Responding to Peter Kirby and Jay Hawthorne on my post "Everything needs a cause, right?"

Peter Kirby said...

It's possible that I missed something--how do you establish that Necessary Being has "will"?

Yea, you did. p. 5-7 covers that:

The argument:

1) True absolute nothingness as a putative state of affairs is impossible.

    a) The concept is self contradictory since a PSA is something and not nothingness.

    b) absolute nothingness must proceed time, thus no time = no causality, no sequential events, no movement, no sage. Thus, nothing could ever come to be.

    c) You cannot get something from nothing

2) The Universe is contingent upon prior conditions:

    a) Inferred logically from the observation that the universe is nothing more than a collection of contingent things.

    b) Consensus in science indicates that the existence of the universe as a whole is contingent upon prior conditions: Matter, energy, all physical phenomena stem from 'gravitational field' the prior condition of which is he big bang, the prior condition of which is the singularity, the prior condition of which is...we do not know.

    c)All naturalistic phenomena are empirically derived, thus they are contingent by their very nature.

As Karl Popper said, empirical facts are facts which might not have been. Everything that belongs to space time is a contingent truth because it could have been otherwise, it is dependent upon the existence of something else for its' existence going all the way back to the Big Bang, which is itself contingent upon something.(Antony Flew, Philosophical Dictionary New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979, 242.)

3) By definition the "ultimate" origin cannot be contingent, since by definition it would require the explanation of still prior conditions.

4) Therefore, the universe must be produced by some prior cause which always existed, is self sufficient, and not dependent upon anything higher.

5) Naturalistic assumptions of determinism, and the arbitrary nature of naturalistic cosmology creates an arbitrary necessity; if the UEO has to produce existents automatically and/or deterministically due to naturalistic forces, the contingencies function as necessities

6) Therefore, since arbitrary necessities are impossible by nature of their absurdity, thus we should attribute creation to an act of the will; the eternal existent must be possessed of some ability to create at will; and thus must possess will.


7) An eternal existent which creates all things and chooses to do so is compatible with the definition of "God" found in any major world religion, and therefore, can be regarded as God. Thus God must exist QED!

J. Hawthorne said...

"Causality requires linear direction and time. A causes B, it follows that a precedes B in a sequential effect. No Time means no sequential order, thus no cause. Time begins sequentially simultaneously with the Big Bang. So there is no way to speak of "before" the big bang because there can't be a "before time."

Things can be sequential and not be in time; for example, numbers. 2 comes before 3 sequentially but not necessarily chronologically. It is not meaningless to speak of the beginning of the universe and the beginning of time. Time as physical time begins in the context of metaphysical time. To be fair here Craig does not adhere to a view of metaphysical time. A good reference on this metaphysical time and causality is God and the Nature of Time by Garrett DeWeese (Ashgate, ISBN: 0 7546 3519 8).

Craig's argument falls right into the trap of that objection, because he does nothing to explain how God could initiate thought in a timeless state.

Now you are just plain wrong. I listed three major authorities on the subject who say it is the consensus of science, I mean universally so, I have yet to see a cosmologist or physicist who takes a contrary view, that nothing can happen in a timeless state.

It is also a mistake in conjecture to think that number lines are not chronological. Because you perception of 2 before 3 is certainly time bound. You cannot say two and three at the same time. You say, think, write, read, one number and then the other and time goes by.

Although I may not lead off with an argument from cause and effect, I am still not convinced that it is a bad argument. If you argued that there are no abstract objects, you would possibly undercut my numbers counter argument.

I don't think I have to say that to undercut it.

Also another problem is 1 does not work. A PSA is not necessarily a something. IF it were would talking about "nothing" refer to something and not nothing in that case?

A putative state of affairs not something? Well I guess that's a matter of how you look at it, but the timeless void thing is enough to pull the argument.

Unicorns don't exist. We have a concept of a unicorn, and we can talk about our concept and think WITH it, but we do not actually think of a unicorn. So, 1a is false. I also don't have any reason to grant 1b.

Unicorn is not being contrasted to an actual void of absolute nothingness. A concept of a unicorn is something. A void of true nothingness is not something it is nothing. Although you could say it's something in the way that an overdraft is something. But that doesn't mean you can handle an overdraft physically, and it doesn't mean we can begin from a PSA of true nothing.

Also 2a assumes that God is not observable. This seems false. But I am willing to grant 2 in general if you are stipulating that the universe is simply that which is physical. This may give too much away too depending on what you mean(what about the Incarnation?). If you think the "world" is bigger than the universe (contains non-physical entities), and can see this being the sort of distinction you are intending.

So, I guess in the end I just don't think it works. But I do think there is a prior condition for the universe ... it just still feels like a cause in the typical Christian arguments.

I might grant you that I should tweak it some more. Maybe I will tweak it some more. But prior condition does contain a cause somewhere, I allude to that in my essay. But it doesn't' require a strict a = b kind of causality.


Anonymous said…
That post was seriously butchered, spelling-wise - I didn't really look at grammar - but here's a fixed post of yours, just so the garbled whatever at the end isn't so bad.. lol

What did you do, speed-type it without editing?

Fixed Post

Just cut and paste the code out, and insert in place of yours - save yours first, just in case blogger doesn't like real html or something - but there it all is.

Firefox has the ability to give you an in-browser spellchecker...
Peter Kirby said…
Premise 5 is fundamentally flawed. It presupposes that naturalism implies determinism (or, if you define "naturalism" in a way that I don't, such that "naturalism" implies determinism, then the false assumption is a dichotomy between "naturalism" and a Necessary Being that has will).

best wishes,
Peter Kirby
J. Hawthorne said…
"Now you are just plain wrong. I listed three major authorities on the subject who say it is the consensus of science, I mean universally so, I have yet to see a cosmologist or physicist who takes a contrary view that nothing can happen in a timeless state."

Yes, most scientists disagree with me, but they could be wrong. "Universal" agreement is not far off, but DeWeese has "converted" at least one physicist that I know of. There are a few philosophers of science & time who agree with me. There are reasons for both sides; however, I think I am right and the authorities could be wrong.

On the other hand I think that there is some equivocation on what "time" is. The physicist/materialist has an epistemological limitation on what counts as evidence for "time” such that the possibility of ANY causality (BECAUSE it must be physical) is impossible for anything to happen. I think Craig’s view of time is close enough to be vulnerable to your critique. However, I think I might disagree with Craig and the world of science about the nature of time, even if I agree with Craig that time is Dynamic, and not Static as the “authorities” claim.

Oh, and you are correct that I concept of a unicorn is something. However, my argument DOES apply, because a Unicorn is nothing, even though the concept of one is a something.

Good luck.

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