PZ Myers’ will never believe in God

PZ Myers’ blog post:


Some excerpts from my comments (beginning around #403):

The sort of god PZ has decreed impossible to believe in has little in common with Augustine’s, or Plotinus’, or Aquinas’, or with any other great theologian’s God.

Natural science is epistemically closed to theological issues, not because they are unreal, but because the scientific method “works” precisely because it allows the scientist to bracket such ultimate metaphysical concerns to focus in instead on some specific slice of the observable universe. But just because science does not and should not enter such metaphysical terrain does not mean it should remain unexplored.

There is no experimental test for God, and no rational proof, either. The veracity of God’s existence is revealed only to the sufficiently prepared subject. Knowing God depends upon a psychological movement, or the development of a higher organ of perception within the soul; it has little to do with outward or external evidence. All the traditional attributes assigned to God (all-good, all-powerful, all-present, all-loving, etc.) are merely the intellect’s feeble attempt to analyze/rationalize what is essentially a unified transrational reality.

As Dante put it in the Paradiso: “The glory of the One who moves all things permeates the universe and glows in one part more and in another less. I was within the heaven that receives more of His light; and I saw things that he who from that height descends, forgets or cannot speak; for nearing its desired end, our intellect sinks into an abyss so deep that memory fails to follow it.”

What is “reason,” anyways? Is it really separable from imagination? I’m a bit of a Romantic, so I’ve always been drawn to Wordsworth’s take:

“[Imagination] is but another name for absolute power
And clearest insight, amplitude of mind,
And Reason in her most exalted mood.”

So far as I can tell, all human knowledge depends upon some act of imagination. Einstein wasn’t shy about admitting this. Nor was Karl Popper.

You’ve got to admit, reason itself is quite mysterious. Might it not even be referred to as supernatural? The knowledge gained by the scientist, if true, cannot without contradiction be collapsed into nature. How is it that the rational scientist claims the universe entirely lacks purpose and intelligence? What of the scientist’s own intelligence? Is it the one exception? When Kant tried to turn the eye of reason back upon itself, he discovered much of what the Medieval mind took for granted as true could not in fact be trusted. Reason, in the modern period, has become self-critical, and this is a good thing. But perhaps Kant prematurely limited the scope of human understanding. Perhaps intelligence creates and constructs as much as it discovers about reality, and can reach to knowledge of the things themselves (including God and the cosmos) through acts of imaginative inspiration (just as Einstein rode on a beam of light to grasp relativity).

I come here not to argue rationally about the validity of anything spiritual, only to offer an invitation… an invitation, that is, to a different way of experiencing reality. A way that scientific materialism marginalizes not as a result of scientific evidence or lack thereof, but because its methodological practices are all too often hypostasized into metaphysical principles, such that it denies the possibility of a more intelligent order at work in the natural world before it even begins investigating that world. The “world” of science, “Nature,” is defined as entirely external to and independent of the human mind (all modern science is essentially Cartesian in philosophical character). This is essential to science, which when properly practiced respects the insights of Hume and Kant, which is to say, it remains phenomenological. It simply deals with what shows itself to the senses and to bodily experience generally, not with what might ultimately underly these phenomena. Science becomes scientism when it denies the difference between phenomena and things themselves by suggesting that, for example, the findings of contemporary neuroscience have proven that consciousness–responsible for the lifeworld inhabited by human persons–is secreted from the electrochemical activity of the brain. In truth (and here I make a philosophical claim, not a scientific one), we do not know and have no immediate experience of the nature of the mind/brain interaction. Being conscious requires and is in fact operationally identical to being unaware of one’s own unconscious origins. Am I my neurons? Surely, but not only that. I am also a thinking, feeling, willing consciousness, and this I know from the inside out. It is self-evident. I know the natural worldperceptually, not rationally. I know it always “with” my body. Ultimate reality, the highest truths concerning spirit and nature, etc., would therefore be known not by way of empirometric science, but by our immediate psychological and sensory experience of being embedded the ongoing life of the universe. I offer an invitation to a way of being in the universe that depends upon a way of knowing the universe that scientific materialism displays ignorance of.

I’ll retreat back into my cloud of unknowing now.