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Why Everything Must Have a Reason for Its Existence

Thinking Man

NOTE: Today we feature a guest post from Steven Dillon, one of our regular commenters. When Strange Notions launched in May 2013, Steven didn't believe in the monotheistic conception God. Although he still rejects God as Trinity, he has since come to believe in a single, simple, perfect, immutable God. Today he shares one reason that swayed him closer to monotheism.


 
I’ve spent a lot of time arguing against theistic conclusions here, but I feel it’s time to change gears. There are a lot of good arguments out there not only for theistic sorts of beliefs (such as in an after-life), but also for God’s existence, and I’d like to start defending some of these, especially for the latter.

Now, more often than not, philosophical arguments bottleneck our rich background beliefs and experiences in such a way that our evaluations of and discussions about these arguments are just summaries of more expanded positions we hold. This prevents dialogues and debates from really changing people’s minds a lot of times because there tend to be a lot of relevant points and assumptions that go unaddressed and unexamined.

So rather than defend an entire argument for God in one post, I’d like to defend an important proposition that can play the role of ‘premise’ in various arguments for God’s existence, namely, “If anything whatsoever exists, then it has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.” Let’s abbreviate it to “If anything exists, it has an explanation of its existence” and call it ‘PSR’ for ‘Principle of Sufficient Reason’.

PSR strikes a lot of people as pretty obvious. But, is there any evidence for it? Not only do I think there is, but I think it’s extremely difficult to deny that there is: the very existence of something counts as evidence of its explicability!

Probability theory tells us that something (call it ‘E’) counts as evidence for one hypothesis (‘H1’) over another hypothesis (‘H2’), if and only if E is more likely given that H1 is true than that H2 is.

But, something is more likely to exist given that it has an explanation of its existence (H1) than that it does not (H2), because having an explanation of its existence entails that it exists, whereas lacking such an explanation does not.1 In other words, H1 predicts that E exists better than H2 does because it entails E.

Note that we can talk about ‘things’ lacking an explanation of their existence without having to say they exist: unicorns have no explanation of their existence because they have no existence to explain.

Now, if it’s true of anything whatsoever that it is more likely to exist given H1 than H2, then it is true of anything whatsoever that if it exists, there is evidence that it has an explanation of its existence, for the two are just different ways of saying the same thing.

You might wonder how strong this evidence is: does it prove PSR, or just barely support it? As Dr. Pruss explains:

“According to the Expectation Principle [i.e. the leading philosophical interpretation of ‘likelihood’], if an event or state of affairs is more to be expected under one hypothesis, h1, than another, h2, it counts as evidence in favor of h1 over h2 – that is, in favor of the hypothesis under which it has the highest expectation. The strength of the evidence is proportional to the relative degree to which it is more to be expected under h1 than h2.”2

So the strength with which something’s existence is evidence for its explicability is just a function of how much more its existence is to be expected given that it explicable than that it is not.

Now, we know that something’s existence has the highest possible expectation given H1 because it is properly entailed or necessitated by it. As such, unless a thing’s existence is extremely expected given its inexplicability, it will count as significantly strong evidence for its explicability.

But, why should the failure of anything to have an explanation of its existence lead us to expect that it exists? The mere lack of an explanation of thing’s existence provides no reason whatsoever to think it exists because it does not in and of itself explain why there is such a lack of explanation: it could just be because there is no existence to explain.

Thus, the existence of anything whatsoever is far more to be expected given its explicability than not, and as such, we have significantly strong evidence for PSR.

Note that even if I have overestimated the strength of this evidence, it is still evidence
 
 
(Image credit: Mother Fitness)

Notes:

  1. In standard probability notation: P(Something exists|It has an explanation of its existence) > P(Something exists|It does not have an explanation of its existence).
  2. William Lane Craig and James Porter Moreland, The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Chichester, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 206
Steven Dillon

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Steven Dillon is a nature loving hippy who enthusiastically supports the Philosophy of Religion, and the importance of good-willed dialogue between theists and atheists.

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  • I think the are a number of terms here that you need to define, because I feel that you are jumping scopes and a number of these terms may be being used differently.

    What do you mean by "exist", "explanation", and "thing"?

    The "evidence" you refer to seems to be not evidence but rather principles and arguments. I raise this because it would seem to me that these principles are derived from observation of matter. However, you seem to be extending this principle to beyond matter, space, and time, if you are going to apply it to all kinds of existence, and coming into existence.

    When it comes to the brute fact that something exists, whether materialism, idealism or any other ism is being advanced, I do not think we can rely on principles derived from observation of only the material universe.

    I think also that any invocation of "necessity" pretty much makes the whole thing meaningless. And, I imagine this is why you left it out of the summary of PSR? Anything that is ontologically necessary is, I would think, something with no explanation. This then renders the premise to "if something exists it either has an explanation or it doesn't."

    Ultimately, I think we all have to agree that there is some "thing" that can exist without a an explanation. This could be some kind of immaterial efficient cause for matter (potentially a god) or matter might simply exist and lack an efficient cause. I prefer the latter, as we already know matter exists, but it has yet to be demonstrated that anything immaterial exists. Unless you're an idealist, but I have a separate critique of that.

    • "Anything that is ontologically necessary is, I would think, something with no explanation."

      This is not true. The explanation of its existence could lie within itself--it could be self-existent.

      This is why philosophers typically pose the Principle of Sufficient Reason as, "Everything must have a reason for its existence, either within or beyond itself."

      "Ultimately, I think we all have to agree that there is some "thing" that can exist without a an explanation."

      I can't agree to that. I think even God has an explanation for his existence, although that explanation is his own internal nature. God's essence is existence.

      "This could be some kind of immaterial efficient cause for matter (potentially a god) or matter might simply exist and lack an efficient cause. I prefer the latter, as we already know matter exists, but it has yet to be demonstrated that anything immaterial exists. Unless you're an idealist, but I have a separate critique of that."

      The problem is that, per above, God is defined as a necessarily self-existent being. He explains his own existence. (And by the way, theists arrive at this definition through reasoned reflection. They don't *assume* the definition and then move forward; they arrive at the definition as a necessary, logical conclusion. The existence of a contingent universe necessitates a self-existent cause, which we call God.)

      Yet while God is necessarily self-existent, matter is *not*. It's contingent. It doesn't *have* to exist, nor does it explain its own existence. Thus there must be an explanation for the existence of matter beyond itself.

      • How do you know God is self-existent and matter is not? It's not logically impossible for matter to be self-existent. To use your terms.

        Is there a difference between just being self-existent and "necessarily" self-existent? If so what?

        • "How do you know God is self-existent and matter is not?"

          God is self-existent because a contingent universe demands a non-contingent (i.e., self-existent) cause. That self-existent cause we call God.

          Matter, as I explained above, is contingent. It doesn't have to exist as it is. William Lane Craig explains why here:

          "According to the standard model of subatomic physics, matter itself is composed of tiny particles called “quarks.” The universe is just the collection of all these quarks arranged in different ways. But now the question arises: couldn’t a different collection of quarks have existed instead of this one? Does each and every one of these quarks exist necessarily?

          Notice what the atheist cannot say at this point. He cannot say that the quarks are just configurations of matter which could have been different, even though the matter of which the quarks are composed exists necessarily. He can’t say this because quarks aren’t composed of anything! They just are the basic units of matter. So if a quark doesn’t exist, the matter doesn’t exist.

          Now it seems obvious that a different collection of quarks could have existed instead of the collection that does exist. But if that were the case, then a different universe would have existed. To see the point, think about your desk. Could your desk have been made of ice? Notice that I’m not asking if you could have had an ice desk in the place of your wooden desk that had the same size and structure. Rather I’m asking if your very desk, the one made of wood, if that desk could have been made of ice. The answer is obviously, no. The ice desk would be a different desk, not the same desk.

          Similarly, a universe made up of different quarks, even if identically arranged as in this universe, would be a different universe."

          It follows, then, that neither matter nor the universe exists by a necessity of its own nature.

          • Similarly, a universe made up of different quarks, even if identically arranged as in this universe, would be a different universe

            Agh, /facepalm/. This incoherence is what you get when philosophers who don't bother to learn science talk about things. Fundamental particles are not distinguishable even in principle. That's why they're fundamental. If you replace a quark with "another" identical quark, then nothing has changed.

          • "Fundamental particles are not distinguishable even in principle. That's why they're fundamental. If you replace a quark with "another" identical quark, then nothing has changed."

            This is not true. Fundamental particles are distinguishable from each other. At the very least, individual quarks have distinct intrinsic properties, including electric charge, mass, color charge, and spin.

            Also, if you replace one quark with another, something has changed, just as replacing one identical twin with another. Even if they have all the same physical properties, they are ontologically distinct.

          • Good grief. If you honestly think that you can distinguish one electron from another, or one photon from another, or one up quark from another, then by all means do so and go collect your Nobel prize. The world will be much better for it. But until then, I'm going to assume you don't have the foggiest idea what you're talking about.

          • Mike

            Paul Rimmer please correct me if I'm mistaken. I think your statement needs clarification. There is a principle of indistinguishably for the fundamental particles. i.e. one cannot label different electrons say 1 and 2. Part of this is due to the uncertainty principle. That said there are a number of properties accessible to the fundamental particles.

            I think you're making a reasonable philosophical point, but the science isn't clean.

          • mriehm

            Two fundamental particles, such as two electrons, are completely indistinguishable from one another. If you had a small experimental system with two electrons in it, and you could somehow switch the two of them, the new system and the old system would be indistinguishable from one another.

          • Michael Murray

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identical_particles

            The physics of identical particles is quite different to that of distinguishable particles. Feynman argued at one time that they we in fact the same particle. That was in the case of electrons. It makes no sense to say that philosophy can tell them apart if mathematics and physics can't.

          • "It makes no sense to say that philosophy can tell them apart if mathematics and physics can't."

            Indeed, it does make sense. Ontology, the study of being, is a philosophical discipline, not a mathematical or physical discipline. Topics like "existence" and "identity" are outside the purview of math or science.

            Just because mathematical equations or physical theories cannot distinguish between two different entities, that does not mean the two are essentially indistinguishable.

            To use an analogy, just because my eyes fail to distinguish between a pair of identical twins, that does not mean the two are the same person. It means the tools I'm using (my eyes) are not up to par for the task. So it can be with math and physics.

          • mriehm

            Electrons have been studied extensively for a very long time, and there is no indication that two electrons can be distinguished from one another by some fundamental property that they possess.

          • Michael Murray

            Ah yes but only by physicists. Metaphysicists have had major breakthroughs in identifying individual electrons.

          • Michael Murray

            You might be interested in this

            http://lesswrong.com/lw/ph/can_you_prove_two_particles_are_identical/

            I notice you are on a warning. In case you haven't seen it there is a place all the banned atheists from SN gather

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

            Of course you don't have to be banned or an atheist to post there. Anyone is welcome.

          • mriehm

            As people have been banished from Strange Notions, I've encountered the references to "Estranged Notions", and I've poked at the site once or twice. But I just don't see the point of getting involved in something where we'll all just blithely nod our heads at one another. :D

            I do strive to keep my "attitude" in check here (in some discussion zones things devolve very quickly to insults and cusswords; yawn). I believe that I succeed, for the most part. My discussion style is pithy, and I think Brandon took earlier pithiness for pettiness. :D

            I do stand by the argument voiced here by myself and others that, just because we lack an understanding of what came "before" the big bang, that does not amount to proof of a deity.

          • Michael Murray

            But I just don't see the point of getting involved in something where we'll all just blithely nod our heads at one another. :D

            Sometimes it is a relief but I agree. Just a place to go when the option of being here no longer is available ! Mind you currently we seem to be arguing with New Apologetics (www.newapolgetics.com). So it's not all singing as a choir stuff.

            My discussion style is pithy, and I think Brandon took earlier pithiness for pettiness. :D

            Snark is the danger I think. I enjoy your posts anyway.

            I do stand by the argument voiced here by myself and others that, just because we lack an understanding of what came "before" the big bang, that does not amount to proof of a deity.

            Let alone one that hates condoms !

          • I still don't see why the universe itself cannot be "self-existent"

            I don't claim to understand particle physics, but I don't see why there could not be all kinds of different arrangements of quarks or different elemental particles. I don't think quarks are thought to be the fundamental building blocks necessarily. I honestly don't know.

            I do know that Craig is opposed to the mainstream view of physics, particularly Einstein's Special Relativity.

            See this easy to follow video. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vkWgxIQ035k

          • "I do know that Craig is opposed to the mainstream view of physics, particularly Einstein's Special Relativity."

            This is simply not true. Read his scholarly books, "The Kalam Cosmological Argument" or his more popular "Reasonable Faith" and you'll find he agrees with contemporary physics (and contemporary cosmology) almost across the board.

            Which specific topic are you referring to where he "opposes the mainstream view of physics"?

          • George

            off the top of my head, I can recall him saying there is indeed a universal reference frame, which is his god. I don't know how he knows that though.

          • "I still don't see why the universe itself cannot be "self-existent."

            Among other reasons, the universe definitely cannot be self-existent because it had a beginning (roughly 13.7 billion years ago.) In other words, it came into existence, which makes it contingent and thus ensure it is not self-existent.

            God, however, exists beyond space and time. He has no beginning or end because his essence is to exist. His being explains his own existence.

          • George

            about your last paragraph Brandon, how do you know any of that about yahweh?

          • Brad

            It's a bit dangerous to be claiming to know things about the universe 13.7 billion years ago. As things are now it seems much more prudent to stick with what has been discovered by science and leave the rest as questions for another day. Along these lines it is interesting to note that sometime in the far future the universe will have expanded so far that there will be no way to detect anything outside our own galaxy, if it even exists. Whatever thinking beings around at the time will have a completely different understanding of what the universe is. For them there would be no way to know what existed in the past just as for us now there is currently no way to know what existed before 13.7 billion years ago.

          • Brad

            I should clarify that it's not dangerous to claim to know things about the universe in the past to a point, but to claim the big bang as the moment of creation is to bring more to the table than what science has shown. The important thing is that whatever happened before the big bang, or whatever is happening around our universe within which our universe could be expanding, is an open question.

          • Of course it is not even clear that the question "what happened before the Big Bang" is coherent as time and space sort of cease to exist. When I consider the position theists advance I imagine the universe blasting out in time into space. If there was anything "before" it, it is like imagining what a fourth primary colour looks like.

          • Maxximiliann

            You object to such a question because you state, correctly, that time began with the Big Bang. But 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.

          • severalspeciesof

            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.

            Of course that CAN be said, but it is not needed since the 'singularity' itself can be said to be self-existent, with no logical contradiction in that statement...

            Glen

          • Maxximiliann

            The only way the singularity itself could-be self-existent is if it had free will and, therefore, was a personal being. Is that your claim?

          • severalspeciesof

            Max, I don't get what you are saying. Self-existence, as far as I know it, doesn't need 'free-will'... see: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/self-existent

            Glen

          • Maxximiliann

            Here's 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 in the singularity 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 .

          • "'singularity' itself can be said to be self-existent, with no logical contradiction in that statement..."

            This is not true. The initial singularity is not self-existent because it is not a "self" at all! The singularity is not a physical state of reality. It's a mathematical idealization of the point at which all space-time shrinks down to, literally, nothing at all. Therefore, it's not actually a physical state, much less a physical self.

            I can't think of any philosopher or cosmologist who would attribute aseity (i.e. self-existence) to the singularity. But perhaps you know some? If so, please share.

          • severalspeciesof

            The singularity is not a physical state of reality.

            And neither is your god... yet you seem to have no trouble assigning self-existence to it...

            I can't think of any philosopher or cosmologist who would attribute aseity (i.e. self-existence) to the singularity

            and neither can I, but I don't know enough of philosophic writings to say whether or not that is true in the end, but if it is, then I'm apparently the first to do so... ;-)

            Glen

          • There cannot be a point in time before time, beyond time, or without time. My understanding of time arises from my understanding of Einstein's Theories of Relativity as well as our common usage of the terms. I don't think this is reductionist. You are clearly using it in a different way that is utterly unjustified.

            The link you posted does not work, but I am familiar with Craig's argument. Apparently, his creation simultaneous with singularity requires him to deny Einstein's theory of special relativity. Please see the video I posted above.

          • Maxximiliann

            i. Sorry about that. Try this one:

            http://bit.ly/1nCfYye

            ii.

            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 .

          • Michael Murray

            So is metaphysical time part of a four-dimensional space-time metafold? Is there a metaphysical light cone?

          • Maxximiliann

            No. It is our prehension of time. Therefore, such is mind-dependent.

          • Michael Murray

            So just an idea. That's good because time as we understand since Einstein is hard to distinguish from space.

          • Michael Murray

            We do not know there was a singularity. All we know was that there was a hot dense period. Before that quantum effects dominate and we have no theory of quantum gravity to explain what happens.

          • Maxximiliann

            Regardless, we do know that at some point in time our universe did not exist and then it did. Given the law of a posteriori causality it's reasonable to ask, where did it come from? Who or what caused it to come into existence in the first place? Why is there anything at all instead of just nothing?

          • Michael Murray

            Why not just post the link rather than fill up the page with quotes from Craig. You will find he cuts little ice with the atheists remaining here. This site is supposed to be about dialogue not just assertions. I thought.

          • Michael Murray

            The fact that the universe is expanding does not mean it is expanding into something else.

          • mriehm

            Taking that one step further, mankind has always invoked the supernatural to explain what it does not - yet - understand. Microbial disease being a fine example. And yet science has advanced our understanding extraordinarily, so that much of what was formerly supernatural is now natural - even mundanely so.

            Just because we have very little insight, and no known measurable evidence, for what came "before" the singularity, does not mean that we should invoke the supernatural to explain it. In fact, the history of science tells us that that would be a bad bet. ;)

            That being said, the meta-universe may simply be outside the possibilities of science - it is possible that we will never measure our way out of this one. (Applying the impersonal materialist perspective to our own existence, we are indeed mighty small, and it is nowhere written in the fabric of our universe that we must master it.)

          • Sqrat

            "It is interesting to note that sometime in the far future the universe will have expanded so far that there will be no way to detect anything outside our own galaxy, if it even exists."

            That is, assuming that nothing happens that would change the current accelerating expansion of the universe. There is, however, a recent hypothesis suggesting the high probability that the universe might undergo a phase transition first. During this transition, all matter would become millions or billions of times more massive than previously. This would prevent the universe from continuing to expand, and would instead cause it to collapse and cease to exist. The transition would begin at one point in the universe and propagate outward from there at the speed of light.

            Because it would propagate at the speed of light, we wouldn't see the transition coming. For all we know, it has already begun somewhere and is headed our way, to arrive perhaps at any moment. Needless to say, its arrival would kill us all more or less instantaneously.

          • I don't know that matter came into existence then. I am only told that that is how far back science can look.

            If there is some "thing" that existed "before time", it's nature is unknown. You are just placing the label "god" on properties you assume the cause had.

            Not even William Lane Craig believes a God existed "before" time. He believes on simultaneous creation.

          • severalspeciesof

            Among other reasons, the universe definitely cannot be self-existent
            because it had a beginning (roughly 13.7 billion years ago.) In other
            words, it came into existence,

            It 'came' into existence as have come to know it. We have no idea how to get beyond the 'singularity' as the laws of physics as we know them, breaks down. There is no 'time' until 'after' the big bang. Can anyone logically hold to the idea that the singularity cannot be self-existent?
            I'd like to see that...

            Glen

          • mriehm

            Exactly. Our knowledge of the first few picoseconds after the big bang is limited and conjectural. Our knowledge of what came "before" that is nonexistent.

            The "contingent existence" argument given by Catholics on this website can really be reduced to this: We don't know what happened at the time of, or "before", the Big Bang. Therefore there is a God and He created the universe.

          • "The "contingent existence" argument given by Catholics on this website can really be reduced to this: We don't know what happened at the time of, or "before", the Big Bang. Therefore there is a God and He created the universe."

            That's an unfair and inaccurate reduction of the argument. I've outlined the contingency argument extensively in this thread, and we've also shared several articles on it elsewhere.

            Please re-read those. And per our commenting policy, please avoid straw manning other arguments. Consider this a warning.

          • mriehm

            My point is that we don't know what preceded the singularity of the Big Bang. We cannot look beyond it at present, and, if there was something before it, we do not know what it was or what clues about it might remain for us to investigate.

            There certainly was no "universe", because our universe - including the very space it inhabits - was created upon the event of the singularity.

            But there might have been something, and that something might not have been what we think of as a deity.

            My simplistic, boiled-down understanding of the contingency argument is: it is not possible for something to be caused by nothing, and so, since our universe had no existence prior to the singularity, an extraordinary act of creation must have been involved in it.

            And my point is, we just don't know that.

          • "Can anyone logically hold to the idea that the singularity cannot be self-existent? I'd like to see that..."

            Not only can "anyone" hold this position, I think *almost everyone* does! (At least in the philosophical and scientific community.)

            As I noted above:

            "The initial singularity is not self-existent because it is not a "self" at all! The singularity is not a physical state of reality. It's a mathematical idealization of the point at which all space-time shrinks down to, literally, nothing at all. Therefore, it's not actually a physical state, much less a physical self.

            I can't think of any philosopher or cosmologist who would attribute aseity (i.e. self-existence) to the singularity. But perhaps you know some? If so, please share."

          • 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. It's just more atheistic amphigory and wishful thinking.

            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 God Almighty.

          • Doug Shaver

            It's just more atheistic amphigory and wishful thinking.

            How should we describe the thinking of someone who thinks scientific authorities have attained infallibility?

          • Maxximiliann

            As folderol.

          • Doug Shaver

            In that case, the scientists who are now saying that the universe had a finite beginning could be mistaken, right?

          • Maxximiliann

            They're actually right about this one because it supports what we find written at Genesis 1:1.

          • Doug Shaver

            So, your real argument is not that I should believe the scientists because they have reached a consensus. Your real argument is that I should believe them because they agree with something your religion says.

          • Maxximiliann

            Since you ask, I'll say that what scientists say on the matter are peripheral to the facts contained within God's Word, the Bible.

          • Doug Shaver

            I have no reason to believe that the Bible is the word of any god.

          • 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

          • severalspeciesof

            ... not a one of fulfilled Bible predictions has at any time been wrong

            Explain this: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father
            with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.
            Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.“ (Matthew 16: 27, 28)

            “Behold, I have told you in advance. So if they say to you,
            ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in
            the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes
            from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the
            Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

            But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will
            be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will
            fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And
            then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the
            tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming
            on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send
            forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His
            elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

            Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has
            already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is
            near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is
            near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.“ (Matthew 24: 25-34)

            “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great
            power and glory. And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather
            together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the
            earth to the farthest end of heaven. Now learn the parable from the fig
            tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its
            leaves, you know that summer is near. Even so, you too, when you see
            these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.
            Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place…“ (Mark 13:26-30)

            “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power
            and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten
            up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Then
            He told them a parable: Behold the fig tree and all the trees; as soon
            as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer
            is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening,
            recognize that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.“ (Luke 21:27-32)

            Glen

          • Maxximiliann

            Re: Matthew 16: 27,28

            Keep reading.

          • Maxximiliann

            When Bible prophecy speaks of "this generation," it is necessary to consider the context to determine what generation is meant. Jesus Christ, when denouncing the Jewish religious leaders, concluded by saying: "Truly I say to you, All these things will come upon this generation." History recounts that about 37 years later (in 70 C.E.) that contemporary generation personally experienced the destruction of Jerusalem, as foretold.--Mt 23:36.

            Later that same day, Jesus again used practically the same words, saying: "Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." (Mt 24:34) In this instance, Jesus was answering a question regarding the desolation of Jerusalem and its temple as well as regarding the sign of his presence and of the conclusion of the system of things. Before his reference to "this generation," however, he had focused his remarks specifically on his "coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" and the nearness of the Kingdom of God. Immediately afterward, he continued with references to his "presence." (Mt 24:30, 37, 39; Lu 21:27, 31) Jesus was using the word "generation" with reference to humans whose lives would in some way be associated with the foretold events.--Mt 24.

            The people of this 20th-century generation living since 1914 have experienced these many terrifying events concurrently and in concentrated measure--international wars, great earthquakes, terrible pestilences, widespread famine, persecution of Christians, and other conditions that Jesus outlined in Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21." - http://bit.ly/194tePZ

          • Doug Shaver

            not a one of fulfilled Bible predictions has at any time been wrong

            A fulfilled prediction, by definition, cannot have been wrong. I have seen no cogent defense of any claim that a predictive prophecy, in the Bible or any other religious writing, was ever fulfilled.

            And before you reach for any counterexamples, let me say what I think has to have happened for there to be a counterexample.

            1. The prophecy must, considering its context, have been clearly intended as a prediction of future events.
            2. The prophecy must be clear and unambiguous, not susceptible to multiple interpretations.
            3. The event claimed as the fulfillment must be obviously what the prophecy referred to.
            4. The event must provably have occurred in actual fact.
            5. The prophecy must provably have been made before the event.
            6. The prophecy must predict an event not foreseeable, at the time the prophecy was made, by a well-informed intelligent person.

          • severalspeciesof

            Excellent points Doug...

            Glen

          • Doug Shaver

            Thank you, Glen.

          • Maxximiliann

            Take 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 .

          • Doug Shaver

            So , yet again , we see the accurate fulfillment of specific events prophesied hundreds and hundreds of years ahead of time .

            You say so. Let's check the criteria.

            1. The prophecy must, considering its context, have been clearly intended as a prediction of future events.

            This prophecy was clearly intended to seem so.

            2. The prophecy must be clear and unambiguous, not susceptible to multiple interpretations.

            This prophecy has been interpreted many ways. Therefore, it is susceptible to multiple interpretations.

            3. The event claimed as the fulfillment must be obviously what the prophecy referred to.

            It is not obvious that what the writer of the prophecy had in his mind was anything like what we find in the canonical gospels.

            4. The event must provably have occurred in actual fact.

            I don't want to start a debate about Jesus' historicity in this thread, so I'll stipulate this point for the time being.

            5. The prophecy must provably have been made before the event.

            Daniel was written before the gospels, yes.

            6. The prophecy must predict an event not foreseeable, at the time the prophecy was made, by a well-informed intelligent person.

            Until we're agreed on what the prophecy was supposed to have predicted, it doesn't matter how foreseeable it might have been.

          • Michael Murray

            He seems to have these saved up. Have a look here

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/hallq/2013/09/william-lane-craig-gets-something-right/#comment-1314050054

            for that one. Must make posting easier I guess.

          • Doug Shaver

            I've done that, though I usually provide a link to the earlier source. I don't think I should be expected to rewrite from scratch something I've said before, but if I copy it in toto, I do think I should acknowledge having said it before.

          • Michael Murray

            I think a link is fine. Or a comment like "Have a look at my response here (link)" that covers these points. I guess I objected to him cutting and pasting the same few paragraphs twice in his replies to me but it didn't seem to bother him. Maybe it's a Jehovah's Witness thing. You spend you life going door to door with the same spiel at each one. Perhaps communicating is less important than witnessing ? Not a religion I know much about I must admit.

          • Maxximiliann

            Let's use a simpler example then:

            About 200 years before the time of Alexander the Great, Jehovah
            God’s prophet Daniel wrote concerning world domination: “Look! there was
            a male of the goats coming from the sunset upon the surface of the
            whole earth, and it was not touching the earth. And as regards the
            he-goat, there was a conspicuous horn between its eyes. And it kept
            coming all the way to the ram possessing the two horns, . . . and it
            came running toward it in its powerful rage. And . . . it proceeded to
            strike down the ram and to break its two horns, and there proved to be
            no power in the ram to stand before it. So it threw it to the earth and
            trampled it down . . . And the male of the goats, for its part, put on
            great airs to an extreme; but as soon as it became mighty, the great
            horn was broken, and there proceeded to come up conspicuously four
            instead of it, toward the four winds of the heavens.”—Daniel 8:5-8.

            To whom did those words apply? Daniel himself answers: “The ram that you
            saw possessing the two horns stands for the kings of Media and Persia.
            And the hairy he-goat stands for the king of Greece; and as for the
            great horn that was between its eyes, it stands for the first
            king.”—Daniel 8:20-22.

            Think about that! During the time of the Babylonian world power, the
            Bible foretold that the succeeding powers would be Medo-Persia and
            Greece. Moreover, as noted earlier, the Bible specifically stated that
            “as soon as it became mighty, the great horn”—Alexander—would be
            “broken” and would be replaced by four others, adding further that none
            of them would be Alexander’s posterity.—Daniel 11:4.

            That prophecy was fulfilled in detail. Alexander became king in 336
            B.C.E., and within seven years he defeated the mighty Persian King
            Darius III. Thereafter, Alexander continued to expand his empire until
            his premature death in 323 B.C.E., at the age of 32. No single
            individual succeeded Alexander as absolute ruler, nor did any of his
            offspring. Rather, his four leading generals—Lysimachus, Cassander,
            Seleucus, and Ptolemy—“proclaimed themselves kings” and took over the
            empire, states the book The Hellenistic Age.

            During his campaigns, Alexander also fulfilled other Bible prophecies.
            For example, the prophets Ezekiel and Zechariah, who lived in the
            seventh and sixth centuries B.C.E., foretold the destruction of the city
            of Tyre. (Ezekiel 26:3-5, 12; 27:32-36; Zechariah 9:3, 4) Ezekiel even
            wrote that her stones and dust would be placed “in the very midst of the
            water.” Were those words fulfilled?

            Consider what Alexander’s troops did during their siege of Tyre in 332
            B.C.E. They scraped up the ruins of the earlier mainland city of Tyre
            and cast the debris into the sea to build a causeway to the island city
            of Tyre. The strategy succeeded, and Tyre fell. “The prophecies against
            Tyre have been accomplished, even to the minutest details,” said a
            19th-century explorer of the site.

            http://bit.ly/10tazx2

          • Michael Murray

            So I take it you disagree with the scientific evidence that there was never a single breeding pair of homo sapiens and thus no Adam and Eve ?

            How, by the way do you ascertain God's Word ? It seems to me that the Church is far more careful than to make a blanket statement like you are making so you can't be turning to the Church to tell you what God's Word is. Or at least I can't see how that would work.

          • Maxximiliann

            i. Correct. They are grossly mistaken. Molecules-to-man evolution is the myth, not Genesis.

            ii. I use a passage's context.

          • Michael Murray

            Oh dear another evolution denier. I wonder why only the atheists on this board are willing to defend science and argue evolutions corner? I would have thought the Catholics should as well Givrn how much we here about how close science and Catholocism are?

          • Michael Murray

            So not a fan of the Dalai Lama I guess

            “If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.”

          • Maxximiliann

            Guess not :)

            Science is not infallible. The Bible is.

          • mriehm

            As completely-human creations, both are highly fallible. Much of our scientific process, with checks and balances, is designed specifically to counteract human failings. There is no equivalent process around the Bible, with the resulting myriad of interpretations, many of which are at odds with one another, and with no way to reliably choose between them.

            As a process, science is constructed to accept new evidence and modify itself as it moves forward (reluctant, foot-dragging individuals may temporarily counter that, of course!) We don't know "everything", of course - far from it! At any time, we only possess a set of partial truths, and we continuously refine our views on our knowledge, and rewrite it, or constrain it, as necessary. And sometimes, science is just plain wrong.

            Is that "fallibility"? Of a kind, I suppose. But the institution is much stronger than that of the Bible, which is wrong and misguided and primitive and downright hateful in so many places. Science rewrites itself continuously. The BIble is static, but oh-so-badly needs some serious revision.

          • Maxximiliann

            Where is the Bible wrong?

          • mriehm

            Yeah, I think I'll let that troll lie low.

          • Brad

            "Where is the Bible wrong?"

            The development of different languages.

          • Maxximiliann

            What is your evidence?

          • Brad

            The study of linguistics shows two things in regards to this point. One is that there was never a point where everyone spoke the same language (unless you count the very first mumblings thousands of years ago, but that would require believing people had been around more than 5,000 years), and two that the various languages throughout history have not originated from one point or event.

          • Maxximiliann

            To what specific studies are you referring to?

          • Brad

            I don't think it would matter if I gave you a specific study. It is the accumulation of evidence on how languages arise, change and go extinct. Indo-European languages go back at least 8,000 years and to go further back from this point and meet up with the other branches of language to find a beginning is so far back in time it eliminates the possibility of the tower of babel story being true as well as a young earth creationism.

          • Maxximiliann

            So this is all just your hearsay?

          • Brad

            Yeah, it is.

          • Brad

            Pick any study you want.

          • Michael Murray

            Where is the Bible wrong?

            The idea that Adam and Eve were a single breeding pair of homo sapiens and the sole ancestors of everybody alive today. The scientific evidence is clear that this never happened.

          • Maxximiliann

            You're not presupposing the validity of Macroevolution now, are you?

          • Michael Murray

            I'm not presupposing anything. I am just looking at the scientific consensus which is that evolution by natural selection is the correct theory of how the diversity of species in the natural world arises. Why do I look to the scientific consensus ? Because the evidence of the last few hundred years points overwhelming to the fact that the scientific method is our only effective way of discovering truths about the real world. If you dispute this you really should stop using your computer to be consistent.

          • 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 circular thinking , just what is ?

          • Michael Murray

            You really expect me to reply to a quote from Harun Yahya the famous Islamic creationist ? You must be joking.

            Go and read one of Richard Dawkin's books on evolution and we can talk after you actually know something.

          • Maxximiliann

            Try Gerald Kerkut ...

          • Michael Murray

            Infallible but needs to taken in context? Right.

          • Maxximiliann

            How do you mean? Please elaborate.

          • Michael Murray

            You said somewhere else

            https://strangenotions.com/why-everything-must-have-a-reason-for-its-existence/#comment-1501690289

            that you read Bible passages in context. So it's not like a physics text where things are clearly right or wrong. It is right but only when read properly ?

          • Maxximiliann

            If you recall I clarified that I read them in context to determine whether or not a particular passage is literal, metaphoric, prophetic, etc., etc..

          • Appreciate the comment, Mixximilliann, but there's no need to describe atheistic views as "amphigory" or "wishful thinking." Please re-read our Commenting Rules which require respectful engagement.

          • Maxximiliann

            My apologies, I meant no disrespect :)

          • Even if it is the case that all space/time had an ultimate beginning, this simply tells us nothing about whether it was caused or if it was caused, what the cause is.

            I honestly do not have the education to understand physics so I just cannot debate you on this.

            I am not saying I know anything about ultimate origins of matter or time, I do not think we have any reasonable basis to reach conclusions about this.

            At the end of the day, you are saying that since all matter energy and time began to exist, there must be another way of "existing". I am suggesting that if this is the case, there is no reason to conclude it is a being, that it is personal or call it a god. Its nature is simply unknown.

          • 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.

          • Michael Murray

            Vilenkin (in correspondence to Craig quoted on Craig's website) also say

            . . . of course there is no such thing as absolute certainty in science, especially in matters like the creation of the universe. Note for example that the BGV theorem uses a classical picture of spacetime. In the regime where gravity becomes essentially quantum, we may not even know the right questions to ask.

            Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/honesty-transparency-full-disclosure-and-bgv-theorem#ixzz38KrGCGdo

          • Maxximiliann

            Regardless, we do know that at some point in time our universe did not
            exist and then it did. Given the law of a posteriori causality it's
            reasonable to ask, where did it come from? Who or what caused it to come
            into existence in the first place? Why is there anything at all instead
            of just nothing? *

          • Michael Murray

            Regardless, we do know that at some point in time our universe did not exist and then it did.

            No we don't know that because there was no time. What we know is that the universe is expanding as time passes. As a result if we go backwards in time the everything gets closer together until a point where so much matter is in such a small space that quantum effects take over. The so-called Planck Epoch. We know various things about how the universe expanded from the Planck Epoch forwards which have been verified by observations of microwave background and that sort of thing.

            We can run many mathematical models of space-time []bbackwards from the Plank Epoch to ETZ = extrapolated time zero but we know the models don't apply because they don't include quantum mechanics. At ETZ you will get a singularity in the model but it is in the model in a region where the models applicability to the real world is dubious. So what conclusions you can draw is very trick. To go further back before the ETZ and say things like the universe didn't exist doesn't make sense. There is no space time manifold and no time. It's like saying I walked 10 km north of the north pole ?

          • 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 .

          • Michael Murray

            All very interesting but not really relevant to my reply to your comment:

            Regardless, we do know that at some point in time our universe did not exist and then it did.

            There is no time before EZT probably not even after EZT until the end of the Planck Epoch. All those models you describe are classical gravitational models. A model that describes the real world must include quantum effects. We don't have a such a theory of quantum gravity yet.

          • Maxximiliann

            Regardless, we do know that at some point in time our universe did not exist and then it did.

            Which is how current cosmology agrees with Genesis 1:1.

          • Michael Murray

            Which is how current cosmology agrees with Genesis 1:1.

            But it doesn't because I have pointed out to you already that "began" is a very dubious concept and we don't know there was a "big bang". Did you not see those posts?

            But even if this is correct why should anyone be excited by science agreeing with a very old creation myth. Firstly you have roughly a 50/50 chance of being right. Either the universe began or it didn't. Secondly there are lots of them about. Maybe the Rainbow Serpent created the universe. That explains a lot of things satisfactorily for my countries earliest inhabitants.

            I wonder to what you will do if science changes its mind ? Cosmology is a young science.

          • 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 God Almighty.

          • Michael Murray
          • Maxximiliann

            To refresh your memory. Why are you rehashing a conversation we've already had?

          • Michael Murray

            Then why not post a link. Unlike you my existence is finite in length.

          • Doug Shaver

            a contingent universe demands a non-contingent (i.e., self-existent) cause.

            Why?

          • "Why?"

            Good question, Doug. Thanks for the comment!

            The answer is that you can't have an endless chain of contingent causes. If the existence of A depends on B, and B depends on C, and C depends on D, etc., you eventually *must* arrive at some X (or Y, or Z, etc.) that can explain itself--that doesn't depend on anything else.

            Consider this analogy. Suppose I want a specific library book on Abraham Lincoln. I go to the library and they say, "Sure! You can have it as soon as John brings it back." The library calls John and John says, "Sure! I'll return it as soon as Bill brings it back to me (I let him borrow it.)" John calls Bill and Bill says, "Sure! I'll return it as soon as Larry brings it back to me (I let him borrow it.)" Bill calls Larry, etc.

            Now, suppose then you meet me the next day and you see me holding the Abraham Lincoln book. The only way I could have received that book is if at some point in that long chain of transactions, someone actually had the book in their own possession. They didn't have to borrow it from anyone else.

            Existence is like the book. We all have it. But it's contingent because we all got it from some other cause (our parents, grandparents, etc.) That chain of contingent causes cannot extend infinitely or we would never have existence ourself.

            This example demonstrates how an endless prior chain of contingent causes is metaphysically impossible.

            For that reason, the contingent universe, a universe which doesn't explain itself and does not have to exist, demands a non-contingent cause.

          • Doug Shaver

            you can't have an endless chain of contingent causes.

            Right, you cannot, if contingency implies dependency.

            The OP tried to prove PSR. He did show that anything that exists is more likely to have an explanation than to lack any explanation, but he did not show that this was certain to be case for everything that exists. For any probability X that something will occur, there is a probability of 1 - X that it won't occur. The probability of nonoccurrence cannot be zero unless the probability of occurrence is exactly 1. Therefore, if I affirm the existence of at least one contingently existing uncaused cause, I affirm no contradiction.

          • Guest

            And thus evolution provides a powerful example of the chain of contingency leading to us being explained by a natural cause. If a natural cause now explains how we got here, when before it was assumed to be supernatural, why should we leap to the supernatural again?

          • Maxximiliann

            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 )

          • Doug Shaver

            Interesting video, but nothing I didn't already know. And it does not actually address my question. It does not demonstrate that the only alternative to a non-contingent cause is an infinity of causes. You seem to be assuming that all contingent things must have causes. That has not been demonstrated. And even if they do, I have never seen it proved that there cannot be an infinite number of contingent causes.

          • "It does not demonstrate that the only alternative to a non-contingent cause is an infinity of causes."

            What other alternative is there?

            "You seem to be assuming that all contingent things must have causes."

            Precisely! What contingent reality do you propose that lacks a cause for its existence?

            "I have never seen it proved that there cannot be an infinite number of contingent causes."

            I've shown above in the comment box, extensively, why this is a metaphysical impossibility.

          • Doug Shaver

            What contingent reality do you propose that lacks a cause for its existence?

            I don't know of any. Am I supposed to assume that nothing can exist that I don't know about?

          • Maxximiliann

            Science without a doubt does not have experience of stuffs popping into being ex nihilo sine causa. Bohmian mechanics, for instance, is completely deterministic and furthermore emphasizes that every indeterminacy is actually conceptual.

            “Being never arises from nonbeing”, “something will not originate from nothing” are putative metaphysical principles, just like cause and effect, unhindered in their application. Hence, we certainly have excellent grounds , both abstractly as well as scientifically, for reasoning that whatsoever begins to exist has a cause.

          • Doug Shaver

            Science without a doubt does not have experience of stuffs popping into being ex nihilo sine causa.

            So what? Has it been shown that science has experienced everything that could possibly happen?

          • Maxximiliann

            Therefore, until there is evidence to the contrary, it's pretty safe to presume the creation of our universe is bound by the law of a posteriori causality.

          • Doug Shaver

            Has it been shown that science has experienced everything that could possibly happen?

            Therefore, until there is evidence to the contrary, it's pretty safe to presume the creation of our universe is bound by the law of a posteriori causality.

            I don't remember seeing that law cited in any of the scientific literature I've ever read. And even if the scientific community recognized the existence of such a law, referring to the origin of the universe as the creation of the universe seems a bit question-begging to me.

          • Maxximiliann

            Why?

          • Doug Shaver

            Creation presupposes agency. The question is whether the origin of the universe required any agency.

          • Maxximiliann

            Why wouldn't it?

          • Doug Shaver

            I don't know why any contingent event needs a cause. I observe that all the ones I'm aware of do seem to have one, but since I don't know why, I can infer nothing about the possibility of an uncaused contingent event.

          • Maxximiliann

            All contingent events require a cause because, by definition, that's what a contingent event is. It's occurrence is contingent upon certain conditions first being satisfied.

            Now, as Brandon and I have shared at length, an infinite regress of contingent causes has no basis in reality. It can't be turtles all the way down. This necessarily leaves us with a first uncaused efficient cause; a First Mover as it were, i.e., Almighty God.

          • Michael Murray

            Oh dear. Such a large leap covered over by two such small letters. One wonders if they can take the strain.

          • Doug Shaver

            All contingent events require a cause because, by definition, that's what a contingent event is.

            That is not the definition I have usually seen in the philosophical literature. Until now, whenever I have come across the term, it has been defined by contrast with necessary events, i.e. a contingent event is just one that could possibly have not occurred. We do tend to assume that whenever contingent events occur, they have causes, but that is only an assumption, not a definition.

            Now, as Brandon and I have shared at length, an infinite regress of contingent causes has no basis in reality.

            You have shared it, yes, but you have not proved it.

          • Michael Murray

            We do tend to assume that whenever contingent events occur, they have causes, but that is only an assumption, not a definition.

            When they are things like radioactive decay this becomes rather difficult as well.

          • Maxximiliann

            Infinity is a purely mathematical construct, just like imaginary numbers and imaginary time, with no basis in reality. That's why the only way Hilbert's Grand Hotel works is if you exclude the set of real numbers.

          • Doug Shaver

            Infinity is a purely mathematical construct, just like imaginary numbers and imaginary time, with no basis in reality.

            I've never heard of imaginary time, but imaginary numbers have as much basis in reality as the other kind.

            I'm aware that lots of philosophers have said that an actual infinity cannot exist, but I don't regard "Lots of philosophers believe X" to be a proof of any X.

          • Maxximiliann

            That's certainly your prerogative.

          • Michael Murray

            All number systems are imaginary. The real numbers are no more real than the imaginary numbers and just as complex.

            Your remark about HGH is deeply confused. The real numbers are in infinite set so satisfy the core condition of the HGH which is the existence of a bijection from themselves to a proper subset of themselves. What is your point ?

          • Maxximiliann

            That infinity has no basis in reality.

          • Michael Murray

            What infinity ? I have no idea what you are talking about. You said the real numbers have to be excluded from something. Usually when I talk about the HGH to students I am discussing the natural numbers {1, 2, 3, ...}. One natural number for each hotel room. No real numbers in sight. So my question remains what do you mean by

            That's why the only way Hilbert's Grand Hotel works is if you exclude the set of real numbers.

          • Maxximiliann

            Watch the video. It's illustrated quite nicely at the very end.

          • Michael Murray

            It's illustrated quite nicely at the very end.

            OK so what you were trying to say was "the real numbers are not countable". That I understand. As the video points out you could play the game again with a hotel with one room for every real number. Then you could accommodate a bus with one passenger for every real number.

            Like I said I've been telling the Hilbert Hotel story to students from before there was an internet. Which must make me nearly infinitely old.

          • Maxximiliann

            lol :)

          • Michael Murray

            infinity has no basis in reality

            This is a popular slogan I see around the internet but not true. The universe (i.e. the whole of space-time) could be infinite in extent. If you hold your hands out in front of you there are an uncountable number of points in any line joining them if our models of space-time are correct.

          • Maxximiliann

            HGH proves that infinity has no basis in reality like dividing by zero. That's why there are special rules and limitations governing the mathematical manipulation of infinities.

          • Michael Murray

            I gave you some examples of real infinities.

          • Maxximiliann

            But they're not real infinities at all. The number of particles in the space between my hands is finite, not infinite.

          • Michael Murray

            There are an infinite number of locations in space-time. So when you say "no infinities in nature" you mean no infinite collections of particles. Even that is dubious as particles are not a very well-defined notion. Any Feynman path integral is contains an infinite collection of contributions from virtual particles.

            Another example would be to think of a field defined on in front of you. Maybe the electric field from your computer. It takes on an infinite number of values in any arbitrarily small region in front of you. Does that count as an infinity in nature ?

          • Maxximiliann

            You forget, though, that mathematical models are descriptive, not prescriptive. Nature, on the other hand, is real.

          • Michael Murray

            Ah but couple to the scientific method they can give as accurate descriptions of nature. Accurate enough to build the computer you are typing on.

          • "If you hold your hands out in front of you there are an uncountable number of points in any line joining them if our models of space-time are correct."

            "I gave you some examples of real infinities."

            You actually gave just one example, the one above.

            However, it's not an example of a real infinite. The number of invisible points between any line is not real, in the philosophical sense. Points are just useful, mathematical fictions. They don't really exist in space and time.

          • Michael Murray

            No I pointed out that space-time might also be infinite. That is two examples. I don't expect you to agree with them but it is kcertainly plural.

          • "No I pointed out that space-time might also be infinite. That is two examples. I don't expect you to agree with them but it is kcertainly plural."

            But you claimed you "gave some examples of real infinities" (emphasis added). Claiming that space-time "might also be infinite" is not to provide an example. For instance, if I said, "God might exist," that would not be to provide an example of an existent God.

            But semantics aside, there are no good reasons to think the universe is infinite (either spatially or temporally) and plenty of good reasons to think it is not--and that it cannot be. I'd encourage you to re-read this post at Strange Notions by Fr. Robert Spitzer:

            https://strangenotions.com/how-contemporary-physics-points-to-god/

            I'm interested in your reply to my previous comment though about how invisible points are useful mathematical fictions and not example of real infinities. Would you agree?

          • Michael Murray

            I'm interested in your reply to my previous comment though about how invisible points are useful mathematical fictions and not example of real infinities. Would you agree?

            They are possible locations at which events might occur in space-time? How is that not an "infinity in nature". Do only particles at such locations count? Do virtual particles count or are they not part of nature ?

            It seems to me the problem is far more subtle than implied by the usual dismissal it gets.

            In any case as I just replied to maximillian here is another possibility

            Another example would be to think of a field defined in front of you. Maybe the electric field from your computer. It takes on an infinite number of values in any arbitrarily small region in front of you. Does that count as an infinity in nature ?

        • Maxximiliann

          (1) Everything that exists has an objective explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
          (A) If Atheism is true, the universe has no objective explanation of its existence.
          (B) If the universe has an objective explanation of its existence then atheism is false.

          (2) The universe exists.
          (3) The space-time universe does not exist out of the necessity of it’s own nature for it did not exist until 13.70 billion years ago.
          (4) Therefore, the space-time universe exists because of an external cause.

          (5) The external cause of the universe must necessarily be a beginningless, spaceless, immaterial, timeless, unchanging, omnipotent and personal being.
          (6) A beginningless, spaceless, immaterial, timeless, unchanging, omnipotent and personal being is the definition of God.
          (7) Therefore, the objective explanation of the universe's existence is God.

          (8) Therefore, Atheism is false.

          To borrow from an illustration by Richard Taylor, "Imagine you are walking through the woods on a hike and you come across a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You would naturally wonder where that ball came from – what is the explanation of its existence? If your hiking buddy said to you, “Don’t worry about it – it just exists, inexplicably!,” you would think either that he was crazy or that he wanted you to keep on moving. But you wouldn’t take seriously the idea that this ball just exists without any explanation of its existence.

          Now suppose that the ball, instead of being the size of a basketball, were the size of an automobile. Merely increasing the size of the ball would not do anything to remove or satisfy the demand for an explanation of its existence, would it? Suppose it were the size of a house? Same problem! Suppose it were the size of a planet or a galaxy? Same problem! Suppose it were the size of the entire universe? Same problem! Merely increasing the size of the object does not do anything to remove or satisfy the demand for an explanation of its existence. And so I think it is very plausible to think that everything that exists has an explanation of why it exists." (http://bit.ly/Pm4s92)

          “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” -C.S. Lewis

          • I do not accept most of the premises you listed or the conclusions you draw from them above.

            But lets us talk about the ball analogy. What do you man by "exists" here? Whether it is a ball I recognize, is new to me, a car, a house, or the universe. They are all made out of matter, and I am ignorant of the ultimate origin of matter. I know nothing more of the ultimate origin of the matter in the basketball than the entire Universe or anything else. I could likely find out a lot about how matter was rearranged from other structures and states to make the items I am familiar with, but this doesn't explain ultimately where all matter came from. I do not see the point of the analogy.

          • Maxximiliann

            That's certainly your prerogative but, can you refute them?

          • Maxximiliann

            The point is that everything that exists has an objective explanation for it's existence be it the necessity of it's own nature or in an external cause.

    • Steven Dillon

      Thanks for the response Brian. Where possible, I try to use terms in the least controversal ways, ways so common it'd be platitudinous to define them. So, for example, my argument doesn't breach the commonsensical usage of 'thing' by meaning 'bare particular'.

      Now, as indicated in the post, to call something 'evidence' -- whether it's pot shards, fragementary texts, finger prints or whatever -- just is to say that it is more likely to be, given one hypothesis than another.

      But, no matter what 'x' refers to -- whether an event, state of affairs, property, object, relation, etc. -- x is more likely to be, given that it has an explanation of its existence than that it doesn't. Thus, it follows by the very rules of probability theory that a thing's existence counts as 'evidence' in favor of the hypothesis that it has an explanation of its existence. Since this holds regardless of what 'x' refers to, the evidence distributes across everything that 'x' refers to.

      As Brandon indicated, ontological necessity contrasts with bruteness in that necessity *is* a form of explicability, whereas bruteness is not. To say that something exists because it is incapable of doing otherwise is to explain why it exists, even if it is minimally informative.

      • Okay, is it the case that explanations entail existence in this way only when they have some empirical basis? For example to take the unicorn analogy, I can postulate all kinds of coherent hypothetical explanations, including "the unicorns I am speaking of are self-existent" or, are "supernatural beings which had a material existence but now leave no physical trace". Such statements would not count as significant evidence for the existence of unicorns would they?

        • Steven Dillon

          To say that an explanation entails x is only to say that x necessarily follows from the truth of the explanation, it is not to say that the explanation is true.

          Thus, while the statement "Unicorns have explanations of their existence" entails that there are unicorns, it happens to be false.

          Moreover, the hypotheses that compete to explain something aren't what count as evidence, it's what they compete to explain that does.

          So, the hypothesis "Unicorns have explanations of their existence" wouldn't count as evidence that there are unicorns, the existence of unicorns would count as evidence that this statement is true.

          • I get it. This was my point. We don't get to say that an explanation makes the existence of x more likely, until that explanation is established as either true or more likely than not true empirically.

            So just saying that x is defined as existing or self-existing does not make x more likely, we need to establish that x actually is self-existing.

            It actually seems you are just restating validity in formal arguments.

  • Vincent Herzog

    Thanks for this, Steve. I really enjoyed this piece. For fun, I (a Catholic and a trumpeter of the Five Ways) will in turn play the part of the atheist. Can you motivate our accepting the claim that sufficient reasons entail what they explain? We might think that, were the explanandum not entailed by the explanans, then there would be room for something else to have existed or obtained, and we would need some reason why the explanandum obtained rather than something else. The reason there's some doubt for me is that, on the Aristotelian and also Thomistic view, agents suffiently explain their actions, but do not entail them. Now, we might be more careful and say that agent A's willing action x, and having all the necessary rigamaroo, plus favorable conditions, to execute it, explains A's x-ing, but then we can move it up and say at least that A (or maybe A-in-such-and-such-a-mental-state) explains A's willing x, but doesn't entail it. We want to say the agent, and not their motivations, explain an actions, lest there be no substantial agency to speak of. (We seek to discover a murderer's motive, not to exculpate him, but precisely to establish guilt.) It's not clear from your piece that you would require actions fall under the PSR, for we don't say they "exist," but rather that they "happen," "occur," "obtain," etc. However, the case of agents sufficiently actions gives us some room to doubt that sufficient explanations entail their explananda.

    When we fit some version of the PSR into a cosmological argument for the existence of God, more trouble ensues. Say we want to explain what obtains, ultimately, by God. But (pace Leibniz) God surely knew of (infinitely?) many equally good or even better worlds He could have caused to obtain. What made God choose this world rather than another? Do we have a sufficient reason this one obtains? If not, then the atheist might want to say, "Hey, can we go back to the brute fact that this state of affairs obtains, unexplained? While that left us in same lurch, it reduced our posits and made Occam happy."

    At this point, the theist is going to want to say, "But wait! Maybe some sufficient reasons--like agents--don't necessitate what they explain after all."

    Sadly, I'm a little rusty when it comes to philosophy. I'd love to hear if there's some misstep or confusion in the above.

    • Steven Dillon

      Thanks for the comment Vincent! Unfortunately, I'm an Aristotelian too, so I'd be playing Devil's Advocate by rebutting your comments :P (Actually, my hobby atm is to harmonize broad-Thomism with Paganism: paganphilosophy.blogspot.com)

      Interestingly, atheist philosophers have picked up on the Leibnizian's problem of how God selected which world to actualize. Klaas Kraay has a number of papers dealing with this: http://www.ryerson.ca/~kraay/

      But, I believe you raised these points because my post seemed to indicate that explanans entail their explananda. Perhaps the ambiguity is good, as it allows readers on either side of the 'entailment' controversy to accept the argument.

      However, although "x has an explanation of its existence" is sufficient for "x exists", I'd say it's also incapable of being true unless the latter is, since then it'd say of what is not, that it is.

      If this your philosophical clarity when you're rusty, I'm jealous! :P

      • Vincent Herzog

        Thanks for the reply and kind words, Steve. I'll definitely check out your site!

        I'm missing something in the fourth paragraph. You would not have to say of what is that it is not if you said "R suffices to explain such things as x's; yet, there is no x." I'll admit, it's odd to think of sufficient explanations obtaining without, all things equal, what they would suffice to explain obtaining. I can only see room for it with agents, but that's just the sort of thing God would need to be, an agent--or, THE agent.

  • But, something is more likely to exist given that it has an explanation of its existence (H1) than that it does not (H2), because having an explanation of its existence entails that it exists, whereas lacking such an explanation does not.

    That's inaccurate enough to be best considered wrong, though there's a large kernel of truth in it. The problem is that you haven't actually given any content to H1 or H2, so drawing conclusions from them is premature at best. Let's give them a minimum of content so that we can evaluate them.

    Suppose first an "explanation of something's existence" can't be cashed out in rigorous terms. Then there's no way to evaluable the probabilities under H1 and H2 and the comparison fails. So instead let's suppose that we can give a more rigorous interpretation of "explanation of something's existence". There are infinitely many ways to do that, but only a few which capture our intuitions well. Here's my best effort:

    A thing X's existence is "explained" by a theory H and set of initial conditions C if, given H and C, X's causal development to its current state has a probability over some threshold T. P(X|C,H)>T.

    Now one thing that should be immediately apparent to the semi-math-literate folk is that, on this account, there can be no such thing as one that lacks an explanation, except if X contains a paradoxical definition. I think this is an acceptable match for the assumptions of some non-empiricists including some Catholics. (What do you think, Steven?)

    But there's a critical issue of relevance that's still missing. Why did the anti-PSR crowd ever propose that things might not need an explanation? Without stopping to consider that, we can't check whether they would consider the definition above to address their concerns. The answer, of course, is that the anti-PSR people were motivated by empiricism. While there definitely exists some theory that explains whatever-you-will, there may not exist any such theory (and consequently no explanation) for certain things (such as the Universe) which we could be justified in believing, even in principle.

    To be justified in believing a theory (and its explanation), of course, we would need to find evidence to raise its posterior probability substantially above the alternatives. It's an open question still whether this may be possible in the future practically or in principle at all. Consequently, empiricists' concerns on this point remain unaddressed.

    • Steven Dillon

      Thanks for the reply Noah. But, I'm not sure I understand your objection.

      Given that x's causal development to its current state is more likely given H and C than not, then x's causal development to its current state counts as evidence of H and C.

      Thus, in so far as empiricism implies that there is some x that causally developed to its current state without H and C, we have evidence against empiricism.

      • Given that x's causal development to its current state is more likely given H and C than not, then x's causal development to its current state counts as evidence of H and C.

        That's not correct, because "than not" is not a valid comparison. You need multiple theories in order to say which the evidence supports.

        ...evidence against empiricism.

        Uh, was that paragraph mangled by one or more typos? Because otherwise, it looks like it is deeply confused about what evidence and empiricism are. If there's no typo, then we should definitely have a discussion about what evidence and empiricism are!

        But, I'm not sure I understand your objection.

        In short, I had three objections. First, you didn't define your terms, and so you leapt to answers not supported by your reasoning. Second, you did the math wrong. Third, you didn't address the actual concerns of the people who deny that the Universe needs to have an explanation for existing.

        • Steven Dillon

          That's not correct, because "than not" is not a valid comparison. You need multiple theories in order to say which the evidence supports.

          Of course it's valid to compare a hypothesis to its negation: all you need is two theories.

          Uh, was that paragraph mangled by one or more typos? Because otherwise, it looks like it is deeply confused about what evidence and empiricism are. If there's no typo, then we should definitely have a discussion about what evidence and empiricism are!

          I think we might need that talk! :P Your initial comment indicated that 'empiricism' is to be included in H2 because, contrary to H1, it rejects that for every x, there is an H and C that explains x's existence.

          So the natural inference is that if empiricism competes with H1 to explain x's existence, and H1 does better, then x's existence confirms H1 *over* empiricism.

          In short, I had three objections. First, you didn't define your terms, and so you leapt to answers not supported by your reasoning. Second, you did the math wrong. Third, you didn't address the actual concerns of the people who deny that the Universe needs to have an explanation for existing.

          Your definition works well enough (it doesn't particularly matter, I don't think), the calculations did not rely on an ignorance prior, and such people would be given reason to change their minds in so far as their position is included in H2.

          • Of course it's valid to compare a hypothesis [sic] to its negation: all you need is two theories.

            No, the negation of a theory is not itself a theory. The closest valid alternative I can think of to your mistake here is that one could, for example, define a measure over the space of all theories, remove H1, call the rest H2, and then integrate P(X|H2) over that. But of course that's not computable and doesn't converge, so it's utterly impossible in real life.

            I think we might need that talk!

            OK. First off, you're using "empiricism" in a funny way that I can't recall having ever encountered before. What I meant by it is the usage glossed by Wikipedia as the idea that "all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation." It's not a theory nor a part of a theory. It's the kind of reasoning that uses evidence to select beliefs. Evidence cannot be for or against empiricism itself. Empiricism can be contrasted with rationalism, which is the kind of reasoning that tries to deduce beliefs a priori, and faith, which is the kind of reasoning that tries to square the facts with pre-existing beliefs.

            Evidence is the set of every empirically observable fact. It certainly includes every physical thing within our light cone, and conceivably could include other things also.

          • Steven Dillon

            Every proposition can be formulated into a hypothesis. The negation of any hypothesis is a disjunction, and is widely treated as a hypothesis by Bayesians. The fact that you think this is a mistake perplexes me.

            I took your use of 'empiricism' to negate H1, but since it doesn't (necessarily, at least), you're right, my argument presupposes the falsity of empiricism. I'm not convinced that people oppose PSR by and large because of empiricism, nearly every argument I've seen opposed to PSR in the literature argues that it is contradictory, or leads to unacceptable conclusions.

            As far as "evidence is the set of every empirically observable fact", it *can* mean that, but it's certainly not used like that primarily, nor in Bayes' theorem. Finger prints, pottery shards, and texts are often used as 'evidence', for example.

            And in philosophy at least, Bayes' factors don't get very high: we work with what we have. We're not doing physics here, my point was just that there *was* evidence for PSR, contrary to popular belief, not that it had a high Bayes' factor.

          • Every proposition can be formulated into a hypothesis [sic]. The negation of any hypothesis [sic] is a disjunction, and is widely treated as a hypothesis [sic] by Bayesians. The fact that you think this is a mistake perplexes me.

            It's a mistake because your domain is all possible theories. The "natural" choice for a measure over a disjunction is a uniform distribution, but that doesn't work when the domain is unbounded. Again, that's why the disjunction of all possible theories except H1 requires a measure before you can integrate across it.

            my argument presupposes the falsity of empiricism

            Um, you seem to still be attaching some unusual and unclear meaning to "empiricism". As I described it in the above comment, it's not a proposition and not capable of being true or false. It's a style of reasoning.

            As far as "evidence is the set of every empirically observable fact", it *can* mean that, but it's certainly not used like that primarily, nor in Bayes' theorem. Finger prints, pottery shards, and texts are often used as 'evidence', for example.

            Uh... Do I really need to point out to you that finger prints, pottery shards, and texts are observable? I don't understand how that confused you.

            And in philosophy at least, Bayes' factors don't get very high

            That's an excellent reason to pay little or no heed to such philosophy.

            my point was just that there *was* evidence for PSR

            Understood; but your point is in error.

          • Steven Dillon

            It's a mistake because your domain is all possible theories.

            The domain isn't all possible theories though: H2 is the disjunction of hypotheses that negate H1, and many hypotheses are excluded from H2 because they don't have anything to do with H1. E.g. The hypothesis that 'Jones killed Smith' is not included in either H1 or H2.

            As I described it in the above comment, it's not a proposition and not capable of being true or false.

            The description of empiricism you quoted from wikipedia is a declarative statement: it expresses a proposition. Qua propositions of this sort, empiricism is propositional. Qua 'style of reasoning' or what have you, it isn't. The same ambiguity crops up with 'naturalism', which is taken to be a research programme by some, and propositional by others.

            Do I really need to point out to you that finger prints, pottery shards, and texts are observable?

            Of course finger prints, pottery shards and texts are observable, but they're not facts: facts are true propositions

          • The domain isn't all possible theories though: H2 is the disjunction of hypotheses that negate H1

            That's a non-sequitur followed by a distinction without a difference. Regarding the latter fallacy: the negation of H1 is "not H1", not "the opposite of whatever H1 says". All theories except H1 are not H1. Thus the negation of H1 is all theories except H1. Regarding the former fallacy: defining H2 in terms of H1 doesn't tell us what their domain is.

            many hypotheses are excluded from H2 because they don't have anything to do with H1. E.g. The hypothesis that 'Jones killed Smith' is not included in either H1 or H2.

            Ah. I'm using "theory" in the technical sense of "model of how reality behaves", like the first definition here, not the colloquial sense of "any speculation". (You can see this by referring back to the parent comment, where I wrote about H as involving "initial conditions" and "causal development".) That could be part of the confusion. The material here is a profitable introduction to what I'm thinking. The informal summary is that the kind of thing I call a "theory" is the kind of thing that could, for some conceivable world, be a scientific theory of how things there work.

            As the above link describes, such theories can be enumerated as code in various ways. (For example, here's code that will do it, although the document is in French.) Given any piece of code, there's always a longer one, meaning that if we're considering causal sciencey-like theories, we are indeed considering infinitely many theories.

            As I described it in the above comment, it's not a proposition and not capable of being true or false.

            The description of empiricism you quoted from wikipedia is a declarative statement: it expresses a proposition.

            Dude, however much I appreciate the comparison, I'm not Wikipedia. I'm trying to write precisely, so I'd appreciate it if you would read precisely. Let's move back to the substance of the matter. If you wish to maintain that empiricism as I described it ("the kind of reasoning that uses evidence to select beliefs") is falsified by your evidence that stuff'n'such exists, I'm open to hearing how.

            Of course finger prints, pottery shards and texts are observable, but they're not facts: facts are true propositions

            Augh!, so much quibbling about definitions! Well, the first and second definitions are what I meant by the term. I did explicitly say that "every physical thing within our light cone" was included among the facts that constitute evidence. (Incidentally, your proposed definition isn't in the lists of those dictionaries, so if you want to use the word that way it might help to let people know.) In any case, there's a point to emphasizing what evidence is: the definition is so broad that no one can say "Bah, that's not evidence of anything!", and yet it's narrow enough that you have to actually show people a fact if you expect them to take it as evidence.

  • See my first comment for the more general and more important response.

    Now, we know that something’s existence has the highest possible expectation given H1 because it is properly entailed or necessitated by it. ... The mere lack of an explanation of thing’s existence provides no reason whatsoever to think it exists ... Note that even if I have overestimated the strength of this evidence, it is still evidence

    You have overestimated it. If H1 entails X, then P(X|H1)=1. If H2 is independent of X, then P(X|H2)=P(X). It really sounds like you're suggesting use of an ignorance prior with the "no reason whatsoever" line. The ignorance prior would be just P(X)=1/2. The Bayes factor is thus 2. You have only one bit of evidence -- not even enough to be worth mentioning.

    • Steven Dillon

      As I said in the post "unless a thing’s existence is extremely expected given its inexplicability, it will count as significantly strong evidence for its explicability."

      I argue that x's existence is anything but extremely expected given its inexplicability because "the mere lack of an explanation of a thing's existence provides no reason whatsoever to think it exists." That is, we should not expect x given H2 because there's no reason to.

      As you noted, P(x|H1)=1.0. But, given my argument above, I can't think of any good reason to place P(x|H2) higher than 0.5. Of course, with numbers like these, x is pretty gnarly evidence for H1.

      • The Bayes Factor is P(X|H1)/P(X|H2), which given your numbers is just 2. That not "gnarly evidence". It's literally no better than a coinflip.

        • Steven Dillon

          Um, given that P(H2)=0.5 and therefore that P(H1)=0.5, the above numbers require that P(H1|x)=0.6. That is, the evidence I've offered confirms that H1 is true. That's better than a coinflip :P

          But, who would honestly say that P(H2)=0.5? It'd be lower, and with that, P(H1|x) would increase.

          • Huh? That math doesn't make any sense.

          • Steven Dillon

            P(H|e) = [P(H) * P(e|H)] / [P(H) * P(e|H)] + [P(~H) * P(e|~H)]

            Assume the following estimates:

            P(~H)=0.5.
            P(H)=0.5.
            P(e|H)=1.0.
            P(e|~H)=0.5.

            [0.5 * 1.0] / [0.5 * 1.0] + [0.5 * 0.5]

            [0.5] / [0.5] + [0.25]
            [0.5] / [0.75]
            [0.6]

            Therefore, P(H|e)=0.6.

          • Yeah, that math is wrong in several different ways. Care to revise? You'll learn the math better figuring out how it went wrong than just reading the correction. If you're not interested or don't have the time, I'll post a correction.

          • Steven Dillon

            Noah: You seem to have a number of misunderstandings about how Bayes' theorem works, so I'm apprehensive about taking your 'corrections' on board. But, maybe I've miscalculated the numbers, despite running them several times. I won't be able to respond for a while, but I'll check tomorrow.

          • 1.) Trivially, an order-of-operations error. But that's unimportant as it's easy to see that you meant
            P(H|X) = P(X|H)*P(H) / (P(X|H)*P(H)+P(X|~H)*P(~H)).

            2.) Also trivially, even if it were the case that P(H1|X)=2/3, that would not "confirm that H1 is true". It would confirm that H1 is about 67% likely true and about 33% likely false. This is a critical distinction to keep in mind. We don't compress our probabilities to a simple "true" or "false"!

            There's nothing special about 50% probability either. As a practical matter many people including myself prefer to remain avowedly agnostic unless the probabilities are seriously skewed, like 99% credence and up. As a normative theoretical matter, the probabilities go into expected value calculations, at which nothing special changes at 50% versus other percents.

            3.) Now the real point. You used an ignorance prior to set P(H1)=P(H2), which is incorrect. Recall that our domain here is not a binary choice like "the ball is in either the red box or the blue box". Our domain is all possible theories. H1 is the set of theories that entail X with probability 1. H2 is the disjunction of all the rest, i.e. the set of theories that entail X with probabilities [0-1). So there are infinitely more theories composing H2 than H1. The ignorance prior would therefore recommend P(H2)=1 and P(H1)=0. So P(H1|X) would end up equalling zero.

            Huh. I'd never thought about that before. The ignorance prior entails non-determinism. :) I'm sure Bruno Marchal would snort and say, "Oui! But of course!".

          • Steven Dillon

            Noah: You said the math "doesn't make any sense" and that my "math is wrong in several places."

            But, after reading your critiques, I don't see any error in the math.

            1.) I see you've swapped the likelihood terms in place with the priors, but that doesn't affect the math.

            2.) You're right, the calculation would show that H1 is 67% likely to be true, not that it is true simpliciter. We often believe that a proposition that's probably true is true, and I muddied that distinction. This doesn't affect the math though.

            3.) H1 = 'x has an explanation of its existence', H2 = 'x does not have an explanation of its existence'. H2 must be propositional, the Law of Excluded Middle -- which probability theory assumes -- requires it. I followed custom in estimating both at 0.5 so as not to beg the question against either, as well as to reason a fortiori.

            Maybe my prior estimations are the math that didn't make sense to you, nor would they if the hypotheses were unbounded. But, what H1 and H2 refer to is a semantic issue, not a mathematical one. As explained above, H2 is just the disjunction of hypotheses that negate H1. The set of H1 and H2 certainly do not comprise the totality of hypotheses, only a fraction of them.

          • 1.) Trivially, an order-of-operations error.

            I see you've swapped the likelihood terms in place with the priors, but that doesn't affect the math.

            Order of operations is distinct from commutative property of multiplication. Your parentheses were misplaced, which might confuse some readers. But yeah, totally trivial.

            2.) We don't compress our probabilities to a simple "true" or "false"!

            This doesn't affect the math though.

            Granted, it's not a calculation error. But math is primarily the correct use of the numbers, not just the plug-and-chug of calculations. So until 1 = 2/3, yes, it's a critical math error. But it's been fixed now. :)

            H1 is the set of theories that entail X with probability 1. H2 is the disjunction of all the rest, i.e. the set of theories that entail X with probabilities [0-1).

            H1 = 'x has an explanation of its existence', H2 = 'x does not have an explanation of its existence'.

            If you refer back to the initial comment, you'll see that I was responding to the only section of the article where you gave some content to what it might mean to "have an explanation" or not. The content you proposed was that theories "explain" things by necessitating them. So I used that content to put the above explicit numbers and more exact phrasing to H1 and H2. In my view, the unquantified and wholly ambiguous nature of your proposals for H1 and H2 is the source of the mistaken reasoning, and reducing H1 and H2 to clearer terms as I tried is the way to make some progress.

    • Incidentally, the key part of the problem remains even with a prior as incredibly strict as the Solomonoff Universal Prior. Since H2 can be anything, the problem remains (I think) no matter what the choice of priors.

      Suppose Ht is the true theory explaining X. Nevertheless, there always exists some false Hx that is at least as good or better, i.e. P(X|Hx)>=P(X|Ht).

  • Eriktb

    The theist argues what ought to be according to their reasoning. The atheist asks the theist to demonstrate that what the claims ought to be is. The theist either fails to do or their evidence is deemed insufficient for whatever reason and round and round we go.

    What ought to be and what is are not necessarily the same thing. If you can not demonstrate your theory is based on what is reality then your argument will go nowhere. This is, and has always been, the biggest rift. The theist makes an eloquent argument(for the most part I guess) but they fall short of showing the work to the atheist.

    Present all the arguments you can conceive of and it won't matter if you can't demonstrate through evidence that your argument is compelling. The argument isn't the evidence, it's what you use to test your argument in the face of what is.

    • Vincent Herzog

      There's a bit of irony here, Eriktb: your argument above is entirely in the abstract. You include no demonstrative particulars. It is, then, an abstract argument against abstract arguments. Therefore, if it succeeds, it fails. Of course, if it fails, it fails. Hence, it fails.

      • Eriktb

        I'm not clear on what argument I presented. I stated that theists will claim what ought to be according to their reasoning(read any article under the existence of god on this site) and the atheist will argue the evidence lacking or the theist will generally not show evidence in support of their own argument(read the threads on said articles under the existence of god). Beyond that, which I still don't think is really an argument as much as an example of the "dialogue", I'm requesting that theists present their argument then follow it with something resembling evidence in support instead of relying the strength of the argument alone.

        • Vincent Herzog

          I admit it wasn't much of an argument you put forward. It would have been better to say that your approach was self-undermining. In any case, you're mistaken about what holds more rational weight, evidence (by which I assume you mean empirical evidence) or a good argument. "Evidence" all on its own still stands in need of a good argument to make it evidence at all, whereas a good argument does not stand in need of further evidence, although such further evidence is always nice.

          • Eriktb

            Unnecessary condescension aside, the idea that arguments should be given more weight than evidence is idiotic. As I said originally, you can present any argument you wish, however that argument doesn't mean anything, and certainly doesn't prove or persuade, without evidence in support of it. That alone should be more than enough to show that an argument alone will never be more useful than evidence.

          • Vincent Herzog

            Eriktb, it was your unnecessary condescension—and inconsistency—which I was initially calling out. In any case, I'd recommend you look into (1) basic epistemology and (2) philosophy of science. Finally, if you are not convinced by a good argument, the problem is not with the argument.

          • Eriktb

            Thank you for the suggestion but I've done that before. Also I have no problem saying if I find an argument persuasive. The fact that an argument is persuasive doesn't say much if evidence contradicts it. Which is why the problem always ends up being the lack of supporting evidence given by the theists in these debates. It's the been the short coming of this website since it's inception.

          • Vincent Herzog

            We've jumped tracks from all arguments' supposed blanket need for further evidence to be convincing to the problem of counter evidence against an otherwise persuasive argument. You're right that the conclusion of a good argument should be consistent with all else that we know, if that's the intuition you're working from, but that's actually a different position than the more ambitious and controversial position you have been taking (though hardly defending—and certainly not with empirical evidence!). I'm going to leave off here, Eriktb, because we're spinning our wheels and, given your position, you've already made it clear that your interlocutors won't find purchase with solid argumentation. I even presented you empirical evidence: your own posts. I hope the best for your sincere investigations.

          • Eriktb

            I wasn't aware that my original intent was not as clear as it probably should have been. I have no qualms whatsoever saying an argument can be/is persuasive/compelling based strictly on it's own logic. The problem I wanted to bring up with these debates is that we often seem to stop short of actually backing up the argument with evidence when requested. That's why I mentioned looking through passed articles as well as the threads that follow them. I've noticed more often than not that the party requesting further evidence or, at the very least, offering a counter-argument which highlights short comings that could be refuted with evidence are left feeling as though those issues aren't adequately resolved.

            The reason we've had the same basic arguments for centuries is not a sign that one side or the other is simply ignoring their opponent, it's that one side isn't buying what the other is selling without something more than a decent argument being offered. That "something more" simply isn't being offered.

            I'm willing to submit that the Deistic version of a deity is compelling but I'm not willing to say the same about evidence in favor of that particular form of God actually existing. When you attempt to go from that watered down version of a creator to one as specific as an Abrahamic God then there's a hell of lot more that you're going to have to do to make a compelling argument. And that's well before we start discussing evidence in support of the argument.

  • Tim Dacey

    Hey Steven:

    Let me first apologize if someone else has brought up the point I am about to make. If so, then point me to your response to them.

    I Just need a bit of clarification.

    It seems your argument is suggesting that if the PSR is true, then God necessarily exists(?) Or, if the PSR is true, then probability that God exists is rather high(?) Whatever the case, if the PSR is true, then if S's belief that God doesn't exist is irrational because S's belief is logically incoherent or S is ignoring the evidence.

    • Steven Dillon

      Thanks for the question Tim, I am simply defending this particular formulation of PSR. It has often went on to be used in arguments for God, or against Naturalism. But, my argument doesn't commit to any of these, explicitly. This defense can be useful, however, to those employing PSR in such arguments.

      • Tim Dacey

        Okay thank you. So let's suppose that the PSR is false. I don't necessarily know whether it is or not, but my empiricist (pace Hume) sympathies incline me to *at least* take pause at it. So if the PSR is false, then would you think that the likelihood that God exists becomes rather low.

        Consider it this way (where G=God exists); if the PSR is true, then....

        (1) p(G/PSR) > p(~G/PSR)

        and if the PSR is false, then....

        (2) p(~G/~PSR) > p(G/~PSR)

        I know you are not *explicitly* making the case that God exists, given the PSR. But it seems that *you are* suggesting that the PSR is a necessary condition for rational belief in God (and I don't necessarily think that it is).

        • Steven Dillon

          I wouldn't say that one must believe in PSR in order to rationally believe in God, but I would say that God's existence entails PSR. This is only evident on reflection though, after several metaphysical considerations pertaining to the nature of anything that isn't God.

  • staircaseghost

    Did you notice that you failed to clearly define "has an explanation", the absolutely central concept in the argument?

    So we have one concept that can mean everything from "supplies a parsimonious model taking observations at one time as inputs and altering expectations of observations at some subsequent time" (what science does), to "gives a normative justification of" (what we mean when we ask someone to explain why you should have to pay for public schools even though you don't have any children), to "shows the meaning of" (what you ask a lawyer when you don't understand a contract provision, or ask a Japanese man about a billboard written in kanji you can't read) and any number of other wildly different things.

    Do PSR supporters really believe the universal and inviolate principle that every single fact "has an explanation" in every conceivable legitimate use of that term, or only in some subset of those definitions? I don't know, and neither, I suspect does anyone else.

    Once again I just see another Scholastic argument with a crunchy outside of technical terms (PSR! Expectation Principle! Hey look, that 'pipe' symbol from them Plantinga books!) masking a gooey center of mushy, undefined intuitions and plain-English terms like "explanation" casually deployed as though they had anything remotely resembling a precise operational definition.

    Speaking of gooeyness, while I know several (mutually exclusive) precisifying definitions of "explanation", I have no idea what it is for something to have an explanation "in" its own nature. Is a thing's nature kind of second-thing every thing carries around like a purse, and you can open it up and see third-things like "atomic number", "degree of benevolence", "boiling point", and oh, there it is next to the chapstick, its "explanation"?

    I don't see how I'm supposed to even begin to evaluate an argument in favor of a suggested principle if I can't even clearly define super basic components of what the principle entails.

    • Steven Dillon

      An author usually doesn't define terms that her audience presumably understands. It's important to assume the most rational reading of your interlocutor's arguments until given good reason not to, not only because it's the charitable thing to do, but so that you're not just rebutting a weak version of a strong argument.

      In this case, you've cast 'explanation' as this amorphous lump of symbols that needs 'explaning' before its sense is recognizable, and offered candidates that have never been used in arguments for PSR.

      All an explanation is, is an answer to a question. Answers can be true, false, clear or misleading. In this case, the question is why does x exist? and my argument is that no matter 'x' refers to, there is a true answer to this question: x exists because it was caused to, or because it's incapable of not existing.

      • So we have one concept that can mean everything from "supplies a parsimonious model taking observations at one time as inputs and altering expectations of observations at some subsequent time" (what science does), to "gives a normative justification of" (what we mean when we ask someone to explain why you should have to pay for public schools even though you don't have any children), to "shows the meaning of" (what you ask a lawyer when you don't understand a contract
        provision, or ask a Japanese man about a billboard written in kanji you can't read) and any number of other wildly different things.

        All an explanation is, is an answer to a question. ... In this case, the question is why does x exist?

        It makes a difference whether the answer is of the form:
        * "X exists because this parsimonious model based on our observations predicts that it should."
        * "X exists because our shared values say it ought to."
        * "X exists because it being there are all observable-like is what it means to exist."
        * or any of the other wildly different things staircaseghost suggested are out there

        The original article didn't offer guidance as to which of those types of "explanation" was intended. It appears to mash them all together as if they were a single thing and could be switched between at will with no problems ensuing.

        • Steven Dillon

          There will be any number of true answers to a question. Just because we can think of wildly different answers doesn't mean that of them are true, or if they are, that they're the only true answers. Once we endorse PSR, we can perform process of elimination on any given x to rule out which explanations aren't true of it.

      • staircaseghost

        "An author usually doesn't define terms that her audience presumably understands."

        I can handle thinly veiled insults and condescension like the above gracefully. But it breaks my heart to see someone go through life thinking it's appropriate to respond to "that seems a bit vague, could you please clarify" with blaming the victim and "oh, my bad, I shouldn't have presumed you were intelligent enough to understand me". You're hurting yourself more than you're hurting anyone else.

        "It's important to assume the most rational reading of your interlocutor's arguments until given good reason not to, not only because it's the charitable thing to do, but so that you're not just rebutting a weak version of a strong argument."

        Perhaps I wasn't explicit enough with my concerns in my previous post. I very very much want to assume and have gone to great efforts to assume the most rational reading (i.e. the reading upon which the greatest percentage of the text's assertions turn out true) but after clearly stated, detailed attempts to locate such a reading, I was unable to find one.

        The communication breakdown could be entirely on my end, but it's preposterous (and I have to say, a bit disappointing) to respond as though my sedulous reluctance to attribute a specific meaning is in fact an attempt to strawman you by somehow "putting words in your mouth".

        "In this case, you've cast 'explanation' as this amorphous lump of symbols that needs 'explaning' before its sense is recognizable, and offered candidates that have never been used in arguments for PSR."

        I agree. My non-exhaustive list of examples of specific, well-defined, non-obscurantist definitions have probably never been used by defenders of the PSR.

        Please pause for a moment to consider that your complaint here is that it was silly of me to assume that defenders of the PSR ever clearly define their terms. It is substantively equivalent to admitting that worries about possible fallacies of vacuity, equivocation, or incoherence are eminently reasonable.

        "All an explanation is, is an answer to a question."

        All this does is psychologize the problem. You've turned an ontological claim ("an explanation exists") into a claim that every vague subjective psychic itch we might loosely refer to as "wondering" or "questioning" must have some corresponding set of words that will scratch that itch. No claims at all about anything in the real world actually corresponding to those words.

        "[M]y argument is that no matter 'x' refers to, there is a true answer to this question: x exists because it was caused to, or because it's incapable of not existing."

        So is the PSR perfectly satisfied if some event has just one of the definitions of explanation I listed?

        Suppose you asked what the Sufficient Reason for a watch on a beach. Suppose I were to reply "the sufficient reason for it is watches are good for telling time (my normative variant above); however, it popped into existence uncaused (my empirical modeling variant above)".

        Would you grant that it is perfectly reasonable to suppose it popped into existence uncaused, since my explanation adheres to the letter of the PSR? My hunch is that you would not. In which case, it seems you need to clearly articulate and define which kinds of "answers to questions" are or are not required, and clearly and articulately explain why the arguments for the necessity of one kind of "answer to a question" do or do not apply to the necessity of other explanations. On the face of it, if you successfully convinced me that all events must have e.g. an efficient causal explanation, it would remain an open question after that argument whether all events must have a normative "explanation" or any of the other kinds of language games in the penumbra of that term.

        • Steven Dillon

          It seems we both feel each other have been uncharitable to one another, so rather than compete in a race to the high ground, I'll consider your objections.

          I agree. My non-exhaustive list of examples of specific, well-defined, non-obscurantist definitions have probably never been used by defenders of the PSR.

          Please pause for a moment to consider that your complaint here is that it was silly of me to assume that defenders of the PSR ever clearly define their terms.

          This commits the fallacy of non-sequitur: 'If none of my definitions for 'explanation' are used by the arguments for PSR, then PSR does not clearly define its terms.' The alternative is of course that the arguments for PSR use a definition of 'explanation' that you failed to mention.

          So is the PSR perfectly satisfied if some event has just one of the definitions of explanation I listed?

          All my PSR commits us to is the thesis that there *is* some true answer or other to the question of why x exists, not that there is only one true answer for any given x, or that any answer we can conjure up is true. Whether or not there is some 'x' which has one and only one explanation of its existence is something yet to be determined.

          PSR is useful in this regard, because it allows us to rule out explanations all the while knowing that there must be some or other. For example, by process of elimination, we can construct an argument for theism by eliminating non-theistic explanations of the universe.

          • staircaseghost

            "This commits the fallacy of non-sequitur: 'If none of my definitions for "explanation" are used by the arguments for PSR, then PSR does not clearly define its terms.' The alternative is of course that the arguments for PSR use a definition of 'explanation' that you failed to mention."

            1) What idea to you suppose I intended to convey there when I deliberately chose the word "non-exhaustive", eh? Eh?

            2) I "failed to mention" this alleged definition because I've been asking for it on bended knee for three posts now! I even put my request in bold, in the part you snipped away without responding to.

            ScG: "I don't understand what you mean by 'X'. Here are some options that seem reasonable in other contexts, but none of them seem to help your argument so don't want to attribute any of them to you until you clarify."

            SD: "Fallacy of The Straw Man! Stop attributing definitions that make the argument not work. Just use the intuitive sense."

            ScG: "Huh? I asked for a precise definition, and even gave a few possible candidates -- it looks like you're admitting there is none."

            SD: "Fallacy of the Non Sequitur! It's logically possible I have an answer I refuse to give you."

            I'm sorry, but this just isn't productive. This is pin-the-fallacy-on-the-opponent debating. It is purely defensive, not truth-seeking.

            So is the PSR perfectly satisfied if some event has just one of the definitions of explanation I listed?

            "All my PSR commits us to is the thesis that there *is* some true answer or other to the question of why x exists, not that there is only one true answer for any given x, or that any answer we can conjure up is true."

            I'm really really struggling to eggshell walk here. Do you understand that "there is at least one x" is perfectly satisfied when the number of x is one?

            Do you understand how my example (if my aforementioned hunch is correct) in which the number of x is one refutes the notion that there is any remotely coherent or consistent concept of "explanation" in play here?

          • Steven Dillon

            I don't understand how your summary of our comments can be sincere. E.g. your first comment is publically available, how on earth do we get "I don't understand what you mean by 'X'. Here are some options that seem reasonable in other contexts, but none of them seem to help your argument so don't want to attribute any of them to you until you clarify." from that?

            In any case, yes, I would insist that there are other explanations for the watch. Recall, as stated in the Post, that "x has an explanation of its existence" is the abbreviated form of "x has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause."

            I reiterated this in my first reply to you: "my argument is that no matter 'x' refers to, there is a true answer to this question: x exists because it was caused to, or because it's incapable of not existing."

            So, I defined an explanation as an answer to a question, and stated the question as whether 'x' has an explanation of its existence. Our focus is then on which of two answers is true: does 'x' exist necessarily, or was it caused to exist?

          • staircaseghost

            "I don't understand how your summary of our comments can be sincere."

            Well, I don't understand how Brandon lets accusations like this stand unedited, so I guess confusion abounds.

            "[H]ow on earth do we get 'I don't understand what you mean by "X". Here are some options that seem reasonable in other contexts, but none of them seem to help your argument so don't want to attribute any of them to you until you clarify.' from that?"

            I likewise don't understand how one could fail to understand. I pointed out (and you have never disagreed) that there are many different definitions of the term. Then I asked which, if any, definition you had in mind. Several other people seem to have had no trouble whatsoever understanding the dialectic here. I highly doubt you'll be able to find anyone, even someone who strongly accepts the PSR and thinks they have a very clear definition of explanation, who will tell you they read my first post and had no idea I was criticizing your argument for vagueness and ambiguity, or that such criticisms are generally understood to be exhortations to clarity.

            "In any case, yes, I would insist that there are other explanations for the watch. Recall, as stated in the Post, that 'x has an explanation of its existence' is the abbreviated form of 'x has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.'"

            Suppose I tell you that X has a schmargle. Naturally, you might want to know what it means to have a schmargle, so you can evaluate whether I am correct or incorrect in my belief.

            Would you perhaps become a bit impatient if I replied, "a 'schmargle' is simply shorthand for a 'schmargle either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause'"? Are you familiar with circular definitions, and why they are problematic?

            "I reiterated this in my first reply to you: 'my argument is that no matter "x" refers to, there is a true answer to this question: x exists because it was caused to, or because it's incapable of not existing.'"

            No, that was your conclusion, not your argument.

            By their own nature, watches are good for keeping time. "Because they're good for keeping time" has the form of (one definition of) an explanation. Therefore, even given the complete absence of (say) an efficient causal explanation, it clears the threshold of the PSR ("if anything exists, it has an explanation of its existence"). Therefore, my (correct) prediction that you would still object to it tells me you had some more specific definition in mind than the version as stated.

            Let's call this new principle, the one you now argue for, PS(EC)R. "For every observation, our most parsimonious empirical model with the broadest predictive scope + inputs of the prior state entail (logically or probabilistically) the observation."

            One very big problem is that I already suggested this definition, and you very very explicitly told me my list of candidates had "never been used in arguments for PSR". [emphasis supplied.] So you can see how someone might be confused by your presentation.

            Another problem is we're still unclear as to whether this is the only kind of reason or explanation that "must" be present for every event.

            "So, I defined an explanation as an answer to a question, and stated the question as whether 'x' has an explanation of its existence."

            Check those quantifiers. The preferred formal interpretation of "answer to 'a' question" logically reads as "there is at least one question answered". If you had meant to use the definite article, you should have either said "the" or put a colon or a comma followed by "namely,".

            "Our focus is then on which of two answers is true: does 'x' exist necessarily, or was it caused to exist?"

            Or neither. Because we don't want to beg the question, do we?

            Now, by "caused" you either mean the ordinary English sense of efficient cause (even though you say defenders of PSR "never" use this definition), or you mean the vague Scholastic aetia which sort of means "cause" but is conceptually smeared out across "explanation" and other concepts in the general neighborhood. My working hypothesis is that you are hopping back and forth from one foot to the other on this.

            And if you use "cause" to mean this smeared-out notion for which form, matter, purpose etc. all count as causes, then my watch example perfectly satisfies your condition that they be "caused". But as my model predicted, you did not accept this example because you intuitively want to argue for the Efficient sense, protestations notwithstanding. As long as you use equivocal terms in your premises, your conclusion will remain equivocal and its logic invalid. So you can understand why people reserve the right to remain unconvinced.

            [Here is a free parting gift to reward people who made it to the end of this post: if it is valid to argue that everything probably has an explanation because for all X it is "made more likely on the hypothesis that it has an explanation", then a fortiori every event or object we've ever observed or will observe probably "exists necessarily", since logical necessity sets the odds at unity and therefore by definition "beats" any "merely probabilistic explanation". {Extra Credit Homework: why are skeptics deeply suspicious about locutions like "probably necessary" in modal apologetics?}]

          • Steven Dillon

            I'm no good with lengthy back and forths, so I'll just have to thank you for taking the time to reply and give this another shot.

            You give a number of objections, so I'll try to deal with those which seem most pertinent to my argument.

            One goes something like this: if I clarify my use of 'cause', I will either mean efficient cause, or any of the traditional four causes. If I mean efficient cause, then...you called it. If I mean any of the traditional four causes, then everything counts as a cause. Since I clearly reject the latter result, I must mean efficient cause.

            So the worst case scenario here is that I've just meant efficient cause, not that my argument is unsound.

            Another one seems to be that I'm switching back and forth between these meanings of 'cause', and this invalidates my argument.

            But, suppose I was equivocating. That doesn't mean the argument needs to be equivocal. It's really no trouble to just run the argument on 'efficient cause'. So the worst case scenario here is that a weak version of my argument is unsound and we fix it.

            Finally, as a reductio of my argument, you suggest that the hypothesis 'x exists necessarily' entails that x exists whereas the hypothesis that 'x probably exists' does not. And indeed, it does. But, the two are irrelevant to each other since the former specifies the modality of x's existence, whereas the latter specifies the probability of x's existence.

            The proper comparison would be between two modal hypotheses: 'x exists necessarily' and 'x exists contingently'. But, both entail that x actually exists (albeit differing on x's existence in other possible worlds), thus setting the odds at unity. So, the initial 'reductio' attempt commits a category error, and its proper reformulation is not an objection to my argument.

            Obviously, there's a lot more to say and I didn't address all of your responses. Maybe we'll end up hashing this out in the future, and I'll of course read if you choose to respond. In the mean time, hope to see you around.

          • staircaseghost

            "But, the two are irrelevant to each other since the former specifies the modality of x's existence, whereas the latter specifies the probability of x's existence."

            A distinctionless difference.

            Every modal claim of necessity specifies a probability of 1. Every modal claim of impossibility specifies a probability of 0. Conversely, every nonzero probability claim entails a modal possibility claim.

            This isn't some speculative claim of abstruse metaphysics where "it all depends on your philosophical assumptions". It is just a cast-iron point of logic.

            If it is true that Barack Obama is a Muslim Atheist Commu-Nazi in all possible worlds, you should update your probability that he is one in this world to unity.

  • Kit Fry

    The argument relies on propositions H1 and H2. Most atheist arguments I've read are simply dissatisfied with the options presented by world religions. For example, if you posited that H1 is Cheonjiwang Bonpuli and H2 is Eridu Genesis many would agree that neither is the answer to our existence. It isn't necessarily fair to limit the options to the two made up stories, but that is what is asked of atheists every time this argument is presented. God or no god rater than god or *wholly plausible explanation not yet discovered.*

    I prefer the unknown rather than the latest in the long list of myths. Or even as this writer seems to argue...some vague sense of deism. I am ok with not knowing the answer just yet. I find the unknown or curiously posited hypothesized more interesting and worthy of consideration than the made up stories passed down through generations.

  • When it is said that statement, h1 is probably true or that statement h1 is more probable than h2, probability refers to certitude. However, certitude is a characteristic of the knower, not that of the known. The analysis of human thought with regard to
    certitude, logic and grammar cannot yield a conclusion with respect to existence. The truth, i.e. the existence, of anything is independent of human thought, otherwise everyone lives in a universe of his own thoughts. Then there can be no forum or Aeropagus.

    • Fr.Sean

      Hi Bob,
      If that's true do you then feel science and philosophy is a waste of time?

      • Hi Fr. Sean,
        Science is the determination of the mathematical relationships inherent in the measureable properties of things which properties are expressions of their natures. Philosophy is the determination of the principles which must be true, if what we experience of reality (the natures of things) is to be possible. As useful, and in some instances as necessary, as may be the assessment of certitude in the determination of the mathematical relationships among measureable properties, it is still extrinsic to such determination. Measurements are not exact. Consequently, conventions have been adopted establishing algorithms for the statistically based expression of the certitude of measurements. There are other areas of human knowledge that come close to being equated with the assessment of certitude such as prudence, law and the judgment of the guilt of one accused of crime. Analysis of the certitude of human knowledge assumes inadequacy in apprehending what exists. The original post argues that existence can be posited with full certitude, while it is identified as lacking full certitude, whence the argument leads to the conclusion of its full certitude. Even if we concede the validity of the logic, the argument would be about the knower and
        not the known, namely existence.

        • Fr.Sean

          Hi Bob,
          Thanks for the detailed response. I know almost all of science came about via employing the scientific method, and i know much of it had a short period of time between when something was hypothesized and when it was tested, but if we only appealed to what we could test in a short period of time we may not have learned nearly as much as we have. much of astrophysics theory is rooted in theorizing what we cannot test. thus i think the Steve's proof seems logical and should be considered of the same nature. if we use philosophy (which i guess we're philosophizing now). if we use philosophy and scientific theory and can make some conclusions to better understand our world and lives than i think it seems reasonable to consider steve's proof. if not would it not seem reasonable to also disregard all philosophy and scientific theory as well?

          • I couldn’t understand why you keep asking, if I am not
            rejecting all of science. When you read Steve’s argument you see a valid application of the scientific method. I don’t. When I read it I see an expression of Idealism. Is that which exists intelligible? Yes, because the proposition, ‘that which exists is intelligible’ is rated higher on the scale of human certitude than is the proposition, ‘something exists which lacks intelligibility’. The latter rates a zero on the scale of certitude, comparable to the certitude of the existence of Russell’s celestial teapot. The teapot exists, but it is undetectable and nothing intelligible can be said of it. Therefore, ‘that which exists is intelligible’ is true. In Idealism, reality is what I think. To understand reality, I just have to analyze my own thoughts primarily by rating my certitude of them.

          • Fr.Sean

            Hi Bob,
            I hope i didn't offend you. Perhaps i don't understand enough. my impression was that you were simply pointing out that this article isn't not "proof" or "evidence" because it cannot be tested and therefore used as evidence. science is using physics, math etc. with testible evidence. but a lot of what is tested originates in what appears to be resonable, or logical. if we were to disregard that which seems reasonable or logical from the beginning we would never get to the point that we could test it. in that sense i think Steve's article passes the litmiss test even though it can't be "tested" because his line of reasoning is coherent and logical. sorry if i seemed to vague.

  • Dear Steven,

    I share the intuition that everything needs an explanation. I think that the explanation for everything could well be Spinoza's God, the fundamental organizing principles inherent in nature. The physicist's final theory might be identical to the philosopher's necessary being.

    Thank you for the interesting article.

    Paul

    • Peter

      When Spinoza conceived of his pantheism he believed the universe was eternal and infinite, and thus synonymous with an eternal and infinite God. The only evidence we now hold, as opposed to hypotheses, is that the universe has a beginning in time and therefore is finite in extent. Finitude is not an attribute of Spinoza's God.

      • The way I read Spinoza, "finite" is equated with "limited by something else of the same nature" and "infinite" with "not limited by something else of the same nature". The universe is physical. There's nothing physical outside the universe that's limiting its size (as far as we know). So the universe is infinite, as Spinoza uses the term.

        Of course, if there were something outside the universe that were physically limiting its size, we could describe its physical extent, and call that physical object A-verse. A-verse + Universe would be infinite.

        Likewise with eternal. Eternal could be understood in two ways. If understood as timeless, then it's the universe thought of as a 4-dimensional space-time. If understood as "of infinite duration", then this means "of a duration not limited by another prior duration", and the argument follows as above.

        • Peter

          If the universe were flat on large scales then it would be infinite in extent. However, if it is curved on large scales, it would be infinite in the sense that it has no boundary but not infinite in extent because eventually every direction would end up back on itself.

          Thought and extension are the two attributes of Spinoza's God that we can have knowledge of. Since God is infinite so too must thought and extension be infinite. There is no evidence that extension is infinite in the universe and therefore no evidence that the universe is synonymous with God.

          • Even if the universe were bounded in space, the way I interpret Spinoza's unusual use of the term "infinite" still comports with his philosophy. There's nothing outside of it. The universe is all of extension. There are no extended regions outside the universe. If there are extended regions outside the universe, then the universe plus all these regions is all of extension. And all of extension is, as Spinoza uses the term, infinite.

            Why do I think this is what Spinoza meant? Spinoza would understand "infinite extension" to be an "infinity in its kind." Look at how Spinoza defines "infinity in its kind":

            Part 1, Definition 2. That thing is said to be FINITE IN ITS KIND (in suo genere finita) which can be limited by another thing of the same kind. E.g., a body is said to be finite because we can always conceive another larger than it. Thus a thought is limited by another thought. But a body cannot be limited by a thought, nor a thought by a body.

            Along with his position on conception and reality:

            Part 1, Proposition 33. Things could not have been brought into being by God in any manner or in any order different from that which has in fact obtained.

            So, in Spinoza's mind, that which exists must exist, and cannot be conceived of in any other way.

            Combining these two, imagine that our universe is a spatially bounded region and that there's no more space other than this bounded region. According to Spinoza's Prop 33, space outside the bounded region is inconceivable because it's not the case and whatever is not the case is inconceivable. According to Spinoza's Definition 2, since space outside the boundary of the universe is inconceivable, the universe is infinite in extent.

            As a side note: What is the observed curvature of the universe? What value is it measured to have? My understanding was that it was zero, within the error bars.

      • Michael Murray

        Finite backwards in time doesn't mean finite in spatial dimensions.

  • Steven,

    One more note. This article by Shamik Dasgupta on Metaphysical Rationalism is quite good. He argues for an agnostic naturalism and complete determinism from one form of the principle of sufficient reason. See http://www.shamik.net/papers/dasgupta%20metaphysical%20rationalism.pdf

  • Derek
    • Derek

      Trinity vid

    • Maxximiliann

      The Scriptures plainly inform us that God Almighty possesses a spirit body as well as revealing he is situated in the heavens. (John 4:24; 1 Corinthians 15:44; Matthew 6:9) 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:

      "Mi·cai′ah 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.)

      Seeing as how God is absolutely a particular, distinct being, 1+1+1=3 is tremendously meaningful when it comes to dealing with the fairy tale of the Athanasian Creed.

      • Derek

        what are you saying?

        • Maxximiliann

          I don't understand your question. Please explain.

  • Fr.Sean

    Well, i think after careful reflection i will have to shift gears as well. I had always thought one could only use reason so far and then realizing there is most likely a God had to pray and thus would receive the gift of faith realizing that it is ultimately a gift. I think i will have to change my mind. your reasoning is concise, clear, logical and evident, therefore i think one can receive faith simply though reason. there isn't much room for uncertainty in your logic. Congrats Steve, i never thought i would be changing my mind about how one receives the gift of faith!

  • What if the reason the universe exists is because existence is the ontological default state of things, and not non-existence? If that's true, the question why there is something rather than nothing is ultimately meaningless.