Saturday, February 24, 2018

Carrier on Five Proofs


In an article at his blog, pop atheist writer Richard Carrier grandly claims to have “debunked!” (exclamation point in the original) Five Proofs of the Existence of God.  It’s a bizarrely incompetent performance.  To say that Carrier attacks straw men would be an insult to straw men, which usually bear at least a crude resemblance to the argument under consideration.  They are also usually at least intelligible.  By contrast, consider this paragraph from the beginning of Carrier’s discussion of the Aristotelian proof:

Really, the most nothingly nothing you can have without facing a logical contradiction, is the absence of everything except logically contradictory states of affairs.  And that means everything.  Including gods, laws of physics, rules, objects, minds, or extensions of space or time.  And by Feser’s own reasoning, the absence of everything except logically contradictory states of affairs entails the presence of every logically necessary thing.  And nothing else.  The absence of everything but logical contradictions is the same thing as the presence of only the logically necessary.  Since if some entity’s existence is logically necessary, by definition its absence would entail a logical contradiction.  That’s literally what “logically necessary” means.

End quote.  If, after fewer than two or three readings, you have the remotest idea what the hell Carrier is going on about here, you are a sharper man than I am.  Certainly it has nothing at all to do with the Aristotelian proof.  Yet Carrier goes on for paragraph after paragraph of this gobbledygook. 

As near as I can tell after reading and rereading those mind-numbingly obscure passages, what Carrier is criticizing is an argument that tries to show that God is the cause of the universe arising from nothing.  And as near as I can tell, his objection is something to the effect that if we think carefully about what a “nothing-state” would be, we will see that that theistic conclusion isn’t warranted.  Other scenarios, such as a multiverse scenario, are no less likely or even more likely.  Of course, this has, again, absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what the Aristotelian proof actually says, and so Carrier’s objection would be completely irrelevant even if it were at all clear what that objection is.  Carrier’s readers will learn as much about what my Aristotelian argument actually says as they would if they’d read an automotive repair manual instead.  Only that would have been more lucid and interesting reading.

Here, Carrier seems to be making a mistake common to so many pop atheist writers and amateur philosophers, viz. attacking some argument he thinks he knows something about and feels confident he can refute, instead of what his opponent actually said.  In this case, he appears fixated on the idea that causal arguments for God are essentially attempts to answer the question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” and that they all assume that there could at least in principle have been nothing.  As anyone knows who has actually read my book (as opposed to reading weird things into my book), that is nowhere close to how any of my arguments proceed.  In fact, I explicitly say in the book (at p. 155) that that is a bad way to frame the issue and that in my view there could not in principle have been nothing. 

In response to the argument I actually gave for the existence of a purely actual actualizer (what Aristotle calls the Unmoved Mover), Carrier has absolutely nothing to say.  He is very slightly better when responding to the arguments I gave for ascribing the divine attributes to the purely actual actualizer.  But only insofar as this time he responds, at least initially, to something I really did write.  Discussing my argument for attributing omniscience to the purely actual actualizer, Carrier begins:

[In] Feser’s formalization of this argument…   Premise  41… [says] “the forms or patterns manifest in all the things [the substrate] causes… can exist either in the concrete way in which they exist in individual particular things, or in the abstract way in which they exist in the thoughts of an intellect.”  This is a false dichotomy, otherwise known as a bifurcation fallacy.  It’s simply not true that those are the only two options.

End quote.  “Substrate” is Carrier’s word for the purely actual actualizer and not a good one, but let that pass.  The main problem with this is that I would be guilty of a false dichotomy here only if I did not consider, and give arguments to rule out, alternatives to the two I refer to in premise 41.  But of course, I do consider and give arguments to rule out alternatives to those two.  (Carrier is here quoting from a summary of the argument, and ignoring what I say earlier and later in the book.)  For example, I explicitly note at p. 209, in the context of discussing omniscience in greater detail, that a third alternative would be the Platonic view that forms exist in a third realm distinct from either concrete particular things or intellects.  This is after I spend much of chapter 3 arguing against this third, Platonic alternative.

Furthermore, Carrier distorts what I say here because he collapses two steps of the argument he’s quoting from (steps 40 and 41) into one, without telling the reader that that is what he is doing.  The argument up to step 40 establishes that the forms or patterns in question exist in the purely actual actualizer.  Since the purely actual actualizer is not an abstract entity, that already rules out a third alternative such as the Platonic realm.  Hence the thesis in step 41 is not the leap in logic that Carrier represents it as being.

Carrier, in any case, at this point unfortunately once again lapses back into vigorously attacking an argument that exists only in his imagination.  For some reason, he seems to think I am adopting something like Plato’s view.  (“Aristotle took Plato to task for the mistake Feser is making,” he writes.  No, I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about either.)   As if responding to something I had actually said, he writes: “It’s thus self-contradictory of Feser to insist that potential things must be ‘actualized’ somewhere,” and continues in this vein at obscure and tedious length.  Since I never said anything of the kind, and once again can barely make heads or tails of Carrier’s remarks other than to note that they bear no relation to any argument I actually gave, I will skip these further irrelevancies and move on to what seems to be Carrier’s main objection.

Carrier proposes that instead of the purely actual actualizer, it is plausibly just space-time that is the ultimate reality.  He thinks it could even be said to have the key divine attributes.  He doesn’t endorse this position himself, but thinks that it no less plausibly follows from my premises than my own conclusion does.

One problem with this is that, contrary to what Carrier supposes, this would not be consistent with atheism, but would amount to a kind of pantheism.  The main problem, though, is that space-time simply could not be the ultimate reality, for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who has read my book.  Space-time, for all Carrier has shown, is contingent.  Accordingly, its essence is distinct from its existence, it is by itself merely potential unless actualized, and thus it requires a cause distinct from it.  Since it is extended, it is also in the relevant sense material (contrary to what Carrier asserts) and is composite rather than simple (contrary to what Carrier asserts).  Of course, Carrier would reject these claims and the philosophical arguments I deploy in order to defend them, but the point is that he gives absolutely no non-question-begging reason to reject them.

There are plenty of other foolish remarks.  For example, Carrier claims that the Aristotelian notions I deploy are “obsolete” and accuses me of “ignoring the sciences.”  But he never tells us exactly why the notions in question are obsolete or exactly what is the relevant scientific evidence that I ignore.  And in fact, at pp. 43-60 I explicitly address the various scientific objections (from Newton, from quantum mechanics, from relativity, etc.) that might be raised against the Aristotelian proof and I explicitly address the charge that the argument presupposes obsolete Aristotelian scientific ideas and show that it has no force.  Carrier says nothing in response to these points.

Carrier repeatedly asserts that my arguments must be non-starters because they are metaphysical rather than scientific.  But of course, throughout the book I defend the claim that science is not the only rational form of inquiry.  For example, at pp. 273-285 I explicitly argue against the scientism that Carrier simply takes for granted.  He has nothing to say in response to those arguments either.

Carrier alleges that the last chapter of my book, wherein I respond to the standard general objections to the project of natural theology, “only ‘succeeds’ by omitting everything that actually undermines his conclusions.”  But not only does he give no actual examples of objections I ignore that undermine my conclusions, he explicitly declines to respond to anything I say in that chapter, claiming that “it won’t serve any function” to do so.  (Evidently, responding to what an author actually wrote is not in Carrier’s view a “function” of a book review.)

Carrier characterizes the purely actual actualizer as “self-actualizing” and says that the intelligence I attribute to the purely actual actualizer is an “organized complexity.”  This is cringe-makingly incompetent, for of course, no Aristotelian or Thomist would ever say such things.  The divine intellect, being absolutely simple, is the opposite of complex, and God’s being purely actual entails that he is not actualized at all, let alone “self-”actualized.  Such basic errors would by themselves suffice to show that Carrier simply doesn’t know what he is talking about, if that weren’t blindingly obvious already. 

My favorite piece of Carrier incompetence is this:

Though there is a lot there of interest if you want to explore Feser’s theology – including a really bizarre, sexist argument for God being a man (around pages 246-57).

End quote.  First of all, the argument he’s referring to is actually at pp. 246-48.  Second, of course I do not argue that God is a “man.”  In fact I explicitly say at pp. 246-7 that “since [God] is not a human being, he is not literally either a man or a woman.  He is sexless” (emphasis added).  Rather, I argue for the appropriateness of using masculine language in a non-univocal way when speaking of God.  Third, I do give actual arguments, which Carrier simply ignores.  Fourth, of course Carrier couldn’t care less about all that, but is just interested in throwing out some red meat to the SJW crowd. 

The rest is trash talk (“He’s done.  Cooked,” “100% bullshit,” etc.), central casting New Atheist straw men (“Giant Ghost hypothesis”), and relentless and relentlessly question-begging dime-store scientism.  Nothing intellectually serious.

It is hard to believe that Carrier actually read Five Proofs through, but I certainly did not bother to read the rest of his critique, judging that if what he has to say about the Aristotelian proof is this awful, it would be a waste of time and energy to proceed any further.  If any reader has bothered to read it and found some gold among the dross, feel free to call our attention to it in the combox below.

157 comments:

  1. "Here, Carrier seems to be making a mistake common to so many pop atheist writers and amateur philosophers, viz. attacking some argument he thinks he knows something about and feels confident he can refute, instead of what his opponent actually said.  In this case, he appears fixated on the idea that causal arguments for God are essentially attempts to answer the question “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

    Nope. Amateur philosophy doesn't excuse Rich from getting that from the Augustinian argument!

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  2. Hat tip to the sinking aircraft carrier

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  3. I remember WLC noting that he was something of an idol for the younger generation of atheists around the time they had a debate.

    He has a PHD in ancient history so at least was someone to take seriously when it comes to the historical aspect of the NT. His branching out into more general atheist apologetics seems to have been something of a flop. This adds fuel to that fire.

    I remember when Luke Barnes spent a good few posts over at his blog walking him through his mistakes with Bayes theorem (if I'm not mistaken, he had written a *book* on history and Bayes theorem)

    I can't see why he still has a following? Haven't most internet atheists moved last scientist yet?

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    1. He has a PHD in ancient history so at least was someone to take seriously when it comes to the historical aspect of the NT.

      You would think so but... NO.

      First he majored in Greco-Roman Philosophy and religion and his PhD was on "Attitudes Toward the Natural Philosopher in the
      Early Roman Empire (100 B.C. to 313 A.D.)" (from his CV).

      Frankly someone who has an M.Phil on philsophy specializing on Greece and Rome and not knowing anything about Platonism and Aristotelianism (as he shows) sounds to me either he committed fraud or that the faculty at Columbia are total idiots. Or both. One of them (W.V. Harris) sexually harrasses students...

      His "research experience" (haha) is (again from his CV:
      "Extensive library use at universities and seminaries, digital databases (esp. Thesaurus Linguae
      Graecae, Brepols Latin Texts, L’Année Philologique), artifact examination and photographing at the
      British Museum, papyrus and manuscript analysis, and personal consultation with relevant experts."

      LOL

      That sounds the research experience of an high school students almost.

      So no, Carrier is NOT an expert in any aspect of NT research.

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    2. The views he takes about much of what he writes on history, especially new testameng history, are fringe and not even taken seriously by a majority of scholars, however. He has been called out by other atheists, even:

      https://historyforatheists.com/2016/07/richard-carrier-is-displeased/

      His abysmal critique of Feser's book just damages his credibility even further. What type of shit is that, seriously.

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    3. Carrier's method of critiquing the bible is literary criticism instead of using historical evidence. He just insists that what is written in the scriptures is just a set of literary devices meant to symbolize some theological truths and therefore none of these writings can describe historical events.He says that all references to Jesus taking the sins of the world upon himself are just references to the Jewish practice of placing the sins of the community onto a goat and then releasing the goat. This is an absurd method of historical analysis.

      Carrier cannot possibly be called a historian because he does not engage in any historical research.

      It would be more accurate to call him a history buff who wants to eliminate history instead of study it.

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    4. Actually, Carrier knows nothing about NT history. His degree is in Roman history, not first century Jewish history of early Christian history. Also, his claim that Jesus never existed proves conclusively his ignorance of the subject. If he had been trained in NT history, he would know not to make such absurd claims. I'm a non-Christian myself, so I don't have an axe to grind here. I just think that atheists who deny the existence of Jesus of Nazareth are fools. More importantly, they harm the study of history by imposing their own ideology upon the interpretation of history. There's already been enough abuse of history in the modern era. Carrier does not deserve to be taken seriously so long as he maintains his view on this subject. Even historically literate atheists acknowledge that Carrier is a crank. The problem is there aren't many historically literate atheists on the internet, and internet atheists tend to dismiss the claims/arguments of anyone who is not themselves an atheist.

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    5. As a historically literate non-Christian, I would love to hear your opinion on the explanation of the early Church in light of the claim of the resurrection. Which of William Lane Craig, Peter Kreeft, etc. explanations do you accept? (Swoon theory, Conspiracy Theory, Hallucination theory, Myth theory) or do you propose another hypothesis?

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    6. Dr. Bart Ehrman, a genuine NT scholar, agnostic, and author of "Did Jesus Exist?" has also tangled with and dismissed Carrier.

      https://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to-richard-carrier/

      So, when Carrier will learn to stay on the porch is anyone's guess, but he clearly can't run with the big dogs.

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  4. But Ed, as Carrier has said:

    "That is the function of my writing. It ends all rational debate. Thus all continuing debate becomes demonstrably irrational."

    So I'm quite disappointed that you decided to engage Carrier at all; as Carrier has obviously and irrefutably demonstrated, such an engagement is irrational. There is no hope left for classical theism. Aristotle, Aquinas, Leibniz, etc. are simply no match for the intellectual firepower Carrier brings to bear.

    https://imgur.com/fXH2kRs

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  5. "contrary to what Carrier supposes, this would not be consistent with atheism, but would amount to a kind of pantheism."

    Atheism is the view that there is no God, and God is an omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect being. Hence, as long as one denies that God exists, one IS an atheist. I believe in Brahman, but I'm still an atheist. Let's not confuse atheism with materialism or naturalism.

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    1. So you hold that atheism and pantheism are compatible?

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    2. Wrong. Counterexample: open theism is not atheism.

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    3. Dude Classic Theists don't really believe God is "morally good" at least not in the unequivocal way a human being is morally good.

      For us God is metaphysically and onto-logically good but not "morally good".

      Theistic Personalism sucks dude more then anything that has sucked before & that include Paulie Shore films or any sentience with the words "Perez Hilton" in them.

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    4. Go away.

      OlePle, everyone, don't feed this particularly virulent and idiotic troll. He is the SP wannabe who Feser banned.

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    5. The atheists themselves will tell you that atheists do not believe in ANY sort of god. that would include a pantheistic one.

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  6. Arguing for Space-Time as the necessary being of cosmological arguments is a far better approach than virtually anything most atheists have done. (That is better than telling one to stop asking questions) Of course Carrier arguing for that is a different question...

    If one was to take such a theory then one must be willing to defend a very specific, maybe not even coherent ontological account of "Space-Time"
    a priori (technically speaking one will want a theory of Absolute Space and Absolute Time not Space-Time in the 4 dimensional block eternalist sense. If one were to argue for the latter, the idea that the block itself itself is necessary, then one must be willing to bite the bullet and accept modal collapse). Ironically it places far more a priori limits on what scientific theories are permissible than does most forms of theism.

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    1. How could one coherently defend Absolute Space and Absolute Time as necessary without modal collapse? I mean, setting aside specific reasons why physical beings can't be necessary in the relevant sense (parts and wholes, essence existence act potency, conceivability arguments, etc), I don't see how they can can plausibily count as an explanans for what we're seeking. Which is why Pruss and Gale conclude that the necessary being/explanans is God/an agent, because other explanations (conceptual, scientific) do not work while agential explanations do. Heck, absolute space and absolute time don't even seem like they could even be causally effective.

      I don't see it as a possibility (though it's slightly better than yelling brute facts)

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    2. Modal collapse just isn't a problem regardless of how one wants to characterize the necessary being.

      See Martin Lin's Rationalism and Necessitarianism:

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-0068.2011.00832.x/abstract

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    3. And it was a shocker to realize that Spinoza actually bit the bullet and accepted modal collapse. And we are supposed to think of him as this genius revolutionary philosopher.

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  7. "That is the function of my writing. It ends all rational debate. Thus all continuing debate becomes demonstrably irrational."

    I thought he was crawling off to his poly-amorous adventures for good, never to return.

    What a shame he's back; like some attention craving lunatic whose harrowing did not provide the climax he had anticipated. Hope he remembered to brush his teeth.

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  8. As I recall, Carrier was caught out in what has to be described as lying, by WLC; as Carrier made a vastly misleading assertion regarding the testimony status of women under Jewish law: through Carrier's insinuating (at the least) that a special case was the norm.

    I cannot see how after that, anyone would give Carrier any further benefit of the doubt or ever grant Carrier a presumption of good faith.

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  9. I notice he does not allow comments without being a "subscriber." Used to be he handled dissent by banning commenters he did not like, thus "omitting everything that actually undermines his conclusions."

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    1. Noticed that too. Tweeted instead (... https://twitter.com/M_Christianity/status/967611016619098112
      ...) and linked to this thread.

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  10. Another atheist giving Dawkins, Krauss, and Coyne a run for the money in being the most obtuse atheist of all. What an accomplishment!

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  11. it would be a waste of time and energy to proceed any further. If any reader has bothered to read it and found some gold among the dross, feel free to call our attention to it in the combox below.

    I would really recommend reading what he has to say to Thomistic proof. It would be informative for him if you respond to his points on that as he says some pretty bizarre things in that section but those seem to be common complaints against those arguments.

    Take a look at this for example.

    How did Feser [f**k] this up? Because he confuses someone being told an incomplete description of a thing, with actually being informed of its essence (as he defines it; remember, essences don’t really exist, so I’m moving around in the model in his head, not the one that exists in reality). A fully informed account of an entity’s essence would include when it exists or didn’t. It is essential to Hitler, for example, that he did not live in the 21st century. It is essential to Yoda, for example, that no one could ever have spoken to him—other than in fiction or pretense. You could not fully understand what “Hitler” or “Yoda” were if you weren’t informed of these facts. And just excluding that one piece of information, literally the most important one, from what you will arbitrarily classify as “an essence,” is just a semantic game. And semantic games can’t get you to any grand realizations in metaphysics.

    I wonder if he even completely grasps what essence is in the first place. I think he should be given a more detailed response because he might read that in better faith than the book.

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    1. It would be informative to him if Carrier was a rational person who listens to criticism.

      Unfortunately he only listens to himself. Pathetic.

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  12. Carrier is a Jesus Myth'er.

    Nuff said! They are the Young Earth Creationists of Atheism and twice as dull in the soft parts between their ears.

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    1. His book on it is awful. I read through it in preparation for a formal debate with Ken Humphreys. In the end, Carrier has the arrogance to say his research represents the present state of Jesus research.

      It was meant to make a major splash. It didn't even make a ripple.

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    2. "a formal debate with Ken Humphreys."

      Dude, why? I listened to his "debate" with Gary Habermas. Humphreys legitimately thought a McDonalds' menu was a valid comparison with Revelation 1 because each had about 600 words. The man is not intellectually competent to debate.

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    3. I know Gary very very well. He's a personal friend and I speak to him regularly and owe him a great deal.

      I did it because I was asked to. Someone wanted to do it on a podcast and I thought it was a good way to refute mythicism publicly and get some exposure for my own apologetics ministry.

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  13. I'm insulted, no references to entanglement, quantum non locality...... is it just me or is the quality of the atheist argument slipping?


    Seriously though in response to Carrier's points on String Theory and potentiality Dr Quantum theory himself Heisenberg was open to the idea of potentiality and just yesterday I read a paper linked to at Science News showing that Scientists are taking the idea of Potentiality seriously.

    As for Essences, clearly Carrier hasn't been reading any philosophy of science articles seriously.

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    1. I suppose you mean this howler:

      https://arxiv.org/pdf/1709.03595.pdf

      There is still no visible world in this ontology.

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  14. This isn't exactly the gold in the dross Dr. Feser asked about, but when I read:
    Really, the most nothingly nothing you can have without facing a logical contradiction, is the absence of everything except logically contradictory states of affairs. And that means everything. Including gods, laws of physics, rules, objects, minds, or extensions of space or time. And by Feser’s own reasoning, the absence of everything except logically contradictory states of affairs entails the presence of every logically necessary thing. And nothing else. The absence of everything but logical contradictions is the same thing as the presence of only the logically necessary. Since if some entity’s existence is logically necessary, by definition its absence would entail a logical contradiction. That’s literally what “logically necessary” means
    ... I got the impression that what he meant was something like "the closest you can get to absolutely nothing is a state of affairs where only logically necessary things exist." (Of course, this wouldn't be the first time I missed something that ruled out my supposed insight!) I don't believe it helps his case, and if I'm onto something here, it leaves me a bit worried--if it takes you about 120 words to say what only needs 19, there's probably some major slippage going on in your mind. On the other hand, perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised; if David Wood's "Good 'n' senseless without God" is anything to go by, then he never really was a clear thinker...

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    1. I followed the David Wood link (archived), to the review it linked to and am here to say that suggesting that Carrier "never really was a clear thinker" looks to be a classic understatement.

      The form of Carrier's blue monkeys argument, is as David Wood points out one of the most profoundly stupid pieces of writing passed off as argumentation ... no matter how flippantly intended ... one is likely to see.

      Wood's calls it "childish", and that description is charitable.


      "Richard draws an analogy between the absence of an observable divine hand and the absence of blue monkeys flying out of his butt. Just as we reject the idea of blue monkeys, so also we should reject the idea of God. Since this is an analogy, his conclusion about God can only be as strong as his conclusion about blue monkeys. But how strong is that conclusion? Richard says the fact that blue monkeys aren’t flying out of his butt is “sufficient reason” to conclude that blue monkeys don’t exist. The tremendous weakness of this argument should be obvious. Presumably, there are no monkeys of any color flying out of Richard’s butt. Are we to conclude that monkeys don’t exist? Neither are there fire trucks, books, planets, horses, or bees emerging from his butt. But all these things exist. " David Wood

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    2. Hi DNW,
      I can agree that that's a serious understatement on my part! But I suppose the English language can only say so much.
      Maybe I can find some more fitting terms in Websters...

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    3. Modern evaluations of whether there are authentically rational arguments for the existence of God tend to fall short for the simple reason that we fail to maintain the classical distinction between 'reason' and 'intellect'. Wolfgang Smith offers some insights on this point.

      philos-sophia.org/what-are-proofs-of-god

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  15. Now let's be sure. Are we talking about the polyamorous unemployed prominent internet blogger who's banned from Skepticon Richard Carrier? That Richard Carrier?

    But this can't be a refutation, because Richard Carrier is a world-renowned historian and philosopher. I know this because Richard Carrier says so. If Richard Carrier says something on a topic, well that settles it, the case is obviously closed because he's Richard Carrier.

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    1. And a Counter Rebel is going to learn about free will from such a man

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    2. Richard Carrier says it.
      I believe it.
      That settles it.

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  16. One thing about denying the PSR that I noticed is that it basically ends up stating that the existence of things is a brute fact.


    But if things exist as a matter of brute fact, then it follows necessarily that things can also pop into existence as a matter of brute fact as well.


    If PSR were rejected, then we would have to take seriously the possibility that a brick will form above our heads in the next 2 seconds and cause a painful unjury. To dismiss this possibility is to expect that such a thing won't happen, but if PSR is false then we literally cannot expect anything whatsoever. The possibility of something coming into existence for no reason and the failure of such a thing happening would be ontologically equal, and thus are to be taken with equal seriousness.


    IOW, we have to perpetually suspend judgement, and not even utter a sound, or wiggle a finger.


    Is this correct? If so, then this is an additional argument to accept PSR and believe that existence is rational.

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    1. +JoeD

      While I am not sure if this is correct, you certainly are not the first person to find it plausible. I'm not sure if am or am not allowed to link papers in the comments here, but if you search for Alexander Pruss' defense of the Leibnizian cosmological argument published in the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, this argument is discussed, fleshed out, and defended. Your own rendition of the argument lacks a few key premises that Pruss' argument has, which I think are important for the argument's success, but it certainly is — when fully developed — a powerful argument.

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    2. JoeD,

      That is the well-known empirical argument for PSR, but you've added an interesting consideration which I hadn't thought about before. If the existence of things can only be ultimately explained if PSR is true, then if PSR is false and since things exist, it has already been the case that things have popped up into existence unexplainably before. But then why only once? One could argue that this makes the present order we encounter even more bizarre.

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    3. @Miguel,


      The argument I'm making is actually independent of the empirical argument, since it doesn't rely on trying to claim that things appearing ex nihilo is to be expected if PSR is false.

      Rather, it only relies on the much weaker and even more obvious consequence that we ought to take seriously the idea that something could pop into existence to hurt us, and must take it just as seriously as the possibility that it won't pop into existence, since the 2 possibilities are necessarily ontologically equal.

      It is meant to show that our everyday positive intuitions about the world are completely unreliable and are to be rejected if one wants to take atheism seriously, since in everyday life we do not take seriously the idea that magic bricks can hurt us, an intuition that MUST NECESSARILY be discarded if one rejects PSR.

      It is thus different from Pruss's empirical argument because it reveals how we shouldn't expect absolutely anything if PSR is false, which would be the only response an atheist could give to defuse Pruss's argument, but which he cannot do to this argument.

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    4. @Miguel,


      then if PSR is false and since things exist, it has already been the case that things have popped up into existence unexplainably before. But then why only once?


      It's not just only once that things have popped into existence.


      Remember, things exist from moment to moment, and without something that preserves them in existence from moment to moment, every moment is an instance of something popping out of nothing as it were, or defying the void the that is.

      In other words, every moment that a thing exists is an instance of it popping into existence.

      And it's not just limited to one object, but every single existing object exists for no reason, and has thus popped into existence basically.


      I only worry that the former above observation relies on a discrete view of time, which entails that at every moment every thing is annihilated and replaced by a similar clone ex nihilo.


      That would be contrary to A-T, which views time as continous rather than discrete.


      But I think it's obvious that, if PSR is false, then every moment of a thing's existence is basically a moment of it defying the void and "popping out of nothing" as it were. We aren't postulating constant series of annihilations and ex nihilos.

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    5. It is another consequence that there cannot be an intelligible and defensible RATIO between the number of things with explanations and the number of things without explanations. The strong presumption in science that "we should look for a cause" would turn out to be sheer prejudice. It might be that there are exactly 4 things that are unexplainable, or ALL of the things other than the explanations we have already discovered are inherently unexplainable brute facts, or ANY number in between. The insistence on seeking explanations for facts would be nothing more than "that's your flavor of operating, but not mine" and inherently not defensible, because "there's no accounting for taste."

      Delete
    6. Without the PSR is there an a priori way of knowing that any given object is intelligible?

      How do we determine a posteriori the specific existential features of (or evidence for) brute-fact-edness?

      We’d have to start with the assumption that an object x is intelligible in order to seek an explanation for its existence, because if we didn’t start with that assumption there would be no motive to search, in fact it would be irrational to search. But, if we conclude that we have identified causes/reasons for object x and thereby demonstrate that object x is intelligible, aren’t we begging the question?

      So it seems there is no way to tell an intelligible object from a non-intelligible object and therefore no way to minimize the epistemic effects of denying the PSR?

      Delete
  17. It will be amusing to see if Carrier himself shows up here, but if he doesn't, we already know how he will respond.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2015/12/bringing-a-gun-to-a-review-fight.html

    ReplyDelete
  18. Carrier isn't any better at philosophy than he is at history, apparently. What made him think he was even qualified to undertake this review? Oh well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Historians ignore him, mathematicians laugh at his attempt to use Bayes theorem, and now philosophers get their chance to waste time responding to this guy.

      Delete
  19. I think Feser makes a strong case that we should all be mythicists in regard to Carrier's intellectual aptitude and honesty.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Based on that confused mess he wrote about logically necessary beings, does Richard Carrier believe that the absence of a contingent being (such as a rock) = the existence of every single thing except rocks, including gods, laws of physics, objects, unicorns, and so on?

    So Richard Carrier believes that in every possible world in which there are no rocks, this means the possible world has unicorns in it?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wow, Carrier's essay is way worse even than the aborted series at Secular Outpost. But then Carrier is so far gone as to argue that Jesus of Nazareth didn't even exist. Which just goes to show he doesn't actually give a shit about Ockham's Razor.

    To be fair, Carrier did write a really interesting article on how to religion and the supernatural. Even if you disagree, it's well worth engaging with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bowen spent weeks chasing his tail on trivialities before declaring the act/potency distinction incoherent, because he didn't understand it. Then he switched to attacking other apologists. Very disappointing.

      Delete
  22. Dr. Feser, you wasted way, way too much energy and space on this guy.

    “End quote. If, after fewer than two or three readings, you have the remotest idea what the hell Carrier is going on about here, you are a sharper man than I am.”

    You really needed to make a full stop here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's worth doing. The guy does command an audience and unanswered he's likely to deceive many people.

      Delete
  23. https://twitter.com/M_Christianity/status/967611016619098112

    ReplyDelete
  24. What if the processes involved in the ultimate affair of esoteric religion and spirituality are fundamentally a physiological, biological, and evolutionary matter. The process that is true religious life has nothing to do with any of the cosmological, mythological or metaphysical nonsense through which popular institutional religion is communicated in the world. Religion is a psycho-physical matter, fundamentally.

    All human beings are always basically dealing with the structures of their body-mind, their brain, their nervous system. Therefore, whatever is called religion should be examined in terms of what it does to ones brain, nervous system, emotional state, and the body itself.
    True religion is a specific activity which, if it is actually practiced, transforms you into a benign personality. If you are not in this moment a benign personality, you are not practicing true religion. You are only consoling yourself in some conventional fashion.
    If you are not becoming a more radiant, loving, benign, happy person, you are not practicing true religion. If you are not bringing order to your life, if you are not becoming tranquil and more capable of existing in a higher, pleasurable state, then you are not practicing true religion, because the process that is true religion is about literally transforming the body-mind in the process of love-surrender to the Living Divine Being.

    Therefore, religion must be judged in psycho-physiological terms, in factual terms,real,actual,living,human terms. What is their quality of existence? What do they actually do? (not say). If you see people practicing some religious path and they look happy, and they are healthy, and they are sane, and they are also intelligent, and their experience is also real and also extraordinary, then naturally they are attractive and then there is some value in listening to them and talking to them. They must be doing something appropriate or lawful at some level if they are in such a good state. But if you see a group of crazy fanatical people, who call themselves true believers but who have no clarity, no humanity, no love, no ability to inspect and transcend themselves, then you can know that, whatever they are doing, they are not practicing anything more profound than perhaps mechanically feeling their own insides or mumbling the usual self-serving belief in the Myth of Jesus.

    ReplyDelete
  25. After our last debate a year ago, Carrier wrote a "review" of my Jesus is No Myth: The Fingerprints of God on the Gospels in which he managed, by my count, 119 facts about that book, including its thesis.

    http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2017/02/on-literacy-of-richard-carrier.html

    I think, Ed, you got off pretty lightly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your book was an excellent refutation of Carrier's nonsense.

      Delete
  26. Carrier, given his polyamorous proclivities, ironically, may be a carrier: https://winteryknight.com/2015/04/30/atheist-richard-carrier-who-divorced-his-wife-to-go-polyamorous-seeks-new-sex-partner/

    ReplyDelete
  27. So I used to think Carrier was more interest than the other New Atheists. At least he had some interesting things to say about the use of Bayes in crafting probabilistic arguments for historical phenomena? Right?

    I'm now fairly certain he's actually among the worst of the lot. I read this "critique" of Five Proofs, as well as his exchanges with Luke Barnes and William Briggs. The man is simply a liar.

    He accuses critics of horrendously misrepresenting his arguments when these same critics block quote text from Carrier's original papers and address specific premises and assumptions stated by Carrier himself.

    Sophism dressed up in mathematical garb is sophism nevertheless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Luke Barnes took him to school on BT.

      Delete
    2. And Carrier, predictably, accused Barnes of not understanding him.

      Delete
    3. Carrier is delusional and arrogant.
      After I read his recent exchanges with New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado I became fully convinced he suffers from some mental issue:

      https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/gee-dr-carrier-youre-really-upset/

      It would be a waist of time for Feser to interact with Carrier. Bart Ehrman, Luke Barnes, Tim O' Neil, James McGrath, Thom Stark and a host of others have tried.

      Delete
  28. I honestly think Dr. Feser should make it a point to try and respond more deeply to this review. If he gets into a back and forth with Carrier so be it. He can stop whenever he wants. The question must be answered: How badly does Richard Carrier misunderstand scholastic philosophy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you think Carrier's critique has merit?

      Delete
  29. I tried reading Carrier's article before reading Feser's. I had to laugh because I stopped reading at the same point Feser did. It was clear to me that Carrier was not attempting to engage Feser's arguments in any real way.

    For example, his initial discussion of the Aristotelian proof does not even mention the key points of linear versus hierarchical series of changes. Perhaps he just got confused and skipped that part, as he says

    The handwave at the end there, from the major premise to the conclusion, involves some convoluted step of reasoning about there having to be some actual thing that actualizes change, which itself is not actualized by anything else—something “self-actualizing.” Aristotle’s “Unmoved Mover.”

    Maybe he includes linear and hierarchical causal series in his convoluted step of reasoning . This clearly shows he did not take the time to actually understand the argument. Because his following paragraph on "the most nothingly nothing you can have without facing a logical contradiction" has absolutely nothing to do with anything Feser actually argues. Nor does String theory and the multiverse, which Feser is perfectly willing to hypothetically allow for in his argument.

    Honestly, this reminds me of the Jordan Peterson interview with Cathy Newman, where Cathy spends her time engaging in projections rather than engaging in what Jordan actually said. I can just imagine Carrier saying "So what you are saying is that the most nothingly nothing you can have without facing a logical contradiction...." followed by Feser "...this has, again, absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what the Aristotelian proof actually says.

    This kind of attitude is so prevalent among new atheist types that there must be some kind of underlying psychological pathology at work to explain why this is happening. Perhaps the mechanisms at work can just as easily appear in religious people, but wow, the new athiests are certainly owning it here.

    ReplyDelete
  30. How are the Five Proofs like women?

    Richard Carrier shouldn't be allowed anywhere near 'em.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Dr. Feser,

    Thanks for responding to Dr. Carrier's "debunking" of your work. I know it may seem like replies like these are not always worth your time, but I contend that they are for a few reasons:

    1) They show that just because someone is smart does not mean they will criticize arguments accurately. Carrier is a sharp guy, and as you show, he misses the mark in his criticisms of the Aristotelian Proof.

    2) Responses like these build confidence in theists. If this is the best that intelligent atheists have to say about the arguments, that shows we can have confidence in these Five Proofs.

    Your labor here is very helpful to us regular readers of your work.

    Here's another point from Carrier's response you may want to reply to:

    Similarly, “essences” don’t exist. And we’ve long known they don’t exist. That’s why they are no longer used in any scientific theory. But other phenomena that “essences” were a failed attempt to explain, do exist. This is why the Wikipedia article on “Essences” never once mentions any scientific use or application of the term. And why the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a whole section titled Death of Essentialism. Set theory has replaced the entire concept.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, essentially, nothing has an essence. Got it!

      Delete
  32. Ed,

    According to the review, Carrier seems to think your Aristotelian Realism about abstract objects has many problems and supposedly offers a better version in his new book. Maybe it's worth a blogposts to address any misunderstandings and also review his version?

    Just an idea.

    ReplyDelete
  33. This is the article Carrier wrote after the one Ed is critiquing, for whatever that's worth...

    https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13770

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Because all we need show is that there is no reason to believe it’s conscious. No matter what it may turn out to be. Theists are the one making the claim that bears the burden of evidence. They are the ones insisting we ought to believe it can think. And cares about our future. And will give us nice eternal homes to live in after we dissolve."

      He literally ignored the arguments for the necessary being to be personal.

      I also didn't see how he explained universal properties. The blog post is also soaked in scientism. "Feser doesn't predict this . . . "

      Waste of time

      Delete
    2. Anonymous: This is the article Carrier wrote after the one Ed is critiquing, for whatever that's worth

      …the paper it's printed on?

      Delete
    3. Or, more properly, worth the superstring waves the electrons were coasting on.

      Here's are two things that Feser's "theory" predicts that superstring theory does not: consciousness, and morality. Even some atheist scientists are getting worried that their materialistic accounts are not getting any closer to successfully accounting for consciousness than before.

      Delete
    4. Tony: Or, more properly, worth the superstring waves the electrons were coasting on.

      Heh. (Of course, I was assuming nobody actually bothered to print it out, but it's possible someone needed to wrap some fish.)

      Even some atheist scientists are getting worried that their materialistic accounts are not getting any closer

      And from the other side, philosophers are finding that to get any closer to solving their problems they increasingly have to turn in a more Scholastic direction…. The problem isn't that perennial philosophy lacks evidence or support, but rather that its detractors refuse to look through the telescope.

      Delete
  34. I finally got around to wasting a bit of my time reading Carrier's article. I found the following bit particularly amusing:

    A quick and dirty way to phrase that argument is: if nothing exists, then by definition no rules exist limiting what will happen to it; if no rules exist limiting what it will happen to it, it is equally likely it will become one of infinitely many arrays of things (including remaining nothing, which is just one of infinitely many other things no rule exists to prevent happening); if we select at random from the infinitely many arrays of things it can become (including the array that is an empty set, i.e. continuing to be nothing), the probability is infinitesimally near 100% the array chosen at random will be a vast multiverse whose probability of including a universe like ours is infinitesimally near 100%. Because there are infinitely more ways to get one of those at random, than to get, for example, the one single outcome of remaining nothing. There is no way to avoid this. Unless you insert some law, power, rule, or force that would stop it, or change the outcome to something not decided at random. But once you do that, you are no longer talking about nothing. You have added something. Which you have no reason to add. Other than your human desire that it be there. Which is not a compelling argument for it being there.

    I found it a bit odd how he's so insistent 'nothingness' cannot be constrained by, in his own words, any rules, laws, etc. but then goes on to explicitly assume notions of probability are relevant. If he's right 'nothingness' cannot be constrained by anything, then one cannot draw any kind of conclusion about what is likely, or not, since events could occur in a way that simply isn't constrained by mathematical probability. It would just be indeterminate, I'd think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It also begs the question by assuming PSR is false.

      But yeah, it's amusing. It's like he's saying that, given ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, we can reasonably expect a universe to come into existence. What the hell.

      Delete
    2. Is his idea here that if there were nothing, then there’d be no rule or metaphysical principle about nothing, particularly principles of potentiality and actuality, which would then leave open an array of equi-probable outcomes?

      Delete
    3. And of course, his argument also entails complete skepticism with regard to, e.g., induction (there must almost surely be infinitely many universes where things go haywire thirty seconds from now).

      Delete
  35. Wow. Carrier is utterly incompetent to speak about these matters. There is nothing else to say.

    Sadly, it's a waste of time trying to reason with such atheists. We logically deconstruct their fallacious and dishonest reasoning and expose their errors, but it falls upon willfully deaf ears.

    We classical theists have the rational argumentation. But we need to regain the rhetorical advantage. It's easy enough; simply shut down and deny everything the atheist says - thereby getting them on the defensive. This leaves the atheist lost for words, because they have absolutely nothing of substance to say to begin with. They'll end up tripping over themselves trying to justify complete stupidities, just so they can deny theistic conclusions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “They'll end up tripping over themselves”

      Generally, when pushed, the response boils down to “Well, anybody with a brain knows it.” E.g.:

      “PROVE you can’t prove a negative.”
      “Everyone knows that. Theists are morons.”

      (I used to try, “‘You can’t prove a negative’ is a negative,” but that sails over most of their heads.)

      Delete
  36. Ed,
    Why not discuss a little about what constitutes a contingent thing? Space-Time and the 10 categories or something like that. Some scientismists (sic) seem to think that something can come from nothing (e.g. gravity without any space or time!) even though gravity is dependent on matter. Carrier seems to be following some of this failed line of reasoning.

    ReplyDelete
  37. "Carrier couldn’t care less about all that, but is just interested in throwing out some red meat to the SJW crowd."

    Hey that's offensive to vegans

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Just a side benefit to knocking back at Carrier and the SJWs, I guess.

      Delete
  38. It would be nice to see some of the sharper commenters here engage with Carrier on his blog. I realize it says he only allows comments from patrons and "select persons only," but I've seen him allow comments from folks who were neither. Pretty sure, anyway. In any case, some of the comments here could just be copy/pasted over there and we could see what happens.

    I say this because I think it would be helpful for people (like me) who are kinda on the fence wrt these issues and have difficulty sorting them out.

    Ideally, I'd like to see a written debate between Ed and Richard. But the chances of that happening . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you really want him to have your contact details? It is VERY odd that it is only select people who can comment.

      Delete
    2. Hi RP,

      It's a waste of time trying to reason with such willfully ignorant and arrogant atheists.

      It's great you're openly and honestly reflecting on these matters. Just note it can take years to fully appreciate what all these classical theistic arguments are saying. Keep reading the literature that actually explains the arguments and the principles behind them (e.g. Feser's work)- and stay away from incompetent utterly ignorant critical commentators.

      The more you familiarize yourself with the literature and defenses of classical theism, the more outraged you'll be at just how many lies and dishonest criticisms are made against classical theism by many atheists - popular level and scholarly alike.

      Delete
  39. Does anyone here really think Cartier is intelligent or that his criticisms are worth reading let alone engaging with? The man ruined any potential reputation he *might* have had the moment he nailed his flag to the New Atheist mast. As it stands the only reason people engage with him is for hits and free publicities (that is if one is willing to put up with potential invasion by his mini-mes).

    A debate between he and Feser would be a great waste of time and would grant him more crediblity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not really.... I think that the only reason philosophers such as Dr Feser engage with his blog material is to highlight the errors in order to point them out to those who might be taken in by his material.

      Delete
    2. With all due respect those who would be taken in by Carrier are not very clear thinking. The majority of his followers are not those who has convinced (or even educated) but those who come to him because they want confirmation of their own malicious prejudices.

      If they were really interested in atheism they would look up some of the decent atheist philosophers (and in doing so realize how painfully embarrassing New Atheist stuff is). Most however are not thinkers convinced of the truth of atheism but 'enthusiasts' in the sense with which Hume used that word.

      (Also apologies for the typo-ridden posts folks - have been writing from my phone)

      Delete
  40. Anonymous: Is his idea here that if there were nothing, then there’d be no rule or metaphysical principle about nothing...

    Who knows? The problem with denying the existence of God is that all the explanations that terminate in God have to terminate somewhere else; so we just end up with something else (often "the universe") which gets stretched to various infinite proportions in an attempt to fill in as a dumbed-down divine substitute. In this case we seem to have completely unlimited nothing standing in for completely unlimited Being, supposedly just as omnipotent, only without the pesky stipulations on keeping your pants up. It almost makes one think of a drunken four-year-old trying to explain apophaticism, only less cute.

    ReplyDelete
  41. It's kinda funny Carrier can't seem to refute our arguments for the "Giant Ghost" without having to resort to a hypothesis that a multiverse was caused as a brute fact from an absolute nothingness in which no principles preclude anything (but notions of probability still somehow apply to this nothingness).

    Or by taking string theory to be the necessary being (i.e. completely ignoring all the arguments for both the transcendence and the agency of the first cause).

    Giant Ghost theory is faring quite well, judging by Carrier's response.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am very eagerly waiting for a post some day that covers a lot of the errors in the appeal to the multiverse and M-Theory, Space-Time etc. I know these topics have been covered before, but maybe not in a direct blog post. A very common error seems to be to try to ignore the evidence of the Big Bang (proven in as far as anything can be via the scientific method), or to appeal to some other theory which hasn't or can't be proven in any way. All the while preferring the impossible or least probable scientific theorem. Not that I am not open to wherever the evidence might bring us... but it does at times strike me a little as wishful thinking that some theory will uproot the Big Bang.

      Delete
    2. if you want to see Carrier say something even more bizarre, look at his article about how God is supposed to be logically impossible

      https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/510


      Delete
    3. Thor,

      There are several alternatives to the Big Bang. One interesting discussion relates to Carmeli Cosmology which is an extension to General Relativity. It helps explain many of the problems with the Big Bang.

      There are also several alternatives to Classical Theism that do a much better job of explaining evidence for God. Unfortunately, this blog likes the frequent food fight between atheists and Scholastics, when a more interesting battle would be Craig, Plantinga, vs. A-T.

      Delete
    4. @Jonathan Lewis,
      I read that post, and although I wish I hadn't spent the last hour reading it, it doesn't seem all that strange to me. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure I've seen the errors he's making before, so maybe I'm just used to weirdos and muddle heads. But darn it, I wasted that much time, I may as well say something about it!

      Among these errors, I have to say I agree with what Hayekian said above about his appeal to probability. If "absolute nothingness" isn't even constrained by metaphysical principles such as causality, then it's ad hoc to say it's governed by probability, especially since chance is a consequence of a prior order, and ex hypothesi there is none.
      Saying that, the discussion about Boltzmann gods actually makes more sense than the paragraph Dr. Feser quoted earlier. The problem is that he wastes all of this time on beings that by his own concession had a beginning, when he ought to be targeting the notion of an eternal and immaterial God. Things go to pot after that point, because his entire attempt to evaluate the probability of a "supernatural" (in his tortured sense) "omni-God" rests on trying to determine the possibility of such a being popping into existence from "absolute nothingness." His guns aren't even aimed at what we classical theists have in mind! He can't get the probability of such a being existing from the long odds of one miraculously forming from nothing (or chaos), since he's discussing two entirely unrelated phenomena.
      The way he terribly mangles classical theistic notions seems routine, even though it's so frustrating.

      Delete
    5. Dick Carrier still keeps thinking that a timeless immaterial God must have begun at some point. His belief that the natural gods will outnumber the supernatural gods is still linked to his belief that a monotheistic God has a beginning which is completely contrary to all the theology of the world's monotheist religions. It makes no more sense than Dawkins' assertion that God would have to evolve.

      Delete
  42. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DXAx4ohX0AA7ciU.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  43. Hi Ed,

    On his blog Carrier linked to a rather critical review of your book. One interesting point raised is how it is possible for an immaterial substance to act on a separate material substance, both generally and in the case of God. I was wondering if you might elaborate on this a bit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous: One interesting point raised is how it is possible for an immaterial substance to act on a separate material substance, both generally and in the case of God.

      The so-called "interaction problem" is a vestige of obsolete seventeenth-century philosophy attempting to fit the mould of obsolete seventeenth-century physics. The unwarranted presumptions needed to make it a problem (very roughly: everything is a billiard ball) simply do not apply to traditional or Scholastic philosophy.

      (Life isn't really a dream, but it may be somewhat helpful to think of reality from God's perspective as dream or story He is telling: He can "interact" with characters in the story in the ordinary way, by becoming a character inside the story; but He acts on (actualises!) everything that happens just by virtue of being the overall cause of it all in the first place. Likewise, if you had a dream about material and immaterial substances, there would be no mystery about how you could control all them qua dreamer, or how they could interact with each other, if that's how your dream went.)

      Delete
    2. Thst seems to have just a riff on the so called interaction problem, which Hasker was correct to call one of the most overhyped objections in philosophy. The first thing to say is why shouldn't an immaterial substance act on an immaterial one.

      Delete
    3. Sorry for the typos. Damn phone!That should be "seems to be", and obviously I meant an immaterial substance acting on a material one.

      Delete
    4. If Carrier asks this question, its simply that he doesn't understand the basics of the Aristotelian worldview.

      Feser has written a couple of blogposts about this. THis may be of help to you:
      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/mind-body-interaction-whats-problem.html

      Delete
    5. I don't know guys. The objection seemed to be more than repeat of the interaction problem. The challenge seemed to be posed at creatio ex nihilo. In other words, how can God sustain the universe without anything

      Delete
    6. Why would God need a material cause in order to sustain the universe? There seems to be nothing precise about this objection, just hand wavering. But fine, if one wants to accept it as an "objection", then so be it. The problem is that it comes with costs. The costs, in the case of cosmological arguments, is that we end up with either a brute fact, or a necessary and unconditioned material being. Good luck holding either position.

      Delete
    7. be careful not to confuse a material cause with a cause that consists of some sort of matter. IOW a material cause does not presuppose materialism.
      A material cause in this context is something that (or part of which) somehow transforms into something else.
      So, the cost, in the case of cosmological arguments, is that we end up with either a brute fact or a necessary simple substrate (to borrow Carrier's terminology) that can account for material reality.
      Both positions may be difficult to hold, but to me they sound far less counter-intuitive than something being created from nothing. It should be noted that Richard Swinburne, who hardly qualifies as an atheist, holds that God is contingent.
      So far, he seems to have been "lucky" holding that position, becasue as far as i know, he is still a well-respected Christian philosopher.

      Delete
    8. I am aware of the difference, That's the point. Why can't God create the world if he's immaterial?

      "To me they are far less counter-intuitive than something being created from nothing" that makes absolutely no sense, because the brute fact thesis (which you present as an option) IS equivalent to something being created from nothing. Even worse, in fact, since it would literally just be something contingent existing for absolutely no reason whatsoever when, taken by itself, it has no tendency for existence (in other words, without an act of existence it is nothing, and this act of existence, contigent, just conveniently happens to be there for no reason and contrary to its own contingency). There is no point in preferring a brute fact over something coming to exist without a material cause; if the second (somehow) were to be problematic, the first would be doubly absurd, and would destroy rationality.

      The other option is also just as bad: what would a necessary simple substrate be, if not a mind or a divine being? It would already be immaterial, given that all material beings are contingent, as well as being composed of parts. And how could it explain the order in dependent beings (i.e. that it isn't causing other contingent beings at random)? And how what kind of explanation could it be (if not personal, then what? Conceptual would not work; scientific would not work either)? And how could it be responsible for the existence of all contingent beings without having all these various beings in itself (virtually) as abstractions?

      I am aware Swinburne holds that God is contingent. So what? I think his view is insane, since it implies a brute fact, even though he is a very intelligent man and I find value in much of his work. Otherwise rational people can hold bizarre or crazy views. Dennett is a kind of eliminativist, which is a crazy position that could be very popular in an insane asylum. But there are still some merits to his work. None of this makes brute facts any more acceptable, or the idea that there is a necessary, unconditioned material impersonal being somehow responsible for the existence of everything else. Philosophically, atheism is batshit crazy, but it doesn't mean there can't be respectable atheists.

      Delete
    9. So of course, Swinburne has not been "lucky" holding to a brute fact. It's not one of his best moments. But if you want to argue for the consistency of holding that things can exist with absolutely no explanation whatsoever and for no reason at all, go ahead.

      Delete
    10. And of course, it is extremely ironic that someone who holds the mind-body problem to be an issue would be willing to accept brute facts. The reason people have criticized mind-body interactionism is because they find something unintelligible in it. But to reject something because it seems inexplicable (or hard to explain) and accept brute facts... is not very consistent.

      Delete
    11. Miguel

      The fact that you believe that the brute fact thesis IS equivalent to something being created from nothing, shows that you don't understand Sinwburne's position. To call it an insane position because you fail to understand it is the same as Carrier calling Feser's position insane because he fails to understand it.
      FYI,I think the classical theist view that change is real because ultimately reality is immutable is insane too.
      As to why God can't create the world from nothing if he's immaterial? In short: because it entails a violation of the principle that ex nihilo nihil fit.
      Of course, it has never been proven that it is logically impossible for something to come from nothing but I think we both reject it.

      Delete
  44. @Anon
    It might help to consider ourselves. Granting knowledge and will are immaterial, consider how with our rational appetite or desire we move our bodies (particularly muscle, which living flesh has power to move and carry our hard bones) as passive instruments to some end or goal. Now living flesh is greater than inanimate body (e.g. bone) but mind and will is greater than living flesh (muscle) even in us. Now consider that our powers are naturally limited by our bodies: a spirit however has no such limitation and its power is not confined to a body.
    Consider further that all bodies are susceptible to the least material natural powers, such as electromagnetic attraction or propulsion or otherwise "energy." Indeed our own power over our bodies seems largely mediated in an almost electrical way. Now inanimate bodies can be moved or altered or changed using electromagnetic forces or by energy that either attracts or repulses them (as heat tends upward or cold downward and otherwise has all sorts of effects on things) and as kinetic energy gives shape and motion to bodies, which is formal (e.g. swirling water, blowing air).

    Of course I am not reducing angelic power to this kind of instrumentality: I believe it is much more direct over things by their nature. I am merely pointing out how alreaady in nature things least material are seen naturally to have power over the more material (as in us the rational will has authority over muscle which has power to move our bones, from the immaterial power over the animate/animal with power over that which is most inaminate (bones) but most material).

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  45. I think Carrier is onto something when he defines adultery as a 'sexual orientation':

    https://theyetisroar.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/dr-richard-carrier-phd-a-creepy-dishonest-hypocrite/comment-page-1/

    You know, in that it highlights what we, as a society, really mean by 'sexual orientation'.

    Please promote Carrier's views on this matter as much as you possibly can. Get him out there talking about it. Quick!

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    1. Problem with that is that reductio ad absurdum no longer works.

      People have already accepted transgenderism.

      Delete
  46. I have just purchased your Five Proofs Book. Nothing too surprising about that right? Well,maybe a little more surprising that I am a Protestant and proponent of the Kalam and other Craigian inspired arguments for God. I have viewed most of the material I can get hold of on your work and am persuaded that you give a completely new line of argumentation, in your own modern way, from the usual lines we often see in debate. I also check into your blog often and try to share as much as can about your work. Looking forward to having by brain Fesered by your book. Thanks

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  47. My first, and (if God is merciful) last, encounter with Carrier was stumbling across a YouTube called “Richard Carrier debunks 7 theistic arguments” or something. And yes, it was THAT bad. My two favorite quotes were, “Geometrically there are an actual infinite number of points on my fingertip,” and “Nothing is unstable.”

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  48. I request another open discussion thread, Feaser-sensei

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  49. Dr Carrier's critique of the "Five Proofs for the Existence of God" is one of the better and most erudite articles I have recently read. Despite its polemical undertones, which is unwarranted in the main, it clearly illustrates the point that proof of argument per se is not proof of fact. To imagine so, without support of demonstrable hard evidence, is to render the argument fundamentally flawed and epistemologically unfounded. indeed the "Five Proofs" is a work of largely gratuitous wishlisting by those want to dearly believe such is the case.

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    1. And we thought Feser's response to Carrier was a bodyslam. That's nothing to Papalinton's approval. How will Carrier recover from that?

      Delete
    2. You're precisely one month early.

      Delete
    3. And I think Carrier's critique was utter shit. But who cares about opinions? The point is there are only two options for the atheist to take in the face of cosmological arguments presented in the book (not considering the augustinian proof): deny PSR, which would destroy rationality; or accept PSR but somehow insist the independent or necessary being is a purely natural one -- and thus become some sort of pantheist. But Carrier didn't even interact with Feser's arguments as to why the necessary or independent being is a personal agent. Good luck with your pick.

      It is important to remind you lot again and again, because scientism has corroded your brains to such an extent that you have difficulty dealing with simple disjunctions and deductive arguments.

      Delete
    4. Papalinton is a well known troll and bs artist. He's barely one notch up from SP. His endorsement is worth a thousand reasoned critiques. Ignore him.

      Delete
    5. @Anonymous:

      "Papalinton is a well known troll and bs artist. He's barely one notch up from SP. His endorsement is worth a thousand reasoned critiques. Ignore him."

      And is also one of the few ("happy few") that has merited the dubious honor of having been explicitly banned by Prof. Feser.

      Delete
  50. Richard Carrier is the Donald Trump of philosophy insofar as his ignorance is only matched by his arrogance. The only real difference is that Carrier has better words.

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    1. Nice bait there.

      Except Donald Trump wins.

      Delete
    2. Timocrates, ever read Chesterton's essay, The Fallacy of Success?

      Delete
  51. Carrier is unbelievably dishonest with his readership if he is even remotely familiar with Edward Feser's work. Supposedly we are to believe Feser other philosophers are scientific, because you know, they are unaware of the scientific method or something. That is completely false. Also everyone with two brain cells can make a distinction between the errors in Aristotle's scientific musings and the successes in every other field he ever entered (as the Father of Logic for example).

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    1. Yes that was gobbledygook, don't know how I missed that. I was trying to say that supposedly Feser and other philosophers are unscientific. As if philosophers are at liberty to be ignorant of science (or any other serious field of human knowledge).

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  52. Well guys, it was fun, but it looks like we've been defeated. Carrier has responded and well, he has to be right because he's Richard Carrier Ph.D.

    https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13830

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  53. If a man will be dishonest enough to cheat on his wife, why expect his listeners to get any better?

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    1. "If a man will be dishonest enough to cheat on his wife, why expect his listeners to get any better?"

      This is a red herring. Learn to separate the philosophy and arguments from the arguer, as you would a piece of art from the artist. Also, how do you know if Carrier didn't apologize for what he did?

      Also, neither you nor Carrier has free will, so don't act like you're on some moral highground. One does what one desires to do, and you can't control your desires.

      Delete
    2. Great excuse for immoral behavior. Beg the question against libertarianism by assuming every explanans must entail its explanandum, or that there can be no contingent self-explanatory free acts, and then claim no one has free will OR moral responsibility for that matter. Kek.

      Well go crawling back to Carrier's blog if you enjoy retarded bullshit such as "if God has no location then he exists nowhere therefore he does not exist" and other pearls by failed scholars turned ideologues.

      Delete
    3. Nevermind, I forgot that in your insane position you have no control whatsoever over what you do, so you believe you're just somehow predetermined to write bullshit in blogs.

      Delete
    4. This isn't about Carrier's arguments but his character. THe point was made that Carrier is dishonest with his listeners. He was dishonest with his wife first.

      And as for an apology, doesn't work, "Honey. I'm so sorry I cheated on you, but how about we consider making our relationship open and we can sleep with whoever we want? Does that make it better?"

      That's not what Jen signed up for. Carrier could say he's being true to polyamory, but it would have been better for him to be true to the vows he made to his wife.

      Feser has answered Carrier's arguments, but it would be a huge mistake to think one's character has no role whatsoever.

      Delete
  54. Carrier has responded to this blogpost: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13830

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    1. Stupendus defeat'v sciulism'v theists.

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  55. Haha, I found this to be the most dishonest part. Does he actually expect anyone to believe that he's happy to stand corrected if shown to be wrong? A pretty long track record of pure vitriol says otherwise. :)

    "I had a good laugh when Feser fans claimed he “destroyed” my critique this week, and at first thought, “Oh gosh, did I get something wrong I need to correct?”"

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    1. I find it more interesting that Carrier seems to panic at the thought of being wrong about something.

      Strangely enough, in his world, he never seems to be.

      Delete
  56. I'm genuinely tempted to sign up on Carrier's website so that I can go through his latest response in the comment section.

    But would it do any good?

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    1. Probably the best way to handle Carrier (and narcissists in general) is to praise his work (e.g. this response). Tell him how good it is and that he should try and publish it. Help spread the word far and wide in the atheist community. See how far you can push it.

      When you think you have reached maximal effect or reach, break down his response in a systematic manner. Then just laugh at him. Never stop laughing. Just mock him and laugh at him ceaselessly. For narcissists this results in real physical pain, associated with amygdala triggering.

      The pain will be so great that he won't ever again try and "critique" theist arguments (of he will pretend he is too good for it), and will rather proceed to his real life passion and right books about "How I tried and failed to date five women at a time".

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    2. The laughing at him bit reminds me too much of Richard Dawkins. If he is a narcissist then that is rather disturbing. I have met covert narcissists hiding in the Catholic community in Ireland (complete religious frauds). Famous celebrity types, on TV and radio. Truly disturbing and twisted. Narcissists do no deserve an ounce of power or authority anywhere ever.

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    3. Carrier is the poster-child of Narcissism.

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  57. I hope Prof. Feser doesn't respond to this latest post. Carrier seems to me a pathetic fellow. A failed scholar, he enjoys producing drivel and claiming victory over real ones. He also hates Christians and Christianity. Further engagement will not end well

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  58. Welp, I tried. I'm user "Chris" trying to talk about the principles of change and was ready to get into act and potency but I don't think I'm permitted to reply further.

    https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13752

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  59. Christopher. You tried to defy the Carrier. Repent now. You're not allowed to disagree with him.

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  60. Modern evaluations of whether there are authentically rational arguments for the existence of God tend to fall short for the simple reason that we fail to maintain the classical distinction between 'reason' and 'intellect'. Wolfgang Smith offers some insights on this point.

    philos-sophia.org/what-are-proofs-of-god

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  61. Can anyone explain to me why an unactualized actualizer has to be god and cannot be the laws of physics or 'spacetime' as Carrier argues here? If I can summarize Feser's view: Contingent things like water and cups have something that caused them, but something that could actualize, though without itself being actualized, and also having no potentiality in it to be actualized (in short: an unactualized actualizer), doesn’t have a cause. But why would the concept of god be the only candidate for an ‘unactualized actualizer’, or why would god be a candidate at all? Why can’t the laws of physics be an ‘unactualized actualizer’? And this is precisely what atheists really mean when they ask: “What caused god?”: If the laws of physics aren’t allowed to be unactualized actualizers because theists think that the laws of physics require some further explanation, cause, or ‘something that made them’, why is the concept of god immune from the same requirements? If god can be an unactualized actualizer, so can the laws of physics. Plus, the laws of physics seem to be a far better candidate for an unactualized actualizer since we actually have experiential access to them, and also since something mindless wouldn’t have a ‘waking up to intelligence’ or ‘decisions before creation’ regress.
    Thanks!

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    1. I'm a frequent reader here, so hopefully I can offer something helpful. Let's start with the first question:
      I've come across a handful of theories about the nature of the laws of physics, but it seems they can be divided into two basic types:
      1. Prescriptive (these laws are imposed on matter)
      2. Descriptive
      As mere descriptions of how material things behave, to say these laws are necessary is to say something about the nature of material things. But in that case, these laws have no causal power of their own (being only an abstraction from material things in general), and so these laws couldn't possibly count as the first mover.
      But as a prescription, we need to explain what it is that makes material things obey these laws, and these laws specifically, since we can conceive of alternative physical laws, and even of a world where there are no such laws.
      Could space-time be the first mover? I've come across two basic theories about it:
      1. Relational
      2. SUbstantival
      But the relational theory makes space-time contingent upon things inside the universe which we already know are contingent, and so space-time cannot itself be necessary.
      Substantival models could be consistent with a necessary space-time, but it's unclear how space-time can cause anything to happen.

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    2. So you mention the problems of 'waking up to intelligence' and 'decisions before creation.'
      The first problem is very murky; I'm sure you don't mean that God just 'woke up' at some time in eternity past, but I don't know what else you might have in mind.
      The second problem seems to assume that change exists in eternity, which isn't so. God's decision to create is only prior to creation in origin and causation, not in time, because there is no 'before creation' in a temporal sense in the first place.

      Delete
    3. “As mere descriptions of how material things behave, to say these laws are necessary is to say something about the nature of material things.”
      When I say ‘the laws of physics’ I obviously mean the structures of existence that are being described, not the descriptions themselves which doesn’t seem to be an option you considered.

      “But as a prescription, we need to explain what it is that makes material things obey these laws, and these laws specifically, since we can conceive of alternative physical laws, and even of a world where there are no such laws.”
      It’s not a ‘prescription’ since no one is referring to the human equations and theories and then telling existence to behave like them, instead, the we are referring to the existential structures that they are approximating in the math and theories. The structure inside existence of the law of physics that makes mass bend space is different than Einstein’s equations describing them.
      But nevertheless, why do we need to ‘explain’ those things anymore than we need to with the idea of god? I could just as easily and arbitrarily demand that you explain what makes god have these properties, and these properties specifically, since we can conceive of alternative properties for god, or even of an existence where there is no such god.

      “Substantival models could be consistent with a necessary space-time, but it's unclear how space-time can cause anything to happen.”
      It’s unclear how god can cause anything to happen. The difference is spacetime is testable and empirical and can generate every fundamental particle and field according to string-theory. Nevertheless, I prefer to use the laws of physics over Carrier’s example of spacetime.

      “I'm sure you don't mean that God just 'woke up' at some time in eternity past, but I don't know what else you might have in mind.”
      I don’t want to say that, but it is what follows from these sorts of deists claims. If god created the universe, what was it doing/thinking before the creation? And what was it doing before that? And what was it doing before that? Waving the magic wand of saying “it’s outside of time” doesn’t solve the problem since the universe could have been ‘created’ in a different way or not at all, and in a different sequence. Is this even god’s first universe? And did it have to create this universe and in this order?

      “The second problem seems to assume that change exists in eternity, which isn't so. God's decision to create is only prior to creation in origin and causation, not in time, because there is no 'before creation' in a temporal sense in the first place.”
      Honestly, saying a decision took place outside of time makes absolutely no sense to me and I don’t see even how it’s conceivable. Maybe you can describe how a decision outside of time works? I don’t see why, in this picture, our universe wasn’t created earlier as opposed to later? Why is the universe this way as opposed to another way? Either way, you hit brute facts: whether it be the laws of physics or god.

      Delete
    4. Brian, your response has in several places put words into my mouth, and in a few cases suggests that you don't even know what I meant. I'll take these out of order.

      "When I say ‘the laws of physics’ I obviously mean the structures of existence that are being described, not the descriptions themselves which doesn’t seem to be an option you considered."
      That in no way sidesteps my observation, for the point is that these structures are what needs to be explained, and the descriptions do absolutely nothing to address that. And so far as I've ever seen, 'these structures' happen to be matter/ its fundamental constituents. My observation stands.

      "It’s not a ‘prescription’ since no one is referring to the human equations and theories and then telling existence to behave like them, instead, the we are referring to[.]"
      This is where you put words into my mouth. I used 'prescription' in the broadest sense possible. A priori, it doesn't require an intelligent agent to impose this order onto the world. It just require that something does this. The problem is that you want to treat nebulous structures as doing this without offering any explanation for them.

      "But nevertheless, why do we need to ‘explain’ those things anymore than we need to with the idea of god?"
      Arguments for why God must be a certain way, and be a necessary being, have been given elsewhere. We aren't dealing with them here, since we already have enough to worry about in this discussion. I only discussed reasons why our original hypothesis should be that the laws of physics are themselves contingent. Until you can show either that the arguments for God's necessity fail, or that the laws of physics are necessarily true, the two situations are not commensurate.

      "It’s unclear how god can cause anything to happen."
      What makes Divine causation 'unclear' is two-fold:
      1. Our experience of the world only gives us imperfect analogues to Divine causation to appeal to;
      2. Modern conceptions of causation are decidedly inadequate, being 'mechanistic.'
      However, as before, God and space-time are not on a par in this respect: space-time is conceived of entirely in mechanistic terms, and our mechanistic notions of causality fail to offer us any way of talking about how space-time could be a cause. The problem won't go away unless we drop the mechanistic philosophy that makes atheism plausible to begin with.

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    5. Now let's deal with your latter dismissals.
      It's incorrect to say that because the universe didn't have to be created, or could have been created differently, to conclude that the observation 'there is no moment temporally prior to creation' is irrelevant. The history of the universe, whatever it is, or the permanent absence of the universe, would all be cases of God's decision, itself timeless and eternal. The point of the observation is that 'before' creation, there was no process where God was deciding what to do, or doing anything else that involved a sequence of events. All of God's activities and decisions (and I'm speaking loosely when using the plural) are timeless and eternal under this view. Complaining that it makes no sense to you does us no good here, since you imply in your complaint that you think God is going through some process of deliberation.

      In all of this, we find that I don't wind up with a brute fact the way you do: we have reasons for holding that if God exists, He is a necessary being, while His decision, though in some sense contingent, is not a brute fact either, since it is explained in terms of God's agency.

      It seems like it would be better to send you links to other blog posts and articles. Hopefully your next responses will tell me which ones would be best. There's more detail than can be given in the comments section. You also seem to need some background on scholasticism, since you've been pushing farther than I had originally expected when discussing my proposed solutions.

      Delete
    6. “Brian, your response has in several places put words into my mouth, and in a few cases suggests that you don't even know what I meant.”
      The same went for your response. It seems like that’s why these debates occur in the first place: we are dealing with topics where everyday ideas breakdown to an extreme extent.

      “That in no way sidesteps my observation, because the point is that these structures are what needs to be explained, and the descriptions do absolutely nothing to address that. And so far as I've ever seen, 'these structures' happen to be matter/ its fundamental constituents. My observation stands.”
      Why do the laws of physics, the structures inherent in reality, need to be “explained” any more than god does? And why do they need to be “explained” at all? ‘Explanation’ works for macroscopic events, but there is no reason to think it is reasonable to ask it of existence itself. When I read Feser’s premises and definitions of god, I don’t feel like they ‘explain’ or show ‘necessity’ for anything at all. I’m still asking myself, ‘but why does god exist at all, and not just pure nothing?” or the infinite regress still shows up since calling something a cause (or unactualized actualizer for rhetorical flourish) that is outside of time doesn’t explain anything and just leaves one puzzled. Just because you ignore the puzzles or confusion doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

      Also, saying the laws of physics are just ‘matter’ and the ‘fundamental constituents’ of matter shows that you don’t know what scientists and I mean by the laws of physics. The laws of physics would be the structures that govern how matter works the way it does, it isn’t the matter itself. So the laws of physics couldn’t be spacetime bending from the presence of mass, it would be the math-like structure metaphysically imbedded underneath reality that would look more like a mathematical equation than the phenomenon of spacetime curvature that it is dictating.

      “I used 'prescription' in the broadest sense possible. A priori, it doesn't require an intelligent agent to impose this order onto the world. It just require that something does this. The problem is that you want to treat nebulous structures as doing this without offering any explanation for them.”
      You are the one who brought up the unhelpful prescription/descriptive thing: I don’t see how it helps at all, even with this ‘broad’ sense. How is the mathematical structure that governs gravity ‘nebulous’? Or anymore nebulous than god? Nevertheless, when scientists and I speak of the laws of physics we clearly mean that they have the principle of their own imposition in themselves, so that the formulas of their actuality and potentiality would already be built within them. You seem to have no problem applying these properties to god, by the way. Also, the laws of physics would be a brute fact, not requiring further explanation. Like I said, every theory posits brute facts: theists just claim that their brute fact ‘explains’ more than the laws of physics being brute facts, when that isn’t the slightest bit true.

      “Arguments for why God must be a certain way, and be a necessary being, have been given elsewhere.”
      And this is the exact point I’m raising. How do the arguments for god being a necessary being not equally apply to the laws of physics? This was Carrier’s entire point about spacetime. There is nothing in Feser’s argumentation that makes god the only candidate for an unactualized actualizer. Nevertheless, Feser never proves god is necessary, he merely asserts it.

      “I only discussed reasons why our original hypothesis should be that the laws of physics are themselves contingent.”
      And you haven’t shown that at all. Again, the laws of physics could just as easily be brute facts and therefore not contingent and not in need of some unnecessary ‘reason’ or ‘explanation’.

      Delete
    7. “I only discussed reasons why our original hypothesis should be that the laws of physics are themselves contingent.”
      And you haven’t shown that at all. Again, the laws of physics could just as easily be brute facts and therefore not contingent and not in need of some unnecessary ‘reason’ or ‘explanation’.

      “Until you can show either that the arguments for God's necessity fail, or that the laws of physics are necessarily true, the two situations are not commensurate.”
      That’s where brute facts come in: the laws of physics are brute facts. Demanding explanation or proof of the necessity of brute facts doesn’t make any sense. And the arguments for god’s necessity really do fail since you haven’t been able to show why god is the only candidate for an unactualized actualizer when I could easily conceive of a variety of different candidates. For example, why couldn’t this god be non-omnipotent? Could god just have some abilities and not others? This seems to be what has to be the case, or do you think that could god terminate its own existence? Could god create another god like itself, duplicate itself? Of course not, so omnipotence leads you to contradictions and definitely not logical necessities.

      “However, as before, God and space-time are not on a par in this respect: space-time is conceived of entirely in mechanistic terms, and our mechanistic notions of causality fail to offer us any way of talking about how space-time could be a cause.”
      Our mechanistic notions of causality do not fail any more than god does. In J. Richard Gott’s view of existence, eternal inflation has a loop at the beginning where it gives birth to itself: I don’t see how that’s a worse explanation than god. Neither hypothesis gives an ‘explanation’ in the sense that they solve the issue of ‘where did that come from?’. You are just essentially saying that god’s magic created existence, that doesn’t explain anything.

      “The history of the universe, whatever it is, or the permanent absence of the universe, would all be cases of God's decision, itself timeless and eternal.”
      This makes no sense since a decision only makes sense in a context of ‘before the decision’ and ‘after the decision’, otherwise there would be no decision to be made. If god’s decision is eternal and timeless, than it was a necessary choice and therefore god is not free but instead makes the decision it has to take. So again, your definitions of god contradict themselves and simply make no sense. This is equivalent of saying god’s magic did it. Basically, an unhelpful god of the gaps that has literally 0 explanatory power. Even if Feser’s god did exist, it would be so meaningless as to render one silent.

      “ we have reasons for holding that if God exists, He is a necessary being,”
      No you don’t, you just confidently say you do. I’ve read through Feser’s hundreds of premises where he claims to get to a logical necessity of god: but they were full of false hidden premises and leaps in logic. If his arguments were actually true, you or he would be able to give me a description of the argument in a symbolic logic system like first order logic. But since it’s basically sophistry, he isn’t able to formulate his arguments in any form of symbolic logic.

      Basically, most of Feser’s premises are just questionable and arbitrary reifications of the world that are not born of necessity at all. Take this premise from Feser: “Everything is either a mind, or a mental content, or a material entity, or an abstract entity.”
      Who says reality is broken up this way? What does ‘material entity’ even mean when we are talking about say, the Higgs field or a photon? Is a photon the same type of material entity as an electron? What about when the electron or photon is in a superposition of all possible states: is that a ‘physical’ reality? Feser simply has no way of knowing any of this.

      Delete
    8. Or how about this premise: “These forms or patterns can exist either in the concrete way in which they exist in individual particular things, or in the abstract way in which they exist in the thoughts of an intellect.”
      Again, says who? One can easily imagine different ways forms can exist, or we can doubt the Aristotelian ideas of existence of ‘form’ and ‘substance’ all together. For example, as I’ve been saying, perhaps there is a mathematical layer of reality, a platonic realm, where the mathematical patterns that tell the universe how to work exist, but are not inside some object or in some mind, but instead are built into a metaphysical layer of reality that is outside of space and time, but that holds space and time together.

      Or how about the premise that god is “incorporeal”? Not even Aristotle thought this was some logical necessity since he posits god as being an animal (ζῷον) in Metaphysics 1072b. But apparently Feser thinks his proofs are so logically tight that even Aristotle used them: except his ‘logical necessities’ ended up being different for Aristotle than with the other guys. It’s as if these aren’t really logical necessities at all, but just things theists have made up using rhetorical waves of the hand.

      “His decision, though in some sense contingent, is not a brute fact either, since it is explained in terms of God's agency.”
      I already showed above that this leads to a contradiction. If god’s choice is outside of space and time and there is no point where its choice was otherwise, god is stuck making the choice that it did and therefore has no agency. Agency implies a decision that can be made or not made, but if the decision is made forever no matter what, there is no agency to be found.

      “It seems like it would be better to send you links to other blog posts and articles. Hopefully your next responses will tell me which ones would be best. There's more detail than can be given in the comments section. You also seem to need some background on scholasticism”
      No and no. Feser supporters keep deferring me to other things, that’s how I ended up here, even after I listen to Feser talk for hours and read his arguments carefully. Why can’t you just defend his claims on their own merits?

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