Monday, June 12, 2017

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.

20 comments:

im-skeptical said...

I don't know where you get this "tiebreaker" stuff. There is no tie. God is a fantasy for the supersrtitious. Case closed.

Joe Hinman said...

that's just bull shit rhetoric, ties breakers are things used in philosophy,look it up. you are begging the question.you are using your belief in no God as a proof that there is no God.

circular reasoning and question begging.

Joe Hinman said...

go back and read the argument again you find the tie is when both theist and atheist assert the un caused nature of God or nature.

T" how could tehuniverse not have a cause?

A: how could Go not have a cause?

there's the time. you can't use"I don't believe there's a God" to answer the question because is the logical answer to having no cause for the universe and nature, then the tie happens.

im-skeptical said...

there's the time. you can't use"I don't believe there's a God" to answer the question because is the logical answer to having no cause for the universe and nature, then the tie happens.

- There's no tie. My belief is solidly based on observation and evidence. We simply don't observe anything in the universe that is not natural. NOTHING. NADA. JACK SQUAT. There is no reason to think that such a thing must exist, unless you use your question-begging theistic reasoning to invent the notion from nothing, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Ryan M said...

"There's no tie. My belief is solidly based on observation and evidence. We simply don't observe anything in the universe that is not natural. NOTHING. NADA. JACK SQUAT. There is no reason to think that such a thing must exist, unless you use your question-begging theistic reasoning to invent the notion from nothing, despite all evidence to the contrary."

Joe doesn't think God would be IN the universe.

If you want to have a conversation with Joe, or contribute anything to his post, then don't start by assuming his position is false as you have just done. Attack premises or attack the form of his arguments.

Start making arguments. List your premises, list your conclusions, list your inferences.

Joe Hinman said...

im-skeptical said...
there's the time. you can't use"I don't believe there's a God" to answer the question because is the logical answer to having no cause for the universe and nature, then the tie happens.

- There's no tie. My belief is solidly based on observation and evidence. We simply don't observe anything in the universe that is not natural. NOTHING. NADA. JACK SQUAT.

yes we do, how many times I have to keep explaining about the true concept of SN in Christian theology? The term literally refers to mystical experience so that is SN even if it's in the natural, That is not the issue,

Your idea that if there's no SN then there's no tie is wrong headed. It's tie because neither side can observe a cause for it's ontological scheme. We don't have to observe a SN cause because God is not given in sense data and he's not supposes to have a cause any way.

Yes it's a false tie bit atheists assume the tie,but they ate wrong.

secondly you are begging the question because if God is SN the argument for belief if God gives a reason to think there is SN since god real and God is SN,if you insist on the modern hijack meaning of the term.




There is no reason to think that such a thing must exist, unless you use your question-begging theistic reasoning to invent the notion from nothing, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Obviously there is since the whole point of the issue is that atheists are with no explanation for the cosmos and we have one. That's a reason to believe in God.

im-skeptical said...

God did it is not an explanation. It is simplistic, based on superstition, and it provides no understanding of how things actually work. And you can stomp your feet and insist "Yes, we have evidence!" But the fact is that this "evidence" is all in your mind. You don't have anything objective.

Eric Sotnak said...

I made a post on SO that addresses both this post of yours and your previous one.

Ryan M said...

"You don't have anything objective"

If you aren't prepared to actually challenge Joe's premises or attack the form of his arguments, then really there isn't any point in responding to his post.

im-skeptical said...

Ryan, I've challenged Joe over and over again. It's all water off a duck. His "argument" is little more that bare assertion, based in this question-begging assumptions.

Take this little gem, for example:
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.

What is Joe saying here? If something is a brute fact, it has no higher purpose. Then he says God has no higher purpose than itself. But somehow, that's different. How is it different? What is the purpose of God, and how in the world can Joe claim to know anything about it? He's just tossing out all these assertions as if he knows what the rest of us don't, using meaningless phrases like this "eternal cohere's within the infinite folds of a core purpose upon which the all existence coheres." to justify them. What a load of crap.

Joe Hinman said...

im-skeptical said...
God did it is not an explanation.

right that's not my argument

It is simplistic, based on superstition, and it provides no understanding of how things actually work. And you can stomp your feet and insist "Yes, we have evidence!" But the fact is that this "evidence" is all in your mind. You don't have anything objective.

I don't believe that you actually know anymore about how things work than I do. Be that as it may my argument is not God did it but that being has depth. God did it is a point o the way to the explanation the end of the line is being has death. If you want to understand what that means you can read Paul Tillich (Systematic I) or tune in to my debate with Bradley Bowen if it ever get's off the astound,

Joe Hinman said...

Eric Sotnak said...
I made a post on SO that addresses both this post of yours and your previous one.

I'll look--secular Outpost for those not in the know

Joe Hinman said...

im-skeptical said...
Ryan, I've challenged Joe over and over again. It's all water off a duck. His "argument" is little more that bare assertion, based in this question-begging assumptions.

Ok I could say something tacky but Iwont, I appreciate your participation,

Take this little gem, for example:
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.

What is Joe saying here? If something is a brute fact, it has no higher purpose. Then he says God has no higher purpose than itself. But somehow, that's different. How is it different? What is the purpose of God, and how in the world can Joe claim to know anything about it? He's just tossing out all these assertions as if he knows what the rest of us don't, using meaningless phrases like this "eternal cohere's within the infinite folds of a core purpose upon which the all existence coheres." to justify them. What a load of crap.

Actually i know the purpose of God because he told us what it is,"the son of man has come to seek and save the lost." Why? because "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son: that's the guy who is seeking and saving the lost. The reason God loves is it is his nature and that ties in with the depth of being. I can't go into all that now, but I've already expressed far more purpose than your average brute fact.

It does make sense and we've had 2000 years to work on it.

im-skeptical said...

Joe, what if I claimed that nature told me there is no purpose? Would you believe it? Why, or why not?

Joe Hinman said...

Since nature is impersonal I would say take your meds.

Look I believe in a concept of god that understands God as necessary and not continent. you do not have the right to pick and choose what I believe. The question is does that belief stack up with reality.I know it does and i'm trying to show you why.

im-skeptical said...

I would say take your meds.

I agree completely.

im-skeptical said...

And I'm sorry to hear about God's little problem.

JBsptfn said...

Skep: God did it is not an explanation. It is simplistic, based on superstition, and it provides no understanding of how things actually work. And you can stomp your feet and insist "Yes, we have evidence!" But the fact is that this "evidence" is all in your mind. You don't have anything objective.

There you go again with the "Goddidit" crap. When are you going to give that a break? You accused Stan of saying that once on the CADRE, and he never did.

Joe Hinman said...

I answered him very thoughtful the thing is he doesn't read our answers.

JBsptfn said...

He doesn't care. And then, he gets on you for only reading what you want to hear. This is why he has been a problem at other blogs.