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Revisiting the Argument from Motion

St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the unintended but happy consequences of the emergence of the new atheism is a renewed interest in the classical arguments for God’s existence. Eager to defend the faith that is so vigorously attacked today, Catholic apologists and evangelists have been recovering these rational demonstrations of the truth of God; and the atheists, just as eager to defend their position, have entered into the fray. In the process, these ancient arguments, long thought by many to be obsolete, have found a new relevance and have been brought to greater clarity through the give and take of both critics and advocates.

Thomas Aquinas famously laid out five arguments for the existence of God, but he characterized one of them as “the first and more manifest way.” This is the proof from motion, which can be presented simply and schematically as follows. Things move. Since nothing moves itself, everything that is moved must be moved by another. If that which causes the motion is itself being moved, then it must be moved by another. This process cannot go on to infinity. Therefore, there must exist a first unmoved mover, which all people call God.

In order to avoid misunderstanding (and it’s fair to say that this argument has been misunderstood for centuries), several observations are in order. When Aquinas speaks of motion, he means change of any kind, not simply change of location. Growth in wisdom, fluctuation in temperature, birth, death, etc. are all examples of motion, or in his more technical language, the transition from potency to actuality. Once we grasp what Aquinas means by motion, it is relatively easy to understand why he insists that nothing can move or change itself. Whatever is in motion must be in potency, while that which causes change must be in actuality, just as the one learning French doesn’t yet possess the language and the one teaching it does. Now since the same thing cannot be potential and actual at the same time in the same respect, nothing can be, simultaneously, both mover and moved. No one, strictly speaking, teaches himself French.

But let us suppose that the cause which is putting something in motion is itself being put in motion; then by the same principle, its change must be prompted by another. But this chain of moved movers cannot be indefinite, since the suppression of a first element would imply the suppression of every subsequent mover and hence, finally, of the motion that is evident to our senses. In regard to the negation of this sort of infinite causal series, the twentieth century philosopher Bertrand Russell had a particularly unhelpful observation. Russell opined that Thomas Aquinas couldn’t imagine such a series, because medievals hadn’t yet come to terms with the idea of infinite sets. Nothing could be further from the truth. Aquinas had absolutely no problem imagining infinite series, since he speculated about them all the time. What he is denying is the possibility of an infinite causal series in which each element in the chain is here and now dependent upon the influence of a higher cause. Think of a pen which is here and now being moved by a hand, which is here and now being moved by muscles, which are here and now being moved by nerves, which are here and now being stimulated by the brain, which is here and now being sustained by blood and oxygen, etc. If we suppress the first element in this sort of chain, the entire causal nexus would collapse and the motion under immediate consideration would not be adequately explained. Therefore it follows that a prime mover exists, which is to say, an unactualized source of actualization, an unenergized energizer, an ultimate source of all of the change in the cosmos.

Now there are many atheists and agnostics who acknowledge that this demonstration is logically airtight but who quarrel with the association that Aquinas makes, almost casually, at the very end: “and this all people call God.” There might indeed, they say, be a prime mover or uncaused principle but this first element in the causal chain might be matter or energy or some such physical element. Many point to the famous law of the conservation of energy and conclude that the fundamental stuff of the universe just undergoes continual change of form throughout time.

In order to answer this objection, we have to examine the nature of the unmoved mover a bit more carefully. That which is truly the uncaused or unmoved source of energy must be fully actualized (actus purus in Aquinas’s pithy Latin), which means that it is not capable of further realization. But energy or matter is that which is capable of undergoing practically infinite change. Energy or matter is endlessly malleable and hence about as far from actus purus as can be imagined. A rather simple thought experiment shows that such primal physical elements cannot be the unmoved mover. Neither matter nor energy exists as such but always in a particular form or configuration. In regard to either, one could always ask, what color is it, at what velocity does it move, under what conditions does it exist? A given piece of matter is one color, but it could be any other color; energy is at one quantum level, but it could be at any other. Therefore, we are compelled to inquire about the cause that made it to exist this way rather than that. We can appeal, of course, to some other material cause, but then we are compelled to ask the same question about that cause, and having recourse indefinitely to similarly material movers won’t get us anywhere closer to an ultimate explanation. The philosophical dictum that sums up this state of affairs is “act precedes potency.” The first cause of change cannot be itself subject to change.

The unmoved mover is that which exists in a state of pure realization, that which cannot be improved in its being, that which simply is, that which is utterly in act. Do you see now why Thomas Aquinas equated it with God?
 
 
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Bishop Robert Barron

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Bishop Robert Barron is Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He is an acclaimed author, speaker, and theologian. He’s America’s first podcasting priest and one of the world’s most innovative teachers of Catholicism. His global, non-profit media ministry called Word On Fire reaches millions of people by utilizing new media to draw people into or back to the Faith. Bishop Barron is also the creator and host of CATHOLICISM, a groundbreaking, 10-part documentary series and study program about the Catholic Faith. He is the author of several books including Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master (Crossroad, 2008); The Strangest Way: Walking the Christian Path (Orbis, 2002); and Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith (Image, 2011). Find more of his writing and videos at WordOnFire.org.

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  • waltercarlson

    If one takes modern science such as Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and has an open mind one would see they fit right into the "theory" of God and the Fall of Mankind. The Big Bang is simply the expulsion from the garden of Adam and Eve. Time is eternal except here in the state of space/time. A book would be needed for the rest.

    • Mike

      Many atheists are biblical literalists and seem to think the bible is a science textbook; that notwithstanding; it is amazingly accurate about the big things that we've discovered to be true via modern science:

      1. "in the beginning" - Steady State OUT Big Bang IN! - Thank you Catholic Priest George Lemaitre.
      2. "from the dust" - Modern theory of evolution: we evolved from "lower" forms of life into our current state we didn't simply "pop" into existence out of some "quantum fluctuation".

      • tmpy1

        DNA - All races originated in one man, one woman.

        • Mike

          Amazing how even "back then" that ruled out any kind of racial/ethnic hierarchies. Here's one more:

          The weekend: God rested thousands of years before we got a break from work every week.

        • Caravelle

          That hasn't been discovered true via modern science; all evidence points to humans having undergone a population bottleneck of a few thousands or tens of thousand individuals (I can't remember which right now), but not fewer than that.

        • tmpy1

          Refer to the National Geographic Genome Project.

          • Caravelle

            Was that a reply to me ? Sorry I missed it. Looking at some pages of the National Geographic Genome Project they do make some ambiguous statements, such as "we are all descended from a common African ancestor who lived only 140,000 years ago" (which is wrong on its face, though I suspect the author of that sentence was focusing on the "African" rather than on the "a"), and describing using the Y chromosome to track the most recent common ancestor who had that chromosome, which can sound like saying there is one individual who's the single ancestor of everyone but doesn't (while all the other Y chromosomes in that ancestor's population died out, the individuals with those Y chromosomes are also our ancestors as they contributed to the rest of our genomes. Same thing with mitochondrial DNA).

            I can tell you more about the actual science on this and try and find open-access resources you can look up if you're interested (I mean, I assume you've already checked Wikipedia). Are you interested in what science actually says about how small human populations ever got in the past and why, or were you just looking for confirmation that "science says all races originated in one man, one woman"?

      • waltercarlson

        I am trying to suggest that science such as Einstein and Quantum is proof of certain things Christians believe. Christ appearing in several locations at once is supported by Quantum and God existing out of time by Einstein's theory that time is not constant everywhere.

        • Mike

          I figured; i wouldn't "go that far" but it is interesting and at least compatible; it's like what the church said about evolution namely that it may be wrong or right but at least it is compatible with the faith.

    • Krzysztof

      Do not mix poetry with astronomy and biology; already Origen (2nd cent.A.D) knew it:" how was there light (1st day) before the existence of the Sun (4th day)?" Ps. pseudoscientists and Buddists like Quantum Mechanics because they do not see (why?) the difference between a measuring device and the observer/ performer of an experiment. Yeh, a lot pseudoscience's junk on the so called "paradoxes"

      • tmpy1

        Do not reduce God to (present and limited) human reasoning.

    • Well said.

  • Bob

    A few problems. Here is one.

    Aquinas didn't have the privilege of knowing Newton, but we do.

    Aquinas, like Aristotle before him used intuition to draw this conclusion. However, Aquinas's intuition was not scientifically accurate. There can be no unmoved mover, since movers are themselves moved in the moving.

    The only way out of this is to assume that there is something that does have the ability to move without being moved, which of course makes the argument circular, at least from a modern perspective.

    Specifically:

    "If that which causes the motion is itself being moved, then it must be moved by another."

    This seems to have been more true than Aquinas realized since that which causes motion is in fact moved by that which it moves.

    Now, while it is true that Aquinas's argument is supposed to apply to all change in general, (it is a metaphysical argument); it does not in fact apply to all change in general, thus at least one premise is false and the argument is unsound.

    • Hey, Bob! Thanks for the comment. A few replies:

      "A few problems [with Fr. Barron's article]. Here is one. Aquinas didn't have the privilege of knowing Newton, but we do."

      Why is this a problem? Nothing in Newtonian physics contradicts Aquinas's argument from motion.

      "Aquinas, like Aristotle before him used intuition to draw this conclusion. However, Aquinas's intuition was not scientifically accurate. There can be no unmoved mover, since movers are themselves moved in the moving."

      Your last sentence is false because it's self-contradictory: an unmoved mover cannot be "moved in the moving."

      "Now, while it is true that Aquinas's argument is supposed to apply to all change in general, (it is a metaphysical argument); it does not in fact apply to all change in general, thus at least one premise is false and the argument is unsound."

      It does apply to all change in general. Simply stating that it does not, without providing any counter-examples, is a mere assertion and not a defeater of Aquinas's argument. Thus the premises remain true and argument sound.

      • > Nothing in Newtonian physics contradicts the philosophical argument from motion.

        It at least puts in question the "empirical evidence" in which Aquinas is based on. Keyword: inertia.

        Garrigou Lagrange couldn't cope with this; his appendix about the inertia issue (in God, His Existence and Nature) is a shame.

        Any revisitation of the proof that refuses to accept the dependence of Aquinas' arguments towards the physics of his time, is doomed.

        • Thanks for the reply, Hernán! I'm not sure I agree with your dire prognosis, but even supposing you were right, the argument can easily sidestep this problem by referencing other forms of change, like change in wisdom, existence, temperature, etc.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          How does inertia matter? Remember, the "motion" in question here is kinesis, which is the actualization of a potential, that is: a change to something a body already has. As such, it is more akin to acceleration than to velocity, and as Newton pointed out, there can be no change in local motion unless acted upon by an outside force.

          As to the change in location, the cause is simply whatever gave the body its original impetus: a baseball bat, a supernova, the big bang, whatever. Since the impetus (we say "momentum" nowadays) is permanent unless it is corrupted by a contrary impetus (such as friction, or the gravitational attraction of Saturn), this motion would continue indefinitely.

          Inertia is not a principle of motion. That is, nothing moves because it has inertia. Inertia is a resistance to a change in (local) motion. That resistance must be overcome and, since physics tells us there is no inertia-less space drive, this requires action by something other than the body itself.

          Not sure even that inertia applies at all to the ripening of an apple or the maturation of a tiger cub.

          Even a cat moving across the floor to a milk dish is moved by its parts -- the legs, etc. -- and finally by the milk dish itself.

      • Bob

        Brandon,

        I merely pointed out an example of change that does not conform to Aquinas's general argument for all change. Therefore, one of Aquinas's premises is unsound, or his argument only applies to certain types of change meaning that his conclusion does not follow and becomes a non-sequitor.

        • "I merely pointed out an example of change that does not conform to Aquinas's general argument for all change. Therefore, one of Aquinas's premises is unsound, or his argument only applies to certain types of change meaning that his conclusion does not follow and becomes a non-sequitor."

          Thanks again for the reply, Bob! You did propose a counter-example to Aquinas's premise, but I showed above how it fails to disprove the premise because it simply begs the question.

          To actually prove Aquinas's argument unsound, you have to show that it doesn't beg the question, or propose another flaw in his argument.

          • Bob

            Brandon, I am not crafting a syllogism, I am empirically refuting Aquinas's intuition. That is what you need to deal with.

          • "Brandon, I am not crafting a syllogism, I am empirically refuting Aquinas's intuition. That is what you need to deal with."

            Bob, thanks again! Your attempt to refute the argument was not formed as a syllogism, but it can be expressed in that form without problem, a form which makes it easier to engage.

            That said, I still don't see how you've "empirically refuted" Aquinas's intuition that an unmoved mover is possible (and even more, according to his argument, necessary.)

            You seem to suggest that "[all] movers are themselves moved in the moving." Besides simply begging the question, as explained above, you haven't provided any empirical proof for this claim.

            You must either provide some or pursue another attempt to refute the argument. Otherwise this attempt fails.

          • Bob

            I think you are missing the point of my objection.

            As I said above, the evidence is Newton's Laws of Motion.

            I am positing an empirical objection.

            So, in order to answer my objection, you simply need to show that Newton is wrong.

          • "I think you are missing the point of my objection."

            Perhaps I am, and if so, it's likely due to my own density. But it may also be due to the point being flawed or poorly explained.

          • Bob

            Perhaps. It just seems pretty clear to me.

          • C Dickie

            The empirical by definition deals with the material, since only material thing have quantity and can therefore be measured.

            It is expected that material things when function as movers are moved movers. Newton's findings in this respect are not contrary to Aristotle's.

            If Aquinas is right about motion, we should not be able to observe any unmoved mover.

            Even in the most limited since of motion being unmoved requires being immaterial (thus unable to be measured).

          • Bob

            I suppose, except then you don't need Aquinas's argument to prove the existence of the immaterial if you are just going to assert its existence in the first place.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            No, that's one of the conclusions that follow from it, not a prior assumption.

          • Bob

            That it doesn't actually follow is the problem.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Make up your mind. Is it a begged question or is it an invalid syllogism? That actus purus must be immaterial is demonstrated in a later question, not in the argument from motion itself. When Aquinas wrote "...and this all men call God," he should have added: "details to follow."

          • C Dickie

            I'm not asserting the existence of the immaterial. I'm answering your objection that all measurable movers have been shown to be moved mover.

            That material movers are always also moved does not disprove the need for an unmoved mover. Instead it will become a premise for a later argument that the unmoved mover must be immaterial.

          • RosaryVictory

            The word "infinite" means without beginning and without end. Unchanged and unchangeable. Infinite Perfection does not change. or into whom?

          • Hawtry

            "The empirical by definition deals with the material." No. See Berkeley.

          • Will

            On Berkeley's view, illusions and errors of perception must be God lying, a very problematic position.

          • "As I said above, the evidence is Newton's Laws of Motion.

            I am positing an empirical objection.

            So, in order to answer my objection, you simply need to show that Newton is wrong."

            You can't just say "the evidence is Newton's Laws of Motion." You have to show why those laws of motion contradict Aquinas's argument. Yet they do not. Until you show that they do, this is not a serious objection to the argument.

          • Bob

            Hi Brandon, just think about Aquinas's concept of motion. He has movers moving things, a one-way action. What he missed, through no fault of his own, was that motion is not in fact a one-way action as Newton showed.

            Since we do know this about motion, we can apply this back to Aquinas's argument. In doing so, the conclusion of an unmoved mover no longer necessarily follows from the premises, properly understood.

          • "Hi Brandon, just think about Aquinas's concept of motion. He has movers moving things, a one-way action. What he missed, through no fault of his own, was that motion is not in fact a one-way action as Newton showed."

            Hey, Bob. I'm not sure you understand Aquinas, at least if your comment above is indicative. He was no fool. He understood how motion worked.

            I think your confusion stems from your assumption that Aquinas and Newton were interested in the same questions concerning motion. But as Dr. Edward Feser notes:

            "Newton’s laws of motion ...provide a mathematical description of motion suitable for predictive purposes without bothering about the origins of motion or the intrinsic nature of that which moves."

            In other words, Newton was seeking answers to a totally different question that Aquinas was asking. Thus there is no conflict between the answers they each deduce.

            "Since we do know this about motion, we can apply this back to Aquinas's argument. In doing so, the conclusion of an unmoved mover no longer necessarily follows from the premises, properly understood."

            I disagree. There is no conflict between Newtonian motion and Aquinas's argument from motion. Again, please read this short article by Dr. Edward Feser which exposes the illusory conflict:

            http://faculty.fordham.edu/klima/SMLM/PSMLM10/PSMLM10.pdf

            And finally, once again, I'll say for the fifth time: even if you were right, this would not disprove Aquinas's argument for the argument does not depend on every change requiring an unmoved mover, but only some (or even just one).

          • Bob

            Your last paragraph shows exactly the problem you are having. For Aquinas's conclusion to logically follow from his premises, the argument must be able to account for change in general, which even you admit, it does not.

            Remember what Aquinas is trying to deduce.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Do you actually think he was trying to develop a physics theory of local motion? Remember his first observation: "We see in the world that some things are in motion."

          • Bob

            No, I think he was trying to make a metaphysical argument about change per se.

          • VeritatisSplendor

            Hello Bob,

            Aquinas isn't making metaphysical arguments about change: change is something affecting material (physical) things. Metaphysics is the science dealing of things that can be understood apart from matter and can exist apart form matter (see the Commentary on the De Trinitate). Some objects of metaphysics exist in matter sometimes, metaphysics does not consider them under these circumstances. That is the real of physics, in which Aquinas is here firmly situated.

            His argument is that change requires a cause, all changed things are changed by another [except motion/change through a part, which can't account for the motion(s)/change(s) of the universe], and that, in a series of per se causes, one cannot proceed to infinity—all physical arguments.

          • Bob

            Metaphysics in the sense of change as such.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            No. Aristotle and the others were reasoning deductively from the fact of kinesis. They were not trying to explain kinesis as such; at least not in these arguments.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "Bodies act upon each other by touching, whence it follows that they are simultaneously acted upon [in return], since what touches is acted upon. But this should be understood [only] when there is mutual contact [mutuus tactus], as happens in those things that share in a common matter, each of which is being acted upon by the other while they are touching each other."
            -- Thomas Aquinas, III Phys., lect. 4, n. 5

            This disagrees with Newton's third law, how?

          • Bob

            Bodies need not "touch" each other to effect each other...

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Do you mean "effect" or "affect"?

            How does the action of the solar photons bouncing off the apple's skin affect the Sun?

            Take e.g. "gravity." The Sun touches the field of Ricci tensors, causing a distortion in the space-time "fabric." This "dimple" curves the geodesic the motion of the Earth. The Earth does the same of course, but to a much lesser extent. In the same way, Tiger Woods affects the golf ball without touching it. He touches the club which touches the ball.

          • Rob Abney

            YOS, does an actualizer change when it acts? Does pure act change because it acts upon potentials?
            In your explanation of the solar photons does the sun change by acting?
            I've read through a lot of this older thread but am not quite clear on this point. I'm trying to support the position that pure act is unchangeable.
            Thanks.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            It might. If it is a moved mover then it is also a mixture of potency and act, and therefore can be actualized. Pure act, because it contains no potencies cannot be changed.

          • Rob Abney

            Thanks. My specific concern is how to support that pure act cannot change. When the unactualized actualizer first actualized how did He not change at least by expending some energy?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            When the unactualized actualizer first actualized

            It did not "first actualize." It is unactualized. That's like what made existence itself exist or what illuminates light?

          • Rob Abney

            I didn't mean that it was actualized but that it actualized something other.
            I understand that pure act does not change, cannot logically change, but am trying to explain it rather than just asserting it.
            I appreciate your help.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            So you are thinking of a scenario like a baseball bat hitting a ball. The ball is moved by the bat, but the bat is also "moved" by the ball -- or according to Newton's third law of motion, the ball exerts an equal and opposite force against the bat?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            You can't simply chant an incantation. In what way does "Newton's Laws of Motion" counter Aquinas' argument? "A body at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force" actually seems a fair restatement of one of Aquinas' premises. And that "a body in (local) motion remains in rectilinear (local) motion unless acted upon by an outside force" simply states that if there is no change, there is no need for a changer. The body already has the motion, so there is no change in the sense meant by Aristotle, Maimonides, ibn Rushd, or Aquinas.

          • Bob

            Irrelevant to the objection I raised.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            But you haven't raised an objection. You have only claimed that there is an objection. You haven't actually said what that objection is.

          • GCBill

            "The body already has the motion, so there is no change in the sense meant by Aristotle, Maimonides, ibn Rushd, or Aquinas."

            I don't think Fr. Barron agrees with you:

            A rather simple thought experiment shows that such primal physical elements cannot be the unmoved mover. Neither matter nor energy exists as such but always in a particular form or configuration. In regard to either, one could always ask, what color is it, at what velocity does it move, under what conditions does it exist?

            [Added emphasis mine.] He seems to think velocity is included amongst the sort of configurations that need to be explained by the Argument From Motion. Since your clarification is buried within a long comment thread, might I suggest publishing a short response to this article addressing this discrepancy? Because as far as I can tell, if change in location due to velocity counts, the argument does fall:

            1) Change in location is a kind of change (that is to say, a subset of "change of any kind").
            2) Change in location does not require an external force (see: conservation of momentum).
            3) So change in location does not require an external mover.
            4) So there is a type of change that does not require an external mover.
            C) So P2 ("Since nothing moves itself,
            everything that is moved must be moved by another.") is false. [Emphasis again mine.]

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Well said.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Change in location does not require an external force (see: conservation of momentum).
            So change in location does not require an external mover.

            A body in inertial motion changes location because of the mover that originally imparted the uncorrupted impetus. (Impetus, which was proportional to speed and weight, was the medieval way of saying "momentum." Momentum is simply the Latin word meaning "motion.")
            The conservation of momentum was enunciated by Jean Buridan de Bethune in the 14th century:

            Possem enit dici quod quando deus creavit sphaeras coelestes, ipse incepit movere unamquamque earum sicut voluit; et tunc ab impetus quam dedit eis, moventur adhuc, quia ille impetus non corrumpitur nec diminuitur, cum non habent resistentiam.
            -- Quaestiones super caelo et mundo
            [Emph. added]

            The key observation in Buridan's case was the observation of a miller's wheel that continued to roll after the crown gear connecting it to the water wheel had been disengaged. (There may have been earlier notice, but Buridan is usually credited with the final version of impetus (momentum) theory.

            IOW, as mentioned previously: a change in motion requires being moved concurrently by another, what Newton called an "outside force." The change in location during inertial motion is due to the impetus (momentum) imparted by the original mover, such as by a Saturn V rocket or a supernova or a big bang. But as Buridan noted, this impetus is "neither corrupted not diminished" unless it encounters a "resistance" ["contrary force"]. IOW, a body in inertial motion already has a motion (L. momentum, one that has already been given it by a mover at some point in the past, much as a man after completing the appropriate lessons may continue to speak French without a tutor concurrently whispering in his ear!

            And, of course, that is the distinction between an accidentally-ordered series and an essentially-ordered one; and it is only the essentially-ordered ones that require a primary actualizer, right here, right now.

          • Logike

            But Aquinas' argument is still unsound because some changes do not require an external mover.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Such as?
            Remember, when Aristotle said "moved by another," he meant moved-as-a-whole and pointed out that the whole is often moved by one of its parts. Thus, the golfer's arms are moved by his muscles, which are moved by his nerves, which are moved by his motor neurons, etc.

          • David Nickol

            The following is not a rhetorical question: What is the point of trying to argue in Aristotelian terms pretty much for this debate only? Is it not possible to state the same argument in modern terms? You responded as follows to one of my comments:

            We know that nothing can move itself as a whole because whatever is being moved is in potency with respect to X while movers must be in act with respect to X, and nothing can be in potency and in act in the same respect at the same time.

            That is scarcely helpful to anyone who is not already an Aristotelian or Thomist. I have stumbled across this on Edward Feser's blog:

            James Chastek of Just Thomism suggests: “A thomist could probably teach the whole history of modern thought as an overlooking of the distinction between potency and act.”

            Well said. Readers of this blog and of The Last Superstition have known me to identify the abandonment of final causes as the original sin of modern philosophy. But one might just as well bang on the act and potency drum, as the Neo-Scholastics did, and as I do myself in much of TLS. For the notions are deeply interrelated: A potency or potential is a potency for some act or actuality, toward which it points as an end; and to have an end is to be in potency towards it. It is not for nothing that the very first of the famous Twenty Four Thomistic Theses is: “Potency and Act divide being in such a way that whatever is, is either pure act, or of necessity it is composed of potency and act as primary and intrinsic principles.”

            What this says to me is that "modern thought" is mistaken and incapable of dealing appropriately with such issues as the "argument from motion." So is the message here (from Fr. Barron, you, and Brandon, among others) that "modern thought" is wrong, and we must become Aristotelians? If so, I would think that as preparation for arguments in Aristotelian terms, there should be a critique of "modern thought" that demonstrates where it has gone astray. This would seem to be a prerequisite for jumping right into an argument that presumes familiarity and agreement with Aristotelianism.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Chastek wrote elsewhere:

            There is a good deal of truth to the idea that medieval philosophy simply never ends: there is one subtle distinction after another, one school-controversy after another, and by the time one gets to Gabriel Biel or John of St. Thomas it is not clear whether all the amassed distinctions involve precisions that people can actually see. There is a corresponding amount of truth in the idea that modern philosophy never begins, there is just one critique and condemnation of ones predecessors after another in an attempt to get the first things right; and by the time on gets to Heidegger we are declaring that philosophy can finally get started for the tenth time in two hundred years. We postmodern people are quite confident that we won’t fall for this ruse again: we all see that there is no system. I sometimes think this is a welcome development, and at other times a sheer facade and horror.

            IOW, the critique of modern philosophy has been carried out ... by modern philosophers. Each new school starts by demolishing its predecessor. Is anyone seriously a Cartesian anymore? Can any combination of Hume and Nietzsche be coherent? IOW there is no "modern philosophy" in the sense of a single coherent system such as Aristotle put together.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Each new school starts by demolishing its predecessor.

            I would say they learn from their predecessors and build on their predecessors by avoiding their predecessors mistakes.
            I'm pretty sure Kant influences everyone.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            We can only hope not.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Change in position.

          • Logike

            "when Aristotle said "moved by another," he meant moved-as-a-whole and
            pointed out that the whole is often moved by one of its parts."

            --This is entirely irrelevant, and is a kind of "No true Scotsman fallacy." The fact remains Inertia is a counterxample to premise 2 of the argument, so premise 2 is false. Objects in inertia change location without an external mover.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "No true Scotsman" is not a fallacy, or at least not necessarily so. Consider:

            A: “All fish breathe through gills rather than lungs.”
            B: “But whales are fish, and they breathe through their lungs.”
            A: “Whales may look and seem like fish, but they aren’t truly fish because they breathe through their lungs.”

            Is that is the No True Fish fallacy?

            But as already pointed out, inertia is not a counterexample to the premise that essentially ordered movers cannot regress without limit. It only means that absent a resisting force, an impetus once imparted does not decay. It says nothing about what it was that imparted the impetus in the first place.

          • Logike

            "inertia is not a counterexample to the premise that essentially ordered movers cannot regress without limit."

            --That's not the premise under question. The premise is, "whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another." Part I, Question 2, Article 3 from the Summa

            This is false after the initial impetus because the object continues to change location in its trajectory without cause. Or do you now claim--which you previously emphatically denied-- that causation happens at a spatio-temporal distance?

            The No True Scotsman Fallacy is indeed a fallacy. The question is whether it applies in a particular case, which is the nature of all informal fallacies. I think it does apply for the reason below:

            "It only means that absent a resisting force, an impetus once imparted does not decay."

            --"Decaying impetus'?" No."Inertia" ONLY means an object changing location will continue to change without cause. No reference is made in this law to "preserving" an initial impetus or cause. Here:

            "First law: When viewed in an inertial reference frame, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_laws_of_motion

          • Gail Finke

            I see what you're saying. interesting. However, that is not true. "Movement" in this context means any sort of change. If I drop my computer down the stairwell next to my desk, I, and not just my computer, will definitely be changed by the "movement." However, one of the movers of my poor computer will be the force of gravity. Is the force of gravity itself changed by its effects on my computer? No. Therefore, all movers are not moved when they cause movement.

          • Bob

            If you wish to call gravity an unmoved mover, you do even more harm to Aquinas's argument.

          • Logike

            Good point! Even Aristotle thought there were multiple unmoved movers. This quest for only one seems rather arbitrary, doesn't it? There are as many unmoved movers as there are people pushing objects with sticks and things falling down the stairs--none of which are God. Quite frankly, I'm still wondering what the contingency argument demonstrates at all: THAT there are unmoved movers? Of course! But who cares?

          • Robert Barron

            Aquinas is purposely talking about change in the most universal and abstract sense. He is wondering what finally explains any and all transitions from potency to act. The conclusion of his argument is not one finite cause among many, but rather actus purus (pure energy). It would be silly to speak of many such unconditioned realities.

          • Logike

            But "talking abstractly" won't get the conclusion of the argument because a demonstration of the existence of a first element in one series does not constitute a demonstration of the existence of a first element in some other series. No doubt there are essentially ordered series, like Aquinas' *arm-stick-ball* example. But there are also accidentally-ordered series'. So, whether ALL events within the universe are ordered in the former, but not the latter, way, is a very dubious claim indeed. It takes only a single accidental cause to break what might appear to you an essentially ordered chain.

          • SJH

            I agree with Brandon's analysis but I don't think gravity can qualify as an unmoved mover. I am no physics guru but my understanding is that gravity comes from matter. In your example it comes from the Earth. In the case of gravity, both objects are effected (thus "moved") by the gravitational force of each other. Although, of course, the Earth's "motion" caused by the computer is not measureable, the Earth is still effected by the gravitational pull of the computer.
            I agree with Bob's statement below. If you claim another "unmoved mover" besides God then you have probably hurt Aquinas' argument more than helped it. Can you have more than one "unmoved mover"? If so then can those "unmovable movers" move each other?

          • Logike

            Ok, so then matter would be the unmoved mover (which happens to be my own contention, actually). Though it enters various combinations and gets transferred, matter itself is neither created nor destroyed. Relative to other existing spatio-temporally located objects, material objects move. But with respect to existence or non-existence, matter itself--the stuff of which material things are composed--never "moves."

          • ccmnxc

            Herein lies the problem. If one takes the conclusion of the unmoved mover then extrapolates the properties from pure actuality (see writers such as Ed Feser, G.H. Joyce, etc.), it becomes apparent that such a being must be immaterial (hence, matter is ruled out as a matter of principle), immutable, has all powers (hence the term omnipotent), has things like will and volition formally if not eminently, etc. If just so happens that such a thing ends up looking a heck of a lot like the God of classical theism.
            Of course, my comment isn't so much a demonstration as a pointing out of the fact that when philosophers examine pure actuality, matter is never considered plausible since its essence is not the same as its existence, it is not wholly simple, etc, etc. Further, since it is pure actuality, it can have no potentiality, thus there must only be one of it (matter is not an individual thing) due to the fact that what would be used to differentiate two pure actualities would be an actuality that one has and the other doesn't. However, if it is lacking an actualized power, it is in potentiality, thus it isn't pure act. Therefore, there can be only one. So in the end, one can call the unmoved mover whatever one wants, but at the end of the day, this unmoved mover ends up looking a heck of a lot like God.

          • Logike

            I don't know what "pure actuality" means. Either a Form is actualized in matter or it is not. But this is beside the point. Whether or not matter's existence is the same as its essence is open to question: We have reason to suppose they are, in fact, identical in the case of matter since matter is neither created or destroyed. That matter is created or destroyed is absurd anyway because such a notion is a form of magic that violates the First Law of Thermodynamics. Only matter's particular form, and its spatio-temporal location relative to other objects, changes. It's existence, however, does not change. So matter is a good candidate for existing necessarily.

          • Adam Bajac

            "I don't know what "pure actuality" means. Either a Form is actualized in matter or it is not."

            There's your issue. That's basically saying that all that exists is material, whereas we don't hold that.

            Take life itself as an example: it's not material principle that one can pin down as caused by a specific quark or something - it's wholly immaterial. At yet, it exists. So not everything that exists is material.

            We could add angels to the list of actualized-yet-immaterial, but I think they're harder to support. No one doubts the existence of life.

          • Logike

            "There's your issue. That's basically saying that all that exists is material, whereas we don't hold that."

            --Huh? I don't hold this either. I've said numerous places here that material beings are composites of Matter and Form.

          • ccmnxc

            The First Way relies on the act/potency distinction, potency being an unactualized potential in a being, and actuality is that potency actualized. Seems like a fairly circular definition, but I think it gets the point across.

            When you proceed down the essentially ordered chain, one gets more and more actualized to the point of pure actuality.

            As for your response, to say that matter's essence and existence are not distinct is to say that matter is existence itself, not merely that it has the property of existence and cannot be deprived of it (via the laws of physics, which are not metaphysically fundamental, but we'll let that slide for now). I don't know about you, but I am not comfortable with calling matter "existence qua existence." As an additional point, matter is composed, as per the Aristotelian principles, of form and matter, thus making it composite (not having equivalent essence and existence as a matter of principle). Further, if its form and spatio-temporal location change, then it changes, unless you want to somehow argue that those things are components of matter, which would sink you anyways since it would make matter composite and thus not a contender for pure actuality, which is metaphysically simple. Plus, you still run into the problem above, which argues that pure actuality (which must be the unmoved mover given the argument, though I understand this wasn't spelled out explicitly above) is unique. Matter, so far as I understand, is not.

          • Logike

            "I don't know about you, but I am not comfortable with calling matter "existence qua existence."

            --Why?

            "matter is composed, as per the Aristotelian principles, of form and matter,"

            --That's redundant. I think you mean to say material beings are composed of Form and Matter. Matter is not composed of anything. It just is.

            "if its form and spatio-temporal location change, then it changes"

            --It changes only "qua" form, not "qua" existence.

            "it would make matter composite"

            --No. Material beings are composite (i.e. have parts). Matter is not composite.

            "and thus not a contender for pure actuality"

            --Matter doesn't have to be "pure actuality" to demonstrate my point. The persistence (existence) of matter never changes, and for this reason, is a good candidate for necessary existence. It just is.

          • ccmnxc

            "--Why?"

            Dunno, something about existence itself being the same as matter strikes me as prima facie implausible.

            "--That's redundant. I think you mean to say material beings (substances) are composed of Form and Matter. Matter is not composed of anything. It just is."

            I'm not using matter in the standard scientific sense, but rather, matter is anything material. It doesn't have to be composed of constituent matter. In terms of form, every single piece of matter has a form, even a blob or something indeterminate. If it didn't have matter, it wouldn't have any shape or intrinsic function per the Aristotelian understanding of form.

            "--It changes only "qua" form, not "qua" existence."

            I'm not arguing for the contingency of matter (at least not directly). My point is that any change simpliciter will now allow it to be pure actuality and thus the unmoved mover since it had a potentiality (to change location) that was actualized.

            "--Matter becomes an actual "substantial thing" when united to a Form. But it also persists through changes in its Form, so it is not dependent on any particular Form to exist. Suppose I mold this spherical-shaped cookie dough in my hands into the shape of a pyramid. Does the matter of the cookie dough suddenly vanish when it lose its spherical shape? Not at all. The matter of the cookie changes shape, but it persists throughout this change. So what's the problem again?"

            I think we are trading off a bit of an ambiguity here. By matter, I assume you are referring to the most basic constituents of matter, thus thinks like protons and neutrons wouldn't qualify since they are composed of quarks. We can trace this all the way down to strings if that is your preferred theory. Regardless as I said above, even the most basic constituent of matter (in the scientific sense) has form and matter (in the Aristotelian sense). It is just that if you changed the form of the most basic unit of matter, that piece of matter would essentially cease to exist as opposed to being broken into different components.

            "--No. Material beings are composite (i.e. have parts). Matter is not composite."

            I'm speaking of metaphysical composition here. If there is a real distinction in it, for example, then it is composite, hence, if it has the form/matter distinction, it is composite.

            "--Matter doesn't have to be "pure actuality" to demonstrate my point. The persistence (existence) of matter never changes, and for this reason, is a good candidate for necessary existence. It just is.

            --Matter is the First element of all contingent existence, explaining why contingent material beings, which are composites of matter and form, exist at all. I don't see why this is a problem."

            A couple points. First off, this is working off the assumption that the laws of physics (such as the laws of conservation) are metaphysically fundamental, and these laws allow for the necessity of matter. There are serious problems with holding the laws of nature as fundamental, however, depending on which definition of "law of nature" you like to hold to. Further, if matter is not pure actuality, it cannot be the unmoved mover, since if it has composition of potency and act, it has the ability to be moved. Finally, how does matter provide an explanation at all? We might be able to say *that* it is the most fundamental constituent of contingent beings, and we might even be able to prove such a thing. However, that brings us no closer as to why this is the case? Why is there matter at all, and how can it, given its properties, give rise to things like minds? Why does matter function and act that way it does? Questions like these ought to be answered if one wants a holistic explanation.

            "--Why does matter have to be unique to exist necessarily? Many philosophers hold immaterial things like numbers, forms, and propositions also exist necessarily."

            My point is less that it must be unique and singular to be necessary. Rather, you stated above "Ok, so then matter would be the unmoved mover (which happens to be my own contention, actually)." My point was to show that any unmoved mover must be unique and since matter did not qualify, if could not be an unmoved mover. Now, you are free to deny that there is an unmoved mover, but I don't think one can say that matter would fit the bill.

          • Logike

            "Dunno, something about existence itself being the same as matter strikes me as prima facie implausible."

            --That's interesting, because it only seems to strike theists this way. Perhaps we are dealing with a dogma? Things that are prima facie plausible typically achieve a much broader range of consensus, like the belief that "torturing innocent people for fun is wrong" which tends to be held by theists and atheists alike.

            "I'm not using matter in the standard scientific sense"

            --Nor am I. I am using it in the Aristotelian sense.

            "but rather, matter is anything material."
            --But this is wrong. According to Aristotle, any material "thing" is composed of, or has, matter. It is wrong to say a material thing IS matter because a material thing is partly form. Composition is not identity.

            "every single piece of matter has a form"

            --Agreed. But it's quite a different thing to say matter cannot exist without a particular form, which is false. The spherically shaped cookie-dough does not cease to exist when I change its shape to a pyramid. And new matter doesn't suddenly materialize when I change its shape either. So the existence of the cookie-dough is not dependent on any particular Form, like the Form of a sphere or a pyramid.

            "I'm speaking of metaphysical composition here."

            --So am I. Material beings are composed of matter and form. But you said matter is composed of form, which is not correct.

            "First off, this is working off the assumption that the laws of physics
            (such as the laws of conservation) are metaphysically fundamental, and
            these laws allow for the necessity of matter."

            --True, but I, and many other philosophers, think the law of the conservation of mass and energy is indeed metaphysically fundamental. The notion of matter materializing and ceasing to exist is not even quantifiable logically. And it's not a notion that commands one's assent in the same way that, say, flying telephones which defy the law of gravity are metaphysically possible.

            "Further, if matter is not pure actuality, it cannot be the unmoved mover"

            --But the power to "actualize" things, which is the causal power of the Forms, only explains the existence of material things, not the existence of the matter which composes them. The Form of triangularity, for instance, explains why this particular clump of matter is triangular in shape, rather than, say, circular in shape. But it doesn't explain why the matter of this particular triangle exists in the first place. Therefore, it is a misapplication of your "actualizing" causal principle
            to say actualizing Forms explain the existence of matter at all. They don't. I, on the other hand, contend that the matter just IS, because it never comes to be and never is destroyed. It instantiates the Forms, giving them and material objects existence. It is indestructible because it persists throughout its changes. As such, it is the first element in the series ordered by existence, explaining all contingent things, material beings and forms alike.

            "Why is there matter at all, and how can it, given its properties, give rise to things like minds?"

            --See? This is what I'm talking about. You are mis-attributing the actualizing power of the forms as if this power were contained in matter. It is not. See above.

            "Questions like these ought to be answered if one wants a holistic explanation."

            --And I already gave you that holistic explanation. (1) Matter instantiates Form, giving it existence (this is just Aristotle's view). (2) Forms explain why particular beings are one way rather than another. (3) The existence of material beings are explained by a combination of their matter and form. (4) And since matter is indestructible, and explains both the existence of the forms AND the existence of material beings, matter is at the bottom of the explanatory barrel explaining all contingently existing beings. There is no more explaining to do.

            "My point was to show that any unmoved mover must be unique and since matter did not qualify, if could not be an unmoved mover."

            --But it IS an unmoved mover with respect to its persistence. It remains throughout changes in its properties and combinations. Why is this so difficult to grasp? It should be obvious. Maybe not to theists. . .

          • Barbara Moeller

            Matter is constantly in motion, though.

          • Logike

            Yes, but it's persistence (existence) never changes. So it exists necessarily.

          • Robert Barron

            Nonsense. Matter changes all the time, for that is practically its nature. The form in which it finds itself has to be explained through recourse to an extrinsic cause. If that cause is itself material, we have to look for another cause, etc. It is precisely this process that cannot go on indefinitely. We have to come, finally, to some non-material cause which explains the shape that matter happens to be in now.

          • Logike

            Only the form of matter, and its spatio-temporal location changes. It's persistence (existence) never changes. So it exists necessarily.

            Also, an immaterial being such as God is not an instance of your material causal principle which cited material causes as sufficient for the effect. So such a conclusion does not follow.

          • Adam Bajac

            What about the Higgs-Boson ?(hope I'm spelling that right) I believe it was confirmed to jump in and out of existence. And it counts as a material particle, so, at least in some cases, material particles do change in persistance. Maybe I'm mistaken though.

          • Logike

            I'm pretty sure you are mistaken, because scientists don't seem too keen on tossing away the first law of thermodynamics which says the total volume of matter and energy in the universe never changes.

          • Logike

            Mr. Barron, yes, matter always exists in a particular Form, so the particular shape matter possesses is dependent on its Form. But its existence is not dependent of any particular Form. Suppose you are right, that a necessary condition for matter to exist at all is that it possess the particular triangular shape that it is. If the matter of which this triangle is composed were to be molded into a circle, we should expect the matter, according to your assumption, to suddenly vanish. But this doesn't happen. The matter remains. What changes is the matter's shape--not its existence. Its existence persists throughout its changes.

            I think you mean to say that particular material things, which are composites of matter and form, are dependent on Form for their existence. This is true. But that matter is dependent for its existence on the particular Form it takes is just patently false.

          • john emmons

            Yes the unmoving changer of the field changes and causes happening things to change and happen in the field . And caused there for the field its self to happen as a first place for action.There for the prime mover is the action inside the action. So action of its self does not move but causes the movement inside the action. Action is the unmoving part of the field. The field is then the continuum of the unmoving action.

      • RosaryVictory

        A stated above: The metaphysical can only be changed by an act of the will, free will, proof of the Sovereignty of the Person of God, and the sovereignty of the image of God in man's immortal human soul. Man willed to sin and death entered the world of man.

        From above:
        Only physical matter is subject to change. God does not change because perfection cannot be improved. Change is not necessary for the omnipotence of God, almighty. Change in the metaphysical realm must be actuated by "willing", an act of the will...proof of the metaphysical, non-material realm of God and of the human soul, angels and demons.

        • Logike

          Only the form of matter changes. But the persistence of matter does not. Matter is neither created nor destroyed, hence not requiring a cause.

          • "Matter is neither created nor destroyed, hence not requiring a cause."

            Matter is never created or destroyed within the universe, after its beginning, but mainstream cosmologists agree that matter did have an ultimate origin. The majority of cosmologists hold to the standard, Big Bang model of the universe which maintains that the Big Bang marked the beginning of all matter, energy, space, and time at the initial cosmological singularity.

          • Logike

            "Matter is never created or destroyed within the universe, after its beginning, but mainstream cosmologists agree that matter did have an ultimate origin."

            --No they don't agree on this. But even if they did, the first moment in time is not an instance of change because there was no time prior to the first moment of time. Thus, there was no need for a cause. If matter "came to be"--as you naively suppose--then there would have to be a time before time, which is absurd. The notion is self-contradictory--and no physicist believes THIS garbage.

          • TomD123

            Two relevant points to what you are saying:
            (1) It really does not matter for the sake of this particular argument for God whether or not (a) matter is created and destroyed (b) matter has a beginning at the big bang or elsewhere. In this argument, if matter is changing, there is a cause of that change. This applies here and now and therefore we can ignore the beginning of the universe. One might try to argue that matter itself is "pure act" thus sidestepping a divine unmoved mover. If this were the case however, matter could not change. Of course, change includes more than being brought into and out of existence, so even if matter were eternal the argument from motion still applies. It may fail for other reasons, but this isn't one of them.

            (2) I hold the B-theory of time and reject the Kalam argument. That said, I do not reject the Kalam because of the fact that I hold the B-theory of time. The reason is that the Kalam can still work even if an infinite past time is not impossible but simply is not the case. This is what Craig tries to establish by invoking cosmology to show the universe had a beginning.

            Incidentally, I think that it is much more in accord with Catholic thought to be an eternalist than a presentist for other reasons including reconciling Divine foreknowledge with human freedom.

          • Logike

            "In this argument, if matter is changing, there is a cause of that change."

            --In this argument, matter only changes with respect to its form, not its existence.

            "One might try to argue that matter itself is "pure act" thus
            sidestepping a divine unmoved mover. If this were the case however, matter could not change."

            --It is enough that the persistence (existence) of matter never changes. Since it never changes, the existence of matter is a good candidate for being necessary. That's all I need to drive the point home. I have no use for vague categories like saying matter is "pure act."

            "I do not reject the Kalam because of the fact that I hold the
            B-theory of time. The reason is that the Kalam can still work even if an infinite past time is not impossible but simply is not the case."

            --But there is no "becoming" on the B-theory view of time, so there is no need for a cause "prior" to the first moment in time. The first moment in time is simply there, as an endpoint to a series that stops there. Eliminating the need for a cause is why the B-theory escapes the demonstration.

          • RosaryVictory

            Einstein's concept of time was infinitely malleable, so that time would bring change.

            "The majority of cosmologists hold to the standard, Big Bang model of the universe which maintains that the Big Bang marked the beginning of all matter, energy, space, and time at the initial cosmological singularity."

            All matter, energy, space and time must be understood at the initial cosmological singularity. Dividing matter, energy, space and time; stripping away the forces of nature into individual powers unrelated to one another, nor allowing nature to be nature in its total being of matter, energy, space and time is not scholarship but detriment.

          • Logike

            "All matter, energy, space and time must be understood at the initial cosmological singularity."

            --Good luck! Please come up to speed on current cosmology. Most cosmologists have since moved beyond the singularity and Big Bang model because of the flatness problem, the horizon problem, and a plethora of other problems, which is why they have since proposed the eternally inflating universe hypothesis, the multiverse hypothesis, and other models such as the Hartle-Hawking model where time is finite, but there is no singularity.

          • RosaryVictory

            speed? The opposite of T+1 is T-1 as posted at Creative Minority Report by a mathematician. T0 does not exist in a vacuum. If math is wrong how can any deductive reasoning be right based on a mistake?

          • Logike

            Math? T0 and T1 are temporal points ordered by earlier/later than relations. Label them "susan" and "henry"; it makes no difference to the logic.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The opposite of T + 1 is -T - 1.

          • RosaryVictory

            Quasars have brought the concept of eternally inflating universe, but not infinitely inflating universe. Eternally inflating universe brings the problem of the beginning and the Unmoved Mover.

          • TomD123

            You are actually confusing different arguments for God's existence and not really addressing the issue. Let me explain:

            "But in this argument, matter only changes with respect to its form, not its existence. And because the persistence (existence) of matter never changes, God is not needed as an explanation for the existence of matter."

            --Actually, if we are looking at the argument from the standpoint of Aquinas and his metaphysics, it is not even clear that we can say matter exists. Material things exist, but that is a combination of matter and form. Prime matter is pure potency, therefore, it only exists insofar as it individuates a form. Be that as it may, the argument here is an argument from the fact of change to a first cause of change. This argument by itself does not entail that God is the cause of the existence of everything and therefore it is no refutation to say "but God isn't needed as an explanation for the existence of matter!"

            --The particular change of prime matter taking on new forms needs a cause still. The potency to take on a new form cannot be actualized by a form itself. The reason is that according to Aristotle and Aquinas, forms cannot act as efficient causes, therefore are not really "in act" in the relevant sense. They are basically just ideas and ideas considered in the abstract cannot have causal efficacy.

            "It is enough that the persistence (existence) of matter never changes. Since it never changes, the existence of matter is a good candidate for being necessary."

            --You are now addressing a different argument for God's existence. Matter could not be "pure act" (and I continue to use that term because it is relevant and expresses the point I am trying to make) because "pure act" implies no change by necessity. Even if matter can't go out of existence, it still has potency to change forms.

            --You can argue that matter is a good candidate for a necessary being. I disagree because there is no reason to hold that it is logically impossible that matter fails to exist (it is easy enough to think of a possible world in which there is only space and time but no matter as we know it). I don't want to get caught in that rabbit-hole though. The more important point is that even if matter is a necessary being of some kind, it is not "pure act" and therefore in the case of THIS argument, your objection has no force.

            "But there is no "becoming" on the B-theory view of time, so there is no need for a cause "prior" to the first moment in time."

            --Fair enough. I think there are responses that a defender of the Kalam argument could make, but I'm not terribly interested because I reject the argument for other reasons anyway.

          • Logike

            "it is not even clear that we can say matter exists."

            --Of course it exists. Its potentiality is its ability to be acted on and formed. "Potentitality" doesn't mean matter "only exists potentially." You are conflating notions here. In fact, the existence of matter is more robust than the existence of any Form because matter gives Forms existence (according to Aristotle).

            "Prime matter . . . exists insofar as it individuates a form. "

            --This is wrong. You mean to say material beings exist only insofar as they possess form. But the existence of matter is not dependent on any particular form. If I change this cookie dough from a spherical to a triangular shape, the matter of the cookie dough doesn't suddenly cease to exist. It remains throughout its changes.

            "Be that as it may, the argument here is an argument from the fact of change to a first cause of change. "

            --And you don't get your conclusion because the actualizing power of the forms does not, and never has, made the matter of material beings suddenly materialize! So the Forms, though they explain the existence of material beings, which are composites of matter and form, they do not explain the existence of matter which composes material beings. The actualizing power of Form only explains why a particular clump of matter is one way rather than another. It doesn't explain why the underlying material of some material being exists at all. Your causal series is ordered by Essence, not Existence. But it needs to be ordered by existence if you expect to demonstrate the existence of anything from a causal series.

            "You can argue that matter is a good candidate for a necessary being."

            --Yes I can. I already have. I have offered at least 4 reasons here for thinking so. (1) There was no time matter was not. (2) Matter persists (is never destroyed) through changes in its properties. (3) That matter is never created or destroyed is an empirically well-supported inductive generalization form our actual experience. (4) Creation and destruction violates the conservation of mass and energy.

            "I
            disagree because there is no reason to hold that it is logically
            impossible that matter fails to exist"

            --I never said it is logically impossible for matter to fail to exist. I said it is metaphysically impossible, in the same way the failure of the existence of God would be metaphysically impossible according to most theists.

            "Matter could not be "pure act"
            --Why expect it to be "pure act"? Only the Forms have this power.

            "pure act" implies no change by necessity."

            --So the Forms are necessary? Even some atheist philosophers like Michael Tooley would agree.

            "Even if matter can't go out of existence, it still has potency to change forms."

            --Yes, it changes vis-a-vis its form. That's not to say it changes vis-a-vis its existence. Give me a single verifiable instance of matter suddenly materializing. You have no reason for thinking the persistence of matter is contingent. It's a theistic dogma not supported by any evidence or argument.

          • TomD123

            ""Potentitality" doesn't mean matter "only exists potentially." You are conflating notions here. In fact, the existence of matter is more robust than the existence of any Form because matter gives Forms existence (according to Aristotle), rather than Forms giving matter existence."

            --In itself it only exists in potency. Material things exist and therefore matter does in these things but not on its own.

            --There is more to Aristotle than you are admitting. With respect to matter and form, form actualizes prime matter and prime matter individuates substantial form. So there are no pure forms or pure matter, every material thing is a composite of matter and form.

            --That said, even if you reject the Aristotilean notion of matter, you are left with some sort of material thing constantly changing with respect to its arrangement.

            "For example, if particular clump of matter stopped being human, the matter would remain and change into some other kind of being entirely. So the matter does not cease to exist."

            --The matter would remain only insofar as it received a new form. Which of course it would, but the point stands that matter only exists in matter-form composite material substances.

            "The series I propose is the series ordered by existence, with the persistence of matter being the first element of the series explaining why all material bodies exist at all."

            --You are confusing two arguments again. St. Thomas's prime mover argument is not itself an argument for a first cause of the existence of things (even if it can be argued from what he says to that conclusion, the argument itself is not that). St. Thomas's argument starts with the fact of change and explains it in terms of changers leading to an unchanged changer.

            --Suppose matter has always existed. Aristotle thought this and Aquinas assumed it for the sake or argument in his proof for the unmoved mover. So clearly this does not render the argument itself unsound. Perhaps you are arguing that the matter itself is the unmoved mover. By this you may mean one of three things:

            (1) Prime matter (unformed) is the unmoved mover: This cannot be true because prime matter is pure potency according to Aristotle.

            (2) Material things are the unmoved mover: This cannot be the case because material things are the composite of matter and form, hence composite of act and potency whereas the unmoved mover is pure act.

            (3) Aristotle and Aquinas are wrong with their conception of matter. Matter itself is purely actual- there is no prime matter and substantial form: I think that this would take more time to refute, but basically, it would entail that this stuff does not change. Yet if it can enter into physical relationships with other physical things, this implies that it has the capacity to be acted upon and therefore is not "pure act"

            --Any route you take, matter cannot be Aquinas's pure act REGARDLESS of whether or not it is eternal.

            "Yes I can. I already have. I have offered at least 4 reasons here for thinking so. (1) There was no time matter was not. (2) Matter persists (is never destroyed) through changes in its properties. (3) That matter is never created or destroyed is an empirically well-supported inductive generalization form our actual experience. (4) Creation and destruction violates the conservation of mass and energy."

            --2, 3, and 4 are the same. 1 is just entailed by those 3. The fact that something has always existed does not entail that it exists by necessity. The fact that something cannot be physically destroyed does not mean that it is metaphysically or logically necessary.

            "I never said it is logically impossible for matter to fail to exist. I said it is metaphysically impossible, in the same way the failure of the existence of God would be metaphysically impossible according to most theists."

            It would be logically impossible as well that God fail to exist. That is what metaphysical impossibility entails.

            "Why expect it to be "pure act"? Only the Forms have this power."

            Because that is what this entire argument is about. I don't even know what you mean by saying only the forms have that power. "Pure act" describes a being more than a power per se.

            "Give me a single verifiable instance of matter suddenly materializing. You have no reason for thinking the persistence of matter is contingent."

            This is entirely irrelevant to the argument at hand and most theistic arguments. I don't see why you keep insisting on the point. It seems to me to be atheist dogma to fail to respond to arguments at hand and simply re-assert the same fact as if it was a refutation. Aristotle did not think matter ever materialized out of nothing. He formulated the argument from motion.

          • Logike

            Sigh. I am not contradicting the ancients here. Instead, I am saying something they did not consider, which is why you are having trouble fitting my remarks into their philosophy. You need to be charitable to what I am saying instead of looking at contemporary philosophical issues through the goggles of "potency and act" because it is causing you to repeatedly miss my point.

            Even if matter is pure potency, the existence of matter
            never changes. It is the underlying substrate of all change, and so is never created or destroyed. This is a feature of things that necessarily exist, not contingently exist. But you ignore this very glaring point. Therefore, since matter is a good candidate for having necessary existence, it is a competitor to "God" as a hypothesis. So, he needs to rule out this possibility, otherwise his argument is invalid. That you continually miss out on this very substantive point is proof why you are having trouble finding any inconsistency between my views and theirs. Nothing I have said, as far as I can tell, contradicts anything THEY said.

            "The fact that something has always existed does not entail that it exists by necessity."

            --It doesn't "entail" necessity. But it is certainly evidence of necessity, because not having changed is a feature of things that are necessary, like numbers. Numbers don't change, and numbers are necessary.

            "I don't see why you keep insisting on the point."

            --Because being non-composite and unchanging is a mark of things that exist necessarily. Numbers are non-composite and unchanging, and they exist necessarily.

            "This is entirely irrelevant to the argument at hand and most theistic arguments."

            --No it isn't. The validity of the argument stands or falls on it, because matter is a competitor to your "God" hypothesis.

            "The fact that something cannot be physically destroyed does not mean that it is metaphysically or logically necessary."

            --This is confusing. Is physical destruction a type of destruction, and metaphysical destruction another type? If something cannot be physically destroyed, then it is also true it cannot be destroyed--meaning, it cannot not exist.

            It is not the physicality of matter that tugs my intuitions here. It is the fact that Matter is something unchanging and non-composite. Put this another way: It's perfectly conceivable that composite physical objects come and go because they change when their matter and form come apart. So it seems right to say that ordinary material objects might not have been. But what bothers me is the notion
            that non-composite unchanging things might not have existed, like Matter, Form, and Numbers. There is just nothing to suggest that they are contingent. These things, physical or metaphysical, appear to exist necessarily to me because they lack parts. Is it even possible to annihilate anything that exists robustly and unchanging in the way that they do? I just don't share your intuition that something as unchanging as matter, or Form, could just be annihliated (much less created).

            "With respect to matter and form, form actualizes prime matter and prime matter individuates substantial form. So there are no pure forms or pure matter, every material thing is a composite of matter and form."

            --I am not denying any of this. What I deny is that the actualizing principle of Forms explains the existence of matter. It does not. It only explains (in part together with matter) the existence of material beings.

            "(1) Prime matter (unformed) is the unmoved mover"

            --This is only true on the order of change, not on the order of existence. What about this do you still not understand? Matter is neither created nor destroyed. Thus your actualizing causal principle does not explain the existence of matter (but only material beings which undergo change).

            "(2) Material things are the unmoved mover:"

            --I never said this. I said the persistence of matter never changes. It is neither created nor destroyed. How closely are you reading my posts?

            "It would be logically impossible as well that God fail to exist. That is what metaphysical impossibility entails."

            --Ok, I mistakenly confused "metaphysical impossibility" with "not logically necessary." I meant to say that because God is conceived to be metaphysically necessary, that doesn't mean he is logically necessary. The ontological argument which tries to demonstrate the latter is known to fail, which is why most theists worth their salt have said God is only metaphysically necessary. But this is all a red-herring.

          • TomD123

            " Do you mean Form causes prime matter to exist? Or do you mean that Form causes prime matter to have shape, order, and movement? Or both?"

            --I mean that from the standpoint of Scholastic metaphysics, material things exist as composites of matter and form. Form does not exist on its own (with the exception of Angels) and matter does not because it is "pure potency." Hence neither abstract forms nor prime matter are really caused. So I wouldn't really say that form causes prime matter to exist. Form doesn't act as an efficient cause- that is the point. It is a formal cause, hence it is what gives prime matter intelligibility (it is what makes a chunk of matter a tree). Although I do not know exactly where I stand in regards to matter, form etc. I do know that this is the best way to make sense of Aristotle and Aquinas's metaphysics.

            "Question: If Form needs to be instantiated in matter to exist, doesn't this entail an immaterial God does not exist?"

            God is not considered a form by Aquinas. Even on a more platonic reading of things, God's mind is the world of the forms, God transcends it. Second, according to Aquinas, there are *some* forms which can exist apart from matter. Namely, forms which can think i.e. angels and human souls. I left those out of the discussion however because they are exceptions not the rule.

            On a side note, in my own view, the kind of immateriality of ideas and God are different. Ideas or forms are not really immaterial "things." Since I would read this in a more Aristotiliean fashion, they are really only abstractions from concrete things. God on the other hand is a concrete thing, albeit, an immaterial one.

            "become reduced to Humean accidental generalization on Aristotle's view. But this is another issue altogether."

            Humean accounts of laws and causation are extremely unpalatable in my view. I don't think that Aristotle's view of forms leads this a Humean account. But yes, that is another issue.

            "[...] But I don't see how this demonstrates the existence of a purely immaterial being, much less a "christian" one."

            --Of course there are arguments for the various divine attributes which Aquinas gives including why there can only be one unmoved mover. I didn't get into this discussion to defend all of that. I am making the point that whatever the unmoved mover IS, it is NOT matter itself-- at the very least not if you take into account the metaphysical background with which Aquinas is working.

            "Also, I have difficulty seeing what "actualizing" role your immaterial God has to play over and above the Forms themselves. Are not the Forms sufficient?"

            --Forms cannot cause change in themselves. They are causally inert as efficient causes. Material things can cause change, but they are composites of matter and form. The role God is playing is as an efficient cause of change in this specific argument.

            " So you need to be charitable to what I am saying instead of looking at contemporary philosophical issues through the goggles of "potency and act" because it is causing you to repeatedly miss my point."

            --I am saying that IF you accept a basic scholastic metaphysics, it is not an intelligible concept to say matter is the unmoved mover. That is how this discussion started. I am sticking by that point.

            --I am also saying that no matter what metaphysical background you have, since matter is constantly changing, it can't really count as an "unmoved mover."

            --Finally, I am saying that if you think the unmoved mover argument is flawed in another way, perhaps because of the underlying assumptions involving change and act and potency, then we are arguing past each other because I am not addressing that claim.

            "Even if matter is pure potency, the existence of matter
            never changes."

            --That doesn't change Aquinas's argument. Assuming the premises he is using are true, it follows that there is some cause of change which is itself never changed, nor can it change, in any respect. The argument DOES NOT entail that everything must be changing or that the existence of matter must change. It only requires one instance of change in order to work as an argument (assuming the truth of his other premises).

            "This is a feature of things that necessarily exist, not contingently exist."

            --It is a necessary condition that a necessary being is not created or destroyed. Not being created or destroyed is not however a sufficient condition for being a necessary being.

            "But you ignore this very glaring point. Therefore, since matter is a good candidate for having necessary existence, it is a competitor to "God" as a hypothesis on the order of existence (not "act!")."

            --Once again, you are addressing a different argument, not the unmoved mover argument itself. I am not ignoring your point, I am saying that even if true (which I provided a clear-cut reason why I doubt that to be the case) it would not at all effect the argument from motion.

            "No it isn't. (1) If matter necessarily exists, then God is not needed as an explanation of the existence of matter. Also, (2) if matter is needed to instantiate Form, your immaterial God does not exist."

            --You are correct on (1). That is a different theistic argument however.

            --I explain above why (2) is false.

            " If something cannot be physically destroyed, then it is also true it cannot be destroyed at all--meaning, it cannot not exist."

            --If something cannot be physically destroyed it means given the actual laws of physics the thing cannot, now that it exists, be destroyed. This does not entail (1) It cannot be annihilated by a non-physical process and more importantly (2) that it is logically impossible for it to fail to exist. The reason is that it is only true matter cannot be created or destroyed given the laws of physics and the existence of the physical world. Neither of these things obtain in very possible world, hence are not necessary.

            "But this is all a red-herring"

            --Maybe I am using the terms differently than most. When I say that God is logically necessary, I am saying that this is entailed by his metaphysical necessity. This can still be true even if ontological arguments fail because in order for them to succeed, we must be able to know that God is logically necessary analytically.

          • Logike

            "neither abstract forms nor prime matter are really caused."

            --Well, if prime matter does not have a cause, then it is either not contingent (necessary), or contingent without cause (violating causal principles). I say the former. What is your commitment?

            "Form . . . is a formal cause, hence it is what gives prime matter intelligibility"

            --Yes, it gives prime matter intelligibility. But does Form impart existence to prime matter? If so, doesn't this contradict your original supposition above that prime matter is without cause? If not, then wouldn't the existence of prime matter be independent of its Form, contradicting your other supposition that prime matter cannot exist without Form? Either way, it doesn't seem you can consistently maintain your views.

          • TomD123

            I am going to narrow down my response a little and hopefully consolidate some of the main ideas to make the discussion a little easier.

            (1) Let's assume that Aquinas's argument is sound and leads us to an unmoved mover which is "pure act." IF this is the case, the unmoved mover is the source of any causal power within the series of movers. That is the role for the unmoved mover here. Matter cannot be the unmoved mover since the unmoved mover cannot change in any respect.

            As for your question about inertia, I am not sure. I am not sure the argument works. I do know however that IF it does, matter cannot be the prime mover because it changes.

            (2) Prime matter does not exist on its own. It exists in material things. The efficient cause then of the material thing is whatever brought it into being, which in the case of material things, can be seen as that which imparts form. Yet that which imparts form is not itself a form. It is this efficient cause which brings a material thing into existence, yet prime matter is really just an abstraction from this material thing and alone it doesn't really exist. At least that is how I understand the Scholastic philosophy on this point.

            Switching gears to necessary being argument--away from Aquinas's first mover argument:
            (3) I have never denied that matter cannot be created or destroyed. Assume that matter has existed, even in its present state, for an infinite past time. This does not mean that it is necessary in the sense that theists hold God is necessary. Necessity and indestructible are different.

            (4) I disagree about your assessment regarding forms, universals, ideas, concrete vs. abstract etc. If you want to pursue that discussion we can, however, I don't think its especially pertinent to our other discussion and its a deep enough issue that it becomes difficult to discuss in a combox of a blog.

            (5) Kripke is working within a very different philosophical tradition than most philosophers throughout the history of philosophy of religion. Kripke thinks that water is H2O in all possible worlds. This means that it is logically necessary in the way that I am using the term "logically" necessary. Since possible worlds exhaust "logical space" as some have been known to call it, then it follows that if H2O is water by metaphysical necessity, then so it is by logical necessity. So when applying the terms to God, I hold that He is logically and metaphysically necessary.

            (6) The above is to be distinguished from that which is analytically known. That is an epistemilogical question. Kripke says water is necessarily H2O but this is not an analytic truth. Many would hold the same about God and existence. He exists necessarily, this can be proven, but it is not proven a priori.

          • Logike

            Everything you summarized about the relationship between matter and form you already said, so I am not going to take this further. I'm just not clear on what sort of dependency relationship holds between the existence of matter and form because you can add and take away the latter without altering the existence of the former. It would seem, then, that matter depends on form only in the sense of taking on shape or being transferred, not in the sense of existing, because form doesn't have the power to bring prime matter into existence (matter is already present), but only to bring material beings into existence. So its not clear to me what "actualizing" even means.

            Because causality is partly an empirical notion, there needs to be a rigorous analysis (which is lacking here) of the theoretical terms "potentiality" and "act" and a description of how these terms fit in your theory of causation. It is no coincidence non-Scholastics remain confused when coming across Aquinas' arguments. See these links from my peer-reviewed professor Michael Tooley (a Causal Realist) for how that analysis might look, and some important questions causation brings up:

            http://spot.colorado.edu/~tooley/CausationChapter11.html
            http://spot.colorado.edu/~tooley/CausationChapter1.html
            http://spot.colorado.edu/~tooley/CausationChapter14.html

            "Kripke is working within a very different philosophical tradition than most philosophers throughout the history of philosophy of religion."

            --I'm curious to know what "tradition" you think this is--? It seems to me Kripke simply took Kant's analysis further and showed how necessity and the a priori come apart.

            "Kripke thinks that water is H2O in all possible worlds. This means that it is logically necessary in the way that I am using the term "logically" necessary."

            --But this is wrong. The only "use" that I know is the proper use from logic itself, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_truth

            Logical truths are analytic truths (Quine denied this, but for our purposes, this works), and "water=H2O" is not analytic, but synthetic. Strictly speaking, logic says a logically true statement is a statement that is true under all reinterpretations of its components except the logical constants (truth-functions and quantifiers), for example, "P or ~P" or "All large animals are large." Replace "large" with any other predicate, and the statement is always true. Kant had his own way of saying nearly the same thing, but he expressed it in terms of analyticity and "containment" relations between concepts: "An analytic statement is a statement that is true in virtue of meaning," or "An analytic statement is one where the concept of the predicate is contained in the concept of the subject," like "all bachelors are unmarried men." (Quine criticized Kant for thinking the notion of containment preserved logical truth because Quine denied perfect synonymy for different words, but the idea is the same.)

            So, back to water=H2O. Though water is identical to H2O, "water" does not MEAN "H2O." Before this empirical discovery, it's phenomenal meaning was only something like "the drinkable liquid found in lakes and streams, etc." At the time, people had no ability of just reading off the empirical meaning "H2O" from their phenomenal meaning of "water." "H2O" is empirical content added later to the concept. So "water=H2O"cannot be a logical truth. Kripke only held "water=H2O" was a metaphysical truth because of his theory of reference, not because he thought it was true in virtue of meaning, or anything of that sort.

            "Since possible worlds exhaust "logical space" as some have been known to call it, then it follows that if H2O is water by metaphysical necessity, then so it is by logical necessity."

            --Bu this is incorrect according to the actual logical definition of "logically necessary" offered above. Take another paradigm case of a metaphysically necessary but non-logical truth: "Killing innocent people for fun is wrong." This is understood to be true in all metaphysically possible worlds, but it's falsehood is logically possible because the subject "killing innocent people for fun" cannot be replaced with just any noun-phrase and preserve truth. If you replaced it with "loving your neighbor" the statement would be false.

            "The above is to be distinguished from that which is analytically known."

            --Analytic/synthetic are not epistemic notions like a priori/a posteriori, but semantic notions (linguistic meaning). Don't worry, this is a common mistake. If you don't believe me, see this link which will take you right to a more thorough explanation:

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-judgment/#KinProCon

            "That is an epistemilogical question."

            --Well, I think everyone can agree "water=H2O" is known a posteriori. But Kripke's task was to investigate its modal status, that is, whether "water=H2O" was contingently true or necessarily true, because almost everyone, including Kant, took it for granted that it was contingently true since known a posteriori. Kripke shows this is a mistake.

            "Kripke says water is necessarily H2O but this is not an analytic truth."

            --Correct. It is a (1) synthetic, (2) a posteriori, (3) necessary truth. All analytic truths are necessary truths. But not all necessary truths are analytic truths. Some necessary truths are synthetic a priori truths (Kant). Other necessary truths are synthetic a posteriori (Kripke).

          • TomD123

            (1) I agree with what you are saying about Kripke. The only difference is what I meant when I said "logically necessary." I was using the term loosely to mean that the alternative is incoherent given the appropriate understanding of "God" and "Exist." That said, we can leave logical necessity aside and stick to metaphysical necessity and my point isn't changed much.

            (2) I don't see why you go on about Kripke and his analysis of water. I don't disagree. I specifically stated that he thought that water=H2O is necessarily true but also not known a priori and is synthetic. Yet this doesn't change the ontological notion that H2O is water by necessity.

            The idea that the "stuff" which the term "water" designates is H2O in every possible world is plausible in my mind.

            (3) The idea that God's existence is both (1) necessary yet at the same time (2) neither analytic nor a priori is fine. St. Thomas basically held this because he rejected any attempt at an ontological argument. So in the history of Catholic thought, many many would agree that metaphysical necessity does not entail being analytic or a priori.

            I am not yet convinced by ontological arguments. Either way though, I can hold God exists necessarily yet we must rely on some empirical data to arrive at the conclusion.

            (4) "But how do I know the sense in which God is necessary is needed to qualify for the status of being a necessary being in the first place?"
            --Well, it would depend on which argument you were responding to. For starters, it would have to be an argument which concluded a necessary being existed. Depending on how the terms were used in the argument, we would know what kind of "necessity" was being discussed.

            Generally speaking however in scholastic and before (even some now) religious philosophy would have it that the kind of necessary existence which God has is that His nature is to exist...therefore, God could not fail to exist in any possible world (even though the Scholastics wouldn't have said "possible world" )

            "For all I know, having the feature of "pure act" is merely sufficient, not necessary."
            --Now you are switching back to the argument from motion, not an argument which concludes with a necessary being.

            "Therefore, matter possessing indestructibility is evidence of its necessary existence."

            --Maybe it could count as evidence for the necessity of matter. I do not think it is strong evidence however. The reason matter cannot be destroyed has to do with the nature of the physical universe. Therefore, even if matter must exist in this universe, its "necessary" existence is only necessary in a conditioned way, not absolutely.

            --Moreover, I think there are good reasons to hold that matter is not necessary. For instance, it seems that we can concieve of possible worlds without matter.

          • Logike

            "I
            was using the term loosely to mean that the alternative is incoherent
            given the appropriate understanding of "God" and "Exist."

            --Is the alternative incoherent? This is exactly how the ontological argument runs, namely, that God's non-existence is inconceivable, therefore, he must exist. It purports to deduce "existence" from the concept of God. But ontological arguments don't work because they beg whether existence is a feature of God in the first place.

            "the kind of necessary existence
            which God has is that His nature is to exist...therefore, God could not
            fail to exist in any possible world"

            --Uhm, no. The latter does not follow from the former. The first sentence is an instance of metaphysical necessity. But "all possible worlds" is an expression of logical necessity. There is a big difference between saying "God's nature is to exist," and saying "God exists in all possible worlds," because the former is true only in those worlds where the properties of a perfect being are found, not in all worlds.

            The necessity you are talking about CAN'T be logical necessity, otherwise you would be running the ontological argument all over again.

            "The idea that God's existence is both (1) necessary yet at the same time (2) neither analytic nor a priori is fine"

            --Why do you say the idea of God's non-existence is "incoherent," then? What other way can this idea be incoherent other than being conceptually or logically incoherent? I think you mean to say that after coming across the Cosmological Arguments, you are convinced of God's existence. But that's quite different than saying the idea itself of God's non-existence is incoherent.

            "Depending on how the terms were used in the
            argument, we would know what kind of "necessity" was being discussed."

            --That's exactly my point. So again, how do I know the sense in which the word "necessary" is being used in your arguments is needed to qualify
            for the status of being a necessary being in the first place? You haven't given me any reason for thinking possessing "pure act," for example is merely a sufficient, but not a necessary, condition for having necessary existence.

            "The reason matter cannot be destroyed has to do with the nature of the
            physical universe."

            --No, are you even reading my posts? We hold that the First Law of Thermodynamics is only an instance of a deeper metaphysical principle at work, namely, that no non-composite or unchanging being can be annihilated or created. Metaphysically, this is why numbers, universals, and propositions exist necessarily along with matter. Again, I've said this several times now: it is not the physicality of material beings that motivates this intuition, but the fact that all the items listed above are unchanging and non-composite.

          • TomD123

            Two points:

            (1) Again, No, I am not arguing about ontological arguments. I told you what I mean when I said God exists by necessity. However, I can still hold that ontological arguments fail (I am not sure if they do or not) not because they are false so much as they either beg the question or presuppose we have knowledge (i.e. God's nature is to exist) that we cannot have a priori.

            And yes, if something is metaphysically necessary, it exists in every possible world. Just like since the nature of water is H2O, it is true that in every possible world water is H2O. Of course, some possible worlds do not have water. Now if we say that the nature of God is to exist, it is likewise true that in every possible world God exists.

            One can reach this conclusion in other ways besides the ontological argument. That is what I am saying

            (2) I have given you no reason to think that "pure act" and necessary existence are the same. I don't know why you keep asking me to do so. You're assuming that I think they are the same--again you are conflating two arguments that are different.

            (3) Yes I am reading your posts. I am saying that the reason matter cannot be created or destroyed, the EMPIRICAL data you keep citing is based on the laws of physics. IF you are also arguing that this law of physics is actually necessary based on a deeper metaphysical necessity, I have explained why I doubt this numerous times. If matter is to exist necessarily, every possible world contains matter. Every possible world contains the first law of thermodynamics.

            I'd also challenge the idea that matter is simple. What reasons do you have for thinking that this is the case? Second, matter is clearly changing. Matter does not cease to exist in this world, yet it clearly changes. Finally, matter has existed at every time (presumably) yet it (also presumably) does not exist outside of time. In other words, its existence is time-dependent hence without our universe (or any universe for that matter) matter cannot exist.

            And one more thing, it is not like numbers, propositions, etc. in that matter is concrete and tangible rather than abstract.

          • Logike

            "Now if we say that the nature of God is to exist, it is likewise true that in every possible world God exists."

            --I think you mean to say "God exists" is true in every possible world. It's debatable whether possible worlds really exist, or whether they are nothing more than an artificial device to describe modality. In any case, that doesn't seem right to me, because then God's existence would be logically necessary, which it clearly is not. Further, I am deeply hesitant to apply possible worlds analyses to Scholastic talk about "necessity, essence, and existence" because these words don't have the same connotations for Scholastics as philosophers today use them.

            For instance, most philosophers today deny that "existence" is a predicate at all, and so deny that existence is a property of objects. If existence were a property, then "The Easter Bunny does not exist" would entail that the Easter Bunny is a part of reality and had the property of non-existence, which is contradictory. What this means for necessary existence is that existence of any object cannot be said to be "necessary" or "essential" (de re) to that object. At most we can say that "X exists" is true in all possible worlds. So your assertion that "God's nature is to exist" is meaningless. Existence is a feature of things. Things just either exist or don't.

            "I have given you no reason to think that "pure act" and necessary existence are the same. I don't know why you keep asking me to do so. "

            --No I don't presume that about you. I am asking why you think "pure act" is necessary for necessary existence because this excludes a priori numbers, universals, and matter from the class of necessary beings. Do you think there is only one necessary being--God? Why should anyone hold such a view? Most philosophers don't.

            "The EMPIRICAL data you keep citing is based on the laws of physics."

            --You've got that backwards. The Laws of physics were draw from the empirical data. And the empirical data is only one reason. The other is the fact that matter is not composite. Further, what in the world does having known something empirically have to do with questions of modality? Even if sense-experience is required to know that "water=H2O" is true, it is still necessarily true that water is H2O. I thought we illustrated that.

            "Matter does not cease to exist in this world, yet it clearly changes."

            --It changes only viv-a-vis its form, not vis-a-vis its existence. So its capacity to change vis-a-vis its form is irrelevant to my argument. I've said this about 20 times now. It is the substrate of all change.

            "I'd also challenge the idea that matter is simple. What reasons do you have for thinking that this is the case?"

            --Because the ascription of properties to something is what "divides it up." And prime matter without form has no properties. So matter is simple.

          • Caravelle

            In any case, your claim above doesn't seem right to me, because then God's existence would be logically necessary, which it clearly is not.

            No, it looks legit to me. The trick is in the "if we say that the nature of God is to exist". That "if" does a lot of work there!

            I see two ways of interpreting the phrase... no, actually I see three ways. The most interesting one is wondering what "the nature of X is to exist" means. The only thing I can come up with whose nature is to exist is reality, and that by definition is "what exists", so, not super-deep. The two less-interesting ways I see of interpreting the phrase is either "I define God as existing" (so, obvious question-begging), and something along the lines of "I define God as being existence itself", in which case, yeah, God's existence would be logically necessary... but what isn't logically necessary is calling existence "God".

          • Logike

            How is "God's definition is to exist" any different than saying "His nature is to exist"? To define something is to list its properties. And to tell what its nature, or essence is, is to do the same. If "existence" is a predicate in both cases, then God's existence would be logically necessary, no? It would just fall out of the definition as a consequence.

          • Caravelle

            How is "God's definition is to exist" any different than saying "His nature is to exist"?

            Depends on what you mean by "nature". But I don't see a difference, no. And yes, if God is defined as existing then saying God doesn't exist is a logical contradiction. Same thing if unicorns or carrots were defined as existing. As arguments for something's existence go you can't beg the question much more than that.

            The thing is, we already have a word for "that which is defined as existing". It's "reality". Anything that exists is either a subset of reality, or is reality itself. If it's reality itself then there's no reason to give it a different name or ascribe properties to it we have no evidence that reality has (such as a personality). If it's not reality itself then defining something as "existing" is an empty act; it's a subset of reality or it isn't based on its own properties, not your act of defining it.

          • Logike

            I agree the word "IF" is the trick, because TomD123m, on the one hand, will insist that God's nature is to exist, yet on the other hand, will deny he is tacitly offering an ontological argument. This is what is confusing me. He is committed to saying that God's existence is logically necessary--but where's the demonstration??

          • Logike

            I am curious. Are you a Platonic Realist with respect to the Forms (that Form can exist independently of matter) like I am, or do you hold like Aristotle does that Forms must be instantiated in matter to exist at all?

          • TomD123

            I am not sure I think that either Aristotle's or Plato's concept of forms are the best way to think about the world. But to the extent that I think realism about forms has something to be said for it, I am not a Platonist.

          • George

            so was there ever a time before there was matter if there was no time?

          • Robert Barron

            The problem is that there is no such thing as "matter in itself." Matter always exists in some particular form or state of being. This means, in turn, that we require an explanation of why it is in this state rather than any other. An infinite appeal to material causes won't suffice, for it simply postpones the answer indefinitely. To put this in terms of classical philosophy: act always precedes potency ontologically.

          • Logike

            "Matter always exists in some particular form or state of being."

            --True, but even Aristotle said it is matter which gives Forms existence, not Forms which give matter existence. Also, though material beings (substances) come into existence by instantiating a Form, it is a conceptual confusion to say their underlying matter came into existence by instantiating a Form. Did matter materialize when I cut this cookie-dough into a triangular shape? Absolutely not. The matter existed prior to the introduction of this new triangular shape. Because Forms are not responsible for the existence of matter (but only material beings), your search for the first cause of existence of matter in terms of "act" over "potency" is misguided. In the series ordered by existence, matter just IS the first element of the series. It can't possibly be "God." The Forms order matter without the need for God. And matter persists throughout changes in its Form. God as a hypothesis is superfluous in explaining existence.

          • RosaryVictory

            and the Form comes from Whom?

          • Logike

            "Matter always exists in some particular form or state of being."

            --Yes, but that doesn't mean its existence is dependent on any form, which is where you are mistaken. If this were so, then matter would be annihilated by a change of Form. But this never happens. So you need to make a distinction material beings (composites of matter and form) and the matter of which they are composed. Material beings are composed of matter; they are not matter. Composition is not identity.

            "that we require an explanation of why it is in this state rather than any other."

            --And the explanation of why matter is one way rather than another is to be found in the actualizing power of its Form. But Forms only explain why matter is one way rather than another; Forms explain why material beings exist. They don't explain why the MATTER of material beings exist, which is your mistake.

            "An infinite appeal to material causes won't suffice"

            --I agree. We must bottom out eventually in one or more Forms as an explanation why material beings are they way they are. But this doesn't entail God "exists," because THIS set of causes is ordered by Essence, not Existence. The power to "actualize" things, which is the causal power of the
            Forms, only causes the existence of material things; it doesn't cause the existence of the matter which composes them. The Form of Triangularity, for instance, causes this particular clump of matter to be triangular in shape, rather than, say, circular in shape. But it doesn't cause the MATTER of this particular triangle to exist. Such a notion is absurd, because if the existence of the matter depended on any particular form, the matter would cease to exist the moment matter changed Form--which never happens. Therefore, it is a misapplication of your "actualizing" causal principle to say actualizing Forms explain the existence of matter at all. They don't. Your argument from the existence of material beings to the existence of God on the order of "act" is, therefore, invalid. The cause series needs to be ordered by existence to demonstrate the existence of anything. I propose it is the persistent indestructibility of matter which orders all contingently existing beings because matter is responsible for the existence of material beings AND the existence of Forms (Forms must be instantiated in matter to exist at all [Aristotle]).

            "To put this in terms of classical philosophy: act always precedes potency ontologically."

            --Only on the order of change. But the persistence (existence) of matter never changes. So it requires no explanation! In the series ordered by existence, matter just IS the first element of the series explaining the existence of all contingently existing beings (and the existence of Forms).

          • RosaryVictory

            Matter needs a beginning as matter is not infinite and matter may require a reason for being.

          • Logike

            Possessing infinite extent is not needed to be necessary. Most philosophers hold that numbers, forms, and propositions exist necessarily, but none of these things are infinite.

            Further, much more is needed than saying matter "may" require a reason for being. You need a demonstration that matter is, in fact, contingent. Actually, we have several good reasons for believing matter is NOT contingent. Here are a few:

            (1) The persistence (existence) of matter never changes through changes in its Form.
            (2) That matter "can" be created and destroyed violates the 1st Law of Thermodynamics.
            (3) There was no time when matter was not.

          • RosaryVictory

            Logike: You are matter and form. Beauty needs no reason for being. You are not infinite. You are not necessary. You are contingent.

          • Logike

            Yes, I am a material being, and material beings are contingent because material beings are composites of matter and form. But I am talking about matter, not material beings. The latter change, the former does not. The failure to draw this distinction between material beings and matter is precisely the problem with Aquinas' arguments! Like Fr. Barron does at every turn, he mistakenly attributes the properties of material beings to all matter.

          • RosaryVictory

            so, nuclear fission does not change the atom?

          • Logike

            Of course it changes the atom. The atom is a material being. Material beings come and go all the time. But the matter of which they are composed remains throughout these changes and is never destroyed. It is only transferred.

          • RosaryVictory

            If matter is not infinite, from Whom does it come?

          • Logike

            Nowhere. Matter always was; i.e., there was no time when matter was not; i.e., all times are times when matter existed. So there is no need for a "cause."

          • RosaryVictory

            Then, matter is infinite, without beginning or end? Or is it that time itself is given to man as a gift from God?

          • Logike

            I don't know whether matter is finite or infinite. But I already explained why this distinction is not a decisive factor deciding contingency or non-contingency. Again, most philosophers hold that the number 4 necessarily exists. But the number 4 is not "infinite." It is a definite finite quantity.

            Further, "finite" is not synonymous with "not always existing." I have demonstrated this at length elsewhere. For, all times are times when matter exists. There was no time when matter was not.

          • RosaryVictory

            "finite" means having a beginning. Now, from Whom does time come and for whom does time come?

          • Logike

            I've already addressed this numerous times here. To say something is "finite in time" does not mean that it "came to be." In fact, these notions are radically contrary. "X comes to be" means there was a time T-1 at which X was not and a later time T0 at which X was. But "time is finite," means there was NO time T-1 "prior" to time T0, and hence nothing form which the universe came to be because the universe did not "come to be" in the first place.

            Further, change only happens between two intervals of time, a time at which the change commences and a time at which it is resolved during which some cause is responsible for the effect. Therefore, since there is no time prior to T0, the universe never came to be at T0. And if it did not come to be at T0, it did not change at T0. And since it did not change at T0, it does not require a cause at T0. Change only happens during all the temporal intervals after T0.

          • Logike

            "Or is it that time itself is given to man as a gift from God?"

            --You are speaking poetically, but I don't think this has any logical or metaphysical value in this discussion.

          • RosaryVictory

            "Therefore, since the universe (if it is finite in time) never came to be at T0, it did not change at T0. And since it did not change at T0, it does not require a cause at T0."

            Now, it is you, Logike, who is speaking in metaphysical and poetic terminology, for what is outside of time (T0) is omnipresent and in the spiritual realm. The spiritual realm is non-matter. Thought is non-matter of the spiritual realm and you have indeed much thought.

          • Logike

            I'm sorry, I don't see how the terms "coming to be," "time," "prior," or "after," are poetic. They have very precise and exclusive meaning in application to the concept of time, and I then deduced a contradiction from the supposition that "time came to be." I said nothing about your "spiritual realm" or tried to describe such a thing.

            "Thought is non-matter of the spiritual realm and you have indeed much thought."

            --Ok? For what it's worth, thought, as we are acquainted with it, does not create matter ex nihilo. Thought can only rearrange and organize pre-existing matter. "Creation ex nihilo" is not something anyone, including YOU, are acquainted with. So I am not sure how talking in gibberish demonstrates anything here.

          • RosaryVictory

            " "Creation ex nihilo" is not something anyone, including YOU, are acquainted with. So I am not sure how talking in gibberish demonstrates anything here."
            How do you know that I know nothing of "Creation ex nihilo". Ad hominem means that you have no argument.

          • Logike

            "How do you know that I know nothing of "Creation ex nihilo".

            --Because if you "knew it" you would be able to explain how an immaterial being brings matter from nothing. Good luck!

          • RosaryVictory

            God wills "Creation ex nihilo" and God is a Person with free will, and you and I are created with free will in the image of God. You and I, "We, the people..." are the greatest testimony to the existence of God. The universe is nice, the sky, the world, but you are a sovereign person with free will, man, an human being...and you are included in "We, the people..." wether you like it or not.

          • Logike

            "God wills it" is a non-answer because merely *willing*--as we know it--doesn't materialize matter. Try again.

      • Logike

        "It does apply to all change in general."

        --No, it doesn't: An infinite series of dominos knocking one another over is a series of changes only to which an accidentally-ordered series applies, not an essentially-ordered series.

        Your argument needs the further assumption that all existence is ordered in the same way that your cherry-picked examples are ordered. This assumption, however, is only stipulated. It could be the case that each finite essentially ordered series is bridged by causal accidents, so that all events together constitute an accidentally-ordered series continuing indefinitely without a first cause.

        • RosaryVictory

          The essence of God is existence, even of accidentally-ordered series continuing indefinitely without a first cause.

          • Logike

            Such is a stipulated definition, not a logical demonstration.

          • RosaryVictory

            You are a logical demonstration.

    • Pierre Axiaq

      Why doesn't it all apply to all change in general? Which premise is false or unsound?

      • Bob

        Take your pick. The point is that it definitely does not apply to physical motion, which is definitely a type of change.

        • "The point is that it definitely does not apply to physical motion, which is definitely a type of change"

          As explained above, you've repeatedly asserted this claim without evidence. And thus as a baseless claim, it fails to refute Aquinas's argument, which does indeed apply to physical motion.

          Yet even if you were correct, and Aquinas's argument applied to other form of change but not spatial motion, it would still prove the necessary existence of God. It would demonstrate that an Unmoved Mover is necessary for other forms of change. And if even one form of change necessitated an Unmoved Moved, God would exist.

          • Bob

            The evidence is Newton's Laws of Motion.

            You can now proceed to overturn them.

          • Spenser

            What does Newton's Laws of Motion have to do with Aquinas' argument? Explain that to me Bob that's what I'm still not getting

          • Mike

            Neither am i.

          • Bob

            Aquinas's argument is inapplicable to to at least one 'species' of change. This alone is enough to make the argument unsound, since Aquinas needs all change in general to be accounted for - for the argument to be sound.

          • Mike

            Maybe you're mixing up particular instances of movement with his metaphysical concept of movement as change?

          • Bob

            His metaphysical concept is fine if it works. It is the application of his concept to the real world where the problem lies.

            Once again, in order for the argument to be sound, it must apply to all change, which it empirically does not.

          • "Once again, in order for the argument to be sound, it must apply to all change, which it empirically does not."

            Unfortunately, you're wrong once again. The argument works if there is any change in the universe that necessitates an unmoved mover.

            Thus even if you're right that Newtonian physics demonstrates that objects which change spatial location do not require an unmoved mover (which I don't think you are), you would not prove the argument unsound.

          • Bob

            Brandon, you have this backwards. The argument actually fails if there is any change in the universe at all that does not necessitate an unmoved mover.

          • Brandon, you have this backwards. The argument actually fails if there is any change in the universe at all that does not necessitate an unmoved mover."

            Bob, let's try another question since I'm still unclear what you're actually arguing.

            Can you provide a specific example of something in the universe changing while not requiring something else to change it? (i.e. something that changes without any outside causation)

          • Bob

            That is not what I am arguing, at the moment. What I am arguing is that nothing can move something without itself being moved in the process. Newton's Third Law of Motion, IIRC.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Newton's Third Law of Motion, IIRC.

            IIRC??? You mean you don't actually know in what way Newton's descriptions local motion counter Aristotle's argument?

          • Bob

            IIRC relevant to whether it is the third, as opposed to the first or second. Upon refreshing my memory, ie looking it up, it was indeed the third...

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            It is not irrelevant because each law makes a different point. I'm surprised you had to look them up, as they are well known. Now, tell us how the third law, which Aquinas knew, somehow invalidates his argument. Or is it just something you heard about on a website and you are simply repeating it.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Aristotle thought that objects tended toward a state of rest, therefore the fact that objects are moving implied a mover. Because of Newton's First Law, we know that the observation of moving objects does not imply anything. Objects have inertial - they move how they have been moving, unless a force changes them.

            Newton's Third law notes that objects change each other. Therefore all change can be written off as moving movers moving each other. No unmoved mover is necessary.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Aristotle thought that objects tended toward a state of rest

            Nowadays we would say toward a equilibrium state. One state of rest mention by Aristotle was the ever-running orbits of the celestial spheres, for which we may substitute modern orbital motions. That is, since the orbits are not changing, they are not a kinesis in the sense in which he was writing. This is consonant with modern usage, in which equilibrium states include orbits, Belusov reactions, and other repetitive states.

            the fact that objects are moving implied a mover.

            Certainly. A body cannot move itself as a whole. Even a cat is moved by its legs.

            Because of Newton's First Law, we know that the observation of moving objects does not imply anything.

            Certainly it does. Something moved them. Perhaps the big bang. Perhaps the gravitational attractions of a dust cloud. Perhaps a Saturn V booster. Generically, they are moved by the momentum that was given them originally.

            Objects have inertial [sic] - they move how they have been moving.

            IT JUST IS! is not epistemologically superior to GOD DID IT! Inertia, the Latin word for "laziness," is a resistance to change, not a principle of motion. But you are correct that modern natural science does not address motion as such, but simply takes it as given. Every science much start with unexamined and unproven postulates.

            they move how they have been moving, unless a force changes them.

            This is simply Aristotle's (and Aquinas') major premise: "Whatever is changing is being changed by another."

            Newton's Third law notes that objects change each other. Therefore all change can be written off as moving movers moving each other.

            "Written off" or "swept under the rug"? If you are claiming that all material bodies are moved movers, I don't think Aristotle would disagree with you.

            No unmoved mover is necessary.

            You seem to think that this necessity is something arrived at by induction from the observation of moved movers. But no induction can achieve necessary knowledge -- at least not since Hume thoroughly trashed it. That's why all natural science is falsifiable, while mathematics is not.

            The necessity of an unmoved mover stems from the nature of 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 an ontologically prior mover. Since if there were no ontologically first mover no subsequent mover in the series would possess the power to actualize and there would be no motion in the world, contrary to fact, such a series must be finite. This is a deduction from motion, not an induction to a theory of motion.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Certainly it does. Something moved them. Perhaps the big bang. Perhaps the gravitational attractions of a dust cloud. Perhaps a Saturn V booster. Generically, they are moved by the momentum that was given them originally.

            According to Newton's first law, if I see something moving, I cannot then deduce that it had a mover. A moving object will continue moving, unless it's velocity is changed by a mover. Observing a moving object does not imply that it ever had a mover.

            IT JUST IS! is not epistemologically superior to GOD DID IT! Inertia, the Latin word for "laziness," is a resistance to change, not a principle of motion. But you are correct that modern natural science does not address motion as such, but simply takes it as given. Every science much start with unexamined and unproven postulates.

            You have to disprove the "It Just Is" theory to make the cosmological argument sound.

            "Written off" or "swept under the rug"? If you are claiming that all material bodies are moved movers, I don't think Aristotle would disagree with you.

            You would have to demonstrate that all that is moved cannot be done by moving movers. Physics suggests it can. I am not trying to prove the nonexistence of a first mover - I am asking you to prove the existence of a first mover who is outside the universe.

            You seem to think that this necessity is something arrived at by induction from the observation of moved movers. But no induction can achieve necessary knowledge -- at least not since Hume thoroughly trashed it. That's why all natural science is falsifiable, while mathematics is not.

            I have seen it inductively argued in this thread and inductively argued in the original piece. Why am I supposed to think it is not an inductive argument?

            The necessity of an unmoved mover stems from the nature of 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 an ontologically prior mover.

            You would have to demonstrate that the universe is such a series. Does such a series even exist?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            According to Newton's first law, if I see something moving, I cannot then deduce that it had a mover.

            That is not what Newton's first law says. It says that a change in motion requires a mover outside the body.

            A moving object will continue moving, unless it's velocity is changed by a mover.

            Exactly. In Aristotle, kinesis means change. If nothing is changing there is no need for an actualizer of the potential.

            a) A change in the motion requires a force (per Buridan and Newton)

            b) A continuation of a motion does not. The change in location in inertial motion is caused by its impetus (momentum) and the mover is whatever initially gave it that impetus.

            You have to disprove the "It Just Is" theory to make the cosmological argument sound.

            Oh, no! Not the old science-killing dogma of "things just happen"!

            You would have to demonstrate that all that is moved cannot be done by moving movers. Physics suggests it can.

            Give an example where physics shows something moving that has not been moved.

            I have seen it inductively argued in this thread and inductively argued in the original piece. Why am I supposed to think it is not an inductive argument?

            Because it's a deductive argument. Show where induction is used in the original piece.

            You would have to demonstrate that the universe is such a series.

            The universe is not a "series." It is not even clear to me that it is a "thing" (ouisia).

            Does such a series even exist?

            Certainly.

            Accidentally ordered: A man who has actually learned French may continue to speak French without an instructor continually whispering in his ear.
            Essentially ordered: A piano cannot continue to produce Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata unless a pianist concurrently plays the piano.
            That is, instrumental movers do not have the power to actualize anything unless they are concurrently being actualized.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Exactly. In Aristotle, kinesis means change. If nothing is changing there is no need for an actualizer of the potential.

            a) A change in the motion requires a force (per Buridan and Newton)

            b)A continuation of a motion does not. The change in location in inertial motion is caused by its impetus (momentum) and the mover is whatever initially gave it that impetus.

            So a change in velocity requires a mover or outside force, but the fact that something has a non-zero velocity does not imply that it was moved in the past. That is part Newtons 1st Law.

            Why doesn't a change in position require a mover? It is change?

            Oh, no! Not the old science-killing dogma of "things just happen"!

            I do not need to know how the universe came to exist to make scientific predictions.

            Give an example where physics shows something moving that has not been moved.

            Thats not what I said. I said that all things that are moved are moved by unmoved movers. We do not need to postulate an unmoved mover.

            The universe is not a "series." It is not even clear to me that it is a "thing" (ouisia).

            What is it?

            Essentially ordered: A piano cannot continue to produce Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata unless a pianist concurrently plays the piano.

            Say the oxygen was immediately removed from the room. Would the series also be dependent on the oxygen in the room?

            How would you precisely define an essentially ordered series?

          • Logike

            Well argued.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            So a change in velocity requires a mover or outside force, but the fact that something has a non-zero velocity does not imply that it was moved in the past. That is part Newtons 1st Law.

            Show us where Newton's First Law "implies" that. It speaks only about the need of forces to explain accelerations.

            Why doesn't a change in position require a mover? It is change?

            For the several-th time: the change in location of a body in inertial motion is due to the impetus (momentum) which it already possesses. Its mover is therefore whatever gave it its impetus in the first place.

            I do not need to know how the universe came to exist to make scientific predictions.

            Well, sure. That's why China never developed science. They were content with facts and rules of thumb. Western science insisted on explaining those facts and elevating rules of thumb into natural laws deducible from physical theory. If you are content with "IT JUST IS!" there is prospect of a physical theory and the scientific program is stopped dead in its tracks. Engineering and math will continue, of course.

            The universe is not a "series." It is not even clear to me that it is a "thing" (ouisia).

            What is it?

            It may well be a heap, simply a mereological sum. Is the Suniggy, the mereological sum of the Sun and Ignatius Reilly, a "thing" (ouisia)?

            Say the oxygen was immediately removed from the room. Would the series also be dependent on the oxygen in the room?

            Probably. Causation is a tree, and few things have only one cause. Illustrative examples are not intended to be exhaustive, only illustrative.

            How would you precisely define an essentially ordered series?

            Dude, I just did that.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Show us where Newton's First Law "implies" that. It speaks only about the need of forces to explain accelerations.

            From Wikipedia: When viewed in an inertial reference frame, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force

            Therefore, an object that is moving could have been moving like that forever. We only need a mover to change the velocity of an object not its position. An object does not need a mover to explain its movement. An object only needs a mover to explain any change in velocity.

            For the several-th time: the change in location of a body in inertial motion is due to the impetus (momentum) which it already possesses. Its mover is therefore whatever gave it its impetus in the first place.

            Yes, this is what we observe. I thought all changes required actualization by an outside actualizer. If I observe a change in position of an object moving at constant velocity from t=1 to t=2 that does not require an actualizer. Why is change from position exempt from needing an actualizer? If it is exempt, why can't other things be exempt?

            Probably. Causation is a tree, and few things have only one cause. Illustrative examples are not intended to be exhaustive, only illustrative.

            My issue is that any essentially ordered series that you give me, I could add necessary components to the series. In the case of the man playing the piano: we need a medium for the sound to move through, oxygen, spacetime, and matter. We also need things that are considered accidental(are they accidental?), such as the man has to have had food and water recently, sleep, parents etc. I don't think you could ever completely construct an essentially ordered series with all of the necessary parts to get the final cause. Regardless, the universe itself would always be part of an essentially ordered series.

            Isn't essentially ordered series part of contingency and not motion?

            Interestingly, we associate cause with the man, but we miss other "causes" such as the medium that the sound moves through.

            Dude, I just did that.

            I meant a definition along the lines of: An essentially ordered series is a series of actualizers combined with a final cause such that if we remove one of the actualizers the final cause ceases. I was hoping for something in your words - I am not satisfied with the above.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Therefore, an object that is moving could have been moving like that forever.

            Newton's first law does not say that. You are reading into it, like the folks who once read eugenics into Darwin's theory.

            Besides, what has forever got to do with things. Aristotle assumed that the world was eternal, and Aquinas saw no proof in philosophy that it was not and so also assumed the world was eternal. "First" mover or "first" cause mean first ontologically, not first temporally.

            I thought all changes required actualization

            by an outside actualizer. If I observe a change in position of an object moving at constant velocity from t=1 to t=2 that does not require an actualizer. Why is change from position exempt from needing an actualizer?

            The change in location (in the peculiar circumstances) is actualized by the momentum (impetus) that the body was given, so the proper mover is whatever imparted that impetus originally. Of course, that is theoretical: in actual fact, bodies' locations are being actualized by the gravitational attraction of stars and planets, but Tiger Woods, by Sharon Kam, by the arrangement of dominoes, by the placement of a saucer of milk, etc.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Newton's first law does not say that. You are reading into it, like the folks who once read eugenics into Darwin's theory.

            I don't think I am. Certainly, I am not alone in my view. If a ball is flying through space, I have no reason to believe that it ever underwent a change in velocity. At least if we are only considering Newtons First Law.

            Besides, what has forever got to do with things. Aristotle assumed that
            the world was eternal, and Aquinas saw no proof in philosophy that it
            was not and so also assumed the world was eternal. "First" mover or
            "first" cause mean first ontologically, not first temporally.

            It has nothing to do with the time. It has to do with Aristotle's observation that movement implies a mover.

            The change in location (in the peculiar circumstances) is actualized by the momentum (impetus) that the body was given, so the proper mover is whatever imparted that impetus originally..

            But the ball traveling for space possess the momentum. It is a case of self-actualization.

          • Logike

            "But the ball traveling for space possess the momentum. It is a case of self-actualization."

            --Yes, otherwise one is forced to read his view as saying "the original impetus continues to cause change at later and later times"--the spooky "instantaneous action-at-a-distance" thing repulsive to Einstein.

          • Logike

            " . . .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 an ontologically prior mover."

            --Hmm. It seems inertia is empirical proof that our universe is not essentially-ordered with respect to motion because an object in inertia can actualize the potential of another object without *concurrently* being actualized by the original mover. The only other option is to abandon the Special Theory of Relativity and say the original mover continues to act upon objects at later and later times and at further and further distances--*spooky instantaneous action at a distance*

          • SJH

            Only one movement requires an "unmoved mover". That would be creation. Even if you proved all other movers are themselves movers, you would not disprove God's existence because it is reasonably possible that he only set in place the possibility for the first motion. Newton's laws only apply after that first motion was set into place.

          • Bob

            You should think really about this, because the only way you get to an unmoved mover is to beg the question.

            Remember, Aquinas is trying to prove the necessity of an unmoved mover in the first place.

          • SJH

            So there must be one unmoved mover that set in motion the first motion. All other movers are a chain reaction of that first motion. The necessity of the first mover still exists.

          • Bob

            Perhaps, but the First Way is not successful in deducing it.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            That's not quite right, either. It's something that is happening all the time: creatio continuo.

          • Logike

            "It's something that is happening all the time: creatio continuo."

            --It is? Where?

          • Mike

            In antarctica; didn't anybody tell you? LOL...sorry i couldn't help myself!

          • SJH

            True, because the universe was created from a position of eternity. It is not a continuous across time but occurring at once in eternity.

          • Logike

            So much for free will.

          • SJH

            Please explain why you believe that this eliminates free will. Why can't we still act freely within our sphere of existence or why can't we be allowed to do so.

          • Logike

            Because if all past, present, and future times occur "at once" in eternity, then there is (tenselessly) a fact of the matter about what someone will do prior to his doing it. The future is therefore, not "open," but closed, like the past. And if there is already a fact of the matter about what someone will do, then he cannot not do it, because, a fact, whether past, present, or future, cannot be a made a non-fact.

          • SJH

            Do all past, present and future times have to occur at once? Or, do they all occur within time but are visible from the standpoint of eternity.
            Also, if I make a choice, is it not free will just because someone outside of time and space can see the choice I am going to make before I make it. Example, if there was a candy bar left on my counter, and I watch my son walk into the room, I know he is going to choose to eat it does that mean that he does not have the free will to choose whether to eat it or not?

          • Logike

            "Do all past, present and future times have to occur at once?"

            --No, that's absurd because past, present, and future denote different tenses, hence the quotes around the words "at once." I made it clear I was using "is" without tense, because that's how it is used from the point of view of eternity--(you actually mean timelessness, not eternity, but that's ok.)

            You said creation occurs "at once" in eternity, which is just a colloquialism for saying there is (tenselessly) a fact of the matter about what someone does from the point of view of eternity. From inside time, what someone will do has not yet occurred. But from the point of view of eternity, it is already a fact. This is incompatible with free will because it is impossible to unmake a fact, analogously to the way you can't unmake the past once it is already done.

          • Logike

            "Also, if I make a choice, is it not free will just because someone outside of time and space can see the choice I am going to make before I make it."

            --"Seeing" entails the existence of the target seen. You can't "see" something that doesn't exist. So, if someone "sees a fact," then the fact exists.

            And if there is a fact of matter about what you will do before you do it, then you can't do otherwise than what you will do. This is a logical truth if there is one.

          • Logike

            Brandon says: "The argument works if there is any change in the universe that necessitates an unmoved mover."

            --No, it doesn't: "The ball moves. The ball is moved by the stick; the stick is is moved by the arm, the arm is moved by . . . Therefore, a unmoved person exists responsible for this series. Therefore, God exists."

            This is invalid. Your argument needs the further assumption that all existence is ordered in the same way that ball-and-stick example is ordered. This assumption, however, is only stipulated. It could be the case that each finite essentially ordered series is bridged by causal accidents, so that the entire series of events constitutes an accidentally-ordered series, not an essentially-ordered series.

          • Logike

            "The argument works if there is any change in the universe that necessitates an unmoved mover."

            --No it doesn't. This is just dumb. That you have proved an unmoved mover for one series does not prove an unmoved mover for any series at all, because some series' are ordered indefinitely and accidentally.

          • Mike

            But aren't you "Stopping" it at some arbitrary point not applying his concept "all the way through"?

          • Bob

            I don't believe so.

          • Mike

            Hmmmm...ok i think you and aquinas are just addressing different areas then but i know you don't think so.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            You still have not explained how this is so. In fact, you have not cited any of Newton's actual laws and shown how they invalidate the syllogism. His first law is one of Aquinas' premises. His third law was known to Aquinas and was mentioned by him elsewhere. I don't see where the second law would have struck him as odd, and for all I know he was aware of it in some other context.

          • Bob

            If Aquinas actually knew Newton's third law then he probably would not have misused it in his first way.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Once again: How did he misuse it?

          • Logike

            "And if even one form of change necessitated an Unmoved Moved, God would exist."

            --No, that doesn't logically follow at all. You would have only demonstrated an unmoved mover from a single isolated essentially-ordered series. Your argument needs the further assumption that the entire universe is ordered in the same way that your particular examples are. This assumption, however, is stipulated, not proved. It could be the case that each essentially ordered series within the universe is bridged by causal accidents, so that the entire series of events constitutes an accidentally-ordered series, not an essentially-ordered series.

          • "No, that doesn't logically follow at all. You would have only demonstrated an unmoved mover from a single isolated essentially-ordered series."

            But demonstrating an unmoved mover is precisely the goal, a goal which you admit would be accomplished.

          • Logike

            But you haven't achieved that goal. The arm moving the stick moving the ball is only one causal series among many, not all of which are essentially ordered. Some causal series are ordered accidentally. So, please provide an argument demonstrating the totality of matter and energy is, in fact, an essentially-ordered series, rather than an accidentally-ordered series.

          • "The soundness of you [sic] contingency argument depends on it."

            First of all, this isn't the contingency argument for God. You're confusing Thomas' First Way (argument from motion) with his Third Way (argument from contingency.) It's impossible to have fruitful dialogue if we're focused on two different arguments, so let's agree to stick to the First Way for now.

            "The arm moving the stick moving the ball is only one causal series among many, not all of which are essentially ordered. Some causal series are ordered accidentally. So, please provide an argument demonstrating the totality of matter and energy is, in fact, an essentially-ordered series, rather than an accidentally-ordered series."

            Aquinas does not argue, nor does he need to, that all causal series are accidental. He simply argues that some causal series are essentially ordered (or per se). And if some causal series are essentially ordered, as you apparently agree, then they require a necessary First Cause (or in this case, an Unmoved Mover.)

            You might find these two articles helpful by Dr. Edward Feser on the First Way and essentially-ordered causality:

            http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-series.html

            http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/06/oerter-on-motion-and-first-mover.html

          • Logike

            "And if some causal series are essentially ordered, as you
            apparently agree, then they require a necessary First Cause (or in this
            case, an Unmoved Mover.)"

            --No. This is clearly logically invalid. Again, the unmoved mover demonstrated to exist for the stick and ball does not demonstrate an unmoved mover for the existence of the universe. That the former series is ordered essentially does not entail the latter is ordered essentially. Try again.

          • Logike

            Further, the remarks of Feser relevant to my point don't stand up to scrutiny. I will address them in turn:

            Feser says: "For any material substance is a composite of substantial form and prime matter; and since prime matter exists only as actualized by substantial form, while substantial form is a mere abstraction unless instantiated in prime matter, we will have an explanatory vicious circle unless we appeal to something outside the form/matter composite which sustains it in being."

            --I don't see why this mutually sustaining role between matter and form is "vicious" because they have different explanatory roles with respect to the physical object in question. The Form of Triangularity explains why a clump of matter has a triangular shape, and the matter instantiates the Form of Triangularity explaining why the physical triangle exists. Contrary to Feser's claim, though matter depends on a particular form to have shape, matter does not depend on any particular form to have existence. Such a notion is wrongheaded. If the existence of any particular clump of matter were dependent on a particular Form, as soon as that matter lost its Form, it would cease to exist--which is absurd, because this isn't what happens. Instead, it just changes its form. It is perfectly conceivable that any given clump of matter could have instantiated a triangular shape instead, rather than a circular shape, for example. Therefore, though matter's shape is dependent on form, matter's existence is not dependent on any particular Form. In fact, matter's independence from Form is what allows it to undergo change in Form.

            --There is nothing "vicious" here, particularly if matter is neither created nor destroyed (as I have explained elsewhere), which is certainly plausible. Therefore, there is no need to cite a cause over and above the matter and form to explain the existence of the triangle.

            Feser says: "Furthermore, any material substance is a composite of an essence together with an act of existence, and thus in need of something which combines these metaphysical parts if it is to persist in being at any particular instant. And this can, ultimately, only be something whose essence just is existence,"

            --Though it is true that matter and form are both necessary for a particular object to exist, what more work is there to do? An efficient cause might be necessary to hammer matter into a new shape, but such a being is not necessary to sustain this particular thing in existence afterwards. The necessary existence of matter is sufficient. Matter just IS.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I think you guys are using the same term, but with a different definition. Logike if referring to an unmoved mover as the first element in any causality series. In the person swinging a stick, which hits a ball example, the person is considered an unmoved mover by Logike's usage.

          • Logike

            "It would demonstrate that an Unmoved Mover is necessary for other forms of change"

            --NO! A proof that there is a first element of the moving series "arm--stick--rock" does not constitute a proof there is a first element to all moving events within the universe because the latter could be an infinite string of events without a first mover as an accidentally-ordered series.

    • Chesire11

      If it is true that in moving something from potency to act changes the mover, (a premise that I am not ready to accept), then that can only apply to movers within time. A mover that is not part of the physical universe resides outside of time, in eternity, and cannot be changed.

      Indeed, if the cause of the universe doesn't "precede" it, like a finger toppling the first in a long series of dominoes, but rather underlies, at a deeper level of being, every instant of the universe, like the table upon which the dominoes stand, then the moving of the universe isn't motion at all, when viewed from eternity.

      • Bob

        D = RxT ... :(

    • Gail Finke

      Aquinas, like Aristotle, begins with a statement that "nothing is known to move without a mover," and concludes from this is that there has to be a mover that did not first have to be moved. Your argument against this boils down to "oh no, there doesn't." That doesn't strike me as persuasive.

      • Bob

        Not quite. My argument is that, per Newton, all movers are themselves moved in the act of moving.

        • Brett Powers

          So, gravity is God? Or Newton?

          Or, what started the movement (i.e. gravity)?

          • Bob

            If I understand your referent correctly, the issue of positing gravity as an unmoved mover would be that it would not allow Aquinas to go beyond it, since his premises are based on intuitions about the material world in the first place. Unless, of course, you simply beg the question.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Gravity is not a thing. In present theory it's an illusion caused by the warping of the field of Ricci tensors in turn caused by the presence of matter.

        • "My argument is that, per Newton, all movers are themselves moved in the act of moving."

          Bob, you keep repeating this objection even though it's been shown above to be faulty. However, you may be interested in Dr. Edward Feser's handling of your "Aquinas vs. Newton" position:

          http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/12/aquinas-versus-newton.html

          • Bob

            Thanks, I'll check it out.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          The relativistic ether of Einstein and the zero-point energy of Heisenberg are not ponderable [inertial] matter, and the agency of ordinary matter on it not intelligible as usual efficient causality. It's not clear whether dark matter, though it acts on ponderable matter is itself acted upon.

          The sunlight acts on the anthocyanin in the skin of an apple, moving it from green to red. The sunlight is moved by the sun. I am not certain that the sun is moved by the apples ripening. But as pointed out earlier, Aquinas was entirely aware that bodies in contact move each other.

          • Bob

            And bodies not in contact move each other and any thing moving anything else is itself moved as a result.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            With the possible exception of dark matter, if you've been keeping up with things.

            Give an example of two bodies not in contact which move each other without an intermediate contact, such as the gravitational field, magnetic field, entangled quantum timelines, or some other such thing.

          • Logike

            How about the EPR paradox, where two particles interact non-locally, which is verified over and over again? The Copenhagen interpretation could not explain the EPR correlations. And Bell's Theorem proves that the correlations require action at a distance.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPR_paradox
            http://spot.colorado.edu/~huemer/qm3.htm

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Consider that, as currently understood, what we see here and now is simply a three-dimensional projection of a four-dimensional entity: a "slice" at time t of a "worm" that extends backward and forward in time. For two particles to become entangled, they must have once been in contact and in terms of Minkowski 4-space, they are still in contact at time t', a bit to the left on the t-axis.

          • Logike

            ? The experiment shows that the entanglement occurs outside their respective light cones, the "space-like" region in Minkowski 4-D space. So how can they be in "contact"?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Ol' Wikipedia states

            Entanglement is usually created by direct interactions between subatomic
            particles.

            IOW, the particles were in contact when the entanglement was originated and pass into separate light cones afterward. If you buy Minkowski 4-space the connection passes down the time axis to the zero-point of their interaction, then up the other time cone. If we regard time as simply another axis in 4-space it is no more mysterious than that one's toes and fingers are connected in the vertical space axis.

            Besides, all that is predicted is that the various states of one particle are correlated with the states of the other, and correlation is not causation. An example: the batch yield of a certain chemical compound was negatively correlated with the pressure in the vessel. Yet, there was no direct connection between vessel pressure and chemical yield. Rather both were the outcome of an impurity in one of the raw materials. This impaired the yield on the one hand, and resulted in increased foaming for which the SOP was to increase pressure to counteract.

          • Logike

            "IOW, the particles were in contact when the entanglement was originated
            and pass into separate light cones afterward. If you buy Minkowski
            4-space the connection passes down the time axis to the zero-point of
            their interaction, then up the other time cone."

            --What do you mean by "the connection passes down . . ."? I know how space-time diagrams work, and this doesn't make sense because the earlier entanglement (what you dub the "zero point of their interaction") is not what explains the later apparent "instantaneous action-at-a-distance." The later connection is entirely mysterious because the later connection is a connection (or signal) that apparently travels faster than light. There is no later space-time contiguity between the original pair of particles, contrary to what you suppose, because the signal, according to STR, cannot travel outside their respective light cones! That's the whole problem!

            I think you just don't understand the experiment. The paradox remains because it still strongly suggests Einstein and the special theory of relativity are wrong.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            And yet the theory of relativity also has very strong support. Maybe the Copenhagen interpretation is wrong. I suppose we could wait until the scientists are finally satisfied, or the grant money runs out. I'll wait until they figure out whether is it a causal connection or a correlation. Who knows: what if Cramer's transactional theory is true?

            The two entangled particles are separated only at the present point in time. But those particles are only projections in 3-space of a 4-dimensional thing. If we consider the things entire they may be no more disconnected than the aspen trees of Pando.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pando_%28tree%29

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Copenhagen is the interpretation that best fits the facts as we understand them currently.

          • Logike

            But the Copenhagen interpretation, under all the logically random possibilities imaginable, cannot explain or predict the 100% correlation that results in the "answers" that the pair of particles yield when measured. In fact Bell's Theorem proves the particles *have* to communicate. Mere correlation is what is ruled out. Please read further why under sections II and III here: http://spot.colorado.edu/~huemer/qm3.htm

          • Logike

            "The two entangled particles are separated only at the present point in
            time. But those particles are only projections in 3-space of a
            4-dimensional thing. If we consider the things entire they may be no
            more disconnected than the aspen trees of Pando."

            --"considered entire"? Are you now saying spatio-temporal non-contiguity is a form of contiguity? Your liberty with changing the meaning of words to avoid counterexample is pretty deplorable, I must say. The two particles are not, in fact, in contact because they are in different light cones. But Bell's Theorem proves they *have* to communicate.

          • Logike

            "Besides, all that is predicted is that the various states of one
            particle are correlated with the states of the other, and correlation is
            not causation."

            --But the correlation is not at all random. And so now you take the liberty to deny this incredibly strong correlation constitutes causation? Whatever. You're moving the goal posts when someone presents a counterexample to your claim that causation can happen at a space-time distance. The results of the EPR experiment are not passed off by physicists as "chance" occurrences. They have robust consequences for Einsteins special theory of relativity.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            But the correlation is not at all random.

            Of course not; otherwise there would be no correlation at all.

            And so now you take the
            liberty to deny this incredibly strong correlation constitutes
            causation?

            That's because... let's see, what's the technical term in statistics... oh,yeah: because it isn't. There was an "incredibly" strong correlation between the percentage of women in the US Labor Force and the percentage of imported passenger cars sold in the US. That doesn't mean we could have saved Detroit by putting women back in the kitchen. A correlation does not grow up to be a causation simply by getting bigger, even "incredibly" bigger, any more than a theory graduates to a fact by accumulating confirmations. I have even seen cases in my past practice in which a genuine causal relationship did not show up as a correlation, in addition to the more common cases in which there is a correlation and no causation at all.

            when someone presents a
            counterexample to your claim that causation can happen at a space-time
            distance.

            Actually, I thought I was taking the other tack; viz., that the action-reaction relationship of the third law requires some sort of contact. The causal effect of gravity was once thought to be action at a distance. There's the sun and here's the earth, and the earth somehow "feels" the sun's presence. But we now conceive gravity not as a spooky invisible "force" but as a warp in the space-time fabric (the tensor field) due to the presence of mass. The sun curves space-time, with which it is in direct contact; and this affects the earth, which is also in contact with the tensor field. The earth meanwhile is doing the same.

          • Logike

            But mere correlation is what is ruled out by Bell's Theorem. The Theorem proves the two particles must communicate. Please read further why under sections II and III here: http://spot.colorado.edu/~huem...The Copenhagen interpretation, under all logical possibilities, cannot explain or predict the 100% correlation which results in the "answers" that the pair of particles yield when measured.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Aquinas didn't have the privilege of knowing Newton, but we do.

      Which makes it all the more interesting that his major premise is actually Newton's first law wearing a wig and dark glasses.

    • Efren Pizano

      I'm suprised that you didn't see a contradiction in your own objection Bob. You assume that the argument is arguing that an unmoved mover is possible. But the argument is not aiming to show that an unmoved mover is possible. It shows that it is necessary deduction from the way things are. It is designed to rule out all other possible explanations, and saying that the only logical available option when you agree to all the premises is this one, namely, that an unmoved mover must exist.

      The argument that an unmoved mover is possible can be deduced from that as well, since nothing can be actual without being possible.

      You did not prove how Aquinas' argument does not apply to all change in general. Newton's theory of motion only applies to physical objects. You argue that for physical change there are no unmoved movers. But that is also stated in Aquinas' argument. Your mistake is that you assume that since Newton's theory of motion is not metaphysical, and Aquinas' argument is, that it doesn't hold anymore because Newton came after and his theory must be more advanced, which is false.

      One thing we must remember is that it is a rational argument. It is not based on observation or scientific experimentation. It can only be proven or disproven by reason on its own terms.

      • Bob

        No, my objection is actually that Aquinas's argument does not actually show that an unmoved mover is necessary.

        I think that I have been pretty clear on this from the outset.

        • "No, my objection is actually that Aquinas's argument does not actually show that an unmoved mover is necessary.

          I think that I have been pretty clear on this from the outset."

          You have been clear on your objection, but unclear on its support.

          • Logike

            Brandon, please explain the logical steps from the conclusion that there is a first cause of the arm moving the stick moving the ball to the conclusion that there is a first cause of all the ordered events within the universe. You said the former entails the latter. By what premise, though? That one causal series is ordered essentially does not entail that all causal series are ordered essentially. So far as I can tell, this is stipulated on your part.

        • Efren Pizano

          Then you didn't understand the argument.

          You said - "If that which causes the motion is itself being moved, then it must be moved by another." This seems to have been more true than Aquinas realized since that which causes motion is in fact moved by that which it moves.
          There is the definition of motion given by Aquinas, which is general and is not affected by Newtonian physics because it includes it. There is the premise: If something is in motion, it is moved by something else. For nothing is the cause of its own motion. If it was, it would be the Unmoved Mover. If it was not, and motion is moved by something else to infinity, then there would still need to be an Unmoved Mover to get the whole thing going.
          In logic it's called the horned dillema.
          It does not start with any assumptions, but rather proves the necessity of an Unmoved Mover from the nature of things. It works even with Newtonian physics. Newtonian physics "For every action there is a reaction," and an object in rest stays at rest, an object in motion stays in motion," applies only to material, observable things. Even if it was a different kind of motion Aquinas is talking about, it would only apply to physical objects. It does not change the definition of motion, only clarifies the laws which it operates in certain conditions.

          • VeritatisSplendor

            "For nothing is the cause of its own motion. If it was, it would be the Unmoved Mover."

            Efren, not trying to nitpick you here, but being the cause of one's own motion is impossible. I'll try to go find the text(s) to point you to but, essentially, that notion is identical to the idea of something "creating itself," which is not the case for God (the unmoved mover). St. Thomas makes it clear that is impossible and not what occurs in the unmoved mover. Rather, the unmoved mover is not the subject of any motion at all—He is totally and completely "unmoved," and does not produce motion by Himself moving, as material agent causes do, e.g. as a man moves a bike by moving his legs.

          • Efren Pizano

            Yes, you are correct. Technically nothing could be the cause of its own existence, which cancels that one out and leads to the Unmoved Mover option. I was thinking of aseity. But you are absolutely right, the causality we are considering cannot cause itself, so there must be an Uncaused Cause. Right?

          • Mike

            "nothing can be the cause of its own existence" this is a very interesting premise or claim or whatever it technically is...if it's true wouldn't the universe have to have a creator even if only another universe and on and on until a final uncreated creator appeared?

            This must be "god" and the best fit to my mind is the christian classical concept of God.

          • Greg Johnson

            God in the classical theist's view just is Existence Itself. You are exactly right; if the cause of our universe's existence is just another universe (or in the technical jargon, if the potentiality of our universe is actualized by another actual universe, then its potential must be actualized by something... on and on until we get to Pure Actuality (Actus Purus in Aquinian terms) which actualizes everything else without itself needing an actualizer.

            Pure Act is necessarily an immaterial thing, since being material entails changeability, and since any change just is the actualization of potential, Pure act also cannot change at all.

            It must also be outside time and space because to be subject to either entails potential of some sort, but pure act by definition has no potentiality whatever.

            Eventually we demonstrate that Pure Act necessarily is divine, but I don't have time to fully lay that out. Peace.

          • Mike

            Thx. i agree with you as logically there must be some end point but i guess that just makes more sense to me than an infinite mutli-verse w/o end and no agency except some combination of inanimate matter and energy resulting in the "emergence" of life and us.

          • VeritatisSplendor

            Yes, Efren, I think that's right.

            God does not cause Himself, but rather, as His essence and existence are identical, He is what-it-is to exist. Hence, the beauty and fittingness of His name revealed to Moses, "I AM WHO AM."

            God causes motion not by Himself moving, as thing which has parts does, but by His power. Aquinas puts it this way, that in expressing God's causing motion it is not so much that "He moves creatures," as if he were the subject of some motion or change but that "creatures are moved."

    • Robert Barron

      Your observation wouldn't affect the validity of the argument at all. If there is some mutuality between effect and cause, so that in the very act of causing change, the changer is changed by that which it changes, we would still have to analyze the changes in question along Aquinas's lines and eventually come to some prime element.

      • Logike

        "have to analyze the changes in question along Aquinas's lines and eventually come to some prime element."

        --The prime element is the persistence of matter. Though changing vis-a-vis its form, matter never changes vis-a-vis its existence; it persists throughout its changes and is never created or destroyed. So the persistence of matter is a good candidate for being necessary. Forms (not God) explain why things are the way they are. e.g., the Form of Triangularity (not God) explains the triangularity of a triangle. So God is a superfluous explanation for material existence. Matter and Form together do the job just fine.

        • Efren Pizano

          The persistence of the argument that matter continues to change as opposed to the argument that a first Unmoved Mover must exist will run out, just like matter will, no matter how many different forms it pops up as. The reason I say that is because changeable being by definition is potentiality, there is no such thing as prime matter, as these people have been saying. Thank heaven that there are thinkers who continue to point out the implications of reason that changeable being IS the argument for unchangeable being.

    • KC

      Bob, interesting argument. Regarding your point:

      "There can be no unmoved mover, since movers are themselves moved in the moving.
      The only way out of this is to assume that there is something that does have the ability to move without being moved, which of course makes the argument circular, at least from a modern perspective."

      You would be correct if you were stating that there can be no *physical* unmoved mover since all things physical would have some (even if small) effect on the other. However, Aquinas does not make the claim that the unmoved mover is a physical being.

      Also, when Aquinas is speaking of movement he is referring to actuallity and potency. The reason that things in the universe move is because they have potency, which becomes actualized by something else. Aquinas argues that God is pure actuality (has no potency). To God there is no time (what we perceive as past, present and future to Him just are and were always). So the creation of the universe in time has no effect on Him because to Him the Universe was in a sense always (in every state) present to HIm.

  • Vincent Herzog

    Thank you, Fr. Barron. Just last night I was just discussing with some academics in my RCIA group the need for more serious treatment of this argument. If I could press a little further, I'd like to narrow in on this claim: "If we suppress the first element in this sort of chain, the entire causal nexus would collapse and the motion under immediate consideration would not be adequately explained." One might ask how we are licensed to speak of removing a first element of the chain, given that that is precisely what we're setting out to prove there is. Aquinas seems to argue that there must be a first element, since infinite the infinite regress is impossible, yet the infinite regress is said to be impossible because the removal of the first element (which wouldn't be there to be removed on the hypothetical of the regress) would remove the ones dependent on it.

    • Vincent Herzog

      One might say that, without a first, all causes become intermediate causes, but it could be responded that that is merely a restatement of the question-begging assertion that they must all hang on a first cause for their causal efficacy. Rather (they might say), all causes are intermediate, but between sets of dependent causes, not between a first and subsequent, and that it still has to be shown why that's a problem without asserting what's to be proved, that all depend on a first cause. One might say that without the first cause, "subsequent" causes have nothing from which to receive their actuality, but it can be responded that they receive it from the immediate prior sufficient cause, and that has to suffice unless we want to redefine "sufficient." These are the responses I have encountered, and I'm looking for satisfactory counters.

  • Mike

    Reminds me of a game i used to play with my brother as we lay in bed trying to fall asleep. I'd ask him something like why is the bed beige and he'd respond bc that's what color it was painted; to which i'd respond why was it painted that color to which he'd respond bc that's the color that most ppl like; to which i'd respond why do most ppl like that color; bc it pleases them; why does it please them; bc pleasing them feels nice; why does feeling nice matter; to which he'd respond again and we'd keep going around and around like that until we fell asleep. But there was an important lesson in logic contained in it i think and it was that all things happen for some "reason" and that nothing causes nothing and that there must be at the very end of that chain something that was not caused.

  • Loreen Lee

    Quote: Therefore it follows that a prime mover exists, which is to say, an
    unactualized source of actualization, an unenergized energizer, an
    ultimate source of all of the change in the cosmos.

    In the next paragraph this statement is contradicted by the alternative definition of God as the 'Actual'. I have recently found in reading Hebrew analysis of scripture the belief that the word, "I am that I am" implies, not a static, logically conceived kind of identity, but the idea of some kind of infinite change. Needless to say I was quite surprised by this 'discovery'. Perhaps someone could explain this to me.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      "Unactualized" means that the actus purus was not moved from potency to act, but was actuality itself. That is, it was actual without having been actualized. There is no contradiction.

      • Loreen Lee

        Of course. Gotta learn 'how to read'. Thanks.

  • William Fuller

    I agree with everything that Fr. Barron says in the article, but I think he could have made a little stronger conclusion. That conclusion is that modern atheist fail to acknowledge that whatever theory they come up with to solve the unmoved mover problem has all the same characteristics of Religion and is in fact Religion. The acknowledgment of this fact would knock them off their imaginary high horse and allow the discussion to take place on a fair intellectual playing field.

    • Mike

      By Religion do you really mean that whatever they come up with will be metaphysical in nature necessarily?

      • William Fuller

        Mike,

        In a word Yes.

  • RosaryVictory

    Only physical matter is subject to change. God does not change because perfection cannot be improved. Change is not necessary for the omnipotence of God, almighty. Change in the metaphysical realm must be actuated by "willing" an act of the will.

  • David Nickol

    Things move. Since nothing moves itself, everything that is moved must be moved by another. If that which causes the motion is itself being moved, then it must be moved by another.

    How can we know this? Is it arrived at through inductive reasoning, or is it know through some a priori understanding of the physical world. If it is from inductive reasoning, how confident can we be that we have knowledge of a sufficient number of situations that we can draw a universal conclusion? How does the above statement look in the light of relativity and quantum mechanics?

    • "If it is from inductive reasoning, how confident can we be that we have knowledge of a sufficient number of situations that we can draw a universal conclusion?"

      Since everything that every person has ever seen move has been moved by another, I'd say we have a pretty high confidence. If nothing else, the premise is more likely true than its negation. Wouldn't you agree?

      • David Nickol

        I think it may be the case that it is a common assumption that "everything that every person has ever seen move has been moved by another," but I certainly can't say that it is true. For example, when I lose something in my apartment and later find it in an unexpected place, I assume I must have unwittingly moved it, or moved it and forgotten that I moved it. But of course this is the same kind of assumption, in many respects, that leads atheists to deny the possibility of miracles.

        I have read quite a lot of physics in my lifetime, but when I get two strong magnets and play around with them, it still seems like magic to me. My intuition is that things just don't act like magnets. But I know that intuition is wrong.

        • Logike

          Even more, "God creating ex nihilo" would not be an event with which anyone would be directly acquainted in his experience because it posits a timeless cause for a temporal effect. So creation ex nihilo is not an instance of the causal principle as we normally are acquainted with it in our experience of time, even if the principle has universal applicability to temporal states of affairs. What exactly is a non-temporal causal series anyway and why should I believe such a series is characteristic of the totality of all contingently existing things?

          • VeritatisSplendor

            Logike,

            Great questions. Your last one is a reiteration in summary form of your question regarding per accidens vs. per se causal "series," and I'll have to deal with that later.

            The question I will address very briefly the notion of creation ex nihilo.

            Unfortunately, many people are unaware that Aquinas held that creation ex nihilo is an article of divine revelation and as such cannot be proven by human reason, though neither does it contradict human reason. Rather, it is possible to coherently hold (as Aristotle did) based on reason alone that the universe is eternal.

            However, this is distinct from saying the universe is uncaused. The universe is still in need of a cause or mover, as it is material and no material thing moves itself except per partem.

            In summary fashion, there is perfect interior consistency with the notion of an eternally caused universe, rather than a creation ex nihilo, though divine revelation reveals the latter.

            This is what Aquinas argues in "On the Eternity of the World." It's a magnificent read.

          • Logike

            "The universe is still in need of a cause or mover, as it is material and no material thing moves itself except per partem."

            --I agree. So either God is a material mover himself, or God is immaterial, and his role as "cause" is not an instance of the causal principle with which we are actually acquainted in our experience of time and causality.

            "In summary fashion, there is perfect interior consistency in the notion of an eternally caused universe,"

            --Consistency is the lowest rung of demonstration. It is not even a demonstration. It is consistent to say that in some possible world there are flying telephones, but that doesn't mean they exist, or that they are even likely.

            "The universe is still in need of a cause or mover,"

            --On what ground? Though ordinary material things change by gaining and losing material parts over time, and so they require cause. But this is change with respect to the form of matter, not with respect to the persistence of matter. For the persistence of matter never changes. At no time have I witnessed matter and energy being created or destroyed (though I see ordinary objects generate and decay). Even in a temporally finite universe it is true to say there was no time matter/energy were not. So, there is no basis for thinking, even by Aquinas' own lights, that the persistence of matter/energy is contingent. Think about it. The very supposition of matter being created or destroyed is absurd; it's no different than magic, which is why I am inclined to think the persistence of matter/energy is necessary.

          • VeritatisSplendor

            "Consistency is the lowest rung of demonstration. It is not even a demonstration. It is consistent to say that in some possible world there are flying telephones, but that doesn't mean they exist, or that theyare even likely."

            I think you misunderstand my point here. I'm not endorsing the idea of an eternally caused universe. Instead, I pointed that out for two reasons:

            1. As a manner of agreeing with your statement that "'God creating ex nihilo' would not be an event with which anyone would be directly acquainted in his experience." In other words, Aquinas agreed with this.

            2. Flowing from this, the fact that the universe still requires a cause shows this to be an inadequate reason for rejecting a first mover. I certainly admit that I did not pursue this line, but simply implied it.

            Truly unfortunately, I am under time constraints, but I hope we can continue this later.

            For now, I'll give as satisfactory replies as I can.

            "either God is a material mover himself, or God is
            immaterial, and his role as 'cause' is not an instance of the causal principle with which we are actually acquainted in our experience of time and causality."

            Absolutely. The mode of God's causality is completely outside our experience, however, without trying to seem curt, that is by definition; i.e., as by experience we clearly mean what is available to the purview of the senses, and hence is limited to sensible reality, it would be impossible to experience (in that meaning) the act of immaterial agent (and that is before the fact that God's causality is of a different manner, namely, in no way from without). We could say it again by simply pointing to the names used: if we mean by experience what can be sensed, and all movers we sense are moved by another in virtue of being material, by definition an unmoved mover would not be available to the senses. Of course, experience is different from knowing—except by equivocation.

            "this is change with respect to the form of matter, not with respect to the persistence of matter. For the persistence of matter never changes."

            That seems to me to leave the question unanswered. In another line, I think it is true that, in a manner of speaking, substances on our scale of experience are more substance than electrons, positrons, quarks, gluons etc., yet even at the subatomic level matter (whether matter be considered as condensed energy or as distinct) exists under some form (and by form I do not simply mean arrangement, but some determining actuality), and has properties, and moves and is moved. That it does such is nothing but another instance of actuality in need of a cause.

            "So, there is no basis for thinking, even by Aquinas' own lights, that the persistence of matter/energy is contingent."

            Aquinas sees that contingency rests in distinction between a being's existence and essence, and part of what follows from this is potency or changeability. Matter at all levels is certainly changeable—in fact, that characterizes it. That a given quantity of matter or energy exists and at the most fundamental level is not subject to generation and corruption is not sufficient to make it necessary or non-contingent. If a thing undergoes change in any way whatsoever, it is contingent, this is why St. Thomas calls matter contingent.

            "Even in a temporally finite universe it is true to say there was no time matter/energy were not.”

            Absolutely. This also, as an eternally caused universe, is merely consistent. It is consistent because time follows on motion, and granting nothing prior to the universe, time begins when the universe begins. In short, there is no “time” prior to time existing.

          • Logike

            "the fact that the universe still requires a cause . . "

            --Why should I suppose that? There was no time matter/energy were not, for all times are times when matter/energy existed. And if there was no time when they were not, then there was no time when matter/energy ever came to be, and hence, no change, and no need for a cause.

            Even if the universe is finite in time, that does not mean it came to be. In fact, the notions "finite time" and "coming to be" are radically contrary notions. "X comes to be at time t0" means there was a time t-1 prior to t0 at which X was not. "X is finite in time" means there was NO time t-1 prior to t0 at which x was not. Thus, because there was no time prior to the first moment of time, the first moment of time is not a form of change. And since there was no change, the persistence of matter is not contingent on any cause to sustain it. Hence, there is no need for a cause. We have very good reason to suppose all matter and space-time is, therefore, necessary.

            "The mode of God's causality is completely outside our experience, however, without trying to seem curt, that is by definition"

            --So? The point is that an immaterial cause is not an instance of the principle "every material thing is caused by another material thing," and hence, there is no demonstration of the existence of an immaterial being from the material changes actually witnessed in experience. This principle, by the way, is pretty uncontroversial. You are certainly free to introduce your own principle that "every material thing is moved by SOME cause, material or immaterial"--but this is not obviously true, and very dubious indeed.

            "That it does such is nothing but another instance of actuality in need of a cause."

            --I have no issue with forms causing the various combinations and reorganizations of material bodies. A physical triangle is a triangle because it possesses the property of triangularity. By why God is needed to further explain the triangularity is a complete mystery to me. Haven't we already explained the existence of the triangle through its matter and form?

            "Matter at all levels is certainly changeable—in fact, that characterizes it"

            --Wrong. Matter only changes with respect to its form, not its existence. Forms explain formal change. No need to invoke God to explain the triangularity of triangles. Forms just ARE. And no need to invoke God to explain the persistence of matter, which is simply unchanging. Matter just IS.

          • "At no time have I witnessed matter and energy being created or destroyed (though I see ordinary objects generate and decay)."

            And what's your point? Are things only real or true if you witness them? What about the unperceivable claim, "Reality is only what I witness"?

            "Even in a temporally finite universe it is true to say there was no time matter/energy were not."

            You won't find this view among most mainstream cosmologists, almost all of whom believe in a beginning to all matter, energy, space, and time (most locating it at an initial singularity.)

            While it's true there was no moment after t=0 in which matter was not in existence, matter did have a temporal beginning at t=0. Thus it is contingent; it came into being and does not have to exist.

            "The very supposition of matter being created or destroyed is absurd; it's no different than magic"

            Note: Comparing someone's views to magic (or saying, "Think about it") is not an argument. It's simply an attempt to smear an opponent's argument. It's also a last resort, a sign that one lacks any substantial basis for his position.

            "which is why I am inclined to think the persistence of matter/energy is necessary."

            If it was necessary, it would exist eternally. But it does not, as you seem to agree. It had a beginning roughly 13.7 billion years ago.

          • Logike

            "And what's your point? Are things only real or true if you witness them?"

            --No. That matter never suddenly materializes is an inductive generalization that is empirically better-supported than any non-empirical exception you might care to fantasize in your tiny head. Please give me a single verified example of matter coming from nothing. And if you quote the Big Bang again, I'm gonna just repeat what I said before that the universe being finite in time is not the same thing as saying the universe "came to be." The notions are mutually incompatible. "Coming to be at the first moment of time" entails a time before time when time was not--which is self-contradictory. Temporal end points are not origins.

          • Logike

            "If it was necessary, it would exist eternally."

            --If by "existing eternally" you mean "existing at all times," then matter does indeed exist at all times. There is no time matter does not exist.

            "It had a beginning roughly 13.7 billion years ago."

            --No, our universe has a temporal end-point 13.7 billion years ago. This doesn't mean it "came to be," because then there would have to be a time when matter and space-time was not--which is self-contradictory.

          • Logike

            "While it's true there was no moment after t=0 in which matter
            was not in existence, matter did have a temporal beginning at t=0. Thus it is contingent;"

            --No. A thing is contingent only if there was a time when it was not. But there was no time the universe was not. So the universe is necessary.

            "it came into being"

            --Really? So at some moment in time the universe switched from non-being to being? Brilliant! It would then have to exist before it began to exist, which is absurd.

          • Logike

            "Even in a temporally finite universe it is true to say there was no time matter/energy were not." You won't find this view among most mainstream cosmologists,"

            "almost all of whom believe in a beginning to all matter, energy, space, and time (most locating it at an initial singularity.)"

            --No. Stop living in the Dark Ages. The Big Bang Model has multiple problems like the flatness problem, the horizon problem, the problem with Dark energy which is why most cosmologists have since moved beyond the Big Bang Model of the universe and have since proposed eternal inflationary models in its stead, or proposed the multiverse hypothesis in which our universe is finite in time but part of a larger multiverse with no absolute beginning. Even in the Hartle-Hawking Model where time is finite, there is no singularity. Please stop misusing science to support your religious dogma. http://www.technologyreview.com/view/419984/big-bang-abandoned-in-new-model-of-the-universe/

      • Ignatius Reilly

        Since everything that every person has ever seen move has been moved by another, I'd say we have a pretty high confidence. If nothing else, the premise is more likely true than its negation. Wouldn't you agree?

        We only see things that are moving at slow speeds with sufficient mass. I don't think we can say one thing or another about the premise. Certainly at the quantum level cause and effect seems to break down. For this reason (among a few others), the cosmological argument is not a demonstration of a being of pure actuality.

        • "We only see things that are moving at slow speeds with sufficient mass."

          With our bare eyes, yes. But I wasn't limiting our vision. Everything we have seen and analyzed, at the quantum, micro, and macro levels, has been moved (i.e., changed) by something else.

          "I don't think we can say one thing or another about the premise."

          Again, 100% of the evidence we have supports the premise, and there are zero counter-examples. That should be enough, even for skeptics like yourself, to affirm the premise as more plausible than it's negation--that is, unless you have a priori reasons to reject the premise.

          "Certainly at the quantum level cause and effect seems to break down."

          It's true that cause and effect operate differently at the quantum level than on a macro scale, but they still exist. Cause and effect doesn't break completely. There are no causeless quantum events.

          "For this reason (among a few others), the cosmological argument is not a demonstration of a being of pure actuality."

          Perhaps you have other objections to the Aquinas's first cosmological argument, but for the reasons above, this attempt fails.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Again, 100% of the evidence we have supports the premise, and there are zero counter-examples.

            In early big bang nucleosynthesis, what causes elements to form? Or what composes the elements and is it outside the composite parts?

            That should be enough, even for skeptics like yourself, to affirm the premise as more plausible than it's negation--that is, unless you have a priori reasons to reject the premise.

            I would say that I have empirical reasons to reject the catholic faith, but I don't care one way or another about a deistic god or a quantum field.

          • ccmnxc

            "In early big bang nucleosynthesis, what causes elements to form? Or what composes the elements and is it outside the composite parts?"

            Not that I am much of an expert on the Big Bang, but:
            a. How does our lack of knowing the cause of something entail a lack of one? It seems to be a conflation of epistemological uncertainty with some ontological privation.
            b. Do we know enough about the Big Bang and what immediately followed it to have any confidence that we will not find a cause? For example, why can the laws of nature (strong force, gravitational force, or some unified force) be appealed to?
            c. What do you mean by "outside the composite parts"? It's not like there was someone literally pushing the nuclei of different elements together in some crude fusion, but one might say that the constituents were governed by external laws and came together due to them.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            a. How does our lack of knowing the cause of something entail a lack of one? It seems to be a conflation of epistemological uncertainty with some ontological privation.

            You must demonstrate that everything has a cause. At the quantum level this may not be the case.

            Do we know enough about the Big Bang and what immediately followed it to have any confidence that we will not find a cause? For example, why can the laws of nature (strong force, gravitational force, or some unified force) be appealed to?

            We may, and I hope we do, but that does not change the fact that the type of causality that is necessary of the cosmological argument to hold may not exist at the quantum level or in the early stages of the universe.

            What do you mean by "outside the composite parts"? It's not like there was someone literally pushing the nuclei of different elements together in some crude fusion, but one might say that the constituents were governed by external laws and came together due to them.

            Basically, as the universe cools electrons, protons, and neutrons are able to bond to form elements. Nothing outside of the "proton-neutron-electron system" composed the elements. They moved themselves.

          • ccmnxc

            ***You must demonstrate that everything has a cause. At the quantum level this may not be the case.***

            First of all, perhaps it was more of a slip, but there is no premise that says everything must have a cause. It says that everything that is changing is caused to change by something with the ability to change it. Second, we have seen, a posteriori, countless examples of caused change and none that we can confirm are causeless change. So it is entirely responsible and more than plausible to hold that all change occurs to due its being caused. I'll admit, this adds an empirical angle to the premise, but then again, you cannot reject it without bringing the whole scientific enterprise unless you provide sufficient reason or counter-example for the premise. I've never been all that impressed with the supposed possibility that causality is not necessary in some instances at the quantum level for a couple reasons:
            a. QM being primarily modeled by mathematical equations, such equations cannot be plausibly said to provide an exhaustive description of the given reality (especially after you introduce observers as per the Copenhagen interpretation). Thus, lack of reference to cause should not give us significant reason to say there is none. For example, I could just as easily say "Well, since by your admission we have exhausted every possible natural cause, there must be a supernatural one." It seems more plausible to me that there is a supernatural cause for QM events than none.
            b. I don't see what makes things moving incredibly fast or things that are incredibly small all of a sudden suspect in terms of carrying applicability to causality. Why should I worry that such events are significantly different than one slow, macro-sized events I always observe.

            c. How come uncaused events only occur on the quantum level? What rules are attached to a-causality that make in only a worry at the micro-level?

            So in short, I would say that the premise is not an argued-from-first-principles one that couldn't possibly be untrue, but we have significant reason to believe it is, and, as far as I have seen no sufficient reason to doubt it aside from broad appeals to possibility.

            ***We may, and I hope we do, but that does not change the fact that the type of causality that is necessary of the cosmological argument to hold may not exist at the quantum level or in the early stages of the universe.

            ***

            And why should we think this aside from base ignorance?

            ***Basically, as the universe cools electrons, protons, and neutrons are able to bond to form elements. Nothing outside of the "proton-neutron-electron system" composed the elements. They moved themselves.

            ***
            So things such as the strong force and the like had absolutely nothing to do with it? How were scientists able to essentially control for potentially unknown causes?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            First of all, perhaps it was more of a slip, but there is no premise
            that says everything must have a cause. It says that everything that is
            changing is caused to change by something with the ability to change it.

            Quantum Mechanics also calls that into question. You must also deal with the change in position objection that has been brought up in this thread.

            Second, we have seen, a posteriori, countless examples of caused change
            and none that we can confirm are causeless change. So it is entirely
            responsible and more than plausible to hold that all change occurs to
            due its being caused.

            Is it possible to confirm causeless change? Couldn't you always posit that we just don't know the cause. Radioactive decay, for example. Our observations are generally limited to things moving slow with sufficient mass. The indeterminacy of quantum mechanics causes problems for cause and effect.

            QM being primarily modeled by mathematical equations, such equations
            cannot be plausibly said to provide an exhaustive description of the
            given reality (especially after you introduce observers as per the
            Copenhagen interpretation). Thus, lack of reference to cause should not
            give us significant reason to say there is none.

            Before I delve into this, what do you consider the definition of cause and effect? How do we know if something is causal of another? Depending on how you define causality there may be reason to reject it at the quantum level.

            I don't see what makes things moving incredibly fast or things that are
            incredibly small all of a sudden suspect in terms of carrying
            applicability to causality. Why should I worry that such events are
            significantly different than one slow, macro-sized events I always
            observe.

            Because modern physics is different from Newtonian physics in many fundamental ways. Therefore we should be wary of assuming that things that are true in the Newtonian world are true in the fast moving or small mass worlds.

            How come uncaused events only occur on the quantum level? What rules
            are attached to a-causality that make in only a worry at the
            micro-level?

            It depends how you define causality. If event A causes event B, will event A always cause event B? Can event B be prior to event A in time?

            So in short, I would say that the premise is not an
            argued-from-first-principles one that couldn't possibly be untrue, but
            we have significant reason to believe it is, and, as far as I have seen
            no sufficient reason to doubt it aside from broad appeals to
            possibility.

            I was just told by another poster that causality is a priori.

            And why should we think this aside from base ignorance?

            Indeterminacy for one. The effect observers have on what is observed. And the fact that the rules are very different at the quantum level.

            So things such as the strong force and the like had absolutely nothing
            to do with it? How were scientists able to essentially control for
            potentially unknown causes?

            The strong force is what holds a proton together, and then holds a Nucleus together. It is part of the whole. The strong force is not outside of the "proton-electron-nuetron" system.

          • ccmnxc

            “Quantum Mechanics also calls that into question. You must also deal with the change in position objection that has been brought up in this thread.”

            Alright, but let’s at least get the premise being addressed properly framed.

            “Is it possible to confirm causeless change? Couldn't you always posit that we just don't know the cause.”

            I’d tentatively say yes. Though it would tend follow that those who say (as opposed to worry or even suspect) that QM violates the Principle of Causality ought to make their claim a bit less strong.

            “Radioactive decay, for example.”

            As YOS has pointed out before, if radioactive decay was a-causal, we would not be able to reproduce it in nuclear piles.

            “Our observations are generally limited to things moving slow with sufficient mass. The indeterminacy of quantum mechanics causes problems for cause and effect.”

            See, I’m not entirely sure how indeterminism is so fatal. It might cause problems for strong rationalist versions of the PSR and the like, but could you spell out in more detail why indeterminism is problematic for causality?

            “Before I delve into this, what do you consider the definition of cause and effect?”

            My definition is this: causality is the act of reducing a potentiality in an object or substance to an actuality. Thus a rubber ball is potentially melted and gooey, and a little time being bombarded by microwaves (the efficient cause) would turn that potentiality into an actuality.

            “How do we know if something is causal of another?”

            Depends, it is usually observation or we can use philosophy in very discrete instances like the first way, where we require an unmoved mover given a string of instrumental (per se) causality. Mostly it is observation, though.

            “Depending on how you define causality there may be reason to reject it at the quantum level.”

            Are there any definitions of causality that you think are immune to the QM objection?

            “Because modern physics is different from Newtonian physics in many fundamental ways. Therefore we should be wary of assuming that things that are true in the Newtonian world are true in the fast moving or small mass worlds.”

            So far as I understand, we don’t have a Newtonian world and quantum world so much as we have a quantum world and a macro-world that supervenes upon the quantum yet conveniently can be modelled to a fairly accurate degree with Newtonian Mechanics. But that aside, while I realize there are major differences, what would you consider to be the relevant differences that affect causality? Or, in other words, is there any reason whatsoever (and if so, what) to think that these differences warrant any meaningful skepticism of the Principle of Causality?

            “It depends how you define causality. If event
            A causes event B, will event A always cause event B?”

            Depends. I believe that if event A causes event B, event A will always cause B unless there are mitigating factors. Such a cause can be frustrated, but I think that events tend toward some end and will achieve it if unimpeded.

            “Can event B be prior to event A in time?”

            No. Event B is only in potentiality and thus doesn’t exist prior to event A (this is assuming we are not considering A and B to be simultaneous). If one were to argue that given a certain model of QM, event B precedes event A, I would consider that a successful reductio ad absurdum of that particular QM model.

            “I was just told by another poster that causality is a priori.”

            I was unclear and I apologize. My argument in particular tends to be more a posteriori. I have come across a priori arguments for the principle of causality, but I do not know them off the top of my head and thus didn’t use them.

            “Indeterminacy for one.”

            I’ll wait for more explanation on that one, since at present, at least, I don’t hold indeterminism to be incompatible w/ causality.

            “The effect observers have on what is observed.”

            Assuming Copenhagen, but I’ll leave that aside for now, since I am not competent enough to debate the merits of particular models of QM. Still, how do effects observers have do anything to show that QM doesn’t apply at the quantum level? If a-causality entered the picture, what connection could one then make between the quantum event and the observer.

            “And the fact that the rules are very different at the quantum level.”

            Addressed above.

            “The strong force is what holds a proton together, and then holds a Nucleus together. It is part of the whole. The strong force is not outside of the "proton-electron-nuetron" system.”

            Alright, so the system as a whole didn’t cause it but component(s) of it did. This I am okay with since I also hold that living beings can change themselves using their parts (a cat using its legs to move itself, for example).
            As a last point, there seems to be an epistemological problem with denying the principle of causality. If we are skeptical about causality, we cannot be assured of any causal connection between the outside world and our perceptive and cognitive faculties and thus being reliable in terms of their correspondence to reality. And we cannot appeal to these faculties probably being correct since any objective probability first must appeal to the natural tendencies of things, which doesn't exist if the principle of causality does not apply.
            After this all, I think I will let you have the last word lest I waste away hours writing up these responses.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            It has been 6 years or so since I last seriously thought about quantum mechanics, so what I am saying here is what I hazily remember. I could be wrong and causality could work in the quantum universe.

            According to Bell's Theorem, anything that completes quantum mechanics will give us different predictions then quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics gives us very good and empirically verified predictions. All quantum mechanics gives us about a system is its wave function, which gives us probabilities on what we would observe if we made an observation. Any variable that we could add that would give us causality would then cause the predictions to differ from quantum mechanics.

            I could be wrong about the above - if there is a physicist present, I would appreciate a correction.

            Finally, we do know that if A is true in classical physics that does not imply that A is true in modern physics. In order to demonstrate causality, we would have to do it within the framework of modern physics, and leave classical observations out of the discussion.

          • Logike

            "100% of the evidence we have supports the premise, and there are zero counter-examples."

            --This is false because of the Conservation of Momentum. An object in motion can change its location without an external mover. Hence, not all change has an external mover, and the argument from motion is unsound.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Induction as understood today is a method of natural science, and therefore subject to falsification. We know that nothing can move itself as a whole because whatever is being moved is in potency with respect to X while movers must be in act with respect to X, and nothing can be in potency and in act in the same respect at the same time. See the illustrative example cited about learning French. The student is in motion with respect to actualizing his potential to speak French. But the teacher who is moving him must already actually speak French.

      • David Nickol

        We know that nothing can move itself as a whole because whatever is being moved is in potency with respect to X while movers must be in act with respect to X, and nothing can be in potency and in act in the same respect at the same time.

        Suddenly it's all so clear! :P

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          I suppose that's why the example of learning French is useful. The student, who is the one being moved, is in potency to speaking French. He cannot actually speak French because then he would not be learning it. Similarly, the mover, or teacher, must actually know French because otherwise she could not be the teacher. A person cannot simultaneously and in the same manner be learning French and already know French.

          • mriehm

            Yes, they can be. In fact, every French speaker in the world is in that state, all the time. I am a French speaker (albeit a bad one). I'm a pretty good English speaker. But rarely a week goes by where I don't learn a wee bit more English (and forget a tad of French;).

            The analogy is poor.

          • VeritatisSplendor

            mreihm,

            What French you know, you know. That's the meaning of the analogy: even if you know French imperfectly, and hence in one respect can be said to be "learning French," to the extent that you do know it, you are not learning it. Hence, one can be in a state of learning with regard to the French one is yet to learn, but not in regard to the French one has learned.

            The difficulty of the analogy arises from the fact few if any are in a state of rest ("know" completely) regarding their knowledge of a language, native or otherwise.

            Here's another case:

            One cannot both be looking for the answer to a math problem and know the answer to that math problem at the same time and without equivocation.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            You have simply reaffirmed the fact that no material body is in a state of pure actuality, but is always a compound of potency and act. Naturally, there is always more to learn, although at some point one may say sufficient fluency has been actualized to accomplish one's ends. What constitutes an end state depends on why one is learning French: to satisfy a graduation requirement is one thing, to translate 18th century French literature is another. A third learner may intend to visit France and needs to know how to check into a hotel or order a meal. Another plans to live in France as an ex-pat and needs greater fluency. So what constitutes actuality depends on the final cause, or "telos."

            But generically that simply means that one remains in potency to some particular -- and cannot be in act with respect to that same particular.

      • mriehm

        I believe that "potency" is similar to potential, so that potential energy (e.g. that of a block sitting on top of a ladder) is a kind of potency. Perhaps X is the floor. And if the block falls, it is "in act", or in action or motion, with respect to the floor.

        But when the block is halfway down, it is both in potency and in act.

        And "to speak French" is of course not a black-and-white, binary state of affairs. I didn't know French, but then today I had my final lesson and now I speak French. I mean, c'mon.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          As the block falls, it is in motion, not in act. It is not yet actually at its ground state. Halfway down, it is actually halfway down, but it is potentially all the way down. That is, it is not in potency and in the same respect and at the same time.

          And of course "to speak French" is also a continuous process. At the end of the final lesson your potential to speak French will have been actualized to the extent of the material covered and your own participation in the motion. To shift to Latin for a moment, in the first week one typically learns the first declension of nouns. Once the potential to decline this class of nouns has been learned, you can actually do it and are no longer in potency in that respect. You are still in potency with respect to, say, the second declension, the conjugation of verbs, the use of the supine, and the passive voice, etc.

          Before you have learned the first declension, you are in potency, not in act, with respect to it. Afterward, you are in act, and cannot be in potency. The ancient Greeks were quite aware of the problems of the continuum. There was all that hullabaloo over Parmenides and the paradoxes of Zeno, after all.

  • David Nickol

    How does an "unmoved mover," perfectly simple, outside of time, and utterly changeless, set something in motion? He can't give it a shove.

    • Mike

      What if the unmoved mover is just some perfectly natural. completely none god like thing some force or machine not god or anything having to do with a personality, does that make it easier to see the point being made?

      • David Nickol

        No, the claim being made is that the unmoved mover is God, and God is perfect, perfectly simple, outside of time, and utterly unable to change. So my question is how can such a being set something into motion.

        • Mike

          How as in technically how? Would an analogy work or is direct experiment evidence only allowed?

          • David Nickol

            It seems to me that the question can't be answered without assuming something like time for the "unmoved mover" to act in. I think the mental image we have is of some being in a "time outside of time" deciding to create the universe (and time). But it does not seem possible to me for the "God of philosophy" to actually do anything. Deciding to create the universe, and creating the universe both seem like actions to me, with a time before deciding and a time between deciding and creating.

          • Mike

            Ok thx.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            "But it does not seem possible to me for the "God of philosophy" to actually do anything. Deciding to create the universe, and creating the universe both seem like actions to me, with a time before deciding and a time between deciding and creating."

            The effects of the "God of philosophy" do not effect a change in him. Moreover, his decisions and actions do not require time, since time is one of the realities which he has brought about. Still, we have a difficult time thinking otherwise.

            STA put it this way: "... From these considerations it is clear, also, that it is not prejudicial to God’s simplicity if many relations are predicated of Him, although they do not signify His essence; because those relations are consequent upon our way of understanding. For nothing prevents our intellect from understanding many things, and being referred in many ways to that which is in itself simple, so as to consider that simple reality under a manifold relationship. And the more simple a thing, the greater is its power, and of so many more things is it the principle, so that it is understood as related in so many more ways. Thus, a point is the principle of more things than a line is, and a line than a surface. Therefore, the very fact that many things are predicated of God in a relative manner bears witness to His supreme simplicity."

            http://www.american-buddha.com/cult.contragentiles2.htm

            See chapters 11 thur 14. (the link is to SCG book 2)

  • "If that which causes the motion is itself being moved, then it must be moved by another. This process cannot go on to infinity." The following analogy helped me a lot...

    You are at a deli counter to buy some meat and you are told to first take a number. You are then told that you must take a number in order to take a number, and this process of taking numbers to take the next will continue to infinity. You will realize that you will NEVER reach the counter and you will NEVER get the meat. You then notice that others have meat in their cart from the same deli counter. You conclude that the process of taking numbers must have ended for them at some point. It could not have logically continued to infinity as is clearly evident by the meat existing in the cart.

  • Mary Beth Miranda

    Max Planck, formulator of Quantum Physics, a founder of quantum mechanics, 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics, universally recognized as the father of modern physics has this to say:

    "All matter arises and persists only due to a force that causes the atomic particles to vibrate, holding them together in the tiniest of solar systems, the atom.

    Yet in the whole of the universe there is no force that is either intelligent or eternal, and we must therefore assume that behind this force there is a conscious, intelligent Mind or Spirit. This is the very origin of all matter.” (Planck, as cited in Eggenstein 1984, Part I; see “Materialistic Science on the Wrong Track”).

    • David Nickol

      universally recognized as the father of modern physics

      Not that it makes any difference, but when you google "father of modern physics," the names that come up most frequently are Galileo, Einstein, and Newton. In the first few pages of hits, Planck was mentioned once, as was James Clerk Maxwell.

      According to Wikipedia:

      Later in life, Planck's views on God were that of a deist. For example, six months before his death a rumour started that Planck had converted to Catholicism, but when questioned what had brought him to make this step, he declared that, although he had always been deeply religious, he did not believe "in a personal God, let alone a Christian God."

      But this is all irrelevant to the argument from motion.

    • Mike

      Check out Godel as well who believed that some kind of afterlife could be logically deduced.

  • No I do not see why Aquinas equated this unmoved mover to the god of Christianity. The god described in the old and New Testament has none of these qualities. It appears to be a being, with a name, several names in fact. It seems to manifest in the physical worlds undergo change, feel pain, regret flooding the world. And so on.

    • "The god described in the old and New Testament has none of these qualities."

      He actually has all of these qualities. He's a transcendent, necessarily-existing Unmoved Mover.

      • I don't agree. From my reading of the OT the ark of the covenant literally contained God for example. But you are entitled to your subjective opinion too.

        • Garbanzo Bean

          "From my reading of the OT the ark of the covenant literally contained God for example."
          Are you referring to God speaking to Moses from between the two cherubim on the ark? I dont think this implies the ark "contained" God, any more than the burning bush did. Or are you thinking of something else?

  • Ultimately this argument is the argument from causation again isn't it?

    Again there are two metaphysical possibilities either a string of infinite causes, which is logically coherent, but not observed or observable. Or a finite series of causes and some uncaused cause, which is again logically coherent, but unobserved and unobservable. I can simply think of no reason to accept either that there is some "thing" which can cause everything but itself requires not cause any more than I can accept an infinite regress.

    But even if we could, it gives us no basis to accept that this uncaused unchanging non-being is the character described by the Bible.

    • Mike

      But that's 2000 years of christian history...i mean reject it if you want but that's been the claim for 2000 years... and NO other religion claims this except the 3 monotheistic ones.

      • Ignatius Reilly

        Hinduism

        • Mike

          Shiva and Ganesh!

      • Hinduism has thousands of years more, Bhuddism is at least as old as Islam. Paganism and animism also date back further.

        But I think your comment is really irrelevant to mine.

        • Mike

          my point is that that's been the consistent claim of christianity ie monotheism that there's only 1 god not many ie created gods just 1 eternal uncreated god but anyway all the best, take care.

  • Glenn54321

    "This process cannot go on to infinity."

    Why not? There are mathematically sound models of an eternal universe.

    "Therefore, there must exist a first unmoved mover"

    Only if the first premise holds.

    "which all people call God."

    Why? Even if the first two premises hold, all that can be established is that something started a process. Nothing more. We could call it "chocolate pudding" and it would have the same weight.

    Aquinas, while striking in his writings, is making a rather obvious argument from ignorance. This is a fallacy but given the time when this was written I suppose it can be forgiven. We, on the other hand, know better now.

    I wonder if the reason people don't realize this is because they cannot shake their Aristotelian lens of reality. In other words, when one ascribes meaning and purpose to all actions which have no meaning and purpose, such an argument makes more sense. It's still a fallacy, but it's more tempting.

    • Vincent Herzog

      Glenn54321, the first premise is that things change. I think that will hold. you must mean that the conclusion will only follow if the regress is impossible. I'll leave someone else to defend the impossibility of the regress. However, please consider, hypothetically, the impossibility of the regress: it would follow logically (from the excluded middle) that there must indeed be an unmoved mover for any given chain of causes of change. Is it really the case that all that is needed is something to start a process? Clearly not. It is something which starts, but is itself not changed. That is, it is something which does not move from a state of potentiality to actuality. Chocolate pudding would, were it to start a universe, need to be changed. If it does indeed have the potential to start a universe, that potential would need to be brought to actuality by something other than the pudding itself (and so on for any other finite potential universe-starter). Further, in starting the universe, the pudding would be changed (what a messy universe!). Consider the sort of thing that could possibly be an unmoved mover, and you will see why Aquinas safely concludes only God could be it. It would need to be entirely actualized (i.e., perfect).

      • Glenn54321

        If I am required to shelve an entirely category of plausible theses for the nature of the universe in order for the original argument to be plausible, then the original argument is void. Or, at best, reduced to conjecture.

        That being said, even if one is to assume that the universe is not eternal, then there is a conflation around the concept and origin of time itself. Time, being a dimension interrelated to the others, also may have had a beginning... there may have been a first moment of time. We also need to consider that our own experiential limitations may prevent us from comprehending what could have caused the reality we're in -- or if it even had a cause.

        Considering the myriad possibilities here down both of these avenues, it is not logically sound to conclude that God poofed the universe into existence just because we notice that marble B moves only after marble A runs into it.

        • Vincent Herzog

          Glenn54321, it is entirely rational to consider hypotheses. I'm not asking you to shelve anything, but merely to consider the logical consequences of the impossibility of a regress, should that impossibility be proved. The rest of what you said is an irrelevant appeal to ignorance. The likelihood that time had a beginning together with space in no way prevents our thinking clearly about what the reality of change entails regarding the origin of the universe, it would only require that the unmoved mover not be bound by time--yet another reason only God can be the unmoved mover.

          • Glenn54321

            I don't see how the rest of what I wrote is irrelevant. I am granting you your position and then I elaborated on why even then it doesn't matter.

            God is a competing hypothesis among many for the origin of everything. This argument is kind of like the Kalam Cosmological Argument and commits a similar category error... we cannot apply what we see and experience within the universe to things which may be outside of the universe. We have no data. We have no observations. So, to simply say "well, we notice x-y-z in our universe, therefore God" is simply unjustified.

            No one can prove this case (as the very existence of this article attests to). I am simply pointing out that we have very good reasons to say "maybe, but we don't know."

          • Vincent Herzog

            What you said before is irrelevant because it is a blanket, unspecified appeal to ignorance.

            Yes, this argument is kind of like the Kalam Argument, but it is not the Kalam argument.

            Moving on, consider your proposed principle: "we cannot apply what we see and experience within the universe to things which may be outside of the universe." Whatever that may mean, and setting asides questions of your ability to defend that principle, it would not prohibit either our deducing or inferring, from what is in the universe, the existence and even the attributes of what is not confined to the universe. Given your reference to category errors, maybe you mean that we cannot say of anything which is not a spacio-temporal reality anything we say of things which are spacio-temporal realities. That's an ambitious principle to put forward, but your caution has some grounding. In any case, we DO have data, namely, the observable facts. But there's no reason to worry: to reason from observable facts is not equivalent to applying the properties of the observable to that which is not observable; so, we're safe.

          • Glenn54321

            I am not committing an appeal to ignorance fallacy. I am glad you seem to have realized this in the later part of your reply; caution is what I am suggesting. Maybe Aquinas got it right. Maybe he didn't. All I am saying is that the data coming is says it's not as simple as his proofs suggest (even as complex as they are) and new avenues have been opened up to us. This gives us ample ground to not call them "proofs" any more. The physics of today simply outpace the logic put forth.

          • Vincent Herzog

            I don't know how to respond to mere hand waving at vagaries like "the data," "new avenues," "the physics of today," or "the logic," but I'll address your final claim. If physics, or any empirical science, outpaces logic, how will we safely reach the end of any attempted proof they offer? How will we logically conclude anything from evidence if we cannot trust logic or search for causes (a metaphysical concept if there ever was one)? Empirical research cannot be ventured without logic and metaphysics.

          • Glenn54321

            Then go educate yourself. There is no shortage of material in any format you prefer on the current cosmological understandings. I can't help you from a Disqus comment box.

          • "So, to simply say "well, we notice x-y-z in our universe, therefore God" is simply unjustified."

            Glenn, nobody has said that, either in the original article or in this comment box. You've offered a crude and unfair caricature of any cosmological argument proffered by classical theists. At best it reveals your own ignorance, at worst it's an intentional mischaracterization.

            Per our commenting policy, please represent the opposing view fairly and accurately before commenting. Consider this a warning.

          • Glenn54321

            I think my observations are accurate. To call me either ignorant or dishonest based on what I have written would be to stand in violation of your own policy.

            The "first cause" or "prime mover" argument, offered as a proof of the existence of God, is a logical and nuanced extension of observations of nature (what I am calling, sequentially, 'x-y-z'). I am pointing out, with all charity, is that there are other things in nature we have now observed which make this less of a proof and more of a guess.

            If you feel the need to ban me or remove my comments over this, I suppose you have the power to do so. It would be an abuse, but it is within your power.

          • Logike

            "You've offered a crude and unfair caricature of any cosmological argument proffered by classical theists. At best it reveals your own ignorance"

            --Kind of like your crude and caricatured dealings with current cosmology? No one takes the singularity seriously anymore but for some reason you think cosmologists do. All of the following theories have since superseded the Big Bang Model:

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

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

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

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

            The Big Bang Model has multiple problems like the flatness problem, the horizon problem, magnetic monopoles problem, and the problem with Dark energy.

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

            The existence of these pressing problems is why most cosmologists have since moved beyond the Big Bang Model and proposed eternal inflationary models in its stead, or proposed the multiverse hypothesis in which our universe is finite in time but part of a larger multiverse with no absolute beginning. Even in the Hartle-Hawking Model where time is finite, there is no singularity. Please stop misusing science to support your religious dogma. At best it reveals your own ignorance, at worst it's an intentional mischaracterization.

          • Roman

            You obviously have a superficial understanding of this subject at best...."most cosmologists have since moved beyond the Big Bang Model"???. You don't even understand what cosmologists really believe or the relationship between the big bang model and the multiverse hypothesis. I can tell you don't have a science background because you don't even understand the difference between a proven theory, e.g., the Big Bang model versus a hypothetical or speculative idea such as the multiverse theory. In fact the Big Bang Theory is compatible with some versions of multiverse theory. One of the problems with the multiverse theory is that there is no way to prove it empirically. Whereas there is a lot of empirical evidence supporting the Big Bang Theory. And BTW, please don't pull out of the closet that garbage model called the Hartle-Hawking Model. Stephen Hawking developed that model in 1983 in a desperate attempt to avoid a singularity. Hawking used the concept of imaginary time in the model - nothing more than a fudge factor. Remove the imaginary time and his model defaults back to predicting a singularity. Why does he fear a singularity? Well, lets use his very own words to explain why. During his 70th birthday party in early 2012, Stephen Hawking said the following "A point of creation would be a place where science broke down. One would have to appeal to religion and the hand of God" (see January 2012 issue of New Scientist). Catholics are comfortable with whatever cosmological theory turns out to be true. Seems to me, its the atheists who have far more vested in the outcome.

          • Logike

            "Stephen Hawking said the following "A point of creation would be a place
            where science broke down. One would have to appeal to religion and the
            hand of God"

            --Well, I'm pretty sure Hawking was speaking with disdain, not favor, toward magical "rabbit-from-a-hat" type answers. "Creation ex-nihilo" is not even logically or metaphysically (much less scientifically) coherent on a finite view of time. Let's analyze what that could possibly mean by "the universe began to exist" and "God created the universe at the first moment of time," shall we?

            "The universe began to exist"

            (A) "At time t1when the universe existed, there was a time t0, prior to time t1 when the universe did not exist."
            --But there was no time when the universe did not exist (Einstein). So (A) is false

            "God created the universe at time t"

            (B) "At the first moment of time, a timeless being created the universe from nothing."
            --But creation at the first moment of time implies this timeless being would be inside, not outside, time--a logical contradiction.

            (C) "God created the universe outside time"
            --But then the universe, and time itself, would be outside time--another logical contradiction.

            At lest the mathematics and physics of the Hartle-Hawking model is coherent. But not even the logic of "creation ex nihilo "of a temporal finite universe is coherent. I challenge you to pony up an analysis that even makes sense.

          • Roman

            I challenge you to pony up an analysis that even makes sense

            How about you go first because this rambling string of misunderstandings, misinformation, and poor logic in your comments don't pass for anything I could describe as making sense. Let's start with this...

            But there was no time when the universe did not exist (Einstein). So (A) is false

            Seriously...this is your idea of proof? Einstein said so, so it must be true? Maybe you didn't get the memo, but he's been dead since 1955. We've learned a lot about the Universe since then. And the fact is that Einstein embraced the Big Bang Model, calling it "the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of the universe I have ever heard".

            (B) "At time t1, there was no time prior to t1 at which the universe was not, but the universe both was an was not at time t1."--but (B) is a logical contradiction

            First of all, this sentence makes absolutely no sense. I don't know where you pulled this from but it doesn't represent anything claimed by Catholic or classical philosophy, or science. In fact I have no idea where you got C), D), or E) from since they also don't represent Catholic or classical philosophy or science. You appear to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be "outside" time, or transcendent, or eternal and also can't seem to grasp how a transcendent eternal being can interact with a finite world. A being (more accurately, being itself) that exists outside of time does not experience past or future time. This being experiences everything IN THE PRESENT. That obviously follows from the attributes of transcendent and eternal. So, what appears to us as past, present, and future, is experienced all at once, by a being that is timeless, or "outside time". Since this being experiences everything in the present, there is no necessity for the being to change as it interacts with our finite universe. A couple more specific points now on your comments

            "God created the universe at time t"

            There is no time t for a timeless being.

            God created the universe outside time

            NO, God is outside of time - not "God created the universe outside time".

            God create the universe at the same time the universe began to exist.

            This is simply a nonsensical statement with a built in redundancy. It proves nothing other than the fact that you do not know how to construct a valid proof.

            Well, I'm pretty sure Hawking was speaking with disdain,

            No...more like fear

            "Creation ex-nihilo" is not even logically or metaphysically (much less scientifically) coherent

            Now you really stuck your foot in your mouth. Should have done more homework on this one. The context for Hawkings statement is that cosmologist Alexander Valenkin presented the Borde-Valenkin-Guth (BVG) theorem at Hawking's 70th birthday party which in short provides proof that any universe which has, on average, a rate of expansion greater than zero must have a finite beginning. That would include all models based on eternal inflation, e.g., the multiverse theory, or those based on a cyclical universe or those proposing an eternal static state, eg., the cosmic egg. Creation ex-nihilo is looking pretty good right now.

          • Logike

            "Whereas there is a lot of empirical evidence supporting the Big Bang Theory."

            --Evidence for a theory doesn't mean crap if your theory can be shown to be false for other reasons. For example, (1) contrary to what the Big Bang Model predicts, the universe is very isotropic and homogeneous. The microwave background radiation of the universe is almost the same everywhere in
            the sky. But the BB model predicts the temperature to vary widely in different parts of the sky. (2) Also, the BB Model predicts the universe to have a positive or negative curvature, and as the universe grows with time, ultimately leading to a "Big Crunch" or even heat death after several billion years. But this hasn't happened because the universe is very flat instead. The natural timescale to expect the universe on the
            BB Model to depart from flatness is around Planck time 10−43 seconds. So the fact that the universe has not reached a "Big Crunch" or expired in heat death after several billion is something the BB Model cannot explain.

            "One of the problems with the multiverse theory is
            that there is no way to prove it empirically."

            --Tests performed in 2012 involving the "Higgs Boson" is shedding evidence on this very idea: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-physics-complications-lend-support-to-multiverse-hypothesis/

          • Roman

            There you go again.....Why do you insist on pretending that you actually understand science? Surfing the Internet until you find something that supports your worldview doesn't qualify you as some authority on science.

            Here's the problem with your comment. Its 30 years out-of-date. The three apparent difficulties with the BIg Bang Theory you cited were resolved by Inflationary Theory which was first proposed in the 1980's. Inflationary cosmology represents a refinement of the Big Bang Theory. Sorry to disappoint you, but Big Bang is not going away - too much empirical evidence verifying the theory. It may, however, be absorbed eventually into some grand theory of the universe if it turns out that what we know today as our universe is really part of a larger world.

            --Tests performed in 2012 involving the "Higgs Boson" is shedding evidence on this very idea

            The Higgs Boson particle was predicted more than 50 years ago by the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Experiments conducted using the Hadron Collider, simply confirm its existence. This has little to do, if anything, with empirical data for the multiverse theory. In order to obtain empirical data proving that the multiverse theory is true, we would have to be able to observe, or measure, or detect something directly from another domain in the universe. But by definition (i.e., according to multiverse theory), one domain has no contact with another, so that empirical proof is impossible to obtain. Get it?

          • Logike

            "Inflationary cosmology represents a refinement of the Big Bang Theory. Sorry to disappoint you, but Big Bang is not going away - too much empirical evidence verifying the theory"

            --I am perfectly aware of inflation models. But you are the one out of date because the Big Bang Model rests on classical physics, which has since found itself in huge competition with Quantum Mechanics. The particles of the universe are a quantum system, and so the entire universe can be conceived accordingly. QM throws a monkey wrench into your precious "origin" or "singularity" of the BB Model with this little thing called "quantum tunneling." It's theoretically possible our universe is the result of a "prior" universe contracting to a point and a particle passing through a barrier to produce our own. Such a collapse is not obviously caused either. I am not interested in discussing the Copenhagen vs. Bohm interpretations of QM here, but it is fair to say QM throws ordinary causation observed to hold for macro-sized objects into question. The point to recognize is that Big Bang Model or not, theists have no argument without the singularity that is said to have a "cause."

            "The Higgs Boson particle was predicted more than 50 years ago by the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Experiments conducted using the Hadron Collider, simply confirm its existence."

            --And yielding evidence for the multiverse hypothesis.

            "But by definition (i.e., according to multiverse theory), one domain has no contact with another, so that empirical proof is impossible to obtain."

            --Proof is not the same thing as evidence for a theory, which can be found as a result of performing various experiments to see whether the data is consistent with current mathematical assumptions, and whether it has any repercussions for theoretical simplicity and explanatory scope.

          • Roman

            A little humbleness on your part would go a long way. Instead you double-down and continue to put on this pretense that you understand the science of physics and cosmology. I have a doctorate in chemical engineering. You are not going to BS me when it comes to physics and chemistry.....but I'll go one more round with your game before moving on.

            -I am perfectly aware of inflation models.

            If you had really been aware of inflationary theory, you would have never brought up the apparent difficulties with Big Bang theory that have been resolved by inflation.

            Big Bang Model rests on classical physics, which has since found itself in huge competition with Quantum Mechanics

            The Big Bang Model is an application of Einstein's theory of general relativity to cosmology. It is backed up by a lot of empirical data, such as the observed red shift of galaxies, and the detection of background radiation. Scientists are exploring ways of reconciling the theory of relativity with quantum mechanics, not eliminating it.

            QM throws a monkey wrench into your precious "origin" or "singularity" of the BB Model with this little thing called "quantum tunneling.

            Quantum tunneling is a speculative idea in cosmology and doesn't eliminate the reality of a singularity. It just offers a theory on how the universe may have jump-started from a singularity. Also, I would appreciate if you would stop misrepresenting my views on the singularity. As I've said before, the veracity of Christianity is not contingent on Big Bang Cosmology. The universe requires an explanation regardless of whether it is finite or eternal.

            theists have no argument without the singularity that is said to have a "cause."

            Cause and effect does not have to be linear in time. And cosmologists are not debating whether or not there was a singularity. They are exploring what caused the singularity to transition to a rapid expansion and cooling 13.8 billion years ago. If the Big Bang was the start of time, then whatever caused it was outside of time. If you posit a multiverse scenario, you simply push the issue of the timeless cause back one level since in multiverse theory, there is still an original "Big Bang" which creates the entire universe from which subsequent Big Bangs create independent, separate domains within the larger universe.

            And yielding evidence for the multiverse hypothesis.

            In science, empirical evidence requires a DIRECT observation, measurement, detection, etc. of the predicted result. As a result, no experiment, observation, measurement, etc. IN OUR OWN UNIVERSE (i.e, domain) counts as empirical evidence proving the existence of a multiverse. But as I've already said, multiverse theory does not pose a problem for theists. As the BVG theorem proved, any cosmological model with an average expansion rate greater than 1 (like the multiverse theory) still requires a beginning.

            Proof is not the same thing as evidence

            Really? Not according to the Dictionary. From Dictionary.com, the definition of proof is: "evidence sufficient to expain a thing as true."

          • Ignatius Reilly

            As I've said before, the veracity of Christianity is not contingent on Big Bang Cosmology. The universe requires an explanation regardless of whether it is finite or eternal.

            But the soundness of Kalam is dependent on a misrepresentation of Big Bang Cosmology. You guys are arguing about two different things. Logike, is rightfully pointing out that the Kalam is unsound and he is also right that General Relativity breaks down in the early universe, which means, as I understand it that Big Bang is not descriptive of the early universe.

            That the universe requires an explanation is something that you would need to demonstrate.

            If the Big Bang was the start of time, then whatever caused it was outside of time. If you posit a multiverse scenario, you simply push the issue of the timeless cause back one level since in multiverse theory, there is still an original "Big Bang" which creates the entire universe from which subsequent Big Bangs create independent, separate domains within the larger universe.

            Again, correct me if I am wrong, but the Big Bang is not descriptive of the early universe. If you don't think there is any empirical evidence for the Multiverse, why do you assume that the Multiverse has a creation? It could be the ground of all existence.

            In science, empirical evidence requires a DIRECT observation, measurement, detection, etc. of the predicted result. As a result, no experiment, observation, measurement, etc. IN OUR OWN UNIVERSE (i.e, domain) counts as empirical evidence proving the existence of a multiverse.

            I agree that it is non-scientific presently, but that isn't really the point. Since the Multiverse is consistent with what we have observed, a theist must demonstrate that it is impossible or that it has a cause to salvage their argument.

            As the BVG theorem proved, any cosmological model with an average expansion rate greater than 1 (like the multiverse theory) still requires a beginning.

            Are you getting this one from Craig?

            Really? Not according to the Dictionary. From Dictionary.com, the definition of proof is: "evidence sufficient to expain a thing as true."

            Key word "sufficient". No amount of examples (evidence) will ever prove a mathematical proposition true.

          • Roman

            First of all, thanks for you comments. Before I respond specifically, I just want to mention one frustration I encounter in discussions with people on this forum regarding the state of scientific knowledge. And that is that there is a tendency to conflate different levels of scientific knowledge as though they are all on the same plane. That is simply not true. There are different levels of certainty when it comes to scientific knowledge and its important to be aware of what we really know at this time versus what we think could possibly be true, and the various shades of gray in between. This was one of my sources of frustration with Logike.

            the soundness of Kalam is dependent on a misrepresentation of Big Bang Cosmology

            I guess I would like more information on what specifically you are referring to as a misrepresentation of BB Cosmology. I, BTW, am not a fan of the Kalam argument but for another reason. I think its risky to base one of the premises of a philosophical proof on an understanding of cosmology that could possibly change....especially when it makes recourse to the Big Bang as proof of the beginning. Having said that, however, there are other scientific reasons to believe that the universe probably had a beginning, i.e., is not eternal. One of those is the 2nd law of thermodynamics which basically says that physical processes tend to run down (i.e., increase in entropy). As time goes on, energy is degraded into a more disorganized, unusable form. In general things age, they wear out, decay, erode, etc. This process only goes in one direction. Natural processes do no decrease in entropy with time or even maintain a constant entropy. The latter would be akin to a perpetual motion machine. The problem of entropy is a powerful reason to doubt that the universe is eternal. I'll discuss the BVG theorem below

            Logike, is rightfully pointing out that the Kalam is unsound and he is also right that General Relativity breaks down in the early universe,

            Logike did not mention the Kalam argument or the theory of General Relativity. I brought up the theory of general relativity to make the point that the original source of the theory behind Big Bang Cosmology was simply an application of the laws of general relativity.. Logike implied that Quantum Mechanics somehow invalidates the Big Bang Theory. But that is not true. Classical physics, including General Relativity gets us back to the singularity. It is at the singularity that classical physics breaks down and we look to Quantum Mechanics to develop a different concept of gravity, i.e., Quantum Gravity, which is true on a subatomic level.

            That the universe requires an explanation is something that you would need to demonstrate.

            This, first of all, is a philosophical or metaphysical belief and as you're well aware could take us into a whole other discussion. But let me just put it simply. I think that the premise that everything in our material universe that changes, has a cause (lets leave aside for the moment, the overall universe itself). Change meaning, change in location, change in time, change of physical or chemical state, etc. Now if you disagree with this premise, you need to give me at least one legitimate exception to the rule. I've not heard one myself. Now if this premise is true that all material things that change have a cause, why wouldn't it also be true for the Universe which is also a material "thing". We know the Universe is expanding, its increasing overall in entropy, the expansion is accelerating, etc.It seems to me that this would be a more reasonable conclusion than to say, okay, everything in the material universe that changes requires a cause..... except the Universe itself.

            I agree that it is non-scientific presently

            I woudn't go this far as to say its non-scientific. I think there are good reasons to think that a multiverse is possible. But that still leaves open the question of whether it had a beginning (more on that below).

            Are you getting this one from Craig

            I admit I got a chuckle out of this one. William Lane Craig is a bright man, but he's philosopher. When I want learn science, I go straight to the source, in this case, Alex Valenkin, specifically what he's written. Since you mention Craig though, I will mention that he has posted a series of letters on his website, one from Alex Valenkin where he clarifies what his theorem means and what the assumptions/caveats are. The link is http://www.reasonablefaith.org/honesty-transparency-full-disclosure-and-bgv-theorem
            This exchange of letters came after the debate between Craig and Lawrence Krauss. I'll quote first from Alex's letter to Lawrence, second sentence : "The BGV theorem says that if the universe is on average expanding along a given worldline, this worldline cannot be infinite to the past." Now from Alex's letter to Craig, "I would say the theorem makes a plausible case that there was a beginning." There is also a good summary of the BVG theorem and its implications in the January 2012 issues of New Scientist. In the article, it states quite clearly that any cosmological model with an average expansion rate greater than 1 still requires a beginning. The reason this applies to the multiverse theory is because the multiverse theory is derived from the eternal inflation theory proposed by physicist Andrei Linde in 1986. Eternal inflation theory says that the overall universe is in a constant state of inflation and that as it inflates, smaller universes or domains break off from the main bubble. But eternal inflation requires an average expansion rate greater than 1, consequently, it must have a beginning according to the BVG theorem.

            Key word "sufficient". No amount of examples (evidence) will ever prove a mathematical proposition true.

            I think you're arguing in my favor here. I was the one that used the word "proof" which as you see means "evidence sufficient to prove something true". Logike criticized my use of the word proof in favor of using the word "evidence" alone.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            And that is that there is a tendency to conflate different levels of scientific knowledge as though they are all on the same plane. That is simply not true. There are different levels of certainty when it comes to scientific knowledge and its important to be aware of what we really know at this time versus what we think could possibly be true, and the various shades of gray in between

            I agree with this.

            Logike did not mention the Kalam argument or the theory of General Relativity. I brought up the theory of general relativity to make the point that the original source of the theory behind Big Bang Cosmology was simply an application of the laws of general relativity..

            I think it was implied from an earlier conversation. Brandon said this:

            Matter is never created or destroyed within the universe, after its beginning, but mainstream cosmologists agree that matter did have an ultimate origin. The majority of cosmologists hold to the standard, Big Bang model of the universe which maintains that the Big Bang marked the beginning of all matter, energy, space, and time at the initial cosmological singularity.

            I think he was initially responding to Brandon, who seems to support Kalam.

            But let me just put it simply. I think that the premise that everything in our material universe that changes, has a cause is true (lets leave aside for the moment, the overall universe itself). Change meaning, change in location, change in time, change of physical or chemical state, etc. Now if you disagree with this premise, you need to give me at least one legitimate exception to the rule. I've not heard one myself.

            In order for the argument to hold, the cause has to be outside what it effects. Below are a few examples that I and others have suggested (I will be interested to hear your thoughts):

            Does change in position have a cause? An object moving at constant velocity can change position without having a cause of that position change.

            If I have a clump of Uranium, what causes a single atom to decay?

            In big bang nucleosynthesis, what causes the protons, neutrons, and electrons to from elements?

            If an electron is neither spin up or spin down until it is observed, do we consider observation a cause?

            With regard to BVG, I thought that it only stipulated that inflation has a beginning - not the universe. I am not enough of an expert in cosmology to say one way or the other, but it seems a lot of the BVG theistic claims originate with Craig, who I distrust completely. Regardless, I don't have a problem with a deistic God - it is the Abrahamic God whose existence I question.

          • Roman

            In order for the argument to hold, the cause has to be outside what it effects

            I would ask you to reconsider this assumption. First of all, it seems arbitrary to me, i.e., why must the cause of change be external to what it effects? This assumption is problematic for a number of reasons, including the fact that it contradicts things we know are true. For example, if someone developed a blood clot in their heart and dropped dead of a heart attack, that would be an example of a cause internal to that human body. I think the restriction of an external cause makes sense when you're thinking of the cause of someone/something's existence, but not cause of change.

            I think you presented a pretty good list of "changes" that require a scientific explanation, and there is a scientific explanation for each one. Let me throw out a couple of my own examples first because I think they will be helpful.

            First example: If you leave a glass of water in your kitchen for a few weeks, most likely, the water will be gone when you check the glass. So the question is, did the water leave the glass on its own or was it somehow caused to leave the glass? You didn't spill the water or heat up the glass, so what happened? The short explanation is that there was a transfer of energy from the surrounding air to the water in the glass that caused the water to evaporate. That's the immediate cause. Since energy is conserved, i.e., the water gains energy, so the air must lose energy, the air ends up being cooled. You've experienced this probably when you walk past water falls or water being sprayed in the air - same effect. But this begs the question of why was the energy transferred? The underlying cause can be explained thermodynamically in terms of something called "Free Energy" which is a measure of the tendency of a substance to change either its physical or chemical state. Free Energy can be calculated and when the calculated value is negative, that means the process will take place spontaneously. In equation form, its presented as:
            Free Energy = Enthalpy - Temperature x Entropy.
            You can think of Enthalpy as a measure of the heat content of a substance and Entropy is a measure of order. If you heat something up, its enthalpy goes up proportionately. When you change the physical state from liquid to vapor, the Entropy increases.
            When you calculate the free Energy for the vaporization of water, the Free Energy is negative (i.e., the 2nd term containing Entropy is larger than the Enthalpy) which means, the vaporization will happen spontaneously. So in summary, when you placed an open glass with water in your kitchen, the Entropy increased enough to make the Free Energy favorable for the volatilization of liquid water to water vapor resulting in a transfer of energy from air to the water.

            The second example I want to mention gives some insight into understanding causes when we deal with particle physics and quantum mechanical effects. This is important because many people get confused with quantum probabilities and think that if you only know there is some probability an event will happen, then there is no cause. I'm going to use the example of flipping a coin. There are 2 things to establish upfront:
            1. The coin has the property of being two-sided. Consequently, you can only get either heads or tails when you flip a coin.
            2. When you flip a coin, there is a 50:50 chance of getting either heads or tails. But on any specific flip of the coin, you cannot predict whether you're going to get one or the other.
            Now let's say you flip a coin and you get tails. Did you cause the coin to land with tails facing up? Some might argue no because they would say there is no way you could know that it was going to end up tails when you flipped the coin. But knowing or predicting the effect is different than causing it. Even though you have no way of knowing whether a particular flip of the coin will end up tails, it was the action of flipping the coin that produced the effect of tails facing up.

            I'll let you think/respond on the above and then I'll address the other changes you mentioned in a separate post.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            From the original article:

            This is the proof from motion, which can be presented simply and
            schematically as follows. Things move. Since nothing moves itself,
            everything that is moved must be moved by another.

            Now I have been told that when Aquinas says motion we would translate this into modern language as change. The article states that nothing moves or changes itself. I think this is false and you also seem to think it is false.There was another article on this site that relied on the premise: "things cannot compose themselves," to which I replied with big bang nucleosynthesis.

            There is also a contingency argument that relies on accidentally ordered and essentially ordered series. The argument assumes that something X, like say a candle on fire cannot be both essentially and accidentally ordered, which is false. It is essential with respect to oxygen and accidental with respect to the match that sets it afire. With regard to cause and effect, we generally view the match as causal, even though the oxygen is necessary for the flame.

            Doesn't evaporation only happen when the air around the water is warmer than the water? Once the water and air are at the same temperature, doesn't evaporation stop?

            Can we say that the effect heads or the effect tails actually has a cause? If we said flipping the coin caused it to show heads, then it would seem flipping the coin should always lead to heads. There is a deterministic cause and effect, which states that if A causes B, when ever A happens B also happens. If cosmological arguments rely on cause and effect, I would like to know what type of cause and effect is necessary, and some general guidelines for determining cause and its effect.

    • VeritatisSplendor

      Hello Glen,

      The argument in no way rests on the universe being temporal or non-eternal. See Aquinas's "On the Eternity of the World," where he proves, instead that

      a) It is perfectly plausible from the point of view of natural reason alone, that the universe is eternal,

      and,

      b) such a universe still requires a first, unmoved mover, as actuality and not duration is what necessarily calls for a first mover.

      • Glenn54321

        There is still a problem -- his concepts are now competing with verified experimental results and mathematical models showing that "b" in your reply is plausibly false. That is what is different now vs. when he was writing his summa. No amount of logic and human reasoning, no matter how intense, from the 13th century can overcome the data we now have.

        • VeritatisSplendor

          Oh, I definitely agree that there are questions to be answered there. The proof still works even in light of post-13th Century discoveries, but I'm not engaging that in the above. Rather, I'm seeking to clarify an important point that, sadly, many are unaware of. It is especially a problem for those who believe (though also for many of those who do not): they often think that the demonstration from motion requires that the universe have a beginning in time, when in fact it does not and St. Thomas himself argues the contrary.

          • Glenn54321

            I don't think what Aquinas wrote will ever be discounted. I do, however, think it what he is calling "God" as the consequence of his logic will be supplanted with "singularity" or something else. It is impressive that someone 800 years ago wrote what he did with that kind of clarity. Even so all I am saying is that the 5 "proofs" of Aquinas can no longer be offered as proofs due to our current understandings.

        • Ernesto Inoa

          The 2003 Borde-Guth-Vilenkin paper (pdf) shows that “almost all” inflationary models of the universe will reach a boundary in the past – meaning our universe probably doesn’t exist infinitely into the past.

          According to Prof. Vilenkin:

          If someone asks me whether or not the theorem I proved with Borde and Guth implies that the universe had a beginning, I would say that the short answer is “yes”. If you are willing to get into subtleties, then the answer is “No, but…” So, there are ways to get around having a beginning, but then you are forced to have something nearly as special as a beginning.

          In other words... "b" by VeritatisSpendor is more likely to be true than not.

          • Glenn54321

            *sigh*... William Lane Craig tried this one. False

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0qKZqPy9T8

            The belief is that it is "probably eternal" by the very authors you cite.

          • Peter

            By "eternal" they mean the arrow of time pointing in two directions, to the past and to the future, from a point of low entropy, so that the universe appears to us in the future pointing part to be eternal. However, there is still a beginning which is the beginning of the arrow of time.

          • Logike

            No, listen to him again. Carroll criticized Craig for saying his model "had a beginning," is emphatic that the universe is eternal, and denied the direction of time implies a beginning.

          • Peter

            The arrow of time is not in itself fundamental. What is fundamental is the shift from low to high entropy which it represents. From a point of low entropy there is a shift to higher entropy in two opposite directions, represented by an arrow of time running in each direction.

            If the point of low entropy is the point from which the shift from lower to higher entropy begins, then it is also the point from which the arrow of time begins to run, both forward into the future and backwards into the past, as observed from our universe.

          • Logike

            Conceptually, this doesn't seem correct. What do you mean by the words "from" and "to" if not that states of lower entropy are always "earlier-than" states of higher entropy, and that states of higher entropy are always "later than" states of lower entropy? If entropy were more fundamental than time, then there would be no reason why the universe didn't shift from high to low entropy states instead. Your thesis might have some merit if physicists believed it were possible to reverse the direction of entropy from high to low, thus reversing the direction of time. But I don't know any physicist who thinks this.

            "The direction of time is not the same as the direction of the arrow of time"

            --I am not sure I understand in what this distinction consists.

          • Peter

            Nobody said anything about going backwards in time. The arrow of time running in the opposite direction runs backwards with respect to us.

            In a dual mirror universe, such as Stenger's biverse, where entropy grows in opposite directions, the arrow of time correspondingly runs in opposite directions.

            The inhabitants our universe would observe time as going forward, just as the inhabitants of our mirror universe would observe their time as going forward.

            Similarly, observers in our universe would perceive the mirror universe to be eternal, while observers in the mirror universe would perceive our universe to be eternal. More precisely, observes from both universes would perceive time to be going forward from eternity.

            However, this is a perception based on the reality that the arrow of time in the mirror universe is running backwards with respect to observers in our universe, and the arrow of time in our universe s running backwards with respect to observers in the mirror universe.

          • Logike

            In this biverse scenario, in what sense would the universe have "a beginning" then? As you begin tracing the events of either universe back into their respective pasts, you don't come to a "beginning." Instead, you come to another universe with the arrow of time pointing another direction. I am not sure whether you realize this, but Victor Stenger, interestingly enough, uses this possibility of a biverse to argue against W.L. Craig's 2nd premise that the universe had a beginning.

          • Maxximiliann

            The premise that all matter and energy began to exist 13.70 billion years ago is not a religious declaration nor a theological one. You can find this statement in any contemporary textbook on astrophysics or cosmology. And it is supported by the vast majority of cosmologists today.

            The Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem, for instance, proves that any universe, that has, on average, a rate of expansion greater than one ** must ** have a ** finite beginning **. I'm not making this up. Read the paper in full or watch Vilenkin himself invalidate and impugn beginningless universe models like Eternal Inflation, Cyclic Evolution and Static Seed/Emergent Universe on youtube.

            As such, Vilenkin had this to say regarding the beginning of the universe, "It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. *** There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning ***. (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176) (Emphasis mine.)

            As Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist Stephen Hawking put it, “the final nail in the coffin of the Steady State theory came with the discovery of the microwave background radiation, in 1965.”

            Emphatically, then, the fervent belief that the universe is infinitely old, beginningless, or eternal has no basis in any respected mainstream scientific theories of the universe.

            This creates the necessity for a first uncaused-cause. After all, something cannot come from nothing as I've already shared. I've also explained that this first uncaused efficient cause must also, by necessity, be transcendent, beginningless, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, unchanging, omnipotent, personal and good. As it turns out, such is the very definition of All Loving God.

          • Logike

            That's some very sloppy homework. You need to analyze the concept "beginning to exist" as applied to the first moment of time to see whether the notion is even logically coherent because physicists are not using the notion the way you sloppy theists use it. They just mean "temporally finite." But being temporally finite does not entail "having a beginning." In fact, they are logically contrary notions. Suppose time t1 is the first moment of time. Here is proof:

            "X is finite in time" just means,

            (1) there is no time t0 prior to the first moment of time t1.

            But, "X begins to exist at time t1" means,

            (2) X exists at t1, and there is a time t0 prior to t1 at which X did not exist.

            (2) says t0 is the first moment of time. But the hypothesis was that t1 is the first moment of time of a finite universe. Therefore, (2) is does not apply to the first moment of time, and therefore, "having a beginning" does not correctly describe a finite universe.

            Further, suppose, like Craig does that t1 is the point at which time itself began. This would mean there was a time before t1 when there was no time--a contradiction. Therefore, the first moment of time is not a "beginning." After all, there was no time the universe was not. The universe existed at all times (Einstein).

          • Maxximiliann

            Your conclusion obtains if and only if we equate the perception of time with analytical measures of time . This reductionistic perspective is glaringly misguided for a succession of mental events by itself is sufficient to establish relations of before and afterwards , entirely devoid of any kind of material occurrence . Which means that there could be a point in time in which God Almighty fashioned the original cosmological singularity , regardless of whether that instance is not in material time .

            "Even if God is timeless sans creation, His creating the universe can be simultaneous with the cosmic singularity. Such an appeal to metaphysics is not illicit because Hawking makes the metaphysical claim that God cannot create the universe because the singularity is not in physical time. In any case, even if we do accept this reductionistic move, all that follows is that God did not create the universe at a time. We can still say that God’s creating the universe was coincident with the singularity (that is, they occur together at the boundary of spacetime), and by creating the singularity God created the universe."

            http://bit.ly/1nCfYye

          • Logike

            What are you even talking about? What is time other than a series of events ordered by earlier and later-than relations? Even physicists agree time has a direction (given by laws governing entropy), and giving a direction to events is all I need to demonstrate the absurdity of a universe "beginning to exist." Hawking even agrees with me. This is not "reductionistic." It's just what time is.

            "His creating the universe can be simultaneous with the cosmic singularity."

            --But "simultaneous" means "happening at the same time." The effect is in time. So, if the cause is simultaneous with the effect, then the cause is in time as well. But, by hypothesis, God is timeless, or outside time. So God is both inside and outside time? --Contradiction. "Creation ex nihilo" is self-contradictory.

            Everything else that follows in your post is irrelevant.

          • Maxximiliann

            Our prehension of time is the perception of time as a continual stream which is without interlude and is as a result immeasurable . It is the perception of movements and of time’s flow (Ever hear the expression "a watched pot doesn't boil"?) .

            In effect, timepieces really do not detect time . “Time” per se is a metaphysical conception which means it simply cannot be identified by any physical measurement neither is it be modified in any form or manner by a physical effect . Clocks operate by simply monitoring the perpetual relationship between mass and space termed the conservation of momentum together with angular momentum . Time absolutely does not move the universe , but as you see the movement of the universe can be quite beautifully universalized into the metaphysical perception of time .

          • Logike

            It is not clear to me what it is you are saying because your post looks like a word salad without your drawing any logical connections at all. And I don't know how it is relevant to my post in the first place, but I will respond anyway.

            "Our prehension of time is the perception of time as a continual stream which is without interlude and is as a result immeasurable."

            --But this is just our ordinary subjective experience of the "flow" of time where time appears to be "tensed" by past, present, and future facts. On this view, the future appears to come into the present and then to recede into the past forever--otherwise known as the "A-theory" view of time. But this conception of time has already been famously proven to be inconsistent by McTaggart at the turn of the century. http://www.philoscience.unibe.ch/.../SS04/McTaggartMind.pdf
            So I strongly recommend dropping the A-theory. It means you will have to abandon Craig's ridiculous Kalam argument, but the two of you need to come up to speed on the actual philosophical literature here:
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/time/

            Instead, I am talking about the B-theory view of time which says events in time are ordered only by earlier-than, later-than relations, thus giving a direction to time, but abandoning the distinction found on the A-theory view of time between past, present, and future. All times are equally real, and so the "present," somehow appearing "more real" than the "past" and "future," is rejected as an illusion. This is the conception of time adopted by most philosophers anymore. And it is how physicists understand time as well. Interestingly enough, on the B-theory view of time, the universe does not actually begin to exist. Even Craig admits the B-theory view of time escapes the conclusion of the Kalam. You can see Craig admit this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4Wx18K9jUE

            "In effect, timepieces really do not detect time "

            --What does this even mean?

            "Time” per se is a metaphysical conception"

            --True, so?

            "which means it simply cannot be identified by any physical measurement"

            --Right, time is not merely the passing hands of the clock. Clocks are only measurements of the duration of changes within time. They aren't time itself. But how does this relate to what I said?

            "neither is it be modified in any form or manner by a physical effect."

            --You think? Many philosophers identify time as the only unchanging substrate of all change. But how does this relate to what I said?

            "Time absolutely does not move the universe"

            --Who said it did anyway?

          • Logike

            "The Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem, for instance, proves that any universe,
            that has, on average, a rate of expansion greater than one ** must **
            have a ** finite beginning **.

            --Only on the assumption of classical physics. But no one thinks the universe is governed by classical physics, not even Borde-Vilenkin-Guth. Quantum mechanics threw a monkey wrench into classical physics almost a century ago.

            Want proof? Here is Vilenkin contradicting what you just said. Skip to 1:05:15
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0qKZqPy9T8

            "As Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist Stephen Hawking put it, “the
            final nail in the coffin of the Steady State theory came with the
            discovery of the microwave background radiation, in 1965.”

            --But on the Hartle-Hawking Model, though finite in time, the universe is unbounded, meaning it gives way to spatial-like properties and no time. One might call it, "infinitely finite." There is no time before time, so the concept of a beginning to time is meaningless.

          • Maxximiliann

            Your conclusion obtains if and only if we equate the perception of time with analytical measures of time . This reductionistic perspective is glaringly misguided for a succession of mental events by itself is sufficient to establish relations of before and afterwards , entirely devoid of any kind of material occurrence . Which means that there could be a point in time in which God Almighty fashioned the original cosmological singularity , regardless of whether that instance is not in material time .

            "Even if God is timeless sans creation, His creating the universe can be simultaneous with the cosmic singularity. Such an appeal to metaphysics is not illicit because Hawking makes the metaphysical claim that God cannot create the universe because the singularity is not in physical time. In any case, even if we do accept this reductionistic move, all that follows is that God did not create the universe at a time. We can still say that God’s creating the universe was coincident with the singularity (that is, they occur together at the boundary of spacetime), and by creating the singularity God created the universe."

            http://bit.ly/1nCfYye

          • Logike

            "This creates the necessity for a first uncaused-cause"

            --No it doesn't, because there was no change at the first moment of time. For a cause to be required, you need a change. But the universe never "came to be." It didn't change from being "non-existent to existent." If it did, the universe would have to exist non-existently to endure through a change in times, which is just self-contradictory. I already demonstrated above how applying the notion of "coming to be" at the first moment of time generates a logical contradiction.

          • Maxximiliann

            This conclusion obtains if and only if we equate the perception of time with analytical measures of time . This reductionistic perspective is glaringly misguided for a succession of mental events by itself is sufficient to establish relations of before and afterwards , entirely devoid of any kind of material occurrence . Which means that there could be a point in time in which God Almighty fashioned the original cosmological singularity , regardless of whether that instance is not in material time .

            "Even if God is timeless sans creation, His creating the universe can be simultaneous with the cosmic singularity. Such an appeal to metaphysics is not illicit because Hawking makes the metaphysical claim that God cannot create the universe because the singularity is not in physical time. In any case, even if we do accept this reductionistic move, all that follows is that God did not create the universe at a time. We can still say that God’s creating the universe was coincident with the singularity (that is, they occur together at the boundary of spacetime), and by creating the singularity God created the universe."

            http://bit.ly/1nCfYye

          • Logike

            Stop cut-and-pasting your own posts multiple times without actually engaging in my replies. I already replied to this post here. Specifically, I showed that "creation ex nihilo" entails a logical contradiction. But you have yet to rebut this. Try again.

          • Peter

            The only beginning I can envisage in this scenario is the timeless state at the point of lowest entropy from which the arrow of time begins to run in opposite directions. For our universe the arrow of time began to run 13.8 bn years ago as it would have done in our alleged mirror universe.

            Regarding a timeless God at the beginning of our universe, it is interesting to note that St. Augustine 1600 years ago described an eternal realm from which creation sprang which is synonymous with the timeless state at the point of lowest entropy.

            Even in the case of multiple universes, where for each universe the arrow of time begins to run in opposite directs at the point of lowest entropy, the timeless state at that point would be exactly the same for every universe.

    • a_theist

      I think there is confusion between “eternal” as the ability to sustain itself for all time (as the models imply) and to be self-sustaining with no need for a beginning.
      As far as I know there are only two eternal models, simplified as: (1) Cyclic (2) Continuous inflation where universes as parts of a larger multiverse are at different stages of expansion or contraction.

      Both models suffer from the same problem as the universe(s) have both matter and energy and accepting any proportionality between the two the question arises as to where the initial matter or energy came from - before the first cycle or for the multiverse.

      • Glenn54321

        Yep, whatever happened at the big bang is probably something we'll never understand. Whatever happened before (if that word even applies) is even less likely to be clear -- bordering on the impossible. We simply don't know. Anyone who claims to know should be regarded with suspicion.

        • a_theist

          True. The same question is of course posed to theists about the eternal nature of God. It is the core problem with the argument from motion. If one extrapolates infinitely far back, the theist argues that God is the prime mover, but is that a valid extrapolation end point?

          Worth some waste of cognitive time is the question of a domain that does not have matter, only energy. Since there is no matter there is no space and hence no time ... so eternal takes on a very different meaning in a timeless domain - do we have all time, ever present? or no time?

          • Maxximiliann

            Actually, an infinite regress of causes does not have any basis in reality ; it can’t be turtles all the way down . ( http://bit.ly/1o2W0vq )

          • Logike

            This notion that one can disprove the existence of an actual infinity in a kind of reductio-ad-absurdum argument is simply crazy. Notice, Craig accepts mathematical infinity, but denies actual infinity. But what he doesn't get is that if actual infinity can be proven to be logically impossible, then mathematical infinity is impossible as well (because the mathematical is a subset of the logical). No mathematician would accept this result, so something is seriously wrong with Craig's argument.

            You need to read Craig's peer-reviewed opponent who takes him to task here.

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

          • Maxximiliann

            Infinity, like imaginary time and imaginary numbers are merely constructs. They have no basis in reality.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            What is a construct? Why is it not part of reality? What is reality? By your definition is God a construct?

            Complex numbers have a ton of applications.

          • Glenn54321

            Yep... I almost took that path... was afraid of being reprimanded :)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I am curious as to what his response will be.

          • Maxximiliann

            a. A construct, in this context, is merely a mathematical tool used in the manipulation of numbers. They do not exist in reality.

            b. Reality is the sum of all material and immaterial stuffs of the universe.

            c. God is not a construct but a living, immaterial person.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Why isn't mathematics part of the immaterial section of the universe?

          • Maxximiliann

            Because math is abstract as in "existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence."

          • Ignatius Reilly

            It would seem the above would apply to God.

          • Maxximiliann

            Really? What is your evidence?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            God exists only in thought or idea, but not having physical or concrete existence.

          • Maxximiliann

            The Scriptures plainly inform us that God Almighty possesses a body as well as revealing he is situated in the heavens. (cf. Matthew 6:9; John 4:24; 1 Corinthians 15:44) Put simply, he possesses corporealness and therefore locality.

            Understanding that, in fact, each and every heavenly spirit possesses corporealness makes it substantive when the Scriptures refer to God relative to his spirit creatures:

            "Micaiah then said: “Therefore, hear the word of Jehovah: I saw Jehovah sitting on his throne and all the army of the heavens standing by him, to his right and to his left." -1 Kings 22:19

            "“I kept watching until thrones were set in place and the Ancient of Days [Jehovah God] sat down. A stream of fire was flowing and going out from before him. A thousand thousands kept ministering to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him." -Daniel 9:9,10 (Bracket mine.)

            The Holy Bible additionally explains that our Creator bears a personal name , Jehovah , and even unveils his personality to us . It reveals that his most distinguished traits are love , justice , wisdom , together with power . ( Deuteronomy 32 :4 ; Job 12 :13 ; Isaiah 40 :26 ; 1 John 4 :8 ) The Scriptures informs us , likewise , that he is certainly merciful , kind , forgiving , big-hearted , as well as patient .

            Personality is the blend of traits or attributes that pattern an individual's unique persona . It is the aggregation of all the attributes--behavioral , temperamental , emotional as well as mental--that represent a distinct individual . It is the manifestation of individual values , hopes , aspirations , principles , and behaviors . In effect, personality is to a particular person as culture would be to a group .

            Seeing as personality is the quality or fact of being a person as distinguished from a particular thing or creature it follows that Jehovah God is absolutely a person.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            How do we know that the scriptures speak the truth on the matter?

          • Maxximiliann

            Indirect evidence is frequently and reliably depended upon to ascertain the reality of the world we live in . As a case in point , it's long been widely-used to show that our Sun generates power via nuclear fusion , hydrogen is present on it or that the our planet features an iron core . In like manner , creation as well as the reality that not a one of fulfilled Bible predictions has at any time been wrong constitutes unquestionable attestation for the reality of it's composer , Jehovah God .

            This is, by far the most persuasive logical reason why millions upon millions of rational people today the world over accept the Bible as the Inspired Word of Jehovah God. Simply no other book – religious or not – comes with such illustrious prominence. Considering the fact that it's literally ** impossible ** for any person to foresee with complete precision what's sure to occur from one hour to the next, there's no two ways about it: Bible prophecies are not of natural origin. I kindly invite you to examine for yourself numerous examples of these accurately fulfilled prophecies: http://bit.ly/1d0Y82v

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I can't think of a single prophecy that was made that wasn't made after the event had already occurred. If you have one example of a true prophecy that was fulfilled, please fill me in.

          • Maxximiliann

            "I had a deep respect for our body’s sophisticated design. For example, the way our kidneys control the amount of red cells in our blood is awe-inspiring. As you may know, red blood cells transport oxygen. If you lose a lot of blood or if you go to a high altitude, your body will lack oxygen. Our kidneys have oxygen sensors. When they detect an oxygen shortage in the blood, they activate the production of EPO, and the level of EPO in the blood may rise as much as a thousandfold. The EPO stimulates the bone marrow to produce more red cells, which in turn transport more oxygen. It’s wonderful! Strangely, I studied this process for ten years before it struck me that only God could design such an elegant system.

            I was intrigued by the way the Bible foretold the year of Jesus’ baptism. It shows exactly how much time would elapse between the 20th year of the reign of the Persian ruler Artaxerxes and the year Jesus would present himself as the Messiah. I am accustomed to doing research—it is part of my job. So I researched history books to confirm the dates of Artaxerxes’ rule and the dates of Jesus’ ministry. Finally, I concluded that this Bible prophecy had come true on time and that it must have been inspired by God." -Dr. Céline Granolleras, former atheist (http://bit.ly/1dNnE8I)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I'm not really sure where the bible makes that prophecy. We just have Celine's word for it.

            Complexity does not imply design.

          • Maxximiliann

            The prophecy the Dr. makes reference to is the one recorded at Daniel 9 :24-27 wherein it is prophesied that Jerusalem would be rebuilt and Messiah would appear and thereafter be murdered ; afterwards the city itself along with its holy place would certainly be destroyed. It reads as follows -

            24 “Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.

            25 Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.

            26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed.

            27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

            With respect to the beginning of the prophetic seventy weeks , Nehemiah was given authorization by King Artaxerxes of Persia , in the twentieth year of his rule , in the month of Nisan , to reconstruct the walls along with the city of Jerusalem . ( Nehemiah 2 :1 , 5 , 7 , 8 ) In his calculations of the reign of Artaxerxes , Nehemiah evidently made use of a calendar year that commenced with the month Tishri ( September-October ) , as does the Jews’ present civil calendar , and then concluded with the month Elul ( August-September ) as its 12th and final month .

            To uncover the period corresponding to the twentieth annum of Artaxerxes , we must go back to the conclusion of the reign of his father and forerunner Xerxes , who perished in the latter part of 475 B .C .E . Artaxerxes’ accession year accordingly initiated in 475 B .C .E . , and his very first regnal annum is counted from 474 B .C .E . , as further historical facts tell us . Thus, the twentieth annum of Artaxerxes’ rulership would correspond to 455 B .C .E .

            The prediction states there would be sixty nine weeks of years “from the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Leader .” ( Daniel 9 :25 ) Secular history , in conjunction with the Holy Bible , presents proof that Jesus visited John and was then baptized by him , thus becoming the Anointed One , Messiah the Leader , at the start of fall of 29 C .E . Computing back from this point in the historical past , we are able to determine that the sixty nine weeks of years commenced in 455 B .C .E . In that year the pivotal “going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem” occurred .

            What's so extraordinary about all of this is the fact that Daniel dates the outset of his book as “the third year of the kingship of Jehoiakim the king of Judah .” This is to say, 618 B .C .E . , Jehoiakim’s third year as tributary king to Nebuchadnezzar . And so , hundreds of years well in advance, Daniel’s prophecy pinpointed the precise year of the Messiah’s coming . Almost certainly the Jews in the first century C .E . had made such computations based on Daniel’s prediction and so were watchful for Messiah’s appearance . The Holy Bible declares : “Now as the people were in expectation and all were reasoning in their hearts about John : ‘May he perhaps be the Christ ?’” ( Luke 3 :15 ) Whilst these were anticipating the Messiah , they, needless to say, were not able to calculate the specific month , week , or day of his advent . This is why , they puzzled over whether or not John was in fact the Christ .

            Gabriel additionally informed Daniel : “After the sixty-two weeks Messiah will be cut off , with nothing for himself .” ( Daniel 9 :26 ) It was soon after the conclusion of the ‘seven plus sixty-two weeks ,’ basically three and a half years later , that Christ was cut off in death on a torture stake , sacrificing everything he was , as a ransom for humanity . ( Isaiah 53 :8 ) Facts tells us that the Jesus invested the initial half of the “week” in the ministry . At one time , in all probability in the autumn of 32 C .E . , he presented an illustration wherein Jewish state was portrayed as a fig tree ( cf. Matthew 17 :15-20 ; 21 :18 , 19 , 43 ) that had borne absolutely no fruitage for “three years .” The vignaiolo told the proprietor of the vineyard : “Master , let it alone also this year , until I dig around it and put on manure ; and if then it produces fruit in the future , well and good ; but if not , you shall cut it down .” ( Luke 13 :6-9 ) He might well have referred to the duration of his very own ministry to that indifferent country , which ministry had persisted by this time for at least three years and was to carry on into a fourth year .

            It was subsequently after the 70 “weeks ,” but nevertheless as an immediate consequence of the Jews’ rejection of Christ in the course of the 70th “week ,” that the incidents described in the latter portions of Daniel 9 :26 and 27 were brought to fruition . History documents that Titus the son of Emperor Vespasian of Rome was the commander of the Roman armies that besieged Jerusalem . Like raging floodwaters, these legions stormed Jerusalem devastating the metropolis along with its holy place, the temple. The presence of these pagan legions in such a sacred place indeed made them a “disgusting thing .” ( Matthew 24 :15 ) Every single one of the Israelite's endeavors leading up to Jerusalem’s waterloo to calm the circumstances were ineffective simply because God Almighty’s decree was : “What is decided upon is desolations ,” and “until an extermination , the very thing decided upon will go pouring out also upon the one lying desolate .” (Daniel 9 :26 , 27)

            So , yet again , we see the accurate fulfillment of specific events prophesied hundreds and hundreds of years ahead of time . But just like all these you will find dozens upon dozens of prophecies held within the Holy Bible . As it's unquestionably absurd for anyone to foresee with 100 % perfection what's certain to occur from one hour to the next , there's no two ways about it : Bible prophecies simply cannot be of natural origin .

            These are each the unmistakable manifestation of the transcendent wisdom of our Creator , Jehovah God .

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Wrong year for the beginning of Artarxerxes reign. If this is the best evidence of a biblical prophecy, I think it is safe to say that their aren't any valid biblical prophecies.

          • Maxximiliann

            465 BCE is obviously a non-starter since astronomical tablet referenced BM 32234 records the demise of Xerxes as 14/V/21 between a pair of lunar eclipses, the first dated 14/III/21 (26 June 475 BCE) along with a subsequent one dated 14/VIII/21 (20 December 475 BCE). Accordingly the death of Xerxes undoubtedly occurred in 475 BCE as indicated by Thucydides. What's more, according to NASA, only one lunar eclipse was visible in that region of the world in 465 BCE. http://1.usa.gov/10uAaZV

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You realize that your Church is the only place that gives that date to Xerxes death. Regardless, the best evidence you have for a biblical prophecy is an in-depth and highly questionable torturing of the biblical text to extract a dating for an important event in the life of Jesus. It would take a fair amount of time to understand all of the specious reasoning employed in the analysis, and a willingness to accept a specific reading that is most likely incorrect.
            Do you have a biblical prophecy that doesn't take all sorts of spurious reasoning and long argument?

          • Maxximiliann

            Wrong again:

            With regards to the moment when Xerxes passed away with Artaxerxes ascending to the throne, M. de Koutorga explicates: “We have seen that, according to the chronology of Thucydides, Xerxes died towards the end of the year 475 B.C.E ., and that, according to the same historian, Themistocles arrived in Asia Minor shortly after the coming to the throne of Artaxerxes Longimanus.”—Mémoires présentés par divers savants à l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres de l’Institut Impérial de France , first series, Vol. VI, second part, Paris, 1864, p. 147.

            Further buttressing this date, E . Levesque highlights: “Therefore it is necessary, according to the Alexandrian Chronicle, to place Xerxes’ death in 475 B.C.E., after eleven years of reign. The historian Justin, III, 1, confirms this chronicle and the assertions of Thucydides. According to him, at the time of Xerxes’ murder, Artaxerxes, his son, was but a child, puer [a boy], which is true if Xerxes died in 475. Artaxerxes was then 16 years old, whereas in 465 he would have been twenty-six years old, which would not justify anymore Justin’s expression. According to this chronology, since Artaxerxes began to reign in 475, the 20th year of his reign proves to be in 455 and not in 445 as it is said quite commonly.”—Revue apologétique, Paris, Vol. 68, 1939, p. 94.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Wrong again:

            Nice. I have the weight of academic history on my side, while you have sources that I cannot track and Watch Tower Publications on yours. I don't think you are in a position to claim certainty on this subject.

            I could not find a single one of your sources with a google search. Stop construction strawmen. It does not matter to me what year Xerxes died. The more important point is that the amount of effort that must go into proving this prophecy claim suggests that this is not if fact an actual prophecy. Is this the best biblical prophecy that you have or is their one that is more obvious to the lay man.

          • Maxximiliann

            All that means is that you're a lousy researcher or a lazy one ...

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I am not sure exactly what information I researched poorly. The date of Xerxes death or these random sources that I have cannot find or both? Or is it something else entirely.

            Although you have not answered my question. Is this the biblical prophecy with the most evidence? Are there any other prophecies?

          • Maxximiliann

            The quotes I supplied. Just because you can't locate them online it doesn't follow that they're trumped up.

          • Maxximiliann

            There most certainly are more prophecies. Here's a few of them: http://bit.ly/1d0Y82v

          • Logike

            But numbers themselves are not constructs, but real abstract entities. Proof: there is one and only one number that satisfies the inequality 2+2=x. That number is 4. No other entity in the entire universe, material or immaterial, can satisfy this inequality making it true.

          • Maxximiliann

            The operative word being "abstract" as in "existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence."

          • Logike

            Numbers are no more ideas than cities are ideas. No one confuses the idea of the New York City with the New York City itself. So why would you confuse number 4 with the idea of the number 4?

            Also, numbers don't exist in yours or anyone else's mind. If they did, and you ceased to exist, the number 4 would cease to exist. But the number 4 does not suddenly cease to exist when you die. This is absurd. There is nothing special about you over and above the rest of us.

            The number 4 necessarily exists because 2+2=4 is necessarily true, meaning, true in all possible worlds. This equality would NOT be necessarily true if it were possible that in one of those worlds the number 4 did not exist. So the number 4 exists independent of you or anyone else's mind.

          • Maxximiliann

            If the number 2 exists as some mind independent platonic form then please inform us, what dimensions does it have? What color is it? How does it smell? Where does it live? What is it mass and specific gravity?

        • Maxximiliann

          The premise that all matter and energy began to exist 13.70 billion years ago is not a religious declaration nor a theological one. You can find this statement in any contemporary textbook on astrophysics or cosmology. And it is supported by the vast majority of cosmologists today.

          The Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem, for instance, proves that any universe, that has, on average, a rate of expansion greater than one ** must ** have a ** finite beginning **. I'm not making this up. Read the paper in full or watch Vilenkin himself invalidate and impugn beginningless universe models like Eternal Inflation, Cyclic Evolution and Static Seed/Emergent Universe on youtube.

          As such, Vilenkin had this to say regarding the beginning of the universe, "It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. *** There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning ***. (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176) (Emphasis mine.)

          As Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist Stephen Hawking put it, “the final nail in the coffin of the Steady State theory came with the discovery of the microwave background radiation, in 1965.”

          Emphatically, then, the fervent belief that the universe is infinitely old, beginningless, or eternal has no basis in any respected mainstream scientific theories of the universe.

          This creates the necessity for a first uncaused-cause. After all, something cannot come from nothing as I've already shared. I've also explained that this first uncaused efficient cause must also, by necessity, be transcendent, beginningless, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, unchanging, omnipotent, personal and good. As it turns out, such is the very definition of All Loving God.

          • Glenn54321

            "...This creates the necessity for a first uncaused-cause"

            In a sense, yes. In other senses, no. In the sense that this four-dimensional reality we seem to be stuck in had a beginning; yes. the data seems to suggest that the universe as we experience it had a beginning. I have no problem with that. However, to then assert that you know anything about what might have existed before it, what the experiential reality of it was, or anything about what caused it is extremely presumptuous. No one knows and we probably lack the language or any parallels to even imagine it.

            "I've also explained that this first uncaused efficient cause must also, by necessity, be transcendent, beginningless, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, unchanging, omnipotent, personal and good."

            No you haven't and, in fact, you can't. You cannot go from "the universe we experience seems to have started at some distant past" to "what did that must have been all good, personal, and loving." Those descriptors are a reflection of human ego rather than anything we have physical data for. In doing so, you cross from what the data says into the theological realm of what you want the data to mean.

            I am very curious how you think something being brought into existence demands that kind of description. We can't even go from "it had a beginning" to "it was an agent" let alone applying anthropomorphism to that agent.

          • Maxximiliann

            “Ex nihilo nihil fit .” Put plainly , something can't originate from absolutely nothing . ( Not Hawking’s as well as Krauss’ mendacious pseudo-definition of “nothing,” ( “The Grand Design”/ ”A Universe From Nothing“ ) however the notion that signifies no state of affairs , interactions , potentialities , qualities , that is, stated more forcefully , no “anything” . ) If it actually could , why don’t all kinds of things come from nothingness ? Just why aren't dinosaurs , for example , popping out of thin air , devouring everybody in sight ? Why aren't we terrified of elephants suddenly popping into being and crushing us while they rained down from the skies ? If nothing can in fact yield anything exactly why would it discriminate ? Conspicuously , then , this contravention of the laws of nature is exposed as misguided special pleading .

            Additionally , from the entirety of human experience , knowledge , wisdom , empiricism as well as findings we’ve distilled many other explicit , irrefragable realities including :

            - A posteriori causality

            - Being does not emerge from nonbeing

            - Whatsoever begins to exist has a cause

            - Information cannot spring from disarray

            - Fine-tuning does not emanate from randomness

            Presented with such unshakable abecedarian truths , the natural questions that follow are , “Where did the universe originate from 13 .70 billion years ago ?” or “What triggered it to come into existence to begin with ?” No matter the cause , it needs to possess a number of key characteristics .

            Which means that -

            ( 1 ) Whatsoever begins to exist has a cause .

            ( 2 ) The space-time universe began to exist 13 .70 billion years ago .

            ( 3 ) Thus , the space-time universe has a cause .

            ( 4 ) The cause of the universe is a transcendent , beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent good personal being .

            ( 5 ) A transcendent , beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent good personal being is the definition of God Almighty.

            ( 6 ) Hence , God Almighty caused the universe to exist 13 .70 billion years ago .

            Now , let’s take a more detailed look at each one of the premisses of this elegant syllogism . Foremost , this cause must per se be uncaused . Why ? Simply because an infinite regress of causes does not have any basis in reality ; it can’t be turtles all the way down . ( http://bit.ly/1o2W0vq )

            Next , this uncaused cause needs to transcend space-time since it itself created space-time . It is , as a result , spaceless .

            Third , considering the fact that this uncaused cause exists beyond space and time it is must be a non-physical or immaterial cause . Why ? Because physical stuff exists only in space – they possess dimension .

            Fourth , this uncaused cause must invariably also be timeless for the simple fact that it itself doesn't exist in space-time .

            Fifth , it must likewise be changeless . As I'm sure you're well aware , all of matter is present in a state of continuous flux . This is particularly observable at the atomic level . Given that this uncaused cause is immaterial it is not governed by the same forces that alter matter , and so , is unchanging .

            Sixth , this uncaused cause is without a doubt unimaginably powerful , if not omnipotent , for it produced matter , energy , space and time into existence entirely on its own .

            So , to sum up , whatever it is that brought about the universe to come into existence 13 .70 billion years ago it needs to be beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging and omnipotent .

            Still we're not done for there are two more attributes of this uncaused cause that we are able to ascertain from what we perceive of the universe . Before we identify these , though , we first want to take a finer look at cause and effect . Here's exactly what I mean : if a cause is sufficient to yield it's effect then the effect also needs to be present . The pair are joined at the hip , so to speak ; you can't have one without the other .

            Permit me to borrow from an illustration to help make this sharper . “Suppose that the cause of water’s freezing is the temperature’s being below 0°C . If the temperature were below 0°C from eternity past , then any water that was around would be frozen from eternity . It would be impossible for the water to just begin to freeze a finite time ago . Once the cause is given , the effect must be given as well .” ( http://bit.ly/WQtgZY )

            The problem is , if we have indeed a timeless , transcendent cause how come the effect isn’t permanent as well ? Stated another way , if this timeless , transcendent cause in fact brought the universe into being , why hasn't the universe always been ? Just how can a cause be eternal yet its effect commence a finite time ago ? We are aware the universe is roughly about 13 .70 billion years old but as you see we've further deduced that whatsoever brought about the universe has to be transcendent as well as timeless .

            The one and only way that is feasible is if this timeless , transcendent , uncaused cause were at the same time a free agent – a being with free will who is able to operate of its own volition . Naturally we all know free will is the hallmark of personhood .

            Last but certainly not least , this beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent being must be unimaginably good . Why ? Suppose we admit for the sake of argument that he’s evil . As this being is evil , that suggests he fails to discharge his moral duties . But then exactly where do those originate from ? Just how can this evil being have obligations he is violating ? Who forbids him to do the immoral things he does ? Right away , we discover such an evil being simply cannot be supreme . There needs to be a being who is even greater , one who is absolute goodness himself and thus the source of the moral responsibilities this other prefers to shirk . Therefore , there must necessarily exist a supreme being who is all powerful , all good and all loving ; One who is the very paradigm of good .

            So here we arrive at this uncaused cause of the universe 13 .70 billion years ago that is beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent and personal being who is all good and all loving .

            This is to say - God Almighty.

          • Glenn54321

            I'll say it again. You have not provided a basis for why premise 4 proceeds from premise 3. Additionally, this Kalam cosmological argument commits a category error: since we don't know about norms outside of the universe we cannot apply the norms within it to the outside. Thus, premise 2 may not follow from premise 1 when connecting things outside the universe to things within the universe... even the term "things" falls apart here.

            For these reasons your argument is fallacious and your conclusions can be discarded.

          • Maxximiliann

            Premisses don't follow one another because they are arguments, not conclusions.

          • Glenn54321

            In other words, all of your premises are unrelated and superfluous to your ultimate premise 4? Why did you write all of those extra words then?

            Seriously though, this is not true. Premisses construct a conclusion and are related. I think you misunderstand formal logic:

            https://www.google.com/search?q=Premisses&oq=Premisses&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.879j0j9&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8

          • Maxximiliann

            4 is a conclusion that necessarily obtains from the preceding premisess. If 1, 2 and 3 are plausible then 4 automatically obtains.

          • Logike

            "If 1, 2 and 3 are plausible then 4 automatically obtains."

            --Only if the argument is valid, genius. Plausibility of the premises is not enough to guarantee the conclusion. Example:

            All dogs are mammals.
            All mammals are vertebrates.
            Therefore, all snakes are mammals.

          • Maxximiliann

            Then what evidence can you present which refutes the validity of 4?

          • Glenn54321

            I see my mistake... I meant that 3 doesn't necessarily follow from 1 and 2 due to the category error. My mistake.

          • Logike

            Glenn is right that 4 does not follow from 3 because the concept of cause as used in premise 3 is a cause that is in time, while the conclusion states a cause that is outside time.

            We simply have no reason to believe causation applies to anything outside time, and so premise 3, construed timelessly, could very well be false. You and Craig are pulling a slight-of-hand in the argument here.

          • Maxximiliann

            I've already addressed this and I'm not going to repeat myself.

          • Glenn54321

            ...Wait a minute... is this William Lane Craig lurking under the "Maxximiliann" username?

          • Glenn54321

            I previously replied but I'll restate myself in a different, hopefully less argumentative way.

            Your entire explanation of premise 4 depends on an understanding of what the outside of our universe is like (or that it even exists). No one has such an understanding. For instance; the assumption that it is non-physical or timeless is unjustified. The assumption of the impossibility of infinity is unjustified. You must permit the possiblity that realities exist which are completely unknown or unimagined to us. Quantum mechanics reveals some very odd things about reality which are completely non intuitive. At those levels nature is a lot weirder than we experience at the macro level.

            Secondly, if god is the ultimate expression of good, it is not logical that such a being would create a less-good universe. Being perfectly good and omnipotent it would have no needs and would therefore not allow the existence of something less good than perfectly good. It would diminish its own good. So, in the same way that an evil supreme being is illogical, so is a good supreme being. Perhaps we're dealing with a kind-of good supreme being.

            Simply put, premise 4 is invalid due to baseless assumptions so the conclusion is invalid.

    • Maxximiliann

      Inflationary models are more than just up against the dilemmas of the best ways to get the inflation initiated , the right way to get it to shut down without excessive turbulence , as well as how to get it to permit galaxy development , but , more to the point , they themselves need a terrific degree of fine-tuning leading up to inflation. As such, the presence of design is not avoided .

      Just to illustrate , a shrinking universe won't yield the adequate “bounce” properties when it transitions from its tightening to amplification phases . Baum-Frampton is a non-starter as they quite simply haven’t puzzled out how to have zero average growth along geodesics granted the asymmetry in the broadening and tightening stages of their model . Moreover , they merely took into consideration a subset of the whole reality they proffer .

      The Aguirre-Gratton model attempts to circumvent this challenge altogether by turning around the arrow of time at the boundary . However if you try this , it follows that the mirror universe on the reverse side of the BVG edge in absolutely no sense corresponds to a past from which our present universe developed . As a result our universe would certainly begin-to-exist .

      Withal , the Aguirre-Gratton model is in no way offered by its creators to be a model of our universe ! Much rather , they hope that it may work as a springboard for the beginning of our universe by way of some other sort of physical operation .

      Wheeler's concept , meanwhile , not only succumbs to the stumbling blocks generic to all oscillating models , but insofar as it posits singularities at the termini of each and every phase , it is far from being a brand of oscillating universe whatsoever , but simply of multiple independent worlds .

      Glaringly , then , the absolute beginning of our universe continues to be unavoidable .

      • Glenn54321

        Unavoidable, perhaps. Meaningful, maybe not.

        From what I can tell, the real question -- why this matters to anyone at all outside of curiosity -- is to find out if there is more than we see/feel/touch out there. To find out if we're just an accident of natural forces we might never be able to understand or if there is meaning at all... and, if there is meaning, what it is. Above that would be; is there an agent in control of all of this? That model of reality is certainly tempting based on the way we organize ourselves here in earth. I think there are more efficient questions we can ask in order to get at least a direction to this answer.

        We can start with what we know.

        From the outside: We know something very energetic happened about 13.7 billion years ago. We know the universe is massive and almost entirely chaotic, random, and inhospitable. We know that, for virtually the entire span of 13.7 billion years until now, human beings did not exist. We know that almost all life that has ever existed on this planet has gone extinct. We know evolution happens and is almost certainly responsible for the diversity of life here, including ours. From a biological sense, human beings don’t appear to be very special.

        From the inside: We know that in every culture mankind is prone to filling in a lack of understanding with wild, fantastic mythology. We know that virtually every human culture to have ever existed has created some kind of supernatural understanding to explain the world around them and that virtually all of these are contradictory. We know that mankind has been around longer than our holy texts suggest. We know that the details in the mythos of the old testament (Eden, the flood, babel, etc…) didn't literally happen. We know that, as our understanding of nature has progressed, the fantasies around when and how gods act in our world has virtually evaporated. God has gone from an agent causing thunder and earthquakes, cursing your crops, etc... to now some abstract counselor who communicates with you via your conscience and feelings but otherwise doesn't act in nature in any detectable way. We also know prayer doesn't work. All studies commissioned to look at the effect of intercessory prayer show that it is completely uncorrelated to the outcome. We know that just about anyone who takes their religion seriously is convinced that they’re right and everyone else is somewhere between 0% and 99.9% right. When you step back and see this objectively with the understanding that you’re not above this either, it takes a rather obvious shape.

        For me, knowing what we know and trying to see these things objectively, it’s very hard to imagine a god who is supposed to love us beyond measure and capable of creating something as unbelievable as the cosmos to have selected as a primary mechanism of communications with us to be a book whose origins are not entirely known, and which has certainly been edited with bias many times as well as containing translation errors and interpreted in thousands of different ways to mean thousands of different things. Even attaching a magisterium to this process doesn’t help since the book’s contents are still in doubt, and then you’ve got yet another demonstrably fallible layer between the deity and you. This failure to assist is observed in the wide stratification of beliefs within the supposedly unified sect. Even at the most conservative catholic parish you will find abortion supporters who have reconciled that with their faith, for example. To put icing on the cake, it is oft said that this deity, after having set up a system apparently doomed to chaos and confusion and who refuses to personally step in and clarify things, will burn you in hell forever if you don’t get it right.

        No. 100 years ago this might have passed as reason. Not now. At the end of the day, you’ve either got a case of deism or atheism surrounded by the wild imaginations and near limitless cruelty of man. What we know about life here and the cosmos alone rule out anything more.

        As such, these detailed discussions around the beginning of the cosmos are interesting, but not even remotely the most important consideration as far as the real questions of meaning are concerned.

        • Maxximiliann

          Except for the reality that the myth “that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form"(this fiction: http://bit.ly/18b2Jxe http://bit.ly/12K0jnv) is shorn of any demonstrable , quantifiable , empirical , testable or replicable evidence . The reasoning here is this requires millions upon millions of years - which absolutely no one has actually observed since , well , it needs millions upon millions of years. Nevertheless the fossil record , which ought to demonstrate a string of infinitesimally progressive adjustments from one being to another over a course of millions of years , reveals the complete opposite . . . but it’s anticipated that ( one day , someday ) the “missing” fossils of those intermediate species are going to eventually be discovered . In short , the only evidence for evolution is the presumption of evolution . If that's not lunatic fringe circular thinking , just what is ?

          As many, many reputed scientists in many, many different fields have confirmed through evidence, gradualism is a canard. That it has no support in the fossil record is the fundamental reason why they had to invent PE (a really, really bad euphemism for special creation by God Almighty). It’s all merely apophenia inbred with confirmation bias.

          • Glenn54321

            Since that wasn't really my argument, I'll assume you were responding to "Mr. Straw Man."

            I simply said we were related and that creatures grew complex over time. Would you care to deny that?

          • Maxximiliann

            You mean you didn't just finish claiming

            We know evolution happens and is almost certainly responsible for the diversity of life here, including ours and that we share virtually all the form and function of many other species.

            ???

          • Glenn54321

            Your retort depends on the "single source" claim which you've inserted into the argument. I made no such claim. That is your straw man. I was speaking to the process in general, not the origin.

          • Maxximiliann

            I see. Still, that lack of an explanation for the beginning of existence is a pretty massive hole in your argument, don't you think?

          • Logike

            There are a lot of things left unexplained. It doesn't follow every time that "god did it."

          • Maxximiliann

            It also doesn't mean that God is necessarily excluded.

          • Logike

            I didn't say it means God must be excluded. I said it doesn't mean he must be included.

            That's not saying the same thing.

          • Glenn54321

            This might be the first time in the history of Disqus that an argument over religion diffused into peaceful agreement... take a screenie before they delete it!

          • Glenn54321

            I spoke too soon... dangit

          • Glenn54321

            Exactly. It means it's a competing theory, not a fact. We just don't know. For some, the preponderance of evidence from naturalism is enough for them to conclude it's so unlikely as to be off the table (hard atheism).

            I have so far found that the "heat" behind so many bitter exchanges on this topic have to do with the assumption that people like me are trying to exclude it, while some assume people like you will not consider any other possibility. rational discourse is hard to come by on this issue.

            We all should be willing to admit, however, that at the end of it all, we cannot be absolutely sure. These "proofs" from Aquinas contain many base assumptions that were difficult to challenge in the 13th century. They are no longer hard to dismiss.

          • Maxximiliann

            Thing is we can be sure :)

            Irrefutable Evidence for the Necessary Existence of God: http://bit.ly/1197U6R

          • Glenn54321

            so... close... Oh well.

            No we can't. If there were irrefutable evidence, then whence commeth atheism?

            If we can all be so sure, why do Christians disagree about this? Let's say you made a list of all the things you - Maxximilian - are sure about with regard to your faith. Then you started to cross out the lines that other serious Christians disagree with (hell, for example) I'd be willing to bet your list would be 1 line long: "there is a god." You'd be sure about nothing else just by doing that one exercise.

            I am saying, too, that even that one line doesn't have a solid basis. I and others have - in this very article - explained why the Kalam Cosmological Argument (and derivatives) are not airtight. This is the first argument offered at the link you've provided, as well as Dr Craig's "big gun". But, I suppose you can stay in your Aristotelian corner, plug your ears, shut your eyes and scream "It's proven!" all you want. ...It's just not.

            Do you really think that someone can just sit sit down, think really hard, write some logic down and expect to have arrived at the objective truth about reality? In doing so, the thinker must be willing to discard enormous volumes of counter arguments, ignore the refutation of their own premises, and skip past actual evidence in both day to day life, history, as well as the laboratory. Any one of these points alone are a basis question the too-simple sterility of the specific theist's case. Taken together these push the arguments to the point of near-nullity.

            Anyway... At the end of the day, if you draw comfort from them and they provide you the basis for all you need to know about life; great. But please be aware that you "know" a great deal less than you've asserted to know in these exchanges. You've proven nothing to anyone else because you're actively ignoring other (perhaps better) theories. Your life and the meaning you derive from it may in fact be diminished by doing this. ...That's what I found to be the case for me when, in the past, I was doing what you are doing.

          • Maxximiliann

            Atheism exists, not because there exists irrefutable evidence of God's nonexistence, but because of all the religious hypocrisy pervading human history.

          • Glenn54321

            Only hard atheists claim that there is no god. None can prove it -- even the most famous hard atheists alive (i.e. Dawkins) admit this. They take the atheist position because god has failed to have any explanatory power for anything anymore.

            The real topic is likelihood of god's existence. Then, stacked on top of that, is the likelihood that any particular understanding of god is the correct one. This makes any one particular belief system (i.e. Jehova's Whitnesses) to be extremely unlikely based on probability theory alone. Given that no one can provide evidence outside of historical documentation and personal feelings, I think this is a valid objective measure -- especially since it's supposedly about a god who is full of love and wants a relationship with us individually.

            For instance, being extremely generous and assuming that god's existence is 100% likely, then we can only say that Christianity is about 21.5% likely to be true (~1.5 billion members out of 7 billion on Earth). Then, given that JWs have about 8 million adherants, they are only 0.5% likely to be true IF AND ONLY IF Christianity is true. Since many Christian sects reject JWs as actual Christians (as they also do with SDA and LDS) then the likelihood falls to 0.1%. This is far outweighed by the number of atheists and agnostics in the world.

            You seem to be claiming that greater than 99.9% of the population disagrees with you because spiritual leaders can be hypocritical. Is this right? If so, this is a wildly simplistic characterization of why people don't believe the way you do. It's the kind of thing theists tell themselves about atheists in order to not have to take a hard look at why they disagree. It's a self-affirmation. I am agnostic because of the evidence at hand. Not because some spiritual leaders have failed. Many, many people are like me.

          • Maxximiliann

            Why is there anything, then, instead of just nothing at all?

          • Glenn54321

            This is the most common argument from ignorance that exists.

            I don't know. No one does.

          • Maxximiliann

            Except that the work of Science is not to say "I do not know". The work of the scientist is to propose possible theories that explain the phenomena observed. It is, after all, omniscient and infallible ...

          • Glenn54321

            I know you're being snarky about this but please understand this -- The work of science is to start with the proposition "I don't know." Only then can one form hypotheses and conduct experiments which seek to *disprove* those hypotheses. That's a key point -- the process of science is constantly seeking to disprove its ideas so that only the areas of possibility remain. Hypotheses which survive this process are promoted to theories.

            What they do NOT do is start with "I do know" and then propose experiments which seek to *confirm* their hypotheses. That is the common method in theism and is one of the reasons these two approaches to reality are constantly at loggerheads.

          • Maxximiliann

            Instead of delusions of omniscience, then, shouldn’t the fact that the sciences are not infallible nor omniscient lead you to humility rather than contemptuousness and openness rather than bigotry?

          • Glenn54321

            When you understand the process of science and watch it in action, it is indeed humble and openly acknowledges it's limits. The highest pinnacle of a scientist is when he/she can overturn and accepted theory -- discarding mountains of work and shifting whole paradigms. That is the constant goal -- to find the truth no matter what that means. To be always ready to say "I'm wrong. My life's work was wrong" is to be both humble and courageous. This is the ideal state of a scientist yet, in my experience, seems to be the opposite of the disposition required by a typical devout believer. The believer usually starts with the answer and purges their life and mind of things which pose a threat to that answer.

            What can often look like arrogance and contemptuousness is when people try to mix ideology with science. They don't mix. So when theistic presuppositions try to creep in (like when the Discovery Institute tries to publish papers about a 6,000 year old earth with fraudulent data) there is typically an explosive rejection. Also, science does not suffer those who begin with a "fact" and then structure experiments to reaffirm the "fact." That can appear as arrogance when it is just the process rejecting corruption.

            It would be about the same thing if, say, the feds tried to tell the JWs how to structure their services... it would not go over well, would it?

          • Maxximiliann

            And what if the truth is God Almighty? What then?

          • Glenn54321

            This question doesn't make any sense. Can you be more specific?

          • Maxximiliann

            "A little knowledge of science makes man an atheist, but an in-depth study of science makes him a believer in God." - Francis Bacon

            “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”

            “I believe that the more thoroughly science is studied, the further does it take us from anything comparable to atheism.”

            “If you study science deep enough and long enough, it will force you to believe in God.”

            –Lord William Kelvin, who was noted for his theoretical work on thermodynamics, the concept of absolute zero and the Kelvin temperature scale based upon it.

            That's what I mean.

          • Glenn54321

            This is what is known as the "Argument from Authority" fallacy. In other words -- "Because someone said so, therefore: God"

            I am sure you can imagine that I would have no trouble replying with an equally valid list of quotes from people who completely contradict your list of quotes.

            It's a silly and meaningless exercise and serves only to expose your own unwillingness to think and argue for yourself. You sound like an automaton.

          • Maxximiliann

            I used those quotes to show that, far from being delusional, belief in the necessity of God's existence is completely rational.

          • Glenn54321

            I've never said it wasn't -- so long as the concept of god is contained to the idea that some force we don't know anything about started the universe. Beyond that, yes, there is a wide field of delusion and irrational, unsupported belief. As I've said before, if these anthropomorphic claims about god were true, then we'd have much more to go on than some ancient book that no one can agree about.

            For example -- If your spouse claimed to love you more than anything in the world, but demonstrated that by writing you a long, confusing, sometimes threatening, contradictory, and abstract note, followed by completely vacating your life to never interact with you verbally or physically again... would you consider that "love?" I hope not. That's the description of a "break up" or, at best, someone who has absolutely no idea how human beings experience loving relationships.

          • Maxximiliann

            “The vulgar modern argument used against religion, and lately against common decency, would be absolutely fatal to any idea of liberty. It is perpetually said that because there are a hundred religions claiming to be true, it is therefore impossible that one of them should really be true.

            The argument would appear on the face of it to be illogical, if anyone nowadays troubled about logic. It would be as reasonable to say that because some people thought the earth was flat, and others (rather less incorrectly) imagined it was round, and because anybody is free to say that it is triangular or hexagonal, or a rhomboid, therefore it has no shape at all; or its shape can never be discovered; and, anyhow, modern science must be wrong in saying it is an oblate spheroid. The world must be some shape, and it must be that shape and no other; and it is not self-evident that nobody can possibly hit on the right one.

            What so obviously applies to the material shape of the world equally applies to the moral shape of the universe. The man who describes it may not be right, but it is no argument against his rightness that a number of other people must be wrong.”

            ― G.K. Chesterton

          • Nothing is infallible.

          • Maxximiliann

            Certainly not any of the Sciences ...

          • Glenn54321

            Honestly: no.

            "I don't know" is a perfectly respectable answer. (They're working on it and have made some impressive progress, in point of fact.)

            "I don't know. Therefore; God" however, is not a good answer. That is essentially my entire point.

          • Logike

            He is not required to provide an explanation where one is needed. But that an explanation is lacking doesn't entail any old explanation will do, either. This would be an argument from ignorance.

        • Maxximiliann

          Over the years, skeptics have challenged— and continue to challenge— the Bible’s accuracy regarding the names of people, events and places it mentions. Time and again, though, evidence has shown such skepticism to be unwarranted. The Bible record, therefore, is wholly factual.

          For example, at one time scholars doubted the existence of Assyrian King Sargon, mentioned at Isaiah 20:1. However, in the 1840’s, archaeologists began unearthing the palace of this king. Now, Sargon is one of the best-known Assyrian kings.

          Critics questioned the existence of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who ordered Jesus’death. (Matthew 27:1, 22-24) But in 1961 a stone bearing Pilate’s name and rank was discovered near the city of Caesarea in Israel.

          Before 1993, there was no extra-biblical evidence to support the historicity of David, the brave young shepherd who later became king of Israel. That year, however, archaeologists uncovered in northern Israel a basalt stone, dated to the ninth century B.C.E., that experts say bears the words “House of David” and “king of Israel.”

          Until recently, many scholars doubted the accuracy of the Bible’s account of the nation of Edom battling with Israel in the time of David. (2 Samuel 8:13, 14) Edom, they argued, was a simple pastoral society at the time and did not become sufficiently organized or have the might to threaten Israel until much later. However, recent excavations indicate that “Edom was a complex society centuries earlier [than previously thought], as reflected in the Bible,” states an article in the journal Biblical Archaeology Review.

          There were many rulers on the world stage during the 16 centuries that the Bible was being written. When the Bible refers to a ruler, it always uses the proper title. For example, it correctly refers to Herod Antipas as “district ruler” and Gallio as “proconsul.” (Luke 3:1; Acts 18:12) Ezra 5:6 refers to Tattenai, the governor of the Persian province “beyond the River,” the Euphrates River. A coin produced in the fourth century B.C.E. contains a similar description, identifying the Persian governor Mazaeus as ruler of the province “Beyond the River.”

          Regarding the historical accuracy of the Bible, the October 25, 1999, issue of U.S.News & World Report said: “In extraordinary ways, modern archaeology has affirmed the historical core of the Old and New Testaments— corroborating key portions of the stories of Israel’s patriarchs, the Exodus, the Davidic monarchy, and the life and times of Jesus.” While faith in the Bible does not hinge on archaeological discoveries, such historical accuracy is what you would expect of a book inspired by God.

          Even more staggering, however, is the fact that there’s more historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Christ than there is for evolution. In fact, any denial of the historicity of Christ’s resurrection is comparable to denying the US declared its independence in 1776 or that Columbus landed in America in 1492.

          In his book "The Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus", Michael Licona provides a list of scholars who attest to the historicity of Christ’s death and resurrection which includes Brodeur, Collins, Conzelman, Fee, Gundry, Harris, Hayes, Hèring, Hurtado, Johnson, Kistemaker, Lockwood, Martin, Segal, Snyder, Thiselton, Witherington, and Wright.

          Concordantly, British scholar N. T. Wright states, "As a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.” (N. T. Wright, “The New Unimproved Jesus,” Christianity Today (September 13, 1993)), p. 26.

          Even Gert L¸demann, the leading German critic of the resurrection, himself admits, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”(Gerd L¸demann, What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 80.)

          These are just a minute sampling from the massive throng of scholars whose research attests the historicity of Christ’s resurrection - http://amzn.to/13MQiTE http://bit.ly/18UraA6

          Prominently, in his book, “Justifying Historical Descriptions”, historian C. B. McCullagh lists six tests which historians use in determining what is the best explanation for given historical facts. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” passes all these tests:

          1. It has great explanatory scope: it explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and why the Christian faith came into being.

          2. It has great explanatory power: it explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution, and so forth.

          3. It is plausible: given the historical context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation of those radical claims.

          4. It is not ad hoc or contrived: it requires only one additional hypothesis: that God exists. And even that needn’t be an additional hypothesis if one already believes that God exists.

          5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The statement: “God raised Jesus from the dead” doesn’t in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead. The Christian accepts that belief as wholeheartedly as he accepts the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.

          6. It far outstrips any of its rival hypotheses in meeting conditions (1)-(5). Down through history various alternative explanations of the facts have been offered, for example, the conspiracy hypothesis, the apparent death hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. None of these naturalistic hypotheses succeeds in meeting the conditions as well as an actual, historical resurrection.

          • Glenn54321

            You are quite misinformed and in error. It is hard to know where to start except to say that you need to hear from some sources which don't simply affirm your position.

          • Maxximiliann

            I'm more than happy to rectify any incorrect view provided, of course, you present evidence of my error instead of mere hand-waving ...

          • Glenn54321

            OK. Here's one that's going to be hard for you to refute. Please avoid the temptation to resort to ad hominem and grab some popcorn:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5MUUP4l6l4

        • Maxximiliann

          The Hellfire doctrine is a perverse Antichrist mendacity that defames God. As a God of justice and love he would never prescribe infinite punishment for a finite crime no matter how wicked: http://bit.ly/17fVMYm

          • Glenn54321

            So we're all automatically saved then? Good news! Carry on.

          • Glenn54321

            The more I think about this response, the more perplexed I become at your position.

            Clearly you've put a great deal of energy into this topic. Your responses are well thought out and expressed (even though I disagree with them). Yet, in this position, you've effectively removed the motive to make this entire topic any more than a passing thought or just an opportunity to have an engaging discussion with someone... which is fine I suppose.

            If there is no threat of hell, then why would it matter where the universe came from or where we're going? What is your position on the afterlife?

          • Maxximiliann

            It matters because of the promise of everlasting life on Paradise Earth. bit.ly/18CngYk bit.ly/15XCebD

            I, for one, don't ever want to die, do you?

          • Glenn54321

            Ahhhh, yes... the JWs. Ok, well, I don't want to leap down this particular rabbit hole since that would be waaaaaay off topic. If you'd like to engage me on this subject, I am happy to do so -- but we should do it elsewhere.

            The only thing I can say to your specific point is: what I want is irrelevant in this context. Rather, what is true is what is relevant. Just because I might not want to die and cease to exist has no bearing on whether that is what will happen or not.

          • Maxximiliann

            It's Jehovah God's promise and He never lies :)

          • Glenn54321

            Yikes.

            Ok. At this point, only one of two things seem to be true.

            1 - You're trolling
            or
            2 - You have no real interest in discussing anything in order to arrive at deeper understandings. You started this conversation with me in order to tell me why you're 100% right and are not interested in understanding any position other than your own.

            Either way, this conversation has now become pointless unless you're willing to express your own opinions -- I can argue with a watchtower tract any time I feel like it.

          • Maxximiliann

            All right, let's take a step back then. Have you always been agnostic?

          • Glenn54321

            Fair enough. I'll bite.

            I spent over 10 years of my adult life as a devout Christian, beginning after the year 2000. I prayed fervently, read scripture, actively promoted the faith, and assisted with the conversion of several people. I converted as an adult and lived it actively.

          • Maxximiliann

            What happened to change all that?

          • Glenn54321

            I elaborated on that in a previous response (it begins with "Unavoidable, perhaps. Meaningful, maybe not."). Please read that.

            I had a friend who was also devout, but then went to atheism. In the process of trying to win him back, I had to put my straw men aside about what I assumed that position meant in order to understand how he could have "fallen away". When I did that, my eyes were finally wide open and I was able to see both sides of the argument. I was able to shed my arrogant stereotyping of "the sin loving, evil atheist" and finally see what the Christian proposition looks like from the outside. I was simply able to see both arguments objectively and compare them. It was clear and I had to face the fact that Christianity is an unsupported proposition, an ineffective view of the modern world, and has no power to effect anything beyond this world.

            What about you? Why JW?

          • Maxximiliann

            I decided to become a Jehovah's Witness after having carefully studied the Bible and comparing it to their beliefs. I learned that it was the only religion whose body of teachings were firmly supported by Scripture.

          • Glenn54321

            How do you explain the 99.9% (at least) of other Christians who disagree with your conclusions?

          • Maxximiliann

            Did you know Christ predicted this circumstance at Matthew 7:13,14?

          • Glenn54321

            Slam dunk. Surely because Christ said few would find the way, it must mean that it only applies to JWs. Sure. Maybe if Christians had "a [single] way" then you could make an argument... but do you realize that as a JW you're way, way out on a limb as far as other Christians go? And then, to decide that this might be compelling to someone who doesn't regard the bible as something special? Not in the slightest.

            How about this --

            How many witches have you killed? (Exodus 22:18)
            Would you be happy smashing in a baby's head, even if it was your enemy's baby? (Psalm 137:9)
            Are you supposed to not tempt god? (Deuteronomy 6:16, Matthew 4:7, Luke 4:12)
            ...or tempt him? (1 Kings 18:36-38, Judges 6:36-40, 2 Kings 20:8-11)
            In some circumstances, should you have your daughters raped by a mob or impregnate them? (Genesis)

            etc...

            At the end of the day, you've got a bible (a JW version no less which has been obviously altered in a laughably biased way) which says all a bunch of abhorrent and obscure things and you actually think that you have arrived at something resembling truth? Put the kool-aid down, man. This is near insanity.

          • Maxximiliann

            Wasn't Christ "way out on a limb as far as other" Jews went? Still, his way was the correct path as evidenced by God's own expressed approval of his acts. The same applies today to Jehovah's Witnesses.

          • Glenn54321

            ...and Mormons. and Seventh Day Adventists. and the Westboro Baptist Church. All of these orgs think that their small size and departure from the norm represent some kind of evidence that they're on the right track. One wonders what would happen if those churches became the dominant point of view for Christianity.

            If you're serious about this, take an hour of your time and listen to this. I promise that it is respectful:

            http://www.doubtcast.org/podcast/rd91_view_from_the_watchtower.mp3

          • Maxximiliann

            Of the earliest Christians very many were compelled to admit , "See , said they , how they love one another , and are ready to lay down their lives for each other ." ( Tertulian , Apology c . 39 ) History demonstrates the exact same can certainly be proclaimed of Jehovah's Witnesses .

            “Suffice it to say that if all the world lived by the creed of the Jehovah Witnesses there would be an end of bloodshed and hatred, and love would reign as king!”- “The Sacramento Union”

            “The work of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the revival and re-establishment of the primitive Christianity practised by Jesus and his disciples . . . All are brothers.” - “The Encyclopedia Canadiana”

            “I have come to the conclusion that if Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only ones living on the earth, wars would cease to exist, and the only duties of the policemen would be to control traffic and to issue passports.” - “Gyűrű”

            Contrastingly , the moral deprivation that dominates the churches of Christendom - as has grown to become everyday fodder in the news of late - is incontrovertible proof of their the lack of success in creating authentic Christians of exceptional conduct - 1 Peter 2 :12 . The handful that happen to be are the exception , not the standard . All this “worthless fruit” is the cause for such a great number to turn their backs on God Almighty to adopt Atheism , Witchcraft and even Islam ( Matthew 7 :15-17 ) .

            Jehovah's Witnesses, on the other hand, are “no part of the world ,” not split up by ethnicity or even customs and show ‘love among themselves .’ ( John 13 :35 ; 17 :16 ; Acts 10 :34 , 35 ) Instead of harming each other in ruthless wars, they really are prepared to be killed for one other .—1 John 3 :16 . Truth be told , certainly no other religion as multi-culturally diversified or worldwide as the Jehovah's Witnesses delights in the very same warm, kindly love they genuinely show for each other .

            Rather than being "intolerant and divisive ," true religion , based upon the Scriptures , is "broadly inclusive ." The apostle Peter stressed : "God is not partial , but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him ."—Acts 10 :34 , 35 . With more than 7 .5 MILLION+ active members in 236 countries these are an intercontinental brotherhood joined in loving , peaceful devotion to Jesus' God , Jehovah . http ://bit .ly/pHfvRj

            The affection , joy and happiness , harmony , warmth , goodness and conviction felt in their company is really so penetrating , thorough and moving it's palpable . It's as though you had been miraculously transported to Paradise .

          • Glenn54321

            Ok. You and I have beaten a dead horse in this forum. If you haven't listened to the interview I posted/linked then please stop responding.

          • Maxximiliann

            Folks who claim that the Earth is flat also present rationales and justifications for their stance . All of them opt to turn a blind eye to the enormous and persuasive evidence for a spherical Earth . All the same , they're invulnerable to hard facts together with logic . They cling to their view with such frenzied desperation and despair they won't let go despite whatever anyone explains , regardless of the good reasons or arguments they're presented with .

            Seems very clear to me that you happen to be very much like those advocates of a Flat Earth . Sure , you showcase reasons and arguments for your view but the truth is you parrot the same exact defeated reasons and arguments which have been around for the past century or two while at the same time avoiding the most apparent facts and arguments that refute your position . I'm not going to kick a menhir then announce I've belied your amphigory no more than I'm keen on convincing a Flat Earth exponent that the planet is truly spherical .

            You are free to go your way desperately believing what benighted or moonstruck ideas you desire . All the best !

          • Glenn54321

            http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3b/Paris_Tuileries_Garden_Facepalm_statue.jpg

            I promise you that you're not the one coming off as intellectually sound in this discussion.. I once again implore you to listen to the JW interview:

            http://www.doubtcast.org/podcast/rd91_view_from_the_watchtower.mp3

            I can assert, in all possible terms, that one who reviews the available data on Christianity and concludes that the JWs are the ones who got it right has serious flaws in their ability to reason and interact with reality.

          • Maxximiliann

            Which, of course, I know is bunk because I've proudly been one of Jehovah's Witnesses for DECADES :)

          • Glenn54321

            lol - If you mean this as a proof against my point, then all I can say is: QED

          • Maxximiliann

            The fact is that, for each of the dates commonly touted by critics as ‘false prophecies’ (1874, 1914, 1925, 1975), Watch Tower publications had published cautionary statements to the effect that it was by no means certain what would happen. Consider, for example, the following statements, which emphasize that the basis for the conclusions was Bible study not some message from God:

            With regard to 1874: It should be noted that ‘The Watchtower’ was not published until 1879 and Russell himself did not become aware of the 1874 date until 1876! So it was hardly a matter of a failed prediction.

            With regard to 1914: : "We are not prophesying; we are merely giving our surmises . . . We do not even aver that there is no mistake in our interpretation of prophecy and our calculations of chronology. We have merely laid these before you, leaving it for each to exercise his own faith or doubt in respect to them" (emphasis added).[2]

            With regard to 1925: "The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year. This may be accomplished. It may not be. In his own due time God will accomplish his purposes concerning his people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire this year."[3]

            With regard to 1975: ‘What about the year 1975? What is it going to mean, dear friends?’ asked Brother Franz. ‘Does it mean that Armageddon is going to be finished, with Satan bound, by 1975? It could! It could! All things are possible with God. Does it mean that Babylon the Great is going to go down by 1975? It could. Does it mean that the attack of Gog of Magog is going to be made on Jehovah’s witnesses to wipe them out, then Gog himself will be put out of action? It could. But we are not saying. All things are possible with God. But we are not saying. And don’t any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975.[4]

            It’s obvious, therefore, that the situation was by no means as clear-cut as Watchtower opposers would have us believe. By omitting these more cautionary statements, many of which are in the same articles as the quotations they like to print, enemies of Jehovah’s Witnesses give a misleading picture of events and endeavour to make a suggested interpretation look like a prophecy.

            Not to be overlooked is the larger context of the role of the Watch Tower publications. Whereas Watchtower writers undoubtedly pray for God’s blessing on their work and sincerely believe that God answers these prayers, they make no pretensions of being inspired, infallible or perfect. Consider the following extracts from Watch Tower publications, which prove that this is the case. (This is just a small selection of examples. Many more could be cited, but care has been taken to include at least one example for every decade since The Watchtower began to be published.)

            1870s: We do not object to changing our opinions on any subject, or discarding former applications of prophecy, or any other scripture, when we see a good reason for the change,—in fact, it is important that we should be willing to unlearn errors and mere traditions, as to learn truth.... It is our duty to "prove all things."—by the unerring Word,—"and hold fast to that which is good."

            1880s: “We have not the gift of prophecy.”[5]

            1890s: Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible, or on a par with the holy Scriptures. The most we claim or have ever claimed for our teachings is that they are what we believe to be harmonious interpretations of the divine Word, in harmony with the spirit of the truth. And we still urge, as in the past, that each reader study the subjects we present in the light of the Scriptures, proving all things by the Scriptures, accepting what they see to be thus approved, and rejecting all else. It is to this end, to enable the student to trace the subject in the divinely inspired Record, that we so freely intersperse both quotations and citations of the Scriptures upon which to build.[6]

            1900s: It is not our intention to enter upon the role of prophet to any degree, but merely to give below what seems to us rather likely to be the trend of events—giving also the reasons for our expectations.[7]

            Someone may ask, Do you, then, claim infallibility and that every sentence appearing in "The Watch Tower" publications is stated with absolute correctness? Assuredly we make no such claim and have never made such a claim. What motive can our opponents have in so charging against us? Are they not seeking to set up a falsehood to give themselves excuse for making attacks and to endeavor to pervert the judgments of others?[8]

            1910s: However, we should not denounce those who in a proper spirit express their dissent in respect to the date mentioned [1914] and what may there be expected . . . We must admit that there are possibilities of our having made a mistake in respect to the chronology, even though we do not see where any mistake has been made in calculating the seven times of the Gentiles as expiring about October 1, 1914.[9]

            1920s: Many students have made the grievous mistake of thinking that God has inspired men to interpret prophecy. The holy prophets of the Old Testament were inspired by Jehovah to write as his power moved upon them. The writers of the New Testament were clothed with certain power and authority to write as the Lord directed them. However, since the days of the apostles no man on earth has been inspired to write prophecy, nor has any man been inspired to interpret prophecy.[10]

            1930s: We are not a prophet; we merely believe that we have come to the place where the Gentile times have ended[11]

            1940s: This pouring out of God's spirit upon the flesh of all his faithful anointed witnesses does not mean those now serving as Jehovah's Witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes. It does not mean that the president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society is inspired and infallible, although enemies falsely charge us with believing so.... But we confess with the Scriptures that the day of such inspiration passed long before 1870, as the apostle Paul showed it would. . . . Inspired speaking and writing passed away with the last of the twelve apostles, by whom the gifts of the spirit were imparted to others. Yet God is still able to teach and lead us. While confessing no inspiration for today for anyone on earth, we do have the privilege of praying God for more of his holy spirit and for his guidance of us by the bestowal of his spirit through Jesus Christ.[12]

            1950s: The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic. It invites careful and critical examination of its contents in the light of the Scriptures.[13]

            1960s: The book [Life Everlasting in Freedom of Sons of God] merely presents the chronology. You can accept it or reject it[14]

            “Don't any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975“ F. W. Franz, quoted in The Watchtower, 15 October 1966, page 231.

            1970s: In this regard, however, it must be observed that this “faithful and discreet slave” was never inspired, never perfect. Those writings by certain members of the “slave” class that came to form the Christian part of God’s Word were inspired and infallible, but that is not true of other writings since. Things published were not perfect in the days of Charles Taze Russell, first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society; nor were they perfect in the days of J. F. Rutherford, the succeeding president. The increasing light on God’s Word as well as the facts of history have repeatedly required that adjustments of one kind or another be made down to the very present time.[16]

            1980s: It is not claimed that the explanations in this publication are infallible. Like Joseph of old, we say: “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Genesis 40:8) At the same time, however, we firmly believe that the explanations set forth herein harmonize with the Bible in its entirety, showing how remarkably divine prophecy has been fulfilled in the world events of our catastrophic times.[17]

            1990s: Those who make up the one true Christian organization today do not have angelic revelations or divine inspiration. But they do have the inspired Holy Scriptures, which contain revelations of God’s thinking and will. As an organization and individually, they must accept the Bible as divine truth, study it carefully, and let it work in them.[18]

            2000s: Although the slave class is defined as “faithful and discreet,” Jesus did not say that it would be infallible. This group of faithful anointed brothers still consists of imperfect Christians. Even with the best of intentions, they can be mistaken, as such men sometimes were in the first century.[19]

            It’s therefore quite clear that Jehovah’s Witnesses make no claim to divine inspiration for their publications. Thus, the critics' assertion that “the Watch Tower claims to be an inspired prophet” is manifestly false.

            http://bit.ly/qWK8dm

          • Glenn54321

            Another cut-paste. thanks. This contains no original content from your own brain.

            Assuming you're still listening and not just a well-trained JW bot - How would you classify the myriad failed prophecies of the Mormons? How about the SDAs?

            Don't you think that, for every single one, they have a similar list of excuses, backpedaling and justifications? They do. One or all of these three groups must be wrong as they are contradictory. Thus, to retain members, they must create internally consistent narratives like this so that the members don't need to dig any deeper.

            If you want to know the truth, you will need to examine sources which explicitly disagree with you and then see if you can overcome their points. I doubt you would do this, since you'd be risking disciplinary action by the JW authority... which is one good reason (among many) not to trust them...

            I feel very sorry for you. You've aligned yourself with a group which consumes lives, shuns people, brazenly encourages ignorance, and squelches the joy of life's events. It will be a happy day when it ends up in the dustbin of history.

          • Maxximiliann

            “During the genocide of Tutsi and Hutu living in Rwanda, there were Hutu who risked their lives to protect Tutsi and Tutsi who protected Hutu. Some were killed by extremists for protecting their fellow believers. For example, a Hutu Witness named Gahizi was killed after hiding a Tutsi sister named Chantal. Chantal’s Tutsi husband, Jean, was hidden in another location by a Hutu sister named Charlotte. For 40 days Jean and another Tutsi brother remained hidden in a large chimney, only coming out for brief periods during the night. All this time, Charlotte provided them with food and protection, although living close to a Hutu army camp. On this page, you can see a picture of a reunited Jean and Chantal, who are thankful that their Hutu fellow worshipers ‘risked their necks’ for them, just as Prisca and Aquila did for the apostle Paul.—Romans 16:3, 4.

            Another Hutu Witness, Rwakabubu, was praised by the newspaper Intaremara for protecting Tutsi fellow believers. It stated: “There is also Rwakabubu, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who continued to hide people here and there among his brothers (that’s how fellow believers call one another). He used to spend the whole day long carrying food and drinking water for them though he is an asthmatic. But God made him extraordinarily strong.”

            Consider, too, an interested Hutu couple named Nicodeme and Athanasie. Before the outbreak of genocide, this married couple had been studying the Bible with a Tutsi Witness named Alphonse. At the risk of their lives, they hid Alphonse in their home. Later they realized that the house was not a safe place because their Hutu neighbors knew about their Tutsi friend. Therefore, Nicodeme and Athanasie hid Alphonse in a hole in their yard. This was a good move because the neighbors began to come searching for Alphonse almost every day. While lying in this hole for 28 days, Alphonse meditated on Bible accounts such as the one about Rahab, who hid two Israelites on the roof of her house in Jericho. (Joshua 6:17) Today Alphonse continues his service in Rwanda as a preacher of the good news, thankful that his Hutu Bible students risked their lives for him. And what about Nicodeme and Athanasie? They are now baptized Witnesses of Jehovah and conduct over 20 Bible studies with interested persons. - “Sharing the Comfort That Jehovah Provides”

            Of the earliest Christians very many were compelled to admit , "See , said they , how they love one another , and are ready to lay down their lives for each other ." ( Tertulian , Apology c . 39 ) History demonstrates the exact same can certainly be proclaimed of Jehovah's Witnesses .

            “Suffice it to say that if all the world lived by the creed of the Jehovah Witnesses there would be an end of bloodshed and hatred, and love would reign as king!”- “The Sacramento Union”

            “The work of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the revival and re-establishment of the primitive Christianity practised by Jesus and his disciples . . . All are brothers.” - “The Encyclopedia Canadiana”

            “I have come to the conclusion that if Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only ones living on the earth, wars would cease to exist, and the only duties of the policemen would be to control traffic and to issue passports.” - “Gyűrű”

          • Glenn54321

            lol... keep 'em comin. Soon you'll have pasted all existing the JW propaganda into Disqus. This should be a mighty test of their disk capacity.

          • Maxximiliann

            If you want to know the truth, you will need to examine sources which explicitly disagree with you and then see if you can overcome their points.

            Do you honestly believe you're the first person - or the last - whose challenged my closely held beliefs? I've been one of Jehovah's Witnesses for DECADES! You've presented nothing I haven't defeated countless times before.

          • Glenn54321

            Change "defeated" to "ignored" and we agree. I mean this in all seriousness. You've shown that you're an expert at copy/paste and not a whole lot else.

          • Maxximiliann

            If you can't see and admit how much you've already conceded then there's no point in wasting any more of my time.

            http://bit.ly/1amWMed

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Welcome to the year nineteen hundred and eighty-four

          • Glenn54321

            I've been amused all day by this "DECADES" remark... always in caps...

            It's as if you're arguing that, not only are you unfamiliar with the argument from authority fallacy, but that you'd like me to consider you an authority and commit the same fallacy by succumbing to this reasoning. I might be going out on a limb, but this kind of bedrock in your worldview makes me wonder if you're someone with a very large ego and isn't used to being wrong about anything (or, at least, very rarely humble enough to admit it).

            That you would use such a retort exposes a rather large weakness in your case. Why would anyone consider either you or the longevity of your devotion to something to be anything other than a single vote among 7 billion? That's really all it means, after all...

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Have you not read "The Maniac", chapter 2 of Chesterton's "Orthodoxy"? It is tragically prophetic of your current conversation with Max.

          • Glenn54321

            LOL, thanks. I hadn't until now... a skimming indicates it is well on point. I'll have to read further.

            I do have sympathy though. I used to be the madman too. Looking back, only a small handful of people could have taken my cognitive dissonance and forced me to look at it head on. I am very glad I did.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            And of course, Chesterton doesn't advise abandoning the madman, but rather than arguing with him simply pointing out, as he puts it, that his "world is too small".
            I think a lot of men go through a "madman" phase, particularly when young. Unfortunately many never do broaden their horizons, or think outside their box.

          • Maxximiliann

            I could be wrong about a lot of things but I'm not wrong about this because my faith is regularly challenged by the likes of individuals like yourself and it only comes out stronger than before.

          • Glenn54321

            Did you see the comment about "the madman" by Chesterton? Good read.

          • Maxximiliann

            Link?

          • Glenn54321

            It may have been a misquote by the previous poster, but here is the page I found relevant and to which I believe he was referring:

            http://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Gilbert_K_Chesterton/Orthodoxy/The_Maniac_p4.html

          • Maxximiliann

            Alright then, go ahead and give my stance some "air." *

          • Maxximiliann

            You misapprehend. To whom were those ancient laws given?

          • Glenn54321

            That's easy -- No one. The laws were invented and documented, not given.

            I suspect you want me to say "the Jews" here. Instead, one needs to consider the origins of these books (what we know about them anyway) and compare the tales to other mythologies at the time. It's just mythology intertwined with some laws and customs that the culture invented.

            An example -- one of many. (Leviticus 14):
            The biblical remedy for mold in your house was to evacuate and wait a week. If it was still there, you need to tear your house down. If the mold stopped spreading then split a bird in half and splatter some of it's blood on the wall to "purify it."

            If god (the architect of the universe, DNA, life, mold, etc..) was behind this, then 1 - he failed to realize that the bloody mixture might actually assist in the mold growth, and 2 - did not tell them that lemon juice and salt would have actually worked to kill the mold. Conclusion? The Jews were making this kind of stuff up and saying "God said so."

          • Maxximiliann

            "he laws were invented and documented, not given."

            Do you have any hard evidence to back up your outlandish claim?

          • Maxximiliann

            Your committing what's known as the naturalistic fallacy. The narratives you reference in Psalm and Genesis are descriptive in nature, not prescriptive.

          • Glenn54321

            I don't think so. That would apply if the psalm about butchering babies, for example, called these things "good." Instead, the psalm describes the emotion of the blessed murderer: "happy."

            Unless you mean that by me calling these things "bad" I am engaging the fallacy because it happens to describe and endorse something repugnant and cannot, therefore, be "good". Is that you mean?

            Smashing babies against rocks is *never* a good thing. If you disagree then I think you should say so clearly.

          • Maxximiliann

            You're fallaciously arguing from is to ought. Again, that Psalm and the passages in Genesis are undeniably descriptive in nature, not prescriptive. The simply tell us what is/was. They are not commands instructing us on what ought to be.

        • Maxximiliann

          Were you aware that there are literally ** thousands ** of ancient Bible manuscripts - in the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine - available today in museums the world over? In fact, no other ancient writings are as well attested to as the Bible's. When you compare these manuscripts to modern Bibles it's unmistakable how accurately these render the ancient texts. As such, any fears of tampering or errata are unwarranted.

          • Glenn54321

            Really... Who wrote Matthew?

  • mriehm

    Assuming, as Catholics do, that God started the Big Bang, you don't need any more than that plus the laws of physics.There is no difference between this argument, and the efficient causality argument from the last post.

    • Mike

      is it more reasonable to assume that nothing caused the big bang? the default at least should be "agent" and if agent the best option is christian god as no other religion makes such strong claims, no?

      • mriehm

        I tried to make my point much too briefly and I was unclear.

        Trying to clarify now: if you trace back the causal chain, from moved mover to moved mover, ..., all the way back to the unmoved "mover", you've found the Big Bang. There is no need for anything other than the laws of nature after that event. All subsequent movement, physical or not, can be explained as natural phenomena, and do not require supernatural explanation.

        Therefore the argument can be reduced to, "what caused the universe to spring into being?" Which is the same question as the last post, on efficient causality.

        • Mike

          i see your point...yes ultimately all of these sorts of question i think "boil down" to: why is there something rather than nothing and from there you can choose "something supernatural" or "it just is"...now i know a total over simplification but ultimately i honestly think that's what i comes down to...we all have our biases something internal that seems to nudget us to one or the other.

        • Maxximiliann

          “Ex nihilo nihil fit .” Put plainly , something can't originate from absolutely nothing . ( Not Hawking’s as well as Krauss’ mendacious pseudo-definition of “nothing,” ( “The Grand Design”/ ”A Universe From Nothing“ ) however the notion that signifies no state of affairs , interactions , potentialities , qualities , that is, stated more forcefully , no “anything” . ) If it actually could , why don’t all kinds of things come from nothingness ? Just why aren't dinosaurs , for example , popping out of thin air , devouring everybody in sight ? Why aren't we terrified of elephants suddenly popping into being and crushing us while they rained down from the skies ? If nothing can in fact yield anything exactly why would it discriminate ? Conspicuously , then , this contravention of the laws of nature is exposed as misguided special pleading .

          Additionally , from the entirety of human experience , knowledge , wisdom , empiricism as well as findings we’ve distilled many other explicit , irrefragable realities including :

          - A posteriori causality

          - Being does not emerge from nonbeing

          - Whatsoever begins to exist has a cause

          - Information cannot spring from disarray

          - Fine-tuning does not emanate from randomness

          Presented with such unshakable abecedarian truths , the natural questions that follow are , “Where did the universe originate from 13 .70 billion years ago ?” or “What triggered it to come into existence to begin with ?” No matter the cause , it needs to possess a number of key characteristics .

          Which means that -

          ( 1 ) Whatsoever begins to exist has a cause .

          ( 2 ) The space-time universe began to exist 13 .70 billion years ago .

          ( 3 ) Thus , the space-time universe has a cause .

          ( 4 ) The cause of the universe is a transcendent , beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent good personal being .

          ( 5 ) A transcendent , beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent good personal being is the definition of God Almighty.

          ( 6 ) Hence , God Almighty caused the universe to exist 13 .70 billion years ago .

          Now , let’s take a more detailed look at each one of the premisses of this elegant syllogism . Foremost , this cause must per se be uncaused . Why ? Simply because an infinite regress of causes does not have any basis in reality ; it can’t be turtles all the way down . ( http://bit.ly/1o2W0vq )

          Next , this uncaused cause needs to transcend space-time since it itself created space-time . It is , as a result , spaceless .

          Third , considering the fact that this uncaused cause exists beyond space and time it is must be a non-physical or immaterial cause . Why ? Because physical stuff exists only in space – they possess dimension .

          Fourth , this uncaused cause must invariably also be timeless for the simple fact that it itself doesn't exist in space-time .

          Fifth , it must likewise be changeless . As I'm sure you're well aware , all of matter is present in a state of continuous flux . This is particularly observable at the atomic level . Given that this uncaused cause is immaterial it is not governed by the same forces that alter matter , and so , is unchanging .

          Sixth , this uncaused cause is without a doubt unimaginably powerful , if not omnipotent , for it produced matter , energy , space and time into existence entirely on its own .

          So , to sum up , whatever it is that brought about the universe to come into existence 13 .70 billion years ago it needs to be beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging and omnipotent .

          Still we're not done for there are two more attributes of this uncaused cause that we are able to ascertain from what we perceive of the universe . Before we identify these , though , we first want to take a finer look at cause and effect . Here's exactly what I mean : if a cause is sufficient to yield it's effect then the effect also needs to be present . The pair are joined at the hip , so to speak ; you can't have one without the other .

          Permit me to borrow from an illustration to help make this sharper . “Suppose that the cause of water’s freezing is the temperature’s being below 0°C . If the temperature were below 0°C from eternity past , then any water that was around would be frozen from eternity . It would be impossible for the water to just begin to freeze a finite time ago . Once the cause is given , the effect must be given as well .” ( http://bit.ly/WQtgZY )

          The problem is , if we have indeed a timeless , transcendent cause how come the effect isn’t permanent as well ? Stated another way , if this timeless , transcendent cause in fact brought the universe into being , why hasn't the universe always been ? Just how can a cause be eternal yet its effect commence a finite time ago ? We are aware the universe is roughly about 13 .70 billion years old but as you see we've further deduced that whatsoever brought about the universe has to be transcendent as well as timeless .

          The one and only way that is feasible is if this timeless , transcendent , uncaused cause were at the same time a free agent – a being with free will who is able to operate of its own volition . Naturally we all know free will is the hallmark of personhood .

          Last but certainly not least , this beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent being must be unimaginably good . Why ? Suppose we admit for the sake of argument that he’s evil . As this being is evil , that suggests he fails to discharge his moral duties . But then exactly where do those originate from ? Just how can this evil being have obligations he is violating ? Who forbids him to do the immoral things he does ? Right away , we discover such an evil being simply cannot be supreme . There needs to be a being who is even greater , one who is absolute goodness himself and thus the source of the moral responsibilities this other prefers to shirk . Therefore , there must necessarily exist a supreme being who is all powerful , all good and all loving ; One who is the very paradigm of good .

          So here we arrive at this uncaused cause of the universe 13 .70 billion years ago that is beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent and personal being who is all good and all loving .

          This is to say - God Almighty.

  • Mark Nicoll

    Bertrand Russel is kinda correct and I think you misunderstood what he was saying. It is very unlikely that Aquinas had any notion of infinite sets. This is because sets and specifically infinite sets are something very different in mathematics than what they are in philosophy and Bertrand Russel was a mathematician by trade. Namely that there is more than one infinite set and some infinite sets are bigger than other infinite sets in such a way that they can be ranked in order of size. If this sounds interesting I would suggest looking up Cantor's theorem or watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz9vhZQsIqc. Also infinite sets and infinite series are completely different unrelated things philosophically and mathematically.

  • Patrick Kirimi

    Vitalism, Big Bang, Dialectical Cartesianism and Quantum Physics are all premeditated and definitively wedded in the doctrine of Primum Movens as a cosmological causality argument of Aquinas. But my problem has always been how do I remove doubt or evil from this doctrine. Again, how does this doctrine extricate God in the physical corruption and degeneration of stuff in the material world. Does Di Principiis Naturae address that Fr. Robert?

  • Peter

    There is no mover within the universe. All the actions of moving or becoming were already incorporated within the low entropy matter/energy matrix at the start of the universe. What we call moving or becoming are rearrangements of that same matter/energy over time, generally towards greater complexity, in strict accordance with the pre-existing configurations of the early universe.

    If we are to look for a mover we need to look at the reason for the big bang and its blossoming into a low entropy early universe. To say that this was God is creationist naivety. To say that God magicked a finely tuned big bang into existence, in the same was as he is supposed to have magicked the earth and its inhabitants into existence 6000 years ago for young earth creationists, is nothing more than cosmological creationism.

    God is far far more subtle than that, far more subtle than we can ever imagine. The big bang and low entropy early universe are naturalistic mysteries waiting to be opened up by science. Why would an omnipotent God do anything less than command nature do its own creating?

  • Ignatius Reilly

    One of the unintended but happy consequences of the emergence of the new atheism is a renewed interest in the classical arguments for God’s existence. Eager to defend the faith that is so vigorously attacked today, Catholic apologists and evangelists have been recovering these rational demonstrations of the truth of God

    This is an important observation. I may be wrong, but I do not think these philosophical arguments are the reason anybody believes in Catholicism. Barron seems to agree, as Catholics are "recovering these rational demonstrations." The problem is that these arguments at best lead to deism or perhaps a choice between Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism. Finally, they don't actually address new atheism's arguments against religion. (i.e. religion does more harm then good, replaces good methods of reasoning with faith, problem of evil, problem of design, inconsistencies in scripture, moral evil committed because of religion etc.) The cosmological arguments do not address any of these objections to religion, so I do not find it to be an affective argument against new atheism.

    In order to argue against new atheists, you have to also argue about the utility of religion.

    • Mike

      78% of americans are self described christians...is america a bad place?

      • Ignatius Reilly

        It does not follow that America is a good place because of Christianity, it could be a good place despite of Christianity.

        Edit: Wrong word

        • Mike

          Geez you won't concede anything will you? Ok all the best and thanks for engaging.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            What about Christianity do you think makes America a better place?

            Do you think there are bad events that would not have happened if we were free from religion? The Salem Witch trials or the inquisition, for instance.

          • Mike

            I think america would be many many times worse if not specifically for christianity; just look around at the world almost every christian majority country is peaceful and rich and the richest and most stable by far are all christian for thousands of years: italy, spain, france etc. etc. Look at even Poland how rich it is becoming look at russia how powerful it is; look at south korea where christianity is almost the majority religion; look at africa where there is a heavy christian presence and you'll find generally way more peace and stability; i could go on and on and on.

            Take care.

          • Vicq_Ruiz

            Mike,

            It might be instructive for you to compare the amount of peace, liberty, and prosperity in those countries where the majority Christian tradition is Catholic, and those where it is Protestant.

          • Mike

            there's alot of competition within christianity but france, italy, bavaria and the parts of catholic benelux are the richest on earth.

          • Mike

            ps catholics are per capita richer than protestands in usa.

          • David Nickol

            ps catholics are per capita richer than protestands in usa.

            Didn't Jesus have a few things to say about riches and rich people?

          • Mike

            Yes he loved them.

    • Greg Johnson

      "The problem is that these arguments at best lead to deism or perhaps a choice between Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism."

      But this is simply false. Assuming the arguments work, the God of classical theism cannot be said to be that of deism, for the rich philosophical system underlying the arguments in fact rests firmly on independent rational grounds, and its premises merely imply that God must exist. Now, according to this system, much else can be demonstrated, including the existence and immortality of the immaterial soul, the coming into being of which we can only account for by a special act of divine creation. This entails that God has a special interest in humans, insofar as he voluntarily acts to create every new human life at the moment of conception, apart from the sustaining of existence that he already does. Which lends credence to the at least the monotheistic religions' belief in a personal God as described in Scripture; moreover, the fact that there is a God (remember we assume all this is true for the sake of argument) implies that miracles are possible, which also gives support to claims of divine revelation by the monotheists.

      My basic point is that these arguments get you to a VERY specific conception of God, and the wider philosophical system in which these arguments are found strongly suggests that he is the God of a monotheistic religion, more than that, that he is the Christian God. Then we can evaluate each of the 3 to see which one is correct (for they all claim exclusvity in that regard). The decision will a priori lean towards Christianity, assuming the truth of everything I mentioned above.

      For the full summary see: edwardfeser.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/pre-christian-apologetics.html

      • Ignatius Reilly

        For the sake of argument, I will grant you a being of pure actuality that is not identical to the universe.

        How would you demonstrate even one of these claims:

        Now, according to this system, much else can be demonstrated, including
        the existence and immortality of the immaterial soul, the coming into
        being of which we can only account for by a special act of divine
        creation. This entails that God has a special interest in humans,
        insofar as he voluntarily acts to create every new human life at the
        moment of conception, apart from the sustaining of existence that he
        already does. Which lends credence to the at least the monotheistic
        religions' belief in a personal God as described in Scripture; moreover,
        the fact that there is a God (remember we assume all this is true for
        the sake of argument) implies that miracles are possible, which also
        gives support to claims of divine revelation by the monotheists.

        • Greg Johnson

          I don't have the time or space to defend them properly; sorry dude. I simply corrected you on your understanding of what these arguments if granted would mean for an unbeliever. It would mean a lot. In any case defending these claims takes us into questions of philosophy of nature, which is too far from the topic of the OP to discuss here.

          However, I can refer you to books which address this background, if you like.

  • God is not an ultimate or proximate cause at the level of material motion, whether physical, chemical or biological. God is the ultimate and also the immediate cause of the existence of every existing entity. In Thomism God is not the first in any series as this OP implies, whether the series be finite or infinite.

  • RosaryVictory

    God is.

  • God
    is not an ultimate or proximate cause at the level of material motion, whether
    physical, chemical or biological. In contrast, God is the ultimate and also the
    immediate cause of the existence of every existing entity. In Thomism God is
    not the first in any series as this OP implies, whether the series be finite or
    infinite.

  • Vincent Herzog

    I think the switched to higher- and lower-order causes might make defending the impossibility of the infinite regress even more difficult. If each order of cause is causing and/or being caused simultaneously with the rest in the chain (as your here-and-nows would imply), then the whole set is moving together, as one unit.

    Consider Hilbert's Hotel. If there are an infinite number of rooms and an infinite number of tenants, if a new arrival comes and must displace the occupant of the first room, he will never get a room if the occupant of each room must transfer to the next to make room for him. However, if each transfers to the next all at once, there's (seemingly) no problem.

    On the flip side, it occurs to me that if all are moving as one, then they can be treated as one, just as we commonly group link causes as one (e.g., "The Civil War caused...") and then the potential for the change must, according to the second premise, be actualized by something else. The only complication then is regarding the something else as the first element of the chain, but that is easily solved by turning this into a reductio.

    Ok, I think I better appreciate the impossibility of the regress of higher-order causes!

    • Vincent Herzog

      Not sure why it posted as guest, but I wrote the above post last night as a continuation and resolution of the earlier critiques I posted.

  • Krzysztof

    Yes. The modern mathematics proves (demonstrate) it more! Take a set of causes; therefore, in an ordered set there must be a first cause. Remember an ordered relation was discovered and pronounced (written) in logical signs only in...1921 by Jozef Kuratowski; before that humankind has lived in (episthemological darkness). ps.Mr. and br in Christ, Bertrand Russell has never learned (and read) Aristotle and St.Thomas Aquinas (also Avicenna); for him "God"is (refers to) an ...object though it is a principle of knowing and being; sure, his theory of types and description definition are the most perfect achievements of human mind! Anyway, for the most of scientists the methodology of science (their own discipline) is a ...mystery; take any scientist magazine, Nature, American Scientist, National Geographic,....

  • Mark

    Hello. I shared this article with a friend, here is his response:

    "That "prime mover" argument is antiquated and falls apart under the simplest of scrutiny. It falls victim to the "begging the question" logical fallicy in that its looking for an answer that doesn't need to be found. The very basis of the question its assuming that things can not move (change) on their own. That is simply not true. The argument was written at a time where alchemy was common, with modern chemistry we now know that things can react on their own. Just like we can model the erratic unpredictable quantum states of quarks inside of a proton mass"

    My problem is with the last two sentences, I am not familiar with this area of science. I would appreciate it if someone could tell me whether or not my friend's contention does successfully refute the "argument from motion." Please explain your answer. Thanks!

    • Greg Johnson

      Hi Mark. Scientific objections fail at the simplest level; they are simply category errors. Aquinas was NOT doing bad science, but attempting a metaphysical demonstration, which is deeper and more certain than even the best scientifically supported experiments. Why? Because deductive logic produces indubitable knowledge. In particular, this is most problematic:

      "The very basis of the question its assuming that things can not move (change) on their own."

      But he hasn't even bothered to properly grasp what the argument says. In fact we don't "assume" that things cant change on their own, it is argued for. In technical terms, change is just the transition from potentiality to actuality in some respect, just as a ball transitions from potentially bouncing to actually bouncing. No potential can actualize (that is, make real) itself because it is merely potential, and not yet real. But it is not nothing either. Does that make sense? Another reason it can't is because if it could, they would be no reason why that potential was actualized at this particular moment in time rather than another. So a potential can only be actualized be something which is already actual. A rubber ball can only become soft and gooey if actual heat is used to melt it, and not on its own. Or to use the traditional phrase, "Whatever moves is moved by another".

      With this background in hand we can address the other points:

      "with modern chemistry we now know that things can react on their own. Just like we can model the erratic unpredictable quantum states of quarks inside of a proton mass."

      What, like radioactive decay? What the scientists like your friend should do is to say that, where things seem as though they conflict with our understanding of the world, more investigation should be put in before shooting their mouths off aobut what the experiments "show". Just because it's unclear what causes certain reactions, it doesn't mean that those reactions really have no cause at all. What it means at most is that there isan UNKNOWN cause

      • Mark

        It took a little bit of turning it over in my mind, but I understand what it is that you are stating. I had done a little bit of poking around on my own, and was thinking along the same lines. Again, thank you for responding and explaining.

      • Graham Heine

        The problem here is the metaphysics is outdated. 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.

        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.

        When you get to the quantum level especially, the idea of "cause" is nonsense. 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. That is on "middle earth", 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. It is an irrelevant vocabulary based on ancient metaphysical presuppositions ill suited to current science.

  • Graham Heine

    God of the gaps. In the time of Aquinas, the ‘gap’ was how to explain the motion of things in a universe where everything appeared to slow down and stop without a ‘prime mover’. The theologian said “And that prime mover is God.” Only, Newton came along and said, “No, actually, the only ‘gap’ that existed was a gap in our understanding the universe. We do not need a God to keep the universe in motion.”

    It was once thought that the universe would have an end. All of this material flying out from this big bang would eventually slow down, then stop, then fall back in on itself in a ‘big crunch’. However, that idea has now been rejected. Observations show us that the universe is not only expanding, but that it is expanding at a faster and faster rate. This means that the universe is eternal. It can go on indefinitely into the future. Then why not suggest that it can also go back indefinitely in the past?

    Well, we have this ‘big bang’ to contend with. However, the ‘big bang’ is simply a gap. It is one of those areas that we simply do not yet understand. And there is no evidence the universe necessarily had a beginning.

  • Most people confuse the concepts of fact and truth. Fact is any consideration of physical being and motion, change, and other phenomena. Two existing basic conditions exist as reflections of each other in matters of fact. A fact is true or false. A matter of fact either is manifesting or is not. Each fact manifests another concept, truth. It is true that a fact is truly true, or true that it is truly false. True for both. That links all facts to truth as true.

    It is assumed true that there are no unicorns. Yet a unicorn in the form of the imagined animal is possible. A fact can be true or false. Any possible thing is either true and has existed in the past, exists now, or could exist sometime in the future. Or, it is false and, though possible does not, in fact exist and may never come to form. Thus a fact could be either true or false.

    Truth on the other hand could not be false and still be truth. Truth rules false and true, but could not be false. Anything true, is not truth itself. Something true is a fact, not truth. Truth is what could not be not. Impossible could not be true. Truth includes possible and impossible. Facts are not truth and truth could not be false. There could be no physical attributes of the impossible. Thus there are no round squares or square circles. No cubic spheres or spherical cubes. The sum of two plus three is always five and no other value. Number can be expressed and processed in any base, but always represents all digital numbers possible, even if not practical. Analogical is factual, not digital. Analog to digital is a way to conceptualize analog value in approximation, not perfection. Truth is perfection. Infinite space is a concept beyond the horizons of man's ability to encounter infinity. Likewise the horizon of human experience cannot comprehend infinitesimal that is also beyond the horizon of human experience.

    There is one Truth. Truth rules all that is, all that is possible, and all that could be but is not. Truth rules what is impossible and Truth rules Truth itself. Aquinas said in Summa Theologica that God is Truth. After completing the Summa, Aquinas had an epiphany and concluded that all he had thought and written about the existence of God was wrong. He died a conflicted soul in asylum. What Aquinas came to understand is that God is Truth and that Truth is God. What man conceives as God is Truth. All that God does, could do, or did not do, or could not do is Truth. Truth rules all that God rules and denies all that could not be. Any fact manifests God as Truth, but no fact is God and God is not a matter of fact that could be true or false. Thus the only argument of the atheist is that God is a fact. As a fact, any god would be either a true god or a false god. God is not a fact. That does not mean that there is no God. God is. No predicate is necessary.

    Moses conceived a message from God in the burning bush as a manifestation; "Tell the Children of Israel that I am that I am." The burning bush, a golden calf, Jesus, or any other objective form is a manifestation, not Truth itself. In the human conceptual language that would include the negative. If God is not, God is no thing -- nothing. If nothing is God, God is no thing. If no thing is God nothing is God. Yet God is, and no thing is greater than Truth. Any concept of Truth as a transcendent being meets the meaning of any true concept of God without exception of human faith and institutional religion for support. Truth needs no support or factual representation. Truth rules fact and faith. Man has confused fact with truth so long that he assumes that God is simply a fact that could be true or false. That makes way for atheists to logically and reasonably assert that God does not exist. However, even atheists require Truth in order for their belief to be true. Atheists require Truth in order to believe that there is not God, for if it is true that there is no God, then Truth exists certainly, but not as a matter of fact. God is the only matter of Truth. Truth is the only God. Truth is the only proof of all that is true and all that is false. Aquinas came to understand that in his theory of a Prime Mover. Truth is the Prime Mover, whether there is a physical mover or not.

    In the beginning, God made all things possible and Truth certain. God is Truth/Truth is God. Aquinas was correct in his conclusions and in his epiphany. His problem was dealing with dogma and mythology. Faith is in Truth, but the faith is not God.

    • Glenn54321

      Your definition of fact is wrong, you've assumed infinity and it's characteristics, and I can't find any reference to what you've written about Aquinas's death in an asylum. I don't think you've made a compelling case.

  • BrianKillian

    Aristotle thought there were dozens of prime movers, one for each celestial sphere.

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