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The Efficient Causality Argument for God

Piano

All people notice that some things cause other things to be (to begin to be, to continue to be, or both). For example, a man playing the piano is causing the music that we hear. If he stops, so does the music.

Now ask yourself: Are all things caused to exist by other things right now? Suppose they are. That is, suppose there is no Uncaused Being, no God. Then nothing could exist right now. For remember, on the no-God hypothesis, all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist. So right now, all things, including all those things which are causing things to be, need a cause. They can give being only so long as they are given being. Everything that exists, therefore, on this hypothesis, stands in need of being caused to exist.

But caused by what? Beyond everything that is, there can only be nothing. But that is absurd: all of reality dependent—but dependent on nothing! The hypothesis that all being is caused, that there is no Uncaused Being, is absurd. So there must be something uncaused, something on which all things that need an efficient cause of being are dependent.

Existence is like a gift given from cause to effect. If there is no one who has the gift, the gift cannot be passed down the chain of receivers, however long or short the chain may be. If everyone has to borrow a certain book, but no one actually has it, then no one will ever get it. If there is no God who has existence by his own eternal nature, then the gift of existence cannot be passed down the chain of creatures and we can never get it. But we do get it; we exist. Therefore there must exist a God: an Uncaused Being who does not have to receive existence like us—and like every other link in the chain of receivers.

Question 1: Why do we need an uncaused cause? Why could there not simply be an endless series of things mutually keeping each other in being?

Reply: This is an attractive hypothesis. Think of a single drunk. He could probably not stand up alone. But a group of drunks, all of them mutually supporting each other, might stand. They might even make their way along the street. But notice: Given so many drunks, and given the steady ground beneath them, we can understand how their stumblings might cancel each other out, and how the group of them could remain (relatively) upright. We could not understand their remaining upright if the ground did not support them—if, for example, they were all suspended several feet above it. And of course, if there were no actual drunks, there would be nothing to understand.

This brings us to our argument. Things have got to exist in order to be mutually dependent; they cannot depend upon each other for their entire being, for then they would have to be, simultaneously, cause and effect of each other. A causes B, B causes C, and C causes A. That is absurd. The argument is trying to show why a world of caused causes can be given—or can be there—at all. And it simply points out: If this thing can exist only because something else is giving it existence, then there must exist something whose being is not a gift. Otherwise everything would need at the same time to be given being, but nothing (in addition to "everything") could exist to give it. And that means nothing would actually be.

Question 2: Why not have an endless series of caused causes stretching backward into the past? Then everything would be made actual and would actually be—even though their causes might no longer exist.

Reply: First, if the Kalam argument is right, there could not exist an endless series of causes stretching backward into the past. But suppose that such a series could exist. The argument is not concerned about the past, and would work whether the past is finite or infinite. It is concerned with what exists right now.

Even as you read this, you are dependent on other things; you could not, right now, exist without them. Suppose there are seven such things. If these seven things did not exist, neither would you. Now suppose that all seven of them depend for their existence right now on still other things. Without these, the seven you now depend on would not exist—and neither would you. Imagine that the entire universe consists of you and the seven sustaining you. If there is nothing besides that universe of changing, dependent things, then the universe—and you as part of it—could not be. For everything that is would right now need to be given being but there would be nothing capable of giving it. And yet you are and it is. So there must in that case exist something besides the universe of dependent things—something not dependent as they are.

And if it must exist in that case, it must exist in this one. In our world there are surely more than seven things that need, right now, to be given being. But that need is not diminished by there being more than seven. As we imagine more and more of them—even an infinite number, if that were possible—we are simply expanding the set of beings that stand in need. And this need—for being, for existence—cannot be met from within the imagined set. But obviously it has been met, since contingent beings exist. Therefore there is a source of being on which our material universe right now depends.
 
 
(Image credit: Playing Piano)

Dr. Peter Kreeft

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Dr. Peter Kreeft is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and a noted Catholic apologist and philosopher. He is a convert to the Catholic Church from reformed Protestantism. He earned an A.B. degree from Calvin College, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Fordham University, followed by post-doctoral work at Yale University. He is a regular contributor to several Christian publications, is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of over 60 books including Making Sense Out of Suffering (Servant, 1986); Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics (Ignatius, 1988); Catholic Christianity (Ignatius, 2001); The Unaborted Socrates: A Dramatic Debate on the Issues Surrounding Abortion (IVP, 2002); and The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings (Ignatius, 2005). Many of Peter's books are also integrated into the Logos software. Find dozens of audio talks, essays, and book excerpts at his website, PeterKreeft.com.

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  • Bob

    "A causes B, B causes C, and C causes A. That is absurd"

    Why absurd?

    I want to eat because I am hungry, I eat, I get hungry, I want to eat because I am hungry...etc...etc...etc...

    or

    I eat, I get hungry, I want to eat because I am hungry, I eat, etc...etc...etc...

    or even

    I get hungry, I want to eat because I am hungry, I eat, I get hungry, etc...etc...etc...

    Maybe not completely absurd, but I suppose ymmv...

    • Michael Murray

      It's different though. The cycle

      "A causes B, B causes C, and C causes A."

      is a causal loop. Yours is not as the second occurrence of getting hungry is at a different time to the first. Or you are having a really weird sort of day !

      • Bob

        I bit more specific...okay.

        2 objects in gravitational orbit around a central mass.

        What causes the motion of what?

        • Michael Murray

          I agree on the general idea that this whole causal business is silly. I do find causal loops weird though. But not logically impossible.

          • Bob

            I suppose it is in how you look at it. The assignment of causation for many things we deal with on a daily basis does seem pretty arbitrary at one level or another and of course, Feynmann diagrams do seem to provide pretty good models while ignoring causality entirely.

          • Michael Murray

            Is it just me or has he still failed to address the infinite chain of causality issue ? I keep seeing people make the claim that it is logically impossible but I don't see why. I know it's not likely because of the big bang but if we ignore that than I don't see what is wrong with a universe that has existed for ever and I am caused by something which is caused by something ... You don't need a first cause of everything you just need each thing to have a cause and it does.

          • Bob

            I think you are correct. However, when pressed, the next response will be something about sustaining causes versus accidental causes, so don't hop off just yet... :)

          • "Is it just me or has he still failed to address the infinite chain of causality issue?"

            If you had read the article carefully you would have known the answer:

            If there is no one who has the gift, the gift cannot be passed down the chain of receivers, however long or short the chain may be.

            The argument does not depend on a temporal or infinite universe, so why discuss the topic here? You're criticizing Dr. Kreeft for not discussing an irrelevant issue.

            "I keep seeing people make the claim that it is logically impossible but I don't see why."

            An actually infinite past is impossible because we cannot traverse an infinite series of events. If you're sincerely interested why, this short article should help:

            http://www.reasonablefaith.org/forming-an-actual-infinite-by-successive-addition

            "I know it's not likely because of the big bang but if we ignore that than [sic] I don't see what is wrong with a universe that has existed for ever...."

            Beyond the philosophical arguments against an actually infinite past (linked to above), you're right to suggest that mainstream Big Bang cosmology also contradicts an actually infinite past.

            Of course, you can defend almost any fringe belief by saying, "I know my theory is not likely, but if we ignore [strong defeater to my theory], then it may be!"

            Yet that's not how good thinkers reason. They consider all possibilities, measuring their likelihood and coherence without dismissing any evidence, and then they settle on the most likely explanation. Even bracketing the philosophical reasons against an infinite past, modern Big Bang cosmology provides remarkably strong, empirical proof against it. A temporal, and thus contingent, universe is the most probable hypothesis.

          • Logike

            But Brandon, there was no time at which matter and energy were not even even if the temporal series of events extending into the past is finite. Why? Because there was no time "before" time. Therefore, since there was no time at
            which matter and energy were not, there was no "coming to be" of matter and energy. And since, there was no "coming to be" of matter and energy," there was no need for a cause. That matter just IS, is a possibility the contingency argument has yet to rule out. The contingency argument is unsound.

            Also, to suppose like Craig does, that one can disprove the existence of an actual infinite by deriving a contradiction, is absurd because a reductio of the assumption of infinity would make infinity, not just actually impossible, but also logically impossible as well. But if infinity is logically impossible, then infinity is also mathematically impossible since mathematical and physical possibility are subsets of logical possibility (not the other way around). So, something is seriously wrong with Craig's argument here, because the impossibility of mathematical infinity is not a result mathematicians will readily accept.

            Further, if a past beginningless series of events is impossible, then so is a future endless series of events. So Craig not biting the bullet here would be an instance of special pleading his case.

            See:
            http://spot.colorado.edu/~morristo/EndlessFuture.pdf

          • Logike

            "An actually infinite past is impossible because we cannot traverse an infinite series of events."

            --We cannot traverse an infinite series events because we are finite creatures with limitations. That doesn't mean the series of events is not actually infinite. We cannot travel the speed of light either. That doesn't mean the speed of light doesn't exist.

            I'm curious, do you think an endless series of future events is impossible too? It seems perfectly conceivable time will keep moving forward into the future. So why not the past?

          • Michael Murray

            This is my problem. An infinite past does not require me to traverse it. I can think of and describe all kinds of infinite sets without needing to go through them element by element. Indeed if they are uncountable I can prove that I can't go through them element by element.

          • Logike

            Exactly.

          • John Paul

            "An infinite past does not require me to traverse it."

            -- How can an past-infinite set ever become the "now" that one experiences if the past-infinite is truly an infinite-set and not a limit? [OR] Maybe for you, by even saying "the past", one is assuming conception (of time) over being (of time) such that in this model, an infinite-set merely contains each moment such that there is no need for the "now", no need for past or future, and one could do away with the division and still maintain the set. But if this is true, then the next question is, why the infinite at all? Things may be relational to each other, but how did these events come to be at all?

          • Logike

            Why would anyone suppose all past times become times other then what they are? This is dumb. At no time does 2009 become 2010. 2009 is "always" 2009.

          • John Paul

            "We cannot traverse an infinite series events because we are finite creatures with limitations. That doesn't mean the series of events is not actually infinite."

            -- I want to understand the semantics correctly here. [1] Are you stipulating that a finite creature would (or even could "attempt" to traverse) an past-infinite set? [I bring this up because of the later speed of light statement] [OR] [2] Are you stipulating that even if the infinite set is "thrust" upon the finite set, this traversing cannot occur because of the limitation? [OR] [3] Neither? In [1], if our finite-ness is dependent upon the infinite set already existing, it seems more to be a logical impossibility rather than a limitation. If the second, how could the "present" logically exist, if the past is truly infinite (and not infinitesimally since there can be a limit of an infinite set, but an actual infinite set)? [OR] If the third, then explain.

            "We cannot travel the speed of light either. That doesn't mean the speed of light doesn't exist."

            -- Unless I misunderstood your point, this analogy seems to be weak in that the question of [1] infinite past-time asks how can we exist in the present if the conditions of past-infinity actually exist [ontology] whereas [2] the speed of light analogy has nothing to do with our existence but rather with our deductions about light, and that has nothing to do with our inherent existence [ontology & epistemology] (i.e. Captain Hook doesn't have to move at the speed of light "to exist" or even "to know that the speed of light exists," but in order for Captain Hook to exist now, if an infinite past exists, an infinite past must have "traversed" him, but if it is truly an infinite past, than it is also logically impossible for this past to have traversed him because that infinite set does not have a limit, and thus can never become "now".

          • Logike

            I am not sure why this disturbs you so. The reason a finite creature cannot traverse all temporal points is that it would die before doing so. Similarly with the speed of light. As as soon as the creature accelerated up to speeds close to that of light, the creature would turn to pure energy and its body dissolving--thus again, dying before it accomplished its task.

            Beware of Craig: A reductio of the assumption of infinity would make infinity, not just
            actually impossible, but also logically impossible as well. But if
            infinity is logically impossible, then infinity is also mathematically
            impossible since mathematical and physical possibility are subsets of
            logical possibility (not the other way around). So, something is
            seriously wrong with Craig's argument here, because the impossibility of
            mathematical infinity is not a result mathematicians will readily
            accept. Please do your homework on Craig's peer-reviewed opponents who rather effectively show his errors:
            http://spot.colorado.edu/~morristo/EndlessFuture.pdf

          • Michael Murray

            The second paragraph of Logike's reply has covered what I would have said had I woken up earlier.

            http://strangenotions.com/the-efficient-causality-argument-for-god/#comment-1618262442

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Accidentally-ordered chains are perfectly able to regress without limit, as Aquinas pointed out. It is the essentially-ordered chain that must have a first cause and hence cannot regress without limit.
            These might help:
            http://www.phc.edu/gj_6_martin_e_aquinas.php
            http://www.academia.edu/4415427/There_Must_Be_A_First_Why_Thomas_Aquinas_Rejects_Infinite_Essentially_Ordered_Causal_Series

          • Logike

            And what evidence is there that the persistence of matter is an essentially-ordered, rather than an accidentally-ordered, chain? --None.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Persistence is not a thing in the first place. What is its length, mass, duration, candlepower, current, temperature, or moles of substance?

          • Logike

            So? The persistence of matter does not have to be a "thing" to be necessary. Matter is not a thing. But things are composed of matter and form, with matter still being necessary. So, another way of saying the same thing would be that the essentially ordered series of things are necessary vis-a-vis their existence (because matter is necessary), and contingent vis-a-vis their form (length, duration, current, temperature, or moles of substance).

          • John Paul

            "If the persistence of matter is an essentially-ordered chain, it is perfectly possible that the persistence of matter itself is the first cause of this chain. Matter just IS."

            --But this assumes a brute fact about the ontology of matter as being self-explanatory or self-existing (ontologically) when no reason is given to accept that brute fact itself. It's no more helpful than saying, for example, that [1] matter just is (eternal) because God made it that way. One can say that matter just is or that God made matter to be just is, but there is no sufficient reason to one over the accept either. Sure, the inclusion of God adds a variable to the brute fact, but this is no more satisfying to the atheist than the exclusion is to the theist because the reason to accept either of these is not "verifiable" (under this model of a brute state). Against, all the possible variations of brute facts, one cannot choose one to be greater than the other, and under essential chains, it does not to fit the rational and empirical model that matter and energy "are in" or even "came to be" in existence in and of themselves. Sure, there may be forces and laws and fields that make for a conducive environment for matter and energy to exist, but even these only push the question back one step further. Why these laws at all? And then, we're back to a similar dilemma of choosing between brute facts.

            [I.e. Hook says: "Some laws of the universe are eternal and absolute OR are relative to their universe."
            Peter responds: "Ok, Hook, but why?"
            Hook: Well, that question isn't relevant anymore; the laws just are."
            Peter: "Sure, it's relevant; logic might have something beyond this brute fact than that which our current schema can offer."
            Hook: "I think not."
            Peter: "Well, I think so."

            Aside from being unsatisfying (although satisfaction is often external to logic), that's not sufficiently reasonable in and of itself. Additionally, even in this model, God still could have made those laws to be the way that they are: eternal. He could have just caused it to be "that" way. But, on what grounds would the atheist accept this? The limitations of our knowledge can just as easily make the theist question the atheist's (or to be fair, agnostic's) same appeal to the "brute fact" that they have devised (devised might be the wrong word here; it might be better to say "that they have found to be the most convincing under their model."

            "It could also be the case that the persistence of matter is an accidentally ordered chain, so that no first cause is required."

            -- Again, I think that the appeal to accept this brute fact as accidentally happening [i.e. (X) over (Y)] is neither evident nor convincing. The usefulness of induction and empiricism (i.e. in medicine) seems to point to essentially ordered chains and thus gives some credence to selecting brute models from that chain rather than accidental ones. It's not a necessary relationship, but epistemology, it seems to be a more accurate and reliable starting point in that we have induced and reaped the benefits of this acceptance in science, history, and language, to name a few fields.

          • Logike

            "But this assumes a brute fact about the ontology of matter as being self-explanatory or self-existing (ontologically"

            --I don't assume anything. I demonstrate it. Notice, matter/energy change vis-a-vis their form, but remain the same vis-a-vis their existence. Now, contingent beings are beings which either at one time were not or might not have been. But at no time did matter/energy not exist. Matter/energy exist at all times. Also, even the supposition of matter/energy being created or destroyed at all is absurd because the notion supposes a kind of "magic" and is contrary to our actual experience. That matter never suddenly materializes is an empirically well-supported inductive generalization from our experience, and there is no evidence to the contrary. Therefore, matter/energy are probably not contingent, and thus good candidates for existing necessarily.

            The burden of proof, therefore, shifts to the theist who supposes the persistence (existence) matter/energy is "contingent." I see no reason at all for thinking this.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "this whole causality business is silly"
            There goes science.

          • Can you cite one argument or response to a post which has been proposed by quantum fields and not by a discrete thing? If these posts and responses are essentially due to quantum fields, in what sense can they be considered to express incompatible views?

          • Can you cite one argument or response to a post which has been proposed by quantum fields and not by a discrete thing? If these posts and responses are essentially due to quantum fields, in what sense can they be considered to express incompatible views? I think you or someone sharing your views should write a post on the concept and purpose of argumentation.

          • Michael Murray

            Sorry I don't really understand the question. Are you wondering how I, as a person posting on this website, can be made up of quantum fields ?

          • If the universe is a collection of quantum fields and not discrete entities, I could concede that sets of phenomena could arise, which could be labeled intelligent agents, but
            not in the sense of individual entities. I could concede that such agents could compose arguments, which could be labeled as incompatible with one another. However, I could not see any basis for identifying any argument as true or
            false. In my judgment every argument would be equally justified as phenomena arising from quantum fields. What would it mean to say that the conclusion of an argument is true? Absent these concessions, if what fundamentally exists is a collection of quantum fields: What is an argument?

            The reason I do not make any such concessions is that all of my knowledge is necessarily based on my immediate experience of the properties of individual entities, including force fields such as light and gravity. Through instrumentation I know of the existence of non-visible electromagnetic force fields. No one can deny the existence of discrete entities based on instrumentally obtained knowledge of force fields. That would be a self-contradiction, because the validity of instrumentally obtained knowledge depends upon the validity of immediate experience.

            In my view, it is a red-herring to discuss causal series as does this OP, http://catholicstand.com/taking-aquinas-serieslessly/

          • "It's hard to believe we are really going to go through this again."

            Do you agree, in general, that it's worth correcting misunderstanding if they persist? Some conversations are worth having more than once--especially about important topics.

            "I haven't been banned but I am definitely getting tired."

            Sorry you find the site so distasteful, Michael. It makes me curious why you come back everyday. Nobody is forcing you to comment here. If the website tires you, feel free to visit other sites you find more invigorating.

            "As best we can tell the universe is a collection of quantum fields. It is not a collection of discrete things about which it makes sense to say "these things are dependent on these other things for being". So the article fails at the outset."

            We can easily adapt Dr. Kreeft's points to quantum fields. Quantum fields are contingent. They do not exist out of necessity, and they have not existed from eternity. Therefore they require a source of their being.

          • ChrisDeStefano

            I am also curious to hear Michael's response as to why he continually visits this site and posts on nearly every article even though he proposes that to much of the same old material is being used.

          • Mike

            Because he enjoys the Cheers-like familiarity ;)

          • Michael Murray

            Hhm. I didn't know what Cheers. Not being in the US. It's a sitcom about what I think you would call a "bar". Right ? Personally I think I'm fonder of this pub. More religious people

            http://www.jesusandmo.net/2007/05/14/mock/

          • Mike

            LOVE IT! Very edgy!

          • David Nickol

            I think we are all aware that if we do not enjoy participating in forums like this, we are under no obligation to do so. It seems to me that raising questions about why others post is a veiled suggestion that they should go away. People post in forums like this primarily because they enjoy it, with the possible exception of those who feel called upon to proselytize (either for or against religious belief), and probably even their primary motive is enjoyment.

            The potential payoff in asking "Why post here?" is probably greater if each commenter asks it of himself or herself rather than asking it of other commenters.

          • ChrisDeStefano

            I don't disagree with anything you said there. However, Michael stated he is growing tired of the articles that he claims are beating a dead horse which shows to me he no longer enjoys the content. I come to the site because I find the articles very enlightening and most of the time I find the discussion to be fruitful. ....so that is my personal reason for visiting. If I went to a restaurant and told the cook his menu is terrible I would just go to a new resteraunt as there are no shortage of options. Wouldn't it be a little cynical of me to keep coming back and voicing to other people in the restaurant how bad the food is? Would it be wrong for the head cook to suggest that there is plenty of other resteraunts in town?

          • ChrisDeStefano

            Also, I want to clearly state there is no "veiled" suggestion in my comment that Michael should leave. While I don't agree with many of his points he is clearly intelligent and makes good points for discussion. Clearly on a website that brings up hot button issues differing opinions are necessary and welcome. I can only speak for my self in stating my re iteration of Brandon's question is simply me being curious. Also he still has a problem with what he perceives as unfair banning of former members and it also sounds like he grew tired of the content a while ago so the question seems fair.

          • David Nickol

            I do not pretend to speak for Michael, but if he is saying Strange Notions is overdoing the arguments that there must be an "uncaused cause" (who is God), then I agree with him. This particular post is "déjà vu all over again." Anyone who comes to this site for the posts would probably be better off devoting that time to reading a few good books. With some notable exceptions, it's the comments, not the articles, that make the site worthwhile.

            Let me add that I think it would be very difficult to come up with consistently greats posts, since often what is needed is a sustained argument, and nobody is going to read book-length posts on a site like this. I think an occasional "book club" selection might be worthwhile, with ample time given in advance for those who want to fully participate to read the book. (Of course, picking the right book would be very difficult, too!)

          • ChrisDeStefano

            I would actually be all for the idea of selecting a book for discussion. Count me in!

          • Michael Murray

            With some notable exceptions, it's the comments, not the articles, that make the site worthwhile.

            That is a pretty good summary of what I feel as well. I have to confess to not reading the articles in great detail very often.

            The book club idea is interesting.

          • Michael Murray

            (Of course, picking the right book would be very difficult, too!)

            Obviously Sam Harris new book Waking Up ?

            One solution to picking the book would be an open thread where anyone can propose a book they are reading and say why they find it interesting, annoying, frustrating, wonderful, life-changing ... . Then a discussion may or may not ensue.

          • Michael Murray

            I don't see that the restaurant example really works for very reasons. Not least that you pay for a meal in a restaurant ! So let's leave that.

            This site started out widely advertised as a place for dialogue between atheists and theists. I have occasionally complained about the articles not being fit for that purpose from the very beginning. The response is usually one of "you post here a lot for someone who doesn't like it", "why don't you go somewhere you like", "articles are hard to get why don't you write one". The first two of these seem rather childish so I will just ignore them. The third is a fair point although only to my complaint about a lack of atheist articles not to my complaint about a lack of theist articles that will make an atheist think.

            There is a great difference between an apologist article written to lift the spirits of fellow theists and an article written to provoke thought amongst atheists.

            I wonder if Sean Carroll has ever been approached to write an atheist article for Strange Notions ? He has a Catholic background I think and this blog post here covers material we regularly go over here

            http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2014/10/03/ten-questions-for-the-philosophy-of-cosmology/

            See I do go elsewhere on the internet :-) !

            In any case the answer to your question is that even though I criticise the selection of articles (a) I enjoy the comments -- there are some very clever people here, (b) I naively think there might be a few lurkers I can reach with my comments (c) I think someone should try to represent the atheist, materialist, whatever it is I am on "side". There aren't many here anymore. Most of them after banning decamped to

            http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com

            There where some very smart an articulate people amongst them and this site is greatly diminished by their banning.

            Andre B, Andrew G, Argon, Articulett, Ben Posin, BenS, Danny Getchell, Epeeist, felixcox, Geena Safire, Gwen, Ignorant Amos, Jonathan West, josh, MichaelNewsham, Mike A, Noah Luck, M. Solange O'Brien, Paul Boillot, picklefactory, Ray Vorkin, Renard Wolfe, Rob Tisinai, stanz2reason, Stjepan Marusic, Susan, Zen Druid.

          • ChrisDeStefano

            Michael,

            I find it interesting you call some comments directed to you as "childish" especially when you mention how this site is greatly diminished by those who were banned. None of their comments come off as childish within the "estranged notions" blog? I could pull quite a few examples in here as it seems they like to copy paste and scrutinize people's comments on their blog. To each his own I suppose.

          • Michael Murray

            None of their comments come off as childish within the "estranged notions" blog?

            Did I say claim that ? Did I say that everything that these posters have ever typed deserved a Pulitzer Prize ? Did I say they were never silly buggers. I don't think so.

            You might usefully compare the approach to moderation and banning on that blog to this one. Bannings are few and far between and reasons for them can all be seen in the special Moderation Actions thread. Here bannings of atheists are disproportionately common (in my opinion) but nobody can actually tell me the precise relative numbers.

          • John Paul

            "There is a great difference between an apologist article written to lift the spirits of fellow theists and an article written to provoke thought amongst atheists."

            -- I agree with this point. I think articles with more depth and content would go a long way (especially pieces that are 5-20 pages in length, especially when it comes to the finer and more minute points. Maybe there'd be some publishing litigation to go through, but I think it would help to cultivate a more academic dialogue. That said, it does seem like there can be a lot of passive aggressive fighting at times that results from a lack of depth, and it can be really off-putting. [1] One might not want to respond the hinted annoyance or aggression because then it might seem like one didn't have anything intelligent to say in return but [2] keeping the conversation going, with someone who constantly belittles the other, isn't enjoyable or intellectual to read or respond to. I think it would be interesting to see Sean Carroll in dialogue with Father Barron (although I have no idea where Carroll relationship to Catholicism would have any heavy credence), but it might be best to stick with what's already out there academically, because dialogues like that, when good, take a long time to respond to back and forth (and not in snippets).

          • Michael Murray

            Do you agree, in general, that it's worth correcting misunderstanding if they persist?

            Exactly. You have also answered the "why does Michael keep posting" question!

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Why do you think quantum fields are not contingent on anything for their existence?

          • Michael Murray

            Why would I think they are ?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Feser argues that quantum physicists leave out causality in their mathematicization of the quantum world and so do not capture its full reality in a similar way that a black and white illustrator leaves color out of his product (Scholastic Metaphysics pp. 122 ff.)

          • Michael Murray

            Scholastic Methaphysics isn't a peer-reviewed physics journal I've heard of.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "this whole causality business is silly..."
            There goes science.

        • Michael Murray

          Right. I also see no reason to suppose there couldn't be a universe in which nothing existed but a central mass and 2 objects going around it. Forever. Where is the logical requirement for a first causer ? Or any causer ?

          • Bob

            Indeed.

          • "I also see no reason to suppose there couldn't be a universe in which nothing existed but a central mass and 2 objects going around it."

            Because those objects would be contingent. Mass is contingent (it doesn't have to be), and the two objects are certainly contingent because they could be other than what they are (i.e., larger or smaller, objects made of different substance, etc.)

            "Forever."

            Just adding the word "forever" to an imagined hypothetical doesn't make it metaphysically possible. If we ever observed such a hypothetical world--as we do ours--then the world could not have been eternally in existence for the same reasons given above. If we cannot observe such a universe, then it's not analogous to our universe in the relevant way.

          • Good point Brandon. Unless the masses are not contingent but necessary. The God solution is also a hypothesis, and tacking on the term "necessary" or "uncaused" to this proposed cause of all matter does not mean it must be that way.

          • Logike

            "Mass is contingent (it
            doesn't have to be),"

            --Who says? I can see why someone would think the mass of this particular object is contingent, because masses of objects can change. I can gain and lose physical parts to my body over time, for instance. So, the mass of my body changes. But is this a reason for thinking the existence of mass itself is contingent? I doesn't seem so. I have never witnessed mass or matter materialize, and neither have you. For all we know, mass never came to be.

          • John Paul

            "Therefore, it could be the case that matter just IS."

            -- Note: I responded to this--the nature of epistemology, ontology, and the acceptance of a brute fact--above, but as I'm posting after most of these exchanges have occured I'm not sure how that plays out on Disqus.

          • Logike

            "I responded to this--the nature of epistemology, ontology, and the acceptance of a brute fact"

            --I'm not so sure your response was substantive. My reasons for thinking matter/energy is not contingent are threefold: (1) Notice, matter/energy change vis-a-vis their form, but remain the same vis-a-vis their existence. (2) Though contingent beings are beings which either at one time were not or might not have been, it is true to say that at no time did matter/energy not exist. Matter/energy exist at all times. (3) Even the supposition of matter/energy being created or destroyed at all is absurd because it is contrary to our actual experience. That matter never suddenly materializes is an empirically well-supported inductive generalization from our experience, and there is no evidence to the contrary. Therefore, matter/energy are probably not contingent, and thus good candidates for existing necessarily.

            The burden of proof, therefore, shifts to the theist who supposes the persistence (existence) matter/energy is "contingent." I see no reason at all for thinking this.

          • Mike

            Are you hoping that we discover that there is no god of any kind that you are just a pile of atoms destined for the heat death of the universe, nothing more nothing less?

          • Martin Sellers

            A true skeptic would not "wish" for one outcome over the other.

          • Mike

            Ok but i am asking you what you hope for, just answer honestly.

          • Martin Sellers

            I wouldn't consider myself a "true skeptic" in the strictly scientific sense- I value faith and reason.

            But in answer to your question, yes I think the notion of a designed universe over chaos is much more appealing.

          • Mike

            Thank you...that's a big admission in my experience with engaging atheists bc i think they think it means they're secretly for god but i don't think it says that at all; it's just another piece of "evidence" in the pile.

          • Michael Murray

            What has hope got to do with anything ? The universe is what it is. It doesn't care what I hope for. All the evidence I see suggests that your description is accurate though.

          • Mike

            Hope has alot to do with it bc after all we are NOT machines we are human BEINGS and so it is the most NATURAL thing to LIVE not to ANALYZE; that's why ultimatly christianity is NOT a philosophy but as they say a relationship a WAY OF LIFE; remember either way you're going to die one day so why not even if there is only a 1 in 1 billion chance of finding it go out on a quest for that one thing that will "save" you from eternal nothingness?

          • Logike

            Ahem. A universe in which nothing existed is an empty space-time container, which is impossible according to Einstein because there is no space-time without matter. I don't know about you, but I can't conceive a cosmos that was not a cosmos.

            On the other hand, if we are conceiving of a universe without space-time and matter altogether, what exactly are we conceiving? Nothing at all? Perhaps a possible world of immaterial minds and no matter? Ok, but now we are conceiving a matter-less world without matter. We aren't conceiving a material world that didn't exist at all. It's beyond my ability to conceive existing matter not existing.

            As to the most poignant question, whether matter might not have existed in the first place--I have no way of answering. The idea of matter coming to be or getting destroyed sounds absurd to me. So I would be inclined to say matter necessarily exists. It seems rather arbitrary to say that god, but not matter, has this property of necessary existence--which is exactly the problem with both the Ontological argument and Contingency argument. They beg the question that existence is indeed a necessary feature of God and not of matter.

          • Michael Murray

            I did say a universe with three things a central mass and two bodies going around it. The phrase was "nothing but ..."

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            On the other hand, if we are conceiving of a universe without space-time and matter altogether, what exactly are we conceiving? ... Perhaps a possible world of immaterial minds and no matter?

            Let's leave angels out of this for now.
            ++++
            Augustine wrote: "With the motion of creatures, time began to run its course. It is idle to look for time before creation, as if time can be found before time." Someone paraphrased this up above, where Einstein seconded the notion. Space and time were metaphysical intrusions into an empirical physics, they are the consequence of matter, not a receptacle in which matter could "poof."

            But recall that Aquinas assumed the eternity of the world precisely because he did not accept the muslim "kalam" argument for its beginning in time. Understand, he believed the world had had a beginning in time, but was not convinced there was a philosophical basis for it, and would not accept religious belief in a philosophical argument. He also rejected the ontological argument, though on existentialist grounds.

            Interestingly, he also noted in passing the possibility that there could be many worlds, either successively or in parallel to our own, in which the "ordering" of those worlds would not be compatible with ours.

            Although this order of things be restricted to what now exists, the divine power and wisdom are not thus restricted. Whence, although no other order would be suitable and good to the things which now are, yet God can do other things and impose upon them another order.
            -- Summa theologica Part I, Q25, Art.5, reply obj. 3

            And he allowed that accidentally-ordered series could well regress without limit:

            In efficient causes it is impossible to proceed to infinity per se—thus, there cannot be an infinite number of causes that are per se required for a certain effect; for instance, that a stone be moved by a stick, the stick by the hand, and so on to infinity.
            But it is not impossible to proceed to infinity "accidentally" as regards efficient causes...
            -- Summa theologica Part I, Q46, Art.2, reply obj. 7

            +++++

            They beg the question that existence is indeed a necessary feature of God and not of matter.

            How is the question begged? (Or do you mean "they raise the question that....")

            That God's essence is equivalent to his existence is a conclusion of Part I, Q.3, Art.4 in Summa theologica
            http://dhspriory.org/thomas/summa/FP/FP003.html#FPQ3A4THEP1
            or of Book I, Ch. 22 of Contra gentiles
            http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles1.htm#22
            and in digest form in Compend. theol. Part I, Treat. 1, ch. 11:
            http://dhspriory.org/thomas/Compendium.htm#11

            If you could please indicate where the question is begged, we would appreciate it.

            +++++++

            Matter without form is pure potency, and as such does not exist in a physical/empirical sense. Heisenberg equated it with mass-energy, and noted that:

            “[T]he atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.”
            which coincides with the Aristotelian view -- although Heisenberg credited Plato. He also wrote:

            “[T]he smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense; they are forms, ideas which can be expressed unambiguously only in mathematical language.”

          • Logike

            "They beg the question that existence is indeed a necessary feature of God and not of matter. How is the question begged? (Or do you mean "they raise the question that....")"

            --I already gave you arguments for the necessary persistence of matter--a competitor to god--for which you continually refuse to engage.

            "That God's essence is equivalent to his existence is a conclusion of Part I, Q.3, Art.4 in Summa theologica
            http://dhspriory.org/thomas/su...
            or of Book I, Ch. 22 of Contra gentiles
            http://dhspriory.org/thomas/Co...
            and in digest form in Compend. theol. Part I, Treat. 1, ch. 11:
            http://dhspriory.org/thomas/Co...

            --I'm tired of your appeals to authority. Unpack these references for us, please, and explain how it applies to what I said. I, too, can post references to contemporary peer-reviewed arguments that back my point here against Aquainas' contingency argument. The argument is unsound because the persistence (not the organization!) of matter is a competitor with god--something Aquainas never even addressed! See the following:

            http://www.amazon.com/There-Something-Rather-than-Nothing/dp/0199288666

            http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-4975.1997.tb00523.x/abstract

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "They beg the question that existence is indeed a necessary feature of God and not of matter. How is the question begged? (Or do you mean "they raise the question that....")"

            --I already gave you arguments for the necessary persistence of matter--a competitor to god--for which you continually refuse to engage.

            My question was whether you had misused the phrase "beg the question" and I asked where you thought they had included the conclusion among their premises.

            You supplied a tautology based on the timeliness of causation. But since time is a consequence of matter, it is trivially true that there was never a time when there was no matter. But what has that to do with the creation of matter, given that creation is not an "event" within time?

            Also, how would an eternally existing world be a "competitor" for "god," let alone for God. Please show how you deduce the necessary attributes.
            ++++++

            "That God's essence is equivalent to hi s existe nce is a conclusion of Part I, Q.3, Art.4 in Summa theologica, etc.

            --I'm tired of your appeals to authority. Unpack these references for us, please, and explain how it applies to what I said. I, too, can post references to cont emporary peer-reviewed arguments that back my point here against Aquainas' contingency argument.

            Do you really expect to run through several pages of argument in a blog comment? Footnotes and references are not appeals to authority any more than a link to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is.

            The links are specific to the question of the equivalence of God's essence with his existence, not the argument from contingency.

            Of course, there are many Moderns who publish peer-reviewed papers disagreeing with Aquinas. Otherwise, they would not be Moderns and would not get to sit at the Kool Kids table.

          • Logike

            "But what has that to do with the creation of matter, given that creation is not an "event" within time?"

            --Creation is indeed an event within time. It's just not an event in time at the first moment of time. It is certainly not an event outside time because creation presupposes time. So the very notion itself is bogus as applied to the first moment of time.--That's the point. Creation, in terms of matter reorganizing its parts, is a feature after the first moment in time.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Creation is indeed an event within time.

            Not when time itself is one of the creatures.

            It's just not an event in time at the first moment of time.

            There is no "first moment" of time.

            It is certainly not an event outside time because creation presupposes time.

            No, it does not. When in the timeline of Hamlet did Shakespeare create the play?

            Creation, in terms of matter reorganizing its parts, is a feature after the first moment in time.

            Creation is not the rearrangement of matter.

            I think you are objecting to some grade school simplification. That may be fine for children and for those who lack the time, skill, or interest to delve deeper, but it is not an objection to the actual dogma.

          • Logike

            "Creation is not the rearrangement of matter."

            --Yes it is. The concept of "creation" makes no sense without time because it is an empirical, not an a priori, concept. I challenge you to define what it means "to create X" in your private meaning--whatever it is--without making use of ordinary empirical notions of causality. If you can't analyze the concept without presupposing empirical concepts, your concept of it is empty of anything you may *think* is in it. Sorry, buddy. You can't expect a free ride with your own private language and expect anyone to be convinced by it.

            "I think you are objecting to some grade school simplification"
            --Clearly, we need an analysis of empirical concepts here, otherwise one's opponent could very well be speaking gibberish and two parties talking past one another.

            "Creation is indeed an event within time.
            -Not when time itself is one of the creatures."

            --So creation of time happens outside time? Time would then be outside time, which doesn't make any sense.

            "It's just not an event in time
            at the first moment of time."
            --So creation is not in time the first moment of time. Makes perfect sense!

            "No, it does not."
            --Yes it does, for the reason of the nonsense you've found yourself stuck in above.

            "When in the timeline of Hamlet did Shakespeare create the play?"
            --Cute. But this doesn't help analyze the concept. The fact remains Shakespeare created the play in time. Time is necessary to create anything at all. And the timeline in Hamlet is a fiction.

            "but it is not an objection to the actual dogma."

            --On the contrary: if your concept is self-referentially inconsistent, your concept is meaningless.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "Creation is not the rearrangement of matter."
            --Yes it is. The concept of "creation" makes no sense without time because it is an empirical, not an a priori, concept. I challenge you to define what it means "to create X" in your private meaning

            a) It's not a private meaning, but one generally agreed upon by theologians. See e.g., http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p4.htm; esp. 296-297.

            b) Creation is the joining of an essence to an act of existence; that is, willing something to be in the first place.

            What ID proponents fall into is giving the idea that God can only work in the same mode as natural causes. In reality God's ways of operating far transcend natural causes, including human ways. Whereas humans make new things by pushing around matter that already exists, God creates, that is, He brings something from nothing. The fact that there is a natural order at all is His work. Human making relies on a pre-existing order, but God is responsible for the entire order that pervades his creations, including the possibility of generating further order. .... They leave unchallenged the atheist premise that creating is just like making, and in doing so, they leave their readers to tacitly accept that faulty premise.
            -- Lawrence Gage
            http://realphysics.blogspot.com/2008/06/phillip-johnson-put-down-that-kool-aid.html

            Creation should be thought of, not according to the model of the craftsman who makes all sorts of objects, but rather in the manner that thought is creative. And at the same time it becomes evident that being-in-movement as a whole (and not just the beginning) is creation...
            -- Benedict XVI

          • Logike

            "It's not a private meaning, but one generally agreed upon by theologians."

            --Unfortunately, a biased consensus on conceptual nonsense doesn't make the nonsense anymore clear. See above. And your quote from Gage amounts to saying "creation is not like anything we've ever experienced" which is what I've been saying all along. This is not illuminating whatsoever.

            "Creation should be thought of, not according to the model of the craftsman who makes all sorts of objects, but rather in the manner that thought is creative."

            --This won't work because thought, as we know it, is creative only by means of matter. Thought doesn't create matter; it only organizes pre-existiing matter. Your pretended analogies are not actually analogies. You can only speak in really bad metaphors. Again, not illuminating.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "It's not a private meaning, but one generally agreed upon by theologians."
            --Unfortunately, a biased consensus on conceptual nonsense doesn't make the nonsense anymore clear.

            You keep insisting that creation is just moving matter around and claimed that the standard idea of creation as ex nihilo and continuo is somehow my personal notion.

          • Logike

            Ok, well, I have been requesting a conceptual analysis of your meaning of "creation" from the start, so I had expected you to provide one--either from you, or from your fellow theoloojuns. No satisfactory analysis has yet been forthcoming, so . . . the word, as you are using it, appears to be meaningless.

          • Logike

            "Matter without form is pure potency,"

            --This is just your stipulation. And even if I agreed that matter is pure potency without form, this still doesn't address my argument. For, it is quite conceivable, and even likely, that the persistence of matter never changes since no one has ever witnessed matter being created or destroyed. And something whose persistence never changes does not require a cause for that persistence. Are you ever going to actually engage my arguments? Or are you going to continually miss the point?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            something whose persistence never changes does not require a cause for that persistence.

            a) Of course, it is change (kinesis) that requires a mover. See Newton's first law or the major premise of Aquinas' argument from "motion."

            b) Material things are in continual kinesis: decaying into lead, whirling around stars, combining into salts, plummeting to points of minimal potential, evaporating and precipitating, chasing gazelles, blossoming, and so on.

            c) Matter was defined by the Aristotelians and Scholastics as "that which persists through change" by Aristotle and his successors; so it is no great astonishment if you go along with them.

            d) But this also means that primary matter is never something ("some thing") unless it takes on a given form -- say, the form of a quark or the form of a petunia. And it is this that requires something outside itself.

          • Logike

            How do (a) through (d) at all debunk what I said, much less address it? I AGREE material things are in constant kinesis. Material things gain and lose parts through time, and reorganize into various combinations only to fall apart again. But the persistence of matter/energy as such never changes, which is strong reason to believe matter necessarily exists--a consequence the Aristotelians and Scholastics did NOT recognize: Contra Aquainas from Stanford: "What has
            necessary existence is causally independent. Matter has necessary existence, for though it undergoes change, the given volume of matter found in the universe persists, and as persisting matter does not have or need a cause. This accords with the Principle of Conservation of Mass-Energy, according to which matter and energy are never lost but
            rather transmute into each other. As indestructible, then, matter is the necessary being. Hence, though the material components of the universe are contingent vis-à-vis their form, they are necessary vis-à-vis their existence. On this reading, there is not one but many necessary beings, all internal to the universe." http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cosmological-argument/#3.2

            Because you continue to evade this argument, which causes me to question your sincerity in charitably examining strong objections to the Contingency argument, I refuse to engage in anymore dialogue with you.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          The current theory is that the presence of mass causes a distortion in the field of Ricci tensors and that bodies naturally fall down the geodesics that these "dimples" produce. That is, it is the curvature of space-time that causes the motion of both.

          Besides, the post concerns efficient causes -- the causes that result in the existence of X -- not the actualization of potentials (a/k/a "motion").

  • Peter

    What we call created things are merely different, if more complex, arrangements of the matter/energy from the early universe. Therefore nothing has been created since that time. All that has happened is that matter/energy has achieved different configurations, generally of greater complexity, in a manner determined by the unique conditions of the early universe.

    There is therefore no created thing within the universe to depend for its existence on another created thing, because all things are mere rearrangements of what was created at the beginning. Consequently there is no cause and effect for created things, just rearrangements of matter/energy which depend on previous rearrangements and which produce more rearrangements.

    In this regard, the argument of an uncaused first cause falls flat because all it leads to is back to initial arrangement of matter/energy of the early universe. If this initial arrangement was the first stage in a process of continuous rearrangement towards generally greater complexity, it is clear that it would have had to have a cause in its own right which we haven't yet discovered.

    • Mike

      So who/what caused the Big Bang with all of its potency and built in laws and fields that finally gave rise to you and me?

      • Peter

        Nobody knows, although there are several hypotheses. There is no reason why the big bang and resultant low entropy of the early universe cannot have a naturalistic explanation waiting to be discovered. It is not very satisfying to claim, as big bang creationists do, that God magicked it into existence.

        • Mike

          It may not be satisfying for you but it is a more reasonable hypo then nothing did it, no?

          • Peter

            We simply don't know, but the assumption of God magicking the big bang into existence 13.8 bn yrs ago is no different in principle from the creationist view that God magicked the earth and everything on it into existence 6000 years ago. That's why it's called big bang creationism.

          • Mike

            Ok but don't you personally think alien is more likely than "on its own"?

          • Logike

            No, your answer is not more plausible. Aliens are material beings. God, on the other hand, is understood by you to be a timeless being. How matter materializes, if at all, is strange enough, much less how an immaterial being "causes" it to "come to be." "Causality" and "coming to be", i.e., change!, make no sense without time. But you are asserting that a timeless being is responsible for a temporal state of affairs!! You are asserting that a strange inexplicable state of affairs is responsible for another strange inexplicable state of affairs. Nothing in our experience even comes close to instancing the theist notion of "creation ex nihilo." It's not something anybody is acquainted with.

          • Peter

            No because an alien from another universe would simply be an arrangement of matter/energy dependent upon the initial configuration of matter/energy within its own early universe.

          • Mike

            Sorry i don't understand your point

          • Peter

            It is unlikely that an alien from another universe would have started the big bang because in that case the big bang of its own universe would have had to have been started by an alien from another universe, and so on ad infinitum.

          • Michael Murray
          • Mike

            i don't see how that should be on your worlview...either way it's way more reasonable to assume some super power created the universe some agent instead of well it created itself which makes zero sense imho.

          • Logike

            Did what?

          • Mike

            created the universe and all its precision laws design appearing complexity and on and on and on.

      • Logike

        Nothing caused the Big Bang, because there was no time before time. To demand a cause of the finite temporal series is, properly speaking, to demand a temporal cause. But again, there was no time before time. To speak of the universe "coming to be" at all is a misnomer because then it would have to exist before it began to exist, which is absurd. The universe from the Big Bang and after certainly changed. But there was no change prior to time t0. Therefore, there is no need for a cause prior to time t0.

        • Mike

          Are you hoping that Nothing was responsible for the universe? I mean would that satisfy some desire to find out that there is Nothing at bottom to your mine anyone's existence? Suppose it's true, is that something that is neither here nor there or would it i don't know make you feel good in some way?

          I am curious bc to me it seems well like a total bust like there's no meaning to anything just a blip and infinite nothingness.

          • Logike

            Again, to demand a cause, whether in something or nothing, for the existence of something that never came to be in the first place is confused.

            And I never said "nothing is at the bottom of everyone's existence." That doesn't even make sense. Nothing does not exist, which is just another way of asserting the tautology that everything that exists--exists.

            Also, beware of using the word "nothing" as if it referred to something. The word just means "no thing." The phrase "infinite nothingness" is meaningless garbage.

          • Mike

            Ok pls answer my question on a personal level are you i guess "rooting" for the no god just universe blind laws and no afterlife to win?

          • Logike

            My view on god is pantheistic more than anything. Though I think god exists, I don't think god performs the "creation" role theists attribute to it. Afterlife?--I don't know. I would like there to be an afterlife, but there is not enough evidence for one so I suspend judgment.

            What do you mean by laws being "blind"? They seem to order the universe rather nicely, actually.

          • Mike

            atheists assume they're blind but you're correct they are not they have telos purpose direction just like so called "random" evolution which selects for life...ok thanks very much for your honest answer that you do hope for an after life.

            I think there is just as much "evidence" for "just the universe" as there is for "god" it depends on your values/biases as we all to a tee have them but i think our biases are healthy and good pointers and that's why i ask about "wanting" an afterlife or whatever as i honestly believe that even Dawkins in his heart and even Hitchens wanted "more"...i think it's inescapable.

            However, i think that at the very least the default position is God imho but you already know that and the best argument for that is Something rather than Nothing.

          • Logike

            Laws order events, yes. But that doesn't mean they order events by teleological causes. Efficient causality is enough. Final causes--unless we are talking about intentional conscious agents--have no place in nature. They cannot have a place precisely BECAUSE of the element of randomness. Proof: if we could somehow rewind the evolutionary "tape," and let the tape go again, we would get drastically different results in species. But if final causes were operating in evolutionary development, we would get the exact same species every time. You are presupposing a kind of "determinism" with respect to the course of the universe. But there is no evidence the universe is on such a track.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Feser says this about your reply:

            "Efficient causation is just the actualization of a potency. But a potency is always a potency for some specific outcome or range of outcomes, and in that sense entails finality or directness."

            A being does not have to have a conscious or planned purpose to have finality. As long as the cause brings about the effect there is that end. Eyes see and kidneys purify blood.

          • Logike

            Uhm, you ignored my argument. Final causes cannot be responsible for any given effect given that genetic mutation is random. Or do you deny that chance is a real feature of the world? Most people think a genetic mutation is the cause of seeing, and genetic mutations themselves being the result of random processes. So, "seeing" is not the cause of the origin of this function. Rather, genetic mutations are the cause of the origin of this function. (And natural selection explains the predominance of this trait in various populations.)

            The only other option is that you deny genetic mutations are sufficient for their effects (and require "help" from other causes), which is implausible. After all, once causal sufficiency is admitted, there is no more work for final causes to do. The "end" would be nothing other than the effect of some cause according to a law-like regularity which guaranteed the effect. It does no good multiplying causes needlessly when something else other than a final cause performs the job equally well .

            I also have a concerned remark about your Aristotelian Metaphysics in relation to time. Final causes, if they are identical to their effects, must be future causes. So do you think future times exist? An illustration: The Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed in 1776. In the year 1770, six years prior, did the Declaration of Independence exist? Or, did it not exist yet? I ask, because, if the effect of seeing does not yet exist at the time the genetic mutation occurs, say at T1, then the occurrance of this function, say at T2, in some particular lump of matter, cannot possibly be the cause of that lump of matter developing that function. Depending on your view of time, your metaphysics, which identifies the cause with the effect could very well be inconsistent.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I realize we are talking about two different things. My point, following Feser following Aquinas, is that the final cause of something is the effect that the efficient cause intrinsically has the power to produce. This is the case with all causes and effects, whether intelligent or not. UV radiation in combination with other factors (probably) has the intrinsic tendency to produce changes in gene replication that we call random mutations.

          • Logike

            "the final cause of something is the effect that the efficient cause intrinsically has the power to produce."

            --I hope you can see that your causal explanation for the effect is circular. Cause-->Effect. Cause=Effect. So, Effect-->Effect. And I hope you see that the hypothesis of UV radiation is a better explanation for the fact of genetic mutation than that fact itself. UV radiation adds new and additional information in the explanans which was not found there before. That genes mutate, however, does not. You would just be giving a redundant description of an uncontroversial fact we already know to be true.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            As I think Ye Old Statistician pointed out to you, efficient and final causes come together as a package deal. The connection is not trivial because without both you lose a coherent relationship between cause and effect.

          • Logike

            You are just reasserting your dogma without an argument. I know that is what you two believe, but i just gave a strong reason for thinking the contrary: mentioning the effect as a reason for the effect is redundant, and hence explains nothing. It is like saying the reason why I arrived at the store, my end and destination, is because I arrived at the store.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You arrived at the store because your legs brought you (efficient cause) so that you could buy a six-pack (final cause). Your heart circulates your blood by pumping it (efficient cause) so that your cells can get what they need (final cause).

          • Logike

            But I already acknowledged intentions (buying a six pack) are final causes that explain human (sentient) behavior (going to the store). What I deny is that the ordinary effects (final causes) of non-sentient things or mechanisms explain themselves because they are circular, and hence, redundant, explanations. Notice, your heart pumping blood is the the (efficient) cause of your cells getting what they need. So, your heart pumping blood EXPLAINS why your cells get what they need. It does no good saying that your heart getting what it needs (final cause) explains why it gets what it needs: this is redundant and explains nothing. Positing final causes as explanations for non-sentient mechanisms is not needed. Efficient causes are enough.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Efficient causality is enough. Final causes--unless we are talking about intentional conscious agents--have no place in nature.

            That is a common Modern misconception. No one supposes falling rocks to have conscious intent, yet they all wind up at the point of minimum attainable gravitational potential. There cannot be an efficient cause unless it is an efficient cause of something. It is this towardness that makes the efficient cause intelligible as an efficient cause at all. Finality and efficacy come as a package deal, just like matter and form.

            They cannot have a place precisely BECAUSE of the element of randomness. Proof: if we could somehow rewind the evolutionary "tape," and let the tape go again, we would get drastically different results in species. But if final causes were operating in evolutionary development, we would get
            the exact same species every time.

            a) Statisticians know that "randomness" is simply another word for "we don't know." It is not a causal factor itself; and there is growing evidence that genetic change is not random, due to internal genetic mechanisms that edit and accommodate mutations.
            b) How do you know how the "tape" of evolution would run if you could rewind it? It seems foolish to declare final causes out of court because you have declared a priori the outcome of an imaginary rerunning of a non-existent "tape"
            c) Why do you suppose that the final causes in evolution have anything to do with specific outcomes? We might not get the same species if we wiped the minds of all biologists and had them reclassify the existing species. Look at all the arguments in cladistics! Only recently has the species of African elephant become two species of African elephants based solely on reclassification!

            The final cause in evolution is greater fitness for a niche. Similar niches have typically called up similar species. The three different kinds of "rodents" are an example: the tritylodonts, the multituberculates, and the true rodents. They all had similar ranges of species, dentition, and body plan. Yet the first belonged to the mammal-like reptiles, while the latter two were mammals that arose after the tape was re-run following the Cretaceous extinction. That is, species evolve toward greater adaptation to a niche, but that need not favor any particular specific adaptation.

          • Logike

            "c) Why do you suppose that the final causes in evolution have anything to do with specific outcomes?"

            --Are you now denying final causality has a role to play for specific outcomes? Ok. That's all I'm saying is possible. Now that you agree with me, it's time to move on. . .

            "We might not get the same species if we wiped the minds of all biologists and had them reclassify the existing species."

            --This doesn't make sense. I doubt you think which species, in fact, develop is caused by what biologists think. I think you mean to say biologists might think differently if the evolutionary tape were different--which is an obvious truism, and strange concession on your part because I thought you denied this is possible.

            "a) Statisticians know that "randomness" is simply another word for "we
            don't know." It is not a causal factor itself;"

            --I never said randomness was a cause. Did you even read my post? I explicitly stated that by "random" I don't mean "causeless"; I mean unpredictable non-teleological causes like UV Radiation.

            "b) How do you know how the "tape" of evolution would run if you could rewind it?"

            --Good question. And how do you know the "tape" of evolution would run the same? Your posit of teleological causes assumes the contrary.

            "and there is growing
            evidence that genetic change is not random, due to internal genetic
            mechanisms that edit and accommodate mutations."

            --I would have to see the evidence and examine the case myself because your teleological bias is pretty thick.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "c) Why do you suppose that the final causes in evolution have anything to do with specific outcomes?"

            --Are you now denying final causality has a role to play for specific outcomes?

            No. I am pointing out that the final causes at a generic level do not address the specific outcome. For that you would need the specific causes. Your efforts at semantic gamesmanship, notwithstanding.

            "We might not get the same species if we wiped the minds of all biologists and had them reclassify the existing species."

            --This doesn't make sense. I doubt you think which species, in fact, develop is caused by what biologists think.

            The species of African elephant has recently been reimagined as two distinct species of African elephant. Recall what Darwin wrote in the Origin:
            "I look at the term species as one arbitrarily given, for the sake of convenience, to a set of individuals closely resembling each other..."

            I explicitly stated that by "random" I don't mean "causeless"; I mean unpredictable non-teleological causes like UV Radiation.

            "Unpredictable" ≠ "non-teleological"
            Natural laws exist even if you can't predict when and where they might manifest. I think you don't actually understand what "teleological" means.

            "b) How do you know how the "tape" of evolution would run if you could rewind it?"

            --Good question. And how do you know the "tape" of evolution would run the same?

            I don't. You made the assertion. I don't care which way it runs. I was only startled by the dogmatic manner in which such an assertion was made. (As well as the ineptness of the metaphor: How often do you actually rerun a tape and expect to see something different on it?)

            Your posit of teleological causes assumes the contrary.

            How so? I don't see it. If you rerun a football game, the score may be different, but the teams would still be trying to make touchdowns and field goals and so forth. That is, a football game has goals, but that doesn't mean the outcome is determined.

            "and there is growing evidence that genetic change is not random, due to internal genetic mechanisms that edit and accommodate mutations."

            --I would have to see the evidence and examine the case myself because your teleological bias is pretty thick.

            Alas, this has nothing to do with telos. It has to do with the alleged randomness of genetic change, which may be less "random" than they thought back in the day. You see the randomness of genetic change was an assumption that was made back during the days when the modern synthesis was being put together. Statistical thermodynamics was all the rage in physics, and biologists suffer somewhat from physics envy. Consequently, there was a deliberate decision made to make the theory parallel. Unfortunately, this opened the theory to creationist attacks on the basis that there hasn't been enough time in the universe for all the necessary fortuitously "beneficial" "random" changes to have occurred. However, if the primary mechanism is not natural selection but neutral selection, natural genetic engineering, epigenetics, and other mechanisms, genetic change can be "massive, sudden, and particular."
            There is some material here:
            http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/2011.10.15.CognitveAspectsOfGenomeFunction.pdf
            and more accessibly here:
            http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro.2013.Rethinking_the_%28Im%29Possible_in_Evolution.html

          • Logike

            "Alas, this has nothing to do with telos. It has to do with the alleged
            randomness of genetic change,"

            --Sigh. I thought evincing teleos was your whole point here. Our disagreement is not over whether genetic mutation is caused, because I was the first to admit that "random" does not mean "uncaused" in my post days ago where I mentioned UV Radiation as a possible cause of genetic mutation. Our disagreement is whether final causes add anything to the explanans of the explanandum. They do not. Citing the effect as an explanation for the effect is redundant, circular, and hence does not explain the effect.

          • Logike

            "--Are you now denying final causality has a role to play for specific outcomes?--No. I am pointing out that the final causes at a generic level do not address the specific outcome."

            --How's that not saying the same thing???

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "--Are you now denying final causality has a role to play for specific outcomes?--No. I am pointing out that the final causes at a generic level do not address the specific outcome."

            --How's that not saying the same thing???

            Because the final cause at a specific level is, well, more specific than a final cause at a generic level. The finality of natural selection in general is greater adaptation to a niche. (Ad-apt: "toward" aptness.) The finality of any particular evolution requires knowledge of the particulars of the niche.

          • Logike

            What matters the "level"? You are still denying final causality has a role to play in specific outcomes. Therefore, there are some outcomes for which final causes are not responsible.

          • Logike

            "Unpredictable" ≠ "non-teleological"

            Thanks, genius. Apart from the fact that I never asserted such an identity statement, notice that "unpredictable" doesn't mean "teleological" either. The point is that non-teleological causes for non-sentient, hence non-intentional, mechanisms are sufficient for the effect. Postulating the effect as (final) cause of that effect does not explain that effect.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "Unpredictable" ≠ "non-teleological"

            Thanks, genius. Apart from the fact that I never asserted such an identity statement...

            Ah. I was misled when you wrote:
            by "random" I don't mean "causeless"; I mean unpredictable non-teleological causes

            Perhaps there should have been a comma there. Even so, it does seem that you are associating the two.

            notice that "unpredictable" doesn't mean "teleological" either.

            Of course not. It means "unpredictable."

            non-teleological causes for non-sentient, hence non-intentional, mechanisms are sufficient for the effect.

            What effect? How does the "mechanism" result in the same effect (or suite of effects) unless the "mechanism" is in some sense "aimed" at that effect? See "attractor basins," "potential functions," and the like.

            You still seem to insist that telos requires intention on the part of the body; but this is not so. There may or may not be intention. A falling rock does not intend to minimize its gravitational potential; and yet it does.

            It may be that the finality is simply assumed in the formulation of the "mechanism," and so escapes explicit notice. After all, a "mechanism" is always "for" something.

          • Logike

            "What effect? How does the "mechanism" result in the same effect (or
            suite of effects) unless the "mechanism" is in some sense "aimed" at
            that effect?"

            --You just mean A is causally sufficient for B according to Natural Laws guaranteeing the effect every time. Please stop anthropomorphizing causal sufficiency as if there were an "aim" involved. To have an "aim" is to have an intention. And only sentient creatures have intentions. I realize you think inanimate objects can have aims without intentions, but this is just as conceptually confused as saying married men don't have wives.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "Thanks, genius."

            Please review rule 4 at http://strangenotions.com/commenting/

          • David Nickol

            Is Rule 4 more important than Rule 1, Garbanzo?

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Yes, much more important. Dont you agree?

          • David Nickol

            Yes, actually, I do agree. But I think Rule 1 is important, too, and particularly when an anonymous user chooses to hide his or her activity.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            I thought you might. IMHO Rule 1 is actually silly, whether an "anonymous user" hides activity or not. As long as a user posts courteously, who cares what his username is.

          • David Nickol

            As long as a user posts courteously, who cares what his username is.

            I think the theory is, at least in part, that those posting under their own real names will consider what they say more carefully than anonymous users. (I see no need for scare quotes. To post under a fake name is to be an anonymous user.)

            But all this is basically moot, since the Strange Notions moderators don't enforce Rule 1, and if they did, it would force those who have Disqus accounts using names other than their own real ones to modify their accounts or have more than one account. Perhaps the rule ought to be dropped.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Usernames can be fabricated, whether they appear like real names or not; mine makes it evident that it is fabricated. I made it up based upon my initials before coming to Strange Notions. I havent seen another site that requires "real names", even if it were possible to enforce that requirement. I would think the rule could be changed to "users are invited to use their real names". I think it is a great idea to be courteous on the internet, and not such a great idea to use your real name generally speaking.

          • Logike

            I teach logic and informal fallacies. And the way "ad hominem" in Rule 4 is described is incorrect, and a common error at that. Simply belittling someone, or behaving "snarky," is not an ad hominem. Instead, you have to cite an irrelevant behavior, piece of character, or circumstance of the person as a basis for rejecting his argument. "It is a fallacy in which a claim or argument is dismissed on the basis of some
            irrelevant fact or supposition about the author or the person being criticized."

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

            I did no such thing, however. I called him a "genius" because he mistakenly attributed to me a view I did not actually hold. I did not call him a "genius" as a snarky way of dismissing some argument he offered.

          • Logike

            "The final cause in evolution is greater fitness for a niche. Similar niches have typically called up similar species."

            --So tell me, punchy: Is it the greater fitness (greater likelihood of surviving) or the niche itself (environment) that called up similar species? Or both? You seem undecided here. Your application of final causality to these matters is hopelessly unclear, I'm afraid.

            You need to do your homework on how statistical factors do, in fact, explain scientific phenomena. See "http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-explanation/#WhaDoStaTheExp

            The idea is this, and I quote: "Wesley Salmon's statistical relevance (or SR) model (Salmon, 1971) is a very influential attempt to capture these features in terms of the notion of statistical relevance or conditional dependence relationships. Given some class or population A, an attribute C will be statistically relevant to another attribute B if and only if P(B∣A.C)≠P(B∣A)—that is, if and only if the probability of B conditional on A and C is different from the probability of B conditional on A alone. The intuition underlying the SR model is that statistically relevant properties (or information about statistically relevant relationships) are explanatory and statistically irrelevant properties are not. In other words, the notion of a property making a difference for an explanandum is unpacked in terms of statistical relevance relationships."

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "The final cause in evolution is greater fitness for a niche. Similar niches have typically called up similar species."

            --So tell me, punchy: Is it the greater fitness (greater likelihood of surviving) or the niche itself (environment) that called up similar species? Or both? You seem undecided here. Your application of final causality to these matters is hopelessly unclear, I'm afraid.

            "Punchy"? Is the childish language really necessary?

            Tell me: is it the bell that rings or the clapper? Or is it the meeting of the two?
            The word is "adaptation," which means "toward apt-ness." It's the towardness that indicates the final cause. Natural selection does not result in random outcomes but in greater adaptation to the niche in which the species makes its living. (Niche is not simply environment: it includes how the animal interacts with that environment. Consider the case of the Mediterranean wall lizards which lived a cannibalistic live on their barren home island, but which within twenty years after transplantation to a vegetatively-rich island, had devised a completely new vegetarian way of life -- even to the point of having developed a new organ to aid its digestion. Darwin's finches also come to mind: their diversity stemmed from the different ways in which they exploited the same environments.

            You need to do your homework on how statistical factors do, in fact, explain scientific phenomena.

            That statistical analysis can be useful in certain kinds of science -- viz., cases of disorganized complexity, as in thermodynamics or life insurance -- and even somewhat in cases of organized complexity is not questioned. The old mathematical methods of the scientific revolution are clearly inadequate. Heck, we knew long ago that gravitational systems were analytically unsolvable with as few as three bodies. However, my contention was that randomness is not a cause, not that statistics is not useful. Heck, I made my living for thirty years applying statisitical methods to real-world problems.

            You can't suppose your appeal to the article's use of Bayes' Theorem is somehow going to overawe.

          • Logike

            "The word is "adaptation," which means "toward apt-ness." It's the towardness that indicates the final cause. "

            --What "towardness"? "X is apt to survive" just means "X is likely to survive." Though the organism has the conscious intent to survive, that doesn't mean there is some magical "aim" causing genes to mutate. They mutate for reasons (causes) that are unpredictable and non-teleological, like UV radiation.

          • Logike

            "There cannot be an efficient cause unless it is an efficient cause of something."

            --Ya think? That "something" is the effect.

            "It is this towardness that makes the efficient cause intelligible as an efficient cause at all."

            --This is false. What makes an efficient cause intelligible is nothing more than its sufficiency for the effect. A causes B only if, given A, B follows. What more needs to be said about that relationship?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            To add or maybe clarify my earlier reply, evolution (assuming it is true) not just of life but of all the conditions in the universe since the singularity (if that is true, too), is the actualizations of the potentials that are in the things themselves and that would have been in the singularity itself.

          • Logike

            But final causes don't exist prior to "actualization." So how can they be causes at all?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            An effect's "final" cause is the end the "efficient" cause acts toward. It is why a struck match usually produces a flame and never a dame.

          • Logike

            You only described the "how." Again, by your admission, final causes don't exist prior to actualization. So how can they be causes at all?

            "It is why a struck match usually produces a flame and never a dame."

            --I disagree. A struck match usually produces a flame due to the combination of friction and various chemical properties (formal properties) all of which are sufficient for the effect. There is simply no need for positing the effect as cause as an explanation of the effect as effect--which would just be an empty tautology.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Regarding your question about time and the Declaration of Independence, the DI clearly had a purpose but it did not exist in 1770. In 1770 it was a potential action of the actual framers. It did not cause itself. Its efficient cause was the framers.

          • Logike

            "it did not exist in 1770"

            --That's true. But I want to know if you think future times exist.

            This is crucial because if something doesn't even exist at time T1, then it cannot cause at T1 the next development to follow at T2. A necessary condition for having causal power is having existence. It's logically absurd to say a non-existent cause produces an existent effect.

            "In 1770 it was a potential action of the actual framers"

            --Potential or not, the Declaration of Independence did not exist at time T1. It exists at time T2. So it cannot be a the cause of anything at time T1.

            Similarly, with "seeing." Prior to the lump of matter developing the function of seeing at T2, seeing did not yet exist at T1. Therefore, seeing cannot cause at T1 the development of this function of seeing at T2.

            I think it would behoove you to be committed to, rather than deny, the existence of future times. But I'm not sure where you stand on this.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The four causes are ways of accounting for an effect.

            The material cause of the DI was parchment, ink, pens, etc. The formal cause was the literary genre "declaration." The efficient cause was the wills of the creators and signers. The final cause was the desire to declare the colonies independent. Without any one of them, the DI would not exist.

            From the human perspective, I don't think future time exists. If God exists and he is outside time and somehow sees all times as one moment, maybe future time does exist. I dunno.

          • Logike

            "From the human perspective, I don't think future time exists."

            --Well do they exist, or don't they exist (independent of the human perspective)?

          • David Nickol

            In 1770 it was a potential action of the actual framers.

            This is confusing to me. Was the writing of the Declaration of Independence a potential action of the framers in 1492? Are there an infinite number of potential actions, most of which never happen? Do all potential actions exist in some real sense until one potential action out of the many possible potential action takes place? Or was there one potential Declaration of Independence from all eternity that became the Declaration of Independence in 1776? And if so, doesn't that imply determinism?

          • Logike

            It is confusing to me too. I often lament the lack of precision displayed here in the application of Aristotelian metaphysics.

            Also, I think the view does indeed imply determinism because probabilistic causality is denied. The effect is always foreordained by itself as cause.

            I'm sorry, this whole mess just seems silly to me. The causal explanation for the existence of the effect is circular because the cause just is the effect. Final causes don't actually explain anything because they don't introduce new additional information in the explanans that was not there before. Final causes introduce new information in terms of "motivations" and "desires" in explaining the behavior of conscious intentional agents, but they don't seem to be factors explaining the behavior of non-sentient phenomena.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The DI could not be a potential action of the framers in 1492 because they did not exist. Potential actions, in fact, don't exist at all. Beings (which are actual) have potentials according to the kind of beings they are. You don't have the potential to flap your bare arms and fly but you probably have the potential to learn how to fly a Piper Cub.

          • Logike

            "Efficient causation is just the actualization of a potency"

            --Could you please analyze, not describe, what that even means? What does it mean to "actualize" something? This is a causal notion that has temporal constraints, for sure, so your definitions need to start something like this:

            X causes Y if and only if at time t . . .
            --is there a difference between necessary conditions and causal sufficiency here? In other words if X is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for Y, does that mean X no longer causes Y?

            X efficiently causes Y if and only if X at time t . . .

            X actualizes Y if and only if X at time t . . .

            X is potent at time t if and only if . . .

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I've read your comment about six times and I don't understand it.

            Feser reviews quite a few of the nuances of act and potency. Some efficient causes do not have a time constraint as they happen simultaneously, like the arm that moves the stick that moves the rock.

            In addition, many--maybe most--effects are the result of multiple causes.

          • Logike

            "Some efficient causes do not have a time constraint as they happen simultaneously,"

            --This is wrong. "Simultaneously" means "happening at the same time." So, a cause that is simultaneous with its effect is a cause that is in time (has temporal constraints). But God's causing the universe to be is alleged to happen outside time because God is outside time. So, yes, please do perform an analysis of "Efficient Cause" as applied to God's alleged timeless creation of time!

            I am acquainted with Feser's works, and he doesn't perform the requested analysis.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Sorry, I don't have a clue of what you are saying or asking or why it is relevant to anything.

          • Logike

            Yes you do. Define "God efficiently causes Y" with an adequate definition people can accept and understand, because so far it is meaningless. The only agent causation I know about is agent causation that takes place in time. I can, therefore, define causation in terms of time that is both understandable and illuminating:

            X causes Y at time t1 if and only if Y at t2 is later than Y at t1.

            But because it's a complete mystery how a timeless God causes or sustains anything temporal at all, "God is first cause" is meaningless, and the argument from motion invalid.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Just because everything happens in the physical world is temporal does not mean that something outside the temporal order cannot act upon it.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            But you would have to prove that that something exists and that it acts in the universe.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Those two things are what an argument based on act and potency does--shows that a being of pure actuality exists and causes contingent beings to exist.

          • Logike

            No it doesn't show that for several reasons: (1) There is no reason to suppose the order of events within the universe are ordered essentially rather than accidentally, (2) Newton's first law of motion shows there are unmoved movers (so God is not necessary), and (3) agent causation, as far as we know it, is temporally bound, so there is simply no reason to suppose ANY causation, temporal or not, applies outside the universe.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being. And if the fixed Stars are the centers of other like systems, these being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One."
            -Newton, in the same book he published his axioms and laws of motion.

          • Logike

            I am not sure how citing Newton's personal beliefs tells us whether he thought Aquinas' argument was sound. But since we're quoting great figures, here is one from Einstein I've always enjoyed: "I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists, not in a God who
            concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind."

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Oh, so you believe in Spinoza's God, like Einstein did?

          • Logike

            Don't get too excited. Ascribing a sacredness and beauty, and even intelligibility to the totality of matter and form doesn't suggest anything exists beyond that. It is precisely the unintelligibility and moral ugliness of the Judeo-Christian God that I find repulsive.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "It is precisely the unintelligibility and moral ugliness of the Judeo-Christian God that I find repulsive."
            I would like to hear what it was in your life which prompted your repulsion to the JCG. I am genuinely interested, its not about an argument, or persuading you of something, or any of that rot.

          • Logike

            "Just because everything happens in the physical world is temporal does not mean that something outside the temporal order cannot act upon it."

            --But I didn't say something outside the temporal order cannot act on the temporal order. I said there is no reason to suppose it can. So the argument is invalid.

          • Logike

            "best argument for that is Something rather than Nothing."

            --It is? So why does God exist rather than not? If your answer is that God necessarily exists, the same answer could be given on behalf of the persistence of matter: Matter just IS. God or matter could be at the bottom of the explanatory barrel. So to suppose your hypothesis is any more plausible is to ignore competing explanations which perform the job equally well.

          • Mike

            COME ON FOLLOW ALONG HERE! just kidding BUT god does NOT EXIST he IS EXISTENCE!

            Yes but matter is NOT an agent but God is, that's the hypo and it's that that make s more sense.

          • Logike

            "god does NOT EXIST he IS EXISTENCE!"

            --This doesn't make any sense: you just denied God's existence at the same time you asserted his existence.

          • Mike

            I know what you mean...i just mean that he's not contingent on anything for his existence.

          • Logike

            Neither is matter.

          • Logike

            Neither is matter contingent. Matter never came to be because there was no time it was not.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Matter never came to be because there was no time it was not.

            If time is a consequence of matter, as Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and Einstein have claimed, then obviously there was never a time when there was no matter. But you are assuming that there must be time for there to be causation. The causation here is one that is simultaneous. The formal cause of a triangle is "three-sidedness" yet if you were to draw a triangle, its three-sidedness would not precede the triangle in time. Or to take the example of an eternal Foot eternally planted in the eternal Sand: the Foot is the efficient cause of the eternal Footprint in the sand even though there was no time when the Footprint was not.

          • Logike

            No, I am not assuming time for causation. But the theist who says the temporal finiteness of the universe requires a cause precisely because it is finite--is. I referenced this point earlier: Brandon and other theists here take the finiteness of the universe as evidence for its contingency. But the universe could only be contingent in this temporal respect if there must be a time before the first moment of time, and hence, a temporal cause--which is absurd, because the stipulation was that universe has no prior temporal states, anyway.

            Triangles: We are talking about the persistence of all matter and space-time, not what makes ordinary objects what they are. Yes, the Form of a triangle is needed to make a physical triangle be what it is. But that doesn't mean Forms are required for the persistence of matter.

            Footprints:
            It's clear you cherry pick your causality examples to fit what you want to say about the universe:There is no reason to suppose that all matter and space-time more closely resembles a Footprint in the sand than say an object moving eternally by inertia--without any eternally sustaining cause of its motion.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Brandon and other theists here take the finiteness of the universe as evidence for its contingency.

            I don't think so. Even if the universe is eternal, it might still be contingent. That is, it need not have been.

            But the universe could only be contingent in this temporal respect if there must be a time before the first moment of time

            Why?

            Triangles: We are talking about the persistence of all matter and space-time

            The triangle was simply an example of how A can be a cause of B without being prior in time. Oh, it was a fell day when the College Boards dropped analogy questions and the schools then stopped teaching how to think with analogies.

            Footprints: It's clear you cherry pick your causality examples to fit what you want to say about the universe

            The Foot is simply a standard example of how there can be efficient causality without temporal priority. It goes back to your statement that "the universe could only be contingent in this temporal respect etc." It is you who are insisting there must be a time before time in order for contingency. Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and the rest did not deem it so.

          • Logike

            "Even if the universe is eternal, it might still be contingent"

            --Might be? "Might be" is not good enough for a logical demonstration. It either is, or isn't. And there are good reasons to think the opposite, namely, the fact that the persistence of matter never changes.

            "I don't think so."

            --Yes he does. Read his posts here, and also
            our "Strange Notions" discussions on Facebook. Brandon does indeed take the finiteness of the universe as evidence for its contingency. He defaults (quite naturally) to Craig's 2nd-premise of the Kalam whenever someone suggests the persistence of matter is not contingent.

            "It goes back to your statement that "the universe could only be contingent in this temporal respect etc."

            --The key words are "temporal respect." That is, the universe is temporally contingent only if "came to be." I didn't say the universe is contingent only if it "came to be."

            Further, I deny the universe "came to be" because the notion is self-contradictory (with or without a first cause).

            Also, matter only changes with respect to its form, not its persistence. So, the persistence of matter is not evidence of contingency. The persistence of matter strongly suggest the opposite.

            "It is you who are insisting there must be a time before time in order for contingency.

            --No. I said finite time is not EVIDENCE of contingency. I didn't say the universe is contingent only if there is a time before time. Why would I believe the latter anyway? That would mean I thought the extension of a series of events into the past was evidence that that series "might not have been." But isn't this exactly what I deny? I think so--THINK, man!

            Further, I said there would be a time before time if "coming to be" was a feature of the first moment of time (not that it was a necessary feature of contingency). I already analyzed the difference between saying the universe "came to be" and saying the universe is "finite in time." It is the former, not the latter notion, that is absurd. But you don't read my posts very closely.

          • Logike

            "But the universe could only be contingent in this temporal respect if there must be a time before the first moment of time
            --Why?"

            --Because that's what "coming to be" at the first moment of time entails. If X comes to be at time t0, then there was a time prior to t0, namely, t-1 at which X was not. So X is contingent. But if time itself came to be--which is the theist's rather asinine suggestion--then there would be a time before time, which absurd. "Coming to be at the first moment of time" is self-contradictory. The very absurdity of the theists notion tells me the universe is NOT contingent in this temporal respect.

          • Logike

            "The Foot is simply a standard example of how there can be efficient causality without temporal priority."

            --I get that. But you also think the analogy holds for God's sustaining role for the existence of the universe, which is ultimately why you offered it. I denied that this analogy must so hold. It is possible for things to be in motion (changing) without a (simultaneous) cause at every moment of their trajectory. It's called inertia.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "If time is a consequence of matter, as Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and Einstein have claimed, then obviously there was never a time when there was no matter."
            I thought Augustine was the first to theorize about time in this way.

          • Mike

            LOL what? so before the big bang it existed? oh i see you'll say there was not time before; EXACTLY god is outside of time; he created it when he created the material universe...the genenis account is unbelievably accurate about this and it was written thousands of years ago when 99% of folks believed in flying spagetti monsters! ;_)

          • Logike

            "LOL what? so before the big bang it existed?"

            --No, that would be a contradiction. I said there was no time matter was not. Why is this true? Because there is no time without matter; so long as there is time, there is matter. (Einstein)

            "EXACTLY god is outside of time; he created it when he created the material universe"

            --This entails a contradiction. To create something requires a time before it came to be. So God's creation would be in time. But, ex hypothesi, God's creation is outside time. So, creation takes place both inside and outside time. Contradiction.

          • Mike

            it's a different ORDER altogether; you may still be thinking of God as just another creature like us but more powerful and smarter; but that's NOT the claim; the claim is he is an altogether different order of reality.

            Flatlands is a good book about this "difference" in perspective.

            http://www.amazon.com/Flatland-Romance-Dimensions-Thrift-Editions/dp/048627263X

          • Logike

            "it's a different ORDER altogether; you may still be thinking of God as
            just another creature like us but more powerful and smarter; but that's
            NOT the claim; the claim is he is an altogether different order of
            reality."

            --Who cares? The point is that the argument from motion doesn't demonstrate the existence of an immaterial being because an immaterial being allegedly causing the materialization of all space-time would not be an instance of the ordinary material causal principle cited in the argument governing material change.

          • Mike

            I know what you mean...ok cool we disagree as i think it's a valid argument that points in the direction of christian concept of god.

          • Logike

            The argument is invalid if it equivocates on the word "cause" or "external mover" where it is not clear whether the cause is efficient or formal.

            And the argument is unsound because the second premise, "that all change requires a mover" is false. The Conservation of Momentum allows for change in location (velocity) without cause during the interval whose end-points are accelerating causes.

          • Mike

            I disagree but thanks.

          • Logike

            Huh. So you think Newton's Conservation of Momentum is false? I guess it is your prerogative to be irrational.

          • Mike

            LOL! ok, easy tiger.

          • Logike

            Why is that funny? There is a logical demonstration for the falsity of the 2nd premise of the argument from motion staring you in the face, and all you can say is "easy tiger"? I am not the first person who has noticed you don't substantively engage in the dialogue here . . .

          • Mike

            Ok, take it easy; you know i disagree with your logic and your assessment of the issue so we can catch up again elsewhere; see Brandon's and YOStat. for my take on this argument.

          • Logike

            What is wrong with my "logic"? Do tell.

          • Mike

            i don't have the strenght ;) sorry look i think the argument makes sense but then again i think the premise God is almost self evident...i am a "huge" neo-platonist; i don't know why maybe it's in my dna to 'think along those line'.

            btw you ever wonder if belief in some "god" could be genetic but like individually? maybe some ppl are just predispossed to that kind of thinking; i mean i think i am but then again the arguments resonate with me so who knows.

          • Logike

            It seems, rather, you don't know how to challenge what I said, and are just putting off making yourself look foolish. That's ok. We all have our pride to contend with.

          • Mike

            you atheists are all alike aren't you?

          • Logike

            I'm not an atheist.

          • Mike

            sorry i did forget that you actually aren't; you're more of a pan theist something like if i remember correctly.

          • Mike

            ask brandon or ye old stat.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "the second premise, "that all change requires a mover" is false."

            That all change requires a mover is actually a metaphysical version of "objects at rest wish etc." To change an object's direction requires the application of an external force.

          • Logike

            Of course a change in direction (acceleration) requires a cause. But a change in location (velocity) does not. (Conservation of Momentum). Or is change of location not "really" change? Like no "true" Scotsman drinks cheep beer even though my Scotish grandfather does?

          • Garbanzo Bean

            A change in location with respect to what? If two rocks are floating side by side in space, and another rock goes whizzing past... are the two rocks moving, or the one that went past?

          • Logike

            Relativity of motion doesn't mean one or more objects are no longer changing relative to one another. If there is motion, there is change. Or is this not "real" change? Like my grandfather not being a "true" scotsman because he drinks cheep beer?

          • Garbanzo Bean

            I see you have changed your post substantially from the one I got in email. I thought we had talked about that, apologies if you aren't that guy. Either way this will have to wait until tomorrow now, I have to go watch Columbo with SWMBO.

            I am half Scottish; I thought Scottish folks were stereotypically cheap? I am also half French, so I used to say "I like to drink wine but I don't like to pay for it."

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "Relativity of motion doesn't mean one or more objects are no longer changing relative to one another."
            If neither object is accellerating, then neither object is undergoing a change. Motion is relative, change is real. If neither object is being acted upon by a changer (a force), then neither object is changing. Imagine two rocks floating in space, at rest wrt each other. They are just there. Then, suddenly, we observe that they begin to separate. We know, from Newton's Second Law and from the metaphysical principal "whatever is changed is changed by another" that some third thing acted upon that binary system.

            If there is motion, there is change."
            The ancients thought so, but we know better. We know now that there is not actually any such thing as "position" other than relatively. This is so counter-intuitive that it took some serious work to realize it, and it is still weird and counter-intuitive. To the ancients the centre of the Earth seemed like a special place (gross, actually, not privileged) which was why heavy stuff was down and heavenly stuff was up. Even Newton kept the concept of place or position as a real thing, in his idea of absolute space. But that had to go eventually too. So yes, if "place" were a real thing of its own accord, simple motion would be change. But it isnt.

            "Or is this not "real" change?"
            Based on what I have already said, I would say No. The definition of change for Aquinas was "Change is the act of potency as potency." To him as for Aristotle it seemed like a body continuing to move once it had been launched required an explanation because it was continuing to realize a potency wrt "place". But we now know that there is no such thing as "place", except relatively. We now know that the continuation itself does not require a mover, but the launching and the landing do (a stopper is as much a mover as is a launcher). If a mover didn't launch it then it would not have moved, if it didnt hit the ground then it would not have stopped.

            "You've simply introduced relative motion in place of absolute motion."
            Absolute motion was merely motion relative to absolute space. Unlike Aristotle or Newton, we now know there is no such thing as absolute space. There is no absolute "place". There is no such thing as "at rest". There is no such thing as "in motion". Position, rest, and motion are absolutely relative. Two objects moving apart at a constant velocity no longer constitutes a change to anything real, since neither object is actually changing anything. They are both just chillaxin'. There is no actualization of any potency going on.

            "But there is still motion, i.e., change--that is uncaused."
            In terms of a body not currently being acted upon externally, it is neither at rest nor in motion... it is "just there", and it cannot do anything else but "just be there" until an external mover impacts it. This is the result of the "relativity of place". The question about any object currently in "motion" in the sense you mean, would be "what accelerated (or decellerated) it at some point in its history?". If you take the metaphysical principle "Whatever is changed is changed by another" and apply it simply to physical bodies, it could be rephrased "Whatever is accellerated is accelerated by another." Basically, Newton's Second Law of Motion is a physics version of the metaphysical principle.

          • Logike

            "If neither object is accellerating, then neither object is undergoing a change"

            --But this is false. Change in place relative to another object is a form of change. If I am standing 2 feet from you and move to a position 5 feet from you, our distance from one another has changed by 3 feet.

            "Motion is relative, change is real."

            --Change of place relative to other objects is change too, so motion is also real.

            "Imagine two rocks floating in space, at rest wrt each other. They are
            just there. Then, suddenly, ..."

            --Ok? This just illustrates acceleration. But not all motion (change) is acceleration.

            "Position, rest, and motion are absolutely relative."

            --Ok? You're just repeating what you said earlier. But relative motion is still change, as demonstrated at the outset.

            "Two objects moving apart at a constant velocity no longer constitutes a change to anything real,"

            --Again, this is just false. An object's distance from another object is real, and it can change.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "Change in place relative to another object is a form of change. If I am standing 2 feet from you and move to a position 5 feet from you, our distance from one another has changed by 3 feet."

            It certainly does appear that way, and that is what has been so confusing. Your example does include change, but the change is exactly the same whether I am standing there or not. Think about this for a minute... what exactly is "distance"? As a thing? What is its chemical composition? Is there "distance" between two places, if there are no objects in those two "places"? Our imaginations are doggedly stuck on the idea, but "place", "rest", and "motion" are not absolute, though they seem to be to us going about our lives on the surface of the earth.

            A neo-Aristotelean might say distance is a relation between two objects, though neither object bears the relation. I was never very good at material logic.

            "...This just illustrates acceleration. But not all motion (change) is acceleration."

            I would say that in dynamics, the only change that is real change is acceleration and its derivatives. If an object is not accelerating, it is in stasis; it is neither changing nor being changed.

          • Logike

            "A neo-Aristotelean might say distance is a relation between two objects, though neither object bears the relation."

            --False. If A is 5 meters from B, then A and B both bear the relation "5 meters from another."

            "the only change that is real change is acceleration and its derivatives."

            --So some change is not change? That's a contradiction.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "False. If A is 5 meters from B, then A and B both bear the relation "5 meters from another."
            Could be, I was never very good at material logic.

            "So some change is not change? That's a contradiction."
            No, some change is only apparent, and some is real. An object floating in space, unaffected by other objects, is not changing, regardless of whether other objects are whizzing past or not.

          • Logike

            "I was never good at material logic."

            --It seems so.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            You have no idea what I am referring to by "material logic".
            A neo-Aristotelean might say distance is a relation between two objects, though neither object bears the relation to the distance itself, but only to the other object.

          • Logike

            That is what I said: A and B both bear the relation to another. I didnt say to the relation itself. Their distance from one another is what changes too. And even according to Aristotle "relation" is a real property of objects. It's just not an intrinsic or essential property. But is the color of your hair an essential property of you? No. It is accidental. But it can still change, just as your relations to things can change.There are many types of change, relational, accidental, essential, intrinsic, extrinsic. So it seems rather arbitrary for you to say that some instances of real change are not really change.

          • Logike

            "If I am standing 2 feet from you and move to a position 5 feet from you, our distance from one another has changed by 3 feet."--It certainly does appear that way, and that is what has been so confusing"

            --Appears? But is IS that way.

            "Your example does include change"

            --Good. End of story.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Wow, AGAIN you edit your post. I respond to the original one, and will not bother with the rest:

            Your original post:
            "If I am standing 2 feet from you and move to a position 5 feet from you, our distance from one another has changed by 3 feet."--It certainly does appear that way, and that is what has been so confusing"
            --Appears? But is IS that way.
            "Your example does include change"
            --Good. End of story.

            My response:
            When you refer to the "distance" changing, you are using common parlance. You accelerated away from your original position away from me, and then decelerated to a standstill relative to me. That was the change, whether I was standing there or not. There was not a thing there which increased its length from two feet to five feet.

          • Logike

            "When you refer to the "distance" changing, you are using common parlance"

            --I am describing what, in fact, happens. Here is some material logic for you:

            Let 'R5' = bearing the relation 5 meters from another.
            Let 'R3' = bearing the relation 3 meters from another.

            There exist two objects x and y such that, at time t1 x and y are 5 meters from one another. Therefore,

            (1) At time t1, R5xy (x bears 5 meters from y)

            But at time t2, x and y are 3 meters from one another. Therefore,

            (2) At time t2, R3xy (x bears 3 meters from y)

            Thus, by the logical rule of "conjunction introduction" we can say,

            (3) At time t1, R5xy, and at time t2, R3xy.

            Therefore, the relation between x and y changed from being R5 at time t1 to R3 at time t2.

            To deny the change is real is tantamount to saying either (1), (2), or (3) is false. But they are all true.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            That is propositional logic, not material logic. But never mind that. The point is, motion is still relative. Until the late 1800's we thought that there was an "absolute space" kind of thing, and that motion relative to that was "absolute motion". But we now know there is no such thing.

          • Logike

            Of course motion is relative. It was relative for Newton as well. And your point is what, again? ....Oh, that's right! Relative motion is not real motion, because only absolute motion is real motion.

            But this just begs the question.

            Yawn.

          • Logike

            In any case, inertia proves the universe cannot be an essentially-ordered series. In such a series, no mover in the series possesses the power to actualize the potential of the next unless it is concurrently being actualized by another mover. But an object in inertia DOES have the power (momentum) to actualize the potential of the next without being concurrently "changed" or actualized by another.

            The only other option is to say the Special Theory of Relativity is false because the original mover continues to act upon objects at later and later times and at further and further distances--the *spooky instantaneous action at a distance* that Einstein rejected. So either the Special Theory of Relativity is false, or Aquinas' argument from motion is unsound .

          • Garbanzo Bean

            The current situation indicates that we are wrong to think of constant motion as change at all, or as different from stasis. Suppose two objects do happen to collide, the issue becomes where did either one get the initial impetus to be moving relative to the other, so as to eventually collide.

            Keep in mind that the argument at hand is about change, ie things which are really changing. Folks used to think (and many still do) that simple motion was a great, easy example of real change. The two words were used interchangeably. That is the mistake.

            I totally love quantum entanglement. I think it demonstrates that the universe has more dimensions than we realize.

          • Logike

            "Suppose two objects do happen to collide, the issuebecomes where did either one get the initial impetus to be moving relative to the other, so as to eventually collide."

            --That's one way of looking at two objects about to collide. The other way is determining which change in direction results when two objects of the same momentum collide at
            angles +/- 180 degrees. This change in direction (acceleration) can be determined by appeal to the original direction of their velocities alone independent of acceleration and force. So velocity matters to Newtonian mechanics.

            "The current situation indicates that we are wrong to think of constant motion as change at all, or as different from stasis."

            --No, the "current situation" does not "indicate" this. It is your ridiculous stipulation that velocity doesn't matter in Newtonian mechanics. It does.

            "Folks used to think (and many still do) that simple motion was a great, easy example of real change."

            --Because it IS! Motion is change of location.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "This change in direction (acceleration) can be determined by appeal to the original direction of their velocities alone independent of acceleration and force. So velocity matters to Newtonian mechanics."
            The correct analysis would appeal to their relative velocities. It is relative velocity which matters to Newtonian analysis.

            "Tell the hunter who sees a bear charging toward him full speed ahead that the motion of the bear, contrary to appearances, is "in stasis.""
            The bear's velocity relative to the hunter is what matters. They keyword there is "relative". Relative to the second bear behind that one, also charging at the same speed, the first bear is not moving.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The problem here is that you "demonstrate" your argument in terms of Newtonian Physics and every day phenomenon, but then when it is shown that there are serious deficiencies with such a formulation you then begin to lay out objections to Newtonian Physics using modern science, without reformulating your argument in terms of Modern Physics. Of course Newton is wrong, but you used Newtonian Physics and everyday wisdom to "prove" the existence of a first mover. If you are going to bring modern physics into the mix, you must reformulate your argument. You don't then get to rely on change in position as your first premise - that things move.

            For instance, you have to tell us why the self-composition of protons-neutrons-electrons does not invalidate your premise that everything that is changed must be changed by another.

            Are there any serious philosophers that take cosmological arguments seriously anymore?

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "The problem here is that you "demonstrate" your argument.."
            I am not sure what argument you are referring to. I believe I simply pointed out how similar Newton's Second Law of Motion is to the principle 'whatever is changed is changed by another.' Then some argument ensued about whether motion was real change.

            "but you used Newtonian Physics and everyday wisdom to "prove" the existence of a first mover"
            I dont recall doing anything of the. You might have me confused with someone else.

            "Are there any serious philosophers that take cosmological arguments seriously anymore?"
            Well, the author of the article is a philosophy professor isnt he?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I dont recall doing anything of the. You might have me confused with someone else.

            The original post. My point is that the argument needs to be reformulated in light of modern physics.

            Well, the author of the article is a philosophy professor isnt he?

            When I was Catholic (most of my life), I always thought of Peter Kreeft as something as an embarrassment. Certainly he has made no original contributions to philosophy of any note, nor are his books more than 2nd rate.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "My point is that the argument needs to be reformulated in light of modern physics."
            Then I think we are in agreement. I believe I got involved in this thread because of a claim that simple uniform motion (constant v) is an example of "uncaused change", or something like that. I would say in the light of modern physics (revised Newtonian mechanics) that 1. it is no longer correct to regard uniform motion as "real change", and would also be inclined to add that 2. "relative, apparent motion" would still need an explanation of some kind, i.e., why are two things moving differently relative to each other. I would regard 1 as much more evident than 2.

            In 35 years as a Catholic I have never caught on to Kreeft. When I have read him, I have furrowed my brow and put the book down.

          • Logike

            "It is relative velocity which matters to Newtonian analysis."

            --And shouldn't it matter to your stipulation that the universe is essentially-ordered too? What you aren't realizing is that even if we were to grant that uniform motion is not an instance of change, inertia is still a counterexample to the claim that the universe is an essentially-ordered series. An essentially-ordered series is one where an object cannot impart motion in another object without at the same time being acted upon. But the object in inertia can still impart a change in another (by crashing into it), without at the same time being caused by something else in the moment of acting.

            Or, do you think, like Ye Olde Statistician, that the object imparting the original impetus continues to act on the object at later and later times and further and further distances, contrary to the Special Theory of Relativity?--The "spooky action-at-a-distance" theory (resembling the Newtonian conception of gravity)?

            Like Ignatius Reilly points out rather well, you would need to flip theories mid-argument to salvage the original argument.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            There are both essentially ordered and accidentally ordered causal chains in the world. The principle "whatever is changed is changed by another" would apply to both I would think. The case of uniform motion has been shown to be the case of "being at rest" in at least one inertial reference frame, therefore would not qualify as real change.
            I dont know what idea from YOS you are referring to. Perhaps you could link to a comment.
            Ignatius said what about flip-flopping now?

          • Logike

            "There are both essentially ordered and accidentally ordered causal chains in the world."

            --Right, and so a plethora of unmoved movers as well. How this gets you to only "one" unmoved mover is a complete mystery. Shouldn't all chains be essentially ordered? I don't think it is a coincidence that Aristotle thought there were many unmoved movers, for example.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Im not sure what you mean here.

          • Logike

            "The bear's velocity relative to the hunter is what matters."

            --Right, and their relative position changes with respect to one another. But you said all objects moving relative to one another are actually in "stasis." Do you want to retract this now?

            "They keyword there is "relative".

            --Right, and "relative" does not mean "unreal." Neither is "absolute" synonymous with "real."

          • Ignatius Reilly

            That is a good point. Absolute and real are not synonymous.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            The fact that there is no absolute space means that an object at rest is also moving... depending on what you are using as a relative reference. There is no background in reality against which to measure motion or rest. All objects at rest wrt one inertial reference frame, are also moving wrt innumerably other inertial reference frames. So are they moving, or are they at rest?

          • Logike

            "Based on what I have already said, I would say No. The definition of
            change for Aquinas was "Change is the act of potency as potency."

            --This is a stipulated definition, though. Why should we accept Aquinas's view in the first place? Unless there is good reason for thinking the distinction between act and potency has any merit, I have no reason to think these theoretical terms apply to the world. Most of the metaphysical repertoire with which we describe the world--like causation, natural laws, and properties--have, in part, empirical content, and they thus need to be analyzed. Please see:

            http://spot.colorado.edu/~tooley/CausationChapter1.html
            http://spot.colorado.edu/~tooley/Topic3-Part2-Phil5340.html

            Yet no analysis of "act" or "potency" has been given in this thread. They are just assumed, and then everyone else is expected to go along with them. It is no coincidence that the distinction was rejected in the 17th century and why so many people today are unjustly critiqued for "not really understanding Aquinas." A rigorous analysis is still lacking.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            The concepts of act and potency were introduced by Aristotle, as part of his account as to how both being and becoming could be real things. If only being is real, then Parmenides, if only becoming is real then Heraclitus. Aristotle keeps both.

            Look into those things, it is worth it. I am out of time.

          • Logike

            "The concepts of act and potency were introduced by Aristotle, as part of
            his account as to how both being and becoming could be real things."

            --I challenged you to analyze these concepts because they are not well-articulated, not give me a history lesson.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "I challenged you to analyze these concepts because they are not well-articulated, not give me a history lesson."

            Your concept of a history lesson must be remarkably impoverished if these three short sentences constitute one. How about you challenge yourself to doing a little research? If you care.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Why are theists always telling atheists to do research? At some point telling someone that they don't agree with you because they haven't read enough is a massive dodge.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            I dont know who is always doing what to whom. I would have thought that it is generally rationalists who are telling Fundamentalists to do research, which seems to me very good advice. I have no idea whether the fellow in this case is an atheist or not, nor is it relevant. Knowledge takes work, not comboboxes and online "challenges". I am kindly, for now, accepting the "challenge" of getting the concept of motion clear with him.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Usually when I ask a question about a demonstration, I am either directed to a long article or a book by Fesser. I have had it said to me multiple times on this forum, in other forums, and in real life that I did not accept some philosophical argument for God because I haven't studied it enough.

            Just out of curiosity, how much reading would one have to do to do be able to say that they understand Aristotle?

          • Garbanzo Bean

            How much reading (and reflecting and puzzling) one has to do in order to understand anything is: one lifetime or more.
            I had a philosophy instructor years ago who used to say "there are four questions you have to ask about any philosopher: What did (s)he, what did he mean, why did he say it, and was he right. We wont get to the last question."

          • Logike

            I understand the concept of motion fine. Our disagreement is whether change of relative position constitutes real change. You stipulate the only real change is absolute change. But this is groundless.

            Further, it seems odd for you to refer me to Aristotle when I know for a fact that Aristotle thought change of position relative to objects was real change. Whether he thought change of position was absolute or relative, it makes no difference. The fact is that "Position/location" was included in his categories of being. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categories_%28Aristotle%29 I don't know why appealing to authorities helps your argument anyway when neither Aristotle nor Aquinas utilized a rigorous conceptual analysis in the way that contemporary analytic philosophers do.

            Also, if you think inertia has no bearing on the argument from motion, you're wrong. The argument requires that the uinverse be an essentially ordered series as a premise from which to deduce the existence of an unmoved mover. However, inertia throws breaks in the causal chain. Objects in inertia can act upon other objects without being concurrently acted upon. But in order to arrive at a first cause of motion, lgocially, we require that every object that acts be acted upon in turn. You don't get this in inertia, however. So the argument never gets off the ground.

            Or, do you think the original mover of an object in inertia continues to act upon that object at later and later times and further and further distances? This would be contrary to Special Theory of Relativity which disallows instantaneous action at a distance, I hope you know.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "I understand the concept of motion fine. Our disagreement is whether change of relative position constitutes real change. You stipulate the only real change is absolute change. But this is groundless."
            No, modern physics stipulates that an object with constant velocity with respect to an inertial reference frame is also at rest in one inertial reference frame. So the question of whether such an object is "moving" or "at rest" is meaningless, except relative to some other object.

            "Further, it seems odd for you to refer me to Aristotle when I know for a fact that Aristotle thought change of position relative to objects was real change. Whether he thought change of position was absolute or relative, it makes no difference. The fact is that "Position/location" was included in his categories of being."
            Until the late 1800's everyone thought that there was such a thing as absolute motion and absolute rest. Turns out everyone was wrong, including Aristotle and Newton.

            "Also, if you think inertia has no bearing on the argument from motion, you're wrong. The argument requires that the uinverse be an essentially ordered series as a premise from which to deduce the existence of an unmoved mover."
            The argument in no way requires that the universe be one big essentially ordered series.

          • Logike

            You stipulate the only real change is absolute change. But this is groundless."-No, modern physics stipulates that an object with constant velocity with respect to an inertial reference frame is also at rest in one inertial reference frame. So the question of whether such an object is "moving"
            or "at rest" is meaningless, except relative to some other object."

            --Read what I just said. For the last time, I don't dispute any of this. What I dispute is your contention that absolute motion is required to count as real change. Again, "absolute" is not synonymous with "real," and "relative" is not synonymous with "unreal." You need a demonstration of your contention, not a groundless stipulation.

            "The argument in no way requires that the universe be one big essentially ordered series."

            --Yes it does, otherwise there would be a link in the chain where one cause acted on another without being concurrently caused, and so the regress could proceed to infinity. But a premise in the argument from motion says this is impossible. These situations cannot both be true.

            "Until the late 1800's everyone thought that there was such a thing as absolute motion and absolute rest."

            --I am not talking about Aristotle's view of absolution motion. I am talking about Aristotle including the category of "relation" in his categories of things that really change whether it applies to motion or not. For instance, if A is taller than B, and you cut A half the length of B, A is now shorter than B. "Taller than" and "shorter than," though relations between objects, are relations that really change.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            If neither object is accellerating, then neither object is undergoing a change. Motion is relative, change is real.

            So I guess velocity doesn't exist? If positions don't change with time, velocity is a meaningless concept. We also can't say anything about kinetic energy, because it relies on velocity.

            We know, from Newton's Second Law and from the metaphysical principal "whatever is changed is changed by another" that some third thing acted upon that binary system.

            Newtonian physics does just fine. I don't need a metaphysical principle to explain the system.

            We know now that there is not actually any such thing as "position" other than relatively.

            We don't deny the existence of position. We define it differently depending on the reference frame.

            Unlike Aristotle or Newton, we now know there is no such thing as absolute space. There is no absolute "place". There is no such thing as "at rest". There is no such thing as "in motion".

            Regardless of what Aristotle knew, Newtonian physics certainly takes into account inertial reference frames. Newton's first law is only valid in inertial reference frames.

            I think the problem with these cosmological arguments is that no one has given an adequate definition of a essentially ordered series and then constructed one with all of it's elements. The second problem is that in any essentially ordered series the universe and space time are essential, which would seem to suggest that the universe is what exists that does not need a cause. The third problem is that we are reasoning from Newtonian physics and extrapolating to some "place" that is beyond our knowledge and experience. We don't even know the laws of the early universe, so how can we extrapolate about causes that exist outside the universe (whatever that means)?

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "So I guess velocity doesn't exist? If positions don't change with time, velocity is a meaningless concept. We also can't say anything about kinetic energy, because it relies on velocity."
            Velocity is relative, so is kinetic energy.

            "Newtonian physics does just fine."
            Yes, for the most part. But Newton's concept of Absolute Space has been rendered completely null. This implications of that are not fully appreciated.

            "We don't deny the existence of position. We define it differently depending on the reference frame."
            Position is relative. The demise of absolute space means the demise of absolute position. The reference frame is arbitrary, and is chosen to make the math as easy as possible.

            "I think the problem with these cosmological arguments is that no one has given an adequate definition of a essentially ordered series and then constructed one with all of it's elements."
            We cant seem to agree on position and velocity yet.

            "The second problem is that in any essentially ordered series the universe and space time are essential, which would seem to suggest that the universe is what exists that does not need a cause."
            For not having an adequate definition of the EOS at hand, you make a very broad claim about them.

            "The third problem is that we are reasoning from Newtonian physics and extrapolating to some "place" that is beyond our knowledge and experience."
            Newtonian physics is itself a theory from which we extrapolate to the rest of the solar system and the universe. Newton did that before we had even learned to fly. He wasn't completely right, but he was close.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Velocity is relative, so is kinetic energy.

            Of course, it depends on the speed of the reference frame. This is true in Newtonian physics as well - special relativity changes the transformation used and adds rest energy.

            Yes, for the most part. But Newton's concept of Absolute Space has been rendered completely null. This implications of that are not fully appreciated.

            You took me out of context. The point is that Aristotle does not add anything to Newtonian physics.

            Position is relative. The demise of absolute space means the demise of absolute position. The reference frame is arbitrary, and is chosen to make the math as easy as possible.

            Suppose I have an inertial reference frame with an object moving at velocity vector v. Every inertial reference frame will see the object changing position, except the reference frame moving at a velocity vector v relative to the original reference frame. Change of position is till real change.

            Regardless, light wave propagation would disprove your assertion that position change isn't real.

            "I think the problem with these cosmological arguments is that no one has given an adequate definition of a essentially ordered series and then constructed one with all of it's elements."
            We cant seem to agree on position and velocity yet.

            And you still haven't defined an essentially ordered series. I think we both agree on what position and velocity are - I think we disagree as to whether or not it is real change.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "Regardless, light wave propagation would disprove your assertion that position change isn't real."

            The speed of light is constant for all observers regardless of inertial reference frame. This is what eliminated the possibility of absolute space.

            "Suppose I have an inertial reference frame with an object moving at velocity vector v. Every inertial reference frame will see the object changing position, except the reference frame moving at a velocity vector v relative to the original reference frame. Change of position is till real change."
            The only observers who don't see another object as moving are those whose velocity relative to that object is zero.

            "And you still haven't defined an essentially ordered series."
            When did that become my job?

            "I think we both agree on what position and velocity are - I think we disagree as to whether or not it is real change."
            If you remain an absolutist regarding position and velocity, then we don't agree on those yet.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The only observers who don't see another object as moving are those whose velocity relative to that object is zero.

            That is what I said. If you want to deny it as change in the other frames of reference, you have to reformulate your argument.

            "And you still haven't defined an essentially ordered series."
            When did that become my job?

            Once you advocated for the soundness of the cosmological argument. If I was going to prove propositions about vector spaces, I would first define what a vector space is.

            If you remain an absolutist regarding position and velocity, then we don't agree on those yet.

            I was never an absolutist on position and velocity. We differ about whether or not change in position invalidates the cosmological argument. If you want to define change to be change if and only if it is observed in all inertial reference frames, you are free to do so, but you must then demonstrate the cosmological argument from that definition.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "That is what I said. If you want to deny it as change in the other frames of reference, you have to reformulate your argument."
            Sorry, I misunderstood what you were saying in your velocity vector v statement, I see it now.

            "Once you advocated for the soundness of the cosmological argument."
            I believe I only compared the metaphysical principle "whatever is changing is changed by another" to Newton's laws of motion.

            The article doesnt use the words "cosmological" or "essential" that I can find, and I havent used those terms. You might be confusing me with YOS, who introduced essentially ordered causal chains in this thread here:
            http://strangenotions.com/the-efficient-causality-argument-for-god/#comment-1618842472

            "We differ about whether or not change in position invalidates the cosmological argument. If you want to define change to be change if and only if it is observed in all inertial reference frames..."
            I think we differ about whether or not uniform motion constitutes real change, or only apparent. I dont think it is merely a matter of definition, though I suppose for the sake of argument one could proceed that way.

          • Logike

            I guess God is a vector then? That's weird, because I thought God lacked spatio-temporal location.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            A vector of pure actuality.

          • Logike

            "Yes but matter is NOT an agent but God is,"

            --On the level of Form, Platonic Forms are agents too. God is not required to explain the complexity and order of material phenomena.

            And matter, even if agent-less, does not require an causative agent anyway because matter never came to be in the first place.

            So God as a hypothesis is superfluous as an explanation both of the persistence and organization of matter.

          • Mike

            So you think that platonic forms are a better explanation than god? ok we're making progress.

          • Logike

            Progress toward what? My views or your views?

          • Mike

            mine.

          • Logike

            How so?

          • Mike

            Sorry but we keep going around and around...all the best!

          • Vicq_Ruiz

            Something that "IS EXISTENCE" should not properly be assigned a gender, as "existence" encompasses all elements of the universe whether male, female, or neuter.

          • Mike

            what's gender? gender is a socio political construct created to get lefties votes by making ppl who are skeptics of "gender ideology" out to be BIGOTS! what you mean is Sex and yes you're correct God is neither Male nor Female.

          • Michael Murray

            Can't speak for logike but I'm not. Neither am I rooting for a universe in which there are no wizards only juggles but it seems that is what we have.

          • Mike

            Respectfully i don't believe you; and even if you're not then i think you're making a huge mistake as these are universally acknw. by both christian and atheists as the most important qs of our lives.

          • Michael Murray

            I am curious bc to me it seems well like a total bust like there's no meaning to anything just a blip and infinite nothingness.

            Sure. It is what it is. We don't get to choose. I am curious why you think anyone would be wishing for universe with no meaning, no justice and eternal loss of everybody's loved ones.

          • Mike

            Exactly if you don't hope for that (for "nothingness" then it means you have an opportunity to find any shred of evidence that there is ultimate meaning and an afterlife in which case you should examine all the evidence...BUT that includes ALL evidence not just atheist-APPROVED evidence so prayer, trying to imitate christ's agape love for others etc. etc.
            BTW we do get to choose after all don't we. When i was about 16 my older brother became an ardent atheist who convinced me that "god" was a stupid and silly idea; to which i remember replying fine ok you're right in which case there is no real right or wrong way to live in which case i CHOOSE to IMBUED meaning into the world and inspite of your declaration continue to believe in god...well this pissed him off but it made a point that is inescapable: that human beings are MADE maybe by nothing to WANT MEANING to want something more than what Dawkins hawks namely an empty indifferent machine.

        • Martin Sellers

          Every time I try to think about a being that exists outside of time- my head starts to hurt really bad....

          • Martin Sellers

            Perhaps all out our existence is akin to a "dream" in which our reality is infinite yet fits into the "real" temporal space which we only realize upon "waking up (dying).

          • Mike

            Yes that's what i hope happens that when we die we come to or arrive at or whatever reality itself and "meet our maker" or whatever.

          • Logike

            I have no problem conceiving a being outside time. I just don't see why someone would demand a timeless cause for finite temporal state of affairs when the very supposition of a "temporally finite state of affairs" demands temporal continuity, not timeless continuity. As soon as the theist admits the possibility of finite time, it is not a causeless beginning that is problematic (since nothing "began" to exist in the first place), but rather the finiteness of time that is problematic.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          There is no need for a cause to precede its effect in time. Which comes first: the book pressing on the table or the table pressing on the book? Does "three-sidedness" precede "triangle" when the professor draws one in chalk on the blackboard for the edification of the class.

          Even if it is so regarding causes within the universe, it need not be so for anything that is not in the universe. It's a bit like being confined to the positive real number interval (0,1) and searching for the "big bang" of 0. No matter how far back you go in the positive numbers, there are always more positive numbers. Yet, when viewed from the outside, the interval is clearly finite and actually does have a beginning at 0.

          • Logike

            "There is no need for a cause to precede its effect in time."

            --Though I disagree, my argument doesn't rest on the assumption that causes must precede their effects anyway. The point was that the finite temporality of the universe is not evidence for its contingency. I have already explained this several times.

  • Mike

    This is probably the strongest argument IMHO for God or some ultimate being some neo-platonic Holodeck on which we everything the quantum fields their precise rations depend: unless this is all an illusion and there is actually nothing but in that case the illusion itself still needs some to "exist in" so that doesn't work; and so this logically leads to some things some force some person some "god" which is NOT contingent on anything but is perhaps contingency itself.

  • Mike

    Ok atheists how about this scenario: please tell me how emotionally/metaphysically satisfying it would be:

    we, somehow, "discover" that yup the universe is at bottom an infinite supreme non-contingent thing not God just a "Thing" that's always existed that is the big banger and that is the supreme "ground" for all existence etc. etc.

    NOW, how satisfying is it to find out that you me everyone everything is not destined for eternity but is nothing more than a toy soldier or a computer like being created by an impresonal machine and that there is no meaning aside from the immediate that can be perceived using our senses to our lives; that in essence we are just a bunch of nuts and bolts?

    How on a "human" softy level is that satisfying?

    • Hyder Hussein

      Excuse me, what does "being satisfied " have to do with reality and truth? Why do you think that existence (owes you) satisfaction? Kind of a self-centered approach to reality, if you ask me.

      • Mike

        You're excused now answer the question please...i am being serious.

        • Logike

          I wish I could fly like superman, but that doesn't mean I can. Wishing something doesn't make it so, unfortunately.

          • Mike

            That is an inane answer non answer...just answer the q honestly please...why don't you hope that you're wrong about there being just the brute fact of the physical universe.

          • Logike

            But I would be satisfied with the universe being a brute fact--if that's how it turns out. IF there is any mystery in the fact that the universe exists, then there would be no less mystery in the fact that god exists. Using one mystery to explain another mystery doesn't remove the original mystery.

          • Mike

            I think it does but that's another disc.

          • Logike

            Really? It seems that having the mysteriousness of God's existence left over undermines your whole enterprise. The whole point of arriving at a First Cause was to stop the regress of mystery, not leave it open.

          • Mike

            Not to "stop "the "mystery" of regress but to account for it...do you see the difference? afterall can you for ex explain the mystery of gravity even? i bet you can't.

          • Logike

            But if God's existence remains a mystery, then we simply have to ask, "why God"?--and the regress continues. An essentially ordered causal series requires that the "first element" have explanation too, otherwise it explains nothing.

            I can't explain the mystery of gravity, but I'm not trying to demonstrate anything with it. Besides, I don't think gravity's causal relationship toward material objects is ordered essentially, anyway--only accidentally. Therefore, I don't have to explain gravity in order to explain why objects fall to the ground. But with an essentially ordered causal series, I would.

          • Mike

            "why god" in a purely technical scientific contest you are correct but remember christianity is NOT a technical scheme but more like a screwed up family; why god? bc he/she loves you the way your mom once did when you were 1 month old; he wants to know you and to help you to grow into the person you've been meant to be by loving your neighbor as yourself but i digress.

            My point is that atheists are biased against god in that there are many many things that we experience totally directly that they'll admit we can not explain and yet demand exactly the same kind of evidence for some thing or someone who we claim can only be directly experience in certain ways that apriori are discounted by atheists...i think you know what i mean.

            Anyway if you're interested check out this talk bt john l math prof and peter tse; the secular atheist peter t makes alot of points that christians have been making about determinism the nature of information etc.

            https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEQQtwIwBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DXJ80shcQx7Q&ei=QpcyVMHVHoivyATC84LYAg&usg=AFQjCNF4y1t6243TtJmWzMS8l1y7rYM87w

            or this

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ80shcQx7Q

          • Logike

            I didnt ask why god is involved in human affairs. I asked what accounts for God's existenve in the first place. Surely you dont mean God's existence depends on the existence of human failure

          • Mike

            what failure if there is no god no outside reference our failures are just delusions or purely made up in the moment; w/o an outside reference nothing matters; it's all just an illusion of meaning. like if somewhere it isn't "stated" that 2 plus 2 is four 2 and 2 could be 5.

          • Logike

            You didn't answer the question. Since God's existence is a "mystery," as you say, what explains it? Nothing?

          • Mike

            read the bible for that answer; read it with an open mind.

          • Logike

            I have, and it doesn't answer my question.

          • Mike

            hmmm...ok how about the catechism it's over 1,000 pages long.

            look all jousting aside what you are looking for is a scientific explanation which we've all been saying is NOT the primary or even secondary or even tertiary point or purpose of christianity; ALL we're saying is that as science advances its discoveries like big bang like evolution from the "dust" like i suspect input of non material information into matter energy are COMPATIBLE with the overall narrative of christianity/judaism ie the bible which just means the book in greek; so STOP trying to find god in science he aint there.

            it's almost like everytime atheists and christian engage you guys insist on analyzing the chemical physical biological sociological make up of a cake to find out why it was made and we keep trying to get you to notice the streamers that are hung up the balloons and the snacks etc. and to recognize them as clues NOT proof that the cakes for a birthday...so it's a useless convo bc we're talking about 2 different "levels".

            our only point vis avis science is that the christian dogmas miracles etc DO NOT violate "science" but both are compatible that's it.

        • Hyder Hussein

          It's very, extremely and overwhelmingly satisfying and fulfilling and I'm also serious.
          (I would explain why I feel this way but you seem very specific about the content of the offered answers)
          Feel free to ask.

          • Mike

            Pls explain; i mean why not hope for something rather than just nothing?

          • Hyder Hussein

            Your question is very presuming things I already disagree with you on. It's not "something " vs "nothing "
            I'm a bunch of star dust that is, against mind boggling odds, won the cosmic lottery and formed not only a living organism, but a living organism that is capable of having this very conversation, contimplating it's origins and the origin of the universe while listening to classical music and sipping on OJ...as opposed to a mostly dead and dull and toxic existence...I am in complete content with this reality. If there happens to be a "level two" reality after my brain shuts down and die, well, super,who doesn't want to avoid the endless darkness of "nothingness " but If there isn't level two, well, there isn't.

          • Mike

            Ok cool i completely agree with that; now step 2 ;) search out for any shred of evidence that that level 2 has even a sliver's chance of being true BUT examine ALL the evidnce not just ATHEIST-APPROVED evidence if you k now what i mean.

    • It is not satisfying at all. But my wishful thinking that there be something else doesn't make the something else more likely.

      • Mike

        why isn't it satisfying? seriously why do you seem to "want" there to be more?

        • What I want is irrelevant. We are talking about what is.

          • Mike

            ok so i assume you do want and that is an "IS" isn't it you are real and you are a data point of evidence and so your desire is a real eligible piece of evidence that i would say you shold not discount.

          • A data point as evidence for what? Are you raising the Argument from Desire? This post is not about that fallacious argument either.

          • Mike

            I am saying that only looking at atheist-approved evidence is not rational.

          • I do not look only at atheist-approved evidence. I am happy to look at whatever evidence you might have. I will ignore irrelevant evidence. My or anyone else's desire about the weather are irrelevant to what the weather actually is.

            My desire that there be a heaven is irrelevant to whether there is one.

            The a argument from desire suggests that we can only have desires for things that exist. I think there has been a post on it on SN.

    • Jerome

      Would you be shocked if I responded that I wouldn't find either to be more satisfying than the other? Or that the question doesn't make much sense to me to begin with?

      What I would find satisfying is if near the end of my life I could look back fondly on living a life I consider to be full and meaningful, which would be subjective and unique to everyone considering most would define both terms differently.

      • Mike

        Thanks and i know this will sound rude to you but i honestly don't believe you; i think that you think it's some how uncritical or too dogmatic to say that you'd prefer everlasting life and a caring god but that deep deep deep inside yourself you really would prefer real meaning.

        • Jerome

          "Thanks and i know this will sound rude to you but i honestly don't
          believe you..."

          I don't really care what you believe.

          "i think that you think it's some how uncritical or too
          dogmatic to say that you'd prefer everlasting life and a caring god..."

          No. I don't think everlasting life is all it's cracked up to be. And whether or not a caring god exists is inconsequential to my life as far as I'm concerned.

          "but
          that deep deep deep inside yourself you really would prefer real
          meaning."

          How would an everlasting life or a personal god equate to a more meaningful life?

          Also, why bother to ask a question when you don't actually care about the response?

          • Mike

            I care; thanks for the honest answer...all the best.

          • Jerome

            Why didn't you answer my question regarding the reason why the existence of a god would make a life more meaningful?

            Also, do you understand why I said you don't care about the responses you get?

          • Mike

            i can answer but we just end up going around and around and around; simply put i don't think life can have any meaning anything beyond the basic senses w/o god and that w/o god the universe would be evil an evil machine; but with an afterlife millions of people all over the world who get no justice here (unlike you and me who are at least comfortable white middle class north americans/europeans) who die and starve and don't get to enjoy their applie iphones and eat in fancy restaurants; so god makes a real difference to ppl who thirst for justice and so i think that is the most human aspect of humanity and if you don't want that i personnaly think that's a character flaw: to not care whether hitler faces justice is i think wrong but that's a value judgement.

            Again my personal opinion but very often atheists are rich white liberals ppl who can't see why millions upon millions in fact most ppl on earth believe that existence doesn't boil down to satiating senses everyday but in more eternal things like justice, hope, salvation etc.

            All the best.

          • Jerome

            I'm neither white nor middle class. You would do well to remember that there is actually quite a large portion of American, no matter what race they may be, who are nowhere near middle class. But that's not really here nor there. Finding the existence of god comforting is not really something I disagree with. In fact I can totally understand that aspect of belief. But what someone wants and what is aren't necessarily the same thing. Plus, you don't need god to find comfort in the world even when facing harsh adversity.

            Hoping for justice in an afterlife I can understand, hope and the like. I understand why people want that, I just don't believe there is such a thing. I would rather strive for a just world. That may actually accomplish something. Hoping for something more in place that probably isn't real doesn't actually accomplish anything or make life better for anyone.

            Feel free to pray for something better, or believe that someday something better will come all you want. I'd rather actually try and change things here and now.

          • Mike

            My world view and helping things get better now are not mut. exclusive indeed the richest most stable places on earth are pretty much 95% christian..take care!

  • Hyder Hussein

    Can someone please tell me why the writer thinks that proposing an "uncaused" prime mover is less absurd than an uncaused eternal energy (which ,hypothetically, caused our big bang)?

    And if we ,somehow, arrive at the conclusion favoring an eternal prime mover over eternal universe, why would he (the writer ) calls this prime mover a "god"? Wouldn't a "prime mover" be a more accurate description since he/us have no definite way of inspecting the attributes and properties of this prime mover?

    • Mike

      God prime mover whatever you like use but one is more technical/philosophical while the other is more colloquial.

      What is more likely that a super smart powerful "alien" created the world or that it in essence created itself?

      • Hyder Hussein

        I don't know, Mike. But what I know is this: every observable construct / phenomena in the universe is a result of very simple beginnings and processes; from stars to living cells to space shuttles. Therfore, I'm inclined to suppose the same thing would apply to the origin of the universe. Mind,.this is not a proof but a simple guess coming from a self aware organism living on top of a tiny "blue marble ".

        • Sure, but all of the causes you identify above are material causes, not efficient immaterial causes. These things phenomena are the result of matter, obeying physical laws in time and space. This tells us nothing about how or if something immaterial, spaceless, timeless, changeless could bring about space, time, change and matter. It is mere speculation, no more probable that some kind of eternal material existence.

          • Hyder Hussein

            Sure, but these "changeless, timeless, spaceless, changeless " things are also a guess. An unjustifiable one,I may add.

          • Exactly, it is fine if we clarify that this contingency augment is simply speculation, but it is being presented as a proof. It is listed as argument number 7 for Gods existence on this very website. It is not presented as guess number 7.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            No, it's a deduction from some initial existential fact: that some things in the world are in motion, that there is an ordering of efficient causes, that some things come into and pass out of existence, that there are degrees of transcendentals (like goodness), that nature acts lawfully.

            Now, you may like Zeno, claim that motion is an illusion; or you may disagree with the major or minor premise; or you may contend that the syllogism is invalid. But a deduction is not simply a "guess," and the requirement is to show whether premises or syllogism are unwarranted.

            This is hard to do because the words in which the arguments were formed have changed meaning since Aristotle, Maimonides, ibn Rushd, or Aquinas put them forth. Even the word "proof" no longer means what it originally did. (cf. "White Sands Proving Grounds," "84 proof whiskey," "the proof of the pudding," etc.) Recall that Aquinas wrote "Respondeo dicendum quod Deum esse quinque viis probari potest."
            And the categories of thought have shifted! The Aristotelians meant something different by "cause" than Moderns do. So it's not at all sufficient to argue like a fundamentalist: taking a naive-literal approach to an English translation understanding the words and categories in a colloquial 20th century sense.

        • Mike

          No the simpler parts are actually WAY more complex than the end products bc they contain with in themselves those very possibilities: check out this article by a top physicist on symmetries and the weird maths that were invented for fun but proved to be useful in the real world:

          http://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/10/fearful-symmetries

          Right so the universe self assembled itself and you or Super Intelligent alien created it...the latter is way more reasonable as a hypo.

          • Hyder Hussein

            Mike, are you suggesting that the sugar molecules forming the DNA strands hold more information than DNA it self?
            Of course not.

            (I will read the article now)

          • Mike

            YES i am but their information becomes "actualized" in Structure so until they are "formed" in a "correct" way they "have" nil informatoin and then almost like poof they actualize their potential....also the information is mathematical in a sense not that per se the molecules alone have more info.

          • Hyder Hussein

            This doesn't make these molecules "more complex " than their finalized structure which is what you seemed to be suggesting in your previous comment.

            "Potential" is not the issue here. Complexity is.

          • Mike

            If you are an undergrad with the potential for a phd you are more complex than an undergrad with the potential for an undergrad.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Can someone please tell me why the writer thinks that proposing an "uncaused" prime mover is less absurd than [other stuff]

      1. First, he does not propose it. It is a conclusion.
      2. You are mixing the argument from motion [kinesis: the actualization of potentials] with the argument from the ordering of efficient causes.
      3. Because actualization ultimately depends upon the existence of something purely actual, other consequences follow by deduction: A purely actual being is unique, eternal, immaterial, simple, all-power full, all good, and so forth. These attributes in the aggregate add up to something more than energy.
      4. Everyone seems to get hung up on the existence theorem and never gets to the subsequent corollaries.

  • A few things need to be distinguished in discussions of this kind. There are a variety of causes we identify. A material or physical cause would be the finger hitting the piano key. The efficient cause is the intention to do so. Without both, in this example, the striking of the key does not occur.

    We have many examples of events occurring with no apparent efficient cause. Consider virtual particles appearing. The decay of radioactive material. We have no examples of an efficient cause with no apparent material cause.

    The other is causation of changes in material and causation of all matter to exist. We develop our intuitions of causation, from observing things like the piano keys. We have millions of observations of changes of material, and really none of matter being caused to exist. Unless you count the appearance of virtual particles and so on.

    We use induction to take our observation of changes in matter being preceded by other changes in matter to develop a rule that effects have causes. We have no similar observations to ground the rule that matter beginning to exist have causes.

    I don't think it is at all clear that all matter "began to exist", the quotes here are important, because even this term is not always used the same way. In the very early universe, things like time, space and laws of physics seem to break down.

    In any event, the origin of all existence is going to be pretty impossible to comprehend. Either all matter just exists, has no cause. Or all matter exists because it was brought into existence by an efficient cause and this efficient cause just exists absent any kind of material. Or, there is some other explanation we simply cannot even begin to conceive of.

    I certainly don't know, all possibilities seem impossible to me, but this ignorance does not lead me to a conclusion. It certainly doesn't lead me to chose the seeming tacked on undetectable, inconceivable uncaused efficient cause, that by some unknown, inconceivable way brought all matter into existence.

    I do understand that for some, such a hypothesis might feel comforting. It seems to provide a resolution to this gaping hole in out understanding of the cosmos and seems to rely on an obvious fact of causation. But it doesn't.

    Please check this link for a great series, from which I derived most of this response. http://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6M9lJ0vrA7E17ejxJNyPxRM7Zki-nS6G

    • Mike

      "no apparent efficient cause" key word is apparent...a god of the gaps applies just as well to a science of the gaps argument.

      • Certainly, but no one is making a science of the gaps argument, I am not saying science is the explanation or that it can explain the gap. I am saying we don't know. We may never know. Kreeft is saying we do. It is an argument from ignorance.

        • Mike

          ok but your default is god no? afterall there is something rather than nothing so wouldn't that alone point to an agent?

          we may never know but when you die you will find out no? either 1 you wake up or 2 nothingness for eternity and complete erasing of all your memories etc.

          • Pascal's wager?

            I do not have a default when it comes to whether there is a "cause" of everything coming into existence. I do not know, I do not have beliefs, or suspicions about this.

            Recall we are talking about a variation of the universe beyond a state when time and space did not exist. I simply have no evidence or intuition about this.

          • Mike

            Thanks...do you have a particular hope that one or the other turns out to be true? that either yup god wakes you up or that no nothingingness for infinity?

          • You are now raising a new issue.

            I have no hopes or desires one way or another about whether there is an infinite regress or an uncaused cause.

            I do have a desire to not die, but this has nothing to do with it. There could be an uncaused cause and I will die and be annihilated. Or there could be an infinite regress and I may never die.

          • Mike

            Well then even if the odds of christianity being true are 1 in a billion the proposition it represents is worth it! the pearl of great price and the treasure and all that! take care.

    • Mike

      "seem impossible to me" which one "seems" more plausible to you?

      • Material causation. But I do not claim this is the case. I say we do not know and we do not have sufficient reasons to conclude anything on this point.

        • Mike

          ok cool; i think there is abundant reasons to believe. all the best.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      A material or physical cause would be the finger hitting the piano key.
      The efficient cause is the intention to do so. Without both, in this
      example, the striking of the key does not occur.

      Not exactly. The striking of the key is a doing, not a thing. The thing is the musical tone.
      The material cause is the matter of which the tone is made; viz., vibrations in the air.
      The formal cause is what makes it a musical tone; viz. the pitch, frequency, scale position, etc.
      The efficient cause is whatever made the thing; that is, brings the tone into being. There is an ordering of such causes: the vibrating string, the hammer that struck it, the leverage that transmitted the key motion to the hammer, the depression of the key. Since none of these have causal power of their own, and their very existence points to the existence of a primary cause, the pianist).
      The final cause is what the tone was made for: to entertain an audience, to test the tuning of the piano, to get to the milk dish (the kitten on the keys), or some other such thing; but since the piano is constructed in order to produce such tones, the tone itself may be considered as the final cause.

    • Michael Murray

      It certainly doesn't lead me to chose the seeming tacked on undetectable, inconceivable uncaused efficient cause, that by some unknown, inconceivable way brought all matter into existence.

      Exactly !

      Thanks for that link.

  • David Nickol

    I think we are stuck in a rut with these arguments because they are always presented in terms of Aristotelian philosophy, and although I personally don't find them convincing, I don't have the philosophical background to argue against the assumptions of Aristotelianism.

    Being somewhat familiar with 20th century physics (relativity and quantum mechanics), it does not seem to me intuitively obvious that the assumptions made in these arguments are warranted. Both relativity and quantum mechanics show us that everyday experience—the kind of experience Aristotle or Thomas Aquinas would have been relying on—regarding time, space, and causality is not applicable to ultimate reality. Of course we have a long way to go in our understanding, but it seems to me that the deeper physics goes, the stranger and stranger reality seems to be.

    As I said, I don't have the philosophical background to argue these matters as they are argued by philosophers themselves, but by slogging through articles such as Cosmological Argument from the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, I am aware that there are numerous arguments, including from "big name" philosophers (such as Kant and Hume), that are seldom if ever dealt with here.

    I don't believe one needs to master any particular religious or philosophical view in order to reject it, otherwise we would all be obliged to learn everything before we committed to anything. So I don't think anyone here is obliged to study Aristotelian philosophy to the point of being able to make a reasoned case against its assumptions based on the work of other philosophers (and any personal insights). But a philosophical discussion that does not go beyond Aristotelianism is not going to get us anywhere.

    I would presume Kreeft, Craig, Feser, and so on do go beyond these basic arguments in their books to deal with deeper philosophical objections to their arguments, but of course they are all apologists and will be arguing their own case.

  • David Nickol

    It does not seem to me in any way necessary, if one accepts this argument, that the "uncaused cause" is only one step removed from what we think of as "our universe." Why could it not be the case that the "uncaused cause" created something completely unintelligible to us—call it Reality A—and beings in Reality A created a Reality B, from which beings created a Reality C, and so on, until it reached Reality Z, 26 levels removed from the "uncaused cause."

    There is such a huge gap between God and humans that there seems to be no good reason, based on the "Efficient Causality Argument," to assume human beings were directly created by God.

    • Mike

      We weren't directly created by God; we were directly created from the "dust of the earth" per Genesis, ancient lingo for Evolutionary processes.

      • David Nickol

        I am not sure that actually addresses my point.

    • Vicq_Ruiz

      The Christian account of history fits the hypothetical of an "uncaused cause" which created a being whose powers are sufficiently greater than humans so as to appear omnipotent with respect to them.

      This being, who we'll call Jehovah, has been tinkering unsupervised with the affairs of humans in his well-known capricious way for the last X million years, just as parents will allow a child to play unsupervised with dolls or toy soldiers, treating them "respectfully" at some times but breaking their heads or limbs off at others.

  • Chesire11

    Time is simply the segregation of cause from effect. It is part of the structure of the universe itself - there is no part of the universe that lies "outside of time" - therefore, neither the universe, nor anything within the universe can be its own efficient cause. If the universe cannot cause itself, then it must be externally induced. Since anything external to the universe lies outside of time, eternal causes and effects do not, and probably cannot be distinct one from the other, they can, and perhaps must be one and the same.

    It is not so much a case of God being an "uncaused cause" as it is that He is a self causing cause.

    (...and the idea of a self causing loop doesn't get around this as such a loop itself, and the laws by which it is shaped and operate are ingredient to the universe, and so themselves are necessarily an effect of some distinct cause)

    • Logike

      Cosmology sometimes will say the universe is "finite in time." But that's not the same thing as saying the universe "came to be." You need to distinguish these two ways of talking because they are logically incompatible notions of time. "Coming to be" is a form of change, and change requires time. But that the universe is finite in time is not a form of change, and hence not a fact requiring a cause. The notion of "X coming to be" means there was a time T-1 at which X was not and a later time T0 at which X was. But if time is finite, then there was NO time T-1 "prior" to time T0, which is the first moment of X's existence.

      Suppose you said that all time came to be at T0. If this is true, then there must be a time T-1 at which time did not exist, which is a contradiction. Therefore, because there was no time before time, the universe never actually came to be, and hence no transition of the universe from one state into the other.

      Nothing about the finite temporality of the universe requires a cause.

      • Chesire11

        I agree that the universe cannot be said to have "come into being" in a change from some previous condition. To speak of the universe in such terms projects our subjective temporal context upon an eternal context, almost like describing a three dimensional object in a two dimensional medium, it expresses the object in two dimensional terms, but at the cost of distorting angles, and measurements. There can be no T-1, as you put it. But what I am decribing is not a causal relationship manifested within time, I am saying that the existence of the universe, in every moment of time, not merely the first instant, is eternally induced.

        Outside the universe it is incoherent to speak of either time, or change, so there is no such thing as any subset of eternity prior to the existence of the universe. We can, however, speak of sequence, which expresses causal relationship in terms of contingency, not change, as in the universe is eternally contingent upon, or subordinate to an eternal cause.

        • Logike

          "But what I am decribing is not a causal relationship manifested within
          time, I am saying that the existence of the universe, in every moment of
          time, not merely the first instant, is eternally induced."

          --"Eternally induced"? But eternity is time, and to be eternally induced means to be sustained by something at every moment of time.

          I think you mean a "timeless cause." The problem, however, is that I don't see how this necessarily follows as a conclusion of any argument assuming the finite temporality of the universe as a premise. You haven't offered such an argument. In other words, you have given me no reason to think the finite temporality of the universe entails contingency, and hence, requiring a cause--temporal, timeless, or otherwise.

          Notice: finite temporality entails contingency only if there must be a moment in time prior to the first moment in time, which is absurd, because our original stipulation was that there was NO time before time.

          • Roman

            You misunderstand the meaning of the word eternal or eternity. It simply means without beginning or end. This can be used in more than one way. The first way (the way you're thinking of it) is infinite time. A world that is infinite with respect to time would be eternal. The second way is timeless. A timeless world or being also has no beginning or end. The latter meaning is the one typically used by theists in reference to God. You can find these meanings in any dictionary.

          • Roman

            Notice: finite temporality entails contingency only if there must be a moment in time prior to the first moment in time, which is absurd

            Wrong. Your error, which you keep repeating, is due to the fact that you mistakenly think that cause and effect can only take place in linear fashion, i.e., in time. However, its clear that cause and effect can be simultaneous, e.g., the a dinner table supporting a plate.

        • Logike

          "We can, however, speak of sequence, which expresses causal relationship in terms of contingency, not change"

          --I understand that's what you "speak." But can you actually demonstrate, logically, that such a relationship obtains between god and the totality of all matter and space-time? I just don't see a non-question-begging reason for thinking the persistence of the totality of matter and space-time is, in fact, contingent, and hence, requiring a cause.

  • Graham Heine

    The issue is the metaphysical presupposition of causality, forged during the time of Aristotle and Aquinas, needs to be reviewed by those who hold on to it too tightly. Causality depends on A. patterns within the universe (laws) and B. arrow of time / entropy. Laws of physics don't depend on intuitions about causality, but rather, it's the other way around. A and B may not exist outside nature; therefore causality principle need not apply outside nature.
    Aristotle and Aquinas, like us, lived on "middle earth". The reality of the very large and the very small are queer and unintuitive. We know more now.
    Like a rack of billiard balls being struck by a ball, there is a clear before and after, or sequence of what would be called cause and effect. The arrow of time from low to high entropy is obvious. If you filmed this event, you would know the difference of the film running forward or backward. But not so on another level completely. Two billiard balls hitting each other has no discernible change in entropy, arrow of time, or cause or effect. Running the film forward and backwards is the same. Although I am simplifying to illustrate, this is why the discussion of causality makes little sense of reality.