Friday, August 13, 2010

How to debunk Dhorpatan's argument against all gods

I summarized some of the content of this blog entry in this video in case anybody wants something shorter.

After I wrote my last blog entry responding to the YouTube video, "How to prove God doesn't exist, in 3 minutes or less!," I recorded a video of myself reading the blog so I could post it as a reply and everybody who saw the video would be able to see my response. You can’t post url’s in youtube comments. Dhorpatan (the guy who made the video) responded in the comment section of my video, saying that I had misunderstood his argument. I had his definition of “infinity” wrong, and my syllogism did not accurately represent what he was saying. So I decided to write a more thorough critique of his video with his clarifications in mind. This is going to be a complete redo of my critique of his argument against the existence of god.

Dhorpatan wrote in the detail section under his video that “this may be one of the greatest, if not THE greatest argument for the non-existence of not just the Judeo-Christian God, or Creator Gods, but ALL Gods!!” Since the purpose of the video is to refute the existence of all gods, his attempt can be considered a failure if he leaves any of them unrefuted. I’ll argue that not only did he fail to refute the existence of all gods, but he doesn’t manage to refute the existence of any gods at all.

BTW, I’m using ‘god’ with a small ‘g’ since we are talking about all gods, not just some specific god. I’m also using the pronoun ‘he’ as a convention. For the sake of Dhorpatan’s argument, it doesn’t matter whether god is male, female, neither, both, personal, or impersonal.

What is Dhorpatan attempting to refute?

Dhorpatan attempts to refute the existence of both finite gods and infinite gods, since, by the law of excluded middle, that exhausts all the possibilities. First, he argues against the existence of a finite god. Then he argues against the existence of an infinite god. He suggests asking the CTCer (i.e. Christian, theist, or creationist), “Is God infinite?” Then he launches into his arguments.

Argument against finite gods

This is his argument against a finite god in his own words:

If they say ‘no’ then god is not infinite, then he is not beginingless, and will require a cause, refuting his being god, since by definition, god cannot be dependent on something external to himself. Further, he cannot be the first cause creator since a non-infinite god is limited and would thus not be sufficient to halt infinite regress. This falsifies the existence of god since it is a violation of Occam’s razor to needlessly multiply explanations beyond logical parsimony. And since god would not be sufficient to halt infinite regress, his supernatural existence would be a needless multiplication of explanations beyond natural inquiry.

First argument against finite gods

The first part of his argument can be summarized like so:

1. If a finite god exists, then he has a beginning.
2. If the finite god has a beginning, then he must have a cause.
3. If the finite god has a cause, then he is dependent on something external to himself.
4. By definition, no god can be dependent on something external to himself.
5. Therefore, a finite god does not exist.

This is a deductive argument, and there are only two ways a deductive argument can go wrong. If at least one of the premises is false, then the argument fails. If the conclusion does not follow logically from the premises, then the logic is invalid, and the argument fails.

Let me say first of all that the logic in this argument is impeccable. It is definitely logically valid. I had to add the third premise to make his argument valid because that’s not exactly how he put it, but I don’t think he will object. He shouldn’t, anyway. I also tweaked the fourth premise for the sake of precision. Again, he shouldn’t object.

Let me also say that I agree with his second and third premises. I think his first and fourth premises are false, and that’s why his argument fails.

Let’s look at his first premise:

1. If a finite god exists, then he has a beginning.


Unfortunately, Dhorpatan didn’t give us a definition for “infinite.” Nor did he give us a reason for why we should think this premise is true. In my first response, I said that by “infinite,” he appeared to mean “beginningless.” After all, the contrapositive to this premise is: “If God is beginningless, then god is infinite.”

Let me make a detour here and explain what a “contrapositive” is. I’m not trying to insult anybody’s intelligence. It’s just that a lot of people don’t know what that means. The contrapositive to an if/then statement is a logically equivalent statement. “If P then Q” means the same thing as “If not Q, then not P.” You can demonstrate this by using modus tollens.

If P then Q.
Not Q
Therefore, not P.

Assuming the first premise is true (If P then Q), it follows that if the second premise is true, then the conclusion is true, since the conclusion follows from the first and second premise. In other words, it follows that “If not Q, then not P.”

Well, Dhorpatan corrected me about the relationship between beginninglessness and infinity. In the comment section of my video, he said, “Something that is beginningless is not necessarily infinite.” Then he used the laws of logic as an example of something that is beginningless but not infinite. What I want to point out is that Dhorpatan has unwittingly refuted his first premise. If his first premise is true, then it’s necessarily also true (by contrapositive) that if something is beginningless, then it is infinite. Since he has pointed out a counter-example to the contrapositive of his first premise, it follows that his first premise is false. And if his first premise is false, then his whole argument fails.

He could reword his first premise to be consistent with his statement and his counter-example. It would then read, “If a finite god exists, then it’s possible for him to have a beginning.” But of course that would invalidate his whole argument. To make it logically valid, he’d have to tweak the other premises to include mere possibility, and his conclusion would be, “A finite god could possibly not exist.” If the best his argument can achieve is to make the non-existence of a finite god possible, then his argument fails to show that a finite god does not exist. So by saying, “Something that is beginningless is not necessarily infinite,” Dhorpatan has refuted his argument against a finite god.

Maybe we could salvage his argument, though. Since he says that beginningless things are not necessarily infinite, maybe there are some cases where if something is beginningless, then it is infinite. We could salvage his first premise if somehow god turned out to be one of those special cases where if he is finite, then he is beginningless. Dhorpatan would have to provide us with an argument to that effect, though. He could not argue like so:

Anything that is finite must have a beginning.
God is finite.
Therefore, god must have a beginning.

He could not make that argument because he has already given us a counter-example to the first premise, namely the laws of logic. To salvage his argument, Dhorpatan needs to explain to us why god being finite means god must have a beginning, but the same rule does not apply to the laws of logic. Since Dhorpatan didn’t even attempt to defend this distinction, I can only guess at what his reasoning might be.

First, we should explore why he thinks god being finite must mean that he has a beginning. Although he didn’t give a definition for “infinity” in his video, he did tell me what he meant in the comment section of my video response. He defined “infinite” as "having no limits in time, space, extent or magnitude.” Perhaps he thinks a finite god must have a beginning because if god is finite, then he is limited in duration. He has only existed for a finite amount of time, and therefore has a beginning. How, then, might the laws of logic be finite, and not have a beginning? I suppose Dhorpatan could say that the laws of logic are timeless—they have no temporal component at all, neither a finite nor an infinite one. The only problem is that his argument against a finite god would then only apply to temporally finite gods. It would not apply to timeless gods, and would leave them unrefuted.

Dhorpatan could fix that problem by arguing, as William Lane Craig does, that god must be temporal if he is to have any kind of relationship with the physical cosmos. But there are problems with that, too. First, Dhorpatan’s argument against a finite god would do nothing to refute deistic finite gods, since deistic gods do not interact with the physical cosmos. Second, if god is the cause for the beginning of the space-time continuum, then god could be timeless without creation and temporal with creation. In that case, god could be temporal and yet beginningless.

Perhaps Dhorpatan has some reason to think there couldn’t be a beginningless finite god, and I just haven’t been able to guess what that reason might be. But we can demonstrate from premises that Dhorpatan has given us himself that there can be a beginningless finite god (finite in the sense of having a limited duration in time). Let’s look at his second and third premises:

2. If the finite god has a beginning, then he must have a cause.
3. If the finite god has a cause, then he is dependent on something external to himself.

If these premises apply to anything that has a beginning and anything that has a cause, then there must be a beginningless creator that is finite with respect to duration. Let me explain. Remember that Dhorpatan defined “infinite” as "having no limits in time, space, extent or magnitude.” So if something has no limit in extent, then it is infinite. Dhorpatan laters tells us that actual infinites cannot exist in the universe. So we can make the following argument:

1. If time does not have a beginning, then time is unlimited in extent.
2. If something has no limit in extent, then it is infinite.
3. An actual infinite cannot exist in the universe.
4. Therefore, time must have a beginning.

If something which has a beginning must have a cause, then time must have a cause. And if something which has a cause must be dependent on something external to itself, then the cause must be external to time. In other words, it must be timeless. So, using Dhorpatan’s own premises and definition, we have shown that something timeless brought time into existence. Since it’s possible that a temporally finite god is what brought time into existence, Dhorpatan’s argument against a finite god fails.

But his argument fails for another reason. His fourth premise is also false:

4. By definition, no god can be dependent on something external to himself.


His definition of god is too restrictive. There are all kinds of gods that are dependent on something external to themselves. All of the Greek and Roman gods were dependent on something external to themselves. Many of them were procreated. The Mormon god is also dependent on something external to himself. So clearly “god” has a much broader meaning than Dhorpatan has allowed. Since his fourth premise is false, his argument against a finite god fails.

There just doesn’t seem to be any way to salvage Dhorpatan’s argument against all finite gods. If there is, and if I just haven’t thought of it, then Dhorpatan needs to make another video, because the video with its present content is woefully inadequate.

Second argument against finite gods

Let’s move on to the second part of his argument against a finite god. It can be summarized like so:

1. If god is finite, then god is limited.
2. If god is limited, then god would not be able to halt an infinite regress.
3. If god is not able to halt an infinite regress, then god’s supernatural existence would be a needless multiplication of explanations beyond natural inquiry.
4. If god’s supernatural existence is a needless multiplication of explanations beyond natural inquiry, then god’s existence violates Occam’s razor.
5. Therefore, if god is finite, then god’s existence violates Occam’s razor.

The first premise lacks precision. While it’s true that if god were finite in some sense then he would be limited in that same sense. But Dhorpatan doesn’t tell us in what way God would have to be limited if he were finite. The problem with this lack of precision will become clear when we look at the second premise.

The second premise is false. If god were limited with respect to his personhood (i.e. he is a finite number of persons), it would not follow that god is unable to halt an infinite regress. God would have to be limited in some particular sense before it would follow that god is not able to halt an infinite regress. Since it’s possible for god to be limited in some way and still be able to halt an infinite regress, his second premise is false.

This is probably a good place for me to add that his definition of “infinite” also lacks precision. Let me explain what I mean. Let’s suppose I am able to eat a whole sandwich. It would follow that I am not limited by any inability to eat the sandwich. By Dhorpatan’s definition of infinite, you could argue that I am infinite since I have no limitations that prevent me from eating the sandwich, neither in extent, nor magnitude. Surely that is silly. That’s why philosophers and mathematicians don’t use google to come up with their definitions, as Dhorpatan apparently did.

The second premise is also false because, as we’ve shown, god could be limited in duration and still halt an infinite regress. If god is what caused time to come into existence, then god does halt an infinite regress.

His third premise is incoherent. The only way god’s supernatural existence could be a needless explanation is if (1) we have something that needs to be explained, and (2) we have something to explain it with other than god. So what on earth is he talking about? Maybe the thing that needs to be explained is the existence of the physical cosmos. Or maybe we need to explain the beginning of time or the beginning of events since there can’t be an infinite regress. But what else has Dhorpatan suggested to halt an infinite regress? Nothing, as far as I can see. If Dhorpatan doesn’t give us something to halt an infinite regress, god cannot be a needless explanation, and his third premise is false.

The fourth premise is more or less true by definition, but it lacks precision. I’ll just let it slide, though, since this post is already getting too long.

Now we get to the conclusion—that the existence of god violates Occam’s razor. Notice that the conclusion is not that a finite god does not exist. If Dhorpatan wanted to add that if something violates Occam’s razor, it therefore doesn’t exist, then his argument would be fallacious since that doesn’t follow. All Occam’s razor tells us is that any hypothetical entity we propose to explain some phenomenon that is already fully accounted for must be unjustified.

For example, let’s say I have an unassembled tent that I leave on the ground while I go use the bathroom. When I come back, I find that the tent has been assembled, and I need an explanation for how it got to be assembled. In that case, I am justified in inferring that at least one person set my tent up. Since one person is sufficient to explain how my tent got put up, Occam’s razor only allows me to infer one person. I’m not justified in inferring two or three people. But obviously it doesn’t follow that, therefore, only one person set the tent up. There may have been three or four people who set the tent up for all I know.

There are things that exist that we don’t know about because we haven’t discovered them yet. Since we don’t know about them, they obviously have no explanatory power for us. But clearly that does not mean they don’t exist. We have no phenomenon that we need unicorns to explain, but it doesn’t follow that no unicorns exist. It only follows that we are unjustified in inferring that they must.

So this argument from Occam’s razor does not support the claim that god does not exist. At best, it only works as a rebuttal to some phantom argument for the existence of god that Dhorpatan doesn’t tells us about. We can’t assess whether god is an unnecessary explanation in that phantom argument since Dhorpatan doesn’t tell us what the argument is. So we can just mark this whole Occam’s razor argument out. It’s irrelevant to Dhorpatan’s case against god.

Argument against infinite gods

Let’s move on to his argument against an infinite god. This is his argument in response to the question, “Is God infinite?”:

If they say ‘yes’ that God is infinite, then their God does not exist since actual infinites cannot subsist within the universe.


Dhorpatan didn’t like the way I characterized this argument in my previous blog/video. This is how I previously characterized the argument:

1. An actual infinite cannot exist in the universe.
2. God is an actual infinite.
3. Therefore, God cannot exist in the universe.

He objected to this characterization by saying, “your syllogism was a strawman, as I don't say God is actually infinite.” Of course, since he doesn’t believe in any god, it follows that he doesn’t believe god is infinite or finite. But the second premise only represents the definition of the god he is attempting to refute. So I insist that the argument does accurately represent what he is arguing. But I will characterize the argument differently to avoid his silly objection. Here’s the new characterization.

1. If an infinite god exists, then an actual infinite exists in the universe.
2. An actual infinite cannot exist in the universe.
3. Therefore, an infinite god cannot exist.

That is not exactly how he worded it, but surely he won’t object to this characterization. You can read his words for yourself and see that it accurately represents what he is arguing.

Let’s look at that first premise. One possible rebuttal is that God does not exist in the universe. If God doesn’t exist in the universe, then the first premise is false. Dhorpatan addresses this rebuttal later in the video. He says:

There is no outside the universe. The universe is existence. This rebuttal fails since it’s trying to baselessly assert that God exists outside of existence. Something that exists outside of existence doesn’t exist.


When I first read this, it struck me as a blaring case of begging the question. Since most theists make a distinction between the creator and the creation, and since the universe is the creation, it follows that the creator is not in or part of the universe. So the issue under dispute between theists and atheists is whether the universe is all that exists. But Dhorpatan’s refutation is based on the assumption that the universe is all that exists. There can be no clearer case of circular reasoning.

But as it turns out, I misunderstood what Dhorpatan was arguing. By saying the universe is existence, Dhorpatan was not making a synthetic statement; rather, he was making an analytic statement. In other words, he was just giving us a definition of the universe. He was telling us how he is using the word. In the comment section of his video, he said, “The Universe is defined by several credible sources as everything that exists.”

I suspect that Dhorpatan has just misunderstood what he has read. There are some authorities, like Carl Sagan, who have said the universe is all that ever was or will be. But they are not making analytic statements in those cases. They are not defining the universe. Rather, they were making metaphysical claims about reality. Their statements are synthetic. Usually, when anybody talks about the universe, they are referring to the entire space/time continuum, the physical cosmos, the sum total of space, time, and matter/energy. Whether there is anything other than the universe is a philosophical question.

But what’s important is not how the universe ought to be defined, but how Dhorptan is using the word “universe.” He is using the word as a synonym for “reality.” So we can substitute “reality” for all his uses of “universe” to avoid misunderstanding him. His argument would then be:

1. If an infinite god exists, then an actual infinite exists in reality.
2. An actual infinite cannot exist in reality.
3. Therefore, an infinite god cannot exist.

This avoids the objection that God does not exist in the universe. No theist is going to say, “God does not exist in reality,” and offer that as a rebuttal to Dhorpatan’s argument, because that would be to concede Dhorpatan’s argument.

The first premise appears at first glance to be an obvious truth. It’s almost a tautology. But it really depends on what is meant by “infinite” and “actual infinite.” For example, if a potentially infinite god exists, it wouldn’t follow that an actual infinite exists. A god who was constantly learning could be potentially infinite as his knowledge approached infinity, but it wouldn’t follow that an actual infinite exists in reality. So the only way the first premise can be true is if “infinite” means the same thing in both cases.

Likewise, his argument can only be valid if he is using “infinite” in the second premises just like he is using it in the first premise. If god is infinite in some sense other than Dhorpatan means when he says an actual infinite cannot exist, then his argument commits the fallacy of equivocation, and is invalid.

That’s what I accused him of in my first blog/video. Typically, when people say that actual infinites cannot exist in reality, they mean specifically that there cannot be an actually infinite number of things. But when theists say god is infinite, they do not mean it in that sense. Since Dhorpatan didn’t define “infinite” in his video, I just assumed he was using “infinite” in the senses they are typically used in the context of god and in the context of the impossibility of actual infinites.

He corrected me, though, and said that in both cases, he was using infinite to mean “having no limits in time, space, extent or magnitude.” Unfortunately, Dhorpatan’s definition is not precise enough to do any work for him. Dhorpatan made no distinction between potential infinites and actual infinites. Neither did he make any distinction between qualitative infinites and quantitative infinites, which he admits in the comment section of my first video.

While most people might accept that an actual quantitative infinite cannot exist in reality, I don’t think most people would accept that a qualitative infinite cannot exist in reality either. But many people don’t even accept that an actual quantitative infinite cannot exist in reality. Dhorpatan’s premise, then, is highly controversial. Yet he offers it without any substantiation. Without some kind of argument to support the premise that an actual infinite cannot exist in reality, Dhorpatan’s argument doesn’t disprove the existence of an infinite god.

Given the broad range of infinities that can be captured under his definition of “infinite,” his second premise just isn’t true. There are some infinities that fit his definition, but that can exist in reality. For example, if god is all powerful, then there is no limit to the extent of what he can do. But there is no reason to think that kind of infinite couldn’t exist.

Somebody may object, and say that God cannot engage in logical absurdity. He can’t create square circles or married bachelors, and he can’t make necessarily false statements true. But these are artificial limitations because the scenarios are incoherent. I know what a square is, and I know what a circle is, but I don’t know what a square circle is. “Square circle” is an incoherent combination of words. It isn’t clear what god is being asked to do, or what the world would look like if he could do it. It isn’t because of a lack of power that God can’t engage in logical absurdity. It’s because the scenarios themselves are nonsense. When we say god is all powerful, it means that he can do anything that actually makes sense, and that is meaningful.

There is a sense in which an all knowing god’s knowledge is infinite, and a sense in which it is not infinite. It is infinite in the sense that it is exhaustive. If god knows all true propositions, then there is no limit to the scope and extent of what god knows. But if there are only a finite number of true propositions, then you could say god’s knowledge is finite in number, even though it was exhaustive. There is no reason to suppose that such a god could not exist.

God is sometimes said to be qualitatively infinite because he had no beginning, or because he is a necessary being. As we’ve seen, though, Dhorpatan accepts the existence of at least some things that do not have beginnings, namely the laws of logic. The laws of logic are also necessary, so Dhorpatan would also have to accept the existence of necessary beings. It’s impossible for there not to be something in existence that is necessary. If anything exists at all, then something must be necessary because that’s the only way to halt a numerically infinite regress of explanations for contingent things. If Dhorpatan accepts the existence of necessary things that have no beginning, then he cannot dismiss the existence of god just because god is necessary and beginningless.

The sense in which Christians say that God is infinite is that God has certain attributes to a maximum degree. He is all powerful in the sense that he can do all things logically possible. He is all knowing in the sense that he knows all true propositions. He is uncreated. He is necessary. If Dhorpatan wants to disprove the Christian God, then he needs to explain why we should think that an infinite God in this sense cannot exist. It just won’t do to say that God’s temporal duration is finite, since the Christian God is causally prior to time, and is therefore beginningless. It won’t do to say that an actually infinite quantity cannot exist in reality since the Christian God is not actually infinite in that sense, and none of his attributes entail the existence of an actually infinite number of things.

Dhorpatan could say that if all these senses in which we say god is infinite (knowledge, power, necessity, etc.) are not really what he means by infinite, then he would have to place our god in the “finite” category, which he addressed in the first part of his video. But as we’ve seen, that argument fails. So Dhorpatan has failed to refute the existence of any god.

In fact, it would be hard to accept all of Dhorpatan’s premises and not arrive at the existence of some sort of creator god. If time had no beginning, the past would be an actually infinite collection of equal intervals of time. There would be an actually infinite number of minutes and of seconds. If an actual infinite cannot exist in reality, then time must have a beginning. Dhorpatan claims that if god has a beginning, then god will require a cause. Unless he has some reason to make a distinction, it seems that time would also require a cause. That means a timeless entity brought time into existence.

It turns out that the whole physical cosmos must have a beginning, because the cosmos is space/time. It’s the sum total of space, time, and matter/energy. It’s in a constant state of change, and change requires cause. Since there cannot be an actual infinite in reality, it follows that the causal chain in the physical cosmos must have a beginning. And if it has a beginning, then it must have a cause. So something spaceless, timeless, and immaterial must have brought the physical cosmos into existence.

Since Dhorpatan does not believe in actual infinites, he cannot rationally believe in infinite regresses. And if he doesn’t believe in infinite regresses, then he must believe in an uncaused first cause. The uncaused first cause is a necessary, uncaused, spaceless, timeless, and immaterial creator of the cosmos. It follows necessarily from Dhorpatan’s own premises, so it’s irrational for him to deny the existence of such an entity. And it would be a strange kind of atheism to accept such a thing.

Rebuttals

At the end of his video, Dhorpatan addressed three rebuttals to his argument against an infinite god, so let’s look at those.

The first rebuttal is that “God is spiritual, and is therefore not bound by the realities of non-spiritual entities.” Dhorpatan’s refutation is exactly right. The second premise—that actual infinities cannot exist in the universe—encompasses all of reality, whether spiritual or not. So this rebuttal makes an irrelevant distinction.

The second rebuttal is that “God created the universe, so he is not bound by the laws and limitations of it.” Dhorpatan responded by saying that “anything that exists within the universe is logically bound by the laws and limitations of it since positing otherwise will violate the law of non-contradiction.” There’s a confusion here about the meaning of “universe.” Somebody who offered this objection could not be using Dhorpatan’s meaning, because that would be to say that god created reality. And if god is real, that would mean god created himself, which is nonsense. What they mean, instead, is that God created the physical cosmos, and is therefore not bound by its rules. But that objection fails because the rule in question—the impossible of an actual infinite—applies to all of reality, not just the physical cosmos. And Dhorpatan is right to say that it is a contradiction to say that a rule which applies to all of reality does not apply to all of reality, god being the exception.

The third rebuttal is that “God is outside the universe, and is therefore not bound by the realities that beings inside the universe would be subject to.” We have already addressed this subject above.

There ye have it. Maybe I’ve made some mistakes in thinking somewhere, but hopefully it’s at least obvious that Dhorpatan’s argument needs a little more meat.

16 Comments:

At 8/17/2010 7:19 AM , Blogger The Secular Walk said...

@Sam

You think God is spaceless? Can you give me a single example in reality of something that exists, that is spaceless? Because it seems your position is logically flawed and defiles objective reality.

Also, can you give me a brief substantiation(technical account) of how space(The Universe) can come from non-space(God).

 
At 8/17/2010 8:37 PM , Blogger Sam said...

Dhorpatan, thanks for approving my video response, and thanks for reading this blog entry.

Well, obviously I think God is one example of something that exists and is spaceless, but you are probably looking for a second example other than God. The laws of logic are another example. They do not have extension in space. They have no length, width, or height. In fact, they have no physical properties at all.

All I can tell you about space/time (the universe) coming into existence from nothing is that it involves an efficient cause, but not a material cause. I'm afraid I can't go into any more detail than that because I haven't got a clue how God did that.

 
At 8/31/2010 4:25 AM , Blogger The Secular Walk said...

@Philochristos

I asked for an example IN REALITY of something that exists that is space-less. The Laws of Logic do not exist in reality. They are the EFFECTS of what exist in reality. They are conceptual integrations. Your failure to show a single thing in reality that is space-less, is evidence that your God belief is a fallacy of the floating abstraction, and something that has no basis in reality.

 
At 8/31/2010 4:33 AM , Blogger The Secular Walk said...

The fact that you haven't a clue how God made space from non-space, shows your beliefs are irrational, and do not adhere to reality. In light of this, we must go where the evidence leads. Your failure to give a logical account of this, means the evidence leads to a secular reality. Please don't live your life on a lie.

You deserve better than that. That's the benefit of the Atheological Apologetics I provide. To show the falsity of God belief logically and empirically, and from there, help my fellow man to leave belief in the Occult, so they are saved from restricting and even sacrificing their money, time, devotion, and even lives, to a God that never was.

 
At 8/31/2010 10:12 AM , Blogger Sam said...

Dhorpatan, that is a noble motivation. If God doesn't exist, then I certainly don't want to waste any more time worshipping him or worrying about whether my behavior is acceptable to him. But so far I remain unconvinced. Your arguments don't strike me as the least bit persuasive. I've watched a few of your videos, and they don't get any better.

I'm not just saying that because I'm a theist, and I'm supposed to say something disparaging to every atheist argument I hear. In fact, I've heard many arguments for atheism that have some force--the evidential argument from evil, the argument from unanswered prayers, the argument from divine hiddenness, etc. These arguments have force, but yours don't.

Unless you're using the word "exist" in some very peculiar way, the laws of logic do exist in reality. When you say that they are the effects of what exist in reality, you're implying that they exist. If they didn't exist, they couldn't be the effects of anything.

But I think you're mistaken to even say they are the effects of reality. On the contrary, I think the laws of logic are necessary. They exist in all possible worlds. There are some who think that since the laws of logic are laws of thought that they therefore depend on a mind to exist, and since they are necessary, the mind upon which they depend also is necessary, which amounts to a transcendental argument for God. But I go a step further and say the laws of logic don't even depend on a mind to exist. They would exist even if there was no necessarily existing mind.

What did you mean in the comment section of my first video when you said, "The Laws of Logic are beginningless in their ground"? I got the distinct impression you were offering the laws of logic as an example of something that exists in reality, that is finite, and that has no beginning. And how is it possible for the laws of logic to be the "effects of what exists in reality" while at the same time to be "beginningless in their ground"? If they're beginningless in their ground, doesn't that mean they don't depend on or derive from anything, in which case they are not the effects of anything?

Even if I granted that the laws of logic don't exist in reality, it hardly follows that nothing exists that is spaceless. Using premises that you yourself agree with, I've shown that there must be something spaceless that brought space into existence. I further maintain that God, angels, and every manner of spirit is spaceless. Numbers, propositions, and every other universal is also spaceless. (See Univerals by J.P. Moreland.)

Now let's suppose I'm wrong about all that, too, and that besides God I can't think of a single other thing that is spaceless. It doesn't follow that God therefore cannot be spaceless, much less that God "has no basis in reality." That is just a blaring non-sequitur. Also if I can construct an argument for God that entails that God is spaceless, then I will have shown that something exists that is spaceless, namely God. I think the kalam cosmological argument does this. And although I don't expect you to agree, I also think angels and demons are spaceless.

 
At 8/31/2010 10:21 AM , Blogger Sam said...

The fact that you haven't a clue how God made space from non-space, shows your beliefs are irrational, and do not adhere to reality.

How does that follow? Do we really need to know how something happens before we can be rational in believing that it happens? Do you apply that to all aspects of your life or just to the God/creation question? For example, do you know exactly how an iPhone works? And if not, does that cause you to doubt that it works? Nobody knows how a moving magnetic field causes an electric field or how a moving electric field causes a magnetic field, but it's very well established that these things happen. So it just isn't true that one must know how something happens before they can be justified in saying that it happens.

Think about that, Dhorpatan. Science is driven by the want and desire to understand how things happen that we already know do happen. We've known for thousands of years that gravity pulls things to the earth, but there is still debate about how gravity works. Whenever we discover some new phenomenon, that drives us to try and discover how the phenomenon happens. Knowing that something happens always comes before knowing how it happens. Nobody would ever ask how something happened if they did not first know that it happened. So you are badly mistaken to attribute irrationality to me on the basis that I believe that God created the universe without knowing how.

If you are unconvinced, then I'd love to hear an explanation from you about how a Higgs boson produces mass, how an electron produces charge, and how moving charge particles create magnetic fields. You are well on your way to a Nobel Prize!

 
At 9/01/2010 10:04 PM , Blogger The Secular Walk said...

Using premises that I agree with, you've shown that there must be something spaceless that brought space into existence? That can't be right. Either you are utilizing a strawman argument or I must have missed that, because I don't agree with any premises that claim something as illogical as a spaceless being, bringing space into existence.

 
At 9/01/2010 10:09 PM , Blogger The Secular Walk said...

You can't use God as an example of something that is spaceless, since that begs the question.

Spirits are unproven and non-factual. So they are not an example of something that is spaceless.

Numbers are concepts. Concepts are not entities, but mental abstractions. So they are not an example of something that exists in reality that is spaceless.

The same goes for propositions, and these other Universals, you fail to name.

 
At 9/01/2010 10:22 PM , Blogger The Secular Walk said...

First of all, the Higgs Boson is a hypothetical particle, so there is not really an urgency to explicate how it produces mass; But with that said, you appear confused. The hypothetical Higgs field is what gives particles their mass, not the Higgs Boson.

 
At 9/06/2010 10:45 PM , Blogger Sam said...

Dhorpatan,

It seems to me that concepts are entities, and that numbers, propositions, properties, and other universals are not merely mental abstractions. They may be, but that doesn't mean they aren't spaceless entities.

What question am I begging by saying God is a spaceless entity? God being spaceless is not a premise in any argument I make for the existence of God. Rather, it's part of the conclusion.

You, on the other hand, seem to think that before God can be spaceless that there must first be some other entity that is also spaceless. And unless I can name some other entity that is spaceless besides God, then I can't say that God is spaceless. But that is clearly fallacious because it's at least possible that there's only one spaceless entity in all of reality. It's fallacious to argue against the existence of one spaceless entity merely on the basis that there's isn't another one.

I'm not going to get into why I think spirits are spaceless entities that actually exist, because that will take us down another rabbit trail. But let me explain why I said we can derive the existence of a spaceless entity from premises you agree with.

Let me start with a definition.

The physical cosmos is a the sum total of space, time, and energy.

Now here's the argument:

1. If the physical cosmos does not have a beginning, then the physical cosmos is unlimited in extent.
2. If the physical cosmos is unlimited in extent, then the physical cosmos is actually infinite.
3. An actual infinite cannot exist in reality.
4. Therefore, the physical cosmos has a beginning.
5. If the physical cosmos has a beginning, then it must have a cause.
6. If the physical cosmos has a cause, then it depends on something external to itself.

Since the physical cosmos is the sum total of space, time, and energy, then whatever is external to the physical cosmos must be spaceless, timeless, and immaterial.

to be continued...

 
At 9/06/2010 10:53 PM , Blogger Sam said...

Now let me explain why you should agree with these premises.

1. If the physical cosmos does not have a beginning, then it is unlimited in extent.

You should agree with this premise because without a beginning, the duration of the physical cosmos would have a past that is unlimited in extent.

2. If the physical cosmos is unlimited in extent, then the physical cosmos is actually infinite.

You should agree with this premise because, in your own words "infinite" should be defined as "having no limits in time, space, extent, or magnitude."

3. An actual infinite cannot exist in reality

This is one of the premises you used in your argument against infinite gods.

4. The physical cosmos has a beginning.

This follows deductively from 1, 2, and 3.

5. If the physical cosmos has a beginning, then the physical cosmos must have a cause.

You said that if God has a beginning, then God must have a cause. I'm assuming you would apply that same principle universally so that if anything has a beginning, then it must have a cause. If you don't agree with that, then you need to provide some argumentation for how we can distinguish between a) things that have a beginning and require a cause, and b) things that have a beginning and do not require a cause. And then you need to provide further argumentation for why God should go in one category but the physical cosmos should go in the other category.

6. If the physical cosmos has a cause, then it depends on something external to itself.

You said that if God has a cause, then God depends on something external to himself. Again, I assumed that you apply that principle universally, and that anything that requires a cause must depend on something external to itself. If my assumption is wrong, then you need to provide similar argumentation that I spelled out under premise 5.

It follows inescapably from these premises that you appear to agree with, and ought to agree with, that there exists a spaceless, timeless, and immaterial entity. If you deny the existence of such an entity, then you'll be forced to deny at least one of these premises. But if you deny one of these premises, you will undermine your argument against all gods. If you deny this conclusion while continuing to affirm all of these premises, then you're just being irrational.

I wish you would concede the point I made--that we need not know how something happens before we can know that it happens. It's a rather modest and obvious point that I really don't think you should dispute. Your only response is to quibble with my understanding of the Higgs Boson, but there's no evidence from your response that you got the point. You failed to respond to my other examples. If you disagree with my point, then for everything you know of that happens, you ought to be able to explain how it happens. Can you honestly say that you can, or must we go through specific examples?

 
At 9/08/2010 10:27 PM , Blogger Dogbyte said...

@Dhorpatan you said: "Numbers are concepts. Concepts are not entities, but mental abstractions. So they are not an example of something that exists in reality that is spaceless."

if numbers, and logic are merely mental abstractions. then does that make them dependent on the human "mind" to exist as concepts? do the laws of logic exist on the moon, where there are no human minds currently? did the laws of logic and math simply convalesce out of nothingness the minute we landed on the moon? can something be A and not A at the same time in the same relationship (law of contradiction) on the moon, merely because a human mind isnt there?

can you touch the number 5? can you trip and fall over the number 3? is it not spaceless? do these invariable concepts require human existence before we can see their effects? how does the secular world justify these things in a materialistic worldview? it seems irrational to use the immaterial to prove that there is only a materialistic reality. if all truth is derived logically, and empirically, then how did you arrive at this premise? was your premise proved empirically?

i believe there are immaterial or spaceless examples all around us.


humanism is just as much of a religion as Christianity, they both require faith in things unseen. except, a christian worldview can explain the immaterial things, such as logic, or morals, or scientific induction. how does the secular world account for such when they must first use immaterial concepts like logic, to explain a material-only world?

isnt that like arguing against air, but at the same time using air to breath, or to carry the sound of your voice as you talk?

-Dogbyte

 
At 9/08/2010 11:28 PM , Blogger Dogbyte said...

@Dhorpatan you said: "The Laws of Logic do not exist in reality. They are the EFFECTS of what exist in reality. They are conceptual integrations."

If Laws of Logic do not exist in reality, then how can they be the effect of a real cause?

IF they are merely an effect, then that would make them contingent upon reality, or the universe. But if we follow that line of thought to its conclusion, i think you would agree that it can become quite absurd.

for example, if laws of logic were dependent on the universe, then we would expect to see different laws of logic for different parts of the universe. the conditions on the surface of neptune, are radically different than the conditions inside a quasar wouldnt you say? if the laws of logic described the universe, then those laws would be different from place to place, since the universe is described differently from place to place as well.

another example, since the universe changes with time, then you would expect the laws of logic to change with it, since it is the effect of its cause, or contingent upon its reality. But do we treat logic this way? No. we see it as invariant. But this make perfect sense in the Christian worldview, since God is invariant, his thoughts are as well.

If Logic was just an extension of reality like you say, then humans would have no basis to argue that logic would continue to exist or apply in the future, or in unknown regions of the universe, since no one has been there to observe it.

Laws of Logic, or Mathematics, or morality, are spaceless and real. they are not extensions of the physical universe, they reflect an infinite God of the Bible, not the universe, in which they are used to uphold.

 
At 9/11/2010 8:35 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

I think people should use 'exist' in a peculiar way when talking of abstract universals.

 
At 9/11/2010 11:49 PM , Blogger Sam said...

J.P. Moreland explained in one of his lectures that to exist means to have properties.

 
At 9/28/2010 1:46 PM , Blogger Patmos Pete said...

The third message from heaven...

If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

 

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