More from Mortimer Adler

For those wishing to read to the end of Mortimer Adler's book (previously discussed here), his main theme is that the power of conceptual human thought is unduplicated anywhere else in the Universe. "It is the immaterial component in his constitution that makes him a person, requires his special creation, gives him the hope of immortality, and endows him with freedom of choice" (p. 287). Neither computers, "intelligent" animals such as chimpanzees or dolphins, or "instinctual" ways of communicating like the honeybee dances possess these characteristics. If, in the future, an intelligent computer is created that possesses full human intelligence, according to Adler, these four dogmas of Catholicism would be hard to maintain:

 1. The dogma of man's personality; that man and man alone is made in the image of God, and has this special character among all terrestrial creatures by virtue of his having a spiritual aspect, or a non-material component in his nature.

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 2. The dogma of man's special creation: that the origin of the human race as a whole, and the coming to be of each human individual, cannot be adequately accounted for by the operation of purely natural causes that are operative in biological processes of reproduction or procreation, but requires the intervention of divine causality.

 3. The dogma of individual immortality or of a life hereafter for the individual human person: that the human soul, unlike the souls of other living things, is capable of subsisting apart from the body, even though for the perfection of human life, it needs to be re-united with the body that God resurrects from the ashes of this earthly life.

 4. The dogma of free will and moral responsibility: that man is morally responsible for his compliance with or transgression of God's will by virtue of his having the power of free choice between good and evil, between loving God or turning away from him.

 I originally read Adler's book many years ago. It even prompted me to become interested in computer intelligence and to write a thesis, "Transformational Grammar and Computer Models of Intelligence" when I was at DePaul. When the Catechism was published in the early 1990s, I was not surprised to see that the ideas in Adler's summary above were central to the architecture of the catechism itself. That's why I thought it important to bring this book to the attention of America's readers; it represents an achievement in connecting Catholic thought with over 2,000 years of philosophy and science, and suggests to us a possible challenge in the future.

William Van Ornum

 

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Joseph Ulicki
7 years 5 months ago
(Part 1 of)

Hello Marie,
Regarding the 1st 2nd of the 4 paragraphs in your comment #29. 

1.)  No, a literal reading of genesis does NOT require ''that one believe that the earth is the universe'' 

Genesis tells us: 
''In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth'' (Genesis 1:1)
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1:1&version=NIV

See also:
When God made something out of nothing  Day 1
by Russell Grigg
http://creation.com/when-god-made-something-out-of-nothing-day-1

2.)  There is no conflict between science and the Bible. Conflict arises when some people do not believe God fully.
 ''God ... does not lie'' (Titus 1:2 NIV)

God tells us: 
i.) that He created: 
    e.g.
    Exodus 20:1,11  
    The Ten Commandments
   ''1  And God spoke all these words:
       ...
    11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth,
         the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.
         Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.''
and 
i.) God tells us the Super-natural method He used to create:
     ''By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
      their starry host by the breath of his mouth.''
Psalm 33:6 (NIV)

(End of part 1 of 2)

Joseph Ulicki
7 years 5 months ago
(Part 2 of 2)

Hello Marie,

Regarding paragraphs 3 & 4 of the 4 paragraphs in your comment #29.

3.) How true and accurate is the Bible?
 
    "... the words of the LORD are flawless, 

      like silver purified in a crucible, 
      like gold refined seven times."
      Psalm 12:6 (NIV)     

A summary 
of some Catholic magisterial teachings includes the following:



- God created everything “in its whole substance” from nothing (ex nihilo) in the beginning.
  (Lateran IV; Vatican Council I)
- Genesis does not contain purified myths. (Pontifical Biblical Commission 1909)
- Genesis contains real history - it gives an account of things that really happened. (Pius XII)
- Adam and Eve were real human beings—the first parents of all mankind. (Pius XII)

See: Creation Doctrine   What Does The Catholic Church Teach about Origins?



4.) God does not give us an option of accepting only parts of His word as true:
     e.g.


i.) "All Scripture is God-breathed  

     and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,"
     2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) 



ii.) "God, ... does not lie" (Titus 1:2 NIV)




Where should we get our moral truths?  

Exodus 20: 1-3
The Ten Commandments
" 1  And God spoke all these words:
  2  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
  3  “You shall have no other gods before me."


And St. Peter tells us Who
should we go to: 


John 6:66-68 (NIV)
" From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
  'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve.
   Simon Peter answered him, 
   'Lord, to whom shall we go?
   You have the words of eternal life.' "
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John6:66-68&version=NIV




Joseph Ulicki
7 years 5 months ago
Correction (underlined)
to (part 2 of 2)


And St. Peter tells us Who 
we should go to: 


John 6:66-68 (NIV)
" From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
  'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve.
   Simon Peter answered him, 
   'Lord, to whom shall we go?
   You have the words of eternal life.' "
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John6:66-68&version=NIV
 
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
Joseph,

I am not sure that either of us will be convinced by the other that one of us is wrong.  We will have to agree to disagree, especially in light of the fact that this discussion is off topic for this thread which has to do with isolating the quality or qualities that distinguishe human beings from the rest of creation and the impact, if any, on Catholic teaching.  I presume that your position is that there can be no impact and we must make the facts fit our understanding as obtained from reading the Bible.

 
Rhett Segall
7 years 5 months ago
As a general response to the uniqueness and dignity of humans vis a vis the rest of creation I submit the following datum:

Humans do not put animals on trial for criminal prosecution. I submit this is pecause humans have an a priori recognition that human freedom alone admits of culpability. A few months back a whale at an amusement center in Florida killed its long time trainor. No trial with prosecutor and defense attorney was set up. This is because it is common sense that humans alone are moral beings.

This superiority of humans over animals is not to denigrate the rest of creation. It is simply to affirm the uniqueness and specialness of humanity.
Joseph Ulicki
7 years 5 months ago

Hello Norman,

6,000 years or 4.5 billions years?

In #8 you wrote:
''... if a believer says that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago, the scientist is justified in correcting the believer, and saying that it was created about 4.5 billion years ago.''

The creation of ''the heavens and the earth'' (Genesis 1:1)  approximately 6,000 ago, is derived from Scriptural chronology, as authored by God, who was there, and recorded for people observing things ... from Earth. 

Time is not a constant,
and is affected by where the observer is, speed, and gravity:

''Clocks at top of tall buildings, where gravity is slightly less, run slightly faster than those at the bottom, just as predicted by the equations of general relativity (GR). . . . 'billions of years' would be available for light to reach the Earth (in the frame of reference w(in the frame of within which it is travelling in deep space), for stars to age, etc.- while less than an ordinary day passes on Earth.''
See: How can we see distant stars in a young universe? by Dr. Wieland and Dr. Dan Batten
and
How can light get to us from stars which are millions of light-years away in a universe which the Bible claims is only thousands of years old?
http://christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c005.html 

Also, God expanding the universe (stretching out the heavens) is mentioned numerous times in the Bible:
e.g.
Isaiah 45:12
''It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it.
 My own hands stretched out the heavens;
 I marshaled their starry hosts.
(See also Jeremiah 10:12 ,  Jeremiah 51:15 )

Distant stars and a young universe?
God, and now science, are saying yes.


 
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
Joseph, would you mind explaining away the evidence that the earth itself is older than 6,000 years?
Joseph Ulicki
7 years 5 months ago
Hello Marie,

Regarding the age of the Earth:
''Many worldwide natural processes indicate an age for the earth of 10,000 years or less. These include population kinetics, influx of radiocarbon into earth’s atmosphere, absence of meteorites from the geologic column, and decay of earth’s magnetic field.''
See:
Creation Doctrine 
What Does The Catholic Church Teach about Origins
What Does Cutting-Edge Science Teach about Origins?

 
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
Joseph, I think that taking this thread to debate creationism will take us too far from its original intent.  However, the website you cite states the following: 
"The specific complexity of genetic information in the genome does not increase spontaneously. Therefore, there is no natural process whereby reptiles can turn into birds, land mammals into whales, or chimpanzees into human beings."

I don't think this properly describes the premise of evolutionary theory.  The theory does not claim that the genome increased spontaneously.  It does not say that reptiles turned into birds, for example.  It says that creatures that share characteristics now evolved from a common ancestor that had those characteristics.  Furthermore, more is being learned about genes that are present but unused in humans and other creatures.  Some of these are "turned on" by environmental triggers and "turn off" when they are not needed.

We could argue each assertion point by point, but the larger question is "why does this matter?".  Do you have to believe in the literal description of creation in the Bible for some reason?
Joseph Ulicki
7 years 5 months ago
Marie, 
you asked:
''... why does this matter?''. Do you have to believe in the literal description of creation in the Bible for some reason?''

Believing the literal description of creation in the Bible matters
because:

''If everything made itself through natural processes - without God - then God does not own us and has no right to tell us how to live. In fact, God does not really exist in this way of thinking, so there is no absolute basis for morality.

Without God, anything goes - concepts of right and wrong are just a matter of opinion. And without a basis for morality, there is no such thing as sin. And no sin means that there is no need to fear God’s judgment and there is no need for the Savior, Jesus Christ.

The history in the Bible is vital for properly understanding why one needs to accept Jesus Christ.
... 
Conclusion
... what one believes concerning the book of Genesis will ultimately determine what one believes about the rest of the Bible. This, in turn, will affect how a person views himself or herself, fellow human beings, and what life is all about, including their need for salvation.''

Reference:
What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?
Why Does It Matter?
Conclusion
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/what-happened-to-the-dinosaurs

Genesis 1-11 (NIV)
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis1-11&version=NIV 

 
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
Joseph,

Among other things, a literal reading of Genesis requires that one believe that the earth is the universe, that the sky is dome and that light and dark were made before the sun and moon were installed in the dome.

Many people who believe in God believe that natural processes are the method and that God is the cause.  They do not see a conflict between science and the Bible that these sources you cite do.

What you are saying is if the Bible is not 100% accurate regarding Creation, then none of it is accurate.  However, the Catholic Church specifically teaches that the truth is not just found in Scripture but also in ourselves and nature apart from ourselves.

Why is it not possible to see moral truth in the the story of Creation while not believing it to be an accurate description of Creation?  I just finished looking at the Greek pantheon with my daughter whose history class is studying this.  The pantheon is full of archetypes that express the same moral truths found in the Bible.  Since we believe these gods and goddesses to false, does that mean that there are no moral truths?
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Marie,

1. Don't know. We can imagine Harry Potter land and Middle Earth. Are they real? But in imagining an entity infinite and perfect, we are generalizing beyond our senses from hints given to us....didn't philosophers tackle this one?

2. Yes. I think some/many can, sometimes in ways we don't understand. Same with SOME people in comas and brain injury. I think Aquinas said something about the brain being a necessary but not sufficient condition for our power of conceptual thought. Meaning-the "person" and "soul" are still there despite inability of expression.

(I do not want to set off a thread of "Ameriflaming"...but isn't the Catholic teaching on the soul and immortality woven into pro-life teaching? CS Lewis has said that the two most important events on Earth are when you meet another person or receive the Eucharist; in each case you are encountering immortality.

So Adler would caution us, beware of attempts to remove the spiritual and immaterial aspect from human functioning-as this for SOME may be a green light for abortions, euthanasia, etc.) This is another reason I think our review of this topic is an important one.

3. As far as I can tell, Adler would have to say that this new life form has an immaterial component. There is a science fiction series abour how some weird life form is discovered six light years away and Jesuits travel to do some evangelizing. I forget the name of the books/author. Maybe someone will recall. It is, however, a very strange tale.

Whew! Time for coffee....thanks Marie, good questions, bill
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Thanks, Norm, I think you hit open the essence of some of the big issues.

I understand how one can describe Adler as a "Creationist." However, without looking up various definitions of what it means to be a "Creationist," I would suspect this is an unfair term to use in reference to Adler. Many "Creationists" seem to ignore science and do not attempt to reconcile contradictions between their faith and science.

Adler on the other hand was known also as a philosopher of science, one who studied the empirical method and its limitation. He grappled with these issues for his entire life, I suspect at a level most of us can't imagaine, and finally converted to Chrisitianity in his 90s. So he is one who is open to the wisdom of the past and the empirical findings in front of us now. So to me he's not a Creationist, but perhaps you and others are correct, and I am de-evolving into a dinsosaur of sorts. :-)

When (if) humankind creates life from immaterial components. Yes, Houston, we have a problem. Perhaps this is why this topic is avoided. So perhaps he has staked everything on the wrong hand of cards in the most important poker game being played. (I use this as a serious analogy as we are dealing with probabilities here.)

One thing I like about Adler is that he appears to understand many different viewpoints, and has read and studied carefully everyone. Again, I think he's an example of the kind of education needed in Catholic Universities, and I suspect he's a writer Newman would smile kindly upon. Fordham Press made a good choice issuing his book.

Perhaps the statement you cite of Gould citing Pius XII is one that pulls together various components without setting up an intellectual confrontation. Gosh, you've done a ton of reading since Monday.

thanks, bill

we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
David and Marie,

A new idea, the soul as garage door opener, enters the langauage..I like this better than the ghost in the machine...OED?    amdg, bill
7 years 5 months ago
Bill,  I think the books you are referring to are two by Mary Doria Russell:  "The Sparrow" and its sequel, "The Children of God".  Russell is a paleoanthropologist/author and a Jewish convert from Catholicism and atheisim. The title of "The Sparrow" comes from Mathew's ...not even a sparrow falls to the earth without God knowing it.  Her theme is that God intervenes in HX and our need for Grace.  The books are S/F with a heavy dose of spirituality.  She looked at the HX of first contacts made by missionaries, eg. the Jesuit Black Robes, and how severely cricicized they have been in current thought.  She asked what would happen if one put modern, intelligent, well-meaning people into a comparable state of radical ignorance.  Her premise-differences in language alone would be a source of tragic mistakes.  Her story takes place in the 21C and involves Jesuits and scientists who space travel to a land of 2 different species of sentient beings.  Tragedy ensues and faith is shattered.Redemption comes at a high price.

Marie,  (your comment #7, second question).  A personal response.  My daughter who is autistic was first dx with expressive aphasia.  She seemed to be taking in language but couldn't express herself.  Placed in a severe disorders of language class, she gradually began using language and we discovered how much she acually knew and understood, including conceptual thought.  This is only one example, but I suspect that , as Bill said, there are some others, though difficult to determine. I wish your nephew and his loved ones well.  It is a hard road to travel.  The support of family, such as yourself, is critical.  Blessings!
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
A) I have to admit that I have some misgivings about the garage door opener thing only because it does not take into account the testimony of people who claim to have seen something leave a dying person's body when that person took his or her last breath.  I do not dismiss these claims because becoming aware that it was someone's last breath occurs a while after the last breath was taken.  Doubters might claim that the observer's brain was playing tricks on him or her, but I think that is not a satisfactory explanation.


B) Thanks to Norman for all the information he has been contributing.  His response to my question about whether being able to imagine something is evidence of its reality reminds me also of Pascal's wager, which I think had some connection to Descarte. 

Pascal's position was that given the potential consequences, it would make less sense to doubt the existence of God than to believe in it.  Of course, faith in God is somewhat different, but not disputing God's existence and being open to believing are choices one can make (using one's free will). 

I guess I would say that while God may not be a plain as the nose on your face, it is also not possible to disprove the existence of God and that this provides a certain amount of evidence as well.

Bill makes the point that Harry Potter and Middle Earth are not real, but have been imagined by us.  Similarly, someone might argue that God is not real, since we apparently have vivid imaginations.

I would say, though, that even though Harry Potter and Middle Earth are not real, all the elements that we imagine about them are elements that we know as real.  Consider the concept of the Trinity.  I would say that it is imagined in the same sense as Harry Potter and Middle Earth are.  What are the odds that the Trinity exists in exactly the form we have imagined?  However, where do we get the images that make up this image?  

The Trinity combines our image of God the father (assuming that people still see a certain authoritarian quality in fathers) with our image of God the son and our image of God the Holy Spirit.  These three images are based on real experiences.

God probably does not look like the fatherly images of God in our art, but the
encounters between God and Abraham and God and Moses reminded them of an authoritarian father apparently.  God the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a wind and a flame that influenced people's perception, abilities, and behavior apparently.  At Jesus' baptism, a dove and a voice appeared.  Further with regard to Jesus, we have descriptions of miracles, but also the unexpected reappearance of the resurrected Jesus, and then Jesus's ascension. 

Would we humans have developed these stories and beliefs out of thin air?  Are we biologically compelled to believe something and disposed to making up things to believe in order to satisfy ourselves?  Did we make up God and then attribute everything inexplicable to God, or do certain events and experiences actually constitute evidence of something otherwise inexplicable?

To answer my own questions, I would say people are remembering and recording actual events and experiences not distorted by what they want to believe or already believe.  I would say that we are scientifically inclined by nature and that what has been recorded in the Bible was recorded primarily because humans are scientifically inclined and these incidents are not typical. 

I believe that there is less evidence that we humans randomly generate things in our minds than that we record what actually happens because it arouses our curiosity.  In other words, I do think the fact that we imagine God is evidence of God's reality, but that our image of God is limited to containing only those elements that are part of our reality.  In other words, God as depicted can be disputed, but God as reality cannot.

C)  I think that it is not wise to define humans by their ability to do conceptual thinking for precisely the same reasons that Bill says it is necessary not to forget about the soul.  This will be taken to be definitive of when it is possible to mistreat a living human being.  ("Can't do conceptual thinking? We'll do it for you - it's time for you to go.")  The problem with falling back on the soul, though, is that souls are so conceptual that even people who would use conceptual thinking as a measure of humanness do not necessarily believe in it. 
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
Janice,

My nephew is now thirteen.  The last time he spoke, he was two.  On Christmas Eve that year, he took one of each of his parents' hands and led them to a window and said "moon".  I think there is some evidence of conceptual thinking in that action.  However, I wonder also whether whatever hurts him (sound, light, something internal?) prevents him from doing much abstract thinking.  I know that those times when I have been in pain have not been times of much conceptual thinking, though on occasion I have had a revelation.  Thanks for your kind words and my best to you and your daughter.
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
You are right, David. 

Do you think that Adler should be questioning his definition because it is not sufficient to substantiate Church dogma pertaining to personality, special creation, individual immortality, and free will?  Or, do you think that his definition is conclusive and that these dogma are in danger of being invalidated by achievements in Artificial Intelligence or the possiblity of other intelligent life forms existing elsewhere in the universe?

I think his definition would be shown to be inadequate if another life form or a machine were to be able to exhibit conceptual thinking.  I think the Church probably went to scripture to determine its dogma and that it did not base it on this one characteristic of human beings.
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
You are right, David. 

Do you think that Adler should be questioning his definition because it is not sufficient to substantiate Church dogma pertaining to personality, special creation, individual immortality, and free will?  Or, do you think that his definition is conclusive and that these dogma are in danger of being invalidated by achievements in Artificial Intelligence or the possiblity of other intelligent life forms existing elsewhere in the universe?

I think his definition would be shown to be inadequate if another life form or a machine were to be able to exhibit conceptual thinking.  I think the Church probably went to scripture to determine its dogma and that it did not base it on this one characteristic of human beings.
7 years 5 months ago

Bill,

On the whole, there should be more bouquets thrown in the direction of Adler, than brickbats. There was no question about his place on a Catholic campus or any other institution of higher learning. Adler's Great Books project, his derivative books like How to Mark Up a Book, and his views on education have him at the top of his form.

One of the things I just hate, is when someone says something with which you cannot argue. For example, ''We should do good and avoid evil.'' Adler's views, to my delight, are offerings into which you can sink your teeth.

You can argue with people who say mindless and stupid things, but it's not satisfying and doesn't provide any real sense of accomplishment. Adler seizes the high ground, brings forward his artillery, and challenges you to do battle. It's hard fighting. Even if you failed to push him off the summit, it's still very satisfying to have made the attempt. Heck, you can't wait to regroup and start the uphill assault all over again.

Adler, unlike so many others who avoided controversy like the plague, put his ideas clearly, and courageously, in the public square for all to kick, prod, probe, poke, and shake. No one could accuse him of being a shrinking violet. Many scientists and academics who shared his theological/philosophical views wouldn't think of going public. They did not have the self-confidence, bravery and resolve of Adler to show their colors and stand and fight (argue, debate, convince, take your lumps.)

I didn't have the time on Thursday to finish my thoughts, but Friday is another opportunity. Also, Marie has asked some very serious questions (but you didn't need me to tell you that) and I'd like a chance to engage these as well.

It's been a long time since I read any Adler. I used to listen to, and enjoy, Adler's and Buckley's exchanges on Firing Line, broadcast on PBS. The issues he wrote about 70 years ago, are still the issues debated today. Want to know what the hot topics are today? Read Adler. They haven't gone away.
 
Creationist is a very accurate label for some of his views on religion. The word connotes, in recent times, the bible thumpers who dismiss science out of hand, and see sacred texts as literal, and inerrant. But, those characteristics do not a creationist make, and certainly do not apply to Adler. The second point of yours that summarizes some of his views in The Difference of Man and The Difference it Makes, is THE definition of creationism.
 
 
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
Bill, I was a computer programmer/systems analyst for ten years before I became a full-time mother.  I have difficulty thinking of computer intelligence as being anything more than many lines of code and logic. If a computer makes a decision, it is because a programmer designed a way for the computer to make the decision. 

Even a computer that writes it's own code for future execution is still doing so according to parameters set up by a human being.  Therefore, the concept of an intelligent computer seems to me to be a bit like the hybrid at the beginning of Adler's book - not really possible. 

I am reminded, however, of the reverse of this scenario, which is that the part of the human brain that invents and imagines may be a biological version of a computer processor and input-output device that accesses a cosmic database of knowledge and ideas.  

I am not sure that this would threaten Catholic dogma, either, though, as it would provide additional evidence of something uniquely human.  Perhaps, it would have some impact on the understanding of a soul in that the soul might be the same stuff that composes the cosmic database and the body might not actually house it but rather be connected to it the way your garage door opener is connected to your garage door remote with a unique code.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Hi Marie,

There's a whole field on "articifical intelligence" that has snuck up on all of us, going beyond the days when we could input simple COBOL or FORTRAN statements and know what to expect in return. There's even been that "Big Blue" Computer of IBM that beat the World Chess Champion...again, chess is a mathemetical fame so this performance doesn't imply human intelligence.

But since AMERICA strives to keep us all up to date with culture, the growing field of computer intelligence is a significant part of our cultural world, one to be aware of.

Adler states that a computer might be deemed "intelligent" if it could meet the test of British mathematician Turing: if, when typing into a computer, one could not distinguish the computer from a human being, that computer would be deemed to have replicated "human thought." (that's the gist, a little more complicated)

BTW So far, no computer has won the Turing test....

The Church (especially Jesuits) have gone at great pains to show that science does not contradict our faith, and these efforts, I have no doubt, have kept the hearts and souls of many believers.

So I think this issue is important to keep in mind, and it will become more important with bioethics as we attempt to design "hybrids" of persons, orthotic parts, and even "enhancements" or "replacements" for parts of brain functioning.

Alot here, and it's becoming part of the culture, not just science fiction...

best and amdg, bill
7 years 5 months ago
"the power of conceptual human thought is unduplicated anywhere else in the Universe."

How can he possibly know this to be true?

I think his idea about free will ignores information about other species plus ignores the challenges of determinism.   His idea that we are created specially seems to ignore the theory of evolution.  The idea that only people participate in the imago dei, that only people have souls that persist after death, also seems  overstated to me.  To quote from a post I saw once at another blog (http://thinkingreed.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/the-cosmic-prodigal-son/) ...

"The Bible is clear in many passages that creation exists not for our sake, but for the creator’s sake. God creates all that is and calls it “good” (not “good for us”). After the flood in Genesis, God makes a covenant with all flesh, not just with humanity. The Psalms tell us repeatedly that creatures of land, air, and sea praise their creator in their own language, without the mediation of human beings. God’s admonition to Job is that the creator’s purposes encompass far more than parochial human interests. The apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon praises the mercy and love of the Lord: “you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.” Jesus insists that our heavenly Father cares for the lillies of the field and the sparrows of the air. St. Paul contends that “all things” are reconciled in Christ and that the entire creation is groaning for liberation from bondage."

I don't mean to be so critical, it's just that he seems to be stating opinions drawn from religious dogma with no other backup (even scriptural).  I don't think we need to base belief in God on human exceptionalism .... it'ss fueled a lot of the destruction of our environment and its creatures.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Crystal,

Your comments are germane, not critical.

Right: how can anyone know if something is unique in a universe that may be infinite?

The post from thinkingreed is EXTREMELY provocative and places a different outlook upon the animal kingdom, different from the classical sense of being "under dominion." Lots to think about. And I still think of those cows in Wisconsin crammed into the factory. Or vivisection (ugh).

Thanks for writing and expanding the discussion. best, bill
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
1) I would like to put forth a question that I posed in a rather long-winded comment on the previous discussion of Adler.  Is the fact that human beings can "imagine" God evidence that there is a God?  Can we imagine something which does not exist in some variation of what we imagine?   

2) On another note, Bill, do you have any information about conceptual thinking in humans who are mentally handicapped?  I have an autistic nephew who does not talk and seems to be in some kind of discomfort all the time.  Is it possible that he engages in conceptual thinking?

3) What would would happen to Adler's theory if we came across a life form in the universe that was as intelligent as humans, but was physically what we would call an insect?  (I think we would be more likely to encounter this than to master AI)
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Norm,

Good thoughts, keep writing. There is alot to learn from other traditions, from the East. And they, from us. best, bill

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