- ... Lightman1.1
- (Lightman 2011)
- Most often divine attributes will not be capitalized, except (as here) sometimes
for emphasis, or for marking some important distinctions.
- This is already explicit in the foundation of physics and in psychological
modeling. Basic physics, for example, considers strings or spin foams or deformed
space as alternative possible ontologies. Psychology can consider symbols or
functions or network connections in alternative possible ontologies. There is
no principle of science that forever forbids such ontological pluralisms.
- ... theism1.4
- Some religious believers are reluctant to expose the foundations of theism
to possible scientific investigations for fear that theism may be refuted. In
reply, I would quote Socrates on the ‘unexamined life’ and furthermore note
that many refutations are even now being attempted, for example by (Stenger 2008)
or (Coyne 2009). Ignorance hardly
makes a good defense. Also, if I am wrong (whether in science or in religion),
I want to know about it since I do not believe religious belief is only for
- This is to be contrasted with a ‘positive bias’, whereby anything proposed
is provisionally accepted to see whether it is true. Those with a negative bias
provisionally reject something new, even before considering whether it is true.
- One consequence of adopting a pragmatic methodological naturalism, however,
is what we already see: there are animated debates about what kind of evidence
should be allowed in science, and what methods should be used to investigate
the fringes of science such as parapsychology, near-death experiences, etc.
Many scientists may, if pressed, admit that, if the same standard of evidence
were to concern natural processes, then the already-existing evidence would
be sufficient to prove the case. But still there is opposition.
- All capitalized here to emphasize their leading roles in Thomist metaphysics
- If God had potentiality, Aquinas argued, then he could change and therefore
would not be immutable. Or he could improve, in which case he would not previously
have been perfect. And God certainly cannot change for the worse.
- It is probable, in retrospect, that in a metaphysics where ‘thought’ and
‘extension’ are the only two essential principles no bridge between them can
be found apart from a simple declaration (unexplained) that such a connection
- ... derision.2.4
- As, for example, (Paley) discusses: “There
is, of course, a small paradox in all of this. If the hostility to Descartes
has been so widespread for so long, in what sense has he been influential? How
can it be said that Cartesianism permeates the modern world if virtually no
one has had a good word to say about it? To take one obvious example, mind/body
dualism never caught on, and for three centuries it has been dismissed by the
vast majority of philosophers who have considered it. So why is it routinely
assumed to be the ‘traditional’ view? Is it possible that Descartes could somehow
have influenced ‘the common man’ (a familiar figure, once upon a time, in analytic
philosophy), even though ‘intellectuals’ were queuing up to refute him? Did
the idea that there were two forms of substance, one material and the other
immaterial, somehow seep into western culture, like a disease poisoning the
water supply, while philosophers, physicists and biologists were all looking
the other way? How exactly is that supposed to have happened?"
- See (Snobelen 1999).
- ... anonymous2.6
- Kant cannot have expected complete anonymity, since, for example, he lists
the names of his friends whose queries prompted him to write the book.
- By ‘true appearance’, I mean not a ‘mere appearance’ which has no effect,
but something which has real effects, at least in our minds and bodies.
- “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good”, Matt. 5:45
- As argued in (Thompson 1993).
- Note that the word substance has two useful meanings here. The first,
as Aristotle’s ousia, refers to specific objects, as in ‘this substance’
and ‘that substance’. The second, as in hyle, refers to the underlying
stuff, as in the underlying substance of which objects are formed. In this chapter,
the word ‘substance’ will usually have this second meaning. I also avoid using
the term ‘matter’ since it has too many unwanted connotations and is difficult
to generalize beyond the physical.
- As an example of non-spatial structures, we could take the ‘internal spins’
of elementary particles or their internal group identity. These in general have
no uniform projection onto physical space, if only for not having the correct
number of coordinates to map onto three dimensions.
- This exclusion of ‘causality’ from within ‘form’ implies a different approach
to that of Aquinas, as will be discussed in Section
- Dispositional essentialism does not assert that all dispositions
of an object are held essentially, since that, for example, would not
allow water to lose its liquidity when it froze or evaporated. Rather, every
object has some dispositions which are essential to that object.
- ... spatial4.5
- Spatial relations are assumed here, since (after Kant) they appear to be
the prerequisites for any possibility of interaction.
- ... world.4.6
- I would doubt that vases are eternal. I not believe that electrons or nuclei
are necessarily eternal either.
- (Psillos 2006) also makes this mistake, when
he argues that “fundamental properties [..] flow from some fundamental symmetries,"
for symmetries, as purely mathematical structures, can never physically ‘flow’,
and can never produce physical objects. Rather, in our Aristotelian framework,
they describe the properties of objects and, here, relations between those properties.
It cannot be that “elementary particles are the irreducible representations
(irreps) of a group," again because groups (or even their representations) have
no causal powers.
- Neither can exist by itself. No dispositions can exist except in a form,
and no forms can exist except as forms of dispositions.
- (Ellis 2010) has recently written in support of
this view of forms as being both categorical and necessary for the operation
- ... influences.4.10
- A hammer and a vase must have powers to interact with each other if fragility
is to be manifested this way.
- ... Heisenberg,4.11
- W. Heisenberg, ‘Planck’s discovery and the philosophical problems of atomic
physics’, pp. 3-20 in Heisenberg (1961).
- ... subject.4.12
- Heisenberg, for example, brings into his thought on quantum physics the
Kantian phenomena/noumena distinction as well as some of Bohr’s ideas on ‘complementarity’
in experimental arrangements.
- ... 195)4.13
- Note that he here uses Ryle 1949’s account of
dispositions as ‘inference tickets.’
- We are talking still of ordinary quantum mechanics, not yet of quantum field
theory (for which, see Chapter 24). By ‘field’ here, I
simply mean a realistic interpretation of the wave function that is the solution
of Schrödinger’s equation: it is extended in space as a field and carries energy
- ... substance.4.15
- This was Boscovich’s conception, and it slowly percolated into physics,
resulting in the ‘dynamic matter’ of the mid-nineteenth century. This view was
popularly summarized by the aphorism “No matter without force, no force without
- (Feser 2009) takes this dispositional indication
of a future effects to be an Aristotelean ‘final cause’.
- (Riva 2011) has reviewed these and similar ideas
from several psychological theorists.
- How many times have we seen people, seeming to themselves to be rational,
being driven by desires which they hardly acknowledge existing?
- Not everyone may be willing to make such assumptions. The a-theist, for
example, assumes that God does not exist. He or she is free to do that,
to make that hypothesis, to see what further ideas follow, and to see what explanations
may be produced. In our investigation, however, we begin with the theistic postulates
above. May the best explanation win.
- Those religions often make further additional assumptions that are not shared
by all. Sometimes I may append brief mentions of the content of those additional
ideas, but I do not have the space in this book to explore all their separate
- There are many philosophical issues that I do not deal with here, such as
those about the nature of universals, the nature of truth-makers in the world,
and all questions of epistemology and justification. These questions have to
be reconsidered in the light of theism. This book is just a beginning.
- ... meaning7.4
- Aristotle, Physics 19213-15
- Aristotle, Physics 19230-31
- It is indeed common to view the world as an artificial tool or instrument
of God, like a musical instrument which God plays to make music (us). I do not
take this view, however, since I do not believe that anything artificial can
love and return love reciprocally.
- ... philosophers7.7
- Most recently (Brown 2010).
- Such things could be called ‘supernatural’, but that word comes with so
many associations that I will try to avoid using it.
- Exodus 3:14
- John 8:58
- It is often observed that a-theists still adhere to Postulate
3, and effectively declare to be divine whatever it
is that they think exists unconditionally or with being in itself. They find
a new Absolute Principle to order their world, and this often functions as a
new ‘divinity’ that takes the intellectual place of God by virtue of its unconditional
- ... you"8.4
- Luke 17:21
- The “I am Brahman" of Sankara (Sankaracharya).
- ... matters.9.1
- You may think they are obvious and that everyone knows these things, but
in my experience intellectuals frequently make mistakes on such simple points.
So this book begins at the very beginning.
- ... actions.9.2
- To find out what that is for ourselves, imagine that we are completely free
to do whatever we like with no repercussions or oversight by others: what would
our imagination show us then? We would see where the underlying loves lead us
if they were unconstrained. See Section 11.3
for further discussion.
- Note that the qualifications ‘as much and as long as possible’ mean that
considerable wisdom is needed to know how to love like God does. Ideally,
we should take an eternal perspective, whereby we can anticipate possible future
effects even when making decisions now.
- Even more of us call it good for others to be unselfish, but that
is not quite the same thing.
- To what exact extent such people have seen God, who in himself is infinite,
remains to be determined. Religions with an incarnate deity do make it easier
to see God, as then such differences are moderated.
- ... likeness.’10.1
- Genesis 1:26
- Note that I am not asserting that Genesis chapters 1-11 are literally true,
only that they portray true theistic principles if the meanings of those chapters
can be properly understood.
- We will later find a non-reductive account of humanity in which all of these
things can exist simultaneously, in their own manner, without any being reduced
- We should also note that the ‘image and likeness’ comes at the end
of a creation story, and hence that such similarities are more like the culmination
than the starting point of our religious and spiritual life. It may therefore
be that the creation story describes, by images and likenesses, the stages of
spiritual regeneration in religious life, rather than of stars, planets, plants
- To be discussed in Section 15.4.
- Similar conclusions are indicated by Matt. 5:45: “He causes his sun to rise
on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.
- ... God.10.7
- There is here a similarity also to the principle of ‘As above, so below’,
that is advocated in certain non-theistic groups. It could be true in pantheism,
since then ‘the above’ = ‘the below’, as all is divine. It is still proclaimed
in nondualism, but there it can not actually be true, since ‘the above’ is the
infinite eternal godhead, and ‘the below’ is illusory and transient appearances,
and no things more different could be imagined.
- Notably in 1 John 4:16
- ... beings.11.2
- You may perhaps feel qualms at using the same logic for all cases including
that of God, but this is justified when we follow from the previous chapter
that we are an image of God and hence have some functional and structural similarities.
More of this later.
- We are not deducing this a priori but assembling it from what God
has been telling us over the centuries. The processes of intellection will be
discussed in more detail in Chapter 14.
- I call them non-destructive (an engineering term) because no human or living
being need be harmed in the investigations. They could be called ‘thought experiments’
but not in the common meaning, because they are experiments we carry out in
the thoughts of our own minds.
- This is claimed by Christianity in John 5:26: “For
as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in
- Qu’ran 50:16.
- Kant also has an ‘as if’ in his philosophy (als ob), but its role
is different. According to Kant, we may not be sure there is a God, but we should
behave ‘as if’ there is. For this reason, he says, we should follow universal
moral laws. With theism, however, we know (or assume) that there is an objective
God, but we should behave ‘as if’ there is not. For this reason, we appear to
have our life as from ourselves and do not simply wait in silence to God to
act for us.
- ... drinking.12.4
- Or even, ‘buy without money and without cost.’ (Isaiah 55:1)
- Perhaps some love in us is fixed and could be the basis for defining our
identity? This will be discussed in later chapters; here we just note that,
if there are some fixed loves, then those loves must have been received only
once in our lifetime and then never changed.
- This emphasis on the individuating nature of our own actions is reminiscent
of Existentialism. Sartre (2007) says that we are
the ‘ensemble of our acts.” He says also we are “nothing more than this”, but
I do not agree.
- We will examine later the method of this ‘embedding’ and ‘deriving’.
- ... called12.8
- Thompson (1993)
- ... Others13.1
- For example, Day (2008).
- Doubt in us is still advisable, of course, about our own comprehension of
- We name such a beam ‘white light’, though it is not actually white. It just
enables us to see things which are white, because it is not missing anything
in the spectrum or showing any bias.
- If they were not so distinguishable, there would not be any point of having
- This is not a deduction, but it fits in with everything that has been stated
so far concerning core theism. What is certain, is that God has (or, is) both
Love and Wisdom united together within himself. This, moreover, does not imply
that this Love equals Wisdom, as we have above explained the distinct
manners in which God is Love and in which God is Wisdom, united without confusion.
- There are extensive Greek traditions, adopted also by Christianity, that
say wisdom is the Logos within God. According to John 1:1-3, the Logos was with
God at the beginning, and through him all things came to be, and no single thing
was created without him.
- Luke 1:37: “For God nothing will be impossible”.
- Cf John 15:5.
- This is the old requirement about wanting to change.
- See Chapter 29 for further discussion.
- ... causation15.5
- See Section 5.5.1 for the philosophical
definition of principal and instrumental causation.
- ... nature.15.6
- This argument leads the Thomists to assert that God consists of Pure Act,
as excluding all potentiality. Whatever that may mean, however, it should never
exclude that God can be constituted in his eternity by Love. More precisely,
by Love itself, which is almost in the category of pure potentiality!
- ... exist.16.1
- This has been called ‘weak omniscience’.
- ... happen.16.2
- This has been called ‘strong omniscience’.
- ... come.16.3
- Revelation 1:8.
- To allow such direct changes in the past and future is to open all the paradoxes
associated with time travel. In a theistic universe, time travel remains a science
fiction rather than a science fact. It also implies that, if Einstein’s general
relativity is correct, there are no closed time-like curves as
Godel (1949) hypothesized.
- ... world.16.5
- These features of God are not emphasized in classical theism which states
that God is immutable or changeless and is impassible: He cannot
be affected by anything in the created order. However, classical theorists still
conceive that God can make free Actions in time, even though their cause is
eternal and immutable.
- ... telling.16.6
- In religious histories, it is well known that much prophecy has precisely
this structure. On its face it is a prediction of our future, but in reality
it is often a means that may enable us to escape that future.
- ... changes!16.7
- The question of whether God’s Wisdom can eternally and immutably foresee
all his interactions with the world and its consequent changes, is left as an
exercise for the reader. Related questions are: can God tell our future to us,
such that the prophecy remains true? Would that prophecy be only accidentally
true, or can it be necessarily true? And can (or should) God tell our future
to us, such that the prophecy becomes true when it was false beforehand?
- We will see in later chapters some of the other components of that freedom.
- This small dependence in physical spaces is gravitation, according to general
- The fact that God sustains all beings by such ‘influx’ can be the meaning
of Matthew 5:45: “He ... sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Alternative
imagery in the same verse refers to light rather than liquid flow: “He causes
his sun to rise on the evil and the good."
- This is the view of Aquinas, who also starts from an
Aristotelean natural point of view in trying to understand theism. However,
he takes God as the limit of ‘pure act’ and ‘pure form’. This unfortunately
deprives his theology of taking loves as the substance of minds, spirits and
God, but (strangely) insists that these are purely form and also purely act.
- What is surprising to me is how much longer is needed (over 1010
- Plato, Phaedrus. According to Plato, our soul is the source of
all our motion. However, within theism a soul is not actually self-moving,
since only God is strictly self-moving. Only God is life itself.
- This is a combination of Aristotelean perception (the mind accepting the
forms of objects) and a representational view (the mind containing ideas or
percepts which represent external objects). Here the representation occurs between
ideas and objects which have some forms in common. The object has that form
for its own substance, and the mind has that form to make up an idea.
- The logical possibility of something does not mean that we should not neutrally
(and perhaps skeptically) examine the evidence for an alleged occurrence.
- I suspect that most of the miracles of the New Testament in Christianity,
for example, are representations by correspondences of the processes of spiritual
regeneration appearing much more quickly than we would ever expect in normal
- ... follow.21.1
- As was pointed out in Chapter 17, the identification
of spiritual, mental and physical degrees should, strictly speaking, be part
of the theistic science here and not part of the previous deductive theism.
- If you want an image of this mental body, you could think of cells in the
biological body or neurons in the brain. These are contained by an overall membrane
to make a more lasting structure. Another possible image is that of the multiple
alveoli, the small air sacs within the lungs. In this case, the various ideas
could be imaged as the different air masses and the different sounds as we speak.
- This activation level is a kind of ‘energy’. In Chapter
24, however, we will see that this is not physical energy
but only something similar to physical energy. It is therefore better to keep
the idea of loves as the underlying substances.
- For an early discussion of a possible multilevel network structure, see
- As advocated, for example, in Feldman (2004).
- This is a repetition of the reasoning which also led up to formulating all
the degrees as shown in Table 19.3.
- ... mountains23.1
- Matthew 17:20--“Because you have so little faith I tell you the truth. if
you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move
from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
- I am referring here to the normal scientific view that all the properties
of an aggregate are determined by its structure of parts and their individual
properties and dispositional natures. This touches on all the current philosophical
discussions concerning reductionism, supervenience and emergence.
- ... degrees’.23.3
- Even on the cover of this book!
- Matthew 15:11 and 18: “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean’,
but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’ ...But the
things that come out of the mouth come from the heart."
- For these reasons, spiritual development often requires the manifestation
of unpleasant or selfish loves, as only then are they seen. In an extremely
strict social or religious regime, some of our spiritual loves may never have
had the opportunity to manifest themselves and may hence never become known
even to ourselves.
- ... bodies23.6
- Such a view is common in Christianity: “There is a natural body, and there
is a spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15.44).
- As first argued in Section 20.6.
- We will learn more about that prediction when we get to its its sub-sub-degrees
later in the chapter.
- There are only, we will see, something like ‘shadows’ or ‘correspondences’
or ‘remnants’ of those psychological meanings.
- There is of course also selection working in the other direction: the effects
of changing principles in sub-degree 3.1 will be selected by what happens in
the quasi-deterministic sub-degree 3.2.
- We may think of this informally: when there are gaps in time between events,
we may infer that there is necessarily wriggle-room between events.
- Strictly speaking, investigating the ‘internal group structure’ of a sub-sub-degree
would require considering the sub-sub-sub-degrees within it.
- The quantum theory of ‘decoherent histories’ shows that almost-decoherent
histories are easily generated according to quantum mechanics. Theism and common
sense both only ask that histories become in fact decoherent, not just approximately.
- For more discussion, see (Peacock 2009)
and (Gisin 2010).
- As argued by (Rietdijk 1966) and
- As (Gisin 2010) remarks, “quantum events must
enjoy some sort of “freedom”, and so “are not merely the realization of usual
probability distributions, but must be thought of as true acts of creations
(true becoming) ...The probability distributions of possible future [events]
is time-order invariant, i.e. covariant. But the set of actual past [events]
are not (and couldn’t be).”
- Theistic science would claim that these qualities come from the multiple
sub-degrees within physics.
- As described by (Dalai-Lama 2005, p. 82).
- (Harris 2004), in fact, claims to draw on “new evidence
from neuroscience and insights from philosophy to explore spirituality as a
biological, brain-based need, and invokes that need in taking a secular humanistic
approach to solving the problems of this world.” Whether he is a physicalist,
humanist or spiritual-atheist will depend on the precise meaning of ‘brain-based.’
- I am sure that Descartes would have been very happy to hear of such a theory
of interactive dualism, as he was often pressed to explain how souls and bodies
could interact according to his theory. The best he could say was that to interact
was their intrinsic nature, without making a detailed hypothesis.
- The historical lack of detailed answers has led many people to despair of
dualism, as they wonder how minds and bodies--things so different--could possibly
interact with each other. This bizarrely led them to deny even the possibility
and evidence of interaction: the very thing that is so immediately obvious to
us in almost every minute of our daily lives!
- ... constant25.6
- The fine-structure constant is
where e is the unit electric charge,
is Planck’s constant, and c is the speed of light. It has been measured
at least outside living organisms. Every atomic and molecular structure and
reaction rate depends critically on the value of the fine-structure constant.
- Physicists, especially cosmologists such as (Sandvik 2002)
and (Bekenstein 2009), are already considering the
possibility of the fine-structure constant varying on a universe-wide scale,
maybe depending, for example, on the age of the universe. Of course, it would
not then be a constant, but a ‘constant’. (Murphy 2003)
discuss astronomical evidences for such a variation. Theistic science considers
local variations of the same kind. Re-imagining global symmetries or
variations in a local form is a well-known technique in physics for suggesting
- This principle, that ‘we only see what we want to see’, might be considered
already well known. One consequence is that we do not see what we are not expecting
or attending to see. This is the well-studied phenomenon of ‘inattentional blindness’.
- The elucidation of the details here and clarification of exactly how the
analogies fail or prevail in the new applications is left as an exercise for
the reader (or a later edition of this book).
- They remind us of Galileo’s phrase, “Scripture teaches us how to go to heaven,
not how the heavens go.”
- Genesis 3:5.
- Such superficial conclusions are those reached on the basis of only appearance
and external knowledge and not on understanding or wisdom. To conclude on the
basis of only appearance is to have eyes not looking up but only at ground level,
like a snake.
- Most people in similar situations are only too well aware of the conflicts
between the old and the new loves. This conflict (and the resulting temptations)
is often painful and never very quickly resolved. That is because, since our
being is our deepest love, it is ultimately a question of identity: of who we
are. Are we our old or our new loves? We never change instantaneously from one
to another, but only by means of bridges.
- 2 Corinthians 12:2 and Galatians 1:2.
- That common use of the term ‘theistic evolution’ should more precisely be
called ‘deistic evolution’, since deism is the view that, once God created the
world, the universe developed in time according to purely natural laws and without
any so-called ‘interference’ from God.
- ... epigenetic26.7
- In the cell, but not part of the genome.
- ... level27.1
- That is, love and wisdom, or whatever corresponds to them at the level being
- See (Riva 2011) for further discussion of consciousness
and presence within series of several derivative intentions and also when external
technologies are used.
- Of course, talking of a ‘sheet’ is talk of a two-dimensional surface, but,
at some level we are mental functionalists, and hence we know that all we need
is that kind of functional structure, not an actual two-dimensional arrangement
of neurons, of ideas, or of minds.
- See Section 18.2 for the argument here.
- That is, outside our spiritual and mental ‘skin’ as well. We can think of
this as speaking (or shouting) in spiritual space to others existing outside
our spiritual body.
- Note that I am not addressing here the question of whether or how
it is possible to change our spiritual life once it is already permanently
formed according to the above scheme. That question involves issues of repentance,
temptations and salvation which are beyond the scope of this book.
- See, for example, Matt. 15:17-20.
- ... cases29.1
- I admit that the reasons B5 and B6 are not yet fully argued within this
- We have already considered the question of possible biological ‘bad design’.
- Only God is perfect.
- (Whitehead 1929) has that God “is the great fellow-sufferer
- We remember here the discussion at the end of Section
14.2, concerning how a proper wisdom, as distinct from
‘mere’ understanding of causes, requires our thinking to be fully linked with
love. From Section 23.5, we note that it may be some
time before we obtain in ourselves this linking in its fullest form.
- Indeed, I would insist that everyone needs some kind of rational and consistent
understanding as the basis for religion. A person’s faith, for example, should
be based on what is true and consistent, even if the understanding of those
truths is slow in coming. Faith based on what can never be comprehended
is hardly useful.
- ... G. W.30.4
- Quoted in (Brooke 1991, p. 149).
- From Letter 1 to Samuel Clarke, November 1715.
- Abel then notes that “a single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous
optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this
null hypothesis”, and that no putative demonstrations are yet close to demonstrating
- This issue relates to the discussions about the definition of ‘physical’
in Chapter 7. I once entertained the definition of physical
as everything that exists and changes, in which case minds and souls would be
physical. Or, following Aristotle, we could define the physical as that which
has its source of change inside itself, and then even God is physical (and,
depending on what you mean by ‘inside’, perhaps only God is physical!).
- The religions claim that heavenly states are particularly accessible during
separation from the physical body, but (with more work) are also available without
such a separation.
- ... body32.3
- 1 Cor 15:44.
- If you have more penetrating objections or think my responses are not adequate,
please email me at email@example.com, and I can revise this chapter.