That Pandeism is meticulous as to the miraculous and provides profundity as to prophecy; that it is a vision as to oracles and an absolutely evolutionary revolution in revelation. To give the quick summation, the theological model of Pandeism combines the coherently reconcilable elements of Pantheism with Deism, attempting to answer open questions left by each with aspects of the other -- concluding that experience demonstrates elements of both are likely correct, that our Creator did set forth our Universe, but that it did not "leave it" but instead completely became the energy of which all things are made and the unconscious governing dynamics by which all things are able to operate.
This pandeistic model accounts for the state of our Universe with the fewest assumptions required of any theological model. Derivable from First Principles, the whole of the set of assumptions necessary for Pandeism are:
-- that ours may be a Created Universe, and if this is so, then our Creator necessarily possesses these characteristics:
-- sufficient power to set forth the forces of which our Universe is composed
-- sufficent intelligence to set forth the governing dynamics guiding those forces into the states which we observe
-- rationality, for ours is a rational Universe, consistent in the application of those governing dynamics
---- and subsidiary to these, a rational motivation to create such a Universe as ours.
Pandeism fully accounts for every claimed miracle, revelation, scripture, prophecy, vision, dream, oracle, sign, egrigor, spiritual activity, spiritual emotion, etc, and it does so for all faiths. For if any of these occur at all, then they are simply explicable as manifestations of the power of our Creator unconsciously underlying our Universe, as unwittingly misread through the biased minds of human observers. Imagine for a moment, if you were able to travel back in time to a much earlier point in human history, and were there able to show a select handful of pre-civilisation homosapiens perhaps a ten-minute vid of vital images which accurately laid out the history of our Universe and our planet only to that point. Understanding that you would not be able to communicate anything with them verbally for lack of a common language, how do you imagine they would interpret what they saw? The Big Bang, the massive cycles of starbirth and stardeath necessary to generate heavy elements which permit the existence of our world at all. The violent geological activities, periods of evolution, the strange eras of prehistoric beasts which necessarily preceded human existence, even the seemingly sudden leaps in human technology (from nothing to the lever, wheel, inclined plane, fire, axes, and such) -- if the primitives with whom you shared these images then felt the need to relay that vision to others, using what limited language and symbology as was then available to them, would they not couch it as a series of miracles, creditable to the intervention of inscrutable metaphysical forces such as a deity?
And yet, if our Creator became our Universe, if we are of our Creator in this fragmentary sense, wafting on the winds of its unconscious sustainment despite our illusion of concreteness, then all of our religious visions represent such manifestations, glimpses of the commonalities well known within the unconscious mind of the metaphysical progenitor of which we are so stunningly a part. Our world glitters, then, about us with the promise of a similar oneness of being, a potential to be whatever world we wish it to be -- if we wish it.
Under the pandeistic model it need not be assumed that our Creator is a conscious and active deity who chooses to act or not act, and is opposed by some evil entity -- presumed to have been created by it as well, either errantly or as part of some complicated scheme for which additional levels of excuses and assumptions must be made. For our Creator need not continue to interfere in our Universe, judge or condemn, send seeming conflicting messages to prophets of various faiths, nor need it to create or permit any other spiritual forces to contend with man. Pandeism avoids the traditional response to the multiplicity of claimed miracles, revelations, prophecies, and so forth supporting irreconcilable differences of faith, which has been the invocation of the agency of evil spirits. Such assumption is itself deeply irrational, for it is simply impossible for there to be an evil spirit from whom 'miraculous' results emanate for the affirmance of other faiths. All laws of nature, and the laws of physics among them, these are necessarily the laws of our Creator, and all things are bound by them except (and only except) as allowed by the power of our Creator; put otherwise, even were we to impose upon our Creator the additionally assumed characteristics of consciousness and a need to intervene, our Creator would nonetheless be the force sustaining our Universe. It would be impossible for anybody, any entity, to violate the laws of physics except by using such Creator's own power to do so. And if there is proposed to be a conscious Creator, this simply means that nothing miraculous may occur except as done by that Creator.
In the pandeistic model, our Creator unconsciously underlies existence, and so what miracles occur (if anything is not susceptible to naturalistic explanation) do so because that power is manifested by the fragments of our Creator which constitute all of existence. And, as importantly, no good and wise Creator would grant free reign to an entity sufficiently powerful as to undermine the ability of other entities to make informed decisions, if reward or punishment hinged upon such decisions. If so powerful an entity were deemed to exist, it would immediately render fatally suspect any widely held belief, as any one of us could have lived our entire existence in an illusion generated by it to secure our falsity of beliefs. If an 'evil spirit' exists at all, and is so successful as to be responsible for all the religions with which one disagree (though others adhere tightly to them) then it is overwhelmingly likely it is equally responsible for that last faith with which one does agree. And, in fact, whatever the 'truth' is, would then most likely reside only in a minor and obscure and generally ignored or even reviled group, whose few members display impeccable morality.
Another benefit of the pandeistic model is that it equally accounts for all scientific discovery -- all that is discovered by science as to how our Universe operates simply is an uncovering of the governing dynamics set in motion by the Creator in the moment of creating/becoming of our Universe. If science reveals our Universe to be billions of years old, it is so, and is because the rational goal sought by our Creator was one which required our Universe gestating through billions of years of natural development to give birth to its desired set of information. If science reveals our descent from a Universal Common Ancestor, it is so, and is because our Creator set forth a Universe capable of giving rise to sufficiently complex life through a simple process of evolution by natural selection.
And, lastly, this model contains a remarkable powerful basis for morality, as it proposes that all things are part of our Creator, and that our Creator experiences through us the consequences of our actions. We ought therefore to be motivated to act in ways which avoid causing suffering and harm, because in so doing we would simply be inflicting these things on our own Creator -- and, in a way, upon ourselves. And indeed, such raises the Golden Rule from good advice to universal law, for that which we do unto others, we may thusly veritably do unto ourselves!!
And so, because the pandeistic model fully accounts for all of the proof generally presented in support of both faith and science, it is presumably true against any theological system which requires additional assumptions to account for the same proof -- and especially against any system which fails to fully account for contradictory beliefs and the manifestations of the miraculous claimed to support those beliefs, and for contradictory scientific discoveries.
The most typical restriction imposed by religion is that sex must be restricted to married couples -- which, in this day and age oddly juxtaposes secular government giving its stamp of approval on a piece of paper, without which it matters not what the couples' religious advisers contend, nor what their congregation would have. It seems these days no one is married until the government puts in its two cents. As to actual sexual activities, the 'marriage' requirement effectively precludes threesomes (and foursomes, and fivesomes, and I think anything above that would qualify for general orgydom). Polygamy (and polyandry) might ameliorate this a bit, but both are becoming rarer and less acceptable amongst the religious, even amongst those whose doctrines once lauded the practice -- and to the nonreligious, they have little relevance because marriage itself originates as a religious institution, and outside of that life is the free-for-all.
Religious mores may require the wife to be submissive (and note, it is always the woman whom religion puts down; and with all that submissiveness implies); may limit sex to purposes of procreation (which cuts out a great many activities and endgames); and may bar masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, homosexuality, partner swapping, and all other activities consensually maximizing sexual variety. Theistic adherents may contend that they are able to find sufficient sexual release within the constraints of their own beliefs, though this is hardly a justification for wishing to will others sexual rights away.
But Pandeism takes quite a different approach. So much so that it may well be claimed to be the most sex-positive of all religious beliefs. Indeed, the sacredness of sexual pleasure is consistent with the core of understanding and practice of Pandeism, and one reason why it might modernly be enjoying greater popularity as it receives wider exposure to open-minded persons of a spiritual bent. Recall that Pandeism is the belief that our Creator not only created the Universe, but in fact ceased to be a separate entity and instead became our Universe in order to experience existence through the experiences of the Universe (and thereby to learn what it was like to face obstacles and limitations unknowable to a deity). Pandeism teaches therefore that our Creator shares in and learns from all of our experiences, and thus our positive experiences, including our consensual and mutually enjoyable sexual practices, must be no less than a gift to our Creator!!
Now it must as well be further recalled that Pandeism holds our Universe and our experience of it to be essentially natural phenomena, existing in accordance with the governing dynamics designed by our Creator and actuated in its becoming of our Universe. But within that scheme, our ability to experience pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, are not intentional bestowals from a Creator using such things to test or control us. They are evolved capacities. True, they have come to pass in accordance with our Creator's physical laws, but not as part of a specified plan. They are instead happenstance outcomes, outpourings of the randomness with which our Creator imbued our Universe, so that it might generate a useful variety of experiences. Thus, there is no 'wrong' in receiving pleasure sexually, any more than in receiving physical pleasure through other natural functions such as eating, drinking, or basking in a cool breeze on a hot day or a warm spot on a cold day. In each of these instances we may be assured that nature rewards our essential enjoyment of them because they in some way tend towards the benefit of our progression as a species -- a progression which is itself surely appreciated by our Creator.
In this light, there can be nothing immoral about any consensual act between persons who are competent to make decisions for themselves. When a man and woman (or two men, or two women, if so inclined) find mutual attraction in a smoky bar, and hasten to release their desires in a one-night-stand of passionate pleasuring in multiple positions, our Creator necessarily shares in each moment of pleasure, for they are of our Creator. When one person contracts with another to be brought to orgasm with the other's mouth, our Creator experiences the wonder of orgasm (and perhaps the prostitute ought to rejoice in giving to our Creator that wonderful experience); when one is privileged to participate in a menage a trois with two sensual specimens of the opposite sex, who pleasure the lucky third with their fingers and toes and multiple orifices, perhaps even their elbows, our Creator shares equally in this arousal. Our Creator must delight in the pleasure of those moments as much as either of their human actors; and when a man (or woman) sits alone in front of the tv or computer screen or simply a magazine and masturbates while viewing the topography revealed by pornography, our Creator experiences the enjoyment of that orgasm as much as its recipient.
There can be few better lives lived than those in which the experience of giving and receiving pleasure is maximized by the sharing as great a variety of sensual joy with as many people as possible!! So long as this is done honestly and consensually, it is no harm but a positive good to share sexual pleasure with others, and reap the same for oneself, to be shared among all in the end.
It is true, naturally, that sex may be used to inflict suffering, which imposes suffering upon our Creator -- and in the end we will perhaps share in this suffering as well -- and the responsible party will have the most poignant experience of the suffering he has caused. There may be no question that to force sex on another, through brute strength or through more subtle emotional or financial extortion is still an immorality!! Although I lauded the gift of the prostitute before, if that person is not acting of his or her own free will, but instead out of a compulsion to feed a terrible drug habit or provide for an abusive pimp, so would our Creator experience the deprivations of such a condition. And further, some consideration must be given to the suffering that even consensual sex can cause to the spouse who finds him or herself cheated on, to the parent who fears their offspring's loss of 'innocence,' even to the complete stranger who is distressed that sex is happening at all. But these feelings must be taken with a grain of relative rationality -- consider the racist or the homophobe, who is angered by sex between people of different races, or of the same gender -- this act does him no harm, so his 'suffering' is irrational, a self-inflicted bogeyman; it may only be in another next life, when he shares in the pleasure of these experiences (which he may have denied himself in life) that he will realize what a gift he was receiving when these objectionable acts were carried out, and how thoughtless was his disdain for the experience of them!!
So let us not disgrace our Creator by denying ourselves the wonderful gift of sexual titillation, the pleasures of sensual play, and the ultimate joy of a rain of orgasms!! An understanding of Pandeism opens our eyes to the possibility that such denial is the greatest immorality!!
But speculation about an illusory Universe raises the question, how can we know our experience of our Universe to be real? Now, there are precisely two possibilities about the reality of our Universe as it presents itself to us. Either it is absolutely real, or it is not, for if any part of our perception of our Universe is an illusion, an impenetrable deception, then the acknowledged presence of unreality means that nothing may be logically taken as real. But we will backtrack for a moment here and concede that even if our perception of our Universe is simply an illusion being imposed upon us, it is what is being presented to us to be taken as real, and so ought to be treated as real. But in any event, absent affirmative proof of an illusory capacity of our Universe, we have no reason to assume it to be anything but real.
We have two sources of information. Our senses, and our logical and mathematical contemplations. It is dubious to suggest that we may draw conclusions based on our senses alone, in part because we suffer from grave problems of scale. There are events vital to our understanding of our existence occurring at scales far too great and too small to be perceptible by man, and it must be confessed that assumptions about our Universe which fail to observe a proper awareness of these can be dismiss in the first instance. So far as our current capacity to observe informs us, we humans are approximately 43% of the way from the largest scale of observation -- that of our entire visible Universe -- to the smallest, that being the subquark.
But I submit that investigation of the nature of our Universe reveals it to be the product of an act of design. We are able to observe that we human beings are made out of a collection of interacting organs, that these organs are made out of cells, and that these cells are made out of molecules -- and indeed every tangible thing which we are able to observe or interact with is similarly made out of molecules; and these molecules have particular properties reflective of the atoms of which they are themselves made, and there is no molecule in our Universe but one made from atoms. And we are further able to observe that there are many kinds of atoms, almost all of which are created by stellar fusion and spat out of dying stars but that these kinds adhere to a strict set of rules -- which are in turn dictated by their composition of subatomic particles, and so forth down past the level of those subquarks we mentioned before.
It is a remarkable thing that at each level of substance, the material at issue is able to self-organize in accordance without the governing dynamics of our Universe (things such as the strength of gravity and the speed of light and the combination of attractive and repulsive forces between protons and electrons. I'll not belabor here the fineness of calculation needed to permit subatomic particles to form lint atoms, which form stars spitting out heavy atoms in their death throes, heavy atoms forming the complex self-replicating molecules of life, and eventually intelligent life, and eventually something even beyond that. But even this is not what I rest the proposition of design upon; for not only is our Universe fundamentally complex enough to generate this level of complexity; it is at the same time fundamentally simple enough for intelligent beings to figure out that these forces are what is at play, and to use them to invent things like light bulbs and calculators and computers and massive particle colliders.
I'll give one very specific example. We have determined by observing the light signatures of distant galaxies that our Universe is expanding at a rate consistent with origin in a single explosive expansion from a singularity having occurred approximately 13.72 billion years ago. We have observed as well that there exists a microwave background radiation in our Universe indicative of the same origin. But given sufficient time those galaxies will recede beyond detectibility and that microwave background radiation will evaporate entirely; were we not fortunate enough to develop the tools by which to measure these things before they became undetectable to us, we would neve know or have any reason to imagine the age of our Universe -- suggesting that our Universe was designed to essentially inform us of its age and origin. And we have only in the past few years acquired the ability to confirm the long-suspected existence of habitable worlds within the conceivable range of our technological reach. These worlds call to us for exploration and colonisation, perhaps an entire galaxy able to be made man's.
Now, having established (at the least) a reasonable basis for believing ours to be a Created Universe, we turn to the characteristics of our Creator. There are THREE -- and only three -- which are absolutely necessary: it must have sufficient power to supply and control the incomprehensible energy of our Universe; it must have sufficient intelligence to design the governing dynamics which result in that energy taking the increasingly complex material forms observed; and it must have sufficient rationality to create a Universe which operates rationally, building itself towards these evident ends.
And let me be absolutely clear here, if a theological model exists by which these three assumptions suffice to account for all of the observations man is able to make, then no other assumptions may logically be added, no matter how strongly they might serve our sense of importance. This is as simple a proposition as stating that footprints in the sand most likely reveal that a person walked there. If a person capable of walking sufficiently explains what is observed, then there is no basis for assuming that the leaver of the footprints was able to fly as well, or that it possessed any particular set of loves or hates.
And here we come to the theological theory of Pandeism. A Creator with sufficient power and intelligence to create by becoming, and rationally motivated to do so by the desire to obtain the experiential knowledge of existing as our Universe, a Universe inevitably containing intelligent life which travels amongst the many habitable worlds provided for it.
Now, the acid test, the sixty four million dollar question. Is there anything in our Universe which can not be accounted for by this model? Theists tend to point to their respective scriptures and the events described in them, to reports of faith affirming miracles or visions or the like, and to emotional appeals begging that absent an intervening deity, wrongs will not be punished. But because there are many contradictory accounts of this sort, and because there are and have been many millions of people who are isolated from ever hearing about any given theistic path, additional assumptions must be piled on to explain this, usually involving the additional creation of contingent evil spirits, or of past or future lives, or of varying degrees of life after death.
But if the assumptions underlying the pandeistic model are correct, then we are all fragments of an incomprehensibly powerful and intelligent Creator, and so all of the things which theists point to -- scripture, miracles, revelations, prophecies, spiritual emotions, visions, dreams, egrigori, efficacious prayer, all of these, are simply expressions of the power of our Creator as touched by and filtered by our limited (if sometimes spiritually talented) human minds. I don't doubt that theists tire of having this pointed out to them as much as I tire of explaining it anew each time, but the principle remains that every theistic explanation inherently requires fatally more assumptions to account for the same proof (and most leave substantial proof unaccounted for altogether).
Lots of socks
More than just a box of socks;
Stocks of socks
Blocks of socks
Tending to my flocks of socks
Planes and trucks and trains of socks,
Running off the tracks with socks!!
My socks stand stacked up on the docks
Everyone gawks upon my socks
But woe be he who knocks my socks
Or, dread and horror, mocks my socks
My socks for jocks
And socks for hawks
And socks for every footy fox
And socks for people punching clocks
And socks with locks and locks and locks*
(My Indian name is "talks with socks")
Some folks have got rocks in their socks;
Me, I've got socks in my rocks!!
And that, well that just rocks my socks
(I travel far, yet have no car,
and socks are great for he who walks)!!
*And, no, I have no socks with lox....
Symbology is important to any school of thought as it provides an abbreviated way to convey affiliation, as well as in some instances to communicate a shorthand glimpse of the doctrine itself.
One such symbol is the fish. Now this might bring to mind a particular belief system in these particular times, but in truth the use of a sparse, fish-reminiscent pair of curved lines, just touching at one end and surpassing an intersection at the other, dates back over three-thousand years, pre-originating even the assignment of Pisces to the Zodiac.
The Christian adoption of the fish-as-symbol, the icthys, might raise an eyebrow. There was already, after all, the cross (it is true that the fish is said to have been in use as a Christian symbol before the prevalence of the cross, but the resurgent kitschy bumper sticker fish has only been around since the 70's). And, though miracles or parables involving fish come as readily in the Bible as in the formative texts of, for example, Buddhism or Hinduism, the fish is not shown in any of these traditions to be a particularly venerated class of creature. And yet.... well, there is something about that shape which makes it especially appropriate as a symbol for Pandeism -- and if the pandeistic model is true, this would even go so far as to explain why members of theistic faiths (including, yes, Christianity) have subconsciously gravitated to a symbol greatly explicatory of Pandeism!!
The Pandeistic Model:
Consider, first, the pandeistic model; the Creator becomes the Creation; in the beginning (before our physical Universe exists, there is one entity, of substantial (but abstract) intellect, and having substantial capacity to control its own unformed energy. It is not infinite, but neither is it necessarily bounded -- one might describe it as "open-ended" in its creative capacity. This entity, for purposes of acquiring certain knowledge incapable of being generated for its current form, transforms itself, compresses all that it is into a singularity and then bursts forth into a new form, an unconscious will supporting the continued existence of a physical Universe, guided by laws of physics set forth in that very moment of Creation, with a grand unknown outcome but with governing dynamics designed to bring about complexity, culminating in the products of self-accelerating intelligent life (which, in turn, is capable of discovering those governing dynamics, those laws of physics and mathematics, and using them to build mightily upon the capacities delivered to it by nature)....
Anyone who has seen the map of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation will note the rather oval shape assigned to it by the instruments reading it (though this oval is the product of an illusion, the true shape of the Universe likely being more spherical). Another sort of "oval" can be generated by envisioning our Universe is bursting forth from a singularity, and then experiencing a long period of expansion (perhaps hundreds of billions of years), reaching an apogee of sorts, a point of maximum expansion, from which it draws back in much the same way, returning to a point of singularity. Such expansion and contraction need not even occur in the three physical dimensions common to our observation, but may occur at higher dimensions, possessed of a curvature which exceeds our present observational capacity.
The Pandeism Fish:
And so, when we combine these ideas -- the pre-Universe Creator condensing and collapsing itself into a singularity, envisioned as an open-ended triangle pointing towards the moment of Creation; leading into the oval of our Universe as it is, or as it presents itself to us physically, and as it may operate on a larger cosmological sense, we find ourselves presented with a not unfamiliar shape:
Now here's where things get most interesting, conceptually. Recall that Pandeism accounts for all theistic phenomena -- from all faiths -- as encounters between the limited human mind and the experience of our unconscious Creator, underlying the continued sustenance of our Universe. All revelations received and miracles observed can be so explained, without resort to incongruent beliefs in things such as "evil spirits" being permitted to provide "false" revelations to some, while others are permitted to receive "true" revelations. And this accounts, as well, for the human predilection to grasp blindly towards the underlying metaphysical explanation, dressed up though it may become by human biases, fears and aspirations.
Consider, again, that this fish-shaped device symbolises no petty miracle or mediocre allegory, but instead models an explanation for all observed reality, an explanation which, should the pandeistic model be true, would resonate in the unconscious mind underlying our continued existence, and through that channel into the subconscious mind of humanity. And so it could be said that the adoption by many faiths of the vague outline of a fish -- of the pandeism fish -- indicates this true underlying nature of our Universe, one which accounts for all the graspings of those very faiths!!
So, in short, what Finkelstein is saying is that Obama (and Al Gore, and other environmental group members) are pandeists -- and based on his political pedigree, it's pretty clear he means that as an insult (his next comment is "These are the same people who tend to demand the strict separation of church and state. Yet they would have teachers indoctrinate children in their modern-day Church of Gaia in our public schools").... This is irksome on a number of levels.... first off, Finkelstein gets it wrong on several fronts, reducing the reasoned and logic-derived belief that the Creator became the Universe entire to 'worshipping trees and brooks' -- which is in fact doubly wrong.... for one thing, pandeists do not "worship" anything; if we are all part of the Deus, then is useless to worship because the deus is unconscious and wouldn't respond to worship even if it was conscious; and since we are the Deus too, we'd only be worshipping ourselves, which is silly.... and second of all, what we do express a spiritual sentiment of awe towards is not limited to things in Earth's nature, but to the entire Universe, and the delicate balance of physical laws and forces that underlie the greatness of the whole of it.... and yes, we do appreciate trees and brooks, they are often lovely things, and the world would be worse off for their absence from it!! I imagine Finkelstein picturing pandeists joyously dancing naked around a campfire in ceremonies intended to invoke some ancient pagan gods (perhaps even that Greek god, Pan).... well I can assure you, when we do joyously dance naked around a campfire, it's for the inherent fun of it, not to invoke any sort of mythical being, whether the mythology is Greek or Christian.
Now Obama, naturally, is no pandeist.... I seriously doubt Al Gore is either.... it would be great if either of them was, despite my own political differences with both of them (which I'm not going to get into in this post), since that would perhaps influence their thinking more in my direction, and more importantly that would bring some much deserved public attention (and no doubt some support) to a belief system that has long been discussed mostly by philosophy professors (and in Germany at that!!), and even among them, often only at the highest levels of the discipline.... I can't tell you how many times someone has described their belief system to me and made clear that Pandeism was what they in fact have long believed without ever knowing it had a name and a community behind it.... more likely, there has never been a pandeist in any high political office -- sure, many among the founding fathers were Deists, the scientific knowledge that justifies Pandeism had not yet been developed and Deism and Pantheism were thought to be philosophies at odds with one another....
Worst of all, and more so than the obvious misconceptions, is the tone which suggests that Finkelstein intends to insult Obama by call him a Pandeist, as though this is some contemptible faith to hold.... I find this odd coming from someone who begins his blog by speaking of the Seder that he will be attending -- after all, why does Finkelstein choose to reject the "divinity of Christ" which marks the mindset of most who share his political orientation? Does he not find the idea of God sending his own son to be sacrificed to absolve mankind of sin (but only those who accept said divinity story) to be equally silly? Does he agree with Ann Coulter's assessment of Christians as 'perfect' and Jews as 'needing to be perfected'? I see now how annoyed Muslims must get when Internet chatter labels Obama a secret Muslim, as though that faith by itself is a shameful thing to belong to.... unreasonable, perhaps -- but shameful? No more than being a Christian, at any rate....
So lately I've been working on roasted fruit recipes, and my friends have been very complimentary, so I thought I'd share the most successful formula on the Internet for all to enjoy....
two peaches (or plums)
two apples (or pears)
two tablespoons of raisins
a tablespoon of butter
a teaspoon each of honey and maple syrup
a pinch or two of cinnamon or powdered sugar (or both)
four scoops of vanilla ice cream
1) heat the oven to 400 degrees....
2) poke holes in the peach and apple skins at half-inch intervals or so with a fork - this keeps the skin from getting peely.... or just skin the fruit if you want, but leaving the skin on makes for a nice mix of textures....
3) slice the peaches and apples into eight even slices, removing the cores or pits....
4) grease an eight inch roasting pan (I usually use Pam, because its handy) and lay the peach and apple slices in the pan....
5) sprinkle the fruit with the pinch of cinnamon or powdered suger (I use both), and add the tablespoon of butter....
6) Put the pan in the oven for ten minutes....
7) While the pan is in the oven, soak the raisins in hot water (tap water will do), after a few minutes, drain the water and you can also sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon on the raisins....
8) at the ten minute mark, take the pan out to stir and turn the fruit....
9) at this point, add the raisins to the mix, and pour in the teaspoons of honey and maple syrup...
10) return to the oven to cook for ten more minutes....
11) remove from the oven and dollop onto the ice cream with a spoon....
12) make sure to pour the juices from the pan onto the ice cream too -- the butter, honey, and maple syrup mix in the pan with the fruit juices and make a great sauce....
Serves four, and that's all there is to it!!
The Pandeist’s Wager
Pascal's Wager is not concerned with the possibility of God existing, but with the logic of believing in a God, whether one exists or not.... Pascal understood that the weighing of probability was in order, and that the weight to be accorded each possibility must take into account the consequences of a wrong choice:
Pascal presumed that failing to believe in a God who exists causes the unbeliever to be denied fruits—potentially infinite—that the believer obtains.... But Pascal also says "If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is...." Pascal employs this statement as an acknowledgment that we can not know whether God exists, but it also reminds us that we could never not know God's nature!! Pascal's conclusion, that it is mathematically a safer bet to believe in God, incorporates the belief that the potential gain from believing is "infinite," the potential loss, finite.
Though the Wager favors belief in God, the premise is equally applicable to all sects, leading J.L. Mackie to observe that "the church within which alone salvation is to be found is not necessarily the Church of Rome, but perhaps that of the Anabaptists or the Mormons or the Muslim Sunnis or the worshipers of Kali or of Odin." Theological systems to be counted include all that have long since been relegated to forgotten ages, or have not yet been devised or "discovered".... Even conceiving a new idea of God necessarily introduces another possibility, however remote the concept may be from reality.... and with the infinite number of possible Gods, the Wager fails to tell us which one, and in fact suggests that we must believe in all of them (or at least, any of them who promise an "eternal reward" for fealty)....
Atheists, naturally, consider worship of a nonexistent God to be a substantial cost.... thus the atheistic position is that the non-religious life avoids waste of time, resources invested in religion, and strife caused by religion.... but this approach puts too high a premium on time away from religious activities -- to many, group religious activities are a joyful and profoundly pleasurable experience; Atheists are correct in contending that one can have a sense of purpose in life absent faith, but it is possible to simultaneously have both nonspiritual and spiritual feelings of this type, so there is no inherent detriment to be derived from having a spiritual sense of purpose!!
If the only flaw with Pascal's Wager were the difficulty of choosing the "right" God, it could easily fall into doctrinal arguments over the quality of textual evidence favoring one or another, but a much deeper problem is the presumption that the "correct" God will be one that rewards belief and punishes nonbelief, irrespective of the conduct of the non-believer.... here, Pandeism offers yet another approach to Pascal's wager: rational assessment of the probabilities in play.
If there is any basis to believe based on possible negative consequences of failing to do so, it follows that the first situation to be examined should be whichever model of God is logically the most likely to be true.... logically incoherent models must be eliminated. But what logic would have us adhere to a God that punishes good people for non-belief, or those having faith but in the wrong characterization of God? And in particular, what sort of God would punish a person for developing an understanding of the Universe that comports with that person's actual experience of the Universe?
The God presented by theistic faiths typically has absolute power to control the life experience that presents itself to people.... Suppose such a God were to punish people for their beliefs when such beliefs are exactly what life's experience has led those people to deem reasonable -- this being would either be outright evil or at best insane, in a random sort of way.
Imagine if God that informed the souls coming before it that they were to be punished for believing that the sky was blue when, God reveals, the blueness was only an illusion meant to hide the fact that the sky was green; imagine that God went on to declare that only those who correctly came to the belief that the sky was green would be rewarded!! An evil God is, naturally, unlikely to actually give an "infinite reward" to anyone, and if God is insane, then there is really no telling who God would reward or punish, and for what!!
But Pascal is clearly right that we must make this wager, and since the wager itself is required of us, reason demands that the examination must follow!! Richard Carrier argued that if a God exists who rewards moral goodness, such a God would be unlikely to reward those who unquestioningly believe in the face of physical evidence countering those beliefs.... such rote belief is indicative of a morally lazy mind, for a truly moral person would be intent on discovering truth, and would vigorously and rigorously question every belief that counters the available evidence: "since this knowledge requires knowledge about many fundamental facts of the universe (such as whether there is a god), it follows necessarily that such people must have a significant and trustworthy concern for always seeking out, testing, and confirming that their beliefs about such things are probably correct."
Carrier delimits that the people who meet this moral criteria as "intellectually committed but critical theists, and intellectually committed but critical nontheists".... examining the evil that exists, he presumes that the world must be a test to determine which people have the requisite morality to end up in one of those categories.... expounding on the evils ordered or directly carried out by the Biblical God, and the failure of God to intervene to prevent evils in the modern world, since "only an evil god would probably allow such things," Carrier concludes that not only must Bible-God be false, but that the world must be a test to see who can break away from that belief and accept that such a God does not exist, and that only the truly moral will be able to carry on nonbelief "in the face of assertions, threats and promises of reward"....
This analysis also suffers from the failure to examine the probability of a God who rewards or punishes at all.... if the nature of the Universe indicates that the Deus is either unconcerned with rewards and punishments, or unable to distribute them, the argument ceases to have any force as a reason to believe--but does not thereby become an argument that lack of belief is the correct position.
With Pandeism, a more interesting alternative emerges: if the purpose of the Universe is for the Deus to experience the existence of the Universe, then whatever behaviors human beings engage in becomes part of that experience. If any sort of afterlife exists, it likely involves being sustained as a consciousness within the continuing experience of the Deus, sharing in the whole body of those experiences.... so, immoral conduct during life is not what theistic texts propound, but what contributes to the sharing of negative experiences by that collective of minds sustained in the continuing experience of the Deus. Naturally, the person who inflicts misery on others in life, would experience the very misery of his own victims....
If an afterlife that exists where our actions rebound upon us in this way, it would make sense to proceed with our lives as though every misery we exact upon another will someday be our own misery, and every joy that we bring to another will someday be our own joy!! Note carefully, this is not an argument for belief in a Deus that brings about such a result, even if the result is necessarily brought about by the nature of the Deus.... Pascal's Wager asks that we engage in behavior that non-believers would be right in considering wasteful if there turned out to be no God (or a God different from the one to whom belief was directed). The Pandeist's Wager runs exactly counter to this, insisting that we engage in behavior that enriches our own lives and the lives of others, maximizing positive physical and emotional experience while minimizing the negative. No waste inheres in such a consequence, even from the point of view of the committed non-believer -- so instead of proposing an infinite win for the person who calls out the correct name of God and an infinite loss for all others, this view proposes an infinite win for all who devote their time on Earth to bettering the life of others while enjoying their own, and provides a rational spiritual basis for acting in exactly this manner!!
Here's the question....
God goes bowling one day, and on his first roll he makes a perfect strike....
So did God (a) roll the ball all the way down the lane from behind the line and manage to knock down all ten pins without tweaking the path of the ball? Or did God (b) secretly and invisibly guide the ball to the pins, or perhaps even secretly run down there and knock over those pins by hand?
Bear in mind, the lane is unusually long -- it takes billions of years for the ball to roll down it -- but also that God made the ball and the lane and the throw.... you might easily say, what evidence is there that the ball didn't just roll itself? The evidence is simply this: the laws of physics are too fortuitous!! The Universe is too friendly to the sort of complexity that we living, thinking creatures embody, when it could have been otherwise in so many ways.
This analogy is primarily aimed at theists who believe that a God essentially stood next to the pins and knocked them down, a silly conceit designed to puff up human importance in the Universe.... a friend of atheistic persuasion suggested of this analogy that "God knew the outcome of the game before he played it. When the outcome was unfavorable, he modified his swing to create the desired outcome." I'd like to think that, like any bowler, "he modified his swing" to maximize the probability of the desired outcome, and ceased to exercise any control over the ball once it hit the hardwood.... on the other hand, while the bowler is just aiming to knock down a particular set of ten pins, God is aiming to create a Universe in which intelligent life pops up -- anywhere, and at any time.... So I think God has an easier task of it!!
If there are, as my friend goes on to suggest, other Universes, it would make sense that God created all of them for the same purpose!! Since God would have preceded time (which is a function of the Universe) there is no need for God to have been "made", it only had to exist -- and if such an entity existed at any point, then by its nature it would have "always" existed!!
There is only one rational purpose for which a being properly described as "God" would create anything -- to learn something that it can not learn in any other manner.... and what other knowledge could God attain from creating the Universe than the knowledge of limitation, uncertainty, and failure? Curiosity is a rational trait, and I would presume God to be rational (as any intelligent being with complete or substantially complete information would be).... I am certainly as entitled to this presumption as any physicist is to presume that mathematical models of the Universe can be validly projected -- we live in a Universe that appears to be organized rationally rather than randomly; if this Universe has a creator, this creator must be at least some part rational.... indeed, the more we delve into the Universe, the more certain we become that it is entirely rational, and so would support the presumption of an entirely rational creator.
Hence, Pandeism proposes, a rational God becomes the Universe (or, as even as my friend suggests, a collection of Universes), and nothing exists of God outside this Universe (or these Universes).... however many there may be, they are logically designed with physical characteristics that maximize the possibility that complexity will arise, and that life will arise from that complexity, and that intelligent life will ultimately evolve, capable of experiencing and reflecting on its own limitation, thus providing these knowledge-completing experiences to God!!
As to the human purpose served by this speculation, well, what human purpose is served by knowing how black holes work? We can't make them or harness their energy for anything.... but we strive to know what's out there.... if such a God exists, it is something that's "out there"; and if it's a rational being, as is the pandeistic conception of God, then we should eventually be able to discern either its actual existence, or at least the probability of it!!