jbejon

  • ***
  • 2610 Posts
    • View Profile
    • My Academia page
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2008, 11:21:17 am »
But in the case that God is not caused by logic (i.e., God is contingent), then it is a coincidence that God exists as a logically necessitated being. Does that make any sense to you?

   

   Not really, I'm afraid.  I suppose I don't know what it means for something to be caused by logic, since I can't see how abstract entities (like the laws of logic) can have causal powers.

1

jbejon

  • ***
  • 2610 Posts
    • View Profile
    • My Academia page
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2008, 11:42:17 am »
Thanks jbejon.  I guess I was just saying what Dr. Craig had already said, except in a different way.  I wonder if the example of humans being able to create something more complex than themselves would be helpful to his ministry?

   

   Hi JD.  Sorry.  We seem to have lost your question in all this.  I think it would be interesting if it could be shown that humans could do such a thing.  However, I'm skeptical of there ever being a precise enough definition of complexity as to warrant such a conclusion.  Personally, I think the fact that we routinely infer the hand of human activity on the basis of their much simpler effects is a bigger problem for Dawkins.

2

Harvey

  • *****
  • 24184 Posts
    • View Profile
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2008, 11:55:13 am »

jbejon wrote: Not really, I'm afraid. I suppose I don't know what it means for something to be caused by logic, since I can't see how abstract entities (like the laws of logic) can have causal powers.

Yet, because God is a possible being he is therefore a necessary being. If God is contingent (i.e., not necessary), then he is just a possible being (and nothing more) unless something causes him to be necessary. If logic is not what causes him to be necessary, but he is necessary, then what causes him to be necessary?


3

jbejon

  • ***
  • 2610 Posts
    • View Profile
    • My Academia page
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2008, 12:11:13 pm »
If logic is not what causes him to be necessary, but he is necessary, then what causes him to be necessary?

   

   Nothing causes God to be necessary, in the same way that nothing causes a triangle to have three sides, or the set of the natural numbers to contain just those numbers and not, say, the real numbers as well.

   

   Logic, then, is the means by which we deduce God's necessary existence from its possibility, but this does not mean it is the cause of God's necessary existence.  Suppose one of us lives in America, and it's not me.  It therefore follows that it's you.  But what causes you to live in America?  Well, not the laws of logic, that's for sure.  Why?  Because the means by which we come to know something is quite distinct from why it is the way it is in the first place.

   

   I'm sure you know all this, so I must be missing your point somewhere along the line...

4

loko5

  • **
  • 207 Posts
    • View Profile
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2008, 12:14:37 pm »

Getting back to the OP,

Jelly_Donut wrote: I have been listening to quite a few debates and noticed that Richard Dawkins hinges his arguments on the belief that the existence of a designer is improbable as a designer must contain at least as much information as what it creates or designs, and information is inversely related to probability.  By his reasoning, God would have to be monumentally complex, hence astronomically improbable.

I reason that this can not be true as humans can design material objects that are far more complex than themselves.  Does this mean that humans can not exist since our creations are more complex than ourselves?


As is usually the case, when Dawkins is talking about something other than biology, his ideas simply make no sense.  You are completely correct, JD.  Complexity is tough to define, but if we think of it in terms of information, as Dawkins seems to, we can consider the amount of information embodied in a human being to be the amount of information in one's DNA.  According to Wikipedia, "The haploid human genome occupies a total of just over 3 billion DNA base pairs and has a data size of approximately 750 Megabytes."  Can human beings create things with more than 750 MB of information?  Of course.  I have several files on my computer that are larger than this.

Harvey and jbejon, I find your extended discussion here very interesting.  I am a big fan of the Leibnizian cosmological argument, and I believe this argument works as a theistic argument only if divine simplicity holds.  It's hard to get a handle on what divine simplicity means, though.  For material objects, I think simplicity means having few parts (actually few distinct parts), or alternatively containing little embedded information.  But God, being immaterial, has no parts.  Does God have information embedded within him?  I don't know.  Any thoughts?

5

Harvey

  • *****
  • 24184 Posts
    • View Profile
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2008, 01:26:39 pm »

jbejon wrote: Nothing causes God to be necessary, in the same way that nothing causes a triangle to have three sides, or the set of the natural numbers to contain just those numbers and not, say, the real numbers as well.

Well, triangles, natural numbers, etc. are necessarily deduced from the axioims of analytical geometry and arithmetic. If God owes his existence to mathematical axioms, then wouldn't God be caused by logic?

James wrote: Logic, then, is the means by which we deduce God's necessary existence from its possibility, but this does not mean it is the cause of God's necessary existence. Suppose one of us lives in America, and it's not me. It therefore follows that it's you. But what causes you to live in America? Well, not the laws of logic, that's for sure. Why? Because the means by which we come to know something is quite distinct from why it is the way it is in the first place.


However, it's apparently not necessary that either of us live in America. It's a contingent fact that one of us lives in America. Is God's existence a contingent fact (i.e. just happens to be that way), or is God's existence a logically necessary fact derived from some axioms?

6

Harvey

  • *****
  • 24184 Posts
    • View Profile
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #21 on: July 31, 2008, 01:29:45 pm »

loko5 wrote: Harvey and jbejon, I find your extended discussion here very interesting.  I am a big fan of the Leibnizian cosmological argument, and I believe this argument works as a theistic argument only if divine simplicity holds.  It's hard to get a handle on what divine simplicity means, though.  For material objects, I think simplicity means having few parts (actually few distinct parts), or alternatively containing little embedded information.  But God, being immaterial, has no parts.  Does God have information embedded within him?  I don't know.  Any thoughts?

Well, think of God's knowledge in terms of binary code. The longer the binary message, the more knowledge God has, and hence the more complex God is. Now, how long would it take to download God's knowledge into today's computers? Would that file be too big to fit on all of the world's computer storage combined? If so, God is complex.


7

jbejon

  • ***
  • 2610 Posts
    • View Profile
    • My Academia page
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #22 on: July 31, 2008, 03:09:42 pm »
Well, triangles, natural numbers, etc. are necessarily deduced from the axioims of analytical geometry and arithmetic.  If God owes his existence to mathematical axioms, then wouldn't God be caused by logic?

   

   If God owed his existence to some sort of logical axiom then, yes, I think his existence would be caused by logic.  But I don't think that's what the OA is arguing.  Rather, I think the OA uses logic to deduce what does and doesn't already exist.

   

   You say it's not necessary that either of us live in America.  But that wasn't the point I was trying to make.  I was just trying to show that something's being logically and thus necessarily true given certain premises doesn't impart any causal necessity to its being an actual fact.

   

   
Is God's existence a contingent fact (i.e. just happens to be that way), or is God's existence a logically necessary fact [the truth of which can be] derived from some axioms?

   

   The latter.  Does this help?

   

   I'm by no means wedded to the OA, and have always had my suspicions about it.  So, please, continue.  But can you clarify your point here?  That is, can you explain how this relates to the OA?  Take the following formulation:

   

   
(1) It's possible that an all-surpassingly great being exists (i.e. a being greater than whom nothing can be conceived).  In other words, an all-surpassingly great being exists in some possible world.

   

   (2) If an all-surpassingly great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

   

   (3) If an all-surpassingly great being in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world (since the actual world is clearly a possible world).

   

   (4) If an all-surpassingly great being exists in the actual world, then an all-surpassingly great being (i.e. God) actually exists.

   

   Are there premises here that you reject?  Or is your objection separate?  If so, can it be spelt out in some premises etc?

   

   Cheers, James.

8

jbejon

  • ***
  • 2610 Posts
    • View Profile
    • My Academia page
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2008, 03:12:07 pm »
P.S.  Loko -- here's a good article (I think) on divine simplicity that I started looking at a while back -- http://bearspace.baylor.edu/Alexander_Pruss/www/papers/On3ProblemsOfDivineSimplicity.html

9

Harvey

  • *****
  • 24184 Posts
    • View Profile
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #24 on: July 31, 2008, 04:05:53 pm »

Hey James.

jbejon wrote: You say it's not necessary that either of us live in America. But that wasn't the point I was trying to make. I was just trying to show that something's being logically and necessarily true given certain premises doesn't impart any causal necessity to its being an actual fact.


But, in the case of God being a necessary being:

A1) God is either caused or not caused.
A2) If uncaused, then that's a contingent being. (That is, it exists for no causal or logical reason.)
A3) Hence, there's no explanans of any kind that explains why that thing versus some other thing.
A4) Thus, God is not necessary if uncaused (from 3)

What is wrong with this from your perspective? (Your example was one of contingency, so I can't seem to find a way to bypass this logical argument with that example.).

James wrote:
Is God's existence a contingent fact (i.e. just happens to be that way), or is God's existence a logically necessary fact [the truth of which can be] derived from some axioms?
The latter. Does this help?


But, if God's necessity is dependent on certain axioms, then God's existence is dependent on logical axioms. For if the axioms were false, then God's existence would not be dependent on them.

James wrote:
(1) It's possible that an all-surpassingly great being exists (i.e. a being greater than whom nothing can be conceived). In other words, an all-surpassingly great being exists in some possible world.

(2) If an all-surpassingly great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

(3) If an all-surpassingly great being in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world (since the actual world is clearly a possible world).

(4) If an all-surpassingly great being exists in the actual world, then an all-surpassingly great being (i.e. God) actually exists.


Are there premises here that you reject? Or is your objection separate? If so, can it be spelt out in some premises etc?


Fallacy of equivocation in 1 compared to 2/3. In 1 "possibilty" is speaking in terms of human conceivability.  It isn't the case that an all-surpassing great being could in principle exist. Afterall, we don't know if unembodied minds can exist in any world, much less this one. Maybe unembodied minds are plainly forbidden by nature. In 2 and 3 the meaning of the term "possible" switches to a modal term. Possibility is a modal operator meaning that it is not necessary that God does not exist in the actual world. By making that switch of meaning from 1 to 2/3, we are left with the impression that epistemic conceivability of God in 1 is equivalent to a ontological possibility in 2/3.

In other words, Who's on first, What's on second, and I Don't Know is on third.

10

jbejon

  • ***
  • 2610 Posts
    • View Profile
    • My Academia page
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #25 on: July 31, 2008, 04:39:35 pm »
Cheers Harvey.  OK.  Let's take this a point at a time.

   

   
A1) God is either caused or not caused.

   A2) If uncaused, then that's a contingent being. (That is, it exists for no causal or logical reason.)

   A3) Hence, there's no explanans of any kind that explains why that thing versus some other thing.

   A4) Thus, God is not necessary if uncaused (from 3)

   

   What is wrong with this from your perspective? (Your example was one of contingency, so I can't seem to find a way to bypass this logical argument with that example.).

   

   My problem is that I think (2) is false.  For, if (2) is true, then I can argue:

   

   
(2a) I don't think it makes sense to have an infinite chain of causes

   (2b) Thus, everything that exists can be traced back to an uncaused cause or is itself uncaused.

   (2c) Given (2), the "uncaused causes" mentioned in (2b) are contingent.

   (2d) However, the effects of a contingent cause cannot themselves be necessary

   (2e) Thus, given (2b) and (2d), it follows that everything that exists is contingent, which I take to be false (and I take it that you do too).

   

   I also don't think (4) follows from (3), but we can get to that later...

   

   James.

11

Harvey

  • *****
  • 24184 Posts
    • View Profile
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2008, 05:19:04 pm »

jbejon wrote: My problem is that I think (2) is false. For, if (2) is true, then I can argue:

(2a) I don't think it makes sense to have an infinite chain of causes
(2b) Thus, everything that exists can be traced back to an uncaused cause or is itself uncaused.
(2c) Given (2), the "uncaused causes" mentioned in (2b) must be contingent.
(2d) However, the effects of a contingent cause cannot be necessary
(2e) Thus, given (2b) and (2d), it follows that everything that exists is contingent, which I take to be false (and I take it that you do too).

I think (2d) is false. To use your above example again:

Suppose one of us lives in America, and it's not me. It therefore follows that it's you. But what causes you to live in America? Well, not the laws of logic, that's for sure. Why? Because the means by which we come to know something is quite distinct from why it is the way it is in the first place.


It is logically necessary that I live in America for the statement's premise to be true. Granted the premise is contingent, but that doesn't change the logical implication of the statement requiring that I live in America if you don't. Similarly, if a statement (S) refers to a contingent entity, then any conclusion that logically derives from statement S is logically necessary.

Now, it's true that everything's contingency is based on S, so if the contents of S are changed, so is everything else. In that sense everything is contingent, but here we are assuming that the subject in S exists as a brute fact (i.e., God exists as uncaused).

So, for this (S) statement: "if God is uncaused he is a brute fact" then everything that follows from this statement is a necessary conclusion. Yet, the object in (S) is not necessary because the subject, God, is assumed in (S) to be uncaused.

12

jbejon

  • ***
  • 2610 Posts
    • View Profile
    • My Academia page
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #27 on: July 31, 2008, 05:41:06 pm »
But, on your view of the universe, you're not saying that everything is ultimately contingent are you? -- i.e. that God, the laws of logic, etc could be different from the way they are?

13

Harvey

  • *****
  • 24184 Posts
    • View Profile
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #28 on: July 31, 2008, 06:22:30 pm »

jbejon wrote: But, on your view of the universe, you're not saying that everything is ultimately contingent are you? -- i.e. that God, the laws of logic, etc could be different from the way they are?

My view is completely different. I rely on a combination of negative theology and positive theology. God's existence is not based on a positive theology, it is based on a negative theology. Or, to put it another way, God is "negatively necessary" meaning the complete lack of possible worlds where God doesn't exist means that God necessarily exists in all possible worlds. God is not caused or necessitated, and in that sense is "uncaused" and "contingent." Uncaused meaning that nothing causes him, and contingent meaning that nothing positively necessitates his existence.


14

jbejon

  • ***
  • 2610 Posts
    • View Profile
    • My Academia page
A designer too complex to be probable
« Reply #29 on: July 31, 2008, 06:55:19 pm »
So, on your view, the laws of logic could be completely different from the way they are -- and the same is true of God's character, e.g. his being loving and just and the like?