1. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
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    31 Jan '08 12:07
    Causality is an area where theists are keen to posit the necessity of their god as being the first cause. If every effect needs a cause, you are, it seems, left in an endless causal chain. God is supposedly the only way out of that infinite regress, as he would be the original cause.

    So the theists tell us that if we accept that every effect has a cause, in order to rescue causality from the problem of infinite regression, every causal chain must necessarily originate with god. If there can be any causal chains which do not originate from god, then we simply do not need to posit god as being the first cause.

    Now fast forward to the present. If some calamity occurs, like a tsunami that wipes out 100,000+ people, or if a murderer shoots down a dozen people in a shopping mall, the theists are quick to claim that the causal chains which led to these events simply cannot be traced back to god. It would seem, in light of this, that there are causal chains which apparently do not have god as a first cause.

    If any causal chain can originate independently from god, then god fails as an explanation behind causality. In this case, either causal chains really are infinite, or they can have some other first source which is not god, which makes god completely superfluous.

    In order to rescue their god as being the ultimate first cause, the theists must claim that EVERY causal chain necessarily leads back to god. But the implications behind this are dire. For one, the universe would necessarily be a pre-determined one. There could be absolutely no room for "free will" there. God would be the ultimate cause behind everything, good, evil, and indifferent throughout the universe. God would be the ultimate cause behind every tsunami and mall shooting that ever occurred, or ever will occur.

    The only way the theist can unhinge their god from responsibility in these cases is to remove him as being the ultimate first cause. But the implications behind this are equally dire for them. For if god is not the originator of every causal chain, then causality simply has no need for god, and he can safely be dispensed with.

    So the theists are left with either a necessary, but cruel god, with a pre-determined universe, or with a completely unnecessary and ineffectual god whom we need take no further note of. Not an enviable choice.
  2. Cape Town
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    31 Jan '08 13:27
    Originally posted by rwingett
    So the theists are left with either a necessary, but cruel god, with a pre-determined universe, or with a completely unnecessary and ineffectual god whom we need take no further note of. Not an enviable choice.
    Excellent post.

    I believe knightmeister had an argument along the lines of:
    God gives us each a little bit of himself to do the causing.
    That way he can give us both free will and remain the first cause.
    I don't claim to understand the above argument all that well despite a large number of "freewill" and "first cause" threads on the matter by knightmeister. Lets hope he can give more clarity on the matter.
  3. Territories Unknown
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    31 Jan '08 19:00
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Causality is an area where theists are keen to posit the necessity of their god as being the first cause. If every effect needs a cause, you are, it seems, left in an endless causal chain. God is supposedly the only way out of that infinite regress, as he would be the original cause.

    So the theists tell us that if we accept that every effect has a cause ...[text shortened]... unnecessary and ineffectual god whom we need take no further note of. Not an enviable choice.
    So the theists are left with either a necessary, but cruel god, with a pre-determined universe, or with a completely unnecessary and ineffectual god whom we need take no further note of. Not an enviable choice.
    Or, theists are left with exactly what the Bible describes: a God of creation; a God of love; a God that knows the end from before the beginning; a God who (somehow) was able to do the un-doable: create another being with free will.

    Your example of the dreaded imperfect world 'proves' nothing more than an imperfect world and very little of its Creator. Congratulations: you have arrived at the exact point every other self-conscious human being is capable of (and bound to) arriving at; namely, this world is jacked up. Sans truth (revelation), you conclude the logical. Unfortunately, your logic does not free you, does not lessen your grief. Perhaps revelation is in order. Thankfully, it is available.
  4. Joined
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    31 Jan '08 19:26
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    [b]So the theists are left with either a necessary, but cruel god, with a pre-determined universe, or with a completely unnecessary and ineffectual god whom we need take no further note of. Not an enviable choice.
    Or, theists are left with exactly what the Bible describes: a God of creation; a God of love; a God that knows the end from before the begi ...[text shortened]... ou, does not lessen your grief. Perhaps revelation is in order. Thankfully, it is available.[/b]
    Your reply does not really adress the argument rwingett's post. Everything in this imperfect world must stem from the creator if there is one.
    I always thought this an interesting idea for another reason. Often an argument for God's cruelty is made something along the lines of 'god condems unbelievers to hell.' The responce is invariably that it is sinners who choise their fate with their free will. However, by the very act of creating us God removes our free will. He forces us to choose one of the options. Surely a loving God who does not want us to suffer and who has the knowleage of who would choose not to follow him, should not force the choice on those that would not follow him. Instead it would be a greater sign of love for him not to create us at all. I would sooner never have existed then suffer eternal torture.
  5. Pale Blue Dot
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    31 Jan '08 19:34
    Originally posted by Jake Ellison
    Your reply does not really adress the argument rwingett's post. Everything in this imperfect world must stem from the creator if there is one.
    I always thought this an interesting idea for another reason. Often an argument for God's cruelty is made something along the lines of 'god condems unbelievers to hell.' The responce is invariably that it is si ...[text shortened]... him not to create us at all. I would sooner never have existed then suffer eternal torture.
    A perfect God cannot create anything imperfect. If God created us and God is perfect then why are we flawed?

    (Carrying on from your idea, not arguing with it)
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    31 Jan '08 23:23
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Causality is an area where theists are keen to posit the necessity of their god as being the first cause. If every effect needs a cause, you are, it seems, left in an endless causal chain. God is supposedly the only way out of that infinite regress, as he would be the original cause.

    So the theists tell us that if we accept that every effect has a cause ...[text shortened]... unnecessary and ineffectual god whom we need take no further note of. Not an enviable choice.
    God created man in His image and likeness.

    As such, man is a free moral agent with volition.

    Man chose to disobey God.

    Now man reaps what he sows.

    You choose not to believe this.

    If there is no first cause, then all is left to chance. If everything is left to chance, then one is simply an automaton.
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    31 Jan '08 23:43
    Originally posted by josephw
    God created man in His image and likeness.

    As such, man is a free moral agent with volition.

    Man chose to disobey God.

    Now man reaps what he sows.

    You choose not to believe this.

    If there is no first cause, then all is left to chance. If everything is left to chance, then one is simply an automaton.
    God forces man to make a choise. If he truly gives us freewill then he should surely give us a choise in our own existance. Clearly this is impossible, as we can't make a choise unless we exist. So we don't have free will by the fact that we exist. I would choose non existance over hell. Would God give me the free will to make this desision?
  8. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    31 Jan '08 23:44
    Originally posted by josephw
    God created man in His image and likeness.

    As such, man is a free moral agent with volition.

    Man chose to disobey God.

    Now man reaps what he sows.

    You choose not to believe this.

    If there is no first cause, then all is left to chance. If everything is left to chance, then one is simply an automaton.
    If there is no first cause, then all is left to chance.

    Don't be ridiculous. There's still room for an infinite causal chain without a first cause.
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    01 Feb '08 00:131 edit
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    [b]If there is no first cause, then all is left to chance.

    Don't be ridiculous. There's still room for an infinite causal chain without a first cause.[/b]
    Or even a fundamental constant. For example energy might have existed forever (remembering no time pre big bang). We seem to automatically expect nothing to be the most basic fundamental level, and that something comes from nothing to be the first step. Then we assume Gods existance. Why should we not assume that energy is the base level of reality? After all matter is energy, so if energy was constant then there would be no paradox of something coming from nothing.
    Anyway, the most important thing we know about the beginning of the universe is that its potentailly hugely different to anything we can even speculate about it. God is a hugely illogical step to make. Even if we accepted that there had to be a first cause, what is it about the first cause that would make it need to even be aware (or willful) or intelligent? All you need is somthing that was not itself made that causes everything else. Prehaps energy is God. And the addition of human characterisitics to any concept of God or the idea of an afterlife is frankly ridiculous.
  10. The Fearful Sphere
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    01 Feb '08 10:36
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    [b]If there is no first cause, then all is left to chance.

    Don't be ridiculous. There's still room for an infinite causal chain without a first cause.[/b]
    There's still room for an infinite causal chain without a first cause.

    I doubt there is room for an "infinite causal chain without a first cause." Have you ever heard of entropy?

    The second law of thermodynamics states that the amount of energy in a system that is available to do work is decreasing. Entropy increases as available energy decreases. In other words, the purely natural tendency of things is to move toward chaos, not order, and available energy necessary for work is lost (mostly as heat) in this process. Eventually, the universe will run down and all life and motion will cease. This is the natural tendency of all things. Batteries run down, machines break, buildings crumble, roads decay, living things die, etc. Left to the natural state, all things would eventually cease to function.

    1. If the universe were infinitely old, it would have reached a state where all usable energy is gone.

    2. But, we are not in this state; therefore, the universe is not infinitely old and must have had a beginning.
  11. Pale Blue Dot
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    01 Feb '08 10:58
    Originally posted by Jorge Borges
    [b]There's still room for an infinite causal chain without a first cause.

    I doubt there is room for an "infinite causal chain without a first cause." Have you ever heard of entropy?

    The second law of thermodynamics states that the amount of energy in a system that is available to do work is decreasing. Entropy increases as available energy de ...[text shortened]... t in this state; therefore, the universe is not infinitely old and must have had a beginning.[/b]
    What about the Oscillating Universe theory? Doesn't this satisfy the second law of thermodynamics and also do away with the causality problem?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscillatory_universe

    Also of interest - Eternal Recurrence:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_return
  12. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
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    01 Feb '08 11:35
    Originally posted by Green Paladin
    What about the Oscillating Universe theory? Doesn't this satisfy the second law of thermodynamics and also do away with the causality problem?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscillatory_universe

    Also of interest - Eternal Recurrence:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_return
    For Nietzsche, at least, eternal recurrence isn't meant to be taken literally. Rather, he felt people should live their lives as though they would re-occur eternally.
  13. The Fearful Sphere
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    01 Feb '08 11:37
    Originally posted by Green Paladin
    What about the Oscillating Universe theory? Doesn't this satisfy the second law of thermodynamics and also do away with the causality problem?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscillatory_universe

    Also of interest - Eternal Recurrence:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_return
    I believe the oscillatory universe concept has been roundly rejected by physicists, due primarily to the discovery that the universe is not "closed," i.e. it will not eventually collapse upon itself. Whether or not the idea of eternal recurrence "does away with" the causality problem is up to you. I don't think it does, personally.
  14. Cape Town
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    01 Feb '08 11:51
    Originally posted by Jorge Borges
    The second law of thermodynamics states that the amount of energy in a system that is available to do work is decreasing. Entropy increases as available energy decreases. In other words, the purely natural tendency of things is to move toward chaos, not order, and available energy necessary for work is lost (mostly as heat) in this process. Eventually, ...[text shortened]... ving things die, etc. Left to the natural state, all things would eventually cease to function.
    Oh no. Not another person who thinks he understands entropy (but doesn't). So where did all those batteries, machines, buildings, living things etc come from may I ask? And do you honestly know enough about entropy to correctly apply it to the universe as a whole? I thought not.
  15. Cape Town
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    01 Feb '08 11:53
    Originally posted by Jorge Borges
    I believe the oscillatory universe concept has been roundly rejected by physicists, due primarily to the discovery that the universe is not "closed," i.e. it will not eventually collapse upon itself. Whether or not the idea of eternal recurrence "does away with" the causality problem is up to you. I don't think it does, personally.
    That is not a 'discovery' but a hypothesis. As far as I know there is no solid theory as to why the universe is expanding in the first place. Until that is known, one can really only guess at whether it will continue to do so.
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