Thursday, June 09, 2016

Evidence for theism from the existence of thinking beings

There are facts in existence that are vastly more probable to exist if theism is true than if it is not. In all theistic universes a thinking being exists. In many atheistic universes no thinking beings exists, and it is difficult to see how thinking beings could possibly exist. Therefore, the evident fact that there are thinking beings in our universe is evidence that God exists. It may not be enough evidence for strong atheists, but the fact that it is evidence is indubitable.

Now, this is not all of our evidence, surely, and other pieces of evidence no doubt support atheism. But this is a piece of evidence that supports theism even if a naturalistic theory of mind is defensible.

36 comments:

SteveK said...

Add to this the evidence that shows life comes from prior life. Skeptics love evidence.

John Moore said...

How many universes are there? You must know the total number of universes in order to calculate the probability of this or that. If you can't say how many universes there are, then stop pretending you're some super-smart math whiz.

SteveK said...

We only have evidence for one universe. If you stick with the evidence you can't go wrong.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "In many atheistic universes no thinking beings exists..."

So, a god isn't necessary for a universe to exist, then?

If you agree that a god isn't necessary for a universe to exist, including ours, then your argument has big, big problems. So I think you might want to reconsider this one.

grodrigues said...

@John Moore:

"How many universes are there? You must know the total number of universes in order to calculate the probability of this or that."

This assumes that the frequentist approach is the only possible approach to probability, which is hardly uncontroversial.

Given that the "space" of possible worlds is infinite and we have an extremely poor (to say none at all) handle on it, computing probabilities by computing frequencies gets you exactly nowhere.

note(s):
- this is not to say that I can make sense of this Bayesian talk of probabilities applied to possible worlds. I really can't say I do -- but the problem may, and most surely does, reside in me, so I do not make much of it.

"If you can't say how many universes there are, then stop pretending you're some super-smart math whiz."

Reppert is using "universe" in a modal sense, not in the sense of physical universes, as physicists who usually talk about them do (as disconnected space-times, pieces of the multiverse, etc.).

@cal metzger:

"So, a god isn't necessary for a universe to exist, then?"

Since Reppert is advancing an argument for theism, which at the most base level is the proposition "God exists", Reppert cannot assume that "God is necessary" because it would constitute a case of the fallacy known as "begging the question".

Cal Metzger said...

Grod: "Since Reppert is advancing an argument for theism, which at the most base level is the proposition "God exists", Reppert cannot assume that "God is necessary" because it would constitute a case of the fallacy known as "begging the question"."

Tell me about it.

Joe Hinman said...

Grod: "Since Reppert is advancing an argument for theism, which at the most base level is the proposition "God exists", Reppert cannot assume that "God is necessary" because it would constitute a case of the fallacy known as "begging the question"."

according tov your theory one could never argue for anything ass necessary because argue would undermine necessity. Making an arguments not egging the question Both of you (you and Dr. Reppert) need to say what kind of necessity you are talking about.

Joe Hinman said...

this is just barely on topic but speaking of God arguments. on Friday I do on my blog what I call "fun filled Friday:" and what is more fun than God arguments? I challenge atheists to debate God arguments, every Friday.

today is is Argument from Laws of Nature

Maybe next time I'll do argument from thinking people.

Joe Hinman said...

VR: "In many atheistic universes no thinking beings exists..."

So, a god isn't necessary for a universe to exist, then?

If you agree that a god isn't necessary for a universe to exist, including ours, then your argument has big, big problems. So I think you might want to reconsider this one.


I think you know what's wrong with your argument. but he did say atheistic universes. If there is an actual atheist universe the whole topic is moot.

Joe Hinman said...

@John Moore:

"How many universes are there? You must know the total number of universes in order to calculate the probability of this or that."


there are 147 universes

Joe Hinman said...

or 62

oozzielionel said...

There are only one or two that matter.

Miguel said...

"So, a god isn't necessary for a universe to exist, then? "

God is necessary for the universe to exist. But I believe in this case Reppert is just considering an epistemic possibility, not an ontological one. Holding it as epistemically possible that theism is not true, as atheists do, you could speak of "atheistic universes" in the sense that "if, somehow, the existence of an atheistic universe is epistemically possible, it would probably not include thinking beings". Or: "discounting, arguendo, the efficacy of cosmological arguments, one might say that in atheistic possible universes there would probably be no such thing as reason".

You obviously do not have to consider the conclusion of a different argument in every single instance where you are assessing a different argument. I believe in PSR and that PSR entails the existence of a necessary being that is responsible for the existence of contingent beings -- God. But I can still argue that, discounting that, the existence of rational beings provides evidence for God (especially since I am convinced that naturalistic explanations of reason are not even possible).

grodrigues said...

@John Hinman:

"according tov your theory one could never argue for anything ass necessary because argue would undermine necessity."

"My theory"? You are responding to a figment of your imagination, not to anything I have actually said.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Even granted theism why NOT have universes w/o consciousness just 4Him? For some inscrutable reason? God's wallpaper?

And how many universes might a Tinkerer God create?

Universe has plenty of stars & planets w/o intelligent life, so why not whole multi-verses devoid of intelligent life as well?

What exactly is a "universe?" Nor do we have empirical means 2 compare "universes."

What exactly is an "atheistic" universe? Complexification could be inherent and "universal."

What exactly is a thinking being? What are thoughts? Cosmos may B stranger than we CAN imagine. The cosmos might itself be innately complexifying. Maybe all cosmoses are? Maybe they all give rise at some point to a few species who become its own teeny tiny eyes and ears because nature itself abhors its own vacuity?

Complexity is how the cosmos flows
https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2015/06/complexity-is-how-cosmos-flows.html

Prior Prejudices and the Argument from Reason
https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/search/label/brain-mind

Joe Hinman said...

according tov your theory one could never argue for anything ass necessary because argue would undermine necessity."

"My theory"? You are responding to a figment of your imagination, not to anything I have actually said.

first my name is Joe not John. Secondly the to which you referred. doesn't have tov be your creation to be "your theory' in that context.. hu

somebody got up on the pedantic side of the bed this morning.

grodrigues said...

@Joe Hinman:

"first my name is Joe not John."

Indeed; apologies for my mistake.

"Secondly the to which you referred. doesn't have tov be your creation to be "your theory' in that context.. hu"

I am not sure what it is that ytou do not understand, as I was quite clear. To repeat myself: I never argued or claimed, neither does it follow from anything I have said, that "one could never argue for anything ass [sic.] necessary because argue would undermine necessity". Never.

"somebody got up on the pedantic side of the bed this morning."

I do not think that complaining about pedantry, when it is quite clear that you have reading comprehension problems, is a good strategy. But your call, as I really do not care.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Hi Ed,

Even granted theism why NOT have universes w/o consciousness just 4Him? For some inscrutable reason? God's wallpaper?

I'm not sure if or how this is supposed to be an objection to anything Vic wrote. Vic is more than capable of defending his blog post, but I'll point out that theism doesn't mean Christian theism. On the assumption that theism is true (without specifying whether or not Christian theism is true), it could very well be the case that God created a multiverse, some which contain nothing but inanimate matter, some which intelligent but (from the perspective of an omnipotent being) relatively unimpressive primates like us, and some which contain advanced superintelligences which makes us look like ants in comparison.

And how many universes might a Tinkerer God create?

What is the purpose of that question? Is that supposed to be an objection to Vic's post? If yes, how does the objection work?

Universe has plenty of stars & planets w/o intelligent life, so why not whole multi-verses devoid of intelligent life as well?

Already addressed above.

What exactly is a "universe?" Nor do we have empirical means 2 compare "universes."

If we somehow knew with certainty that there was no multiverse, we could just define "universe" as the totality of all physical things which exist. But if we want to be more definitionally accurate and keep open the possibility of a multiverse, then the definition of "universe" is more complicated. As a flawed starting point, I'd offer the following definition of "universe": a collection of physical objects which is spatially closed off from other such collections (universes).

What difference does this definition make to Vic's argument? If the word "universe" is problematic then just replace it with the expression "all of physical reality." If our universe is the only universe which exists, then "all of physical reality" is synonymous with our (the) universe. If a multiverse exists, then "all of physical reality" is synonymous with the multiverse. Note: Vic's argument doesn't need any assumptions about whether "all of physical reality" turns out to mean just our universe or a multiverse. All his argument requires is that at least one universe exists, which it does.

What exactly is an "atheistic" universe? Complexification could be inherent and "universal."

An "atheistic universe" is simply a convenient way to say "the universe pretty much as it exists now, combined with the nonexistence of God."

What exactly is a thinking being? What are thoughts? Cosmos may B stranger than we CAN imagine. The cosmos might itself be innately complexifying. Maybe all cosmoses are? Maybe they all give rise at some point to a few species who become its own teeny tiny eyes and ears because nature itself abhors its own vacuity?

As interesting as those questions may be, I think you are barking up the wrong tree. They are completely irrelevant to Vic's argument. The key point (and this is why I think your comments miss the mark) is that if theism is true, by definition reality includes some sort of mental phenomenon, whatever you want to call it (a person, a conscious being, etc.). The labels don't really matter. What matters is the fact that some sort of mental something has to exist if theism is true, but some sort of mental something does NOT have to exist if atheism (or naturalism) is true. But since the mental exists, that is evidence favoring theism over atheism (or naturalism).

This is such a basic example of how to think about evidence in a philosophical sense it is, well, almost a textbook example of how to think about evidence.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Of course, the fact that the mental exists hardly exhausts what we know. There is a parallel argument to Victor's argument which goes like this.

(1) Physical matter exists.
(2) If naturalism is true, physical matter has to exist.
(3) If supernaturalism is true, physical matter does NOT have to exist. (God could have existed alone basking in His glory or he could have created a bunch of angels and then stopped.)
(4) Therefore, the existence of physical matter is more likely on the assumption that naturalism is true than on the assumption that theism is true, i.e., Pr(matter | naturalism) > Pr(matter | supernaturalism).
(5) Therefore, the existence of physical matter is evidence favoring naturalism over supernaturalism.

Now since theism entails supernaturalism (but supernaturalism does not entail theism), it follows that the probability of theism cannot be any greater than the probability of supernaturalism. So, everything else held equal, it follows that the existence of matter is evidence favoring naturalism over theism. It also follows that, everything else held equal, matter is evidence that theism is probably false.

As I said, the arguments from matter and thinking beings are parallel arguments. It seems to me that they cancel out. At the very least, proponents of the latter have never shown how they outweigh the former.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Jeff wrote:"What matters is the fact that some sort of mental something has to exist if theism is true, but some sort of mental something does NOT have to exist if atheism (or naturalism) is true."

Exactly how does one prove, empirically, that "some sort of mental something does NOT have to exist if atheism is true?" Some sort of mentality might be inevitable, matter and energy might be inevitable. It seems like theists are simply positing things like, "something cannot come from nothing," without proving that nothing is empirically the necessary default if their God does not exist. But how does one empirically prove such a thing? Can absolute nothingness exist? Can absolute chaos or absolute disorder exist? One has to prove the existence of such tags empirically.

I have also read that the idea that the cosmos arose out of "absolutely nothing" is not what physics is saying.

I don't think we disagree as to the inconclusiveness of such arguments.

As for your idea that everything may consist solely of "physical matter," I would sooner use the term matter-energy, and also recognize the mental realm as a process rather than a noun. As for what we may yet discover concerning the quantum and sub quantum realms, it seems that intuition must take a back seat to experimentation and further questions, since on such tiny levels such energies are connected via faster than light communication across incalculable distances in some vast web. Also, the percentage of visible energy and matter in the cosmos remains vastly smaller than all the dark matter and energy. So I don't claim to be able to intuit exactly what "physical reality" is, but It doesn't appear to function hierarchically like theists imagine. However, even our ability to discover more may reach a point of diminishing returns, perhaps inherent roadblocks. So to me the cosmos remains stranger perhaps than we CAN imagine to cite JBS Haldane.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic (& Jeff), Any argument that revolves around analogies with the "human mind" must also take into account the embarrassing fact that the human mind and its intelligence is not something one is automatically born with--rather, it is as much a sociological and historical construct as a biological one. Our species does not pop out of the womb knowing how to speak a particular language, and if someone is raised from birth without hearing others speak or seeing how they react, that human might never learn how to speak and interact, but merely grunt and grab. A newborn, if denied the enrichment of social and linguistic interactions with other humans, will also lose more brain cells during its first years. And, depending on how long such denial of enrichment continues, will suffer the equivalent of a permanent mental handicap, and not due to genetics, but purely environmental circumstances.

Think also, not of the infant and its immediate social influences that taught it speak and gain its first taste of intelligence, but of the ages through which our species (the last remaining species of upright ape left standing) and of how much of what any of us knows or thinks they know is based on the gradual accumulation of knowledge of previous generations, from those who tamed fire, invented the wheel, writing, agriculture, etc.

Human language and intelligence do not appear to be metaphysical entities but owe much to countless interactions between our ancestors living together in societies, and between humans and nature, over vast periods of time. So the "mind" of humans has been socially constructed both as a species and as individuals from birth.

Moreover, this universe was devoid of human mentality for billions of years, since our species in particular only arrived very recently, and might even vanish the next cosmic instant, perhaps even vanish due to being too successful "mentally," i.e., too good at turning more and more of our environment into more and more humans and all their subsequent waste products.

So whatever argument classical theists like Vic are trying to build toward God that are based via analogy with the existence of "human minds" must take into account all of the factors above that raise concerns as to what "minds" really are, and how brief has been the sojourn of intelligent minds on this planet, perhaps in the cosmos itself.

Not to mention the fact that minds as we know them are subject to forgetfulness, subject to mixed and conflicted desires and emotions, subject to illusions, subject to emotional traumas that can incapacitate them, subject to difficulties of communication, subject to hypnosis, suggestion, subject to indoctrination by others and even by one's self, often via simple repetition, etc.

Miguel said...

Jeff,

There are two things I want to say about your comment. The first is that an argument for theism from the existence of the mental can be made in much more robust formulations, such as in the form of an argument from the existence of souls. I reckon, however, that you are referring to Vic's argument in this post. In this case, I suppose he could still point to the *emergence* of reason in human beings, considering that reason would be an additional fact to what there is in reality, conjoined with its specific emergence in beings like us. I suppose it would be a paralell kind of argument from reason to common arguments from consciousness. Physical matter is *compatible* with theism, bur the mental may not at all be compatible with atheism.

The second (and the one I wanted to point out the more) point is that I simply do not understand your premise 2. That is, I don't see the justification for it. How exactly "if naturalism is true, physical matter has to exist"? I don't see physical matter as being necessitated by naturalism in any way, unless you adopt some kind of pantheistic view of nature. You could perhaps say that naturalism would not be true if there were no physical matter at all (the only alternatives seem to either be that 1- at least one non-physical being exists (eg God) or 2- nothing at all exists, physical or non-physical), but from that it does not follow that naturalism explains thhe existence of physical matter or necessitates it, and this that, physical matter existing, you have evidence for natutalism.

You would have to justify premise 2 if you want to run an "argument from matter". The way I see it, 2 is plainly false. Physical matter does not have to exist under naturalism; the existence of physical matter under naturalism is a completely contingent fact, even if it is a necessary condition for one's belief in naturalism.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Miguel,

The first is that an argument for theism from the existence of the mental can be made in much more robust formulations, such as in the form of an argument from the existence of souls.

Indeed, it might surprise some readers to learn that, although an atheist, I have defended a much more robust formulation: see here.

I reckon, however, that you are referring to Vic's argument in this post. In this case, I suppose he could still point to the *emergence* of reason in human beings, considering that reason would be an additional fact to what there is in reality, conjoined with its specific emergence in beings like us.

You are talking about combining an argument from thinking beings with an argument from reason, as a cumulative case. Yes, I agree that one could do that. Of course, if we want to talk about "much more robust" arguments, much more robust naturalists would argue:

(1) just because you cobble two points of data together and call them a cumulative case doesn't mean you've shown that they are (see the end of my essay here for a summary of what a person needs to do in order to successfully defend a cumulative case claim).

(2) Reppert's post completely glosses over the intrinsic probability of theism and, even more important, the fact that theism's intrinsic probability is significantly lower than that of naturalism.

(3) That Reppert's argument (and even the cumulative case approach you sketch) commit the fallacy of understated evidence. (See here.) We know much more than just the fact that thinking beings exist. Thanks to recent discoveries in neuroscience, we also know that (a) consciousness depends upon the physical brain ("nothing mental happens without something physical happening"; and (b) at least some moral handicaps, like psychopathy, have a neurological basis. These facts are much more likely and very much, much more likely on the assumption that naturalism is true than on the assumption that theism is true. The upshot is this. Once the evidence about thinking beings is fully stated, it is far from obvious that it favors theism over naturalism.

(to be continued...)

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

(continuing last comment...)

I suppose it would be a paralell [sic] kind of argument from reason to common arguments from consciousness. Physical matter is *compatible* with theism, bur [sic]the mental may not at all be compatible with atheism. (emphasis mine)

There is nothing in your comment which suggests you were trying to be funny, but that is a laughable comment. Since (I assume that) you are a theist, I would like to encourage you to take the same degree of skepticism Alvin Plantinga applied to so-called "logical arguments from evil" and apply it to your (implied) "logical argument from matter" against atheism. In other words, start with a proposition about atheism:

(1) God does not exist.

and add a proposition about matter:

(2) Physical matter wxists.

And then demonstrate, by substituting synonyms for synonyms in (1), (2), or both, that propositions (1) and (2) contradict each other. You cannot do that because no one can do that because they are logically consistent propositions.

The second (and the one I wanted to point out the more) point is that I simply do not understand your premise 2. That is, I don't see the justification for it. How exactly "if naturalism is true, physical matter has to exist"?

First, I should mention that I have given a "much more robust" formulation of my argument from matter here, in the context of responding to Swinburne's cosmological argument. Second, in direct answer to your question, I define my terms as follows:

By “naturalism,” I mean the view that the physical world explains why anything mental exists. If naturalism is true, then there are no purely mental beings which can exist apart from a physical body and so there is no God or any person or being much like God.

By “supernaturalism,” I mean the view that the mental world explains why anything physical exists. If supernaturalism is true, then there is no purely physical matter which can exist without some sort of ultimate mental creator. “Theism” is a type of supernaturalism; it’s the belief that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good personal mind called “God.”

(Aside: notice the symmetry between naturalism and supernaturalism. Prior to examining the empirical evidence, both naturalism and supernaturalism start off on an equal footing, i.e., they have equal intrinsic probabilities. Theism starts off at a significant disadvantage to naturalism because it makes more claims than supernaturalism. Therefore, there are more potential ways for theism to be false than for supernaturalism to be false.)

So defined, my claim is that naturalism is the best explanation for the fact that physical matter exists.

I want to be very clear. The existence of physical matter is logically compatible with
theism; God could have created matter. But God could have also chosen to create other minds without physical bodies, such as angels. Or God could have chosen to create
nothing at all. In other words, God’s existence doesn’t entail physical matter.

In contrast, naturalism entails physical matter. In other words, if naturalism is true, then physical matter must exist. Since naturalism entails that physical matter exists whereas theism does not, it follows that physical matter is evidence favoring naturalism over theism.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

"wxists" should be "exists"

I wish Blogger would allow the editing of comments. Sigh.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Ed,

Exactly how does one prove, empirically, that "some sort of mental something does NOT have to exist if atheism is true?"

The statement, "some sort of mental something does NOT have to exist if atheism is true," is a conceptual claim, not an empirical one. It is a category mistake to ask for empirical evidence in support of a conceptual claim. So what is the support for that conceptual claim? It is true by definition. "God does not exist" is logically compatible with "An inanimate, lifeless universe exists" or "A physical universe exists and the only life which exists are bacteria and plants, neither of which have any mental properties whatsoever."

Some sort of mentality might be inevitable, matter and energy might be inevitable. It seems like theists are simply positing things like, "something cannot come from nothing," without proving that nothing is empirically the necessary default if their God does not exist. But how does one empirically prove such a thing? Can absolute nothingness exist? Can absolute chaos or absolute disorder exist? One has to prove the existence of such tags empirically.

Again, you raise interesting questions and, again, I think they are completely irrelevant. You seem to have mixed up Vic's argument with the kalam argument. Vic doesn't need "something cannot from nothing" to be true in order for his argument from thinking beings to be successful. With that said, I'll mention (but not defend) my conceptual belief that "absolute nothingness is impossible" and my empirical belief that "the claim that the universe came from 'absolutely nothing' is not supported by the scientific evidence."

As for your idea that everything may consist solely of "physical matter,"

That isn't what I think. I'm open to the existence of abstract objects, like numbers, sets, propositions, etc. But if such things exist, they cannot stand in causal relations to concrete things. My position would be better summed up as: "It is very unlikely that there exists anything which both (a) is not material/physical; and (b) can causally interact with material/physical things." That leaves the door open to abstract objects, while denying the supernatural.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Jeff, I understand your argument, and that it was conceptual. But I leapt ahead to point out that the concept behind Vic's argument has no basis in anything we actually know for sure empirically. So we agree.

Like you I agree Vic's argument is purely conceptual and also inconclusive.

But perhaps I should add that it appears to me that more than one conceptual worldview is possible given the way the big questions in philosophy involve such enormous and stretchable words and generalizations. Hence I don't argue "for" atheism. I simply raise questions that seem obvious enough, questions that mostly involve lack of empirical evidence.

I like your distinction when it comes to abstract objects and "physical" objects.

One point however, that I tend to emphasize is that no word equals a thing, no map equals the territory, and no model (including the finest mathematical model) equals reality--which reminds me of this great illustration of the slipperiness or imprecision of abstract as well as physical knowledge of the world. All of the big questions seem to end with us tossing around analogies and making approximations: https://books.google.com/books?id=NKmKCmLteOMC&lpg=PA222&dq=physics%20joke%20racehorse%20sphere&pg=PA222#v=onepage&q&f=false










Edward T. Babinski said...

And Jeff, I tend to doubt that drawing out one's philosophical statements in a strictly analytical framework of writing and labeling each line adds much to the chance of getting others to agree with one's point of view when it comes to the most momentous gargantuan questions in philosophy. Analytical arguments are capable of slicing the pie of such questions into discrete sub-arguments, ever thinner and thinner. But that does not solve the debate over the big questions.

Because unless one side or the other (or the third and fourth sides for that matter) all agree on some basic intuitions and with the same general conclusions regarding the analysis of collections of data/evidence when one begins the debate, then no analytical argument is going to enhance the chances of changing anyone's mind concerning the major conclusions. Instead, for every thinly sliced and analytically analyzed piece of the pie, those with differing views come up with another thinly sliced rejoinder based on different premises/intuitions, or based on different general conclusions regarding the analysis of collections of data/evidence that they held before the debate even began.

How to break through such an impasse? Might be impossible, but I tend to go with a more talkative type of philosophizing, including a few examples from nature and anecdotes, and stressing that the purely conceptual form of argumentation cannot skip past all of the empirical questions. In fact how about beginning a debate with a Christian theist in public by asking them, if they are experiencing the presence of God right now, or the Holy Spirit? Then ask them to describe what they are experiencing to the crowd, and what explicit messages God or the Holy Spirit is telling them to share? If they can't come up with anything then point out you can't hear God either, so you're both on equal footing. Then point out how nice it is that things just happened to work out like that.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Ed,

Jeff, I understand your argument, and that it was conceptual. But I leapt ahead to point out that the concept behind Vic's argument has no basis in anything we actually know for sure empirically. So we agree.

It would be nice if we agreed, but I'm not sure if we do. You second sentence ends with "... we actually know for sure empirically," but I wonder if you are going a step further from that and concluding, "... we actually know for sure."

"There are no good reasons to believe X" does not follow from the fact that "we don't have empirical grounds for believing X." For example, if X is true by definition, then we have good reason to believe X despite having no empirical evidence for X.

So while I agree, in one sense, with your claim that "the concept behind Vic's argument has no basis in anything we actually know for sure empirically," I also think "the concept behind Vic's argument does have a basis in what we know conceptually."

Ryan M said...

Miguel said:

"You could perhaps say that naturalism would not be true if there were no physical matter at all (the only alternatives seem to either be that 1- at least one non-physical being exists (eg God) or 2- nothing at all exists, physical or non-physical), but from that it does not follow that naturalism explains thhe existence of physical matter or necessitates it, and this that, physical matter existing, you have evidence for natutalism"

On the contrary, the latter proposition "naturalism explains thhe existence of physical matter or necessitates it" would follow from "naturalism would not be true if there were no physical matter at all".

Call Naturalism "N", and the existence of matter "M". The former proposition can be seen as "~M → ~N" and the latter proposition can be translated as "N → M". The contrapositive to "~M → ~N" is "~~M → ~~N" which is logically equivalent to "N → M". Since every conditional is logically equivalent to its corresponding contrapositive, it follows that since "~M → ~N" is equivalent to "~~M → ~~N" and "~~M → ~~N" is equivalent to "N → M" then by transitivity "~M → ~N" is equivalent to "N → M". So if the non existence of matter really does imply naturalism is false then naturalism being true implies the existence of matter.

Edward T. Babinski said...

DEAR VIC AND JEFF, Speaking strictly conceptually, what can Vic tell us for sure concerning what a God or any infinite being, would or would not create? That includes cosmoses with or without intelligent life in them.

On what NON AD HOC basis can one be sure what an infinite being would ow would not create?

Furthermore on what NON AD HOC basis can one be sure that an infinite being would create anything at all since it is already infinite and self complete?

These are questions Moriston has raised.

As for agreeing or disagreeing with you, what are you really after?

Miguel said...

Ryan,

A logical entailment is not necessarily a complete explanation. N implies M in the sense that a proposition N being true entails what is necessary for its being true, that is, M. But my point is that this sense is entirely trivial and not analogous to arguments like, say, Swinburne's cosmological argument. I have yet to read Jeff's more detailed post on his "argument from matter", which is why I'm refraining from responding directly o him at the moment, but as it stands I still don't see how there could be a real argument there.

Naturalism can only be true if there is nature (say, physical matter), and nature only. Does that mean that, because nature exists, naturalism explains why it exists? How on earth does naturalism ENTAIL or even EXPLAIN the existence of the physical universe, in the same sense that in cosmological or AfMs argue that there must be an actual being or cause behind the phenomena (the existence or beginning of the universe, or miracles, etc)? Under naturalism, the existence of matter is a completely unexplained contingent fact; naturalism can't even be true if there were no nature, how can you say naturalism is something that entails the existence of matter (unless you're assuming logical propositiona can cause and entail real concrete entities; which seems to me bizarre? As I said, the only relevant way that you can say "naturalism implies matter" is through some sort of pantheism in which nature itself is necessary (or necessitates by "the Good" as some pantheists like Leslie would say, I think), but then that's not atheistic naturalism.

I don't see how there's anything analogous to the arguments from reason or cosmological arguments. Naturalism does not explain the existence of matter, it doesn't cause anything, it is not its truth ground and does not make the existence of nature any more intelligible. "Why does matter exist? Well, because only matter exists!". That's not what theistic cosmological args or AfRs are like, and certainly not what Swinburne's arguments are like (the fact that naturalism is not an *explanation* for the facts in the sense that theism is. Naturalism is just a rejection of the questions)

Again, I'm just replying to you and trying to clarify my post, as I have yet to read Jeff's blogpost on his argument.

Ilíon said...

"(the fact [is] that naturalism is not an *explanation* for the facts in the sense that theism is. Naturalism is just a rejection of the questions)"

That bears repeating.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Theists invoke a bigger mystery, God, to explain the mystery of the cosmos.

Just saying God did it, explains everything by explaining nothing.

The cosmos remains mysterious, and our knowledge of what existed prior to the Big Bang or what may exist in the distant future, or what may exist outside the furthest reaches of this cosmos, or what may even explode from within this cosmos, remains purely hypothetical.

Another thing that remains purely hypothetical is what kinds of God might explain this cosmos. A God who includes mass extinction events and countless extinctions of cousins species to achieve his goals seems like a tinkerer.

Victor Reppert said...

Unless God actually did it. Then it would be true. Thebutlerdidit is a bad explanation unless, of course, the butler did it. Same with God.

Ilíon said...

some God-phobic fool: "Theists invoke a bigger mystery, God, to explain the mystery of the cosmos."

The fool's "bigger mystery" is an artifact of his foolish insistence upon turning God into just one more item in the cosmos.

"The cosmos remains mysterious, and our knowledge of what existed prior to the Big Bang or what may exist in the distant future, or what may exist outside the furthest reaches of this cosmos, or what may even explode from within this cosmos, remains purely hypothetical."

Translation: we do not -- and cannot -- really know anything.

Gentle Reader may recall that I have pointed out that when one refuses to acknowledge the reality of God, one of the inevitable results of that self-imposed ignorance is ignorance about everything else.

"Another thing that remains purely hypothetical is what kinds of God might explain this cosmos. A God who includes mass extinction events and countless extinctions of cousins species to achieve his goals seems like a tinkerer."

Asserts the man who doesn't even know that he himself exists.