Bard 1

Is it at all palatable that an asserted Q4P simultaneous solutionpurported by an outsider philosopher ( David Birnbaum ) works?

-Part 1-


Q4P ?Teleology, theodicy, and cosmogony have vexed Mankind for 7 millennia. Just who is this (self-proclaimed philosopher) David Birnbaum?

-Part 1-
Creative philosopher David Birnbaum asserts that he has cracked the philosophical conundrum...that he has untied the Gordian knot? Truly?
-Part 2-
The Q4P Teleology: Is cosmologist David Birnbaum philosophy's New Wunderkind? Does his Q4P Philosophy of Everything work?
-Part 3-
See inter-related author and cosmologist David Birnbaum philosophical themes of infinite recursiveness and infinite loop-ability, Q4P included.
-Part 4-
David Birnbaum
Summa Metaphysica
Gary Hagberg
Chairman, Dept of Philosophy
BARD College, NY
Tammy Nyden
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Grinnell College, IA
Bernhard Lang
Professor of the Old Testament
University of Paderborn, Germany

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Speaker 1:                  

Well, let’s move right ahead.  As many of you know, David Birnbaum is the author of a two-volume project entitled Summa Metaphysica.  Volume 1 is of Good and Evil – sorry, God and Evil, and Volume 2 is entitled God and Good.  In David’s work, there a number of points of summation, but one I thought we might do well to start with, his briefest, most succinct definition of what he calls his core theodicy involves five points.  And if I may, I wanted to just let you know what those are, ask David to say a few words about them and then we can discuss these things as they interact the [inaudible 00:55] and the rest of the papers of the entire conference.                                    

So David Birnbaum’s first point, “The purpose of man, he says, is to quest for his potential, spiritual and other potential.”  Secondly, “The greater man’s freedom, the greater his ability to attain his potential second freedom.”  Third, “Freedom requires privacy, responsibility and selfhood.”  Privacy, selfhood.  Fourth, “In order to yield man greater freedom –” along with greater privacy, responsibility and selfhood, three conditions for freedom – “In order to yield man greater freedom, God has contracted his here and now consciousness in correlation to mankind’s ascent in knowledge.”  The correlation there between human and the divine.  And fifth, with – David says, “With the divine consciousness increasingly contracted from the here and now, and evil existent in the here and now, man is increasingly forced to confront evil on his own.”  A little problem of evil approached by – with David’s point of view.  So may I ask David to say a few words to help elucidate those five central points and then perhaps we can sort of fan out.

David Birnbaum:         Thank you.  Well first of all, to put matters in perspective, that summary — a succinct summary of book one, which was God and Evil, and book two, of course, is God and Good.  And the – my two main themes, which are interrelated, is quest for potential, infinitely iterated – that was quest for potential, with a potential for potential, which is linked to what I call extraordinariation.  And I develop extraordinariation more in book number two.  And this conference is about the book as a complete set.  And just to be clear, I don’t take the class of God as an assumption of being correct.  It’s more, if there was a God – if there was a class of God, how do we deal with gross evil?  So this conference has a lot about science v. religion.  Whereas I view myself as not – as certainly as a friend of science for sure, I’m, frankly, wary on a personal level of any religion.  Although I’m personally traditional Jewish, I’m as the same time, simultaneously wary of it.  I’m wary of any system where I haven’t seen the god or heard from the god or had direct contact or proof of the god.  So while I’m committed to traditional Judaism and to core mitzvah – core precepts on a personal level, I’m simultaneously wary of it, just for the record and maybe to put things into proper perspective here.  And I have a full, serious commitment to traditional Judaism since my youth and I walk the walk on that score.  Now, having said that, I’m also wary of classic academic metaphysics, which I feel gets too complicated, too fancy – too fancy schmancy for my taste.  This whole quest, for me, started at a very young age.  I was in the fifth grade – say, fourth, fifth, sixth grade in the yeshiva Forest Hills, that means a Jewish day school in Forest Hills.  And, you know, everyone was smart. The kids were smart, the teachers were smart, the parents were smart, and we couldn’t get a damn straight answer to any important questions.  You know, where was God in the Holocaust?  Where is God now?  What – that’s – if there’s a God, what is there such evil? We haven’t heard from this God in many thousands of years and we’re taking the word for it of alleged writers several thousand years ago.  So show me – show me something.  Now we know there’s nature out there, we know there’s reality out there, we know there’s pain and love out there.  We know there’s beauty, grandeur, creation, life, love.  So we know there’s all these realities out there, so where did this come from?  On a vis-à-vis secular level, you know, from the world at large, whether it’s academia or science in particular – not that science has responsibility to prove anything or to answer for anything, we couldn’t get an answer in the yeshiva Forest Hills in the sixth grade to anything either.  So from a secular perspective, what ignited creation? Why is there a universe?  If there is a purpose in the universe, if, then what’s the purpose?  So in a simple word, we’re missing context.  Missing context and we’re missing an all embracing gestalt or unifying theory or missing the theory of everything.  And I, like Dr. Atkins, who’s here, says his book, I like it simple.  I like my core concept to be as simple as possible.  I want one expletive phrase.  I do not want to get complicated.  At eternal origins, it had to be very simple.  We could not have gotten traction unless it was simple.  Now simple can end up being complex.  Love is one word to be complex.  Fear is one word that can get complex.  But I want it basically boiled down to one word or phrase.  That concept is igniting everything and embracing everything.  It’s possible.  But I’m not finding it in school and I’m not finding it in shul, which means synagogue.  I’m not finding it in my home and my parents are very smart people, et cetera, et cetera.  So no matter where I turn, I’m not getting an answer. I go to the yeshiva Forest Hills, I go to Yeshiva University High School, I got to CCNY Engineering, I go to Harvard – business school, by the way, but attended all the lectures.  I still can’t get an answer.  The same answer that I couldn’t get in the sixth grade, I’m not getting at age 22, 24.  So on my “to do” list, I said I’m a smart boy, I’m intellectually demanding, I’m going to open my eyes, observe the world and perhaps the epiphany will come to me at some point.  It’s probably at the tip of consciousness or the tip of our nose, something relatively simple, but when you extrapolate it further, possibly can answer all these issues.  Age 32, x number of years later, 32 minus 11, whatever that is, boom, quest for potential concept hits me as a possible, what I call, simultaneous solution.                                    

Now this is not science, because science has to be proven.  And there’s no tools of science at this moment in time to prove or disprove this.  Maybe in hundred years, maybe in a thousand years, science will have the tools necessary to prove or disprove it if it deems it worthy of examination.  So what does this mean?  The potential’s a word used by generally on a somewhat minor level, like, “Young man, reach your potential. Become a great athlete.  Young man, meet your potential.  Get into a big ten school.”  It’s useless – and that’s the zone usually.  But I’m saying, use the same  concept on a more grand scale. Maybe there’s an overarching dynamic which not only drives the cosmos, but actually is the cosmos.  So you have to all expand your minds a little bit to get to this point.  So I’m saying – and if you want to call it God, you can call this God.  If you don’t want to call it God, just call it quest for potential.  It’s your choice.  So in order for this to work, it cannot be as we sort of all learn in school, God is there and we are here.  No.  We are all part of, I call, the divine.  I don’t like to use the word “God” but I have to use it in those two titles for various reasons.  I think – I propose, this is a hypothesis that we’re all part of the divine.  And what is this divine?  This divine is pure quest for potential.  And what are we?  We are pure quest for potential.  And what drives us?  Quest for potential.  What drives the cosmos?  Quest for potential.  And I propose if you’ll examine any aspect of your life, or death, if you examine any postulates in physics, or any “big problems” in physics, if you observe any facet of your daily life, you will see it right in front of you.  And if you face the conundrum or block in answering, so to speak, one of the big questions, what ignited creation?  What drives the cosmos?  Why do youngsters fall in love?  Why is this great drive to couple, mate and procreate across all species?  Why are there seemingly beautiful but weak entities around, like flamingos and butterflies, as opposed to just powerful lions abounding?  Why are there the glories and the subtleties of nature?  I think you’re able to plug in this concept across the board as a potential way to handle it.  Now, I don’t say this concept is right.  I say it’s powerful and should be considered.  I, of course, am the author.  The authors think their concepts are right, but I don’t say that publically.  Publically I say, I don’t think it’s right.  I just say it’s powerful.  Those are my opening remarks.

Speaker 1:                   Thank you very much.  Let me turn to the other panel.  I think we all have a number of questions we’d like to ask.  I certainly do.  But let’s turn to the other panelists first before we open things up. 

Speaker 2:                   Well, yes, I have a question to put to David.  It has to do with framing. Partly, the framing used in this conference or in many papers in this conference and partly how you frame your presentation in your books – Volumes 1 and 2 of the Summa.  Oftentimes we spoke about science and religion presumably meaning not science and religion, but more as it became clear to me in the last two papers we were listening to, science and theology. Because otherwise we should perhaps speak of nature and religion or something like this.  Now if we started to talk about metaphysics and religion or metaphysics and science, I wonder, David, whether it would be more productive to speak about something like a practical philosophy of life or morality and discuss how religion — or how theology and how science could make a contribution to it.  Is metaphysics – I’m asking myself and I’m asking you, is this the right category or should we be more humble and think of a viable practical way of thinking about human existence in the world?  Is metaphysics a term perhaps with too much of a historical baggage?  Wouldn’t metaphysics even make some people just not open your books?

David Birnbaum:         So this is not a humble conference.  This conference goes for the gold and these books goes for the gold.  They may fail.  But they mainly go for the gold.  Now in physics the theory of everything generally refers to — make primarily unifying theory of relativity of Einstein with quantum mechanics, plus a few other embracing related areas.  But according to me, this is a very low bar.  You know, sorry, but no prize.  The theory of everything has embraced everything.  Not just relativity and quantum mechanics, but why are there a zillion species of butterflies?  Why is a young couple holding hands, falling in love?  What is this unbridled desire to have – to procreate, to bring up wonderful children?  What’s the driving desire to these fanatic conferences?  You know, it goes on and on.  If you say everything, I want it embracing everything.  So again, this conference goes for the gold.  What you are suggesting are other conferences – other legitimate conferences.  Now one can say, by the way – and this occurred to me during this conference, that it may have been a mistake to try and have religious theology in the same conference as science.  Because it may be, as noted, oil and water.  Now one can have metaphysics and science in one conference and one can have metaphysics and religion – or religious theology in one conference.  But to try to stretch the entire spectrum in one conference is a stretch.  And, on some level, the two ends of the spectrum of necessity have to talk past each other.  So that’s answering directly your direct question.

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