Author Topic: God Exists  (Read 20663 times)

JoshuaD

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God Exists
« on: December 03, 2021, 06:37:57 PM »
1. The universe exists and is intelligible. That is to say, things exist and we can see that there are reasons for why things exist. Things don't pop in and out of existence for no reason.

2. If this weren't true, science and philosophy wouldn't function, and we wouldn't be able to trust our cognitive and sensitive faculties. But science and philosophy do fuction, and we can use reason and our senses to learn about reality.

3. The explanation of the existence of any thing is found either:
  a. In an external cause (in which case, the thing's existence is contingent upon that external cause), or
  b. In the nature of the thing itself (in which case, that thing necessarily exists).

Because the universe is intelligible, there is no third alternative. A thing's existence cannot be explained by nothing.

4. We see contingent things all around us and we ourselves are contingent things.

5. To explain why a contingent thing exists completely, we cannot cite only other contingent things, because that explanation would not be complete. The question would remain: "What causes that other thing to exist?" For example, if I were to say "I exist because of the molecules and particles of my body," that would be true, but incomplete. I also need to explain why the molecules and particles in my body exist, and why the subatomic particle exist, and so on and so forth.

6. Given that, as a matter of reason, there are only two possible explanations for why a contingent thing exists:
  a. At the root of the chain of contingent causes, there is something which necessarily exists and gives existence to the entire chain, or
  b. The chain is an infinite regression of contingent things causing other contingent things, ad infinitum.

7. But an infinite regression is nonsensical; it doesn't actually explain anything. We set out asking "why do I exist, right here, in this moment?" If we try to explain that with an infinite regression, nothing is explained. The whole chain continues to lack any real explanation, no matter how long the chain is.

8. Therefore, the only sensible explanation for the fact of the existence of contingent things in this moment is to recognize that there is a thing which necessarily exists, which sustains all things in being from moment to moment. To be sure, our existence can be (and is) contingent upon other contingent things, but ultimately that chain of causation -- right here in this moment -- must terminate with a thing whose existence is necessary and therefore requires no further explanation. Its nature is to exist.

From there, with similar and smaller chains of reasoning (which I'm glad to write up if someone's interested, I don't want to write a book right now in the first post) we can show that this thing which necessarily exists is: singular, purely actual, absolutely simple and non-composite, immutable, eternal, immaterial, incorporeal, perfect, omnipotent, fully good, intelligent, and omniscient.

That is to say, this thing which necessarily exists and sustains all contingent things in being is God.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2021, 06:43:37 PM by JoshuaD »

fizz

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2021, 07:38:04 AM »
Essentially you are re-purposing the Aristotelian concept of the prime mover, via some adaptations to christian theology from Tommaso d'Aquino and Cartesio.

<shrug> to everyone their own, I guess.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2021, 09:44:47 AM »
JoshuaD,

What sort of feedback are you looking at with this progression? Do you want critique of the connective tissue (i.e. the individual points of logic), or more a conversation about the general tenor of the argument, like what it sort of implies?

LetterRip

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2021, 03:18:40 PM »
It is illogical to have an eternal universe without cause, therefore we posit an all powerful and all knowing eternal being without cause, to cause the universe.

May I suggest you google Occam's Razor.... usually it is covered in Intro to Philosophy courses, but perhaps you were absent that day.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2021, 06:31:55 PM »
JoshuaD,

What sort of feedback are you looking at with this progression? Do you want critique of the connective tissue (i.e. the individual points of logic), or more a conversation about the general tenor of the argument, like what it sort of implies?

I'm open to anything. I've been studying this stuff over the past year or two, I find the arguments convincing, and I'm looking for any conversations around it. I wrote this short summary up for a friend and thought it would be a good idea to cross-post it here.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2021, 07:51:43 PM »
It is illogical to have an eternal universe without cause, therefore we posit an all powerful and all knowing eternal being without cause, to cause the universe.

May I suggest you google Occam's Razor.... usually it is covered in Intro to Philosophy courses, but perhaps you were absent that day.

Yes, something must be the original cause. If you assert that the Universe itself is the uncaused-cause, then the universe will take on a number of the other divine attributes as a matter of reason, and you aren't left with Atheism, but rather Pantheism. I don't find this argument as compelling, but if you'd like to make it, I'd be glad to read it, think about it, and respond.

But, that being said, you should read my argument more carefully. I am not making an argument for historical cause, but rather an explanation for the existence of things right here in this moment.

Were you perhaps absent the day they taught careful reading comprehension?  :P

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2021, 08:17:50 PM »
Essentially you are re-purposing the Aristotelian concept of the prime mover, via some adaptations to christian theology from Tommaso d'Aquino and Cartesio.

<shrug> to everyone their own, I guess.

Yes, this argument is a modern and bare bones version of what those people argued.

Identification and a shrug aren't a refutation or a response. 

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2021, 11:18:28 PM »
It is illogical to have an eternal universe without cause, therefore we posit an all powerful and all knowing eternal being without cause, to cause the universe.

May I suggest you google Occam's Razor.... usually it is covered in Intro to Philosophy courses, but perhaps you were absent that day.

Cheeky responses aside, Occam's Razor isn't a philosophical principle, it's just a recognition of a tendency towards simplicity. It doesn't suggest that the theistic arguments that do talk about an historical chain of causation are wrong. If you think these arguments break that easy, you haven't looked at them with any seriousness.

fizz

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2021, 05:31:08 AM »
Identification and a shrug aren't a refutation or a response.

What I meant is, those arguments are from thousands of years to centuries old, have been argued extensively by a lot of philosophers that had a lot of time and experience at their disposal, and did not convince anyone that was not already sure of the existence of a god in the first place and was searching for a justification of what they already "knew" (also considering that for a whole lot of time, arguing the contrary would have earned you a direct trip to check if an afterlife do really exists or not... and I'm not even talking exclusively about the christian church: impiety was a capital crime in the ancient Greece too).

They are not solid arguments, simply.

The very first problem is that the universe is your argument that the universe is intelligible, where you merge the idea that we, limited humans, can make limited predictions about what will happen in determinate circumstances and "write down" some of the rules (idea with a good track record) with the idea that these rules must be entirely within the scope of the human mind.
It is a working *assumption* for science, because as you rightly point out not assuming it would mean throwing our hands up in surrender, and it paid off in many ways, but it's still an assumption and an hope, not a guarantee... it will work till it will work.

Also, about the things that pop in and out of existence, check virtual particles... one of the theories about the origin of the universe is that it's a vacuum fluctuation, by the way... don't have an idea if that will turn to be the case or not, but it's out there.

The main problem is arguing that an infinite regression is nonsensical: why should it be?
While difficult to parse for our normal mind, infinites pop up constantly in any attempts to deal with the above mentioned rules of the universe and the related math. It's one of the great uplifting stories of human intellect achievements  reading about the mathematicians that dealt with the concept... read about Cantor and Godel... and it's not a coincidence that those mathematicians are posterior to the philosophers that felt the need of having a prime cause.

Also, talking about a chain of cause and effects is related to establishing an arrow of time, and time we know quite well by now thanks to relativity how unreliable of a concept to take as an absolute. For example, nothing preclude having a closed causal loop, we don't observe them commonly but they would not be really so exotic.

And apart for relativity, in quantum mechanics, we have the problem that cause and effect are a bit fuzzy... they tend to be more probabilistic things, like the virtual particles and the vacuum fluctuations things I named earlier.

Moreover, once once you introduce the idea of a causeless cause, why there should be only one of them? Why not many? if there is the possibility of one, there could be another one, and another one... no guarantees...

When you then say that "with similar and smaller chain of reasoning" you can then say that any causeless cause must have the attributes you said it have, well, I know the similar arguments that Descartes made, and Tommaso d'Aquino did... if you have no new arguments, I remember reading theirs and seeing there too the same problems... an absolute effort to bend things so that what was the accepted doctrine (omnipotent, omniscient, all good etc. etc. god) turned out to be the consequence, and a lot of instances where I thought "well, you say that does imply that, I don't think so".

If you want to read a "traditional" philosopher arguing a lot using verbal logic about why those arguments did not work, approach Immanuel Kant, he was still close enough to the older philosophers style to be not too upsetting, but already can show you some of the problems in their thinking in a similar language.

Also, just for at least some of those points, I invite you to read a bit about the theodicy problem, especially related to innocent suffering (small child suffering of bone cancer, or even a gazelle slowly dying with her trachea crushed by a lion): reading most of the proposed solutions to that is a bit like seeing an uncomfortable person twisting themselves in a pretzel trying to find a justification till they yell "squirrel! (mistery of faith!)".
(just as a fun aside, I remembered this old comic being a quite funny but proper explanation of the concept: https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2011-06-30)

Really, the great advance that science have made compared to old style philosophy, is recognizing that our minds are quite apt at making bad reasoning sound convincing of what we want to believe true no matter how intelligent we are, and so introducing those few ground rules as error correction methods.
1. Start from actual observations of the world
2. Make all the theories you want, but only if they can pass this test: use those theories to make a *testable* prediction of something that is not already included in the theory itself
3. Let other informed peers take your theories, observations and predictions and let them try to criticize the theory, and try to reproduce the observations.
4. Until your predictions are verified by your peers, know that at best your theory will be taken with quite a bit pinch of salt
5. Remember that every theory will always be taken as provisionally valid only until new theories and observation will better approximate reality: a theory can only ever be proven false, never true.
5.a (if you did a good job with predictions, take solace in that even "false" theories can still be useful, as new theories will mostly work better on edge cases, i.e. classical newtonian mechanics vs relativity and quantum mechanics)
6. as a corollary of what said before, do not deal with theories you can't test in any way as anything more than as an idle exercise, because as already stated multiple times, human minds are really really good at self deception no matter their intelligence, human language is imperfect, and it's really really easy to slip an unproven assumption and prejudice we have in what looks to us an impeccable logical chain of reasoning but it really is not. And people that follow that same assumption will all nod in agreement and perpetuate the error.














JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2021, 12:30:31 AM »
What I meant is, those arguments are from thousands of years to centuries old, have been argued extensively by a lot of philosophers that had a lot of time and experience at their disposal.

My basic contention is that, regarding these questions, philosophy went off the rails with Descartes. He brought us into the theatre of the mind, and in doing so laid the groundwork for the clever but ultimately defeated and false conclusions of Hume and Nietzsche.

and did not convince anyone that was not already sure of the existence of a god in the first place and was searching for a justification of what they already "knew"....They are not solid arguments, simply.

Hi friend, my name is Josh. I was an agnostic Buddhist for many years, and these arguments convinced me. They are much stronger than you are giving them credit for. I was certain that agnosticism was the true thing, and these arguments slowly knocked me out of my socks.

The very first problem is that the universe is your argument that the universe is intelligible, where you merge the idea that we, limited humans, can make limited predictions about what will happen in determinate circumstances and "write down" some of the rules (idea with a good track record) with the idea that these rules must be entirely within the scope of the human mind.

You misunderstand the assertion. I am not saying that we are able to know everything, or even know every physical thing. I am only saying that the principle of sufficient reason holds.

Also, about the things that pop in and out of existence, check virtual particles... one of the theories about the origin of the universe is that it's a vacuum fluctuation, by the way... don't have an idea if that will turn to be the case or not, but it's out there.

Quantum particles have reasons for what they do. There is a cause.  As a result, scientists are in the process of mapping what those reasons are. If there weren't reasons, then we couldn't do science. But we can do science. Quantum mechanics does not run contradictory to these theist arguments.

The main problem is arguing that an infinite regression is nonsensical: why should it be?

Because two mirrors facing each other will reflect back and forth infinitely, but the image of a face never appears between them unless there is a face somewhere between them. Similarly, an infinite chain of cause and effect that never roots in a causeless-cause of existence doesn't account for existence. The first domino has to fall of its own accord, or none of the infinite chain of dominoes can fall.

While difficult to parse for our normal mind, infinites pop up constantly in any attempts to deal with the above mentioned rules of the universe and the related math. It's one of the great uplifting stories of human intellect achievements  reading about the mathematicians that dealt with the concept... read about Cantor and Godel... and it's not a coincidence that those mathematicians are posterior to the philosophers that felt the need of having a prime cause.

Godel was a Christian. Specifically Theistc, not pantheistc, and following in the line of Leibniz (who made the sort of argument I have made here). link. Cantor was also a Christian. link.

These people don't agree with you about the implications of their mathematical theories. You'll have to sustain your case with an actual line of reasoning if you'd like to suggest that advanced mathematics negates the claims of theistic metaphysics. It seems unlikely to me; the nature of math precludes it from making metaphysical claims.

Also, talking about a chain of cause and effects is related to establishing an arrow of time, and time we know quite well by now thanks to relativity how unreliable of a concept to take as an absolute. For example, nothing preclude having a closed causal loop, we don't observe them commonly but they would not be really so exotic.

You didn't read my argument carefully enough. I did not make a case for a regression towards a first cause in the past. I made the case for a first cause of existence right here in this moment. At this particular moment, why do I exist?  I don't necessarily exist. My potential to exist in this moment must be actualized, in this moment, by something which has existence necessarily. Reality cannot rest upon the the past, because the past no longer exists. All of the things which exist contingently must rest upon something right now in this moment which necessarily exists.

And apart for relativity, in quantum mechanics, we have the problem that cause and effect are a bit fuzzy... they tend to be more probabilistic things, like the virtual particles and the vacuum fluctuations things I named earlier.

As I mentioned earlier, this isn't a problem for the metaphysics I'm describing.

Moreover, once once you introduce the idea of a causeless cause, why there should be only one of them? Why not many? if there is the possibility of one, there could be another one, and another one... no guarantees...

This is a good question!

The causeless cause must be purely actual -- possessing no potentiality -- otherwise it would not be a causeless cause. For there to be more than one purely actual thing, there would have to be some differentiating feature between the two; something that one of them has and the other lacks. But something which is purely actual cannot be lacking in this way, because to be lacking something it could possess is to have an unactualized potential.

So there must be only one causeless cause.

Saying that there are two is sort of like saying there are two number sevens. It doesn't make sense; either the thing pointed at is seven with all of its properties, or it is not. There can't be two unique things that are exactly the number seven, because there is nothing to differentiate them.

When you then say that "with similar and smaller chain of reasoning" you can then say that any causeless cause must have the attributes you said it have, well, I know the similar arguments that Descartes made, and Tommaso d'Aquino did... if you have no new arguments, I remember reading theirs and seeing there too the same problems... an absolute effort to bend things so that what was the accepted doctrine (omnipotent, omniscient, all good etc. etc. god) turned out to be the consequence, and a lot of instances where I thought "well, you say that does imply that, I don't think so".

I came into these arguments very neutrally, and I found them convincing. Please keep in mind that I, and many theist philosophers, think that Descartes' ideas started the cart off the path. St. Thomas's arguments seems sound to me.

If you want to read a "traditional" philosopher arguing a lot using verbal logic about why those arguments did not work, approach Immanuel Kant, he was still close enough to the older philosophers style to be not too upsetting, but already can show you some of the problems in their thinking in a similar language.

Are you able to express his arguments? I'd read them if so. If not, I intend to get to him at some point in the future, but I can't go read him in the next 24 hours and give you a response.

Also, just for at least some of those points, I invite you to read a bit about the theodicy problem, especially related to innocent suffering (small child suffering of bone cancer, or even a gazelle slowly dying with her trachea crushed by a lion): reading most of the proposed solutions to that is a bit like seeing an uncomfortable person twisting themselves in a pretzel trying to find a justification till they yell "squirrel! (mistery of faith!)".
(just as a fun aside, I remembered this old comic being a quite funny but proper explanation of the concept: https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2011-06-30)

I don't find the problem of evil to be a hurdle to theism. Why do you?

Really, the great advance that science have made compared to old style philosophy, is recognizing that our minds are quite apt at making bad reasoning sound convincing of what we want to believe true no matter how intelligent we are, and so introducing those few ground rules as error correction methods.
1. Start from actual observations of the world
2. Make all the theories you want, but only if they can pass this test: use those theories to make a *testable* prediction of something that is not already included in the theory itself
3. Let other informed peers take your theories, observations and predictions and let them try to criticize the theory, and try to reproduce the observations.
4. Until your predictions are verified by your peers, know that at best your theory will be taken with quite a bit pinch of salt
5. Remember that every theory will always be taken as provisionally valid only until new theories and observation will better approximate reality: a theory can only ever be proven false, never true.
5.a (if you did a good job with predictions, take solace in that even "false" theories can still be useful, as new theories will mostly work better on edge cases, i.e. classical newtonian mechanics vs relativity and quantum mechanics)
6. as a corollary of what said before, do not deal with theories you can't test in any way as anything more than as an idle exercise, because as already stated multiple times, human minds are really really good at self deception no matter their intelligence, human language is imperfect, and it's really really easy to slip an unproven assumption and prejudice we have in what looks to us an impeccable logical chain of reasoning but it really is not. And people that follow that same assumption will all nod in agreement and perpetuate the error.

Yeah, science is a great way to form and distill theories about the physical world of things. Science doesn't assert a materialist metaphysics, nor does it remove the need for metaphysics. Science does not answer the question "Why do I exist right now?".  It can map the chain of cause down through our body, cells, molecules, atoms, particles, and likely further in the future. But either it will end at a scientific discovery an uncaused-cause, or its answer will be incomplete. (Note: the uncaused-cause is necessarily non-materialistic, so it seems to be the case that science will run out of gas before it gets there).

Science can't account for everything in our realm of experience. Among other things, it cannot account for free will, the moral law, the existence of the numbers, and qualia. It also doesn't provide anything in the realm of a complete explanation for the existence of reality. It does its job well, but its job is far more narrow than our experiences, the questions we can ask, and the things we can know to be true.

rightleft22

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2021, 10:31:18 AM »
I'm never sure sure what people mean when the us the word god, God, G_d
I think most people assume they know what they and others mean by the word. Its only been recently that I think I know what I mean but words get in the way.

Hollywood seems to assume that those who contemplate God are referring to a Santa Class like being I assume to simplify most of the story lines. 

yossarian22c

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2021, 12:18:43 PM »
1. The universe exists and is intelligible. That is to say, things exist and we can see that there are reasons for why things exist. Things don't pop in and out of existence for no reason.
...

Quantum mechanics kind of disagrees. At the smallest scale particles and their opposite pop into and out of existence all the time. They just annihilate each other shortly after. Relativity and quantum mechanics are strange physical laws. We "understand" them mathematically. Some of the consequences of each are hard to reconcile with our observed reality. There is a somewhat intuitive way to view general relativity as curved space. The practical interpretation of quantum mechanics has been debated by physicists and philosophers for the last 100 years. So looking at Descartes "demon" for an argument of how understandable the universe is a bit outdated to our current understanding of physics.

The universe if vast and complex. We don't understand dark matter or the weird "antigravitational" force (dark energy) that seems to act at long distance to on average push the universe apart.

If the basis of your argument is that the universe is "understandable" then you over estimate our current understanding of the universe other than it is not purely random with physical laws always changing. We assume physical constants are constant and the same everywhere in the universe because to assume otherwise leads to 1,000,000 different physical interpretations events that we can't begin to understand. But who is to say the speed of light at the birth of the universe is the same as it is today. And why is there a universal speed limit to how fast things can move? We have made great strides in understanding the universe, but you underestimate its great mysteries if you think it is completely understandable.

https://xkcd.com/1489/

Make sure to read the mouseover text there. Of the 4 fundamental forces we understand gravity the least at a basic level.

So without going super in depth in the rest of your analysis. If the first axiom is that the universe is completely understandable then you are vastly overestimating our understanding of the universe beyond a way to observe and predict the phenomenon we have mathematical descriptions of. But if you ask the questions why and how those things work you'll end up in a long conversation that ends with physicist shrugging and saying "because that's the way it works." Even the question of why inertial and gravitational mass are equivalent is really hard to grasp if you think about it too much.

Wayward Son

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2021, 02:04:31 PM »
Quote
1. The universe exists and is intelligible. That is to say, things exist and we can see that there are reasons for why things exist. Things don't pop in and out of existence for no reason.

I think there is an unspoken assumption that, if there is a reason for something, there must be an intelligence that created that reason.

There is a reason why two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom form water, but it does not imply that there was an intelligence that decreed it would be so.

The universe in intelligible because it is consistent.  It follows rules.  These rules can be discerned.

But just because there are rules does not mean someone created the rules.  It could be the effect of a natural process that had not intelligence or goal in mind.  It is simply is.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2021, 03:52:44 PM »
I'm never sure sure what people mean when the us the word god, God, G_d
I think most people assume they know what they and others mean by the word. Its only been recently that I think I know what I mean but words get in the way.

Hollywood seems to assume that those who contemplate God are referring to a Santa Class like being I assume to simplify most of the story lines.

I have used the word in a rigorously defined way in this post. I am talking about the properties of God we can know through natural reason: God necessarily exists, is the uncaused-cause, the unmoving mover, his existence is his essence, is singular, purely actual, absolutely simple and non-composite, immutable, eternal, immaterial, incorporeal, perfect, omnipotent, fully good, intelligent, and omniscient.

Naturally, much of God remains a mystery beyond these properties, but this is the thing I am talking about when I use the word God.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2021, 03:54:09 PM »
Wayward and Yossarian: I'll respond to your posts a bit later, I am at work now and need a little more time than I have right now to respond to them fully.

NobleHunter

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2021, 04:26:02 PM »
I feel like this is too simple to work but:

The Laws of Conservation of Mass or Energy states that neither mass nor energy can be either created or destroyed.

For something to exist, it is contingent upon the presence of matter or energy to exist.

Therefore, what exists has always existed in some form. It is in the nature of things to exist since anything which exists cannot cease to exist nor can something which does not exist come into existence.

That existing things appear to be contingent is not due to their existence relying on an external cause but that their organization and current state are contingent upon external causes. The matter that makes up a person has always existed, in one form or another, even if that person has not. Which only moves the question to a chain of contingent organization but organization (by which I mean matter or energy assuming qualities based on differentiation and combination from other types of matter) seems to be a property of existence. Existence organizes itself because it is in the nature of existence to do so.

Therefore, there is no singular thing which alone exists necessarily and gives existence to every other thing.

Tl;dr: Everything qualifies for OP's item 3b, item 4 is the mistake of assuming that because a thing's current state is contingent, the thing's existence is contingent, items 5-8 are therefore dismissed as relying upon an incorrect premise.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2021, 05:25:11 PM »
I haven't had time to post on this topic due to my life being upside down, so I'll try to get to it asap. But just an advisory to many of you on the term "cause", there's a discrepancy between how JoshuaD is using the term versus how all of you are. He's not talking about how things evolve over time or even how they started in a chronological sense. He's talking about the backdrop that permits existence to exist in the first place, which is an eternal thing; think of it analogously to a TV screen: the images on the screen need a cause to allow them to exist. And this doesn't just mean you need to determine when the circuit went on and how the circuitry works and all that, but it means you need to define how they are able to exist (in this case, due to a medium called a screen and energy providing for its operation) and how they persist (the continual existence of the TV and its power source). It's not a chronological question but rather about how it could be that images exist on a screen at all. What permits this? In terms of our universe, the metaphysical question is more like "what is spacetime and what props it up so that it can persist and allow for matter and life to exist" in contrast to a more order/sequence type question like "how did the current arrangement of matter come into its configuration".

TheDrake

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2021, 05:41:17 PM »
Highly recommend Heinlein's delightful story, which luckily exists in PDF form, By His Bootstraps

Plenty of room to avoid the *need* for pedantic cause and effect. In fact, even Hawking talked about cause and effect being a perception based on entropy more than a fixed direction. The short run series "Devs" also has some fun things to say about cause, effect, and free will.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2021, 09:52:33 PM »
Quantum mechanics kind of disagrees. At the smallest scale particles and their opposite pop into and out of existence all the time. They just annihilate each other shortly after. Relativity and quantum mechanics are strange physical laws. We "understand" them mathematically. Some of the consequences of each are hard to reconcile with our observed reality. There is a somewhat intuitive way to view general relativity as curved space. The practical interpretation of quantum mechanics has been debated by physicists and philosophers for the last 100 years. So looking at Descartes "demon" for an argument of how understandable the universe is a bit outdated to our current understanding of physics.

Quantum Mechanics is still under development, and the Broglie-Bohm hidden variable interpretation allows for quantum mechanics to be deterministic.

But it doesn't matter. The sort of causality I am describing here does not entail determinism. A cause only needs to make an effect intelligible, it does not need to do so deterministically. Quantum mechanics shows us that the quantum world is intelligible.

The universe if vast and complex. We don't understand dark matter or the weird "antigravitational" force (dark energy) that seems to act at long distance to on average push the universe apart.

Yes.

If the basis of your argument is that the universe is "understandable"

That is not the basis of my argument. The first statement can be instead written as "The principle of sufficient reason is true."

but you underestimate its great mysteries if you think it is completely understandable.

I do not think the universe or reality is completely understandable by any human's mind. I firmly think the opposite. I think it is our nature to be limited creatures with limited intellects.

https://xkcd.com/1489/
Make sure to read the mouseover text there. Of the 4 fundamental forces we understand gravity the least at a basic level.

lol, I love XKCD. However, I am making the opposite argument than that you imagine.

But if you ask the questions why and how those things work you'll end up in a long conversation that ends with physicist shrugging and saying "because that's the way it works.".

Yeah, because eventually the questions go beyond the realm of science and into the realm of metaphysics.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2021, 10:01:06 PM »
I think there is an unspoken assumption that, if there is a reason for something, there must be an intelligence that created that reason.

No, this is a not an assumption. I think we can conclude that God has intelligence, but we don't start there or assume it. 

There is a reason why two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom form water, but it does not imply that there was an intelligence that decreed it would be so. The universe in intelligible because it is consistent.  It follows rules.  These rules can be discerned.

But just because there are rules does not mean someone created the rules.  It could be the effect of a natural process that had not intelligence or goal in mind.  It is simply is.

So you agree with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 of my original post, but disagree with me beyond that and instead assert that the universe itself is the causeless cause?

rightleft22

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2021, 10:14:20 AM »
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Highly recommend Heinlein's delightful story, which luckily exists in PDF form, By His Bootstraps
Thanks for sharing - I enjoyed that

Wayward Son

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2021, 12:19:05 PM »
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So you agree with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 of my original post, but disagree with me beyond that and instead assert that the universe itself is the causeless cause?

I think so.  Re-reading your propositions, I have no major quarrel with any of them.  (Reserving the right for minor quibbles if I come up with any. :) )

I'm not sure the universe is necessarily "the causeless cause."  There very well may be something that caused the universe to be.  (In modern terms, "what caused the Big Band?") But then that brings into question what caused that cause.  Eventually, we will come to a point where we have to assume that something simply exists without a cause, unless it is literally "turtles all the way down." :)

However, I see no reason to assume (or way to prove) that this "causeless cause" must be intelligent, omnipotent, etc.  I can see it as neutral and mindless as physics and nature--that everything we see about us is simply a happy coincidence (or the result of every possibility happening, which takes out chance and probability).

I look forward to seeing your reasoning for intelligence in the "causeless cause."

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2021, 12:46:27 PM »
In modern terms, "what caused the Big Band?"

From Wiki:

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Before 1910, social dance in America was dominated by steps such as the waltz and polka. As jazz migrated from its New Orleans origin to Chicago and New York City, energetic, suggestive dances traveled with it. During the next decades, ballrooms filled with people doing the jitterbug and Lindy Hop. The dance duo Vernon and Irene Castle popularized the foxtrot while accompanied by the Europe Society Orchestra led by James Reese Europe.

One of the first bands to accompany the new rhythms was led by a drummer, Art Hickman, in San Francisco in 1916. Hickman's arranger, Ferde Grofé, wrote arrangements in which he divided the jazz orchestra into sections that combined in various ways. This intermingling of sections became a defining characteristic of big bands. In 1919, Paul Whiteman hired Grofé to use similar techniques for his band. Whiteman was educated in classical music, and he called his new band's music symphonic jazz. The methods of dance bands marked a step away from New Orleans jazz. With the exception of Jelly Roll Morton, who continued playing in the New Orleans style, bandleaders paid attention to the demand for dance music and created their own big bands.[3] They incorporated elements of Broadway, Tin Pan Alley, ragtime, and vaudeville.

Wayward Son

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #23 on: December 07, 2021, 05:39:20 PM »
Thanks, Fenring.  I always wondered...  ;D

DJQuag

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #24 on: December 08, 2021, 07:48:40 PM »
This all seems to have an anthromorphical bias behind it.

We exist, therefore we must be special. That's the idea. And yet, we have no idea just how large the universe actually is. The biggest telescopes and best technology can only show things that are close enough to share their light with us, within the last few billion years. We don't know how big the universe is, and literally can not know. For all we know, it could be an infinitely big place, with us and our observed "universe" taking up one very small part.

That may be getting off topic, I guess. If you roll enough dice you'll get whatever result you want. In this case, it's animals in the ape classification looking into the sky and wondering what the meaning of "is," is. Those animals are inclined to think that because they're "special," the universe itself must have been crafted to their own specific needs.

You say it's God. I say in an unlimited uni(or multi)verse with unlimited attempts at least one of them will give us our current world, and we don't need to fall to our knees and open our mouths because of that.

rightleft22

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2021, 01:33:07 PM »
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You say it's God. I say in an unlimited uni(or multi)verse with unlimited attempts at least one of them will give us our current world, and we don't need to fall to our knees and open our mouths because of that.

I don't want to derail the thread
How are you using the word God here. A some one or being to be worshiped?
Personally unlimited uni(or multi)verse sounds pretty awesome and I might fall to my knees in wonder if I was able to experience it as such


TheDrake

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #26 on: December 09, 2021, 02:11:48 PM »
If God is an intelligent and omniscient designer, he isn't very good at it or he's just mean. Just look at eyesight, often quoted as intelligent design. One that left out infrared, night vision, higher resolution, and reliability.

Very well suited to conditions of a million years ago, when they evolved, completely broken and inadequate for the needs of today's humans. Adding omnipotence, this could be fixed any time in short order

But really the best counter arguments to this God postulation are conveniently assembled by hawking.

https://www.themarginalian.org/2019/07/17/stephen-hawking-brief-answers-to-the-big-questions/

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #27 on: December 09, 2021, 02:46:56 PM »
I look forward to seeing your reasoning for intelligence in the "causeless cause."

I'm working on it for you now. I'll have it sometime in the next few days. I'd like to get it out clear and clean, so it might take me a little while.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #28 on: December 09, 2021, 02:51:51 PM »
If God is an intelligent and omniscient designer, he isn't very good at it or he's just mean. Just look at eyesight, often quoted as intelligent design. One that left out infrared, night vision, higher resolution, and reliability.

Very well suited to conditions of a million years ago, when they evolved, completely broken and inadequate for the needs of today's humans. Adding omnipotence, this could be fixed any time in short order

But really the best counter arguments to this God postulation are conveniently assembled by hawking.

https://www.themarginalian.org/2019/07/17/stephen-hawking-brief-answers-to-the-big-questions/

If we had those powers, we'd then be complaining how we didn't have IQs 50 points higher or the ability to fly, or our dependence on oxygen, or our limited age, or our fleshly bodies, or any of the other limitations human beings face.

Our nature is to be limited. We are dumb, made of flesh, and with limited senses. I don't think it is evil or mean of God to make creation and to make beings lesser than himself.  The nature of this complaint is that it is true for every single created being, because we are all less than God.I don't think it's a fair criticism.

I also reject the assertion that our senses are inadequate for today's humans. Inadequate for what end? Our senses and minds are sufficient for us to be good and live good lives, and that is all we need.



JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #29 on: December 09, 2021, 02:52:58 PM »
This all seems to have an anthromorphical bias behind it.

Why do you think that? I see nothing of the sort in my original post.

rightleft22

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #30 on: December 09, 2021, 03:24:51 PM »
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If God is an intelligent and omniscient designer, he isn't very good at it or he's just mean
Every beginning story I have come across involves the birth of ego consciousness brought about via a confrontation with the problem of opposites the birth of duality 
It is only within duality that God is associated with a judgment of good and being mean which says nothing of G_d

Life is as it is and must be.
J Campbell suggested that THE question behind the hero journey, and reflected in the various wisdom teachings, Is - How to respond to Life as it Is? Life's wonder and horror? Life devouring life for life... birth, death, renewal the reality of every breathe we take. I was taught to answer with a No we can fix it by following the rules. That hasn't worked out so well.  I think the better answer is a YES

TheDrake

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #31 on: December 09, 2021, 03:33:26 PM »
If God is an intelligent and omniscient designer, he isn't very good at it or he's just mean. Just look at eyesight, often quoted as intelligent design. One that left out infrared, night vision, higher resolution, and reliability.

Very well suited to conditions of a million years ago, when they evolved, completely broken and inadequate for the needs of today's humans. Adding omnipotence, this could be fixed any time in short order

But really the best counter arguments to this God postulation are conveniently assembled by hawking.

https://www.themarginalian.org/2019/07/17/stephen-hawking-brief-answers-to-the-big-questions/

If we had those powers, we'd then be complaining how we didn't have IQs 50 points higher or the ability to fly, or our dependence on oxygen, or our limited age, or our fleshly bodies, or any of the other limitations human beings face.

Our nature is to be limited. We are dumb, made of flesh, and with limited senses. I don't think it is evil or mean of God to make creation and to make beings lesser than himself.  The nature of this complaint is that it is true for every single created being, because we are all less than God.I don't think it's a fair criticism.

I also reject the assertion that our senses are inadequate for today's humans. Inadequate for what end? Our senses and minds are sufficient for us to be good and live good lives, and that is all we need.

How many people get severe burns because we can't tell if a door is hot? As a person involved in design, we are always trying to improve the design - only limited by technology, time, expense, or some other factor. A supreme being would deliberately be crippling his creations for what purpose - personal amusement? But you've already heard and rejected all of these arguments - like what is that appendix doing there?

That wasn't the thrust of your original argument, but got introduced when you stipulated the qualities of God. That this entity is good, omniscient, and omnipotent is rather hard to support.

To the original point, nothing has to have caused the universe mathematically, it can just pop into existence. Common sense arguments break down and fail in the contemplation of singularities and the absence of time itself.

Wayward Son

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #32 on: December 09, 2021, 03:57:46 PM »
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To the original point, nothing has to have caused the universe mathematically, it can just pop into existence. Common sense arguments break down and fail in the contemplation of singularities and the absence of time itself.

Perhaps, but...what caused the mathematics to work? ;)

We as humans will always look for a cause, a reason that something happened.  Then we will look for the reason for that reason.  And so on, turtles all the way down. :)

Which made me think: does God live in a universe?  He is outside our universe, of course, since He created it.  But does He have His own?  Are there things around God that are not God?  If so, where did His universe come from?  If not, can intelligence exist alone?  Can a universe be intelligent, when It has only Itself?  What is there to be intelligent about? ;)

TheDrake

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #33 on: December 09, 2021, 04:22:56 PM »
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Imagine a river, flowing down a mountainside. What caused the river? Well, perhaps the rain that fell earlier in the mountains. But then, what caused the rain? A good answer would be the Sun, that shone down on the ocean and lifted water vapour up into the sky and made clouds. Okay, so what caused the Sun to shine? Well, if we look inside we see the process known as fusion, in which hydrogen atoms join to form helium, releasing vast quantities of energy in the process. So far so good. Where does the hydrogen come from? Answer: the Big Bang. But here’s the crucial bit. The laws of nature itself tell us that not only could the universe have popped into existence without any assistance, like a proton, and have required nothing in terms of energy, but also that it is possible that nothing caused the Big Bang. Nothing.

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Something very wonderful happened to time at the instant of the Big Bang. Time itself began.

To understand this mind-boggling idea, consider a black hole floating in space. A typical black hole is a star so massive that it has collapsed in on itself. It’s so massive that not even light can escape its gravity, which is why it’s almost perfectly black. It’s gravitational pull is so powerful, it warps and distorts not only light but also time. To see how, imagine a clock is being sucked into it. As the clock gets closer and closer to the black hole, it begins to get slower and slower. Time itself begins to slow down. Now imagine the clock as it enters the black hole — well, assuming of course that it could withstand the extreme gravitational forces– it would actually stop. It stops not because it is broken, but because inside the black hole time itself doesn’t exist. And that’s exactly what happened at the start of the universe.

[…]

As we travel back in time towards the moment of the Big Bang, the universe gets smaller and smaller and smaller, until it finally comes to a point where the whole universe is a space so small that it is in effect a single infinitesimally small, infinitesimally dense black hole. And just as with modern-day black holes, floating around in space, the laws of nature dictate something quite extraordinary. They tell us that here too time itself must come to a stop. You can’t get to a time before the Big Bang because there was no time before the Big Bang. We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me this means that there is no possibility of a creator, because there is no time for a creator to have existed in.

We just don't have a mechanism to comprehend the absence of time, since we require time and entropy to even form thoughts.

We believe in nothing, Lebowski!

rightleft22

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #34 on: December 09, 2021, 04:38:41 PM »
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Which made me think: does God live in a universe?  He is outside our universe, of course, since He created it.  But does He have His own?  Are there things around God that are not God?  If so, where did His universe come from?  If not, can intelligence exist alone?  Can a universe be intelligent, when It has only Itself?  What is there to be intelligent about?

The Kabbalah deal with some of these questions. 3 of the sefirot taking place before the big band with G_d removes it self to create space so that it can fill it.  I likely screwed that up :)

Ephrem Moseley

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #35 on: December 15, 2021, 07:08:43 AM »
No no no.

Simulation Argument plus optimism equals God.

simple as that

welcome to my Heaven, gentlemen

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #36 on: December 15, 2021, 03:17:44 PM »
Ok, I finally have a few minutes so I'll take a stab at addressing the main issues in the causeless cause argument (this version of it). Fundamentally there are a ton of hidden premises baked into any abstract argument like this - I call it abstract because almost by definition it's not an empirical deduction based on observations, but an argument from axioms only. So we must look at these axioms in order to see not only whether the conclusions follow, but why these axioms should be accepted in the first place. Otherwise we have two possible situations:

1) The axioms are reasonable, but ultimately inaccurate, and so the theory is consistent but also false.
2) The axioms are unreasonable, or undefined, in which case the syllogism becomes immediately suspect.

Part of the issues raised starting in the late 19th century is that language is a barrier that needs crossing before we can be certain what we're saying. It's not enough to use a term, but it has to be clear that person A and person B not only *think* they mean the same thing by it, but in fact DO mean the same thing by it; and moreover, that they are both not merely inventing something that is merely a figment of their imaginations. I think Plato and the Peripatetics anticipated the major issues involved in tackling the definition of a term. You can have a dialogue like the Republic ostensibly about trying to define "justice", but in reality it ends up being a discourse on how problematic it is to even frame an attempt on the definition.

So let's start with a few of the axioms that are stated overtly in the above schema:

1. The universe exists and is intelligible. That is to say, things exist and we can see that there are reasons for why things exist. Things don't pop in and out of existence for no reason.

Clause 1 "the universe exists and is intelligible" is the axiom here; "things exist and we can see..." is apparently an explanation, or elaboration, of what this axiom is supposed to mean. But the problem arises inevitably: how to define a tricky axiom without resort to terms that require even more definitional apparatus than the axiom does. One huge example of this becomes immediately apparent: what does it mean to say that "we can see" that "there are reasons for why things exist"? Who is this "we"? Is this really an axiom with a baked in principle that the following applies to everyone by definition? And that thing that "we" can see is that there are "reasons" for why things exist. I can explain trivially why this is too much to bite off: I personally couldn't even agree that "I see that there are reasons for why things exist." In fact I have no knowledge at all about why things exist. To use Hume's argument, the only reason I can even say they exist at all is through experience; it just so happens this is how it always was when I was young, and still appears to be now; but nothing in this suggests either a law or an explanation; just the mere fact itself that these things are there and continue to be there each day. This is a huge issue, because there is a potential limitation built-in to things about what I can say about them sight unseen. Pure reason cannot tell me why things exist, even though empirical experience can make me used to the fact that they do. Before I spend an eon taking on axiom 1, let's move on for a moment.

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2. If this weren't true, science and philosophy wouldn't function, and we wouldn't be able to trust our cognitive and sensitive faculties. But science and philosophy do fuction, and we can use reason and our senses to learn about reality.

The axiom is here is that science and philosophy do function; and from this we can gather some corollaries. But what does it mean to say they do function? Now if we're being informal we can say that the reasoning process seems to bear fruits; that much we can agree on. Engineering models work, and so forth. But it's not enough to say they work; this axiom requires that they work specifically in such a manner that axiom 1 is justified. Axiom 1 says that we know the reasons why things exist; and so for axiom 2 to support axiom 1, it requires that science and philosophy work because we know why things exist. But this is in fact not necessarily true. It is entirely possible for things to work for reasons we do not understand at all. Animals, just by comparison, have instincts that generate productive impulses. For examples, beavers can build dams; but this does not mean they understand why dams work, or even that they work. They just do the thing they're programmed to do because it's their heuristic and it keeps their species going. A sort of selection process got them here (if we believe the Darwinian story) but certainly not a chain of reasoning. Why should be assume our logic and scientific success is a result of 'true understanding' as opposed to just a series of heuristics that get results but for reasons we know not why? Whis "why" is the connective tissue between axiom 1 and axiom 2. Without it, we can't really say we 'know' why things exist, and we would be restricted into saying, as in the pragmatic school, we can get things to work in certain ways and our unstanding stops around there.

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3. The explanation of the existence of any thing is found either:
  a. In an external cause (in which case, the thing's existence is contingent upon that external cause), or
  b. In the nature of the thing itself (in which case, that thing necessarily exists).

I was being specific about term use before to illustrate a point, which becomes absolutely central here in axiom 3. To my satisfaction, we have not yet established that we do have the capacity to explain why anything exists, but nevertheless we are trying to trackle the problem of assigning reasons for that existence. I understand the desire to ask how things can be, but as with Aristotle, I find it highly problematic to assume we have all the possibilities at hand to list them exahustively (and the Aristotealian reasoning breaks down if you can show the lists are not exhaustive, because often it is really quite essentially that they are airtight and allow for no other possibilities). In this case two possibilities are offered. I can't say what I think of them because I don't know how "causing" works as axiom 3 seems to employ the term. Without knowing the mechanics of "causing" it's hard to me to agree that these are the only two possibities. In fact it's hard for me to even agree that these two listed are possibilities. For instance, what does (b) mean, in clear an definable terms? How can a thing's existence be explained in the 'nature of the thing itself'? Without an example of this it's hard to see how this clause is definable. Like, what does it really mean, and how can we know that we are not just using words improperly?

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4. We see contingent things all around us and we ourselves are contingent things.

I think if I'm tracking the chain of arguments, axiom 4 is really foundational for axiom 3, rather than the other way around. It seems that the working definition of 'thing whose cause is in its own nature' must begin with a statement of what that is not, which is to say, all the stuff and creatures we see every day. So in order to put forward a definition of a self-causing thing, we need to first define what a contingent thing is, since these we actually see (according to the argument). But here is a funny, if unintuitive question: how do we actually know that all of this stuff is contingent? Contingent on what, and in what manner? Certainly we could suppose that nothing comes from nothing (another, major, axiom), and so if there is something then therefore it came from or is supported by something else (the contingency). But that supposition seems to also suffer from a definitional problem, again, of what it means to say something 'causes' these things. And I'm being quite honest when I say I don't know what this term means. I am very familiar with this type of argument, btw, but what I see in them is they always take for granted certain things as being obvious which I think are not obvious at all. In fact, they are devilishly tricky because we want to feel like they don't require explanation. But this is a formal argument, and must be mathematically tight. We can't make use of "well everyone knows X" type assumptions.

The remaining axioms all essentially rest on axioms 1-4 being agreed upon, so I can stop here for the moment. Obviously if we had a clear and consistent definition of "contingent" and "self-caused", and moreover knew these were in fact 'real things' and not just made-up terms, it wouldn't be very hard to show how the objects in our world obviously require this contingency to rest on something. Whether that 'something' must be omniscient, etc, is IMO a totally other paper topic. I've seen proofs of the existence of God before, and typically they are very careful to avoid making any sort of statements about that God which are just re-interations of an extent faith system. So they define God merely as "that thing we are talking about which is an uncaused cause", and insist they are not necessarily talking about the God of any particular faith. Obviously they actually are, but the argument itself is not, which is the point.

These types of approaches are really tempting, but always require we make positive assertions that are IMO above our mental pay grade. We don't necessarily have the apparatus to define causes all the way to the bottom, nor to understand what it could even mean to say a thing self-causes (or doesn't). Actually in Catholicism that's one of the mysteries (the trinity, essentially), which is to say, it's a thing that should be pondered but never explained because it can't be explained by us (according to that faith system). So ironically it's often an atheistic notion that all things are explainable, whereas some faith systems maintain that human knowledge has limits and our reasoning cannot breach certain boundaries. Just for instance, Buddhism and Catholicism are completely incompatible on this particular point, since Buddhism suggests we can attain perfect true knowledge, whereas Catholicism says that this is impossible.

yossarian22c

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #37 on: December 16, 2021, 02:30:22 PM »
Quantum mechanics kind of disagrees. At the smallest scale particles and their opposite pop into and out of existence all the time. They just annihilate each other shortly after. Relativity and quantum mechanics are strange physical laws. We "understand" them mathematically. Some of the consequences of each are hard to reconcile with our observed reality. There is a somewhat intuitive way to view general relativity as curved space. The practical interpretation of quantum mechanics has been debated by physicists and philosophers for the last 100 years. So looking at Descartes "demon" for an argument of how understandable the universe is a bit outdated to our current understanding of physics.

Quantum Mechanics is still under development, and the Broglie-Bohm hidden variable interpretation allows for quantum mechanics to be deterministic.

But it doesn't matter. The sort of causality I am describing here does not entail determinism. A cause only needs to make an effect intelligible, it does not need to do so deterministically. Quantum mechanics shows us that the quantum world is intelligible.

...
Long delay in my response as well.

By intelligible you simply mean not completely random? A universe that had completely random and changing physical laws wouldn't be stable enough for life to ever form. So if such a universe existed there would be no creatures who ever moved far enough along the evolutionary chain to question their existence and the nature of the universe.

But at a fundamental level I have a question about your logic chain.
1) The universe can't just exist (in its intelligible state)
2) Some other stuff ... therefore there is a creator of said universe.

At the end of the whole chain (assuming I agree with all the premises and logic for a minute) I have the question. Where did this being with powers beyond anything we've observed come from? How did God come into existence? Was God created by a previous entity? God's origination from nothing seems as problematic logically as the universe being born from a big bang/nothing. How can an entity/intelligence outside of our universe have the power and capability to create everything in existence? Is it a Scott Adam's argument that the universe is God's debris?

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #38 on: December 16, 2021, 03:07:42 PM »
Where did this being with powers beyond anything we've observed come from?

Not sure if you had the will the wade through my wall of text just above, but I think this may be a similiar question to mine when I mentioned requiring a serious definition for "self-caused", which is one of two class of ways things can exist according to the chain of reasoning (the other of which is contingent things, 'caused' by something else). I need to know what "caused" means, formally speaking.

I think you would find it difficult to even frame a question about 'where' God came from, since according to at minimum the Christian schema of God, God exists outside of time...so there is no "before". So 'caused' in this sense isn't an issue of chronological sequence, i.e. investigating what came 'before' in a chain of occurances. It's more a question of what in the world "uncaused cause" means in the first place IMO.


Ephrem Moseley

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #40 on: December 19, 2021, 02:19:52 AM »
distraction?

okay then

"No no no.

Simulation Argument plus optimism equals God.

simple as that

welcome to my Heaven, gentlemen"

Bueller?

Grant

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #41 on: December 21, 2021, 03:22:39 PM »
Ahhhhh.  The old debate.  The only debate.  High philosophy here.  I feel that Ornery still does not have the sophistication and background education to give this debate justice, but when has that every stopped anybody? 

Anyways Josh,  I feel that your central argument lends a great deal to later scholastic, Neo-Thomist, Neo-Aristotelean arguments.  I don't know if you came up with it all on your own, but what you are describing has best been laid out by Prof Edward Feser in his books The Last Superstition and Five Proofs For the Existence of God.  William Lane Craig uses a slightly different breakdown of the cosmological argument, and even Mortimer Adler discussed a similar argument in his book How to Think About God.  If you havn't read any of these individuals, I would give them all a try, with Feser being first, though The Last Superstition is very polemistic.

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Therefore, the only sensible explanation for the fact of the existence of contingent things in this moment is to recognize that there is a thing which necessarily exists, which sustains all things in being from moment to moment.

The crux of the argument here, which I imagine most people have missed, is that something is necessary to cause not only the beginning of causality, but something is necessary to support causality and existence right here and right now.  That is to say, that God would not just be a spark, but a pillar, that supports and maintains existence and causality throughout time. 

The most cogent counter to this argument that I have read is that of Mortimer Adler, who poses the question as to why existential momentum could not be assumed to exist.  IE, in the same way a body in motion tends to stay in motion, that a universe that exists tends to stay existing, without any external support. 

The second thing I would mention as a critique of the argument is that I have never heard of anyone being convinced by it as a starting point.  I have heard of people being convinced by the argument at the end of the journey, but not at the beginning of a journey to seek God.   

It is my experience that God, if it exists, is both extremely eminent and yet extremely hidden.  A theist will explain that evidence for the existence of a supernatural creator is all around us at all times, while an atheist will say that there is no evidence, certainly no proof, at all.  While this may make me something of a Fideist, and is somewhat heretical from a Scholastic point of view, I tend to believe that sans divine revelation, an individual must be looking with an open heart and open mind to find God.  Some people just don't have that, and logical arguments are not going to sway them.  The search for God starts with something personal, usually something sensed as missing from a purely materialistic explanation of the universe.  Some atheists on the other hand seem to start with the concept of the existence of a supernatural and omniscient and ever-present creator to be offensive to their senses of justice, privacy, and materialistic view of the universe.  The Christian concept of God can offend them even more, depending on the sophistication of the concept. 

Regardless, I think that finding God begins and ends in the heart, not in the mind. 


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Letterrip:May I suggest you google Occam's Razor.... usually it is covered in Intro to Philosophy courses, but perhaps you were absent that day.

Pretty rude.  But that's kinda calling the kettle black.  William of Ockham was a Franciscan monk and Scholastic rebel.  I don't believe for one second that he would agree with your view of his philosophy, or of Bertrand Russell's use of it.  But he did believe that reason could not prove the existence of God, and that the only proof could come by revelation.  He had some rather weird concepts for a Scholastic.  But I imagine that one could argue that the theory of a supernatural being creating a material universe ex nihilo requires less variables than a material universe coming into being ex nihilo by itself.  It would be like a criminal arguing that Ockham's Razor supports the theory that the 10,000 boxes of shaving razors in his garage just appeared from nothing rather than from him stealing them, because the idea of the razors just appearing from nothing requires less variables. 

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They are not solid arguments, simply.

Hmmmm.  Then why are they still around? 

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Hollywood seems to assume that those who contemplate God are referring to a Santa Class like being I assume to simplify most of the story lines.

I think this is a general caricature of Theism as a whole, though there is plenty of historical evidence of that kind of simplistic view, and there are still plenty of people whose view of their God is highly personable.  But it's a scale really, with Santa at one end and something completely unknowable and unexplainable yet eminent and necessary at the other.   

As I read though many responses, I'm struck again at how a little knowledge and a little philosophy is generally dangerous.  The concept of the existence or non-existence of God is a highly technical debate when you get into philosophy, and encompasses a whole bunch of branches.  Metaphysics, epistemology, logic, cosmology, and natural theology.  It's a highly technical subject that ends up dealing with the fundamental background of existence and the debating of it on a philosophical level is complex to say the least. It should probably be left to professionals. 

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #42 on: December 21, 2021, 05:12:09 PM »
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I don't know if you came up with it all on your own, but what you are describing has best been laid out by Prof Edward Feser in his books The Last Superstition and Five Proofs For the Existence of God. William Lane Craig uses a slightly different breakdown of the cosmological argument, and even Mortimer Adler discussed a similar argument in his book How to Think About God.  If you havn't read any of these individuals, I would give them all a try, with Feser being first, though The Last Superstition is very polemistic. 

I definitely did not come up with this on my own, I'm nowhere near that bright. I am currently reading that exact book by Feser and am trying to gain full comprehension and mastery of the arguments he has modernized. The argument I made at the beginning of this thread is a very simple version of the fifth proof in that book, which I wrote up for a friend on discord and then re-posted here. I didn't intend to give the impression that this was my construction and I don't think anyone took it that way, but apologies if that wasn't clear.

I like WLC a lot as well. I haven't read or heard Mortimer Adler yet, but I will check him out.  Thanks for his name.

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The crux of the argument here, which I imagine most people have missed, is that something is necessary to cause not only the beginning of causality, but something is necessary to support causality and existence right here and right now.  That is to say, that God would not just be a spark, but a pillar, that supports and maintains existence and causality throughout time. 

Yes. A few people missed this point and it's a key point. Fenring also pointed this out.

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The most cogent counter to this argument that I have read is that of Mortimer Adler, who poses the question as to why existential momentum could not be assumed to exist.  IE, in the same way a body in motion tends to stay in motion, that a universe that exists tends to stay existing, without any external support. 

Yeah, existential inertia is the best argument I have come across that is contrary to these arguments but I don't find it compelling.

Question: why does this thing exist?
Answer: Because the thing existed previously, and in that previous time-slice, it had this property of existential inertia.

The problem I see with existential inertia is that neither the property nor the thing exist at timeslice T, they only existed at timeslice T-1.  In order for the thing to exist, something which exists must give them existence. The thing itself cannot do that, and the property resides in the existence of the thing. It looks like an incoherent bootstrapping to me.


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It is my experience that God, if it exists, is both extremely eminent and yet extremely hidden.  A theist will explain that evidence for the existence of a supernatural creator is all around us at all times, while an atheist will say that there is no evidence, certainly no proof, at all.  While this may make me something of a Fideist, and is somewhat heretical from a Scholastic point of view, I tend to believe that sans divine revelation, an individual must be looking with an open heart and open mind to find God. 

I agree that we need an open mind to find any truth. This stuff isn't chess -- when you make a bad move, you don't instantly lose. Most people can and do spend a lifetime holding false beliefs and truths. A certain amount of sincere openness is essential for any growth.

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Some people just don't have that, and logical arguments are not going to sway them.  The search for God starts with something personal, usually something sensed as missing from a purely materialistic explanation of the universe.

Yeah. People have free will and reason is not a bludgeon. People can ignore it if they want. That being said, give me an open-minded atheist and it's pretty easy to start stacking up all of the immediate experiences which cannot be accounted for through materialism alone.  Most people just haven't thought it all the way through.

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Some atheists on the other hand seem to start with the concept of the existence of a supernatural and omniscient and ever-present creator to be offensive to their senses of justice, privacy, and materialistic view of the universe.  The Christian concept of God can offend them even more, depending on the sophistication of the concept. 

Yeah, there is a real allergy in atheists to look at these arguments. Most of them will just scoff at them, strawmen them, or dance around them. Some people (Graham Oppie, for example) will grab them head on and try to engage, but in my experience, a lot of people refuse to even comprehend them. They sort of short-circuit very quickly.

I have tried to develop the habit of being able to fully comprehend and entertain an idea as it is before dismissing it. It's not always easy though.

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As I read though many responses, I'm struck again at how a little knowledge and a little philosophy is generally dangerous.  The concept of the existence or non-existence of God is a highly technical debate when you get into philosophy, and encompasses a whole bunch of branches.  Metaphysics, epistemology, logic, cosmology, and natural theology.  It's a highly technical subject that ends up dealing with the fundamental background of existence and the debating of it on a philosophical level is complex to say the least. It should probably be left to professionals.

I agree with a lot of your post, but I strongly disagree with this last paragraph.

Philosophy is hard and we should have a certain amount of humility when we deal with it, in recognition of the fact that literally every named philosopher I disagree with could run circles around me with their mental acuity.

At the same time, we shouldn't surrender our reason to "professionals". We should adopt the proper humility and then use the virtues that we have to do our best to understand our experiences. For some people, that will entail more mundane faith -- believing what other people tell them -- while for others it will entail more critical analysis. 

Metaphysics is hard and it's big, but it's ultimately comprehensible.  I think we'd be a lot better off if people took the time to try to understand it and, for example, stopped assuming that a materialist metaphysics was a necessary conclusion of science, or if they took the time to recognize all of the intellectual consequences of a skeptical metaphysics ala Hume.

Grant

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #43 on: December 21, 2021, 05:34:36 PM »
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That being said, give me an open-minded atheist and it's pretty easy to start stacking up all of the immediate experiences which cannot be accounted for through materialism alone.

Oh, materialism is easy.  Unless you're Tom Davidson.  He really should be here to give his side of the matter.  But IMO a good mathematician should be able to put up a stern defense against strict materialism.  And it's a start on material atheism, but it is one thing to say that things like the square root of negative one exists, and another to say that the universe was created by something that was uncreated that is a consciousness without matter. 

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Yeah, there is a real allergy in atheists to look at these arguments. Most of them will just scoff at them, strawmen them, or dance around them. Some people (Graham Oppie, for example) will grab them head on and try to engage, but in my experience, a lot of people refuse to even comprehend them. They sort of short-circuit very quickly.

I have tried to develop the habit of being able to fully comprehend and entertain an idea as it is before dismissing it. It's not always easy though.

All people are primarily emotional thinkers and post hoc reasoners.  It's easy to try and not be an emotional thinker, but it's usually being done after we have already formed an opinion.  I remember some story being presented, I think by David Hait, about how individuals with brain damage that effected their emotions, left them less emotional, turned them into highly unethical people or made them unable to make decisions at all.  I can't remember.

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At the same time, we shouldn't surrender our reason to "professionals". We should adopt the proper humility and then use the virtues that we have to do our best to understand our experiences. For some people, that will entail more mundane faith -- believing what other people tell them -- while for others it will entail more critical analysis.

I think the proper humility in this case is reading a whole bunch of philosophy before attempting to grapple with these ideas.  It's easy to read one or two books, or some internet forum threads, and think you have a grasp on something that is very complex.  This goes double when suddenly you're throwing around theoretical physics in it as well.  I don't mean for this to be a requirement for a person's personal search for God, but it should be a requirement before debating the issue philosophically. 

LetterRip

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #44 on: December 21, 2021, 07:36:54 PM »
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Letterrip:May I suggest you google Occam's Razor.... usually it is covered in Intro to Philosophy courses, but perhaps you were absent that day.

Pretty rude.  But that's kinda calling the kettle black.  William of Ockham was a Franciscan monk and Scholastic rebel.  I don't believe for one second that he would agree with your view of his philosophy, or of Bertrand Russell's use of it.  But he did believe that reason could not prove the existence of God, and that the only proof could come by revelation.

He states a premise - the Universe isn't eternal, ergo it must be caused.  He then concludes that the cause is "God".  Even if we grant the premise, there is no reason to posit God, almost any of an infinity of explanations is simpler than God.   There is no rational reason or line of reasoning that leads to positing God from the given premises.

Grant

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #45 on: December 21, 2021, 08:07:54 PM »
He states a premise - the Universe isn't eternal, ergo it must be caused.  He then concludes that the cause is "God".  Even if we grant the premise, there is no reason to posit God, almost any of an infinity of explanations is simpler than God.   There is no rational reason or line of reasoning that leads to positing God from the given premises.

That's because you're reading too much into the word "God".  You have your own strawman vision of what Josh is talking about.  Santa Claus or an old white man with a beard sitting on a cloud like Zeus or maybe George Burns or Morgan Freeman. 

Josh makes no description or definition of what he is referring to as "God", other than that if the universe was "caused", it would have to be caused by something outside the universe that is not restrained by the rules of the universe.  It could be a supernatural fart or a virtual particle.  Josh doesn't define it other than it must be uncreated and hence eternal and hence unmaterial in order for it to be outside of the universe.  And yes, positing a God is infinitely simpler than positing that a material universe came into being ex nihilo by itself.  Otherwise cave-men and Sumerians would have been worshipping virtual particles rather than wind gods.  But Ockham's Razor is BS anyways when it comes to philosophy though sometimes useful in science. 

If indeed the universe was "caused", it would have to be caused by something outside itself.  It's either that or it is eternal.  This is simply the material vision of the universe and does not approach the metaphysical structure of reality, natural or supernatural, nor the inherent non-material foundation of the material universe. 

Grant

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #46 on: December 21, 2021, 08:44:30 PM »
But Ockham's Razor is BS anyways when it comes to philosophy though sometimes useful in science. 

I have to go back and say that I do actually find Ockham's Razor to be very useful when dealing with human action, interaction, and motivation.  Though applied this way it is possibly more accurately described as Hanlon's Razor, or Heinlein's Razor, or whatever. 

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."


LetterRip

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #47 on: December 21, 2021, 08:47:30 PM »
That's because you're reading too much into the word "God".  You have your own strawman vision of what Josh is talking about.  Santa Claus or an old white man with a beard sitting on a cloud like Zeus or maybe George Burns or Morgan Freeman. 

Josh makes no description or definition of what he is referring to as "God", other than that if the universe was "caused", it would have to be caused by something outside the universe that is not restrained by the rules of the universe.  It could be a supernatural fart or a virtual particle.

He makes clear by God that he means the 'all powerful and all knowing' being as typical of the Christian view of God.

Here is his own definition,

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God necessarily exists, is the uncaused-cause, the unmoving mover, his existence is his essence, is singular, purely actual, absolutely simple and non-composite, immutable, eternal, immaterial, incorporeal, perfect, omnipotent, fully good, intelligent, and omniscient.

  If by 'God' he would allow it to be something as simple as a virtual particle, a usage of the word that is in no way shape or form the usage of the word in any other context, then sure - if we accept the premise of the Universe being created, then a virtual particle or other simple 'God' could be the 'cause'.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #48 on: December 21, 2021, 09:01:55 PM »
He makes clear by God that he means the 'all powerful and all knowing' being as typical of the Christian view of God.

That's why this type of definition of God is typically out of bounds for arguments of this type. The proof by syllogism argument must define God simply as 'that thing which the syllogism rests on' and leave it at that. I think a separate argument is require to try to link that thing called 'God' to the claims made by a particular religion.

Grant

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #49 on: December 21, 2021, 09:18:28 PM »
He makes clear by God that he means the 'all powerful and all knowing' being as typical of the Christian view of God.

Hmmmm.  Yes and no.  Christians have generally different views on the "personhood" of God, though I don't think his definition goes that far into it.  It also stands to point out that this is generally the same set of attributes Jews and Muslims give God, so it's not exclusively a Christian view. 

Existence as essence, singular, purely actual, absolutely simple and non-composite, immutable, eternal, immaterial, incorporeal all go with the territory of being a non material supernatural cause of the Universe, existing before and after it outside of time, space, and matter.  Perfection is a matter of conjecture depending on your view of perfection.  Omnipotent, fully good, intelligent, and omniscient are extrapolations that go beyond the initial premise and you're free to attack them but that's a different goalpost and different chapters of Summa

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  If by 'God' he would allow it to be something as simple as a virtual particle, a usage of the word that is in no way shape or form the usage of the word in any other context, then sure - if we accept the premise of the Universe being created, then a virtual particle or other simple 'God' could be the 'cause'.

Yes.  That is the crux of the cosmological argument.  It's not nearly as dangerous or nefarious as you have been led to believe it is.  But it IS an attack on hard materialist atheism and kinda confuses hard science people. 

But the simple cosmological argument is still pretty weak.  The next thing to look at is not whether this creator thing or particle or supernatural fart was necessary to create the universe, but whether the universe needs something supernatural to keep it in existence.  This is the deeper argument that usually gets passed over and it tough to wrap your head around.  Then you can also deep dive and listen to the arguments that being a creator and sustainer of the universe by it's nature makes such a particle or supernatural fart an intelligent, all knowing, all good, and all powerful particle or fart.  You go through all of that and you're still not at Jesus.  You're simply at Thomas Jefferson.