Author Topic: "Is Faith In God Reasonable?" - streaming NOW!  (Read 17780 times)

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Offline Tick

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Is Faith In Man Reasonable?
Yup. Tick is dead on.  She's not your type.  Move on.   Tick is Obi Wan Kenobi


Offline rumborak

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If being is the natural way of things, the question for a prime mover becomes irrelevant. It would be like looking for the beginning of a circle.
So, sure, you could still muse about a God, but the existence of the universe would no longer demand a key aspect of God.

So if 'being' was not the natural way of things, then the universe would demand a key aspect of God?

That's what I've been saying all along. Under the (let's call it "nihilo", as in "ex nihilo") framework, it is only natural to ask for a Primer Mover, which is also a key aspect of the definition of God. One aspect of God, keep that in mind. There's a lot of other attributes that aren't checked off by that.
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Offline Ħ

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You seem committed to their being a First Cause.


So, to sum up your view, you think that either (a) the universe is contingent, and its cause is necessary, or (b) the universe itself is necessary. Is that correct?


In other words, the universe either rests on the First Cause, or it is itself the First Cause.
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Offline rumborak

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Yes to the first, No to the second. The universe isn't the First Cause, rather it doesn't need one to exist.
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Offline Ħ

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Could you be more specific? I can't figure what the referents are when you say "yes to the first, no to the second."
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline rumborak

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Yes to "either the universe rests on the First Cause", No to "it is itself the First Cause".

If the natural state is that nothing exists, then surely the existence of the universe requires explanation. However, in the opposite framework, the non-existence of the universe would require explanation. In that framework the existence of the universe is a total non-issue.
I challenge you to tell me why either framework is more likely than the other.
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Offline Jaffa

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I challenge you to tell me why either framework is more likely than the other.

I challenge you to tell me why either framework is unreasonable. 
Sincerely,
Jaffa

Offline rumborak

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The frameworks themselves might not be unreasonable. The conclusion that from there you can derive the existence God (not Prime Mover, God) is unreasonable.
Hopefully not offending anybody here, but it strikes me a bit as that Discovery Channel show where they see a footprint and conclude it was Sasquatch. Sure, if there is such a thing as the Sasquatch, it will clearly leave footprints. But the mere existence of a footprint just means something walked over it.
Similarly, the existence of the universe, under the framework that non-existence is natural, leads to the reasonable conclusion that something caused the universe to exist. It does not lead to the conclusion that it was God.
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Offline Jaffa

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The frameworks themselves might not be unreasonable. The conclusion that from there you can derive the existence God (not Prime Mover, God) is unreasonable.

Gotcha.

Honestly just trying to understand your opinion.  Carry on.  :)
Sincerely,
Jaffa

Offline Ħ

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Yes to "either the universe rests on the First Cause", No to "it is itself the First Cause".
You might be surprised to hear that I agree! But look here - if the universe rests on the First Cause, and it itself is not the First Cause, then how can the First Cause be a part of the universe? It must exist outside of and independent of the universe! And being outside, it must be timeless, spaceless, etc.

Quote
If the natural state is that nothing exists, then surely the existence of the universe requires explanation. However, in the opposite framework, the non-existence of the universe would require explanation. In that framework the existence of the universe is a total non-issue.
I challenge you to tell me why either framework is more likely than the other.
Sure, I agree. No matter what state of affairs there is, you need an explanation of why it is that way. Whether there is something or there is nothing, there is a sufficient reason why it is that way. But I couldn't tell you which is more likely. I think the universe is contingent - it might have been, it might not have been - and therefore it is not a necessary being. But I have no idea what the probability of it existing is.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline rumborak

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Yes to "either the universe rests on the First Cause", No to "it is itself the First Cause".
You might be surprised to hear that I agree! But look here - if the universe rests on the First Cause, and it itself is not the First Cause, then how can the First Cause be a part of the universe? It must exist outside of and independent of the universe! And being outside, it must be timeless, spaceless, etc.

Again, I appeal to your imagination. Keep in mind that we've been talking cause and effect for a scenario in which there is no natural ordering of events, since it is supposedly outside time to begin with. I find that, in a scenario where cause and effect can not even be properly assigned anymore, I don't find the leap to a self-creating universe to be all that far. Why could the universe not have been its own cause?
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Offline theseoafs

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H -- if God caused the creation of the universe, wouldn't he have to exist within time?  After all, causality requires time -- something can't cause something else outside of time.

Offline Ħ

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I don't find the leap to a self-creating universe to be all that far. Why could the universe not have been its own cause?
Jaffa already answered that:
Quite frankly, this makes no sense to me.  You can't build a house from inside a house.  If you're inside the house, the house is already there, and therefore you're not building it.  To build a house, you have to be there before the house, and therefore must exist independently from the house. 


You can't create something that already exists.   If you're inside of the universe, the universe already exists, and therefore you cannot create it. 


Turning now to the question of causality, I don't see why you need to have time to have causality. That might be the causality that we're used to, but I don't see anything inherently contained within the notion of causality that requires time. In fact, let me just refer you to William Lane Craig, the theist debater this Friday night, who has dealt with this question.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline theseoafs

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I agree with you and Dr. Craig that timeless causality could exist; I see no reason to believe that causality could not exist outside of time.  But the point stands that the cosmological argument requires timeless causality to exist, and that particular jump of faith doesn't seem prudent to me.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 04:11:28 PM by theseoafs »

Offline Ħ

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It just requires that causality can be timeless. You don't even have to admit that causality actually is timeless, just that it could be timeless. Since there's no inherent contradiction between "timeless causality," I'm willing to accept that it could be timeless. All this amounts is is that a belief in a timeless being that caused the universe is not incoherent. Which means that if such a belief is warranted (as I think it is from the Kalam), it should be adopted.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline theseoafs

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But then the consequence of the Kalam argument isn't that there is a personal being that exists outside of space and time that caused the universe, but that there could be a personal being that exists outside of space and time that caused the universe, right?  That's hardly revolutionary; atheists and theists alike agree about that.

Offline Jaffa

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To be fair, some atheists deny it pretty stubbornly.
Sincerely,
Jaffa

Offline theseoafs

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Yeah, well, not the reasonable ones. :biggrin:

Offline rumborak

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I don't find the leap to a self-creating universe to be all that far. Why could the universe not have been its own cause?
Jaffa already answered that:
Quite frankly, this makes no sense to me.  You can't build a house from inside a house.  If you're inside the house, the house is already there, and therefore you're not building it.  To build a house, you have to be there before the house, and therefore must exist independently from the house. 


You can't create something that already exists.   If you're inside of the universe, the universe already exists, and therefore you cannot create it. 


Turning now to the question of causality, I don't see why you need to have time to have causality. That might be the causality that we're used to, but I don't see anything inherently contained within the notion of causality that requires time. In fact, let me just refer you to William Lane Craig, the theist debater this Friday night, who has dealt with this question.

Is that one of the debaters? Having read that article just now, I am losing interest. The guy's counter-arguments were an exercise in thrashing; he single-handedly throws spacetime out the window ("physicists might say there can not be time without space; I say I can imagine time without space!"), and goes all over the place with his cause and effect argument. It seems the assignment of what is cause and what is effect depends on whether it fits his argument. Cause and effects according to Craig can be simultaneous, reversed, all of the above. Just as long as God appears as the result.
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Offline theseoafs

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^This is one of the reasons I don't like Craig.  He's really big on begging the question and tossing the "burden of proof" onto other people.

Offline Ħ

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But then the consequence of the Kalam argument isn't that there is a personal being that exists outside of space and time that caused the universe, but that there could be a personal being that exists outside of space and time that caused the universe, right?  That's hardly revolutionary; atheists and theists alike agree about that.
No, the consequence of the Kalam is that there is a cause of the universe that is outside of time. All I'm trying to show is that there is nothing incoherent about that idea.

"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline Ħ

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I don't find the leap to a self-creating universe to be all that far. Why could the universe not have been its own cause?
Jaffa already answered that:
Quite frankly, this makes no sense to me.  You can't build a house from inside a house.  If you're inside the house, the house is already there, and therefore you're not building it.  To build a house, you have to be there before the house, and therefore must exist independently from the house. 


You can't create something that already exists.   If you're inside of the universe, the universe already exists, and therefore you cannot create it. 


Turning now to the question of causality, I don't see why you need to have time to have causality. That might be the causality that we're used to, but I don't see anything inherently contained within the notion of causality that requires time. In fact, let me just refer you to William Lane Craig, the theist debater this Friday night, who has dealt with this question.

Is that one of the debaters? Having read that article just now, I am losing interest. The guy's counter-arguments were an exercise in thrashing; he single-handedly throws spacetime out the window ("physicists might say there can not be time without space; I say I can imagine time without space!"), and goes all over the place with his cause and effect argument. It seems the assignment of what is cause and what is effect depends on whether it fits his argument. Cause and effects according to Craig can be simultaneous, reversed, all of the above. Just as long as God appears as the result.
Focusing on the issue at hand, all Craig purports to show is that there is nothing incoherent about a timeless causal relationship. And in that, he succeeds. Whether or not God exists, causal relationship can logically stand timelessly. What you should recognize is that causal relationships are asymmetric.

Say A causes B, and both stand timelessly. If you get rid of A, you get rid of B, because B requires A to be its cause. But if you get rid of B, A is unaffected.

Now replace A with "the cause of the universe" and B with "the universe". You could get rid of the universe without getting rid of its cause. But if you get rid of the cause of the universe, then you must also get rid of the universe.
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^This is one of the reasons I don't like Craig.  He's really big on begging the question and tossing the "burden of proof" onto other people.
In this scenario, he is quite correct to pass the burden of proof to those that want to say causality presupposes time. You have to show why that must be the case.


To demonstrate that causality doesn't require time, you just need to come up with examples of asymmetric causal relationships that exist outside of time. They don't even need to be examples in the real world! They just need to be logically possible. If there is a logically possible case of causality not being bound to time, then causality doesn't require time. Simple as that. Craig does a good job of providing examples in his article.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 07:52:55 PM by Ħ »
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Online hefdaddy42

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Using philosophy to prove God seems like using algebra to prove love.

I mean, I don't know, enjoy yourself if it gets you off, but I don't get it.
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Offline Scheavo

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But then the consequence of the Kalam argument isn't that there is a personal being that exists outside of space and time that caused the universe, but that there could be a personal being that exists outside of space and time that caused the universe, right?  That's hardly revolutionary; atheists and theists alike agree about that.
No, the consequence of the Kalam is that there is a cause of the universe that is outside of time. All I'm trying to show is that there is nothing incoherent about that idea.

It's possible. I can grant that. But Craig goes from possible to some specific conception of God, and doesn't blink, and the Kalam argument being used to explain god seems to do that to me. Something not being reasonable to believe in is not the same as saying that the idea is itself incoherent and without any[i/i] possible basis.

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Not at all. Craig leaves open the question of God's specific qualities, and he recognizes that the Kalam argument only tells us some of God's attributes - being timeless, spaceless, immaterial, etc.

Obviously, you can't deduce from the Kalam alone that the Christian God exists. Or that God is all-loving or all-good. That information isn't necessitated by the Kalam's conclusion.
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Offline theseoafs

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But then the consequence of the Kalam argument isn't that there is a personal being that exists outside of space and time that caused the universe, but that there could be a personal being that exists outside of space and time that caused the universe, right?  That's hardly revolutionary; atheists and theists alike agree about that.
No, the consequence of the Kalam is that there is a cause of the universe that is outside of time. All I'm trying to show is that there is nothing incoherent about that idea.

In order for there to necessarily be a cause of the universe that exists outside of time, there would have to be timeless causality, which we both agree isn't a given.  Unless you're going to venture to say that causality definitely exists outside of space time, which seems like a very dangerous assumption to me, I don't think Kalam is as strong as you think it is.

Offline theseoafs

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In this scenario, he is quite correct to pass the burden of proof to those that want to say causality presupposes time. You have to show why that must be the case.

I don't think so; to me, it seems more like Craig is setting forth something as definitely true without any evidence, then challenging people to prove him wrong when they make very reasonable objections.  Just because causality has more or less been shown to be true in this universe doesn't have any bearing on how true it will be outside of this universe, especially considering how vastly incomprehensible a timeless, spaceless pre-universe is to human minds.  Craig's argument is a very unfounded extrapolation of what we observe in our daily lives, coupled with a few impossible-to-meet challenges ("prove that causality can't exist outside of the universe, and until then, I'm just going to keep on believing it does") to keep himself safe from criticism.

Offline Ħ

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But then the consequence of the Kalam argument isn't that there is a personal being that exists outside of space and time that caused the universe, but that there could be a personal being that exists outside of space and time that caused the universe, right?  That's hardly revolutionary; atheists and theists alike agree about that.
No, the consequence of the Kalam is that there is a cause of the universe that is outside of time. All I'm trying to show is that there is nothing incoherent about that idea.

In order for there to necessarily be a cause of the universe that exists outside of time, there would have to be timeless causality, which we both agree isn't a given.  Unless you're going to venture to say that causality definitely exists outside of space time, which seems like a very dangerous assumption to me, I don't think Kalam is as strong as you think it is.
The point is that timeless causality is a logical possibility, so we shouldn't be afraid to appeal to it if we have to. And the Kalam shows us that we do have to - we have something that literally caused time to come into existence.
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Offline Ħ

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And look, what you're doing here is rejecting the conclusion of an argument that is both valid and has true premises. Let me spell it out.

The Kalam cosmological argument.
1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2) The universe (i.e. time and space) began to exist.
3) Therefore, the universe (i.e. time and space) has a cause.

You can't refute this argument by appealing to other arguments that lead to a different conclusion. That's no refutation at all! You've got to present reasons for rejecting 1 or 2. You can't just say, "Well I don't like the conclusion for such-and-such reason, so one of the premises must be false, I just don't know which." That's a bad refutation.

Why? Because if we've got my argument - which concludes that the universe has a timeless cause - and a different argument that concludes that the universe does not has a timeless cause, then we've gotten nowhere. We've proven two contradictory things, in fact.


So you've got a problem on your hands. If the Kalam is sound, then a cause of time is unavoidable. If you want to deny there being a cause of time, you've got to reject the Kalam. And if you want to reject the Kalam, you got to reject either 1 or 2.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 10:36:22 PM by Ħ »
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline theseoafs

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I thought I've been very clear!  The premise that I have a problem with is premise number one, which doesn't seem obviously true to me at all (as the axioms in an a priori proof should, anyway).  I'll grant that whatever happens in our universe has a cause, but extrapolating from this that "whatever begins to exist has a cause" is a very dangerous assumption, because it's unsupported by any evidence.  As far as I'm concerned, nothing that we understand in terms of the physical universe necessarily applies outside of space or time; if causality doesn't apply in the timeless, spaceless, pre-universe, then it's conceivable the universe just sprang into existence one day.

EDIT:  In short, what I'm after is not to *reject* the Kalam, but to *weaken* it.  I think it's conceivable that the universe has a cause outside of time but I don't think it's necessary or that it follows from the premises you've presented.

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Ah! I see. Well, that's quite interesting. So you do think that the universe popped into existence a finite time ago, without cause?

By the way, premise 1 would be a metaphysical statement, not a merely physical one. Thus, the metaphysical statement would hold whether or not we had our universe. Logic doesn't evaporate as soon as we step outside the universe!
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I don't think it's necessary or that it follows from the premises you've presented.
I don't think it's necessary either, because I don't think the universe is a necessary being - so it needn't be caused. But it most certainly does follow from the premises that there is a cause of time. And on reflection, it doesn't make sense to say that the cause of time is already in time - see Jaffa's house analogy.
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Offline theseoafs

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Ah! I see. Well, that's quite interesting. So you do think that the universe popped into existence a finite time ago, without cause?

I think it's possible.  Just as possible as any of the other possibilities, anyway.  The universe could be causeless, or it could have been caused by Yahweh or Allah or branes or the FSM or what have you.  At this point in our understanding, I think it would be a very hasty judgment to claim to have any positive knowledge about the origins of the universe, or about the metaphysical properties of the "pre-universe" (if you'll let me continue to use that term).

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Sure. But if you do have a cause of space and time, can you at least admit that the cause must be spaceless and timeless? That doesn't seem like a dastardly metaphysical leap.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges