• Dfpolis
    700
    Teleology is more complex than necessary.TheMadFool

    Really? How?
  • Marty
    160
    Taking my lead from Plato in the Sophist, I understand "to exist" as convertible with "to be able to act.". If "pure concepts of understanding" do not exist, they can do nothing. So, we can safely ignore them in all contexts. On the other hand, if you insist that they do something, it is a corruption of language to say that they do not exist.

    By the way, existence is transcendental, applying to all reality.

    Well, I am no longer familiar with what Plato had in mind in the Sophist, but I'm guessing "the be able to act" just probably means" causally efficacious" unless you mean something else? Sometimes "being able" to means something like capacity-of without ever acting. But I'm not sure why I would have to accept this. Some deflationist view could just say "to exist" is used in a variety of ways depending on what you mean. For example, numbers "exist" in some sense, idea exist in some ways, middle earth in the LOTR "exists" in some other way — it's relevant on context and our understanding of the situation, but we seem to affirm this predication non-trivially. However, numbers, idea, nor middle earth is causally efficacious in our space-time continuum. Ideas and reason would be conceptual tools to use in the logical space of reasons, but I don't know why I'd make them causally efficacious.

    However, Kant had already demonstrated causation to be ideal at the point he addressed the idea of existence not being a real predicate. If indeed existence wasn't a real predicate, then the application of concepts like, "the ability to act" could have applied to existence, but not derive from existence — that would have just been another property in addition to it. It is not "the ability to act" in a being that's existence, it's merely existence itself separate from any predication for Kant. That is why in order to form knoweldge, we cannot have concepts alone but also use our sensibility in receptivity.

    Nothing can "create" anything unless it is operational -- and nothing can be operational unless it actually exists. Thus, it is incoherent to say they do not exist. How can anyone say anything relevant to reality about what does not exist?

    The question is worked backwards for Kant: how can their be a reality at all to experience, unless we have transcendental tools to experience it in the first place? You would have to somehow create a theory in which we readily just receive the world without any cognitive tools. Such things like intuition. However, Kant has already told us that intuition without concepts are empty, as concepts without intuitions are blind. Such content could never get us any form of justification without the other, and never enter into the logical space of reasons.

    I can't relate this sentence to anything in my experience. Perhaps you could illustrate it with an example?

    The categories of space-time are constitutive of all experiences, as all experiences will include them. In terms of the pure concepts of understanding: quality, quantity, modality and relation are also contained as forms of existence.

    It is not a predicate in Aristotelian metaphysics either. That does not mean that we have no concept of existence. The concept of existence reflects an indeterminate capacity to act. The specification of a being's capacity to act is given by its essence.

    It's not only that we have no concept of existence, it is that existence isn't a concept! For the concept of "existence" adds nothing to an object. For even you yourself changed the prediction of "existence" to mean "the ability to act" — something, in which for Kant, would have been independently applied to existence.

    I have no idea what this means. We reason to the existence of God. And, we can reason hypothetically, prescinding from the question of actual existence. I will grant that we cannot reason to existence except from existence.

    It means what I have now written above.

    This sentence is incoherent. To know something specific (a tode ti -- a "this something"), we must have some means of ostentation, of identification, of pointing "it" out. If we cannot do that, and Kant says we can't with noumena, then we can't know "it" vs. something else. We can know, by analogy with our continuing experience of novelty, that there are things we do not know, but absent some means of identification, we cannot say it is a this rather than that that we do not know.

    The same sentence assumes facts not in evidence. We do not know that there are any intrinsic limitations to our understanding, nor is it clear that we ever could know that there were such limits. To know that there were such limits we would have to know that there were facts we could not know -- a contradiction in terms.

    That seems odd to me. Let's say a cat could reason in some sort of way — which presumably it can. You think it could know the limitations of it cognitive capacities? Do we not believe it to have some? Like do you really think it could in any way understand a laptop? But why would we believe we have the cognitive strength of realizing everything? If we do have such humility, it would already seem to point out some utter limitations. Thus creating the Noumea.

    Dfpolis
    Perhaps, but not to the separation of noumena and phenomena that Kant posits. I know of no sound argument that would lead us to reject the notion that phenomena are how noumena reveal their reality to us. Do you have even one?

    I accept that you are not a Kantian, but I do not see that I am misunderstanding Kant.

    You say you aren't misunderstanding Kant, then you proceed to say that the phenomena appears from the noumena. It appears from the world. The noumena/phenomenon are just two aspects of the world. As I take it the only reasonable interpretation of Kant is the dual-aspect interpretation.
  • Marty
    160
    The more general question is why have any explanations at all? Aristotle is on the right track in beginning his Metaphysics by observing that "All humans by nature desire to know." To be human is to be knowledge-seeking. That is the reason that many young children tire parents out with incessant "Whys?" Aristotle, after years of studying his predecessors, found that there are four basic types of explanation: material, formal, efficient and final. What stands before us, the given (datum), is because it is made of this stuff, in this form, by this agent, for this end.

    Of course, not everyone notices, or cares, about the same projections of reality. If you go to a good movie with articulate friends, the conversation after can turn to plotting, character development, set design, costuming, cinematography, scoring or a myriad of other aspects which integrate to give the movie its impact. Not everyone will notice or care about many of these aspects, but they are still part of what is given in the movie. What anyone notices or cares about will depend on their nature and experiential background. It is the same with modes of explanation.

    I'm not asking the general question. I'm asking the specific one: why teleological explanations at all? I'm not talking about a universal skeptic, just a teleological one. For there could be the possibility of someone inventing a fifth form of causation. One compatible with the others, yet used specifically because the other forms of causation under-determine it's form of explanation. However, the form of causation is used ad-hoc. The person then can't appeal to "I'm just asking questions! Just the facts, please!"

    I did not say that some phenomena yield more readily to a teleological approach to prediction than to a mechanistic one to justify teleology generally, but to rebut the often-heard objection that it has no predictive value. Of course it does. Most predictions of human behavior are based on understanding individual goals.

    While increasing predictability gives theories (modes of understanding) utility and evolutionary survival value, there is more to the human desire to know. We not only seek utility, but intellectual satisfaction. That is why humans study fields such as theoretical physics, mathematics, metaphysics and theology without hope of application.

    I think Andrew Woodfield made this argument in his book Teleology. However, I'm also looking for a reason why future mechanical explanations could not replace teleological predictions. Some prior telo-biological explanations (so I've heard) have already been replaced. Why does under-determination stand as an argument at all?

    As I just said, it was not intended to be. "Ought" is based on the relation of means to ends. If we are ordered to some natural completion, to some end, then we ought to effect adequate means. (This is, itself, a teleological argument.) As we have a natural desire to know, then we ought to employ the means of satisfying that need. Aristotle's study of his predecessors can be seen as an empirical study of the modes of explanation that satisfy human curiosity. Among them is the teleological mode.

    Yes, but then one could just tailor teleological causation to things agents have and not the entire world. One could imagine another saying, "Let's grant that the human-being, with a mind has intentional (and therefore normative) goals. The form of these are teleological." Not many have denied this. The further question is whether or not we should apply this to the natural world.

    If we have an end (telos), how can we not have teleology? The idea of teleology is that the end is latent in a prior state because the on-going operation of some intentionality (e.g. a human commitment, or the laws of nature) will bring it to fruition. How can we even speak of an end if this is not so?

    Well in the example of the snow ball, the end of it's motion will be when it reaches the bottom of the hill. But that isn't it's telos. So there are at least some ends that aren't teleological. How do we form a criterion to know which one is teleological and the other one not to be?
  • Dfpolis
    700
    I'm not sure why I would have to accept this. Some deflationist view could just say "to exist" is used in a variety of ways depending on what you mean. For example, numbers "exist" in some sense, idea exist in some ways, middle earth in the LOTR "exists"Marty

    We are speaking of existence in a metaphysical, not an intentional or fictional context. Yes, "existence" can be applied analogically in non-metaphysical contexts to numbers (which have intentional existence) and to Middle Earth (which has fictional existence), but say that these analogical usages mean the same as metaphysical or ontological "existence" is to equivocate.

    Factually, it may very well be that every existent is actually acting, but logically, nothing can act unless it exists, so, it suffices to say that (metaphysical) existence is convertible with the capacity to act.

    However, Kant had already demonstrated causation to be ideal at the point he addressed the idea of existence not being a real predicate.Marty

    Claiming to have demonstrated a thesis, is not the same as actually demonstrating a thesis.

    If indeed existence wasn't a real predicate, then the application of concepts like, "the ability to act" could have applied tMarty

    It is not "the ability to act" in a being that's existence, it's merely existence itself separate from any predication for Kant.Marty

    It is absolutely uninformative to say that existence is "merely existence itself."

    I am not defining "existence," because to define is to limit, and existence is unlimited in se. I am saying what it is convertible with rather than what it is. I am explicating existence by pointing out that it is dynamic, rather than passive. Nor am I saying the capacity to act is a "property" of existence. Properties are not convertible with what
    how can their be a reality at all to experience, unless we have transcendental tools to experience it in the first place?Marty

    they are properties of.

    That is why in order to form knoweldge, we cannot have concepts alone but also use our sensibility in receptivity.Marty

    Concepts are not knowledge because they make no assertions that can be true or false. To know something is to realize that what you are aware of is adequate to reality. Of course, this is exactly what Kant denies (that our awareness is adequate to noumenal reality). So, for Kantians there is no real knowledge.

    So, we can have knowledge as acquaintance (e.g., "Yes, I know that house") because we realize that the subject sensing the object is the object being sensed by the subject. We can predicate properties of substances because we know that the same percept that elicits our concept of the subject elicits our concept of the predicate.

    The question is worked backwards for Kant: how can their be a reality at all to experience, unless we have transcendental tools to experience it in the first place?Marty

    Simple. We are beings able first, to sense, and second, to be aware of what we sense. There is no need for an unparsimonious transcendental superstructure. Reality acts on us, and we are a of a part of its action -- and so informed of how it can and does act.

    You would have to somehow create a theory in which we readily just receive the world without any cognitive tools.Marty

    We have cognitive tools (sensation and awareness), but they add nothing to what is perceived.

    However, Kant has already told us that intuition without concepts are empty, as concepts without intuitions are blind. Such content could never get us any form of justification without the other, and never enter into the logical space of reasons.Marty

    If by intuition, you mean awareness, then yes, every act of cognition has an object which provides the intelligible contents we are aware of and a subject who is aware of that intelligibility. There is no need for the addition of any forms of understanding -- only an intelligible object (the noumenon) and a subject able to actualize that intelligibility.

    The categories of space-time are constitutive of all experiences, as all experiences will include them. In terms of the pure concepts of understanding: quality, quantity, modality and relation are also contained as forms of existence.Marty

    1. Space and time are not fundamental -- extension (parts outside of parts) and change are fundamental. Space is an abstraction based on the fact that reality has parts outside of parts, and time is the measure of change according to before and after.

    Now if noumena had no parts outside of parts we could never have a partial encounter with a noumenon, for all our encounters would be of unextended wholes. There would thus be no ontological basis for our experience of extension. The same is true for time. If there were no real changes, there would be nothing to measure according to before and after -- and no ontological basis for the concept of time.

    Think of it this way. We exist, and so have a noumenal aspect. We can only be the basis (as Kant believes) for the concepts of space and time if we have parts outside of parts and are subject to change. Thus, some noumena have parts outside of parts and are subject to change. In other words, it is untrue that the forms of space and time never have a noumenal basis. But, if they sometimes have a noumenal basis, then there is no need to posit that they are more forms of understanding.

    Thus, Kant's theory is self contradictory.

    2. categories are not constitutive of experience. Categories are conceptual while experience is preconceptual. It is only by reflecting on experience and focusing on this or that note of intelligibility, that we forms concepts which can be used to categorize experience. So, the claim that "The categories of space-time are constitutive of all experiences" involves a category error.

    3. Not all human experience involves space and time. Introvertive mystical experience is devoid of sensory contents that could form the basis for the concepts of space and time -- thus showing the claim to be based on a false premise.

    It's not only that we have no concept of existence, it is that existence isn't a concept!Marty

    This depends on how you define "concept." If you require definable contents, the <existence> is not a concept. If you only require awareness of reality, then we do have a concept of existence.

    For even you yourself changed the prediction of "existence" to mean "the ability to act" — something, in which for Kant, would have been independently applied to existence.Marty

    Showing that Kant does not understand existence. If the capacity to act were a property that can be added to existence, then hypothetically, we could have an instance of existence which cannot act. Such a thing could do nothing, including making itself known to us, and so it would be indistinguishable from nothing. But, what is indistinguishable from nothing is nothing. Thus, the hypothesis that it exists is false, and so there is no existent which cannot act in some way.

    It means what I have now written above.Marty

    You have not written above why we cannot reason to existence.

    If we do have such humility, it would already seem to point out some utter limitations. Thus creating the Noumea.Marty

    Noumena have nothing to do with humility. Obviously, human knowledge is limited and I willingly affirm that there are things humans may never know -- may be incable of knowing. For example, if there are other universes in a multiverse that are dynamically disjoint with our universe, then we have know way of knowing them.

    This is not the case with noumena as the source of phenomena. Any noumenon that acts to make itself appear to us (as a phenomenon) must have the capacity so to act, and we know that it has this capacity. No matter how much hypothetical spaghetti Kant inserts between the knower and the noumenon, we still know that the noumenon can act to effect the phenomena we perceive. Thus, his reasoning, with all of its hypothetical convolutions, is doomed to fail.

    As I take it the only reasonable interpretation of Kant is the dual-aspect interpretation.Marty

    Such an interpretation leaves Kant utterly irrational. Why posit something (noumena) that has no role in forming our thought in a theory whose aim is to explain human thought? It would be as if I went on for pages about Winkies and then said we cannot know them or even the possibility of them, but we must still consider them in discussing human experience.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    I'm not asking the general question. I'm asking the specific one: why teleological explanations at all? I'm not talking about a universal skeptic, just a teleological one. For there could be the possibility of someone inventing a fifth form of causation. One compatible with the others, yet used specifically because the other forms of causation under-determine it's form of explanation. However, the form of causation is used ad-hoc. The person then can't appeal to "I'm just asking questions! Just the facts, please!"Marty

    I think you do have to be very skeptical indeed to deny that some things are done for the sake of other things. Trump shut down the government for the sake of getting funding for his wall, which he did for the sake of maintaining the support of his base, which he did for the sake of protecting himself ...

    So, are you taking the position of an eliminative materialist and denying that there are intentions? if not, I am unsure what point you are making.

    Nor do I understand how any form of explanation does, or even can, undermine the others. I worked at Lockheed in the Spring of 1970 when the L-1011 prototype was being constructed. I saw in detail the mechanics and logistics of its construction. Did, or could, that detailed knowledge of means substitute for a knowledge of the end of constructing a prototype -- which I also saw when I worked in Corporate Planning?

    So, it is not a matter of asking pointless questions, but of seeking different aspects of reality. Ends require means and means effect ends.

    I'm also looking for a reason why future mechanical explanations could not replace teleological predictions.Marty

    Mechanically, there are at least two sound reasons: the impossibility of adequate data acquisition and the intractability of the required calculations. If we assume that the brain is fully determined by physics (which I do not), then you might think that you could predict its outputs from a detailed knowledge of brain state. To do this you would need to know the initial state of every neuron. I show in my book (pp. 11ff) that to acquire the raw data in reasonable time would fry the brain, and to calculate the actual state from the raw data would take many times the age of the universe.

    Ones you have the brain state, you need to make a predictive calculation. We know that the brain is has nonlinear dynamics and so neural models are subject to chaos theory. This means that small errors in input data can lead to wildly divergent outputs. Further, digitization errors, which are inescapable with digital computers, can have the same effect.

    Non-mechanistically, it is statistically certain that human intentions can exert a small, but measurable, control effect on physical processes. So the deterministic premise of the preceding two paragraphs has been falsified. the brain evolved as a control system, and the nature of control systems is to generate large-scale responses from small-scale inputs.

    Why does under-determination stand as an argument at all?Marty

    An argument for what? It is not under-determination that is central, but determination to an end. Take the spider example. Over a wide range of initial states the spider will respond in the same way to a fly in its web. So, the explanatory invariant is not the mechanical initial state, but the end of eating the fly.

    Yes, but then one could just tailor teleological causation to things agents have and not the entire world.Marty

    But isn't the entire would subject to the laws of nature and/or the committed intentions of intelligent beings?

    The further question is whether or not we should apply this to the natural world.Marty

    Yes. This is the main disputed question. But we do see goals in nature. Seeds generate plants of their species and not another. Squid eject ink to escape. Spiders construct webs to catch flies. Animals secrete pheromones to facilitate mating and reproduction. One can deny these facts, but unless one has some dogmatic agenda, there is no rational basis for doing so.

    The counter strategy is not to rebut the existence of goals, but to invent (largely hypothetical) origin stories. Rationally, this is no more than a distraction -- for there is noting in the nature of goals that says they cant have an origin story. If they have such a story, they exist -- and that is the central question with regard to teleology: do there exist means-ends relations in nature. If there are, then teleological reasoning is adequately based.

    How do we form a criterion to know which one is teleological and the other one not to be?Marty

    A good question. Aristotle suggests three signs:
    1. The existence of Means-ends relationships (Physics ii, 8, 199a8ff).
    2. The existence of target states (Physics ii, 8, 199b15-18).
    3. The preparation of means in advance of need (Physics ii, 8, 199a10ff).
  • TheMadFool
    3.1k
    Really? How?Dfpolis

    Teleology = mechanism + purpose (extra weight)
  • Dfpolis
    700
    Teleology = mechanism + purpose (extra weight)TheMadFool

    Teleology does not entail mechanism. Given an end, there are a whole range of means (mechanisms) available. That is one reason free will is possible.
  • TheMadFool
    3.1k
    Teleology does not entail mechanism.Dfpolis

    No but teleology = mechanism + purpose
  • Dfpolis
    700
    No but teleology = mechanism + purposeTheMadFool

    No, it does not. The concept of teleology is that agents act for ends. It does not presuppose any specific mechanisms (say classical or modern physics). So, it does not entail what is required to give a mechanistic explanation.
  • TheMadFool
    3.1k
    No, it does not. The concept of teleology is that agents act for ends. It does not presuppose any specific mechanisms (say classical or modern physics). So, it does not entail what is required to give a mechanistic explanation.Dfpolis

    So, teleology = purpose and nothing else?

    Then why are you putting mechanism and teleology in the blender - trying to mix it so we can't tell the difference?
  • Dfpolis
    700
    Then why are you putting mechanism and teleology in the blender - trying to mix it so we can't tell the difference?TheMadFool

    I do not see that I have. No one else seems confused. Is there some specific thing I said that you think confuses the two?
  • tim wood
    2.2k
    This violates the principle that no signal can travel faster then the speed of light.Dfpolis

    Very small and irrelevant point. In a vacuum. In media light travels slower. Cherenkov radiation is an example of something traveling faster than light in that medium. Mix the media and under the right circumstances, I travel faster than the speed of light!
  • Dfpolis
    700
    Very small and irrelevant point. In a vacuum. In media light travels slower. Cherenkov radiation is an example of something traveling faster than light in that medium. Mix the media and under the right circumstances, I travel faster than the speed of light!tim wood

    Yes. To be precise, the principle is that no signal can travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum. The term "speed of light" means speed of light in a vacuum unless it is qualified in some contrary way.
  • TheMadFool
    3.1k
    I do not see that I have. No one else seems confused. Is there some specific thing I said that you think confuses the two?Dfpolis

    Teleology means things are goals driven. It would amount to saying things like evolution is aiming at self-aware, intelligent beings like humans. On that topic I'd say there would not be one, single goal for evolution because there are multiple goals depending on which organism we're discussing. For example the goal of a pathogen would be to acquire drug resistance and the goal of a fish would be to streamline its body, etc. So, if every living thing has its own goal then isn't the one single purpose, which I think would vindicate your claim, missing?
  • TheMadFool
    3.1k
    One more thing.

    Imagine two worlds of fish and water, A and B. World B has a God but world A doesn't. World A corresponds to only mechanism and world B corresponds to teleology.

    In world A, random mutations in genes colliding with the environment would be able to produce streamlined bodies for fish.

    In world B, God would purposefully make fish bodies streamlined.

    To an observer from outside the two worlds would appear indistinguishable but, in the absence of knowledge about God's existence or non existence, the observer would choose the simpler theory and say mechanism, not teleology.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    So, if every living thing has its own goal then isn't the one single purpose, which I think would vindicate your claim, missing?TheMadFool

    I discuss the evidence for the existence of goals in evolution in my paper. There is no claim that the goal of the cosmos is a single species.
  • TheMadFool
    3.1k
    I discuss the evidence for the existence of goals in evolution in my paper. There is no claim that the goal of the cosmos is a single species.Dfpolis

    That means the universe has no teleology. Shouldn’t it be having one if your theory is true?
  • Christoffer
    486
    Imagine two worlds of fish and water, A and B. World B has a God but world A doesn't. World A corresponds to only mechanism and world B corresponds to teleology.

    In world A, random mutations in genes colliding with the environment would be able to produce streamlined bodies for fish.

    In world B, God would purposefully make fish bodies streamlined.

    To an observer from outside the two worlds would appear indistinguishable but, in the absence of knowledge about God's existence or non existence, the observer would choose the simpler theory and say mechanism, not teleology.
    TheMadFool

    Except you ignore biological evidence for evolutionary changes within cells, DNA and genes. If you only look at the physical form, you would assume mechanism due to Ockham's razor, but the evidence is far deeper than just an observation of form.

    I also have the argument that evolutionary changes are the optimal form to create complex perfection in my counter-argument to intelligent design. Modern engineering is moving over to iteration-based development in which we abandon trying to figure out the optimal design for something in favor of evolutionary processes.

    Have you seen the design for common drones?
    51SIhgH8B2L._SX425_.jpg

    Its form wasn't designed by a human or by a computer, it was designed by evolutionary methods. They couldn't create the optimal form for weight balance, wind turbulence etc. so they programmed the physics of its function and let a computer test them on a form over and over, just like evolution. The end result was the above design, something no one can claim to be a designer of. Because the design was evolutionary, based on the physics of our world.

    If applied to the idea that a God designed things, it actually makes no sense for something to be designed directly for its function. If a God was to design the world, it would be like ourselves trying to design something with an advanced optimal function. Specific design fails, but evolutionary design optimizes itself without a designer. If there was a God, that god would most likely just have "started the universe", the simulation argument. We haven't been specifically created, we would be the result of the evolution of the universe. In that case, our known universe, in which our laws of physics etc. exist, would be its own and the existence of a God is irrelevant to us because we are most likely irrelevant to that god. We are the unintentional bacteria that evolved on the lab sample, oblivious to our existence but also our existence invisible to the scientist.

    The logic here is that the most optimal way of creating something is through the process of evolution, rather than specific design and because of this, it's illogical that a God would specifically design something over letting it evolve itself. If a god is a higher intelligence, it would then not choose the less intelligent choice of creation. If there was a god, it would exist outside of this universe and wouldn't care for the internals of this universe. Therefore the internals of our universe, everything within our realm of physics is its own thing; with its own rules, detached from any type of other realms, dimensions, and gods. We have no reason to view our existence as deliberate or in connection with anything else, we are on our own.
  • TheMadFool
    3.1k
    Good point. An evolving system is better than a static one-off design. But for whom? If "us" it makes complete sense because our knowledge is incomplete. If "God" then he wouldn't be omniscient. Is it that he's just tinkering around with toys?

    Also, to an evolutionary paradigm, teleology is redundant isn't it? I don't know how to say this but imagine a world with certain rules and we're in it. It's to be expected that our form and function would be shaped by the rules in that world. It would ''appear" as though we were designed for that particular world. Yet, there is no purpose or teleology as such. Just an inevitable result of constraints (laws/rules) shaping matter and energy. I guess I'm saying evolution would be indistinguishable from teleology. If so, Ockham's razor would have us accept simple mechanistic evolution over teleology.
  • Christoffer
    486
    If "God" then he wouldn't be omniscient. Is it that he's just tinkering around with toys?TheMadFool

    Can you explain the motivations of a higher being? It's like explaining how dimensions we cannot perceive looks, feels and behaves like, on a perceptive level. I'm a constant skeptic so I would never accept the idea that there is a god even outside our universe, but as we don't know anything of what's outside our universal bubble we cannot know and perhaps its irrelevant to us since everything that is us and this universe probably breaks down and "existence" as a concept might even be wildly inferior to whatever is outside of everything.

    In general, logic still points to there being a physical reaction or change that made the big bang since the mathematical statistics points to dead matter being the majority of our universe and organic matter or thinking creatures/beings to be in so low quantity that it's illogical that its likely there to be an intentional creation and more of a reaction.

    Even then, if we view the outside as a "lab" and "god" as a scientist who conducts an experiment, our universe might be one particle in a test tube that "blink" in and out of existence within a fraction of that god's framework of time. Our existence being of such low relevance that he doesn't even know about there being a chance of us existing at all. This concept is why I reject any notion that God has any link or guidance towards us humans because it's a self-indulgent, narcissistic delusion of grandeur about ourselves and our meaning to the universe. Any logical reasoning about our existence points to the universe being dead cold in caring for us. If the sun explodes we're gone and the universe doesn't care, just like there might have been another planet in the universe which featured life and prospering beauty (per our sense) that was swallowed up by its own sun. If we, humans, believe there to be any god who knows about us and guides us, the most logical conclusion to that, based on all that we know about the universe and also about psychology, is that we are delusional, narcissistic and self-indulgent in our sense of meaning. If there was a god, he logically and statistically wouldn't know about us, at all and he wouldn't care. We are on our own and that is the most optimistic view about the existence of a god that I can rationally give outside of the more logical conclusion of it being a physics-based event without an intentional cause.

    Also, to an evolutionary paradigm, teleology is redundant isn't it? I don't know how to say this but imagine a world with certain rules and we're in it. It's to be expected that our form and function would be shaped by the rules in that world. It would ''appear" as though we were designed for that particular world. Yet, there is no purpose or teleology as such. Just an inevitable result of constraints (laws/rules) shaping matter and energy. I guess I'm saying evolution would be indistinguishable from teleology. If so, Ockham's razor would have us accept simple mechanistic evolution over teleology.TheMadFool

    What final static form does a liquid have that never becomes solid or gas?
    Nothing around us, within us, outside of us have a static form, we are like liquid, always changing and with that physical change, we also have a change in function. Energy moves into new energy until depleted and therefore it has no final form but so dispersed into heat-death that time essentially stops. If that is the final form, it has no function and is nothing.

    Therefore teleology essentially ends up in arguing against itself, the final form has no existential reason or function, it has lost any essential existential meaning by the time it reaches its final form. So the function, existence and meaning only exists in processes of change so there is no finality and when finality happens, there is nothing.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    Imagine two worlds of fish and water, A and B. World B has a God but world A doesn't. World A corresponds to only mechanism and world B corresponds to teleology.TheMadFool

    You are still confused about the nature of teleology.

    First, teleology does not assume the existence of God, though it can be used as evidence for the existence of God. We observe spiders building webs and using them to catch insects, and conclude that spiders build webs to catch insects to eat. We plant grains of wheat and observe that they germinate into wheat plants, not oaks. So, we conclude the the natural end of wheat grains is the propagation of wheat. This reasoning does not assume the existence of God.

    Second, if the mechanisms in a world are deterministic (as those in ours are), they will result in determinate ends, Therefore, you cannot separate mechanism and teleology as you are trying to do. Ends require means and means culminate in ends.

    Third, on-going existence is an adequate factual basis for the proving the existence of God. So, the assumption of a world without God is logically inconsistent.

    In world A, random mutations in genes colliding with the environment would be able to produce streamlined bodies for fish.

    In world B, God would purposefully make fish bodies streamlined.
    TheMadFool

    What do you mean by "random"? If you mean that the mutations are not the result of ontologically random laws, then there would be no determinate laws by which streamlined forms could be selected. Clearly, this was not the kind of "randomness" contemplated by Darwin, who lived in an age of Laplacian determinism and explicitly subscribed to the notion of "designed laws." The other meaning of "random," and the one underlying Darwin's theory, is that genetic mutations are unpredictable. Predictability is related to the limitations of human cognition, so that randomness as unpredictability does not imply a lack of determinism.

    So, there is no conflict between the assumption of deterministic mechanisms and that of determinate, even mentally intended, ends. On the other hand, there is a conflict between the assumption of ontological randomness and that of natural selection.

    To an observer from outside the two worlds would appear indistinguishable but, in the absence of knowledge about God's existence or non existence, the observer would choose the simpler theory and say mechanism, not teleology.TheMadFool

    First, the principle of parsimony only applies when one must choose between hypotheses, which is not the case here. Teleology and mechanism are related as ends and means. Second, the existence of God is not an assumption of teleology. Third, the existence of God is not a hypothesis, but the conclusion of a strict deduction.

    There is no claim that the goal of the cosmos is a single species. — Dfpolis

    That means the universe has no teleology. Shouldn’t it be having one if your theory is true?
    TheMadFool

    The goal of the universe is its to develop holistically as it does. It is not confined to a single species.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    so they programmed the physics of its function and let a computer test them on a form over and over, just like evolution.Christoffer

    This is the well-known generate and test strategy of AI, which I discuss in my paper.

    If there was a God, that god would most likely just have "started the universe", the simulation argument. We haven't been specifically created, we would be the result of the evolution of the universe.Christoffer

    The problem is that physics tells us that there are no random processes except possibly quantum measurement. That means that before the advent of intelligent life, the evolution of the cosmos and its biological species was completely deterministic (as is the design program you cite). The generate and test strategy only works because the range of acceptable designs is implicit in the preprogrammed test criteria. So, there is no question of having ends, there is only a question of how those ends are encoded.

    As for the simulation argument, it has many logical flaws. One of the most glaring is that whether or not the universe will evolve life depends on the precise values of its physical constants. The chance of a simulation having the right combination is minuscule (cf. the physics behind the fine-tuning argument.)

    In that case, our known universe, in which our laws of physics etc. exist, would be its own and the existence of a God is irrelevant to us because we are most likely irrelevant to that god.Christoffer

    This is a faith claim, the truth of which is, at best, unclear.

    it's illogical that a God would specifically design something over letting it evolve itself.Christoffer

    On what assumptions? Please note that I see evolution as an excellent and well-founded scientific theory. My question if why it would be illogical for God to choose other means to effect His ends? This seems like the kind of a priori reasoning that is antithetical to empirical science.

    If there was a god, it would exist outside of this universe and wouldn't care for the internals of this universe.Christoffer

    Sound arguments demonstrating the existence of God do so on the basis of His concurrent, ongoing operation within the universe --on His immanence rather than on His transcendence.

    I'm a constant skeptic so I would never accept the idea that there is a god even outside our universe,Christoffer

    I find this attitude troubling, for it is unscientific. A scientific mindset requires openness to the data of experience -- to what is given -- not being closed to possibilities a priori.

    In general, logic still points to there being a physical reaction or change that made the big bang since the mathematical statistics points to dead matter being the majority of our universe and organic matter or thinking creatures/beings to be in so low quantity that it's illogical that its likely there to be an intentional creation and more of a reaction.Christoffer

    So, the fact that a bulk of a pyramid's substance is not in its capstone is an argument that the capstone is not intentionally placed?

    This concept is why I reject any notion that God has any link or guidance towards us humans because it's a self-indulgent, narcissistic delusion of grandeur about ourselves and our meaning to the universe.Christoffer

    I do not think that seeing God as relevant to human existence requires a grandiose self image. First, data-based arguments show that God continually maintains our existence. Thus, it is merely acknowledging truth to see ourselves as utterly dependent on God. Second, as human self-realization can only occur under laws of nature maintained by God, any successful human ethics must be based on an adequate understanding of that reality. It is not that God makes up arbitrary laws for us to follow, but that God has authored our entire ontology

    Your view would seem to require a God Who cannot but attend to a single species -- so that attending to us would occupy God's entire attention and make us the center of reality. Mine sees God as capable of more than such tunnel vision and concern. In short, you have constructed and rejected a straw man.

    If there was a god, he logically and statistically wouldn't know about us, at all and he wouldn't care.Christoffer

    Again, this only applies to your straw man god, not to the infinite and omniscient God of classical theism. You method seems to be to replace the God whose existence has been proven by Aristotle, Ibn Sina, the Buddhist Logicians and Aquinas with one that virtually no one believes in, but which you can easily reject.
  • Christoffer
    486
    This is the well-known generate and test strategy of AI, which I discuss in my paper.Dfpolis

    Yes, I worked out methods for A.I researchers on this as well, so I'm familiar with the process in A.I research.

    The problem is that physics tells us that there are no random processes except possibly quantum measurement. That means that before the advent of intelligent life, the evolution of the cosmos and its biological species was completely deterministic (as is the design program you cite). The generate and test strategy only works because the range of acceptable designs is implicit in the preprogrammed test criteria. So, there is no question of having ends, there is only a question of how those ends are encoded.

    As for the simulation argument, it has many logical flaws. One of the most glaring is that whether or not the universe will evolve life depends on the precise values of its physical constants. The chance of a simulation having the right combination is minuscule (cf. the physics behind the fine-tuning argument.)
    Dfpolis

    I'm aware of the flaws because I'm not anyone who accepts either simulation or ontological arguments as logical reasoning for their conclusions, only that there is a conclusion we don't know the specifics about. What I was referring to is that if I were to play devil's advocate with the idea of a god, it would in that case, most probably, be one who has no idea of our existence.

    The generate and test strategy is an example of one process being more efficient and the other inferior. However, a set of mass which are flying through the cosmos will at the end of its journey have the form that is most optimal for a journey through cosmos, if not coming across any obstacles. The problem is however if you view things to have an end with a purpose. In the case of the drone design, that design is for the purpose of flying through the air that has the density, humidity, and temperature of a basic range for habitable conditions on earth. As soon as things change, the design needs to be changed.

    In the "devils-advocate" scenario I had, if there was a god with the specific intention of our design, then that would mean evolutionary changes work better to create the optimal human design, not creating us from a pre-set of design, only out of what our function would be. However, because I do not believe in god since there is no evidence for there to be, the problem even with this optimal way of creating humans is that we are still evolving. The argument is then that we might not even be the final form that a god set out to do, but a form still in change. Maybe millions of years from now, our biology has evolved into what the final form is. Either way, we, as we are now, are not the final form and not intended because we are still evolving. This means that even if there was a god aware of us, we would essentially just be the seed this god is waiting to be what that god intended.

    But, the optimal function of a system or object can still reach its optimal form within the system it exists within at the moment. That, however, doesn't mean it has reached its final form. The final form is heat death, meaning, the function and identity of everything is nothing. The final form as a final goal is irrelevant when taking universal entropy into consideration since that would mean that the final form has the purpose of being nothing. The evolving state of an object or system is happening within the system it is existing in, outside of that, it does not exist within the parameters of our universal laws of physics.

    This is a faith claim, the truth of which is, at best, unclear.Dfpolis

    It's a devils-advocate claim, I have no reason to claim it true. It's for the point of my argument. I recommend that you try and understand the conclusion drawn from my entire text instead of deconstructing singular sentences, that is not how the text should be read.

    On what assumptions? Please note that I see evolution as an excellent and well-founded scientific theory. My question if why it would be illogical for God to choose other means to effect His ends? This seems like the kind of a priori reasoning that is antithetical to empirical science.Dfpolis

    I refer to the most logical conclusion of it. If a god has the all-power knowledge to create at an instant, knowing what is the optimal form of anything, that god would have created that form directly and not allow for evolutionary processes both in biology, energy and through other matter in the universe. So the logic is that evolution is what was intended. Then, if our research in engineering come to the conclusion that iteration-based evolutionary processes are superior in order to design a form for a specific purpose than it is to try and figure out an optimal design with our intellect, then how would that not apply to a higher intelligence? If combining the logic between these two, then if the god didn't choose to design everything to its final form directly and iteration-based evolutionary creation is better for creating a final form, then on the scale which a god could have the power to create, we are reasonably more likely to be in such a process, but have not reached our final form. It's the more logical conclusion, if we were to accept there to be a god at all.

    Sound arguments demonstrating the existence of God do so on the basis of His concurrent, ongoing operation within the universe --on His immanence rather than on His transcendence.Dfpolis

    There are no sound arguments for god in the first place. If there were, we would have proven God to exist. What I refer to in my argument is that if there was a god, it would most likely be something else than what people want that god to be. And that god would probably be outside of our universe and have no knowledge of our existence, or is still waiting for our final form. If someone could present a sound argument for the existence of God and that god's "ongoing operation" within our universe, that doesn't fall flat with fallacies and lack of logic in its reasoning, then I welcome it. But people seem to be too biased in their own faith and will only argue within their realm of comfort.

    So far, there are a lot of teapots floating around the sun. A new one every time someone makes a flawed argument about the existence of god.

    find this attitude troubling, for it is unscientific. A scientific mindset requires openness to the data of experience -- to what is given -- not being closed to possibilities a priori.Dfpolis

    Openness is not the same as being skeptical of the answers given or the observations made. To be skeptical is more scientific than any other way of thinking. Just being "open" means you are never critical and if not, you never try and test your own ideas. Most people are open, but just don't care to test their own knowledge. I think you misunderstand what I meant about being skeptical. In relation to the existence of God, I will never accept the existence of a god if we can't prove it. If there's one thing that is unscientific, its to allow things to exist according to fantasies of what we want to exist, just because there aren't clear answers telling us otherwise. This is exactly why there are so many teapots in space.

    So, the fact that a bulk of a pyramid's substance is not in its capstone is an argument that the capstone is not intentionally placed?Dfpolis

    I see no relation with this example since I was talking about the massive scale of the universe compared to our existence. If we were the point of the universe, by a creator, there's a big lack of logic in creating that scale of the universe just to have us in it. Had we existed a few billion years later, then we would not even see stars and galaxies since the expansion would make light sources too far away from each other. Which means that we wouldn't even be able to measure the scale and be isolated in a dark corner of the universe. You compare that scale to the foundation of a pyramid. If you add nearly an infinite scale to that foundation, then it would show just how irrational that shape would be. Intentionally placing a near infinite foundation of the pyramid would make the shape of the pyramid no longer visible as a pyramid and the whole idea of a pyramid with a tip, high point would become absurd. So the example of the intention becomes mathematically absurd. It would more likely be the almost infinite shape of the foundation that was the purpose and the tip an evolutionary result. If the shape was allowed for it. However, the example of the pyramid becomes absurd in relation to what I said.

    I do not think that seeing God as relevant to human existence requires a grandiose self image. First, data-based arguments show that God continually maintains our existence. Thus, it is merely acknowledging truth to see ourselves as utterly dependent on God. Second, as human self-realization can only occur under laws of nature maintained by God, any successful human ethics must be based on an adequate understanding of that reality. It is not that God makes up arbitrary laws for us to follow, but that God has authored our entire ontologyDfpolis

    Historians, anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists all point to how gods, God, religion and so on, formed based upon an inability to explain the world around us at the time we couldn't explain through facts and science. It took us to the 20th century to truly be able to explain the world through the methods we came up with. The concept of a God is a descendant from times when we couldn't explain things in any other way. Because religion created institutions that have been in power in some form or another throughout human history, up until now, it's easy to see how people still try and argue for the existence of God. But it's irrational, illogical, unsupported by evidence and in psychology, it's easy to see how the concept of no purpose or external meaning to our lives frightens us into holding on to a belief that gives us purpose and meaning. But that doesn't mean it's the truth.

    No data-based arguments show anything that prove God in any way. Sloppy logic in all these arguments that does not work when deconstructed. There have never been a working argument in favor of a god, ever. Try and find one that is rock solid in its logic and reasoning. Even the closest to such a logical argument does not conclude with anything related to God at all which just becomes an assumption and conclusion made before the argument, not after it.

    Your view would seem to require a God Who cannot but attend to a single species -- so that attending to us would occupy God's entire attention and make us the center of reality. Mine sees God as capable of more than such tunnel vision and concern. In short, you have constructed and rejected a straw man.Dfpolis

    I argue around God within the concept and ideas that humanity invented about this God. I have argued about what would be the most logical conclusion with that concept, playing a devils-advocate to the idea that a God exists. But you cannot call it strawman when you use your own belief of a God within your argument. Your belief is irrelevant, unfounded, unsupported by evidence, have no rational argument attached to it. To call my breakdown of the concept of God within the realm of science to be a strawman because it doesn't include your personal perception of the concept of God is seriously flawed as an argument.

    Again, this only applies to your straw man god, not to the infinite and omniscient God of classical theism.Dfpolis

    It applies to the most logical conclusion based on what we know in science. The theistic concept of the classical God has changed over and over every time science proved something to be something else than what that religious belief thought at the time. The classical kind of God as a concept fails, over and over, the more we know about humanity, nature and the universe. So my thought experiment here was about the most logical form of a god within our knowledge about the universe, not religious fantasies.

    You method seems to be to replace the God whose existence has been proven by Aristotle, Ibn Sina, the Buddhist Logicians and Aquinas with one that virtually no one believes in, but which you can easily reject.Dfpolis

    What proof? There are no proof of any God or Gods. All those arguments fail in their conclusion or assume the conclusion to be true before the argument is done, or they draw unfounded assumptions out of a conclusion that has no relation to the concept of a god.

    Philosophers before we established scientific methods, worked within the belief of those times and within the history of science, there was a lot of progress shut down by the church if they couldn't apply the science onto the religious concepts at that time.

    I can easily reject any concepts of god through a proper philosophical deconstruction of those arguments. Which has been done by many philosophers throughout history. But it's convenient to ignore them in order to support your already established beliefs, right? Isn't that a biased point of view?

    Only religious apologists with a cognitive bias to their beliefs, accept illogical and irrational arguments filled with fallacies. I can accept that old philosophers had trouble with their biased conclusions, but that's because we didn't have the methods to falsify and cross-check our findings or proper dialectic methods with logic and rationality. No philosopher today would accept flaws in logic when reasoning, so no philosopher today can accept arguments for god which features flawed conclusions or assumptions that lack links to that conclusion.

    If you have a rock solid argument for the existence of God, go ahead and present it.
  • aporiap
    151
    Dfpolis, thanks for this OP. I still owe you a response in the other thread, I will get to it soon.

    I have qualms with the idea of teleology being intrinsic to objects [this is a sub issue I suppose not directly relevant to OP though it could be construed as relevant since you are using it in the aristotelian sense of final cause. And aristotle makes final cause intrinsic to objects; either way I don't have issue in principle for teleological explanations, if they are qualified by context]. For the simple reason that it just seems short sighted to ascribe one specific goal [or even a set of goals] to a physical object or biological entity [it's something like functional fixedness]. Say there's a blanket... sure it was made for a particular purpose - to keep a person warm if it's cold. But in the summer when you're on a picnic that thing is just as well a mat for food.. or if you've gotten dirt on your toe, it can be used to clean the dirt off, or if their's an armed robber in your hose, to hide your belongings or you.

    Secondly, different objects can perform the same function -- sure there exists a particular receptor for chemical A but there's also this other receptor B [who tends to bind chemical B] but which can also bind chemical A. When you take out that receptor A, receptor B can stand in for A enough to rescue the deficiency. You can use a heater instead of a blanket to keep you warm. Or a sweater.

    The point is the goals seem separable from objects [1] and objects seem separable from specific goals [2] which I think points to a relational dependency of goals. It's not the object that intrinsically has an end or goal, its the context with the object and their relationships that makes the object repeatedly reach a particular end.

    I think I'd be fine with the idea of ends if they're restricted to a given contextual relationship [given the context: the setting of cold weather, the man who is cold, the blanket in the room -- the blanket will reach end of keeping man warm].
  • TheMadFool
    3.1k
    How does teleology without God work? Are you saying there's purpose but no origin of this purpose? I would say if there's design (teleology) then you would be assuming or proving a designer. Can you explain a bit more. Sorry for the trouble.

    I also think you're conflating coincidence with teleology. Let me refer to the example of the spider web you gave in the last post. To say that spiders build webs to catch insects would be question begging - you're already assuming telos in that statement.

    I think a more unbiased observation would be that insects get caught in the spider web. Then on we may look into various explanations for this situation like ''is it teleology or not?''

    One explanation for spider webs and their ability to catch insects is simple coincidence. It is a trait or characteristic that matched well with a food source. So, while other spiders became extinct, web weavers survived and that's what you see. I sympathize with you though because it's very easy to make this mistake. Even I had a difficult time understanding it. Coincidences can be meaningful (Jungian synchronicity).
  • sime
    307
    Consider the sentence "Animals eat in order to survive". How is this different from saying "survival tends to follow eating"?

    In a given situation, to predict a person's motives is to predict their behaviour. And to predict their behaviour involves interpolating memories of that person and the world in general. Teleology should therefore be considered true, or at least meaningless.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    What I was referring to is that if I were to play devil's advocate with the idea of a god, it would in that case, most probably, be one who has no idea of our existence.Christoffer

    As the unmoved mover, uncaused cause, ultimate meta-law, etc., philosophically, God is the-end-of-the-line of explanation. To be the-end-of-the-line, God needs to be self-explaining. As things are explanations in virtue of what they are (their essences), what God is must entail that God is. Essences are the specification of what a thing can do, of its possible acts, while existence is the unspecified ability to act. So, God's essence can only entail His existence if the specification of His possible acts (His essence) places no limit on His possible acts. Thus, God, as the-end-of-the-line of explanation, must have an unlimited ability to act. If God were ignorant of some reality He could not execute well-informed acts on that reality. So, for God to do any possible act, He must know all reality -- including us.

    I do not believe in god since there is no evidence for there to beChristoffer

    That is a very peculiar claim, given that we can only know that there is no evidence for x is to know that there is no x. Before we understood finger prints and DNA, a crime scene might be rife with evidence identifying the culprit, but investigators were unaware of it. Evidence is only evidence for those able to recognize and use it. So, if you know of no evidence for x, and do not know, independently, that there is no x, the most you can only claim rationally, "I see no reason for believing in x." Thus, using the non-recognition of evidence to categorical deny x is an argumentum in cirulares.

    In the present case, the continuing existence of any and all reality is definitive evidence for the existence of God for those able to see its implications. What is here and now cannot actualize its potential existence at another space-time point, because it is here, not there. Thus, on-going existence requires a concurrent, on-going source of actualization for its explanation. This source is either explained by another or is self-explaining -- the end of the line of explanation. If it is explained by another, then, to avoid an infinite regress, we must have a self-explaining end of the line. This has been explicitly known for two and a half millennia -- since Aristotle formulated the unmoved mover argument in his Metaphysics.

    But, the optimal function of a system or object can still reach its optimal form within the system it exists within at the moment. That, however, doesn't mean it has reached its final form.Christoffer

    The concept of a telos (end) is that of the reason a process is undertaken. This could be a final state, or it could be for someting that occurs before the final state, with the final state occurring only incidentally. Thus, spiders spin webs to catch prey, not to have the broken by random events.

    As we do not have a workable quantum theory of gravity, it is premature to say, definitively, what the final physical state of the cosmos will be; however, if present indications are right, physically, the cosmos will end in a state of heat death. Still, knowing creation's final physical state says nothing of what will become of its intentional aspects. I have shown in another thread that physics has nothing to say about intentionality.

    we, as we are now, are not the final form and not intended because we are still evolving.Christoffer

    This makes the assumption that intermediate states are unintended. Do you have an argument for this?

    It seems clear to me, from reflecting on the art of story telling, that as much thought and intentionality can be put into the early and intermediate chapters and acts as into the climax. In fact, when I write, I am more interested in the psychology and dynamics that set the characters on a track than I am in where that track leads them. As a result, I have many unfinished stories.

    An even more telling example is the work of a machine designer. She may well know that, eventually, her machine will on the scrap heap, but that is not her purpose in designing it. Her purpose revolves around what the machine can do between its production and its decommissioning.

    Thus, there is no reason to think the purpose (telos) of the cosmos is its physical heat death.

    But, the optimal function of a system or object can still reach its optimal form within the system it exists within at the momentChristoffer

    Yes, this is the point of the Punctuated Equilibrium view of evolution.

    I recommend that you try and understand the conclusion drawn from my entire text instead of deconstructing singular sentences, that is not how the text should be read.Christoffer

    I agree, texts should be read as a whole. Still, the reasoning behind a holistic movement of thought is found in individual sentences. So, we need to examine its parts.

    If a god has the all-power knowledge to create at an instant, knowing what is the optimal form of anything, that god would have created that form directly and not allow for evolutionary processes both in biology,Christoffer

    I think that this assumes something you are the verge of rejecting -- namely, the existence of an optimal state. The generate and test strategy finds solutions that satisfy multiple criteria programmed into its tests. This is what H. A. Simmons calls "satisficing," and is generally how humans decide given our bounded rationality. We have a number of independent, incommensurate requirements to satisfy in finding a course of action. There is no guarantee that multiple criteria can be traded-offs -- or even that they are commensurate. How much vitamin C is a liter of oxygen worth? This is a meaningless question because vitamin C cannot do what oxygen does. If we are unable to make such trade-offs. we cannot define an optimal solution.

    (This is the problem with all forms of utilitarianism -- the assumption that there exists a well-defined utility function that can be optimized.)

    So, in order to make sense of this claim, there must exist an single optimum. What, precisely, is being optimized? And, how are the required trade-offs done?

    There are no sound arguments for god in the first place.Christoffer

    How did you reach this conclusion?

    I conclude that there are sound proofs by working though their data and logic, answering all the objections I read as well as my own.

    But people seem to be too biased in their own faith and will only argue within their realm of comfort.Christoffer

    This is an ad hominem. You have presented no rational objection to any specific proof, let alone a methodological argument that would rule out any possible proof. You have only made the faith claim that there is no evidence for the existence of God.

    Openness is not the same as being skeptical of the answers given or the observations made. To be skeptical is more scientific than any other way of thinking. Just being "open" means you are never critical and if not, you never try and test your own ideas.Christoffer

    To be skeptical is to require adequate reasons for believing a proposition true. To be open is to require adequate reasons for believing a proposition false. So, to any fair minded person, they are one and the same mental habit -- what is called a scientific mindset. Such a mindset requires us to reject a priori commitments such as your faith claim that there is no God.

    In relation to the existence of God, I will never accept the existence of a god if we can't prove it.Christoffer

    It has been proven for two and a half millennia. What rational objection do you have to Aristotle's unmoved mover argument? What objection do you have for the meta-law argument in my evolution paper?

    So, the fact that a bulk of a pyramid's substance is not in its capstone is an argument that the capstone is not intentionally placed? — Dfpolis

    I see no relation with this example since I was talking about the massive scale of the universe compared to our existence.
    Christoffer

    The analogy is:
    Mass of humans : Mass of supporting cosmos :: Mass of capstone : Mass of the supporting pyramid.

    If we were the point of the universe, by a creator, there's a big lack of logic in creating that scale of the universe just to have us in it.Christoffer

    There are two errors here: (1) there is no claim that we are the sole point of creation and (2) there is no reason to think that God needs to skimp on existence to effect His ends.

    Many see the elegance of a few simple laws causing a singularity to blossom into the complex beauty of the cosmos.

    You compare that scale to the foundation of a pyramid. If you add nearly an infinite scale to that foundation, then it would show just how irrational that shape would be.Christoffer

    You miss the point: mass ratios are not an argument against intentionality.

    Historians, anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists all point to how gods, God, religion and so on, formed based upon an inability to explain the world around us at the time we couldn't explain through facts and science.Christoffer

    There is no doubt that this is a reason some people believe in gods. There is no evidence that it is either the sole or the main reason. The prophet Jeremiah believed in fixed laws of nature as well as a God relating to humans. Aristotle based his philosophy on empirical observation, but saw the logical necessity of an unmoved mover or self-thinking thought. Cherry picking explanations, instead of acknowledging the complexity of human thought, is an indication of bias.

    It took us to the 20th century to truly be able to explain the world through the methods we came up with.Christoffer

    Really? What is so unique about the 20th century? Was not the recognition of fixed laws by Jeremiah, the foundation of mathematical physics by Aristotle, the discovery of inertia and instantaneous velocity by the medieval physicists, the astronomical work of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and Laplace, and Darwin's theory real contributions to our understanding of nature? Or are you claiming that we now have a final understanding of physics? How can we when we have no theory of quantum gravity and do not understand ~95% of the mass of the cosmos?

    it's easy to see how people still try and argue for the existence of God. But it's irrational, illogical, unsupported by evidence and in psychology, it's easy to see how the concept of no purpose or external meaning to our lives frightens us into holding on to a belief that gives us purpose and meaning. But that doesn't mean it's the truth.Christoffer

    So, you think matters of fact should be decided by examining the motives leading people to study a subject? While you claim that "the existence of God ... [is] irrational, illogical, unsupported by evidence," you have offered no rational argument, logical objection or shred of evidence to support your faith claim.

    No data-based arguments show anything that prove God in any way. Sloppy logic in all these arguments that does not work when deconstructed.Christoffer

    I'm still waiting for an actual logical objection. Where and what is yours? I have suggested two simple arguments for you to "deconstruct" -- Aristotle's unmoved mover, and the argument in my evolution paper. Have at it and forget the ad hominem hand waving you seem to find comforting.

    In the next bit you falsely accuse me of giving no logical argument for the existence of God. I give one in my evolution paper, and add another in my book. I have also referred you to a number of arguments by other thinkers.

    To call my breakdown of the concept of God within the realm of science to be a strawman because it doesn't include your personal perception of the concept of God is seriously flawed as an argument.Christoffer

    You are confused. I called the concept of God you reject a straw man because it is not that of classical theism, but your personal construct -- which I reject as well. A straw man argument occurs when one ignores the actual opposing position and substitutes one more easily attacked. That is what you have done.

    The theistic concept of the classical God has changed over and over every time science proved something to be something else than what that religious belief thought at the time.Christoffer

    Really? Have you any documented examples of this? You seem operate in a Trumpian faerie land in which facts don't matter or are manufactured on whim. When I studied natural theology, God had the same attributes Aquinas demonstrated in his Summa Theologiae. How has the understanding of God as given by Aquinas changed over time?

    Philosophers before we established scientific methods, worked within the belief of those times and within the history of science, there was a lot of progress shut down by the church if they couldn't apply the science onto the religious concepts at that time.Christoffer

    Here is another example of manufactured facts. The scientific method, including the need for controlled experiments, was fully and explicitly outlined and applied by Robert Grosseteste (1175-1253), Oxford professor, teacher of Roger Bacon, and later bishop of Lincoln, in his works on optics (c 1220-35). He emphasized that we needed to compare theory with experiment. So, Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) did his work long after the scientific method was established.

    In his The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, James Hannam makes clear that that the Church not only tolerated but promoted science -- seeing God as revealing Himself not only in Scripture, but in the Book of Nature. Thus, by better understanding nature, we better understand God.

    I can easily reject any concepts of god through a proper philosophical deconstruction of those arguments. Which has been done by many philosophers throughout history. But it's convenient to ignore them in order to support your already established beliefs, right? Isn't that a biased point of view?Christoffer

    My, my. The ad hominems continue. In my evolution paper I cite well over 50 authors, many of whom are atheists -- some quite militant. The bibliography of my book is 24 pages of 10 pt. type and contains works by many who strongly disagree with me. You would be more credible if you verified your facts before attacking my character and methods.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    Dfpolis, thanks for this OPaporiap

    You are welcome.

    For the simple reason that it just seems short sighted to ascribe one specific goal [or even a set of goals] to a physical object or biological entity [it's something like functional fixedness].aporiap

    I don't think that the idea that agents act for ends requires that they only act for one end.

    Also, I think part being a free agent is our ability to confer new value by re-purposing objects and capabilities. It is part of what Aquinas calls our participation in Divine Providence by reason. That is why I object to a narrow natural law ethics that does not allow for the legitimate creation of new ends.

    Secondly, different objects can perform the same functionaporiap

    Of course. That is one reason free will is possible. There are multiple paths to human self-realization.

    It's not the object that intrinsically has an end or goal, its the context with the object and their relationships that makes the object repeatedly reach a particular end.aporiap

    This has to do with physical determinism vs. intentional freedom. If no free agent is involved, physical systems have only a single immanent line of action and so act deterministically. If there are agents able to conceive alternative lines of action, then multiple lines of action are immanent in the agents, and so we need not have deterministic time development.

    I think I'd be fine with the idea of ends if they're restricted to a given contextual relationship [given the context: the setting of cold weather, the man who is cold, the blanket in the room -- the blanket will reach end of keeping man warm].aporiap

    Are you thinking that the existence of ends entails determinism? I don't.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    How does teleology without God work?TheMadFool

    There is a difference between the epistemological and ontological orders. We need make no assumption that God exists in order to understand that agents act for ends. On the other hand, as Aquinas argues in his Fifth Way, the fact that mindless agents act for ends is evidence for the existence of a guiding mind.

    So, epistemologically, it is quite possible to conclude that agents act for ends without assuming God, but ontologically, mindless agents cannot act for ends without the existence of a guiding mind. So, you don't need to assume that God exists, but you can, but may not actually, conclude that God exists.

    I also think you're conflating coincidence with teleology. Let me refer to the example of the spider web you gave in the last post. To say that spiders build webs to catch insects would be question begging - you're already assuming telos in that statement.TheMadFool

    No, there is an observable invariant connection, not a variable coincidence. When spiders weave webs, they don't then go away and do something else. The stay near by, usually in contact with the web, and respond to entangled insects by treating them as prey. If they have no webs, the web weaving species will die of starvation. Aristotle points out that one sign of teleological action is the preparation of means in advance of ends. Here the weaving of webs, the means of catching insects, is done in advance.

    Of course, we understand the end of webs by analogy with our own experience of human ends. We see how we prepare means in order to accomplish ends, and understand that spiders are doing the same kind of thing. Those who reject teleology will say that this is anthropomorphic thinking, but why should that be objectionable? We and spiders are equally natural, so why should we not act in analogous ways? It would be anthropomorphic in a bad way if we concluded that spiders think in that same way as we do, but that is not our conclusion. To have an analogy is to have a situation that is partly the same and partly different. Here what is the same is acting for ends, and what is different is the mental wherewithal of the agents.

    One explanation for spider webs and their ability to catch insects is simple coincidence.TheMadFool

    I think you are confusing how a means-end relation comes to be with the actual existence of the relation. It is not a coincidence that, however it came to pass, right now the building of webs is for the sake of catching insects.

    Maybe some early spiders developed a mutation that caused them to secret a sticky substance and some insects were slowed by it long enough to be eaten. That might be seen as a "coincidence," but it is not. It is completely deterministic that the laws of nature, acting on the initial state of the cosmos, caused that mutation and give it survival value.
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