The question of ultimate authority, logic or god?

65


Discussion by: tjmapa

I was the person who opened up the discussion called 'How does one prove reason?'

I discussed even more with my roommate and more people from the choosing hats website. I argued the things that people like Zeuglodon and adiroth told me in the other discussion, such as logic just existing.

But they came back by asking that how do I know it exists.
I said that it is experienced/observed.
They asked how does one experience logic?
I said we just do, or through the mind.
They said that because logic is immaterial, we logically experience it, therefore it is circular. Simply saying it just exists is called an 
ipse dixit fallacy.
I said that the fallacy doesn't count
 here, but then they asked if I thought the fallacy didn't count here, how come they can't think fallacies don't count in other places?

I believe I also said that to deny the existence of logic is simply plain wrong. I don't quite remember where I said that, but I remember saying it. I think they asked why we can't deny it, and I didn't know what to say, because I don't see why denying it could ever be valid. It's just plain foolish to deny its existence.

It ultimately ended there.

 

What else can I say to argue this position?

 

 

 

65 COMMENTS

  1. Two thoughts which maybe I should have thought longer about…

    Wavelength 650nm [in human-invented units] electromagnetic radiation doesn’t for existence depend on our existence, but the concept of the colour red does depend on our existence

    I would argue that mathematics is logic [or vice versa] & the universe doesn’t seem to require maths or brains to carry out dynamic processes such as planets orbiting stars. It FEELS to me that processes relate to maths/logic as per light radiation/colour example above.

    BUT mathematical philosophers still argue, & will presumably for ever argue fruitlessly, about the relationship between the real & the abstractions of maths.

    And a second BUT with a Swiss cheese full of holes maybe ~ I think there may be universes where symmetries never existed & perhaps logic isn’t possible there, but dynamical processes of some unknown description perhaps are. If logic/maths depends on symmetry [I don't know] then in that universe maths/logic doesn’t/can’t exist.

  2. tjmapa: My answer is not the one you’re looking for, but it’s still the correct answer.

    The questions you are wrestling with have long ago been wrestled with by almost countless geniuses over the millennia. If it’s not obvious what I’m getting at, I’m saying: the questions have been answered by minds probably greater than yours, a very very long time ago, and they took great trouble to write those answers down. Why ignore them? Look them up on WIkiPedia. It’s more efficient than re-inventing the wheel.

    Here’s a link to a video in which physicist Brian Greene illustrates, simply, a similar and relevant point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtgLYXBC1z0#t=2m10s

  3. You are teasing yourself with language. You are comparing a character of fiction against an abstract process.

    I would ask it this way, “If you want to persuade me to do something, am I more likely to be persuaded with a list of reasons why it would be good for me and others if I did it and bad if I did not, or if you made up a story about a mean ogre who would torture me if I refused?”

    Some people find the first more convincing, some the second. I hold people of the second category in low esteem, especially when they persist in telling me about such fictitious ogres as if they had any relevance.

  4. Ditto for Zengardener

    Plus it takes 2 to tango. Logic is a communication: always between at least 2 minds. Only exception is when there is only 1 mind, but displaced in time. i.e. Your state of mind initially and your state of mind at the end of the process. So technically even that is 2 minds. It’s the origin of a lot or economic fallacies where that nature of goods are not clearly distinguished. (There’s a crucial difference between goods that are otherwise identical but exist in different physical locations or time periods.)

    Your friends’ argument might possibly reveal a peculiar political rather than philosophical view. Alternatively it may also reveal that there is only 1 mind involved in the argument. Seeing as you can be reasonably confident about your own mind then your friends’ position is effectively their attempt to prove that they don’t exist.

    Here’s some more elaborate discussion of what their argument inadvertently reveals. (From a review of Hans-Herman Hoppes’ book on the Economics and Ethics of Private Property, and others about socialist and capitalist economic theory):

    “any truth claim, the claim connected with any proposition that it is true, objective or valid (all terms used synonymously here), is and must be raised and settled in the course of an argumentation. Since it cannot be disputed that this is so (one cannot communicate and argue that one cannot communicate and argue), and since it must be assumed that everyone knows what it means to claim something to be true (one cannot deny this statement without claiming its negation to be true), this very fact has been aptly called “the a priori of communication and argumentation.” (EEPP, p. 314)

    That is, there are certain norms presupposed by the very activity of arguing. Apel and Habermas go on to argue that the ethics presupposed as legitimate by discourse as such justify the standard set of soft-socialist policies. But Hoppe, while recognizing the value of the basic approach, rejected their application of this theory and socialist conclusions. Instead, Hoppe took what was valuable in the Apel-Habermas approach and melded it with Misesian-Rothbardian insights to provide a praxeological-discourse-ethics twist on the standard natural-law defense of rights.

    In essence, Hoppe’s view is that argumentation, or discourse, is by its nature a conflict-free way of interacting, which requires individual control of scarce resources. In genuine discourse, the parties try to persuade each other by the force of their argument, not by actual force:
    Argumentation is a conflict-free way of interacting. Not in the sense that there is always agreement on the things said, but in the sense that as long as argumentation is in progress it is always possible to agree at least on the fact that there is disagreement about the validity of what has been said. And this is to say nothing else than that a mutual recognition of each person’s exclusive control over his own body must be presupposed as long as there is argumentation (note again, that it is impossible to deny this and claim this denial to be true without implicitly having to admit its truth). (TSC, p. 158)

  5. I see my name mentioned, and I am interested.

    They said that because logic is immaterial, we logically experience it, therefore it is circular.

    They don’t need to say “we logically experience it”. They just experience it. They can “say” they don’t when they actually do, but by then their words are separate from the reality in the first place, and they have tacitly disqualified themselves from talking about it.

    Logic is a system of rules that highlights valid and invalid trains of reasoning. It is ultimately answerable to what is real.

    The trick with this “experience” and “circular argument” wordplay is twofold: the first is that the use of the word experience is to give the impression logic is disconnected from reality, as though to use logic was to indulge an ivory tower fantasy; the second is that they seem to think that a circular argument is illogical, and therefore self-defeating.

    The first one should need no backing. Reality is not something that individuals can pick and mix. It cannot be argued out of existence, or hoodwinked, or cheated, or denied, or treated in the same way tastes and opinions are. Logic may be “immaterial” in the sense of being abstract, but abstractions are descriptions of material things, not entities with existences of their own. While it is possible to isolate and discuss abstract notions independently of material examples (for instance, mathematics is solely focused on the relationships between numbers and their patterns), this is for the purpose of generalizing. It’s certainly not an invitation to act like logic exists in some Platonic realm independent of the material world. Invite them to deny the basics of arithmetic and geometry – not just to go through the motions of saying “one plus one equals three”, but to actually show this, to have reality confirm it for them – and to use reason to justify unreason. It can’t be done, and I’ll add to that later on.

    Secondly, there’s a trick in the “circular argument” canard. Here’s the thing, though; circular arguments are not actually fallacious. They are valid forms of reasoning because they are ultimately tautologies. If you assume the conclusion you are trying to prove, then so long as the train of thought is not breaking any other rules of logic, it’s perfectly acceptable. When it’s inappropriate is when the truthfulness of the conclusion is what is under question, and the truthfulness of the claims must either be made in reference to other claims (as in a chain of logical deductions) or be confirmed by experience, either directly or provisionally from clues, evidence, and tried and tested techniques for establishing the truth.

    What their argument is trying to do is distract you from that last part. The reason logic isn’t interchangeable with faith is because the things gained through experience can’t be denied even if you want to. You can question whether it’s appropriate in any particular situation to provisionally accept an expert doctor’s diagnosis or to go learn yourself how to self-diagnose, but if you really are ill, no amount of wishful thinking will make it go away.

    Simply saying it just exists is called an ipse dixit fallacy.

    Ipse dixit is argument from authority, more specifically from irrelevant authority. In any case, an appeal to appropriate authority is a provisional acceptance of the conclusions of experts in a given field, not a deductive argument that is self-evidently true. If they’re making any sense at all, they’re claiming that you can’t refer to reality to confirm what is real because reality is an irrelevant authority on reality! It’s certainly wrong to equate “referring to reality” as an argument from irrelevant authority because the whole point of the exercise is to tacitly appeal to the “authority” of reality in the first place, or else they’re essentially claiming they’re not interested in reality to begin with, which disqualifies them from waffling about it. So I call out misuse of terminology here.

    I said that the fallacy doesn’t count here, but then they asked if I thought the fallacy didn’t count here, how come they can’t think fallacies don’t count in other places?

    I’ve already given reasons for why the fallacy doesn’t count. They’re merely looking for an excuse to give themselves a Get Out of Jail Free Card, which is bogus because fallacies aren’t arbitrary in the way they imply.

    I believe I also said that to deny the existence of logic is simply plain wrong. I don’t quite remember where I said that, but I remember saying it. I think they asked why we can’t deny it, and I didn’t know what to say, because I don’t see why denying it could ever be valid. It’s just plain foolish to deny its existence.

    For the simple “reason” that attempts to deny it will get them nowhere. Saying “It just is” isn’t an empty phrase if reality actually is hitting them over the head with it, even if only as an experience they can’t deny. Denial is the claim, via negating one view, that there’s a reality different from the one that they experience, but this opens up an infinite regress of “realities” (after all, if this experience is actually not reality, then what if the “reality” underneath it is also not reality, ad nauseum), not a single one of which takes precedence over the reality they definitely and undeniably experience. In any case, they’ve only got the experiences – external and internal – to work with, which they can’t deny because they’re there, and so it’s either act on a made-up “reality” that has nothing to do with reality, or act on reality as it appears to them. And if they want to persuade anyone else, it has to be something both parties can see for themselves.

    I think a confusion in their minds is in the notion that there is always a choice at every step of the questioning phase, since every why question is implicitly comparing the subject to something else. To ask why the world is round is to ask why it isn’t square or triangular or a torus, and so on. But it is to presume that an alternative view exists, and this assumption cannot go unquestioned. Ask them upfront what they have in mind, and what entitles them to pose the question. This kind of scepticism is only ever used to cast doubt on a position, but it can’t be a position in and of itself.

    Really, though, if the discussion is getting this far, then tell them they’re destroying their only chance to get their faiths on a respectable footing, because if they can’t even concede the basics of reality, logic, and reason, then every single belief is rendered equally incoherent and baseless. I doubt they actually believe the stuff they’re spouting, especially if they think they’ve got reasons for believing as they do.

  6. I remember the discussion. I’m no philosophical wizard so I’m going to explain where I’m at on this. I frame what you term ‘logic’ in respect to how to survive, thrive and make sense of this world. Logic is a procedure I undergo to meet these ends. Logic is self re-enforcing in that I operate in a social context and its very dynamic means that I must adapt to its course or become irrational. Logic is essentially driven by endurance first and social context second.

    Why do you care so much about proving reason?

  7. I would compare it in practical terms. Ask them if they would use any logic when buying a car or house. If so, ask them why. And furthermore, ask them why they would use logic on buying a car but not choosing a religion / deity.

  8. They asked how does one experience logic?…They said that because logic is immaterial, we logically experience it, therefore it is circular.

    I’m no philosopher, but in my mind the problem in their comments is that they assume logic is an independently existing thing. To me, logic is not an existing thing, it’s a word we use to describe the process of connecting the dots right. To show that logic exists you only need to show one case in which assumptions lead to a logical conclusion. What more can they want? In fact, I’m not exactly sure what they are asking. It seems like they are just playing the game in which you ask a question about anything, e.g.:

    • I’m in love.
    • But what is love?
    • It’s an emotion.
    • But what is an emotion?
    • It’s a neurochemical process.
    • But what is a process?
    • It’s a series of actions done to achieve a certain outcome.
    • But what is an outcome?

    Etc……

    This is the game they seem to be playing, and it can go on forever. They are just asking away without being satisfied with an answer. It’s an annoying technique to make your opponent look baffled, because she has to scramble for answers, while you yourself are just comfortably leaning back and spewing out questions. We do not “logically experience” logic. We simply experience logic, nothing circular about that.

    What are they trying to claim? That logic does not exist? Are they saying that all forms of logic that are studied around the world are in fact non-existent, and just figments of our imaginations? Logic is not an emotion that you experience, like hate or anger. It is observed in the conclusions that are made. I would compare it to mathematics. Mathematics does not exist in itself, but is an “abstract study of topics” (copied that from Wikipedia). When numbers are added together, that is math. Logic, to me, is the same way. It doesn’t exist by itself, but conclusions that are made from premises that are not in conflict with each other is logical.

  9. They asked how does one experience logic?…They said that because logic is immaterial, we logically experience it, therefore it is circular.

    I’m no philosopher, but in my mind the problem in their comments is that they assume logic is an independently existing thing. To me, logic is not an existing thing, it’s a word we use to describe the process of connecting the dots right. To show that logic exists you only need to show one case in which assumptions lead to a logical conclusion. What more can they want? In fact, I’m not exactly sure what they are asking. It seems like they are just playing the game in which you ask a question about anything, e.g.:

    • I’m in love.
    • But what is love?
    • It’s an emotion.
    • But what is an emotion?
    • It’s a neurochemical process.
    • But what is a process?
    • It’s a series of actions done to achieve a certain outcome.
    • But what is an outcome?

    Etc……

    This is the game they seem to be playing, and it can go on forever. They are just asking away without being satisfied with an answer. It’s an annoying technique to make your opponent look baffled, because she has to scramble for answers, while you yourself are just comfortably leaning back and spewing out questions. We do not “logically experience” logic. We simply experience logic, nothing circular about that.

    What are they trying to claim? That logic does not exist? Are they saying that all forms of logic that are studied around the world are in fact non-existent, and just figments of our imaginations? Logic is not an emotion that you experience, like hate or anger. It is observed in the conclusions that are made. I would compare it to mathematics. Mathematics does not exist in itself, but is an “abstract study of topics” (copied that from Wikipedia). When numbers are added together, that is math. Logic, to me, is the same way. It doesn’t exist by itself, but conclusions that are made from premises that are not in conflict with each other is logical.

    • In reply to #12 by Aztek:

      They asked how does one experience logic?…They said that because logic is immaterial, we logically experience it, therefore it is circular.

      I’m no philosopher, but in my mind the problem in their comments is that they assume logic is an independently existing thing. To me, logic is not an existin…

      Part of the problem is that people are using words with imprecise definitions. Logic for example, as it has been used on this thread sometimes people refer to empiricism, sometimes to just a rational mindset, and sometimes to what I think of when people say logic, mathematical logic. But if we are talking about logic in the sense of First Order Logic and Set Theory it definitely “exists” as an independent thing that can be studied in the same way that mathematics “exists”.

      Logic/set theory are just another division of mathematics. Each has formal rules for construction and proof.

      • Hi Red Dog,

        This guy is talking as follows

        The question of ultimate authority, logic or god?

        Many people here are talking about mathematical logic , I think this guy probably means rationality.

        In reply to #14 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #12 by Aztek:

        They asked how does one experience logic?…They said that because logic is immaterial, we logically experience it, therefore it is circular.

        I’m no philosopher, but in my mind the problem in their comments is that they assume logic is an independently existing thing. To…

  10. This thread would surely be an English teacher’s nightmare.

    I imagine the topic is derived from someone saying “you can’t prove god exists” being retorted by “you can’t prove logic exists”.

    Regarding the substitution of ‘god’ for ‘logic’: A word for a supernatural entity being placed as antipodal to intellection, however coincidentally true, is not accurate use of language.

  11. “They said that because logic is immaterial, we logically experience it, therefore it is circular.”

    Logic is a method – in practice it delivers results that are predictable, measurable and replicable: therefore it is a valid way to describe and analyse reality. Does logic exist as anything other than a description of a method to describe and analyse reality? Of course not, otherwise you’d find yourself in a circular debate about whether logic is objective enough to analyse itself (no) and therefore that there must ultimately be a final arbiter: god. The premise ‘in what form did logic exist before there were humans to use it’ is a trap.

  12. Proof presupposes reason, therefore, it’s invalid to attempt to prove reason. When it comes to these fundamental issues, the pious holy men always imply that what is incapable of proof is, therefore, a matter of faith. IMO, this and wishes are what keeps religion alive.

    Pious attacks on reason:
    The pious apologists use a considerable number of attacks on reason to undercut it and make room or faith (You’ve heard it: “Atheism is just a religion!”). For example, an attack I’ve seen a number of times goes like this: “The atheists say we should provide evidence for our conclusions, but where is the evidence for that? There isn’t any!” Another comes from the mind prison of presuppositional apologetics, where, in one form, it’s claimed that the truth of the scriptures must be accepted as an axiom if our thinking is to be valid. Another attack is to deny that knowledge must be based, ultimately, on the evidence of the senses. Of course, some claim that the senses are not reliable (and are a matter of a nonrational faith), which pretty much blows away the evidences of the senses requirement anyway. One prominent apologist uses the holes in the popular enumeration view of scientific induction to find his god’s miracles.

    What to do?:
    I agree with Aristotle in the need to recognize some fundamental axioms at the base of knowledge. To see what he’s talking about, read this short section, Aristotle–The Fundamental Principles: Axioms, in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. A short snippet from the section:

    Thus, first philosophy must also concern itself with the principle of non-contradiction (PNC): the principle that “the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect” (1005b19). This, Aristotle says, is the most certain of all principles, and it is not just a hypothesis. It cannot, however, be proved, since it is employed, implicitly, in all proofs, no matter what the subject matter. It is a first principle, and hence is not derived from anything more basic.

    (One aspect of this that was hard for me to grasp at first is that these axioms are facts that reason depends on and are not the sort of axioms as are found in math–for example, the axioms of the real number system. One can’t derive the existence of tomatoes or learn anything about them by deduction from Aristotle’s fundamental axioms.)

    How atheists lose debates:
    Some atheists see the extreme importance of epistemology and others don’t. Generally, I don’t think the New Atheists see it. I think that is why they don’t do well in debates where the religious opponent is really familiar with attacks on reason. The atheist will let the attacks pass–a disaster. An extreme nutter can obviously be using presuppositional apologetics, but the atheist will say nothing–perhaps not even recognizing it. In some cases, it’s clear that an atheist even holds a significant number of the same epistemological views as the pious. The pious have won if the audience can conclude that the reason thing of the atheists is no threat to their faith. (I recently saw a team debate video from Australia where one of the atheists was strong on epistemology–very refreshing to see.)

    Disclaimer: I’m not a philosopher–but I do understand the need for epistemology:
    I can answer some of the pious nonsense well. In other cases, I have only hunches at this time. However, I suspect that most are solvable by the recognition that some things are true and that any attacker has to assume them–i.e., they are Aristotle type axioms. Be sure to read the short piece in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    Bye and good luck!

  13. Like others I sense the ‘existence of logic’ argument is linked to a wish to attack reason, as opposed to faith. It may or may not be deliberate trick, but as pointed out already the argument is very slippery.
    Perhaps ‘existence’ is the key here. There are different kinds of existence – logic is immaterial , a conceptual tool, like ‘the number 3′ – as opposed to, say, the three apples I’m looking at now. Yet ‘the number 3′ is a very useful tool – like other numbers being used in vast numbers of very material applications.

    I think there are philosophical challenges within logic, one I think being around deductive and inductive reasoning.

    Deductive logic work a bit like maths, if valid and based on true premises, is infallible, but may not really tell you anything that exciting (Einstein was a human, all humans are related to mushrooms, therefore Einstein was related to a mushroom). Arguably, it can only recycle what is already known (yet, while trigonometry is a branch of logic, it feels as if knowing the internal angles of a Euclidian triangle add up to 180 degrees is saying something, not least when one can use that and other mathematical logic to help build bridges, etc)

    Inductive logic draws inferences from experience, or evidence but do not offer the crystalline certainties of deduction (Einstein was a human, most humans have two ears, therefore [so probably] Einstein had two ears. But obviously that would go wrong if we substituted Van Gogh for Einstein.

    In the real world, in science, it is induction that we use – though mathematical (deductive) logic is often a close ally especially in physics.

    So critics of logic might want to suggest than logic is only of the deductive type – and therefore perhaps inherently circular – while playing up the fallibility of induction. Induction of course would be anathema to those desiring absolute certainty – so they might thus think faith is the key – whereas in terms of gaining knowledge it is worse than either deduction (bring irrational) or induction (lacking evidence). Thus, to generally attack logic in philosophical terms only serves to deepen the hole faith advocates are already in.

  14. I used to think that most essentials of logic were axiomatic, though then I heard about Russell’s Principia Mathematica in he took 86 pages to prove 1+1=2. Isn’t that axiomatic?

    Still logic is a fundamental necessity to derive truth (coming from the observation that not all is as it seems).

    Besides which, without logic you cannot make epistemological leaps from scriptural doctrine. E.g. the commandment You shall not steal does not in itself define you (everyone? the Hebrews? Those of Jewish heritage?) or property that can be stolen (real estate? a patentable idea? disposed waste? a scenic view from a window? an autonomous slave?), or what constitutes the act of stealing (destruction? impediment of use? denial of profits?), ergo by its lonesome; the commandment is useless. Taken at purely face value, the entire bible can be rejected so without the ability to make logical steps.

    This question does cross into what is the ideological value of veritable truth in contrast to narrative that preserves culture. Most religions would rather assign truths that concur with local custom and common practice (much like instituting natural law by legislative fiat) than by accurate scientific model, or mathematical truth. I mean you can pass a law (or a bull) designating 3 to be used for pi in all computations, but that will eventually wreak havoc with your engineering.

  15. tractatus-logico philosophicus – http://www.gutenberg.org/files/5740/5740-pdf.pdf

    consider that when one presents the equation 1+ 1 = 2, that 1 + 1 and then 2, stand by themselves without the equal sign

    1+1 2

    one can see that 1+1 equal 2…just like we know that, 2+ 2

    4

    in the same way, we know that our right hand, in most cases has five fingers, and our left hand also has five fingers

    we can also say that we have ten fingers – it doesn’t make this post a system of logic, does it?

    you are already logical, as nature would have you, because if you weren’t logical, you might walk off the end of a pier

    you don’t require a “system” of logic(application ontology), or even an epistemology(knowledge-base) to know that..it is apparent in your reality

    the process of arguing against the simple propositions are usually called “reductio ad absurdum”

    if we want to make the world complex and create our own logic system, or narrative, and base our thinking around those ideas, then it can happen, for instance, religion – we tell this story – a story that can’t be refuted because…well if you dare to refute this story, well it gives me the right to break my own laws, like “thou shalt not kill” which should actually be…”thou shalt not kill” -unless one of these atheist f*^%kers” defies authority or blasphemes…in this case it is ok to break the law…

    as I remember…Simplex Sigillum Veri, means http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Latin_phrases_%28S%29 (1) 2013 -21-16—

    simplicity is the sign of truth

    it is a kind of rule of thumb, a “in the spirit of the ‘object’ – there may be other fancy systems, yet the simple things seem to make sense

    now this isn’t always the case – in some cases the answer is very “counter-intuitive”, though once we “know” something we think, “oh why didn’t i think of that…” like in quantum mechanics and such, though these ideas are the collective effort of many physicists, doing many experiments over many years -epr, to the hadron collider…and like that -so we see how complex theorems have their origins in “real” collective, iterative science – this fact is a very good thing

    now I am plugging the website, which is also a collective effort and iteration of scientists, philosophers, engineers, artisans, coders etc…doing work together and figuring out the straight-forward “simple” answers… we are fortunate sons & daughters, to benefit from this collective effort,RDF – which is better than believing in the easter bunny, and knocking our brains around trying to figure out how that damn rabbit gets in our yard every spring…

    spraguelle

    p.s.
    Wittgenstein also wrote “Philosophical Grammar” also a good work, as I have been recommended…

    • In reply to #23 by Spraguelle:

      one can see that 1+1 equal 2…just like we know that, 2+ 2
      4
      in the same way, we know that our right hand, in most cases has five fingers, and our left hand also has five fingers

      I don’t agree. You are conflating deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. That two plus two equals four is a deductive truth, its true by the definition of the addition function in math. That humans have (usually) five fingers on one hand is an inductive truth, something we verify by empiricism. Inductive truths only have various degrees of certainty.

      Its why at least IMO Dawkins never says he is certain that there is no God, just that its highly probable that there isn’t one. He is treating the claims of religion as empirical hypotheses and as such they can never be completely “disproved” (shown to be false by deductive reasoning) only highly improbable.

      • In reply to #26 by Uriel-238:

        In reply to #24 by Είδα:

        god is logic.

        Oh, do elaborate, please.

        Είδα is surely a little over cryptical here. If the meaning is that God is not a being so much a logical, or indeed mathematical, structure, e.g. the maths within the universe, then I struggle to see what is really gained by believing in such a God, as opposed to the ‘laws’ of physics.

        Without knowing much about such ethereal entities, I suspect the ‘God of the philosophers’ (or mathematicians) would be a pretty emotionally bleak entity, indeed not a sentient being at all and certainly not a source of Hope, Forgiveness, Salvation etc. indeed, a ‘Logic God’ would presumably rule out any miracles or divine interventions as… illogical!

  16. while you can make an argument that every experience is subjective, Logic is simply the only game in town. to suggest any other authority there are two options open. 1. enforce your belief on others. this is using a form of logic in itself. as an apostate in a theocracy you might decide that turning up for church and acting pious is the best way to stop you being imprisoned or tortured and leave your family to fend without you. 2. appeal to your logic. no religious argument works at a logical scale but there are plenty of word games and falacies to trick you into thinking the argument for god or whatever, is a logical one.

  17. to the g-d is logic comment…we are here trying to make headway in the project of reason. we can see that historically, religion, and the elitist beliefs in g-d, from a strictly historical perspective lead to suffering, tragedy, death and extreme suffering…is this the logic to which you refer?

    if there existed an omnipotent, omni, omni, etc g-d, do you not think that this entity would have interceded on our behalf by now? clearly any “causal nexus” remains existential and mostly affected by humans -this is the cause and effect, of which we talk – anything else is purely natural, cosmological, physical etc… i understand your need, I am not talking down to you…my sense is that if people really did study their bibles(all of them) and religion then perhaps they might have a greater understanding of this g-d process, it is strictly narrative and allegorically-based—

    this project of reason is focused on real people, real children and the great effect this delusion is having on the entire world, driving us to extinction (part of the problem, maybe not all, but certainly a primary illicit structure) and the truth is that if we destroy this world, for any reason, religion, ignorance, greed, then it will be a great tragedy

    hello, ask yourself, or your g-d, to answer the question of whether it it right to pursue this destructive path? what if this is “the kingdom” just here on earth right now? what if??hanging out, talking, being good to one another, doesn’t this count?

    so whatever your real name is, is this all worth it, are you 100% sure that this isn’t the kingdom and that we are all just messing it up?

    hopeful, spraguelle

  18. Short answer: they’re talking shite.

    Long answer: what Pete H said.

    And a side note: if this is some kind of online discussion, the other side proves their own acceptance of logic by using the technology in the first place. Though I do think they’d be better off using smoke signals.

  19. well for me the very essence of logic lies in the meaning of god or as i would like to say good. for many say our reality lies on a thing latice of obscure despositions enforced by unforseen circumstances. which brings us to realise that the very logic in reality is our understanding of the grand essence of good as the basis of our existence for good is the seed of continuity it is the very GOD the true logic!

    • In reply to #34 by davecheti:

      well for me the very essence of logic lies in the meaning of god or as i would like to say good.

      Wait, what?

      For many say our reality lies on a thing latice of obscure despositions enforced by unforseen circumstances.

      Nope. Couldn’t parse that either.

      which brings us to realise that the very logic in reality is our understanding of the grand essence of good as the basis of our existence for good is the seed of continuity it is the very GOD the true logic!

      And…no. That doesn’t make any sense to me either. Sorry I’m so daft, but I completely didn’t get what you were saying. Can you please simplify and rephrase?

  20. response to red-dog, re-inductive versus deductive, I defer to Wittgenstein, my sense is that logic problems, and philosophical problems have their origins in mis-communications with language…

    If I can state one thing about language is that it is physically(functionally) historical -as it is related to the information abstracted, related to another. Also naturally obfuscated by the mind…

    One can say, “Goodbye” to a friend, and sincerely wish them a “goodbye”, on the same day, you can say goodbye to someone, you don’t like—bu-bye, or goodbye…really sarcasm…and meaning something entirely different – syntactically identical, but they don’t have the same meaning

    In the “tract”…Wittgenstein references, and reinforces Aristotle’s PNC…Post 19 -meIM—though Godel might have something to say about that, if he were alive…hehehe

    inductive reasoning, if I argue this then I might be guilty of ARA…{5 + 5 …10—fingers-hands} {1 + 1 2-eyes-vision} {2+2…4-limbs-body}

    my proposition was to provide an “existential example” that also had a mathematical component

    although it is important to understand the ill-fated examples of “inductive reasoning”, which are utilized by religious people with abandon, to either their own self-deprecation, or to try and make logic look silly by using inductive reasoning as a primary example of “logic”, so your point is well-taken…

    if the question posted by (the user)who posted this discussion is really interested they might research the difference between the two-inductive/deductive

    spraguelle

    • In reply to #36 by Spraguelle:

      response to red-dog, re-inductive versus deductive, I defer to Wittgenstein, my sense is that logic problems, and philosophical problems have their origins in mis-communications with langu

      I agree with you about mis-communications and I thought your previous comment was such an example of not communicating the critical difference between induction and deduction. I don’t recall Wittgenstein saying anything that indicated he didn’t believe in that distinction.

      • are you going to let us in on the posting bug??? hehehe. Wittgenstein certainly made the distinction…I wrote”in the same way, we know that our right hand, in most cases has five fingers, and our left hand also has five fingers” “in most cases”, do I really need to defend this?, I have clearly referred to the distinction between the most probable scenario of five fingers, and the intimated possibility of a Django…c’mon You remember, “Socrates is identical”??? If I state – “Socrates is identical” – to a deadman after he drinks a cup of hemlock. Then a specific adjectival version of “identical” is not required, because I have qualified the “truth-function” by presenting the “precedence”, although questionable without the qualifier, but the qualifier, “in most cases” is present – I didn’t think I had to give specific examples like, we know that our right hand, unless we are, person equal =,Django(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Django_Reinhardt-2013-07-11—18-54, and/or Tommy Iommi -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Iommi-2013-07-11—18-54, c’mon??

        anyways I’m more interested in your hack? please do tell….post-re-comment hack,red (diggity)dog

        spraguelle

        lIn reply to #37 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #36 by Spraguelle:

        response to red-dog, re-inductive versus deductive, I defer to Wittgenstein, my sense is that logic problems, and philosophical problems have their origins in mis-communications with langu

        I agree with you about mis-communications and I thought your previous comment…

  21. Maybe the focus of the argument isnt the best one – let me try and offer a different approach.

    Introduce logic + relying on evidence as a tool we have and show its effectiveness in helping to solve our problems of existence.
    Argue that there are no better tool to be found around by showing the numerous mistakes made by other “tools” of decryption of reality.

    Then bring the discussion to the present by presenting the problem of over population of the world and show how religion and faith on one hand, and logic and relying on evidence on the other – tend to lead to contradicting solutions. Show that the religious/faith solution is synonymous to global suicide of the human race.
    And there we have it, hopefully, Point made clear.

    Also i would sugggest trying to show that without logic and reasoning + relying on evidence we have no other reliable set of tools to differentiate between the countless different religions and faith types.

    Hope i helped.

  22. The question “What proves logic?” is hard to answer because it’s too vague. Maybe our friend who asked it wonders whether some argument proves that inference rules, the law of noncontradiction, say, give us reliable ways to tell the difference between correct reasoning and incorrect reasoning. Does he want to know whether those rules are manmade?

    You may believe that truth and falsehood are semantic properties that the meanings of declarative sentences have. Sadly, you run into semantic paradoxes when you do that, the Liar’s Paradox, for example. But Aristotle avoided them when he taught that nothing can both be and not be in the same respect at the same time. The law of noncontradiction may be a metaphysical principle, a principle about the nature of reality, not about semantics.

    The same rock can’t be both hard and not hard in the same respect time. A rock is a material object, and hardness is a property that some actual rocks have. There’s no paradox here, though, because we’re talking about a material object. You can touch a rock, taste it, and smell it. It’s not the meaning of a declarative sentence, and it’s not some strange ghostly thing that you discover when you inspect what’s in your mind. You can grab the rock and hit me in the head with it, which some may want to do because I’m a Catholic with a philosophy degree. : )

  23. Another point may interest when you think about logic. We’re talking generally about logic when we haven’t defined it, the thing rather than the word “logic.” You can ask what justifies inductive reasoning that scientists do. Scientists assume a lot. They take it on faith, if you will, even when they tell us theists that faith consists of believing when you have no evidence for what you believe. They don’t give you any reason to believe that there’s such a thing as evidence. Do they assume that there is evidence for their belief that there is such a thing?

    I’ll bet you remember Professor Dawkins told a woman when she asked, “What if you’re wrong?” He relied with something like this, “You could be wrong, I could be wrong, anybody could be wrong. If you grow up in a Christian country, you’ll believe in the Christian God. In a Hindu country, you’s believe in the thousands of Hindu gods. In a Muslim one, you’ll believe in the Muslim one. What if you’re wrong about the Christian God? What if you’re wrong about the Hindu gods? What if you’re wrong about the Muslim one? My friend, what if you’re wrong about the flying spaghetti monster?”

    Now let’s question Professor Dawkins in much the same way that he questioned the woman. “Professor Dawkins, you could be wrong, I could be wrong, anybody could be wrong. If you grew up in China during the Ming Dynasty, you’d believe in ancient Chinese science. In fifth-century India, you believe in ancient India science. In a society I learned about in an an anthropology course, you’d believe that you could use bird entrails to predict the future. Since you live in the West, you believe in Western science. What if you’re wrong about ancient Chinese science? What if you’re wrong about ancient Indian science, what if you’re wrong about bird entrails? What if you’re wrong about Western science?” Like everyone else, he needs to use correct principles when he answers questions, or he may realize that sometimes even he reasons fallaciously. Ask him, “Professor Dawkins, what proves your logic?” He may even discover now and then that Aristotle’s reasoning was better than his because Aristotle knew some correct principles.

    My friends, natural science depends on principles that already existed before people invented it. Do you know what that dependence suggests to me? It suggests that scientism is false. It even hints that to ground your scientific knowledge, you need metaphysical principles. Still, too many scientists reject metaphysics. Why? Because it’s not scientific in their sense of the word “scientific.” If they reject the principles on which natural science depends, why do they accept natural science? Maybe they take it on faith.

  24. Logic can be looked at like: Mathematics. Betrand Russell would probably agree in some way, given his contributions to the field. However, what Pascendi stated about “What proves logic?” is true; it can be enormously vague. Ultimately if we take the word Logic for what it is, we should at least understand the myriad of fields that use ‘Logic.’

    It is the context in which it is used that makes a dramatic difference. Similarly, the paradox is that: it takes Logic to understand Logic! We are reasoning out what is the benefit or truth to it in a sense, but, we use the same mental faculties that rely on collected information that forms an individual’s line of Logic.

    As for Logic being something like an “Almighty Truth,” I think you start to place it in a metaphysical stage. Logic is what Logic need be to a particular case..e.g., Computer Science.

    People whose line of logic that tells them to stone people versus those who choose not to may be in the realm of taboo. But again what reference is it used in here? Humanitarianism?

    I do not presume it is a universal in the sense that there is an Ultimate Line of Logic for all of life. Math is a peculiar line of Logic we use in science to help with our findings. But, the numbers have alluded us many things. I don’t think there is an Ultimate Truth: that in itself may be an Ultimate truth. But, how should we presume that there is a perfect line of Logic, or reasoning for humans to follow? The universe does not seem to follow any particular logic, it just does what it does. Logic can be what you want it to be, it can be what you don’t want it to be, it can be many things. In certain fields it is an ultimate line of sequence, like coding for a PC or software. But to attach to to a metaphysical thing, is murky water.

  25. In a university, I took three courses about logic: Critical Thinking, Introduction to Logic and Quantification Theory. The Quantification Theory course included Model Theory, too. My second logic professor defined logic as “A collection of rules and principles that enables us to tell the difference between correct reasoning and incorrect reasoning.” That definition seems general enough to describe any of logic’s subfields: proof theory, fuzzy logic, paraconsistent logic, modal logic, mathematical logic . . . But logic differs from the ability to reason. Even if atheism is true, which it may be, we can still reason partly because inference rules at least seem to describe part of the nature of reality.

    Although we may prefer to ignore St. Thomas Aquinas’s 13th-century thought, he’s a metaphysical realist. He believes that there’s a mind-independent world that lasts, even when we don’t perceive any of it.

    Strangely, an Enlightenment philosopher, Bishop George Berkeley, speculates that tables, chairs, houses and other objects are only collections of ideas. For him, they’re real all right. But he would tell that for them to persist when we stop perceiving them, they’ll need God to keep them in existence. Berkeley thinks that like us, tables, chairs, books and microscopes are real objects. He just invented a weird, implausible theory about the nature of reality. Why is it implausible because the contents of dreams are different from sensory perceptions you have when you’re awake.

    From another Enlightenment philosopher, David Hume, we learn that there may be no cause-and-effect relations. He urges that some things happen after other things, though the first event may not cause the second one. Each time you drop a baseball, it’ll fall to the ground. But maybe falling only happens to follow dropping. Even if they do that, you probably will still believe that there are causes and effects. Saint Thomas would agree with you, too. There are such things. Hume wouldn’t. Thomas discovered principles that science assumes. Now who looks medieval: the Angelic Doctor or the Scottish philosopher? : ) : ) : ) What Descartes’s philosophy in his book called “Meditations on First Philosophy? You guessed it: solipsism.

    Please understand. I believe firmly that natural science gives us genuine knowledge. So I’m not bashing the Enlightenment. I just don’t assume that science and the Enlightenment thought are always as rational as many reasoners seem to think those things are. Someday you may want to remember some things I’ve just said. They just might help you think a little more deeply about metaphysical principles, inference rules and other topics when Dr. Lawrence Krauss assures you that some actual quantum particles have some properties that imply self-contradictions. It’s one thing to know that some ideas imply self-contradictions. It’s quite another to think that natural, material objects can have actual properties that imply them.

    You know, I hope, that I was only joking about the rock. I did that because from what the New Atheists say about theists, you’d wonder whether most theists were gullible fools who needed someone to knock some sense into their heads. No, I wasn’t hinting at anything about stoning.

    • In reply to #43 by Pascendi:

      In a university, I took three courses about logic: Critical Thinking, Introduction to Logic and Quantification Theory. The Quantification Theory course included Model Theory, too. My second logic professor defined logic as “A collection of rules and principles that enables us to tell the differenc…

      If your logic can countenance some entity in the sky pulling the strings in earthly affairs, there’s something wrong with the initial premise.

  26. Nitya, what’s “my logic?” I haven’t invented any. But I’ve learned at least as much, maybe even more, about that than mathematicians I’ve met have ever learned about it. Remember, logic differs from reasoning.

    Let me reflect a little longer about your comment about a “string puller in the sky” when I reread a theologian’s article about whether Heaven is a place. I’m well-read in philosophy, theology, and computer science. I programmed professionally, too, after I took paleontology in college.
    But I haven’t met any philosophically or theologically well-informed scholars who believe that anyone can find Him among the stars. Anyone who imagines that God is some bearded old man trying to touch another man’s fingertip doesn’t believe in the God I believe in.

    Read St. Augustine. He’ll because he believes that God created space and time. Supposing that he’s right, it hardly makes sense for him to ask what God did before He created them.

    Too often, I hear people ask, “If everything has a cause, what caused God?” Their question shows that they don’t understand the first-cause argument for God’s existence. So let’s consider St. Thomas Aquinas’s first-cause argument. The saint never argues that everything has a cause. He argues that everything that begins to exist has a cause. That’s partly why he would call God the “uncaused cause.”

    The self-causation idea is a self-contradictory idea because it implies that a self-caused thing’s cause precedes effect. Suppose there were self-causation. Then the cause and the effect would be exactly the same thing, and a self-caused object would need to both exist and not exist at the same time. God doesn’t cause His own existence. It follows from His nature. That’s why we call Him a “necessary being.” If He is a necessary being, then I contradict myself when I deny that He exists.

    In Aquinas’s first-cause argument, “first cause,” doesn’t stand for the cause that comes immediately before the second cause in a set of countable causes. It means that God is, in philosophical jargon, ontologically prior to everyone else and to everything else. They depend on Him for their existence. That’s why St. Thomas believes that no philosophical argument can prove that the universe began to exit. Even if the universe has always existed, it may still depend on Him to to keep it in existence.

    I know that some physicists believe that some events are uncaused. Would those scientists please tell me what they need to prove that some event is uncaused. It may have some cause that natural science will never discover.

    • In reply to #46 by Pascendi:

      Nitya, what’s “my logic?” I haven’t invented any. But I’ve learned at least as much, maybe even more, about that than mathematicians I’ve met have ever learned about it. Remember, logic differs from reasoning.

      Let me reflect a little longer about your comment about a “string puller in the sky” wh…

      It appears that you cannot imagine our universe ( or perhaps multiverse) having always existed, but when it comes to a god you have no such problems because you are able to draw on a couple of long dead saints as authority. I’m not impressed by your qualifications because I think that what you’re saying is fanciful.

      The concept of a god/goddess doesn’t hold any weight as far as I’m concerned so I’m afraid quoting religious dogma is not going to cut it. In fact the authorities on whom you’re relying are not mentioned in the bible, though I suspect they’re part of the RCC faith tradition. Why would I pay heed to these ? I don’t think they contributed to profound insights on our origins. Sorry, I don’t mean to offend your sensibilities, but you’re not preaching to the choir here, you’re trying to explain your position to an unbeliever, and not a catholic unbeliever.

  27. When I wrote, “Anyone who imagines that God is some bearded old man trying to touch another man’s fingertip doesn’t believe in the God I believe in,” I should have replaced “imagines” with “thinks” or with “believes.”

  28. Nitya,

    No worries. You haven’t offended either me or my sensibilities. But I wonder how carefully you’ve read my post about uncaused events, self-causation and so forth. I can imagine a universe that has always existed. So can St. Thomas Aquinas. Again, even he admits that the universe could have always existed. The question, for me, isn’t whether it has always existed. For me, the question is whether the universe depends on anyone or on anything else to keep it existing.

    Funny you should mention multiverses, my friend, because a night or two ago, I watched a Youtube video where Dinesh D’sousa talks about a physicist who told him that there’s no empirical evidence that there are any multiverses. Even if there are infinitely many actual multiverses, I can still ask whether any or all of them depend on anyone or on anything else for their existence. Besides, supposing that they do exist, their laws of nature and other factors may make those multiverses inaccessible to us in every sense of the phrase “inaccessible to us.” I’ll post a link to the video when I can.

    You don’t explain why there’s anything at all by saying that there are or may be multiverses. Multiverses may be nothing rather than something. They may not exist.

    Since we may wonder why there’s something rather than nothing, please remember that the word “nothing” means “not anything.” It doesn’t stand for something that we call “nothing.”

    By the way, imagining something and conceiving are different from each other. When you imagine something, you picture it in your mind. You can’t imagine a 10,000-sided geometric figure. You can’t form a mental image of it. But maybe you can conceive of a 10,000-sided one, i.e., maybe you can still think about one with your intellect. People born blind can’t imagine the color pink while they’re still blind. Give them enough information about photons, wavelengths, spectrums . . ., though, and I’ll bet they can still reason about that color, the cause(s) of it or both.

    I don’t expect to convince anyone that God exists. But what I’ve been writing is still at least partly about what we’re discussing. After all, the thread title is something like “The authority of logic or god.”

    Oh, I forgot to mention that Berkeley was a Protestant and that Hume was an agnostic or an atheist. Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine were Catholic. St, Thomas taught philosophy and theology. St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, taught rhetoric and wrote thousands of pages of theology.

    My credentials, even my degrees, aren’t very important when we correspond with each other. What’s important is whether our beliefs are true, whether they conform to reality.

    • In reply to #49 by Pascendi:

      Nitya,

      No worries. You haven’t offended either me or my sensibilities. But I wonder how carefully you’ve read my post about uncaused events, self-causation and so forth. I can imagine a universe that has always existed. So can St. Thomas Aquinas. Again, even he admits that the universe could ha…

      Firstly, let me shed some light on where I’m coming from. I was brought up in the Protestant tradition, though obviously not a believer now. Protestants know a lot about the bible even if they don’t believe it. Our range of saints is pretty much limited to the apostles and not many more. All these extra saints, the notion of purgatory, limbo and crucifixes, the rosary , miracles, rituals etc are completely foreign to Protestants and are considered to be superstition. Of course it’s all superstition, but this is thought of as turbo charged superstition.

      So…. Mentioning St Thomas Aquinus or St Augustine to me as if I would instantly recall their teachings, is a waste of time. The only thing I think I know about St Thomas Aquinus is that he requested a comfortable armchair in heaven so that he could spend eternity watching atheists burn in hell. Perhaps this information is actually attributed to some other saint, but nonetheless it’s not very nice is it?

      Now, back to logic. It may be possible to construct a logical argument to support your idea that the universe needed to be created to be brought into existence, however this doesn’t make it likely.

  29. Nitya,

    I know that St. Thomas Aquinas’s thought is new to many, maybe even to most, Protestants. Most Protestant theology is new to me because Lutheran theology and Calvinist theology are only kinds of theology even vaguely familiar to me. During high school, I joined a Lutheran youth group, went to Bible studies, listened to Protestant music . . .

    Before I began to discuss Catholicism with a Protestant acquaintance of mine, I ignored philosophy and theology. We discussed it because she gave me a book full of arguments against Catholic beliefs when she probably assumed that the Bible verses would convince me that my religion conflicted with what that holy book taught.

    Too many Protestants believe that Catholics ignore the Bible. Back then, I read it only rarely, but the booklet didn’t convince me. The Bible verses didn’t shock me. I drove to a college library, read some Catholic theology books with Latin in them, a language I’m only beginning to learn. The books answered most of the booklet’s objections and made me long to study theology and philosophy, especially philosophy.

    Philosophy and theology led me to books by the Christians who wrote in about the first 800 years of Church history. Their writings were eyeopeners for me because they supported Catholicism. In fact, the documents from the Council of Ephesus that met in 431 AD show that its Council Fathers believed that their council taught infallibly and that Pope Celestine, the then reigning Pope, taught with St. Peter’s authority.

    Are Catholics making this stuff up? No, I found those document in a 38-volume set of ancient Christian writings edited by Philip Schaff, a Protestant historian and published by Hendrickson Publishing Company, a Protestant company. Protestant converts to Catholicism who bought that huge anthology tell me that although they love the ancient writings, they hate the commentary that comes with them. Sorta suggests that the scholars weren’t biased for Catholicism, eh? Even if they were biased against it, their translations of those writings still taught what the Catholic Church teaches.

    I think many people, including the New Atheists, need to read the Bible with some cultural and historical information to help them interpret it. Because Maybe, just maybe, if they did that, they would see that Holy Scripture is hardly the absurd book they think it is now. Naturally, much of it seems silly, to put it very mildly: talking donkeys, a demon disguised as a serpent, Old Testament passages about an old man who parted the Red Sea . . . Still, 1,000 years from now, scientists may need plenty of historical/cultural information when they read Professor Dawkins’s books.

    Naturally, from our 21st-century scientific it’ll seem ridiculous enough to convince most of us that only a moron would believe it. The problem is that we misinterpret it when we ignore extrabiblical information that explains what ancient Christians thought it meant. The ancients knew what parts were literal, what ones were literal, what parts were history, which ones were poetry. It’s as though Dawkins, Hichins, Harris and others demolish straw men when they interpret it. Franky, they’re among the most theologically illiterate scholars I know of. Some may even ask, “Why should be bother with philosophy and theology when we’re scientists?” Maybe they can ignore, say, metaphysics. But natural science is brimming with metaphysical assumptions.

    Maybe an argument can’t make its conclusion probable. But a false scientific hypothesis may still be statistically probable that doubt would be unreasonable. So Let me try to explain.

    Say you’re a bird biologist who wonders whether all swans are white. You grab your laptop, attach a digital camera to it, and the computer to count each unique swan it sees. Weeks later, your computer tells you, in its best radio voice, “Nitya, I counted a million white swans.” The number is accurate, too. Although you’ve gathered excellent inductive evidence for your white swan hypothesis, there’s always a chance that a counterexample may conclusively disprove your conclusion. Even one counterexample is enough to do that. Even if your computer counts each bird only once, your white swan hypothesis is still false because some swans are black. Scientific Inductive arguments are always inconclusive when they support their conclusions. My arguments may not make their conclusions statistically probable. But high statistical probably doesn’t guarantee that a highly probable conclusion is true. With or without statistics, the conclusions are already true or false, even before anyone argues for them.

    Here’s the promised link.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=mNhf140H42s

    • In reply to #51 by Pascendi:

      Nitya,

      I know that St. Thomas Aquinas’s thought is new to many, maybe even to most, Protestants. Most Protestant theology is new to me because Lutheran theology and Calvinist theology are only kinds of theology even vaguely familiar to me. During high school, I joined a Lutheran youth group, went…

      Hi Pascendi. I can appreciate that you are a religious scholar. By mentioning Luther you are entering the realms of things I know, though not being a Lutheran myself, it’s not a lot, just his objection to the sale of indulgences and the 99 theses posted on the door of the cathedral etc.

      I am interested in your thoughts on the origins of the universe however, ( not doctrine,mind you). My thoughts on the matter are pretty standard. I think the Big Bang Theory is the most likely explanation considering the accelerating expansion of the universe. Before that, there are many possibilities put out there that seem tantalisingly possible. IMO we are getting closer and closer to reaching an answer that satisfies. I hope it happens in my lifetime.

      I’m so grateful to be alive now, when so much is known about the origins of the universe and the state of the cosmos. The explanations offered in past centuries would not have satisfied me at all, in fact I probably would have been burnt as a heretic.

  30. Hi Nitya,

    My real name is “Bill.”

    Well, I thought my OCD was working better than it did when I typed the post you’ve just answered. :) Since I proofread for a publisher, I should have seen my stupid mistakes in what I wrote. Now I’m even wondering when I wrote it: today or last night.

    Thank you for calling me a scholar, my friend. I wish I were l living up to that kind description, and I want to go back to graduate school for a doctorate. But I’m just an average guy who can’t seem to pry his nose out of a book.

    Embarrassment is good for the soul, I hope, because I don’t know what to believe about origins. That’s why I’ll need you to tell me, in language for dummies, about the big bang. I’ve heard that the word “bang” misleads people because nothing exploded, something expanded. A big bang hardly seems to be an example of creation out of nothing when there’s something there to expand. Is the idea that the singularity, whatever that is, came from nothing? Did something or cram the rest of the universe into a tiny ball that sat alone in the middle of nowhere? If it did, that sure sounds as though the ball sat somewhere. How’d the nowhere get somewhere? ;)

    I guess I’ve ignored cosmogeny because microbiology has been the only natural science that has fascinated me. Botany interests me now, though, because I raise my “kids,” my Venus Flytraps, “who” probably will nip me to punish me for typos. :)

    • In reply to #53 by Pascendi:

      Hi Nitya,

      My real name is “Bill.”

      Well, I thought my OCD was working better than it did when I typed the post you’ve just answered. :) Since I proofread for a publisher, I should have seen my stupid mistakes in what I wrote. Now I’m even wondering when I wrote it: today or last night.

      Thank you…

      Hi Bill. Some have suggested that the Big Bang came after the Big Crunch. Now that’s an interesting possibility! A series of vast expansions followed by a series of collapses ad infinitum. It would explain the nature of time as well, as each new “Bang” would bring with it a starting point for the arrow of time. No one actually knows as yet, and they shouldn’t pretend to know ( my dig at faith, yet again), but those at the cutting edge of science can make really great predictions! The fact that these projections are backed up by the maths adds to their plausibility.

      You mentioned the “where” question. This is when it becomes really mind boggling. No doubt you have touched upon these considerations in philosophy. I think we get closer to understanding these things the more we do the science. As time goes on information is built up layer upon layer and if we ever come to an understanding, it will be by way of scientific rigour and not revelation.

      Of course this could all be completely wrong and years of tedious study could have been all in vain. Perhaps a deity was responsible all along, however I think the odds are definitely not in that direction. I’m glad that we earthlings have developed the technology to view the cosmos and can look back into the early days of the universe and ponder how it all started.

  31. Bill,
    as an old atheist who has studied religion for many decades now I really enjoyed reading your many thoughts.

    I was recently awarded my Doctor of Divinity so I’m a fully qualified, authentic expert in theology now, despite having spent a lifetime working in highly specialized scientific fields. I was most impressed by your ambition to further your studies and thought perhaps I could provide you some inside advice, as it were.

    You seem to be perfectly adapted to study theology in my humble opinion Bill, thereby avoiding the possibility of any further angst over logic altogether.

    Furthermore I think any distractions like science or philosophy may well hamper your conspicuously natural aptitude for theology. A gift you might say.

  32. Len, thank you for your kind, surprising thoughts. They may even be an answer to a prayer because I’ve been begging God to tell me whether He gave me a talent for philosophy and theology. Who would have thought that answer would come from an atheist with a Ddiv degree?

    I can hardly tell you how much I regret that my first degree was a practical one from a two-year college, where professors prepared students for practical careers. Many other students probably would have parroted the typical American answers when someone asked them why they went to college. They would have replied, “I want an MBA,” “I need a job,” “I want to be a millionaire . . .” None of them would have said what Roger Scruton would tell you: Education is a goal, not a mere way to reach one. In an anthropology course where we talked about why students go to college, the professor silenced me when I satisfied my politically incorrect urge to ask, “What’s wrong with gaining knowledge only because it’s an innately good thing to get?” In a country tainted with American pragmatism and political correctness, the phrase “innately good” is potentially offensive.

    The community college turned me into a technician who can program computers in about 11 programming languages. They didn’t give me a liberal arts education. Nobody taught he how to be a generalist who would see the big picture. I wouldn’t want to be a scientist because science would force me to specialize again when I want to know at least a little about every subject I can know about. Were I a scientist, I would ignore the principles that a generalist needs to know. I would love to learn as much science as I can. But I would hate to let it narrow my perspective enough that I’d believe scientism.

    For me, the Enlightenment is a mixed blessing. It’s helped us discover many truths about the natural world. But in my opinion, it has also promoted idolatrous hubris that tells us that with enough time and with enough effort, humans can explain everything. I see Dr. Dawkins as a brilliant scientist and an ideologue. The part about ideology isn’t a moral judgement. It’s only a potentially false opinion. I still know something for sure, though: I’d hate to be an ideologue.

    One of my heroes is Sir Charles Coulombe because to me, he’s a quintessential liberally educated scholar. Don’t let any field give you intellectual tunnel vision. Be glad you’re intellectually versatile enough to be a scientist and a theologian. Judging from what I hear from Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, Krauss and others, that’s a pretty astounding feat.

    I’ve read Dennett’s book “Consciousness Explained.” How’ that for a hubristic title? He writes brilliantly, and I love his sense of humor. But I’m not a product of the Enlightenment. If you ask me whether I’m modern or postmodern, I’ll feel tempted to say that I’m premodern.” To me, Enlightenment thought and postmodernism are in some respects almost exact opposites. Enlightenment thought is too, too optimistic about what we can know. Postmodernism is too, too pessimistic about it.

  33. Nitya, I’m still wondering what to write about your most recent post to me. Maybe after I clear up the confusion that Big Bangs are causing me, I’ll think up an intelligent reply or two. Meanwhile, I’m resisting my impulsive streak because it wants to strike again. I’d say it wanted to streak again, but streaking is obscene. :)

  34. Nitya, last night my computer read me an article about the Big Bang, where I learned that before the singularity existed, there was nothing at all, not anything. Then the article said something like, “Where did the singularity come from? We don’t know.” If the word “where” stood for a physical place, then the article told me that we don’t know where the singularity came from, and I need to wonder whether it came from somewhere. If it came from a physical place, then it’s easy to doubt that before the singularity came along, there was literally nothing, i.e., not anything, at all.

    The word “thing” can stand for an immaterial object, a number, say. If you’re looking at the digit “1″ on the first page of “The God Delusion,” you’re not looking at a number. You’re looking at the name of a number. You’re looking at another name of a number when you find some way to look at a group of electrical charges in a computer’s main storage, a group of binary digits. What’ll happen when tell you computer to interpret the sequence of electrical charges as a character? A letter of the alphabet or a smiley may appear on your screen. What binary digits represent in a computer depends heavily on context. Even in computing, there’s vagueness, and all the beginner’s talk about the Big Bang is still too vague.

    When you ask where the singularity came from, maybe you’re asking what caused it. Well, I think we know that since the self-causation idea is self-contradictory, the singularity didn’t cause itself to begin to exist. Maybe it just popped into being without a cause, as some physicists seem to think some quanta can do. Then I wish those physicists would answer a question I’ve already tried to ask here: What method can you, I, a physicist, or anyone else use to tell the difference between an uncaused event and an event with a humanly undiscoverable cause?

    There’s another question, one that suggests logical inconsistency: What can an infinitely small material object do to become the huge singularity we’re living in? How long would an infinitely small thing need, how much time would it take, to grow before it was oh, about a trillionth of a centimeter wide? Isn’t the question a little like asking how much time you’ll need to take to walk to the end of an infinitely long path?

    For me, there’s no problem with the idea that there are infinitely many integers when integers, rather than their names, are immaterial objects. Then again, I have no problem with the idea that an infinitely powerful God could create something out of nothing at all. We’re not talking about something that Dr. Krauss and friends have dubbed with the word “nothing.” We’re talking about what “nothing” actually stands for, not anything. Maybe the singularity is evidence for creation out of nothing. Maybe not. But it seems to me that this website’s namesake and many like him are hardly willing to consider that possibility. After all, by their statistical number-crunching, God almost certainly does not exist.

    Maybe if some scientists would learn some metaphysical first principles, their theories might confuse me a little less than those theories do now. The trouble is that metaphysics is a branch of philosophy, and fans of scientism seem to dismiss philosophy out of hand. They do that in much the same way that they dismiss theism. They’ll insist, “We don’t need God. We have science. God is an outdated fictional character in a book about a talking snake.” By obsoleting God, they’re ignoring something that Aristotle knew long before their birth: Natural objects at least seem to serve purposes. Your kidneys don’t know that they’re cleaning your blood. But they’re still cleaning it. They’re still doing something that you need them to do. They’re still reaching a goal: clean blood. If they don’t reach it, you may need a machine to filter your blood.

    • In reply to #59 by Pascendi:

      Nitya, last night my computer read me an article about the Big Bang, where I learned that before the singularity existed, there was nothing at all, not anything. Then the article said something like, “Where did the singularity come from? We don’t know.” If the word “where” stood for a physical pl…

      Hi.Some very interesting thoughts once again. I’m glad you mentioned Krauss because I really like his ideas and ways of explaining such incredibly complex concepts. Although you’ve done your best to throw light on your understandings with examples ( I need to reread these at my leisure as they’re pretty lofty), we’re still stuck in the place of explaining the singularity or lack of “something” by introducing a “thing” ie a god. Why is it that you can get your head around one seemingly impossible notion by introducing yet another seemingly impossible notion? To me, they’re both a stretch, so why not choose the simpler proposition without bringing in an even more complex and incomprehensible answer? One form will most likely be answerable in the fullness of time, whereas the other supernatural answer will never,ever be answerable, unless of course we retain consciousness after we’re dead.( and I think that is highly unlikely unless consciousness is possible without brain function and experiments prove that this is not the case.)

      On another completely different theme….I agree with you regarding knowledge for its own sake, however one needs to earn a living at some point, so education and training is usually aimed to this end. It’s okay for me as I’ve retired from the paid workforce ( I do voluntary work), but unless one has a private income it’s out of the question.

    • In reply to #59 by Pascendi:

      Nitya, last night my computer read me an article about the Big Bang, where I learned that before the singularity existed, there was nothing at all, not anything. Then the article said something like, “Where did the singularity come from? We don’t know.” If the word “where” stood for a physical pl…

      I’ve been thinking about your post and have difficulty understanding some of your analogies. I’ll plough on anyway, and you can tell me if my understandings are what you intended. Are you suggesting that your deity/ first cause is not comprised of matter, but is a concept such as the number concept? Although not corporal the deity was able to call forth into being all the matter in the universe in a way that is beyond our understanding? I would call this the deist position in the same way that I suspect Paul Davies has in mind ( though I’m not 100% in this. Possibly talking through my hat).

      I feel as if this is what you’re suggesting though I would still respond in the same manner. Why introduce an extra degree of difficulty to something that is already difficult to comprehend? By introducing this notion you have all manner of individuals claiming to know the word of god, constructing dogma that inhibits members of the community and behaving in a way that causes conflict between nations.

    • In reply to #59 by Pascendi:

      “Where did the singularity come from? We don’t know.” If the word “where” stood for a physical place, then the article told me that we don’t know where the singularity came from, and I need to wonder whether it came from somewhere.”where” stood for a physical place.

      At the moment we are looking at cosmological models that feature multiple universes, certainly a very large number but (and this will be relevant in a moment) not infinite. The more interesting question to me is when did it come from, because time is reasoned to not have started until the moment of the big bang. Theists pretend that their respective gods exist outside of time but that’s only speculation, and not necessarily even possible. It’s an insufficient answer.

      Before the big bang, there was no where and no when in which events could occur. And if they happened outside of our universe, that means they happened on other dimensions all perpendicular to ours. How did that manifest?

      • In reply to #63 by Uriel-238:

        In reply to #59 by Pascendi:

        “Where did the singularity come from? We don’t know.” If the word “where” stood for a physical place, then the article told me that we don’t know where the singularity came from, and I need to wonder whether it came from somewhere.”where” stood for a physical place.

        Sorry to but in to your reply, but I didn’t know that being one of multiple universes meant that they were finite? I thought that there was a possibility that the whole multiverse scenario could have existed forever? I’ve seen it explained like a series of bubbles, popping in and out of existence. I can visualise this, and I can even imagine that it may be infinite.

  35. Nitya, I’ll need to reread some arguments before I write much about your newest reply to me. But the short answer is that for me, the theistic explanation of why there’s anything at all seems metaphysically simpler than any naturalistic argument I’ve ever heard from any atheist.

    I will reread those arguments. Meanwhile, let me remind you of something that makes scientists’ appeal to Occham’s Razor seem a little strange. William of Occham was a Catholic philosopher who would hardly have thought he multiplied entities beyond necessity when he said that God created the universe. If scientists are going to “shave with Occham’s Razor,” they may want to read a few writings by the man who invented it.

  36. Nitya, since you think the God notion seems impossible, please tell us what you mean by the word “God.” I’m wondering whether you agree with Professor Dawkins when he says that a God who created anything as complex as the universe would need to be more complex than what he created. His opinion would be clearly heterodox by Catholic standards, maybe even heretical. Maybe the good professor hasn’t studied the Catholic doctrine about divine simplicity.

    • In reply to #65 by Pascendi:

      Nitya, since you think the God notion seems impossible, please tell us what you mean by the word “God.” I’m wondering whether you agree with Professor Dawkins when he says that a God who created anything as complex as the universe would need to be more complex than what he created. His opinion wou…

      Before I start to explain my concept of a god/deity/ entity could you please tell me if I was right in my assumption regarding the nature of your first cause argument ? I wouldn’t like to be putting words into your mouth or suggesting a stance that you most definitely don’t hold. ( I feel as if I keep presenting my position but you are not).

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