Reasonable Faith Forums

Archived => Presumption of Atheism => Topic started by: H.H. on July 14, 2014, 05:19:05 am

Title: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on July 14, 2014, 05:19:05 am
Whether one is an atheist, theist, or agnostic the inescapable reality is that Something exists without a somehow.  That is, something, whether it be God or the physical universe, ultimately has no natural, logical explanation for its existence - it just is. Something that is not merely unexplained as of yet, but something for which there is no explanation at all, not even in principle. It seems to me that something that exists as a brute fact without any underlying physical principle, property, dynamic, or process to account for its existence is the very definition of supernatural.

It strikes me as bizarre that atheists are so keen to point out how unnecessary and simplistic it is for the theist to invoke God as an explanation for physical reality when they themselves are forced to resort to logical absurdities like eternally existing uncaused physical entities, actual infinities, or physical reality emerging ex nihilo. Let's be clear, these explanations are all just as good as the theistic explanation but they also carry implications that are not one wit less supernatural than the explicit tenets of Theism.

So here the metaphysical naturalists and the atheistic materialists are hoisted on their own petard. Their entire philosophy is undermined by its own internal contradictions drawn out through the use of simple logic. At this point any failure or refusal to acknowledge the simple truth that there is at least one supernatural brute fact reeks and smacks of deliberate obtuseness and extreme intellectual dishonesty.     
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: UNOWN301 on July 25, 2014, 04:56:30 pm
H.H.,

I agree! It was Aristotle who came up with the term 'unmoved mover' or 'prime mover' and I think the concept is ever so important today still. The only way to avoid an infinite regress (which I find to be logically incoherent) is to realize that there is a brute fact of reality. An 'initial condition' if you will. Something that necessarily exists by its own right and dependent on nothing other.

You are right to point out that the atheist must also admit this reality. Ironically, some actually do! For example, some scientists say that the laws (of nature or physics) are the brute fact of reality and that with only those laws all that exists now could have been created. Some people postulate the multiverse and that it is uncreated - past eternal. I find both of these postulations highly problematic in that laws of nature or physics do not cause anything (and therefore cannot be the explanation for the universe), laws merely describe. And an eternal multiverse seems absurd as well because it runs into the same problem that an eternal universe runs into - namely that a past eternal timeful state is incoherent in that you would never reach now because it is eternal in the past.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on July 27, 2014, 08:22:33 pm
I agree that an infinite regress is logically incoherent, but no more or less so than any other conceivable explanation for why something rather than nothing. Ultimately it does all comes down to some brute fact of one kind or another and when it comes to brute facts, logic and reason do not apply. Which makes all brute facts exactly equal in terms of logical coherency and rational validity. That is to say, as far as I can see anyway, that brute facts neither exist necessarily or contingently, they do not exist in their own right nor do they owe their existence to anything ontologically prior, they just are. A brute fact simply exists without cause or grounds or rhyme or reason.

While I admit that I am new to this philosophy game and that I probably would not be counted among the great thinkers who are currently participating in this area of rational discourse, it seems to me that if logic ineluctably leads to the inescapable conclusion that there positively must be something without a somehow(or why), then that something could just as well be anything at all. For that which exists without reason is nothing less than pure magic in the fullest sense.

So here metaphysical naturalism is both at once practically justified(perhaps) in that possibly there is nothing beyond physical reality and philosophically undone in so far as it is logically impossible for physics to explain the existence of physical reality itself. Physical reality either exists as an impossibly weird, hopelessly unintelligible brute fact, or it owes its existence to some manner of supernatural immaterial entity which is itself an impossibly weird, hopelessly unintelligible brute fact. Either option is equally bizarre and outside the realm of nature.   

The ultimate brute fact in question could very well be some sort of elementary stuff that exists as a finite, free standing, ontologically independent, physical material that is constrained to behave in certain ways and not others because it holds and exhibits a specific and limited set of properties and no others, has a particular and distinct nature and therefore is quantifiable and predictable like all other phenomenal entities that make up physical reality precisely because it is essentially and fundamentally no more or less than exactly what it is - finite, free standing, ontologically independent, physical material. This is where the metaphysical naturalist may be practically justified in their particular view of reality.

Where they are not justified, and where this metaphysical stance becomes hopelessly untenable, is the point at which the metaphysical naturalist claims that all of phenomenal reality ultimately has an underlying rational, intelligible, naturalistic explanation. An assertion which is demonstrably and undeniably false, because this hypothetical stuff may in fact exist as nothing more than a physicality, its existence cannot be attributable to any natural principle of any kind or to nature in general, or to any kind of principle at all, because if it could it would not be a brute fact and would thus beg the question.   

       
Just for the record I am an agnostic with strong leanings toward Theism, I do have some fairly good reasons for thinking Theism maybe the case but none have ultimately proved convincing... I'm glad I found this forum and would like to thank Dr Craig for hosting it and all the members for their contributions, I've learned a lot of great stuff here so again, Thanks!
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Language-Gamer on July 27, 2014, 08:36:36 pm
A brute fact is used with reference to a contingent fact that does not have an explanation. Thus, God as a necessary being would not be a brute fact and would be able to explain every contingent fact.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on July 27, 2014, 08:55:16 pm
A brute fact is used with reference to a contingent fact that does not have an explanation. Thus, God as a necessary being would not be a brute fact and would be able to explain every contingent fact.

I guess I'm using it in a somewhat modified sense - a fact, which is neither necessary or contingent, that does not have an explanation. If God is somehow necessary, i.e., it is impossible for God to not exist, then whatever principle by which God necessarily exists is itself a brute fact and one that is ontologically prior to God. Or not, I could be wrong - it's entirely possible that I'm just a bad philosopher.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on July 27, 2014, 09:08:32 pm
What got me started thinking along these lines was this great quote that I came across from this guy who advocates for the use of psychedelic substances, Terence McKenna. I myself do not encourage the use of these substances and have never tried them but I think this one quote was pretty insightful and thought provoking. I'll post it bellow because it is quite well articulated and pretty well sums up the deal with metaphysical naturalism.

Here it is:
"The opposition, which is science – well, first let me say this: Every model of the universe has a hard swallow. What I mean by a hard swallow is a place where the argument cannot hide the fact that there’s something slightly fishy about it. The hard swallow built into science is this business about the Big Bang. Now, let’s give this a little attention here. This is the notion that the universe, for no reason, sprang from nothing in a single instant. Well, now before we dissect this, notice that this is the limit test for credulity. Whether you believe this or not, notice that it is not possible to conceive of something more unlikely or less likely to be believed! I mean, I defy anyone – it’s just the limit case for unlikelihood, that the universe would spring from nothing in a single instant, for no reason?! – I mean, if you believe that, my family has a bridge across the Hudson River that we’ll give you a lease option for five dollars! It makes no sense. It is in fact no different than saying, “And God said, let there be light”. And what these philosophers of science are saying is, give us one free miracle, and we will roll from that point forward – from the birth of time to the crack of doom! – just one free miracle, and then it will all unravel according to natural law, and these bizarre equations which nobody can understand but which are so holy in this enterprise. Well, I say then, if science gets one free miracle, then everybody gets one free miracle."
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Language-Gamer on July 27, 2014, 10:05:57 pm
A fact that is neither necessarily true nor contingently true is impossible and so not a fact. So I'm not sure I understand what you mean.

Also, i take explanation to be restricted to contingent facts so a necessary fact wouldn't need an explanation.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on July 27, 2014, 11:23:55 pm
A brute fact cannot be contingent because if it were it would depend on something else to explain why it is and why it is the way it is and no other, which would render the term 'brute fact' meaningless. Likewise, a necessary fact cannot be a brute fact because if it were one could always ask what is the nature of its necessity or by what principle is it necessitated, and as soon as you say 'because' you have stripped the term 'brute fact' of all meaning.

So for instance, if you were to say that God necessarily exists because of His maximal greatness, then I would say 'from whence comes this cosmic principle whereby maximally great beings must, by necessity, exit?'... or something to that effect. And if there is such a principle then that principle is ontologically prior to God, which may be perfectly acceptable to pantheists but would pose some hard problems for the Theist.

Ultimately it seems to boil down the fact that something exists for no reason - it doesn't have to exist but it just does.

If this seems intellectually unsatisfying then you are definitely not alone in that but for the life of me I can't conceive of any reason why something must exist or why nonexistence is somehow logically impossible - in fact, nonexistence seems like the only possible, logical non-state. As soon as something exists rather than nothing then you have an impossible insoluble conundrum that is the ultimate enigma of madness.






Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Language-Gamer on July 28, 2014, 07:34:59 am
Contingent here means it is true in some possible world and not in another.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on July 28, 2014, 11:46:43 am
It also means dependent upon something else. The two meanings are very closely related - a contingency is an eventuality or possibility that is dependent upon other factors. Your definition is only partial - incomplete.

Contingency = chance + dependency 

So could a brute fact that could be otherwise but doesn't depend on anything else for its existence be properly defined as a contingent being? I'm not sure.

Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Language-Gamer on July 28, 2014, 11:49:28 am
I'm using it how it is standardly used when referring to brute facts.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on July 28, 2014, 12:30:15 pm
A brute fact is simply a fact that exists without reason. If something does not have a reason for its existence then how can it be considered contingent or necessary? It doesn't exist by chance because that would entail some fact or set of facts that determined its existence, and that is what is called an explanation - brute facts don't have those. It also cannot exist by necessity because that means it would be self-explaining - brute facts are not self-explicating because if they were they wouldn't be brutally factual.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on July 28, 2014, 12:42:00 pm
A fact that is neither necessarily true nor contingently true is impossible and so not a fact.

Hence the subject and title of this thread - There is at least one impossible fact

I am well aware that it is logically, rationally, naturally, conceptually impossible, yet nevertheless... brute fact

If you or anyone here could explain to me how some ultimate fact like God can be self-explaining than I will happily abandon this madness and gratefully become a full blown Theist. But I really don't see there being any possible way to get from nothing to something - there are a number of impossible ways to do it which are all centered on the brute fact. The impossible is the only possible solution - one free miracle - everybody gets one.

Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Language-Gamer on July 28, 2014, 03:41:44 pm
Well I went over this already. Explanation applies to contingent facts. God's existence would be a necessary fact and thus does not need an explanation. This isn't a brute fact because that term is used with reference to contingent facts, and God's existence isn't a contingent fact. A contingent fact is a proposition that is true in at least one possible world and false in at least one possible world.

Now, you can reject my definition of brute fact or my definition of contingent as it is used with respect to brute fact, but then you are rejecting the way those words are used by philosophers and thus rejecting standard usage.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on July 28, 2014, 08:06:41 pm
Explanation applies to contingent facts. God's existence would be a necessary fact and thus does not need an explanation. This isn't a brute fact because that term is used with reference to contingent facts, and God's existence isn't a contingent fact. A contingent fact is a proposition that is true in at least one possible world and false in at least one possible world.

Richard Swinburne uses the term "ultimate brute fact" for God's existence and describes God as a "logically contingent being" with a "factually necessary existence".
The Existence of God
 By Richard Swinburne (http://books.google.com/books?id=qL-GWmeSXCQC&pg=PA96&lpg=PA96&dq=%22ultimate+brute+fact%22&source=bl&ots=R9a5argqNW&sig=NFqZrA2pW0BQyTZtIU8eLPSCpnc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vu3WU_7qDIvgoASykIKwCQ&ved=0CFoQ6AEwCw#v=onepage&q=%22ultimate%20brute%20fact%22&f=false)

Explanation applies to contingent facts. God's existence would be a necessary fact and thus does not need an explanation.

Not according to Dr Craig:

Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence (either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause).
Necessity and the Argument from Contingency  (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/necessity-and-the-argument-from-contingency#ixzz38oocZB4C)
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Language-Gamer on July 28, 2014, 08:11:43 pm
Yes: I'm well aware of Swinburne's views, but he's not contradicting anything I said.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on July 28, 2014, 08:58:34 pm
Explanation applies to contingent facts. God's existence would be a necessary fact and thus does not need an explanation.

Not according to Dr Craig:

Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence (either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause).
Necessity and the Argument from Contingency  (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/necessity-and-the-argument-from-contingency#ixzz38oocZB4C)

Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on July 28, 2014, 09:03:45 pm
Yes: I'm well aware of Swinburne's views, but he's not contradicting anything I said.

How so?
Richard Swinburne: What Kind of Necessary Being Could God Be? - 78m35s (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZtkdGyPWwA#t=78m35s)

 He may not be contradicting what you meant to say but it seems apparent that he is contradicting what you did say.

Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Gladius on August 13, 2014, 02:41:16 am
This is probably repeating some of the earlier objections to your OP but hopefully at least nuanced differently.

You start the title of your thread with  "There is at least one impossible fact"

Very confusing. For something to be considered factual (to use the word's ordinary meaning) it is required to be possible, unless the something is itself merely a statement that something else is impossible (and there are very few of those statements which are provably correct).

Then you proceed with:
"....the inescapable reality is that Something exists without a somehow.  That is, something, whether it be God or the physical universe, ultimately has no natural, logical explanation for its existence - it just is. Something that is not merely unexplained as of yet, but something for which there is no explanation at all, not even in principle."

Who said that is an inescapable reality? that it ultimately has no natural logical explanation? Because you don't have one? The premise that because most of us don't have a tested hypothesis for the somehow, does not result in a valid conclusion that the somehow doesn't exist.

next you say:
"It seems to me that something that exists as a brute fact without any underlying physical principle, property, dynamic, or process to account for its existence is the very definition of supernatural".

leaving aside the 'brute fact' debate, again, a faulty conclusion. Because you don't know of a physical principle, property, dynamic, or process to account for something's existence, doesn't mean there isn't one, nor that you can establish its existence as supernatural (although it could be). 

finally:
"At this point any failure or refusal to acknowledge the simple truth that there is at least one supernatural brute fact reeks and smacks of deliberate obtuseness and extreme intellectual dishonesty."

Problem with 'simple truths' is that they look very similar to subjective opinions.

When you can prove your 'one supernatural brute fact' then we naughty atheists might be more persuaded. At present, and somewhat predictably, you have no fact, but a question currently without an answer (natural or otherwise). We've had plenty of these over the course of human history, and they all eventually get one.

In the mean time, as always, we have theism to fill in the gaps.

 
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on August 17, 2014, 05:27:25 am
This is probably repeating some of the earlier objections to your OP but hopefully at least nuanced differently.

You start the title of your thread with  "There is at least one impossible fact"

Very confusing. For something to be considered factual (to use the word's ordinary meaning) it is required to be possible, unless the something is itself merely a statement that something else is impossible (and there are very few of those statements which are provably correct).

An impossible fact is a fact that fundamentally defies all reason and logic and yet is. Something that exists in reality but cannot be logically, rationally, naturally, coherently accounted for by any possible means in any possible way. The existence of one impossible fact tells us only that everything and anything is possible, that is, that there are no natural constraints of possibility.
 

Then you proceed with:
"....the inescapable reality is that Something exists without a somehow.  That is, something, whether it be God or the physical universe, ultimately has no natural, logical explanation for its existence - it just is. Something that is not merely unexplained as of yet, but something for which there is no explanation at all, not even in principle."
Who said that is an inescapable reality?

Not a who but a what. That what is known as Logic. If you can come up with an escape from the trilemma of circular causality, infinite regress, or brute fact then I'd love to know it but I'm afraid that there just isn't one.   


that it ultimately has no natural logical explanation?

The something in question can't have a natural explanation because any natural explanation would only serve to further beg the question. If physical principles can account for the something's existence then what accounts for those physical principles?  Can you see where this is going?

It can't have a logical explanation because it must either serve as its own explanation, which is logically incoherent, or it must exist without reason as a brute fact, which is also logically incoherent.

Because you don't have one? The premise that because most of us don't have a tested hypothesis for the somehow, does not result in a valid conclusion that the somehow doesn't exist.

Because there isn't one, because there will never be one, because there just can't be... according to reason and logic.


next you say:
"It seems to me that something that exists as a brute fact without any underlying physical principle, property, dynamic, or process to account for its existence is the very definition of supernatural".

leaving aside the 'brute fact' debate, again, a faulty conclusion. Because you don't know of a physical principle, property, dynamic, or process to account for something's existence, doesn't mean there isn't one, nor that you can establish its existence as supernatural (although it could be).
 

If a phenomena cannot be explained in natural terms then by definition it is supernatural - beyond the capacity of nature to produce or account for.

finally:
"At this point any failure or refusal to acknowledge the simple truth that there is at least one supernatural brute fact reeks and smacks of deliberate obtuseness and extreme intellectual dishonesty."

Problem with 'simple truths' is that they look very similar to subjective opinions.

When you can prove your 'one supernatural brute fact' then we naughty atheists might be more persuaded. At present, and somewhat predictably, you have no fact, but a question currently without an answer (natural or otherwise). We've had plenty of these over the course of human history, and they all eventually get one.


(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3b/Muenchhausen_Herrfurth_7_500x789.jpg/320px-Muenchhausen_Herrfurth_7_500x789.jpg)

You are essentially claiming that there is possibly some natural, logical means of achieving this feat but we just haven't figured it out yet. I claim that what is depicted above is a blatant absurdity, a self-evident logical impossibility.

In the mean time, as always, we have theism to fill in the gaps.

I'm saying that it's all a gap... it's a gap that can never be filled in.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: joppe on August 22, 2014, 10:06:17 am
Theists would say that God exists based on the necessity of God's existence. Everything that begins to exist has a cause and this would mean that God doesn't need an explanation. An atheist has harder time explaining the cause of the universe when it has a beginning.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on August 22, 2014, 02:20:56 pm
Theists would say that God exists based on the necessity of God's existence.

That is completely incoherent, something cannot be the reason for its own existence. Logic can lead to the conclusion that something must be the reason for its own existence in the same way that logic can lead to the conclusion that something just always existed for no reason or something just spontaneously popped into existence for no reason, but there is absolutely no coherent explanation possible for how or why something must exist because it can't possibly not exist because it's so maximally great that it just must in the same way that there is no coherent explanation for how something just always existed because it just has or for how something just popped into existence out of nothing because it just did - none of these are explanations, they're all just nonsensical gibberish.


If you think I'm wrong then I challenge you to provide a coherent explanation for something exists because it must and is the reason for its own existence - good luck!

Everything that begins to exist has a cause and this would mean that God doesn't need an explanation.

Everything needs an intelligible principle to account for the how and why of its existence. If something exists without some intelligible principle underlying it then it is just a supremely weird brute freaking fact. Now I posit that one supremely weird brute freaking fact must be the case because anything else just begs the question. And since at least one supremely weird brute freaking fact is real that means there are no rational grounds on which one can object to one supremely weird brute freaking fact over any of the other supremely weird brute freaking fact possibilities.

This means that the Theist can no longer object to infinite regress or spontaneous emergence ex nihilo on grounds of absurdity or incoherency because what the Theist is positing is equally absurd and incoherent.

An atheist has harder time explaining the cause of the universe when it has a beginning.

Both Theist and Atheist alike have an impossible time explaining the existence of something rather nothing - because it can't be done because it always comes back to some impossible absurdity or other.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: joppe on September 02, 2014, 03:05:10 pm
Theists would say that God exists based on the necessity of God's existence.

That is completely incoherent, something cannot be the reason for its own existence.

I don't think you understand what it means that God exists necessarily. Please, read the subject. It doesn't meant that God creates Himself, it means that God always exists. And by always, I don't mean in time. God is timeless.


Quote
If you think I'm wrong then I challenge you to provide a coherent explanation for something exists because it must and is the reason for its own existence - good luck!

Again, many mathematicians believe that numbers exist necessarily. I don't believe that but they do. This doesn't mean that numbers caused themselves.

Everything that begins to exist has a cause and this would mean that God doesn't need an explanation.

Everything needs an intelligible principle to account for the how and why of its existence. If something exists without some intelligible principle underlying it then it is just a supremely weird brute freaking fact. Now I posit that one supremely weird brute freaking fact must be the case because anything else just begs the question. And since at least one supremely weird brute freaking fact is real that means there are no rational grounds on which one can object to one supremely weird brute freaking fact over any of the other supremely weird brute freaking fact possibilities.

This means that the Theist can no longer object to infinite regress or spontaneous emergence ex nihilo on grounds of absurdity or incoherency because what the Theist is positing is equally absurd and incoherent.

Again, you don't seem to understand what it means that God exists necessarily.

An atheist has harder time explaining the cause of the universe when it has a beginning.

Both Theist and Atheist alike have an impossible time explaining the existence of something rather nothing - because it can't be done because it always comes back to some impossible absurdity or other.

It doesn't come back to impossible absurdity at least on theism. There will be no infinite regress and there will be no nature creating nature. In theism, the cause of time, space and matter is timeless, spaceless and immaterial. In theism, the cause is personal because if the cause was impersonal, our universe would seem infinite in age. Think about it. If the temperature was below 0 for past eternity, how could water begin to freeze a finite time ago? It would be impossible for the water to begin to freeze a finite time ago. But think about if the cause was personal. A man that has been sitting for past eternity can freely stand up.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on September 02, 2014, 08:31:55 pm

I don't think you understand what it means that God exists necessarily. Please, read the subject. It doesn't meant that God creates Himself, it means that God always exists.


I never claimed it meant that God creates Himself, I said that something cannot be the reason for its own existence. The claim is that God exists necessarily, meaning that the nonexistence of God is some kind of metaphysical contradiction. I say that this claim is completely incoherent, there is nothing that exits necessarily, that exists because it must, because it cannot not exist -

X)God exists because God must exist.

Y)But why must God Exist?

X)Because it is impossible for God to not exist.

Y)But why is it impossible for God to not exist?

X)Because God exists necessarily.

Y)But what necessitates God's existence?

X)The possibility that God exists.

(http://whysoblu.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/abbott_and_costello1.jpg)


Again, many mathematicians believe that numbers exist necessarily. I don't believe that but they do. This doesn't mean that numbers caused themselves.

Yeah, in some kind of mystical Platonic realm - I don't believe numbers exit anywhere except inside the mind. The claim that numbers exist necessarily is just as incoherent as the claim that God exists in this way.



Again, you don't seem to understand what it means that God exists necessarily.

Well I did say that 'God exists necessarily' is an incoherent statement so it seems you're right - I don't understand it. But neither do you or Dr. Craig, nor does anyone else for that matter because it is completely meaningless nonsense.



It doesn't come back to impossible absurdity at least on theism.

You keep telling yourself that.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on September 26, 2014, 03:32:06 pm
"So for all these reasons we should regard logical necessity as belonging primarily to human sentences, and only to any other entities as a convenient fiction; and then, I suggest, it follows that God is not a metaphysically necessary being(in the sense analysed in this paper), because it is not logically possible(in my sense) that there be any metaphysically necessary being." - Richard Swinburne - What kind of necessary being could God be?

http://users.ox.ac.uk/~orie0087/pdf_files/Papers%20from%20Philosophical%20Journals/What%20kind%20of%20necessary%20being%20could%20God%20be%20rev.pdf (http://users.ox.ac.uk/~orie0087/pdf_files/Papers%20from%20Philosophical%20Journals/What%20kind%20of%20necessary%20being%20could%20God%20be%20rev.pdf)
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on October 21, 2014, 01:05:46 pm
"The special dogmas offered by the various religions (dogmas that often bring them into conflict with science) express, in reality, not supernatural revelations but the endeavour of the human mind to imagine, in a manner agreeable to its categories and methods, what is absolute and infinite: this task is forced upon it by feeling. Now, all these formulæ—be they ever so learned, ingenious, or acute—turn out to be incapable of supporting the analysis. They appear satisfactory so long as we consider them from a poetical and sentimental standpoint, without strictly defining the meaning of words and the connection of ideas. But it is no longer the same when we seek to imagine them and to demonstrate them in a precise fashion.
For instance, let the question be in regard to the origin of the world—one of those questions which religion, in its various forms, usually attempts to solve. If we determine with precision the explanations that this problem allows, we find that they are reduced to three. We may assume, either that the world exists from all eternity, or that it has created itself, or that it has been created by an external power. Now, submitted to philosophical criticism, not one of these three hypotheses is really intelligible: each of the three conceals within itself logical incompatibilities, each is intrinsically contradictory. It is impossible to realise them in thought—to use the forcible English expression. These results have been, according to Herbert Spencer, definitely established through the criticism of Hamilton and of Mansel. Examination of the other determinations that theology claims to impose on primal being—unity, freedom personality, brings us to like conclusions.
That is why the object of religion, the absolute in so far as we try to picture it as existent, is incomprehensible, unthinkable.
What shall we now say about science? Is it not, contrariwise, clear and obvious—from beginning to end—in its principles, in its reasonings, in its results? Not so, in Herbert Spencer's view! Science, in her definitive task of reducing quality to quantity, cannot dispense with such notions as space, time, matter, movement, force, seeing that they are the necessary conditions of quantity. But all these notions, if we attempt to realise them in thought, end, likewise, in contradictions.
Try for instance, to imagine clearly, i.e. to understand with precise and absolute determination, what existence implies, whether space or time. If space and time really exist, there are, with respect to their nature, only three possible hypotheses. They must be either entities, or attributes of entities, or subjective realities. But not one of these three hypotheses can be developed without contradiction. Spencer, once again, adopts the results of Kantian and Scottish criticism.
That which is true of space and of time is equally so of the other primary data of science. Do we endeavour, tracing back the course of universal evolution, to conceive matter as having existed originally in a state of complete diffusion? We find ourselves confronted by the impossibility of imagining how it has reached that state. Do we turn our gaze towards the future? We are debarred from assigning limits to the succession of phenomena spread out before us. If, on the other hand, man looks into himself, he finds that the two ends of the thread of consciousness are beyond his reach. He can only comprehend the production of a state of consciousness after that state has already slipped by; and the disappearance of the conscious into the unconscious eludes him in like manner. The essence, the genesis and the end of all things are hidden from us. All our science leads to mystery in the long run.
There is, then, a resemblance, a bond, between science and religion. Both of these, when we dive into their principles, imply the unknowable, the unthinkable. Religion takes its rise in this unknowable, which it struggles fruitlessly to define. In vain, on its side, would science resolve on establishing itself within the region of the definable and knowable. The greater its progress and demonstration, the more obtrusive becomes that unknowable which it was bent on eliminating. Where religion begins, science ends, They turn their backs on one another, and yet they are reunited."

Herbert Spencer and the Unknowable (http://www.giffordlectures.org/Browse.asp?PubID=TPSRCP&Volume=0&Issue=0&ArticleID=5)


"Even aside from its alleged commitment to the ontological argument, Kant has a number of complaints about the cosmological argument. Indeed, according to Kant, the cosmological argument is characterized by an “entire nest of dialectical presumptions” which must be illuminated and “destroyed” (A609/B637). These dialectical presumptions include the attempt to infer from the contingent (within experience) to some cause lying outside the world of sense altogether, an effort involving a transcendental misapplication of the categories. It also includes, Kant claims, the dialectical effort to infer from the conceptual impossibility of an infinite series of causes to some actual first cause outside of sense. Such efforts involve a “false self-satisfaction” according to which reason feels itself to have finally landed on a truly necessary being. Unfortunately, according to Kant, this is only achieved by conflating the merely logical possibility of a concept (that it is not self-contradictory) with the transcendental (real) possibility of a thing. In short, the cosmological argument gets its momentum by confusing rational or subjective necessities with real or objective ones, and thus involves transcendental illusion (cf. A605/B633)."


Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on October 28, 2014, 07:44:57 pm
"Each new ontological theory, propounded in lieu of previous ones shown to be untenable, has been followed by a new criticism leading to a new scepticism. All possible conceptions have been one by one tried and found wanting; and so the entire field of speculation has been gradually exhausted without positive result: the only result reached being the negative one above stated, that the reality existing behind all appearances is, and must ever be, unknown."

    Pt. I, The Unknowable; Ch. IV, The Relativity of All Knowledge.

Hereafter as heretofore, higher faculty and deeper insight will raise rather than lower this sentiment. At present the most powerful and most instructed intellect has neither the knowledge nor the capacity required for symbolizing in thought the totality of things. Occupied with one or other division of Nature, the man of science usually does not know enough of the other divisions even to rudely conceive the extent and complexity of their phenomena; and, supposing him to have adequate knowledge of each, yet he is unable to think of them as a whole. Wider and more complex intellect may hereafter help him to form a vague consciousness of them in their totality. We may say that just as an undeveloped musical faculty, able only to appreciate a simple melody, can not grasp the variously-entangled passages and harmonies of a symphony, which in the minds of composer and conductor are unified into involved musical effects awakening far greater feeling than is possible to the musically uncultured, so, by future more evolved intelligences, the course of things now apprehensible only in parts may be apprehensible all together, with an accompanying feeling as much beyond that of the present cultured man as his feeling is beyond that of the savage.

And this feeling is not likely to be decreased but increased by that analysis of knowledge which, while forcing him to agnosticism, yet continually prompts him to imagine some solution of the Great Enigma which he knows can not be solved. Especially must this be so when he remembers that the very notions, beginning and end, cause and purpose, are relative notions belonging to human thought, which are probably inapplicable to the ultimate reality transcending human thought, and when, though suspecting that explanation is a word without meaning when applied to this ultimate reality, he yet feels compelled to think there must be an explanation.

But, amid the mysteries which become the more mysterious the more they are thought about, there will remain the one absolute certainty, that he is ever in presence of an Infinite and Eternal Energy, from which all things proceed.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on February 23, 2015, 05:44:31 am
"As I see it, the choice between naturalism and theism comes down to a choice between ultimate brute facts: God or the universe. Which is the more satisfactory terminus of or explanatory chains, the primordial or fundamental features of the universe, on the one hand, or a supernatural being with the omni-predicates attributed by theism? My view is that the former choice is at least as defensible as the latter, and that each choice amounts to the selection of a brutally-factual end-point for our explanatory enterprises.

As for your historical analysis, you are, of course, exactly right. Traditionally, most theists have regarded God as in some sense self-explanatory. Recently, perhaps in response to accumulated skeptical responses to traditional metaphysics, some leading theists seem to be backing away from those claims. My reading of Richard Swinburne is that he concedes that the universe could be the ultimate, uncaused existent, but that theism is the preferred hypothesis because of its allegedly greater simplicity (an argument I challenge in detail in my 1989 book God and the Burden of Proof). Likewise, as I understand William Lane Craig, his argument does not rest on the Principle of Sufficient reason, or any definition of divine necessity, but upon the metaphysical intuition that whatever begins to exist must have a cause. When it comes to things that begin in space and time, I share Craig’s intuition. When it comes to the origin of space/time itself, I do not.

Why think that there could be brute facts? Two reasons: (1) Our ordinary explanatory practices definitely do not require total explanation, and (2) The alternative to brute facts—that anything could be self-explanatory—is highly dubious.

(1) In all of the modes of explanation in natural science and ordinary life, explanation proceeds piecemeal from explanandum to explanans, where the latter, at least temporarily, is left unexplained. There is nothing wrong with this procedure. I can know that the pipes burst because of the freezing temperatures and the fact that ice is less dense than water, even if I do not have detailed knowledge of the structure of the water molecule. In tracing back causes to effects we hope ultimately to come to some set of completely general and basic laws and some set of fundamental entities. Let’s suppose that the Holy Grail of physics is found and a satisfactory TOE is one day established. We will then have some set of ultimate facts for which no deeper explanation exists, and this is precisely what we have hoped all along to find. In explanation, something is always left unexplained, and that this is the case when we reach physical “rock bottom” should neither surprise nor chagrin us. Indeed, there are logically only two alternatives to reaching a brutally-factual explanatory “rock bottom”: Either the explanatory chain proceeds back ad infinitum, or it terminates in something that is not brutally factual but is, in some sense, self-explanatory. As for the first alternative (and pace Prof. Craig), we cannot know a priori that the chain does not extend forever. I am supposing that, in fact, it seems to terminate in a fundamental theory. The second alternative to a brutally-factual explanatory terminus is something that is self-explanatory.

(2) What could it possibly mean to say that something is self-explanatory? I know that, as you note above, Ed, many philosophers have made suggestions here. I find these to be very obscure. They sound to me like verbal formulas devised to obviate a problem rather than solve it. I am not even sure that it is coherent to say that “God is pure actuality” or “God is his own sufficient reason.” I would have to ask for a very careful unpacking of these phrases before I would concede that they are meaningful.

In the meantime, it seems to me that the most obvious way for something to be self-explanatory would be for its existence to be logically necessary. But this option leads us into all the notorious problems associated with the ontological argument. How can there be a concept that guarantees its own instantiation? It can never be contradictory to deny the exemplification of a concept, because that denial does not contradict any of the content of that concept, but only denies that such content is instantiated in extra-conceptual reality. “The non-existent necessarily existent being,” is, of course, a contradictory concept. However, there is, and can be, no contradiction in saying “The concept of the necessarily existent being is not instantiated.” In fact, as has long been known since Russell’s famous example of “the present King of France,” to deny that concept is exemplified is merely to say “There is no x such that x exemplifies predicates P1, P2, P3…Pn.” Such a statement in no way contradicts the mentioned concept, whatever its content.

In what other way, other than by being logically necessary, could an entity be self-explanatory? Well, it could be metaphysically rather than logically necessary. As far as I know, the best candidate for specifying a notion of metaphysical necessity is the PSR, which we may express as: “Nothing exists or is what it is unless there is a sufficient reason for its existence and its nature.” But why should we accept the PSR? As I say above, our ordinary explanatory practices do not presuppose it. Is it intuitively obvious, as I think that Leibniz held that it was? Not to me. On the contrary, with Hume, my intuition is that there very well could be something that exists without any explanation. As curious creatures we may hanker for an explanation for, literally, everything, but I can see no a priori basis for thinking that reality owes us such satisfaction.

The upshot is that if there are no indisputable principles requiring either a logically or metaphysically necessary being, then it is eminently rational to posit brute facts." - Keith M. Parsons  University of Houston--Clear Lake,  Professor of Philosophy

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2014/02/28/reply-to-prof-fesers-fourth-question/ (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2014/02/28/reply-to-prof-fesers-fourth-question/)
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on March 02, 2015, 11:50:42 pm
"My intuition demands an explanation for every fact, but we shouldn't be too quick to accept the dictates of our intuition. In any case, there is no solution to the apparent paradox of ultimate origins that does not offend my intuition in one way or another. Unexplainable fact, infinite regress, self-explaining fact: they're all unappealing. But the last of these (self-explaining fact) seems the worst of all to me, because I haven't the slightest idea what that could possibly mean. It seems like a strange concoction of words with only the most superficial appearance of meaning.

 Logically, our explanatory regresses must (1) continue ad infinitum, (2) be circular, (3) terminate in a brute fact, or (4) terminate in something self-explanatory. As you note, each of these seems counter-intuitive. However, the brute-fact option seems by far the most reasonable to me."
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Booger on April 13, 2015, 12:07:37 am
Good OP. Kudos. It's hardly a new idea, though, and I've been hammered by atheists for saying essentially same thing and taking it to the next logical step and ask, "What must be in order for what is to be as it is?" That, and not accepting "I don't know" or "chance" as being legitimate answers.

In his 1899 book, Essay on the Bases of the Mystic Knowledge (https://ia802504.us.archive.org/22/items/thebasesofthemys00receuoft/thebasesofthemys00receuoft_bw.pdf), Edouard Récéjac tackles the problem head on. The excerpt below is from the first page of the introduction:

Quote
MUST we believe that Mysticism is like"some vast ocean, the empire of illusion" where adventurous thinkers go astray, or is it a state of direct intuition which may be claimed by right, as divinely imparted?

The question presents itself to us with this alternative: either Mysticism contains a negation of thought worse than Scepticism, or it is the most perfect activity of the mind. If it be that Mysticism is only obstinate persistence to know the unknowable, we shall have to accept the first conclusion. The pursuit of the impossible perverts our faculties and makes them unfit for their natural use. But, should Mysticism prove to be an experience distinct from what we understand by the word "knowing," it would be worth our while to inquire if something new is introduced into the consciousness, and in what ways.

Reason is in possession of too much light to be able to remain quite at ease in the region of clear ideas, but not enough to know first principles of actual knowledge. In this penumbra who can trace the exact limit of perceptions and say where the true disappears in the probable, where the probable vanishes in illusion?
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: jakswan on April 13, 2015, 01:26:42 am
Whether one is an atheist, theist, or agnostic the inescapable reality is that Something exists without a somehow.

No, you don't know if this is true.

Quote
It strikes me as bizarre that atheists are so keen to point out how unnecessary and simplistic it is for the theist to invoke God as an explanation for physical reality when they themselves are forced to resort to logical absurdities

No if you don't know then don't offer an explanation.

Quote
At this point any failure or refusal to acknowledge the simple truth that there is at least one supernatural brute fact reeks and smacks of deliberate obtuseness and extreme intellectual dishonesty.   

With respect atheists are not attempting to answer questions they can't possibly know the answers to with magical creatures.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on April 13, 2015, 03:27:36 am
No, you don't know if this is true.

It's one of the few things we can know for sure. There is absolutely no way around it, anything other than brute fact simply begs the question.


Quote
With respect atheists are not attempting to answer questions they can't possibly know the answers to with magical creatures.

Anything that exists without a how is magical. Past eternal and ex nihilo are both magical explanations because they do not and cannot have a how. Any explanation of how just kicks the can a little further down the road but it will never lead to any ultimate explanation. Nature cannot account for Nature because nothing is self explaining, that's just not possible.

Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: jakswan on April 13, 2015, 03:34:09 am
No, you don't know if this is true.

It's one of the few things we can know for sure. There is absolutely no way around it, anything other than brute fact simply begs the question.


Quote
With respect atheists are not attempting to answer questions they can't possibly know the answers to with magical creatures.

Anything that exists without a how is magical. Past eternal and ex nihilo are both magical explanations because they do not and cannot have a how. Any explanation of how just kicks the can a little further down the road but it will never lead to any ultimate explanation. Nature cannot account for Nature because nothing is self explaining, that's just not possible.

My don't know doesn't make your guess correct.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on April 13, 2015, 03:43:44 am
No, you don't know if this is true.

It's one of the few things we can know for sure. There is absolutely no way around it, anything other than brute fact simply begs the question.


Quote
With respect atheists are not attempting to answer questions they can't possibly know the answers to with magical creatures.

Anything that exists without a how is magical. Past eternal and ex nihilo are both magical explanations because they do not and cannot have a how. Any explanation of how just kicks the can a little further down the road but it will never lead to any ultimate explanation. Nature cannot account for Nature because nothing is self explaining, that's just not possible.

My don't know doesn't make your guess correct.

Many atheist philosophers and physicists won't even argue this point. This whole thread is basically for the rank and file atheists that still don't get it. And it's not my assertion, I didn't come up with it, I got it from a Paul Davies interview and a Terrance Mckenna lecture, then I read a debate between Fesser and Parsons over at Patheos and Parsons was making the same point. Sean Carrol seems to be arguing along these lines as well when he says that reasons only apply within the universe and not to it.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: jakswan on April 13, 2015, 04:16:28 am
Many atheist philosophers and physicists won't even argue this point. This whole thread is basically for the rank and file atheists that still don't get it. And it's not my assertion, I didn't come up with it, I got it from a Paul Davies interview and a Terrance Mckenna lecture, then I read a debate between Fesser and Parsons over at Patheos and Parsons was making the same point. Sean Carrol seems to be arguing along these lines as well when he says that reasons only apply within the universe and not to it.

I'm definitely not a cosmologist what I do know current knowledge of what exists outside of the universe is very limited. We know as much about this as a stone age man knew about Thunder, you are the same as the stone age men that claimed it was definitely angry gods causing the thunder.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Booger on April 13, 2015, 10:35:44 am
See what I mean, H.H.? Imagine how it is to ask the next logical question.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on April 13, 2015, 10:51:47 am
See what I mean, H.H.? Imagine how it is to ask the next logical question.

What's the next logical question?
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Booger on April 13, 2015, 11:44:42 am
See what I mean, H.H.? Imagine how it is to ask the next logical question.

What's the next logical question?
See post #29. Theism doesn't stop with the recognition the inexplicable fact of existence. It takes it to the next step by asking "what must be in order for what is to be as it is?" and doesn't settle for "I don't know" or "chance."
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: jakswan on April 13, 2015, 12:26:43 pm
See what I mean, H.H.? Imagine how it is to ask the next logical question.

What's the next logical question?
See post #29. Theism doesn't stop with the recognition the inexplicable fact of existence. It takes it to the next step by asking "what must be in order for what is to be as it is?" and doesn't settle for "I don't know" or "chance."

Its a bit like 'I don't know what caused the universe so I'll guess it was the invisible pink fairy, who would you believe shares exactly the same morals as me who are in fact are applicable to everyone.'

Very "logical" in my book.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Booger on April 13, 2015, 02:05:49 pm
See what I mean, H.H.? Imagine how it is to ask the next logical question.

What's the next logical question?
See post #29. Theism doesn't stop with the recognition the inexplicable fact of existence. It takes it to the next step by asking "what must be in order for what is to be as it is?" and doesn't settle for "I don't know" or "chance."

Its a bit like 'I don't know what caused the universe so I'll guess it was the invisible pink fairy, who would you believe shares exactly the same morals as me who are in fact are applicable to everyone.'

Very "logical" in my book.
"Cause" doesn't enter into the question at all. The point of the OP is that there is at least one thing that must be taken as brute fact. I followed it with a comment, question and an excerpt that deals directly with the implications.

It's of no concern of mine if you don't want to deal with the implications. Go ahead, build your house on a foundation of sand.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on April 13, 2015, 06:07:29 pm

"Cause" doesn't enter into the question at all. The point of the OP is that there is at least one thing that must be taken as brute fact.

And that brute facts are just as magical as any supernatural accounting. I still don't see any reason to believe in God over the other possibilities, but the other possibilities aren't in any way rationally superior to a theistic explanation.



Quote
I followed it with a comment, question and an excerpt that deals directly with the implications.

Thanks for that, I meant to respond but I got sidetracked. It seems to me that mysticism would be the only way to acquire knowledge in this area, but I don't think the knowledge obtained from mystical pursuits or revelations could really be a rational\intellectual sort of knowledge.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on April 13, 2015, 06:24:07 pm
See what I mean, H.H.? Imagine how it is to ask the next logical question.

What's the next logical question?
See post #29. Theism doesn't stop with the recognition the inexplicable fact of existence. It takes it to the next step by asking "what must be in order for what is to be as it is?" and doesn't settle for "I don't know" or "chance."

But then it's no longer a rational philosophy. When you do that you cross over into mystical theology. And I have no problem with that so long as everyone acknowledges that the premises and conclusions involved in this area can't be derived or accepted on purely rational grounds. 
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Booger on April 13, 2015, 06:35:29 pm
I do not disagree with either of your posts. In fact, I wholeheartedly agree -- and I'm speaking as a theist.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on April 13, 2015, 08:42:57 pm
I do not disagree with either of your posts. In fact, I wholeheartedly agree -- and I'm speaking as a theist.

I'll go one farther and say that none of the possibilities for ultimate origins are even available for rational consideration because they are all conceptually impossible. Seems like if there is anything that can be known about it then mysticism is probably the only viable means of getting at it.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Booger on April 13, 2015, 10:45:40 pm
I do not disagree with either of your posts. In fact, I wholeheartedly agree -- and I'm speaking as a theist.

I'll go one farther and say that none of the possibilities for ultimate origins are even available for rational consideration because they are all conceptually impossible. Seems like if there is anything that can be known about it then mysticism is probably the only viable means of getting at it.
I concur. Plotinus, I'm sure, and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing would also concur. Also, I do not doubt that you do not see any reason to believe in God over other possibilities.

I would remind you, however, that the conscious mind is aware of only a small fraction of the information it receives. That means "mystical awareness" can occur at the unconscious level and raise to the surface in any number of conditioned ways. I think this can go a long way towards explaining the pervasiveness of religion throughout history and all cultures and its resistance to change and why the question at the end of the excerpt stands.

Mind can never hope to grasp the concept of an Absolute without first attempting to break the unity of such a reality. Mind is unifying of divergencies, but in the absence of such divergencies, mind finds no basis upon which to attempt to formulate understanding concepts.




Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on April 13, 2015, 11:21:08 pm
And the question at the end of the excerpt stands.

I don't think it does though because the question is rationally illicit. You may believe in God because you've had a mystical experience but that doesn't qualify you to explain the metaphysics of God's existence or the nature of God's metaphysical relation to the phenomenal universe. So you can basically just chuck all of natural theology right out the window because while it is a very impressive system of human reasoning(and I do admire it immensely for that), it's ultimately a brilliant but misguided attempt to explain what is fundamentally unexplainable.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Booger on April 14, 2015, 01:14:13 am
The author of the book concedes, and indeed insists, that the Absolute, the One, the Great Mystery, or whatever cannot be anything other than an abstract hypothetical. But unless you want to disengage from the rational mind entirely, there are certain things that can be ascertained from the sheer fact that there is something that cannot not exist, aseity, for example, and we can be just as certain of an overarching unifying principle. They are what MUST be in order for what is to be as it is.

I realize that this is getting into unexplored territory for a typical atheist, an atheist who claims (and it is just a claim) to rely solely on empirical evidence, material evidence or the lack thereof, in deciding on what to believe. I also realize that it takes courage to move past the fear of going where uncertain reason leads. I suggest yet another book to read: The Psychic Grid by Beatrice Bruteau.

I agree that mysticism based on mystical experience is not qualified to explain the metaphysics of God's existence. It doesn't claim to, nor does it claim to explain God's metaphysical relation to the universe. It doesn't try to convey facts or beliefs, either. It does not try to teach what cannot be taught. What it does do is point.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on April 16, 2015, 08:12:17 pm
The author of the book concedes, and indeed insists, that the Absolute, the One, the Great Mystery, or whatever cannot be anything other than an abstract hypothetical. But unless you want to disengage from the rational mind entirely, there are certain things that can be ascertained from the sheer fact that there is something that cannot not exist, aseity, for example, and we can be just as certain of an overarching unifying principle. They are what MUST be in order for what is to be as it is.

Aseity in the sense of being without cause seems extremely difficult to argue against, aseity in the sense of of something being the self-substantiating sufficient reason for its own existence seems incoherent, or at least far less certain.

Quote
I realize that this is getting into unexplored territory for a typical atheist, an atheist who claims (and it is just a claim) to rely solely on empirical evidence, material evidence or the lack thereof, in deciding on what to believe. I also realize that it takes courage to move past the fear of going where uncertain reason leads.

I accept rational proof, it's just that most rational proofs for God either depend on premises that result in incoherent absurdities when taken to conclusion, as in the PSR. Or their are alternative explanations which serve as well as or better than theism, as in the case of the multiverse  v design. 


Quote
I agree that mysticism based on mystical experience is not qualified to explain the metaphysics of God's existence. It doesn't claim to, nor does it claim to explain God's metaphysical relation to the universe. It doesn't try to convey facts or beliefs, either. It does not try to teach what cannot be taught. What it does do is point.

So why not just stop there? Isn't communion enough? Why insist on the validity of natural theology when it has failed to rationally demonstrate anything about God's existence, and all it really amounts to is an elaborate system of metaphysical speculation based off extremely dubious premises?
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Booger on April 17, 2015, 12:21:54 pm
The author of the book concedes, and indeed insists, that the Absolute, the One, the Great Mystery, or whatever cannot be anything other than an abstract hypothetical. But unless you want to disengage from the rational mind entirely, there are certain things that can be ascertained from the sheer fact that there is something that cannot not exist, aseity, for example, and we can be just as certain of an overarching unifying principle. They are what MUST be in order for what is to be as it is.

Aseity in the sense of being without cause seems extremely difficult to argue against, aseity in the sense of of something being the self-substantiating sufficient reason for its own existence seems incoherent, or at least far less certain.
The only difference is semantics. Inexplicable though it might be, if anything at all is coherent, we MUST assume an overarching unifying principle.

Quote
Quote
I realize that this is getting into unexplored territory for a typical atheist, an atheist who claims (and it is just a claim) to rely solely on empirical evidence, material evidence or the lack thereof, in deciding on what to believe. I also realize that it takes courage to move past the fear of going where uncertain reason leads.

I accept rational proof, it's just that most rational proofs for God either depend on premises that result in incoherent absurdities when taken to conclusion, as in the PSR. Or their are alternative explanations which serve as well as or better than theism, as in the case of the multiverse  v design. 
I'm not talking about God at all, much less any rational proofs of God's existence. I'm sticking to the subject. I'm talking about logical necessities derivable from the "one impossible fact."

Even if the multiverse hypothesis (it's really not even a theory) is correct, there still must be an overarching unifying Principle for any one of them to exist, something that necessitates stable atomic values.

Quote
Quote
I agree that mysticism based on mystical experience is not qualified to explain the metaphysics of God's existence. It doesn't claim to, nor does it claim to explain God's metaphysical relation to the universe. It doesn't try to convey facts or beliefs, either. It does not try to teach what cannot be taught. What it does do is point.

Quote
So why not just stop there? Isn't communion enough? Why insist on the validity of natural theology when it has failed to rationally demonstrate anything about God's existence, and all it really amounts to is an elaborate system of metaphysical speculation based off extremely dubious premises?
Again, I'm not trying to demonstrate anything at all about God's existence. I'm just trying to show that if something exists necessarily, certain things follow that are equally necessary.

There is nothing in the possible whereby it can become Being: in and of itself, possibility cannot actualize. There is nothing between these two logical terms, possibility and being, to connect them. The copula that gives passage from the possible to being, from the abstract to the real, must be something very remote from the distinct categories. It doesn't matter whether the "something" is an act of Will with an aspect of subjective desire or an objective Force: it must ever be a self-organizing Principle of motion.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Interest12345 on May 12, 2015, 10:00:20 pm
Whether one is an atheist, theist, or agnostic the inescapable reality is that Something exists without a somehow.  That is, something, whether it be God or the physical universe, ultimately has no natural, logical explanation for its existence - it just is. Something that is not merely unexplained as of yet, but something for which there is no explanation at all, not even in principle. It seems to me that something that exists as a brute fact without any underlying physical principle, property, dynamic, or process to account for its existence is the very definition of supernatural.   
Both atheists and theists have to accept that there is something rather than nothing. The theist invokes an all powerful being, whereas the atheist accepts things for how they are. It's the theist who has the inescapable problem that can't be explained...How could an all powerful being simply exist, by brute fact, without any explanation whatsoever? It seems impossible. If we have to accept that something exists, let's accept what we can actually observe. It's not reasonable to observe our universe and invoke an all powerful designer to explain reality. You are then left with what seems to be an impossibility...that a highly ordered, all powerful, all intelligent being just happens to exist without a cause or an explanation.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on May 13, 2015, 02:04:04 am
Whether one is an atheist, theist, or agnostic the inescapable reality is that Something exists without a somehow.  That is, something, whether it be God or the physical universe, ultimately has no natural, logical explanation for its existence - it just is. Something that is not merely unexplained as of yet, but something for which there is no explanation at all, not even in principle. It seems to me that something that exists as a brute fact without any underlying physical principle, property, dynamic, or process to account for its existence is the very definition of supernatural.   
Both atheists and theists have to accept that there is something rather than nothing. The theist invokes an all powerful being, whereas the atheist accepts things for how they are. It's the theist who has the inescapable problem that can't be explained...How could an all powerful being simply exist, by brute fact, without any explanation whatsoever? It seems impossible. If we have to accept that something exists, let's accept what we can actually observe. It's not reasonable to observe our universe and invoke an all powerful designer to explain reality. You are then left with what seems to be an impossibility...that a highly ordered, all powerful, all intelligent being just happens to exist without a cause or an explanation.

I basically agree with that, but it's beside the point. The point is that no matter how you dice it, there's at least one impossible fact, so anyone who isn't experiencing utter existential astonishment at least twice a day is kind of dense.   
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on May 25, 2015, 07:45:50 pm
"too bold ever to carry conviction with it to a man, sufficiently apprized of the weakness of human reason, and the narrow limits to which it is confined in all its operations. Though the chain of arguments which conduct to it were ever so logical, there must arise a strong suspicion, if not an absolute assurance, that it has carried us quite beyond the reach of our faculties, when it leads to conclusions so extraordinary, and so remote from common life and experience. We are got into fairy land, long ere we have reached the last steps of our theory; and there we have no reason to trust our common methods of argument, or to think that our usual analogies and probabilities have any authority. Our line is too short to fathom such immense abysses. And however we may flatter ourselves that we are guided, in every step which we take, by a kind of verisimilitude and experience, we may be assured that this fancied experience has no authority when we thus apply it to subjects that lie entirely out of the sphere of experience."
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: H.H. on May 25, 2015, 07:52:44 pm
"But when we look beyond human affairs and the properties of the surrounding bodies: when we carry our speculations into the two eternities, before and after the present state of things; into the creation and formation of the universe; the existence and properties of spirits; the powers and operations of one universal Spirit existing without beginning and without end; omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, infinite, and incomprehensible: we must be far removed from the smallest tendency to scepticism not to be apprehensive, that we have here got quite beyond the reach of our faculties. So long as we confine our speculations to trade, or morals, or politics, or criticism, we make appeals, every moment, to common sense and experience, which strengthen our philosophical conclusions, and remove, at least in part, the suspicion which we so justly entertain with regard to every reasoning that is very subtile and refined. But, in theological reasonings, we have not this advantage; while, at the same time, we are employed upon objects, which, we must be sensible, are too large for our grasp, and of all others, require most to be familiarized to our apprehension. We are like foreigners in a strange country, to whom every thing must seem suspicious, and who are in danger every moment of transgressing against the laws and customs of the people with whom they live and converse. We know not how far we ought to trust our vulgar methods of reasoning in such a subject; since, even in common life, and in that province which is peculiarly appropriated to them, we cannot account for them, and are entirely guided by a kind of instinct or necessity in employing them."
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: LADZDAZL on May 25, 2015, 11:45:15 pm
Quote
anyone who isn't experiencing utter existential astonishment at least twice a day is kind of dense.   

+1

I'm tempted to steal that as part of my signature line.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Alexander on June 02, 2015, 10:29:43 pm
I don't necessarily agree with everything you said, but it would be nice if we could all agree that no matter what is true, it is going to be the most amazing/improbable thing to have ever happened...at least that's how it seems to me. But at the same time this doesn't mean that all outcomes are equally possible.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Wretch on March 19, 2019, 07:15:00 am
H.H.

In you OP you commented concerning atheistic world views that "Let's be clear, these explanations are all just as good as the theistic explanation..."

That is highly questionable, for on what basis does a naturalistic or materialistic world view justify absolute or objective facts/truth, objective morality, certainty in knowledge, our consciousness and free-will, valid reasoning, valid observation, and the universal laws of logic?

Only theism provides a sound basis for all those features of our existence.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: jayceeii on March 19, 2019, 02:26:40 pm
H.H.

In you OP you commented concerning atheistic world views that "Let's be clear, these explanations are all just as good as the theistic explanation..."

That is highly questionable, for on what basis does a naturalistic or materialistic world view justify absolute or objective facts/truth, objective morality, certainty in knowledge, our consciousness and free-will, valid reasoning, valid observation, and the universal laws of logic?

Only theism provides a sound basis for all those features of our existence.
Theism does not provide these things yet, only a “shout out” that, “God made it.” Why haven’t the creatures been examining themselves? Who enquires to see if there is a soul? God has evidently so far only made people that can read scriptures, not know themselves. The atheist view is all these things you list came to them naturally by evolution, but neither theists nor atheists take a close look at these things, to see what they really are. Is man merely the “rational animal,” or can he discover his mind is from a higher source?
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Wretch on March 20, 2019, 10:15:04 pm
Creation requires a creator.  Pretty simple.  To recognize the necessity of God is not to say "God made it"; it's to say that every painting has a painter, and every building a builder, and every creation a creator.  Simple.  Absent God you have only absurdity, the notion that absolutely nothing creating everything. 
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: jayceeii on March 21, 2019, 09:41:05 am
Creation requires a creator.  Pretty simple.  To recognize the necessity of God is not to say "God made it"; it's to say that every painting has a painter, and every building a builder, and every creation a creator.  Simple.  Absent God you have only absurdity, the notion that absolutely nothing creating everything.
Did you take high school or college physics? Have you read about Einstein’s theories and how this math and related math generated by thousands of other physicists points to a “big bang?” Why are you ignoring science, such as it is? You likely have a cell phone, that relies on other results of this math, even as you assert there couldn’t be a big bang! Throw out your cell phone then, denying that it works! You don’t know the creation is a painting, you don’t know it is a building. Saying the creation is like a painting begs the question. Advanced math says it’s a random event, beside which the Bible is superstition.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Tom Paine on July 11, 2019, 06:51:46 pm
Creation requires a creator.  Pretty simple.  To recognize the necessity of God is not to say "God made it"; it's to say that every painting has a painter, and every building a builder, and every creation a creator.  Simple.  Absent God you have only absurdity, the notion that absolutely nothing creating everything.

Not if the initial condition of the Universe,"Creation," is uncaused and hence uncreated.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: jayceeii on July 20, 2019, 01:57:36 pm
Creation requires a creator.  Pretty simple.  To recognize the necessity of God is not to say "God made it"; it's to say that every painting has a painter, and every building a builder, and every creation a creator.  Simple.  Absent God you have only absurdity, the notion that absolutely nothing creating everything.

Not if the initial condition of the Universe,"Creation," is uncaused and hence uncreated.
TP is correct, and the flaw of the theologians is substituting imagination for science. God can be proved, but to advanced souls there is no need. They see the marks of His work in their souls. Scientists will no doubt continue to deny the possibility of a Creator, backing their ideas by big mathematical tomes. Yet in the end, the theologians will deny God too.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: Michael John on July 25, 2019, 09:19:55 pm
Do you think that the things and events in this world are arbitrary? Then there must be a reason for everything that happens, even at the most minuscule level. This is the same as saying that Reason itself is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
Title: Re: There is at least one impossible fact
Post by: jayceeii on August 30, 2019, 12:26:51 pm
Do you think that the things and events in this world are arbitrary? Then there must be a reason for everything that happens, even at the most minuscule level. This is the same as saying that Reason itself is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
Reason exists in (some) minds, not in nature. Causes and effects are not a branch of logic. To admit things are caused and are not arbitrary, is not the same as saying Reason causes them. You appear hung up in a lingual bind, adding extra elements to the definition of “arbitrary,” insisting if it is not arbitrary then it must be reason. A raw cause is not rational. You’re also mixing up two definitions of “reason,” as a cause, or mental faculty.

It is apparent that I am unable to describe my position satisfactorily to you, and you are unable to describe your position satisfactorily to me. I continue nevertheless to maintain my position, describing it various ways, while you are only able to describe your position one way, unable to find a single cogent example. Your mind is rejecting the principle that when something can only be described one way, it is probably not real. Conversely one could state the principle that when people are discussing real things, for the purposes of clarification it is often necessary to describe them in several ways, until the point is better understood. Other people than myself, who accept this principle, might view you as an illogical or irrational person, or as I have said, one who is caught in a false abstraction, not assigning realistic meaning to his words. So even were there something real behind your argument that logic is a ruler or controller, this controller has failed to bring logic in you. Then you have to explain how when logic controls everything, some people become illogical. And if there are people who accept the principle I relate, why are they different?

To be fair, let me try to summarize your argument so far, that seems to be that logic is the source of stability in the world. Attempting to find an example for your idea logic is the world controller, you first expressed amazement that the world abided while you closed your eyes. Next you cited a mathematical paper by a lone individual unsupported as yet by other scientists, arguing that some aspects of quantum theory correspond with certain logical propositions. Next, while implying those who didn’t agree with you might not be sane, you pointed to the general agreement among people about the material realities. So in essence you saying logic is a controller, without being able to communicate what that might mean, i.e. saying a thing in one way only, a sign that what you see may be unreal.

The most pressing argument against you appears to be that the humans are in constant disagreement about everything that is not legislated, and usually there too. To be in disagreement means that logic is not the same in every mind, i.e. even did logic control the material realities, it has failed in the living entities. You also posited that someone, not yourself, may eventually provide a theory that the bodies and personalities were constructed by logic, at the same time failing to admit, evidently from lack of conceptual power and logic in your own mind, that war, crime and opposition generally are signs logic fails among humans. As you point to logic as the putative world controller, you have established no difference from the theists positing a God of their imagination. You are taking this by faith, and it might be shown generating this idea merely to be different.