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Has anybody read articles from this blog?

#1TheBreathPosted 2/7/2013 3:48:55 PM
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/

I've been taking a look over some of the articles here, and they seem like a pretty solid defense of theism.

In particular, the way the cosmological argument is presented here seems a bit more convincing than what I've read in other places.

Here are the links to the articles I found interesting.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-think-you-understand.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/cosmological-argument-roundup.html
#2Faust_8Posted 2/7/2013 4:11:49 PM
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/cosmological-argument-roundup.html

Oh boy, an article that doesn't say anything besides giving you links to a dozen more articles.

I'd love to take hours to read it all. /sarcasm
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#3TheBreath(Topic Creator)Posted 2/7/2013 4:13:28 PM
Ah. Sorry about that second one. But the first one I think sums up most of what is in that long list.

I really did find it interesting enough to post it.
#4kozlo100Posted 2/7/2013 4:23:59 PM
Eh, maybe I'm not in the target audience, but it seemed kind of meh to me.

The only part he seemed to write about the bit I was interested in, which is how you get from a cause to God, is that Aquinas wrote hundreds of pages on the subject.

The rest of it seemed to be just refutations of argument via 'you haven't read enough' or 'you didn't understand'. I guess that might be true in a lot of cases, but I don't know why I'd need to read a blog post about it, particularly when the post starts with the premise that the cosmological argument cannot be properly defended in a blog post.
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#5JonWood007Posted 2/7/2013 4:34:33 PM
To be honest, I'm not convinced. I don't want to go through and debunk every point I think he got wrong, but he does make some obvious falsehoods. For example, in his first point, he argues that no one claims that theists claim everything has a cause. if you look at WLC's presentation of the argument, he does seem to be arguing this point. I would know because I just listened to a 2 hour debate between WLC and Lawrence Krauss.

Another thing that annoyed me is he claimed that scientific arguments don't discredit the cosmological argument because science is irrelevant, but this is something I noticed both in WLC's presentation and this guy's. They try to take science out of the equation by saying it's not relevant because it's a philosophical argument based on logic. Well, you can screw around with logic all days, but if your premises are wrong, your conclusion is wrong, period. THe cosmological argument relies on conventional thinking. When we begin getting into the big bang, and dealings with the beginning, these concepts break down. Causality breaks down because time is a relative concept according to Einstein's physics and those who came after. Some like Stephen Hawking argue there was no before before the big bang because time did not exist. You also have quantum physics, which also blow a hole in conventional understandings. For example, particles can be in two places at once, makes no sense. Also, Lawrence krauss, for example, argues that the universe very well could have come from nothing, and discusses stuff about dark matter and how "nothing" is unstable. None of these concepts are covered in the conventional logic that the cosmological argument is based on.

Also, he cites that we need to logically prove that science is the best method of understanding the world. Ladies and gentlemen, look at this post. Not the post itself, but look at what the post is written on. You're probably looking at a CRT or LCD screen. How did we come up with this device? Science. How many of you have ever taken medicine. Where did we get that? Science. The proof of science's validity is based in the fact that it works. This methodology has taught us so many things about the world, and our entire understandings of the world are based on it. Philosophy without science is inadequate, without observations to back up your claims or base your claims off of, your logic can be wrong, because the premises it is built on are ill informed.

The point is, I find the cosmological argument to be outdated, and based on a set of premises that likely do not apply to the universe, through an advanced and relatively accurate understanding of it. Its arguments are based on conventional logic, which may serve us well in more day to day life, but do not apply when talking about this particular case. Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas who he cites quite often may have been some of the greatest thinkers in their time, but their concept of the universe is outdated and irrelevant.

If he has a new form of the cosmological argument, that's one thing, but to claim that all atheists who disagree with it are getting it wrong and they're ignorant and/or intellectually dishonest....no, heck no. if anything, I would say the same about him.

Again, I could go on ripping him more, but I don't really want to waste the time going through every single point. I just wanted to hit on the two things that annoyed me most about his article.
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#6TheBreath(Topic Creator)Posted 2/7/2013 5:36:07 PM
I don't find his position completely convincing either, but I do think that the argument deserves a bit more credit than what you give it.

The bits I found most compelling from his arguments (not just in that one post, but coming from a couple others as well) was that empirical methods do not provide a complete and exhaustive explanation of the world we live in.

And I think the blog author does admit that Aristotle's physics are outdated, but argues that his metaphysics are separate from his physics, and still relevant to modern metaphysical issues. I would think causality in itself would be something fundamentally unaddressable by science in principle, since science offers a descriptive model of what happens due to whatever causal laws might exist, not an explanatory one. If anything the assertion that a causal chain cannot be infinite would be the more questionable part of the argument, in my opinion.
#7Faust_8Posted 2/7/2013 8:01:54 PM
If you know a better way to discover truths besides empirical methods, I'd like to hear it.

And to point out that science/empirical methods don't have the answer to everything is totally irrelevant. We know that. If that wasn't true, science would stop, because we'd know everything already. But just because we don't know everything doesn't mean the tools we use to discover things don't work.

The automobile probably isn't the best way to travel, hypothetically, but that doesn't mean that right now it can't do that and isn't one of the best ways we have at the moment. In the future it could be totally obsolete but that doesn't change anything NOW. Similarly, just because science hasn't discovered all the answers doesn't mean...that it doesn't discover answers.

Basically this argument isn't saying that science doesn't work, just that it isn't working fast enough based on some imaginary and hypothetical standard.
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You are the universe
Expressing itself as a human, for a little while
#8JonWood007Posted 2/7/2013 8:19:38 PM
There may be alternate methods, but they have not been proven as far as I know. Science is all we got. I will even admit there are things out there science may not be able to find or get truth to, but the problem is we have no reliable way to find these things. They're nonissues.

Also, about metaphysics....it can't be totally divorced from science. if so it's arbitrary and its conclusions are going to be wrong. You can...well...think about things all you want, but if your thinking is not informed by reality to the greatest degree possible, then your thinking doesn't amount to much. I kind of see a lot of metaphysics discussions to be irrelevant because they're dominated by people with degrees like "philosophy of religion" or something. They set up these nice complex theoretical arguments and all, and get really huffy when people try to work evade their logic, because outside of logic their opinions are irrelevant. I noticed this a lot in the Craig vs Krauss debate I mentioned earlier. Craig set up this big fancy metaphysical argument based on logic, krauss says the universe doesn't work that way and draws on science to make his arguments, WLC gets flustered because Krauss ain't playing by his rules, even though his arguments are kind of irrelevant because the premises are wrong because science contradicts them.

You see, a consequence of my liberal arts education is my ability to see things through an interdisciplinary lens. philosophy and science are not divorced from one another. They take different approaches, but ultimately, philosophy must help guide scientific thought through testable hypotheses, and science gives feedback on this philosophy based on observations of the physical world. If your science does not have any philosophy, you're observing without testing anything, you're not working in a framework of hypotheses and theories, which are often informed by philosophy, and if you engage in philosophy without referring to science, your premises are going to be wrong. It's a lot like making a mistake in a mathematical equation, your error screws up the whole thing. Likewise, if your premises are demonstrably wrong, your conclusions are going to be wrong.

Science poses many problems for philosophical metaphysical arguments theists like to resort to.
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#9TheBreath(Topic Creator)Posted 2/7/2013 9:20:21 PM
I agree when it comes to describing phenomena, science is the best method to developing an accurate and consistent description. But I don't feel confident saying that these are the only types of facts that exist. It might be a tired example, but I think a solid case could be made of mathematics as an illustration of a type of non-empirical truth.

When it comes to philosophy and science, I would like to think that instead of being as intimate as you describe, they are separate disciplines with small areas of intersection.
I majored in chemistry, with a minor in physics, and I think the interaction of these fields would serve as a good example. Even though there are ways to apply physics to chemistry (my entire third year was spent suffering through p-chem), the subject of chemistry is not (and I suspect, cannot) reduced to just the extrapolation of the types of physical laws we call physics.

I think metaphysics is a bit like the part of chemistry that can't be extrapolated from physics. And just like the models and methods used in say, organic synthesis, differ from the methods used to derive ground states of atoms, I would like to think that the methods used to ascertain metaphysical truths would use methods different from those used to determine empirical ones.

Looking back, this is a sloppy example, but I hope it somewhat communicates my intentions.
#10JonWood007Posted 2/7/2013 11:31:11 PM(edited)
Well mathematical truths kinda go into logic to a degree. Geometrical theorems are based on logic, for example. The thing is, math can be demonstrated in the real world. 2+2=4 is not an abstract concept. You have 2 apples, you have another 2 apples, therefore you have 4 apples. You can measure the angles of a triangle and always get a sum of 180 degrees. It's still based in the real world, we can use it to find out things about the world we cannot observe directly, yes, but only because it is based on things we already know are true.

Metaphysics is a bit different. When most people push the cosmological argument, they're relying on philosophy, and said philosophy is built on conventional wisdom. However, such wisdom is not necessarily applicable in the situation at hand, much like your physics/chemistry example.

Actual knowledge about the beginning of the universe is more scientific than philosophical, and such philosophical approaches are ill equipped for dealing with the problem at hand. It's like applying simple arithmetic to a complex equation dealing with imaginary numbers and whatnot. There are so many variables that theists' approach to the cosmological argument does a horrible job at addressing the topic. Proponents of the argument are obsessed with causes, yet fail to realize that if time is relative as per Einstein's theory, and there was no time before the big bang, then their whole idea of causes doesn't apply. Try to wrap your head around that. Before the big bang, time itself did not exist. It kind of blows the whole concept of first causes wide open. Such logic may serve us well in every day life, but actual metaphysical questions when looked at scientifically tend to throw that conventional knowledge out the window. Then there's Krauss's theory that matter can arise out of nothing if an equal amount of dark matter is also formed, and the concept of nothing being unstable. This once again blows the whole case wide open theists make that matter can't come from nothing. Maybe it did.

This is why I don't like Christian attempts at metaphysics. They're incredibly simplistic, and while they may be appealing to some conventional thinkers, such conventional logic simply does not apply. To reiterate, it's like approaching a complex equation dealing with imaginary numbers and other complex stuff with simple arithmetic (this may be a poor example to someone who is good at advanced math, but you should get the message I'm trying to convey.....overly simple approach to an extremely complex problem). I simply do not think the strict philosophical approach taken here can accurately make heads or tails of the beginning of the universe. It's not a good tool for the job.

I don't deny the possibility that the universe could have been created by some sort of intelligent being, but without any evidence to go on, it's definitely not the only possibility.

If the philosophical approach to this issue is going to adequately tackle it, it needs to take scientific theory into consideration. Otherwise its premises are false, making whatever is deduced from the premises completely and totally irrelevant and wrong.
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