The gods of frustrated discourse

-Since Newton, the only gods suggested by physical science have been je ne sais quoi. Calling them “god(s) in the gaps” might not be entirely fair since Newton, at least, thought that given his best guess about the initial conditions of the universe and the laws in play, he had to posit a fine-tuned orbit generator. But even this god is formally a failure to explain and so is a frustration and not a fulfillment of discourse.

-Steiger may have meant his book God: the failed hypothesis as atheist polemic, but it might just as well be taken as theist purification. Theists have no use for the gods that science suggests through its aporia and dispels through progress.

-True, Aristotle does come to an idea of a god from a purely physical science, but his argument is very different:

1.) The universe requires some mover with infinite power. 

Aristotle has a proof that motion is necessarily infinite, and in the absence of a mover with infinite actual power it would be possible for motion to cease.

2.) Infinite power cannot exist in a finite body. 

Infinite energy must be able to move anything, but it is possible for any finite body not to be able to move another (say, one that is bigger, or one that it fails to be in contact with)

3.) All bodies are finite. 

Bodies are formally specified by their limits.

4.) The universe requires some non-bodily mover with infinite power 

The argument, though gorgeous, wasn’t very popular and most Aristotelians transitioned to purely metaphysical proofs. But it’s obviously not the god of frustrated explanation. Nevertheless, the proof turns on very strong modal operators in 1 and 2, and the dialectical character of modern science does not seem to be able to claim this sort of necessity for its objects.

-Physical science’s suggestions of divinity are confirmations of the idea that, just as gratia naturam perficit et non tollit, so also God cannot enter a discourse as something that frustrates explanation but only as completing it.



1 Comment

  1. February 19, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    What was the last thing the Aristotelian god moved in order to prevent (all?) motion from ceasing?

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