Originally posted by Pianoman1
There was a young man who said, "God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad."
Your astonishment's odd:
I am always about in the Quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be,
Since observed by
"The above limericks are comments upon the views of George Berkeley (1685-1753), aka Bishop Berkeley, a philosopher who espoused a theory he called “immaterialism”.
George Berkeley: Berkeley's theory, which sounds like something out of The Matrix, argues that physical things do not really exist except as ideas, until they are perceived by the senses of people perceiving those physical things. His expression “to be is to be perceived” summed it up. Hence as you sit at your computer at your desk at home, you see the images on the screen, you feel the keyboard keys, you hear the sound of the keys and the sounds from the speakers. If you are at work, how do you know that the computer on your desk at home still exists? It exists in your mind and memory, but that does not equate to existence in fact. You believe it still exists but you don't know that it does. To validate existence of material objects we need to use our senses.
Okay, I can dig that, I hear you say, the computer may have been destroyed in a fire and no longer exist. But Berkeley takes it further. He is not saying that existence is dependent on existence, he says that when not perceived, an object ceases existence. WTF??? He says that things keep going from existing to not existing and then existing again?? Well, yes, but he has a Catch 22 to cover that: things exist only when perceived, but there is a perceiver even when no people are there, namely the Infinite Perceiver, God, who perceives everything from an infinite perspective. Hence your lap top at home still exists when you go to work because it is observed by God.
* What if you don't believe in God but accept Berkeley's hypothesis? Well, then you have a problem, a bit like the buttered cat paradox, see: http://bytesdaily.blogspot.com.au/2010/08/laws-and-principles-buttered-cat.html
Berkeley's ideas were summed up by Ronald Knox (1888-1957) in the above spoof limericks.
An English priest and theologian, Knox was also a writer and a regular broadcaster for BBC Radio. It has been suggested that the first limerick was by an undergraduate of Balliol College at Oxford and that the response was by Ronald Knox; more commonly it is thought that Knox wrote both." (Posted by BytesMaster) http://bytesdaily.blogspot.com/2013/03/god-in-quad-and-falling-trees.html
“Hope is something that is demanded of us; it is not, then, a mere reasoned calculation of our chances. Nor is it merely the bubbling up of a sanguine temperament; if it is demanded of us, it lies not in the temperament but in the will...
Hoping for what? For delivereance from persecution, for immunity from plague, pestilence, and famine...? No, for the grace of persevering in his Christian profession, and for the consequent achievement of a happy immortality. Strictly speaking, then, the highest exercise of hope, supernaturally speaking, is to hope for perseverance and for Heaven when it looks, when it feels, as if you were going to lose both one and the other.” -Ronald A. Knox
“It is possible to argue that the true business of faith is not to produce emotional conviction in us, but to teach us to do without it.” -Ronald A. Knox, A Retreat for Lay People: Spiritual Guidance for Christian Living
“You must believe, sooner or later, in a Mind which brought mind into existence out of matter, unless you are going to sit down before the hopeless metaphysical contradiction of saying that matter somehow managed to develop itself into mind.”
-Ronald A. Knox, In Soft Garments: A Collection of Oxford Conferences
“Can anything matter, unless there is Somebody who minds?” -Ronald A. Knox, In Soft Garments: A Collection of Oxford Conferences
"When the Son of God came to earth, he came to turn our hearts away from earth, Godwards.
And as the traveller, shading his eyes while he contemplates some long vista of scenery, searches about for a human figure that will give him the scale of those distant surroundings, so we, with dazzled eyes looking Godwards, identify and welcome one purely human figure close to his throne. One ship has rounded the headland, one destiny is achieved, one human perfection exists. And as we watch it, we see God clearer, see God greater, through this masterpiece of his dealings with mankind." -Ronald A. Knox
Thanks, Pianoman1, for introducing me to Berkley and Knox. It's quite unfortunate that this thread went overlooked during the yearend holiday shuffle. There's something about the elegant wit and insightfulness of British Writers I find quite riveting and memorable. C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton, please slide over to make room for R. A. Knox. Best to you in 2014.