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Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Hi MDB. I watched the video. Interesting, valid arguments. But I think that anyway it is impossible to prove (or disprove) God's existence (good or bad) by any argument or experience; this is a matter of faith, so long as compatible with reason.

For me, the basis of such faith is that we humans (and to lesser degrees animals) have consciousness (cognitive powers: perceptual, intuitive, conceptual), volition (free will) and valuations (which influence our choices). These undeniable faculties (which are related to each other) are inexplicable by means of material laws - scientists (so far at least) have found no mathematical formulae that make possible prediction of mind, spirit from that of matter.

In truth, most scientists are not even aware that they need to explain the existence of mind and spirit in relation to matter, if they want to claim to understand the world before us. They just naïvely take it for granted, i.e. they do not realize the magnitude of the problem it poses for science.

For me, this domain called spirit (comprising mental experiences, and consciousness/volition/valuation - which are powers of all soul/spirits like us) can so far be studied phenomenologically, i.e. by careful observation and abstraction. Although we humans and animals are materially scattered, we have these spiritual aspects of our existence in common (to various degrees). Is our spirituality also scattered, or is it one?

The idea of God, it seems to me, is the unifying factor of these scattered souls. Spirit is One; we are all sparks of God's spiritual nature - so teach mystics, and I find this a reasonable thesis. It would be much more difficult to suppose that souls are without ultimate unity. Therefore, having unity, we can suppose a large parallel domain of spirituality, which evidently somehow intersects with the material domain in us all.

Note well that some such thesis is necessary. One cannot just dismiss the need for a thesis about spirituality, and view the world as purely material. This would be in contradiction to our experience.

Something about you (optional) logician-philosopher

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Hi Avi,


In truth, most scientists are not even aware that they need to explain the existence of mind and spirit in relation to matter, if they want to claim to understand the world before us. They just naïvely take it for granted, i.e. they do not realize the magnitude of the problem it poses for science.


I agree. Anyone who takes materialism to be a serious philosophical position just hasn't thought it though because it's basically self-refuting. Ironically, science itself shows that it must be false, for all kinds of reasons.



Although we humans and animals are materially scattered, we have these spiritual aspects of our existence in common (to various degrees). Is our spirituality also scattered, or is it one?

The idea of God, it seems to me, is the unifying factor of these scattered souls. Spirit is One; we are all sparks of God's spiritual nature - so teach mystics, and I find this a reasonable thesis.


Me too. As a regular meditator, I sometimes find myself in the so called "witness position", which is characterised by a recognition that I am not merely a bundle of transient thoughts, emotions and sensations, but that which is aware of them. So what is that which is aware? whatever it is, it seems intuitively obvious that there is no difference between it "in me", and in other otherwise separated individuals. Of course, I have no access to others' experience, and intuition can be misleading, but it's a powerful experience nevertheless, although somewhat fleeting and hard to maintain.

Regarding the Cosmological argument discussed in this thread, I still think it's a pretty good argument, even though it's not formally (deductively) valid. I'm reminded of the Asian mythological view -

A Western traveler encountering an Oriental philosopher asks him to describe the nature of the world: “It is a great ball resting on the flat back of the world turtle.” “Ah yes, but what does the world turtle stand on?” “On the back of a still larger turtle.” “Yes, but what does he stand on?” “A very perceptive question. But it’s no use, mister; it’s turtles all the way down.”

As far as I'm aware, infinity is a mathematical construct with no actual instances in nature, and the fact that we all find the "turtles" example an absurdity surely counts for something. While it's true that there is no logical contradiction in saying that it's possible for a series of causes to regress infinitely, how likely is it, given that there are no infinities in the natural world? After all, you yourself emphasise that there is no firm dividing line between deduction and induction, and since we haven't observed any infinities, aren't we justified in ruling them out, at least as a working hypothesis?


Joe, there are four conceivable possibilities, logically. A causal chain is infinite at both ends; or it is infinite to start but finite at the end; of it is finite to start but infinite at the end; or it is finite at both ends. Logically, all four conceivable possibilities are indeed actually possible. There is no FORMALLY PROVEN BASIS for rejecting any of these four options - they involve no self-contradiction.


They may all be possible, but I think there's a tendency to conflate "possible" with "probable". I mean, it's possible that Manchester United will contact me today offering me a position of striker in their team, even though I'm 58 years old, haven't played football since I was at school, and have no interest in the game. :smile:

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Hi MDB. Interested to learn that you are a regular meditator. So am I. We seem to agree on the issue of spiritual unity. I think that you would be interested to read my latest reflections on this issue, which were revelatory for me, in the essay: The Five Skandhas Doctrine. Be sure to read both webpages shown below.
http://avisionbuddhism.bravesites.com/entries/skandhas/16-the-five-skandhas-doctrine
http://avisionbuddhism.bravesites.com/entries/general/17-the-five-skandhas-doctrine-contd

Regarding infinite regression, an argument that accepts infinity (like the turtle example) is very weak and unconvincing. With regard to God, specifically, I stated long ago, in my book Judaic Logic, that positing God as explanation of the (material) world is no solution to the existence of the world, since the idea of God is an even more complex idea than that of the experienced world (since it implies God creating it) and therefore requires even more explanation.

I think the intellectual search for God is to be carried out rather by means of reference to our spirituality, which is not explicable from a materialistic perspective, as already mentioned in my previous post.

Best regards, Avi

Something about you (optional) logician-philosopher

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Avi,

Thanks for the links. I have bookmarked them and will read later and comment in a new thread. I must say, you've produced an impressive body of work. I can't imagine what a labour this was for you. I'm retiring in a year or so and am looking forward to doing a lot more reading. Can I ask, was your first book Future Logic part of your PhD thesis? I have embarked on it and am finding it very interesting, although some terms are unfamiliar to me, even though I've been interested in logic for some years.


With regard to God, specifically, I stated long ago, in my book Judaic Logic, that positing God as explanation of the (material) world is no solution to the existence of the world, since the idea of God is an even more complex idea than that of the experienced world (since it implies God creating it) and therefore requires even more explanation.


Yes, although it depends on your conception of God. Classical theism (which I find quite appealing and plausible) gets around this problem by the doctrine of divine simplicity.

Cheers,
Mike

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

What do you make of Ryan Mullins and William Lane Craig's arguments against divine simplicity?
Namely, their modal collapse arguments?

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Hi Mike.

The existence of existence, the existence of anything whatever, begs the question ‘how come?’ (what caused it?), and even the question ‘Why?’ (for what purpose?). If there was no existence, if nothing whatever existed, there would be nothing surprising in the fact. (Of course, for any question to arise, there has to be someone aware of existence and able to ask the question; if existence existed but there was no one to see that, there would be no question asked.)

The idea of God is an attempt to answer that question (indeed, both those questions). But this answer is logically inadequate in that it involves a claim to the pre-existence of God, i.e. to an existence which in turn calls forth the same question(s), bringing us back full circle. On the other hand, assuming the atheist alternative does not erase the question, the wonder at the existence of existence – so, it does not solve the problem either.

Once we posit God, we are forced to turn our attention to the nature of God, and discuss his unique Oneness despite presumed multiple attributes needed to explain His thoughts and actions. I think the answer to that is largely to found in the idea (expressed at the conclusion my essay The Five Skandhas Doctrine) that the spiritual domain is radically different from the material domain, without substance, space and time, or any other analogical features. This realization comes from the awareness that all our discussions of spirituality proceed by means of analogies from our material experience: the concepts we resort to are materially biased and therefore inevitably distort the ultimate reality somewhat.

The discussions of Classical Theism and Divine Simplicity that you mention are, of course, all relevant and interesting. And yes, Future Logic was my doctoral dissertation (feel free to write me by e-mail if you need some clarification while reading it).

Something about you (optional) logician-philosopher

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Hi Wally.

The idea of God as being subject to necessity rather than freewill is an old one found in Greek and later in Arab/Muslim thinking. But if we conceive and understand God as spiritual, in the same sense that we are spiritual, i.e. having consciousness, volition and valuation, but these taken to extremes (omniscience, omnipotence, all-good), there is no doubt that He cannot be viewed as subject to blind natural necessity, like an automaton, but must be viewed as a supremely conscious, freely willing and good being. It is only in the latter way that our conception of God can be useful to us in formulating metaphysical, historical or ethical ideas and explanations.

See my book Volition and Allied Causal Concepts (at least chapters 1 and 2) on this subject. http://thelogician.net/VOLITION-and-ALLIED-CAUSAL-CONCEPTS/Cover-page.htm.

Something about you (optional) logician-philosopher

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Avi Sion
Hi Mike.

The existence of existence, the existence of anything whatever, begs the question ‘how come?’ (what caused it?), and even the question ‘Why?’ (for what purpose?). If there was no existence, if nothing whatever existed, there would be nothing surprising in the fact. (Of course, for any question to arise, there has to be someone aware of existence and able to ask the question; if existence existed but there was no one to see that, there would be no question asked.)

The idea of God is an attempt to answer that question (indeed, both those questions). But this answer is logically inadequate in that it involves a claim to the pre-existence of God, i.e. to an existence which in turn calls forth the same question(s), bringing us back full circle. On the other hand, assuming the atheist alternative does not erase the question, the wonder at the existence of existence – so, it does not solve the problem either.

Once we posit God, we are forced to turn our attention to the nature of God, and discuss his unique Oneness despite presumed multiple attributes needed to explain His thoughts and actions. I think the answer to that is largely to found in the idea (expressed at the conclusion my essay The Five Skandhas Doctrine) that the spiritual domain is radically different from the material domain, without substance, space and time, or any other analogical features. This realization comes from the awareness that all our discussions of spirituality proceed by means of analogies from our material experience: the concepts we resort to are materially biased and therefore inevitably distort the ultimate reality somewhat.

The discussions of Classical Theism and Divine Simplicity that you mention are, of course, all relevant and interesting. And yes, Future Logic was my doctoral dissertation (feel free to write me by e-mail if you need some clarification while reading it).


And yes, Future Logic was my doctoral dissertation (feel free to write me by e-mail if you need some clarification while reading it).


Thanks Avi. If it's all the same to you, if I have need of clarification regarding the book I will post here. I see there is already a thread in the Logic section devoted to the topic. That way, others who have queries may find the answers there.

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Good idea. No problem.

Something about you (optional) logician-philosopher