Author Topic: God Exists  (Read 20564 times)

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #250 on: July 08, 2022, 04:18:23 PM »
I'll be on for real tonight or sometime soon to respond fully. Just having some fun with that comment.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #251 on: July 09, 2022, 02:59:55 AM »
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Something here in this moment must necessarily exist and be imparting existing to all other contingent things.
Leaving aside that this is definitely not Aristotle's use of "necessary," why do you believe this is the case? Why could all the contingent things not be contingent upon something that made them exist at the beginning of the universe, and not since then?

I don't know how many times I have to repeat myself: I am not making Aristotle's argument of an unmoving mover here. I do think those arguments are fine, but I am not making or defending them.

I ask this because in abandoning chronological chains, you actually abandon the core of Aquinas

I don't know how many times I have to repeat myself: I am not making Aquinas's argument here. I do think those arguments are fine, but I am not making or defending them.

Incidentally, nothing I've said is contrary to Aquinas's arguments. You don't seem to actually understand what I've put forward or what he's put forward, so it's not surprising that you think they are contradictory, but I expect Aquinas would be fine with everything I've said here.

(and, incidentally, the utility of the PSR to your argument.)

No. Things need a reason for why they exist here in this moment. That is an appeal to the PSR. You recognize this, because you put forward an argument for a property of persistence as an explanation of why things exist here in this moment.

The idea that things need an active, intentional underpinning from a non-underpinned entity to exist right now is, I submit, an a priori axiom and not defensible by observation or conclusion.

Yeah, either things exist right now due to reasons or their existence is (or relies upon) a brute fact. I reject bruteness and embrace the PSR, not as an axiom, but for the reasons I've presented.

I'm afraid that I found the video you linked to be empty Catholic pontificating (heh). It was like watching Jordan Peterson; the guy's very confident of his thought, but doesn't seem aware of the fragility of his claims and consequently is preaching to the choir and hoping to snare the un-critical. Which part of it did you find valuable to your own argument?

The part where he talks about how scientists cannot describe biology in purely chemical terms, nor can they describe chemistry in purely physical terms. You are implicitly (or explicitly?) embraced the idea that all science is reducible to physics. I am arguing that doing so is just a tenant of faith you have, a dogmatic view you brandy about, contrary to our best science.

Quote from: JoshuaD
Something must be the first principle of its life.
Why?

Because things being animate requires a reason. Matter is not necessarily alive. If living things are distinct from non-living things, then there must be a cause for why that is.

Leaving aside my extreme dislike of "principles" of this sort,

You've invoked your personal distaste multiple times in this thread. Why should anyone on earth care what Tom finds distasteful? Of course you find it distasteful; these ideas attack your strong faith in materialism. The fact that you find them distasteful doesn't make them untrue.

it's worth observing that one of my friends is very close -- probably within three years -- to creating lab-made bacteriological life. Are you asserting that at the moment he does so, that emergent bacteria will acquire a "bacteriological soul" in the way your tree has a hypothetical "vegetable soul?" Which of the chemical reactions that led to the bacteria imparted a soul to it?

Humans create life all the time. Whenever we procreate we create a life. We do so formally. I don't know whether we can create life from scratch in a laboratory. If we can, great. We would then also possess the power to create life eminently. Bacteria is typically understood to have a vegetative soul because it has the powers of nutrition, augmentation, and generation, but does not have senses in the way that animals do.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #252 on: July 09, 2022, 03:05:38 AM »
I missed the edit window, so I'm just popping in here to mention that I'm willing to discuss the video and the horrific abuse of the word "intuition" the speaker commits in it, but I'd much rather see you answer a few of my open questions first. You've ignored or dodged quite a few of them, and I think some of them are fairly important.

O_O. I've been doing my best to hit back every ball you and Fenring send my way. If I missed one in the waves of questions and misunderstandings, please highlight it and I'll respond. I have ignored the places where you've offered insults instead of arguments. I don't mind the insults, but I don't have any interest in responding to them.

I'm not trying to get dragged into the weeds defending every argument made by any Catholic ever, nor am I trying to get sidetracked into things like the problem of evil (which deserve their own thread) but I believe I have responded to everything relating to my actual posts.

On the other hand, you've been picking and choosing responses as you please, dismissing things because you find them distasteful, and simply waving away arguments you don't want to deal with. You still haven't put forward a complete competing idea or even fully expressed your ideas. You dismiss metaphysics outright without recognizing that any belief system is going to come accompanied with a metaphysical system of some sort or another.

Through these last 4 pages, you've failed to demonstrate a true comprehension of the argument I've been putting forward. I've constantly had to correct misrepresentations of my views in your expression of them, and then you continue to persist in holding those misrepresentations.

Please, if you feel I haven't responded to any point you've made, highlight it and I will respond.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2022, 03:12:10 AM by JoshuaD »

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #253 on: July 09, 2022, 03:29:02 AM »
I do think the arguments which rely on chronology hold, but I don't want to debate sci-fi with you and Tom, and I find it easiest to sidestep that whole mess by talking about a hierarchical chain of causation rather than an historical one.

Hierarchical in what sense?

Hierarchical in the sense that it is all happening right here in this moment, as I outlined in my original post: "if I were to say "I exist because of the molecules and particles of my body," that would be true, but incomplete. I also need to explain why the molecules and particles in my body exist, and why the subatomic particle exist, and so on and so forth."

But your argument uses elements from Aquinas' formats which are talking about chronology, such as saying contingent things require causes, but cannot cause each other to infinity, and so forth.

Where have I invoked chronology? I don't think I have. I have spent a lot of time responding to people who invoke time, but I consistently reject that frame for my argument.

It seems to me that if you're only talking about God propping up reality, as I mentioned above there is no hierarchy or order of efficient causes. God wills it, and we persist.
...

You're ruling out infinite regress and time loops because you want to trace that chain to a final destination; but a final destination doesn't exist in the God--> us supports us with His will direct argument. You don't need intermediary causes to even have to worry about excluding infinite regress.

Yeah, I don't think God is the proximate cause for the flow of my blood. God is the ultimate cause, in that he causes all things to be in existence, but my heart is the proximate cause. I don't think it's accurate to reject all intermediary causes as illusory.

But what evidence in science and philosophy give us the information needed to say God supports us all right here and now in this moment? What successes have we had that can demonstrate we can deduce this type of result?

The argument I presented on the first page: contingent things exist in this moment and the PSR is true, therefore something which necessarily exists must be the cause of existence in this moment.




Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #254 on: July 09, 2022, 11:35:46 AM »
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If I missed one...
You missed several. You missed, in fact, nearly all. Just as a really facile example: in the very first paragraph of your latest reply to me, you replied to this comment with a digression about Aristotle:

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Leaving aside that this is definitely not Aristotle's use of "necessary," why do you believe this is the case? Why could all the contingent things not be contingent upon something that made them exist at the beginning of the universe, and not since then?

There is one central, even arguably fundamental question in that paragraph, and you decided instead to comment exclusively on the bit I said I was leaving aside. :) You have done this amazingly often.

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Bacteria is typically understood to have a vegetative soul...
While I'm more than willing to wait for you to catch up with your answers before continuing, I think it's necessary to comment on how outrageously funny I found this particular assertion.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2022, 11:38:36 AM by Tom »

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #255 on: July 09, 2022, 11:44:32 AM »
Hierarchical in the sense that it is all happening right here in this moment, as I outlined in my original post: "if I were to say "I exist because of the molecules and particles of my body," that would be true, but incomplete. I also need to explain why the molecules and particles in my body exist, and why the subatomic particle exist, and so on and so forth."

Yeah but the fact of things existing right now, in this moment, is not a hierarchy: there is no intermediate cause between God willing something to persist and it persisting. So explaining why your blood flows chronologically requires intermediary causes, since God created everything, God causes things to persist, and since they work according to laws they do specific things. But take away chronology and there is no intermediate step, hence no hierarchy. And you have said you are only talking about persistence itself. The reason my blood exists right now in this moment is not because subatomic particles exist; those are not in any way the cause of my persistence since they are as dependent as the rest of everything for existing (according to the argument).

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Where have I invoked chronology?

Your argument's first clause is based on the fact that we can see why things exist, which surely must be about how things are working in time. If it's not then I actually don't know what it would be trying to say - that we can see in the instantaneous moment of time why they are made to persist? No, it sounds to me pretty clearly that we see that things work according to a certain logic, which is a chronological consideration. Likewise, your clause about science (and philosophy) working is strictly a chronological affair since science says nothing about why things persist in this moment.

And if our courage to say we can have success in understanding things comes from our observations and learning about how things work, that category of understanding (chronological) does not lend us credence to then make statements about why things persist across time. It's not part of what we are observing. Philosophy, on the other hand, does offer metaphysical speculations, so we could still include that and eliminate science as mattering from your argument. However part of your argument stipulates that we have had successes in philosophy which demonstrate that we can trust its intuitions, and I've already asked what an example might be of a success in philosophy such as would lend us any credibility in knowing we can say things about why things persist in this moment.

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Yeah, I don't think God is the proximate cause for the flow of my blood. God is the ultimate cause, in that he causes all things to be in existence, but my heart is the proximate cause. I don't think it's accurate to reject all intermediary causes as illusory.

I didn't, your argument does if we are only talking about why things persist right now. You're mixing up the hierarchy of proximate causes in chronology with a hierarchy of why things persist, the latter of which doesn't have a hierarchy since God willing it is the only cause (according to the argument).

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But what evidence in science and philosophy give us the information needed to say God supports us all right here and now in this moment? What successes have we had that can demonstrate we can deduce this type of result?

The argument I presented on the first page: contingent things exist in this moment and the PSR is true, therefore something which necessarily exists must be the cause of existence in this moment.

Heh, you can't cite the argument you're making as an example of a success in philosophy that should make us trust philosophical statements. I am asking upon which firmament previously established in philosophy do we have a good basis for having observations or solid statements about why things persist right now in this moment. As Tom is, I'm asking in what possible way a statement about things persisting can be anything but an axiom.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #256 on: July 10, 2022, 04:29:08 AM »
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If I missed one...
You missed several. You missed, in fact, nearly all.

Feel free to ping them, I'm happy to respond to anything that's near the topic I started.

Quote from: Tom
Just as a really facile example: in the very first paragraph of your latest reply to me, you replied to this comment with a digression about Aristotle:

Quote from: Tom, previously
Leaving aside that this is definitely not Aristotle's use of "necessary," why do you believe this is the case? Why could all the contingent things not be contingent upon something that made them exist at the beginning of the universe, and not since then?

I've answered this a few times.

As I have mentioned and as you have implicitly accepted (with your proposed property of persistence) the existence of things at this moment requires an explanation and history is not a sufficient explanation. History does not exist in this moment, so something must be the cause of existence here in this moment.

To address this problem, you proposed a property of persistence. I replied with two counter points:
1. If the property in intrinsic to the thing, then this is a nonsensical circular boot-strapping: the thing's existence depends on the property and the property's existence depends on the thing. A mutual dependency like this cannot cause existence (because P->Q and Q->P is satisfied by `P and `Q). 

2. If the property is extrinsic to the thing, then (pursuant to the PSR) the property's existence requires an explanation. If you assert that property as a brute fact, it's essentially no different than asserting the thing's existence as a brute fact.

So the ball's still in your court on that point. I don't mind too much repeating what's been said, but I do feel like we're entering unintentional filibuster territory. We're six pages deep and I still don't have any sense that you truly comprehend the arguments I'm making. I'm confident I can express your ideas in a way where you'd read it and say "Yeah, that's my thing." And I am similarly confident that you can't express the ideas I've put forward. Naturally, you don't have to agree with them, but if we're going to argue the point, it would be a good start to actually comprehend them.

Quote from: Tom
Quote from: JoshuaD
Bacteria is typically understood to have a vegetative soul...
While I'm more than willing to wait for you to catch up with your answers before continuing, I think it's necessary to comment on how outrageously funny I found this particular assertion.

Yeah. These offhand comments of yours illustrate how void of value your philosophy is. You dismiss things because they're funny or they cause you to shudder or you hate them. Often when you run into a view that is contrary to the obviously flawed materialism that you subscribe to, you don't refute it with reason, you respond to it with emotion.

Bacteria does essentially the same thing plants do: it self-nourishes, it grows, and it multiplies. It doesn't seem to have sensitive powers like animals do. If you wanted to make an argument that bacteria is more like a very limited animal than like a plant, that would be fine. Maybe you could even make that case (I think you're fighting uphill, but to illustrate a point I'll posit you could); that wouldn't be a refutation of the framework, it would just be a correction to a particular categorization.

---

Feel free to ping anything else you feel like I've failed to respond to. I'd be glad to hit anything you feel has been missed.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2022, 04:39:00 AM by JoshuaD »

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #257 on: July 10, 2022, 04:45:56 AM »
Hierarchical in the sense that it is all happening right here in this moment, as I outlined in my original post: "if I were to say "I exist because of the molecules and particles of my body," that would be true, but incomplete. I also need to explain why the molecules and particles in my body exist, and why the subatomic particle exist, and so on and so forth."

Yeah but the fact of things existing right now, in this moment, is not a hierarchy: there is no intermediate cause between God willing something to persist and it persisting. So explaining why your blood flows chronologically requires intermediary causes, since God created everything, God causes things to persist, and since they work according to laws they do specific things. But take away chronology and there is no intermediate step, hence no hierarchy. And you have said you are only talking about persistence itself. The reason my blood exists right now in this moment is not because subatomic particles exist; those are not in any way the cause of my persistence since they are as dependent as the rest of everything for existing (according to the argument).


No, I don't think that's accurate. God is the fundamental cause of my existence at this moment, but a proximate cause of my existence is the cells in my body or the molecules in my cells, which is caused by the atoms in those molecules, which is caused by the particles in those atoms, which are caused by <whatever>. And so on. At the root of that chain of causation, right here in this moment, there must be something which necessarily exists, because all of those other things have contingent existence.


Your argument's first clause is based on the fact that we can see why things exist, which surely must be about how things are working in time.

No. Not necessarily. We can talk about historical causes and those are valid. We can also talk about hierarchical causes.

For example, why does my keyboard sit on my desk rather than fall to the floor?

We can talk about the history of the keyboard: the gathering of the raw materials, the forming of them into a keyboard, their packaging, the delivery drivers, the store, my purchase, its unpacking, and me plugging it in to my computer and putting it on my desk.

But none of that has anything to do with why it sits 3 feet above the ground rather than falling to the floor. All of the causation of that is happening right here in this moment. The keyboard rests on my desk, which rests on the carpet, which rests upon the floor boards, which rest upon the floor beams, and so on. The cause for its sitting 3 feet above the ground is hierarchical, not historical.

Similarly, our existence must rest upon something, here in this moment. The past no longer exists; something which does not exist cannot give existence to something now. It could have been an historical cause, but it cannot actualize existence here in this moment.

Quote from: Fenring
Quote from: JoshuaD
Quote from: Fenring
But what evidence in science and philosophy give us the information needed to say God supports us all right here and now in this moment? What successes have we had that can demonstrate we can deduce this type of result?

The argument I presented on the first page: contingent things exist in this moment and the PSR is true, therefore something which necessarily exists must be the cause of existence in this moment.

Heh, you can't cite the argument you're making as an example of a success in philosophy that should make us trust philosophical statements. I am asking upon which firmament previously established in philosophy do we have a good basis for having observations or solid statements about why things persist right now in this moment. As Tom is, I'm asking in what possible way a statement about things persisting can be anything but an axiom.

I don't get your objection. You seem to want me to offer a parallel argument because the one on the first page is not enough. While I think that request is kind of silly, I would point out that the argument for God being fully actual that I provided a few pages back is a completely parallel argument, as is the argument for God's intellect from the universals, as is the argument for God being non-composite. These four all start from observing something obvious about reality around us, and conclude a particular property of God. Then, upon reflection, wen can see that they're all pointing at the same God.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2022, 04:56:03 AM by JoshuaD »

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #258 on: July 10, 2022, 09:03:55 AM »
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A mutual dependency like this cannot cause existence
Can you explain why you're concerned about the cause of existence when I'm talking about a property that mandates existence? Again, I am simply proposing that once things exist, they continue to exist until made to not exist. This is far more descriptive of observable reality.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #259 on: July 10, 2022, 11:59:15 PM »
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A mutual dependency like this cannot cause existence
Can you explain why you're concerned about the cause of existence when I'm talking about a property that mandates existence? Again, I am simply proposing that once things exist, they continue to exist until made to not exist. This is far more descriptive of observable reality.

What? The property is your proposed cause of existence of things. That's what we're talking about. Why do thing's exist?

You can substitute "reason" for "cause" if you'd like; I mean them in the same sense here.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #260 on: July 11, 2022, 12:10:28 AM »
No. The property is my proposed cause of the persistence of things.
Things can exist for whatever separate reason we want to propose -- but they persist because, once they exist, they need to be made to not exist.
Fair?

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #261 on: July 11, 2022, 02:03:21 AM »
To say that something persists is to say it persists in existence. You are also answering the question of "why does this thing exist?"

There is a cup. It exists. You're saying that it exists right now because it existed previously and there is (or the cup has) a property of persistence. I have responded a few posts back about why that property is nonsensical if you try to assert that it's intrinsic to the cup, and not a final explanation if you try to assert that it is extrinisic to the cup.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #262 on: July 11, 2022, 07:56:43 AM »
I think it was pretty clear that I found that previous "explanation" nonsensical (as you had tied yourself into knots with a Greek understanding of "properties" that had no actual basis in reality.) Want to try to explain again why you think persistence cannot be a property of matter? Note that, by a strict reading of the PSR, you are actually required to supply a reason for things to stop existing.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #263 on: July 11, 2022, 11:28:53 AM »
Joshua, in your last reply to me you're mixing up Aristotle's four causes. I know you haven't mentioned Aristotle, but you're using his language, so we have to keep consistent with that language. Just so I'm clear - there is no contemporary use of the word "cause" in the way you're using it, as the term does not mean what you're using it to mean. That's ok, we can use Aristotle's meaning so long as we're clear and consistent in that usage.

God is the fundamental cause of my existence at this moment

Since your premise is that non-existence is the default and it requires an active move by God to keep things persistent, this would be an efficient cause of things keeping as they are. This is a consideration of change or potential change, with that change (or lack thereof) being controlled by God.

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but a proximate cause of my existence is the cells in my body or the molecules in my cells, which is caused by the atoms in those molecules, which is caused by the particles in those atoms, which are caused by <whatever>. And so on.

No, the material that makes up your body is not a proximate cause of your existence, it is the material cause of your body. And their structure is the formal cause of why you are the way you are. A proximate cause (a modern term) is an event closely related to another event that is related to a change in circumstances, i.e. one event affects another. This would fall under efficient cause, which is not what the material making up your body is.

Now you have refrained from addressing this type of issue, but if you wanted to look at subatomic physics and argue that everything is in motion within you, thus there could be a breakdown between formal + material causes and efficient causes for things happening, then I could accept that. But you are equivocating with the word "cause" and using it in all sorts of different ways within the same proposition. My cells are not the "cause" of my existence in the same way that God "causes" me to continue existing; they are categorically different. And again, this all requires us to accept the use of translations of antiquated language (which by the way I don't accept, but which I'll go along with to follow an argument) and disregard the fairly obvious fact that if you said to anyone today that the atoms making up your body are the "cause" of your existence they would just look at your funny unless they worked in a classics department. How could my cells and atoms by the "cause" of me when they ARE me? I'm not interested in pursuing that argument, but just illustrating how much we must already bend in using old language. Let's actually use that language as intended!

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At the root of that chain of causation, right here in this moment, there must be something which necessarily exists, because all of those other things have contingent existence.

As I just mentioned, this backtraced chain of causation of why I exist in this moment does not work:

Me <-- my cells <-- my atoms <-- etc etc <-- God

My cells and atoms play no part, according to your argument, in allowing me to persist from moment to moment, since they do not intrinsically contain the property of persistence. Therefore they are not a cause of me ceasing to vanish. God would be the agent causing both them me to continue to persist, simultaneously. There is no chain of causation there, just one single causation keeping the entire boat afloat. The only way a reference to my body's structure matters is if you're looking to find out why I stay alive and don't die over time, which cannot be part of the argument since you are not talking about how things change over time.

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Your argument's first clause is based on the fact that we can see why things exist, which surely must be about how things are working in time.

No. Not necessarily. We can talk about historical causes and those are valid. We can also talk about hierarchical causes.

Historical causes are about rate of change over time; it's physics and motion. You have ruled this out as being part of what you're talking about.

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For example, why does my keyboard sit on my desk rather than fall to the floor?

Due to the effects over time of electromagnetism, which has nothing to do with why the desk, the floor, and electromagnetism continue to persist over time rather than just vanish. These chronological phenomena (so-called laws of nature) have nothing to do with persistence, which you yourself have insisted on since physical nature itself cannot contain persistence as a property. Therefore any goings-on of nature cannot explain persistence.

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We can talk about the history of the keyboard: the gathering of the raw materials, the forming of them into a keyboard, their packaging, the delivery drivers, the store, my purchase, its unpacking, and me plugging it in to my computer and putting it on my desk.

Same objection as above.

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But none of that has anything to do with why it sits 3 feet above the ground rather than falling to the floor. All of the causation of that is happening right here in this moment. The keyboard rests on my desk, which rests on the carpet, which rests upon the floor boards, which rest upon the floor beams, and so on. The cause for its sitting 3 feet above the ground is hierarchical, not historical.

This is wrong on every level. No natural effects are instantaneous, they occur over time, usually mediated by the speed of light. E/M replusing effects occur with a certain force over time; gravity functions at a certain strength over time, transmitted at the speed of light; all of this has to do with how things change over time. None of it is a static situation that 'just is'. Now if you want to call the laws of nature 'hierarchical' and define "hierarchical" as simply being synonymous with forces that categorically affect all matter and energy, I guess that would be ok. But you do understand that the laws of nature are only measurements of how things change over time, right? They are literally not anything else. Now you might think that something like a proton's mass is unchanging over time, but even this isn't clear. We don't know whether the proton mass is absolutely fixed, nor can we just 'see' its mass; but rather we can only speak of its mass via experiments that measure change over time. So the reality of mass is nested with the reality of active measurements, which in turn are a function of change over time. So you can call natural laws hierarchical if you like, but those are not a hierarchy in the sense of 'existing' within an instant of time as some kind of tower standing about material reality and heading toward God. They only exist vis a vis measurements of change over time. If you are eliminating chronology then you are eliminating them as well.

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Similarly, our existence must rest upon something, here in this moment. The past no longer exists; something which does not exist cannot give existence to something now. It could have been an historical cause, but it cannot actualize existence here in this moment.

I understand this has been your position, but you can't fall back on the laws of nature to explain our existence either. Unless you are suggesting that persistence over time is actually a law of nature? But that's what Tom has been suggesting and you've rejected it. If persistence has no part of the physical laws then those are of no help to us to explain why things persist.

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I don't get your objection. You seem to want me to offer a parallel argument because the one on the first page is not enough. While I think that request is kind of silly, I would point out that the argument for God being fully actual that I provided a few pages back is a completely parallel argument, as is the argument for God's intellect from the universals, as is the argument for God being non-composite. These four all start from observing something obvious about reality around us, and conclude a particular property of God. Then, upon reflection, wen can see that they're all pointing at the same God.

Just so I'm clear, are you citing these theological propositions as being the basis of your statement in clause #2 that science and philosophy do function? Note again, my objection is that your statement that we can trust science and philosophy is meant to support the proposition that God props up existence in this moment, which doesn't seem to make sense unless one or both fields have provided for us solid evidence that we can make strong statements like this. So are you limiting this solid evidence to the theological propositions you just named (about the attributes of God), or are there other domains of philosophy that have shown us success that should give us confidence in making statements about how existence is propped up?
« Last Edit: July 11, 2022, 11:37:05 AM by Fenring »

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #264 on: July 23, 2022, 04:49:01 AM »
I think it was pretty clear that I found that previous "explanation" nonsensical (as you had tied yourself into knots with a Greek understanding of "properties" that had no actual basis in reality.) Want to try to explain again why you think persistence cannot be a property of matter? Note that, by a strict reading of the PSR, you are actually required to supply a reason for things to stop existing.

I have explained it already, a few times, and you haven't responded to that explanation.  Here it is quoted again:

"1. If the property in intrinsic to the thing, then this is a nonsensical circular boot-strapping: the thing's existence depends on the property and the property's existence depends on the thing. A mutual dependency like this cannot cause existence (because P->Q and Q->P is satisfied by `P and `Q).

2. If the property is extrinsic to the thing, then (pursuant to the PSR) the property's existence requires an explanation. If you assert that property as a brute fact, it's essentially no different than asserting the thing's existence as a brute fact. "

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #265 on: July 23, 2022, 05:30:40 AM »
Joshua, in your last reply to me you're mixing up Aristotle's four causes. I know you haven't mentioned Aristotle, but you're using his language, so we have to keep consistent with that language. Just so I'm clear - there is no contemporary use of the word "cause" in the way you're using it, as the term does not mean what you're using it to mean. That's ok, we can use Aristotle's meaning so long as we're clear and consistent in that usage.

I'm not. If you'd like, quote the part that confuses you and I'd be glad to clarify.


God is the fundamental cause of my existence at this moment

Since your premise is that non-existence is the default and it requires an active move by God to keep things persistent, this would be an efficient cause of things keeping as they are. This is a consideration of change or potential change, with that change (or lack thereof) being controlled by God.

And?

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but a proximate cause of my existence is the cells in my body or the molecules in my cells, which is caused by the atoms in those molecules, which is caused by the particles in those atoms, which are caused by <whatever>. And so on.

No, the material that makes up your body is not a proximate cause of your existence, it is the material cause of your body. And their structure is the formal cause of why you are the way you are. A proximate cause (a modern term) is an event closely related to another event that is related to a change in circumstances, i.e. one event affects another. This would fall under efficient cause, which is not what the material making up your body is.

I am using the word "proximate" here as opposed to "ultimate" or "most fundamental". This is a common usage. If you prefer the phrase "immediate cause" we can use that instead. You had previously asserted that a chain of causation of existence was an unnecessary structure because God causes everything, and I am rejecting that. God does ultimately cause everything, but he is not the immediate cause of everything.

Now you have refrained from addressing this type of issue, but if you wanted to look at subatomic physics and argue that everything is in motion within you, thus there could be a breakdown between formal + material causes and efficient causes for things happening, then I could accept that.

I have avoided the science-fiction of time-travel and time-loops and farting-goats that you and Tom want to make up and then use as counterarguments because they are science fiction. In addition, they are all categorically uninteresting and fail to address the fundamental point of the argument on page one.

But you are equivocating with the word "cause" and using it in all sorts of different ways within the same proposition. My cells are not the "cause" of my existence in the same way that God "causes" me to continue existing; they are categorically different.

I do not think that is an equivocation. My existence at this moment relies upon, among other things, the existence of my constituent parts. The existence of my constituent parts relies upon the existence of their parts, and so on and so forth. Ultimately, all of that must rest upon something which necessarily exists, or the entire chain doesn't exist.

And again, this all requires us to accept the use of translations of antiquated language (which by the way I don't accept, but which I'll go along with to follow an argument)

What do you mean by antiquated language? I think you mean antiquated ideas. And calling something antiquated isn't a response at all.

... and disregard the fairly obvious fact that if you said to anyone today that the atoms making up your body are the "cause" of your existence they would just look at your funny unless they worked in a classics department. How could my cells and atoms by the "cause" of me when they ARE me? I'm not interested in pursuing that argument, but just illustrating how much we must already bend in using old language. Let's actually use that language as intended!

Yes, modern people educated by our science-only education system need an education on how to think and how to use words. I don't care that they might look at me funny. Why would I care about that at all? How do you imagine this is an argument?

If a quantum physicist started talking about quantum mechanics at a highly technical level, I would look at him funny. That wouldn't mean that he was wrong or using words wrong; it would mean that I didn't understand his discipline.

Quote from: JoshuaD
At the root of that chain of causation, right here in this moment, there must be something which necessarily exists, because all of those other things have contingent existence.
As I just mentioned, this backtraced chain of causation of why I exist in this moment does not work:

Me <-- my cells <-- my atoms <-- etc etc <-- God

My cells and atoms play no part, according to your argument, in allowing me to persist from moment to moment, since they do not intrinsically contain the property of persistence. Therefore they are not a cause of me ceasing to vanish. God would be the agent causing both them me to continue to persist, simultaneously. There is no chain of causation there, just one single causation keeping the entire boat afloat. The only way a reference to my body's structure matters is if you're looking to find out why I stay alive and don't die over time, which cannot be part of the argument since you are not talking about how things change over time.

You seem to understand cause to be strictly regarding change-over-time. That is not how I am using the term nor how those who translated Aristotle used the term. If that's a source of confusion for you, I'm sorry, but you'll just have to get used to it. It is a relatively common usage.

Historical causes are about rate of change over time; it's physics and motion. You have ruled this out as being part of what you're talking about.

Yes, I have avoided talking about historical causes in this thread. I think the lines of reasoning which work historical causes are valid, but I have not employed those lines of reasoning.


Quote from: JoshuaD
For example, why does my keyboard sit on my desk rather than fall to the floor?
Due to the effects over time of electromagnetism, which has nothing to do with why the desk, the floor, and electromagnetism continue to persist over time rather than just vanish. These chronological phenomena (so-called laws of nature) have nothing to do with persistence, which you yourself have insisted on since physical nature itself cannot contain persistence as a property. Therefore any goings-on of nature cannot explain persistence.

The past doesn't exist. The past cannot be the reason why my keyboard doesn't fall. Something here in this moment must be the cause.

Quote from: Fenring
Quote from: JoshuaD
We can talk about the history of the keyboard: the gathering of the raw materials, the forming of them into a keyboard, their packaging, the delivery drivers, the store, my purchase, its unpacking, and me plugging it in to my computer and putting it on my desk.

Same objection as above.

Lol, what? Are you just blindly objecting to anything I say now? What is possibly objectionable about what I said in this quote? We can't talk about raw materials? We can't talk about delivery drivers?

Quote from: Fenring
Quote from: JoshuaD
But none of that has anything to do with why it sits 3 feet above the ground rather than falling to the floor. All of the causation of that is happening right here in this moment. The keyboard rests on my desk, which rests on the carpet, which rests upon the floor boards, which rest upon the floor beams, and so on. The cause for its sitting 3 feet above the ground is hierarchical, not historical.

This is wrong on every level. No natural effects are instantaneous, they occur over time, usually mediated by the speed of light. E/M replusing effects occur with a certain force over time; gravity functions at a certain strength over time, transmitted at the speed of light; all of this has to do with how things change over time. None of it is a static situation that 'just is'. Now if you want to call the laws of nature 'hierarchical' and define "hierarchical" as simply being synonymous with forces that categorically affect all matter and energy, I guess that would be ok. But you do understand that the laws of nature are only measurements of how things change over time, right? They are literally not anything else. Now you might think that something like a proton's mass is unchanging over time, but even this isn't clear. We don't know whether the proton mass is absolutely fixed, nor can we just 'see' its mass; but rather we can only speak of its mass via experiments that measure change over time. So the reality of mass is nested with the reality of active measurements, which in turn are a function of change over time. So you can call natural laws hierarchical if you like, but those are not a hierarchy in the sense of 'existing' within an instant of time as some kind of tower standing about material reality and heading toward God. They only exist vis a vis measurements of change over time. If you are eliminating chronology then you are eliminating them as well.

I am not making an appeal to the models of physics. Nothing I've said here is contrary to physics, but I'm also not appealing to physics. Indicating that a physical model, known to be incomplete and flawed and only a first-order approximation, doesn't map exactly the same way as what I'm saying on the metaphysical level is non-responsive. You're missing the point entirely. You are losing the forest for the trees.


Quote from: Fenring
Quote from: JoshuaD
Similarly, our existence must rest upon something, here in this moment. The past no longer exists; something which does not exist cannot give existence to something now. It could have been an historical cause, but it cannot actualize existence here in this moment.

I understand this has been your position, but you can't fall back on the laws of nature to explain our existence either. Unless you are suggesting that persistence over time is actually a law of nature? But that's what Tom has been suggesting and you've rejected it. If persistence has no part of the physical laws then those are of no help to us to explain why things persist.

I am not rejecting that things persist over time. So sure, persistence over time is a law of nature. But that law of nature is not a brute fact. There must be a reason for it; the existence of things and the existence of that property or tendency is not a sufficient explanation for why things exist.

Quote from: Fenring
Quote from: JoshuaD
I don't get your objection. You seem to want me to offer a parallel argument because the one on the first page is not enough. While I think that request is kind of silly, I would point out that the argument for God being fully actual that I provided a few pages back is a completely parallel argument, as is the argument for God's intellect from the universals, as is the argument for God being non-composite. These four all start from observing something obvious about reality around us, and conclude a particular property of God. Then, upon reflection, wen can see that they're all pointing at the same God.

Just so I'm clear, are you citing these theological propositions as being the basis of your statement in clause #2 that science and philosophy do function? Note again, my objection is that your statement that we can trust science and philosophy is meant to support the proposition that God props up existence in this moment, which doesn't seem to make sense unless one or both fields have provided for us solid evidence that we can make strong statements like this. So are you limiting this solid evidence to the theological propositions you just named (about the attributes of God), or are there other domains of philosophy that have shown us success that should give us confidence in making statements about how existence is propped up?

No. I was clear how I used those philosophical (not theological) arguments; each one points to a different property of God that we can know through reason.

My point in clause 2 is that a rejection of the PSR is a rejection of the validity of science and philosophy, because they both rest upon the PSR. 
« Last Edit: July 23, 2022, 05:38:02 AM by JoshuaD »

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #266 on: July 23, 2022, 09:54:07 AM »
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If the property is extrinsic to the thing, then (pursuant to the PSR) the property's existence requires an explanation.
And a perfectly fine explanation, per the PSR, is "that's the way matter works, for some perfectly good reason we don't know." It's not a "brute fact." Note that this is actually how we have observed matter (and energy) to behave. We don't know what causes cancer, but asserting the existence of cancer doesn't violate the PSR, either. Lots of physicists have suggested all kinds of reasons why, in practice, matter and energy are preserved; it is an entire field of study.

Let me again emphasize this point: we know that things do not spontaneously stop existing. This directly assaults the entire need for an "uncaused cause," as the whole point of an unbroken chain of causation was that, in a universe where things stop existing and by and large only arise from other things, it would be unlikely for things to be observed to exist unless some existing thing persisted. Absent the need to explain how to deal with non-existence -- and let me remind you that a strict reading of the PSR demands that things have a reason to stop existing, which you have not provided (and which contradicts observed reality) -- an uncaused cause is irrelevant.

Things, once they exist, keep existing. This is a truer law than "things stop existing." If you want to insist that it is a "brute fact" because we do not yet understand the reason for the preservation of energy (beyond the obvious mathematic implications), that's fine -- as long as we then agree that "things stop existing" is not only "brute" but in fact a "brute falsehood." ;) The whole reason "things stop existing" is included as the bedrock of one of the original Five Ways is that learned men of the time legitimately misunderstood what "things" were. Now that we know better, you actually have to assert it as an axiom that contradicts observed reality in order to then argue that the reason observed reality differs from what the axiom would suggest is a hypothetical god.

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I have avoided the science-fiction of time-travel and time-loops and farting-goats that you and Tom want to make up and then use as counterarguments because they are science fiction.
Allow me to suggest that the difference between one of these possibilities and the possibility of Aquinas' God is that one of them is science. ;)

« Last Edit: July 23, 2022, 09:59:46 AM by Tom »

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #267 on: July 23, 2022, 11:11:58 AM »
I realized I should also note that I chose the "farting goat" hypothesis because it is a) ridiculous; and b) still meets all the presented criteria for the creation of the universe without being the Christian God -- the point being, of course, that there's a huge gulf between "extraplanar reason for time progressing in this universe" and "omnipotent, omnibenevolent sapient spirit obsessed with blood sacrifice."

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #268 on: July 23, 2022, 05:15:59 PM »
Joshua,

I'll make sure I'm being clear by saying this again: your problem thoughout the argument, and in these recent rebuttals, is always the language. You keep saying I am too (I guess) modern to understand the ideas you're putting forward. But you are way too far ahead of where we're at for that to be a concern. If you want to say that a philosophical statement should be accepted by someone else, which is literally the only reason to put forward a proof, then your #1, #2, and #3 priorities should be to establish common language and communication standards with your audience or interlocutor. If someone is saying there's a disagreement about word meaning, and you insist there isn't, there is already a disagreement about word meaning! If I tell you that you are using the letters C-A-U-S-E to point in all sorts of different directions, and you tell me I just don't know what you're talking about, we have already established what the particular arena of the debate should be: to nail down the meanings of the words so that we can finally move on to discussing whether the concepts you want to outline are in fact true. But we can't even establish truth-function in non-propositions that don't even have clear semantic meanings. I pointed out in a detailed way the ways in which "cause" were used in Aristotle (which is historically the only context I'm aware of in which that word can connote definitions of structure [e.g. 'I am made up of cells therefore my cells are the cause of me']) but you seem to have ignored the specifics, re: material cause, formal cause, etc. Without such restriction on what the word "cause" means, then, yes, it's a constant equivocation scenario.

This is just one example, of which there are may here, of where language disagreement makes it difficult to get to the point where we can discuss the truth merits of a proposition. You asked me why I have a problem with PSR, and I mentioned a few issues, but perhaps primarily that I'm not even sure it's a coherent proposition. So far I have not seen any evidence that you have understood what I mean by that, because you seem to be very quick to dismiss my concern and to still insist that I should be able to pick a side and say whether I agree with it or not. But you can neither agree nor disagree with a non-proposition, something that is just a jumble of sounds with no real meaning.

I will submit, though, that in addition to the fact that we have discrepancies in word usage amongst us, there is also the issue which you did allude to earlier, that we are inevitably jumping around. For instance it's admittedly hard to keep every single point in its proper place, such as this one for instance:

Quote
Quote
Just so I'm clear, are you citing these theological propositions as being the basis of your statement in clause #2 that science and philosophy do function? Note again, my objection is that your statement that we can trust science and philosophy is meant to support the proposition that God props up existence in this moment, which doesn't seem to make sense unless one or both fields have provided for us solid evidence that we can make strong statements like this. So are you limiting this solid evidence to the theological propositions you just named (about the attributes of God), or are there other domains of philosophy that have shown us success that should give us confidence in making statements about how existence is propped up?

No. I was clear how I used those philosophical (not theological) arguments; each one points to a different property of God that we can know through reason.

It may not have been as evident as it ideally would that this comment of mine, which you replied to, was directly and solely a matter of investigating your claim on pg 1 that since science and philosophy do work that we can trust remarks made about how creation is kept afloat moment to moment. Your only defense of that claim so far was citing the different aspects of God, and I was asking whether there was more backup or whether that's it. Putting aside any further answer to this question, you thought (it would seem) that I was accusing the theological/philosophical aspects of God of being in the wrong category for our discuss (theology, rather than philosophy). But that's not actually what I asked. Again, this can perhaps be hard to track if we're dealing with different line items in random order.

I 've got to run out now, but one last word for now:

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The past doesn't exist. The past cannot be the reason why my keyboard doesn't fall. Something here in this moment must be the cause.

This may be language-related, or perhaps it's a philosophical point to debate, but my point about your resorting to chronology without intending to (I would argue you actually cannot get away from it no matter what you would try) is that even your phrase "in this moment" is most likely an incoherent phrase that doesn't point to a real thing. Nothing I'm aware of gives us the right to assert that there is a such thing as a "moment" (a slice in time that's neither future nor past), nor that we can specify something can be immediate without being a part of the past. Just by thinking something you are already referencing something already behind you. There is no 'now' now, to coin a phrase. I guess that would put Dark Helmet in a difficult position. And nothing I'm aware of in physics permits for talking about zero-time moments. Everything in nature seems to operate on finite lag. I hope you can see why this makes it a problem to claim that any scenario can be divorced from chronology.

Ephrem Moseley

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #269 on: July 23, 2022, 05:41:34 PM »
Hi. I know that (the Abrahamic) God exists. Anyone else?

wmLambert

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #270 on: July 23, 2022, 08:56:18 PM »
Joshua, way back in your initial post you made two statements:
Quote
1. The universe exists and is intelligible. That is to say, things exist and we can see that there are reasons for why things exist. Things don't pop in and out of existence for no reason.

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

I'm not sure in the following pages whether you addressed this any better, but until Judaism and Christianity arrived, the entire world assumed the existence of God or gods, who were outside the need of consistency. They were not restrained by any physical laws of the universe and seemed to behave idiosyncratically. They could do whatever amused them, and Mankind had to just accept the results without understanding why or how occurrences happened as they did. The God of Moses was one of the first to be patriarchal - as most godheads were all matriarchal based on creating life. It took Christianity to establish a religion in which there were understandable physical laws f the universe, created in a way in which Mankind could study them and learn how they worked, in order to better understand Creation and revere the maker.

As far as we have grown, that basic dichotomy is still the basis of modern belief. It is confusing to see so many different things that could not have evolved independently which can only exist synergistically with other things. Most Biblical scholars believe the evolution of species is a one-dimensional genetic winnowing, in which all possible evolutionary goals must already be in the original genome, and evolution comes from positing one genetic trait and losing others. Nothing new under the sun, just latent genetics coming to the fore. Time, energy, and all physicality exist in the same equation.neh?

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #271 on: July 23, 2022, 09:42:50 PM »
I just wanted to throw in once more than I'm trying to gang up on you, Joshua, if it may appear to be the case. I'm not joining up with Tom to oppose arguments for God, or anything like that. As you know I agree with some of your views on the cause of all things, and so all of my objections above need to be understood as me going after a particular line of argument, not against your core beliefs. I hope that distinction is clear :)

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #272 on: July 23, 2022, 11:24:21 PM »
Err, that's a bad typo (Ornerymod can edit it and delete this post if that's simpler). I'm *NOT* trying to gang up on you.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #273 on: July 24, 2022, 12:00:58 AM »
Hahaha, by total coincidence (I hope) the top suggested video for me on Youtube just now was this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwzN5YwMzv0&ab_channel=SabineHossenfelder

Check it out if you want to see how mired in difficulty the word "now" is, purely on a mechanical level. But it's worse! Assuming you've watched the video before reading on, you may find a few issues with Einstein's assumptions in how he defines "now", one of which should be obvious given what I just mentioned above: how can you establish "now" using mirrors and photons without making observations about the activity of those photons...in time? Einstein describes the thought experiment in such a way as to act as a zero-time-lag moment where the impact and calculation are instantaneous, but since by definition of relativity nothing is instantaneous he actually presupposes assumption #5, that there is a such thing as a a 'moment' (see where I'm going with this?) where you can determine "now" to be. And I'll remind you that it's theoretically difficult enough to define "now" even on a freeze-framed graph in a thought experiment, no less to assert that it in fact exists and can be examined as being a 'frame' in which something like electromagnetism (e.g. that force which keeps the laptop on the table) can be 'in operation'. Another problem with the thought experiment, just to name one more, is that Einstein is defining "now" in a manner that is not entirely useful philosophically speaking. It ends up being a sort of reference point establishing a nexus point between separate locations, which treats time more like a physical dimension that can be bisected than as a moment in which 'the present' occurs, phenomenologically speaking. That's in keeping with relativity, but it ends up being a mathematical treatment rather than an answer about whether we can ever speak of anything other than past or future from our vantage point.

Just so I don't sound dismissive about all this, I think "is there such a thing as now" would be a cool paper topic, either in philosophy or physics. But it's a really non-trivial matter, which is why we must be cautious about throwing supposedly self-evident statements about reality around.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #274 on: July 24, 2022, 02:41:09 AM »
I just wanted to throw in once more than I'm trying to gang up on you, Joshua, if it may appear to be the case. I'm not joining up with Tom to oppose arguments for God, or anything like that. As you know I agree with some of your views on the cause of all things, and so all of my objections above need to be understood as me going after a particular line of argument, not against your core beliefs. I hope that distinction is clear :)

I don't mind the gang-up aspect. I'm responding at a pace I'm comfortable with and you guys don't seem to mind the delays, so it's fine.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #275 on: July 24, 2022, 03:06:32 AM »
Quote from: Fenring
I'll make sure I'm being clear by saying this again: your problem thoughout the argument, and in these recent rebuttals, is always the language. You keep saying I am too (I guess) modern to understand the ideas you're putting forward.

No, I think you basically understand the argument I made on the first page. I don't think you're too modern to understand it, I just think you're lost in non-essential details. It's not that the little details don't matter, it's that they aren't terribly interesting to the argument.

You should spend time thinking about the Principle of Sufficient Reason and whether you believe it holds true. If you don't, you should spend time with the consequnces of that belief. If you ultimately conclude that it holds true, then we can talk about any other place you think the argument on page one fails.

Quote from: Fenring
If you want to say that a philosophical statement should be accepted by someone else, which is literally the only reason to put forward a proof, then your #1, #2, and #3 priorities should be to establish common language and communication standards with your audience or interlocutor.

I disagree. I have no interest in inventing a new vocabulary with each person I meet, creating my own little version of the tower of babel. If I meet a quantum physicist, I don't expect him to make up an entire new vocabulary to meet me half way. If I want to understand his ideas, I'll learn his vocabulary.

I have no problem explaning what I mean by any word I use. I'm not interested in changing the long-standing language of the philosophers I learned from to suit your preferences.

Quote from: Fenring
If someone is saying there's a disagreement about word meaning, and you insist there isn't, there is already a disagreement about word meaning!

What? I'm not insisting that you and I don't disagree. I'm just saying you're wrong and I'm right.

Quote from: Fenring
If I tell you that you are using the letters C-A-U-S-E to point in all sorts of different directions, and you tell me I just don't know what you're talking about, we have already established what the particular arena of the debate should be: to nail down the meanings of the words so that we can finally move on to discussing whether the concepts you want to outline are in fact true.

I have used the word cause in this thread as a synonym for the word reason, in the context of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. If there is a particular time I used it that you find confusing (i.e. you don't understand my meaning) ping it, and I'll be glad to clarify.

Quote from: Fenring
I pointed out in a detailed way the ways in which "cause" were used in Aristotle (which is historically the only context I'm aware of in which that word can connote definitions of structure [e.g. 'I am made up of cells therefore my cells are the cause of me']) but you seem to have ignored the specifics, re: material cause, formal cause, etc. Without such restriction on what the word "cause" means, then, yes, it's a constant equivocation scenario.

If I ask the question "Why does my keyboard not fall to the floor?" a fine answer is "because of the desk". be-cause. For the reason that.  The desk is the cause of my keyboard staying aloft. The desk is the reason for my keyboard staying aloft.

I like Aristotle's four causes and I think it's a fine thing, but I'm not really invoking it here. It's a really simple thing to say: My desk is the reason my keyboard doesn't fall to the ground.

Quote from: Fenring
This is just one example, of which there are may here, of where language disagreement makes it difficult to get to the point where we can discuss the truth merits of a proposition.

May I suggest that instead of getting me to speak a different way, just ask me what I mean and I will tell you. If you think I am doing a equivocation sleight-of-hand, point at it and we'll talk about it. While I didn't agree with your point when you made that a few posts back, I thought it was a worthwhile question and I didn't mind responding to it.

All of the rest of this is pretty noisy and value-less to me. If you don't understand what I mean with something I said, ask me, and I'll try to clarify. Please stop writing paragraph after paragraph about how generally hard language is; it might be hard, but dragging the philosophy of language into the question isn't going to make it any easier.

If you are confused by my words, ask me what I mean. It's simple friend.

Quote from: Fenring
You asked me why I have a problem with PSR, and I mentioned a few issues, but perhaps primarily that I'm not even sure it's a coherent proposition. So far I have not seen any evidence that you have understood what I mean by that, because you seem to be very quick to dismiss my concern and to still insist that I should be able to pick a side and say whether I agree with it or not. But you can neither agree nor disagree with a non-proposition, something that is just a jumble of sounds with no real meaning.

I understood your point in concept and I don't see any reason to think that's a valid criticism of the principle of sufficient reason, so I encouraged you to go gather your thoughts on the topic and make your argument in clear and specific objections. I can't respond to "well, I think maybe that's not a coherent statement". It looks perfectly coherent to me. Why does it look incoherent to you?

Quote from: Fenring
matter what you would try) is that even your phrase "in this moment" is most likely an incoherent phrase that doesn't point to a real thing

No, it points to a real thing. Now exists. I'm here, right now. I'm typing these words, right now. If you'd like to say otherwise, say it with some conviction and with clear arguments, not a vague appeal to who knows what. Give me a concrete reason to entertain your idea and I'll do so. Saying "probably" doesn't mean anything at all. 



JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #276 on: July 24, 2022, 03:12:05 AM »
I realized I should also note that I chose the "farting goat" hypothesis because it is a) ridiculous; and b) still meets all the presented criteria for the creation of the universe without being the Christian God -- the point being, of course, that there's a huge gulf between "extraplanar reason for time progressing in this universe" and "omnipotent, omnibenevolent sapient spirit obsessed with blood sacrifice."

For about the tenth time, it does not satisfy the presented criteria. The arguments for the existence of God start with our immediate experiences and some basic philosophical principles (such as the principle of sufficient reason) and point at something which necessarily exists, something which possesses no potential, something which is perfectly simple, and so on.

Your goat does not satisfy those characteristics. Your goat may very well have farted out our Universe in some multiverse scheme, it is just some uninteresting intermediate cause; it cannot be the most fundamental cause because it does not satisfy those characteristics, as you've openly acknowledged.

You're really not getting the argument. There may be worthwhile responses to what I'm saying; talking about some made up intermediary cause is not one of those worthwhile responses.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #277 on: July 24, 2022, 03:34:30 AM »
Quote
If the property is extrinsic to the thing, then (pursuant to the PSR) the property's existence requires an explanation.
And a perfectly fine explanation, per the PSR, is "that's the way matter works, for some perfectly good reason we don't know." It's not a "brute fact."

If you're saying the property is extrinsic to the object and is not the ultimate cause of the persistence of the object, then you've defanged your property of persistence such that it no longer attempts to refute my argument.

Let me again emphasize this point: we know that things do not spontaneously stop existing. This directly assaults the entire need for an "uncaused cause," as the whole point of an unbroken chain of causation was that, in a universe where things stop existing and by and large only arise from other things, it would be unlikely for things to be observed to exist unless some existing thing persisted.

Just because we observe that a particular thing is constantly true doesn't mean it ceases to require an explanation. Your entire premise here is deeply flawed.

Quote from: Tom
Absent the need to explain how to deal with non-existence -- and let me remind you that a strict reading of the PSR demands that things have a reason to stop existing, which you have not provided (and which contradicts observed reality) -- an uncaused cause is irrelevant.

Non-existence doesn't exist and doesn't require an explanation in the same way that existence does. They are not co-equal in opposition; one is existence, the other is the absence of the former.  We don't need to explain why a room is dark other than to show that there is no light in it. Light has existence; darkness does not. We need to explain light, we don't need to explain darkness in the same way.

Quote from: Tom
Things, once they exist, keep existing. This is a truer law than "things stop existing." If you want to insist that it is a "brute fact" because we do not yet understand the reason for the preservation of energy (beyond the obvious mathematic implications), that's fine -- as long as we then agree that "things stop existing" is not only "brute" but in fact a "brute falsehood." ;)

I'm not asserting that the limits of science are brute facts; I think we can and do know plenty beyond what science has mapped. I'm saying that if your philosophy stop at the limits of science, you are asserting the limits of science as brute facts. We don't need to be able to map all of the great unknown to know some features about it. I know metaphysics gives you an emotional reaction, but that's not a good reason to dismiss our ability to reason beyond our ability to observe.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #278 on: July 24, 2022, 10:35:53 AM »
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it is just some uninteresting intermediate cause; it cannot be the most fundamental cause
In a truly multiversal model, no fundamental cause -- as you're defining it -- is logically necessary. Time itself is non-observable in that framework. This means that any requirements you're asserting are a priori, not actually based on observation.

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Just because we observe that a particular thing is constantly true doesn't mean it ceases to require an explanation.
Nor did I say there was not an explanation. As I noted before, we genuinely don't know what causes all forms of cancer. And yet we do not assert that cancer cannot exist.

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Non-existence doesn't exist and doesn't require an explanation in the same way that existence does.
Says you. Whereas I say that once an object exists, the change of state to non-existence is an event just like any other event handled by the PSR.

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We don't need to explain why a room is dark other than to show that there is no light in it.
But if a room is lit, and then ceases to be lit, there must be a reason.

JoshuaD

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #279 on: July 25, 2022, 02:19:29 AM »
Quote from: JoshuaD
it is just some uninteresting intermediate cause; it cannot be the most fundamental cause
In a truly multiversal model, no fundamental cause -- as you're defining it -- is logically necessary. Time itself is non-observable in that framework. This means that any requirements you're asserting are a priori, not actually based on observation.

1. For about the twentieth time, I am not making an appeal to an historical cause. I have no problem with those arguments and I think they hold, but I chose to use the hierarchical one I presented on page 1, which is still standing. Your best attempt to refute my actual argument was asserting a property of persistence, but I've offered my counterargument to that idea which I believe is fatal, and in your attempt to respond two posts ago you neutered your argument to the point where it no longer tries to refute mine.

2. Either the principle of sufficient reason holds or it doesn't. Either things happen for reasons or they don't. If they do, then that implies the existence of something which necessarily exists, no matter what intermediate causes you imagine between here and there.

If you'd like to explain why some multiversal model you've imagined circumvents the line of reasoning I've presented on page one, I'm listening. If you could construct such a thing that was not nonsense (even if it were completely made up) it would be a fine response to my point. Indicating that time may not work the same way in that system isn't a refutation of my ideas; you can talk about time loops, you can talk about whatever you want, all of it needs to happen for reasons, and if it does, that implies a fundamental reason.

Ultimately, if you accept that things happen for reasons, you're going to have to say there is a most fundamental reason, which contains in itself its own reason. It's unavoidable. You can abandon the PSR if you'd like, but then you're off in some pretty dark waters that I don't think you want to be in.

So, if you think you can articulate a multiversal model that retains the PSR but refutes my argument, go ahead and outline it. It would be a fine point, but I don't think it is possible. Thus far, every time you have attempted to refute my argument you have either made a brute stop at some intermediate cause or suggested that wacky time travel would undermine the PSR when it would not.

Quote from: JoshuaD
Just because we observe that a particular thing is constantly true doesn't mean it ceases to require an explanation.
Nor did I say there was not an explanation. As I noted before, we genuinely don't know what causes all forms of cancer. And yet we do not assert that cancer cannot exist.

This again misunderstands my arguments, and again ignores my prior response (responses?) to this point: I am not saying that we must map every cause in order to satisfy the PSR, only that things must happen for reasons. The reasons can be mysteries, but we can know that they are there.

To use your analogy: we might not know all of the reasons why cancer happens, but we believe that it happens for reasons. It isn't just spontaneously popping into people's bodies with no reason whatsoever. Maybe those reasons are too subtle for us to understand o currently; if so, that's not at all important. It's only important that we live in an intelligible universe, that things happen due to reasons.

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Non-existence doesn't exist and doesn't require an explanation in the same way that existence does.
Says you. Whereas I say that once an object exists, the change of state to non-existence is an event just like any other event handled by the PSR.

No, reasons says this. Existence and non-existence aren't the same and non-existence doesn't require explanation in the same way that existence does.  Again, you misunderstand me and respond to something you've made up, not what I've said.

There are reasons why things cease to exist, I haven't rejected that. If I turn off the lights, there is a reason the room went dark: I stopped the flow of light into the room.

My point is that darkness does not require further explanation in the same way that light does. Darkness isn't a substance which must be explained, it is simply the absence of light.  Light is a substance and its existence requires further explanation. Darkness is explained fully by simply saying "there is no light".

It is the same with existence and non-existence. If something exists we must explain that fully. If something doesn't exist, it doesn't require any further explanation because there is nothing to explain.

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We don't need to explain why a room is dark other than to show that there is no light in it.
But if a room is lit, and then ceases to be lit, there must be a reason.

Sort of. The reason a room is full of light is that something is constantly flooding it with light particles. The reason a room goes dark is simply that that process of flooding stopped. Nothing actively created darkness; darkness is just the absence of light. The analogy holds very well in relation to my argument on page one.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #280 on: July 25, 2022, 09:37:50 AM »
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in your attempt to respond two posts ago you neutered your argument to the point where it no longer tries to refute mine
No, it doesn't. Sweep away the metaphysical claptrap that's befuddling you and work with this statement: "things exist until they are caused to not exist."

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all of it needs to happen for reasons, and if it does, that implies a fundamental reason
No. The issue here is that a "fundamental reason" is only necessary if you're dealing with a chain of causation. You seem to think that the PSR mandates the existence of an uncaused cause, but appear ignorant of the arguments against that conclusion that have been presented over the last two hundred years.

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Maybe those reasons are too subtle for us to understand o currently; if so, that's not at all important. It's only important that we live in an intelligible universe, that things happen due to reasons.
Sure. And for reasons you don't understand, things that exist continue to exist. Because that's how things work, because that's how matter works. Once a universe existed with matter in it, physical laws inherent to both the universe and to matter ensured that matter which exists continues to exist. This does not require a metaphysical "cause;" it merely requires that we accept that things can have properties.

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Existence and non-existence aren't the same and non-existence doesn't require explanation in the same way that existence does.
Nope. You keep saying this, but you're wrong. If a room is dark, that is because there are no visible electrons bouncing around the room. That happens for a reason, in much the same way that when a room is not dark, there's a reason electrons are bouncing around a room. Remember, the question here isn't "why did this thing stop existing;" you keep insisting that you're not just talking about FIRST causes. The question is "why does this thing KEEP existing" -- and, as you've conceded, a thing needs a reason to stop existing.



rightleft22

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #281 on: July 25, 2022, 10:01:55 AM »
Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it - Terry Pratchett
How would one measure the speed of darkness? And if measured would they find G_d :)

But I digress

Much is over my head but have been enjoying the dialog

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #282 on: July 25, 2022, 12:04:37 PM »
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Remember, the question here isn't "why did this thing stop existing"
Just a quick correction: the question isn't "why did this thing start existing."
I really hate the edit window. :)

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #283 on: July 25, 2022, 12:13:09 PM »
Nope. You keep saying this, but you're wrong. If a room is dark, that is because there are no visible electrons bouncing around the room. That happens for a reason, in much the same way that when a room is not dark, there's a reason electrons are bouncing around a room.

This is the problem with analogies, and largely a problem with ancient argumentation: they don't tend to apply because things rarely map 1:1. The difference between non-existence and existence isn't equivocal to that between light and darkness, and therefore conclusions drawn about a dark room won't apply to a non-existent universe. As Tom points out, a room can be dark because there are obstructions not allowing light in. It's what we might call an open system masquerading as a closed system. The light is outside, let's say, and walls that block EM radiation stop it entering. There's a structure in play. What's more, the room is not totally dark vis a vis EM radiation, just to visible light. There is still background radiation, excitation in the molecules, etc etc. But in the case of non-existence, whatever that might be, we cannot posit an 'outside' to this, or an obstruction blocking existence from 'getting in'. There is just nothing. And we can't even ask in what the nothing is contained; in fact we can't even really conceive of nothing or what it's like (or not like!). So the analogy fails on so many levels that all it will do is confuse. That's not a slam on this particular analogy, but more on the difficulty of generating an analogy that works.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #284 on: July 25, 2022, 12:20:38 PM »
To be fair, it's possible that Joshua is positing something like an "existence beam" made up of, say, existitrons, which radiates out from God (or all discrete points, if God is omnipresent), and only those things recently struck by existitrons can be said to exist.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #285 on: July 25, 2022, 12:24:05 PM »
To be fair, it's possible that Joshua is positing something like an "existence beam" made up of, say, existitrons, which radiates out from God (or all discrete points, if God is omnipresent), and only those things recently struck by existitrons can be said to exist.

I won't speak for him, but existence as divine emanation is more of a Gnostic idea.

Tom

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #286 on: July 25, 2022, 12:35:24 PM »
Full disclosure: I AM a little interested in some of the underlying physics of this, because there are some hints in the underlying mathematics that suggest that time may not in fact exist as discrete units, and moreover that the "past" and "future" might be assemblages of multiple pasts and futures where the membranes of what we consider "time" intersect with the portion we consider the "present." In that sense, I do find the question of why we appear to perceive time sequentially -- and, thus, why anything might be said to persist from one moment to the next when it's not actually possible to prove the existence of moments at all -- to be an interesting one. We clearly think of events in terms of "moments," and on a human scale we can define "moments" with a great deal of specificity -- down to the predictable, observed vibration of individual atoms, even -- but that starts breaking down on very large (interstellar) and very small (subatomic) scales. But that's not the sort of "persistence" that's interesting to Joshua, unfortunately.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #287 on: July 25, 2022, 12:53:15 PM »
Full disclosure for me, then: I actually think that both the present and the past are not objectively fixed on an absolute scale (some parts are, some are not), and the the future has very open-ended possibilities that depend on 'un-anchored' elements in the present and past. I have my reasons for thinking this, not easy to go into here. But that would make the 'present' some kind of bridge between unselected reality in both past and future. Sort of like a clearinghouse for parts of the puzzle getting solved or set in place. I'm sort of riffing a bit off Frank Herbert in where I started thinking on these lines, but my current guess would be something like that the 'present' is a past-present-future meeting place where the three are tied together and interrelated, and where you can't disentangle 'now' from 'just now' and 'just then'. I expect that the uncertainty principle would have to figure into this somehow. Anyhow this is all conjecture, I wouldn't try to persuade someone of it.

Fenring

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Re: God Exists
« Reply #288 on: July 25, 2022, 04:21:59 PM »
You should spend time thinking about the Principle of Sufficient Reason and whether you believe it holds true. If you don't, you should spend time with the consequnces of that belief. If you ultimately conclude that it holds true, then we can talk about any other place you think the argument on page one fails.

I think I've addressed this point at length by this point. One of the chief problems with a priori arguments is that they rely heavily on their self-declared statements, which in turn require the word choice in the statements to make sense. Like a house of cards, if the slightest thing is out of place in an a priori argument there simply is no argument - it's not even a question of disagreement with its conclusions. But hey, I can keep listing things I find wrong with PSR if you like...I didn't want to go totally bananas on it. I'll even list an objection that covers a hidden premise you've been using, namely that PSR is the only possible proposition allowing for causal logic in the universe. Here's an alternative:

There are reasons for all things, and these reasons may include connections and causes that are beyond our ability to understand. So while we can posit that they exist, we cannot form causal conclusions about them since our conception of cause may not align with how they really are.

So this variation might be called Agnostic-PSR, wherein we take it on faith that everything has a reason, but do not take it on faith that we can make positive statements about this.

And there's Tom's variation, where the farting goat creates reality and imbues it with the property wherein persistence is baked in without further input. That the farting goat vanishes subsequently was probably an unnecessary addition on Tom's part for the point to be made. This is the 'God setting everything in motion permanently' scenario which is oft mentioned. So here there would also be reasons for everything, but our ability to backtrace them would be cut off since there would not be any active connectivity between the original reason and the current setup.

Quote from: Fenring
If you want to say that a philosophical statement should be accepted by someone else, which is literally the only reason to put forward a proof, then your #1, #2, and #3 priorities should be to establish common language and communication standards with your audience or interlocutor.

I disagree.[/quote]

You disagree that the primary objective in communication should be to communicate?

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I have no interest in inventing a new vocabulary with each person I meet, creating my own little version of the tower of babel. If I meet a quantum physicist, I don't expect him to make up an entire new vocabulary to meet me half way. If I want to understand his ideas, I'll learn his vocabulary.

And if you think his vocabulary containts internal inconsistencies, you'll use his vocabulary anyhow without objection? It doesn't matter who in fact makes up the vocabulary; this isn't a question of who has the burden of coming up with the word choice. This is about the words being used having the same meaning in the minds of both participants, however that should come to pass.

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Quote from: Fenring
If someone is saying there's a disagreement about word meaning, and you insist there isn't, there is already a disagreement about word meaning!

What? I'm not insisting that you and I don't disagree. I'm just saying you're wrong and I'm right.

It doesn't matter who's wrong and right. What matters is that if we're stuck on a word's connotations then we can't proceed with things built upon the word until we agree the word's meaning is both coherent and consistent.

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I have used the word cause in this thread as a synonym for the word reason, in the context of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. If there is a particular time I used it that you find confusing (i.e. you don't understand my meaning) ping it, and I'll be glad to clarify.

Yes but PSR does certain things within its parameters, and not other things. And in fact you have never really defined whether your use of it is entirely a priori, or employs a posteriori elements. I'm not sure if there's an authoritative understanding of this, but I suspect that historic uses of PSR were entirely a priori, meaning PSR was posited as a justification for making an a priori argument about first causes and such. Why can I say I know that God must be behind all things? The answer is I posit that my intellect and its logic are sufficient to think about it and come to a conclusion that is truth. So PSR ends up standing in as a permission (or an excuse) to posit these thought experiments (like first mover, like argument by necessity, etc) and say that they must make sense. I do not believe these uses of it would have claimed to have induced or derived PSR based on empirical results being consistent over time and therefore suggesting we can rely on our intellects for thought experiments. In fact the one would probably not imply the other anyhow. Your argument on pg 1, however, seems to be to use a posteriori information in its structure, and (as I've argued) unintentionally employs chronology. But realistically, would you agree that your argument is essentially completely a priori?

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If I ask the question "Why does my keyboard not fall to the floor?" a fine answer is "because of the desk". be-cause. For the reason that.  The desk is the cause of my keyboard staying aloft. The desk is the reason for my keyboard staying aloft.

I like Aristotle's four causes and I think it's a fine thing, but I'm not really invoking it here. It's a really simple thing to say: My desk is the reason my keyboard doesn't fall to the ground.

It's a fine answer if you're being informal, and it also employs physical laws which operate in time. I already said you didn't bring up Aristotle; what I could have added is that you should, because the reason he divided things up into four causes was precisely to avoid mixing up what one means with a word like "cause". I don't like his divisions, but at least they acknowledge that you can't just lump reasons from different categories all together and use the word interchangeably.

-The desk is the cause of the keyboard staying above the floor.
-The atoms in my body cause me to exist.
-Matter persists because God causes it to persist.

The only thing these have in common is that you are offering explanations of things. But an explanation is an idea or a model, not a thing or an event. An explanation can be about an identity, for instance: 1+1=2. That's an explanation, but it's not something that exists and causes effects in anything. Now you could use an awkward phrase like "1+1=2 is the cause of number theory" but that would be beyond awkward; it would not only fail to communicate anything but essentially puts us backward in understanding anything since we have to untangle a bad first step. It might be ok to say "1+1=2 is a necessary element of number theory" (let's say), but the word choice matters a lot in what you're saying. If the only commonality to "cause" in your usage is you're offering explanatory logic to something, it can mean basically anything, even made up things. And like I said it's such an awkward use of the word that it would better to employ an extant set of language (Aristotle's, just as an example) than to re-write English and use a word in a way where defining to your audience how you're using it requires a larger explanation than the proof you're presenting with it in the first place!

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If you are confused by my words, ask me what I mean. It's simple friend.

That's my point, it's not simple. What you call a simple answer to a question of word meaning is actually an enormous rabbit hole where you are actually asserting all sorts of unannounced axioms to support that definition.

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It looks perfectly coherent to me. Why does it look incoherent to you?

As I've mentioned, phrases such as "we can see that there are reasons for why things exists", "external cause", and "the nature of the thing itself" are deeply problematic for multiple reasons. Language clarity is one such reason. Another is terms that are made to sound self-evident but which I think are not; in fact as I've mentioned I suspect their content is not coherent. Another is the fact of making an essentially a priori argument but using obervational data as support for it.

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Now exists. I'm here, right now. I'm typing these words, right now. If you'd like to say otherwise, say it with some conviction and with clear arguments, not a vague appeal to who knows what. Give me a concrete reason to entertain your idea and I'll do so. Saying "probably" doesn't mean anything at all.

Lack of ability to say "probably" about complex topics is...probably a serious problem. That being said, I'm 100% sure you didn't understand why I wrote that, based on this response. Obviously you feel like there's a 'now'. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about whether there is in fact[ such a thing as "now" in the formal sense, in the sense that you can freeze time and describe some kind of hierarchical structure in a moment without any reference to before or after. You think you can do that, exemplified by your description of the keyboard and desk, but I think you are missing what I said earlier about EM repulsion happening in time only. It is not an instantaneous or static effect. There's no such thing as "EM repulsion right now", there is only EM repulsion measured over time. This isn't just an artifact of inefficient measurement, any more than relativity is a reflection of bad time-measurement instrumentation. It's your insistance that you are not talking about chronology that I'm after here (which by the way is part of why I'm pretty sure this is a purely a priori argument). I'm saying the way you keep conceptualizing cause is in fact chronological, which is by the way ok, I think that is also how the original prime mover type arguments were also understood (i.e. to involve causes in time, not instananeous hierarchical structure).

Sorry for any typos, I don't have time to edit, gotta run!