Saturday, May 26, 2012

If Logic, then God

Suppose you find yourself convinced that the laws of logic are objective and that they have a positive ontological status.  With their immutability in mind, the laws of logic cannot be grounded in a dynamic universe.  Consider this:

1. The universe and everything contained within it are mutable.  (Premise)

2. The laws of logic are immutable.  (Premise)

3. Therefore, the laws of logic cannot be contained within the universe.  (From 1 and 2)

The objectivity and existence of laws of logic necessitate that they be necessary, eternal, immutable and immaterial.  Now, do these objects fit better within a theistic worldview or an atheistic worldview?  Obviously, naive materialism is ruled out as a plausible (possible?) worldview, and materialism is one of the most predominant atheistic worldviews.

Technically, an atheist could adopt a version of Platonism.  It's at this point that I would exhort the believer to stress the advantages of conceptualism over against Platonism.  To continue:

4. The laws of logic are abstract objects.  (Premise)

5. Abstract objects are either mind-independent or mental concepts.  (Premise)

6. Abstract objects cannot be mind-independent.  (Premise)

7. Therefore, the laws of logic are mental concepts.  (From 4 - 6)

Now, the laws of logic cannot be the concepts of just any mind.  For, there are possible worlds in which contingent minds do not exist.  Yet, the laws of logic still obtain in those possible worlds.  Hence, the laws of logic must be the concepts of a necessary mind (e.g. God).

Premise (6) might be the most controversial of the argument.  I would stress the causal impotence of abstract objects, and the fact that there is a causal relation between mind-independent realities and the mind that knows them.  In other words, if the laws of logic were mind-independent, then they could not be known.  However, they certainly are known.  Therefore, the laws of logic are not mind-independent, but conceptual in nature.

As for the positive ontological status of the laws of logic and other abstract objects, I would appeal to their indispensability.  It is impossible to reason apart from laws of logic.  A thing cannot possess the attribute of indispensability and be non-existent.  After all, non-existent entities do not possess any attributes.  A parody of this argument might go something like this: unicorns possess the attribute of being magical.  Yet, that doesn't mean unicorns exist.

The problem with the above objection is that unicorns really don't possess the attribute of being magical.  The quality of being a magical horse with a horn is not instantiated, whereas the indispensability of logic is instantiated.  It really is necessary for us to use logic whenever engaging in rational inquiry.  In sum, there is no parity between the argument and its parody.

If this argument is sound, as I maintain it is, then we have a definitive proof in favor of theism and against atheism.  Far from there being a conflict between faith and reason, it turns out that reason actually presupposes faith.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Cosmological Argument for the Existence of the One

This is a post similar to one I did earlier, except this one simplifies the argument:

1. If A and B are causally related, then A and B have something in common.  (Premise)

2. Everything that stands in causal relations possibly has the ability to causally influence every other causal power.  (Premise)

3. Hence, everything that stands in causal relations has something in common N.  (From 1 and 3)

4. N is either temporally contingent or temporally necessary.  (Definition)

5. Every moment of time stands in a causal relation.  (Premise)

6. Hence, N exists at all moments of time.  (From 3, 4 and 5)

7. Therefore, N is temporally necessary.  (From 4 and 6)

N's eternality may be deduced by the fact that N cannot fail to exist at any time.  N's tremendous power may be inferred by its ability to sustain all causally potent entities.  The fact that all causally potent entities have this in common, rather than in distinction, points to N's unicity.  Therefore, an entity exists which is temporally necessary, eternal, very powerful and unique: this is the One, or God.

The One Less God Argument

Richard Dawkins and some of the new atheists are fond of saying that everyone is an atheist, and that atheists simply believe in one less God than we do.  It occurred to me last night while thinking about this that there can be dozens of parodies of this argument.  For example:

"You believe the Steelers alone will win the next Super Bowl.  I simply believe that one less team will win."

The point of the parody is to show that it may be the case that some God or other must exist, just as some team or other must win the Super Bowl.  Obviously, this contention may be disputed, but that's where the debate ought to shift to the arguments of natural theology.

Friday, May 18, 2012

More on the Uniformity of Nature

It occurred to me that for the diehard skeptic, the uniformity of nature/principle of induction may not be readily accepted.  Of course, I've always known this, and Hume makes it abundantly clear that he doesn't believe that the uniformity of nature is something demonstrable.  Nevertheless, I've been thinking about possible arguments that would demonstrate the irrationality of denying the uniformity of nature.  Here's one:

1. In order for a belief B to be rationally compelling, there must be a probability of B > .5.  (Premise)

2. Necessarily, if nature is not uniform (represented by ~B), then ~B > .5.  (Implied by 1)

3. Necessarily, if ~B, then the probability of ~B is inscrutable.  (Premise)

4. Necessarily, if ~B is inscrutable, then it is not the case that ~B > .5.  (Definition)

5. Hence, it is not the case that ~B > .5.  (From 3 and 4)

6. Therefore, ~B is not rationally compelling.  (From 1 and 5)

Based on this argument, it's easy to see how ~B is not rationally acceptable, either.  Assuming that rational acceptability requires some level of probability, then ~B does not even meet this criterion.  After all, inscrutability is the inability to ascertain a belief's probability, whereas rational acceptability necessitates that there be such an ability.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Uniformity of Nature and the PSR

There is a great deal of order exhibited throughout the universe.  We often refer to this order as the "uniformity of nature."  A simple (not to be confused with simplistic) teleological argument might go like this:

1. Regularity is the result of design.  (Premise)

2. The uniformity of nature exhibits regularity.  (Premise)

3. Therefore, the uniformity of nature is the result of design.  (From 1 and 2)

In other words, whenever something happens over and over again, it is not the result of chance, but of design.  Since the laws of nature fit this description, we are justified in concluding that a cosmic designer exists.

The typical objection to this argument is that it leaves the designer unexplained.  There are two equally effective responses the theist may appeal to.  First, in order for an explanation to be best, we don't have to have an explanation of the explanation.  If archaeologists discovered the remains of pottery in a remote part of the world, they would rightly conclude that someone had designed the pottery.  This holds true even if the archaeologists have no idea who the person was, where he came from, where he went, etc.

Secondly, theists are happy to admit that the cosmic designer has an explanation.  The PSR states that everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.  The cosmic designer, far from having no explanation, is explained by a necessity of its own nature.  The cosmic designer exists because it cannot possibly fail to exist.

Another way of summarizing the argument is like this:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.  (Premise, PSR)

2. If the uniformity of nature has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is in a necessary cause.  (Premise)

3. The uniformity of nature exists.  (Premise)

4. Hence, the uniformity of nature has an explanation of its existence.  (From 1 and 3)

5. Therefore, the uniformity of nature is explained by a necessary cause.  (From 2 and 4)

Here's the atheist's dilemma.  If he says that the uniformity of nature has an external cause, that cause must be supernatural, timeless, changeless and immaterial, in addition to being very powerful and intelligent (per the teleological argument above).  Now, this supernatural cause must also have an explanation of its existence, but this can only be found in a necessity of its own nature.  After all, a timeless entity is not the kind of thing that can exist and then cease to exist, for that would require temporal becoming.

On the other hand, if the atheist wishes to say that the uniformity of nature exists by a necessity of its own nature, then we still have something very much like God.  It's a God-substitute, if you will.  It seems that the atheist's insistence that the cosmic designer have an explanation is a sort of backhanded compliment to the theist's defense of the PSR.

One for You, Two for Me

We're all familiar with the "one for you, two for me" expression.  It occurred to me that a paradox akin to the Tristram Shandy paradox is within our reach.  Imagine we share an infinite bag of cookies and I'm the one who is in charge of the distribution.  I give you one, then keep two, give you another one, then keep three, and so on out to infinity.  As time advances, my share of cookies will grow continuously larger than your own.  Now, this wouldn't be very fair of me, but it also provides the background of the paradox.

Suppose instead that we have been sharing the bag of cookies from eternity past.  For every minute that has already passed, you have received a cookie.  Given that the past is infinite in this hypothetical scenario, it follows that you have infinitely-many cookies corresponding to infinitely-many minutes.  Therefore, there is a one-to-one correspondence between your share of cookies and mine.  Yet, hasn't the number of cookies I'm keeping for myself been growing exponentially larger than the cookies I'm giving to you?

This is just another fun way of stating what we already know: that in set-theory, a part may be equal to its whole.  Infinite sets may be consistent within an abstract mathematical realm, but I see no reason to accept that they're part of nature/physical reality.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Was Same-Sex Marriage Ever a Christian Rite?

This article answers in the affirmative.  Jimmy Akin's excellent response can be found here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bristol Palin and the Social Media Backlash

Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol, has criticized President Obama for his support of same-sex marriage.  Not surprisingly, Ms. Palin's comments have resulted in a firestorm of insults.  This article includes just some of the barbs.

What I find most interesting is that the mockery of Bristol Palin in no way serves as a response to her argument against same-sex marriage (which is that the best environment for children includes a mother and a father).  Yes, Bristol is a single mother.  So what?  Does this in any way undermine the argument she makes?  People can attack her personally all they want, but the debate about same-sex marriage ought to focus on the arguments, rather than on the persons who defend them.

Some might chuckle at a personal insult directed toward Bristol Palin, but that kind of verbal sparring is nothing more than textbook ad hominem.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

North Carolina, Same-sex Marriage and the Accusation of Hate

North Carolina has become the last southern state to add a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.  Included in the measure is an additional ban on same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships.  Regardless of where you stand on the issue, a troubling trend has continued: the accusation of hate.

Think of it this way.  Most of us agree that drugs, such as heroin, should remain illegal.  Does this mean opponents to heroin-legalization hate drug addicts?  Or, is it rather the case that they have a legitimate point about the health-deteriorating effects of the drug?  I'm much more inclined to think the latter.

Note: I'm not comparing homosexuals to drug addicts.  My point is simply that the accusation of hate is based upon some flawed logic.