Ukraine flag Armor Games stands with Ukraine Ukraine flag
If you’d like to help, please consider giving to Ukraine Crisis Fund

ForumsWEPRNew Proofs Of God

180 49720
Ntech
offline
Ntech
258 posts
Shepherd

@Hahiha @Doombreed
Of our Knowledge of the Existence of a God
(John Locke, Concerning Human Understanding: Chapter X, pages 349 – 351)
(Articles I – VI, VIII)

I. We are capable of knowing certainly that there is a God. Though God has given us no innate ideas of Himself,; though He has stamped no original characters on our minds, wherein we may read His being; yet having furnished us with those faculties our minds are endowed with, He hath not left Himself without witness: since we have sense, perception, and reason, and cannot want a clear proof of Him, as long as we carry ourselves about us...

II. For man knows that he himself exists. I think it is beyond question, that man has a clear idea of his own being; he knows certainly that he exists, and that he is something. He that can doubt whether he be anything or no, I speak not to; no more than I would argue with pure nothing, or endeavor to convince a nonentity that it were something. If any one pretends to be so skeptical as to deny his own existence, (for really to doubt of it is manifestly impossible,) let him for me enjoy his beloved happiness of being nothing, until hunger or some other pain convince him of the contrary. This, then, I think I may take for a truth, which every one’s certain knowledge assures him of, beyond the liberty of doubting, viz. That he is something that actually exists. [Note well the meaning of “actually,” that is, something that is actual vs. that which does not exist.]

III. He knows also that nothing cannot produce a being; therefore something must have existed from eternity. In the next place, man knows, by an intuitive certainty, that bare nothing can no more produce any real being, than it can be equal to two right angles. If a man knows not that nonentity, or the absence of all being, cannot be equal to two right angles, it is impossible he should know any demonstration in Euclid. If, therefore, we know there is some real being, and that nonentity cannot produce any real being, it is an evident demonstration, that from eternity there has been something; since what was not from eternity had a beginning; and what had a beginning must be produced by something else.

IV. And that eternal Being must be most powerful. Next, it is evident, that what had its being and beginning from another, must also have all that which is in and belongs to its being from another too. All the powers it has must be owing to and received from the same source. This eternal source, then, of all being must also be the source and origin of all power; and so this eternal Being must also be the most powerful.

V. And most knowing. Again, a man finds in himself perception and knowledge. We have then got one step further; and we are certain now that there is not only some being, but some knowing, intelligent being in the world. There was a time, then, where was no knowing being and when knowledge began to be; or else there has been also a knowing being from eternity.

If it be said, there was a time when no being had any knowledge, when that eternal being was void of understanding; I reply, that then it was impossible there should ever have been any knowledge: it being as impossible that things wholly void of knowledge, and operating blindly, and without any perception, should produce a knowing being, as it is impossible that a triangle should make itself three angles bigger than two right ones. For it is as repugnant to the idea of senseless matter, that it should put into itself sense, perception, and knowledge, as it is repugnant to the idea of a triangle, that it should put into itself greater angles than two right ones.

VI. And therefore God. Thus, from the consideration of ourselves, and what we infallibly find in our own constitutions, our reason leads us to the knowledge of this certain and evident truth, – That there is an eternal, most powerful, and most knowing Being; which whether any one will please to call God, it matters not. The thing is evident; and from this idea duly considered, will easily be deduced all those other attributes, which we ought to ascribe to this eternal Being.

If, nevertheless, any one should be found so senselessly arrogant, as to suppose man alone knowing and wise, but yet the product of mere ignorance and chance; and that all the rest of the universe acted only by that blind haphazard; I shall leave him that very rational and emphatical rebuke of Tully (1. ii. De Leg.), to be considered at his leisure: “What can be more sillily arrogant and mis-becoming, than for a man to think that he has a mind and understanding in him, but yet in all the universe beside there is no such thing? Or that those things, which with the utmost stretch of his reason he can scarce comprehend, should be moved and managed without any reason at all?” Quid est enim verius, quam neminem esse oportere tam stulte arrogantem, ut in se mentem et rationem putet inesse, in caelo mundoque non putet? Aut ea quae vic summa ingenii [ingenī] ratione comprehendat, nulla ratione moveri puter?

From what has been said, it is plain to me we have a more certain knowledge of the existence of a God, than of anything our senses have not immediately discovered to us. Nay, I presume I may say, that we more certainly know that there is a God, than that there is anything else without us. When I say we know, I mean there is such a knowledge within our reach which we cannot miss, if we will but apply our minds to that…

VIII. Recapitulation – something from eternity. There is no truth more evident than that something must be from eternity. I never yet heard of any one so unreasonable, or that could suppose so manifest a contradiction, as a time wherein there was perfectly nothing. This being of all absurdities the greatest, to imagine that pure nothing, the perfect negation and absence of all beings [Id est, the complete absence of actualities], should ever produce any real existence. [Id est, actualities have potential, where there is no actualities there is no potential, nor can there ever be.]

Of God – His Existence
(Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics, Part I)

DEFINITIONS

1. BY CAUSE of itself, I understand that, [a Being] whose essence involves existence; or that, [a Being] whose nature cannot be conceived unless existing.

2. That thing is called FINITE in its own kind (in suo genere) which can be limited by another thing of the same nature. For example, a body is called finite, because we [may] always conceive another which is greater. So a thought is limited by another thought; but a body is not limited by a thought, not a thought by a body.

3. BY SUBSTANCE, I understand that which is in itself and is conceived through itself; in other words, that, the conception of which does not need the conception of another thing from which it must be formed.

4. BY ATTRIBUTE, I understand that which the intellect perceives of substance, as if constituting its essence [constituting the essence of a substance, not the intellect].

5. BY MODE, I understand the affections of substance, or that which is in another thing through which also it is conceived.

6. BY GOD, I understand Being absolutely infinite, that is to say, [a] substance consisting of infinite attributes, each one of which expresses eternal and infinite essence.

Explanation. I say absolutely infinite but not infinite in its own kind (in suo genere); for of whatever is infinite only in its own kind (in suo genere), we can deny infinite attributes; but to the essence of that which is absolutely infinite pertains whatever expresses essence and involves no negation.

7. That thing is called FREE which exists from the necessity of its own nature alone, and is determined to action by itself alone. That thing, on the other hand, is called necessary, or rather compelled, which by another is determined to existence and action in a fixed and prescribed manner.

8. BY ETERNITY, I understand existence itself, so far as it is conceived necessarily to follow from the definition alone of the eternal thing.

Explanation. For such existence, like the essence of the thing, is conceived as an eternal truth. It cannot therefore be explained by duration or time, even if the duration be conceived without beginning or end.

AXIOMS

1. Everything which is, is either in itself or in another.

2. That which cannot be conceived through another must be conceived through itself.

3. From a given determinate cause an effect necessarily follows; and, on the other hand, if no determinate cause be given, it is impossible that an effect can follow.

4. The knowledge (cognitio) of an effect depends upon and involves the knowledge of the cause.

5. Those things which have nothing mutually in common with one another cannot through one another be mutually understood, that is to say, the conception of the other. [A blind man cannot understand the sense of sight merely through the sense of hearing; nor can a deaf man understand the sense of hearing merely through the sense of sight.]

6. A true idea must agree with that of which it is the idea (*** suo ideato).

7. The essence of that thing which can be conceived as not existing does not involve existence.

PROPOSITIONS

PROPOSITION 1. Substance is by its nature prior to its affections.
DEMONSTRATION. This is evident from Definitions 3 and 5. [That is to say, nothing can have no affections.]

PROPOSITION 2. Two substances having different attributes have nothing in common with one another.
DEMONSTRATION. This is also evident from Definition 3. For each substance must be in itself and must be conceived through itself, that is to say, the conception of one does not involve the conception of the other. [That is to say, if two substances – which are wholly independent of each other – have different attributes, it is self evident that they share nothing in common – the opposite of proper – with each other.] Q.E.D.

PROPOSITION 3. If two things have nothing in common with one another, one cannot be the cause of the other.
DEMONSTRATION. If they have nothing mutually common with one another, they cannot (Axiom 5) through one another be mutually understood, and therefore (Axiom 4) one cannot be the cause of the other. Q.E.D.

PROPOSITION 4.Two or more distinct things are distinguished from one another, either by the difference of the attributes of the substances, or by the difference of their affections.
DEMONSTRATION. Everything which is, is either in itself or in another (Axiom 1), that is to say (Definitions 3 & 5), outside the intellect there is nothing but substances and their affections. There is nothing therefore outside the intellect by which a number of things can be distinguished one from another, but substances or (which is the same thing by Definition 4) their attributes and their affections. Q.E.D.

PROPOSITION 5. In nature there cannot be two or more substances of the same nature or attribute.
DEMONSTRATION. If there were two or more distinct substances, they must be distinguished one from the other by difference of attributes or difference of affections (Proposition 4). If they are distinguished only by difference of attributes, it will be granted that there is but one substance of the same attribute. But if they are distinguished by difference of affections, since substance is prior by nature to its affections (Proposition 1), the affections therefore being placed on one side, and the substance being considered in itself, or, in other words, (Definition 3 and Axiom 6), truly considered, it cannot be conceived as distinguished from another substance, that is to say (Proposition 4), there cannot be two or more substances, but only one possessing the same nature or attribute. Q.E.D.

PROPOSITION 6.One substance cannot be produced by another substance.
DEMONSTRATION. There cannot in nature be two substances of the same attribute (Proposition 5), that is to say (Proposition 2), two which have anything in common with one another. And therefore (Proposition 3) one [substance] cannot be the cause of the other, that is to say, one [substance] cannot be produced by the other [substance]. Q.E.D.

PROPOSITION 7. It pertains to the nature of substance to exist.
DEMONSTRATION. There is nothing by which substance can be produced (Proposition 6). It will therefore be the cause of itself, that is to say (Definition 1), its essence necessarily involves existence, or in other words it pertains to its nature to exist. Q.E.D.

PROPOSITION 8. Every substance is necessarily infinite.
DEMONSTRATION. Substance which has only one attribute cannot exist except as one substance (Proposition 6), and to the nature of this one substance it pertains to exist (Proposition 7). It must therefore from its nature exist as finite or infinite. But it cannot exist as finite substance, for (Definition 2) it must (if finite) be limited by another substance of the same nature, which also must necessarily exist (Proposition 7), and therefore would be two substances of the same attribute, which is absurd (Proposition 5). It exists therefore as infinite substance. Q.E.D.

Scholium 1. Since finiteness is in truth partly negation, and infinitude absolute affirmation of existence of some kind, it follows from Proposition 7 alone that all substance must be infinite.

Scholium 2. I fully expect that those who judge things confusedly, and who have not been accustomed to cognise things through their first causes, will find it difficult to comprehend the demonstration of the 7th Proposition, since they do not distinguish between the modifications of substances and substances themselves, and are ignorant of the manner in which things are produced.
Hence it comes to pass that they erroneously ascribe to substances a beginning like that which they see belongs to natural things; for those who are ignorant of the true causes of things confound every thing, and without any mental repugnance represent trees speaking like men, or imagine that men are made out of stones as well as begotten from seed, and that all forms can be changed one into the other. So also those who confound human nature with the divine, readily attribute to God human affects, especially so long as they are ignorant of the manner in which affects are produced in the mind. But if men would attend to the nature of substance, they could not entertain a single doubt of the truth of Proposition 7; indeed this proposition would be considered by all to be axiomatic, and reckoned among common notions.
For by “substance” would be understood that which is in itself and is conceived through itself, or, in other words, that, the knowledge of which does not need the knowledge of another thing.
But by “modifications” would be understood those things which are in another thing – those things, the conception of which is formed from the conception of the thing in which they are. Hence we can have true ideas of non-existent modifications, since although they may not actually exist outside the intellect, their essence nevertheless is so comprehended in something else, that they may be conceived through it.
But the truth of substances is not outside the intellect unless in the substances themselves, because they are conceived through themselves.
If any one, therefore, were to say that he possessed a clear and distinct, that is to say, a true idea of substance, and that he nevertheless doubted whether such a substance exists, he would forsooth be in the same position as if he were to say that he had a true idea and nevertheless doubted whether or not it was false (as is evident to any one who pays a little attention).
Similarly, if any one were to affirm that substance is created, he would affirm at the same time that a false idea had become true, and this is a greater absurdity than can be conceived.
It is therefore necessary to admit that, the existence of substance, like its essence, is an eternal truth.
Hence a demonstration (which I have thought worth while to append) by a different method is possible, showing that there are not to substances possessing the same nature.
But in order to prove this methodically it is to be noted: 1. That the true definition of any one thing neither involves nor expresses anything except the nature of the thing defined. From which it follows, 2. That a definition does not involve or express any certain number of individuals, since it expresses nothing but the nature of the thing defined. For example, the definition of a triangle expresses nothing but the simple nature of a triangle, and not any certain number of triangles. 3. It is to be observed that of every existing thing there is some certain cause by reason of which it exists. 4. Finally, it is to be observed that this cause, by reason of which a thing exists, must either be contained in the nature itself and definition of the existing thing (simply because it pertains to the nature of the thing to exist), or it must exist outside the thing.
This being granted, it follows that if a certain number of individuals exist in nature, there must necessarily be a cause why those individuals, and neither more nor fewer, exist.
If, for example, there are twenty men in existence (whom, for the sake of greater clearness, I suppose existing at the same time, and that no others existed before them), it will not be sufficient, in order that we may give a reason why twenty men exist, to give a cause for human nature generally; but it will be necessary, in addition, to give a reason why neither more nor fewer than twenty exist, since, as we have already observed, under the third head, there must necessarily be a cause why each exists.
But this cause (as we have shown under the second and third heads) cannot be contained in human nature itself, since the true definition of a man does not involve the number twenty, and therefore (by the fourth head) the cause why these twenty men exist, and consequently the cause of why each exists, must necessarily lie outside each one; and therefore we must conclude generally that whenever it is possible for several individuals of the same nature to exist, there must necessarily be an external cause for their existence.
Since now it pertains to the nature of substance to exist (as we have shown in this Scholium), its definition must involve necessary existence, and consequently from its definition alone its existence must be concluded.
But from its definition (as we have already shown under the second and third heads) the existence of more substances than one cannot be deduced.
It follows, therefore, from this definition necessarily that there cannot be two substances possessing the same nature.

PROPOSITION 9. The more reality or being a thing possesses, the more attributes belong to it.
DEMONSTRATION. This is evident from Definition 4. [For as attributes constitute a thing’s essence to the intellect, the more “essence” a thing has, a corresponding number of attributes is perceived by the intellect.]

PROPOSITION 10. Each attribute of a substance must be conceived through itself.
DEMONSTRATION. For an attribute is that which the intellect perceives of substance, as if constituting its essence (Definition 4), and therefore (Definition 3) it must be conceived through itself. Q.E.D.

PROPOSITION 11. God, or substance consisting of infinite attributes, each one of which expresses eternal and infinite essence, necessarily exists.
DEMONSTRATION. If this be denied, conceive, if it is possible that God does not exist. Then it follows (Axiom 7) that His essence does not involve existence. But this (Proposition 7) is absurd. Therefore God necessarily exists. Q.E.D.

Another proof. For the existence or non-existence of everything there must be a reason or cause. For example, if a triangle exists, there must be a reason or cause why it exists; and if it does not exist, there must be a reason or cause which hinders its existence or which negates it.
But this reason or cause must either be contained in the nature of the thing or lie outside it. For example, the nature of the thing itself shows the reason why a square circle does not exist, the reason being that a square circle involves a contradiction. And the reason, on the other hand, why substance involves existence (see Proposition 7).
But the reason why a circle or triangle exists or does not exist is not drawn from their nature, but from the order of corporeal nature generally; for from that it must follow, either that a triangle necessarily exists, or that is impossible for it to exist. But this is self evident.
Therefore it follows that if there be no cause nor reason which hinders a thing from existing, it exists necessarily. If, therefore, there be no reason nor cause which hinders God from existence, or which negates His existence, we must conclude absolutely that He exists.
But if there be such a reason or cause, it must be either be in the nature itself of God or must lie outside it, that is to say, in another substance of another nature. For if the reason lay in a substance of the same nature, the existence of God would by this very fact admitted.
But substance possessing another nature could have nothing in common with God (Proposition 2), and therefore could not give Him existence nor negate it.
Since, therefore, the reason or cause which could negate the divine existence cannot be outside the divine nature, it will necessarily, supposing that the divine nature does not exist, be in His Nature itself, which would therefore involve a contradiction.
But to affirm this of the Being absolutely infinite and consummately perfect is absurd. Therefore neither in God nor outside God is there any cause or reason which can negate His existence, and therefore God necessarily exists. Q.E.D.

Another proof. Inability to exist is impotence, and, on the other hand, ability to exist is power, as is self-evident. If, therefore, there is nothing which necessarily exists excepting things finite, it follows that things finite are more powerful than the absolutely infinite Being, and this (as is self evident) is absurd; therefore either nothing exists or Being absolutely infinite also necessarily exists.
But we ourselves exist, either in ourselves or in something else which necessarily exists (Axiom 1 & Proposition 7). Therefore the Being absolutely infinite, that is to say (Definition 6), God, necessarily exists. Q.E.D.

Scholium. In this last demonstration I wished to prove the existence of God a posteriori, in order that the demonstration be the more easily understood, and not because the existence of God does not follow a priori from the same grounds.
For since ability to exist is power, it follows that the more reality belongs to the nature of anything, the greater is the power for existence it derives from itself; and it also follows, therefore, that the Being absolutely infinite, or God, has from Himself an absolutely infinite power of existence, and that He therefore necessarily exists.
Many persons, nevertheless, will perhaps not be able easily to see the force of this demonstration, because they have been accustomed to contemplate those things alone which flow from external causes, and they see also that those things which are quickly produced from these causes, that is to say, which easily exist, easily perish, whilst, on the other hand, they adjudge those things to be more difficult to produce, that is to say, not so easy to bring into existence, to which they conceive more properties pertain.
In order that these prejudices may be removed, I do not need here to show in what respect this saying, “What is quickly made perishes,” is true, nor to inquire whether, looking at the whole of nature, all things are or are not equally easy.
But this only it will be sufficient for me to observe, that I do not speak of things which are produced by external causes, but that I speak of substances alone which (Proposition 6) can be produced by no external cause.
For whatever perfection or reality those things may have which are produced by external causes, whether they consist of many parts or of few, they owe it all to the virtue of an external cause alone and not from their own.
On the other hand, whatever perfection substance has is due to no external cause.
Therefore its existence must follow from its nature alone, and is therefore nothing else than its essence.
Perfection consequently does not prevent the existence of a thing, but establishes it; imperfection, on the other hand, prevents existence, and so of no existence can we be more sure than of the existence of the Being absolutely infinite or perfect, that is to say, God.
For since His essence shuts out all imperfection and involves absolute perfection, for this very reason all cause of doubt concerning His existence is taken away, and the highest certainty concerning it is given, – a truth which I trust will be evident to any one who bestows only moderate attention.

  • 180 Replies
HahiHa
offline
HahiHa
8,212 posts
Regent

Of our Knowledge of the Existence of a God
(John Locke, Concerning Human Understanding: Chapter X, pages 349 – 351)
(Articles I – VI, VIII)

I: Introduction, no argument so far.

II: "Je pense, donc je suis". Descartes, Discourse on the Method. This is, indeed, often considered the one thing that cannot be doubted: one's own existence.

III - VIII: The rest is based on assumptions over assumptions, one of them being that one's intuition is somehow actual true knowledge and necessarily true. This is merely a thought experiment based on a particular rationale, but it doesn't provide actual evidence.

This is something I noticed in some of your previous arguments and meant to address: (philosophical) arguments and thought experiments, even if they are internally sound, do not necessarily provide solid proof. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I am under the impression that you consider philosophy to be a sort of master science that can prove anything by arguing correctly. It is not, really; philosophy of science, for example, is great if you want to study the scientific methods and ethics, but it cannot actually provide the evidence that those branches of science can. That's where the sciences like physics and biology come in.
I'd like to have @Moegreche 's opinion on this, and I'm sure you'll listen to him rather than to me anyway

The rest sounds like more of the same, so I propose that for now we focus on the question of whether such arguments can be considered proof or not. I'll wait for Moe's input on that.
Ntech
offline
Ntech
258 posts
Shepherd

@Hahiha


one's intuition is somehow actual true knowledge and necessarily true. This is merely a thought experiment based on a particular rationale, but it doesn't provide actual evidence.

What is the difference between knowing something, and intuition?

Besides, Locke proves his statements:

nothing cannot produce something
is a valid statement, as well as the inference
therefore something must have been from eternity
.

There is a second argument beneath the one by Locke, a one by de Spinoza. Please have a look at that as well, though it's a bit more lengthy.

Moegreche
offline
Moegreche
3,822 posts
Duke

@HahiHa

[Philosophy] cannot actually provide the evidence that those branches of science can. That's where the sciences like physics and biology come in.

It depends on the kind of argument you want to run. But the kinds of arguments that I find most compelling (e.g. fine-tuning style arguments) do, as you point out, require a heavy amount of background information from physics and astronomy in order to get the arguments off the ground.

What we're looking at here, though, are either causal arguments or ontological arguments. The latter focus on what sorts of properties a god must have and then proceed to argue that, because of these properties, a god must necessarily exist. As it turns out, ontological arguments almost universally tend to beg the question, though in a very subtle way. Causal arguments tend to rely on our intuitions about causation and often (as in the arguments presented here) are not informed by physics in general--and certainly not by our modern understanding of physics. Which speaks directly to your worry about intuitions.

@Ntech

What is the difference between knowing something, and intuition?

Intuition is a belief that you just find yourself with. It's status as even a justified belief is in question, but I'm inclined to lean towards granting that intuitions are prima facie justified. This, however, is in stark contrast to knowledge, which requires a true belief. This is what HahiHa was getting it with his worry. Intuitions can be wrong. And the cases in which they're wrong tend to be extreme cases--just like the ones we're talking about here.

You say that "Locke proves his statements" that "nothing cannot produce something." But he actually doesn't. As HahiHa correctly points out, this argument relies on our intuitions. Here is the relevant quote from Locke:

In the next place, man knows, by an intuitive certainty [emphasis added], that bare nothing can no more produce any real being, than it can be equal to two right angles.

And this is precisely the worry. I'll happily grant that an uncaused cause is incredibly unintuitive. But so is most of quantum mechanics--the most successful theory ever produced. Nowadays, it's simply unwarranted to dismiss a claim (at least, one in the realm of physics) because it's counterintuitive. It's also worth noting that, even if we grant Locke's intuition, it doesn't get us far. We know that our observable universe had a beginning, since we see the evidence in the cosmic microwave background radiation. But this doesn't say anything about the universe as a whole, which very well could be infinite in both size and in time. Or, even if it had a beginning, there's nothing to suggest that it was an intelligent agent that kicked off the process.

There is a second argument beneath the one by Locke, a one by de Spinoza. Please have a look at that as well, though it's a bit more lengthy.

Honestly, this argument is too long to engage with in a setting like this. When I was taking early modern philosophy in undergrad, we spent a ton of time working through Spinoza. It's extremely difficult stuff and incredibly challenging to sift through without an expert to guide the discussion.

I will, however, make this quick note. You would have to completely misread Spinoza to get at any conception of God that would fit the current understanding of what God is--much less the Christian God. Notice that Spinoza ascribes infinite attributes to God and also notes that everything--i.e. everything that has, is, and will exist in the universe--must have a like cause. When I learned Spinoza, he was presented as an atheist, albeit a 'proto-atheist'. This is still a contested issue. But if his argument is trying to show the existence a god, it's basically equivalent to everything in the universe. In other words, the universe itself is God. This is an... odd view, to say the least. I don't know if it would qualify as pantheism, since it's so broad. But it's definitely not any sort of godhead that would be recognised by the major religions of today.

FishPreferred
offline
FishPreferred
3,173 posts
Duke

In re. John Locke:
I.

yet having furnished us with those faculties our minds are endowed with, He hath not left Himself without witness: since we have sense, perception, and reason, and cannot want a clear proof of Him, as long as we carry ourselves about us...
A bare assertion that assumes the conclusion.

II.
For man knows that he himself exists. I think it is beyond question, that man has a clear idea of his own being; he knows certainly that he exists, and that he is something.
So?

III.
He knows also that nothing cannot produce a being; therefore something must have existed from eternity. In the next place, man knows, by an intuitive certainty, that bare nothing can no more produce any real being, than it can be equal to two right angles.
This is a reasonable conclusion, but the premises are extremely weak. "Nothing" doesn't do things because there's nothing there to do anything; that alone doesn't mean that things can't happen without other things.

IV.
And that eternal Being must be most powerful. Next, it is evident, that what had its being and beginning from another, must also have all that which is in and belongs to its being from another too. All the powers it has must be owing to and received from the same source. This eternal source, then, of all being must also be the source and origin of all power; and so this eternal Being must also be the most powerful.
1 That's completely irrational. People who build computers don't have abilities in sheer mathematical computation equal to or greater than the computers', nor do computers even calculate things in the same way we do, nor are all computers designed and produced entirely by one supreme programmer.
2 This fails to provide any support for a "Being" as opposed to just any cluster of arbitrary stuff floating in space.

V.
If it be said, there was a time when no being had any knowledge, when that eternal being was void of understanding; I reply, that then it was impossible there should ever have been any knowledge: it being as impossible that things wholly void of knowledge, and operating blindly, and without any perception, should produce a knowing being, as it is impossible that a triangle should make itself three angles bigger than two right ones.
He's basically saying object X cannot have quality Y if no object had Y before X did, and feebly attempting to liken this to geometry.
In this case, we can say that X = Darth Vader and Y = fictional. So, if Darth Vader is a fictional character, there must have always been at least one fictional character in the universe, and since we're apparently assuming that there is only one eternal thing in existence, it falls to that thing to also be fictional.

VI.
And therefore God.
And, thus Darth Vader.

VIII.
Recapitulation – something from eternity. There is no truth more evident than that something must be from eternity. I never yet heard of any one so unreasonable, or that could suppose so manifest a contradiction, as a time wherein there was perfectly nothing.
So?

In re. Benedict de Spinoza:
DEFINITION 1.
BY CAUSE of itself, I understand that, [a Being] whose essence involves existence; or that, [a Being] whose nature cannot be conceived unless existing.
No, a thing. Don't misattribute him.

Bit at the end:
Perfection consequently does not prevent the existence of a thing, but establishes it; imperfection, on the other hand, prevents existence, [...]
Perfection is not an attribute that any thing or any substance has, so no; that does not follow from the argument.

The rest:
So?

Besides, Locke proves his statements:
"nothing cannot produce something"
is a valid statement, as well as the inference
"therefore something must have been from eternity"
No, he doesn't. Restating a claim with a different wording is not how you prove something; it's how you beg the question.
Ntech
offline
Ntech
258 posts
Shepherd

@Moegreche

Or, even if it had a beginning, there's nothing to suggest that it was an intelligent agent that kicked off the process.

But an action cannot exceed its cause, so intelligence can only be accomplished by intelligence.

I will, however, make this quick note. You would have to completely misread Spinoza to get at any conception of God that would fit the current understanding of what God is--much less the Christian God.

But Catholics believe that God's essence is existence itself, He is the only One who exists, we do not exist but possess our existence in Him.

Spinoza's argument does not contradict the Catholic theological understanding of God.

HahiHa
offline
HahiHa
8,212 posts
Regent

But an action cannot exceed its cause, so intelligence can only be accomplished by intelligence.

Why can't it? I see no reason why it couldn't.

Would you, for example, consider that an avalanche, started by a lose stone, hasn't vastly exceeded its cause?

Also, have you heard of the concept of emergence?
Ntech
offline
Ntech
258 posts
Shepherd

@Hahiha said


Why can't it? I see no reason why it couldn't.

Would you, for example, consider that an avalanche, started by a lose stone, hasn't vastly exceeded its cause?

An action cannot exceed its cause(s). For example, that avalanche's cause was not only the loose stone but also the gravity propelling the objects downwards, the slope of the hill not offering resistance, etc.

For an action to exceed its cause, an exterior force would have to act upon it, thus, it does not exceed its cause -- for it has not one but two.

HahiHa
offline
HahiHa
8,212 posts
Regent

I guess I should have started by asking what you even mean by "exceeding one's cause". It's not clear to me what that even means, and how it relates to Moe's statement.

Also, no comment on emergence?

P.S. (edit): I suppose I can already start with your claim that "intelligence can only be accomplished by intelligence", since I at least understand what you mean by that. I see two problems with that claim.

1. The word "accomplish" (same as if you had used the word "create" ) assumes a will and a goal. In that sense, your claim can be considered true; only a conscious agency can define and reach a goal. The problem is that this is an example of begging the question. Your claim is formulated in a self-fulfilling way. It doesn't exclude that intelligent life can develop out of non-intelligent matter.

2. Consider the Big Bang. During the first phases, the universe was unimaginably hot and dense. It takes almost 400'000 years for even the first atoms to form - mostly helium and hydrogen. Other elements only form afterwards.
This is all to say that for a relatively large amount of time, conditions in the universe didn't allow life, as we know it, to even be possible. Meaning that the universe started out as dead, in the sense of 'devoid of life'. Two conclusions impose themselves:
a) your claim is not relevant to the statement you quoted from Moe, as he was referring to the beginning of the universe, not of intelligent life, and
b) even assuming your claim to be true, the universe didn't need an intelligent creator, as it is not intelligent itself.

FishPreferred
offline
FishPreferred
3,173 posts
Duke

But Catholics believe that God's essence is existence itself, He is the only One who exists, we do not exist but possess our existence in Him.

Spinoza's argument does not contradict the Catholic theological understanding of God.

No, it just doesn't contradict that particular extreme oversimplification of terms. God, to Spinoza, does not relate to a magical humanoid that transcends time and space, nor does his argument support one.

An action cannot exceed its cause(s). For example, that avalanche's cause was not only the loose stone but also the gravity propelling the objects downwards, the slope of the hill not offering resistance, etc.
Let's see:
Gravity is just the tendency of matter to clump together.
Hydrogen gas is as simple as a pair of protons with a pair of electrons holding them in place.
Neither gravity nor hydrogen gas are crystalline, ductile, dipolar, green, yellow, opaque, or semiconductive. They also aren't ferromagnetic, paramagnetic, piezoelectric, photoelastic, or degenerate.
Large quantities of hydrogen gas, and their resultant gravitational force, are all that is required for crystalline, ductile, dipolar, green, yellow, opaque, semiconductive, ferromagnetic, paramagnetic, piezoelectric, photoelastic, and degenerate materials to be produced.
Ntech
offline
Ntech
258 posts
Shepherd

@FishPreferred


No, it just doesn't contradict that particular extreme oversimplification of terms. God, to Spinoza, does not relate to a magical humanoid that transcends time and space, nor does his argument support one.

Yet his definition of God is not Anti-Catholic.


Let's see: . . . to be produced.

So?

@Hahiha


Also, no comment on emergence?

I was meaning to, but I will now state what I think on that matter.

I have not heard of emergence before, but after reading that Wikipedia article on it, I believe that Emergence is illogical, for it would have to include spontaneous generation, which is both illogical and impossible. For everything can be reduced to the sum of parts, respectively.


The problem is that this is an example of begging the question.

My proof lies in that intelligent beings exist, we know that only intelligence can accomplish intelligence. If no intelligent beings existed, this would be begging the question.


It doesn't exclude that intelligent life can develop out of non-intelligent matter.

What do you mean by life? If you acknowledge the existence of man's immaterial form, which is his principle of life (that which distinguishes a body from a corpse), as well as his principle of intellect, reason, etc., what is material can never create something that is immaterial, for such a thing is an impossibility.

If you do not acknowledge the existence of man's immaterial form, which I call the soul, you must at least acknowledge the immaterial form of man by which a man can be distinguished from a corpse -- you must recognize the principles of life, reason, etc. These principles necessarily must be immaterial, or no such thing as a corpse would exist were these principles sprung from the material.

Thus, matter alone cannot account for life, or man. Only immaterial intelligence can.


your claim is not relevant to the statement you quoted from Moe, as he was referring to the beginning of the universe, not of intelligent life, and

Since an attribute of the universe is the physical dimension, and intelligent subsistence takes place in that dimension, intelligence necessarily created the universe.


even assuming your claim to be true, the universe didn't need an intelligent creator, as it is not intelligent itself.

Yet man is intelligent, and thus an intelligent creator has to exist.

HahiHa
offline
HahiHa
8,212 posts
Regent

I have not heard of emergence before, but after reading that Wikipedia article on it, I believe that Emergence is illogical, for it would have to include spontaneous generation, which is both illogical and impossible. For everything can be reduced to the sum of parts, respectively.

1. Spontaneous generation is never mentioned in the wiki article. Or did you really misread the part that says "Spontaneous order"?
2. Just so we're level on this one: spontaneous generation is not part of any serious biological theory, and actually has been scientifically disproved since at least Pasteur.
3. Even so, what about all the examples that have nothing to do with biology?

My proof lies in that intelligent beings exist, we know that only intelligence can accomplish intelligence. If no intelligent beings existed, this would be begging the question.

1. This is exactly what I was talking about in my first post: you have not proven anything, merely written some statements that you think prove something because they make sense to you.
2. We do not know that only intelligence can accomplish intelligence. So far, you have only claimed it, without ever presenting any proof.
3. Do you understand what 'begging the question' means?

What do you mean by life?

The exact definition of life is always a bit tricky, like, do virus count or not? But generally, it's agreed upon that life is defined by a series of biological processes, like reproduction, movement, metabolism.

If you do not acknowledge the existence of man's immaterial form, which I call the soul, you must at least acknowledge the immaterial form of man by which a man can be distinguished from a corpse -- you must recognize the principles of life, reason, etc. These principles necessarily must be immaterial, or no such thing as a corpse would exist were these principles sprung from the material.

There is no such thing as a soul, at least no such thing has ever been proven, and it doesn't make sense for it to exist considering our current understanding of things. A corpse is a corpse because the biological processes which made it alive and of which I listed some above, stopped. Our intellect and reason are of neurological origin. Consciousness itself is, depending on who you're asking, merely brain chemistry or possibly an emergent phenomenon, just like life itself.

Since an attribute of the universe is the physical dimension, and intelligent subsistence takes place in that dimension, intelligence necessarily created the universe.

Moe made a statement relating to the universe. You countered with a statement relating to intelligence, which in itself has nothing to do with the universe. I pointed it out. Now you expanded your original statement just to include the universe. Do you often alter your statements on a whim?

To be clear about what I mean here: Your statement that I originally called out was relating only to intelligence itself. The universe itself isn't intelligent and therefore isn't included in your original statement. That's all that was about.

Yet man is intelligent, and thus an intelligent creator has to exist.

Which was your statement of before, which I have now addressed in this post.
Moegreche
offline
Moegreche
3,822 posts
Duke

Since an attribute of the universe is the physical dimension, and intelligent subsistence takes place in that dimension, intelligence necessarily created the universe.

Even we grant all this, there's still a problem. At the moment of creation, there was no intelligence substance in the universe. This is true in our current, secular understanding of the universe as well as the literal biblical creation account. On the secular view, it would have been hundreds of thousands of years before the first atoms could form. In the Biblical account, God made the first animals on day 5 and mammals (including humans) on day 6.

You can't argue, either, that the universe must necessarily contain intelligence. After all, there was a time during which we had a universe but no intelligent substance in it.

You could try to argue that souls must have always existed. This, of course, would be a separate line of argument altogether and would need to begin by giving some kind of (at least prima facie) compelling argument that souls currently exist. I've seen some attempts at such an argument, but there's so much going on right now that it's hard to nail down the precise moves here.

In closing, I feel it's important to point out:
Spinoza's God is very clearly and definitively inconsistent with the Catholic notion of God

Spinoza is challenging to read, as I mentioned. And Spinoza scholars don't agree about the exact nature of his God. It's my view that his god is identical to everything in the universe. On his view, this is only one, indivisible substance, which is God. So we're at least talking about a kind of substance identity. I'm not a Spinoza scholar, but I can absolutely say without hesitation that the italicised statement above is true. Here are two important properties that his god lacks that Catholics would deny. These two claims follow directly from the reading you've provided:

1) Spinoza's god is not a creator god. That is, there was no act of creation or intention behind the creation of the universe--it was a necessary consequence of god's existence.

2) Spinoza's god is not an interventionist god. In other words, his god does not answer prayers nor does he perform miracles.

From these two statements above, Spinoza's god has 2 properties which the Catholic god lacks. As such, these two gods are not identical and, in fact, are not even consistent.

Ntech
offline
Ntech
258 posts
Shepherd

@Hahiha


1. Spontaneous generation is never mentioned in the wiki article. Or did you really misread the part that says "Spontaneous order"?

I assumed that since the Wiki article mentioned " The emergent is unlike its components insofar as these are incommensurable, and it cannot be reduced to their sum or their difference," that it is perfectly logical for something to be reduced to the sum of its parts, and for it to be unable to be reduced to the sum of parts, something new must have been spontaneously generated to be something more than just the some of its parts.


2. We do not know that only intelligence can accomplish intelligence. So far, you have only claimed it, without ever presenting any proof.

Well, the essence of a thing which can be conceived as not existing does not involve existence. So, since you claim that intelligence can be accomplished by something other than intelligence, moreover that there was a time when intelligence did not exist, intelligence's essence does not involve existence, which means intelligence does not exist -- which of course is absurd, because we are intelligent and we exist.


The exact definition of life is always a bit tricky, like, do virus count or not? But generally, it's agreed upon that life is defined by a series of biological processes, like reproduction, movement, metabolism.

That's the biological definition, I prefer to use a more philosophical one: Life is what distinguishes a body from a corpse -- Life is the principle of life.


There is no such thing as a soul, at least no such thing has ever been proven, and it doesn't make sense for it to exist considering our current understanding of things. A corpse is a corpse because the biological processes which made it alive and of which I listed some above, stopped. Our intellect and reason are of neurological origin. Consciousness itself is, depending on who you're asking, merely brain chemistry or possibly an emergent phenomenon, just like life itself.

Yet the same matter exists in both a corpse and a body, except in a different form. Simply put, the soul is man's form, using the Aristotlean sense of the word. A corpse does not have the form of man, but of a corpse.

I accept the Platonic and Thomistic definitions of the soul, which do not contradict Catholic dogma.

@Moegreche


1) Spinoza's god is not a creator god. That is, there was no act of creation or intention behind the creation of the universe--it was a necessary consequence of god's existence.

Does Spinoza deny that He created the universe? I think he was arguing that God necessarily exists because the universe does, and not that the universe exists necessarily because God does.

2) Spinoza's god is not an interventionist god. In other words, his god does not answer prayers nor does he perform miracles.

Yes, Spinoza does not say that God intervenes, but neither does he deny that God can, or that God does.

Moegreche
offline
Moegreche
3,822 posts
Duke

I think he was arguing that God necessarily exists because the universe does, and not that the universe exists necessarily because God does.

It's the other way around--the universe necessarily exists because God exists. In other words, there was no intentional act that we would call creation. God caused the universe, but did not create it. Here's the relevant discussion from the SEP article.

According to the traditional Judeo-Christian conception of divinity, God is a transcendent creator, a being who causes a world distinct from himself to come into being by creating it out of nothing. God produces that world by a spontaneous act of free will, and could just as easily have not created anything outside himself. By contrast, Spinoza’s God is the cause of all things because all things follow causally and necessarily from the divine nature. Or, as he puts it, from God’s infinite power or nature “all things have necessarily flowed, or always followed, by the same necessity and in the same way as from the nature of a triangle it follows, from eternity and to eternity, that its three angles are equal to two right angles” (Ip17s1). The existence of the world is, thus, mathematically necessary. It is impossible that God should exist but not the world. This does not mean that God does not cause the world to come into being freely, since nothing outside of God constrains him to bring it into existence. But Spinoza does deny that God creates the world by some arbitrary and undetermined act of free will. God could not have done otherwise. There are no possible alternatives to the actual world, and absolutely no contingency or spontaneity within that world. Everything is absolutely and necessarily determined.

Yes, Spinoza does not say that God intervenes, but neither does he deny that God can, or that God does.

He does, in fact, deny that god does (or even can) intervene. Everything that happens, happens of necessity. Not only is intervention not required, but it would not be possible in his view. Again, here is the relevant quote from the same article:

Nor does God perform miracles, since there are no, and cannot be, departures whatsoever from the necessary course of nature. This would be for God or Nature to act against itself, which is absurd. The belief in miracles is due only to ignorance of the true causes of phenomena.
HahiHa
offline
HahiHa
8,212 posts
Regent

I'm sorry, I misunderstood you about spontaneous generation. Usually the term is used to refer to spontaneous generation of lifeforms (we can all agree that that does not happen), I didn't realize you meant the emergent property.

About emergence:
What it means is simply that the whole system possesses a property that each individual constituent does not have. It's not something that needs to be generated, but that the system simply has due to how its parts interact. Consider the snowflake. The fractal pattern is emergent because it is a property found in the snowflake, but not in its individual parts. Similarly, life is an emergent property of an organism constituted of anorganic parts which are not alive themselves. Life is possible because of how those parts interact.

intelligence's essence

the principle of life

the form of man

You use those terms as if they were a matter of course, and yet they don't mean anything to me. Just like John Locke, you deduce presumed knowledge from intuition. But I can't accept your intuition as fact.

I used the biological definition of life for good reason: biology is the study of life. No matter what life is and what its origins are, biology is dedicated to study and understand it. No amount of philosophy will be able to tell you the molecular structure of a plant cell, for example.

The problem I have here is that you base your claims on the assumption that something like a soul exists. I understand why, because it is your deeply held belief; and I can't say anything against that. But you should at least be able to understand that your claims are structured on pre-established, unverified premises.
Showing 1-15 of 180

We may use cookies to help customize your experience, including performing analytics and serving ads.
Learn More