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Arguments for the existence of God

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.
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mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#721 Postby mickeyd » January 12th, 2011, 8:51 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Hiya Thundril,

I appreciate the effort but:

We find it virtually impossible to 'picture' the Universe having bounds yet not having anything outside it; not even 'nothingness'. But that is (very roughly speaking) what cosmology tells us.


Well then the cosmologist who pronounces this is a philosopher, not a scientist - which is what I've suspected of some cosmologists for a long time.

You say it is impossible to think of 'nothing'. Very well, let's start with a different, but tangentially related concept;: zero. Of course you have no problem thinking about zero. It's a real number, an integer, and it is the sum of two other real numbers; (x and minus x)


As soon as you apply zero to the world ‘out there’, i.e. outside of number abstraction, you find yourself trying to think of nothing which you can’t do without referencing the negation of something: no-thing. (And the phrase "real number", by the way, is purely intramural to mathematics - everyone now accepts imaginary numbers and their use in applied mathematics; the only import of the word "real" is to distinguish real numbers from imaginary numbers, it's got nothing to do with existence vis a vis non-existence.)

In this example, the analogy would be trying to picture your money being held in a steel box. You can't open the box and see 'minus a hundred quid' in it. You probably can't even picture what that would look like. Even so, if your balance reads 'one hundred pounds overdrawn' that's exactly the situation in the real world.


The only purpose of the minus sign is to denote a liability rather than an asset - your liability to the bank's shareholders, which is a very real £100 they can spend in the real economy. Sorry mate, but again, this has got nothing to do with existence vis a vis non-existence.

a pair of exactly opposite virtual particles (one of matter, the other of anti-matter.). These particles must (except in one very special case) instantly annihilate each other. Note that there is no 'cause' for this phenomenon; it is somthing that very, very probably will happen.


1. I think you mean "there is no known cause". In any case, I struggle to understand how there be no cause yet in one very special case the phenomenon cannot occur. If causation is irrelevant to the phenomenon then how can there be any preventative cause?

2. Further, what does it mean to say "something can become existent without cause"? It means "something can become existent not from something" = "something can become existent from nothing" ("not from some thing" = "from no thing"). And to say "something can become existent from nothing" is self-contradictory because it requires nothing to be at the very least a source of something becoming existent (as per my discussion with animist on the meaning of 'from'), but a source is something whereas nothing is only nothing.

3. About the particles, are you really saying "matter and anti-matter virtual particles" = "non-existence"? Surely not. I mean even if they do annilihate each other as you say, they've first got to exist before they can be annilihated, right? How can non-existence be annilihated??


Cheers,
Mick

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#722 Postby mickeyd » January 12th, 2011, 9:36 pm

Animist,

correct, so it has no functionality; did I say it did? no


Well that's it, end of story. Now we can really nail down this "something from nothing". 'Nothing' has no functionality - no functio, no performance, no action, no activity, no purpose. And since 'from' functionally connects whatever comes before it with whatever comes after it, the latter being at least the source of the former, then "something from nothing" is a contradiction and an abuse of language. Non-existence cannot be a source, a point of origin, because it is not. The proposition "something can originate from a non-existent point of origin" is complete and utter nonsense.

As I've said before many times, you can have "just is" but you can't have "something from nothing".

Regards,
Mick

thundril
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#723 Postby thundril » January 12th, 2011, 9:56 pm

mickeyd wrote:Hiya Thundril,
I appreciate the effort but:

Thundril wrote:We find it virtually impossible to 'picture' the Universe having bounds yet not having anything outside it; not even 'nothingness'. But that is (very roughly speaking) what cosmology tells us.


Well then the cosmologist who pronounces this is a philosopher, not a scientist - which is what I've suspected of some cosmologists for a long time.


Note the parenthesised 'very roughly speaking', Mick. I suspect you've already noticed it, you can probably make a stab at why I put it there, and you're ignoring it so you can make a vague point. Disappointing, that.

MickeyD wrote:
Thundril wrote:]You say it is impossible to think of 'nothing'. Very well, let's start with a different, but tangentially related concept;: zero. Of course you have no problem thinking about zero. It's a real number, an integer, and it is the sum of two other real numbers; (x and minus x)


MickeyD wrote:[As soon as you apply zero to the world ‘out there’, i.e. outside of number abstraction, you find yourself trying to think of nothing which you can’t do without referencing the negation of something: no-thing.

So you don't think we can experience things like, for example, a temperature of 'zero Celsius' ?

MickeyD wrote:[(And the phrase "real number", by the way, is purely intramural to mathematics - everyone now accepts imaginary numbers and their use in applied mathematics; the only import of the word "real" is to distinguish real numbers from imaginary numbers, it's got nothing to do with existence vis a vis non-existence.)

Oh good! You do have some maths! Well done! So you will probably be aware that mathematicians also recognise that the imaginary numbers are just as real as the numbers formally called 'real'. You're dodging around again, Mick. Try honesty.

MickeyD wrote:[
Thundril wrote:In this example, the analogy would be trying to picture your money being held in a steel box. You can't open the box and see 'minus a hundred quid' in it. You probably can't even picture what that would look like. Even so, if your balance reads 'one hundred pounds overdrawn' that's exactly the situation in the real world.


[The only purpose of the minus sign is to denote a liability rather than an asset - your liability to the bank's shareholders, which is a very real £100 they can spend in the real economy. Sorry mate, but again, this has got nothing to do with existence vis a vis non-existence.


Quite. Again, you probably are sharp enough to notice that this was an analogy, and what the analogy was for, but just in case you really misunderstood, I'll spell it out: I was demonstrating that a concept which serves very well in one context becomes completely useless when you try to apply it in a context for which it is not designed. Hence, "minus a hundred quid" is a fine expression of the exact state of your account, but it does not apply to a picture of a bank vault containing "a hundred quid short of nothing". In the same way, your idea of 'nothingness' is completely inappropriate to the concept of 'empty space' Did you really not understand that? Ok, well do you still really not understand it?

MickeyD wrote:[
Thundril wrote:a pair of exactly opposite virtual particles (one of matter, the other of anti-matter.). These particles must (except in one very special case) instantly annihilate each other. Note that there is no 'cause' for this phenomenon; it is somthing that very, very probably will happen.


1. I think you mean "there is no known cause".

No, I don't mean simply that there is no "known" cause, I mean the event is probable, as described by the application of the uncertainty principle to the fluctuating non-zero energy density of the vacuum.

MickeyD wrote:In any case, I struggle to understand how there be no cause yet in one very special case the phenomenon cannot occur. If causation is irrelevant to the phenomenon then how can there be any preventative cause?

The one very special case is where a pair arises exactly on the event horizon of a black hole. In this case, one of the pair may travel into the black hole and therefore not be able to annihilate with its twin. The 'free' particle can then be detected as 'Hawking radiation'. Both Philbo and I have referred you to this phenomen several times. So why do you still pose questions that display no grasp of this?
a. Have you read through the Brief History and found it just too difficult?
b. . Have you read through the Brief History and understood where Philbo and I have got it wrong? If so, please elucidate.
c. Have you read through the Brief History and formulated an argument to destroy the theory? (If so, do you want to debate this with prof Hawking?
d. Could you just not be arsed looking at anything that might challenge your faith? In which case, what are you doing in a debating forum?
e. Can you think of any other reason why you have plainly not understood?

MickeyD wrote:[2. Further, what does it mean to say "something can become existent without cause"? It means "something can become existent not from something" = "something can become existent from nothing" ("not from some thing" = "from no thing"). And to say "something can become existent from nothing" is self-contradictory because it requires nothing to be at the very least a source of something becoming existent (as per my discussion with animist on the meaning of 'from'), but a source is something whereas nothing is only nothing.

Straw man. I have not said that "something can become existent without cause." Again, I really think you're bright enough to be fully conscious that I haven't said this, therefore I question your reasons for pretending that I have.

MickeyD wrote:[3. About the particles, are you really saying "matter and anti-matter virtual particles" = "non-existence"? Surely not.

No indeed. I've spelt this out very explicitly, Mick. I make a very clear distinction between 'empty space' and 'nothing'.The spin, electrical charge and all the other properties of the two particles adds up to zero. This has nothing to do with your odd idea of 'non-existence'.
Read my last post again, with a tiny bit of care.

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Alan C.
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#724 Postby Alan C. » January 12th, 2011, 9:58 pm

mick
Well that's it, end of story.
Oh how I wish, but my money is on you continuing with your nonsensical posts.
Hows about a new thread? Arguments for the non existence of god/s?
I'll start by saying..........Shit happens. mick?
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

thundril
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#725 Postby thundril » January 12th, 2011, 10:07 pm

Alan C. wrote:
mick
Well that's it, end of story.
Oh how I wish, but my money is on you continuing with your nonsensical posts.
Hows about a new thread? Arguments for the non existence of god/s?
I'll start by saying..........Shit happens. mick?

How about 'Arguments for the existence of MickeyD?

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#726 Postby mickeyd » January 12th, 2011, 10:27 pm

Thundril,


Note the parenthesised 'very roughly speaking', Mick. I suspect you've already noticed it, you can probably make a stab at why I put it there, and you're ignoring it so you can make a vague point. Disappointing, that.


Come off it thundril. To whatever degree a cosmologist says there's nothing 'outside' the universe to that degree they are speaking philosophically not scientifically. You have no cause for disappointment.

So you don't think we can experience things like, for example, a temperature of 'zero Celsius' ?


Yes of course we can, because (a) you've applied "zero" to the real (sensory-perceptive) world, taking it out of the world of pure maths, and (b) a temperature of zero is not non-existence, rather it's a particular level of kinetic energy of the random motion of the particle constituents of matter.

So you will probably be aware that mathematicians also recognise that the imaginary numbers are just as real as the numbers formally called 'real'. You're dodging around again, Mick. Try honesty.


What on earth are you talking about? Of course imaginary numbers are just as real as real numbers, nowhere have I denied it.

In the same way, your idea of 'nothingness' is completely inappropriate to the concept of 'empty space'


I haven't said that it is appropriate, or that it's inappropriate, on the contrary, I explicitly included in my reply to animist the mention that whether empty space is nothing or is not nothing does not help his cause.
You apparently, are the cosmologist, so I'll let you adjudicate on the relation between nothing and empty space.

do you want to debate this with prof Hawking


I would like to hear Hawking debate with a world class logician. If it comes down to a conflict between cosmology and logic I'd back logic every time. (This is not to imply, by the way, that Hawking's theories are illogical, merely that if they are then I'm with the logician not Hawking.)

Straw man. I have not said that "something can become existent without cause."


I'm very glad to hear it thundril. It means, since this point is my only concern in the present discussion, that there is no disagreement between us.

Cheers,
Mick

thundril
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#727 Postby thundril » January 12th, 2011, 10:33 pm

mickeyd wrote:I'm very glad to hear it thundril. It means, since this point is my only concern in the present discussion, that there is no disagreement between us.

Cheers,
Mick

Apart from the small question of the need for 'gods' :)

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#728 Postby mickeyd » January 12th, 2011, 11:06 pm

Thundril,

Incidentally,

Quite. Again, you probably are sharp enough to notice that this was an analogy, and what the analogy was for, but just in case you really misunderstood, I'll spell it out: I was demonstrating that a concept which serves very well in one context becomes completely useless when you try to apply it in a context for which it is not designed. Hence, "minus a hundred quid" is a fine expression of the exact state of your account, but it does not apply to a picture of a bank vault containing "a hundred quid short of nothing".


Firstly, logic is universal, relevant to any context.

Secondly, a bank vault dedicated to your account, containing "a hundred quid short of nothing", has its definition perfectly satisfied by an envelope in the vault containing £100 in physical notes with "I owe my bank this £100. Signed, thundril." The point is, money has a direct claim on real goods and services in a monetary economy (hence the Queen says on bank notes "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of..." which the bearer can then go and spend in the real economy), whether it be physical notes and coins or entries in a computer database. In the case of a database, the database is an electronic bank vault.

So money is a means of quantitatively evaluating goods and services and of storing claims on them. The evaluative function is reflected in the fact that any good or service for which the demand exceeds the supply at a zero price is defined as economically scarce. It's like the owner of a good says, "okay, I'm gonna charge nothing, put a zero valuation on my good - now will the demand exceed the supply at that zero price? No? Well then my good is not scarce, I can't put a positive value on it; ah, but now (sometime later) the demand exceeds the supply at my zero valuation, now I can charge a positive (non-zero) value for it - my new price exceeds zero."


Cheers,
Mick

thundril
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#729 Postby thundril » January 12th, 2011, 11:15 pm

You've lost the Argument, Mick. You've lost the plot, in fact. I really can't be arsed taking this any further. Bye!

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#730 Postby mickeyd » January 12th, 2011, 11:24 pm

Hi again thundril,

To be fair, I ought to say that I don't dispute that an analogy of one thing is not necessarily a good analogy of something else, and even if you're particular attempt to show this with the money example lacks precision, that should not and does not stop me from conceding your perfectly sensible underlying point.

I also admit that at the present time I'm not competent to evaluate the finer points of your cosmological discussion, but still the fact that logic is universal, and the fact that we agree something cannot come to exist without cause, shows that we are not entirely talking at cross purposes. Be assured that I've tried to engage with your arguments in terms of their logical form, albeit not in terms of their cosmological detail, which I've very little time to acquire at the moment.

I have to level with you that I am suspicious of cosmology in the hands of atheists, since I think that any present uncertainties too easily lend themselves to unwarranted atheistic extrapolation. Herein lies the value of logic, it does rigidly constrain argument.

Best,
Mick

thundril
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#731 Postby thundril » January 12th, 2011, 11:44 pm

mickeyd wrote:Hi again thundril,

To be fair, I ought to say that I don't dispute that an analogy of one thing is not necessarily a good analogy of something else, and even if you're particular attempt to show this with the money example lacks precision, that should not and does not stop me from conceding your perfectly sensible underlying point.

I also admit that at the present time I'm not competent to evaluate the finer points of your cosmological discussion, but still the fact that logic is universal, and the fact that we agree something cannot come to exist without cause, shows that we are not entirely talking at cross purposes. Be assured that I've tried to engage with your arguments in terms of their logical form, albeit not in terms of their cosmological detail, which I've very little time to acquire at the moment.

I have to level with you that I am suspicious of cosmology in the hands of atheists, since I think that any present uncertainties too easily lend themselves to unwarranted atheistic extrapolation. Herein lies the value of logic, it does rigidly constrain argument.

Best,
Mick


Very gracious of you, Mck.

One last point though: We do not agree that " something cannot come to exist without cause,". Unless you want to think of probability as 'cause'. Which I definitely don't.
All best, Jax.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#732 Postby mickeyd » January 13th, 2011, 12:26 am

Thundril,

We do not agree that " something cannot come to exist without cause,".


Hold on a minute, you've already posted today "I have not said that "something can become existent without cause.""

So which is it? Can it or can't it?


Which leads to a further point. Your complaint that I'm not familiar with the details of the latest theories in cosmology is in fact a red herring, since the logical evaluation of an argument is not concerned with its material import, but with its form or structure, as revealed by its quantifiers and connectives. For example:

All leprechauns are mortal
Leppy is a leprechaun
Therefore Leppy is mortal

is logically valid even though it's materially false.

Hence the only questions I need to ask of any cosmological proposition X that you care to deploy, in the context of the present issue on this forum, and if the answer is not already explicit in your post, are questions such as "Is X equivalent to existence from non-existence?", "Is X equivalent to something becoming existent without cause?". The material details about particles, spin rates, variable energy density fluctuations etc etc are irrelevant as far as testing for logical validity is concerned.

And if any cosmological proposition X that you advocate can be shown to be formally invalid, then it must also be materially false, because invalidity means it's not actually saying anything about the world, it's meaningless.

Cheers,
Mick

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#733 Postby thundril » January 13th, 2011, 12:45 am

mickeyd wrote:Thundril,

We do not agree that " something cannot come to exist without cause,".


Hold on a minute, you've already posted today "I have not said that "something can become existent without cause.""

So which is it? Can it or can't it?


A; I have not said that something can become existent without cause.
B; We do not agree that something cannot come to exist without cause.

Allowing that B seems to imply that I think something can come to exist without cause, (a reasonable interpretation, in the context,) I can see that you might think, at first glance, that these two statements cover all possibilities, that these two statements are mutually exclusive, and therefore that one (and only one) must be true.

But I believe that some events happen simply because they are probable.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#734 Postby Paolo » January 13th, 2011, 4:57 pm

mickeyd wrote:Paolo,

Including God presumably.


Quite so, no theistic conception of God is of a caused entity. If God were caused then to postulate God as a causal explanation of the universe would obviously be a non-starter.

Mick

I assume then that God just is, always has been and always will be?

The same could be true of the Universe - it may constantly expand and contract on a multibillion year basis for all we know, with time being an artefact of the process that would be irrelevant external to our space-time bubble. Who knows.

You're ignoring the point that the origin of the Universe is not a valid argument for the existence of God, which is the point of this thread.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#735 Postby animist » January 13th, 2011, 7:30 pm

mickeyd wrote:The material details about particles, spin rates, variable energy density fluctuations etc etc are irrelevant as far as testing for logical validity is concerned.

And if any cosmological proposition X that you advocate can be shown to be formally invalid, then it must also be materially false, because invalidity means it's not actually saying anything
you seem to be saying that, whatever empirical evidence might be presented to you for uncaused creation, you will reject it as logically impossible. You really should look at a basic book on philosophy to see that logical impossibility has nothing to do with causation.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#736 Postby mickeyd » January 14th, 2011, 12:10 am

Hi thundril,

Allowing that B seems to imply that I think something can come to exist without cause, (a reasonable interpretation, in the context,) I can see that you might think, at first glance, that these two statements cover all possibilities, that these two statements are mutually exclusive, and therefore that one (and only one) must be true.

But I believe that some events happen simply because they are probable.


The only application of probability to the point at issue is this: is the probability of an uncaused event zero or non-zero?

A probability datum has no causal power, since it's merely the calculation of a mathematical model of likelihood, so your statement that events happen because they are probable is a category error.

Cheers,
Mick

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#737 Postby mickeyd » January 14th, 2011, 12:19 am

Paolo,

The same could be true of the Universe... You're ignoring the point that the origin of the Universe is not a valid argument for the existence of God, which is the point of this thread.


Yes, the universe could 'just be'. But no, I am not ignoring the point of this thread, for the very reason you've just given. I've shown that either the universe 'just is' or it's created by something that 'just is', these are the only logically viable options. "Something from nothing" is nonsense. This means that asking theists "what caused God?" is met by theists, with equal force, by the reply "what caused the universe?" And hence the smug superiority of Dawkins & Co is actually baseless.

Mick

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#738 Postby mickeyd » January 14th, 2011, 12:22 am

Hi animist,

You really should look at a basic book on philosophy to see that logical impossibility has nothing to do with causation.


Okay, then open your book and quote from it.

Mick

thundril
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#739 Postby thundril » January 14th, 2011, 1:23 am

OK, Mickey. You're correct. I was careless with my terminology. I should not have used the word 'because' in that way. What I should have said is that I think some things are just probable, and that their 'happening' or 'not happening' has no necessary cause.
So my summing up of the whole debate here would be pretty much unchanged from before this debate started, (except I hope I am now a bit better informed about the rules of logical wrangling) Theists cannot 'prove' the existence of god by logic, and atheists cannot 'prove' the non-existence of god by logical wrangling either. But since the universe could exist very well without a god, the origin of the universe is, as Paolo points out, not a valid argument for 'his' existence.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#740 Postby animist » January 14th, 2011, 10:44 am

mickeyd wrote:Hi animist,

You really should look at a basic book on philosophy to see that logical impossibility has nothing to do with causation.


Okay, then open your book and quote from it.

Mick

this is embarrassingly easy - I should have done this before and saved some time. My textbook is "Introduction to Philosophical Analysis" by John Hospers, and on page 282 (of my edition) it says:

"But statements about causality are not logically necessary. "Friction causes heat" is not a logically necessary statement: it is logically possible that friction might have produced magnetic disturbances instead. It is only by empirical observation that we discover what causes what".

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#741 Postby mickeyd » January 14th, 2011, 12:12 pm

Hi animist,

"Friction causes heat" is not a logically necessary statement


Your counter-example would be valid if and only if it read "nothing causes heat is not necessarily a logically invalid statement".

I find it hard to believe in spontaneous creation of matter from nothing


Why do you find it hard?

Best,
Mick


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