Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
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27-10-2017, 10:21 PM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
(27-10-2017 04:44 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  The argument you're making only matters if you're talking about linear temporal causation (which is the only kind of causation most modern people are aware of). The first cause/prime mover arguments of Aristotle and Aquinas deal with a different kind of causation -- "vertical" or hierarchical causation, which is independent of time.

I just reread Aquinas, OK reskimmed, and I think I see where the confusion is. He's doing both. Facepalm

Aquinas' Argument from First Cause is the traditional temporal causation. A string of toppling dominoes with Aquinas arguing that God must have pushed the first one. It runs afoul of a lack of temporal causality if you try and leave the universe. I'll ignore it.

Aquinas' Argument from Prime Mover is a horribly misleading name, as are the "causes" that it refers to. Both terms have other, clear meanings and their use really muddies matters. Hierarchy of necessity or logical priority are both clearer. This is the one where he's getting into non-temporal "causes".

Quote:To re-use an example that I used earlier today in a different thread, you can't have structures or organisms without matter. Matter as we know it is made up of molecules, which are made of atoms, which are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Some of those things are made up of quarks. I don't know if physics has gone down beyond quarks yet (or if this is even possible), but let's suppose quarks are as small as it gets. They could then be thought of as a "first cause". Note that all of these things exist simultaneously, but if there are no quarks, everything above that level collapses.

Check. Logical priority.
- molecules require atoms
- atoms require protons, neutrons and electrons
- protons and neutrons require quarks and gluons
- quarks and gluons are about as elementary as it gets

So while neither of us is a quantum cosmologist I still have to wonder, why not stop at elementary particles? We can go a bit further if you like but we'll hit a wall in a moment.

- elementary particles require energy. No energy, no e=mc^2
- energy requires space-time. It is necessary that there be somewhere for it to exist at and somewhen for it to exist during.

Yes, I know, we ended up back at space-time but that was pretty much inevitable. The basic capacity for existence that space-time provides is logically prior to everything further up your contingency tree.

If we did not have X there would be no space-time. Solve for X.

A theologian would put god in place of X, but let's be honest, that's just job security.

If we're being honest we should also admit that our epistemology went straight into the shitter the moment we took away space and time. As a result, we're going to have a very hard time defining X.

Quote:This is the kind of "causation" that Aristotle and Aquinas were concerned with. They go farther down, though. Even though they knew nothing about quarks,,,

This was all concocted by people with an even dimmer grasp of quantum cosmology than me? I feel so reassured. Weeping

Quote:...they would have said that even quarks could not be the first cause (or the most fundamental thing), because they are still material entities, and material entities are necessarily contingent.

Is it just me or is "necessarily contingent" a contradiction?

Quote:The first cause must be something non-contingent, and therefore immaterial.

This conclusion, even if it is perfectly logical (and I'm not convinced of that), is a sticking point for me -- because how could something immaterial have any effect at all on material objects? That makes me think there must be something wrong with the argument, although I haven't been able to nail down what that is.

Or we can admit that there are limits to logic. If we strip the contingency tree down to its roots then we find that our epistemology fails. We're trying to push logic into conditions that we can't properly wrap our heads around and getting very strange answers as a result.

"I don't know." is an unsatisfactory answer but it is frequently more honest than the alternatives.

---
Flesh and blood of a dead star, slain in the apocalypse of supernova, resurrected by four billion years of continuous autocatalytic reaction and crowned with the emergent property of sentience in the dream that the universe might one day understand itself.
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28-10-2017, 06:21 PM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
(27-10-2017 01:34 AM)Ignorant Wrote:  Essential priority is not interested in temporal priority, even if the coincide (and they typically do).

Yes thats my beef with this line of arguing and why i think its intellectually dishonest to apply this to a scenario where we certainly are talking about temporal events (aka the creation of the universe as we know it, with the beginning of time). Its part of trying to get rid of having to explain why your *first cause* (aka god) has no cause. You need to remove time but keep causation for your special pleading to work (but *shhhh* dont mention that causation per se needs time and space, at least we dont know any causation without). Its basically trying to separate the first cause argument from the fallacy of special pleading by removing time from the argument, or as you have nicely put it, by ignoring time (= not interested).

But what do you get when you add all instants of time up? When you add up all instants that have no time? What happens when you do math and integrate up every single point in a 2dimensional space along a cetrain path, with each point having no distance? What happens when you integrate up each infinitesimal volume within a 3dimensional integral? Consider

I really detest this specific way of arguing by abusing philosophy (as a tool to do so), since it is not looking for answers to certain questions, but is looking for ways to distort our thinking (with usage of abstractions) in a way to make it susceptible to accept a forgone conclusion: There must be a god, and there must be a way to argue into it, no matter how much i have to bend myself and my thinking over. Facepalm
I pity people who need to do this somehow. What a waste of life and energy.

Its clearly rationalisations like this that are applied when people either dont feel comfortable with "i dont know" or want to shoehorn in their pet idea.

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31-10-2017, 06:21 AM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
(28-10-2017 06:21 PM)Deesse23 Wrote:  
(27-10-2017 01:34 AM)Ignorant Wrote:  Essential priority is not interested in temporal priority, even if the coincide (and they typically do).

I really detest this specific way of arguing by abusing philosophy (as a tool to do so), since it is not looking for answers to certain questions, but is looking for ways to distort our thinking (with usage of abstractions) in a way to make it susceptible to accept a forgone conclusion: There must be a god, and there must be a way to argue into it, no matter how much i have to bend myself and my thinking over. Facepalm
I pity people who need to do this somehow. What a waste of life and energy.

Its clearly rationalisations like this that are applied when people either dont feel comfortable with "i dont know" or want to shoehorn in their pet idea.

I think that Aristotle very much was looking for answers to certain questions. I don't know of any evidence for accusing him of distorting our thinking for ulterior motives, to prove conclusions that he desired.

Formal or essential priority is not an effort to evade temporal priority. It's a way of explaining a different set of things, and needs to be distinguished.

How many of his followers, Christian and otherwise, had the motives you accuse them of is hard to say. We'd have to read their minds. But saying that the whole idea was invented as a trick to justify God is not something you can demonstrate, and goes against what know of Aristotle.
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04-11-2017, 04:24 PM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
I remember even when I was a young devout Christian being especially astonished at the terribly bad "Lunatic, Liar or Lord" argument. It is a false trichotomy (as opposed to the more traditional false dichotomy) by children's fiction writer C.S. Lewis.

Essentially, Jesus was so wise (dubious) that he couldn't be a lunatic or a liar, therefore he must have been God. Blink

Actually, the Gospels say more than once that Jesus' family thought he was crazy. Moreover, Jesus didn't have to lie about anything: he might not have existed, or his followers might have lied or embellished everything.

But I guess Lewis liked doing things in threes. Lion, Witch, Wardrobe. Lunatic, Liar, Lord. Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato.

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07-11-2017, 01:28 PM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
(04-11-2017 04:24 PM)DistantSecond2 Wrote:  I remember even when I was a young devout Christian being especially astonished at the terribly bad "Lunatic, Liar or Lord" argument. It is a false trichotomy (as opposed to the more traditional false dichotomy) by children's fiction writer C.S. Lewis.

Essentially, Jesus was so wise (dubious) that he couldn't be a lunatic or a liar, therefore he must have been God. Blink

Actually, the Gospels say more than once that Jesus' family thought he was crazy. Moreover, Jesus didn't have to lie about anything: he might not have existed, or his followers might have lied or embellished everything.

But I guess Lewis liked doing things in threes. Lion, Witch, Wardrobe. Lunatic, Liar, Lord. Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato.

For me, the worst thing about that argument is that you can only take it seriously if you believe that the gospels are history, and that everything in them actually happened. Otherwise, we're trying to decide whether or not a fictional character was God, and who cares about that?
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