Oct 28, 2013

Numbers Prove God

October 26, 2013 4 Comments

By: Jay

When considering the question of “proofs” for the existence of God, the history of argumentation has often been lacking.  The dialectical relationship of the empirical/materialist tradition debating with the idealist/Platonic tradition is a perennial feature of the history of western philosophy.  Modern “New Atheists,” for example, are eager to pounce on flaws in the so-called “classical proofs,” as if these were the b-all, end-all of the question of rational certainty for the divine.
The chief problems with the “classical proofs” are that: 1) They do not prove what they set out to prove insofar as they are (classically) based on an empirical theological method that stems primarily from Aquinas, 2) The arguments themselves are non sequitur, where the starting points of the proofs do not logically necessitate the conclusions, and 3) The philosophical and theological assumptions implicit in the arguments are not consistent with the theological beliefs about God in the biblical system.  These three majors flaws have led to centuries of debates that were often fruitless and have allowed overly confident pseudo-philosophers and “scientists” to presume that these matters are bound up with medieval superstitions that were heroically suppressed and refuted by the rationalists of the Enlightenment era.
Ironically, this narrative itself is a modern mythos presented by the “New Atheists” and the average run-of-the-mill academicians.  The modern materialist apologists are themselves buried in a faux dialectic that ignores, suppresses and misses the real issues at hand.   It should also be remembered that ancient and medieval thinkers had not asked questions that would later be raised, and in particular, I’m thinking of more foundational philosophical questions that never entered the mind of the medieval man.  Areas of philosophy and physics that developed in the modern world, like subatomic research, phenomenology and linguistic and semiotic research were not within their purview (obviously).
With such being the case, we can assess that the classical proofs are not necessarily terrible, but flawed due to the fact that they were posited with certain presuppositions.  But what happens when, over time, philosophy and science (and theology) questions those assumptions, and asks how do we make sense of these principles themselves.   For example, all medieval thinkers utilized Ancient Greek principles of logic and geometry.   Numbers, logic, and geometric forms were assumed to be the case: It never entered Roger Bacon’s or Photios of Constantinople’s mind to ask, “How is it possible for logic and numbers to be.”
In other words, the medieval mind didn’t consider things from a meta perspective.  There is logic, but what about metalogic?  Logic functions, but is there a higher level logic to logic?  What are the necessary conditions for the possibility of logic to be at all?  One could probably trace out a deeper connection between the artistic forms that were created in different periods and the development of 3d perspectivalism on a 2d surface, compared with the philosophical and scientific questions that began to be asked in that period.  Were the developments in optics and the study of light influential on the Renaissance portrayal of 3d perspectives?  I’m sure they were.   However, it had not entered the mind of medieval man to think in meta or transcendental categories.

It is true that ancient and medieval man posited transcendental arguments: Aristotle presents one for the law of non-contradiction, as well as filling out a more specific consideration of the different categories, which do match up in certain ways to Kant’s categories, so it’s not correct to say the medievals had no idea of what a “transcendental” was, or what a transcendental kind of argument was.   It is correct to say they did not consider the various sciences and arts from the perspective of how they are possible – what the necessary conditions for the possibility of those things to be were.  When the secular scientistic revolution occurred asking a lot of these questions, western Theism marched confidently along professing the same old, tired arguments that were unprepared to meet the level of questioning the revolutionaries were asking.  Western theology was ill-equipped due to its own assumptions about God’s existence being strictly the same as His essence, Actus Purus, an absolutely simple monad, with all human predicates equalling the divine ousia itself.

Given those kinds of theological presuppositions, it was impossible to meet the onslaught of Humes and philosophes that were merely forcing the western theological assumptions to be consistent.  If God is an absolutely simple First Cause, and this (and the other “proofs”) is the extent of the “rational” evidence for His existence, then it doesn’t follow from that premise that the God presented in the Bible is that Deity.  Perhaps the First Cause is the impersonal Being of Greek thought.  Perhaps the First Cause is the theism presented in Mohammedanism.  Perhaps it is an unknown First Cause of the Enlightenment deists.  It should be evident that this argumentation as presented is useless (and actually harmful) to anyone who professes the Bible in whatever capacity, since these views are not the Biblical view, especially since Thomists, Muslims, Deists and Greek philosophers have all used this  bad argumentation.

When Etienne Gilson, the famous medievalist expounds the “I AM” of Exodus in Thomistic fashion, it is explained according to Greek philosophy, where God is revealing Himself as “Pure Being.”  Eastern patristics had similar statements, but never went on to conclude that meant God was synonymous with His existence.  And they refrained from that precisely because they knew that equating the divine essence with the absolutely simple Monad of Platonism resulted in all the same difficulties of Platonism.  So with that background, I’d like to proceed to my own reformulation of the transcendental argument in terms of the question of numbers and predication.

Delving into ancient mathematics in my graduate class on Aristotle’s metaphysics, the question of number was a crucial theme.  Both Aristotle and Plato have an important place for mathematics, and both give two famously different approaches to how invariant numerical entities relate to the objects in our realm of time and flux.  Thus, the question of numerical entities was of peculiar interest to the ancient Greeks who, according to Plato’s Timaeus, inherited their mystical and Pythagorean notions from Egyptian esoterism.  It is also in the Timaeus that we are presented with an almost miraculous knowledge of the structure of miniscule reality (Platonic solids), seemingly impossible, given the technology of that time!  Back to the argument – it occurred to me that in considering the transcendental argument for God, an overlooked, yet crucial component of this approach is the issue of numbers themselves.   For those that are well-read in Maximos the Confessor and Philip Sherrard, an even deeper insight comes to the fore.

Any time we predicate something of an object, we utilize principles and categories.  This is unavoidable and one of the things we assume is mathematical entities.  All created reality can be categorized according to unity and difference.  Thus, one and many are assumed in anything and everything.  When I say, “That table,” I am assuming a special unity of a specific object in my experience that is distinguished in that act by all other objects of perception.  One is therefore assumed in any act of predication or communication.  But “1″ itself is not just a token symbol or sociological development, it is an actual objective principle, which is made evident by the fact that predication, communication and mathematics can be done across cultures and over time.  If it were not invariant and objective, it would be subject to change like all material things.

“1″ is not just 1.  1 is also infinitely divisible.  Even Xeno was aware of the possibility that space could potentially be divided infinitely, and the result of this is that infinity is actually present at every point.  When I say “point” here, I am referring to the Pythagorean and Platonic idea of the monad or point in geometric space and/or time.   The 1 is therefore not merely 1, since it can be divided infinitely, it also encompasses an infinite potentiality within itself, as well as infinite potential relations to all other unities or objects.  This is a peculiar problem for materialists especially, because for a materialist with the standard empiricist assumptions, the only “rational” thing to acknowledge is whatever can be (supposedly) retained from immediate sense experience.  But even back to Berkeley’s time, it was posited that infinity is surely a mathematical reality, yet no one has a direct sensuous experience of anything infinite.

So how can we assume something that is present at every point, as well as in every act of predication, that is completely a fiction?  In other words, not only is there a transcendental unity of an object that must be assumed for anything in our world to make sense or for communication to be possible, 1 itself necessitates the infinity of other numbers.  Does not 1 contain .1, .2, etc?  Of course it does, and as I showed in my Egyptian metaphysics paper, the basic energetic structure of our world seems to operate on that binary mathematical principle of I, 0, or energy/being and non-being.  This means that predication necessitates 1, which necessitates not only that “1,” but all other numbers, too, unless someone wanted to be so absurd as to say that only “1″ exists, while 2, 3, etc., are illusory (which would be impossible, since 2, 3, etc., are made up of combined 1s: 1 + 1 = 2).


Read the full article at - http://jaysanalysis.com/2013/10/26/numbers-prove-god/#comments