natural theology

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Volume 1: About

page 9:

The hypothesis


The working hypothesis here is that religion is the force that binds individual, genetically distant human beings together into a peaceful and coherent society. The plan is to examine this hypothesis in the light of the foundation of scientific faith: the divine Universe is self consistent. Consistency - Wikipedia

The world fits together. Some of this fit is clear to us. Some remains a mystery. We collectively spend tens of billions of dollars every year on efforts to explore and map more of the fit. If, as our article of faith says, the Universe all fits together, we may say that it is one, and if it is one, knowledge of any part of it contributes to knowledge of the whole.

We assume here that God and the Universe are one, open to our gaze, even if beyond our comprehension. The sciences have been very successful over the last few centuries, and have built up a vast archive of information about the world. If the world is one, this information must tell us something relevant to theology and religion

Models and reality

Traditional Christian theology places an absolute gulf between God and the world. This gulf is justified by 'proofs for the existence of God', the most famous of which were written by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. Aquinas' first proof is based on Aristotle's proof for the existence of a 'first unmoved mover'. Thomas Aquinas, Existence of God - Wikipedia

Aristotle assumed motion is the passage from potentiality to actuality. He further assumed that no potential could become actual except through the influence of something already actual. From this he concluded that nothing can move itself. Since the world does move, he was let to postulate a 'first unmoved mover' as the source of all motion. Being unmoved, the first mover must be pure actuality, containing no potential. This is consistent with the idea that God is the realization of all possibility.

Modern physics no longer sees potential as subordinate to actuality. Instead, they potentiality and actuality seem to be duals of one another, two sides as the same coin. A frictionless pendulum can convert energy from actual (kinetic) to potential and back again forever. Furthermore, quantum mechanics assumes that the world is built on the foundation of ceaseless motion described by wave mechanics. Pendulum - Wikipedia, Schrödinger equation - Wikipedia

Accepting that God is 'pure act' (actus purus) Aquinas then went on to derive the traditional properties of God, absolute simplicity, omniscience, omnipotence, eternity and so on. Here we come across another apparent barrier to identifying God and the Universe. While God as absolutely simple (omnino simplex) the Universe (including ourselves) is obviously very complex. Aquinas 20

This problem can be overcome using the mathematics of fixed point theory. Under certain conditions a dynamic system has fixed points which are nevertheless part of the dynamics although they do not move. We can therefore imagine a Universe of pure dynamics (pure act) which nevertheless has the fixed points that are responsible for the apparent complexity of the Universe. We discuss this matter in detail when we discuss modelling in the section on development. Fixed point theorem - Wikipedia, III: Development, 2: Model

Matter and spirit

Our aim is to see how human beings may work together as a coherent whole. We proceed by carrying physical ideas of coherence and binding over to the spiritual realm. To do this we first assume that there is no absolute gulf between matter and spirit, but rather that the information that defines spirit is embodied in complex physical systems. We then invoke a notion of symmetry with respect to complexity to build bridges between simple and complex systems. Complex systems, we assume, contain all the features of the simple systems within them and more.

So we hope to shine the light of science on the art of religion in the interest of peace. The devil, of course, is in the detail. First the hypothesis needs to be developed in detail, and the resulting picture compared, in detail, to the world of experience. If the hypothesis fits reality, it becomes a useful guide to practical design and construction. Engineers use physics to construct bridges. Societies use theology to construct religion and humanity.

(revised 7 August 2014)


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Aquinas 20, Summa I, 3, 7: Whether God is altogether simple? , 'I answer that, The absolute simplicity of God may be shown in many ways. First, from the previous articles of this question. For there is neither composition of quantitative parts in God, since He is not a body; nor composition of matter and form; nor does His nature differ from His "suppositum"; nor His essence from His existence; neither is there in Him composition of genus and difference, nor of subject and accident. Therefore, it is clear that God is nowise composite, but is altogether simple. . . . ' back
Aquinas 46, Whether God is eternal, 'I answer that, The idea of eternity follows immutability, as the idea of time follows movement, as appears from the preceding article. Hence, as God is supremely immutable, it supremely belongs to Him to be eternal. Nor is He eternal only; but He is His own eternity; whereas, no other being is its own duration, as no other is its own being. Now God is His own uniform being; and hence as He is His own essence, so He is His own eternity.' back
Consistency - Wikipedia, Consistency - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 'In classical deductive logic, a consistent theory is one that does not contain a contradiction. The lack of contradiction can be defined in either semantic or syntactic terms. The semantic definition states that a theory is consistent if and only if it has a model, i.e. there exists an interpretation under which all formulas in the theory are true. This is the sense used in traditional Aristotelian logic, although in contemporary mathematical logic the term satisfiable is used instead. The syntactic definition states that a theory is consistent if and only if there is no formula P such that both P and its negation are provable from the axioms of the theory under its associated deductive system.' back
Existence of God - Wikipedia, Existence of God - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 'Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others for thousands of years. In philosophical terms, such arguments involve primarily the disciplines of epistemology (the nature and scope of knowledge) and ontology (study of the nature of being, existence, or reality) and also the theory of value, since concepts of perfection are connected to notions of God. A wide variety of arguments exist which can be categorized as metaphysical, logical, empirical, or subjective. The existence of God is subject to lively debate in philosophy,[1] the philosophy of religion, and popular culture.' back
Fixed point theorem - Wikipedia, Fixed point theorem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 'In mathematics, a fixed point theorem is a result saying that a function F will have at least one fixed point (a point x for which F(x) = x), under some conditions on F that can be stated in general terms. Results of this kind are amongst the most generally useful in mathematics. The Banach fixed point theorem gives a general criterion guaranteeing that, if it is satisfied, the procedure of iterating a function yields a fixed point. By contrast, the Brouwer fixed point theorem is a non-constructive result: it says that any continuous function from the closed unit ball in n-dimensional Euclidean space to itself must have a fixed point, but it doesn't describe how to find the fixed point (See also Sperner's lemma).' back
Heracleitus - Wikipedia, Heracleitus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 'Heraclitus is famous for his insistence on ever-present change in the universe, as stated in his famous saying, "No man ever steps in the same river twice" . . . ' back
Parmenides - Wikipedia, Parmenides - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 'Parmenides of Elea (early 5th century BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Elea, a Greek city on the southern coast of Italy. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy, his only known work is a poem which has survived only in fragmentary form. In it, Parmenides describes two views of reality. In the Way of Truth, he explained how reality is one; change is impossible; and existence is timeless, uniform, and unchanging. In the Way of Opinion, he explained the world of appearances, which is false and deceitful. These thoughts strongly influenced Plato, and through him, the whole of western philosophy.' back
Pendulum - Wikipedia, Pendulum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 'A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely.[1] When a pendulum is displaced sideways from its resting equilibrium position, it is subject to a restoring force due to gravity that will accelerate it back toward the equilibrium position. When released, the restoring force combined with the pendulum's mass causes it to oscillate about the equilibrium position, swinging back and forth.' back
Schrödinger equation - Wikipedia, Schrödinger equation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 'In physics, the Schrödinger equation, proposed by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1926, describes the space- and time-dependence of quantum mechanical systems. It is of central importance in non-relativistic quantum mechanics, playing a role for microscopic particles analogous to Newton's second law in classical mechanics for macroscopic particles. Microscopic particles include elementary particles, such as electrons, as well as systems of particles, such as atomic nuclei.' back
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, 2, 3: Whether God exists?, 'I answer that, The existence of God can be proved in five ways. The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. . . . ' back is maintained by The Theology Company Proprietary Limited ACN 097 887 075 ABN 74 097 887 075 Copyright 2000-2014 © Jeffrey Nicholls