Kalam Even Sillier Than Previously Thought?

HisWillness
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Kalam Even Sillier Than Previously Thought?

We've certainly covered the Kalam cosmological argument, but it occurred to me that it fails for a simpler reason than I thought: fallacy of composition.

The argument suggests that everything in nature has a cause. The erroneous conclusion is that the universe has a cause, because it's part of nature. What bothers me about that is that it's an equivocation of "universe", as I don't think it's being straightforward to consider "the universe" to be anything but equivalent to "nature". In that case, the argument is that nature has a cause, because everything IN nature has a cause. Thus, fallacy of composition.

If one were to maintain that this universe is merely part of nature, presenting a multiple universe idea (or something like that), then the implication is that we know that other universes also have necessary cause-and-effect. Since we don't, the equivocation (via a hasty generalization about all universes) is more apparent.

The only way to get around it would be to suggest that all natures have a cause, which exposes what many of us intuitively see as the silliness of the argument in the first place.

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Thank you for painting the

Thank you for painting the picture so clearly.

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Agreed.

 

 

 

          When I refur to 'nature'  and 'Mother nature'    I am refuring to the "END result" of what we see,  after a long line of evolutionary partici paction (sorry for the Ontario refrence}   Not really!)

 

 

            Now get up and  run, jog,  throw a soft ball   take a Blue Jay to a Major league ball park so that they can see what a big league ball player looks like.  Introduce  Cito to Tanya Harding because unlike Cito  she seems to know people who can HIT what they swing at.

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 I was wondering how this

 

I was wondering how this would effect induction? Induction beings with particulars we experience, and from induction we go on to infer things generally (or to generalize about them). For instance (and I'm sure you know this):  After witnessing this particular duck making a quaking noise, then observing that another particular duck makes the same noise; and so on, and so forth, we come to the conclusion that it is of the nature of ducks to make a quaking noise. Indeed, this is how science proceeds in demonstrations. You see, you say that the Kalam argument commits the fallacy of composition because it generalizes on the basis of particulars (namely, the many particular things in nature admitting of design warrants design of the whole of nature); however, it's ok for science and philosophy to do this with their arguments? If science takes particular examples as samples for proving something collectively (or infering the whole from the parts) why isn't ok for this argument to do it? Thats what seems to be confusing me.  You see, if person A gets sick and dies from diseas "F",  then person B gets it and dies from it which we infer that this sickness is an epidemic we might be called out for a hasty generalization. Yet, if 3000 people get it in a matter of a month and die and we can go on to infer that, on this basis of the 3000 who have died, the disease is fatal for ALL people then we have made a generalization of mankind "collectively" (or, as whole) based on the parts (the 3000 individuals that were the material of the smaples used to make the induction possible). Isn't this precisely what science does? Why, then, is it a fallacy in the Kalam argument to do the same? I ask this because a theist is wondering this from me.


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We've observed that things

We've observed that things in nature have causes. The argument is that we cannot conclude that nature itself has a cause, because this would be a fallacy of composition.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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What I see as the 'real'

What I see as the 'real' fallacy of any argument for God based on cause-effect arguments is that they come with certain simplistic and invalid assumptions about how things actually interact in reality. Typically that the 'cause' must be greater in some sense than what it causes to happen, which is simply not true. And many interactions are complex patterns of many inter-acting things, sometimes including a degree of circularity, technically known as feedback. This can lead to chaos effects, where major events are triggered in some way by a tiny 'cause' - the 'butterfly effect - and that even a linear chain of causes where each prior cause is smaller than the following can lead to a theoretically infinite sequence that still only occupies a finite time and space.

Infinite regress only excludes the God hypothesis, since that implies a chain of ever-greater Creator Gods required to create each other.

 

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HisWillness wrote:If one

HisWillness wrote:
If one were to maintain that this universe is merely part of nature, presenting a multiple universe idea (or something like that), then the implication is that we know that other universes also have necessary cause-and-effect. Since we don't, the equivocation (via a hasty generalization about all universes) is more apparent.

 

The only way to get around it would be to suggest that all natures have a cause, which exposes what many of us intuitively see as the silliness of the argument in the first place.

 

The problem with Kalam for me is that it does does not even really say what it seems to say. Allow me to explain.

 

Everything has a cause. Well sure but only if there are an infinite chain of causes. However, those who advance Kalam are trying to argue that something happened first. So there is not an infinite chain of causes. Now granted, they want to then make a jump to god did it but I really don't see where that is warranted at this point. Simply accept that there was a first thing that happened. So what was the first thing that happened?

 

One possible answer is that the universe began. That is pretty much it, the end of the causal chain. One can then speculate at will over what that means but one is left with the basic statement of what happened first. To make the leap at this point into god did it territory, we are now left with a new first thing that happened. Because for this to work, god has to exist. Done this way, whatever it was that god actually did was predicated on god existing.

 

However, we have a new problem now. Specifically, where is god? If he is not in some place (whatever that means), then what? OK, go with some type of multiple universe idea. Perhaps god has made a bunch of universes. However, then all of those universes and god itself are all embedded in a larger reality of a currently unknown nature. And that larger reality is now the point at which the chain of causes must break (unless there are more than one of those but let's not go there).

 

 

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"The argument suggests that

"The argument suggests that everything in nature has a cause. The erroneous conclusion is that the universe has a cause, because it's part of nature."

Where in the world did you get that? Could you show me how,

(1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause

in any way "suggests that everything in nature has a cause"? Actually, it's quite easy to prove that it suggests no such thing. Take the following propositions:

(1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
(2) Some natural object X exists uncaused.

Now, are (1) and (2) contradictory? Clearly not.

Note that (2) is also consistent with the second premise of the KCA, i.e. "The universe began to exist." Hence, the KCA in no way "suggests that everything in nature has a cause."

You seem to be confusing Leibniz's contingency argument with the Kalam argument.

I'm no big fan of the KCA, but I've never seen an argument more poorly critiqued than it is (and I don't mean here; I mean in general). In fact, if you stop and think seriously about it for just a moment, you'll see that the KCA is *much* stronger than just about any argument you can formulate to justify the moral and political positions you hold, and which you believe you hold reasonably. If you doubt this, I challenge you: provide me with a valid moral or political argument that leads to a substantive conclusion that has premises that are more plausible than the premises of the KCA. I don't think it can be done.

Edejardin


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"(1) Everything that begins

"(1) Everything that begins to exist has a causein any way "suggests that everything in nature has a cause"?"

Everything in nature exists. How are you missing the very simple tie-in here? Seriously, this is simple logic.

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"Everything in nature

"Everything in nature exists. How are you missing the very simple tie-in here? Seriously, this is simple logic."

Simple logic? Kindly lay out the argument for me, with clear premises and a clear conclusion, to show me what I'm missing.

Edejardin


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Already done, but it didn't

Already done, but it didn't help you. Not that I'm surprised, mind you.

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"Already done, but it didn't

"Already done, but it didn't help you. Not that I'm surprised, mind you."

Vastet, if you think it's been done, then you have a problem with one of the key terms: premise, conclusion or argument. Not that I'm surprised, mind you.

I responded with a counterargument. If you want it laid out clearly, here it is:

(1) If both premises of the KCA are consistent with the proposition, (P) Some natural object X exists uncaused, then it's not the case that the KCA suggests that everything in nature has a cause.

(2) Both premises of the KCA are consistent with (P).

(3) Therefore, it's not the case that the KCA suggests that everything in existence has a cause.

Okay, I know you're not wont to do this, but please, if you're going to respond, *present an argument*.

Edejardin


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Bad argument

I’ve understood this argument to be:


(Premise #1)
Everything that has a beginning has a cause.


(Premise #2)
The universe had a beginning.


(Conclusion)
The universe had a cause.

The problem with this argument (and I’m a Christian) is that A it doesn’t prove anything about the cause and therefore it could have been caused by a material cause of some sort. B, if you use it to say that ‘God’ must have been that cause (prime mover) then what in the world does that have to do with some Middle-Eastern Carpenter who claimed to be God, was killed for it, and raised Himself from the dead to prove it…


It’s just a bad argument for Christians to use.

Grace and peace,

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Vastet
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"Vastet, if you think it's

"Vastet, if you think it's been done, then you have a problem with one of the key terms: premise, conclusion or argument. Not that I'm surprised, mind you."

Apparently you have a problem comprehending basic English. Not that I'm surprised, mind you.

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"Apparently you have a

"Apparently you have a problem comprehending basic English. Not that I'm surprised, mind you."

I'll tell you what: get back to me when you have either an argument or an intelligent criticism of an argument. Until then, go back to the sandbox and resume complimenting yourself on how rational you are. And don't worry: no one in the sandbox cares about arguments, either.

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:"Apparently

edejardin wrote:
"Apparently you have a problem comprehending basic English. Not that I'm surprised, mind you."

I'll tell you what: get back to me when you have either an argument or an intelligent criticism of an argument. Until then, go back to the sandbox and resume complimenting yourself on how rational you are. And don't worry: no one in the sandbox cares about arguments, either.

Right back atcha.

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"Right back atcha." Huh?

"Right back atcha."

Huh? Dude, you make no sense whatsoever. I've already presented an argument. I've critiqued an argument. You've added nada to the discussion. Example: You made a charge, to wit that I suffer from some amorphous delusion (since you've yet to define it). What precisely is the delusion I suffer from, and how precisely is it a delusion?

Edejardin


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"Huh? Dude, you make no

"Huh? Dude, you make no sense whatsoever."

The meaning was quite clear.

"I've already presented an argument."

True.

"I've critiqued an argument."

False. The kalam argument:

Premise 1: Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
Premise 2: The universe began to exist.
Conclusion 1: Therefore, the universe must have a cause.

The critism:

The argument suggests that everything in nature has a cause.

The reality:

The terms natural and universe are interchangable as everything in nature is found in the universe, and vice versa.

Your critism:

(1) Everything that begins to exist has a causein any way "suggests that everything in nature has a cause"?

My reaction:

Facepalm.

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Exnihilo, as I said, I have

Exnihilo, as I said, I have my own problems with the KCA, but I don't think the problems you've raised are among them. Craig goes on after the KCA to analyze the concept of a cause of the universe: since it causes space and time, it must be immaterial and eternal. Since it brings the universe into being out of nothing, it must be extremely powerful. Since it brought the universe into being a finite time ago, it must be personal (since an impersonally existing set of eternal necessary and sufficient conditions would entail an eternal universe). And so on. So, while the KCA doesn't get us to Christ, Craig would argue that a conceptual analysis of its conclusion does get us to an immaterial, eternal, extremely powerful personal being who brought the universe into existence a finite time ago. That's not exactly small potatoes, even if it doesn't get us to, say, the entire catechism of the Catholic Church.

Further, Craig makes what philosophers call a cumulative case argument. The KCA gets you an immaterial, eternal, extremely powerful and personal creator of the universe; the fine tuning argument gets you a being who is interested in setting things up to produce intelligent life; the moral argument gets you a being who is good and concerned with our actions; the argument from religious experience buttresses the personal nature of this being; and the argument from the resurrection of Christ gets you to Christianity. Note, I'm not endorsing Craig's reasoning, I'm merely providing a sketch of how he goes about moving from some rather abstract and nebulous creator to the Christian god.

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"You made a charge, to wit

"You made a charge, to wit that I suffer from some amorphous delusion (since you've yet to define it). What precisely is the delusion I suffer from, and how precisely is it a delusion?"

That would be belief in a deity.

Note: Even your fellow theist, eXnihilO, finds the kalam argument silly.

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The phrase "Everything that

The phrase "Everything that begins to exist" is already problematic.

Everything around us is a collection of fundamental particles, most, if not all, of which condensed out of the plasma somewhere back not long after the Big Bang. That plasma emerged as the energy of the Big Bang cooled as the Universe expanded. In a sense, the fundamental stuff of which everything is made up has existed since the singularity, and has 'just' been re-arranged into different collections of atoms which we perceive as specific objects/entities. 

The energy which also ultimately derives from the Big Bang is what drives the rearrangement into different structures, and in that sense is the 'cause' of all activity, including re-organisations of matter which we perceive as the 'coming into existence' of some discrete object, but really "begins to exist" is a not really a precisely defined event for anything, just a point on the actually continuous rearrangement of the raw stuff of the universe that we perceive as a particularly significant transition.

So from our point of view within our Universe, the only thing which possibly could be said to have "begun to exist", is the Big-Bang, ie the Universe itself, and that could well have been the start of Time itself, making even "begin" a tricky term.

it all just boils down to what, if anything was required to trigger the Big-Bang? Science suggest that it need be nothing more than a random quantum twitch which happened to exceed some threshhold level.

Arguments which express things in such archaic terms as these 'classic' arguments are just so outdated in their concepts that they don't really get to first base.

IOW we don't actually observe anything "beginning to exist", we just see specific recognizable objects forming from other pre-existing stuff, driven by a flow of pre-existing energy. There is not necessarily any discrete, unique , identifiable 'cause'.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Bobspence, did you begin to

Bobspence, did you begin to exist? Have you always existed? Did you exist in the Precambrian? Think about it this way: the 'stuff' out of which you're made cannot be identified with 'Bobspence': you possess sundry properties that all of it lacked before you came into existence, just as a house has a host of properties that the materials out of which its made lack before it's built. Now, if any X and the stuff out of which it's made don't have the same properties, they *cannot* be identified. So, quite clearly, you did begin to exist. Now, whether we can solve the version of the sorites paradox you're setting up is no more important with respect to the question of *if* it can be meaningfully said that you began to exist than it is in obvious cases when we ask whether X is in fact fat, or bald, or orange rather than red. I may not be able to tell you after precisely which additional milligram the guy who now cannot get out of his bed became fat -- the milligram before which he was not fat -- but that doesn't in any way preclude me from meaningfully saying that he is now in fact fat. Similarly, I may not be able to draw a precise, non-arbitrary line between the nanosecond at which you didn't exist, and the one at which you did, but that doesn't change the fact that there was a point at which you did not exist, and thus, since you now uncontroversially exist, that you did indeed begin to exist.

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:Bobspence,

edejardin wrote:

Bobspence, did you begin to exist? Have you always existed? Did you exist in the Precambrian? Think about it this way: the 'stuff' out of which you're made cannot be identified with 'Bobspence': you possess sundry properties that all of it lacked before you came into existence, just as a house has a host of properties that the materials out of which its made lack before it's built. Now, if any X and the stuff out of which it's made don't have the same properties, they *cannot* be identified. So, quite clearly, you did begin to exist. Now, whether we can solve the version of the sorites paradox you're setting up is no more important with respect to the question of *if* it can be meaningfully said that you began to exist than it is in obvious cases when we ask whether X is in fact fat, or bald, or orange rather than red. I may not be able to tell you after precisely which additional milligram the guy who now cannot get out of his bed became fat -- the milligram before which he was not fat -- but that doesn't in any way preclude me from meaningfully saying that he is now in fact fat. Similarly, I may not be able to draw a precise, non-arbitrary line between the nanosecond at which you didn't exist, and the one at which you did, but that doesn't change the fact that there was a point at which you did not exist, and thus, since you now uncontroversially exist, that you did indeed begin to exist.

"BobSpence" is a label applied to an identifiably coherent, persistent collection of matter which can in principle be linked continuously back thu time to a very different collection of matter which emerged from the womb of my mother. And further back to a single fertilized cell, and and then traced back thru two cells, one that originally grew in the womb of my mother's mother, and another in the gonads of my father. And so on.

My personal awareness of myself, which is a process, not a material object, and so not subject to the Law of Conservation of matter/energy, and so can really "begin to exist", emerged gradually at an early stage in this process after "I" emerged from the womb.

Precisely what are you claiming "began to exist"? And where along this chain would you say that event occurred?

I am saying that that is not a meaningful phrase to apply to real world 'entities' within this universe. It is best applied to processes, not objects, or specific entities.

MY awareness began to exist at some time in my development, as it will cease to exist when I  die or go into a final stage of unconsciousness. Or it may gradually dissipate if Alzheimers or some such deterioration takes hold. My body will still exist.

We can say that before the fusion of egg and sperm, there was no unitary entity which was part of the sequence which came to be described as "bobspence". So that could be said to be when "I" "began to exist", but "I" as a thinking person did not begin then.

"Formed" or "began to develop and/or grow" would be better questions, somewhat more precise,  especially if you are conducting serious discussions on these issues.

When did the Sun "begin to exist"?

We can say that probably a large collection of gas and dust began to coalesce under the influence of gravity, getting hotter, until some nuclear reactions began to occur, releasing energy in the form of heat and light, and eventually forming a spherical glowing ball of nuclear fire.

Did it begin when the cloud started to collapse, or when the nuclear reactions started, or when it reached some level of light output?

All we can ask is when some entity reached some point in its growth and development. 

So all we really see is change. Using the term "begin to exist" is a matter of how we classify the different aspects of the changing forms we see.

That could well apply to the Universe. Whatever is the ultimate elementary 'stuff' of existence just became rearranged, due to the endless churn and twitchiness that Quantum Mechanics sees to reveal at the fundamental level of reality, in such a pattern that a Big Bang was triggered.

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, but the structures it can be arranged into can form and disappear.

Something that simply exists and does not change is just part of the background on which reality 'happens'. It may provide and constrain the nature of change that actually can occur, but to think of some such changeless thing as initiating and 'creating' anything would be like saying that the inert rocky foundation of the continents created life.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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All you have to do is answer

All you have to do is answer one simple question: Do you have different properties from the ones that could be attributed to the 'stuff' that now composes you as it was, say, ninety years ago? The answer is so obvious that it could only be denied by one who fears the consequences of admitting it.

Edejardin


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jup

edejardin wrote:
Exnihilo, as I said, I have my own problems with the KCA, but I don't think the problems you've raised are among them...

Let me be clearer.

If you abandon the Bible to make arguments on the same grounds that unbelievers want and you somehow get them to think God 'probably' exists as a result then all you really do is prove that some type of god or godlike thing, perhaps even pantheism is responsible for creation... its zigging when you need to zag, it's probably the reason God made the argument bad..  The next step is always a fight about some other point that the unbeliever disagrees with. Cuting to the chase is best I think.

Also this method will be bad when you later try to direct them back to the Bible as if you've needed it thus far.

If you appeal to science, reason, and history to prove your case then God is no longer your ultimate authority, science, reason, and history are. You have just made God subject to evidence and thus have elevated your own courtroom of reason and the unbelievers over the authority of God himself.

The Bible never encourages us to prove that God exists, rather we are told that men know God and in their unrighteousness they suppress the truth. They are therefore without excuse as Romans 1 tells us.

Probably not the best place to talk about this Smiling

Grace and peace,

Speaking Truth in love,

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eXnihilO wrote:If you appeal

eXnihilO wrote:

If you appeal to science, reason, and history to prove your case then God is no longer your ultimate authority, science, reason, and history are. You have just made God subject to evidence and thus have elevated your own courtroom of reason and the unbelievers over the authority of God himself.

The Bible never encourages us to prove that God exists, rather we are told that men know God and in their unrighteousness they suppress the truth. They are therefore without excuse as Romans 1 tells us.

Probably not the best place to talk about this Smiling

Oh, this is the perfect place to talk about this. Please continue.


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edejardin wrote:All you have

edejardin wrote:
All you have to do is answer one simple question: Do you have different properties from the ones that could be attributed to the 'stuff' that now composes you as it was, say, ninety years ago? The answer is so obvious that it could only be denied by one who fears the consequences of admitting it.

This question is funny. Clearly you want him to say yes so you can have an aha! moment, failing to realise that answering yes doesn't give you that moment at all. Water has properties that aren't shared by oxygen and hydrogen, but there's no need to make up a god to explain it.

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edejardin wrote:All you have

edejardin wrote:
All you have to do is answer one simple question: Do you have different properties from the ones that could be attributed to the 'stuff' that now composes you as it was, say, ninety years ago? The answer is so obvious that it could only be denied by one who fears the consequences of admitting it.

Fears? WTF?

That is a poorly phrased question.

Let me put this in as simple terms as I can (there are subtle concepts here):

I already said, that the key thing we see with regard to objects is change, transformation.

Composite objects, such as my body, a house, etc, virtually always have different properties from the stuff that they are 'made of'.

The fundamental stuff of our Universe pretty much began to exist, if it ever really "began", in the Big Bang.

As you work up the scale to protons and neutrons, to atoms, to molecules, 'substances', living cells, plants and animals, and so on, we see things frequently rearranged into new forms and structures. 

If a collection of lower-level bits are re-arranged into a very different structure which then persists with no, little or only slow change, we can say that somewhere in the major relatively rapid change period, something "came into existence". To at least some extent such a statement is an subjective categorisation. How much change of what kind would cause us to longer identify some object as the same as some earlier version of 'itself' (which is already begging the question)? Is it the physical appearance or the stuff it is made of? Either or both often change over the 'life-time' of the object, including our 'selves'.

Identification of a specific composite entity is at least to some extent fuzzy, at the edges. Are the loose dead skin cells about to flake off my arm part of "me"?

My body contains few of the same individual atoms that made it up 10-20 years ago. The stuff that made up my new-born body is now scattered around in many other things. You don't have to go back before I was born.

"I", the process of consciousness occurring in my brain, has memories which provide me with with a reasonable feeling of continuity with an earlier version of my body/brain, but there are unfortunate individuals for whom this does not hold, and it is a valid question to ask in what sense is there really some unique "consciousness" which IS the one manifested by earlier versions of that brain.

Even without such mental pathologies, it is a very real question to ask just what makes that student 50 years ago "me"? There are memories, but memories fade and change. Physically changes are also quite significant. Many attitudes, beliefs, desires change thru life. Such changes easily exceed the degree of difference that we would use to clearly distinguish two individuals as different people.

And don't bother to bring up that 'soul' nonsense. "Soul" is a fine allegorical concept, but as some sort of 'supernatural' entity it is nonsense.

To sum up, basing any serious argument on the simplistic understanding of reality conveyed to me by the first statement of the argument in question just strikes me as absurd, and it goes downhill from there.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


edejardin
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Interestingly, here's Craig

Interestingly, here's Craig responding to your very objection (the relevant part starts at 1:24). He's even less impressed with it than I am!

Edejardin


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edejardin

edejardin wrote:
Interestingly, here's Craig responding to your very objection (the relevant part starts at 1:24). He's even less impressed with it than I am!

Of course, he has the same simplistic view of what I am arguing that you have. I wouldn't have expected anything else from him, based on previous observations.

It really needs a more sophisticated view of the nature of 'cause' and 'effect' and the categorization of 'things', as I tried to point out. Yes, forms and processes and patterns and specific structures can be said to "begin to exist", but it is meaningless to say everything, or strictly, to extend it to everything renders it a mere 'truism', like "all heavy objects tend to fall toward the earth".

In some sense it is not so much that the statement is "wrong" -  it just not advance the argument. It is the assumptions that ride along with it that are the more serious misconceptions, in particular naive notions of cause and effect.

In that sense it is a distraction from the core argument about an "uncaused cause".

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


edejardin
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"he has the same simplistic

"he has the same simplistic view of what I am arguing that you have."

Not at all. I acknowledged the version of the sorites paradox you're raising; I merely maintain that it does no work here.

What I would like to know is if you consistently apply the reasoning you're defending here to other areas. For example, consider the mess it would make of a host of key concepts we use in evolutionary theory. (I'm a thoroughgoing evolutionist, mind you; I merely use evolution as a counterexample every chance I get when discussing these issues with atheists, for rather obvious reasons.)

"Yes, forms and processes and patterns and specific structures can be said to "begin to exist", but it is meaningless to say everything."

How would it be meaningless? I can make sense of the proposition, "The universe began to exist," or, "The universe came into existence a finite time ago from literally nothing (a la Vilenkin's sense of nothingness)." That is to say, these statements are not 'meaningless'; I wonder if you meant something else. If 'meaningless' is the correct term, then I must ask what your criterion (or criteria) of meaning is (I'm surmising it's akin to the positivist criterion of meaning, but I'll wait until you respond).

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:"he has the

edejardin wrote:
"he has the same simplistic view of what I am arguing that you have." Not at all. I acknowledged the version of the sorites paradox you're raising; I merely maintain that it does no work here. What I would like to know is if you consistently apply the reasoning you're defending here to other areas. For example, consider the mess it would make of a host of key concepts we use in evolutionary theory. (I'm a thoroughgoing evolutionist, mind you; I merely use evolution as a counterexample every chance I get when discussing these issues with atheists, for rather obvious reasons.) "Yes, forms and processes and patterns and specific structures can be said to "begin to exist", but it is meaningless to say everything." How would it be meaningless? I can make sense of the proposition, "The universe began to exist," or, "The universe came into existence a finite time ago from literally nothing (a la Vilenkin's sense of nothingness)." That is to say, these statements are not 'meaningless'; I wonder if you meant something else. If 'meaningless' is the correct term, then I must ask what your criterion (or criteria) of meaning is (I'm surmising it's akin to the positivist criterion of meaning, but I'll wait until you respond).

"Meaningless" in the sense that if it applies to everything, it is really not saying anything as significant as it sounds. Even "came into existence" sounds less archaic, and doesn't imply as specifically an initiating event. It also doesn't seem to imply some clearly defined "beginning" to what is in reality a more-or-less continual process of change, especially in the context of both Darwinian and stellar evolution.

I already said that other expressions are more appropriate, such as "creatures that could be reasonably described as X, or immediate ancestors of X, have been detected in the fossil record at this period." Or even just "first appear" at some period. It is far less question-begging to my mind than "began to exist".

And i have repeatedly said that the Universe is the one example where such an expression is most reasonably appropriate. 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology