Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Does the Universe Exist? Is HRG an abstraction?

One of the major -perennial, knock-down-dragout fights I've had with atheists on the net is with HRG the Austrian Mathematician on CARM over Tillich's existential ontology, especially his argument against being itself as an abstraction. All of his arguments assume that being itself is an abstraction. As I pointed out last time Tillich denied this but HRG refuses to accept it even in spite of the fact that Tillich denied it. But what's totally hilarious is that HRG gives away the store, and I think he knows this, I'll get to that in a minute.

Before I get into that I will speak to this concept of the universe as not exiting. "How could it be," you might ask, "that the universe doesn't exist when I am here, I see a world around me, the world is the universe?" But is "the world" the universe? Universe is a concept. The world does not come with convenient labels telling us what things are. We have to decide what things are. We see a mass of sense data and qualia bombarding our senses. We ask "what is this stuff around us? to make sense of it we invent the notion of a  universe. We don't see a plaque on the side Jupiter saying "universe, self caused and undersigned." Nor do we see "universe by God." We decide it's a universe and we decide what that means. True we have what appear to be real sense data to go on, but it's still our conceptualization.

Take the night sky for example. The night sky is actually a myth. How can that be? it's right there, just open your eyes and look up. But what are we really looking at? Are we seeing the starts as they truly are? No, through science we know now that the light of each star that is just now reaching us is coming to us over millions of years. In fact, theoretically, all the stars could have gone out and we wouldn't know it for some time. Moreover, not only is the light old and shows us things as they appeared a long long time before humans even existed, but the stars are not in the places they appear to be. We know now that gravitational lenses distort the location and also existence of some stars.  Some stars could be reflections of other stars and they are all in different places. What seemed to true and clear at one time is actually non existent. The night sky exists, but its not what we think it is. Now as to this thing we call "universe," we make up theories of its origin with NO means of empirically verifying if those theories are right. We are imposing our own ideas of order upon the pile of sense data and we have no real way of checking to see it it's right. But those who worship our methods of investigation of the natural world tell us that we can't believe anything unless it's checked out by their methods. Yet the universe itself can't be totally checked out.

The universe is actually an abstraction. It's an abstract concept based upon calculating and reducing what we observe to averages and tendencies and conceptual understanding. The whole concept of induction and the notion of scientific empirical proof is based upon abstracting the concrete and reducing it to averages. That's what statistical probability is. Probability is an abstraction. Things fall through the cracks of abstraction and of empirical science. For example most men tend to be physically bigger than most women. As a result men tend to be stronger than women. But there are plenty of women out there who could kick my ass. My former next door neighbor was much bigger than I am and broader shoulders and could have mopped the floor with me. I used to tell people that in her youth she secretly played for the Dallas Cowboys. When they asked "under what name?" I would tell them, "Bob Lilly." Yet on average I should be stronger than any woman.

So the universe is an abstraction. It's a concept we impose upon the pile of sense data. This is science but it's also what Heidegger calls "metaphysics." Metaphsyics Not spooks and esp and strange things but the tendency to reduce sense data and group it under a given organizing principle that determines our understanding. The whole science of cosmology is actually metaphysics by that definition. But if you asked anyone "is the universe real?" we would have to say "sure." Yet it's also an abstraction. So when HRG tells me that being itself is an abstraction what does that really mean? If it means, as he says it does, that Being itself is not real, then the universe isn't real either. But they can both refer to real things and still be abstractions.

consider the following exchange:
Originally Posted by HRG View Post
Then the universe can also be the basis of its own existence.
Meta:O, now that's interesting. who told you that? what star do you see through a telescope that has that printed on it's side? Since everything we know is contingent, why should we think this is not contingent? Well in fact if space and time are two aspects of the whole and the whole is dependent upon each space and time, then how can you make the claim that the whole is the basis? why wouldn't the parts be the basis?

this would of course assume for certain that you know the universe is not created. so how do you know that? where's the label printed that says "self made universe?"

Since there is no logical reason why there has to be a beginning of this chain, all that you say about God is special pleading.
Meta:again, you can't understand the concept. I spoke right to this and I say "he doesn't get it." why? because I said "whatever the basis is that is the basis." We are not talking about the cosmological argument, or cause and effect or any of that. the basis is the basis, if the universe is it's own basis then I guess the universe is being itself. so why aren't you worshiping the universe?

but I have better reason to assume it's not and that something else is involved. But it's not a matter of a chain of causal relationships.

See above. There is nothing illogical about a chain without a first element. Example: negative integers.

Meta:yes, there sure it's. circular reasoning, begging the question. trying to subvert a a line of clausal effects because you don't like what it implies. but that's not the issue. the chain would be being itself if that is the basis of all things. so you still have God.

We are not stuck with such a petty version of God however, because it's silly to assume there could be an endless stream of arbitrary necessities.

It does not explain the existence of this "first cause". It just postulates it. I can equally well postulate the existence of an infinite chain; this has the advantage that I do not need your special pleading.

Meta:It's not even about a first cause. In Tillich's world the Cosmological argument diminishes the greatness of God. It really has nothing to do with a first cause. You are bringing stuff in from arguments because you are not willing to learn about Tillich.

Definitions <>existence proof.
Meta:silly gimmickry

The premise "there must be a final cause" is wrong.

Meta:being itself is not based upon that premise. but you are totally and absolutely wrong and waxed you on the floor everything we argued it. you don't even respond to half the answer. But as it so happens in this discussion that is totally irrelevant. you are shooting blindly hoping this applies and it does not. you are going to have to learn soemthing about Tilich to argue with him.

[quoet]Fine. Being itself (a concept) cannot cause anything.[/QUOTE]

Meta:It doesn't have to. that's not the issue. That that is' the "basis" is not the same as saying it's the cause.

At the end of all this I made the above point about the universe and reiterated that fact that Han's arguemnts assume an abstraction where there is none, and that his own guiding principle (which he takes as self causing and self sufficient) is an abstraction as well, and one abstraction is as good as another, then he has failed to address my arguments.

His answer? He says he wont talk to me anymore (promises!, promises!) for two reasons:

 (1) I have not been responsive to his arguments.

I've been so non responsive I showed that the founding premise to all of his arguments is wrong and that his arguments don't apply to my mine for that reason, and that his basic argument about abstractions also defeats his own alternative to God.

(2) I am insulting.

I am insulting by saying he's dishonest becuase when I showed that Tillicih denies that being itself is an abstraction then Hans says he's lying, and that means then Hans is not being honest or fair, and pointing that out is insulting to him.

But you know, a screen on a message board might just be an abstraction too. Does HRG exist? No he does not. Metacrock does not exist. My parents didn't name me that.

As with Being itself and God, being abstraction doesn't mean I don't exist, does it mean Hans doesn't exist? It doesn't, but it might mean his arguments don't exist.

No comments: