An Evidential Argument from Non-God Objects: Part 2

In a previous post I talked about how any non-God object (and/or objects) is evidence against classical theism. My argument is as follows:

1. It is a known fact that (concrete) reality consists of some thing(s) that is/are not God
2. (1) is more expected on the hypothesis of metaphysical naturalism than on the hypothesis of classical theism
3. The intrinsic probability of metaphysical naturalism is equal to that of classical theism
4. Therefore, other evidence held equal, classical theism is probably false

I then went on to say:
If naturalism is true, there is a (natural) reality with no God. If classical theism is true, then God exists; however, it is an open question whether God would create anything at all. Thus, naturalism entails that there will be a part of reality that is not Divine, whereas theism doesn’t entail that there will be anything other than God. [2] Thus, the fact that there exist some entities other than God (if God exists) is evidence against God’s existence

I want to clarify what I meant in this previously written paragraph. I’m mainly focused on concrete reality instead of abstract reality. Concrete reality consists of chairs, people, trees, phones, staplers, computers, universes, the cosmos, etc. If, for example, Platonism is true and the number ‘3’ exists, then God can’t do anything about that. Hence, it’s unclear how the existence of abstract objects would lower the probability of a God existing, but one could still try to run a logical/conceptual argument against God’s existence (based on the existence of abstract objects….if they exist).

The same cannot be said of concrete objects. If naturalism is true, then there must be a concrete reality apart from God. Hence, there must also be some part of concrete reality that is not God. In other words, ‘none’ entails ‘not some’. If there are no A’s, then there are (surely) not some A’s. Naturalism entails a concrete reality without God, whereas classical theism doesn’t entail this. In fact, one might expect that God wouldn’t create anything because God is perfect goodness with unlimited knowledge and power. God would plausibly be satisfied with just herself; hence, while- for all we know- God would want to create something, it is also true that (for all we know) God will not want create anything. If God creating stuff entails (or makes likely) that there will exist things like horrific suffering; unbelief; dystelelogy; religious confusion; finite beings, etc., then that’s a good reason not to create stuff  in the first place.

Objections
I responded to the objection that God had to create something. My response was that even if that’s plausible, it’s not known to be true but on naturalism it is (known to be true). Here in this post I also want to say: adding an auxiliary hypothesis to classical theism to explain why some concrete reality exists apart from God is less simple than the naturalistic hypothesis.

Conclusion
Thus, naturalism is a better explanation than theism for the existence of non-divine objects. If you can think of any good objections, then you can post them down in the comments. I’ll respond in (upcoming) part 3.

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34 thoughts on “An Evidential Argument from Non-God Objects: Part 2

  1. The godlike Robert

    I think you are right but I might make the point that the Western concept of God is of a supreme ego that constructed a universe that he is separate from. The creation of man also implies a separation because man was constructed independently from the rest of creation. In both examples God and man do not belong to this universe in a natural way in time but through spontaneous acts.
    To eastern thought this is a ridiculous situation as it is from the scientific view.

  2. The problem is that on the other side of this argument are people who just make things up about their gods. There are no limits upon what they can make up, so they do. And when “god’s creation” contradicts what they claim, they say that it isn’t what our lying eyes say it is. Denial and a vivid imagination: the only tools many theists need.

    1. The godlike Robert

      While speaking for a god you can also construct this God in the minds of others. It just so happens that these images are as varied as the desires of the people claiming the authority to do so.

    2. If God does not exist the Theology is a branch of Anthropology. Read ‘Essence of Christianity’ by Feuerbach and quit the demeaning abuse of theists (such abuse demeans you not them)

  3. In your 2nd statement, I don’t know what you mean by the term “metaphysical naturalism”.

    Naturalism (apart from any metaphysical aspects) cannot explain the existence of any contingent item in the universe.

    1. 雨Jacob雨

      The claim that naturalism cannot explain the existence of any contingent item within the universe is rather outlandish. In fact, it is such an outlandish claim that no proponent of arguments to theism from the contingency of the cosmos has made it. Rather, what proponents of arguments from contingency usually claim is that all contingent items, whether they be events, states, objects, facts, have explanations. If one were to assert that, unless naturalism is false, there can be no explanations of any contingencies whatsoever, there would no non-question begging evidence that anything contingent has an explanation. Thus, there would be no evidence whatsoever for the principle of sufficient reason, whether that principle is understood in its weak or strong form. Thus, if you think naturalists should accept any argument from the contingency of some fact to the existence of non-natural, necessarily existent entities, you must allow that, at least in some cases, contingent items have explanations.

      Suppose that a naturalist is committed to the view that there are brute, unexplained contingencies in the causal order. Perhaps this naturalist thinks that there is some contingent causal item that causes other things, but that is not itself caused. Unless one thinks there is some other form of explanation other than causal explanation, this item is brute. Nonetheless, this naturalist is free to suppose that all non-initial items have explanations. In particular, this naturalist is free to suppose that all non-initial items have causes in accordance with some regularity, and thus, have causal explanations. Thus, it simply isn’t true that, unless there is an explanation of every causal item, no causal item is explained. It simply isn’t the case that, unless one’s explanans has an explanation — causal, deductive-nomological, or whatever other types of explanations one wishes to countenance — there can be no explanation of one’s explanandum. Indeed, this is how explanation works. As the philosopher J.L Mackie explains:

      Any particular explanation starts with premises which state ‘brute facts’, and although the brutally factual starting-points of one explanation may themselves be further explained by another, the
      latter in turn will have to start with something that it does not explain, and so on however far we go.

      Your objection is simply a species of the “but who designed the designer?” objection. These objections simply misunderstand the logic of explanation, as William Lane Craig explains:

      It is widely recognized that in order for an explanation to be the best, one need not have an explanation of the explanation (indeed, such a requirement would generate an infinite regress, so that everything becomes inexplicable). If the best explanation of a disease is a previously unknown virus, doctors need not be able to explain the virus in order to know that it caused the disease. If archaeologists determine that the best explanation of the existence certain artifacts is a lost tribe of ancient people, we need not be able to explain the tribe’s origin in order to say justifiably that the tribe produced the artifacts. If astronauts should find traces of intelligent life on some other planet, we need not be able to explain such extraterrestrials in order to recognize that they are the best explanation.

      Thus, we have yet to see any serious objection to naturalism. Naturalism, by the way, is the view that the universe is a closed system. With this definition in mind, you can see that the truth of naturalism entails the existence of the physical universe — indeed, P(physical universe | naturalism) = 1 — and thus, non-theistic entities. If we think that God is a free agent, and thus, was free not to create anything, the existence of the physical universe is not entailed by the truth of theism. That, in essence, is Jonathan’s point about the existence of physical reality being evidence for naturalism over theism.

      1. 雨Jacob雨

        Well, I see no basis whatever for claiming that the universe is an effect and must have a cause, albeit, one of an indeterminate nature. Indeed, the account of causal judgement that I defended above explicitly excludes such a conclusion. Thus, I simply disagree with your statement that we shouldn’t be agnostic on the question regarding whether the universe is the effect of some prior cause. I simply do not see the grounds for such a claim.

        I also do not know why we should infer intelligence from molecular machinery found in cells. You claim that such a conclusion is analogous to inferring intelligence from arrowheads found in fields but do not explain how exactly the basis for that conclusion is. The development of cells seems to be well-understood by molecular biologists. Moreover, the analogy instantly breaks down when one realizes that the cause you must posit to make this conclusion at all relevant to theism — i.e. a supernatural agent-cause — is entirely mysterious and without analogy to anything in experience. We certainly have no experience of intelligent agents that create without any physical or causal mediation or without materials or instruments, which it seems a supernatural creator must. Moreover, even if I were to grant that the development of cells was entirely mysterious given our current scientific knowledge, this seems to me to be very poor reason for postulating a supernatural agency. If one finds it entirely mysterious how some biological structure could have produced by a naturalistic mechanism, one should find it equally mysterious how such a biological structure could have been produced by a supernatural mechanism. To quote the philosopher Gregory Dawes:

        A theistic explanation, in order to be an explanation, presupposes a mechanism—the action of a spiritual being within the material world—that is entirely unlike any other mechanism with which we are familiar. Not only does this mechanism lack analogy; it is also wholly mysterious.

        The hypothesis that such-and-such was produced by an unknown, supernatural mechanism, by my lights, is no better than the hypothesis that such-and-such was produced by an unknown, naturalistic mechanism. There seems to me to be no adequate way of evaluating the comparative mysteries. Thus, the hypotheses seem to be on an explanatory par. Moreover, there are countless historical cases in which we had no good naturalistic explanations for certain things at some time but later found perfectly good naturalistic explanations. An example would be meteorites. Even a skeptic like Thomas Jefferson thought that meteorites simply couldn’t exist. To quote Jefferson, “Gentlemen, I would rather believe two Yankee professors would lie, than that stones have fallen from the heavens.” Nonetheless, we now understand meteorites perfectly well. There are countless other examples of naturalistic explanations being winning out in the long run over supernatural explanations. Are there any examples of supernatural explanations superseding naturalistic explanations? Not that I am aware of. Thus, it seems to me that it is unreasonable to prefer a mysterious supernatural mechanism to an equally mysterious naturalistic mechanism and also unreasonable to put much weight in supernatural hypotheses given their poor historical track record. Thus, it seems to me that your case for theism on the basis of (allegedly) inexplicable biological machinery is rather empty. Moreover, as it stands, I see no reason for thinking that we have good reason to infer the existence of God (or any other supernatural agency) from the existence of the universe. I think my argument that we have no reason to regard the universe is an effect at all, let alone the effect of a supernatural being, remains untouched. Thus, neither of your arguments for theism strike me as particularly compelling. The design argument you present involves dubious premises regarding our current scientific understanding of molecular biology and isn’t persuasive even if such premises were granted, given the parity unknown, mysterious mechanisms. The cosmological argument isn’t persuasive, as sound causal judgment — judgment based upon experience, observation, and analogy — precludes us from regarding the universe as an effect for the reasons I detailed and, thus, precludes us into inquiring into a cause that is external to it.

      2. ” Are there any examples of supernatural explanations superseding naturalistic explanations? Not that I am aware of.”

        Of course. You’ve eliminated supernatural explanations as possibilities preferring to remain “agnostic” when a natural explanation is not available.

        The definition of “supernatural” puts such explanations in an different catagory than natural explanations.

        If you truly believe arrowheads are evidence of intelligence but molecular machinery in cells is not, I have nothing pertinent to add to this conversation.

      3. 雨Jacob雨

        >Of course. You’ve eliminated supernatural explanations as possibilities preferring to remain “agnostic” when a natural explanation is not available.

        Well, this was the conclusion, not a premise, of my argument. Thus, it is no objection to my argument to claim that it is question-begging. My objection involved two contentions: firstly, that supernatural explanations are entirely mysterious because they invoke an entirely mysterious mechanism: the action of a spiritual being within the material world. If it is mysterious to you how an entirely physical process could produce some natural entity, it should be equally mysterious how an entirely non-physical process could produce the same natural entity. An explanation that involves an entirely unknown, mysterious and wholly unprecedented mechanism — the action of a wholly non-physical, spiritual being within the material world — is no better than an explanation that involves an entirely unknown, mysterious and wholly unprecedented physical mechanism. Thus, were we presented with some physically inexplicable phenomenon, it would never be be a good abductive inference to suppose that a supernatural mechanism is responsible for that phenomenon. This is because there is an equally good — or equally poor, depending on how you see things — explanation in terms of a wholly mysterious, wholly unknown, and wholly unprecedented physical process. Again, unless you have some process by which we can assess the credentials of comparative mysteries, it seems that, upon being presented with a currently inexplicable naturalistic phenomenon, we should, at the very least, suspend judgment. Hence, agnosticism was the conclusion of my argument, not a premise of my argument. I didn’t beg the question, and so, it is no good to say that, “well, of course you would say that: you’re an agnostic!” You attempted to furnish me with an argument for the existence of God — an argument from certain biological structures which, contrary to what you assert, are rather well-understood by cell biologists. I noted how your bewilderment, in all likelihood, is entirely unfounded and even if one were to grant that there was a genuine mystery regarding cells, this could never figure into an abductive argument for anything supernatural for the reasons I laid out. Thus, I am afraid to say that you simply haven’t engaged with my argument and, instead, simply misleadingly represented me as having some unfounded bias against the supernatural, totally ignoring my argument supporting my position. I also gave a second argument, which was that the history of science contains countless examples of naturalistic explanations replacing supernatural ones and no examples of supernatural explanations replacing naturalistic ones and that this seems to be expected on the view that all true explanations are completely naturalistic, whereas it seems rather implausible that, if there were true supernatural explanations, they wouldn’t be replacing natural explanations all the time. Perhaps your complaint is that this can hardly be surprising, given that supernatural explanations have epistemological issues that prohibit them from ever replacing naturalistic explanations, therefore the success of naturalistic explanations in the history of science is not unlikely were there true supernatural explanations. However, this is simply conceding that the conclusion of my first argument is true and that there are insuperable issues intrinsic to supernatural hypotheses that prevent them from explaining natural phenomenon. If you make that concession, you abandon your argument. If you don’t make that concession, then you have a second objection that you need to address. Neither of these objections, to my mind, has been satisfactorily answered. The complaint that I simply beg the question against the possibility of supernatural explanations was your only objection and I successfully have rebutted this one. I did no such thing. Neither of my arguments made any claims regarding the possibility of supernatural agencies. My first argument, to briefly summarize, concluded that a supernatural explanation of any natural phenomena within the universe will never be justified on the grounds of inference to the best explanation. It made no claims whether supernatural causes or true explanations are possible. My second argument concluded that certain facts surrounding the history of science are more probable if there are no true supernatural explanations than if there are true supernatural explanations. I am perfectly willing to concede that the soundness of my first argument seems to be in tension with the conclusion of the soundness of my second argument. If inference to the best explanation could never justify one in believing a supernatural hypotheses purporting to explain some phenomenon within the universe, then the fact that no supernatural explanations have replaced naturalistic explanations isn’t particularly surprising if there are true supernatural explanations. However, if my first argument is sound, then your argument for theism shouldn’t be accepted. If my first argument isn’t sound, then there is a second argument which needs to be dealt with that is equally destructive to your argument for theism. Thus, I have yet to see a serious response to my arguments that is consistent with maintaining that one can reasonably infer the existence of a supernatural agent from puzzling phenomenon within the universe. There is a third argument that I think is equally decisive that naturalizes the epistemic principles adopted by skeptical theists and shows how those principles themselves can undercut any argument for the supernatural from the mysteriousness of natural phenomenon within the universe. I will, however, not present this argument until we have sufficiently considered my first two arguments.

        >The definition of “supernatural” puts such explanations in an different catagory than natural explanations.

        I didn’t dispute this, so I am not sure why you are telling me this. Of course, supernatural explanations are different from natural explanations. You’ll have to explain the relevance of this observation to either of my arguments if you think that accepting this principle somehow undermines either of them.

        >If you truly believe arrowheads are evidence of intelligence but molecular machinery in cells is not, I have nothing pertinent to add to this conversation.

        Perhaps I could explain my reason for accepting that arrowheads are evidence for intelligence but rejecting molecular machinery as evidence for supernatural agency. The reason has do with my views concerning what grounds the former inference and why it is disanalogous to the second inference. The philosopher Graham Oppy gives the following example:

        Consider the real-life example of the discovery of the antikythera mechanism in 1900–1901. The discoverers of this mechanism immediately recognised that it was a man-made artefact, even though they had no idea about its principal function, nor about the sub-functions served by the parts, nor (consequently) whether the materials from which the mechanism and its parts were constructed were well suited to the functions in question. (Recent investigation has established that the antikythera mechanism is actually an ancient mechanical computer designed to calculate the positions of significant astronomical objects: the sun, the moon, the planets and the stars. But it was more than 50 years from the discovery of the antikythera mechanism before anyone came close to figuring this out.) How is it, then, that those who found the antikythera mechanism were immediately able to identify it as a man-made artefact? Well, they could see immediately that it was composed from metals that do not occur in nature – for example, bronze. They could see immediately that it has a shape that does not belong to the natural world. They could see immediately that there were cog-wheels in its interior – and, of course, they knew full well that cog-wheels do not grow on trees. etc

        Thus, I don’t think our inferences to design are grounded in some a priori intuition that function or complexity cannot emerge from physical processes. Rather, it is based on our background knowledge about certain materials that do not belong to the natural world independent of the social activity of human beings. The same isn’t true of biological structures. As Oppy continues, stressing the disanalogy:

        When we observe plants and animals, we do not find them to have shapes that do not belong to the natural world. When we open up plants and animals, we do not find that they contain cog-wheels. etc. In other words, it is simply false that ‘every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature.’

        Even if one were to grant that, in some cases, we draw inferences to agency from considerations regarding the function and constitution of entities, this would be insufficient to ground the design argument you presented. Once again, to quote Oppy:

        Consider, for example, a rabbit’s heart…There is no doubt that the rabbit’s heart belongs to a kind that has a function, and that its material constitution is suited to that function – but there is also no doubt that there is nothing ‘inevitable’ about the supposition that the rabbit’s heart is an artefact. While [the] theist may believe that rabbit’s hearts are artefacts – because designed by God – there is no question that [the] naturalist has not the slightest inclination to agree. And, of course, [the] naturalist supposes that there is an alternative, evolutionary explanation of the presence in the world of rabbit’s hearts (with the functions, and suitability of material constitution to functioning that we observe them to have).

        Of course, this is exactly how scientists explain the development of cells; see David Baltimore and Harvey Lodish’s Molecular Cell Biology for an introduction. Thus, there is nothing inevitable about the inference to design you draw; it is based on controversial theses regarding the basis on which we discern agency. Moreover, it seems out-of-touch with contemporary biology, which, contrary to what you claim, does perfectly well in explaining the origins of cells and their structures by appealing unguided natural processes unmediated by agency, let alone the very queer type of agency that would be needed to show this argument to be at all relevant to the truth of theism: namely, a disembodied intelligence outside of time and space.

      4. “You attempted to furnish me with an argument for the existence of God — an argument from certain biological structures which, contrary to what you assert, are rather well-understood by cell biologists.”

        Contrary to what you assert, the origins of those biological structures are not well-understood by cell biologists. We both know the origins of life are a mystery. Apparently you’re content to let question begging serve as the foundation for your argument. So be it.

        I see no basis whatever for claiming the arrangement of letters next to your screen name is an effect and must have a cause, albeit, one of an indeterminate nature. I simply disagree that we shouldn’t be agnostic on the question regarding whether the above verbiage is the effect of some prior cause. I simply do not see the grounds for such a claim.

        I do not know why we should infer intelligence from sentence structures found in online dialogue. You claim that such a conclusion is analogous to inferring intelligence from arrowheads found in fields but do not explain how exactly the basis for that conclusion is.

      5. 雨Jacob雨

        >Contrary to what you assert, the origins of those biological structures are not well-understood by cell biologists. We both know the origins of life are a mystery. Apparently you’re content to let question begging serve as the foundation for your argument. So be it.

        Well, you claimed that the “molecular machinery inside living cells” needs an intentional explanation. However, we know quite a bit about this. The best book I know on the topic is Joseph Panno’s The Cell: Evolution of the First Organism. In any case, even if we suppose that there are mysteries regarding the cell which is obviously true — why else would we still be doing science if we already knew everything there is to know? — or any other biological phenomenon, the reasonableness of appealing to supernatural agents is rather contestable. I argued that the fact that certain facts within the universe are currently inexplicable naturalistically does not give us any reason to infer the existence of supernatural agents. You, again, have not engaged seriously with my argument. You once again claimed it was question-begging, however, this is a rather desperate objection that I already rebutted. Shall I restate what I told you previously in response to this attempt to rebut my argument? I suppose I must:

        Well, this was the conclusion, not a premise, of my argument. Thus, it is no objection to my argument to claim that it is question-begging…If it is mysterious to you how an entirely physical process could produce some natural entity, it should be equally mysterious how an entirely non-physical process could produce the same natural entity. An explanation that involves an entirely unknown, mysterious and wholly unprecedented mechanism — the action of a wholly non-physical, spiritual being within the material world — is no better than an explanation that involves an entirely unknown, mysterious and wholly unprecedented physical mechanism. Thus, were we presented with some physically inexplicable phenomenon, it would never be be a good abductive inference to suppose that a supernatural mechanism is responsible for that phenomenon. This is because there is an equally good — or equally poor, depending on how you see things — explanation in terms of a wholly mysterious, wholly unknown, and wholly unprecedented physical process. Again, unless you have some process by which we can assess the credentials of comparative mysteries, it seems that, upon being presented with a currently inexplicable naturalistic phenomenon, we should, at the very least, suspend judgment. Hence, agnosticism was the conclusion of my argument, not a premise of my argument.

        Now, this was my argument. Where do I beg the question? You previously claimed that I begged the question by excluding the possibility of there being true supernatural explanations, but that is neither a premise nor a conclusion of my argument. My argument has nothing to do with whether there are supernatural entities or true supernatural explanations of events within the universe, i.e. supernatural causes that are responsible for phenomenon within the universe. Rather, my argument hinged on the idea that supernatural explanations invoke a wholly mysterious mechanism — “the action of a spiritual being within the material world,” as the philosopher of science Gregory Dawes deemed it — that is on a par with a wholly mysterious naturalistic mechanism that a naturalist could posit to explain the same facts within the universe? How does this mechanism explain the facts? We don’t know. The mechanism is unknown, mysterious, and perhaps without analogy. However, it does just as well as the supernatural explanation, given that all supernatural explanations, as Dawes notes, include an equally unknown, mysterious, and wholly unprecedented mechanism. Let’s term the naturalistic hypotheses N1 and the supernatural hypotheses S1. Why is S1 a better explanation than N1? By what criteria do we judge comparative mysteries? If there are no such criteria, it cannot be said that S1 is a better explanation. Thus, there aren’t any abductive reasons for accepting a supernatural hypothesis to explain a phenomenon within the universe. The reason is that there is a competitor hypothesis — N1 — that is just as good of an explanation. Now, where exactly in this argument is the question begged? It is a rather simple argument, and I defended each of my contentions. Let’s term this the “mysterious mechanism objection.” If you wish to reject my conclusion — that it is never reasonable to believe in a supernatural hypothesis explaining some phenomenon within the universe on the grounds that such a hypothesis is the best explanation — you need to rebut this argument. Until you do that, I think it is rational to accept the conclusion of my argument, which is that supernatural explanations cannot be the best explanations of currently inexplicable phenomenon within our universe.

        >I see no basis whatever for claiming the arrangement of letters next to your screen name is an effect and must have a cause, albeit, one of an indeterminate nature. I simply disagree that we shouldn’t be agnostic on the question regarding whether the above verbiage is the effect of some prior cause. I simply do not see the grounds for such a claim.

        Now, this is an objection to my critique of the cosmological argument; it isn’t a critique of my objection to the design argument you present. Since we long since moved on from that argument and were discussing the merits and demerits of your argument for supernatural agents from unexplained biological features, it is a bit peculiar to bring this argument up again. Nonetheless, it is an easily addressed criticism. My contention wasn’t that we cannot make causal inferences. Rather, I argued that causal judgment is based on our observing two species of objects being constantly conjoined and that we would not be able to make causal inferences were an event so singular and particular a nature as to have no parallel and no similarity with any other cause or object that has ever fallen under our observation. An timeless, immaterial agent is clearly singular and unparalleled, as even proponents of the cosmological argument acknowledge. The same is true of the universe: the universe is not some effect that we have experienced to follow
        after some preceding event. We have no experience with other universes or their relations to their causes. Thus, I argued, we have no grounds for demanding a cause for it. To quote from Hume:

        Will anyone tell me with a straight face that an orderly universe must arise from some thought and
        artifice like human thought and artifice, because we have experience of it? To make this reasoning secure, we would need to have had experience of the origins of worlds; it isn’t sufficient, surely, to have seen ships and cities arise from human artifice and contrivance.

        I think this is sufficient to demonstrate the basis for our ordinary causal judgments and how they are distinct from the judgment involved in the cosmological argument. Our ordinary causal judgments are based on the experience of two species of objects — humans and their contrivances in the case you mention — being conjoined. The speculative, unfounded causal judgment made by the proponent of the cosmological argument involves an effect and a cause that are singular and particular a nature and have never been observed being conjoined in experience.

        >I do not know why we should infer intelligence from sentence structures found in online dialogue. You claim that such a conclusion is analogous to inferring intelligence from arrowheads found in fields but do not explain how exactly the basis for that conclusion is.

        Well, I am equally skeptical that I ought to infer intelligence from the sentences I have been reading in this dialogue, but perhaps my grounds for skepticism are different than yours. Nonetheless, I offered a basis for making inferences to intelligence. Recall my quotations from Graham Oppy. Since this conversation does not seem to be going anywhere, I’ll end my tirades here and yield to you if you had any final remarks or closing observations/thoughts. This has been an interesting conversation from my end. Hopefully, we can both find something to take away from it even if we couldn’t come to any consensus.

      6. “Will anyone tell me with a straight face that an orderly universe must arise from some thought and
        artifice like human thought and artifice, because we have experience of it?”

        Sure! I’ll tell you that!

        Will you tell me with a straight face that an automobile need not be proceeded by thought and intention before it comes into existence?

      7. Philosophy of Religion blog (Does God Exist?)

        Just to be clear, I don’t consider arguments from non-god objects, like mine, to be the same thing as arguments from non-contingency (nor arguments from contingency against God’s existence). I didn’t make use of the concepts of contingency and necessity in my argument.

    2. 雨Jacob雨

      Personally, I am not sure if the existence of the cosmos is a brute fact. My own response to the question “why does the universe exist?” is the response that received its classic formulation by Hume: we have no basis for answering this question. To quote from Hume:

      In a word, I much doubt whether it be possible for a cause to be known only by its effect (as you have all along supposed) or to be of so singular and particular a nature as to have no parallel and no similarity with any other cause or object, that has ever fallen under our observation. It is only when two species of objects are found to be constantly conjoined, that we can infer the one from the other; and were an effect presented, which was entirely singular, and could not be comprehended under any known species, I do not see that we could form any conjecture or inference at all concerning its cause. If experience and observation and analogy be, indeed, the only guides which we can reasonably follow in inferences of this nature; both the effect and cause must bear a similarity and resemblance to other effects and causes, which we know, and which we have found, in many instances, to be conjoined with each other. I leave it to your own reflection to pursue the consequences of this principle. I shall just observe, that, as the antagonists of Epicurus always suppose the universe, an effect quite singular and unparalleled, to be the proof of a Deity, a cause no less singular and unparalleled; your reasonings, upon that supposition, seem, at least, to merit our attention. There is, I own, some difficulty, how we can ever return from the cause to the effect, and, reasoning from our ideas of the former, infer any alteration on the latter, or any addition to it.

      As a good empiricist, I hold that our knowledge of causes and effects is derived entirely from experience. There is, I would argue, no basis for making any inferences regarding cause and effect without the assistance of observation and experience. It is only on the basis of experience — specifically, experience of the constant conjunction of two events (or objects) — that we correctly infer the former from the latter and vice-versa. When two sorts of objects have always been observed conjoined together, custom leads one to infer the existence of an object of the one sort whenever one stumbles upon an object of the other sort. This is, I contend, our basis for making causal inferences. A consequence is that we lack a basis for addressing questions regarding the existence of the universe. The universe is, as Hume noted, “an effect quite singular ad unparalleled.” The same is true of the cause: a timeless, spaceless cause is singular and wholly unparalleled. “If experience and observation and analogy be, indeed, the only guides which we can reasonably follow in inferences of this nature,” then it seems to me that we can make no conjectures regarding the cause of the universe; indeed, we cannot even justly claim that there is a cause of the universe. The universe is not some effect that we have experienced to follow after some preceding event. We have no experience of any other universes or their relations to their causes. If we follow Hume in holding that it is not possible to inspect an entity’s perceptible properties to arrive at conclusions about its causes or effects, it simply isn’t possible to inspect the universe’s features to discover features in it that reveal the cause that it must have sprang from. Thus, it seems to me that one ought to suspend judgment on the question concerning why the universe exists or what caused the universe to exist if anything. Such questions go beyond our very narrow epistemic limits. As Hume observed:

      The imagination of man is naturally sublime, delighted with whatever is remote and extraordinary, and running, without control, into the most distant parts of space and time in order to avoid the objects, which custom has rendered too familiar to it. A correct judgement observes a contrary method, and avoiding all distant and high inquiries, confines itself to common life, and to such subjects as fall under daily practice and experience; leaving the more sublime topics to the embellishment of poets and orators, or to the arts of priests and politicians.

      It seems to me that an agnosticism that acknowledges that our inquiries cannot be extended beyond common life, and thus, finds it reasonable to suspend judgment regarding the ultimate origins of the cosmos or what, if anything, lies beyond it, is the correct response to the universe as we find ourselves in it, though I would hardly fault anyone for freely speculating about what may or may not lie beyond our universe. I would simply note that such speculations are aided by the “wings of imagination.” I am sympathetic with William James’ view that certain questions are of such existential importance that certain answers are permissible even if one cannot adduce any evidence supporting such an answer, and thus, have no qualms with people who believe that there is a creative agency that is behind the universe even if I cannot personally bring myself to believe such a thing.

      1. “I hold that our knowledge of causes and effects is derived entirely from experience. There is, I would argue, no basis for making any inferences regarding cause and effect without the assistance of observation and experience.”

        How do you know your observations and experiences are trustworthy? Do you invoke agnosticism only on the subject of “God” or are you equally doubtful of your capacity to know things about nature?

      2. 雨Jacob雨

        If you are interested in Hume’s response to the issue of the reliability of sense-perception, I would recommend reading Part IV, Section II of his Treatise. I would agree with Hume that our conviction regarding the reliability of sense-perception is not based on on reasoning or any process of the understanding. On a skeptical interpretation of Hume — one that is rather out of fashion in Hume scholarship — it is this conclusion that is supposed to lead us to skeptical conclusions. However, there is another interpretation of Hume — the naturalist interpretation of Hume — which interprets Hume as showing what the basis for our belief in, say, external bodies or inductive inferences, isn’t based on — again, a process of the understanding — only to show (and vindicate) its true basis, which is the passions. For a reading of this sort, I would recommend reading Simon Blackburn’s Essays in Quasi-Realism, particularly the essay “Hume and Thick Connections.” The outline I sketched above regarding our basis for causal inferences — the view that causal judgement is based upon our observations of constant conjunctions which produce association, inference, and an impression of necessary connection — does not seem to me to yield skeptical conclusions about daily practice and experience. Indeed, it seems to vindicate such judgments, though it, of course, places certain limits on the judgments we ought and ought not to be confident in, judgments quite distant from common life being called into question which, to me, doesn’t seem particularly problematic. The reason, of course, is that, to quote from Hume, “our reasonings concerning matter of fact are founded on a species of analogy, which leads us to expect from any cause the same events, which we have observed to result from similar causes.”

        As for the human capacity to know things about nature, I don’t think there is any particular problems I would have affirming that humans can know things about nature. This isn’t disputed by empiricists. What empiricists dispute is how we come to know these things. When it comes to matters of fact, the empiricist is going to maintain that such knowledge derives from present perception, memory, and our causal reasoning in accordance with certain principles of which I have outlined above and briefly restated. Such things cannot be known through the mere operation of thought, independent of experience, as though they were mathematics or logic.

      3. “I would agree with Hume that our conviction regarding the reliability of sense-perception is not based on reasoning or any process of the understanding.”

        I would agree as well. We trust that our senses are reliable. It’s the same with our ability to reason. While it may be true that a specific cause cannot be inferred from an effect unless we have a pattern of similar cause and effects to which we can refer, it doesn’t follow that we must hold an agnostic position on whether or not the universe itself has a cause. And just as we can infer intelligence from arrowheads found in fields, we can infer intelligence from molecular machinery inside living cells.

  4. The minute anything is separated from god, be it a table or a human being, the god ceases to be a god and is merely another being. A super-being, perhaps, but one nevertheless. If a credible god is to be postulated, it must be in and of everything, and not only aware of but controlling everything – the latter being the crux of the matter. No god means a completely random and mechanical universe based on sets of chemical reactions; a god puts forward some direction, drive and purpose.

    1. But surely nothing is seperated from God. If God created everything from himself then All is a part of him, if God created everything from Nothing then All exists as a part of his memory or mind and is therefore part of him

      1. If one postulates a god, then that is exactly right. All must be a part of that god. Where that leaves the devil is a problem, as well as all the ranting about people ‘leaving’ or ‘going back’ to god. Are humans, too, gods?
        If matter was created from no-matter, then something had to exist before matter to do it, so the concept of god-as-spirit or mind has to be slotted in. Or it is back to square one with the creation of god being a ‘spontaneous’ occurrence?

      2. That leaves the DEVIL and his sperm GERM-Warfare creations an ALIEN to all his God KIN.
        Don’t think that there hasn’t been a BATTLE, to the Death, between the only Surviving SON GOD and the Disease Riddled Prodigal Son.
        So, with an ALMIGHTY ‘BANG’ the first COSMIC Wormhole was Forged.
        (Let There Be Light!)
        It was an escape route from the biggest Blackhole that ever existed, known as HELL’S ABYSS.
        Only HELL’S icy little core called Pluto, also known as Hades, remains of Satan’s supernova HOME.
        It was a New beginning for murdered SOULS’ Traumatized MINDS, called GENESIS, through Darwinian Apes.
        Rage can’t win, so, Hopefully, Lots of Love & CURES CAN.
        Sibyl X

      3. Science fiction holds nuggets of truth.
        Weird and wonderful reality, with affinity’s magic spell,
        creates a colour schemed picture, our senses know so well . . .
        AND
        The weaver of the World Wide Web of Life,
        who spins folk yarns with coded textures bright
        that were meant through touch, sight, smell and sound
        to connect the fibres to our senses, now profound
        had to cut His own Clotho to suit His lost Kin
        so that those in touch with the Spirits could begin
        to redress each seem of laddered needling dread
        by picking up dropped chain-links and following life’s thread.
        So, goodbye atrophy, Lachesis’ Destinies have begun,
        on behalf of Atropos’s Superhero, COSMIC SUPERMAN –
        JOHN EMMANUEL ZEUS known as JEZEUS.
        Lots of Love and Understanding, bewildered Brother
        From A Modern-day Sibyl on Life Sciences’ Revelations.

      4. Oh! And a lot can be gleaned from a person’s writing, no matter what their personal beliefs and experiences’ responses are. They are entitled to them.
        If present, the devil can always be found in the detail, like threats & damnation if one doesn’t follow another’s Miserable, Narrow-minded Dogma, or murderous Ideology.
        And bullying, egotistical tactics, to subjugate the perceived deluded Theists, Atheists, or the Religious Faithful, doesn’t contribute to conversations’ Enlightenment, does it.
        I think the Religious Faithful prefer to stay out of it anyway.
        I’m usually greeted with SILENCE.
        I get nuances, innuendoes and have a sense of the ridiculous. I kid you not.
        Sibyl X

      5. Yes. Ultimately, everything in nature must be a part of God in the sense that God is the source of all “reality”.

        Then we’re left to ponder our own consciousness. That too, came from God. So how is it that we are not omniscient? The mind of God must be capable of parceling out its knowledge in little human-sized bits. Perhaps (if consciousness isn’t merely a chemical illusion) God has somehow allowed that tiny piece of Himself to become sentient and refer to itself as “me”.

      6. I hope you don’t mind me butting in.
        It’s just that at the moment our brains & minds are not advance enough to be omniscient, so we’re called omni-escent, meaning, beginning to be.
        The mind of GOD is parceling out it’s knowledge, just like a jigsaw puzzle, we have to put all the pieces together. Science is supposed to complete the picture but they prefer to believe it’s aliens.
        Sibyl X

  5. A Benevolent GOD Father’s Biblical Son was a SUPER-BEING, wasn’t He?
    It’s hard to prove heretical immortality, as a mortal, bio-gradable DNA, Bio-Logical humane being, isn’t it?
    I’m baffled as to why Scientists find it easier to refer to higher Intelligent Cosmic Beings as aliens and not Celestrial Deity. Are they our alien adversaries or are we theirs? Neither!
    Anyway, were did the word god/God/GOD come from?
    It’s been with us, world-wide, a lot longer than you can imagine.
    ”In the beginning was the word”. And I know for a fact that that is True.
    And, the Omni-Potent, Omni-Present Cosmos’s sparky static electricity is the air that we breath.
    HE was relying on Science to prove it.

    Sibyl X

  6. Whlst I accrept that you have a God given right to be an Atheist (and I to be a sarcastic bugger!) I am not sure that you have a Humanist given right to be a buffoon. Your Argument is specious and your conclusion is inconsistent with the central tenets of your Argument.
    Any half decent philosopher, scientst or theologian could drive a coach and horses through your words (and indeed many of these people have done so over the past decades…centuries…millenia…
    Go back and read Psalm 40 in a Humanist/Atherst light and try again…
    Hi Ken, that applies to you too!

  7. I see the problem as quite a bit worse.
    Motivation is circumstantial.
    If god was motivated to create – which seems to be a definitive part of what we mean when we say ‘creation’ – then God was subject to circumstance, which is inconsistent with a few classical attributes of God.
    I don’t see how you fix that, unless you start equivocating, i.e. God Created, but he didn’t create – create. He was(?) Motivated, but not motivated like we would be.
    He’s atemporal, non-contingent, etc. but not in the common sense of those words, just in the sense which allows me to use those words consistently in my arguments.

  8. Pingback: About the Cosmological argument for proving that there is a Creative Deity – Jeshuaist

  9. “I would agree with Hume that our conviction regarding the reliability of sense-perception is not based on reasoning or any process of the understanding.”

    I would agree as well. We trust that our senses are reliable. It’s the same with our ability to reason. While it may be true that a specific cause cannot be inferred from an effect unless we have a pattern of similar cause and effects to which we can refer, it doesn’t follow that we must hold an agnostic position on whether or not the universe itself has a cause. And just as we can infer intelligence from arrowheads found in fields, we can infer intelligence from molecular machinery inside living cells.

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