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September 16, 2016


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He wrote:

"What about a supernatural God? Perhaps such an entity exists outside nature and its laws. If so, how would we detect it with our instruments? If a deity used natural forces to, say, cure someone’s cancer by reprogramming the cancerous cells’ DNA, that would make God nothing more than a skilled genetic engineer. If God used unknown supernatural forces, how might they interact with the known natural forces? And if such supernatural forces could somehow stir the particles in our universe, shouldn’t we be able to detect them and thereby incorporate them into our theories about the natural world? Whence the supernatural?"

Well, why should we detect it with our instruments? The scientist here seems to assume that whatever the supernatural cure could consist of, it must (it is obliged to) pass through our reality in order to have effect, that is, in order to obtain. But this is just his idea.

In fact he says "how might they interact with the known natural forces? " That's the point. We can't be completely sure that they have to interact with our Universe's laws in order to have an effect on the person who has a cancer. The healing might take place directly on the disease (taken as an entity, a being), skipping our physics laws.

Why on earth should God need to interact with our physical laws to be able to do anything? This scientist seems to me to be looking at the world in the only possible way he may look at it, that is, from a scientific point of view. Alas, that is all he can do.

...And so, "Mesmerized by sirens" does what all other religious apologists do, which is to say that god (or whatever mystical, mythical being they talk about. And yes, I did not capitalize "god" on purpose) doesn't have to interact with our physical world to make things happen. However, these "things" happen to be ALL physical, meaning that the affect us, therefore must be physical. Mesmerized gives the example of "The healing might take place directly on the disease (taken as an entity, a being), skipping our physics laws". Um, no, because the disease IS physical, therefore the healing MUST take place within the physical laws. And, most people who praise god for being cured of cancer (or any other disease) tend to say things like "After months of chemo, God granted me more life." No, it was the chemo that did it, if anything...
And, I'd like to ask Mesmerized, how can you account for all the people with cancer who are NOT healed, no matter how much people may pray for them? I guess god does not care that much for most people.

I'll start answering to your last question Eric. I do not know why God (or god, that's not offensive at all for me to write the word that way) doesn't reply to his/her prayers. This is is unscrutable. I don't believe that the aim of prayers should be that of obtaining a material benefit (bread, clothes, wealth, a beautiful wife, etc) so i am the least skilled person to give you the answer you asked of me.

As for the first question, you say "Um, no, because the disease IS physical, therefore the healing MUST take place within the physical laws".

Here, you seem to accept what is termed "physicalism" - that is, that the whole of Reality is physical and consists in material things. I do not agree with this view. God is certainly able to cure that disease without having to pass through our physcial laws. What makes you believe that our physical laws are the FIRST step or level of existence?

God can cure that disease using his Will. The will of God comes before the physical laws.
Maybe you may deem that what i am writing here is a fairy-tale but it is not so. Several philosophers have argued that as well. Try to read the later writing of Schelling for instance, to get an idea.

Also, suppose that God exists. You certainly can't perceive it now, so why do you think you should be entitled to perceive him while he is curing that disease? You seem to think that when he is manipulating the atoms and molecules of that cancer you should notice his work. Why do you think so?

Shermer sounds very certain of himself. I respect that and admire it but I wonder how many other people have pronounced truths they thought wpoukd stand the test of time only for them to be later found wrong. This doesn't mean Shermer is wrong, he may not be, but who knows what the future will hold?

We are learning things all the time. I remember being a kid and being told that you only get so many brain cells and that once you're brain damaged, that's that. Now we are constantly learning about how plastic the brain is, how it is much more resilient than we ever imagined.

I don't expect there is a god or an afterlife but I think of all the things we long didn't know and have to wonder. Is that a cop out on my part? Maybe. I just am less comfortable with my own certainty.

Mike, I think we need to be just as stern in not believing as they are in believing in god.

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