Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Orson Pratt and alternative organizations of matter

One of the things about Mormonism that is quite interesting is that it tries to address the issue of how spirit and body interact in a meaningful way.  That is what is the soul.  This is a key theme in Hellenism, on what basis would God communicate with man?  Cessationist Evangelical Christianity has essentially abandoned this question, God communicated through people in a book and now doesn't meaningfully talk.  Further in terms of soul, it officially takes the orthodox position of a bodily resurrection, while the membership more and more takes the position that such a thing is impossible and believes in a non-corporeal soul.  Which immediately raises the question in light of our modern understanding of the brain: what does the soul do that the body does not do?  Contemporary evangelical Christianity simply doesn't have an adequate answer to this question.

Mormonism conversely has a very different answer.  It essentially adopts hylozoism, "life generates form" that spirit is another form of matter that interacts with standard matter providing an organization.  God is thus expressed in laws of interaction and man's spirit is a participant component of the Godhead.  Spinoza was a well known advocate of this idea with Kant having been a well known opponent.  Martin Buber is probably the most recent prominent advocate.  This idea fit well within Deism, which is probably where Pratt encountered it.  Because of the Pantheistic overtones, most religions reject this theory and even in Mormonism it seems somewhat under developed in terms of specifics.

In modern usage there are 3 main schools of understanding regarding matter and determinism:
  • hylostatism The belief that the universe is deterministic, thus “static” in a four-dimensional sense,  classical mechanics, which was a view Orson Pratt was attacking at the time.  
  • hylostochastism The belief that the universe contains a fundamentally random or stochastic component, which has been proven by quantum mechanics.  
  • hylozoism The belief that the universe contains a fundamentally alive aspect, which is was discussed above.  That the structures have in some sense intent, a drive or an intelligence behind them.  
For Orson Pratt addresses the key argument was the mechanism for the organization of matter. He believed that matter was capable of different types of organizations and these types of matter would have different relationships to one another.   The first type of matter we know of baryon matter.  These are stable hadrons, quarks bound together,  organized in the way we typically think of matter organized.  This is the structure you heard all your life, protons and neutrons forming a nucleus with a negative charged electrons bound to them, forming molecular bonds via. chemical reactions.  This idea was just becoming understood during the period Pratt wrote on materialism.  Since he's died he have a bunch of examples of differently organized matter that we know of.

Of course in theory, we could imagine a situation with a negative charged nucleus and positive charged particles bound.  This is called antimatter, or anti-baryons.  This is exactly the same as traditional matter but with quarks who have reverse "spin".    This can be created in low energy situations because, certain types of traditional matter radioactive isotopes produce anti-matter (anti-baryon) emission during radioactive decay,  which is how a PETscan works.

Additionally we have found a virtual zoo of short lived hadrons. These are combinations of quarks that are fundamentally unstable. A far far greater number of organizations of matter then we had previous thought possible. In a dimension or an environment where certain physical constants were altered our traditional forms of matter (baryons) protons, neutrons, electrons...would be unstable and these other hadrons would be stable.

More recently we have discovered dark matter. This is a type of matter that we are able to detect by gravitational lensing and other effects but doesn't seem to exhibit any chemical or nuclear properties. Because of this it;s rather difficult to study but we can construct on paper a possible candidate the neutralino, but so far mostly haven't been able to prove or disprove this model.  What is interesting from Orson's perspective is if true dark matter only lightly interacts with traditional matter proving that matter can exist, can interact and can be virtually undetectable.

Another organization that is still rather speculative is dark energy. This is still theoretical and we don't have widely accepted models but it appears that dark energy exhibits a collective effect in large quantities and makes up most of the mass/energy of the universe.

So in short Orson Pratt proposed a type of organization of matter, he called spirit which is capable of some sort of reaction with baryons but isn't itself baryon.  The existence of such types of organizations of matter is now proven, and it appears there are plethora of examples.

Now to end on an apologetic note, there is frequently a claim that Mormons believe God lives with his spirit children on a planet called Kolob. Dark matter passes right through planets, as does dark energy.  Further a planet effects you because you have mass, and spirit matter doesn't have mass or at least not much mass, thus no gravitational effects.  If it did dead bodies would weigh less than living ones.   That is most of these different organizations or matter have vastly different properties a "planet" in the conventional sense would mean nothing to them, they wouldn't even "know it was there".   They would be stabilized / organized by entirely different sorts of structures.   So I think Mormons are absolutely correct to object.

What is interesting though is that Joseph Smith seems to have hinted at a solution in Abraham 3 where he does describe Kolob.   He describes it as exhibiting properties both of a star and a planet.   He also mentions one other curious property that time passes on Kolob at a rate of 1 day for every 1000 years on earth.  Taking this far more literally than Joseph Smith intended gives us some intriguing possibilities:
  1. Doing the math, sqrt(1-1/365250)  yields that Kolob moves at 99.99986% of the speed of light relative to earth.  Galaxies move faster from us the further away they are.  If that held up we could imagine Kolob as extremely far away.  But we have no evidence anything that far away exists and our theories about the size of the universe would be contradicted if it did.  Though, many Mormons do believe in an inflationary multiverse and this sort of speed is fully consistent with that view.
  2. If it were an object in the known universe just moving that fast it would have all sorts of weird properties whenever it came in contact with anything from our universe moving in sync with known galaxies.  At those sorts of high energies relativistic masses are enormous for even extremely lite objects.  That still wouldn't allow for unusual organizations of matter, but it would allow for what would highly unusual during "slow down".    
  3. The second possibility is this slowdown is caused by relativistic gravity, and the only place there would that much gravity is inside the event horizon of a black hole.  And of course black holes are one of the areas where the rules of quantum mechanics overwhelm classical constant and all sorts of bizarre organizations of matter are possible.  If we assume that Abraham really was a vision I could imagine someone in the 1840s being at a loss for how to describe events within the confines of a blackhole, somewhere between a planet and a star.  If we imagine spirits to be interacting with things near the event horizon that can escape, again we get unusual organization of matter there are immense amounts of heat energy available, billions of times what's available in the core of a normal star, which produce all sorts of quantum effects this is the theory of Hawking radiation.  In many ways that would meet all the criteria that Orson Pratt described. 
  4. Of course there are things like other dimensions. via super strings which have a different organization of matter, because there would be different physics constant and have the possibility of affecting baryon matter.  Assuming Orson Pratt were right, this is likely the most promising.  
In short the theory has held up rather well, and the idea that Mormons believe in a "planet" in the traditional sense is just unsupportable.  The term is being used in the sense of the book of Abraham not in the sense of a large rock circling a sun.

_________

See also

37 comments:

Christian said...

Wow, neat stuff. I haven't seen the terms until now, but it seems to me that Mormonism adopts both hylozoism and hylostochastism if I understand them correctly. The "alive" aspect when left to itself is truly fundamentally random, disorder, and chaos. But when organized the intelligences, as it has been labeled, comply. There are different types and degrees of intelligences, according to this thought.

In 2 Nephi 2:26 these are referred to as things to act and things to be acted upon.

On a completely unrelated note, occaisonally, while out in the mountains walking in solitude, I've reflected on the fact (taking for granted 2 Nephi 2:26 is true) that the mountains, rocks, streams, flowers, soil, moss, minerals, etc, that all these things around me "know" (certainly not in the cognitive sense like we experience it, but that's the best word I have) there is a God which organized them together into their individual forms. Occaisonally, I can almost imagine or feel that these creations are waiting to respond and obey to their creator (organizer) who has taken their eternal form from a disorganized chaos and into their present beauty where the laws of nature effect them in an ever evolving and changing way.

Well, you gotta think about something when you're out hiking alone in the wilderness :)

Christian said...

Also, this is somewhat tangental, but I'm not very familiar with Dark Energy... justing searching a little it's because it was coined in 1998 which was right around the time of my studies. I'm a little confused at how something could be 75% of the universe as dark energy is, and be the (primary?) reason why everything is moving away from each other and yet not be detectible. It seems strange something so massive could not be observed, but as your post implies these are the exciting areas of physics where it almost seems the physical meets the spiritual.

CD-Host said...

Hi Christian.

It seems strange something so massive could not be observed, but as your post implies these are the exciting areas of physics where it almost seems the physical meets the spiritual.

Think of it this way.

You've heard the analogy that if a football field were the orbit of the electrons the nucleus would be a few grains of sand in the center (webpage with another analogy). If something doesn't react magnetically then the atom is mostly empty space. If it doesn't respect the strong force then the proton or neutron is just 3 quarks and is empty space you don't heven have those few grains of sand anymore.

I'm not sure if I buy the theory of dark energy, the evidence for dark matter keeps building.

As for the aliveness of everything that's really cool.

Jettboy said...

Thank you for this. Mormonism is far less simple than the critics like to assume, or a few members.

"Taking this far more literally than Joseph Smith intended"

This really is an important observation. Science and apologetic aside, where God lives is not the point of Abraham 3. It is about the relationship of God, Jesus, angels, and us mortals. As you probably well know, one day equals a thousand years is a Biblical term to express difference in time perceptions and not an actual unit of measurement. Mormons and non-Mormons need to stop taking Kolob so literally, because it was never meant to be taken as a serious map of the Universe. And its not a planet, its a star (although a star planet is actually a rather theologically acceptable description in relation to the Glory of Heaven).

Chrysostom said...

I think Mormon metaphysics shoots itself in the foot as soon as it is assumed that matter and energy always existed and were not created, either by God, nor in the Big Bang, nor both. It robs both God and science of relevance, and is not in accord with any modern scientific or theological theory: like the rest of Mormonism, such as trying to say that the BoM is a historical document, it's patently unbelievable. It's blind faith instead of faith.

A favorite analogy of mind: faith is in antibiotics, based on a doctor's authority, medical research, FDA approval, past experience, logic, and your knowledge of antibiotics. Blind faith is believing that jumping on the right foot while holding the left until you jump out a window will cure your father of cancer.

However, it does make for one of the most unique and entertaining theologies in Christianity without a doubt, no matter what its truth-value is. It's much like a fantasy version of the sci-fi "Urantia Book", both "new Christianities" of a sort, Mormonism with a focus on the mediaeval/fantastical, and Urantia with a focus on the sci-fi - and Sci-Fi and Fantasy are always found together, to the point of being considered two ends of one spectrum, of a single genre.

Chrysostom said...

Not related to the post, but from my comment on one of your posts a few years ago:

I don't think I'm coming over from any site. I can't remember how I found this one (maybe a Google search? or a link? one or the other!) but I frequent the Better Bibles Blog (Protestant) and Catholic Bibles (Catholic) and a few other sites about Bible design and translation, and a few about theology (almost all Catholic, because most theological sites on the internet have a distinct Calvinist/Reformed bent, which is wearing after a while). I only found out about the whole "blog thing" a few weeks ago: I never knew such a thing existed before that. The closest thing I had experience with was Wikipedia or "Xanga", I think it was called, from a few years ago.

As for my religious history: I was baptised a Coptic Orthodox by relatively secular parents and converted to Islam at 11-12 years old due to societal pressure (this is in Egypt), and, after almost a decade of Islam, I moved to America and met some Mormon missionaries, which got me interested in Christianity again, as I had become an agnostic with no religious direction, and became involved in a Greek Orthodox church (Thank God Almighty I didn't join Mormonism! But, in Orthodoxy, I heard nearly as much anti-Western, anti-intellectual, anti-theological rhetoric as I did in Islam, just with less calls to arms), and eventually found my way to a Catholic church after reading Pope John Paul II's encyclical "Fides et Ratio".

I'm not a baptised Catholic, but I'll likely become one; I've not even started the RCIA yet. Maybe even become a Jesuit. I'm already poor and celibate, and looking for more professional theological education!

The intellectualism of modern Catholic theologians (Fr. Brown and Fitzmyer come to mind) and Popes (everyone since Pius XII) and uniformity/unity/internal consistency of the teachings, and the stances taken on moral issues, mesh very well with those that I found for myself after a few years of Bible-study (which is what got me out of that Mahometan cult in the first place): I think that's pretty evident when I score higher on "Catholicism" traits than most Catholics do.

Chrysostom said...

Sorry I took so long to respond. I've not been reading this older stuff more. I look forward to commenting and critiquing your newer postings.

I greatly enjoyed your rebuttal of the KJV onlyist, but you went a little soft on him - there were three or four questions that you should have pressed him to actually answer (not that he answered many) and a few where you could have gone in for the kill. I guess you were just being Christlike?

I think KJV-onlyism is just about the worst thing to ever hit Christianity. It's anti-intellectual to the nth degree, it's stagnant, it's illogical, and it's idol worship - worship of the Bible. There's a KJVO congregation down the street from where I live - I found it funny when one of them accused me of idol worship for venerating the Crucifix (he didn't even mention anything about saints or the Mother of God), while he's worshipping a specific version of the Bible - the book itself has become an idol! It gives an entirely new, and all-too-real meaning to the term that Orthodox and Catholics sometimes apply to the sola scriptura crown, "bibliolater". KJVO doesn't just worship the idea of the Bible, but the actual text of a printed book, as if the Third Millennium King James Version (which changes "astonied" to "astonished" and "paps" to "breasts") was less the Word of God than the KJV 1611, full of more typos than a self-published book and more apocrypha than an a set of OT Pseudepigrapha.

I found your series on "Mormonism as Hermetic Christianity" interesting. It didn't point out much of the cult-like aspect of LDS, but that - unless it was a feature of Hermes Trismegistus's teachings - wouldn't have really fit the bill. In any case, I think Alcoholics Anonymous is far more of a cult than Mormonism (and if you'd ever been through the twelve steps, you would too - on those "cult" tests, AA scores 95+/100!)

If Mormonism is Hermetic Christianity, would that make alchemy Hermetic chemistry?

Chrysostom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chrysostom said...

Oh, and the "eternal intelligence" thing in Mormonism, it has a very striking similarity to the theories put forth in Gottfried Leibniz's (very famous and brilliant scientist, invented calculus, contemporary of Newton) "Monadology", a competing theory to that of Newton's theory of gravitation.

It was rejected in favour of gravity, and didn't go on to have much influence, but is very interesting (if you like 400 year old, unpopular, discredited scientific theories.. it's kind of like reading Descartes for his view of mathematics and vortices instead of philosophy) but has some interesting parallels to some of the experimental results and theory of modern quantum physics, especially the multiple worlds hypothesis with "consciousness causes waveform collapse" as a modifier.

"Things to act and things to be acted upon" is in a direct adaptation of St Thomas Aquinas' potentiality/actuality (or potency/actuality in his words) distinction from the Summa Theologiae. Actuality acts, potentiality is acted upon. Everything we know is act and potency, but potency can not exist without actuality. The first, pure act is God; nothing can be pure potentiality, or it wouldn't exist.

This is the basis for one of the Quinquae Viae - the "Five Ways" - that Thomas Aquinas uses to rigorously (and not yet properly refuted in 600 years) prove the existence of a creator God. However, his arguments in general can only go so far as to prove the Deist God, viz. the Watchmaker God, who created the Universe, and, as the first cause, put the infinite series of cause/effect events in to motion, but doesn't necessarily deal with it, nor is necessarily even present.

The jump to belief in a personal God is where faith comes in.

Chrysostom said...

The Books of Abraham and Moses were also quite obviously heavily influenced, to the point of a few direct quotations and constant allusions, from an early translation of the Ethiopic Apocalypse of Enoch (1 Enoch) of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (lit. "falsely attributed", but think of the Pseudepigrapha as "the apocrypha of the apocrypha").

CD-Host said...

Hi Jettboy --

Glad you liked the article. I can't believe how often this stupid issue comes up. When my daughter was very young she was taught by her friends that God lived in the sky like a cloud. I learned this when she heard the Kate Bush lyrics:

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,


She had no idea how one could make a deal with God since it was too far away... I can't believe how often I'm essentially having the same conversation with adults. It does seem to come up a lot with Evangelical critics of Mormonism.

Science and apologetic aside, where God lives is not the point of Abraham 3. It is about the relationship of God, Jesus, angels, and us mortals... Mormons and non-Mormons need to stop taking Kolob so literally, because it was never meant to be taken as a serious map of the Universe.

I obviously agree and would apply that more broadly :)

CD-Host said...

Hello Chrysostom --

Just so you know there are several Mormons active on this thread. You might want to turn down the anti-Mormon rhetoric a bit the same way that if they were on a Catholic thread you would want them to disagree politely. You don't have to soften the point but name calling isn't going to help you all have a good discussion. Is that fair?

It robs both God and science of relevance, and is not in accord with any modern scientific or theological theory

The idea that the universe was burning out is one where 20th century science has vindicated Christianity over 19th century science. Prior to Hubble this idea was the majority viewpoint. :) But late 20th century science is reexamining the question. For example the Quantum Bubble / False vacuum theory.

but I frequent the Better Bibles Blog (Protestant) and Catholic Bibles (Catholic)

I'm a regular on Better Bibles and did a few posts on Catholic Bibles around the first time you posted.

Fides et Ratio

Link for lurkers to Fides et Ratio : ON THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN FAITH AND REASON
a great encyclical.

I'm not a baptised Catholic, but I'll likely become one; I've not even started the RCIA yet.

What's stopping you?

I greatly enjoyed your rebuttal of the KJV onlyist, but you went a little soft on him - there were three or four questions that you should have pressed him to actually answer (not that he answered many) and a few where you could have gone in for the kill. I guess you were just being Christlike?

(As an aside to Jettboy who I was also talking to about another form of KJVonlyism. Chrysostom talking about a 4 part thread here from 2 years ago).

No. KJVonlyism I don't see as a real issue. I'm more focused on the modern version ESVonlyism. I wanted to do an interview. And I liked Will Kinney, I really did. He's a guy getting more and more isolated from the fundamentalist community he loves. He also did a nice job defending the doctrine in a very pure way.

I think everyone on this thread will agree that sola scriptura is nonsense. But Will is right that its particularly nonsense to argue that one shouldn't defer to a church while in effect deferring to a bunch of textual critics and archeologists associated with UBS, and then a commercial publisher. Given his assumptions I think his conclusions are not totally unreasonable.

If Mormonism is Hermetic Christianity, would that make alchemy Hermetic chemistry?

That was a good line, but yes. I think its a fair analogy to say something like

Hermetic Judaism is to Christianity as alchemy is to Chemistry.

In any case, I think Alcoholics Anonymous is far more of a cult than Mormonism (and if you'd ever been through the twelve steps, you would too - on those "cult" tests, AA scores 95+/100!)

Oh do I have a link you'll enjoy My 100 question cult test

Click through the links and see who he uses as an overall sample.

CD-Host said...

Oh, and the "eternal intelligence" thing in Mormonism, it has a very striking similarity to the theories put forth in Gottfried Leibniz's

Yep, I think its a direct descendent. Leibniz influenced Deism which is where I think Pratt got his ideas from.

"Things to act and things to be acted upon" is in a direct adaptation of St Thomas Aquinas' potentiality/actuality (or potency/actuality in his words) distinction from the Summa Theologiae. Actuality acts, potentiality is acted upon. Everything we know is act and potency, but potency can not exist without actuality. The first, pure act is God; nothing can be pure potentiality, or it wouldn't exist.

This is the basis for one of the Quinquae Viae - the "Five Ways" - that Thomas Aquinas uses to rigorously (and not yet properly refuted in 600 years) prove the existence of a creator God. However, his arguments in general can only go so far as to prove the Deist God, viz. the Watchmaker God, who created the Universe, and, as the first cause, put the infinite series of cause/effect events in to motion, but doesn't necessarily deal with it, nor is necessarily even present.



For lurkers here is a translation. Everything in italics is Aquinas:
The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

I never understood why this couldn't go back to infinity in this argument. Also obviously things can move themselves, like all animals. And I can balance something and see that balance disturbed and watch the object go from potential to kinetic energy.

So in some sense this is first source of energy.

The jump to belief in a personal God is where faith comes in.

Well there are other apologetics. But I certainly agree "first cause" doesn't prove much of anything. One of the arguments I like to use is Invisible Pink Unicorn. Take any apologetic and see if it applies equally well to her.

The Books of Abraham and Moses were also quite obviously heavily influenced, to the point of a few direct quotations and constant allusions, from an early translation of the Ethiopic Apocalypse of Enoch (1 Enoch) of the Old Testament

Interesting point. Enoch the Prophet by Hugh W. Nibley is a whole book on this topic. The last chapter hits this extensively.

Chrysostom said...

I've not started the RCIA yet because it doesn't start until August. I can't make it start any sooner, or I'd already be in it: e.g. I'm starting as soon as possible, but the Church runs on a one-year rotation (RCIA in August, Baptism for the unbaptised or confirmation for the validly baptised on Easter).

Even though (pride speaking...) I could probably teach the RCIA more effectively than the catechist :-)

I'll be reading the rest of your comments and replying when I feel necessary.

Christopher

Chrysostom said...

ESVonlyism seems to be only amongst Calvinists, as several renderings in the ESV turn it in to a decidedly "Calvinist gospel" instead of a "Standard version".

Chrysostom said...

(Part 1)

Animals quite obviously do not move themselves. They are first sustained ("moved") by their mothers, with milk; and then they eat, which powers ("moves") the cells through the ATP cycle, and powers ("moves") the nerves and brain, which control the motion (for an understanding of the nerves and brain and the conversion of potency and actuality, I feel it necessary to refer back to Descartes's First Philosophy and the mind-body duality unless one accepts occasionalism, Hume's position, which I do not, which is in any case beyond the scope of this post).

Their mothers were moved by their mothers; their milk was created by the food their mothers ate through a complex process of cause and effect, potency and act. The food they eat was, in the most immediate sense, created by seed and water and sun, or by another animal eating seed and water and sun: so what first moved, to make the movement of seed and water and sun and eventually animal through energy produced by using this produce in the ATP cycle? God.

The Big Bang has gone quite beyond a theory: it's less debated than evolution, for a poor example. In scholarly circles, it's not really debated at all (although it was for many years), and a comparison to outdated models of the universe or to discredited, old theories like phlogiston really does it no justice.

The "heat death" is just one of several ways it's hypothesised the universe will end, which is subject to heavier debate, and likely can not be known until the universe ends. The theories of dark matter and energy make a heat death much more unlikely if not impossible than without the theories.

Chrysostom said...

(Part 2)

It is always possible to take the infinite regress solution to God, but, as we have seen, time is not infinite, so what caused time and space to come in to being? (The theory that two or more higher-dimensional branes collided is a theory at that: and if true, what caused the branes to move? Unlike strings, branes are very unlikely to be affected by quantum vacuum fluctuations). If all is infinite, as the Hindus believe, it's possible for an infinite regress of gods: if all is not, as modern science and theology thinks, it is not. In any case, the infinite regress of gods is a clumsy solution, and, compared to the one Prime Mover, fails ("is cut away by") Ockham's razor.

Your understanding of Aquinas (as evidenced by the animal comment) suffers either from a lack of knowledge, or, more likely, a misunderstanding of Aquinas that is relatively common in modern/post-modern philosophy that's been influenced by the analytic school, viz. almost everything taught in most American philosophy courses.

To correct this, I recommend reading "Aquinas: A Beginner's Guide" by Edward Feser. It's pretty short (200pp.), but dense (especially for a "Beginner's guide"), and first illuminates and then helps to correct many of the modern misunderstandings of Aquinas' philosophy.

As most "deep" or "dense" writings do not translate perfectly (as evidenced by the concentration of loanwords in translations), and is best understood in the original Latin. However, the Christian Classics edition (five big blue books) does a decent job, but, in English (or in Latin), must be read with an understanding of Aquinas or a commentary. For commentary, the Beginner's Guide, a Shorter Summa, Selected Philosophical Writings, and a Summa of the Summa are all good places to start, possibly even with an excursion in to Summa contra Gentiles before a stop at the Summa Theologiae.

PS. Any Bible "onlyism" is a form of idolatry, Bibliolatry, whether it's ESV or KJV or whatever. I almost want to start a blog to re-post your conversation, with mine own commentary on the questions that were never answered by your opponent. In the end, I don't even believe it necessary to be an onlyist and believe in the infallibility of the scriptures in your hand, as the message in all translations, from Young's Literal and Concordant to the Cotton Patch Version, is the same. It is not inerrant in science or history, but only for salvation and theology. However, to believe in one inerrant scripture, that was created 1600 AD, is a priori irrational, if one believes (as your opponent admitted) that other versions can effect salvation, which is the purpose of the scripture. Essentially, what is the purpose of an inerrant scripture, if it can not do any more to effect salvation than any other good-faith one? None.

And, infallibility v. inerrancy: That's why we have textbooks for biology and the Bible for religion.

--A Student of St Thomas Aquinas

Chrysostom said...

Note: I am in no way a physicist. I'm a philosopher and theologian (and a self-taught "Information and Networks Security Consultant", which I did for a living before the Great Crash of 2008: now I've fallen behind the times with "the cloud" and 64-bit). However, I love physics and mathematics, but have no formal training, so my knowledge comes from popular science books by Hawking, Kaku, and Greene, and a few introductory-level textbooks such as "Nuclear and Particle Physics" and "Quantum Field Theory: A Modern Introduction", alongside some of Feynman's and Dirac's lectures and work - and Wikipedia.

If you are a trained physicist, you almost certainly know much more correctly than I do, the concepts of physics.

CD-Host said...

Even though (pride speaking...) I could probably teach the RCIA more effectively than the catechist :-)

You are probably right on doctrine. But its not just doctrines, its stuff like getting you a sponsor to get you more connected with the church.

ESVonlyism seems to be only amongst Calvinists, as several renderings in the ESV turn it in to a decidedly "Calvinist gospel" instead of a "Standard version".

Agree 100%. There is a fan site on facebook, "The ESV the Calvinist version of the bible". They don't like the fact their in a niche, but they are in a niche.

OK onto the argument.

Animals quite obviously do not move themselves. They are first sustained ("moved") by their mothers, with milk

That's a different definition of "moved". That's an energy source. If the question is what was the initial source in place of what was the prime mover, then you there are a lot of alternate explanations:

a) The universe self generates energy faster than it consumes it. Conversation is a rule within the universe but not for the universe.

b) There were many sources for the universes

c) The universe is harvesting an outside energy source.

etc...

I'm not sure I want to jump so freely from energy source to "mover". I see those words as very different.

I almost want to start a blog to re-post your conversation, with mine own commentary on the questions that were never answered by your opponent.

I think that's a good idea if you are interested. You definitely I think will find enough to talk about to justify a blog. As far as permissions / license, I'd want to ask Will if he's OK with that; but if he is OK I'm OK with it. If you are serious I'll ask for his OK.

that other versions can effect salvation, which is the purpose of the scripture.

1) That's where Will would disagree with you. He sees scripture as much more encompassing.

1a) I'm actually surprised to see a Catholic with that limited a view on the purpose of scripture.

2) Will would qualify that as inferior bibles are less likely to effect salvation. Will believes you can get saved from a tract, but the worse the biblical environment the greater the probability for failure.

If you are a trained physicist, you almost certainly know much more correctly than I do, the concepts of physics.

Not to worry I'm a very rusty trained mathematician.

Chrysostom said...

My view of the Bible isn't quite as limited, but isn't nearly as all-encompassing as many fundamentalists who try to take it as a thing-in-itself in which all other things reside, such as philosophy, the natural sciences, history, psychology, sociology, governance, etc.

I believe the Bible is for religion.

All three of your rebuttals of the "energy source" (energy creates motion, is where I was drawing the solid connection),

1. There is no evidence that this is possible. Even if it does generate energy, it began, and if it began, something had to start it. Energy doesn't pop in to being out of nowhere (except for the vacuum, which is on far too small of a scale and seems to balance itself out with energy disappearing as well), and doesn't increase itself, nor decrease itself. The law of conservation holding true: God. The law of conservation not holding true: energy is being created: God.

2. I don't understand.

3. By our current understanding, and all models, this is impossible, even in a multiverse, let alone if the universe exists as a true universe. If it is true, what created all of the universes, or the energy existing outside of it, and how is the potency of energy in one turned in to the act of energy in another? God. You are just adding another level - say, an "abstraction layer" - between us and the prime mover, the first cause (which for the purposes of both of these refutations can be conflated).

All roads lead to God, or a misinformed form of "life-force worship" as CS Lewis put it, of organisation arising out of chaos without questioning how the "universal order" can be reversed, a microcosm of which is the Resurrection.

Basic and short refutations off of the top of my head, likely easily refutable in themselves.

I'll probably start a blog, but I'm very bad at coming up with topics to speak on of my own: almost everything I think is an expansion or commentary on or a refutation of something else. This is the difference between genius and greatness: I can be genius, yet never great, as greatness is creative, revolutionary, trampling what came before. Genius is merely evolutionary, standing on the shoulders of giants.

I'm not sure I have the time to dedicate to a "debate blog" or "argumentative blog", as the style of mine would likely tend to, as, even though I am unemployed and attend no school, it would still interrupt my studies greatly (I promised myself I'd finish Pope Benedict XVI's "Jesus of Nazareth" today...).

Chrysostom said...

...And maybe even crack "String theory and M-theory: a Modern Introduction" again for the first time in quite a while.

Christopher

Chrysostom said...

2) Will would qualify that as inferior bibles are less likely to effect salvation. Will believes you can get saved from a tract, but the worse the biblical environment the greater the probability for failure.

That's interesting. If that is true (which would be nearly impossible to verify), I would concede the point. Based on "getting saved from a tract": how is this possible? To be saved requires a conception of Jesus that is faithful (refer to countless arguments about the Mormon conception of Jesus, not to be anti-Mormon but to illustrate my point). Unless a faithful conception of Jesus is automagically inserted in to your soul (i.e. unconditional election), I don't see how this works - I can see how it would spur one towards the saving knowledge of Christ, but not effect it.

However, I think it more likely for someone to become saved through witnessing and apologetics and a Bible that is easy and enjoyable to read in modern English (so on, but the argument I'm envisioning wouldn't fit in half a dozen of these comment boxes). I don't think the removal of 1 John 5:7 long reading actually effects the doctrine of the Trinity, nor do slight alterations such as "He was manifest in the flesh" change the clear message of the scripture (such as John 1:1-14) that the Person who was manifest in the flesh was the Word of God.

Maybe for the kind of proof-texting that Fundamentalist Protestants prefer, such minute changes in the phraseology do matter. Without the Comma Johanneum, there is no one, simple, single proof-text verse that can be used to prove the Trinity: it relies on an organic cohesion of the entire NT, or what is now being called "canonical criticism".

Personally, I think it's more of a worship of the past, "what came before is better, because the world is getting worse". Otherwise, all translations based on the TR and the MT (such as the 3rd Millennium Bible, or even the NKJV, even though the NKJV has some stout NA/UBS/W-H and LXX influence in parts) should be held as equally inerrant to the KJV. Scholarship, thinking, these are necessary to the progress of society, and religion: religion, it never changes, but it progresses. A skeleton of understanding gets sinew; the sinew is clothed in muscle; the being is clothed in skin. Scholarship is the circulatory system which engages all of the others, and is necessary for their repair when wounded. Faith is the pulmonary system, which gives the circulation the vital principle.

I was going somewhere with this.

Chrysostom said...

Oh, and compared to God, all of the arguments you put forth (I don't know whether you believe them or not, or are playing Devil's Advocate) are cut away by Ockham's razor, especially according to our current scientific/natural-philosophic (the old term for science: I prefer it) and theological understanding.

That was a lynchpin of one of my above statements. It reminds me of a time when someone wrote a completely off-base conception of Catholicism, almost to the point of Voodoo, but was pretty similar in the basics. I said:

"That seems pretty similar in the basics, but not in the details" and then went on.

I forgot the most important clause: "But, as the aphorism goes, the devil is in the details, and in this case, in the most literal sense, the Devil is in the details".

CD-Host said...

All three of your rebuttals of the "energy source" (energy creates motion, is where I was drawing the solid connection

I agree that's where you are drawing the connection, the milk analogy. I'm just not sure Aquinas was drawing that connection he talked about motion not energy. "prime energy source" works for the rest of the argument so we can drop the concept of motion and move from there. But I just wanted to know I'm just questioning whether it was faithful to Aquinas or not. You know Aquinas better than I, but I think Aquinas really did mean motion and would argue that animal motion was imputed from the parents. Which is where David Hume's critique of plants was so effective they grow but motion is not imputed. That is you are really dropping unmoved mover and arguing contingency.

You see I think we just don't think of motion in the same terms. We think of it in terms of kinetic energy and instantly believe that potential energy, chemical energy, nuclear energy... can impute motion on their own. Aquinas believes in potential energy but holds that, " But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality" I think is key to his argument in modern terms. The problem is it is just false: gravity (self generated), radioactive decay, proton decay, entropy ... are all counter examples. And fundamentally our entire view of the universe is that gravity and entropy are the great forces that fundamentally drive the universe, put everything in motion (in his sense) and both of those are self generated. My assertion is that we now have a cosmology that asserts the exact opposite of unmoved mover as a matter of course. Aristotle did not stand the test of time.

For the purpose of argument I'll switch to energy, and the entire universe but I'm not sure that that's not just a brand new argument essentially a contingency argument because unmoved mover is dead.

CD:The universe self generates energy faster than it consumes it. Conversation is a rule within the universe but not for the universe.

CH: There is no evidence that this is possible. Even if it does generate energy, it began, and if it began, something had to start it. (con)


Wait a minute that's a different argument than prime mover / prime energy source. Aquinas (in the revised version) uses the fact that motion (energy) needs to come from another source. If the universe itself is imparting energy to matter and we are equating energy with motion then ... argument is dead.

For example we have about 3 deg Kelvin of cosmic background radiation from the big bang. Assume for a moment that were constant as the universe expanded. That would be a massive massive energy source from which to build new matter, i.e. cosmic dust which can gather into nebulas which can form stars and combine to form galaxies....

Lets be clear from a quantum perspective. We agree that small amounts of mass/energy self generate from vacuum. If it is the case that mass/energy on balance generates new mass/energy argument is over. The question moves from what created the big bang to what created the vacuum. Further getting back to the thread, that kind of model is very consistent with Orson Pratt's views.

CD-Host said...

CH: Energy doesn't pop in to being out of nowhere (except for the vacuum, which is on far too small of a scale and seems to balance itself out with energy disappearing as well),

That's the big question, does it mostly balance itself out or completely balance itself out? Is it tautologically impossible that it is just mostly? Dark energy may be created by distance between galaxies, a general relativity effect which is creating kinetic energy which is theoretically harvestable to create matter.

CD: There were many sources for the universes
CH: I don't understand.


The claim is there must have been a first mover / energy source. What if there were many movers / energy sources. If energy was leaking into the universe from thousand of different outside sources, it wasn't a one time event... This is similar to (a) except this time it isn't self generating or a one time act of creation.

Below is just the "is leaking case" rather than "was leaking"

CD: c) The universe is harvesting an outside energy source.
CH: By our current understanding, and all models, this is impossible, even in a multiverse, let alone if the universe exists as a true universe. If it is true, what created all of the universes, or the energy existing outside of it, and how is the potency of energy in one turned in to the act of energy in another?


You can't simultaneously argue that injection is needed and impossible. There are two definition of universe at play here:

a: Everything that exists.
b: A 4 dimensional shape, a Lorentzian manifold.

It is quite possible that universe-b is not equal to universe-a. String theory which you mentioned seems to be presupposing this. I think the argument has to pick one or the other.

If it is the case that a universe-a exists, we really have no idea what the properties of universe-a are. It may be in universe-a that objects self generate energy quite easily and visibly or that entropy is not a major factor so time can run in both directions smoothly which makes all sorts of infinite regressions much more plausible.

CD-Host said...

I'll probably start a blog, but I'm very bad at coming up with topics to speak on of my own: almost everything I think is an expansion or commentary on or a refutation of something else.

Counter blogging is a fine way to start. Once you start blogging you start interacting with other blogs and they initiate topics for you. What was a brief exchange on blog X can become a 4 part series on blog Y.

Proof against Patriarchy which was my second series was an attempt to refute a one liner that got thrown around a lot... "up until the last century everyone agreed on the role of women and the view of marriage..." I ended up writing a small book and could have written more with all the research I did.

That's interesting. If that is true (which would be nearly impossible to verify), I would concede the point. Based on "getting saved from a tract": how is this possible? To be saved requires a conception of Jesus that is faithful (refer to countless arguments about the Mormon conception of Jesus, not to be anti-Mormon but to illustrate my point).

I don't think will would agree with you there. His concern is that a bad bible leads to disbelief in the bible leads to no faith. I think he would argue the understanding of salvation is primarily a desire. If one knows they are sinful and sincerely asks for God's assistance and repents of that sin they can be saved, even with a very flawed theology. I think he would reject as the idea that someone must have precisely the right formulation of beliefs to be saved.

For him the KJV represents the best source and the highest probability of success and as the source moves further and further away from the KJV error creeps in and thus the possibility for losing one's faith in God and thus their salvation increases.

Being more specific than he ever was it might look like this:

KJV baptist church 60% chance of salvation
modern bible baptist church 55% chance of salvation
non baptist, apostolic church 45% chance
heretic church 35% chance
...
Hindu 2% chance

This is a quote from Will:
I very definitely believe God can use any version out there in Bible Babbleonia Land to reach His people with the gospel of salvation in Christ. I do not reject a brother or sister who happens to use a different version nor question their salvation.

What I do do is to challenge the widespread unbelief in the existence of a complete, inspired and 100% true Holy Bible. And I try to show the shallowness, unbelief, inconsistency, illogic and hypocrisy of what passes today as $cholar$hip and textual criticism that has led to the mess the church is in today regarding the authority and truth of God's words as found in a real and tangible Bible.

The "No Bible is the perfect words of God" crowd always pick on the King James Bible to try to prove some kind of error in it, so they can then sit back and think they have proven their point that No Bible in any language is the perfect words of God. I try to defend it and show that their alleged errors are not errors at all, but that it is the modern versions that are corrupt and getting worse.


So in other words you can be saved from a heretical bible, while having heretical beliefs. As long as obviously you aren't holding a belief knowing it is defiant of God. At some point those beliefs cross the line, but he doesn't claim to know where that line is.

CD-Host said...

Maybe for the kind of proof-texting that Fundamentalist Protestants prefer, such minute changes in the phraseology do matter. Without the Comma Johanneum, there is no one, simple, single proof-text verse that can be used to prove the Trinity: it relies on an organic cohesion of the entire NT, or what is now being called "canonical criticism".

That's a very good point. Fundamentalist Protestants want clear doctrines, clear quotes. Everything else is human reason. "If you can't point to a verse, its just your opinion".

Otherwise, all translations based on the TR and the MT (such as the 3rd Millennium Bible, or even the NKJV, even though the NKJV has some stout NA/UBS/W-H and LXX influence in parts) should be held as equally inerrant to the KJV

He would say the NKJV and the KJV disagree on matters of fact. One is right one is wrong. Here I can just link:NKJV safari, NKJV vs KJB Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah .

Scholarship, thinking, these are necessary to the progress of society, and religion: religion, it never changes, but it progresses.

He would disagree. His feeling is that God delivered a perfect faith through Jesus and the goal of the church is to lose as little as possible.

Have a great sabbath.

Chrysostom said...

Actually, for the misunderstanding, animal motion was imparted by the parents, and the parents parents, ad infinitum minus one, until it reaches God, which imparted motion to the first animal, the first plant, so on and so forth.

Essentially all animal and plant motion was imparted by God at the first, but has been abstracted down through the ages by what we call "natural" means.

To believe that all motion at all times is always caused by God is occasionalism, which, being a respectable opinion in its own right, I don't believe that St Thomas Aquinas held.

Chrysostom said...

And as far as that goes, I suppose, yes, I am arguing a form of contingency.

Some of your arguments I can not refute effectively at the current moment, but they tend towards chaos becoming orderly (which isn't even spoken of by Aquinas as far as I know).

As an Aristotelian, I believe he's stood the test of time, but you raise some interesting counter-points that I, with my limited knowledge of the material for refutation being used (e.g. Brian Greene and A Short History of Time is the fullness of my repertoire :-), can not refute without further "adaptation" to the point of mangling Aquinas' arguments without going back to the source (viz. the two Summas).

Also, I equate energy and motion as energy causes motion; it's just another layer of abstraction that does not change the ultimate source.

I suppose if I can't figure out something to do with that pesky gravity, I'll have to start holding a modified Occasionalism myself.

Chrysostom said...

--That's the big question, does it mostly balance itself out or completely balance itself out? Is it tautologically impossible that it is just mostly?--


I believe all of the evidence and logic point to "completely".

--Dark energy may be created by distance between galaxies, a general relativity effect which is creating kinetic energy which is theoretically harvestable to create matter. --

I am not nearly knowledgeable enough about the theories of dark energy to even know where to begin on this one - in honesty, it's the first I've heard of it. I'll have to look it up. Wikipedia to the rescue!

Chrysostom said...

--The claim is there must have been a first mover / energy source. What if there were many movers / energy sources. If energy was leaking into the universe from thousand of different outside sources, it wasn't a one time event...--

If there were many movers, one mover moved them all. Just another abstraction layer argument.

However, all of the models and predictions (and dearth of experimental evidence) of M-theory and the MW interpretation would say that separate universes are completely compartmentalised (whether in the "bubble" or "layer" models for lack of better descriptors) and, a priori, can not influence each other because they are completely ontologically separate. The only possible connection would be from the unmoved mover that first moved all in to existence, even if our free choices split the universes further (consciousness causes wave function collapse model).

Essentially, the "leak" is impossible, and the spontaneous self-generation is as well.

If one takes gravity, for example, it is not generated by vacuum; it is generated by mass. The mass had to have been put in to motion at one time, and the dust reduced in to planets and nebulae; potency reduced to act.

Chrysostom said...

For clarification, the "true universe" is the Lorentzian manifold, the "multiverse" is the multiverse, presupposed by string theory. It's actually two different lines of argumentation (based on infinite universes or only one) which still have the same source, almost like (pardon the grammar school metaphor) a factor tree for an infinitely large power of 2, compared to a factor tree for 2 itself (the factors being the universes; the infinitely large being God and the M-theory multiverse, the one-factor tree being God and the single universe).

I know, it's a terrible metaphor.

It's surprisingly hard to adapt any philosopher whatsoever to (some would argue non-empirical) cutting-edge physics bordering on metaphysics.

Chrysostom said...

Also, I forgot to point out...

Gravity is the only one of the forces that we've been unable to create even an educated theory about: that's what all string theory strives to do. Creating a consistent theory of gravity is considered so great a task, that it would essentially create the holy grail of physics, the "Grand Unified Model".

Gravity is the one force we do not understand - and you are too quick to ascribe it the property of self-generation based on laws that have yet to be discovered, but only based on observation (which falls apart if one accepts the existence of black holes or gravitational singularities of any sort).

Gravity may be a form of occasionalism in itself: it's not inconsistent with the theories and theologies, it's just one that's not been put forth yet, as most fall squarely on one side (Spinoza) or the other (Hume).

CD-Host said...

Hi. In general I think the problem with the arguments you are making (and really this is Aquinas) is that an induction argument requires two things

a) A proof for the initial step
b) A proof that given step n, step n+1 holds.

Which means any distinguished steps need to be addressed specifically.

For example the following proof that every number greater than 1 is false

a) 500 > 1
b) If n+1 > 1 unless n=1 then n > 1
so by induction we can replace n+1 with n, and all numbers are greater than 1.


that unless step needs to be dealt with.

Actually, for the misunderstanding, animal motion was imparted by the parents, and the parents parents, ad infinitum minus one, until it reaches God, which imparted motion to the first animal, the first plant, so on and so forth.

But that's an assumption that animals didn't get their motion imparted some other way other than the prime mover.

To believe that all motion at all times is always caused by God is occasionalism, which, being a respectable opinion in its own right, I don't believe that St Thomas Aquinas held.

I would agree I don't think he held it.

And as far as that goes, I suppose, yes, I am arguing a form of contingency.

Glad we agree. I don't want to mix them, Aquinas seemed to see himself as making 5 distinct arguments.

but they tend towards chaos becoming orderly (which isn't even spoken of by Aquinas as far as I know).

Exactly! That theory didn't exist. I think it is Aquinas' hidden assumption that structure implies intelligence. Evolution basically disagrees. Cellular automata is starting to give us an entire mathematics of chaos self ordering.

And I think that's the problem. Anyway if you want to take a re-crack later we can do that. :)

Also, I equate energy and motion as energy causes motion; it's just another layer of abstraction that does not change the ultimate source.

And there is an example of what I mean by needing to be careful about those distinguished steps. You can't assume it doesn't change the ultimate source that's what you are trying to prove. :) It might very well change the ultimate source.

For example you can make the argument that if there were prefect reproduction there is a Mitochondrial Eve a woman everyone on earth is descended from. Make slight changes to the population and you may change the identity of Eve, the ultimate source is highly variable.

CD-Host said...

CD The claim is there must have been a first mover / energy source. What if there were many movers / energy sources. If energy was leaking into the universe from thousand of different outside sources, it wasn't a one time event...--

CH: If there were many movers, one mover moved them all. Just another abstraction layer argument.


Another example of a distinguished step. Change from a (to use terms from the last series) universe-b to a universe-a and its unclear you can argue that the same thing put them in motion.

And in thinking about this one there is actually a bit of a paradox in our system.

If we assume pre-existent objects some of which were put in motion by an outside force then prime mover is either:

a) A collection of object which did the moving (or will do it in the future)

b) The very first mover temporally but

With the note that (a) not necessarily (b). (a) could be a large collection of external objects of vastly different natures and (b) could be relatively or completely insignificant to the universe. As for combining the (a) we have problems with Aquinas argument once we jump outside of the material universe. Notions like "before and after" are specific to our universe (and not even all that well defined outside a specific frame). We don't know that universe-a has even a direction to time. Notions like cause and effect might be indistinguishable like they are at the single molecule level where entropy plays no role.

If one takes gravity, for example, it is not generated by vacuum; it is generated by mass. The mass had to have been put in to motion at one time,

No it doesn't. Lets say I create a galaxy the size of ours with about 5x the mass all dust and all randomly placed nothing in motion. Add gravity and the whole thing puts itself in motion.

Unless you want to say "who created the mass" and I agree that mass and energy are equivalent but again that's not a prime mover argument.

Gravity is the only one of the forces that we've been unable to create even an educated theory about: that's what all string theory strives to do

Generally relativity gives us a good theory about gravity. What we haven't been able to do is find a unified theory... i.e. we know how gravity does what it does what we aren't sure about is why the constants are where they are.

What String theory strives to do is to take the equations for general relativity (i.e. gravity) and apply them to situations where the quantum equations apply. In particular in situations:

a) The big bang (tremendous energy small space)
b) A block hole (same but lower energy / mass)
c) where time matters

As for the rest of the criticism with my argument about self generation, I'm not following.

CD-Host said...

I emailed Will yesterday, and asked him if he wanted to join the conversation rather than me putting words in his mouth. He was satisfied with my summary of his position.

Which is nice to know. So anyway you can consider those answers regarding KJVonlyism confirmed.

CD-Host said...

This is a comment I made elsewhere that I figure should be linked to this article:

Gen 1:2, theum, deep salty water, pre-exists creation, this likely is in your english language bible as “the deep”. God then passes over the fresh drinkable water on the surface (mim). Gen 1:3 God becomes light, sees the light says light is good. good and separates it from the darkness. Then Gen 1:4 he separates light from darkness. Gen 1:5 he names stuff, and Gen 1:6-10 he puts a barrier (raqia translated as firmament in the KJV) splitting the preexistent waters. He gathers the lower waters together. So now you have an upper layer of drinkable water, an atmosphere, a rock layer with a sea on it and then a layer of deep water below the rock (the ocean). Then Gen 1:11-13 life starts. Gen 1:14-18 God then attaches the sun, moon and stars to the firmament (atmosphere) below the upper waters (rain water) so the earth can have light.