• Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    Yes sorry, my original point was that infinite (unlimited ability to act) is self-contradictory in a finite universe.Devans99

    But then you're supporting that with arguments about infinity in the quantitative sense.
  • alcontali
    1k
    So part of the background assumptions you're working with is that the physical world has different (and unknown) logic? You'd need to support that claim.Terrapin Station

    Logic does not operate on real-world observables. It operates on statements, which are not real-world, but language objects that live in their own abstract, Platonic world.

    Logic are not statements about the real-world. Logic consists of statements about other statements.

    Since when is a language expression a real-world phenomenon? Does it have energy, mass, gravity, or an electrostatic charge? What could there possibly be physical about a language expression? Hence, a language expression cannot possibly be an object in the real, physical world.
  • Devans99
    2.5k
    That was because Theologian made a separate point about my views on the universe.
  • Pantagruel
    532

    How is a language expression not a real-world phenomenon? The essence of ostensive definition is language binding itself to the real world. If I utter the phrase "Pick up that stone" and you pick it up, how is that not a real-world phenomenon? Does language have energy? Does thought? I would argue that it does, yes.
  • alcontali
    1k
    You don't have to buy anything a la platonism to do proofs.Terrapin Station

    In fact, the term "Platonic" is just a figure of speech to refer to an abstraction, i.e. a mere language expression. I just use it to distinguish them from physical, real-world objects. So, a chair is a physical object, but the language expression "chair" is not.

    There is a simple litmus test for platonicity of the target of a language expression.

    If you can translate it into other languages, then it must be a language object. For example, "5" is a language object, because you can also write "five", "cinque", "fünf", or "101" (binary). Therefore, it has nothing to do with the real, physical world. It is an idea instead of something physical.

    Till this very day, Platonist philosophy is the core of the philosophy of mathematics. It is not literally Plato, though. It is just highly Plato-like, and it is clearly inspired by Plato's work.

    My own take is somehow related to Edward Zalta's Platonic abstract object theory.

    In my opinion, however, Zalta fails to mention explicitly the fact that mathematical (abstract-Platonic) objects do not exist outside the context of the axiomatic system ("axiomatization"), i.e. the construction logic, in which they are defined.

    Proof theory requires the prover to supply the axiomatization in which the proof is derived.

    Therefore, I do not say that this would be an error in Zalta's theory, but I consider this certainly to be an omission (or a lack of emphasis) in his otherwise excellent characterization of abstract objects as encoded language.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    I think the most plausible theology is Lovecraft's.Theologian
    I don't know that I see Cthulhu as a potential deity. But if you want to start a thread to discuss it, that should be great fun!
  • alcontali
    1k
    How is a language expression not a real-world phenomenon? The essence of ostensive definition is language binding itself to the real world.Pantagruel

    I can only disagree.

    What about Game of Thrones? Doesn't the television series bathe in language? Does it even pretend to be about the real world? It is obviously completely imaginary!

    Therefore, language has generally nothing to do with describing the real world.

    Some subset of the set of language expressions does indeed attempt to be isomorphic with the real, physical world, but that is just a subset. You can do much, much more with language than merely describing the real world!

    If I utter the phrase "Pick up that stone" and you pick it up, how is that not a real-world phenomenon?Pantagruel

    Yes, in that particular case, the language expressions are about real-world, physical objects, situations, events, and other observables.

    I have never said that language cannot attempt to describe the real world. It sometimes even moderately successfully does so, even though it always remains a simplifying abstraction, albeit one that is somehow isomorphic with the real, physical world.

    I have only said that not all language expressions attempt to do that. Language does not need to refer to the real world. For example, a language expression can trivially refer to other language expressions.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    Logic does not operate on real-world observables. It operates on statements, which are not real-world, but language objects that live in their own abstract, Platonic world.alcontali

    That's just one view. Another view is that there is no separate "abstract, platonic world," yet we still have logic, here in the real world

    And re this:

    In fact, the term "Platonic" is just a figure of speech to refer to an abstraction, i.e. a mere language expression. I just use it to distinguish them from physical, real-world objects. So, a chair is a physical object, but the language expression "chair" is not.alcontali

    There is a view that the linguistic expression "chair" most certainly is physical, as is everything else. That view is called "physicalism."
  • alcontali
    1k
    That's just one view. Another view is that there is no separate "abstract, platonic world," yet we still have logic, here in the real worldTerrapin Station

    There is a view that the linguistic expression "chair" most certainly is physical, as is everything else. That view is called "physicalism."Terrapin Station

    Ok, understood.

    I can only say that it is not the dominant view in mathematics, which is staunchly Platonic. There is a fringe philosophy, called constructivism, in mathematics that goes in that direction, but it is generally considered to be a heresy.

    Traditionally, some mathematicians have been suspicious, if not antagonistic, towards mathematical constructivism, largely because of limitations they believed it to pose for constructive analysis. These views were forcefully expressed by David Hilbert in 1928, when he wrote in Grundlagen der Mathematik [...]

    Even though most mathematicians do not accept the constructivist's thesis that only mathematics done based on constructive methods is sound, constructive methods are increasingly of interest on non-ideological grounds.


    I tend to follow David Hilbert's view on (real-world) constructivism, for similar reasons, and I am therefore also very negative about it. I think that the constructivist mentality is unproductive. Therefore, I consider it to be a heresy.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k


    I'm basically a constructivist on mathematics and logic, by the way.

    I'm also a physicalist and what's called a nominalist, where part of my nominalism is a rejection of there being any real abstracts.
  • fdrake
    3.1k
    I tend to follow David Hilbert's view on (real-world) constructivism, for similar reasons, and I am therefore also very negative about it. I think that the constructivist mentality is unproductive. Therefore, I consider it to be a heresy.alcontali

    Not being able to establish an existence claim through a proof by contradiction really sucks.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    If a being exists, its explanation must exist.Dfpolis

    This assertion worries me. It doesn't ring true. Why "must" every being have an accompanying explanation? Is this knowledge that has escaped me thus far? Do *I* have an explanation, and if so, what is it? You seem to be saying that every being has a purpose. That may be so, but do we know it for a fact, or is it wishful thinking?
  • Dfpolis
    907
    A usual formulation is that God can do anything not contradictory. Yes? No?tim wood

    Yes, but since contradictions cannot be instantiated, (by the ontological principle of contradiction) they are not possible. So, the formulations mean the same thing.

    I assume that as an "infinite" being God is, now - exists. If that is so, then on your definition God could not exist now, at the same time he exists.tim wood

    I do not follow your thinking here. Things that come to be cannot act before they come to be and so have limited being. The point I was making is that the necessity things have once they come to be is not intrinsic.

    That leads back to the God who can do anything not contradictory. Which itself means that God is limited, which throws us back to the definition of God as infinite, as opposed to finite.tim wood

    What is contradictory is outside the scope of being and so not a limit on being. Having limited non-being (not being able to instantiate contradictions) does not entail having limited being.

    If "no possible act is negated by its specification," then either his non-being is possible, or if not possible, then this God is god is not limited to thenot, per definition, infinite.tim wood

    Again, this is a confusion. The non-existence of a necessary being is not possible. So a necessary being ceasing to be is not a possible act.
    .
    Implies God is neither in nor of the univeedrse.tim wood

    In a way and in a way not. Yes, God is not limited to the physical multiverse. Still, that does not preclude God from acting in the cosmos.

    There is something deeper here, viz. the identity of action and passion. The act of an agent operating on a patient is identically the passion of the patient being operated on by the agent. Thus, the cosmos being held in being by God is identically God holding the cosmos in being. This identity, however, applies to the operation, not to the beings involved. So, while God is immanently active in the cosmos, He is not identical with it.

    Whatever part of God that is in the universe would necessarily be a part of some collection of things in the universe, therefore finite.tim wood

    This assumes that God is extended (has parts outside of parts). Since God is infinite, you argument shows this is a false assumption. To be able to act at many points does not imply intrinsic extension. The laws of nature, for example, act throughout the cosmos, but have no parts outside of parts.

    we might have a problem in limiting the number of Gods to one: why one? It would seem there would have to be very many, an infinite number, of Gods.tim wood

    For the count of Gods to be more than one, we need to be able to differentiate the second from the first. Since God is infinite, this is impossible. Any differentiating factor would imply the existence of an act one could do and the other could not (i.e. that of properly eliciting the concept of the differentiating factor). That implies that at least one is not an infinite being.

    Does God have location?tim wood

    No, because having a location mean that God would exist (and act) at one place and not another, and so not be an infinite being.

    In as much as God can do anything(?) he can sometimes be not there.tim wood

    No, because any "there" needs be defined relative to a finite existent, which would necessarily imply that God was active in maintaining its existence -- and so "there" operationally.
  • tim wood
    3.7k
    Why do believers need 'proof' ?fresco

    Imo this is the heart and soul of the matter. Answer: they don't, they believe. That is, God is an absolute presupposition of their overall beliefs. The Christian Creed starts, "I believe..,". I assume every other religion has the same foundation of belief. Notwithstanding whackdoodle individuals and sects and splinter groups who never got the memo, that spend their time and energy on propping up the image of a real and existing God.

    And that makes God a mental reality, like the number eighty-two, instead of an extra-mental real being. The idea of God, which to my way of thinking is just and exactly all the God there is, is real enough in practice - "by his works...". And is really a mostly, not always, benign intellectual virus that seemingly everyone catches at some time in their lives, and that very few are ever really cured of.

    Which makes proofs in some cases variously interesting as exercises, but impotent with respect to their purpose. How can language or thought prove the real existence of such a being?
  • Dfpolis
    907
    It's hard to judge your premises 4 to 6 without a clear definition of "explanation".Echarmion

    OK, an explanation in this sense is an agency that effects what is to be explained.

    Having an explanation is certainly nice, but I fail to see how it would be necessary.Echarmion

    Knowing the explanation is nice. Having an explanation is necessary. I can think of three arguments for this.
    1. Practically, if we allow any phenomenon to be a "brute fact," we undermine the logic of the scientific method. Unless we hold that the need of an explanation is universal, no observation, however carefully made, can be taken as evidence of an underlying dynamics. Instead of definitely confirming or falsifying a hypothesis, our observation could merely be something that "just happened" with no relation to the relevant hypotheses.
    2. Phenomena come to be and pass away. That means that they have no intrinsic necessity, for it they did, they would necessarily be as they are -- always. Yet, once they are, they necessarily were then -- they no longer cannot not have been. So, they have a retrospective necessity. As this necessity is not intrinsic, it must be derivative and extrinsic -- implying the existence of an explanatory agency.
    3. Finally, nothing can act prior to its actual existence, so anything that is transitory must have been brought into actuality by something already operative/actual -- its explanation.

    Similarly, your justification for premise 6 does not convince me.Echarmion

    Could you say why you are not convinced? What you see as a lacuna? Or a counterexample?

    I do not see how a limited specification of acts can entail an indeterminate capacity to act, or how what a finite the is could entail that it is. At the very least all finite things we know seem to have come to be -- so what they are cannot necessitate that they are.

    When you earlier (and correctly, I think) noted that existence is always distinct from essence.Echarmion

    No, I said it was distinct for finite beings: "What limits is not what is limited, viz. existence, the bare capacity to act."

    The existence of a finite being might still be unlimited in time, for example.Echarmion

    Possibly, though we know of no examples. Still, infinite duration is not infinite capacity to act. The argument is existence has no intrinsic limitations -- to exist means that a thing can act in some indeterminate way in reality. A finite being's essence (the specification of its possible acts) limits this inderminate capacity, making it determinate. Since it is a limitation on existence, it can't entail existence. (If it did, every possible kind of thing would necessarily exist, and no finite being could cease to be.)

    Or finite beings might explain the existence of each other.Echarmion

    I addressed this by noting that any collection of finite beigns is finite.

    you never specify why the explanation for a being needs to be another beingEcharmion

    An explanation acts to effect the explans, and whatever acts, exists.
  • Dfpolis
    907
    Science does not require that literally everything have explanation. Science only requires that some things have explanation.Theologian

    I gave more arguments for this in my previous post to Echarmion. There I argued, inter alia, that if we allow exceptions to the universality of this postulate, the logic of science collapses. It is irrational to say that a foundational principle applies when I want it to apply and does not apply when I do not want it to apply.

    Much of physics, as an intellectual project, has been an attempt to determine the fundamental laws of the universe. If there are fundamental laws, by definition they are unexplained.Theologian

    Something being fundamental and unexplained within a science is not the same as having no explanation or not being explained simpliciter. The foundations of mathematics are examined in metamathematics and the foundations of physics by metaphysics. So, your point relates to how humans choose to structure their inquiries rather than to the nature of reality.

    at any one time there is a base level of explanation.Theologian

    This is not the sense in which I am using "explanation." I said:
    Note that “explanation” has two senses: (1) the fact(s) that make some state of affairs be as it is. (We may or may not know these.) This is the sense I am using. (2) Our attempt to articulate our understanding of (1). This is not the sense I am using here.

    I am not going to say that there are brute facts. I am going to say that it is not a self evident truth that there are not - and since you're the one offering the proof, the burden is on you.Theologian

    As noted earlier, I expanded on this in my response to Echarmion above. I gave two additional arguments there.

    If brute facts are not for you, you also do not seem to consider the possibility of antifoundationalist infinite regressTheologian

    I considered any collection of finite beings, which includes infinite regresses. Also, in my book, I show by mathematical induction that an infinite regress cannot give a complete explanation. I did not repeat that proof here as regresses do not arise in the argument. If you feel they do, please say at what point.

    Another unconsidered possibility here is that of an Escher-esque universe that is ontologically circular.Theologian

    (1) My argument uses exhaustion of possibilities by applying the Principle of Excluded Middle. If you feel that an Escheresque universe provides an alternative not covered by my application of excluded middle, please point out how I missed it.
    (2) Time travel, by whatever means, may relate to accidental or Humean-Kantian time-sequenced causality, but my argument makes no appeal to that type of causality. Rather, it deals with concurrent explanations. As such explanations (e.g. explanations by the laws of nature) deal with simultaneous operations, they are not susptible to temporal paradoxes or even the fact that time may not be defined at scales beyond the Planck time.

    I'm afraid I can't agree. To be human (or to be anything at all) is to exist.Theologian

    Yes, to be is to exist. That is a fact, not an explanation of the fact. What you have done is shift the emphasis (and so the meaning) from humanity to being. So, let me rephrase: My humanity explains my ability to think, but not my existence.

    Yes, even if one accepted this proof (which I don't) one must be careful about the implicit leap ...Theologian

    I am providing an existence proof, not a manual of natural theology. I did indicate how one can proceed to a number of divine attributes.

    You have a theory that can explain literally anything. It's the absolute antithesis of falsifiable.Theologian

    Falsifiability is a requirement applicable to the scientific or hypothetico-deductive method, not to strict deductions. It is no criticism of Godel's work to say that his conclusions are unfalsifiable. While it is irrational to posit a hypothesis that cannot be adequately tested, it is equally irrational to require falsifiability where it does not apply. We have a different, but well-defined method of examining deductions. We consider the truth of the premises and the validity of the logical moves. If both pass muster, the conclusion is true.
  • Dfpolis
    907
    3 is contrary to what most cosmologists believe, which is that the universe is infinite.andrewk

    While belief is not evidence, granting that the universe has an infinite extent, does not mean that it has infinite being, viz. the ability to do any possible act.

    4 and 5 are assertions of the existence of explanations, for which there is no logical need. The universe doesn't need an explanation.andrewk

    I find that strange in that you based your first objection on what cosmologists believe and all the cosmologists I know seek to explain the universe. I gave three reasons why phenomena need explanations in my response to Echarmion, above. Please explain why you object to them.

    Further, I find the insistence that God must be omnipotent unnecessarily limiting, given the well-trodden logical problems with the notion of omnipotence.andrewk

    The proof shows that there is an infinite being. What you call the infinite being is up to you. If you think that an infinite being is problematic, we can discuss that in an other thread, as this one is too busy for that digression. The same applies to the imago dei.

    As to the universe, what is changing can't be necessary.
  • Dfpolis
    907
    I don’t think you ought to appeal to Buddhism for support of this kind of argument. Buddhists only generally address the existence of God in order to dispute it (regardless of what universalists are inclined to say.)Wayfarer

    I suggest you look at F. Th. Stcherbatskv, Buddhist Logic.
  • Dfpolis
    907
    In other words your argument depends on a premise (finite entities can't explain themselves) that is shaky because it rests on the mistaken certainty that the finite can't explain itself.TheMadFool

    No, it rests on a proof, (not an assumption) that a finite being cannot explain its own existence. If you want to reject my argument, show why that proof fails.
  • Theologian
    160
    Lovecraft's theology does not begin and end with Cthulhu. The ultimate God in his pantheon is Azathoth, the blind idiot God.

    Look around you.

    Plausible, no?
  • Dfpolis
    907
    Why do believers need 'proof' ?fresco

    Believers do not need proofs. They are quite content without them. Thinkers need to examine beliefs rationally because, as Aristotle says at the beginning of his Metaphysics, "All humans, by nature desire to know."

    On the basis that 'proof', 'existence', 'thinghood', 'limit' and 'God' are all concepts with contextual utility, I suggest the main reason believers have for these (incestuous) word games is a 'belief reinforcement exercise' to shore up weaknesses in their 'utility insurance policy'.fresco

    Why would a rational person another's motives instead of their argument? Is truth no longer valued?
  • Dfpolis
    907
    A finite being outside of time has no need to explain its own existence, it is beyond causality, it just 'IS'.Devans99

    Assuming there is one, if it is timelessly, it is necessarily. This necessity is either intrinsic (in which case it is self-explaining), or it is derived (in which case it is explained by another). In either case, it has an explanation.

    I would argue that infinite (unlimited ability to act) is self-contradictory in a finite universe.Devans99

    I make no claim that the universe has infinite being.

    'square circles exist or they don't' - complete disjunction so true.Devans99

    Sentences need to be meaningful to be true or false. Non-referential sentences are neither.

    'The infinite exists' - contradictory (could a completely unlimited being exist in a finite universe?)Devans99

    I made no claim that God is "in" (limited to) the cosmos.

    it needs to be demonstrated that an infinite being is not a logical contradiction.Devans99

    Proving that x exists shows that it is not contradictory as one cannot instantiate a contradiction.
  • god must be atheist
    1.6k
    ↪Dfpolis Your main argument is:

    1. A finite entity can't explain itself
    So,
    2. There exists an infinite entity (God) that explains all finite entities
    TheMadFool

    There is no reason why everything explainable ultimately must be explained by somebody. That is a weakness in the argument. In other words, because an entity can't explain itself, it is not NECESSARY that something else be able to explain it.

    There is also the possibility that another finite thing can explain a certain finite thing, which is not itself. The argument does not allude to this very real possibility.
  • Dfpolis
    907
    I am a human; I have come into existence, will pass out of existence. But my component parts, matter, have not gone in-and-out of existencegod must be atheist

    You are a being, (an ostensible unity). Your parts are potential, not actual unities.

    Further, Greek atomism is long dead. There are no immutable atoma. The quanta constituting you came into being, most of them shortly after the big bang. If our present understanding of cosmology is correct, they will cease to be in a future big crunch. In the meantime, they are subject to quantum creation and annihilation processes.

    All existing humans exist.
    I am a human.
    Therefore I exist.
    god must be atheist

    Quite true. Now that we agree on the fact, by what dynamics do you exist?

    Your reasoning is wrong in he sense that humans exist in a temporal fashion. But they do exist when they do.god must be atheist

    I do not deny, but affirm, that humans exist when they exist. I went even further, saying that once they begin to exist, it is necessary that they exist then. So, I have no idea what point you're trying to make.

    The question is not about the fact, which we agree on, but on the dynamics behind the fact.

    Being human implies that you currently exist.god must be atheist

    This sentence seems to be causing some confusion. What I mean is that our humanity entails our capacity to think, but humanity does not entail that we exist. Of course being means that we exist, but being human does not entail existing.

    If specifications exist, then there is a creator.god must be atheist

    I do not mean "specification" in the sense of prior design. I mean it as a list of the powers we have -- as something that can be known, not as something used as a blueprint.
  • Dfpolis
    907
    What are we supposedly quoting if not a person?Terrapin Station

    Yes, religious texts use anthropomorphic language. I think that is natural, but I do not think that God is a person in the same way humans are, or that God has fits of emotion. I think most theologians in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition would agree.

    Yet, if God can do every possible act, God must be aware, for many possible acts require awareness. So, God is personal in the sense of being aware of reality.
  • Fooloso4
    1.1k
    Premise 6: A finite being cannot explain its own existence.Dfpolis

    This is where you should have started and ended. Positing an unexplained God as an explanation of what cannot be explained is conjuring.
  • Dfpolis
    907
    Yes, I was wondering what exactly Dfpolis has in mind by the term "being." Although if God is completely unlimited in ability to act the point becomes moot, since that would include the ability to act in all the ways that one would attribute to a sentient being.Theologian

    By "being" I mean what has the capacity to act in any way. Still, as I said to Terrapin Station, being aware is required to perform many possible acts, so we can conclude that infinite being entails some kind of awareness.
  • Theologian
    160

    There is a lot of stuff in this post I could (and may later) take issue with. But right now I want to cut to what I consider the heart of the matter.

    You argue that:

    Falsifiability is a requirement applicable to the scientific or hypothetico-deductive method, not to strict deductions. It is no criticism of Godel's work to say that his conclusions are unfalsifiable. While it is irrational to posit a hypothesis that cannot be adequately tested, it is equally irrational to require falsifiability where it does not apply. We have a different, but well-defined method of examining deductions. We consider the truth of the premises and the validity of the logical moves. If both pass muster, the conclusion is true.Dfpolis

    But to go back to your OP, your fourth premise states that:

    If a being exists, its explanation must exist.Dfpolis

    And you clarify that by explanation, you mean:

    the fact(s) that make some state of affairs be as it is.Dfpolis

    When I said that the completely unlimited was the antithesis of falsifiable, I did not simply mean that it could not be falsified scientifically.

    My point was and is that the completely unlimited is logically incapable of being the fact that makes some state of affairs be as it is. It is incapable of being that fact because by definition it is equally of making the same state of affairs not be as it is.

    Therefore, if there is something that makes the state of affairs be as it is, the completely unlimited is not it.

    Therefore we have only two logical possibilities:

    1. There is nothing that makes the state of affairs be (no explanation)
    2. There is always something other than the completely unlimited that makes the state of affairs be (other explanation).

    In either case, your proof falls apart.
  • Dfpolis
    907
    I agree with what you wrote but you might want to expand on it to fill in the holes. I'm going to put in my journal and analyze it line by line.christian2017

    Thank you. Posting it is a means of eliciting criticism.
  • god must be atheist
    1.6k
    I do not deny, but affirm, that humans exist when they exist. I went even further, saying that once they begin to exist, it is necessary that they exist then. So, I have no idea what point you're trying to make.Dfpolis

    But, being human does not imply that I exist.Dfpolis

    :Being human: is present tense affirmative (nominative). Human is being, and therefore the human exists.

    At one point you say that being human means the human exists, at another point you say being human means that the human does not exist.

    Would it be not easier to say "a being that had been does not exist, even if it had been a human when it had existed"? I exaggerated the tenses to make this obvious (although grammatically not totally cool.)
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