Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby trulyenlightened » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:29 am

Byblos wrote:
trulyenlightened wrote:THERE CAN BE NO INFINITE CHAIN OF MOVERS OR MOVEE'S. This is a fallacy of special pleading. This premise contradicts the first, which states that all objects are in motion. It is also an unjustifiable assertion. How does he know this? Even today we have a poor concept of infinity, so how does a 13th Century part time philosopher, know what can and can't be infinite? This premise also contradicts the second premise since it implies that there is a prime-mover that is immovable. Another special pleading fallacy, without justification. Unless you have a firm understanding of the Theory of General Relativity and Quantum Physics, please don't say the BB was the beginning. Because you would be wrong("time is the hint").


This is to the mods,

Just how many times are we going to allow this charlatan to misrepresent Aquinas and get away with it? I and others have attempted to correct him numerous times and yet he is allowed to perpetuate this ridiculous straw man of an argument from infinite causes. This person is not here to learn nor to debate honestly the way others have. Personally I can put him on ignore but I fear other readers will be affected by his misrepresentations which, at this juncture, can only be characterized as willful obfuscation.

Enough of this, please.


Then simply state specifically just how I am misrepresenting Aquinas's argument? If you can explain where I am wrong, then I will have no reason to misrepresent him. So far, it is only anger and vitriol that I receive if my opinion is different than yours. I try very hard to show WHY I see the flaws, and WHERE I see the flaws. Believe me, these flaws and contradictions are not very hard to spot. I even point out the fallacies and contradictions. Please show me why my interpretation is wrong. I truly want to know. Because if my logic can't recognize flaws this obvious, then I certainly need help.

I am sorry if I have offended you in stating the specific reasons why I present my opinions. If you are saying that I should censor my opinions because I've been told, and not to question it, then I can think of a dozen countries where that sort of practice works. If you can't defend your position, don't ostracize me because I can. As I've said before, I do not go to any other threads. You do not have to visit mine. But if you do, my comments won't be just metaphysical, they will be honest. Don

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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby Byblos » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:22 pm

trulyenlightened wrote:
Byblos wrote:
trulyenlightened wrote:THERE CAN BE NO INFINITE CHAIN OF MOVERS OR MOVEE'S. This is a fallacy of special pleading. This premise contradicts the first, which states that all objects are in motion. It is also an unjustifiable assertion. How does he know this? Even today we have a poor concept of infinity, so how does a 13th Century part time philosopher, know what can and can't be infinite? This premise also contradicts the second premise since it implies that there is a prime-mover that is immovable. Another special pleading fallacy, without justification. Unless you have a firm understanding of the Theory of General Relativity and Quantum Physics, please don't say the BB was the beginning. Because you would be wrong("time is the hint").


This is to the mods,

Just how many times are we going to allow this charlatan to misrepresent Aquinas and get away with it? I and others have attempted to correct him numerous times and yet he is allowed to perpetuate this ridiculous straw man of an argument from infinite causes. This person is not here to learn nor to debate honestly the way others have. Personally I can put him on ignore but I fear other readers will be affected by his misrepresentations which, at this juncture, can only be characterized as willful obfuscation.

Enough of this, please.


Then simply state specifically just how I am misrepresenting Aquinas's argument? If you can explain where I am wrong, then I will have no reason to misrepresent him. So far, it is only anger and vitriol that I receive if my opinion is different than yours. I try very hard to show WHY I see the flaws, and WHERE I see the flaws. Believe me, these flaws and contradictions are not very hard to spot. I even point out the fallacies and contradictions. Please show me why my interpretation is wrong. I truly want to know. Because if my logic can't recognize flaws this obvious, then I certainly need help.

I am sorry if I have offended you in stating the specific reasons why I present my opinions. If you are saying that I should censor my opinions because I've been told, and not to question it, then I can think of a dozen countries where that sort of practice works. If you can't defend your position, don't ostracize me because I can. As I've said before, I do not go to any other threads. You do not have to visit mine. But if you do, my comments won't be just metaphysical, they will be honest. Don


I will no longer waste my time answering you directly when I and others have done so on numerous occasions and you simply ignore them and dismiss them out of hand. While you may be the original poster in a technical sense, it was actually at my suggestion to make it on the PSR and I fully intended it to be a metaphysical discussion. If you truly want to know where you are wrong (and you are), then follow the discussion with Nils.
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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby Philip » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:49 pm


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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby Nils » Thu Nov 23, 2017 2:47 am

Byblos wrote:
Nils wrote:But yours arguments are new to me so don't be too upset by my comments.


To address this first, not at all. This is exactly the type of discussion I envisioned when I recommended the PSR.

Yes but I was talking more generally. I don't remember to have seen this argument before you brought it up.


Nils wrote:
Byblos wrote:

Nils wrote:- What do you mean by "self-explanatory"? Please give some examples.
- What do you mean by saying that a self-explanatory explanation is "absolute necessary"?


As it turns out, from logic and reason alone, we can say a great deal about a thing being self-explanatory. But before we can give example(s), we must first agree on the definitions and agree on whether or not there any other possibilities.

So first, do you agree that, according to the PSR, everything must have a reason? If yes, then do you agree that there are only 2 possibilities, i.e.

1. Either the explanation is extrinsic (outside of the thing it explains), or
2. The explanation is intrinsic (self-explanatory)

I would rather say
1 There are things that have explanations (that are extrinsic, outside of the thing it explains),
2. There may be things that don't have explanations (very special things)

It is possible that your 2. and my 2. are in some way the same, I am unsure. Examples of my 2 might be things like God, Universe, Multiverse and Nothing.


No, our 2s aren't the same. But that's exactly the point of the PSR. As a self-aware, intelligent species that values logic and reason above all, we must believe that there actually is an intelligible reason for everything, regardless whether or not the reasons are discoverable at this time. Because if we open the door that some things have no explanation or are unintelligible then we are building a house of cards in a hurricane. The most foundational aspect of logic and reason, i.e. intelligibility, would collapse and with it goes every branch of science.

In some way I agree with you. The problem of fundamental scepticism is not solvable in a nice (I have difficulties to find a better word) way without the PSR, that absolutely everything has an explanation or reason. The solution I go for is pragmatism - that we can't know everything but we still has to do the best assuming that the reality as we see it is valid. Of course there are problems but I think we can live with them. But this is an aside. We may discuss that later on.


So when the PSR states that everything has a reason, this definitely includes the universe, the multi-verse, and yes, even God. Now I'm assuming you listed God and the multi-verse as both without an explanation because you see them as competing alternatives to reality (and you happen to choose the former and I choose the latter to govern our worldviews). But that's not true at all, for it can be shown from the PSR that brute force facts are unintelligble (for that is what they are, brute force facts without any explanation), thereby violating the PSR. Whereas God is a perfectly intelligible explanation for He is His own explanation, thereby satisfying the PSR. It's not a nuanced difference so I'm hoping you see that.

Here I would like to see how your argument goes in more detail - a logic schema with premises and conclusions. Here is my understanding (for what it is worth). Note that this is only a draft, just a fast try.

P1. Everything must have an explanation (PSR)
P2. A multiverse has no explanation (everyone agrees, I think)
C1. Hence, there has to be some other thing that explains the universe
P3. There is another thing that doesn't need an explanation (self-explanatory, pure actuality)
P4. That other thing has to be intelligible, immaterial, timeless, immutable, which is subsistent existence itself.
P5. That thing we call God
C2. There is a God that is self-explanatory, pure actuality, intelligible, immaterial, timeless, immutable, which is subsistent existence itself.

I would like to see a motivation for P3 and P4.

Nils wrote:
And if you so far agree, then do you further agree that

There are only two types of explanations:
1. Either the explanation requires an explanation extrinsic to itself, in which case it is contingent on that extrinsic explanation, or
2. The explanation is fundamentally self-explanatory and, therefore absolutely necessary (not contingent on any other explanation)

The absolute necessity in 2. makes me uneasy.


I'm not sure why it should make you uneasy. No one said anything about what it entails (well, I just did but) taken at face value, when something is self-explanatory it means it does not depend on others for anything and it follows that it must be necessary by definition. For it it weren't necessary then it would be contingent and if it were contingent then it would not be self-explanatory. So you see, absolute necessity if part and parcel of the self-explanatory attribute.

Nils wrote:- If there is nothing in group 2 then is there a Nothing that is absolute necessary,


If there is nothing in group 2 then there would be nothing in group 2. But that does not preclude group 2 from being a logical alternative. Whether or not there is something in group 2 is the subject we are discussing.

Nils wrote:or
- if there is something in group 2 that is only potential then is it still absolutely necessary,


But potential things are contingent and contingent things depend on extrinsic explanations. So again, by definition, it is a violation of the law of non-contradiction to state a self-explanatory entity has potential or is contingent in any way.

Nils wrote:or
- is the conclusion that nothing in group 2 can be only potentially or
.....?


Well, you're jumping the gun here but that is precisely what the only logical conclusion is, that in group 2 there can only be one self-explanatory pure actuality, intelligible, immaterial, timeless, immutable, which is subsistent existence itself.

I should have explained that this makes me uneasy because there seems to be so many complications, presumptions and concepts that I find vague. I choose to not comment currently. We can come back later.

Nils

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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby trulyenlightened » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:16 am



I will explain the flaws in Aquinas's 5 proofs. I have covered the flaws in his first proof for the existence of God(Motion). Since no one has attacked the flaws and fallacies themselves, I assume that they are valid. But let's look at Aquinas's second proof(cause, efficient cause, first cause, Kalam Cosmological argument, etc.) This argument has been around even before Aristotle's time, and was used to prove the existence of Zeus and the other Gods. Even if we accept everything in his argument as true, all it would prove is that the Universe had a cause. And, that is it. It doesn't suggest, let alone prove that this cause was a being. I does not suggest that this being was omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, personal or moral. That is ONE HELL OF A LEAP. In other words even if we accept the entire proof as true, it does not prove Theism. I agree that I am paraphrasing his premises, but this is the gist of his, Causation of Existence argument.

1.There exists things that are caused (created) by other things.
2.Nothing can be the cause of itself (nothing can create itself.)
3.There cannot be an endless string of objects causing other objects to exist.
4.Therefore, there must be an uncaused first cause called God.

Now just look at the first two premises. They state clearly that nothing can create itself, and MUST have been caused by something else. Even if the argument is valid, and the universe had a cause, it doesn't prove that it was the first cause. And for a first cause argument, it's pretty ridiculous. He then tries to support this first cause argument by adding additional premises.

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2. The Universe began to exist
3. Therefore the Universe has a cause

The argument commits an equivocation fallacy, by switching between two different definitions of the Universe to achieve his conclusion. He uses the "scientific definition"(matter, space, time) for his 2nd premise, and the "colloquial definition"(everything that exist, has existed, or will exist) for his third premise. The 2nd premise states that matter, time and space began to exist the way it is now. This is not saying that absolutely everything came into existence from absolutely nothing. But when he says that “the universe began to exist” using the colloquial definition of the Universe, he is saying that absolutely everything came into being from absolutely nothing(Creatio Ex Nihilo). In fact everything we know about cause and effect, overwhelmingly and unanimously tells us that when a new thing is created, it is due to the rearrangement of energy and matter that already existed. Therefore, everything that exists is the result of "Creatio Ex Materia".

If no thing can be the cause itself, then all things must have a cause. If you claim that an uncaused cause exists, then you have committed a special pleading fallacy. Why is the uncaused cause the exception to both premises? This also contradicts the first two premises. This also violates the law of the Conservation of Energy(energy can neither be created or destroyed), since anything without a cause is without energy. This violates the zeroth Law of Thermodynamics. Since we can never reach absolute zero(0K), entropy can never be zero. If there were an uncaused cause, it would have zero energy or entropy to cause anything. But since the Universe exists, there can't be an uncaused cause.

Since no one knows what happened before the BB, it is only an argument from Ignorance to claim that you do. I claim that it was caused by a quantum fluctuation in quantum gravity, that produced a quantum vacuum that started the BB. But I'll wait for the results from CERN and LHC. Before the BB, time did not exist. So, what happened before the BB makes no sense, since we have no understanding of what time was. And, all cause requires time. The only thing that we can say about an infinite number of regress, is that an infinite number of causes existed after the BB, not before it. Therefore we can never reach an uncaused caused, anymore than we can reach absolute zero, the speed of light, or infinity itself.

Finally, the leap from an uncaused cause to God, is only culture-specific. Any Deity or thing can be substituted for the last premise, and would have no effect on the argument at all. This is only a confirmation bias, a gap-filler, and an argument from ignorance. I would certainly expect this from some 13th Century part time philosopher, but not from any critical thinker in the 21st Century. Don

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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby Byblos » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:56 am

Straw man upon straw man upon yet another straw man ad nauseum. :roll:

Against my better judgement I will try one last time to show you the numerous straw men you are building and attacking. But I beg of you to not waste my time if you're unwilling to engage, let alone consider, a metaphysical discussion. Ball is in your court.
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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby Kurieuo » Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:14 pm

Don, I think it is becoming apparent to everyone that you are not dealing with Aquinas' arguments at all. If we look at Aquinas' secound way, we see your "cause, efficient cause, first cause, Kalam Cosmological argument, etc." really doesn't apply at all, nor your following responses which are then applied to a caricature. I see only one of those terms you mentioned ("efficient cause"), and based upon your words I question whether you understand what he means by it.

I say this partly for your sake, as more people will realise and pay your words zero respect (as has been happening here already with some and in your other threads). Now, it could be you've just come across stupid unintelligent Christians who just need "enlightening", or perhaps, just perhaps there is something you are doing which needs self-examining. Perhaps adapting your approach to be more conversational and understanding might be helpful. OR, you can continue lecturing us all at every turn, but I ask how has that been working for you here?
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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby trulyenlightened » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:46 pm

Kurieuo wrote:Don, I think it is becoming apparent to everyone that you are not dealing with Aquinas' arguments at all. If we look at Aquinas' secound way, we see your "cause, efficient cause, first cause, Kalam Cosmological argument, etc." really doesn't apply at all, nor your following responses which are then applied to a caricature. I see only one of those terms you mentioned ("efficient cause"), and based upon your words I question whether you understand what he means by it.

I say this partly for your sake, as more people will realise and pay your words zero respect (as has been happening here already with some and in your other threads). Now, it could be you've just come across stupid unintelligent Christians who just need "enlightening", or perhaps, just perhaps there is something you are doing which needs self-examining. Perhaps adapting your approach to be more conversational and understanding might be helpful. OR, you can continue lecturing us all at every turn, but I ask how has that been working for you here?


We can all use a little self-examination at the best of times. This I do agree. I feel like the little boy who sees that the Emperor/King is not wearing any clothes. He ask his mother why the king is not wearing any clothes. She tells him that everyone can see that he is wearing clothes. Everyone knows that he is wearing clothes. There is no doubt that he is wearing clothes, and I'm going to go out and buy the very same clothes. She tells him that he I must be ignorant, blind, willfully disrespectful, different, or have some other hidden agenda blinding him to the truth. The little boy tells his mother, "No mom, it's just that I can see his skin, hair, rear end, and other normally hidden human features". His mother tells him, "They are just straw men, use your metaphysical eye this time. She agains tells him that the king IS TRULY wearing clothes". The little boy then says, "What's a straw man?". The mother says, "It's when you see something that isn't really there, and talk about it as though it was". People grew more suspicious of the little boy, and began to ostracize and ignore him. One day a little girl, also stated that the King was not wearing any clothes. Soon more people began to see that the King was not wearing any clothes, until someone finally told the king. The king finally started wearing clothes. He thought that he WAS wearing clothes, because the people said he was. What do you think the moral of this story is? Change only needs a beginning, and the truth will always rise above Belief. Or something like that.

I have lectured for many, many years, but I am not above learning new things. I have asked many times to point out the flaws in my comments. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. The state of my ego, is not attached to being right or wrong. But so far it's only Ad Hominem attacks, condescending remarks, resentment, Straw man accusations, or just questioning my comprehension abilities. Since it may be cognitive dissonance or close mindedness, that prevents you from seeing the obvious, let me simplify this.

1. Does any of Aquinas's Arguments prove/suggest that that the uncaused cause/prime mover, etc., is a God? Does it prove/suggest any features of a God, or that a God in fact DOES exist(not MUST exist). If so HOW? Does any of his argument prove/suggest any kind of Theism? Does he propose anything that even resembles the scientific method of inquiry? If so How?

2. Do you believe that the BB was the beginning of the Universe of everything(multidimensions, multiverse, Strings, etc.)? Or, do you believe the BB was the beginning of the Universe that we can see today(matter, space, energy, and time)? If you believe in the first universe, then there IS no beginning, since there IS NO conception or understanding of time before the BB or the infinite. If you believe in the second universe, then all you can say is that evidence supports a beginning. But this does not support any Being, or that the BB was in fact a FIRST CAUSE. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

3. How do you overcome(other than to simply dismiss or ignore) the physical properties inherent in all objects in our 4 dimensional Universe? How can you simply ignore the first law of motion(inertia), the zeroth law of thermodynamics(absolute zero), the entropy principle(zerochaos), and all the argument's obvious contradictions and fallacies? How could anything with these properties be the start of the Universe, let alone have created it? This would mean that the Universe was created from absolute NOTHINGNESS. If I'm I wrong here? Why?

If I need to change reality to fit my beliefs, then one or the other is not real. Let's talk metaphysical. There are only three kinds of realities. There is math that exist, whether reality exists or not(transcendent). There is consciousness, which exists outside of the physical reality, and has no measurable dimensions. And, there is the material world, which exists outside of consciousness, and does have measurable dimensions. So tell me, how can physical atoms and molecules create something that exists in a separate domain that has no physical existence, like consciousness? How do our non-physical thoughts somehow mysteriously guide the actions of our physical bodies? Finally, how do non-physical mathematical constructs determine the workings of a separate material world?

I'm not here to change anyones position. I'm here to encourage "self-examination" through discussion. I can't help or change the true nature of my, "soul". It represents the essence of my human condition, and the essence of who I am. As my father once told me, "you will never be able to please everyone, but it is not everyone you need to please". Anyway, I'm still waiting on the specifics, and not just the cryptic. It is what I say, not how I say it that should be important. If you can't justify your comments and accusations, then you really shouldn't make them. Don

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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby Kurieuo » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:39 am

If I saw relevance to the questions, then I'd respond. What I believe and would argue/support, is different from what Aqunas has reasoned, and I'd prefer not to mix the two together as I'd expect this would create further distortion.

You say you've lectured many, many years. That's nice. Even lecturers can learn new things, especially from other lecturers who specialise in specific areas. Edward Feser is one such person, who is well respected, particular when it comes to classical arguments and Aquinas. Since you wouldn't be averse to reading, given your education as your lecturer status, I'd recommend that you pick up some of the forementioned books.

With everyone then starting from similar knowledge, then perhaps we can better discuss Aquinas. Otherwise, you should leave him out of the discussion because clearly we're not going to agree about his thoughts. Nonetheless, you can challenge what people here believe, there are some for example, who are taken by the kalam cosmological argument. So this can be debated quite separately from/without reference to Aquinas.
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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby trulyenlightened » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:42 am

Byblos wrote:Straw man upon straw man upon yet another straw man ad nauseum. :roll:

Against my better judgement I will try one last time to show you the numerous straw men you are building and attacking. But I beg of you to not waste my time if you're unwilling to engage, let alone consider, a metaphysical discussion. Ball is in your court.


If you wish to hide behind your own straw man accusations, set metaphysical constraints and conditions, or convince yourself that I have somehow become your purpose, I don't really care. But, "I beg of you to not waste my time..", on my own thread is more than a bit arrogant. Are you frightened to present your own thoughts without all these preconditions, stipulations, and veil threats? As long as your logic is sound, I have no reason to dismiss it. I encourage all my students to ask question, or state their opinions. Even if they think that it might be stupid. You will always learn something if you ask. You will learn nothing if your don't. You might even provide answers to questions that I don't have a clue. All I can promise you, is that I will always be honest. But if all you are seeking is confirmation bias, then all the other threads should be more suitable. The ball was always in your court. Don

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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby trulyenlightened » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:37 am

Kurieuo wrote:If I saw relevance to the questions, then I'd respond. What I believe and would argue/support, is different from what Aqunas has reasoned, and I'd prefer not to mix the two together as I'd expect this would create further distortion.

You say you've lectured many, many years. That's nice. Even lecturers can learn new things, especially from other lecturers who specialise in specific areas. Edward Feser is one such person, who is well respected, particular when it comes to classical arguments and Aquinas. Since you wouldn't be averse to reading, given your education as your lecturer status, I'd recommend that you pick up some of the forementioned books.

With everyone then starting from similar knowledge, then perhaps we can better discuss Aquinas. Otherwise, you should leave him out of the discussion because clearly we're not going to agree about his thoughts. Nonetheless, you can challenge what people here believe, there are some for example, who are taken by the kalam cosmological argument. So this can be debated quite separately from/without reference to Aquinas.


Your first statement was totally self-serving. The relevance of the questions, are that they highlight the obvious flaws in Aquinas's arguments. But as long as you don't see them, then I guess these flaws must not exist? And my level of education is not relevant to this issue. I have read this argument, and many of its spin-offs. From Socrates to Craig, from Kreeft to Prager, from Aquinas to Feser. They all make the same glaring fallacies, and totally ignore the natural physical laws. I feel that I am very knowledgeable on this argument, even if you try and dilute it, or protect his name. Since no one has challenged, addressed, or corrected any of the flaws I've cited, I can only assume that I must be correct. Or maybe, people just can't be bothered, or they may not really understand the argument itself, or they just may want to avoid the truth by looking for any excuse they can cling to. Was there anything specific in my comments that you disagree with(other than you just don't understand it)? Or, is everything that comes out of my mouth just a straw man, totally wrong, and does not even need to be expalined? If you can't logically defend your position, then why would expect others to simply accept it? Don

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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby Kurieuo » Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:37 am

No, they don't highlight flaws in Aquinas' arguments because they're not Aquinas' arguments. I encourage you to read over Contra Gentiles Book 2 Chapter 38. It seems, if you are correct on what Aquinas is arguing, then Aquinas refuted his first, second, third, et al "Way" arguments long before you came along.
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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby trulyenlightened » Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:02 am

Kurieuo wrote:No, they don't highlight flaws in Aquinas' arguments because they're not Aquinas' arguments. I encourage you to read over Contra Gentiles Book 2 Chapter 38. It seems, if you are correct on what Aquinas is arguing, then Aquinas refuted his first, second, third, et al "Way" arguments long before you came along.


Thank you, I have read chapter 38. You claim that I am not highlighting flaws in Aquinas' argument. Then whose arguments am I examining? http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/w ... alysis.htm, http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/w ... veWays.htm, https://www.ukessays.com/essays/philoso ... -essay.php

Aquinas does refute his arguments(motion, cause, and non-infinite regress) in the second book. But he does this using only logic and reason, not science. In fact some of his science is wrong, ie., the hemisphere does not immediately light up when the sun is at a point in the east. I would NOT expect someone from the 13th century, to use 21st century science to justify any refutation of his argument. Firstly, I am very correct. Secondly, it doesn't matter WHO refutes the arguments or when, it only matters WHY the argument is refuted.

Let me see if I understand you. You claim that the flaws I demonstrate about the 5 proofs that prove the existence of God, are not the same argument/proofs that thousands of sites and videos claim is from St. Thomas Aquinas? Are they all wrong? Can you at least compare and contrast the differences? You then say that he has already disputed parts of his own argument before I came along, implying that he beat me to it. After this you state that I still haven't pointed out any flaws in his argument. This seems an inconsistency. Are you just shifting the goalposts until you find an argument so obtuse and convoluted, that it becomes nothing more than an exercise in sheer semantics? So, why should I accept this argument for the existence of God, when even the author refutes parts of his own argument? It seems almost unnecessary to point out any flaws at all. Don

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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby Kurieuo » Fri Nov 24, 2017 5:39 pm

Many have pointed out that contemporary philosophers misunderstand Aquinas' arguments. There is a growing number who are claiming Aquinas' arguments have indeed been misunderstood and people have simply been knocking down caricatures.

I myself, like you, was suspicious when Jac on this board presented such to me. Really, when I read his arguments, I couldn't see them other than like the Kalam Cosmological argument as presented by say a William Lane Craig. Very much like you do. I was educated differently, by a Catholic philosophy lecturer as well. I thought really? You're telling much all such misunderstand Aquinas and you happen to be the only one understanding him correctly? But, it seems clear to me now that the answer is, "yes, there were all wrong." It wouldn't be the first time many people were wrong about something.

Feser seems to believe it is due to not being aquainted with his metaphysics, and also the materialistic framework and contempory philosophy which influences/gets read back into Aquinas which turns his arguments into a strawmen (and refutations accordingly are against caricatures of arguments Aquinas doesn't make). We're also quite removed from ideas Aquinas in responding to in his time, which puts certain terms and ideas he builds his arguments upon in their proper context.

In any case, don't you find it a little strange that Aquinas would defend against a beginning in the world, defend against those who claim an infinite regress was impossible, just like you? He basically says Christians would be laughed at who believe in a beginning based upon arguments that attempt to prove a beginning to the world (see Summa Theologiae Q46 A2) To Aquinas, such isn't provable either way. This seems counterintuitive to Aquinas' Five Ways then, if it is true like many think, that Aquinas is rationally arguing something like the universe had a beginning. Rather, it seems likely his arguments are more nuanced and so being misunderstood.
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Re: Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Postby trulyenlightened » Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:47 am

Kurieuo wrote:Many have pointed out that contemporary philosophers misunderstand Aquinas' arguments. There is a growing number who are claiming Aquinas' arguments have indeed been misunderstood and people have simply been knocking down caricatures.

I myself, like you, was suspicious when Jac on this board presented such to me. Really, when I read his arguments, I couldn't see them other than like the Kalam Cosmological argument as presented by say a William Lane Craig. Very much like you do. I was educated differently, by a Catholic philosophy lecturer as well. I thought really? You're telling much all such misunderstand Aquinas and you happen to be the only one understanding him correctly? But, it seems clear to me now that the answer is, "yes, there were all wrong." It wouldn't be the first time many people were wrong about something.

Feser seems to believe it is due to not being aquainted with his metaphysics, and also the materialistic framework and contempory philosophy which influences/gets read back into Aquinas which turns his arguments into a strawmen (and refutations accordingly are against caricatures of arguments Aquinas doesn't make). We're also quite removed from ideas Aquinas in responding to in his time, which puts certain terms and ideas he builds his arguments upon in their proper context.

In any case, don't you find it a little strange that Aquinas would defend against a beginning in the world, defend against those who claim an infinite regress was impossible, just like you? He basically says Christians would be laughed at who believe in a beginning based upon arguments that attempt to prove a beginning to the world (see Summa Theologiae Q46 A2) To Aquinas, such isn't provable either way. This seems counterintuitive to Aquinas' Five Ways then, if it is true like many think, that Aquinas is rationally arguing something like the universe had a beginning. Rather, it seems likely his arguments are more nuanced and so being misunderstood.


For someone who is considered brilliant, intelligent, and enlightened, I am not surprised at his reversal. I see it as the inevitable extension of his critical thinking and self-reflection. Since he did not have 21st Century knowledge to work with, he could only use his logic and reason to answer ecclesiastic and metaphysical questions. I am not averse to brainstorming metaphysical arguments, as long as the parameters are very clearly stated. Otherwise, it becomes just another verbal exercise in futility(like political arguments). I believe in the Ethos of full disclosure in science. That is, honesty, transparency, peer review, testability, promoting skepticism and open questioning, and its reliance only on the evidence. I believe that science will make the world a better place by eventually burying all superstitions, myths, and dogmas. Science and Mathematics, like reality, are beyond labels, Beliefs, and ideas. It is the only objective means we have, to truly understand and interact with our physical reality. I have respect for all rational and honest discussions. But, I have no respect for distortions and misrepresentations.

There are certain facts about reality that can't be simply ignored.

1. No life form on this planet consciously chooses to exist, chooses where to exist, chooses who will cause them to exist,
or chooses the time to exist. Because of these factors, we have NO PURPOSE, from a subjective
perspective. We have NO GRATITUDE towards anything, since our existence was not by choice or request. We
HAVE NO RESPONSIBILITY, or MORALITY, because it is Nature that dictates the necessities that will
accommodate for our survival. This is the reality I live in.

2. Nothing in this Universe began, or had a beginning. All things simply evolved from the more simplistic, to the more
complicated. Period. Our reality is the result of quantum interaction with the the many fields(electromagnetic, gravity
and anti-gravity, Higgs, Quantum, Strong), etc) that permeate the ether of space-time. It is the results of these
interactions, that has produced all that we see in our Universe, including LIFE itself. To say that there was a beginning,
is to implies that there was a start. This implies that before the start, there was no time. This is inconceivable and
unknown. To claim that something evolved, means there were an infinite number of causes(to choose from) that may
collectively have created a single effect. This concept is exactly what we experience everyday in our lives, including the
events that led to our own existence.

3. The species of man, is only one of over 1,250,000 Million species within the Animal Kingdom(there are four other
Kingdoms). We all share so many physiological, biochemical, anatomical, social, behavioral, and functional similarities,
that it seems more than obvious, that at one time we must all have been related. If we had not evolved such a highly
developed language(which led to self-awareness), we would be not better than a shrewdness of apes. The discovery of
the hybrid semian gene exactly as predicted in the human genome, put our simian relationship beyond any doubt.

What does this all mean? Our subjectivity is as much a blessing as it is a curse. We should all rejoice in our ability to become self-aware of our own presence in reality. But it is our subjective nature that limits our FULL perception of reality. We are essentially trapped in our own subjective reality. I suggest that we experience this chanced existence to the fullest, and fill it with as many memories as we can. Because once it's over, it will be over forever. In spite of my belief in a universal subjectivity, that must always be maintained for reality to exist. Nature seems not want us oldies back, once they have fulfilled our purpose(passing on our genes). I truly hope that I am right, but I am fully prepared if I am wrong. Don


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