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Prominent Atheists Fundamentally Misunderstand First-Cause Arguments

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Recently, a debate was held in London between theist philosopher Rabbi Daniel Rowe and atheist philosopher A.C. Grayling. The subject under dispute, unsurprisingly, was God’s existence. It’s a very interesting debate to watch. I’d never heard of Rowe before, but I was familiar with Grayling, who is sometimes referred to as the Fifth Horseman of New Atheism.

Generally speaking, the “New Atheists” haven’t shown any natural genius for philosophy. Grayling, though being a professional philosopher, does not prove to be the exception here. Instead, he shows that even when they have the benefit of philosophical training, it does them very little good when they engage in debates over God’s existence. I think it would be pretty uncontroversial to say that Rowe won the debate rather decisively. Grayling often seemed so far out of his depth that it was even making me uncomfortable. I can’t imagine how Grayling must have been feeling.

In an article at ENV, David Klinghoffer has pointed out that Jerry Coyne agrees. Writing at his blog, Why Evolution is True, Coyne says:

I have to admit to finding the prospect of an orthodox rabbi holding his own in a debate with Dr. Grayling on God’s existence rather disheartening, but I’m afraid that’s exactly what went down the other night in London.

If there’s anything inaccurate in this description of the debate it’s Coyne’s characterization of Rowe as merely “holding his own”.  Anyone who watches the debate will see that Rowe did much more than that. What I want to comment on, however, is the argument that Coyne thinks he would have used were he in Grayling’s shoes, because it demonstrates that prominent figures within the New Atheism movement (or whatever you want to call it), for all their bluster about the failure of arguments for God’s existence, often don’t even understand the arguments.

Coyne begins:

The reason that Grayling didn’t crush Rowe was based on one thing: Anthony wasn’t up on the responses of physicists to the “fine tuning” and “first cause” arguments for God.

Ok, so presumably Coyne is up on these responses and Grayling would have “crushed” Rowe if only he’d known what Coyne knows. So what does Coyne know? He continues:

The rabbi made three arguments:

  • You can’t get a universe from nothing; there is a “law” that everything that begins has a cause. Ergo, God. In response to Krauss’s book about how you can get a universe from a quantum vacuum, Rowe responded, as do many theologians, that “nothing” is not a quantum vacuum—it’s just “nothing.”

I’ve heard this many times, and what strikes me is that theologians never define what they mean by “nothing”. Empty space, the quantum vacuum, isn’t nothing, they say so what is? In the end, I’ve realized that by “nothing,” theologians mean “that from which only God could have produced something.” At any rate, the “law of causation” doesn’t appear to hold in modern physics, and is not even part of modern physics, which has no such law. Some events really do seem uncaused.

Here we see a prime example of the New Atheists’ lack of familiarity with very basic philosophical concepts coming back to bite them. Coyne faults Rowe for not defining exactly what “nothing” is, apparently under the impression that theologians are using the word in some special sense (they aren’t). If “nothing” is not a quantum vacuum, asks Coyne, then what is it? This seems fit for a comedy routine, because the answer is so painfully obvious. You see, “nothing” is not anything. “Nothing” is the complete absence of anything at all. You can’t describe “nothing” and assign it particular characteristics or properties because it is the complete lack of characteristics or properties. It is non-being. No energy, no fields, no laws, no particles, virtual or otherwise. It’s absolutely nothing. That something cannot come from nothing is not a law of physics, per se, but of metaphysics. One cannot hope to legitimize the notion of a universe popping into existence from absolutely nothing by pointing to apparent cases of unpredictable probabilistic effects taking place within some existing physical medium and labeling those cases as ‘seemingly uncaused’. There is no relevant connection between these propositions. To suggest that something might simply arise uncaused out of absolutely nothing at all is to not only court absurdity but to settle down and have kids with it.

Furthermore, Coyne seems to misunderstand what it means to say that God created the universe “out of nothing”. He claims to have realized that “by ‘nothing,’ theologians mean ‘that from which only God could have produced something.’” Here he seems to think that theologians mean God somehow fashioned creation using something called “nothing”. Of course, this is not at all what is meant. The concept of creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) means that God did not fashion creation out of some already existing material substance. Instead, God brought an entirely new material creation into existence through an exertion of power.

All that having been said, Coyne’s inability to grasp what is meant by “nothing” is really just the first part of the problem, because he fails to understand the overall First-Cause argument itself and how the concept of “nothing” fits into it. Coyne says:

Also, Rowe didn’t explain how one can get a god from nothing. Theologians like him always punt at this point, saying that God is the Cause that Didn’t Require a Cause, because He Made Everything. But that is bogus. What was God doing before he made something? Hanging around eternally, bored out of his mind?

The two comments in italics show Coyne’s fundamental misunderstanding of the logic of the argument (not to mention his misunderstanding of the very concept of God).

What Rowe is arguing is that all things that are extensional (which includes spacetime itself) are finite and cannot ever transition from being finite to being infinite, which means that they cannot occupy an infinite amount of space and they cannot exist for an actually infinite amount of time. This means that, as a matter of logical necessity, they cannot have existed eternally into the past, and so at some time in the deep past we must necessarily come to a hard beginning point where there was not anything extensional in existence at all.

Now, this is the point at which atheists like Coyne go wrong in their understanding of the argument, because they evidently think the argument asserts that, at this point, there really was absolutely nothing at all in existence. But that’s not correct.

The argument can be more properly understood as presenting two options here. It says that at the point that no extensional things existed, either:

A) There was a complete absence of being and so actually nothing at all, or

B) There was something else in existence that was not extensional.

We can then consider the implications of these two options.

If Option A were true, and there were nothing at all in existence then, there would still be nothing at all in existence now. This implication is necessarily true, because from nothing, nothing comes. Option A, therefore, must be false.

This leaves us with Option B. We can know then, as a matter of logical necessity, that something non-extensional was in existence even at the point that there was nothing extensional in existence. This something, then, would exist necessarily and would be spaceless, timeless and immaterial, and the ground and cause of all extensional material things that subsequently came into existence, which would require that it be capable of exerting a significant amount of power.

Further arguments could be made (and quite often have been made) for the conclusion that this something must have also been personal and intelligent, but even without those further arguments we arrive at a First Cause of extensional reality that exists necessarily and is spaceless, timeless, immaterial, uncaused, necessary, and incredibly powerful, which are all qualities classically attributed to God.

When one properly understands the argument, it is easy to see that there was no need for Rowe to answer the questions that Coyne poses. There is no need to explain “how one can get a god from nothing”, because nobody is asserting such a thing ever happened. And to ask if God was “hanging around eternally, bored out of his mind” prior to creation is to fail to understand that time cannot have existed eternally into the past and so God would not have existed through an infinite number of past seconds. When one says that God has existed eternally, they mean that, at least prior to creation, God existed in the absence of time. They do not mean that God is just some really old guy who has been occupying himself by playing infinitely many hands of solitaire.

Coyne’s responses to the Fine-Tuning argument are no more compelling than his attempted rebuttal of the First-Cause argument and they have been answered in depth by others (see, for example, almost any debate with William Lane Craig). Coyne tries to downplay what we do know scientifically about the physical requirements for life in an attempt to weaken the force of the argument, wrongly identifies it as an argument from ignorance when it is actually a positive argument for design based on our universal experience of cause and effect and the principles by which we all consistently infer design, and he finally makes appeal to the possibility of a multiverse, but all of these are merely attempts to block a conclusion of theistic design that can be held with 100% certainty. Even if they were successful (and there’s no good reason to think they are), they would do nothing to change the fact that, based on what we do know at this point in time, theistic design is currently the best explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe for complex intelligent life, and by a large margin at that.

HeKS

279 Replies to “Prominent Atheists Fundamentally Misunderstand First-Cause Arguments

  1. 1
    HeKS says:

    Note: I would normally hang around to defend a post against potential challengers but I’m currently in the midst of a busy project so I probably won’t be around much.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  2. 2
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    I guess the New Atheists are too busy sexually harassing women to worry about philosophy:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....89821.html

    Funny how much in common they have with young Muslim immigrant men in Europe! Both groups need a connection with their fathers.

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    Anthony wasn’t up on the responses of physicists to the “fine tuning” and “first cause” arguments for God.

    I think Coyne is wrong here. Most physicists would be scratching their head. Or maybe that’s the response he had in mind.

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    Any bets on whether Coyne believes a quantum vacuum can both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same respect?

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    God cannot come from nothing but the universe can come from nothing. Coyne is such a genius!

  6. 6
    jlowder says:

    Not all atheists are guilty of the kind of mistakes Coyne makes:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/s.....g-himself/

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS:

    Coyne faults Rowe for not defining exactly what “nothing” is, apparently under the impression that theologians are using the word in some special sense (they aren’t). If “nothing” is not a quantum vacuum, asks Coyne, then what is it? This seems fit for a comedy routine, because the answer is so painfully obvious. You see, “nothing” is not anything. “Nothing” is the complete absence of anything at all. You can’t describe “nothing” and assign it particular characteristics or properties because it is the complete lack of characteristics or properties. It is non-being. No energy, no fields, no laws, no particles, virtual or otherwise. It’s absolutely nothing. That something cannot come from nothing is not a law of physics, per se, but of metaphysics. One cannot hope to legitimize the notion of a universe popping into existence from absolutely nothing by pointing to apparent cases of unpredictable probabilistic effects taking place within some existing physical medium and labeling those cases as ‘seemingly uncaused’. There is no relevant connection between these propositions. To suggest that something might simply arise uncaused out of absolutely nothing at all is to not only court absurdity but to settle down and have kids with it.

    Well said.

    There is a problem of understanding possible vs impossible and contingent vs necessary being, thence the causal explanation for contingent, possible beings. Serious candidate necessary beings are either impossible or actual. The former, as core characteristics (like those of a square circle) stand in mutual contradiction. The latter, because such a being is embedded in the framework for a world to exist.

    For simple but telling example, once there is distinct identity, antithesis exists, W = {A |~A} and two-ness necessarily is. Also, the jointly present triple first principles of right reason will be undeniable: LOI, LNC, LEM.

    God, of course is in the first instance a serious candidate necessary being, while a now commonly suggested parody . . . the flying spaghetti monster . . . is at best a contingent, possible being. That the latter is offered in parody of the former, speaks volumes. (Where of course active, explicit denial or implicit dismissal of the reality of God implies a claim that the God of ethical theism is impossible of being.)

    In my further view, we are inescapably under moral government, and this demands that the root of reality be capable of grounding a world in which moral government is real. And those who suggest or imply that such is delusional should ponder how this pervades thought, starting with the sense of urgency towards truth that is a premise of responsible rationality.

    And more, but enough for the moment.

    KF

  8. 8
    HeKS says:

    jlowder,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Just to be clear, I never suggested that all atheists make the kinds of mistakes that Coyne makes. The claim of the article (and the title) is that there are prominent members within the atheist community, particularly among those called the “New Atheists”, who spend a lot of time talking about how silly theistic arguments are when it is painfully clear that they do not even understand the arguments. Presumably, you would not disagree that Grayling and Coyne are prominent members within this community, so I would have to guess that you agree with the claim of the article. The theistic arguments may or may not succeed, but they are not frivolous or silly, and if they fail it is not for any of the reasons that these “New Atheists” typically cite.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  9. 9
    jlowder says:

    HeKS: I never thought you suggested that ALL atheists make the kinds of mistakes that Coynes makes. It was not my intention to suggest otherwise. I should have worded my comment differently. I apologize. I should have said something like, “I agree with the gist of this article; in fact, I’ve made similar criticisms of Coyne myself…”

    You are correct that I agree with you that theistic arguments like the kalam argument, the so-called ‘fine-tuning’ argument (which I think should be called the ‘life-permitting’ argument), and so forth are not silly.

    But then I am a weird atheist who thinks there is some evidence for theism, but that evidence is outweighed by the evidence for naturalism.

  10. 10
    Origenes says:

    Am I correct when I understand that part of the first-cause argument is that God is a necessary being in any possible world? Because any possible world would require God as a first cause and would require God to keep it into existence? So, given the existence of our universe (a possible world), God must exist?

    When we say that God is a ‘necessary being’, in what sense does ‘necessary’ explain God’s existence? God’s existence is necessitated by … what?

  11. 11
    HeKS says:

    jlowder,

    I see. Thanks for the clarification. I did read your linked article as well as another on why you seem to think the Kalam fails. I don’t agree with your conclusions but I’m strapped for time at the moment. Maybe we can discuss some of these issues at a future time.

  12. 12
    HeKS says:

    Origenes,

    Am I correct when I understand that part of the first-cause argument is that God is a necessary being in any possible world? Because any possible world would require God as a first cause and would require God to keep it into existence? So, given the existence of our universe (a possible world), God must exist?

    That would essentially be the implication, yes. The only point I’m not sure I would insist on is that material creation would necessarily require God to keep it in existence. That may be true, but I’m not sure it follows as a matter of logical necessity and I’m not aware of any specific argument for that proposition. But the rest I would agree with. In any possible world (which is necessarily a description of some state of existence), something that possesses the characteristics mentioned in this article that are classically attributed to God will necessarily exist.

    When we say that God is a ‘necessary being’, in what sense does ‘necessary’ explain God’s existence? God’s existence is necessitated by … what?

    The term “necessary” has been applied to God in a few slightly different ways. In the context of this article, I mean that the existence of anything extensional makes God’s existence logically necessary as the ground and cause of extensional reality. In any reality where you have “stuff”, it is logically impossible that you do not also have God.

    Of course, I acknowledge that some would object to this claim, and I’ve seen those objections, but I don’t personally find them compelling.

  13. 13
    Origenes says:

    HeKS,

    thank you for your response.

    Regarding my question,

    When we say that God is a ‘necessary being’, in what sense does ‘necessary’ explain God’s existence?

    are you, in effect, saying that ‘necessary’ does not explain the existence of God — assuming that logic (any possible world requires a creator) doesn’t bring Him into existence nor preserve His existence?

    IOWs do you agree that when we ask ‘What explains God’s existence?’ or ‘What keeps God into existence?’, the answer is not “Necessity”?

  14. 14
  15. 15

    Origenes @13:

    In this case necessity is an aspect of a logical argument. It is not a causal explanation. Necessity didn’t cause god to exist; it is logically necessary to posit god (assume it exists) in order to rationally explain the existence of contingent (extensional) entities (among other things).

  16. 16

    I’ve often remarked about how our interlocutors often seem abstract-impaired when it comes to various logical arguments. I’ve begun to wonder if it is some kind of mental or physical disorder comparable to psychopathy or color-blindness. They will say the most bizarre things as if what they are saying is responsive to the argument or as if it rebuts the argument.

    Are they born this way? Or does denialism cause a sort of self-inflicted impairment? As deeply atheist as I used to be, I never lost the capacity to recognize a sound logical argument no matter what I believed.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines,

    The core matter is possibility/ impossibility of being and contingency/ necessity of being.

    An impossible being is such that in no actual or potentially actual world, can it exist. This is because core characteristics stand in mutual contradiction, e.g. a square circle. (Note also, I have implied the context of possible worlds. A simple way is to look at clusters of variables, dynamics and propositions that define how a world is or may be.)

    A possible being would exist in at least one possible world, were that world actualised.

    Contingent beings would exist in one or more such worlds, but not all.

    For instance you or I are contingent. Like a fire exemplifies, such are dependent for existence on external, enabling on/off factors, so called necessary causal factors. (Necessary for the contingent being to exist.)

    A necessary being [in the ontological sense] is such that it has no dependence on external enabling factors, so a serious candidate will be either impossible or else actual. For instance two-ness is tied to distinct identity and thus is foundational to any world existing. It is a necessary being.

    Try to imagine two-ness coming to an end or beginning to exist. Futile. Necessary beings are eternal!

    That sounds strange to modern “scientific” ears.

    But it points to a deeper point. Nothing, non-being has no causal powers. Were there ever an utter nothing, such would forever obtain. That a world is, entails that something, at world root level, is a necessary being. (Where also, a serious candidate necessary being is either impossible or actual, tied to the logic of its core characteristics and what is required for a world to be.)

    In addition, we find ourselves inescapably under moral government. Even in reasoning we find ourselves under an urgency of truth and right. Were such delusional, it would undermine responsible rational mind.

    So, we face the IS-OUGHT gap at said world-root level.

    There must be an IS not only capable of causally grounding the world but also of grounding the moral world we inhabit.

    Such a being would not be caused, nor is it composite, etc.

    The best candidate is a mind, as to category, an eternal mind with power to call a world into being. And an inherently good mind.

    Where, such a serious candidate has long been on the table: the inherently good, creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    This is not religious dogma, I have defined a worldview entity often termed the God of the Philosophers, the God of ethical theism.

    If you doubt the assertion that this has been the only sustainably serious candidate, one is invited to simply submit another and proceed to comparative difficulties: _____________________ .

    So, God is not just a logical explanatory entity but an ontological- metaphysical one per the root of the world.

    And yes, as necessary, God would be at root of ANY possible world.

    KF

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, lack of proper education in first things; often compounded by evolutionary materialistic scientism and its inherently futile promise to effectively explain all. Of course the self referential incoherence in same sows deep worldviews confusion and cognitive impairment. KF

  19. 19
    daveS says:

    KF,

    For simple but telling example, once there is distinct identity, antithesis exists, W = {A |~A} and two-ness necessarily is. Also, the jointly present triple first principles of right reason will be undeniable: LOI, LNC, LEM.

    I think we had discussed this issue a while back. Do you have a logical argument (or a published reference containing such) for this?

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,

    one does not appeal to authority for what is self evident; just to the understanding mind.

    To comment you implicitly relied on the distinct identity of keys, letters, words, and so forth. Once distinct identity exists, instantly, the triple first principles of right reason obtain. In W = {A |~A}, A is distinct from ~A, no x in W is both A and not A, and no y in W is both or neither. By virtue of the distinction. And all of this was previously pointed out to you.

    If you have a reasonable alternative, kindly give it without self referentially resorting to what you seem to wish to undermine or deny: _____________________ (As in, kindly show us without using distinct identity and what it carries with it. I am confident you cannot.)

    A very classical remark on this is:

    1 Cor 14:7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. [ESV]

    KF

  21. 21
    Seqenenre says:

    “Instead, God brought an entirely new material creation into existence through an exertion of power.”

    I have no idea what this means.

    And another question: What exactly was the meaning of God’s existence before he created time, our universe, earth and humans?

  22. 22
    john_a_designer says:

    Leibnitz argued that there are two kinds of being: (1) contingent being and (2) necessary, or self-existent, being. Contingent beings or things (rocks, trees, books, ink, paper, planets or people etc.) cannot exist without a cause. By contrast, a necessary being does not require a cause. Everything we observe in the universe, including the universe as a whole, appears to be contingent. However, it is logically possible that whatever it is that caused the universe exists necessarily or, in other words, is self-existent. An eternally existing (or self-existing) transcendent being, does not require any other explanation because it is the explanation. To prove this simply ask yourself the question, ‘what caused the always existing something to exist?’ The answer should be obvious to anyone who considers the question honestly. Obviously, since it has always existed, it wasn’t caused by anything else, therefore, doesn’t need to be explained by anything else.

    The evidence from the big bang itself suggests that whatever caused the universe transcends the universe. Furthermore, if it is the cause of the universe it must, in some sense, have always existed. It must be eternal. Transcendence and eternality are attributes of what theists call God. So big bang cosmology gives us two thirds of what we mean by God.

    Theists also believe that God is personal. He has a mind and intelligence, volition and the ability to communicate with other personal beings. I would argue that for God to be the ultimate explanation He must be personal. If the eternally existing, transcendent being is not personal then we are back at an infinite regress. Because whatever it was that caused the universe must have created it freely and intentionally. In other words, there wasn’t anything that caused God to create the universe. He created it simply because he wanted to.

    Does this argument prove that God exists? No it doesn’t. However it does offer a viable, logical and rational alternative to naturalism and materialism, as well as other world views, like pantheism.

    In his book, Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science & Cosmology, R.C. Sproul, outlines the parameters of logic on this question– whether or not the idea of a necessarily existing being is logically valid– as follows:

    “Logic requires that if something exists contingently, it must have a cause. That is merely to say, if it is an effect it must have an antecedent cause. Logic does not require that if something exists, it must exist contingently or it must be an effect. Logic has no quarrel with the idea of self existent reality [an uncaused cause or necessary being]. It is possible for something to exist without an antecedent cause. It remains to be seen if it is logically necessary for something to exist without an antecedent cause. For now it is sufficient to see that self-existence is a logical possibility. The idea is rationally justified in the limited sense that it is not rationally falsified. Something is rationally falsified when it is shown to be formally or logically impossible.” (p172-173)

    Again, I am not claiming that I can prove that God exists. My argument is really very modest. I am only arguing that (1) the concept of God is a logically valid and rational. And, (2) God is the best explanation why anything at all exists.

  23. 23
    Silver Asiatic says:

    daveS

    Do you have a logical argument (or a published reference containing such) for this?

    I haven’t posted here since March when I simply gave up trying to explain something similar to Zachriel (and I know KF and many others offer a lot so my contributions didn’t help that much!), but I’ll try again.

    Perhaps this will work … daveS, instead of us giving you an answer here or a paper to read, take a minute to investigate and question your own belief and statement. What does it mean?

    Note, you ask for a “logical argument”.

    The good thing here is that you accept the nature and structure of logic as a means for understanding reality.

    For a parallel example, if you wanted to construct a bridge, you would say “give me a mathematical argument” that shows the bridge to be effective.

    However, to accept a mathematical argument, you have to accept the foundations of math. You, obviously, cannot dispute that 2+2=4 and still want a mathematical argument. So, mathematics works because it uses accepted principles and from those it can model reality.

    Logic is the same. It is built of formal statements. When we accept those statements, then logic can model some aspects of reality.

    But unlike math, logic is the foundation of all rationality. All rational thinking, even the simplest, requires logic. Every human being uses logic in order to draw conclusions about reality.

    But what must be accepted to use logic?

    Just like the principles of addition, multiplication, subtraction, division, etc. must be accepted to use math, The Principles of Right Reason, as given by KF are required for logic.

    So, what if I said, “give me a mathematical argument that indicates 2+2=4”? That’s circularity. 2+2=4 is a formula that requires math (e.g. the “+” means something in math).

    So, what is a logical argument that proves the necessity that when there is a oneness, there is necessarily two-ness?

    The point here is that logic requires this necessity. It also requires that the first principles of right reason are undeniable. In the same way, mathematics requires that equations follow the formal rules of math.

    So, the reason why I suggested that you investigate your own convictions, is that you’re offering Logic as an accepted (by you) means of understanding reality. But logic requires the very principles you question.

    In other words, you would be unable to follow a logical argument if you did not accept the LOI, for example. Logic strictly requires that, as it does the law of non-contradiction and excluded middle.

    Logically, where there is a distinct entity:

    “If A exists”.

    Then, logically we speak of “not A”.

    Logic, which reflects reality, requires that.

    Once you have A, then logically, you have “not A”.

    Once you have A, then logically, A=A. That’s the LOI. It’s necessary.

    Also, since A=A, then AA is illogical. That’s the LNC.

    So, you necessarily have two entities then.
    If A, then the “argument space” is A and Not A. Thus, two-ness.

    In rational terms, we understand all contingent beings “A’s” as things that exist and therefore requiring, logically, “non-A’s”.

    This is why a cosmological argument cannot end with a contingent being and why, logically, a necessary, non-contingent being is required.

    That’s actually the foundation of rationality.

    It’s the reason why Truth is an objective, necessary value in terms of logic or rationality. A denial of truth, or denial of principles of right reason is, by nature, irrational.

  24. 24
    daveS says:

    KF,

    one does not appeal to authority for what is self evident; just to the understanding mind.

    Ok, I withdraw my request; I thought I remembered that in our previous discussion of this that you had said that the LOI, LEM, LNC all follow from distinct identity, but I can’t locate that post now. If these three rules are claimed to be self-evident (rather than to logically follow from distinct identity), then I can’t ask for a proof. Still, it would be curious if there is no version of your very foundational explanation in the literature?

    If you have a reasonable alternative, kindly give it without self referentially resorting to what you seem to wish to undermine or deny: _____________________ (As in, kindly show us without using distinct identity and what it carries with it. I am confident you cannot.)

    I don’t have an alternative, but am I required to? Anyway I don’t have such, excepting the intuitionistic logics we talked about earlier, which exclude LEM, but that’s way off topic for this thread. I did recently run across some interesting examples relating to modus tollens which I think you might find worth discussing, but I’ll save that for another thread focused primarily on logic.

  25. 25
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus @17,

    KF: A necessary being [in the ontological sense] is such that it has no dependence on external enabling factors, so a serious candidate will be either impossible or else actual.

    You are saying is that the existence of a necessary being has no external explanation. OK. Does that mean that, if there is an explanation for its existence, then that explanation must stem from the necessary being itself?

    KF: For instance two-ness is tied to distinct identity and thus is foundational to any world existing. It is a necessary being.

    Two-ness, imho, is a mental concept and as such depends for its existence on a rational mind. Arguably two-ness is a concept that every rational mind embraces as valid — except for the solipsist who holds himself to be all there is, one and indivisible.

    KF: But it points to a deeper point. Nothing, non-being has no causal powers. Were there ever an utter nothing, such would forever obtain. That a world is, entails that something, at world root level, is a necessary being.

    I agree. It all starts with ‘being’. It has to be like that. Starting from ‘nothing’ is not an option.
    However, calling it a ‘necessary being’ is not an explanation for its existence. There is an effect (universe), so — necessarily, logically — there has to be a cause. Sure. I agree. Logic commands it. But calling it a ‘necessary cause’ does not explain the existence of that cause.

  26. 26
    HeKS says:

    Seqenenre,

    “Instead, God brought an entirely new material creation into existence through an exertion of power.”

    I have no idea what this means.

    Einstein Was Right: You Can Turn Energy Into Matter

    Isaiah 40:26 –

    Lift up your eyes to heaven and see.
    Who has created these things?
    It is the One who brings out their army by number;
    He calls them all by name.
    Because of his vast dynamic energy and his awe-inspiring power,
    Not one of them is missing.

    Jeremiah 32:17

    Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.

    The expression, “the heavens and the earth”, also found in the first verse of Genesis, is actually a Hebrew idiom that refers to the entirety of physical creation (i.e. the physical universe), for which there was no single Hebrew word. Thus, the image the Bible presents is one of God creating all of material reality from a vast outpouring of energy.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  27. 27
    daveS says:

    SA,

    Note, you ask for a “logical argument”.

    I have to withdraw this request if the three laws of thought are taken to be self-evident, rather than to follow from the notion of distinct identity.

    The good thing here is that you accept the nature and structure of logic as a means for understanding reality.

    Yes, I’m sure I use logic to deal with certain aspects of reality just as anyone else here. Today I need to buy some coolant for my truck, so I will have to go to the auto parts store, identify what is coolant and what isn’t, and if the clerk tells me the price is simultaneously $9.99 and $8.97, I will object, etc.

    Just like the principles of addition, multiplication, subtraction, division, etc. must be accepted to use math, The Principles of Right Reason, as given by KF are required for logic.

    So, what if I said, “give me a mathematical argument that indicates 2+2=4”? That’s circularity. 2+2=4 is a formula that requires math (e.g. the “+” means something in math).

    I do accept that in order to do mathematics, you have to accept certain statements without proof. Whether or not there is a mathematical argument which indicates that 2 + 2 = 4 is debatable in my view. It depends on what you start with. I think that’s more of a quibble, though. You can’t get anywhere without some primitive assumptions.

    So, what is a logical argument that proves the necessity that when there is a oneness, there is necessarily two-ness?

    It’s not clear to me that there is such an argument, or that this is even a true statement. But I also don’t know that you need to establish that to make your point. I suggest we put it aside for now?

    The point here is that logic requires this necessity. It also requires that the first principles of right reason are undeniable. In the same way, mathematics requires that equations follow the formal rules of math.

    So, the reason why I suggested that you investigate your own convictions, is that you’re offering Logic as an accepted (by you) means of understanding reality. But logic requires the very principles you question.

    In other words, you would be unable to follow a logical argument if you did not accept the LOI, for example. Logic strictly requires that, as it does the law of non-contradiction and excluded middle.

    I’m not sure in what sense logic “strictly requires” the classical rules of thought. Maybe so for LOI, but the case for LEM is less clear to me.

    ***

    To sum up my position, let me go back to this statement of yours:

    you accept the nature and structure of logic as a means for understanding reality.

    I do accept the utility of first-order classical logic, at least in certain simple domains (e.g., mathematics, buying at item from an auto parts store). But it’s not very expressive, and it’s easy to misapply it and draw erroneous conclusions; therefore I’m very cautious about applying it to all of “reality”.

  28. 28
    daveS says:

    KF,

    An addendum to my previous reply to this:

    To comment you implicitly relied on the distinct identity of keys, letters, words, and so forth. Once distinct identity exists, instantly, the triple first principles of right reason obtain. In W = {A |~A}, A is distinct from ~A, no x in W is both A and not A, and no y in W is both or neither. By virtue of the distinction. And all of this was previously pointed out to you.

    I just want to emphasize that I’m not challenging the notion of distinct identity here, and certainly not in the case of the keys on my keyboard.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, so soon as you relied on distinct identity, you relied on what comes with it. Namely the LOI, LNC and LEM. As was already explained. The issue is not proof, this is what proof rests on — you cannot prove that proof itself is valid, the issue is seeing and acknowledging that absent this, the whole province of reasoned communication collapses. It is that foundational. KF

  30. 30
    Brent says:

    WJM @16,

    Integrity.

    I was thinking today that the arrogant atheist, if not psychologically or otherwise impaired, is secretly hoping to be able to tell God one day that they “really” didn’t know, and are spending this life building a facade to try to point to as evidence.

    Houses in the sand.

  31. 31
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, so soon as you relied on distinct identity, you relied on what comes with it. Namely the LOI, LNC and LEM.

    In the context of the keys on my keyboard, and the English language, I would agree.

    As I stated above, I myself use the classical laws of thought in certain domains. For all aspects of reality? I’m less certain.

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, a moment only. A necessary being is connected tot he existence of a world at all, as in once a world is, such a being must be, it is framework level to a world being. And, that is explanatory, in a context of understanding possibility and types of being. KF

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, so soon as you set about thinking and discussing, you were using the laws. Whatever sandbox you are interested in must be compatible with that fact, or else you are in self referential incoherence. KF

  34. 34
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, so soon as you set about thinking and discussing, you were using the laws. Whatever sandbox you are interested in must be compatible with that fact, or else you are in self referential incoherence. KF

    Perhaps so, but it doesn’t follow that these rules hold for all aspects of reality (and not just the sandbox).

  35. 35
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus,

    KF: A necessary being is connected tot he existence of a world at all, as in once a world is, such a being must be, it is framework level to a world being.

    I agree.

    KF: And, that is explanatory, in a context of understanding possibility and types of being.

    It explains that there is no external explanation. If there is no external explanation then there may be no explanation at all. If so, fine. Anyway, it’s not explanatory in the sense of explaining God’s existence.

    For clarity, let’s consider this:

    HeKS: … the image the Bible presents is one of God creating all of material reality from a vast outpouring of energy.

    Now the question may arise ‘how is this energy generated?’ or ‘how does that work, without an external energy source?’ The answer to this question cannot be: ‘logically He must have this energy otherwise we cannot explain the existence of the universe’. Such an answer may very well be logically coherent but is not an answer to the question. If God is an autonomous source of energy, it would be interesting to know how this works. Saying that He is logically required to be an autonomous source of energy, or that He is a “necessary” autonomous source of energy in any possible world, is not explanatory wrt to how this process actually works.
    Are we in agreement?

  36. 36
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    I do accept the utility of first-order classical logic, at least in certain simple domains (e.g., mathematics, buying at item from an auto parts store). But it’s not very expressive, and it’s easy to misapply it and draw erroneous conclusions; therefore I’m very cautious about applying it to all of “reality”.

    I’m not clear about what you’re proposing here.
    First, logic is not just useful in ‘simple domains’. It’s absolutely required for all rational thought. It is the foundation for rationality – so it applies to all domains, simple or complex. Buying an item at an auto parts store uses the same evaluations of truth and reality as does an understanding of all scientific and philosophical arguments.

    As for applying logic to all of reality – that’s confusing also. Yes, we arrive at true conclusions that transcend logic. However, those conclusions require logic in order to know that logic must be transcended. In other words, through logic, we realize that logic has limits as a tool for understanding reality.

    Some of the tools we use to understand reality that extend beyond logic are faith, prayer, imagination, intuition, spiritual insight, prophetic/transcendent awareness and others like that.

    The existence of a necessary being is the starting point of how we understand reality. But the existence of a non-contingent being transcends logic, since logic is a contingent language which cannot explain its own existence.

  37. 37
    sean samis says:

    First, let me say that I don’t know anything about A.C. Grayling. I have not watched the debate; these things bore me.

    Next let me say that I am no fan of Jerry Coyne. Coyne has literally told me (by email) to not post comments on his site. So there should be no confusion about whether I come here to defend Grayling or Coyne. (and Jeffrey Jay Lowder’s criticism of Coyne at Patheos is very good).

    And last, I am not an atheist; I am a doubter: I doubt all claims about deities, for and against. I am not a “hyperskeptic”; I do not advocate doubt or skepticism; but I do personally doubt all claims about deities.

    The proper response to the creation ex nihilo argument is that science does not believe or claim that our universe was created ex nihilo. The argument is a red herring.

    It’s obvious that when our Cosmic Inflation began (a.k.a. “the big bang”) something already existed. It was not part of our universe; our universe is part of it. Whatever it is or was, it was already there. What that something was remains unclear, but cosmic inflation is not regarded as happening ex nihilo.

    There will be a temptation to ask “well, what created this something that created us?” One should avoid that temptation; all our expectations and understanding of physical reality comes from experiences in our universe. It is an unnecessary and unjustified assumption to infer that all reality “outside” our universe operates just like our universe does.

    Regarding;

    Instead, God brought an entirely new material creation into existence through an exertion of power.

    I suspect that the author (HeKS) does not intend this to be taken as a “scientific claim” but it does point out the problem with claiming creationism is a kind of “science”: this claim leads naturally to the reasonable question, “Oh? And how does a deity bring new material into creation through an exertion of power? How is that done?” One can object to this question on theological grounds, but not on rational or scientific grounds. And it simply has no answer and cannot be falsified.

    This leaves us with Option B. We can know then, as a matter of logical necessity, that something non-extensional was in existence even at the point that there was nothing extensional in existence.

    Emphasis in the original.

    Within the meaning of these terms, this seems true enough. But;

    This something, then, would exist necessarily and would be spaceless, timeless and immaterial, and the ground and cause of all extensional material things that subsequently came into existence, …

    Emphasis in the original.

    That does not follow unless we are careful to specify that whatever space, time, or material this “non-extensional something” might be composed of, it is not the space, time, or material which is part of our universe.

    In other words, this “non-extensional something” can (and probably does) occupy space, experience time, and is composed of some material, but it is not of the space, time, or material of our universe.

    … a First Cause of extensional reality that exists necessarily and is spaceless, timeless, immaterial, uncaused, necessary, and incredibly powerful, which are all qualities classically attributed to God.

    This may be true, but a First Cause that is truly spaceless, timeless, and immaterial is not a given.

    Much less is it given that this First Cause have attributes of intelligence (mind, intention, goals, wants, relationships, affection, etc.). Absent these this First Cause would not be any deity but a mere “thing” or “things”.

    Regarding other foolish things said by Coyne which the author reduces to,

    … all of these are merely attempts to block a conclusion of theistic design that can be held with 100% certainty.

    Emphasis in the original.

    If that is the case, Coyne need not work so hard.

    Mere logic and reason completely obstruct any “conclusion of theistic design that can be held with 100% certainty

    Very few things can be held with 100% certainty, two of those few things are that creationism is certainly not a sure thing, and it is certainly not a scientific thing.

    sean s.

  38. 38
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    it doesn’t follow that these rules hold for all aspects of reality

    If this is true (and I believe it is), then that would refute scientism and rationalism.
    It would also refute many common arguments in support of atheistic materialism.

  39. 39
    daveS says:

    SA,

    First, I think we actually are in agreement on quite a bit here.

    I’m not clear about what you’re proposing here.
    First, logic is not just useful in ‘simple domains’. It’s absolutely required for all rational thought. It is the foundation for rationality – so it applies to all domains, simple or complex. Buying an item at an auto parts store uses the same evaluations of truth and reality as does an understanding of all scientific and philosophical arguments.

    To be clear, I was referring to first-order predicate logic, which I think we agree is very limited. And while logic of one form or another is required for rational thought, it’s my belief that rational thought is itself quite limited—I gather we’re on the same page there?

    The existence of a necessary being is the starting point of how we understand reality. But the existence of a non-contingent being transcends logic, since logic is a contingent language which cannot explain its own existence.

    We do differ in that I don’t base my understanding of reality on a necessary being.

    If this is true (and I believe it is), then that would refute scientism and rationalism. It would also refute many common arguments in support of atheistic materialism.

    I would agree with the first sentence; I don’t know which arguments for atheistic materialism you’re referring to, but you might be right there also.

  40. 40
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    And while logic of one form or another is required for rational thought, it’s my belief that rational thought is itself quite limited—I gather we’re on the same page there?

    Well, I would ask you “limited in comparison to what”?

    As stated, logic is the foundation of all rationality. So, within the realm of human reason, I wouldn’t say that logic is quite limited. It has a massive scope and is put to use by billions of humans in all rational endeavors. It is most especially important in coming to understand the existence of God, the nature of God and the meaning of human life. So, logic is the pathway that brings us to the greatest and most important of all things.

    The tool itself does not need to be perfect (only God, by definition, is perfect). It just needs to be reliable enough for us to reach rational conclusions and to be able to weigh the best, most reasonable answers to questions.

    A necessary being is the being that makes all other, contingent beings possible. What is possible comes from potential being. Since being cannot come from nothing, then all potential beings must have their origin in actual being. That actual being which is the source of all potentiality, all possiblity, is the necessary being.

  41. 41
    Silver Asiatic says:

    sean samis

    And last, I am not an atheist; I am a doubter: I doubt all claims about deities, for and against. I am not a “hyperskeptic”; I do not advocate doubt or skepticism; but I do personally doubt all claims about deities.

    I don’t find that reasonable. To doubt all claims about deities is to doubt that a First Cause exists. But why is an infinite regress of causes any more certain than a First Cause? There are problems with an infinite regress of material causes, namely that they cannot be traversed in time. So, if you’re saying that you doubt all cosmological propositions, then that needs more precision. We arrive at a conclusion on these matters because certain arguments lead to more or less reasonable solutions.

    It’s obvious that when our Cosmic Inflation began (a.k.a. “the big bang”) something already existed.

    This is obvious because something cannot come from nothing. When the Cosmic Inflation began, it had to have a cause – so something already existed before it. We observe fine-tuning in the universe and this must have had a cause also. An intelligent designer existing before the Cosmic Inflation, having created the laws, forces and material properties that developed into the universe as we observe it is a very reasonable proposition in this case. What is the alternative? We see no evidence that matter itself can “Bang” itself into the ordered development of the universe as we see it.

    It was not part of our universe; our universe is part of it. Whatever it is or was, it was already there. What that something was remains unclear, but cosmic inflation is not regarded as happening ex nihilo.

    To regard it as coming ex nihilo would be illogical and unscientific, yes. But to cite an unobserved material “thing” existing outside of space, matter and time is also illogical.

    There will be a temptation to ask “well, what created this something that created us?” One should avoid that temptation; all our expectations and understanding of physical reality comes from experiences in our universe.

    How do you know that? What if we received understandings of reality that came from outside the universe? Some have claimed to have exactly that kind of knowledge.

    It is an unnecessary and unjustified assumption to infer that all reality “outside” our universe operates just like our universe does.

    Agreed. Thus this question transcends science and refutes materialism.

    In other words, this “non-extensional something” can (and probably does) occupy space, experience time, and is composed of some material, but it is not of the space, time, or material of our universe.

    You mention ‘probably’ but no one can assign any probability to a non-material entity (that’s Dawkins’ error when he claims that the probability is 99% that God does not exist). You can’t measure the probability without data from material events. So, to propose a different kind of space and matter is fine, but it’s purely imaginary. Why would that imaginary concept, that has no evidence to support it and which is philosophically problematic (it pushes the origin of a universe contingent beings out to other contingent beings) be preferable to the idea of God as creator?

    This may be true, but a First Cause that is truly spaceless, timeless, and immaterial is not a given.

    It’s not a given but it’s a logical conclusion that follows from the premises.

    Much less is it given that this First Cause have attributes of intelligence (mind, intention, goals, wants, relationships, affection, etc.). Absent these this First Cause would not be any deity but a mere “thing” or “things”.

    I don’t follow this. The First Cause cannot be a mere “thing” among things. And the reason for that has nothing to do with the properties of intelligence or mind. But to observe entities that exist and act with purpose points to a source of purpose or plan – thus a Designer possessing the capablities of mind, intelligence and designing powers.

    Very few things can be held with 100% certainty, two of those few things are that creationism is certainly not a sure thing, and it is certainly not a scientific thing.

    I’m not sure why you’re looking for a “scientific thing” to solve this question of origins from a cosmological argument. It seems you already, rightly, got rid of science as a tool for understanding the ultimate cause of the universe – right? Why would you want a scientific thing to attempt to understand things which are not observable to science?

  42. 42
    StephenB says:

    HeKS. Thank you for an excellent and well-thought out presentation.

  43. 43
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DS

    I don’t know which arguments for atheistic materialism you’re referring to, but you might be right there also.

    It’s good to hear that, as well as other areas where we agree. I don’t know what arguments you use to support your own view, but certainly, one common atheistic argument is that “there is no observed scientific evidence that God exists”.

    That is obviously foolish, for reasons we discussed previously.

  44. 44
    StephenB says:

    sean samis

    It’s obvious that when our Cosmic Inflation began (a.k.a. “the big bang”) something already existed. It was not part of our universe; our universe is part of it. Whatever it is or was, it was already there. What that something was remains unclear, but cosmic inflation is not regarded as happening ex nihilo.

    A physical part cannot come from the whole of which it is a part. Can your kidney come from your body? Both the whole of cosmic reality and all of its parts must be brought into existence by an antecedent cause. Ex-nihilo creation is the only logical possibility.

    unless we are careful to specify that whatever space, time, or material this “non-extensional something” might be composed of, it is not the space, time, or material which is part of our universe.

    Prior to the big bang, the “non-extensional something” cannot be “composed” of physical parts. If it already had physical parts, then they could not later come into existence at the big bang. In other words, if space, time, and matter began to exist at the big bang, then they could not also exist before they existed as a part of a non-extensional something. Indeed, a non-extensional, immaterial being, by definition, cannot be composed of material parts that are extended in space. That should be obvious.

    This may be true, but a First Cause that is truly spaceless, timeless, and immaterial is not a given.

    A first cause is logically required as the beginning of any causal chain.

    Much less is it given that this First Cause have attributes of intelligence (mind, intention, goals, wants, relationships, affection, etc.).

    On the contrary, the first cause must be personal for the simple reason that the universe is contingent and need not have existed. Only a personal being can choose to create or not create a contingent universe out of nothing. A material thing does not have the power to make such a choice. Only an intelligent agent can do that.

    Very few things can be held with 100% certainty, two of those few things are that creationism is certainly not a sure thing, and it is certainly not a scientific thing.

    If you walked into your kitchen and noticed for the first time that a red ball was sitting on the dining-room table, you would conclude what?

    [a] — Someone put it there.
    [b] — It just popped into existence.

    I can assure you that your readers (insofar as they are rational) will say [a] and they will be certain of their answer. What is your answer and how certain are you of it?

  45. 45
    StephenB says:

    sean

    all our expectations and understanding of physical reality comes from experiences in our universe.

    Which leads you to conclude what about the rules of right reason?

    It is an unnecessary and unjustified assumption to infer that all reality “outside” our universe operates just like our universe does.

    Are you really trying to suggest that the law of non-contradiction and the principle of sufficient reason may be limited to our universe and that other universes may not be subject to them?

  46. 46
    sean samis says:

    Silver Asiatic:

    To doubt all claims about deities is to doubt that a First Cause exists.

    No. To doubt all claims about deities is to be unsure what a first cause actually is. That there must have been a first cause is clear; what it was is entirely unclear to me.

    We observe fine-tuning in the universe…

    No. That’s an inference. We observe that if certain physical constants and properties of the universe were different by even small amounts, our universe would not exist as it does or that we would not be here. What we don’t know is why that is; calling fine-tuning implies an explanation when in fact, we don’t actually know the answer. The “fine-tuning” is “apparent” but certainly not a given.

    We see no evidence that matter itself can “Bang” itself into the ordered development of the universe as we see it.

    Since no scientist claims this is what happens, you’ve defeated a strawman.

    I know this is hard to accept, but maybe we just don’t know yet how the universe came to be. Inferring a designer is simple and comforting, but raises many reasonable doubts. The fact is, we don’t know yet, and we may never know.

    But to cite an unobserved material “thing” existing outside of space, matter and time is also illogical.

    It is far more logical than citing an unobserved immaterial designer existing outside of space, matter, and time. After all, your “designer” is just a “thing” with additional hypothetical properties. If the thing is itself illogical, larding on additional hypothetical properties will not redeem it.

    What if we received understandings of reality that came from outside the universe? Some have claimed to have exactly that kind of knowledge.

    How would we know that? People claim all sorts of things; why would we believe these claims? Especially when different persons claim contradictory information is true?

    Why would that imaginary concept that has no evidence to support it and which is philosophically problematic (it pushes the origin of a universe contingent beings out to other contingent beings) be preferable to the idea of God as creator?

    The idea of a non-deistic first cause is no more imaginary than the idea of a deity, we know as much about either one as the other which is to say we know little-to-nothing about either one. The non-deity is preferable because it is simpler; it requires no considerations of motive, intent, goals, etc. A deity is the ultimately complex answer to any question. The point of Ockham’s Razor is to prefer the simplest answer as long as it remains unrefuted.

    As for being philosophically problematic, this is only an issue for philosophers. I find no significant philosophical problem here.

    The First Cause cannot be a mere “thing” among things.

    I know of no reason why not, PLUS the first cause could easily be a group of things, not just a singular thing.

    But to observe entities that exist and act with purpose points to a source of purpose or plan …

    True enough by irrelevant because we haven’t observed that our first cause acted with purpose; that is an ungrounded assumption. It is based on observation from how things happen in our universe. But we are talking about things happening OUTSIDE our universe so those observations have limited value in this context.

    I’m not sure why you’re looking for a “scientific thing” to solve this question of origins from a cosmological argument. It seems you already, rightly, got rid of science as a tool for understanding the ultimate cause of the universe – right? Why would you want a scientific thing to attempt to understand things which are not observable to science?

    Science remains the most valuable method for understanding the ultimate cause of the universe. We don’t know to what extent objects or events outside our universe can be observed, or to what extent we can deduce some of their properties from their effects in our universe. It may well be that science will come up empty, but we should not give up on it without trying.

    Saying it’s a designer is useless.

    sean s.

  47. 47
    buffalo says:

    Proof for God (Pt II-A): Why Unconditioned Reality Must be Absolutely Simple http://idvolution.blogspot.com.....r-god.html

    (Pt I): Why There Must Be at Least One Unconditioned Reality https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSwk3_eHvOA

  48. 48
    Mung says:

    kf: one does not appeal to authority for what is self evident; just to the understanding mind.

    Bingo. The “laws of logic” (LOI, LNC, LEM) are self evident. It made me laugh that DaveS asked for a logical argument for the laws of logic. One wonders how he would then proceed to evaluate that logical argument.

  49. 49
    daveS says:

    Mung,

    It made me laugh that DaveS asked for a logical argument for the laws of logic. One wonders how he would then proceed to evaluate that logical argument.

    This is what KF said in a previous post which I was referring to (my bold):

    The bottomline here is that if you are unwilling to acknowledge the issue of distinct identity and its direct corollaries, LOI, LNC and LEM, there is no basis for reasoned discussion informed by fact and logic towards a sound or at least empirically reliable and coherent solution.

    Notice how he referred to LOI, LNC, and LEM as “direct corollaries” of distinct identity?

  50. 50
    Origenes says:

    Sean s,

    S: Science remains the most valuable method for understanding the ultimate cause of the universe.

    Your twisted view on science boils down to the embarrassing attempt to deny the causal efficacy of intelligence on which science existentially depends.

    S: We don’t know to what extent objects or events outside our universe can be observed, or to what extent we can deduce some of their properties from their effects in our universe. It may well be that science will come up empty, but we should not give up on it without trying.

    In the meantime, what is the best explanation?

    S: Saying it’s a designer is useless. sean s.

    Surely, only ‘useless’ wrt the naturalist’s psychotic abnegation of personhood and rationality. Come to think of it, perhaps the term ‘useless’ acquires its fullest meaning, if it were the case that your position, naturalism, is true — since, a person must exist to coherently claim that something is useful. Obviously, if fermions and bosons are all that exist, then everything is useless.
    What is it with you guys that you continually use terms which you cannot ground? Why is it difficult to understand that neither fermions nor bosons give a hoot about events outside our universe, science or usefulness?

  51. 51
    daveS says:

    SA,

    Well, I would ask you “limited in comparison to what”?

    Well, I find that I tend to be more skeptical about the powers of human reason (and logic) than many or most others here.

    A necessary being is the being that makes all other, contingent beings possible. What is possible comes from potential being. Since being cannot come from nothing, then all potential beings must have their origin in actual being. That actual being which is the source of all potentiality, all possiblity, is the necessary being.

    Regarding this sort of reasoning, I don’t have issues so much with the logic, but whether terms such as “potential being”, the “source of all potentiality”, “necessary being”, and so on actually refer to anything real. I have no problem identifying coolant in an auto parts store, but I’m not so sure if I can tell whether there really is such a thing as “potential being”.

    I don’t know what arguments you use to support your own view, but certainly, one common atheistic argument is that “there is no observed scientific evidence that God exists”.

    I wouldn’t argue that. I’m not aware of what I would consider to be very strong scientific evidence for the existence of God, but I’m not a scientist.

  52. 52
    Mung says:

    daveS: Notice how he referred to LOI, LNC, and LEM as “direct corollaries” of distinct identity?

    I wouldn’t try to make too much of that if I were you. It just isn’t all that difficult to find support for kf’s position on that. For example:

    The observation has been made that these three laws all seem to be saying the same thing. In a sense that is true. They mutually entail each other to the point where if one is true, then the others follow.

    Prelude to Philosophy

  53. 53
    Mung says:

    daveS: Well, I find that I tend to be more skeptical about the powers of human reason (and logic) than many or most others here.

    I’d still love to hear how you go about critiquing an argument. Or is your “skepticism” all touchy-feely without any basis in reason?

    Really, what you are saying is that you are more logical and rational than the rest of us. Why do you think so?

  54. 54
    daveS says:

    Mung,

    I wouldn’t try to make too much of that if I were you. It just isn’t all that difficult to find support for kf’s position on that. For example:

    Hm, so Foreman believes each of the three laws entails the other? That is different from what KF posted, surely; I wouldn’t mind seeing an argument for Foreman’s claim however.

    Really, what you are saying is that you are more logical and rational than the rest of us. Why do you think so?

    No, I’m absolutely not saying that. I could be wrong and you could be right.

  55. 55
    Mung says:

    daveS: That is different from what KF posted

    So you’re bitching because corollary is a weaker claim than a claim of entailment? I’m certain we all have better things to do with our time.

    daveS: I wouldn’t mind seeing an argument for Foreman’s claim however.

    What tools would you use to analyze such an argument? I’m irrational, therefore … is not going to convince many people.

  56. 56
    daveS says:

    Mung,

    So you’re bitching because corollary is a weaker claim than a claim of entailment? I’m certain we all have better things to do with our time.

    No, I’m saying that the proposition that distinct identity implies the three laws of thought is different from the proposition that the three laws entail each other. I’m not saying anything about relative strength or weakness.

    What tools would you use to analyze such an argument? I’m irrational, therefore … is not going to convince many people.

    I would analyze it just like any other argument or proof. Check whether the conclusion follows from the premises.

    Anyway, it seems this line of discussion is not going to be very productive, so I will drop it.

    Edit: I will acknowledge that (if memory serves), KF has argued that the three laws of thought entail each other previously (in support of Foreman).

  57. 57
    Mung says:

    kf: WJM, lack of proper education in first things;

    So true. Which is at least one reason a site like UD continues to have value. Someone brave enough to post an OP arguing that Barry is wrong about the law of identity would quickly be shown the door.

    Which is why people who post such things can now be found at “The Skeptical Zone.” They can piss and moan that they no longer have posting privileges here at UD, but taht just supports the laws of logic.

    They can’t both have the ability to post here and not have the ability to post here at the same time and in the same respect. Score one for Barry.

  58. 58
    Mung says:

    kf: DS, so soon as you set about thinking and discussing, you were using the laws. Whatever sandbox you are interested in must be compatible with that fact, or else you are in self referential incoherence.

    daveS: Perhaps so, but it doesn’t follow that these rules hold for all aspects of reality (and not just the sandbox).

    When you find a reality that allows a thing to both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same respect do let us know.

    If the “reality” you currently occupy allows for such a thing also please let us know.

    daveS: Anyway, it seems this line of discussion is not going to be very productive, so I will drop it.

    Oh ye of little faith.

  59. 59
    jlowder says:

    37: @sean samis

    Thanks for the kind words!

    Coyne has literally told me (by email) to not post comments on his site.

    That makes two of us.

  60. 60
    daveS says:

    Mung,

    When you find a reality that allows a thing to both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same respect do let us know.

    If the “reality” you currently occupy allows for such a thing also please let us know.

    Absolutely. I suspect there is more debate about the LEM, however.

  61. 61
    jlowder says:

    16, @WJM:

    I’ve often remarked about how our interlocutors often seem abstract-impaired when it comes to various logical arguments. I’ve begun to wonder if it is some kind of mental or physical disorder comparable to psychopathy or color-blindness. They will say the most bizarre things as if what they are saying is responsive to the argument or as if it rebuts the argument.

    I think the root cause is much more mundane: many (all?) of the ‘new’ atheists make it very clear that they consider the philosophy of religion not worthy of serious attention because it takes theism seriously.

    If person P has already decided that topic X should not be taken seriously, it should come as no surprise that P ignores arguments about topic X or, if they don’t outright ignore them, they fail to take such arguments seriously enough to accurately summarize the arguments (argument they have already determined, in advance, are wrong).

    Frankly, if I were a theistic philosopher or apologist, I would quote early and often the infamous essay by atheist philosopher Quentin Smith, “The Metaphilosophy of Naturalism.” Smith believed and believes that naturalism is true, but he believes that even most atheist philosophers have an unjustified belief that naturalism is true. 15 years later and nothing has changed. In fact, you could tongue-in-cheek call Smith a prophet for predicting the kind of anti-intellectual responses posted Coyne and other new atheists.

  62. 62

    #59

    That makes three of us … but in my case, I am quite certain Coyne just didn’t want to deal with empirical observations.

  63. 63
    Mung says:

    daveS: Absolutely. I suspect there is more debate about the LEM, however.

    A thing either exists or it does not exist. Even you seem to accept this as a self evident truth.

    The second law of logic is the law of excluded middle, which states: Something either is or is not, or P v ~P which reads either P or non-P. It is called the law of excluded middle because it excludes the possibility of something in the middle of existence and nonexistence. A thing either exists or it does not; there is no tertian quid (third what).

    What would a thing in the middle of existence and non-existence look like? Would it appear as if it exists? Would it appear as if it does not exist? Would it appear as if it both exists and does not exist?

    If you have an objection to the law of excluded middle we’d all like to hear it, or not hear it, or both.

    And the fundamental question remains, what principles of logic will you use to analyze arguments if you exclude the law of excluded middle?

  64. 64
    tjguy says:

    HeKs@12

    The only point I’m not sure I would insist on is that material creation would necessarily require God to keep it in existence. That may be true, but I’m not sure it follows as a matter of logical necessity and I’m not aware of any specific argument for that proposition. But the rest I would agree with.

    Agreed! The idea of material creation requiring God to keep it in existence is biblical, but may not a derivative of the cosmological argument.

    For instance, Hebrews 1:3 says this: ” He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”

    Just as He spoke the world into existence, He upholds/sustains the universe by the word of his power.

    Perhaps this is a reference to the natural laws that exist. God is a God of order and sustains these laws so that order is maintained in creation.

    Here is an OT promise to Noah and his descendants after the flood:

    “And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 WHILE THE EARTH REMAINS, SEEDTIME AND HARVEST, COLD AND HEAT, SUMMER AND WINTER, DAY AND NIGHT, SHALL NOT CEASE.”

    It’s not a promise to eternally uphold the earth, but until the final judgment when the earth is destroyed and recreated, God promises to uphold it and keep things going and in order.

    Just pointing out that it is a biblical sound argument to make even if it is not a corollary of the cosmological argument.

  65. 65
    Mung says:

    Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

    Did God really strike down every living creature?

  66. 66
    Mung says:

    I will never again curse the ground because of man

    Surely God cursed more than just the ground.

  67. 67
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Mung

    When you find a reality that allows a thing to both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same respect do let us know.

    What about the Christian doctrine of the Trinity?

  68. 68
    Mung says:

    CLAVDIVS: What about the Christian doctrine of the Trinity?

    What about it?

  69. 69
    HeKS says:

    Origenes @35

    let’s consider this:

    HeKS: … the image the Bible presents is one of God creating all of material reality from a vast outpouring of energy.

    Now the question may arise ‘how is this energy generated?’ or ‘how does that work, without an external energy source?’ The answer to this question cannot be: ‘logically He must have this energy otherwise we cannot explain the existence of the universe’. Such an answer may very well be logically coherent but is not an answer to the question. If God is an autonomous source of energy, it would be interesting to know how this works. Saying that He is logically required to be an autonomous source of energy, or that He is a “necessary” autonomous source of energy in any possible world, is not explanatory wrt to how this process actually works.

    Are we in agreement?

    The statement that “logically [God] must have this energy otherwise we cannot explain the existence of the universe” is certainly (and obviously) not an answer to the question of how God generates said energy. Instead, it would be answer to the question of how we can know as a brute fact that he must be able to. It is a logical deduction, not a procedural or mechanistic explanation. Again, what we’re talking about here are what seem to be the logically necessary implications that can be drawn from the current existence of the universe we live in.

    I agree with you that it would be interesting to know how it works for God to autonomously generate vast amounts of energy, but I’m not sure we’d necessarily be able to exactly understand it. Still, I don’t see any reason that the notion of such a being having the ability to generate energy would be logically incoherent, and you don’t seem to have suggested that it would be. And so it seems that it is both logically necessary that he be able to do so and logically coherent that he be able to do so. In addition, it certainly seems interesting to note that the Bible claims repeatedly that God created the material universe from an outpouring of vast amounts of energy and that modern scientific investigation has found that to be precisely how matter can be generated.

  70. 70
    HeKS says:

    Silver Asiatic @43 & daveS @51

    Silver Asiatic:

    one common atheistic argument is that “there is no observed scientific evidence that God exists”.

    That is obviously foolish, for reasons we discussed previously.

    I would suggest a slight clarification on the idea of “observed scientific evidence that God exists”, as I think that such a claim can be easily misunderstood.

    When we talk about scientific evidence for God’s existence, what we typically mean is not that there is scientific evidence for the conclusion, “God exists”, but that there is scientific evidence for the premises of deductive arguments for God’s existence. We would not really expect to have direct scientific evidence for the existence of a being like God, but we would expect and certainly do have significant amounts of scientific evidence supporting the premises of arguments that lead to the conclusion of God’s existence as a matter of logical necessity.

    Anyway, perhaps I’m being nitpicky here, but it just seems like an area where there is room for some misunderstanding that might interfere with productive discussion.

  71. 71
    daveS says:

    Mung,

    A thing either exists or it does not exist. Even you seem to accept this as a self evident truth.

    Yes, I don’t have any criticism of that.

    What would a thing in the middle of existence and non-existence look like? Would it appear as if it exists? Would it appear as if it does not exist? Would it appear as if it both exists and does not exist?

    I don’t know. There might be other propositions P, not pertaining to existence, such that P or not P is more problematic.

    If you have an objection to the law of excluded middle we’d all like to hear it, or not hear it, or both.

    I don’t have any objections to it, but I know philosophers such as L. E. J. Brouwer, Michael Dummett, and Neil Tennant have raised some criticisms. A couple of examples which some say are violations of LEM are given here.

    And the fundamental question remains, what principles of logic will you use to analyze arguments if you exclude the law of excluded middle?

    Well, that just means there’s one less rule of inference that can be used in constructing valid arguments. I’m not sure what the difficulty would be. You would just have to check whether the conclusion is true whenever the premises are true. The LEM is not universally valid in intuitionistic logic, and I think people who use that system do fine.

  72. 72
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “I agree with you that it would be interesting to know how it works for God to autonomously generate vast amounts of energy,”

    Okie Dokie, let’s take a look at a single photon to see if we can at least garner some hints as to how He might have done it:

    Double Slit, Quantum-Electrodynamics, and Christian Theism – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1127450170601248/?type=2&theater

  73. 73
    daveS says:

    Correction to my #71, first sentence of last paragraph:

    Well, that just means there’s one less rule of inference axiom that can be used in constructing valid arguments.

  74. 74
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Mung

    When you find a reality that allows a thing to both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same respect do let us know.

    The Son is God (A=B)
    The Triune Godhead is God (C=B)
    The Son is not the Triune Godhead (A C)

    So according to the Christian concept of the Trinity, the Son both is and is not the Triune Godhead. QED

  75. 75
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I have also spoken of the triple first principles of right reason, present instantly as distinct identity is present. In short the three are inextricably intertwined, as can be seen from W = {A | ~A}. On this, instantly, A is itself (as opposed to not itself), no x in W can be A and ~A at the same time due to the dichotomy’s import, and no y in W can be such that it is in both partitions or neither. Those are immediately present and inseparable, they are not inferred logically the one from the other, as such inference implicitly uses said laws. Indeed, as you have acknowledged then sidestepped, just to argue about such you are using letters and words that depend on distinct identity and its concomitants. We deal here with a literally unprovable triple-law, a truth of insight and recognition that to proceed further we must accept this, which is the basis assumed in all reason and rational communication dependent on distinct identity. St Paul put it in terms of musical instruments making a clear and distinct sound pattern, as opposed to a confusion of noise. If you refuse this, you lock yourself out of rational discussion. KF

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    CLAVIDIVS,

    I suggest a closer study of the actual doctrine of the Trinity to understand what Christians have actually taught.

    Even Wiki would set you on firmer ground:

    The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (Latin: Trinitas, lit. ‘triad’, from trinus, “threefold”)[1] holds that God is three consubstantial persons[2] or hypostases[3]—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit—as “one God in three Divine Persons”. The three persons are distinct, yet are one “substance, essence or nature”.[4] In this context, a “nature” is what one is, whereas a “person” is who one is.[5][6][7]

    According to this central mystery of most Christian faiths,[citation needed] there is only one God in three persons: while distinct from one another in their relations of origin (as the Fourth Lateran Council declared, “it is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds”) and in their relations with one another, they are stated to be one in all else, co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial, and each is God, whole and entire”.[8] Accordingly, the whole work of creation and grace is seen as a single operation common to all three divine persons, in which each shows forth what is proper to him in the Trinity, so that all things are “from the Father”, “through the Son” and “in the Holy Spirit”.[9] . . .

    An earlier, in some ways more informative version of the same article reads:

    The Christian doctrine of the Trinity, one of the most important in the Christian faith, teaches the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons (Greek: hypostases)[1] in one divine Being (Greek: Ousia), called the Godhead.[2]

    Saying that God exists as three persons but is one God means that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have exactly the same nature or being as God the Father in every way. Whatever attributes and power God the Father has, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have as well. “Thus, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are also eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, infinitely loving, omniscient.”[3] . . . .

    Personhood in the Trinity does not match the common Western understanding of “person” as used in the English language—it does not imply an “individual, self-actualized center of free will and conscious activity.”[9]

    To the ancients, personhood “was in some sense individual, but always in community as well.”[9]:p.186 In the Trinity doctrine, each person is understood as having the same identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures.

    In short there is here a complex unity view of the Godhead, whereby the unity and the diversity refer to differing aspects, thus there is no contradiction of reference to A and ~A in the same sense and circumstances.

    The story — likely apocryphal, but the point is relevant — is told that St Patrick was challenged on the creedal orthodox Christian understanding of the Godhead. A former slave-shepherd in Ireland, he bent down and plucked a three leaf clover. Straightening up, he then spoke:

    “How many leaves are there here? If but one, then why are there three lobes? If three, then why is there but one stem? If you cannot explain the mystery of the shamrock leaf, why then do you expect me to explain the far more profound one of the Trinity?”

    Per the story, that is how the clover became the symbol of Christian Ireland.

    Whatever its factual status (unlikely) it brings out the issue of complex, indissoluble unity as part of the essence of an entity.

    And, it forces us to more deeply understand what LNC means.

    Loaded tangent fails, let us refocus.

    KF

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung (attn DS), you see why I will often state LEM in full X-OR terms, A X-OR ~A. No y in W = {A | ~A} can be in [A AND ~A] — both zones of the partition, or in neither zone of the partition due to the dichotomy imposed by the distinct identity of A. (I have often chosen a bright red ball on a table by way of concrete example.) Again, without recognising, acknowledging and accepting this, neither reasoned thought nor rational, intelligible communication can proceed. Those who try to deny inherently rely on what they deny to assert their case. Thus, attempted denial is patently absurd, we have here a self-evident first truth. KF

    PS: And to set up and argue about the sandbox system of intuitionistic logic or the like do or do not the proponents rely on distinct identity? Patently, they do. So any sound understanding of such systems must reckon with this on pain of self referential absurdity. Shutting one’s eyes to a relevant consideration is not a sign of the good logical health of such a scheme.

  78. 78
    CLAVDIVS says:

    kairosfocus

    So which of the following premisses is incorrect?

    The Son is God (A = B)
    The Triune Godhead is God (C = B)
    The Son is not the Triune Godhead (A not.eq C)

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Collins English Dict (which has earned my respect for its refreshingly insightful definitions):

    corollary (k??r?l?r?)
    n, pl -laries
    1. (Logic) a proposition that follows directly from the proof of another proposition
    2. an obvious deduction
    3. a natural consequence or result
    adj
    consequent or resultant
    [C14: from Latin coroll?rium money paid for a garland, from Latin corolla garland, from cor?na crown]
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

    KF

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    CLAVDIVS, with all due respect, you are here insistently committing all sorts of fallacies of confused contexts of meaning which were already substantially corrected. Enough has already been said for the responsible, reasonable onlooker; I decline to further try to debate one who — on long track record — is utterly unlikely to be responsive to substantial arguments on a loaded, distractive tangent that is off topic not only for this thread but this blog. For this thread, it is enough to see that design objectors frequently have problems starting with first, self evident principles of right reason, leading to hopeless and incorrigible confusions and unacknowledged self-falsifying self-referential contradictions all down the line from that point. They literally need to go back to the beginnings of right, responsible reason to set their thinking straight; but are typically most disinclined to do so. I suggest here on for a 101 for those serious to set things straight. KF

    PS: Those interested in the Trinity may wish to start:

    https://www.blueletterbible.org/comm/bowman_robert/trinity/trinity.cfm

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm

    PPS: The Shield of Faith diagram available online (and at one time said to be the Heraldic Arms of the Triune God!) may also help those who wish to have a clearer view.

  81. 81
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Mung, kairosfocus

    There you go – the Trinity remains an example of something that violates the LNC.

    Kairosfocus says he *could* refute it as an example, but he’s not going to bother because … reasons. Which I take to mean he can’t refute it.

    QED

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: Scutum Fidei https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shield_of_the_Trinity

    Note Wiki’s comment:

    Significance

    The main achievement of the Shield of the Trinity diagram is to transfer a large part of the essential “mystery” or “paradox” of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity from the realm of complex verbal philosophical abstractions and esoteric theological vocabulary to the realm of simple logic, as presented in the relatively easily graspable form of a concrete and conveniently compact visual diagram. It is remarkable as a basically successful attempt, roughly 800 years old, to represent a complex set of abstract concepts in precise graphic form (as opposed to many of the near-contemporary attempts of Joachim of Fiore and Raymund Lull, which were not so successful). Thus it is perhaps one of the oldest widely attested “graphs”, in the sense of graph theory (technically, it is a complete graph on 4 vertices, the same as the vertices and edges of a tetrahedron).

    Of course, if the diagram is interpreted according to ordinary logic, then it contains a number of contradictions (since the set of twelve propositions listed above is mutually contradictory). However, if the three links connecting the three outer nodes of the diagram to the center node are interpreted as representing a non-transitive quasi-equivalence relation (where the statement “A is equivalent to C” does not follow from the two statements “A is equivalent to B” and “B is equivalent to C”), then the diagram is fully logically coherent and non-self-contradictory. So the medieval Shield of the Trinity diagram could be considered to contain some implicit kernel of the idea of alternative logical systems.

    Unlike some other logical or mathematical constructs sometimes offered as analogies for the Trinity (such as the Venn diagram and the cube viewed by inhabitants of a two-dimensional plane), the Shield of the Trinity does not too easily lend itself to interpretations which are non-orthodox from the traditional mainstream Christian point of view.

  83. 83
    kairosfocus says:

    CLAVDIVS, nope, on the contrary, there you go further insisting on a loaded, distractive tangent of errors in the teeth of cogent and substantial correction. I point to Scutum Fidei (esp the original manuscript depiction) as a more than adequate answer — the matter can be reduced to a network diagram that is coherent and has been so for 800 years, and point out the need to return to focus. Of course, Wiki itself fails to see the force of distinctions of meaning involved. God is complex unity manifest of triune order, much as a triangle or a shamrock leaf are. Once we are willing to understand the need to avoid fallacies of ambiguity, the whole makes excellent sense. Father, Son and Spirit are mutually distinct “faces” of the one true eternal being of the Godhead, whilst the unity of the Godhead is not dissoluble even as a triangle cannot lose its classic trifold character while retaining its unified distinct identity. Our problem is conceptual inadequacy, not incoherence of the core principle. KF

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: As first cause arguments are on the table, let me cite Plato in The Laws, Bk X:

    Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.]

    KF

  85. 85
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Kairosfocus

    The side of a triangle is not the whole triangle.

    The leaf of a clover is not the whole clover.

    But the Son is wholly God. And the Father is wholly God. And the Spirit is wholly God. But the Son is not the Father nor the Spirit.

    The analogy to a clover or a triangle utterly fails.

    The Trinity is a violation of the LNC.

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    CLAVDIVS, you just spoke with utter, willful disregard to truth with patent intent to mislead. I pointed out over and over above adequate and cogent response that you refused to engage [meriting my observations about incorrigible errors], and yet your onward remarks pretend that that which is directly there and in onward links does not exist. If you cannot be trusted to speak truthfully about facts immediately present, you cannot be trusted to be responsible or reasonable. I therefore simply point out this unpleasant but justified conclusion, and pass on back to the main focus. KF

    PS: If one refuses to recognise the nature of complex unity and then accuses others who do so of contradiction, then it is entirely in order to point out the triangle [the first plane figure from Geometry] and the shamrock. Onward refusal and rhetorical assertions pivoting on denial of complex unity then fall to the ground. Scutum Fidei speaks, across 800 years, decisively.

  87. 87
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: Let us zoom back a bit and see Plato’s wider context:

    Ath. Then, by Heaven, we have discovered the source of this vain opinion of all those physical investigators; and I would have you examine their arguments with the utmost care, for their impiety is a very serious matter; they not only make a bad and mistaken use of argument, but they lead away the minds of others: that is my opinion of them.

    Cle. You are right; but I should like to know how this happens.

    Ath. I fear that the argument may seem singular.

    Cle. Do not hesitate, Stranger; I see that you are afraid of such a discussion carrying you beyond the limits of legislation. But if there be no other way of showing our agreement in the belief that there are Gods, of whom the law is said now to approve, let us take this way, my good sir.

    Ath. Then I suppose that I must repeat the singular argument of those who manufacture the soul according to their own impious notions; they affirm that which is the first cause of the generation and destruction of all things, to be not first, but last, and that which is last to be first, and hence they have fallen into error about the true nature of the Gods.

    Cle. Still I do not understand you.

    Ath. Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [[ = psuche], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body?

    Cle. Certainly.

    Ath. Then thought and attention and mind and art and law will be prior to that which is hard and soft and heavy and light; and the great and primitive works and actions will be works of art; they will be the first, and after them will come nature and works of nature, which however is a wrong term for men to apply to them; these will follow, and will be under the government of art and mind.

    Cle. But why is the word “nature” wrong?

    Ath. Because those who use the term mean to say that nature is the first creative power; but if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.]

    KF

  88. 88
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Notice the significance of describing the en-souled first mover in reflexive terms: the self-moved. This points to an essential complex unity that blends simplicity and complexity in the order of being that becomes the level of the self. (So, yes, the issue of the one and the many — which includes the issue of complex unity and thus the en-souled, self-moved purposive first cause — is also a root level worldviews question.)

  89. 89
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Self-moved, self-evident, and more; we see reflexivity [which implies complex unity] everywhere . . .

  90. 90
    CLAVDIVS says:

    kairosfocus

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us the “Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone”.

    But never mind, kairosfocus will set them straight. Soon he will explain which of the following premisses is false:

    The Son is God (A = B)
    The Triune Godhead is God (C = B)
    The Son is not the Triune Godhead (A not.eq C)

  91. 91
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Euclid’s Elements

    Book 1

    Common Notions

    1. Things which equal the same thing also equal one another.

  92. 92
    kairosfocus says:

    CLAVDIVS,

    yes, the classic understanding is that the trinity is a revealed not a mathematical or philosophical truth. Similarly, when two senses of a term are relevant in a context, it is an error of ambiguity to conflate them.

    For your benefit if you are now willing, and for the reasonable, responsible onlooker, I again cite from Wikipedia (yes, this is THAT readily accessible):

    The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (Latin: Trinitas, lit. ‘triad’, from trinus, “threefold”)[1] holds that God is three consubstantial persons[2] or hypostases[3]—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit—as “one God in three Divine Persons”. The three persons are distinct, yet are one “substance, essence or nature”.[4] In this context, a “nature” is what one is, whereas a “person” is who one is.[5][6][7]

    According to this central mystery of most Christian faiths,[citation needed] there is only one God in three persons: while distinct from one another in their relations of origin (as the Fourth Lateran Council declared, “it is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds”) and in their relations with one another, they are stated to be one in all else, co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial, and each is God, whole and entire”.[8] Accordingly, the whole work of creation and grace is seen as a single operation common to all three divine persons, in which each shows forth what is proper to him in the Trinity, so that all things are “from the Father”, “through the Son” and “in the Holy Spirit”.[9] . . .

    The older version (I find that for many things, when Wiki gets something good, subsequent changes often take away significant things):

    The Christian doctrine of the Trinity, one of the most important in the Christian faith, teaches the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons (Greek: hypostases)[1] in one divine Being (Greek: Ousia), called the Godhead.[2]

    Saying that God exists as three persons but is one God means that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have exactly the same nature or being as God the Father in every way. Whatever attributes and power God the Father has, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have as well. “Thus, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are also eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, infinitely loving, omniscient.”[3] . . . .

    Personhood in the Trinity does not match the common Western understanding of “person” as used in the English language—it does not imply an “individual, self-actualized center of free will and conscious activity.”[9]

    To the ancients, personhood “was in some sense individual, but always in community as well.”[9]:p.186 In the Trinity doctrine, each person is understood as having the same identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures.

    Then, despite the fault line that can be seen in the above clip on it (which I need not further reproduce), the wiki remark on the 800 year old Scutum Fidei, is significant:

    The main achievement of the Shield of the Trinity diagram is to transfer a large part of the essential “mystery” or “paradox” of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity from the realm of complex verbal philosophical abstractions and esoteric theological vocabulary to the realm of simple logic, as presented in the relatively easily graspable form of a concrete and conveniently compact visual diagram. It is remarkable as a basically successful attempt, roughly 800 years old, to represent a complex set of abstract concepts in precise graphic form (as opposed to many of the near-contemporary attempts of Joachim of Fiore and Raymund Lull, which were not so successful). Thus it is perhaps one of the oldest widely attested “graphs”, in the sense of graph theory (technically, it is a complete graph on 4 vertices, the same as the vertices and edges of a tetrahedron).

    The diagram is very powerful, especially in its original form with emphasis on the crucified, risen messiah, which brings to bear the centrality of the prophetic tradition that speaks to messiah, the fulfillment and gospel commission. Thus the theology is backed by a history of God’s intervention in history and the impact on the kingdoms of man of the stone cut without human hands from Mt Zion.

    It is in that context that we consider the God revealed with power.

    And in that context we find complex unity [specifically using the complex unity of the triangle or its 3-d extension, the tetrahedron], one Divine Nature manifest in three persons or faces, focussed through Messiah. Where, the visual structure speaks truly and powerfully . . . and coherently. Father, Son, Spirit are the three faces of the one common divine nature we deal with.

    Again, that should be more than enough to address anything a reasonable person expects, relevant to this thread. The triune view of Godhead is not incoherent, but it is conceptually challenging. (I have sometimes asked people whether one can stand at just one place and be due North of London, Kingston and Los Angeles. The intuitive reaction is to think in 2d and doubt it. The more conceptually challenging but correct answer is that the N Pole is simultaneously due north of every point on Earth’s surface apart from itself. Many perceived contradictions reflect inadequate conception, not reality. Note again, the shamrock story.)

    The matter at stake in the main remains and I believe it is pivotal to address it. Unless and until you show substantial engagement of the historic Christian understanding, you will be doing little more than indulging red herring and strawman fallacies.

    KF

  93. 93
    kairosfocus says:

    DS & Mung:

    Let’s pick up DS at 54:

    Mung,

    I wouldn’t try to make too much of that if I were you. It just isn’t all that difficult to find support for kf’s position on that. For example:

    Hm, so Foreman believes each of the three laws entails the other? That is different from what KF posted, surely; I wouldn’t mind seeing an argument for Foreman’s claim however.

    Really, what you are saying is that you are more logical and rational than the rest of us. Why do you think so?

    No, I’m absolutely not saying that. I could be wrong and you could be right.

    Now, what Mung said and cited :

    daveS: Notice how he referred to LOI, LNC, and LEM as “direct corollaries” of distinct identity?

    I wouldn’t try to make too much of that if I were you. It just isn’t all that difficult to find support for kf’s position on that. For example:

    The observation has been made that these three laws all seem to be saying the same thing. In a sense that is true. They mutually entail each other to the point where if one is true, then the others follow.

    Prelude to Philosophy

    The force of what Mung says is not that one may prove the one from the other — all such proof attempts will shipwreck on having to use implicitly what one wishes to prove (starting with distinct identity) — but that there is a mutual, triune core to logic such that the one involves and directly, inseparably, inexorably leads to the other.

    Yes, this is another trinity: the core triply manifest faces of the foundation of right and responsible reason, thought and communication rooted in distinct identity.

    Of common rank and nature so that once one understands the one instantly the other two are implicitly present and can be discussed as faces of the crystalline core of rationality.

    Again, I summarise (cf here):

    A, say a bright red ball on a table, in the world W. W in the widest relevant sense.

    W = { A | ~A }, dichotomy of distinct identity — henceforward, DDI.

    A is itself, [A => A] = 1, LOI

    No x in W is such that x is both A and ~A, [A AND ~A] = 0, LNC

    No y in W is such that y is in both A and ~A or in neither A and ~A. [A X-OR ~A] = 1, LEM.

    Almost trivial, but oh so pivotal, so pregnant with the utmost consequences!

    The above is NOT a proof or even a proposition antecedent to these laws. Just by stating these things, the triune first principles of right reason are everywhere manifest. Inescapable. To communicate we use symbols with distinct identity. The three laws are already present from the first step.

    We CANNOT prove these, we prove from these forced first premises.

    I seek to help us understand self evident truth by pointing to the unifying core of distinct identity. St Paul, likely reflecting Greek tutors of his youth, gives a classic statement that is well worth again focussing, from 1 Cor 14:

    1 Cor 14:7 If even inanimate musical instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone [listening] know or understand what is played? 8 And if the war bugle gives an uncertain (indistinct) call, who will prepare for battle?

    9 Just so it is with you; if you in the [unknown] tongue speak words that are not intelligible, how will anyone understand what you are saying? For you will be talking into empty space!

    10 There are, I suppose, all these many [to us unknown] tongues in the world [somewhere], and none is destitute of [its own power of] expression and meaning. 11 But if I do not know the force and significance of the speech (language), I shall seem to be a foreigner to the one who speaks [to me], and the speaker who addresses [me] will seem a foreigner to me. [AMP]

    The Apostle, Martyr and greatest Christian theologian, but one, is right. And he embeds the triple principles in foundational Christian theology. Just as, he points out the pivotal nature of the prophesied, fulfulled Messiah in 1 Cor 15, and as he used this in speaking to our sense of God on Mars Hill and as that again appears in the opening words of Romans, which then goes on to a searing diagnostic as to how and why we rebel against and suppress the knowledge of the root reality of God and so of our being under moral government:

    Rom 1:1 Paul, a [a]bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle (special messenger, personally chosen representative), set apart for [preaching] the [b]gospel of God [the good news of salvation], 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the sacred Scriptures— 3 [the good news] regarding His Son, who, as to the flesh [His human nature], was born a descendant of David [to fulfill the covenant promises], 4 and [as to His divine nature] according to the Spirit of holiness was openly designated to be the Son of God with power [in a triumphant and miraculous way] by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 It is through Him that we have received grace and [our] apostleship to promote obedience to the faith and make disciples for His name’s sake among all the Gentiles . . . .

    16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation [from His wrath and punishment] to everyone who believes [in Christ as Savior], to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed in a way that awakens more faith]. As it is written and forever remains written, “The just and upright shall live by faith.”

    18 For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. 21 For even though [d]they knew God [as the Creator], they did not [e]honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for [f]an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.

    24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their own hearts to [sexual] impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], 25 because [by choice] they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen . . . .

    28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, 29 until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness. They are gossips [spreading rumors], 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors [of new forms] of evil, disobedient and disrespectful to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful [without pity]. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree and His judgment, that those who do such things deserve death, yet they not only do them, but they even [enthusiastically] approve and tolerate others who practice them. [AMP]

    A grim warning on the matches we trifle with, c 57 AD.

    KF

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    Now, can we get back to the first cause issue? Maybe starting from Plato?

  95. 95
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I have also spoken of the triple first principles of right reason, present instantly as distinct identity is present.

    Those are immediately present and inseparable, they are not inferred logically the one from the other, as such inference implicitly uses said laws.

    Apparently not; it’s not clear to me that each entails the other two either. If another thread more suited to that topic is posted, I will explain my concerns.

    Indeed, as you have acknowledged then sidestepped, just to argue about such you are using letters and words that depend on distinct identity and its concomitants.

    I did freely acknowledge that, but please, I didn’t sidestep anything.

    If you refuse this, you lock yourself out of rational discussion.

    If you look through the table of contents of a journal on philosophical logic, you will find many instances of authors criticizing even such sacred laws/rules as LEM, modus tollens, modus ponens (!), etc. And some of these criticisms are very difficult to respond to.

    If there do exist violations of these laws, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all rational discussion is out the window. They could still hold in restricted domains, albeit not universally. Just as we cannot expect to apply unrestricted set comprehension without getting into trouble (Russell’s Paradox), yet restricted set comprehension is safe.

    PS: And to set up and argue about the sandbox system of intuitionistic logic or the like do or do not the proponents rely on distinct identity? Patently, they do. So any sound understanding of such systems must reckon with this on pain of self referential absurdity. Shutting one’s eyes to a relevant consideration is not a sign of the good logical health of such a scheme.

    I will repeat once more that I haven’t denied the concept of distinct identity. I don’t think Brouwer and other intuitionists have either. Yet they elect not to hold LEM to be universally true, for reasons stemming from their metaphysical views. I don’t know how to evaluate the “logical health” of their scheme, but as I stated above, they seem to do ok. If you can show that intuitionist mathematics is “ill”, I would like to see some specifics (in another thread of course).

  96. 96
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Regarding your illustration:

    Again, I summarise (cf here):

    A, say a bright red ball on a table, in the world W. W in the widest relevant sense.

    W = { A | ~A }, dichotomy of distinct identity — henceforward, DDI.

    A is itself, [A => A] = 1, LOI

    No x in W is such that x is both A and ~A, [A AND ~A] = 0, LNC

    No y in W is such that y is in both A and ~A or in neither A and ~A. [A X-OR ~A] = 1, LEM.

    Almost trivial, but oh so pivotal, so pregnant with the utmost consequences!

    If we are dealing with physical objects in the universe, then this sounds reasonable to me (in fact, my example of locating coolant in an auto-parts store is quite similar).

    Is this argument meant to apply more generally, so that you can partition the collection of all “things” in the world, including abstractions, into a disjoint union of A and its complement, for any collection A?

  97. 97
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, when they criticise LEM etc, they are using what they would oppose, as they rely on distinct identity. Once there is a dichotomy of the world and its contents, W = {A | ~A} then immediately, the dividing line is not a zone, it is a line, any y in W must be on one side or the other, it cannot sit on the line and it is excluded from being out of W as W is the relevant reality in the widest sense. You can set up a model world sandbox, but to do so you will instantly rely on the LEM. That is why something like Fuzzy Logic with partial memberships is NOT exceptional to the principle. But one can cling to the absurdity of undermining the foundation on which s/he must stand to attempt any rational interaction with reality. That is why I am emphasising that to communicate or argue or even think inside our own heads we must implicitly rely on distinct identity. And once that dichotomising obtains, LEM is instantly present as part of its meaning, alongside LOI and LNC. Kindly see again what I have laid out. KF

    PS: I do not have time just now to host a thread. Maybe HeKS or SB or even Mung (IIRC) would do so.

  98. 98
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, once any entity is distinct, the dichotomising obtains, thus DDI, and instantly LOI, LNC, LEM. Notice from Paul’s example of songs and trumpet calls, there is free communication between a world of sounds and the world of ideas, tunes and battle calls — a worm wriggling by may detect the sound but does not understand the meaning. Just as, a little while ago, I notices an egret on a fence, opening the beak and vibrating the throat at about 10 Hz, but no audible sound was there in the human hearing band. Soon another joined it on the fence and the two were there singing away in the infrasound zone, I assume; inaudible to me but clearly meaningful to them; though of course birds will not be discussing deep abstractions such as are used in Mathematics. No, the thought world is not locked away inside an ugly gulch from the world of things in themselves, that too is a case of self referential incoherence as F H Bradley pointed out in 1897. KF

  99. 99
    StephenB says:

    CLAVDIVS:

    The Son is God (A=B)
    The Triune Godhead is God (C=B)
    The Son is not the Triune Godhead (A C)

    …the Son both is and is not the Triune Godhead. QED

    No. The Triune God consists of three Divine persons and one Divine nature. Thus, they are not said to be both three and one in the same sense. The Son is not one with the Triune God in the sense of personhood, only in the sense of nature. The law of Identity holds that A cannot also be not A at the same time and in the same sense. The Christian Trinity does not violate the Law of Non-contradiction.

  100. 100
    StephenB says:

    CLAVDIVS

    The Son is God (A = B)

    The Son shares the same Divine nature as the other persons in the Trinity. He does not share their personhood. Thus, A does not equal A in that sense.

  101. 101
    CLAVDIVS says:

    StephenB

    So do either the Son or the Triune Godhead have something the other lacks?

  102. 102
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, when they criticise LEM etc, they are using what they would oppose, as they rely on distinct identity. Once there is a dichotomy of the world and its contents, W = {A | ~A} then immediately, the dividing line is not a zone, it is a line, any y in W must be on one side or the other, it cannot sit on the line and it is excluded from being out of W as W is the relevant reality in the widest sense.

    I don’t believe this follows. I can conceive of a scenario where the LEM holds to a sufficient degree to allow rational discourse, yet it fails to hold universally.

    In any case, I think if you want to refute Dummett, et al, it would pay to read their actual arguments and locate specific errors in their arguments.

    Now, I’m not suggesting that you actually do that; we are all busy and have priorities, and probably this issue is not so urgent.

    PS: I do not have time just now to host a thread. Maybe HeKS or SB or even Mung (IIRC) would do so.

    I’m also a little short on time right now, so I probably couldn’t participate to a great extent.

    DS, once any entity is distinct, the dichotomising obtains, thus DDI, and instantly LOI, LNC, LEM. Notice from Paul’s example of songs and trumpet calls, there is free communication between a world of sounds and the world of ideas, tunes and battle calls — a worm wriggling by may detect the sound but does not understand the meaning.

    I take it this answers my #96 in the affirmative?

    Here’s my concern in more detail. Given a particular red ball, we can partition the world into the red ball, and everything else.

    We can also form the collection of all red balls, which is an entity in its own right. Therefore the world consists of this collection, along with everything else.

    Likewise, consider the set {1, 2, 3}, which is an entity in the world. The world consists of this set together with everything else.

    Now form the entity A, consisting of the collection of all sets. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

    Let B be the collection of all sets which are not elements of themselves (for example {1, 2, 3}). Then the world consists of B together with everything else.

    If B is in B, then B is not in B. If B is not in B, then B is in B.

    Now I will emphasize that the above is not a “proof”, but illustrates how using this world-partition process without restriction can lead to problems.

  103. 103
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note to CLAVDIVS’s claim, it is interesting to note that Godel himself, one of the greatest logicians who ever existed on the face of earth, saw no contradiction at all in God playing ‘the role of a person’.

    The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman
    Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.”
    – Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest mathematicians/logicians who ever existed)
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    Further note:

    “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.,,, Mind is separate from matter.”
    Kurt Gödel – Hao Wang’s supplemental biography of Gödel, A Logical Journey, MIT Press, 1996. [9.4.12]

    Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (1931), proves that there are limits to what can be ascertained by mathematics. Kurt Gödel (ref. on cite), halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”. Thus, based on the position that an equation cannot prove itself, the constructs are based on assumptions some of which will be unprovable.”
    Cf., Stephen Hawking & Leonard Miodinow, The Grand Design (2010) @ 15-6
    https://books.google.com/books?id=7MzOBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA536#v=onepage&q&f=false

    “If the world is rationally constructed and has meaning, then there must be such a thing [as an afterlife].”
    Kurt Gödel – Hao Wang, “A Logical Journey: From Gödel to Philosophy”, 1996, pp. 104–105.

    Gödel’s ontological proof
    Excerpt: In letters to his mother, who was not a churchgoer and had raised Kurt and his brother as freethinkers,[3] Gödel argued at length for a belief in an afterlife.[4] He did the same in an interview with a skeptical Hao Wang, who said: “I expressed my doubts as G spoke […] Gödel smiled as he replied to my questions, obviously aware that his answers were not convincing me.”[5] Wang reports that Gödel’s wife, Adele, two days after Gödel’s death, told Wang that “Gödel, although he did not go to church, was religious and read the Bible in bed every Sunday morning.”[6] In an unmailed answer to a questionnaire, Gödel described his religion as “baptized Lutheran (but not member of any religious congregation). My belief is theistic, not pantheistic, following Leibniz rather than Spinoza.”[7]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof

    Computer Scientists ‘Prove’ God Exists – Oct. 23, 2013
    Excerpt: Two scientists have formalized a theorem regarding the existence of God penned by mathematician Kurt Gödel.,,,
    researchers,, say they have actually proven is a theorem put forward by renowned Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel,,,
    Using an ordinary MacBook computer, they have shown that Gödel’s proof was correct,,,
    http://www.spiegel.de/internat.....28668.html

    Of note, although most people, as well as theologians, philosophers and logicians, would certainly think that proving Godel’s ontological argument for the existence of God logically true, and consistent, was a pretty big deal, it seems the author of the article (and researchers?) were more impressed with the advance in computer programming that it represented than they were impressed with the fact that they proved Godel’s proof was actually true. This is how the author of the article put it:

    “and the real news isn’t about a Supreme Being, but rather what can now be achieved in scientific fields using superior technology.”

    I think someone may have their priorities a bit confused in that article.

    Interestingly, in this following video, entitled “The Ontological Argument for the Triune God”, refines the Ontological argument for a maximally great Being into a proof that, because of the characteristic of ‘maximally great love’, God must exist in more than one person:

    The Ontological Argument for the Triune God – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGVYXog8NUg

    Fine Tuning, Multiverse Pink Unicorns, and The Triune God – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1145151962164402/?type=2&theater

    i.e. without this distinction we are stuck with the logical contradiction of maximally great love being grounded in ones own self which is the very antithesis of maximally great love.

    further note:

    The Trinity Explained – video playlist (InspiringPhilosophy)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gCv-FAjgps&list=PL1mr9ZTZb3TWpnOJV09MuEAwbbQNCS6Qf

  104. 104
    daveS says:

    KF,

    An addendum to my #102: I think my argument needs some work; there are probably issues of equivocation in its current form.

    However, I do think it’s likely that your W = {A | ~A} explanation is going to have problems, provided it’s stated precisely and in full generality.

    I assume that, as we’re all in favor of rational discourse, it’s fair for me to examine it closely, and even nitpick it in search of inconsistencies?

  105. 105
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, once you have distinct identity as a precondition of thought, reasoning and communication, the DDI applies. As that little bar between the two partitions is a line not a band, LOI, LNC and LEM are immediately present. You can set up some sort of sandbox if you want but that sandbox had better be understood i/l/o the DDI. KF

    PS: As for my illustration — it is not a proof, it cannot be; all proofs must use the triple laws — the issue is, we cannot think or reason or communicate without distinct identity, thus DDI. That is all that is needed for attempted denials to end in absurdity of self reference. ANYTHING that tries to deny the triple law, is incoherent. No ifs, ands or buts. Ex falso, quodlibet.

  106. 106
    StephenB says:

    Dave

    I assume that, as we’re all in favor of rational discourse, it’s fair for me to examine it closely, and even nitpick it in search of inconsistencies, right?

    Dave, modern logic, as used by the majority of mathematicians (and many modern philosophers) is practical for making calculations or telling a machine to “do this” and “don’t do that.” However, it is useless in the things that matter most, such as life, death, ethics, and most of all, the “nature” of things.

    Example: The morality of humans is based on their nature as rational beings with free will. Because they do not have the same nature as animals, it is understood that they should not act like animals. All this is related to the law of identity, namely that a thing is what it is and is not another thing. A man is a man and is not an animal, which is another kind of thing.

    It is the same with respect to the proofs for God’s existence or, for that matter, the nature of the Christian Trinity, or many other vitally important subjects. None of the modern forms of logic (intuitionism, constructivism, symbolism, etc) are dependable as methods for evaluating such issues for the simple reason that they are too narrow in scope.

    It’s not about criticizing one form of logic at the expense of another. It is about using the right tool for the right job. Modern logic, though useful in some contexts, cannot speak to issues of identity (or the law of identity) because it doesn’t address natures and essences. Indeed, it doesn’t even concern itself with metaphysical truth.

    One of its adherents, RDFish, recently tried to engage me about the arguments for God’s existence and the “first cause” using “predicate logic.” During the discussion, he actually advanced the wildly illogical proposition that “Creation ex-nihilo is the same thing as something coming from nothing.” This is the kind of madness that sometimes ensues when a highly constricted form of symbolic logic is used in place of Aristotelian logic.

    Modern logic doesn’t care what” a thing is or why it came to be. By extension, it does not speak to meaning, value, or purpose. It is a specialization that caught on because its anti-realism and constricted metaphysical foundation is popular among the atheists who run the academy.

  107. 107
    daveS says:

    StephenB,

    Dave, modern logic, as used by the majority of mathematicians (and many modern philosophers) is practical for making calculations or telling a machine to “do this” and “don’t do that.” However, it is useless in the things that matter most, such as life, death, ethics, and most of all, the “nature” of things.

    Maybe so, but I’m not speaking of using any “modern” logic, but rather just rules of logic KF himself agrees to. If we could hammer out some of the details in the W = {A | ~A} explanation, then perhaps it would be possible to find an inconsistency in it.

    I’m not interested in getting into meaning, value, purpose, etc, but rather I want to look at KF’s explanation of how “distinct identity” entails the three laws of thought.

  108. 108
    StephenB says:

    CLAVDIVS

    So do either the Son or the Triune Godhead have something the other lacks?

    Keep in mind that the Christian Trinity (or Triune Godhead) is a community of persons, all of whom share the same Divine nature. No one Divine person lacks something that another Divine person has.

  109. 109
    vjtorley says:

    CLAVDIVS

    You ask: “So do either the Son or the Triune Godhead have something the other lacks?”

    The Son, in Christian theology, possesses the Divine nature in all its fullness. Consequently, there is no power possessed by the Triune Godhead which is not also possessed by the Son, and vice versa.

    However, the Son is distinguished from the other persons by His relationships towards them. The Son is timelessly generated from the Father. However, the Triune Godhead is not generated from the Father. Thus the Son has a relationship to the Father which the Triune Godhead as a whole does not.

  110. 110
    StephenB says:

    Dave

    Maybe so, but I’m not speaking of using any “modern” logic, but rather just rules of logic KF himself agrees to.

    You seem to have written of little else, referring to the journal of philosophical logic and making references to other modern philosophers who deny rationality for reasons I have already mentioned.

    If there do exist violations of these laws, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all rational discussion is out the window.

    Yes it does. If the Laws of identity and non-contradiction can be nullified, all rationality must be abandoned. I can argue that point all day long.

    If we could hammer out some of the details in the W = {A | ~A} explanation, then perhaps it would be possible to find an inconsistency in it.

    A thing cannot be what it is (its essence or nature) and also be another thing at the same time and in the same sense. That is the Law of Identity. in that context, the Law of the Excluded middle holds.

    I challenge anyone to find an inconsistency in that principle. One cannot even search for an inconsistency without assuming the very same principle he is trying to question. if you think you can, please make your case.

    Atheists in the academy may deny the Law of identity, but they typically do so in the presence of young, undeveloped minds who are powerless to resist.

  111. 111
    HeKS says:

    CLAVDIVS,

    As I’ve mentioned here on a few occasions, I’m a Christian but I do not accept the Trinity doctrine (in fact, I’m a staunch critic of it). Nonetheless, I have on a few occasions also defended it against false attacks and I feel I must do so here again. What you have identified is not so much a logical contradiction in the Trinity doctrine proper (though I believe those do actually exist) but an equivocation in the terminology used by Trinitarians to describe the doctrine.

    You asked if either the Son or the Triune Godhead have something the other lacks. The answer is quite obviously, “yes”. As per the doctrine, the Triune Godhead has within it the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Son does not have the Father, the Holy Spirit (or himself?) within him. When the term “God” is applied to the Triune Godhead it is basically a label of collective identification (almost like a team name), but when it is applied to the Father, Son or Holy Spirit it is a description of either that person’s substance/nature or their position/role. As such, descriptions of the Trinity are often replete with equivocations on the meaning of “God” in any given statement, and this is what you have clued in on, but this particular issue doesn’t constitute a legitimate logical contradiction. And again, keep in mind that I’m saying this as someone who absolutely rejects the Trinity doctrine, so I have zero reason to defend it against legitimate attacks. I simply have a hard time giving incorrect arguments a pass even when they are attacking something that I disagree with.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  112. 112
    daveS says:

    StephenB,

    You seem to have written of little else, referring to the journal of philosophical logic and making references to other modern philosophers who deny rationality for reasons I have already mentioned.

    If you go back and look at our earlier discussion of this issue in previous threads, I think you will see that my primary interest in this subject is how or if the three rules of thought are “corollaries” of distinct identity.

    Yes it does. If the Laws of identity and non-contradiction can be nullified, all rationality must be abandoned. I can argue that point all day long.

    Whether that’s the case or not I’ll leave for another day. I’m focused here on the distinct identity/three rules of thought connection.

    A thing cannot be what it is (its essence or nature) and also be another thing at the same time and in the same sense. That is the Law of Identity. in that context, the Law of the Excluded middle holds.

    I challenge anyone to find an inconsistency in that principle. One cannot even search for an inconsistency without assuming the very same principle he is trying to question. if you think you can, please make your case.

    Atheists in the academy may deny the Law of identity, but they typically do so in the presence of young, undeveloped minds who are powerless to resist.

    I’m not trying to find an inconsistency in the laws of identity or excluded middle. Again, I’m interested in the argument KF presented.

  113. 113
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the issue is whether to reason, think and communicate we must respond to distinct identity. We do, and the works of your mathematicians are the same. Once DDI is there, instantly the LOI, LNC and LEM apply. If one tries to set up schemes that deny or undermine such, one is undermining the very tools one needs to proceed. Self referential absurdity. KF

    PS: Note, I am not offering a proof but a symbolised explanation. It is an invitation to understanding, not an argument. All arguments rest on distinct identity thus its immediate properties, so these laws are prior to proof, to attempt to prove them would only reveal we are already using them. And this is BEFORE we evaluate truth or otherwise of propositions.

  114. 114
    Origenes says:

    StephenB: A thing cannot be what it is (its essence or nature) and also be another thing at the same time and in the same sense. That is the Law of Identity. in that context, the Law of the Excluded middle holds.

    I challenge anyone to find an inconsistency in that principle.

    Do you hold that it is in accord with the Law of Identity, to state that God is, at the same time and in the same sense, the cause and the effect of His (continued) existence — God keeps Himself into existence?

  115. 115
    sean samis says:

    HeKS @70:

    I would suggest a slight clarification on the idea of “observed scientific evidence that God exists”, as I think that such a claim can be easily misunderstood.

    When we talk about scientific evidence for God’s existence, what we typically mean is not that there is scientific evidence for the conclusion, “God exists”, but that there is scientific evidence for the premises of deductive arguments for God’s existence. We would not really expect to have direct scientific evidence for the existence of a being like God, but we would expect and certainly do have significant amounts of scientific evidence supporting the premises of arguments that lead to the conclusion of God’s existence as a matter of logical necessity.

    Anyway, perhaps I’m being nitpicky here, but it just seems like an area where there is room for some misunderstanding that might interfere with productive discussion.

    I appreciate this and the distinction you make.

    Can you elaborate on what you consider to be “the premises of deductive arguments for God’s existence”? I know there is no shortage of suggestions on this site, but many if not most are untenable. I am interested in knowing which premises you think are valid.

    sean s.

  116. 116
    StephenB says:

    DaveS

    I’m not trying to find an inconsistency in the laws of identity or excluded middle. Again, I’m interested in the argument KF presented.

    What is it about his argument that you find problematic or different from mine?

  117. 117
    StephenB says:

    Origenes

    Do you hold that it is in accord with the Law of Identity, to state that God is, at the same time and in the same sense, the cause and the effect of His (continued) existence — God keeps Himself into existence?

    Hello Origenes. Thank you for the question.

    God can be neither the cause nor the effect of his existence. To be more precise, God does not “have” existence; He “is” existence. In other words, He is “Self Existent ,” a logical requirement of being the first cause. Thus, He is the cause of all other existence. Because He is existence or is being, He can pass it along to creatures, which means that they then “have” what was given to them by someone else.

    It would be absurd to suggest that someone could have caused or passed existence along to God because that would mean that He is dependent on that person for His existence and would no longer be the first cause. It would be equally absurd to argue that God brought Himself into existence from a state of nothingness because that would mean that He had to exist before He existed in order to give existence to Himself.

  118. 118
    daveS says:

    StephenB,

    What is it about his argument that you find problematic or different from mine?

    The part that I think could potentially be problematic concerns what “world partitions” are allowed. KF has illustrated the concept by considering a red ball A. Then for any y in the world, y is either in A or in A-complement (so y is either red or not red). I’m not clear exactly what y is ranging over, other than “entities” in the world, but I find this plausible. Just as any item for sale in an auto parts store is either coolant or is not coolant.

    What if we wanted to branch out from red balls, and form other partitions? Can I take literally any predicate P with domain W, then define A = {y in W : P(y)} and then write W as the union of A and W – A?

  119. 119
    daveS says:

    Correction to the third sentence of the first paragraph: “so y is either in the red ball or not in the red ball”.

  120. 120
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, if partition zone A is the red ball, ~A by logic is that rest of the world that is not the given red ball A on that table. You patently know logic so you have to know this. Something is wrong, very wrong here. KF

    PS: Any y in W will be the ball, or not the ball but not both or neither. Again, someone at your level per earlier discussions must know this long since already so something is very wrong here.

  121. 121
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Eh? I don’t see that I’ve written anything contrary to what you say in #120, except that I allow y to be part of the ball and not the whole thing.

  122. 122
    kairosfocus says:

    Try: “for any y in the world, y is either in A or in A-complement (so y is either red or not red).” Way off base, and yes I didn’t think it necessary to explicitly say y could be part of the ball. y is explicitly an entity in w so is a stand-in for element of the world in broadest relevant sense. The struggle over first principles in dealing with highly educated people c 2016 does not bode well for our civilisation. And we have not got back to first causes yet. KF

  123. 123
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I still don’t see the problem. Did you see my correction in post #119? What is “way off base”?

    It might have been clearer if I had written that “either y is a part of the red ball or is not a part of the red ball”.

  124. 124
    daveS says:

    nm

  125. 125
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Looking through my post #119, I thought I might have located the error you are referring to. In that post, I was thinking of the ys as each being wholly contained in A or A-complement. Of course that’s not true for all y in W, so I thought that might be the problem. But looking back at your formulation of the LEM, it seems you make the same assumption?

    No y in W is such that y is in both A and ~A or in neither A and ~A. [A X-OR ~A] = 1, LEM.

    As I stated above somewhere, I wasn’t sure what the ys are ranging over. Points in space? The whole ball and the rest of W (so just two ys)? I don’t know. Clearly you exclude “parts” of the world which overlap A and A-complement, such as a larger ball containing the red ball in its interior.

    In any case, I thought that your illustration was supposed to show that any individual point in space either lies in the ball or not in the ball (and of course not both).

    So if P(x) means x is a point in the ball, then for all points (in space) x in W, either P(x) or ~P(x). That’s true, correct? That is indeed a version of LEM. It might not be how you intended the illustration to work, but that’s how I interpreted it. And it’s consistent with your formulation above.

    If you have a different interpretation, would you explain it?

  126. 126
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @117,

    SB: God can be neither the cause nor the effect of his existence. (…)

    So, God’s continued existence has no cause.

    SB: It would be equally absurd to argue that God brought Himself into existence from a state of nothingness because that would mean that He had to exist before He existed in order to give existence to Himself.

    This is not a response to my question. For clarity, my question is: can God be the cause of His continued existence? Note that ‘continued existence’ does not imply starting from “a state of nothingness”.
    Your line of thought seems to be: no external explanation, therefor, no explanation at all. I don’t agree with that. I hold that there can be an internal explanation.
    Similarly, there is no external explanation for something to be free, but there may be an internal explanation. Similarly, there is no external explanation for something to be an autonomous source of energy, but there may be an internal explanation (see # 35 and HeKS #69).

  127. 127
    Silver Asiatic says:

    sean samis @ 46

    That there must have been a first cause is clear; what it was is entirely unclear to me.

    I think the same method that enabled you to conclude that there must have been a first cause will also provide clarity on some aspects of what the first cause must be. That’s what we have to build on when evaluating “the most reasonable solution” to the question. We don’t need to know everything, but through evaluating multiple lines of evidence we can draw a conclusion based on reason and knowledge.

    So, we begin … we say “a first cause”. Already we know something. It’s first. So, it doesn’t follow from another cause. It’s the cause that explains what follows – matter, energy, space, time and the forces and regularities (order, laws) that formed the universe.

    So just simply, we don’t even say “a first cause” but rather “the first cause”. The first cause of space, matter and time – obviously and logically, cannot be within or part of space, matter and time.

    It is far more logical than citing an unobserved immaterial designer existing outside of space, matter, and time. After all, your “designer” is just a “thing” with additional hypothetical properties. If the thing is itself illogical, larding on additional hypothetical properties will not redeem it.

    The designer does not need to be observed in order to be a logically consistent entity proposed as the originator of the universe. If the universe had a beginning (the consensus of science says it does), then whatever caused it must be outside the universe. You seem to be saying that it is just as logical to say that “the cause of the material universe was a material thing within the universe”. Right? Can you see how that is not logical?
    Rather, it is more logical to say that the cause of the universe was immaterial and existing outside of space, matter, and time – the very proposition you objected to.

    How would we know that? People claim all sorts of things; why would we believe these claims? Especially when different persons claim contradictory information is true?

    Evaluating testimonial evidence is a necessary part of research in many fields. We arrive at knowledge based on multiple lines of evidence and in seeking the most reasonable explanation. This is true for historical research. We can conclude that Julius Caesar existed based on what people claimed. When evaluating theological claims, it’s first necessary to look for similarities, while recognizing differences or contradictions, as you cite. Then, some kind of conclusion needs to be drawn from that research. One kind of conclusion could be: “every single one of those claims is either a lie or a delusion or hallucination or ignorance”. A careful study of the topic, however, will make it very difficult to sweep all the evidence away with that kind of denial. So, it takes some research as a starting point.

    The non-deity is preferable because it is simpler; it requires no considerations of motive, intent, goals, etc. A deity is the ultimately complex answer to any question. The point of Ockham’s Razor is to prefer the simplest answer as long as it remains unrefuted.

    We observe purpose, goals and motives. The origin of these have to be explained. A non-deity first cause which lacks purpose or design power would be deterministic. But determined by what? If determined, then it’s not a First Cause, but rather a second cause.

    Even still, how does a non-conscious entity create purpose, consciousness, goals and motives? The effects cannot contain what the cause does not have in potentiality.
    The first cause explains the origin of these things because the first cause possesses them in fullness. That’s just logical. It’s up to you to come up with a better alternative.

    I know of no reason why not, PLUS the first cause could easily be a group of things, not just a singular thing.

    This brings us back to previous points. Again, the first cause does not follow other causes. As first, it is alone. Plus, it is not a thing since it is not bounded by space, time or matter. To have two things, there would need to be a boundary between them. They would occupy particular space or substance. One thing would have properties that the other did not have. How did they get those distinguishing properties? How long did they possess those differences? Do they add or subtract properties between each other? Why are there ten of these things and not twenty or thirty or a billion?

    When we conclude there is One First Cause, all of that complexity is avoided. A single first cause is not bounded by space. It possesses all being, all potential, in itself. As such, it is non-contingent, non-dependent on other beings for its own existence. It has the power to cause all things, so it doesn’t get power from somewhere else (thus it’s power would be caused by something else that came before it and it wouldn’t be the First Cause). A First Cause, with all power, all being, unbounded by space and non-dependent on anything else for it’s own existence – is a much simpler and more logical explanation.

    True enough by irrelevant because we haven’t observed that our first cause acted with purpose; that is an ungrounded assumption. It is based on observation from how things happen in our universe. But we are talking about things happening OUTSIDE our universe so those observations have limited value in this context.

    It’s true that in scientific or philosophical terms we have to draw inferences from what we see in our universe and this is limited. In theological research we look at information which may have been received from beyond this universe. But aside from that, even from what we can observe – we see purpose, goals, motives, intent, planning, design. Some explanation for their origin is needed. The fact that we do not fully know does not mean we cannot draw “the best explanation given the data we have”.

    Science remains the most valuable method for understanding the ultimate cause of the universe.

    Science measures material entities in time and in space. The origin of matter, time and space cannot be understood by science.

    We don’t know to what extent objects or events outside our universe can be observed,

    If they can be scientifically observed, then they are, by definition, within our universe.

    It may well be that science will come up empty, but we should not give up on it without trying.

    Science has already come up empty. Additionally, science only works in a universe bounded by linear, sequential procedures. So science is bound by time. Before and after – that’s experiment, observation and conclusion.
    Before time existed, there could not be sequential processes accessible to science.

    That said, science is not a good method for understanding the ultimate cause (the First Cause) of the universe.

  128. 128
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,

    you shifted from ball-ness to colour; that caught my eye. It is a significant confusion, which I corrected.

    Next, it is from the first quite explicit that y is a variable indicating entities in W, the world broadly considered; entities in a world obviously include concrete and abstract things, and world here would include a multiverse or the like. In that world, some A holds distinct identity leading to DDI, with a partition. No entity y in W will be other than in domain or zone A or zone ~A. Ball on table, or not.

    The partition is a dichotomy not a band [borders can be defined, an onward exercise], so y (already identified as in W) can only be in ONE of the two zones. This is LEM and the X-OR form gives it exactitude.

    This is all on a tangent to the focal matter for this thread’s OP, and with all respect is an exercise in making mountains out of mole-hills. To be direct, I get the distinct impression of pseudo-precision as a cover for evasion of the simple and clear.

    Let us go back to, to think, reason, communicate intelligibly, we must revert to distinct identity, imposing DDI and its concomitants, LOI, LNC, LEM. As I pointed out long since:

    Again, I summarise (cf here):

    A, say a bright red ball on a table, in the world W. W in the widest relevant sense.

    W = { A | ~A }, dichotomy of distinct identity — henceforward, DDI.

    A is itself, [A => A] = 1, LOI

    No x in W is such that x is both A and ~A, [A AND ~A] = 0, LNC

    No y in W is such that y is in both A and ~A or in neither A and ~A. [A X-OR ~A] = 1, LEM.

    Almost trivial, but oh so pivotal, so pregnant with the utmost consequences!

    The above is NOT a proof or even a proposition antecedent to these laws. Just by stating these things, the triune first principles of right reason are everywhere manifest. Inescapable. To communicate we use symbols with distinct identity. The three laws are already present from the first step.

    We CANNOT prove these, we prove from these forced first premises.

    I went on to highlight St Paul’s musical illustration (which actually embeds 1st principles of right reason in core Christian teaching, and a little later in Ch 15 he used A –> B –> C –> D reasoning then upended D, ~D to shatter the whole chain of implications . . . the Christian faith is anything but irrational!):

    1 Cor 14:7 If even inanimate musical instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone [listening] know or understand what is played? 8 And if the war bugle gives an uncertain (indistinct) call, who will prepare for battle?

    9 Just so it is with you; if you in the [unknown] tongue speak words that are not intelligible, how will anyone understand what you are saying? For you will be talking into empty space!

    10 There are, I suppose, all these many [to us unknown] tongues in the world [somewhere], and none is destitute of [its own power of] expression and meaning. 11 But if I do not know the force and significance of the speech (language), I shall seem to be a foreigner to the one who speaks [to me], and the speaker who addresses [me] will seem a foreigner to me. [AMP]

    Distinct identity, thus DDI, is foundational.

    You cannot think or reason or communicate without it, so any scheme of thought that undermines such is self-referentially incoherent.

    Now, Stanford Enc Phil speaks of Intuitionism thusly:

    Intuitionism is a philosophy of mathematics that was introduced by the Dutch mathematician L.E.J. Brouwer (1881–1966). Intuitionism is based on the idea that mathematics is a creation of the mind. The truth of a mathematical statement can only be conceived via a mental construction that proves it to be true, and the communication between mathematicians only serves as a means to create the same mental process in different minds.

    This view on mathematics has far reaching implications for the daily practice of mathematics . . .

    Instantly this is an error of substituting epistemology of warrant for ontology of truth. The truth says of what is, that it is and of what is not that it is not. So, millions have understood and conceived of undiscovered or latent or unproved truths that stand true without our having proved same. In the case of the 1st principles in view, they CANNOT be proved as all attempted proofs must use them.

    We are forced to start from these, humbly accepting them as self-evident.

    So, there is a crucial error at the beginning with the utmost consequences.

    Going on, obviously Intuitionists (like the rest of us) think, reason and communicate; thus they patently do — and must — rely on distinct identity, thus DDI and its instant corollaries, LOI, LNC, LEM.

    But, the little error at the beginning must take root, shoot up and bear its fruit. SEP immediately continues (I substitute symbols):

    . . . one of its consequences being that the principle of the excluded middle, (A v ~A) [–> an error, we need (A X-OR ~A) to be exact, aut not vel . . . ], is no longer valid. Indeed, there are propositions, like the Riemann hypothesis, for which there exists currently neither a proof of the statement nor of its negation. Since knowing the negation of a statement in intuitionism means that one can prove that the statement is not true, this implies that both A and ~A do not hold intuitionistically, at least not at this moment. The dependence of intuitionism on time is essential: statements can become provable in the course of time and therefore might become intuitionistically valid while not having been so before.

    This underscores the basic error, substituting epistemology for ontology.

    The system is fundamentally flawed, and creates confusion by pushing in novel and unjustified redefinitions of truth.

    All the while, these Mathematicians are using distinct identity and the DDI, thus LOI, LNC & LEM, while trying to deny by way of redefinitions. The ambiguities create confusions, the error of focus that shifts to epistemology from ontology compounds same. Then the embedding of self referential incoherence destabilises the system.

    Instead, these should acknowledge that truths can be unknown or even unknowable to us without this being meaningless — man is NOT the measure of all things. Then, they should work out a new and clean vocabulary for a logic of warrant and knowledge (as opposed to truth).

    And BTW, I add for those still belabouring, that I am convinced on long reflection on the subject that the orthodox Christian vision of the triune Godhead is coherent but embeds mysteries beyond our ken. A very similar issue.

    And this is the same triune, complex unity issue that appears with the triple first principles of right reason once we see the significance of DDI. Triply, instantly present regardless of which face we currently focus on, and inextricably fused in one whole. A whole that pervades our whole world of thought, understanding, reasoning and communication.

    Now, can we return to main focus?

    KF

  129. 129
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, the issue is the difference between necessary and contingent possible being. Once a world is, something is of utterly independent being, of eternal unconstrained character requiring no external on/off enabling causal factors; for, were there ever utter non-being such would forever obtain as a true nothing can have no causal capability. That such a being may be active and powerful mind with reflexivity is not a causal constraint. The whole domain of cause-effect is inherently about the contingent. For simple example two-ness is necessary (once distinct identity exists, it is eternally, instantly present) and has no dependence on external support, nor does it rely on a sort of pulling onself up by one’s own bootstraps. Our problem is lack of familiarity due to major defects of current education systems. KF

  130. 130
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: To refocus the first cause issue, again, Plato in The Laws Bk X:

    Ath[enian Stranger]. Then, by Heaven, we have discovered the source of this vain opinion of all those physical investigators; and I would have you examine their arguments with the utmost care, for their impiety is a very serious matter; they not only make a bad and mistaken use of argument, but they lead away the minds of others: that is my opinion of them.

    Cle. You are right; but I should like to know how this happens.

    Ath. I fear that the argument may seem singular.

    Cle. Do not hesitate, Stranger; I see that you are afraid of such a discussion carrying you beyond the limits of legislation. But if there be no other way of showing our agreement in the belief that there are Gods, of whom the law is said now to approve, let us take this way, my good sir.

    Ath. Then I suppose that I must repeat the singular argument of those who manufacture the soul according to their own impious notions; they affirm that which is the first cause of the generation and destruction of all things, to be not first, but last, and that which is last to be first, and hence they have fallen into error about the true nature of the Gods.

    Cle. Still I do not understand you.

    Ath. Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [[ = psuche], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body?

    Cle. Certainly.

    Ath. Then thought and attention and mind and art and law will be prior to that which is hard and soft and heavy and light; and the great and primitive works and actions will be works of art; they will be the first, and after them will come nature and works of nature, which however is a wrong term for men to apply to them; these will follow, and will be under the government of art and mind.

    Cle. But why is the word “nature” wrong?

    Ath. Because those who use the term mean to say that nature is the first creative power; but if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.]

    Here, this begins. Perhaps, that is where we need to go to understand and evaluate for ourselves.

    KF

  131. 131
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: From the OP:

    Coyne begins:

    The reason that Grayling didn’t crush Rowe was based on one thing: Anthony wasn’t up on the responses of physicists to the “fine tuning” and “first cause” arguments for God.

    Ok, so presumably Coyne is up on these responses and Grayling would have “crushed” Rowe if only he’d known what Coyne knows. So what does Coyne know? He continues:

    The rabbi made three arguments:

    You can’t get a universe from nothing; there is a “law” that everything that begins has a cause. Ergo, God. In response to Krauss’s book about how you can get a universe from a quantum vacuum, Rowe responded, as do many theologians, that “nothing” is not a quantum vacuum—it’s just “nothing.”

    I’ve heard this many times, and what strikes me is that theologians never define what they mean by “nothing”. Empty space, the quantum vacuum, isn’t nothing, they say so what is? In the end, I’ve realized that by “nothing,” theologians mean “that from which only God could have produced something.” At any rate, the “law of causation” doesn’t appear to hold in modern physics, and is not even part of modern physics, which has no such law. Some events really do seem uncaused.

    Here we see a prime example of the New Atheists’ lack of familiarity with very basic philosophical concepts coming back to bite them. Coyne faults Rowe for not defining exactly what “nothing” is, apparently under the impression that theologians are using the word in some special sense (they aren’t). If “nothing” is not a quantum vacuum, asks Coyne, then what is it? This seems fit for a comedy routine, because the answer is so painfully obvious. You see, “nothing” is not anything. “Nothing” is the complete absence of anything at all. You can’t describe “nothing” and assign it particular characteristics or properties because it is the complete lack of characteristics or properties. It is non-being. No energy, no fields, no laws, no particles, virtual or otherwise. It’s absolutely nothing. That something cannot come from nothing is not a law of physics, per se, but of metaphysics. One cannot hope to legitimize the notion of a universe popping into existence from absolutely nothing by pointing to apparent cases of unpredictable probabilistic effects taking place within some existing physical medium and labeling those cases as ‘seemingly uncaused’. There is no relevant connection between these propositions. To suggest that something might simply arise uncaused out of absolutely nothing at all is to not only court absurdity but to settle down and have kids with it.

    This is where the issues of possible vs impossible, and of contingent vs necessary being come to the fore. Until we understand this frame for thought on ontology, we will flounder in futility.

    My initial thoughts at 7 above:

    There is a problem of understanding possible vs impossible and contingent vs necessary being, thence the causal explanation for contingent, possible beings. Serious candidate necessary beings are either impossible or actual. The former, as core characteristics (like those of a square circle) stand in mutual contradiction. The latter, because such a being is embedded in the framework for a world to exist.

    For simple but telling example, once there is distinct identity, antithesis exists, W = {A |~A} and two-ness necessarily is. Also, the jointly present triple first principles of right reason will be undeniable: LOI, LNC, LEM. [–> notice how the simple has had to be belaboured at length as we have been taught to think otherwise, in ways that as just shown for Intuitionism, are self-referentially incoherent.]

    God, of course is in the first instance a serious candidate necessary being, while a now commonly suggested parody . . . the flying spaghetti monster . . . is at best a contingent, possible being. That the latter is offered in parody of the former, speaks volumes. (Where of course active, explicit denial or implicit dismissal of the reality of God implies a claim that the God of ethical theism is impossible of being.)

    In my further view, we are inescapably under moral government, and this demands that the root of reality be capable of grounding a world in which moral government is real. And those who suggest or imply that such is delusional should ponder how this pervades thought, starting with the sense of urgency towards truth that is a premise of responsible rationality.

    Then, in 17, I added:

    The core matter is possibility/ impossibility of being and contingency/ necessity of being.

    An impossible being is such that in no actual or potentially actual world, can it exist. This is because core characteristics stand in mutual contradiction, e.g. a square circle. (Note also, I have implied the context of possible worlds. A simple way is to look at clusters of variables, dynamics and propositions that define how a world is or may be.)

    A possible being would exist in at least one possible world, were that world actualised.

    Contingent beings would exist in one or more such worlds, but not all.

    For instance you or I are contingent. Like a fire exemplifies, such are dependent for existence on external, enabling on/off factors, so called necessary causal factors. (Necessary for the contingent being to exist.)

    A necessary being [in the ontological sense] is such that it has no dependence on external enabling factors, so a serious candidate will be either impossible or else actual. For instance two-ness is tied to distinct identity and thus is foundational to any world existing. It is a necessary being.

    Try to imagine two-ness coming to an end or beginning to exist. Futile. Necessary beings are eternal!

    That sounds strange to modern “scientific” ears.

    But it points to a deeper point. Nothing, non-being has no causal powers. Were there ever an utter nothing, such would forever obtain. That a world is, entails that something, at world root level, is a necessary being. (Where also, a serious candidate necessary being is either impossible or actual, tied to the logic of its core characteristics and what is required for a world to be.)

    In addition, we find ourselves inescapably under moral government. Even in reasoning we find ourselves under an urgency of truth and right. Were such delusional, it would undermine responsible rational mind.

    So, we face the IS-OUGHT gap at said world-root level.

    There must be an IS not only capable of causally grounding the world but also of grounding the moral world we inhabit.

    Such a being would not be caused, nor is it composite, etc.

    The best candidate is a mind, as to category, an eternal mind with power to call a world into being. And an inherently good mind.

    Where, such a serious candidate has long been on the table: the inherently good, creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    This is not religious dogma, I have defined a worldview entity often termed the God of the Philosophers, the God of ethical theism.

    If you doubt the assertion that this has been the only sustainably serious candidate, one is invited to simply submit another and proceed to comparative difficulties: _____________________ .

    So, God is not just a logical explanatory entity but an ontological- metaphysical one per the root of the world.

    And yes, as necessary, God would be at root of ANY possible world.

    I think these are where we can begin afresh i/l/o Plato in The Laws Bk X.

    KF

    PS: Yes, literally, our troubles start from misunderstanding nothingness; where, properly it refers to non-being, what rocks dream of {Ari] etc, that which utterly is not. That is how far we have regressed as a civilisation.

  132. 132
    mw says:

    Food for thought?:-

    At the ascension, witnesses testified, Jesus disappeared into the sky/space. It seems to me, eternal space and time is somehow part of physical space and time.
    The following extract is from a Catholic mystic of no repute. Allegedly, John Morgan’s guardian angel Seraph said:
    “. . . Material things are things you can touch and feel, even the rotations of gasses you see in space have an end, a life expectancy, a time when they begin and when they will terminate. But they move and exist in a spiritual space like man. Space is spiritual because it has no beginning and no end and it always existed in time and will never end in time, because it is part of God.
    Time is similar because it is beyond the understanding of the human intellect that it never began and will never end. The words time, beginning, the end, are words that were invented by man, because the human body like all material things is subject to these conditions. But even this word “world” only exists in man’s mind because he is not yet capable of the full comprehension of reality.
    . . . All of what I have told you is part of God’s plan. Space will always be a mystery to man yet he knows it is there. God will always be a mystery, yet he knows He is there. The existence of God is built into every soul born, and if man trusts in God he will have the answer to everything in God’s way, and in God’s time. That is all that man needs to know.”
    [Val Conlon, Angel on my Shoulder (Maryville: Ireland: Divine Mercy Publications, 2005), vol. 1, pp. 42–43.]

    Also, His instantaneous resurrection indicates in terms of that belief, instant was the creation of Adam and Eve, and instant the recreation of the form of Jesus from dead matter. The spirit gives life, not matter.

    That is, God/Jesus instantly generated himself [evolved if you must] into a dual life form that could accommodate the physical and the spiritual. Therefore, proving within the limits of belief, Darwinian evolution theory is false.

    The first causeless cause, does not wait on time or for time. He commands and it is done. That is why He is the Almighty whom Darwin had first to eject and reject to put his creation myth in operation and beguile almost the world.

    However, surely, God exists in eternal time and space, or indeed, is part of such. Of which we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

  133. 133
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mw

    Interesting, and I would tend to agree with the quote and your observations.

    The mystic received knowledge from beyond the universe, from an angelic source. The idea that there is a ‘spiritual space’, incomprehensible in material terms is reasonable. The only problem I have with it is regarding how ‘time will never end’. The classical understanding is that reality itself is ‘timeless’. It’s the eternal present.

    More information from mysticism – a very basic source – Moses’ theophany where God names Himself “I am Who am”.

    There was have the First Cause cosmological argument from a mystical source. “I am Who exists”. Or “I am Existence itself”. Yes, the First Cause is the source of All Being, All Actuality and All Reality. Plus, “I am” – means “I exist Now”. I am The Now, The Present. So, there’s no time – just Being in the Present tense.

    Philosophical and theological arguments support this.

    A quote I use from another Catholic (of high repute) mystic, St. John of Avila:

    “Earthy happiness, like smoke, gradually fades away and is not seen. The years we pass here are as but a brief dream, from which we awake to find it has all been an illusion”.

    It’s an illusion that mirrors the real, reality. Our sight is filtered by matter, time and space. We see only within this universe. Mystics have a glimpse from beyond, visions momentary but clear. Philosophy points to the need for this kind of knowledge. Thus theology.

    1 Cor 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

  134. 134
    daveS says:

    KF,

    you shifted from ball-ness to colour; that caught my eye. It is a significant confusion, which I corrected.

    Yes, of course. I did catch that error and corrected it in post #119, before you posted #120. That’s partly why I had trouble understanding your objection.

    Next, it is from the first quite explicit that y is a variable indicating entities in W, the world broadly considered; entities in a world obviously include concrete and abstract things, and world here would include a multiverse or the like. In that world, some A holds distinct identity leading to DDI, with a partition. No entity y in W will be other than in domain or zone A or zone ~A. Ball on table, or not.

    Regarding the bolded part, that’s true for certain entities. If we took y equal to the entire room containing the table and ball, then this wouldn’t hold obviously, but I think it’s reasonable to exclude ys which overlap both A and A-complement from consideration. I’m thinking of the ball illustration as functioning like a Venn/Euler diagram, with individuals corresponding to points, so each individual is either completely in A or in A-complement.

    The partition is a dichotomy not a band [borders can be defined, an onward exercise], so y (already identified as in W) can only be in ONE of the two zones. This is LEM and the X-OR form gives it exactitude.

    Yes, agreed.

    This is all on a tangent to the focal matter for this thread’s OP, and with all respect is an exercise in making mountains out of mole-hills. To be direct, I get the distinct impression of pseudo-precision as a cover for evasion of the simple and clear.

    I do accept that the ball example is simple and clear, but not knowing what ys in W that we are quantifying over did add some confusion. I think that’s resolved now. And as I’ve said before, I think your illustration is persuasive for certain instances of the LEM. I do have reservations (about whether all formulations of LEM are corollaries of DDI) but I think this is not the place for them.

    Regarding Intuitionism and Brouwer, et al, do they really use a form of the LEM which is “off limits” for intuitionists? They do accept LEM in a restricted form. I suppose this is best addressed in another thread.

    I do agree with some of your other criticisms of Intuitionism; I believe the Goldbach conjecture is either true or false, for example.

    Instead, these should acknowledge that truths can be unknown or even unknowable to us without this being meaningless — man is NOT the measure of all things.

    I do agree with this wholeheartedly.

  135. 135
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the safest formulation is that which uses X-OR. Though the Inc-OR (AND/OR) form will in context reduce to it. Composites that span A and ~A are not entities but collections. The room with the table is a sub-world R in which z’s in R are in A or else ~A. And to think, speak or reason the Intuitionists are using DDI. That is where attempts to undermine LEM become self referential. Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit. KF

  136. 136
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    This is where the issues of possible vs impossible, and of contingent vs necessary being come to the fore.

    Where is there nothing, there can be no possibility. Krauss’ claim has been refuted many times since his book came out. The fact that Coyne goes right ahead and makes the same error means that he hasn’t read or understood the counter-argument.

  137. 137
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Composites that span A and ~A are not entities but collections. The room with the table is a sub-world R in which z’s in R are in A or else ~A. KF

    Well, I could say that the ball itself is a collection (in a number of different ways). The point is we have to specify what the individuals y in W are. Once we agree on that, the ball example is simple and clear.

    And to think, speak or reason the Intuitionists are using DDI. That is where attempts to undermine LEM become self referential. Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit. KF

    And as I stated above, Intuitionists accept DDI [I believe, anyway?] and restricted forms of LEM. If you have a specific example of Intuitionists “violating their own rules” so to speak, I wouldn’t mind reading it (in another thread, presumably). I might even agree with you!

  138. 138
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, where there is UTTER nothing, only non-being. We face a circumstance of very sloppy thinking and questionable redefinitions, e.g. a quantum foam suddenly becomes nothing by word magic. Then I have seen the brazen pretence that this is now the standard sense . . . and of course theologian- cockroaches cannot substitute silly dogma for “science.” The 1984 tactics are right there on the surface: what is the result of 2 + 2 Mr Smith? [PC answer: Whatever the Party wants.] Indeed that deceitful move — and yes, this is speaking in disregard to truth hoping to profit from what is said or suggested being taken as true — is exactly what happened in the case cited in the OP. KF

  139. 139
    mw says:

    Silver Asiatic, you provide rich comments:

    You mention, “the only problem I have with it is regarding how ‘time will never end’”.

    I think I once read somewhere, that God, the All, the beginning and the end, may be seen as the great wheel of eternity. Still, my little wheel of a mind cannot really understand such. Though, I believe it to be connected to eternity, as in terms of the Holy Spirit, the mind is or may be, the abode of the Spirit, i.e., through dreams, prayer, inner locutions and such like.

    However, as you imply; the first cause, first addressed Himself to Moses, as “I am” (Exod 3:14).

    Jesus said to the crowd, He was “I am” (Jn 8:58): “before Abraham was, I am.”

    That did it, it was like a red rag to a bull. The stones were out and the crowd had it in mind to throw Him over a cliff for blasphemy, as only One God/Yahweh could rightly be addressed in that manner.

    However, a few more thoughts that may be of interest in terms of the Holy Trinity and “I am.”

    Julian, Anchoress at Norwich in 1373, wrote that Jesus expanded to her a little the meaning of “I Am”:-

    “I it am. That is to say, I it am, the Might and the Goodness of the Fatherhood; I it am, the Wisdom of the Motherhood; I it am, the Light and the Grace that is all blessed Love; I it am, the Trinity, I it am, the Unity; I am the sovereign Goodness of all manner of things. I am that maketh thee to love; I am the maketh thee to long; I it am, the endless fulfilling of all true desires.” (Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, p. 147)
    God is I am, the Holy Trinity.

    To me, more understanding of the Holy Trinity may be gained through the writings of the Catholic mystic Maria Valtorta, buried with full ecclesiastical and civil honours: though she remains unapproved and controversial. Her guardian angel St Azariah, said:

    “It seems that a single God is speaking, don’t you think? But our Most Holy God is Three, while remaining One. And each of the Most Holy Three has his special attributes, which are not lacking in the others, but which shine forth more particularly in One, and joined to Love, the common attribute, form the inconceivable and most perfect Perfection of our Triune Lord God.” (Maria Valtorta, The Book Of Azariah, p. 23)

    Also:

    “Now, by what I am saying to you, by the Light I am bringing you, by the fervour I nourish in you, I want you to fix yourself upon the higher knowledge, that which man commonly does not contemplate, and see what God is, the Multiform and Equable, the One who is completed in Himself, but does not exceed Himself through the prevalence of One of his parts over another, for prevalence, and the spirit of prevalence, is already egoism, and God knows no egoism, for in God there is obedience in the Son, Agreement in the Spirit to shine alongside the Power of the Father, but never a spirit of overwhelming by One aimed at the devaluing the actions of the Other Two.” (Maria Valtorta, The Book Of Azariah, p. 125)

  140. 140
    StephenB says:

    Origenes

    For clarity, my question is: can God be the cause of His continued existence? Note that ‘continued existence’ does not imply starting from “a state of nothingness”.

    Hello Origenes. Since it is God’s nature to be self-sustaining (and self existent), it would also be his nature to not go out of existence. Indeed, He cannot not continue to exist. Under the circumstances, He doesn’t need to cause that which is already part of his nature as an eternal Divine being.

    Similarly, there is no external explanation for something to be free, but there may be an internal explanation.

    If you mean human free will and the capacity to make moral choices and cause moral outcomes, I would say that there is an external explanation: God endowed humans with the immaterial faculties of intellect and will. In other words, God was the external cause of the human’s internal capacity to be causal agent.

  141. 141
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    SA, where there is UTTER nothing, only non-being.

    Yes, an origin from utter nothing is what Krauss needs to explain and he fails that.

    We face a circumstance of very sloppy thinking and questionable redefinitions, e.g. a quantum foam suddenly becomes nothing by word magic. Then I have seen the brazen pretence that this is now the standard sense . . .

    I think your words are justified. It’s either profound ignorance on a very basic matter, or it’s brazen pretense which is outright dishonesty and lying, like a magic trick, yes. How does a scholar retain credibility after deliberately trying to fool the public? Coyne, Krauss and many others do this.

    and of course theologian- cockroaches cannot substitute silly dogma for “science.” The 1984 tactics are right there on the surface: what is the result of 2 + 2 Mr Smith? [PC answer: Whatever the Party wants.] Indeed that deceitful move — and yes, this is speaking in disregard to truth hoping to profit from what is said or suggested being taken as true — is exactly what happened in the case cited in the OP. KF

    It is truly deceitful and manipulative. I would agree also that it is essentially the same as political tactics, most especially prevalent in communist systems exactly as Orwell described.

    Clearly, it’s not science or a search for truth at work. It’s a deliberate cover-up intended to protect a belief system that cannot be supported rationally or logically.

  142. 142
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mw

    Good thoughts, thank you.

    For myself, those sources are valuable, however, never setting them above revealed doctrine, because they do conflict sometimes. I find that perfectly understandable because it is a limited human intellect trying to receive and express what is ineffable.

    For me, those mystical insights open up paths for prayer — thus helping us on the goal and purpose of life: To Know, Love and Serve God.

    To Know … more and more of the Infinite. We can learn a lot from created, finite things. But knowing more directly or the relationship of persons in the Trinity, we can’t get very far with sensory data from physical observation.

    Echoing KF’s references … Plato’s Phaedo talks about how the true philosopher allows his soul to receive divine insights that transcend what bodily experience can provide. That means at least being open to what theologians have discovered about God, realizing that truths still need to be evaluated and discerned (there’s a large potential for error given finite human awareness and limits of language).

    The point here is that prayer is common human experience. It can’t simply be dismissed as delusional.

  143. 143
    john_a_designer says:

    When engaging in these kinds of discussions here is an epistemological frame of reference I think we need to keep in mind:

    In his book, The Universe Next Door, James W. Sire writes that the problem with philosophical naturalism is that it “places us as humans in a box. But for us to have confidence that our knowledge in a box is true, we need to stand outside the box or have some other being outside the box to provide us information… But [according to naturalism] there is nothing or no one outside the box to give us revelation and we cannot ourselves transcend the box. Ergo: epistemological nihilism.”

    A good example comes from the movie The Matrix. Neo doesn’t know that he has been part of the Matrix until he is disconnected and ejected from the Matrix.

    I think there is evidence and then there is evidence. Within the box (our universe) we have empirical evidence than can give us reliable knowledge about things within our universe. However, if we ask questions about the origin of the universe the evidence– the chain of cause and effect– leads us “outside the box”. Logically whatever caused our universe must in some sense transcend our universe.

    When we logically consider the existence of the universe as a whole I think there is more than apparent evidence that the universe is not all that exists. For example, from observation we know that the universe is expanding. If we run the movie, so to speak, backwards we end up at a beginning, which appears to be the beginning of not only matter-energy but also of space-time. What is it that could cause matter-energy and space-time to come into existence out of nothing? What are the possibilities? I think the question pretty much answers itself.

  144. 144
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @140,

    thank you for your reply.

    SB:

    O: … can God be the cause of His continued existence?

    Since it is God’s nature to be self-sustaining (and self existent), it would also be his nature to not go out of existence. Indeed, He cannot not continue to exist.

    God’s nature is self-sustaining, but I would like to know how self-sustaining works. We agree that there is no external explanation, but I would like to have an internal explanation of His continued existence.
    On a more general note, do you agree that saying that something “is” X, does not explain X?
    The term ‘self-sustaining’ seems to suggest that God sustains (causes) His (continued) existence. However, if I understand you correctly, you hold that there is no explanation for God’s continued existence — other than, ‘that’s how He “is”’. Am I correct, that by ‘self-sustaining’ you mean ‘no external explanation and therefore no explanation’?

    SB: Under the circumstances, He doesn’t need to cause that which is already part of his nature as an eternal Divine being.

    He does not need to cause what is already caused by His nature?

    SB:

    O: Similarly, there is no external explanation for something to be free, but there may be an internal explanation.

    If you mean human free will … I would say that there is an external explanation: God endowed humans with the immaterial faculties of intellect and will.

    Let’s say that I was referring to God’s free will. There is no external explanation, but there may be an internal explanation.
    – – – –
    One more question WRT the LOI:
    Do you hold that it is in accord with the Law of Identity, if I state that, during my state of self-awareness, I am, at the same time and in the same sense, observer and observee?

  145. 145
    Mung says:

    But the Son is wholly God.

    Colossians 2:9

    Amen

  146. 146
    Mung says:

    daveS: Maybe so, but I’m not speaking of using any “modern” logic, but rather just rules of logic KF himself agrees to. If we could hammer out some of the details in the W = {A | ~A} explanation, then perhaps it would be possible to find an inconsistency in it.

    LOI, LNC, and LEM are not “rules of logic”. They are principles or laws without which the exercise of logic is not possible.

  147. 147
    daveS says:

    Mung,

    LOI, LNC, and LEM are not “rules of logic”. They are principles or laws without which the exercise of logic is not possible.

    Well, I didn’t say they were, did I?

  148. 148
    daveS says:

    Mung,

    Sorry, my #147 is inappropriate. I don’t think I specifically called LOI, LNC, or LEM rules of logic, but I could have, given enough time. Thanks for the clarification.

  149. 149
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, these are not pick and choose rules to be plugged into an algebra at someone’s whim, they are the triune first principles of right reason inextricably keyed to distinct identity. You cannot think, reason or intelligibly communicate without them. That’s why in making the error of substituting epistemology for ontology in understanding truth, the intuitionists have committed one of those errors in the beginning. They too must inevitably use distinct identity so when they try to make it seem LEM is an option, they saw at the branch on which we all must sit. If you disagree with these triune principles, you are in error, period. KF

  150. 150
    daveS says:

    KF,

    If you can find a specific example of Intuitionists “sawing off the branch” on which they sit, that is, applying LEM in a context that is not allowed in Intuitionism, I would like to see it. Otherwise, I will let that be my last word on the topic.

  151. 151
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,

    see 128 above, summarised from SEP: “Intuitionism is based on the idea that mathematics is a creation of the mind. The truth of a mathematical statement can only be conceived via a mental construction that proves it to be true.”

    Warrant (“proof”) was substituted for truth as accurate description of reality, and the rest of problems flow from that error of misdefinition, including particularly rejection of LEM as there are claims of unknown, unproved status. (Where it is utterly unproblematic to say there are things that accurately describe reality that we do not or even cannot know. This is not a forced error.)

    As SEP went on to say, as I cited:

    there are propositions, like the Riemann hypothesis, for which there exists currently neither a proof of the statement nor of its negation. Since knowing the negation of a statement in intuitionism means that one can prove that the statement is not true, this implies that both A and ~A do not hold intuitionistically, at least not at this moment

    Zip, zip, zip . . . craaack!

    KF

  152. 152
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I notice, we are still not back on the focal issue, first cause. Let me go on to the next issue in the OP:

    Coyne seems to misunderstand what it means to say that God created the universe “out of nothing”. He claims to have realized that “by ‘nothing,’ theologians mean ‘that from which only God could have produced something.’” Here he seems to think that theologians mean God somehow fashioned creation using something called “nothing”. Of course, this is not at all what is meant. The concept of creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) means that God did not fashion creation out of some already existing material substance. Instead, God brought an entirely new material creation into existence through an exertion of power.

    In the context where Coyne was demanding definitions of nothing, as though theologians were making definitions up (an error of projection, given games with quantum foam relabelled as nothing), this seems to be fair comment.

    God, as understood in ethical theism, did not make the physical cosmos out of pre-existing materials. Indeed, that notion is a common enough theme in pagan and I think some Gnostic views. It leads to a god struggling with recalcitrant matter and the natural view that matter is evil and to be escaped.

    This is the very opposite of the redemptive view.

    Again, the issue of philosophical and theological literacy surfaces. In a context where too many new atheists disdain to inform themselves through a blend of arrogant scientism and contempt or worse for God and those who believe in him.

    I trust, on a weekend when we have seen a sniper ambush fuelled by agit prop, those who have been saying very intemperate things such as to be raised in a theistic household is child abuse or the like, will wake up to the matches they have been playing with.

    KF

  153. 153
    Eric Anderson says:

    Clavdivs @85:

    But the Son is wholly God. And the Father is wholly God. And the Spirit is wholly God. But the Son is not the Father nor the Spirit.

    I’m not sure what the so-called “traditional” Trinitarian view of God is, but if your formulation accurately describes the doctrine then I would have to agree that it is a contradiction and nonsensical.

    For those out there who might know, is it true that the Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit?

    —–

    I should point out that Clavdivs’ description could be made non-contradictory if the article “a” were placed before “God” in the first three equalities . . .

    So that is certainly one logical alternative.

  154. 154
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Zip, zip, zip . . . craaack!

    Heh.

    Yes, I saw your earlier post on Intuitionism. I don’t agree with their views on the truth of unproved claims.

    But I gather that you think they are “cheating” somehow, actually using a form of LEM that they claim to reject. Is that your belief? If not, then I have no argument with you.

    Otherwise, a specific example would be appreciated.

  155. 155
    bornagain77 says:

    Eric, kf addressed your point at 76:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-612561

    and 82

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-612568

    Then there is the fact that Jesus actually did rise from the dead:

    Shroud of Turin: From discovery of Photographic Negative, to 3D Information, to Quantum Hologram – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/1119619634717635/?pnref=story

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    (Centrality Concerns) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from Death as the “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1143437869002478/?type=2&theater

    Special and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences – video (reworked May 2016 – following two videos referenced in it)
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/1193118270701104/

    (Entropic Concerns) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead is the correct solution for the “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/1121720701174195/?pnref=story

    Albert Einstein vs. “The Now” of Philosophers and of Quantum Mechanics – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1129789497033982/?type=2&theater

  156. 156
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 152

    God, as understood in ethical theism, did not make the physical cosmos out of pre-existing materials. Indeed, that notion is a common enough theme in pagan and I think some Gnostic views. It leads to a god struggling with recalcitrant matter and the natural view that matter is evil and to be escaped.

    Okay, so what did the God of ethical theism create the physical universe from?

    This is the very opposite of the redemptive view.

    What does redemption have to do with the creation of the physical universe?

  157. 157
    sean samis says:

    Silver Asiatic;

    You seem to be saying that it is just as logical to say that “the cause of the material universe was a material thing within the universe”. Right?

    Wrong. Whatever caused our universe is something outside our universe, but likely composed of something, some “material” which is not of our universe.

    Rather, it is more logical to say that the cause of the universe was immaterial and existing outside of space, matter, and time…

    That is not particularly logical at all. I think your confusion comes from the faulty notion that the words space, time, and matter can only refer to the space, matter and time of and in our universe. This is not so. Whatever existed prior to the creation of our universe can and probably is composed of something similar to matter, occupies some dimensions of space, and experiences something akin to our time. There is NO LOGICAL argument that makes this unlikely.

    Evaluating testimonial evidence is a necessary part of research in many fields. … A careful study of the topic, however, will make it very difficult to sweep all the evidence away with that kind of denial. So, it takes some research as a starting point.

    Absent physical evidence, the most that any evaluation of testimonial evidence can show is that the witnesses probably believed what they said; it cannot prove that their account is actually accurate unless some physical evidence is found. Consistency of testimony is problematic, especially if later testimony could have been influenced by prior testimony.

    Your point regarding Julius Caesar is useful. We don’t KNOW Caesar ever existed, much less do we KNOW that he did all that has been reported. But we also don’t know any good reason to reject the majority of these stories; there is nothing in them that a reasonable person would find unbelievable. So we accept the ACCOUNTS.

    There is a lot of testimony regarding deities. But not just one deity: literally THOUSANDS of deities are reported. Many accounts insist that only one deity exists, others disagree. Many accounts include unprovable claims of “miracles”; events that no reasonable person would believe just because of the stories, and which events are reported to be demostrations of the unfathomable power of the deity.

    Some people accept these accounts. Some people reject these accounts. As you say, there are so many that to sweep them all away seems premature to me, but at the same time the aggregate inconsistencies and disagreements (to the point of violence) and the rational objections to the incoherent details of many accounts make me doubt any are trustworthy.

    I and many others have done a great deal of research on this and I’ve concluded there’s no way to resolve our doubts and I know these claims are intrinsically unfalsifiable. Unfalsifiable claims are inherently untrustworthy. So I remain a doubter.

    We observe purpose, goals and motives. The origin of these have to be explained.

    No. You can only infer purposes, goals, or motives. These things are not observable ever. Even human purposes, goals, or motives are UNobservable.

    One can observe words and deeds, but one can only infer purposes, goals, or motives.

    A First Cause, with all power, all being, unbounded by space and non-dependent on anything else for it’s [sic] own existence – is a much simpler and more logical explanation.

    Simpler? No. How does an immaterial thing (or “being”) exert power or maintain its own existence? If a thing (or “being”) is timeless, it cannot act since action implies before and after.

    More logical? No. It is never logical to assume more than is necessary.

    Supposing a first cause which exists outside our universe, prior to our universe, but is composed of something, and capable of action as simple as collisions with other things like it is much simpler.

    Supposing this is more logical because it makes minimal assumptions. This means it is more vulnerable to falsification. As a corollary to what I said above; falsifiable claims are more trustworthy because they can eventually be verified or disproved.

    Science measures material entities in time and in space. The origin of matter, time and space cannot be understood by science.

    No. Science observes whatever can be observed.
    Science uses empiricism to test explanations about things observed.
    Science uses empiricism to test things that can be deduced from observations.

    If they can be scientifically observed, then they are, by definition, within our universe.

    Almost. If the effects of something can be observed, the effects must be within our universe even if the cause is outside our universe.

    Science has already come up empty.

    Science is not done; not even close. I realize you very much want scientists to stop their efforts, but they carry on because the work is not finished.

    sean s.

  158. 158
    sean samis says:

    bornagain77, KF, Mung, mw, Origenes, Silver Asiatic, StephenB and any others I might have missed;

    I thank you all for your comments here.
    Whenever I get someone saying that creationism/ID is not actually religious, I refer them to your comments and those like yours.

    Your comments make the case for me: Creationism in all its forms is religion.
    It does not belong in any science curricula except as an example of what science is NOT.

    Sincerely; thank you.

    sean s.

  159. 159
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, They are not my views, they are the views of intuitionism as summarised by SEP, and as supported by other things I observed. KF

  160. 160
    kairosfocus says:

    EA, note the references cited are speaking of one Divine nature and being, manifest in three persons or faces if you will. KF

  161. 161
    kairosfocus says:

    SS, you again insist on misrepresentation, repeating a long since exposed ID = creationism lie . . . and lie it is, not mere misunderstanding, when it has been sustained year after year in the teeth of cogent correction. I suggest you need to scroll up and look at the weak argument correctives under the resources tab. This thread, FYI, is a discussion of philosophical issues, not of design theory. The issues are important and of interest in their own right as can be seen. What is clear, is that the loading of evolutionary materialistic scientism in too much of modern scientific work, declarations and education, is not being sufficiently addressed. And the underlying ontological issues being specifically addressed in the OP are seriously misunderstood by leading advocates of scientific atheism. Who love to dress up in the lab coat while preaching atheism and demanding a privileged establishment, under cover of such being science; as say Lewontin inadvertently exposed.KF

  162. 162
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, They are not my views, they are the views of intuitionism as summarised by SEP, and as supported by other things I observed. KF

    ?

    Did you misread the second sentence of my post? I’m not doubting anything posted on the SEP.

  163. 163
    Origenes says:

    Sean Samis: Whenever I get someone saying that creationism/ID is not actually religious, I refer them to your comments and those like yours.

    OMG ID has been exposed as creationism! Well, Sean, you have nailed it. Congratulations

    [sarcasm mode off]

  164. 164
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, the classical theistic view has long since been stated, the world was created from no material or quasi-material predecessor. Where, nothing, properly, denotes non-being. And, even through multiverse speculations, it remains so that no material atom based entity or extensional entity like that can but be contingent. Which is not self explanatory. Where also, utter nothing has no casual powers so were there ever that, such would forever obtain. Thus, we must look to necessary being as root of reality. KF

  165. 165
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, again, they are not my views, I am citing SEP’s summary. I point out — as can be readily seen — that this is a substitution of epistemology for ontology and an unforced dismissal of the classic understanding that truth is the accurate summary or reality in one or more aspects; whether or no we can warrant the statement to be so accurate. The problems as outlined directly trace to this error at the beginning by the intuitionists. KF

    PS: A typical clip:

    https://www.classes.cs.uchicago.edu/archive/2003/spring/15300-1/intuitionism.pdf

    For a classical mathematician, mathematics consists of the discovery of pre-existing mathematical truth. This understanding of mathematics is cap-tured in Paul Erd ?os’s notion of “God’s Book of Mathematics,” which con-tains the best mathematical definitions, theorems, and proofs, and from which fortunate mathematicians are occasionally permitted read a page.

    Intuitionism takes the position that mathematical objects are mental constructions. Intuitionistic epistemology centers on proof, rather than truth . Thus, intuitionists analyze propositional combinations of mathematical statements in terms of what it takes to prove them . . .

  166. 166
    sean samis says:

    Origenes;

    It seems you don’t care much about such things, but there are creationists who still dream of getting their subject put into public school science curricula.

    Your religious comments (as well as others) relative to the topic enable the science community to invoke the First Amendment to keep creationism out.

    I am not being sarcastic when I give you my thanks. Y’all are making it easy for us.

    sean s.

  167. 167
    kairosfocus says:

    SS, again, you persist in propagating a false conflation, here dodging easily accessible correction. KF

  168. 168
    bornagain77 says:

    Sean perhaps you missed this but:

    As to Sean’s claim that Darwinian evolution is a science and ID is a religion, let us be VERY clear that ALL of science, especially including Darwinian evolution itself, is dependent on basic Theistic presuppositions about the rational intelligibility of the universe and our ability to comprehend that rational intelligibility. ,,, Where Darwinian evolution goes off the rails, theologically speaking, as far as science itself is concerned, is that it uses bad liberal theology to try to establish the legitimacy of its atheistic claims, all the while forgetting that it itself is dependent on basic Theistic presuppositions about the rational intelligibility of the universe and of our mind to comprehend it. (July 2016)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-612345

    In fact, without God, everything within the atheistic-naturalistic worldview, even the atheist himself, becomes illusory.

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

    It would be hard to imagine a more anti-scientific worldview than atheistic naturalism!

  169. 169
    Eric Anderson says:

    BA77 @155:

    Thanks. I think KF has made a valiant attempt. It is not my intention to denigrate anyone’s religious belief, but, frankly, Clavdivs’ objection still seems to merit a bit more exploration.

    Take the Shield of the Trinity:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shield_of_the_Trinity

    Now replace Pater, Filius, Spiritus Sanctus, and Deus with A, B, C, and D respectively.

    Now, if we understand the latin “est” in the sense of “is equal to,” and if we discard the article “a” from our English vocabulary for a minute, then we end up with the following claim:

    A = D
    B = D
    C = D

    That is fine. But we also have:

    A =/ B
    B =/ C
    C =/ A

    This is clearly nonsense and violates the basic laws KF has laid out in prior comments.

    There are a couple of ways, logically, out of the conundrum.

    1. Rather than viewing Deus as a single, identifiable, indivisible entity, we could view Deus with the English “a” in front of it. This allows for multiple entities that conform to the title Deus. This would be analogous to putting the following terms in the Shield: Apple, Pear, Grape, Fruit. This solves the conundrum completely.

    2. We could, by some definitional and dogmatic fiat, assert that “personhood in the Trinity does not match the common Western understanding of “person” as used in the English language . . .” In other words, going back to the Shield, we would be saying that each of the persons making up the Trinity is not really the person Deus, in the fullest sense of the word. Only when they are considered together as an integral, unified being, do they become Deus. In that sense “est” on the Shield, really means something more like “forms part of,” rather than “equals”.

    Either of these two approaches can make rational sense, although in the latter case we still have the inscrutable “mystery” of how three separate “persons” can constitute one essence. And simply asserting that we have to understand words in a sense different from the way they are normally used is not satisfactory. It only serves to aggravate the mystery, rather than explain it.

    —–

    Incidentally, I don’t think the analogies of a three-leaf clover are helpful. A three-leaf clover is what it is. If it only had two leaves, rather than three, then it would be a two-leaf clover, and the resulting construct would be different. Yes, parts always contribute to a whole, but it doesn’t make any sense to say that each portion of the leaf somehow counts as the full leaf. The same goes for any other multi-part physical object.

    —–

    I particularly noted the irony in this quote @82:

    Of course, if the diagram is interpreted according to ordinary logic, then it contains a number of contradictions (since the set of twelve propositions listed above is mutually contradictory). . . .
    So the medieval Shield of the Trinity diagram could be considered to contain some implicit kernel of the idea of alternative logical systems.

    I suppose, theoretically, there might be some undefined “alternative logical system” out there that makes sense of the Shield. But that is hardly a satisfactory intellectual answer, and is hardly a concept that promotes any confidence. After all, one could make the same claim about any other irrational or mutually contradictory proposition: it has to be understood under an “alternative logical system.” Unfortunately, this serves not so much an explanation as a special pleading. And even if there is some alternative logical system out there, we can scarcely expect others to take it seriously or to accept it, particularly when it remains undefined. I think you can see the problem with appealing to some “alternative logical system.”

    —–

    In any event, by asking some pointed questions I hope I haven’t been too offensive to anyone’s religious views, and I appreciate the references. It helps me better understand the attempts that have been made to make sense of the “paradox” or “mystery” of the Trinity.

  170. 170
    Eric Anderson says:

    sean samis @158:

    Before you keep spouting your claims any further (as you clogged up the other recent thread with multiple comments with the same claim) please define these two terms so that we know what you are talking about:

    Creationism

    Intelligent Design

    —–

    Hint: If you don’t understand the difference then you have no idea what you are talking about and need to spend some time studying the issues.

  171. 171
    bornagain77 says:

    Of interest to the Trinity, I would like to note that Jesus was crucified precisely for claiming that he was the Son of God.

    John 19:7
    The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

    During Christ’s trial, the chief priests asked Him point blank, “Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” And He said,

    “I am.” (Mark 14:60-62)
    “Yes, it is as you say.” (Matt. 26: 63-65)
    “You are right in saying I am.” (Luke 22:67-70)
    http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/claims.html

    Moreover, to reiterate, I would like to point out that Godel, one of the foremost logicians who ever existed on the face of earth, apparently had no trouble whatsoever believing the God could ‘play the role of a person’.

    The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman
    Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.”
    – Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest mathematicians/logicians who ever existed)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-612597

    Moreover, I would like to point out that there was/is something special within Christianity, and the belief in the incarnation of Christ, something special that is missing in the monotheistic faiths of the Jews and Arabs, that was apparently necessary for the birth of modern science:

    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,,
    http://www.scifiwright.com/201.....revisited/

    and also see that Christ, besides being necessary for the founding of science, also offers a correct solution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’

    (Centrality Concerns) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from Death as the “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1143437869002478/?type=2&theater

    Special and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences – video (reworked May 2016 – following two videos referenced in it)
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/1193118270701104/

    (Entropic Concerns) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead is the correct solution for the “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/1121720701174195/?pnref=story

    Albert Einstein vs. “The Now” of Philosophers and of Quantum Mechanics – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1129789497033982/?type=2&theater

  172. 172
    Origenes says:

    Sean @166,

    if you really hold that Aquinas’ first-cause arguments are part of ID, then I’m not sure what to say …

    Sean Samis: I am not being sarcastic when I give you my thanks. Y’all are making it easy for us.

    Any time, Sean.

  173. 173
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, again, they are not my views, I am citing SEP’s summary. I point out — as can be readily seen — that this is a substitution of epistemology for ontology and an unforced dismissal of the classic understanding that truth is the accurate summary or reality in one or more aspects; whether or no we can warrant the statement to be so accurate. The problems as outlined directly trace to this error at the beginning by the intuitionists. KF

    I’m very puzzled by your responses. Once again, I’m not claiming that the quotes from SEP are your own views or that the SEP is inaccurate.

    Please see the last four sentences of my post #154.

  174. 174
    kairosfocus says:

    EA, there are errors of meaning involved in the substitutions you make, these are not mathematical equations, e.g. The Son as to nature is God but as to person is not the Father (who is also God per nature) is perfectly coherent; what the law of contradiction is about is that we are not to assert or imply [P AND ~P] in the same sense and circumstances. I suggest, further, that the focus of this blog and thread is not conducive to a major theological debate, esp on top of what is already going on in logic [on 1st principles of reason], mathematics [intuitionism etc] and ontology as well as the causal principle and science of origin of cosmos. KF

    PS: If you wish to undertake some theological explorations, these may be helpful as start-points, in reality you need to work though a good systematic theology or two:

    https://www.blueletterbible.org/comm/bowman_robert/trinity/trinity.cfm

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm

    http://www.theopedia.com/trinity

  175. 175
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the information as cited is the basis for my observations on the error of shifting truth from an ontological concept to an epistemological one. This was directly seen to be the context of denial of LEM by purported counter-example; one that pivots on our neither knowing the truth nor the falsity of a conjecture. But our state of knowledge or inability so far to prove is utterly distinct from whether or no the conjecture is accurate to the state of reality. But once the proper sense of what truth is is put into play, the argument manifestly fails. Your attempt to suggest a wedge between what SEP summarises and what I identify as a pivotal problem, fails. KF

  176. 176
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Your attempt to suggest a wedge between what SEP summarises and what I identify as a pivotal problem, fails. KF

    What?? I’m not suggesting that you are saying anything contrary to what is on the SEP.

    I’ll take this as a sign that this discussion was just not meant to be. Catch you on the flippety flip.

  177. 177
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Again, going further with the OP, as this issue is of great importance to understanding the question of origin of the cosmos, whatever one’s worldview:

    Coyne’s inability to grasp what is meant by “nothing” is really just the first part of the problem, because he fails to understand the overall First-Cause argument itself and how the concept of “nothing” fits into it. Coyne says:

    Also, Rowe didn’t explain how one can get a god from nothing. [–> fails to understand contingent vs necessary being] Theologians like him always punt at this point, saying that God is the Cause that Didn’t Require a Cause, because He Made Everything. ‘–> completely misrepresents the concept of necessary being] But that is bogus. What was God doing before he made something? Hanging around eternally, bored out of his mind? [–> fails to understand eternity vs time]

    The two comments in italics show Coyne’s fundamental misunderstanding of the logic of the argument (not to mention his misunderstanding of the very concept of God).

    What Rowe is arguing is that all things that are extensional (which includes spacetime itself) are finite and cannot ever transition from being finite to being infinite, which means that they cannot occupy an infinite amount of space and they cannot exist for an actually infinite amount of time [–> as opposed to a finite but increasing duration]. This means that, as a matter of logical necessity, they cannot have existed eternally into the past [–> there was a long debate on this months ago], and so at some time in the deep past we must necessarily come to a hard beginning point where there was not anything extensional in existence at all.

    Now, this is the point at which atheists like Coyne go wrong in their understanding of the argument, because they evidently think the argument asserts that, at this point, there really was absolutely nothing at all in existence. But that’s not correct. [–> necessary being vs utter non-being and the actual existence of a world]

    I have briefly annotated.

    There are major conceptual issues here that it would be highly advisable for us to ponder rather than running off on various tangents.

    At least, to understand the serious worldview and world root options.

    KF

  178. 178
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, with all due respect, you have consistently spoken as though there is a wedge between others and me. Notice, above, I pointed out the consequences of the nature of intuitionism, per SEP’s summary, in answer to your wanting me to point out specific ways such runs into trouble. Observe the posts above to see if you ever spoke as though I have fairly summarised. And ponder whether you have ever actually addressed the substantial point I have made, cogently. Then you will see why I have cause to draw the inference of a rhetorical suggestion on your part. KF

  179. 179
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I’m not an Intuitionist, and I’m not defending Intuitionism, so I don’t feel compelled to respond to your general criticisms of it. Have at it. As far as I know, your criticisms are well-formed, but they are not what I’m discussing.

    What I did ask for was evidence that Intuitionists use forms of the LEM that they claim to reject, which would indicate that they are “sawing off the limb they rest on” so to speak.

  180. 180
    Origenes says:

    Eric @169,

    There is a third option: God exists as three persons. So God is one spirit “who” unites three persons.
    From KF’s first link:

    The uniqueness of God … should prepare us for the possibility that the one divine Being exists uniquely as a plurality of persons

    To be frank, the idea does not appeal to me.

  181. 181
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, again, you here ignore the import of my general point that we all must and do use distinct identity to think, reason and communicate; this its instantly present triple corollaries . . . and yes, you were suspicious of this term. This patently includes the intuitionists, cf St Paul’s point about music as illustrative. Math-logical symbols are further cases in point. I have noted this over and over. To reason, communicate and think the intuitionists just like the rest of us rely on distinct identity. As I have repeatedly said, to then go on and try to construct a scheme of thought in which that which they too must rely on is dismissed as disproved . . . note the use of conjectures of unknown status to undermine the logical statement . . . is to be in self referential incoherence. To try to saw off the branch on which we all must sit. I am frankly astonished at how you have argued across this thread. KF

  182. 182
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, the triune conception of God by ages antedates you and me; the issue I have taken up is that it has been misrepresented above as a contradiction. I have put forth brief remarks and onward links that help set that straight; including the significance of the scutum fidei, rightly understood. KF

  183. 183
    Daniel King says:

    kairosfocus:

    God, as understood in ethical theism, did not make the physical cosmos out of pre-existing materials.

    Seversky:

    Okay, so what did the God of ethical theism create the physical universe from?

    kairosfocus:

    Seversky, the classical theistic view has long since been stated, the world was created from no material or quasi-material predecessor. Where, nothing, properly, denotes non-being. And, even through multiverse speculations, it remains so that no material atom based entity or extensional entity like that can but be contingent. Which is not self explanatory. Where also, utter nothing has no casual powers so were there ever that, such would forever obtain. Thus, we must look to necessary being as root of reality. KF

    Is that clear, Seversky?

  184. 184
    Mung says:

    sean samis @158: bornagain77, KF, Mung, mw, Origenes, Silver Asiatic, StephenB and any others I might have missed;

    Liar.

  185. 185
    Mung says:

    Daniel King: Is that clear, Seversky?

    Hi Troll!

  186. 186
    kairosfocus says:

    DK, ironically, the scientific evidence in hand points to a cosmos, including space-time itself originating from a singularity, a polar point, some 13.8 BYA. So much so, there has been only mildly humourous talk of the first church of God Big Bang, with Sir Fred Hoyle as reluctant evangelist. KF

  187. 187
    Eric Anderson says:

    BA77 @171:

    Thanks for your comments.

    There is very little in your comment #171 with which I would disagree: (a) I agree that Jesus is the Son of God, (b) I have no issue with the idea that God could take upon himself the role of a “person”; and (c) I am with you as to the incarnation of Christ.

    What I am focusing on is the semantic gymnastics that seem to be employed to explain the Trinitarian doctrine. Specifically, as to (a) and (b) above:

    (a) If Jesus is, as he said, the Son of God, then one might be forgiven for thinking that He was actually a Son in some substantive sense. If the Trinitarian doctrine is correct then either: (i) He was the son of himself, which seems both strange and nonsensical; (ii) we must regard the use of the word “Son” as only symbolic, and that He wasn’t really a son; or (iii) we have to resort to strange semantic gymnastics to claim that the word “Son” doesn’t mean what it normally does in the English language. I’m fine with (ii); (i) is pretty hard to swallow; (iii) seems like special pleading and isn’t intellectually satisfactory. Of course there is a fourth possibility: namely, that Jesus really was the Son of God, in some meaningful usage of that word.

    (b) If Jesus incarnate appeared as a “person”, we might also be forgiven for thinking that He actually was a person — with his own thoughts, mind, experiences, decisions, free will, and so on. Indeed, the record strongly suggests that we was a person in every sense of that word, possessing all of those attributes of individual identity. Clearly he was during his mortal ministry. Did he somehow lose his “personhood” following the resurrection? Apparently not, if the New Testament account is to be believed — he met with, talked with, appeared to, spent time with, encouraged and taught his apostles and disciples. They recognized him, dealt with him, and interacted with him as the same person he had been. Did he lose his “personhood” after he ascended? There isn’t any good reason to think that he did. Indeed, what little New Testament information we have suggests that he maintained some individual identity at least as far as the record goes.

  188. 188
    kairosfocus says:

    EA, I think the previous linked materials will help; remember, you deal with the likes of an Aquinas, an Augustine, a Calvin, a Wesley here — men of significant weight in theology and philosophy. KF

  189. 189
    Eric Anderson says:

    Origines @180:

    The uniqueness of God … should prepare us for the possibility that the one divine Being exists uniquely as a plurality of persons.

    What does that even mean? Existing “as a plurality of persons?” It doesn’t appeal to me either.

    Especially when the proposal is grounded upon the assumption of the “uniqueness of God” . . . meaning, dear reader, that you should be prepared to imagine the strange, the unusual, the unexpected — after all, God is unique. Let me be clear: I don’t deny that God is unique. I would prefer to hold that as a conclusion from the evidence, however, rather than as a premise.

    In any event, if it is true that God exists as a “plurality of persons,” then we are incorrect to say that any one of those persons = God.

    Rather, we would have to say that the Son, for example, is one of the possible manifestations of God. Perhaps this is what the Trinitarian doctrine holds — I’m not claiming to understand it just yet . . .

  190. 190
    Mung says:

    Eric Anderson: (a) If Jesus is, as he said, the Son of God, then one might be forgiven for thinking that He was actually a Son in some substantive sense.

    Huh?

    First, where did Jesus claim to be the Son of God?

    Second, what does it mean to be a Son of Satan in some substantive sense?

    Third, what ought we to make of children of God language in the Bible?

  191. 191
    Mung says:

    1 John 3:10
    This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

  192. 192
    kairosfocus says:

    EA, again, I point to the linked and again I point to the issue of this context with a lot already on the table for this thread that is of first rank. As a very simple and rather initial point [tied to the question of contradictions], when I say Pope Francis is human, does that mean equality to the exclusion of others, or does it mean, nature of his essential being? Where, if I then say David Cameron is not Pope Francis, would that contradict that David Cameron is also human? The triune view of God is making a point analogous to that, save that the unity of being is such that the three persons are inextricably unified as one eternal being. (And person here is used in a much older sense.) The already linked will give much more. KF

  193. 193
    StephenB says:

    Hi Origenes. It is a privilege to interact with you on such a high level of analysis.

    You write, “God’s nature is self-sustaining, but I would like to know how self-sustaining works. We agree that there is no external explanation, but I would like to have an internal explanation of His continued existence.”

    Recall that with God we are in the realm of pure spirit. For that reason, I think His continuing existence can be best explained by an inherent power associated with His nature rather than an internal process, which would suggest the activity of matter in motion, something that would not exist in a purely spiritual being.

    Let’s scale it down to the level of the creature. Humans, who are made in the image of God, though not pure spirits, do have a spiritual nature. From a Christian perspective, each person made in that same image, is composed of body, which has a material nature, and a soul, which has a spiritual nature.

    Because the human body is made up of material parts such as the brain, it can disintegrate, which means that it can die and will eventually cease to exist (unless resurrected or brought back by a miracle). The human soul, on the other hand, which includes the spiritual faculties of mind and will, does not contain material parts, which means that it cannot disintegrate or die.

    Thus, from a Christian perspective, it would make sense to speak of the mind’s inherent and enduring power to live forever (spirit), and the brain’s internal processes, which will finally come to an end (matter). To have spirit–human, angelic, or Divine– is to live forever.

    On a more general note, do you agree that saying that something “is” X, does not explain X?

    Yes, I agree that in most circumstances, especially with respect to material beings, objects, and processes, to say that X “is” does not explain X. As a general rule, it is, as you point out, a far different thing to explain what a thing is than to explain how it works.
    .

    However, if I understand you correctly, you hold that there is no explanation for God’s continued existence — other than, ‘that’s how He “is”’. Am I correct, that by ‘self-sustaining’ you mean ‘no external explanation and therefore no explanation’?

    Since we are dealing with a mystery, I can only say that it is, indeed, a mystery. However, to say that God is a self sustaining being does constitute an explanation of why God continues to exist even if it cannot explain how it is possible or what the self-sustaining “process” might be—even if a process is involved at all, which I doubt. I think processes are exclusive to the realm of time/matter/space and have nothing to do with spirit.

    Let’s say that I was referring to God’s free will. There is no external explanation, but there may be an internal explanation.

    As indicated, I think it has more to do with inherent power than with internal processes. Ultimately, though, I think the power and goodness of God is too magnificent to be explained at all, though I think His existence can be easily demonstrated. I do think it is possible for saints to achieve a higher level of infused knowledge through prayer and mystical experience than what has been revealed or can be known by reason, though it is only a tiny glimpse of the real thing, which can be experience only in the next life. If God could be explained in mere words, He would not be all that great.

    One more question WRT the LOI:
    Do you hold that it is in accord with the Law of Identity, if I state that, during my state of self-awareness, I am, at the same time and in the same sense, observer and observee?

    I am not sure that I know what it means to be an observer in the same sense that one is an observee. However, in terms of the other two conditions, my instinctive response is to say that one can be the observer and the observee at exactly the same time, but he cannot think of himself as an observer and think of himself as an observee at exactly the same time.

  194. 194
    Eric Anderson says:

    Mung @190:

    Please. The New Testament is filled with references to Jesus as the “Son of God.” Not all from Jesus himself, though BA77 cited one such instance.

    Your other examples, however, are worth discussing. One of the biggest challenges in any exegesis of scripture is understanding what is literal and what is symbolic.*

    As I said, one of the potential approaches to the Trinitarian doctrine would be to view the “persons” of the Father and Son as symbolic. That is one possible approach to the issue.

    Instructively, however, even in the other (potentially symbolic) examples you cited from scripture, we have someone being called a son of someone else. Even when used symbolically, it is still a normal use of language. In other words, if you are a son, you are a son of someone. What is not rational is to say that you are a son of yourself. Whether symbolically or literally, that is an abuse of language.

    Now we could go beyond normal language usage and beyond the other symbolic examples in the scriptures where one being is called a son of another being — we could go beyond all that and claim that the characteristics of the “Son” in the New Testament are simply one manifestation of the being that is God. Then we are back to the “the-word-son-doesn’t-mean-what-it-normally-does-in-English” type of argument I addressed previously.

    Perhaps. It could be. Just not very satisfactory intellectually.

    —–

    * This is part of the reason why we should generally give greater weight to experiential, empirical, observed, witnessed evidence in scripture, than to discourses or similar statements that may very readily be symbolic, literary, or figurative in nature.

  195. 195
    Eric Anderson says:

    KF @188:

    I appreciate the references and hold such great thinkers in high esteem. However, being the stubborn recalcitrant that I am, I find myself perhaps more swayed by what scripture itself has to say on the matter.

    I am also more interested in your personal opinion.

    . . . when I say Pope Francis is human, does that mean equality to the exclusion of others, or does it mean, nature of his essential being?

    Yes, but “human” is a category that applies to many beings. This is similar to my example 1 @169. We can have numerous humans and can of course say that Pope Francis is a human or is human in his characteristics. But that does not in any way mean that there is no other human. Nor does it mean that every other human, such as David Cameron, is somehow “unified” as a human with Pope Francis. It simply means that we have more than one example in the category or set of humans.

    So, as I said, one very simple solution to the “mystery” of the Trinity is to propose that the Father is a God, that the Son is a God, etc.

    Where, if I then say David Cameron is not Pope Francis, would that contradict that David Cameron is also human?

    Of course not. That is because being “human” is a category, a set, of which there are many examples. Again, if we are willing to see Deus as a category or a set, then the conundrum associated with the Shield vanishes.

    The triune view of God is making a point analogous to that, save that the unity of being is such that the three persons are inextricably unified as one eternal being.

    I understand the intent and appreciate the great effort that must be required to explain something that is often held to be unexplainable. But if the analogy is to hold, then we must be dealing with a set with multiple members in the set, not a claim by fiat that we are dealing with some inextricable unification.

    The already linked will give much more. KF

    Thank you. I will endeavor to read more if I am able.

    —–

    Incidentally, you may have posted this already, but what is the source of the claim that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are “inextricably unified as one being,” rather than being separate individuals? I don’t mean that specific term necessarily, I’m fine if that is just your wording. I’m just trying to track down the original source of the idea.

  196. 196
    Cabal says:

    Whenever I feel like my mind needs a boggle, I make a tour of UcD.

  197. 197
    kairosfocus says:

    EA,

    I point out that the list of four Christian teachers I have given have been among the greatest Biblical thinkers of all time; indeed all can claim to be Doctors of the Church, they may be the four greatest since Paul — they have positively and profoundly shaped our civilisation and world. So, their collective view is something that should carry weight with us, in light of their actual teachings.

    In the case of the angelic doctor, Aquinas, maybe the greatest, Summa Theologica is justly regarded as a high point of biblical and theological, philosophical insight that is profound. (In modern times, I suggest that Hodge’s Systematic Theology is an excellent point of departure, here freely available from CCEL. Wayne Grudem’s introductory level Systematic Theology is readily available in bookstores and through Amazon. My Google search just turned up that a podcast of key topics therein is available online cf here.)

    In that context, the cumulative Biblical teaching on the nature of God is part of what Peter said (with particular emphasis on Paul’s teachings) “contains things which are hard to be understood, which the unstable and unlearned wrench to their own destruction . . . “ [–> where is this, what is its life-setting context, why is it crucial?] so we should be very careful indeed in approaching same.

    At a different level, I point to say the Nicene creed, which is in fact profoundly biblical in its synthetic view and phrasing, as a high point of the biblical thinking of the church. (I here present a tabulation of its scriptural context, and particularly draw attention to Isa 45:15 – 25, Phil 2:5 – 11 [which daringly uses same in a C1 creedal hymn quoted by Paul with approval] and Heb 1:1 – 14 with Col 1:9 – 29. It is not for lack of ability to engage in a discussion on the subject that I have pointed to a need to focus on the main theme of this thread, but because of the weight of the subjects on that theme, multiplied by awareness of the proper focus of this blog. Notice the gleeful declaration of rhetorical intent by SS et al already. I suggest that another venue be found for the engagement of this side subject. Perhaps you may wish to contact me via my handle.

    And the framing, one being, three persons in indissoluble union is classic and creedal, rooted in centuries of wrestling with the text and issues in the context of painful experience of what Peter warned against. Indeed, the very term, triune reflects this. So is the force of echad, used in a context of reference to complex rather than simple unity in the creedal declaration of Dt 6:4 that is the basis for the great prayer of Judaism. With all due respect, I must suggest that if you or any other person finds him-/her- self not instantly aware of its history of ideas context, then there is much to yet learn to be at independent Bible Study leadership and layman sermon level.

    It was found that carefully worded exact synthesis was pivotal to avert destructive wrenching, e.g. the struggle to clarify in light of the Arian thrust. At least as careful as that used to formulate legal contracts or laws. On which, it was found that centuries of work were required to get things right given the experiences of successive ways across generations that the words could be and were misunderstood to damaging effect.

    And note, it is pivotal that those who did the heavy lifting were native speakers of the relevant languages, the homoousios issue being a classic point of hammering out i/l/o nuances of one of the most precise and exact languages ever. Indeed, it has been seriously argued that the spreading of Greek across the Mediterranean world was part of God’s provision that c 4 BC was the right time for Messiah. Things like the general purpose Nicene and later more technical Athenasian creeds are a carefully worded synthesis of their profound insight.

    Today I suggest a dose of humility is that if one cannot instantly call to mind the range of text on a given subject on hearing it [having read through the Bible as a whole many times and having studied the key texts in great detail and experienced transformation of life and soul and mind thereby], and cannot draw forth a balanced and apt synthesis of their message — the whole counsel of God on a topic, one is not in a position to independently teach at Bible study level.

    Yes, Bible Study, layman sermon level.

    At exegetical level, one needs to have mastered Koine Grek, Hebrew and Aramaic, together with the subjects of biblical and systematic theology and hermeneutics. [The already linked tabulation of the Nicene Creed is part of my own street level effort for 101 level education, cf here on.]

    I will only say, at Bible Translator level, that unless one is a genius, a one man translation effort is not to be taken seriously. Teamwork by people at the top of their game, who know the history and issues involved, is what is called for.

    (I say this, being aware of a widespread “translation” used by a certain sectarian group, that was done by a committee of the unlearned, who sought to promote their sectarian tendencies. In English, I respect the 1769 revision of the KJV, but recommend the ASV, the RSV, the 1984 NIV, the ESV, the NET Bible, the Jerusalem Bible and the Amplified Bible, all of which can be found freely online at Bible Gateway. Bible.org and Blue Letter Bible are useful. Of Study Bibles, the NIV based on the 84 classic, the Thompson’s Chain Reference, The eSWORD, the The Word packages and the like are recommended. The classic commentaries, Bible concordances, Dictionaries etc will be helpful. Strong’s Concordance and the dictionaries using its numbering system are especially valuable. Again, please note the linked: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....rk-in.html . Kindly see the references at the end of 174 above also. )

    KF

  198. 198
    kairosfocus says:

    Cabal, you would be well advised to heed the cautions in the OP. KF

  199. 199
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, I also suggest we need to clarify the nature of being across impossible vs possible and contingent vs necessary, to see that as a necessary being entity is independent of external on/off enabling causes a serious candidate wll be either impossible or actual. And if actual, such would be embedded in the foundational framework for a world to exist. For instance, two-ness is directly involved in distinct identity and as such is part of the framework for any possible world. 2 cannot come into being or cease from being, so long as a world exists it must be there. Where, as a world is, we must reckon that given that utter non-being could never root a world, there is necessary being at the root of our world. The issue is the nature of said NB. And God is a serious candidate to be said root. Indeed, given our reality as morally governed, the only such serious candidate. It is not insignificant that objectors have repeatedly been unable to provide a serious alternative to God as basis for a world in which contingency and moral government are major facets. Indeed, credibly, our whole observed cosmos — the only such observed cosmos — is contingent. It is commonly dated to a singularity c 13.8 BYA. KF

  200. 200
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: EA, being human is not merely a label, or set, it is a nature. That is pivotally important. And it is pivotally important to see that this is involved in something like the scutum fidei. Whether or no you are inclined to agree with it, a fair understanding should reckon with it in its own terms, not those we may project unto it — such would be a mere strawman caricature. God as complex unity of triune order, One being, three distinct faces or persons of such profound interpenetration and communion that they are utterly inseparable. He who sees the Son has seen the Father, the proceeding Spirit is a paraclete of the SAME nature, allon paracleton not heteros [Jn 14:16, cf 6 also 1:1 ff]. And BTW, read Dan 7:9 – 14 to parse Son of Man, understanding that this text is the basis on which Jesus was out of hand condemned as blasphemous by the Sanhedrin. Then, understand the force of say Rom 1:1 – 5 and Phil 2:5 – 11 or Heb 1:1 – 14 with Cor 15:1 – 11, that the resurrection with 500 witnesses is God’s vindication of eternal Sonship a la Psalm 2 and 110. And more.

  201. 201
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Returning focus to the OP (one of the most important to ever be posted at UD), the continuation is key:

    The argument[Rowe made] can be more properly understood as presenting two options here. It says that at the point that no extensional things existed, either:

    A) There was a complete absence of being and so actually nothing at all [–> utter nothing], or

    B) There was something else in existence that was not extensional.

    We can then consider the implications of these two options.

    If Option A were true, and there were nothing at all in existence then, there would still be nothing at all in existence now. This implication is necessarily true, because from nothing, nothing comes. [–> non-being has no causal power, so were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain] Option A, therefore, must be false.

    This leaves us with Option B. We can know then, as a matter of logical necessity, that something non-extensional was in existence even at the point that there was nothing extensional in existence. This something, then, would exist necessarily and would be spaceless, timeless and immaterial, and the ground and cause of all extensional material things that subsequently came into existence, which would require that it be capable of exerting a significant amount of power. [–> necessary being as root of a world, with characteristics to be NB and to cause a world]

    Further arguments could be made (and quite often have been made) for the conclusion that this something must have also been personal and intelligent [–> as well as moral, grounding our moral government], but even without those further arguments we arrive at a First Cause of extensional reality that exists necessarily and is spaceless, timeless, immaterial, uncaused, necessary, and incredibly powerful, which are all qualities classically attributed to God.

    When one properly understands the argument, it is easy to see that there was no need for Rowe to answer the questions that Coyne poses. There is no need to explain “how one can get a god from nothing”, because nobody is asserting such a thing ever happened. And to ask if God was “hanging around eternally, bored out of his mind” prior to creation is to fail to understand that time cannot have existed eternally into the past and so God would not have existed through an infinite number of past seconds. When one says that God has existed eternally, they mean that, at least prior to creation, God existed in the absence of time. They do not mean that God is just some really old guy who has been occupying himself by playing infinitely many hands of solitaire.

    Again, pivotally important.

    And BTW, an eternal mind of greatest possible being character would eternally contemplate the infinity of possible worlds, truths, propositions, alternatives and more. Boredom is not an issue.

    What is striking here is how often serious world root issues are derided and dismissed rhetorically by those who show a shocking ignorance tied to a boldness to traipse into what they do not begin to understand but wish to deride and dismiss.

    Those are not signs of a healthy intellectual culture.

    Nor, of one in which leaders are careful of causing the little ones to stumble.

    KF

  202. 202
  203. 203
    mw says:

    A further note in relation to the Holy Trinity.

    Over the past century, there has been a reported outpouring of mystical experiences. One example is through the Greek Orthodox, Vassula Ryden, whom I saw in England a few years ago speaking and celebrating joint communion with Anglicans/Catholics/Orthodox.

    Again controversial, and we make out of them what we will. In 1987, Jesus allegedly said to Vassula Ryden:

    “learn that God and I Am One, I am the Father and the Son… I am One, I am All in One, I am All in One… The Holy Trinity is One.” (Vassula Ryden, True Life in God, original handwriting edition, vol. 1, p. 43), http://www.tlig.co.uk/

    However, throughout eternity, that God did not evolve in essence is another difficulty to understand: eternally self-sustaining.

    Should humans not live forever after being generated by a God given particle (spirit) from God? Our divine ancestor. Should the first uncreated cause not be able to cause Himself to live forever? Would we not want that we could be sustained forever in good circumstances?

    As for the title, “Son,” (Jn 17:1), that is a mystery equally difficult to understand. Still, in terms of J-C belief, Jesus is the firstborn of the resurrection; the firstborn of the new Adam spiritual/material race. A non-evolved creation: a brand new creation, instant and miraculous, as at the beginning, in this case witnessed by many.

    As for the uncreated God being born created from God: in that aspect, Jesus may be seen as Son of God. The Father may be seen as the uncreated Word or Thought of God. Meaning, perhaps, Jesus/God was eternally begotten in the Mind of God as created living Word.

    Adam was the “son of God” (Lk 3:38). Jesus generated instantly at His incarnation to be a divine sinless human relative to His Mother being a descendent of Adam. Therefore, He is by birth the son of God to redeem the Adam race.

    Son or no Son; as Mung pointed out, in Jesus, all the fullness of the Godhead dwells (Col 1:15-19): fully God.

    “I am” Son of the Father.

    On my part, a poor attempt at understanding no doubt.

  204. 204
    daveS says:

    KF,

    The triune view of God is making a point analogous to that, save that the unity of being is such that the three persons are inextricably unified as one eternal being.

    I wonder if we could apply the world-partition concept to the Trinity.

    Say we separate the world into {Father | ~Father}. Likewise, we can form {Son | ~Son}, {Holy Spirit | ~Holy Spirit}, and {God | ~God}.

    Are these partitions all identical?

    And in the partition {Father | ~Father}, does God lie in Father or ~Father?

  205. 205
    mw says:

    sean samis, # 58:

    “bornagain77, KF, Mung, mw, Origenes, Silver Asiatic, StephenB and any others I might have missed: I thank you all for your comments here. Whenever I get someone saying that creationism/ID is not actually religious, I refer them to your comments and those like yours. Your comments make the case for me: Creationism in all its forms is religion. It does not belong in any science curricula except as an example of what science is NOT. Sincerely; thank you.”
    __________________________________________

    “Creationism/ID is not actually religious” who said that?

    Surely, there is indeed sound science in those movements. Yes, YEC or OEC may have more religion in their overtones than the broader remit of the spirituality within the ID movement.

    However, as we all know, in such “science curricula” any intelligence that questions consensus science must be rejected and is not allowed in class, perhaps because Darwinists are afraid their faith-based pseudo-scientific stance, which surely stands on quicksand, will be uncovered for what it is, a beguiling delusion.

    Furthermore, Shamans can do better at looking at dead bones and seeing what they really mean (stasis of kinds) rather than the self-hypnotised who looked at a pig’s tooth and said it was a missing human link; or looked at the Piltdown fiasco, while all king Darwin’s horses and all king Darwin’s men, could not detect a fraud for years and years. Surely, the evidence points to how easily we are beguiled into believing God did not create in six days in terms of divine law.

    Darwin wanted to believe the Judaeo-Christian God at Sinai was wrong. He debased Christ. Yet, Darwin admitted the fossil evidence was against his theory, but hey oh, who cares as long as we get away from divine law.

    That is why Darwinism is in huge part an established faith: yes, faith based science; a belief system in natural selection. The golden idol of Darwinism, the whale-bear, every Darwinist establishment should have one, in honour of the fact his publishers removed the reference to the silliness of such an example. No wonder Darwin was hopping mad, for if the imaginary example was deemed unsound, then the rest must, and will eventually fall, like Darwin.

    In relation to Darwin disbelieving miracles and believing in his mind, the power of natural selection deselected of intelligence and any foreseeing purpose for his idea of natural selection; in faith, Darwin wrote:

    “If I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish, but I have firm faith in it, as I cannot believe, that if false. . .” http://darwin-online.org.uk/co.....wtype=text

    Darwinist worship the fact they believe they came from none human life, with a tail, pointed ears, and mobilised by dragging their knuckles on bent knees: following the alpha male Darwin.

    Yes, creationists believe that a higher life form created all life forms. Yes, a belief system, but incorporated with good science, whereas, Darwinism is mostly bad science, the beguiled hope of things wished for, our ancestor was an ape, in order to dismiss divine law and not be accountable.

    However, sean, it seems that forever and ever, I read that our divine origin, as established under divine law at Sinai cannot be science related. And that is the only damp trump card mustered (powerful, yes), the dismissing of witnesses evidenced in abundance of miracles, and the dismissing of alternative interpretations pointing to evidence against Darwinian creationism.

    Such is blind science, ditch-bound science, and it must fall with Darwin. Its strength lies in a beguiled faith. Either the God of Sinai was wrong, or Darwin is right.

    However, both faith-based systems are totally incompatible, despite the attempts of Francisco Ayala, and many others, to make them bed mates in his book, “Darwin’s Gift To Science and Religion,” (2007).

    Yes, faith in Darwin, that life comes from dead life, and that non humans produce humans. Please demonstrate sean, scientifically, experimentally and conclusively, your belief system? No imaginary words please, no imaginary deviations of convergent evolutions and such like. No imaginary transitional fossils. Give me a scientific law that produces humans from non-humans; life from lifeless matter, something from nothing and no-space.

    A final note: Michael Ruse, a well known evolutionist, scientist, and defender of evolution wrote:

    “My area of expertise is the clash between evolutionists and creationists, and my analysis is that we have no simple clash between science and religion, but rather between two religions.” {Michael Ruse, The Evolution-Creation Struggle, 2005, p. 287, as quoted by Henry M. Morris in ICR’s Back to Genesis, Feb. 2006}

    However, many sincere thanks for your thoughts Sean.

  206. 206
    StephenB says:

    Eric, KF,

    Permit me to offer a few analytical elements to the discussion on the Trinity from a classical Christian perspective. I am keeping it brief in order to make it accessible and provide a rational basis for further discussion.

    Definitions:

    [a] Father = The Principle of Generation.

    [b] Beget vs Create

    We beget what is like us. We create what is unlike us and inferior to us. God begets God; humans beget humans. God creates man; man creates automobile.

    [c] Nature = What it is (One God), Person = Who it is (Three Persons)

    [d] Mystery = A revealed truth that is only partially understood and is above but not contrary to human reason.

    Accordingly, the Son of God is literally the Father’s only begotten Son, not His inferior creation, just as someone’s human son is literally his son, not his inferior creation. With God it is possible to beget or generate throughout eternity, humans must beget in time. Humans cannot literally become Son’s of God like Jesus Christ, but they can become adopted sons of God. The difference is essential.

    The Triune God is three persons unified by one Divine nature. This fundamental truth informs all other Christian truths and without it there is no Christianity. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, can take on human flesh and save mankind only if He is really a person, is really God, and can offer Himself up sacrificially as a God/man. He cannot take on human flesh, suffer and save mankind as a “manifestation” of God. A manifestation cannot redeem, suffer, or die. Only a person can do that.

  207. 207
    sean samis says:

    KF; Re #161;

    … you again insist on misrepresentation, repeating a long since exposed ID = creationism lie . . . and lie it is, not mere misunderstanding, when it has been sustained year after year in the teeth of cogent correction.

    You disagree, I understand that. But your disagreement does not rise to the level of “cogent correction”. ID is just a modern repackaging of one of the OLDEST forms of creationism: the “watchmaker argument” also referred to as the “teleological argument”.

    This thread, FYI, is a discussion of philosophical issues, not of design theory. The issues are important and of interest in their own right as can be seen.

    It is a discussion of some philosophical issues of design theory.

    What is clear, is that the loading of evolutionary materialistic scientism in too much of modern scientific work, declarations and education, is not being sufficiently addressed. And the underlying ontological issues being specifically addressed in the OP are seriously misunderstood by leading advocates of scientific atheism. Who love to dress up in the lab coat while preaching atheism and demanding a privileged establishment, under cover of such being science…

    What is clear, is that the attempt to load religious creationism onto the biological sciences and science education must be resisted. And the underlying ontological issues being specifically addressed in the OP are seriously misunderstood by leading advocates of creationism/ID who want to dress up in lab coats while preaching their religion and who demand a privileged religious establishment under pretense of being science.

    sean s.

  208. 208
    sean samis says:

    bornagain77; Re #168;

    I did not miss those, I dismissed them as further demonstration of the religious nature of creationism/ID.

    As to their claims about science, those are unfounded.

    sean s.

  209. 209
    sean samis says:

    Origenes; Re #172;

    if you really hold that Aquinas’ first-cause arguments are part of ID, then I’m not sure what to say …

    Of course Aquinas did not intend them to be, but creationists have adopted them anyway. What matters NOW is that Aquinas’ first-cause arguments are used to bolster creationist arguments.

    sean s.

  210. 210
    sean samis says:

    Mung; regarding #184;

    I forgive you.

    sean s.

  211. 211
    sean samis says:

    mw; Re #205;

    I do appreciate your comments.

    “Creationism/ID is not actually religious” who said that?

    Surely, there is indeed sound science in those movements. Yes, YEC or OEC may have more religion in their overtones than the broader remit of the spirituality within the ID movement.

    However, as we all know, in such “science curricula” any intelligence that questions consensus science must be rejected and is not allowed in class, perhaps because Darwinists are afraid their faith-based pseudo-scientific stance, which surely stands on quicksand, will be uncovered for what it is, a beguiling delusion.

    Since I don’t know where you are from, mw, I don’t know if you are familiar with the American Constitution. The First Amendment to our Constitution creates a barrier between the State (including all its agents acting in any official capacity) and religion.

    Since creationism/ID and all its variants are thoroughly religious, they cannot be taught as science in American public schools. As I have written elsewhere on this site, they can be topics of discussion, but they cannot be advocated or taught as science.

    Religious Liberty concerns prevent that.

    Michael Ruse’s comments prove only what Michael Ruse thought. No one else is bound by them.

    sean s.

  212. 212
    Seversky says:

    Daniel King @ 183

    kairosfocus:

    Seversky, the classical theistic view has long since been stated, the world was created from no material or quasi-material predecessor. Where, nothing, properly, denotes non-being. And, even through multiverse speculations, it remains so that no material atom based entity or extensional entity like that can but be contingent. Which is not self explanatory. Where also, utter nothing has no casual powers so were there ever that, such would forever obtain. Thus, we must look to necessary being as root of reality. KF

    Is that clear, Seversky?

    Umm … not really.

  213. 213
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 164

    Seversky, the classical theistic view has long since been stated, the world was created from no material or quasi-material predecessor. Where, nothing, properly, denotes non-being. And, even through multiverse speculations, it remains so that no material atom based entity or extensional entity like that can but be contingent. Which is not self explanatory. Where also, utter nothing has no casual powers so were there ever that, such would forever obtain. Thus, we must look to necessary being as root of reality. KF

    I agree that you cannot get something from absolutely nothing. Not even God could do that. If there had ever been absolutely nothing – not even God – there would still be absolutely nothing.

    This means that God would have had to create the universe from some sort of precursor ‘something’. Which brings us back up against the problem of the infinite regress. I don’t like the idea of an infinite regress any more than you do. But neither do I like the idea of an uncaused first cause. It smacks too much declaring an end to the infinite regress by fiat. Just because we don’t like the alternative doesn’t mean it’s right. Of course, there’s no evidence to suggest the universe is arranged to suit my likes or dislikes, or anyone else’s come to that, so who knows?

  214. 214
    kairosfocus says:

    SS,

    It seems, sadly, you are determined to further proceed with propagating a rhetorically convenient, radical secular, evolutionary materialist, agenda driven lie.

    I have already pointed to the UD resources tab, which provides adequate correction.

    For those interested in a further fair view, I suggest the beginning of the NWE article on ID which is far better than the willfully dishonest hatchet job at Wikipedia:

    http://www.newworldencyclopedi.....ent_design

    Intelligent design (ID) is the view that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection” [1] [–> through an empirical inference on induction, not an interpretation of the past driven by a religious tradition and/or its scriptures] Intelligent design cannot be inferred from complexity alone, since complex patterns often happen by chance. ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan. [–> that is, forms of functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information] According to adherents, intelligent design can be detected in the natural laws and structure of the cosmos [–> cosmological design, focussed on fine tuning of the physics of the cosmos]; it also can be detected in at least some features of living things [–> start with the cell and its information rich molecules, esp DNA and proteins].

    Greater clarity on the topic may be gained from a discussion of what ID is not considered to be by its leading theorists. Intelligent design generally is not defined the same as creationism, with proponents maintaining that ID relies on scientific evidence rather than on Scripture or religious doctrines. [–> notice the contrast] ID makes no claims about biblical chronology, and technically a person does not have to believe in God to infer intelligent design in nature. As a theory, ID also does not specify the identity or nature of the designer, so it is not the same as natural theology, which reasons from nature to the existence and attributes of God. ID does not claim that all species of living things were created in their present forms, and it does not claim to provide a complete account of the history of the universe or of living things.

    ID also is not considered by its theorists to be an “argument from ignorance”; that is, intelligent design is not to be inferred simply on the basis that the cause of something is unknown (any more than a person accused of willful intent can be convicted without evidence). According to various adherents, ID does not claim that design must be optimal; something may be intelligently designed even if it is flawed (as are many objects made by humans).

    ID may be considered to consist only of the minimal assertion that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent agent. It conflicts with views claiming that there is no real design in the cosmos (e.g., materialistic philosophy) or in living things (e.g., Darwinian evolution) or that design, though real, is undetectable (e.g., some forms of theistic evolution). Because of such conflicts, ID has generated considerable controversy.

    That should be enough for record for those interested in a reasonable and responsible view.

    And of course a red herring led away to a strawman set alight serves to distract from the focal issue in this thread’s OP.

    KF

  215. 215
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, in theism, God is the source of the cosmos, its necessary being root cause. KF

  216. 216
    sean samis says:

    Seversky, Re #213;

    I don’t like the idea of an infinite regress any more than you do. But neither do I like the idea of an uncaused first cause.

    A first cause has to be “uncaused”; otherwise it is not the FIRST Cause.

    An infinite regress is illogical; but a First Cause is merely unfamiliar. If there’s a not-so-crazy third choice, I’ve never heard what it is.

    There are some questions to which humans might not ever find a rational answer: “why is there something instead of nothing?”; or “how can something have existed without beginning?

    I think some people challenge the notion of time precisely to evade this dilemma; but there the cure is worse than the illness.

    Just because we don’t like the alternative doesn’t mean it’s right [or wrong]. Of course, there’s no evidence to suggest the universe is arranged to suit my likes or dislikes, or anyone else’s come to that, so who knows?

    Agreed. Just because we might never be confident of the answers, that does not make the questions illegitimate. Barring a third choice; we have only infinite regress or First Cause. So, barring a third choice, I go with a First Cause.

    Of course, there’s no reason to assume a First Cause has the attributes of personhood; it could just be a thing; instead of being a “who” it’s more likely to be a “what”.

    sean s.

  217. 217
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, your antitheses simply set up the contrast between God and not-God, and within the context of trinitarian theism, God the Father vs what is not God the Father, etc. As there is an understanding of God that is triune, it is in that light possible to be of The One Divine Being but not manifest as person of Father, instead as Son or Spirit; hence, some of the the point of Scutum Fidei. That is God/not God is a contrast of being and nature, Father/ not Father, of person (in an older sense of that term which does not imply isolation of individual). And there is much more. But then, this is not the right place or time for the required scale of theological grounding for the framework for such an understanding of God. I note, catechisms and creeds teach summaries on the expectation that one can access scholarship if one needs details worked through across centuries of reflection and debate. If you are truly interested, you may find Grudem a useful introduction, though before this there needs to be a grounding of worldviews and gospel issues leading to a suitably high view of scripture. That the Supreme, necessary being as root of reality is, is a worldviews question. To go on to the warrant and detailed, technical articulation of the specifically Christian tradition and teaching is an exercise in theology. Where Grudem’s short introduction is 1,000 pp and full orbed works are routinely 4,000 – 12,000 pp to take up the range of issues connected thereto. This is of course similar to what is required to lay out a significant scientific theory or a field of mathematics. With the compounding factor that for source documents, none of us are now native, educated speakers of relevant languages. KF

  218. 218
    sean samis says:

    … a red herring led away to a strawman set alight serves to distract from the focal issue in this thread’s OP.

    That’s a pretty good summary of your responses to my comments. Arguments about First Causes do not discredit evolution, and silly comments by some people do not discredit others.

    sean s.

  219. 219
    kairosfocus says:

    SS, in general (and following Plato — cf cites above), a first cause is a self-moved actuating cause, a living soul. For instance, this is the context in which we have responsible, rational freedom. The first cause of the observed cosmos must account for a material world AND a moral one. In that context, person soon becomes a requisite. KF

    PS: I have already sufficiently corrected your perpetuation of a slander against the design inference. I did so for record so the naive onlooker may recognise what has been done to prejudice education and public policy more broadly. Your resort to the turnabout accusation tactic simply further underscores the dirty agit prop and lawfare nature of what is being done by ruthless secularists. I warn, on bloodily painful and massively destructive history [as in, those who refuse to learn from the past . . . ], that the usurpation of the sword of justice like that by such ruthless secularists is an act of war, 4th generation dirty war that through this and many other similar moves, is de-legitimising the state in our civilisation. Those are very dangerous matches to be playing with.

  220. 220
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, your antitheses simply set up the contrast between God and not-God, and within the context of trinitarian theism, God the Father vs what is not God the Father, etc. As there is an understanding of God that is triune, it is in that light possible to be of The One Divine Being but not manifest as person of Father, instead as Son or Spirit; hence, some of the the point of Scutum Fidei. That is God/not God is a contrast of being and nature, Father/ not Father, of person (in an older sense of that term which does not imply isolation of individual).

    Is there then an answer to the question “In the partition {Father | ~Father}, does God lie in Father or ~Father?” Or is it ill-posed?

  221. 221
    kairosfocus says:

    Ill posed. Being and Person are in effect orthogonal.

  222. 222
    HeKS says:

    sean samis @207

    KF: This thread, FYI, is a discussion of philosophical issues, not of design theory. The issues are important and of interest in their own right as can be seen.

    SS: It is a discussion of some philosophical issues of design theory.

    Sean, I invite you to look up, waaayy up*, to the very top of the OP. Look at all the categories I tagged this post under. Do you notice any that are conspicuously (and rightly) missing?

    *Do any other Canadians get that reference?

  223. 223
    mw says:

    Sean, #211:
    “Since creationism/ID and all its variants are thoroughly religious, they cannot be taught as science in American public schools.”
    ______________________________

    Well, in England, we have a law which basically says the same, and as does the EU. Creationism is a danger to science. Yes, the pseudoscience that is Darwinism.

    With respect, my point is, we cannot debate even the flaws in Darwinism in class. That is not true science, that is iron curtain indoctrination.

    As for teaching ID in class, or any leanings to any type of higher intelligent source of information; many times it has been pointed out, that is not the intent of any form of creationism.

    As for “thoroughly religious,” well in the priest, professor F Ayala, said, evolution is the Saviour of whence came evil. Of course, Darwin is the Saviour of Sinai!

    It’s a natural consequence, of God using natural selection to create opposite to divine law, which He wrote in stone that He created in six days.

    Of course, at this point, all evolutionists will fall out of their tree in hysterics, a natural consequence of degrading the self.

    Still, Sean you must prove that God did not create in such a ‘ridiculous’ manner. You cannot. Darwinism is circumstantial evidence against a powerful higher intellect, recorded as seen and witnessed.

    You or I did not ask to be born, you will probably not ask to die, and you certainly do not know what will happen to you at death.

    Yet, your world view is lived by a faith: you originated from a non-human, as decreed by Darwin who never proved his theory as law.

    No doubt Sean, you would agree that the flaws in evolution!utionism be examined scientifically. See
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....02976.html

    However, I am of the opinion, that the iron curtain mentality of Darwinism will fall like the Berlin Wall, suddenly and without force.

    In the meantime, how many more souls will it degrade. Worse, who cares? Human intelligence alone reigns by faith, unseen imperceptible steps up Mount Improbable.

    Faith in unseen steps.
    Faith in a never factually observed transitional theoretical process.
    Faith, that dust, atmospherics and a warm pond, will generate a lifeform.
    Faith that the magic wand of Darwin’s natural selector will spread over the globe, every life form seemingly almost perfect in design, devoid of intelligent selecting design.

    More faith is needed for Darwinism than Mount Sinai, at least that supernatural experience was recorded and witnessed.

    Thanks Sean, for your well intended comments.

  224. 224
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, pardon me, I forgot for a moment just how loaded terms can be here. I did not intend manifestation to subtract from co-eternal person of one undivided substance and order of being. I do intend to say that when one Person or face is manifest to us, the full being of Godhead is also present though perhaps latent. Hence Jesus did signs seeing his Father’s leading, taught what his Father gave, and upon Him the Spirit was poured out in unlimited measure. When we are indwelt by the Spirit who cries Abba, Father, the full power and presence of the Triune Godhead is in us. Never mind, in a different but usually more latent sense, in Him we live and move and have our being and in him all things consist and he upholds everywhere every-when, everything by his powerful word (as in where the LAW in laws of nature comes from). And, more. KF

  225. 225
    kairosfocus says:

    MW, it seems I need to clip for record, from the longstanding UD Weak Argument Correctives under the resources tab (as was previously pointed to), to make it utterly clear why it is fair to say that the willful conflation of design theory with Creationism is ill founded and too often maliciously tendentious.

    In the context of easily accessible correctives and a notoriously ruthless policy agenda pivoting on quite deliberate misrepresentations by the NCSE, ACLU and other entities that full well know or should know better but wish to play at lawfare, the below is sobering:

    5] Intelligent Design is “Creationism in a Cheap Tuxedo”

    In fact, the two theories are radically different. Creationism moves forward: that is, it assumes, asserts or accepts something about God and what he has to say about origins; then interprets nature in that context. Intelligent design moves backward: that is, it observes something interesting in nature (complex, specified information) and then theorises and tests possible ways how that might have come to be. Creationism is faith-based; Intelligent Design is empirically-based.

    Each approach has a pedigree that goes back over two thousand years. We notice the “forward” approach in Tertullian, Augustine, Bonaventure, and Anselm. Augustine described it best with the phrase, “faith seeking understanding.” With these thinkers, the investigation was faith-based. By contrast, we discover the “backward” orientation in Aristotle, Aquinas, and Paley. Aristotle’s argument, which begins with “motion in nature” and reasons BACK to a “prime mover” — i.e. from effect to its “best” causal explanation — is obviously empirically based.

    To say then, that Tertullian, Augustine, Anselm (Creationism) is similar to Aristotle, Aquinas, Paley (ID) is equivalent to saying forward equals backward. What could be more illogical?

    6] Since Intelligent Design Proponents Believe in a “Designer” or “Creator” They Can Be Called “Creationists”

    First, a basic fact: while many intelligent design proponents believe in a Creator (which is their world-view right), not all do. Some hold that some immanent principle or law in nature could design the universe. That is: to believe in intelligent design is not necessarily to believe in a transcendent creative being.

    However, what is rhetorically significant is the further fact that the term “creationist” is very often used today in a derogatory way.

    Traditionally, the word was used to describe the world view that God created the universe, a belief shared by many ID scientists, and even some ID critics. But now, that same term is too often used dishonestly in an attempt to associate intelligent design, an empirically-based methodology, with Creationism, a faith-based methodology.

    Some Darwinist advocates and some theistic evolutionists seem to feel that if they can tag ID with the “Creationist” label often enough and thus keep the focus away from science–if they can create the false impression that ID allows religious bias to “leak” into its methodology–if they can characterize it as a religious presupposition rather than a design inference –then the press and the public will eventually come to believe that ID is not really science at all.

    In short, anti-ID ideologues use the word “creationist” to distract from a scientific debate that they cannot win on the merits. The only real question is whether someone who uses this dubious strategy is doing so out of ignorance (having been taken in by it, too) or out of malice.

    7] Because William Dembski once commented that the design patterns in nature are consistent with the “logos theology” of the Bible, he unwittingly exposed his intentions to do religion in the name of science

    In general, personal beliefs and personal views about the general nature of reality (be they religious, atheistic, or of any kind) should not be considered directly relevant to what scientists say and do in their specific scientific work: that’s a very simple rule of intellectual respect and democracy, and it simply means that nobody can impose a specific model of reality on others, and on science itself.

    Moreover, Dembski is qualified as a theologian and a philospher-scientist-mathematician (one of a long and distinguished tradition), so he has a perfect right to comment seriously on intelligent design from both perspectives.

    Further to this, the quote in question comes from a theologically oriented book in which Dembski explores the “theological implications” of the science of intelligent design. Such theological reframing of a scientific theory and/or its implications is not the same thing as the theory itself, even though each may be logically consistent with the other. Dembski’s point, of course, was that truth is unified, so we shouldn’t be surprised that theological truths confirm scientific truths and vice versa.

    Also, Dembski’s reference to John 1:1 ff. underscores how a worldview level or theological claim may have empirical implications, and is thus subject to empirical test.

    For, in that text, the aged Apostle John put into the heart of foundational era Christian thought, the idea that Creation is premised on Rational Mind and Intelligent Communication/Information. Now, after nineteen centuries, we see that — per empirical observation — we evidently do live in a cosmos that exhibits fine-tumed, function-specifying complex information as a premise of facilitating life, and cell-based life is also based on such functional, complex, and specific information, e.g in DNA.

    Thus, theological truth claims here line up with subsequent empirical investigation:a risky empirical prediction has been confirmed by the evidence. (Of course, had it been otherwise – and per track record — many of the same critics would have pounced on the “scientific facts” as a disconfirmation. So, why then is it suddently illegitimate for Christians to point out from scientific evidence, that on this point their faith has passed a significant empirical test?)

    8] Intelligent Design is an attempt by the Religious Right to establish a Theocracy

    Darwinist advocates often like to single out the “Discovery Institute” as their prime target for this charge. It is, of course, beyond ridiculous.

    In fact, all members from that organization and all prominent ID spokespersons embrace the American Founders’ principle of representative democracy. All agree that civil liberties are grounded in religious “principles” (on which the framers built the republic) not religious “laws” (which they risked their lives to avoid), and support the proposition that Church and State should never become one.

    However, anti-ID zealots too often tend to misrepresent the political issues at stake and distort the original intent, spirit, and letter of the founding documents.

    Historically, the relationship between Church and State was characterized not as a “union” (religious theocracy) or a radical separation (secular tyranny) but rather as an “intersection,” a mutual co-existence that would allow each to express itself fully without any undue interference from the other. There was no separation of God from government. On the contrary, everyone understood that freedom follows from the principle that the Creator God grants “unalienable rights,” a point that is explicit in the US Declaration of Independence. Many Darwinists are hostile to such an explicitly Creation-anchored and declaratively “self-evident” foundation for liberty and too often then misunderstand or pervert its historical context – the concept and practice of covenantal nationhood and just Government under God. Then, it becomes very tempting to take the cheap way out: (i) evade the responsibility of making their scientific case, (ii) change the subject to politics, (iii) pretend to a superior knowledge of the history, and (iv) accuse the other side of attempting to establish a “theocracy.”

    In fact, design thinking is incompatible with theocratic principles, a point that is often lost on those who don’t understand it.

    Jefferson and his colleagues — all design thinkers — argued that nature is designed, and part of that design reflects the “natural moral law,” which is observed in nature and written in the human heart as “conscience.” Without it, there is no reasonable standard for informing the civil law or any moral code for defining responsible citizenship. For, the founders held that (by virtue of the Mind and Conscience placed within by our common Creator) humans can in principle know the core ideas that distinguish right from wrong without blindly appealing to any religious text or hierarchy. They therefore claimed that the relationship between basic rights and responsibilities regarding life, liberty and fulfillment of one’s potential as a person is intuitively clear. Indeed, to deny these principles leads into a morass of self-contradictions and blatant self-serving hypocrisies; which is just what “self-evident” means.

    So, as a member of a community, each citizen is should follow his conscience and traditions in light of such self-evident moral truth; s/he therefore deserves to be free from any tyranny or theocracy that which would frustrate such pursuit of virtue. By that standard, religious believers are permitted and even obliged to publicly promote their values for the common good; so long as they understand that believers (and unbelievers) who hold other traditions or worldviews may do the same.

    Many Darwinists, however, confuse civil laws that are derived from religious principles and from the natural moral law (representative democracy) with religious laws (autocratic theocracy). So, they are reduced to arguing that freedom is based on a murky notion of “reason,” which, for them, means anti-religion. Then, disavowing the existence of moral laws, natural rights, or objectively grounded consciences, they can provide no successful rational justification for the basic right to free expression; which easily explains why they tend to support it for only those who agree with their point of view. Sadly, they then too often push for — and often succeed in — establishing civil laws that de-legitimize those very same religious principles that are the historic foundation for their right to advocate their cause. Thus, they end up in precisely the morass of agenda-serving self-referential inconsistencies and abuses that the founders of the American Republic foresaw.

    So, it is no surprise that, as a matter of painfully repeated fact, such zealots will then typically “expel” and/or slander any scientist or educator who challenges their failed paradigm or questions its materialistic foundations. That is why for instance, Lewontin publicly stated:

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [Bold emphasis added]

    The point of all this should be clear. ID does not seek to establish a theocracy; it simply wants to disestablish a growing Darwinist tyranny.

    Some very serious issues lurk here.

    I note, by way of illustration, from the US National Science Teachers’ Association [NSTA] in a notorious July 2000 Board declaration:

    The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .

    [[S]cience, along with its methods, explanations and generalizations, must be the sole focus of instruction in science classes to the exclusion of all non-scientific or pseudoscientific [–> loaded word that cannot be properly backed up due to failure of demarcation arguments] methods, explanations, generalizations and products [–> declaration of intent to ideologically censor education materials] . . . .

    Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge.

    This is of course little more than atheistical indoctrination under colour of science and science education that warps the very definition of science and its methods in deliberate, willful distortion of the relevant and readily accessible actual history of science.

    (Naturalism is in effect a priori evolutionary materialistic scientism. As this annotated cite from Lewontin shows, it is in fact an ideology imposed on science.)

    KF

  226. 226
    StephenB says:

    KF

    SB, pardon me, I forgot for a moment just how loaded terms can be here. I did not intend manifestation to subtract from co-eternal person of one undivided substance and order of being. I do intend to say that when one Person or face is manifest to us, the full being of Godhead is also present though perhaps latent.

    KF, I understand. I didn’t interpret your comment to mean diminished personhood at all. My aim was to clarify the meaning of terms for Eric @187, who had raised some important issues about what it means to say, “God the Son.” My point was to argue that the phrase should be taken literally. It was more like a CC: to you, not a corrective by any means. I probably should have addressed it to Eric (Attn: KF) or something along those lines.

  227. 227
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, understood. I highlight from Grudem:

    “[i]n systematic theology, summaries of biblical teachings must be worded precisely to guard against misunderstandings and to exclude false teachings.” [Systematic Theology, Zondervan (1994), p. 24.]

    Sobering words. Aptly illustrated by the history of the Nicene and [more technical] Athanasian creeds. As in Athanasius contra mundum, carrying the day by force of case in the end.

    KF

    PS: These words from Charles Hodge are well worth pondering:

    CH 1: In every science there are two factors: facts and ideas; or, facts and the mind. Science is more than knowledge. Knowledge is the persuasion of what is true on adequate evidence. But the facts of astronomy, chemistry, or history do not constitute the science of those departments of knowledge. Nor does the mere orderly arrangement of facts amount to science . . . . The Bible is no more a system of theology, than nature is a system of chemistry or of mechanics. We find in nature the facts which the chemist or the mechanical philosopher has to examine, and from them to ascertain the laws by which they are determined. So the Bible contains the truths which the theologian has to collect, authenticate, arrange, and exhibit in their internal relation to each other. This constitutes the difference between biblical and systematic theology. The office of the former is to ascertain and state 2the facts of Scripture. The office of the latter is to take those facts, determine their relation to each other and to other cognate truths, as well as to vindicate them and show their harmony and consistency. This is not an easy task, or one of slight importance . . . .

    CH 2: Every science has its own method, determined by its peculiar nature. This is a matter of so much importance that it has been erected into a distinct department. Modern literature abounds in works on Methodology, i.e., on the science of method. They are designed to determine the principles which should control scientific investigations. If a man adopts a false method, he is like one who takes a wrong road which will never lead him to his destination. The two great comprehensive methods are the à priori and the à posteriori. The one argues from cause to effect, the other from effect to cause . . . Every one knows how much it cost to establish the method of induction on a firm basis, and to secure a general recognition of its authority. According to this method, we begin with collecting well-established facts, and from them infer the general laws which determine their occurrence . . .

  228. 228
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Last para of OP is also telling. HeKS speaks:

    . . . Coyne’s responses to the Fine-Tuning argument are no more compelling than his attempted rebuttal of the First-Cause argument and they have been answered in depth by others (see, for example, almost any debate with William Lane Craig). Coyne tries to downplay what we do know scientifically about the physical requirements for life in an attempt to weaken the force of the argument, wrongly identifies it as an argument from ignorance when it is actually a positive argument for design based on our universal experience of cause and effect and the principles by which we all consistently infer design, and he finally makes appeal to the possibility of a multiverse, but all of these are merely attempts to block a conclusion of theistic design that can be held with 100% certainty. [ –> no inductive inference is 100% certain, this is selective hyperskepticism, and given local isolation of our cosmos’ physics setting up conditions for life, multiverse does not blunt the inference] Even if they were successful (and there’s no good reason to think they are), they would do nothing to change the fact that, based on what we do know at this point in time, theistic design is currently the best explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe for complex intelligent life, and by a large margin at that. [–> inference to best explanation on reliable sign]

    This brings out the force of the issue of inferring design on reliable sign.

    Design is a familiar observed phenomenon, and it is replete with empirically reliable indicia. For instance, functionally specific complex organisation of components and associated information that results in a locally isolated operating point. (Thus, fine tuning, to set a system to that point.)

    Nor is it a serious objection to say that the designs we observe are done by humans. First, false, beaver dams show design adapted to situation (as has long since been argued here at UD). Second, we are contingent and there is no good reason to infer that we exhaust potential designers. Nor is there a good non-question begging reason to a priori insist that we cannot infer design on signs in circumstances that may point to an incorporeal being or mind.

    (In fact, there is no good reason to hold that our own minds are only manifestations of processing in the brain’s neural networks, not least, such struggles to the point of futility in explaining responsible, rational freedom. Without which, freedom to undertake responsible reasoned argument is utterly undermined.)

    There are in fact abundant, even notorious, signs of cosmological design, that get stronger and stronger as the decades roll by. Already, at the turn of the 1980’s, they were so strong that leading astrophysicist and lifelong agnostic, Sir Fred Hoyle, observed regarding the connecting block Carbon Atom:

    >>From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. [F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.]>>

    also, in the same talk:

    >>The big problem in biology, as I see it, is to understand the origin of the information carried by the explicit structures of biomolecules. The issue isn’t so much the rather crude fact that a protein consists of a chain of amino acids linked together in a certain way, but that the explicit ordering of the amino acids endows the chain with remarkable properties, which other orderings wouldn’t give. The case of the enzymes is well known . . . If amino acids were linked at random, there would be a vast number of arrange-ments that would be useless in serving the pur-poses of a living cell. When you consider that a typical enzyme has a chain of perhaps 200 links and that there are 20 possibilities for each link,it’s easy to see that the number of useless arrangements is enormous, more than the number of atoms in all the galaxies visible in the largest telescopes. [ –> 20^200 = 1.6 * 10^260] This is for one enzyme, and there are upwards of 2000 of them, mainly serving very different purposes. So how did the situation get to where we find it to be? This is, as I see it, the biological problem – the information problem . . . .

    I was constantly plagued by the thought that the number of ways in which even a single enzyme could be wrongly constructed was greater than the number of all the atoms in the universe. So try as I would, I couldn’t convince myself that even the whole universe would be sufficient to find life by random processes – by what are called the blind forces of nature . . . . By far the simplest way to arrive at the correct sequences of amino acids in the enzymes would be by thought, not by random processes . . . .

    Now imagine yourself as a superintellect working through possibilities in polymer chemistry. Would you not be astonished that polymers based on the carbon atom turned out in your calculations to have the remarkable properties of the enzymes and other biomolecules? Would you not be bowled over in surprise to find that a living cell was a feasible construct? Would you not say to yourself, in whatever language supercalculating intellects use: Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. Of course you would, and if you were a sensible superintellect you would conclude that the carbon atom is a fix. >>

    and again:

    >>I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the [–> nuclear synthesis] consequences they produce within stars. [“The Universe: Past and Present Reflections.” Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12]>>

    That, and much more, is what needs to be addressed.

    KF

  229. 229
    sean samis says:

    KF; re #219;

    … in general (and following Plato — cf cites above), a first cause is a self-moved actuating cause, a living soul.

    Unless you are going to state here and now that Plato was, in all ways, infallible and inerrant, then your invocation of Plato’s name is valueless. Ditto for anyone else whose words you invoke.

    Your definition of a first cause is unfounded. Other than invoking Great Men, you cannot establish that the first cause must have been a “living soul” or had any attributes of personhood. It might have been, but it could just as well have been as non-living as a cloud.

    The first cause of the observed cosmos must account for a material world AND a moral one. In that context, person soon becomes a requisite.

    You and I have done this one at length. A first cause is only needed to account for our universe (“the material world”); the material world is a sufficient source for morality (the “moral world”).

    sean s.

  230. 230
    sean samis says:

    HeKS; re #222;

    SS: [This thread] is a discussion of some philosophical issues of design theory.

    HeKS: Sean, I invite you to look up, waaayy up*, to the very top of the OP. Look at all the categories I tagged this post under. Do you notice any that are conspicuously (and rightly) missing?

    Funny. What you tagged lists what you PLANNED to be discussed, but my comment was about the actual discussion taking place.

    Well, what you plan and what takes place ain’t ever exactly been similar.” **

    But let’s look at the tags:

    Atheism, Big Bang, Cosmology, Fine tuning, General interest, Logic and First Principles of right reason, Philosophy, Science, Philosophy and (Natural) Theology

    Hmm. “General interest”? That relates to – well – everything!

    sean s.

    **Firefly/Serenity fans will get that reference!

  231. 231
    sean samis says:

    mw; regarding #223;

    … my point is, we cannot debate even the flaws in Darwinism in class. That is not true science, that is iron curtain indoctrination.

    I don’t know about England or the EU, but here in the States there’s no barrier to discussing the “flaws” and limits of any science. But if the conversation goes as it frequently does on this site, to fabricating imaginary “flaws” for Evolution, then it does seem proper to not waste educational resources on false claims.

    As for teaching ID in class, or any leanings to any type of higher intelligent source of information; many times it has been pointed out, that is not the intent of any form of creationism.

    I don’t know about England or the EU, but here in the States there have been many efforts to do exactly that.

    Sean you must prove that God did not create in such a ‘ridiculous’ manner.

    No, the burden is on you to prove God did what you claim God did.

    sean s.

  232. 232
    kairosfocus says:

    SS,

    I am not invoking Plato as infallible authority (your projection smacks of strawman caricature with patent subtext, you fundy looking for an inerrant text).

    I am pointing out that he — a root source of this whole discussion in the history of ideas — identified a characteristic of being a self-moved actuating initiating cause connected to agency, which he termed soul.

    In that context, we would be first causes, even as contingent beings.

    Then, he pointed to the first cause of the world.

    I note on the classic view of the four causes/explanations, per Ari, here, Wiki for convenience:

    Aristotle held that there were four kinds of answers to ‘why’ questions (in Physics II, 3, and Metaphysics V, 2):[2][4] In this article, the peculiar philosophical usage of the word ’cause’ will be exercised, for tradition’s sake, but the reader should not be misled by confusing this peculiar usage with current ordinary language.

    A change or movement’s material explanation is the aspect of the change or movement which is determined by the material that composes the moving or changing things. For a table, that might be wood; for a statue, that might be bronze or marble.
    A change or movement’s formal explanation is a change or movement caused by the arrangement, shape or appearance of the thing changing or moving. Aristotle says for example that the ratio 2:1, and number in general, is the explanation of the octave.
    A change or movement’s efficient or moving explanation consists of things apart from the thing being changed or moved, which interact so as to be an agency within the change or movement. For example, the efficient explanation of a table is a carpenter, or a person working as one, and according to Aristotle the efficient explanation of a boy is a father.
    An event’s final explanation is the end toward which it directs. That for the sake of which a thing is what it is. For a seed, it might be an adult plant. For a sailboat, it might be sailing. For a ball at the top of a ramp, it might be coming to rest at the bottom. For a person’s action, it is the goal.

    A different but laterally illuminating view.

    Now, back to Plato’s core point:

    Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Now, Ari speaks of forms and of purposes or ends. Plato, of ensouled, self-moving agency that initiates chains of efficient, actuating causes [that may use up materials and we add energy]. Such is our direct experience as rationally, responsibly, significantly free and morally governed agents.

    But Plato is interested in that which is oldest, and points onward to the first cause of the cosmos as a good soul:

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.]

    I think it is reasonable to acknowledge distinct but related senses.

    Where, if we are to reason about these things we need that freedom of being self-moved, not merely actuated by chains of mechanical links and/or chance stochastic events. We need to be self-moved on purpose and on reason and on conscience, with real freedom to choose. Or else argument such as in this thread collapses in self-referential absurdity.

    So, we are first causes in the first sense.

    In the second sense we see a cosmos of mechanisms and stochastic distributions etc. Such chains causally — and, anticipating the angelic doctor — even if those chains be endless in succession, they require sustaining cause to enable them to be.

    This points to the priority, ontological priority, of first cause independent of such chains and initiating them as causal root of the world.

    KF

  233. 233
    HeKS says:

    sean samis,

    I am indeed a Firefly fan and did get the reference.

    Mine was from “The Friendly Giant”, which was a Canadian children’s show I watched as a kid in the 80’s. Your reference was better 🙂

    On to your comments…

    I tag a post based on the content of the post I’ve written and KF was telling you that the discussion initiated in that post (the OP) was “a discussion of philosophical issues, not of design theory”. You responded by claiming that it was actually “a discussion of some philosophical issues of design theory“. I’m telling you that you are incorrect in this claim. I don’t care all that much if you want to discuss ID (though I typically try to keep the discussion threads to my posts reasonably on-topic), but my OP is about philosophical, logical and theological issues discussed in a debate about God’s existence and common misunderstandings about arguments for God’s existence on the part of prominent atheists. It is not about Intelligent Design at all, other than perhaps a passing reference in the last paragraph mentioning Coyne’s responses to the Fine-Tuning Argument, which was simply an aside for the sake of completeness.

    Now, I do think the OP is of General Interest to the readership here, because this site covers both science and philosophy. This issue falls primarily on the philosophy side but has some intersection with cosmology. It does not, however, have anything specifically to do with ID, and the philosophical issues discussed in the OP are not philosophical issues of design theory. They relate more to metaphysics than to physics, and have nothing to do with biochemistry or biology. And since the philosophical issues discussed relate to First-Cause arguments rather than the Fine-Tuning argument, they don’t even relate to cosmological design inferences (i.e. inferences to design made on the basis of observable hallmarks of intelligent design found in cosmology), as they are primarily logical rather than evidential.

  234. 234
    kairosfocus says:

    SS, you can say all you will, that the material world grounds ought. The track record will readily show that matter-energy and space-time simply cannot be the IS that grounds OUGHT, moral government. Saying and substituting other things cannot make it so; it ends in might and manipulation make ‘right’ – ‘truth’ – ‘meaning’ etc, i.e. in fatal nihilism. Also, the first, root cause and necessary being of the world — including inherently contingent extensions and matter and beings governed by ought — cannot be material. As already noted, just one serious candidate has been able to stand on the table through centuries of debates. The vagueness and evasiveness of your attempt just now (including trying a burden of proof shift in a context where we should be seeing comparative difficulties) shows just how thin the soup you must work with is. KF

  235. 235
    mw says:

    Thanks Sean for your reply:

    “No, the burden is on you to prove God did what you claim God did.”
    ________________________

    The burden of proof is on me to prove God! Steady Sean.

    Judaeo-Christian scripture is laden with tantalising proof.

    That the First Cause walked the earth in flesh, is unprovable; it is a matter of faith, based on the sound evidence of witnesses, having seen the unbelievable.

    A proof exists in an unbroken historic chain of worship from Sinai, when a prime miraculous event set a weekly reminder that Yahweh created in six days.

    Such cannot be proved. We have only the written or inspired word of God, and even that now cannot be proved.

    If the Word of “I am” is not sufficient, nothing will suffice.

    The burden of proof rests with you Sean; flawed is divine law. That if you were the Almighty, it could not be done in that manner as the Almighty stated at Sinai.

    Further, the burden of proof Sean also rests on you to demonstrate life comes from none life, which expanded and colonised the globe through copying errors (mutations), brainless natural selection, in an ever-increasing information and design output; all from a single cell, itself arranging itself, and covering itself in a membrane interspersed with pumps to remove waste and deliver in coming necessities.

    My proof is not a hand waving exercise in imaginary explanations, but it is the hallmark of Darwinism.

  236. 236
    jcfrk101 says:

    LNC or any other mathematical principle, or equality, or corollaries cannot be applied to the nature of God. Given that he must exist outside of space and time, His being is not created, therefore using methods and mechanisms tested and tried on created beings will not translate as you are dealing with something other than creation. Your own mind and logic is not capable of testing or validating the claim , it can only be observed. If God existed within time and space, he would be bound by time and space, nor a sufficient explanation for time and space. If his being is not bound by time and space, I do not know how any other form of mathematics or logic can be applied to determine his nature, it can only be determined by observation. This is the basis of the trinity, observed being revealed within the scriptures by the incarnation of God’s Son, the words he spoke and the coming of His Spirit.

  237. 237
    sean samis says:

    KF;

    In #229 I challenged you:

    Unless you are going to state here and now that Plato was, in all ways, infallible and inerrant, then your invocation of Plato’s name is valueless. Ditto for anyone else whose words you invoke.

    Your definition of a first cause is unfounded. Other than invoking Great Men, you cannot establish that the first cause must have been a “living soul” or had any attributes of personhood. It might have been, but it could just as well have been as non-living as a cloud.

    Your response came in #232:

    I am not invoking Plato as infallible authority (your projection smacks of strawman caricature with patent subtext, you fundy looking for an inerrant text).

    I am pointing out that he — a root source of this whole discussion in the history of ideas — identified a characteristic of being a self-moved actuating initiating cause connected to agency, which he termed soul.

    In that context, we would be first causes, even as contingent beings.

    Then, he pointed to the first cause of the world.

    I note on the classic view of the four causes/explanations, per Ari, here, Wiki for convenience: …

    The bulk of the remainder of your response is yet another set of quotes amounting to about 700 words.

    Let me be crystal clear: quotes from Plato, Aristotle, or other writers PROVE NOTHING. And they obscure your argument.

    You do have an argument, don’t you? Do you have no ideas of your own? Are you merely a font of other peoples’ words? Or do you use their words as a fig-leaf to cover your lack of understanding?

    Has there been nothing in the last—oh—23 centuries discovered on this topic? Was this subject fully explored and elucidated before Jesus of Nazareth? In the intervening centuries, has no person made any relevant discoveries of facts related to this question?

    Why must the first cause have been a living soul? Is there a good reason? Or just a dusty old parchment somewhere that says “it is so”?

    sean s.

  238. 238
    sean samis says:

    HeKS;

    From the OP:

    Coyne’s responses to the Fine-Tuning argument are no more compelling than his attempted rebuttal of the First-Cause argument and they have been answered in depth by others (see, for example, almost any debate with William Lane Craig). Coyne tries to downplay what we do know scientifically about the physical requirements for life in an attempt to weaken the force of the argument, wrongly identifies it as an argument from ignorance when it is actually a positive argument for design based on our universal experience of cause and effect and the principles by which we all consistently infer design, and he finally makes appeal to the possibility of a multiverse, but all of these are merely attempts to block a conclusion of theistic design that can be held with 100% certainty. Even if they were successful (and there’s no good reason to think they are), they would do nothing to change the fact that, based on what we do know at this point in time, theistic design is currently the best explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe for complex intelligent life, and by a large margin at that.

    I commented on some of these in #38.

    In # 41 (by Silver Asiatic)

    An intelligent designer existing before the Cosmic Inflation, having created the laws, forces and material properties that developed into the universe as we observe it is a very reasonable proposition in this case. What is the alternative? We see no evidence that matter itself can “Bang” itself into the ordered development of the universe as we see it.

    The First Cause cannot be a mere “thing” among things. And the reason for that has nothing to do with the properties of intelligence or mind. But to observe entities that exist and act with purpose points to a source of purpose or plan – thus a Designer possessing the capablities of mind, intelligence and designing powers.

    I responded to SA in #46.

    Origenes responded to me (about designers) in #50.

    KF commented in #80:

    For this thread, it is enough to see that design objectors frequently have problems starting with first, self evident principles of right reason, leading to hopeless and incorrigible confusions and unacknowledged self-falsifying self-referential contradictions all down the line from that point.

    and #84:

    …Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos. …

    SA replied further to me in #127:

    The designer does not need to be observed in order to be a logically consistent entity proposed as the originator of the universe.

    The designer does not need to be observed in order to be a logically consistent entity proposed as the originator of the universe.

    In theological research we look at information which may have been received from beyond this universe. But aside from that, even from what we can observe – we see purpose, goals, motives, intent, planning, design.

    KF repeated his comments in # 130.

    It’s in #160 that KF suddenly declares:

    This thread, FYI, is a discussion of philosophical issues, not of design theory.

    It may not have been your desire to discuss design theory, but you muddied the waters at the end of the OP, and Silver Asiatic, Origenes, and KF happily joined me in that discussion; until KF changed his mind. mw has also joined in.

    Your “passing reference in the last paragraph mentioning Coyne’s responses to the Fine-Tuning Argument” is a bit too bulky and assertive for a “passing reference”. You opened the door; the horses ran out; whose fault is that?

    sean s.

  239. 239
    sean samis says:

    KF; Regarding #234;

    …the first, root cause and necessary being of the world — including inherently contingent extensions and matter and beings governed by ought — cannot be material.

    It certainly cannot be “material” from our universe (since it created our universe) but it certainly can be what serves as “material” in its own universe/multiverse.

    As for the “material world” grounding ought, you and I have done that one at great length. The reason that morality can be grounded in nature, history, human need, etc. is known, moreover: you supplied the idea!

    Personally, I love irony.

    sean s.

  240. 240
    kairosfocus says:

    jcfrk101, pardon but once distinct identity applies, instantly LOI, LEM & LNC are applicable. Otherwise, meaningful communication vanishes. And BTW, in the Christian Tradition, The Logos who struck a tent in human flesh and tabernacled among us is rational communication himself. KF

  241. 241
    kairosfocus says:

    RH7, pardon but once distinct identity applies, instantly LOI, LEM & LNC are applicable. Otherwise, meaningful communication vanishes. KF

  242. 242
    sean samis says:

    mw; Regarding #235

    Judaeo-Christian scripture is laden with tantalising proof.

    Ah, no. It’s full of tantalizing claims, but nothing that rises near the level of proof.

    That the First Cause walked the earth in flesh, is unprovable; it is a matter of faith, based on the sound evidence of witnesses, having seen the unbelievable.

    Exactly: unprovable. These witness claims are unbelievable unless one has a favorable prejudice; which is what faith is.

    A proof exists in an unbroken historic chain of worship from Sinai, when a prime miraculous event set a weekly reminder that Yahweh created in six days.

    That’s not proof because one must have a favorable prejudice (i.e. faith) to believe the story in the first place.

    And Hindu religions have been around at least as long as the Abrahamic religions; does their unbroken historic chain of worship (as established in the Vedas) prove their deities?

    If the Word of “I am” is not sufficient, nothing will suffice.

    Stories written by fallible men of a deity who these men claim to have said “I am” are not sufficient.

    The burden of proof rests with you Sean; flawed is divine law. That if you were the Almighty, it could not be done in that manner as the Almighty stated at Sinai.

    It could have been done as the stories say at Sinai.
    Or it could have been done as the Vedas say.
    Or it could have been done as the traditions at Karnak said.
    Or it could have been done as the Norse said.
    Or it could have been done as the Cheyanne said.
    Or …
    Or …
    Or …

    What I have is a lack of explanations why I should believe any of them.

    My proof is not a hand waving exercise in imaginary explanations…

    Actually, your “proof” is just stories you want me to believe because you say so.

    … the burden of proof Sean also rests on you to demonstrate life comes from none life, which expanded and colonised the globe through copying errors (mutations), brainless natural selection, in an ever-increasing information and design output; all from a single cell, itself arranging itself, and covering itself in a membrane interspersed with pumps to remove waste and deliver in coming necessities.

    Your description of evolution is colorful, but the basic point is valid: science has a burden to make its explanation credible too. You and your religious writers have been at it unsuccessfully for thousands of years. Evolutionary theory is less than 200 years old, DNA was identified as the physical expression of genetics about the same time I was born. So you all need to give science some time to do its work. Considering from where it started, evolutionary biology has made enormous strides.

    That, of course, is what worries you.

    sean s.

  243. 243
    sean samis says:

    jcfrk101; regarding #236

    Assuming everything you wrote is correct, no reasonable person can believe in your deity unless that deity personally, face-to-face, reveals himself.

    Having never been so favored, I cannot in good conscience believe anything you wrote.

    sean s.

  244. 244
    kairosfocus says:

    SS,

    First, postponing the first cause through a sequence of prior — utterly speculative — universes does not change the force of the logic pointing to such. But the contrast between your demand to see God face to face and willingness to put up unsupported speculations to avert the force of facts and logic we do see speaks diagnostically and tellingly: selective hyperskepticism.

    Next, the attempt to play anti-authoritarian as though citing sources can be dismissed as a fallacy without actually facing the substantial issue is a gross error of irrelevancy and projection. Indeed, it manifests the gross error of refusing to learn from classical insights per the error of imagining that we can tell the truth by the clock as the past has nothing of significance to teach us and can be dismissed out of hand.

    This vulgar progressivist error leads to marches of intellectually fashionable manipulated agenda driven folly. For, he who refuses to learn lessons from sound history (including the history of ideas) dooms himself to relive or at minimum echo its worst chapters.

    We can, and will do better.

    Plato put forward a frame of thought in which the first cause can be seen at two levels: first, agency with significant freedom —

    (i.e. the self-moved . . . and especially the rationally and responsibly, freely moved . . . as opposed to the blindly moved by a causal chain of mechanical necessity and/or chance)

    . . . then, the self moved agent responsible for the cosmos.

    His key words, that we would do well to attend to:

    Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Such agency with responsible, rational freedom of action based on being self-moved is a valuable concept. Especially given the contrast between, say, Crick’s self referential absurdity in his The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    . . . and say Reppert, in his exposure of the GIGO-driven absence of foundation for rationality in such mechanistic accounts:

    . . . 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.

    Where, absent such significant, responsible, rational freedom of action, there is no basis for even having a reasoned discussion. Naturalistic schemes of thought that radically undermine agency are self-referentially absurd. No wonder, Philip Johnson has therefore replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    I have long since pointed to Eng Derek Smith’s two-tier controller cybernetic loop model as a context in which we may model and discuss self-moved agency with profit. And, I have taken up the suggestion that information flows and quantum influences may be useful possibilities for effective means.

    Now, too, Aristotle put on the table a frame for discussing causal explanation that has significant merit down to today, especially for those things that show signs of intent and art in their structure. Namely, we see —

    a] the form or organisation and information that shapes an entity (which can come out in its “blueprint” or design),

    b] the material components used to provide its substance and properties,

    c] that which directly shapes, assembles or actuates it, often through an organised sequence of forced, ordered motion [= work, physical sense] such as chiseling,

    d] the purpose or end which underlies the forming of the entity and which therefore raises the issue of the means-end match

    Such obviously speaks to the operations of agency, thus self-moved, initiating first causes. Of course in our day, we emphasise mechanistic and/or chance driven actuation or shaping, and a dominant worldview is driven by evolutionary materialism. So, we have endless and ironically self-induced, self referential trouble moving beyond signals and blind mechanism to creative forming information, organisation by design and intent.

    As the pages and threads of UD have so often shown, many are literally willing to burn down reason itself to maintain their materialistic, lab coat clad worldview.

    In that context, classical references can and do provide a context for fresh insights and reasonable discussion. However, regrettably, so far you seem to be studiously avoiding such at substantial level.

    We are agents, credibly self-moved per responsible, rational freedom of action. That is, ensouled, rational, morally governed, contingent first causes. Not, blindly driven and utterly controlled by the iron grip of GIGO — garbage in, garbage out — acting through mechanical necessity and/or chance. Absent that, not even this discussion can be a real meeting of minds free to respond to rational insight and the pervasive sense of responsibility.

    Absent something very much like an ensouled, en-conscienced, rationally and responsibly free self-moved first cause in our own bodies, rationality itself collapses into absurdity. The absurdity of evolutionary materialistic scientism and its failed self-falsifying evolutionary epistemology.

    In light of this familiar context of our own case, it is then quite reasonable to ponder the deep root of the world we inhabit, and to keep on the table the issue of a self-moved rational first cause as a serious candidate. Which then acts with double force once we ponder that we are inescapably morally governed. Thus, at world root we need an IS capable of grounding OUGHT. Also, something capable of grounding a cosmos of extension in space-time that is inherently contingent. That per general view of the relevant sciences originated . . . began, thus is credibly caused and dependent on external, enabling factors . . . at a singularity some 13.8 BYA.

    Moreover, we can see that were there ever utter and only non-being (which has no causal powers) then such would forever obtain. So, as a world now is, something always was, something that at root is independent of external enabling factors, something of the character of a necessary being. Something that is so framing for a world to be that once a world is actual or possible, it must exist without beginning or end. That, as if an entity N has no dependence on external, enabling on/off causal factors, it must always be. (Ponder how two-ness could begin or cease, i/l/o its direct connexion to distinct identity.)

    A serious candidate to be of order N, then, would be one of two things: impossible as a square circle is impossible, or actual and present in ANY possible world. (Ponder how a world — a domain of reality — could be without distinct identity and two-ness, thus also the triune first principles of right reason: LOI, LNC, LEM.)

    Moreover, the issue of possibility/ impossibility of being provides a minimal explanatory context that justifies that a weak form, investigatory principle of sufficient reason is also a legitimate first principle of right reason. Once something is, holds distinct identity, or may be [is possible], it must hold core characteristics that are coherent, as opposed to a square circle.

    So, if we ponder something that is, or that is candidate to be possible, we may freely ask why and confidently expect or hope to find a reasonable explanation. Where, if there is incoherence of core characteristics, the candidate C is impossible of being in any world. Think, again, square circle.

    If it is possible, of order P, it is so in the first instance because its core characteristics are coherent. If actual, it may be contingent and caused as enabling on/off factors are favourable (think, a fire and the fire triangle or better yet tetrahedron). Or, it may be necessary, independent of such enabling factors and also an inextricable part of the framework for any world to exist (ponder distinct identity and two-ness etc).

    So, we have a context of reasons regarding candidate beings, C to be of orders P and N: possible and necessary. Where also, per signs of a fine tuned physical order that supports C-Chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life, we credibly need a purposeful, deeply knowledgeable, powerful designer; of order D. And with a moral order on the table, to ground actual [not merely delusional] moral government, we need a designer of moral order, M. Such a serious candidate is now P, N, D, M, which requires self-moved mindedness and moral character, that is personhood is also naturally on the table.

    In this light, we may understand why, after centuries of debate, there is just one serious candidate to explain a world in which responsibly and rationally free, actually morally governed (not just, morality is a delusion shaped by might and manipulation make ‘right’ etc) beings exist:

    the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, first cause of the cosmos, worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    This is of course a philosophical proposition. If one objects s/he is invited to simply put up an alternative serious candidate and engage in comparative difficulties discussion: _______________ .

    (Predictably, on long experience, that blank will continue to be unfilled.)

    So, the issue of first cause is significant.

    KF

    PS: I see you are still purveying the notion that the principle of mutual respect and cherishing among quasi-infinitely valuable, morally governed, responsibly and rationally free contingent individuals needs no further explanation. And, that I suggested such an absurdity. Kindly, never again misrepresent what I have actually said in this way.

  245. 245
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: I note, the clip in which Locke cites Hooker using the Golden Rule and where Hooker draws out Paul in Rom 1 – 2 by pointing onwards to Aristotle as illustrative of how core governing morality is stamped in the human conscience, which SS has repeatedly distorted:

    [Locke, 2nd treatise on civil gov’t, Ch 2 sec 5, quoting Hooker in his Ecclesiastical Polity:] . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men [–> in other words, he points out the reciprocity of the Golden Rule of Moshe, Jesus and Paul] . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection [–> paraphrases the rule in terms of moral consistency]. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves [–> appeals to equality of valuable nature, rooted in the common image of God, which is as opposed to the direct, amoral and nihilistic import of evolutionary materialism that might and/or manipulation makes ‘right’ – ‘truth’ – ‘meaning’ etc] , what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant [–> an allusion to Paul in Rom 2:12 – 14 and 13:8 – 10 on how God has given us a moral compass that guides reason and action producing a core of understanding of morality] . . .

    [–> these teach us so that we come to knowledge of morality: warranted, credibly true beliefs; of course, this is not the basis for that warrant, that lies in a world-foundational, world-root, world-source IS that inherently grounds OUGHT. And therein lieth a deep root of hyperskepticism on this, for if we are inherently — by patent facts of our nature as responsibly free and rational, valuable beings — under moral government and moral law, it points straight to a world root level Lawgiver and Governor. That is, to the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our nature]

    [Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80.]

    The rhetorical gambit of setting up what I cited, as a strawman used to evade the issue of a world root level IS that can properly bear the weight of OUGHT — a first cause of the moral order of reality — fails.

  246. 246
    mw says:

    Sean, # 242: “So you all need to give science some time to do its work. Considering from where it started, evolutionary biology has made enormous strides.”
    ________________________________

    It seems that by such an admission, “give science some time to do its work,” things are not going too well for consensus scientific evolution theory, and the work is lacking in clear evidence. Lacking a law. Lacking direct experimental reproducible unequivocal proof. Shall we “all” agree therefore; it is still at some type of faith stage in its major pillars of assertions.

    Still, the pied piper from Down many follow, endowed himself with a form of theological religiosity, which now the party line adheres to dogmatically.

    Biological evolutions proceed, according to Darwin, in imperceptible steps, never observed. Therefore, surely, we “all” will be waiting for eternity to see a transitional life form appear. (I was going to write, ‘another transitional life form,’ but I thought, steady, mw).

    That “all” will in due course arrive at the Grand Palace of Darwinia (just made that up), the sublime state of the perfection of fitness for each and every one who survives by any means possible. Even then, a person will still want to be the alpha male, by hook or by crook in pride of fitness, something akin to Satan, which hypothetically, could lead to an evolutionary fall.

    However, imaginary speculation apart, of which your master Darwin was past master; you introduce a ‘show stopper’: Judaeo-Christianity is wrong because there are other belief systems.

    Indeed, there are. Still, other faiths or belief systems may only indicate that the world is held together by mind, thought, and belief. Yet, in fairness, in all belief systems, including atheism, there are people who try to do good, again which suggest a little common good underlying religions not hell bent on destruction such as IS, and which suggest something sinister also underlies humanity.

    Nevertheless, in Witchcraft, such really proves that evil is a force that may be allowed to be harnessed to do some persons will. Evidence for the dark lord.

    I cite two books for consideration: “But Deliver Us From Evil: An introduction to the demonic dimension in pastoral care” by John Richards (London: Longman & Todd), 1974): and “From Witchcraft to Christ” by Doreen Irvine (Eastbourne UK: Kingsway) 1944).

    Cleary, Sean, there is no place for Satan in evolutionism. What a strategic stroke the “prince of this world” has pulled. Please do not tell my there is no evidence for evil, or evolutionary evil makes us fitter? Of course, you may want to reduce such to Mickey Mouse belief.

    Of course, we cannot possibly know in detail relative to mind, what soul and spirit, actually are.

    Many have made a free will choice on the basis of a belief in a theory that life comes from dead, lifeless matter. That dead matter will naturally ascend into a living operational coordinated unit, pre-assembled by unknown means, produce vegetable life, and every ascending order of life forms from dust. Such a belief system defies common sense and common logic. However, it demonstrates a common problem with humanity, to be as a god in lieu of our own knowledge. To be subject to no God. Yet God subjected Himself to us in terms of Judaeo-Christianity.

    The principle of sacrifice underlies all life forms, and in some way; from the least to the Almighty. Check it out Sean, it works every time. The fittest, is He who would sacrifice His All, for the “all,” at our worst, for loves sake, and the common Good.

    Please excuse me for what may seem as going off topic somewhat in order to answer my interlocutor. But under “General interest, Logic and First Principles of right reason, Philosophy, Science, Philosophy and (Natural) Theology,” it may be just squeeze in of interest.

    Thanks Sean for your comments.

  247. 247
    kairosfocus says:

    SS, I suggest that you ponder Thomas the Twin, here in context (and also here in context) on the imposition of unreasonable selectively hyperskeptical demands regarding warrant to moral certainty when there is adequate evidence already in hand. KF

    PS: Locke, in Section 5 of his introduction to his essay on human understanding, has some choice words:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 – 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 – 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 – 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 – 21, Eph 4:17 – 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 – 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 – 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 – 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Text references added to document the sources of Locke’s allusions and citations.]

    –> I add, that selective hyperskepticism is of no greater weight than global hyperskpeticism.

  248. 248
    mw says:

    Very good that quote, KF:

    “The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.”

  249. 249
    kairosfocus says:

    MW, Locke simply was not that imagined deist so many have suggested. And here he puts his finger, richly biblically informed, on ever so much of the error of our time. KF

  250. 250
    Phinehas says:

    SS:

    Assuming everything you wrote is correct, no reasonable person can believe in your deity unless that deity personally, face-to-face, reveals himself.

    Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings (and atheists) hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

    Oh Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth.

  251. 251
    Mung says:

    sean samis thinks God has a skull (and a face).

    wow

  252. 252
    HeKS says:

    sean samis @238

    Your “passing reference in the last paragraph mentioning Coyne’s responses to the Fine-Tuning Argument” is a bit too bulky and assertive for a “passing reference”. You opened the door; the horses ran out; whose fault is that?

    Sean, you don’t seem to be getting the rather simple point I’m making.

    I don’t care if you want to talk about ID. What I was addressing was a statement from you that in the context of your reply to KF claimed the OP was discussing philosophical issues of design theory. It was not.

    The OP was not remotely about design theory or philosophical issues of design theory. The OP was approximately 3.5 pages long and all but the last paragraph was exclusively about philosophical issues related to First-Cause arguments, which do not take the form of an ID design inference.

    The last paragraph is merely an aside to the article in which I state my opinion that Coyne didn’t address Rowe’s Fine-Tuning argument any better than he did the First-Cause argument. I only referenced design to point out that Coyne mischaracterizes the Fine-Tuning argument as an argument from ignorance when (unlike First-Cause arguments) it is actually a positive design inference. But that is merely a passing factual corrective, not a philosophical argument. The philosophical issues discussed in the article proper don’t have any bearing on the Fine-Tuning argument or on ID and are actually completely irrelevant to these other issues. They are simply different things. As such, to characterize the OP as being a discussion of philosophical issues of design theory is to utterly mischaracterize it. And so I’m left wondering why it is that you seem so intent on mischaracterizing the OP as being about the philosophy of ID.

    Oh, and by the way, even if you want to limit your comments to the discussion thread rather than the OP, your list of citations to prove that the discussion thread was also about ID in any significant way fails to do the job.

    In your quotes from SA, with one exception, he is simply using “Intelligent Designer” as a label/designation for a personal First Cause, but he is not talking about design theory or the logic of design inferences. In the one place he mentions “design” itself, it is in passing, as one item in a list of things he thinks we observe in the world.

    As for KF, in one case he simply mentions “design objectors” as a group of people and points out that they also seem to have trouble with first principles of reasoning (which, unlike ID, has some relevance to this discussion).

    In the other case, KF makes a passing reference to the fact that a basic design inference is being made in one sentence of a long quote he provided that is otherwise about first causes.

    Nobody here was specifically discussing ID, or the philosophy of ID, or the logic of design inferences. And you claim that in #160 (actually #161), KF suddenly declared:

    This thread, FYI, is a discussion of philosophical issues, not of design theory.

    But KF did not randomly make this declaration. He said this because in #158, you said this:

    I thank you all for your comments here.
    Whenever I get someone saying that creationism/ID is not actually religious, I refer them to your comments and those like yours.

    That is what KF was responding to. Out of nowhere you took a bunch of comments that were quite obviously about philosophy, theology and First Cause arguments but which happened to contain a couple tangential and passing mentions of design in them and you recast them as being about ID, inaccurately conflated ID with creationism, and then claimed the comments proved ID was religious, even though the comments were not actually about ID in the first place.

    This is what KF was correcting you on in #161, pointing out that you were mischaracterizing the discussion as being about ID when it was actually about other philosophical issues that are unrelated to ID / design theory.

  253. 253
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, a footnote as something caught my eye. I do not think intuitionists are cheating. They are caught up in the western obsession with epistemology, and so absent careful safeguards it is easy to substitute epistemic concerns for truth. Thus our certainty based on “proof” substitutes for accurate description of aspects of reality. This is a common enough error, notice we tend to speak in knowledge terms not truth and being terms. My other point is that we have to use distinct identity to think, reason and communicate. Any scheme that is not fully consistent with that and its immediate corollaries, LOI, LNC and LEM, is self referentially incoherent. KF

  254. 254
    daveS says:

    KF,

    My other point is that we have to use distinct identity to think, reason and communicate. Any scheme that is not fully consistent with that and its immediate corollaries, LOI, LNC and LEM, is self referentially incoherent. KF

    Hm, well if so, I would consider that to mean intuitionists are “cheating” (in the sense I intended). If intuitionists truly use laws that they say they reject, it would be like a person who claims to be a “pure” fruitarian eating carrots, and would be clearly inconsistent.

    On the other hand, if they simply abstain from using particular laws, I don’t see any problems from that, meaning that I don’t think you can show that the system is inconsistent. Not that there aren’t other reasons to criticize intuitionists.

    This is above my pay grade, but I believe one has to be careful to distinguish between statements made in the metalanguage and those made in the object language. In my view at least, we are ultimately talking about formal systems here. [If that’s not your view, then perhaps we don’t agree on enough to even discuss this.] Obviously we expect to be able to identify well-formed sentences in our object language, and also to communicate them back and forth, and so on, but I don’t see that this requires that LEM (or anything else, for that matter) is actually an axiom or theorem in our formal system. [What Brouwer would have to say about this, I don’t know, but I think that modern-day practitioners of “intuitionist logic” would roughly agree].

    Incidentially, I did find a connection between this LEM issue and some of the points from the infinite past threads a while back.

    From the wikipedia entry on LEM:

    In general, intuitionists allow the use of the law of excluded middle when it is confined to discourse over finite collections (sets), but not when it is used in discourse over infinite sets (e.g. the natural numbers). Thus intuitionists absolutely disallow the blanket assertion: “For all propositions P concerning infinite sets D: P or ~P” (Kleene 1952:48).

    For example:

    All natural numbers are finite or at least one natural number is infinite.

    would be allowed by me (and you, I believe?), but not by intuitionists.

    And for those who don’t accept the existence of “completed infinities”, this form of the LEM would be have to be excluded, whether one is an intuitionist or not.

  255. 255
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, kindly demonstrate communication on a mathematical topic without using the distinct identity of elements in the message. KF

  256. 256
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, kindly demonstrate communication on a mathematical topic without using the distinct identity of elements in the message. KF

    I don’t think you can. I also don’t believe I asserted such in my post above. Note the distinction I made between metalanguage and object language.

  257. 257
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, that is all that is required for my point to obtain. Distinct identity cannot be avoided and should be acknowledged for itself and its concomitants. KF

  258. 258
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, that is all that is required for my point to obtain. Distinct identity cannot be avoided and should be acknowledged for itself and its concomitants. KF

    I don’t think I have disputed that particular point. However, this doesn’t imply that anything of the form “for all P, P or not P” is an axiom or theorem in the formal system.

  259. 259
    daveS says:

    PS:

    I don’t think I have disputed that particular point. However, this doesn’t imply that anything of the form “for all P, P or not P” is an axiom or theorem in the formal system.

    Which I don’t mean to imply you have claimed, certainly.

  260. 260
    jcfrk101 says:

    kairosfocus my statement should have been clarified, LOI, LEM and LNC would apply to God, but without knowledge and full comprehension of God’s nature, we have no way to apply or test these laws against an immaterial and timeless being. There is no way to establish a contradiction, for instance in the case of the Trinity. Once must be able to determine that their is a contradiction between God as a singular being, with three persons, with each person fully encompassing the fullness of the deity. To establish contradiction one must first be able to understand the distinctions between God’s being and person, that is far beyond the capacity of any human being. So in this case LNC and LEM cannot be used to test or reject a statement about God’s nature. LOI clearly applies, but we cannot come to know God’s nature without him revealing it, the very basis of the doctrine of the trinity is that God has an identity, attributes, and our position is not to use logic to determine the nature of God, but to state what had been revealed.

  261. 261
    StephenB says:

    @260

    kairosfocus my statement should have been clarified, LOI, LEM and LNC would apply to God, but without knowledge and full comprehension of God’s nature, we have no way to apply or test these laws against an immaterial and timeless being.

    The rules of right reason are not tested for rationality. They are the test for rationality.

    There is no way to establish a contradiction, for instance in the case of the Trinity.

    .
    We don’t test the Trinity for rationality; we test the teaching on the Trinity for rationality. That teaching does not violate the Laws Identity or Non-Contradiction.

    Once must be able to determine that their is a contradiction between God as a singular being, with three persons, with each person fully encompassing the fullness of the deity.

    We can determine that there is no contradiction if we understand the teaching and how to apply the law of non-contradiction to test it.

    To establish contradiction one must first be able to understand the distinctions between God’s being and person, that is far beyond the capacity of any human being.

    No. The difference between God’s “person” and God’s “being” is irrelevant. What matters is the difference between a person and a nature. If you don’t know what those terms mean, you can’t evaluate the rationality of the teaching on the Trinity.

    So in this case LNC and LEM cannot be used to test or reject a statement about God’s nature.

    What we are testing is the revealed teaching on the Trinity and how it relates to God’s nature. The LNC can be used to determine if that teaching is coherent. It is.

    LOI clearly applies, but we cannot come to know God’s nature without him revealing it, the very basis of the doctrine of the trinity is that God has an identity, attributes, and our position is not to use logic to determine the nature of God, but to state what had been revealed.

    We are not using logic to determine the nature of God. We are using logic to determine if the revelation about God’s nature is rational. It is.

  262. 262
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, so soon as you must refer to distinct identity, its concomitant triple principles are at work. Thereafter, whatever we say must comport with that on pain of self referential absurdity. It is unwise to saw off the branch on which we all are unavoidably sitting all of the time, supporting us in literally everything we do. Including, for intuitionists trying to talk about infinite and finite sets and substituting epistemology for ontology in understanding truth. KF

  263. 263
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Here’s the modus tollens puzzle I referred to a while back. I’ll post it here since it also relates to the LEM and the three laws of thought in general, and I think you might find it interesting. It’s due to Frank Veltman, and this version is stated in the context of Lewis Carroll’s barbershop paradox. I don’t know how to resolve it, and interestingly, it seems that there is disagreement among actual logicians about what the problem is.

    Three barbers, Allen, Brown, and Carr own a barbershop. They man the shop so that during business hours, there is at least one but no more than two barbers working. You can verify that this allows six different ways to man the shop, which they rotate through in some fashion.

    Consider these statements concerning who is present when the shop is open:

    1) If Allen is out [not working], then if Brown is out, Carr is in.

    This follows from the fact that at least one barber has to be working.

    We could symbolize 1) as ¬A → (¬B → C).

    2) It is not the case that if Brown is out, Carr is in.

    In symbols, ¬(¬B → C).

    The justification here is that it’s not true that the absence of Brown implies the presence of Carr. Brown and Carr could both be out, with Allen working alone.

    Considering 1) and 2), by modus tollens, we conclude that Allen is not out, that is, Allen is working. But that’s not right, because Allen could be out with one or both of Brown and Carr working.

    The question is, what went wrong? I will stress again that I don’t know, but I can see myself attempting to use this sort of reasoning and getting into trouble.

    Of course anyone is invited to resolve this seeming paradox.

  264. 264
    sean samis says:

    daveS, re #263

    I don’t think you’re using modus tollens correctly.

    Your statement 1 seems incomplete. If Allen is not out, then if Brown is out, Carr is in OR if Carr is out Brown is in.

    Shouldn’t it be:

    ¬A -> ((¬B -> C)|(¬C -> B))

    Your second statement also seems incomplete, even if true. So not all the options are included in our statements. Therefore I do not see how modus tollens is being properly applied here.

    Given your two statements, I think it’s an error to arrive at any conclusion concerning who is working; there’s not enough information.

    sean s. (edited)

  265. 265
    daveS says:

    sean samis,

    Interesting ideas. If we do change the first premise to your version, can’t we then change the second to ¬((¬B → C) ∨ (¬C → B))? I believe that’s still true. Then proceed as before.

    However, it’s not required that the premises in the argument be “complete” in any sense, is it? At least I haven’t heard of that before.

  266. 266
    kairosfocus says:

    Busy just now but an old fashioned suggestion will help, do a 3-variable truth table, it is 8 rows.

  267. 267
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Busy just now but an old fashioned suggestion will help, do a 3-variable truth table, it is 8 rows.

    Indeed (and six of the rows satisfy the constraints for manning the shop).

    As to whether a truth table is the correct tool for determining whether ¬(¬B → C) is true, I’m not sure that’s clear.

    I will also say that I’m not assuming that “→” stands for the material conditional specifically. Rather, I’m just using it to symbolize the indicative conditional generally.

  268. 268
    sean samis says:

    daveS; re. #265;

    However, it’s not required that the premises in the argument be “complete” in any sense, is it?

    If they are accurate but not complete, then you are vulnerable to running into the kind of dilemma you were struggling with in # 263. You can arrive at a valid conclusion with partial information only if the partial information is sufficient for the conclusion. In this case, it seems not to have been.

    After some thought, even the first statement as I rewrote it was incomplete, it should be:

    ¬A -> ((¬B -> C) | (¬C -> B) | (B & C))

    Apologies if I’m using non-standard symbols. If A is not present, then either C is alone, B is alone, or both B and C are present.

    KF: Busy just now but an old fashioned suggestion will help, do a 3-variable truth table, it is 8 rows.

    A good idea.

    | A B C

    | T T T – invalid
    | T T F – valid
    | T F T – valid
    | T F F – valid
    | F T T – valid
    | F T F – valid
    | F F T – valid
    | F F F – invalid

    daveS: As to whether a truth table is the correct tool for determining whether ¬(¬B -> C) is true, I’m not sure that’s clear.

    If it works, it is a correct tool. That is sufficient.

    The fourth row shows that ¬(¬B -> C) is true.

    ¬B -> ((¬A -> C) | (¬C -> A) | (A & C))

    This is not surprising, the statement can be transformed to validly begin with not-A, not-B, or not-C.

    sean s. (edited)

  269. 269
    daveS says:

    sean samis,

    If they are accurate but not complete, then you are vulnerable to running into the kind of dilemma you were struggling with in # 263. You can arrive at a valid conclusion with partial information only if the partial information is sufficient for the conclusion. In this case, it seems not to have been.

    Well, again I just don’t see any mention of completeness in the usual definition of modus tollens. As far as I know, it simply states that if A → B is true, and if ¬B is true, then ¬A follows.

    Are you asserting that at least one of the premises 1) and 2) is not true? If so, that would resolve the paradox.

    If it works, it is a correct tool. That is sufficient.

    I’m not sure the truth table actually does “work” in the sense that it tells us whether ¬(¬B → C) is actually true or not. The column under ¬(¬B → C) has five F’s and a single T (leaving out the two irrelevant cases), if I wrote it out correctly. Yet I claim that it is reasonable to accept the statement “it is not the case that the absence of Brown implies the presence of Carr” as true. I think most would agree that “the absence of Brown implies the presence of Carr” is clearly false, and then by the LEM, premise 2) follows.

    More generally, I believe many (or most?) logicians hold the position that the indicative conditional is not truth-functional, in which case the truth value of A → B cannot always be determined from the truth values of A and B alone (and hence the truth table is of limited utility).

    Edit: I have to do some work today, but I will look around and see if I can locate arguments similar to this barbershop scenario “in the wild” so to speak. I will be surprised if none exist.

  270. 270
    daveS says:

    sean samis,

    PS to my #269: I don’t know if I’m actually addressing your points about completeness, but my primary question is: Are premises 1) and 2) true? If so, then it seems to me this scenario would be a counterexample to modus tollens, regardless of whether the premises are complete. Now there are some who believe that this example does show MT is not valid, but I’d rather not join them. But I don’t see how I’ve incorrectly applied MT here.

  271. 271
    sean samis says:

    daveS; regarding both 269 and 270;

    Well, again I just don’t see any mention of completeness in the usual definition of modus tollens. As far as I know, it simply states that if A -> B is true, and if ¬B is true, then ¬A follows.

    I think that the requirement that the statements must be true implies that the statements cannot have any significant omissions.

    Are you asserting that at least one of the premises 1) and 2) is not true? If so, that would resolve the paradox.

    I don’t know if I’m actually addressing your points about completeness, but my primary question is: Are premises 1) and 2) true?

    Statement 1, as you presented it is NOT true because it’s incomplete and omits pertinent conditions.

    Now there are some who believe that this example does show MT is not valid, but I’d rather not join them. But I don’t see how I’ve incorrectly applied MT here.

    I think your error, IMHO, is at least that you’ve undervalued completeness.

    I’m not sure the truth table actually does “work” in the sense that it tells us whether ¬(¬B -> C) is actually true or not. The column under ¬(¬B -> C) has five F’s and a single T (leaving out the two irrelevant cases), if I wrote it out correctly. Yet I claim that it is reasonable to accept the statement “it is not the case that the absence of Brown implies the presence of Carr” as true. I think most would agree that “the absence of Brown implies the presence of Carr” is clearly false, and then by the LEM, premise 2) follows.

    I think you’re trying too hard. You write your second sentence as if the truth table disagreed with you; the truth table I posted agrees with your claim that, “it is not the case that the absence of Brown implies the presence of Carr”.

    I’m not trying to be rude or snarky, but to me it’s as if you added two to two and got four and then said “… and yet I claim I should have gotten four.” Well, yeah. You did.

    In this instance the truth table I posted verified your claim. It shows 3 conditions where Brown is gone, in the first, Allen and Carr are present, in second Allen is alone and in the third Carr is alone. So clearly ¬(¬B -> C)

    So I don’t understand why you doubt the table. The logic captured by the truth table is complete and compelling.

    If you are using a different truth table, I’d love to see it.

    I believe many (or most?) logicians hold the position that the indicative conditional is not truth-functional, in which case the truth value of A -> B cannot always be determined from the truth values of A and B alone (and hence the truth table is of limited utility).

    Someone would have to show me an example of that, and the first thing I’d look for is whether it was complete or not.

    We’re all busy these days, when you have a chance, I’d love to see what you can find.

    sean s. (edited)

  272. 272
    daveS says:

    seam samis,

    Let me start here:

    I think you’re trying too hard. You write your second sentence as if the truth table disagreed with you; the truth table I posted agrees with your claim that, “it is not the case that the absence of Brown implies the presence of Carr”.

    I’m not trying to be rude or snarky, but to me it’s as if you added two to two and got four and then said “… and yet I claim I should have gotten four.” Well, yeah. You did.

    Yes, I missed your point there. Now that I get it, I do agree.

    Back to the top:

    I think that the requirement that the statements must be true implies that the statements cannot have any significant omissions.

    All I can say is that I’m not aware of this condition being a part of MT.

    Revisiting your original version of 1), I believe I could actually have made the consequent a conjunction rather than a disjunction, which your formulation had:
    ¬A → ((¬B → C)∧(¬C → B))

    I think that’s true, which would imply that eliminating either conjunct on the right would still result in a true statement (resulting in my original formulation). Would you regard that as complete?

    Statement 1, as you presented it is NOT true because it’s incomplete and omits pertinent conditions.

    Well, I just don’t see how. If Allen is out, then if Brown is out, don’t we then know that Carr is in? Clearly I’m not dealing with the case where Carr is out, but I don’t know why I would have to.

    Someone would have to show me an example of that, and the first thing I’d look for is whether it was complete or not.

    We’re all busy these days, when you have a chance, I’d love to see what you can find.

    There is some discussion of this issue here (and in the previous section, covering arguments for truth-functionality). There’s a wikipedia article on Paradoxes of Material Implication which is also relevant.

  273. 273
    daveS says:

    FWIW, my guess is that the second premise is flawed. Rather, it should be “it is not necessarily the case that if not B, then C”, or ¬□(¬B → C) in symbols. In that case, we cannot apply modus tollens. I believe that’s one of the responses to this example that Veltman mentions.

  274. 274
    Mung says:

    kf: Busy just now but an old fashioned suggestion will help, do a 3-variable truth table, it is 8 rows.

    You’re assuming that there is such a thing as truth.

  275. 275
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung, still busy. Truth is best seen as accurate description of reality. Whether we know a truth to be true (to what relevant degree of confidence) or in some cases can do so, is a different story. KF

  276. 276
    daveS says:

    To elaborate on my #273, there are six “possible worlds” in this scenario, each one corresponding to an element of the set {A, B, C, AB, AC, BC}. Each world is labeled by the barbers that are currently working.

    In every possible world, it is the case that if Allen is out, then if Brown is out, Carr is in, so I think premise 1) is ok.

    However, it’s not true that in every possible world, ¬(¬B → C). This is false in every world except A in fact.

    Let’s assume B is the “actual world” as an example. Then premise 2) is false, so the original MT argument fails. Similarly for the other four worlds in which 2) is false. The only world in which the premises are both true is A, and in that case only, the argument is sound. (I think, anyway).

  277. 277
    sean samis says:

    Mung;

    Truth must exist, and you seem to believe in it.

    Your statement to KF,

    You’re assuming that there is such a thing as truth

    asserts a truth claim: that it is true that prior statements by KF indicate an assumption on his part.

    Truth is just the term we use to refer to the things that are, or occur, or were, or happened.

    sean s.

  278. 278
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, still busy (e.g. playing organisation midwife just now in a region where parliaments run off the GBP 300 or so Erskine May; and Robert’s Rules of Order are not a commonplace . . . ) but I suggest, given reality is, and credibly our observed cosmos is contingent, this constrains views. Root reality of necessary being character must exist per implications of inability of non-being to exert causal powers. Further, even our reasoning is morally governed [oughtness to truth and right], pointing to the need for such a root adequate to sustain ought; IS and OUGHT must be fused inextricably in the world-root; which points also to maximally great being. Where, at any subsequent level, we run into Hume’s guillotine of is, is then — gap leap — ought ought. Then, we ponder that truth [given expressive, communicating minds] says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not. Moral truth is pivotal here, as such is communicated to us via that sense we term conscience. Truth, tied to the root level first cause of a world with beings such as we are in it. Matters to ponder. KF

  279. 279
    Eric Anderson says:

    KF @197:

    Thank you for the detailed reply, and I apologize for the inordinate delay in responding. I was asking for scriptural references not so much due to a general lack of scriptural familiarity, but due to a desire to understand the particular interpretation of the same — to know whether I was missing some obvious scriptural statement or declaration. It appears I am not. I am familiar with the five passages cited, but in intellectual honesty would have to note that they are far from definitive on the point. Particularly when there are reasonable alternate interpretations, coupled with the further fact that there are numerous other passages that would suggest a different conclusion on this important point.

    No doubt I can continue to learn more from the non-scriptural sources you cited, some of which I am familiar with and others of which I should spend some time with. Finally, I would note that the caution of wresting the scriptures with private interpretation applies just as much to the great Biblical “thinkers” and “scholars” as the rest of us. Yes, the caution of humility is well taken, particularly toward those of us who have not devoted our life to Biblical scholarship. However, let us apply the caution fairly across the board.

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