Introducing Philip Goff and a panpsychic universe II (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, November 16, 2023, 19:43 (157 days ago) @ David Turell

Goff's own explanation of his theories:

"by the age of 14 I self-identified as an atheist. It never occurred to me that there was a credible option between these identities: the religious and the secular. Of course, I was aware of the ‘spiritual but not religious’ category, but I was socialised to think this option was unserious and essentially ‘fluffy thinking’. And thus I remained a happy atheist for the next 25 years.


"The two arguments I was finding compelling – the fine-tuning argument for ‘God’, and the argument from evil and suffering against ‘God’ – were not actually opposed to each other. The argument from evil and suffering targets a very specific kind of God, namely the Omni-God: all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good creator of the universe. Meanwhile, the fine-tuning argument supports something much more generic, some kind of cosmic purpose or goal-directedness towards life that might not be attached to a supernatural designer. So if you go for cosmic purpose but not one rooted in the desires of an Omni-God, then you can have your cake and eat it by accepting both arguments. (my bold)


"One of the most fascinating developments in modern science is the surprising discovery of recent decades that the laws of physics are fine tuned for life. This means that, for life to be possible, certain numbers in physics had to fall within an incredibly narrow range. Like Goldilocks’s porridge, these numbers had to be just right, not too big and not too small.


"Fundamentally, we face a choice. Either:

"’s a coincidence that, of all the possible values that the finely tuned constants of physics may have had, they just happen to have the right values for life;

"the constants have those values because they are right for life.
The former option is wildly improbable; on a conservative estimate, the odds of getting finely tuned constants by chance is less than 1 in 10^136. The latter option amounts to a belief that something at the fundamental level of reality is directed towards the emergence of life. I call this kind of fundamental goal-directedness ‘cosmic purpose’. (my bold)

"Fine-tuning being a fluke is massively more improbable than bank thieves getting a combination right by chance.


"I focus on the work of the great philosopher of religion Richard Swinburne in responding to the problem of evil. Swinburne argues that there are goods that exist in our universe that would not exist in one with less suffering. If we just lived in some kind of Disneyland-esque world with no danger or risk, then there would be no opportunities to show real courage in the face of adversity, or to feel deep compassion for those who suffer. The absence of such serious moral choices would be a great cost, according to Swinburne.

"Even if we concede that this is indeed a cost, I don’t believe that God would have the right to cause or allow suffering in order to allow for these goods.


"I think a better option is a limited designer who has made the best universe they are able to make. Perhaps the designer of our universe would have loved to create intelligent life in an instant, avoiding all the misery of natural selection, but their only option was to create a universe from a singularity, with the right physics, so that it will eventually evolve intelligent life. Maybe our limited designer feels awful about how messy such a process inevitably is, but it was that or nothing. (my bold)


"For these reasons, I think overall the best theory of cosmic purpose is cosmopsychism, the view that the universe is itself a conscious mind with its own goals.


"I think human life can be very meaningful even if there is no cosmic purpose, so long as we engage in meaningful activities, such as kindness, creativity and the pursuit of knowledge. But, if there is cosmic purpose, then life is potentially more meaningful. We want our lives to make a difference. If we can contribute, even in some tiny way, to the good purposes of the whole of reality, this is about as big a difference as we can imagine making."

Comment: He proposes a mind (God) with limited ability to explain why we have evil. You will note that is exactly what I have proposed in stating my all-knowing God knows His limits, because He is all-knowing. That means He is all-powerful with limits. I followed Goff's same development in thoughts when I was 53, but I included delving into biochemical complexity. Goff did not. That is a glaring vacuum in his studies. Once you are deeply involved in following Intelligent Design theories there must be a more complex entity than his 'universe being a conscious mind', as a God substitute.

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