1. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    01 Apr '12 07:361 edit
    Here is the Dallas Willard essay link again:

    http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=42

    DW opens with some discussion about some argument that he attributes to Nielsen. DW appears here to be defending against some version of theological noncognitivism. Since I am also generally not a noncognitivist regarding theological discourse, I guess I do not really disagree with DW here. However, I found this section rather unclear and also uninteresting. So, I would move that we fast-forward to what DW calls the three stages of theistic evidence.

    DW's argument comprising stage 1 is some version of the cosmological argument. By my reading, his argument here can be summarized roughly as follows:

    (1.1) There exists a physical reality.

    (1.2) Every entity of physical reality owes its existence to something other than itself. (Here, based on DW's supporting discussion, I guess that we can interpret this as DW's claiming that every physical entity is dependent, in the sense that its being derives from the causal activity of entities other than itself.)

    (1.3) For any physical entity E, the series of causes eventuating in E's being must be structured such that this series has a first term.

    (1.C) Therefore, there exists at least one non-physical entity that does not derive its existence from something else.

    First, do you agree with this restatement of DW's stage 1 argument?

    I see no good reasons to accept 1.2; and I see no good reasons to accept 1.3. The support for these two premises that DW has to offer in this essay is either non-existent (in the case of 1.2) or bad (in the case of 1.3).

    DW acts like premise 1.2 should be obvious to anyone, and he basically does not support the premise beyond his claiming that it is "something which we know to be true of the general character of things in the physical world." Well, it is not obvious to me; and it is not something I know to be true; and I see no actual reasons to accept it. Accepting 1.2 appears to commit us to denying that there could be elements of the physical world that are either (a) simply brute, in that they are not explained by anything or (b) metaphysically random. And I see no reason for doing this, and DW does not seem to actually offer reasons in this capacity.

    In his defense of 1.3 DW basically claims that the causal series leading to E cannot be infinite and without a first term because in such a case "(E's) causes would never 'get to' it". There is no reason that I can see to accept this. On the contrary, if you consider E and ANY specific antecedent, there is a finite number of serial steps linking them. So, I do not understand why DW thinks there is a problem here.

    Before we move to Stages 2 or 3, what is your take on Stage 1?
  2. Joined
    02 Aug '06
    Moves
    12622
    01 Apr '12 08:09
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Here is the Dallas Willard essay link again:

    http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=42

    DW opens with some discussion about some argument that he attributes to Nielsen. DW appears here to be defending against some version of theological noncognitivism. Since I am also generally not a noncognitivist regarding theological discourse, I gue ...[text shortened]... is a problem here.

    Before we move to Stages 2 or 3, what is your take on Stage 1?
    Do you think that the elements that are "simply brute" will one day be discovered ?

    What do you mean by elements that are "metaphysically random" ?
  3. Standard memberRJHinds
    The Near Genius
    Fort Gordon
    Joined
    24 Jan '11
    Moves
    12695
    01 Apr '12 09:38
    Originally posted by jaywill
    Do you think that the elements that are "simply brute" will one day be discovered ?

    What do you mean by elements that are "metaphysically random" ?
    I think he is one of those that are trying to be wise in their own eyes that the Holy
    Bible refers to. HalleluYah !!! 😏
  4. Joined
    31 May '06
    Moves
    1795
    01 Apr '12 11:501 edit
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Here is the Dallas Willard essay link again:

    http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=42

    DW opens with some discussion about some argument that he attributes to Nielsen. DW appears here to be defending against some version of theological noncognitivism. Since I am also generally not a noncognitivist regarding theological discourse, I gue is a problem here.

    Before we move to Stages 2 or 3, what is your take on Stage 1?
    Both 1.2 and 1.3 need to be proven and not just assumed.

    And current thinking in cosmology and physics would say that not only are 1.2 and 1.3 not proven
    but the evidence is pointing towards the opposite conclusion.

    Thus as his premises are not proven (or even the most likely options) any argument built on them
    can be dismissed.

    That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.


    EDIT: whoops typo. meant 1.2 and 1.3.
  5. Joined
    02 Aug '06
    Moves
    12622
    01 Apr '12 12:128 edits
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Both 1.1 and 1.2 need to be proven and not just assumed.

    And current thinking in cosmology and physics would say that not only are 1.1 and 1.2 not proven
    but the evidence is pointing towards the opposite conclusion.

    Thus as his premises are not proven (or even the most likely options) any argument built on them
    can be dismissed.

    That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.


    (1.1) There exists a physical reality.

    (1.2) Every entity of physical reality owes its existence to something other than itself.



    googlefudge:

    And current thinking in cosmology and physics would say that not only are 1.1 and 1.2 not proven
    but the evidence is pointing towards the opposite conclusion.


    Edited to take into account google's correction:

    Concerning 1:2

    What is the current scientific evidence which points in the direction that every entity of physical reality owes its existence to itself alone ?
  6. Joined
    31 May '06
    Moves
    1795
    01 Apr '12 12:20
    Originally posted by jaywill


    (1.1) There exists a physical reality.

    (1.2) Every entity of physical reality owes its existence to something other than itself.



    googlefudge:

    And current thinking in cosmology and physics would say that not only are 1.1 and 1.2 not proven
    but the evidence is pointing towards the opposite conclusion.


    Conc ...[text shortened]... bout evidence pointing in the opposite direction to 1:1 and 1:2.

    So what's this evidence ?
    Whoops. typo on my part sorry about that.

    I meant 1.2 and 1.3 not 1.1 and 1.2.

    my bad.

    I will edit my original post to reflect this
  7. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    01 Apr '12 14:03
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    (1.C) Therefore, there exists at least one non-physical entity that does not derive its existence from something else.
    I am struggling to see where this comes from.
    Where does the argument progress from physical entities to non-physical entities?
    Can non physical entities 'exist'? Are there any examples of such entities?
    Can non physical entities 'cause' physical entities? Are there any known examples of this or any reason whatsoever to believe that this is the case?
    If we were to conclude (as is attempted earlier in the argument) that there must be a physical entity that was not caused by another physical entity, then why assume an non-physical entity as a cause?
  8. Joined
    31 May '06
    Moves
    1795
    01 Apr '12 14:13
    Originally posted by jaywill


    (1.1) There exists a physical reality.

    (1.2) Every entity of physical reality owes its existence to something other than itself.



    googlefudge:

    And current thinking in cosmology and physics would say that not only are 1.1 and 1.2 not proven
    but the evidence is pointing towards the opposite conclusion.


    Edi ...[text shortened]... nts in the direction that every entity of physical reality owes its existence to itself alone ?
    Hmmm, I appear not to have been clear enough.

    The evidence does not support 'everything' being self caused that is nonsense.

    The evidence however does support the existence of things that have no cause.

    Virtual particles being one example.

    The big bang singularity is potentially another.

    Also the current popular hypotheses in cosmology (candidates for replacing the standard model) nearly all have the
    universe existing before the big bang and in fact they typically have the universe (or the multiverse depending on
    how you frame it) existing forever.

    In which case there is no 'first cause' because there are chains of cause and effect going back forever.

    However even if time is not infinite there are examples (including virtual particles) of things that have no cause (or none
    that we can detect) which means that the evidence points in the opposite direction to the claim that everything must have
    a cause and nothing can cause itself.
  9. Standard memberRJHinds
    The Near Genius
    Fort Gordon
    Joined
    24 Jan '11
    Moves
    12695
    01 Apr '12 18:39
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Hmmm, I appear not to have been clear enough.

    The evidence does not support 'everything' being self caused that is nonsense.

    The evidence however does support the existence of things that have no cause.

    Virtual particles being one example.

    The big bang singularity is potentially another.

    Also the current popular hypotheses in cosmology (ca ...[text shortened]... ite direction to the claim that everything must have
    a cause and nothing can cause itself.
    I think it has already been proved through logic that the uncaused Cause is the
    invisible Spirit we call God, the Creator of the heavens and the Earth,etc.
    HalleluYah !!!
  10. Joined
    31 May '06
    Moves
    1795
    01 Apr '12 19:25
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    I think it has already been proved through logic that the uncaused Cause is the
    invisible Spirit we call God, the Creator of the heavens and the Earth,etc.
    HalleluYah !!!
    Don't be silly it was the flying spaghetti monster.
  11. Joined
    02 Aug '06
    Moves
    12622
    01 Apr '12 19:266 edits
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Hmmm, I appear not to have been clear enough.

    The evidence does not support 'everything' being self caused that is nonsense.

    The evidence however does support the existence of things that have no cause.

    Virtual particles being one example.

    The big bang singularity is potentially another.

    Also the current popular hypotheses in cosmology (ca ite direction to the claim that everything must have
    a cause and nothing can cause itself.
    Hmmm, I appear not to have been clear enough.



    Now that's a good way to put it.


    The evidence does not support 'everything' being self caused that is nonsense.


    If I understood you right, you said that current evidence points away from the concept of physical entities being caused by other entitties. Did I get you right ? In other words, current evidences points to physical entities being self caused.

    Now above you introduce the word "everything" and say the evidence does not point to the the self causation of everything.

    So as not to get lost here, let's return to the phrase "physical entitities". Are you now saying that the current evidence does point to what was postulated in 1:2 ?



    The evidence however does support the existence of things that have no cause.


    I think I am going to find it an exercise to separate YOUR explanation from LemonJello's explanation.

    You say here evidence of some physical entities existed without any cause is what we observe.

    I am not sure that such an assumption is friendly to the whole scientific enterprise. As a friend of science I would assume you would assert that causes can be determined eventually, given enough science exploration, into all physical entities. That is at least as far as it is possible for our scientific tools to discover.


    Virtual particles being one example.

    The big bang singularity is potentially another.


    Are you suggesting that scientist should just STOP exploring why virtual particles pop in and out of existence for an extremely minute bit of time ? We should STOP trying to discover how this happens ?

    Are you suggesting that scientists should just STOP exploring the cause of a Big Bang of the early universe ?

    I don't understand how one enthusiastic for science should suggest there is nothing more to study about these things. Of course science will continue to unlock the cause of virtual particles for better or for worst.

    Do you feel we've arrived at the answer, virtual particles appear and disappear uncaused ?


    Also the current popular hypotheses in cosmology (candidates for replacing the standard model) nearly all have the
    universe existing before the big bang and in fact they typically have the universe (or the multiverse depending on
    how you frame it) existing forever. In which case there is no 'first cause' because there are chains of cause and effect going back forever.


    The mathematical difficulty in that is it postulates that it took infinity to traverse an beginningless chain of events to arrive at today.

    But the existence of NOW and TODAY suggests that a finite amount of time from some starting point of time was traversed. Traversing infinity would never arrive at now according to some mathematicians mind you, and not theologians.


    However even if time is not infinite there are examples (including virtual particles) of things that have no cause (or none
    that we can detect)


    The ones that we cannot detect - maybe we should continue to examine. Are you against further science study to see if they can be detected ?


    which means that the evidence points in the opposite direction to the claim that everything must have a cause and nothing can cause itself.


    I think you don't realize that your attitude does damage to the scientific enterprise.

    I think had we had such an attitude 300 years ago maybe we would say there is no need to study what is the cause of the Northern Lights or the changing of the Ocean Tides. Ie. "These we have found are simply UNCAUSED. So we can just STOP trying to discover the causes here."
  12. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    01 Apr '12 19:30
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I am struggling to see where this comes from.
    Where does the argument progress from physical entities to non-physical entities?
    Can non physical entities 'exist'? Are there any examples of such entities?
    Can non physical entities 'cause' physical entities? Are there any known examples of this or any reason whatsoever to believe that this is the case?
    ...[text shortened]... as not caused by another physical entity, then why assume an non-physical entity as a cause?
    1.C is the conclusion that follows from the conjunction of premises 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3. I would roughly grant DW that his argument is valid; that is, I would roughly grant him that his conclusion does follow from his premises. In short, considering the thing that 1.C refers to: from premises 1.1 & 1.3, this thing exists and does not owe its existence to something else; and then from that conjoined with premise 1.2, it is also not the case that this thing is physical (hence, it is non-physical). So, it seems to me that his argument is valid. Of course, I would urge you to read the essay and see if you agree (a) with my summary of his argument and (b) that his argument is valid.

    Of course, I do not think his argument is sound, since I see no good reason to accept 1.2 and 1.3 (I would if anything see reason to reject both of them).

    Can non physical entities 'exist'? Are there any examples of such entities?
    Can non physical entities 'cause' physical entities? Are there any known examples of this or any reason whatsoever to believe that this is the case?
    If we were to conclude (as is attempted earlier in the argument) that there must be a physical entity that was not caused by another physical entity, then why assume an non-physical entity as a cause?


    I will play the devil's advocate and answer these as I think DW would, taken in response to his argument:

    Can non physical entities 'exist'?

    Yes. My argument shows that at least one DOES exist.

    Are there any examples of such entities?

    Yes. God is an example.

    Can non physical entities 'cause' physical entities?

    Yes. Again, my argument shows this.

    Are there any known examples of this or any reason whatsoever to believe that this is the case?

    You have plenty reason to believe it: just see my argument.

    If we were to conclude (as is attempted earlier in the argument) that there must be a physical entity that was not caused by another physical entity, then why assume an non-physical entity as a cause?

    That would simply follow directly, given my other premises. Please look at my premises again. They explicitly state that every physical entity depends on the causal activity of something else. If some physical entity was not caused by any other physical entities, it still follows from my premises that this physical entity was caused by something. If this something is not physical, then the only other option is that this something is non-physical, since the combination of the physical and the non-physical is exhaustive.

    ------
    I guess my point with playing the devil's advocate here is that I do not see how these questions are good responses to DW's argument. I think we should just directly attack his premises. (Of course, if you have some argument that shows that non-physical entities cannot exist; or that they cannot factor in the causal explanation of physical entities; then that would clearly be devastating to DW's argument.)
  13. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    01 Apr '12 19:361 edit
    Originally posted by jaywill
    Do you think that the elements that are "simply brute" will one day be discovered ?

    What do you mean by elements that are "metaphysically random" ?
    I am not sure. However, when I consider strong versions of the principle of sufficient reason, I am left wondering how it could possibly be satisfied. I have trouble understanding how, even in principle, there could be no elements or aspects of reality that are brute. At any rate, I am wondering where in DW's argument he justifies the blanket rejection of brute physical entities. I see nothing in his argument that addresses this.

    By metaphysically random I am talking about uncaused or at least without causally sufficient antecedents. How are we to treat such things within DW's argument? It would seem his argument flies in the face of, say, studies regarding the quantum realm.
  14. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    01 Apr '12 20:45
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    1.C is the conclusion that follows from the conjunction of premises 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3.
    I get it now.
    I would question 1.2 and ask:
    a) Does every entity of physical reality owe its existence to another element of physical reality? If so, then the whole argument results in a contradiction proving the premises wrong.
    b) If some elements of physical reality owe their existence to non-physical entities, then do we have known examples of this? If this is purely known based on the conclusion of the argument, then I would think that knowing the validity of 1.2 would be impossible. I find it circular.
  15. Joined
    29 Dec '08
    Moves
    6788
    01 Apr '12 23:05
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Here is the Dallas Willard essay link again:

    http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=42

    DW opens with some discussion about some argument that he attributes to Nielsen. DW appears here to be defending against some version of theological noncognitivism. Since I am also generally not a noncognitivist regarding theological discourse, I gue ...[text shortened]... is a problem here.

    Before we move to Stages 2 or 3, what is your take on Stage 1?
    This would be better with a thread title that is easier to remember, so as to know where to look.

    Some comments.

    "Every entity of physical reality owes its existence to something other than itself."

    That awfully anthropomorphic. I think it has to start with this: "Apparently, every physical state of affairs E(n) that is instantiated, is preceded spatio-temporally by a different physical state of affairs E(n-1) such that the instantiation of E(n-1) is sufficient for the instantiation of E(n). The manifold of states of physical states of affairs preceding E(n) we call its physical provenance.

    This is a basic tenet of science and courtroom drama.

    Then: "But modern cosmology suggests that there cannot be an spatio-temporally unlimited series of physical states of affairs culminating in any given E(n). Therefore, we must posit that a physical state of affairs was instantiated that was not preceded by a physical state of affairs. Call it E(0).

    The question now is, what are we rationally compelled to say about E(0)'s non-physical provenance?
Back to Top