Saturday, March 24, 2012

Swinburne's case for God

Here.

73 comments:

Cole said...

The problem here is that if you read the Christian apologists themselves you will see that they are in disagreement about the strength of the evidence. Check out Michael J. Murray and Rae's "Philosophy Of Religion" where they dismantle the Cosmological Arguments for God. I have my own reasons for rejecting the arguments for God. Even William Dembski states in his published works and on his blog that I.D. doesn't force one to believe in God:

"First, a basic fact: while many intelligent design proponents believe in a Creator (which is their world-view right), not all do. Some hold that some immanent principle or law in nature could design the universe. That is: to believe in intelligent design is not necessarily to believe in a transcendent creative being."

I take the fine-tuning and design of the universe to be real. This doesn't mean that God did it though. He would be insane to have designed such a machine because of the huge amount of animal and human suffering. What kind of a being would design a machine where children get their faces burned off as their eyeballs melt out of their head? If God wanted to bring these children into heaven clearly He could be a gentleman and go about it in a more humane way. All He would have to do is send some chariots down from heaven and escort the children up into heaven. No, He has to be insane and design things where they get their faces melted off. This is one of the reasons why I hold to the position that some immanent principle or law within the universe gives rise to it's fine-tuning and design. This is the position of the "Directed Evolutionary Biologist" Michael Denton.

The other reason I reject the design argument for God is that it assumes the Cosmological Argument. In other words if the Cosmological Argument goes then so does the design argumet. There is a principle that seems to be intuitively obvious about causality. With this principle we can turn the Cosmological Argument around and show there is no Transcendent Personal Creator:

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

In other words causality is a temporal concept. This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. So, we are justified in accepting it. If there is no space-time there is no causality. Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a First Cause. God didn't create the universe.That is, the objects that we are familiar with that begin to exist are within space-time, with causes that are within space-time. We have no experience or examples of timeless causation. The idea of a non-temporal person making choices requires a sequence of events which requires time showing that a timeless personal being is incoherent. Moreover, since space-time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a Personal First Cause.

One of the craziest doctrines to come out of Christianity is that of Penal Substitution. One of the things it teaches is that God the Father was sacrificing His only Son on the cross for His blood so that He could cover our sins and forgive them. It is said that the O.T. sacrifices were types and shadows of this bloody sacrifice, in particular when God told Abraham to sacrifice His only son. The only difference is that there was no one there to stop Father God from sacrificing Christ. I just don't understand why God requires blood to cover our sins in order to forgive. If it was only death God was after then He could have killed the innocent Christ without all that torture and blood. Nope, it was both death and blood that God the Father wanted. What in the hell does innocent blood have to do with forgiving someone for their sins? Only a madman would require such a thing.

Gregory said...

Moreover, since space-time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a Personal First Cause.

The theist is going to say that there couldn't be an impersonal "first cause" because the universe contains all the "impersonal" type of causes there could be. But, the universe couldn't be "uncaused" since it is clearly an effect. So the universe had to have a "personal" first cause because a Person stands outside the space-time matrix....and that they call "God".

Speaking of which....was Cole "caused" to write what he did? Was some known "law of nature" the source of his argument? Is some "law of nature" the source of my belief in God?

If the answer is "yes", then there is no debate. The "laws of nature" decree our disagreement. End of story.

Cole said...

Gregory,

That's why I laid down this principle:

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

In other words causality is a temporal concept. This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. So, we are justified in accepting it. If there is no space-time there is no causality. Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a First Cause. Moreover, the idea of a non-temporal person making choices requires a sequence of events which requires time showing that a timeless personal being is incoherent.

BenYachov said...

>X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

The “Cosmogonical Fallacy.” Those who are worried about conflict between faith and reason on this issue fail to distinguish between cause in the sense of a natural change of some kind and cause in the sense of an ultimate bringing into being of something from no antecedent state whatsoever. “Creatio non est mutatio,” says Thomas, affirming that the act of creation is not some species of change. So, the Greek natural philosophers were quite correct: from nothing, nothing comes.

By “comes” here is meant a change from one state to another and this requires some underlying material reality, some potentiality for the new state to come into being. This is because all change arises out of a pre-existing possibility for that change residing in something.

Creation, on the other hand, is the radical causing of the whole existence of whatever exists.

From Thomas Aquinas vs. The Intelligent Designers

http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/calhoun/socratic/tkacz_aquinasvsid.html

>This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation.

But what does it have to do with the causing of the whole existence of whatever exists?

>Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a Transcendent First Cause.

Well yes there couldn't have been an efficient cause by a material agent naturally.

But God is not a material agent who is the efficient cause of the universe.

A Transcendent First Cause would by definition be beyond space and time & could not coherently be limited by space and Time.

It's like saying a bird is swimming very badly while he is flying in the sky.

Also if God is Purely Actual then time is not needed for him to radically cause the whole existence of whatever exists.

You really don't understand the difference between a philosophical argument vs an empirical scientific one?

Do you? By your own admission Aristotle confuses you yet you still feel the need to argue over things that confuses you & you never bothered to learn.

How is that rational?

BenYachov said...

>Moreover, the idea of a non-temporal person making choices requires a sequence of events which requires time showing that a timeless personal being is incoherent.

Only if you equivocated between Humans persons and God. God is not unequivocally compared to a human person.

The will of human Persons need to go from potency to actuality.

But God is already Purely Actual & since He is Absolutely Simple his nature is identical with his Artibutes thus his Will is Purely Actual thus he doesn't required Time to go from potency to actuality to will since his will is already actual.

I tried to explain this & point to links that explained it better but Cole insists Paley's Theistic Persoinalist God is the only God anyone has ever believed in.

But he has with this argument made the case a Material Deity could not have created the Cosmos.

Big deal.

Cole said...

Ben,

The principle isn't speaking of two different kinds of causes. It applies to all forms of causality. All types of causality are temporal. Unless of course you can provide some emperical evidence of timeless causation. The principle holds because it is a coherent principle as you have not been able to show that it is self-refuting. And to say that God has a will but is not a person is also incoherent.

BenYachov said...

Cole you are not rational. Even if it turns out you guessed right & no gods exist.

>All types of causality are temporal.

This is mere Ad Hoc assertion. It is neither a philosophical argument nor is it empirically demonstrated. All types of material causality are temporal that is true but this premise itself assumes the material is the only reality. Which of course can’t be proven even empirically. Your Scientism fallacy is big time here. Not to mention begging the question.

>Unless of course you can provide some emperical evidence of timeless causation.

Question begging since I reject the premise God can be proven empirically. God is proven philosophically via a posteriori rational inference not empirically.

>The principle holds because it is a coherent principle as you have not been able to show that it is self-refuting.

The statement “Do you still beat your wife?” is a coherent question & is thus coherent in principle &it cannot be shown in itself to be self-refuting. So what? The question is still a non-starter if you ask it of a lifelong bachelor. Your principle only applies to a phantom material god no religious tradition has ever believed in not even Paley.

>And to say that God has a will but is not a person is also incoherent.

Only because you don’t understand Aquinas’ doctrine of analogy or philosophy in general.

By your own admission Aristotle(& by extension Aquinas) confuses you yet you still feel the need to argue over things that confuses you & you never bothered to learn.

How is that rational?


Do you have anything other than ignoring what I wrote simply repeating yourself with your "Do your still beat your wife" type argumentative fallacies?ne

Cole said...

Ben,

We are not talking about God at first. This is something that hasn't been proven. Rather, we are talking about this principle:

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

In other words causality is a temporal concept. This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Moreover, it is a coherent principle as you still have not been able to show that it is incoherent or self-refuting. So, we are justified in accepting it. If there is no space-time there is no causality. Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a First Cause. God didn't create the universe.

You can't assume God exists and then try to set out to prove that He does. Unless you have an argument that shows the above principle that I laid down doesn't hold then we are justified in accepting it. For it is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation.

You have not shown that it is self-refuting or incoherent.

You have not given an argument proving it doesn't hold.

You have not provided any examples of timeless causation.

This is because the idea of a non-temporal person making choices requires a sequence of events which requires time showing that a timeless personal being is incoherent. To say that God is not personal but has a will is also incoherent. That makes no sense at all.

BenYachov said...

@Cole

I asked (slight paraphrase) "Do you have any other response to me other than ignoring what I wrote & simply repeating yourself with your "Do your still beat your wife" type argumentative fallacies?"

I guess the answer to that is "No I don't".

Scientism is still irrational.

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/03/1174

Part 2

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/03/1184

Cole said...

Ben,

It's not scientism just because you have no examples of timeless causation to refute the principle. Neither have you shown the principle to be self-refuting. I have shown your idea that God has a will but is not a person to be incoherent. What is He? An animal? If you have a will then you are a person. Or an animal, seeing that certain animals make choices as well.

BenYachov said...

Rinse repeat!

Such a convincing and rational form of analysis, that is for mere cheap politicians.

For logical minded people not so much.

Got love people who obstinately think "Do you still beat your wife?" is a valid question to ask & lifelong bachelor!

Then when called on it insist the inherent logical coherence in the specific question itself somehow absolves it from being subject to a category mistake.

Cole said...

Ben,

You're not making any sense and you still have not shown any logical incoherence with the principle. Until you do, we are justified in accepting it. What we are not justified in accepting is a being who has a will but is not personal. The two go hand in hand. So does the fact that without time there is no change or motion. If this being is timeless then He doesn't change. To become a man (Christ) and enter into space-time requires change and motion. Thus showing another incoherent idea. Moreover, to exit space-time back into a timeless, spaceless existence with a physical body is also incoherent. Christ would become a block of ice as He is simply frozen and imobile like an abstract object.

BenYachov said...

Cole your the one who told me you didn't want to learn or read anything about Aquinas's philosophy and view of God. You also said Aristotle confuses you.

Your words.

You keep ignoring me & repeating yourself over and over and over and over.

Yet you keep arguing about something you know nothing about. You keep insisting on asking the proverbial bachelor if he "Still beats his wife" & seem to think the logical coherence of the statement somehow immunes it from being a category mistake.

BenYachov said...

How can I make sense to you if you refuse to do any of the backround reading?

It's like a Young Earth Creationist saying "Dogs give birth to dogs! Cats to Cats & Apes to Apes! How can an Ape give birth to a human? Evolution makes no sense!".

Well it makes perfect sense if you understand biology and the natural selection mechanism & you bother to read more in your life than ANSWERS IN GENESIS.

You refuse to read any Thomism & you say Aristotle "confuses you".

How are you any better than the YEC?

Neither of you wants to learn.

Cole said...

Aristotle didn't see the connection between causality and space-time. He lived long ago before modern science. So, yes he does confuse me. What confuses me even more is how someone can believe in a being that has a will but no personality. Then this unchanging being undergoes change by taking on a personality as He enters into space-time. Then He exits space-time with a physical body and becomes immobile and unchanging again. Is this what heaven is going to be like? We are all going to exit space-time become static and unchanging picture frames for all eternity? It's nonsense.

BenYachov said...

>Aristotle didn't see the connection between causality and space-time. He lived long ago before modern science.

So did Hume, Kant, and Descarte on whom your implicit skeptical philosophy relies. Democritus' materialist philosophy is also pre-modern science.

So what I am talking philosophy not science?

But you have refused to learn so you objections to those of us in the know will always appear silly.

That's the way it is

Cole said...

We still haven't seen any logical incoherence in the principle I gave. What we are getting instead is an unchanging being with a will but no person. This unchanging being undergoes change takes on personhood and then exits space-time becoming an unchanging being with no person again. You couldn't get anymore incoherent than that.

BenYachov said...

>What confuses me even more is how someone can believe in a being that has a will but no personality.

I believe in Being Itself not a being. I believe Being Itself has a will & intellect analogously compared to a human will and intellect but not unequivocally compared as such. I don't believe God is a human person otherwise he is not God.

Cole you sound just like that YEC to me right now.

You can either A) Learn Thomism B)Not learn Thomism but concede you can't polemic it from a position of ignorance. C) Be stupid & rant against what you admit you don't understand or have learned about.

Your choice.

Cole said...

You believe in an unchanging, timeless, spacesless, being who has a will but no personhood. This being then changes, enters into space-time, takes on personhood. He then changes again by becoming unchanging, timeless, spaceless, as He exists the universe with a physical body. This incoherent.

BenYachov said...

>C) Be stupid & rant against what you admit you don't understand or have learned about.

So you have chosen C then?

You are such a disappointment.

Cole said...

I don't understand it because it is incoherent as everbody can see. What isn't incoherent is the principle I gave.

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

In other words causality is a temporal concept. This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Neither is it self-refuting or incoherent. So, we are justified in accepting it. If there is no space-time there is no causality. Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a First Cause. God didn't create the universe.

BenYachov said...

Rinse repeat!

FYI I've seen YEC say "Evolution is incoherent as everybody can see" when challenged to do some learning.

It's no more unconvincing when an Atheist does it.e

Cole said...

Until you can show the principle is logically self-refuting or incoherent then we are justified in accepting it. For it is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation.

Here is something that is incoherent though: An unchanging, timeless, spacesless, being who has a will but no personhood. This being then changes, enters into space-time, takes on personhood. He then changes again by becoming unchanging, timeless, spaceless, as He exists the universe with a physical body. He must then loose His personhood as He becomes unchanging and static like an abstract object.

Steve Lovell said...

Cole,

What exactly are you after from Ben? Do you want him to provide an empirical example of causation where the cause is atemporal?

Now I'm not entirely sure we can find such an example, but you can't both demand that Ben offer one and say it can't be done. For example, if I offer miracles as an example, what would you say? I don't think you'd go for it.

Ben is rightly saying that we can extract from the empirical cases of causation a wider principle which includes them. It's a case of the synthetic apriori I suppose ...

We can all play your game. The wider principle hasn't been shown incoherent, so we're justified in holding it.

Now that won't help much in the current dialogical situation, since we are looking at arguments for the existence of God. But the principle is eminently plausible and until people start worrying that it has theistic implications will typically accept it.

The fact, if it is one, that Ben can't persuade you to accept it doesn't mean that the Cosmological argument is useless, it just means means that you aren't especially likely to be persuaded by it.

Moreover, you seem to allow that theism is coherent. If a timeless God is coherent, and it is coherent to suppose that he created the temporal world, then whatever you call the relation between God and the world, it is reasonably called causation. If you want to call it something else, that's fine ... we're not going to argue about the words so long as you admit that it would be a wider version of the thing you call causation in the temporal realm.

Or is a timeless God not able to create a temporal world? Remember that time would be something within that world, not on the same ontic level as the Deity Himself. Now if you wanted to assert that, you'd be going well beyond the empirical!

BenYachov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BenYachov said...

Thanks Steve!

But at this point Cole has shut down his brain.

Cole said...

Steve,

Until it is shown that the principle is logically self-refuting or incoherent then we are justified in accepting it. You haven't shown that. Moreover, as I pointed out there is incoherence in Ben's God. An unchanging, timeless, spacesless, being who has a will but no personhood. This being then changes, enters into space-time, takes on personhood as Jesus Christ. He then changes again by becoming unchanging, timeless, spaceless, as He exits the universe with a physical body after the resurrection. He must then loose His personhood as He becomes unchanging and static like an abstract object. It's nonsense. The principle I hold to doesn't suffer from this type of nonsense.

BenYachov said...

At this point I think Cole is just another Paps only more emotionally weird.

But just as anti-intellectual.

Crude once compared Paps to Peggy Hill. I think Cole resembles Dale at this point.

Cole said...

Without interacting with the points I made all Ben does is name call.

BenYachov said...

>Without interacting with the points I made all Ben does is name call.

I don't interact with points my opponent made?

Chuzpah alert!

We have a knew Gnu Troll!

(say that 5 times fast!)

Gregory said...

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

William Craig's answer is that God becomes "omni-temporal" the moment He creates temporal being.

Beside, if the principle above is correct, then it would lead to the conclusion that the universe didn't exist....because there is no "temporally prior" moment before the Big Bang. Therefore, there is no "causality" and hence no universe. So either there is something invalid in the statement of the principle itself, or our experience is invalid.

Cole said...

Sorry Ben but you still haven't shown any coherence in your God. What kind of a being is it who has a will but is not a person? He then incarnates Himself and becomes a person even though He originally existed outside space- time making Him unchanging and immobile. It makes no sense.

Cole said...

Gregory,

For God to create He has to choose. The idea of a non-temporal person making choices requires a sequence of events which requires time showing that a timeless personal being is incoherent. I don't follow your second statement. Just because there wasn't a First Cause doesn't prove we don't exist. That's nonsense.

Steve Lovell said...

Or reading further down (and seeing your latest response) ... perhaps you don't allow that theism is coherent. Well in that case you need to have some better arguments for that than the ones you are offering.

To object to the cosmological argument on the grounds that it's conclusion is impossible is not the best of responses, and you'll understand why Ben and I aren't finding it very compelling. Mostly you've offered some caricatures of theism and said "but that's nonsense". We agree. It would be nonsense ... but very few (thinking) Christian's believe the things you are rejecting. Your concept of God isn't big enough.

You write: "Until it is shown that the principle is logically self-refuting or incoherent then we are justified in accepting it. You haven't shown that."

I agree, I haven't shown that, but you seem to have a very low standard of what it means to be "justified" in accepting something.

By the same standard, I'm justified in accepting that I'm seven feet tall and made mostly of cheese. It's not self-refuting or incoherent, but it's not something that recommends itself on those grounds. You say that your principle is constantly confirmed in our experience. Of course it is. So is the wider principle.

To this you'd rightly ask whether the "extra part" of that wider principle is constantly confirmed. But what would it look like if it were? Suppose I hold that mathematical abstract objects are causes of belief in certain mathematical propositions. This doesn't seem crazy. You may say it's false, but I think to any examples we suggest you'll object in the manner of Hume's objections to miracles. But these are, in VR's phrase, arguments that don't mix. You can't both demand emprical examples and rule them out in principle.

The wider causal principle isn't an empirical principle. It's a philosophical principle extracted from experience by reflection: nothing comes from nothing. Are you suggesting that that wider principle is false? That some things do come from nothing? Nothing in our experience suggests it and while it may be logically coherent, it's not something which recommends itself to my mind.

Please don't say you're not asserting "something comes from nothing" and that you're just pointing out that we haven't demonstrated it. The latter would be true, but there is a difference between what a person can assert and what they believe. I'm not sure you believe that "nothing comes from nothing" doesn't hold. The principle may be coherently denied ... but do you deny it? If you don't then the argument gets a grip on your beliefs, even if it doesn't get a grip on the abstract atheist interlocutor.

But that's only a guess, perhaps you do take the denial of the wider principle seriously ... and if you do then I guess the argument doesn't speak to you. But it doesn't follow that it's a bad argument.

To me, perhaps the most sensible thing ever written about the cosmological argument was this from G.K. Chesterton:

"[I]t is absurd for the [atheist] to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing; and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything." (Chesterton, St Thomas Aquinas, 1933)

Now I can agree that the cosmological argument isn't logically compelling, to reject it isn't to endorse a contraction, but Chesterton's point seems right to me. Out of the two options as to the way the reality might be, I think it's pretty clear which is the more "thinkable".

BenYachov said...

>It makes no sense! Aristotle Confuses me.
I don't follow your second statement. etc...

Interesting psychological profile we have here. Cole makes assertions he doesn't back up. He issues challenges but when answered professes ignorance or lack of understanding of the answer then turns around & triumphantly proclaims he hasn't been answered.

Amazing!

Sophistry 101.

BenYachov said...

@Steve

>"Until it is shown that the principle is logically self-refuting or incoherent then we are justified in accepting it. You haven't shown that."

The statement "Do you still beat your wife?" is neither in itself logically self-refuting or incoherent.

But it is a category mistake to ask this question of someone you know is a lifelong bachelor.

Why is this so hard for our boy to comprehend?

Cole said...

Steve,

My point is that the principle is not only free from incoherence but it is one that is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. The wider principle that you speak of refers to objects that we are familiar with that begin to exist within space-time as well, with causes that are within space-time. There is no conflict here with my principle and the wider principle. They support one another. For they show that causality is a temporal concept. We have no experience or examples of timeless causation. Moreover, the idea of a non-temporal person making choices requires a sequence of events which requires time showing that a timeless personal being is incoherent. Since causality is a temporal concept and space-time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a Transcendent Personal Cause.

BenYachov said...

You get that Steve?;-)

We wouldn't want Cole to repeat himself now would we?;-)

Cole said...

Ben,

The objection that the wider principle that "nothing comes from nothing" is a valid principle does nothing to refute my principle. For the wider principle refers to objects that we are familiar with that begin to exist within space-time as well, with causes that are within space-time. There is no conflict here with my principle and the wider principle. They support one another. For they show that causality is a temporal concept. We have no experience or examples of timeless causation. Moreover, the idea of a non-temporal person making choices requires a sequence of events which requires time showing that a timeless personal being is incoherent. Since causality is a temporal concept and space-time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a Transcendent Personal Cause. Get use to it.

Steve Lovell said...

Cole,

I think you need to read my last again. I've given several possible examples, and you haven't said anything in response to them (yet). I've put some words in your mouth that you've neither confirmed nor denied.

On the constant confirmation point, I've agreed, and said it applies to the wider principle too. You seem to have accepted the wider principle when you say that your version and the wider version support one another, but the whole thread has been about your rejection of such wider principles. Mine wider principle is not limited to temporal applications like yours.

When you start talking about the Christian ideas requiring time sequences before the beginning of time, you are very much out of your depth. We all are, but this is where you need to show a little more humility and/or have a bigger concept of God. You are saying these things are outright contradictions. They aren't. Thinking Christians don't think these concepts apply univocally to both God and humans. If you think there are contractions in that area, then you are following one of Kant's antinomies. He concluded that pure reason cannot be applied to metaphysical concepts. This is not all that far from the Thomist idea that univocal human thought is inadequate for such cases.

Enough for now. I need to get to bed.

BenYachov said...

The “Cosmogonical Fallacy.” Those who are worried about conflict between faith and reason on this issue fail to distinguish between cause in the sense of a natural change of some kind and cause in the sense of an ultimate bringing into being of something from no antecedent state whatsoever. “Creatio non est mutatio,” says Thomas, affirming that the act of creation is not some species of change. So, the Greek natural philosophers were quite correct: from nothing, nothing comes.

By “comes” here is meant a change from one state to another and this requires some underlying material reality, some potentiality for the new state to come into being. This is because all change arises out of a pre-existing possibility for that change residing in something.

Creation, on the other hand, is the radical causing of the whole existence of whatever exists.

From Thomas Aquinas vs. The Intelligent Designers

http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/calhoun/socratic/tkacz_aquinasvsid.html

Yours is walking talking category mistake and non-starter objection.

Get over it!

BenYachov said...

>For they show that causality is a temporal concept.

Sorry but causal change from x to y is a temporal.

Being the cause of X to simply exist is not temporal causal change.

Live with it.

Cole said...

Steve,

The examples that we are aware of that begin to exist are within space-time with causes that are within space-time. Thus your wider principle does nothing to refute the principle I gave.

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

I then pointed out that the idea of a non-temporal person making choices requires a sequence of events which requires time showing that a timeless personal being is incoherent. Your response was - No it doesn't. Well, this isn't a response. Anybody reading this can see the incoherence here that I have pointed out.

BenYachov said...

Eric w(rote on the last thread & I re-post it here) said...

"X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects."

Cole, you're confused here.

Causes "within our experience" can be said to "always have a temporal relation to their effects" because, well, our experiences take place in spacetime! You cannot go on to argue from a necessary condition of *our experiences* to a constraint on the notion of causality *as such*. Think about this now:

(1) X is a necessary condition of any experience we have of the world.

(2) We experience Y in the world.

(3) Hence, any experience of Y presupposes X.

(4) Hence, X is a necessary condition of Y.

I'm sorry, but that argument is obviously fallacious. What you must do is argue that temporal relation is a necessary condition of causation as such, and you've done nothing of the sort.

Ben is right on here.ENDQUOTE

Thanks Eric!

Cole said...

Ben,

I can hold to the principle because it is a coherent one that is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Of course our experiences take place within space-time. I'm not making any argument that you assume that I am making. The "wider" principle that nothing comes from nothing is such a principle as well. I would also add that the principle supports mine. The examples of things that begin to exist are within space-time, which have causes that are within space-time. Therefore causality is a temporal concept.

BenYachov said...

Cole is there no argument made here that you won't shamelessly ignore?

Eric said...

"The examples of things that begin to exist are within space-time, which have causes that are within space-time. Therefore causality is a temporal concept."

That doesn't follow, Cole. You're confusing *physics* with *metaphysics*. Causality is a metaphysical concept -- science must presuppose it to make use of it (just try to imagine science sans any notion of causality). Our scientific questions are in the form of, "does x cause y?" or "what is the relation between x and y?" and so on. There is no way to investigate, scientifically, the metaphysical question, "what is causation?"

Cole said...

Ben,

I never said the things you said I did. Neither did I make the argument you said I did. That's you talking. I simply stated that the principle is coherent and is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Your God, on the other hand, has a will but is not personal. You see, without time there is no change or motion. If this being is timeless then He doesn't change. To become a man (Christ) and enter into space-time requires change and motion. Thus showing another incoherent idea. Moreover, to exit space-time back into a timeless, spaceless existence with a physical body is also incoherent. Christ would become frozen and imobile like an abstract object. He would be impersonal.

BenYachov said...

Cole as Eric said.

You cannot go on to argue from a necessary condition of *our experiences* to a constraint on the notion of causality *as such*.

As I said.

Creation ex nihilo is not causal change from X to y. It's causing X to simply Be.

You argument is a non-starter & the rest of your objections are born in ignorance of the philosophy.

Cole said...

Eric,

That's besides the point. The fact remains that within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects. In other words causality is a temporal concept. This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Moreover, there is nothing incoherent or self-refuting about it. So, we are justified in accepting it. If there is no space-time there is no causality. Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a First Cause. God didn't create the universe. The "wider" principle that states "nothing comes from nothing" doesn't refute this principle. Why? Well, the objects that we are familiar with that begin to exist are within space-time, with causes that are within space-time. The principle stands firm. We have no experience or examples of timeless causation. Moreover as I have pointed out, the idea of a non-temporal person making choices requires a sequence of events which requires time showing that a timeless personal being is incoherent. Now you can continue to be irrational and believe in talking donkys or you can take the reasonable option.

BenYachov said...

>I never said the things you said I did. Neither did I make the argument you said I did.

I have made the same complain against you & Steve has made a similar complaint & if Eric shows up like he said he might well who knows?

Eric said...

Cole, again, you're just stom;ing your feet and repeating your position -- you haven't actually addressed any of the arguments!

Eric said...

"The fact remains that within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects. In other words causality is a temporal concept. This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Moreover, there is nothing incoherent or self-refuting about it. So, we are justified in accepting it. If there is no space-time there is no causality."

No, that doesn't follow -- what follows is, "if there is causality 'outside of' spacetime, *we can't experience it*," and you can't get from there to "hence, there is no causality outside of spacetime." Please, just look at your argument again and you'll see that this is the conclusion that actually follows from it.

Cole said...

Eric,

What argument? You mean your assertion that it's a metaphysical principle? Maybe fictionalism is true when it comes to abstract objects. Here's the "metaphysical" principle:

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

In other words causality is a temporal concept.

This "metaphysical" principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. So, we are justified in accepting it. If there is no space-time there is no causality. Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a First Cause. God didn't create the universe.

Eric said...

"In other words causality is a temporal concept.
This "metaphysical" principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. So, we are justified in accepting it. If there is no space-time there is no causality."

Again, you simply refuse to deal with the arguments and go on reasserting your position. I don't intend to keep wasting my time, so I'll say this one last time: *Of course* we only *experience* causality in spacetime, for *all* of our experience is in spacetime -- it doesn't follow that causation as such is a spatial/temporal concept. Why you can't grasp this is beyond me.

Cole said...

Eric,

Are you going to show that the "metaphysical" principle is incoherent or self-refuting? You obviously understand that it is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. This is the "metaphysical" principle:

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

Cole said...

Timeless causation is a figment of your imagination.

Cole said...

Think of it this way:

Without space-time there is no motion or change. For God to create something requires an act of the will. This requires motion and change. But without time there is no motion or change. God couldn't have created the universe. For space-time came into existence with the Big Bang.

BenYachov said...

Cole,

You now officially have no credibility.

At this point intellectually you are Paps without his flamboyancy and sense of humor.

Cole said...

Ben,

Why is that? Can you show that the "metaphysical" principle is self-refuting or incoherent? Nobody has done so yet. Eric, agrees that it is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation.

BenYachov said...

One more time.

>Without space-time there is no motion or change.

Of course nothing that contains potency can be made actual under those conditions.

No argument.

>For God to create something requires an act of the will.

Except God is already Purely Actual by nature. Thus he doesn't require time to go from being potential to actual. He is already there.

God's existence is the same as His essence thus his Will is the same as his nature. Thus his will is already purely actual. The human will goes from potency to actuality moved by the intellect in spacetime.

God's will is also the same as His intellect and is already actual outside of spacetime. So Time is not necessary for God to will.

God also by nature contains no potency.

It's not hard when you study Aquinas and Aristotle.

Plus the act of creation is not change. Rather it is the radical causing of something to Be. God changes nothing when He creates so the objection is not valid.

>This requires motion and change. But without time there is no motion or change.

Except the Act of Creation from Nothing is not an act of motion or change but a radical causing of being. So this is a non-starter.

>God couldn't have created the universe. For space-time came into existence with the Big Bang.

A material God whose essence and existence are not the same who is not purely actual (like Dawkins Boeing 747 "god") could not create the Universe. Paley's God who is a mere being alongside other beings except more uber could not do it.

But so far no case as been made against the Aristotilian Thomistic God creating the Universe.

There you go another point by point refutation. I know Cole won't reciprocate.

Eric said...

Cole, here's Craig on the issue:

"I must confess that I'm baffled why atheists would think that causation presupposes time and space or at least time. Janey and John, you need to ask them what they mean by "causality" and what reason they have for believing that it presupposes time and space. They're the ones raising the objection, so make them shoulder their burden of proof. After all, it's not just obvious that causality presupposes time and space. So ask them for their argument.

"You could also do a thought experiment. Ask them why one timeless entity—say, a number—could not depend timelessly for its existence on another timeless entity. Why is that impossible? Why couldn't God timelessly sustain a number in existence? That would clearly be an asymmetric causal relation. Why is that impossible?

"Maybe they'll say that causes always precede their effects in time. But then ask them if they think simultaneous causal relations are impossible. Why can't the cause and effect exist at the same time in an asymmetric dependency relation? For example, a heavy chandelier hanging on a chain from the ceiling. The ceiling and chain hold up the chandelier; the chandelier and chain don't support the ceiling!

"Indeed, you could ask them if all causation isn't in the end simultaneous. Imagine C and E are the cause and the effect. If C were to vanish before the time at which E is produced, would E nevertheless come into being? Surely not! But if time is continuous, then no matter how close to E's appearance C's disappearance takes place, there will always be an interval of time between C's disappearance and E's appearance. But then why or how E came into being when it does seems utterly mysterious, for there is no cause at that moment to produce it.

(continued)

Cole said...

This is why scientists will tell you that time is a dimension in which cause and effect take place. If there's no space-time then there's no causality.

As the Christian astrophysicist Hugh Ross states:

"Your friendly neighborhood physicist will tell you that time is defined as that dimension or realm in which cause and effect phenomena take place."

To avoid this problem, Dr. Ross believes that God is not confined to one dimension of time. He believes He is in more that one dimension of time. Notice how He defines time. Time is a dimension in which cause and effect take place. If there's no time there's no Cause and effect. The only possible solution that Dr. Ross sees is that the First Cause is in more than one dimension of time. But as William Lane Craig has pointed out, this raises a problem. How could this Cause traverse an actually infinite number of equal, non-zero, past temporal intervals to arrive at the moment of creation? The God explanation seems to be unlikely.

Eric said...

(Craig continued)

"They might say that even simultaneous causation presupposes time. Yes, the cause and effect occur at the same time. But then why couldn't such a causal dependency exist timelessly? In simultaneous causation the cause and effect exist co-incidently. But in a timeless state two things can exist co-incidently in a dependence relation. So if simultaneous causation is possible, I see no reason to think timeless causation is impossible. At least we'd need an argument to show that it is.

"In any case, even if time is a precondition for causality, why should that preclude God's being the cause of the universe? Many Christian philosophers and theologians, perhaps the majority today, think that God has existed for infinite past time and created the physical universe a finite time ago. This was Isaac Newton's view as well. He thought absolute time was just God's duration, which is from eternity to eternity. Ask your friends why they think Newton's view was wrong.

"If they say, Janey, that "the universe is all of time and space," ask them how they know that. Maybe God existed prior to His creating the universe. Are they begging the question by assuming that the universe is all there is? If they say that time cannot exist without space, then point out to them that even a sequence of mental events, thoughts passing in succession, is sufficient to generate a before/after sequence and, hence, time. If God has a stream of consciousness, then there would exist time prior to the beginning of the universe. So what's the problem?

"Suppose they say that God must be the Creator of time if He exists. You could say that God creates time from eternity, just as a chandelier could being hanging from the ceiling from eternity; or you could say, as I think, that God is timeless without (not before!) the universe and that time comes into being at the moment He creates the universe. In that case we're back to simultaneous causation again: God's creating the universe is simultaneous with the universe's coming into being (what could be more obvious?). So what's the problem?

"Maybe they'll say that a timeless being can't cause something in time. But then you can say that perhaps God became temporal at the moment He created the universe. He's timeless without the universe and in time with the universe. Ask them to show you any incoherence in that idea.

"In fact, here you should turn the tables and ask them how time could come into existence with no causal conditions whatsoever. That is truly bizarre. Why did time and the universe begin to exist at all? How could they begin to exist in the absence of any causal conditions?

"If they pose your question in reply, Andrew, then point out that God never began to exist and so doesn't need a cause. Indeed, in thinking that God must have a cause, aren't they admitting what they at first denied, namely, that causation is applicable outside of space and time after all?"

BenYachov said...

In spite of the fact I disagree with Craig's personal view on God & Time I like the way he covers all the bases.

Cole said...

Eric,

If you will read everything I have wrote you will see that William Lane Craig's timeless being doesn't work. If God is timeless then He doesn't change. To go from being timeless to temporal requires change. The idea of a non-temporal person making choices requires a sequence of events which requires time showing that a timeless personal being is incoherent. If God is timeless He becomes like an abstract object. He therefore cannot create or do anything include become temporal.

Cole said...

Also,

I gave the reason that I hold to the "metaphysical" principle:

"Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects."

This "metaphysical" principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Neither is it incoherent or self-refuting. So, we are justified in accepting it.

Ask Craig what reasons he gives for accepting His principle that "nothing comes from nothing." It will be the same reason I accept my principle. This "wider" principle that states "nothing comes from nothing" doesn't refute my principle. Why? Well, the objects that we are familiar with that begin to exist are within space-time, with causes that are within space-time. The principle stands firm. We have no experience or examples of timeless causation.

Cole said...

William Lane Craig also answers his view on Newtonian Time or God existing for infinite past time prior to creating the universe. Craig asks:

"How could this Cause traverse an actually infinite number of equal, non-zero, past temporal intervals to arrive at the moment of creation?"

The God explanation seems to be unlikely.

Steve Lovell said...

Cole,

I'm at work, so I should keep my comments to a minimum for now ... but let's start with sequences in general versus sequences in time.

In numerical sequence, one comes before two. But the 'before' here is not a temporal concept. Sequence does not logically require time.

You've now made oblique reference to my examples of non-temporal causatation. You said they aren't examples of that at all. But how are abstract mathematical objects like numbers (which I supposed to be causally involved in our acceptance of mathematical propositions) "in time"?

On Craig's model of God being atemporal "sans Creation" and temporal "subsequent to Creation", I agree that this is something of a mind stretcher, and it's certainly easiest to parse this as a change. However, in so far as it should be thought of as a change it clearly can't be a change "in time" as it brings time into existence. To claim that the idea is incoherent is to claim that there are no other ways to understand Craig here, which is just false. Can you point me to philosophers of note who have seriously tried to make that criticism of Craig stick?

There's a lot I don't find persuasive in Craig's defences of the Kalam argument, but here I think he is, at the very least, coherent.

Steve Lovell said...

Just one more before I actually turn to my day job (!?)

Cole, you write: "Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects."

I think we can agree with this. It's scope is limited to "Within our experience". Does you want it to apply beyond experience and to say that all causation is like that?

Well, ex hypothesi, you don't have any experiences on which to base a conclusion about what any causation "beyond experience" is like.

Let me illustrate Ben and Eric's point. In all my experience, I exist. Indeed, my existence is a necessary pre-condition of my having any experience at all. But it is not a pre-condition of the reality of many of the things I experience. Time functions a similar way. It may be a necessary component of our experience of causation within the physical universe, but that doesn't entail that it's a necessary condition of all causal relations.

Now this doesn't demonstrate that your principle is false. Indeed, I've just said that I'm happy to accept the principle. I just want to point out it's limited scope and to recommend the wider principle which is not limited in the same way.

Enough for now. I may check back at lunch.

Walter said...

I'm showing up a little late in this discussion and I have not read through all the comments, but I would like to say that both sides (atheist and theist) need to be careful about appealing to human intuition when it comes to the genesis of all time and space. Our understanding of cause and effect is based on our experience within an already established natural order.

Wes Morriston (a philosophical theist) has some good responses to some of Craig's arguments:

http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/wes/wes2craig2.pdf

http://www.philoonline.org/library/morriston_5_1.htm

http://stripe.colorado.edu/~morristo/kalam-not.pdf

http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/wes/wes2craig1.pdf

The papers linked above and more can be found here.

BenYachov said...

Wes Morriston is himself a Theist of the Paul Tillich variety.

Aquinas like Morriston rejected the idea we couldn't have an infinite past.

His Cosmological arguments and many based on his (Adler) presuppose an eternal universe.

Before I studied Aquinas in depth I thought at best an Eternal Universe implied Pantheism at worst Atheism.

I know better now even an Eternal Universe without a beginning requires God.

Fundie Atheists (like Cole) are ignorant of the brute fact there is not such thing as "The Cosmological Argument" there is a family of different arguments under the monker CA. They have different philosophical presupposition and assumptions.

BenYachov said...

>If you will read everything I have wrote you will see that William Lane Craig's timeless being doesn't work. If God is timeless then He doesn't change. To go from being timeless to temporal requires change.

As far as I can tell this is the only intelligent thing I have seen Cole write at this point.

But it is unremarkable since Calvinist philosopher Paul Helm makes the same critique of Craig's view on God being Timeless sans creation and being in Time with creation. I agree with Helm.