Friday, August 12, 2011

Your god is impossible




2:39 am

Avo, 77:

You have said that if the being is not logically impossible, it will be actual.

Can you explain that?

I am discussing necessary beings here; as opposed to impossible ones, which are by definition non-beings.

If you do the match exercise — and all of us should do it to give us a common empirical/ observational base, you will see how a flame is a contingent being. (Notice how the objectors tip-toe around this case study? That should tell you something.)

The flame depends for its existence on three necessary causal factors, that together happen to be sufficient: fuel [i.e. inclusive of the required chain reaction], oxidiser, heat. (Even, spontaneous combustion, as I clipped Wiki above on.)

We thus see —

here we are looking at the logic of cause [and no prizes for guessing why, under present political correctness, we have not been taught this in Science 101 courses! This stuff is red-hot, and most unwelcome or even utterly confusing and controversial in very powerful quarters! (There is such a thing as induced incomprehensibility, when one is committed to a system that blocks ability to see what would otherwise be obvious.)] . . .

— how a contingent being depends on an external, necessary causal factor, so that it can be “switched on” or “switched off.”

This is the root of the saying that if something begins or can cease from being it has a cause. ["Cause" is the label, causation is the reality. And the good old burning match case is an apt illustration that allows us to break through some heavy-duty mental blocks, if we are willing. remember the old stories of those who refused to look through Galileo's telescope and see for themselves? Guess why several people over the past week or so have apparently refused to do the match exercise, and certainly will not discuss it . . . ]

It is also the root of the point that once we see this possibility and reality of necessary causes, we can realise that things that begin are not a-causal. (Hence, too. my repeated remarks above that typical quantum phenomena — contrary to a lot of sloppy discussions from surprising sources — are not a-causal.)

There are two other possibilities: necessary beings, and impossible beings.

An impossible being is one whose existence would be self contradictory, like a circle square. Being circular implies NOT being square, and the converse, so such a being is not possible, it cannot exist.

Now the third logical possibility is a being that is both logically possible and has in it no external, necessary causal factors. Such a being would have no beginning, and as there is nothing to switch it off, is also without an end of being.

The truth in the expression 2 + 3 = 5 is an example [you should see Russell in the famous debate with Fr Copeleston hasten to wall off this type of case before trying to argue for actual infinite regresses -- astonishing!], just to illustrate the existence of such a being. This truth was always so, and will always be so, on pain of reduction to absurdity.

Now, you will note that it is being argued that if a necessary being is possible, it is actual. That is, such a being is being contrasted to IMPOSSIBLE beings. Impossible beings, of course are not actual.

Here is Maverick Philosopher, who has spoken aptly:

Nicolai Hartmann, Moeglichkeit und Wirklichkeit, p. 29 . . . Hartmann is saying in effect that everything contingent is actual, and that the contingent and the necessary are polar opposites: what is contingent is not necessary, and what is not necessary is contingent.

I beg to differ. First of all, not everything contingent is actual. My being asleep now and my being awake (= not asleep) now are both possible states of affairs. The second is actual, the first is not. But both are contingent. So not everything contingent is actual. The imagery of possible worlds ought to make this graphic for the modally challenged. A contingent state of affairs is one that obtains in some but not all possible worlds. Now my being asleep now obtains in some but not all possible worlds. Therefore, my being asleep now is contingent though not actual. So not everything contingent is actual.

Second, it is not the case that x is contingent if and only if x is not necessary. For there are states of affairs that are not necessary but also not contingent. My being both awake and not awake now is an impossible state of affairs. It is neither necessary nor contingent. Not necessary, because it does not obtain in every possible world. Not contingent, because it it does not obtain in some (but not all) possible worlds.

The polar opposite of the contingent is not the necessary but the the noncontingent. The noncontingent embraces both the the necessary and the impossible, that which exists/obtains in all worlds, and that which exists/obtains in no world.

Reality, then, is modally tripartite:

The necessary: that which exists/obtains in all possible worlds. The contingent: that which exists/obtains in some but not all possible worlds. The impossible: that which exists/obtains in no possible world.

You say you are uncomfortable with the patois of possible worlds? The distinctions can be sliced without this jargon. The necessary is that which cannot not be. The contingent is that which is possible to be and possible not to be. The impossible is that which cannot be.

And that’s all she wrote, modally speaking.

Are we just playing with idle abstract concepts here? So, the question of mere ivory tower circularity arises?


For, to bring out the way existence of a candidate necessary being that is not an impossibility is implicated as actual, let us deal with the key case in view.

We live in a world where there is something, not nothing. An observed cosmos that by common consent on the results of science since the 1920′s – 60′s, is seen as contingent, i.e. it had a beginning.

Did it come from an infinite regress?

No, as it is impossible to stepwise traverse such a regress, and reach to now. [Just as you cannot count up 1, 2, 3 . . . infinity-1, infinity, no more, you cannot count down from minus-infinity to zero.] Besides, such a cosmos would have already reached heat death by which the energy concentrations that lead to gradients that drive change, including life, would have dissipated.

Did something come from nothing?

No, as something will not come from a REAL nothing. No matter, space, energy, time, laws of reality, mind, etc. If there was nothing to begin with, there would be nothing to follow.

Something ultimately had to be there and had to be always there, for there to be a world in which we can live today. The question is not if there was a beginningless entity, but what it is. And, by the force of the logic, such an entity is one without causal dependence on an external necessary factor — there is no on/off switch for it, it is always “on,” in any actual or possible world.

We already saw that for something like the truth being expressed in our symbols string: 2 + 3 = 5. Where also 2 + 2 = 5 is an impossible being.

So, strange as it seems to us, we have tow modes of actual existence: that which is contingent, dependent on at least one on/off condition, and that which is necessary, that which has no on/off switch. Impossible beings, like circle squares [contrary to that old TV programme!], simply are not actual.

Is the observed universe the necessary being? Nope, as it is contingent.

So, then, what is?

A multiverse? By common presentations, such would be a cluster of the contingent, distributed by chance to form a population of actual worlds, a set of sub universes that are this way or that, with distributed parameters and laws — with us as a happy chance outcome. Oops, the sub cosmi are then contingent, we need the “bakery” to cook them up. So, something lies aback such a speculative — there is a want of empirical data — suggested world.

That leads to the need for a cosmos bakery that can cook up such fine-tuned for life sub-cosmi as we represent. In Collins’ words:

Suppose we went on a mission to Mars, and found a domed structure in which everything was set up just right for life to exist. The temperature, for example, was set around 70 °F and the humidity was at 50%; moreover, there was an oxygen recycling system, an energy gathering system, and a whole system for the production of food. Put simply, the domed structure appeared to be a fully functioning biosphere. What conclusion would we draw from finding this structure? Would we draw the conclusion that it just happened to form by chance? Certainly not. Instead, we would unanimously conclude that it was designed by some intelligent being. Why would we draw this conclusion? Because an intelligent designer appears to be the only plausible explanation for the existence of the structure. That is, the only alternative explanation we can think of–that the structure was formed by some natural process–seems extremely unlikely. Of course, it is possible that, for example, through some volcanic eruption various metals and other compounds could have formed, and then separated out in just the right way to produce the “biosphere,” but such a scenario strikes us as extraordinarily unlikely, thus making this alternative explanation unbelievable.

The universe is analogous to such a “biosphere,” according to recent findings in physics . . . . Scientists call this extraordinary balancing of the parameters of physics and the initial conditions of the universe the “fine-tuning of the cosmos” . . . For example, theoretical physicist and popular science writer Paul Davies–whose early writings were not particularly sympathetic to theism–claims that with regard to basic structure of the universe, “the impression of design is overwhelming” (Davies, 1988, p. 203) . . .

So, we are back to a cosmos-bakery, the issue has been pushed back one step by the multiverse, not eliminated.

Do we have a bakery that somehow was just there and could not have been otherwise?

Or, are we looking at a cosmic architect who set up the bakery, and who would be the candidate necessary being of relevance?

[And, nope, I am NOT making the inference that this is God, though the theistic view is an obvious presentation of this idea.]

Now, could the cosmic architect be a platonic demiurge? Well, that demiurge found the forms in being and found formless chaotic matter to be shaped on the forms, however imperfectly. Nope, we are not there yet.

H’mm, try out ying-yang, a duality of opposed forms. Or even a quarrelling pantheon. that indeed gets us to the diversity, but it has a big hole in the middle: how then do we find a unity?

We need a unified, necessary being capable of explaining a fine tuned cosmos such as we inhabit, or at least the bakery that cooks up such sub-cosmi. Such a being is powerful, intelligent, purposeful, knowledgeable, skilled and creative.

Thus, self-moved and ensouled, in Plato’s terms. Living, though prior to biological life.

You may propose other candidates as you will, but you will understand why theists see this as a case where cosmology, once it established a beginning, and once it has shown just how credibly fine-tuned the cosmos is for life, points to a unified, necessary, intelligent, purposeful, creative being. (And BTW, Christian theists, see the required unity as also embracing diversity! That gets us into another worldviews debate on explaining the one and the many.)

That now old story about astrophysicists rushing out from their observatories to get baptised and join the First Church of God, big bang was not simply a joke. Like all great jokes, it has a bite of reality to it.

Nope, the matter is not a confession of guilt on the charge of being a theist, but the context of the results of the science. The science came first, reluctantly, and the inference that God is now on the table as a very viable reality indeed, came after.

(And, notice, we are here underscoring that biological ID issues do not implicate design of life by a creator within or beyond the world, i.e. we have a that tweredun case on this, not a whodunit case. Of course, even through “assistants,” the setting up of a fine tuned cosmos in which such life is facilitated, points to ultimate cause in the necessary being behind the cosmos.)

Okay, I hope that helps us all see why modes of being boil down to being exhausted by the contingent and the necessary, impossibility being a non-mode.



To use some of gordy's own words (directed back at him):

"it is now clear that you are in an unnecessary web of self defeating word games".

gordo, you sure do like to play word games, but there's nothing to support your ID claims or your god claims. Everything you ever say is just gibberish. Your god is impossible. It's impossible because the acts attributed to it in the bible are impossible. It is and always has been impossible for someone to live for several hundred years. It's impossible for snakes to talk. It's impossible for a woman to be created from the rib of a man. It's impossible for your imaginary god to turn someone into a pillar of salt. The so-called 'noah's flood' was and is impossible, for various reasons. It's impossible for people to rise after being dead for days. It was and is impossible to put two of every animal on a boat, and keep them alive for a long time. It's impossible to "part" a sea, as described in your bible. It's impossible for a man to live inside a whale, etc., etc., etc.

The bible is the supporting book for your chosen god. The bible is full of lies, contradictions, and impossible fairy tales. None of the gods people have conjured up are possible, including yours, the christian god. A god is only as viable or possible as its supporting evidence, and there's NO evidence that your god exists or has ever existed. Your chosen god, like all other proposed gods, is based on ridiculous, impossible fantasies. Your chosen god is impossible.

Something that's really funny is that you IDiots are always saying that your ID beliefs are based on "empirical observation" or "empirical evidence", and what we humans experience. Well then, have you ever empirically observed or experienced a 900 year old human, or a man living inside a whale, or a sea being parted, or a woman being created from the rib of a man, or a talking snake, or someone rising after being dead for days, or someone being turned into a pillar of salt, or a worldwide flood with one boat floating around with two of every animal on Earth on board, plus all the food it would take to keep them alive?

That crap sure doesn't fit with any of my empirical observations or experience.

You insane religious zombies believe in some of the most crazy shit imaginable, yet you actually expect sane people to take you seriously.