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H.H.

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There is at least one impossible fact
« 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.     
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UNOWN301

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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #1 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.

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H.H.

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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #2 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!
« Last Edit: July 27, 2014, 08:58:03 pm by H.H. »
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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #3 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.
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H.H.

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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #4 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.
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H.H.

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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #5 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."
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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #6 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.
I told her all about how we been livin' a lie
And that they love to see us all go to prison or die
Like, "Baby, look at how they show us on the TV screen"
But all she ever want me to do is unzip her jeans

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H.H.

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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #7 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.






« Last Edit: July 27, 2014, 11:34:59 pm by H.H. »
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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2014, 07:34:59 am »
Contingent here means it is true in some possible world and not in another.
I told her all about how we been livin' a lie
And that they love to see us all go to prison or die
Like, "Baby, look at how they show us on the TV screen"
But all she ever want me to do is unzip her jeans

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H.H.

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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #9 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.

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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2014, 11:49:28 am »
I'm using it how it is standardly used when referring to brute facts.
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Like, "Baby, look at how they show us on the TV screen"
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H.H.

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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #11 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.
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H.H.

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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #12 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.

« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 12:54:11 pm by H.H. »
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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #13 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.
I told her all about how we been livin' a lie
And that they love to see us all go to prison or die
Like, "Baby, look at how they show us on the TV screen"
But all she ever want me to do is unzip her jeans

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H.H.

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Re: There is at least one impossible fact
« Reply #14 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


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
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 08:59:31 pm by H.H. »
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