Refuting the kalam argument

ShaunPhilly
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Refuting the kalam argument

I just finished the first draft of a new essay. It is a different approach to looking at the kalam cosmological argument (new to me, at least).

refuting kalam

I take a stab at the ontological and design arguements with the same point of attack, but focus mostly on kalam.

My essential point is that theists choose to attrbute to God the powers of a creator while at the same time denying that the natural universe can have the same powers. It seems a biased an arbitrary choice, and one that doesn't seem to hold up given the classical refutation of the classical cosmological argument; that of the need for a creator for the creator.

Any criticism, thoughts, and (of course) showerings of praise would be highly welcome and appreciated.

Shaun

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dchernik
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Defending Kalam

1. You start by saying that

"[The cosmological argument] chooses a god as the creator of the universe based on attributing, arbitrarily, powers to the creator god that is denied to the natural universe. This is, in essence, assuming the powers of a god whose very existence the argument is supposed to prove."

I disagree. The universe is not self-existing; it does not have the attribute of aseity which is "existence originating from and having no source other than itself." There is a difference between what a thing is or its "essence" and its existence, between its essence and its accidental features, between the particular object and the object's nature, between form and matter, and so on. Therefore denying the universe aseity is not arbitrary; it is due to everyday observations. God, on the other hand, is a perfectly unified simple being. "Nothing at all," I write elsewhere, "can come between God and His being to threaten it, as it can with creatures, because they are one and the same."

The cosmological argument does not assume the existence of God. It says "there must be an immutable first cause of all change in the universe, and that is what everyone calls God." Natural theology is not a process of justifying some pre-existing concept of God; it is discovering what God actually is.

But is it not arbitrary to say that the first cause must possess aseity, be uncreated, eternal, infinite, etc.? No, these properties follow from the fact that the being we are discussing is outside of nature. That God is pure act can be proved independently. God's immutability follows from his pure actuality, simplicity, and perfection. God's eternity follows from His immutability; His infinity is defined as an absence of all limitations, proved because "the divine being is not a being received in anything"; etc.

Why must there be something to give you existence? Can't you say, "I exist and that's the end of it. I depend on nothing."? But this will not do. For you are a contingent being; you don't have to exist, and hence something is responsible not only for bringing you into being but also for sustaining you in being. The same question applies to the universe as a whole. It, either, does not disappear for a reason. And the being who created and sustains it is what we call God.

2. You then take issue with the idea that an actual infinite cannot exist. First, is not God actually infinite? Not in the sense of immense size but as lacking any limitations on His being and power. He is infinite, because He is "infinitely great" in the sense of possessing the various "great-making" properties such as omniscience.

You write that "There is no reason to reject, out of hand, that the universe can't be an actual infinite (or, for that matter, that it is incapable of self-cause) no matter how non-sensible it sounds."

Well, so much for the alleged superior atheistic "rationality."

3. The mention of the Big Bang is irrelevant; we are discussing philosophy. But I seem to detect the hope that one day, perhaps, scientists will overturn this theory which obviously has theistic implications, and all will be well with the world again. Good luck with that.

4. "The universe began to exist, hence God created it" is not a "god of the gaps" argument. The actual conclusion, again, has this form: The cause of the universe is what everyone calls God.

5. "[The fallacy] lies in the proposition that the explanation of a creator, excepted from the rule that it must have a cause, outside of the universe is somehow more valid than the proposition that the universe (or at least the natural forces that drive it) is sufficient in creating itself. Put plainly, the problem is that the kalam arguer believes, implicitly, that God is a more likely explanation than nature."

What nature? There was no nature logically prior to the universe.

6. "[T]he cosmological argument makes 'the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress.'" Not if God's essence is His existence, such that God exists necessarily. This is so for several reasons. First, because nothing can give God existence, for God is the first efficient cause, as shown above. Second, God is pure actuality, and if his essence and existence were separate, there would be a potentiality in Him. Third, God is also His own nature and has no accidents, and therefore existence, did it not belong to His essence, would be an accident; God would be a being "by participation." From these it follows that in God essence and existence are one. Therefore there is no need for any regress.

7. "Also, it seems odd to declare that existence is somehow 'better' than non-existence."

Odd? Why odd?

8. The parody of the ontological argument cited is problematic for at least two reasons. First, it might be a greater achievement to create the world when you don't exist than when you do, but with respect to being as such, non-existence is infinitely less in greatness than existence. God is the fullness of being, a superabundance of life, much better than the void. This should be self-evident. Second, it is of course impossible for nothingness to create.


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chernik, your entire

chernik, your entire argument stems from your assertive belief in a god, yet you provide no proof for god, only disproof for a lack of god...and, due to the double negative therein, proves nothing.

dchernik wrote:
The cause of the universe is what everyone calls God.

when speaking of the 'cause of the universe', one must assume we are referring to the universe as we currently experience it, because speaking otherwise, there was no 'cause' to the universe.
if the current state of the universe was brought about by the nature of the universe prior, then "what everybody calls God" is simply the universe, a non-sentient, non-intelligent mass that each of us inhabits.

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What nature? There was no nature logically prior to the universe.

logically, there was no 'prior' in reference to the universe. nothing within the universe comes into nor goes out of existence, so logically, the universe has always existed.

Fear is the mindkiller.


darth_josh
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dchernik, You made your

dchernik,
You made your assertion:

dchernik wrote:
God, on the other hand, is a perfectly unified simple being.

and then proceeded to expound upon this 'simple being' in a way that ShaunPhilly had already addressed as the prime problem with this 'prime mover' in the statement prior to what you first quoted from his work.

After that you go on to cursorily rebuff the usage of the metaphorical terms used by ShaunPhilly and then finally use your own undefined metaphorical terms to argue his point for him concerning the apologetic method.

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ShaunPhilly
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Concerning God being a

Concerning God being a simple being;

So, the creator of a complex and massive universe, whom is able to (supposedly) hear every thought, know every action, and act in any way on any place (or all places simultaneously) is "simple?"

If that's the case, I'd hate to hear your definition of complex.

God must be the most complex thing in the universe to have all those powers. We ca't even simulate them with our most complex computers, yet God, being simple, can actually do it.

That sounds like some really impressive mind-gymnastics to me.

Of course, the actual true explanation might be simple, just like the natural process of natural selection s relatively simple yet produces comlex results. However, the hypothesis of God is not simple. Saying so don't make it so. If the process, principle, etc cause of the universe turns out to be simple (like natural selection is simple), at that point you could point to it and say it's "God," but pre-defining whatever that cause is (if such a thing exists) as "God" is premature. I doubt it will look anything like the God of the BIble, for examle.

Besides, knowingthe universe has a creating force is a long way from having any actual implications for anythinh else, let alone any particular religion. And since a creator cannot be shown to be the correect answer, invoking a potential one as "God" and then using that invocation to defend any particular dogmatism (as Christian apologists do, for example), is clearly unsupportable.

That first reply to me article really demonstrated the blind spot in theists mind.

Shaun

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But where is the substance

But where is the substance of god, that dchernik can even test what it is?

How can he say what god is? Does he have another god to compare it to?

He can see that things exist. That's all he can state with certainty.

He can't begin to say that it came to us from anywhere, let alone a thing called 'god.'


dchernik
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IS God Simple?

But the simplicity of God is a standard Christian doctrine. Aquinas puts it this way:

Quote:
The absolute simplicity of God may be shown in many ways. First, from the previous articles of this question. For there is neither composition of quantitative parts in God, since He is not a body; nor composition of matter and form; nor does His nature differ from His "suppositum"; nor His essence from His existence; neither is there in Him composition of genus and difference, nor of subject and accident. Therefore, it is clear that God is nowise composite, but is altogether simple.

Secondly, because every composite is posterior to its component parts, and is dependent on them; but God is the first being [dependent on nothing], as shown above.

Thirdly, because every composite has a cause, for things in themselves different cannot unite unless something causes them to unite. But God is uncaused, as shown above, since He is the first efficient cause.

Fourthly, because in every composite there must be potentiality and actuality; but this does not apply to God; for either one of the parts actuates another, or at least all the parts are potential to the whole.

Fifthly, because nothing composite can be predicated of any single one of its parts. And this is evident in a whole made up of dissimilar parts; for no part of a man is a man, nor any of the parts of the foot, a foot. But in wholes made up of similar parts, although something which is predicated of the whole may be predicated of a part (as a part of the air is air, and a part of water, water), nevertheless certain things are predicable of the whole which cannot be predicated of any of the parts; for instance, if the whole volume of water is two cubits, no part of it can be two cubits. Thus in every composite there is something which is not it itself. But, even if this could be said of whatever has a form, viz. that it has something which is not it itself, as in a white object there is something which does not belong to the essence of white; nevertheless in the form itself, there is nothing besides itself. And so, since God is absolute form, or rather absolute being, He can be in no way composite. (ST, I, 3, 7)

He adds: "With us composite things are better than simple things, because the perfections of created goodness cannot be found in one simple thing, but in many things. But the perfection of divine goodness is found in one simple thing." (Ibid., ad 2)

We can add, sixthly, that simplicity follows from immutability. What is unchangeable is indivisible, and the only way to attain indivisibility is to have God be simple.

Quote:
Besides, knowingthe universe has a creating force is a long way from having any actual implications for anythinh else, let alone any particular religion. And since a creator cannot be shown to be the correect answer, invoking a potential one as "God" and then using that invocation to defend any particular dogmatism (as Christian apologists do, for example), is clearly unsupportable.

I did not defend any particular dogmatism in my post. To take the bait, however, the God of the philosophers is obviously not the whole God as found in Christianity. But philosophy can give us a pretty thick slice of God nevertheless.

I think you argue that theists attribute powers to the "being everyone calls God" that nature also has. But this is simply not so. Simplicity, infinity, immutability, eternity, perfection, omni-... love, etc. do not belong to the universe. Now you may ask why we need a being with such perfections at all. Why can't the universe simply exist without God? That's where the arguments for the existence of God come into play. They show that the universe is dependent upon something else, and we give that something else the name "God."


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dchernik wrote:But the

dchernik wrote:
But the simplicity of God is a standard Christian doctrine.

LOL

I know it is a doctrine of the church. That doesn't, however, make it true.

Quote:
Aquinas puts it this way:

Quote:
The absolute simplicity of God may be shown in many ways. First, from the previous articles of this question. For there is neither composition of quantitative parts in God, since He is not a body; nor composition of matter and form; nor does His nature differ from His "suppositum"; nor His essence from His existence; neither is there in Him composition of genus and difference, nor of subject and accident. Therefore, it is clear that God is nowise composite, but is altogether simple.

I understand; God is not a complex thing with parts. What I'm saying is that if this is the claim, I don't accept it. If God is supposed to have these abilities which interact with our universe, then in some way he must be able to actually interact with our universe. How does a non-physical and simple transcendent being interact with a complex physical universe. This is the so-called "interaction problem" that plagues not only this question but also mind/body dualism.

I don't expect an actual answer to it other than that we arbitrarily say that God has these abilities that nature does not. Defining this necessary being into existence because you see this being as necessary does not make it true.

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Secondly, because every composite is posterior to its component parts, and is dependent on them; but God is the first being [dependent on nothing], as shown above.

This is the exact exception I'm talking about. You are, again, making my point for me by being the example of what I'm talking about.

Quote:
Thirdly, because every composite has a cause, for things in themselves different cannot unite unless something causes them to unite. But God is uncaused, as shown above, since He is the first efficient cause.

What I said above. The claim is that God is simple, necessary, and non-composite. I'm saying that anything that does fit this definition would not have any powers at all,pertaining to this universe let alone the power to create universes.

Quote:
Fourthly, because in every composite there must be potentiality and actuality; but this does not apply to God; for either one of the parts actuates another, or at least all the parts are potential to the whole.

Fifthly, because nothing composite can be predicated of any single one of its parts. And this is evident in a whole made up of dissimilar parts; for no part of a man is a man, nor any of the parts of the foot, a foot. But in wholes made up of similar parts, although something which is predicated of the whole may be predicated of a part (as a part of the air is air, and a part of water, water), nevertheless certain things are predicable of the whole which cannot be predicated of any of the parts; for instance, if the whole volume of water is two cubits, no part of it can be two cubits. Thus in every composite there is something which is not it itself. But, even if this could be said of whatever has a form, viz. that it has something which is not it itself, as in a white object there is something which does not belong to the essence of white; nevertheless in the form itself, there is nothing besides itself. And so, since God is absolute form, or rather absolute being, He can be in no way composite. (ST, I, 3, 7)

This is all mental masterbation. It is meaningless fluff. It is pure speculation and does not pertain to reality at all. Just because some ideas can be understood, are intenally consistant (or at least appear to be by some), and sound "deep" and meaningful does not mean that they are true.

Quote:
He adds: "With us composite things are better than simple things, because the perfections of created goodness cannot be found in one simple thing, but in many things. But the perfection of divine goodness is found in one simple thing." (Ibid., ad 2)

Ah yes, the old claim that our wisdom is not God's. It's the old game of hiding the proof behind an invincible wall. By saying that no matter how hard we try, the simplicity will always confound us mere finite beings, you are making an unfalsifiable claim. it is, however, not unrejectable.

Quote:
We can add, sixthly, that simplicity follows from immutability. What is unchangeable is indivisible, and the only way to attain indivisibility is to have God be simple.

You seem to still be missing the essenital point here. I'm saying that your claim that this being is necessary is a false claim, not that the universe necessarily takes on the qualities. I'm saying that the qualities you ascribe to God here do not exist anywhere; they are imaginary qualities. And even if these qualities did exist, it is a biased choice to say that the universe cannot have them based on what some blow-hard said in the 12th century.

The attributes that I am claiming the universe might have, which you attribute to God, are the qualities of being able to create. The qualities that Aquinas talks about are pure unsupported speculation, not having anything to do with reality. To base the idea that God must exist because the universe cannot have qualities that are made up by men in the12th century that got off on out-dated interpretations of Aristotelean logic is, well, ridiculous.

I said:"Besides, knowing the universe has a creating force is a long way from having any actual implications for anythinh else, let alone any particular religion. And since a creator cannot be shown to be the correect answer, invoking a potential one as "God" and then using that invocation to defend any particular dogmatism (as Christian apologists do, for example), is clearly unsupportable."

to which you replied

Quote:
I did not defend any particular dogmatism in my post. To take the bait, however, the God of the philosophers is obviously not the whole God as found in Christianity. But philosophy can give us a pretty thick slice of God nevertheless.

If you say so. I think it gives us nothing more than deism, at best.

Quote:
I think you argue that theists attribute powers to the "being everyone calls God" that nature also has. But this is simply not so. Simplicity, infinity, immutability, eternity, perfection, omni-... love, etc. do not belong to the universe.

Simplicity and love don't exist in the universe? So, you've either never loved or are not part of the universe, right?

Quote:
Now you may ask why we need a being with such perfections at all. Why can't the universe simply exist without God? That's where the arguments for the existence of God come into play. They show that the universe is dependent upon something else, and we give that something else the name "God."

But you haven't shown that the universe is dependent upon anything else. That's the point.

Shaun

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dchernik
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So you think that God should

So you think that God should be excised by Occam's razor: it is superfluous, because the universe (space and time, trees, humans, tables and chairs, etc.) is self-existent, and possesses every perfection that theists attribute to God, is that correct? Or do you believe that though the universe does not possess these perfections, nonetheless God is unnecessary, because He does not explain anything?

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How does a non-physical and simple transcendent being interact with a complex physical universe.

So this ignorance of a divine mystery is what makes you an atheist? Jeez.

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The claim is that God is simple, necessary, and non-composite. I'm saying that anything that does fit this definition would not have any powers at all,pertaining to this universe let alone the power to create universes.

And why not?

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This is all mental masterbation. It is meaningless fluff. It is pure speculation and does not pertain to reality at all. Just because some ideas can be understood, are intenally consistant (or at least appear to be by some), and sound "deep" and meaningful does not mean that they are true.

It's either "meaningless fluff" or it "sounds 'deep' and meaningful." Make up your mind. Also, you have to show where St. Thomas is wrong. He might be, but you have to prove it.

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Ah yes, the old claim that our wisdom is not God's.

I make no such claim.

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I'm saying that the qualities you ascribe to God here do not exist anywhere; they are imaginary qualities. And even if these qualities did exist, it is a biased choice to say that the universe cannot have them based on what some blow-hard said in the 12th century.

The attributes that I am claiming the universe might have, which you attribute to God, are the qualities of being able to create.

What we disagree then is on the ability of natural theology to move us toward understanding God, what He is and what He is not. You think the whole enterprise is misguided; I don't. But you have not proven your claim. In order to assert that theology is illegitimate you have to explain why it is so.

Second, the universe has the power to create? Create what? Itself? (Come on, even God is not a cause of His own existence; He is His own existence.) Stars and planets? Life? Human beings? I don't have to tell you that all of these are controversial. And they are irrelevant to either the cosmological or kalam argument anyway.

Quote:
[Philosophy] gives us nothing more than deism, at best.

No, it gives us theism. We can show that God has a will; therefore He has love; therefore He loves everything that exists, because in existing things imitate God who is Being itself subsisting. And since human beings and angels are more like God than anything else, given the axiom that everything loves its like, we deduce that God loves us more than anything else He created.

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But you haven't shown that the universe is dependent upon anything else. That's the point.

But I wasn't trying. Why don't you get Peter Kreeft's "Handbook of Christian Apologetics" and see if any of his 20 arguments for the existence of God appeal to you. You might make it a project to refute them, if you like.


darth_josh
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Let's see. Crazy, Ignorant,

Let's see.
Crazy, Ignorant, or Lying?

dchernik wrote:
So this ignorance of a divine mystery is what makes you an atheist?

divine mystery??? The very concept of a mystery involves examining available evidence to point toward the cause. By up-chucking the adjective 'divine' in front of that, you cut off any other cause for the mystery besides a god. Thus directing the discussion to your assertion by faith that there is a god.

The probability/possibility that this might not be the case never enters your examination.

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dchernik
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Mystery

From m-w.com:

Mystery

1 a : a religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand b (1) : any of the 15 events (as the Nativity, the Crucifixion, or the Assumption) serving as a subject for meditation during the saying of the rosary (2) capitalized : a Christian sacrament; specifically : EUCHARIST...

2 a : something not understood or beyond understanding : ENIGMA

Apparently, "the very concept of a mystery" involves nothing of the sort, lol.


darth_josh
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Well, I'll be. lol. Here's

Well, I'll be. lol.

Here's the first four from dictionary.com

mystery
1. anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown: the mysteries of nature.
2. any affair, thing, or person that presents features or qualities so obscure as to arouse curiosity or speculation: The masked guest is an absolute mystery to everyone.
3. a novel, short story, play, or film whose plot involves a crime or other event that remains puzzlingly unsettled until the very end: a mystery by Agatha Christie.
4. obscure, puzzling, or mysterious quality or character: the mystery of Mona Lisa's smile.

So, by your citing the other 5 definitions would you have told me that the van that Scooby-Doo rode in was called a 'god micro-bus' rather than the 'mystery machine'?

Agatha Christie wrote only stories that you could figure out by divine revelation???

Alfred Hitchcock presents....... stories god told him???

wtf?

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dchernik
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In order to show that the

In order to show that the "the very concept of a mystery" need not necessarily involve "examining available evidence to point toward the cause" and that the phrase "divine mystery" is a legitimate one I only have to produce a single definition from a reputable dictionary. "Mystery" obviously has other meanings which you pointed out (as if we were unaware of them -- come on, man). But that in no wise salvages your argument.


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let's not go off on a

let's not go off on a tangent here. instead, let's talk about "examining available evidence to point toward the cause".
chernik, your claims possess no evidence to support them, therefore they point to nothing.
our claims possess tons of evidence, therefore they point to a most probable truth, if they haven't already been wholly proven as fact.

Fear is the mindkiller.


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dchernik wrote:The universe

dchernik wrote:
The universe is not self-existing

Oh okay if you say so...
WTF? Based on what? A book written by people who thought the earth was flat? Wake up FFS.


dchernik
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I see. So, according to you,

I see. So, according to you, bucket, the universe is necessary; it cannot not exist. Is that your claim?


ShaunPhilly
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dchernik wrote:I see. So,

dchernik wrote:
I see. So, according to you, bucket, the universe is necessary; it cannot not exist. Is that your claim?

I'll not speak for him, but I'll ask in response why attributing necessary existence to the universe, no matter how absurd that sounds to you, is any more absurd than hypothesizing a god then attributing that necessary existence (which you say the universe can't have) to it instead?

Your answer is essentially that god can have it, while the universe can't, because someone defines god as having the type of existence that would allow that necessity. It's circular reasoning. You are biased to allow the god, which is defined by theologians, to have the power you cannot concieve being part of the natural universe.

I understand your point;

1) God is a the being for which existence is necessary
2)The universe's existence is not necessary
3) Therefore, the universe needs god to create it.

I'm sayign that there is no reason to accept either premise. You say that they are true by definition. I don't accept the definitions.

edit:

As an afterthought, I think that is why people like Spinoza have said that the universe is God. If this statement, known as pantheism, were true, then it would mean that the universe can create itself, right?

I think, however, that atheism and pantheism are indistinguishable; it merely says that the universe is all that is, and we call it 'god'. I say the universe is all there is, and I call it 'universe.' A rose by any other name...

Shaun

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Quote:I'll ask in response

Quote:
I'll ask in response why attributing necessary existence to the universe, no matter how absurd that sounds to you...

Does it sound absurd to you?

Quote:
I understand your point;

1) God is a the being for which existence is necessary
2)The universe's existence is not necessary
3) Therefore, the universe needs god to create it.

I'm sayign that there is no reason to accept either premise. You say that they are true by definition. I don't accept the definitions.

Premise 1) is not a definition. Did you not read what I wrote in my first post? "Natural theology is not a process of justifying some pre-existing concept of God; it is discovering what God actually is." Nor is it defining God with arbitrary properties. 1) can be proven as follows, and this is from the Summa:

"First, whatever a thing has besides its essence must be caused either by the constituent principles of that essence (like a property that necessarily accompanies the species -- as the faculty of laughing is proper to a man -- and is caused by the constituent principles of the species), or by some exterior agent -- as heat is caused in water by fire. Therefore, if the existence of a thing differs from its essence, this existence must be caused either by some exterior agent or by its essential principles. Now it is impossible for a thing's existence to be caused by its essential constituent principles, for nothing can be the sufficient cause of its own existence, if its existence is caused. Therefore that thing, whose existence differs from its essence, must have its existence caused by another. But this cannot be true of God; because we call God the first efficient cause. Therefore it is impossible that in God His existence should differ from His essence.

"Secondly, existence is that which makes every form or nature actual; for goodness and humanity are spoken of as actual, only because they are spoken of as existing. Therefore existence must be compared to essence, if the latter is a distinct reality, as actuality to potentiality. Therefore, since in God there is no potentiality..., it follows that in Him essence does not differ from existence. Therefore His essence is His existence.

"Thirdly, because, just as that which has fire, but is not itself fire, is on fire by participation; so that which has existence but is not existence, is a being by participation. But God is His own essence...; if, therefore, He is not His own existence He will be not essential, but participated being. He will not therefore be the first being -- which is absurd. Therefore God is His own existence, and not merely His own essence."

Premise 2) is not a definition either. First, the universe is not a single object; it is at the very least space/time, matter, and energy. You could say that some things in the universe, such as space and matter, are imperishable, that is, they do not tend to go out of existence. But in every object within the universe there is a distinction between what it is (its essence) and that it is (its existence). You can imagine a unicorn, for example, without it existing. This should be self-evident.

Second, in the possible worlds semantics of modal logic a proposition is necessary if it is true in every possible world. Now consider yourself. Do you exist in all possible worlds? Of course not. We can easily imagine a world in which you do not exist. Hence you are not necessary. Even if your soul is naturally imperishable, nonetheless there is a difference between imperishability and absolute necessity. But does what applies to objects within the universe apply to the universe itself? I see absolutely no reason why not. Our world could have been vastly different. And it might not have existed at all. The burden of demonstrating something so counter-intuitive as that the universe cannot not exist is on you.

Third, Aquinas's "third way" is actually more complicated than you present it. In it he first shows that "if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence." Here he presupposes the past eternity of the world and reasons that, given infinite time, all possibilities would be realized, including the possibility of simultaneous non-existence of all contingent (perishable) things. It may be objected that even if all the things in the universe actually corrupted, then their matter could still exist under different forms. But this presupposes that matter as such is not perishable, only the things that are received in it are. Hence in that case matter will be one of the necessary or imperishable things whose existence Aqunas is trying to establish in this proof. Now our author assumes that the universe itself, composed as it is of contingent things, is also contingent and would therefore have ceased to exist at some point in the past. (Again, if this assumption is incorrect, then the universe is necessary.) But from nothing nothing comes. So nothing would exist now, which is absurd. What if the universe began to exist a finite amount of time ago? In that case, ontologically prior to the universe's coming into being, there must have been nothing in existence at all. But once again, from nothing nothing comes. Therefore, there must exist a necessary being (or beings), which cannot not exist. Some things that are necessary are matter, angels, and human souls, because they have no inherent potentiality to cease to be. Further, these necessary or imperishable things are such either of themselves or derivatively, when their existence, though necessary, depends upon the existence of something else. And there cannot be an infinite series of things deriving their necessity each from its predecessor. That being which is necessary in itself (absolutely) is called God.

Fourth, recall the famous question asked by Leibniz: "Why is there something rather than nothing?" According to him, there must be a "sufficient reason" for the existence of the current as opposed to some other state of affairs. This reason cannot be found in any single thing nor in a collection of things (all contingent) nor in the past causes of things (which do not explain why either these causes or the universe exist) but must reside outside the universe. And that "sufficient reason" is, again, what everyone calls God Whose existence is due only to Himself.


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I think I may have confused

I think I may have confused you by mixing up two definitions of necessity: (1) not tending towards corruption (coming out of existence), having no potentiality to cease to be, and (2) existing in every possible world. (1) is meant to be used everywhere. The universe and certain things in it have derived necessity, and God has absolute necessary in the first sense; the universe is not necessary in the second sense; whether God is necessary in the second sense is an open question (cf. Plantinga's ontological argument).

But so what, you may ask? Why do we need "absolute" necessity when space/time, matter, etc. are imperishable? Can't they have existed forever (leaving aside the scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe)? No, because, again, whatever the "whole" universe is, it's essence is not its existence. The fact of its necessity is accidental to it. If p is an accident of A, then there must be a cause of their being conjoined. (For example, my essence is, let's say, "rational animal." That I am rational, therefore, needs no explanation. But the accident of my eyes being brown does.) And that cause is called God.


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me wrote:The

me wrote:
The probability/possibility that this might not be the case never enters your examination.

dchernik wrote:
......And that cause is called God.

I'll say it again.
The probability/possibility that this might not be the case never enters your examination.

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Silly Dmitri. Quote:"Natural

Silly Dmitri.

Quote:
"Natural theology is not a process of justifying some pre-existing concept of God; it is discovering what God actually is."

"Discovering what god actually is" presupposes the existence of god. Therefore, it is justifying some pre-existing concept of god.

You play word games! Dazzle and conquer, eh?

The only important phrase in paragraph one of the proof from the Summa is this one:

Quote:
But this cannot be true of God; because we call God the first efficient cause.

There you have it, kids! Straight from the horse's mouth. We say god is the first efficient cause, therefore he is. It is also comforting to know that things exist and that there are essences, but it's not particularly relevant as far as I can tell.

So I say to you, Dmitri, that the Purple People Eater is the first efficient cause. Since you cannot prove that it is not, you must believe that it is. Would you mind proving this statement incorrect?

Quote:
Secondly, existence is that which makes every form or nature actual; for goodness and humanity are spoken of as actual, only because they are spoken of as existing.

If a thing exists, it exists. Brilliant.

Quote:
Therefore existence must be compared to essence, if the latter is a distinct reality, as actuality to potentiality.

Why must existence be compared to essence? Why must actuality be compared to potentiality? These assumptions don't follow. What it is (atoms) compared to the fact of its existence gives you... apples. Or holiday snaps from Barcelona... either way, comparing these two things is nonsense.

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Therefore, since in God there is no potentiality..., it follows that in Him essence does not differ from existence. Therefore His essence is His existence.

Therefore, since in God there is no potentiality (possibility), it follows that in him essence (atoms? or not. big blue mounds of whipped cream with curry sauce. Whatever.) does not differ from the fact that he exists. I'm just plugging your definitions in here. I had to guess which definition of "potentiality" you wanted. Anyway, this just doesn't prove anything.

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Therefore God is His own existence, and not merely His own essence."

So this being that we say must exist because he must exist if he is to exist is his own existence.

My brain hurts.

Quote:
Third, Aquinas's "third way" is actually more complicated than you present it. In it he first shows that "if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence." Here he presupposes the past eternity of the world and reasons that, given infinite time, all possibilities would be realized, including the possibility of simultaneous non-existence of all contingent (perishable) things. It may be objected that even if all the things in the universe actually corrupted, then their matter could still exist under different forms. But this presupposes that matter as such is not perishable, only the things that are received in it are. Hence in that case matter will be one of the necessary or imperishable things whose existence Aqunas is trying to establish in this proof. Now our author assumes that the universe itself, composed as it is of contingent things, is also contingent and would therefore have ceased to exist at some point in the past. (Again, if this assumption is incorrect, then the universe is necessary.) But from nothing nothing comes. So nothing would exist now, which is absurd. What if the universe began to exist a finite amount of time ago? In that case, ontologically prior to the universe's coming into being, there must have been nothing in existence at all. But once again, from nothing nothing comes. Therefore, there must exist a necessary being (or beings), which cannot not exist. Some things that are necessary are matter, angels, and human souls, because they have no inherent potentiality to cease to be. Further, these necessary or imperishable things are such either of themselves or derivatively, when their existence, though necessary, depends upon the existence of something else. And there cannot be an infinite series of things deriving their necessity each from its predecessor. That being which is necessary in itself (absolutely) is called God.

So many words, Dmitri. My brain is locking up. All of this is still wrapped up in the idea that since we cannot fathom how the universe came to exist, there must be a creator outside of the universe. This simply does not follow, no matter how many circles you put in your logic. Even if there was a time in which no matter existed, it doesn't follow that a being completely removed from matter must have made matter. That's just making up an explanation because you can't think of anything better.

There are lots of words followed by lots of "hences" and "therefores" and such in your arguments, but step A simply does not lead to step B, even when it is possible to figure out exactly what step A and step B mean.

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dchernik wrote:I see. So,

dchernik wrote:
I see. So, according to you, bucket, the universe is necessary; it cannot not exist. Is that your claim?

You see, according to me, bucket, the universe exists, for we are contemplating the cause of it. Therefore the non-existence and or necessity(wtf? necessary for what? toejam?) of the universe is an irrelevant thing to reflect upon. A self existing universe is a more plausible proposition than a self existing universe plus one pink unicorn. That is my claim drtychik.


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Quote:"Discovering what god

Quote:
"Discovering what god actually is" presupposes the existence of god. Therefore, it is justifying some pre-existing concept of god.

This is an excellent observation. We can ask how we can prove that God exists unless we know what God is. And we don't know His essence. So what exactly are we proving to exist? We can say that God's effects determine His "names" (attributes) for us. We will therefore learn something about God as we go on to prove His existence.

Quote:
There you have it, kids! Straight from the horse's mouth. We say god is the first efficient cause, therefore he is. It is also comforting to know that things exist and that there are essences, but it's not particularly relevant as far as I can tell.

Well, at this point in the Summa we are on God's simplicity, Art. 3. God's existence is addressed in the previous Article.

Quote:
So I say to you, Dmitri, that the Purple People Eater is the first efficient cause. Since you cannot prove that it is not, you must believe that it is. Would you mind proving this statement incorrect?

And this is what Hambydammit calls "the Purple People Eater." Good enough for me.

Quote:
If a thing exists, it exists. Brilliant.

No, a thing can have either ideal existence or actual existence. A thing may exist in the mind, let's say, the divine mind as an exemplar, an idea, a prototype, an uninstantiated essence. Or can it exist in reality, as a flesh-and-blood human, for example. In the latter case there is a joining of essence and existence.

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Why must existence be compared to essence? Why must actuality be compared to potentiality?

Because these are related. What is merely potential can become actual. And if a thing has no potentiality for something, it cannot become it.

Must you object to everything? If you don't understand what I or Aquinas are saying, ask. To be in actuality with respect to a property means simply to possess that property, while to be in potentiality with respect to a property means to have within oneself the possibility of having it. For example, an adult is in actuality with respect to rationality; an infant is in potentiality with the same respect; and a bear cub does not have that kind of a potentiality at all. What does it mean to say that a thing acts inasmuch as it is in actuality and is acted upon inasmuch as it is in potentiality? This should be easy: that which is actual can act or exercise its power on the universe, while that which is merely potential is not yet and must be elicited or brought into being by being acted on by something else.

Thus, essence without existence is a potentiality only. An essence with existence is actual.

Quote:
Therefore, since in God there is no potentiality (possibility), it follows that in him essence (atoms? or not. big blue mounds of whipped cream with curry sauce. Whatever.) does not differ from the fact that he exists. I'm just plugging your definitions in here. I had to guess which definition of "potentiality" you wanted. Anyway, this just doesn't prove anything.

God does not consist of atoms. He is a spirit. St. Thomas's article on the identity of God's essence and existence is part of his exposition of God's simplicity. And since bodies are not simple, God has no body. (Elementary particles are simple as the most primitive building blocks of all matter; God's simplicity is the perfect unification of all great-making properties into a "One.")

There is a subtlety here which may be somewhat difficult to grasp. "God's existence" can be either an "act of essence," that is, the ultimate actuality of God's nature, or simply the fact of existence being truly predicable of God. To understand this better consider that "being" can mean either the (bare, "ontological") existence of a thing or its (full, "theological") actuality. In other words, "being" on the one hand is the first and easiest idea that the mind grasps (something is out there), and on the other hand, it is the last and hardest idea when it means, in the case of God, "the fullness of being" that contains in itself, at least virtually, all being. In this life we can know God's existence in the first sense of "being" but not in the second sense, because we do not know God's essence or acts thereof.

What it proves is that God cannot not exist, that He is necessary absolutely, that His necessity is not merely an accident, as it in the space/time, etc. but defines what He is.

Quote:
All of this is still wrapped up in the idea that since we cannot fathom how the universe came to exist, there must be a creator outside of the universe. This simply does not follow, no matter how many circles you put in your logic. Even if there was a time in which no matter existed, it doesn't follow that a being completely removed from matter must have made matter. That's just making up an explanation because you can't think of anything better.

We are discussing Aquinas's "third way" which is an argument from time and contingency. It should not be beyond your understanding. The point is, some things are perishable, others are not; these latter naturally persist and don't corrupt or disappear. The first part of the proof shows that such things must exist. Then we say: is the necessity or imperishability of these things essential to them or accidental? If accidental, as it is for things in this universe, then there must be a cause of it. "Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God."

This argument is different from the argument from change or from efficient causality. We do not say here that the universe was "wound up," and so there must be an unchanged Source of all change. And we do not say that there must be an uncaused cause. The postulate of a necessary being is something new. In a way, all these arguments, as I stated above, prove the existence of God by specifying some of His attributes, one as immutable, another as eternal, another as necessary, etc. See http://www.dmitrychernikov.com/fiveways.htm for more.


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Quote:You see, according to

Quote:
You see, according to me, bucket, the universe exists, for we are contemplating the cause of it. Therefore the non-existence and or necessity(wtf? necessary for what? toejam?) of the universe is an irrelevant thing to reflect upon. A self existing universe is a more plausible proposition than a self existing universe plus one pink unicorn. That is my claim drtychik.

If this is your claim, then you are in trouble, because implicit in the concept of "self existing universe" or the universe having aseity is the fact that the universe is not only imperishable (which is what I mean by "necessary") but that it is essentially so. I don't deny that it is necessary (although who knows). I do deny that is essentially necessary. I say, then, the being who is essentially necessary is what we mean by "God."


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I read Aquinas back in

I read Aquinas back in college. It was required for graduation. I went to a Catholic college for my BA.

And his vague flummery is no more convincing than yours. If god has no substance, he 'isn't' anything, by definition.

You didn't answer my question. Where is this sample or susbtance of God that you have actually tested?

And who said god is necessary?

I bet you'd say that a god cannot worship itself-- so a god is not necessary for god!

So why for us?

tsk-tsk

Puzzled


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I've only read what you've

I've only read what you've written in the thread so far.
It's kind of the same approach I've been thinking of lately.
The other approaches I've come across require a sophistication in philosophy that most people I argue with can't grasp easily. This alternative approach ought to be able appeal to their common-sense reasoning.

I'm looking forward to reading the main article.


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Quote:But where is the

Quote:
But where is the substance of god, that dchernik can even test what it is?

"Our Father who art in heaven..."

Quote:
How can he say what god is? Does he have another god to compare it to?

There is only one God. We can learn what His attributes are from His effects.

Quote:
If god has no substance, he 'isn't' anything, by definition.

Substance means "a being that exists in itself rather than in another (as vs. accident)." God is a substance.

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And who said god is necessary?

Read the proof again carefully.

Quote:
I bet you'd say that a god cannot worship itself-- so a god is not necessary for god!

I have no idea what that means. Necessary with respect to God in this context means "essentially imperishable."


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These "proofs" are nothing

These "proofs" are nothing more than word games.Not valid as evidence by any stretch of the imagination.

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Matt, I've read some of your

Matt,

I've read some of your posts on the various threads in this forum, and it is quite obvious that you contribute nothing to any discussion, except for pointless one-liners. Put up or shut up.

Philosophy is not a "word game." If you are incapable of understanding it, either leave or study hard. You input or lack thereof is simply uninteresting, I'm sure, either to theists or to atheists here.


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Dmitri, I've read all of

Dmitri, I've read all of your posts so far, and despite your insinuations that I don't understand what I read, I have a firm grasp on the concepts of circular logic and non-sequiter conclusions. These, along with the use of antiquated terminology, are your primary weapons.

One more time, I will go through what you've written and point out that there's no substance to it.

Quote:
Quote:
"Discovering what god actually is" presupposes the existence of god. Therefore, it is justifying some pre-existing concept of god

This is an excellent observation.

Yes. it is a very good observation. You followed it up with circular logic that does nothing to refute my astute observation. How can we prove that X exists unless we know what X is? Well, we formulate a theory based on scientific evidence. Once we have enough testable data together, we form a hypothesis that tries to link the data in a meaningful way. Once we have the hypothesis, we try to disprove it. One day, if there's enough evidence that the hypothesis is correct, we call it a theory. This is the scientific method.

Quote:
And we don't know His essence.

You are correct... we don't know the essence of God, because there is no way to test a thing that may or may not exists beyond the comprehension of science.

Quote:
So what exactly are we proving to exist?
NOTHING!! We don't have a theory because we don't have any data. Therefore, there is nothing to prove!

Quote:
We can say that God's effects determine His "names" (attributes) for us....

What? This presupposes that god exists and has names for us. We're not even to the part about having a theory of what he might be yet. And what in the world would his names for us have to do with proving that he exists? This is just throwing mumbo-jumbo into the paragraph to make it longer and more imposing. I'm not biting.

Quote:
We will therefore learn something about God as we go on to prove His existence

No... This is what you said in the beginning, and it still presupposes the existence of God. That's not how science works!! First the data, then the theory... no data, no theory. End of story. Circular logic.

Quote:
Well, at this point in the Summa we are on God's simplicity, Art. 3. God's existence is addressed in the previous Article.

Whoops! You caught me mislabelling paragraphs. Naughty Hambydammit!

Quote:
And this is what Hambydammit calls "the Purple People Eater." Good enough for me.

Ah, but since I get to say what the Purple People Eater is, I say that only people whose names start with D go to hell. The thing is, since the Purple People Eater's essence and potentiality are the same because he is the creator of the universe, it is self evident that the potentiality in the Summa Flux Capacitor only allows time travel if you eat twinkies.

You're missing the whole point, Dmitri. Even if this whole conglomeration of higglety-pigglety buggety boo were to prove that the universe must have been created by some unending intelligence outside the bounds of the universe, there's no (and I mean ZERO) evidence to lead us to the conclusion that this being would be the Christian God. I can say that I have revelation that it's the Purple People Eater, and I'm on exactly the same scientific ground as you and good old Aquinas.

Quote:
No, a thing can have either ideal existence or actual existence. A thing may exist in the mind, let's say, the divine mind as an exemplar, an idea, a prototype, an uninstantiated essence. Or can it exist in reality, as a flesh-and-blood human, for example. In the latter case there is a joining of essence and existence.

A thing may indeed exist in the mind. Let's say, unicorns, hobbits, and three-headed globphystocytes from the planet Zorb. A thing may also exist in reality. I agree with you completely here.

Quote:
Quote:
Why must existence be compared to essence? Why must actuality be compared to potentiality?

Because these are related. What is merely potential can become actual. And if a thing has no potentiality for something, it cannot become it.

So, I'm imagining a superhero named Captain Dumb Dumb, who travels through the sewers saving rats from cobras that have mutated into seven-legged, fire-breathing bacteria. This being now has potential because I have imagined it to exist. So what do I do now?

Again, you're missing the whole point. Yes, potential and existence are related. One can lead to the other. But this still has absolutely nothing to do with a being that people made up to explain why the thunder hurt their ears and made their children cry.

Quote:
Must you object to everything?

I agreed with you that I made a very astute observation.

Quote:
If you don't understand what I or Aquinas are saying, ask. To be in actuality with respect to a property means simply to possess that property, while to be in potentiality with respect to a property means to have within oneself the possibility of having it. For example, an adult is in actuality with respect to rationality; an infant is in potentiality with the same respect; and a bear cub does not have that kind of a potentiality at all..

No, I get it. You haven't gotten that it's double speak. Not my fault. I'm trying to explain it to you.

An adult is rational. An infant is also rational, but in an extremely limited way. A bear cub, and a bear, for that matter, react to the world in a primitive version of the way humans do. They input data and their brains formulate a reaction to the data based on a combination of instinct and learned behaviors.

Quote:
What does it mean to say that a thing acts inasmuch as it is in actuality and is acted upon inasmuch as it is in potentiality? This should be easy: that which is actual can act or exercise its power on the universe, while that which is merely potential is not yet and must be elicited or brought into being by being acted on by something else

Let me see if I can sum this up in non-gobblety-guk language:
"Things that exist can influence the universe. Things that don't exist, but can be imagined, have to be created."

No, Dimitri. That's just not true. This whole section, stripped of unnecessary pontification, reads like this...

If a thing exists, it must have been created.

There is no evidence that this is true.

Quote:
Thus, essence without existence is a potentiality only. An essence with existence is actual.

Oh, criminy... my head hurts again.

And for the record, Dimitri, I've read your website. It's a big gigantic load of double speak and circular logic, just like your arguments here.

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For the record, Dimitri,

For the record, Dimitri, Matt made an excellent observation, and did it without adding the laborious proofs that I and others have posted. If anything, he's well versed in the art of avoiding redundancy -- something you would never learn from Aquinas.

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Also, for the record, I have

Also, for the record, I have a Masters degree in Philosophy. I find these so-called "proofs" to be, well, sophomoric.

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What is troubling? Neither

What is troubling?
Neither Matt nor I have a degree in Philosophy and we're slapping our foreheads wondering how on earth there can exist people that still believe in god(s).

The one inherent problem to any of these arguments is that we can only drop into the hole of metaphysics so far before we have to let go to see the bottom. (Do you like that metaphor? lol.)

However, when we engage people, that haven't seen outside of the hole, in a debate then we are left with only a few choices:
1. Leave them in the hole. Unethical.
2. Drag them out of the hole kicking and screaming. Unethical.
3. Coax them out of the hole with lies. Unethical.
4. Stay in the hole with them in a lie. Unethical.
or
5. Show them where the hand-holds are and show them how to climb out a couple of times before walking away leaving them to make the choice to stay or go. Seemingly the only ethical choice.

Shaun,
I like the essay. I'm not nearly done reading the rest of your site. I will be soon.

Dmitri,
I'm very disappointed that you won't allow yourself to examine non-existence. It kind of bothers me that we must continuously remind you that we don't share your 'belief' and require at least a probable solution rather than an improbable 'god essence' for an answer.

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Actually, I minored in

Actually, I minored in Philosophy and tutored it in college - nobody I tutored got below a B. Philosophy isn't SUPPOSED to be a word game, but people like you and the Ancient Greek Sophists try to do it that way.

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Quote:Yes. it is a very good

Quote:
Yes. it is a very good observation. You followed it up with circular logic that does nothing to refute my astute observation. How can we prove that X exists unless we know what X is?

Exactly the way I've done it. There must be a immutable being, an uncaused cause, something essentially necessary, etc. And these, taken together, we call the attributes of God.

Quote:
This is the scientific method.

But we are doing philosophy not science.

Quote:
Quote:
We will therefore learn something about God as we go on to prove His existence

No... This is what you said in the beginning, and it still presupposes the existence of God.

No, it doesn't. We start anew with every proof. We arrive at a conclusion that the universe is incomplete, that there must something outside it with some property p, such as essential necessity. And we say "let's agree to call that thing 'God'."

Quote:
You're missing the whole point, Dmitri. Even if this whole conglomeration of higglety-pigglety buggety boo were to prove that the universe must have been created by some unending intelligence outside the bounds of the universe, there's no (and I mean ZERO) evidence to lead us to the conclusion that this being would be the Christian God. I can say that I have revelation that it's the Purple People Eater, and I'm on exactly the same scientific ground as you and good old Aquinas.

Philosophy can give a pretty thick slice of God but certain things it cannot give us, and those require divine revelation. But there is no inconsistency between the God of the philosophers and the God of the Bible.

Quote:
Again, you're missing the whole point. Yes, potential and existence are related. One can lead to the other. But this still has absolutely nothing to do with a being that people made up to explain why the thunder hurt their ears and made their children cry.

Where was I trying to explain "why the thunder hurt their ears and made their children cry"?

Quote:
Let me see if I can sum this up in non-gobblety-guk language:
"Things that exist can influence the universe. Things that don't exist, but can be imagined, have to be created."

Think of it in terms of physics. A thing has actual energy if it is moving; it has potential energy if it is suspended above the earth. The former can give energy to another object by striking (acting on) it; the former must be acted upon by gravity in order to receive actual energy.


dchernik
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Well, ShaunPhilly, if you

Well, ShaunPhilly, if you find proofs of the existence of God to be "sophomoric," then, I suppose, the case is closed. You are a confirmed atheist, set in your ways, your mind is made up. You are what you are, and no stinkin' proof is going to change that. And yet you have not shown these proofs to be wrong. If you could do that, I'd gladly learn from you.


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I think we have the newest

I think we have the newest candidate for the "asshat" picture....


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Quote: Exactly the way I've

Quote:

Exactly the way I've done it. There must be a immutable being, an uncaused cause, something essentially necessary, etc. And these, taken together, we call the attributes of God.

Why not simply call it the Big Bang?

Quote:

But we are doing philosophy not science.

Philosophy is useful for describing conceptual matters. The "whys" of the universe. Science is useful for determining the physical characteristics of the universe, such as cause+effect. Therefore speculating on how stuff works in nature is in the realm of science. Religion tries to be both, and fails at both.

Quote:

No, it doesn't. We start anew with every proof. We arrive at a conclusion that the universe is incomplete, that there must something outside it with some property p, such as essential necessity. And we say "let's agree to call that thing 'God'."

Who, exactly arrived at this conclusion? I don't know any physicists or astronomers who came up with this. Once again, this is in the realm pf physics.

Quote:
Philosophy can give a pretty thick slice of God but certain things it cannot give us, and those require divine revelation. But there is no inconsistency between the God of the philosophers and the God of the Bible.

Really? Has divine revelation given us one useful piece of knowledge? I can't think of a single one. Divine revelation has given us simplistic explanations of natural phenomena that were without explanation while this revelation was granted that are outright wrong, a set of retrograde moral codes that are for the most part useless for an advanced society, and lots of mumbo-jumbo that can be found in any "divine" revelation around the world.

It seems when philosophers speak of god, they speak of the god of deists or pantheists, not Christians.

Quote:
Where was I trying to explain "why the thunder hurt their ears and made their children cry"?

The supernatural was invoked in ancient times when the explanation of natural phenomena was beyond the grasp of those making up these myths. Zeus was responsible for thunder, Poseidon for storms at sea, demons for afflictions like leprosy, as well as a host of mental diseases. In fact, many primitive-minded folks believe that their god is responsible for events such as Hurricane Katrina and the '04 tsunami that struck Asia when this is clearly not the case. This is the god of the gaps.

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Hambydammit
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Dimitri, Thank you for

Dimitri,

Thank you for clearing up the misunderstanding between us. I see now why you are not grasping my arguments.

You believe that philosophy can prove god. This proves that you have an inherent misunderstanding of philosophy, and it explains why my repeated appeals to you for logic have failed.

I'm not going to bother addressing your responses to me because I now see the futility of it. I'm sorry that we've failed to educate you on the shortcomings of philosophy. Maybe in a day or two when I'm feeling a little more peppy, I'll try to find some resources that will help explain to you why philosoophy is limited and cannot legitimately go where you want it to go.

Ok, I will give you one criticism: You're mixing sciences, and that's not, well... good. If you're proving god philosophically, have a happy time with it. But if you're going to explain potential to me in terms of physics, then you're on my turf, and to be in an honest debate, you'll have to dispense with the philosophy.

Anyway, I feel confident that this criticism will have about as much impact as that time that I tried to convince Natalie Portman how empty her life has been since she's never known me. (Not having any way to get in touch with her, and not having any reason to believe that she could hear me through the television... I feel confident my attempt failed.)

So, with no real hope that Natalie's coming over for dinner tonight, I'm going to try to regain hope in humanity by cooking an intensely delicious meal for a couple of old friends and a woman who I'd sure like to be better friends with.

Wish me good cooking skills and more power of persuasion than I seem to have here.

(I guess you'll probably pray, too, but I'm hoping we can eventually cure you of that.)

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Insidium Profundis
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Note: you are giving those

Note: you are giving those whose name originates from the Greek goddess Demeter a bad name, including me.

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Insidium

Insidium Profundis:

Quote:
Who, exactly arrived at this conclusion? I don't know any physicists or astronomers who came up with this.

I arrived at this conclusion. If you don't like it, show me where I am wrong. What are you, appealing to authority of some unknown physicists or astronomers? And I'm not being terribly original here; this is the standard way of doing natural theology.

Quote:
Has divine revelation given us one useful piece of knowledge?

Sure. That God is a Trinity cannot be known by reason but only through a revelation. Or, more precisely, once we learn that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we can settle on the correct explanation of it: http://www.dmitrychernikov.com/trinity.htm

Another example is the sacraments. These, too, have to be established through divine intercession.

Hambydammit:

Quote:
I'm sorry that we've failed to educate you on the shortcomings of philosophy.

Your sorrow might be appropriate if you had tried.

Quote:
But if you're going to explain potential to me in terms of physics, then you're on my turf, and to be in an honest debate, you'll have to dispense with the philosophy.

The kinetic/potential energy distinction is a special case and example of the general actuality/potentiality distinction. The point is, a potentiality is not non-existence, just as potential energy is still energy.

And why should I dispense with philosophical truths in physics? What if, hypothetically speaking, one such truth is of use there?


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Okay, let's take a

Okay, let's take a look.

Quote:
I arrived at this conclusion. If you don't like it, show me where I am wrong. What are you, appealing to authority of some unknown physicists or astronomers? And I'm not being terribly original here; this is the standard way of doing natural theology.

Oh? In that case, did you take into account the various findings of physics and cosmology of the last few centuries? Have you incorporated the theoretical implications of string theory? What about the experimental evidence for the Big Bang theory? The multiverse theory? What of quantum mechanics? You can't just say "I conclude this, therefore this is so." If you are making statements about the physical world, you need empirical evidence. Unfortunately, it appears that natural theology is merely one more example of onanism.

Quote:
Sure. That God is a Trinity cannot be known by reason but only through a revelation. Or, more precisely, once we learn that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we can settle on the correct explanation of it:

In other words, the only piece of "useful" knowledge is that God is impossible to consider reasonably. If you've thrown reason to the winds, there is no point to debate him. It's a cop-out, and cop-outs aren't something I generally consider "useful." I will now examine your website.

Quote:
God is infinite but is also omniscient.

What does "infinite" mean in this context? Heisenberg's uncertainty principle suggests that omniscience is an impossibility. Assuming, for the sake of argument that it is not, is God's knowledge limited to actuality, or does he also know all that exists merely as potentiality?

So far you have also made two assumptions based on no reasonable evidence: that God exists, and that he is omniscient.

Quote:
God is both the object and subject, and God's knowledge of Himself is so complete and unified that it is a kind of a copy of Himself.

This does not make sense. Knowledge is merely codified information. I can look at a rock, and due to the way in which the light reflected off of it affects the neuron connections in my brain, I will have knowledge of it. What exists in my head is not a rock or a copy of the rock, but information codified as neuron connections. I can then describe this rock to you through words. I am further codifying it into language - letters, words, sentences - to make you understand what it is. All knowledge and codified information must be physical. There exists no information in the universe which is not physical. Think about that for a while. In order to have "complete and unified" knowledge of himself, God would simply need to have a copy of himself, which would mean there are two Gods, and unless they were mutually each others' knowledge, each God would also need infinite knowledge of himself, ad infinitum, necessitating an infinite amount of Gods. This is absurd already. Furthermore, consider the implication of God's omniscience (which I am granting for the sake of argument) and couple that with his complete knowledge of himself. This means that he has no free will, since he knows beforehand how he will act.

Quote:
And what is that copy but the second Person of the Trinity, the Image, God the Son, Who is the fullness of the Father's self-knowledge?

So you're implying Jesus is merely self-knowledge? Codified information of God? But Jesus was not infinite, he was probably less than two meters tall.

Quote:
Now just as metaphysics is prior to epistemology, because there has to be something out there before it can be known, so the Father's essence is, properly understood, prior to the Son's knowledge of that essence. We say that the Father "begot" the Son. And indeed there is no reason why their relationship cannot be called somewhat metaphorically "paternity and filiation." Paternity, because although there "was" no actual begetting – God is one in His eternal present, the logical priorness is still distinguishable. The begetting of the Son is not by will but by nature. Filiation, because God's knowledge is both true and is "true to His essence" as in, conforms to it, never falters from reality, never errs, never sins.

I thought the son was merely self-knowledge. How is self-knowledge capable of knowledge of the self? You're implying Jesus is merely knowledge (codified information), but knowledge itself cannot know anything; to know something requires an intelligent being. If his begetting is not by will but by nature, then his entire life seems rather arbitrary and certainly not divine.

The article sort of stops making sense after this. Impressive hand-waving on your part, however.

Anyway, your argument reads more like post-modernist deconstruction (complete with unnecesserily elevated diction!) than any philosophy I've read. It's vague, has many undefined terms, has little logical flow, includes way too many unsupported assertions and assumptions that I sure as hell will not grant, and generally speaking sucks. Sorry.

Quote:
Meaningless? No, just beyond our understanding.

Right the first time, Dima.

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Quote:Quote: I'm sorry that

Quote:
Quote:
I'm sorry that we've failed to educate you on the shortcomings of philosophy.

Your sorrow might be appropriate if you had tried.

You're right. Let me re-word it.

I'm sorry that we failed to recognize your error sooner, and that we've wasted so much time talking about logic when we should have realized that you had no intention of confining yourself to it. We should have tried to divorce you from the idea that playing word games is the same as rational thought before we wasted keystrokes and valuable minutes of the only life we're going to have.

Quote:
The kinetic/potential energy distinction is a special case and example of the general actuality/potentiality distinction. The point is, a potentiality is not non-existence, just as potential energy is still energy.

And why should I dispense with philosophical truths in physics? What if, hypothetically speaking, one such truth is of use there?

This is absurd. You say it's a special case, so it's a special case, I guess. Wait... let me guess... Somebody else said it was a special case. Anyway, I'm happy to report that the energy problem in the world can be solved easily enough. We just need to get a team of scientists together to get the potential energy from all the potential anvils floating in the stratosphere. If we could get them all to drop at once, think of the energy we could create in our potential anvil-to-electricity machines.

Your argument borders on insane.

You should dispense with philosophy in a physics discussion because the introduction of philosophy makes physics meaningless.

You're not going to get what I mean, are you...

Physics, by definition, deals with objective reality. If you can't describe a thing within the bounds of objective reality, it's not physics. If you have a philosophical idea that you want to insert into physics, then it either has to conform to objective reality or it will change the definition of physics. If you change the definition, then it's not physics. If your philosophy coincides with objective reality, then it's science, and it's quantifiable.

That's not going to help, either...

Ok. Simple... If you get to use your argument to make god exist, then I get to use it to make a billion billion anvils floating in the stratosphere that can't be seen, but exist in the ether. Both the anvils and god are equally useful to the universe, because your argument's crap.

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Quote:Oh? In that case, did

Quote:
Oh? In that case, did you take into account the various findings of physics and cosmology of the last few centuries? Have you incorporated the theoretical implications of string theory? What about the experimental evidence for the Big Bang theory? The multiverse theory? What of quantum mechanics?

Did you even read my arguments on this thread or on my website ("Aquinas' Five Ways")? It does not require the string theory, etc. Unless, that is, you can show me how the string theory contradicts it.

Quote:
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle suggests that omniscience is an impossibility.

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is relevant for us humans, because in order to find out the properties of a particle, we need to shine light on it, and thus the process of measurement of one quality of the particle alters another quality of it. But God does not need to shine light on things in order to know their position and momentum. He simply knows. In other words, the uncertainty is epistemological not ontological. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Quote:
Knowledge is merely codified information.

And here I was thinking that knowledge was properly justified true belief. But what I mean is that the Son comprehends all that the Father is and is therefore His Image. The Father begets the Son, because His self-knowledge is complete and "becomes" a copy of Him, equal to the Father in all respects.

Quote:
All knowledge and codified information must be physical.

Isn't this self-evidently false? Information is by definition neither matter nor energy, though it could be encoded in matter, as on paper or in a computer. God is a "pure form," a "thought thinking itself."

Quote:
In order to have "complete and unified" knowledge of himself, God would simply need to have a copy of himself, which would mean there are two Gods...

Yes, but the Father and the Son are unified by the Holy Spirit, Who is God's self-love. Love is a unitive force.

Quote:
...each God would also need infinite knowledge of himself, ad infinitum, necessitating an infinite amount of Gods

That is precisely one of the mysteries of the Trinity. God's self-knowledge is complete, "spanning" the infinite regress, such that the Son emerges in a way as a perfect copy. This is partly why God is infinite. One infinity can somehow contain the other. And I write, "In humans if 'I' know, 'that which knows' is forever distinct from the 'that which is known.' This is not so in God. But we can't imagine it." But we at least can acknowledge it. As you go up the ontological hierarchy, you should be able to see this without a great deal of dfficulty.

Quote:
So you're implying Jesus is merely self-knowledge? Codified information of God? But Jesus was not infinite, he was probably less than two meters tall.

Not Jesus. God the Son qua God, on His own, so to speak.

Quote:
How is self-knowledge capable of knowledge of the self? You're implying Jesus is merely knowledge (codified information), but knowledge itself cannot know anything; to know something requires an intelligent being.

The Son is the entirety of the knowledge of the Father's essence. The Son comprehends the Father's whole infinitude. And that is why He is the Image of the Father and therefore possesses all of the Father's perfections, including a personality and intelligence. The interesting question is, Is the Son's personality different from the Father's? I'm not sure.

Quote:
The article sort of stops making sense after this.

With all due respect to your IQ, this is all orthodox Catholic doctrine with only a few embellishments on my part.


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Matt, I thought that you

Matt,
I thought that you told me a long time ago that you didn't have any college. Sorry.

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The thing that stood out for

The thing that stood out for me in that whole discussion was the comment about metaphysics coming before epistemology. This is telling of the set of biases and understanding of how epistemology and metaphysics are related.

If you think metaphysics come before epistemology, it implies that you assume that the metaphysical information is not subject to epistemological critique. In other words, it implies that what you accept as "truth" about metaphysical questions has not been through the review process that other questions are put through. You accept things like the Trinity without questioning it the way you would accept which toothpaste to use. It is merely a mystery, and not to be questioned using the epistemological methods that we use to understand science.

Why? Well, that's what my essay was about. Theists give exceptions to religious concepts that they don't give to natural things.

Epistemology must come before metaphysics. Why? Because the only avenue we have to attain metaphysical knowledge is through those epistemological channels. Revelation? Saying that the revealed ideas came from God is fine, proving it is another matter. You have to apply the same epistemological standards to things claimed to have been revealed as those that we find through our senses.

You can't simply choose to ignore critiquing information simply because it is supposed to have been revealed. That's the biased choice I was referring to. It's an unsubstantiated and arbitrary choice made out of, well, I'm not sure. I really don't know what advantage it gives you to accept it.

Shaun

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Quote:Quote: The article

Quote:
Quote:
The article sort of stops making sense after this.

With all due respect to your IQ, this is all orthodox Catholic doctrine with only a few embellishments on my part.

I think you've said it very well. It is a credit to his IQ that he realizes that the Catholic doctrine, with or without embellishments, sort of stops making sense at some point.

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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There were far too many

There were far too many poorly-defined terms, baseless assumptions, and generalities that left much more clarification to be desired. Epistemology must come before metaphysics, but it seems you disagree. It's impossible to proceed if you essentially cut the feet from under any reasonable skeptical debate.

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I accept things like the

I accept things like the Trinity and the sacraments for two reasons: (1) I was graced by God with faith and thereby lifted above my natural capacities, (2) there is no self-contradiction in them.

But why are we talking about these things? The discussion of the Trinity is far beyond our needs here. You don't even accept that God's existence can be rationally proven. That should be our concern.

Quote:
If you think metaphysics come before epistemology, it implies that you assume that the metaphysical information is not subject to epistemological critique. In other words, it implies that what you accept as "truth" about metaphysical questions has not been through the review process that other questions are put through.

I simply mean that reality is prior to our knowledge of it. You are right, metaphysics is a branch of knowledge. I may need to rethink that statement (being is prior to our knowledge of it, but is the study of being prior to the study of knowledge?), though the fact that the Father is logically prior to the Son is still correct.

Quote:
Theists give exceptions to religious concepts that they don't give to natural things.

Not exceptions. Theists say that natural things are incomplete and require something beyond them which is complete.


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dchernik wrote:Not

dchernik wrote:
Not exceptions. Theists say that natural things are incomplete and require something beyond them which is complete.

How would you go about demonstrating this in a non-arbitrary fashion?

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I have faith that 2 + 2 = 5,

I have faith that 2 + 2 = 5, and that "cat" is spelled "K-A-T" and that pouring ice cream into computers makes them work better. Does that make any of the 3 true or does it make me stupid/insane? Actually I don't have faith in anything because faith is the complete abandonment of reason.

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