Triptych

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Could the Universe be Metaphysically Necessary?
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2011, 12:01:40 am »
jasondulle wrote:

This sounds like the argument Bede Rundell makes.  He argues that it’s metaphysically necessary that some contingent thing exists, but not that any particular contingent thing must exist necessarily.  In other words, necessarily some contingent thing exists, but no necessary thing exists.  Different contingent things can exist in different worlds.  Rundell’s logic is that it’s necessary that some contingent being exists, and if none of the other possible contingent beings do, then the only contingent thing not found to be non-existent necessarily must exist.

 

I’ve heard Craig comment that this objection is brilliant, but flawed.  He cites Alexander Pruss’ rebuttal.  Pruss argues that if necessarily, some contingent being must exist in every possible world, even if that contingent being is different in each possible world, then what Rundell is arguing is that if you name an infinite number of non-existent entities minus X, that entails that X must exist.  But it makes no sense to think a conjunction of claims about the nonexistence of various things can possibly entail that X exists.  For example, the conjunction of claims that there are no flying pigs, centaurs, poka-dotted zebras, ad infinitum could not possibly entail the existence of George Bush (assuming he was the only thing left not named, and not found to be non-existent).  And yet if Rundell is right, if it is necessary that a contingent being exists, and none of the other one’s do, then the only contingent thing left (not listed) necessarily must exist.



This paragraph was actually my next question! Hah.  However, I wasn't entirely sure how to word it.  Moreover, I'm not entirely show I understand what you were saying; particularly in the last half of the last paragraph.  Can you explain it in more layman's terms?  Thanks Jason!
"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark.
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Timothy Campen

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« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2011, 05:14:17 pm »

I find this whole discussion illustrates the often frustrating divide between metaphysics and reality.  One does not necessarily equate to the other, which is why I tend not to rely on such metaphysical explanations for confident conclusions about the real world.  

I raise a pint to WLC and all of you, even if I often disagree.  For I am convinced thoughtful people can disagree without being disagreeable.

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wonderer

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« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2011, 03:05:27 pm »
Interesting thread, which I haven't finished reading.

I think this talk by a physicist, and this interview with a physicist provide interesting support for Jason's conjecture in the OP.

An excerpt from the latter:
All matter plus all gravity equals zero. So the universe could come from nothing because it is, fundamentally, nothing.


"The world needed that of us, to maintain—by our example, by our very existence—a world that would keep learning and questioning, that would remain free in thought, inquiry, and word." - Alice Dreger

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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2011, 05:04:32 pm »
IceKnight366 wrote: I'm not entirely show I understand what you were saying; particularly in the last half of the last paragraph.  Can you explain it in more layman's terms?  Thanks Jason!

Sure, I'll do my best.  Pruss' point is that if you say some contingent thing must exist, then one would have to say that if contingent beings A,B,C,D...Y do not exist, then contingent being Z must exist since that's the only contingent being left.  But how does the non-existence of A-Y entail the necessary existence of contingent being Z?  It doesn't make sense to say that Z must exist since A-Y doesn't.

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belorg

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« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2011, 06:56:32 am »
I think the LCA fails because it cannot show that the universe is contingent.
Sure, we can conceive of a universe with different constants, or a
universe with different building blocks, but does that mean the universe cannot be necessary?
That seems to depend on whether the universe is deterministic or not. If the universe is entirely deterministic, then from one initial condition, only one universe can arise. One might argue that there is no reason to assume that the initial conditions of the universe could not have been different, but the fact is: it is logically possible that the universe's IC could not be different. That would make the universe a necessary enitity. there is no conclsuive proof against this.
Now one might argue that the universe is , at least to some degree, indeterministic and that one IC could lead to diffrent kinds of universes, so the universe cannot be necessary.
But if God is necessary and this entails He exists and is the same in every possible world, then how could there be a possible world in which the universe is different? It seems to me that, if God is necessary, then there is only one possible universe. But if there is only one possible universe, there is no reason to conclude that the universe isn't necessary, because it exists in every possible world.
IOW id the LCA is correct, the universe cannot be different and if the universe cannot be different, there is no basis to call the universe contingent.
Or, to put it somewhat differently, the LCA is self-refuting.



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Triptych

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« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2011, 11:16:40 am »
Hi belorg!  It looks like we might be having a lot of conversations.

1) What you are discussing is the difference between. relationalism vs. absolutism in space-time.  If the IC of the universe could have been different, as this thread is about, than it follows that the universe is not necessary on an relationalist worldview.  However, what about on an absolutist's worldview?  Well, this isn't necessary either because, as WLC will point out, the universe as a whole (even if the IC were different) had a beginning.  Both scientific and philosophic evidence.  So it follows from this that the universe isn't necessary on that view either.  The universe can not be necessary.
But now you bring up a different point!  Say God exists, doesn't He have to create the same universe every time because a maximally great being must make the same decisions every time?  Alvin Plantinga deals with this quite well I think in one of his new videos that drcraigvideos posted.
 

It doesn’t seem that is was necessary for God to create this world.  After all, He could have just refrained from creating anything from eternity.  It doesn’t seem essential to His nature that He create anything; after all, He created us not for His benefit, but for ours (God doesn’t need anything).  So God didn’t have to create anything.

   

But even further, if God decided to create a world, is the actual world the only possible world He could have created?  It doesn’t seem so. For example, suppose a world in which everyone freely chooses God and is saved are worlds that only have a handful of people in them; perhaps 3 or 4.

   

But furthermore, suppose, as Alvin Plantinga does, there is no such thing as a greatest possible world!  Suppose that there are a number of worlds that are equally great.  Than God would not be constrained in anyway,  to create one particular world over another.  He could be free to choose from a large variety of universes to create.

 
"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark.
The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."
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belorg

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« Reply #21 on: March 07, 2011, 11:32:43 am »

IceKnight366 wrote: Hi belorg!  It looks like we might be having a lot of conversations.


Maybe

1) What you are discussing is the difference between. relationalism vs. absolutism in space-time.  If the IC of the universe could have been different, as this thread is about, than it follows that the universe is not necessary on an relationalist worldview.  However, what about on an absolutist's worldview?  Well, this isn't necessary either because, as WLC will point out, the universe as a whole (even if the IC were different) had a beginning.  Both scientific and philosophic evidence.  So it follows from this that the universe isn't necessary on that view either.  The universe can not be necessary.


That the universe as a whole had a beginning is a point of discussion, IceKnight, there are arguments for and against it.



But now you bring up a different point!  Say God exists, doesn't He have to create the same universe every time because a maximally great being must make the same decisions every time?  


I am not talking about 'a maximally great being', I am talking about God. If God is necessary then God exists in every possible world and God is the same in every possible world.


It doesn’t seem that is was necessary for God to create this world.  After all, He could have just refrained from creating anything from eternity.


But did he have a reason for creating this world (or any world at all)? if He had a reason, then that reason is the same in every possible world too, if we assume that God is the cause of everything, that is.


It doesn’t seem essential to His nature that He create anything; after all, He created us not for His benefit, but for ours (God doesn’t need anything).  So God didn’t have to create anything.

Would 'our benefit' be different in another possible world, IceKnight?

But even further, if God decided to create a world, is the actual world the only possible world He could have created?  It doesn’t seem so. For example, suppose a world in which everyone freely chooses God and is saved are worlds that only have a handful of people in them; perhaps 3 or 4.

I don't see how this is relevant. What does God want? Does He want the same in every possible world or not? If He wants to save only 4 people in world W1, why would He want to save 100 people in W2?

But furthermore, suppose, as Alvin Plantinga does, there is no such thing as a greatest possible world!  Suppose that there are a number of worlds that are equally great.  Than God would not be constrained in anyway,  to create one particular world over another.  He could be free to choose from a large variety of universes to create.


That depends on what God prefers. Does He prefer green over red or does he prefer red over green? Is a God who prefers red a different God than one who prefers green?
BTW if there is no greatest possible world, how can there be a greatest possible being?

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wonderer

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« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2011, 08:09:27 am »

belorg wrote: I think the LCA fails because it cannot show that the universe is contingent.
Sure, we can conceive of a universe with different constants, or a
universe with different building blocks, but does that mean the universe cannot be necessary?
That seems to depend on whether the universe is deterministic or not. If the universe is entirely deterministic, then from one initial condition, only one universe can arise. One might argue that there is no reason to assume that the initial conditions of the universe could not have been different, but the fact is: it is logically possible that the universe's IC could not be different. That would make the universe a necessary enitity. there is no conclsuive proof against this.
Now one might argue that the universe is , at least to some degree, indeterministic and that one IC could lead to diffrent kinds of universes, so the universe cannot be necessary.
But if God is necessary and this entails He exists and is the same in every possible world, then how could there be a possible world in which the universe is different? It seems to me that, if God is necessary, then there is only one possible universe. But if there is only one possible universe, there is no reason to conclude that the universe isn't necessary, because it exists in every possible world.
IOW id the LCA is correct, the universe cannot be different and if the universe cannot be different, there is no basis to call the universe contingent.
Or, to put it somewhat differently, the LCA is self-refuting.

Very well said belorg.  I've been trying to make the same point to people here, but not in such a well stated manner.

It seems to me that on WLC's view of a God existing atemporally, with the decision to create the universe he would create always having been made, there is no escaping this universe being necessary.
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belorg

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« Reply #23 on: March 08, 2011, 08:55:20 am »
wonderer wrote: Very well said belorg.  I've been trying to make the same point to people here, but not in such a well stated manner.


Thank you for the compliment, wonderer, but I'm afraid most of the people here won't believe us.

It seems to me that on WLC's view of a God existing atemporally, with the decision to create the universe he would create always having been made, there is no escaping this universe being necessary.


Yes, the universe would have always been, but that does not necessarily mean it would exist in every possible world. The 'people around here' will probably argue that God has free will and could have refrained from creating anything at all or could have created something entirely different.
The magical concept of free will is used as an excuse for a variety of concepts. I would think that a God who is necessary is the same in every possible world and would also will the same in every possible world.
After all, if a blue ball is a necessary entity, does it make sense to say that there is a possible world in which the blue ball is a red cube?
If it does, then a different universe can also be necessary and if it doesn't, God would have created the same universe in every possible world, which would make it neceesary.

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wonderer

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« Reply #24 on: March 08, 2011, 01:04:09 pm »

belorg wrote: Yes, the universe would have always been, but that does not necessarily mean it would exist in every possible world. The 'people around here' will probably argue that God has free will and could have refrained from creating anything at all or could have created something entirely different.
The magical concept of free will is used as an excuse for a variety of concepts. I would think that a God who is necessary is the same in every possible world and would also will the same in every possible world.
After all, if a blue ball is a necessary entity, does it make sense to say that there is a possible world in which the blue ball is a red cube?
If it does, then a different universe can also be necessary and if it doesn't, God would have created the same universe in every possible world, which would make it neceesary.

Right.  Since there was no time at which God did not have the intention to create the universe he created, the universe created is a necessary outcome of God's nature.  In order for the universe to be contingent, the nature of the God who created it would also need to be contingent.

"The world needed that of us, to maintain—by our example, by our very existence—a world that would keep learning and questioning, that would remain free in thought, inquiry, and word." - Alice Dreger

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Triptych

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« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2011, 08:16:05 pm »
@belorg
1) That the universe began to exist is not an inconclusive point as of now.  I've never seen any successful philosophical or scientific argument to show that the universe never began to exist.  All the different models of universes fail.

2) That God is the same in every possible world does not entail that He has to DO the same things in every possible world.  He could have created a world quite different than this one and done quite different things.

3) Sure God could have had a reason.  But that doesn't entail that His reason can't be the same, but yet created different worlds.  He could have the same reason, but created a number of different worlds.

4) "If there's no greatest possible world than how can there be a greatest possible being?" Don't understand the difficulty here.  God could be Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Perfectly Moral, and exist in every possible world.  And yet, could have created a number of different worlds.  Problem with that?

@Wonderer:
Like I was trying to say, God's nature entails that there are possible worlds in which He can not create.  But does that mean that He is only allowed to create 1 possible world?  Not at all.  God's necessary nature could be satisfied in a number of different possible worlds, and so once that is met, He's free to create any number of worlds He wishes.

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark.
The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."
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“Reason is not automatic.  Those who deny it can not be conquered by it.”
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belorg

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« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2011, 03:42:42 am »

IceKnight366 wrote: @belorg
1) That the universe began to exist is not an inconclusive point as of now.  I've never seen any successful philosophical or scientific argument to show that the universe never began to exist.  All the different models of universes fail.


Science is not just pulling something out of a hat, IceKnight. It actually involves models that go beyond 'a very powerful being wished this into existence'. So yes, all scientific models have their problems because it's very difficult to build a model on the existing information. It's far easier to just claim 'Godditit'. And thre are scientific models that involve no beginning.

And as I demonstrated in the other thread: the KCA is a philosophical argument that entails that the universe never began to exist.
And there are several other philosophical arguments that do the same.
Under a B-theory of time, e.g., the notion 'beginning' does not seem to make mich sense.

2) That God is the same in every possible world does not entail that He has to DO the same things in every possible world.  He could have created a world quite different than this one and done quite different things.


Yes, that would seem to be the case at first glance. But there is a huge difficulty here.
I suppose you are familiar with molinism. At least WL Craig is, and he is passionate advocate of Divine Middle Knowledge as a way to reconcile God's omniscience with libertarian free will.
But, as you may or may not know, molinism (or Middle Knowledge) only works if under the exact same circumstances, the same being will always do exactly the same.
Under circumstance C, in every possible world W, being b performs action a

Maybe that does not hold for God, but I'd like to see an argument for that.

So, until you give one, assuming molinism is true, then God will, under circumstance C, in every possible world W, perform action a.
And since God is in control of all circumstances, it follows that every possible world is exactly the same.

3) Sure God could have had a reason.  But that doesn't entail that His reason can't be the same, but yet created different worlds.  He could have the same reason, but created a number of different worlds.


If God's thoughts are completely indetermined and random, then this would be possible. It would be a very strange and completely useless God, but, He is logically possible.
But the same would hold for a completely indertermined and random universe. that may, from the exact same initial conditions, turn out completely different too.

4) "If there's no greatest possible world than how can there be a greatest possible being?" Don't understand the difficulty here.  God could be Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Perfectly Moral, and exist in every possible world.  And yet, could have created a number of different worlds.  Problem with that?



Even if that is true (and I don't think it is), what does this have to do with there being no greatest possible world?


@Wonderer:
Like I was trying to say, God's nature entails that there are possible worlds in which He can not create.  But does that mean that He is only allowed to create 1 possible world?  Not at all.  God's necessary nature could be satisfied in a number of different possible worlds, and so once that is met, He's free to create any number of worlds He wishes.


The question here, IceKnight is: can God wish different things?

Is a God who prefers red over green the same as a God who prefers green over red?
The bottom line is: if necessary beings can have contingent properties, then it makes no sense to claim that the universe cannot be necessary because it could have been different.