Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Quantum Particles Do Not Prove Universe from Nothing


 photo European-lab-Close-to-finding-God-particle-NAN19NH-x-large.jpg


In light of of Naturalist arguments, are predicated: that QM particles prove something can pop up out of nothing with no cause. Quantum theory seems to confirm the notion that it is possible for the universe to begin with no cause. In terms of the TS argument that would mean that no organizing principle is necessary to explain order.

The second contender for a theory of initial conditions is quantum cosmology, the application of quantum theory to the entire Universe. At first this sounds absurd because typically large systems (such as the Universe) obey classical, not quantum, laws. Einstein's theory of general relativity is a classical theory that accurately describes the evolution of the Universe from the first fraction of a second of its existence to now. However it is known that general relativity is inconsistent with the principles of quantum theory and is therefore not an appropriate description of physical processes that occur at very small length scales or over very short times. To describe such processes one requires a theory of quantum gravity. [1]

This statement is more admission than documentation. It admits that quantum theory might not pertain to the universe as a whole. After all the theory has only been validated under normal conditions of space/time, temperature and the like. We have no idea if it still applies at the big bang expansion where the laws of physics seem to be suspended, temperature and time approach infinity. “What we do know is that massive objects do not exhibit quantum behavior. No one can be sure that a new-born universe would obey quantum theory as we know it..”[2]Moreover the statement admits that the theory requires a theory of quantum gravity in order to apply as a theory of origins. Do we have a theory of quantum gravity that has been validated empirically?

Lawrence Krauss in his book, A Universe from Nothing, [3] argues that quantum theory means that the universe came from nothing based upon the assumption that quantum particles do the same. Krauss argues that the eternal laws of Quantum mechanics produce particles out of nothing when the instability of vacuum states causes quantum fields to shift and produce different kinds of particles. [4] This seems like scientific proof but all it really says is that nothing became unstable and turned into something, no thought as to how that could be. There's a deeper trick, however, in that the terms don't really mean what they seem to mean. David Albert (a Philosopher with Ph.D. in physics) exposed the meaning of terms and exploded the whole project.


Albert first points out that tracing the universe back to some physical property or cause is not an explanation as to why there is something rather than nothing.


What if he were in a position to announce, for instance, that the truth of the quantum-mechanical laws can be traced back to the fact that the world has some other, deeper property X? Wouldn’t we still be in a position to ask why X rather than Y? And is there a last such question? Is there some point at which the possibility of asking any further such questions somehow definitively comes to an end? How would that work? What would that be like?[5]

Secondly, he points out that going back to the enlightenment, science has always assumed that at the “bottom of everything” there is “some basic, elementary, eternally persisting, concrete, physical stuff.” [6] Newton had it that this “stuff” consisted of particles. At the end of the nineteenth century it was particles and electro-magnetic fields. Albert argues that since that time all of physics is basically about “how that elementary stuff is arranged.”[7] The laws don’t tell us where the elementary “stuff” came from, not even laws of quantum mechanics. The laws do not tell us where the fields came from, let alone where the “laws” themselves came from. Moreover, contrary to all previous theories, quantum theory particles are understood as arrangements of fields. Some arrangements correspond to certain numbers and kinds of particles, some correspond to no particles.[8] This latter arrangement, Albert tells us, is what they call “vacuum states.” According to Albert, Krauss is arguing that the laws of relativistic quantum field theories “entail that vacuum states are unstable. And that, in a nutshell, is the account he proposes of why there should be something rather than nothing.”[9]


There is no explanation here. No hint as to how nothing could become something. If nothing comes out of some prior condition we don't know. Krauss is just assuming something from nothing. That's important because prior conditions have to be accounted for. There are problems with this account. First, we have just seen, it assumes laws and fields with no explanation as to where othey came from. Secondly, when physicists say “nothing,” they don’t mean real actual nothing, absence of anything, they really mean vacuum flux; that is the pre existing framework of law and field and the arrangement of these things and the sporadic popping in-and-out of prior existing particles. As Albert says, “Relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical vacuum states — no less than giraffes or refrigerators or solar systems — are particular arrangements of elementary physical stuff..” [10] “Nothing” in terms of no particles does not mean “nothing” in terms of no fields, or no laws. Thus “nothing” doesn’t mean “nothing,” it means something for which we still must account.


The particles doing the popping are “virtual particles,” meaning they are made up of combinations of other particles that come together for a short time then break apart again. “Virtual particles are indeed real particles. Quantum theory predicts that every particle spends some time as a combination of other particles in all possible ways. These predictions are very well understood and tested.”[11]

Quantum mechanics allows, and indeed requires, temporary violations of conservation of energy, so one particle can become a pair of heavier particles (the so-called virtual particles), which quickly rejoin into the original particle as if they had never been there. If that were all that occurred we would still be confident that it was a real effect because it is an intrinsic part of quantum mechanics, which is extremely well tested, and is a complete and tightly woven theory--if any part of it were wrong the whole structure would collapse.

But while the virtual particles are briefly part of our world they can interact with other particles, and that leads to a number of tests of the quantum-mechanical predictions about virtual particles.[12]
Thus it's only said that they are coming from nothing because there's a new combination of particles that only exists for a short time. Yet they are actually coming from other particles. Quantum theory is not the best explanation for the age old question, why are we here where did it all come from? God not only provides an ultimate sources but is also a more elegant solution because one simple idea furnishes both the explanation of origins and also ties up morality and everything else into one neat solution.




Sources



1 CTC op. Cit.

 2 Edgar Andres, “Review: the Grand Design,” Challies'.com, Tim Challies, on line reouce, URL:


http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/the-grand-design acessed 10/4/15


Andres is Emeritus professor University of London. Physicist and an expert on large molecules. Born 1932,


3 Lawrence M. Krauss, A Universe from Nothing: Why There is something Rather Than Nothing. New York, NY: Free press, a division of Simon and Schuster, 2012.

 4 Ibid 189.

 5 David Albert, “On the Origin of Everything ‘a Universe form Nothing’ by Lawrence Krauss,” New York Times Sunday Book Review (March 23, 2012). On line version URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books ... rauss.html visited June 20, 2012. David Albert also has a Ph.D. in theoretical phsyics.


Albert is Frederick E. Woodbridge Professor of Philosophy at Columbia, and runs a MA program in philosophy and physics.

 6 ibid.

 7 ibid

 8 ibid

 9 ibid

 10 ibid

11 Gordon Kane, “Are Virtual Particles Really Constantly Popping In and Out of existence? Or Are They Merely a Mathematical Bookkeeping Device For Quantum Mechanics?” Scientific American, (Oct. 9, 2006) on line version URL: http://www.scientific american.com/article/are-virtual-particles-rea/ accessed 10/12/15


Kane is director of the Michigan center for theoretical physics at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

12 Ibid.
 


21 comments:

Eric Sotnak said...

Hi, Joe,

Although I am in agreement with the criticism you offered in another of your posts regarding the facile dismissal of philosophy by some scientists such as Lawrence Krauss (and especially with your critique of the overenthusiastic affection for Popper), I want to offer up at least a partial defense of his project in “A Universe from Nothing”.

So here's a really brief rough sketch of the model proposed: Once upon a time there was a quantum vacuum state (QVS). A QVS is a condition in which spontaneous events can happen without precipitating causes. Also, a QVS isn't a thing; it's essentially nothing. So, within a QVS, something can come from nothing. It is consistent with the current state of physical theory that the universe began in such an event.

This is a story that could be true in its general outlines. This is enough to counter the charge that only theism can provide an answer to the question of where the universe came from. The case is closely analogous to that of abiogenesis – at present, the evidence favoring purely naturalistic models isn't enough to be able to say “here's how it happened”, but there are enough at least speculative and partial models that have been proposed to reject “God did it” as a necessary conclusion.

Now some people may complain that a QVS isn't really nothing. They will insist that in order to qualify as “nothing” you have to have absolute nothingness. So a QVS is really something after all.

This objection misses the point. Descartes and Spinoza argued against the possibility of empty space on the grounds that it would have to be an extended nothingness, but since nothingness must be devoid of properties, extension couldn't be one of them (furthermore, extension was thought to be THE defining attribute of matter, from which it follows that all of space must be material). The choice between an extended plenum of extended matter and no space at all was a false one. Space just isn't what Descartes and Spinoza thought it absolutely had to be. This is really the same problem with trying to criticize Krauss for having the “wrong” concept of “nothing”. The presumption is that in the beginning there had to have been either an absolute nothing, or a robust something. If the former, then the charge is that an absolute nothing can't give rise to a something, because the property of causal generation must of necessity belong only to a something. If the latter, then the question will simply be re-asked what explains this something in the first place. Krauss's model proposes a redefinition of “nothing” in the same kind of way that physics post-General relativity found it necessary to redefine “space”. The current model of space is not Cartesian, Newtonian, or Leibnizian (nor even Kantian) – it is something different from what any earlier thinkers thought were the only possibilities.

So complaining that Krauss hasn't sufficiently answered the question of how a universe could come from nothing is really complaining that Krauss is not playing fair because he is redefining the terms of the game. But what if the terms of the game weren't the right ones to begin with? Space and matter are radically different from how earlier thinkers believed they absolutely had to be conceived. The suggestion that metaphysics doesn't have to pay any attention to this, but can happily churn along as a pure a priori science of Being and Nothingness, drawing confident conclusions about what the limitations of cosmology MUST be is intellectually irresponsible. At the very least, metaphysics has to take seriously the possibility that it needs to jettison or modify some of its traditional ontological concepts in light of scientific progress.

Joe Hinman said...

Descartes and Spinoza were wrong. That why nature abhors a vacuum. Newton and Boyle won with vaccuism.

God is still the best explanation because none of that explains how things can pop up out of nothing when we don't see them do it any other time. We have no examples of something from nothing. Even M particles come from other particles not from real nothing, you did not disprove that. all you really said was you can ignore it but that only means you are ignoring every single thing we see around us all the time because all of it has a cause.

Joe Hinman said...

The choice between an extended plenum of extended matter and no space at all was a false one. Space just isn't what Descartes and Spinoza thought it absolutely had to be. This is really the same problem with trying to criticize Krauss for having the “wrong” concept of “nothing”.

No it's not. The issue is not that he doesn't understand nothing it's that it's not nothing, there are particles so he's just moved the problem on to another doorstep but it's still there, where did those particles come from? btw David Albert has a Ph.D. in Physics it's his argument I'm making. (as an aside my Best friend studied with Albert at NYU).



The presumption is that in the beginning there had to have been either an absolute nothing, or a robust something. If the former, then the charge is that an absolute nothing can't give rise to a something, because the property of causal generation must of necessity belong only to a something.

that's right



If the latter,


not the latter it's the former

then the question will simply be re-asked what explains this something in the first place. Krauss's model proposes a redefinition of “nothing” in the same kind of way that physics post-General relativity found it necessary to redefine “space”. The current model of space is not Cartesian, Newtonian, or Leibnizian (nor even Kantian) – it is something different from what any earlier thinkers thought were the only possibilities.

the re definition of nothing merely overlooks facts he would rather not face because they imply the necessity of God. re=defining it to get away from God means he's just hiding the problem.

Eric Sotnak said...

1. “God is still the best explanation because none of that explains how things can pop up out of nothing when we don't see them do it any other time.”
I disagree, since appealing to God doesn't really explain anything. God made the universe out of nothing? How did he do it. Give details. All any theist can say here is, “He did it by his omnipotence” which really just says “God caused the universe by using his power to do anything to cause it” which explains nothing.

2. Let me retell my mega-brief, quasi-Kraussian, story of the universe: Once upon a time there was an eternal quantum vacuum state within which events occur spontaneously because the QVS is inherently unstable. One of these events resulted in the universe. The end.
You complained that the QVS isn't nothing (actually, you talked about particles, but the QVS isn't a particle – particles arise out of it
Actually, though, it isn't clear that the term “eternal” really applies to the QVS, because the concept of temporality that we are familiar with in our experience depends on thermodynamic entropy, which is something we only find after the Big Bang. We have no intuitive way to think about how events could meaningfully be labelled as “before, after, and simultaneous” in the absence of entropic processes. For that matter, almost everyone has trouble accepting that time doesn't even work the way we think it does given Special Relativity.
But back to “nothing” : The QVS isn't really a “thing” in the sense of having determinate boundaries and properties – it is inherently unstable, and so it isn't really a thing. It is no thing; no-thing; nothing. If you want to say that it isn't “nothing” in your preferred sense, then ok. Krauss could always grant the point and invent some alternate technical term. Suppose we stipulate that a condition where there was neither matter nor energy shall be called “nome”. So now our story goes, “Once upon a time there was a QVS and it was nome, but because of quantum spontaneity, suddenly there was energy, and hey, it turns out that matter and energy are really the same thing. But it gets better because if you balance out matter vs antimatter, and energy vs gravity and all that other cool stuff, you know what number you get? Zero. So really the whole universe isn't a case of something coming from nothing – instead it is really just a different way for the QVS to show off its inherent instability.”
Now this cartoon story might be massively wrong – that's a matter for empirical science to determine. But you can't rule out something like it on a priori grounds.

3. Descartes and Spinoza were wrong about space. Yup. That's the point. But both were working from conceptual frameworks on which they both thought it was conceptually impossible for them to be wrong. Similarly, consider Leibniz's claim that the concept of an upper limit on velocity was impossible, because it's just obvious that given any finite velocity v, it is possible to accelerate to v+1. Leibniz was wrong, too. He was also wrong in arguing against the possibility of physical atoms on the grounds that matter is always necessarily (by virtue of its very concept) spatially divisible. He could never in his wildest imaginings have considered the concept of the Planck length. So if empirical science can motivate revision of the concepts of space, time, speed, and length, why not also “nothing”?

Joe Hinman said...

Sotnak said...
1. “God is still the best explanation because none of that explains how things can pop up out of nothing when we don't see them do it any other time.”
I disagree, since appealing to God doesn't really explain anything. God made the universe out of nothing? How did he do it. Give details. All any theist can say here is, “He did it by his omnipotence” which really just says “God caused the universe by using his power to do anything to cause it” which explains nothing.


Reality is a mental construct held together by god. I would say "in the mind of God{" but as far as I can see God is mind.so that would be redundant the answer to how is "by thinking about it." The details of God are beyond our understanding, I don't think we have to know that to find God a valid answer. After all we know so little about laws of physics or even naturalistic universe we don't what particles are made of.

Joe Hinman said...


2. Let me retell my mega-brief, quasi-Kraussian, story of the universe: Once upon a time there was an eternal quantum vacuum state within which events occur spontaneously because the QVS is inherently unstable. One of these events resulted in the universe. The end.

where did it come from? that's just kicking the can further down the road.


You complained that the QVS isn't nothing (actually, you talked about particles, but the QVS isn't a particle – particles arise out of it
Actually, though, it isn't clear that the term “eternal” really applies to the QVS, because the concept of temporality that we are familiar with in our experience depends on thermodynamic entropy, which is something we only find after the Big Bang. We have no intuitive way to think about how events could meaningfully be labelled as “before, after, and simultaneous” in the absence of entropic processes. For that matter, almost everyone has trouble accepting that time doesn't even work the way we think it does given Special Relativity.

all smoke screen you have not answered the central issue, where things came from. My answer says "mind" your answer posits eternal contingencies with no necessity to pin them on. Eternal is this sense means timelesss.


But back to “nothing” : The QVS isn't really a “thing” in the sense of having determinate boundaries and properties – it is inherently unstable, and so it isn't really a thing. It is no thing; no-thing; nothing. If you want to say that it isn't “nothing” in your preferred sense, then ok. Krauss could always grant the point and invent some alternate technical term. Suppose we stipulate that a condition where there was neither matter nor energy shall be called “nome”. So now our story goes, “Once upon a time there was a QVS and it was nome, but because of quantum spontaneity, suddenly there was energy, and hey, it turns out that matter and energy are really the same thing. But it gets better because if you balance out matter vs antimatter, and energy vs gravity and all that other cool stuff, you know what number you get? Zero. So really the whole universe isn't a case of something coming from nothing – instead it is really just a different way for the QVS to show off its inherent instability.”
Now this cartoon story might be massively wrong – that's a matter for empirical science to determine. But you can't rule out something like it on a priori grounds.

3. Descartes and Spinoza were wrong about space. Yup. That's the point. But both were working from conceptual frameworks on which they both thought it was conceptually impossible for them to be wrong. Similarly, consider Leibniz's claim that the concept of an upper limit on velocity was impossible, because it's just obvious that given any finite velocity v, it is possible to accelerate to v+1. Leibniz was wrong, too. He was also wrong in arguing against the possibility of physical atoms on the grounds that matter is always necessarily (by virtue of its very concept) spatially divisible. He could never in his wildest imaginings have considered the concept of the Planck length. So if empirical science can motivate revision of the concepts of space, time, speed, and length, why not also “nothing”?

all smoke screen you have just diverted the readers attention from the major issue again. where do things come from?

Joe Hinman said...

your explanation requi9res contingencies with no necessities to explain them and things coming into existence with no prior conditions to explain them.

Eric Sotnak said...

How can a mind produce something that is not a mind? And out of nothing, no less? That's not an explanation. At least the QVS account is consistent with quantum physics, while the same can't be said of immaterial superminds.

Where do things come from?: As I said, for all anyone knows the QVS is eternal. Another possibility (though merely logical) is captured by this even briefer story: "Once upon a time there was absolutely nothing. Then, suddenly and for no reason at all, there was something. The end." Yes, yes, I know the normal reaction is to snort contemptuously at such a story, but as I said, it isn't logically impossible. But of course it also isn't an explanation - just like the theistic story.

Also, from any necessary truth, whatever follows must also be a necessary truth. Therefore it makes no sense to posit necessities as explanations for contingencies.

Joe Hinman said...

How can a mind produce something that is not a mind? And out of nothing, no less? That's not an explanation. At least the QVS account is consistent with quantum physics, while the same can't be said of immaterial superminds.

My mind does that all the time. It produces something I call "thought" and it may well be from no prior physical material. It may not be a complete explanation but it is a better than you can give for vacuum flux.

Where do things come from?: As I said, for all anyone knows the QVS is eternal.

I consider illogical ideas to be impossible like square circles. So ICR is impossible. Just hinting at vague possibilities is not an answer


Another possibility (though merely logical) is captured by this even briefer story: "Once upon a time there was absolutely nothing. Then, suddenly and for no reason at all, there was something. The end." Yes, yes, I know the normal reaction is to snort contemptuously at such a story, but as I said, it isn't logically impossible. But of course it also isn't an explanation - just like the theistic story.

that's totally different than asserting eternal necessary being. The latter is logically possible the former is a contradiction in terms (something from nothing). All you are really arguing at this point is "cover up the issue,"

Also, from any necessary truth, whatever follows must also be a necessary truth. Therefore it makes no sense to posit necessities as explanations for contingencies.


that is ludicrous. Contingent means dependent upon something that is necessary for the thing continent. that's the point of the term. atheists have lost, the basic position is demonstrably wrong you just can't face it.

Eric Sotnak said...

1. The QVS is a component of current models of physics that have extraordinarily good empirical confirmation, and it is fully consistent with this model that the QVS is inherently unstable and therefore can spontaneously produce effects (such as virtual particles).

So I would contest your claim that you have offered a better explanation for the production of material reality by appealing to a mind than by appealing to a QVS. (You are right, though, that I should not have asked how a mind can produce something that is not a mind, since "something" is too vague a descriptor - a better question would be to ask how an immaterial mind can produce a material thing out of nothing)

2. An ICR is not a logical impossibility.

3. You suggest that "Just hinting at vague possibilities is not an answer." Yet your suggestion that God explains the existence of the universe is exactly such a suggestion, since you can't give any content to the manner by which this happens.

The reality is that given our present state of knowledge, no one can say with confidence how the universe came about. Krauss actually doesn't say "here is how the universe came into being from nothing" rather, he offers a story that is so far consistent with the current state of the art in physics. Very roughly his argument is that we are getting to the point where we can offer explanatory models of the universe's origins that both fully naturalistic and consistent with current scientific models. Since these models have significant empirical confirmation in other areas, they are therefore rationally preferable to theistic models of creation, which are purely speculative and are lacking in empirical confirmation.

4. I'm not sure what it is that you are referring to as "ludicrous". You seem to be erroneously assuming that "contingent" always and only can be used in its relational sense. There is also a perfectly legitimate use of "contingent" defined as follows: For propositions: P is contingent if and only if P is true and it is not logically necessary that P is true. For things (I offer this even though not all philosophers accept the legitimacy of applying modal modifiers to things, as I have pointed out to you in a previous discussion): T is contingent if and only if T exists and it is not logically necessary that T exists.

I was pointing out the problem of holding that a contingent truth is explained by a necessary truth. Suppose C is contingently true. This means that it is possible that C might not have been true. Now suppose that N is a necessary truth and that N implies C. Since N implies C and N is a necessary truth, we have two possibilities. The first is that while N implies C, it does so only contingently. That is, it is not logically necessary that N implies C. If you are going to insist that every contingent truth must ultimately depend on some necessary truth, then what you have is a case where you now have to ground (N -> C) in some further necessary truth, N*. But then you have to ask whether N* necessarily implies N's implying C or whether N* only contingently implies N's implying C, and we end up with an infinite regress of contingent truths, which is inconsistent with the initial claim that every necessary truth must ultimately be grounded in a necessary truth.

But the second possibility is that "N implies C" is, itself, logically necessary. Here, though, it is logically impossible for C to be contingent at all. If N is logically necessary, and ( -> C) is also logically necessary, then C is logically necessary, and there can't be any logically contingent truths at all.

Eric Sotnak said...

Correction: in point 4, the last sentence should have read "If N is logically necessary, and (N -> C) is also logically necessary, then C is logically necessary, and there can't be any logically contingent truths at all."

Joe Hinman said...

Eric Sotnak said...
1. The QVS is a component of current models of physics that have extraordinarily good empirical confirmation, and it is fully consistent with this model that the QVS is inherently unstable and therefore can spontaneously produce effects (such as virtual particles).

So I would contest your claim that you have offered a better explanation for the production of material reality by appealing to a mind than by appealing to a QVS. (You are right, though, that I should not have asked how a mind can produce something that is not a mind, since "something" is too vague a descriptor - a better question would be to ask how an immaterial mind can produce a material thing out of nothing)

It depends upon what kind of explanation one is seeking. God as an explanation may leave a lot of blanks unfilled but it's more satisfying in a couple of ways: in that it's final, where as a naturalistic particle will leave us wondering where the string of endless particles comes from Secondly, it allows a broader understanding. Because it accounts for everything we know from modality to meaning.




2. An ICR is not a logical impossibility.

yes it is

Joe Hinman said...

3. You suggest that "Just hinting at vague possibilities is not an answer." Yet your suggestion that God explains the existence of the universe is exactly such a suggestion, since you can't give any content to the manner by which this happens.

Again it depends upon what kind of answer for which you seek. In terms of practice details such as what is God made and how does he work we are in the dark. For metaphysical and ontological kinds of answers we are not in the dark

The reality is that given our present state of knowledge, no one can say with confidence how the universe came about. Krauss actually doesn't say "here is how the universe came into being from nothing"

I wrote a piece that offers an answer in defending a argument. The CA. To answer why God is the best explanation we have to go back to a point before we make the God argument and ask why are we making arguments at all? I've often observed that atheists and Christians have very different ideas about why they believe or, in the atheist's case, ideas about why believers believe.

Atheists and believer want very different things out of their data. It may not seem like a good explanation to you but to me it is because scratches where I itch. We can't answer the pragmatic step by step "how" questions about origin.
But god gives us the answer to the "why" sort of questions.

Joe Hinman said...

I'm not sure what it is that you are referring to as "ludicrous". You seem to be erroneously assuming that "contingent" always and only can be used in its relational sense. There is also a perfectly legitimate use of "contingent" defined as follows: For propositions: P is contingent if and only if P is true and it is not logically necessary that P is true. For things (I offer this even though not all philosophers accept the legitimacy of applying modal modifiers to things, as I have pointed out to you in a previous discussion): T is contingent if and only if T exists and it is not logically necessary that T exists.


The CA that I defend essentially deals with N/c almost totally in terms of cause and effect. There is more to those concepts than that but they stack up in my arguments that is mostly unimportant.

Eric Sotnak said...

Regarding the alleged impossibility of infinite temporal/causal regress, the following statement is neither explicitly nor implicitly contradictory, and so not logically impossible:

There exists a series S of events such that every member of S was causally produced by a temporally prior member.

Eric Sotnak said...

“God as an explanation may leave a lot of blanks unfilled but it's more satisfying in a couple of ways: in that it's final, where as a naturalistic particle will leave us wondering where the string of endless particles comes from Secondly, it allows a broader understanding. Because it accounts for everything we know from modality to meaning.”

I question whether it is really more satisfying and whether it really accounts for as much as you suggest. Consider the problem that Leibniz struggled so desperately with: Why did God create the world as he did rather than otherwise or not at all? Unlike Spinoza, whose answer was that all is necessarily as it is, Leibniz wanted to maintain that God could have created things differently. But Leibniz was also committed to the Principle of Sufficient Reason, so it wouldn't do to say, “well, God just plain made things this way – no reason for it.” So, if you want to side with Leibniz in rejecting unexplained first explainers (which is what I suggest the QVS would be), then it seems to me you also share this problem. You seem happy enough to say that God's existence is explained by his being a necessary being. What, then, of God's actions? Do you side with Spinoza and say they are necessary, and thus all is necessary? Or do you say they are contingent, in which case we must now ask what explains them (since you have stated that you think anything that is contingent must be so in the relational sense).

Joe Hinman said...

You seem happy enough to say that God's existence is explained by his being a necessary being. What, then, of God's actions? Do you side with Spinoza and say they are necessary, and thus all is necessary? Or do you say they are contingent, in which case we must now ask what explains them (since you have stated that you think anything that is contingent must be so in the relational sense).

You gave me an idea for a great blog post for next week. In the meantime, even though i find your thinking interesting i don't see how this proves that's metaphysical answer is less satisfying than a physical one, For one thing the question of origins is a metaphysical question.


This is only a tentative answer. I'll think about it more in writing the piece for next week. My tendency is to think this is not the best of all possible worlds but that the reason for hat is man's will. Introduction of free will is crucial to allow \for a moral universe. So the state of affairs is necessary given the goal of a moral universe.

btw God is not a being but being itself.

Joe Hinman said...

Another thing Eric, in answering the issue with a metaphysical dilemma as you did you are tacitly accepting my premise that we need an answer more nuanced that just a Physical account of how the universe came to be. Think about it, you are giving a metaphysical answer.

Eric Sotnak said...

"Another thing Eric, in answering the issue with a metaphysical dilemma as you did you are tacitly accepting my premise that we need an answer more nuanced that just a Physical account of how the universe came to be. Think about it, you are giving a metaphysical answer."

Heh. That's probably because, try as I might, I have always loved Leibniz and so have heard the siren-song of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. But I also know the ruin it leads to, so I lash myself to the wheel of pragmatic empiricism and accept that some things may just have to stand as brute facts. On the view I lean toward, PSR is itself a pragmatic principle, justified by its inductive fruits, and belongs in the "don't give ip up unless you absolutely have to" category.

I'll look forward to your forthcoming post.

Joe Hinman said...

Yeah PSR! I've always been pro PSR

Joe Hinman said...

see my blog piece Best of All Possible Worlds?