Who created God?

Curious George says:

Who created God?

Obviously the origin of the universe is one of the oldest philosophical questions and debates.

The theist insists that someone had to create the universe and that someone must be God.

The atheist responds: “If the universe needs a cause, then why doesn’t God need a cause? And if God doesn’t need a cause, why should the universe need a cause?”

But I recently came across a “Christian Answers” link on this topic suggesting that Christians should respond using the the following reasoning:

1. Everything which has a beginning has a cause.

2. The universe has a beginning.

3. Therefore the universe has a cause.

http://christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c039.html

Please review the information presented at the above web link and give your thoughts.

Thanks in advance.

65 Responses to Who created God?

  1. The Atheist says:

    The premise that “everything that has a beginning has a cause” is verifiable false. Therefore, the apologetic argument has no basis.

    We observe particles spontaneously coming into existence all the time (here is a good description at Wikipedia of virtual particles). Virtual particles are real – they cause black holes to evaporate. According to Lawrence Krause, virtual particles give atomic particles their mass. Empty space is never empty, energy is always present. What we call empty space is a non-steady-state that results in the spontaneous appearance of matter – see the video below:

    The claim that “the universe has a beginning” depends on which universe you mean. If by “universe”, we mean the result of the Big Bang, then the universe had a beginning (but not necessarily a cause – see above). However a Multiverse may have always existed and if so, our “Big Bang universe” is a part of that.

    Superstring theory is a relatively new science and is the foundation of Multiverse theory and other cosmology theories. However, unlike the apologetic arguments, the scientific cosmological theories are based in experiment and observation, and in mathematical models which are consistent with experiment and observation. Testing Superstring theory has been difficult because experiments often require an amount of energy that we were unable to produce. This has changed. In 2008, the first Large Hadron Collider became operational. As a result, experimental physicists will have the ability to disprove the erroneous theories.

  2. mickeyd says:

    Hi The Atheist,

    Nothing you’ve said shows that something can come from nothing:

    “Empty space is never empty, energy is always present.”

    So empty space is not nothing.

    There are only two logically viable options: either the universe ‘just is’ or it’s created by something that ‘just is’.

    I think the emergence of sentience and volition are a logical proof of God, since they admit of no material explanation, and moreover their metaphysical explanation postulates an agency capable of correlating mind and its material substrate, the brain, an act of such sublime mastery over matter that it’s inconceivable this agency did not create matter in the first place.

  3. The Atheist says:

    Hi mickyd,

    I’m pleased that you could verify that nothing I’ve said shows that something can come out of nothing, because that’s not what I set out to show. I set out to refute the premise that “Everything which has a beginning has a cause.” Particle and antiparticles have a beginning but don’t have a cause; they appear spontaneously. Energy of empty space is not a cause of matter any more than water is the cause of a wave. However unlike water waves that need a cause (an external force on the water), virtual particles do not.

    There is a third possibility: the universe arose spontaneously. We can say this if we mean that “the universe” is not the energy of empty space, rather it is the matter which embodies some of that energy. Until the recent discovery of this dark energy, that’s what we’ve meant when we talked about the universe: matter and measurable energy.

    There is also a forth possibility: a multiverse “just is” and our universe arose from it.

    The fact that we have no explanation of what sentience is is a poor reason to attribute it by default to any god, or to any number of gods for that matter. That God would simply be a god-of-the-gap. Only in this case, a God relegated to a very small gap. We know of no sentience that exists outside of the brain. Sentience is a process of the brain that can be effected by physically manipulating the brain. It exists (presumably) in other “lower” animals in varying degrees. If the mind is a process of the brain as it seems to be and the brain is material, then the mind doesn’t have mastery over matter to any higher degree than matter has a mastery over matter.

    The God(s) you are proposing would be a sentience that is not dependent on a physical substrate. If sentience depends on a physical substrate, then this sort of sentience seems impossible. Also, the God(s) you are proposing could have any attributes and still be used to explain sentience. For example, you could postulate that each sentience is the creation of a different god or maybe a team of gods working together. The gods might be born of other gods and die. Proposing that God is the cause of sentience is arbitrary without some evidence that God exists.

    Proposing that God is the cause of sentience creates new problems without solving the problems it sets out to solve. If sentience must be created, and if God is sentient, who created God’s sentience? If God created the physical universe and brains that are the substrate of sentience, does He create each sentience or did He cause brains to evolve such that they are a substrate for sentience? If the latter, we know how brains evolved and that processes of the brain give rise to sentience, so proposing that God caused the evolution doens’t give us new answers about how sentience emerges.

    • mickeyd says:

      Hi The Atheist,

      “Particle and antiparticles have a beginning but don’t have a cause; they appear spontaneously.

      “There is a third possibility: the universe arose spontaneously.”

      So you believe that “X can have an uncaused beginning” is not equivalent to “X can come from nothing”. Why?

      “If the mind is a process of the brain as it seems to be and the brain is material…”

      Logically, two things are identical if and only if everything that can be predicated of one can also be predicated of the other. Mind and brain are not identical for at least these reasons:

      1. We can predicate properties such as truth and kindness of mental events but it is plainly absurd to predicate such properties of electro-chemical events.

      2. We can predicate spatial dimensions of electro-chemical events, as revealed by modern brain-imaging technology, but it is plainly absurd to predicate such of mental events (thoughts).

      3. We can predicate volition of mental events, but to predicate volition of electro-chemical interactions is plainly absurd, because all such events are governed by invariate physical laws (Joules law and laws of chemical interaction basically).

      Cheers,

      Mickeyd

      • The Atheist says:

        Yes, I believe that the two are not equivalent. By an “uncaused beginning”, I mean that there was no prier action of which the “beginning” was a subsequent result. By “coming from nothing”, I mean that there is no substrate out of which the thing forms.

        I agree that the mind and brain are not identical, but I disagree with your reasons:

        1) The pressure of a gas is the direct result of the activity (temperature) of each gas molecule and it’s interaction with other gas molecules as well as the container. We can precisely calculate the pressure but we can’t calculate with certainty the behavior of any one of the gas molecules. Our inability to model the whole from its parts is no basis for speculating that the whole is something other than its parts.

        2) This is not entirely true. Memories can be stimulated by physical manipulation of the brain. Musical notes that the brain hears can be detected in the brain (the actual frequency of the note). Brain images can determine whether what you are thinking about is a familiar object (Science Daily article). Individual thoughts cannot be interpreted by brain imaging with current brain-imaging technology, however individual thoughts (vs. the general act of thinking) can be detected (Technology Review article). Brain images can reveal that a thought is an introspection, as distinct from other kinds of thought (Psych Central article).

        3) I think this is the same argument you made for #1. If there is a difference, please let me know so I can respond.

        Asserting that the mind is a process of the brain is not an assertion that the mind and brain are equivalent; a process and a processor, though related, are not equivalent. My earlier discussion is about the relationship and dependency of the mind on the brain.

        • mickeyd says:

          1. No prior action of which the “beginning” was a subsequent result.

          2. By “coming from nothing”, I mean that there is no substrate out of which the thing forms.

          Let NPA denote “no prior action” and NPS denote “no prior substrate”. To argue that (1) and (2) are logically distinct requires either:
          (a) That NPA does not imply NPS, and therefore it’s possible to have NPA and a prior substrate.
          or
          (b) That NPS does not imply NPA, and therefore it’s possible to have NPS and a prior action.
          But neither (a) nor (b) are tenable because in the former “substrate” is being used meaninglessly, and in the latter there is no prior substrate in which the prior action can exist as a potential.

          (1) “We can precisely calculate the pressure but we can’t calculate with certainty the behavior of any one of the gas molecules. Our inability to model the whole from its parts…”

          Shouldn’t this read “model the parts from their whole”, given that you saying we can’t model individual gas molecules?

          In any case, your argument that the gap between the mind and the brain can be bridged by attributing properties to the whole brain that its components lack, is dependent on the premise that the whole constitutes a ‘special’ form of matter with those required properties. But the premise is untenable, because if the known forms of matter are logically devoid of such properties, then any unknown forms of it must be also, differing merely in form not substance.

          (2) All that you have shown here is a correlation between mind and brain, and correlation is neither identity nor causation.

          Interestingly, I note your use of the word “interpreted”: “Individual thoughts cannot be interpreted by brain imaging with current brain-imaging technology,”. I think you concede here that in order for imaging technology to experience (and therefore see) a person’s thoughts, the technology would have to become the person.
          This is a manifestation of the logical limits of scientific study – all scientific enquiry is third person objective, whereas all thought is first person subjective.

          (3) Yes, my point (3) uses a parity of reasoning to points (1) and (2). In addition, I note that to conceive of free will is to possess it, and all can conceive of it if they discuss it.

        • mickeyd says:

          An additional comment:

          In reply to my (2), that we cannot predicate spatial dimensions of thoughts, but we can of brain events, you say “this is not entirely true”. Well to the degree that it is not true, to that degree you must conclude that, for example, the thought “I like mushrooms” actually is X cm long (as revealed, in principle at least, by brain imaging). Do you believe that such an observation is even remotely coherent?

          Again, I note the ambiguity in your response – “not entirely true”. Well, can we predicate spatial dimensions of thoughts or can we not? Similarly, you state your disagreements with my reasons for differentiating mind and brain, yet preface this disagreement with agreement that “mind and brain are not identical”. Why do you believe they are not identical?

        • The Atheist says:

          I’ve put forth a physical distinction between “something from nothing” and “something that is uncaused” – it is the presence or absence of a substrate. There are a few categorical distinctions I can offer. “Something from nothing” and “something that is uncaused” are distinct in that the set of “things that are uncaused” includes things that come spontaneously from something (like particle/antiparticle pairs from the energy of warped space) and things that come spontaneously from nothing (like energy fluctuations in empty flat space). Also, “something from nothing” and “something that is uncaused” are distinct in that “something from nothing” must have a beginning (like an energy fluctuation in empty flat space), however the set of “things that are uncaused” include things that have no beginning (like M-branes in multiverse theory).

          Shouldn’t this read “model the parts from their whole”, given that you saying we can’t model individual gas molecules?

          No, it really should read as it does: that we can’t model the whole from its parts. In other words, we are unable to construct a model of the whole buy combining the individual models of each molecule.

          (1)

          In any case, your argument that the gap between the mind and the brain can be bridged by attributing properties to the whole brain that its components lack, is dependent on the premise that the whole constitutes a ‘special’ form of matter…

          That is precisely what we do when we talk about the pressure of a gas. The system has the attribute “pressure”, however the gas molecules do not. If you consider “known forms of matter” to include only the reducible parts, then you must say that a system cannot have pressure since the known forms of matter do not have pressure. However if you consider “known forms of matter” to include systems, then you must include brains in the category of known forms of matter and you must consider that brains can behave in such a way as to produce minds.

          Since a mind is not a component of a brain but rather a process of the brain, and since the brain is a physical entity, then each must have different properties since a process is not a physical entity.

          (2)

          All that you have shown here is a correlation between mind and brain, and correlation is neither identity nor causation.

          I think that correlation is all that’s needed to answer your claim that “We can predicate spatial dimensions of electro-chemical events, as revealed by modern brain-imaging technology, but it is plainly absurd to predicate such of mental events (thoughts).” I’ve offered examples of mental events that we can observe via brain imagery.

          I do concede as you guessed that for anyone or anything sharing an identical experience must be the same being. However it doesn’t follow that two separate beings cannot share elements of an experience – separate beings can have separate experiences that are correlated. You and I can look at the same flower petal and have a correlated, though not identical, experience.

          However that’s not what I meant earlier by “interpreted”. By “interpreted” I meant that with current brain imaging technology, thoughts cannot be observed clearly enough to recognize details such as dialog or a pictorial image.

          This is a manifestation of the logical limits of scientific study – all scientific enquiry is third person objective, whereas all thought is first person subjective.

          It will remain a limitation, however the effects of the limitation may be reduced as research continues. The trend we can observe is that as imaging technology improves, we have a greater ability to observe certain aspects of thought from a 3rd-person perspective, which we should expect will lead us to understanding better how the brain produces thoughts. For example, we can now see how activity in different areas of the brain correlate with different types of thought. As imagery technology improves and we are able to see how individual neuron activity correlates with different thoughts, we should expect the ability to manipulate thought to some degree through manipulation of neurons. This should give us a much richer experimental basis for understanding how the brain produces thought.

          to conceive of free will is to possess it

          If it is true that we have free will, are “we” entities who are distinct from our thoughts? If so, what does “we” mean as distinct from thought? “Who” has free will?

          Or are “we” our thoughts? Then “who” is thinking?

          If our thoughts are processes of a physical brain, and if the physical world is deterministic, then thoughts are deterministic and we have no free will. Our conception of free will is another predetermined thought.

          the thought “I like mushrooms” actually is X cm long

          I don’t think it is possible to measure thoughts in cm any more than I think it’s possible to measure magnetic strength in cm. However I know that we can measure magnetic strength. We use different metrics to measure different phenomena. I do think it’s theoretically possible (though not yet practically possible at least at present) to map a neuron network of thought.

          I note the ambiguity in your response – “not entirely true”.

          By “not entirely true”, I mean that brain-imaging technology can’t be used to observe of mental events with enough accuracy to “read minds” (produce images or dialog), however it can be used to observe the occurrence of mental events, and to observe certain details about the mental events, like for example, whether the thought is about a familiar object or an unfamiliar object.

          • mickeyd says:

            “…the set of “things that are uncaused” includes things that come spontaneously from something…”

            If they are uncaused then how can you say, without contradiction, that they come FROM something?

            “…things that come spontaneously from nothing (like energy fluctuations in empty flat space).”

            But you’ve already rejected this: “I’m pleased that you could verify that nothing I’ve said shows that something can come out of nothing, because that’s not what I set out to show.”

            “I don’t think it is possible to measure thoughts in cm”

            Then I rest my case. You’ve fatally contradicted your argument. Since (a) we can attribute spatial dimensions to brain events, but (b) you concede we cannot attribute spatial dimensions to mental events, then necessarily mental events are neither identical with nor reducible to brain events. The distinction between them cannot be, nor ever will be, logically bridged by scientific explanation.

          • mickeyd says:

            For clarification:

            In my reply just posted, I’ve asked:

            If they are uncaused then how can you say, without contradiction, that they come FROM something?

            I’m aware that in your first reply you said: “Energy of empty space is not a cause of matter any more than water is the cause of a wave.” But your reasoning here is flawed, because waves are a portion of the water, so of course the water cannot be the cause of the waves any more than an apple could be the cause of it’s skin.

          • The Atheist says:

            If they are uncaused then how can you say, without contradiction, that they come FROM something?

            Matter and energy are forms of the same substance. Matter can come from energy and energy can come from matter. Matter can also come from matter. This transformation can occur spontaneously. Consider radioactive decay in which the nucleus of an atom decays into an alpha particle, and a nucleus with an atomic number of 2 less than the original. Both the new nucleus and the alpha particle come from the original isotope and the transformation occurs spontaneously (uncaused).

            “…things that come spontaneously from nothing (like energy fluctuations in empty flat space).”

            But you’ve already rejected this: “I’m pleased that you could verify that nothing I’ve said shows that something can come out of nothing, because that’s not what I set out to show.”

            That’s interesting that you could understand this as a rejection of the concept. I think things can come from nothing. And that is not what I set out to show. I set out to show that “Everything which has a beginning has a cause.” is a false premise.

            Since (a) we can attribute spatial dimensions to brain events, but (b) you concede we cannot attribute spatial dimensions to mental events, then necessarily mental events are neither identical with nor reducible to brain events. The distinction between them cannot be, nor ever will be, logically bridged by scientific explanation.

            You and I will most likely agree that we can attribute spatial dimensions to brains. We may also agree that we can attribute spatial dimensions to certain parts of the brain that participate in a given brain event. We may even be able to attribute spatial dimensions to certain types of brain events like a hemorrhage. However I disagree that we can attribute spatial dimensions to brain events in general, specifically those events which we refer to as thought.

            I don’t see where you’ve justified that a thought cannot be a type of brain event. I see no justification to require a process to have spatial attributes if its processor has spacial attributes.

            • mickeyd says:

              “This transformation can occur spontaneously.”

              You’re entirely missing the point. The question at issue has got nothing to do with transformation. We’re asking why the universe (or multiverse) exists rather than not. Any answer taking the form “X is a transformation of Y” merely begs the question “from whence comes Y?” In other words, “X is a transformation of Y” is strictly irrelevant to any attempt to falsify “Y has a beginning, therefore Y has a cause” – I should have thought this was obvious, to be frank.

              Nor does it make sense to assert “B is uncaused, and B is from A”, since B from A implies that A is necessary for B. Whilst A may not be sufficient for B, its necessity implies a causal connection of some form to some degree. The total explanation of why B is rather than not, whatever else that explanation may or may not include, certainly includes the fact that A is rather than not.

              And again, your argument about causelessness falls to the same objection as your argument from transformation – and no surprise, since they are merely versions of each other. Given you posit B from A, albeit causelessly (which I dispute as illogical as per my preceding paragraph), the question remains, from whence comes A? Hence, “particle/antiparticle pairs from the energy of warped space” – from whence comes the energy of warped space?

              Forgive me, but you haven’t even begun to falsify the premise “everything that has a beginning must have a cause”.

              “I think things can come from nothing.”

              But where is your argument? “…things that come spontaneously from nothing (like energy fluctuations in empty flat space).” There is no such thing as nothing – it doesn’t exist, by definition, so how can something come ‘from’ ‘it’? (spontaneously or not). Let me be frank: if this is why you choose to be an atheist, then your decision is based on an absurdity. No doubt you would wish to present other reasons – but this particular one is literally absurd. I urge you to analyze exactly what your argument involves. “Things can come from nothing” requires “nothing” to exist, otherwise the clause “from nothing” would be meaningless. Well either nothing is, or it is not. If we say “nothing” is, then it is not; but if we say “nothing” is not, then it is! I’m sorry, my friend, but you should fundamentally reconsider your worldview – at present, it enshrines contradiction.

              I note your use of the word “in”, “energy fluctations IN empty flat space”, not “FROM empty flat space” – assuming you think “empty flat space” really ‘is’ non-existence.

              Looking at the issue empirically, an infinitely powered vacuum would be required to create “nothing”, right? And what would the ‘vacuum bag’ contain?

              “However I disagree that we can attribute spatial dimensions to brain events in general, specifically those events which we refer to as thought.”

              (a) “I disagree that we can attribute spatial dimensions to brain events in general…” Of course we can, because brain imaging images spatio-temporal brain events! – your argument up to this point has relied heavily on this fact, so how can you now contradict it?? – and hence, (b) “I disagree that we can attribute spatial dimensions to … those events which we refer to as thought”. Compare: “I’ve offered examples of mental events that we can observe via brain imagery.” (The Atheist’s post, Feb 15th).

            • mickeyd says:

              Correction to my last post:

              I was getting confused with a different discussion. For “If we say “nothing” is, then it is not; but if we say “nothing” is not, then it is!” read “If we say “nothing” is, then it is not; but if we say “nothing” is not, then something is, so again nothing is not! Either way, “something from nothing” is a contradiction.”

            • mickeyd says:

              Addendum:

              Actually, the distinction between energy fluctuations ‘in’ empty flat space and ‘from’ empty flat space doesn’t help your argument at all, since ‘something in nothing’ is as much a contradiction in terms as ‘something from nothing’ – assuming you mean ‘nothing’ by empty flat space, which I assume because you’ve expressed a belief that something can come from nothing.

  4. The Atheist says:

    Hi, mickeyd. Sorry to take so long to respond to your last post. I’ve been tied up with both personal and professional issues that hit all at the same time and I’ve not been able to get back to the blog until now.

    If I may jump right in where we left off…

    You’re entirely missing the point. The question at issue has got nothing to do with transformation. We’re asking why the universe (or multiverse) exists rather than not.

    The question is not why the universe exists, the question is if it must have a cause. The premise to the opening argument that ‘the universe has a cause is’: “Everything which has a beginning has a cause.” I’ve presented examples of things that have a beginning but do not have a cause. If the examples are true examples, then the premise “everything which has a beginning has a cause” is false.

    Any answer taking the form “X is a transformation of Y” merely begs the question “from whence comes Y?”

    I haven’t proposed a infinite regression, rather I’ve given examples of things with beginnings but with no cause.

    Nor does it make sense to assert “B is uncaused, and B is from A”, since B from A implies that A is necessary for B. … the question remains, from whence comes A?

    That A is necessary does not refute that B is uncaused. It simply raises the question, whence A. Depending on what A is, it has a beginning and a cause, it has a beginning and comes from something else spontaneously, it has a beginning and comes from nothing, or it always existed.

    Hence, “particle/antiparticle pairs from the energy of warped space” – from whence comes the energy of warped space?

    Virtual particles are uncaused, however their substance (matter) comes from energy. The sum of all energy in the universe, whether the universe contains matter or not (that is, whether some energy is “stored” as matter or not), is zero. However energy fluctuates in space – one region can experience a spike of positive energy while a neighboring region experiences a spike of negative energy. These fluctuations happen spontaneously. Virtual particles can result from these fluctuations.

    Most of the universe’s mass is due to the mass of virtual particles. For example most of the mass of a proton comes from virtual particles. Empty space has a mass due to the existence of virtual particles. Mass causes space to warp.

    Forgive me, but you haven’t even begun to falsify the premise “everything that has a beginning must have a cause”.

    I’ve referenced observed evidence of spontaneously occurring particles. Unless you reject the evidence that virtual particles appear spontaneously, then you must accept the premise as false.

    If we say “nothing” is, then it is not; but if we say “nothing” is not, then something is, so again nothing is not! Either way, “something from nothing” is a contradiction.”

    This reflects a misunderstanding of what we mean by “nothing”. Nothing in the classical sense means an absence of something. When we ask why there is “something” rather than “nothing”, we infer that without any action that produces something, there would be nothing.

    Nothing in quantum physics is no mass, no energy, no space, no time, no spin, no bosons, no fermions, etc. This “nothing” in the quantum sense is an unstable state – the presence of energy, mass, particles, etc., are the stable state.

    There is no such thing as nothing – it doesn’t exist, by definition, so how can something come ‘from’ ‘it’? (spontaneously or not).

    Do you mean “nothing” in the classical sense or “nothing” in the sense of quantum physics?

    If you mean “nothing” in the classical sense, then the universe exists because the classical idea that “nothing” could exist in a large region of space for a long time is wrong, in the same way that time in the classical sense is linear.

    If you mean “nothing” in the sense of quantum physics, then “nothing” is not a stable state – in large enough region of space with “nothing”, something will appear spontaneously.

    …assuming you think “empty flat space” really ‘is’ non-existence.

    I think empty flat space is a region of space at a time when there is no matter, charge, spin, etc, and where the sum of energy in the region is zero.

    Looking at the issue empirically, an infinitely powered vacuum would be required to create “nothing”, right? And what would the ‘vacuum bag’ contain?

    An arbitrary region of space in which there is no energy fluctuation can’t be created by supplying energy or “power”.

    “I disagree that we can attribute spatial dimensions to brain events in general…” Of course we can

    We can attribute spatial events to a computer (a CPU) which is executing a software program. For example, we can locate the positively charged fields in the substrate of a P-MOS transistor, we can measure the transistor dimensions, and we can point to the transistors that are open (allowing electrical current) and the ones that are closed (inhibiting electrical current). But we can’t point to the “write to disk” function in the processor. We can point to the transistors in operation as the “write to disk” functions execute, however those transistors are not the “write to disk” function. The “write to disk” function doesn’t have the attribute of spacial dimension even though it’s processor does. We use attributes other than spacial attributes to describe the “write to disk” function.

    We can observe neurons firing as the brain thinks. However the thoughts are not the neurons, thoughts and neurons are not the same things. The thought doesn’t have the attribute of spacial dimensions even though the neural network of the brain does.

    You point out that I said earlier:

    “I’ve offered examples of mental events that we can observe via brain imagery.”

    We can observe a computer processor (CPU) running a program by watching the activity of the processor (CPU). We can also watch a brain having thoughts by watching neural activity. However our ability to make these observations does not mean that thoughts are the brain or that the program is the processor.

    • mickeyd says:

      “…thoughts and neurons are not the same things. The thought doesn’t have the attribute of spacial dimensions even though the neural network of the brain does.”

      We seem to be talking at cross purposes, because this is a point I’ve been making throughout our discussion. In what respects does your distinction between mind and brain differ from mine?

      “But we can’t point to the “write to disk” function in the processor. We can point to the transistors in operation as the “write to disk” functions execute, however those transistors are not the “write to disk” function.”

      I don’t follow your reasoning here, although in light of the point immediately above perhaps it’s unimportant. We surely wouldn’t expect to find the function in totality in the processor if for no other reason than that the processor is not the disk. It executes a write to disk instruction that is mediated through device drivers to the disk in question. I would use the word “function” to describe every aspect of the process, which includes, critically, human input both in initial creative decision, design, manufacture, programming and implementation.

      “This reflects a misunderstanding of what we mean by “nothing”. Nothing in the classical sense means an absence of something. When we ask why there is “something” rather than “nothing”, we infer that without any action that produces something, there would be nothing.
      “Nothing in quantum physics is no mass, no energy, no space, no time, no spin, no bosons, no fermions, etc. This “nothing” in the quantum sense is an unstable state – the presence of energy, mass, particles, etc., are the stable state.””

      This I think is at the root of our disagreement. As I understand it you observe and infer, thus:

      Observation: certain events can occur without a cause

      Inference: the universe or multiverse could occur without a cause

      For the purpose of this discussion I am using the word “nothing” in the ‘classical’ sense to use your terminology. Specifically, nothing is neither unstable nor stable. It cannot be directly conceived by the human mind, only indirectly as the negation of something. It’s only definition is that it is not something; and it’s only property is the necessary absence of any properties possessed by not nothing. From now on I use the word “no-thing” to denote this definition.

      You have argued, as I understand it, that the occurrence of virtual particles allows us to infer that something can come from no-thing. I disagree, because you’ve also specified a necessary condition for the occurrence of the particles, and therefore it cannot be true that either (a) virtual particles are totally uncaused – there must be some causal connection to some degree, however slight, between the pre-condition and the dependent event – otherwise why is it dependent?, or (b) your example constitutes something from no-thing (as I’ve defined it above), because the pre-condition is not no-thing, or (c) your inference invalidates the cosmological argument for God, since the occurrence of the particles takes place within an already existent universe, and therefore the extrapolatory inference to the beginning of the universe per se is unwarranted.

      You’re not, IMHO, sufficiently reductive. Whenever we talk about first order questions, it’s necessary to be radically reductive. Nothing really is nothing, no-thing. If you could demonstrate, logically if not empirically, something from no-thing, then I would be obliged to accept at least the possibility that something can occur without cause; but I haven’t, with respect, seen such a demonstration so far.

  5. The Atheist says:

    In what respects does your distinction between mind and brain differ from mine?

    That’s an excellent question that should help us to clarify precisely what our differences are, and where we might agree. I maintain that the mind seems to be dependent on the brain. The mind does not seem like an object; rather it seems like a process of the brain. You hold that the mind seems like an object that though related to the brain, does not seem dependent on it for existence. Minds can exist without a brains. We agree on the ramifications: if mind is only a process of a physical object, then mind is no indication of a world beyond the physical. If mind exists as an independent non-physical object, then mind is hard evidence of a non-physical reality.

    Observation: certain events can occur without a cause
    Inference: the universe or multiverse could occur without a cause

    I’m not arguing for this non sequitur. Rather I’m seeking to demonstrate that the premise, “Everything which has a beginning has a cause”, is a false premise.

    I am using the word “nothing” in the ‘classical’ sense to use your terminology.

    As an aside an simply a point of clarification, by “classical” sense, I mean as understood by classical (Newtonian) physics.

    You have argued, as I understand it…

    In the classical sense of “nothing”, virtual particles come from no-thing. The energy fluctuations are a product of the uncertainty principle. From the perspective of classical physics, uncertainty is a limitation of our ability to measure, and not a physical property.

    From the perspective of quantum physics, uncertainty exists as a physical property of the universe that can be tested and verified. In the quantum sense, an exact energy level at a specific time, including a zero level, is not possible due to uncertainty. Instead, there is a probability of an energy level (including zero) at a given time, or there is an actual level of energy over a span of time (an average). Then in the quantum sense, no-thing must be specified as an average (as in the total energy of the universe is zero) or as a probability (as in there is a probability that in a bounded region of space, a certain number of virtual particles exist). In the quantum sense, “nothing” at any specific time is a probability, and “nothing” over time is an average.

    • mickeyd says:

      Causation:

      “In the quantum sense, “nothing” at any specific time is a probability, and “nothing” over time is an average.”

      In order to progress our discussion, I think it essential that you should lay aside the quantum physics definition of nothing, since the no-thing definition that I have set out excludes it, and it is this no-thing definition that must be considered in our discussion of the premise in question (everything that occurs must have a cause). No-thing excludes any and all time, any and all probability, and any and all averages. No-thing excludes any and all quantum physics, whether viewed subjectively or objectively. These concepts/properties have no applicability to no-thing, since there is no actual or potential existence for them to apply to. Again, I would urge you to be more reductive – as reductive as possible. Any apparent counter-example to the premise ‘everything that occurs must have a cause’ that you may derive from quantum physics only begs the question ‘from whence comes quantum physics?’.

      Mind and brain:

      “I maintain that the mind seems to be dependent on the brain.”

      Your distinction between the processor and the process is interesting, in that it raises the question, how do we know anything? How do you and I decide what we believe and what we don’t?

      The dependency of the process on the processor should immediately cause us to ask, from whence comes the latter? It is dependent on the logic present to the human mind. But from whence comes logic?

      Logic must be innate, since without it knowledge is impossible. Apart from the law of non-contradiction, induction would be impossible since phenomena could not be individuated; A could be A and not-A at the same time and in the same sense. Induction presupposes logic, it does not discover it. Similarly, apart from the law of non-contradiction deduction would be functionally useless: any inference concerning A is reduced to absurdity if A could be both A and not-A at the same time and in the same sense. Furthermore, the law is undeniable. What is required for the statement “the law of non-contradiction is false” to be true? It is required that the law cannot be true and false at the same time and in the same sense; but if this requirement is met, the law is true, and if it is not met the statement that the law is false is meaningless.

      The fact that logic is to us innate and undeniable, can only be explained, in the final analysis, by postulating an original self-existent Logic. Ultimate reality is at least logic. Logic is an aspect of God’s thinking. However, the distinction between mind and brain, process and processor is merely one of secondary causation and effect, not a distinction between ultimate cause and effect. The process of logic must ultimately depend on original Logic, surely this is self-evidently true. It’s dependence on the processor, which is in turn dependent on the logic present to the human mind, is merely a sequence of secondary causation.

      So, there is no distinction between mind and brain in terms of causation: the activity of the mind does not cause the activity of the brain, nor vice-versa. Note: any controversy on this point takes place purely in the a priori realm. The empirical observation of correlation, however perfect, makes no definitive statement about specific causation (however, the question of whether or not events with a beginning must have a cause is a different question – as you know, I maintain that the requirement for a cause in general, without specifying in advance a particular cause, is a logical necessity).

      But the distinction between mind and brain in terms of mode of existence is absolute. They are qualitatively, not merely quantitatively, differentiated. They are different in kind, not merely degree. We know this, as I’ve already argued and as perhaps you share a significant measure of agreement with me, from the inability to attribute brain events with ethical evaluations and the inability to attribute mental events with spatial properties.

    • mickeyd says:

      Addendum to last post:

      Note that my arguments concerning the fundamental nature of logic apply to both the mind and reality external to the mind. If external reality was truly and permanently contradictory then no knowledge of it would be possible, since any proposition claiming to be true could be countered by the exact opposite proposition with an equal claim to truth. And if the mind itself had no a priori conformity to the law of non-contradiction then it would be incapable of acquiring it from sense data, since the acquisition from sense data, even non-contradictory data, would require conformity to the law. Any experiment to test if A can be A and not-A presupposes that they cannot, since the designer of the experiment must herself exhibit the law of non-contradiction in order to arrive at a valid experimental design.

    • mickeyd says:

      Clarification to my post prior to my last one:

      Mickeyd: “However, the distinction between mind and brain, process and processor is merely one of secondary causation and effect, not a distinction between ultimate cause and effect.”

      There is an apparent contradiction between this and the pre-penultimate paragraph of this post where I state:

      “the activity of the mind does not cause the activity of the brain, nor vice-versa.”

      What I mean is that although brain injuries demonstrably limit mental function, and therefore arguably brain activity causes mental activity, I would argue that the properties of both mind and brain, as finite created entities, are continuously upheld by the Creator in a relation of correlation. This is consistent with my repeated claim that correlation does not prove causation – which it does not, however much it may apparently imply it.
      Yet my position must concede certain qualifications. Every mental event, in this present life, is dependent on a corresponding brain event, as brain injuries show. Brain events, in this life, are necessary for mental events. Now I’ve previously argued that a necessary condition must have some degree of causal connection to that which depends on it – in the case of your virtual particles. So I must concede that the brain has some degree of causal connection, however slight, to the mind. But I don’t believe this connection is intrinsic to the relation between them, since as a theist I believe the mind survives the death of the brain. The dependence reflects the temporal ordering of the relation by the Creator in this life. When the Creator sees the mind of a brain injured human creation, he does not only see the correlated mental limitations, but also the mind as it would be if not correlated to an injured brain. The person is not finally injured, the present conditions are temporally finite.

      Now I realise that I am advancing explicity theistic arguments here which you probably will not accept, so I conclude this post a general observation on knowledge:

      Current scientific materialism, as espoused by Dawkins, Dennett et al, is an attempt to revive the epistemology of the Vienna Circle, which was was self-stultifying. It stipulated that nothing could be considered true that was not either an axiom of logic or empirically verifiable. However, this criterion cannot pass it’s own verification test. It is neither an axiom of logic nor empirically verifiable. This is a profound problem with modern materialist philosophy, which has essentially sought to supplant medieval and scholastic insights with a kind of Humean logical positivism, which is a defunct philosophy. It’s highly noteworthy that in the meetings of the Vienna Circle, the members got so fed up with shouting “M” (metaphysics) for every so-called invalid statement a member uttered, that they resorted to shouting “not M” instead, when anyone uttered a so-called valid statement.

    • mickeyd says:

      Hi again,

      I think I should state clearly what I cannot accept in your argumentation:

      1. The proposition that events can occur causelessly is scientifically premature.

      2. The proposition that events can occur causelessly implies and is implied by the proposition that something can come from no-thing.

      3. The proposition that something can come from no-thing is logically untenable, because it uses the word “from” in a functional sense (with respect to its accepted definition) AND in a functionless sense (with respect to no-thing, which is functionless). This is a clear violation of the law of non-contradiction, which cannot be violated since any attempt results in self-stultification. Nothing can be formally false and materially true. If this is the touchstone that divides the logician from some quantum physicists then I am with the logician. Necessarily so, since the proposition “X occurs causelessly” is meaningful if and only if X excludes its opposite, not-X, and causelessly excludes its opposite, caused. The law of non-contradiction always applies.

  6. The Atheist says:

    Hi there!

    I think it essential that you should lay aside the quantum physics definition of nothing, since the no-thing definition that I have set out excludes it.

    I don’t see any reason to accept a definition that we know isn’t consistent with the observed universe. In any case, for the sake of the discussion, I’m happy to respond to the claim that “Everything which has a beginning has a cause” as understood by classical physics. From the perspective of classical physics, there is either energy or there’s not; there is either matter or there’s not. Then from that perspectives, virtual particles appear spontaneously from nothing in empty space.

    The proposition that events can occur causelessly is scientifically premature.

    There is empirical evidence that virtual particles appear spontaneously. If, as you suggest, we define nothing from the viewpoint of classic physics, then those particles still appear spontaneously but they come from nothing.

    Nothing can be formally false and materially true.

    I agree. “Everything which has a beginning has a cause” is false since it is materially true that virtual particles spontaneously appear.

    If this is the touchstone that divides the logician from some quantum physicists then I am with the logician.

    Quantum physics explains why classic physics is wrong about the physical meaning of “nothing”. There is no contradiction that I am aware of regarding the explanations about virtual particles and energy fluctuations I’ve put forth here. ‘X can occur causelessly’ excludes ‘X cannot occur causelessly.’

    from whence comes quantum physics?

    Quantum physics and classic physics are both models that we humans create to explain our observed universe.

    Your distinction between the processor and the process is interesting, in that it raises the question, how do we know anything?…How do you and I decide what we believe and what we don’t?…The dependency of the process on the processor should immediately cause us to ask, from whence comes the latter? It is dependent on the logic present to the human mind. But from whence comes logic?

    Those are interesting questions, but not questions that are related to the competing premises: that the mind is a process of the brain, or that the mind exists apart from the brain. The questions don’t foil either premise.

    Logic must be innate, since without it knowledge is impossible…The fact that logic is to us innate and undeniable, can only be explained, in the final analysis, by postulating an original self-existent Logic.

    It doesn’t follow that because we have knowledge, and knowledge requires logic, then logic must be something that exists outside of the mind, and therefore outside of the brain. Logic is a type of reasoning and reasoning is an activity of the mind. There is no evidence for reasoning without mind and no evidence for mind without the brain.

    Ultimate reality is at least logic.

    Whose reality? The ultimate reality from a human perspective is our experience. Reason (and therefor logic) is not required to experience.

    Logic is an aspect of God’s thinking.

    If Logic is the ultimate reality and is independent of mind, does it exist independent of God’s mind?

    The process of logic must ultimately depend on original Logic, surely this is self-evidently true

    This seems to be a bit of a non sequitur. You seem to be saying that because we are able to reason (think logically), and because reasoning (logic) involves establishing truths and resolving contradictions about truths, then Reasoning must exist beyond us.

    dependent on the logic present to the human mind

    Are “words” present in the human mind in the same sense that logic is present?

    the activity of the mind does not cause the activity of the brain, nor vice-versa.

    It seems evident that the brain causes activity in the mind. For example, stimulus to certain parts of the brain can evoke memories.

    [Mind and brain] are qualitatively, not merely quantitatively, differentiated. They are different in kind, not merely degree.

    I agree. For example, a color (e.g., red) is qualitatively and quantitatively different from electro-magnetic wavelengths (e.g., 650 nm which is about the wavelength of red). However the two are inextricably related.

    If external reality was truly and permanently contradictory then no knowledge of it would be possible

    We have no basis for requiring that the universe be either completely contradictory or not contradictory, and nothing in between. For the most part we observe that it is not contradictory. But that’s not the case with all that we observe. For example, waves are not particles and particles are not waves. Particles occupy space and have mass and velocity; waves have wavelengths and amplitudes. An electron is a particle: it is attracted and repelled by other particles and is attracted by gravity. An electron is a wave: a series of single electrons fired sequentially through 2 slits create an interference pattern – something only waves create.

    The concept of contradiction is a tool of reasoning. We can either accept that there is a contradiction in the universe, that an electron is a particle and an electron is a wave and that waves are not particles, or we can redefine “electron” to be something that sometimes displays properties of a particle and sometimes displays properties of a wave.

    Contradictions are the outcome of definition and classification. The contradiction between an electron as particle and electron as wave is caused by our classification of the electron and by our definition of particle and wave. We eliminate contradictions by redefining and reclassifying. The presence or absence of contradictions is not a property of the universe per se, it is a result of our definitions and classifications.

    I would argue that the properties of both mind and brain, as finite created entities, are continuously upheld by the Creator in a relation of correlation.

    Sounds interesting. I hope to see that argument!

    But I don’t believe this connection is intrinsic to the relation between them, since as a theist I believe the mind survives the death of the brain.

    Is this a premise from which you are arguing? If as a thought experiment you were to change your premise to ‘the mind does not survive the brain’, can you still support your theistic position based on Logic outside the mind?

    • mickeyd says:

      I don’t see any reason to accept a definition that we know isn’t consistent with the observed universe.

      This is missing the point. We are trying to explain the observed universe, so it’s no good postulating answers from the universe unless the universe created itself. But this would require the universe to exist before it existed, which is nonsense.

      I agree. “Everything which has a beginning has a cause” is false since it is materially true that virtual particles spontaneously appear.

      Quantum physics is a very young science, and I’ve no doubt that even if it showed what you wanted it to show, which it doesn’t (since you use the word “from” inconsistently), it will turn out to be the white elephant of atheism.

      Quantum physics and classic physics are both models that we humans create to explain our observed universe.

      But until you’re willing to start from nothing, really nothing, you haven’t explained it. At the moment you’re not willing to face this challenge.

      The ultimate reality from a human perspective is our experience. Reason (and therefor logic) is not required to experience.

      I disagree. Apart from the law of non-contradiction, you could not know that you were experiencing X rather than not-X.
      We don’t prescribe logic for ourselves, we find it prescribed for us, both in the mind and in the world outside the mind. The same is true of morality of course.

    • mickeyd says:

      PLEASE DISREGARD MY PREVIOUS POST

      My attempt at inserting quotation html didn’t work.

      Here it is again:

      “I don’t see any reason to accept a definition that we know isn’t consistent with the observed universe.”

      This is missing the point. We are trying to explain the observed universe, so it’s no good postulating answers from the universe unless the universe created itself. But this would require the universe to exist before it existed, which is nonsense.

      “I agree. “Everything which has a beginning has a cause” is false since it is materially true that virtual particles spontaneously appear.”

      Quantum physics is a very young science, and I’ve no doubt that even if it showed what you wanted it to show, which it doesn’t (since you use the word “from” inconsistently), it will turn out to be the white elephant of atheism.

      “Quantum physics and classic physics are both models that we humans create to explain our observed universe.”

      But until you’re willing to start from nothing, really nothing, you haven’t explained it. At the moment you’re not willing to face this challenge.

      “The ultimate reality from a human perspective is our experience. Reason (and therefor logic) is not required to experience.”

      I disagree. Apart from the law of non-contradiction, you could not know that you were experiencing X rather than not-X.
      We don’t prescribe logic for ourselves, we find it prescribed for us, both in the mind and in the world outside the mind. The same is true of morality of course.

      Regards,
      Mickeyd

    • mickeyd says:

      Further:

      “Contradictions are the outcome of definition and classification.”

      Question: could contradictions be the outcome of definition and classification AND not the outcome of definition and classification?

    • mickeyd says:

      I agree. For example, a color (e.g., red) is qualitatively and quantitatively different from electro-magnetic wavelengths (e.g., 650 nm which is about the wavelength of red). However the two are inextricably related.

      This is a strawman, since I’ve never argued that mind and brain are not intimately related.

      What I have argued is that mind is immaterial and brain is material. The objection that mind could be a highly complex form of matter is untenable, since however complex a form it may be, so long as it is a form of matter, it must be attributable with properties pertaining to matter (such as spatial dimensions), which it plainly is not.

      The distinction between immaterial and material, with respect to mind and brain, is the premise from which we should all proceed.

  7. The Atheist says:

    My attempt at inserting quotation html didn’t work.

    Try typing <blockquote> before your quoted text, then type </blockquote> after your quoted text.

    We are trying to explain the observed universe, so it’s no good postulating answers from the universe unless the universe created itself. But this would require the universe to exist before it existed, which is nonsense.

    I’m not trying to explain the observed universe in this thread as much as I’m refuting the premise that “Everything which has a beginning has a cause.” To refute it, all I have to do is to show that some things have a beginning but not a cause. From the perspective of classic physics, virtual particles have a beginning but have no cause. From the perspective of quantum physics, energy fluctuations have a beginning and no cause.

    you could not know that you were experiencing X rather than not-X.

    It isn’t necessary to classify the details of the experience in order to experience the details.

    Question: could contradictions be the outcome of definition and classification AND not the outcome of definition and classification?

    No, a given contradiction cannot be the outcome of definition and classification and not the outcome of definition and classification. However that’s not true of contradictions as a group. If some members of the group, “contradictions”, can be the outcome of definition and classification (like observed contradictions in the universe for example), and other members of the group can be not the outcome of definition and classification (the statement: “This statement is false” for example), then we can say of the group that “contradictions” can be the outcome of definition and classification and not the outcome of definition and classification.

    • mickeyd says:

      To refute it, all I have to do is to show that some things have a beginning but not a cause.

      But haven’t shown this, because every example you’ve cited takes the form “phenomenon X from phenomenon Y”. Causelessness and use of the word “from” are mutually exclusive.

      Consider:

      Proposition 1: X

      Proposition 2: X from Y

      Are these propositions identical?

      It isn’t necessary to classify the details of the experience in order to experience the details.

      There are no details apart from logic since logic is what makes individuation of phenomena possible.

      If some members of the group, “contradictions”, can be the outcome of definition and classification…

      Can these contradictions – the members which are the outcome of D&C – also not be the outcome of D&C?

    • mickeyd says:

      Specifically on causelessness:

      I quote from your earlier post:

      “Something from nothing” and “something that is uncaused” are distinct in that the set of “things that are uncaused” includes things that come spontaneously from something (like particle/antiparticle pairs from the energy of warped space) and things that come spontaneously from nothing (like energy fluctuations in empty flat space).

      For now, let’s focus on your second subset of uncaused things, that is, “things that come spontaneously from nothing”.

      Hence:

      Proposition 1: X comes spontaneously

      Proposition 2: X comes spontaneously from nothing

      Looking initially at the logical structure of these two propositions, how do you compare and contrast them?

      Now consider:

      Proposition 1: energy fluctuations

      Proposition 2: energy fluctuations in empty flat space

      How do you compare and contrast these?

  8. The Atheist says:

    But haven’t shown this, because every example you’ve cited takes the form “phenomenon X from phenomenon Y”. Causelessness and use of the word “from” are mutually exclusive.

    You may have missed my earlier example: “There is empirical evidence that virtual particles appear spontaneously. If, as you suggest, we define nothing from the viewpoint of classic physics, then those particles still appear spontaneously but they come from nothing.”

    There are no details apart from logic since logic is what makes individuation of phenomena possible.

    This is no basis to conclude that experience per se depends on logic. In fact it seems to be at odds with what we know about cognition: first we perceive, then we process what we’ve perceived. We reason about what we perceive.

    Reasoning logically depends on the ability to individuate, however reasoning logically requires more than individuation.

    Can these contradictions – the members which are the outcome of D&C – also not be the outcome of D&C?

    You may have missed my earlier comment: “a given contradiction cannot be the outcome of definition and classification and not the outcome of definition and classification.”

    Looking initially at the logical structure of these two propositions, how do you compare and contrast them?

    Regarding something from nothing: Position 1 says nothing about the substance of X and Position 2 says that the substance of X did not exist prior to the existence of X.

    Regarding energy fluctuations: Position 1 says nothing about the average energy around which the fluctuation occurs and Position 2 says that the fluctuation occurs around a zero-average point.

    • mickeyd says:

      This is no basis to conclude that experience per se depends on logic. In fact it seems to be at odds with what we know about cognition: first we perceive, then we process what we’ve perceived. We reason about what we perceive.

      (a) “Reasoning logically depends on the ability to individuate”. Right, but what is being individuated in the first instance of reasoning, if not sensation into sensations, so that sensation is not an inchoate blob?

      (b) Consider the experience of anything. What would it do to the statement “I experienced something” if in fact (a) there is no such thing as thinghood and so individuation is a meaningless notion (including in respect of “I”), and/or (b) you had no hard wired notion of thinghood, and/or (c) a thing could be not-thing at the same time and in the same sense?

      (c) What would happen to your statement above if what you mean by perception could be not-perception, what you mean by processing of perception be not-processing of perception, and what you mean by reason be not-reason?

      You may have missed my earlier comment: “a given contradiction cannot be the outcome of definition and classification and not the outcome of definition and classification.”

      Consider any given contradiction from your subset: contradictions which are merely the outcome of definition and classification. Now if “a given contradiction cannot be the outcome of definition and classification and not the outcome of definition and classification” then any given contradiction which you claim is merely the outcome of D&C is itself subject to the law of non-contradiction, i.e. the very alleged subset of examples by which you hope to prove that the law of non-contradiction doesn’t always apply are themselves always subject to the law. Surely this is fatal to your argument?

      Causation:

      Let:

      Proposition: something can come from nothing

      be true.

      But:

      Proposition: something can come nothing

      Is this proposition true?

    • mickeyd says:

      Position 2 says that the substance of X did not exist prior to the existence of X.

      Then what does “from” mean in “from nothing”?

    • mickeyd says:

      Reasoning logically depends on the ability to individuate

      Where does this ability come from?

  9. The Atheist says:

    You’ve made a claim that sentience depends on differentiation – specifically, you say that sentience is the result of differentiating sensory input. Why do you think this is true? Without differentiation we’re unable to say anything more than “we experience”, but that fact doesn’t seem to support a claim that we don’t have the experience. What does “Proposition: something can come nothing” mean?

    “From” in “from nothing” means that the substance of the object did not already exist.

    The ability to individuate is a process of the brain.

    • mickeyd says:

      I’ve said that knowledge depends on individuation, which depends on the law of non-contradiction in the mind and external to the mind.

      For “fish live in the sea” to be true, fish cannot be not-fish, sea cannot be not-sea; and I must be able to individuate to know thinghood, so that I can perceive the things “fish” and “sea”. If I thought that fish could also be laptops, and seas could also be zebras, then even if they could not be so objectively I would lack the subjective faculty for knowing this.

      The interesting question for an atheist is why should the universe be logical? Where does the law of non-contradiction come from? Why is it a law, such that it renders any denial of it self-stultifying.

      Note that your reply omits to deal with an important question I raised about your examples of contradictions which are merely outcomes of D&C. I asked, can these could be the outcomes of D&C and not the outcomes of D&C? If the answer is yes, then even your counter-examples destroy your argument: your counter-examples are subject to the law of non-contradiction! If this does not persuade you that you are mistaken on this point then what could???

      The big problem with your denial of causality is that you’re not willing to address the question of something from no-thing, as oppose to something from nothing. Until you do, your argument is an exercise in question begging.

      Regards,
      Mickeyd

    • mickeyd says:

      “From” in “from nothing” means that the substance of the object did not already exist.

      Then where did it come from? Are you positing self-creation?

  10. The Atheist says:

    You say here that you “said that knowledge depends on individuation”. I agree that it does. But earlier you said that sentience depends on individuation. Can you offer any justification for the claim or are you retracting it here?

    I believe you’ll find in our posts above that you’ve already asked the question “why should the universe be logical” and I’ve already offereded a response. I haven’t seen where you’ve refuted the answer yet so at least at this point in our conversation the same answer holds.

    The observation that the category of contradictions as the outcome of definition and classification is itself subject to categorization doesn’t undermine my proposition that contradictions are the product of thought. Neither does it support a claim that the concept of contradiction can exist outside of thought. That is, it does not support a claim that the concept of contradiction and non-contradiction exist as properties of the objective universe, rather than as properties of our subjective universe which is a product of thought, which in turn is a process of the physical brain.

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe you’ll find in our posts above that you’ve already asked the question “why should the universe be logical” and I’ve already offereded a response.

      Where?

      The observation that the category of contradictions as the outcome of definition and classification is itself subject to categorization doesn’t undermine my proposition that contradictions are the product of thought.

      So you concede that it’s futile to assert your own belief about contradiction as being objectively true?

      …it does not support a claim that the concept of contradiction and non-contradiction exist as properties of the objective universe…

      So the following could be objectively true?:

      – He stood between the post

      – We had nice weather tommorrow

      – She fell up

      • The Atheist says:

        So you concede that it’s futile to assert your own belief about contradiction as being objectively true?

        Any truth we claim to know is subjective since knowledge is subjective. Neither of us can support any claim of an objective knowledge of the universe, however we can believe with good reason that we have similar subjective knowledge of the universe. I can make assertions, including assertions about contradictions, which we can each accept or reject as consistent or inconsistent with our similar subjective experiences.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi the Atheist, the last post is mine, Mickeyd. As is this. I cleared out my browser history recently and for some reason I’m no longer posting as Mickeyd but as Anonymous. Can you help me with this? Doesn’t seem to be a login facility.

      • The Atheist says:

        Hi, Mickeyd. Were you logged in before as Mickeyd when you posted or did you simply supply your name for each post? Ether method should allow you to post with your preferred name, regardless of your browser history.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mickeyd says:

      That is, it does not support a claim that the concept of contradiction and non-contradiction exist as properties of the objective universe

      Consider:

      The Atheist’s Proposition: contradiction and non-contradiction are not properties of the objective universe

      Question: Would this proposition be meaningful if contradiction and non-contradiction could be properties AND NOT be properties of the objective universe?

      • The Atheist says:

        It wouldn’t be meaningful to us since we are the ones who assign attributes (like contradiction and non-contradiction) to describe our subjective experience of the objective universe. There is no concept of contradiction outside of subjective experience.

        • Mickeyd says:

          It wouldn’t be meaningful to us…

          So you admit that your own proposition is meaningless?!

          There is no concept of contradiction outside of subjective experience.

          How the dickens do you know??? You’ve just said in your previous post that “Neither of us can support any claim of an objective knowledge of the universe”!!

          The Atheist, I’m really sad to say this, but I’m afraid we have reached the end of the road. You are determined to assert subjectivism, which is utterly self-defeating because if subjectivism is true you can’t assert anything – including subjectivism! I find it very sad that a person of your evident intelligence would deliberately ensnarl himself/herself in a philosophy which is a total dead end. Please reconsider! Hawking’s ‘model dependent realism’ is a contradiction in terms – if knowledge is model dependent then it’s only as real as the model, so what sense does it make to refer to model dependent realism? What is objective subjectivity? Pure philosophical silliness.

          Sincere best wishes,

          Mickeyd

          PS I do not rule out further discussion in principle, far from it, but as long as your determined to pursue subjectivism we have no point of contact.

    • Anonymous says:

      But earlier you said that sentience depends on individuation. Can you offer any justification for the claim or are you retracting it here?

      Sentience is knowledge, at the very least knowledge of oneself as an individual thing.

      • The Atheist says:

        We’ve may a point of agreement then. I disagree with your earlier statement that sentience is dependent on logic. However I agree that sentience is a type of knowledge.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mickeyd says:

      From our earlier posts:

      Mickeyd: I think it essential that you should lay aside the quantum physics definition of nothing, since the no-thing definition that I have set out excludes it.

      The Atheist: I don’t see any reason to accept a definition that we know isn’t consistent with the observed universe.

      How do you reconcile your reply above with your reply below? Are you now retracting the reply above? –

      The Atheist (in your most recent post):

      Neither does it support a claim that the concept of contradiction can exist outside of thought. That is, it does not support a claim that the concept of contradiction and non-contradiction exist as properties of the objective universe…

      How can you require that a definition must be consistent with the observed universe and then argue that logical consistency is purely subjective?

      • The Atheist says:

        I can say this because our observation of the universe is a subjective experience and our definitions reference this subjective experience.

        • Mickeyd says:

          With respect, this is more nonsense. As a subjectivist, you can’t even say there is a universe. You cannot make ANY claim to state objective truth whatsoever. Why do you love to have your cake and eat it?

    • Anonymous says:

      Mickeyd says:

      That is precisely what we do when we talk about the pressure of a gas. The system has the attribute “pressure”, however the gas molecules do not. If you consider “known forms of matter” to include only the reducible parts, then you must say that a system cannot have pressure since the known forms of matter do not have pressure.

      There are at least 2 problems with this:

      1. You’re attempting to demonstrate that a whole (multiple gas molecules) has a property (pressure) which individual parts (molecules) lack. However, you’ve introduced another element, the container, which is neither the whole collection of molecules nor an individual molecule. This therefore invalidates your conclusion: it is no longer a whole vs parts argument, you’ve introduced a critical other element.

      2. In any case, an individual gas molecule would exert pressure in hitting a container wall; force per unit area would be positive albeit momentary. So your claimed distinction between parts vs whole isn’t actually true.

      Regards,
      Mickeyd

      • The Atheist says:

        1. Adding a container doesn’t invalidate the argument since the container and the individual gas molecules lack the property, pressure. However the system of the container and gas molecules do have a property, pressure, which the constituents of the system lack.

        2. A collision between a gas molecule with the container isn’t pressure. A collision is a body with some momentum vector coming into contact with another body with a different momentum vector, resulting in a change to both vectors.

        • Mickeyd says:

          since the container and the individual gas molecules lack the property

          Invalid, since you’re referring to individual gas molecules in the plural sense, yet your argument depends on contrasting properties of all the molecules with an individual molecule. Remember, your argument is not a contrast between individual neurons and all neurons of a brain, but between ALL neurons in a state of non-interaction and ALL neurons in a state of interaction.

          RE point 2, as long as an individual molecule is a body with some momentum vector, which it is, then my point stands.

          • Mickeyd says:

            Clarification:

            Re point 1 above, I mean that no human being has a single neuron brain. So your argument must be that multiple neuron interactivity produces sentience whereas multiple neuron non-interactivity does not. But to justify this, you’ve introduced a container in your pressure analogy, necessarily since pressure only occurs in the context of a container of some sort; however, the container has no counterpart in the reality of your analogue, or to my argument, and therefore your argument does not constitute a counter-example. A counter-example must have the same argument form as the argument which it counters. If you want to refute “neither non-interactive Xs nor interactive Xs can have property P”, your counter-example cannot be “non-interactive Xs do not have property P but interactive Xs in Y do have property P”. “in Y” is disallowed because the counter must have the same argument form as that which it counters.

            Unless of course by container you are referencing the human skull? But that would be daft, because no-one argues that the skull is involved in the production of sentience. Obviously it plays a part in the maintenance and protection of the brain as a blood supplied organ, but no-one says it actually works with the brain to generate sentience.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The last post is by Mickeyd!

    Mickeyd also says:

    In addition to logic, where I think your position is self-defeating, your position on mind vs brain seems likewise:

    I don’t think it is possible to measure thoughts in cm…I do think it’s theoretically possible (though not yet practically possible at least at present) to map a neuron network of thought.

    Are you saying that the neuron network IS thought? If yes, how can you concede the impossibility of attributing spatial dimensions to thoughts, and then say it’s theoretically possible to map them? If no, then of what value is this conjecture in refuting my central conclusion (mind is not a process of the brain)?

    I submit this additional comment from a conversation with an atheist friend:

    Mickeyd:

    Can the results of electro-chemical events alone be anything other than electro-chemical events? –

    1. If they cannot, then you are forced to concede that thoughts are electro-chemical events. But that violates your major premiss that thoughts are the result of electro-chemical events.

    2. If alternatively they can, then you are obliged to explain how electro-chemical events alone can produce something other than electro-chemical events. How?

    • The Atheist says:

      Are you saying that the neuron network IS thought?

      No, I am saying that the brain is the processor and thought is the process.

      what value is this conjecture in refuting my central conclusion (mind is not a process of the brain)?

      My statement wasn’t offered as a refutation of your central position, it was rather a response to your question about all reality having spacial dimensions.

      In response to option #2 presented to your friend, combinations of things are themselves other things, in addition to being the constituent parts. Can atoms ever be more than atoms? Yes, certain combinations of hydrogen and oxygen is water. Though water is hydrogen and oxygen, hydrogen is not water and neither is oxygen.

      • Mickeyd says:

        Can atoms ever be more than atoms? Yes, certain combinations of hydrogen and oxygen is water. Though water is hydrogen and oxygen, hydrogen is not water and neither is oxygen.

        Whatever your point here is, which I think is ambigious, the fact remains that atomic events alone can only ever cause atomic events. I think you’re missing the point therefore.

      • Mickeyd says:

        Hi The Atheist,

        Thanks for the discussion. As I say above, your subjectivism is beyond the pale for me, so I’ll leave it there.

        Regards,

        Mickeyd

  12. AK in AK says:

    this argument is far too long to read the entire thing but I did want to point out that, as an atheist, I don’t invent deities to explain that which I can not explain (aka the bill o’reilly approach of “can’t explain it… must be god!”). 10,000 years ago fire, earthquakes, bad weather, or even good weather were mystical things caused by some caveman’s god. today we understand the causes of these things even if we don’t have any control over them. We learn more about the universe every day… but to say something is logical proof of god because we don’t understand it would be incorrect. sentience is a mystical thing we don’t understand… for now. Someday we may understand it (and when that day comes I’m sure there will be groups out there waiting in line to develop ways to manipulate it), but not understanding it does not prove anything except that we don’t understand it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mickeyd says:

      I disagree AK, because I believe the inability to explain mind in terms of physical science is not a temporary scientific gap but a permanent logical gap. It will never make sense to say that a brain event is true or kind, and it will never make sense to say that thought has physical dimensions.

      There is a limit to how much and for how long one can credibly appeal to future acquisition of new knowledge to resolve a difficulty. That limit is met in the face of frank logical contradiction.

      Regards,
      Mickeyd

  13. Anonymous says:

    Mickeyd says:

    Hi AK, if you read through my debate with The Atheist you’ll see he tries to employ a counter-example, the distinction betweeen a computer processor and its processes, as an example of a distinction like that between mind and brain but which does not require a metaphysical explanation.

    The counter-example is invalid, however, because:

    1. If we can say that a process is true but cannot ever intelligibly say that a processor is true, then again we are witnessing a distinction that cannot logically be bridged by scientific explanation. And how can we intelligibly say that a computer chip is true? Obviously we cannot; it is not a proposition and is therefore neither true nor false.

    2. Similarly, if we can say that a processor has physical dimensions but cannot intelligibly say that a process does, then by parity of reasoning we again are faced with a scientifically inexplicable distinction. And clearly we cannot say that a process per se, such as “compare the value in the AX register with the next line of code”, has physical dimensions. What sense does it make to say that a CPUs instruction set, or any of its individual machine language commands, is X units long or wide or high? None whatsoever, it’s sheer irresolvable absurdity, which can only be resolved by a metaphysical explanation.

    This should be no surprise to us, since the fetch, decode, execute and writeback activities of a processor are extensions of the human mind that designed the material substrate i.e. the processor (and its ancillary components).

  14. Wiring Ryde says:

    Wiring Ryde…

    […]Who created God? « Ask an Atheist[…]…

  15. Paul S says:

    From the stand point of there not being any god, god is a creation of man and part of man’s natural evolution. (Look for the book called “The God part of the Brain.” and search for the “God helmet” experiment.)

    And further more anything which has an origin does not qualify to be “God.” So, from the stand point of there being a God, no God cannot have any kind of creation.

    Now existence “is” since there was never nothing. Existence has no origin, is not created, and has no Creator. And all the traditional arguments for a god, set forth arguments for existence of a god. Existence does not need a god.

    • Mickeyd says:

      Your post is interesting Paul S in that raises the question of why “god is a creation of man and part of man’s natural evolution” if God has no objective existence. You can limit the search for explanation to proximate causes only by an arbitrary insistence that the question of an ultimate cause is ‘not a proper question’. Not proper on what grounds?

      Your post also gives a lead in for me to round up my posts to The Atheist in the debate above, drawing the threads together into what I think is the essential of the controversy. This I do below and apologize to everyone for the size of the post.

      Consider the following cosmological argument for the existence of God:

      Premise 1) Something is caused

      Premise 2) Not everything can be caused (an infinite causal regress is impossible)

      Conclusion) Therefore there must be an uncaused cause

      The atheist can attempt to critique this argument in various ways:

      (a) By arguing that nothing is caused, and therefore Premise 1) is false. If causation is mere sequence then nothing is caused. But if answer to the question “why should anyone believe that causation is mere sequence?” a cause is given for believing such, then the respondent immediately reveals a causally based worldview, and is therefore in self-contradiction. And if no cause can be given, or if the ‘cause’ that is given is another exhibition of mere sequence, then why should anyone believe the claim that causation is mere sequence?

      (b) By arguing that an infinite causal regress is possible, and hence the universe is beginning-less. But Premise 2) is simply observing that any infinite regress would *by definition* be incapable of completion.

      (c) By revealing its hidden premise and then arguing that this premise is not true as a matter of logical necessity. Thus we have the argument made explicit:

      Premise 1) Something is caused

      Premise 2) Not everything can be caused (an infinite causal regress is impossible)

      Premise 3) A causeless beginning is impossible

      Conclusion) Therefore there must be an uncaused cause

      Anyone who rejects premise 3) is not obliged to accept the conclusion, and it is not, so at least some atheists maintain, illogical to reject premise 3).

      Discussion of objection (c):

      Anyone who is not persuaded by objections (a) and (b) is then faced with a choice between two propositions:

      Proposition 1): something (“God”) caused something from nothing

      Proposition 2): something “just occurred”, i.e. something from nothing

      Proposition 2) negates Premise 3) in the argument above. Now if the theist asserts that “something from nothing” is illogical (because there is nothing for something to come *from*), then the atheist can reply that by the same assertion Proposition 2) is also illogical, since it also contains the clause “something from nothing”. Here I must agree with the atheist because I do not believe any reply can be given that would support a logically compelling proof for the existence of God. Why? Well, the only reply available to the theist is to out that in Proposition 1) the clause “something from nothing” has a meaning that is necessarily analogical, whereas in Proposition 2) the meaning is necessarily literal. That is to say, our understanding of the creative act of God is necessarily incomplete and indirect because it has no matching counterpart in our finite creative acts. There is no creative act we can perform that has no prior conditions whatsoever. Therefore, it is urged, the sense in which the clause “something from nothing” is used by the theist is different to the sense in which the atheist must use it – and because it is different, the impossibility of the atheistic “something from nothing” does not entail the impossibility of the theistic “something from nothing”. But this line of reasoning, I must point out to my theist friend, is question begging, because the sense differs only if God exists, and this cannot be assumed in an argument that purports to demonstrate that God exists. Assumption is not demonstration. If the theist wishes to apply a reductio ad absurdum to the atheistic “something from nothing”, and this constitutes the proof of God’s existence, then the reductio cannot itself depend on God’s existence for its cogency.

      So where does this leave the theist? Very briefly, no-one is logically compelled to be a theist, yet theism is not illogical. The idea of a self-existent being violates no axiom of logic. Further, the notion of intelligibility is rooted in explanation. If we are to believe that the universe, personality, morality, beauty and meaning just occurred without a cause, or inexplicably ‘supervene’ on physical realities, then the human quest for intelligibility is inevitably frustrated. If there is an explanation then that explanation must be a personal and infinitely creative agency. And if it is asserted that there is no explanation nor can be, then that assertion itself stands in need of justification. It will not suffice to appeal to the Humean type of logical-positivism that underlies secular thought in our culture, because that philosophy is incapable of meeting its own truth criteria. The proposition that all truth claims should be disregarded that are not either an axiom of logic or empirically verifiable, is *itself* not either an axiom of logic or empirically verifiable.

      As to my debate above with The Atheist, whilst I concede that the idea of a universe with a causeless beginning is not illogical, I maintain my view that everything that has a beginning in the universe must have a cause – not necessarily a sufficient cause, but at least a necessary cause. Otherwise the universe would be incoherent. We can show this even in the case of libertarian free will. Free will exists if and only if morality exists. And morality exists, as we can show by considering the following argument:

      Premise 1) Morality does not exist

      Premise 2) Human beings ought not to act as if something exists when it does not exist

      Conclusion) Therefore, human beings ought not to act as if morality exists.

      This argument cannot be sound because its premises are contradictory, and yield a self-contradictory conclusion. The premise ‘Morality does not exist’ cannot be consistently conjoined with another premise that contains a prescription (‘Human beings ought not … ‘). Therefore the conclusion is self-contradictory. If humans ought, or ought not, to do anything, then morality does exist. So amoralism can be maintained without self-contradiction only in those who never apply the word ‘ought’ to others. Hence they cannot ever say “people ought not to torture others for fun”. And at the very least, who wouldn’t eventually say “People ought to stop torturing me for fun”!

      So morality exists, and therefore free will also. But an act of free will cannot be either causally determined or intrinsically random, i.e. an act of free will has a necessary cause(s) but not a sufficient cause(s). I would not be at all surprised if the physical analogue of free will is quantum indeterminacy in the brain. In that case such quantum events have necessary but not sufficient causes – which implies, I must point out, a rejection of full-blown quantum indeterminacy.

  16. I really intend to save this posting, “Who created God?
    Ask an Atheist” on my own web-site. Would you care in case I
    actuallydo it? Thanks a lot -Chang

    • Mickeyd says:

      Hi Chang,

      I’ve no idea if I retain the copyright for my posts here, but if you would be so good I would like to see your website before giving the go-ahead. It’s very unlikely I would have any objection.

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