Jump to content

Do Theists and Atheists Fight Fair?


Recommended Posts

A materialist believes in the laws of conservation of matter and energy. Beginnings don't have to enter into it.

 

 

Yes, that is a clever way to cover for the double standard, but does nothing to address the infinite recursion. It is a non answer. The scientific answer would be that it is unknown how matter and energy came into existence in the first place but some assume it always has been in one form or another. Current evidence indicates that the matter in this universe had a beginning in a singularity but the first and final cause is beyond our means to explore. Your response is an example of how many atheists apply double standards.

Edited by cypress
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 148
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

agreed     Yes, I but I don't think a metaphysical approach is rigorous enough to go to bat for that particular claim. That's my opinion though, I'm biased because I'm a strict materialist and ha

We should also note current philosophy on causation. Normally, I'd post a link for the following quote, but I couldn't find it anywhere on the net, so I typed out the passage myself.   From Freedom

What double standard?

Yes, that is a clever way to cover for the double standard, but does nothing to address the infinite recursion. It is a non answer. The scientific answer would be that it is unknown how matter and energy came into existence in the first place but some assume it always has been in one form or another. Current evidence indicates that the matter in this universe had a beginning in a singularity but the first and final cause is beyond our means to explore. Your response is an example of how many atheists apply double standards.

You argued that everything has beginnings. I pointed out that they don't, because of conservation laws, and that nothing in fact begins or ends, so your initial claim that material "must have a beginning" because of overwhelming evidence is wrong.

 

My answer does nothing to address how the universe came into existence (or how it has stayed in existence infinitely) because no answer is yet known. I'm sure you're aware that there are many theories involving a cyclical universe, and the evidence has yet to point strongly in one direction or another.

 

A wise atheist would merely say "eh, I dunno" when asked about the beginning of the universe. That is not a double standard.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You argued that everything has beginnings. I pointed out that they don't, because of conservation laws, and that nothing in fact begins or ends, so your initial claim that material "must have a beginning" because of overwhelming evidence is wrong.

It's like when WLC claims he can justify (1) of Kalam by inductive inference. Even given a valid method of induction(which is a HUGE given as no one has been able to find one thusfar), this is not the case. To take something from a specific case to a general case, one must have a specific case from which to generalize! We simply have no known instances of something being cause to exist ex nihilo. Any claim of induction on this matter is either ignorance or equivocation.

 

Conservation laws combined with several cosmological models do infact suggest that the universe COULD have an infinite past.

 

However, even if the universe began to exist ex nihilo, it does not imply it had a cause. If the total energy of universe is zero(which the cosmological background radiation data suggests), then the universe very well could have popped into existence causelessly.

 

So, what he have here is that (1) is completely unsupported and (2) could go either way. Kalam isn't a scientific argument; it merely pretends to be.

 

The truth of my statement does not depend on the definition of supernatural. Theists make science based and evidence based arguments. Your claim is false and yet another example of how atheists don't fight fair.

 

Cypress, since Kalam obviously isn't the scientific argument for theism that you claimed theists use, care to provide the one you claimed exists?

Edited by ydoaPs
Link to post
Share on other sites

Cypress, I don't think your attempt to make 'congruence with the evidence' the sole criterion for hypotheses-formation can work, since there are always in principle an infinite number of explanatory constructs which can be consistent with any piece of evidence. Thus to return to the example of explaining why flicking a light switch turns on the lights in a room, saying that the invisible light fairy is startled out of its slumbers by the noise of the flicking switch and so it brings out its invisible lantern to illuminate the room is perfectly congruent with the data to be explained. The reason why it is rejected as an explanation, however, is that as an account it fails to meet the seven standards of disciplined hypothesis-formation -- which are necessary to ensure that extraneous or unreliable explanatory entities are not posited -- which I set out much earlier in this thread, and which essentially amount to those required by positivism.

 

The standard paradox of induction (also known as Hume's problem) is sometimes presented in the example of the train coming into the station every day at 4 P.M. If we just use 'congruence with the evidence' to explain why the train always arrives at 4 P.M., we could infer that it is the hand of the clock moving to '4' which pulls the train into the station. Millions of things in the environment are always 'congruent with the evidence,' the goal of science has to be to apply positivistic criteria to screen out the unreasonable explanatory hypotheses.

 

The superiority of materialist explanations for phenomena establishes that they are always the default explanations in every case until it can be rigorously established that the data absolutely require that materialistic/mechanistic explanatory hypotheses cannot be used. The superiority of materialist explanations is based on the following factors:

 

1) They are always publicly accessible to all observers, since they can be seen, touched, and measured.

2) They are consistent with the type of explanation always preferred in everyday life. If the money is missing from the bank vault, it is theoretically possible that the Tooth Fairy stole it, but no detective would ever suggest that.

3) Materialistic hypotheses can always be operationalized, tested, and replicated by other scientists.

4) Materialistic hypothesis are easily subjected to the criteria of explanatory economy, since we can easily determine what are the minimum materialistic and mechanistic forces required to produce the phenomenon to be accounted for. In contrast, non-materialistic hypotheses cannot be controlled and pared down to the requirements of Occam's Razor by testing whether they constitute the minimum mechanism required to produce the phenomenon, since immaterial hypotheses escape the discilining control of having to fit into the ordinary framework constituted by the known rules of the interaction of matter and energy. For this reason, as soon as we allow non-material hypotheses to count in explanation, since they are controlled by no discipline of having to fit into the established frameworks of science, we open hypothesis-formation to an infinite regress of possible explanations which would paralyze all thinking.

 

Thus: Why did the light come on when I flicked the switch? The light fairy unmasked her magic lantern at the signal. Or did the light gremlin direct the sun god to shine in the room? Or did the ghost of deceased light particles suddenly revive as the sound of the switch flicking reminded him of the good old days? etc., etc. The debates would never end and all theorizing would bog down in an uncontrollable proliferation of immaterial hypotheses.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thus: Why did the light come on when I flicked the switch? The light fairy unmasked her magic lantern at the signal. Or did the light gremlin direct the sun god to shine in the room? Or did the ghost of deceased light particles suddenly revive as the sound of the switch flicking reminded him of the good old days? etc., etc. The debates would never end and all theorizing would bog down in an uncontrollable proliferation of immaterial hypotheses.

And that is why modus tollens and the scientific method are so important. We depend on falsification to eliminate what is NOT true! Those who say "You can't prove a negative!" don't know what they're talking about; science relies on proving negatives and eliminating them from the possible answers.

 

p->q

~q

~p

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Cypress, since Kalam obviously isn't the scientific argument for theism that you claimed theists use, care to provide the one you claimed exists?

 

Theists make many arguments. Some overextend what can be demonstrated by evidence and reason and these theists are not fighting fair when they make such claims. Likewise many atheists offer explanations that overextend what they can demonstrate by evidence. Arguing or even implying that material and energy has always existed is an example of an argument many atheists make that cannot be supported and thus is an example of the context of this thread. Supported arguments seem to be off topic according to the moderator as was pointed out several posts back. I believe that site rules prevent me from responding to your apparently off topic question unless the moderation remark is withdrawn and a moderator provides clarification of this point.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Theists make many arguments.

You claimed they make scientific arguments for theism. Show me one.

 

Arguing or even implying that material and energy has always existed is an example of an argument many atheists make that cannot be supported
Sure it can be supported. It's a logical consequence of thermodynamics unless you can provide a mechanism for breaking it.

 

Supported arguments seem to be off topic according to the moderator as was pointed out several posts back. I believe that site rules prevent me from responding to your apparently off topic question unless the moderation remark is withdrawn and a moderator provides clarification of this point.

While the moderators explicitly refuted this 'point' a few posts back, I copied/merged a few of my posts to make a new thread for you so you can't use this as an excuse any longer. I also made sure to quote your post so that(unless you turned it off), you will get a notification.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure it can be supported. It's a logical consequence of thermodynamics unless you can provide a mechanism for breaking it.

 

You are citing a physical law that is only known to apply back to one plank period after the singularity and therefore cannot necessarily be extended any further back. Attempting to extend physical laws beyond their realm is yet another way you don't fight fair.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You are citing a physical law that is only known to apply back to one plank period after the singularity and therefore cannot necessarily be extended any further back. Attempting to extend physical laws beyond their realm is yet another way you don't fight fair.

 

You're the one claiming that everything needs cause and/or beginning, and trying to apply it to the same period.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You are citing a physical law that is only known to apply back to one plank period after the singularity and therefore cannot necessarily be extended any further back. Attempting to extend physical laws beyond their realm is yet another way you don't fight fair.

Notice that I did no such thing. I clearly used the qualifier "unless you can provide a mechanism for breaking it."

Link to post
Share on other sites

You're the one claiming that everything needs cause and/or beginning, and trying to apply it to the same period.

 

Cause and effect is a logical construct is it not? Can we say that the law of cause and effect breaks down at one plank time? If not, then I remain on firm ground, If so, then I sometimes don't fight fair either.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cause and effect is a logical construct is it not?

What makes you think that cause and effect applies to the beginning of the universe? Must a canvas have the properties of the paints used on it?

 

Indeed, it doesn't make much sense to speak of causes for actions of non-existent things. How can you cause something which does not exist to do anything, let alone begin to exist?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cause and effect is a logical construct is it not? Can we say that the law of cause and effect breaks down at one plank time? If not, then I remain on firm ground, If so, then I sometimes don't fight fair either.

 

Is it? In searching the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, I can't find any consensus on causality -- there's even discussion of backward causation (i.e. future causing past events) being logically plausible.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cause and effect is a logical construct is it not? Can we say that the law of cause and effect breaks down at one plank time? If not, then I remain on firm ground, If so, then I sometimes don't fight fair either.

 

Can we say that the law of cause and effect applies to the real world right now? My understanding is that to the best of our knowledge it does not. Although for macroscopic objects we can say with huge statistical certainty that effects have causes, at the quantum level it seems that effects have no cause, and that there is true randomness.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Can we say that the law of cause and effect applies to the real world right now? My understanding is that to the best of our knowledge it does not. Although for macroscopic objects we can say with huge statistical certainty that effects have causes, at the quantum level it seems that effects have no cause, and that there is true randomness.

One might even argue that 'cause and effect' is largely a human construct. Dennett breaks down the different aspects of causality in Freedom Evolves. One might be able to say speak of causal sufficiency retrospectively by observing interactions between systems, but I'm not sure particles behaving how they behave really coincides with 'cause and effect' as it is used by lay people. Events can have one cause, many causes, or no discernible cause.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Can we say that the law of cause and effect applies to the real world right now? My understanding is that to the best of our knowledge it does not. Although for macroscopic objects we can say with huge statistical certainty that effects have causes, at the quantum level it seems that effects have no cause, and that there is true randomness.

 

Equivocating cause and effect through citation to behaviors at the quantum level that are far from understood is another way that many atheists don't fight fair. I find it to be odd and unsupported to claim that random outcomes don't have causes, typical of attempts to overextend an argument.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Equivocating cause and effect through citation to behaviors at the quantum level that are far from understood is another way that many atheists don't fight fair. I find it to be odd and unsupported to claim that random outcomes don't have causes, typical of attempts to overextend an argument.

 

If you found fault with the Bell's Inequality experiments, please describe it. Otherwise, why assume that what I said is an overextended argument rather than a statement about our current knowledge?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Supported arguments seem to be off topic according to the moderator as was pointed out several posts back. I believe that site rules prevent me from responding to your apparently off topic question unless the moderation remark is withdrawn and a moderator provides clarification of this point.

While the moderators explicitly refuted this 'point' a few posts back, I copied/merged a few of my posts to make a new thread for you so you can't use this as an excuse any longer. I also made sure to quote your post so that(unless you turned it off), you will get a notification.

 

It seems I must have done something wrong whilst making the thread. I have since recreated it and ensured it worked.

 

I'll get back on causality once I finish eating and go find my books.

Edited by ydoaPs
Link to post
Share on other sites

Can we say that the law of cause and effect applies to the real world right now? My understanding is that to the best of our knowledge it does not. Although for macroscopic objects we can say with huge statistical certainty that effects have causes, at the quantum level it seems that effects have no cause, and that there is true randomness.

We should also note current philosophy on causation. Normally, I'd post a link for the following quote, but I couldn't find it anywhere on the net, so I typed out the passage myself.

 

From Freedom Evolves by Daniel Dennett:

Causation

 

Finally, what about causation? Some philosophers hope someday to unearth the one "true" account of causation, but given the informal, vague, often self-contradictory nature of the term, we think a more realistic goal is simply to develop a formal analogue (or analogues) that helps us think more clearly about the world. Our preexisting hunches about causation will provide some guidance, but we should mistrust any informal arguments that masquerade as "proofs" validating or debunking particular causal doctrines.2 When we make an assertion like

 

(10)Bill's tripping Arthur caused him to fall.

 

a number of factors appear to be at work supporting the claim. In an approximate order of importance, we list the following:

 

  • Causal necessity. Our assent to sentence (10) depends on our convition that had Bill not tripped Arthur, he would not have fallen. Using the interpretation of counterfactuals just given, we choose set X, the set of worlds similar to our own, as a set including worlds in which (i)Bill trips Arthur; worlds in which (ii)Bill doesn't trip him; worlds in which (iii)Aurther falls; and worlds in which (iv) he doesn't fall. And we check to make sure that in this set X, in all the worlds where Arthur falls, Bill tripped him.
  • Causal sufficiency. It may well be that whenever we affirm (10), we do so partly because we believe that Arthur's fall was an inevitable outcome of Bill's tripping: In any world where Bill places the obstruction in his path, Arthur goes toppling. (There's that word "inevitable," and it does mean unavoidable here:Arthur-for one reason or another-cannot avoid falling, and Arthur's friends cannot prevent him from falling, and there's nothing else in the offing to interfere with his falling, and so forth; gravity will not be defied on this occasion.) This second condition is logically entirely distinct from the first, and yet the two seem to get badly muddled in everyday thinking. Indeed, as we shall see, confusion often originates precisely here. Below we will discuss at greater length the relations between these two conditions.
  • Independence. We expect the two sentences A and C to be logically independent. That is, in possible-world terms, there must exist worlds, however remoste from reality, in which A obtains but not C and vice versa. Hence "Mary's singing and dancing caused her to dance and sing" has a decidedly odd ring. This condition also helps rule out "1+1=2 causes 2+2=4."
  • Temporal priority. A reliable way to distinguish causes from effects is to note that causes occur earlier. (Maven alert.)
  • Miscellaneous further criteria. Although less critical than the preceding points, a number of other conditions may increase our confidence when we make causal judgments. For instance, in textbook examples of causation, A often describes the actions of an agent, and C represents a change in the state of a passive object(as in "Mary causes the house to burn down"). Further, we often expect the two participants to come into physical contact during their transaction.

 

In order to understand these conditions better, let's try them out on a few test cases, some of which derive from Lewis(200). First consider the sharpshooter aiming at a distant victim. Suppose that scrutiny of the sharpshooter's past record shows that the probability of a successful hit in this case is 0.1; if you think it makes any difference, we might imagine that irreducibly random quantum events in the intervening air, or in the sharpshooter's brain, help determine the outcome. Let us suppose that in the current case the bullet actually hits and kills the victim. We unhesitantly agree then that the sharpshooter's actions caused the victim's death, despite their causal insufficiency. Accordingly, it appears that at least in cases like these, people rank necessity above sufficiency when making judgments about causes.

 

Still, sufficiency does retain some relevance. Suppose that the king and the mayor both have an interest in the fate of some young dissident; as it happens, both issue orders to exile him, so exiled he is. This is a classic case of overdetermination. Let A1 stand for "the king issues an exile order," A2 stand for "the mayor issues an exile order," and C, "the dissident goes into exile." In this scenario, neither A1 nor A2 alone is necessary for C: For instance, had the king failed to issue any order, the dissident would still have to be exiled thanks to the mayor, and vice versa. Instead, sufficiency comes to the rescue and permits a choice between the two. In this instance A2 fails the test: It is easy to imagine a universe where the mayor issues his decree, yet the dissident gets off(just change the king's order to a pardon). The kings's order, on the other hand, is truly effective; whatever small changes we make to the universe (including changes in the mayor's orders), the dissident's exile follows from the king's command. Accordingly we may dub A1 the "real cause" (if we feel the need to satisfy the yearning).

 

Finally, consider the tale of Billy and Susie. Both children are throwing rocks at the glass bottle, and, as it happens, Susie's rock, traveling slightly faster, reaches the bottle first and shatters it. Billy's rock arrives a moment later at exactly the spot where the bottle used to stand, but of course encounters nothing but flying shards. When choosing between A1("Susie throws rock S") and A2("Billy throws rock B"), we vote for A1 as the cause of C ("The bottle shatters"), despite the fact that neither sentence is necessary (had Susie not thrown her rock, the bottle would still have shattered thanks to Billy, and vice versa) and both are sufficient (Billy's throw suffices to produce a broken bottle, whatever his playmate does, and likewise with Susie's. Why? The general notion of temporal priority (introduced above in connection with distinguishing cause from effect) strikes us as one critical consideration. As with priority disputes in science, art, and sports, we seem to put a premium on being the first with an innovation, and since rock S arrived in the vicinity of the bottle earlier than rock B, we give credit to Susie. Further, it is clear that, although the bottle would still have shattered without Susie's throw, the shattering event would have been significantly different, occurring at a later time with different rock sending fragments off in different directions. (Notice that this problem arises precisely because we've leaped up to the everyday ontology of bottles and breakings, and their vexed identity conditions. What is to count as the "same effect" is the problem here, not any underlying uncertainty about what happened.)

 

We can choose set X to reflect this fact (in keeping with the Guidelines):Let it contain worlds in which either (1) the bottle doesn't shatter at all, or (2) it shatters in a way very similar to the way it shatters in reality. Then for every world in X,

 

C=>A2

 

may well fail in X; X can certainly contain worlds where the bottle shatters but Billy refrains from throwing. In short, A1 is "more necessary" than A2 provided that we choose X right. The vagueness of X, though sometimes irksome, can also break deadlocks.

 

Not that deadlocks must always be breakable. We ought to look with equanimity on the prospect that sometimes circumstances will fail to pinpoint a single "real cause" of an event, no matter how hard we seek. A case in point is the classic law school riddle:

 

Everybody in the French Foreign Legion outpost hates Fred and wants him dead. During the night before Fred's trek across the desert, Tom poisons the water in his canteen. Then, Dick, not knowing of Tom's intervention, pours out the (poisoned) water and replaces it with sand. Finally, Harry comes along and pokes holes in the canteen, so that the "water" will slowly run out. Later, Fred awakens and sets out on his trek, provisioned with his canteen. Too late he finds his canteen is nearly empty, but besides, what remains is sand, not water, not even poisoned water. Fred dies of thirst. Who caused his death?3

 

Many will feel a temptation to insist that there must be an answer to this question and others like it. It is certainly true that we can agree to legislate an answer if we feel we must, and some legislative proposals will no doubt be more attractive, more intuitive, than others, but it is not clear that there are any facts-about the way the world is, or about what we really mean, or even about what we really ought to mean-that would settle the issue.

 

2. These are fighting words to some philosophers, of course. Fine; we happily shift the burden of proof to them. If they can come up with some unproblematic, counter-example-free theory of the whole ordinary concept of causation, we will then compare our more modest, sketchy project to it and see whether we've left out anything important. Meanwhile, we can get on with our analysis using our partial account of what strikes us as most important aspects of the everyday concept.

 

3.A doubly elaborated version of the example due originally to McLaughlin (1925), first elaborated in Hart and Honoré (1959). The Hart and Honoré version has one less twist: "Suppose A is entering a desert. B secretly puts a fatal dose of poison in A's water keg. A takes the keg into the desert where C steals it; both A and C think it contains water. A dies of thirst. Who kills him?"

 

Let's go through that wall of text. We shall assume for argument's sake that (2) of the Kalam argument is true; the universe began to exist. Does this mean it has a cause? I think not.

 

1)Causal necessity. The God hypothesis and an uncaused flat universe are on even ground here; just like the example of the king and the mayor, neither alone are causally necessary.

2)Causal sufficiency. The God hypothesis is causally sufficient, but, as odd as it sounds, so is an uncaused universe.

3)Temporal priority is irrelevant as it is nonsense to speak of 'before' time.

 

So, barring further evidence, the God hypothesis and an uncaused flat universe are on equal ground as explanation for the origin of the universe......or are they? What about parsimony? Occam's razor seems to favor the uncaused flat universe.

 

WAIT A MINUTE! EVERYTHING THAT BEGINS TO EXIST HAS A CAUSE!

 

Does it? I see no justification for that statement.....at all. As I already said in this thread:

 

It's like when WLC claims he can justify (1) of Kalam by inductive inference. Even given a valid method of induction(which is a HUGE given as no one has been able to find one thusfar), this is not the case. To take something from a specific case to a general case, one must have a specific case from which to generalize! We simply have no known instances of something being cause to exist ex nihilo. Any claim of induction on this matter is either ignorance or equivocation.

Edited by ydoaPs
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.