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On the reasonableness and importance of the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being

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I keep getting pulled away from an intended post [– U/D, Feb 18 2015: cf here — ]  on FSCO/I  and that famous little round reel as an undeniably concrete case in point:

abu_6500c3mag

I have to get around to it . . .

Anyway, a couple of days ago, given some recent exchanges in and around UD, I took time to post a William Lane Craig animation on morality, which has excited quite a debate.

It’s probably worth re-posting the animation:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Along the way, the significance of the IS-OUGHT gap and of the inherently good God, a necessary and maximally great being as the only serious candidate IS who can ground OUGHT has come up (e.g. cf here).

That leads me to note on a recent discussion by Benzmuller and Paleo of the use of a theorem prover to assess a form of Godel’s Ontological argument and its unsurprising verdict that such is quite valid. [U/D Jan 31] Where, let me observe that nothing, non-being, can have no causal powers; so if there ever were utter nothing, nothing would forever obtain. If something now is, something always was, something that is necessary. Thus, the crux of the matter in hand is to characterise what sort of serious candidate necessary being best fills the bill.

Thus, we may observe:

godel_ont_validThat is, if you would reject the argument, you need to challenge soundness and thus address the truth or otherwise of premises. Thence, back to worldview foundations:

A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way}
A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way}

That led me to recall a recent post in my personal blog on a more accessible form, following Plantinga et al:

A flying spaghetti monster knitted doll, showing how this is used to mockt eh idea of God as necessary being (note the words on the chalk board)
A flying spaghetti monster knitted doll, showing how this is used to mock the idea of God as necessary being (note the words on the chalk board); composite beings and beings made of matter (itself inherently contingent, ponder E = m*c^2) are contingent and so are not serious candidate necessary beings.

. . . a serious candidate necessary being — flying spaghetti monsters etc need not apply — will be either impossible or actual.

Which, is where the existence of God, an eternal, omniscient, omnipotent,  omni-benevolent mind independent of other beings for existence and causally adequate to account for a credibly contingent observed cosmos that from core physics on up seems massively fine tuned for the existence of Carbon Chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life comes in. (That is, the issue of a necessary being at the causal root of the observed cosmos is not merely arbitrarily pulled out of thin air and fevered imagination; we are trying to identify a best candidate to fill the bill, and a maximally great being with all great making properties to fullest aggregate extent and no lesser making properties is an obvious candidate to beat. Where also, as we saw, being eternal is directly connected to being necessary as a being.  Also, a truly necessary being — a successful candidate — will exist in all possible worlds. [To see why, try to imagine a coherent world in which 2 + 3 = 5 does not hold, or by contrast one in which square circles exist.])

That is, we see already why it is so that God will either be impossible, or actual.

Another — simpler — way of putting the modal ontological argument helps us see that from a fresh angle:

 P1: It is possible that a Maximally Great Being (MGB) exists [–> where such a being has greatmaking properties and no lesser making ones, to the maximal degree; and will be a successful serious candidate necessary being, NB]

P2: If it is possible that a MGB [–> inter alia a serious candidate NB] exists, then a MGB exists in some possible world

P3: If a MGB exists in some possible world, then a MGB exists in all possible worlds [–> As,

(P3.1) a serious NB candidate will be impossible or else will exist in any possible world, and

(P3.2) existence in one possible world directly indicates that the candidate being is possible, and where

(P3.3) something like a flying spaghetti monster will be material, composed of arranged parts etc, and will thus not be necessary . . . this also tells us something about constraints on what a NB can be like — a mind or abstract entities are serious candidates (and, immediately, we see that materialists or those deeply influenced by evolutionary materialism dressed up in a lab coat, will have endless conceptual difficulties with necessary beings; I suggest a glance here on in context to begin to see the inescapable incoherence and self-refutation of such evolutionary materialism. Never mind the lab coat and the boasts of being rational, evo mat for short is inescapably self refuting and irrational. This is already an important side benefit of reflecting on this topic.)]

P4: If a MGB exists in all possible worlds, then a MGB exists in the actual world [–> the one that we know to be instantiated, all around us]

P5: If a MGB exists in the actual world, then a MGB exists
________________________________________

C6: A MGB. . . which is in effect, God . . .  exists.

So where does this complex chain of reasoning stand?

It is valid [as can be shown technically using propositional calculus . . . but is also intuitively plain], and in fact given the logic of being, possibility and contingency vs necessity, premises 2 – 5 are not generally controversial. The key issue, then, is the truth or otherwise of P1: it is possible (not IMPOSSIBLE) that a MGB exists.

You can of course reject P1, but at a price: showing (not merely asserting or skeptically implying or playing at knocking over strawmanised parodies, etc.  . . . ) the impossibility of a MGB.

Tough row to hoe (especially after the same Plantinga sank the deductive problem of evil several decades ago . . . which used to be a favourite atheistical argument to claim that God as conceived by theists was impossible).

So, it seems the modal form ontological argument forces us to face serious issues and implications on what may be reasonably understood on the nature of God and how that works to ground morality. Which carries me back to no 135 in the WLC thread, where I clip:

1 –> As may be easily seen, worldviews must rest on finitely remote first plausibles, on the grounds that infinite regress and circularity are not acceptable. These will be start points for reasoning, best explanatory presuppositions that structure our worldviews on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

2 –> In this, one of our main things is the premise of moral government that comes out as soon as we see the consensus that fairness is binding. If you doubt, just watch quarrels, and listen to conscience. and listen to the ghost of that murdered child.

3 –> We notice that moral government by the golden rule rooted in the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being makes excellent sense of moral government and allows us to undergo personal and community reformation once we become humble and teachable in the face of evident reason, reality and truth. AKA, willing to admit that X is my neighbour, just as much a quasi-infinite value image bearer of God as I am. (Where also, there are ever so many good reasons otherwise to take the reality of God seriously. Start here for one way forward. Or, here if you want a more worldviews rooted base.)

4 –> In this frame, we expect conscience to be The Lord’s candle within, to be trained and followed, not snuffed out. And justice then teaches us much and grounds much at personal and family etc levels. Light shines far and wide from a city set on a hill in a dark world.

5 –> In the other corner, we find that dismissing God and seeking enlightenment everywhere else runs into the IS-OUGHT gap and the looming menace, might and manipulation — however prettified as institutional socialisation and whatnot — make ‘right.’

6 –> Linked, we see that general delusion is let loose in the mind as conscience’s testimony that we are under moral government must be dismissed as Ruse’s “illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate.”

7 –> So, on subjectivist- relativist views like this the credibility of the perceiving, reasoning, warranting, deciding, acting, knowing mind is undermined fatally in self-referential incoherence.

8 –> In short, purporting to be in enlightenment, we find ourselves instead in en-darkenment and confusion, prone to manipulation. Which, should ring a few warning bells in and of itself.

9 –> So the conclusion is obvious, the evident binding nature of ought and moral perceptions rooted in conscience, can be grounded on an ethical theism. Where, the rejection of such ends in evident self referential incoherence.

________________

On this alone, it would be reasonable to accept the premise of a world founded by an inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, and to build life and community on that premise. Light dispels darkness.

But, some will argue, what about Euthyphro’s dilemma?

For that, we may observe how God as understood in light of the above simply is not subject to such an argument:

. . . the point of this dilemma is to try to suggest that theism or the like has no real answer to the is-ought gap either [as “good” is either the arbitrary diktat of god or else it is independent of god] . So in effect, we have to shrug, take moral feelings as a brute given, and try to work out the best compromise we can.

However, the fatal defect of the dilemma argument lies in its pagan roots: the Greek gods in view in Socrates’ original argument were not the true root of being; so, they could not ground reality. But the God of theism is the ground of reality, so it is a classic theistic answer that the inherently good Creator of the cosmos made a world that — in accordance with his unchangeably good character — not only is replete with reliable, compelling signs pointing to his eternal power and Deity as the root of our being, but also builds in a real, reasonable, intelligible moral principle into that world. That intelligible moral principle is implanted inextricably in our very nature as human beings, so that for instance by our nature as creatures made in God’s image with ability to know, reason and choose, we have a known duty of mutual respect.  And, when this inherently good Creator-God and Lord commands us on moral matters, what he says will be decisively shaped by that goodness on the one hand — commandments are “for our good” — and will also reflect a responsiveness to human beings who are morally governed creatures, in a relevant situation. (A subtlety in this, is that there will be cases where there is ameliorative regulation of behaviour too deeply rooted in a culture shaped by “the hardness of our hearts” to be pulled up at once without unacceptable harm [cf. here the classic “I hate divorce” case of the Judaeo-Christian tradition], but there will also be provision onwards for reformation of the culture [cf. here for a similar case, on slavery].)As a result, objective morality is grounded in the roots of our nature and in the moral Creator behind those roots . . .

In that light, it is no surprise to see John Locke, in laying a foundation for what would become modern liberty and democracy, would take time in his 2nd Treatise on Civil Government, to cite “the judicious Anglican Canon Richard] Hooker”:

. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity, 1594+, preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

So, we see how we may have an understanding of God that is reasonable and reasonably grounds the heart of morality on our equally quasi-infinite value as beings made in the divine image with the precious gift of responsible freedom.

So, we can argue that light dispels darkness, and just so, we may see how that:

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[b]
and to walk humbly with your God? [ESV]

So now, let us ponder, is all the huffing and puffing on how we cannot come to an objective foundation for morality, little more than the worked out implications of rejecting the well known but unpalatable alternative that OUGHT is grounded in the eternal IS of the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being who has granted us the gift of responsible freedom? So that, we all know but struggle with the premise that we should respect, cherish and treat neighbour as self? END

27 Replies to “On the reasonableness and importance of the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Some backdrop on the concept of an inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being as the IS who grounds OUGHT. KF

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: kf you might like this:

    Ian Juby just posted a new interview with geneticist Jeffrey Tomkins

    DNA slam dunk! – Jeffrey Tomkins’ interview – Jan. 30, 2015 – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZoto0nyHho

  3. 3
    Lilly says:

    Hi Kairosfocus, I have read many of your posts and you seem to be a very intelligent and persuasive individual. I appreciate your discussion of this argument, but I have some issues with the modern analytic revision of the ontological argument. I believe it is much stronger and more accurate in its classical form. If God is only the greatest being among all other beings, then his existence is still uncertain and certainly still demands an ontological explanation to escape the problem of infinite regress (further, I don’t think that a maximally great being must exist in any world and certainly not all worlds).

    However, if God is, as Socrates (in your reference) and all of the Abrahamic traditions have traditionally claimed, not a great being like the Pagan gods or the God of deism, but the ground and source of all being — ultimate reality itself, that without nothing else is possible, and the source in which all things live and move and have their being, then He is not just possible but He is necessary. Without God, who is being itself, nothing could exist at all — in other words, God is not just a maximally great being who is potentially part of some possible world; God is the necessary and eternal fullness of being who must impart being to any possible world for it to exist at all. Without God existence is ultimately absurd. Anyway, thanks for all your writing.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    Hi Lilly

    You have raised an interesting point and there is quite the debate out there.

    I’d say, the first thing we learn in detail of the God of the Scriptural tradition is his covenant name, I AM THAT I AM.

    The self existent, the eternal, the ultimate being.

    I take that as encouragement that speaking of God as being does not rob him of his dignities . . . but then the One I believe in hung on a cross in agony and a state of being accursed.

    To be redeemer.

    And, BTW, note the reference to necessity of being. Which, inter alia specifically excludes dependence on any external enabling factor. Which is part of the pivotal point that a serious candidate will be either impossible or actual.

    And in our day, having a choice to work through like that is in the end a surer footing for confidence, as it is not seemingly dogmatic or arbitrary.

    In short, I am responding in terms that today’s people can relate to.

    Thanks for thoughts.

    KF

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, looks like a trove out there, thanks. KF

  6. 6
    DesignDetectiveDave says:

    Imagine a maximally great Island. You’d be there. Are you?

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    Lilly does bring up a great point. God cannot be just another being among beings, not even the maximally greatest being among other beings. There is no “scale of being” that includes God.

    To reiterate, God is unlike any other being in that God is the one and only source of being itself. This can be said of no other being. God is uncreated. Everything else is created. That’s a pretty clear demarcation.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    DDD, the parody fails, for the same reason a flying spaghetti monster is a non-starter. Such is a composite, contingent being and so cannot be necessary. Put another way, nothing, non-being has no causal powers. If ever there were an utter nothing, there would forever be just that. So, for something to be today, something always was, a necessary being. The real question at stake is, what is the nature of that root necessity. Especially, in a cosmos in which we find ourselves to have rights, so we quarrel by appealing to fairness, and find evil real and objectionable etc which all point to our being under moral government and needing a root of the good. A maximally great, necessary being fills that bill. Such a being would be inherently good and our creator. Also, maximal greatness and the implications of coherence of core characteristics for such a necessary being to be possible throw a lot of light on the idea of God in theology. As just one point, I AM THAT I AM and eternality reflect a claim of necessity of being. KF

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung, yes, that distinction is there. Howbeit, it is there in the context of things that are. Be-ings, to underscore. KF

    PS: Merriam-Webster:

    1 a : the quality or state of having existence
    b (1) : something conceivable as existing (2) : something that actually exists (3) : the totality of existing things
    c : conscious existence : life
    2
    : the qualities that constitute an existent thing : essence; especially : personality
    3
    : a living thing; especially : person

  10. 10
    DesignDetectiveDave says:

    KF.

    Imagine a maximally destructive force. What, you’re still here?

    😀

    Most sophisticated thinkers I know (both of them) know that WLC is trying to “define things into existence” and he’s conflating imaginary with possible things.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    DDD,

    nope again.

    It is a parody or strawman caricature of the modal ontological argument — and the champion BTW is former American Philosophy Association president Alvin Plantinga (so your ad hom fails to even target the right person) — to suggest it is defining something into existence.

    What you need is to ponder modes of existence, to understand the underlying issue. Let me clip a comment from earlier this morning, in answer to Piotr:

    We can go on to a discussion of modes of being and the weak form principle of sufficient reason that on seeing said ball, asks and seeks the answer, how comes a ball A? From this we see that there are possible or impossible beings [the latter being mutually contradictory in core characteristics, like the classic square circle], and contingent or necessary beings. Contingent beings like a fire are dependent on external enabling on/off factors . . . necessary causal factors that if absent lock out the fire or the like. Where the sufficient conditions for A must include all such enabling factors. Necessary beings by contrast have no such dependence, for instance the truth in 2 + 3 = 5.

    Thus, we are back at the implication that in at least one possible world, a contingent being is as a sufficient cluster of causal factors is present, and in at least one possible world, such is absent as the conditions are not met. Thus we see what contingency is about. But by contrast a serious candidate necessary being — flying spaghetti monsters etc need not apply — will be impossible or else actual in any possible world. To see such, imagine a world in which the truth in 2 + 3 = 5 does not obtain. There is none, it never began, always obtains, cannot cease.

    In that context, we see the significance of nothing, non-being.

    Non-being patently has no causal powers, cannot enable something. So, if there ever were an utter nothing, nothing would forever obtain.

    But, obviously, we have a world.

    Consequently, something always was, of adequate causal capacity to ground the world in which we live.

    A necessary being.

    Not merely possible or imagined, necessary. Ontologically necessary, adequately causally necessary, morally causally necessary.

    One capable of explaining a world that exhibits major signs of design in both the physics of the cosmos that sets up a world that sits at a locally isolated operating point that makes C-Chemistry, aqueous medium, terrestrial planet, information system using cell based life possible. A world in which we find ourselves under the eye of conscience and the clear regulation of moral government. And more.

    There is but one serious candidate: the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being, the root of existence.

    You (or more likely onlookers . . . ) will observe, this is not a case that is based on any religious tradition or scripture; it is a philosophical argument informed by the general state of the world and our circumstances, including testimony in outline from the sciences.

    A true nothing is not an adequate Creator, and neither is Krauss’ quantum foam multiverse re-labelled incorrectly as nothing. Not in a cosmos that sits at a locally deeply isolated operating point, pointing to serious fine tuning that enables C-Chemistry, aqueous medium cell-based life. And not a cosmos in which creatures such as ourselves have responsible freedom of mind and the moral guidance of conscience.

    A necessary being is required at the root of the cosmos and it needs to be adequate for a world of mind and conscience. Reducing mind to blind computation on mechanical substrates does not account for such.

    It is in that context that the joint discussion of ontological roots and moral roots, the IS and the OUGHT takes its force.

    No, a flying spaghetti monster or an imagined perfect island — both being contingent, patently so — the like is not a serious candidate necessary being. We have to have something like a mind.

    And no a maximally destructive entity (in the sense of evil and chaos) does not fill the bill to ground a world in which OUGHT is credibly real. On pain of self referential absurdity on trying to reduce the awareness of being under moral government to illusion.

    Oddly, that we deal with the Dread Judge of all, does fill the bill: the ultimate plumbline of being true and upright is an aspect of maximal greatness. But there is no reason whatsoever to infer from that being the root of purposelessly destructive chaos and frustration of potential and purpose. Which points to the nature of evil as inherently derivative and twisted: the frustration, perversion or privation of the good.

    So, no, the parody objection fails.

    The argument is valid, and a necessary being at the root of the cosmos is causally required. A cosmos that includes OUGHT and responsible mindedness.

    So, you are back to the issue that a serious candidate necessary being will be impossible — containing such core characteristic contradictions as render such a being not possible to be — or actual.

    Evolutionary Materialist atheism and its fellow travellers are implicitly committed to the proposition that an inherently good Creator God, a necessary [–> thus inter alia eternal] and maximally great being is IMPOSSIBLE. Thence, to the proposition that our sense of OUGHT is delusional, i.e. it sets loose general delusion in our conscious, self-aware mindedness.

    However, there are no firewalls in the mind.

    So, it undermines responsible free mind, hence reason, warrant, knowledge, science and more.

    Credibly, it is self-referentially absurd.

    KF

  12. 12
    DesignDetectiveDave says:

    KairosFocus, You are painful to converse with. I hope for your own financial well-being your job does not require much communication.

    I shall let you review the many critiques of the ontological argument(s) on your own. Wikipedia lists some examples. You will be unmoved.

    But I must comment on:

    “It is a parody or strawman caricature of the modal ontological argument — and the champion BTW is former American Philosophy Association president Alvin Plantinga (so your ad hom fails to even target the right person) — to suggest it is defining something into existence.”

    Before you play your “Alvin Plantinga” gotcha, you may want to reread your own words: “…I took time to post a William Lane Craig animation..”. They’re in the original post (by you). Of course neither AP nor WLC proffered the first ontological argument.

    Next, learn what an Ad Hominem argument is. My comment “Most sophisticated thinkers I know (both of them) know that WLC is trying to “define things into existence” and he’s conflating imaginary with possible things.” does not attack the man at all, it is a statement of fact. Had I said “Jesus freaks like WLC always get thins wrong”, that would have been Ad Hominem. I do no entangle his character with an argument. I’m sure he’s perfectly nice – but he is wrong on this issue.

    You might have got some milage from “Appeal to authority”, but not really.

    cheers,
    D^3.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    DDD,

    I will set the personalities to one side, save to note that these are difficult issues and are not going to be reasonably answered by pretending that absence of a simplistic answer opens the door to a dismissal. (Especially, on you no writa da Inglish rite.)

    FYI, one serious definition of philosophy is that it is the dept of learning that accepts the hard questions — they are the ones that have no easy, good answers — and then tries to answer them based on logical discussion informed by first issues in light of the comparative difficulties of alternative answers. Key criteria include factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power . . . neither an ad hoc patchwork nor simplistic.

    The ontological issue on the table is a case in point of such a hard question. (And no, on such a matter, with its notorious biases Wikipedia is not a particularly good source, nor would be YouTube or most popular level Atheism sites etc. For that matter most Parsons will not have sufficient phil to make a serious stab at it.)

    Next, the modal ontological argument is immune to the sorts of parodies you have posed.

    An island of perfection is a composite, thus inherently contingent being and is THEREFORE not a serious candidate to be a necessary being. And yes, that error has been on the table for what, 800 years?

    Flying spaghetti monsters etc, as noted in the OP, fall under the same problem.

    A maximally great destroyer — note, this speaks to core nature — is obviously contingent and also credibly not great. Indeed, we should note a longstanding insight on the nature of evil as inherently derivative: that which is the privation, frustration, perversion of the good.

    Before going on I simply note that if you imagine acknowledging an intellectual debt is blind appeal to authority, that speaks inadvertent volumes. No authority is better than facts, reasoning and underlying first plausibles, and so we are back where we began: addressing, even in fairly brief form, on the merits — and that moves well beyond discredit and dismiss tactics, onto the grounds of worldviews warrant and foundations. (Where, no true Scotsman, by implication or suggestion, is in fact a dismissive attack to the man in the context of dealing with a public intellectual with a PhD in philosophy. As in by implication you tried to distinguish, to his dismissal, WLC, PhD Philosophy and noted public defender of theism including the modal ontological argument, and “sophisticated thinkers” by raising a point that, sorry, is ill-informed: defining an “imaginary” God into existence.)

    I will pause to amplify a bit on being, contingency and necessity (in further answer to the ill informed objection of trying to define things into existence):

    1 –> First, as the OP notes, nothing — non-being — can have no causal powers. So if ever there had been a genuine utter nothing, such would forever obtain.

    2 –> Patently, something now is, so something always was.

    3 –> something, that is the root of the reality we experience, a necessary being.

    4 –> In our conceptually impoverished day, that needs expansion:

    a: being exists as opposed to non-being, as is commonly exemplified.

    b: we may consider successful candidate beings such as an apple or a mind and contrast failed candidates such as a square circle.

    c: a square circle is impossible of being, as its core characteristics are utterly incoherent.

    d: thus we see possible vs impossible beings.

    e: of possible beings a familiar type is contingent ones, which under certain possible circumstances will exist, but under others do not and even cannot.

    f: as a case, we consider a fire which depends on the on/off enabling factors, fuel, heat, oxidiser and a chain reaction [halon extinguishers work by interfering with the reaction]

    g: we thus see how we may open the gas valve for a burner in air, then strike a spark igniting the flame, then turn off the gas flow putting it out.

    h: this exemplifies how contingent beings depend on external, enabling on/off causal factors and so may begin, are sustained, and can cease.

    i: now, what about a candidate being that is possible and yet has no dependence on on/off factors?

    j: such, would exist in any possible world and cannot cease from existing. (E.g. consider whether the truth in 2 + 3 = 5 began, or can cease from being.)

    k: if something is a serious candidate necessary being, it will either be impossible or else actual.

    5 –> So, reality is rooted in a necessary being of some sort, and serious candidates to be such will either be impossible or else actual.

    6 –> The matter under discussion, properly, is which candidate is successful as root of reality. This is the context of the modal ontological argument and linked considerations.

    7 –> God is of course such a serious candidate and those who reject him need to understand that they imply that they have good reason to hold him impossible. (Post the collapse of the deductive form of the problem of evil, that should give thoughtful agnostics or atheists or fellow travellers serious pause.)

    8 –> In that context, a modal argument takes its force: those who have reasonable grounds to accept that an inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being as the root of reality is possible, have reason to be confident that such would be actual. And,

    9 –> they have good reason to challenge those who reject that reality of God to show good reason as to why the eternal God as seriously understood for millennia, is an impossible being of the order of a square circle.

    10 –> Thus, parodies about defining God into existence collapse. It truns out the burden of proof is asymmetrical, one it is understood that the cosmos demands a necessary being as root cause, and that God is a serious candidate to be a necessary being.

    11 –> But, what if this simply means, “God” is another name for the cosmos or something like that?

    12 –> This is a more serious question, worthy of reflection.

    13 –> The observed cosmos, of course credibly began and in any case is based on matter-energy and space-time, which are riddled with contingency of being. So we are talking about the alternatives of some root ground of being with maybe an emergent physical world or the like.

    14 –> Again, a serious alternative, pantheism or panentheism or the like.

    15 –> The two critical worldview issues with such views are: the cosmos reflects purposeful intelligent design for C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life per fine tuning, and the issue of a cosmos in which the one and the many have to find coherent explanation.

    16 –> Cutting to the chase scene, design points to purposeful mind, thus person. Likewise, the balance of unity and diversity in which we as responsibly free individuals have significance points to our being made in the image of God. Probe has — oops, wayback machine — a useful article as a launchpad for further thought (though, this goes beyond the proper focus of UD well into specifics of systematic theology):

    When it comes to discussing worldviews the starting point is the question, Why is there something rather than nothing?{6} As you may already know, there are three basic answers to this question. The pantheist would generally answer that all is one, all is god, and this “god with a small g” has always existed. Second, the naturalist would say that something, namely matter [in some form], has always existed. Third, the theist holds that a personal, Creator-God is eternal and out of nothing He created all that there is . . . .When we look around at what exists, we see an amazing collection of seemingly disparate elements such as gasses, liquids, and solids, planets and stars, horses, flowers, rocks, and trees. And seeing all of these things we notice that they all exist in some sort of equilibrium or unity. How is it that such diversity exists in such apparent unity? And are we as human beings any more important than gasses or ants? . . . .

    The pantheist’s commitment to an all-inclusive oneness leaves no room for the real world in which people live, where I am not you and neither of us is one with a tree or a mountain. The naturalist has no problem accepting the reality of the physical world and the diversity present in it. However, there is no solid ground for understanding why it is all held together. In short, [as Francis Schaeffer often noted] there is no infinite reference point so we are left with the circular argument: everything holds together because everything holds together; if it didn’t, we wouldn’t be here to see it. What a coincidence! In fact, coincidence, or chance, is the only basis for anything. As a result human beings are left with an absurd existence . . . .

    Trinitarian theism is the only option that contains within itself an explanation of both the one and the many while saying that people are important. In the Trinity, God has revealed Himself as the eternal, infinite reference point for His creation. Moreover, the Trinity provides the only adequate basis for understanding the problem of unity and diversity since God has revealed Himself to be one God who exists in a plural unity. Ultimately then, as Horrell concludes, “Every thing and every person has real significance because each is created by and finally exists in relationship to the Triune God.” [Article, What Difference Does the Trinity Make?]

    17 –> In short, we are here at a threshold to a much broader and deeper discussion. Time to draw back to the focal matter.

    18 –> It urns out that the pivotal question is, why is there something instead of nothing? This points to a necessary being as root of reality and the key force of the modal discussion as putting on the table that in that context, as God is a serious candidate necessary being, if he is possible, he is actual.

    19 –> So also, if one wishes to reject God as real, s/he needs to ponder soberly if there is good reason to hold God impossible. God is a question that cannot responsibly be dodged by demanding, YOU prove his reality to me or I can act as though he is imaginary, etc.

    20 –> It also allows us to draw out significant understandings of the nature of God, and of ourselves as creatures under responsible freedom and moral government.

    21 –> I think I should pause to cite someone else who was not exactly writing to give simplistic pat answers, Newton in the General Scholium to his Principia in which he presented his synthesis on motion in the heavens and on earth through the laws of gravitation and motion . . . in part an exercise on the question of the one and the many:

    . . . This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another.

    This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator , or Universal Ruler; for God is a relative word, and has a respect to servants; and Deity is the dominion of God not over his own body, as those imagine who fancy God to be the soul of the world, but over servants.

    The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect; but a being, however perfect, without dominion, cannot be said to be Lord God; for we say, my God, your God, the God of Israel, the God of Gods, and Lord of Lords; but we do not say, my Eternal, your Eternal, the Eternal of Israel, the Eternal of Gods; we do not say, my Infinite, or my Perfect: these are titles which have no respect to servants. The word God usually signifies Lord; but every lord is not a God. It is the dominion of a spiritual being which constitutes a God: a true, supreme, or imaginary dominion makes a true, supreme, or imaginary God.

    And from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures for ever, and is every where present; and by existing always and every where, he constitutes duration and space.

    Since every particle of space is always, and every indivisible moment of duration is every where, certainly the Maker and Lord of all things cannot be never and no where. Every soul that has perception is, though in different times and in different organs of sense and motion, still the same indivisible person. There are given successive parts in duration, co-existent puts in space, but neither the one nor the other in the person of a man, or his thinking principle; and much less can they be found in the thinking substance of God. Every man, so far as he is a thing that has perception, is one and the same man during his whole life, in all and each of his organs of sense.

    God is the same God, always and every where. He is omnipresent not virtually only, but also substantially; for virtue cannot subsist without substance. In him are all things contained and moved [i.e. cites Ac 17, where Paul evidently cites Cleanthes]; yet neither affects the other: God suffers nothing from the motion of bodies; bodies find no resistance from the omnipresence of God.

    It is allowed by all that the Supreme God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always, and every where. [i.e accepts the cosmological argument to God.] Whence also he is all similar, all eye, all ear, all brain, all arm, all power to perceive, to understand, and to act; but in a manner not at all human, in a manner not at all corporeal, in a manner utterly unknown to us. As a blind man has no idea of colours, so have we no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things. He is utterly void of all body and bodily figure, and can therefore neither be seen, nor heard, or touched; nor ought he to be worshipped under the representation of any corporeal thing. [Cites Exod 20.]

    We have ideas of his attributes, but what the real substance of any thing is we know not. In bodies, we see only their figures and colours, we hear only the sounds, we touch only their outward surfaces, we smell only the smells, and taste the savours; but their inward substances are not to be known either by our senses, or by any reflex act of our minds: much less, then, have we any idea of the substance of God.

    We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [i.e from his designs]: we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants; and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature.

    Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [i.e necessity does not produce contingency]

    All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. [That is, implicitly rejects chance, Plato’s third alternative and explicitly infers to the Designer of the Cosmos.]

    But, by way of allegory, God is said to see, to speak, to laugh, to love, to hate, to desire, to give, to receive, to rejoice, to be angry, to fight, to frame, to work, to build; for all our notions of God are taken from. the ways of mankind by a certain similitude, which, though not perfect, has some likeness, however.

    And thus much concerning God; to discourse of whom from the appearances of things, does certainly belong to Natural Philosophy.

    Food for thought . . .

    KF

  14. 14
    Silver Asiatic says:

    A maximally great destructive force cannot explain itself. In fact, it’s impossible to combine maximum greatness and maximum annihilation. It’s a square circle.

    A maximally great positive force, however, an explain itself – as it can explain the existence of all things.

  15. 15
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    It turns out that the pivotal question is, why is there something instead of nothing? This points to a necessary being as root of reality and the key force of the modal discussion as putting on the table that in that context, as God is a serious candidate necessary being, if he is possible, he is actual.

    True – it’s a question of Being or Actualization from potential existence.

    The fact that something exists points to the necessity of that which gives existence.

  16. 16
    Mung says:

    RDFish avoids these waters. One wonders why.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung, the rhetorical gambit is, you no writa da inglish rite so I can ignore. KF

  18. 18
    JWTruthInLove says:

    Mung, the rhetorical gambit is, you no writa da inglish rite so I can ignore. KF

    Your weird parody of a token-foreigner doesn’t make any sense. The accusation is that YOU might be the one, whose native language is not English.

    Here’s a correction:

    RDF: I think it might be a language problem – is English your native language?
    KF: Ya nein, I komme from German reich sauerkraut wienerschnitzel ignore everyzzing I zzaay!

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    JWT, The accusation is made to dismiss without consideration. In a context where actually addressing the matter would be most inconvenient for the party trying the dismissal game. And, while I confess to parody, that’s not too far off from some Spanish speakers I have heard struggling with “de Ingles.”* KF

    *Ingles is the Spanish word for “English.” But English speakers unfamiliar with that will struggle, so I used a bit of poetic licence. Ditto, for “de” vs da, which sounds closer. In my experience, such Spanish speakers tend to be brief in what they say; German speakers, I presume, would fill out with a few details as you have.

  20. 20
    Axel says:

    It’s not a weird parody, KF. It’s the humorous colloquial rendering. You were right to use it. These people turn to pedantry – in this case, misconceived, to boot – when they are on the losing side of an argument.

  21. 21
    skram says:

    Poe’s law, named after its author Nathan Poe, is a literary adage which stipulates that without a clear indicator of an author’s intended sarcasm it becomes impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism.

  22. 22
    Axel says:

    KF, vocabulary-wise, English-speakers have one of the richest languages this side of the black stump (to use an Aussie expression), yet English must generally be among the least gifted linguists, either side of the blacks stump. How about the Elephant and Castle for the Infanta of Castile, as an example?!?!

    It’s kind of strange in a way, since the English and their Australian, Kiwi, Canadian and US descendants have a gift for metaphor that Shakespeare and Eliot must have envied. It’s usually in the form of slang – the best ones indicating a rich narrative, all the more comical for being tacit.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    Skram, there is a rhetorical tactic, increasingly prevalent among certain objectors to design thought, that wants to suggest that what many of us have to say is incomprehensible. In this case, someone challenged the notion of contingent existence being a reality in the observed cosmos. I pointed out that contingency of being pivots on having external enabling causal factors (think: fire triangle or better yet tetrahedron) which is what leads to presence/absence in possible worlds, thence having things like a beginning — only, to have the rhetorical gambit played that “you no writa da inglish rite.” The Poe problem . . . if any . . . is on the part of another party, I suggest. KF

  24. 24
    JWTruthInLove says:

    @Alex

    It’s not a weird parody, KF.

    The point is the parody doesn’t make any sense. KF is accused of being the foreigner. Yet kf’s parody portraits RDF as the foreigner, meaning kf is now the one using the “rhetorical gambit”.

  25. 25
    JWTruthInLove says:

    @kf:

    JWT, The accusation is made to dismiss without consideration. In a context where actually addressing the matter would be most inconvenient for the party trying the dismissal game.

    So you’ve decided to join the “dismissal game” club by dismissing the language barrier?? RDF is chatty, just not with you.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    JWT, passing back. I note, turnabout in such a context is fair play. And, meanwhile the underlying double issue of the moral and modal ontological questions are at the pivot of current civilisational disputes and agendas. To our peril. KF

  27. 27
    serious123 says:

    I know I’m late to the party but I’ve always wondered why the Flying spaghetti monster hasn’t been showcased far and wide as the de facto nail in the coffin for the bar room Internet atheist.

    It’s such a blatant illustration of how uneducated they are of the issues at hand. With aliases like ” logic man” and “reason777” , they advertise themselves as the pinnacle of human thought but they seem to have no idea these topics have been vetted for over 2000 years by some of the greatest thinkers that have ever lived. Like someone said there is a God and no one thought any deeper than that.

    Because that’s precisely what these pot heads did. They gave zero thought to it snd their minions all repeated it as if it was a work of genius. Obviously, real atheist and agnostic philosophers must have crapped on this self refuting garbage as they did Dawkins, Krauss and Hawkings childish rants, but I haven’t seen it disappear– most likely because it’s direct blasphemy and mockery of God–which depraved fools love.

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