Ask an atheist..?

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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ReliStuPhD
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by ReliStuPhD » Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:07 am

Lev Muishkin wrote:None of these arguments point to god.

I take it from your handle that you claim to be a student of RelSt, or are a wanna be PhD student.
If you want to be taken seriously I suggest you sign up for a BA in philosophy at a decent University first. Otherwise you are just going to be a laughing stock.

There are no viable arguments for God. You can list as many as you like, but until you have to guts to argue the points you might as well get off the debate circuit yourself.
Sigh. Either you don't know the arguments or haven't taken your own advice on the philosophy course (or perhaps you're just a beginning Philosophy student and don't yet know what you don't know?). The arguments most certainly point to a non-contingent ground of being (what Christians call "God;" Muslims, "Allah;" Hindus, "Brahman"), and I am happy to argue them, especially since I'm increasingly incredulous that you don't understand what "viable" means. Perhaps this will be the best way to get at what I think is some basic confusion on your part concerning the viability of an argument. So in the spirit of putting my metaphorical money where my mouths is, let's start with what is perhaps the weaker of the two: the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. The universe has a cause.

Now, what would you argue that cause is? We both know (or so I assume) what I will say the cause is.

PS Just to clear away any confusion, I'm a Ph.D. Candidate in a Religious Studies program. Since I assume you understand both what the "Ph" in "Ph.D." stands for and what candidacy means, I'm going to also assume you understand what that entails with respect to philosophical training.

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Kayla
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by Kayla » Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:57 am

ReliStuPhD wrote:
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. The universe has a cause.

Now, what would you argue that cause is? We both know (or so I assume) what I will say the cause is.

PS Just to clear away any confusion, I'm a Ph.D. Candidate in a Religious Studies program. Since I assume you understand both what the "Ph" in "Ph.D." stands for and what candidacy means, I'm going to also assume you understand what that entails with respect to philosophical training.
since you are pulling out an argument the weaknesses of which are routinely discussed in first year undergrad classes, it is safe to assume that in your case ph.d. entails not heck of a lot

are you like getting your ph d from some unaccredited bible college?

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Kayla
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by Kayla » Tue Feb 03, 2015 2:07 am

ReliStuPhD wrote: Philosophy of Religion has come a long way since Kant. If the best you've got is Pure Reason, color me unimpressed, if for no other reason than that it suggests you're unfamiliar with Practical Reason (where Kant advances the so-called "Moral Argument"* for God). You really should catch up on your reading. That, or amend your "All arguments for the existence of God" to read "All speculative arguments for the existence of God" (and then we can get into the work in the past 200 years that challenges that position).
but kant did not exactly argue that god exists

rather he argued that belief in god is inevitable for us - just as perception of space in a certain way is inevitable for us but does not necessarily point to any independent features of space
So far, the Kalam and AfC arguments have not been disproved.
what would have to be shown as true to disprove this argument?


with scientific theories, as well as with logical arguments, we can say what would have to be shown as true to show that the theory or argument is false

but with the first cause argument i am not sure what that would be



btw i am religious

i just find arguments for existence of god to be fatally flawed and i do not understand the need for such arguments in any case

uwot
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by uwot » Tue Feb 03, 2015 7:08 am

ReliStuPhD wrote: 1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. The universe has a cause.
Presumably this is the weaker argument because neither premise is sound, which as Kayla points out, is not news to anyone who has been an undergraduate anywhere but an unaccredited bible college.

Ginkgo
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by Ginkgo » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:53 am

Kayla wrote:
but kant did not exactly argue that god exists

rather he argued that belief in god is inevitable for us - just as perception of space in a certain way is inevitable for us but does not necessarily point to any independent features of space
Kant was influenced greatly by David Hume's criticism of metaphysics. Your quote might be part of a reference to Kant's rejection of the cosmological argument for the existence of God. Kant's claim that we cannot reason beyond the limits of all possible experience because we have no guarantee this reasoning process is reliable, so we have no way of knowing if we have established anything worthwhile. Kant, also criticizes the ontological argument for the existence of God.

As to whether there has been any improvement in these argument in the last two hundred years is problematic to say the least.
So far, the Kalam and AfC arguments have not been disproved.
Kayla wrote: what would have to be shown as true to disprove this argument?
Kayla wrote: with scientific theories, as well as with logical arguments, we can say what would have to be shown as true to show that the theory or argument is false

but with the first cause argument i am not sure what that would be
In Humean terms the answer would be to show that in a wold of cause and effect it is impossible to trace causation back to a single first cause. In other words, we cannot argue from our experiences of the world to the cause of the universe as a whole.We don't know for sure that every event has a cause.

Interestingly enough when it comes to quantum mechanics the laws of cause as effect as we know them no longer apply.

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Kayla
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by Kayla » Tue Feb 03, 2015 2:20 pm

ReliStuPhD - are you getting your degree from this place:

Patriot Bible University - http://gradstudies.patriotuniversity.org

they even have "instructors" - quotes are theirs, not mine

yeah

"instructors"

sure

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Lev Muishkin
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by Lev Muishkin » Tue Feb 03, 2015 2:50 pm

ReliStuPhD wrote:
Lev Muishkin wrote:None of these arguments point to god.

I take it from your handle that you claim to be a student of RelSt, or are a wanna be PhD student.
If you want to be taken seriously I suggest you sign up for a BA in philosophy at a decent University first. Otherwise you are just going to be a laughing stock.

There are no viable arguments for God. You can list as many as you like, but until you have to guts to argue the points you might as well get off the debate circuit yourself.
Sigh. Either you don't know the arguments or haven't taken your own advice on the philosophy course (or perhaps you're just a beginning Philosophy student and don't yet know what you don't know?). The arguments most certainly point to a non-contingent ground of being (what Christians call "God;" Muslims, "Allah;" Hindus, "Brahman"), and I am happy to argue them, especially since I'm increasingly incredulous that you don't understand what "viable" means. Perhaps this will be the best way to get at what I think is some basic confusion on your part concerning the viability of an argument. So in the spirit of putting my metaphorical money where my mouths is, let's start with what is perhaps the weaker of the two: the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
Unfounded premise.

2. The universe began to exist.
Unfounded premise

3. The universe has a cause.
Unsupported conclusion.


Now, what would you argue that cause is? We both know (or so I assume) what I will say the cause is.

So, let's imagine that your premises are true. What makes you think that positing "god" as a cause does not transgress premise number 1?
And what makes you think the cause is best described by an ancient mythical entity?


PS Just to clear away any confusion, I'm a Ph.D. Candidate in a Religious Studies program. Since I assume you understand both what the "Ph" in "Ph.D." stands for and what candidacy means, I'm going to also assume you understand what that entails with respect to philosophical training.

It's only RelSt, don't get carried away with yourself.

It's obvious enough here that my Philosophy 101 trumps your prospective RelSt Ph.D.
Unless you can demonstrate the viability of your argument.

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Kayla
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by Kayla » Tue Feb 03, 2015 4:02 pm

Lev Muishkin wrote: It's obvious enough here that my Philosophy 101 trumps your prospective RelSt Ph.D.
Unless you can demonstrate the viability of your argument.[/color]
i saw this argument taken apart in a high school philosophy class

Melchior
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by Melchior » Tue Feb 03, 2015 6:11 pm

Lev Muishkin wrote:
ReliStuPhD wrote:
Lev Muishkin wrote:No Yes., QED arguments for god being circular, are not viable.
Are you shooting yourself in the foot, or trying to shoot me in the foot?
Either way arguments for God as still unviable.
Where an argument is circular, yes, it is not viable. Absolutely no argument there. The arguments I offered are not circular, however (if you can demonstrate the circularity of the Kalam Cosmological Argument or the Argument from Contingency, you need to stop posting here immediately and get out on the debate circuit.
None of these arguments point to god.

I take it from your handle that you claim to be a student of RelSt, or are a wanna be PhD student.
If you want to be taken seriously I suggest you sign up for a BA in philosophy at a decent University first. Otherwise you are just going to be a laughing stock.

There are no viable arguments for God. You can list as many as you like, but until you have to guts to argue the points you might as well get off the debate circuit yourself.
Amen, Brother!

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ReliStuPhD
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by ReliStuPhD » Tue Feb 03, 2015 6:49 pm

Kayla wrote:since you are pulling out an argument the weaknesses of which are routinely discussed in first year undergrad classes, it is safe to assume that in your case ph.d. entails not heck of a lot
Then it should be a relatively simple task to show this, no? But insofar as I see Lev's responded with the "Phil 101" answer, I'll go ahead and run with that. If you've got some other takedowns of the KCA, I'd love to see them.
Kayla wrote:but kant did not exactly argue that god exists

rather he argued that belief in god is inevitable for us - just as perception of space in a certain way is inevitable for us but does not necessarily point to any independent features of space
That's an interesting reading, but ultimately misunderstands Kant. You can argue that Kant's argument for the existence of God ultimately fails, but to suggest that he did not make it is simply wrong. This is one of the central themes of Critique of Practical Reason: one cannot show God to existence based on pure reason and must, instead, resort to practical reason.
Kayla wrote:
So far, the Kalam and AfC arguments have not been disproved.
what would have to be shown as true to disprove this argument?
I don't think it's a matter of showing this or that to be true. Rather it's far simpler: one need only show that the argument itself does not cohere. I think the particular method whereby one does so is secondary. Insofar as I do not (yet) see where the KCA fails, I can't offer much advice. I'm certainly interested to see this, however. If, as you all have suggested, the KCA is taken apart in Phil 101 courses, I imagine it's not so difficult. I think Lev even took up the challenge, but I'll have to go back and see (in a different response).
Kayla wrote:with scientific theories, as well as with logical arguments, we can say what would have to be shown as true to show that the theory or argument is false

but with the first cause argument i am not sure what that would be
Right. But I think in this case, the burden is on you all to figure out what that "disproof" is.


PS As for the bible college quotes, those are pretty good. But no, an accredited university. US News & World Report has us hovering just shy of "Top 50," if that matters (I don't think it does, but I'm mentioning it here only in the context of the bible college quips).
Last edited by ReliStuPhD on Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Lev Muishkin
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by Lev Muishkin » Tue Feb 03, 2015 6:53 pm

Kayla wrote:
Lev Muishkin wrote: It's obvious enough here that my Philosophy 101 trumps your prospective RelSt Ph.D.
Unless you can demonstrate the viability of your argument.[/color]
i saw this argument taken apart in a high school philosophy class
That's very promising, given where you come from.

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Lev Muishkin
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by Lev Muishkin » Tue Feb 03, 2015 6:54 pm

Lev Muishkin wrote:
ReliStuPhD wrote:
Lev Muishkin wrote:None of these arguments point to god.

I take it from your handle that you claim to be a student of RelSt, or are a wanna be PhD student.
If you want to be taken seriously I suggest you sign up for a BA in philosophy at a decent University first. Otherwise you are just going to be a laughing stock.

There are no viable arguments for God. You can list as many as you like, but until you have to guts to argue the points you might as well get off the debate circuit yourself.
Sigh. Either you don't know the arguments or haven't taken your own advice on the philosophy course (or perhaps you're just a beginning Philosophy student and don't yet know what you don't know?). The arguments most certainly point to a non-contingent ground of being (what Christians call "God;" Muslims, "Allah;" Hindus, "Brahman"), and I am happy to argue them, especially since I'm increasingly incredulous that you don't understand what "viable" means. Perhaps this will be the best way to get at what I think is some basic confusion on your part concerning the viability of an argument. So in the spirit of putting my metaphorical money where my mouths is, let's start with what is perhaps the weaker of the two: the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
Unfounded premise.

2. The universe began to exist.
Unfounded premise

3. The universe has a cause.
Unsupported conclusion.


Now, what would you argue that cause is? We both know (or so I assume) what I will say the cause is.

So, let's imagine that your premises are true. What makes you think that positing "god" as a cause does not transgress premise number 1?
And what makes you think the cause is best described by an ancient mythical entity?


PS Just to clear away any confusion, I'm a Ph.D. Candidate in a Religious Studies program. Since I assume you understand both what the "Ph" in "Ph.D." stands for and what candidacy means, I'm going to also assume you understand what that entails with respect to philosophical training.

It's only RelSt, don't get carried away with yourself.

It's obvious enough here that my Philosophy 101 trumps your prospective RelSt Ph.D.
Unless you can demonstrate the viability of your argument.

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ReliStuPhD
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by ReliStuPhD » Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:20 pm

Lev Muishkin wrote:1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
Unfounded premise.

2. The universe began to exist.
Unfounded premise

3. The universe has a cause.
Unsupported conclusion.
Since you've taken Phil 101, I know you know that it is not enough to simply state that a premise is unfounded; that you must show how it's unfounded. I was under the assumption you could actually show how these premises don't hold. If you can't, no worries (though maybe you don't want to let your Phil prof know that). Someone else will surely come along who can. Nevertheless, here are a few preliminary responses:

1. In light of the basic premises of logic and philosophy (not to mention science), your objection here strikes me as nonsensical, so I'll simply ask for further clarification. How is it unfounded? You've discounted some fairly important principles of causation here with no good reason, otherwise.

2. I know a scientific community that would disagree strongly with you on this one. I imagine you could probably find a cosmologist who claims the universe did not begin to exist, but you might have to go to that Bible college you all were talking about to find him. ;) But seriously, what is the Big Bang if not the beginning of the universe's existence? In effect, you've just declared an entire branch of science to be "unfounded." That's a heavy burden of proof you've taken on yourself, and I'm going to hold you to it if you double-down on your "unfounded premise" objection.

3. Insofar as you've yet to show how 1 & 2 are unfounded (completely independent of the fact that you're claiming that basic scientific and philosophical principles are unfounded), you've failed to show how 3 is an unsupported conclusion. If the reply "unfounded premise" is all that's required to show an argument not to hold, then you've opened a Pandora's Box you'll never be able to close. If you want to revisit 1 & 2 with something substantive, I'm happy to see if I can rebut your rebuttal.
Lev Muishkin wrote:So, let's imagine that your premises are true. What makes you think that positing "god" as a cause does not transgress premise number 1?
And what makes you think the cause is best described by an ancient mythical entity?[/color]
I think here you're assuming that "god" began to exist, which is question-begging if you can't show it to be true. If we allow that non-contingency is logically necessary (I'm happy for you to show it's not), "god" is simply the theist's appellation for whatever is non-contingent. I'm hard-pressed to think of a mythical being who was not created, so they would all be contingent. If it'll help, I'm arguing from something like an Aristotelean position here, and not a Christian one, so don't take "god" to mean "the God of Christians." I would certainly not argue that all Christians understand "god" in a philosophically, logically, or even theologically robust sense. But as far as I know, we're not debating the existence of the Christian God here, just, well, "god." (That is, I'm open to the argument that YHWH or Allah are instantiations of the non-contingent "god," and therefore not provable by appeal to KCA or other such proofs.)
Lev Muishkin wrote:It's only RelSt, don't get carried away with yourself.
I'll do my best. What degree are you working on?
Lev Muishkin wrote:It's obvious enough here that my Philosophy 101 trumps your prospective RelSt Ph.D.
Unless you can demonstrate the viability of your argument.[/color]
Insofar as my first premise is a gnerally-accepted principle and my second premise appeals to an accepted scientific theory, I believe I have. 3 is the conclusion that follows from 1 & 2. At this point, the burden is still on you to demonstrate how your objections hold, not simply state that you object.

So far, I am entirely unimpressed by your Philosophy 101 course. That, or you just didn't pay attention in class.

Ginkgo
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by Ginkgo » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:23 pm

ReliStuPhD wrote:
1. In light of the basic premises of logic and philosophy (not to mention science), your objection here strikes me as nonsensical, so I'll simply ask for further clarification. How is it unfounded? You've discounted some fairly important principles of causation here with no good reason, otherwise.
I think it is important to be clear about the type of causation were are talking about when dealing with ontology and cosmology. In other words, not to conflate Aristotelian causation with scientific causation.

Just a suggestion.
ReliStuPhD wrote:
2. I know a scientific community that would disagree strongly with you on this one. I imagine you could probably find a cosmologist who claims the universe did not begin to exist, but you might have to go to that Bible college you all were talking about to find him. ;) But seriously, what is the Big Bang if not the beginning of the universe's existence? In effect, you've just declared an entire branch of science to be "unfounded." That's a heavy burden of proof you've taken on yourself, and I'm going to hold you to it if you double-down on your "unfounded premise" objection.
This idea comes up a lot, but it is a misunderstanding. The Big Bang is not a first cause argument for the beginning of the universe. Science doesn't deal in first causes. The initial singularity is just a representation or a point where Einstein's theories break down. In order for science to know what came before the Big Bang (so to speak) a quantum theory is required.

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ReliStuPhD
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Re: Ask an atheist..?

Post by ReliStuPhD » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:39 pm

Ginkgo wrote:<snip>
Both points are good ones. I'm certainly amenable to clarification on what we mean by causation.

As for your second point, I think that perhaps "over-interprets" the proposition I'm after. I don't see that I've yet advanced a "first cause," having proposed only that if, as scientists theorize (robustly, I might add), the universe began to exist, it would have a cause. If some sort of quantum vacuum is proposed as the cause of the universe, it would not undermine 3. If anything, it helps to show it to be true. Granted, a fruitful avenue might then be whether the quantum vacuum itself must "fall back" on something. I'm open to the possibility that it can be shown that the vaccuum itself is not contingent, but that would not be a defeater of the logical necessity of a non-contingent ground of being (though it might hold interesting ramifications for theism).

All that to say, while it's obvious that where I will eventually take this is to a non-contingent ground of being that can then be called "god," the argument as I've presented it hasn't yet gotten there. One must first deal with whether things that exist have a cause and whether the universe began to exist. I don't doubt alternate theories exist, but that they serve as defeaters of the argument as I've presented it is, as yet, not clear, especially in light of the relatively basic nature of the first proposition and the scientific consensus on the second. (At least, I don't see that scientists argue that the quantum vacuum from which the universe began is itself the universe. That would be incoherent.)

Edit to add: the genesis of this particular debate was the claim that there are no viable arguments for the existence of god. My contention was that there are, at least until they can be shown not to hold, so I advanced KCA as one such possibility. So far, I've not seen that this has been shown for the KCA. I certainly am not insisting that it can't be, but the only objection advanced is "unfounded premise" which, I think we will all agree, isn't really an objection if the how can't be explained.
Last edited by ReliStuPhD on Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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