Is the existence of the universe a problem or a mystery? Watch

UEA Guest Lecturer
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I am interested in the philosophy of religion: what happens when we try to think clearly about the various phenomena in the world that we call religions. But even before we begin to do philosophy of religion, we need to ask whether the project itself is viable.

If religions point to invisible realities, then maybe these realities are completely beyond the capacity of our minds? Or maybe there are no such realities in the first place? Maybe science can and does answer all the questions that we ask about our world? After all, we used to think that gravity was a mystery, but now we see it as a problem, even if we do not yet have a complete solution. Religious people say that the universe is a mystery, however. Who is right?



Dr Philip Wilson teaches philosophy at the University of East Anglia. He is currently writing a book on transcendence. He is also interested in translation and philosophy and has published Translation after Wittgenstein and has edited The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Philosophy (with Piers Rawling). His translation of Simone Weil's play Venice Saved (with Silvia Panizza) has just been published.
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TS33
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(Original post by UEA Guest Lecturer)
I am interested in the philosophy of religion: what happens when we try to think clearly about the various phenomena in the world that we call religions. But even before we begin to do philosophy of religion, we need to ask whether the project itself is viable.

If religions point to invisible realities, then maybe these realities are completely beyond the capacity of our minds? Or maybe there are no such realities in the first place? Maybe science can and does answer all the questions that we ask about our world? After all, we used to think that gravity was a mystery, but now we see it as a problem, even if we do not yet have a complete solution. Religious people say that the universe is a mystery, however. Who is right?



Dr Philip Wilson teaches philosophy at the University of East Anglia. He is currently writing a book on transcendence. He is also interested in translation and philosophy and has published Translation after Wittgenstein and has edited The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Philosophy (with Piers Rawling). His translation of Simone Weil's play Venice Saved (with Silvia Panizza) has just been published.
This very intellectual thread will interest you good sir.

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=5964174
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TS33
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Oh and also here's a fun meme to sum up my opinion

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Obolinda
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I think we may be able to uncover the mystery of the existence of our universe, who knows?
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L.D.S.
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I believe in the dimensions of reality, where we are in the 3rd dimension. It is easy for us to make sense and understand the lower dimensions and how they work, and we can interact with them. However we can't comprehend the dimensions above us nor interact with them, thus we don't know how they work. I believe this relates to the wider universe in the sense that there are things that can manipulate lower dimensions, including our own, that work in higher dimensions which we can't understand. I believe religion is used to fill in the gaps that science can't fill.

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gjd800
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Not all religious people think that it is a problem or a mystery inherently. Getting too bound up in anxieties about it can be a problem, but otherwise its existence can be taken as a simple brute fact. It being a problem or a mystery only carries weight if you particularly care about explaining it, which is summed up in the Buddha's attitude toward this sort of question in the Nikāyas.

I recently re-read Richard Gaskin's stuff on linguistic idealism. Not sure if I fully agree with it given my predilection to mysticism and all that but it is a compelling account of how no aspect of reality can be beyond comprehension (more accurately beyond linguistic designation) and still be thought of as 'reality'. The knock-on effect would be that such 'invisible', ultimately indescribable 'realities' are not 'realities' at all and thus do not exist.
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artful_lounger
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Well, I think it depends a bit on perspective/individual or social value judgments on which to pursue as a matter of priority, as to what knowledge is considered a "mystery" or "problem".

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Of course, that conveniently doesn't deal with issues of the definitions of "mystery" and "problem" or whether "not-a-problem" implies a "mystery" etc. My implicit definition of "problem" in this framework would be something that can be empirically evaluated, but this again doesn't deal with the nature of what is empirical knowledge or "truth" generally.

It also doesn't address the fact that prioritising one over the other implies one form of knowledge provides more utility (to society or the individual) than the other, which isn't necessarily the case, and that we should aim to maximise that utility (which is debatable). There is also no consideration of the framework under which given utilities are established as desirable compared to others, nor under what or whose authority those definitions of "desirable utilities" are arrived at
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the bear
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it is a riddle wrapped in an enema
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AngryJellyfish
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:iiam:
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xDron3
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No one is right because no one can prove eachother wrong or prove their theories correct.

It'll be an argument we will always have until the end of humanity as our technology and way of thinking will never be enough to understand the true extent of reality.
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TheNamesBond.
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(Original post by TS33)
Oh and also here's a fun meme to sum up my opinion

Yeh we don't know how the Big Bang occurred, we may discover what caused it to occur in the future, we might not, but what we do know is that we don't know, so why are you inserting an unnecessary middle man.
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UEA Guest Lecturer
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And as long as you think that it is possible, the question remains open. Agnosticism is a reasonable option it seems to me.






(Original post by Obolinda)
I think we may be able to uncover the mystery of the existence of our universe, who knows?
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Very interesting, thank you.
(Original post by TS33)
This very intellectual thread will interest you good sir.

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=5964174
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UEA Guest Lecturer
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Which seems to be posing it as a mystery. Or would a more advanced intelligence from another world be able to see it as a problem?
(Original post by TS33)
Oh and also here's a fun meme to sum up my opinion

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It is interesting that you use the word 'I believe' at the start of your post. Is science a matter of belief?
(Original post by L.D.S.)
I believe in the dimensions of reality, where we are in the 3rd dimension. It is easy for us to make sense and understand the lower dimensions and how they work, and we can interact with them. However we can't comprehend the dimensions above us nor interact with them, thus we don't know how they work. I believe this relates to the wider universe in the sense that there are things that can manipulate lower dimensions, including our own, that work in higher dimensions which we can't understand. I believe religion is used to fill in the gaps that science can't fill.

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UEA Guest Lecturer
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Good to see 'mysticism' coming in. There are several ways in which mysticism can move people on. We can ignore the metaphysical questions, following the Buddha, as you say, or we can posit a higher transcendent reality that we can access through meditation, or we can see reality in the mind etc. etc.
(Original post by gjd800)
Not all religious people think that it is a problem or a mystery inherently. Getting too bound up in anxieties about it can be a problem, but otherwise its existence can be taken as a simple brute fact. It being a problem or a mystery only carries weight if you particularly care about explaining it, which is summed up in the Buddha's attitude toward this sort of question in the Nikāyas.

I recently re-read Richard Gaskin's stuff on linguistic idealism. Not sure if I fully agree with it given my predilection to mysticism and all that but it is a compelling account of how no aspect of reality can be beyond comprehension (more accurately beyond linguistic designation) and still be thought of as 'reality'. The knock-on effect would be that such 'invisible', ultimately indescribable 'realities' are not 'realities' at all and thus do not exist.
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The notion of framework is very important. Perhaps we are speaking, in Wittgensteinian terms, of how it would all cash out into language-games within forms of life. These issues often do come down to authority: just look at the way that religious institutions behave.
(Original post by artful_lounger)
Well, I think it depends a bit on perspective/individual or social value judgments on which to pursue as a matter of priority, as to what knowledge is considered a "mystery" or "problem".

Spoiler:
Show

Of course, that conveniently doesn't deal with issues of the definitions of "mystery" and "problem" or whether "not-a-problem" implies a "mystery" etc. My implicit definition of "problem" in this framework would be something that can be empirically evaluated, but this again doesn't deal with the nature of what is empirical knowledge or "truth" generally.

It also doesn't address the fact that prioritising one over the other implies one form of knowledge provides more utility (to society or the individual) than the other, which isn't necessarily the case, and that we should aim to maximise that utility (which is debatable). There is also no consideration of the framework under which given utilities are established as desirable compared to others, nor under what or whose authority those definitions of "desirable utilities" are arrived at
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So does it come down to faith? What about people who put forward arguments for, say, the existence of God? And we could still speak of the best explanation, rather than proof, surely? A lot to think of here.
(Original post by xDron3)
No one is right because no one can prove eachother wrong or prove their theories correct.

It'll be an argument we will always have until the end of humanity as our technology and way of thinking will never be enough to understand the true extent of reality.
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Which looks like a mystery explaining a mystery and it would be very difficult to argue with that ....
(Original post by AngryJellyfish)
:iiam:
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Palmyra
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Excellent post with a lot of interesting questions!

I think that if one wishes to argue that their belief system is based on faith because the concepts underlying those beliefs are inherently beyond human comprehension then there is no scope for rational discourse on the viability of those beliefs.

However, the discourse between thinkers like Plantinga, WLC and Oppy, Mackie etc shows that the philosophy of religion can agree to a set of shared logical axioms upon which certain beliefs can be challenged and assessed. We see this in the battle over the logical problem of evil, which has now become the evidential problem of evil.
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