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  #46  
Old Sep 7, '10, 1:24 am
R Daneel R Daneel is offline
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

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Originally Posted by awatkins69 View Post
Very good. However, it seems that you were asserting earlier that the concept of non-physical existence and non-conceptual existence is meaningless or impossible. It also seems like you asserted that causality that is not amongst physical objects is meaningless or impossible. No? Re: "you must prove this existence". Isn't this what arguments for God purport to do? If you don't assert that p-existence and c-existence is all there is, then what's the problem? Do you need an example?
Oh, yes, examples would be most welcome. What I said, might have been misunderstood. For me as an atheist, these concepts are meaningless. But it is the reason for this thread to hear arguments to show that my assessment is incorrect, and indeed to posit the "X-existence" is meaningful.

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Originally Posted by awatkins69 View Post
Also, have you ever read the argument of Saint Thomas Aquinas' "De Ente et Essentia" or Bill Vallicella's argument "From Facts to God"? If so, what are the main problems you find with these arguments? Thanks.
No, not the books themselves. I read all the arguments for God, most definitely the "famous" 5 proofs of Aquinas. They are not convincing at all. Actually, they have been refuted many times, and even Aquinas himself did not consider them as "proofs" which would present a compelling argument for the unbelievers.
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  #47  
Old Sep 7, '10, 1:37 am
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

Hi. An example of immaterial causation would be the creation of the universe if you hold to an A-Theory of time (on a side note, an A-theory of time means that time before the universe is not meaningless at all, and the KCA works) or the continual existence of anything composed of essence and existence if you hold to a B-Theory.

While I think Aquinas' five ways work, and are ofttimes misunderstood, we can throw them completely aside if you want. I'm talking about the argument from "De Ente et Essentia". It's not necessary to subscribe to an A-Theory of time. Aquinas even believed that the universe could be eternal. If you are interested in reading about it, I'd suggest reading it with commentary by Gyula Klima. The argument from De Ente, however, is probably going to be too scholastic for your tastes, but if you ever get a chance to read on it please let me know if you think there is faulty reasoning somewhere.

Probably more appealing to your analytic sensibilities would be Bill Vallicella's argument "From Facts to God". It's what he calls an "onto-cosmological argument". It's certainly much too long and complicated for me to do it any justice at all. While I'm sorry that I can't provide a link, I would be happy to send you a .pdf file. Let me know in a private message.
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  #48  
Old Sep 7, '10, 3:31 am
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Anselm33 Anselm33 is offline
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

[quote=R Daneel;7036268][font="Verdana"]
Quote:
I looked. It is a blog. Which part of it is the purported "proof"? Or is it the book he wrote? A short quote from the blog
:Only Creation and the anthropic coincidences are discussed in the blog. These aren't proofs. Science doesn't give "proofs", but as an empirical discipline only signs. The "First Cause" proof (and the finite span of time) are discussed in the book. Nevertheless, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem gives evidence for a finite time span in all physically reasonable types of Universes (including multiverses) and therefore evidence for a beginning. This item is discussed in the "Fact Sheet" on the site. See
http://www.magisreasonfaith.org/Magis_FactSheet.pdf
Scroll down. There is also evidence from Second Law considerations for a finite time, and therefore for a beginning... Here science trumps mathematics
Quote:
Let me put it in reverse: If one believes that there is significant evidence for a beginning of the universe then one is confronted with the question, ďwhat was the universe before the beginning?Ē If the beginning is truly a point at which the universe came into existence then one is confronted by the fact that prior to the beginning, the whole physical universe was nothing
.
Your question was addressed by Aristotle, St. Augustine and Aquinas (among others). Both Aristotle and St. Thomas made the distinction between cause, as preceding in a temporal sequence, and cause as a reason for being. You can have cause which is not prior in a temporal sequence. However, if you do not put credence in infinite regress, then, as you said, and as many cosmologists, philosophers and theologians say, there was NOTHING. (Hard to grasp, but no harder for my thinking than infinite regress.)

Last edited by Anselm33; Sep 7, '10 at 3:41 am.
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  #49  
Old Sep 7, '10, 5:25 am
DPMartin DPMartin is offline
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

R Daneel

thank for the reply


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Originally Posted by R Daneel View Post
Well, this argument definitely avoids the mentioned fallacies. The trouble is that you view "life" as something that needs some "non-physical" justification for its existence. Life is notoriously hard to define. The best definition is "life is complex responses to complex stimuli". But there is no clearcut line between the "living" and "inanimate" objects. Some biologists consider viruses as "living organisms", others do not. Crystallic structures have some properties, we usually consider as properties of "living" organisms - namely they grow, and "consume" external material into themselves. Yet, we do not consider chrystals to be "living organisms". The truth is that the line between "living" and "inanimate" organisms is simply a matter of more of less subjective choice.

I would disagree with that my friend, life does not need no justification by man nor science in order to be alive. The act of will to sustain presence in the physical, need no justification nor definition in order to be an act of will. For without the presence of life in the physical there would be no need for definition in the first place, and definition serves the judgement of the definer, not the act of living. Physical is what it is, but the act of will to sustain presence therein is not of the physical. For the physical is, whether there be presence of life therein or not. Therefore the physical need not seek to be, nor sustain itself.

The dove need not prove that he is in the physical, he merely acts according to the necessity to sustain that which he is in the physical. And therein is the proof of life in the physical. The act of will to live is not of the physical, the presence of life uses what it has in the physical to sustain itís presence of what it is therein.



Quote:
I do not agree that there is any sign of "design" when I look at "life". As a matter of fact, when you look at living creatures, you can see very "useful" properties which a good designer would incorporate into many species. And we can see horribly misguided features, too, which no good designer would incorporate into its "handwork". I don't think there is a need to go into details about these.

Well my friend it is interesting that life does not meet your satisfaction, considering your not the one who has given life, nor the means to live to anything. Not even yourself. You would be a liar if you say you need not do, what is necessary to sustain your presence in the physical. And you well know, the physical is there whether you are present therein or not. Therefore life is not of the physical, or the physical would act of itís own will without the presence of life therein.

Life anticipates, the physical only responds to that which it is in the presence of.
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  #50  
Old Sep 7, '10, 8:30 am
R Daneel R Daneel is offline
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

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Hi. An example of immaterial causation would be the creation of the universe if you hold to an A-Theory of time (on a side note, an A-theory of time means that time before the universe is not meaningless at all, and the KCA works) or the continual existence of anything composed of essence and existence if you hold to a B-Theory.

While I think Aquinas' five ways work, and are ofttimes misunderstood, we can throw them completely aside if you want. I'm talking about the argument from "De Ente et Essentia". It's not necessary to subscribe to an A-Theory of time. Aquinas even believed that the universe could be eternal. If you are interested in reading about it, I'd suggest reading it with commentary by Gyula Klima. The argument from De Ente, however, is probably going to be too scholastic for your tastes, but if you ever get a chance to read on it please let me know if you think there is faulty reasoning somewhere.

Probably more appealing to your analytic sensibilities would be Bill Vallicella's argument "From Facts to God". It's what he calls an "onto-cosmological argument". It's certainly much too long and complicated for me to do it any justice at all. While I'm sorry that I can't provide a link, I would be happy to send you a .pdf file. Let me know in a private message.
Well, you sure said a lot in scuh a short post. I followed your link and went to the Stanford Encyclopedia, too. A few thoughts for the time being.

About "time". Newton's worldview postulated an absolute space and absolute time, and in this framework the fully deterministic universe "traveled" from the past to the immutable future. This view was abandoned when Einstien presented his theory of relativity. According to this view, space and time are not independent variables, they are contingent upon the mass of the objects. Einstein himself refused to accept quantum mechanics, and the view that the Universe is not deterministic.

But the fact remains, the old Newtonian view is now obsolete. The concept of time is tied to the physical universe. Now, some philosophers may have problem with this, but that is their problem. As far as I am concerned, "time" is simply a variable in some equations. As long as the equations work, and we can make predictions based upon them I could not care less, what those equations "mean". This may sound strange, but it is not. We are unable to "visualize" many things. Quantum mechanics is one of them. The equations have many "interpretations" and all of them have "troubles" in some respect.

Metaphysics can have two ways. It may be congruent with physics, and in this case it is not relevant. Or it may contradict physics, in which case it is sheer speculation. There is an old saying: "shut up and calculate". If it can be calculated, it is useful, even if its cannot be visualized.

I also went to your posted link, and by looking at the title, I got discouraged. I will explain why. It started by the concepts of "being and essence". I simply do not accept this way of approach. I find it meaningless to talk about some abstract "essence". Some philosophers talk about "necessary" and "contingent" existence, as a valid dichotomy. Some others talk about "abstract objects", which "exist" independently from our concepts of them.

I do not accept any of these approaches. I stand on a simple ground. Physical existence, which is objective, and conceptual existence as a reflection of of the physical existence. Conceptual existence can extend beyond that, and can incorporate other "things", which only exist in our imagination, which do not have a physical counterpart. Physical existence is active, it changes, it effects other things. Conceptual existence is "inert", the concept of 2 hydrogen molecules and the concept of one oxygen molecule will not combine into one water molecule. If you, or anyone else can start from this standpoint, and can reach a valid conclusion, which must be accepted on either physical or logical grounds, if you can substantiate that a non-physical, yet active way of existence is meaningful, then we can reach a great understanding. But, please, don't bring up ancient philosophers, with their exotic vocabulary, which need a special dictionary to even understand the meaning of their terms. Use your own undertsanding, use your own words.

I see that such an approach will make it hard to even start a conversation. Too bad, but it cannot be helped.
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  #51  
Old Sep 7, '10, 8:42 am
R Daneel R Daneel is offline
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

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Scroll down. There is also evidence from Second Law considerations for a finite time, and therefore for a beginning...
Well, I did. I found another example of the fallacy of the stolen concept. The "second law of thermodynamics" is only applicable to isolated (or closed) and finite systems. It is not applicable to the Universe. Besides, the second law is a stochastic one. It does not prevent local fluctations when entropy decreases. So, it is not much of an argument.

Also the Big Bang can only be taken as the beginning of the current form for the Universe. Our physics does not allow us to "peek" into the singularity.
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  #52  
Old Sep 7, '10, 8:44 am
R Daneel R Daneel is offline
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I would disagree with that my friend, life does not need no justification by man nor science in order to be alive. The act of will to sustain presence in the physical, need no justification nor definition in order to be an act of will. For without the presence of life in the physical there would be no need for definition in the first place, and definition serves the judgement of the definer, not the act of living. Physical is what it is, but the act of will to sustain presence therein is not of the physical. For the physical is, whether there be presence of life therein or not. Therefore the physical need not seek to be, nor sustain itself.

The dove need not prove that he is in the physical, he merely acts according to the necessity to sustain that which he is in the physical. And therein is the proof of life in the physical. The act of will to live is not of the physical, the presence of life uses what it has in the physical to sustain itís presence of what it is therein.

Well my friend it is interesting that life does not meet your satisfaction, considering your not the one who has given life, nor the means to live to anything. Not even yourself. You would be a liar if you say you need not do, what is necessary to sustain your presence in the physical. And you well know, the physical is there whether you are present therein or not. Therefore life is not of the physical, or the physical would act of itís own will without the presence of life therein.

Life anticipates, the physical only responds to that which it is in the presence of.
I am very sorry, but I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
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  #53  
Old Sep 7, '10, 10:49 am
R Daneel R Daneel is offline
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

OK. I am about to leave for a nice 6-days long vacation to celebrate our 30th anniversary. So please do not think I am neglecting this thread and your input. See you next week...
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  #54  
Old Sep 7, '10, 1:31 pm
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

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Well, you sure said a lot in scuh a short post. I followed your link and went to the Stanford Encyclopedia, too. A few thoughts for the time being.

About "time". Newton's worldview postulated an absolute space and absolute time, and in this framework the fully deterministic universe "traveled" from the past to the immutable future. This view was abandoned when Einstien presented his theory of relativity. According to this view, space and time are not independent variables, they are contingent upon the mass of the objects. Einstein himself refused to accept quantum mechanics, and the view that the Universe is not deterministic.

But the fact remains, the old Newtonian view is now obsolete. The concept of time is tied to the physical universe. Now, some philosophers may have problem with this, but that is their problem. As far as I am concerned, "time" is simply a variable in some equations. As long as the equations work, and we can make predictions based upon them I could not care less, what those equations "mean". This may sound strange, but it is not. We are unable to "visualize" many things. Quantum mechanics is one of them. The equations have many "interpretations" and all of them have "troubles" in some respect.

Metaphysics can have two ways. It may be congruent with physics, and in this case it is not relevant. Or it may contradict physics, in which case it is sheer speculation. There is an old saying: "shut up and calculate". If it can be calculated, it is useful, even if its cannot be visualized.

I also went to your posted link, and by looking at the title, I got discouraged. I will explain why. It started by the concepts of "being and essence". I simply do not accept this way of approach. I find it meaningless to talk about some abstract "essence". Some philosophers talk about "necessary" and "contingent" existence, as a valid dichotomy. Some others talk about "abstract objects", which "exist" independently from our concepts of them.

I do not accept any of these approaches. I stand on a simple ground. Physical existence, which is objective, and conceptual existence as a reflection of of the physical existence. Conceptual existence can extend beyond that, and can incorporate other "things", which only exist in our imagination, which do not have a physical counterpart. Physical existence is active, it changes, it effects other things. Conceptual existence is "inert", the concept of 2 hydrogen molecules and the concept of one oxygen molecule will not combine into one water molecule. If you, or anyone else can start from this standpoint, and can reach a valid conclusion, which must be accepted on either physical or logical grounds, if you can substantiate that a non-physical, yet active way of existence is meaningful, then we can reach a great understanding. But, please, don't bring up ancient philosophers, with their exotic vocabulary, which need a special dictionary to even understand the meaning of their terms. Use your own undertsanding, use your own words.

I see that such an approach will make it hard to even start a conversation. Too bad, but it cannot be helped.
I do agree that Newton's theory of absolute time is wrong. I agree completely. I disagree with your simply ignoring what time actually means. I also disagree with your characterization of quantum mechanics as unintelligible. However, let's forget about it. I just won't argue for the Kalaam. If you want we can even say for fun that time does not exist. Aquinas' and Vallicella's arguments do not depend on conceding the existence of time at all that. All we have to do is agree about either objects existing (Aquinas), or facts being true (Vallicella).

While I don't have time myself I certainly think it is incorrect to simply give up. Aquinas does not just assert the distinction. He expounds on it. In fact, the majority of that treatise is about building up the foundations so to speak of his proof in part 4. Got to go, but have fun while you're gone. Also, PM me for Vallicella.
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  #55  
Old Sep 7, '10, 1:52 pm
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

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Well, I did. I found another example of the fallacy of the stolen concept. The "second law of thermodynamics" is only applicable to isolated (or closed) and finite systems. It is not applicable to the Universe. Besides, the second law is a stochastic one. It does not prevent local fluctations when entropy decreases. So, it is not much of an argument.

.
speaking as a physicist, who knows something about thermo, I'll tell you your argument about the Second Law is incorrect. By the way, how do you know the Universe, at the time of the "Big Bang" was infinite? I don't think many people would agree with you on that. And whether the Second Law is stochastic is irrelevant. Fluctuations don't last 13 billion years. Also, I don't believe the majority of cosmologists and physicists would agree with your judgment that bringing in the 2nd Law is "not much of an argument" (assuming the appeal to authority will be a consideration ). I see it quoted in all sorts of books, and not by theists only.

And the BGV theorem does show that there is a finite time for the existence of the universe (or multiverses), if we believe that realistic systems of physics apply. (The term "realistic" is applied very loosely here). If you want to invoke other types of physical laws for beyond the singularity--that's a metaphysical choice, but there's not much empirical or logical basis to do so. By the way, the singularity may not in fact be a singularity, if one brings in quantum effects (as in the Hartle-Hawkings model), but just a region of beginning in which time as a space-like coordinate changes to time (without the imaginary i in front of it) as a space-time coordinate as we know it now.

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Old Sep 7, '10, 2:06 pm
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

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Metaphysics can have two ways. It may be congruent with physics, and in this case it is not relevant. Or it may contradict physics, in which case it is sheer speculation. There is an old saying: "shut up and calculate". If it can be calculated, it is useful, even if its cannot be visualized.

I would completely disagree here. Quine, Lewis, etc. did metaphysics quite well. I'm familiar with your view, but I think it is antiquated. I'm not trying to be offensive by saying that. Metaphysics can explain things without contradicting physics.

I also went to your posted link, and by looking at the title, I got discouraged. I will explain why. It started by the concepts of "being and essence". I simply do not accept this way of approach. I find it meaningless to talk about some abstract "essence". Some philosophers talk about "necessary" and "contingent" existence, as a valid dichotomy. Some others talk about "abstract objects", which "exist" independently from our concepts of them.

If you think it is meaningless to talk of essence, you will also find it meaningless to talk about definitions. If you find it meaningless to talk of being, then your own physicalist metaphysics is also meaningless. All metaphysics is concerned with explaining the nature of being.

I do not accept any of these approaches. I stand on a simple ground. Physical existence, which is objective, and conceptual existence as a reflection of of the physical existence. Conceptual existence can extend beyond that, and can incorporate other "things", which only exist in our imagination, which do not have a physical counterpart. Physical existence is active, it changes, it effects other things. Conceptual existence is "inert", the concept of 2 hydrogen molecules and the concept of one oxygen molecule will not combine into one water molecule. If you, or anyone else can start from this standpoint, and can reach a valid conclusion, which must be accepted on either physical or logical grounds, if you can substantiate that a non-physical, yet active way of existence is meaningful, then we can reach a great understanding. But, please, don't bring up ancient philosophers, with their exotic vocabulary, which need a special dictionary to even understand the meaning of their terms. Use your own undertsanding, use your own words.

Now, If you have already determined that Aquinas is wrong because he is old, I definitely will not be able to help you. However, if you want to actually understand his argument, read through it. Most of the treatise is devoted to metaphysical foundation. If you think that we cannot do metaphysics period then it will not work (although I will remind you that you are basing your assumptions upon the metaphysics of physicalism). Klima provides modern analytic commentary and terminological explanation. If you have specific objections, let me know. And Vallicella is not ancient at all.

Again, have a good time. We'll be happy to see you when you get back.
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Old Sep 7, '10, 3:30 pm
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

One more quick question. What do you think existence is? I don't mean to ask what types of existence you think there actually are (as in p-existence or c-existence).
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Old Sep 13, '10, 11:17 pm
R Daneel R Daneel is offline
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

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One more quick question. What do you think existence is? I don't mean to ask what types of existence you think there actually are (as in p-existence or c-existence).
Existence cannot be "defined" in the usual sense. To "define" something is to reduce it to something more fundamental, and there is nothing more fundamental than "existence". It can be only defined tautologically. Something "exists" equals to something "is". But that is not very informative. I am not sure what is the point of your question.
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Old Sep 13, '10, 11:42 pm
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I would completely disagree here. Quine, Lewis, etc. did metaphysics quite well. I'm familiar with your view, but I think it is antiquated. I'm not trying to be offensive by saying that. Metaphysics can explain things without contradicting physics.
Give me an example, please. If metaphysics does not contradict physics, then what use is it? What does the "metaphysical" explanation "add" to the physical explanation?

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If you think it is meaningless to talk of essence, you will also find it meaningless to talk about definitions.
You misunderstood me, and it is probably my fault. I am saying that "essence" does not hang "in the air". I don't accept that there is some "essence" in the abstract sense - which is separate from existence and which is separate from the observer.

Let me try to explain. There is "something" - which is physical existence. We experience it in some fashion. We form a mental image of it. We consider some aspects of it as more important than others, based upon our value system, or based upon what we think is important. Every mental image is an abstraction, or a model forming. The "essence" is what we "think" is important. For a child the "essence" of nice red ball is that he can play with it, that its color is pleasing to eye, that its elasticity allows it to bump. For the merchant the "essence" is that it can be sold. Two different viewpoints, two different "essences".


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If you find it meaningless to talk of being, then your own physicalist metaphysics is also meaningless. All metaphysics is concerned with explaining the nature of being.
Yes, I consider metaphysics meaningless and irrelevant - in the sense that it is supposed to "explain" the nature of "things". The only thing that matters (in philosophy) is epistemology. How do we gain information about something? What is the method to collect information? How to separate correct and incorrent deductions from the observations?
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Old Sep 14, '10, 2:07 am
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Default Re: Common fallacies in the proofs of God's existence

Hi R_Daneel. I'll answer your questions, but I'm going to try to get the thread back on subject.

Now, let's look back at your alleged fallacies. You say that we must prove that there is existence other than p or c-existence. However, the definition of existence you just gave in no way limits there being non-physical existence. If you want examples, that's precisely what the theist is trying to provide in his arguments for God's existence.

With regards to p and c-existence, I'd ask you to seriously consider how the intellect, supposedly not independent from matter, could harbor a potential infinite amount of concepts when no amount of matter can harbor a potential infinite amount of anything. I'd also consider how the mind can abstract perfect universals such as triangles, can conceive of perfect triangles, when there is not a single material instance of a perfect triangle. You'd also be very hard-pressed to find a philosopher these days who feels that qualia are examples of p or c-existence. This seems to be an example of existence other than p and c-existence. From what I read, most philosophers of mind (even naturalists like Searle, Kim, Chalmers, and Davidson) these days consider the mind to constitute non-physical existence.

With the fallacy of composition, it is only committed whenever someone argues that all members of a whole thing (A) possess property x, therefore, A possesses x. Nobody argues for the existence of God in this way. Cosmological arguments are applications of causal reasoning (which constitutes a whole other question), not reasoning about a category of things.

As for the "fallacy of the stolen concept": I don't think this is even a real fallacy. It's hard for me to believe that after over 2000 years of logic, all of a sudden this brand new fallacy is going to be stumbled upon by, of all people, Ayn Rand. As I said before, I've never heard of this in a logic textbook ever. Even if I wanted to suppose it were something other than a "made up" fallacy, from what I read on wikipedia your application of it doesn't seem to fit. Causality, existence, time, place, etc. are not in any way limited by logical necessity or definition to relations of p or c-existence.

As for everything else:
You're doing metaphysics more than you think you are my friend. For instance, you propose that if we were to define existence it would be tautological, which is a serious ontological and metaphysical claim. Examples of areas of metaphysics which are not directly dealt with in physics include: free will/determinism, intentionality in mind, identity of objects, their continual identity through time and change, the nature of these objects and the nature of their possession of properties, necessity, causation, the nature of truth in itself, etc. Here are some specific examples of people doing metaphysics.

As for essences, if you have such sincere doubt about our ability to know essence, again, you would seem to have sincere doubt about our ability to know definitions of species of things. Essence and definition are practically interchangeable terms.

"For a child the "essence" of nice red ball is that he can play with it, that its color is pleasing to eye, that its elasticity allows it to bump." That's a huge statement to analyze. Firstly, we have to take the essence of one thing here, namely, the ball. "Nice" and "red" are qualitative accidents that are predicated of the ball. Now, indeed, the essence of a ball is something that is meant to be played with. I think you're onto something here. The ball is something that can be sold, insofar as it is an object.

With regards to epistemology, given naturalism/physicalism, I'd have a sincere doubt as to the reliability of my cognitive faculties and my ability to attain truth about anything (including epistemology). You're familiar with the evolutionary argument against naturalism. I'd also have sincere doubt as to my possession of free agency, and thus even more doubt as to whether I will learn anything or gain any truth.

I suppose we're getting way off track by discussing essence, epistemology, and nature of metaphysics. If you're interested in some interesting articles on this, I suggest some of these readings. This is just suggested reading for your own enjoyment. And I'd still be happy to send you WF Vallicella's article if you'd so like.

Now, I'm going to let other people take off from what I leave, since this is all so time consuming! All the best in your endeavors.
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God's message for our times: http://www.ourladyofgoodsuccess.com/...cle-ologs.html
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Last edited by awatkins69; Sep 14, '10 at 2:23 am.
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