From Solipsism to God

  1. I think therefore i am.

  2. I have a continuation of potential thoughts that become actual, therefore i change.

  3. I have not always had thoughts. Therefore that by which i know myself to exist had a beginning.

  4. That which changes does not necessarily exist because it is a sequence of potentially real events or thoughts.

  5. That which has not always existed is not a necessary being because it has a beginning to it’s existence.

  6. Therefore something other than my thoughts must exist.

  7. Something other than my thoughts must necessarily exist.

  8. That which necessarily exists must be the ultimate cause of my existence.

  9. It cannot be a natural cause because that which essentially lacks an intellect cannot be the essential components of an intellect. Out of nothing come nothing, and so too must it follow that a thing cannot comprise a power that it essentially lacks.

  10. It must be an intelligent cause.

Conclusion: This is God

Although I don’t generally like to get involved in threads about solipsism, I realize that if I don’t contribute to this thread, then it’s likely that nobody will, which would probably be for the best. But I would like to address premise #2.

What one thing can I know to be true in this moment, which was also true in the moment before this, and the moment before that, and the moment before that, all the way back to the very first moment of which I’m aware? And what one thing will also be true of the moment after this one, and the moment after that, and the moment after that, all the way to the very last moment of which I’ll be aware.

The one thing that will always be true, and will never change, is my conscious awareness that I am. Everything around me may change, but my conscious awareness won’t. As far as I can ever know, from the beginning of time, to the end of time…I am always there, and always the same. I am always aware that I am.

Ah, but what about the time before that, or the time after that, you may ask. What about those times of which you’re not aware? Well as far as I can ever know, the very concept of before I was, or after I was, are meaningless. There may simply be no such thing as “before” or “after” I was. Time itself, may begin and end with my conscious awareness. And any concept that I may have of such “other” times may simply be an illusion.

So as far as my consciousness goes, the idea that it changes is simply wrong, because it never does. Now the things of which my consciousness is aware, they do change. But those two things aren’t the same.

So as an argument against solipsism, premise #2 fails.

Wrong.

Firstly the argument is that we can begin with solipsism and still get to God as a conclusion

Secondly, the fact that you have a consciousness at every moment, only shows you that you are essentially a conscious being at every moment, much like an apple is green at every moment it exists. It does nothing to change the fact that you are comprised of a series of conscious states. Every conscious thought you have proceeds the one before and is potentially real until it is actually real. A necessarily real conscious state is not comprised of potential states because it’s act is necessarily real, not potentially real. Clearly your mind is a series of potency and act. In fact it’s self evident.

Your mind changes.

Exactly, and as a conscious being, there are by necessity, things that I’m conscious of. And these are by their very natures, two distinct things.

The relationship between our consciousness and what we are conscious of is besides the point. It’s a red herring. The bottom line is your thought process is a series of potency and act. Therefore it changes.

This is the point where you always fall back on an erroneous assumption, that the first cause can’t possess potency. It can’t change. There’s no logical reason, that holds up under scrutiny, to believe that that’s true.

You would most likely counter that it’s obviously true that the first cause can’t contain potency, because if it contains potency, then it can change, and if it can change, then it can’t possibly be the first cause, because there must be something preceding it that causes it to change.

But this entire argument relies upon there being a coherent causal order. One in which cause precedes effect. That’s the only way that you can discern a first cause, is by having a coherent series of causes. Now this is true for the reality in which you and I exist, but it’s not necessarily true. And when we’re discussing the “first” cause, we’re specifically talking about what’s necessarily true.

Now if we follow the coherent causal order that we see in the world around us, backwards, in an attempt to discern a first cause, what may actually happen is that order itself breaks down, such that it’s no longer possible to discern a linear causal order. One in which cause always precedes effect. In which case the idea of a “first” cause becomes meaningless, as does the idea of an infinite series of causes.

What you may actually end up with, is a system that’s constantly changing, and periodically giving rise to coherent realities, such as the one in which we find ourselves. Which would mean that the reality in which we live, may simply be a natural byproduct of a constantly changing system. One with no discernible first cause. That constantly changing system would in fact be the first cause.

I guess it’s obvious you would start with yourself: ‘I think therefore etc’. So your argument is predicated on there being an intellect. But would the argument work if there was no intellect? Would it work if there was no self consciousness? Would it work if there was just instinctive behaviour? And if there were simple chemical reactions?

Point 9 obviously fails on this matter alone.

Edit: just realised that the first sentence might be taken as sarcasm. It wasn’t meant as such.

@Freddy, welcome back.

Cheers. An enforced sabbatical I’m afraid. My charm and wit are not always appeeciated it seems.

I’m shocked, surely no tolerant and forgiving Christian could be offended by a bit of wit. God forbid that they would do such a thing as flag levity.

Anyway, now that you’re back, perhaps it’s time for me to take a sabbatical of my own.

I may be misremembering, but I think Descartes was criticized in his own day for taking for granted this premise. As in, the criticism would run thus. A seemingly individuated mind is thinking but this just seems to be the case. We have not demonstrated a universe of separable minds. It is an assumption that there is a universe of individuated I’s , a multitude of separable thinking minds. But one would have to argue for this.

Pantheism, after all, could be true. Or monism. It does seem as if The universe is comprised of many separable minds. But certainly Descartes did not establish this. About all that follows from his reductive thought experiment is something like, a seemingly separable mind is thinking, therefore thinking is occurring. Thinking is going on would be the undeniable truth that is established once we have doubted everything. But my mind could simply be an extension or a mode of a divine mind, correct?

The entire argument is fraught with errors. For example, you can’t establish #3 either.

Well how do you define “always”. Logically you define it as, from the beginning of time to the end of time. Which means, that so as far as I know, I have always had thoughts. There may simply be no such thing as “before” I had thoughts. It would be like suggesting that God had a beginning, because He has only existed since the beginning of time. You can’t ask how long God existed before the beginning of time, because the question itself is meaningless. So like me, God has existed from the beginning of time. Thus if I had a beginning, then God must also have had a beginning.

The premise just doesn’t hold water.

Neither does ‘out of nothing comes nothing’.

There wasn’t a proposal that we started with nothing. And if we did, suggesting that it required God to get us to something is assuming the conclusion before we’ve reached it. So we started with something.

The argument then becomes: ‘We can’t get here from there’. Which we obviously have.

I have presented on many occasions why the first cause cannot be considered as a series of potency an act

No that’s not what i would say.

I would say that a being/nature which necessarily exists is not a series of potency an act, because a necessary being/nature cannot, in principle of being necessarily real, move from potential existence to necessary existence. For it to do so would clearly be a metaphysical contradiction. It does not have potential states, natures, or instances where it’s nature is only potentially realised, and to argue otherwise is nothing more than a case of blind-denial.

That which is existentially fundamental to all possibilities has the fullness of it’s own reality, it is not a limited act of reality and it lacks nothing that is true to it’s nature.

To even begin to have a chance of disproving my argument you have to actually address the argument that i presented; not knock down a straw-man.

Well if you are willing to doubt that you are thinking in order to avoid the conclusion i would say the argument is working just fine.

You have a tendency to put words in my mouth, so let me define what i mean so that there is no confusion. I should have said that my thinking has not existed for eternity, or infinitely. In other-words it’s finite in duration. I haven’t always been.

God is timeless. And there has to be a being that has no beginning and is not changing because you cannot have something come out of absolutely nothing by itself, and fundamental reality as i have already argued cannot be a potential act of existence.

I suppose there is a place for this debate, but the OP begins with Solipsism, and the goal is to show you that you can still prove the existence of God regardless.

I don’t doubt that I am thinking now. But quite some time ago, some distand ancestor had no intellect. And before him there was one with no self consciousness. Keep going back and there was only instinct. And then chemical reactions.

Your problem is that you use intellect as the basis of your argument as if it simply popped into existence fully formed. It obviously didn’t. So does you argument work if there were just instincts and no conscious thought? Or chemical reactions? That from which intellect evolved.

Well then it’s clear what they lacked. An intellect.

A being either has an intellect or it does not. Chemical reactions do not think or will to a reasoned end although chemical reactions may result in particular kinds of behaviour. In other-words, i ruled out natural events, because blind natural processes by their very nature do not act for purpose; but we do. So the cause cannot be a natural event, because an intellectual act is by it’s very nature distinct from a natural process, and therefore we cannot say that our intellect is essentially comprised of the natural processes of a first cause. If an intellect is distinct in nature from natural processes then it must be caused to exist by another intellect, that which is not a natural process.

I fail to see how you differentiate my existence from God’s existence. As far as I know, my thoughts have existed from the beginning of time, until the end of time, which is always now. My thoughts have therefore existed for all of eternity. Thus so far as I can ever possibly know, I have always existed.

I don’t think that even you believe that God has existed infinitely, because to do that, time itself would have to be infinite.

Therefore, whether it’s me or God, neither of us has existed for an infinite period of time. Thus both of our existences have a finite duration.

And who says that I came out of nothing? You yourself have argued that nothing cannot exist. Therefore if God can be said to be eternal, why can’t the same be said of me? Not that I came out of nothing, but simply that I have always existed, and there’s no such thing as “before” I existed.

Which brings us back to your underlying premise, that the first cause can’t change. I would simply argue that the first cause can’t be changed by something outside of itself, but that doesn’t prove that change can’t be intrinsic to itself.

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