Byblos wrote:We don't necessarily see it as Christianity vs. atheism, more like theism vs. atheism. The reason it does often come across as Christianity vs atheism is that, by definition, the Judeo-Christian God is the ultimate 'force', if you wish, that can ever be conceived of, i.e. a timeless, immaterial, changeless, omnipotent, omniscient God who's the very definition of existence, i.e. without whom it doesn't even make sense to speak of anything existing.
I suspect that that's troubling news to all of the non-Christian theists in the world. Frankly it puzzles me that (some?) Christians have no trouble accepting the existence of one supernatural being, but reject the notion that there could be others. That seems logically inconsistent. If one such being can exist, then why not two? And if two is impossible what makes you think that one is possible?
Are you at all familiar with philosophy, particularly the classical kind? If not, I would suggest you start with Aristotle's first causation and Aquinas' 5 ways, especially the first, the argument from motion.
In summary, by (metaphysical) definition, there can be one and only one first cause and that cause must be uncaused
for nothing can be the cause of itself. This first uncaused cause, again by definition (i.e. from reason and reason alone) must be outside of its creation (i.e. outside space-time), must be immaterial (since matter is a created thing), and must lack absolutely nothing (i.e. completely perfect). This last one precludes the existence of any other first cause(s), once again, by definition, since if there were two of them then one must be lacking something the other possesses, for if that weren't the case they'd be identical and therefore one and the same. Since the first cause lacks absolutely nothing there can be one and only one first cause (again, by definition). There are other attributes but I want to emphasize one about intent
, having the will
to create. On that, if there were more than one uncaused first cause, both with intent (will to create or not), this would lead to nihilism since they both can have contradictory wills (one to create and the other to not create). This again, proves there can be one and only one uncaused first cause.
So as you can see, there's absolutely nothing inconsistent about the notion of one uncaused cause. It is what reason dictates. The inconsistency (the incoherence) is with any other notion.
Byblos wrote:As stated, there can be one and only one God who is the first cause who is uncaused. If you want to to have an intelligent discourse with us then it is from that viewpoint I would suggest to carry it through, otherwise it's just a waste of time. Not only is a one God a matter of denfition but also a matter of (metaphysical) fact. Put that aside for the moment, though, your claim that our God is one of many gods is, therefore, fallacious. As for you examining our claims critically, before you even begin to do so you need to critically examine the implications of your own position first. On atheism, i,e, the rejection of a necessary being who is the formal and final first cause, you are left with the following options:
1) Eternally existent matter (whether in this universe or some other multi-verse is irrelevant). This position is incoherent because matter (in any form) is contingent (as opposed to a necessary being) and results in an infinite regress
2) The creation of matter ex nihilo without a cause which is also incoherent because it purports an effect without a cause.
It fascinates me that in the same breath you can claim that your god "is the first cause who is uncaused" and then reject the creation of matter ex nihilo as incoherent because it purports an effect without a cause. Seems like special pleading. Actually, "seems like" is probably too generous. How is your
position coherent? If your all-powerful god can appear out of nothing then surely the Universe can as well, no?
Creation ex nihilo without a first cause is incoherent because it is self-defeating from the get-go (pun very much intended). When I say an uncaused cause, I mean an eternal will that always existed (in fact it is exsistence itself as I mentioned before) and has the will to create (or not). When this will decides to create, the effect (creation) has a direct cause (the will to create) so there is no contradiction (i.e. coherence). On the other hand, creation ex nihilo without an eternal first cause is to have an effect (creation) without a cause
, (i.e. incoherence). Do you really not see the difference? It's perfectly consistent.
SkepticalSkeeter wrote:Also is this just your view, or is it a generally accepted position among Christians? The thing is, everybody here seems to be using words like "we" and "us" but I don't think that the implied consensus actually exists. I've already seen some disagreement on how to define the word "Christian" and on evolution versus creationism, and I haven't even looked for discussions on, gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion, or the existence of a literal Hell.
No sir/ma'em, it is not just my view. This is the view of classical philosophy since Aristotle, Anselm, Aquinas, Maimonides, all the way until the new-age so-called philosophers decided it was too much to answer the Scholastics so they invented a philosophy after their own heart.
SkepticalSkeeter wrote:And finally, why do I have to accept either your creation story or either of the natural explanations of creation as the final, ultimate truth? Last I looked science had some promising theories, but nothing was definitive, and religion had lots of conflicting, unsupported assertions. Seems to me that the jury's still out. What's wrong with saying "I believe that scientific inquiry is the only method that's going to unlock the secrets all the Universe, but to my knowledge that's a very much a work in progress and it's likely to be that way for a long time to come."?
What does (empirical) science have anything to do with this? I'm talking about the very foundation for empirical science, science of the mind, science of reason and logic, i.e. philosophy in general, and metaphysics in particular. This is the root of all the sciences SS, without philosophy you could't even begin to understand anything. So to answer your question, you do not have to accept anything I tell you (in fact, reason tells you). But you do so at the risk of sounding utterly and hopelessly unintelligible.