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Ontological Argument

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Erin

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« on: March 31, 2009, 01:32:11 pm »
It makes sense to me that something like logic could have necessary existence because it's incorrigible -- its negation only proves its efficacy.

However, when arguments are made that God's existence is necessary it isn't so clear cut. It doesn't seem to involve a contradiction to me to suppose God's nonexistence, as even arguments geared towards establishing God's "necessity" usually only end up arguing that "something exists necessarily."

Well, "something exists necessarily" doesn't mean a personal creator-god. It could just as easily refer to the universe as a whole, or even to logic (which we already admit necessarily exists). What arguments are there that attempt to establish that a personal creator-god exists incorrigibly?

-Erin
"It is said that men may not be the dreams of the Gods, but rather that the Gods are the dreams of men." --Carl Sagan

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icepick

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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2009, 08:19:34 pm »
Hi Erin,

Hmm..that first part could perhaps be debated, since we aren't sure that anything at all had to exist necessarily. However, either way this reminds me of Craig's discussion of abstract objects in his Kalam cosmological argument. He goes to show that since the universe was created, its cause must presuppose space, time, matter, and energy, since these came into being at the origins of the universe. He then argues that only abstract objects or minds can fit those criteria, but that abstract objects don't cause anything.

So it may be true that the laws of logic exist necessarily, but even so they don't cause anything, so the cause of the universe must be a personal mind.

Ci vediamo!

Jay


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Erin

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« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2009, 10:38:36 am »

icepick wrote: Hi Erin,

Hmm..that first part could perhaps be debated, since we aren't sure that anything at all had to exist necessarily. However, either way this reminds me of Craig's discussion of abstract objects in his Kalam cosmological argument. He goes to show that since the universe was created, its cause must presuppose space, time, matter, and energy, since these came into being at the origins of the universe. He then argues that only abstract objects or minds can fit those criteria, but that abstract objects don't cause anything.

So it may be true that the laws of logic exist necessarily, but even so they don't cause anything, so the cause of the universe must be a personal mind.

Ci vediamo!

Jay

Underlined emphasis was added by me.

I would object to the premise "the universe was created" or even if it was reworded to "the universe began to exist." That's an unjustified assumption.

I'm a physics grad student (well, starting this fall) and contrary to some loud and unjustified claims, the Big Bang Event doesn't necessarily mark a "beginning of existence" for the universe for several reasons.

1) We don't have empirical evidence before the first planck time after the event. Without this evidence we can't assert whether or not existence of the universe began with it or not.

2) Our definition of "the universe" could be wrong, and this is actually expected to be the case. For instance, galaxies were once known as "cloud nebulae" and thought to reside within what we now call the Milky Way Galaxy, which was considered "the universe."

After we discovered that these "cloud nebulae" were indeed very, very far outside the boundaries of "the universe" we had to redefine what was meant by "the universe."

In the same sense, many physical theories with varying degrees of justification and evidence suggest that we may again only be considering a small portion of reality to be "the universe."

There's pocket vacuum-states, megaverses, multiverses, string theories, "omniverses," "cosmic landscapes," Lee Smolin's fecund cosmological evolution, and so on... the list is pretty huge, all of which are feasible and if true mean that the BB Event did not mean the beginning of existence.

3) Even if all the options from (2) are wrong (which isn't expected by the physics community) we still can't assume that the BB event was the start of existence for the universe due to (1) because it would be an unfounded assertion, and so all arguments with "The universe began to exist" as a premise would be too presumptive.

-Erin
"It is said that men may not be the dreams of the Gods, but rather that the Gods are the dreams of men." --Carl Sagan

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Pumbelo

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« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2009, 11:47:54 am »
As far as I know, the cyclic universe has been mathematically disproven, so time must have a beginning.

I think the objection is old. Kant used it and I think Plantinga discussed this (but didn't understand it) in his paper "The Ontological Argument".

I think it boils down to this:

(1) If a truth X is necessary, it's negation must contradict a necessary truth other than itself.

However, I think this is false.

Example:
If the laws of logic aren't true, then it's possible that self-contradicting things exist. This only results in a contradiction when the laws of logic are true.
"Yuri Gagarin admitted on his deathbead that the whole purpose of the Soviet Space Program was to hide the True Cross, Noah's Ark, Schrodinger's Cat and Zuzu's Petals and many other antiquities in a polar orbit, which explains the recent hyperactive aurora. They are all stored in a radiation proof c

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Erin

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« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2009, 11:55:36 am »

Pumbelo wrote: As far as I know, the cyclic universe has been mathematically disproven, so time must have a beginning.



Only one model has been mathematically disproven, and even so a cyclic universe is only one possibility out of many in which the universe would not have had a beginning of existence. (A cyclic model has since resurfaced in loop quantum gravity, by the way).

It is not an assertable fact that the universe began to exist with the current data.

Pumbelo wrote: I think the objection is old. Kant used it and I think Plantinga discussed this (but didn't understand it) in his paper "The Ontological Argument".

I think it boils down to this:

(1) If a truth X is necessary, it's negation must contradict a necessary truth other than itself.

However, I think this is false.

Example:
If the laws of logic aren't true, then it's possible that self-contradicting things exist. This only results in a contradiction when the laws of logic are true.


But you can't even make the argument "If the laws of logic aren't true..." without immediately contradicting yourself before you can even make your point. The sentence, "If the laws of logic aren't true, then it's possible that self-contradicting things exist" can't be made because the concept of "if/then" no longer works, and the word "the" is meaningless, the word "laws" is meaningless, the word "of" is meaningless (ad absurdum).

Even if you tried to defend it by saying "But if logic didn't exist then my contradicting myself wouldn't have mattered" because that would again be an utter nonsense statement... and so on.

-Erin
"It is said that men may not be the dreams of the Gods, but rather that the Gods are the dreams of men." --Carl Sagan

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Pumbelo

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« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2009, 12:03:37 pm »
ScarletD wrote: Only one model has been mathematically disproven, and even so a cyclic universe is only one possibility out of many in which the universe would not have had a beginning of existence. (A cyclic model has since resurfaced in loop quantum gravity, by the way).

It is not an assertable fact that the universe began to exist with the current data.


Then allow me to say that an infinite amount of prior universes are ad hoc and should be sliced away by Ockham's Razor.

But you can't even make the argument "If the laws of logic aren't true..." without immediately contradicting yourself before you can even make your point. The sentence, "If the laws of logic aren't true, then it's possible that self-contradicting things exist" can't be made because the concept of "if/then" no longer works, and the word "the" is meaningless, the word "laws" is meaningless, the word "of" is meaningless (ad absurdum).

Even if you tried to defend it by saying "But if logic didn't exist then my contradicting myself wouldn't have mattered" because that would again be an utter nonsense statement... and so on.

-Erin


"If the laws of logic arent true, your statement is meaningless" would also be a meaningless statement.

However, I believe that some ignorance is permissible when it comes to supreme beings.
"Yuri Gagarin admitted on his deathbead that the whole purpose of the Soviet Space Program was to hide the True Cross, Noah's Ark, Schrodinger's Cat and Zuzu's Petals and many other antiquities in a polar orbit, which explains the recent hyperactive aurora. They are all stored in a radiation proof c

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Pumbelo

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« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2009, 12:11:21 pm »
Allow me to explain why theism could be incorrigible, using Alexander Pruss' argument here.

(1) A being x is omnipotent provided that in every possible world, x's free choices are collectively the ultimate explainers of the rest of contingent reality.
(2) Maydole's argument for the possibility of any perfection is sound.
(3) Therefore, theism is incorrigible.
"Yuri Gagarin admitted on his deathbead that the whole purpose of the Soviet Space Program was to hide the True Cross, Noah's Ark, Schrodinger's Cat and Zuzu's Petals and many other antiquities in a polar orbit, which explains the recent hyperactive aurora. They are all stored in a radiation proof c

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Erin

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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2009, 12:25:29 pm »
Pumbelo wrote: Then allow me to say that an infinite amount of prior universes are ad hoc and should be sliced away by Ockham's Razor.



Occam's Razor is only applicable when there are two ideas with equal weight of evidence.

Pumbelo wrote: "If the laws of logic arent true, your statement is meaningless" would also be a meaningless statement.

However, I believe that some ignorance is permissible when it comes to supreme beings.


Yes, I agree it would be a meaningless statement. It's not possible for the laws of logic not to be true, and even the second half of that sentence I just typed was meaningless.

What do you mean ignorance is permissible when it comes to supreme beings?

Pumbelo wrote: (1) A being x is omnipotent provided that in every possible world, x's free choices are collectively the ultimate explainers of the rest of contingent reality.
(2) Maydole's argument for the possibility of any perfection is sound.
(3) Therefore, theism is incorrigible.



Notice how (1) assumes reality is contingent. That's too presumptive. I disagreed with Maydoyle's argument in that thread and don't feel my objections were really defeated. So I don't agree that (3) follows, but I'm glad we have begun to discuss ways to approach (3).

-Erin
"It is said that men may not be the dreams of the Gods, but rather that the Gods are the dreams of men." --Carl Sagan

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Brad Haggard

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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2009, 06:26:47 am »
Erin,

Are you saying then that reality isn't contingent?  Which path are you going down to get that one?  I say this because I don't think you have a good path to walk down to get to necessary existence, but maybe you have a conviction about one of the theories you proposed.

But I think throwing out speculations as defeaters rings a little hollow.

Good thread, btw.


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Erin

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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2009, 12:46:38 pm »

bradhaggard wrote: Erin,

Are you saying then that reality isn't contingent?

I'm saying that no one has epistemic justification to assert that it's contingent, and therefore can't use it as a premise.

bradhaggard wrote: Which path are you going down to get that one?  I say this because I don't think you have a good path to walk down to get to necessary existence, but maybe you have a conviction about one of the theories you proposed.


I'm not claiming it's necessary; my argument isn't about ontology here -- it's about epistemology. I'm saying no one is justified in using "The universe is contingent" or "The universe is necessary" as a premise given the current lack of evidence.

bradhaggard wrote: But I think throwing out speculations as defeaters rings a little hollow.

Good thread, btw.



The speculations were just thrown out to show that there are possibilities which don't involve a contingent universe (so no one can use the false dichotomy "Either contingent or necessary, since necessary is impossible then contingent.")

Thanks for joining in, nice to meet you

-Erin
"It is said that men may not be the dreams of the Gods, but rather that the Gods are the dreams of men." --Carl Sagan

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Pumbelo

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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2009, 01:31:10 pm »
It seems that some of your points don't mix.

Maydole's Modal Third Way attempts to show that something exists necessarily. You say that maybe the universe is incorrigible.
Maydole's Modal Ontological Argument attempts to show that a supreme being exists necessarily. You say that maybe theism isn't incorrigible.

I feel that theism comes out victorious because of Pruss' account of omnipotence in combination with the Principle of Sufficient Reason.
"Yuri Gagarin admitted on his deathbead that the whole purpose of the Soviet Space Program was to hide the True Cross, Noah's Ark, Schrodinger's Cat and Zuzu's Petals and many other antiquities in a polar orbit, which explains the recent hyperactive aurora. They are all stored in a radiation proof c

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Erin

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« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2009, 02:11:27 pm »
Pumbelo wrote: It seems that some of your points don't mix.

Maydole's Modal Third Way attempts to show that something exists necessarily. You say that maybe the universe is incorrigible.
Maydole's Modal Ontological Argument attempts to show that a supreme being exists necessarily. You say that maybe theism isn't incorrigible.


My argument wasn't so much that the universe may be incorrigible but that we don't have justification for asserting that it's contingent/that existence began.

As for the modal ontological argument, I still agree with my objection that it isn't really cognitive to say something is "supreme" in an unknowable way since we can say anything is supreme in an unknowable way.

You objected that islands have limitations, but I pointed out that everything has limitations since everything has identity, and the essence of identity is limitation. I haven't seen a response that conclusively shows why we're free to announce a being's supremacy but not an island's or, say, a square's (platonic forms).

Pumbelo wrote: I feel that theism comes out victorious because of Pruss' account of omnipotence in combination with the Principle of Sufficient Reason.


I continue to disagree, though I suppose if we weren't apt to disagree we'd already be on the same side of the discussion.

-Erin
"It is said that men may not be the dreams of the Gods, but rather that the Gods are the dreams of men." --Carl Sagan

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Brad Haggard

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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2009, 06:55:06 am »
Erin, let me press the point a little further.

I've seen this more and more lately from atheist posters that we just "do not know" and so we can't make any claims based on our current understanding.  It seems like the theories proposed are beyond our epistemic reach in any conceivable future.  So are we stuck as agnostics forever?

I don't think so, and mainly because we still act as if we know.  It's not the same thing to say "we don't know if the universe is contingent" and then say, "there is no God, therefore."  It just doesn't follow that that premise is defeated, we just have to use the data we currently have to evaluate it.  And I think that philosophy and parsimony are good additives to the discussion, unless you really want to end up in Pascal's Wager, which I think you don't.


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Erin

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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2009, 08:20:50 am »

bradhaggard wrote: Erin, let me press the point a little further.

I've seen this more and more lately from atheist posters that we just "do not know" and so we can't make any claims based on our current understanding.  It seems like the theories proposed are beyond our epistemic reach in any conceivable future.  So are we stuck as agnostics forever?

I don't think so, and mainly because we still act as if we know.  It's not the same thing to say "we don't know if the universe is contingent" and then say, "there is no God, therefore."  It just doesn't follow that that premise is defeated, we just have to use the data we currently have to evaluate it.  And I think that philosophy and parsimony are good additives to the discussion, unless you really want to end up in Pascal's Wager, which I think you don't.

You misunderstand me then. I do not claim "We don't know whether the universe is contingent; therefore there is no God." I only claim that we don't know whether the universe is contingent; therefore we can't make arguments with "The universe is contingent" as a premise successfully.

Whether or not there is a God is another issue, all that what I'm saying means is that theists can't justifiably use "the universe is contingent" as a premise for an argument -- that's all.

As for Pascal's Wager, I wouldn't want to bother with it because it doesn't accomplish anything for anyone.

-Erin
"It is said that men may not be the dreams of the Gods, but rather that the Gods are the dreams of men." --Carl Sagan

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Pumbelo

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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2009, 02:36:35 pm »
ScarletD wrote: As for the modal ontological argument, I still agree with my objection that it isn't really cognitive to say something is "supreme" in an unknowable way since we can say anything is supreme in an unknowable way.


If you replace "supreme" with Alexander Pruss' account of "omnipotence", the argument seems to work fine.

You objected that islands have limitations, but I pointed out that everything has limitations since everything has identity, and the essence of identity is limitation. I haven't seen a response that conclusively shows why we're free to announce a being's supremacy but not an island's or, say, a square's (platonic forms).


Well, this isn't really an objection to Maydole's argument, but rather to the ontological argument as a whole.
Remember that it “purports to prove, simply from the concept of God as the supreme being, that God’s existence cannot rationally be doubted by anyone having such a concept of Him.” (Richard Taylor, introduction from The Ontological Argument).
My solution to this problem is exactly the as to the above. Replace "supreme" with "omnipotent", use Pruss' account and there you go.

As for identity, how does that limit greatness? It seems like a necessary condition for greatness, not a limit. Being limited to itself doesn't put that much pressure on any being.
"Yuri Gagarin admitted on his deathbead that the whole purpose of the Soviet Space Program was to hide the True Cross, Noah's Ark, Schrodinger's Cat and Zuzu's Petals and many other antiquities in a polar orbit, which explains the recent hyperactive aurora. They are all stored in a radiation proof c