Friday, March 13, 2009

Why there are falling rocks…

…and why there are rocks at all.

These are two very different matters. Sort of like why I laughed this evening, and why I exist at all up to and including this evening.

Continuing in my "fair is fair" repartee with unBeguiled, I bring your attention to a post of his debunking God––in a few hundred words, of course––as "the ultimate non-explanation." He asks us to

…compare … [a strong, simple scientific] explanation [e.g., why rockets fall, or, at high enough velocity, will orbit the Earth] to a God-of-the-Gaps explanation. Suppose I had been told as a child that God kept the moon in orbit. Would I have gained any kind of understanding? None at all, because this kind of explanation tries to explain a mystery in terms of another mystery. So many arguments for God are like this. Theists pick something complicated like consciousness, morality, or the existence of the universe and claim that only God can be the explanation.

But I must ask, can he tell me anything that is not explained in terms of (i.e., with relations to) anything else? Are there logical atoms and purely abstract monads? I should say not. For, the world is analogical through and through. Even the simplest phenomena are mysteries in their own ways, albeit only analogical sub-echoes of the Mystery of Mysteries. We speak of atomic "forces" and chemical "attractions", and the like, because they bear a suitable analogical resemblance to something we know better, namely, the force of our hands throwing a ball and the attraction we feel to a lush red apple or, say, (in my case, as a man) a lush redhead named Cherry. And this analogical resemblance is not linguistic deviance: it is a legitimate use of one level of reality to explain another level. If we wanted to, we could commence speaking of "being covalent" with people, or "quantumming to a new house", and so on. In any event, the logic of analogy is tied up with all other -ologies (i.e., reasoned discourses), and rightly so, as the illustrations about atoms and chemicals should make clear. We make sense of psychology by drawing from biology, and vice versa. We make sense of "atomology" by drawing from psychology and biology, and so on. Ultimately, we make sense of all levels of analogical being by following the "analogic" upwards to God: atoms resemble agents and agents resemble the Agent of Agents. We needn't "posit" God to "explain" why or how rocks fall; but we do look to Him in order to explain why there are rocks in the first place, as well as why rocks only fall in certain terrestrial conditions, as opposed to falling, hovering, leaping, etc. unpredictably. This is what St. Thomas means to express with the fifth way (i.e., the teleological, or, as I also like to call it, the formal-nomological).

Seeing as the title of his argument rests on the words "God" and "ultimate non-explanation," I would like to ask unBeguiled a simple question: Does he, or anyone of a like mind, even believe there is such a thing as an ultimate explanation? If so, what is it? If not, then he has, like many atheists, I believe, ruled out reference to God from the start.

No comments: