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The First Cause? Prime Mover Argument
#41
RE: The First Cause? Prime Mover Argument
Good news, if you heard it meow, the wave function is collapsed and she's yet alive - but better hurry and rescue her before the vial breaks after all!
The fool hath said in his heart, There is a God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Psalm 14, KJV revised edition

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#42
RE: The First Cause? Prime Mover Argument
Apologies for the wait, it's been a busy few days.

Okay, way too many posts to respond to everyone individually, so I'll try and respond to the broad counter-arguments.

A lot of appeals to physics here, but I'm afraid I'm a Philosopher and not a physicist, so the persuasiveness of that to me will be limited by the fact that the maths for all of this is way beyond me, so I would have to accept any conclusions that Physics has on the subject on a certain level of faith. I would also contest that physics or mathematics gives us a truthful picture of "things in themselves" as opposed to a mere model that explains appearances. I'm sure that 20 years down the line, there will probably be a different model of physics again that may itself have very different implications for causality and time and a myriad other things. As truth doesn't change, but scientific consensus and theory do change, scientific consensus and theory cannot equal truth until they reach a point where they cease to change (but how would you ever know that the theory has reached a point where it can no longer change?)

You may note that in my original post, I never claimed that everything must have a cause, or must be impermanent. I merely noted that the things we experience seem to all require something further that brings it about, a cause, or mover if you will. It is a contingent observation, rather than a necessary truth. Thus the accusation of special pleading doesn't hold, as all I'm claiming is that there is a self-sufficient supporting thing for the category of things within our universe that seem to require external support. The criticism on the basis of quantum mechanics is fair, my belief is based on causality and time as being conditions for the possibility of human understanding. But I don't see how we can operate any other way. If the universe doesn't operate according to explicable concepts of time and causation then we literally cannot understand why anything is the way it is, or where it would have come from and must therefore remain agnostic about all things, which shoots atheism in the foot just as surely as anything else.

In conclusion, I am probably wrong, but everyone else probably is too. My experience of philosophy has taught me that every belief system has major problems with justifying itself in terms of its fundamental assumptions(including the scientific one), so what you believe is largely a choice. (for example my argument does allow for an infinite universe, or an infinite regress, I just don't think that either of those things are likely, so I don't believe them) To demonstrate, my belief system requires assuming that there is a gap in knowledge between things as they appear to be (colours, sounds, smells, tastes), and as they are independent of experience (????). The scientific world-view has its own irreducible assumptions, such as the assumption that a pattern of correlation can establish causation (I've seen 1 million swans and they were all white, therefore all swans are white). However both world views are consistent, given those axioms, so either can be reasonably chosen as a belief system.
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
― Winston S. Churchill
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#43
RE: The First Cause? Prime Mover Argument
There is no "scientific world view".
At the age of five, Skagra decided emphatically that God did not exist.  This revelation tends to make most people in the universe who have it react in one of two ways - with relief or with despair.  Only Skagra responded to it by thinking, 'Wait a second.  That means there's a situation vacant.'
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#44
RE: The First Cause? Prime Mover Argument
(May 9, 2015 at 6:19 pm)reasonablerob Wrote: My experience of philosophy has taught me that every belief system has major problems with justifying itself in terms of its fundamental assumptions(including the scientific one), so what you believe is largely a choice.

This only matters when the fundamental assumptions diverge. Most often that is not the case. Things like realism tend to be shared assumptions between atheist, deist and theist. Did you have a specific assumption in mind?
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#45
RE: The First Cause? Prime Mover Argument
Yeah, we can't know anything, everyone is wrong, science uses induction, blah blah. But the prime mover argument concocted from the naive notions of 2500 years ago, that's totally persuasive!
The fool hath said in his heart, There is a God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Psalm 14, KJV revised edition

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#46
RE: The First Cause? Prime Mover Argument
It's all lies actually, I was there when it happened and there were robotic unicorns and undead Mormons and giant dorritos, praise dog

Or was that just last Thursday
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#47
RE: The First Cause? Prime Mover Argument
(May 9, 2015 at 6:19 pm)reasonablerob Wrote: I'm sure that 20 years down the line, there will probably be a different model of physics again that may itself have very different implications for causality and time and a myriad other things. As truth doesn't change, but scientific consensus and theory do change, scientific consensus and theory cannot equal truth until they reach a point where they cease to change (but how would you ever know that the theory has reached a point where it can no longer change?)

Scientific consensus changes with the available evidence, as it should; it changes in reaction to how our ability to apprehend the truth expands, it follows the truth based on our observations. When our ability to observe expanded so that we could observe that the Earth was not flat, the scientific consensus altered. It altered more when we were able to leave the planet and view how it is from space. The fact that science changes with the evidence is not only its greatest strength, but to do anything else would be a downright ludicrous request, as you would literally be asking that science stands firm in something that's wrong. But to discard the current scientific consensus on the basis that it might be wrong, when it is based on all of the available evidence and observations that we have right now, is simply irrational; you are essentially abandoning all the evidence we have because maybe it's wrong, but you have no indication that it is, you're just assuming... because.

Quote:The criticism on the basis of quantum mechanics is fair, my belief is based on causality and time as being conditions for the possibility of human understanding. But I don't see how we can operate any other way. If the universe doesn't operate according to explicable concepts of time and causation then we literally cannot understand why anything is the way it is, or where it would have come from and must therefore remain agnostic about all things, which shoots atheism in the foot just as surely as anything else.

Do you not see an appreciable difference between "we don't know yet," and "can never be known"? The former is all we can establish yet, which is what makes arguments like yours fallacious; you're trying to make conclusions about things we can't yet explain, based upon observations that don't apply to the thing you're talking about.

Quote:The scientific world-view has its own irreducible assumptions, such as the assumption that a pattern of correlation can establish causation (I've seen 1 million swans and they were all white, therefore all swans are white). However both world views are consistent, given those axioms, so either can be reasonably chosen as a belief system.

So what you're saying is that "I've seen a million white swans and never seen a black swan, therefore there are black swans," is a more valid observation?

I mean, not that what you said is at all accurate in reference to what science does: the conclusion would better be described as "we have observed a million white swans, and this coloration seems consistent across all swans," with that conclusion being subject to change upon observation of a non-white swan. So... hey, maybe learn about the scientific method before you start telling us about the assumptions it makes? Rolleyes
"YOU take the hard look in the mirror. You are everything that is wrong with this world. The only thing important to you, is you." - ronedee

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#48
RE: The First Cause? Prime Mover Argument
(May 9, 2015 at 6:30 pm)Stimbo Wrote: There is no "scientific world view".

No? How so?
The god who allows children to be raped out of respect for the free will choice of the rapist, but punishes gay men for engaging in mutually consensual sex couldn't possibly be responsible for an intelligently designed universe.

I may defend your right to free speech, but i won't help you pass out flyers.

Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.
--Voltaire

Nietzsche isn't dead. How do I know he lives? He lives in my mind.
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#49
RE: The First Cause? Prime Mover Argument
Hmm. You admit you are probably wrong, but you feel OK because everyone else is probably wrong too? That is the tu quoque fallacy.

Thing is, most sceptics would say "I don't know". So they wouldn't be wrong, just honest abut limitations of knowledge. I would not even claim that the conclusion of the hypothesis is wrong per se, but that the arguments that currently try and demonstrate it make flawed assumptions and use logical fallacies. Just like I don't need to claim "there is no God". I simply don't accept the proposition yet due to lack of evidence and arguments. We don't need to actually have the correct answer in order to identify flawed arguments. As a very basic example, I may not know what the square root of 8 is, but I can tell you for sure it's not 2 or 3.

This is a hasty conclusion so please tell me if I'm wrong: it seems you would really like there to be such a thing as a prime mover. Maybe this puts your mind at ease in regard to how things began. You seem to be going to a lot of lengths to justify belief in it, even as far as admitting you're probably wrong. How do you feel about just saying, "I don't know what happened before the plank time"?
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#50
RE: The First Cause? Prime Mover Argument
(May 9, 2015 at 6:19 pm)reasonablerob Wrote: I would have to accept any conclusions that Physics has on the subject on a certain level of faith.

I'm not sure the conclusions are taken on faith. Certain premises are, however:
1) Nature is lawful and its laws can be precisely described by mathematics
2) Physical laws are the same everywhere in the universe and at all times throughout its history
3) Principles of parsimony and symmetry inform the best theoretical systems
4) Truth is established by a cycle of hypothesis, experiment or observation, and peer review

and so on. Other sciences like biology or sociology also start from these premises but may relax the math in (1). I think these premises constitute a belief system, carefully noting that a belief system doesn't have to be a religious or political ideology, or an all-inclusive absolute, even though humans have a tendency to package eclectic sets of beliefs into "platforms" to make jumping on the bandwagon easier. We also have a popular scientific narrative, where the universe begins in the big bang, galaxies, stars, and planets condense, life arises and evolves its way up to a pinnacle of intelligence in Homo sapiens. This narrative is taught beginning in 2nd grade in most schools as fact or history, omitting the philosophical complications and uncertainty that children aren't mature enough to grasp.

Such as that special qualifications, authority, and peer review can lead to orthodoxy and groupthink. The Curia is a peer review system for Roman Catholic doctrine, after all, and arrests in Stalin's great purges were all peer-reviewed and approved by NKVD committees. Thomas Kuhn explained it for scientific paradigms in his Nature of Scientific Revolutions.

But some things, like Apatosaur fossils in Utah that are clearly skeletons of ancient critters which have turned to stone, really are facts. So are the line spectrum of hydrogen and the cosmic microwave radio background hiss. Modern science has done a better job of accounting for these facts, and can predict them from theory sometimes, as with Gamow's big bang and the microwaves. There's no way I could recommend abandoning the scientific project just because I might be "agnostic" concerning some of its basic premises. I like my better living through chemistry too much.  Wink

(May 9, 2015 at 6:19 pm)reasonablerob Wrote: I would also contest that physics or mathematics gives us a truthful picture of "things in themselves" as opposed to a mere model....The scientific world-view has...the assumption that...correlation can establish causation.

So, we should never think of electrons as "real." Instead, we say the electron concept successfully explains electricity and chemical reactions. Prudent.

But scientists don't assume correlation establishes causation. Even social workers know better. A cause will produce a correlation, but not the other way around.
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