Author Topic: God Exists  (Read 21079 times)

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #100 on: June 15, 2022, 02:15:07 AM »
Joshua, wouldn't unactualized potential just be equivalent to saying the thing exists in time and thus is subject to changes that occur chronologically? Enumerating all the things that can happen would be an infinite list. And something with no unactualized potential would be something outside of time, i.e. not subject to change. That is more of a sci-fi way than Aristotle would ever use, but it seems to me that saying a ball can 'potentially roll' isn't really saying something about its properties per se (as if to say it contains within it this potential but more a mere example of the fact that it is subject to innumerable possible changes as a result of interactions. Certainly in physics the term "potential" means something very different from this, e.g. potential energy, which implies a current actual set of forces in play, rather than a conceivable future of the object.

No, potential is real. We can see this in two ways: firstly, something cannot come from nothing. If potential doesn't have existence, then either change cannot happen or there cannot be actual things (just flux).

When you say that potential has existence, do you mean merely that an object is capable of the potential effect? For instance, that a ball nearby to an incline is capable of being pushed down it by some impact? Or do you mean that there is some actual force within the ball 'ready' (or something like that) to fall down the incline, and that an incidental force impacting on it merely activates this present potential?

I will remark again that in physics we call energy potential when there is already a force acting upon a body. For instance if I lift a ball into the air, letting go of the ball will cause it to fall because of its 'potential energy' caused by the gravitation already present that I was temporarily offsetting with my hand. We would not suggest, however, that the ball had within it this energy to fall, and so it "having" potential energy is really just a mathematical shorthand for evaluating the quantity of gravitational force acting on the ball as I hold it in the air. Really it's the gravity field we are assigning this energy (treating it for the sake of argument as a force rather than as curved space). The ball's mass will be a relevant factor, but that mass is not the potential energy itself.

Quote
Secondly, potential is limited. I can do a long list of things but I can't do anything at all. That limit is because there are some potentialities in me but not others.

Right, I think I got this part. The question is what is literally meant by unactualized potential. In other words, what is the actual force or phenomenon these words are meant to call upon. The fact of the above ball's range of motion being limited by certain factors should not ipso facto suggest that it also possesses some particular energy or power. That's why I asked whether unactualized potential was just a way of describing the range of possible eventualities. As a side point, the issue of potentialities is itself quite a murky one, since it is difficult to call almost anything impossible, even in science. We can assign zero probability to it, but strictly speaking that doesn't make it impossible. So while a ball sitting on a table seems to have its likeliest range of motion limited to either rolling along the table, or perhaps being knocked around by the table itself if the table moves, we can't really rule out it suddenly starting to float since some totally unforeseen force may yet act on it. In fact we can't even rule out that it may spontaneously turn into a tetrahedron, since again a strange force could suddenly act on it, like a magnetic field. And when we bring God into the mix, well in that case any object can have any future. At that point the limitations would seem to be definitional rather than chronological. For instance we would still have the limitation that a sphere would be a sphere rather than a tetrahedron while it is a sphere. But what happens to that sphere from one moment to the next would seem to be quite open-ended, with a great difficulty placed on ruling out all sorts of strange eventualities even if we might assign to most of them an infinitesimal probability.

So I'm trying to understand exactly what you mean by the term.

JoshuaD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #101 on: June 15, 2022, 02:18:48 AM »
I suspect you're right. But I didn't want to bias anything by prematurely harping on what I think of Aquinas, or assuming despite everything that we really were just diving into the Five Proofs. (That Joshua essentially called our attention to the Cosmological Argument sort of made it harder to pretend otherwise, but he keeps saying "classical theology" as if he's trying to make a distinction between his approach and Catholicism, and I'd like to respect that since he's made it clear that's what he'd prefer.)

I think the arguments summarized here point to the existence of a single God who is actively sustaining the world in existence, who created matter and all immaterial things from nothing, who holds the forms and universals in his mind, and has the other properties I listed.

The reason I am drawing a firm distinction from Catholicism is that I don't want to bring theology into the mix. I think the God pointed at by these arguments is compatible with (i.e. is a subset of) the God of the three major Abrahamic religions but I'm not trying to talk about Jesus or Muhammad.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2022, 02:21:33 AM by JoshuaD »

JoshuaD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #102 on: June 15, 2022, 02:37:49 AM »
So I'm trying to understand exactly what you mean by the term [potential].... For instance, that a ball nearby to an incline is capable of being pushed down it by some impact?

Yes.

Quote
Or do you mean that there is some actual force within the ball 'ready' (or something like that) to fall down the incline, and that an incidental force impacting on it merely activates this present potential?

I wouldn't call it a force. It's not necessarily a physical mechanism like magnetism.

The question is what is literally meant by unactualized potential. In other words, what is the actual force or phenomenon these words are meant to call upon.

It is potential. That's what it is, the possibility to be changed. It's not a shorthand for some more fundamental force or phenomenon, it is fundamental. It (of course) comes from God.

The things we see around us are actual. Potential exists, but not in the way that actuality exists. I actually am alive but I am potentially dead. I am not potentially a bird. (My matter is potentially part of a bird).

That's why I asked whether unactualized potential was just a way of describing the range of possible eventualities.

I think this can be a fine way of putting it, depending on exactly how you're using those words.

As a side point, the issue of potentialities is itself quite a murky one, since it is difficult to call almost anything impossible, even in science. We can assign zero probability to it, but strictly speaking that doesn't make it impossible. So while a ball sitting on a table seems to have its likeliest range of motion limited to either rolling along the table, or perhaps being knocked around by the table itself if the table moves, we can't really rule out it suddenly starting to float since some totally unforeseen force may yet act on it.

The difficulty in mapping something doesn't mean we can't understand it in principle. I am not working in a scientific framework in this thread and trying to impose one on metaphysics makes about as much sense as trying to impose mathematical rigor on science (it doesn't make any sense).

If there are conditions where the ball can float, then yes, the ball has the potential to float. If there are not any conditions where the ball can do X, then the ball does not have the potential to do X.

Quote
In fact we can't even rule out that it may spontaneously turn into a tetrahedron, since again a strange force could suddenly act on it, like a magnetic field.

No, I think we can rule that one out. But it doesn't matter. Whether we happen to be right or wrong when we make a claim about whether a particular potential exists, it doesn't change the fundamental principle of what potential is.

Quote
And when we bring God into the mix, well in that case any object can have any future. At that point the limitations would seem to be definitional rather than chronological. For instance we would still have the limitation that a sphere would be a sphere rather than a tetrahedron while it is a sphere. But what happens to that sphere from one moment to the next would seem to be quite open-ended, with a great difficulty placed on ruling out all sorts of strange eventualities even if we might assign to most of them an infinitesimal probability.

Yes, matter is a principle of potential and so material things are rife with potential. That being said, I do not believe living things are purely material, so at some point if you change our matter enough you kill us. You can then form the matter into new and interesting things, but you haven't reformed the person, you've only reformed the person's matter.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #103 on: June 15, 2022, 04:03:09 AM »
It is potential. That's what it is, the possibility to be changed. It's not a shorthand for some more fundamental force or phenomenon, it is fundamental. It (of course) comes from God.

The things we see around us are actual. Potential exists, but not in the way that actuality exists. I actually am alive but I am potentially dead. I am not potentially a bird. (My matter is potentially part of a bird).

I think I am starting to see more clearly what you mean. I thought you were referring to potential pathways within time, and time as a sort of continuum that goes on with things occurring within it. But now that I put this comment of yours together with your OP and how it's about the persistence of reality itself being caused by the Prime Mover, it seems evident to me that potential should properly be understood in this sense as being afforded another moment where change is possible. It's the fact of it being contingent that gives it this potential, since without being sustained one moment to the next (we might assume, I supposed, that time is quantized and that there are discreet moments) there would be no potential, i.e. no other state an object could be in. So it's not so much about the details, or species of event - that a ball might be impacted and roll off a table - but about the genus of this type of event, that change itself is only possible because potential is given to it contingently by the Prime Mover.

Is this closer to how you are thinking of it?

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #104 on: June 15, 2022, 11:17:00 AM »
Quote
all cannot roll without a preceding cause...
Except that we know this to be untrue. Specifically, a ball that is rolling will keep rolling, and a ball that is not rolling must be caused to roll. More importantly, no motion happens except relative to other frames of reference, meaning that a ball which is rolling can also be described as a universe that is rolling around a ball. These are actually known physical properties of the universe.

But now I'd like to talk about what you're calling "necessary."

Why is it not in a ball's nature to necessarily exist once it has been made by processes which would, when completed, create a ball? If that ball were not somehow persisted, would it pop out of existence once it was created? If so, why? Also: if a ball is set on a ramp, what needs to actualize its potential to roll? Would not the observed physical laws of the universe suffice to start it rolling? Why is it necessary to posit a philosophical cause for a physical law, especially when both your physical "causes" are just defined as exceptions to the law (e.g. "nothing can come from nothing, except this one thing" and "nothing can make something else move without already moving, except for this one thing.")

For my part, I consider the idea that something needs to move to produce motion to have been thoroughly invalidated by what we now understand about the nature of motion, which in Aristotle's defense isn't something he could have possibly understood at the time. To him, motion was a fundamental PROPERTY and not a by-product of changing frames of reference, and could stand in for change in general.

What I'm trying to understand is why you think a ball dropped off the edge of a crane would not fall without an entity to ensure that it would. At what point in that chain of causation is the input of a god necessary?

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #105 on: June 15, 2022, 11:32:50 AM »
At what point in that chain of causation is the input of a god necessary?

I think the argument being made is that it is the chain itself that is eternally caused by the Prime Mover. Or more specifically, that the laws of science such as you know them are not actually laws (as the earlier Chesterton quote puts it) but rather an attribute intentionally offered in the present tense and at all times, whose effect only appears to be laws of science that 'have a will of their own'.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #106 on: June 15, 2022, 11:41:40 AM »
And that's fine, if that's where he's going with it, but the obvious question is: why would that be remotely necessary? I mean, Aristotle thought something needed to be the first thing to move because he didn't know how motion worked; given his assumptions, it makes perfect sense. But we now know that movement is essentially "caused" by fields generated by the physical properties of existing objects, meaning that just having two objects pop into existence is going to lead to movement. There's no need in that framework to posit a "mover," which means that it's neither simple nor necessary.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #107 on: June 15, 2022, 12:08:25 PM »
And that's fine, if that's where he's going with it, but the obvious question is: why would that be remotely necessary? I mean, Aristotle thought something needed to be the first thing to move because he didn't know how motion worked; given his assumptions, it makes perfect sense. But we now know that movement is essentially "caused" by fields generated by the physical properties of existing objects, meaning that just having two objects pop into existence is going to lead to movement. There's no need in that framework to posit a "mover," which means that it's neither simple nor necessary.

But he's not talking about how forces work, he's talking about the allowance such that matter is amenable to being affected by forces.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #108 on: June 15, 2022, 12:09:47 PM »
Why can't that just be a property of matter? Is there any matter we've ever observed that isn't affected by force?

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #109 on: June 15, 2022, 12:21:29 PM »
Why can't that just be a property of matter? Is there any matter we've ever observed that isn't affected by force?

That's a bit of a circular argument, since if there is a God you obviously would never observe such a thing since God would imbue all of creation with its sustained ability to change. In other words if you observed it then ipso facto it has been given this property (either by God or by its nature). To suggest that this implies it has not given by God is just begging the question since in both cases the observation would be the same. Bear in mind I'm trying to understand Joshua's position; I am not personally making this case.

yossarian22c

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #110 on: June 15, 2022, 12:24:35 PM »
Why can't that just be a property of matter? Is there any matter we've ever observed that isn't affected by force?

Dark matter? Maybe? If we ever figure out what that stuff is and what its potential interactions with forces are.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #111 on: June 15, 2022, 12:26:50 PM »
Quote
That's a bit of a circular argument...
But Joshua is literally attempting to make this argument by necessity: that in order for a force to affect matter, a god has to intervene. But an equally good explanation, as far as I can tell, is that one of the properties of matter is that it can be affected by forces -- or perhaps even that the definition of a force is something that can affect matter.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #112 on: June 15, 2022, 12:40:18 PM »
Dark matter? Maybe? If we ever figure out what that stuff is and what its potential interactions with forces are.

Personally I think dark matter will end up just being an accounting mistake, but never mind that...

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #113 on: June 15, 2022, 12:48:17 PM »
Quote
That's a bit of a circular argument...
But Joshua is literally attempting to make this argument by necessity: that in order for a force to affect matter, a god has to intervene. But an equally good explanation, as far as I can tell, is that one of the properties of matter is that it can be affected by forces -- or perhaps even that the definition of a force is something that can affect matter.

The issue is whether the necessity can be shown. Actually that's the whole issue. Otherwise it becomes merely one of a list of possibilities, none of which (at present) we have access to. That's why it's fundamentally a metaphysical question rather than a science question. But a scientific type of investigation of this topic may still be needed (and personally I like cross-disciplinary projects). For instance if you stick to the material realm for your hypotheses, there will seemingly always be more "why's" the further down you go. Matter has this property - why? Because spacetime is a certain way - why? Because the forces are arranged this way - why? And even the forces such as we know them are not immutable, since in scenarios such as within a black hole or at the big bang we cannot even be sure they are applicable. C is the speed constant of the universe - why? So somewhere down the line you hit a wall, or if you get one level deeper on the issue you still have a why. The Prime Mover argument seems to (a) not tolerate a turtles all the way down conclusion (an infinite regress), and (b) not accept that all of this is a coincidence with no meaning. I suppose it also doesn't accept the possibility of circular causation, which is personally my preferred underdog if we are excluding religious explanations. And as I mentioned earlier, if there is any validity to any religious story then on some level the physical must connect in some way shape or form to the divine. Simmons' Hyperion, just to reference it again, entertains the idea of retroactive/non-linear causality, to the point where even God can be caused in a temporal sense while yet being eternal in a cosmic sense. There's a lot of complicated kinds of theories we could entertain.

So yes, the issue is whether it can be shown that one particular explanation is actually necessary.

yossarian22c

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #114 on: June 15, 2022, 01:06:30 PM »
Dark matter? Maybe? If we ever figure out what that stuff is and what its potential interactions with forces are.

Personally I think dark matter will end up just being an accounting mistake, but never mind that...

If the estimated matter to dark matter ratio (6 dark matter to 1 regular matter) were reversed I would agree. But the evidence for extra gravity coming from a distribution of "stuff" we can't see is pretty vast at this point. The universe is big with a lot of stuff, but that's one massive accounting error.

Crazier but more plausible idea: It could be a misunderstanding how gravity spreads out over huge distances. Maybe the inverse square law is great until something on the order of a couple hundred light years but past that distance gravity doesn't spread out on the surface of a sphere but somehow follows a different contour. Or some other reinterpretation of how gravity works. Or even crazier ideas from the quantum world. Or the regular dark matter idea that there is some particle that emits gravity but doesn't like playing with the other forces.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #115 on: June 15, 2022, 02:15:14 PM »
If the estimated matter to dark matter ratio (6 dark matter to 1 regular matter) were reversed I would agree. But the evidence for extra gravity coming from a distribution of "stuff" we can't see is pretty vast at this point. The universe is big with a lot of stuff, but that's one massive accounting error.

One thing not being accounted for is spacetime itself. What is it? It can't be actually nothing, even though aether theory was discarded in the early 20th century. The accelerating expansion of the universe requires an explanation, and thus far none is even being entertained as a mainstream idea. Part of the behavior of macro systems (galactic or supercluster level) is going to ride on the nature of the medium the matter inhabits. But that's just one theory. It can have to do with entanglement; it can have to do with quantum effects we haven't measured yet; it can have to do with the vacuum catastrophe. It can be anything really.

yossarian22c

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #116 on: June 15, 2022, 02:24:38 PM »
If the estimated matter to dark matter ratio (6 dark matter to 1 regular matter) were reversed I would agree. But the evidence for extra gravity coming from a distribution of "stuff" we can't see is pretty vast at this point. The universe is big with a lot of stuff, but that's one massive accounting error.

One thing not being accounted for is spacetime itself. What is it? It can't be actually nothing, even though aether theory was discarded in the early 20th century. The accelerating expansion of the universe requires an explanation, and thus far none is even being entertained as a mainstream idea. Part of the behavior of macro systems (galactic or supercluster level) is going to ride on the nature of the medium the matter inhabits. But that's just one theory. It can have to do with entanglement; it can have to do with quantum effects we haven't measured yet; it can have to do with the vacuum catastrophe. It can be anything really.

I agree it can be almost anything. But it has to be something or requires another GR level breakthrough of physical understanding. I guess none of those were what I thought you meant when you said accounting error.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #117 on: June 15, 2022, 02:26:32 PM »
I agree it can be almost anything. But it has to be something or requires another GR level breakthrough of physical understanding. I guess none of those were what I thought you meant when you said accounting error.

Yeah I didn't mean mismeasurement, I meant literally not accounting for things happening that are not well understood.

cherrypoptart

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #118 on: June 16, 2022, 11:37:35 AM »
"The accelerating expansion of the universe requires an explanation, and thus far none is even being entertained as a mainstream idea."

My theory is it's accelerating because of gravity.

The pre-big bang singularity was a black hole that contained all of the matter in our universe. It had an event horizon and outside that event horizon was matter going on about its business, without a care in the world, the same way matter in our universe goes about its business every day as long as it's beyond any black hole's even horizon.

So that matter, which is so much greater in volume than what's in our universe, has its force of gravity acting on us, everywhere, all the time, pretty much a constant though there are minor fluctuations in distribution as the matter outside our universe moves around just as it does inside.

Since the force of gravity between two objects increases at a greater than linear rate the closer they get to each other, as the outer perimeter of our universe approaches the inner boundary of the outerverse, multiverse, omniverse, megaverse, or whatever you want to call it, naturally both groups of matter will accelerate their approach to one another until they collide, intermingle, and we again join with the matter outside of universe in eventual equilibrium. As long as we avoid getting sucked into another pre-big bang singularity. It's said that there is a star going super-nova every two seconds in our universe. In the outerverse, there may be a pre-big bang singularity (PBBS, I pronounce it PiBBS) reaching critical mass and temperature and exploding into a new universe every two seconds as well, kind of a universal, or omniversal as it were, constant. Those are the heartbeats of God.

What we see, all that we'll ever see or know, is the tiniest fraction of all that's out there. We're less than frogs looking up out of a well. All the matter in our universe is to all the matter in the outerverse as a neutrino is in mass to the PiBBS that birthed us.

One thing that I'll mention about proving God, as nice as it would be if we could, is that it kind of misses the whole point of faith.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #119 on: June 16, 2022, 12:31:55 PM »
My theory is it's accelerating because of gravity.

The issue is that if there were discrete mega-singularities outside of the observable universe (a) the expansion would not be uniform, but rather greater nearer to those, and (b) at this distance the effects would still be both weak and slow. In other words, I think it would be quite easy to observe whether acceleration was at a constant rate across different parts of space.

I suppose if you wanted to go the 'mega-gravity' route you could suppose that outside the boundary of the observable universe is a completely concentrated infinite zone filled with energy, all around the universe, pulling the universe outwards toward it. You could get into a whole sci-fi thought experiment about that!

Wayward Son

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #120 on: June 17, 2022, 06:18:56 PM »
If the estimated matter to dark matter ratio (6 dark matter to 1 regular matter) were reversed I would agree. But the evidence for extra gravity coming from a distribution of "stuff" we can't see is pretty vast at this point. The universe is big with a lot of stuff, but that's one massive accounting error.

One thing not being accounted for is spacetime itself. What is it? It can't be actually nothing, even though aether theory was discarded in the early 20th century. The accelerating expansion of the universe requires an explanation, and thus far none is even being entertained as a mainstream idea. Part of the behavior of macro systems (galactic or supercluster level) is going to ride on the nature of the medium the matter inhabits. But that's just one theory. It can have to do with entanglement; it can have to do with quantum effects we haven't measured yet; it can have to do with the vacuum catastrophe. It can be anything really.

You have to remember that the aether was the supposed medium that light travelled through, like water is the medium that ocean waves travel through.

And that the Michelson-Morley experiment was very accurate--more accurate than any measuring device at the time.  Because it didn't actually measure anything, but rather the difference between the distances that light had to travel, as measured by the frequency of the light itself.

The fact that it has been measured repeatedly, with greater accuracy over time, to levels most other experiments only dream of, and is only of the bases of General Relativity, means that it is very, very unlikely it is there. :)

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #121 on: June 17, 2022, 07:03:36 PM »
The fact that it has been measured repeatedly, with greater accuracy over time, to levels most other experiments only dream of, and is only of the bases of General Relativity, means that it is very, very unlikely it is there. :)

All that means is that spacetime/aether doesn't refract light. That doesn't say anything about other properties it may or may not have. One thing is certain, that "space" cannot actually be nothing since things cannot exist in nothing. You need some sort of backdrop, be it a 'display screen' or whatever you want to call it, within which physics operates. The reason they thought of it as a medium like water or gas is because of idea that waves always propagate through some medium. But I think it's more fundamental to suggest that anything requires something to exist in. You can't have laws of physics in nothingness with no deeper substance; there would be no substrate within which the laws themselves could even exist.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #122 on: June 17, 2022, 07:15:44 PM »
Quote
You can't have laws of physics in nothingness with no deeper substance
I'm not sure that this is true. Without evidence either way, I think all we can really say is that we have never observed nothingness, and might not actually be able to observe it. I can't think of an authoritative reason why an atom of hydrogen, for example, might not be able to exist in nothingness, but I can think of lots of reasons why it would be very difficult to maintain nothingness -- especially if spacetime is really as reliant on field dynamics as some physicists believe.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #123 on: June 17, 2022, 08:07:55 PM »
Quote
You can't have laws of physics in nothingness with no deeper substance
I'm not sure that this is true. Without evidence either way, I think all we can really say is that we have never observed nothingness, and might not actually be able to observe it. I can't think of an authoritative reason why an atom of hydrogen, for example, might not be able to exist in nothingness, but I can think of lots of reasons why it would be very difficult to maintain nothingness -- especially if spacetime is really as reliant on field dynamics as some physicists believe.

Just bear in mind that I don't mean emptiness, which is a lack of some particular substance within a spatial dimension; for instance a lack of solid matter in a gaseous atmosphere can in some sense be called "empty", i.e. bereft of solidity. Of course it isn't empty, it's full of air (and of quantum fluctuations, etc etc). The vacuum catastrophe itself suggests that something very significant is going on in 'empty' space, even that devoid of the 4-5 states of matter. We could also ask 'where' quantum fluctuations come from. From nowhere? Where is nowhere? These are all very hard questions. Until they're answered (and this is my point) it seems silly to think of space itself as being nothing. Clearly something is going on in there, coming from somewhere or some cause. So we can easily think of 'space' as being empty in the casual sense, but for it to be nothing would imply there is zero, ziltch, nothing there. If spacetime can bend then something is bending. You cannot bend nothing.

So this is one reason an argument such as Joshua presents is appealing. Not necessarily appealing if you don't agree with its logic, but appealing in the sense that it's approaching the topic in the right spirit, suggesting that "things just are" is a philosophical copout. We may not be able to get at the answer, maybe not now, maybe not ever, but it doesn't stop the question being really important. To even define a concept like "nothing" would require sophisticated language, making up terms like Heidegger and others have done due to lack of adequate descriptors. As to whether laws must be held somewhere, I see that as being a sort of truism: laws are just our explanation of the pattern of things, but the pattern itself has to be caused by something, either a structure, a code, or something else. This code must be embedded somewhere; a structure exist in some capacity (whereas nothing by definition is a non-existence); I am not even sure it's possible to conceive of "laws" as being part of nothing or existing nowhere; it's really a contradiction. If there is some topography, some contour, such that laws of physics are the epiphenomena of matter and energy just sliding along the detailing of this topography, even then the topography must exist! It can't be nothing, otherwise there is no topography. You get the idea.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #124 on: June 17, 2022, 10:00:50 PM »
Quote
"things just are" is a philosophical copout
While I'm not a huge fan, I have to admit that I personally consider "things just are" -- or the expanded and more accurate version, which is "we don't know the reason or even if there is a reason" -- to be less of a copout than "a god did it."

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #125 on: June 18, 2022, 12:33:29 AM »
Quote
"things just are" is a philosophical copout
While I'm not a huge fan, I have to admit that I personally consider "things just are" -- or the expanded and more accurate version, which is "we don't know the reason or even if there is a reason" -- to be less of a copout than "a god did it."

Well I'm personally not the advocate for the proof of God as a useful explanation of natural laws. But I don't think Joshua is either; he's after a different issue, which is the issue of how anything could be at all, including ordered laws but not restricted to that. What I do think is that the awe and wonder at the majesty of what exists should be enough to warrant thinking that the answer must be something incredible, something that answers everything. God fits the bill but in the abstract there could be other explanations. There's a problem with language, though: what does "God" mean? It's hard to dismiss the term when it might be isomorphic with some non-religious sounding explanation. The fact that religious ideas are couched in religious language causes a lot of confusion. Christians say you should praise God: but what it in secular terms there's a non-religious way to call the source of everything: well wouldn't you want to offer praises to that thing, to say how amazing it is? Worship and thanksgiving can take many forms. I'm not preaching, but just suggesting that it's too easy to say there's a disagreement when two different languages are being spoken.

JoshuaD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #126 on: June 18, 2022, 03:49:48 AM »
Quote
Except that we know this to be untrue. Specifically, a ball that is rolling will keep rolling, and a ball that is not rolling must be caused to roll. More importantly, no motion happens except relative to other frames of reference, meaning that a ball which is rolling can also be described as a universe that is rolling around a ball. These are actually known physical properties of the universe.

Whether the ball rolls or the universe rolls around the ball, the motion requires explanation. There is a reason that is happening (that's why science works).

Quote
Why is it not in a ball's nature to necessarily exist once it has been made by processes which would, when completed, create a ball?

Because the past doesn't exist anymore and the ball doesn't necessarily exist. We need to explain why the ball exists, right here, in this moment. The past cannot be an explanation, because the past doesn't have existence.

You can try to say the ball has a property, something like "this object persists in existence until something causes it to cease." The problem with that structure is the ball's existence depends on the property and the property's existence depends on the ball. It is a circular dependency; it doesn't rest upon anything.

Quote
Also: if a ball is set on a ramp, what needs to actualize its potential to roll? Would not the observed physical laws of the universe suffice to start it rolling?

The ramp, the ball's nature, the gravity well, and the person who set the ball on the ramp all are the immediate actualizers of the ball's potential to roll. 

Quote
Why is it necessary to posit a philosophical cause for a physical law, especially when both your physical "causes" are just defined as exceptions to the law (e.g. "nothing can come from nothing, except this one thing" and "nothing can make something else move without already moving, except for this one thing.")

God doesn't "come from nothing". That's the whole point. He didn't come from anywhere. He necessarily exists. To come from somewhere implies a contingent existence (and would naturally require an explanation).  The point of the arguments is that seeing a thing that exists and a chain of contingencies causing it to exist require a first thing in the chain which is not contingent.

Quote
For my part, I consider the idea that something needs to move to produce motion to have been thoroughly invalidated by what we now understand about the nature of motion, which in Aristotle's defense isn't something he could have possibly understood at the time. To him, motion was a fundamental PROPERTY and not a by-product of changing frames of reference, and could stand in for change in general.

The laws of nature require explanation. The point Aristotle, Aquinas, and others are making is not negated by any scientific discovery.

Quote
What I'm trying to understand is why you think a ball dropped off the edge of a crane would not fall without an entity to ensure that it would. At what point in that chain of causation is the input of a god necessary?

I am not saying that the direct cause of the ball falling is God. You and I agree about the proximate causes for a ball falling. The point is that those things must be explained as well, and their explanations explained, and so on.






JoshuaD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #127 on: June 18, 2022, 03:53:14 AM »
And that's fine, if that's where he's going with it, but the obvious question is: why would that be remotely necessary? I mean, Aristotle thought something needed to be the first thing to move because he didn't know how motion worked; given his assumptions, it makes perfect sense. But we now know that movement is essentially "caused" by fields generated by the physical properties of existing objects, meaning that just having two objects pop into existence is going to lead to movement. There's no need in that framework to posit a "mover," which means that it's neither simple nor necessary.

I think you might be conflating the independent arguments I've made. They use parallel structures and they ultimately point at the same thing, so it is an understandable confusion.

I think Aristotle's argument about an unmoving mover is sound as far as it goes. I did not use it in my first post because I think the argument for something which necessarily exists is more compelling in an intuitive sense, and it doesn't talk about a linear chain of causation but rather a hierarchical chain. That is to say, it doesn't reach back into time, but looks at this single time slice in isolation.

JoshuaD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #128 on: June 18, 2022, 03:55:59 AM »
Quote
That's a bit of a circular argument...
But Joshua is literally attempting to make this argument by necessity: that in order for a force to affect matter, a god has to intervene. But an equally good explanation, as far as I can tell, is that one of the properties of matter is that it can be affected by forces -- or perhaps even that the definition of a force is something that can affect matter.

No, that's not my argument. God is the fundamental source of existence. He gives existence to all other things. His act allows all of us to act, but he allows us to act. We have intermediary authority to do things, and while our authority ultimately derives from God's, it is also something we actually exercise. God isn't puppeteering everything. Similarly, God gave things (like electrons and atoms) natures and those things move in accordance with their nature. God is the ultimate source, but the electron's nature is the proximate cause.

JoshuaD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #129 on: June 18, 2022, 03:59:20 AM »
Quote
That's a bit of a circular argument...
But Joshua is literally attempting to make this argument by necessity: that in order for a force to affect matter, a god has to intervene. But an equally good explanation, as far as I can tell, is that one of the properties of matter is that it can be affected by forces -- or perhaps even that the definition of a force is something that can affect matter.

The issue is whether the necessity can be shown. Actually that's the whole issue. Otherwise it becomes merely one of a list of possibilities, none of which (at present) we have access to. That's why it's fundamentally a metaphysical question rather than a science question. But a scientific type of investigation of this topic may still be needed (and personally I like cross-disciplinary projects). For instance if you stick to the material realm for your hypotheses, there will seemingly always be more "why's" the further down you go. Matter has this property - why? Because spacetime is a certain way - why? Because the forces are arranged this way - why? And even the forces such as we know them are not immutable, since in scenarios such as within a black hole or at the big bang we cannot even be sure they are applicable. C is the speed constant of the universe - why? So somewhere down the line you hit a wall, or if you get one level deeper on the issue you still have a why. The Prime Mover argument seems to (a) not tolerate a turtles all the way down conclusion (an infinite regress), and (b) not accept that all of this is a coincidence with no meaning. I suppose it also doesn't accept the possibility of circular causation, which is personally my preferred underdog if we are excluding religious explanations.

Yes, this is what I'm saying.

A circular causation doesn't make any sense: Hey Josh, where did this textbook get its text from? -- I copied it from Bob. Hey Bob, where did this textbook get its contents from? -- I copied it from Josh.  It's nonsense.

So yes, the issue is whether it can be shown that one particular explanation is actually necessary.

Of course we can't map the entire chain and of course the thing which necessarily exists is strange and alien to us. But the existence of contingent things shows us there must be something which necessarily exists. Nothing else makes sense.

Then we can continue with similar arguments (outlined in short above) to show other properties, and it starts becoming clear this thing we discovered is the God of the monotheistic religions.

JoshuaD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #130 on: June 18, 2022, 04:06:30 AM »
Well I'm personally not the advocate for the proof of God as a useful explanation of natural laws. But I don't think Joshua is either; he's after a different issue, which is the issue of how anything could be at all, including ordered laws but not restricted to that. What I do think is that the awe and wonder at the majesty of what exists should be enough to warrant thinking that the answer must be something incredible, something that answers everything. God fits the bill but in the abstract there could be other explanations.

I don't think this is true. I think the thing that I've described is the only reasonable explanation.There are philosophies which doubt our ability to reason or the intelligibility of our universe and they're coherent (just shriveled). If you accept that our universe makes sense and you accept the validity of the syllogism, it seems clear to me that the God I described is the only sensical explanation. Everything else either stops short or goes astray in its reasoning.


There's a problem with language, though: what does "God" mean? It's hard to dismiss the term when it might be isomorphic with some non-religious sounding explanation.

I have been very explicit what I mean by that term: the thing which can be described by the properties I listed. There is no language problem here. I'm not invoking scriptures or Allah or the Trinity or Jesus or Yahweh.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #131 on: June 18, 2022, 09:53:24 AM »
I missed your explanation for what I was asking, so I'll reword it:

A ball weighs 22 pounds. It is on the top of a slope relative to a larger mass.
Why, without the attentions of your hypothetical god, will that ball not roll down that slope as soon as it can?

Does it pop out of existence? If so, what makes it pop out of existence? You assert that "the past doesn't exist anymore" -- but what does this actually mean?
Does it lose its mass when no one is paying attention? If so, why?
Does potential energy cease to exist when God is not looking, so that the ball's relative location is irrelevant?
Is it just that, at some early point in the existence of the universe, we're asserting that some entity must have done something in order for everything else to be possible? If so, let's just assume that entity was destroyed shortly thereafter. If not, why not?

Which of the natural properties of the ball and the relativistic framework in which it exists require that some mechanism persist them? What evidence do we have that these properties require external persistence?
« Last Edit: June 18, 2022, 09:58:51 AM by Tom »

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #132 on: June 20, 2022, 01:44:52 PM »
I don't think this is true. I think the thing that I've described is the only reasonable explanation.There are philosophies which doubt our ability to reason or the intelligibility of our universe and they're coherent (just shriveled). If you accept that our universe makes sense and you accept the validity of the syllogism, it seems clear to me that the God I described is the only sensical explanation. Everything else either stops short or goes astray in its reasoning.

I think that if we insist that things require a cause in order to exist then it seems inescapable - indeed it is merely a reiteration of the axiom - to argue that there must be something deeper behind what we see. What I think is not obviously a given is that this cause should be called God, or a god. Insofar as it's something greater than us, supporting reality as we know it, we might call it a god in a pantheistic sense, but what your OP describes seems to indicate a thinking agent, one with will and intent. And I think that is the thing Tom is referring to when he asks how you can show it's a necessary conclusion. He doesn't precisely seem opposed to positing that something is behind reality as we observe it, but he seems to question why we need to call it God and attribute to it qualities such as omniscient, perfect, and so forth.

Quote
There's a problem with language, though: what does "God" mean? It's hard to dismiss the term when it might be isomorphic with some non-religious sounding explanation.

I have been very explicit what I mean by that term: the thing which can be described by the properties I listed. There is no language problem here. I'm not invoking scriptures or Allah or the Trinity or Jesus or Yahweh.

This comment was directed more to Tom than to you, since I think a primary objection an atheist (or non-theist) is going to have to any proposition involving God is the term "God", and any obvious religious baggage that comes along with that. I don't think most people have a priori objections to the notion that some great force is at work, or that this force exists eternally (i.e. undergirds physics). If you even couched it in Buddhist language, suggesting that the property of "mind" exists underneath physics, people might not generally even have a kneejerk reaction to reject this out of hand. There is a certain grouping of specific terms that I think will be considered unacceptable out of the gate. That's why I would always stress that there can be more than one way to describe something, both of which can sound very different but might not be all that different.

JoshuaD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #133 on: June 21, 2022, 01:50:14 AM »
A ball weighs 22 pounds. It is on the top of a slope relative to a larger mass.
Why, without the attentions of your hypothetical god, will that ball not roll down that slope as soon as it can?

God is not the proximate cause of the ball falling; I reject occasionalism. That is to say, you and I agree about the proximate causes of the ball falling: the earth, the ball's nature, the slope, etc.

However, those things all have contingent existence. They do not exist necessarily and that means their existence must be explained by something external. As demonstrated in the first post, God is the bedrock of existence -- right here in this moment -- upon which the existence of all other things is rooted.

Does it pop out of existence? If so, what makes it pop out of existence?
...
Does it lose its mass when no one is paying attention? If so, why? Does potential energy cease to exist when God is not looking, so that the ball's relative location is irrelevant?

Things don't exist without a fundamental cause for their existence. If that fundamental cause stopped providing existence, then they would stop existing. If the floor stopped supporting my table, my table would fall. If God stopped supporting things in existence, things would stop existing.

You assert that "the past doesn't exist anymore" -- but what does this actually mean?

I don't know a more simple way to explain it: the current moment has existence; the future does not have existence; the past does not have existence. Now has existence. The future will have existence. The past did have existence.

Is it just that, at some early point in the existence of the universe, we're asserting that some entity must have done something in order for everything else to be possible? If so, let's just assume that entity was destroyed shortly thereafter. If not, why not?

You're jumping from proof to proof. Aristotle's first mover argument shows there must be a first mover. The argument from the principle of sufficient reason in the first post shows that there must be something which necessarily exists. The argument for the fully actual actualizer on this page shows that there must be something which is fully actual. The argument for singular on this page shows that these arguments all point at the same God.

Which of the natural properties of the ball and the relativistic framework in which it exists require that some mechanism persist them? What evidence do we have that these properties require external persistence?

The principle of sufficient reason. "Why does this ball exist, right now?" is a question which has an intelligible answer. As I outlined above, the fact that it existed in the past is not a sufficient explanation for why it exists now; the past does not have existence now to impart to the ball now

JoshuaD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #134 on: June 21, 2022, 03:06:03 AM »
I think that if we insist that things require a cause in order to exist then it seems inescapable - indeed it is merely a reiteration of the axiom - to argue that there must be something deeper behind what we see. What I think is not obviously a given is that this cause should be called God, or a god.

I kind of agree with your point, but I think your point misses the point.

I agree that it doesn't makes sense to call that which necessarily exists "God". Even acknowledging that the term God is overloaded, as it is commonly used it has much more meaning than "subsistence itself".

But that's not the only divine property we can know through reason, and it's not the only one I mentioned in my first post. We can also discover the properties of fully actual, non-composite, simple, immutable, eternal, immaterial, incorporeal, perfect, omnipotent, fully good, intelligent, and omniscient, and most important to your point, singular. That is to say, all of these properties are actually just one thing, and that thing is God's existence, which is God's essence.

I think it's a fair use of language to call that God. It is a subset of the Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish conception God.

This comment was directed more to Tom than to you, since I think a primary objection an atheist (or non-theist) is going to have to any proposition involving God is the term "God", and any obvious religious baggage that comes along with that. I don't think most people have a priori objections to the notion that some great force is at work, or that this force exists eternally (i.e. undergirds physics). If you even couched it in Buddhist language, suggesting that the property of "mind" exists underneath physics, people might not generally even have a kneejerk reaction to reject this out of hand. There is a certain grouping of specific terms that I think will be considered unacceptable out of the gate. That's why I would always stress that there can be more than one way to describe something, both of which can sound very different but might not be all that different.

I really don't care if people have pre-programmed knee-jerk reactions against these ideas. That's for them to deal with. I won't make my words less clear or obfuscate their origin as some sort of sly sales pitch. I learned this stuff from Aristotle and Catholics, and a bit from a Shi'i Muslim friend-+. I won't pretend to cast it into a Buddhist frame. That would be a disservice to the Catholics, to the Buddhists, to the person I'm sharing the ideas with, and to myself.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2022, 03:18:37 AM by JoshuaD »

JoshuaD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #135 on: June 21, 2022, 03:07:20 AM »
Quote from: Tom
Is it just that, at some early point in the existence of the universe, we're asserting that some entity must have done something in order for everything else to be possible? If so, let's just assume that entity was destroyed shortly thereafter. If not, why not?

Because God is fully actual, which means he has no potential, which means he does not have the potential to be destroyed (or to destroy himself).

Or, if you reject the property of fully actual (you'll have to articulate why so we can talk about it) then we have shown that God necessarily exists, and that which necessarily exists cannot cease to exist.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2022, 03:10:52 AM by JoshuaD »

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #136 on: June 21, 2022, 08:51:43 AM »
Can you explain why something that once necessarily existed needs to continue to exist?
Remember how you're defining "necessary." (Remember, we've only granted that "necessary" is a property because we conceded that, at present, reason cannot accept why a thing might exist with no apparent cause, so therefore there must have once existed something that enables other things to exist, even if we don't understand it. And then we're doing Aristotle a favor and allowing a single exception, a thing that once existed no matter what, so that it didn't need something else to help it exist. That's the entirety of the concept as required.)

Or, more importantly, consider how you're defining the word "exists." Let's look at this sentence of yours:

Quote
As I outlined above, the fact that it existed in the past is not a sufficient explanation for why it exists now...

You didn't outline this. You asserted this.
Why can existence simply not be a persistent property of matter? Why, once something exists, can it not simply continue to exist?

You're getting lost in the weeds regarding philosophical "existence" when there's no reason whatsoever to resort to metaphysics. Aristotle had to go this route because he literally didn't understand how the universe worked. We don't need to placidly accept his terminology and blue-sky theorizing any more than we need to accept a medical theory of five humors.

--------------

Quote
But that's not the only divine property we can know through reason, and it's not the only one I mentioned in my first post. We can also discover the properties of fully actual, non-composite, simple, immutable, eternal, immaterial, incorporeal, perfect, omnipotent, fully good, intelligent, and omniscient, and most important to your point, singular.
This, by the way, is completely Catholic bull*censored*. You should know better than this.
Heck, even in your second pass at omnipotence, you fell down the same (Catholic) rhetorical trap.. There is no logical argument for "can do anything possible" that derives from "makes things possible."
« Last Edit: June 21, 2022, 09:00:30 AM by Tom »

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #137 on: June 21, 2022, 09:26:31 AM »
Quote from: Tom
Is it just that, at some early point in the existence of the universe, we're asserting that some entity must have done something in order for everything else to be possible? If so, let's just assume that entity was destroyed shortly thereafter. If not, why not?

Because God is fully actual, which means he has no potential, which means he does not have the potential to be destroyed (or to destroy himself).

Or, if you reject the property of fully actual (you'll have to articulate why so we can talk about it) then we have shown that God necessarily exists, and that which necessarily exists cannot cease to exist.

He's asking how you can be sure the Unmoved Mover is still around. Why is it not possible for the Unmoved Mover to have set everything in motion initially, including the property of continuing the exist over time, and then quit?

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #138 on: June 21, 2022, 10:00:46 AM »
Since Joshua was getting concerned about my willingness to lump the argument from necessity in with the other near-identical "everything needs a cause except this one thing" arguments, I should point out that I'm specifically speaking here about the argument from efficient cause and not the argument from necessity. (I much prefer Kant and Hume's takedown of necessity.) I'm not even going to touch the argument from motion with this because I think that's fundamentally flawed due to Aristotle's ignorance of physics; it's not necessary to rebut a Prime Mover concept because a Prime Mover is definitionally unnecessary based on how we now know motion to work.

yossarian22c

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #139 on: June 21, 2022, 10:03:32 AM »
Quote from: Tom
Is it just that, at some early point in the existence of the universe, we're asserting that some entity must have done something in order for everything else to be possible? If so, let's just assume that entity was destroyed shortly thereafter. If not, why not?

Because God is fully actual, which means he has no potential, which means he does not have the potential to be destroyed (or to destroy himself).

Or, if you reject the property of fully actual (you'll have to articulate why so we can talk about it) then we have shown that God necessarily exists, and that which necessarily exists cannot cease to exist.

Sorry to cut through your artful philosophical language. But want to see if I can grasp your key concept here. Stuff exists, because stuff doesn't come from nowhere, stuff came from "God." Where did "God" come from or is "God" simply the property of the existence of the universe? Your getting pretty close to the tautology and reduction of the nature of "God" that by "God" you are only asserting the creation and continued existence of the universe.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #140 on: June 21, 2022, 10:05:54 AM »
it's not necessary to rebut a Prime Mover concept because a Prime Mover is definitionally unnecessary based on how we now know motion to work.

We only have an idea of the quanta in kinetic energy, we definitely don't know how motion works. And even if we grant conservation of energy, that still doesn't answer where energy came from. One of the big physics questions is why there's more matter than antimatter in the universe. If you wanted to posit net zero (that the universe is one big quantum fluctuation) you'd need to show that there isn't an asymmetry. So this still requires (philosophically) asking how anything came to be in motion in the first place.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #141 on: June 21, 2022, 10:16:18 AM »
Motion didn't need to come to be. It is an emergent property of matter. If things exist, they move relative to each other.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #142 on: June 21, 2022, 10:18:20 AM »
Motion didn't need to come to be. It is an emergent property of matter. If things exist, they move relative to each other.

Move how? In relation to what? In what medium? It all requires some kind of answer, even if you don't want to call it motion. You can call it the Prime Force if you want to summarize the various forces rather than focus on relative motion. The argument, such as it is, is fundamentally the same.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #143 on: June 21, 2022, 10:26:16 AM »
If matter exists, it produces force. We currently believe this to be due to tension it creates in space-time. In this sense it's like Kant's argument about a heavy object placed on a cushion: the divot produced in the cushion by the object is caused by the properties of the object itself. According to current theory, matter and energy are expressions of the same form; their mere existence warps reality based on the interaction of certain fundamental forces (which are postulated to exist with varying degrees of proof). If you start with an empty universe and put two balls into it somehow, those two balls will start accelerating towards each other without having ever been "pushed" or "started."

This doesn't solve the argument from necessity or the argument from efficient cause, of course. Why do the balls exist? Why do they continue to exist? How did they get there? But it renders completely unnecessary the argument from motion, because motion is an emergent property of existence.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #144 on: June 21, 2022, 10:49:37 AM »
You know, I just realized I also haven't stated here one of my big gripes about Aquinas' version of "necessity": namely, his insistence that things cease to exist. When you pop a balloon, it doesn't cease to exist any more than melting ice does; it has become something else. When you burn a log, it transforms, but it persists. 

Aquinas believed that something else "necessary" had to exist because in an infinite universe containing a finite number of finite things that all presumably have causes and endings, he felt it unlikely that we would exist at a point where things could be observed to exist unless something else had to exist. But our current model suggests that the universe sprang into existence containing all the matter and energy it has now, and has just been changing the shape of those things for billions of years since. No new Lego is being made; we're just moving bricks around.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #145 on: June 21, 2022, 12:02:49 PM »
But that's not the only divine property we can know through reason, and it's not the only one I mentioned in my first post. We can also discover the properties of fully actual, non-composite, simple, immutable, eternal, immaterial, incorporeal, perfect, omnipotent, fully good, intelligent, and omniscient, and most important to your point, singular. That is to say, all of these properties are actually just one thing, and that thing is God's existence, which is God's essence.

The problem is that defining each of these terms would require so extensive a treatment that they surely cannot just be thrown into a list that's meant to be self-evident. What is "intelligent"? What is "omnipotent"? What is "perfect"? What is "good", no less "fully good"? And I don't just mean what sort of being do you think would have these, I mean what do the terms refer to in reality - do they refer to anything? Do the definitions require parameters, context, a particular undergirding as backdrop to them? These are really hard questions, and it's hard to agree that whatever causes physics to exist has these attributes unless we know exactly what they mean. This is no trivial definitional quibble; it is an issue of whether we are even properly equipped to frame the question.

Quote
I think it's a fair use of language to call that God. It is a subset of the Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish conception God.

If using that term creates confusion rather than understanding then it might be fair but it's not useful. Surely a main purpose to formulating such debates is to get through to people who initially disagree?

Quote
I really don't care if people have pre-programmed knee-jerk reactions against these ideas. That's for them to deal with. I won't make my words less clear or obfuscate their origin as some sort of sly sales pitch. I learned this stuff from Aristotle and Catholics, and a bit from a Shi'i Muslim friend-+. I won't pretend to cast it into a Buddhist frame. That would be a disservice to the Catholics, to the Buddhists, to the person I'm sharing the ideas with, and to myself.

Well the question is what your objective is. If it's to create ecumenical or cross-disciplinary bridges, then you won't be able to only use your own terms and expect others to just adopt them. What's more, if you see your task as being evangelism, then the priority would be to attract the interest of people who don't share your philosophical language or terms. This would especially be true for those who have a distinct animus against the religious terms, balk at the word "God", and will reject out of hand anything that looks like a backdoor argument toward religion. As an evangelist, that's not just for them to deal with, it's for you to deal with (if you see that as your mission).

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #146 on: June 21, 2022, 12:18:09 PM »
If matter exists, it produces force.

Well we don't know it produces it. We know it conveys it. We know mass  exudes gravitation, but we don't know whether the gravitation comes from the mass; maybe it comes from a field that interacts with mass. Maybe it comes from entanglement or micro-wormholes. We can't really say anything about it.

Quote
This doesn't solve the argument from necessity or the argument from efficient cause, of course. Why do the balls exist? Why do they continue to exist? How did they get there? But it renders completely unnecessary the argument from motion, because motion is an emergent property of existence.

IMO these three arguments are almost identical. In fact I have a hunch that if I really wanted to I could reduce them all to a predicate calculus where I could show that they are in fact identical. Necessity is about things existing or not; but as we can easily observe (and as you said) things don't cease to exist, they transform; and their parts therefore are in motion, loosely speaking. Efficient cause is about things requiring causes, which ends up being about the same thing: stuff is happening and it requires an explanation. The first asks why there is anything (or what the implications are that there are things) and the other asks how anything could have been caused (or what the implications are that there are changes in things, which is perhaps the same question as asking why there are things). The Prime Mover argument seems to me essentially the same as these, just focusing on the active/intelligent aspect of it rather than looking for an undefined 'cause'. But I really think that even the former arguments (the Aquinas versions) cannot tolerate this 'cause' being just some other mechanical, if eternal, fact. I think proponents of these arguments would not use the arguments if they only showed some unintelligent physical eternal underpinning.

So based on that I would call all three arguments identical. What you are asking is how anything came to be, since things don't cause themselves and since they persist, etc etc. What I mentioned to Joshua is that I don't see how you can ever get from saying "something" caused it to saying it was an intelligence with agency and intent. I am not invalidating the question, since it is a good question; but I am skeptical of the validity of the necessity of the answer. It is a good answer, but I can't see it as logically necessary given the premises.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #147 on: June 21, 2022, 03:16:59 PM »
I should say that while I'm perfectly happy conflating most of the "things need a cause, except for this one thing, which IS the cause" arguments, there's a reason Joshua has resisted doing it -- and a reason Aquinas called them out separately. (This logic is also very important to the "singular" claim, too.)

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #148 on: June 21, 2022, 03:32:21 PM »
I should say that while I'm perfectly happy conflating most of the "things need a cause, except for this one thing, which IS the cause" arguments, there's a reason Joshua has resisted doing it -- and a reason Aquinas called them out separately. (This logic is also very important to the "singular" claim, too.)

What do you think the reason is?

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: God Exists
« Reply #149 on: June 21, 2022, 04:12:37 PM »
In order to make some of the higher-order claims hung upon Aquinas' Five Proofs, Catholic apologists have historically attempted (with varying degrees of intellectual honesty) to derive other properties from necessity, causation, and motion, and even to assume certain traits from what they thought might be required of a being that was the only such being to incorporate all three. It's a whole, um, THANG. I wasn't joking or exaggerating earlier when I compared Catholic apology to Randian utilitarianism from the POV of a philosophy student; they're very, very similar in function and methods of instruction.