Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Keith Parsons

Keith Parsons, a longtime personal friend of some 40 years, and teaches at the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Because of Harvey, I am concerned, since he has not responded to my e-mail. Jeff Lowder thinks he is in a shelter somewhere without internet access.

He may be an atheist, but he is in my prayers.

261 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 261 of 261
Hugo said...

Steve,

While reading this exchange, I keep thinking of another question. Regardless of who is right, you or SP, or even assuming SP is wrong if you want, how can we prove that something, or someone, omniscient exist. Or even could exist?

i.e. it seems to me that SP is arguing that an omniscient being cannot exist. And if it did exist, it would give us only an illusion of freewill. Let's say he's wrong, we have free will and it's possible there's something omniscient. What are the reasons to believe such a thing exist?

Steve Lovell said...

Hi Hugo,

Your questions are good ones, but not really on topic here. Plus I have enough on my hands with SP. There are many threads on this blog which address your questions, and of course many books have been written.

However, perhaps Victor, if he's still following this thread, will start another discussing this issue.

Bilbo said...

John will freely choose to eat Cheerios tomorrow.
God knows that John will freely choose to eat Cheerios tomorrow.
Therefore, John must freely choose to eat Cheerios tomorrow.

Would that about sum up the current state of the debate?

Hugo said...

Steve,
It's not like you have a duty to reply to everything here so your response is amusing... but you missed the points of my last question. Not only am I interested in knowing what your personal answer would be, but it also meant to show the absurdity of that conversation going on for so long, given that you both will either agree or, more likely, disagree on the next step anyway.

Hugo said...

Not only am I interested in knowing what your personal answer would be...
(And not just some answer from some book; we can find that about anything)

Steve Lovell said...

Thanks Hugo,

I had indeed missed that your comment was also a comment on the value of the discussion itself. Though regardless of the outcome, I don't think it's quite so absurd. If SP's argument were sound it would show Orthodox Christian beliefs to be outright wrong. As such, I think it is incumbent on the Christian to at least have something to say in response.

Although you point out that I'm not obliged to respond, it's always a difficult thing to stop and there is a Biblical mandate here too:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.(2 Corinthians 10 v 5)

On the other hand, there is also good Biblical grounds for stopping. I have in mind Proverbs 26v4, 29v9 and Matthew 7v6.

I'm not too sure why my own views on these things should be of such interest. I'm one voice amongst many, and I'd be surprised if you couldn't find a better guide than me. But, since you ask, let's see ...

To begin, I find I am again not entirely sure what you're asking. From context perhaps you mean to ask specifically about belief in God's omniscience and in human free will. That's where I've gone with the following ...

Belief in free will is common sense (and not finding arguments against it very convincing). However there is also the fact that it plays a significant role in most responses to the problem of evil. Admittedly, that'd be a somewhat backwards reason to believe in it to begin with.

Omniscience is more messy. Mostly, it's accepted on (Biblical) authority and tradition. However, I think the Ontological argument and "perfect being theology" may be of assistance here. I also think many Christians would speak of this being attested in "religious experience". I mean experiences of being "laid bare" before God and yet also (not necessarily in the same experience, but sometimes) of being loved unconditionally despite our faults. I guess there are other considerations too, but that's what comes to mind. Admittedly, most of this would only make sense "from inside the fold". That makes crossing over somewhat problematic if you want to have it all worked out first ... but in my experience it seldom works that way.

Steve Lovell said...

Bilbo, that silly-gism certainly reflects many of issues! Not sure SP will think it's quite as fair as I do, though.

Legion of Logic said...

Basically Stardusty is saying that it is impossible to know ahead of time that someone will freely choose something. "Foreknowledge about someone's free choice" is equivalent in his mind to a married bachelor. Either foreknowledge is impossible or free will is impossible, can't have both.

While that is certainly an assertion one can make, its defense has yet to become compelling. "Foreknowledge, which forces the choices in question to come about" is quite different conceptually than "Foreknowledge, the content of which is based upon the choices people will make". The former is active, the latter is dependent. The former is deterministic, the latter is not, in terms of the relationship between the foreknowledge and choices.

It's basically the difference between "Because foreknowledge of X, then choice X" and "Because choice X, then foreknowledge of X". Reading the script ahead of time and knowing what people in a movie will do is different than writing the script and ensuring the people follow the script.

Steve Lovell said...

Well said, Legion.

That's exactly why the "conditionally necessary" conclusion is not good enough to entail determinism. The knowledge depends on the thing known and not vice-versa. That's why it's not legitimate to insist on holding it fixed and why we can "bracket" that as I expressed it earlier.

If we don't think of God as outside of time, God's foreknowledge depending on the thing known does have the "side effect" that God's foreknowledge involves a kind of backwards causation. But I don't see that as problematic in this case, and nor should SP who says the "mechanism" by which God knows the future is not relevant.

It's either an absolute necessity in the conclusion but via invalid argument or an conditional necessity in the conclusion with no implication of determinism (or at least not a kind which would threaten free will).

I think to be consistent, SP would need to endorse the argument from future truths to determinism also, but he's still to come clean on that.

Hugo said...

Thanks for your answer Steve.
Basically, your views matter to me because I am more interested in hearing answers from people I can have a conversation with, rather than just reading books from authors I cannot interact with.

You said:
"Though regardless of the outcome, I don't think it's quite so absurd."
Right, not entirely useful, but it seems to me that at some point it makes to say 'ok, let's agree to disagree and move on' or 'let's say we agree, what's next?' It seems to me that you guys reached that point days ago, that's all...

"From context perhaps you mean to ask specifically about belief in God's omniscience and in human free will."
I am more curious about omniscience than free will. The latter is kind of a done deal for me and it does not seem to matter much whether we have actual 'libertarian' free will or just the illusion of free will. Either way, we act as if we have it.

Regarding omniscience, the problem I have is the same as with anything that is 'omni' something, or something that is eternal in some way. It just seems impossible to me to justify the existence of any of these things. Not that it's impossible for them to exist, just impossible to prove, given that we cannot demonstrate something to be infinite. Your answer thus does make sense, even though I don't find it convincing. It seems to be one of these things that is consistent with the idea that people have of God; not something that can be explicitly justified.

StardustyPsyche said...

Legion of Logic said.. September 18, 2017 2:01 PM.

" Basically Stardusty is saying that it is impossible to know ahead of time that someone will freely choose something. "Foreknowledge about someone's free choice" is equivalent in his mind to a married bachelor."
--A married bachelor is impossible by definition. Foreknowledge about someone's free choice is impossible by rational analysis of a time sequence of events, during which definitions are needed for clarity of argument.

" Either foreknowledge is impossible or free will is impossible, can't have both."
--Yes, that fact is the result of sound analysis.

" While that is certainly an assertion one can make, its defense has yet to become compelling. "Foreknowledge, which forces the choices in question to come about" is quite different conceptually than "Foreknowledge,"
--Foreknowledge does not by itself force determinism, nor is the omniscient one necessarily manipulating events to bend them to his will or prediction. Perfect foreknowledge simply indicates that some mechanism for determinism must be the case.


" It's basically the difference between "Because foreknowledge of X, then choice X"
--Because of foreknowledge of X only X can occur in the future. Since the future is already pre-determined the future is deterministic.

" and "Because choice X, then foreknowledge of X"."
--Computers make choices. If p then do q, if not p then do r. Choices that are pre-determined are deterministic.

" Reading the script ahead of time and knowing what people in a movie will do is different than writing the script and ensuring the people follow the script."
--Not for an omniscient god. When god reads the script today there is no question that the people will follow the script tomorrow. Their scripted actions are pre-determined by some means as evidenced by the fact that god perfectly foretold their actions and the next day those precise actions did in fact occur. The actors could not possibly do anything off script.

The actors can sense that they are making decisions, just as a computer can monitor its own decision making. Because humans are not consciously aware of most brain activity the origin of these decisions is mysterious and humans report the sensation that their decisions are somehow "free".

In fact, on an omniscient god, every decision was inevitable and could not possibly have been anything other that what god foretold, making determinism the case and free will thereby an illusion.

Legion of Logic said...

Stardusty: " Foreknowledge about someone's free choice is impossible by rational analysis of a time sequence of events"

Unsupported assertion.


Stardusty: "Perfect foreknowledge simply indicates that some mechanism for determinism must be the case."

While determinism could be the case, foreknowledge itself does not necessarily indicate it. All it entails is that future choices can be seen in the same manner as past choices - essentially remembering the future. And much like our memories of the past, this knowledge of the choices does not make them unable to be freely made.


Stardusty: "Because of foreknowledge of X only X can occur in the future. Since the future is already pre-determined the future is deterministic."

Because someone is going to choose X of his own free will, someone with foreknowledge knows he is going to choose X. That is all foreknowledge entails. If the foreknowledge could have been different based on someone choosing Y instead of X, there is no determinism. Determinism would entail that the person must choose X because someone with foreknowledge has foreseen it, rather than the other way around. If the choice is based on the foreknowledge, then determinism. If the foreknowledge is based on the choices that will be made, then not determinism.


Stardusty: "Computers make choices"

In the same manner that water flows downhill - if sloped, then flow. We do not normally call that a choice, however.


Stardusty: "Choices that are pre-determined are deterministic."

A predetermined choice is identical to a married bachelor, as predetermination is an active force on the outcome while foreknowledge is passive. Choices are dependent upon predetermination, foreknowledge is dependent upon choices. Choices that are known by a second party ahead of time are not influenced by the second party, thus those choices are not predetermined. Do you even believe the word "choice" describes a valid concept?


Stardusty: "When god reads the script today there is no question that the people will follow the script tomorrow."

If God knows what they will choose, then that is correct. Of course, perfect foreknowledge is always correct, giving the illusion of determinism, but actually the foreknowledge is dependent upon the choices made unless active influence is also asserted to make things come about a certain way. Foreknowledge itself does not entail determinism.


Stardusty: "The actors can sense that they are making decisions, just as a computer can monitor its own decision making.

An actor accurately following a script is not making decisions beyond ensuring his behavior conforms with the script. Computers do not make decisions any more than magnets decide to attract metal.


"Because humans are not consciously aware of most brain activity the origin of these decisions is mysterious and humans report the sensation that their decisions are somehow "free"."

If that means you think subconscious brain activity involved prior to a conscious decision means there is no free will, then that's a huge leap. Not being consciously aware of all brain activity does not mean whatever is happening overrides the decision-making they are aware of. The milliseconds of subconscious activity leading to our conscious thinking is simply part of the decision-making process - it's not some magical outside force making us choose things against our will. Experiments have shown that the background subconscious brain activity can even be overridden by conscious actions, within the limits of human reaction speed. The burden of proof is on the one claiming free will is an illusion, as I freely make choices every day.

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

Legion, that's a great explanation of foreknowledge too. I think it shows why it's logically possible to have freewill simultaneously.

However, what's your reasoning to believe that something can be, or even is, capable of foreknowledge?

Regarding freewill itself, the fact that we make choices is compatible with freewill being an illusion. So you're wrong on that one, regardless of what is actually true.

It's interesting what happens here. Two different claims, about freewill and omniscience, and 3 of the 4 possible combinations of beliefs.

The missing one is: omniscience is impossible and we have genuine freewill.
Any taker?

Steve Lovell said...

Hi Hugo,

You ask "The missing one is: omniscience is impossible and we have genuine freewill.
Any taker?"

Depending on what is understood by omniscience, this might be thought to describe the Open Theism position, though I think most Open Theists would reject that description. If Omniscience necessarily includes knowledge of the future, then it does describe Open Theism, but the Open Theists will say that there are no truths about (the contingent aspects of) the future, and so there are no truths which God doesn't know and so in that sense God is still omniscient.

As for reasoning to believe that something can be omniscient (where we are thinking that the problematic part is knowledge of the future), I find the idea that God is "outside time" helpful. I am increasingly drawn to the model of time on which time is primarily an internal dimension of the physical universe which we use to measure change. This is admittedly puzzling, and I find it hard to see how this can do justice to the experience of the flow or passing of time. But it's a view held by many, and if it's coherent, then even if it isn't true it may help show that it is possible for God to know the future.

On that model, God simply stands "alongside" the temporal series. If this is coherent, it seems entirely reasonable to suppose that God could know all of time, including the parts which, from the inside, appear to us (at a particular time) as future.

At work just now, but will add more on belief in the "omni" attributes later.

Steve Lovell said...

Now on my lunch break ... So, those Omni-attributes ...

God's moral attributes have an obvious relation to the moral argument.
God's intellectual attributes have an obvious relation to the design argument.
God's power also has an obvious relation to the design argument, and indeed to the cosmological argument.

I've always found the moral argument one of the more persuasive of the arguments of natural theology, and with that in mind, I think it's not too difficult to see that if God is required for morality to make sense, then God must be regarded as at least morally perfect.

There are arguments out there which attempt to show that if God has any attribute then He must have that attribute to the maximum possible degree. I personally have never found those arguments very persuasive, but perhaps some of our resident Thomists can make those arguments plausible. To be honest, I'm not terribly fussy about God's omnipotence. As long as God is conceived as being immensely powerful and more power, by orders of magnitude, than anything else taken either individually or collectively, then I'm happy that orthodoxy is being upheld.

However, it seems to me that a slightly different approach might be possible in relation to Omniscience. In some recent threads here on DI there was discussion about the nature of truth, and the intuitions which drive Anti-Realism. For my part I find some of what the pragmatists write very persuasive. On the other hand I also have strong realist leanings. Everything in me cries out the the conclusions which the pragmatists reach are fundamentally wrong, and yet their argument are very difficult to fault (well, it depends which pragmatists and which arguments, but you get the idea). Theism offers a means to honour both sides of this debate.

If truth, and indeed "fact", is fundamentally mental, then all truth must ultimately have a relation to some mind or minds. And if I'm talking about all truth then ideas of omniscience are not far to seek.

Fundamentally, this is similar to how I was using the moral argument ... but rather than God providing the standard of moral perfection, here He provides the standard of intellectual perfection. His mind gives real content to the Pragmatists understanding of truth as that towards which our enquiries reach.

This is, of course, merely suggestive, and I do not have the details worked out. Moreover, it's not a theme which comes up in discussions on the Philosophy of Religion within the analytic tradition, so I'm not even sure who else has thought along these lines. I'd guess I'd find some support from Bishop Berkeley and perhaps others in the Idealist school. Any ideas anyone?

I dare say that it may be possible to use the AfR in a relatively similar way.

That'll have to do for now.

Legion of Logic said...

Hugo: "However, what's your reasoning to believe that something can be, or even is, capable of foreknowledge?"

I'll preface my answer with my foundation - I believe the universe is a creation and not a "just because" phenomenon. Thus, when approaching the question, I have in mind "a being capable of creating a universe" which isn't itself composed of the stuff of the universe (matter/energy). So to think of it like a powerful human who knows things isn't really accurate, any more than it would be accurate to ponder what it's like to be an ant and imagine it to be similar to human perception except smaller. We don't have a clue what it's like to be an ant, and we don't have a clue what it's like to be a god.

Steve touched on it in his post above mine, but from a mechanistic perspective, being outside of our spacetime (necessary for the one who created that spacetime) indicates it is "looking down" on the entirety of space and time. It can see all sides of space and it can see all sides of time. Now there are theories out there disputing the notion of spacetime by saying there isn't really anything like "time" but rather there is measurable ordered change. I don't know the math obviously, nor the in-depth arguments in favor of each, but on the surface that seems reasonable. If so, an initial quick musing would seem to shoot down being capable of witnessing the future based on an outside location if in fact time is an illusion derived from observing change and remembering prior states.

From a non-mechanistic perspective (and keeping in mind my reasoning on the subject is contingent upon prior beliefs), the creator of the universe is beyond our comprehension, so to say that since we can't know the future then neither can the creator, does not follow. Something not made of the stuff of the universe (and thereby not bound by the rules of that stuff) who has the power to create a universe, could easily have abilities that are simply not possible for us inside the universe.

Now, can I demonstrate logically that this creator possesses foreknowledge? Nope, I'm not capable of that, particularly since this is a rather new topic for me. As Steve said, Thomists have arguments of that sort, but I don't know any of them. I have other reasons for believing the truth of Christianity, so accepting God's foreknowledge is something that follows. Convincing someone else of the truth or existence of foreknowledge is far beyond my capabilities.


Hugo: "Regarding freewill itself, the fact that we make choices is compatible with freewill being an illusion. So you're wrong on that one, regardless of what is actually true."

As I've said, this is a fairly new topic for me, so I don't know many particulars of arguments for or against. Having no free will would seem to eliminate the concept of choice, relegating us instead to water that thinks it has decided to flow downhill as if it freely made the decision but could have done otherwise. My apologies if you have already addressed it in this thread, but could you either elaborate on how lack of free will is compatible with choice, or recommend a good resource that lays the argument out elsewhere?

Hugo said...

Hi Steve,
"If truth, and indeed "fact", is fundamentally mental, then all truth must ultimately have a relation to some mind or minds. "
Ya that's the important point here in my opinion. And that's what I will never, ever agree with. We just know too much about how humans came to be for that kind of statement to make sense. The way Victor expressed his disagreement here is that the mental is assumed to exist, first, so it's not even in question. Because I assume the material exists, first, truths and facts are merely descriptive.

Hugo said...

Hi Legion,
"I'll preface my answer with my foundation - I believe the universe is a creation and not a "just because" phenomenon. Thus, when approaching the question, I have in mind "a being capable of creating a universe" which isn't itself composed of the stuff of the universe (matter/energy)."
That's consistent with everything you write, but this is a wrong assumption in my opinion. And it has to be an assumption since we have literally no way of determining whether the universe we're in always existed or not. 'Creation' implies it did not.

"As I've said, this is a fairly new topic for me, so I don't know many particulars of arguments for or against. Having no free will would seem to eliminate the concept of choice, relegating us instead to water that thinks it has decided to flow downhill as if it freely made the decision but could have done otherwise. My apologies if you have already addressed it in this thread, but could you either elaborate on how lack of free will is compatible with choice, or recommend a good resource that lays the argument out elsewhere?"

Obviously not an expert myself at all, but I don't think we need to be for these topics. This is really a matter of opinion at the end of the day. We can refer to experts to help with the language I guess, but we can find experts to support almost any opinion here. The one I always quote is Sam Harris as I think his views are closest to mine, identical when it comes to freewill. On a recent podcast, he re-iterated his views on what he means by the 'illusion of the self' and that touches upon freewill. Looks like there's a more recent one I have not listened to that may be even more relevant: The Nature of Consciousness.

The theory is pretty simple to explain though, and that might be in part why I find it so compelling. We are not the author of our thoughts; we are merely able to react, or not, on these thoughts that come to our attention. That's why it's so hard to not think. We are constantly bombarded by our own stream of thoughts. i.e. meditation is hard. What this means is that we are not a 'thinker of thought', we are a body, a person experiencing the consequences of the super complex network of neurons and their connections to our physical body. The only thing we can really 'choose' is binary: act or not. And even then, we cannot always choose...

Hugo said...

p.s. and if you have not watched this yet...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCofmZlC72g

Steve Lovell said...

Hi Hugo,

Your response may remain unchanged, but in trying to be brief I think I expressed myself pretty poorly in my comments about Anti-Realism. My mention of Bishop Berkeley may have been especially misleading.

The kind of Anti-Realism I have in mind is to be found in modern writers who are perhaps amongst the least sympathetic to anything "non-naturalist". I'm thinking of pragmatists such as Nelson Goodman and Richard Rorty, existentialists such as Sartre, and elements of the work of W.V.O. Quine.

I flip back and forth on how convincing I find these writers, but I think much of what they say is fundamentally right. The basic idea is that material reality is in a constant state of flux, with fixed boundaries being few-to-none. Natural kinds, if they exist at all, are limited to the elements of fundamental physics, which arguably we don't know (and at that level of physics, the instrumentalist interpretations of science seem to me very plausible).

Truths are expressed in language and that language inevitably attempts to categorise reality using concepts which need not marry with the underlying structure of things. We categorise according to our own human purposes, and if we approach the world with different purposes we'll find very different categories useful. At a descriptive level, this might be a relatively harmless form of relativity. However, when it comes to prediction and prescription, it isn't clear that it's quite so neutral. Take for example society's current difficulties over "gender-fluidity". Other interesting cases with a philosophical twist are the relationship between "folk-psychology" and neuroscience. If Eliminative materialism (since you mention him, I'm not sure where Sam Harris fits into such discussions) is right and minds as normally "conceived" simply don't exist then it's not at all clear that we're really talking about a "harmless relativity".

Doubtless I still haven't expressed this well. It's high-time I re-read Goodman's Ways of Worldmaking.

Now, for the theistic slant which isn't really found in the authors I mentioned earlier (except perhaps as a possibility which they reject):

It seems to me that in the face of the above, epistemic confidence relies on a naturalistically weird congruence between our purposes (and abilities) and the underlying structure of reality. Well, either that, or rejecting the "matter first" view of things. Which, on reflection, really is another way of expressing the AfR. See also those discussions on "the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics".

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

Your first link to the Sam Harris podcast was labled "The Limits of Persuasion".
Are you sure you meant to link that one? Doesn't seem to have much to do with free will.

Hugo said...

Yes that's the right podcast. It's an interesting chat with the guys from Bad Wizards. They cover a lot of topics. The so-called illusion of the self is discussed in the last 3rd I think...

bmiller said...

OK. That's about where I left off since they were discussing everything but that topic.

Hugo said...

Ya these podcasts are quite long!

bmiller said...

It seems that around the 1:40 mark the discussion of consciousness and self identity begins and then in the context of buddhism.

I wonder if you read the piece by P.M.S. Hacker from the other thread linked by Hal. The point of the paper is that since Descartes and the early moderns that philosophy has invented a mind-body problem that did not previously exist. As such modern philosophy finds itself in a muddle.

StardustyPsyche said...

Steve Lovell said...

" If you re-read you latest you'll see that it contains nothing of substance beyond two assertions provided without support." ..."That your conclusion,"
--You just contradicted yourself. My conclusion followed a substantial amount of rational argumentation and step by step time sequence analysis.

I'm sorry you cannot remember that fact and that you contradict yourself by acknowledging a conclusion but you somehow don not recall the very detailed explanations I provided above for that conclusion.

"When your best shot is attempting to cast doubt on whether I have a PhD in philosophy, which is a matter of public record, things aren't looking good. I can send you a copy of my certificate if you like, and you can find a copy of my thesis in the British Library."
--Yes, please post it here, or a direct link to it.

Steve Lovell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Lovell said...

Stardusty,

If this is the level to which the defence of your position has sunk, that position is in serious difficulties.

SP: "Yes, please post it here, or a direct link to it."
Me: I think you meant a link to the certificate, which of course I will not provide, but you may get some assistance here. In case you meant a link to my thesis, it's available here.

StardustyPsyche said...

Steve Lovell said...

Stardusty,

" If this is the level to which the defence of your position has sunk, that position is in serious difficulties."
--Indeed your level has sunk to merely denying I have provided support for my assertions. You can fairly say you disagree with my arguments, but your characterization "nothing of substance beyond two assertions provided without support" is manifestly absurd.

SP: "Yes, please post it here, or a direct link to it."
" Me: I think you meant a link to the certificate, which of course I will not provide,"
--You said " I can send you a copy of my certificate if you like,". You you won't do what you just said you would do. It's one thing for you to ignore hundreds upon hundreds of my words and claim I did not provide such, but you seem to have trouble recalling your own words provided just a few days prior.


" but you may get some assistance here. "
--That is not a certificate you offered to send.

"In case you meant a link to my thesis, it's available here."
--I didn't say anything about a thesis.

In case you are not aware, the internet is full of phonies. One guy here who goes by the handle SteveK claimed outright he is a mechanical engineer, what a laugh. He does not even know that "measurable" and "finite" are not synonyms. Mechanical engineers work with measurements every day, that's what they do, yet this phony fails to understand this basic fact and many other basics of math and physics.

Another phony is grodriguez, claims to be a mathmatical physicist. He tries to bolster that claim by occasionally doing a copy and past job from some article off the internet that contains a lot of technical jargon. He rarely makes any actual arguments, mostly just stopping by to tell people how stupid their arguments are and how he doesn't have the time to teach them about their errors, then he leaves.

So here you are, for all we know you just latched onto some name you found on line and you are really some guy in the outback, who knows? Your ability to follow a time sequence of events argument is very low, and your writing style is scattered, diffuse, and tends to trail off on various tangents while you have difficulty focusing on the core of the my argument or making a concise argument of your own.

Those traits by themselves would not disqualify you from being a theistic philosophy PhD, since theistic philosophers typically suffer from those shortcomings.

StardustyPsyche said...



I have indeed concluded that
Omniscience mandates determinism
Determinism rules out free will

Rather than falsely asserting that I have not supported those claims I suggest you think much more carefully and rigorously with respect to the somewhat voluminous support I have in fact provided. In particular, I urge you to expend more effort on staying focused, instead of letting your mind wander about such that you remain effectively unable to follow a stepwise time sequence of events argument.

In particular the time traveler who observes free choices argument does not work.

Suppose god chisels in stone today what I will do tomorrow.
Time passes, so tomorrow arrives.
What choices do I have? Can I possibly do anything other that what is chiseled in stone? Since my actions must conform to something already engraved in stone in what sense could they possibly be free? I can only do 1 thing, the thing chiseled in stone.

You may fancifully speculate that god can somehow go flitting about time like a butterfly from flower to flower, but I live in my time. I must follow my time ordered progression, and so does Alice.

Suppose Alice reads the engraving and has a camera positioned to monitor my actions. She places bets with Bob. Alice says "I bet 100 USD SP will make a right turn at the next traffic light. She wins that bet. Alice says "I bet 1000 USD SP will choose pistachio ice cream. She wins that bet. Alice says "I bet 10000 SP will call his sister in 2.5 minutes". Alice wins that bet. Bob says "I will not place any more bets with you because there is only 1 thing SP can do, which is exactly what you say he will do".

There must be some mechanism driving me to do the things I do, like a computerized robot that makes choices based on inputs, but not free choices. The choices of a robot are not free, even though they take the form of if X then do Y else do Z. If there is no mechanism for me to do what I do then Alice would often be wrong. If I could randomly choose any old thing at any time then the stone script would typically be wrong, but it is 100% correct.

My future is pre-determined as indicated on the stone. I cannot fail to do in my time what is already indicated on the stone.

In a pre-determined sequence there is no freedom. Every action is scripted and the script is followed to perfection.

My actions are pre-determined and therefore deterministic. That's what deterministic means, pre-determined. That pre-determination is by whatever means is proved by the existence of the script in stone.

Steve Lovell said...

Stardusty,

I'm afraid I'm losing interest. I didn't say that you hadn't provided any argument. I said that the post you had just made provided none. There's a difference and it isn't hard to understand.

I also didn't say I'd post a link to my certificate. I said I could send a copy. But I don't have an address (physical or electronic) to which to send it. If you refuse on the basis of privacy to provide those, that's quite understandable. But then surely it's just as understandable that I'm not putting up a link to my certificate online?

Of your two latest comments the first provides no argument and is in effect an lengthy ad-hominem attack, the second is better but says nothing new.

Why does it follow, from "God wrote this in stone" that "I cannot do anything but this"?

If God chose to reveal what we'll do tomorrow, then we of course would do whatever it is that he reveals we'll do. But it doesn't follow that we couldn't have done anything else only that we will not. It's the only thing consistent with what God knows, but God would have known something different (and presumably revealed something different) if it were the case that we were going to do something different.

Legion of Logic put these points very clearly.

And despite the fact that we're clearly going round in circles, you've still failed to answer my question about the argument from determinism from the mere existence of future truths (and without reference to God).

StardustyPsyche said...

Steve Lovell said.. September 23, 2017 8:35 AM.

" I'm afraid I'm losing interest. "
--That commonly happens when a person's assertions have been shown to be false.

"I didn't say that you hadn't provided any argument. I said that the post you had just made provided none. There's a difference and it isn't hard to understand."
--Is there a substantial difference? Do you suppose I ought to repost every argument I have made every time I repost a conclusion? Does one post the derivation every time a theorem is stated?

" I also didn't say I'd post a link to my certificate. I said I could send a copy."
--Ok, then send it here.

" But I don't have an address (physical or electronic) to which to send it. If you refuse on the basis of privacy to provide those, that's quite understandable. But then surely it's just as understandable that I'm not putting up a link to my certificate online?"
--No, that is not understandable at all, does the certificate have your address on it? Every diploma I have seen merely states the institution, field of study, name, and date. You already provided a link to a thesis that has that sort of information embedded in it.

How about a redacted version then if yours is the unique sort of certificate that has your address on it?

" Of your two latest comments the first provides no argument and is in effect an lengthy ad-hominem attack,"
--Is it an invalid ad-hominem attack to point out the lies of liars? Is it invalid to express doubt regarding the personal and unverified claims that are made?

StardustyPsyche said...

Steve Lovell said.. September 23, 2017 8:35 AM.


" Why does it follow, from "God wrote this in stone" that "I cannot do anything but this"?"
--Once god writes X today I cannot fail to do X tomorrow.

" If God chose to reveal what we'll do tomorrow, then we of course would do whatever it is that he reveals we'll do. But it doesn't follow that we couldn't have done anything else only that we will not. "
--Here is where your time sequence analysis breaks down. Craig and a great many otherwise highly intelligent people have the same problem. It might be related to academic training in logic wherein arguments are typically considered atemporally.

Do you happen to have any experience with electromechanical relay circuits versus programmable logic controllers? The schematic diagram can be written the same for both, but the logic of the electric circuit is activated virtually simultaneously, whereas the PLC solves the logic sequentially. This difference between simultaneous versus sequential solution leads to large differences in logical outcomes.

Suppose I had chosen Y tomorrow instead. Then god will write Y today and in that case I must do Y tomorrow.

Suppose I choose Z tomorrow, then god will write Z today and once god writes Z today I must do Z tomorrow.

This is a time sequence of events analysis, not a static atemporal interactive logical matrix analysis.

Once any particular thing is written today I must do that thing tomorrow. God always writes a particular thing today, so I must always do tomorrow whatever is pre-determined today.

"It's the only thing consistent with what God knows, but God would have known something different (and presumably revealed something different) if it were the case that we were going to do something different."
--In which case I would be pre-determined to do that different thing. You may imagine this idle speculation of a time traveling god if you wish. But I must progress in a time sequence of events. Whatever god writes today is the thing I must do tomorrow.

Your error is in not thinking through this sequence, merely stopping at " God would have known something different". Continue on from that point in a more thorough analysis. Even if god knows P instead, then he writes P today and I must do P tomorrow.

Yes, I make decisions, but if those decisions are known today then tomorrow they are robotic decisions, merely the execution of a pre-determined mechanism.


" And despite the fact that we're clearly going round in circles, you've still failed to answer my question about the argument from determinism from the mere existence of future truths (and without reference to God)."
--I hesitate to answer some questions such as this because you have not yet developed the time sequence analytical skills needed to reach sound conclusions on such matters.

I urge you to think much more carefully about time based actions step by step and follow it through with several iterations instead of stopping at a single alternative temporal reversal as the typical theist does.

If god writes X today I must do X tomorrow.
If god writes Y today I must do Y tomorrow.
If god writes Z today I must do Z tomorrow.
Whatever particular thing god writes today I must do tomorrow.
God will always write some particular thing today.
Therefore, I must always do tomorrow whatever particular thing god writes today.
Therefore, whatever particular thing I do tomorrow is pre-determined as indicated by what god wrote today.
Thus my future is entirely pre-determined as indicated by what god writes today.

Steve Lovell said...

Stardusty,

You write that Craig and I rejecting your argument "might be related to academic training in logic". Well, here we appear to agree. I realise I've quoted selectively here, but I think it's worth repeating that you still seem to be setting yourself up against the philosophical establishment in your "understanding" of validity.

My difficulty with your argument isn't that it's a "temporal sequence" is that the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises.

Logical relations do obtain timelessly. Now, you can create logically valid arguments about things which themselves involve tensed facts and temporal sequences, but the logical relations involved would still obtain timelessly.

That hasn't happened in this case. You either have an invalid argument for the conclusion you wish to reach or a valid argument to a harmless conclusion.

Facts about what is the case at t1 do not entail facts about what is the case at t2 without some sort of bridge to connect the two. Moreover, even with such a bridge the facts at t2 would only be "necessary" if the facts at t1, and the bridge between t1 and t2 were themselves both "necessary". That's how modal logic works. There could be some legitimate debate about the kinds of "necessity" involved, as it seems pretty clear that at least the facts at t1 cannot be assumed to be "logically necessary". But we haven't even begun that debate. We're stuck on questions of structure.

I note that at no point have you offered a statement of your own argument in terms of numbered premises and conclusion. I've done that for you. If you want to offer a different formulation which is valid AND doesn't have a harmless conclusion, I'd be happy to read it.

----

SP: Is it an invalid ad-hominem attack to point out the lies of liars?
Me: You presumably realise that even if my statements were lies, which none of them were, making an ad-hominem attach on me would still do nothing to support your conclusion or to undermine mine. But if you wish to be specific and say exactly which of my statements were lies (other than the ones you already pointed to, which weren't lies), I'd be happy to clarify.

----

P.S. Since you're so insistent, I will post a link to a copy of my certificate here tomorrow (probably about 11am UK time). I will take it down again at a time I'll specify in the same post. At which point I expect an apology. Want anything particular in the picture to help authenticate it's validity? Nothing crude please.

Steve Lovell said...

As requested, and promised in my most recent comment (but not before), here is a link to a copy of my PhD certificate.

This link will be disabled within the next 10 hours (so by 10pm UK time).

StardustyPsyche said...

Steve Lovell said.. September 23, 2017 2:25 PM .

" My difficulty with your argument isn't that it's a "temporal sequence""
--Actually, yes, that is a part of your problem. Not that you have no ideas about time, rather, that you are not applying sound time sequence analysis to omniscience.

" is that the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises."
--Actually, yes, it does. You just have not come to that realization as of yet.

"Now, you can create logically valid arguments about things which themselves involve tensed facts and temporal sequences, but the logical relations involved would still obtain timelessly."
--Right, and you have yet to realize I have created logically valid arguments and you have yet to provide any sound temporal counter arguments.


" Facts about what is the case at t1 do not entail facts about what is the case at t2 without some sort of bridge to connect the two. Moreover, even with such a bridge the facts at t2 would only be "necessary" if the facts at t1, and the bridge between t1 and t2 were themselves both "necessary"."
--The premise of perfect foreknowledge makes the bridge between t1 and t2 deterministic and therefore "necessary".


" That's how modal logic works. There could be some legitimate debate about the kinds of "necessity" involved, as it seems pretty clear that at least the facts at t1 cannot be assumed to be "logically necessary". But we haven't even begun that debate. We're stuck on questions of structure."
--You only lecture in logic textbook generalities without providing a specific counter argument regarding omniscience.


" I note that at no point have you offered a statement of your own argument in terms of numbered premises and conclusion. I've done that for you. If you want to offer a different formulation which is valid AND doesn't have a harmless conclusion, I'd be happy to read it."
--I'm sorry you are manifestly unwilling to engage in or incapable of reading and understanding simple paragraphs of logical reasoning.

May I assume you know what a thought experiment is? Do you suppose that logical notation is the only means to reason carefully, validly, and otherwise soundly?

This seems to be a part of the deficiency of your education, the narrow view of needing to translate and argument into notation before you can reason carefully about it.

A major shortcoming of logical notation is that a very great deal can get lost in the translation, particularly in a time sequence analysis. A clear example is here
http://philosopherdhaines.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-defense-of-aquinass-first-way.html
His source was here
http://iteadthomam.blogspot.ca/2011/01/first-way-in-syllogistic-form.html
Which was used for a Reppert post here
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=10584495&postID=6725134901932984729&page=7&token=1494536017718

One major problem with the many theistic PhDs who engaged in constructing and analyzing that notation was their fundamental errors in translating words translated from Latin to English into logical notation. Even when I took the time to analyze the language to complete their notation it has no effect because those PhDs were simply incapable of reasoning soundly in response to the fully written argument.

That is where your breakdown in reasoning is occurring and all your pedestrian lectures about how logic works do not alter the fact that you have shown no ability to follow a thorough time sequence analysis through to a sound conclusion, nor have you presented any sound counter arguments, rather, you argue from authority, diversion, and incompleteness.

StardustyPsyche said...

Steve Lovell said.. September 23, 2017 2:25 PM .

----

" At which point I expect an apology."
--Apologize for what? Maybe you are a PhD after all, you display the self important and thin skinned nature common among them. I should apologize for questioning your voracity? What, do you suppose all you have to do is claim you are a PhD and I am just supposed to take your word for it and be in awe of your magnificence?

All you do is lecture on textbook material and make incomplete arguments.

The topic under discussion is
Omniscience mandates determinism
Determinism rules out free will

You have provided no thorough counter arguments to my detailed time sequence analysis and thorough thought experiments.

StardustyPsyche said...

Steve Lovell said.. September 24, 2017 4:14 AM.

" As requested,"
--You volunteered with no suggestion from me. It was your idea to send me a copy of your certificate.

" and promised in my most recent comment (but not before), here is a link to a copy of my PhD certificate."
--How do we know that is actually your certificate? How do we know you did not simply find it on line and claim it is yours? How do we know you did not simply put that name on an existing certificate using Microsoft Paint (that program has a color picker which can be used to erase text, then new text can be added and a new jpg saved, very easy to do and the program is a free accessory on PCs)?

" This link will be disabled within the next 10 hours (so by 10pm UK time)."
--Why are you being so circumspect about this certificate? There is no personal information in it other than your name (of course, there never is). You already provided a link to a thesis with much the same information in it...just seems inconsistent of you.

As I said at the outset, who knows?

I could not care less about your credentials, or how you supposedly have the whole of academia on your side about certain aspects of your statements or any of your attempts at argument from authority.

The topic at hand is
Omniscience necessitates determinism
Determinism rules out free will

On
September 23, 2017 10:06 AM
above I provided a detailed time sequence analysis. You have displayed no ability to follow it thoroughly, so if you are the PhD you say you are then we have evidence that there is a gap in the analytical methodology in practice in your academic environment.

Here is another wording of the argument:
If god writes X today I must do X tomorrow.
If god writes Y today I must do Y tomorrow.
If god writes Z today I must do Z tomorrow.
Whatever particular thing god writes today I must do tomorrow.
God will always write some particular thing today.
Therefore, I must always do tomorrow whatever particular thing god writes today.
Therefore, whatever particular thing I do tomorrow is pre-determined as indicated by what god wrote today.
Thus my future is entirely pre-determined as indicated by what god writes today.

You can go to the above date for a more thorough explanation.

Steve Lovell said...

Stardusty,

At this point it's pretty clear this discussion is going nowhere. Indeed, that's been clear for a while. There's lots I could find fault with in your latest posts, but nothing has been added to the discussion (by either of us) for some time.

Either or both of us could, with some plausibility, chalk this up as a victory. We haven't been forced to admit that the other person is right and that we were wrong. Any remaining readers will, no doubt, have already reached their conclusions about where the truth lies.

Having bashed our heads against each other for so long it is tempting, and we've both succumbed to the temptation at points, to move from discussing the arguments to discussing the psychological make up of our opposition. If you wish to do that, that's up to you. I will attempt to refrain from creating such an unedifying spectacle.

If you have something new to say, or a different way of making your points (it needn't be a "snowjob" to express your point in multiple ways), I'll keep checking back here for the next few days.

Until we meet again ...

StardustyPsyche said...

Steve Lovell said.. September 24, 2017 12:31 PM.

" At this point it's pretty clear this discussion is going nowhere."
--Right, I keep laying out the clear argument that omniscience mandates determinism and you keep engaging in nothing more than argument from authority, diversion, and incomplete statements.

" but nothing has been added to the discussion (by either of us) for some time."
--You have never presented a thorough counter argument.

" Either or both of us could, with some plausibility, chalk this up as a victory. "
--No, you cannot plausibly do so. If you think you can then demonstrate clearly where the flaw is in the argument summarized at the end of
September 24, 2017 8:35 AM

" I will attempt to refrain from creating such an unedifying spectacle."
--You have never presented a thorough argument. You stop half way through every time.

Here, I will make it easy reading for you. Please find the flaw in this argument. During your attempt you will likely move abstractly forward and backward in time. To check the validity of your abstract time travel continue the process through several iterations. The value of such repeated iterations is that it exposes incomplete analysis.

If god writes X today I must do X tomorrow.
If god writes Y today I must do Y tomorrow.
If god writes Z today I must do Z tomorrow.
Whatever particular thing god writes today I must do tomorrow.
God will always write some particular thing today.
Therefore, I must always do tomorrow whatever particular thing god writes today.
Therefore, whatever particular thing I do tomorrow is pre-determined as indicated by what god wrote today.
Thus my future is entirely pre-determined as indicated by what god writes today.

Steve Lovell said...

Since you insist ... you have indeed "made it easy for me". The argument completely begs the question.

Lines 1 to 3 conjure "musts" from nowhere and I reject them as unsubstantiated.
Line 4 does the same
Line 5 is may be assumed for the sake of argument
Line 6 repeats the unsubstantiated "must"
Lines 7 and 8 conclude determinism based on unsubstantiated premises

'nuff said.

StardustyPsyche said...

Steve Lovell said.. September 26, 2017 6:19 AM.

Lines 1 to 3 conjure "musts" from nowhere and I reject them as unsubstantiated.
Line 4 does the same
Line 6 repeats the unsubstantiated "must"
Lines 7 and 8 conclude determinism based on unsubstantiated premises
--So then, your entire objection rests upon my use of the word "must".

I said
*If god writes X today I must do X tomorrow.*
You differ with that statement. How exactly?

What does the word "must" mean in this context? It has various single word synonyms and equivalent phrases. Which definition or meaning or synonym of "must" do you think is demonstrably not the case in my sentence?

Oxford says the first definition of "must" is:
Be obliged to; should (expressing necessity)

Perhaps you have another preferred source?

The antecedence in my sentence is
"god writes X today"
What does that mean? It means that an asserted omniscient being has written that I will do X. By definition an omniscient being has perfect knowledge, and thus cannot possibly be wrong.

If god writes X how can I possibly fail to do X? What is the probability that I will do anything other than X? 0.

Suppose I am not obligated to do X. Instead I choose to do Y, despite god having written I will do X. That makes god not omniscient, which is fine by me, but it destroys a fundamental asserted trait of your imagined god.

You can't have it both ways.

If I have a choice to do Y instead of X then from time to time I will choose differently than god has foretold, making god not omniscient.

The only way for X to have a probability of 1 is that I must do X, I will necessarily do X, I have to do X, X is predetermined for me to do, I cannot fail to do X.

If it is not necessary for me to do X, if I "not must" do X, then the probability I will do X is less than 1, which cannot be the case on an omniscient god.

Your error is connected to the fact that I cannot travel into the past. You may fancifully speculate about a magical being that can flit about in time or outside of time or whatever such silliness you wish to engage in. But irrespective of such idle speculations I must follow the arrow of time, only forward, always moving temporally into the future, never the past.

The antecedent, again is
"god writes X today"

Given that as true the consequent follows inexorably, with no possible alternative, with a probability of precisely 1:
"I must do X tomorrow"

Else god is not omniscient.

Hugo said...

It's fascinating to see 2 people constantly repeat the same thing over and over again... may I try to clarify? Yes? Good...

First, let's assume we have true libertarian freewill. What does that mean? We make choices, at least some choices, entirely on purpose. We can decide, sometimes, to change our mind about what we will do, up to the last second before we do it.

Next, let's assume there is an entity, some kind of mind, that knows everything. Does that mind know what I will pick tomorrow? Yes, by definition. Does that violate my freewill? No, because I already assume I have freewill. Is it a contradiction then? Now that's the tough one...

SP says yes, Steve says no. I think Steve is right. It is not a contradiction because that entity's knowledge depends on what I choose, not the other way around. That's why it's called foreknowledge, knowing in advance. It's a special kind of knowledge that only makes sense for gods or something like that.

And now I ran out of explanations because I don't personally believe any of this, so I really don't know how to defend this position further. But again, the point is that the timeline that you are constantly refering to SP is not relevant here. The omniscience view presented here is consistent, but I agree with you that there's absolutely no good reason to believe an omniscient mind exist, and I don't know whether that it's even possible. It's just definitions, but consistent ones.

Steve Lovell said...

Stardusty,

I have no particular objection to using words as they are defined, however you need to stick with a single definition throughout the argument. For reasons I cannot guess you've singled out a definition which clearly isn't fit for purpose. I quote from the online version of the Oxford Dictionary to which you referred, however I also include the examples they use to illustrate both meaning and use of the word:

1 - Be obliged to; should (expressing necessity)
‘you must show your ID card’
‘the essay mustn't be over 2,000 words’
‘she said she must be going’

In short, this sense of the word "must" indicates a moral or quasi-moral obligation. Taken in that sense "must do X" is equivalent to "ought to do X". Surely you don't mean to assert that in your argument? And if you did it would be clearly invalid to argue from there to determinism the way you outline.

I take the relevant sense of "must" to be "necessarily will". But we've been here before. To do the work that you require of it this must be understood as an unconditional necessity, but there is no reason for me to accept it on those terms. If instead you understand it as a mere conditional necessity, while I would then assent to lines 1 to 4 of your argument becomes invalid as it will not rule out the possibility of action to the contrary, only the actuality of it. So you don't get determinism.

Your continued attempts to explain your position using probability are puzzling. How are the probabilities you mention supposed to be related to the modalities of the issue? Supposing there is no real randomness in the world then while we might assign probabilities of 1/2 to the outcome of a coin toss, "in reality" the probability is either 1 or 0. One of these probabilities is epistemological, the other is physical or metaphysical. The two come apart. Epistemic probabilities do not tell you about physical/metaphysical probabilities and physical/metaphysical probabilities do not tell you about epistemic ones. Determinism is a physical/metaphysical thesis but you only have epistemic probabilities to hand. They simply cannot do the work you require of them.

It's that same question as the relationship between certainty and necessity. So again, we've been here before.

StardustyPsyche said...

Hugo Pelland said.. September 26, 2017 9:50 PM.

" It's fascinating to see 2 people constantly repeat the same thing over and over again"
--That's because most people, like you for example, have not thought this issue through very carefully. People who have carefully analyzed omniscience as it mandates determinism sometimes try various wordings to illuminate errors, such as yours.


" First, let's assume we have true libertarian freewill. What does that mean? We make choices, at least some choices, entirely on purpose."
--No. A computer makes choices for particular reasons, very deliberately, but they are not free.

" We can decide, sometimes, to change our mind about what we will do, up to the last second before we do it."
--So can a computer. A program can present a preliminary result but then continue to refine its calculations and then present a different result. No freedom indicated.


But recall,
omniscience mandates determinism,
determinism rules out free will.

So, concentration on the first part, determinism, may be more helpful for you and Steve to come to terms with your analytical errors.

Intrinsic randomness is required to negate determinism. If determinism is the case then intrinsic randomness is not the case. If intrinsic randomness is the case then determinism is not the case.

What would intrinsic randomness mean for a real physical temporal process? It requires that something happens for no reason, by no cause, by no transfer function.

Intrinsic randomness requires an effect without a cause.

In the case of intrinsic randomness things just happen spontaneously and completely unpredictably. Something is here and then suddenly without any warning it just moves over there and there is no reason, no formula, no transfer function, no algorithm, no equation. A change occurs but there is no cause for that change or individually accurate prediction for that change.

Intrinsic randomness is a discontinuity in the temporal process of mutual causation understood as cause and effect.

If I, as a temporal physical being, can predict the outcome of an event in advance then in what sense do you say it is intrinsically random?

Suppose I have a book, and I read that particle X will move to position Y at time Z, and in fact X does move to Y at Z, and in fact I have prior knowledge that X could not have possibly done other than move to Y at Z, and X had a probability of 1 to move to position Y at time Z then in what sense do you suppose that move was intrinsically random?

Oh, but suppose there is a magic unseen being that can flit about forwards and backwards in time to tell me the result of an intrinsically random event. So magic man observes X go to Y at Z then flits back to tell me X will go to Y at Z.

That's nice, but I am not a magic time traveling fantasy being. I am a real material temporal being. So I arrive at time Z, and this is key, because on the notion of intrinsic randomness X can go to A, B, C or anyplace, yet I know with absolute certainty it will go to Y. In what sense is that random?

Still don't get it? Ok, consider every particle in the universe. Because magic man does not simply know about X, rather, 10^90 particles, at every nano second, he told me about every particle in the universe at every nano second for the next 100 years. They are all intrinsically random yet I predict with 100% what every particle in the universe does nanosecond to nanosecond for 100 years.

Really? That is intrinsically random? I have a means to predict all this with a probability of 1 but it is all actually just popping off in any old direction and completely unpredictable.

You might just as well assert 10^90 round squares.

Predictable intrinsic randomness. How absurd.

Hugo said...

--That's because most people, like you for example, have not thought this issue through very carefully.

Starting with an insult. Again.

--No. A computer makes choices for particular reasons, very deliberately, but they are not free.

I agree with you. But that's not the point. Aren't you able to do a thought experiment?

The rest of your post has nothing to do with the consistency... for instance:

--may be more helpful for you and Steve to come to terms with your analytical errors.

I don't agree with Steve... how can I make the same analytical error. I am pointing out an issue with definitions.

Steve Lovell said...

Stardusty,

Let us add to your thought experiment. I don't equate free-will with randomness, but they have enough in common for me to work with that.

Suppose the world is indeterministic, that there is "real" randomness. Now suppose rather than one "book" which contains all future positions of every subatomic particle there are many "books", each containing that level of detail. But rather than all being the same, each one represents a "possible future". They are all different. Clearly the existence of such a set of books would not entail determinism, nevertheless, one of those books is the book you were originally imagining ... we just don't know which one.

Why would it be impossible for God to know which one? Or why would His knowing which book is true make the course of events deterministic? Remember you said that the mechanism by which God knows isn't important. Your argument relies not just on their being no plausible mechanism by which God could know such things, but that (a) it is impossible for God to know these things without some mechanism and that (b) no mechanism for gaining such knowledge is so much as logically coherent.

Also you seem to be equating foreknowledge and prediction. It may be legitimate to lampoon prediction as you do. Predictions are based on knowledge of how things are now and making extrapolations into the future. If that was our model for foreknowledge, you'd have a good point. But it's not. Your thought experiment depends on God revealing the content of foreknowledge to humans. So, God doesn't predict the future, and although the humans in your thought experiment possess a what is for them a prediction, it's not a prediction they have made on their own.

As such it seems to me your phrase "Predictable Instrinsic Randomness. How absurd." rather misses the mark.

Steve Lovell said...

Hugo,

Thanks for your input here. It's always encouraging to find people who can recognise and acknowledge truth wherever they find it.

In contrast, Stardusty here is reminding me of a line from G.K. Chesterton: "It looked not so much as if Christianity was bad enough to include [m?]any vices, but rather as if any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with. What again could this astonishing thing be like which people were so anxious to contradict, that in doing so they did not mind contradicting themselves?"

StardustyPsyche said...

Hugo Pelland said.. September 28, 2017 12:45 AM.

SP --That's because most people, like you for example, have not thought this issue through very carefully.
" Starting with an insult. Again."
--Omniscience mandates determinism. Many people do not understand this fact. All of them have yet to sufficiently consider omniscience to come to understand this fact. You find that insulting? I suggest you look at it as a learning opportunity.

SP --No. A computer makes choices for particular reasons, very deliberately, but they are not free.

" I agree with you. But that's not the point."
--There are many points, not merely "the" point.

" Aren't you able to do a thought experiment?"
--Not only do them, but find the flaws in those that others attempt.

SP --may be more helpful for you and Steve to come to terms with your analytical errors.

" I don't agree with Steve..."
--Yes you do, in part, and that is the part you are in error.

" how can I make the same analytical error. I am pointing out an issue with definitions."
--Dependency of observation does not mandate randomness of action be physically possible. This magical time traveler's observation is dependent on observing X, but that does not physically necessitate that X could be intrinsically random.

I, in my time, on my real timeline, already knew with a probability of 1 that X would occur, requiring that X is pre-determined.

Since you wish to consider definitions, how are the words "deterministic" and "pre-determined" related definitionally?

Even if one fantasies about a magic time traveler observing future events the fact that the time traveler comes back to my time and provides certain knowledge of my future events on my timeline in my temporal process necessitates that those future events are pre-determined and thus necessarily deterministic.

Since this fantasied magic time traveler is asserted to know all future events with a probability of 1 and has been kind enough to provide me with a book in my present describing all future events with a probability of 1 then all future events in my temporal existence are pre-determined and are thus all deterministic.

Hugo said...

Stardusty Psyche said...
"You find that insulting? I suggest you look at it as a learning opportunity."
No, I don't find it insulting; I am saying it was an insult. Can you tell the difference? Let me help... your content-less writings are meaningless to me. I am just pointing out the bits and pieces of your comments that are insults, for no reason. Here's the part I was criticizing:
"That's because most people, like you for example, have not thought this issue through very carefully."
You could be talking about literally anything and state that same insult. So yes, it was an insult, whether you want to admit it or not. It has no content; it just makes you look silly and/or not serious. And you post several of these little snippets here and there. It's your style I guess... and that's what I am commenting on.

But moving on to the actual content:
"Even if one fantasies about a magic time traveler observing future events the fact that the time traveler comes back to my time and provides certain knowledge of my future events on my timeline in my temporal process necessitates that those future events are pre-determined and thus necessarily deterministic."

This does not fit with the definition of omniscience, or foreknowledge, that Steve and others present. The way I understand it, this contradicts the definitions. It fits under 'your' definition of omniscience and its link with determinism, but that's because you are reversing the definitions. Again, they start with freewill, i.e. not determinism, being a real thing. It cannot, by definition, be the case that freewill does not exist when omniscience is defined as being the knowledge of actions taken out of freewill.

Therefore, when you say:
"Omniscience mandates determinism."
That's a contradiction, an oxymoron, in the specific context presented here; people have freewill and some omniscient being, somehow, knows already about these choices they made. From that being's point of view, the beings have already made their choices. We, mere mortals, don't know yet because we don't have foreknowledge, but because we have freewill we do, and continue to, make choices.

Again, I don't believe that's true, but it's consistent. The definitions they use make sense. But I need to address Steve points as well...

Hugo said...

Steve Lovell said...
"Hugo,

Thanks for your input here. It's always encouraging to find people who can recognise and acknowledge truth wherever they find it.
"

Thanks for the kind words Steve. As noted above, I don't agree with you but I can certainly respect your approaches and intellectual consistency.

But I want to be extra clear here, given that you used the word 'truth': I don't think it's true that omniscience exists, or is even possible. I don't know whether it's possible. It does not really make sense to me. There is no proposed mechanism by which it would even be possible to have such foreknowledge, and I don't get how a mind, some being, could have that ability.

"line from G.K. Chesterton: "It looked not so much as if Christianity was bad enough to include [m?]any vices, but rather as if any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with. What again could this astonishing thing be like which people were so anxious to contradict, that in doing so they did not mind contradicting themselves?""

I like that quote, I think, as it basically mean that it's not because one disagrees with a set of beliefs, Christianity for example, that one has to find everything wrong with that set of beliefs. I certainly endorse that view with my entire hearth. There would be so much less issues in our world if we could separate certain ideas from the people who present them. It seems almost impossible to do; try to talk against certain ideas and people feel like it's an attack on their entire person, or even group they are part of. We can only hope for the best!

StardustyPsyche said...

Hugo Pelland said.. October 01, 2017 5:32 PM.

" No, I don't find it insulting; I am saying it was an insult. Can you tell the difference? "
--No. It wasn't intended as an insult and you were not insulted yet it is an insult?


" Again, they start with freewill, i.e. not determinism, being a real thing. It cannot, by definition, be the case that freewill does not exist when omniscience is defined as being the knowledge of actions taken out of freewill."
--Begging the question by definition is logically invalid.

I don't have that problem. All that is required to prove determinism is the assertion that I or anyone else possesses knowledge of the future that is 100% certain by any means.

That means the future is predetermined. If X is known to be a future event with probability of 1 then X is predetermined. The mechanism of predetermination is irrelevant. The method for obtaining that knowledge is irrelevant.

If one knows future event X will occur with a probability of 1 then determinism is the case, irrespective of the method of obtaining that knowledge or the mechanism for implementation of X.

" Again, I don't believe that's true, but it's consistent."
--No it isn't. It is an attempt to define an irrational proposition into being.

Hugo said...

Stardusty Psyche said...
"It wasn't intended as an insult and you were not insulted yet it is an insult?"
Yep, that's what it was, or an ad hominem if you prefer... it's a point, a sentence, a passage that serves no purpose but to attack the other side's character.

"That means the future is predetermined."
No, it means that, from the omniscient being's point of view, it has already happened. That's why the time traveler analogy is incorrect. Because the time traveler would re-experience that choice a second time and that would mean it's predetermined. In the case of the omniscient being, it happened once, then the being got to know about it. That's all. For us, it has not happened yet, and we cannot know what will happen.

"It is an attempt to define an irrational proposition into being."
Not really, even though I agree it is often the case; see any discussion on physicalism on this blog... But here, in my posts at least, I am just talking about the definition itself. The definition is consistent, regardless of whether arguments using that definition are correct. But you cannot even address such arguments if you cannot agree on definitions with whoever you are trying to have a discussion with.

StardustyPsyche said...


Blogger Hugo Pelland said...

" Yep, that's what it was, "
--An uninsulting insult is an oxymoron.

" No, it means that, from the omniscient being's point of view, it has already happened. "
--Deterministically.

Your speculated magic time traveler can observe it.

If X was predetermined with a probability of 1 the observed event was deterministic.

Steve Lovell said...

Stardusty,

In case anyone is "keeping score" in this discussion, I simply note that none of your more recent comments add anything to the discussion.

Hugo,

Thanks for your note. My comment about "truth" was simply in relation to this so-called-argument for the incompatibility of free-will and omniscience. Although you don't agree that either exist, you are happy to acknowledge that this argument against them is a bad one.

It seems to me that lots of people on both sides of many debates think, or at least behave as if, it is legitimate to use any argument in support of a conclusion that they endorse and that simply having a conclusion they agree with is sufficient reason to endorse the argument: "Any stick is good enough". On the contrary it is necessary to assess every argument on its own merits.

StardustyPsyche said...


Blogger Steve Lovell said. October 02, 2017 5:07 AM..

Stardusty,

" In case anyone is "keeping score" in this discussion, I simply note that none of your more recent comments add anything to the discussion."
--You lack the analytical capabilities to keep an accurate score.

This isn't complicated. If anybody knows the future with a probability of 1 then the future is predetermined.

A predetermined future is deterministic.

Arguments to the contrary are hand waving.

Steve Lovell said...

Stardusty,

SP: This isn't complicated. If anybody knows the future with a probability of 1 then the future is predetermined.
SL: But you need an argument for that. It isn't trivially true, at least not in the sense your position requires. The arguments you have offered have been dealt with separately.

In short, you have again added nothing to the discussion. You have an impressive streak going on that front.

Hal said...

Steve,

Just wanted to throw a thank you your way. Found your posts in this thread to be very well thought out and illuminating.

Take care,
Hal

StardustyPsyche said...


Blogger Hal said.. October 07, 2017 9:22 AM.
" Steve,
Just wanted to throw a thank you your way. Found your posts in this thread to be very well thought out and illuminating."
--How unfortunate for you, then. Steve suffers from several manifest problems, perhaps most glaring his inability to realize that translation from English to logical notation often fails to capture the full content of the original English text, particularly in a time sequence analysis.

Having failed to accurately model the problem he uses logical notation to come to erroneous conclusions. This is a common problem, for example, David Haines committed similar errors in using logical notation to analyze the First Way.

His self satisfaction with his asserted training compounds the problem as does his perceived notion that somehow the authors of all reference materials agree with him and therefore it would be foolish to disagree.

For Steve these manifest shortcomings substitute for sound critical thinking.

By way of illustration consider the past determinism of a past event as a mirror example of the future determinism of a future event.

Suppose we know with a probability of 1 that past event X did occur.
The prior probability of X remains unknown.
The posterior probability of X having occurred is 1.
Any valid regression analysis must necessarily reach X.
Any valid regression analysis cannot fail to reach X.
For any valid regression analysis X is past deterministic.

This is a knowledge based indication of determinism.
Prior to X we had no knowledge X would occur so we could not say if X is or is not determined to occur.
After X occurs we still cannot say X was determined to occur but we can say with a probability of 1 that X did occur.
Once we know for certain that X did occur the fact that X did occur is past deterministic by any valid regression analysis.

But what of the future event Y?
Suppose we know with a probability of 1 that Y will occur.
The prior probability of Y is 1.
We still don't know what Y will lead to after Y occurs.
Any valid progression analysis must necessarily reach Y.
Any valid progression analysis cannot fail to reach Y.
For any valid progression analysis Y is future deterministic.

A time traveler who brings back from my future knowledge of Y on my timeline with a probability of 1 mandates that Y is for me deterministic. Y cannot fail to occur. If I get to the time of Y and Y does not occur then the time traveler was wrong. At that point in my time it is too late for the time traveler to tell me Z was to occur. Perhaps you can speculate that the time traveler can bounce back and forth in time at will, but I cannot. I cannot go back in time to change the prediction of Y to a prediction of Z.

To assert that the time traveler observed a random event and then came back to tell me with a probability of 1 what that random event will turn out to be is oxymoronic.

Pity, Hal, you waste your admiration on one so enamored with his own asserted training that he is now unable to identify the palpable flaws in his temporal analysis.

Steve Lovell said...

Thanks Hal,

It's good to know that even if Stardusty isn't convinced, my comments have at least been helpful for some readers.

Stardusty,

This is a little better. There's not much in the way of argument here, but there does seem to be some. You've left several phrases unexplained, but I think I grasp your meaning in your argument about the past. By "past deterministic", I think you mean that based on what we know about the present, the past "must have been" a particular way. Of course it doesn't follow from that that it couldn't have been any other way, just that we're sure it wasn't.

If that's not consistent with your analysis, then I simply don't know what you're saying here. Or at least I don't know what the point of saying it is.

So assuming that I have understood correctly, why should temporal analysis directed to the future be any different? God, along with whomever else He reveals His knowledge to, knows with certainty what will occur. These "knowers" know that the future "must be" a particular way. But then just like with the past, it doesn't follow that it couldn't be any other way, just that we're sure it will not be any other way.

To argue against free will, you need that stronger conclusion. I don't see here any reason to endorse it. Indeed, we are in fact simply using different terms to talk again about what we previously called absolute and conditional necessity.

I notice you've complained about the difficulties in capturing in logical arguments the alleged subtleties of a temporal analysis. Well, I can agree that it is difficult to put your argument into a logically valid form. But the reason for that is that it's not a valid argument. If your attempts at defending your argument lead you to resort to denying the adequacy of formal logic to capture the structure of your argument, then I think it's pretty clear your argument has failed.

Suppose you found the defenders of a particular argument for theism defending their argument by saying, "well, so much the worse for logical analysis ... it's a valid argument, it just isn't well handled this way". I think you'd laugh them out of court.

Remember, you're here asserting not merely that the theist is wrong, but that they are committed to a contradiction, that two of the things which they normally assert cannot be held consistently. It's one thing to say that there are inductive considerations which bring two propositions into tension, it's quite another to claim they are entirely contradictory. You're making the latter sort of claim, and to support that claim you need a deductively valid argument. To take refuge in the alleged inadequacies of logical analysis at this point is simply to admit defeat.

«Oldest ‹Older   201 – 261 of 261   Newer› Newest»