Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday atheist challenge: God Argument Laws of Nature and phsyics

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



I put this up on the blog a couple of months ago. Never got around to doing it for a fun filled Friday atheist challenge, which this is. It's an update of my old Doxa argument "fire in the equations."




If you recall last time I posted a prolegomena to an argument from laws of nature. In other words, an argument for existence of God based upon laws of physics and nature. That article was just thinking getting ready to make such an argument, Here I am making it. I encourage the reader to go back and read the article fist if you haven't already. The point is two fold:  the folks on Secular Outpost were so dubious of any such argument  and the presentation that set them off so deserved their ire (designed by Campus Crusade for Christ[1], that I felt like I had to try to (a) prove to the atheists there is a potential argument there and show my fellow Christians how to find it, at to offer  direction in which to move.

The bad argument on the website was purely a "god of the gaps" argument:

How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?"The greatest scientists have been struck by how strange this is. There is no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone one that abides by the rules of mathematics. This astonishment springs from the recognition that the universe doesn't have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a universe in which conditions change unpredictably from instant to instant, or even a universe in which things pop in and out of existence."[2]
The only rational upon which the argument turns is the mystery concerning how laws work. That is a god of the gaps argument by definition, textbook. My arguments begins by stating a rational that, while it may hard to prove, is at least not a gap in knowledge, at least not only a gap. The problem with gaps is that they close up. Yet if we can demonstrate that mind is a more solid basis for the seeming law-like regularity of the universe that night make for a better explanation.[3] The argument:

1) mind is the most efficient and dependable source of ordering we know,

(2) Random ordering is usually inefficient and the odds are against it's dependability. 

(3) The Universe Displays a Law-like efficiency and dependability in the workings of it's natural machinations. 

(4) Such efficiency and dependability is indicative of mind as ordering principle (from 1,3), therefore, it is logical to assume mind as the best explanation for the dependability of the universe..

(5) A mind that orders the universe fits the major job description for God, Thus mind is the best explanation, assuming the choices are mind vs random chance.


Notice I said nothing about law implying a law giver. The rational for mind is not based upon analogies to law. This does raise the one real sticking point, premises 1-2. Can we prove that mind is the best explanation for law-like regularity? I'm going to assume that it's pretty obvious that (P3) universe displays like-like efficiency. Also I don't think it will be such a struggle to prove 4-5 linking a mind that orders the universe with God. Therefore I wont bother to argue those here. Thus I will concern myself primarily with P's 1-2.

Certain schools of philosophy hold that an inference to the best explanation is a valid argument. That is if one amid a variety of explanations has a more significant likelihood of coming true, and is more in line with prevailing theory and serves to explain more of the data then that hypothesis can be warranted as "the best explanation,"[4Ratzsch goes on to quote Peter Lipton: "According to Inference to the Best Explanation … [g]iven our data and our background beliefs, we infer what would if true, provide the best of the competing explanations we can generate of those data (so long as the best is good enough for us to make any inference at all)."[5]

That complexity and efficacy are indicative of mind as an organizing principle might be hard or impossible to pull off but it makes sense on one level. Through complexity and fitedness one might deduce purpose or telos, and mind might be indicted in that sense.
All the richness and diversity of matter and energy we observe today has emerged since the beginning in a long and complicated sequence of self- organizing physical processes. The laws of physics not only permit a universe to originate spontaneously, but they encourage it to organize and complexify itself to the point where conscious beings emerge who can look back on the great cosmic drama and reflect on what it all means."

...The laws that characterize our actual universe, as opposed to an infinite number of alternative possible universes, seem almost contrived-fine-tuned, some commentators have claimed-so that life and consciousness may emerge. To quote Dyson again: it is almost as if "the universe knew we were coming." I cannot prove to you that this is design, but whatever it is it is certainly very clever][6]
Now the secularist skeptic might argue evolution demonstrates an organizing principle producing great complexity and in mindless fashion, While that might be the case the problem is evolution is surely the product of the law-like regularity and not it's cause. Presumably then we need laws to make evolutionary processes work and so we have not explained anything. even so the skeptic can always fall back on the fact that we don't have a world that we know is or is not designed by a mind to which we compare our own world. Even though P1 might make sense there is no way to prove it. Not having an undesigned universe to compare may mean that we can't prove the existence of God by the argument here advanced, It does not necessarily mean the argument is not a good one. If we forget about proof and talk about warrant: it may not be proof but it is probably the best explanation and that may warrant belief.
 In arguments of this type, superior explanatory virtues of a theory are taken as constituting decisive epistemic support for theory acceptability, warranted belief of the theory, and likely truth of the theory. There are, of course, multitudes of purported explanatory, epistemic virtues, including the incomplete list a couple paragraphs back (and lists of such have evolved over time). Assessing hypotheses in terms of such virtues is frequently contentious, depending, as it does, on perceptions of ill-defined characteristics, differences in background conceptual stances, and the like. Still, in general we frequently manage rough and ready resolutions...[7]

The argument does turn on the premise of a design argument but it could be considered more than that. Hawking ascribes the origin of the universe to the laws of physics, particularly gravity He certainly seems to indicate that they are more than just descriptions of what happens. Yet he makes no attempt to explain where these laws come from. In the sense mind offers a more complete explanation it could be the "best."

Stephen Hawking wrote a book, The Grand Design. in which he argued that gravity accounts for the existence of everything else:

If the total energy of the universe must always remain zero, and it costs energy to create a body, how can a whole universe be created from nothing? That is why there must be a law like gravity. Because gravity is attractive, gravitational energy is negative….Bodies such as stars or black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can….Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing in the manner described in Chapter 6. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.[8]

Edger Anders discusses the problem with this approach:
So gravity is God. Unfortunately the authors have no time to tell us who created gravity (earlier they rule out God because no one could explain who created him). Nor can they tell us why matter and gravity should pop out of nothing, except to argue that ‘nothing’ undergoes quantum fluctuations. However, this requires that (like gravity) the laws of quantum mechanics pre-existed the universe and that ‘nothing’ possesses the properties of normal space, which is part of the created order and cannot be its antecedent.[9]

Were I involved in a debate ageist a seasoned great thinker or some professional philosopher this is not the argument I  would use. I think it is a valid warrant for belief, the best explanation for law-like regularity.


Sources


[1] Bradly Bowen, Adamson's Cru [de] Arguments for God part 1, Secular Outpost, (April 25, 2016) blog URL:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2016/04/25/adamsons-crude-arguments-for-god-part-1/
accessed April 28, 2016

[2] Marlyn Adamson, "Is There a God," Every Student, Published by Campus Crusade for Christ
On line resource, URL: http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html
She sites fn 11:Dinesh D'Souza, What's So Great about Christianity; (Regnery Publishing, Inc, 2007, chapter 

[3] I recently posted on criteria by which to judge best explanation.

[4] Ratzsch, Del and Koperski, Jeffrey, "Teleological Arguments for God's Existence", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .<http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2016/entries/teleological-arguments/>. 

[5] Peter Lipton, Inference to the Best Explanation. 1st Edition. London: Routledge (1991, 58): quoted in Ratzsch, Ibid. 

[6] ."Paul Davies, "Physics and the Mind o God; Templeton Award Address, First Things ON LINE URL
http://www.firstthings.com/article/1995/08/003-physics-and-the-mind-of-god-the-templeton-prize-address-24 accessed 1/1/16

Paul Davies is Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Adelaide in Australia and the twenty-fifth recipient of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, which he received on May 3, 1995 at Westminster Abbey. His books include The Mind of God, God and New Physics, The Cosmic Blueprint, Superforce, and Other Worlds.



[7] Ratzsch, Ibid.

[8] Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, New York: Bantum Books, 2010. 180

[9] 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

21 comments:

Joe Hinman said...

please remember that all of my God arguments are based upon not proving God's existence but upon warrant for belief, This is a justification argument belief is rational and warranted. This argument could be made on an abductive bass, as the best explanation.

Mike Gerow said...

Now the secularist skeptic might argue evolution demonstrates an organizing principle producing great complexity and in mindless fashion, While that might be the case the problem is evolution is surely the product of the law-like regularity and not it's cause. Presumably then we need laws to make evolutionary processes work and so we have not explained anything. even so the skeptic can always fall back on the fact that we don't have a world that we know is or is not designed by a mind to which we compare our own world

Meillasoux's challenge, of course, is why you assume any 'eternal' regularity based on only 1.4 ^10 or so years of measurements--at the most? Then, why isn't M's concept of "surcontingency"--a type of chaos that's so chaotic it might even stay the same indefinitely--a better bet? As the principle of Induction has no rational, non-question-begging ground, where does that leave you, in regards to attempting to prove some externality based only on any finite--and so statement statisticallt insignificant--sample?

You're right in that I also can't see why certain kinds of 'Enlightenment-oriented' atheists feel they're able to make some of the assumptions they make. But there's, for me, also a 18th/19th century flavour to your arg here too, upon which a lot of more recent 20th/21rst century science and thought seems to cast some pretty long shadows?

WDYT?

Mike Gerow said...

um, that should 'eternality' just above, not externality. Stupid spellchecker....

Joe Hinman said...

It is not based upon empirical observation so the lenght of time observing has nothing to do with it. ICR is illogical for many reasons. That means it had to either pop into existence or be eternal. Since we don't observe anything just popping into existence there is no reason to assume it could. ok that depends upon our empirical observation but it's 100%. There are also background radiation arguments that back it up.

Eric Sotnak said...

Since we don't observe anything just popping into existence there is no reason to assume it could.
We also don't observe anything coming into existence by divine fiat, so by this reasoning, there is no reason to assume that can happen, either.

Joe Hinman said...

We also don't observe anything coming into existence by divine fiat, so by this reasoning, there is no reason to assume that can happen, either.

we do observe the result of one or the other, I have more reasont othink it's the latter than the former, That's a warranted conclusion.

Mike Gerow said...

ICR is illogical for many reasons. That means it had to either pop into existence or be eternal.

Well, if all there really is is some form of chaos, many people have no trouble assuming it has existed eternally--"just stuff spinning around"--and Meillasoux would assert that that's the only eternal, necessary thing, the "hyperchaos." So why are you projecting an existing, eternal regularity from a merely finite sample of repeatable effects? There are other (arguable) cases of something "popping out from nothing" too, evolutionistically, not just the Big Bang, but also the emergences of consciousness and then of rationality.

Why wouldn't even the laws of regularity themselves just be contingent too? Wouldn't that better satisfy Ockham?

Joe Hinman said...

Mike read my peiceof a couple of daysago the tie breaker I think your chaos is just a bF and My tie breaker gives us more.

Joe Hinman said...

another problem with chaos thing it's falsifiable. If we accented it we an discord sciece and philosophy.

Ryan M said...

"we do observe the result of one or the other, I have more reasont othink it's the latter than the former, That's a warranted conclusion".

Hold on, you're claiming we observe the result of either everything coming into existence from nothing or coming into existence by an eternal divine being. That is a false dichotomy though.

Option 1 - the world popped into existence without an efficient cause.
OPtion 2 - the world came into existence with an atheistic, eternal efficient cause.
Option 3 - the world came into existence with a theistic, eternal efficient cause.

There are far more options than just 1 through 3, but since there are more than 2 then we have a false dichotomy in your presentation.

Again, by following your reasoning we can create the following parallel reasoning:

Principle - if we have no experience of P then we are justified in believing ~P.

1. We have no experience of any being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause. (Premise)
2. There is no being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause. (From 1 and the principle Joe uses)
3. If theism is true and the universe exists then there is a being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause. (Premise)
4. It is not the case that theism is true (Conclusion)

It should be obvious how the conclusion is derived. Our experience seems to confirm premise 1, so by Joe's principle we are justified in believing 2. Since 3 is true, and the universe exists, then we are warranted (As Joe likes to say) in believing the conclusion that theism is false.

Ex-apologist has an argument which makes use of parallel reasoning that I believe clearly undercuts Joe's arguments:

http://exapologist.blogspot.ca/2014/12/theism-and-material-causality.html

Mike Gerow said...

Ryan, doesn't that syllogism of yours just set up Joe's 'mystical experience' arguments? -- ie "a non-material being that IS an effective cause?" ;-)

Mike Gerow said...

Mike read my piece of a couple of days ago, the tie breaker: I think your chaos is just a BF and My tie breaker gives us more.

Well it might not be a "fact", but be more like a "brute potential" or along the lines of Deleuze's "irrational becoming?" Are those kind of entities "facts" or "things that exist" any more than (a Tillichian) "God" is ... um, or perhaps "isn't"? ;-)

I'm also still wondering if you could align these ideas with the "primordial chaos" of any process theist, or are you now committed to a "creation ex nihilo?"

Ryan M said...

No the argument does the opposite. Theists accept that there must be at least one efficient cause that is not a material cause. i.e. God creating the universe ex nihilo. If the above argument is sound then we can conclude that everything that beings to exist has an efficient material cause so theism would be false. This seems like a parallel argument to Joe's with respect to contingency and natural beings.

Joe Hinman said...

Principle - if we have no experience of P then we are justified in believing ~P.

that is not my principle. My principle is all we observe is P therefore we should assume P unless empirically contradicted.

1. We have no experience of any being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause. (Premise)
2. There is no being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause. (From 1 and the principle Joe uses)
3. If theism is true and the universe exists then there is a being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause. (Premise)
4. It is not the case that theism is true (Conclusion)

It should be obvious how the conclusion is derived. Our experience seems to confirm premise 1, so by Joe's principle we are justified in believing 2. Since 3 is true, and the universe exists, then we are warranted (As Joe likes to say) in believing the conclusion that theism is false.

Ex-apologist has an argument which makes use of parallel reasoning that I believe clearly undercuts Joe's arguments:

you keep re wording my arguments

Joe Hinman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Hinman said...

1. We have no experience of any being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause. (Premise)
we should not expect to see it because we didn't exist at the time, he's through doing oit


2. There is no being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause. (From 1 and the principle Joe uses)


that doesn't follow

3. If theism is true and the universe exists then there is a being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause. (Premise)
4. It is not the case that theism is true (Conclusion)

you take something contradicted by 100% of our experience and make it into trith mnereltu because you can string some sentences together,

Joe Hinman said...

here

Joe Hinman said...

I guess makes me look stupid because I do not understand arguments like this.

The argument I’ll defend can be expressed as follows:
1. All concrete objects that have an originating or sustaining cause have a material cause of their existence.
2. If classical theismcvc is true, then the universe is a concrete object that has an originating or sustaining cause without a material cause of its existence.
3. Therefore, classical theismcvc is false.

all this proves is that if hie';s right hie's right,Ifs', right about God p1 is wrong, whist reason do I have blee e taht p1 is right?: i can't see omne,

at best he's begging the question''another thing thiswill be more apparent on Wednesday, he defines classical theism's view of God as "a beoimg" meaning he;'s not eve n aware ov clasical Christian belief

Joe Hinman said...

I will write a blog piece against that guy's argumemt but I',m booked up for a couple of weeks However the new argument I'm introducing should be relevant.

Joe Hinman said...

no one is talking about my argument no one has mentioned the premises of it., that ex apologist argument has huge flaws. Not the least of which is he can't anything my argument is talking about, he doesn't deal with laws just introduces magic formula the PMC that's taken care of all but he has no proof it exists, he;s only asserting thiat it must because we don't a picture of God at work.

that's a real problem because he onlyi goes as far as atoms but sub atomic particles make up atoms we don't know what they are.l we can't say they are material there's a rel question about that, most of that argument turns upon ideological answers that prescribe how it;'supposed to be,

Ryan M said...

that is not my principle. My principle is all we observe is P therefore we should assume P unless empirically contradicted.

That is the same thing as my principle. You're saying that if we only observe P then we are justified in believing P. I worded it to say "If we never observe P then we are justified in believing ~P". That's the same thing, so you do believe in my principle. Perhaps my use of negation made it look like a different principle.

Now the argument I posted wasn't a re-wording of yours. That was my parallel argument responding to your argument.

that doesn't follow

Of course it follows. It follows logically and in the less strict sense of warrant as you might say.

Remember the principle is this:

Justification principle - for any P, if we have not observed P then we are justified in concluding ~P.

1. We have no experience of any being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause.

Following the justification principle, if we substitute "P" with "any being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause" then we find that we are justified in believing there is no being with an efficient cause that is not a material cause. So 2 follows from 1 by the justification principle. That is, if the principle is true then we are justified in believing 2 on the basis of 1.

Ex-apologist, otherwise known as Felipe Leon, is a philosopher and he very clearly knows a lot about the philosophy of religion. "Classical theism" among Thomist bent philosophers might not define God as a "being", but their use of the term is definitely not standard. Most philosophers probably define classical theism as the theism of the philosophers and do not use terms such as "Theistic personalism" so Ex-apologist isn't doing anything not standard nor indicative of ignorance.

You're sort of wrong that the argument is question begging, but it would obviously be circular to the theist. However, the whole point of the argument is to show a parallel reasoning that takes down particular theistic arguments.