• Michael
    7.4k
    It's comparable to arguing:

    If X is alive then X can die but if X is dead then X isn't alive.

    That's not a paradox, just faulty reasoning. That X can die isn't that X is dead.
  • NKBJ
    316


    Interesting twist... I think your example shows that the paradox contains a tacit assumption:
    A->A&B

    In other words, we assume the paradox to mean: Can god create a stone that is so heavy he cannot lift it while still remaining omnipotent (after creation/during existence of said stone).
  • Michael
    7.4k
    Can god create a stone that is so heavy he cannot lift it while still remaining omnipotent (after creation/during existence of said stone).NKBJ

    Which really just amounts to asking if God can be both omnipotent and not omnipotent at the same time, which I think is a nonsense question.
  • NKBJ
    316


    Exactly. Because omnipotence is a nonsense concept.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    Because omnipotence is a nonsense concept.NKBJ

    A definition of omnipotence that requires being able to be both omnipotent and not omnipotent at the same time is nonsense. But why define omnipotence that way?

    I have no problem saying that a God who can bring about any possible world is omnipotent.
  • andrewk
    1.6k
    I don't think it follows by saying God did X, you are making it more elaborate at all.Mr Phil O'Sophy
    My interpretation of @SophistiCat's point - and I apologise to him if I've got this wrong - is that if we start with an observation X of a particular phenomenon, and that observation takes n words to express, then our view of X can either be expressed as:

    (1) 'X', which takes n words, OR
    (2) 'God did X', which takes n+2 words.

    The suggestion is that, since (1) is shorter, it is more compliant with Occam's principle. The objection might be made that (2) is preferable because it explains X. But that just generates the response that it has simply replaced one unexplained phenomenon - X- with another - God, so there is no decrease in unexplained phenomena.

    Further, for most 'X' such as 'The sky is blue', the 'God did' prefix doesn't make for a grammatically correct sentence. We need something like 'God caused it to be the case that the sky is blue', which is eight extra words compared to (1). But in the interests of fairness, I must concede that we could instead say 'God made the sky blue', which is only one extra word - closer, but still only second best according to Occam.
  • andrewk
    1.6k
    Which really just amounts to asking if God can be both omnipotent and not omnipotent at the same time, which I think is a nonsense question.Michael
    I wonder if anybody here knows where the notion of God being omnipotent first arose. According to wiki the only scriptural basis is almost non-existent, being the use in Revelations of the Greek word for 'almighty'. I have seen plenty of football and cricket teams called 'almighty' but none called omnipotent, so I don't think Revelations is any basis for the idea at all.

    I had been blaming the medieval scholastics for introduction of this silly notion but now I'm not so sure. They talked a lot about it, but perhaps they were actually trying to deflate an already common notion. If so, it seems it arose some time between about 150 CE and 1000 CE.

    I am not aware of any non-Abrahamic religions that try to claim omnipotence. In most cases it is considered sufficient that the laws of physics in this or any other universe are no barrier to the deity doing whatever she wants with her creation.
  • S
    6.3k
    Omnipotence + omniscience + omnibenevolence + omnishambles = either incompetent god or no god.
  • NKBJ
    316


    It's inherent in THE definition of omnipotence. "Omni" means "all," not "all with a few exceptions."
  • Michael
    7.4k
    It's inherent in THE definition of omnipotence. "Omni" means "all," not "all with a few exceptions."NKBJ

    I don't see how you get from "all-powerful" to "can perform contradictions". I would say that to be all-powerful just is to be able to bring about any possible world.
  • NKBJ
    316


    So you're saying God can only do what is logically possible?
  • Michael
    7.4k
    So you're saying God can only do what is logically possible?NKBJ

    I'm saying that if there was some being who could bring about any possible state of affairs (but not any impossible state of affairs) then I would have no issue with describing that being as being omnipotent.
  • NKBJ
    316


    I get that, but what determines what is possible or impossible?
  • Michael
    7.4k
    I get that, but what determines what is possible or impossible?NKBJ

    Whether or not it contains contradictions. A four-sided triangle is a contradiction, and so a world with four-sided triangles is impossible. A living king of France isn't a contradiction, and so a world with a living king of France is possible.
  • Rank Amateur
    579
    Then show us why the claim that there's an "uncreated creator" is not nonsense. Or justify it, if you so prefer. My point is that any attempt at justification you can conceive of will land you back into some kind of circular argument. Unless you try to justify God's properties by invoking sources external to God, in which case you are acknowledging God is just another piece of the puzzle, another link in the chain. Not an ultimate explanation of anything. And if you don't, you're forced into a circular argument: God is uncreated because it's God, cats have four legs because they're cats.Uber

    We were discussing the cosmological argument, and your claim that it has been shown invalid.
    You have not shown any of the premises to be false, you have disagreed with the conclusion, basically because you disagree with the conclusion - and now ask for me to further prove the conclusion you have disagreed with - because you disagree with it.

    The argument is not circular if the conclusion is true - it is only circular with the un-proven claim that it is false.

    To be clear, my only argument is that theism is a reasonable position, and has not in anyway been proven not to be. I also believe that atheism is a reasonable position, but the only valid argument I know of is the argument from evil.
  • NKBJ
    316


    A contradiction would be defined by the rules of logic, right?
  • Uber
    147
    RA: you are mixing up many different things.

    The main reasons why the cosmological argument doesn't work are because its understanding of time violates relativity and because its understanding of causality equivocates between the two premises. The first premise relies on ex materia creation (the only way in which things begin to exist in the Universe) and the second premise relies on ex nihilo creation (ie. the presumed beginning of the Universe itself). These two methods of causality are contradictory and can never be reconciled because the argument requires you to assume that things in the Universe come about in different ways from the Universe itself.

    Separate from all this, my other implied point was that the cosmological argument itself doesn't purport to show the existence of a creator. The theological attachments that come after it (like you can't explain the beginning of reality in terms of material causes because where does the chain of explanation end, etc) are meant for that purpose. But those theological attachments are themselves caught in the same trap. God is not an ultimate explanation. He's just an elaborate circular argument, or at best a foundational assumption that can't otherwise be justified or explained empirically. If either of those is the case, what good philosophical reasons are left to believe?

    As for theism being a "reasonable position," I suppose I need to know what constitutes a "reasonable position" in your eyes. I already laid out my standard in my first post in this thread, and clearly I do not think that theism is a reasonable position.
  • Rank Amateur
    579
    The main reasons why the cosmological argument doesn't work are because its understanding of time violates relativity and because its understanding of causality equivocates between the two premises. The first premise relies on ex materia creation (the only way in which things begin to exist in the Universe) and the second premise relies on ex nihilo creation (ie. the presumed beginning of the Universe itself). These two methods of causality are contradictory and can never be reconciled because the argument requires you to assume that things in the Universe come about in different ways from the Universe itself.Uber

    I know of no established truth that the universe is not finite nor that its beginnings are known - I also no of no universal belief that causality is a settled issue. Your points are understood - I challenge your point that known science today in anyway defeats the cosmological argument - and understand your classical objections based on causality - they are a reasonable objection, but i disagree they negate the argument.

    my definition of a reasonable belief, is one that is not un-reasonable. Meaning held in conflict of fact. or overwhelming reason against.
  • jm0
    12
    The universe created itself.
    We created ourselves, and we still do.
    Living organisms just magically appear, evolve at will, and reproduce under the right conditions for no apparent reason. A by product of the complex nature of the universe if you will. It's beautiful. We definitely need to understand more about it. Interesting post! Let's see if we can squeeze the intellectual juice out of this forum.

    How do you want us to be? Then try to be that, and fellow humans might imitate you, if they think you set a good example for our species. We define ourselves through imitation. We imitate each other all the time. If i yawn, you might yawn as well. Be careful who you imitate though, and try not to be a dictator about it :)

    That is just my little theory of human self-creation. Life equals life.

    (L = L) ...
  • Uber
    147
    To RA:

    I'm confused. If you think it's "reasonable" that the premises do equivocate on causation, then how can you defend the argument? It's a fallacy to use different meanings for a concept in the same argument. At the very least explain why you think this doesn't negate the argument.

    We both keep using the term "the Universe" without qualification. That term acquires different meanings in astrophysics and theoretical physics more broadly. I use the term in the astrophysical sense: the observable universe, or the matter and energy contained within the luminous spherical volume, which has a diameter of roughly 90 billion light years. Meaning: all the stuff that we can see and measure. So I agree that the Universe "came into existence," but we may be using that critical term in different ways. I happen to think, for good theoretical reasons related to inflationary bubbles, that our observable universe is a very small and inconsequential part of reality. That could be wrong of course. The science here can get very theoretical.

    As for where reality as a whole comes from, I object to that very premise. Reality as a whole does not have a beginning; existence is an intrinsic feature of reality, perhaps tied to the properties of the uncertainty principle or other quantum phenomena. This is a whole other debate, but to forestall a counter-argument I know is coming: "How can you justify the foundational physical principle on which to base the core features of all reality, such as the uncertainty principle or vibrating strings?" Through philosophical reasoning alone, I can't. But I have something else: empirical observation. The uncertainty principle is an empirically true fact of the world, responsible for everything from quantum fluctuations at the microscopic level to the macroscopic property of solidity. That's more than anyone can say for the foundational assumption that a magical sky creature made everything out of nowhere!
  • Uber
    147
    There's another important point to make. I'll call this the problem of time, and the cosmological argument definitely has one. For the CA to work, it needs to maintain that the Universe had an absolute beginning that all observers can agree on. In other words, it makes an implicit assumption of presentism, in which time flows from past to future and only the present moment exists. The problem with this assumption is that it violates relativity, which concludes that absolute simultaneity does not exist. Meaning what? Meaning that systems and observers in different reference frames (traveling in relatively different speeds) will not agree on the simultaneity of events. What you think is the present for you may be the future or the past to another observer. You may think time flows for you personally, but it would hardly do that for a solar neutrino shooting through space near the speed of light. I write all of this not necessarily to endorse the 'block universe' in which all events exist tenselessly (B-theory of time), but simply to reject the A-theory and presentism. And because presentism is not true, then the Universe cannot be said to have an absolute beginning.

    This point, that there is no absolute beginning, can also be understood by the fact that the solutions to Einstein's field equations in general relativity yield singularities and ridiculous results at "t = 0." So another theory is needed that can remove these singularities. There are such quantum gravity theories, but whether they are empirically credible is open to debate. Most of them also need more theoretical development. But the main point is that there probably was no sharp singularity at the "moment" of the Big Bang, hence also suggesting the lack of an absolute beginning. The transition between the state of mass-energy before the Big Bang to the one after it is not well-understood. But it would be a fallacy to suggest that just because that happens to be poorly understood, God must have done it!
  • jorndoe
    625
    @Uber, along the same lines, it seems these types of arguments hitch a ride with some metaphysical theses, but apply them to limit- or edge-cases. Suspect.

    • spacetime is an aspect of the universe, but “before time” is incoherent; causality is temporal, but “a cause of causation” is incoherent
    • if there was a definite earliest time (or “time zero”), then anything that existed at that time, began to exist at that time, and that includes any first causes, deities, or whatever else
    • there could never have been a time when there wasn’t anything, since there would have been time (cf Bede Rundle)
    • an atemporal, “eternal” cause of a universe that has a definite age (like 14 billion years) is incompatible with the principle of sufficient reason, since such a cause lead us to expect an infinite age of the universe — there’s no sufficient reason the universe is 14 billion years old and not some other age, any other definite age in fact

    I suppose, if the principle of sufficient reason is embedded somewhere in these arguments, then they run into troubles on that account.
  • Marcus de Brun
    450
    Of course there is a creator. Nothing comes from nothing, therefore in the worst case scenario the creator amounts to nothing.

    The major problem with the creator-thing, arises when we seek to define it. Essentially the question is 'does this creator believe in me' or do I have a relationship with it.

    This creator-thing must believe in me because I exist. However the 'I' and the 'exist' remain up for grabs. All that has been proven to date is that 'thought' exists and in this sense once can conclude that this creator-thing has some (yet to be defined) relationship with thought.

    Spinoza has pushed this notion to its present limit, and would seem to have the most sophisticated notion of the creator thing he was excommunicated as a consequence.. so he was clearly on the right track. Personally I am grateful to have access to 'thought' as this thought-thing when it is unencumbered by dogma and gross convention, and exercised independently, appears to have the closest approximation to this creator-thing.

    Everything we know is created by thought.

    M
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    One thing to remember is that natural philosophy was not originally understood as the attempt to explain nature (as it now widely seems understood to be). Natural philosophy at the time of Newton and Galileo, was assumed to rest on a foundation of laws which were 'God's handiwork'. But given the deism to which the mainstream of Western philosophy was then attracted, the universe was felt to be a great machine which, like any machine, seemed quite capable of running without any further input from it's creator. At which point, God, as Ted Dace once remarked, had become 'a ghost in his own machine'.

    But in any case, scientific cosmology is not at a point where a definitive fundamental ground, cause or reason for the whole Universe seems likely to be forthcoming anytime soon. There are massive debates going on about foundational issues in physics and cosmology. Nothing the matter with that, of course, all par for the course. But it behooves us to recall that natural philosophy qua science hasn't, and doesn't look like, explaining what a 'first cause' might amount to. It leaves rather a large space, or explanatory gap.
  • Hanover
    4.1k
    Of course there is a creator. Nothing comes from nothing,Marcus de Brun

    Where did the creator come from?
  • Rank Amateur
    579
    Thanks all, and as my name suggests, I am quite out of my league with most on here.

    In catching up with some of the comments I have the following thoughts. Until there is some scientific consensus on how or if the universe had a beginning. No matter how sophisticated your quantum mechanics are, until it is fact, it is not fact. And until then it does not provide, at least in my untrained mind, any compelling argument against a necessary being.

    I agree completely, that there is a significant difference between a CA claim there at least was at some time a necessary being, and any other claim about the nature of this being. In my view the claims of nature of the being, are in large measure outside reason, and are matters of faith.

    At the core I still believe the CA come down to which state of affairs is more reasonable.

    1. The contingency of things is finite and there is a necessary being
    2. The contingency of things is not finite. It just is, and was.

    Reasonable arguments can be made for both, and hence my belief that a theistic belief is not outside reason.
  • Marcus de Brun
    450


    Where did the creator come from?

    Not sure Kerry maybe?

    Why must a creator come from somewhere?

    The question itself applies human coordinates of place/space and time, but these are human coordinates. Therefore, to fit within the confines of the question, the creator-thing must be subject to the same conditions as a human, vis space and time. The question has an anthropomorphic bias.

    As soon as the question is posed in this way, one is requiring the concept 'creator' to conform to a human and temporal construct of reality. Why should an extra-corporeal creator-thing, exogenous to human experience, be compelled to share the human experience of space-time? Is this not the same as asking: why is there no God who is just like me?

    An old shoe, falling into a black hole, or moving at a velocity close to the speed of light, is clearly not the Creator of the Universe. However the old shoe (under these conditions) is no longer subject to our conditions of space and time. If an old shoe can be shown experimentally, to be capable of an existence outside of human space time.. why not a creator-thing?

    If a creator-thing can (like an old shoe) exist outside of human space-time, it need not have an 'origin' as it is a-temporal.

    Asking the question 'where did it come from' establishes the failure of the answer, before the answer is tendered. If there is such a creator-thing it may well reside outside of human conditions, and as such an origin is as unlikely as a grey beard and a staff.

    M
  • Hanover
    4.1k
    Why must a creator come from somewhere?Marcus de Brun

    Because you said: "Nothing comes from nothing, "

    If a creator can come from nowhere, so can matter.
  • Marcus de Brun
    450
    If a creator can come from nowhere, so can matter.Hanover



    You seem to be equating a creator-thing with matter? What have you based this on?

    So far: you have confined your creator-thing to a human experience of the universe and presently you are equating your creator-thing with matter. Would you like to give it a gender and a name?

    Because it is starting to sound very familiar?

    M
  • Hanover
    4.1k
    You seem to be equating a creator-thing with matter?Marcus de Brun

    No I haven't. I pointed out that it was as logically consistent to claim the creator is eternal as it is to claim matter is eternal.
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