RCSaunders wrote: ↑Mon Nov 18, 2019 3:13 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: ↑Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:51 pm
RCSaunders wrote: ↑Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:12 pm
What you are describing are physical characteristics of organisms, not the life of those organisms.
I agree. But then we'd better say what we mean by "describing life." Because most scientific explanations are not what we are looking for, then.
Yes! That is really my point. Because life itself is not a physical attribute.
Well, then, I think we'd do ourselves a favour, in terms of keeping things straight, if we stipulated what we were meaning here. "Life" is a word that gets used different ways. For example, people say, "There's no life on Pluto," and they mean one thing. They say, "I used to be in the military, but it was no kind of life," and they mean a totally different thing. Or they say, "RC is the life of the party," and mean yet another thing.
The problem appears again when you ask if "life" includes being that are not strictly physical, such as God or angelic beings, if such are said to exist. It's not clear whether we want to generalize the term "life" from physical beings such as ourselves to other forms of conscious entity...although I'm inclined to think we ought to, particularly in the case of God. He does, after all, call Himself "the Living God." (Deut. 5:26, for e.g.)
I think you would agree with me that life cannot be explained in terms of the physical and therefore requires some other explanation.
Yes: pending a precise definition of "life."
The difference in our view is that, for you, the explanation for life must therefore be supernatural because you regard anything other than the physical as supernatural.
Well, that's true by definition. To be "natural" is to be physical. What else would you call that which is "more than" (super-) merely physical (natural)?
I do not agree that the physical is all that exists naturally.
I think I kind of agree with you, but I can't make sense of the word "natural" being tacked on the end there, if it doesn't entail the physical. Is it your view that "nature" is somehow a form of "spirit" of some kind? That doesn't seem to be what you're saying, and I'm pretty sure you're not Hindu;
but I can't tell how something can be both "not physical" and also "natural."
I believe material existence includes all the following as possible natural attributes or qualities: the physical, life, consciousness, and volition...
Okay, now I'm really confused. I can think of many things that do have "material existence" but no life, consciousness or volition.
Immanuel Can wrote: ↑Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:25 pm
We have no reason to expect life to exist...here, or anywhere.
What is that supposed to mean?
That positing a randomly-generated universe would give us no reason to expect that life should exist anywhere.
There are two premises here I must reject. The first is that the universe is random.
The alternative is that it is non-random, which means, at the very least, calculated within limited parameters, if not outright intentional. But if the universe is constrained by parameters, then the existence of those parameters itself requires explanation: why would a universe that pops into existence for no reason be suddenly constrained to (what turns out to be an exceedingly tight) set of "laws" that govern what can and cannot happen? This is the "fine-tuning" problem of the universe: what constrains it to land within these narrow parameters, when there are literally infinite other parameters into which "things" might have fallen -- in most cases, producing no universe at all, as a result?
The truth is, there is no such thing as a random number generator. There are endless digital schemes for producing numbers that appear to be random, and chaos math is the only one I know of that will never repeat a pattern. The apparent randomness of chaos math, however, is a deception. The output is absolutely determined but seems random because it cannot be predicted, unless the actual program is run. There is nothing in the physical universe that is random because everything is physically determined.
This is, indeed, the alternate Materialist view. But it creates an additional problem: from whence this "determination"? What "determines" how things come out? Where is this set of laws encoded? It smacks of teleology, if not of Divine creation.
But worse: this alternate Materialist view eliminates one of those things we are both at pains to affirm: volition. For just like the ostensible randomness of chaos maths, volition then becomes a deception. Things are really predetermined; but because of an inexplicable "glitch" in the "program," perhaps, we imagine that our volition does something in the universe. However, it does not.
The second premise is that life is caused, or evolved, or is produced in some way, by the physical. Since life as a perfectly natural attribute of existence, in addition to the physical attributes, except that there must be a physical entity that is living, life is not dependent on any physical attribute.
Here again I'm going to need help to understand how "not physical" can safely be described as also "natural." You must be using the word "natural," it seems to me, in some specialized way -- not to mean, "produced by nature," but perhaps just "bundled in" in some way? You've really got to help me there.
I still have no idea why you think not expecting something matters to anything. After all, here we are in this universe and there is life all about us. There is certainly nothing impossible about life being in it.
Nothing "impossible," but everything contrary to mathematical probability. And highly improbable things need explanation.
Think of it this way. You're walking along, and you see a turtle on top of a gatepost. (That's an exceedingly simple analogy, I admit: because it takes for granted the existence of both turtles and gateposts. But problematizing those existences only makes the equation more in my favour, so I shall grant them to you here, gratis
.) You say to yourself, "How does a turtle get onto a gatepost?" And why? Because turtles can't climb, don't like to climb, and aren't routinely found on gateposts. The extreme improbability of the case demands explanation.
So maybe you devise some hypotheses. Some plausible ones might be "Somebody put him up there." A less plausible one might be, "A flood swept him up there, and he just happened to balance." An even less plausible one might be, "This is a flying turtle: which though rare, are conceivable if wings are tucked under the shell." And so on.
The point is that one thing you don't do is just shrug and walk by. And you don't say, "Well, the turtle is on the gatepost, therefore turtles are automatically or naturally on gateposts." There are so many other ways things often are, and so many more ways things can be, and so many other ways things tend to be, that you can't pass up an event like a turtle on a gatepost without positing some explanation.
But as I said before, a turtle on a gatepost only involves two items, with the existence of both taken for granted. The universe is astronomically complex, and yet falls into a very narrow mathematical range of order. And this should cause us to ask why we are balanced where we are, as we are, being who we are, since everything calculable weighs against it.
And all we have at the moment is the bald and uninformative fact that we happen to be here. In no way, then, are we rational to say, "Well, the universe has to have existed, because if it didn't we wouldn't be here." That's reasoning so bad that it's not even as good as circular. It's downright question-begging.
Immanuel Can wrote: ↑Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:51 pm
One thing is certain, there is life. If something is, it must be possible and must always have been, else it would not be.
This is to argue backward, and thus not really to explain at all.
Suppose you and I were looking at a Ferrari. And you said to me, "Ferrari must have been one heck of a designer," and I said, "Ferraris exist: that's certain. If they exist, they must always have had to exist," or if I replied, "The fact that Ferarris exist means that they had to exist," would any rational person accept my explanation?
You are right, it is not an explanation.
It is not an argument. It is a simple statement of fact. It simply means that whatever is (or occurs) was always going to be (or happen), because if it were possible that it was not going to be (or happen) it would not have. The concept has led to endless bad ideas, like fate and determinism,
You're absolutely right. It positively necessitates
It argues that whatever is, had
to be. But that can only be true if there is literally no possibility of another outcome. Subjectively, however, we all intuit that "other outcomes" were possible. All our decision-making is a weighing of outcomes..."If I do X, Y is going to happen" sorts of predicting. Even the fact that we are often wrong in such predictions suggests that the universe is not predetermined -- or that if it is, our cognition is entirely unsuited to knowing that it is, because we keep making the same error of thinking our decisions change things, and cannot, in fact, manage to live any other way.[/quote]
...but is neither. It is a summation of the fact that what is, is, and cannot be anything else. It is simply Aristotle's, A is A.
No, that's not right. That's Aristotle's Law of Identity, which was not a Law of Prediction, far less a Law of Ontology. It only says that when one is using logic to solve a particular problem
, a variable assigned to one value must not be suffered to "shift" to another value until the equation has been completed. No more.
It means, it could never have been truly said, "Ferarris will never be designed and built."
But that's an ex post facto
assessment, not a prediction. Prior to the creation of the Ferrari, there was no "law" in place that mandated "Ferraris will one day be built," and we cannot deduce that there was from the mere fact that Ferraris happen now to exist -- at least, we cannot do so without entailing a strict Determinism, which neither you nor I is prepared to do.
Rather, we both think that Ferraris are a product of the fertile mind of Enzo Ferrari. And that if Enzo Ferrari had not existed, then no car of that name or design would have been built either. The peculiarities of the design are a product of the designer...of his decisions, imagination, and ambitions. They are not a product of a random universe, or even of one governed by inexplicable mathematical constraints. And we can't accept that explanation, rationally, unless we are also ready to convert to strict Determinism.
Is this a new idea for you?
No: just an old, bad one, I would say.
Think of it in your own terms, that is, in terms of God's omniscience. Could God ever have not known Wilkes would shoot Lincoln on April 14, 1865?
Ah. I see the error. You're thinking that foreknowledge entails predetermination. An easy mistake to make: lots of people make it, and at one time it even baffled me for awhile, though I later rejected it.
It doesn't. Foreknowledge and predetermination are different.
I might "know," and perhaps correctly, that you will reply to this response. But if what I think I "know" is correct, then it won't entail that I forced or predetermined that you would respond. You'll still have the personal freedom to choose. My knowledge does not produce your action, or constrain your choice.
Just so, God can know what you will do, without thereby having made you do it. He can say, "I foresee, given my perfect knowledge of RC, that he will take up his keyboard, put it on his desk, and bang out a message to IC the very same night. I can foresee the keystrokes he will use, and when he will scratch his nose, and at what time he will hit 'send.'"
And God can be 100% right about all of those things, without thereby having made you do them.
Immanuel Can wrote: ↑Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:51 pm
The point is that where anything is wildly mathematically odd, it calls for some kind of rational explanation.
Please explain why you think prescience or predictability has anything to do with existence. As far as I know, the entire physical universe is understood to be predictable just because it is determined by physical principles, which is why physicalists are determinists.
Right. But that's just because they've accepted a narrow premise that they will not give up.
The premise is that they will not use "God" in an explanation. In other words, the only explanations they will accept have to start with physical things existing, and physical laws already in place. (For them, the turtle must always be taken for granted; and the gatepost too.
) Then an acceptable explanation will only speak of how those laws act on physical entities. Nothing more can be entertained, even for a moment.
But physical laws themselves manifest coherence and constraint of options. A question no Physicalist can address is, "From whence these constraints?" Or "How do the scientific 'laws' themselves get 'chosen,' given that there are an infinite number of other ways things could have ended up?"
So their problem is their suppositional constraints on themselves. It's not that there isn't a question to be asked: its' that they refuse to ask it, because it takes them back to postulates they are at great pains never to consider, for ideological not scientific reasons.
This is why, for example, when the "origin of the universe" explanations involving the Big Bang were first advanced, a cry of horror went up from many scientists. They were philosophically astute enough to realize that if the universe had an origin point, then scientifically, it also had to have a cause. And that would produce a causal regress chain that would necessitate God. They could not countenance that, so they were very reluctant to accept things like the Red Shift Effect or the data on the background radiation in the universe...or even the observable expansion of the universe beyond possible point of recollapse. It's also why they've lately gravitated to non-scientific ideas like The Multiverse Hypothesis: because they are desperate not to go where the data would take them.
There is nothing ontological about mathematics. Mathematics is only a human method of description and then only of those aspects of reality that can be counted or measured. Mathematics does not determine or cause anything.
I did not say it did. But mathematics does tell us what the odds of something happening are.
There is absolutely nothing mathematically, "odd," about the universe.
Oh, yes there is. Our present situation is astronomically unlikely.
If there is a standard of what is, "normal," mathematically, it would have to be the thing mathematics was invented to describe, that is, the actual universe as it is. It would be something different from this world that would be mathematically odd, wouldn't it?
No, this is another ex post facto
Think of it this way. Suppose you won the lottery. You didn't even buy a ticket: someone just happened to buy one for you, and the number of tickets sold was 1,004,032. So you know what your odds were, even if you had bought a ticket. But multiply those odds by the chances your friend would decide to buy one for you, and it gets much more "odd."
You could have two reactions. One is to say, "Wow, I'm one very, very lucky guy."
The other is to say, "Of course I won; I was fated to have done so, because the mere fact that I won shows there was no other way things could have been."
Which is the reaction you would find actually reasonable?
Could there be possible alternatives to God's perfect plan?
Do you mean, "Do you believe God micromanages the universe?"
No, I don't. But that doesn't mean he's lost control either. What it means is that God is more wise than to have to commit Himself and us to a single course. He can, for example, foresee ten outcomes of your reception of this message. And he can know which outcome you will, in fact, select. If anything else depends on that, He can know that, too. But it does not mean He has to force you only to one outcome. He can leave your choices free and genuine, and say, "I can work with any of the ten, but I happen to know RC will only do number 5, and thus am able to foresee that IC will take his number 7 in response..." and so on. But at no point in this telling of things is God the one who makes
RC or IC to do one thing or another.
Immanuel Can wrote: ↑Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:51 pm
But in a universe with no God to be the source of life, it raises a huge question. How can life have ever been started?
Of course it started. Every life starts and finishes.
I'm assuming you mean individual organisms, not life itself.
Both. Because if you think otherwise, you create an infinite-regress causal chain, which is logically impossible. So because each individual life starts and end, and because life only comes from life, either you get an infinite regress, which is impossible, or a definite causal starting point.
I do not believe it had a beginning.
Then only one of the two above is possible. Either you (irrational) think an infinite causal regress can exist, or you are positing a singular starting point, which can, but then invokes the idea of an ultimate origin.
Think of it this way. Your life came from your parents, right? So that means that you cannot be born until they are. But their life came from your grandparents, right? So your parents could not have been born until after your parents were, and you couldn't have been born until after that. So far so good? That's obvious, right?
But your grandparents came from your great-grandparents. So you could not be born until after your great-grandparents were born, and then your grandparents were born, then your parents were born...and last of all, you. Each stage is, so to speak "held up" by the previous one. Nobody can be born until the person before them has already been born. That's a causal chain.
But if the causal chain of your ancestors were infinite, you could not be born...ever!
And why? Because before your great-great-great-great...and so on...grandparents could be born, another had to be born in front of them. But that one depended on another one, and was held up until that one happened...and so on, ad infinitum
. Meaning that the chain NEVER STARTS! The conditions of one person being born can never happen, because the prerequisites recede infinitely, and thus infinitely "hold up" his birth.
If you get that explanation, you will know why a First Cause of both existence and life is rationally inescapable. Not only is the mathematical evidence for God strong, it's absolutely conclusive.
Immanuel Can wrote: ↑Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:51 pm
Moreover, unless you believe Earth itself was eternal, which is empirically falsifiable, you would have to believe that life here began at some definite point in the past.
I don't have to believe life began anywhere, much less on this planet.
Well, one doesn't HAVE to, in the sense that one does not HAVE to believe things that are necessary, rational and true. But if one wishes to be rational, to recognize the necessary and to find the true, then one does. Life didn't have an infinite regress of causes. Such a thing cannot even exist.
If there was not always life here it would have to have come from someplace else, but that does not require a beginning, just a migration.
So your great-great-great-great-great-great...etc. grandparents came from Mars, perhaps.
That will not solve the infinite regress problem at all. "Migration" explains only "where" part of the chain may have taken place: it does not save us from the infinite regress of causes trap.
So celestial beings aren't living?
This would be going back to my earlier comments on the problem of defining "life." I think you should stipulate carefully what we should both be meaning here.
That reminds me. Today is our anniversary and I thought about how Twain ended his record of the fall:
"After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her. At first I thought she talked too much; but now I should be sorry to have that voice fall silent and pass out of my life. Blessed be the chestnut that brought us near together and taught me to know the goodness of her heart and the sweetness of her spirit!"
Oh. Happy anniversary!
How many years, now?
The theology's a little warped, of course, because Eve was created IN the Garden, and unconditional "goodness of heart" and durable "sweetness of spirit" perished with the act of disobedience and the acquiring of the knowledge of good and evil. However, it seems to me a great thing to spend many years with someone about whom you can feel this way.
Enjoy your day. In this land, we all feel we have too few of them. Carpe diem