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God is subject to praxeology

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gravyten577 Posted: Thu, Apr 4 2013 6:33 PM

Has anyone applied praxeology when it comes to God. Since praxeology deals with purposeful action it should apply as much to immortal beings as to humans. For a while I have thought that humans might be a means to an end rather than an end in themselves (most religions assume God made humans out of love and man is God's greatest creation). For example God is waiting for humans to come up with an invention that God for whatever reason can't make for itself. Humans may be able to do things that God can't the same way a computer can do things that a human can't. Humans are, however, superior to computers and God is superior to humans. The reason I assume that humans can do things that God can't is because if this wasn't true, there would be no reason for the existance of humans. After all it is only because computers can do things that humans can't that computers came into existance. Another example would be any tool or domestic animals that can do things that humans can't, even though domesticated animals may perform functions that humans can't humans are still superior to all domesticated animals. An example would be a dog that can sniff out cancer or a silk worm that makes silk. A better example would be bacteria induced to evolve capabilities that benefit humans.  It is then concievable that humans can do things that God is incapable of doing.

 

Most ancient religions had a kind of sense that the reason for the gods basically allowing humans to exist is so that humans would provide sacrifices for the gods. On the other hand most modern religions say that God exists in mysterious ways that we are basically too dumb to understand. Mabye both of these are true. The ancients understood that humans existed to serve the gods but they didn't understand why, so they decided their purpose must be to burn insense or crops or sacrifice other human beings.

 

One possibility, not saying I really believe this, is that lets say in the year 1 million AD humans develop an energy source to fuel human civilization. The byproduct of this energy fuels God, this is the purpose for man kinds existance. While humans a million years in the future do this out of their own self interest this also benefits God.

 

We have no way of understanding what God's actual goals are but if we assume that God exists (just assume it as a mental excersise) then we could say that the universe is driven toward some final goal. To apply praxeology to God we don't have to assume that God has any human like emotions. Many religious people won't like this but if we make the claim that the universe or human beings are imperfect then we have to say that God is also imperfect because God is supposedly the force that brought the universe into motion. If we assume that the universe is headed toward some goal then we must also say that God cannot instantaneously bring about any goal it wants but must work through a series of stages. For example God didn't make human being out of clay but rather had a plan during the beginning of the universe and set forces in motion that would eventually bring about the existance of human beings.

 

A lot of things about praxeology is probably way over my head and I need to study more but I think praxeology might do more to explain the nature of God rather than disprove God. All we have to do is take away the idea that God is almighty. This also means that God is also subject to natural laws and that God itself is part of nature. It is also very possible that multiple gods exist or something along the lines that our dimension has a god but other dimensions have other gods and the god of our dimension is subject to higher gods. the posablities are endless. The point of this post, however, is that I think God or gods would be as much subject to praxeology as human beings. Praxeology doesn't disprove God but only shows that it is not omnipotent

 

In a way this doesn't really contradict the bible because the bible said that God made the Earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th and many religious people interpret this in different ways saying it wasn't really days but millions of years or whatever. But however you interpret this it means God can't bring about anything it wants by blinking like I dream of Jeanie and bringing about any condition it wants. Mabye God did set the conditions where human beings would come into existance out of love for humans. Not saying I believe that just saying that is one possibility. Even then this assumes that humans evolved from lower animals

 

Is God subject to time preferences?

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I don't have time to give an in depth answer now, but Mises addresses omnipotence and omniscience in Human Action. Follow this link and after it's loaded, search for "omniscience". The section is titled "The Limitations on Praxeological Concepts".

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Apr 4 2013 6:56 PM
It depends on what kind of god you're talking about. Mises makes it clear in one of the more theoretical sections of human action that the psychology a truly omnipotent and omniscient being is utterly unknowable to creatures with limited knowledge. An all-powerful being could achieve all his goals in a single instant and then remain forever in a state of perfect satisfaction. A less than perfect being has all the traditional praxeological problems, since they are really just more powerful humans.
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You might be interested in https://mises.org/community/forums/t/1137.aspx

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baxter replied on Thu, Apr 4 2013 7:21 PM

>Has anyone applied praxeology when it comes to God.

"But in elaborating these ideas the philosophers failed to see that a concept of deity that implies an acting God, that is, a God behaving in the way man behaves in acting, is self-contradictory... But for an almighty supreme being there cannot be any dissatisfaction with the prevailing state of affairs. The Almighty does not act, because there is no state of affairs that he cannot render fully satisfactory without any action, i.e., without resorting to any means. For Him there is no such thing as a distinction between ends and means. It is anthropomorphism to ascribe action to God. Starting from the limitations of his human nature, man's discursive reasoning can never circumscribe and define the essence of omnipotence."

-Ludwig von Mises, http://mises.org/books/ultimate.pdf pp. 2-3

>One possibility, not saying I really believe this, is that lets say in the year 1 million AD humans develop an energy source to fuel human civilization. The byproduct of this energy fuels God, this is the purpose for man kinds existance. While humans a million years in the future do this out of their own self interest this also benefits God.

That sounds a lot like the Omega Point " the universe is constantly developing towards higher levels of material complexity and consciousness, a theory of evolution that Teilhard called the Law of Complexity/Consciousness. For Teilhard, the universe can only move in the direction of more complexity and consciousness if it is being drawn by a supreme point of complexity and consciousness" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega_Point

Interesting stuff, but I don't see a way to prove or disprove it.

 

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baxter replied on Thu, Apr 4 2013 7:42 PM

>The reason I assume that humans can do things that God can't is because if this wasn't true, there would be no reason for the existance of humans.

A sadder possibility is that the universe is some giant computer, perhaps a quantum computer, performing some calculation. The humans that evolve along the way are unwanted artifacts - parasites - that can be neglected because their low-mass bodies and low-mass inventions draw away only a negligible amount of the computing power.

Another possibility is that we are in an ancestor-simulation made by the true humans: http://www.simulation-argument.com/

Is it unethical for God to create a simulated ant farm, or a "Bottleworld", and leave the sentient residents therein unaware of their situation and unable to protest? http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/46100dde1b135

 

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The kind of god I am talking about of course is a god that is not omnipotent and experiences uneasiness and thus acts and uses means to attain some end or various ends and under these assumptions is subject to praxeology. This does not mean that God experiences any human emotions

 

I also assume God uses round about processes to attain it's goals similar to what Bohm Bawerk talks about. The fact that human beings are capable of inquring and learning about the enviroment around them to me shows that humans are not just an accident. Humans might even be able to think in ways God isn't able to think in the same way a computer can do calculations that a human cannot do. This would also mean that God is able to think in ways that a human could never comprehend just as human thoughts are far above and beyond a mere computer

 

The idea that God is subject to limitations might not make any sense but the very existance of the universe in the first place makes no sense. Still the idea that God is subject to limitations and must work through several round about stages to reach some end is as good an explanation of why the universe works as any i.e. evolution. Mises said that praxeology doesn't apply to an omnipotent God but it would apply to a god under the assumptions I gave

 

@ Baxter thanks for tellilng me about Omega Point. I know nothing about praxeology, philosophy, science or theology these are just some thoughts I was having. I'll look into Omega point

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Has anyone applied praxeology when it comes to God. Since praxeology deals with purposeful action it should apply as much to immortal beings as to humans. For a while I have thought that humans might be a means to an end rather than an end in themselves (most religions assume God made humans out of love and man is God's greatest creation). For example God is waiting for humans to come up with an invention that God for whatever reason can't make for itself. Humans may be able to do things that God can't the same way a computer can do things that a human can't. Humans are, however, superior to computers and God is superior to humans. The reason I assume that humans can do things that God can't is because if this wasn't true, there would be no reason for the existance of humans. After all it is only because computers can do things that humans can't that computers came into existance. Another example would be any tool or domestic animals that can do things that humans can't, even though domesticated animals may perform functions that humans can't humans are still superior to all domesticated animals. An example would be a dog that can sniff out cancer or a silk worm that makes silk. A better example would be bacteria induced to evolve capabilities that benefit humans.  It is then concievable that humans can do things that God is incapable of doing.

 

Most ancient religions had a kind of sense that the reason for the gods basically allowing humans to exist is so that humans would provide sacrifices for the gods. On the other hand most modern religions say that God exists in mysterious ways that we are basically too dumb to understand. Mabye both of these are true. The ancients understood that humans existed to serve the gods but they didn't understand why, so they decided their purpose must be to burn insense or crops or sacrifice other human beings.

 

One possibility, not saying I really believe this, is that lets say in the year 1 million AD humans develop an energy source to fuel human civilization. The byproduct of this energy fuels God, this is the purpose for man kinds existance. While humans a million years in the future do this out of their own self interest this also benefits God.

 

We have no way of understanding what God's actual goals are but if we assume that God exists (just assume it as a mental excersise) then we could say that the universe is driven toward some final goal. To apply praxeology to God we don't have to assume that God has any human like emotions. Many religious people won't like this but if we make the claim that the universe or human beings are imperfect then we have to say that God is also imperfect because God is supposedly the force that brought the universe into motion. If we assume that the universe is headed toward some goal then we must also say that God cannot instantaneously bring about any goal it wants but must work through a series of stages. For example God didn't make human being out of clay but rather had a plan during the beginning of the universe and set forces in motion that would eventually bring about the existance of human beings.

 

A lot of things about praxeology is probably way over my head and I need to study more but I think praxeology might do more to explain the nature of God rather than disprove God. All we have to do is take away the idea that God is almighty. This also means that God is also subject to natural laws and that God itself is part of nature. It is also very possible that multiple gods exist or something along the lines that our dimension has a god but other dimensions have other gods and the god of our dimension is subject to higher gods. the posablities are endless. The point of this post, however, is that I think God or gods would be as much subject to praxeology as human beings. Praxeology doesn't disprove God but only shows that it is not omnipotent

 

In a way this doesn't really contradict the bible because the bible said that God made the Earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th and many religious people interpret this in different ways saying it wasn't really days but millions of years or whatever. But however you interpret this it means God can't bring about anything it wants by blinking like I dream of Jeanie and bringing about any condition it wants. Mabye God did set the conditions where human beings would come into existance out of love for humans. Not saying I believe that just saying that is one possibility. Even then this assumes that humans evolved from lower animals

 

Is God subject to time preferences?

 

Fascinating subject. I've thought about this myself a little.

In medieval and maybe ancient philosophy God or the gods were thought to act. For instance, Plato said "the first mover moves himself" and Aquinas agreed with that characterization in some of his works. Catholics even characterize the spiration of Trinitarian Persons as types of divine actions (like understanding, speaking, etc.). Therefore, if there is a God, then it seems likely that he acts. And yet if he acts, then isn't he subject to succession, time-preference, etc.? And don't these qualities contradict his supposed eternity, etc.?

Let me criticize your OP, since I want to analyze the points brought up in finer detail:

(1) I agree that obviously humans can do things that God cannot do, like having sex for instance. Does that make him a limited being? In the sense that everything has definitive limits then yes, but that doesn't mean that a God cannot be infinite -we just have to switch definitions of "infinite". I think religious people err in thinking that God is truly limitless, since then their theology would be pantheist and not traditionally theist. Nor do I think the ancient or medieval philosophers conceived of God in these terms. What they probably meant, IMO, was that God's being was higher than any other conceivable thing in that he could not be classed in any other genus of being. So there could be things larger or prettier than God but not, as an existing thing, something as permanent or independent of antecedent causes for existing.

(2) I don't think that the crappiness of the universe is an indication of God's limitations. It is, for instance, possible that an all-powerful creator could simply create a less-than-ideal universe (the two things are not, immediately logically contradictions).

 

(3) More interestingly, can God be God and still have time-preferences, choice, or uncertainty? It is possible for God, I think, to will that he make decisions one after another for instance, "I will to only answer this guy's prayers, just in case he does pray". It's possible also to say, "Even though I know something will happen in the future, I'll wait until that thing happens and only act then, because I also infallibly know that if I do so, a greater good would acrue". And it is possible for him to decide to act in that way for all eternity and so, his eternal existence need not imply his eternal interest -at least not in every aspect of creation. But could God be God and suffer uncertainty? Mises, defined uncertainty as the objective possibility of differing outcomes necessary for the possbility of choice. If this is uncertainty, then God could be said to suffer uncertainty in that God does have free choice and he could have produced a good deal of universes/beings and yet he settled on the ones that actually exist for unspecified reasons. Perhaps this is the objective possibility that mises described in the case of humans.

(4) In the end, although I don't think that God need be shorn of his almightiness, I do think that God could be subject to time-preferences. This is especially obvious if one believes that it is possible to appease God; after all, by doing this one is trying to promise God a greater value in the future (via moral changes) to cover the sparse value you are giving now.

That's just my opinions though. I hope that they didn't sound too new agey.

 

 

 

 

 

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It is a contradiction to believe that an almighty being would create a universe with crappy qualities. Not saying that the universe itself is crappy, I'm glad the universe exists, just saying its not perfect. The very fact that everything in the universe, including inorganic matter, seems to be striving for some end shows evidence that God must work through several stages to attain it's goals.

 

I feel I can say with absolute certainty that if God designed an imperfect universe then God itself is imperfect. I might start praying and saying thanks for God for all its good work but the state of the world itself is proof that God is imperfect. We don't even know what God's goals are.

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It is a contradiction to believe that an almighty being would create a universe with crappy qualities. Not saying that the universe itself is crappy, I'm glad the universe exists, just saying its not perfect. The very fact that everything in the universe, including inorganic matter, seems to be striving for some end shows evidence that God must work through several stages to attain it's goals.

I don't see the contradiction. Perhaps you mean that the perfection of the cause is reflected in the perfection of the effect, and so the bad effect must indicate a bad cause. However, in what sense is God the cause of the universe? I mean, I suppose it is essential to a plant to produce lilke plants but if we assume that God did not essentially need to make the universe, then the analogy b/t him and the plant fails. Therefore, the imperfection of the universe need not point out some imperfect God.

But again, you might mean something different, yes?

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For one thing, as Mises pointed out, if God was perfect it would never need to act in the first place. If the universe as we see it is a result of purposeful action by God this would be evidence of imperfection because it means God is trying to undo some uneasiness

 

A perfect God means a God that never acts

 

Edit: Made a mistake in saying God created the universe. What I was trying to say was that God somehow moved the universe in the direction it is moving.

 

Edit again: I have taken a deist view that God somehow got things rolling at the beginning and never intervenes. However even if God does intervene this intervention itself would be proof of God's imperfection because God, by intervening, is performing action and thus trying to alleviate some uneasiness.

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fakename replied on Thu, Apr 4 2013 11:11 PM

For one thing, as Mises pointed out, if God was perfect it would never need to act in the first place. If the universe as we see it is a result of purposeful action by God this would be evidence of imperfection because it means God is trying to undo some uneasiness

 

   IMO, an acting God can still feel "uneasiness" in the praxeological sense. For instance, God can compare different choices and choose the best option however he will always choose the best option and thus there is no "felt" uneasiness but there is desire to do good opposing the ultimately absurd but still hypothetical choice to do evil. Plus a good God, even if he didn't create anything, would still have what philosophers classed as "operations" which are actions that never leave the actor (like willing or thinking), because every perfectly formed thing has operations (although I'm not very learned on the need to distinguish actions that tend to externals and those that don't). Anyways, God's operations are acts like loving himself or knowing himself. So such actions would still have to take place but not manifest itself as unease but simply as desire.

 

So here we are confronted with choice as purposeful behavior w/o unease and choice as purposeful behavior w/unease.

 

Btw, I hope I'm not derailing the thread? Our conversation seems to do with the subject but perhaps only tangentially.

 

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Neodoxy replied on Sat, Apr 6 2013 1:59 AM

1. Why is this meant to be a discussion? If god is less than omnipotent/omniscient then the normal rules of praxeology apply to him just as surely as they do to man because the relevant factors that give rise to praxeology have not been alleviated.

2."It is a contradiction to believe that an almighty being would create a universe with crappy qualities. Not saying that the universe itself is crappy, I'm glad the universe exists, just saying its not perfect. The very fact that everything in the universe, including inorganic matter, seems to be striving for some end shows evidence that God must work through several stages to attain it's goals."

This is, of course, assuming that the universe is imperfect according to god's vision of the universe, which you likely would not know.

 

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