? Answer: yes. Panentheism detracts from this agenda. (Even if it might be true). • Secondly, we’ve argued that even if pan(en)theism is true, it’s not useful as a scientific hypothesis.