Intelligent Design

Quotes of the Day: Atheists Are VERY Religious

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This exchange between Phinehas and HeKS brings it out as succinctly as anything I’ve ever seen:

Phinehas says:

The thing that fascinates me is how atheists are shown to have prodigious faith in something eternal with god-like creative powers [i.e., the multiverse]. It’s almost like they have no issues whatsoever believing in a god, just so long as it doesn’t bear that particular label.

HeKS replies:

I tend to think that it’s because they don’t want that eternal thing with god-like creative powers to also be personal and have the ability to ground and impose moral values and duties on humans.

As the multiverse has demonstrated, atheists have no problem at all with faith in something that is unseen, intangible, outside of the physical universe, eternal, capable of bringing about unlikely effects we can’t fully understand, and that cannot be falsified through any conceivable scientific experiment.

The only thing they insist on stopping short of is something that is intelligent and that can ground moral values and duties … and probably they stop short of the former only because of the latter, as suggested by the willingness of some to accept the idea that we’re living in an intelligently designed simulation created by other contingent physical beings based largely on the same scientific evidence theists point to as suggestive of God’s existence, which they had denied suggested design until the simulation hypothesis came along. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one such example.

154 Replies to “Quotes of the Day: Atheists Are VERY Religious

  1. 1
    Pindi says:

    I don’t have “faith” in the multiverse. I doubt anyone does. It is a catch all phrase for a number of interesting theories attempting to explain what we observe in our universe. Nothing god-like about it. Is general relativity god-like? It is a theory, that was much derided by many, to explain what we observe.

    And its not that I don’t want to believe in something that is god-like and personal. I just don’t see any evidence for it.

  2. 2
    HeKS says:

    Pindi: And its not that I don’t want to believe in something that is god-like and personal. I just don’t see any evidence for it.

    Oh God, it’s the “there just isn’t any evidence” canard again.

    I don’t know how atheists can even make this claim with a straight face anymore.

    Here is a sampling of a few lines of evidence strongly pointing to God’s existence:

    – The origin of the universe (including its matter, energy, space and physical laws) in the finite past

    – The fine-tuning of the physical laws and initial conditions of the universe in a way that allows for the existence of intelligent life

    – The fine-tuning of the universe for discoverability

    – The fine-tuning of our solar system and planet for both life and discoverability

    – The origin of life, which is roughly the equivalent of the origin of biological information

    – Various events in the history of life that seem to show a large-scale influx of biological information that cannot be accounted for by any proposed mechanism of biological evolution that we are aware of. (Best explained by reference to God when taken in light of preceding items)

    – Various other events in history that seem best explained by divine intervention and that would not be expected on naturalism or materialism (such as evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ).

    – The apparent existence of objective moral values and duties, which people can’t seem to avoid invoking even while denying their existence (i.e. sneaking it in the back door after booting it out the front door)

    – Various aspects of the mind, including the apparent existence of free will, the apparent existence of a rational consciousness capable of accurately perceiving external events and reasoning on them in a reliable way, the ability to have subjective experiences, and the ability to have thoughts that are about things.

    These facts, conditions and states of affairs make God’s existence more likely than it would otherwise be in their absence or if they were different than they are, thus they constitute evidence for God’s existence.

    If you want to say you’re not personally convinced and wouldn’t be unless God performed some miracle in front of your eyes for the sake of personally convincing you, fine. You’re entitled to your selective hyperskepticism. But stop claiming that there just isn’t any evidence for God’s existence. If you don’t want to accept God’s existence then it’s time to put on your bib and gobble up the multiverse. Bon appetit.

  3. 3
    groovamos says:

    Pindi: I just don’t see any evidence for it.

    This is what you would think if you really believe the universe is stupid. You discover mind boggling complexity, say for example the living systems uncovered in the studies of physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, etc. For example in vision processing it appears that along the way from the retina to the brain, visual information is processed at a series of ganglia where levels of abstraction (shapes, motion, changes) of a scene are teased out of the raw action potentials and encoded along the way to becoming perception. The abstraction level stages higher and higher from one ganglion to the next. It took huge efforts of logical thinking for scientists to begin to tease out the function of this staged visual processing.

    So according to people like Pindi, it’s natural for logic to be required to understand mind boggling complexity of living systems, but for the thing studied and the universe itself to be characterized by a parallel but superior logic of its own, why no, no, forever no we can’t have any notion of that, because everything we study in biology and in science is stupid and logic-free. Somehow. One can be so proud of one’s own logical ability, but to infer an inherent logic to the thing studied is just too scary for these people.

    Heks: I tend to think that’s because they don’t want that eternal thing with god-like creative powers to also be personal and have the ability to ground and impose moral values and duties on humans.

    This may be true and may be based on a misconception anyway.

    The premise would be true if the Creator actually did impose moral values.

    Don’t want to get too twisted off on philosophy here, but what if the Creator imposed a substrate for Truth in the psyche, from which moral values emanate if not blocked by the ego and propensity towards evil?

    About half, maybe less, of humanity does believe in something else imposed upon humans, imposed in the sense that it cannot be contravened – which is law of karma.

  4. 4
    rvb8 says:

    groovamos and HeKS, all of the things HeKS listed, except for the starting point of the universe have competing, and better theorised natural answers. The God creation belief, equally raises the problem of ultimate origins, as does the Big Bang. Your ultimate cause, very sorry, needs a cause. Your ’causeless cause’ tedium is just that unsupported faith.
    HeKS uses ‘fine tuning’ three times and roles his eyes at the ‘lack of evidence for God’argument.
    Fine tuning, is a poor way to describe the natural constants that govern our universe, and if they are so fine tuned why didn’t God make the constants nice round numbers? Was He constrained by something? His own creation perhaps?
    “The Universe spake, and said unto God make Pi 3.145…, and the Universe saw that it was good.”
    And if creation constrained God’s ability to round out those confounded ‘fine tuned’ constants; ‘e’ for example. What does this say about omnipotance, and the other ‘oms’?

  5. 5
    Pindi says:

    Wow HeKS that was a bit of a rant. Not sure if all of those lead to a personal God? Why get so worked up about it? Why does it bother you so much that someone comes to a different conclusion to you?

  6. 6
    Origenes says:

    Pindi: Why does it bother you so much that someone comes to a different conclusion to you?

    The problem with your conclusion — “I just don’t see any evidence for it” — is that in reality there is evidence for the existence of God.
    For instance, there is testimonial evidence of interactions with God. You may want to argue that this particular type of evidence is not compelling, however, that doesn’t equate with “there is not any evidence”.
    You are a lawyer. Why is it that we need to explain this to you?

  7. 7
    Marfin says:

    rvb8- I would like to hear your better theory for the origin of life,and I assume it is a theory and not just wild speculation.
    Now please don`t reply with the old there are so many to choose from just quote one or two that don`t suffer from fatal flaws, or from in the future we will discover.

  8. 8
    Florabama says:

    “…all of the things HeKS listed, except for the starting point of the universe have competing, and better theorised natural answers.” rvb8

    Patently not true and saying such reveals an ignorance of the debate that is astounding for someone claiming such expertise. Yes there are other explanations but they are not “better,” and the origin of life from non-life alone makes a powerful argument for God but together they are inescapable except for those willfully intransigent. You remain willfully obtuse in spite of the evidence — not for the lack of it.

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    rvb8

    all of the things HeKS listed, except for the starting point of the universe have competing, and better theorised natural answers

    Congratulations. You utterly, completely, fundamentally missed the the very simple point HeKS was making.

    Pindi spewed out yet again the “there is no evidence” canard. HeKS shot it down for what must be the millionth time.

    Yes, any child can understand that there is at least some evidence for the existence of God. That the evidence does not convince you is, for purposes of what HeKS was doing, totally irrelevant to his point.

  10. 10
    Barry Arrington says:

    Pindi,

    Wow HeKS that was a bit of a rant. Why get so worked up about it?

    Because it is frustrating dealing with the same staggeringly stupid “there is no evidence” objection over and over and over. That’s why.

    Not sure if all of those lead to a personal God?

    Beside the point. Can you not see that? You said there is “no evidence.” HeKS point to a lot of evidence. Do you not understand the basic conceptual difference between “evidence that does not convince you” and “no evidence.” I think I read somewhere you are a lawyer. If so, you understand that people put on evidence that does not convince juries every day. That does not mean there was “no evidence.” If you are a lawyer, why do you make obviously wrong statements about evidence that would embarrass any first year law student?

    Why does it bother you so much that someone comes to a different conclusion to you?

    Again, beside the point. You are welcome to come to a different conclusion. You are not welcome to lie.

  11. 11

    Atheism is an untenable position, logically speaking. There’s just too much evidence and good logical argument otherwise. It also has no practical value – it doesn’t actually gain you anything in any practical sense. It doesn’t even offer or promise anything meaningful or worth striving for.

    Furthermore, atheists act as if there is a god that grounds objective morality anyway, in contradiction to their intellectual position. Indeed, atheists must live and act day to day as if most of what the hold to be fundamentally true about our existence is in fact false. They act as if free will exists. They act as if there we have a supernatural capacity to override physical processes and not only discern true statements about reality, but reprogram our physical brain to admit those truths upon good evidence and argument.

    If atheistic materialism is true, nobody has any capacity to know or understand any truth; we would just be biological automatons doing and saying and thinking whatever happenstance interactions of chemicals produced. Understanding a truth as true would require some kind of supernatural ability to look at a chemical result from the outside and assess it’s truth without that assessment also being a haphazard chemical process. Atheistic mterialists have no such recourse in their ideology.

    So, one wonders what an atheist can mean when they say “there is no evidence for god”? As a self-identifies haphazard interaction of chemicals, how would they know if there was or was not any evidence? They cannot know, they can only think what the chemicals happen to produce. They could just as easily be a fanatical muslim or a jellyfish in the ocean imagining the whole thing via chemical luck.

    What would a happenstance bag of chemicals hope to accomplish by telling another bag of chemicals that the effects of their chemicals (belief in god) is “wrong”? How could a physical effect of interacting chemicals be “wrong”? Wrong in what sense? The first bag of chemicals cannot mean the second bag is wrong in any metaphysical sense, or in any objective truth sense. All the first bag can be doing is just saying whatever its chemicals dictate whether it is true or not.

    The first bag of chemicals might as well just be making magical incantations, burning incense or sending the second bag of chemicals a voodoo doll as attempt a “logical” argument based on “evidence”, because who knows what physical interaction might actually end up having the effect of changing the other bag’s brain-state we call a “belief”?

    This is the self-defeating nonsense that is atheistic materialism. A lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. We might as well be trees making rustling noises at each other if atheistic materialism is true. Atheist materialism = biological solipsism.

  12. 12
    groovamos says:

    rvb8: The God creation belief, equally raises the problem of ultimate origins, as does the Big Bang.

    See this is the conceit of you guys, believing that science (which is to say your own logic) is unlimited in its scope. It is obvious that naturalistic science applied to the human mind is a miserable failure, with not the ghost of a clue (intended word play) as to the etiology of any mental illness. Same goes for the existence of the First Cause and any ‘why’ associated. Sorry but just deal with it. Philosophers for millenia have dealt with it very well. Why you want to be born and grow up and think it will reveal itself to your conceit that you might call ‘science’ says much about your personality, as does the idea that this is a “problem”. This is ‘science’ masquerading as philosophy.

    Your ultimate cause, very sorry, needs a cause.

    Says you based on nothing but that conceit put forth above.

    Your ’causeless cause’ tedium is just that unsupported faith.

    That science can go where it fails miserably and can somehow succeed instead of fail is the ultimate delusion, supported by the above assertion regarding human consciousness and naturalism. You just keep making the same ontological mistake over and over and over, and after a couple of centuries or more of failure you get success? And you want to bring up faith? This can be nothing but blind faith. So you might consider a little more care and humility regarding your philosophical prowess.

  13. 13
    HeKS says:

    Pindi #5

    Wow HeKS that was a bit of a rant.

    Was it? It seems to me that it was merely an eye-rolling list of some of the lines of evidence that you had just said didn’t exist.

    Not sure if all of those lead to a personal God? Why get so worked up about it?

    I’m not “so worked up about it”. I’m simply bored of hearing the same obviously false claim repeated over and over again by people who want to win the debate by lazily claiming that there’s nothing to discuss and that theism is the same thing as fideism. It’s not. The evidence has brought us to a place where, as Bernard Carr so elegantly put it, “If you don’t want God, you’d better have a multiverse.”

    So, the question is, why would you claim that there is no evidence for God’s existence? Why wouldn’t you simply say that you are personally unconvinced by the evidence? Are you truly ignorant of the fact that such evidence exists? Or are you merely partaking in the intellectually dishonest tradition of recasting theism as fideism unworthy of serious consideration?

    Why does it bother you so much that someone comes to a different conclusion to you?

    The problem is not that you come to a different conclusion. The problem is that you falsely deny the existence of evidence that must be considered in coming to a sound and rational conclusion. In response to this statement of yours, Barry responded in #10 with almost precisely the same words that occurred to me when I first read your post: You are free to come to any conclusion you like, but that doesn’t mean you’re free to lie about the evidence.

  14. 14
    bill cole says:

    Rvb8

    groovamos and HeKS, all of the things HeKS listed, except for the starting point of the universe have competing, and better theorised natural answers.

    You have made a claim here. I would be interested in you showing better theorized natural answers to HeKS’s arguments.

  15. 15
    HeKS says:

    rvb8 #4

    groovamos and HeKS, all of the things HeKS listed, except for the starting point of the universe have competing, and better theorised natural answers.

    My claim was that there is evidence for God’s existence. My claim was not that there is absolute proof for God’s existence or that God is the only conceivable explanation for the things listed. As such, this comment from you would be completely irrelevant to my point even if it were true. But then, it’s not true. And, in fact, it’s untrue on both counts, in that not all of the items in my list have competing “theorized natural answers”, and where they do, those competing natural answers are typically worse, not better.

    Consider the list again…

    – The origin of the universe (including its matter, energy, space and physical laws) in the finite past

    You didn’t try to assert that there was a better competing naturalistic theory for this, so I won’t spend time on it. Suffice it to say that Krauss’ idea of a universe from “nothing”, in which “nothing” is the quantum vacuum, assumes the prior existence of all the things to be explained and doesn’t answer the philosophical issues involved.

    – The fine-tuning of the physical laws and initial conditions of the universe in a way that allows for the existence of intelligent life

    – The fine-tuning of the universe for discoverability

    – The fine-tuning of our solar system and planet for both life and discoverability

    In response to these you said:

    HeKS uses ‘fine tuning’ three times and roles his eyes at the ‘lack of evidence for God’argument.

    Actually, these three list items mention fine-tuning four times, because they are referring to four different categories of fine-tuning.

    The fine-tuning of the laws of physics and initial conditions of the universe are a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for life to be even possible anywhere in the universe.

    The fine-tuning of our solar system and planet for the existence of intelligent life, which includes a few hundred factors, is also necessary, but would be useless and in many cases impossible without the fine-tuning of the universe itself.

    The fine-tuning of the universe for discoverability refers to the fact that the values of the laws of physics fall into an even more narrow range than the already inconceivably narrow range necessary for life, but instead fit within the subset of that life-permitting range that also allows the universe to be scientifically discoverable to intelligent beings.

    This, however, would be useless if our own planet and solar system were not also fine-tuned in terms of their position and composition so as to also be conducive to scientific discovery

    Now, in order to account for the fine tuning of the laws of physics and initial conditions of the universe, some appeal to a staggeringly expansive multiverse birthing off child universes in which the values are randomly determined, which they try to derive from some undetermined hypothetical connection between the purely theoretical concept of chaotic inflation and the much-maligned string theory, which is also purely theoretical.

    It would take an unimaginable number of universes with randomly determined values to have a 51% chance of getting a universe that falls into the life-permitting range of our universe. But that would just be the beginning, because then you have all the other factors needed to make intelligent life possible at the level of the planet and solar system, all of which the atheist requires to have occurred by chance. The number of additional universes required to also get all these factors at the right values would dwarf the already unimaginably large collection of universes that have to be postulated just to explain the fine-tuning of the universe itself. And what reason do we have to postulate such a massive collective? Only that we need the probabilistic resources to explain the seemingly designed qualities of the cosmos by reference to chance alone.

    But in addition to all of the problems that could be raised with the multiverse idea, we have another problem that is presented by the fine-tuning of both the universe and our planet and solar system for discoverability, which is that the characteristic of discoverability is not necessary for life and so it cannot be accounted for by reference to an observer selection effect at either the cosmic or the planetary scale. Were we just a random member of a multiverse, we would have no reason to expect that in addition to being in an incredibly unlikely universe that is capable of sustaining intelligent life, we would also be in an even more unlikely universe that is conducive to scientific discovery. So the multiverse doesn’t offer an alternative naturalistic explanation for this fine-tuning, unless we just want to throw our hands up and say that the multiverse explains literally every conceivable state of affairs as being the product of chance alone, destroying the foundation of science in the process.

    Furthermore, as an explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe, the multiverse is highly ad hoc. Even Andrei Linde, who is responsible for the Chaotic Inflation theory that is sometimes appealed to as a possible means of getting many universes with different physics readily admits that any aspect of the theory leading to universes that have laws and constants with different values is purely speculative and that it’s the fine-tuning itself that gives us any reason to accept the speculation as possibly true.

    So the competing naturalistic explanation for fine-tuning is ad hoc and explains either too little to match the explanatory scope of the God Hypothesis, or else it explains too much and undercuts science and rationality. And this in addition to the various other problems with it that have been raised (e.g. Boltzmann Brains, need for the multiverse itself to be fine-tuned, etc.)

    – The origin of life, which is roughly the equivalent of the origin of biological information

    There’s a better, viable, naturalistic theory in existence? Nope. Uh-uh. I don’t think so. No naturalistic OOL theory seems viable so far. If they’ve made any progress on OOL it is in finding out how much more unlikely it is on naturalism that was initially thought. Might they come up with something viable in the distant future? Perhaps, but as an argument, that’s a cheque that nobody has to cash, and this is a discussion about the actual current state of the evidence and our knowledge, not about undated naturalistic promissory notes.

    – Various events in the history of life that seem to show a large-scale influx of biological information that cannot be accounted for by any proposed mechanism of biological evolution that we are aware of. (Best explained by reference to God when taken in light of preceding items)

    I’m not even going to bother discussing this one since it gets talked about here all the time.

    – Various other events in history that seem best explained by divine intervention and that would not be expected on naturalism or materialism (such as evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ).

    The primary competing naturalistic theory is that hundreds of people had shared group visual and auditory hallucinations. That can only be considered a better explanation to someone who has an a priori and unwavering commitment to the non-existence of God and the impossibility of what, to us, appears miraculous.

    – The apparent existence of objective moral values and duties, which people can’t seem to avoid invoking even while denying their existence (i.e. sneaking it in the back door after booting it out the front door)

    The competing naturalistic theory is that objective moral values and duties do not exist. Verbally denying the existence of something while being unable to personally live as though that thing didn’t exist does not count as offering an alternative explanation for its existence. No viable alternative to God has been found for grounding objective moral values and duties, and yet countless atheists believe and live as though they exist.

    – Various aspects of the mind, including the apparent existence of free will, the apparent existence of a rational consciousness capable of accurately perceiving external events and reasoning on them in a reliable way, the ability to have subjective experiences, and the ability to have thoughts that are about things.

    And again, the competing naturalistic theory is that these things do not exist. Claiming that we don’t have free will, that there is no subjective observer, and that we cannot have thoughts that are about things and so can’t have rational consciousness capable of accurately perceiving reality or rationally deliberating on evidence is not an alternate naturalistic explanation for any of these things at all, much less a better explanation for their existence than God.

    The God creation belief, equally raises the problem of ultimate origins, as does the Big Bang. Your ultimate cause, very sorry, needs a cause. Your ’causeless cause’ tedium is just that unsupported faith.

    And yet, prior to the realization that the universe had an absolute beginning in the finite past, atheists were perfectly fine accepting, as a brute fact, the existence of the universe as an uncaused entity that had existed temporally into an infinite past … and they are constantly trying to return to that view. This is not just the atheistic equivalent of the theist’s uncaused God. It is actually much worse, because even the theist doesn’t posit God as existing temporally through an infinite past.

    Fine tuning, is a poor way to describe the natural constants that govern our universe, and if they are so fine tuned why didn’t God make the constants nice round numbers? Was He constrained by something? His own creation perhaps?

    What a bizarre argument. The values aren’t fine-tuned because they are astronomically more precise than simple whole numbers? You know, do you, that a super-intellect would only use “nice round numbers”? It’s strange that you think the universe ought to be mathematically describable at all on naturalism.

    Also, of course God was constrained by his own creation. It is a simple fact of physical instantiation that starting points constrain end points, that pathways constrain outputs, that present choices constrain downstream options, that functional coherence constrains the relationship between parts. I’m not sure why you would find any of this surprising.

  16. 16
    Pindi says:

    You guys are maybe getting a bit hung up on semantics. I guess by “no evidence” I mean “no good evidence”. Or maybe it’s the way I define the word. To me, the word “evidence” means something that tends to prove something. I don’t see the big bang etc as tending to prove the existence of God.

    I am not being lazy and I am not a liar. I just regard the God hypothesis as so far fetched as to not be worth spending too much time on. Again you will probably call me stupid or lacking in intellectual rigour. And maybe that’s true. Maybe all the millions of people around the world who think like me, many of whom are definitely not stupid or thoughtless, are wrong, and you are the ones who have it right. Or maybe none of us are right. I just don’t see the point in denouncing those who think differently to you as fools and liars.

  17. 17
    HeKS says:

    Pindi,

    I just don’t see the point in denouncing those who think differently to you as fools and liars.

    It’s not a matter of denouncing people who think differently as fools and liars. It’s a matter of demanding that people actually do the thinking part and asking that they at least try to deal with the issues honestly.

    For example, you just said this:

    You guys are maybe getting a bit hung up on semantics. I guess by “no evidence” I mean “no good evidence”. Or maybe it’s the way I define the word. To me, the word “evidence” means something that tends to prove something. I don’t see the big bang etc as tending to prove the existence of God.

    Well, the fact is, words have meanings and those meanings work to convey ideas and certain narratives. The lack of semantic rigor on this particular issue contributes favorably to the treasured atheist narrative that people who believe in God are superstitious idiots who accept his existence purely on blind faith.

    In reality, however, saying that there is no evidence for God’s existence is very different from saying that you don’t think the evidence for God’s existence is good, especially when you’ve given no particular description of what you think makes evidence “good”.

    Of course, some light is shed on the distinction when you say that you think “evidence” essentially means “proof”. Well, “proof” suggests something that can be held with certainty, and so this raises the question of what kind of “certainty” you’re talking about. Are you talking about absolute certainty, or are you talking about moral certainty? The nature of reality requires that humans must generally settle for the latter on most issues of importance, as there are precious few things about which we can be absolutely certain on the basis of confirming proof.

    Theists think that the totality of the evidence for God’s existence easily and most definitely rises to the level of providing us with Moral Certainty. If you, instead, are demanding evidence that is capable of providing you with absolute certainty and are determined to withhold your belief in its absence then I think you need to ask yourself whether your hyper-skepticism is equitable (i.e. applied to all aspects of your life) or selective (i.e. applied merely to those things you don’t want to believe).

    P.S. If you want a description of Selective Hyper-Skepticism, see the beginning of my comment here. There you will also find a link to a description of Moral Certainty.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    Pindi, could you first please ground your far-fetched “I” hypothesis on your evidently evolutionary materialistic premises? As in kindly ground an “I” that is not merely a delusion tossed up by neurological electrochemistry conditioned by the utterly non-rational. Apart from that, tossing the rhetorical grenade “far-fetched” in regards to the reality of God does nothing more than try to excite an emotional reaction and imply the well worn ploy that atheism is a “default” view. When you ground “I” on evo mat premises, then there is someone to talk to; someone who subtly implies we are bound by an oughtness of getting things right, which points to responsible, rational freedom and moral government. Which then requires grounding this on your premises of evo mat . . . which simply cannot be done. In short I have called your unified, rational oughtness governed, conscience instructed self to the witness stand and it speaks in ways that undermine your view and point to the root of reality being a necessary being IS capable of grounding OUGHT. A big clue in itself. KF

    PS: As one of the pro-theism arguments, you can try out the fact that I am here to discuss with you at all — rather than what in my native land, we would call a duppy. For, absent a miracle of guidance in answer to prayer of surrender by my mom 40+ years past now, I should have long since been dead. And this is only one of many, many direct experiences of God in action that have positively transformed my life and that of millions across the globe and the ages (which is itself a strong sign such experiences are not delusional). In short, your “far-fetched” also has in it the insinuation of grand delusion on a scale that would indict the general credibility of personal experience and eyewitness testimony and record. Which is yet another form of the utter self-referential incoherence of selective hyperskepticism.

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Simon Greenleaf in the opening salvos of his treatise on Evidence:

    Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [–> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction. [–> that is, his focus is on the logic of good support for in principle uncertain conclusions, i.e. in the modern sense, inductive logic and reasoning in real world, momentous contexts with potentially serious consequences.]

    Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd. [–> the issue of warrant to moral certainty, beyond reasonable doubt; and the contrasted absurdity of selective hyperskepticism.]

    The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them. [–> moral certainty standard, and this is for the proverbial man in the Clapham bus stop, not some clever determined advocate or skeptic motivated not to see or assent to what is warranted.]

    The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved. [–> pistis enters; we might as well learn the underlying classical Greek word that addresses the three levers of persuasion, pathos- ethos- logos and its extension to address worldview level warranted faith-commitment and confident trust on good grounding, through the impact of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in C1 as was energised by the 500 key witnesses.]

    By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind [–> in British usage, the man in the Clapham bus stop], beyond reasonable doubt.

    The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal [–> and responsible] test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest. [= definition of moral certainty as a balanced unprejudiced judgement beyond reasonable, responsible doubt. Obviously, i/l/o wider concerns, while scientific facts as actually observed may meet this standard, scientific explanatory frameworks such as hypotheses, models, laws and theories cannot as they are necessarily provisional and in many cases have had to be materially modified, substantially re-interpreted to the point of implied modification, or outright replaced; so a modicum of prudent caution is warranted in such contexts — explanatory frameworks are empirically reliable so far on various tests, not utterly certain. ] [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]

  20. 20
    Origenes says:

    I’m intrigued by the following:

    Pindi: I just regard the God hypothesis as so far fetched as to not be worth spending too much time on.

    It seems to me that Pindi is suggesting that there is a commonsensical alternative to the God hypothesis. I would like to know what that is.
    One thing is for sure: it’s not materialism. Nothing is so far-fetched as a universe from nothing and particles in motion which self-organize into human beings by sheer dumb luck.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: as a start point, being. Candidates can be possible or impossible, the latter such that core characteristics stand in mutual contradiction so no such entity may exist in any possible world. Think square circles. Possible beings would exist in at least one possible world. Of such, contingent beings depend on on/off enabling causal factors that if off in a possible world would block the beginning or continuation of existence. Think, a fire i/l/o the fire tetrahedron used to fight such. Then conceive of beings with no such dependence on external enabling factors, i.e. there is no possible world in which they do not exist. For example try to see how a world could be without two-ness in it thus also the abstract contrast A vs ~A (which is foundational to rationality). That is necessary beings are root-level elements of the framework for a world to exist and no possible world can be without such. This addresses the “far fetched[ness]” of the concept, necessary being. Now contrast non-being, a genuine nothing. Such hath not causal capability and were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain — so much for the rhetorical trick of pulling a world out of a non-existent hat. Further to this the immediate consequence is, as a world manifestly is, SOMETHING ALWAYS WAS AT WORLD-ROOT LEVEL, a necessary being, root-cause of existence. The issue is, what is the best candidate. Especially in a world with morally governed, evidently responsibly and rationally substantially free beings — or else rational discussion evaporates. KF

  22. 22
    Pindi says:

    Hi HeKS,

    I didn’t say evidence was the same thing as proof. I said evidence is something that tends to prove something. If a piece of evidence has no probative value, then how is it evidence? Or what is it evidence of?

    And by the way, the word proof doesn’t necessarily imply certainty to me either. There are different standards of proof.

    You look at the list of items you laid out and say they amount to evidence of God. I look at them and say they don’t. You say I am lying or intellectually honest. I really am not. And yes I really do think about a lot of these things. Deeply. So I’m not stupid, a liar, or intellectually dishonest. And yet I see the world differently to you, and draw different conclusions. Crazy, huh?

  23. 23
    HeKS says:

    Pindi,

    Before I bother answer the other stuff, you keep saying stuff like this:

    You say I am lying or intellectually honest. I really am not. And yes I really do think about a lot of these things. Deeply. So I’m not stupid, a liar, or intellectually dishonest. And yet I see the world differently to you, and draw different conclusions. Crazy, huh?

    Where are you getting this from? Where did I say you were stupid, a liar or intellectually dishonest? In one of my comments I offered the possibility that in denying the existence of any evidence for God you may simply be engaging in an intellectually dishonest tradition of making such claims. However, I also offered the possibility that you might be ignorant of these lines of evidence. At no point did I say you must be stupid, a liar or intellectually dishonest simply for having a different opinion. And yet for some reason you keep bringing this up, post after post, acting not only as though I’ve made the claim that you have to be stupid or a liar if you disagree with me (which I haven’t), but also as if that were essentially the only thing I’ve said to you.

  24. 24
    Pindi says:

    HeCKS,

    Well you have conceded the accusation of intellectual dishonesty in your comment above. You think that offering the possibility that I might be engaging in an intellectually dishonest tradition, is not an accusation of intellectual dishonesty?

    In post 17 you said “its a matter of demanding that people actually do the thinking part and asking that they at least try to deal with the issues honestly”. What’s that if not an allegation of laziness and dishonesty?

    In post 13 you accused me of being lazy and also of lying about the evidence.

    In Barry’s comment which you endorsed, he accused me of being staggering stupid, an embarrassment to a first year law class and that I am a liar.

    You may not realise you are doing it, but for people like me posting here, we are subjected to a barrage of emotional and insulting comments and insinuations.

    That bit of it get boring.

  25. 25
    HeKS says:

    Pindi,

    Don’t get me wrong. I fully acknowledge that I’ve suggested that you’re intellectually lazy on this subject matter. You have essentially admitted this in saying that you think the idea of God is so far fetched that it’s not worth giving much consideration. I’ve seen nothing yet that would cause me to reverse my view on this point, your assertions that you think long and hard about these issues notwithstanding. If you back up your claims with some reasonable arguments then I’m open to changing my mind on this.

    In terms of the intellectually dishonest tradition, you may or may not be participating in it intentionally and with knowledge of its intellectual dishonestly. On the other hand, you may have just been taken in by the narrative. That comment does not constitute an accusation or definitive claim. Whether or not you’re intellectually dishonest on this subject matter is an open question that I haven’t really developed an opinion (unlike the laziness issue).

    As for the comment about lying about the evidence, as I said, that statement was simply the first thing that popped into my head when I read your assertion that I had a problem with you coming to a different conclusion when my issue was that you were misrepresenting the facts. Consider it more of a hyperbolic expression intended to make a point rather than an accusation that you are intentionally lying.

    And, BTW, just because I say I agree with the thrust behind a particular comment in someone’s post doesn’t necessarily mean I see everything precisely the same way they do. A review of my comments on this site over the past 2 years will show that I’m much slower than some to make accusations of stupidity and dishonesty on a personal level. In fact, it’s quite rare. I think you are taking my comments more personally than I’m intending them. Again, so far you’ve led me to believe that you are intellectually lazy on this issue, in spite of your claims to the contrary. Nonetheless, it has not been my intention to suggest that you are stupid, an intentional liar, or necessarily intellectually dishonest (even on this issue) and I’m sorry if my comments have led you to believe that that’s what I was saying.

  26. 26
    Pindi says:

    Thanks HeKS, I appreciate that. And yes I agree you are generally slow to resort to accusations of dishonesty and stupidity. My response to you is no doubt coloured by some of the things other commentators say about me. Vitriol is never pretty and often takes me by surprise when it’s directed at me. But I guess that’s the Internet. .

  27. 27
    rvb8 says:

    Everything that has been said here about moderation policy is correct. Some might say that, ‘well then why don’t you piss off, and go and talk to those of similar views?’
    The answer to that is simple; intellectual rigour!
    I loath ‘echo chambers’. When I find them I like to indulge my ability to rouse a response. (I also visit townhall.com and breitbart news.)
    The ‘proof’ of God’s existance presented here would not pass for proof in any decent court of law: ‘Your Honour, here is the evidence for the Prosecution; that God does not exist. He appears to be missing in action your honour, his physical presence is yet to be established, He has left no measurable residue, there is no evidence of impact, especially if we remove the very human tendency to anthropomorphise every gust of wind; nothing your Honour.’

  28. 28

    Pindi said:

    You look at the list of items you laid out and say they amount to evidence of God. I look at them and say they don’t. You say I am lying or intellectually honest. I really am not. And yes I really do think about a lot of these things. Deeply. So I’m not stupid, a liar, or intellectually dishonest.

    Is testimony a form of evidence?

    Have people testified that they have experienced god in some way?

  29. 29
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Oh dear.

    First he admits he’s a troll, then he consciously misrepresents his victims.

  30. 30
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Pindi

    Your “tends towards proof” apologetic is misguided and wrong.

    I certainly would not want such a confused person representing me in a law court.

    In such contexts, it is not merely common, but near universal that conflicting bodies of evidence are presented for the judgement of the court and/or jury.

    Yet your definition a priori excludes one such body of evidence, without even knowing its content, because of the two conflicting bodies of evidence, only one (at most) can possibly convict you of its truth.

    Yes, Pindi, you a priori exclude one body of evidence without even knowing its content!

    That is what you did when you said there’s no evidence, and you did the exact same thing when you said there’s no good evidence that convicts you, although you gave the distinct impression you think you were modifying your previous error, and then you protested that you’re not deliberately lazy and willfully ignorant.

    Let me just note here that the evidence on these last questions is not of such quality as to convict me of the truth of your claims.

  31. 31
    rvb8 says:

    Yes WJM, testimony is a form of evidence. And when the testimony is rebutted by physical evidence, then those testifying are given one of two special english designations to describe them; they are liars,or they are dillusional.
    Which judge would toss out the blood stains, the fingerprints, the gun shot residue, the scratch marks, the DNA, in favour of four good Christian eyewitnesses?
    The physical evidence always trumps testimony for one very good reason; humans are awful at remembering events accurately. When those events become second, third, and umpteen hand recounts, then toss them, they are valueless as anything even approaching presentable, varifiable, evidence.
    Kind of like the written, rewritten, authored, multiple-authored, translated, retranslated, interpreted, reinterpreted, updated, reupdated, modernised Bible.

  32. 32
    Pindi says:

    Scuzzaman, when you give in to the tendency to personally denigrate your opponent it makes your argument look weak.

  33. 33
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Pindi,

    when you misrepresent your opponent, it makes you look dishonest.

  34. 34
    Pindi says:

    WJM, yes testimony can be evidence under strictly controlled conditions. Without those controls, testimony is highly unreliable.

  35. 35
    Pindi says:

    Who did I misrepresent scuzzaman?

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    Pindi,

    testimony can be evidence under strictly controlled conditions. Without those controls, testimony is highly unreliable.

    There you go again with imposing selectively hyperskeptically manipulating terms of evaluating evidence and reasonable degree of warrant.

    (Nor, has it escaped notice, that you are picking and choosing what to further discuss and what you wish to studiously ignore or sweep away with loaded dismissive talking points. You are in a worldviews, comparative difficulties, dialectic context in which factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power count in assessing alternative frames of global thought. Lawyerly/rhetorical tactics of manipulative persuasion and cherry-picking points of attack etc simply do not count here, other than to inadvertently show up gaps in your thought. Where also, it has to be understood that pistis, rhetorical proof that seeks to ground trustworthy conviction on the merits, is closely connected to the world of inductive reasoning in the modern sense of arguments of support as opposed to deductive demonstration on axioms; the world of science etc and degrees of confidence in conclusions ranging up to moral certainty. Where, you have a worldview, plainly evolutionary materialistic scientism multiplied by a rhetorical tendency to selective hyperskepticism. Before going further key facts and issues on the table include that you need to ground the “far-fetched hypothesis” that you are a coherent “I” able to engage in reasonable, responsible discussion. Also, that you need to account for the evidence that we are under moral government implied by your reliance on the general urge to seek truth and warrant that one is right. All of these are relevant evidence, as is the evidence that evolutionary materialism is irretrievably self-referentially incoherent [cf. 101 here], and that scientism contradicts itself when it asserts or implies a claim to effective monopoly on credible knowledge, for the suggestion that big-S Science is “the only begetter of truth” is an epistemological, that is philosophical, claim that would discredit such claims. Likewise, it is telling on your tactics to see above the “no evidence” card now backed off to a subtler version of same on being challenged from multiple directions. Similarly, the “far fetched” card followed by studious ignoring of a summmary as to why something like the theistic view is NOT far fetched, cf. 21 above.)

    Let’s address your dismissal of testimony a bit more.

    Testimony of people credibly there is eyewitness testimony, period. It is evidence, full stop — rhetorical gerrymandering in your comment as cited notwithstanding. (Gerrymandering which clearly and tellingly reveals intent to impose selectively hyperskeptical double-standards of warrant.)

    Testimony by those qualified to be eyewitnesses is evidence, period. Record of such is also evidence, period. And as general lying would utterly break down society, we are entitled to the presumption that most of the time people speak the truth as they perceive it. So, we do not presume general delusion or deceit or conspiracy absent specific warrant to do so. Especially, when it suits an ideological agenda.

    Anything that implies we live in a global Plato’s Cave world of shadow shows or the like undermines rationality, discussion and hopes of truth. Such should be set aside as reflecting the fallacy of grand delusion.

    Testimony of people of reasonable character carries significant weight. This, when put on record, is the basis of history and reasonable, sound history – broad sense — is the basis of almost everything else.

    You don’t get to impose artificial, self-serving, selectively hyperskeptical demands on the body of history or human experience and report. It is evidence, and when significant numbers are involved, it becomes highly reliable. (Cf here for how this relates to the credibility of the Christian gospel. And remember, just my being here alive to discuss is evidence of miraculous answer to prayer by God. There are literally millions of cases out there. Where cumulative reliability of evidence mounts up exponentially. Say, odds of error are e. For n converging credibly independent witnesses on a point, odds of joint error run like ( e)^n. If e = 0.001 and n = 12, we are looking at 10^-3 x 12 = 10^-36. And converging on a common error point by point makes this far stronger yet.)

    Further to this, physical evidence does not have independent character from this. It is accessed through our conscious experience and testimony.

    And insofar as the physical evidence is in regards to traces of events or circumstances we cannot directly observe, we have to rely on testimony, record, report and inference to the best current explanation. Where, for example, computer simulations are not actual physical evidence, reconstructed pictures and models, ditto, same for reconstructions of the remote past of origins — such are explanatory constructs that are always of provisional character. Also, consensus of schools of experts dominated by ideological or worldview commitments can often be more driven by bias than by evidence, for example so-called methodological naturalism and its gerrymandering of definitions of science, also its methods and conclusions.

    So, we need to look at things on balance case by case instead of resorting to loaded blanket statements that tend to feed cherry picking and selective hyperskepticism.

    In the case of this thread, you first need to get to “I” on your worldview foundations.

    Second, the experience and testimony of millions on life-transforming encounter with God is not to be studiously ignored or swept away with a blanket dismissal that implies at best grand delusion. For that instantly undermines the credibility of mind, reasoning, ability to access real experience. For, there are no firewalls in our cognitive experience and faculties. Nor is imposition of selectively hyperskeptical shields against inconvenient bodies of testimony much of an improvement.

    So, it is quite clear that dismissive rhetoric above about God being a far fetched hypothesis is ill-founded and should be withdrawn.

    Ethical theism is long since generally known to be a serious, live option worldview and the tactic of trying to sweep it away with a clever, barbed dismissal speaks volumes; not in your favour.

    KF

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: More from Greenleaf, on responsible approaches to evidence; in his Testimony of the Evangelists:

    1] THE ANCIENT DOCUMENTS RULE: Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise. [p.16.]

    2] Conversance: In matters of public and general interest, all persons must be presumed to be conversant, on the principle that individuals are presumed to be conversant with their own affairs. [p. 17.]

    3] On Inquiries and Reports: If [a report] were “the result of inquiries, made under competent public authority, concerning matters in which the public are concerned” it would . . . be legally admissible . . . To entitle such results, however, to our full confidence, it is not necessary that they be obtained under a legal commission; it is sufficient if the inquiry is gravely undertaken and pursued, by a person of competent intelligence, sagacity and integrity. The request of a person in authority, or a desire to serve the public, are, to all moral intents, as sufficient a motive as a legal commission. [p. 25.]

    4] Probability of Truthfulness: In trials of fact, by oral testimony, the proper inquiry is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but whether there is a sufficient probability that it is true. [p. 28.]

    5] Criteria of Proof: A proposition of fact is proved, when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence. By competent evidence is meant such as the nature of the thing to be proved requires; and by satisfactory evidence is meant that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond any reasonable doubt. [pp. 28 – 9.]

    6] Credibility of Witnesses: In the absence of circumstances which generate suspicion, every witness is to be presumed credible, until the contrary is shown; the burden of impeaching his credibility lying on the objector. [p. 29]

    7] Credit due to testimony: The credit due to the testimony of witnesses depends upon, firstly, their honesty; secondly, their ability; thirdly, their number and the consistency of their testimony; fourthly, the conformity of their testimony with experience; and fifthly, the coincidence of their testimony with collateral circumstances. [p.31.]

    8] Ability of a Witness to speak truth: the ability of a witness to speak the truth depends on the opportunities which he has had for observing the facts, the accuracy of his powers of discerning, and the faithfulness of his memory in retaining the facts, once observed and known . . . It is always to be presumed that men are honest, and of sound mind, and of the average and ordinary degree of intelligence . . . Whenever an objection is raised in opposition to ordinary presumptions of law, or to the ordiary experience of mankind, the burden of proof is devolved on the objector. [pp. 33 – 4.]

    9] Internal coherence and external corroboration: Every event which actually transpires has its appropriate relation and place in the vast complication of circumstances, of which the affairs of men consist; it owes its origin to the events which have preceded it, it is intimately connected with all others which occur at the same time and place, and often with those of remote regions, and in its turn gives birth to numberless others which succeed. In all this almost inconceivable contexture, and seeming discord, there is perfect harmony; and while the fact, which really happened, tallies exactly with every other contemporaneous incident, related to it in the remotest degree, it is not possible for the wit of man to invent a story, which, if closely compared with the actual occurrences of the same time and place, may not be shown to be false. [p. 39.]

    10] Marks of false vs true testimony: a false witness will not willingly detail any circumstances in which his testimony will be open to contradiction, nor multiply them where there is a danger of his being detected by a comparison of them with other accounts, equally circumstantial . . . Therefore, it is, that variety and minuteness of detail are usually regarded as certain test[s] of sincerity, if the story, in the circumstances related, is of a nature capable of easy refutation, if it were false . . . . [False witnesses] are often copious and even profuse in their statements, as far as these may have been previously fabricated, and in relation to the principal matter; but beyond this, all will be reserved and meagre, from fear of detection . . . in the testimony of the true witness there is a visible and striking naturalness of manner, and an unaffected readiness and copiousness in the detail of circumstances, as well in one part of the narrative as another, and evidently without the least regard to the facility or difficulty of verification or detection . . . the increased number of witnesses to circumstances, and the increased number of circumstances themselves, all tend to increase the probability of detection if the witnesses are false . . . Thus the force of circumstantial evidence is found to depend on the number of particulars involved in the narrative; the difficulty of fabricating them all, if false, and the great facility of detection; the nature of the circumstances to be compared, and from which the dates and other facts to are be collected; the intricacy of the comparison; the number of intermediate steps in the process of deduction; and the circuity of the investigation. The more largely the narrative partake[s] of these characteristics, the further it will be found removed from all suspicion of contrivance or design, and the more profoundly the mind will rest in the conviction of its truth. [pp. 39 – 40.]

    11] Procedure: let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances.[p. 42.]

    Here, we supplement: J W Montgomery observes of the NT accounts — and following the McCloskey and Schoenberg framework for detecting perjury — that the modern approach to assessing quality of such testimony focusses on identifying internal and external defects in the testimony and the witness:

    (a) Internal defects in the witness himself refer to any personal characteristics or past history tending to show that the “witness is inherently untrustworthy, unreliable, or undependable.”

    (b) But perhaps the apostolic witnesses suffered from external defects, that is, “motives to falsify”?

    (c) Turning now to the testimony itself, we must ask if the New Testament writings are internally inconsistent or self-contradictory.

    (d) Finally, what about external defects in the testimony itself, i.e., inconsistencies between the New Testament accounts and what we know to be the case from archaeology or extra-biblical historical records?

    –> In each case, the answer is in favour of the quality of the NT, as can be observed here.

    12] The degree of coherence expected of true witnesses: substantial truth, under circumstantial variety. There is enough of discrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among them, and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they all were independent narrators of the same great transaction, as the events actually occurred. [p.34. All cites from The Testimony of the Evangelists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics, 1995).]

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, as an example of loaded strawman caricatures that go to character, look again at your remarks about “four good CHRISTIAN eyewitnesses” above. KF

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: One of the common skeptical tactics (and wider problems of exchanges) in discussion threads is to ignore and bury key points that are inconvenient in onward discussion of everything but those points.

    Which of the two is at work, we need not decide.

    It is enough to note that at 21 above, the issue of what is “far fetched” at world roots level was taken up and has been buried, unanswered.

    So, let us clip and look:

    as a start point, being. Candidates can be possible or impossible, the latter such that core characteristics stand in mutual contradiction so no such entity may exist in any possible world. Think square circles. Possible beings would exist in at least one possible world. Of such, contingent beings depend on on/off enabling causal factors that if off in a possible world would block the beginning or continuation of existence. Think, a fire i/l/o the fire tetrahedron used to fight such. Then conceive of beings with no such dependence on external enabling factors, i.e. there is no possible world in which they do not exist. For example try to see how a world could be without two-ness in it thus also the abstract contrast A vs ~A (which is foundational to rationality). That is necessary beings are root-level elements of the framework for a world to exist and no possible world can be without such. This addresses the “far fetched[ness]” of the concept, necessary being. Now contrast non-being, a genuine nothing. Such hath not causal capability and were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain — so much for the rhetorical trick of pulling a world out of a non-existent hat. Further to this the immediate consequence is, as a world manifestly is, SOMETHING ALWAYS WAS AT WORLD-ROOT LEVEL, a necessary being, root-cause of existence. The issue is, what is the best candidate. Especially in a world with morally governed, evidently responsibly and rationally substantially free beings — or else rational discussion evaporates.

    In short, we tend to be unfamiliar with the logic of being. Once this is focussed, things that on a superficial look seem outlandish can be seen to have a point.

    KF

    PS: Where this is going, is that we need to assess serious candidate necessary being roots of reality. In a world that includes credibly responsibly free and rational, morally and logically governed beings, that poses the question of adequacy. We need at root-level an IS capable of grounding OUGHT. After centuries of debate, one serious candidate exists: the inherently good creator God, a necessary, maximally great being worthy of loyalty and the responsible reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. If you doubt this, simply suggest and justify a case for another: _______ on comparative difficulties. Where, parodies like flying spaghetti monsters need not apply (starting with, composite constructed entities would be contingent). In short, it is plain that informed ethical theism is a responsible, rational worldview, not something to be skewered and dismissed with one liners about being “far-fetched.” That claim above needs to be withdrawn, explained as to how such a blunder arose and frankly apologised for.

  40. 40
    Origenes says:

    Pindi,
    I’m having trouble reconciling the following two statements of yours. Perhaps you can elucidate.

    #16: I just regard the God hypothesis as so far fetched as to not be worth spending too much time on.

    #22: … evidence of God … yes I really do think about a lot of these things. Deeply.

  41. 41
    Pindi says:

    Origines, maybe read more carefully. There is nothing contradictory in what I said.

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    This following recent video by Inspiring Philosophy is of related interest.

    Is Atheism a Delusion?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ii-bsrHB0o

    Short answer to the question “Is Atheism a Delusion?” Yes it is, and there are many studies backing up the claim that atheists, whether consciously or not, are actively suppressing their ‘natural’, non-delusional, belief in God.

  43. 43
    kairosfocus says:

    Pindi, something is deeply, tellingly wrong with your dismissive term, “far fetched.” This has been addressed above and you need to respond to it, on pain of some pretty sobering conclusions becoming warranted. KF

  44. 44

    rvb8 said:

    Yes WJM, testimony is a form of evidence.

    Good. Then we agree that there is evidence of god, because countless people have testified to having experienced a god of some sort throughout history.

    And when the testimony is rebutted by physical evidence, then those testifying are given one of two special english designations to describe them; they are liars,or they are dillusional.

    No, rvb8. They can also simply be mistaken. It is well known that two entirely honest and non-delusional witnesses can give contradictory eyewitness testimony; it is also well-known that expert witnesses can offer contradictory testimony. It happens all the time. They are not necessarily liars or delusional.

    As for the “physical evidence”, rvb8, any physical evidence brought before the jury is only connected to the crime via the testimony of witnesses.

    Pindi said:

    WJM, yes testimony can be evidence under strictly controlled conditions. Without those controls, testimony is highly unreliable.

    What strictly controlled circumstances? Before you answer, Pindi, I’d like you to carefully consider, in a self-critical way, how much of your life utterly depends on accepting and acting on the testimony of others. I’d like to challenge both you and rvb8 to stop defending the dismissal of such evidence for god as evidence for god, and instead take a critical view of your apparent attempts to dismiss and devalue such evidence as evidence.

    There are thousands of years of testimony from perhaps hundreds of millions or even billions of people that they have experienced a god of some sort. You may not find such testimony convincing, but that doesn’t mean it is not evidence at all. Even anecdotal evidence is still evidence, regardless of how much or how little weight one gives it. And, a thing can be evidence for two separate conclusions or propositions at the same time, so there being the possibility of “other explanations” doesn’t exclude a thing from also being evidence for the first explanation.

    Remember, this argument is about the claim that “there is no evidence of god”. The point is, of course there is. Even anti-theistic scientists have admitted such evidence exists (fine-tuning, biological design for a purpose) and have attempted to characterize that evidence as either illusionary or that some other non-purposeful agency was responsible for the apparent design.

    If one person (let alone billions) testifies about experience of god, that is evidence by definition. That’s not the issue; the issue is whether or not one one finds that evidence convincing.

    This is what is called a trivial fact. Testimony is a form of evidence. We rely on formal and informal testimony every day of our lives to make decisions both short term and long term. We have relied on it since we could understand language to form our views about the world about what is true and what is not true, what exists and what doesn’t exist.

    What it appears you two are doing (consciously or not) is attempting to define and characterize “evidence” in such a way that it can be used to exclude the evidence for god as evidence for god. You want to add disclaimers, conditions and modifiers that will separate testimony (and other evidences) for the existence of god from testimony and other evidences about other things.

    However, you cannot make such distinctions without running into logical problems about the way we all gather and use evidence about everything else in our lives.

  45. 45

    Pindi said:

    I just regard the God hypothesis as so far fetched as to not be worth spending too much time on.

    This brings to the fore something I was thinking about last night. I think that many atheists have this same perspective – that the idea of a god is so ridiculously absurd it doesn’t even warrant serious consideration. They are so certain that atheistic naturalism must be true that they spend little or no time either investigating theism in good faith or applying serious critical analysis to their views to see how they hold up.

    As a result, they have very little preparation when it comes to defending their views or being rationally critical of theism. IMO, such people comfort themselves by believing that surely many other very smart people have come to the same conclusion that they have and surely they have thought all this stuff out and surely they are better thinkers than theists. They think this relieves them of doing the self-critical work necessary to actually defend their own views.

    Which is why they come in here and assert such absurd, unsupportable universal claims of fact like “there is no evidence for god”.

  46. 46
    bornagain77 says:

    WJM, you’ve probably seen this before, but anyways for others, Darwin himself also tried to “characterize “evidence” in such a way that it can be used to exclude the evidence for god as evidence for god”:

    Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself – Nancy Pearcey – March 8, 2015
    Excerpt: Darwin’s Selective Skepticism
    People are sometimes under the impression that Darwin himself recognized the problem. They typically cite Darwin’s famous “horrid doubt” passage where he questions whether the human mind can be trustworthy if it is a product of evolution: “With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”
    But, of course, Darwin’s theory itself was a “conviction of man’s mind.” So why should it be “at all trustworthy”?
    Surprisingly, however, Darwin never confronted this internal contradiction in his theory. Why not? Because he expressed his “horrid doubt” selectively — only when considering the case for a Creator.
    From time to time, Darwin admitted that he still found the idea of God persuasive. He once confessed his “inward conviction … that the Universe is not the result of chance.” It was in the next sentence that he expressed his “horrid doubt.” So the “conviction” he mistrusted was his lingering conviction that the universe is not the result of chance.
    In another passage Darwin admitted, “I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man.” Again, however, he immediately veered off into skepticism: “But then arises the doubt — can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?”
    That is, can it be trusted when it draws “grand conclusions” about a First Cause? Perhaps the concept of God is merely an instinct programmed into us by natural selection, Darwin added, like a monkey’s “instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.”
    In short, it was on occasions when Darwin’s mind led him to a theistic conclusion that he dismissed the mind as untrustworthy. He failed to recognize that, to be logically consistent, he needed to apply the same skepticism to his own theory.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94171.html

    Nancy Pearcey – How Darwin’s Theory Undercuts Itself – audio/video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1125689630777302/

    “An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.
    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.
    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?
    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.”
    – Nancy Pearcey – Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself – March 2015
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94171.html

    Darwinian evolution, and atheism/naturalism in general, are built entirely upon a framework of illusions and fantasy – July 2016
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Q94y-QgZZGF0Q7HdcE-qdFcVGErhWxsVKP7GOmpKD6o/edit

  47. 47

    So, the point here is: intellectually honest people admit there is evidence of some sort of god, but that they find that evidence unconvincing. They don’t try to assert special case conditions, caveats, disclaimers and modifiers so that they can dismiss the evidence for god as evidence for god. That would be intellectually dishonest.

    I admit there is evidence of all sorts of things; that doesn’t in any way mean those things are proven to exist (or to be true) or that any reasonable person should accept that evidence as convincing.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM,

    one of the problems here is, it seems the idea is that if X is regarded as evidence pointing to God then if one can somehow come up with some other explanation that is more comfortable (especially one that can be dressed up in a lab coat) — regardless of how far fetched it would be on common sense — then the existence of such a hypothesis AUTOMATICALLY discounts any tendency of evidence to point to God.

    The underlying failures of reason are manifold.

    First, clever people can come up with all sorts of hypotheses. Once something like methodological naturalism or scientism or selective hyperskepticism is allowed in the door, that then reduces this strategy to question-begging in a lab coat or the like.

    Next, it ignores the issues of inference to the best current explanation, the inherent provisionality of inductive reasoning, and the need for sober comparative difficulties. In short this is a rhetorical defense mechanism (or a club to beat down those one does not agree with) not a serious approach to warrant.

    Also, it injects double standards of warrant, closing minds. In effect, unless there is an utter breakdown, there is no open-minded investigation of truth. Prestige of Science is being abused.

    Further, double standards of warrant are inherently incoherent.

    Then, when we deal with cases where the implication of one’s view is general delusion, that is even more manifestly incoherence at work. This is part of why I have stressed the need to get to a credible “I” who can responsibly and logically reason.

    We should not discount the temptation to contempt for the other.

    More can be said, but the dynamics of self-reinforcing, polarising error are already evident.

    In this thread, the dismissal that there is >no evidence” for God is a clear sign; never mind the pull-back into a more subtle form here because it was effectively challenged. So is the talking point that the reality of God is so “far fetched” that one needs not take it seriously.

    (In that context it is take-it-to-the-bank obvious the thought on God that has been looked at is in the main arguments against God. That such arguments are characteristically surprisingly weak and have serious counters, alongside of there being a powerful inductive, cumulative worldview level case for God most likely has not been given a sober hearing. For just one example the argument against God on evil more than meets its match when confronted with the reality and desirability of good and virtue, which points to the need for responsible, rational freedom in order to create a new order of the good. Which then necessarily entails the possibility of evils and vices etc. And in this context, it is possible to show that the existence of evil is consistent with the reality of God.)

    It seems a re-thinking is indicated.

    KF

  49. 49
    Seversky says:

    As WJM points out, there is evidence for God in much the same way as there is evidence for the Dark Lord Sauron or Darth Vader or the Starship Enterprise. Whether such evidence is sufficient to compel belief in the existence of such beings is for each person to decide. For atheists it is not sufficient, for believers, it is. Unless, I suppose, the question of God’s existence arose out of a legal case as in the fictional movie “The Man Who Sued God”.

    Contra WJM, atheism, in the sense of not believing in the existence of a god rather than positively denying it, is a perfectly rational position concerning the existence of God or gods. Put simply, it would be irrational to believe in the existence of something for which there is insufficient reason or evidence. I’m sure that he, like most other people, is atheist with respect to the vast majority of deities in which human beings have believed over the millennia for that reason. Is that also an irrational position?

    The phenomena that HeKS cites as evidence for God are, in themselves, observational data about the Universe. They raise perfectly reasonable questions about what caused them but they only become evidence in the context of an hypothesis or theory or other explanatory framework. A God who can do anything is not an explanatory framework in that sense.

    For example, take the largely apocryphal story about Isaac Newton being inspired to formulate a theory of gravity by an apple falling on his head. Apples falling to the ground when they detach from the branches from which they were hanging is a widely-observed phenomenon. If you formulate an hypothesis that the falling is due to an invisible force that operates between all massive objects, then all those observations become evidence for that explanation On the other hand, citing God as the ultimate cause of all such phenomena is not an explanation in that sense. It is a claim about ‘who’, rather than a tentative explanation of ‘how’, which is what is expected of science.

  50. 50
    bornagain77 says:

    “the largely apocryphal story about Isaac Newton being inspired to formulate a theory of gravity by an apple falling on his head.”

    A Professor’s Journey out of Nihilism: Why I am not an Atheist – University of Wyoming – J. Budziszewski
    Excerpt page12: “There were two great holes in the argument about the irrelevance of God. The first is that in order to attack free will, I supposed that I understood cause and effect; I supposed causation to be less mysterious than volition.
    If anything, it is the other way around. I can perceive a logical connection between premises and valid conclusions. I can perceive at least a rational connection between my willing to do something and my doing it. But between the apple and the earth, I can perceive no connection at all. Why does the apple fall? We don’t know. “But there is gravity,” you say. No, “gravity” is merely the name of the phenomenon, not its explanation. “But there are laws of gravity,” you say. No, the “laws” are not its explanation either; they are merely a more precise description of the thing to be explained, which remains as mysterious as before. For just this reason, philosophers of science are shy of the term “laws”; they prefer “lawlike regularities.” To call the equations of gravity “laws” and speak of the apple as “obeying” them is to speak as though, like the traffic laws, the “laws” of gravity are addressed to rational agents capable of conforming their wills to the command. This is cheating, because it makes mechanical causality (the more opaque of the two phenomena) seem like volition (the less). In my own way of thinking the cheating was even graver, because I attacked the less opaque in the name of the more.
    The other hole in my reasoning was cruder. If my imprisonment in a blind causality made my reasoning so unreliable that I couldn’t trust my beliefs, then by the same token I shouldn’t have trusted my beliefs about imprisonment in a blind causality. But in that case I had no business denying free will in the first place.”
    http://www.undergroundthomist......theist.pdf
    A Professor’s Journey out of Nihilism: Why I am not an Atheist – 2012 lecture
    University of Wyoming J. Budziszewski – above quote taken at the 34:30 minute mark
    http://veritas.org/talks/profe.....er_id=2231

    Agent Causality (of Theists) vs. Blind Causality (of Atheists) – video
    https://youtu.be/7pnnT0QvWr4

    “In materialism all elements behave the same. It is mysterious to think of them as spread out and automatically united. For something to be a whole, it has to have an additional object, say, a soul or a mind.”
    Kurt Gödel – Hao Wang’s supplemental biography of Gödel, A Logical Journey, MIT Press, 1996. [9.4.12]

    “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;,,
    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;,,, The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect;,,, 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”:
    Sir Isaac Newton – Quoted from what many consider the greatest science masterpiece of all time, his book “Principia”

    NEWTON’S REJECTION OF THE “NEWTONIAN WORLD VIEW”: THE ROLE OF DIVINE WILL IN NEWTON’S NATURAL PHILOSOPHY
    Abstract: The significance of Isaac Newton for the history of Christianity and science is undeniable: his professional work culminated the Scientific Revolution that saw the birth of modern science, while his private writings evidence a lifelong interest in the relationship between God and the world. Yet the typical picture of Newton as a paragon of Enlightenment deism, endorsing the idea of a remote divine clockmaker and the separation of science from religion, is badly mistaken. In fact Newton rejected both the clockwork metaphor itself and the cold mechanical universe upon which it is based. His conception of the world reflects rather a deep commitment to the constant activity of the divine will, unencumbered by the “rational” restrictions that Descartes and Leibniz placed on God, the very sorts of restrictions that later appealed to the deists of the 18th century.
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/newton.htm

    The War against the War Between Science and Faith Revisited – July 2010
    Excerpt: …as Whitehead pointed out, it is no coincidence that science sprang, not from Ionian metaphysics, not from the Brahmin-Buddhist-Taoist East, not from the Egyptian-Mayan astrological South, but from the heart of the Christian West, that although Galileo fell out with the Church, he would hardly have taken so much trouble studying Jupiter and dropping objects from towers if the reality and value and order of things had not first been conferred by belief in the Incarnation. (Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos),,,
    Jaki notes that before Christ the Jews never formed a very large community (priv. comm.). In later times, the Jews lacked the Christian notion that Jesus was the monogenes or unigenitus, the only-begotten of God. Pantheists like the Greeks tended to identify the monogenes or unigenitus with the universe itself, or with the heavens. Jaki writes: Herein lies the tremendous difference between Christian monotheism on the one hand and Jewish and Muslim monotheism on the other. This explains also the fact that it is almost natural for a Jewish or Muslim intellectual to become a pantheist. About the former Spinoza and Einstein are well-known examples. As to the Muslims, it should be enough to think of the Averroists. With this in mind one can also hope to understand why the Muslims, who for five hundred years had studied Aristotle’s works and produced many commentaries on them failed to make a breakthrough. The latter came in medieval Christian context and just about within a hundred years from the availability of Aristotle’s works in Latin,,
    If science suffered only stillbirths in ancient cultures, how did it come to its unique viable birth? The beginning of science as a fully fledged enterprise took place in relation to two important definitions of the Magisterium of the Church. The first was the definition at the Fourth Lateran Council in the year 1215, that the universe was created out of nothing at the beginning of time. The second magisterial statement was at the local level, enunciated by Bishop Stephen Tempier of Paris who, on March 7, 1277, condemned 219 Aristotelian propositions, so outlawing the deterministic and necessitarian views of creation.
    These statements of the teaching authority of the Church expressed an atmosphere in which faith in God had penetrated the medieval culture and given rise to philosophical consequences. The cosmos was seen as contingent in its existence and thus dependent on a divine choice which called it into being; the universe is also contingent in its nature and so God was free to create this particular form of world among an infinity of other possibilities. Thus the cosmos cannot be a necessary form of existence; and so it has to be approached by a posteriori investigation. The universe is also rational and so a coherent discourse can be made about it. Indeed the contingency and rationality of the cosmos are like two pillars supporting the Christian vision of the cosmos.
    http://www.scifiwright.com/201.....revisited/

  51. 51
    Autodidaktos says:

    … Evidently I’m late to the party. Anyway, let me add my own two cents. Theism, or at least classical theism is not a scientific hypothesis, such that there can be any evidence that can show CT to be more likely than atheism. This is because scientific evidence is drawn from observing the particular effects of a postulated cause; for example, the postulate that space-traveling aliens exist would be supported by reliably documented sightings of UFOs or finding remnants of UFO crashes. But given that God by definition is the cause of all of contingent reality, there can be no particular evidence as such, for the universe itself is that evidence. Of course, this depends upon demonstrating the necessary truth of the principle of causality, which can be easily done as follows:

    1. Premise: For every being ‘x’ there is some principle ‘y’ that differentiates it from non-being.
    2. If false, then:
    3. For every being ‘x’ there is not some principle ‘y’ that differentiates it from non-being.
    4. If the premise is false, then there is some being ‘x’ that is indistinguishable from non-being.
    5. But, a being cannot both be and not be at the same time in the same manner.
    6. Therefore, there must be some principle ‘y’ that differentiates beings from non-being.
    7. Now, the principle that differentiates being from non-being must needs be a principle that causes the existence of beings
    8. But, any principle that differentiates being from non-being must be that which accounts for the existence of a being, i.e., the principle of causality.

  52. 52
    Autodidaktos says:

    Seversky said:
    “I’m sure that he, like most other people, is atheist with respect to the vast majority of deities in which human beings have believed over the millennia for that reason. Is that also an irrational position?”

    Classical theism is the thesis that there is a necessarily existent ultimate reality which is simple (i.e., without any composition), immaterial (not spatially extended, immutable, timeless, omnipotent, and because it is immaterial, is analogous to a mind, and freely maintains all of contingent reality in existence. This view is shared by Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and many Greeks of late antiquity, following the classical arguments for God’s existence laid out by Aristotle and Plotinus. This thesis is obviously different from belief in Zeus or Marduk or Quetzalcoatl, insofar as the latter are themselves contingent beings. Nevertheless, those who do not believe in the gods of paganism are not atheists with respect to them, no more than Republicans or Democratsare anarchists with respect to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump respectively.

    Nevertheless, this irrational canard, viz., “I believe in one less god than you” refuses to die out.

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky

    As WJM points out, there is evidence for God in much the same way as there is evidence for the Dark Lord Sauron or Darth Vader or the Starship Enterprise.

    In effect your declaration is that evidence of God is equivalent to that for modern Fantasy fiction. Such snide dismissiveness is utterly revealing of failure to actually do an actual assessment of the evidence we have.

    As a start, I again point out that the simple fact of my presence here is as a result of a miracle of guidance in answer to prayer. Sauron, Darth Vader and Mr Spock are not able to deliver on such.

    Likewise, millions have direct experience of the life-transforming action of God in their lives through the gospel. Sufficiently so that if we are all in error or delusional, that would bring the rational capability of the human mind to contact reality into question. Which would let grand delusion loose and would undermine having a discussion to begin with. But then, that is a characteristic problem of evolutionary materialism. (Hence my challenge to Pindi above to first get to a coherent “I” rooted in that worldview as a basis for further discussion.

    I think a second line of discussion pivots on being and the root of reality:

    as a start point, being. Candidates can be possible or impossible, the latter such that core characteristics stand in mutual contradiction so no such entity may exist in any possible world. Think square circles. Possible beings would exist in at least one possible world. Of such, contingent beings depend on on/off enabling causal factors that if off in a possible world would block the beginning or continuation of existence. Think, a fire i/l/o the fire tetrahedron used to fight such. Then conceive of beings with no such dependence on external enabling factors, i.e. there is no possible world in which they do not exist. For example try to see how a world could be without two-ness in it thus also the abstract contrast A vs ~A (which is foundational to rationality). That is necessary beings are root-level elements of the framework for a world to exist and no possible world can be without such. This addresses the “far fetched[ness]” of the concept, necessary being. Now contrast non-being, a genuine nothing. Such hath not causal capability and were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain — so much for the rhetorical trick of pulling a world out of a non-existent hat. Further to this the immediate consequence is, as a world manifestly is, SOMETHING ALWAYS WAS AT WORLD-ROOT LEVEL, a necessary being, root-cause of existence. The issue is, what is the best candidate. Especially in a world with morally governed, evidently responsibly and rationally substantially free beings — or else rational discussion evaporates.

    This puts on the table the issue of serious candidates to be that root of reality. And it immediately, decisively puts the God of ethical theism in so vastly different a category from known works of fiction that your remarks as cited work rather to reveal a lack of seriousness on your part. Indeed, it suggests, frankly, that — despite readily accessible serious evidence to the contrary — you wish it to be so that God is fiction.

    I note, from my comment to WJM:

    clever people can come up with all sorts of hypotheses. Once something like methodological naturalism or scientism or selective hyperskepticism is allowed in the door, that then reduces this strategy to question-begging in a lab coat or the like.

    Next, it ignores the issues of inference to the best current explanation, the inherent provisionality of inductive reasoning, and the need for sober comparative difficulties. In short this is a rhetorical defense mechanism (or a club to beat down those one does not agree with) not a serious approach to warrant.

    Also, it injects double standards of warrant, closing minds. In effect, unless there is an utter breakdown, there is no open-minded investigation of truth. Prestige of Science is being abused.

    Further, double standards of warrant are inherently incoherent.

    Then, when we deal with cases where the implication of one’s view is general delusion, that is even more manifestly incoherence at work. This is part of why I have stressed the need to get to a credible “I” who can responsibly and logically reason.

    We should not discount the temptation to contempt for the other . . .

    On pain of the collapse of reasoned discourse, we are responsibly, rationally free beings, demanding that the world-root being be able to ground ought.

    Where this is going, is that we need to assess serious candidate necessary being roots of reality. In a world that includes credibly responsibly free and rational, morally and logically governed beings, that poses the question of adequacy. We need at root-level an IS capable of grounding OUGHT. After centuries of debate, one serious candidate exists: the inherently good creator God, a necessary, maximally great being worthy of loyalty and the responsible reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. If you doubt this, simply suggest and justify a case for another: _______ on comparative difficulties.

    Where, parodies like flying spaghetti monsters need not apply (starting with, composite constructed entities would be contingent). In short, it is plain that informed ethical theism is a responsible, rational worldview, not something to be skewered and dismissed with one liners about comparing evidence for the reality of God to fictional characters.

    Where, AD just above is manifestly right on the whole:

    Classical theism is the thesis that there is a necessarily existent ultimate reality which is simple (i.e., without any composition), immaterial (not spatially extended, immutable, timeless, omnipotent, and because it is immaterial, is analogous to a mind, and freely maintains all of contingent reality in existence. This view is shared by Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and many Greeks of late antiquity, following the classical arguments for God’s existence laid out by Aristotle and Plotinus. This thesis is obviously different from belief in Zeus or Marduk or Quetzalcoatl, insofar as the latter are themselves contingent beings. Nevertheless, those who do not believe in the gods of paganism are not atheists with respect to them, no more than Republicans or Democratsare anarchists with respect to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump respectively.

    And that is before we get to the evidential basis of the gospel and its positive, life transforming impact for 2000 years.

    The time for a serious rethinking has come.

    KF

  54. 54
    HeKS says:

    Autodidaktos

    Nevertheless, those who do not believe in the gods of paganism are not atheists with respect to them, no more than Republicans or Democratsare anarchists with respect to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump respectively.

    Exactly. Atheism is an ISM, which is a positive assertion or doctrine. The “A” is a negation (negation is a positive assertion), but not a negation of “theism”, per se, but a negation of Greek “theos”, which is “god”. It is “negation of god” ISM, or, more simply, “No-God(s)-ISM”. As such, you cannot be an atheist with respect to any particular god. You can only be an atheist if you positively deny the existence of any and all gods. That’s what the word actually means. The claim that atheism is merely a “lack of belief” is rhetorical strategy intended to displace any burden of proof when challenged. There is no such thing as an ISM that is devoid of content. Unfortunately, many atheists themselves have been taken in by the strategy and actually think they can claim to be atheists, deride theists and theism as stupid, and then claim they only lack belief when challenged and so don’t need to positively support their position or their derision.

  55. 55
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @35 “Who did I misrepresent scuzzaman?”

    Me. I did not denigrate you.

  56. 56
    Autodidaktos says:

    And now that we have proven the principle of causality, the existence of God necessarily follows, as is demonstrated here:

    http://www.magiscenter.com/pdf.....of_God.pdf

    Or here:

    http://rocketphilosophy.blogsp.....gical.html

  57. 57
    daveS says:

    Autodidaktos,

    1. Premise: For every being ‘x’ there is some principle ‘y’ that differentiates it from non-being.
    2. If false, then:
    3. For every being ‘x’ there is not some principle ‘y’ that differentiates it from non-being.
    4. If the premise is false, then there is some being ‘x’ that is indistinguishable from non-being.
    5. But, a being cannot both be and not be at the same time in the same manner.
    6. Therefore, there must be some principle ‘y’ that differentiates beings from non-being.
    7. Now, the principle that differentiates being from non-being must needs be a principle that causes the existence of beings
    8. But, any principle that differentiates being from non-being must be that which accounts for the existence of a being, i.e., the principle of causality.

    Is this your own proof?

    May I ask what your definition of “principle of causality” is?

    One nitpick: I think #3 should be rephrased with an existential quantifier, to make it consistent with #4.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, it rather looks like statement 8 gives the relevant definition in context. KF

  59. 59
    kairosfocus says:

    AD, I suggest that necessary being — cf above — should be accounted for; not everything is caused. It seems there is a sufficient principle of distinction, y, which in some cases y1 is causal, in others y2 necessity of being connected to the framework for existence of a possible world. KF

  60. 60
    Origenes says:

    Bornagain77 @ 46,

    Thank you for quoting Nancey Pearcey on Darwin’s selective use of his “horrid doubt” — only when considering the case for a Creator. Below the original text by Darwin.
    Mr. Barry Arrington, if you happen to read this post, I recommend it for a post titled “Gobsmackingly Stupid Things Materialists Say, Entry 7,688”.

    Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason, and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the ‘Origin of Species;’ and it is since that time that it has very gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker. But then arises the doubt;– can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience? Nor must we overlook the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the minds of children producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect on their brains not fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God, as for the monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.

    I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.
    [Charles Darwin]

  61. 61
    Pindi says:

    Wjm @44

    It depends on your definition of evidence. If you adopt the legal standard then no, it’s not all evidence. Something is only admitted as evidence if it meets the rules. For example, and with some exceptions, hearsay is not admitted as evidence.

  62. 62
    Pindi says:

    Scuzzaman,

    “I certainly would not want such a confused person representing me in a law court”.

    What is the point of this statement. I have not suggested that I would want to represent you. Based on a few lines I have written in a blog you are asserting that I am incompetent at my job. It’s a non sequitur aimed at denigrating me.

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 1: The Dictionary test —

    ev·i·dence (?v??-d?ns)
    n.
    1.
    a. A thing or set of things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment: The broken window was evidence that a burglary had taken place. Scientists weighed the evidence for and against the hypothesis.
    b. Something indicative; an indication or set of indications: saw no evidence of grief on the mourner’s face.
    2. Law
    a. The means by which an allegation may be proven, such as oral testimony, documents, or physical objects.
    b. The set of legal rules determining what testimony, documents, and objects may be admitted as proof in a trial.
    tr.v. ev·i·denced, ev·i·denc·ing, ev·i·denc·es
    To indicate clearly; exemplify or prove: Her curiosity is evidenced by the number of books she owns.
    Idiom:
    in evidence
    1. Plainly visible; to be seen: It was early, and few pedestrians were in evidence on the city streets.
    2. Law As legal evidence: submitted the photograph in evidence.
    [Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin ?videntia, from Latin ?vid?ns, ?vident-, obvious; see evident.]
    American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

    KF

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2, Greenleaf having been studiously ignored and conveniently buried above, let me again clip, from his foundational treatise on evidence (which very much gives a legal point of reference):

    Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [–> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction. [–> that is, his focus is on the logic of good support for in principle uncertain conclusions, i.e. in the modern sense, inductive logic and reasoning in real world, momentous contexts with potentially serious consequences.]

    Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd. [–> the issue of warrant to moral certainty, beyond reasonable doubt; and the contrasted absurdity of selective hyperskepticism.]

    The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them. [–> moral certainty standard, and this is for the proverbial man in the Clapham bus stop, not some clever determined advocate or skeptic motivated not to see or assent to what is warranted.]

    The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved. [–> pistis enters; we might as well learn the underlying classical Greek word that addresses the three levers of persuasion, pathos- ethos- logos and its extension to address worldview level warranted faith-commitment and confident trust on good grounding, through the impact of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in C1 as was energised by the 500 key witnesses.]

    By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind [–> in British usage, the man in the Clapham bus stop], beyond reasonable doubt.

    The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal [–> and responsible] test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest. [= definition of moral certainty as a balanced unprejudiced judgement beyond reasonable, responsible doubt. Obviously, i/l/o wider concerns, while scientific facts as actually observed may meet this standard, scientific explanatory frameworks such as hypotheses, models, laws and theories cannot as they are necessarily provisional and in many cases have had to be materially modified, substantially re-interpreted to the point of implied modification, or outright replaced; so a modicum of prudent caution is warranted in such contexts — explanatory frameworks are empirically reliable so far on various tests, not utterly certain. ] [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]

    It is quite clear that the real issue is the standard of warrant to be acknowledged in the face of the self-referential incoherence of selective hyperskepticism. Where also while scientific facts of observation may be morally certain, no scientific theory can rise to that standard given the problem of affirming the consequent and the pessimistic induction on theory succession across time. Theories at their best are empirically reliable in a tested range and are held i/l/o confidence in there being a generally orderly and at least partially intelligible world.

    The testimony of eyewitnesses is evidence, period. Record that is fair on the face and from reasonable chain of custody is evidence.

    Reasoned argument to build up a cumulative worldviews case on good facts and careful comparative difficulties is evidence.

    It is decisive evidence against a claim that it implies self referential incoherence. Especially in the form grand delusion that undermines responsible rational freedom, logical inference and knowledge.

    This last is patently a major problem for evolutionary materialistic scientism and fellow travellers, in many ways. I cite an example from Reppert:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    It is noteworthy how we keep on seeing the dodging of the comparative difficulties challenge and successive resort to various forms of selective hyperskepticism on the part of atheism supporters.

    KF

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 3: Greenleaf in Testimony of the Evangelists — buried without response above also:

    1] THE ANCIENT DOCUMENTS RULE: Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise. [p.16.]

    2] Conversance: In matters of public and general interest, all persons must be presumed to be conversant, on the principle that individuals are presumed to be conversant with their own affairs. [p. 17.]

    3] On Inquiries and Reports: If [a report] were “the result of inquiries, made under competent public authority, concerning matters in which the public are concerned” it would . . . be legally admissible . . . To entitle such results, however, to our full confidence, it is not necessary that they be obtained under a legal commission; it is sufficient if the inquiry is gravely undertaken and pursued, by a person of competent intelligence, sagacity and integrity. The request of a person in authority, or a desire to serve the public, are, to all moral intents, as sufficient a motive as a legal commission. [p. 25.]

    4] Probability of Truthfulness: In trials of fact, by oral testimony, the proper inquiry is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but whether there is a sufficient probability that it is true. [p. 28.]

    5] Criteria of Proof: A proposition of fact is proved, when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence. By competent evidence is meant such as the nature of the thing to be proved requires; and by satisfactory evidence is meant that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond any reasonable doubt. [pp. 28 – 9.]

    6] Credibility of Witnesses: In the absence of circumstances which generate suspicion, every witness is to be presumed credible, until the contrary is shown; the burden of impeaching his credibility lying on the objector. [p. 29]

    7] Credit due to testimony: The credit due to the testimony of witnesses depends upon, firstly, their honesty; secondly, their ability; thirdly, their number and the consistency of their testimony; fourthly, the conformity of their testimony with experience; and fifthly, the coincidence of their testimony with collateral circumstances. [p.31.]

    8] Ability of a Witness to speak truth: the ability of a witness to speak the truth depends on the opportunities which he has had for observing the facts, the accuracy of his powers of discerning, and the faithfulness of his memory in retaining the facts, once observed and known . . . It is always to be presumed that men are honest, and of sound mind, and of the average and ordinary degree of intelligence . . . Whenever an objection is raised in opposition to ordinary presumptions of law, or to the ordiary experience of mankind, the burden of proof is devolved on the objector. [pp. 33 – 4.]

    9] Internal coherence and external corroboration: Every event which actually transpires has its appropriate relation and place in the vast complication of circumstances, of which the affairs of men consist; it owes its origin to the events which have preceded it, it is intimately connected with all others which occur at the same time and place, and often with those of remote regions, and in its turn gives birth to numberless others which succeed. In all this almost inconceivable contexture, and seeming discord, there is perfect harmony; and while the fact, which really happened, tallies exactly with every other contemporaneous incident, related to it in the remotest degree, it is not possible for the wit of man to invent a story, which, if closely compared with the actual occurrences of the same time and place, may not be shown to be false. [p. 39.]

    10] Marks of false vs true testimony: a false witness will not willingly detail any circumstances in which his testimony will be open to contradiction, nor multiply them where there is a danger of his being detected by a comparison of them with other accounts, equally circumstantial . . . Therefore, it is, that variety and minuteness of detail are usually regarded as certain test[s] of sincerity, if the story, in the circumstances related, is of a nature capable of easy refutation, if it were false . . . . [False witnesses] are often copious and even profuse in their statements, as far as these may have been previously fabricated, and in relation to the principal matter; but beyond this, all will be reserved and meagre, from fear of detection . . . in the testimony of the true witness there is a visible and striking naturalness of manner, and an unaffected readiness and copiousness in the detail of circumstances, as well in one part of the narrative as another, and evidently without the least regard to the facility or difficulty of verification or detection . . . the increased number of witnesses to circumstances, and the increased number of circumstances themselves, all tend to increase the probability of detection if the witnesses are false . . . Thus the force of circumstantial evidence is found to depend on the number of particulars involved in the narrative; the difficulty of fabricating them all, if false, and the great facility of detection; the nature of the circumstances to be compared, and from which the dates and other facts to are be collected; the intricacy of the comparison; the number of intermediate steps in the process of deduction; and the circuity of the investigation. The more largely the narrative partake[s] of these characteristics, the further it will be found removed from all suspicion of contrivance or design, and the more profoundly the mind will rest in the conviction of its truth. [pp. 39 – 40.]

    11] Procedure: let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances.[p. 42.]

    Here, we supplement: J W Montgomery observes of the NT accounts — and following the McCloskey and Schoenberg framework for detecting perjury — that the modern approach to assessing quality of such testimony focusses on identifying internal and external defects in the testimony and the witness:

    (a) Internal defects in the witness himself refer to any personal characteristics or past history tending to show that the “witness is inherently untrustworthy, unreliable, or undependable.”

    (b) But perhaps the apostolic witnesses suffered from external defects, that is, “motives to falsify”?

    (c) Turning now to the testimony itself, we must ask if the New Testament writings are internally inconsistent or self-contradictory.

    (d) Finally, what about external defects in the testimony itself, i.e., inconsistencies between the New Testament accounts and what we know to be the case from archaeology or extra-biblical historical records?

    –> In each case, the answer is in favour of the quality of the NT, as can be observed here.

    12] The degree of coherence expected of true witnesses: substantial truth, under circumstantial variety. There is enough of discrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among them, and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they all were independent narrators of the same great transaction, as the events actually occurred. [p.34. All cites from The Testimony of the Evangelists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics, 1995).]

    All of this is of course relevant to evidence and to responsiveness to evidence under the moral government of truth and right.

    KF

  66. 66
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines & BA7, a poster child level example of selective hyperskepticism in the teeth of direct evidence of the self referential incoherence of darwinism once the origin of mind is on the table. And from Darwin himself, so it is hard to suggest this was not known about. It would be interesting to see how the objectors in-thread and in the penumbra of attack sites deal with Darwin himself as an example of the self referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers. My bet, studious ignoring and/or deflecting. KF

  67. 67
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, it rather looks like statement 8 gives the relevant definition in context. KF

    Thanks, however I wouldn’t mind seeing a standalone formulation of the principle if Autodidaktos is willing to oblige.

  68. 68
    rvb8 says:

    “..a poster child level example of selective hyperskepticism in the teeth of direct evidence of self referential incoherence of darwinism once origin of mind is on the table.”

    Wow! Perhaps a ‘poster child’ for the kind of almost indicipherable twaddle I loath, which seems to be the main stay of ‘Kairos & Co’.
    Do you mean, ‘the other people are wrong because they can’t explain the origins of self awareness?’
    We can! The mind is a product of eating the right food, and surviving. It is nourished by human contact, and blossoms with human contact. The mind shrivels if denied human contact, and when the physical body expires, the human mind ceases to be.
    The connection between the human mind and its physical home, the brain, is demonstrable when you introduce foreign chemicals, which interfere with the natural, evolved function of the human brain; to keep the human away from harm and alive. These chemicals include alcohol!
    “I’m sorry your Honour, I was not myself, I was drunk!”
    Hmmm, not an uncommon, but certainly a bad defense.
    Basically the defendent is saying, ‘while drunk I was not Robert van Bakel your Honour, I was Maurice Dublay Ontondra, and have no idea what became of Robert, I am guiltless, as my MIND, did not know it was my MIND engaged in this crime! My MIND was elsewhere at the time of drunkeness! Heh:)

  69. 69
    Autodidaktos says:

    daveS @ 57,

    I’m afraid the proof I’ve supplied is but a paraphrase of the proof for the Scholastic PSR given by French philosopher and Dominican friar Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., in his work ‘God: His Existence and His Nature, A Thomistic Response to Certain Agnostic Antinomies’. Also, #8 should have read ‘the principle of sufficient reason’ instead of ‘the principle of causality’, thank you for pointing that out, kairosfocus.

    I would define the principle of causality this way:
    For any object X such that it is contingent, there is at least one object Y such that X exists by virtue of Y and X and Y are not identical. Y is thus a cause of X.

  70. 70
    Autodidaktos says:

    Following daveS’recommendation, I emend the argument I wrote:

    3: It is not the case that for every being ‘x’. there is some principle ‘y’that differentiates it from non-being.

    Though this uses the negation of the universal quantifier.

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8,

    Sadly predictable.

    Dismissive deflection, driven by scientism and selective hyperskepticism.

    The issue for instance is not whether drugs influence our mental behaviour (which no one has disputed), but what Darwin actually said about the issue of the ability of a jumped up monkey mind to form credible knowledge, especially as such addresses the abstract domain of logical framing of thought.

    (I will simply note the typical deflective tactic of trying to project to that despised IDiot on a blog somewhere on the Internet, an issue put on the table by Darwin which requires serious thought; where even Darwin tried to exert a double-standard in favour of “scientific” thought by trying to confine his argument to the issue of the reality of God as designer. That is, the selective hyperskepticism and scientism are there right from the founding era of Darwinism. Fail, both now and from the early days of Darwinism.)

    Let us refocus on the clip Origines highlighted at 60 above, building on BA77’s earlier clip from Nancy Pearcey:

    Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason, and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the ‘Origin of Species;’ and it is since that time that it has very gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker. But then arises the doubt;– can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience? Nor must we overlook the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the minds of children producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect on their brains not fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God, as for the monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.

    I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.

    See the deflection and double-standard of reasoning?

    First, if there i a mistrust of abstract thought, Science is founded on abstract thought. Especially Origins Science, where we try to understand the remote, unobserved, unrepeatable past. Where, we are well advised to appreciate that we are forming frames of explanation that are just as abstractly tied to the unobserved as we do when we speculate about the invisible God. Scientism fails yet again as a reasonable demarcation line between reliable and unreliable knowledge, as science must rely on abstract logical inferences drawn from the context of observations to construct explanations and to argue that observed evidence supports the explanations.

    Yes, we do try to exert empirical controls, observing traces of the past in the present which we then try to infer the best, empirically grounded explanation of. But that is equally a case of inference to best unobserved explanation as the sort of reasoning about God from traces in the order of the world that Darwin is projecting doubts upon.

    Worse, he and too many since, play fast and loose with Newton’s vera causa principle, that when we seek to explain the remote past or distant reaches or the like, we should confine explanatory constructs based on what we can and do observe as having capability to cause the like effects as the traces we are seeing.

    As a capital example, functionally specific complex and often fine tuned organisation and associated information has just one actually observed, “true cause.” On trillions of cases in point, intelligently directed configuration.

    For, it has NEVER been observed that a stew of chemicals in a pond or comet etc can and does begin to self-assemble towards a living cell. Nor, that blind incremental vaiations and differential reproductive success leading to descent with modification can and does lead to novel body plan features. Finch beak variations do not provide an adequate empirical base to explain the arrival of finches, birds, vertebrates etc. And the injection of so called methodological naturalism as a censoring constraint to lock out the only thing that is actually observed to create the required complex, functionally specific organisation, intelligently directed configuration, is an obvious case of ideological censorship.

    Where, it is readily seen that such comments are backed up by the challenge of blind chance and mechanical necessity as search mechanisms for large configuration spaces beyond 500 – 1,000 bits; 10^500 – 10^301 possibilities, on the gamut of the sol system [~10^57 atoms] or the observed cosmos [~10^80 atoms] with chemical action rates of up to 10^- 12 – 10^-15 s. What this boils down to is that only a very small, astronomically small, fraction of possibilities can be explored by blind search. Where also, it is easy to show that a search is in effect a subset of a space of say n possibilities, so if one relies on the good luck of hitting a golden search, that implies a search for a good search challenge in the power set . . . of order 2^n possibilities That is, exponentially harder.

    In short, the challenge of finding deeply isolated islands of function in vast configuration spaces through blind search is real, not an empty speculation made up by design thinkers.

    The design inference on empirically tested reliable signs such as FSCO/I and fine tuning, is a cogent and well grounded inference. This already puts Darwin and his successors down today very much on the back foot under the bowling of the equivalent of Holding, Garner, Croft and Daniel in the glory days of the Windies four-superpace attack.

    But this is by m=no means all.

    The pivotal point is that in this clip, Darwin is appealing to the undermining of our ability to carry out abstract thought (multiplied by appeals to prejudice against childhood and alleged ill-founded indoctrination . . . he is not complaining against teaching children the times tables) in order to dismiss design inferences and God in particular as serious candidate designer.

    But the sauce for the goose is very much the sauce for the gander too.

    Darwin’s speculations about the remote and unobserved past of origins rely on the same abstract logic of inference to best explanation as inferences to design and discussions of designers manifest in the evidence as a whole.

    So, he has fallen into selective hyperskepticism, using logic with a swivel so that he may direct it against targets he wishes to undermine, but making sure not to look at the issue that when one points with his finger, three fingers are pointing back to one. In short, a capital example of self-referential incoherence rhetorically shielded through selective hyperskepticism dressed up in a lab coat.

    And, no, Darwin was not drunk when he penned these words, the problem is persistent down to today.

    That is why for instance, Reppert argued as I already clipped, it is why famed evolutionist J B S Haldane argued:

    It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    And, it is why Nancy Pearcey says in the context where she drew attention to Darwin’s selectively hyperskeptical blunder:

    A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . .

    An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.

    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem . . .

    She adds, regarding Darwin:

    People are sometimes under the impression that Darwin himself recognized the problem. They typically cite Darwin’s famous “horrid doubt” passage where he questions whether the human mind can be trustworthy if it is a product of evolution: “With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”

    But, of course, Darwin’s theory itself was a “conviction of man’s mind.” So why should it be “at all trustworthy”?

    Surprisingly, however, Darwin never confronted this internal contradiction in this theory. Why not? Because he expressed his “horrid doubt” selectively — only when considering the case for a Creator.

    From time to time, Darwin admitted that he still found the idea of God persuasive. He once confessed his “inward conviction … that the Universe is not the result of chance.” It was in the next sentence that he expressed his “horrid doubt.” So the “conviction” he mistrusted was his lingering conviction that the universe is not the result of chance . . .

    In short the problem of selective hyperskepticism and deflection of the inherent self referential incoherence of evolutionary materialistic scientism buttressed by methodological naturalism is real. It needs to be faced, not deflected by trying to denigrate the man and then distracted from by talking about drunks in court.

    In short, your reply fails; fails in a most revealing way.

    KF

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    AD, an important and obviously powerful argument, one that we need to refine the skeleton of to bring it to a clear and robust focus in a nutshell. KF

  73. 73
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let’s see:

    1. [Primary] Premise: For every being ‘x’ there is some principle ‘y’ that differentiates it from non-being.

    2. If false, then:

    3′: It is not the case that for every being ‘x’. there is some principle ‘y’ that differentiates it from non-being.

    4. If the [primary] premise is false, then there is some being ‘x’ that is indistinguishable from non-being.

    5. But, a being cannot both be and not be at the same time in the same manner.
    ___________________

    6. Therefore, there must be some principle ‘y’ that differentiates beings from non-being.

    7. Now, the principle that differentiates being from non-being must needs be a [sufficient principle of distinction, y, which in some cases y1 is causal, in others y2 necessity of being connected to the framework for existence of a possible world.

    Where,

    7a: [Principle of causality/contingency of being:] for y2, or any object X2 such that it is contingent, there is at least one object Y2 such that X2 exists by virtue of Y2 and X2 and Y2 are not identical.

    7b: Y2 is thus a cause of X2.

    7c: [Principle of necessity of being:] In the case of a necessary being X1, any possible world Wn will be such that X1 is present in the framework for Wn to exist, it is thus a necessary condition of a world existing.]

    __________________

    8. But, any principle that differentiates being from non-being must be that which accounts for the existence of a being, i.e., the principle of distinction. [Where also,

    9: Where, once we see some X which may be an instance of cases x1 or x2, we may freely inquire as to why it is so, expecting and desiring an intelligible reason. (Weak form, inquiry based principle of sufficient reason: wiPSR. An invitation to investigation as opposed to a declaration of intelligibility. The wiPSR is self-evidently sound as on observing a given X, we may simply proceed.)]

    Thus, we have a framework in which we may profitably discuss both cause and the roots of cause and of a world.

    I have already put on the table:

    as a start point, being. Candidates can be possible or impossible, the latter such that core characteristics stand in mutual contradiction so no such entity may exist in any possible world. Think square circles. Possible beings would exist in at least one possible world. Of such, contingent beings depend on on/off enabling causal factors that if off in a possible world would block the beginning or continuation of existence. Think, a fire i/l/o the fire tetrahedron used to fight such. Then conceive of beings with no such dependence on external enabling factors, i.e. there is no possible world in which they do not exist. For example try to see how a world could be without two-ness in it thus also the abstract contrast A vs ~A (which is foundational to rationality). That is necessary beings are root-level elements of the framework for a world to exist and no possible world can be without such. This addresses the “far fetched[ness]” of the concept, necessary being. Now contrast non-being, a genuine nothing. Such hath not causal capability and were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain — so much for the rhetorical trick of pulling a world out of a non-existent hat. Further to this the immediate consequence is, as a world manifestly is, SOMETHING ALWAYS WAS AT WORLD-ROOT LEVEL, a necessary being, root-cause of existence. The issue is, what is the best candidate. Especially in a world with morally governed, evidently responsibly and rationally substantially free beings — or else rational discussion evaporates . . . .

    Where this is going, is that we need to assess serious candidate necessary being roots of reality. In a world that includes credibly responsibly free and rational, morally and logically governed beings, that poses the question of adequacy. We need at root-level an IS capable of grounding OUGHT. After centuries of debate, one serious candidate exists: the inherently good creator God, a necessary, maximally great being worthy of loyalty and the responsible reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. If you doubt this, simply suggest and justify a case for another: _______ on comparative difficulties.

    Where, parodies like flying spaghetti monsters need not apply (starting with, composite constructed entities would be contingent). In short, it is plain that informed ethical theism is a responsible, rational worldview, not something to be skewered and dismissed with one liners about comparing evidence for the reality of God to fictional characters.

    Your insightful comment in this context is:

    Classical theism is the thesis that there is a necessarily existent ultimate reality which is simple (i.e., without any composition), immaterial (not spatially extended, immutable, timeless, omnipotent, and because it is immaterial, is analogous to a mind, and freely maintains all of contingent reality in existence. This view is shared by Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and many Greeks of late antiquity, following the classical arguments for God’s existence laid out by Aristotle and Plotinus. This thesis is obviously different from belief in Zeus or Marduk or Quetzalcoatl, insofar as the latter are themselves contingent beings. Nevertheless, those who do not believe in the gods of paganism are not atheists with respect to them, no more than Republicans or Democrats are anarchists with respect to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump respectively.

    We are looking at a framework that challenges the dominance of evolutionary materialistic scientism and its fellow travellers, a major contribution to the chaos of our world — including the ongoing worst holocaust in history, credibly 800+ millions and counting at 50 millions more per year.

    The errors behind the chaos of our present en-darkened age are manifest. St Paul put them thusly:

    Eph 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. [ESV]

    We are called to renewal of mind; duly enlightened by the candle of the Lord within, conscience illuminated by the Spirit of God. This implies a call to address worldviews and socio-cultural agenda/ civilisation trend issues with clarity and truth-seeking guided by sound conscience.

    This, let us do.

    And in due course, as we refine and agree on the argument and how to express it, DV we will headline it, for it is a worthy and even game changing contribution. For one, I intend to use it in my own discussion of worldviews issues from here on, as a point of reference.

    PPS: It seems your referred book is here in the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/stream/Garrigou-LagrangeEnglish/God_%20His%20Existence%20and%20His%20Nature%20(vol.%201)%20-%20Garrigou-Lagrange,%20Reginald,%20O.P__djvu.txt

  74. 74
    Autodidaktos says:

    KF, thank you for further refining the argument. 🙂

  75. 75
    daveS says:

    Autodidaktos,

    Thanks for the reference. I’ll have a look.

  76. 76
    daveS says:

    Autodidaktos and KF,

    Is y the same for all x?

    I would like to consider some specific examples for x:

    1) The cup of coffee on my desk

    2) The planet Jupiter

    3) Euler’s identity e^i*pi + 1 = 0

    What would y be in each case?

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, x and y are variables that take specific values for particular individual cases across the domain of reality. X and Y would best be viewed as instances chosen for argument. KF

    PS: For cases

    1) The cup of coffee on my desk

    a –> contingent, particular material entity, distinct from non being. Tied to a long chain of circumstances all the way back to the root of reality.

    2) The planet Jupiter

    b –> contingent, particular material entity, distinct from non being. Tied to a long chain of circumstances all the way back to the root of reality.

    3) Euler’s identity e^i*pi + 1 = 0

    c –> particular abstract meaningful entity [a quantitative proposition that joins five very important numbers], distinct from non being. On the meanings in the symbols and relationships, necessarily true for any world Wn. That is, part of framework reality.

    d –> This raises interesting onward issues on how abstracta of this order of propositions that are necessarily true and tied to the logic of structure and quantity [= Mathematics] are existent and distinct from non-being. Arguably the best answer is they are eternally contemplated by the mind at the root of reality.

    e –> You know I start from {} –> 0, {0} –> 1 etc, which entails that the domain of structure, quantity and logic is a framework, foundational reality for any possible world Wn to exist.

    f –> I have particularly emphasised the sixth pivotal number, 2.

    g –> Where, two-ness is bound up in there being A and ~A [i.e. distinction], thus the triple-form first principles of right reason.

    h –> In the first two cases, we can partially identify y with various recognisable contingent enabling factors that cause these things to exist.

    i –> In the third, the logic of structure and quantity is a necessary being at root of reality once some world Wn exists.

    j –> As these are propositions with force that constrains what may be so both abstractly and concretely, they seem to point to eternal mind as an essential component of the root of reality. As, propositions seem to be inherently mental abstract realities.

    k –> The logic then constrains everything else, including concrete contingent material realities such as the presumably long since downed cup of coffee.

  78. 78
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, x and y are variables that take specific values for particular individual cases across the domain of reality. X and Y would best be viewed as instances chosen for argument.

    Yes, certainly.

    I’m still not clear on exactly what y is for any of the three examples I suggested. Is there just one “principle ‘y’ that differentiates beings from non-being”, or are there different ys for different xs?

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, that a y exists is general: if there is a thing x that is, there is some principle y that sufficiently distinguishes it from non-being. The specifics obviously will vary case by particular case. As was shown in answer to your earlier comment. KF

  80. 80
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Thanks for the clarification. I think I understand most of the argument.

    Now, is this argument claimed to prove that, for example, that a pen cannot suddenly materialize (without cause or reason) on my desk, thereby violating the principle of sufficient reason?

    Obviously we have any number of reasons to doubt that this could happen, but does this argument prove that it is impossible?

  81. 81
    Autodidaktos says:

    daveS and KF, we might build upon the argument thus:

    (1) For all x, there is some principle y which distinguishes it from non-being.

    (2) For any x, y is either identical to x or it is not.

    (3) If y is identical to x, then x is necessarily distinct from non-being, i.e., it necessarily exists.

    (4) If x is contingent, then y is not identical to x. [From (3) via modus tollens)

    (5) If x is contingent, and x exists by virtue of some principle y such that y is not identical to x, then y is related to x as a cause of x.

    Yes, the argument shows that no contingent entity can exist without a cause of its existence.

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    AD, a further phase of the argument, it looks like. KF

  83. 83
    daveS says:

    Autodidaktos,

    Suppose we walk through this argument with x equal to a pen which is lying on a table. Let’s assume I’m seeing the pen for the first time and don’t know the history of how it came to rest on the table.

    Now if someone asked me to identify the principle y which distinguishes the pen from non-being, I wouldn’t be sure how to proceed. For one thing, which sense of the word “principle” are we using here?

    Anyway, perhaps I would place the pen on a balance and note that its mass is about 20 grams. “Nonbeing” has no mass, presumably, so it seems to me that I have distinguished the pen from nonbeing.

    Does that sound right to you so far?

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, instantly as the pen is a composition made up of components that can be taken apart or put together to form the relevant entity, esp material ones — starting with atoms — it is contingent. This is already showing how the principle of sufficient difference from non-being reduces to pointing to a cause here. KF

  85. 85
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, instantly as the pen is a composition made up of components that can be taken apart or put together to form the relevant entity, esp material ones — starting with atoms — it is contingent.

    I’m prepared to stipulate from the beginning that the pen is contingent from the start (and almost said that in my post #83), although I don’t see what the fact that it is composed of parts has to do with that. So yes, let’s say the pen is contingent.

    The ultimate question I have is, how do we know that there is a cause for the pen’s existence? Post #81 purports to be a proof of this assertion, I believe, and I’m trying to understand how it works, starting by dealing with the “principle y” part.

  86. 86
    daveS says:

    Oops, sloppy editing. Please remove the redundant “from the beginning” from the first sentence of #85.

  87. 87
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, composition from parts, esp. material parts instantly entails a config space for parts. From this we can get to various possible configurations of parts. Thus, composition of a particular arrangement or cluster of such is contingent. KF

  88. 88
  89. 89
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I don’t want to get too far off track, but re: #87, how can you prove this pen is not a necessary being? Perhaps for some reason unknown to us, it exists in every possible world.

    Again, notice the word “prove” there. I don’t actually think it’s likely any particular pen is a necessary being, but I don’t think I can prove otherwise.

  90. 90
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, possible worlds automatically — by definition — include all configurations of parts that can be scattered, clumped and assembled, not just the assembled ones. KF

  91. 91
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, possible worlds automatically — by definition — include all configurations of parts that can be scattered, clumped and assembled, not just the assembled ones. KF

    What I’m saying is that none of this proves that there exists a possible world without a pen identical to the one on my desk (which resembles this, by the way).

  92. 92
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, you are misunderstanding what a possible world is. If something is made of components that are assembled to create the object, automatically there is a possible state of affairs in which the parts are not so assembled. Which starts with, atoms. Any material entity composed of component parts is automatically composite and contingent, thus caused; it can begin, it can cease — not least by being dissolved or disintegrating or disassembled. No material entity in itself can be a necessary being. You will note that examples of actual or serious candidate NBs are always non-material. Thus for instance the signal failure of the flying spaghetti monster or the like parody to actually be a serious argument; however in a day when understanding of basic philosophy is generally speaking quite weak, such parodies and sleight of words such as mislabelling a quantum foam “nothing” as though something were non-being, will seem persuasive to many. KF

  93. 93
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I think my understanding of possible worlds is similar to others’.

    How do you know that God would not always choose to create one of these pens? So regardless of the rest of the details of any particular possible world, this pen has to exist in it? If that’s the case, then we can’t point to a possible world without an instance of this pen. Likewise for any particular material object, as long as it’s not impossible.

    I, like you, can try to imagine a possible world where this pen is absent, but that doesn’t mean such exists. It might turn out that such a world is actually impossible.

  94. 94
    HeKS says:

    daveS #93

    I think my understanding of possible worlds is similar to others’.

    How do you know that God would not always choose to create one of these pens? So regardless of the rest of the details of any particular possible world, this pen has to exist in it?

    A pen that God chooses to create in every possible world would be contingent in every possible world. That it would eventually be brought into being in every possible world does not make it necessary.

    A “possible world” should be viewed as a possible description of reality not only in all places but also at all times. Could a pen have existed at the point in time when space was limited to a singularity? Or in the ultra-intense furnace of the Big Bang? What about “prior” to the Big Bang, when there was no space or time? An object that is described by characteristics that cannot have been present at all points in all possible worlds cannot be a serious candidate for a necessary being. Furthermore, an object or person that comes into being at some point in time cannot be a necessary being, since things were able to get along quite well prior to its coming into being.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  95. 95
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Those are some serious objections, but I think there are responses to at least some of them.

    My understanding is that we are discussing disproving that this pen is a necessary being by logic, without bringing our provisional understanding of the Big Bang, etc, into the picture. Do I dare bring up the possibility that time and space do not have a beginning? And that this pen has always been in God’s possession, and was created “outside of time”?

    Some believe that there is only one possible world, I take it, and it could simply be a brute fact that this pen has always existed along with God in this world.

    Let me reiterate that I don’t believe that this pen is a likely candidate for a necessary being. It’s just that I suspect it’s going to be impossible to disprove this proposition without bringing in assumptions about physics (or perhaps theology) beyond the basic definitions.

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, by definition, if a candidate possible state of affairs is feasible, it exists in a possible world; at least, were that world instantiated. So, if something is made of material components from atoms upwards, there are possible worlds in which the entity is not assembled. The given possible world does not have to actually exist, all that is needed is it is feasible of existence. A necessary being, by contrast is one that no world could exist without, I have given the example of two-ness, which is connected to A vs ~A, thus first and necessary principles of reason, as well as to the wider framework of the logic of structure and quantity, aka mathematics. There is no feasible world in which two-ness will not be essentially and inextricably present. KF

  97. 97
    daveS says:

    KF,

    How can you be sure what is feasible and what is not?

    It could be that some configurations of matter which appear to be feasible to us humans actually would entail a physical impossibility in the past or future.

    I suspect that a world without any instances of my pen is possible, but can I prove that? I don’t see how.

    And yes, if we consider abstract concepts to be beings, I would agree that twoness is a reasonable candidate for a necessary being.

  98. 98
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    HeKS,

    Those are some serious objections, but I think there are responses to at least some of them.

    My understanding is that we are discussing disproving that this pen is a necessary being by logic, without bringing our provisional understanding of the Big Bang, etc, into the picture.

    But think about it for second. Surely our actual world, which seems to be accurately described by the Big Bang Theory, is a possible world. And if by some crazy chance the Big Bang doesn’t describe our actual world, there seems to be no reason to think that it doesn’t describe a possible world. That means we know of at least one possible world (which seems to be this actual world) in which there would be a point that an exhaustive description of that possible world would not and could not include the candidate pen. As such, the pen cannot be a necessary being.

    Do I dare bring up the possibility that time and space do not have a beginning?

    Well, we’ve been round this block before, but let me just ask you this: Is there a possible world where time and space had a beginning? Or how about even just a possible world in which space was condensed to a singularity at some time in the past? If so, then there was a point in a possible world when the pen could not have been in existence.

    And that this pen has always been in God’s possession, and was created “outside of time”?

    Some believe that there is only one possible world, I take it, and it could simply be a brute fact that this pen has always existed along with God in this world.

    Well, here’s the problem: What you’re doing here is what atheists wrongly accuse theists of doing, which is simply proposing the existence of a hypothetical entity out of thin air for no apparent reason and asking others to disprove its existence and/or necessity. Theists deduce the existence of God as a logically necessary being that must exist in order to ground observed physical reality, objective moral values and duties, and actual (as opposed to illusory) mental consciousness. Theists consider God to be the ultimate and necessary explanation for existence who must exist in all possible worlds. What you’re doing is simply postulating a hypothetical object (a particular pen) that does or might exist in every possible world, but unless I’ve missed something you haven’t offered any reason why we would be forced to deduce that it must exist in every possible world and therefore be a necessary being.

    So, at this point, it seems to me that we have no reason to deduce that such a necessary pen must (or even might) exist, and we can think of at least one possible world in which there is a point when the pen would not and could not exist.

  99. 99
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    I’ll respond to the first and last paragraph first:

    But think about it for second. Surely our actual world, which seems to be accurately described by the Big Bang Theory, is a possible world. And if by some crazy chance the Big Bang doesn’t describe our actual world, there seems to be no reason to think that it doesn’t describe a possible world.

    So, at this point, it seems to me that we have no reason to deduce that such a necessary pen must (or even might) exist, and we can think of at least one possible world in which there is a point when the pen would not and could not exist.

    I agree with this, but I’m talking about an alleged proof that my pen is not a necessary being, and once we start including steps such as “there seems to be no reason to think” such and such, we’re now engaging in a plausibility argument. I fully accept that it’s plausible (and I think very likely) that my pen is actually not a necessary being, so I don’t have any disagreement with this.

    Now if it had merely been claimed that we have an argument, convincing beyond any reasonable doubt, that my pen is not a necessary being, I would have agreed. I hope I’ve been clear here that I’m interpreting the word “proof” strictly.

    Well, we’ve been round this block before, but let me just ask you this: Is there a possible world where time and space had a beginning? Or how about even just a possible world in which space was condensed to a singularity at some time in the past?

    Maybe, but I can’t say for sure. Perhaps a beginning to space and time invariably leads to a logical contradiction. I really have no idea.

    Well, here’s the problem: What you’re doing here is what atheists wrongly accuse theists of doing, which is simply proposing the existence of a hypothetical entity out of thin air for no apparent reason and asking others to disprove its existence and/or necessity.

    I do plead guilty of proposing the existence of a hypothetical entity. But if this claimed proof actually existed, wouldn’t it rule out my proposition?

  100. 100
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, observe, component parts of a composite entity — where, atoms count as components, not just sub assemblies — patently may not be assembled. That is feasible. They may also be assembled. That too is feasible. This also shows what a contingent being is, in at least one possible world it is, in at least one other it is not. At this point the issues you are suggesting sound increasingly strained. KF

  101. 101
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, observe, component parts of a composite entity — where, atoms count as components, not just sub assemblies — patently may not be assembled. That is feasible. They may also be assembled. That too is feasible.

    This is an assertion. One which I would accept as being true beyond a reasonable doubt (at least in instances such as pens), but an assertion nonetheless.

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, no, it is a propositional statement closely tied to the concepts of possible worlds and contingent beings. KF

  103. 103
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    I’m not sure if I’ve missed something here, but I’m I don’t really know what your point is with respect to this pen, or what you’re looking for exactly, but let me address your comments to me:

    I agree with this, but I’m talking about an alleged proof that my pen is not a necessary being, and once we start including steps such as “there seems to be no reason to think” such and such, we’re now engaging in a plausibility argument. I fully accept that it’s plausible (and I think very likely) that my pen is actually not a necessary being, so I don’t have any disagreement with this.

    Now if it had merely been claimed that we have an argument, convincing beyond any reasonable doubt, that my pen is not a necessary being, I would have agreed. I hope I’ve been clear here that I’m interpreting the word “proof” strictly.

    I structured my last response to you in a way that tried to respect certain things that I know, from past conversations, you do not necessarily accept, such as the impossibility of an infinite temporal past. That said, I consider it an obvious and logically necessary conclusion that it is impossible for there to have been an infinite temporal past, and I consider your failure to accept that as an incomprehensible failure of logic on your part. As such, if we set aside your failure to accept the impossibility of an infinite temporal past then that same impossibility constitutes a proof that a pen cannot be a necessary being.

    But even absent the logical impossibility of an infinite past, there’s another proof based on what we currently observe to be happening in our universe, which is that it is expanding. This is an empirical fact, not simply a theory. With this empirical fact in hand we can turn to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem, which tells us that any universe that, on average, is expanding must be geodesically incomplete. A theorem, as I’m sure you know (and perhaps better than I, since as I’ve said here many times, I’m not a math person), is a legitimate proof and not simply a theory. Now, even if one wants to try to avoid the conclusion that the universe had an absolute beginning or that it was preceded by some quantum regime, they still cannot avoid the conclusion that our very own universe necessarily reduces to a singularity as we move backwards into the past, as per the BGV Theorem. This fact alone serves as a proof that a pen cannot be a necessary being because there was definitely a time in our own universe where a pen could not have existed, and so we know that no pen could exist at all times in all possible worlds.

    All that having been said, I made a point that you didn’t address at all. I said:

    Theists deduce the existence of God as a logically necessary being that must exist in order to ground observed physical reality, objective moral values and duties, and actual (as opposed to illusory) mental consciousness. Theists consider God to be the ultimate and necessary explanation for existence who must exist in all possible worlds…. [Y]ou haven’t offered any reason why we would be forced to deduce that [your pen] must exist in every possible world and therefore be a necessary being.

    With this whole pen thing, it seems like you have confused necessary with ubiquitous. Even if we allow for the sake of argument that your pen exists in all possible worlds, that doesn’t make it a necessary being. Something could happen to exist in every possible world and still be contingent. You haven’t offered any coherent reason (or actually any reason at all that I’ve seen) for why a particular pen might be necessary in every possible world. Simply postulating a hypothetical object that happens to exist in every possible world doesn’t magically make the hypothetical object a necessary being.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  104. 104
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Thanks for bringing the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin singularity theorem to my attention. I’d never heard of it before. But of course it’s derived based on certain premises, which may or may not be true. Furthermore, in that whole series of threads on an infinite past, I was only debating arguments dealing with pure mathematics, not those based on empirical science. I have not yet seen a convincing mathematical proof that the past is finite.

    With this whole pen thing, it seems like you have confused necessary with ubiquitous. Even if we allow for the sake of argument that your pen exists in all possible worlds, that doesn’t make it a necessary being. Something could happen to exist in every possible world and still be contingent.

    Well, I think at least some people define “necessary being” that way. A little googling reveals several instances of that usage. On the other hand, perhaps there are good reasons not to insist that beings which exist in every possible world are necessary.

    You haven’t offered any coherent reason (or actually any reason at all that I’ve seen) for why a particular pen might be necessary in every possible world. Simply postulating a hypothetical object that happens to exist in every possible world doesn’t magically make the hypothetical object a necessary being.

    I agree, but that’s because I don’t think the burden is on me to do so. I’m merely saying that there is as yet no proof on the table that my pen is not a necessary being.

  105. 105
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    But of course it’s derived based on certain premises, which may or may not be true.

    Well, a theorem is a result that has been proved to be true on the basis of other facts already known to be true. Your characterization of a theorem seems to recast it as a theory, but they are not the same thing. If you don’t want to consider a theorem to be a proof when that is precisely what a theorem, in a strict sense, is considered to be, then there really is no point in you asking for a proof. Interestingly, Vilenkin himself made the following statement:

    “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man.”

    If you’re going to reject sound argument and even discount a proof then I’m not sure what I can do to help you here.

    HeKS: With this whole pen thing, it seems like you have confused necessary with ubiquitous. Even if we allow for the sake of argument that your pen exists in all possible worlds, that doesn’t make it a necessary being. Something could happen to exist in every possible world and still be contingent.

    Well, I think at least some people define “necessary being” that way. A little googling reveals several instances of that usage. On the other hand, perhaps there are good reasons not to insist that beings which exist in every possible world are necessary.

    Google “necessary being” and this is what comes up as the definition:

    logical necessity: a logically necessary being is a being whose non-existence is a logical impossibility, and which therefore exists either timeless or eternally in all possible worlds.

    Notice the “therefore”? The primary characteristic that defines a necessary being is the reason that it exists in all possible worlds, which is its logical necessity. Merely existing in all possible worlds says nothing about necessity. For example, say your pen exists in every possible world because God chooses (for some unknown reason) to create your pen in every possible world. The pen, in spite of existing in every possible world, would be contingent, not necessary. It would exist because God chooses to create it, even if he decides he would do so in every possible world. There is nothing about the pen that makes its existence logically necessary, so that it would be logically impossible for any possible world to exist without the pen existing.

    HeKS: You haven’t offered any coherent reason (or actually any reason at all that I’ve seen) for why a particular pen might be necessary in every possible world. Simply postulating a hypothetical object that happens to exist in every possible world doesn’t magically make the hypothetical object a necessary being.

    I agree, but that’s because I don’t think the burden is on me to do so. I’m merely saying that there is as yet no proof on the table that my pen is not a necessary being.

    I have to insist that you are mistaken. The term “necessary being” actually means something. There is nothing about the definition of a pen that permits identification as necessary being. Nothing that exists within a larger context can even possibly be a necessary being as it is necessarily contingent upon its context. This is true whether the context is space, or time, or constraining laws, or variable motion, or probabilistic outcomes, or creative agency, or anything else.

    If you want to continue saying that none of this serves as a legitimate proof that your pen is not a necessary being then all you’re really saying is that you’re using an idiosyncratic definition of “necessary being” that is ultimately irrelevant to the actual concept of necessary being. You’re free to do that if you like, but then what is the point of this discussion?

  106. 106
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS, Thanks. I have pointed out how NBs are independent of on/off enabling causal factors [possible beings subject to such are contingent], and that they will be framework entities for a world — any feasible/ possible world — to exist. This is of course tantamount to, once a world exists then a NB exists; indeed the set of NBs. This world exists, so the suite of NBs exists. A serious candidate NB will be either logically impossible (square circle stuff) or actual. A pen, by definition is material and composite. Considering that a possible world is a logically possible and in principle elaborated descriptions of feasible states of affairs for a world, once something comprises components down to atoms etc, it is possible in world Wa for it to be assembled, and in world Wb for it to be not. Wb does not have to be instantiated, just feasible of instantiation. By definition, contingent beings are possible but not necessary so they will be in at least one world, Wn, but not in at least a “neighbouring” one, Wm. The simplest contrast is, assembly vs non-assembly of the components. As a direct result, no material entity is necessary. Serious NB candidates are things like critical, necessarily so abstract phenomena, quantities, propositions and minds. These entities will be without beginning or possibility of end. God, notoriously, is a serious candidate, and is either impossible [as a square circle is] or actual. And we can rest assured there is no serious argument that God as understood under generic ethical theism, is impossible as a square circle is impossible. Atheists have a major challenge of warrant, which is unmet and has no serious prospects of ever being met. We can take this as in effect some of the meat behind say, the declaration in Rom 1 that from our inner constitution and that of our world the reality of an Eternal, Divine Creator and Good Moral Governor is so patent that it requires suppression to deny it. That in-a-nutshell was penned by one of the top 20 minds of our civilisation, indeed the often unacknowledged synthesiser of the heritage of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome that created Western Civilisation as we have known it. KF

  107. 107
    HeKS says:

    Hi KF,

    I’m getting the sense from this discussion that daveS is having a hard time wrapping his head around the concept of what a necessary being actually is, because the proposition that a pen might be a necessary being is not just implausible, it is incoherent.

  108. 108
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Well, a theorem is a result that has been proved to be true on the basis of other facts already known to be true.

    Theorems are proved on the basis of axioms; whether those axioms are true or not is a separate issue. This theorem concerns a mathematical model of the universe, and not necessarily the actual universe itself.

    If you’re going to reject sound argument and even discount a proof then I’m not sure what I can do to help you here.

    I don’t doubt that as a mathematical theorem, it is correct. But as I said above, it’s a proof about a mathematical model, in fact one which is believed to be incomplete.

    Notice the “therefore”? The primary characteristic that defines a necessary being is the reason that it exists in all possible worlds, which is its logical necessity. Merely existing in all possible worlds says nothing about necessity.

    Some use the definition I referred to, for example Peter van Inwagen in Metaphysics, page 138:

    A necessary being is simply a being that possesses necessary existence. But we may define this concept very simply in terms of the concept of a possible world: a necessary being is a being that exists in all possible worlds (and necessary existence is the property of existing in all possible worlds).

    I now understand that some (e.g., Michael Griffin in Leibniz, God and Necessity) disagree this is the correct definition, but it is used: :

    In contemporary philosophy of religion, versions of the ontological argument that appeal to modal notions, and make use of the semantic apparatus of possible worlds, are seen to hold the most promise. In particular, the possible worlds apparatus is seen as elucidating the concept of a necessary being, which is central to the ontological arguments of Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz. The latter idea can be expressed by saying that a necessary being is one which exists in all possible worlds. One of the results of my study is that the modal semantics used in contemporary ontological arguments does not adequately capture the reasoning of early modern philosophers, nor can it adequately express what they meant by saying that God is a necessary being. This is because the modal semantics used in contemporary ontological arguments is mute with respect to the question of what makes a necessary being necessary. Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz all hold that something can exist in all possible worlds without being a necessary being, in the sense of the ontological argument.

    HeKS:

    I have to insist that you are mistaken. The term “necessary being” actually means something. There is nothing about the definition of a pen that permits identification as necessary being. Nothing that exists within a larger context can even possibly be a necessary being as it is necessarily contingent upon its context. This is true whether the context is space, or time, or constraining laws, or variable motion, or probabilistic outcomes, or creative agency, or anything else.

    If you want to continue saying that none of this serves as a legitimate proof that your pen is not a necessary being then all you’re really saying is that you’re using an idiosyncratic definition of “necessary being” that is ultimately irrelevant to the actual concept of necessary being. You’re free to do that if you like, but then what is the point of this discussion?

    Whether it’s idiosyncratic or not, I don’t know. I suppose I should ask KF his opinion, since our discussion is where this issue arose.

    In any case, the point as I see it, is to be clear on whether we are talking about actual proofs or “just” convincing arguments.

    Edit: From Sean Carroll’s blog (not exactly a disinterested party, I know):

    Craig quotes (misleadingly) a recent paper by Audrey Mithani and Alex Vilenkin, which concludes by saying “Did the universe have a beginning? At this point, it seems that the answer to this question is probably yes.”

    Note the “probably”.

  109. 109
    daveS says:

    KF: Do you agree with HeKS that a being can exist in all possible worlds yet not be necessary?

  110. 110
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    With respect to your last point about Carroll, please note that I did not use the BGV Theorem in this case to prove that the universe had an absolute beginning (which is something that Carroll would very much like not to be true). Rather, I used it simply to prove that our universe necessarily reduces to a singularity at some point in the past, and not even Carroll would disagree with this. Carroll would simply appeal to a prior quantum regime.

    As a further point of interest, the Wall Theorem shows that even a quantum regime would have a beginning, and is therefore essentially to Quantum Physics what the BGV is to Classical Physics. You can read a post by Wall here where he explains why Carroll’s appeals to an eternal quantum regime are really unfounded and continue into the comments to see where he mentions his Theorem.

    With respect to theorems, they are considered to be proofs. If you don’t want to accept that they are proofs, fine, but then what are you even talking about when you ask for a proof? You’re rejecting theorems as a proof and you’re rejecting logical and definitional proofs, so really, what on earth can you be looking for?

    With respect to the meaning of “necessary being”, it doesn’t matter if some people define the term simply as something that exists in all possible worlds. That is a lazy and incomplete definition, regardless of the source. Any definition of “necessary being” that fails to account for the necessity of the being is an obviously incomplete and unhelpful definition. If you want to use that definition because you find it helpful to your cause, you are free to do that, but then you are speaking of a different and lesser kind of “necessary” being than God is said to be, so I’m not sure why anyone should care whether or not it’s possible for your pen to be a Nezasary Being™ that might exist contingently in every possible world. Maybe yes, maybe no, but what does that have to do with anything and why should I care?

  111. 111
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    KF: Do you agree with HeKS that a being can exist in all possible worlds yet not be necessary?

    Simple logic establishes this to be true and I’ve already shown that.

    An actually necessary being like God could decide that at some point in time in the world it creates it will also create a particular object regardless of what other facts obtain in the world. In such a case, the object would exist in every possible world but would be contingent as it would exist as a result of God’s will rather than because no world could exist without out. It would also further be contingent upon matter, space, time, physical laws, etc.

    There is nothing about the mere fact of existing in every possible world, in and of itself, that makes something’s existence necessary.

  112. 112
    bornagain77 says:

    HeKS thanks for the Wall cite. This may interest you as well:

    The Universe Is Not Eternal – Johanan Raatz – March 1, 2014
    Excerpt: Carroll pointed out that the BVG theorem only works within relativity but does not take quantum effects into account. Given a lack of a complete theory of quantum gravity, he argued that Craig can not claim that the universe began to exist.
    Though this is partly true, it turns out we are not completely in the dark. One thing known for certain about quantum gravity is something called the holographic principle. Precisely put, the holographic principle tells us that the entropy of a region of space (measured in terms of information) is directly proportional to a quarter of its surface area. The volume of this region is then actually a hologram of this information on its surface.
    Except this tells us something interesting about the universe as well. Entropy, or the amount of disorder present, always increases with time. In fact not only is this law inviolate, it is also how the flow of time is defined. Without entropy, there is no way to discern forwards and backwards in time.
    But if the holographic principle links the universe’s entropy and its horizon area then going back in time, all of space-time eventually vanishes to nothing at zero entropy. Thus Carroll’s argument is unsound. We already have enough knowledge about what happens beyond the BVG theorem that Craig cites. The universe is not eternal but created.
    It is interesting to note that this also undermines claims made by atheists like Hawking and Krauss that the universe could have fluctuated into existence from nothing. Their argument rests on the assumption that there was a pre-existent zero-point field or ZPF. The only trouble is that the physics of a ZPF requires a space-time to exist in. No space-time means no zero-point field, and without a zero-point field, the universe can not spontaneously fluctuate into existence.
    http://blog.proof.directory/20.....t-eternal/

    Personally, I find it rather strange that atheists would even appeal to quantum mechanics in the first place to try to save their Nihilism from a beginning for the universe. Quantum Mechanics has certainly not been very friendly to the overriding reductive materialistic presuppositions of atheists in the past and is almost certainly not going to be kind to their atheistic materialistic druthers in the future.

    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C5pq7W5yRM&list=PL1mr9ZTZb3TViAqtowpvZy5PZpn-MoSK_&index=2

    Niels Bohr, who was awarded the 1922 Nobel Prize in physics for his application of quantum theory to atomic and molecular structure, expressed it this way:
    “Everything we call real is made up of things that cannot be regarded as real. If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.”
    The key here is the realization that when we simply observe light, electrons, even small molecules or viruses in the double-slit experiment, it determines whether you get a particulate or a wave pattern. This scientifically falsifies
    • Materialism – All that exists is matter and energy and the rearrangements of it. (extreme realism)
    • Realism – A physical reality exists independent of observation.
    • Naïve Realism — Reality exists independent of observation, just that our perceptions are just a representation of something actually there. (Falsified by QM experiments in 2011, 2012)
    And it leaves us with only two other options:
    • Idealism – Reality is a mental construct, and doesn’t exist independent of observation.
    • Solipsism – The extreme skeptical version of idealism, which claims that only your mind exists and anything outside of it is an illusion.
    Take your pick!
    – UD blogger

    Molecular Biology – 19th Century Materialism meets 21st Century Quantum Mechanics
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCs3WXHqOv8

  113. 113
    bornagain77 says:

    Looking beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory – 29 October 2012
    Excerpt: “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”
    http://www.quantumlah.org/high.....uences.php

    Quantum correlations do not imply instant causation – August 12, 2016
    Excerpt: A research team led by a Heriot-Watt scientist has shown that the universe is even weirder than had previously been thought.
    In 2015 the universe was officially proven to be weird. After many decades of research, a series of experiments showed that distant, entangled objects can seemingly interact with each other through what Albert Einstein famously dismissed as “Spooky action at a distance”.
    A new experiment by an international team led by Heriot-Watt’s Dr Alessandro Fedrizzi has now found that the universe is even weirder than that: entangled objects do not cause each other to behave the way they do.
    http://phys.org/news/2016-08-q.....ation.html

    Experimental test of nonlocal causality – August 10, 2016
    DISCUSSION
    Previous work on causal explanations beyond local hidden-variable models focused on testing Leggett’s crypto-nonlocality (7, 42, 43), a class of models with a very specific choice of hidden variable that is unrelated to Bell’s local causality (44). In contrast, we make no assumptions on the form of the hidden variable and test all models ,,,
    Our results demonstrate that a causal influence from one measurement outcome to the other, which may be subluminal, superluminal, or even instantaneous, cannot explain the observed correlations.,,,
    http://advances.sciencemag.org.....00162.full

    Physicists find extreme violation of local realism in quantum hypergraph states – Lisa Zyga – March 4, 2016
    Excerpt: Many quantum technologies rely on quantum states that violate local realism, which means that they either violate locality (such as when entangled particles influence each other from far away) or realism (the assumption that quantum states have well-defined properties, independent of measurement), or possibly both. Violation of local realism is one of the many counterintuitive, yet experimentally supported, characteristics of the quantum world.
    Determining whether or not multiparticle quantum states violate local realism can be challenging. Now in a new paper, physicists have shown that a large family of multiparticle quantum states called hypergraph states violates local realism in many ways. The results suggest that these states may serve as useful resources for quantum technologies, such as quantum computers and detecting gravitational waves.,,,
    The physicists also showed that the greater the number of particles in a quantum hypergraph state, the more strongly it violates local realism, with the strength increasing exponentially with the number of particles. In addition, even if a quantum hypergraph state loses one of its particles, it continues to violate local realism. This robustness to particle loss is in stark contrast to other types of quantum states, which no longer violate local realism if they lose a particle. This property is particularly appealing for applications, since it might allow for more noise in experiments.
    http://phys.org/news/2016-03-p.....alism.html

  114. 114
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    With respect to your last point about Carroll, please note that I did not use the BGV Theorem in this case to prove that the universe had an absolute beginning (which is something that Carroll would very much like not to be true). Rather, I used it simply to prove that our universe necessarily reduces to a singularity at some point in the past, and not even Carroll would disagree with this. Carroll would simply appeal to a prior quantum regime.

    Yes, sorry, I got that mixed up.

    As a further point of interest, the Wall Theorem shows that even a quantum regime would have a beginning, and is therefore essentially to Quantum Physics what the BGV is to Classical Physics. You can read a post by Wall here where he explains why Carroll’s appeals to an eternal quantum regime are really unfounded and continue into the comments to see where he mentions his Theorem.

    With respect to theorems, they are considered to be proofs. If you don’t want to accept that they are proofs, fine, but then what are you even talking about when you ask for a proof? You’re rejecting theorems as a proof and you’re rejecting logical and definitional proofs, so really, what on earth can you be looking for?

    Theorems are indeed things that have been proved, but in these cases, they are statements about mathematical models which are provisional and in fact believed to be imperfect. The models are approximations only. That’s all I’m saying.

    So physicists have these models, which are known to be flawed. Can they really claim to “prove” anything about what the universe looked like in the first milliseconds after the Big Bang?

    With respect to the meaning of “necessary being”, it doesn’t matter if some people define the term simply as something that exists in all possible worlds. That is a lazy and incomplete definition, regardless of the source. Any definition of “necessary being” that fails to account for the necessity of the being is an obviously incomplete and unhelpful definition. If you want to use that definition because you find it helpful to your cause, you are free to do that, but then you are speaking of a different and lesser kind of “necessary” being than God is said to be, so I’m not sure why anyone should care whether or not it’s possible for your pen to be a Nezasary Being™ that might exist contingently in every possible world. Maybe yes, maybe no, but what does that have to do with anything and why should I care?

    I will say that if KF agrees with you in that a contingent being could still exist in all possible worlds, then the line I was pursuing with the pen is moot.

    However, reading KF’s #106 above:

    By definition, contingent beings are possible but not necessary so they will be in at least one world, Wn, but not in at least a “neighbouring” one, Wm.

    it looks like he’s using the same definition as me? Perhaps KF and I stand together on this one? 🙂

  115. 115
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    So physicists have these models, which are known to be flawed. Can they really claim to “prove” anything about what the universe looked like in the first milliseconds after the Big Bang?

    Fine, let’s set aside the theorem for the moment and consider the logical outcome of currently observable empirical facts.

    Our universe is constantly expanding. A second ago it was quite a bit smaller than it is now. A second from now it will be quite a bit bigger. The size has changed significantly since the expansion of the universe was discovered. This tells us that there is no specific size that a universe must be in order for a possible world to exist. There is also no physical law that would require a universe to be larger than, say, an atom, in order for a physical reality to exist. A universe that is no larger than an atom does not entail any logical contradictions. As such, there is a possible world (and our actual world seems to be such a world) in which the universe is no larger than an atom at some point in time. This means there is a possible world in which there is a point in time during which a pen could not exist. Therefore, a pen cannot be a necessary being.

    I will say that if KF agrees with you in that a contingent being could still exist in all possible worlds, then the line I was pursuing with the pen is moot.

    However, reading KF’s #106 above:

    By definition, contingent beings are possible but not necessary so they will be in at least one world, Wn, but not in at least a “neighbouring” one, Wm.

    it looks like he’s using the same definition as me? Perhaps KF and I stand together on this one? 🙂

    We can wait and see what KF says, but I suspect that KF was merely not accounting for the type of scenario I described, as his statement would generally be true in a practical sense.

    Any physical object composed of physical components need not be composed exactly as it is, especially at the micro scale. An object that might look identical at the macro scale could be composed of different atoms in different possible worlds. Also, no particular assembly of specific atoms or physical parts is logically necessary for a world to exist. As such, there will be some logically possible world in which that object either doesn’t exist at all or is at least composed of different particles. The only exception is if an actually necessary being responsible for the creation of any possible world 1) makes the choice that it will create some particular physical object in any world it creates and will do so out of some particular selection of particles, and 2) has the ability to select and bring together that particular set of particles in any possible world.

    Such an object would exist in every possible world, but it would be contingent upon the choice of an actually necessary being, as well as upon its own larger physical context (space, time, physical laws, etc.). And so, interestingly, the existence of a physical object composed of identical particles in every possible world would point to the existence of a personal (and seemingly omniscient and omnipotent) necessary being at the root of all possible realities, as nothing else could guarantee the existence in every possible world of something that is not required by logic to exist in every possible world.

  116. 116
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Our universe is constantly expanding. A second ago it was quite a bit smaller than it is now. A second from now it will be quite a bit bigger. The size has changed significantly since the expansion of the universe was discovered. This tells us that there is no specific size that a universe must be in order for a possible world to exist. There is also no physical law that would require a universe to be larger than, say, an atom, in order for a physical reality to exist. A universe that is no larger than an atom does not entail any logical contradictions. As such, there is a possible world (and our actual world seems to be such a world) in which the universe is no larger than an atom at some point in time. This means there is a possible world in which there is a point in time during which a pen could not exist. Therefore, a pen cannot be a necessary being.

    I would call that a convincing argument based on the available empirical evidence and current knowledge of the laws of physics. I would not call that a proof, but people in the empirical sciences are not in the business of proving statements about the physical world (although they can certainly prove mathematical theorems as part of their work). Does that seem reasonable to you?

    Regarding the last three paragraphs, there are a number of assertions there which I think can be (and are) debated. For example, how do we know this is true:

    Any physical object composed of physical components need not be composed exactly as it is, especially at the micro scale. An object that might look identical at the macro scale could be composed of different atoms in different possible worlds. Also, no particular assembly of specific atoms or physical parts is logically necessary for a world to exist. As such, there will be some logically possible world in which that object either doesn’t exist at all or is at least composed of different particles.

    Specifically, how do we know that there are any possible worlds aside from the actual one?

    Obviously I can conceive of a possible world in which a particular pen on my desk is blue rather than black, but how do I really know that world is possible?

    It might be that the only possible way the world could unfold is to have a black pen on my desk at this particular point in its history.

    I do think how we define a particular physical being could cause trouble for me (is the pen on my desk really a being, as it changes over time?). Perhaps I would have to resort to saying that there is only one being (the actual world in totality, over all time). That would dispose of my pen illustration, I suppose.

    Anyway, it seems to me there are quite a few questions that your argument raises.

  117. 117
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    Specifically, how do we know that there are any possible worlds aside from the actual one?

    Obviously I can conceive of a possible world in which a particular pen on my desk is blue rather than black, but how do I really know that world is possible?

    It might be that the only possible way the world could unfold is to have a black pen on my desk at this particular point in its history.

    I’m growing ever more confused about what you’re trying to achieve here. All you’re saying here is that you don’t accept the basis and the business of modal logic. If you want to proceed on the premise that the actual world, in its descriptions at all possible times, is the only possible world then there is no point talking about possible worlds or beings that exist in or are necessary to every possible world. Instead you have moved into the realm of nomological determinism and/or neccessitarianism. Of course, under this view, your pen would not simply be an unobtrusive object that for some utterly unknown reason might be necessary to the existence of reality while being surrounded by other mundane and contingent objects. Instead, everything would be “necessary” in the sense that it would be impossible for anything to have turned out any other way than it has. Of course, your pen would still be contingent in the sense that its existence would be impossible in the absence of its larger physical context.

    In any case, you want a proof that your pen is not a necessary being in the same sense as God? It’s actually quite simple. Pick it up and try to break or cut it in half. If you succeed in breaking it, altering it or damaging it in any way and reality does not come to an end then you have proved conclusively that it is not a necessary being, since you will have proved that the existence of reality does not depend on your pen existing in its intact state and that logic does not require the pen to exist in a constant state of being.

  118. 118
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    I’m growing ever more confused about what you’re trying to achieve here. All you’re saying here is that you don’t accept the basis and the business of modal logic. If you want to proceed on the premise that the actual world, in its descriptions at all possible times, is the only possible world then there is no point talking about possible worlds or beings that exist in or are necessary to every possible world. Instead you have moved into the realm of nomological determinism and/or neccessitarianism.

    Eh? I don’t reject modal logic at all. It could be the case that the actual world is the only possible world, correct? Some people hold that view. What I’m questioning is the practice of asserting that this or that possible world definitely exists, without some support (or proof, really, since this whole discussion I was having with KF concerns things that can be proved).

    If you say that a particular possible world exists, can you prove so?

    Of course, under this view, your pen would not simply be an unobtrusive object that for some utterly unknown reason might be necessary to the existence of reality while being surrounded by other mundane and contingent objects. Instead, everything would be “necessary” in the sense that it would be impossible for anything to have turned out any other way than it has. Of course, your pen would still be contingent in the sense that its existence would be impossible in the absence of its larger physical context.

    I would agree up to the last sentence. Now regarding that last sentence, the absence of the larger physical context would itself be impossible, so the pen could not not exist (both “nots” intended there), so I think some would still call it a necessary being. I understand that you and many others would not.

    In any case, you want a proof that your pen is not a necessary being in the same sense as God? It’s actually quite simple. Pick it up and try to break or cut it in half. If you succeed in breaking it, altering it or damaging it in any way and reality does not come to an end then you have proved conclusively that it is not a necessary being, since you will have proved that the existence of reality does not depend on your pen existing in its intact state and that logic does not require the pen to exist in a constant state of being.

    An instant before I break it, God transports the pen to some other location in the universe, leaving me to break an exact duplicate. I’m sure you will say this is absurd, but can you actually disprove it?

    Note that I cannot use these admittedly ridiculous (but possible, given a sufficiently powerful God) scenarios to “unprove” a mathematical theorem. The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin singularity theorem has (I trust) been proved, and that’s the end of the story. I can’t postulate some bizarre physical happening and defeat it.

  119. 119
    daveS says:

    PS:

    In any case, you want a proof that your pen is not a necessary being in the same sense as God?

    I do concede this; however I made up this scenario purely as an attempt to show how some physical object may exist in every possible world.

  120. 120
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    If you say that a particular possible world exists, can you prove so?

    Ok, we have to clarify something here. What do you mean when you say (or think I say) that “a particular possible world exists”. I hope you realize that nobody is saying these other “possible worlds” actually exist out there somewhere. A “possible world” is merely a logically coherent description of how the world could be/have been, with only one “possible world” describing the actual world that exists. So, for example, there is a possible world in which Obama was never elected President. There is another possible world in which he was only elected for one term. There is another possible world in which he was elected for two terms. The third of these possible worlds corresponds to the actual world that exists. The other two are logically possible ways the world might have turned out. That, however, is not a claim there exists an actual world out there somewhere in which Obama was never elected president.

    So I really don’t know what you mean when you seem to think that I’m “asserting that this or that possible world definitely exists, without some support”. The only support I need to establish that some particular possible world exists is the fact that that possible world is not logically incoherent. This does not mean that the particular possible world is actualized out there somewhere. It only means that it is a logically coherent description of how a “world” could conceivably be. The existence of a universe that is the size of a single atom at some point in its history is logically possible and so there is a “possible world” in which the universe is the size of a single atom at some point in its history. The mere fact that this is logically coherent rules out the possibility of something like a pen being a necessary being like God, because there’s a logically possible description of reality that does not even allow for the existence of a pen, much less require the existence of a pen for the possibility of its own existence.

    BTW, if you need to postulate the existence of God in order avoid the possibility of falsifying the idea that your pen might be a necessary being, how does that help you?

  121. 121
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    I do concede this; however I made up this scenario purely as an attempt to show how some physical object may exist in every possible world.

    Ok, but then we need to define what you actually mean by “some physical object”. Do you merely mean that it is possible that there is some macro description of a particular object that could be actualized in every possible world? If that is the only requirement, then the identification of the object across possible worlds would be purely superficial. It would not be the same object as it would not be made of exactly the same particles in every possible world. If it is made of the very same particles in every possible world then that could not happen by chance but would require some agent capable of choosing to identify a particular set of particles that will come into existence and using those particular particles to make a particular object at some point in the history of the world it creates regardless of what else happens to be true in the world. So, yes, a physical object could conceivably exist in every possible world, but only as the creative product of a being like God.

  122. 122
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Ok, we have to clarify something here. What do you mean when you say (or think I say) that “a particular possible world exists”. I hope you realize that nobody is saying these other “possible worlds” actually exist out there somewhere.

    Yes, I take it nobody here holds that view.

    A “possible world” is merely a logically coherent description of how the world could be/have been, with only one “possible world” describing the actual world that exists. So, for example, there is a possible world in which Obama was never elected President.

    The key words are “logically coherent”. If Obama were never elected, then that sets in motion a whole cascade of changes if you will, and it’s not clear to me it’s possible to make all these changes to arrive at this possible world without running into contradictions.

    How do we know that this possible world is not self-contradictory? I would ask the same about any other possible world which is not the actual world.

    BTW, if you need to postulate the existence of God in order avoid the possibility of falsifying the idea that your pen might be a necessary being, how does that help you?

    Well, it might be the truth (although I the chances are slim I believe).

  123. 123
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Ok, but then we need to define what you actually mean by “some physical object”. Do you merely mean that it is possible that there is some macro description of a particular object that could be actualized in every possible world? If that is the only requirement, then the identification of the object across possible worlds would be purely superficial. It would not be the same object as it would not be made of exactly the same particles in every possible world. If it is made of the very same particles in every possible world then that could not happen by chance but would require some agent capable of choosing to identify a particular set of particles that will come into existence and using those particular particles to make a particular object at some point in the history of the world it creates regardless of what else happens to be true in the world. So, yes, a physical object could conceivably exist in every possible world, but only as the creative product of a being like God.

    I don’t have a good answer to this now. Obviously I would want the “configurations” of all these instances of the “same” object to be as similar as possible. So much so that identical measurements of each pen (say) would yield the exact same result. In principle of course, since all but one don’t actually exist.

    On the other hand, we were talking about possible worlds in which Obama lost, served one term, and served two terms, so I assume we are able to identify the three Obamas in those three possible worlds as the “same” somehow.

  124. 124
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On possible vs actualised worlds and contingent beings. The first two differ and this affects the last. It is for argument possible that in all worlds God may will that some x exist, but it is also possible that he wills that in at least one, x does not exist providing x is contingent. God, presumably being free to so decide in respect of a contingent being. I think that a being that God wills to exist in all worlds that are possible [as opposed to actualised] is in reality another rather roundabout way of saying a necessary being. But, I confess to being rather busy locally now. KF

    PS: I have pointed to the necessary contingency of anything made up of assembled components down to atoms, i.e. not being assembled implies not existing. And it is obvious that if something is formed form such parts, it is possible for parts to be either assembled or not assembled.

    PPS: A possible world is probably best conceived of as a reasonably complete in principle coherent description of a feasible state of affairs in a world. Whether the world is in thought or computer simulation or on the ground is immaterial to what such talk enables. NBs will be in all possible worlds, being connected to the framework for any world to exist. CB’s will exist in some but not in other “neighbouring” ones. Recall, some possible worlds are radically different from our familiar one.

  125. 125
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    I don’t have a good answer to this now. Obviously I would want the “configurations” of all these instances of the “same” object to be as similar as possible. So much so that identical measurements of each pen (say) would yield the exact same result. In principle of course, since all but one don’t actually exist.

    Well, “similar as possible” won’t do here if the proposition is that the pen is a necessary being. To make that claim is to say that it is logically necessary that that particular pen exist exactly as it is, right down to the subatomic level, and could not possibly have existed differently in any way or to any degree. Further, as KF has previously suggested, you would not be able to disassemble the pen into its component parts, as that would represent a different state of being. If the pen is a necessary being then it would be logically necessary for the pen to exist in its assembled form and be composed of the exact materials it is composed of right down to the subatomic level at all points in time, completely independent of any description of the rest of reality (such as the size and composition of the universe at any given moment) and it would have to be logically impossible for it to have not existed at any time or for it to have been composed of different matter to any degree.

    On the other hand, we were talking about possible worlds in which Obama lost, served one term, and served two terms, so I assume we are able to identify the three Obamas in those three possible worlds as the “same” somehow.

    Here you are raising some important points.

    Obama is a contingent being. Not only is there a possible world in which he only served one term and one in which he wasn’t elected at all, but there is also a possible world in which he was never born and never existed. There is no logical necessity for any particular predetermined selection of matter to form any particular contingent being in any possible world. When we talk about possible worlds where Obama served one term or was never elected, we’re talking about possible worlds that were accessible from our own world (in which he was born) up to the time of his first election and then his second. More generally we could say those possible worlds are accessible from any possible world in which he was born, with the ‘only served one term’ possible worlds accessible from worlds in which he was born and ran for president. But my point here is that our identification of “Obama” in these possible worlds is based on describing possible worlds that were accessible from a world in which he already existed and was identified, without there being any prior or eternal requirement for him to have existed and been composed of some specific selection of matter. We are simply picking up from after the point that some contingent being was born and named. As such, our identification of Obama across possible worlds is based on our identification of the contingent being actually existing in our own world at a time prior to the specified events that could have happened in the other possible worlds. (I’m not going to get into the possibility of his parents conceiving a different child but giving it the same name and of that child going on to run for president).

    Now, consider this issue of identification with respect to even a contingent being that exists in all possible worlds. That means that all possible worlds, no matter their description, must be accessible from some point at which the existence and identity of the necessary being is already a reality. This would mean that at time = 0 in all possible worlds, the necessary being must either already be in actual existence as a defined identity or else its defined identity must be fully determined, predestined and irrevocably and unalterably set on its course to actual existence in a way that is utterly independent of the rest of reality (hence the need for God to explain a contingent object that exists in all possible worlds). But note, I’m speaking here only of the issue of identity, even with respect to a contingent object that is said, in a strict sense, to exist in all possible worlds (as opposed to simply a ubiquitously actualized macro description). For a truly necessary being the requirements are far more strict, as I’ve already explained.

    Coming back to a contingent being like Obama, we can further consider the fact that cells in the body die and are replaced (for the most part) all the time. They can also lose limbs or have certain cells that die and are not replaced. This raises a question about the continuous locus of identity. If someone loses a leg, most of us wouldn’t be inclined to say that he was literally a different person, would we? People might use that expression sometimes if someone’s mood changes, especially over an extended period of time, but we typically acknowledge that, literally speaking, it is the same person. And certainly we don’t walk around thinking some people are becoming completely different people with different identities on a constant basis as the matter in their body changes. So we acknowledge a certain locus of identity that remains continuous in spite of physical changes and losses. What is it? Many here would say it is the immortal soul. I don’t believe there is an immortal soul that can consciously survive the death of the body, but I do believe there is an immaterial mind that both influences and is influenced (but neither reduced nor destroyed) by the physical brain and that serves as the continuous locus of identity. I believe God preserves this locus of identity in a static and unconscious state upon a person’s death and can, if he wishes, restore it to a form of his choosing at a future time.

  126. 126
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Well, “similar as possible” won’t do here if the proposition is that the pen is a necessary being. To make that claim is to say that it is logically necessary that that particular pen exist exactly as it is, right down to the subatomic level, and could not possibly have existed differently in any way or to any degree.

    And I think it is conceivable that the pens in the various possible worlds could be identical down to the subatomic level. God could ensure that, couldn’t He?

    Further, as KF has previously suggested, you would not be able to disassemble the pen into its component parts, as that would represent a different state of being. If the pen is a necessary being then it would be logically necessary for the pen to exist in its assembled form and be composed of the exact materials it is composed of right down to the subatomic level at all points in time, completely independent of any description of the rest of reality (such as the size and composition of the universe at any given moment) and it would have to be logically impossible for it to have not existed at any time or for it to have been composed of different matter to any degree.

    Well, again, couldn’t God prevent the pen from being disassembled, just as he prevents it from being broken? If I try and take it apart, he immediately transports it somewhere else, leaving me holding a duplicate.

    Now I do admit I have a problem here of the pen changing over time and being influenced by the different surroundings in the various possible worlds, so I still don’t know if I have a proper response to this.

    Now, can we apply the same reasoning to the Christian God (including Jesus)?

    Suppose Adam and Eve had obeyed God (which I assume you accept could have happened in a possible world), and God never appeared on Earth in human form as Jesus, there would be no need for the New Covenant, etc.

    In that possible world, would God have “existed differently” than He has in the actual world? His interactions with humans would have been different.

    This is really the only question I have regarding the last three paragraphs.

  127. 127
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    And I think it is conceivable that the pens in the various possible worlds could be identical down to the subatomic level. God could ensure that, couldn’t He?

    Sure. Conceivably. As I’ve said a few times now, it would require a being like God in order to make that even potentially possible. This means that for your pen to exist with its precise current identity in all possible worlds as a “necessary being” in the weak sense you’ve been using the term would require that God exist as a necessary being in the true and strong sense of the term.

    But now I’m confused again, because if you recognize that in order for your proposition to even be possible God has to exist, then what is the point of your argument? What am I missing here? What is the purpose of this idea you’ve floated that a pen might be a necessary being? What are you hoping to accomplish by arguing a proposition that would require God’s existence?

    Now I do admit I have a problem here of the pen changing over time and being influenced by the different surroundings in the various possible worlds, so I still don’t know if I have a proper response to this.

    Now, can we apply the same reasoning to the Christian God (including Jesus)?

    Suppose Adam and Eve had obeyed God (which I assume you accept could have happened in a possible world), and God never appeared on Earth in human form as Jesus, there would be no need for the New Covenant, etc.

    Well, as I’ve said here a few times (though you may have missed it), I’m not a Trinitarian, so I don’t believe that Jesus is Almighty God, that Being that exists necessarily at the root of all reality, both possible and actual.

    In that possible world, would God have “existed differently” than He has in the actual world? His interactions with humans would have been different.

    Having different interactions with humans in response to differing human behavior does not threaten God’s existence or identity as a necessary being, so I’m not sure that I’m following your point here.

  128. 128
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Sure. Conceivably. As I’ve said a few times now, it would require a being like God in order to make that even potentially possible. This means that for your pen to exist with its precise current identity in all possible worlds as a “necessary being” in the weak sense you’ve been using the term would require that God exist as a necessary being in the true and strong sense of the term.

    Acknowledged, sorry I missed this earlier.

    But now I’m confused again, because if you recognize that in order for your proposition to even be possible God has to exist, then what is the point of your argument? What am I missing here? What is the purpose of this idea you’ve floated that a pen might be a necessary being? What are you hoping to accomplish by arguing a proposition that would require God’s existence?

    Well, the claim was put forth (by someone who does believe in God) that it is impossible for a physical object to be a necessary being, whether God exists or not, presumably. I’m exploring whether that’s really the case. I hope to understand better whether it’s true. If that happens, I have accomplished something, IMHO, since I will then understand necessary beings (in this weak sense) better.

    Having different interactions with humans in response to differing human behavior does not threaten God’s existence or identity as a necessary being, so I’m not sure that I’m following your point here.

    I had in mind taking your statement about the pen:

    To make that claim is to say that it is logically necessary that that particular pen exist exactly as it is, right down to the subatomic level, and could not possibly have existed differently in any way or to any degree.

    and applying it to God (minus the party about the subatomic level), perhaps arguing that God “could have existed differently”.

  129. 129
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    Acknowledged, sorry I missed this earlier.

    No problem.

    Well, the claim was put forth (by someone who does believe in God) that it is impossible for a physical object to be a necessary being, whether God exists or not, presumably. I’m exploring whether that’s really the case. I hope to understand better whether it’s true. If that happens, I have accomplished something, IMHO, since I will then understand necessary beings (in this weak sense) better.

    I agree with that person’s claim. As I’ve said, your use of “necessary being” in a weak sense really just means something that exists in all possible worlds. But that fact, even if true, would not make something necessary. Something that is necessary will automatically exist in all possible worlds, but existing in all possible worlds does not automatically make something necessary.

    In other words, this works:

    1) Any Necessary Being exists in all possible worlds.
    2) God is a Necessary Being.
    3) Therefore, God exists in all possible worlds.

    But this doesn’t:

    1) Any Necessary Being exists in all possible worlds.
    2) My pen exists in all possible worlds.
    3) Therefore, my pen is a Necessary Being

    The logic of necessary being does not flow in both directions as there are logically possible reasons why something could exist in all possible worlds without having necessary being, but it is logically impossible for a necessary being not to exist in all possible worlds.

    There are at least two reasons that this other person (was it KF?) said (quite rightly) that it is impossible for a physical object to be a necessary being (in the true sense of that term).

    First, there is no logical necessity for any given physical object to exist in an assembled state and be composed of (or have its being in) a specific subset of matter. On the contrary, any physical object is made up of constituent parts which logic dictates can be either in an orientation that corresponds to the assembled object or in an orientation that does not correspond to the assembled object, and this at both the macro and micro scale. This means there are possible worlds where that object does not have its assembled form or does not exist with its precise identity (in the sense of being composed of the same matter right down to the sub-atomic level). [1]

    Second, physical objects cannot exist independent of an external spacetime context and are therefore, by definition, contingent.

    So a physical object can never be a necessary being in the true sense of the term, and equivocating on the meaning to allow for a weaker sense really isn’t very helpful to you if your purpose to properly understand this issue (as you’ve said is the case) rather than simply argue for a predetermined position.

    ——————
    [1] It should be noted that when we allow for the possibility that a physical object might exist in all possible worlds with its precise identity due to the will and action of God, we are not really saying that the logical fact that its constituent parts can exist in a disassembled orientation ceases to be true, per se, but merely that it is impossible to override the will and action of God where he has decided that it will come to exist and never be disassembled. However, the objection could still be raised that it was logically possible for God not to have decided to ensure the precise existence of the object and so there are still possible worlds in which that object does not exist with its precise identity, but they would have been utterly inaccessible from the actual world at all times.

  130. 130
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Maybe I should use the term “Nezesary” instead. That’s what kicked off this entire discussion (with KF), whether a physical object could exist in all possible worlds, and that’s the issue I’m specifically interested in. Now apparently KF believes that Nezesary -> Necessary, but I won’t attempt to argue directly that the pen is a necessary being in the sense you are using. I think you’ve shown that’s going to be very difficult (perhaps impossible).

  131. 131
    Autodidaktos says:

    HeKS,
    “The logic of necessary being does not flow in both directions as there are logically possible reasons why something could exist in all possible worlds without having necessary being…”

    I’m afraid I disagree, though being but an amateur, I could very well be wrong. But from what I have understood, the relation between necessity and existence in all possible worlds is a biconditional i.e.,

    []X For all y such that y is a world, it is true that X exists in y

  132. 132
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    Maybe I should use the term “Nezesary” instead. That’s what kicked off this entire discussion (with KF), whether a physical object could exist in all possible worlds, and that’s the issue I’m specifically interested in. Now apparently KF believes that Nezesary -> Necessary, but I won’t attempt to argue directly that the pen is a necessary being in the sense you are using. I think you’ve shown that’s going to be very difficult (perhaps impossible).

    With respect to that bold statement, I assume you’re referring to this recent comment by KF:

    I think that a being that God wills to exist in all worlds that are possible [as opposed to actualised] is in reality another rather roundabout way of saying a necessary being.

    I would need KF to clarify his meaning here, because there’s some ambiguity in what point exactly he’s intending to convey, but I’d like to venture a guess here as it seems to me that there are two possible meanings to this statement that would be consistent with one of the points I made in my last comment. Here is what I said again:

    It should be noted that when we allow for the possibility that a physical object might exist in all possible worlds with its precise identity due to the will and action of God, we are not really saying that the logical fact that its constituent parts can exist in a disassembled orientation ceases to be true, per se, but merely that it is impossible to override the will and action of God where he has decided that it will come to exist and never be disassembled. However, the objection could still be raised that it was logically possible for God not to have decided to ensure the precise existence of the object and so there are still possible worlds in which that object does not exist with its precise identity, but they would have been utterly inaccessible from the actual world at all times.

    One possible meaning of what KF said is that God willing something to be the case makes it impossible for it not to be the case, which makes it necessarily true in any possible world. However, if this is what KF means, it would seem to relate more to a necessarily true proposition or state of affairs (or something of that general sort) derived from the power of God rather than relating to necessary being. In reality, what we’re really doing in this case is limiting our collection of possible worlds down from the full set of logically possible worlds to only those that are practically or physically possible given the constraints that would be created by any actual and definite creative choices God might make prior to or at the moment of creation.

    I suspect this is not what KF meant. Instead, I’m inclined to think that he is saying something more in line with this portion of my comment:

    the objection could still be raised that it was logically possible for God not to have decided to ensure the precise existence of the object [i.e. it was logically possible for him to have chosen differently] and so there are still possible worlds in which that object does not exist with its precise identity

    This would mean that even if God actually decided from time zero that some particular selection of matter would form a particular physical object regardless of what other facts obtained in the world, it is logically possible that he could have decided otherwise, and so even under these circumstances the object would not exist in all possible worlds, since the collection of possible worlds would include those that would have proceeded in the absence of God making that decision, which means no physical object could even have Nezesary Being (i.e. exist in all possible worlds in spite of its existence not being logically necessary).

    This would lead us to the conclusion that the only things that God would truly will to exist in absolutely every possible world would be things that no world external to God could logically exist without, which would be immaterial abstract objects (like the number 2) and concepts (like “twoness”). It seems that these kinds of things would be logically necessary with respect to any possible world, but unlike a personal being such as God, they couldn’t stand in any kind of causal relation to existence (or anything else).

    I ultimately think that this is the proper understanding once we follow the rabbit hole all the way down, which brings us back to the conclusion that no physical object can have either Necessary Being or even Nezesary Being.

  133. 133
    HeKS says:

    Autodidaktos,

    I’m afraid I disagree, though being but an amateur, I could very well be wrong. But from what I have understood, the relation between necessity and existence in all possible worlds is a biconditional i.e.

    As per my comment at #132, this depends on precisely where we draw the cut-off line for what it means for a world to be “logically possible”. If we mean it pragmatically, we might be inclined to say that it is logically impossible for a world to exist that contradicts a definite decision made about the world by God. If we take that view then it would be logically possible for an object to have precisely the same identity in all possible worlds even though the object is contingent on many levels, but this could only be the case if it were the express decision of God that it be so.

    On the other hand, if we take the purely logical approach in defining what constitutes a possible world then the collection of possible worlds will also include all those worlds in which God had not made the decision in question, and in this case it would then be logically impossible for anything to exist in all possible worlds unless it has true necessary being in the sense that no possible world could exist in its absence. In this case there would be a one-to-one correspondence between necessary beings and things that exist in all possible worlds, such that by knowing one condition was true you would know the other condition was true as well.

    This latter approach is the one I personally favor, but I can at least understand the thinking behind the more limited pragmatic approach.

  134. 134
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS & DS, I am still a bit taken up locally, but my general observation is that no composite entity made up from assembled parts can be anything but contingent. This specifically involves material entities such as a pen. That a given pen [?] may conceivably exist in all actualised worlds does not mean that it would exist in all possible worlds. The obvious and repeatedly stated point is, if parts are assembled to create an entity P, in possible world Wm, then there is a neighbouring possible world Wn in which the relevant parts are simply not assembled. Statements about in all worlds God creates P, boil down to ether being about all actualised worlds [“likely” 1, possibly more than 1], or else fail to address that God would be sovereign and free to choose whether or not P will be assembled. That is, for a composite entity P, there must be possible worlds in which it is not assembled, on theism. On general terms, the neighbouring worlds Wm and Wn suffice to make the same point. KF

    PS: All of this is functioning as a tangential and even distractive discussion that in my view is not particularly productive, the matter at stake having been reasonably addressed long since.

  135. 135
    HeKS says:

    KF,

    HeKS & DS, I am still a bit taken up locally, but my general observation is that no composite entity made up from assembled parts can be anything but contingent. This specifically involves material entities such as a pen. That a given pen [?] may conceivably exist in all actualised worlds does not mean that it would exist in all possible worlds. The obvious and repeatedly stated point is, if parts are assembled to create an entity P, in possible world Wm, then there is a neighbouring possible world Wn in which the relevant parts are simply not assembled. Statements about in all worlds God creates P, boil down to ether being about all actualised worlds [“likely” 1, possibly more than 1], or else fail to address that God would be sovereign and free to choose whether or not P will be assembled. That is, for a composite entity P, there must be possible worlds in which it is not assembled, on theism. On general terms, the neighbouring worlds Wm and Wn suffice to make the same point. KF

    Yes, Ultimately I agree, though my thoughts on this are expressed more fully in 132 and 133 in terms of understanding the thinking behind a certain pragmatic limitation on what is meant by “possible world”, even if I don’t personally agree with that limitation and think possible worlds more appropriately include worlds where God made different choices. This eliminates the only conceivable grounds for a contingent object existing in all possible worlds.

  136. 136
    Autodidaktos says:

    HeKS,

    Given that God is a free agent, what He wills to create, He does so contingently. Thus, there is a possible world wherein God creates nothing at all.

  137. 137
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    With respect to that bold statement, I assume you’re referring to this recent comment by KF:

    I think that a being that God wills to exist in all worlds that are possible [as opposed to actualised] is in reality another rather roundabout way of saying a necessary being.

    That is certainly relevant to our discussion,, but I specifically have in mind the statements KF has made to the effect that any contingent being fails to exist in at least one possible world. If I’m misreading his comments, of course any correction is welcome.

    This would mean that even if God actually decided from time zero that some particular selection of matter would form a particular physical object regardless of what other facts obtained in the world, it is logically possible that he could have decided otherwise, and so even under these circumstances the object would not exist in all possible worlds, since the collection of possible worlds would include those that would have proceeded in the absence of God making that decision, which means no physical object could even have Nezesary Being (i.e. exist in all possible worlds in spite of its existence not being logically necessary).

    Perhaps. But I will say again that it might be the case that there is, for whatever reason, just one possible world (a minority view, but not a crazy one, as fair as I can tell).

  138. 138
    daveS says:

    BTW, are we all agreed that this is a good definition of “possible world”?

    A possible world is a complete description of the way reality could be, down to the last detail, encompassing every proposition’s truth or falsehood in a consistent manner.

  139. 139
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,

    Much of the above is simply going back over what has already been said and/or is readily accessible.

    On possible world, I suggest: in principle complete description of a possible state of affairs, which is feasible (which requires, coherent).

    A contingent being is commonly described as being in at least one PW, and absent in at least one other. In the case of a composite entity made up from parts, the latter would trivially be a closely similar world in which the parts are not assembled.

    A necessary being would be in any PW, and the simplest way to see this is that NB’s are embedded in the framework for any world to exist. A serious candidate NB will be either impossible [as a square circle is impossible] or it will be in at least one PW and by universality in all including our familiar world. Typically, to propose that a given NB does not exist will end in contradictions; which may or may not be easy to find and/or acknowledge.

    I find approaching from the framework of reality point of view allows us to see the point of NBs more clearly.

    As does a case like two-ness . . . try to imagine a PW without distinction leading to dichotomy A vs ~A thus two-ness. Impossible. 2-ness never began, cannot end, is not assembled from material parts etc. NBs are going to be things like numbers, necessarily true propositions, and minds. Indeed theists have classically suggested that the abstractions have been eternally contemplated by God.

    And, on pain of reducing our own responsible rational freedom to absurdity, we are morally governed, requiring a First Sufficient Cause at world-root level capable of bearing the weight of ought. It is significant that repeatedly when it has been pointed out that there is only one serious candidate . . . the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of loyalty and the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature . . . and alternatives have been invited to sit at the table of comparative difficulties, there has typically been a studious silence in a context where ever so many objectors are all too eager to find something to pounce on.

    This brings us full circle to the point of the thread. Evolutionary materialistic scientism and fellow travellers are in the same general class of worldview entities as the range of traditional religions.

    Likewise, it is relatively easy to show that generic ethical theism and the Judaeo-Christian tradition within it are responsible worldview stances. Despite, the talking points too many radical secularists and fellow travellers today try to use to dismiss this view.

    KF

  140. 140
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Much of the above is simply going back over what has already been said and/or is readily accessible.

    On possible world, I suggest: in principle complete description of a possible state of affairs, which is feasible (which requires, coherent).

    Great. That sounds very close to the definition I posted.

    A contingent being is commonly described as being in at least one PW, and absent in at least one other. In the case of a composite entity made up from parts, the latter would trivially be a closely similar world in which the parts are not assembled.

    Maybe, maybe not. There is an “implicit axiom” being invoked here which states that you can complete the proposition concerning this unassembled composite entity to a full possible world consistently. I finally found a reference which addresses this issue in the book Ontology (bottom of page 288, starting at note #17) by Dale Jacquette. It’s quite technical, and I haven’t fully grasped it yet, but it does indicate there is a serious issue here.

  141. 141
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, no you are saying simply that a composite contingent being is an entity made up of assembled parts. Such a being, x, is possible when its composition does not entail the sort of inherent contradictions that make square circles impossible of being. That is x is WITHIN a possible world, where there is at least one such, our familiar world. All that we need is to start from this world, which is in principle describable. Then contemplate states of affairs where components x1, x2 . . . xn are assembled to give x, and the alternate possibility that they are not assembled. These are two neighbouring credibly possible futures, which are such that in one x is, in the other it is not. Indeed, we may assemble x then dis-assemble it in some cases. There is no camel’s nose under the tent of oh for a contingent being to be we have a SUPPRESSED grand description of a whole world — and we have gone nowhere but the near neighbourhood of our familiar world. At least one world is and is in principle describable and for simple cases we can see cases x and not-x, where the components x1, x2 . . . xn exist on both possible forks. There is utterly no need to project grand debates on suggested highly contentious issues when something so simple as this is there and something so accessible as this is there. Remember, we are in effect looking at a pen factory here!With all due respect to those looking for grand debates and putting up hyperskeptical objections, someone is patently making mountains out of mole-hills when we have a clear and obvious illustration of the point close at hand. KF

    PS: It should be obvious why I speak of in principle complete descriptions of world-level states of affairs. We can sufficiently describe to make the concept useful though we cannot execute the full descriptive task in practice.

  142. 142
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Well, I don’t expect to be able to take this debate much further, tbh. The discussion in Jacquette’s book is hard going.

    Nevertheless, I think it’s an interesting question, and maybe more difficult than it seems at first, given that we only have access to the actual world, and can’t examine what’s happening at each “fork”.

  143. 143
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, go get two cheap pens like the old fashioned Bics used in school days. Disassemble one, leave the other intact. Is it really that difficult that the “fork” between pen A or pen B being the one disassembled is some great leap of issues? That there is some grand dark myster about the possible worlds in which pen A is the one disassembled and one where pen B is? That smacks of falling into the selectively hyperskeptical by way of mountain out of mole hill. But then, a lot of contemporary atheism is about denial of responsible, reasonable freedom, blind to the consequence that at that point they have undermined reasoned discussion and the point of a discussion. KF

  144. 144
    daveS says:

    KF,

    In your pen illustration, if I attempt to disassemble pen A, God could instantly switch the pens, causing me to disassemble pen B. In that manner, pen A would be protected from disassembly.

    Obviously such examples dealing with pens are trivial (by design), but I think the question of exactly what and how many possible worlds “exist” is important. Is there just 1? Some finite number? Infinitely many?

    It’s easy to say that such-and-such a possible world exists, but can we really back that up? It “seems” as though the two worlds where the pen is alternately whole and in pieces are sufficiently close so that if one world is possible, so is the other, but could we be wrong? Again, we always have access only to the actual world, and claims about what’s happening in other “forks” are untestable.

  145. 145
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, God is a free agent in any world. So, a world in which pen A is disassembled is possible and distinct from another possible world in which pen B is disassembled. Or for that matter another neighbouring world in which neither is disassembled by our choice . . . we too have responsible freedom. That we have access to a world in which we choose to disassemble A, does not mean that prior to that choice we could never have disassembled B. That possibility means the A world and the B world are possible worlds, where obviously ability to disassemble one pen implies ability to disassemble the other. Just to bring out the point suppose the pen to be disassembled is chosen by tossing a fair coin. If H, A, if T, B. In short, the real problem is refusal to accept that choice is real, which directly undermines reasoned discussion. If we are just flapping mouths and moving fingers driven by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity, then rationality has been lost. Of course, this goes to the heart of too many debates over the design inference. In so going, the fundamental irrationality of rejecting responsible rational freedom to act intelligently and by real choice is brought out. KF

  146. 146
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, God is a free agent in any world. So, a world in which pen A is disassembled is possible… (snip)

    It might be the case that God always chooses to protect pen A. Do we know otherwise?

    Just to bring out the point suppose the pen to be disassembled is chosen by tossing a fair coin. If H, A, if T, B. In short, the real problem is refusal to accept that choice is real, which directly undermines reasoned discussion.

    Ok, but I don’t think that changes anything. It could be that God chooses to protect pen A from disassembly regardless of the outcome of the coin flip. If tails comes up, He doesn’t have to do anything.

    I don’t think this particular line of discussion is going to be productive. But to sum up, I suspect if you propose that some world is indeed possible, I can come up with some (perhaps far-fetched) reason to doubt it. And there’s no way to verify the existence of this candidate possible world, of course, so I don’t think you can prove I’m wrong.

  147. 147
    daveS says:

    Edit to second sentence of second paragraph:

    “But to sum up, I suspect if you propose that some not-actual world is indeed possible,”

  148. 148
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    It might be the case that God always chooses to protect pen A. Do we know otherwise?

    The problem is that what we’re talking about with respect to possible worlds is logical possibility. As such it wouldn’t even matter if God actually always chooses to protect the pen, because it is still logically possible that he could have made a different choice, which means there are possible worlds in which he doesn’t protect the pen.

    You’re also ignoring a very important point here, which is that if the pen is prevented form disassembly because God chooses to supernaturally protect it from disassembly then that tells us something about the nature of God, but it tells us nothing about the nature of the pen. If that is how disassembly of the pen is prevented then there need be nothing special or “necessary” about the pen. God could choose to protect any normal contingent pen like that. To claim that some object is a necessary being is to claim something about the inherent nature of the thing, that by it own nature it needs to exist. If some object needs to be protected by God in order to maintain its being and, in the absence of God’s protection, could be unmade then it is, by definition, contingent.

  149. 149
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Responding to your second point first:

    You’re also ignoring a very important point here, which is that if the pen is prevented form disassembly because God chooses to supernaturally protect it from disassembly then that tells us something about the nature of God, but it tells us nothing about the nature of the pen.

    Yes, admittedly so. I’m only interested in whether the pen is “Nezesary” here.

    The problem is that what we’re talking about with respect to possible worlds is logical possibility. As such it wouldn’t even matter if God actually always chooses to protect the pen, because it is still logically possible that he could have made a different choice, which means there are possible worlds in which he doesn’t protect the pen.

    I’ll have to think more about this. In my post I meant to assume that God will protect pen A under any circumstances, meaning in every possible world—that’s just how He operates—pen A must be kept immutable (for some reason known to Him).

  150. 150
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Revisiting this:

    The problem is that what we’re talking about with respect to possible worlds is logical possibility. As such it wouldn’t even matter if God actually always chooses to protect the pen, because it is still logically possible that he could have made a different choice, which means there are possible worlds in which he doesn’t protect the pen.

    Perhaps I’m mixing up different kinds of possibility? I can see how it could be a problem proposing or assuming that it’s logically impossible for God to let the pen be disassembled. Perhaps even if he would never allow that to happen (so it would be impossible in some other subjective sense).

    An example, from Deuteronomy:

    Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

    On the other hand, perhaps it is logically possible for God to leave or forsake you?

    If I am talking about something other than logical possible worlds, then my line of argument won’t work.

  151. 151
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,

    again, we are not dealing with actualised worlds but possible ones. If in actualised worlds God chooses x, as God is free in any world, God could have chosen y where y != x.

    This means, under circumstances as discussed, there are for example neighbouring possible worlds Wa and Wb in which say the pens disassembled are A and B respectively.

    That a Bic-style pen can be disassembled is obvious [I used to routinely do just that, esp when ink ran low and there was a tendency to form blobs of ink, to blow into the open end of the ink refill, or sometimes to swap colours, etc . . . and nowadays to get the tubes for angling or similar purposes], and that it is A or B can even be directed by tossing a fair coin, showing that there is an obvious distribution of possible worlds. I assume the world description in principle issue is already sufficiently addressed on in effect start with our observed world and look in its neighbourhood.

    The bottom-line again is that possible and actualised are not equal, and the freedom of God and of other agents is critical.

    Where, without that freedom, we ourselves become irrational, as reasoning and communicating meaningfully critically depend on responsible, rational freedom to choose to follow an argument’s logic [as opposed to blindly execute a GIGO-limited process on cause-effect chains in some computational substrate] and to then express one’s own meaningful case freely, rationally and responsibly. Absent that, the very discussion we have here would utterly break down into irrational blind chance and mechanical necessity under control of GIGO in computing substrates themselves shaped by non-rational forces.

    (This is of course a key failing of the evolutionary materialistic paradigm that is a dominant but fatally flawed school of thought — and so the issue comes back to the self-refuting nature of evolutionary materialistic scientism and/or of any species of utter determinism or schemes that reduce mind to blind computation on chance and/or mechanical necessity acting in GIGO-limited computational substrates. Until such self falsification by self contradiction is faced and turned away from, essentially anything that is about rationality will trace back to that failure and deadlock on refusal to rethink.)

    KF

  152. 152
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS,

    again, we are not dealing with actualised worlds but possible ones. If in actualised worlds God chooses x, as God is free in any world, God could have chosen y where y != x.

    Yes, I understand we are talking about possible worlds. I’m not sure where I’ve indicated otherwise, but I’ve been clear throughout that the topic is possible worlds. And there is at least one possible world (namely the actual world). Some think there is exactly one possible world, and although that seems wrong to me, I don’t think I can knock that hypothesis down.

    Tbh, I would use the same arguments you are using: material objects “obviously” could have been configured differently, God could have acted differently at some juncture, Bill Buckner could have fielded the ball successfully in Game 6, and so on. But again, we’re trapped in this actual world, and if there is just one possible world, the God could not have chosen y. Furthemore, if it’s not logically possible to extend the single proposition “God chose y” to a complete possible world, then it’s not the case that God could have chosen y.

  153. 153
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    I’ll respond as soon as I can (probably tonight). I have some work I have to get done this afternoon.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  154. 154
    daveS says:

    Thanks, HeKS.

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