Sunday, October 15, 2017

Five Proofs with Prager et al. (UPDATED)


UPDATE 10/17: You can now hear the Prager show interview online

This Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 11 am PT, I will appear on The Dennis Prager Show to discuss my book Five Proofs of the Existence of God.

In early November, I will appear on Unbelievable? with Justin Brierley to discuss the book.

More media appearances forthcoming.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, you can listen to my recent appearances on A Closer Look with Sheila Liaugminas (the interview begins about 14 minutes into the show), Janet Mefferd Today, and Morning Air with John Harper (the interview begins about 41 minutes into the show).  Earlier radio appearances can be found here.

335 comments:

  1. I am glad that you made this post. One thing overlooked about Leibniz's contingency argument is just how absurd brute facts are. In fact, brute facts are so absurd that we recognize them to be just as bad as contradictions when we see them. I will give an example of a brute fact found in The Simpsons (but also many other animated sitcoms) that everyone mocks because it is a brute fact.

    In The Simpsons, ever since the 90s, nobody get any older, despite the fact that decades can pass between events in The Simpsons timeline. This is acknowledged by every viewer to be absurd, but why is it absurd? Is it because it's not realistic? But that can't be it: the story of Sysiphus being ordered by the Greek pantheon to carry a big boulder up a mountain for all eternity is extremely unrealistic, but yet it is not absurd. Similarly, Hamlet being visited by the ghost of his father is also extremely unrealistic, but yet not absurd. Generally speaking, fantasy is not absurdity (although all absurdity is fantasy). Is it because it's a contradiction? That can't be it either, because contradictions always cause discontinuity in fiction. A contradiction would be Homer being born in the United States in one episode but in later seasons being told that he was born in Canada. And indeed, upon closer analysis there is no contradiction that results in assuming that the normal aging process stops for the main non-guest characters in Springfield some time in 1990. It appears, then, that the reason why this is absurd is because it is a brute fact. It is a brute fact that aging stops for non-guest characters in Springfield some time in 1989/1990, and this brute fact is so offensive to our sense of reason that we take a moment to realize how absurd it is.

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    1. What's also striking is that many people demand an answer or explanation as to WHY they don't age.

      One explanation is that the show's writers do not bother to age them because they want the show to still retain the classic charm of being roughly in the same age throughout time.

      This is in fact the correct answer and is in fact taken by most people either consciously or unconsciously as a good enough reason not to complain when watching the show.

      Another reason could be some elaborate and complex thing related with physics, such as radioactivity or quantum mechanics or downright magical powers (that are sufficiently intelligible of course), but whatever it is, people naturally tend to demand SOME reason, even if it is extraordinary.

      But the idea of the Simpsons not aging FOR NO REASON AT ALL strikes people as downright absurd and unbelievable, and is something that frustrates our reason and intellect.



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    2. Tomislav Ostojich October 15, 2017 at 12:22 PM

      "I am glad that you made this post. One thing overlooked about Leibniz's contingency argument is just how absurd brute facts are."
      --Are all brute facts absurd? If so, then the first mover is absurd, since it would be a brute fact, not explainable in terms of anything else. The first mover is said to simply be necessary and could not fail to exist.

      Or can you explain the existence of god?

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    3. If God explains everything then, then - WHAT EXPLAINS GOD?!?!?!

      In other non-Stardusty Psyche related news I would recommend anyone interested in the PSR Cosmological Argument check out Richard Gale's assessment of the argument in On The Nature and Existence of God; it's own of the most penetrating and sympathetic studies of the argument from a critical perspective out there.

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    4. I think a good way to avoid the sort of misunderstanding present in Stardusty's post about the leibnizian cosmological argument would be to not talk of "God" at all until the very last part. Because really, what PSR entails, and what rationalists in general (like Leibniz, Clarke, etc) have always understood is that either there is a brute fact, or there is a necessary being that explains contingency.

      Given PSR, you can't just have contingent facts, you can't just have contingent beings. It's impossible, it's ruled out by PSR. That's it. What follows is that there must be at least a necessary fact, at least one being -- whatever it is -- that exists necessarily, that could never have failed to exist, and that is inconceivable to think of as non-existent, and that (in modern modal terms) exists in every possible world. That's it. Call this being X.

      The existence of X is just the conclusion of the argument, and is fully compatible with PSR. It just so happens that we enjoy calling X by the name of "God", and that is the same name that people use to refer to a Creator in deism and many religions.

      However, calling X "God" is by no means arbitrary, because X really bears a striking resemblance to the so called Creator God of deism and monotheistic religions. Establishing this resemblance is a further issue, that which Pruss calls the "gap problem". But there are numerous arguments that bridge the gap problem and show how X would in fact have the attributes of the traditional conception of a monotheistic God.

      X's existence in itself, however, already contradicts naturalism and materialism, however.

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    5. X's existence is of course not a brute fact, because it is self-explanatory as a necessary proposition. Alternatively, the PSR applies only for contingent facts.

      It's either the existence of X, or PSR is false. Because given PSR, there can't just be contingent facts and beings. There's no in-between.

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    6. Are all brute facts absurd? If so, then the first mover is absurd, since it would be a brute fact, not explainable in terms of anything else. The first mover is said to simply be necessary and could not fail to exist.

      I know that you've been labeled as a troll but I do want to seriously respond to your point.

      Necessary existence is not a brute fact but a self-explaining fact. Some facts are self-explaining, such as the law of the excluded middle (P \/ ~P) or the law of non-contradiction (~(P /\ ~P)). They're not brute facts because there's a necessity to them existing that lies within themselves.

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    7. Miguel October 15, 2017 at 2:18 PM

      "X's existence is of course not a brute fact,"
      --Of course it is a brute fact.

      " because it is self-explanatory as a necessary proposition. "
      --That's what a brute fact is.

      Explanations are relative. We explain one thing in terms of other things, such as smaller constituents. When we get to the terminus of our structural modeling regress we get to a brute fact.

      Theists are continually attempting to define their way out of their self contradictions.

      Fine, I will then define quantum fields as necessary. Quantum fields could not have failed to exist in any possible world by definition, therefore they are not a brute fact. Thus naturalism, so defined, does not rest on a brute fact, rather, naturalism rests upon that which is necessary and could not have failed to exist, quantum fields, and that must be true because that is how I defined it.

      Atoms and molecules and galaxies are contingent, quantum fields are necessary by definition.




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    8. @Stardusty You seem to presuppose that if you believe in brute facts then everyone else must and just be in denial. Do you have any evidence for that presupposition?

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    9. There's nothing new or unique about the Simpsons's freedom from aging. It's noticeable because it is (a) a cartoon, and (b) has run forever. But in comic strips it's been common enough.

      Even in series novels, time can be frozen. Wodehouse's characters never age either, nor do Nero Wolf and Archie (and many other detectives). While Patrick O'Brien's characters do age some, the second half of the series (from 1812 onward) is in a sort of alternative time, as he admitted in one of the prefaces.

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    10. Tomislav Ostojich October 15, 2017 at 3:32 PM

      "@Stardusty You seem to presuppose that if you believe in brute facts then everyone else must and just be in denial."
      --That does not follow. Why would the denial or non-denial be predicated on my beliefs? Why should my beliefs be the antecedent to the consequent denial by others?

      " Do you have any evidence for that presupposition?"
      --I'm not sure your original wording expressed fully what you were thinking.

      Theists who assert god as somehow being self explanatory and necessary and therefore not a brute fact are in denial through the usage of invented technical terms that draw a false distinction with no actual difference.

      Why is there a god as opposed to absolutely nothing at all? If there could have been no such thing as material existence, whatever that turns out to be at base, then there also could have been no such thing as god.

      I am looking out my window, I see material clouds, but no god. I am looking in my coffee cup, I see material liquid, no god. All around me I see and hear and feel and taste and smell materials of many sorts, but no god.

      Material existence is everywhere in stark glaring evidence, but god is nowhere to be seen. Yet, somehow, theists have invented in their minds the notion that this invisible being is necessary to exist, and all that so manifestly exists is not necessary to exist.

      And that makes sense how?

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    11. Stardusty,

      How the fuck is a necessary proposition a brute fact? It is self-explained inasmuch as if you grasp it, you understand that it is true and also why it is true. That's the complete opposite of a brute fact, which is a concept you don't seem to understand.

      Besides, if we limit PSR to contingent facts -- and we may have reasons to do so --, this issu doesn't even arise.

      We don't just explain things by finding its "constituent parts", that's a reductivist ASSUMPTION that would simply beg the question against PSR, as (for example) a conjunction of PSR with a conjunctive fact of all contingent facts could never yield a reductive-constituents kind of explanation. And if you don't restrict explanations to this reductivist sort, then you will get to X's existence anyway.

      "Fine, I will define quantum fields as necessary"

      You're free to do that, good luck with that. In this case, you accept X's existence, you just so happen to identify X with a quantum field. So finally you understand that the issue is that, given PSR, there just CAN'T be nothing but contingent facts and beings, there has to be at least one necessary being, one necessary fact, X.
      If you wanna say that X is the quantum field, then you've already accepted the conclusion of the rationalist cosmological argument -- you just disagree over the "gap problem", as I mentioned. So go ahead. However, if you *really* want to argue that X is the quantum field, or can be the quantum field, then you'll run into a panoply of problems (starting with the fact that the kind of explanation required for the conjunctive contingent fact of all contingent facts cannot itself be a scientific explanation or invove anything like what we know about the quantum field).

      It's not about "defining" anything however you like. It's about X's existence, and what kind of thing X must be if it is to be a necessary being and explain a contingent conjunctive fact of all contingent facts.

      And really, you sound extremely confused about this matter. I'd recommend you to read Pruss's article on Leibnizian Cosmological Arguments (you can google that) or his book on PSR, to start.

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    12. Stardusty has indeed convinced me there are brute facts. His philosophical incompetence is so absurd, so lacking in intelligibility, that no explanation could possibly account for it. SDP himself is the brute fact.

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    13. Miguel October 15, 2017 at 5:14 PM

      Stardusty,

      "How the fuck is a necessary proposition a brute fact?"
      --How "the fuck" is it not?

      " It is self-explained inasmuch as if you grasp it,"
      --Interesting, do you grasp god?

      " you understand that it is true "
      --So, you "understand" god's necessary nature?

      "and also why it is true."
      --You "understand" why it is true that god exists?

      Perhaps you can tell me why god exists as opposed to absolutely nothing at all?

      " That's the complete opposite of a brute fact, which is a concept you don't seem to understand."
      --You don't seem to understand that by asserting a thing necessarily exists you are merely stating in other words that thing is a brute fact.

      The theistic assertion that god exists as a necessary being is merely special pleading for your assertion of an invisible brute fact, the existence of god.

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    14. We grasp that it is a necessary being because it could not fail to exist and that is the whole point. We cannot even pose the question "why does a necessary being exist instead of nothing at all" because that is akin to asking "why does 2 plus 2 equal 4?", the very nature of what 2 is entails that if you add it to 2 you will get what we call "4" as a result. The very nature of a necessary being precludes it from not-existing, and it is by its own nature that it exists, just as it is by its own nature that 2 is the kind of being that, when added to 2, equals 4. How the fuck do you not see a difference between posing that question and asking "why did my sandwich disappear from my table when I went to the bathroom" just shows how confused you are in that you can't even grasp a conceptual difference between analytic and synthetic propositions (regardless of your opinions on whether this distinction holds; I'm talking about a conceptual difference).

      I guess tautologies must make you very confused, too. You might as well ask why bachelors are unmarried and then believe this to be a brute fact.

      You can even skip this whole part if you want; the thing is that, given PSR, there will *have* to exist a being whose existence would be true in all possible worlds, whether or not you understand what such a being is, or how we even explain necessary propositions. You seem to have completely ignored me when I said we can limit PSR to contingent facts and it will still yield X's existence. If there has to be an explanation for every contingent fact, then contingent facts and beings cannot be all there is, and we end up on X again; heck, if there can POSSIBLY be an explanation for every contingent fact, then it also follows that X exists (that's the type of argument that made Richard Gale abandon atheism, by the way).

      From X to God, it's not a matter of definitions. It is a matter of seeing what kind of being can explain the existence of all contingent beings, or the contingent conjunctive fact of contingent facts.

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    15. To make it simpler (since I predict you will double down and somehow suggest that necessary analytic propositions are not self-explained, but rather are """brute facts""" in your warped conception that ignores the fact that there is no meaningful question to ask why category:bachelors are unmarried): call it "brute fact", if you want. At this point, you need but realize that there is a difference between this type of """brute fact""" and what philosophers who have thought about this question for centuries and centuries have always called "brute fact". Call your bizarre "brute fact" BF1, and call the common, contingent brute facts BF2.

      In this manner, that 2 plus 2 equals 4 would be an instance of BF1. That bachelors are unmarried would be another instance of BF1.

      That a sandwich disappeared from your table this morning, however, is not a fact comparable to the above; not only is this clear by its not being an analytic proposition, but also because it is the kind of fact you would normally start an investigation about expecting an explanation that could conceivably involve more than just semantics and logical equivalence -- those facts alone already make it so that BF2 is really distinct from BF1, there is something true of category BF2 that is not true of category BF1.

      PSR applies to BF2. At a minimum, you need a PSR that applies to BF2. And if you apply PSR to BF2, you will reach X's existence, even if you take X's existence to be a case of BF1. There is no way around it.

      Given PSR, X's existence follows.

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    16. Miguel October 15, 2017 at 6:52 PM

      "We grasp that it is a necessary being because it could not fail to exist and that is the whole point."
      --Indeed. You have just described a brute fact. Asserting X is a necessary being is asserting X is a brute fact.

      " We cannot even pose the question "why does a necessary being exist instead of nothing at all""
      --I didn't, I asked you why god exists as opposed to absolutely nothing at all. You are unable to answer that question, so your claim to understand god is false.

      " because that is akin to asking "why does 2 plus 2 equal 4?", "
      --Now you are equating a synthetic proposition with an analytic proposition. I asked you to tell me why god exists (synthetic) and you are going on about an abstraction (analytic).

      Or do you suppose the number 2 is synthesized? If so, I would like you to point out into space and show me where the number 2 exists.

      "the very nature of what 2 is"
      --The number 2 has a "nature" that "is"? Silly me, I thought "2" was an abstraction.

      "The very nature of a necessary being precludes it from not-existing, and it is by its own nature that it exists,"
      --I was wondering how long it would take you to try to define god into existence.

      "You can even skip this whole part if you want;"
      --OK

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    17. Miguel October 15, 2017 at 7:16 PM

      " Given PSR, X's existence follows."
      --Our models require a terminus, which is fundamental physics, whatever that turns out to be. You may call that an assertion of a brute fact if you wish, but then the assertion of the existence of your god is also an assertion of a brute fact.

      It is unfortunate in some sense that the OP is in regard to a future event. That makes it difficult to ground the conversation in the material of the OP.

      Never fear, I can rescue us from this conundrum! Allow me to suggest you listen to the video here:
      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/10/five-proofs-on-daily-wire.html

      Undoubtedly you will be deeply appreciative of my sage insights provided with timestamps here:
      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/10/five-proofs-on-daily-wire.html?showComment=1508002247843#c4549103180212158945

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    18. Please everyone, stop feeding the troll.

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    19. 1- I explained to you that it we cannot even pose the question of "why a necessary being exists" expecting anything other than what is already contained in the proposition "there exists a necessary being". You said you didn't pose that question and then IMMEDIATELY proceeds to ask why a god exists. Given that I am talking about necessary being X, I have already explained it. It is akin to asking why 2 + 2 equals 4. If there is nothing to ask, there is nothing to explain, and therefore no brute fact. Again, I guess tautologies must get you really confused. You might as well think that "bachelors are unmarried" is a "brute fact". Congratulations being stupid and not understanding what a brute fact is, in particular in the context of a search of an explanans for an explanandum.

      2- the fact that something is abstract does not preclude us to speak of its nature. I was very clear on what I was talking about -- 2 plus 2 equals 4 precisely because 2 is 2. A necessary being exists because that's exactly what we expect from a necessary being, that is exactly what "necessary being" IMPLIES. The proposition is self-explanatory, not a brute fact. What is wrong with you? Are you even familiar with tautologies? Do you even know what analytic propositions are?

      3- You have completely ignored the argument I put forward. I had already expected you to double down on the retarded nonsense with the idea that analytical propositions are "brute facts", and I explained to you that even IF we were to grant that, it still doesn't change the conclusion of the argument. Read it again because you don't seem to have understood it (unsurprisingly). Your talk about a "terminus" makes no fucking difference either; a minimal PSR would shave off BF2 brute facts and imply X's existence, even IF you want to mistakenly treat X as a brute fact -- in this case, X would be a BF1 brute fact. The only possible moves would be to blur the distinction of BF1 and BF2 -- but that is not possible, because BF1 and BF2 are distinct categories and there are true facts about category BF2 that would not apply to category BF1, as explained --, or deny a PSR for BF2. That, however, carries immense costs, and would already bring the argument's discussion back to what I stated it really was: IF you have PSR, then necessarily it cannot be that there are only contingent facts and beings, there must be at least one necessary fact and necessary being.

      And 3 follows even CONCEDING your abysmal confusion over what brute facts are, dealt with at 1.

      And if you think your (credulous) "skepticism" in these matters is not only possible, but plausible as well, then I feel sorry for you.

      That's my last post here, since you don't seem to understand shit about this issue and you keep ignoring what I'm saying.

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    20. Also, it seems to me that another problem with a brute fact view of the existence of reality is that it can be reduced to the idea that something is in fact coming from nothing.

      Remember how the Aristotelian argument and Thomistic one essentially point out how something cannot come from nothing and therefore we need a purely actual actualiser / existence itself?

      A brute fact view would seem to imply that the universe just keeps existing and does so out of nothing, which makes it even more absurd.

      Another absurd consequence of a brute fact view is that, since the existence of things is just a brute fact, then why not the non-existence of things?

      Why doesn't the universe stop existing at any moment now? One may say that this also is a brute fact, but the PSR-denier would have to admit that this is also possible, and could happen for no reason at all.

      Basically, the universe could stop existing at any moment for no reason at all, and we would have absolutely no reason to believe it should continue to exist for any period of time, thus destroying any argument from probability one could make for the continued existence of things.

      Another absurd consequence of this is that things could also be created constantly / pop out of nothing, and do this for no reason at all , yet we don't see this happen.

      In other words, if you are going to proclaim that the existence of things as an aspect of anything is a brute fact, then this easily opens up other brute possibilities existence could have as well.

      Basically, it's impossible to quarantine the damage that the acceptance of brute facts does to the world, making all attempts of trying to limit brute facts only to the category of why things exist completely futile.

      Why, it's almost as if brute facts make existence completely irrational as to avoid having to conclude it is intellectual and personal in order to avoid theism!

      In some way, it also certainly runs afoul of the laws of logic, since the laws of logic clearly show that the mode fo existence of a certain thing is reasonable and intelligible (PNC and excluded middle for example) and the laws themselves are also self-explanatory.

      I wonder why...



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    21. You have completely ignored the argument I put forward.

      Yep, that's what he does. He completely avoids the arguments, vomiting out red herrings and begged questions. And then, when it's shown for all to see that he clearly doesn't understand what he's talking about, suddenly one or two "Anonymous" commenters arrive saying "No really, you guys, SDP isn't a troll."

      Interesting, that.

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    22. Miguel October 15, 2017 at 10:16 PM

      "1- I explained to you that it we cannot even pose the question of "why a necessary being exists"
      --And I explained that I am asking why god exists, not why a necessary being exists. You say because god is necessary. I ask why is anything necessary as opposed to their being absolutely nothing at all?

      You end up simply making an assertion of an existential brute fact, god simply is necessary.

      The hypocrisy is to then go on to criticize brute fact assertions. The theistic method is to dress up their brute fact assertion in convoluted and sophisticated sounding code words that claim the theistic assertion of a brute fact somehow is not.

      "2- the fact that something is abstract does not preclude us to speak of its nature."
      --Abstractions are not things with natures. We abstractly assign the properties to an abstraction.

      "Your talk about a "terminus" makes no fucking difference either;"
      --Well, you do have a colorful use of the language, gotta give ya that.

      "3- You have completely ignored the argument I put forward."
      --Once you strawman my words I am not interested in your disproof of that strawman.

      "That's my last post here, since you don't seem to understand shit"
      --A strawman made of excrement is not understandable, ok, true dat.

      Why is god necessary? That is my question. Yes, I realize that to say a necessary thing must exist has the truth of a tautology. But why must that thing exist?

      For all the sophisticated sounding philosophical jargon the theistic assertion is simply a brute fact assertion. God simply must exist. God simply is necessary.

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    23. JoeD October 16, 2017 at 9:33 AM

      "Remember how the Aristotelian argument and Thomistic one essentially point out how something cannot come from nothing and therefore we need a purely actual actualiser / existence itself?"
      --Why does the "purely actual" thing exist as opposed to absolutely nothing at all?

      "A brute fact view would seem to imply that the universe just keeps existing and does so out of nothing, which makes it even more absurd."
      --The universe continues to exist because conservation is no change. No change calls for no changer. If the universe were to cease to exist that would call for a changer, a reason.

      "Basically, the universe could stop existing at any moment for no reason at all, and we would have absolutely no reason to believe it should continue to exist for any period of time,"
      --That would be a change which would call for a changer.

      To persist in existence is no change. No change calls for no changer.

      To cease to exist is a change. A change calls for a changer.

      You have it back to front, as did Aristotle, which is why modern physics is anti A-T, and A-T is anti modern physics.

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    24. MiguelOctober 15, 2017 at 10:16 PM

      You say a "necessary being exists", but how do you know there are any examples of necessary beings? Why do you choose the fictional biblical character "God" as your single unjustified example of a necessary being? Why not Gandalf or Harry Potter? They appear as characters in story books, too.

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    25. This Steven Evans dude must be SP in disguise.

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    26. Anonymous October 23, 2017 at 1:49 PM

      "This Steven Evans dude must be SP in disguise."
      Good to see you're not disguising yourself, "Anonymous" ;)

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    27. Well, I’m not pretending to be someone else entirely. I’m just hiding. ;)

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  2. So glad you finally announced the unbelievable? Gig. Brierley announced on twitter last week and I've been pumped even since. PLEASE tell me you have been given the hour and not a 15 minute slot at the end of the show?!

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  3. "Dennis Prager continues to present himself as that most farcical combination: a public moralist who defends Donald Trump." Still defending (to the death) the Donald. Don't give these clowns your time, Ed.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/the-immoral-majority/516582/

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  4. I don't know if it's relevant to the topic of the show, but I'd hope that you could awaken Prager to the fact that the Divine Command theory is not the only possible attitude for a Christian or Jew to take. It's not that he is consistent in putting it forward, but he seems oblivious to the fact that it is controversial.

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  5. Compared with what goes on on other boards ... you guys have no basis for continuing to call SDP a troll. The dude is presenting content. Maybe he should post equations to back up what he asserts about models provided by modern physics, I don't know. But taking a stance of disagreement against the person who runs a blog is not itself trolling under any definition of trolling that I've seen.

    I've actually gotten some ideas from SDP that have been supported by other people I've asked, who have backgrounds in physics.

    The dude is not trolling.

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    1. Miguel: Please don't feed the trolls (actual or virtual).


      Anonymous: But taking a stance of disagreement against the person who runs a blog is not itself trolling

      Of course not. SD is a rude mendacious ignoramus who disrupts serious conversations wherever he goes. Whether he is a genuine troll (i.e. acting like a jackass deliberately to cause trouble) or whether he's just thick as a redwood on Jupiter doesn't really matter. He has no interest in serious debate, so it's up to the rest of us to respect Ed's space here and keep the conversations constructive (as he has requested many times).

      I've actually gotten some ideas from SDP that have been supported by other people I've asked, who have backgrounds in physics.

      Newton (who also had a background in physics) got some ideas from an apple falling on his head. That doesn't make the apple intelligent, honest, or worth listening to. If you have an idea, it doesn't matter where it came from — if you want to discuss it seriously, please go ahead raise it yourself, and people will respond.

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    2. I have a background in physics.

      The dude is trolling.

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    3. "We grasp that it is a necessary being because it could not fail to exist and that is the whole point."
      --Indeed. You have just described a brute fact."

      In a nut shell.

      I'm guessing you were the anonymous poster impressed with his defence of scientism before? Rather than suggest you ignore him, I think you should read around even more!

      (I do like his analytic schtik with maths though. He's a consistent positivist at least!).

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    4. Mr. Green October 15, 2017 at 8:30 PM

      " He has no interest in serious debate,"
      --Those are some impressive mind reading skills, determining my "interests" through the internet...

      The last time Feser had an interview on the same topic he spoke out against brute facts and those who resort to them, apparently unaware that his assertion of god is itself an assertion of a brute fact, but dressed up in sophisticated sounding but ultimately erroneous technical jargon to conceal the self contradiction.

      Instead of using rational argumentation to support Feser you merely call names, which only reflects badly upon all you associate with.

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    5. Anonymous October 16, 2017 at 1:52 AM

      "I have a background in physics."
      --Please provide a list of modern physics references that employ the 4 "causes" of Aristotle.

      Please provide a list of cosmologists who fundamentally agree with Feser and disagree with me.

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    6. @SDP How many times do we have to repeat ourselves? THESE ARE NOT COSMOLOGICAL ISSUES.

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    7. "--Please provide a list of modern physics references that employ the 4 "causes" of Aristotle.

      Please provide a list of cosmologists who fundamentally agree with Feser and disagree with me."

      --Interesting. So, the only valid source of knowledge is modern physics?

      Okay. Please provide us scientific proof to back up that assertion. Only equations and experiments allowed.

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    8. “Please provide a list of modern physics references that employ the 4 "causes" of Aristotle.

      Please provide a list of cosmologists who fundamentally agree with Feser and disagree with me.”


      Non sequitur. Whether modern science makes use of Aristotelian terminology and concepts, and especially whether most modern scientists are themselves aware of it, is irrelevant to the point I just made. (To be clear: the history of science is rife with examples among its greatest figures, who usually knew a thing or two about philosophy, that saw how the complete rejection of teleology entails seriously untenable consequences. But even if, per absurdum, this were not true, the original point would still stand.)

      Besides, your entire babbling testifies to your extreme and proud irrationality. Prof. Feser has addressed and annihilated your claims time and time again; the fact that you don't even seem to be aware of this, let alone try to provide any counter-arguments to this effect, shows beyond the shadow of a doubt you're not a serious thinker nor an opponent worth engaging. Better yet: perhaps you don't realise this, but in reality the only thing you're accomplishing with your pathetic behaviour is to help strengthen our theism and our faith; for, if you really had anything to contribute to the discussion and could provide any argument worth listening to, surely you would have done so already. ��

      You are a troll and the truth is: to this day, you have never even managed to demonstrate here in this blog any substantial knowledge in physics. Because, you know, dropping the names of stuff in a conversation is not the same as actually knowing said stuff. Feynman dixit. ��

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    9. Anonymous October 16, 2017 at 9:42 AM

      "Interesting. So, the only valid source of knowledge is modern physics?
      --Some Anon cited his/her background in physics as a support for his/her assertion of my "trolling".

      What aspect of that asserted physics background supports that claim?

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    10. Anonymous October 16, 2017 at 3:27 PM

      SP “Please provide a list of modern physics references that employ the 4 "causes" of Aristotle.

      Please provide a list of cosmologists who fundamentally agree with Feser and disagree with me.”


      "Non sequitur."
      --Tell that to the Anon who cited a background in physics in the first place.

      He/she put for that a background in physics is relevant. How?

      "Prof. Feser has addressed and annihilated your claims time and time again;"
      --Feser rarely addresses me directly and that's fine, I am sure he is very busy. He has never engaged in a rational exchange with me on the merits of the technical points I raise against A-T, again, perfectly fine, he does not owe me his time.

      I, on the other hand, have cited his words frequently with quotes, links, and timestamps. Then I use rational arguments to demonstrate his errors. Like here for example:
      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/10/five-proofs-on-daily-wire.html?showComment=1508002247843#c4549103180212158945

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    11. Well, you silly troll, I am the Anon who has a background in physics *and* to whom you are responding with this last comment of yours. I though that'd be obvious from how I phrased it ("the point I just made").

      Plus, your replies make absolutely no sense. The original Anon said your ideas are supported by some acquaintances of his with backgrounds in physics. But this is just not true, for, since I have a background in physics myself and also follow Prof. Feser's work, both of which are entirely and undeniably compatible with one another, I can attest to how patently obvious it is that you have, to this day, been manifestly unable and unwilling to address his points and, apparently, to even bother to try to understand them. And even worse, this is after he has repeatedly destroyed the very Humean, Kantian, positivist and scientistic arguments you mindlessly keep parroting (captain here: it'd be a complete waste of time for him to reply to you directly and just copy-paste what he has explored at length elsewhere).

      Your perennial trainwrecks of fallacies are, to put it bluntly, risible. But once again, thank you so much for being here to strengthen our theism and our faith: your lack of worthwhile objections is a testimony to our being correct in our beliefs. :D

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    12. Anon, one possibility is always that those who say their "ideas are supported by some acquaintances of his with backgrounds in physics" are correct in one sense. They may well have presented very garbled versions of what they've read here, and gotten seeming confirmation. I've seen this happen a lot.

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    13. Anonymous October 17, 2017 at 7:29 AM

      " I have a background in physics myself and also follow Prof. Feser's work, both of which are entirely and undeniably compatible with one another,"
      --Feser, like A-T, is incompatible with conservation of mass/energy and inertia. His protestations to the contrary are strawmen.

      A-T claims a first mover is called for to account for the continued existence of material objects. A-T claims the first mover is more generally the first changer, called for by a regress in the present that is said to be impossible to proceed to infinity.

      In truth is that A-T view is anti-scientific, anti-physics, and completely irrational.

      When things stay the same they do not change. That should be obvious.

      No change calls for no changer. If a thing is not changing there is no call for any series of changers at all, much less a long series of changers with a consideration of an impossible infinite regression. The actual regression is zero, no regression at all.

      To persist in existence is no change. This is expressed in physics as the conservation of mass/energy.

      If a thing were to suddenly disappear from existence that would be a change calling for a changer, and also a violation of physics, the conservation of mass/energy.

      You, Feser, Aquinas, and Aristotle all have it backwards. Physics contradicts you all.

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    14. Yes, Mr Psycho, we get it: you failed high school physics and philosophy. Poor little you :(

      Delete
  6. Anonymous October 15, 2017 at 6:27 PM

    " Maybe he should post equations to back up what he asserts about models provided by modern physics, I don't know."
    --Well, that would get kind of cumbersome, especially in a plain text editor, but I appreciate the point you are making. Anybody can wave their arms around and claim "science proves it" or whatever.

    If you spot something of mine that seems unsubstantiated please let me know and I will see if I can post a supporting link.

    "I've actually gotten some ideas from SDP that have been supported by other people I've asked, who have backgrounds in physics."
    --I try to be as accurate as I know how to be. If you spot something of mine you disagree with go ahead and post on it.

    But let me ask, why the "Anonymous" handle? I mean, it's kind of a Bob's yer uncle situation. One Anon thinks I'm contributing and another Anon is begging others not to say anything to me. What's a poor stupid incoherent ignorant homo troll supposed to think?-)

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    1. Shoo! Shoo! Go away, evil troll!! SHOO!!!

      Delete
    2. I haven't figured out how to create a profile on this site, lol

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    3. I posted earlier comments, saying SDP is not a troll, as Anonymous. I'll see if I can manage using this mode.

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    4. Well, I'm afraid SDP is an unrepentant and impenitent troll ;(

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  7. Prof. Feser,

    When can we expect the release of your upcoming book on the philosophy of nature (which i presume and hope will include an account on the philosophy of time)?

    Also i'd much appreciate if you could write a bit about it here (particularly about the philosophy of time) until the release of the book.

    Thx,

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  8. Ahh, Now that Dr.Feser mentioned that book was supposed to contain only Four Proofs I am reminded that Setting aside the question of whether PSR is true or not what I find very problematic about Rationalist proof is that Just by the way it is presented in that book seems to makes it completely pointless argument.

    The way it is presented after Aristotelian proof and Thomistic Proof and seems to reduce it to little more than an intuition Pump.

    Consider its premise 10. That There are contingent beings,
    or the rebuttals provided to the objection that Something other than God could be necessary.

    These would require that the arguer provide some account of modality i.e What it means for something to be contingent/necessary or what grounds a things contingency/necessity.

    In that it seems A-Tist can say what is mixture of Act/Potency is a contingent , What is Purely actual is necessary hence endorsing some kind of powers account of modality or Say that being whose essence is distinct from its existence is contingent, Being whose essence is existence itself is necessary hence endorsing an essentialist account of modality.

    But the former corresponds to Aristotelian proof, the latter to Thomistic proof. Indeed this is how the above mentioned objection is answered in that book.

    But very notably it seems the Rationalist proof itself is made entirely redundant here.Further,if one finds Those two proofs objectionable then that would apply to this as well.So I am extremely puzzled by its inclusion in the book among those other proofs.

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    1. 1- the rationalist proof, unlike the aristotelian and thomistic proofs, doesn't require any distinction between essential and accidental causal series. The causal principle in the aristotelian and thomistic arguments is what we could call a "local" causal principle, and as such entertains the possibility of an infinite regress. The thomistic and aristotelian arguments solve the issue of an infinite regress by arguing for a distinction between essential and accidental causal chains, and arguing that the actualization of potency/actuality beings is actually part of an essentially ordered series. The rationalist proof, by contrast, has no need for this distinction. If you have PSR, it doesn't matter whether there are essentially or accidentally ordered series; even if there is an infinite accidentally ordered series of causes or explanations, that being a contingent fact (or part of a contigent conjunctive fact of contingent facts) would require an explanation in terms of a necessary being. So if a reader is (for whatever reason) unsure about essential/accidental series and whether or not we could have just an infinite accidentally ordered series of causes, he can still be convinced by the rationalist proof that, if there's PSR, even this situation would lead one to God's existence.

      2- These are not the only possible answers to this question. They might be favored by philosophers of a scholastic persuasion, but there are other arguments for the contingency of the universe. For instance, (i) The suggestion that the universe would be necessary intuitively bizarre, (ii) we can clearly conceive of the universe, or quarks or anything material as being non-existent and modally contingent, (iii) necessitarianism would undermine free will (for those who believe in free will, which is the majority of people anyway), (iv) we clearly search for explanations for at least some things and facts in the universe, so at least some things and facts in the universe are contingent and we suppose that they have, at the very least, a possible explanans -- but if this is so, then we can apply PSR to the contingent conjunctive fact of these cases, and the necessary being we would have to get to would have to be agential (because otherwise its explanandum would also be necessary, see Van Inwagen objection. Etc.

      It is a different argument in its own form. And there is much more to be said for it than what Feser did -- and I'm sure Feser himself knows it, and in part has included the argument there to instigate people to pay more attention to it and study it more.

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    2. 1- the rationalist proof, unlike the aristotelian and thomistic proofs, doesn't require any distinction between essential and accidental causal series................ if there's PSR, even this situation would lead one to God's existence.

      Don't disagree, your point about essential and accidental causal series is a good one, perhaps I shouldn't have called it completely redundant. But still I think some of my points about needing an account of modality still stands , So I don't think Thomist have much need of defending this argument alongside those others. Maybe they should just add that stuff about causal series along with aristotelian and thomistic proofs , since the fact that there is such a thing as contingent causal series which requires a necessary being for its actualization , or there exist this distinction of contingent/necessary itself would be grounded in such an account. those accounts which correspond to those arguments tell us what kind of things are contingent and necessary in the first place .

      So relatedly I find your 2. problematic

      2- These are not the only possible answers to this question. They might be favored by philosophers of a scholastic persuasion, but there are other arguments for the contingency of the universe
      Again I don't disagree but First, note that I am talking more narrowly about Rationalist proof defended in this particular book since Ed has made it explicit that PSR here is interpreted in Scholastic( and I believe more narrowly, thomistic) rather than historical rationalist terms so accordingly related terms like contingency/necessity should be interpreted this way too.

      And secondly, Ed himself finds many of Historical early modern rationalists views on the topic problematic, similarly there are some problems with proposals you make too.

      (i) The suggestion that the universe would be necessary intuitively bizarre
      a) I am not saying that that is true but still there are complications here, like lets not talk about whole universe but an account is still needed to generalize what kind of things are contingent/necessary, The way from necessary being to God is through those account as well like the very reason necessary being must be God is because necessary being is pure actuality or that its essence is existence itself. maybe there are other ways to argue for that point too but I am not sure which and I don't know whether A-Tist like Dr.Feser would favor that or not.

      b) There are many accounts to ground that intuition and not all might be friendly to this argument or this view of God so still it seems to depend heavily on act/potency and essence/existence distinction.

      (iii) necessitarianism would undermine free will (for those who believe in free will, which is the majority of people anyway),
      Same as the above applies here too,

      (ii) we can clearly conceive of the universe, or quarks or anything material as being non-existent and modally contingent,
      I don't think thomist generally favor this ,do they? or they would first have to independently show this to be a good guide to modal metaphysics.

      (iv) we clearly search for explanation............see Van Inwagen objection. Etc.
      This is right too but still in order for us to construct a contingent conjunctive fact wouldn't we need to first explain which sort of things are contingent/necessary in the first place, so we would require resources of act/potency and essence/existence?

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    3. It is a different argument in its own form. And there is much more to be said for it than what Feser did -- and I'm sure Feser himself knows it, and in part has included the argument there to instigate people to pay more attention to it and study it more.

      You're right , but I am not saying that they are indistinguishable arguments, again maybe its not completely without use after all but still It seems A-Tist don't really have much use for it Aristotelian and Thomist proof already get the job done or if they are somehow refuted then this argument won't add much .

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    4. I enthusiastically endorse Miguel's comments on those topic.

      The PSR Cosmological Argument and its commitments are more fundamental than those of the specifically Thomist proofs. If one denies the PSR claim, that there is an explanation for say every contingent state-of-affairs holds, then one can undercut each of the Thomistic Cosmological Arguments. The relevance of the PSR to both essentially and accidentally ordered casual series was pointed out a generation later by Duns Scotus in the course of his writings on that subject (the casual series. For an excellent take on the relation between Thomist arguments and the PSR people should check out the first chapters of William Rowe's The Cosmological Argument

      But very notably it seems the Rationalist proof itself is made entirely redundant here.Further,if one finds Those two proofs objectionable then that would apply to this as well.So I am extremely puzzled by its inclusion in the book among those other proofs.

      I’d flip this round. For proving the existence of God the PSR argument is more fundamental and thus renders the other proofs redundant. However the proofs have other values i.e. solving ontological problems such as unity or uninstantiated universals

      And secondly, Ed himself finds many of Historical early modern rationalists views on the topic problematic, similarly there are some problems with proposals you make too.

      You will have to explain what those problems are or we can’t really go much further. As far as I know Ed has never attacked the PSR argument outside of the Scholastic context (once, in a lecture – on TLS? -he grants for the sake of the argument that Rationalists may have a harder job justifying certain points, but goes to qualify that he doesn’t really think that’s the case).

      These would require that the arguer provide some account of modality i.e What it means for something to be contingent/necessary or what grounds a things contingency/necessity.

      I think this is where our major disagreement lies. Your demand is too reductionist. Many philosophers take modality to be one of the fundaments of reality – one is not asked to give an explanation of necessity and contingency in terms of anything more fundamental. A necessary being is just one that exists in all possible worlds. I agree that it’s an additional bonus if we can make necessity more transparent*, but that’s different from saying we need an explanation as in some kind of necessity maker principle.

      *Plausibly, we already have multiple options for doing this anyway, for instance by appealing to Divine Simplicity (which one can do without using the language of act and potency). Of course there is another famous route for explaining Divine Necessity, as accepted by Scotus, Leibniz and Kant and the theist personalist + Pruss/Gale/Leftow crowd around the moderns, albeit it’s one that sends the old school Thomist into a frothing sophism frenzy.

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    5. I might be missing sommething but I found Ed's account of modality in the argument to be perfectly sufficient. Can't remember the page number but he argues, given the PSR, that what is contingent has an extrinsic explanation and what is necessary has an intrinsic explanation. That covers all options (again, given the truth of PSR). He's not hashing out modality in terms of possible worlds here.

      The reason the universe (or whatever) cannot be contingent in this sense is because, as he says, it has both potentiality and actuality, it is composite, and so forth. And each of these properties entails the need for some extrinsic ground or cause.

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    6. The PSR Cosmological Argument and its commitments are more fundamental than those of the specifically Thomist proofs.

      I think you need to distinguish between PSR and what you are calling PSR Cosmological Argument. And sure, PSR can be thought to ground the main intuition behind the claim that anything which is composite of act/potency or essence existence requires explanation so while PSR is fundamental to Thomist argument the Rationalist Proof isn't more fundamental.

      See here.
      If one denies the PSR claim, that there is an explanation for say every contingent state-of-affairs holds, then one can undercut each of the Thomistic Cosmological Arguments.

      To specify and generalize which state of affairs are contingent we would need to provide an account here, that is what helps us to see whether this principle holds in reality or not in the first place. To show why State of affairs of universe's existence is contingent(thus requiring an explanation) while that of God is necessary we need to explain which kinds of things are contingent and which are necessary then apply that to universe or God, here Thomists would need to allude to act/potency or essence/existence to explain that.
      In this way Aristotelian/Thomist Proof is more fundamental then Rationalist Proof, indeed they make the scope of PSR completely intelligible to us in the first place.

      I’d flip this round. For proving the existence of God the PSR argument is more fundamental and thus renders the other proofs redundant. However the proofs have other values i.e. solving ontological problems such as unity or uninstantiated universals

      Again, you need to distinguish between what you are calling PSR argument and PSR, That these other proofs are more fundamental can be seen by the way PSR is implemented in them, like I said they explain better, Rationalist proof presuppose those accounts.

      You will have to explain what those problems are or we can’t really go much further. As far as I know Ed has never attacked the PSR argument outside of the Scholastic context (once, in a lecture – on TLS? -he grants for the sake of the argument that Rationalists may have a harder job justifying certain points, but goes to qualify that he doesn’t really think that’s the case).

      I mean like He don't favor the claim that conceivability is guide to modal metaphysics or that necessary being is one whose existence can't be denied without contradiction. He says that this argument is only rationalist in the sense it relies on PSR i.e takes every being to be intelligible.

      I think this is where our major disagreement lies. Your demand is too reductionist. Many philosophers take modality to be one of the fundaments of reality – one is not asked to give an explanation of necessity and contingency in terms of anything more fundamental.

      Well I don't think philosophers who take Modality to be entirely unanalyzable primitive are that many or atleast A-Tist aren't one of them as they clearly seek to explain it. And I don't think such a view is really feasible for defender of this argument, for if we can't even analyze which features of reality make certain modal claims true, again how do we explain then why something other then God isn't necessary ?

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    7. A necessary being is just one that exists in all possible worlds. A necessary being is just one that exists in all possible worlds. I agree that it’s an additional bonus if we can make necessity more transparent*, but that’s different from saying we need an explanation as in some kind of necessity maker principle.


      a) Here it seems modal metaphysics is conflated with its semantics. While they help with conceptual analysis we can't really do realist modal metaphysics if we have no account of what features of reality makes our modal claims true i.e what makes a possible world possible, a possible world itself is just some kind of global situation that could have obtained or which but an account just what just what we mean by "could" or which feature of reality makes this so is needed. so its not particularly illuminating to just say that necessary being is the one which exists in every possible world while contingent being exist in only some.

      b) Though not all but defenders of these kinds of actualist theories of modality seek to completely do away with possible world talk , they don't want to appeal to them even for heuristic value because they find this characterization of necessity incoherent and apparently Ed( and so I believe, best brand of scholasticism) is within this camp too , see for example his chapter on the topic in Scholastic Metaphysics , he makes this point here too

      " A common procedure is to characterize the essence of a thing as the set of properties it has in every possible world, a necessary truth as one that is true in every possible world, and so forth. For A-T, this gets things backwards. It is the essence of a thing that determines what will be true of it in every possible world, not what is true of it in every world that determines its essence. In general, it is incoherent to define modal notions like necessity and possibility in terms of possible worlds, since the notion of a “possible” world itself presupposes modality."

      *Plausibly, we already have multiple options for doing this anyway, for instance by appealing to Divine Simplicity (which one can do without using the language of act and potency)
      I don't know what you mean , you mean that necessary being is just one without any parts ? then again it would be just better to run the neo-platonic proof.

      Of course there is another famous route for explaining Divine Necessity, as accepted by Scotus, Leibniz and Kant and the theist personalist + Pruss/Gale/Leftow crowd around the moderns, albeit it’s one that sends the old school Thomist into a frothing sophism frenzy.

      You mean the ontological argument? Well wouldn't running that be the shortest route to making this argument not really needed?

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    8. We do not require an understanding of alethic modality in order to understand modality in the first place. It is because we have a simple grasp of modality that we can therefore go ahead and, for example, try to explain it in Aristotelian terms. I myself subscribe to a causal aristotelian understanding of alethic modality; however, we all have a commonsensical and intuitive grasp of modal terms before we can precisely formulate and explain their basis. That's the attraction of talk of "possible worlds" -- so long as we understand that that's just a useful manner to convey common thoughts about modality. So I don't see how what you (Red) said would undermine the different arguments I put forward.

      We clearly and immediately recognize a modal difference befween propositions like "2 plus 2 equals 4" and "there is a cat on the mat". It comes natural to us and we can tell that "there is something different between these two propositions", and can then commonly elaborate it by stating that "there could've been no cat there, or the cat could be somewhere else; but there is no way 2 plus 2 does not equal 4". So all modal arguments for the contingency of the universe would apply. It is great that we can have a scholastic reading and presentation of the argument, but that is not actually necessary for it. In fact, if someone doesn't subscribe to thomistic metaphysics (and I count myself as a thomist, btw) and instead accepts another particular view of modality, the Aristotelian and Thomistic proofs may not persuade them, but the Leibnizian argument can still do it.

      Leibnizian cosmological arguments are personally my favorite cosmological arguments, because they get to the point (all they need is some form of PSR; there is no need for a distinction between essentially ordered or accidentally ordered series of causes as in the thomistic arguments, and no need for a beginning of the universe like the Kalam) and also enjoy strong intuitive support (why does anything at all -- this universe we live in -- exist? It's a pressing question that confronts almost everyone, more so than the fact of motion or causality; why is there ANYTHING at all?). They have much to their advantage. However, I still think the Aristotelian and Thomistic arguments are strong and sound. I also think the Kalam is sound (contrary to Aquinas). But I just so happen to think Leibnizian/rationalist arguments from PSR are just so simple and so "straight to the point" that they're the best of them all.

      As far as the ontological argument goes, I have no opinion on it. But I've started to find it more and more persuasive each day. At any rate, however, I think a Scotist cosmological argument, or the Gale-Pruss which proceeds solely from the possibility of a cause/explanation for contingent facts, to be more convincing.

      There are no useless plausible arguments. They may appeal to different people by starting from different premises... Otherwise Aquinas could've just stopped at the first way and not bothered with the other ones

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    9. Miguel could you briefly outline the Scotus cosmological argument? Is it something along the lines of any potentiality must be grounded in something actual?

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    10. And to be clear, I think the metaphysics of act and potency is pretty much evident. But, although it is evident, it requires us to engage in more philosophical reflection and thinking than the human -- pretty much natural -- drive to seek explanations for why there are things and facts that could've been different (or failed to exist).

      A good indication that this is the case can be found in the fact that it took Aristotle to finally formulate and explain the metaphysics of being and change in a good manner. The ones before him, however, may not have understood act and potency, but they were certainly looking for an explanation or first principle of the existence of contingent things. Parmenides denied change and affirmed a static being, but he was nevertheless inquiring why there was something rather than nothing.

      Act/potency and thomistic metaphysics in general might greatly elucidate the idea of contingency, but they're not strictly necessary for us to grasp contingency, talk about, and seek an explanation for it -- which is at the heart of the rationalist proofs for God's existence.

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    11. Scotus's argument is enormous, and it can be seen as some kind of mixture between cosmological and ontological arguments. Taking the cosmological part of the argument, it proceeds in a similar manner to Aquinas's in that he argues for the impossibility of an essentially ordered series of causes.

      However, the crucial difference is that Scotus's argument has a modal element to it. Scotus does not start by the homely fact that there are things in the world that are caused. Rather, he merely starts from the much weaker premiss that "it is possible that there are caused natures". So, it would be possible for things to be caused. Scotus takes this to be logically necessary (especially since change implies natures can be changed); we might say that it is a very restricted and modest principle of sufficient reason. And as the argument goes, because it is possible for things to be caused, it follows that it is possible that there are causes, and because it is impossible for there to be an infinite series of accidentally ordered causes, we ultimately conclude that it is possible that there is a first causal agent that is not dependent on anything else -- and from that it eventually follows that there actually is such a first agent cause.

      It's like a thomistic cosmological argument, in a way, but with a modal character that turns it from a posteriori into a priori.

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    12. And this is why I take it to be more effective than an ontological argument, because while the OA may be rejected by some as "proving God merely by the idea of His nature", Scotus's argument is, I think, more difficult to deny, as it concludes that a first cause is *possible*, because it's possible that contingent things are caused (very weak principle of causality). But if we realize that it's possible that a first cause exists, then it follows that a first cause -- being the necessary being that it is -- exists.

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    13. Poe, knock it off.

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    14. Miguel, What you say is mostly correct but it doesn't show that argument need no understanding no understanding of alethic modality in the first place because while we might have many justified modal intuitions , they might be necessary for our practical rationality etc but they will only get you so far. The cases that are most relevant to the cosmological argument aren't mainly about what we intuitively grasp and can expect every rational person to do the same, like we don't intuitively know that nothing physical can be necessary not even all that stuff that most fundamental science postulates, nothing other than God of Classical Theism can be ultimate explanation not even some other special supernatural being, the reason why he is unique, the reason why God's existence is not like that of cat and hence like that of numbers etc. these thing aren't intuitive in the sense the cases you discuss in your post are. So this requires reference to act/potency , essence/existence, this way as I said those two proofs seem more fundamental and important then Rationalist proof.

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    15. Miguel, are you discussing this proof.

      https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/duns-scotus/#ProExiGod

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/scotus/#H6

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    16. Red October 18, 2017 at 8:06 AM

      Miguel, are you discussing this proof.
      https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/duns-scotus/#ProExiGod

      (1) No effect can produce itself.***If motion of an object is considered an effect then inertia of an object in uniform motion contradicts this premise.
      (2) No effect can be produced by just nothing at all.***That seems reasonable although proponents of a purely stochastic interpretation of QM would disagree.
      (3) A circle of causes is impossible.***This is clearly false, for example, a sealed bottle of gas will retain its pressure indefinitely because there is no such thing as friction at the atomic level. Every molecule of gas in the bottle just keeps bouncing off each other without an upper bound in a system of causation that is fundamentally circular.
      (4) Therefore, an effect must be produced by something else. (from 1, 2, and 3)***Since 1,2,and 3 fail to all be true 4 does not follow.
      (5) There is no infinite regress in an essentially ordered series of causes.***The notion of a distinction between an essentially ordered versus accidentally ordered series is illusory. Every series is "accidental".

      The Aristotelian 4 "causes" as well as the notions of "essential" versus "accidental" causation are all absent from modern science. These are obsolete, false, irrelevant, irrational, and long discarded into utter disuse by modern science.

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    17. Red,

      I agree with your point at least with regard to how the typical PSR cosmological argument is formulated. However, I have been playing with this idea;

      I find the PSR absolutely neccessary in order to buy large parts of the Scholastic scheme and am undecided as to how strongly ot can be argued for but if you look at the Augustinian proof, the rationalist proof and James Ross' immateriality argument I believe they all reinforce each other.

      Take the Augustinian proof, take the neccessary mathematical propositions. If we accept Aristotelian realism, the atheist could argue that abstract arguments ultimately depend on the material world. When finite minds that abstract didn't exist, such necessary truths must then be anchored in the material world.

      1/2

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    18. Red,

      Continued. . . .

      So given the necessary truths of maths and realism, whatever anchors these abstract objects must be neccessary. If Aristotelian realism, only options are material world or minds. The atheist could plausibly argue for the material world ultimately grounding neccessary truths of maths in my opinion (if they can't a neccessary mind is the only option).

      This now seems to entail the PSR. Regardless of whether you ground maths in the world or in a mind, we are left with a neccessary explanation.

      However, if we grant the PSR, the principle of proportionate causality follows much stronger than ~PSR. Given Ross' immateriality argument and the PPC, the neccessary explanation will have intellect.

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    19. Red,

      I think Feser's argument for the PSR from a regress of laws tightens the grip. If we take a humean theory of laws, then you cannot help yourself to some explanations at some level but then punt for an inexplicable brute fact ultimately. You could of course reject the humean account but the platonic laws dont help (as Feser and Cartwright have strongly argued) the athiest. Ive long felt the best option for an atheist is to take the powers account for laws which is essentially Aristotelian. This makes the material world more fundamental than the laws of physics and would push the atheist towards an Aristotelian realism concerning universals. Which then puts him in a dilemma. Neccessary material world or mind? Chose material world? Ok but that rules out brute fact and entails PSR, which entails PPC etc. Its basically an elaborate form of what John Haldane has mentioned to Nagel or what John Locke attempted to do.

      Delete
    20. Red,

      It *does* show that we don't need an account of alethic modality in order to recognize that there IS such a thing as modality, and that we use it and depend on it. It's intuitive, but it's more than intuitive, it is clear. We don't have to understand what something is in order to know that it exists or is the case.

      Likewise, we don't have to understand what it is that makes a contingent fact contingent instead of necessary, in order to know that it is a contingent fact. We don't have to understand exactly what grounds the alethic modality involved in (S1) "there is a banana in my pocket" in order to realize that it is a very different type of proposition from (S2) "2 plus 2 equals 4". Indeed, we can even do as I did in my earlier discussion with Starfuck and point out that when investigating S1 we can assume and conceive of finding explanations that involve more than just semantics and logical equivalence. It is a real difference and it shows that S1 is different from S2, and we don't need to understand alethic modality by act/potency in order to recognize this.

      What this also shows is that there are different accounts of alethic modality. And indeed there are. There are people like David Lewis who will actually believe and argue alethic modality to be based in real possible worlds. There are many people who believe alethic modality is grounded in specific understandings of logical coherence, and so on. And the Leibnizian cosmological argument would STILL work for them, because that's one of the LCA's main strengths: it is easily adaptable to many different views, all that it requires is some form of PSR and contingency. And we don't need to understand what grounds contingency in order to know that there IS contingency and there IS a difference between "there is a banana in my pocket", "Stardusty just wrote a bunch of dumb shit right now", and "2 plus 2 equals 4".

      A LCA can be as simple as this: there are facts for which we seek explanations that go beyond semantics and logical equivalence (let's call it category C). But given PSR, all such facts have to be explained. If we take the conjunctive fact of these facts and apply PSR to it, or ask for an explanation for the existence of the beings involved in these facts, adopting PSR, we will have to conclude the existence of a being Y whose existence is necessary and could not be further explained in the same manner as these other beings are, Y's existence being understood in a fact similar to those such as "2 plus 2 equals 4" (call these "necessary propositions" L). But considering that Y explains the existence of all the common beings included in category C facts, Y must somehow be an agent, because if it were a scientific or conceptual explanans there would be no way for the conjunct of C to actually both be C AND explained by Y (Van Inwagen's objection and the defense that the only way to get a contingent effect from a necessary cause is plausibly through something like agential action and nothing like a scientific or conceptual explanation, etc).

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    21. @Miguel


      About the Scotistic cosmological argument, I thought the argument was about accounting for the existence of logical possibilities, and this combined with the principle that all possibilities only exist insofar as they are grounded in some sort of reality gives you the conlusion that there must be something logically necessary that grounds all possibilities and can also actualise them and is also an intellect because of the way it contains those possibilities.

      I guess the argument I rephrased above is different from Scotus's then?

      Also, abozt the PSR; does the PSR require the principle of causality to be true, or is this also an advantage of the Leibnizian cosmological arguments because tgey don't even require a PC?

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    22. JoeD,

      PSR doesn't depend or require the PC on anyway. In fact the PSR seems to entail PC

      Delete
    23. @Callum


      Wait, so if the PC were false and we actually had violations of it, the PSR would still be true and the Leibnizian argument would still follow? Or is this a case where if you deny what follows from something (i.e. PC), you also have to deny what it follows from (the PSR)?

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    24. I'd say PSR entails PC and as such, if PC is false then PSR is also false. For if PSR is "every contingent fact has an explanation", and PC is "every contingent being has a cause of its existence" or "every potential that becomes actual is actualized by something else", then if we have a violation of PC, like a contingent being without a cause, then we will have a brute fact -- that is, the existence of that contingent being is unexplained.

      In this sense, PSR is a stronger principle than PC, and an advantage of thomistic cosmological arguments is that they require a weaker PC. And by comparison, a Kalam cosmological argument requires an *even weaker* PC, which is that everything that begins to exist has a cause. However, the Kalam requires us to prove that the universe began to exist; the thomistic arguments require more metaphysical furnishing and a distinction between essentially and accidentally ordered series of causes. The Leibnizian, however, has no such requirements, all it needs is PSR and any kind of contingency/thing to apply PSR to. Because of this, I think LCA has an advantage over other cosmological arguments -- even more so because most arguments that someone can give for a PC can also be given for PSR, so if someone accepts PC then it's likely that they would accept PSR as well. There are also some specific arguments that seem to work better for PSR than for PC (Della Rocca's argument, for example).

      LCAs can be adapted even more, though. For example, we can limit PSR to beings instead of facts -- turning it into some kind of PC -- and, considering the universe as some sort of being, it'd require an explanation. That would be Stephen Davis's argument, which is also defended by William Lane Craig.

      We can also defend a PC that is applicable to causal chains (see Pruss's "Leibnizian Cosmological Arguments", it's actually not hard to derive this kind of PC from a normal PC) and then get to the existence of a necessary being.

      However, as I said, most arguments that apply for PC would also apply for PSR, and PSR has some exclusive arguments for itself as well. Common objections against PC (quantum mechanics objections, for example) seem to fare even worse against PSR. I think the only reason I could see someone denying PSR but accepting PC is if they somehow think Van Inwagen's argument against PSR is strong enough to justify rejecting it. But I think that argument is quite weak, as it assumes both that necessary explanans must determine their explanandum, and that there can be no self-explained contingent facts such as those we could conceive of some free actions (just an example).

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    25. Thinking back now, I am actually not completely sure that if PC is false then PSR must also be so. Because perhaps even if a contingent being has no cause for its existence, it could be that its existence is still somehow explained by something (a law, perhaps?), even if that something is not itself a "cause". That's why QM objections seem even worse against PSR, because even if someone denies that some quantum events have causes, pretty much no one would deny that they nonetheless have explanations, and are explained by the conditions in which they occur etc.

      And PSR can also be used for thomistic arguments, because what would explain the actualization of a potency would also have to be something actual, for example.

      Then, perhaps, even if PC were false it could still be that PSR would be true and LCAs follow.

      The problem is that it seems very plausible that the existence of a contingent being needs something like a "cause" for it to be explained, so PSR seems to entail PC in that manner. And most people who accept PSR will also naturally accept PC anyway.

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    26. @Miguel


      Interesting, so there really is a possibility that PC could be false, and PSR could still be true and do the work of showing God's existence.

      In fact, I think that one thing that works in favour of the idea that theism could be true even if PC is false is the fact that we could make an argument for God's existence simply from the possibility that a thing could stop existing.

      Basically, even if there were a contingent thing whose existence was uncaused, it is still possible the thing could stop existing, and since all possibilities are only real insofar as there is a reality out there that grounds them, there must be a reality out there that itself cannot have the possibility of not existing ( since infinite regress is impossible there) and must also have the ability to act on contingent reality, and by extension must also contain all other logical possibilities within itself that it could actualise and contain them in such a way that it also has intellect.

      However, one thing about the above argument is that it seems to implicitly accept the idea that a possibility could not actualise itself, which is basically the PC, but one way around this would to accept that a possibility could become a reality itself, but it must still be grounded in a higher reality by definition of being a possibility, and also that this higher reality could also actualise it as well.

      But I'm still not sure about the validity of this argument.

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    27. Sorry for the late response,

      Miguel,

      But again the cases you discuss don't necessarily extend to everywhere or to cases that are near the argument,

      A committed naturalist tries to question even our most deep seated intuitions, whether they track reality at all.

      Even apart from that it seems hardly plausible to think that we are blessed with such remarkable innate modal knowledge, that we can tell correctly modal status of any proposition just by contemplating it. There are complicated cases all around, like how can we tell whether principle of Relativity is contingent or necessary?, or whether speed of light is necessarily what it is or not?,is correct theory of time metaphysically necessary?,what about QM?, consider further that many philosophers believe that there are contingent apriori truths.

      Simply trusting our intuitions in these problem cases isn't much plausible, It requires some extreme Rationalism that hardly anyone would grant.

      (I think your discussion with SDP is of different sort, He is failing to understand how a self explanatory being is different from brute fact and you are trying to explain that.)

      About your discussion of Van Inwagen Objection, couldn't a critic of LCA pick out any indeterministically explaining being?

      Callum,

      What you say might be right, discussing it would require general discussion of Augustinian Proof,laws or Ross's argument.
      Again I am not saying that PSR isn't necessary for Scholastic Philosophy. My point is about this Rationalist proof. What I am saying is that given that the other aspects of Scholastic Philosophy is already more basic then any modal notion like Contingency/necessity which the Rationalist proof deals with, this proof turns out to be more like an argumentative fifth wheel on its own when presented along with those other arguments.

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    28. Red,

      You needn't be able to intuitively grasp the modal status of "any" proposition; you only need to be able to grasp a modal difference between some different types of facts, like the examples I provided. And that is not controversial at all, and indeed seems pretty basic -- and philosophers were discussing such modal issues and seeking explanations for contingency since before Aristotle came up with the act/potency distinction, as I mentioned.

      But I also don't think it's hard to intuitively grasp that "the universe exists" would be something like a contingent fact; certainly, most philosophers, naturalists or not, seem to shun necessitarianism -- hence why the Van Inwagen objection is so popular. And there are other arguments for it, anyway.

      As for the "indeterministically explaining being", perhaps one could try that, but it is hard to see how one could make sense of some kind of necessarily-existing mechanism that naturally and indeterministically causes contingent beings. It also doesn't seem to be able to be an ultimate explanation if it were to be some sort of scientific explanation, as it would call for an explanation of its own laws and operations. But then the problem pops up again and we need a new explanans. The only working explanation seems to be an agential, free cause. We could also bring forth other arguments to close the "gap" between necessary being and God, such as teleological arguments, ourselves, etc. In fact, we could even bring thomistic arguments here, as Aquinas has some independent arguments for God's attributes which do not depend on the Five Ways in particular. There is, again, a host of possible arguments and moves to make; the LCA is just very versatile.

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  9. Proof that God brings good out of evil...........

    SDP may be the sort who lurks under bridges for the three billy goats gruff, but he has inspired me to take up physics again after 13 years of neglect. As a consequence my Fiance is delighted that I'm actually taking an interest in her work.

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    Replies
    1. Just another mad Catholic October 16, 2017 at 6:39 AM

      "SDP may be the sort who lurks under bridges for the three billy goats gruff, but he has inspired me to take up physics again after 13 years of neglect. As a consequence my Fiance is delighted that I'm actually taking an interest in her work.

      --Interesting. Maybe you two can discuss how conservation of mass/energy negates A-T claims for a first changer to account for continued existence.

      (from
      Stardusty Psyche October 17, 2017 at 8:42 PM)

      --Feser, like A-T, is incompatible with conservation of mass/energy and inertia. His protestations to the contrary are strawmen.

      A-T claims a first mover is called for to account for the continued existence of material objects. A-T claims the first mover is more generally the first changer, called for by a regress in the present that is said to be impossible to proceed to infinity.

      In truth is that A-T view is anti-scientific, anti-physics, and completely irrational.

      When things stay the same they do not change. That should be obvious.

      No change calls for no changer. If a thing is not changing there is no call for any series of changers at all, much less a long series of changers with a consideration of an impossible infinite regression. The actual regression is zero, no regression at all.

      To persist in existence is no change. This is expressed in physics as the conservation of mass/energy.

      If a thing were to suddenly disappear from existence that would be a change calling for a changer, and also a violation of physics, the conservation of mass/energy.

      ...Feser, Aquinas, and Aristotle all have it backwards. Physics contradicts them all.

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    2. Please, SP, keep spouting nonsense and strengthening our faith!

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    3. Good one anonymous, if SDP had actually read Ed's work he'd have ralied that he's the one shooting at strawmen (although to be charitable he probably doesn't realise the parminadian hole into which he's painted himself).

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  10. The interview was mostly a bust:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIaCgAaw2RQ&list=PLwoiLtP0cvN9rlkP4BCpgXw0s9wew_7lD&index=54

    Shapiro at least got into some details of the arguments. Prager drifted around, mostly promoting himself, displaying gross ignorance.

    Here are a few comments:

    Feser in response to the problem of evil 25:30
    "god intends to draw out (of evil) a greater good than otherwise would have been attainable"
    --This is an incoherent argument on an omniscient god. Apparently god does not have all logically possible powers, rather, he is constrained to create evil in order to produce good in the afterlife because he is incapable of producing that good without first creating evil. The creation of evil is not a logical necessity, only an admission of the powerlessness of god.

    Prager26:10
    "My inner stability is dependent on belief in an afterlife...else it would overwhelm me"
    --Prager is a weak minded fool. He is incapable of dealing with the reality of suffering without fantasizing about an afterlife.

    Prager27:00
    "(belief in a non-biblical god) is no different than atheism."
    --Here Prager exposes even further his unbridled ignorance.

    Prager 27:40
    "I think complainers should be shot"
    --Yes, that is a direct quote.

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    1. Obvious troll is obvious.

      Delete
    2. Edward Feser argues that certain goods or moral virtues actually depend upon certain evils. For example, engaging in the virtues of mercy or forgiveness logically presuppose certain evil acts.

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    3. "Here are a few comments"

      Nobody cares, be gone troll.

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  11. Anonymous October 18, 2017 at 11:15 AM

    "Edward Feser argues that certain goods or moral virtues actually depend upon certain evils. For example, engaging in the virtues of mercy or forgiveness logically presuppose certain evil acts."
    --Ok, if comforting concentration camp survivors is good then to get that good we must have concentration camps. How is comforting concentration camp survivors in combination with the effects of the concentration camp a greater good than not having the concentration camp in the first place?

    Did you ever see this old Peanuts comic?:
    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/13/3c/4f/133c4f44cdb7753d72a6ad0f5a38cbf7.jpg


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    1. You know, it's probably best to actually read the philosophical literature, especially from a theist perspective, on the problem of evil before you simply dismiss scholars like Edward Feser.

      It's easy to turn the question around: Why would it be a lesser good? Prove that.

      Since it is a logical requirement that a certain amount of evil is required for some goods, your initial argument was simply erroneous. Now you're moving into a probabilistic argument, not some ironclad deduction.

      Argumentation will reach a standstill here without resort to independent reasons for believing or disbelieving in God. (And if you read Dr. Feser before criticizing him, you would know he argues along these lines.) You believe, it seems, nothing good can overcome, or come about via, certain very bad evils. Yet, hypothetically, and taking into account that certain goods require certain evils, if God exists, there's no logical contradiction in a qualitatively greater good existing, from an infinite being, and harnessing and drawing from evils.

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    2. Anonymous October 18, 2017 at 4:20 PM

      "It's easy to turn the question around: Why would it be a lesser good? Prove that."
      --Seriously? You suppose it is better that masses of people suffer and die so that a few people can comfort a few survivors? You are very apparently oblivious to the suffering of others when it is inflicted by your god.

      " Yet, hypothetically, and taking into account that certain goods require certain evils, if God exists, there's no logical contradiction in a qualitatively greater good existing, from an infinite being, and harnessing and drawing from evils."
      --The contradiction arises from the assertion of an infinite being. If that being is truly infinite he can devise means to instill whatever lessons or sensibilities or perceptions he thinks are so wonderful without inflicting evil and suffering.

      Your assertion of his need to inflict suffering to provide the knowledge or sensibilities he wishes to create only shows he is not both infinite and all good.

      But the main thrust of the 5 proofs book is not the POE, because theists do not use evil to "prove" the existence of god, rather, they have apologetics to defend against the incoherence of simultaneously asserting an infinite, all powerful and all good god in a world overflowing with manifest evil.

      You admire Feser and falsely suppose I have not read him, or others.

      Central to the A-T claims of a proof for god is Feser's claim of the need for a first mover to account for continued existence of the material in the present moment.

      The first mover, according to Feser, is a first changer. Feser fails to grasp the simple and obvious fact that to continue to exist is no change. If X exists now, and X exists later then X has stayed the same. In modern science this is expressed as the conservation of mass/energy.

      A thing that continues to exist does not change, and thus there is no changer called for at all to explain continued existence, much less a consideration of a regress of changes terminating in a first changer.

      Feser claims that a first changer is changing things, which in turn change things which in turn change things, all in the present moment, such that X is changed to continue to exist.

      Feser has failed to grasp what is well known in science and is thus profoundly in conflict with modern science, and reason itself in this assertion because there is no changer called for at all to account for persistence of existence, which is no change.

      If X ceases to exist that would be a change calling for a changer. So A-T and Feser have it back to front, and thus are diametrically opposed to modern science and clear reasoning.

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    3. Speaking of being presumptuous, you have no idea of my religious beliefs.

      Edward Feser addresses the problem of evil in his new book, and in a way that you’re obviously ignorant of based on your remarks.

      You have additionally changed the subject!! Come on man, the problem of evil is a separate issue from the prime mover argument. Why in the world are you arguing the latter with me. You’re ridiculous. You come across as some ideologue, not a man who wants to have an earnest philosophical discussion.

      Furthermore, you have little imagination of the counter-arguments. The issue is both wider and more complex than just about peopling having mercy or forgiveness on others. That was ONE example of a virtue that required evils. So, no, I DON’T think your example is just about having a few people learning to conform others resolves it. But you also are just repeating an argument I already shown to be incorrect. Just repeating the initial argument is not a reply to what I said, e.g., some virtues logically presuppose some vices and, thus, even God’s infinite nature couldn’t have such virtues develop without which they logically presuppose. The contradiction doesn’t arise if that is the case.

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    4. https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-oE4-EuQS85k/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAAABI/yu6FyWQkEws/s35-c/photo.jpg

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    5. Anonymous October 18, 2017 at 5:52 PM

      "You have additionally changed the subject!!"
      --The subject of the OP is Five Proofs with Prager et al. (UPDATED)

      Feser has purported to have put forth 5 "proofs" of the existence of god. Central to those "proofs" are A-T arguments.

      Central to A-T arguments is the First Way. The core argument of the First Way is that of a first changer. Central to the argument for a first changer is the notion of an ontological first changer in the present moment that is the cause for continued material existence.

      Other subjects are interesting but I am simply focusing on the core of the OP.

      Continued existence is no change and therefore calls for no changer.

      Feser has entirely failed to grasp what is glaringly scientifically and rationally apparent.

      There is no call for any changer at all to account for continued material existence. How is that not starkly obvious to you, Feser, and every reader here?

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    6. sdp

      You have simply failed to grasp the type of change that St Thomas and Dr Feser are talking about. Primarily we are talking about matter taking on different properties e.g. let's say I have a rectangular bar (prism) of Gold which weighs 100 grams; it has certain properties which are both substantial and accidental, the substance of gold is a metal with an atomic number of 79, from that substance comes its properties e.g. colour, conductivity (good) etc. Its accidental properties in the case of the bar will be right angles, 6 sides, 12 edges etc. You can use mathematical formulas to describe its volume, Weight, Mass and Density.

      Now let's say that I melt down that prism and pour the gold into 10 identical sphere shaped moulds each weighing 10 grams and leave it to cool until the gold is solid once again. The matter has persisted through the change, but the form or accidental properties have changed as the form of the sphere is different from the form of the prism, additionally what was one has been divided into 10.

      When Dr Feser for example talks of a tree going out of existence, he isn't saying that the matter goes out of existence, rather it will take on a different form or essence e.g. the tree cut down and converted into wood chippings, the cow which goes out of existence when it is slaughtered and its meat (matter) served up as a rump steak.
      This would be evident to anyone who has read one of Dr Feser's blog posts on the Prime Mover, let alone his books.

      If any of my fellow Thomists can think of ways to improve the example, please feel free to jump in.


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    7. I say this only for the benefit of a current (or future) reader of this comment section: SP is raising an erroneous objection to the First Way (argument from change etc.) For while the argument begins by noting the reality if change, it moves on to more fundamental actualization of potentiality, beyond mere change.

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    8. Just another mad Catholic October 18, 2017 at 8:53 PM

      sdp

      "You have simply failed to grasp the type of change that St Thomas and Dr Feser are talking about."
      --Here are words of Feser:
      "When he argues there that there must be a First Cause, he doesn’t mean “first” in the order of events extending backwards into the past. What he means is that there must be a most fundamental cause of things which keeps them in existence at every moment, whether or not the series of moments extends backwards into the past without a beginning."
      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-think-you-understand.html

      The first way is an argument from motion. It begins with the statement "The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion."

      Feser will tell you that "motion" means more generally "change". Therefore a first mover is a first changer.

      A cause is an account for a change, be it a change of mass/energy, a change of color, a change of shape, a change of temperature.

      To persist in existence without any sort of change is not a change. That statement has the truth of a tautology. When things stay the same then things don't change.

      When things don't change we don't need to identify a changer.

      If a thing ceased to exist that would be a change and would call for a changer.

      Feser has it back to front.

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    9. Jason October 19, 2017 at 2:39 AM

      " SP is raising an erroneous objection to the First Way (argument from change etc.) For while the argument begins by noting the reality if change, it moves on to more fundamental actualization of potentiality, beyond mere change."
      --In A-T terminology a change is an actualization of a potential. When a potential is actualized that is a change.

      What do you mean by "mere change" as opposed to "actualization of a potential"?

      Change is, in A-T terminology, actualization of a potential. What distinction are you making?

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    10. SDP I look forward to you telling me how the imprint of a crucifix in the blue tack on my desk conjured itself out of nothing, how the trousers of one of my undergrad students manged to to get themselves wet this morning and how the paint in my studio is applying itself to the plaster statue of the Blessed Virgin.

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    11. I think Thomas' first two Ways really collapse into the Third, i.e. into an argument from contingency. And I don't have quotations from Feser to hand at the moment, but I find that in his discussions of Thomas' argument from motion and from efficient cause (the first two Ways), Feser will reach a point where he starts talking about the conservation in existence of the things that undergo change. So I get the impression the rub is really arguments from contingency and necessity of existence.

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    12. Just another mad Catholic October 19, 2017 at 6:46 AM

      "SDP I look forward to you telling me how the imprint of a crucifix in the blue tack on my desk conjured itself out of nothing,"
      --Not my claim.

      " how the trousers of one of my undergrad students manged to to get themselves wet this morning"
      --Indeed, now you bring up time. Such things happen over time.

      " and how the paint in my studio is applying itself to the plaster statue of the Blessed Virgin. "
      --Again, you describe a temporal process, which is reasonable. One would think that an argument from motion would be a temporal argument, since motion necessarily occurs over time, one motion causes another motion etc., so an analysis of a causal series of motions is necessarily an analysis of a temporal regress. Makes sense to me.

      But that is not what Feser says.

      Feser says the argument of the First Way is not an argument from a temporal regress and is not similar to the Kalam cosmological argument.

      Feser says Aquinas meant a regression of causes in this present moment, such that a first changer is required to maintain material existence moment to moment, and without that first changer material existence would cease to exist in this moment.

      Conservation of mass/energy is diametrically opposed to this A-T view expressed by Feser.

      To persist in existence is no change and calls for no changer under conservation of mass/energy. To cease to exist is a change and calls for a changer under conservation of mass/energy.

      Feser's account of A-T is diametrically opposed to conservation of mass/energy and even basic reasonable language.

      Delete
    13. ficino4ml October 19, 2017 at 6:47 AM

      " So I get the impression the rub is really arguments from contingency and necessity of existence."
      --The 3rd way seems reasonable in a common sense manner but suffers from several defects.

      "Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. "
      --This assumes everything that could not be would not be at the same time. Aquinas does not address the consideration that everything can not be but somethings are not at one time and other things are not at a different time, so at all times there is something even though everything can not be.

      "Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing."
      --This begs the question of whether something can come from nothing. The "because" construct is an inverse word ordering compared to the "therefore" sentence structure. Aquinas uses the "because" structure frequently such that begging the question is less easily recognized.

      In the "therefore" structure the logical antecedent appears in the sentence before the consequent.

      In the "because" structure the logical antecedent appears in the sentence after the consequent.

      Rewording we get
      **that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing**therefore**even now there would be nothing in existence**
      So, Aquinas does not prove that something cannot come from nothing, he merely asserts it.

      But, still, it seems reasonable that indeed, something cannot come from nothing, and given that assertion, it seems reasonable that some original necessary thing gives rise to subsequent necessary things, as Aquinas states: "Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity."

      The last line suffers from the glaring defects of being an ad-hoc assertion, a false assertion, a false dichotomy, a non-sequitur, and thus an invalid and incomplete argument for the existence of god.

      "This all men speak of as God"
      I am among all men and I do not speak of this as god so Aquinas is simply wrong as a modern argument for the existence of god.

      Worse, even if the statement were literally true in his day it would be a non-sequitur to go from what men speak of to what actually exists.

      Real existence is not a necessary consequence of the speech of men. Men speak of many things that have no real existence.

      Thus Aquinas makes no logical argument for the existence of god, only for the existence of a necessary thing that causes in others their necessity.

      I speak of this as fundamental physics.

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    14. "This assumes everything that could not be would not be at the same time. Aquinas does not address the consideration that everything can not be but somethings are not at one time and other things are not at a different time, so at all times there is something even though everything can not be".

      Feser has already addressed that in his blog and his book Aquinas. In fact, the rest of your comment makes me think you haven't read any of Feser's work insofar as you seem to take Thomas' pithy and short description of the Third Way as an actual outline of the argument. What is central to the argument is a hylomorphic theory of substances.

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    15. SDP

      by your replies you show rank ignorance of AT philosophy that you claim to have 'studied'

      - The Blue tack's potency to receive new form was actualised by the crucifix.

      - My undergrad's trousers were wet from the storm he'd been caught up in

      - and it is principle impossible for the paint to leave the pot and attach itself to the Statue of the Blessed Virgin without the brush (or some other agent) transporting it.

      These are all examples of the fact that potencies cannot actualise themselves, which is the first stage of the argument. You failed to interact with the examples I gave earlier about hylemorphism and the fact that the matter persists through the change (although I thought your objection based on mass energy conservation was a novel one).

      You also don't seem to realise that the Scholastics here tolerate your presence only because your trolling objections expose the ridicule of your position for all to see. You claim to have 'studied the AT theory of change' but your comments expose that either you haven't or that you simply don't understand it.

      I could understand the latter, as even I who has studied this for years (albeit part time when I've had the chance) consistently realise that I've got parts of the philosophy wrong e.g. I mistook the AT notion of teleology for the Palean kind for YEARS!

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    16. Just another mad Catholic October 20, 2017 at 8:38 AM

      "- My undergrad's trousers were wet from the storm he'd been caught up in "
      --Which was a temporal process, not "essential" and calls for no first mover.

      Every example ever provided by any proponent of A-T of a supposedly "essential" causal series of motions always turns out to be "accidental" upon closer analysis.

      There is no such thing as an "essential" causal series of motions.

      "You failed to interact with the examples I gave earlier about hylemorphism"
      --Ok, I appreciate you coming back to a subject I might have skipped. My posts get long sometimes so I don't address every point.

      Considering hylomorphism, matter and form, there is no call for a first mover in continued existence.

      Continued existence of matter is no change and thus calls for no changer. This is expressed in modern science as the conservation of mass/energy.

      Continued existence of form is no change and thus calls for no changer. Using the word "cause" more generally as "explanation" there is a call for study of form.

      To study form humans employ abstractions in building models, such as object, molecule, atom, particle, fundamental physics (whatever that turns out to be).

      The terminus of the regress of abstractions is fundamental physics. This is not a regress of motions, or a regress of cause and effect in the present moment, rather it is a regress of abstractions with a finite terminus that calls for no first changer, no first mover, and no first cause.

      "You claim to have 'studied the AT theory of change' but your comments expose that either you haven't or that you simply don't understand it. "
      --I understand that A-T is a long obsolete and scientifically discarded conceptual framework filled with errors that render it a hindrance to the progress of human knowledge.

      "I mistook the AT notion of teleology for the Palean kind for YEARS!"
      --Ok, then you may wish to study the illusory nature of an "essential" causal series. When you come to understand that there is no such thing then you will be well on your way to identifying other defects in the five ways of Aquinas.

      Since your fiance is pleased by your taking an interest in her work perhaps you might wish to discuss causation in modern physics with her, in particular which is a change, the persistence of matter, or the disappearance of matter? Does a crystal change by maintaining its shape or by suddenly falling to an amorphous pile of stuff?

      What accounts for the form of a crystal? How many layers of abstraction are known at this time? Do physicists suppose that there is some final layer of structure that could, in principle, be described with a final layer of abstraction?

      Are physicists looking for a divine first mover that holds up, as it were, the matter and the form of every particle in the universe from moment to moment? Should they be if they were truly wise?

      Delete
    17. ............ yet again you fail to understand the point, the point is that the trousers could not 'get wet' themselves, the blue tack could not receive the form of the crucifix (or any other form) by itself, and thus requires the potency to be actualised by something outside itself to change e.g. the trousers were wet from the storm, but could have just easily gotten wet from spilled orange juice, soda etc etc. which is the first stage of the argument.

      May I ask if you deny the existence of change (as you seem to do), how do you account for the change we see in the world around us? Are you a parminadian monist who says that change is an illusion? In which case how do you account for Dr Feser's mind coming to accept the argument from motion, the changes in people's beliefs in general, or the fact that blue tack which previously did not contain the imprint of a crucifix now does?

      As for the crystal, the matter (be that quartz, carbon, Gallium) the form (at least as it is instantiated in a particular example) will disappear once an outside influence changes the properties of the matter, however the form remains in the mind as the mind has abstracted the universal or form from the particular examples. If you are a nominalist who denies the reality of essences then I would suggest that you stop doing science as science entails realism which inevitably leads to God.

      As for physicists, that will depend largely on the metaphysical and philosophical presuppositions of the physicist in question. Clara along with Dr Stephen Barr, Fr Pinsent and Fr Heller (in the tradition of Newton, Faraday, Maxwell etc) see themselves as discovering the 'how' of God ordered the workings of the world, and the likes of Krauss, Hawking, Velenkin are not. Both are looking at how the world works but the methodological naturalism of the latter does not entail metaphysical naturalism. Now the discoveries of physical science CAN be used to support religiously neutral premises that are used in a philosophical argument for the existence of God but that's not the issue.

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    18. Just another mad Catholic October 20, 2017 at 12:30 PM

      " the point is that the trousers could not 'get wet' themselves, the blue tack could not receive the form of the crucifix (or any other form) by itself"
      --Right, which is a temporal regress or "accidental" series. To ask what caused something we consider a temporal regress, not an "essential" series.

      Wet trousers do not demonstrate a first mover.

      "May I ask if you deny the existence of change (as you seem to do)"
      --To persist in existence is not a change. Feser says A-T says a first mover or first changer is called for in the present moment to account for continued existence of things.

      In truth the mere continued existence of things is no change and calls for no changer.

      But change does occur, necessarily over time. No change occurs in zero time. All change is a temporal or "accidental" causal process.

      A-T in its assertion of a first changer to account for persistence of existence is the opposite of science and completely incompatible with science and against elementary reasoning. Insisting upon a changer to account for no change is nonsensical.

      Denial of the temporal nature of all change is nonsensical as well. Since all change is temporal then to account for change we must necessarily use a temporal regress analysis, not a present moment analysis.

      Form (structure, arrangement) need not in principle be temporal although in reality even a seemingly static form is continuously changing in small details at the atomic level.

      But just supposing in the idealized case that form is static then we can apply a hierarchical analysis in the present moment to form, which terminates with fundamental physics, with no call for a divine first mover.

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    19. Questions

      What do you mean by fundamental physics? that is a very vague term which is hard to reply to.

      You grant the reality of change.... good, now what alternative do you offer for the act / potency distinction? I ask because that is the fundamental metaphysical point on which the argument rests.

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    20. SP,

      When you say form is but structure or arrangement, that's not quite right when talking about the substantial form in hylemorphism.

      Also, you said that the continual existence of matter (i'm assuming you meant prime matter in the context of hylemorphism) and form, where no change happens, does not need to be actualised, well, because there is no change! But on a Hylemorphic view of substances, the combination of prime matter and substantial form cannot account why a substance exists. For prime matter is just pure potentiality and substantial form is just an abstraction. Prime matter is actualised by substantial form and substantial form needs prime matter in order to become concrete. To dodge the circular trap demands appealing to something outside the hylemorphic substance. In other words, a Hylemorphic substance needs something else to actualise its potential to exist.

      Delete
    21. Seriously, stop feeding this guy. You are helping to bring down this whole site.

      Delete
    22. Just another mad Catholic October 20, 2017 at 2:02 PM

      Questions

      "What do you mean by fundamental physics? that is a very vague term which is hard to reply to."
      --The search continues for the fundamental structure of material reality. We live in an amazing age of discovery, but we as a species clearly have not got to the bottom yet.

      "Physics" is sometimes used in the sense of the body of scientific models that are well established, such as the standard model.

      "Physics" is also sometimes taken to mean the actual material processes that occur irrespective of any human understanding of them.

      Feser uses a good choice of words, I think (except for my quibbles about "law"), in this video at 9:40 where he says "the deepest level of laws of nature, whatever they turn out to be"
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaSSSst3JBo

      So what I call fundamental physics Feser calls the deepest laws of nature whatever they turn out to be.

      This can be taken to refer to the physical reality of material existence or our models of that reality, which are 2 different things, but it is easy to sometimes conflate the model with the reality.


      "You grant the reality of change.... good, now what alternative do you offer for the act / potency distinction?"
      --The whole of modern physics.

      Terms like "act" and "potency" simply do not appear in the modern scientific literature, except in some occasional historical reference.

      Ideas like "act" and "potency" come from an ancient time when people were limited to naked eye observations and just thinking about things.

      So yes, things do what things can do and things don't do what things can't do, so these ancient terms still have reason to them, but an over reliance on them leads to some analytical errors.

      " I ask because that is the fundamental metaphysical point on which the argument rests. "
      --I think analyzing the arguments is very good fun, and I have written thousands of words on these subjects, but recently I have bypassed the approach of pointing out the logical fallacies and other unsound aspect of the arguments and have to turned to reality checking the conclusions.

      Sort of like a long math problem on the exam where you look at the answer and if it is some wildly impossible expression you know you went wrong someplace.

      A-T asserts a changer to account for no change. Reality check, A-T got the wrong answer, so it is time to figure out what went wrong in the A-T thinking process.

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    23. Callum October 20, 2017 at 2:44 PM

      SP,

      "When you say form is but structure or arrangement, that's not quite right when talking about the substantial form in hylemorphism."
      --Ok, that's fine, I am not really trying to speak the language of A-T to express my views. A-T doesn't have the words in its vocabulary to express my views.

      Modern science does not use the language of A-T because it is either irrelevant or simply erroneous. I speak in modern scientific terms to express my views. I only refer back to A-T language in a sort of translation effort to the extent that any reasonable notions can be salvaged from those ancient words.

      "Also, you said that the continual existence of matter (i'm assuming you meant prime matter in the context of hylemorphism)"
      --No I meant matter in the context of modern science.

      " and form, where no change happens, does not need to be actualised, well, because there is no change!"
      --Indeed.

      " But on a Hylemorphic view of substances, the combination of prime matter and substantial form cannot account why a substance exists."
      --That's Greek to me :-)

      " For prime matter is just pure potentiality and substantial form is just an abstraction. Prime matter is actualised by substantial form and substantial form needs prime matter in order to become concrete."
      --I describe material processes in the language of modern science. I don't see the value in terms like "prime matter" and "pure potentiality".

      " To dodge the circular trap demands appealing to something outside the hylemorphic substance. In other words, a Hylemorphic substance needs something else to actualise its potential to exist. "
      --I don't see any means to map that language onto a scientifically evidenced reality.

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    24. Anonymous October 20, 2017 at 3:04 PM

      "Seriously, stop feeding this guy. You are helping to bring down this whole site."
      --Did you watch and listen to the OP?

      Unfortunately, Prager did not move the discussion into the arguments much at all. Shapiro did much better in that respect.

      But Ed Feser's story of going from Catholic as a child, to atheist as a young man, to Catholic as a beginning educator was interesting.

      He found, as we all do, that teaching a subject puts a whole new light on ones views. There is nothing quite like explaining a set of positions to an inexperienced or skeptical audience to expose the flaws in one's own thinking.

      Arguments matter. Case in point, a man who changed his worldview by reading and teaching arguments.

      I express my views among those who disagree with me because I agree that the unexamined life is not worth living.

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    25. SP,

      I'm not going to recommend you read Odeberg's real essentialism as I doubt you have the desire to spend money on a book that argues for a position you dismiss as scientifically illiterate. But I will mention it on the off chance.

      However, if you go to Rob Koons blog you will find (mostly under the published papers tab) defence of hylemorphism broadly construed (not so much full blown substantial form and prime matter - Odeberg, but 'ontological escalation' where macroscopic objects are as fundamental as Microscopic ones) with QM and elements of chemistry.

      Check out the other side. See what you think.

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    26. Callum October 21, 2017 at 12:53 AM

      "However, if you go to Rob Koons blog... 'ontological escalation' "
      http://robkoons.net/media/3d211414d9a8a675ffff80bdffaf2815.pdf
      "where macroscopic objects are as fundamental as Microscopic ones) with QM and elements of chemistry."
      --He claims to have defined a difference between emergence and ontological escalation but it was not quickly obvious to me what the difference is.

      How can a macroscopic object be as fundamental as its constituents? If so then something new emerges upon combination of constituents and disappears when the macro object is dismantled. Yet Koons wants to move on from the notion of emergence.

      Koons is putting forth a notion of infinite degrees of freedom but at least he admits "I have not claimed that any of the quantum theory discussed in sections III and IV
      provide any direct evidence of the ontological escalation of the biological and social domains. I
      am only claiming that quantum chemistry provides a useful model for thinking about escalation, "

      So, the whole paper is self admittedly lacking in realistic grounding, and is more of a speculative brainstorming paper.

      Elsewhere Koons writes:
      " the causal capacities of the material parts are grounded in the causal capacities of the whole, and the actions of each part are grounded in actions of the whole"
      --Yet the whole is not acting causally on the parts, only "grounding" them. This seems to me to be a rather vague and unsubstantiated mechanism.
      http://robkoons.net/21878.html?entryId=c512e7d6bef734a01214e9253b06ed1a

      At what stage does an atom become "grounded" by the "whole"? As a diatomic molecule? 10 atoms? 10^10 atoms? What is the mechanism of this "grounding"? Does Koons have any equations that describe "grounding"? Do atoms become grounded or only electrons and quarks? Are planets grounded by virtue of a solar system or does a planet need a whole galaxy to become "grounded"?

      Koons correctly identifies a number of problems with dualism. I don't see that he has offered any solutions that rise above speculation.

      I did not find anything on the Koons site that explains why a regression of movers or changers is called for at all in a hierarchical present moment analysis.

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    27. SP,

      I'll try and reply later. In the meantime, I'll be cheeky and give you some homework ;)

      This is a presentation by Bruce Gordon; https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=4657s&v=wk-UO81HmO4 on the incompatibility of physicalism with physics.

      He argues for idealism so is a position against both of out positions. However, i of course agree with a greater degree than you will. I can grasp most of the philosophy but the science is above me, I'm interested in your take.

      Delete
    28. Callum October 21, 2017 at 8:08 AM

      "This is a presentation by Bruce Gordon; https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=4657s&v=wk-UO81HmO4 on the incompatibility of physicalism with physics.,,, I'm interested in your take. "

      --I refute it thusly (boot kicks rock).

      I find it somewhat amusing that Gordon takes a dismissive tone about work in theoretical physics while proposing that we literally live as a dream of god.

      He invokes the name of Bell but recall Bell himself did not conclude determinism could not be the case, rather, that a classical form of determinism had been ruled out by his theorem.

      Gordon scoffs at the notion that some fundamental physical structure could be a brute fact while blithely introducing an invisible entity as a brute fact that we are all dreams of, as though that is somehow more tenable.

      His assertion that physics is somehow incompatible with physicalism is utter nonsense buried under a pile of technical jargon and tangential references.

      His argument boils down to "physicists have not yet derived a TOE or GUT therefore we are a dream of god. How absurd.

      Delete
    29. Callum, can you stop replying please. You are now partly responsible for this blight upon this site.

      Delete
  12. SDP

    You misunderstand the Catholic position; God does not positively will evil to occur, he allows it to occur (a) because he has made us free creatures and he cannot force us to freely choose the good and (b) because he uses it to draw people freely to himself, case in point......

    During WW2 the Catholics of Europe went out of their way to save the Jews of Europe. That has gone a long way to mend the emotional relationships between Catholics and Jews, which in turn has lessened the resistance of Jews to converting to the Catholic Faith and thus saving their eternal souls. Some would argue that this lead to the so called Jewish reclamation of Jesus in historical NT studies which in turn has increased the historical credibility of the Gospels so that atheists can convert and save their souls.

    Now this is simply a potential scenario, I'm not saying that this is why the holocaust was allowed to happen, but given our limited perspective we are not in a position to say that it's not possible.

    A more personal example; I am autistic; and this has made life very hard for me. However it is possible that God allowed my cognitive architecture to develop this way so that I am capable of the abstractness of thought required to grasp certain philosophical premises, reason on them to God's existence and to grasp why objections to the premises don't hold muster. It also helps if you're engaged to a physicist who could talk about quarks, protons, electrons and the planck scale until the cows come home.

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    1. Interesting different take.

      I would add: he fails to understand what’s contradictive versus what’s not. Classical theists have never argued that God can literally do anything in the sense of Him creating round circles. So, to say that God’s infinitely good nature should be that---for example---the virtue of mercy be practiced without actual evils is to really think God can do contradictive things; namely, that God can have it that we practice mercy but not actually do it. Now his reply, ironically, is that God doesn’t exist because there is a real contradiction present. But the contradiction vanishes when certain goods require evils. God cannot desire us to practice merry without evils. (And then there’s the free-will part of the argument.)

      But also: there are pluses and minuses to things! It seems fairly simplistic, to be sure, to think just point to an evil is sufficient. There are higher goods, lesser goods, mild evils, extreme evils, etc. We need to add and subtract, so to speak. And we need to understand that some goods require some evils. Those evils don’t themselves negate the goods. Things are in a spectrum.

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    2. Sorry for typos, e.g., "mercy" should be in place of "merry"

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    3. Wow. I really am in typo and error mode.

      “round circles” should be “round squares”

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    4. yeah well I didn't want the post to go on forever, I also ought to have mentioned that evil is an absence of Good, rather than a positive property in and of itself.

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  13. Question: What's the best way to explain to a Christian who believes that the Bible alone can give us knowledge of God that philosophy can also legitimately add to our understanding of Him? And if they view (less radically) that the Bible is perhaps not the sole authority, but nevertheless the ultimate authority for such an understanding, what's the best way to persuade them that other things (such as sound philosophical reasoning) hold greater weight than their interpretation of scripture?

    If there's a good article (on this website or elsewhere) or book, please let me know. This sort of question seems necessary before philosophical conversations about God's existence, his nature, etc., can get off the ground. Thanks!

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    1. Perhaps cite Romans 1:20

      "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."

      The philosophical process of deducing from the finite, contingent world etc. to its infinite necessary source is simply to confirm and act in accordance with what this verse says.

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    2. Philosophy can never rule over scripture. Otherwise, you're treating the Bible as just any other book.

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    3. Anon, the problem with your view is that, without sound philosophy, one has no basis to conclude that the Bible is not like "just any other book". Otherwise, you'll turn out like those fundamentalist Protestants for whom "God exists because the Bible says so" and "the Bible is true because it is the Word of God".

      Plus, one also needs the same sound philosophy in order to correctly interpret what Scripture says. (The tens of thousands of Protestant sects bear witness to this.)

      Circularity and bibliolatry are a no-go.

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    4. It's not circular -- we can use philosophy in historical arguments to show that Christ was a real person and was who he really said he was, and perhaps even to show that certain interpretations are true. But once we've done that (validating the truth of the Bible via Christ's reality and validating a certain interpretation), the Bible becomes self-sufficient for forming our views about God.

      For example, the New Testament quite clearly advocates predestination/election. Many Christians, atheists, etc., reject this idea on the basis of philosophical arguments concerning the goodness of God, despite how plainly it's proclaimed by the text. I choose to accept that God's ways are beyond my own, and believe what the text plainly says, not what my fallible philosophical mind might tell me.

      Philosophy is the servant of scripture, not the other way around. I don't see any problem with using it as the ultimate basis for truth.

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    5. "I choose to accept that God's ways are beyond my own"

      That's a philosophical position, and one assumes that you'll have reason for it.

      For every text, we always have to interpret it, and our acceptance of it all depends on our background knowledge, philosophical beliefs, and understanding of concepts.

      Scripture is not the "ultimate basis of truth" in an absolute way. Nor can it even be such an ultimate basis, because what Scripture tells us is not *basic*; if we take something that Scripture tells us to be true, it is only because 1) we understand to a certain degree the terms that it is using; 2) we don't see a contradiction in what it is saying, we take it as coherent; 3) we take it as reliable because we are convinced -- by independent reasons, so as not to be circular -- that Scripture is inspired by God, and we understand God to be trustworthy because of who He is.

      The ultimate basis for truth is being and logic; truth is correspondence between the intelect and reality. We understand first self-evident principles (e.g. The principle of non-contradiction), we analyze things by reference to coherence (even *coherence with Scripture*, which shows logic to be more basic), what things could be and what things ARE (which is why God presents Himself as "I AM", being).

      Logic and philosophy therefore come before Scripture. You may very well hold that Scripture can tell us truths that we ourselves may not comprehend entirely and we should still accept it because it's from Scripture, but that presupposes we must be coherent with Scripture, and that Scripture has immense epistemological authority (if it comes from God). Those are philosophical theses.

      One may say that philosophy is the servant of theology in a technical sense, but philosophy comes first, and as such it is absurd to hold that logic and philosophy could not give us legitimate knowledge of him, while simultaneously holding Scripture to be able to do so. It would be to treat Scripture not as miraculous, but as straight up magical.

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  14. This would deserve its own thread, and more, but I take issue with the tendency to speak of "A-T metaphysics" if that locution presupposes a substantial identity betw Aristotle's and Aquinas' metaphysics. Aquinas and others who identified God's essence and His existence were undertaking a different project from Aristotle's inquiry into "being" as "a veritable multiplicity of genera or essences, that is, essentially as difference" (Enrico Berti). Berti confesses that he does not know whether the conception of God as "Esse ipsum subsistens" truly leads to monism or pantheism (Feser insists that it does not), but Berti says, "I only know that this metaphysics cannot be called Aristotelian, because it contradicts Aristotle's position on a fundamental point." [from Bloomsbury Companion to Aristotle, but Berti and many other Aristotle specialists have been saying such for decades]

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    1. There are widely different views on Aristotle. Most neoplatonists saw him as a dissident Platonist, more or less in harmony with Plato. According to Lloyd Gerson they weren't mistaken. On the other hand, there are modern scholars who wish to render him a precursor of modern empiricism and naturalism. It is interesting to compare Gerson's reconstruction of the neoplatonic harmonist view fo Aristotle psychology, which argues he rejected hylomorphism (at least in terms of the relation between intellect and the soul/body composite), identified the passive and active intellect, and affirmed the immorality of the intellect, with scholars who see Aristotle's psychology as a forerunner to functionalism.

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    2. yes, widely different views on Aristotle - part of the fun.

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  15. Just to throw in a bit about temporal regress vs a regression of causes in the present moment. In his commentary on The Book of Causes, l. 1, Aquinas mentions another, more important way in which he thinks a series of causes ordered 'per se' differs from one ordered 'per accidens.' A 'per se' ordered series is hierarchical. In it, the intention of the first cause aims by means of all the intermediate causes at the final effect. He gives the example of the metal worker who moves the hammer with his hand and hammers the metal, in order to effect the outcome. In a series ordered accidentally, the intention of one cause extends only to the immediate, proximate effect. He gives the example of someone who lights a candle, and somebody else takes that candle and lights another one. The first person did not aim at lighting the second candle.

    In these examples, Aquinas imagines humans as the first causes. Since "intentio" can refer to a relation where one thing extends toward another, I don't think "intention" here has to imply that the lead cause is a mind in every case. Of course Aquinas says that the first cause of all is a mind.

    The main point is that causes in the per se order are organized as a system, aiming at a unitary effect through mediate causes controlled by the top cause. In an accidentally ordered series, the effect produced by the proximate cause (e.g. lighting the second candle) is only produced by accident by the first cause.

    The issue of whether the causes all operate at the same TIME is not really relevant, and i haven't seen Aquinas go into it. The metal worker starts moving his arm before the hammer hits the metal, but the series is still ordered 'per se.'

    It's worth noting that Aquinas does not take issue with those who think that there can be an actual infinite of things that are not in an order (SCG II.38.14). Plus, he expressly says it is not considered impossible that a series of accidentally ordered efficient causes should go on to an actual infinite, since the causal relation only is real between one cause and one effect. That's why he won't endorse the KCA. But a per se ordered series cannot go to infinity, he says. ST 1a Q. 46 art. 2 ad septimum. Here, his examples of accidentally ordered series imply temporality: a metal worker who keeps breaking his hammer and using a new one; generations of people sired by fathers going back in time. But he doesn't talk in this section about time as a theoretical constraint.

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    1. Ficino,

      I don't think Feser and other thomists who talk of E-ordered series involving causes operating at the same time actually mean that time is an essential feature of E-ordered series. On the contrary, Feser argues that causation is primarily an ontological relation, not a temporal one, and that an E-ordered series is to be understood ontologically, in which the secondary causes are merely instrumental and derive their power from the preceding causes. It's just that time makes it much easier for most people to understand what we're talking about, it's a good and didactic way of pointing a difference between e-series and a-series, because we can understand that in an e-series everything is to be moved "at the same time" and in an a-series there can be "intervals".

      Just a handy illustration, just like Aquinas's examples of fire, hands pushing levers, etc

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    2. Miguel October 19, 2017 at 2:18 PM

      " On the contrary, Feser argues that causation is primarily an ontological relation, not a temporal one, and that an E-ordered series is to be understood ontologically,"
      --There is no such thing as an "essential" causal series. Every causal series is temporal and therefore "accidental".

      What A-T calls a "causal" series is indeed ontological or hierarchical. It is a series of abstractions. A series of human models, such as
      Macro object
      Molecule
      Atom
      Subatomic particle
      Standard model particle
      Fundamental physics (whatever that turns out to be)

      Atoms do not "cause" a molecule. A molecule is simply an arrangement of atoms in a dynamic temporally interacting system.

      "we can understand that in an e-series everything is to be moved "at the same time""
      --There is no such thing a causal series of movements "at the same time". Causal influences propagate no faster than c, classically, in what is refereed to as a light cone.

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    3. SP,

      "the first mover is absurd, since it would be a brute fact, not explainable in terms of anything else."

      A brute fact has no explanation. Period. The first mover is self-explained. One has an explanation, the other doesn't. Very different.

      '"because it is self-explanatory as a necessary proposition. "
      --That's what a brute fact is.'

      No. A brute fact has no explanation. Period. If that is not what a brute fact is, then what is that which has no explanation?

      See the term: Self-explanatory. Also, refer to above for further details.

      "Explanations are relative. We explain one thing in terms of other things, such as smaller constituents. When we get to the terminus of our structural modeling regress we get to a brute fact."

      No we don't. We get to something that is self-explained. We do not get to something unexplained. If we did, then every other so called "explanation" no longer has any explanatory power. The only way to avoid that is to get to something that is self-explanatory.

      "Fine, I will then define quantum fields as necessary. "

      Not sure why you are just adding necessity to QFs based on nothing, but fine. Now you need to explain how one QF is different to another QF, without either one being dependent on the other or any property of themselves. See at 10:20 here for more details.

      "Theists who assert god as somehow being self explanatory and necessary and therefore not a brute fact are in denial through the usage of invented technical terms that draw a false distinction with no actual difference."

      No actual difference? One is explained, one isn't. How can you not see that difference? It's like if I said, "Stardusty exists" then you come along and say "Well that's exactly the same as saying I don't exist. You guys are just making a false distinction" Can you see the difference? Next you will say "science gets us to the truth, but truth is just the same as falsehood. No difference there, silly scientists."

      "If there could have been no such thing as material existence, whatever that turns out to be at base, then there also could have been no such thing as god."

      If even the most fundamental thing is contingent, then what explanation is there for it existing rather than not existing? If does not have an explanation, it exists as a matter of brute fact and the explanation for the existence of literally everything is lost (see above for details). If it has an explanation, it can't come from something else, since then it is dependent on that other thing, and thus not fundamental. So it's existence must be self-explanatory. If so, it cannot fail to exist otherwise if it in anyway or any time doesn't exist, its explanation is gone, and we lose all explanation for everything else. So it is necessary. I'm not just saying that, like you did with QFs, but literally everything that exists becomes absurd if we don't. So now this contingent thing must be necessary, which is a contradiction and which makes about as much sense as your claim that the explained is also unexplained. So whatever is fundamental must be necessary because if it wasn't it would lead to a contradiction. Yay, we have our necessary self-explained thing. Please see below for why it can't be material.

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    4. '"We grasp that it is a necessary being because it could not fail to exist and that is the whole point."
      --Indeed. You have just described a brute fact.'

      I'm sure even kids can understand this: To be both explained and not explained is a contradiction.

      "--Our models require a terminus, which is fundamental physics, whatever that turns out to be. "

      Whatever is fundamental cannot have any properties, as noted above. If there is some fundamental material thing it will require an explanation. Since it is material, and the material aspect stops with it (being fundamental in terms of material things), it's explanation must be immaterial, or have no explanation (brute fact) and we know where that leads us.

      "For all the sophisticated sounding philosophical jargon the theistic assertion is simply a brute fact assertion. God simply must exist. God simply is necessary."

      Brute fact? Considering that any other answer leads to a contradiction, as I explained above, it can't be a brute fact. It's like you saying that our models must reach a terminus which will be fundamental physics, whatever that turns out to be, then we accuse you of just asserting that as a brute fact. If you are, then all of scientific explanation becomes mere brute facts. Any link between any explanation of any kind is lost, everything becomes absurd.

      "The universe continues to exist because conservation is no change."

      That would only be the case if the universe explains its own existence, thus it is necessary. Please see above where I said that something that is necessary cannot have properties.

      So if the universe is not necessary, and thus it's existence is not self-explained, then its existence is dependent on something else at every given moment that it exists. It is contingent, so whether it exists at any given time must be caused. So, this other thing would need to continually keep causing the existence of the universe. It would need to continually be producing a change in the universe toward existence.

      "When things stay the same they do not change. That should be obvious."

      Correct! That is obvious, and that is why God does not change.

      As an analogy, you know your computer? It can't keep itself running. It must continue to receive power from something else. Just because it continues to have power, it doesn't mean that it doesn't require constantly changing and being caused to have power.

      The universe can't keep itself in existence (see above for further details). Tt must continue to receive its existence from something else. Just because it continues to have existence, it doesn't mean that it doesn't require constantly changing and being caused to have existence.

      "The Aristotelian 4 "causes" as well as the notions of "essential" versus "accidental" causation are all absent from modern science. These are obsolete, false, irrelevant, irrational, and long discarded into utter disuse by modern science."

      If you want to find metal, use a metal detector. You wouldn't use a pregnancy test. That is for pregnancies, not metal.

      If you want to mathematically model a physical system, use a mathematical model. You wouldn't use a metaphysically normative concept. That is for determining normative aspects of nature, not mathematical models of physical systems.

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    5. "he is incapable of producing that good without first creating evil."

      Your mistake is thinking evil is actually something, rather than the lack of something, namely goodness. Evil can't be produced; God adds goodness but not necessarily completely.

      Like drawing an incomplete circle. You didn't add anything to make it incomplete, you just didn't completely draw it. Even if it was complete, you couldn't add anything to the circle to make it incomplete. You also can't add anything to make an incomplete circle more incomplete.

      Plus, Feser's overall point was that God has his reasons for things not being always absolutely good, and that reason we can logically deduce must be a greater good. Even if we have no idea what that greater good is, we can at least confirm that it must be the case. Again, see above for further details.

      "If X exists now, and X exists later then X has stayed the same."

      Like your computer goes through no change at all in terms of power simply because it always has power I'm guessing? X has changed in terms of existence since its existence is not inherent to X (unless X is God, for reasons as shown above) so if X has existence at one time, it was given existence at that time, and if it has it later, then it has to be given existence at that time too. It can't, by itself, keep its existence from one moment to another because it doesn't have existence inherently.

      '"we can understand that in an e-series everything is to be moved "at the same time""
      --There is no such thing a causal series of movements "at the same time". Causal influences propagate no faster than c, classically, in what is refereed to as a light cone.'

      "same time" is not the right wording, but any point about time lag, or light cone's is just missing the point. It's like a math teacher making an example about one worm crawling on to the table, then another worm crawling on to the table to explain addition, then you come along as saying "Well worms don't actually crawl". Clearly you missed the point.

      Feser has addressed this in his books, but a side discussion that might help can be seen here: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-series.html

      I guess now I will just wait for you to completely misunderstand everything I just said and assert, without any reason, a bunch of claims that probably miss the point.

      Sound good? Good. Can't wait!

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    6. Stop feeding the troll.

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    7. He's not a troll, just very stupid. I'm doing this mainly for my own reasons anyway.

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    8. It doesn't matter whether his stupidity is feigned or real, as his posts are still the same prolific puerile nonsense. What you are doing has a detrimental effect on us all. If people would stop feeding SP he would eventually get bored and leave. He ratchet up the attention-seeking stupidity for a little while, but then he'd give up. By feeding him, you keep spreading the infection, which affects us all. Dr. Feser has told people to stop feeding him. Please listen.

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    9. Billy October 21, 2017 at 2:18 PM

      "He's not a troll, just very stupid. "
      --Indeed, I am not wise. Apparently you are, at least by comparison.

      Perhaps Dr. Edward Feser is able to address these specific points, or maybe one so wise as you could kindly provide a link or a reference to any source that addresses these specific points:



      No change in matter calls for no changer.
      No change in form calls for no changer.
      Therefore to merely persist in existence calls for no changer.

      All motion occurs over time.
      All change occurs over time.
      Every causal series of changes is a temporal series calling for a temporal regress, not a hierarchical regress.

      Form calls for a hierarchical regress.
      That hierarchical regress is a regress of abstractions, of human models.
      The deepest level of abstraction in principle describes the deepest level of material existence, which terminates the hierarchical regress.

      Therefore no first mover, no first changer, and no divine first cause is called for by persistence of the material from moment to moment, or by motion, or by change, or by form.

      Modern physics utterly refutes A-T as does reason itself.

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    10. I guess now I will just wait for you to completely misunderstand everything I just said and assert, without any reason, a bunch of claims that probably miss the point.

      Hahaha....You should have bet.

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    11. BillyOctober 20, 2017 at 4:29 PM

      "Like drawing an incomplete circle. You didn't add anything to make it incomplete, you just didn't completely draw it. Even if it was complete, you couldn't add anything to the circle to make it incomplete. You also can't add anything to make an incomplete circle more incomplete."

      You could use an eraser to erase some of the circle.

      "Plus, Feser's overall point was that God has his reasons for things not being always absolutely good, and that reason we can logically deduce must be a greater good."

      LOL! He's got His reasons as he? That's a convincing argument. I think the greater good may be the sales of books written by cranks like Edward Fuser to gullible people like you..

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  16. Dr feser, I started reading the five proofs . At the beginning you mention that this only sets up for the real debate which is between theists. Is there a book or set of essays ( either by you or someone else) which you would recommend which best expresses your views on deciding that question ?

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    1. I can recommend the Feynman Lectures which are now available online without charge. Then you will understand why an "argument" about a hand on a staff touching a stone touching a leaf doesn't quite explain the natural phenomena which have actually been *observed* since the 13th Century when the "argument" Edward Feser uses was thought up.

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    2. Cool, I'll try to find those.

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  17. There are 2 barriers which any attempt at an argument for "God" (meaning the Christian God) is going to meet:
    1) There is 0% credibility in the proposition that the universe was created. No reason has ever been presented in the history of humanity to add any credibility to this. Consequently all theist religions are untenable.
    2) There is no reason to think that the idea that Jesus was the son of a purported creator of the universe is anything but nonsense i.e. there is no link between the fictional biblical character "God" and any supposed beginning of the universe.

    These 2 barriers mean that any "argument" for "God" always has the following 2 glaring errors:
    i) It assumes the universe is created without any justification. This is simply not known.
    ii) It assumes a link between the assumed creation and the fictional biblical character "God" without any justification.

    I've no idea what the 5 "proofs" are in the book, but they will all contain the above 2 assumptions.

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    1. actually Steven Dr Feser's book (as anyone familiar with his work would know) argues strictly for the God of Classical theism which (in theory) would be compatible with an eternal universe.

      Next time do a little research before outing yourself as a malignant troll.

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    2. Just another mad Catholic

      "argues strictly for the God of Classical theism which (in theory) would be compatible with an eternal universe. "
      So the "argument" assumes that the universe is eternal without any justification. This is simply not known currently, although there are obviously strong observational suggestions that the visible universe could be finite.

      You use the word "God", identifying some assumed aspect of this "eternal universe" with the fictional biblical character "God" without any justification.

      So you assume the nature of the universe beyond what is known, and you assume a connection with the biblical character "God".

      Assumptions like this cannot be considered reasons, which makes theist beliefs and Christian beliefs irrational.

      Do you have any reasons for your beliefs, rather than assumptions?

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    3. Just another mad CatholicOctober 23, 2017 at 2:52 AM

      I still can't see any reasons given for claims about the universe beyond what has been observed in natural science, nor any reason to link the origin of the universe with the fictional biblical character "God".

      You must be thinking hard...

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    4. @Steven

      What do you mean by "created" here? If you mean temporal beginning of the Universe then you've been given straight forward answer for that. so what else do you mean?

      Secondly, which premises in Ed's arguments actually assume what you say here:

      These 2 barriers mean that any "argument" for "God" always has the following 2 glaring errors:
      i) It assumes the universe is created without any justification. This is simply not known.
      ii) It assumes a link between the assumed creation and the fictional biblical character "God" without any justification.


      ?

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    5. Go away, SP.

      Shoo! Shoo!

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    6. Yep, like someone pointed out above, the most doofuses like Steven Evans aka Stardusty Psyche can do is strengthen our faith. Because really, if the best they've got is that bad, then the case for theism only gets more and more reasonable.

      They don't even realise that, not only are they attacking a ridiculous straw man no one worthy of attention has ever defended, but every single one of their pathetic arguments have been obliterated countless times by actual philosophers. Dr. Feser in particular has addressed the issue before, including here in this very blog.

      Dude, you can start by reading Dr. Feser's The Last Superstition, where, to put it bluntly, he shatters without mercy the assumptions of your worldview. (If you can stomach the pummeling, that is.) *Then* you can go on to Five Proofs.

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    7. RedOctober 23, 2017 at 10:28 AM

      "What do you mean by "created" here? If you mean temporal beginning of the Universe then you've been given straight forward answer for that. so what else do you mean?"

      It is not currently known whether the visible universe had a beginning or not, based on observation. Any claim that a temporally finite universe or an eternal universe originated from a first changer is simply speculation. Cause and effect may not go beyond the posited singularity around 14 billion years ago. The only way further information will be obtained about this posited first second of the universe is by further observation e.g. LIGO detectors. Another problem with "arguments" based on cause and effect is that it appears to break down at the quantum level where the wave equation is deterministic, but the collapse of the wave equation on measurement appears to be probabilistic.

      "Secondly, which premises in Ed's arguments actually assume what you say here:"

      Feser assumes cause and effect continues back beyond what has been observed. There is no justification for this assumption.
      Feser associates the ficitional Biblical character "God" with his first changer. Why not Gandalf or Harry Potter? These are also characters in books.

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    8. AnonymousOctober 23, 2017 at 2:11 PM
      Is that you, Edward Feser?

      “Because really, if the best they've got is that bad,”
      You tell me the case is bad, but you provide no argument against it. It’s always better to show than tell.

      “then the case for theism only gets more and more reasonable.”
      Let’s hear a reason then. Making assumptions about cause and effect going back in time beyond what has been observed is not a reason.

      “ obliterated countless times by actual philosophers. Dr. Feser in particular has addressed the issue before, including here in this very blog.”
      Again you tell but do not show. A reason was given to show that cause and effect continues back in time beyond what has been observed, and beyond the posited singularity of the visible universe 14 billion years ago? This would be Nobel Prize-winning work. Feser should get it published.

      “he shatters without mercy the assumptions of your worldview”.
      Again you tell but do not show. I don’t particularly have a “worldview” but I can see that my computer works and it depends on quantum tunnelling of electrons. This is slightly more impressive than: let’s assume without justification that cause and effect goes back in time beyond what has been observed, and at some random point let’s stop this and identify the origin of the chain with the fictional biblical character “God” for no apparent reason. Then let’s write a crank book about it and sell it to gullible people.

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    9. Steven Evans is not SP. Whether he is worth engaging will become clear if he stays around.

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    10. Steven,

      To say X is compatible with Y is not to assume or claim that Y is true. JAMC was saying that Feser's proofs of God are compatible with an eternal universe, not that they assume it. As a Catholic, like Aquinas himself, Feser believes in a temporal beginning to the universe, but this is irrelevant to his proofs, which are compatible with an eternal universe or a universe with a beginning.


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    11. John of DorsetOctober 23, 2017 at 9:13 PM

      "Steven Evans is not SP. Whether he is worth engaging will become clear if he stays around. "
      He says failing to engage yet again.

      Delete
    12. AnonymousOctober 23, 2017 at 9:20 PM

      "To say X is compatible with Y is not to assume or claim that Y is true."
      Sure. But it is not currently known whether the visible universe had a temporal beginning or not.

      "JAMC was saying that Feser's proofs "
      They are not proofs, they are assumptions. Feser makes assumptions about cause and effect going beyond what has been observed and beyond a possible space-time singularity - we only know of cause and effect in the visible universe so to claim it may go beyond the visible universe is pure speculation.

      "As a Catholic, like Aquinas himself, Feser believes in a temporal beginning to the universe,"
      Another assumption of his.

      "but this is irrelevant to his proofs,"
      Assumptions are not proofs.

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    13. The point is that it doesn't matter to Feser's argument (to avoid a term that seems to give you some irritation) if the universe has a temporal beginning or not.

      The stuff about cause and effect seems like warmed over Kantianism. Feser has answered this point directly several times in his works, and indirectly even more times.

      I think you need to flesh it out more and argue for it properly to turn it into a proper objection. For example, why do you think our knowledge of cause and effect pertains only to the observed universe? There are presumably commonalities between what we observe and don't, or even can't, observe. They both partake of being, for example. Why should we assume what we know of causality only applies to the observable world?

      Also, what exactly do you mean by observed? You are presumably not using it in too restricted a way, as that would cause problems for science itself. You notion of observation seems to allow you, for example, to talk of a possible space-time singularity. Really, you need to flesh all this out. What you are doing is trying to foist a controversial epistemology on us without arguing for or even explaining it properly.

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    14. Steven Evans,

      As I said, this thread is old. I may engage you on another if you stay around. Also, John of Dorset is a name I use at Hitchens's blog. I used it here to defend you whilst letting you know who I am. It isn't a moniker I otherwise use here, so just because you don't see that name, it doesn't mean I won't have engaged you.

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    15. Yep, dude is SP.

      Delete
    16. That would be a huge coincidence. Steven Evans is a commenter on Peter Hitchen's blog. On that blog most of the religious commentators are not philosophically interested, so I suggested he come here to see if his braggadocio had any substance. It us possible he is SP, but I doubt. They both appear to have that gnu tendency of arrogance coupled with ignorance, but that is hardly rare. But SP has something else - a sheer inability to interact properly with others. He doesn't take on board, in any proper way, anything said to him. Your average gnu may not be too far from a troll, but SP is a whole different level. He is like Santi or the old Don't Jindra. It remains to be seen if Steven belongs in such august company.

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    17. It is not currently known whether the visible universe had a beginning or not........but the collapse of the wave equation on measurement appears to be probabilistic.

      Well you've been already pointed out that no premise in any of those five arguments assume that, the burden is on you to show how any of that undermines any of those arguments.

      Feser assumes cause and effect continues back beyond what has been observed. There is no justification for this assumption.
      Feser associates the ficitional Biblical character "God" with his first changer. Why not Gandalf or Harry Potter? These are also characters in books.


      Again you have to show which premise actually assumes that, the arguments makes clear which sort of things principle of causality applies on, if you want to refute it then you have to show that its false.IF you don't do that you are just wasting your time making factually empty remarks.

      Your comments here so far have been yawn inducing, please isn't there any substantive and interesting critiques you've got. lol, just look at that stuff you say about cause and effect,A Berkeleyian might come along and tell you that we haven't ever "observed" mind-independent matter,You can justify all sorts of unpalatable scepticisms with that kind of reasoning. This also answers some of your claims about Science and Metaphysics.

      Like I said your wasting your time making making either empty or absurd or otherwise just vague claims, comeback when you've got something interesting to offer.

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    18. Anonymous October 23, 2017 at 11:34 PM

      I’ll assume you can read between the lines and handle the sloppiness. I would include “consciousness” in the observed universe but would distinguish between thoughts in the mind and things in the objective universe, just because that has proved useful thus far. The apparent first second of the visible universe has not been observed yet, and in particular the beginning of the first second is a singularity in the maths, but what that means physically is not clear. So, cause and effect has been observed since the first second (and its origin is not “God”) but any claims about the first second and in particular the mathematical singularity where cause and effect may break down are simply speculation. Feser cannot prove that cause and effect is valid where it hasn’t been observed, and in particular, at the mathematical singularity cause and effect may break down, in which case Feser cannot apply cause and effect at that point. He is applying a theory where he doesn’t know it’s valid. Also, calling a purported first cause or an unnecessary eternal cause “God” after the fictional character in the Bible is just meaningless. This kind of speculation by Feser cannot be the basis of belief - there is no reason to think his ideas are true.
      In general, I don’t think it is a terrible idea per se to try to determine facts via abstract ideas in metaphysics, keeping above the fray in the manner of mathematicians like Galois or Grothendieck, but it doesn’t seem to have led to any actual knowledge. You need to know that the theory your applying is valid to the universe we’re actually in if you want to determine facts about that universe. Also, if you are clearly setting out from the beginning to try to rationalise a fairy tale from primitive times, just because that was your mama’s and papa’s “religion”, this is not acceptable in academia (I use the word loosely in Feser’s case). Feser needs to get off his mama’s teet and start thinking independently.

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    19. “Again you have to show which premise actually assumes that, the arguments makes clear which sort of things principle of causality applies on, if you want to refute it then you have to show that its false.”
      I don’t necessarily need to refute it, it’s enough to bring question marks against his assumptions which then brings into question their truth and removes them from their purpose of trying to support religious belief. Feser assumes causality is valid where he doesn’t know it’s valid e.g. in the unobserved first second of the visible universe and in particular at the mathematical singularity where all the physics may completely break down. He also identifies his first/prime cause with the fictional character “God” in the book the Bible. This is an assumption and a bizarre one.

      “Your comments here so far have been yawn inducing, please isn't there any substantive and interesting critiques you've got.”
      And just look at the results of physics compared with the results of cranks like Feser. Philosophy just goes from success to success.
      “lol, just look at that stuff you say about cause and effect,A Berkeleyian might come along and tell you that we haven't ever "observed" mind-independent matter,”
      Wow, that’s so clever, I can barely comprehend it😉 I’m not suggesting it can be shown that anything mind-independent has been observed, but working on that assumption led to theories like quantum mechanics and the functioning of the computer you are using.

      “Like I said your wasting your time making making either empty or absurd or otherwise just vague claims, comeback when you've got something interesting to offer. “
      You have not answered why Feser has assumed causality is valid where it might not be and why he named one particular cause “God” like he was naming his pet or something. Your pretence of being above it all while failing to address the flaws isn’t fooling anybody. We all know Feser is a crank 😉

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  18. Just another mad Catholic October 23, 2017 at 2:52 AM

    " Dr Feser's book (as anyone familiar with his work would know) argues strictly for the God of Classical theism which (in theory) would be compatible with an eternal universe. "
    --Right, but Feser's work is incompatible with modern science and reason itself.

    Feser calls for a first changer in the present moment to account for no change (continued existence of matter and form).

    Feser misidentifies a temporal regress (a causal series of changes) as a hierarchical regress.

    Feser asserts the reality of an illusory causal series of changes(the so-called "essential" series).

    Feser fails to correctly identify the hierarchical regress that is called for by form (a regress of abstractions, human physics models).

    Having made these errors Feser concludes there must be a first changer acting here and now to account for no change, when he actually got close to the answer by referring to the deepest "laws" of nature whatever they turn out to be. Feser correctly stated this deep level takes down the explanatory power of our higher models (in the absolute sense) but because he has so many errors in his analysis he was unable to make the connection to the rationality of reductionism and this deepest level as the terminus for the true hierarchical regression.

    To be fair, this is not Feser's fault alone. These errors of his go back to Aristotle, who's physics humanity accepted for some 2000 years (and some still are Aristotelians). Further, Aquinas wrote volumes on these erroneous notions.

    Feser did not invent these ancient errors, he merely perpetuates them.

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    1. So it is just some sort of Aquinas first mover "argument". The problem with these kinds of "arguments" is that they are very much of their time. I know Aquinas wouldn't have known about the confirmed observations of quantum mechanics, the expansion of the universe, the tiny hot early universe, but why has Edward Fuser not heard of these developments? Cause and effect goes back as far as it has been observed, and any claims beyond that are speculations especially given the quantum nature of matter may mean cause and effect is an emergent phenomenon.

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    2. Feser argues that Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics is necessary for the scientist to account for the scientific enterprise at all. Feser is very quick to label your approach as "scientism," Steven, and to say that it has nothing whatsoever to do with metaphysics, which is an inquiry prior to science. Metaphysics establishes those very presuppositions about reality that science then turns and uses: e.g. that one can investigate and discover "how something is"; that laws describe causal relations that are real relations; that for something to change, it has to have potential to undergo that sort of change; etc.

      I've been following discussions like these for years, and most of the time, I see advocates of science and advocates of pre-Renaissance metaphysics talk as though they're in different universes of discourse. But these topics deserve our effort!

      To people who are convinced by most of what Dr. Feser writes: as I said about SDP, I think also about Steven Evans: he is not a troll. It would be great to have deeper engagement and not character attacks off the bat. (I say this as a newbie to this blog, I know.)

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    3. It would be great to have deeper engagement and not character attacks off the bat

      Well, you should just look at his replies to billy and Miguel above for example then talk about "deeper engagement".

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    4. ficino4mlOctober 23, 2017 at 9:53 AM

      Natural science doesn't require metaphysics to justify its observations. A clock on a satellite is *observed* to run faster than a clock on the ground and this needs to be taken into account for car navigation systems to work accurately; computers work based on quantum tunnelling. Whatever reality *is*, physicists appear to have made some successful and extremely subtle predictions about it. Edward Feser and other crank philosophers like David Hart Bentley, however, have made no such progress with metaphysics and are simply making unjustified assumptions to rationalise one among a thousand primitive "religions".
      There is no denying the success of scientific observation and unfortunately for cranks like Feser and Hart Bentley they will need to take the observations of quantum mechanics and the big bang theory into account if they want to discuss ontology or the origin of the visible universe.
      As I stated above, claims about cause and effect beyond what has been observed are speculations (this includes the theories of Hawking and Turok, of course, but they admit they are speculating because they are not dishonest cranks trying to flog books.)

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    5. ficino4mlOctober 23, 2017 at 9:53 AM

      "It would be great to have deeper engagement and not character attacks off the bat. "
      --Yes, there is an apparent inverse relationship between the depth of engagement and level of character attacks.

      For example, none of the folks who have displayed their less than charitable opinions of me have been able to articulate any sound technical or rational arguments against my points.

      " I see advocates of science and advocates of pre-Renaissance metaphysics talk as though they're in different universes of discourse. "
      --Indeed. And that is the central error of A-T as I will detail below.

      The central error of Aquinas can be shown by contrasting these two wordings.
      1. Whatever is presently in motion was accelerated by another.
      2. Whatever is presently in motion is presently being moved by another.

      If one has the worldview, or metaphysics, that the natural state of matter is rest then 2. makes sense. This was the predominate view for thousands of years, and it seems obvious because ordinary objects will slow and stop unless something keeps moving them.

      Of course, Galileo and Newton revolutionized our worldview. We now understand that 1. is the case and 2. is not the case.

      The below is written, apparently, on the worldview of 2. On this view a hierarchical regress of movers is indeed called for by the observation of motion in the preset.


      "It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand"


      Since the time of Galileo and Newton we understand that 1. is the case. Even people who are not technical have heard that "a body in motion tends to stay in motion". We all know the Earth just keeps moving through space, and absent anything to slow an object down it just keeps going.

      Feser misses the point that inertia means that a body presently in motion does not require another to be presently moving it. Motion continues independently. Inertia means that no hierarchical regress of movers is called for in the present, as A-T claims.

      The foundation of A-T is false, and calling names will not make it true.

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    6. Ficino,

      Steven Evans is from Peter Hitchens's blog. I suggested he come over here because the format at Hitchens's blog, with excessive moderation (due to Mail on Sunday policies and British law, not Hitchens himself), and the fact it isn't somewhere primarily dedicated to philosophical and theological discussions. The substance of his contributions will measured if he sticks around for an active thread. This one is old now, and has ben ruined by SP.

      But, I'm sorry, you are just wrong about SP. As others have said, it doesn't matter whether he is a deliberate troll or doesn't realise how inane and silly his comments are. But he is a troll because there is no serious interaction and engagement with the guy, as has been shown time after time. If you have proper evidence it is worth engaging him, post it. Otherwise, I think we should heed Feser's call and stop engaging him completely.

      Delete
    7. John of Dorset October 23, 2017 at 9:03 PM

      "doesn't realise how inane and silly his comments are. "
      It would be *so much* more convincing if you refuted SP's arguments rather than just claimed without reason they are "inane and silly". Psychologists refer to this as projection.

      "Otherwise, I think we should heed Feser's call and stop engaging him completely."
      Yes, don't address criticisms, ignore them. This is the difference between dogma and science. Don't address the criticisms, and keep buying the crank's book, just like the crank tells you to;)

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    8. Steven,

      Do you deny there are such things as trolls? People it is absolutely futile to interact with because no worthwhile discussion is possible with them? If you don't deny this, then it is a matter of a judgment call whether or not SP is a troll or not. Most people who have interacted with him have judged him to be a troll. You are new here, but I can say this isn't how atheists are usually treated here. Like much internet debate, it often gets heated and tempers flair, but atheist posters are usually unanimously written off as trolls, like SP. At least one (previously) sceptical poster, Dguller, was well-valued around here, and has been much missed since he stopped posting.

      Note, also, I specifically defended you from immediate accusations of trolling. Whether you agree with my judgment call or not, I don't think it is fair to say I'm not being anything but sincere.

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    9. Correction: Atheist posters are not usually unanimously written off as trolls.

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    10. John of Dorset

      Whatever happened to duller?

      Stardusty Pysche is undoubtedly a troll, proudly asserting refutations of his own misunderstandings of AT philosophy. He insists he has studied and need not read any of the million posts, articles, or books by Feser that answer his objection (excuse the slight hyperbole) but infact SDP is serially obtuse. His problem is not that he knows nothing but that he knows so much that just isn’t so (excuse me mangling Reagan).

      Now Steven Evans has chutzpah, I’ll grant. But his manners are appalling. No doubt - to him - it feels like he’s entered the lions’ den solo and is fearlessly engaging foes that are programmed to tear men like him into meat. Well, no - he has entered an unmoderated comment box and decided to dismiss learned and accomplished men as “dishonest cranks.” It doesn’t take courage. It’s just rude. And repeatedly mis-spelling your host’s name isn’t a cute affectation - yes, it shows how little Feser means to you but it’s not novel or clever.

      But beyond the poor manners, the content of Steven’s comments isn’t impressive. He’s argues with himself, seems to know little of the background, and is in too much of a hurry to post dismissive epithets to actually read what’s been said. (E.g., Aquinas famously didn’t think one could prove whether the Universe always existed or had a beginning in time. When this was pointed out, Steven took it to mean: any argument from Aquinas ”assumes the universe is created without any justification. This is simply not known.” and when it was pointed out this plainly isn’t what was meant, Steven asserted that: ”the "argument" assumes that the universe is eternal without any justification. This is simply not known currently[.]” When it’s pointed out yet again that he has misunderstood Steven’s response is: ”Sure. But it is not currently known whether the visible universe had a temporal beginning or not.” I mean, where do you go from there? He’s incapable of accepting that his assumptions about the very thing he’s criticising are wrong. Functionally and stylistically how does that differ from a troll?

      Professor Feser and many of the regular commenters here have repeatedly explained to Stardusty where he’s gone wrong. Now Steven may be new here but he’s not blazing a trail. If engagement is the real aim, Steven only has to read - actually read - any of Feser’s books or seek out the relevant posts here. Instead he’s turning up, getting hostile, and demanding an education. And Steven is only the most recent of countless troll-like entities to do so. I’m sure Feser and the regulars here could explain it all again just for him, but at this point they may be out of puppets and crayons.

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    11. I think there is a difference between the two. Steven is definitely a common type of gnu, aggressively arrogant and ignorant. He is a particularly virulent instance of this type. This type does often end up trolling.

      But SP is something else. There is no engagement with him at all. He posts a lot yet fundamentally is undertaking a monologue. There's a reason he's been compared to Santi. Steve may end up as bad, but at the moment he doesn't seem in the same league.

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  19. https://feserismisnotthomism.wordpress.com/

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    1. Doc AngelicOctober 23, 2017 at 8:53 AM

      That's an awful lot of unjustified waffle. Can you provide a reason to think the universe was created, and a reason to think the purported creator was the fictional biblical character "God"? If not, your beliefs are irrational, which is just a posh word for crazy;)

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    2. If you are interested in reasons then I suggest that you read Dr Feser's work. Since you seem to be of a sensative dispostion I would suggest you start with "Aquinas a Beginner's Guide" and then once you have read and re-read the book (trust me with philosophy you need to) I would perhaps start on Scholastic Metaphysics.

      After you have understood the metaphysical background I would suggest "The Son Also Rises" by Professor William Lane Craig which give a inductive defence of the Resurrection.

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    3. Just another mad CatholicOctober 23, 2017 at 10:39 AM

      I am saying that there are no reasons to think the universe had a creator, nor any reason to link the ficitional biblical character "God" to the origin of the universe. Making claims about cause and effect beyond what has been observed is simply speculation.
      On the subject of the "Resurrection", medical science tells us it is not possible for a human to come back to life after being dead for 2 days.
      So you have no reasons to think the universe had a creator, no reasons to connect the fictional biblical character "God" to the origin of the universe, and the whole of medical science telling you that the story of the "Resurrection" is nonsense.

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    4. You wanted reasons..... I gave you a list of introductory resources and you call me crazy. I name you insanus troglodytam.

      Now as much as I would like to spend my time trading witty repartee I don't have the time (undergrad papers to mark, a wedding to arrange, skype call with the smouldering particle physicist I'm engaged to) and you most certainly don't have the wit, good day.

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    5. Just another mad Catholic October 23, 2017 at 8:16 PM

      " the smouldering particle physicist I'm engaged to) "
      --During our skype perhaps you could ask her expert opinion:

      For an object in uniform linear motion is a force being continuously applied to it by another?

      If she says yes to that question she is not the expert particle physicist you imagine her to be.

      If she says no to that question your A-T worldview is in shambles.

      Have you the courage to ask the question?

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    6. well SDP she has a first (undergrad) in Physics from Oxford, a Masters from Caltech and a Doctorate from Cambridge. Now its my understanding that they don't hand out degrees like sweeties from any of those institutions.

      I name you a second example of insanus troglodytam.

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    7. Just another mad CatholicOctober 23, 2017 at 8:16 PM

      "You wanted reasons..... "
      Assuming that the chain of cause and effect goes beyond what is observed, and in particular beyond what looks like a space-time singularity, randomly identifying the origin of this chain with the fictional biblical character "God", and thinking a human being can come back to life after being dead for 2 days, are not reasons, are they? They are assumptions, and 2 of them are nonsense.

      "Now as much as I would like to spend my time trading witty repartee I don't have the time (undergrad papers to mark, a wedding to arrange, skype call with the smouldering particle physicist I'm engaged to) and you most certainly don't have the wit, good day. "
      Is this a lame attempt at an appeal to your own authority? How can you mark undergrad papers if you think people can come back to life after being dead for 2 days - I trust you're teaching a mickey mouse subject and not anything important. I don't see any reasons in here. Surely you could just quickly paraphrase them if you actually had any...

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    8. Just another mad Catholic October 23, 2017 at 8:40 PM

      "well SDP she has a first (undergrad) in Physics from Oxford, a Masters from Caltech and a Doctorate from Cambridge.
      --You lack the courage to ask her the question.


      " Now its my understanding that they don't hand out degrees like sweeties from any of those institutions."
      --You lack the courage to ask her the question.

      "I name you a second example of insanus troglodytam."
      --You lack the courage to ask her the question.

      Delete
  20. Stephen


    I make no appeal to my own authority as I am not a professional Philosopher of Religion. I teach Economics and am currently conducting academic research looking into the impact of technology on the economic growth of developing countries. For example the growth of the futures market in communist Vietnam and how it is being utilised by the farming community to improve income security. Now whilst you may not think the subject of much importance I assure that it is not 'Mickey mouse'. Furthermore examples of my work have been published in the Economist and the Financial Times, and I have contributed to work appearing in peer reviewed journals that you haven't even heard of.

    Now assuming you retain even a semblance of good will, do not think it suffices to mouth off about what a load of idiots religious believers are; men such as Graham Oppy and Quentin Smith whilst disagreeing with their theistic counterparts in the world of philosophy at least deign to treat their arguments seriously and worthy of reflection. Also it does your side no favours to engage in straight personal abuse.

    I have not given reasons, simply because as a layman in philosophy of religion I don't think that I am the best person to defend them. I signposted three popular level introductions (To which I would add Alvin Plantaga's " Where the Conflict Really Lies") and given my level of knowledge that is the most I am prepared to do. That is not 'ducking the question', in academic terms it is no different to my Fiancé recommending Lewis Wolperts "Developmental Biology A very short introduction" to someone who wanted to know more about the subject on which she knows a little, but not much, given that it's not her area of study.

    SDP

    go away you horrible little man. I don't lack the courage for anything, more to the point if you'd actually read Dr Feser's work you would know that he's already dealt with the question you raised, moreover to the satisfaction of the Rev Dr Andrew Pinsent who I talked to last weekend about the interaction of A-T Metaphysics and contemporary particle physics.

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    1. "SDP
      go away you horrible little man"
      --You lack the courage to ask her the question.

      **For an object in uniform linear motion is a force being continuously applied to it by another?**

      You love your fiance with great depth, I have no reason to doubt. You respect her intellect, it is plain.

      Have you the the courage to ask her the question?

      Are you a man?

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    2. Just another mad Catholic October 23, 2017 at 10:48 PM

      "and I have contributed to work appearing in peer reviewed journals that you haven't even heard of."
      Exactly.

      "men such as Graham Oppy and Quentin Smith whilst disagreeing with their theistic counterparts in the world of philosophy at least deign to treat their arguments seriously"
      "Arguments" which are clearly assumptions do not need to be treated seriously. Assuming cause and effect goes beyond what has been observed, even beyond the posited space-time singularity, and ignoring the possibility that quantum phenomena may imply cause and effect is an emergent phenomenon, does not make an argument. And identifying the origin of the assumed chain of cause and effect with the fictional biblical character, "God", is completely random and serves only to reveal the motivation of the cranks who churn out this nonsense - (i) to rationalise a primitive "religion" (ii) to make money flogging crank books to gullible people like you.

      "I have not given reasons, simply because as a layman in philosophy of religion I don't think that I am the best person to defend them"
      I accept your point in general, but while it does apply to fields containing knowledge like physics and even economics, it does not apply to "philosophy of religion". Feser is simply assuming there are causes there without any reason to think so, and utterly bizarrely identifying the first/prime cause with the fictional biblical character named "God" in a pile of dusty scrolls found in caves near the Dead Sea. It's palpable nonsense. And if you are a "believer" why can't you defend your "beliefs"? Or do you "believe" that Feser's arguments support your "beliefs" without understanding them? I may not know all the ins and outs of quantum mechanics, presumably much less than your "smouldering" OxCalBridge fiancee, but I can point to your computer which functions based on quantum tunnelling of electrons billions of times a second.

      What are your reasons for thinking the universe had a creator, and that creator being linked to the Bible via parenting Jesus Christ? If you don't have any reasons then your position is irrational, by definition. How can you possibly think as a sane adult that someone can come back to life after being dead for 2 days?

      I will honestly tell you 2 things: (i) if I ever heard an argument that showed the universe was created, I would be more than happy to accept it. But there are none, and if there were any they would be in the public domain, and all rational people would agree it was a valid argument/reason. (ii) I am not surprised that cranks like Craig, Feser and Hart Bentley churn out these meaningless sophistries, since financially they do well out of it (see Craig's expensive orthodentist work;), but why does someone clearly not completely dim like you believe things without reasons? That is intriguing to me.

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    3. Just another mad CatholicOctober 23, 2017 at 10:48 PM

      "moreover to the satisfaction of the Rev Dr Andrew Pinsent "
      Oh come on, JAMC, the guy's a Rev. Have you never come across the concept of "vested interests" while researching and publishing in obscure economics journals which nobody reads? You like your echo chambers, don't you?

      "who I talked to last weekend"
      Is all this name-dropping because of your anxiety about being considered "clever"?

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    4. Steven

      Putting the word arguments in scare-quotes doesn’t refute any argument(s). Similarly powerless is calling proofs assumptions and then listing all the assumptions you wish someone had made but didn't, never has, and would never need. You’ve shown above that you think Aquinas and Feser assume all sorts of things that they don’t (and you showed at the same time that you’re a very careless reader.)

      But why do you ask for “reasons for thinking” one thing or another, or question JAMCath’s sanity, when your own position is that cause and effect may just be an emergent phenomenon? I mean you may not have thought this all the way through but good luck demonstrating reason or sanity when you ditch cause and effect.

      You claimed that you ”don’t particularly have a “worldview””; sorry, but this isn’t a thing about which you get to be neutral. You clearly have a worldview full of assumptions; you’re just not self-aware enough to recognise that you do. And without that recognition you can’t inoculate yourself from that worldview’s derangements, such as thinking quantum phenomena by themselves imply cause and effect isn’t real - no, there are an unspoken set of assumptions that are doing the work which, if they deny cause and effect, are irrational.

      Physicians and pharmacists can make a lot of stuff that demonstrably works without really understanding physics, or how their treatments are operating at a quantum level. That doesn’t mean physics is unnecessary full stop; it's apparently quite useful in making a working computer. Whereas metaphysics is not - but just the same only wilful ignorance would dismiss it.

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  21. @ SDP re Oct. 23, 7:31:

    I agree with your contrast between your #1 and #2 views of the motion of a body through space. To refute Feser, you need to expand your conception of "motion," because Feser concedes the discoveries of physics since Galileo. Feser is working from Aristotle's and Aquinas' understanding of "motion" as, fundamentally, change. Aristotle lays down three big motions in nature: locomotion, alteration, and growth/decay. Feser will just reply that any change has to be effected by some cause, and that there are other changes besides locomotion in any state of affairs, so there's always something requiring the Prime Mover to keep the change going.

    I think there are problems with the Ways. A Catholic philosophy prof I was speaking with on Saturday said he thinks the Five Ways should be dropped and Aquinas' proof from De Esse et Essentia should be the one used to prove God. Feser is still trying get mileage out of the Ways, but nailing him with Galileo and Newton isn't sufficient.

    I have seen others on other boards make the argument, which you made recently, that a per se ordered series of causes just collapses into an accidentally ordered series of causes if we step back from the macro level. The example came up of a musician's playing an instrument, and I don't recall that you really dealt with it except to refer people to the quantum level. I don't think that move sufficiently explains the production of the music by the musician, but maybe it does - seems to need to be demonstrated, though.

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    1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the argument from De Ente et Essentia is the thomistic argument included in Five Proofs.

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  22. Now we have two trolls instead of one...

    There must be a chamber in Hell just like this: being hounded on both sides by the ignorant, noisy chatter of two idiots.

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