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Cosmological ID — Who Designed the Designer?

Some insights can totally change one’s perspective. One of those insights for me was learning that time had a beginning at the origin of the universe. (Oops, “beginning” implies a point on the time line, so let’s change that to “a point of appearing.”) If time came into existence, then the cause of the universe could not have had a cause, or a history, or a beginning, or a designer, because all of these require that the cause of the universe be located on the time line of the universe, which did not exist prior to the creation of the universe. (Oops, can’t use “prior to” because that implies time.)

Thus, the question of who designed the designer is meaningless when it comes to the origin of the universe. The designer must be “it is that it is,” or if “it” is personal, “I am that I am.”

I realize that this twists one’s brain into a Mobius strip, but it does make sense if you think about it.

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42 Responses to Cosmological ID — Who Designed the Designer?

  1. One of my philosophy students put this thought brilliantly: “It’s like following ripples back to the center of a pool and being surprised that a stone is not a ripple” i.e. Each ripple is being pushed by the ripple behind it, but the thing that started this whole process is radically different from a ripple – i.e. a stone falling into the pool.

    Likewise with the idea of a ‘first cause’ or an ‘unmoved mover’ or a ‘cosmic designer’. The problem of infinite regress in the case of cause and effect can only be solved by something that can be a cause but does not require a cause. This ‘first cause’ would have to be something radically different from the universe of classical physics in which everything has a cause.

    Now this ‘first cause’ doesn’t have to be a ‘cosmic designer’; I suppose we could invoke some sort of quantum wierdness. But the ‘who designed the designer’ objection (to cosmological ID, not biological) simply misses the point. A first cause, by definition, is not caused by something else.

  2. I don’t believe the concept of cause and effect dictates every cause requires a cause. It only requires that every cause has an effect and every effect has a cause. Where does one get the idea that every cause necessarily belongs to an antecedent cause? The concept of infinite causes being mandatory is illogical and also just plain silly.
    Thanks

  3. Gil,
    I had one of those insight’s that totally changed my perspective, when I learned that time comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. I never could put my mind around that idea until I realized that it totally agrees with what theologians have been saying along. In a paraphrase of Gerald Shroeder, Relativity has changed a timeless existence from a Theological claim to a physical reality that we know to be true.

  4. This is one of those things that differentiates between ideas of a cosmological designer, and studying biological designers. Design behind biology does not require that Mobius strip-type reasoning (which is more a matter of philosophy than science), but is something that can be studied.

    I think that cosmological and biological design concepts should be kept separate because we’re talking about two completely different kinds of problems.

  5. The complaint against ID and I guess God in general when it comes to “who designed the designer?” is refutable in another way as well. The complaint that ID requires to show what designed the designer is contradicted by the fact that humans can design and build things, yet according to evolutionists humans are not intelligently designed. If we can design things then don’t we need to have been designed if we follow their logic? It’s perfectly allowable in their logical scheme that a natural non intelligent cause created all life and the natural world but it is illogical to them that a cosmic designer would not need to have been designed. The consciousness mind and intellect of humans in their logical scheme is not a product of design, but if we postulate a consciousness mind and intellect infinitely larger older and more powerful then ourselves as a realistic probablity then we need to explain the intelligent cause of that?

    As far as the origin of the universe and time vis-a-vis a designer, the definitions of “universe” and “time” are all important. If by universe we mean “all matter/energy in existence” then we can contrast time relative to the creation of matter/energy. If all matter/energy came into existence at a certain point i.e the big bang or some other cause, then time can be measured from that point onward. But is that really the beginning of all time? Is time only relative to matter/energy?

    What is time? There are 2 basic definitions of time.

    1. A nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.

    2. An interval separating two points on this continuum

    Does matter/energy need to exist in order for the above two realities to exist?

    If matter/energy came into existence into a universe where previously there was no matter/energy then that doesn’t mean that time had to begin at that point. Only time relative to matter/energy came into existence then. If another substance existed prior to matter/energy then time also existed relative to that substance.

    Ultimately reality and time is beginningless because something cannot come from nothing. Since something exists therefore something has always existed because nothing by definition does not exist. Without accepting that reality is beginningless then we face an illogical paradox. If we postulate that ultimately there had to be a beginning of reality then we have to explain where that beginning occured. If reality had a beginning then where did reality come into existence? If nothing exists and then something pops into existence the paradox of “where can something come into existence if nothing exists” cannot be logically answered. The only logically acceptable paradigm is that reality, defined as something which exists, has always existed. If at any point nothing at all existed then nothing would ever exist because there needs to be somewhere in order for something to exist. If there is somewhere then there must be something which defines it as real.

    Also if nothing existed at one point then there would be no causal impetus for something to come into existence.

    So logically something has always existed and there had to have been an original substance of reality without cause. The original substance of reality has logically existed without cause and without any beginning.

    Since reality is beginningless therefore time is also beginningless because time is simply a continuum of reality or a measurement between any number of points withing that continuum.

    The concept that time stops at the speed of light is illogical because time does not move and so therefore cannot stop. Time is a conceptual framework and has no ability to move because there is nothing to move. If we measure points within time relative to each other while simultaneously moving at the speed of light time will not be affected because there is nothing to affect. You cannot slow time because time is not moving, it is static. Everything moves in relation to time, but time cannot move because it is not a real ontic entity, it is a concept, not a substance which exists and can move.

  6. It seems to me that the appeal to the uncaused cause makes ontological sense if the uncaused cause is separate from creation (time, space, matter energy). Barry, I like the puddle analogy. This resting place is more satisfying than the unfinished regress of panspermia where the extraplanetary source of life itself requires causal explanation.

    By the way (slightly OT), here is a recent finding on panspermia that estimates the improbability of life originating on earth (compared to a cometary origin).

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....093819.htm

  7. Oops, I meant BenK.

  8. H’mm:

    Interesting issues on origins and ultimates.

    We are here treading in deep phil waters [too deep and turbulent for Mr Dawkins, it seems], namely the issue of sufficiency of reason for things.

    We want to know why this, why that, and we see no good reason to not press the issue back to origins, of the cosmos, and indeed of reality [a very different thing in principle!].

    That brings up the point that an observed cosmos full of contingent beings, and which itself credibly had a beginning, is plainly on the evidence contingent. So, it had a cause.

    But, there is another way that something can be: there is the implication that the cluster of contingent beings have a root in a NECESSARY being; i.e one that is not caused but is necessary. Such a being is in effect eternal and indestructible.

    On this, the centuries long debate now boils down to:

    [1] some extension to the material cosmos [the quasi-infinite universe as a whole idea], or

    [2] an intelligent creator who is a necessary being.

    Both are inherently metaphysical proposals, and both are not demonstrable beyond logical objection. But, that is a feature of most human reasoning on serious matters that we see.

    A good point to debate the issue further is to first ask concerning the fine-tuned cosmos we observe, is this the reasonable result of a random event in a quasi-infinite universe as a whole, or is it more credibly the mark of intent and agency? Why?

    A good close-off is to suggest a re-look at the old Cosmological Argument as not a purported proof but an inference to best explanation (the best we can do on these matters and most other matters of serious import); setting the underlying context for all of this. (You may want to look at my always linked, Sections D and E, and also at the 102 level discussion of the relevant cluster of arguments here.)

    GEM of TKI

  9. PS: BTW on “time stops at the speed of light.” This seems to be a popular level summary on Einstein’s definition of simultaneity as observer-relative, i.e we judge events “simultaneous” by coincidence of the signals from them, ultimately light. [It is worth noting that Relativity is not relativism; the speed of light is the same constant in-vacuo value in all inertial, non-accelerating, frames of reference, and the laws of physics take their same simplest form in such a frame. Those are STR's core postulates from Einstein, and they are objective and testable.]

  10. The logical underpinning of this discussion is nothing less than the Kalam argument:

    1) That which begins-to-exist must have a cause.
    2) The universe began-to-exist.
    3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.

    The discussion here revolves around the 1st premise. For the 1st premise to be false, either:

    1) Things that come into being don’t need a cause (a form of creation ex nihilo)
    2) Things don’t begin to exist.

    For the 2nd option, I don’t mean that the universe did not have a beginning. Instead I refer to the ‘B’ theory of time alluded to by Mentok above. For this theory of time, the beginning of the universe is akin to the beginning of a meter stick. It just ‘is’; it doesn’t reference a coming into being.

    I don’t think this option is truly open to those who are proponents of evolution. Evolution (things change with respect to time as described by reliable laws of physics; Darwinism is a special case of this) requires temporal becoming. So we are back to the first option. There is a creation-ex-nihilo; but of what type? Is it of the Christian type (lacking only an Aristotelian material cause) or is it of an Atheist character (there is no cause whatsoever).

    We can go to experiment to check. There is a form of creation-ex-nihilo in the universe today that is directly relevant to the question. The source of dark energy within the cosmos is a positive energy density within space itself. This energy density appears constant (i.e. is like Einstein’s cosmological constant; it does not depend on space or time). If the energy density is constant, but space expands, then new energy is constantly being created.

    This is, in fact, the mechanism that is appealed to by the inflationary theory. A ‘false’ vacuum of higher energy density decays to a ‘true’ vacuum with lesser energy density. The excess energy is then available to transform to matter and radiation is a decay to a different vacuum state is available. See Andrei Linde’s presenation at http://energy.nobelprize.org/lectures.html) for a fuller explanation).

    This process demonstrates a creation-ex-nihilo that lacks only a material cause.

    The issue is not left to metaphysics; our own experience of creation-ex-nihilo processes should lead one to believe that the 1st Kalam premise is more plausible than its contradictory and therefore the argument’s conclusion is true.

  11. Somehow I’m uncomfortable with William Lane Craig’s argument that there can be no past eternity. He’s right, of course, there is no traversing an infinity of events. But then neither can I imagine a dynamic world of events emerging from a static world where nothing happens. It is my opinion that as the theologians cast aside the Hebrew God of history in favor of a Platonic realm of pure being they set the stage for Deism and Darwinism. It is also my opinion that Einstein will not have the last word. Newton conceived a stable world as a backdrop for Agency, Einstein went for determinism and relegated God to the laws of physics. If agency is elemental (as in Angus Menuge’s Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science) then time is fundamental. So if and when materialism collapses the next step, let me suggest, is to weave agency back into our physics and philosophy and religion.

  12. I think we need to exercise great caution when responding to “Who designed the designer?” style arguments, for two reasons. First, some versions of this argument are much better than others. (More on this below.) Second, some theistic responses to the “who designed the designer?” argument are philosophically inadequate. This deficiency exposes our faith to ridicule from unbelievers.

    I’d like to begin by addressing the second point, which I shall illustrate by citing an extract from Gil Dodgen’s post:

    “If time came into existence, then the cause of the universe could not have had a cause, or a history, or a beginning, or a designer, because all of these require that the cause of the universe be located on the time line of the universe, which did not exist prior to the creation of the universe. (Oops, can’t use “prior to” because that implies time.)”

    This argument overlooks the distinction between temporal priority and ontological priority. Logically speaking, beginnings and histories have to be located on time lines; causes and designers do not. A cause is ontologically prior to its effect, but it may or may not be temporally prior to its effect. (The same is true for an intelligent cause – i.e. a designer.) In fact, causes (whether intelligent or not) are often simultaneous with their effects. Think of a flame heating a saucepan of water, or an inventor having an idea. God is ontologically prior to the universe, without being temporally prior to it.

    Mr. Dodgen’s argument also proves too much, if taken at face value. If a cause has to be located on a time line, then there can be no timeless cause of the universe – which means that God’s existence is impossible. I’m quite sure that Mr. Dodgen would not want to argue that.

    Interestingly, back in the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas was quite happy to assume for argument’s sake (when disputing with his philosophical opponents) that the universe had existed from all eternity in his famous “Third Way”. However, he did not draw the conclusion that the universe must be uncaused. Instead, he took the argument a step further – “every necessary thing has its necessity caused by another, or not” – and then proceeded to rule out an infinite regress. In the subsequent question (Summa Theologica I, q.3), he then argued that this uncaused cause could not be a material one.

    Incidentally, the comment by mentok, that “Since reality is beginningless therefore time is also beginningless because time is simply a continuum of reality” strikes me as very odd. I have always thought of time as a measure of motion (following Aristotle). If motion has a beginning, then so has time. Aristotle would have denied the antecedent, of course; but for anyone who accepts the Big Bang, the notion that motion (and hence time) seems a plausible – perhaps probable – conclusion.

    I would also like to ask some contributors to this post why they are so attracted to the Kalam cosmological argument, when there is a much better cosmological argument available for God’s existence: the argument from contingency, as refined by Robert Koons. Indeed, Koons has published two versions online. Here are the relevant addresses:

    http://www.arn.org/docs/koons/cosmo.pdf

    http://www.leaderu.com/offices.....cture.html

    The reason why I prefer the argument from contingency is that as Leibniz realized, in making this argument, you don’t have to commit yourself to philosophically contentious notions like the impossibility of an actual infinite. Also, while the kalam argument seems clearer and simpler, it is very difficult to argue on a priori grounds that a being with no beginning has to be non-physical, let alone intelligent. The oft-cited argument that if the beginningless cause that produced the universe were purely physical, it would automatically give rise to its effect (the universe), which would then imply (contrary to fact) that the universe had no beginning, mistakenly equates “physical” with deterministic. And the newly popular “abductive” argument – that a personal agent with freedom of will who decided to create the universe is the best explanation of our universe popping into existence – is vulnerable to the atheistic riposte: “Well, it may be the best explanation we can think up, but there may be some other explanation that human beings, because of their cognitive limitations, are simply incapable of conceiving. The universe may, as J. S. Haldane suggested, be queerer than we can imagine.”

    Koons’ argument from contingency, on the other hand, is much more robust. It can easily be argued that a physical cause of any sort – even a set of basic physical laws, such as the “final theory of everything” proposed by some physicists – would still be contingent, and hence in need of explanation.

    If we combine this argument from contingency with the Cosmic Argument from Design (based not only on fine-tuning but also on the unexpected beauty of the laws of nature), then the notion that the cosmos might be the work of an intelligent agent makes sense. We can use a Thomistic argument from analogy here, which Koons defends in his paper, “A New Look at the Cosmological Argument”, where he also distinguishes it from Paley’s argument for a designer.

    The Cosmic Argument from Design is, I would suggest, more robust than arguments based on the complexity of some part of the cosmos (e.g. our biosphere), for the simple reason that the only possible alternatives are to take the fine-tuning as a brute fact (which is absurd, as the laws of nature are still metaphysically contingent) or to try to remove the contingency by positing a multiverse where everything possible happens. Robin Cook argues for the failure of the Multiverse hypothesis, and also develops the point I alluded to above about the beauty of the laws of nature, in his article, “Design and the Many-Worlds Hypothesis” at http://home.messiah.edu/~rcollins/muv2.htm

    Some contributors have belittled the “Who designed the designer?” argument. I think this kind of mockery is dangerously naive. I for one take this argument very seriously, for it can be formulated rigorously, using premises that look quite plausible:

    (1) Inductive argument: everything which is irreducibly complex has a cause. This generalization looks solid: we have never empirically observed any exceptions to it.

    (2) Inductive argument: intelligent designers are more complex than the objects they design. Again, we have never observed any exceptions to this rule.

    (3) ID Postulate 1: all irreducibly complex objects and/or systems within the the cosmos which pre-date the emergence of intelligent life within the cosmos (i.e. objects such as the DNA molecule; systems such as the blood-clotting cascade), have an intelligent designer outside the cosmos. (This postulate rests on the inductive observation that all of the irreducibly complex objects and/or systems which we have observed coming into existence, have an intelligent cause.)

    (4) From (2), this designer is more complex than the cosmos.

    (5) All complex entities are either reducibly or irreducibly complex. (Law of Excluded Middle.)

    (6) ID Postulate 2: An irreducibly complex entity must have a cause which is not reducibly complex. (Sounds intuitively plausible; again, no exceptions have been observed.)

    (7) Since the designer of the cosmos designed some irreducibly complex systems, it must also be irreducibly complex. (It cannot be simple, by (4); and neither can it be reducibly complex, by (6); so it must be irreducibly complex.)

    (8) By (1), the designer of the cosmos has a cause.

    However,

    (9) Anything which has a cause is not God.

    Thus

    (10) God did not design the cosmos.

    What’s wrong with the argument? One could question the inductive generalizations, (1) and (2). Problem is, two can play at that game. For the ID postulate (3) rests upon an inductive postulate as well: every irreducibly complex object or system that we have observed coming into existence, has a designer. If (1) and (2) could be false, then an atheist might argue that (3) could be wrong too.

    Another approach might be to argue that “more complex” is a meaningless phrase, as complexity is difficult to quantify. Yet it seems overwhelmingly obvious that a DNA molecule is more complex than a benzene molecule.

    My own suggestion is that we need to question the seemingly innocuous fifth premise, that all complexity is either reducible or irreducible. Both kinds of complexity assume the existence of parts that can be separated. If the system fails to function properly when even one part is removed then it is irreducible; if its functioning survives the removal of one or more parts then it is reducible. But what about an entity whose parts are incapable of being separated from one another? By “incapable” I mean “metaphysically incapable”, not just physically incapable. In other words, how do we describe a complex Being whose dissolution is impossible? Neither the term “reducibly complex” nor “irreducibly complex” seems to do such a Being justice; we might call it “indestructibly complex.”

    Traditionally, the Scholastic philosophers held that God is altogther simple. To this day, the view has its able defenders, such as Dr. Alexander Pruss (see http://www9.georgetown.edu/fac.....icity.html ) and Dr. William Vallicella (see http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....implicity/ ). They may be right; however, the notion that something (or rather Someone) utterly simple could account for the various sights, smells, sounds, tastes and feelings that we experience, in all their glorious diversity, seems profoundly counter-intuitive, to say the least. I would be very reluctant to pursue this line of argument with an intelligent, well-read atheist who was familiar with the philosophical problems attending the doctrine of divine simplicity. It seems easier to defend the notion of a God who is personal, complex and yet metaphysically indestructible, because God’s “parts” are perfectly integrated.

    If an atheist asks you “Who designed the designer?” then the correct response is not: “Something outside time”; but: “A metaphysically necessary Being, which cannot be broken into separate parts. Such a Being would need no designer.”

  13. How much time did it take God to make time? At what time did he do this (at what time did God make time)?

    What is timelessness? Say, as per existence? What is it to ‘exist’ outside of time?

    Existence itself is a time word.
    Any existence implies duration of some kind. The only kind we know of is Time.

    In scripture God says both, “I am that I am” and I am he that “was, is and is to come” all time words indicating duration.

    An ancient stone found in Italy bore the inscription,
    “I am what I was — God
    I was not what I am — man
    I am now both — God and man”

    So, how does the incarnation fit into the “eternal now” (or timeless God) theology?

    Is there a paradox or a contradiction here?

    I’ve found that one way of debunking the ages old, “who made god” or the newer “who designed the designer” nonsense is by explaining that an infinite series of events without an ultimate cause is a logical absurdity.

    An event without a cause is absurd (in spite of claims by some in quantum physics, virtual particles etc.)

    God is not an event at all. His existence is necessary to all other existences. A necessary existence must be eternally existent and thus uncaused.

    When contemplating these things one feels like saying, in the words of the Wizard of OZ, “I don’t know how it works!”.

  14. Rude,

    Craig does not argue that there is a static realm that preexists our temporal realm. Rather he argues that God himself is timeless prior to entering into a temporal relationship with the universe. This ‘first’ state is logically but not temporally prior to the current state of affairs.

    In fact, as a corollary to the Kalam argument, he argues that explaining a temporal effect from a timeless cause can only come from agency. Otherwise the cause and the effect would both exist together timelessly.

    So, in fact, I don’t think your position is as far from Craig’s as you might think.

  15. borne: “What is timelessness? Say, as per existence? What is it to ‘exist’ outside of time?”

    If you contemplate your own consciousness, you may get an idea about what it may be like.

    For example, peer up at the blue sky and while trying to ignore all the temporal noise around you, just consider the blueness of the experience. You can mark time by the beginning and end of an experience, but the quality of the experience itself seems to be in another category. A timeless one, IMO.

  16. vjtorley:

    If the cosmic designer can be irreducibly complex for which there need not be an intelligent cause, then that doesn’t automatically make the irreducible complexity of biological organisms also be able to exist without intelligent cause.

    Biological organisms are comprised of machine parts each of which are specified for their needed functions. We know that each of the parts of the machine needs some type of cause. The machine is specified for a particular function and the parts are also specified. Whatever caused the specified complexity doesn’t necessarily need to be more complex then what is being caused. All that is required is that the cause be competent. Blind forces are incompetent cause because the end result would need to be known in order for the machine parts to be sufficiently specified to enable the machine to function as observed. Darwinists like to imagine magical properties of cells which enable them to mutate at rates and in varieties which contradict all observations of actual mutations.

    If the cosmic designer or God can be irreducibly complex and be caused by something which is less complex then itself and be without intelligent cause, then that doesn’t make the irreducibly complex nature of biological organisms any less so. One doesn’t automatically necessitate the other in some kind of causal philosophical principle.

    You wrote:

    “(9) Anything which has a cause is not God.

    Thus

    (10) God did not design the cosmos.”

    Number 9 is not axiomatic. A God need not be without cause, all that he needs is competent power which would empower him as a God i.e able to do what we think a cosmic designer or God can do. He may be with or without cause. It isn’t the nature of the origin of a God which defines him a God, it is his nature and capabilities.

    Logically the God of today had to have some type of cause in the past in the sense of transformational cause. God may or may not have needed a direct cause, either is possible; i.e. God may be the original beginningless substance of reality or caused by it, but God had to have a transformational cause in order to become what God is today. What this means is that the God of today has the knowledge on how to build the natural world within which we exist. From physics to biology the amount of knowledge and information needed in order to build the natural world is immense.

    A designer makes a design. It is a process. First there is a plan then the carrying out of that plan. The level of sophistication we observe in the natural world proves that God has an immense amount of knowledge on how to build extremely complex things. There had to have been a time when that knowledge was being acquired. A design needs the planning stage and the knowledge acquistion stage. Therefore there had to be a time before God built the natural world. There had to be a knowledge acquisition period where God learned how to build the natural world. In fact there had to be a time when God was without any knowledge about anything because all knowledge is based upon experience and information. In order to gain experience and information there had to be a time when you had no experience or information. God had to develop his knowledge because knowledge is about knowing something. You cannot know something unless you can process information which is experienced. Ultimately God had a beginning in the sense of an intellectual beginning, there is no other way for an intellectual being to exist. God may or may not be the original beginningless cause, but he has to have been at the most a transformation of the original cause. Something happened which caused God to develop knowledge from a state of no knowledge. Perhaps God is the original beginningless cause, but that God substance had to change at some point in order that God gain knowledge and intellect.

    In the bible it is said in the beginning was the word and the word was god, and in truth, the word, or language, the ability to communicate, was the beginning of God’s intellectual life and God as a God. Without being able to communicate to yourself through a language of some type then there can be no sophisticated intellectual life. God’s life as a sophisticated intellectual entity began when he developed the ability to communicate with himself with a cogent mental symbol system or language, words.

  17. SinclairJD,

    But if the argument isn’t that there is a static realm that preexists our temporal realm, just that God himself is timeless (i.e., static, inert) prior to entering into a temporal relationship with the universe … then is God never active otherwise? That’s what bothers me. I’m sure Craig knows what he’s talking about … yet if we say a temporal effect from a timeless cause can only come from agency, are we then saying that God has expressed his agency only a finite number of times? Or do we let God act in many worlds an infinite number of times as long as we don’t have him doing it all in sequence?

    Also I wonder what Craig would say about human agency: Is it a timeless cause?

  18. There is a book “World without time”. I found a blurb about it here by one of Gil’s biggest fans: A World Without Time

  19. Interesting:

    I see VJT’s and Mentok’s interventions and find them quite significant.

    I note on a few points, if you all don’t mind:

    1] VJT: the newly popular “abductive” argument – that a personal agent with freedom of will who decided to create the universe is the best explanation of our universe popping into existence – is vulnerable to the atheistic riposte: “Well, it may be the best explanation we can think up, but there may be some other explanation that human beings, because of their cognitive limitations, are simply incapable of conceiving.

    And, in turn, that objection is self-destructive, via the fallacy that I have descriptively called “selective hyper-skepticism.” [Here, in the form of blatant inconsistency in acceptability of and openness to methodology and findings.]

    For, most contemporary atheists — and certainly the relevant ones — are so by virtue of being “Scientific” evolutionary materialists. (They hold to the great cosmic myth of origins from hydrogen to humans by purely material and derived processes tracing to chance and necessity, and as elaborated by the great prophet, “Science.”)

    But, on the immediate illustration of say Popper, Kuhn and Lakatos, etc, adn case studies they considered, we understand that Science is a contingent, changing process that seeks better and better explanations of the cosmos and what lies in it.

    So, they accept that one may rationally, existentially commit to reliable findings and explanations, even though such are provisional and may not exhaust what human imaginations and future discoveries may unveil.

    In that context, one has a plain epistemic duty to consider fairly live option candidates for “best current explanation,” whether or no some future explanation may change the verdict. So the “blank check on the future” objection designed to block fair evaluation of a current live option on best explanation, is inconsistent, agenda-serving and irrational.

    2] VJT: If an atheist asks you “Who designed the designer?” then the correct response is not: “Something outside time”; but: “A metaphysically necessary Being, which cannot be broken into separate parts. Such a Being would need no designer.”

    I agree, noting that such a being is either simple and/or inherently irreducibly complex.

    But then, too, the core of the point is the issue over an observed cosmos full of contingent beings that itself on the best current findings is itself contingent, requires a necessary being as its suffciently good explanation. And, such a NB, is in turn, not subject to the question of causation, as necessity is self-explanatory.

    Couple that to the alternative [i.e. candidate "necessary being"] explanations on the fine-tuned cosmos we do observe and we see that of the major options, the one you summed up is the best by a very long shot.

    3] M: Biological organisms are comprised of machine parts each of which are specified for their needed functions . . . The machine is specified for a particular function and the parts are also specified. Whatever caused the specified complexity doesn’t necessarily need to be more complex then what is being caused. All that is required is that the cause be competent.

    Excellent point, worth highlighting.

    It is also worth noting that the implicit assumption in the mindset of a Dawkins etc, is the myth of evolution from simple to complex. So, conceptually, they can see relatively simple parts being assembled by agents or by chance to form a whole, but they overlook the concept of a necessary being as teh cause of a world of contingent beings, and further are blind to the issue that such a being may be irreducible and certainly has not been assembled by whatever forces.

    But, in a world that finds such phil ideas hard to see, not having had to ask and think about such big ideas, the Plato’s Cave-style shadow-show rhetoric that appeals to such ignorance of issues, concepts and reasons, can be very persuasive though uterly unsound.

    4] M: A God need not be without cause, all that he needs is competent power which would empower him as a God i.e able to do what we think a cosmic designer or God can do. He may be with or without cause. It isn’t the nature of the origin of a God which defines him a God, it is his nature and capabilities.

    Such a “God” is logically possible, but it is not the God of Western thought, and so is not a serious live option up to date.

    I also note that if God is a necessary being as to nature then he would not require any external cause: that which BEGINS to exist plainly requires a cause, but that which is a necessary being has no beginning and is indestructible and is irreducible in the sense of breaking apart parts that come together to make up a functional whole. (Indeed, that “coming together” would precisely be a cause . . .)

    GEM of TKI

  20. Hey–this is fun!

    It strikes me, perhaps naively, that it is impossible to prove the existence of God through reason unless God is intellect in his essence. If God is something bigger than intellect, something more gracious than judgment, then reason falls short of the mark, as seen in Job’s friends.

    The mind, which is made of nothing, must have some solid ground on which to base its judgments. Thus any attempt to prove the existence of God by rational means requires the use of axioms, which, in turn, are clearly a product of mind. We just happen to be living in an age that has become very wary of axioms and of philosophy in general, since philosophy failed to provide the happiness it promised. Fortunately it is no longer necessary to invoke axioms in order to make an argument for God, however–because of the insights of modern science.

    For example, the coincidences that are necessary to the existence of life are now well-known–precise distance from the sun, tilt, rate of rotation and revolution, amount of energy coming from the sun, etc. The necessity of this confluence of coincidences is as obvious as the North and South Poles, which are inhabitable. No axiom is needed in order to point out the strangeness of the confluence or the extreme improbability of it happening purely by chance.

    Admittedly, such an argument is a good deal humbler than the high-flying type of metaphysics seen in Thomas, but it does not have the Achilles’ heel that made Thomism vulnerable to Rationalism and the campaign to annihilate axioms. Such an argument rests in faith, not in the power of reason. It does not attempt to prove the existence of God per se; it remains content to point out that the non-existence of God seems highly unlikely, given what we actually know.

    Of course this is what Michael Behe has done with his mousetrap. Even the simplest living cells are dauntingly complex. This observation does not depend upon axioms; it is an acknowledged fact of microbiology. The scoffers can resist the inference to design, but it is impossible to dismiss Behe’s argument as the product of unfounded axioms. There is nothing axiomatic about it.

    Just for the fun of it, we’ll throw in another potential sign of design that does not depend upon axioms: the beauty of nature. We know from experience that it is difficult for rational beings to create anything even remotely as beautiful as what is seen in nature. Hence the onus for accounting for the existence of natural beauty falls to the materialists, not to those who believe in a creator. Darwin is the only materialist I know of who made a serious attempt to rise to this challenge, and the results are risible.

    The arguments seen here about time, by the way, all fall comfortably within the argument strategies laid out long ago by Augustine and Aquinas. And this makes sense, because there are only two ways for the mind to make judgments about being–either through its capacity for absolute judgments, or through its capacity to conceive of being as a construct of intellect and matter.

  21. Rude,

    You ask: “(if) God himself is timeless (i.e., static, inert) prior to entering into a temporal relationship with the universe … then is God never active otherwise?”

    Your intuition, I believe, is that such a state of affairs is implausible.

    I suggest we ‘keep our eye on the ball’ with respect to two issues.

    First, there is a distinction between the ontological (what is the full nature of reality) and epistemic (what do we / can we know about reality) dimensions of this problem. Craig is operating, here, in the epistemic realm; i.e. he is attempting to explain the relationship of God to the universe we know. It would be an argument from silence (a fallacy) to then say that Craig denies that God could use his agency to perform other acts of creation (separate from our universe).

    BTW you can ask him yourself; check our http://www.reasonablefaith.org

    Secondly, one has to keep in mind the question Craig is attempting to adjudicate. He is attempting to defend the Christian truth claim. As such, his responsibility is limited to accounting for our universe and its relationship to God. If the Bible said explicitly that there were other universes, or that numbers were created entities, etc. then the situation would be more interesting. But it does no such thing.

    Your question is a good one; there is a philosopher at Notre Dame who is attempting to use similar arguments to refute Craig.

  22. vjtorley

    Mr. Dodgen’s argument also proves too much, if taken at face value. If a cause has to be located on a time line, then there can be no timeless cause of the universe – which means that God’s existence is impossible. I’m quite sure that Mr. Dodgen would not want to argue that.

    I believe there is some confusion here. My contention was not that a cause must be located on a time line (the cause of the universe, and that means the time line itself, must not have been). My contention was that in order for the designer to have had a history, and therefore a beginning and a designer, it would have to rest on a time line. Presumably, if the designer of the universe was designed, there must have been a point in time when this designer did not exist, in order for its design to make an appearance, as the result of a previous designer. But no such point in time could have existed until time made an appearance.

  23. SinclairJD:

    You ask: “(if) God himself is timeless (i.e., static, inert) prior to entering into a temporal relationship with the universe … then is God never active otherwise?”

    Your intuition, I believe, is that such a state of affairs is implausible.

    Not really. For wouldn’t such a God be Plato’s god, which is indistinguishable from the abstract Platonic realm and which, I believe, manifests itself correctly in our time in the mathematical realism of the physicists (numbers are not created entities) and in the natural law of the theologians (such as J. Budziszewski writes about)?

    Anyway I have my reservations and would pose the following:

    1) Is God, in his timeless state, completely inactive? And if so, then does it make any sense to speak of a “living God” (aside from however many front-loading incidents indicated by ID)?

    2) Do we seek a reductionist theology that derives doing from being, action from inaction, agency from timelessness?

    I’m no theologian yet still skeptical—for it seems that the more we define God the more we limit him. I’m all for the theologians having their say, but when the day is done I think ID is where we begin to answer the skeptics. The first question—can we detect design?—leads irrevocably to the question: is agency a mechanism or is it elemental?

    Our civilization is based on opposing Greek and Hebrew thought worlds—on that y’all might enjoy the following from Assaf Inbari.

  24. I always was facinated by the fact that all postive after-life experiences say their perception of time is dramatically altered.

    De^ath – research conclusions
    ….. Time stops when we d^ie. Past, present and future become the eternal now. …
    http://www.near- . /experiences/research10.html

  25. My computer babysitter will not allow the word de^ath to be typed so you have to insert de^ath after near in the address I listed to get to the site

  26. For those who have a hard time believing it is possible for us to live after de^ath I submit this;

    http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel.....sponse.htm

  27. vjtorley:

    You’re onto something when you say that, “we need to question the seemingly innocuous fifth premise,” that premise being:

    (5) All complex entities are either reducibly or irreducibly complex. (Law of Excluded Middle.)

    Sez who? By definition, the reductionists who are framing the “who designed the designer” arguments don’t believe it, but are making use of it to try to hoist ID on its on petard.

    I believe that a theist critique of the premise would tag it as a Fallacy of the Excluded Middle.

    BTW, thank you for the excellent links.

  28. Rude,

    You ask: “For wouldn’t such a God [such as Craig proposes] be Plato’s god, which is indistinguishable from the abstract Platonic realm and which, I believe, manifests itself correctly in our time in the mathematical realism of the physicists (numbers are not created entities) and in the natural law of the theologians . . .”

    No, because it is generally agreed within philosophy that abstract universals (such as numbers, or the laws of physics if Platonism were true) are causally inert. Craig proposes that agency must be associated with mind which would be a concrete universal (eligible to have causal powers).

    Further, the God of the neo-Platonists is spoken of as ‘emanating’ being which would suggest a ‘B’ theory of time. Craig suggests that ‘temporal becoming’ is true (i.e. things ‘begin to exist’ as opposed to just ‘have a beginning’).

    You ask “Is God, in his timeless state, completely inactive? And if so, then does it make any sense to speak of a “living God” “.

    First, God is in a temporal state in his relationship to us so there doesn’t seem to be a problem. But if you are refering to the state prior to universe creation, I know Craig has a paper (see the ‘Divine Eternity’ section on the reasonablefaith.org website) which discusses consciousness in light of a timeless state. If a timeless, changeless God were just an inert ‘thing’, then you are right: that is not the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob.

    BTW, I suggest Craig’s “TIME AND ETERNITY” which is a popular level work on precisely this subject.

    You suggest: “I’m no theologian yet still skeptical—for it seems that the more we define God the more we limit him.”

    I agree that the subject is a minefield. Process theology, for example, is one of its bastard stepchildren. But one has to be able to demonstrate coherency of a belief system both for oneself and to answer the skeptics.

  29. 1. GilDodgen:

    Thank you for the clarification. I now realize that what you were arguing against was the notion of the designer of the universe (and hence of time) having had a history (which presupposes time). I’m curious to know what you would make of the atheistic proposal that we live in a “Russian doll” universe, where each universe’s time is embedded within that of a larger universe, ad infinitem. It seems to me that the only surefire way to knock this silly idea on the head is to point out that the “omniverse” would still be contingent, and in need of explanation.

    2. mentok:

    Your suggestion that God must have had a history, and must have progressed from ignorance to awareness, is an intriguing one, but I don’t think it would persuade a classical theist. Of all the world’s major religions, I can think of only one that might find your notion of a God acquiring awareness congenial: Hinduism. You write:

    “A designer makes a design. It is a process. First there is a plan then the carrying out of that plan. The level of sophistication we observe in the natural world proves that God has an immense amount of knowledge on how to build extremely complex things. There had to have been a time when that knowledge was being acquired.”

    A classical theist would respond to this argument by distinguishing between logical and temporal priority. A plan is logically prior to its execution; but it does not follow that it must be temporally prior to it.

    Another argument which you put forward is based on the way in which knowledge is acquired:

    “In fact there had to be a time when God was without any knowledge about anything because all knowledge is based upon experience and information. In order to gain experience and information there had to be a time when you had no experience or information.”

    A classical theist would certainly question the premise that knowledge has to be based on experience. Other avenues of knowledge need to be considered: God might have knowledge of certain truths simply by virtue of being God (i.e. as a consequence of His nature); or by virtue of decreeing certain events to happen (rather like the author of a book); or by having counterfactual knowledge of what each individual would do in every situation (the Molinist position).

    In any case, God’s knowledge of the world that He made could not possibly be based on experience. Experience of what? A world which He has not created yet? Or do you mean that God must experience Himself before He can create anything? You seem to suggest this when you write:

    “God’s life as a sophisticated intellectual entity began when he developed the ability to communicate with himself with a cogent mental symbol system or language, words.”

    I grant your point about thought requiring some kind of language. But why does the internal language of God have to be an acquired one? Why can’t it be innate – part of God’s very nature? The classical theist position is that God’s very nature consists in knowing and loving Himself perfectly.

    Certainly, the relationship between God and time remains the subject of controversy among Christian theologians. However, the point at issue among these theologians is not whether God is temporal by nature, but rather whether God is completely outside time (the classical theist view) or whether God became temporal when He made the free decision to create the world (God as omnitemporal). Professor Paul Helm is the ablest defender of the former view; while Professor William Craig is the most articulate proponent of the latter view. I’ll pass on these links for the benefit of readers who wish to wade into these theological waters:

    Professor William Craig
    http://www.leaderu.com/offices.....rnity.html
    http://www.leaderu.com/offices.....ality.html

    Key quote: “It seems that in being related to the world God must undergo extrinsic change and so be temporal.”

    Professor Paul Helm
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/eternity/

    Key quote: “Even if the universe is created in time, and even if a timelessly eternal God eternally creates the universe by willing a temporal succession of events without changing his will, he has a timeless relation to each of these.”

    Happy hunting!

    3. Rude:

    You write:
    “Is God, in his timeless state, completely inactive? And if so, then does it make any sense to speak of a ‘living God’…?”

    Good question. As I understand it, the classical theist position of St. Thomas Aquinas is that God, although timeless, is essentially active – indeed, St. Thomas repeatedly refers to Him as “Pure Act.” Certainly knowing and loving are actions. I guess what the question boils down to is this: does the notion of God knowing and loving timelessly make sense? In particular, does it make sense to say that God timelessly knows and loves His creatures? I hope that the articles I cited above by Professors Craig and Helm prove useful to you.

    4. kairosfocus:

    I am happy to concede the validity of your point about the irrationality of what you call “selective hyper-skepticism”, when you argue that “one has a plain epistemic duty to consider fairly live option candidates for ‘best current explanation,’ whether or no some future explanation may change the verdict.” However, there is one major limitation of this line of thinking: all it can possibly demonstrate is that God is the best current explanation of what we know about the world. A theist wishing to find a rational ground for her faith in God (and not all theists do) would want an argument purporting to show something stronger: that God is the best possible rational explanation of the world.

    It seems to me that to get this result, we have to shoot down all possible alternatives to God as defective explanations. The key defect, I would suggest, is that non-theistic explanations of the cosmos are impersonal. The personalist philosopher John Macmurray has argued in his books “The Self as Agent” and “Persons in Relation” that the very notion of impersonal agency is an emaciated one, which can only be understood by starting with the idea of personal agency and stripping away certain key features of it (such as intention). In other words, the notion of impersonal agency (whether by laws of nature or blind forces) is epistemically derivative, rather than basic. To even entertain the notion, we have to start with the idea of a person acting.

    An atheist might retort that we have no right to expect the ontology of reality to reflect the epistemic order of our (human-centred) way of understanding things. Blind forces might explain everything in the cosmos (including human agency), even if we can only conceive of these blind forces by subtracting certain key features (such as intention) from our own concept of agency. However, such an atheistic position is cognitively defeatist: even if atheism were true, it could never be intellectually satisfying.

    Well, that’s as far as I’ve got in my ruminations. It seems that personalism is a promising avenue of theological enquiry for explaining why the idea of God is the best way to account for the world. However, I have to admit that I’ve read precious little by personalist theologians. Any recommendations from readers?

    5. jstanley01:

    I believe another name for what you rightly refer to as the Fallacy of the Excluded Middle is: the false dilemma. I’m glad you found the links useful.

  30. Have you guys ever received a vision? I don’t talk to many people about it, especially athiests, but if my experience was what I percieved it to be then perhaps I could shed some light on this situation. In my vision I had a conversation with a person in an immaterial world. This world was outside our physical reality, so I would imagine that reality before the big bang may very well be like this. There was no physcial reality. You could not touch anything, but there were objects and people in a spirit form. There was also conversation and movement. So in a sense time also existed there, but not the type of time we experience because there was no decay. I image it was an environment like this from which God created the universe. Time exists, but a different type of time. Our universe was created with its own time from within another set of dimensions, to borrow some scifi terminology. God exists outside of our time, in His own dimension(s) of time, before our time and sequence of cause and effect began.

  31. vjtorley you wrote:

    “I grant your point about thought requiring some kind of language. But why does the internal language of God have to be an acquired one? Why can’t it be innate – part of God’s very nature? ”

    Regardless of being a God or any other type of intellectual entity the nature of knowledge and information is that in order for a mind to comprehend knowledge and information the mind needs to first make sense of it. No intellectual being can be educated on something without first having that knowledge become comprehended. That is simple logic. Regardless of what classical theists may believe no entity can do the impossible. Therefore no entity can be educated without first being educated.

    Secondly the nature of the mind and it’s relationship with intelligence and knowledge is that the mind requires the ability to communicate with itself through a language of some type. Otherwise nothing is comprehensible beyond the level of an animal. Without language a mind is left bereft of intellectual progress beyond a limited point. A language cannot be without beginning because it is a design. It consists of words, word meanings, etc. Therefore the original intelligence had to design a language for itself from a state of having no language.

    Some may argue that certain animals display knowledge without education e.g. a spider knows how to spin a web. That kind of knowledge is caused by an intelligence which designed the spider and provided it with the ability to have the knowledge on how to build a web. The knowledge on how to build a web is given to the spider by another intelligence. When it comes to the first intelligence in all of existence, by it’s nature of being the first, that means that there was no previous source of knowledge and intelligence to inform it of anything. The first intelligence was on it’s own and had to develop it’s knowledge without aid from any other intelligence. All knowledge it has had to have been acquired through it’s own experience and efforts.

    You also wrote:

    “In any case, God’s knowledge of the world that He made could not possibly be based on experience. Experience of what? A world which He has not created yet? Or do you mean that God must experience Himself before He can create anything?”

    God’s knowledge of whatever God knows, was acquired. All knowledge is acquired. How did God acquire knowledge? The details are impossible for us to understand because of the difference between what God is and experiences, and what we are and can experience. We are different categories of being who exist in radically different ontological paradigms. But through the process of elimination we can grasp a basic idea of how God gained knowledge.

    God has to have had an intellectual beginning because a prerequisite for an advanced intellectual life would be the use of a language to be able to communicate to yourself. That would require the design and creation of a language. How did God design a language? All we can say with confidence is that somehow God was able to that. What was God doing before that? Who can say? But logically God had to have a beginning of an intellectual life from a lower state of existence. Just like as humans we begin as embryos then go through childhood and adulthood, through stages of development, so to did God. Of course God didn’t have a body like ours. God is an entity who has some inherent interwoven relationship with the very essence of all reality. To try to give some visual representation of that relationship we can imagine an ocean comprised of an unknown substance which goes in all directions, infinite in scope. No land, no sky, no space, just an ocean existing everywhere. It’s always been there and always will be, it defines reality and it is limitless because there logically cannot be an end to reality. Reality has to be infinite because there cannot be a place where reality stops. If we reach a place where we think reality stops what will we find there? A wall? Nothing? Nothing doesn’t exist. Therefore reality, as incomprehensible as it seems, is infinite and without beginning or end. It cannot be otherwise. Defining reality is an ocean of some unknown substance. Something has to exist in order for reality to exist. That “something” has to exist everywhere reality exists because it defines reality. Since reality has to be infinite therefore that something which makes reality real is also infinite. Therefore there is an infinite ocean of some unknown type within which everything exists.

    What are the properties of that infinite ocean? All we can say for certain is that at some point an intelligence developed and became so intelligent and so self aware, so aware and knowledgeable of it’s infinite power and potential, that it was able to eventually develop the knowledge on how to build our world i.e. our 3 dimensional universe of matter/energy which follows a very precise design and laws, atoms, molecules, elements, stars, planets, and all life forms and living consciousness/soul/mind within the life forms.

    You also wrote:

    “Your suggestion that God must have had a history, and must have progressed from ignorance to awareness, is an intriguing one, but I don’t think it would persuade a classical theist. Of all the world’s major religions, I can think of only one that might find your notion of a God acquiring awareness congenial: Hinduism.”

    Within Hinduism many would disagree with my proposal since most of the Hindu scriptures usually teach that God is without beginning and that God has always existed as God. Although in the oldest Hindu texts (Rg Veda) there is a section where it describes the birth of God as an intellectual being. And in other texts there is metaphoric myth which has been interpreted to tell the story of God’s development into being able to create the universe i.e. from a state of ignorance to the development of the mind and intellect to the development of knowledge to the creation of the universe. (the Brahma creation myth)

    I would disagree that other religions have no similar concpetions. In some forms of Judaism I think God is seen as an evolving entity, and in the Bible it is very clear that there is a “beginning” i.e. “In the beginning”. And for me in Christianity the life of Jesus is a metaphor for the life of God. How so? From my understanding of the life of God what God had to go through in order to eventually be able to build planets and give us life, was nothing short of a very difficult time for God. God came into intellectual awareness all alone. There was no one to explain what was going on, no one to offer comfort, no one to aid God in any way. As humans we could not survive such a situation if we were born into a similar situation with no aid from anyone. Yet God being the first being, was very definitely, very much, very alone. And without any knowledge of where he was or what he was. Obviously being in that situation would not be pleasant once God’s intellect started to develop awareness of his situation. It would have taken a long time to develop intellectually without any aid from anyone. Fear must have set in once God realized he was the only living being in existence, fear of being alone forever, without any hope of change. It would have taken a long time to develop knowledge on how to build a world so as to have something interesting to do and most of all have someone to be with, to not be alone. God must have suffered quite a lot. But due to that suffering we are all saved from the realm of non existence. God suffered in ways we cannot comprehend for a period of time we cannot imagine. Without God going through that suffering we could not exist, this universe could not exist. God suffered and metaphorically died for us. He was reborn from his life of ignorance, fear, and struggle, and loneliness, into a life of happiness when he figured out how to build the universe and create people he could relate with.

  32. VJT (et al)

    Wind is dying down now, rains have gone through, got back power late afternoon.

    Now, I wish to take up an interesting point or two:

    1] VJT, 29: this line of thinking: all it can possibly demonstrate is that God is the best current explanation of what we know about the world . . .

    Prexactly.

    So, it follows that our intellectual duty then is to pursue the candle-light that has shined on us thereby. As John Locke said in the introduction, section 5, to this Essay on Human Understanding:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2, Ac 17, etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.

    Further to this, we routinely treat as reliable and entrust our life and limb to the findings of a science that gives no more assurance than inference to best explanation.

    So, on pain of selective hyper-skepticism [I only claim here a descriptive term, Simon Greenleaf and many others have commented on the substance of what I set out to so describe] why should we not sincerely reach out to God on the thesis that he is the best explanation for what we see, then learn first hand for ourselves through meeting him? [Thus, see for ourselves, through interpersonal encounter, what the candle that is set up in us points to by shining a dim and guttering light.]

    For, in him we live and move and have our being and he is not far from us if haply we should grope, even blindly but sincerely for him . . .

    2] A theist wishing to find a rational ground for her faith in God (and not all theists do) would want an argument purporting to show something stronger: that God is the best possible rational explanation of the world.

    Perhaps, our views of what is rational differ a bit, especially on how much warrant we can actually provide for our beliefs?

    For me, rationality includes all that faculty for intuiting, discovering, apprehending and judging of truth, however provisionally. And in particular, I am very aware that demonstrative reasoning infers to conclusions that are no more reliable in the end than their premises; which — however persuasively plausible they may seem — are invariably open to significant challenge and dispute. Even, Mathematics, post Godel.

    Thus the significance of my point on selective hyper-skepticism.

    We must seek a consistent standard of assessing evidence and argument so that we are not begging questions and/or inconsistent in how we treat evidence of like general kind. Here I have in view that matters of claimed fact and of report beyond our direct observation are in praxis all that we have access to for most of what we call knowledge. So, we have to come to reasonable terms for consistently judging of warrant for such claims.

    On that basis, we have ADEQUATE warrant for inferring to design in nature in significant areas, and also on what has developed in this thread, for having a duty to seek God.

    3] to get this result, we have to shoot down all possible alternatives to God as defective explanations.

    No, we have no duty to try to exhaust the field of possible worldviews, hence the concept of live options before us. Just, we should think seriously enough to see that we have a duty to test this one options seriously out. Encounter with God is IMHCO then decisive.

    4] non-theistic explanations of the cosmos are impersonal

    And thus they run into the evidence that points to agency, thence the issue that agency implies person, at not only the biological level [person within the cosmos vs without is undecidable] but at the cosmic level [which points to a person beyond the cosmos as a possible and credible live option]. Once that obtains, the intellectual duty kicks in.

    5] Mentok: no entity can be educated without first being educated.

    But this rather begs the question when dealing with a necessary being who may well be all-knowing through inter alia being consciously aware at each time and place in the cosmos in a vasrt eternal present. We are temporally bound, God, may well not be.

    Okay, stimulating thread, let’s hear more from VJT and Mentok

    GEM of TKI

  33. kairosfocus you wrote:

    5] Mentok: no entity can be educated without first being educated.

    kairosfocus: But this rather begs the question when dealing with a necessary being who may well be all-knowing through inter alia being consciously aware at each time and place in the cosmos in a vasrt eternal present. We are temporally bound, God, may well not be.

    There is a big difference between being consciously aware and having the knowledge of and an advanced intellectual understanding of what you are aware of. A fly is consciously aware of you trying to swat him away, but the fly knows nothing about what you are nor his place in the universe nor geometry, physics, mathematics, etc. Similarly when it comes to God there had to be a stage where the knowledge on how to communicate and how to use his potential was acquired. He would have needed to become self taught in language, geometry, physics, mathematics etc. None of these disciplines can be understood at an intellectual level without a stage of acquistion of that knowledge. While I agree that God is inherently conscious of everything because of his essential nature, still there had to be a stage in God’s existence where it was all incomprehensible to his mind. Gradually over a long period of time God’s mind developed more and more through various stages of knowledge acquistion beginning with the ability to communicate with himself through a language of some type. Even though God’s consciousness was/is aware of everything due to it’s nature and presence everywhere, still God had to figure out what he was and what he could do.

  34. Mentok,
    To fit your interpretation of God into the scheme of classical Theism you would have to limit one of God’s attributes. Classical Theism list the attributes of God as 1. Omniscience 2. Omnipresence 3. Omnipotent 4. Eternal.
    I would like to point out that many after-life experiencers say that they knew all the answers to all the knowledge they ever wondered about when they were in the presence of the “Being of Light”. Your assertion that God did not know about chemistry is a circular reasoning. You presuppose that if God had known about chemistry He would have certainly expressed this universe before now. Yet this universe is a entropy limited universe that is not eternal in its nature. This type of universe could have been expressed an infinity of times before now that we are not aware of. Most of all it seems to me that you are trying to project human limitations onto God who is eternal in nature. I’ll admit it is very hard to understand God but I would be very careful before seeking to limit His attributes as given by classical Theism.

  35. bornagain77 you wrote:

    Your assertion that God did not know about chemistry is a circular reasoning.

    I don’t see the circular reasoning, can you explain your thinking on this?

    You also wrote:

    To fit your interpretation of God into the scheme of classical Theism you would have to limit one of God’s attributes. Classical Theism list the attributes of God as 1. Omniscience 2. Omnipresence 3. Omnipotent 4. Eternal.

    Which of the attributes have I denied? I agree with all 4. What I add is that God had to develop his intellect and knowledge.

    You also wrote:

    I would like to point out that many after-life experiencers say that they knew all the answers to all the knowledge they ever wondered about when they were in the presence of the “Being of Light”.

    Whatever they thought they knew doesn’t change God’s history. Any real knowledge or real illumination they feel they received had to be given to them by God. But God had no one to give him knowledge, he had to acquire that without aid from any other intelligence because he was the first intelligence.

    You also wrote:

    You presuppose that if God had known about chemistry He would have certainly expressed this universe before now. Yet this universe is a entropy limited universe that is not eternal in its nature. This type of universe could have been expressed an infinity of times before now that we are not aware of.

    I disagree with the infinity part. I agree that it is possible that God has created many universes many manytimes, but I have to disagree with the idea that there was no beginning where God had to figure out how to create a universe for the first time.

    You also wrote:

    Most of all it seems to me that you are trying to project human limitations onto God who is eternal in nature.

    I agree that God is essentially eternal in nature. But being eternal doesn’t mean that God can do what is impossible to be done. It is not a human limitation alone that knowledge needs to be acquired, it is simply the nature of knowledge. For example; if we agree that God created human life forms, then in order for God to be able to do that he would need to know how to do that. The idea that God is like a magical genie who can snap his fingers and things get done without effort, is without merit. In order for God to build human bodies or any life forms, first he would have needed to figure out how to do that. That would have required a period of time where the designs were thought up, designed, and then built. There had to be a knowledge acquisition phase where God figured out how to build life forms because life forms are extremely complex designs. It is not taking away from God to say that God cannot do what is impossible to do e.g. design and build life forms without figuring out how to do that first.

    You also wrote:

    I’ll admit it is very hard to understand God but I would be very careful before seeking to limit His attributes as given by classical Theism.

    I don’t limit his attributes, rather I think I clarify them. There is an old metaphorical example given about how people progress in their understanding of God:

    If you are at sea on a boat and you are approaching a mountainous island from a great distance at first the island will seem barely distinguishable from a cloud.

    From a great distance our understanding of God is very hazy and not well formed.

    As the boat gets closer to the island you can see that the mountain on the island has a shape which makes it quite distinguished from the clouds. Although it is still very hard to see.

    As one gets closer to God his conception about God becomes less hazy.

    As the boat gets closer you can clearly see the island and mountain, but no details about what is on the island can be seen.

    As you progress in your understanding of God a clearer vision of what God is occurs.

    Eventually the boat gets so close that you can see trees and houses.

    As you get closer to God your understanding of God progresses until you can see many details which were not seen previously.

    Then the boat docks and you can get out and meet the people on the island and see everything and experience everything first hand.

    Eventually as we get closer to God we will actually meet God and get to know god first hand.

    So when someone first learns about God his conception is usually very hazy. He may see God as some mysterious force or person who magically runs the universe. As the person gets closer and closer while progressing in his understanding of God his conception of God becomes less and less fuzzy and more and more realistic. God becomes seen as a conscious person who is intimately involved with the design and plan of the running of the universe. As you get closer still an even more clear picture begins to emerge. God is seen as also being responsible for the design and creation of all life and that he is present everywhere and intimately involved with the direction of everyone’s life. As one progresses and gets even closer to God he sees that God is not only present everywhere and directing the universe and everyone’s life, but that God is actually a part of and within his own consciousness. He learns that by looking within his own consciousness that there he can actually meet God directly, one to one.

    So as we progress in our understanding of God our conception of God will become less and less hazy, our conception will become more clear and distinct until we can actually relate directly to God due to having acquired full knowledge on who and what God is and how he is relevant in our lives and our world.

  36. mentok,
    I love your island/boat analogy. It is indeed a beautiful image.

    You ask where is the reasoning circular? To this I answer,
    You presuppose an absence of knowledge on God’s part and seek to justify this absence by human experience. Maybe circular reasoning is not the right term, but I know it is faulty reasoning for you cannot justify your assertion of God’s character from a limited human perspective of gaining knowledge. For all we know, from our present limited perspective, knowledge is not a thing that has to be learned, as is commonly presupposed by us, but is actually “alive” “living” “infinite” which is actually a integral part of who God really is. So the character you would seek to limit in classical Theism, to validate your assertion, would be His omniscience,,,, You would seek to limit His character of being infinite and perfect in knowledge by your assertion .

  37. bornagain77:

    I will just have to disagree that God’s omniscience is changed by God needing to have gained knowledge about himself and his potential at some point in order for him to develop knowledge on how to build universes. For me God is omniscient because he exists and is fully conscious of everything everywhere and that everything is understood by him either because he created it or he has come to understand it, but that doesn’t automatically force us to conclude that God has always been in full knowledge of everything.

    Whatever God has created he didn’t have full knowledge of those things until he conceived of them, planned them, and figured out how to build them, because they didn’t exist before then even in a conceptual mode. In the same sense just because God is omniscient doesn’t mean he knows everything that can be known, if he hasn’t conceived of something yet, then he won’t know about it until he does conceive of it. Before God designed human forms there had to be a designing phase. Before the designing phase there had to be a conceptual stage. Before the conceptual stage God didn’t know about human forms because they hadn’t been conceived of by God. Does that take away from God’s omniscience? No. It just means that whatever Good knows he had to learn.

  38. Hi Mentok:

    I have just had to do a blog post on Dean at the Door (of Jamaica), so pardon my being a bit brief on points that deserve elaboration:

    1] God, fruitflies and consciousness:

    Fruit flies show signs of responsiveness, there is no sign that such have the sort of intellectual capacity that “consciousness” in the context of inrelligent — as opposed to instinctual — agents is about.

    And God, if he is the necessary being behind the cosmos, would have to be very very intelligent and powerful. Well beyond human capacity. As timeless and present everywhere, every-when, such a being would be aware and able to integrate that awareness timelessly.

    In short, the root issue is a difference in conceptions of a cosmogenetic intelligent agent, and I suggest your framework needs some adjustment in light of the reasonable requisites of such an agent.

    2] when it comes to God there had to be a stage where the knowledge on how to communicate and how to use his potential was acquired. He would have needed to become self taught in language, geometry, physics, mathematics etc. None of these disciplines can be understood at an intellectual level without a stage of acquistion of that knowledge

    I suggest BA is right: you are constraining your view of God by thinking in human terms overmuch. We learn physics etc, God created them, if he is the cosmogenetic agent. Big difference.

    (Cf here the classic Christian answer to Euthryphro’s dilemma on goodness and God; which is still trotted out as of all things a disproof that the God of the Bible and derivative Orthodox theology exists! IMHCO, on long reflection on many similar matters, the contradictions and problems we perceive lie in our conceptions and the difficulties they throw up, not in the classic vision of God. Cf, e.g., my discussion on Patrick’s Shamrock principle. I find that by way of analogy we usually don’t spot how one can stand at one point on the Earth’s surface and be due N of London, Jerusalem and Los Angeles, say. But the issue here is to see that “North” in the context of the Earth is a three-dimensional issue, not a 2-dimensional one, so once we see that we stand at the N pole and the apparent contradiction vanishes.)

    GEM of TKI

  39. vjtorley

    Right. “The fallacy of the false dilemma” is a more descriptive name than “the fallacy of the excluded middle,” since what it excludes (as in the case of your “indestructibly complex” being) isn’t necessarily interposed. Good to know. Thank you.

    My (self-taught) expertise is in linguistics and figures of speech, not in philosophy or even theology, so forgive me if I get in over my head here. But as a Bible-believing Christian (hide the sharp objects!), I am wont to point out — what I consider to be — the hubris that so often accompanies well-meaning Christian apologetics.

    If you would indulge me the courtesy of utilizing one of your above statements as a for-instance:

    I am happy to concede the validity of your point about the irrationality of what you call “selective hyper-skepticism”, when you argue that “one has a plain epistemic duty to consider fairly live option candidates for ‘best current explanation,’ whether or no some future explanation may change the verdict.” However, there is one major limitation of this line of thinking: A theist wishing to find a rational ground for her faith in God (and not all theists do) would want an argument purporting to show something stronger: that God is the best possible rational explanation of the world.

    So you’re saying that there are a lot of theists out there who don’t mind being irrational? Perhaps the expressed opinion of Dawkins, Hitchens, et. al., ad nauseam, makes sense: that if a theist is willing to be irrational about what’s most important to her — namely her faith in God — there is a clear-and-present danger of her becoming irrational about much else besides (especially things that are really important, like politics for instance).

    The rational grounds that I have for my faith in God (in Christ Jesus) consists of much more than merely being able to demonstrate that God is the best possible rational explanation for the existence of the world. (As much trouble as we’re having formulating it in bullet-proof terms logically, Romans 1:20 says that everybody already knows the truth anyway; hence cometh the acerbic quality of the denials.)

    Indulge me again to point out something from your writings. In your dissertation you state:

    …we should not interpret an organism’s behavior as a manifestation of underlying mental states unless doing so enables us to make better scientific predictions about its behavior and/or explain its behavior more fully.

    Right. Since it is impossible to crawl into any other being’s mind (including God’s), the more predictive and comprehensive the scientific interpretations, the more likely they line up with reality. The principle that you’re applying is, of course, foundational not just to science but to rationality itself.

    Regarding the rationality of faith: many years ago, I read Christ promise his apostles in Acts 1:4-5…

    And being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.

    …and I read about the apostles receiving the promise in Acts 2:1-4…

    And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

    …and I read about Peter testifying that same day in Acts 2:38-39…

    Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

    And for no rationally-explicable reason (being spared any two-bit psychology), wanting to be counted among the called, I believed and was baptised.

    What rational grounds do I have to claim that my repentance and remission of sins are real? On the predictive grounds laid out by Peter, “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” proven when I spoke in tongues just like the apostles did on the day of Pentecost when they received. And on the grounds that to this day I can pray in tongues at will. And on the grounds I have since seen and helped scores of others likewise receive the Holy Spirit — most recently my four-year-old granddaughter.

    The key difference between how rationality applies to science versus how it applies to faith is this: Science has to see before it can believe. Faith must believe first, then it sees (and there are hundreds of promises in the Bible that God through Christ Jesus stands ready to prove in addition to the one about which Peter testified). But this in no way excludes believers from all the rational grounds we need to live a life of faith.

  40. kairosfocus you wrote:

    I suggest BA is right: you are constraining your view of God by thinking in human terms overmuch.

    I disagree. I am thinking in logical terms.

    We learn physics etc, God created them

    That is exactly my point. Physics hasn’t been around forever. God had to create physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, etc. Therefore there was a time before those things existed because there was a time when God designed them and created them. Also there was a time before God designed them. Before those things were created by God they did not exist. Since most theistic philosophy proposes that God is the creator of all things then logically there was a time when God created all things. What I am saying is that God was able to do what he has done because God spent a lot of time and made alot of effort. What you guys are saying is that God didn’t have to make any effort.

    This conversation reminds me of an Islamic anti-evolution author I have read. He has written many books and he has a bunch of websites all of which are pretty good at exposing the countless holes and nonsense in evolutionary theory. But guess what? He is passionately anti intelligent design! The reason he gives is that he believes God didn’t have to design anything. In his belief system God simply wills things into existence and then things magically become manifest without effort. He claims that intelligent design makes God out to be the same thing which you guys claim I am doing i.e. making God out to be not omniscient. Essentially you and he have the same ideology. You believe God created everything but you don’t believe God needed to make much or any effort. He may take it a bit furthur then you guys but the ideology is the same i.e. God is a magical entity. By magical I mean the use of magic like a genie uses magic. Magic in this sense is an effect without competent cause.

    “Evolution can be thought of as sort of a magical religion. Magic is simply an effect without a cause, or at least a competent cause. ‘Chance,’ ‘time,’ and ‘nature,’ are the small gods enshrined at evolutionary temples. Yet these gods cannot explain the origin of life. These gods are impotent. Thus, evolution is left without competent cause and is, therefore, only a magical explanation for the existence of life…”
    Dr. Randy L. Wysong, instructor of human anatomy and physiology, The Creation-
    Evolution Controversy, pg. 418.

    What you guys believe is the same thing. God was able to have knowledge about everything without a competent cause of that knowledge.

    Imagine if you spent a lot of time and effort educating yourself with the end result of you building some magnificent invention which cured all disease, but instead of people acknowledging your hard labor at becoming educated and the sacrifice you made in investing a huge amount of your time and energy in your work, instead everyone simply says it was really no big deal for you. There you are having spent countless years in college, medical school, grad school, research labs, and then after spending countless hours working day and night you create the most wonderful thing, but no one believes that you made much if any effort at all.

    So there God is, he has made an incredible effort, it took him a very long time, longer then we can imagine, he had no help from anyone, what was the end result? Life, the universe, and everything!

    Then here we are enjoying the fruits of God’s labor but denying that God really had to make much if any effort at all. He just snapped his fingers and voila! here we are.

  41. Mentok,
    Though God always knew how to “build” a universe under the constraints in which we live, it still took time, as we are aware of it, to build a universe under these constraints. You may well ask why didn’t He do it instantaneously, But in God’s eyes time is a completely different thing altogether, than it is to us, as plainly demonstrated by relativity. Even in the book of Genesis we are given a hint to the timelessness of God for the sun was not even created until the third day! How can you have 24 hour days with no sun?
    I think that again you are plainly projecting human limitations upon God.
    You may have some merit in that it did take God some effort to implement His knowledge but does this reflect His adherence to the entropic constraints He imposed on this universe? Is building a house more difficult more difficult than knowing how to build a house? Several other more reasonable things are possible rather than a limit to God’s knowledge! Omniscience is a foundational attribute of God.

  42. Hi All:

    Interesting points, I see. I will take up a few:

    1] M, 40: God was able to do what he has done because God spent a lot of time and made alot of effort. What you guys are saying is that God didn’t have to make any effort.

    You are thinking in terms of time; we are thinking in terms of an eternal, necessary order that undergirds that contingent domain we call space-time, in which matter-energy undertakes interesting configurations that often reflect information impressed on it.

    2] logically there was a time when God created all things.

    yes, a the initial singularity: Hen harche hen ho Logos . . . “ etc, Jn 1:1 cf Gen 1:1 etc: NB what LOGOS means, reason himself inter alia.

    There is no properly logical reference to time before the singularity at which the space-time order was created; only to an underlying necessary eternal order in God, “in whom we live and move and have our being.” Cf. here my remarks and link on the related Euthryphro dilemma and why it fails.

    The issue is not in logic but the concepts, axioms and claimed facts that feed into the logic, in short, cf. my north pole and shamrock principle example.

    3] God, Islamic views and design

    I am noting here that design does not necessarily entail a temporal process once we address the sort of being the God of classic Western theism, is. [And, Islamic theology is (as the current pope pointed out, only to be drowned out by the rage) principally volitional rather than rational in its conception of God – one of the key differences between the God of the Bible and the Quran. So the attempted comparison breaks down into a distraction.]

    4] God was able to have knowledge about everything without a competent cause of that knowledge.

    God is the FIRST cause, a necessary being. His knowledge is original not derivative or caused. Above I simply pointed that having created agents and a cosmos he is, in the Judaeo-Christian outlook, immediately aware of the full gamut of its events in an eternally present reality of infinite awareness. Though that is strange to us, it is neither illogical nor more broadly unreasonable.

    5] JS, 39:Perhaps the expressed opinion of Dawkins, Hitchens, et. al., ad nauseam, makes sense: that if a theist is willing to be irrational about what’s most important to her — namely her faith in God — there is a clear-and-present danger of her becoming irrational about much else besides (especially things that are really important, like politics for instance).

    You raise an important caution here. But in fact some theists ARE irrational, just as some materialists are, for that matter. To be human is to –- at our best — struggle to be reasonable, wise and just . . .

    6] BA, 41: Though God always knew how to “build” a universe under the constraints in which we live, it still took time, as we are aware of it, to build a universe under these constraints. You may well ask why didn’t He do it instantaneously, But in God’s eyes time is a completely different thing altogether, than it is to us

    This holds on whatever view we have of origins, including YEC – 6 days is a span of time. So, if for his own good reasons he chose to act in and even enter into time once he has brought time into being, that is not unreasonable.

    But, there lurks many a mystery here!

    GEM of TKI

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