Monday, July 25, 2016

Tie breaker: God cannot be a brute fact



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This is called Tie-breaker because it moves us past the log jam that results in saying God is uncased and timeless always has been always will be with cause, vs. the atheist argument that this is no better than  just saying the universe happens to be here for no reason. My friend Eric Sotnak, who has a great gift for sarcasm that is not lost on me, set's it up as a matter of brute facts. There is a huge literature on brute facts but I wont go into it because I don't have time and I'm no expert. A brute fact is a thing that exists for no higher purpose, it has no reason for being it just is. [1] Now some will argue that brute facts can have physical causes or not. Since we have no examples of anything in nature that has no cause that just leaves and the universe as a whole. So the comparison between atheism and theism is between  God who has no cause vs a universe that has no reason for being weather it has a physical cause o not Having no reason means it could as easily not be. Sotnak turns this into an argument agaisnt the existence of God, but couches it in terms of God as a brute fact:


Traditionally, theists have felt extremely uncomfortable with the idea of a “brute fact” – that something could have just happened without explanation. Instead, they have committed to variations on the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR).I think the main reason for this is that they know quite well that without PSR, they will have no way to rule out the hypothesis that maybe the universe is just a brute fact (no God required).But I think theists could comfort themselves a bit by shedding their anxiety about this. Imagine a conversation like this between a theist (T) and an atheist (A):

A: I think the universe is a brute fact.T: Not I. I think it was made by God.A: But then where did God come from?T: God is an eternal brute fact.A: How does that make you better off than me, then?T: Well, while no logical proof of God’s existence is possible, I have subjective or existential reasons for being a theist. It seems to me that I can feel the presence of God in the laughter of my children, for instance. For me, theism helps me to make sense of the world and comforts me with the hope that death isn’t final.A: But if God is a brute fact, that means he could, logically speaking, have failed to exist.T: Yup. So I feel extra lucky that he does.
Since God cannot fail to exist (definition of  necessary),that is an intrinsic part of the definition of God; then to say God is a BF in this sense is to say there is no God. One might believe in a demoted god who is not the God but a sort of very power strange being we don't know about. Zeus or something. This is why we need a tie breaker because there is a supposed tie between God as BF and the Universe as BF. God cam't be abrute fact and still be God in the Christian sense. Yet there is this seeming tie between un-caused God and uncaused universe. We have to do this in such a way that the universe can't be withouut a cause and God who has no cause cannot be a brute fact.

To break the tie we just need to distinguish between the two kinds of un-caused nature. The argument is going to turn-on the concept of a BF. The nature of God's un-caused state is not the same as the nature of BF. To be a BF a thing must have no connection to a higher purpose. God can't have a purpose higher than himself but he can have a purpose higher than mere brute facticity. Semantically the two are different, Brute facts have higher purpose, God has asaiety not brute facticity. That it is part of the definition of what God is that he eternal and necessary. It's not part of the definition of the universe that it exists. That's existence as a predicate. On that basis Bertrand Russell ruled out the ontological argument. Existence is not a quality to be defined as part of the object, "I have one of those brick houses it;s the kind that exists." That goes beyond the semantic aspect and it can be understood in terms of the nature of being.

God is being itself of the ground of being.[2] The universe is not the ground of being. Even if it has no cause and has always existed the universe cannot be called the ground of being without attaching to it some higher sense of special nature such that we can think of it ass "holy being." But before we do deifying the universe there is no reason to assume that the universe is eternal or uncased. If it was, if we could call it God there would be a God and atheists would be wrong , even if Christians were wrong too. We can eliminate that possibility.  We know the universe is not eternal [3] and It did not pop out of nothing.[4] The rea contest is between a meaningless accident that somehow came to be for no reason with no higher purpose ,which we call "the universe" vs.  the ground of being or holy being which eternal, necessary (could not have failed to exist) and eternal cohere's within the infinite folds of a core purpose upon which the all existence coheres. That is not  purpose higher than itself but is it;'s own purpose (that the universe doesn't have). 

Now I hear the question "so what is God's big purpose?" God is not just being itself but as such is being por soir. Jean-Paul Sartre's term meaning being for itself. The alternative is being in itself. (en soir). In itself is inanimate (universe) and for itself is conscious and purpose; the purpose is set by God's nature which is love. Love is the will to the good of the other. Being for itself means it has will, volition and purpose. That purpose is to love to create more being and to provide for the good of such being. That is going to open a lot questions about the nature of life and theodicy, that has to wait for another time, This breaks the tie because it gives God a  purpose, self authorized, which the BF doesn't have.

a couple of notes on Eric's dialogue:

A: I think the universe is a brute fact.T: Not I. I think it was made by God.A: But then where did God come from?T: God is an eternal brute fact.

No that is the wrong answer. He misidentifies aseity as brute fact which it is not. God has a purpose and is self perpetuated, the universe has no purpose and is not perpetuating itself. It has nothing to do with its own existence. Now we come to Eric's real gift of sarcasm:


T: Well, while no logical proof of God’s existence is possible, I have subjective or existential reasons for being a theist. It seems to me that I can feel the presence of God in the laughter of my children, for instance. For me, theism helps me to make sense of the world and comforts me with the hope that death isn’t final.
That's mockery of mystical experience, Yes God ks beyond our understanding, All the things we say about god are either very limited or metaphorical. The fact is the life transformation chances are proven fact established by 200 or more empirical scientific studies in peer reviewed journals. For more on this see my book The Trace of God by Joseph Hinman, on amazon.[5]

A: But if God is a brute fact, that means he could, logically speaking, have failed to exist.T: Yup. So I feel extra lucky that he does.

That would be a conceptual contradiction at the heart of the God concept, thus no God. Such is not the case.







[1] There's a problem with the definition of a brute fact. Different philosophers have different definitions. Atheist from is at work. the definition is changed from the way I learned it (no reason for being) to a definition that has to include god (something we can't explain)I disagree, I don't that as a BF. God being beyond understanding and explainable for that reason is totally different than saying "X just just happens to be for no reason." The chief difference is for the one the could be a reason we just don't understand it,for the other there is none, The fact of a purpose involved with God as being i think breaks the tie

[2] Ground of being is a concept made famous by Paul Tillich and other theologians, I've written about it vociferously. It basically amounts to saying God is the basis of reality. My A"Introduction to Paul Tillich's Existential Ontology" Metacrock's Blog http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2010/02/introduction-to-paul-tillichs.html

[3] Quentin Smith, “The Uncased Beginning of the Universe.” The British Journal of the Philosophy of Science, (1988, Vol., 55, no. 1), 39-57.

[4] Joseph Hinman, "Quantum Particles Do not prove universe from Nothing," The religious a priori, website URL: http://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2016/03/quantum-particles-do-not-prove-universe.html
accessed 7/23/16

[5] Joseph Hinman, The Trace of God:Rational Warrant for Belief. Colorado Springs:Grand Vidaduct, 2014.

44 comments:

Eric Sotnak said...

Actually, no sarcasm or mockery at all was intended. I am seriously suggesting that I can see someone feeling pulled toward theism more by personal reasons than by philosophical arguments. Alvin Plantinga has given examples of circumstances under which he thinks belief in God could be “properly basic” – among his examples of such circumstances he mentions things like feeling spoken to by God when reading the Bible, or having a sense of God’s creative hand when looking at the stars (or things to that effect). Or I know people who admit that they embrace theism largely out of the hope of seeing their deceased loved ones again. These are the sorts of things I meant by “subjective or existential reasons.” My purpose was only to try to allow for the coherence of a ‘Quinean theism’ on which it is true both that God exists and that necessity is inapplicable to things. (Since necessary beings are incoherent, the best we can say is that God just happens to exist, and that no reason can be given for it – God is a brute fact).

In any case, as far as I can see, you have welded shut the escape hatch I left open for you regarding PSR, so I now see no way for you to avoid necessitarianism: If God is a necessary being, and every fact is ultimately necessarily grounded in a necessary being, and (as you seem to have admitted in another post) ontological necessity works just like modal necessity, then every fact is necessary.

If P is necessary and Q follows necessarily from P, then Q is also necessary. Turned around, if Q is not necessary, and Q follows from P, then either P is not necessary, or Q does not follow necessarily (but only contingently) from P.

So, if you are going to hold that God is a necessary being, then you must, on pain of logical incoherence, accept that all contingencies that are ultimately grounded in God are only contingently so grounded.

Ryan M said...

I think it should be pointed out that F being a brute fact does not imply F is not a necessary truth. Brute facts are facts that have no explanation. Unless we can smuggle explanation into the definition of necessity then a fact being necessary does not imply it having an explanation.

At best we can say that it is epistemically possible for any brute fact to fail to exist. But this is no issue for theism. For any person without knowledge that theism is true it is epistemically possible that theism is false. That applies even if God exists necessarily AND has an explanation. So in the interpretation that brute facts can merely fail to exist in an epistemic sense, theists cannot easily say God is not a brute fact.

Joe Hinman said...

Eric I was just funning with you about sarcasm I didn't take it mean,I did thin you were being playfully sarcastic not in a mean way.

"In any case, as far as I can see, you have welded shut the escape hatch I left open for you regarding PSR, so I now see no way for you to avoid necessitarianism: If God is a necessary being, and every fact is ultimately necessarily grounded in a necessary being, and (as you seem to have admitted in another post) ontological necessity works just like modal necessity, then every fact is necessary."


That is wrong, both Plantinga and Hartshorne use necessarily in their modal arguments, they are not talking about logical necessity they are talking about broadly logical or maybe ontological necessity.



If P is necessary and Q follows necessarily from P, then Q is also necessary.


wrong. If P produces y in some way Y is not necessarily necessary but contingent. Iff P can;'t help but produce Y then Y is necessary but if P hasa chice then he;snot because he didn't have to be,

Turned around, if Q is not necessary, and Q follows from P, then either P is not necessary, or Q does not follow necessarily (but only contingently) from P.


you overlook the obvious answer that P is necessary and Y is continent,

So, if you are going to hold that God is a necessary being, then you must, on pain of logical incoherence, accept that all contingencies that are ultimately grounded in God are only contingently so grounded.

Not at all, if that were true Hartshorne and plantinga could not put 'god is necessary in tgheir Oabut they do. I suspect this is ll due to Kripky and before him my naswer would have been understood, you are not dealing with the kkind of necessity used kn the argumejt,

Joe Hinman said...

I think it should be pointed out that F being a brute fact does not imply F is not a necessary truth. Brute facts are facts that have no explanation. Unless we can smuggle explanation into the definition of necessity then a fact being necessary does not imply it having an explanation.

that may be but the tie id broken., There;s a reasom to accept God beyond the meaninglessness of no cause,


At best we can say that it is epistemically possible for any brute fact to fail to exist. But this is no issue for theism. For any person without knowledge that theism is true it is epistemically possible that theism is false. That applies even if God exists necessarily AND has an explanation. So in the interpretation that brute facts can merely fail to exist in an epistemic sense, theists cannot easily say God is not a brute fact.


they God of Christian theology cannot fail to exist but he;s free to creature or not createany thing he wishes thus God's creation is contingent but
god is necessary

really you are both avoiding the tie breaker, neither of you talk about it and it's not really dependent upon necessity/contingency,

Ryan M said...

This talk of necessity and contingency is very ambiguous.

One of Eric's modal points is this:

□(P → Q) → (□P → □Q)

Depending on how you interpret the operators, Eric is correct. If we have some non empty set of worlds W and it is true that □(P → Q), then for every element of W it is true that P implies Q. If it is necessary that P implies Q then either P is false in every world or Q is true in every world. If we now claim that P is necessarily true then in W we must find that P is true in every world. Since P is true in every world it must also be the case that Q is true in every world since it is true in every world that P implies Q. As a result, Q is necessary since Q is true in every world in W.

I think the language of necessity, contingency and possibility needs to be cleaned up or else Eric, myself and others will make objections that are irrelevant though prima facie on point from our perspective. As an example, saying God "cannot fail to exist" is ambiguous. A being cannot fail to exist in a metaphysical sense, a logical sense, and an epistemic sense.

Eric Sotnak said...

Joe Hinman wrote: God's creation is contingent but [G]od is necessary

No, I realize this is what you want to maintain, but, as I have pointed out in the past, your commitment to PSR puts you in exactly the same bind that vexed Leibniz his whole life.

Suppose it is granted that God exists necessarily, that PSR is true, that God created the universe, and that the universe exists contingently. What, then, is the sufficient reason for God's creating the universe rather than not? You allude to God's freedom. So it looks like your answer is that God's freely choosing to create the universe satisfies PSR. What, then, is the sufficient reason for God's choice? And it is right here that I can't see how you will avoid trouble. You can't say, God just plain chose to create for no reason at all, because that just grants that God's choice was a brute fact. Nor can you accept that God had an infinitely regressive chain of contingent reasons leading up to his choice, because you reject infinite regresses of contingent explanations. But nor can you accept that God's choice was necessary. Well, then, what was it?

How do you avoid the pitfall of Spinoza's view that "there is nothing in nature that is contingent, but everything that exists and happens follows from the necessity of the divine nature" (Ethics part 1 prop. 29)?

In short, what is the sufficient reason for any property that belongs to a necessary being only contingently?

Ryan M said...

I suppose Joe could take on a weaker version of the PSR. I know Alexander Pruss advances a restricted PSR.

Mike Gerow said...

I think, what Joe is saying is, "God is free to create or not out pure existential choice". The PSR does not refer all the way to God, who is " causa Sui", self-causing, and that is also then sufficient reason.


Eric's notion that a necessary being does not necessarily infer "God", in the sense of Ceator, is interesting,, tho. If God creates contingently, by his or her own will, then there are possible universes where God exists but does not create?

Well, do we have the assume those universes are all empty? This is the quagmire, I think, that he's bringing up...

Joe Hinman said...

I think the language of necessity, contingency and possibility needs to be cleaned up or else Eric, myself and others will make objections that are irrelevant though prima facie on point from our perspective. As an example, saying God "cannot fail to exist" is ambiguous. A being cannot fail to exist in a metaphysical sense, a logical sense, and an epistemic sense.

My understanding of n/c is rooted in Aquinas and that's older idea iat;s augmented Plantinga need Hartshorne, Thomas Crisp.I think we are on different pages.

Joe Hinman said...

I think, what Joe is saying is, "God is free to create or not out pure existential choice". The PSR does not refer all the way to God, who is " causa Sui", self-causing, and that is also then sufficient reason.


Eric's notion that a necessary being does not necessarily infer "God", in the sense of Creator, is interesting,, tho. If God creates contingently, by his or her own will, then there are possible universes where God exists but does not create?

Well, do we have the assume those universes are all empty? This is the quagmire, I think, that he's bringing up...


I don't accept that version of possible worlds I don't think there's a possible world for everything you can think of, they are not paraell diensiomns that real exist,

Joe Hinman said...

Joe Hinman wrote: God's creation is contingent but [G]od is necessary

No, I realize this is what you want to maintain, but, as I have pointed out in the past, your commitment to PSR puts you in exactly the same bind that vexed Leibniz his whole life.

I don't think I'm fully into PSR. I am not sure I mean the same thing by that exactly. Ryan might have a point about a lesser version,I say everything has reason however trivial. Everything doesn't have a higher reason, except in so far as God created all things.


Suppose it is granted that God exists necessarily, that PSR is true, that God created the universe, and that the universe exists contingently. What, then, is the sufficient reason for God's creating the universe rather than not? You allude to God's freedom. So it looks like your answer is that God's freely choosing to create the universe satisfies PSR. What, then, is the sufficient reason for God's choice?

I already covered that in the tie breaker. Up there i said it;s gods purposes are motivated by love and the desire to foment being, but I also think we have to know the motives to know that there is a purpose.


And it is right here that I can't see how you will avoid trouble. You can't say, God just plain chose to create for no reason at all, because that just grants that God's choice was a brute fact.

did you even read my thing? I said nothing of the sort. I said nothing that would even hint at the reason being arbitrary; this idea of "for no reason at all" is totally contradicted. I said his reams is love and being for itself.

Nor can you accept that God had an infinitely regressive chain of contingent reasons leading up to his choice, because you reject infinite regresses of contingent explanations. But nor can you accept that God's choice was necessary. Well, then, what was it?

(1) I don't reject infinite regress of ideas I reject infinite regress of causes, like physical causes such as oscillating universe.Big bang =big crunch =big bang = big crunch (2) I don't think God needs an infinite regress because I love is an end in itself so it;s like the final cause of causes

How do you avoid the pitfall of Spinoza's view that "there is nothing in nature that is contingent, but everything that exists and happens follows from the necessity of the divine nature" (Ethics part 1 prop. 29)?

I don't think Spinoza gave God must credit for will or volition.

In short, what is the sufficient reason for any property that belongs to a necessary being only contingently?

Depends upon what you mean by property, Ideas are not properties. If God has an idea to create something (if God works that way) it's not a property of God its just an idea, so I am not sure God has any contingent properties.

Eric Sotnak said...

Does God's love belong to him as a necessary property? If so, then if he had chosen not to create a world at all, he would still have been just as loving. So he would have had the property of being loving whether or not he created the world. So how does his being loving explain his creating the world rather than not creating it?

Ryan M said...

I'm pretty sure God, if God exists, must have some contingent properties. If God created me then either creating me is a necessary or contingent property of God. If it's necessary then God would have no choice but to create me which contradicts God's perfect freedom. So, if God created me then the property of having created me is a contingent property of God.

I think when Joe says he rejects Mike's possible worlds question he means this:

[If there are metaphysically possible worlds where God creates nothing at all, it does not need to be the case that these possible worlds are also concrete existing possible worlds, so there are no actual empty worlds where nothing exists except God].

Mike Gerow said...

Ryan, yeah, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't agree with David Lewis's take on possible worlds, "actual exsting possible worlds" but would opt for Platinga!s "complete sets of propositions" spin. But how does that help him? I dunno....

I actually meant that in the sense that it seems possible to imagine a (non-empty) world with a necessary being who didn't create it, according to the principles Joe's put forward so far - necessary being is not just equivalent to creator - and there could also be another, different ultimacey that's actually the creative force, for one possibility. Well, unless God's creating is actually 'necessary' too? But that's got its own problems for him.

So I don't think Joes found his way out of Leibniz's thorny dilemna as sketched by Eric. Not quite yet....

Joe Hinman said...

Eric Sotnak said...
Does God's love belong to him as a necessary property? If so, then if he had chosen not to create a world at all, he would still have been just as loving. So he would have had the property of being loving whether or not he created the world. So how does his being loving explain his creating the world rather than not creating it?
6:44 AM

Yes I think we must say love is a property of God.

We would have to be God to know why he cjhose to create the world (s?) as oppossed to just loving himself. But we can safely presume it was not out of a need. I see a distinction between need and nature. the nature of love is to make more love, and the nature of being is to be creative so creation is part of his nature,without being a need,

I am also unassuming he could fulfill that part og his natuer in more ways than creating, or more ways than creating a world. or more worlds than just ours. worlds per se may or may not be necessary but our world is not necessary.

Joe Hinman said...


Blogger Ryan M said...
I'm pretty sure God, if God exists, must have some contingent properties. If God created me then either creating me is a necessary or contingent property of God. If it's necessary then God would have no choice but to create me which contradicts God's perfect freedom. So, if God created me then the property of having created me is a contingent property of God.

I agree. for what it's worth Hartshorne also said that. As i said above God did not have to be creator. Hisnagtuer is to be creative but he didn't have to fulfill that by creating us

I am a teacher, that is my naturel I am not teaching.

Joe Hinman said...

Mike Gerow said...
Ryan, yeah, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't agree with David Lewis's take on possible worlds, "actual exsting possible worlds" but would opt for Platinga!s "complete sets of propositions" spin. But how does that help him? I dunno....

I actually meant that in the sense that it seems possible to imagine a (non-empty) world with a necessary being who didn't create it, according to the principles Joe's put forward so far - necessary being is not just equivalent to creator - and there could also be another, different ultimacey that's actually the creative force, for one possibility. Well, unless God's creating is actually 'necessary' too? But that's got its own problems for him.


right on Met, boo Lewis!

So I don't think Joes found his way out of Leibniz's thorny dilemna as sketched by Eric. Not quite yet....


I never got into Leibniz's dilemma because a different take on PSR

Eric Sotnak said...

If I have understood correctly, Joe’s view is that God exists necessarily, but that the properties that belong to him in relation to the creation of this particular world are contingent. This means he could have had different properties by choosing to exercise his creative powers differently. Suppose God had not created the world that he did. Suppose God had chosen, instead, to create an absolute hell of a world. If he had done so, what would the reason have been for his having done so?

But maybe God could not have created a hell world. Perhaps this is not merely something he would not do, but something that would be impossible for him to do. At the very least, perhaps it is necessary that if God creates a world, that world is at least minimally good. But why should we believe that? It seems the only answer is that God’s goodness is an essential perfection. So in order for God to create a miserable world, he would have had to have lacked one of his defining/essential properties. So it is necessary that God creates a good world, but only contingent which good world he chooses to create.

Ok. So now let’s consider the range of worlds that are minimally good that were all in God’s power to create. We got this one. Why? Because God is good. But why not one of the other worlds? No reason? God just picked this one at random? Suppose he had picked one of the other worlds, instead. Then wouldn’t we have to say the reason he picked that one was because he is good. And if he had picked a still different world, it would also have been because he is good. But no answer is forthcoming as to why he chose this world rather than any of the other minimally good worlds, unless we say (with Leibniz) that God is not just good, but perfect, and therefore he chose this world in preference to all the others because it is the best, and no other world could have been chosen without God being less than absolutely perfect, which is impossible. So, this world turns out to be necessary.

So to prevent this rehash of Leibniz’s problem, I return to the crucial question: How is it possible for a necessary being to possess contingent properties without violating PSR?

Mike Gerow said...

Eric, Platinga gets around that simply by surmising that there would be an infinite number of possible worlds God could have created, thus no 'best possible' one.

Joe Hinman said...

If I have understood correctly, Joe’s view is that God exists necessarily, but that the properties that belong to him in relation to the creation of this particular world are contingent. This means he could have had different properties by choosing to exercise his creative powers differently. Suppose God had not created the world that he did. Suppose God had chosen, instead, to create an absolute hell of a world. If he had done so, what would the reason have been for his having done so?


depends upon what you mean by properties. To me that word connotes a generic quality such as gold is heavy. gold will still be heavy whether its molten or solid. so IO say God's properties would be the same but his relationship or function would be different had he not created,

But maybe God could not have created a hell world. Perhaps this is not merely something he would not do, but something that would be impossible for him to do. At the very least, perhaps it is necessary that if God creates a world, that world is at least minimally good. But why should we believe that? It seems the only answer is that God’s goodness is an essential perfection. So in order for God to create a miserable world, he would have had to have lacked one of his defining/essential properties. So it is necessary that God creates a good world, but only contingent which good world he chooses to create.

I think there are things God can;'t do. Bible says he can[t lie. He cant fail to exist he can't do nonsense like smell next Thursday.

Ok. So now let’s consider the range of worlds that are minimally good that were all in God’s power to create. We got this one. Why? Because God is good. But why not one of the other worlds? No reason? God just picked this one at random? Suppose he had picked one of the other worlds, instead. Then wouldn’t we have to say the reason he picked that one was because he is good. And if he had picked a still different world, it would also have been because he is good. But no answer is forthcoming as to why he chose this world rather than any of the other minimally good worlds, unless we say (with Leibniz) that God is not just good, but perfect, and therefore he chose this world in preference to all the others because it is the best, and no other world could have been chosen without God being less than absolutely perfect, which is impossible. So, this world turns out to be necessary.

we don't know why this world. presumably because it's a free will world.

So to prevent this rehash of Leibniz’s problem, I return to the crucial question: How is it possible for a necessary being to possess contingent properties without violating PSR?
6:54 PM

that may turn on the distinction between relational properties and generic properties.

Joe Hinman said...

Eric, Platinga gets around that simply by surmising that there would be an infinite number of possible worlds God could have created, thus no 'best possible' one.

O damn I knew that!

Joe Hinman said...

how do I know this is not the BOAPW? Because I'm not rich. we will know for sure if it's the hell world come November.

Ryan M said...

Even on the assumption that there is a best possible world, I don't think it follows that God would necessarily create it, so it would not follow that if God necessarily exists then the best possible world necessarily exists. Rather, I think what we can derive from God's goodness and the existence of a best possible world is that "If God exists and God creates a world then the world God creates is the best possible world". That conditional does not imply that God does in fact create, so even if hypothetically God necessarily would create the best possible world if God were to create at all it would not follow that God would necessarily create the best possible world. Rather, God's creative act could still be a contingent fact.

Eric Sotnak said...

Mike Gerow wrote: Eric, Platinga gets around that simply by surmising that there would be an infinite number of possible worlds God could have created, thus no 'best possible' one.

Consider all of those possible worlds. Only one was chosen in preference to all the others. Why? If it isn't because it was better, then was there no reason? Suppose we asked God why he chose this particular world, and he answered that it was because R. Then we ask if he had chosen one of the other worlds, what the reason would have been in that case, and he answered, "R." In other word, exactly the same reason would be given for creating any of the infinitely many good possible worlds, and so there is therefore NO REASON for creating this particular world in preference to any of them. God would have "just plain chosen it" which means there would be no sufficient reason for God's particular choice in preference to infinitely many alternative possible choices. Opponents of PSR can shrug and say "so what?" but proponents of PSR cannot.

Mike Gerow said...

God would have "just plain chosen it" which means there would be no sufficient reason for God's particular choice in preference to infinitely many alternative possible choices. Opponents of PSR can shrug and say "so what?" but proponents of PSR cannot.

Could proponents assert that "God's choice' IS by itself a sufficient reason?

This is the tact Joe's getting at with his Sartrean en-soir and pour-soir thing, I think, that God and perhaps other conscious beings have a capacity to transcend the PSR.

Eric Sotnak said...

Mike Gerow wrote: Could proponents assert that "God's choice' IS by itself a sufficient reason?

It is a sufficient reason for the world that he creates, but it doesn't explain his choice of that world over others. That is, if you could ask God, "Why did you choose world A instead of world B?" For God to reply, "Because A is the one I chose" doesn't really answer the question.

Joe Hinman said...

Consider all of those possible worlds. Only one was chosen in preference to all the others. Why? If it isn't because it was better, then was there no reason?

that does not follow. Just because we don't know the reason doesn't mean there is not one. I aam not saying there are no other worlds just that every possible world si not real.



Suppose we asked God why he chose this particular world, and he answered that it was because R. Then we ask if he had chosen one of the other worlds, what the reason would have been in that case, and he answered, "R." In other word, exactly the same reason would be given for creating any of the infinitely many good possible worlds, and so there is therefore NO REASON for creating this particular world in preference to any of them. God would have "just plain chosen it" which means there would be no sufficient reason for God's particular choice in preference to infinitely many alternative possible choices. Opponents of PSR can shrug and say "so what?" but proponents of PSR cannot.


supposed God's answer was the most brilliant thing you ever heard and you had nothing to come back with?

Joe Hinman said...

Even on the assumption that there is a best possible world, I don't think it follows that God would necessarily create it, so it would not follow that if God necessarily exists then the best possible world necessarily exists. Rather, I think what we can derive from God's goodness and the existence of a best possible world is that "If God exists and God creates a world then the world God creates is the best possible world". That conditional does not imply that God does in fact create, so even if hypothetically God necessarily would create the best possible world if God were to create at all it would not follow that God would necessarily create the best possible world. Rather, God's creative act could still be a contingent fact.

I never said I agree about BPW. This is the best possible world given what God had in mimnd for it I'k sure but I know he could have done better, it all depends upon the goal.

Eric Sotnak said...

The point isn't what the content of God's reason is, the point is how that reason relates to God.

Let's try one more time:

Suppose God creates w1 for reason r1. What is the reason for God's having r1? If r1 is a consequence of any property that belongs to God necessarily, then doesn't it follow that r1 is also necessary? Why doesn't God have r1 is every possible world? In other words, if God exists necessarily, then how can he have different properties in different worlds?

Joe Hinman said...

I thought I had sated already stated everything back to love, any reason God could have would be the consequence of the property of love or being,

Mike Gerow said...

It wouldn't be too hard, in context of Joe's elucidation, to answer that, Eric, since the assumption is God creates out of expression of love, who would then be the same for all worlds?

I think Platinga's thing, that there are an infinite number of possibile worlds, all we can expect is. ' good enough' world -- which handles the BOAPW issue... and (I think) the case where God creates some worlds that are "better" than others, too?

Eric Sotnak said...

If God creates w1, love is the reason.
If God creates w2, love is the reason.
If God creates w3, love is the reason.
If God creates w1 rather than w2, love is the reason.
If God creates w2 rather than w3, love is the reason.

But if the explanation is always the same no matter which world God creates, then I would say we don’t have an explanation for one choice rather than any other.

Analogy:
A: Why did you order pancakes?
B: Because I was hungry.
A: If you had ordered waffles, instead, why would that have been?
B: It would have been because I was hungry.
A: Yes, but why would you have chosen waffles instead of bacon and eggs?
B: Because I was hungry.

Sorry, but I would say B has not satisfactorily answered A.

Mike Gerow said...

... but would there have to be any real answer to those questions besides "according to my current tastes," or something else that doesn't really tell us much? Moreover, with any person, we might suspect there's really some internal or subconscious reason, some contingent "need" being met by their choice (either health-wise or addictively-speaking) even tho they're not aware of it? That's different with God, of course, whom we assume neither has such "needs" nor lacks any form of self-awareness.

Seems like, in any case, an infinite God couldn't express his-or-herself fully in a finite creation? There would have to be some "choices" and/or limitations imposed? Which then could be the whole of his or her (essential)"reasons" for many "choices". (Also, why Nicholas of Cusa and some others predicted that God would have created an infinite number of worlds, I guess, tho obviously it doesn't follow from what we're saying here that God would NEED to do that...)

Joe Hinman said...

But if the explanation is always the same no matter which world God creates, then I would say we don’t have an explanation for one choice rather than any other.


but you are kimd of assumimg
god is like aa 18th century rational man he's going to have specific reasons for making each world. I assume he has one formula and let's the chips fall where they may but the reason for for the chips falling is the same reason for doing it, I'm assuming it's an intuitive instinctive kind of reason.

Eric Sotnak said...

Why did God choose this particular world in preference to all the others? He just did (he "let the chips fall where they may"). In other words, it is a brute fact that he chose this world rather than some other.

Mike Gerow said...

Eric, it could be a brute fact that God chose SOME aspects of reality arbitrarily, but does that make ALL of reality a "brute fact?"

Here's a couple of arguments...

1) What if some important (moral) choices can't be made for "reasons" because, just as it seems to us, there is no final moral calculus that can ultimately decide between opposing kinds of moral "goods"? If God then makes an "arbitrary" choice, say by choosing "mercy for mankind" over "justice," is that only a brute fact? The "reason" is God's choice, so wouldn't we be right to claim it's more like a revelation--a free expression of the "kind of God" that God has chosen to be?

2) Isn't space like that for spontaneity, play, self-expression (for us as well as God) a "good" in itself?

How does free will or a free decision, if there ever is such a thing, relate to brute facts and the PSR?

Ryan M said...

If there is at least one brute fact then the PSR is false. If God's choice to create this world over any other is simply a brute fact then theism is in no better a position than non theism with respect to explaining how the contingent aspects of reality came to be. In each case we find a terminus in a brute fact.

Mike Gerow said...

Ryan, unless "God's choice" just IS sufficient reason?

I think, as I said above, the whole question about 'free will choice' is huge here. Is a free will choice a kind of "reason"? (In the sense that libertarians conjecture a type of action for which, although there may be "reasons", it is not caused by them, but is essentially the result an agent's decision.)

How is the concept of "reason" in different versions of the PSR related to "cause", as in naturalistic "causes" or not? Can someone's choice be a "reason"?

Eric Sotnak said...

"...the view that God sometimes does something without having any reason for his choice, besides seeming to be impossible, is hardly compatible with his glory. Suppose that God, facing a choice between A and B, opts for A without having any reason for preferring it to B. I see nothing to praise in that, because all praise should be grounded in some reason, and in this case we have stipulated that there is none. By contrast, I hold that God does nothing for which he does not deserve to be glorified." (from Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics, section 3)

Joe Hinman said...

If there is at least one brute fact then the PSR is false. If God's choice to create this world over any other is simply a brute fact then theism is in no better a position than non theism with respect to explaining how the contingent aspects of reality came to be. In each case we find a terminus in a brute fact.

that depends upon how you define both BF and SR. I by BF you mean anything without a highre purpose an d by SR you mean a physical explanation then every gum wrapper on side walk is BF and yet has a sufficient reason,lacks a higher reasomn,

Mike Gerow said...

Eric, couldn't we argue, "contra" Leibniz and along the lines of N. of Cusan, that an omnipotent God should and would be able to create an INFINITE number of 'best possible worlds', all of which are equally perfect, and so there would be no reasons for some particular choices in some particular (possible) world, and no way to choose 'the best' between the variations, but wouldn't that much more vast creation glorify God more?

Doesn't Lieb. just assume there (so to speak) that the "creation equation" is integratable? - that it would just "naturally" have to converge, and not diverge?

:-P

Ryan M said...

I would not define a brute fact in that way nor would I define a sufficient reason in that way. My definitions would be the standard definitions used by philosophers.

Eric Sotnak said...

Mike Gerow:
I think someone who embraces a libertarian account of free will could say something along those lines.

Suppose God created world w1 and in that world he is asked why. He could answer “Because I wanted to create a world and there was no better world.”

Suppose he created w2, instead, and was asked why he created it. Again, I think he could answer, “Because I wanted to create a world and there was no better world.”

But if he is asked, “but why did you create w1 instead of w2?” I don’t see how he can answer other than to say something like: “No reason. Since w1 and w2 are both equally good, there was no reason to create either in preference to the other. So there was no sufficient reason to choose either in preference to the other. I just picked at random.” This looks like Joe’s “let the dice fall where they may” answer, earlier in the comments.

PSR has fallen by the wayside here, and good riddance to it, I say.

But without PSR, I don’t see how Joe can defend his claim that contingencies must all be grounded in necessities (that sure sounds like an endorsement of PSR to me).

Mike Gerow said...

Accordingly to Mary Jane Rubinstein's book on multiverse theories, even Aristotle, in his Metaphysics, postulated more than the one "unmoved mover" ....

“a single movement must be produced by something single” (1073a). So far, so good; this argument is what will allow him in a few pages to establish the singularity of the cosmos based on the singularity of its mover.But then Aristotle reminds us that this “single movement” applies not only to “the whole universe,” but to the “planetary courses” as well (1073a). And because each of the planets (or “stars”)44 is a substance, “it is clearly necessary that the number of substances eternal in their nature and intrinsically unmovable (and without magnitude …) should equal that of the movements of “stars is a substance, “it is clearly necessary that the number of substances eternal in their nature and intrinsically unmovable (and without magnitude …) should equal that of the movements of the stars” (1073a). What has happened here is that without justifying the leap, Aristotle has attributed to each planet the “single movement” of premise (3), declaring that there must be as many “single movers” as there are planetary courses. Then, through a perfectly inscrutable calculus, he goes on to reveal the number of courses to be either fifty-five or forty-seven.."

But what if every subatomic particle is actually a "substance" and it's OWN unmoved mover? Then the entire multi/universe might be a working out of relations between them, which makes sense according to their "unpredictable" or "noncausal" nature in QM theory, and this democratic sitch would not necessarily infer either a singular cause or an ICR? Which likely jives for process theists and atheists too.....