Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Science and Omniscience

When Patrick notices that he has overlooked something, he knows what it is like for him to notice that, but it seems odd that an omniscient being should know that... Unless that being was Patrick's creator (to whom he need be no less transparent than his own conceptions are to him) perhaps; but did Patrick overlook anything?
......Let SDL = God doesn't believe that SDL expresses a true proposition. On page 145 of The being that knew too much, Patrick argued that a rational person who believes that SDL is nonsense, and also that God believes only truths, would have to believe that God doesn't believe that SDL expresses a true proposition, whence (since that appears to be SDL) that rational person would believe that there was a truth (expressed by SDL, apparently) that God doesn't know... but appearances can be deceptive. Why should any rational person believe that nonsense could express a true proposition? (I argue here that sentences like SDL are nonsense, and as Michael said:) “You can’t say you are talking nonsense by talking nonsense, since to talk nonsense is not to say anything. But having talked nonsense, you can go on to say that it was nonsense, and now you are talking sense.

......Anyway, bad arguments against omniscience (e.g. those that work only within set theory) aside, the following is an argument against it that goes (paradoxically) via a possible motive for the creation of a world not unlike that described by our best-tested science (an argument given more briefly earlier): Something that no sapient being (or telepathic beings, etc.) could possibly know is the full extent of what s/he doesn't (they don't) know. How could s/he rule out, for example, the existence of similar beings of which s/he was unaware? Maybe there are none (and if some, then there is something s/he doesn't know), and maybe s/he even believes that there are definitely none (although that would be foolish), but how could s/he know that? No one can have empirical access to places that are completely cut off from those s/he inhabits (by definition), so s/he could not know empirically that such places (which s/he knows are of a possible kind, since s/he inhabits one) are not inhabited by such beings (of which kind s/he is one), and how else could such propositions (about what would be, by definition, an external world) be known?
......So, even a relatively perfect being (which is, after all, the sort that we might expect to exist, much as we might expect a unified theory of physics to be elegant) might know that s/he could not be so absolutely omniscient. And rather than remaining ignorant, it would surely be better to be able to create ways of probing such unknowns (for which s/he would need to be able to change, and so exist in something like time, but since this would be better, that need not be a privation), whence s/he might want to explore such possibilities (as much as possible) by creating opportunities (insofar as s/he is capable) for such possible others to act (in some place to which s/he would therefore have empirical access:)
......Such a creator would therefore be perfectly compatible with all we know scientifically (and also religiously (to a less definite degree (naturally)))... A list of agreements would therefore be tedious, in a blog (here I'd rather ask, what is incompatible with that hypothesis?); but in short, if it was me I'd want first to find the limits of my natural place, insofar as I could discover such limits (and if not, I'd want to invent some), so that then I could make something like a bridge there (if I didn't discover something like that there already), something like a blank sheet of paper—something, in short, like this Universe, in which relatively simple physical laws allow a wide variety of agents, with little need for intervention (whence atheists note that if there is a God, he must be lazy). Of course, it may well be that there are no such others, that the quest would be endless; but therefore I'd make my paper (so to speak) beautiful, and recyclable (e.g. by having my creatures all return to my place for debriefing:) One day my walls might be found scribbled upon though, so I'd've built them to facilitate a wide range of responses too...

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