The idea of conceiving gods according to aesthetic properties and so on...I'm not entirely clear on WHAT specifically is supposed to be better about this, and I don't think I see how doing so will change the likelihood of the actual existence of any such being.
Maybe some specifics will help us out here. Suppose you have reason to believe some very powerful being exists, say, Australia disappears tomorrow.
This justifies believing in some very powerful thing or set of things, maybe beings maybe not. If we then found additional reason to think it was probably a being or set of beings, that would still leave open the question of, say, the honesty of the beings, or their lovingkindness, their patience, etc.
Each of these qualities, if proven, would still leave open all the others. To argue that all are true, you have to establish each of them.
comment by onlytheseekerfinds
· score: 0 (0 votes) · LW
I'm not entirely clear on WHAT specifically is supposed to be better about this
You don't see any advantage in compressing sectors of possible-property-space into algorithmically decompressible representations? I suppose the unspoken assumption on my part has been that reality is itself in some sense non-arbitrary, and that organizing the candidate elements of your ontology by unifying principles would allay the unnecessary multiplication of entities.
With respect to the topic at hand: you can posit the existence of any kind of omnipotent being you like. God might be an all-powerful Mushroom. Everything in the universe may, in some deep sense, be a Mushroom. Mushrooms are thus the most Godly object in reality. This jars my intuition about what reality might plausibly be like a lot more than the idea that God is "love", or a "universal mind", or so on. Now the first question that comes to mind is why? Is there any logical or scientific reason to believe that reality at a level that is completely hidden from observation forever, is more likely not to be a really just a Mushroom?
There are at least two ways to respond to these questions. One of them is to say - alright, yes, to say that God is a fungus seems perverse. If we're going to speculate on metaphysics, let's search for some set of principles according to which we make our metaphysical suppositions, and investigate what they imply. That way we at least might have a chance at further insight into the nature of reality.
The other thing you might do is to placidly accept that the universe may be arbitrary and perverse, and that no matter how bizarre a conception of God you may posit, there's no reason to prefer a conception that jars the intuition less. If nothing else, this seems to block the way of inquiry.
Now this so far doesn't have anything to do with how you find out what actually exists. It's more a defense of employing good taste (the definition of which I leave open) when speculating on what could exist.
I don't think I see how doing so will change the likelihood of the actual existence of any such being
It's not supposed to. It's more an explanation of why the "God could be dishonest and you don't have any reason to believe he isn't" line of attack fails to account for the fact that there are reasons that people take some ideas seriously and others not, despite a lack of accessible evidence on the issue.
Each of these qualities, if proven, would still leave open all the others.
That is correct. What I'm trying to get across is that there's a set of qualities which offer a conception of God that would be worth hoping is true; and that the ability to make Australia, or the universe, vanish on act of will is not sufficient to win the appellation of 'God'.
comment by Bound_up
· score: 0 (0 votes) · LW
Ah, certainly. I may have misunderstood the intended scope of your points.
I said I didn't see PRECISELY what was good about this thing, but I can see how it might be nice in some ways I hadn't bothered to think about before. Aesthetics, yes, that's nice. Compressible for easy communication? That's nice, too :)
Consistent with human intuition, well, that has some benefits, too, perhaps.
It still seems to me that none of these nice things make any such beings any more likely to exist, but if I understand now, you don't disagree with that, either.
Sure, there are certain conceptions of God I would be happy to discover were real, and others I wouldn't, and a whole spectrum between and beyond that.