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Patrick Casanova
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Julie, again, the moment you ask "what made God" you are no longer talking about God - at least not the "God" of traditional monotheism. So at that point, we'd be talking about different things. The question "why is there something and not no-thing" was originally posed and addressed by theists/believers who did *not* presuppose a finite universe, although there are very strong scientific and philosophical arguments against an infinite past, which I think ought to be included in contemporary discussions and which render the "first cause" terminology more fitting. I (along with Hawking, Vilenkin, etc.) would say that time itself had a beginning, which does indeed have some interesting implications for God's internal mental life (logically/explanatorily) "prior" to creation, but I think WLC's discussions of God's relationship to time would help you (see, for example, WLC's book "Time and Eterniity: Exploring God's relationship to Time"). I currently think that the existence of time itself depends on God. So, along with some philosophers, I would say that God is timeless without creation but temporal because of/since creation. I don't think our universe is infinite in the past, but if it were then you'd be right that the "first cause" terminology would be inaccurate. But, as I've noted, the God concept would still be intelligible and would still *not* be susceptible to the question of "what made God?" - Pat
Toggle Commented May 17, 2012 on Something from Nothing at Paranormalia
Hi Julie, Well now we're shifting topics into the applicability and limits of logic, the relevance of the concept of a quantitative infinite, and the motivations behind these kinds of deep reflections. But I was merely trying to clarify concepts in response to your question of "who made God?" In any case, in order to reason successfully at all, we need to follow logical rules of inference and deduction. It seems to me that an actually infinite past would lead to absurdities and self-contradictions, and self-contradictions can't be true. It goes well beyond simply being "unpalatable". I don't think we should dismiss this by saying that it's merely our "human logic". Is there some other kind of logic that would make an actual infinite more plausible?? And either way, as I noted, an actual infinite wouldn't necessarily undermine any of my other clarifications. And again, I jumped into the conversation to clarify, not to argue. >> Isn't it the point that the beginning - the purpose, the cause - simply can't be deduced << Whose point was that? You seem to be taking that for granted, but I think that a "mother beginning" is plausible and can be argued for in an intellectually responsible manner. I don't think that I'm merely an "inflated and insecure human mind desperate to establish palatable answers at all costs". Best - Pat
Toggle Commented May 13, 2012 on Something from Nothing at Paranormalia
Hi again Julie, Regarding the "actual infinte past", I left it aside for two reasons. First, I don't think it has a whole lot of relevance to the basic points I was making (see below). And second, I feared that I was confusing you and didn't want to deal with too much too soon. *But*... if there really is an infinite series of past events, then the concept of God could still be framed in an intelligible way: the infinite chain itself would depend on a single mind, which in turn would not depend on anything else. Broadly, the concept of "God" says that reality (*whatever* we take "reality" to include) is reducible to a single mind, which is itself irreducible. Having said that, I tend to think that an actually complete infinite (as a *quantitative* concept) is logically impossible, at least when describing the *past*. - Pat
Toggle Commented May 13, 2012 on Something from Nothing at Paranormalia
Hi Julie, "The First Cause" was not (and *could not* be) caused by anything else. It cannot depend on anything apart from itself for its existence, otherwise it would not be "the first". It must exist necessarily and it must contain within itself the reason for its own existence (in contrast to our universe, which seemingly didn't *have* to exist and which has a finite past). Let's say we're calling X the first cause, upon which everything else is contingent. If it turns out that X was caused by Y, then X cannot be the first cause. (And in that case, Y may or may not be) Unless we invoke an infinite regress of past successive causes, the chain of prior causes must stop at some "point". That point would be the ground of reality - upon which everything else depends/ upon which everything else is contingent. (Some people think that may be an actual infinte past that may or may not depend on something else to exist, but let's leave that aside for now) That ground of reality can't be caused by (or depend on) something else, otherwise the "something else" would be (or would be closer to being) the ground of reality. Does that make sense? Enter "God", which is the idea that the ground of reality is personal/ a mind. If the ground of reality is *not* personal, then it is *not* God. Also, there may be some super-powerful non-embodied mind "out there", but it can't be called "God" unless it is the ground of reality. I know these terms and concepts can be confusing and I may not be explaining them adequately. Basically, if X was caused by (or depends on) non-X then X can't be God. Does this help at all? - Pat
Toggle Commented May 13, 2012 on Something from Nothing at Paranormalia
@ Julie: If you ask "what made God" then you are no longer talking about "God", which is an idea *about* the first cause/ground of contingency/etc. Many atheists grant a first cause, but it is the attachment of personhood to the first cause that makes it "God". Traditional monotheism says that reality is reducible to a single mind, which is itself irreducible. So asking "what made God" is the same as asking "what caused the first cause", which is incoherent. It's not "special pleading" as some atheists suggest; it's just about us getting conceps right, and the concept of God is (by definition) immune to the question of prior causation. Belivers still need to give reasons for thinking that the first cause is personal, but that's beside the point. More on this here: (a rough draft only jfyi) - Pat
Toggle Commented May 13, 2012 on Something from Nothing at Paranormalia
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May 13, 2012