Aristotle’s Argument From Kinesis: An Introduction

One reason I haven't posted anything new in over two weeks is because we had a really good thread going off the last post. However, that's not the only reason.

Over the past two weeks I've been rethinking positions I'd previously been more or less 100% committed to. At least provisionally, although I am a believer, I still hold that no successful ontological argument for God's existence exists, meaning I do not believe there is an argument that logically requires a skeptic to accept God's existence as the only response. Nonetheless, I agree that at least philosophically, life requires an explanation — and I agree that depending on how they're delineated, First-Cause arguments can certainly be cogent — but I've just never felt they logically required the skeptic to accept God's existence. Today I'm not so sure.

Previously, I had accepted Bertrand Russell's response to them in Why I Am Not A Christian, which echoes John Stuart Mill's before him: if everything that exists needs a cause, and God exists, then what caused God? Who designed the Designer?

From the outset, these objections seem fair, but unfortunately, theists usually reply with the emendation that everything which begins to exist requires a cause. The 'begins to exist' clause effectively absolves God from needing to be supported with reasoning: God is eternal, hence never began to exist, hence needs no explanation. Understandably, skeptics tend to dislike this approach, and typically counter with charges of special pleading: if believers can say God always existed, why can't skeptics say that matter or the universe — or whatever gave rise to matter and the universe — always existed? After all, we know from the laws of thermodynamics that matter cannot be created or destroyed, so why can't matter and energy have existed prior to the singularity in some other form?

If you are at all like I am, you're not enthused with intellectual stalemates. Although the example we just ran represents your average First-Cause discussion, the particular questions and responses suggest misunderstanding on both sides. Let's back up to the part where the believer has asserted a First-Cause argument, and the skeptic has replied with, "What caused God? Who designed the designer?"

These questions suggest hidden premises. To draw them out, believers need to know two things: whether the skeptic accepts the possibility of eternal objects, and whether the skeptic accepts the possibility of infinite regress.

Asking "what caused God" suggests the skeptic possibly accepts the premise that all objects require causes. Yet, if we accept that all objects require causes, it seems we must deny the possibility of eternal objects. This means nothing is allowed to exist uncaused, which establishes an infinite regress, because if everything needs a cause, nothing could ever get started. Further, if we deny the possibility of eternal objects, we must also swallow the seemingly logically impossible premise that something came from nothing, because unless something always existed, then everything came from nothing.

Granted, if we accept the possibility of eternal objects, we also run into serious comprehensive difficulties, but is there any undeniable reason to categorize them as logically impossible? Besides the fact that I can't get my head around the concept, I say no. I shouldn't deny the possibility of something simply on account of my own inability to conceptualize it; that would be an argument from personal incredulity, of little worth to cogency, so it follows that I accept the possibility of eternal objects.

In both Physics and Book Lambda of the Metaphysics, Aristotle delineates his Argument for the Unmoved Mover based on the empirically observable phenomenon of kinesis: the transition of substance from one state into another. Aristotle's argument is based on the premise that all change involves transition from potency to actuality for a given attribute. That is, when a substance changes, it comes to express one or more attributes it previously lacked. Thus, we can say that a seed is in potency for a tree, or potentially a tree: under the correct conditions, it moves from a state of potency to a state of actuality for the attribute of tree. It becomes a tree.

This relationship between potency and actuality is necessarily Boolean; that is, it is logically impossible for a substance to be simultaneously in potency and actuality for the same attribute. A seed cannot simultaneously be in potency and actuality for the attribute of tree, because when it is in one state, by necessity it cannot be in the other. Once a seed moves into actuality for the attribute of tree, it abandons its previous state of potency by expressing that which it previously lacked.

Though it might seem we're belaboring the obvious, this straight-forward observation is what led Thomas Aquinas to his famous dictum: that which moves must be moved by another.

If we say matter and energy were put into motion by an Unmoved Mover of immense magnitude, we conserve the principles of logic as we experience them in the present moment, and we enjoy the security of a real-world analogy…

Observation reveals two fundamental types of object: those that require movers to change, and those that do not. Aristotle refers to the former as intermediate movers and the latter as unmoved movers (Lambda 7, p. 258). Intermediate movers can change, but lack the internal power to do so, thus to change they require an intermediate mover in motion or an unmoved mover. There is a popular saying that in regards to some missing object, "It didn't just grow legs and walk away." This universal axiom illustrates that most if not all people intuitively understand the difference between intermediate movers and unmoved movers.

Rocks, trees and buildings would be examples of intermediate movers, while human beings and animals would be examples of unmoved movers. On their own, rocks, trees and buildings cannot change: they must be moved either by an unmoved mover such as a human or animal, or another intermediate mover already in motion, such as a bulldozer or lightning. Note that lightning and all natural processes are intermediate movers, themselves being objects or phenomena already in motion: lightning can strike rocks, trees and buildings and change them, but lightning requires a mover, in this case, separation of positive and negative charges within a cloud (I acknowledge the scientific debate over precisely what causes lightning).

The clouds which host the separation of positive and negative charges which produce lightning require a mover, too. In fact, all change in the natural world requires a mover of some sort, and quite literally, the history of the current universe is an hierarchy of change. It's mind-boggling to conceive that the singularity of matter and energy was in potency for our current universe long ago, and given the aforementioned considerations, what happens when we traverse this hierarchy of change backwards through time?

It seems we encounter three options: either we say matter and energy moved from some previous state of potency, or we say matter and energy moved itself, or we say matter and energy moved from pure actuality, an Unmoved Mover of immense magnitude. Let's consider the ramifications of each.

1) If we say matter and energy moved from a previous state of potency, such prompts the question of where that state of potency came from. For example, if the matter and energy in our universe came from a pre-existing universe that had the potency to produce or become our current universe, where did that universe come from? Each time we add another previous state of potency, we simply avoid the question of ultimate causality, and unless we introduce an unmoved mover, we encounter an infinite causal regress, which — as far as I know — is thought to be a logical and ontological impossibility.

2) If we say matter and energy always existed and moved itself into the current universe, it seems we violate the previously established logic. As the seed can't express the attribute of tree without being moved by things outside itself — sunlight, water, etc. — it would seem matter and energy couldn't express the attribute of the current universe without being moved by something outside itself. A hammer can't move itself to hit a nail; it must be moved by another. Further, matter is caused because it has potency, and the potency of matter is continually exhausting. Indeed, if left alone, our universe will eventually encounter an entropic heat death. If matter and energy moved itself into our current universe, it appears to have been one big cosmic suicide.

3) If we say matter and energy were put into motion by an Unmoved Mover of immense magnitude, we conserve the principles of logic as we experience them in the present moment, and we enjoy the security of a real-world analogy: as unmoved movers ourselves, we humans are able to introduce complex and intelligent change in the natural world.

…it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regenerator into new and other forms.

-Thomas Jefferson

Accepting 1 entails an infinite regress and merely delays 3, and accepting 2 entails violates observed logic. It seems to me that accepting 3 requires the least amount of additional explanation: the most logical explanation for change or kinesis in the natural world is that it emanated from something that is itself in a state of pure actuality and does not change. It seems to me that for those who wish to avoid infinite regresses and creation ex nihilo, the only way out is to argue that the Unmoved Mover is some unconscious force or entity, and not God.

What do you think?

86 Comments

  1. John Morales says:

    11/13/2009 01:30:47 PM
    I think the first-cause argument is nothing but speculation founded on unsound premises.
    I also think that, even if one were to accept the argument, it doesn’t show that that first cause is any sort of god, or even an intelligent thing, but merely something different to ordinary things; “the thing that made the things for which there is no known maker”.

  2. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    The unmoved mover could simply be the fact that absolute vacuums are unstable, leading to spontaneous creation of energy. The only disagreement between skeptics and believers in this argument is calling the unmoved mover an intelligent decision making entity.

  3. Karla says:

    CL “Further, if we deny the possibility of eternal objects, we must also swallow the seemingly logically impossible premise that something came from nothing, because unless something always existed, then everything came from nothing.”
    I liked that line. I enjoyed this post. Have you read anything by Joe Boot? I enjoyed his book “Why I Still Believe”. This post reminded me of that book though explored this particular argument beyond the scope of what he touched on but he explored it based on epistemology as well.

  4. CL said: we must also swallow the seemingly logically impossible premise that something came from nothing…
    Why? We have no clear idea how the Universe ‘came into existence’ – if in fact that statement has any meaning at all. To say that “something came from nothing” is probably completely misleading and has within it the implication that not only is such a statement inherently flawed (which it may be but not for the reason it is often put forward) but that the *only* alternative is to postulate the existence of God.
    I certainly have no idea how the Universe came to be. I don’t know if anyone know’s this. In the mean time I do not feel that my ignorance (or our ignorance) on the subject necessarily requires that we fill the hole with God.

  5. Sung Jun says:

    I recently had a debate on a math forum about what a “good” way to explain why x to the zeroth power is equal to 1. The exchange was back and forth and long and winding, but suffice it to say, my explanation relied on a concept derived from multiplicative identity that I call “unity,” the implicit 1 in every multiplication that binds all numbers together (cf. empty product.)
    Put briefly,
    x³ = 1 ∙ xxx
    x² = 1 ∙ xx
    x¹ = 1 ∙ x
    etc.
    It follows that, if you take away all the terms in a multiplication, as in x to the zeroth power, you are just left with that 1.
    I faced quite a bit of controversy for explaining exponents like this. My detractors accused me of not really revealing any important insights into the concept, saying that I had insufficient grounds for postulating the implicit 1, etc. But I maintained that I needed no further proof, for it is a self-evident truth that all numbers are multiples of 1, the unit — the “unity” if you will.
    What does this have to do with the current discussion? Well, it took me a little lateral thinking, but a short time later I entertained the notion that this argument for the implicit 1 could be used as an argument that logically necessitates the existence of, if not God, at least some Entity that, when you take away the universe (or universes, as in the quantum multiverse theory), all you are left with is that Entity.
    Put another way, ontologically speaking, I’m (sort of) equating God with existence itself — God as the “multiplicative identity” of the universe(s). Now, I acknowledge the possibility (heck, fact, even) that I have some oversights in thinking this way. But, it seems logically cogent on the surface. In mathematics, if you reject the existence of the number 1 as the all-unifying number that accompanies every multiplication, then the concept of all other numbers falls apart. Similarly, existence cannot be rejected without making everything else incoherent.
    Now, as I suggested with my “if not God … ” caveat, this says nothing about the exact nature of the Entity that the argument relates. Nevertheless, I feel it leaves open a nice slot that cannot be willed or reasoned away (it is based on a mathematical axiom, after all) for some all-powerful Creator.
    How this fits into the argument from change is a detail I’m sketchy on, but I’m sure a little ideation on it can’t hurt. Your thoughts?

  6. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Also, let me add, that saying “something coming from nothing” being a seemingly logical impossibility is still present regardless of the existence of an unmoved mover, you can’t get away from it, and whether you like it or not, you have to accept it unless you postulate that energy itself is uncreated, an unmoved mover. Calling the universal origin God still leaves you with creation ex nihilo, just a more complicated version than the alternative of a spontaneous boom.

  7. cl says:

    Thanks for the input, everyone. Regarding comment #3, pardon the informality but I don’t know who to address my reply to! The words of mine this person seemed to take issue with were,

    ..if we deny the possibility of eternal objects, we must also swallow the seemingly logically impossible premise that something came from nothing, because unless something always existed, then everything came from nothing. (cl, from the OP)

    The reasoning behind the claim is simple: if there was ever a state in which nothing existed, then quite literally, anything which came after would have come from nothing. I’m open to other options, I just don’t see what they can be – and that I can’t see what they can be (if they exist) isn’t my reasoning for accepting the Unmoved Mover as the best conclusion. IOW, this isn’t “filling the hole with God,” it’s following an argument to its logical conclusions. If you can make “something from nothing” or “infinite regress” sound more acceptable, I’m all ears.
    Karla,

    Have you read anything by Joe Boot? I enjoyed his book “Why I Still Believe”.

    I think I’ve heard of the book, but I haven’t read it.

    This post reminded me of that book though explored this particular argument beyond the scope of what he touched on but he explored it based on epistemology as well.

    Personally, I’ve never cared much for thinking about First-Cause arguments. I’d always considered them a wash. It’s only these past weeks that I’ve begun to rethink them, so naturally I’ll have renewed interest in other people’s opinions on them. Maybe I’ll check this guy out.
    Dominic,

    The unmoved mover could simply be the fact that absolute vacuums are unstable, leading to spontaneous creation of energy. The only disagreement between skeptics and believers in this argument is calling the unmoved mover an intelligent decision making entity.

    Well, that’s why I closed the OP with, “..for those who wish to avoid infinite regresses and creation ex nihilo, the only way out is to argue that the Unmoved Mover is some unconscious force or entity, and not God.” Essentially, you’ve opted for the “something from nothing” option. I don’t accept that because “nothing” lacks potency. Don’t you think saying that something comes from nothing violates known observation and pre-established logic?
    FYI, I don’t say that QM is an instance of “something coming from nothing.”
    Lastly, I think we can make a strong argument that the Unmoved Mover must be an intelligent, decision-making entity.

    Also, let me add, that saying “something coming from nothing” being a seemingly logical impossibility is still present regardless of the existence of an unmoved mover, you can’t get away from it, and whether you like it or not, you have to accept it unless you postulate that energy itself is uncreated, an unmoved mover.

    I’m not so sure. Putting the “uncreated energy” hypothesis on hold, if we have an Unmoved Mover, “something” didn’t come from “nothing” – “something” came from the Unmoved Mover. This “something” may be part of the Unmoved Mover (as pantheism describes), or maybe the Unmoved Mover has the sheer ability to bring “something” into existence at will.
    Really, what I’m positing isn’t that far off from your “uncreated energy” idea. What I’m suggesting is an “uncreated energy source.” It seems the next step for us would be to offer our best case for the nature of the Unmoved Mover. What do you suppose the Unmoved Mover could be if not an intelligent, decision-making entity?
    Sung,
    Thank you for your most interesting contribution. I love “lateral thinking.”

    I recently had a debate on a math forum about what a “good” way to explain why x to the zeroth power is equal to 1.

    Your logic makes sense to me.

    What does this have to do with the current discussion? Well, it took me a little lateral thinking, but a short time later I entertained the notion that this argument for the implicit 1 could be used as an argument that logically necessitates the existence of, if not God, at least some Entity that, when you take away the universe (or universes, as in the quantum multiverse theory), all you are left with is that Entity.

    As soon as you explained the “x to the zeroth power is equal to 1” thing, I understood the analogy. In fact, it would seem what you say must be true, because any exponent of anything not greater than 0 must be 0. That’s why something can’t come from nothing. An ‘exponent’ is a ‘power of’ – but a ‘power of’ needs something to interact with in the first place. An absolute vacuum lacks potency.

    ..this says nothing about the exact nature of the Entity that the argument relates.

    Well, I wouldn’t exactly say it says nothing. In fact, I’d say it says quite a bit. For example, it says the Entity in question is pure actuality. Still, I think I agree with you in spirit, if you mean only to say that the logical necessity of the Entity says nothing about which of our particular religions are true. If I misunderstood you, I apologize.

    Nevertheless, I feel it leaves open a nice slot that cannot be willed or reasoned away (it is based on a mathematical axiom, after all) for some all-powerful Creator.

    I agree. I’d never heard the argument from multiplicative identity before, and I think it strengthens the original argument, and adds another real-world analog (the axiom).
    As an aside, I noticed you used the phrase “implicit one.” If you didn’t know already, you might find it interesting that Hindus refer to the ultimate God-principle as Brahman, which translates to that One.

  8. Sung Jun says:

    Heh, thank you, cl. I discovered your blog on a random web search and saw it as an oasis amidst a vast desert of seemingly intractable theist-atheist debate. I had this argument in my head and thought about sending it to you,
    but never thought up of a good way to present it. Your latest post touched on ontological arguments and I decided it a good opportunity to share my two cents.
    When I said it says nothing about the Entity’s nature, I was referring to specific doctrines concerning Its purpose, plans for Its creations, etc. But that’s okay; I had not considered the other way of interpreting my statement, so no apology needed.

  9. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    “Nothing” lacks potency.
    What if, just what if, mind you, that wasn’t true? Like I said originally, if absolute vacuums are unstable and result in spontaneous particle formation, then true, absolute nothing, would in fact be potent.
    I know you’re trying to be as original as you can here, but no matter where you try going, it always turns out that someone else has been there first.
    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/vacuum.html

  10. Tommykey says:

    I’ve thought about the “something from nothing” idea sometimes (then again, who doesn’t) and one thing that occurred to me is that I can’t even grasp the concept of nothingness. In fact, I don’t even think there can be such a thing as nothing. I’m not quite sure how to articulate it clearly. When some people try to imagine nothing, they think of an infinite darkness. But even darkness is something rather than nothing. For there to be truly nothing, there has be a total absence of existence and completely devoid of any descriptive quality whatsoever. Nothing can’t be emptiness either, because emptiness is still something simply by virtue of being a state that can be described. In order for there to truly be nothing, even emptiness cannot exist.
    As for Sung’s equation above, what if everything that exists is 1?

  11. Sung Jun says:

    On the surface, that looks to be a fair question for my argument. However, it commits the error that one can point to any one thing in the universe or the universe itself and call that the Entity of the multiplicative identity. Clearly, the universe is a multiplicity of distinct entities. Are all numbers equal to 1 because of its presence in all multiplications? It’s a non sequitur.
    But pretending the above reasoning isn’t already an obstacle, one still couldn’t conclude the destruction of said grounded entity would be the destruction of existence, for even if the universe didn’t exist, you still would be left with the Boolean property of existence itself — the multiplicative identity of 1. When you have something, you have 1 of that thing. And when nothing exists, you still have 1 of nothing (i.e. 0 = 1 ∙ 0).

  12. Sung Jun says:

    To make my own stance clear, I am a pantheist; I equate God with the Universe. I find beauty in the natural world and, in the style of Isaac Newton, seek to prove God through studying Him as the Universe through natural, scientific explanations. I don’t hold an explicit belief in a personal creator deity, but am open to the idea of one. Philosophically, I find it more inspiring to think I am part of God rather than one of His loyal subjects hobbling through life under His command.
    That established, I therefore can say I make my argument not because of any personal desire for there to be a god, but because I have very straightforward logical reasons why I find these arguments compelling. I may be mistaken; I am not arrogant. But, in my experience, math never tells a lie, and when it does seem to tell a lie, it’s because you misinterpret it.

  13. scott says:

    Hi cl,
    Some very interesting ideas. I have a couple of problems with your 3 choices though. Firstly choice number 1:
    I personally have no problem with belief in an infinite regress. I don’t see the universe as having boundaries in the first place. Time doesn’t exist unless it is being observed. I’m quite happy to believe that what we can observe in the universe at this very moment in time is just the tiniest tiniest tiniest fraction of fraction of a fraction of a gigantic explosion of matter and energy. This explosion could have occurred anywhere; perhaps we exist inside 1 single atom that an advanced race split. Perhaps we exist in the lit fart of a drunken alien frat boy. Perhaps we just exist.
    Secondly, I disagree with your 2nd choice:
    I firstly do not believe that human beings or animals are ‘unmoved movers’. Our choices and actions are shaped by brain chemistry; they are shaped by situation and upbringing. Our actions are shaped by the physical creature that is us and we ourselves are shaped by EVERYTHING that exists in the universe. You might be asked to choose a number at random. I would argue that if it were possible to scan and analyse every molecule within your body it would be possible to deduce what number you would choose. Simply because your choice is determined by the shape/chemical make-up/consistency of your brain.
    Thirdly I would argue that there are natural forces in the world that move objects from one state to another all of the time without the need for an ‘unmoved mover’. A seed falls from a tree because gravity acts on it. I don’t see why the universe needs to have a ‘prime mover’ when in fact the universe existing could quite easily be a natural law. In the same way that we have electricity, magnetism, gravity, the interplay between different particles inside atoms, etc, why couldn’t LAW NUMBER 1 be: things exist?
    Your third choice is simply choice 1 with a ‘prime mover’ chucked in to stop the infinite regress. Just because we cannot conceive of the infinite does not mean it can’t occur. We can quite happily accept the infinite when we look at mathematics because it doesn’t ask us to actually comprehend the vastness of the numbers we are dealing with. It is almost impossible to talk of an infinite universe and try to steer away from attempting to actually comprehend what infinity means. That doesn’t mean it can’t exist.
    I love contemplating the infinite. Sometimes I think I’m almost there but it slips away! Very nice read cl, I personally disagree that all that exists requires a cause so I’ve never really paid much attention to creator arguments other than
    I have to disagree with Sung on the whole 1 = ‘entity’ thing. Yes, the number one can be implicit inside any equation, but it is not necessary. I do not need to write ‘2 X 2 = 4 X 1’. The one is put into the equation for no real purpose and it is not needed for the equation to make sense.
    In mathematics it is usually the task to give an answer in simplest terms, if we are calculating 2 x 2 we don’t end up with ‘2 x 2 = 20/5’. Sure, the answer is right but it is not in its simplest terms. In much the same way, why would it be ok to write ‘everything = the universe x entity’.
    Your argument does not necessitate an entity, it doesn’t show why the entity is an implicit necessity in the same way that the number 1 is. It just postulates that the entity ‘could’ exist as something that is a multiple of the entire universe. Why this is necessary still remains a mystery however. (Unless I completely missed your point in there)

  14. Sung Jun says:

    That still doesn’t address the underlying point. How can you say that 2 ∙ 2 ≠ 1 ∙ 2 ∙ 2? Or even 2 ∙ 2 ≠ 1 ∙ 20/5? I have indeed shown it “necessary” in the same way because, in much the same way, take away everything and you are still left with that thing.
    The existence of it cannot be willed or reasoned away. It being based on a mathematical axiom, one will always contradict oneself every time one attempts to “refute” it, because one uses the axiom itself to try to disprove it. And saying that “it is usually the task to give an answer in simplest terms” is special pleading.
    As for the reasoning that “everything = universe ∙ entity” … it’s actually more involved than that. Because the universe is (and this should be quite clear from observation alone) a multiplicity of entities, I say that things in it require a basic “unit” to make sense, in much the same way as all numbers require 1 to make sense. This Entity is simply not grounded; it is existence itself.
    What It is exactly, I don’t know. But it is clear to me that, as I’ve repeatedly stated, no matter how much you take away, you would still be left with it. Tommykey actually touched on this point with his paragraph regarding how nothingness is always a something.
    This can be shown with concise logic; if it exists in spite of the existence or nonexistence of everything else (non-contingency), then it necessarily exists.

  15. Tommykey says:

    Tommykey actually touched on this point with his paragraph regarding how nothingness is always a something.
    Thanks, Sung. I was worried that I wasn’t being coherent.

  16. Tommykey says:

    To make my own stance clear, I am a pantheist; I equate God with the Universe. I find beauty in the natural world and, in the style of Isaac Newton, seek to prove God through studying Him as the Universe through natural, scientific explanations. I don’t hold an explicit belief in a personal creator deity, but am open to the idea of one. Philosophically, I find it more inspiring to think I am part of God rather than one of His loyal subjects hobbling through life under His command.
    Though I am an atheist, the concept of a God I can grasp is similar, though I would refrain from assigning a gender to it. I even did a post, though I don’t have time to link to it now, as I am rattling this off before I head to work, in which I posited a God that was a god of discovery. Since the universe is virtually infinite, it must be so for a reason, and since it would take untold eons to explore it all, then we can make it as part of our purpose to explore it. On the other hand, it strikes me as absurd to think that God will destroy the Andromeda Galaxy after Jesus Christ returns to Earth at some unspecified time in the future to judge the living and the dead. Then there was no point in having an Andromeda Galaxy at all.

  17. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    @Sung
    I don’t think anyone is contesting your proof of x^0 = 1, only that it isn’t useful.
    Because it also suffers from it’s own sort of infinite regress. x^0 = 1 x 1 x 1 x 1… and so on.
    Having “one of” any set also means that you can have one of a set of 1. The implicit 1 is really an infinite set of implicit 1’s.

  18. Lifeguard says:

    Cl:
    First, this is one of the better, more interesting posts I’ve read in quite a while. Two, I am open to the fact that I might have misunderstood parts of it. Three, I’m impressed with the comment thread here. Four, I’m feel a little rushed to join the fray as the thread’s getting longer and I don’t want to miss the boat, so, five, bear with me:
    1) “Granted, if we accept the possibility of eternal objects, we also run into serious comprehensive difficulties, but is there any undeniable reason to categorize them as logically impossible? Besides the fact that I can’t get my head around the concept, I say no. I shouldn’t deny the possibility of something simply on account of my own inability to conceptualize it; that would be an argument from personal incredulity, of little worth to cogency, so it follows that I accept the possibility of eternal objects.”
    Can’t one say the exact same thing regarding the “seemingly logically impossible premise that something came from nothing?” Should I deny the possibility simply because I’m incredulous of it? I’m not stating that I believe something came from nothing, but I do wonder if our idea of “nothing” means little more than a perceptual lack of massive objects in a universe that is literally made out of matter and energy as opposed to the opposite of the universe itself (I wish I were stoned right now).
    In other words, “nothing” is not an alternative to the universe, it is a state of things inside the universe. Nor could nothing have existed “before” the universe, because time is a property of the universe– a relationship of objects and events inside of the universe. To even ask what existed before the universe would be like saying I broke my hand a year before I was born.
    2) “This relationship between potency and actuality is necessarily Boolean; that is, it is logically impossible for a substance to be simultaneously in potency and actuality for the same attribute.”
    Of course, but isn’t it logically possible an object to be simultaneously in the state of potency (for one attribute) and actuality (for another atribute)? In other words, isn’t it logically possible for the entire universe– itself just matter and energy– to be constantly in flux between potency and actuality? Being and becoming? Isn’t it at least logically possible for that process of flux to be eternal? Without beginning or end?
    3) “If we say matter and energy always existed and moved itself into the current universe, it seems we violate the previously established logic. As the seed can’t express the attribute of tree without being moved by things outside itself — sunlight, water, etc. — it would seem matter and energy couldn’t express the attribute of the current universe without being moved by something outside itself.”
    I’m not sure the analogy holds, because neither sunlight nor water are eternal objects of unmoved movers. They themselves are manifestations of matter and energy. The relationship between the sun and a seed are only relationships between an unmoved mover and an intermediate mover relatively speaking. Maybe what I’m getting at here is the difference between causation and transformation.

  19. Gideon says:

    Christ said it best. “Unless you become like a child, you cannot enter the Kingdom.”
    Obviously I’ve paraphrased this, but you get the jist, don’t you? The evidence is here, before you. Look how you’re all running around in circles debating nothing.
    Speaking of which, nothing IS nothing, and we wouldn’t be here talking about nothing if nothing existed. God, according to Himself, has always existed. Good enough? You don’t have to accept that, you can go the Darwin way, but, sooner or later, you’re going to be confronted with the same question. Where DID matter come from? Well, if it’s always existed, then, why not a deity?
    It’s vain even discussing the issue. We clearly have no influence on nothing, or anything of any such magnitude. We aren’t God, we don’t have His mind, and we can barely run our own lives, never mind the universe! It might be amusing seeing what tangents we can arrive at, but, in the end, we’re going to die and leave even more questions for our progeny to deal with.
    No matter what happens, or what constitutes reality, I’m going to die. I can’t change the physical properties of the universe or time, and so that gives me the luxury of leaving it all in the hands of Him Who can. If that’s blind faith, so be it. Like I’ve quoted Pascal on, many times, I’ve lost nothing but a detrimental former lifestyle by accepting Christianity, and, if it turned out to be all a big lie, I’ve still lost nothing.
    Some call that blindness, even laziness. I call it a win-win scenario.

  20. cl says:

    Some good exchanges, folks. I still need to get back to scott and Lifeguard and Gideon, [Hi Gideon!!] and for that I apologize, but for now I could only get to these:
    Dominic,

    What if, just what if, mind you, that wasn’t true?

    Hey, I’m totally open to the idea, as I am to the idea of infinite regress. I checked the link you provided. The best analogy seemed to be QM which is why I prefaced a previous comment with the assertion that QM doesn’t represent a genuine instance of something coming from nothing. The writer may have some good ideas, but they haven’t structured the argument such that their central point is concise and clearly laid out. Or maybe I missed it. Either way, if you’d care to clarify, I’m interested.
    Sung,

    I discovered your blog on a random web search and saw it as an oasis amidst a vast desert of seemingly intractable theist-atheist debate.

    Well thanks. I consider that a compliment of the highest regard. Though not everyone believes it, I do try my best. As far as the argument goes, I meant to mention that I wonder if X^0 = X might actually be correct. Since by invoking the zeroth power we’re not multiplying X against itself, then provided the initial X is greater than 0 to begin with, it would seem that X to the zeroth power leaves us with that unchanged X. Then again like I said I’m no mathematician, just thinking.
    Tommykey,
    Regarding nothingness,

    ..I can’t even grasp the concept of nothingness. In fact, I don’t even think there can be such a thing as nothing. I’m not quite sure how to articulate it clearly.

    I am right there with you. That’s why I enjoyed Sung’s analogy so much: provided that X > 0 to begin with, X^0 = X (if what I just described to Sung is correct).
    Regarding your subsequent comments,

    Since the universe is virtually infinite, it must be so for a reason, and since it would take untold eons to explore it all, then we can make it as part of our purpose to explore it. On the other hand, it strikes me as absurd to think that God will destroy the Andromeda Galaxy after Jesus Christ returns to Earth at some unspecified time in the future to judge the living and the dead. Then there was no point in having an Andromeda Galaxy at all.

    Although I enjoyed the “discoverer God” idea you described, I have to disagree on both points here because neither conclusion flows necessarily from the premise. Though you preface with the quantifier virtually which may allow for correctness, the universe as we know it is headed for heat death and cannot be infinite. Also, even if God did destroy the Andromeda Galaxy after Jesus Christ returned to Earth at some unspecified time in the future to judge the living and the dead, that doesn’t entail that there was no point creating an Andromeda Galaxy at all, on several levels: it could be that all galaxies are necessary on an elementary (combinatory) level. Stars – of which galaxies are composed – quite literally represent element factories. There could be all sorts of reasonable “needs” for the Andromeda Galaxy. And who knows? Maybe God’s doing similar things over there. Point is, we can’t just say God’s destruction of that which God’s created means there was no point in the original creation. Even on Earth, we know there is a time and place for all things. We destroy what we create all the time, and often precisely because the point in creating it was reached. So it would be if God destroyed the entire universe, IMO.
    [METADEBATE] – By the way, Tommykey, I’m going to get back to that other thread on Philly’s, to try and clear up that misunderstanding, or at least better articulate what it was I was trying to say.

  21. Lifeguard says:

    “Since by invoking the zeroth power we’re not multiplying X against itself, then provided the initial X is greater than 0 to begin with, it would seem that X to the zeroth power leaves us with that unchanged X.”
    Ditto, I think.
    The “implicit 1” doesn’t change the identity of the quotient, right? X^0 really means that all you are doing is not multiplying X by itself (or multiplying it by itself zero times) which means it equals “X.”
    Although, given that X^2 means “X x X” then, “X^1” would be “X,” in which case I’m not even sure what “X^0” would mean, or even why I’m contributing to this branch of the discussions since I’m not a mathematician either!

  22. Sung Jun says:

    cl and Lifeguard,
    x to the zeroth power is an empty product, the result you get when you take away all terms in a multiplication. Whenever you multiply anything, be it 5.2 ∙ 2.3 or 5² or whatever, there’s always the identity — 1 — involved as a factor. In these two examples, they are in actuality 1 ∙ 5.2 ∙ 2.3 and 1 ∙ 5 ∙ 5, respectively. The product of no factors is always 1.
    Hence, my analogy to the discussion that, no matter how much you take away from the universe or reality — take away everything, even — , all you are left with is that Entity, that something … ness.
    Dominic,
    I’ve addressed the infinite regress charge in my original debate as thus: it is only infinite regress if you don’t actually ground it in anything. Since an arbitrary amount of 1s doesn’t change its value from 1, then it still is only 1. Only when it gets to be at least infinitesimally less than or infinitesimally greater than 1 does it change itself due to arbitrary amounts factors (oh, and by the way, in such an instance, 1 is still there!).
    As an interesting aside, it is for related reasons that 1 isn’t considered a prime number, at least not by the mathematicians I know; per the definition of a prime number (only common factors being itself and 1; e.g. 13, 23, 89, etc.), 1 fails this test because the only factor is itself. If we were to accept 1 as prime, it by definition being a factor of all numbers, then we would be forced to come to the absurd conclusion that no other numbers are prime.

  23. Scott says:

    Sung,
    “I’ve addressed the infinite regress charge in my original debate as thus: it is only infinite regress if you don’t actually ground it in anything. Since an arbitrary amount of 1s doesn’t change its value from 1, then it still is only 1. Only when it gets to be at least infinitesimally less than or infinitesimally greater than 1 does it change itself due to arbitrary amounts factors (oh, and by the way, in such an instance, 1 is still there!).”
    So effectively you are arguing that adding one 1 to any equation is ok, but you dismiss the idea of adding an infinite number of 1’s because adding any arbitrary amound doesn’t change it’s value. Couldn’t you likewise argue that adding any ‘1’ to an equation as a multiple is likewise completely arbitrary because it doesn’t change the value?

  24. Sung Jun says:

    I have also already addressed this further objection, believe it or not. It is not arbitrary, because no matter what you say about the multiplication, there is always that 1 in the multiplication. If you deny the existence of the 1, you effectively say that x ≠ 1 ∙ x, which is categorically false.
    Put it another way, 1 has a unique privilege in this respect because it cannot change itself, but is a necessary accompanying feature to every number. Every number is a multiple of this unit; if this unit did not exist, then the numbers wouldn’t make sense … make sense?

  25. Lifeguard says:

    “If you deny the existence of the 1, you effectively say that x ≠ 1 ∙ x, which is categorically false.”
    I do not see how “x ≠ 1 ∙ x” follows as the logical consequence of denying the “implicit 1,” especially since the “1” is only implicit besides the fact that it’s implicit on both sides of the equation. It’s a mere “implication” that quantity “x” actually exists on both sides of the equation, that there is “x” quantity of something.
    Methinks Scott’s point is that although the “implicit 1” doesn’t ADD a quantity to the equation, but rather IDENTIFIES THE EXISTENCE of that quantity on both sides. Therefore, and correct me if I’m wrong Scott, it doesn’t serve as a terribly useful mathematical model for arguing the existence of god.
    If I’m reading you correcly, Sung Jun, you’re suggesting that this “implicit 1” illustrates a kind of “God = existence” concept, but that strikes me as a little weird (or at least underdeveloped in this thread) as an argument.
    I’d be interested in checking out your blog if you have more on this.

  26. Sung Jun says:

    It follows as the logical consequence because, if you didn’t deny the existence of it, you would be forced to concede its existence; ergo, if you deny its existence, you would be implicitly denying, well, that the number x that the 1 is associated with is not equal to x, clearly violating the well-agreed-upon axiom of identity. You can argue all day long in circles, but existence exists. Just because a concept “sounds weird” does not make it “not useful” for revealing the Entity I describe.
    I know very well the first part of the above paragraph is going to face naive charges of “false dichotomy!”, but we’re talking basic math and logic here. There are no “degrees of correctness” in math; an answer is right or it isn’t. The 1 can’t be made to go away because of illusory infinite regress; it can’t be made to go away because of illusory superfluousness; and it certainly can’t be made to go away just because it runs in opposition with our worldview.

  27. Sung Jun says:

    Whether one accepts/grasps my argument depends, in the end, on one’s philosophical lean. But that right there is already a noteworthy victory for the agnostic and theist (and everyone else with a stance on God) camps, for the discussion has shifted from a debate of science to a debate of philosophy. The science (math) simply does not favor atheism. The best objection I’ve come across against my argument thus far is one made by my atheist friend that goes, “math can’t be used to solve everything,” to which I reply, “but then, math is the most reliable way we have of describing reality.”

  28. Sung Jun says:

    To me, we are not going to get anywhere looking at the formulas and numbers involved and arguing in fallacious circles with special pleading about why this and that is superfluous, infinitely regressing, etc. It’s a mathematical truth that will not go away.
    The better question to ask is, does math describe all of reality, or just part of it? I personally think that math ultimately describes all of reality, but I’m sure there’s an equally plausible philosophical stance in which math only describes part of it. As far as I’m concerned, that’d be a more fruitful direction to take the argument.

  29. Lifeguard says:

    “[I]f you deny its existence, you would be implicitly denying, well, that the number x that the 1 is associated with is not equal to x, clearly violating the well-agreed-upon axiom of identity.”
    I understand that, but it seems like some kind of a tautology to me, and that strikes me as a mathematical illustration of a concept of what God is (or might be)– namely, God is existence– than an argument. As I see it, your basic point is that “Existence implies God,” and, while that’s a very interesting theological point, I don’t see how it’s an argument or a proof.
    4 = 1 x 4
    Of course. The implicit one only tells you you have one of some thing, in this case “a four.” You haven’t added a new quantity, you’ve just indicated the quantity that’s already there.
    The “implicit 1” in equation about whether God caused the universe is simply the brute fact that the universe exists, and I don’t yet see how it supports a contention that existence is God or that God exists.
    Incidentally, I didn’t to be dismissive by my choice of words in my last comment, and I apologize if you took it that way.

  30. Lifeguard says:

    Let me put it another way.
    The fact that math describes the reality of 1=1x only describes the existence of an “x” rather than telling us why and how an “x” exists. All that math can really do is describe THAT “x” exists.
    I don’t see how math can possibly favor atheism or theism.

  31. Sung Jun says:

    Indeed, it doesn’t describe the exact nature of whatever Entity it alludes to. It only pays lip service to the mere existence of that Entity. Whether this Entity is God, or some other Wholeness, I do not know. What is clear (to me, at least) is that its existence is entailed regardless of whether we exist or not, and that bears consideration.
    In this case, it doesn’t favor atheism because, if there indeed is an Entity that fulfills this function, then the atheist has either the option of rejecting that this entity is God or rejecting the existence of such a slot altogether. I have shown the absurdity of the latter position, and the former position, while temptingly up for rumination on on the surface, faces some challenges.
    Most theists don’t (or, at the very least, shouldn’t) have this dilemma; it simply corroborates what they’ve believed all along, namely something that isn’t contingent upon the universe’s existence or lack thereof. The Entity that precedes all entities, in other words. Still, this may or may not be the God of Abraham that Christians know and love, and it indeed could conceivably be anything one would please.
    But then you have to ask yourself this: what Entity that we currently describe has the attributes of total indestructibility and indivisibility? No, not matter and energy, because, if those can be taken away, you’re still left with that “nothing that is a something.” God, on the other hand, fits the bill, and, to use an overused adjective in the context of theology, perfectly, in fact.
    I don’t claim this is a definitive proof of anything; that’d be foolish and unscientific of me. But I can at least claim that it makes the idea of a God no longer absurd from the get-go, given the large body of strong atheistic argument. The questions (on this thread of discussion) therefore become: what is this Entity? How does it relate to the causation of the universe? etc.
    However, I should note that my side statement about mathematical philosophy remains an important consideration, if not prerequisite, to further discussion on “mathematical God (or Entity).”

  32. Lifeguard says:

    “Indeed, it doesn’t describe the exact nature of whatever Entity it alludes to. It only pays lip service to the mere existence of that Entity.”
    Methinks this is the crux of our disagreement. The only entity the implicit 1 alludes to is existence of “x,” not the existence of some other entity– the implicit 1 is nothing more than the quantity of “x” which really makes it no different in function than an explicit 4 insofar as it doesn’t refer or allude to anything beyond “x.” Unless, of course, you’re claiming existence itself is an entity that exists in which case existence carries it’s own implicit 1 which puts us back at infinite regress, no?

  33. Sung Jun says:

    Again, it is tempting to resort to an infinite regress argument because existence seems to beget itself over and over. However, since existence never changes itself, the charge of infinite regress is vacuous. This Entity is distinct from any other value (except itself); it is the “unit,” all things are multiples of it. The number 4 can never “just” be 4 … what is it “4” of? Similarly, the number 2.53322156 can never be “just” 2.53322156, it has to be 2.53322156 of something else.

  34. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    I’m still failing to see how there’s an actual debate here… Sung, has anyone actually disagreed with you that there is an implicit 1 in all multiplication?

  35. Sung Jun says:

    I don’t know, really. Has anyone actually disagreed with me on that point? I think any disagreement that can be inferred from this argument lies in how I apply my math to the real world, and whether or not the application is valid.
    Hence, my desire to shift the discussion to mathematical philosophy rather than aimlessly wandering the seven seas of numbers in a vain search for an answer. Looking at math all by itself is never going to give you an answer; math must be interpreted in order to be applied to the real world. To what degree it is interpreted to draw conclusions in the real world is what the new thread puts into question.
    That being said, there are implications for accepting the validity of my math at face value. And those implications, horror of horrors, force us to think outside the box. Just think … what if ontology were reduced to a rational understanding rather than an endless sea of tautological drivel?

  36. Lifeguard says:

    I get that, but the same is true of the implicit 1, no? It is not “just 1.” It is one of some quantity. I’m not arguing the math here, only it’s relevance or prabative value when it comes to an argument for God’s existence. Essentially, it strikes me as stating “God exists because the universe exists” based on a mathematical description of the sentence itself.
    Although I’d be interested in pursuing this discussion, but I’m a little worried we might be derailing this thread a bit, so you may have the last word if you like.
    Either way, it’s been interesting, and I look forward to reading some more of your stuff.

  37. Sung Jun says:

    Yeah, it is kind of going off on a bit of tangent from the original topic of the post. So, in closing:
    It is not that “Entity exists because the universe exists,” but rather, “Entity exists irrespective of the universe’s existence.” If you have the unit, the number that cannot change itself, is it necessary to have all the other numbers?
    It is, in fact, the case that all numbers can be described with just multiple (and partial) units. The symbols we apply for higher (and lower) numbers are merely symbols applied to alterations to the unit’s quantity. 1 tally mark and 1 half of a tally mark are collectively equal to 1.5, making the entire number line, therefore, an emergent property of counting the unit.
    To make the whole point of my idea crystal clear, I say that, in a similar manner, the universe and all entities in it are collectively an emergent property of the unit being multiplied. Although this is an awkward analogy to make using classical physics (“how do you equate numbers with entities?!”), it may very well fit into the probabilistic nature of quantum physics in some way.
    But that goes outside the scope of this discussion. *Chuckles*

  38. cl says:

    Sorry for lagging everyone. For now, I can only address comment 12. I’ll come back Lifey, sorry to keep puttin’ ya on hold. I also want to get back to Sung’s argument.
    scott,
    Hello back. Regarding your objection 1, well… my mind’s not entirely closed to the idea of infinite regress. I’m not adamantly rejecting it here, just making the case that 3 is truly the correct option for atheists and theists alike. I really do want somebody to be able to explain the idea to me, but currently I reject it, as do computers and math. Also, remember that whichever side of the “makes sense to me” coin we’re on, what matters is whether the idea parses with logic. I’m claiming infinite regress doesn’t parse with logic, which is a bit of a higher-stakes claim than the “I don’t accept infinite regress because it doesn’t make sense” position.
    I don’t really require that the universe have boundaries, and neither does the argument. There are at least two distinct ways to use the word time: the ‘time’ that is relative to the observer, that we both seem to agree doesn’t exist in actuality; and ‘time’ as entropic progression, which I’d say is actually quite real.

    ..perhaps we exist inside 1 single atom that an advanced race split.

    I’ve thought along those lines and it’s fascinating to me, too.
    Regarding your objection 2, I knew someone was going to go there, and I was inches from trying to deal with that in the OP but I felt it was already growing a bit long. You said,

    I firstly do not believe that human beings or animals are ‘unmoved movers’. Our choices and actions are shaped by brain chemistry; they are shaped by situation and upbringing.

    We could have a discussion about whether choices and actions are shaped by brain chemistry, but for now let’s assume I completely agree with your statement here, in the same manner that you yourself interpret it. By unmoved mover, I’m trying to remain in the context of movement or motion or the ability to induce change in the natural world. Humans and other biological organisms inherently possess those abilities: unlike a rock, they do not require an external impetus to induce direct change or movement in the natural world. A rock cannot walk to the corner store; we can. That our actions and thoughts are shaped or influenced by external factors doesn’t really conflict with unmoved mover as I’m using it.

    Thirdly I would argue that there are natural forces in the world that move objects from one state to another all of the time without the need for an ‘unmoved mover’. A seed falls from a tree because gravity acts on it.

    Correct, and although I certainly would like to devote an entire post to the specific topic of whether or not natural forces constitute unmoved movers, my current position is that they do not. But I would agree that if natural forces are in fact unmoved movers, I’d have to rework the argument. Gravity is not an unmoved mover; it’s not even an object. I used the example of lightning in the OP because lightning is at least an object – i.e. composed of matter or substance. What we call ‘gravity’ is just a word we use to describe consistency of interaction between matter.

    In the same way that we have electricity, magnetism, gravity, the interplay between different particles inside atoms, etc, why couldn’t LAW NUMBER 1 be: things exist?

    Actually, that’s my position. That’s choice 3 in a nutshell.
    Does that clear up our differences regarding your objection 2?

    You might be asked to choose a number at random. I would argue that if it were possible to scan and analyse every molecule within your body it would be possible to deduce what number you would choose. Simply because your choice is determined by the shape/chemical make-up/consistency of your brain.

    A most interesting hypothetical, but the conclusion is too reductionist for me. Although by no means do I deny that physical factors within the brain affect our decision-making processes, if your conclusion were entirely correct, it would seem to follow that choice shouldn’t be able to determine the shape/chemical make-up/consistency of our brains – and science has shown this to be untrue.
    Regarding your objection number 3, I think your own statement regarding “law number 1” resolves most of it. Do you? I say that my choice 3 in the OP is equivalent to the “law number 1” that you argued for above.

    It is almost impossible to talk of an infinite universe and try to steer away from attempting to actually comprehend what infinity means. That doesn’t mean it can’t exist.

    I agree. Let me be clear that I claim my foundations are logically sound as opposed to mere matter of personal preference (foundations for preferring a First Mover over an infinite regress of transitions from potency to act, that is).

    Sometimes I think I’m almost there but it slips away!

    Ditto. Isn’t that oh-so frustrating?? A friend once relayed his near-death experience to me. He said it felt like he was about to know everything.

    Very nice read cl, I personally disagree that all that exists requires a cause so I’ve never really paid much attention to creator arguments other than

    Hey thanks for the good read. And, did part of your comment get chopped off there? It just ends “other than”…
    Regarding Sung’s argument, I need to think it out some more, but you said the argument,

    ..does not necessitate an entity,

    Sung can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think his intent was as an analogy more than a proof for the existence of an entity. I take it to be, “as all numbers are multiples of one, one is the necessary number.” It’s more of an argument for logical requirement.

    ..it doesn’t show why the entity is an implicit necessity in the same way that the number 1 is.

    I disagree. Without the number 1 there are no further numbers. I will say that Sung’s analogy is nuanced, and I can see how many people would be quick to reject it – it requires heavy intellectual lifting.
    If anything I’ve said doesn’t parse well, let me know. This comment was too long to edit.

  39. scott says:

    No cl, you have gone above and beyond with your reply once again. A fascinating read that really gets the brain juices flowing!

  40. MS Quixote says:

    {META FROM CHAPPIE’S}
    Yes, cl, I saw this and have been following the commentary steadily. After all, I’m a constant, daily reader of yours, though a rare commenter. Very, very well done. Good to see you moving in this direction, but regardless of my personal views, let it never be said that you aren’t a rationalist who constantly questions and works through his thought. Great post.

  41. cl says:

    Thanks guys. What do you think about any or all of this:
    It seems nothing can transition from potency to actuality except by something in a state of actuality. How would you describe something that was never in potency, but existed eternally in a state of act? It would be some thing that “just is,” and if this thing was Conscious, it would be perfectly accurate to describe itself as the eternal “I Am” – which is exactly how God describes Godself in the Bible.
    What about the objections raised by Dawkins and others? They say we can’t posit a complex God as the First Cause because a God so complex demands further explanation. I say this is personal opinion and argumentative flanking, not philosophical rigor. The only thing that demands further explanation is that which results from a previous state. When we hear a bunch of noise and see a bunch of movement, we investigate until we find the source — the actuality that induced the causal series — an angry neighbor, perhaps a scared animal or something else.
    We also must accept that substances exist which are pure act – this means they require no direct impetus or catalyst to induce change in the natural world. Unlike intermediate movers, unmoved movers possess the internal power to induce change at will. The Grand causal series which is the history of our universe is logically consistent with a Grand Unmoved Mover. It’s as logically cogent as can be.
    It also seems logical to at least provisionally state that for any object, a limited range of potency exists. IOW, we should not expect that a poppy seed might turn into a violin, for example, or that an automobile might turn into a caterpillar.

  42. John Morales says:

    Sung Jun, since you’re apparently into mysticism, what do you make of the roots of 1?
    Consider the nth root of unity, e^(2πi/n).
    That ‘unity’ to which you refer is an evolution of the natural base.

  43. Sung Jun says:

    That is actually a testament to the mathematical rigor of my idea. I do not pull any rabbits from any hats in making my analogy or in formulating my mathematics.

  44. MS Quixote says:

    “They say we can’t posit a complex God as the First Cause because a God so complex demands further explanation.”
    Two things: a disembodied mind is a much less complex explanation than a multiverse or the universe itself.
    Secondly, an explanation does not require explanation to function as an explanation. To see this, just imagine any extant artifact or event, such as the pyramids, the Brooklyn bridge, the grand canyon, or any number of things. We can determine who or what designed, constructed, or caused them; however, those causes do not require explanation themselves to qualify as a cause.
    Moreover, as you’ve indicated, the cause in question in your argument appears to be eternal. Given that, and I think your logic is valid and sound in this regard, an eternal being–be it matter, energy, or God–does not necessarily allow for explanation. It may simply be a brute fact. Brute facts are required of any belief system; if you press far enough, you’ll always find them. Hence, the existence of a brute fact is not an inherent weakness, as long as it stands to reason within the posited system. IOW, we would not be reasonable in positing contingent beings as brute facts.

  45. Sung Jun says:

    Exactement. The truth claims of mathematics “just are,” and I do believe a famous thinker (I forget who) pointed out that not even God can contradict mathematical truths.

  46. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    “What about the objections raised by Dawkins and others? They say we can’t posit a complex God as the First Cause because a God so complex demands further explanation. I say this is personal opinion and argumentative flanking, not philosophical rigor.”
    Actually, it’s not their argument, never was. It’s a response to the argument from design that says complexity requires a designer. They didn’t set the playing field, creationists and other theists did. It’s rather odd how what they’ve been pointing out as a bad argument from the beginning has been turned around and attributed to them as though they came up with it, when the opposite is true.

  47. cl says:

    Dominic,
    Okay, you’re right in that Dawkins et al. gave a rebuttal to an argument and not necessarily a positive argument of their own, but the technicality you’ve corrected me on doesn’t change anything about the actual argument here. And, I’m not attributing “what Dawkins et al. have been pointing out as a bad argument” – to Dawkins et al. I’m saying Dawkins’ complaints about the First Cause argument are pedestrian and show that he doesn’t understand the argument correctly. If he did, he’d change his response. Complex design doesn’t always entail a complex designer – just take a look at what complex patterns water can create. The Grand Canyon refutes Dawkins’ premise well enough.

  48. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    “Complex design doesn’t always entail a complex designer.”
    Simply change “always” to “necessarily” and you’ll join the ranks of all the other atheist polemicists. Truly “LOL” worthy…
    Calling a designer “complex” is a necessary part of defining “designer”, a consciousness with both puissance and intent. Otherwise, it’s simply not a designer. Water carving out the Grand Canyon is a very good example of a simple mindless process resulting in something complex and aesthetic, which is what Dawkins actually advocates and provides as an alternative to complexity arising from conscious intent.
    He understands the First Cause argument just fine, as it’s a very simple one. His biggest flaw, that I’ve seen, is that he charges ahead using the word “complexity” without a proper definition of what he means by it in “The God Delusion”, simply assuming that “complexity” is universally understood, I suppose.
    Having read “The Blind Watchmaker”, with it’s chapter on defining complexity, he means a physical Kolmogorov complexity.

  49. cl says:

    From what I’ve read in TGD – which is more recent than TBW – I don’t think Dawkins understands the Unmoved Mover argument, because anyone who asks any variant of, “But yeah, well who made God” or “Well where did God come from” – doesn’t understand the argument.
    Leaving his complexity claims aside for a moment, on page 77, Dawkins first misstates Aquinas’ argument as, “Nothing moves without a prior mover.” That’s not the argument, but it is a good indication of how hasty Dawkins’ rebuttal is going to be. Then, Dawkins tells us that Aquinas’ argument makes, “..the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress.” This also suggests Dawkins misunderstands the argument: it is not an assumption that the Unmoved Mover is immune to regress – it’s the unavoidable logical conclusion of the argument – Dawkins just doesn’t seem to understand it, or else he wouldn’t have said that. As an aside, he then emotionally loads his rebuttal by replacing “Unmoved Mover” with God in a strictly Christian context? Does that have anything to do with a cogent rebuttal? No. But is sure is an easy way to rile up the ‘ole anti-religious emotions and knock the focus off of the actual argument, methinks.
    Then, after a whopping two or three sentences devoted to Aquinas’ argument and still ostensibly rebutting it, Dawkins digresses into a discussion about omnipotence, and prayer, and Christianity, and a whole host of other things that he hates but bear absolutely zero import to Aquinas’ argument. Then, if all that wasn’t amateur and transparent enough, Dawkins turns around on p.78 and admits that yes, “Some regresses do reach a natural terminator.” Funny thing is, Dawkins used the analogy of splitting gold into smaller units until we hit a single atom – which is not an example of a causal regress! But still, I actually agree with his point – actual regresses do reach natural terminators. Now you tell me – isn’t that exactly what Aquinas argued? The correct answer is, “Yes.”
    The whole of Dawkins’ rebuttal to Aquinas’ Unmoved Mover was to simply assert that, “it’s more parsimonious to conjure up a BigBang Singularity.” Ah, I see. So, what do we get when we get down to it? Not philosophical or logical rigor, not even good science in this case – but the esteemed professor’s cherished opinion. That’s hogwash. Why do so many atheists so vehemently defend that kind of “logic” and “reason”?
    Although, I really am open minded about Dawkins. If you have some statements that suggest Dawkins does understand the argument, or that suggest he can cogently rebut it, I’d love to hear them. Until then, my opinion is that the man needs to stay in the laboratory where philosophy and reasoned debate aren’t as important. His resentment against religion burns so strong that it clouds up his reasoning. He’s the Blind Argument Maker.

  50. cl says:

    Sung Jun, since you’re apparently into mysticism, (John Morales)

    Way to condescend! I really hope one day I can be as smart as you, John.

  51. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Like I said earlier in this thread, no one is debating the actual existence of an unmoved mover. I get it, Dawkins gets it. The problem arises in taking another step forward and calling it “God”. If by “God” you’re ‘not’ referring to a complex, conscious, powerful, entity that acts with intent, then just wtf are you talking about? This is the point. It’s always been the point.
    The logical necessity of the universe having a beginning, that’s fine. No problem with that. None. But saying that “complexity requires an intelligent designer”, which is the theist argument from design, mind you, stands in opposition to the assertion that the beginning of the universe is a complex one.
    From TGD:
    “All three of these arguments [The Unmoved Mover, The Uncaused Cause, and The Cosmological Argument] rely upon the idea of a regress and invoke God to terminate it. They make the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress. Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to God: omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, creativity of design, to say nothing of such human attributes as listening to prayers, forgiving sins and reading innermost thoughts.”
    The problem isn’t that there must be a terminator to the problem of infinite regress, it’s the “dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name”.
    That name being “God” and all the baggage that goes with it.
    To put it simpler.
    “The universe has a beginning.”
    No problem.
    “That beginning loves me.”
    Problem.

  52. cl says:

    Dawkins gets it.

    Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. His rebuttal suggests to me that he does not. I really don’t think he does, but I’ve no desire to argue that again. I’ve attempted to demonstrate where I think Dawkins went wrong on, and to accurately judge whether or not he understands the argument, from this point, I would have to talk to him.

    The problem arises in taking another step forward and calling it “God”.

    Why? Because we don’t know? You have a point there, and if that’s the case, from where does Dawkins get the liberty to take another step forward and call it a Big Bang Singularity? Why can’t I call the Unmoved Mover what I want, if Dawkins can?

    If by “God” you’re ‘not’ referring to a complex, conscious, powerful, entity that acts with intent, then just wtf are you talking about?

    What
    does our inability to currently answer that question prove? Nothing, right? I mean, when it comes to QM and dark matter and Higgs Boson and all sorts of other things, we really have no idea what we’re talking about – we’re figuring it out as we go along. Isn’t that what science does?

    The logical necessity of the universe having a beginning, that’s fine. No problem with that. None.

    We agree 100% there.

    The problem isn’t that there must be a terminator to the problem of infinite regress, it’s the “dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name”.

    I think I’m understanding your objection, but all you see to be doing here is echoing Dawkins’ complaint that some people call the conclusion God, when what I’m interested in is why the argument from motion fails – which is what Dawkins implied. You and I seem to agree that the argument itself is cogent, right? He claims otherwise, but didn’t logically refute the argument. He just voiced his personal distaste for the name theists give to the conclusion – then offered his own opinion that he likes the name Big Bang Singularity better. I honestly don’t find that to be a cogent rebuttal. Do you?

    “The universe has a beginning.” No problem. “That beginning loves me.” Problem.

    Do you think that is the conclusion I’ve drawn from my premise? If not, where’s the relevance?
    Just as an aside, do you believe if God existed it would be illogical or absurd for God to love us?

  53. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Dawkins never implied the argument from motion fails. Didn’t argue against it, and is satisfied with saying “I don’t know” regarding whatever the terminator that ends the regress is. (Hence the “dubious luxury”)
    That’s what I’m trying to get across. His objection is the conflict between the premises that complexity requires a designer and the premises that a complex God is the designer. It’s both and circular contradictory.
    His alternative, if one insists on speculating rather than simply saying “I don’t know”, is to say the terminator for the infinite regress, instead of being something complex like a prayer answering God who acts with will and intent, knows everything and can do anything, is instead something simple like a big bang.
    It maintains the idea that complexity doesn’t just spontaneously happen (e.g. fully formed paperclips don’t just spontaneously pop into existence), which is the basic premises of the entire debate.
    The grounds of his argument rests upon an understanding of God that doesn’t conveniently leave out all his personality traits in a desperate attempt to prove his existence, which is precisely what Aquinas did (well, all religious apologists, frankly) and what Dawkin’s highlights in TGD.
    His distaste for the Christian conclusion to the argument from motion is that it is a non-sequitur at best, and an open contradiction at worst.
    “Just as an aside, do you believe if God existed it would be illogical or absurd for God to love us?”
    If God existed, nothing would be absurd about his actions, since his actions would define him. An important note about such a thought experiment is that a God who both existed and loved us would be a complex one in the context of which Dawkins is arguing. And complexity requires a designer, that’s the argument from design, remember?

  54. cl says:

    Lemme backpedal a moment to re-address Dick’s understanding of the argument, even though I said I wouldn’t:

    Dawkins never implied the argument from motion fails.

    Then apparently you parse this in an unusual way: “The five ‘proofs’ asserted by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century don’t prove anything, and are easily exposed as vacuous… (p.77)” That is a direct statement from Dawkins that Aquinas’ arguments fail. No way around it, unless of course Dawkins really meant something different than what he wrote.
    Also: “Who made God? …[A] designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in [His] own right.” (p.107)
    This time, we have an indirect statement from Dawkins that Aquinas’ argument fails. But by simply parroting child’s answers to the question and repeating the same rebuttals that have failed for centuries, Dawkins suggests that he doesn’t understand Aquinas’ argument. Regardless of what it is, the Unmoved Mover must be a brute fact – unless of course we accept one of the other two options in the OP here – which neither you nor myself do.

    That’s what I’m trying to get across. His objection is the conflict between the premises that complexity requires a designer and the premises that a complex God is the designer. It’s both and circular contradictory.

    I understand your objection. You’ve gotten it across (I think, anyways). The objection you cite here is actually Dawkins’ response to the Argument from Design, and it assumes that all complex effects must have equally or greater complex causes. I’ll get to that at the end of this comment.

    His alternative, if one insists on speculating rather than simply saying “I don’t know”, is to say the terminator for the infinite regress, instead of being something complex like a prayer answering God who acts with will and intent, knows everything and can do anything, is instead something simple like a big bang.

    Who says a Big Bang of the sort we’re discussing is simple?

    ..complexity doesn’t just spontaneously happen

    I disagree, and that ‘complexity spontaneously happens’ is perhaps the reigning claim of biological evolution and atheism. Did you mean something different there?

    The grounds of his argument rests upon an understanding of God that doesn’t conveniently leave out all his personality traits in a desperate attempt to prove his existence, which is precisely what Aquinas did (well, all religious apologists, frankly)

    How so? Can you elaborate here? What do ‘God’s personality traits’ have to do with the Unmoved Mover argument? Why bring them into the discussion at all, unless of course we wish to load it with emotionally charged terms??

    His distaste for the Christian conclusion to the argument from motion is that it is a non-sequitur at best, and an open contradiction at worst.

    I understand, but his distaste for the Christian conclusion doesn’t refute the argument. That’s my point. He seems to think it does, somehow.

    If God existed, nothing would be absurd about his actions, since his actions would define him.

    I agree, and might just ‘borrow’ that well-worded statement from ya sometime… ;)

    And complexity requires a designer, that’s the argument from design, remember?

    That ‘complexity requires a designer’ is not the argument from design. That’s the watercolor / strawman version, no offense.

  55. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    “The five ‘proofs’ asserted by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century don’t prove anything, and are easily exposed as vacuous… (p.77)” That is a direct statement from Dawkins that Aquinas’ arguments fail. No way around it, unless of course Dawkins really meant something different than what he wrote.

    The ‘proofs’ are proofs for God, remember? They don’t stop at saying, the universe had a cause, but charge forward and call that cause “God”.
    Skip ahead two pages in TGD where Dawkins writes “Some regresses do reach a natural terminator.” But… “It is by no means clear that God provides a natural terminator to the regresses of Aquinas.”
    I don’t see how it can get any clearer. Dawkins never denies that the “unmoved mover”, “first cause” or whatever you want to call it is a logical necessity. Doesn’t even hint or allude that he may disagree, does the opposite in fact. Like I said, no problems there.
    For an analogy, take the proof of the Pythagorean theorem. Euclid’s proof, proposition 1.47, involves 14 steps. Now imagine if Euclid only listed steps 1 through 4, and then grandly concluded with “…therefore, a^2 + b^2 = c^2”.
    That’s precisely what Aquinas’ proofs do. They leave out all the steps that would make the conclusion “God” be the logical outcome of there being a prime mover, hence they don’t “prove” anything. Just saying “…and we call this God” is a load of BS. If that really were the case, then at that particular juncture, there is literally no difference between “God” the “Big Bang” or “Papa Smurf” (because it could be that Papa Smurf smurfed the universe into being, you see…)

    Regardless of what it is, the Unmoved Mover must be a brute fact.

    No one here is disagreeing with you. The sooner you come to realize this, the better. Like I’ve said often enough already, Aquinas is trying to prove God, so you can’t say “regardless of what it is” in this context. Aquinas is taking a firm position on exactly what it is.

    I disagree, and that ‘complexity spontaneously happens’ is perhaps the reigning claim of biological evolution and atheism. Did you mean something different there?

    LOL! Keyword, ‘spontaneously’. The reigning claim of biological evolution is that complexity arises from simplicity, not from a vacuum.

    How so? Can you elaborate here? What do ‘God’s
    personality traits’ have to do with the Unmoved Mover argument? Why bring them into the discussion at all, unless of course we wish to load it with emotionally charged terms??

    “God” is one of the most emotionally charged terms in the English language, yes or no? Calling the Unmoved Mover “God” is the problem in a nutshell.
    For example, hypothetically speaking, lets say new facts arise which both firmly support the Unmoved Mover argument and lead to the logical conclusion that this Unmoved Mover is definitely not a conscious decision making entity. Would you, or would you not, still call it “God”? Simple question. Tough answer.

    That ‘complexity requires a designer’ is not the argument from design. That’s the watercolor / strawman version, no offense.

    Hey, none taken, I know its shallow. But tell that to the people who point to bird feathers and call them proof of God. They’re the ones who make the argument from design.
    Maybe you could do a post on your own version?

  56. cl says:

    ..tell that to the people who point to bird feathers and call them proof of God.

    LOL!
    Let’s say I agree with you that Dawkins’ understands the argument (I’ll return to this particular sub-point one last time tomorrow). Still, it would seem to me that your entire objection (and Dawkins’) is based on personal distaste for three letters – the semantics. You’re saying, “Yes, your argument proves an Unmoved Mover, but you’re not allowed to call it God (and in all fairness, you should note that not once in the OP did I call it God, and that the OP is actually about Aristotle’s argument, not Aquinas’). Both of you seem to have no problem whatsoever, so long as we call the “Unmoved Mover” anything but God. Frankly, I don’t see how that’s anything but biased, but I’ll give your comment yet another read tomorrow morning and respond more in depth..

  57. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Hence my hypothetical situation to highlight the issue.

  58. John Morales says:

    cl,

    [me] Sung Jun, since you’re apparently into mysticism …

    Way to condescend!

    Really.
    Is it that you don’t consider the existence of a multiplicative identity being equated to the existence of a deity is epitomic mysticism, or that you consider an attribution of seeming mysticism to be pejorative?

  59. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Lol… I ordinarily pride myself on having an above average mastery of the English language, but I had to read that sentence twice.

  60. cl says:

    It’s pretty simple, John: it’s rude and even a bit arrogant to presume that the problem is always in somebody else’s induction, and even ruder and more arrogant to jab at them thusly.

  61. cl says:

    Dominic,
    the response I intended to give today is on a different computer than the one I’m at. So, for now, all I’ll say is,

    Hence my hypothetical situation to highlight the issue.

    Which ‘hypothetical situation’ do you allude to? “..facts arising which both firmly support the Unmoved Mover argument and lead to the logical conclusion that this Unmoved Mover is definitely not a conscious decision making entity?”
    If so, facts already firmly support the Unmoved Mover (UM)… I also have difficulty seeing how we can support the logical conclusion that the UM is not conscious. Ideas?

  62. Scott says:

    cl and Dominic, I am loving this exchange and hanging on every post.
    I think I can see the problem you two are having in coming to the crux of it: It would seem to me that cl is arguing from the standpoint that there is evidence for a benevolent, conscious, deliberate creator.
    On the other hand, Dominic seems to think that there is no evidence for conscious design. A belief I also share, so am excited about hearing from cl.
    If i’m wrong, feel free to completely ignore me, but good luck with the rest of it!

  63. cl says:

    Scott,

    I think I can see the problem you two are having in coming to the crux of it: It would seem to me that cl is arguing from the standpoint that there is evidence for a benevolent, conscious, deliberate creator.

    Yes. Evidence, and logical support – for a conscious, deliberate creator (let’s leave ‘benevolent’ out of the discussion, for now).

    On the other hand, Dominic seems to think that there is no evidence for conscious design.

    Correct, which explains why he objects to anyone calling the unmoved mover God.
    What to call the first unmoved mover should be a natural derivative of the first unmoved mover’s properties as logically required by the argument. By definition, the first unmoved mover cannot be caused, such that we can ask what caused it. However boggling to our finite minds, that means the first unmoved mover exists eternally. More specifically, this means the first unmoved mover did not result from a previous state of change (else we’re back to infinite regress). Well, the God of the Bible claims to be the eternal “I Am” who created this universe, who is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” – which is remarkably consistent with the necessary conclusion of Aristotle’s argument (a first unmoved mover that exists eternally and is unchanged).
    To me, the onus is on the atheist by far: assuming a “closed” universe, the Big Bang Singularity represents all the matter and energy of the universe condensed, correct? That means it is nothing more than the sum of all matter and energy contained within itself; something like an acorn seed on a macro scale. Entropy won’t let us posit matter and energy as existing eternally and unchanged, because matter and energy are in a grand series of changes – beginning in a state of absolute potency, and ending in an ultimate “heat death” in which no further transactions between either are possible – a state of absolute non-potency.
    Also, there’s this side issue: Dominic thinks Dawkins understands the full implications of Aristotle’s argument, when my feeling is that Dawkins does not. This is because anyone who asks any variant of, “Who made God?” or, “What came before the unmoved mover?” does not understand Aristotle’s argument. Dawkins says, “Who made God? …[A] designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in [His] own right.” (p.107, TGD) If the unmoved mover is conscious, it’s reasonable to call it God – and the question becomes irrelevant. If Dawkins understood the argument, I’d think he wouldn’t ask that question; rather, he would offer a case explaining why his preference of Big Bang Singularity – or Papa Smurf or anything else – is logically superior. Right?
    As far as “no evidence for conscious design,” I don’t see how one can look at human DNA and not see the evidence for design. Contrary to Dominic’s assertion, my “Argument From Computer Programming” does not assume evolution by natural selection is false; it simply admits that we don’t know whether DNA arose from a conscious creator on a non-conscious process. So I advocate that we reason from what we DO know, and we DO know that every other known series of intelligent statements written in a specific language traces back to a conscious entity – without exception.
    Dominic,
    Earlier, you said,

    No one here is disagreeing with you. The sooner you come to realize this, the better.

    I’m not saying people here are disagreeing with me; there’s nothing I need to realize in that regard. Earlier, you also said something about leaving steps out of the Pythagorean theorem. In a sense, I think you’ve got a point there: Aquinas should have gone a little further. At least in the versions of the “proofs” I’ve read, although he did a great job in proving the logical necessity of the first unmoved mover, he just jumps to the conclusion of God. I get that that’s your main objection. Up ’til now, my response has simply been to point out that just jumping to the conclusion of Big Bang Singularity (Dawkins) or some other non-conscious explanation (you) is just as bad. I stand by my claim that it is, but pointing it out just puts us back on a level playing field.
    So, what I need to do is pick up where Aquinas and Dawkins seem to have left off. In the follow-up to this post, I will include the steps that I believe make God – and not just any God, but the God of the Bible – the best candidate for the first unmoved mover. In fact, I’ve already included two steps in my reply to Scott above: the God of the Bible claims to be the eternal “I Am” that created this universe, and is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” – both of which are remarkably consistent with the necessary conclusion of Aristotle’s argument (a first unmoved mover must exist eternally and unchanged).
    Also, do you realize that your complaint befalls your own position, and Dawkins’ too? Where are his steps that make the Big Bang Singularity the best candidate for the first unmoved mover? Where are yours? By definition, a Big Bang Singularity cannot be the first unmoved mover because it is the beginning of the causal chain that became today’s universe. Entropy won’t let us posit matter and energy as existing eternally and unchanged, because matter and energy are in a grand series of changes – beginning in a state of absolute potency, and ending in an ultimate “heat death” in which no further transactions between either are possible – a state of absolute non-potency.

  64. Scott says:

    “the God of the Bible claims to be the eternal “I Am” who created this universe, who is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” – which is remarkably consistent with the necessary conclusion of Aristotle’s argument”
    Yes, it is remarkably consistent. Given the fact that Aristostle’s argument came first, you can hardly call biblical writing evidence. Furthermore, I’m quite sure you understand the problem of using the bible as evidence of god. The bible is no more evidence for god than Harry Potter is evidence for magic.
    “To me, the onus is on the atheist by far”
    I disagree completely. The atheist might happily accept the big bang theory, or any other theory of how the universe forms but, ultimately they will be happy to accept a more logical, scientific, proveable theory if it were to arise. For you to claim that the onus is on the atheist is preposterous, the atheist doesn’t attribute qualities such as consciousness, omnipotence, etc. They are happy with the simplest answer.
    Consider two people who are pondering the creation of the universe. Both agree that the universe does have a beginning. Both agree that the universe had to start from something. Why is it more logically sound for the first person to say that the universe was created with a design in mind. It was created by a benevolent being who knows everything and cares about human beings above and beyond everything else. The first person also claims that the universe was created with a purpose in mind and that if he devotes himself entirely to the creator he will be granted eternal life in a bliss like state. Wouldn’t it in all honesty be far far far far more logical to look at what we understand of the universe, of how everything works and then come to the conclusion that we are the product of millions of years of evolution, that everything in the universe is happening randomly and that therefore the creation force behind the universe might possibly be random too?
    Digressing from that long ramble, I’m unsure if i agree that the universe is a ‘closed’ one as you said and thereby subject to entropy moving towards heat death. It has been put forth by some physicists that in an ‘open’ universe that is constantly expanding the value of maximum entropy increases faster than the universe gains entropy simply because the universe is continually expanding. Though this could eventually lead us to a ‘cold death’ instead.

  65. Scott says:

    There are no truly valid arguments for why the ‘unmoved mover’ must have been conscious, deliberate and all powerful. I mean, these are just some random arguments I created in 3 minutes while having a shower, they are not perfectly sound but they are at least as sound as any argument put forward to the unmoved mover being the god of the bible:
    Consciousness is a sense of self that exists in a particular time and place.
    The unmoved mover exists outside of time and place
    Therefore the unmoved mover is not conscious.
    From our experience, consciousness cannot exist outside of a physical form.
    Everything that then has physical form exists within our universe.
    Any conscious ‘unmoved mover’ must therefore have a physical form and thereby exist inside our universe, not outside.
    In your own essays on ‘the ghost in the machine’ problem) you stated that consciousness/thought/mind/whatever required a triumverate to exist. You equated consciousness to a lightbulb i believe. Why is it that the ‘unmoved mover’ in your problem is granted consciousness despite not having a physical form. If it did indeed have a physical form than it would have to exist inside our universe.
    If we require input from the world around us in order to learn, grow, compute and basically just exist, why would you posit an ‘unmoved mover’ as something completely incomprehensible to our own universe? If it is conscious, it requires a physical form. If it is physical it must exist in time and space. If it exists in time and space it is inside our universe. If it is inside our universe and subject to the laws that govern it, it cannot be god.

  66. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Well, I disappeared for a few days due to a little vacation, and it seems Scott said pretty much what I would have said. A good point to wrap it up, methinks, we’ve all said our part, and turn to the newest thread and see how things come along with Jim. It’s like watching an NFL rivalry, good stuff.

  67. D says:

    Hi, cl! I read your post in its entirety, but not the comments (too many for a Monday night!).
    I wanted to first say that, insofar as you lay out the difficulties in resolving some of these issues “once and for all,” you do a pretty good job of articulating the questions!
    OK, brass tacks: is a sapling a potentiality for a tree, or actually a small tree? Do you think that there’s a “point” where it moves from “seed” to “tree,” or does it smoothly transition from one state to another via many small intermediate steps, some of which are not clearly one or the other? Aristotle pointed out that a thing cannot be both “A” and “not A” at the same time and in the same respect, but “in the same respect” is the operant clause, to my mind. There are many different respects in which an object may be considered “maybe a tree” or “maybe a seed,” although no object can be “definitely a tree and not a seed” while also being “definitely a seed and not a tree” at the same time.
    As for unmoved movers, I disagree that persons and animals are such (of course I would, for I deny the existence of the soul and am a determinist, to boot). Do you have any other examples? Or is “consciousness” your quintessential unmoved mover?
    As for the stuff at the end, well… let’s just say that I disagree with Jefferson, and I remain deliberately agnostic. I think that “mass-energy is either due to an infinite regress, or is a self-contained cause, or due to an unmoved mover” does a good job of exhausting the alternatives, but there are so many ways that any of those could be the case (especially if our observable universe is merely a branching offshoot of some over-universe) that it’s just not worth agonizing over. Or, in other words, “We don’t have enough evidence to decide, so let’s decide other things for which we do have enough evidence.” And in yet other words, “We don’t have enough experience with Universes to say for sure what they should or should not be like.”
    Your concession that the Unmoved Mover might be unconscious or impersonal is a momentous one, though! Good on you for admitting it!

  68. C.L. Dyck says:

    Hi cl, found you through Quixote. I’ve seen you at Karla’s also, I believe. You and your commenters are a feast of thinking–great stuff.
    Nothing to add–baby fish in a big pond here. Just soaking it up; thanks, all.

  69. cl says:

    Scott,
    In general, you disagreed that the onus is on the atheist to provide a simpler explanation than the logical conclusion of Aristotle’s argument. I disagree. By simple, I mean the answer to a question that entails the least amount of further questions. For example, many atheists now posit “multiple universes,” but that just requires “multiple explanations,” so Occam’s prefers the logical conclusion of Aristotle’s argument over multiple universes.

    Given the fact that Aristostle’s argument came first, you can hardly call biblical writing evidence.

    I think that issue takes care of itself, right? Meaning, the Torah preceded Plato and Aristotle.

    ..I’m quite sure you understand the problem of using the bible as evidence of god.

    Actually, I’d rather not assume I can read your mind here: what specific problem(s) are you alluding to?

    Though this could eventually lead us to a ‘cold death’ instead.

    I don’t demand that the universe is closed or open. My only point is that given everything we know from science right now, all the matter and energy in our universe is going to exhaust its potency one day. So we can’t say the potency of matter and energy exists eternally.

    There are no truly valid arguments for why the ‘unmoved mover’ must have been conscious, deliberate and all powerful.

    I used to agree with you wholeheartedly there, even though I’m a theist (technically some sort of Christian). I’d be curious to hear your responses to Pt. II. I think I made a pretty decent case there.

    they are not perfectly sound but they are at least as sound as any argument put forward to the unmoved mover being the god of the bible:

    I’m going to have to disagree:

    1) From our experience, consciousness cannot exist outside of a physical form.
    2) Everything that then has physical form exists within our universe.
    3) Any conscious ‘unmoved mover’ must therefore have a physical form and thereby exist inside our universe, not outside.

    Neither 2 nor 3 flows smoothly from 1. Even if I grant you 1 (which I do not), that consciousness cannot exist outside a physical form says nothing about whether everything with physical from exists within our universe.
    Part of 3 flows from 1 (if we grant 1), in that if it’s true that consciousness cannot exist outside of a physical form, then “any conscious ‘unmoved mover’ must therefore have a physical form.” FYI, this is also Lifeguard’s reply to the Argument From Computer Programming. So, I know what I need to do, and that’s better demonstrate my Immaterial Consciousness Hypothesis.

    In your own essays on ‘the ghost in the machine’ problem) you stated that [consciousness] required a triumverate to exist. You equated consciousness to a lightbulb i believe.

    To clarify, I don’t say consciousness requires a triumverate to exist; I say consciousness exists as a triumverate. I use the lightbulb as an analogy to demonstrate that principle.

    Why is it that the ‘unmoved mover’ in your problem is granted consciousness despite not having a physical form.

    Because I’ve never once argued that consciousness absolutely requires a physical form. I don’t believe it does.

    If it did indeed have a physical form than it would have to exist inside our universe.

    But that simply asserts that, “all that has physical form must exist inside our universe,” which isn’t a valid argument, right? IOW, it could be possible that things exist which have physical form somewhere else.

    If it is conscious, it requires a physical form. If it is physical it must exist in time and space. If it exists in time and space it is inside our universe. If it is inside our universe and subject to the laws that govern it, it cannot be god.

    Now you’re talking. That’s quite a powerful line of reasoning. Still, there are at least two ways to challenge it: challenge your premise that consciousness requires a physical form, or challenge your premise that our “time and space” is the only time and space that exists. I’ll attempt both challenges as things progress around here.
    Great comments though, thank you.

  70. cl says:

    D,

    I wanted to first say that, insofar as you lay out the difficulties in resolving some of these issues “once and for all,” you do a pretty good job of articulating the questions!

    Hey thanks. You do a good job of keeping me on point, if I don’t say so myself.

    OK, brass tacks: is a sapling a potentiality for a tree, or actually a small tree? Do you think that there’s a “point” where it moves from “seed” to “tree,” or does it smoothly transition from one state to another via many small intermediate steps, some of which are not clearly one or the other?

    The concept of “waveform flux” seems to preclude a “point based” progression of time, IMO. It also seems more in accord with QM, and less in accord with a Newtonian interpretation of time – which is what “point based” time essentially reduces to, no?

    As for unmoved movers, I disagree that persons and animals are such (of course I would, for I deny the existence of the soul and am a determinist, to boot).

    I don’t see how either determinism or soulism has any bearing on the existence of unmoved movers. May I ask what you think I’m alluding to when I say “unmoved mover?” Perhaps we’re not on the same page there; that’s how it feels right this second, at least.

    I think that “mass-energy is either due to an infinite regress, or is a self-contained cause, or due to an unmoved mover” does a good job of exhausting the alternatives, but there are so many ways that any of those could be the case..

    If that’s the case, then may
    I hear an argument that makes actual infinite regress and/or self-contained causality more logically acceptable? For example, you posit some “over-universe” as a possible explanation, but Occam’s shaves that right off IMO. Then we have to explain the over-universe, and that’s the same thing poopy-pants Dawkins rants on about.

    Your concession that the Unmoved Mover might be unconscious or impersonal is a momentous one, though! Good on you for admitting it!

    Really? I don’t see that as momentous at all. It’s just being honest that like you said, I don’t have enough experiences with universes to be so sure. Still, I know where the arguments go in this regard, and I know why I believe what I believe, though I could be wrong. Now, if someone can show where I’m wrong, I’m all for it, because there is no religion higher than truth.

  71. John Morales says:

    cl:

    Aristotle’s argument is based on the premise that all change involves transition from potency to actuality for a given attribute. That is, when a substance changes, it comes to express one or more attributes it previously lacked. Thus, we can say that a seed is in potency for a tree, or potentially a tree: under the correct conditions, it moves from a state of potency to a state of actuality for the attribute of tree. It becomes a tree.
    This relationship between potency and actuality is necessarily Boolean; that is, it is logically impossible for a substance to be simultaneously in potency and actuality for the same attribute. A seed cannot simultaneously be in potency and actuality for the attribute of tree, because when it is in one state, by necessity it cannot be in the other. Once a seed moves into actuality for the attribute of tree, it abandons its previous state of potency by expressing that which it previously lacked.

    Aristotle in Metaphysics:
    —begin quote—
    “‘Potency’ means (1) a source of movement or change, which is in another thing than the thing moved or in the same thing qua other; e.g. the
    art of building is a potency which is not in the thing built, while the art of healing, which is a potency, may be in the man healed, but not in him qua healed. ‘Potency’ then means the source, in general, of change or movement in another thing or in the same thing qua other, and also (2) the source of a thing’s being moved by another thing or by itself qua other. For in virtue of that principle, in virtue of which a patient suffers anything, we call it ‘capable’ of suffering; and this we do sometimes if it suffers anything at all, sometimes not in respect of everything it suffers, but only if it suffers a change for the better–(3) The capacity of performing this well or according to intention; for sometimes we say of those who merely can walk or speak but not well or not as they intend, that they cannot
    speak or walk. So too (4) in the case of passivity–(5) The states in virtue of which things are absolutely impassive or unchangeable, or not easily changed for the worse, are called potencies; for things are broken and crushed and bent and in general destroyed not by having a potency but by not having one and by lacking something, and things are impassive with respect to such processes if they are scarcely
    and slightly affected by them, because of a ‘potency’ and because they ‘can’ do something and are in some positive state.
    “‘Potency’ having this variety of meanings, so too the ‘potent’ or ‘capable’ in one sense will mean that which can begin a movement (or
    a change in general, for even that which can bring things to rest is a ‘potent’ thing) in another thing or in itself qua other; and in one sense that over which something else has such a potency; and in one sense that which has a potency of changing into something, whether for the worse or for the better (for even that which perishes is thought to be ‘capable’ of perishing, for it would not have perished if it had not been capable of it; but, as a matter of fact, it has a certain disposition and cause and principle which fits it to suffer this; sometimes it is thought to be of this sort because it has something, sometimes because it is deprived of something; but if privation is in a sense ‘having’ or ‘habit’, everything will be capable by having something, so that things are capable both by having a positive habit and principle, and by having the privation of this, if it is possible to have a privation; and if privation is not in a sense ‘habit’, ‘capable’ is used in two distinct senses); and a thing is capable in another sense because neither any other thing, nor itself qua other, has a potency or principle which can destroy it. Again, all of these are
    capable either merely because the thing might chance to happen or not to happen, or because it might do so well. This sort of potency is found even in lifeless things, e.g. in instruments; for we say one lyre can speak, and another cannot speak at all, if it has not a good tone.
    “Incapacity is privation of capacity-i.e. of such a principle as has been described either in general or in the case of something that would naturally have the capacity, or even at the time when it would naturally already have it; for the senses in which we should call a boy and a man and a eunuch ‘incapable of begetting’ are distinct.-Again, to either kind of capacity there is an opposite incapacity-both to that which only can produce movement and to that which can produce it well.
    “Some things, then, are called adunata in virtue of this kind of incapacity, while others are so in another sense; i.e. both dunaton and adunaton are used as follows. The impossible is that of which the contrary is of necessity true, e.g. that the diagonal of a square is commensurate with the side is impossible, because such a statement is a falsity of which the contrary is not only true but also necessary; that it is commensurate, then, is not only false but also of necessity false.
    The contrary of this, the possible, is found when it is not necessary that the contrary is false, e.g. that a man should be seated is possible;
    for that he is not seated is not of necessity false. The possible, then, in one sense, as has been said, means that which is not of necessity false; in one, that which is true; in one, that which may be true.-A ‘potency’ or ‘power’ in geometry is so called by a change of meaning.-These senses of ‘capable’ or ‘possible’ involve no reference to potency.
    But the senses which involve a reference to potency all refer to the primary kind of potency; and this is a source of change in another thing or in the same thing qua other. For other things are called ‘capable’, some because something else has such a potency over them, some because it has not, some because it has it in a particular way.
    The same is true of the things that are incapable. Therefore the proper definition of the primary kind of potency will be ‘a source of change in another thing or in the same thing qua other’.
    […]
    Evidently even of the things that are thought to be substances, most are only potencies,-both the parts of animals (for none of them exists
    separately; and when they are separated, then too they exist, all of them, merely as matter) and earth and fire and air; for none of them is a unity, but as it were a mere heap, till they are worked up and some unity is made out of them. One might most readily suppose the parts of living things and the parts of the soul nearly related to them to turn out to be both, i.e. existent in complete reality as well as in potency, because they have sources of movement in something in their joints; for which reason some animals live when divided.
    Yet all the parts must exist only potentially, when they are one and continuous by nature,-not by force or by growing into one, for such a phenomenon is an abnormality.
    —- end quote —-
    Aristotle addresses the polysemy of the term, and defines his primary meaning (“the proper definition of the primary kind of potency will be ‘a source of change in another thing or in the same thing qua other’).
    Plugging in that definition in your own quote yields: “all change involves transition from [a source of change in another thing or in the same thing qua other] to actuality for a given attribute.”
    You are using ‘potency’ in Aristotle’s sense [3], not his primary sense [1] (i.e. as latent capacity, not as causal agency).
    Also, when you write “That is, when a substance changes, it comes to express one or more attributes it previously lacked.”, you seem at odds with Aristotle, who clearly thinks things are ontologically different to, and that it’s the things that change, not the substances per se. That which changes them is the potency, according to the original text, so you’re making a category error there according to your own source.
    You should also be clear that Aristotle uses ‘substance’ rather differently to the usage in ordinary English (e.g. “For even contraries have in a sense the same form; for the substance
    of a privation is the opposite substance, e.g. health is the substance of disease (for disease is the absence of health); and health is the formula in the soul or the knowledge of it.”).

  72. cl says:

    I’ve read your grievances; would you care to state them succinctly in a single sentence or two, and more importantly, how and why you think those grievances mitigate my conclusion?
    I’d rather not quibble over words unless there’s a reason.

  73. cl says:

    I think the first-cause argument is nothing but speculation founded on unsound premises.

    I get that. What I’m asking you for is an explanation of why you find this particular iteration of the argument incredible. Don’t just assert unsound premises: show which are unsound, and why, and let’s run with this thing a bit. Quibbling over definitions != demonstration of unsound premises.

    I also think that, even if one were to accept the argument, it doesn’t show that that first cause is any sort of god, or even an intelligent thing,

    I disagree, but why not cross that bridge when we get there? That’s what Pt. II is about.

  74. John Morales says:

    Quibbling over definitions != demonstration of unsound premises.

    Your premises are expressed using vague and disagreed-upon definitions for terms. The universe of discourse is likewise vague and disagreed-upon — in particular, you essentially invoke an unseen universe that does not need explaining to explain the seen universe.
    I need know no more than that, vaguely as it’s posed, to know it’s fundamentally flawed.

    PS Why do you so obdurately resist stating the argument in a clear form?
    Is it correlated with an assumption of Aristotelianism as self-evidently true?
    Is it that you’re unconfortable using informal logic?
    Is it that the argument is inchoate in your own mind, and hence ineffable in cogent English?
    Perhaps it’s something else.

  75. cl says:

    Your premises are expressed using vague and disagreed-upon definitions for terms.

    Yeah, that’s what you keep saying… I submit that my premises were expressed clearly enough that several intelligent people were able to exchange for 70 comments without any problems whatsoever. I’m sorry the language is not to your standards, but that something is not to your standards means nothing than that something is not to your standards, and that relates not one scintilla to whether the argument’s true cogent or not.

    ..in particular, you essentially invoke an unseen universe that does not need explaining to explain the seen universe.

    That’s not the argument at all, I’m afraid. Curious: why would you reword my argument my iteration of Aristotle’s argument in your language, then claim it’s vague or flawed?

    Why do you so obdurately resist stating the argument in a clear form?

    I don’t; I did say I wasn’t going to take the time to convert this post into a syllogism especially for John Morales. Again, the argument and its follow-up were stated clearly enough that several people several intelligent people were able to have a quite productive discussion about the premises; I’m sorry it’s not good enough for you, but on the other hand I’m not that concerned, because nothing is ever good enough for you such that it can sustain a productive discussion between us (smarmy retort about the ineptitude of my writing fully expected). In fact, I can’t recall one time that we’ve actually had a discussion about an argument of mine: rather, all my “John Morales” memories involve quibbling over words, and accusations that I’m “dishonest”.

    I need know no more than that, vaguely as it’s posed, to know it’s fundamentally flawed.

    Of course; no thought required, rejected out of hand: all you have to do is claim I’m being unclear, and voila! As for me, if I think something’s unclear, I don’t just assume it’s fundamentally flawed; I first presume that the flaw may very well be in my understanding – but that’s just me, and I realize in this case such is apparently not an option.

  76. John Morales says:

    ..in particular, you essentially invoke an unseen universe that does not need explaining to explain the seen universe.

    That’s not the argument at all, I’m afraid.

    “It seems we encounter three options: either we say matter and energy moved from some previous state of potency, or we say matter and energy moved itself, or we say matter and energy moved from pure actuality, an Unmoved Mover of immense magnitude.
    […]
    The most logical explanation for change in the natural world is that it emanates from something that is itself in a state of pure actuality and does not change.”

  77. cl says:

    Gee, guess you really proved me wrong! [/SARCASM]
    Honestly though, I don’t know what else to say. You complain that terms are unclear and you quibble over words that other intelligent commenters don’t seem to have any problems comprehending and responding to. Then you reword my words, then you tell me I’m wrong. Okay! If you say so.. maybe I am inept; maybe you’re just too dang smart for this blog. I don’t know what else to say, because the possibility that it might be your understanding which is flawed just seems, well… anathema?
    You seem either bent on seeing what you want to see, or unable of seeing that which you don’t want to see, and you’ve already stated your opinion that there’s “no real chance that skeptics might be wrong in their ideas about God and the metaphysical,” so what’s the point at this point? Really. In your mind, you’re a super-duper cogent powerhouse of cold and irrefutable logic supported by sophisticated and clear language, and I’m just another obfuscating run-of-the-mill ‘apologist’ without the balls to commit to clear discourse. IOW, you’re right, I’m wrong, end of story, so why continue?
    In the event something changes and you feel some reason to continue, here’s a straight-forward, Yes or No question that might put us on the path to some kind of common ground: do you accept or reject the premise that all objects require causes?
    By objects I mean things which exist. By things which exist I mean conglomerations of atoms that exist independently of other conglomerations of atoms. By require causes I mean that the object or thing which exists was actualized from a previous state of potency. By potency I refer to… ah, nevermind – you’ve already claimed my usage of potency to be insufficient, so I guess this really is a lost cause.

  78. John Morales says:

    IOW, you’re right, I’m wrong, end of story, so why continue?

    SIWOTI.

    …do you accept or reject the premise that all objects require causes?
    […]
    By require causes I mean that the object or thing which exists was actualized from a previous state of potency.

    An odd definition; I would define ‘require causes’ to mean the object’s existence necessarily depends on one or more prior events occurring.
    If you consider the universe “was actualized from a previous state of potency”, you’re clearly saying there was at least one state of existence prior to the universe being “actualized” (that of the universe being a potency). But the universe is defined as all of nature, including time!
    Therefore, in the case of the object being universe (of which time is a constituent), I cannot either accept the premise as true nor reject it as false; hence an argument based on such a premise cannot be sound.

  79. cl says:

    [SIGH]…

    SIWOTI.

    Right: we’ve already established that you believe you’re right, and that I’m just an obtuse, obfuscating apologist. IOW, we already know that you think someone is wrong on the internet, and that that someone is me. Why be redundant?
    “Well, because you asked, cl… [chuckle, chuckle]”
    Ah. Gotcha. [cl slaps forehead: “what an idiot I am!”]

    I would define ‘require causes’ to mean the object’s existence necessarily depends on one or more prior events occurring.

    There you go again: needless quibbling over words. Why, though, when you are correct and we are in agreement? You say you would define ‘require causes’ as “one or more prior events occurring,” but that’s exactly what “actualized from a previous state of potency” means. What do you suppose causes you to see disagreement even where none exists?

    If you consider the universe “was actualized from a previous state of potency”,
    you’re clearly saying considering that there was may have been at least one state of existence prior to the universe being “actualized” (that of the universe being a potency). (strike, ital. mine)

    Correct. Note that considering a state of existence prior to the universe being “actualized” != “[invoking] an unseen universe that does not need explaining to explain the seen universe,” which was your original charge.

    But the universe is defined as all of nature, including time!

    Well, then I guess once again we see that by definition, you’re right and I’m wrong.

    Therefore, in the case of the object being universe (of which time is a constituent), I cannot either accept the premise as true nor reject it as false; hence an argument based on such a premise cannot be sound.

    Keep my questions in their original scope, please: I didn’t ask you to answer in the specific context of the universe, let’s cross that bridge when we get there. I asked if you “accept or reject the premise that all objects require causes?” Notice that you answered a different question than the one asked.
    If you prefer, disregard all for now and list the conditions under which you’d accept the premise, followed by any conditions under which you’d reject the premise, and then list the conditions under which you suspend judgment on the premise – for example in the context of the universe.
    ***********
    Or, if you want to move along to something more interesting, is it true that roos really box people? Do people fight roos for money over there like they do with cocks and dogs here? Is there sales tax where you live? I want to visit Australia for many reasons, one of which is the desire to see toilet water swirl the other way.

  80. D says:

    cl, I think that you and John are talking past each other. By “object,” do you just mean “an existent,” or do you mean a common-sense idea of “concretes” that includes tables and chairs but excludes words and emotions?
    See, when we look around and infer causality, wanting to go back to the beginning doesn’t stop at what we can see; we want to know what’s at the root of all that exists. If God exists, then “all that exists” includes God. It’s not so much the question of “where do stars & galaxies come from,” as the question of “where does all of reality come from?”
    Hooray for linguistic ambiguity, eh?

  81. John Morales says:

    Or, if you want to move along to something more interesting, [1] is it true that roos really box people? [2] Do people fight roos for money over there like they do with cocks and dogs here? [3] Is there sales tax where you live? I want to visit Australia for many reasons, one of which is the desire to see toilet water swirl the other way.

    1. Only if you train them to appear to do so.
    2. Not that I’ve ever heard of.
    2a. You should see a real live big red. They’re awesome.
    3. Yes, called the GST.
    I’m sure you’d like Australia. One of the most heavily-urbanised nations, a continent with 22 million people but four fifths the size of the USA. English-speaking, but drive on the left of the road.

  82. John Morales says:

    cl, I think that you and John are talking past each other.

    Apparently so.
    Surely the universe is a member of the set of “all objects”.

    Hooray for linguistic ambiguity, eh?

    It can certainly lead to equivocation, to say the least.
    I will note that, as I see it, cl has appreciably improved in that regard in recent comments. Certainly the definitions he provided @77 were quite helpful in clarifying to me his meaning.

  83. John Morales says:

    Right: we’ve already established that you believe you’re right, and that I’m just an obtuse, obfuscating apologist.

    Don’t you believe you’re right? ;)
    If I considered you such, I would not even bother commenting here.
    You may consider I’m overly critical and rigorous, but my worry is that I’m not nearly enough so. FWIW, I’m feel I’m more critical of myself than I am of you.

  84. Derrida says:

    I see a fourth possibility: that time is finite, but that matter and energy have been actual since the beginning of time. This avoids the dilemma of an infinite regress or the universe coming from nothing.

  85. cl says:

    Derrida,

    I don’t see that as a fourth possibility. I see that as the second possibility: that matter and energy moved itself. As such, it would seemingly remain open to the previously leveled objections, but, I’m more than happy to rethink if you think there’s a good reason.

    Either way, thanks for stopping by.

  86. iakovos says:

    ENI VS Gazprom : A New War in the East Mediterranean Sea?

    http://oilpro.com/post/19037/eni-vs-gazprom-new-war-east-mediterranean-sea

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