Monday, October 03, 2016

Who made God?

Answered by Shameless Popery. 

108 comments:

Legion of Logic said...

I like the logic diagram.

Cal Metzger said...

Honestly, I always think that these arguments are just a kind of hucksterism -- I feel like I'm watching a children's magician as he tries to get the crowd to agree that "nothing could possibly be inside the hat anymore, right? We all saw that I didn't put anything in the hat, so it's impossible for the hat to have anything in it, right?"

It starts out with "Everything has to be contingent, or necessary, right?" What? Who thinks like that? What does that even mean? Isn't this the kind of question that car salesman ask when they want you to buy their car today? "No one can drive the same old car forever, right?" the salesman begins...

But really, it's all just kind of a a shell game argument, isn't it?

An infinite regress is impossible. Unless we admit that we don't know why an infinite regress is impossible. And unless we admit that calling something "necessarily infinite" is indistinguishable from something that regresses infinitely.

B. Prokop said...

"What? Who thinks like that?"

People who take words seriously think like that. People who respect philosophy think like that. People who actually think, think like that.

Legion of Logic said...

"It starts out with "Everything has to be contingent, or necessary, right?" What? Who thinks like that?"

I think like that. It is the single reason why I reject atheism as a possibility out of hand, because I have yet to see a sufficient argument against it.

It is logically absurd to assume that a bunch of contingent things are any sort of ultimate explanation. They are contingent upon other things, after all.

Atheism will join the list of ideas worth my consideration once it is able to provide an argument that overcomes, or at least potentially overcomes, the problem of contingency in an atheistic reality.

Cal Metzger said...

Legion: "It is logically absurd to assume that a bunch of contingent things are any sort of ultimate explanation. "

It is logically absurd to assume that something is "necessarily infinite".

Same same, all the way down.

Cal Metzger said...

What is the difference between an infinite regress and something that is "necessarily infinite"?

Asking for a friend.

B. Prokop said...

"What is the difference between an infinite regress and something that is "necessarily infinite"?"

Huh? The proper question is "What's the similarity between the two?"

Asking for the difference between them is like asking for the difference between a bicycle and French impressionist painting. Where does one start?

John Moore said...

What I want to know is why the universe as a whole can't be "necessary".

Sure, the various things within the universe are contingent, but why should the universe as a whole be contingent?

At the bottom the OP says "God created the universe" is a coherent argument whereas "The universe created the universe" is not. On the other hand, why can't we say "The universe developed from its own necessary being"? After all, we know that complexity can emerge deterministically from extremely simple starting conditions. So why do we need a God?

bmiller said...

@John Moore,

"Sure, the various things within the universe are contingent, but why should the universe as a whole be contingent?"

If I take a contingent thing, add another contingent thing, add another contingent thing, etc and end up calling the collection of contingent things the universe, how does the collection of contingent things acquire the property of non-contingency?

John Moore said...

That's not how the universe is. The universe as a whole was not built up from parts, but it began with a very small something and grew into what it is today. Parts emerged from the original whole.

Imagine the zero-dimensional point of existence at the moment of the Big Bang. It's not contingent, is it?

SteveK said...

Legion: "It is logically absurd to assume that a bunch of contingent things are any sort of ultimate explanation. "

This makes sense.

Cal: "It is logically absurd to assume that something is "necessarily infinite"

What is the logical absurdity? Spell it out.

Joe Hinman said...

Cal Metzger said...
Honestly, I always think that these arguments are just a kind of hucksterism -- I feel like I'm watching a children's magician as he tries to get the crowd to agree that "nothing could possibly be inside the hat anymore, right? We all saw that I didn't put anything in the hat, so it's impossible for the hat to have anything in it, right?"

that says more you than it does about modal loogic

It starts out with "Everything has to be contingent, or necessary, right?" What? Who thinks like that? What does that even mean? Isn't this the kind of question that car salesman ask when they want you to buy their car today? "No one can drive the same old car forever, right?" the salesman begins...


know who thinks like you? Archie Bunker do you know who that is? O this is different than what I know about therefore it must be stupid, Only my stuff is valid anything Im' unused to is dumb,


But really, it's all just kind of a a shell game argument, isn't it?


no, there's this stuff called logic. That's called lo-gic. It's about how to think right, it;s reading, you have to learn how,



An infinite regress is impossible. Unless we admit that we don't know why an infinite regress is impossible. And unless we admit that calling something "necessarily infinite" is indistinguishable from something that regresses infinitely.



get your little thinkng cap on, concentrate, focus,read slow

ICR is a series of cause and effects that streak back in an infinite succession, because they are causes they deal with tings that have to be caused, i know hard but concentrate,

because they are cased there has to be first cause or the series can't be there, it is stuff does need causing.

An eternally necessary existent doesn't need cause because it has always been, now here;s the key it's not a series. It's one thing that always is. It was not a series of causes,see the difference?


Joe Hinman said...

Cal Metzger said...
Legion: "It is logically absurd to assume that a bunch of contingent things are any sort of ultimate explanation. "

It is logically absurd to assume that something is "necessarily infinite".


why would that be?something must have always existed but a series of things that need causes can't be it, There has to a cause for the series itself,because it's stuff that needs causes, then there must be something that doesn't need a cause,

Same same, all the way down.

you really can't see a difference in one eternal thing and av series of cause? seriously? then you don[t need to be arguing against ideas that are beyond your ability to understand, go look for the crayons,


October 03, 2016 7:27 PM
Blogger Cal Metzger said...
What is the difference between an infinite regress and something that is "necessarily infinite"?

Asking for a friend.

October 03, 2016 7:28 PM

I said it above a series of caused things vs one thing that is not series.

Joe Hinman said...

What I want to know is why the universe as a whole can't be "necessary".

because it has abegining, it starts in the big bang, so it;s not eternal

Sure, the various things within the universe are contingent, but why should the universe as a whole be contingent?

because it's made up of all contingent parts, see Dr.Koons at UT


At the bottom the OP says "God created the universe" is a coherent argument whereas "The universe created the universe" is not. On the other hand, why can't we say "The universe developed from its own necessary being"?

because if it has a cause it's not necessary, necessary things are not caused, caused things are contingent rather than necessary that's the terminology,


After all, we know that complexity can emerge deterministically from extremely simple starting conditions. So why do we need a God?

that assumes a structure of asystem of some sort of physicality that governs the development, what cauised that?

Gyan said...

John Moore,
"the zero-dimensional point of existence at the moment of the Big Bang."
This is an inference from physics. The laws of physics that generate this inference are obtained from observing and experimenting on contingent things. You do not get to the necessary thing by this route.

The universe which is the totality of consistently interacting things (Stanley Jaki) is a metaphysical notion. Physics can never show that it is dealing with a totality. For instance, your picture of Big Bang theory is outdated. Now physicists try to go beyond the Big Bang e.g the multiverse picture.

Ilíon said...

Joe Heschmeyer (in the linked piece): "So even someone who rejects the existence of God should be able to recognize that the objection “Who created God?” is just incoherent, like asking “What caused the First Cause?”"

Oh, my! He's saying that at least *some* people are being intellectually dishonest when they raise that "surprisingly common objection raised by atheists against the idea of God".

Ilíon said...

"What is the logical absurdity? Spell it out."

SteveK is such a joker!

John Moore said...

Who says the universe as a whole had a beginning? If we're talking about a zero-dimensional point at the moment of the Big Bang, that point could just as well have existed eternally in the past. There's no way to measure time when all existence is zero-dimensional.

Likewise, there's no suggestion that the zero-dimensional point of existence had a cause.

On the other hand, if today's universe emerged from a simple start, that does assume some kind of fundamental structure of spacetime. Joe Hinman asks what caused that, and so my suggestion is that such a fundamental structure of spacetime could itself be "necessary". Maybe there's only one way for dimensionality to happen at all.

Ilíon said...

John Moore: "Imagine the zero-dimensional point of existence at the moment of the Big Bang. It's not contingent, is it?"

Translation: Imagine [the concept of "something" that literally is *nothing*. This concept of something-that-is-really-nothing is] not contingent, is it?

Well, that *is* a stumper, isn't it?

John Moore: "That's not how the universe is. The universe as a whole was not built up from parts, but it began with a very small something and grew into what it is today. Parts emerged from the original whole."

Logically, what you're saying is that *everything* is in the "Necessary" box.

Logically, what you're saying is that neither you nor I are engaging in acts of reasoning when you deny the reality of God and I affirm it. While I certainly agree with you concerning yourself, I *know* that that isn't true in my case.

David Brightly said...

We can allow that Shameless's argument delivers a necessary being, but this being needn't be God. We can imagine a world containing undifferentiated stuff. Contingent beings like people, trees, and houses are fashioned out of this stuff. When they cease to exist their stuff returns to the undifferentiated world stuff. This has gone on, and will continue to go on, for ever. This world satisfies the conditions of Shameless's argument, with the world-stuff playing the role of his necessary being, the ground of all contingent beings. The necessity here is analytic: if there are things made of stuff, then there must be stuff. It follows from the meanings of 'thing', 'made of' and 'stuff'.

That's the easy part. The hard part, as Shameless admits at the end, is showing that his necessary being is the kind of necessary being that can account for its own existence.

Gyan said...

John Moore,
"zero-dimensional point of existence"

The Big Bang singularity is an extrapolation and not something real. Singularities in physics mean that the theory is no longer valid at that point and needs to be replaced with a better theory. And as I have pointed out, the physicists are busy crafting theories that go beyond the simple BigBang picture.

In short, physics does not deal in "zero-dimensional points of existence". It is maths and not physics.

John Moore said...

You're right about the zero-dimensional point of existence not being a literal thing that physicists find evidence for. It's just a thought experiment for philosophical purposes. And yet a simple thought experiment can help us see important points. Those points might still be valid for the messy and complicated real world.

grodrigues said...

@John Moore:

"That's not how the universe is. The universe as a whole was not built up from parts, but it began with a very small something and grew into what it is today. Parts emerged from the original whole."

Then tell us what this "universe as a whole" is supposed to be apart from the sum of all its parts. The very expression "universe as a whole" just means that the universe as a whole is the sum of its parts, or at the very least, is ontologically dependent on its parts, so that there is no universe without any of its proper parts (e.g. spacetime if it is a real thing, galaxies, planets, whatever). So from where I am standing "universe as a whole" in the sense you are using, is nothing but a product of your imagination. Or, if this "universe as a whole" can exist independently of its parts (e.g. spacetime if it is a real thing, galaxies, planets, whatever), then you are talking about God just using a different name.

It is also shows why the "universe as a whole" itself cannot be necessary -- as bmiller pointed out. The universe as a whole is ontologically dependent on its parts, its parts are contingent, etc.

grodrigues said...

@David Brightly:

"This world satisfies the conditions of Shameless's argument, with the world-stuff playing the role of his necessary being, the ground of all contingent beings. The necessity here is analytic: if there are things made of stuff, then there must be stuff. It follows from the meanings of 'thing', 'made of' and 'stuff'."

First, from the fact that things are made of stuff (e.g. have material parts) it does not follow that they are made of a single "world stuff". Second, even we assume for the sake of argument that "necessarily, everything is made from world-stuff" it does not follow that necessarily, world stuff exists. This is a modal mistake in illicitly shifting the modal operators.

"That's the easy part. The hard part, as Shameless admits at the end, is showing that his necessary being is the kind of necessary being that can account for its own existence."

Neither is that the hard part, nor do I see where Shameless admits that.

B. Prokop said...

The opposition to the First Cause argument is, in its essence, not a logical argument at all, but rather an emotional response. Now, I ought to be the last person to dismiss such a response, since I am on record as saying that logic itself is but one tool in our toolbox. So I will not disrespect the atheists' emotional opposition to the argument. But I would really like them to admit that logic has nothing whatsoever to do with their stance. That alone would be a huge step forward toward mutual understanding.

By the way, here is the Best Ever presentation of the Emotional Rejection to the First Cause Argument (from Moby Dick, Chapter 119 "The Candles"):

[Y]et will I talk to thee. Light though thou be, thou leapest out of darkness; but I am darkness leaping out of light, leaping out of thee! The javelins cease; open eyes; see, or not? There burn the flames! Oh, thou magnanimous! now I do glory in my genealogy. But thou art but my fiery father; my sweet mother, I know not. Oh, cruel! what hast thou done with her? There lies my puzzle; but thine is greater. Thou knowest not how came ye, hence callest thyself unbegotten; certainly knowest not thy beginning, hence callest thyself unbegun. I know that of me, which thou knowest not of thyself, oh, thou omnipotent. There is some unsuffusing thing beyond thee, thou clear spirit, to whom all thy eternity is but time, all thy creativeness mechanical. Through thee, thy flaming self, my scorched eyes do dimly see it. Oh, thou foundling fire, thou hermit immemorial, thou too hast thy incommunicable riddle, thy unparticipated grief. Here again with haughty agony, I read my sire. Leap! leap up, and lick the sky! I leap with thee; I burn with thee; would fain be welded with thee; defyingly I worship thee!"

AdamHazzard said...

Following this argument, the physical universe is entirely contingent on God: there has never been and could not be a universe without God.

And if God is unchanging, he has always willed the existence of the universe; there has never been God without a universe.

From this, we should not expect to observe a a universe that is temporally finite. In other words, on the assumption of an eternal and unchanging creator God, the universe did not "begin to exist."

(More a passing thought than a formal argument, but I'm not sure where it fails.)

Ilíon said...

^ One of the way it fails is that you're thinking of time (and perhaps space) as some sort of container which contains God.

John Moore said...

In the beginning, the universe had no parts. The world was without form, and void. So what makes you think it was contingent? That's all I want to know.

If something is made up of parts, that's contingent. Or if something began to exist in time, that's also contingent because it probably had a cause. On the other hand, I still don't understand why the Big Bang looks contingent to you guys.

AdamHazzard said...

For the purpose of the argument, I'm assuming that there was never a time at which God did not exist; that there was never a time at which the universe existed without God; that there was never a time at which God did not desire the existence of the universe; and that that there was (therefore) never a time at which the universe did not exist.

B. Prokop said...

Adam,

All your assumptions are correct.

How could there possibly be "a time at which God did not desire the existence of the universe" when that very time you are speaking of is itself one of the "things" that God created? As the creed says, "God... Maker of Heaven and Earth, of all things visible and invisible."

Time is part of the universe, and has no existence apart from it. Therefore there can be no time "at which the universe did not exist".

AdamHazzard said...

And it certainly poses no problem for theism, though it does contradict the second premise of the cosmological argument: under this understanding, one cannot reasonably assert that "the universe began to exist."

B. Prokop said...

"one cannot reasonably assert that "the universe began to exist"

Sure you can. Just as you can define a geographic feature by its extremities and say something like "The Colorado River begins here," so can you "reasonably assert" that the universe began to exist 13.7 billion years ago (or whenever).

No logical problem whatsoever.

grodrigues said...

@Adam Hazzard:

"Following this argument, the physical universe is entirely contingent on God: there has never been and could not be a universe without God."

Correct.

"And if God is unchanging, he has always willed the existence of the universe; there has never been God without a universe."

There are different readings of this, some are true some are false.

'From this, we should not expect to observe a a universe that is temporally finite. In other words, on the assumption of an eternal and unchanging creator God, the universe did not "begin to exist."'

This is a non-sequitur. God is a-temporal; his mode of being is not that of an eternally existing being (which by itself is not problematic as Aquinas for example, grants it not only for the sake of argument but actually requires it -- although here I have to check, so take this parenthetical remark with a grain of salt -- as it follows from standard Aristotelean cosmology) so it does not follow from the fact that from all eternity He has willed the universe into existence, that the universe has been willed into existence from all eternity. This is an illicit shift of the modal operators.

grodrigues said...

@John Moore:

"In the beginning, the universe had no parts. The world was without form, and void. So what makes you think it was contingent? That's all I want to know."

Of course the universe is made of parts -- since the universe just *is* the the entirety of the natural order, or at the very least, is ontologically dependent on its parts. I *explicitly* asked you if this is not your understanding then what do you mean by "universe", and quite predictably you gave no answer and proceeded as if nothing was said. Understandably, because you have no answer, neither can there be one without committing you to something like God, the only question remaining being whether it is a God wholly transcendent of the natural order (as standard, classical theism has it) or a sort of pantheistic God a la Spinoza where the natural order is collapsed in an immanent God.

AdamHazzard said...

Mmm...but if God and the physical universe are entirely co-temporal, shouldn't any purely temporal statement about one be equally true of the other?

AdamHazzard said...

I'm not sure how to parse this. Do you mean to say that there has in fact been a time at which God existed and the physical universe did not? Or are God and the universe wholly co-temporal?

grodrigues said...

@Adam Hazzard:

"Mmm...but if God and the physical universe are entirely co-temporal, shouldn't any purely temporal statement about one be equally true of the other?"

I will assume this is meant for me.

I do not know what you mean "God and the physical universe are entirely co-temporal" especially when I have just said that God is a-temporal. Temporal statements about God, if meant literally, are not so much as false but meaningless.

note(s):
- on rereading my previous post, there is a passage that is very poorly worded. Instead of "it does not follow from the fact that from all eternity He has willed the universe into existence, that the universe has been willed into existence from all eternity", which is liable to confuse, I should have said that it does not follow from the fact that God a-temporally willed the universe into existence in a single undivided act that God necessarily wills an eternally existing universe.

grodrigues said...

@Adam Hazzard:

I should also add that even if one conceives of God as a temporal being than it is hardly tenable to conceive of it as unchangeable. But suppose such can be done. I still do not see how it follows from "God from all eternity willed the universe into existence" to the fact that the "universe exists from all eternity" -- it still seems to be the same illicit modal operator shift fallacy.

AdamHazzard said...

"Co-temporal" meaning simply that there was never a time when the universe existed without God, and never a time when God existed and the universe did not.

If God created time, it follows that there was never a time when time did not exist and never a time when God did not exist.

Which is why it seems odd under those assumptions to say, for instance, that the universe is X-billion years old, unless we're willing also to say that God is X-billion years old.

grodrigues said...

@Adam Hazzard:

"If God created time, it follows that there was never a time when time did not exist and never a time when God did not exist."

If time is a real being, then it is a creaturely being and it was created. But then the mode of existence of time is different from other creaturely beings -- it is perfectly meaningful to say that I, a being *in* time, am X years old. But time is not in time, so such statements must be understood in a different way. How one goes about it, depends on how you understand time and change. Scientists (and philosophers) do say that time had a beginning, that the universe is finite in the past, etc. But this is not the same kind of claim as when we say that I had a beginning or that I am finite in the past. For example, if you look at general relativity, to say that the universe is finite in the past has a technical meaning having to do with the existence of a space-time boundary in the 4d manifold as witnessed by non-extensibility of geodesics.

"Which is why it seems odd under those assumptions to say, for instance, that the universe is X-billion years old, unless we're willing also to say that God is X-billion years old."

Yes you keep saying this, but since no valid inference has been produced it is me that is in his right to say that what you are saying is "odd".

AdamHazzard said...

@grodrguez:

"Scientists (and philosophers) do say that time had a beginning, that the universe is finite in the past, etc. But this is not the same claim as when we say that I had a beginning or that I am finite in the past."

Which is a common objection to the second premise of the cosmological argument: The universe did not "begin to exist" in sense that you and I "began to exist."

Keep in mind that I'm thinking out loud here; your objections are entirely welcome.

Maybe I can restate what seems odd to me. In the plainest possible language, if it is acceptable to say that God has existed "for all time," and that God has never existed in a time when the universe did not exist, then the universe must have existed "for all time" -- whatever we take that to mean.

B. Prokop said...

"then the universe must have existed "for all time" -- whatever we take that to mean."

Well, there is certainly a lot of "whatever" in that statement. Most people (perhaps not you), when they say "for all time", actually mean "from all time" which in turn translates to "is infinitely old" - which would be 100 percent wrong.

Yes, there is no time in which the universe did not exist (because time is part and parcel of the universe), but that does not equate to an infinite amount of time. The universe is not infinitely old - it had a definite beginning. You can only go so far back in time, and then there is no more time to go back into.

AdamHazzard said...

@B. Promos:

"The universe is not infinitely old -- it had a definite beginning."

From which I might infer that, if there was never a time when God existed and the universe did not, God also is not infinitely old and also had a definite beginning.

AdamHazzard said...

@G, Prokop

Sorry to misspell your name in the previous post. Autocorrect.

Ilíon said...

AdamHazzard: "Mmm...but if God and the physical universe are entirely co-temporal, shouldn't any purely temporal statement about one be equally true of the other?"

AdamHazzard: "Do you mean to say that there has in fact been a time at which God existed and the physical universe did not? Or are God and the universe wholly co-temporal?"

As I said earlier, "you're [incorrectly] thinking of time (and perhaps space) as some sort of container which contains God."

God is not "in" time (nor "in" space). As grodrigues put it, "God is a-temporal. Temporal statements about God, if meant literally, are not so much as false but meaningless." Such statements are category errors, "not even false" as the saying goes.

grodrigues said...

@Adam Hazzard:

"Which is a common objection to the second premise of the cosmological argument: The universe did not "begin to exist" in sense that you and I 'began to exist.'"

Yes it is a common objection, voiced by Grunbaum, Oppy and others (if I am not misremembering). It is also an objection that has been answered. At any rate, it is a different issue from the one you posed.

"In the plainest possible language, if it is acceptable to say that God has existed "for all time," and that God has never existed in a time when the universe did not exist, then the universe must have existed "for all time" -- whatever we take that to mean."

I am repoeating myself, but the argument is trading on an equivocation. To see where you are going wrong, your argument is parallel to the following argument:

(1) The universe exists at all moments in time.

(2) There was never a moment in time where the universe did not exist.

(3) The universe is eternal in the past.

Even if we take (1) and (2) as unobjectionable (which they are not, because arguably it gets the relation between time and the universe wrong), (3) does not follow from (1) and (2) as (1) and (2) are true for a universe finite in the past.

edit: B. Prokop beat me to it.

Ilíon said...

AdamHazzard: "From which I might infer that, if there was never a time when God existed and the universe did not, God also is not infinitely old and also had a definite beginning."

A person can infer anything if he insists upon including a false premise, in this case, a category error, in the propositions from which he is reasoning.

AdamHazzard said...

@Ilion:

"Temporal statements about God, if meant literally, are not so much false as meaningless."

Maybe language itself is inadequate. After all, "exist" is a tensed (innately temporal) verb; but we often hear the assertion that "God exists."

AdamHazzard said...

@grodriguez:

I see what you mean, and you're absolutely right, but that's not the argument I'm exploring. It would be more like:

(1) The universe exists at all moments in time.

(2) God exists at all moments in time.

(3) There is no moment in time at which God existed and the universe did not.

...which seems to have many potentially interesting implications.

B. Prokop said...

"From which I might infer..."

Well, you might so infer, but no one else is going to. Ilion said it first (in this conversation, at least), but I'll repeat him anyway. God is not "in" either time or space. Therefore, even the very question "How old is God?" has about as much meaning as "What color is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony?" (Or perhaps, "How high is up?") It is semantically null.

Eternity ≠ Infinite Time.

Ilíon said...

^ Of course language is inadequate. And yes, *all* our language is "innately temporal"; how can it be otherwise, since we are time-bound beings and time and temporal-sequence is to us of utmost significance?

"... but we often hear the assertion that "God exists.""

More properly, "God is". Statements such as "God is" and "God creates [the world]" are attempts to use the only language we have to express truths that surpass that language.

Ilíon said...

B.Prokop: Therefore, even the very question "How old is God?" has about as much meaning as ... "How high is up?"

A good analogy.


BTW, last night, in continuing to read a "History of the World" I'd bought some months ago, I ran across the name 'Prokop' (*) in relation to the particular time in Russian history being discussed.

(*) well, there was one of the Slavic endings on it, but I don't recall which.

AdamHazzard said...

@Ilion:

"...attempts to use the only language we have to express truths that surpass that language."

If you say so. Personally speaking, I'm content to leave the genuinely inexpressible unexpressed.

B. Prokop said...

"Prokop" is a storied and honorable name throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Its original form was probably close to today's Greek surname Procopius (the biographer of the Emperor Justinian). The name spread northward and eastward with the spread of Christianity into Slavic territories. Saint Prokop was one of the founders of Prague. there's a statue to him on the Karlův most in that city. (I had my picture taken standing under it back in 2002.)

Here in the USA, you'll find many so-called "Ellis Island Spellings" of the name. The illiterate immigrants getting off the boat were asked by barely literate clerks what their name was, and they wrote down what they heard. So you'll find today Prokop, Prokap, Prokup, Brokop (there is a popular country-western singer by the name of Lisa Brokop), etc. The richest family in Austria today are the Prokopps (the double p is no typo). When I was in Vienna, I (with no success) tried to present myself as a long-lost relative. No such luck.

Chris said...

"I'm content to leave the genuinely inexpressible unexpressed."

The mystical/contemplative tradtions agree.

"Be still and know that I am God."

grodrigues said...

@Adam Hazzard:

"I see what you mean, and you're absolutely right, but that's not the argument I'm exploring."

This is not an answer. Besides everything else that has been said, the parallel argument I gave uses premises you are committed to and the same logic you use, so if you accept one argument you are committed to accept the other. You have not given a reason why we should accept one and not the other. But the argument I gave is invalid, and so is the one you are exploring.

AdamHazzard said...

@grodriguez:

Thanks for your patience, which I hope I'm not imposing on. You say your (3) "The universe is eternal in the past," does not follow from (1) and your (2).

I agree. But I think my (3) -- "there is no moment in time at which God existed and the universe did not" -- does indeed logically follow from (1) and my (2).

You can certainly challenge (1) and (2). I think (1) ("the universe exists at all moments in time") is necessarily sound if time was created as an aspect of a singular universe. And I don't see how Christian theism can deny (2) ("God exists at all moments in time").

Dan Gillson said...

Not to interrupt a fascinating exchange, but theologian Robert Jensen attempts to connect the Trinity to time in such a way that Mr Hazzard would find interesting. I can't comment too much on what I've recommended because I've forgotten most of it now.

oozzielionel said...

Adam:
The implications may change if (2) God exists at all moments in time is consistent with a corollary (2a) God exists outside of time. Time would then become associated with the universe. The universe being eternal "in the past" then limits the existence of the universe to the eternal past that exists within the framework of time but not eternal beyond time. Only God then would be eternal beyond time.

Otherwise, it seems to be foundational that God is separate from the universe distinguishing creation and creator. It is an error of definition if both the universe and God are equally eternal.

B. Prokop said...

"(a+b^n)/n = x, therefore - God." (Leonhard Euler, to Denis Diderot)

Need one say more?

Joe Hinman said...

Who says the universe as a whole had a beginning? If we're talking about a zero-dimensional point at the moment of the Big Bang, that point could just as well have existed eternally in the past. There's no way to measure time when all existence is zero-dimensional.


our space/time is only universe we know exists ,the big bang says it has a beginning,

Likewise, there's no suggestion that the zero-dimensional point of existence had a cause.


singularity is not the universe, singularity is not an eternally existing thing,,



On the other hand, if today's universe emerged from a simple start, that does assume some kind of fundamental structure of spacetime. Joe Hinman asks what caused that, and so my suggestion is that such a fundamental structure of spacetime could itself be "necessary". Maybe there's only one way for dimensionality to happen at all.



then there's a God., Now we need to see if it knows we are here

grodrigues said...

@Adam Hazzard:

"Thanks for your patience, which I hope I'm not imposing on."

You are not imposing, do not worry about that. My patience is remarkably thin, but if I felt you were imposing I would simply not respond.

"You say your (3) "The universe is eternal in the past," does not follow from (1) and your (2).

I agree. But I think my (3) -- "there is no moment in time at which God existed and the universe did not" -- does indeed logically follow from (1) and my (2)."

I did not dispute that, and if I gave that impression my apologies. For your (3) to be false, it would have to be true that there was a moment of time at which the universe did not exist, which it is false as it would imply that moments of time existed without the universe existing. And since it is false to say that there is a moment of time at which God does not exist, its negation is true -- although here care is to be exercised, and the reason why I would "challenge" it, so as not to fall in equivocation, or in the reification of time, or in getting the temporal modalities wrong, or getting the relation between time and God backwards.

But nothing substantive follows from agreeing to this much, certainly nothing about the eternality of the universe as my parallel argument shows, which is the conclusion you wished to draw and the one I specifically denied. You need an extra premise to go from "God exists at all moments of time" to "The universe is eternal in the past", a premise that, needless to say, you will have a bit of a hard time justifying.

Jim S. said...

My two cents: God wills the universe to exist from eternity, but he can will from eternity that the universe be a temporal effect. In fact, that's the only way I can see a temporal universe existing. An eternal cause that wills the universe to exist simpliciter would cause the universe to exist from eternity as well. A temporal but infinite cause is an infinite regress, and runs into the problems of affirming an actual infinite amount. No cause at all would mean the universe never exists. So an eternal cause that chooses to cause the universe as a temporal effect is the only plausible pathway I see to a temporally finite universe like ours.

As for God's relationship to time, there's an interesting book edited by Gregory Ganssle that has Nicholas Wolterstorff, Alan Padgett, William Lane Craig, and Paul Helm defending different positions. If I recall, Wolterstorff argues that God has existed for an infinite amount of time, Padgett argues that prior to creating the universe God existed in an undifferentiated time, Craig argues that upon creating the universe God enters into time by virtue of his relationship with temporal beings, and Helm defends the traditional view that God exists in an eternal moment outside of time. I'm not sure if I remember Padgett's undifferentiated time correctly, but I think the idea there is that time doesn't flow in a constant stream, it's only when God chooses to do something that cause and effect take place, and so time occurs during that event. I remember finding that view very attractive. Craig's view can, I think, be summarized by saying that the first moment after the Big Bang was the first moment God existed -- not because God began to exist but because moments began to exist.

Joe Hinman said...

ethical naturalism part 3 final: Euthyphro

David Brightly said...

I'm not making the inferences that Grodrigues imputes to me. At least, not yet. I'm suggesting that we can find interpretations for the terms 'contingent being' and 'necessary being' under which the Shameless argument is sound, but that the interpretation of 'necessary being' is not God as conventionally conceived. Rather, the necessary being is the undifferentiated reservoir of world-stuff---air, water, soil, etc---from which contingent beings are fashioned. If this interpretation is acceptable we have to conclude that the Shameless argument, as a matter of logic (*), does not yield the metaphysically significant result that's claimed for it. To get to God we have to add further premises.

(*) Bob asks those of us that resist this kind of metaphysical argument to own up that 'logic has nothing whatsoever to do with their stance'. I guess I'm Humean enough to admit that logic has little to do with the motivation. But much to do with what is actually said.

grodrigues said...

Since David Brightly is not advancing any argument but merely "suggesting" that there could be some "interpretation" of the terms "contingent", "necessary", etc. that might, just maybe, yield the result that the contingency argument implies that some "undifferentiated world stuff" is a necessary being, which for all we know might, just maybe, be a different name for God, there is really nothing to answer, besides "suggesting" that it is nothing but a pipe-dream (besides betraying a good deal of confusion of how metaphysics is done).

I will however note the strategy, or a strategy since this move is typical, will fail. Necessarily (grin). Not wishing to tackle the argument head on, the move is to posit something that can play the role of necessary being and yet it is not God. Being naturalists (broadly speaking), John Moore opts to pick the top of the material order, the whole of the universe, while David Brightly opts for the bottom of the material order, and posits some fundamental "undifferentiated world-stuff". Whatever superficial plausibility such a move has is wholly owing to ignorance, in fact in positive defiance, of the original cosmological arguments, which do not stand in isolation but proceed through metaphysical argumentation to a necessary being. The whole of the natural order or any putative "undifferentiated world-stuff" are not the Aristotelean Unmoved Mover, are not the neo-Platonist The One, are not the Thomistic Subsistent Being Itself, etc. And given the unicity of the Umoved Mover, The One, Subsistent Being Itself, etc. they cannot be, or they are just a different name for God. It gets the modal properties wrong; it gets the ontological relations wrong. It is not just any old necessary being that is targeted by the argument -- both Aquinas and Leibniz are fairly explicit about this point. Aquinas, like any good old Aristotelean, is committed to the existence of "undifferentiated world-stuff; he names it prime matter, and it has a necessity of its own, but a derived or conditional one.

B. Prokop said...

David,

Thanks for correcting me. I should not have said "nothing whatsoever" but rather "not the primary motivation". If we had the ability to edit our comments, I would!

Cal Metzger said...

Shameless (and the argument): "To put it another way, you need something in Box B, or else you just get caught in a logical loop forever."

So?

B. Prokop said...

"So?"

Cal is obviously not a computer programmer.

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "Cal is obviously not a computer programmer."

Says the man who doesn't seem to know that being caught in an endless loop is probably the most common programming occurrence besides saying Hello to this world.

Ilíon said...

"[Cat] is obviously not a computer programmer."

Speaking as a computer programmer: "Gott sei dank!" We already have too many like him.

Ilíon said...

^^ See what I mean? Cat appears to imagine that the commonness of a mistake eliminates its nature as a mistake.

B. Prokop said...

"Cal appears to imagine that the commonness of a mistake eliminates its nature as a mistake."

Which may account for his denial of sin.

SteveK said...

"So?"

1) Nothing happens until something exists
2) Go to 1

grodrigues said...

@Ílion:

"Cat appears to imagine that the commonness of a mistake eliminates its nature as a mistake."

Actually, it is not a mistake in the following specific sense. The infinite loop is a fairly common idiom in programming languages. Event loops, (long lived) servers, etc. are idiomatically programmed by something like (in python-y pseudocode):

while True:
#Do something here

With some technical hypothesis I will leave out, it is possible to transform the above into an equivalent terminating program. It is very easy however (if you know a little computer science) to see what the problem Shameless is pointing out with his metaphor.

grodrigues said...

@Ilíon:

Ack, sorry misspelled your name.

Ilíon said...

^ Everyone does; usually as "ILLION"

Ilíon said...

When I was learning programming, lo those many decades ago, the go-to example of a common infinite loop was the instructions on a shampoo bottle:

1) Lather.
2) Rinse.
3) Repeat (i.e. go to step 1)

The point being that if a person interpreted-and-obeyed those instructions literally, he'd be stuck forever lathering and rinsing his hair, as the (literal) instructions provide no mechanism for ending the looped action.

SteveK said...

We're currently stuck in this infinite loop

1) A logical argument is given
2) Cal says "So?"
3) Repeat (i.e. go to step 1)

B. Prokop said...

Thank you for that, Steve! First time I've smiled since that 3-run homer in the bottom of the 11th last night.

bmiller said...

@ Ilíon,

The point being that if a person interpreted-and-obeyed those instructions literally, he'd be stuck forever lathering and rinsing his hair, as the (literal) instructions provide no mechanism for ending the looped action.

The real point is Buy More Shampoo.

Ilíon said...

@bmiller: Well, yes. But the "program" as written doesn't have a subroutine that allows the user to do that. I suppose one could say that as a "program", it would abend when the bottle is empty; so, in that sense, it wouldn't be an infinite loop, with the [bottle_is_empty] condition being and implicit (if rather "hard") termination of the loop.

@SteveK: LOL ... and grrrr: why didn't I think of that (after all, I'm the "meanie")?

Cal Metzger said...

So many problems.

The secret to the longevity of apologist "arguments" for god is that it seems like there's always more than one problem. It's hard to know where to start, and so I suppose most people just shrug their shoulders and walk away.

I can point out why I find the First Cause argument unpersuasive. Apologists can claim that they find it convincing.

What could possibly arbitrate this disagreement? What could it possibly be?

Oh, that's right.

Evidence.

B. Prokop said...

Huh? You have evidence that disproves the First Cause argument? This is news! Let's hear it!!

Or is saying the word "Evidence!"™ three times the equivalent of actually producing any? Does Beetlejuice appear?

SteveK said...

I look forward to seeing the evidence that everyone had been hiding from public view, Cal. You'll be famous for breaking ranks and exposing the truth.

Beetlejuice - haha!

Ilíon said...

Slightly OT -- here is an older post at Shamless Popery I'd bookmarked some years ago (it even mentions Our Host) The Single Best Argument Against Philosophical Materialism?

Cal Metzger said...

I shouldn't have to explain that evidence is what arbitrates disputes concerning arguments, theories, etc.

Just because you don't have any evidence for your metaphysical claims doesn't privilege them from rejection; it just means no one has any reason to take them seriously.


SteveK said...

Cal,
I shouldn't have to explain that your conclusion also applies to your statement. No one has reason to take it seriously.

Gyan said...

B Prokop, "you can"reasonably assert" that the universe began to exist 13.7 billion years ago (or whenever)."

The "age of the universe" as provided in the Big Bang picture is emphatically NOT the time since the universe begun to exist. Physics, by its very nature, can not pronounce on creation or coming-to-be of the universe.
Creation is not a topic in physics but in metaphysics.

Legion of Logic said...

Cal,

Do you dispute that there must be something that does not depend upon something else for its own existence? If so, please explain how anything exists if everything is contingent upon something else to exist.

Also, can you provide any evidence that not requiring scientific evidence for something to be considered true, is wrong?

Joe Heschmeyer said...

Cal,

I'm way behind in jumping in, so I hope you don't mind (I wrote the OP). When you demand "evidence," what are you looking for, specifically? Are you asking for some sort of physical evidence of a logical rule?

Saying that everything either is or isn't contingent (which is another way of saying that everything is either contingent or necessary) is a logical axiom. You can't do any sort of logical reasoning, including science, without having this sort of basic grasp of reality. So I'm not really sure what you're looking for. It would be like demanding "proof" that all integers are either even or odd. What physical proof would suffice to prove this? It's the sort of thing you know simply by understanding the terms "integer," "even," and "odd." So here with "existing things," "necessary," and "contingent."

I.X.,

Joe

Cal Metzger said...

Joe: "When you demand "evidence," what are you looking for, specifically?"

I'm not demanding it per se, as I understand this to be metaphysics. I'm pointing out that many of us don't take metaphysical speculation very seriously, and one reason for that is that it offers no process for determining what speculation is accurate.

An infinite regress is physically impossible! claims the metaphysician, therefore [insert here]. Without a means to test the claim that an infinite regress is indeed physically impossible the "therefore" kind of loses its power to persuade now, doesn't it?

Joe: "Saying that everything either is or isn't contingent (which is another way of saying that everything is either contingent or necessary) is a logical axiom. You can't do any sort of logical reasoning, including science, without having this sort of basic grasp of reality."

Actually, no -- I don't believe your above is a logical axiom -- it sounds like you mean something like the above borrows from the law of non-contradiction? Contingency seems to delve into causation, which I think is kind of a muddy term, and I don't think muddy terms do very well in logic, and certainly not in axioms.

Joe: "So I'm not really sure what you're looking for."

Well, when it comes to metaphysical speculation, at least an acknowledgment that these arguments, while interesting (otherwise I wouldn't have even commented here) have little force to convince because they rely on premises that can't be tested. (See: an infinite regress is physically impossible.) So when we send these arguments off into metaphysical land, and return them as if they have power to convince about reality in this world, I will point out that it looks like the argument has gone through a kind of fake cleansing.

Joe: "It would be like demanding "proof" that all integers are either even or odd. What physical proof would suffice to prove this?"

Well, for one, I think that mathematical proofs do serve this kind of function. But also mathematicians aren't making metaphysical claims -- they're making mathematical claims. In those cases where they observe math describing what happens in physical reality, they use these terms to make, well, physical claims. The difference being that these mathematicians (now physicists) are very convincing, and the reason is that they have evidence that supports their observation that some mathematics describes some of what we see in reality.

SteveK said...

"Well, when it comes to metaphysical speculation, at least an acknowledgment that these arguments, while interesting (otherwise I wouldn't have even commented here) have little force to convince because they rely on premises that can't be tested."

They can be tested logically. That's what this argument does.

Joe Heschmeyer said...

Cal,

In your comment, you're assuming that metaphysical claims are just speculative, but that's the very thing we're rejecting.

Would you say that it's just an "assumption" that integers are either even or odd? That claim has exactly as much physical "proof" as the claim that an existing this either is or isn't contingent.

I used "contingent" to refer to those things which "exist under certain conditions" and necessary for those things which "exist under all conditions." (I'm assuming that we can leave out those things that exist under no conditions, since they're non-existent, by definition). So would you agree that a thing that exists either exists under all conditions, or only under certain conditions? And that it can't be both or neither?

Saying that a thing either IS or ISN'T X (in this case, it either IS or ISN'T contingent; or if you prefer, that it IS or ISN'T necessary) is simply an expression of the law of non-contradiction. If 2 plus 2 is 4, it's not "not 4." If X is contingent, it's not non-contingent. If it's non-contingent, it's not contingent. For the sake of clarity, I refer to non-contingent things in the post as "necessary," since that's the technical term, and saves me from writing (and you from reading) a confusing string of negatives.

This principle of non-contradiction is literally at the foundation of all logical thought, and it's one of the first things that infants learn. But precisely because it's so basic, it can't be proven in any more basic way, leading the Muslim Aristotelian Avicenna to famously say, "Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned." His point (and I suspect he was speaking in jest) was that the law of non-contradiction is self-evident, and can't be "proven." To know what "not X" means is to know why it can't include "X."

Joe Heschmeyer said...

Also, you mentioned infinite regresses in your response. It's true that a physical infinite regress is impossible, but nothing in this argument relies upon that fact. It is sufficient to say that a contingent thing can't be the first cause, since a contingent thing is (by definition) reliant upon logically-prior conditions.

Think of a train. Contingent things are like train cars - they can't account for their own movement. What's needed is a non-contingent thing, capable of moving itself, as it were.... a train engine.

So even if it were possible to have an infinite number of train cars, you would still need a train engine to move all of them, since none of them (individually or collectively) can account for their own movement.

I.X.,

Joe

Cal Metzger said...

Joe: "Would you say that it's just an "assumption" that integers are either even or odd? That claim has exactly as much physical "proof" as the claim that an existing this either is or isn't contingent. "

Not sure what your point is here, but I disagree. Under a definition of "odd", one could place a number of objects in a bucket, then remove pairs of those objects, and test to see if a single object (or none) was left at the end of this process. So, no, I can imagine a real-world test that demonstrates whether or not a given integer is odd or even.

Joe Heschmeyer said...

Cal,

But proving that "a given integer" is even or odd wouldn't "prove" that all integers are even or odd. No physical test would.

Likewise, we can physically prove that a given thing is contingent. But that doesn't "prove" that all existing things are either contingent or necessary. No physical test would.

But that doesn't mean that either of these claim is "speculative."

Cal Metzger said...

Joe: "So would you agree that a thing that exists either exists under all conditions, or only under certain conditions? And that it can't be both or neither?"

Well, not to be difficult, but that kind of depends on your definition of "exists." Do numbers exist? How would numbers exist in a universe with nothing capable of abstraction? If we imagine numbers existing in a universe without sentient beings capable of abstracting them, then aren't we imagining necessity where there is none?

Joe: "For the sake of clarity, I refer to non-contingent things in the post as "necessary," since that's the technical term, and saves me from writing (and you from reading) a confusing string of negatives. "

I don't think the term "necessary" (technical as you may think it is) is a very clear or useful term, for reasons I touched on in my paragraph above.

Joe: "To know what "not X" means is to know why it can't include "X." "

On this I agree -- to be clear, I think that the law of non-contradiction is a (fundamental) axiom of logic (which is the building block of a tool that allows for abstraction).

bmiller said...

@Cal,

What do you think an infinite regress is? Can you give us an example of what you're referring to?

Kind of hard to explore if one of these is possible or not, unless you give an example.

grodrigues said...

"So, no, I can imagine a real-world test that demonstrates whether or not a given integer is odd or even."

We have officially entered the crank zone.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "What do you think an infinite regress is? Can you give us an example of what you're referring to? "

Turtles all the way down.

Cal Metzger said...

Joe: "But proving that "a given integer" is even or odd wouldn't "prove" that all integers are even or odd. No physical test would."

Correct on prove, and the limits of induction. But you originally asked,

Joe: "Would you say that it's just an "assumption" that integers are either even or odd? That claim has exactly as much physical "proof" as the claim that an existing this either is or isn't contingent."

I took you to mean that we have to assume that any given number is odd or even and that no physical evidence (proof) could exist to demonstrate otherwise. My reply was to show how one could "test" (physically) the question of whether or not a give number of objects was odd or even.

Joe: "Likewise, we can physically prove that a given thing is contingent."

I'm not sure what you mean by "physically prove that a given thing is contingent" -- can you give me an example of what you mean?

Joe: "But that doesn't "prove" that all existing things are either contingent or necessary. No physical test would."

And I agree about the "problem" of induction. But I don't see your point here yet -- can you restate what you think I'm getting wrong?

B. Prokop said...

The point is that, just as no possible evidence could ever prove that all integers are either even or odd (the evidence could only verify the evenness or oddness of a specific integer, but not of all integers), the idea of there being "evidence" that can (in your words) "arbitrate" the issue of contingency v necessity is simply not an option.

"I'm not sure what you mean by "physically prove that a given thing is contingent" -- can you give me an example of what you mean?"

Cal is the child of two parents. Therefore we can demonstrate that he is contingent (upon their prior reality).

Our Sun is the product of a gaseous interstellar cloud having been "shocked" by a nearby supernova into collapsing upon itself. Therefore we can demonstrate that the Sun is contingent upon there having been a now extinct star that went supernova some 5 billion years ago.

bmiller said...

@Cal,

"You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"

OK, that's something I did not know. Cal is really a little old lady :-)

Ilíon said...

"Cal is really a little old lady :-)"

With cats? Or who denies cats?

grodrigues said...

"With cats? Or who denies cats?"

The cats have all been skinned. By the old lady. Cal that is.

Ilíon said...

^ Who wears their skins (à la Meso-American priests) and calls herself "Cat".

Victor Reppert said...

Is the law of noncontradiction based on evidence? Since you accept it, and it cannot be based on evidence (no evidence for or against it is imaginable) does that mean that there is something you accept without evidence?