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Arguments for the existence of God

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.
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Alan C.
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#121 Post by Alan C. » September 20th, 2010, 6:53 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Mickyd
With respect, I've barely read anything from you that I don't consider to be superficial, partly or entirely incoherent, partly or entirely abusive, soundoffs.
Calling me incoherent :smile: You don't do irony then?
If you're willing to engage in considered, structured, intelligible argumentation then I'm always willing to engage with you.
I can't take a serious part in a discussion titled "arguments for the existence of god" (small g) as there are non,
I could copy paste some long tracts from the sceptics annotated bible if you like?
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#122 Post by mickeyd » September 20th, 2010, 6:58 pm

Hi Nick,
surely Russell is saying "I can see how it could be, that there is no reason for the universe's existence"
But Nick, what reason could anyone postulate for a phenomenon that has no reason? Can you give a reason? Can I? Can anyone else on this forum? How can anyone "see how" it could be? There's nothing to see!

Having claimed reason as his authority, Russell must give a reason for his belief, otherwise the claim is spurious.

Now I anticipate "well who caused God then?" But this is the point. In order for anything to be, there must be some unique entity that is excepted from the rule (from nothing comes nothing), and thereby proves and justifies the rule. This is the only belief in which the mind can be reconciled to its own intrinsic rationality.

Regards,
Mickey

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#123 Post by mickeyd » September 20th, 2010, 7:01 pm

Hi animist,

"reasonable, ie logical, behaviour and inferences. Does this make sense?"

No, I'm afraid not, because it's precisely Russell's logic that I'm questioning. But thanks anyway for trying.

Regards,
Mickeyd

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#124 Post by mickeyd » September 20th, 2010, 7:16 pm

Hi everyone,

To quote from myself:
Now I anticipate "well who caused God then?" But this is the point. In order for anything to be, there must be some unique entity that is excepted from the rule (from nothing comes nothing), and thereby proves and justifies the rule. This is the only belief in which the mind can be reconciled to its own intrinsic rationality.
This is the difference between rationality and rationalism. Rationalism can never accept God because it cannot understand God. I am rational, but in order to retain my rationality I have, in the end, to accept the reality of trans-rationality. This is the terminus of rationality. When the point of maximal analysis is reached, and we can proceed no further, there we find God, where we always knew, deep down, that God would be.

Regards,
Mickey

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Lifelinking
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#125 Post by Lifelinking » September 20th, 2010, 7:36 pm

:hilarity:
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Lord Muck oGentry
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#126 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » September 20th, 2010, 7:50 pm

mickeyd wrote:You’ve argued that Copleston not Russell invoked the notion of an infinite regress. I disagree because when Russell posits an uncaused total reality this implies that reality has no beginning – unless you believe, as Russell must, that something can come from nothing, but I reject this as literally inconceivable and therefore unbelievable, whether by Russell or anyone else.
This is an improvement, in the sense that it now clear that you are arguing against not what BR says but what you think he should say.
It’s striking that Russell’s rejection of the law of causality (in this case applied to the whole of reality) is itself based on the law of causality: “I see no reason…”. And as I observed in my first post, if Russell really believed that the whole was causeless (self-existent) then he should be a pantheist – but he’s not
I see this has already had some attention from Animist. Quite correctly, he distinguishes reason from cause. If you are in any doubt about the distinction, you may want to reflect on the fact that reasons can intelligibly be described as cogent, valid, persuasive, well expressed and so on. Causes can't.
BR: “The whole concept of cause is one we derive from our observation of particular things…”

On the contrary, without assuming a priori the law of causality, we could have no knowledge of particulars or univerals. If events really were causeless then no basis would exist for differentiating and relating the different parts of reality. At the moment of observation the observer could cease to exist, since if all events are causeless, there is no cause to prevent spontaneous non-existence. And if all of reality consists of these absurdities then we are left with nothing but an incoherent blob.
You've got carried away by your own rhetoric here. From the fact that certain events ( at the quantum level) have to be dealt with probabilistically rather than deterministically it does not begin to follow that " all events are causeless" or that we are all in danger of what Douglas Adams would have called catastrophic existence-failure.
I also disagree that Copleston committed the fallacy of composition. The fallacy is not necessary merely from the fact of arguing that the whole shares a property in common with a part. For example, if every part of a chess set is made of glass, is not the whole made of glass?
What your chess-set example shows is just that there are some innocent arguments that might in a very dim light be mistaken for the Fallacy of Composition. To be composed entirely of parts that are themselves composed entirely of glass is to be composed of glass, certainly. What of it? It certainly does not show that FC did not commit the fallacy.


This is why Copleston elsewhere points out that if you add up chocolates to infinity you get an infinity of chocolate, not a sheep; and similarly, if you add up contingent beings to infinity you still get contingent beings, not a necessary being.
Simple point here about the notion of contingency: it always makes sense to ask Contingent on what, exactly? And the answer consists in pointing out something else on which the first thing is contingent.
If you wish to say that a collection of contingent beings is itself a contingent being, by all means do so, provided there is something left over to point to when the question is asked. And that may work well enough even when the collection is very large. But if your collection has taken up everything, there is nothing left over to point to.

And at that point, we note that what can intelligibly be asked of the parts cannot always intelligibly be asked of the collection.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#127 Post by mickeyd » September 20th, 2010, 9:36 pm

Hi Lord Muck of Gentry,
If you wish to say that a collection of contingent beings is itself a contingent being, by all means do so, provided there is something left over to point to when the question is asked.
I do say, and is there is something left over: a non-contingent being.

But if your collection has taken up everything, there is nothing left over to point to.
If and only if God does not exist. What is your argument for this? At the moment you're just asserting it. Please provide an argument that does not take us to an inconceivable conclusion.

Regards,
Mickey

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#128 Post by mickeyd » September 20th, 2010, 9:55 pm

Hi Lord Muck of Gentry,
From the fact that certain events ( at the quantum level) have to be dealt with probabilistically rather than deterministically it does not begin to follow that " all events are causeless"
Probability events in quantum physics are simply events for which the causal process is not fully understood. If any quantum event was actually non-determinate, then necessarily all events are, by definition, causeless. There is no tertium quid: either all events have a real, efficient and adequate cause or they do not. If they do not, then Adams apt description would apply.

"To be composed entirely of parts that are themselves composed entirely of glass is to be composed of glass, certainly. What of it? It certainly does not show that FC did not commit the fallacy."
You're missing the point. I was not trying to show that FC had not committed the fallacy; my illustration was to show that animist had not proven that he had (the mere act of composition is insufficient to committ the fallacy).

Regards,
Mickey

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#129 Post by mickeyd » September 20th, 2010, 10:34 pm

Hi Lord Muck of Gentry,
This is an improvement, in the sense that it now clear that you are arguing against not what BR says but what you think he should say.
I don't accept this, because I don't agree with your definition of "says". When Russell denied that the fact of every man having a mother requires the whole race to have a mother, his illustration obviously refers to any collection of contingent beings, including therefore an infinitely large collection.

This is why Russell explicity did not refute the inconceivability of the infinite regress (IR) when Copleston raised its inconceivability: BR: "I don't want to seem arrogant, but it does seem to me that I can conceive things that you say the human mind can't conceive." And as if to shoot himself in the foot, he then shows how confused his mind was by arguing that 'assured' results in science show the existence of causeless events. Well if there's nothing wrong with the IR, why try to avoid it by appeals to (non-existent) science?

Anyway, there's no need for us to get bogged down in the FC vs BR debate, my Lord. We can state our arguments and critique each other's in accordance with our views of their merits. Whether we are echoing FC or BR is not really important. This issue should not hinder the progress of our debate.

Regards,
Mickeyd

Lord Muck oGentry
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#130 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » September 20th, 2010, 11:38 pm

mickeyd wrote:We can state our arguments and critique each other's in accordance with our views of their merits. Whether we are echoing FC or BR is not really important. This issue should not hinder the progress of our debate.
Very well.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

Lord Muck oGentry
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#131 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » September 20th, 2010, 11:54 pm

mickeyd wrote:
If you wish to say that a collection of contingent beings is itself a contingent being, by all means do so, provided there is something left over to point to when the question is asked.
I do say, and is there is something left over: a non-contingent being.

But if your collection has taken up everything, there is nothing left over to point to.
If and only if God does not exist. What is your argument for this? At the moment you're just asserting it. Please provide an argument that does not take us to an inconceivable conclusion.
Now, I'm disappointed.

Your first post talks of Proofs. That is assuming the burden of proof, is it not? That means that it up to you to show what is wrong with my account. Calling it inconceivable doesn't get you much further forward.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

philbo
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#132 Post by philbo » September 21st, 2010, 12:17 am

Lord Muck oGentry wrote:Your first post talks of Proofs. That is assuming the burden of proof, is it not? That means that it up to you to show what is wrong with my account. Calling it inconceivable doesn't get you much further forward.
ISTM that this is his problem: in his view, there being no god is inconceivable. He really doesn't seem to be able to conceive of a world without the god he's been brought up to believe in, so any logic or argument that shows that is struck out as being "inconceivable". Sad, really.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#133 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » September 21st, 2010, 12:21 am

mickeyd wrote:Hi Lord Muck of Gentry,
From the fact that certain events ( at the quantum level) have to be dealt with probabilistically rather than deterministically it does not begin to follow that " all events are causeless"
Probability events in quantum physics are simply events for which the causal process is not fully understood. If any quantum event was actually non-determinate, then necessarily all events are, by definition, causeless.
Well, no. What you are doing here is armchair science. It is a matter of fact, not of definition, whether quantum events are to be explained probabilistically or deterministically.

For my part, I listen from my armchair to what quantum physicists have to say about it. I have already urged you to distinguish between every effect has a cause and every event has a cause. The former is true by definition. The latter is not true by definition, and it need not be true at all.
Quote:
"To be composed entirely of parts that are themselves composed entirely of glass is to be composed of glass, certainly. What of it? It certainly does not show that FC did not commit the fallacy."


You're missing the point. I was not trying to show that FC had not committed the fallacy; my illustration was to show that animist had not proven that he had (the mere act of composition is insufficient to committ the fallacy).
No, I do not think I have missed the point.
This comes back to burden of proof. Once it has been pointed out that the supposed proof contains an apparent fallacy, it's up to you to show that the proof does not depend on the fallacy. If the proof isn't fallacious, that shouldn't be too hard. Proofs, after all, prove.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

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animist
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#134 Post by animist » September 21st, 2010, 7:48 am

mickeyd wrote:Hi animist,

"reasonable, ie logical, behaviour and inferences. Does this make sense?"

No, I'm afraid not, because it's precisely Russell's logic that I'm questioning. But thanks anyway for trying.

Regards,
Mickeyd
you are playing with words again. You were not querying Russell's logic but claiming that he was talking about causation. Do you not understand and accept that logic and causation are different things?

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#135 Post by animist » September 21st, 2010, 9:15 am

philbo wrote:
Lord Muck oGentry wrote:Your first post talks of Proofs. That is assuming the burden of proof, is it not? That means that it up to you to show what is wrong with my account. Calling it inconceivable doesn't get you much further forward.
ISTM that this is his problem: in his view, there being no god is inconceivable. He really doesn't seem to be able to conceive of a world without the god he's been brought up to believe in, so any logic or argument that shows that is struck out as being "inconceivable". Sad, really.
yes, for something to be literally unconceivable it must be impossible for it to be conceived. But we non-believers do conceive the possibility of God's non-existence, so it cannot be literally inconceivable. What mickeyd sort of means, I suppose, is that we are wrong not to think like him. But then he needs other reasons to show why this is true.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#136 Post by Lifelinking » September 21st, 2010, 9:40 am

What mickeyd sort of means, I suppose, is that we are wrong not to think like him. But then he needs other reasons to show why this is true.

Exactly
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

Nick
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#137 Post by Nick » September 21st, 2010, 10:21 am

mickeyd wrote:Hi Nick,
surely Russell is saying "I can see how it could be, that there is no reason for the universe's existence"
But Nick, what reason could anyone postulate for a phenomenon that has no reason? Can you give a reason? Can I? Can anyone else on this forum? How can anyone "see how" it could be? There's nothing to see!

Having claimed reason as his authority, Russell must give a reason for his belief, otherwise the claim is spurious.

Now I anticipate "well who caused God then?" But this is the point. In order for anything to be, there must be some unique entity that is excepted from the rule (from nothing comes nothing), and thereby proves and justifies the rule. This is the only belief in which the mind can be reconciled to its own intrinsic rationality.

Regards,
Mickey
Hi Mickey

You are playing fast and loose with words, I'm afraid. You seem to be mixing 'reason' with 'cause'. There could be a cause of the Big Bang without there being a reason for it. In your terms, why did your god decide to create the universe?

Russell's reason for for his view is that there is insufficient reason for another view, so his is the most likely. It is only the religious who seek to 'prove' the unproveable.

And talking of 'prove', the definition of 'prove' in the phrase, "the exception which proves the rule" means 'test', not 'confirms as true'. If there is one entity that is excepted from the rule, then why not several, or hundreds, or millions? Just because we humans have limited mental capacity, does not thereby restrict physics, cosmology or anything else.

Furthermore,why should a cause of the Big Bang be your god and not some complete bastard of a god? (Though on reflection, sometimes that is the same thing....)

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#138 Post by Lifelinking » September 21st, 2010, 10:34 am

"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#139 Post by animist » September 21st, 2010, 11:06 am

Lifelinking wrote:
What mickeyd sort of means, I suppose, is that we are wrong not to think like him. But then he needs other reasons to show why this is true.

Exactly
dear LL, I prefer your earlier avatar/persona, this is a bit scary; is this what Mickeyd has done to you? Or are you just trying to scare him away?

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#140 Post by Lifelinking » September 21st, 2010, 12:04 pm

It better reflects the inner me :)
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mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#141 Post by mickeyd » September 21st, 2010, 1:51 pm

Hi to my recent detractors,

It's facile to claim that Russell was not talking about causation because that was the entire context of his conversation. He was arguing with Copleston about causality. But anyway, as I’ve asked Lord Muck, let’s not get bogged down in that debate – let’s have our own debate!
yes, for something to be literally unconceivable it must be impossible for it to be conceived.
animist, your statement is vital. Hold on to it. Although a truism it emphasises what this forum needs to accept.
What mickeyd sort of means, I suppose, is that we are wrong not to think like him.
But you do think like me animist, and I like you. We're all human beings.

What Constitutes Proof

The theistic proofs demonstrate all alternatives to be inconceivable. Does that constitute proof or not? I agree with HP Owen who, in the context of the cosmological proof, observes, "... [it is] fully grounded in rational reflection and lead inevitably to God as a Kantian Idea of Reason". The Christian Knowledge of God, OUP 1969, p87. The question then is, does a process of rational reflection, arriving indirectly at God through the operation, finally, of Kantian intuitions, constitute proof of God?

Although HP Owen's book (at the time of writing he was a Reader in the Philosophy of Religion at Kings College, London) is a superb book, I believe, along with others, that he gets into self-contradiction by arguing simultaneously that (a) a final intuitive step disqualifies from the status of proof (i.e. is non-demonstrative), and (b) rational reflection leads inevitably to God (see quote above): "We cannot deduce from causes in the world that there must be a First Cause of the world; for God and the world cannot be brought within the same initial definition of causality." Ibid., p87. But if rational reflection leads inevitably to God then how is that inevitability not demonstrative, even though it is finally intuitive?

Further, since Kantian intuitions (or Locke’s abilities, or Aristotle’s categories etc) are necessary for sense-perception, how could they have derived from sense-perception? The existence of a priori mental equipment is in itself another means for rational reflection to arrive at God. If we accept that we do in fact sense-perceive the world, then what is the real, efficient, adequate and final cause of this?

If anyone accepts that (a) the theistic proofs are rational reflection leading inevitably to God, but that (b) since the final step is intuitive (involves rejecting inconceivability) then the proofs are not actually rational proof, it becomes clear that this position can only be maintained by a narrow definition of rationality that excludes the intuitive component. But I say this is nonsense, because the discursive and intuitive ‘components’ of the mind operate together to make us rational entities.

So what I’m defending here is the method and nature of the theistic proofs as being compatible with the meaning of the word “proof”. Of course you may reject the contents of the proofs, but then the burden of argument shifts onto the atheist: why does the atheist reject the theistic proofs? The theist, having laid out his position, and standing ready to defend it, has done all he can for now. As Copleston said, if you don’t make a move you can’t be checkmated.


The Contents of the Theistic Proofs

So I ask you to make a move: be completely honest with yourselves: can you conceive in your mind right now of something coming from nothing? Of an infinite being not being? Of order coming from total disorder? Don’t just shoot me down, try to actually think these things. Really try to do it. If you can, please explain how.


Regards,
Mickey

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