## A fun puzzle for the forums: The probability of God

• 449
Back when I was an undergrad, I wrote what I consider my first real philosophy paper, "The Probability of God". That paper is lost to time, but the ideas are the same. I ultimately determined its conclusion was wrong, but no one else was able to at that time. Can you figure out my flaw? Can you figure out another flaw I didn't think of?

1. Either all things have a prior cause for their existence, or there is at least one first cause of existence from which all others follow.

2. We can represent this as answering the question, "Why did X happen?" A prior cause is Y. A first cause is simply X.

3. This leads us to 3 plausibilities.

a. There is always a Y for every X. (infinite prior cause).
b. Y eventually wraps back to an X (infinite looped prior cause)
c. There comes a time when there is only X, and nothing prior to Y (first cause)

4. The logic of a first cause entails that there is no rule on how that first cause has to exist. In other words, you cannot claim "Its not possible for X to exist." To say there existed such a rule would entail "X exists because of Y". But there is no Y when X is a first cause. This can mean a first cause could be anything without limitation. X as a prime cause does not follow any rules besides the fact of its own existence.

5. The two infinite loop options cannot answer the questions with another cause, "Why is is all of causality infinite? What caused it to be this way, instead of finite?" If we say, "Well X happened because of Y", then we're right back where we started. The only answer that can be given is, "It simply is". X is X, because X exists, and nothing prior. In other words, even if there is an infinitely looped chain of causation within the universe, the reason why it is infinitely looped in its causation, is a first cause. Its like that, because it simply exists that way.

6. Therefore the only conclusion is that there is a "First Cause" to our universe. This means that there is no rule or reason why the universe exists, besides the fact that it does. That being the case, wouldn't it be fun to examine the potential of what a first cause would entail, and see what the probability of a God being that first cause, versus a universe without a God being a first cause?

7. We already know that a God forming as a first cause is possible, because with a first cause, there are no rules. Of course, since we do not know what that first cause is, this also means that a universe could have formed without a God just as easily. In either case, it simply is. At first glance, this might mean that it is equally likely that a universe could have formed on its own, or a God could have formed, and created an identical universe. Lets identify what a specific universe and a God are to make sure.

8. What is a specific universe? It is a universe down to its exact positioning of the smallest molecule. Any deviation in particulates makes it a different universe. For our purposes, let us imagine that the prime cause in our universe is the big bang. We aren't trying to state it is the actual prime cause, we're just using this as an easily understood baseline. So, the big bang happens because it simply does, and our universe as it has happened throughout time is one universe. Any deviation from what happens after the big bang is an alternative universe. For example, a universe in which your dominate hand is the opposite of what it is now.

9. So what is a God? A God would be a being that has the power and knowledge to create a specific universe. Imagine a basic living being like an ant. An ant has the power to lift objects, move them around, and craft tunnels. It is nothing like a human however which has the ability to make far more complex predictions, tools, and manipulate reality.

10. We can simplify this power to think and manipulate environments as a number. An ant has a 4 for example, while a human would have a 400. Among humans there are humans who can envision more complex things, and create them faster and easier than others. We can envision that some humans could be at 399, while others at 401 in their ability to craft and create.

11. When anything is possible, it is possible that a being could be a prime cause that has the power and knowledge to create a specific universe. This being we would call a God. For a baseline, let us say that the power and ability required to create our universe would be 42,000,000. A God would be a prime cause that meets this minimum capability, creates the big bang, and our universe occurs exactly as in the one situation in which the big bang was the prime cause. But couldn’t a being with a greater capability also have formed as a prime cause and created our identical universe? There is no reason it could not. A God rated at 42,000,001 could have been the prime cause. This God is just slightly more capable then the baseline, and they decide to create our universe in its identical form.

13. If we take this to its conclusion, there is nothing to stop a God of greater power being the first cause that creates our universe exactly as it is from its inception. 43 million. 43 billion. An infinite number of beings with the power and capability to create a universe far more complex than our own, and yet they decide to create our specific universe.

14. This leads to an interesting conclusion. It would seem that for every one distinct possible universe that could form without a God, there are an infinite number of possible Gods that could have formed as the primary cause, and created that exact universe!

15. Note that this does not mean we can know anything about this particular God. It may be good or evil, still alive, or ceased to be. There may be one God, or more than one God. Further, if this God or any God still continues to interact with the universe after its inception, it would be indistinguishable from a universe which has no God, but has things in it that make it appear that a God is still involved.

16. But, if we are to gamble and wonder whether our universe formed without a God as a primary cause, versus a God as a primary cause, it is infinite to 1 that our universe was formed by a God instead of simply forming on its own.

Alright, the challenge is on! Where is the flaw I finally found? Can you introduce a flaw I missed?

Edit: After a fantastic discusion with 3017Amen, I reveal the flaw on page 3 of the posts! I still encourage you to think on it on your own first, and see if you can figure it out yourself. I will be keeping an eye on this for a while, and will respond to further questions and guesses.
• 5.7k
It's an extended hypothetical that assumes its antecedents thus begging its own conclusion. And nothing wrong with that for so long as it stays an exercise in hypothetical logic. But is it real? Is it true? A test of mine is to substitute in arguments like these for "god," "flying magic purple hippopotami," or anything else absurd, the more absurd the better. And the real absurdity is that if the argument holds for the absurd, it holds for anything, including nothing.

And the underlying flaw is assuming knowledge where there is a lack of it, and trying to parse that in language. But if you make pies out of mud, then all you have are mudpies.

The logic breaks. Predicated is that all beings must have causes (all undefined, which is to say, none understood - and, pace Leibniz). Then, to account, an uncaused being, the reason "because it just is" being as good as any and more straightforward than most.

It's all a could that can't. One might ask, if all beings have causes, what the being of a being that is uncaused would be. It certainly cannot be being.
• 449
I always enjoy your comments tim wood. Where does the logic break exactly though?

I predicated that there are only two options. Either everything has a cause, or there is a certain point in the causal chain in which there is no prior cause. This is a first cause, and it has no reason for its being besides the fact that it is.

Yet I show that this choice is actually false. That it is necessary and inevitable that even in the idea that there exists an infinite chain of causes, why it is the case this is, cannot be explained by anything else than, "That's the way it is".

I may not be clear enough on this point, which is on me. Lets look at it this way.

Let us say we conclude that there is actually an infinite causal chain of explanations for why anything exists.

Lets call this realization set(infiniteRegress). There is still one question which is not answered.
Why is it that existence has an infinite regress of causality?

We can't say, set(InfiniteR) exists because of Y, which then exists because of Z, which then...

Because it leads back to the samepoint. Set(infintiteRegress2) (which honestly is the same as 1).

And again the question of, "Well why is THAT set of answers an infinite regress of causality over a finite regress of causality?" appears. You can always go outside of that and ask the question. You can take the entire metanarrative of it, and that question remains. The only answer at the end is, "Because it is". The fact of realizing there is an infinite regressive causality (if true) is realizing that its existence has no explanation, besides the fact that it is.

This means that all causality inevitably leads into a first cause. This cause has no prior explanation or rule for why it is, it simply is. And I'm not talking hypothetically, I'm talking logically. It is impossible by how we understand causation for there to exist a cause, that does not eventually up its chain of causation, have a first cause.

Second, its perfectly possible that a God as defined above is a flying magic purple hippopatami. That doesn't counter the logic or the conclusion. The logic embraces it. I note this in point 15.

One might ask, if all beings have causes, what the being of a being that is uncaused would be.

But I did not state that all beings have causes. All I stated was that since it is true that there must be at least one first cause in the causal chain of existence, and it is necessary that the first cause could be anything, what is the probability that it is a God as I defined it above, or not a God?
• 5.7k
Where does the logic break exactly though?

I didn't get it? Hmm - damn. I concede you're ahead of me and I'm not following exactly. I say it breaks with amphiboly, side-slip in the meaning of words, the motor of the argument having a blown clutch. That, and unsupported premises. In 11. and 15. there's the "reification" of conceivable gods into possible gods.

And the first sentence of 7. Likely I'm missing the tree for the forest, or other way 'round. I'll watch closely for the answer.
• 449

Not a worry tim wood, its a new argument A lot of times people want to apply their knowledge of old arguments in this, and miss what I'm trying to say. I presented this to several fellow grad students back in the day, and it took a while before they understood what the argument was trying to say. They weren't slouches, so feel free to ask questions and follow ups.

Its meant to be a fun thinking exercise and awaken that wonder of philosophical exploration again! There are no stupid questions or attacks on it, so feel free to throw anything out there. I also will not be offended, take anything personally, or think anything less of anyone. I just want a good, fun discussion from people who like philosophy. =)
• 22

Well right off the bat the first statement you made is an assumption (a popular one ) but an assumption non the less and I'm sorry but a big bang/ 1st cause is a pathetic desperate attempt and not loosing funding and being fired for failing at finding an answer to the beginning of the Cosmos. In other words I'm calling the Big Bang Theory a half-assed concept that was pulled out of the ass of a scientist that was afraid they're going to lose funding and have to go find a different jobs so he cold that fallacious concept out of a place where the sun doesn't shine and presented it and just the right amount of fluff so that people with money would accept it and give the scientists more money.

Yes it was a harsh and very simplistic exclamation butt I want you to read it with a sarcastic undertone of Jim Carrey
• 899
Can you introduce a flaw I missed?

Before diving in to the details of your argument, I would ask this. Can you prove that the rules of human reason are binding upon all of reality? So far, quick first take, my impression is that you just assume this to be true. Welcome a correction if that's not the case.
• 449

Hi Hippyhead. So in discussions like these, we assume the norm. If you can show that the norm is wrong in this instance, then feel free. But it kind of like someone saying, "Lets discuss metaphysics" with another replying, "But can you prove you're not an alien first?!" =)

So how to examine this argument? There are premises and definitions I put forward. Assume norms like the fact English is a viable language to discuss this in. Then, run with the logic.

If you cannot find a flaw within the premises and definitions, then take the logic that I put forward to its conclusion. I'll post some hints if you're in the ballpark.

To Mayael, I'm not sure if you were repyling to myself or tim wood. I don't think tim was addressing the big bang, so I'm assuming its me. The big bang is only an example of a first cause that does not entail a God. It does not mean that the big bang IS the first cause. For all we know, its something else. I'm using familiar ideas so that way the argument isn't just an abstract equation, but has something more concrete to relate to as well.
• 1.1k
I ultimately determined its conclusion was wrong, but no one else was able to at that time. Can you figure out my flaw?
I have no formal training in analytical philosophy, so I'm not qualified to detect flaws, such as unwarranted assumptions, in your argument. So, I'll just note that argumentation in words has the inherent weakness of subjective interpretation of intended meanings.

Perhaps, with that deficiency in mind, scientist & humorist Steven Unwin has written a book that takes Pascal's statistical Wager as a challenge. In The Probability of God, he uses the "universal unambiguous language of science" (i.e. mathematics) to calculate the likelihood of the existence of a traditional universal God, based not on theological Faith, but on logical Math. Unfortunately, even statistical analysis is slightly subject to implicit bias, unless the answer is confirmed by other objective calculators. Unwin's computation found a 67% positive probability. Was your "conclusion" 100% wrong, or some fraction thereof? :joke:

The Probability of God : https://www.theguardian.com/education/2004/mar/08/highereducation.uk1
• 449

Thanks for that link! I never know about that. I would definitely say his own bias affects that equation. It notes that he started with a 50/50, and used things like the existence of goodness as positive for a God. That doesn't fly in this argument. There is nothing to state that such a God in my argument would be good, evil, flying spaghetti monster, or even still alive today.

And no worry, you don't need any analytical training in philosophy or knowledge of any specific author. Just take the definitions, take the arguments, and see if the conclusion is correct using the premises of the argument and logic. No fancy word play needed here!

I'm reluctant to tell you where to look specifically, because I may have missed a flaw and would like it pointed out. Also, the exercise should be fun to think through. I've always enjoyed constructing the argument in my head, seeing the puzzle, and determining if the argument works. Once someone starts like saying, "Well on point 5, you can't conclude this because..." then I'll be giving hints.

Of course, it may be that people aren't that interested in reading it and thinking through it. I'll leave it up for at least a week to give people a chance though.
• 899
If you can show that the norm is wrong in this instance, then feel free.

Hi there Philosophim, thanks for engaging.

Say I make claims X,Y and Z by referencing the Bible as the relevant authority. In that case it would be my burden to demonstrate that the Bible is in fact a qualified authority on the subjects of X,Y and Z.

Point being, it's not my burden to prove that the methodology you've chosen is qualified for the task to which you've applied it. It's your burden.

If you wish just to play a logic game while admitting it has no proven relevance to reality, ok, no problem.

All that said, I would agree it's entirely normal, almost universal, for folks to just assume without questioning that human reason is qualified to address any topic, no matter how large. Normal, but not very good philosophy. Imho, if your professors didn't already present you with this challenge (so far it sounds like you've not heard it before), then you should request a refund.
• 2.6k
Can you figure out my flaw? Can you figure out another flaw I didn't think of?

Very nice! I'm subscribed!

My gut reaction relates to logical possibility and logical necessity. When I get more time I'll be happy to add some thoughts... .
• 449
Hi there Philosophim, thanks for engaging.

Say I make claims X,Y and Z by referencing the Bible as the relevant authority. In that case it would be my burden to demonstrate that the Bible is in fact a qualified authority on the subjects of X,Y and Z.

Point being, it's not my burden to prove that the methodology you've chosen is qualified for the task to which you've applied it. It's your burden.

If you wish just to play a logic game while admitting it has no proven relevance to reality, ok, no problem.

All that said, I would agree it's entirely normal, almost universal, for folks to just assume without questioning that human reason is qualified to address any topic, no matter how large. Normal, but not very good philosophy. Imho, if your professors didn't already present you with this challenge (so far it sounds like you've not heard it before), then you should request a refund.

I think you are letting your bias against religion cloud your ability to partake in some fun. Or is it you're worried you won't be able to figure out the flaw? If you wish to say, "Well you have to prove with human reason, why we should use human reason," before a topic can be addressed, why think on anything then? Now I COULD dive into a few pages on this topic, but that's not the point of the original post is it? You don't go to other topics and tell them, "You haven't proven logic first, so its pointless!"

Sorry, but I'm going to have the completely unreasonable demand that we will assume human logic is a safe starting point. To participate in even talking about tying your shoes, you need this. Within human logic, where is the flaw in the original post? You can point out where I am being illogical within human reason, but you cannot reason as a human, that using human reason is illogical.
• 899
I think you are letting your bias against religion

FYI, I have no bias against religion in general. Really, I don't. You'll see this as we proceed.

Or is it you're worried you won't be able to figure out the flaw?

No, I'm not, because I've already done that. :-)

You don't go to other topics and tell them, "You haven't proven logic first, so its pointless!"

Actually, I do that all the time. :-) And professional philosophers commenting on religion dodge the challenge all the time, just as you are doing. Very normal.

Within human logic, where is the flaw in the original post?

The post assumes the rules of human reason are binding upon the subject of gods, without questioning such a huge assumption in any way at all, or offering evidence of any kind to support that assumption. This my friend, is human logic at work.

You appear to want me to accept that premise as a matter of faith, just as you are doing, and then confine myself within that illusion. I don't object to the request, I just decline to be a person of faith.
• 899
Perhaps this will help. There are clearly many things where human logic has proven it's qualifications, too many to begin to list. However, it doesn't automatically follow that human reason is relevant to and qualified for EVERY investigation, no matter how large, or how far from human scale etc.

Human beings are immeasurably small. The god idea addresses the very largest questions about the most fundamental nature of everything everywhere.

You're making a VERY COMMON unwarranted leap from...

Logic is good for many things.

TO:

Logic is good for everything.
• 449
You're making a VERY COMMON unwarranted leap from...

Logic is good for many things.

TO:

Logic is good for everything.

Ok, this is better. First, I never claimed logic is good for everything. I claimed logic is good for the argument I posted. Can you explain to me why logic is not good for the argument posted? If you aren't addressing the argument in terms of the topic, then we're off topic. We can agree on that right?

The post assumes the rules of human reason are binding upon the subject of gods, without questioning such a huge assumption in any way at all, or offering evidence of any kind to support that assumption.

Really? Where did I assume that? Can you point out in my post where I did that? I'm pretty sure I did not. Kindly point it out to me.
• 1.1k
"The Probability of God". . . . . Can you figure out my flaw?
No. But I have gone through my own reasoning process regarding the probable existence of a Creator God. It was in the form of a layman's non-academic non-mathematical thesis statement, and was based on a variety of modern scientific "facts".
Statistical probabilities may apply only within the mathematical system we observe in our local universe. But, we tend to assume that mathematics is universal, in all possible universes.

1. Either all things have a prior cause for their existence, or there is at least one first cause of existence from which all others follow.
Either infinite intermediate causes or an eternal final Causal Principle.

Final Cause : the purpose or aim of an action or the end toward which a thing naturally develops.

3. This leads us to 3 plausibilities.
a. There is always a Y for every X. (infinite prior cause).
b. Y eventually wraps back to an X (infinite looped prior cause)
c. There comes a time when there is only X, and nothing prior to Y (first cause)
a> Turtles all the way down
b> Infinite chain of cyclical universes
c> Nothing cannot be a Cause

there is no rule on how that first cause has to exist
Yes, the Creator makes the rules. Our local First Cause could be an Eternal Principle of Causation.

4. a first cause could be anything without limitation
The only limitation for our human definition of the Creator is that it must make sense to our imperfect logical minds.

5. then we're right back where we started. The only answer that can be given is, "It simply is".
Multiverse theorists tend to take the unexplainable "just is" diversion to avoid further questions that are unanswerable with empirical scientific methods. It's like a parent's answer to a pestering child's
"why" questions : "just because . . ." But philosophers are not bound by empirical evidence, and often speculate based on logical evidence : "this follows from that".

6. Therefore the only conclusion is that there is a "First Cause" to our universe. This means that there is no rule or reason why the universe exists, besides the fact that it does. That being the case, wouldn't it be fun to examine the potential of what a first cause would entail,
Would that it were so simple!

The existence of the universe has only one "Why" answer : intentional creation.
But scientists typically dismiss philosophical "why" questions as irrelevant. What they want to know is "how". And the Big Bang, although still debated, is our best answer. Unfortunately, it was rejected at first, because it seemed to imply an intentional "act of creation" rather than a random accident.

My personal G*D theory is based on extrapolations from our knowledge of the Creation to postulate the necessary characteristics of the Creator. We come to know the Artist by examining the Art-work. Our gradually evolving world currently entails a somewhat different kind of Creator from the gods of human societies prior to the Theory of Evolution. Back then, they assumed that the only evolution was negative, in that humans were expelled from the perfect idyllic Garden into a thorny world of blood, sweat & tears.

7. a> We already know that a God forming as a first cause is possible, because with a first cause, there are no rules.
b> Of course, this also means that a universe could have formed without a God just as easily. In either case, it simply is.
c> At first glance, this might mean that it is equally likely that a universe could have formed on its own,
a> Does that imply that the First Cause simply popped into existence at an arbitrary point in eternity, for no reason at all? I find that hard to believe. Instead, I think that some Power or Potential or Principle must have always existed, in order for anything to exist. I call that Principle "BEING" : the power to be.
b> Our universe is a chain of cause & effect extending back to a singular point, beyond which we have no idea what existed. But our logical minds tend to assume some prior Cause, even in a timeless state. Spontaneous existence with no precedence is not an idea we have any evidence for. "It simply is" is no answer for a philosopher.
c> If so, the universe itself would have to possess the power of sudden self-creation or eternal self-existence. But the Big Bang put an end to such notions, that assumed the ever-changing physical universe was inherently Eternal. For the physical universe to be self-caused, the theoretical mathematical Singularity would be its First Cause : from Math to Matter?
BTW --- If G*D is an eternal creative principle, it would have the potential to create an infinite number of mini-verses. But the only actual world we have experience with is obviously finite, and bounded by space & time.

8. What is a specific universe?
A Specified Universe would be the effect of a specific Cause. But our universe is not completely specified or deterministic. Instead, it seems to have begun with "program" similar to DNA that had the potential for gradually developing into a functioning living thinking "organism", but with the freedom to adapt along the way to random variations. Freedom within Determinism.

9. A God would be a being that has the power and knowledge
In our real world experience, "Creative Power" is what we call Potential, to bring into existence something that does not yet exist. Intelligent Creative Power would have the power & know-how to create intelligent beings.

10. We can simplify this power to think and manipulate environments as a number.
Relative to our imperfect finite universe, the First Cause would have to possess infinite Potential, or at least something like an asymptote to Infinity --- is 67% creative power sufficient to produce a world from nothing?

11. A God would be a prime cause that meets this minimum capability, creates the big bang, and our universe occurs exactly as in the one situation in which the big bang was the prime cause.
See 10 above.
But what "exactly" was the Big Bang? Was it a statistical accident, or a quantum fluctuation, or an act of God?

13. If we take this to its conclusion, there is nothing to stop a God of greater power being . . . An infinite number of beings
Infinite independent-minded Beings instead of a single Infinite BEING? That sounds like Chaos.

14. an infinite number of Gods
See 13 above.

15. It may be good or evil, . . . . it would be indistinguishable from a universe which has no God,
Good & Evil are human evaluations of our less than perfect world. But an infinite creator would have to encompass both Good and Evil, which in equal amounts would cancel-out to Neutral. Neither Good nor Evil, just all possible values.

If an intentional divine creation worked like an Evolutionary Program, and operated as designed, without any need for intervention, it would be indistinguishable from the universe we find ourselves in. A properly designed computer program, once executed, would compute its own internal adaptations via feedback loops, until the final solution is found, and the answer printed out : "42" perhaps.
Evolutionary Programming : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_programming

16. it is infinite to 1 that our universe was formed by a God instead of simply forming on its own.
I'm not quite that optimistic. We don't have enough information to calculate such odds, without making some arbitrary unfounded assumptions. So, I simply say the universe looks like it could be a progressive program created by a Prime Programmer. But what was the question that prompted the program????

Alright, the challenge is on! Where is the flaw I finally found? Can you introduce a flaw I missed?
I don't know . . . did I miss something? :joke:

Odds for God : http://www.bothandblog.enformationism.info/page51.html
• 899
First, I never claimed logic is good for everything

Fair enough, I stand corrected.

But aren't you assuming, without questioning or any evidence, that logic is qualified to address topics the scale of gods? More to the point, isn't such an unexamined assumption extremely common, not just on philosophy forums, but among philosophy professionals as well?

Can you explain to me why logic is not good for the argument posted?

I obviously can't prove that logic isn't qualified to address topics the scale of gods, not being one myself. I'm not claiming logic is unqualified for such investigations, only that it has not been proven so, and to me at least, it seems unlikely that it is.

I'm not challenging your arguments, I'm challenging the foundation your arguments are built upon.

If others wish to ignore the foundation, and play the game you as wish to play it, I have no objection, go for it.
• 449

Thank you Gnomon for participating! You spent a good deal of time on your post, and will attempt to honor you in kind. We may come into disagreement at point, but know that it is from a place of respect.

c> Nothing cannot be a Cause
You note this as a translation to my point "There comes a time when there is only X, and nothing prior to Y (first cause)"

I want to make sure we're on the same page with this. I am not claiming, "Nothing caused X". That would be the continuation of "Y caused X", and would not be a prime cause. Nothing, did not cause X. X simply is, without any reason for its being. This is a key point.

If you believe in a God, then you believe this as well right? You don't believe anything caused a God right? A God simply is. It has no reason for its being, besides that it is. But we're also jumping the gun here.

there is no rule on how that first cause has to exist
— Philosophim
Yes, the Creator makes the rules. Our local First Cause could be an Eternal Principle of Causation.

Before we even dive into what the definition of a God would be, we have to address the logic of whether there is infinite causality, or a finite starting point first. The points and conclusion that I hold are that there MUST be a first cause, and describe what exactly a first cause must entail.

At this point, I'm not assuming there is a creator, or there is not a creator. I am simply examining whether we can logically conclude that there is an infinite regress of causality, or if there inevitably is a first cause. I conclude based on the logic of what both entail, that all things inevitably arrive at a first cause.

If you believe a creator is a first cause, then that's fine, I say that's a possiblity after the initial logic claim. But it is also possible under the logic that a first cause is NOT a creator. You cannot claim that a creator had to be the first cause, until you can disprove the claim where I show a first cause would not be bound by any rules as to what it had to be.

I'll sum up what you need to disprove first with the below summary.

1. A first cause has no prior reason for its existence. It simply is.
2. As a first cause has no prior reason for its existence, there are no rules that bind it to having to be a particular existence. It simply is.
3. For if you stated, "A first cause MUST be a particular existence", then there is a reason behind that. But if there is a reason behind that, it is not a prime cause, but relies on a previous cause that bounds it to some necessity of being".

I get it, this part trips people up a little until they figure out what is actually being said.

Simplified further.
A = A A is a prime cause.
A -> B is true. A prime cause can cause another.
C -> A cannot be true.

If you say A MUST be X, why?
If A MUST be X
you are claiming X defines -> A, because MUST implies A is limited in what it can be by X. Such a limitation is a rule outside of A, which would then be a cause of A's being.
Since X -> A cannot be true
A is not defined by anything else, and thus can only be understood as its existence, not by something that is not its existence.

Does that imply that the First Cause simply popped into existence at an arbitrary point in eternity, for no reason at all?
Yep. If you imply there is a reason, you imply something BEHIND that first cause. A first cause does not have a reason. It simply is. And this is not as a cop out btw (I undersood what you meant though). This is a logical conclusion, and in fact, the only conclusion I can draw.

The existence of the universe has only one "Why" answer
Until you show the above logic as incorrect, this cannot be claimed.

c> If so, the universe itself would have to possess the power of sudden self-creation or eternal self-existence.

No, if it is a first cause, it did not cause itself. It was not, then it was. If it has the power of eternal self-existence, as a first cause, it does, because it does. Remember that each of these points applies equally to a God (as I defined it remember, not any particular God).

In our real world experience, "Creative Power" is what we call Potential, to bring into existence something that does not yet exist. Intelligent Creative Power would have the power & know-how to create intelligent beings.

This is a fine way to define it. As long as you understand the underlying concept that at any point of creative power, we can imagine a greater creative power, we're good!

Relative to our imperfect finite universe, the First Cause would have to possess infinite Potential

I don't think this is logical. Think of it this way. I can make a house. But that might be my limit. (The universe). Someone else might be able to make lots of houses. Then houses, skyscrapers etc. We can keep adding more to what is created.

So imagine our entire universe. If we are thinking in terms without limitations as to what a first cause would be, then the first cause could be something with only the power to make one universe, our own. But then a first cause could have formed that could have created two universes, but that's it. Or 3. Or more, or infinite. But of course, the infinitely powerful God is only one of an infinite other possible gods.

13. If we take this to its conclusion, there is nothing to stop a God of greater power being . . . An infinite number of beings

I should have written that as, "An infinite number of possible beings". Remember, we're talking about all the possibilities that entail under the rules of a first cause when we do not know what that first cause is.

Ok, I think that addresses the points that are still pertinent to the start. Feel free to ask for clarifications, and of course, keep trying to find holes!
• 2k
But aren't you assuming, without questioning or any evidence, that logic is qualified to address topics the scale of gods? More to the point, isn't such an unexamined assumption extremely common, not just on philosophy forums, but among philosophy professionals as well?

No its not an assumption. Logic has a proven reliability and usefulness. Its something you can study academically. I dont see how you can defend your statement “assuming, without questioning or any evidence“. Thats clearly not the case, there has been plenty of study on logic.
This is like questioning science (in general, not to include questioning IN science which is part of its method of course).
Ok, sure. What else you got to replace science? What about to replace logic? What do you think would be a better tool than logic in order to determine the existence of a god that's not detectable by science?
So whats this gripe you got with philosophers?
• 2.6k
Alright, the challenge is on! Where is the flaw I finally found? Can you introduce a flaw I missed?

I did a thesis years ago and asked whether God was a subjective or objective truth. After much debate the answer was both ( albeit it was relatively gradient and contextual). Similarly, there might be consideration given to a dipolar God who creates or causes existence/cosmological space-time ex nihilo. Allow me to elaborate.

I think that one of the flaws associated with a causational God not having any attributes could be problematic to some ( your items 4 thru 9). On the one hand I really like that there are no rules in describing its existence. After all, existentially, who really has the logic capable of understanding a first cause and /or the mind of a God concept anyway... . For example, the task of reconciling a Being or metaphysical energy force that is both dependent on time and space for it's existence, yet timeless (outside of time) and unchangeable and therefore not dependent on anything else for it's own existence is paradoxical.

And so (before my point) the reason I bring that up is because of the widely accepted Big Bang theory (as you so well pointed out). And as such a first cause would have to account for the foregoing because for one, mathematics (a changeless and timeless truth) so effectively describes the universe and the Big Bang itself. Which in effect makes a timeless platonic God appealing and certainly plausible. Meaning if the Big Bang was the starting point for time, space and matter (creation ex nihilo) then a dipolar God who was timeless living outside of temporal time (not time dependent for its existence) would have to enter time to create temporal time itself. In other words, what was a timeless platonic God doing before the BB, and what are its attributes.

For those reasons, causation or first cause ex nihilo has to consider a dipolar attribute of some sort.

Nevertheless, I'm still open to your existential (hence paradoxical) treatment to the no-rules argument of a first cause since afterall as suggested earlier, we cannot even understand many things associated with the nature of our own existence (consciousness being one; time being another) much less a super-natural force or a Being with transcendent qualities and attributes.. And so much like multiverse theories, the floodgates are really open as to what might be considered logically possible there. And I take no exception to that.

Otherwise, the other obvious and important flaw I don't have time to discuss (just putting it out there for fodder) is accounting for self-aware, conscious Beings, who happen to be here.
• 899
Logic has a proven reliability and usefulness

This is the classic error which gets blindly repeated over and over and over again, even by some of the most prominent thinkers. This error is the foundation of atheism for example.

Yes, logic has proven useful for too many things to list at human scale. That is certainly true. But that does NOT automatically equal logic being useful for EVERYTHING, no matter how large the question.

Here's an example. Holy books have provided comfort and meaning to billions of people over thousands of years, an astounding accomplishment which science can't begin to touch. Holy books have proven themselves beyond any doubt to have this ability in very many cases. But that does not automatically equal holy books being qualified for any claim they might make. We can't blindly leap from one proven ability to any claim whatsoever, no matter how large, and label that logic.

This is like questioning science (in general

I'd be happy to question science in general, but let's save that for another thread. Start one if you wish, and I'll try to join you there.

I'm attempting to replace your logic with real logic. Real logic, not ideological assertions made from an emotional attachment to some ideology which perhaps makes you feel superior to somebody else.
• 899
So whats this gripe you got with philosophers

I'm just joining them in leaving nothing above inspection and challenge.
• 899
Alright, the challenge is on! Where is the flaw I finally found?

You appear to be assuming, like almost all commentators on the subject, that a God can only exist or not, one or the other. Such an assumption is seriously challenged by an observation of reality, which reveals that the vast majority of reality, space, does not fit neatly in to either the "exists" or "doesn't exist" categories.

Imho, this is a very common error, which to be fair to you, is shared by many of the greatest thinkers on these subjects, theist and atheist. You simply assume without questioning that the question at hand (does God exist?) is a valid and useful question, and then build an elaborate chain of sophisticated reasoning on top of that very shaky foundation. All of your effort goes in to your preferred answers, none of it goes in to the question.

What I'm attempting to illustrate in these comments is an efficient philosophical method which I call "going up a level", though surely someone can come up with a better name.

It's easiest to get the "going up a level" methodology when it is applied to some position we don't agree with. To illustrate, imagine the reader is an atheist, and some theist starts a thread claiming something like, "So and so is true, because it says so in the Bible." The efficiently lazy :-) atheist doesn't need to be dragged through a 7 year long analysis of 147 Bible verses, they can just ask the theist to prove that the Bible is qualified to speak to whatever the claim is. The atheist has "gone up a level" from the detailed arguments to the authority the arguments are derived from.

Atheist readers may enthusiastically approve of "going up a level", until that methodology is applied to atheism, then not so much. :-)
• 2k
Yes, logic has proven useful for too many things to list at human scale. That is certainly true. But that does NOT automatically equal logic being useful for EVERYTHING, no matter how large the question.

I didnt say it does. I’m merely pointing out that we have no reason to think logic would fail at any particular thing. Until we do, the proven reliability of logic means its our best tool. Can you offer anything that shows the limits of logic at the “scale” of god? Or anything where abandoning logic in favour of another tool is the better way?
No one is reflexively using logic in this unthinking way you suggest. If you have something better, Id be happy to use that. I just want the best tool for the job, if you have a better one then please share its wonders.

Here's an example. Holy books have provided comfort and meaning to billions of people over thousands of years, an astounding accomplishment which science can't begin to touch. Holy books have proven themselves beyond any doubt to have this ability in very many cases. But that does not automatically equal holy books being qualified for any claim they might make. We can't blindly leap from one proven ability to any claim whatsoever, no matter how large, and label that logic.

Holy books providing comfort and meaning is irrelevant to making claims about things. Providing meaning/comfort is not something that qualifies anything about claims about existence.
And again, no one is blindly applying logic. This is a strawman. You are asserting with no evidence that logic is being blindly, dogmatically applied.

I'd be happy to question science in general, but let's save that for another thread. Start one if you wish, and I'll try to join you there.

You miss the point. You dont have a better tool to offer, so with science as with logic you have no substance to your argument. All you got is “hey, maybe logic or science isnt the best tool for so and so”. Ok, sure, maybe, but you have nothing to offer as an alternative so now you are just asking people to not rely on logic for no real reason (because you can imagine the possibility it might not be the best tool...no substance).

I'm attempting to replace your logic with real logic. Real logic, not ideological assertions made from an emotional attachment to some ideology which perhaps makes you feel superior to somebody else.

Lol, who are you talking to? You’ve created this phantom strawman. How did you determine what logic I use, how did you determine Im operating on an emotional attachment over “real logic” and what have I said that makes you think I might be trying to exercise a feeling of superiority to anyone else?

I'm just joining them in leaving nothing above inspection and challenge.

I dont think you are. Certainly you arent challenging anything, you havent provided any real argument Im sorry to say.
Its pretty clear you have an axe to grind here...did you have some bad experiences with philosophers?
• 899
I’m merely pointing out that we have no reason to think logic would fail at any particular thing.

Yes, we do have good reason to suspect that the highly imperfect reasoning ability of a semi-suicidal species only recently living in caves with thousands of hydrogen bombs aimed down it's own throat (an ever present threat it finds too boring to discuss) just might not be capable of generating credible answers to the very largest questions about the most fundamental nature of everything everywhere, an arena which said species can not define in even the most basic manner.

Apologies, but you are merely chanting atheist ideology dogmas.

You dont have a better tool to offer, so with science as with logic you have no substance to your argument

I don't need to provide an alternative, that's not my burden. As an salesman for logic and science it is YOUR burden to prove that such methodologies are qualified for the tasks which you are applying them to. You're advocating the universal qualifications of reason, without actually doing reason yourself. Classic atheist error.
• 2k
Yes, we do have good reason to suspect that the highly imperfect reasoning ability of a semi-suicidal species only recently living in caves with thousands of hydrogen bombs aimed down it's own throat (an ever present threat it finds too boring to discuss) just might not be capable of generating credible answers to the very largest questions about the most fundamental nature of everything everywhere, an arena which said species can not define in even the most basic manner.

No, we have good reason to think we have no better alternative. Imperfect reasoning sure, but what else fo we have? We b do the best with what we have.

Apologies, but you are merely chanting atheist ideology dogmas.

Lol, oh youre a real gem. What is an atheist ideology dogma?
Can you name one, so I know what you mean by that?

I don't need to provide an alternative, that's not my burden. As an salesman for logic and science it is YOUR burden to prove that such methodologies are qualified for the tasks which you are applying them to. You're advocating the universal qualifications of reason, without actually doing reason yourself. Classic atheist error.

Well, if you are telling me im not allowed or shouldnt use my current tools then Im asking you which ones you would like me to use. If you cant, then I dont see anything wrong or unreasonable about using the best tools I know of and I will do so without making assumptions or by blind faith to logic/science. Happy to discard my tools the second you provide a better one.
You continue to argue against a strawman. Maybe you have in mind some rabid, Idealogical atheist...thats not me so calm down.
And where have I lacked reason? Id like you to point out my lack of reason.
Also, im not a salesmen for logic and science. They dont need a salesmen, they sell themselves. They are our most powerful tools for determining truth...but since im interested in the best tools i would just love to hear about better ones. Even if its just a better tool for this one question about whether there is a god. Do you got one?
Also, logic and science arent only used by atheists on the god question, they are also used by theists and apologists to make their case aa well, so im sorry to say your whole premiss fails before it even starts.
• 899
We b do the best with what we have.

My point is, you're not doing that. You're not following your own chosen methodology.

If a religious person makes a claim from the Bible, you ask them to prove the Bible is qualified, right? Anybody making any claim bears the burden of proving their chosen authority is qualified to speak credibly to the subject at hand. Apparently, you apply this process only to other people's chosen authorities, but not to your own. Thus, you are not doing reason, but ideology.

Well, if you are telling me im not allowed or shouldnt use my current tools then Im asking you which ones you would like me to use

You aren't using reason, that's the problem. You're allowed to use reason, you aren't willing, or not able.

Apologies, but this is just too tiresome. Most constructive thing I can do is grant you victory, wish you well, and bow out.
• 449

Ooh, good post!
I think that one of the flaws associated with a causational God not having any attributes could be problematic to some ( your items 4 thru 9).

If you think there is a flaw there, can you figure it out? You have to have more than suspicions!

For those reasons, causation or first cause ex nihilo has to consider a dipolar attribute of some sort.

Excellent conclusion. I can flesh that out within the argument here (I remember having this in the paper years ago, but didn't want to get too in depth on the forum post)

If you recognize that our universe's big bang could have been a first cause, and a God could have been a first cause that created our specific universe through a big bang, then you are realizing that any first cause, could have also created what could have been considered a first cause in another alternative universe.

In other words.
A = First cause
B = has a prior cause
# = possible universe

A=>A (first cause)
But A could also be B in another created universe A0= B1 in another possible universe(B has a prior cause)
In total this means:
A0 => A0
A0 = B1
A1 => A1
A1 => B1

Take that and bring it into the argument above. And that's the next hint!
• 449
You appear to be assuming, like almost all commentators on the subject, that a God can only exist or not, one or the other. Such an assumption is seriously challenged by an observation of reality, which reveals that the vast majority of reality, space, does not fit neatly in to either the "exists" or "doesn't exist" categories.

Hippyhead, it is obvious at this point that you have not read the actual argument. You have no idea what you are talking about. If you want to keep bumping my post, that's fine, but until you stop attacking that straw man in your world over there, I'm not going to consider your posts as having any value to the topic.
• 2k

Constructive? In what way is that constructive?! :lol:
Intellectual cowardice more like. You cant defend your assertions and have failed on every level of engagement.
Your poorly thought out criticisms and comments have failed and now youre taking your ball and going home.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal