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Thread: toldailytopic: Which requires the greater faith, atheism or theism?

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    Quote Originally Posted by PureX View Post
    "The basic premise of all of these is that something caused the Universe to exist, and this First Cause is what we call God."
    Well, previously you said this:
    Quote Originally Posted by PureX View Post
    The cosmological argument is that the gap IS "God", and the gap IS real.
    Frankly, there's some resemblance to the second clause, which is essentially a semantic argument, but it contains no part of the first, which is the meat of the CA. If you don't see the difference, I don't think I can help you.

    Quote Originally Posted by PureX View Post
    Thus, whatever lies in that "gap" in our apprehension must be of some supra or ultra natural attribute.
    Why? That doesn't follow from any of the rest of your paragraph.
    Global warming denialists are like gravity denialists piloting a helicopter, determined to prove a point. We may not have time to actually persuade them of their mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rexlunae View Post
    Keep in mind that the Cosmological arguments are all attempts to infer the metaphysical from the physical observed cosmos. I'm not ignoring the metaphysical, but I am saying that I won't believe in it until I see that inference as likely.
    Okay. But it does seem that we are at a point where we can mutually say that such a thing is not "blind faith" as you claimed earlier, no?

    What, would you say, could take over from science at the threshold of its empirical reach? I would assert that there's nothing in our entire mental toolbox that could.
    What could take over to the end of furthering knowledge about reality? The empirical reach of science is quite limited. Things such as philosophy in general, epistemology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, semiotics, and philosophy of science seem like obvious candidates. The secular crowd sometimes deifies science, but science itself requires an explanation and makes substantial metaphysical assumptions. For example, empirical science cannot even justify its own inductive methods.

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    Originally Posted by PureX (from wiki):

    "The basic premise of all of these is that something caused the Universe to exist, and this First Cause is what we call God."

    Originally Posted by PureX:

    The cosmological argument is that the gap IS "God", and the gap IS real.

    Quote Originally Posted by rexlunae View Post
    Frankly, there's some resemblance to the second clause, which is essentially a semantic argument, but it contains no part of the first, which is the meat of the CA. If you don't see the difference, I don't think I can help you.
    Well, I find this comment puzzling because I also wrote this:
    "So the cosmological argument is in essence the observation that the nature of existence, itself, leads us to the question of it's origin, it's end, and possible purpose (via it's timed cause/effect nature), and then it denies us that which we were led to seek by the very means that led us to seek it. Thus, whatever lies in that "gap" in our apprehension must be of some supra or ultra natural attribute."

    The reason we look for a 'first cause' and 'end result' is because the nature of the universe as we understand it invites us to do so by expressing itself to us through timeline cause/effect. Yet it is that very nature that then denies us apprehension of it's ultimate origin and result (purpose?). So that we must surmise that whatever lay beyond that cause/effect timeline (in that gap in our apprehension), must be something other than/external to/apart from and ultimately transcendent of the 'natural' universe within which we are bound. Thus, the "God" of the gap.

    The cosmological argument is more than just an assertion of 'god of the gaps', or a 'first cause' argument, it's a synthesis of these being drawn from reasoned cosmological observation. What gives the idea it's force (and persistence) is that it is being drawn from observations of cosmic existence as we intuitively perceive it it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    That book by Lawrence Krauss has been heavily criticized for a profound ignorance of philosophy and theology. The title of the book is misleading to say the least, since he is not talking about nothing in the sense that philosophers and theologians talk about nothing.
    Well, Dr. Krauss is a physicist and cosmologist, and he wrote a book about science, not about philosophy or theology. That's not to say that philosophers and theologians can't have something to say about it, but the cosmological argument starts out on science's home turf, and what matters for the sake of satisfying it's challenge is not that it arrive at some "nothing" that satisfies a hypothetical "nothing" that a philosopher cooks up, but one that answers the question of the origin of the Cosmos in a way that's consistent with observation. It's a question that could well start and end in the physical Cosmos.

    And it's not as if he ignored the question of what 'nothing' is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    It is the same as when Hawking claimed that it was possible to imagine the universe emerging from nothing given the law of gravity. That is not nothing and it carries with it a set of philosophical problems.
    It's not clear what gravity is right now. It could be a product of other forces, or it could be the most fundamental thing that exists.

    I'm curious, how would you define nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    First of all, what is the law of gravity? If the law of gravity is an objective reality, as it is for a realist, then you have famous platonic problem, in what reality does it exist? ("where" does it exist if you neglect the spatial connotations in "where"). Traditionally that problem was solved by saying that the abstract realities existed within the mind of God.
    Seems to me like you can ask where the mind of God is just as well. At some point, it seems to me that you must come to something that is fundamental. Perhaps this is the mind of God, or perhaps it is a quantum field, but there's no reason that the mind of God should be the only candidate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    If you are a nominalist, your problem almost becomes more severe. For a nominalist the law of gravity is simply something we impose on reality in order to describe relationships between entities, but the existence of the entites is explained by the law by Hawking and you have a circular argument.
    Well, I think what Hawking was referring to was gravity operating on quantum fluctuations. But that's just my hunch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    I agree with what you are saying to PureX in general.
    Thank you . I was actually considering seeing if I could recruit you and Zippy to try to clear up what the argument really was for him, because it seems like there's some genuine misunderstanding on his part.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    The cosmological argument has consequences for how we must understand the first cause (especially when you include the prime mover argument which is not just an argument for a first cause in time, but for an absolute wellspring of all being that holds every being in existence at all times and thus would be valid even if the universe was eternal). However, there is a difference between these arguments and the regular god of the gaps arguments. This is a metaphysical gap, not a physical one. God of the gaps, as it is typically understood, is understood as a gap in physical reality which we do not have sufficient evidence or a satisfactory theory to understand. The metaphysical gap is different, it is based on a more rationalistic approach, it is based on the idea that the reality described by science is by definition contingent and thus can never, even in principle, fill this gap, therefore it is metaphysical.
    It seems to me that if Dr. Krauss is right that the Universe could have come from nothing, then we've made a lot of progress filling that fundamental gap.
    Last edited by rexlunae; April 18th, 2013 at 11:37 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    Okay. But it does seem that we are at a point where we can mutually say that such a thing is not "blind faith" as you claimed earlier, no?
    Much of the reasoning around the Cosmological arguments is fairly rational. However, what I was referring to as blind faith was accepting that God just magically solves the problem of First Cause without further explanation or mechanism.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    What could take over to the end of furthering knowledge about reality? The empirical reach of science is quite limited. Things such as philosophy in general, epistemology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, semiotics, and philosophy of science seem like obvious candidates.
    A lot of those are pretty tenuous, and they don't exactly have a good track record for reliably revealing truths. Is there a reason to expect better results from them when we can't use science to check their output? We only know about the Big Bang because of science, which defied all the creation myths ever produced by every religion, not to mention the intuition of such minds as Albert Einstein.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    The secular crowd sometimes deifies science, but science itself requires an explanation and makes substantial metaphysical assumptions. For example, empirical science cannot even justify its own inductive methods.
    Well, I know what you mean, and it's one place where I frequently have a problem with Dawkins. But, while I wouldn't say that science is the only source for truth, I would say that it is one of the most reliable, and also that any other potential source for information about the real world ought to be expected to prove its accuracy before we put a lot of stock in it. So far, there aren't really a lot of contenders here.
    Last edited by rexlunae; April 18th, 2013 at 11:41 AM.
    Global warming denialists are like gravity denialists piloting a helicopter, determined to prove a point. We may not have time to actually persuade them of their mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rexlunae
    Well, Dr. Krauss is a physicist and cosmologist, and he write a book about science, not about philosophy or theology. That's not to say that philosophers and theologians can't have something to say about it, but the cosmological argument starts out on science's home turf, and what matters for the sake of satisfying it's challenge is not that it arrive at some "nothing" that satisfies a hypothetical "nothing" that a philosopher cooks up, but one that answers the question of the origin of the Cosmos in a way that's consistent with observation. It's a question that could well start and end in the physical Cosmos.
    I won't disagree that science certainly is central when it comes to cosmology. However, I think both Krauss and Hawking should be criticized for their derrision of philosophy, the borderline between science and philosophy in a discipline like cosmology is fuzzy at best. As far as I understand it, the models they are operating with are more mathematical than empirical.

    I'm not sure if you are familiar with the controversy regarding the New York Times review of the Krauss' book? Professor David Albert, who is a professor in philosophy that also holds a PhD in theoretical physics heavily criticized Krauss and Krauss more or less attacked philosophy in general and referred to Albert as a "moronic philosopher", apparently not realizing that Albert himself sits on a rather significant understanding of the scientific material Krauss presents in his book. The controversy also involved Massimo Pigliucci who gave a rather crass reply to Krauss.

    The original review: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/bo...auss.html?_r=0

    It's not clear what gravity is right now. It could be a product of other forces, or it could be the most fundamental thing that exists.
    Granted. I'm merely problematizing seeing the law as the fundamental thing of the universe, because it is not really clear at all what a law really is. Another question would be whether the the law of gravity really is a necessary, in the metaphysical sense, constant or whether it is variable (as in it being possible that it had other values), because then I would argue that it is contingent.

    I'm curious, how would you define nothing?
    In this case, simply the absence of the quantum fields and the law of gravity.

    Seems to me like you can ask where the mind of God is just as well. At some point, it seems to me that you must come to something that is fundamental. Perhaps this is the mind of God, or perhaps it is a quantum field, but there's no reason that the mind of God should be the only candidate.
    If we are realists about the laws of nature, they are real abstract objects. I think it makes sense to think of abstract objects existing within a mind, it is hard to imagine it existing outside a mind except as imposed by this mind. The other alternative would be a nominalist conceptions of law, but then the law in itself does not exist, it exist in our minds as a description of the relationship between entities. Keep in mind that "God" here does not refer to some fleshed out particular theology, but to a rather minimalist doctrine of God as necessary being and prime mover, the absolute reality.

    Well, I think what Hawking was referring to was gravity operating on quantum fluctuations. But that's just my hunch
    That is fine, but that does not explain the quantum fluctuations. I'm having a hard time imagining quantum fluctuations as the necessary reality, it is changing for one thing.

    It seems to me that if Dr. Krauss is right that the Universe could have come from nothing, then we've made a lot of progress filling that fundamental gap.
    But I do not think that he is able to do that. He employs things, such as quantum fields and laws of nature to explain it, things that are arguably contingent and thus not self-explanatory.

    My main point in these two posts is that I think that Krauss is a bit bombastic in his statements. I surely do not wish to say that science is not important when thinking about cosmology, it most certainly is. However, I see the area of cosmology as a highly abstract and theoretical area of science that the borderline between science and philosophy is blurred at best. I think he is very wrong when he (Hawking as well) dismisses philosophy as something outdated and dead. Concepts like nothingness and laws are just examples of the many ambiguities involved in the endeavor of cosmology. And of course, Krauss more or less only considers scholastic theology and its classical theism. There are other forms of theism as well, even forms of theism that outright dismisses creatio ex nihilo. So I would not rule out theology from cosmology as well, if theology is understood in the academic sense of the discipline rather than its confessional variant.

    "By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." (Luke 1:78-79)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    But I do not think that he is able to do that. He employs things, such as quantum fields and laws of nature to explain it, things that are arguably contingent and thus not self-explanatory.
    I agree. A while back the History Channel did a show about God and the discussion was largely based on Hawking. They talked about how the universe could have been started from nothing, thus relieving God of his necessity in creating it. However, their "nothing" didn't really seem like nothing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rexlunae View Post
    Much of the reasoning around the Cosmological arguments is fairly rational. However, what I was referring to as blind faith was accepting that God just magically solves the problem of First Cause without further explanation or mechanism.
    Again, the nature of most cosmological arguments is pointing to a problem in the scientific or intermediate methods being able to give complete answers. To quote Aquinas, "...and this all understand to be God." God isn't another finite being in the chain, he is the answer to the very rational and scientifically unanswerable question, he is the necessary ground of being, the non-contingent anchor that is the only way around the infinite regress. Your "magical" talk is just your own inability to disassociate your fairy tale versions of God from a philosophical concept.


    A lot of those are pretty tenuous, and they don't exactly have a good track record for reliably revealing truths.
    In what sense? According to your axiomatic scientific criteria that precariously hang suspended in thin air, presumably unsupported and yet heavy with complexity? Although I think that is fairly obviously false, we can take something as simple as logic, one of the many meta-scientific tools science leans on. What do you think of logic? Is it also useless? And do you think the success of something like logic ought to be measured in the same way the success of something like science is measured?

    Is there a reason to expect better results from them when we can't use science to check their output?
    Of course we can't use science to check their output, science doesn't even begin to exist until they do. This is not only a logical fact, it is also historical. It is so bizarre to talk to modern science-worshippers. It is curious that many of the premiere scientists of old were also respected philosophers and theologians, aware of and concerned with the non-scientific disciplines that science relies upon.

    We only know about the Big Bang because of science
    I strongly disagree. Maybe you ought to try to define science. Is it mathematics, theoretical astrophysics? You keep speaking of empirical data and yet the things you are trying to label "science" are quite far away from empirical data. What is science?

    The secular crowd sometimes deifies science, but science itself requires an explanation and makes substantial metaphysical assumptions. For example, empirical science cannot even justify its own inductive methods.
    Well, I know what you mean, and it's one place where I frequently have a problem with Dawkins. But, while I wouldn't say that science is the only source for truth, I would say that it is one of the most reliable, and also that any other potential source for information about the real world ought to be expected to prove its accuracy before we put a lot of stock in it. So far, there aren't really a lot of contenders here.
    If you know what I mean, then how do you go on about the reliability of science? Is the induction principle sound or isn't it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    I won't disagree that science certainly is central when it comes to cosmology. However, I think both Krauss and Hawking should be criticized for their derrision of philosophy, the borderline between science and philosophy in a discipline like cosmology is fuzzy at best. As far as I understand it, the models they are operating with are more mathematical than empirical.
    One thing I've noticed about Dr. Krauss is that he doesn't handle criticism very well. He often seems to react emotionally rather than rationally when he's speaking off the cuff, even when I'm reasonably certain he could respond better given the time to think through his response clearly. It's a very natural human way to respond, but it makes him poor at debates where an opponent has a real chance of challenging him in a way that he doesn't immediately know how to respond to.

    I haven't heard much from Hawking about philosophy, so I can't really comment on that.

    That said, I also agree with challenging the philosophical approach, which often seems to place more emphasis on human-created concepts than following the evidence and making models that fit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    I'm not sure if you are familiar with the controversy regarding the New York Times review of the Krauss' book? Professor David Albert, who is a professor in philosophy that also holds a PhD in theoretical physics heavily criticized Krauss and Krauss more or less attacked philosophy in general and referred to Albert as a "moronic philosopher", apparently not realizing that Albert himself sits on a rather significant understanding of the scientific material Krauss presents in his book. The controversy also involved Massimo Pigliucci who gave a rather crass reply to Krauss.

    The original review: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/bo...auss.html?_r=0
    I hadn't seen it, but it's in line with criticisms that I have seen. I try to keep my distance from the personal drama that occurs between individual advocates, because it really isn't that relevant. It sure wouldn't be the first time I heard Dr. Krauss say something absurd when he's backed into a corner. He brings up some interesting points, but it seems like he is expecting something of the book that it didn't set out to do, and that isn't especially important. There's no need to trace the Universe back to the kind of "nothing" that he's talking about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    Granted. I'm merely problematizing seeing the law as the fundamental thing of the universe, because it is not really clear at all what a law really is. Another question would be whether the the law of gravity really is a necessary, in the metaphysical sense, constant or whether it is variable (as in it being possible that it had other values), because then I would argue that it is contingent.
    I suspect you are right that it is reasonable to consider something contingent if it is possible for it to be variable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    In this case, simply the absence of the quantum fields and the law of gravity.
    Interesting. Do you allow for other laws than gravity?

    I listened to a debate/discussion on YouTube a couple of weeks ago, where Dr. Krauss and a few others were trying to define "nothing", and the most interesting definition that came out was "a state of zero degrees of freedom" (paraphrasing a bit, I think).

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    If we are realists about the laws of nature, they are real abstract objects.
    I don't think that's necessarily true. I think they could be viewed descriptions of properties of real objects. And I'm not sure how an object could be both real and abstract, unless you assume Platonic realism. I've never put much stock in Plato's Universals myself. I actually think the whole concept is demonstrably errant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    I think it makes sense to think of abstract objects existing within a mind, it is hard to imagine it existing outside a mind except as imposed by this mind. The other alternative would be a nominalist conceptions of law, but then the law in itself does not exist, it exist in our minds as a description of the relationship between entities. Keep in mind that "God" here does not refer to some fleshed out particular theology, but to a rather minimalist doctrine of God as necessary being and prime mover, the absolute reality.
    I guess I don't see how this connects to the science, and I think that may be part of the disconnect between the scientific descriptions of the origin on the Cosmos and philosophical discussions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    That is fine, but that does not explain the quantum fluctuations. I'm having a hard time imagining quantum fluctuations as the necessary reality, it is changing for one thing.
    Well, it wouldn't so much be the fluctuations that are, to use the term from the CA, necessary, but perhaps the fields that they occur in. But I don't know that the concepts of necessary and contingent even make a lot of sense in this context.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    But I do not think that he is able to do that. He employs things, such as quantum fields and laws of nature to explain it, things that are arguably contingent and thus not self-explanatory.
    Hence M-theory. Not well-developed at this point, but one possible way to take current theories to a more fundamental level. But it is entirely possible that there will never be any way to do more than speculate about what might be necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    My main point in these two posts is that I think that Krauss is a bit bombastic in his statements.
    I don't think that's unfair or untrue, however it does not distinguish him from most of the other people who take part in these discussions. Bombast isn't destructive to the discussion in the long run, although it does cause drama.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    I surely do not wish to say that science is not important when thinking about cosmology, it most certainly is. However, I see the area of cosmology as a highly abstract and theoretical area of science that the borderline between science and philosophy is blurred at best. I think he is very wrong when he (Hawking as well) dismisses philosophy as something outdated and dead. Concepts like nothingness and laws are just examples of the many ambiguities involved in the endeavor of cosmology. And of course, Krauss more or less only considers scholastic theology and its classical theism. There are other forms of theism as well, even forms of theism that outright dismisses creatio ex nihilo. So I would not rule out theology from cosmology as well, if theology is understood in the academic sense of the discipline rather than its confessional variant.

    Well, I'll say that we'll see. It's no doubt to me that science owes a debt to the legacy of thought that philosophy and theology have provided, but I think it's also true that Cosmology as a dedicated field has far outrun them, to the point that it is very difficult for people to be significant players in both. It remains to be seen if there are more contributions to be made by these fields though.

    Global warming denialists are like gravity denialists piloting a helicopter, determined to prove a point. We may not have time to actually persuade them of their mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    Again, the nature of most cosmological arguments is pointing to a problem in the scientific or intermediate methods being able to give complete answers.
    That's actually not the CA. The CA seeks to demonstrate the existence of the supernatural by the incompleteness of the natural Cosmos. It is not about the methodological limitations of science.

    I'm going to quote something Selaphiel said early, because it addresses this confusion directly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Selaphiel View Post
    The cosmological argument has consequences for how we must understand the first cause (especially when you include the prime mover argument which is not just an argument for a first cause in time, but for an absolute wellspring of all being that holds every being in existence at all times and thus would be valid even if the universe was eternal). However, there is a difference between these arguments and the regular god of the gaps arguments. This is a metaphysical gap, not a physical one. God of the gaps, as it is typically understood, is understood as a gap in physical reality which we do not have sufficient evidence or a satisfactory theory to understand. The metaphysical gap is different, it is based on a more rationalistic approach, it is based on the idea that the reality described by science is by definition contingent and thus can never, even in principle, fill this gap, therefore it is metaphysical.
    The CA is not a God-of-the-gaps argument in the sense of arguing from ignorance, nor does it rely on the limitations of science. It is an argument that the physical Cosmos requires that there be some non-physical First Cause.

    I don't agree with it, but that's the argument.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    To quote Aquinas, "...and this all understand to be God."
    I don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    God isn't another finite being in the chain, he is the answer to the very rational and scientifically unanswerable question, he is the necessary ground of being, the non-contingent anchor that is the only way around the infinite regress.
    That's just special pleading, Zip. You can't just heap a bunch of properties upon God and declare that he alone is allowed to have them.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    Your "magical" talk is just your own inability to disassociate your fairy tale versions of God from a philosophical concept.
    What I mean by "magical" is that it is opaque to further examination. Can you explain how an unmoved mover moves moving things without itself moving?

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    In what sense? According to your axiomatic scientific criteria that precariously hang suspended in thin air, presumably unsupported and yet heavy with complexity?
    I'm not opposed to answering, but could you narrow down the list a bit, just for the sake of brevity? It's a bit of a laundry list, and I can't imagine that I'll be able to write a response that does justice for each and every one of the things you suggested here before losing track of and interest in the thread. Specifically, what epistemological system do you propose to use to understand the origin of the Cosmos and how?

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    Although I think that is fairly obviously false, we can take something as simple as logic, one of the many meta-scientific tools science leans on. What do you think of logic? Is it also useless? And do you think the success of something like logic ought to be measured in the same way the success of something like science is measured?
    Logic is fine, as far as it goes. But the danger in logic is that it is perfectly capable to creating abstractions that are beautiful and elegant and simple and self-consistent, and also that have no bearing on reality whatsoever.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    Of course we can't use science to check their output, science doesn't even begin to exist until they do. This is not only a logical fact, it is also historical. It is so bizarre to talk to modern science-worshippers. It is curious that many of the premiere scientists of old were also respected philosophers and theologians, aware of and concerned with the non-scientific disciplines that science relies upon.
    I wasn't asking if you could use science to check their output. I was asking why we should trust epistemologies that produce errant conclusions so regularly when we can check them with science?

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    I strongly disagree. Maybe you ought to try to define science. Is it mathematics, theoretical astrophysics? You keep speaking of empirical data and yet the things you are trying to label "science" are quite far away from empirical data. What is science?
    Physics is largely mathematics plus real-world confirmation. The Higgs Boson was predicted on the basis of little more than the fact that it made the math for the Standard Model work out, and we went and built the LHC to test it. But as for the Big Bang, there's lots of empirical evidence:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astr....html#evidence

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    If you know what I mean, then how do you go on about the reliability of science? Is the induction principle sound or isn't it?
    Well, science works. There aren't a lot of other things that work nearly as well.
    Global warming denialists are like gravity denialists piloting a helicopter, determined to prove a point. We may not have time to actually persuade them of their mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rexlunae View Post
    That's actually not the CA. The CA seeks to demonstrate the existence of the supernatural by the incompleteness of the natural Cosmos. It is not about the methodological limitations of science.

    I'm going to quote something Selaphiel said early, because it addresses this confusion directly.



    The CA is not a God-of-the-gaps argument in the sense of arguing from ignorance, nor does it rely on the limitations of science. It is an argument that the physical Cosmos requires that there be some non-physical First Cause.

    I don't agree with it, but that's the argument.
    I said the CA points to a inadequacy in the scientific approach or its applicability to certain questions. I don't particularly disagree with the other things you've said here, but they don't invalidate my statement. In any case it can be drawn out more clearly in this post:

    God isn't another finite being in the chain, he is the answer to the very rational and scientifically unanswerable question, he is the necessary ground of being, the non-contingent anchor that is the only way around the infinite regress.
    That's just special pleading, Zip. You can't just heap a bunch of properties upon God and declare that he alone is allowed to have them.
    What properties? Necessity? Isn't that the whole point? A necessary being? Again, you're unable to disassociate your fairy-tale God from the philosophical concept. It's an atheistic taboo against the word.

    Your "magical" talk is just your own inability to disassociate your fairy tale versions of God from a philosophical concept.
    What I mean by "magical" is that it is opaque to further examination. Can you explain how an unmoved mover moves moving things without itself moving?
    This is where the relevance of my earlier statement comes. By magical you mean it is opaque to further scientific examination. Of course it is. That's the whole point.

    Science has access to contingent realities, things that can be empirically accessed. God, as the rational answer to these contingent realities themselves, is clearly not accessible to science in the way contingent realities are. Of course you are free to ask yourself whether an infinite regress of movers or an unmoved mover is more plausible. Aristotle's formulation has to do with "movement" from potency to act requiring something else itself in act.

    I'm not opposed to answering, but could you narrow down the list a bit, just for the sake of brevity? It's a bit of a laundry list, and I can't imagine that I'll be able to write a response that does justice for each and every one of the things you suggested here before losing track of and interest in the thread. Specifically, what epistemological system do you propose to use to understand the origin of the Cosmos and how?
    I'm not overly concerned with epistemology other than the fact that it helps highlight the futility of scientific/empirical/a posteriori justification.

    Logic is fine, as far as it goes. But the danger in logic is that it is perfectly capable to creating abstractions that are beautiful and elegant and simple and self-consistent, and also that have no bearing on reality whatsoever.
    Let me be curt: every single scientific achievement relies directly on logic.

    I wasn't asking if you could use science to check their output. I was asking why we should trust epistemologies that produce errant conclusions so regularly when we can check them with science?
    How can you check them? By putting the cart before the horse?

    Physics is largely mathematics plus real-world confirmation. The Higgs Boson was predicted on the basis of little more than the fact that it made the math for the Standard Model work out, and we went and built the LHC to test it. But as for the Big Bang, there's lots of empirical evidence:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astr....html#evidence
    Fair enough, the problem has more to do with the necessity of these other disciplines in order to make use of the data.

    If you know what I mean, then how do you go on about the reliability of science? Is the induction principle sound or isn't it?
    Well, science works. There aren't a lot of other things that work nearly as well.
    You aren't really answering my questions. In other words, I could ask why science works, and the modern scientist in perfect honesty would answer, "I have absolutely no idea." It's beyond the purview of science, even of deductive reason or strong syllogisms.

    z: Does science work?
    s: Yes
    z: Why does science work?
    s: I have absolutely no idea
    z: How do you know science is working?
    s: We have buildings that stand up; it has worked in the past
    z: Are you saying this is a reason to believe it is now working and will continue working?
    s: No, of course not

    ...as soon as you let the inquisitive 4-year-old into the science lab the game is up; you're plunged into metaphysics. Without the metaphysical commitment, you're feeling your way blindly:


    It would be more realistic to visualize the universe as a black forest hidden on a cloud-obscured night, with science as a lost child trying to find its way home, feeling blindly the branches of the trees, occasionally being slapped in the face by one, tripping over the roots of another, stumbling on a path and taking it eagerly only to find it branching or, worse, precipitately ending. Nothing to do then but turn around and go back, find another branch, or, worse luck, with no path to be found, try again and again to feel your way through the dark trees striving to find some light, somewhere, anywhere.

    -Fisher



    The metaphysics-eschewing scientist is a closet-metaphysician, and typically Aristotelian at that. If he actually avoided metaphysics like he claims, he would see more clearly how well Fisher has described him. Once this obvious historical thought enters the modern scientist's mind, he is not too far afield the question of God and philosophy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    I said the CA points to a inadequacy in the scientific approach or its applicability to certain questions. I don't particularly disagree with the other things you've said here, but they don't invalidate my statement. In any case it can be drawn out more clearly in this post:
    Just wanting to make sure we're on the same page when we're talking about the CA, I'll deal with my objection below.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    What properties? Necessity? Isn't that the whole point? A necessary being?
    Yes, necessity. It's a categorization that is invented ad hoc to enable God specially to answer the question behind the CA. An "unmoved mover" is a whopping big exception to causality, which is the whole basis of the argument in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    Again, you're unable to disassociate your fairy-tale God from the philosophical concept. It's an atheistic taboo against the word.
    The whole necessary/contingent paradigm is a philosophical invention that has failed every meaningful test that science can do, and it falls well within the scientific purview. It's not that I have a taboo against using the G-word. I find it interesting that there is such a drive to repurpose the word "God", especially from more orthodox theists. But the real issue is that I consider the entire dichotomy false and inapplicable. Particles pop uncaused into and out of existence all the time, particles that are no more or less "contingent" than the particles that compose our own bodies. And while we've discovered a "God particle" (tongue firmly in cheek on that pseudonym), we've never seen anything like a necessary, well, anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    This is where the relevance of my earlier statement comes. By magical you mean it is opaque to further scientific examination. Of course it is. That's the whole point.
    No Zip, that's not what I mean. I mean opaque to any rational examination of any sort. It's the wizard behind the curtain.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    Science has access to contingent realities, things that can be empirically accessed. God, as the rational answer to these contingent realities themselves, is clearly not accessible to science in the way contingent realities are.
    By what means (what epistemology) do you know anything about that God?

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    Of course you are free to ask yourself whether an infinite regress of movers or an unmoved mover is more plausible.
    I do so love false dichotomies stated as a sort of freedom, but what science suggests is that causality is not the absolute law that it is often portrayed to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    I'm not overly concerned with epistemology other than the fact that it helps highlight the futility of scientific/empirical/a posteriori justification.
    Well that's a funny attitude given that it is basically all that we are discussing. If you're saying that you don't have a coherent epistemology to understand God with, then I would agree. Otherwise, I'd like to know what it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    Let me be curt: every single scientific achievement relies directly on logic.
    I didn't say otherwise. What I pointed out is that logic alone is very limited.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    How can you check them? By putting the cart before the horse?
    Indeed. How can you check them? That is my question, and the fact that you can't tell me seems to confirm what I've said.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    You aren't really answering my questions. In other words, I could ask why science works, and the modern scientist in perfect honesty would answer, "I have absolutely no idea." It's beyond the purview of science, even of deductive reason or strong syllogisms.

    z: Does science work?
    s: Yes
    z: Why does science work?
    s: I have absolutely no idea
    z: How do you know science is working?
    s: We have buildings that stand up; it has worked in the past
    z: Are you saying this is a reason to believe it is now working and will continue working?
    s: No, of course not

    ...as soon as you let the inquisitive 4-year-old into the science lab the game is up; you're plunged into metaphysics. Without the metaphysical commitment, you're feeling your way blindly:
    I'm not sure what sort of "metaphysical commitment" you're looking for, but I'd probably tell the four-year-old to read Wikipedia for a bit:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor...ogy_of_science

    Science is a methodology, a systemized form of skepticism that builds knowledge from evidence, which distinguishes it from systems of building knowledge that rely on revelation, ingesting psycho-active compounds, or sitting in a dark room thinking really hard.

    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    The metaphysics-eschewing scientist is a closet-metaphysician, and typically Aristotelian at that. If he actually avoided metaphysics like he claims, he would see more clearly how well Fisher has described him. Once this obvious historical thought enters the modern scientist's mind, he is not too far afield the question of God and philosophy.
    I'm not sure where you got the idea that I eschew metaphysics. I don't believe in the supernatural, but that isn't the same thing.
    Global warming denialists are like gravity denialists piloting a helicopter, determined to prove a point. We may not have time to actually persuade them of their mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rexlunae View Post
    Yes, necessity. It's a categorization that is invented ad hoc to enable God specially to answer the question behind the CA. An "unmoved mover" is a whopping big exception to causality, which is the whole basis of the argument in the first place.
    Right, I think that's pretty much the point.


    The whole necessary/contingent paradigm is a philosophical invention that has failed every meaningful test that science can do, and it falls well within the scientific purview.
    Modal logic? Says who? That is perhaps one of the strangest things I've ever heard, considering the fact that science relies directly on such distinctions and Aristotle, the scientist par excellence, is the one who initially saw such things. Is the fact that you have brown eyes an accidental or essential property? How about that you have a brain? These distinctions are not only perfectly rational and universally accepted, they are a bedrock of scientific discourse.

    It's not that I have a taboo against using the G-word. I find it interesting that there is such a drive to repurpose the word "God", especially from more orthodox theists.
    That's quite an assertion. So what was the old concept of God, and what is the new one?

    But the real issue is that I consider the entire dichotomy false and inapplicable. Particles pop uncaused into and out of existence all the time, particles that are no more or less "contingent" than the particles that compose our own bodies. And while we've discovered a "God particle" (tongue firmly in cheek on that pseudonym), we've never seen anything like a necessary, well, anything.
    Er, you're a fairly smart guy. Do you really believe that because we have not scientifically observed a necessary being its existence is therefore doubtful? Do you actually think your argument is anywhere near sound? Do you think the methods of science are suited to such a discovery? We've been over this too many times.

    No Zip, that's not what I mean. I mean opaque to any rational examination of any sort. It's the wizard behind the curtain.
    Why is it opaque to rational demonstration? Isn't the CA a direct counter-argument to such a claim?

    Science has access to contingent realities, things that can be empirically accessed. God, as the rational answer to these contingent realities themselves, is clearly not accessible to science in the way contingent realities are.
    By what means (what epistemology) do you know anything about that God?
    By philosophy; by the CA.

    Of course you are free to ask yourself whether an infinite regress of movers or an unmoved mover is more plausible.
    I do so love false dichotomies stated as a sort of freedom, but what science suggests is that causality is not the absolute law that it is often portrayed to be.
    And I do so love this old desperate canard. Science isn't concerned exclusively with causality? Stuff actually just pops in and out of existence from nothing, uncaused? Brilliant. I can't wait to see how science demonstrates that.

    Bob: Hey Jim, this computer just popped into existence on my desk!
    Jim: How in the world did that happen!?
    Bob: I've determined that nothing caused it. No causality of any kind. It actually came into existence from nothing.
    Bob: Oh? What sort of scientific tests did you run to come to your conclusion?
    Jim:


    I didn't say otherwise. What I pointed out is that logic alone is very limited.
    ...therefore?

    Science is a methodology, a systemized form of skepticism...
    No it's not. Skepticism and science are incompatible. Science takes as granted objective regularities in the world, intelligibility, substances and accidents. There is no scientific argument for any of these things that are necessary for science.

    I'm not sure where you got the idea that I eschew metaphysics. I don't believe in the supernatural, but that isn't the same thing.
    Then what's wrong with the CA? Or the question that it answers?
    Last edited by zippy2006; April 25th, 2013 at 06:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zippy2006 View Post
    Quote:
    Science is a methodology, a systemized form of skepticism...
    No it's not. Skepticism and science are incompatible. Science takes as granted objective regularities in the world, intelligibility, substances and accidents. There is no scientific proof for any of these things that are necessary for science.
    Proof is no part of science, but inductive reasoning is, and concluding by induction is not the same as taking for granted.

    The objective realities are observable and testable: it is not enough to say it has not been proven, when the evidence is overwhelming that the assumption of regularity of the rules of the universe is a reliable and reasonable one. You can believe otherwise, but you'd have less evidence than science does.
    We wunt be druv.

    Self appointed representative of the reality based community. [Send complaints to /dev/null.]

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    If God tells you He exists, then it would be worse than "more faith," it'd be mind assassination. For me, this is the fact of the matter.

    Why some of you are not told as plainly as you need to hear it like I was, I don't know. One answer among several would have to do with the will and desire of a man/woman and whether that one is listening or not. God is there and He is not silent as far as my experience goes.
    My New Years Resolution: 1 Peter 3:15
    Omniscient without man's qualification. John 1:3 "Nothing"
    Colossians 1:17 "Nothing" John 15:5 "Nothing"
    Mighty, ALL mighty (omnipotent). Revelation 1:8
    No possible limitation Isaiah 40:25 Joshua 24:15
    Infinite (Omnipresent) Psalm 145:3 Hebrews 4:13

    Is Calvinism okay? Yep

    Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think... Amen. -Ephesians 3:20 & 21

    1Co 13:11 ... when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. Titus 3:10 Ephesians 4:29-32; 5:11

    Separation of church and State is not atheism "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."

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