Talk II: Are there any Gods or God?

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Re: Talk II: Are there any Gods or God?

Postby Publius Iulius Albinus » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:42 am

While one can go with a natural-philosophy way of reasoning that a god or gods exist, it's superfluous. Parsimony would reduce that since we can theoretically get to the universe existing without divine action. I feel that attempting to rationalise the gods using pure logic undercuts some deeper part of their essence; it reduces them to merely a cog in the machine that can be observed, measured, and controlled for; and I feel fairly strongly that the divine or supernatural is largely outside of empirical science. Likewise, I don't look particularly kindly upon pseudoscientific explanations for supernatural phenomenon.
These being the words of Publius Iulius Albinus Alexander.
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Re: Talk II: Are there any Gods or God?

Postby Caeso Cispius Laevus » Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:29 pm


Please see my attached defence;

I. The existence of the universe is either due to its own necessity and nature or due to an external cause.

Universe either casually depends on something in order to exist or does not. If it does the existence of the universe is due to whatever cause it depends upon. Since universe would already need to exist in order to depend on itself for its existence, this cause would have to be external.

If, on the other hand, universe does not casually depend upon anything in order to exist, then nothing could possibly make the universe stop existing, for if anything could, the universe would depend upon that not happening. Thus, if universe does not casually depend on anything in order to exist, its existence is due to its own necessary nature. Therefore, the existence of the universe is either due to its own necessary nature, or to an external cause.

II. If the existence of the universe is due to an external cause then at least one God exists. I defined what a God is here - viewtopic.php?f=7&t=607

Consider the universe being composed of different forms of matter. Liquid, gaseous, solid, organic, inorganic, atomic, subatomic and so on and so forth. Matter can therefore take on a great variety of forms, some more substantial than others. Thus, melting a rubber ball into a puddle of goo involves the ball's matter changing forms in a much more substantial way then say merely changing color. A ball can go from red to green and still remain a ball, they cannot survive being melted into goo.

A material substance will be composed of at least two features - matter and form. It could not just be matter, for matter that is not in any form is not anything. But neither could just be its material substance for the form from which, when unified to matter makes it whatever it essentially is, then it wouldn't be a material substance. Material substances are thus constituted by their form and matter.

It should be clear from this analysis that the claim that matter is all that exists is just nonsense. Matter simply cannot exist matter without any form. Can form exist without matter? Certainly, many well-respected thinkers continue to consider things such as minds, propositions and moral values to be immaterial. I neither want to beg the question for or against them, nor against those who suggest that the only forms that exist are those that are essentially conjoined to matter. An attempt at neutrality I will say the following. Most forms familiar to us are such that it is necessary that their existence be united with matter. For example, if there were no matter there could be no color for is of the essence of color to be conjoined some matter or other.

Consider a particular matter, these forms are just abstractions in the mind, just concepts or ideas, but they only exist in reality insofar as they are united with matter. Given that these forms are just obstructions when considered apart from mater, they are not contained in the matter, for the container in the contained would have independent existence.

If our minds are just matter, it would inevitably take on whatever forms existed in them. When the form of the triangular exists in the mind, my mind does not become a triangle. Nor does it become a tree when its form exists in my mind. Thus, my mind cannot be matter.

With the metaphysical distinction between matter and form now explained, let's now reflect on how the form of the universe would relate to the cause of the universe. Insofar as there is a cause of the universe it will have caused the universe to exist by uniting the form of universe with matter. Since there is no matter outside of the universe this creative act could not have involved the simple rearranging of already preexistent matter. Instead it would be the very bringing of matter into existence!

So consider that because has not been predisposed towards anything unifying. If this is the case there be no sufficient reason why the cars did in fact produce is a fact rather than another.

Because if the cause hadn't been inclined, whether consciously or by nature, you wouldn't find the form of universe united as matter. Alternatively if this unification wasn't due to the creator, but rather merely coincidental with it, it would be dumb luck that this of all facts happen to obtain. Insofar as the creator was geared towards the form of the universe, the form of the universe must have existed in some sense prior to being created. Otherwise, there would be nothing for the creator to be geared towards producing. However, apart from their matter, such forms are just abstractions of the mind.

Thus , given the existence of a God, the universe must not only have existed in a mind prior to the creation of this universe, but it must've been the goal of this God's activity. Therefore, insofar as there is a cause of the universe, it will ultimately result in the need for mind

In fact, given that it is matter which requires a substance to reflect whatever form it has, and it is intellect which allows the substance to have forms other than its own, not only with the cause of the universe be a mind, but it intellect would be unsurpassable as it would be the furthest thing from matter, and thus the least limited by intellect.

Furthermore, what could this cause possibly be if it were not a mind? Everything encountered in our experience, scientific and otherwise, is either a mind, or something physical. And try as we might, our imaginations can only combine in new and strange ways what we have already encountered through experience.

Let us move on and consider what else maybe said in favor of this cause being of mind. For starters, there's only really one form of causation we are familiar with whereby something nonphysical exerts casual influence over something physical, and that of mental causation. Minds are somehow able to casually influence matter, is it how I have moved my fingers to type, and your eyes move to read. True, mental causation involving nonphysical substances has become very controversial. But not knowing how mental causation works does not amount to mental causation being unintelligible. And some objections to mental causation are interesting. For example, it is sometimes objected that casual operations in nature can be completely understood in physical terms. The upshot is that mental causation is not only superfluous, but also seem to violate principles of conservation. With this said there would be no laws of nature prior to nature existing for science to appeal to. It is therefore impossible to give a scientific explanation to this cause. Given that there is an external cause to the universe, there must be some explanation to it. So what would a nonscientific, or nonnatural explanation be?

As stated, the cause of the universe being a mind brings us to our condition of a God, a remarkably great disembodied mind that is immensely more powerful than any of all mind on earth.

III. The existence of the universe is not due to its own necessary nature.

Often times, cosmological arguments discuss if the universe is contingent and necessary.

I will argue that it makes no difference if the universe is necessary or contingent. If universe is contingent, it does not have a necessary nature for its existence to be due to. And if it does have a necessary nature, it received this from the external cause, God. However did the universe receive this necessary nature from an external cause? Well, imagine that a God created the universe, but that it could not have done otherwise. In such a case, the universe would have a necessary nature, but its existence will not be due to that nature. It was unavoidable. In this case the universe had a necessary nature due to an external cause but it's existence will not be due to that nature.

The universe receives its necessary nature from an external source because the universe is constituted by parts that don't just become conjoined. They need to be conjoined from external causes, and the universe cannot do this since it only exists once form and matter have been conjoined. Something must explain why two distinct things material objects made from form and united with mater occur.

What this means is the universe is composed of parts which cannot exist to any other point whatsoever unless they are made by an external cause. Now, this external cause may conjoined the universe's form with its matter in a necessary way, or in a contingent way. But, either way, the existence of the universe must be due to external cause.

IV. Therefore, the universe is due to an external cause and I and III are explained.

V. Hence, at least one God exists and II and IV are explained.

Soon I will continue this discussion by discussing the number of a Gods existing.
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Re: Talk II: Are there any Gods or God?

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:08 pm

Salve Laeve!

I like your way approaching the topic. It is nicely in the tradition of Aristotle who argued exactly in this way.

However there is a false premise right at the beginning. It is the concept of causality that your argument is based on.
The universe is causally inert. This means, there is no causality outside of the universe, because then it would be the universe too. The universe is everything that is causally dependent from each other.
If you imagine a creator outside the universe, he would still need to exist in a world where time and the laws of causality exist. And since this world would be causally connected with ours, it would be part of our universe. Because this is how we define universe. Its beginning is the beginning of causality and its end the end of causality. Since causality needs to have existed during the act of creation, this creation would by definition have happened within the universe.

There is also empirical evidence for my theoretical proof above that creation is a self-contradicting concept.
Since Einstein came up with the theory of Relativity, we know that time and space are inseparable connected. There can be no space without time and vice versa. There is only space-time.
Therefore we know for sure that there is no time external to the universe. Since time and causality are two expressions of the same thing, the possibility of an external cause of the universe has been empirically eliminated.
Without time there would be no change, i.e. neither cause nor effect, but only a static state. So the act of creation would be impossible.
And without the laws of causality that are integral part of our universe, a creator could create the universe, and it would still not happen. Or it would happen spontaneously without him creating it.

In short: There can by definition not be causality external to the universe, because if something is causally connected with us, it is by definition part of our universe.
Any other definition of universe would be arbitrary. This would be like defining the universe only being our planet Earth or our galaxy.

Vale, amice!
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Re: Talk II: Are there any Gods or God?

Postby Appius Claudius Tuscus » Sun Jul 17, 2016 12:55 am

Avete, omnes -

Florii Lupe, your argument reflects my own reasoning, and you have quite succinctly expressed something I have thought to be true for some time now.
This means, there is no causality outside of the universe, because then it would be the universe too. The universe is everything that is causally dependent from each other.

Without animosity to Laevus or even any real urgency for doing so, I'd like to give my thoughts in support of your reply.

How can something entirely separate from the material, active universe influence it? Either (a) it is simply not separate or (b) it only appears (to us) to be separate. If it were universally separate, it would be Void: not-something and not-anything-at-all, immeasurable, never-was, failing to be, not existing, in-extant, and forgotten-before-it-was-ever-not-there. The Universe, perpetually in motion at some level, may in its history cease and restart (from our point of view), but there's no logic in mentally creating a non-thing that could (contrary to logic) start it all up -- unless, again, this non-thing only appears to not be. At the risk of being too verbose, let me quote Punch and Ockham or whoever first jotted down this maxim, that "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem."

Atque omnibus, valete.
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Re: Talk II: Are there any Gods or God?

Postby Tiberius Publicius Gracchus » Wed Aug 03, 2016 6:27 am

This is a very interesting conversation. Personally, I view the Gods as part of the Universe. Apart from what science can determine about the formation of the Universe, I do not believe it is possible to really know how it all began. Personally I find it easier to wrap my head around a Universe that is eternal than one that spontaneously came into existence, space and time and matter coming into being. I have also read some theories that say that our universe is part of a multiverse containing an infinite number of universes, and that there are universes out there that are exactly the same as this one or that contain minor differences. I believe that the Gods that we humans worship are part of this world, and are intimately connected with human civilization. The Gods of Rome are intimately connected with Western civilization, and as it expanded across the globe, we brought them with us, even if we were no longer worshiping them. Statues of the Gods can be found in many major cities across the United States, our civic architecture has been inspired by Roman architecture. In the USA our founding fathers were classicists, knew Latin and ancient Greek, and were partially inspired by the legacy of ancient civilizations when writing our constitution. None of which proves the existence of the Gods, but in my opinion, this is strong evidence that they have been guiding the development of our civilization and continue to do so to this day. In the New York harbor we have a gigantic statue of Libertas, which has become a symbol of our country. Of course, many other countries have the same heritage, and I believe the Gods are guiding them all.

On a more personal level, I get personal benefits from worshiping the Gods. Do ut des, I make offerings to the Gods and in return they grant me favors. For one thing, we got just the right amount of rain this year for my garden. I have been given inspiration when writing my academic papers, and in general have had good luck. Again, this will not prove to a skeptic the existance of the Gods, but it is good enough for me. In the mean time, enjoy the creation story from Ovid's Metamorphosis.

[1] My soul is wrought to sing of forms transformed to bodies new and strange! Immortal Gods inspire my heart, for ye have changed yourselves and all things you have changed! Oh lead my song in smooth and measured strains, from olden days when earth began to this completed time!

[5] Before the ocean and the earth appeared—before the skies had overspread them all—the face of Nature in a vast expanse was naught but Chaos uniformly waste. It was a rude and undeveloped mass, that nothing made except a ponderous weight; and all discordant elements confused, were there congested in a shapeless heap. As yet the sun afforded earth no light, nor did the moon renew her crescent horns; the earth was not suspended in the air exactly balanced by her heavy weight. Not far along the margin of the shores had Amphitrite stretched her lengthened arms,—for all the land was mixed with sea and air. The land was soft, the sea unfit to sail, the atmosphere opaque, to naught was given a proper form, in everything was strife, and all was mingled in a seething mass—with hot the cold parts strove, and wet with dry and soft with hard, and weight with empty void.

[21] But God, or kindly Nature, ended strife—he cut the land from skies, the sea from land, the heavens ethereal from material air; and when were all evolved from that dark mass he bound the fractious parts in tranquil peace. The fiery element of convex heaven leaped from the mass devoid of dragging weight, and chose the summit arch to which the air as next in quality was next in place. The earth more dense attracted grosser parts and moved by gravity sank underneath; and last of all the wide surrounding waves in deeper channels rolled around the globe.

[32] And when this God—which one is yet unknown—had carved asunder that discordant mass, had thus reduced it to its elements, that every part should equally combine, when time began He rounded out the earth and moulded it to form a mighty globe. Then poured He forth the deeps and gave command that they should billow in the rapid winds, that they should compass every shore of earth. he also added fountains, pools and lakes, and bound with shelving banks the slanting streams, which partly are absorbed and partly join the boundless ocean. Thus received amid the wide expanse of uncontrolled waves, they beat the shores instead of crooked banks. At His command the boundless plains extend, the valleys are depressed, the woods are clothed in green, the stony mountains rise. And as the heavens are intersected on the right by two broad zones, by two that cut the left, and by a fifth consumed with ardent heat, with such a number did the careful God mark off the compassed weight, and thus the earth received as many climes.—Such heat consumes the middle zone that none may dwell therein; and two extremes are covered with deep snow; and two are placed betwixt the hot and cold, which mixed together give a temperate clime; and over all the atmosphere suspends with weight proportioned to the fiery sky, exactly as the weight of earth compares with weight of water.

[52] And He ordered mist to gather in the air and spread the clouds. He fixed the thunders that disturb our souls, and brought the lightning on destructive winds that also waft the cold. Nor did the great Artificer permit these mighty winds to blow unbounded in the pathless skies, but each discordant brother fixed in space, although His power can scarce restrain their rage to rend the universe. At His command to far Aurora, Eurus took his way, to Nabath, Persia, and that mountain range first gilded by the dawn; and Zephyr's flight was towards the evening star and peaceful shores, warm with the setting sun; and Boreas invaded Scythia and the northern snows; and Auster wafted to the distant south where clouds and rain encompass his abode.—and over these He fixed the liquid sky, devoid of weight and free from earthly dross.

[69] And scarcely had He separated these and fixed their certain bounds, when all the stars, which long were pressed and hidden in the mass, began to gleam out from the plains of heaven, and traversed, with the Gods, bright ether fields: and lest some part might be bereft of life the gleaming waves were filled with twinkling fish; the earth was covered with wild animals; the agitated air was filled with birds.

[76] But one more perfect and more sanctified, a being capable of lofty thought, intelligent to rule, was wanting still man was created! Did the Unknown God designing then a better world make man of seed divine? or did Prometheus take the new soil of earth (that still contained some godly element of Heaven's Life) and use it to create the race of man; first mingling it with water of new streams; so that his new creation, upright man, was made in image of commanding Gods? On earth the brute creation bends its gaze, but man was given a lofty countenance and was commanded to behold the skies; and with an upright face may view the stars:—and so it was that shapeless clay put on the form of man till then unknown to earth.
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