Author Topic: God Exists  (Read 21091 times)

NobleHunter

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #50 on: December 21, 2021, 09:46:18 PM »
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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. 

But why? It seems far more elegant to me that causality and existence are simply properties of space-time or the universe. I don't see why we should posit that there's something else providing these missing qualities. Then once you've suggested the "something else" I don't see how you avoid having turtles all the way down. If reality isn't self supporting why is this other thing self supporting? (Yes, I'm sure I could read Adler but I don't have the brain for a philosophy text right now.)

Also, JoshuaD hasn't yet explained how we go from "God as a turtle" to "God with interesting qualities." So I don't think it's fair to attack his conclusions on the existence of God by arguing that it would be a very boring God.

alai

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #51 on: December 22, 2021, 03:41:28 AM »
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.
I can see why that might be a subsequent thing, but why on earth the next one?

Grant

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #52 on: December 22, 2021, 10:28:26 AM »

But why? It seems far more elegant to me that causality and existence are simply properties of space-time or the universe.

The answers to these questions are highly metaphysical in nature.  I don't have the materials right here in front of me and even if I did, I'll admit that the subject is difficult for me to wrap my head around.  But the basic premise is that all matter is composite in nature, not just materially or energetically, but metaphysically. It deals with what matter and energy are beyond just physical laws and deals with actuality and potentiality and then breaks down causality into component parts. 

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Then once you've suggested the "something else" I don't see how you avoid having turtles all the way down. If reality isn't self supporting why is this other thing self supporting? (Yes, I'm sure I could read Adler but I don't have the brain for a philosophy text right now.)

I never understood the turtles counter argument because it seems to me that it actually supports the concept that eventually you have to have a magical flying turtle somewhere to support all the other turtles.  The answer seems to be that some aspects of reality such as matter and energy are subject to change, between potentiality and actuality, but somewhere whatever that is supporting it's existence, whether it is inherent or external, must not be subject to change.  There must be something eternal and unchanging that supports existence, and since matter and energy are temporal and subject to change, it cannot be matter or energy.  It's a deep subject and quite frankly is generally beyond me.  You have to sit down and think about these subjects for a long long time I think to begin to grasp it's meaning and argument. 

I don't think Adler really gets very deep into the subject.  He writes for lay persons which makes his writing easily accessible, but because of it I don't think he gets really deep into the metaphysical problems which are hard to wrap your head around.  Honestly I havn't read his book in 10+ years.  I think you'd have better luck reading Feser and the debates he gets into with other metaphysicist philosophers. 

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Also, JoshuaD hasn't yet explained how we go from "God as a turtle" to "God with interesting qualities." So I don't think it's fair to attack his conclusions on the existence of God by arguing that it would be a very boring God.

Ehhh.  That's a whole other argument.  It gets back into Aristotelean and Scholastic metaphysics of causality.  The straight Scholastic answer is that the common definitions of "goodness" don't really apply when it comes to God, and the picture it paints is indeed something of a boring God, which is why many other denominations of Christians abandoned scholasticism in favor of a more personal God that more approaches Zeus sitting on a cloud.  This is why Craig sticks with the simple cosmological argument rather than the existential argument.  There are similarities but they are fundamentally different because of how you end up describing God and goodness.  Suffice to say you can debate these things for all eternity and Protestant Christians are just going to accuse you of debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  This is why personal revelation has a much larger place within Protestant theology than Catholic theology. 



alai

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #53 on: December 22, 2021, 10:23:10 PM »
Our senses and minds are sufficient for us to be good and live good lives, and that is all we need.
Jury's at best still out on that.

alai

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #54 on: December 22, 2021, 10:51:54 PM »
He makes clear by God that he means the 'all powerful and all knowing' being as typical of the Christian view of God.
Yes, but that appears not as the Theistic Entity he claims to have demonstrated to necessarily exist by means of the cosmological argument.  That's not to this point allegedly necessitated by that to be the Christian god, or even (say) the Neoplatonists' The One.  It might just be the Deity -- I was tempted to say the Jeffersonian Deity, but that'd be a bluff-your-way-in-deism guess on my part, and one I might well be called on, so I'd better not.  The promised second lemma will presumably be intended to get us into that latter sort of area.

DJQuag

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #55 on: December 31, 2021, 10:15:22 AM »
He makes clear by God that he means the 'all powerful and all knowing' being as typical of the Christian view of God.
Yes, but that appears not as the Theistic Entity he claims to have demonstrated to necessarily exist by means of the cosmological argument.  That's not to this point allegedly necessitated by that to be the Christian god, or even (say) the Neoplatonists' The One.  It might just be the Deity -- I was tempted to say the Jeffersonian Deity, but that'd be a bluff-your-way-in-deism guess on my part, and one I might well be called on, so I'd better not.  The promised second lemma will presumably be intended to get us into that latter sort of area.

You have to remember, JoshuaD believes and argues for Catholic Christian beliefs at every turn. To an outside observer, he is a Catholic Christian. He just won't admit it. He's one of those annoying, "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual" people.

Take that into account and ignore his claims and everything he writes becomes a lot easier to understand.

alai

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #56 on: December 31, 2021, 11:32:19 AM »
You have to remember, JoshuaD believes and argues for Catholic Christian beliefs at every turn. To an outside observer, he is a Catholic Christian. He just won't admit it. He's one of those annoying, "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual" people.

Take that into account and ignore his claims and everything he writes becomes a lot easier to understand.
I live in a country famously fairly packed with Catholics, so the belief system is pretty familiar to me, especially in terms of how it impinges on public life.  Archbishops based in the UK thundering across the border about how people should vote on referendums in the Republic, and so on.  But I was trying hard to bite my tongue on that in this thread, as it inevitably turns Bulveristic almost immediately, doubly so if one is arguing with someone about their own belefs.  But if I were to so indulge, the religious-politics come across as rather more US Evangelical Right to me.

To try to drag it back on topic, I suppose where I was going was, to expand on the "shrug and identification" thing, how does JoshuaD feel his version of this argument relate to other presentations of it?  Is he seeking to spline several together, to make them stronger or better according to some criteria?  Or indeed to jump it from a deist to a theist argument, specifically?  Cos thus far, I'm not seeing it.  It reads like "standard arguments mixed and matched to make less clear".  (Full disclosure, I'm not intimately familiar with the topic, so maybe I'm going by cliffs-notes simplifications, rather than the originals in their full opacity.)

Ephrem Moseley

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #57 on: January 17, 2022, 11:36:54 PM »
distraction?

okay then

"No no no.

Simulation Argument plus optimism equals God.

simple as that

welcome to my Heaven, gentlemen"

Bueller?

NobleHunter

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #58 on: May 25, 2022, 10:23:35 AM »
Counterpoint:

https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/proof-2

It feels particularly on point given yesterday.

(NB I'm presenting this with as much seriousness as the artistic style warrants)

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #59 on: June 04, 2022, 01:50:51 PM »
So this thread almost drove me to re-register a couple weeks after you first posted it, Joshua, because it touched on a major theme of my studies in college and I got the impression that you sincerely wanted some discussion about it. Is that still true?

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #60 on: June 05, 2022, 03:30:33 AM »
Welcome back Tom. Yeah, I just finished up school and I'm settled in with my second son. I would enjoy revisiting this topic.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #61 on: June 05, 2022, 12:58:43 PM »
My first question is: what attributes do you believe necessarily accrue to an entity or object with necessary existence? You posit that "the Universe" as a necessary entity ultimately describes pantheism -- but why? What is necessary beyond existence to an entity that is only defined as something which necessarily exists?

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #62 on: June 08, 2022, 02:47:07 AM »
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JoshuaD (responding to LetterRip, on page 1): 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.

Tom: My first question is: what attributes do you believe necessarily accrue to an entity or object with necessary existence?

Philosophy tells us that God exists and is: necessary, fully actual (i.e. possessing no passive potentiality), immaterial, incorporeal, singular, non-composite, simple, immutable, eternal, omnipotent, fully good, perfect, intelligent, and omniscient.

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You posit that "the Universe" as a necessary entity ultimately describes pantheism -- but why?

Definitionally. While Pantheism is a broad term, I understand it to be the idea that the Universe is identical to God:

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Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

At its most general, pantheism may be understood positively as the view that God is identical with the cosmos, the view that there exists nothing which is outside of God, or else negatively as the rejection of any view that considers God as distinct from the universe.

I don't think the position that "the universe itself is a sufficient explanation of reality" can be held, for a number of reasons: the big bang suggests that space-time had a definite starting point; the universe has passive potentiality and that which necessarily exists is also fully actual; a materialist attempt to provide the final explanation for the things we see does not account for the universals such as the numbers, forms, and logic, nor can it account for our subjective experience, the intellect, or free will.

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What is necessary beyond existence to an entity that is only defined as something which necessarily exists?

I am not defining God as that which necessarily exists. Instead, the argument on the first page first accepts the principle of sufficient reason, observes that the things around us exist contingently, and concludes that there must be something which exists necessarily.

Through similar lines of reasoning we can conclude the other divine properties listed above, and we can see that they all belong to same singular God.

I'd be glad to expand on any of the particular points above but I don't want to write a book out of the gate. I prefer a conversation and I think you do too.

-----

My question for you: as it relates to the question of God, what do you believe and why?

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #63 on: June 08, 2022, 09:53:22 AM »
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Philosophy tells us that God exists and is: necessary, fully actual (i.e. possessing no passive potentiality), immaterial, incorporeal, singular, non-composite, simple, immutable, eternal, omnipotent, fully good, perfect, intelligent, and omniscient.
I dispute this in almost its entirety, unless you meant to preface the whole paragraph with the word "bad" and just forgot. I've made quite an extensive study of philosophy, frankly, and have yet to see a convincing argument for anything beyond "necessary," and even then persistence is only necessary if persistence is axiomatic.

---------

For my part, I don't believe anything like a capital-G God exists. Nor do I believe there is any need to impute to the physical mechanism(s) by which the universe (here simplified to "observable reality") appears to persist from moment to moment within our personal consciousness anything like intent or goodness.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #64 on: June 08, 2022, 03:09:16 PM »
For my part, I don't believe anything like a capital-G God exists. Nor do I believe there is any need to impute to the physical mechanism(s) by which the universe (here simplified to "observable reality") appears to persist from moment to moment within our personal consciousness anything like intent or goodness.

The problem with definitive statements (in either direction) about the substrate behind the physical universe is that (a) it is untestable (damning materialist accounts more than religious ones since the former claim their beliefs are based on science) and (b) they are usually explained using within-the-box terms rather than out-of-box terms. Buddhists at least seem to recognize that an account of physical reality requires recourse to a more fundamental 'substance' in which reality can sit, and their view in simplified terms is that mind is a more fundamental reality than matter. To even inspect this view semantically requires a very clear and mutually understood of what "mind" is supposed to mean in this context. To the extent that the Judeo-Christian views also impute a greater mind behind matter (Judaism through Kabbalah, among other methods, and Christianity through its account of the trinity) this, too, requires great explication prior to a discussion about it being possible.

It should be evident to serious thinkers that if by "mind" one uses a concept like of the old man in the sky then any further progress on the topic would be impossible. Even staunch materialists would do well to at minimum entertain the notion that physically manifested phenomena could in fact be epiphenomena rather than a basic truth. Even some people interpreting QM wonder whether "observer" might mean an actual existing being with a mind. It is at minimum a conceivable structure of reality, wherein "wave function collapse" involves human observation, rather than collision with inanimate matter. I've read other accounts discounting that "observer" is an actual living observer, but afaik there is currently no accepted solution to this. The place of consciousness is therefore an enormous question mark even in the hard sciences: what it is, how it comes about, and what effect(s) it has on reality. We don't know any of this, and at this point in time any articles I've read suggesting 'explanations' of what consciousness is have been quite honestly laughable, akin to the early 20th CE claims that physics had essentially been completely solved.

Once we know we are faced with a causation-direction problem involving consciousness, it seems to me lots of stuff is still on the table, even in a materialist metaphysics. I personally think the case for a materialist metaphysics is itself very weak, but I don't even need to assume that to make my case here.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #65 on: June 08, 2022, 03:23:53 PM »
My own operating theory, which still has quite a bit of observational evidence necessary before I'd be willing to posit it as a belief, is that the universe persists through tri-state memristors (and consciousness itself is maintained by trinary memristor-like structures between axons.) But I'm more likely to be wrong about that than to be right.

 The idea that the reason the universe persists is that an all-knowing, omnipotent, omnibenevolent sentient being is keeping it around is, I submit, far more complicated than necessary and moreover directly conflicts with other observable conditions.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #66 on: June 08, 2022, 03:38:48 PM »
That's all fine, and it will be fun (in a manner of speaking) to play around with such imaginings over the eons. What I'm talking about is, given the vast amount of total unknowns presented before us, it seems bizarre to dismiss certain claims out of hand if one is simultaneously claiming to base beliefs on what science has presented (you haven't done so now, but this is a standard claim). If one is going on empirical findings alone one should apparently stick with being agnostic and saying maybe, maybe not. It's a 'safe' and prudent position that leaves all directions open to new findings. It's when I hear people say they're pretty sure X does not exist that I scratch my head and wonder what finding that's based on.

Now a more interesting question you might ask - within the confines of your current theory, or any other - is what it would take for it to become an approximation of the same thing religious people claim. The difficult is always in the language, so my advice for a maximally open mind would be to ignore how people state their claims and instead to wonder what those claims would actually be like if one ignored the taxonomy and thought of it as real systems. So take a memristor concept, and now push that further into scifi territory where the "memory" capacity was more than just storage but began to have strange emergent properties. And push that further than imagine what it would mean for spacetime to subsist on a fundamental system that has mental functions (like memory, but perhaps other features) as physical realities within it. How far can you go before these claims actually become, if not identical, at least within the same linguistic game that religions play. What, after all, is God supposed to actually be if He's not a man in the sky? Good luck unpacking that! Just imagine a scenario where, in a million years, a scientific explanation becomes identical with a 12th century religious claim; imagine throwing one's arms up in frustration, saying "why you all of you have to frame your definition so poorly?!" or maybe "well you just got lucky, you didn't really know you were right." Or other such critiques. Language and what it means in terms of real physical systems is a big deal.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #67 on: June 08, 2022, 03:58:17 PM »
Just to be clear: it is not agnostic to say "maybe, maybe not." If you think there is no evidence in favor of a sentient god, you are an atheist. An agnostic is not someone who's willing to believe in a god if presented with evidence, but instead someone who believes that the existence of a god is fundamentally unknowable. I would argue that gods as described in the Judeo-Christian tradition are not compatible with most forms of agnosticism.

I'm perfectly open to the idea that there may be underlying sapient models built into the universe. But I don't think there's any argument for their existence; nothing we see requires or even supports such a claim. To get from "sure, we MAY be heads hooked up to computers in a network simulation" to "and it is because the creatures running this simulation do not want you to eat babies that eating babies is forbidden" is insupportable.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2022, 04:00:55 PM by Tom »

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #68 on: June 08, 2022, 04:27:37 PM »
I'm perfectly open to the idea that there may be underlying sapient models built into the universe. But I don't think there's any argument for their existence; nothing we see requires or even supports such a claim.

My general point is that we don't see much now. I consider physics, electronics, and cosmology to all be essentially still in their infancy. If my toddler tells me a theory of everything that's ok, he has a perspective that would be based on his limited inspection of life. I would nod and wait till he learns more before being harsh on any simplistic ideas he has. I see us all as being toddlers right now. So fundamentally I don't take seriously scientific claims about what can or can't be. Some things we have no evidence of - and fine, no need to impute them scientifically until we do (if we do). Doesn't mean they don't exist, and there is no reason to believe that our current level of knowledge is sufficient to even understand how to frame the question, let alone answer it. People like to always claim they know more than they do; this is true in any field, especially ones with prestige or money involved. That's a conflict of interest right there. Objectively speaking I'd say we keep working at it and leave theological questions to theologians. Speculations without basis seem to me to have no value to us right now, and if that means science doesn't have to admit to evidence of religious claims, then great: let scientists do science and religions discuss the aspects of life that many people do feel impact them directly. If these domains converge eventually then great too. But I see no real case that science has something to say right now about religion. One of the most embarrassing things I sometimes hear the odd physicist say is that we are already certain of what can and can't exist, so that certain domains can be declared out of bounds. For instance I've even heard notable physicists argue that it's impossible that there are important types of particles out there that we have no idea about. Hahaha! To even put such a thing on the record would be a shame for the ages...that is if anyone was ever held to things they say. Certainly in economics they aren't...

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #69 on: June 08, 2022, 05:28:12 PM »
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Philosophy tells us that God exists and is: necessary, fully actual (i.e. possessing no passive potentiality), immaterial, incorporeal, singular, non-composite, simple, immutable, eternal, omnipotent, fully good, perfect, intelligent, and omniscient.
I dispute this in almost its entirety, unless you meant to preface the whole paragraph with the word "bad" and just forgot. I've made quite an extensive study of philosophy, frankly, and have yet to see a convincing argument for anything beyond "necessary," and even then persistence is only necessary if persistence is axiomatic.

I'm not sure how you'd like for me to respond to this. I think classical theism is the most compelling philosophy I've seen. I was a hard-agnostic Buddhist for about as long as you've known me, and these arguments moved me to monotheism. 

Do I understand you correctly? That you agree with the argument in the first post, that the Principle of Sufficient Reason holds (and combined with our observation of contingent things) argues that there must be something which necessarily exists? And that you reject the other divine properties I listed? If so, we can begin with those. I'll write something up for you later tonight.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2022, 05:39:56 PM by JoshuaD »

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #70 on: June 08, 2022, 05:34:08 PM »
Just to be clear: it is not agnostic to say "maybe, maybe not." If you think there is no evidence in favor of a sentient god, you are an atheist. An agnostic is not someone who's willing to believe in a god if presented with evidence, but instead someone who believes that the existence of a god is fundamentally unknowable.
Yes.
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I would argue that gods as described in the Judeo-Christian tradition are not compatible with most forms of agnosticism.
Yes.
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I'm perfectly open to the idea that there may be underlying sapient models built into the universe. But I don't think there's any argument for their existence; nothing we see requires or even supports such a claim. To get from "sure, we MAY be heads hooked up to computers in a network simulation" to "and it is because the creatures running this simulation do not want you to eat babies that eating babies is forbidden" is insupportable.

Simulation theory is boring. I don't think we are in a simulation, but if we were, or if we were in 30 nested simulations, it wouldn't change my arguments at all.

My own operating theory, which still has quite a bit of observational evidence necessary before I'd be willing to posit it as a belief, is that the universe persists through tri-state memristors (and consciousness itself is maintained by trinary memristor-like structures between axons.) But I'm more likely to be wrong about that than to be right.

What exactly do you mean by this? I'd like to respond but I want to be sure I understand you first.

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The idea that the reason the universe persists is that an all-knowing, omnipotent, omnibenevolent sentient being is keeping it around is, I submit, far more complicated than necessary and moreover directly conflicts with other observable conditions.

I think classical theism offers the best account for the conditions we observe and the alternative theories either fall into a stupor of hyper-skepticalism, are incoherent, or fail to account for the full range of our observations and experiences.

I'll make my argument for those divine attributes in a bit and you can tell me why you think those arguments don't hold, and we can go from there.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2022, 05:36:41 PM by JoshuaD »

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #71 on: June 08, 2022, 05:38:05 PM »
From our conversations from about ten years ago I remember you as a determinist and a materialist. Am I remembering correctly and, if so, is that still a good description of your views?

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #72 on: June 08, 2022, 05:56:51 PM »
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there is no reason to believe that our current level of knowledge is sufficient to even understand how to frame the question, let alone answer it
If you believe that human knowledge will never be sufficient to answer the question, then you are truly agnostic. I would argue, however, that the question of "does a Christian-like God exist" is no more unanswerable than "do unicorns live in Edinburgh," suffering only from vagueness by comparison.

-----------

I'm a materialist, and a determinist in the sense that I think everything that happens would be predictable given perfect knowledge of all variables.

(What I mean by the memristor thing is that I think there's a solid argument that the universe actually ceases to physically exist between tiny segments of time, but that it is recreated immediately -- as in, the next smallest possible unit of time later, insofar as "later" is a communicable concept in that scenario -- from cloud state. That helps to explain a lot of the weirder math involved in multiverse/string theory without getting too complicated. A similar approach to memristor-based internal consciousness might explain the persistence of self-identity.)
« Last Edit: June 08, 2022, 06:08:52 PM by Tom »

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #73 on: June 08, 2022, 05:57:11 PM »
Just to be clear: it is not agnostic to say "maybe, maybe not." If you think there is no evidence in favor of a sentient god, you are an atheist. An agnostic is not someone who's willing to believe in a god if presented with evidence, but instead someone who believes that the existence of a god is fundamentally unknowable.
Yes.

For the record, here's the first Google result for "agnostic":

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a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.

I was using the term in the bolded sense. More specifically, the literal use of the root "lacking knowledge", a-gnosis. So I meant those who claim to lack knowledge enough to say something definitive. Ironically the unbolded section of the above definition is directly contradictory to the bolded version, since claiming something specific (even that X is not knowable) itself requires a strong basis in knowledge to back up the claim. I was therefore obviously not implying this version of it.

And Joshua, per your last question to Tom about whether the necessary cause may or may not be 'divine', this is where the "mathematical proof of God" propositions tend to go off the rails, because the argument itself seems to be able to afford only "something is necessary and uncaused", whereas the people putting on such presentations (I've read of many, seen one in person) tend to have the motive to prove their religious beliefs through this demonstration, and so at the very end of the argument say they have "proved the existence of God" which the audience (correctly) perceives as meaning the Christian God. It would require a totally other demonstration, if one exists, to connect the "it" at the end of this argument to God proper.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2022, 05:59:58 PM by Fenring »

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #74 on: June 08, 2022, 06:02:27 PM »
Fenring, I'm actively hostile to the wimpy version of "agnostic," not only because it would deeply offend the original self-described Agnostics but because it's used by people who're actually atheists but for whatever reason don't have the wherewithal to admit it to themselves. It's especially irritating when used to mean "people who don't think there's sufficient evidence of a god and thus aren't sure whether or not to believe," because that implies that people calling themselves atheists would for whatever reason still refuse to believe if given good evidence of god(s).

No one calls themselves agnostic on the subject of leprechauns, because there isn't a social stigma associated with being "egotistical" enough to admit that, no, you don't have any reason to think leprechauns exist and therefore, like a rational person, don't think leprechauns exist.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #75 on: June 08, 2022, 06:08:02 PM »
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there is no reason to believe that our current level of knowledge is sufficient to even understand how to frame the question, let alone answer it
If you believe that human knowledge will never be sufficient to answer the question, then you are truly agnostic. I would argue, however, that the question of "does a Christian-like God exist" is no more unanswerable than "do unicorns live in Edinburgh," suffering only from vagueness by comparison.

Fwiw I liked your previous version of the post before the edit, which left the statement about something knowable being (eventually) knowable. If you'll check again, you'll see I didn't actually say we cannot know these things, but that at present we cannot know them. It's not a question of the genre of knowledge, but the level of it IMO. As it happens I actually do think we will eventually come to the point where science and religion converge, which is just a way of saying we will be able to approach the big questions from a place of accurate understanding rather than a priori logic. My estimation is that this won't happen for...a long time. Until then we will have to settle for having non-overlapping domains of inquiry.

Just by way of analogy, if you inspect the various hard sciences, you will not only see divisions of labor but in fact divisions of type in the manner in which physical nature is studied. Even within a field such as physics there are totally different approaches and areas of study. Obviously all scientific fields must be studying the same thing, or else there would be multiple realities. Assuming there are not, all these areas of study differ in level of analysis (atomic, molecular, systemic (like biological or environmental), and so forth) and in mode of analysis (how does this thing work, why does this thing work, how do the parts operate, can we model it mathematically, etc). So practically speaking most of the scientific fields are totally different fields with no connection to each other. A marine biologist would do about as well trying to read a paper on string theory as they would do try to read ancient Sumerian. On the 'daily work' level they just focus on their task, although some projects are obviously multi-disciplinary. Eventually we have to suppose that all sciences will merge into one topic, once the fundaments of all of them can be connected to each other on every level of analysis. But that won't happen for a very, very long time. My supposition is just that 'religious' topics will mark an even later development of merging the sciences with the rest of life, if you will.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #76 on: June 08, 2022, 06:19:27 PM »
Hm. That interesting, in that I almost completely disagree: I don't think science will ever be able to answer the questions that ultimately rely on societal conditioning and appeals to religious epistemologies, like "what makes a good person" or "can this wafer of bread, despite all its observable properties, also in a very real way -- the most real way -- be someone else's body". I don't think there's a mechanism by which those questions can ever be definitively answered without significantly revising the definition of "definitively."

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #77 on: June 08, 2022, 07:23:46 PM »
Fenring, I'm actively hostile to the wimpy version of "agnostic," not only because it would deeply offend the original self-described Agnostics but because it's used by people who're actually atheists but for whatever reason don't have the wherewithal to admit it to themselves.

I'll note that you are equating a weak claim with being a wimpy claim, but I see no good reason to cast aspersions on making a weak claim. I would rather someone make a weak claim if they in fact lack the necessary knowledge to make a strong one. In fact, it would be absolutely terrific if most foolish and ignorant people had the humility to restrict themselves to weak claims. After all, it is perfectly respectable to admit you don't know something. Not nearly as respectable is to claim you definitely know something when that body of knowledge is beyond you. Maybe it's the fault of the 19th century British academy, I'm not really sure, but somewhere along the line it became disgraceful to admit you were ignorant about something in the field in which you're supposed to be an expert. Good luck getting funding or tenure on the thesis that "sorry, this topic is beyond us at the moment but I'll try anyhow." It's the old Aristotle mistake of thinking your current level of knowledge must be good enough to solve the most complicated problems.

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It's especially irritating when used to mean "people who don't think there's sufficient evidence of a god and thus aren't sure whether or not to believe," because that implies that people calling themselves atheists would for whatever reason still refuse to believe if given good evidence of god(s)

Funny you should say that, because I am convinced that many people in fact would refuse to believe in God even if there was direct and irrefutable evidence of it. The Old Testament largely covers this theme, which is that even if 'someone stronger than us' was accepted irrefutably many or even most people would refuse to bow down to it properly, which in turn means they refuse to believe that it really means and instead make it mean something else (most commonly bowing to idols, or in secular terms, doing anything other than the right thing because you are stubborn, vain, and rebellious). Even if you take the Bible to be a metaphor I think it's an apt one, as this seems to me to describe human choices quite well.

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No one calls themselves agnostic on the subject of leprechauns, because there isn't a social stigma associated with being "egotistical" enough to admit that, no, you don't have any reason to think leprechauns exist and therefore, like a rational person, don't think leprechauns exist.

True, and the reason why we don't have leprechaun agnostics is because no one cares about leprechauns. If you are thinking of the psychology of it, your argument actually turns on itself since you might want to take seriously the fact that many people take something seriously. The herd mentality is often impugned unfairly, because sheep and other herd animals have good reason to follow each other even lacking direct evidence of the reason: the likelihood that a given sheep will personally encounter the reason to leave the area, AND the chance a given sheep will react properly to that threat, make it far more advantageous for the herd to at minimum take it seriously when they see a large group reacting to something. It is not only strategic but also a question of the limitations of individual experience: being unique means you bring a special perspective, but also means you lack all other (often necessary) perspectives. I'm not making a conclusive point here, but merely an observation: it should be expected to be worth inspection when many people are concerned about a specific thing. That fact alone does give it more weight than a thing no one is paying attention to.

Hm. That interesting, in that I almost completely disagree: I don't think science will ever be able to answer the questions that ultimately rely on societal conditioning and appeals to religious epistemologies, like "what makes a good person" or "can this wafer of bread, despite all its observable properties, also in a very real way -- the most real way -- be someone else's body". I don't think there's a mechanism by which those questions can ever be definitively answered without significantly revising the definition of "definitively."

It's proper you should disagree, since I haven't mentioned the reason I think science and religion should converge. I think it because I do think there is a God, and some necessary conclusions follow from this; one of these is that if God interacts with the world then there must be some mechanism by which this happens. It doesn't have to be physical, but it does have to be something. As long as I have this as an axiom it seems to me reasonable to assume that this connection can eventually be understood, since it is real. Two different domains connect, so the connection must have properties such that it can interact with both domains. But I get there because I have a presupposition that there's a God; I don't get to God from the assumption that science can get us to God. I work toward the middle from both ends. If you deny one of these ends exists, then you definitely cannot agree with me that science can get there; there would be no "there" to get to. Agreeing with me would basically be tantamount to agreeing that there is a God (or at least a religious epistemic domain). 
« Last Edit: June 08, 2022, 07:25:50 PM by Fenring »

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #78 on: June 08, 2022, 07:58:28 PM »
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Funny you should say that, because I am convinced that many people in fact would refuse to believe in God even if there was direct and irrefutable evidence of it.
I'm not. I think many people might refuse to bow to a god even if that god's existence were proved, but that's a different matter altogether. The sort of person who'd deny the existence of a god in the fact of irrefutable evidence is the sort of person who'd look at the new car you just purchased and, having been given a ride in your car, insist "sure, it looks and behaves like a car, but I'm pretty sure it's actually a cactus." The word we use for that is "insane" (or at best "irrational.")

Except, of course, when it comes to "sensitive" beliefs. You can insist that you own an invisible car all you want, even though no one can prove you have a car, and the fact that you care deeply about your invisible car is apparently evidence in favor of its existence. If only all those people committed to asylums for (hypothetically) insisting that they were Napoleon actually really wanted to be Napoleon....

I'm sure there was an evolutionary advantage to religious epistemologies, and am perfectly content to posit that the persistence of those epistemologies is wholly explained by the advantages conferred by in-group cohesion. 

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #79 on: June 08, 2022, 08:02:17 PM »
(What I mean by the memristor thing is that I think there's a solid argument that the universe actually ceases to physically exist between tiny segments of time, but that it is recreated immediately -- as in, the next smallest possible unit of time later, insofar as "later" is a communicable concept in that scenario -- from cloud state. That helps to explain a lot of the weirder math involved in multiverse/string theory without getting too complicated. A similar approach to memristor-based internal consciousness might explain the persistence of self-identity.)

Just saw this edit now, so I thought I'd throw in that there's an esoteric theory (some kind of unnamed Hermetic belief system I've come across now and then) that also posits a cloud storage system from which everything ranging from memory, to persistence, and even physical distance can be traced. The theory can be found in Dan Simmons' Hyperion series, but I have seen it elsewhere and have no doubt that it is an actual and old conceptualization of reality that Simmons did not make up but merely examines. Where it ever came from I don't know, but there's at least a decent chance it goes back quite a ways.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #80 on: June 08, 2022, 08:07:09 PM »
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Funny you should say that, because I am convinced that many people in fact would refuse to believe in God even if there was direct and irrefutable evidence of it.
I'm not. I think many people might refuse to bow to a god even if that god's existence were proved, but that's a different matter altogether. The sort of person who'd deny the existence of a god in the fact of irrefutable evidence is the sort of person who'd look at the new car you just purchased and, having been given a ride in your car, insist "sure, it looks and behaves like a car, but I'm pretty sure it's actually a cactus." The word we use for that is "insane" (or at best "irrational.")

Your position would be have fairly typical maybe 30 years ago. But given what we have observed in the last 10-15 years I'm surprised that you think people will agree to designate the correct interpretation to a piece of information. Sure, there may be "irrefutable proof" of something, but how that presents is as a datum, or an experience, or an encounter. And guess what? People will absolutely find a way to interpret it in any way they can, other than in a way that demands personal sacrifice and responsibility. In fact, even putting aside the personal conflict of interest (having to choose between bowing down, and continuing to think they are the thing to bow down to) the mere existence of tribal turf war should show clearly enough that so long as "they" claim something means X "we" will have to insist it cannot possibly mean X. Like hell people will agree it's God and bow to Him.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #81 on: June 08, 2022, 08:12:22 PM »
Yeah, that's actually something that started out as a philosophical concept and then found new legs in the '80s because it actually makes sense of a lot of higher-order physics. The idea that the observable universe is in fact a cloud of bits has been bouncing around for as long as we've been alive, and actually one of the underlying reasons that so many real scientists genuinely believe the "simulation" theory. I don't think we're a simulated reality, but I do think that considering the physical world to consist of the intersections of information is a bit intriguing.

-----------

Even Crunch will admit that the federal government exists. He might see it as illegitimate, or corrupted, or even actively evil, but he doesn't doubt its existence. I can absolutely imagine a scenario where I, confronted with the creator of the universe, would conclude that that creator is evil -- that, even though I'd be doomed to fail, I'd have to oppose that entity to satisfy my own sense of morality. But I cannot imagine a scenario where I, confronted with clear evidence of god, would deny that god's existence. This is why every non-believer to whom I've ever spoken finds C.S. Lewis' dwarves (in The Last Battle) to be a laughably terrible allegory; he genuinely, as he was writing them, did not understand (or, perhaps, just did not deign to portray) the core issue.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2022, 08:14:28 PM by Tom »

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #82 on: June 08, 2022, 08:23:04 PM »
I can absolutely imagine a scenario where I, confronted with the creator of the universe, would conclude that that creator is evil -- that, even though I'd be doomed to fail, I'd have to oppose that entity to satisfy my own sense of morality. But I cannot imagine a scenario where I, confronted with clear evidence of god, would deny that god's existence.

Actually there's a great example on hand of a belief system that accepts the Judeo-Christian observations but denies their interpretation of them: Gnosticism. Without getting into the weeds too much the gist of the various strains of Gnosticism is that there is a being such as the OT describes, but the trick is that this is not God but rather a demon (called the Demiurge) trying to trap you. So they acknowledge the phenomenon (a deity lording over Adam and Eve in Eden, if you will) but deny it means what Jews and Christians say it means. The thing about definitions is funny: in the Jewish parlance, you are either worshipping God, or you are worshipping not-God. There is no third option; anything as an object of worship other than God is wrong, and additionally it is not possible to not worship. So a claim like "well I did acknowledge it was a deity, I just didn't agree that this deity was God" would be actually equivalent to refusing to acknowledge God. That's the 1st commandment in a nutshell. Not this Gnosticism is the only possible manner in which one could refuse to acknowledge what is plainly right in front of you, but it's a good example given our current political climate (i.e. interpreting information/experience in a self-serving manner).

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #83 on: June 09, 2022, 03:24:37 AM »
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Tom said: I'm a materialist, and a determinist in the sense that I think everything that happens would be predictable given perfect knowledge of all variables.

This is my big problem with materialism: a philosophy which begins with the beneign scientific impulse of "we can understand reality by believing what we experience" ends with the dogmatic statement "we must reject our experience in service to our model of the world."

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Tom said: (What I mean by the memristor thing is that I think there's a solid argument that the universe actually ceases to physically exist between tiny segments of time, but that it is recreated immediately -- as in, the next smallest possible unit of time later, insofar as "later" is a communicable concept in that scenario -- from cloud state. That helps to explain a lot of the weirder math involved in multiverse/string theory without getting too complicated. A similar approach to memristor-based internal consciousness might explain the persistence of self-identity.)

That's fine, whether or not it's an accurate physical description or not, it's not the ultimate explanation pointed at in my first post: these things you describe are not self-explanatory. They are contingent processes which need explanation. There must be _reasons_ why reality is recreated immediately every moment (I am a little amused that the langauge you chose literally suggests a creator).

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Fenring said:And Joshua, per your last question to Tom about whether the necessary cause may or may not be 'divine', this is where the "mathematical proof of God" propositions tend to go off the rails

I'm not offering a mathematical proof of God. I don't know what that would be.

The fact that the numbers, propositions, and other universals exist and would seem to have meaning and persist even if we weren't here to think them does suggest that there is a divine intelligence which thinks them.

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Fenring said:because the argument itself seems to be able to afford only "something is necessary and uncaused", whereas the people putting on such presentations (I've read of many, seen one in person) tend to have the motive to prove their religious beliefs through this demonstration, and so at the very end of the argument say they have "proved the existence of God" which the audience (correctly) perceives as meaning the Christian God. It would require a totally other demonstration, if one exists, to connect the "it" at the end of this argument to God proper.

I agree; these arguments show that God exists and has certain properties, but they stop short of the full claims of religions based on scripture and tradition. For example, these arguments  do not show that Jesus died and rose from the dead. That is an historical claim based on historical documents and traditioon; philosophy tells us that this is a fantastic but possible claim, but philosophy cannot tell us that it is true.

If you sit on a beach and think really hard, you could rediscover calculus. There is no amount of thinking that can tell you what my birthday is or whether Jesus rose from the dead. That is because these are historical claims not philosophical claims.

These arguments refute pantheism, polytheism, and atheism, but they stop there. You need different tools to continue into the various monotheistic religions to determine which (if any) are true.

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Tom said: I don't think science will ever be able to answer the questions that ultimately rely on societal conditioning and appeals to religious epistemologies, like "what makes a good person" or "can this wafer of bread, despite all its observable properties, also in a very real way -- the most real way -- be someone else's body".

We agree; these questions are outside of the scope of the physical sciences. These questions are metaphysical.

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Tom said: I can absolutely imagine a scenario where I, confronted with the creator of the universe, would conclude that that creator is evil -- that, even though I'd be doomed to fail, I'd have to oppose that entity to satisfy my own sense of morality


“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #84 on: June 09, 2022, 04:34:39 AM »
Necessary
The first post in this thread outlines an argument for why there must be something which necessarily exists, which is existence itself.

Fully Actual
We see things changing around us all the time. But what is change? Change is the transition from potentiality to actuality; that is to say, change is just the actualization of potential.

So when we see change around us, we are seeing potential being actualized. A ball is sitting still, my child kicks it, and the ball goes from potentially in motion to actually in motion.

Potential does not actualize itself. In order for potential to be actualized, something which itself is actual must do the actualization. If this were not the case, logs would burst into flame without any actual reason, balls would fly through the air unbidden, etc., and this is not our experience of the world.

A thing cannot be actual and potential in the same respect: for example, while a thing can be actually hot and potentially cold, that thing cannot be actually hot and potentially hot. (To be sure, something can be potentially more hot, but that is not contrary to my point here).

Given the foregoing, we see that a thing cannot be its own actualizer: potential must be actualized by something actual and a thing cannot have potentiality and actuality in the same respect.

So a thing must be actualized by some other thing. If that other thing has also been actualized, there similarly needs to be another thing prior to that, and so on and so forth.

There are only two possibilities: either there is a thing which itself is fully actual and begins the chain of actualization, or the chain of actualization is infinitely long.

But an infinitely chain of actualization makes no sense. There must be an origin which provides actuality to the entire chain or none of the chain can have actuality. As an example, mirrors reflecting back and forth infinitely will never generate the image of a face unless there is an original image of a face. An infinite chain of contingencies does not make an actuality.

So there must be something which is fully actual, which provides actualization of all potential to all other things, including (but not limited to) the potential to exist.

We can see that this thing which is fully actual is also the thing which necessarily exists: existince in contingent things is simply an actualized potential. That which necessarily exists is that which is fully actual, which is actualizating the potential for all other contingent things to exist, in every moment, moment-to-moment.

Immutable
To be mutable means to be capable of being changed. To be changed is to have some potential which is actualized. But that which is necessary and fully actual has no potentiality. So that which is necessary and fully acutal must also be immutable.

Immaterial
Matter is the potential to take on form. Matter is, by its nature, changing and full of potential. But that which is necessary, fully actual, and immutable cannot have any potential. So that thing must also be immaterial.

Incorporeal
To be corporeal is to have a body and a body is made of matter. That which is necessary, fully actual, immutable, and immaterial canot be made of matter. So it must also be incorporeal.

Let's start applying the label "God" to this thing which is necessary, fully actual, immutable, immaterial, and incorporeal, because it's becoming cumbersome to type all of those out.

Eternal
To be not-eternal is to be ephemeral, temporal, or transient. In other words, the opposite of eternal is to have the potential to change or to have the potential to cease to exist. We have shown that God cannot change and God necessarily exists, that is to say, God does not possess any potentiality at all, not even the potentiality to cease to exist. God necessarily exists, so God is eternal.

Omnipotent
Potency is the ability to cause change, that is to say, potency is the ability to actualize potential. As we saw above, being fully actual, God is the source of all change, so God is all-potent, or omnipotent.

It's worth noting that creatures like you and I have potency, but we have that power in a derived way. Our potency ultimately is derived second-hand from God's power, because we rely upon God for our existence.

Singular In order for there to be two or more of a certain type of a thing, it is necessary that there be some distinguishing feature between those different things. If there is no distinguishing feature, then there cannot be two things; it is the distinguishing feature which makes there be two things. 

In physical objects, matter provides the distinguishing feature of things which share a nature. Despite that we share in human nature, we are made of different matter and so we are distinct creatures. In incorporeal objects, difference in the nature of a thing are the only things which can distinguish that thing from another thing.

For example, there is only one number seven. There cannot be two number sevens because there would be no way to distinguish between the two of them; the number seven has a set of properties and those properties are the number seven. Anything which has that nature is the number seven, and there cannot be another thing which is separate from seven and at the same time identical to seven.

In the same way, there cannot be two things which are fully actual, because there would need to be some distinguishing feature, and a distinguishing feature would represent some unactualized potential, meaning that one of the two things are not fully actual. Therefore, that which is fully actual, necessarily exists, immutable, immaterial, incorporeal, eternal, omnipotent, must also be singular. That is to say, God must be singular.

----

I'll write up intelligent, omnscient, simple, non-composite, perfect and fully good later on. It's getting a bit late for me now. In either case, this should provide Tom with plenty to respond to, as this arguments suggest that which necessarily exists has these other properties as well, while he seems to think necessary existence is all that can be known about this thing.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #85 on: June 09, 2022, 09:46:59 AM »
Oh, man. You've been reading too much Catholic apologia.
I suppose I should start by saying there's a reason that most academic philosophers consider Catholic apologia in specific to be its own branch of philosophy, much like Rand's utilitarianism: you can't get there from first principles and it doesn't hold up to scrutiny, but its adherents will never admit it. But I'll do my best to address these in a neutral way.

Reasons vs. Causes
First off, before I get into your specific bullet points, here's a big one, and it's challenging something that you seem to be taking as axiomatic: things don't actually need reasons. They need causes (or, at least, everything except a hypothetical Prime Mover(s) require(s) causes), but those causes don't have to satisfy any requirement for rationality. You may as well look at the universe and ask, "Why do electrons exist?" That's a fundamentally unanswerable question. They do exist (assuming you believe they do; there are certainly theories out there that say they don't), and they certainly fulfill functions, but do they exist in order to fulfill those functions? Would some other mechanism fulfill their function(s) if they did not exist? Would those functions go unfulfilled? Obviously, down this path lies both versions of the Anthropic Principle: we live in a universe where electrons exist, but it perhaps arrogates too much to our importance to assert that electrons exist so that we might live. Effects do not happen without causes, but it is entirely possible for something to be caused without a reason. That's not to say that no things have reasons -- we can assert, for example, that elephants have trunks because it granted some early proto-elephant a biological advantage -- but it is a very common mistake to insist that everything must have one.

Fully Actual
This one always irritates me, not least because it's so firmly rooted in Anselm and Anselm is so incredibly stupid. It's also used as the bedrock for pretty much every other item of traditional apology, which is mind-numbingly frustrating because it's such a foolish idea if you don't just swallow it as a premise. The version you're using here has benefited from a thousand years of Catholic refinement on his original propositions, but the same problems apply. I'll address what I consider the big ones:

1) First off, it is not necessary for anything to be fully actualized. This is just the Prime Mover argument all over again, except for individual qualia (which don't actually exist, BTW.) But the hypothetical entity which sustains all of existence does not need to have also been the first thing that, by existing, makes it possible for other things to become hot. Heck, Plato actually argued for a metaphysical universe in which all of his Platonic qualia eternally existed in a type of stasis, so that every hot thing shared in the properties of Platonic hotness, without which (he asserted) nothing hot could exist. But of course he did not insist that the Platonically hot thing was also the Platonically intelligent thing, or the Platonically flat thing. The idea of "actualized" potential is important to Catholics in specific because of some vagaries of their dogma that are nonsensical without it, but there's certainly no philosophical requirement for something to be actualized into hotness. Things can be heated, but surely the background radiation of the universe -- which we have reason to believe came into existence already incredibly hot -- can heat things just fine without needing to make them accept the spirit of heat.

2) Secondly, how you define the qualia that can be actualized here is pretty important. You'll notice that whatever apologist you're working from here has added the caveat, not present in Anselm's original, that contradictory qualia cannot be actualized. This exists because one of the more potent arguments against Anselm back in the old days was that if God had to somehow embody every quality, He also had to embody the most evil of things as well. The convenient response was, "but He already is the most good, so therefore He can't be the most evil!" Obviously this falls down if you're trying to deal with physical attributes: if God is fully-actualized hot, does that mean that cold is simply the absence of hot? That's fair, sure -- but is "healthy" the absence of "poisoned?" If God is fully-actualized Italian, does that mean that Norwegian is simply the absence of Italian? But once you start thinking that way, and realizing how critical it is to identify what qualia you care about, you realize that "actualization" is actually a completely unnecessary mental exercise. (I'll get to that in #4).

3) Thirdly, being the Prime Actualizer does not actually mean you have to be Fully Actualized. There is nothing stopping a hypothetical Prime Actualizer from actualizing everything else but not having any properties of its own to actualize.

4) Once you realize this, it becomes extremely easy to recognize how Anselm is lazily arguing from his own conclusion. The classic "God must exist because I am defining God as the entity embodying the best of all possible attributes, and the best form of existence is existing" falls apart immediately. This isn't just because it's entirely possible to define an entity that does not exist -- "a unicorn is the best possible animal, and to be the best possible it has to exist, so therefore unicorns must exist" -- but also because Anselm is presuming that indeed existence is better than non-existence, despite not actually rigorously proving this to be true. Perhaps the best possible form of existence is Imaginary; after all, one can imagine an omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity, which is a far better form than could possibly actually exist, so perhaps that's the superior form?

Immutable
This is an interesting one, because it's clearly wholly dependent on the idea that the Prime Actualizer must also be Fully Actual in all its qualia. Leaving aside my complete rejection of this assertion, let's examine what that means. We see several times in the Bible descriptions of God becoming angry. Assuming that these descriptions are true, moods cannot be actualizable qualia; otherwise, God could never be any angrier or happier or more tired than He is at all times. But let's assume that the Bible's descriptions of God are tainted by the flaws of the humans doing the writing, or that God is perhaps just roleplaying emotions at times to make some point.

But let's not work backwards from the Biblical God. Let's instead try to figure out why the property of the universe that causes the universe to continue existing must also be unchangeable. Best argument I can come up with is that the only property we're confident must be possessed by this hypothetical mechanism is whatever enables the continued existence of the universe. Given this, unless there are other properties possessed by this mechanism that we have not successfully rationalized (and I'm going to point out that we have not successfully argued on behalf of Fully Actual yet), the observed continued existence of the universe means that that property of this mechanism must not have perceptibly changed. So, sure, let's grant "immutable" here, because if it did change, the universe would stop existing.

Immaterial
Again, we're not granting "fully actual," so this goes away immediately. But even still, why would it be the case that something material be "potential" in a way that a "fully actualized" entity could not be? Surely being material is better than being immaterial? No one would say that an immaterial, invisible unicorn is more actual than a material, visible unicorn.

Obviously the real problem here is that a material being is capable of being acted upon, and Catholics absolutely hate that idea. (For one thing, it screws with the assertion of Immutability.) Leaving aside the question of whether there's Biblical support for people successfully changing the Judeo-Christian God's behavior, let's question whether something that has a material form necessarily must be acted upon by outside forces. If our Prime Mover is actually, say, a brane from some versions of string theory, the only influence on that brane is going to be other branes "bumping" into it outside space-time. It has a material existence, but literally nothing in our material universe can change it. Does that suffice?

Incorporeal
The distinction between immaterial and incorporeal is literally only important to Catholics, and oddly is really important to them. It's also the source of some of their biggest heresies, because it's used as evidence that Jesus could not have been fully God. Interestingly, refusing to acknowledge this paradox as a paradox was also historically punished as a heresy; for hundreds of years, Catholic scholars could be excommunicated for not agreeing that this didn't make any sense. But let's agree that to anyone else, it's a stupid distinction.

Eternal
So the terms under which we've granted "immutable" and "immaterial" do not in fact guarantee the continued existence of our hypothetical Prime Persister. Even our multi-universal brane might get swallowed by another brane, at which point our entire universe would either collapse into (ironically) a timelessly eternal stasis, or simply end entirely. So "as eternal as the universe, barring its replacement by something else performing the same function" is probably the best we can do.

Omnipotent
This one is frankly ludicrous, because it's transparently being used as a rhetorical trap. "Omnipotent" here is meant as "the only entity we've logically proven is able to produce any change in anything, because we've declared that this is the nature of actualization and posited it as the only thing capable of initially actualizing something." And if we were to grant "Fully Actual," sure, that might follow. But of course when people talk about an "omnipotent god," they're not actually talking about a god who, by existing, makes it possible for me to both create and solve a jigsaw puzzle; they're talking about a god who can knock sparrows out of the sky with a thought and summon zombies to lift rocks that he/she may or may not have already created to be too large to lift. The entire reason this section exists is so that apologists can play rhetorical tricks down the line, and it's honestly a bit rude of them.

Singular
There are two branes, the vibration between each of which sustains the existence of our universe. Fourteenth-dimensional observers call one of them "Ultra-A", and the other one "Ultra-B". They don't know which is which, not least because there definitionally can be no distinguishing features or positioning or anything that would let someone reliably make a distinction, but they sometimes like to write stories in which the two branes are in love but cannot be together because they don't want to accidentally destroy the universe they didn't really intend to make in the first place. In these stories, the authors impute to "Ultra-A" a slightly supercilious British accent, but of course that's fictional.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2022, 09:52:52 AM by Tom »

jc44

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #86 on: June 09, 2022, 11:41:40 AM »
Singular
There are two branes, the vibration between each of which sustains the existence of our universe. Fourteenth-dimensional observers call one of them "Ultra-A", and the other one "Ultra-B". They don't know which is which, not least because there definitionally can be no distinguishing features or positioning or anything that would let someone reliably make a distinction, but they sometimes like to write stories in which the two branes are in love but cannot be together because they don't want to accidentally destroy the universe they didn't really intend to make in the first place. In these stories, the authors impute to "Ultra-A" a slightly supercilious British accent, but of course that's fictional.
Thank you - that bit made my day :)

LetterRip

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #87 on: June 09, 2022, 01:49:40 PM »
Daughter graduating and getting ready to go off to college is giving you way too much time on your hands :)

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #88 on: June 12, 2022, 03:13:31 AM »
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Tom said: Oh, man. You've been reading too much Catholic apologia.

Perhaps you haven't been reading enough. I see in classical theism a carefully-wrought castle that goes up to the clouds, full of truth, hope, and beauty. In all of the competing philosophies I only see a pile of rubble smoldering on the ground, full of defeat, despair, and ugliness. There is nothing more dehumanizing than determinism, which rejects the most essential aspect of humanity given to us with love: free will.

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Tom said: I suppose I should start by saying there's a reason that most academic philosophers consider Catholic apologia in specific to be its own branch of philosophy, much like Rand's utilitarianism: you can't get there from first principles and it doesn't hold up to scrutiny, but its adherents will never admit it. But I'll do my best to address these in a neutral way.

Regarding your first comment about what some modern philosophers think of classical theism, I will just point out that the half-cooked theory you put forward regarding memristor's has a philosophical shelf life of about five minutes and is so deeply uncompelling that you yourself aren't even willing to commit to it. I care absolutely nothing about what modern academia says or thinks; modern academia is full of immoral mid-wits chasing justification for their failings and rejecting the existence of truth.

The other two theories you put forward, determinism and materialism, try to solve the failures in their models by pretending anything which doesn't fit into the model simply doesn't exist, despite the immediate and ever-present evidence to the contrary. Free will? Doesn't exist! (Nevermind that you _really_ seem to experience it). Consciousness? Don't look behind that curtain. Instead, look over here, we have formulas that can describe the motion of billiard balls! If we can do that, trust us, we could predict what you'll have for breakfast in a year. Even though we can't even unify chemistry and physics. We could predict every detail of your life and every choice you ever might make.

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Tom said: First off, before I get into your specific bullet points, here's a big one, and it's challenging something that you seem to be taking as axiomatic: things don't actually need reasons. They need causes (or, at least, everything except a hypothetical Prime Mover(s) require(s) causes), but those causes don't have to satisfy any requirement for rationality....[Electrons] do exist (assuming you believe they do; there are certainly theories out there that say they don't), and they certainly fulfill functions, but do they exist in order to fulfill those functions?

I think there is value and truth in teleology, but the arguments I've made here don't invoke it. I am appealing to the principle of sufficient reason here and using the word reason in that sense.

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Tom said: (Fully Actual) it is not necessary for anything to be fully actualized.

Sure it is. If God were not fully actual, what would act upon him to actualize his potentials?

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Tom said: (Fully Actual) This is just the Prime Mover argument all over again, except for individual qualia (which don't actually exist, BTW.)

They sure seem to exist. Why do you say they don't?

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Tom said:  Heck, Plato actually argued for a metaphysical universe in which all of his Platonic qualia eternally existed in a type of stasis, so that every hot thing shared in the properties of Platonic hotness, without which (he asserted) nothing hot could exist. But of course he did not insist that the Platonically hot thing was also the Platonically intelligent thing, or the Platonically flat thing.

Yes, Plato believed in a realm of forms. I think Plato is wrong about that. I think moderate realism is much more compelling philosophy. Do you think Plato's right? If so, we can talk about it. If not, I don't see much value in invoking a random philosophy from the nearly-infinite pool of philosophies. Tell me what you think and I'll respond to that.

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Tom said: Things can be heated, but surely the background radiation of the universe -- which we have reason to believe came into existence already incredibly hot -- can heat things just fine without needing to make them accept the spirit of heat.

There are two problems here. The first is that without actualization of potential, how do things change? Change is the actualization of potential. You can hand wave that away but it's not going anywhere.

The second is that the heat of the early universe does not necessarily exist. Therefore, appealing to it as a fundamental source of heat is not a complete answer. The question remains "Why was the early universe hot?" You're missing the main thrust of my argument with this response.

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Tom said: Secondly, how you define the qualia that can be actualized here is pretty important. You'll notice that whatever apologist you're working from here has added the caveat, not present in Anselm's original, that contradictory qualia cannot be actualized. This exists because one of the more potent arguments against Anselm back in the old days was that if God had to somehow embody every quality, He also had to embody the most evil of things as well. The convenient response was, "but He already is the most good, so therefore He can't be the most evil!" Obviously this falls down if you're trying to deal with physical attributes: if God is fully-actualized hot, does that mean that cold is simply the absence of hot? That's fair, sure -- but is "healthy" the absence of "poisoned?" If God is fully-actualized Italian, does that mean that Norwegian is simply the absence of Italian? But once you start thinking that way, and realizing how critical it is to identify what qualia you care about, you realize that "actualization" is actually a completely unnecessary mental exercise. (I'll get to that in #4).

I agree, God is not actually hot or actually cold. God doesn't possess hotness formally, he possesses it eminently. God doesn't have to "embody" every quality that might be actualized. As I mentioned above, God is immaterial and yet he created the material universe. He clearly can't be immaterial and "embody" material. 

An effect must be in a cause in one of three ways: formally, virtually, or eminently. Fire possesses heat formally. But when a cobbler makes a shoe, he doesn't himself formally possess "shoeness" -- he isn't a shoe -- but instead he possess the form of a shoe eminently; he holds the form in his mind and is able to actualize it in matter. A thing cannot be a shoe and a person at the same time, but still a person can have the power to actualize a shoe from the potential in matter. Analogically, God cannot be hot and cold at the same time, but God has the power to actualize heat or actualize coldness.

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Tom said: Thirdly, being the Prime Actualizer does not actually mean you have to be Fully Actualized. There is nothing stopping a hypothetical Prime Actualizer from actualizing everything else but not having any properties of its own to actualize.

God is not fully actual in the sense that he is actually every quality something might have. He is fully actual in the sense that he has no potential to be changed.

I agree with your second point: God is perfectly simple, so he doesn't have unique properties. He doesn't have any properties. He is. All of the properties I listed individually are the same one thing in God, not separate things.

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Tom said: Once you realize this, it becomes extremely easy to recognize how Anselm is lazily arguing from his own conclusion. The classic "God must exist because I am defining God as the entity embodying the best of all possible attributes, and the best form of existence is existing"

I don't find the ontological argument for God's existence compelling (whether Anselm's, Descartes, or any other modern rendition) and I have not invoked it here.

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Tom said: (Immutable) Leaving aside my complete rejection of this assertion, let's examine what that means. We see several times in the Bible descriptions of God becoming angry. Assuming that these descriptions are true, moods cannot be actualizable qualia; otherwise, God could never be any angrier or happier or more tired than He is at all times. But let's assume that the Bible's descriptions of God are tainted by the flaws of the humans doing the writing, or that God is perhaps just roleplaying emotions at times to make some point.

God possesses no passive potentiality but he does possess active potentiality. Said another way, God cannot be changed but God can act. So God does become angry, but in a way that is only analogical to the way humans become angry. Anger changes us; it does not change God. God is simple; his anger is his love.

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Tom said: Surely being material is better than being immaterial?

No. Better means moving closer to perfect. Perfection is the actualization of all of the potentials proper to a thing. So it is better for birds to have beaks but it is not better for humans to have beaks. Similarly, it is better for animals to be material, because that is their nature, but it's not better for God to be material. Actuality is better than potentiality, and matter is the principle of potentiality, so immateriality is better than materiality. Not to mention, a material God is a contradiction for the reasons articulated above (just like a triangle with four sides is a contradiction).

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Tom said: (Immaterial) Leaving aside the question of whether there's Biblical support for people successfully changing the Judeo-Christian God's behavior, let's question whether something that has a material form necessarily must be acted upon by outside forces. If our Prime Mover is actually, say, a brane from some versions of string theory, the only influence on that brane is going to be other branes "bumping" into it outside space-time. It has a material existence, but literally nothing in our material universe can change it. Does that suffice?

No, of course not. As above, this is missing the point entirely. I'm not talking about the relative prime cause in only our local universe in some larger multiverse. I'm talking about the absolute prime cause of all of it, no matter how big and strange all of it might be.

If your theory of higher-dimensional branes colliding in higher dimensional spaces creating many many big bangs all isolated from one another is true, that would be no more interesting to what I am articulating than the existence of atoms. The chain of causation described in my first post (and in the long post above) may be very long and very strange; it may pass through all sorts of dimensions and all sorts of strange modulations; it doesn't change the fundamental feature of a contingent chain of existence or a contingent chain of actualization: there must be a most fundamental thing which necessarily exists and is fully actual.

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Tom said: (Eternal) Even our multi-universal brane might get swallowed by another brane, at which point our entire universe would either collapse into (ironically) a timelessly eternal stasis, or simply end entirely. So "as eternal as the universe, barring its replacement by something else performing the same function" is probably the best we can do.

Again, if you can imagine it being swallowed by some other thing, then you are not imagining the God I am pointing at. He is more fundamental than that. He is most fundamental. He is the cause of all things swallowing all other things. He is the most fundamental explanation for it all. If you hold up some thing, label it God, and say "Well this could have been caused by some higher-dimensional thing", then you are not using the word God in the same sense that I am. Or if you leave the label off and point at some thing which has some more fundamental cause, you are not pointing at the thing I am pointing at when I say God.

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Tom said: (Omnipotent) This one is frankly ludicrous, because it's transparently being used as a rhetorical trap. "Omnipotent" here is meant as "the only entity we've logically proven is able to produce any change in anything, because we've declared that this is the nature of actualization and posited it as the only thing capable of initially actualizing something." And if we were to grant "Fully Actual," sure, that might follow. But of course when people talk about an "omnipotent god," they're not actually talking about a god who, by existing, makes it possible for me to both create and solve a jigsaw puzzle; they're talking about a god who can knock sparrows out of the sky with a thought and summon zombies to lift rocks that he/she may or may not have already created to be too large to lift. The entire reason this section exists is so that apologists can play rhetorical tricks down the line, and it's honestly a bit rude of them.

God cannot do the impossible. As I mentioned above, God necessarily exists. That means he can't cease to exist. He similarly cannot make one and one equal two or make a triangle with four sides or make a rock so heavy he cannot lift. These things are impossible and God cannot do them, because they're impossible. They're just nonsense; they're phrases devoid of any real meaning. There is no meaning in saying "a four sided triangle" or "a rock so heavy God can't lift it".

God, who created everything from nothing and sustains all of reality in being from moment to moment, can certainly cause the dead to come back to life or cause a sparrow to fall from the sky. God draws that sparrow every moment; he decides to allow it to fly but he could also decide to make it fall. Just because God often chooses to act in a a predictable (albeit fantastic) way doesn't mean that he always must.

GK Chesterton outlines the distinction between necessary truths and simple repetitions well in Orthodoxy. I will quote a few paragraphs of that in the following post.

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Tom said: There are two branes, the vibration between each of which sustains the existence of our universe. Fourteenth-dimensional observers call one of them "Ultra-A", and the other one "Ultra-B". They don't know which is which, not least because there definitionally can be no distinguishing features or positioning or anything that would let someone reliably make a distinction, but they sometimes like to write stories in which the two branes are in love but cannot be together because they don't want to accidentally destroy the universe they didn't really intend to make in the first place. In these stories, the authors impute to "Ultra-A" a slightly supercilious British accent, but of course that's fictional.

1. If there is nothing to distinguish the two branes at all -- if they aren't made of matter and if they are identical in every way -- then there aren't two branes. Simply insisting that there are two despite this principle is the same as saying "Fourth dimensional observers hold a four-sided triangle in their hands". It's a nonsense sentence.

2. Putting that aside, if our local universe is created by the vibration between these two things, then the question of "Why are there two things? Where did they come from?"

3. ??? ::)
« Last Edit: June 12, 2022, 07:00:21 AM by OrneryMod »

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #89 on: June 12, 2022, 03:14:03 AM »
Quote from: GK Chesterton
Orthodoxy (excerpt):  It might be stated this way. There are certain sequences or developments (cases of one thing following another), which are, in the true sense of the word, reasonable. They are, in the true sense of the word, necessary. Such are mathematical and merely logical sequences. We in fairyland (who are the most reasonable of all creatures) admit that reason and that necessity. For instance, if the Ugly Sisters are older than Cinderella, it is (in an iron and awful sense) NECESSARY that Cinderella is younger than the Ugly Sisters. There is no getting out of it. Haeckel may talk as much fatalism about that fact as he pleases: it really must be. If Jack is the son of a miller, a miller is the father of Jack. Cold reason decrees it from her awful throne: and we in fairyland submit. If the three brothers all ride horses, there are six animals and eighteen legs involved: that is true rationalism, and fairyland is full of it. But as I put my head over the hedge of the elves and began to take notice of the natural world, I observed an extraordinary thing. I observed that learned men in spectacles were talking of the actual things that happened— dawn and death and so on—as if THEY were rational and inevitable. They talked as if the fact that trees bear fruit were just as NECESSARY as the fact that two and one trees make three. But it is not. There is an enormous difference by the test of fairyland; which is the test of the imagination. You cannot IMAGINE two and one not making three. But you can easily imagine trees not growing fruit; you can imagine them growing golden candlesticks or tigers hanging on by the tail. These men in spectacles spoke much of a man named Newton, who was hit by an apple, and who discovered a law. But they could not be got to see the distinction between a true law, a law of reason, and the mere fact of apples falling. If the apple hit Newton's nose, Newton's nose hit the apple. That is a true necessity: because we cannot conceive the one occurring without the other. But we can quite well conceive the apple not falling on his nose; we can fancy it flying ardently through the air to hit some other nose, of which it had a more definite dislike. We have always in our fairy tales kept this sharp distinction between the science of mental relations, in which there really are laws, and the science of physical facts, in which there are no laws, but only weird repetitions. We believe in bodily miracles, but not in mental impossibilities. We believe that a Bean-stalk climbed up to Heaven; but that does not at all confuse our convictions on the philosophical question of how many beans make five.

Here is the peculiar perfection of tone and truth in the nursery tales. The man of science says, "Cut the stalk, and the apple will fall"; but he says it calmly, as if the one idea really led up to the other. The witch in the fairy tale says, "Blow the horn, and the ogre's castle will fall"; but she does not say it as if it were something in which the effect obviously arose out of the cause. Doubtless she has given the advice to many champions, and has seen many castles fall, but she does not lose either her wonder or her reason. She does not muddle her head until it imagines a necessary mental connection between a horn and a falling tower. But the scientific men do muddle their heads, until they imagine a necessary mental connection between an apple leaving the tree and an apple reaching the ground. They do really talk as if they had found not only a set of marvellous facts, but a truth connecting those facts. They do talk as if the connection of two strange things physically connected them philosophically. They feel that because one incomprehensible thing constantly follows another incomprehensible thing the two together somehow make up a comprehensible thing. Two black riddles make a white answer.

In fairyland we avoid the word "law"; but in the land of science they are singularly fond of it. Thus they will call some interesting conjecture about how forgotten folks pronounced the alphabet, Grimm's Law. But Grimm's Law is far less intellectual than Grimm's Fairy Tales. The tales are, at any rate, certainly tales; while the law is not a law. A law implies that we know the nature of the generalisation and enactment; not merely that we have noticed some of the effects. If there is a law that pick-pockets shall go to prison, it implies that there is an imaginable mental connection between the idea of prison and the idea of picking pockets. And we know what the idea is. We can say why we take liberty from a man who takes liberties. But we cannot say why an egg can turn into a chicken any more than we can say why a bear could turn into a fairy prince. As IDEAS, the egg and the chicken are further off from each other than the bear and the prince; for no egg in itself suggests a chicken, whereas some princes do suggest bears. Granted, then, that certain transformations do happen, it is essential that we should regard them in the philosophic manner of fairy tales, not in the unphilosophic manner of science and the "Laws of Nature." When we are asked why eggs turn to birds or fruits fall in autumn, we must answer exactly as the fairy godmother would answer if Cinderella asked her why mice turned to horses or her clothes fell from her at twelve o'clock. We must answer that it is MAGIC. It is not a "law," for we do not understand its general formula. It is not a necessity, for though we can count on it happening practically, we have no right to say that it must always happen. It is no argument for unalterable law (as Huxley fancied) that we count on the ordinary course of things. We do not count on it; we bet on it. We risk the remote possibility of a miracle as we do that of a poisoned pancake or a world-destroying comet. We leave it out of account, not because it is a miracle, and therefore an impossibility, but because it is a miracle, and therefore an exception. All the terms used in the science books, "law," "necessity," "order," "tendency," and so on, are really unintellectual, because they assume an inner synthesis, which we do not possess. The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, "charm," "spell," "enchantment." They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a MAGIC tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched. The sun shines because it is bewitched.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #90 on: June 12, 2022, 01:37:35 PM »
Before we continue, can you describe to me what something that has unactualized potential might look like, for want of having that potential unactualized by your hypothetical god?

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #91 on: June 12, 2022, 11:09:28 PM »
A ball sitting on the ground has the potential to move through the air, but it is currently sitting still.

A piece of lumber as the potential to be formed into a table, but it is currently a piece of lumber.

We have actually made two children, and we can potentially make more.

The cup on my desk has the potential to fall to the floor, but it is actually held 3' above the floor by my desk.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #92 on: June 12, 2022, 11:46:22 PM »
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.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #93 on: June 13, 2022, 02:58:57 AM »
I do not understand, from your examples, why a ball cannot roll without a chain of forces going back to the creation of the universe. What is your Prime Actualizer doing for this ball that present conditions are unable to do?

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #94 on: June 13, 2022, 11:04:28 AM »
BTW, I want to assure you that I intend to discuss the rest of what you've posted, but I think it's really important that we both have a shared understanding of what you're calling an "actualized potential" and why you believe all such actualization has to derive from a Prime Mover. So many (truly old-school) Catholic assumptions hang on this that I don't want to proceed without being sure that I know what you're meaning by the concept. I've assumed you're not going all the way back to Aristotle on this one, but you're clearly not channeling Leibniz either -- and the more you talk, the more I think you really are going all classically Greek. I just want to nail that down.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2022, 11:08:18 AM by Tom »

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #95 on: June 13, 2022, 11:34:01 AM »
I've assumed you're not going all the way back to Aristotle on this one, but you're clearly not channeling Leibniz either -- and the more you talk, the more I think you really are going all classically Greek. I just want to nail that down.

My assumption has been that it's Aristotle via Aquinas, but please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #96 on: June 13, 2022, 11:57:20 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.)

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #97 on: June 15, 2022, 01:51:11 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). 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.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #98 on: June 15, 2022, 01:56:20 AM »
I do not understand, from your examples, why a ball cannot roll without a chain of forces going back to the creation of the universe. What is your Prime Actualizer doing for this ball that present conditions are unable to do?

A ball cannot roll without a preceding cause, and the prime mover is the first cause of motion. Things don't happen for no reason; as we discussed, there are reasons for why things happen, and so there must be a first reason.

In addition, a ball's nature is not to necessarily exist, so a ball does not exist, right here in this moment, without causes for its existence. God, who is fully actual, sustains the ball in existence, right here in this moment. That is to say, God actualizes the ball's potential to exist every moment. Just like my desk actualizes my cup's potential to sit three feet above the ground every moment.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #99 on: June 15, 2022, 02:12:29 AM »
BTW, I want to assure you that I intend to discuss the rest of what you've posted.

I don't mind. It'd be easier to talk with you if you put some additional pieces on the board, but I'm OK with putting mine out first. That's really the purpose of this thread for me; I want to sharpen my understanding of these ideas and play with them. I'm glad to share the things that I've found with anyone who's interested, but that's sort of a secondary benefit for me. I've long since given up trying to change people's mind here.

but I think it's really important that we both have a shared understanding of what you're calling an "actualized potential" and why you believe all such actualization has to derive from a Prime Mover.

Potential cannot actualize itself. That's the most simple answer to this question.

So many (truly old-school) Catholic assumptions hang on this that I don't want to proceed without being sure that I know what you're meaning by the concept. 

I'm not trying to defend the validity of theology or Catholic theology specifically in this thread. I have been careful to stay firmly on the side of philosophy, which shows us a God which is a subset of the Catholic understanding of God. The Catholics believe in things like the Trinity and Incarnation through divine revelation, but that stuff is not accessible through natural philosophy. I'm not going near any of that.

I've assumed you're not going all the way back to Aristotle on this one

For the prime mover, I am going back to Aristotle and the first of Aquinas's five ways. Their arguments were expanded by Feser to talk about a hierarchical series of actualization of potential of existence, right here in this moment, and I think that's a good argument. But to my mind, it is a parallel argument. I am also convinced by Aquinas's first way which is essentially Aristotle's unmoving mover.

but you're clearly not channeling Leibniz either -- and the more you talk, the more I think you really are going all classically Greek. I just want to nail that down.

I haven't read Leibniz. Feser indicated that the argument outlined on the first page, for something which necessarily exists from the principle of sufficient reason, was derived from Liebniz's work, but I haven't read Liebniz to be able to confirm that myself.