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Messages - ClassicalLiberal.Theist

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Philosophy / Re: New online classical theism community
« on: January 25, 2023, 09:33:05 am »
The link didn't work for me either.

Philosophy / God's Omniscience?
« on: October 28, 2021, 02:57:24 pm »
Not sure if anyone still chats here, but if you're reading this, good to "see" you. I'm having a hard time working through Aquinas' (and Feser's) demonstration of God's omniscience.

Feser appeals to the PPC in order to prove God's omniscience (since God is the cause of all things, all things must exist in God in some way); however, I don't see why we need to ground things in God by way of knowledge. Meaning, can't we just say that all things exist in God because of his omnipotence, his capacity to do all things? That seems just as good to me. For example, when a robot creates something, that thing must exist in some way in the robot, but we don't say it has knowledge. Rather, the robot just possesses the ability to create that thing. This line of argument, as far as I can tell, can be applied to God as well.

As for Aquinas, he states that immateriality is the knowledge-making-property of beings. He then continues, since God is the highest degree of immateriality, he must also be omniscient. But this doesn't seem right to me. I think that knowledge entails immateriality, but I don't know if this necessarily works the other way around.

Hopefully someone has some answers. Thanks!

Theology and religion / Tough Questions for Christianity
« on: December 10, 2020, 10:27:21 am »
My friend has started a bible study that he holds every week or so; however, it isn't really a "bible study." We discuss philosophical difficulties about Christianity or theism in general. Seeing as I am a recent near-reconvert of Christianity, I am not well informed about all of these issues so I figured I could take his questions here. Pointing me to more indepth resources would be beneficial, if not preferable.:

1. If God knew man would sin, why did He create man?
1a. Why did He make man in general?
1b. If free will doesn't exist, how does that affect your answers to the previous questions (if at all)?
2. If God is so loving, why did he kill so many people in the OT (He is still the same God!)?
2a. Can we reconcile these actions morally?
3. Is it possible to morally justify the harsh and prima facie immoral laws in the OT?
3a. Could you demonstrate that?
4. How do we reconcile the existence of evil and God from a logical and evidential standpoint?
5. How do we reconcile the existnece of hell and God morally from an evidential and/logical standpoint?
5a. Is there biblical support for things like annihilationism or universalism?

That is all for now. Sorry if these are elementary questions, I just don't have solid answers.

Thanks :)

Philosophy / Re: Teleology in Nature
« on: December 01, 2020, 05:30:50 pm »

I think the fifth way probably works. I am not very well-read on the topic, but I have no objections to the sort of teleology used in that argument. My issue is with the contemporary notion of extrinisic teleology (like the ID movement's), not the thomist notion of intrinsic teleology.

Philosophy / Dealing with an Objection to the Aristotelian Argument
« on: October 30, 2020, 05:55:29 am »
The objection: it is in principle possible that physical things or at least things other than something pure act can lack potentiality. Therefore, you cannot deduce God's existence from the existence of motion.

To illustrate what this means, take any physical object whatsoever. You can imagine a possible world in which a physical object lacks the potentiality for things like local motion or change. This would exhuast the possibility of it having potentiality, all the while not qualifying it as something which is pure act: it may still be susceptible to time, it is composite, it isn't all powerful, etc. Therefore, the argument from change is false (well, at least it isn't deductive).

I would like at the outset, to make some clarifying statements about why the argument from motion proceeds as it does. In many, if not all variations of the argument from motion, it starts with the premise "change occurs", or something synonymous. The reason for this move is soley to establish the reality of the metaphysical categories act and potency. It is not, and I repeat, it is not the premise by which the existence of God is directly derived. To put it in a crude syllogistic form:

P1 Change occurs
P2 So, actuality and potentiality exist
P3 If actuality and potentiality exist, then God exists
C Therefore, God exists.

After the establishment of change, we get act and potency. From this, the argument (I have Edward Feser's argument in mind) then applies and seeks to understand the conclusion when these metaphysical categories are applied to actualization which is of a vertical sort, rather than a horizontal one. Meaning, it is concerned with the continued actualization of a potential, rather then the actualization of a potential throughout points in time. The argument deduces God's existence from the fact that there are objects that exist which are being continually actualizaed, not the actualization of potentialities happens in a temporal manner.

To make even more preliminary statements, however, I would like to make a distinction between the ways in which a thing can lack potentiality. These two I have labeled underivative existence and derivative existence. The first we would call God, and the second would be some sort of being which lacks the capacity to change. Understanding now what the argument's objective is, take any physical object. By virtue of being a physical object, regardless of whether or not "it lacks the capacity for change", it is always physically composite. Cups, spoons, houses, and boeing 747s are the way they are because of the various arrangement of atoms involved. Atoms can be broken down into protons, neutrons, and electrons, and further those things can be logically divided by space (if it is .0000000000000000001cm long, then we can say it is composed of two parts which are .0000000000000000001/2cm in length). Strictly speaking, anything in space is divisible (composite), and everything physical is in space. Knowing this, we can then say that call physical things are dependent on their subsidiary parts for their existence. Meaning, the arrangement of parts actualize the potentiality for there to be a whole. Therefore, in order to appease the causal principle, we must then posit some being which is causally prior to this. You can run this game ad infinitum, but ultimately to satisfy the chain of causality, you must at some point come to the existnece of an "unmoved mover" or "pure actuality". Physical things may very well lack the capacity to change, but it is in the very nature of the things which deems it something of derivative existence. You must therefore appeal to that which is of underived existence.

Philosophy / Re: Teleology in Nature
« on: October 28, 2020, 06:02:54 pm »
I guess it depends on whos definition of teleology you are working with. Teleolgy, to Aquinas, was just the fact that physical things have certain dispositions: ice melts when it gets too warm, wood burns, quantum particles don't decay into flowers but into other particles, etc. It seems to me this sort of teleolgy is self-evident, and you would have to reject nearly every piece of scientific literature out there, which seems like a harsh conclusion and unwarrented skepticism. If you are working with Paley's defintion, the one which is often employed, then I have a bit less to say. In my opinion, the intelligent design folks might (might is an important word. I wouldn't defend their positions too strongly) have something going for them when it comes to the existence of the first single celled organism. It seems pretty unlikely on a purely naturalistic worldview that such a thing would arise. The best evidence of teleolgy in nature, in my opinion, would be the fine tuning argument; however, a multiverse hypothesis seems to me more probable than a theistic one. If you really want to know more about this, I would ask Atno. Personally, I think teleological arguments, although interesting, don't get very far.

Philosophy / Re: Atomism and unactualized actualizer
« on: October 28, 2020, 05:56:06 pm »
The physical is by definition always divisible. For example, if I take a stick and cut it in half, I can then cut one of those in half, and then one of those in half, ad infinitum. Because physical things are the way they are, there can always in principle be a division between it. Therefore, every physical thing, just in terms of being physical, is composite. What this means then is that each physical whole is only in existence insofar as each one of its constituents continues to hold it in existence or cause it to be. Metaphysically, the potential for the whole is actualized by its parts. Therefore, you must appeal to something ontologically prior in order to explain its existence or we end up with a "brute fact" you might say.

A really important distinction to make when speaking of act and potency is the potential for accidental changes lets say (this involves moving up or down, left to right, etc. Any change something undergoes that is not a change in the thing itself), and the "potential for existence". There are things of derivative existence (books, particles, angels, atoms, etc), and things of underived existence (this is God). Given the analysis above, an atom is strictly speaking something of derivative existence because it must causally apeal to its structure. In order to satisfy the causal principle, you must at some point in the chain of continued actualization end up with something of underived existence. Sure, you can posit that in some way a physical thing can have no potentiality. There is nothing, as far as I can tell, logically wrong with that; however, given the reasons already stated, you will still need something causal prior to it in order to explain its existence as such.

Another classic thomistic appraoch, even though I am not a huge fan of it, would be to appeal to its metaphysical composition (technically, a composition of act and potency is a metaphysical composition, but that isn't what I am talking about). That is, to state that every physical thing is composed of matter and form (it has material existence, and has a physical/formal structure) or to state that every physical thing is composed of essence and existence (it exists, and it has a nature). In either case, you cannot appeal to one or the other to explain a physical things existence because you will end up with something circular: the form causes the matter to exist, which causes the form to exist, which causes the matter to exist, etc; its existence is caused by its essence, which is caused by its existence, which is caused by its essence, etc. You must then appeal to something which is not composed of form or matter, or of essence and existence. This is what we call, God.

It is important when talking about the argument from change to understand why change is spoken about at all. As I see it, change is simply talked about in order to establish the existence of act and potency. It is not the change itself which is important to the deduction, it is the metaphysical principles it demonstrates. When Feser (I am assuming you've read some of his work. If you haven't, you really should) talks about change, he doesn't really deduce God existence from that change, even if it seems like he is doing so. Rather, he deduces God existence using the metaphysical principles change proves, and uses them in a way to show that everything but God is only potentially in existence, whereas He is actually in existence; He is pure act.

Sorry for the long winded answer. This is something I struggled with for awhile and I feel a very thorough explanation is required. If you have any further questions or would like me to clarify something, I will be happy to respond.

Theology and religion / Good books that argue for christianity?
« on: September 22, 2020, 09:47:15 am »
I am thinking mainly historically involved books, but anything would be fine.

Philosophy / Re: Essence Existence
« on: August 30, 2020, 07:31:04 pm »
God doesn't exist in anything. God just exists. It is a fundemtanlly philosophical error to talk about "places" where which God exists; he does not exist here nor there or with respect to anything else, he just exists. He is existence itself.

I too have in my early days of learning, struggled with such an objection. I think this objection stems from a lack of understanding of the actul argument. When Feser lays out the argument, he starts off with the existence of change; however, such a rhetorical move is only made in order to establish or attempt to establish the metaphysical principles act and potency. But it is not from this which he derives something that is pure act. It is the sustanence of potencys in act rather than the temporal actualization of a potency itself. For example, it is the refrigerators ability to continually actualize waters potential to be ice, rather than its ability to actualize what was once water into ice.

Now having understood this, that it is the continued actualization of potentialities rather than temporal ones, the obejction fails. If, for example, we arrive at the existence of the ontologically absolute (Which is in fact what the argument arrives at), then your objection could be stated: but why must this thing be immaterial, divinely simple, and the like? It could just as well be composed of parts but have no potentialities to actualize. But this is mistaken. Continually actualized potentialities exist in the composed, which is what the argument is seeking to eleminate; the composed wholes potentility to be whole is itself continually actualized by each part, and is therefore not really pure act; there must be something even lower, so to speak, which holds this in existence. If one follows the logic, you will arrive at something which is pure act. Not something which just has no capacity to not exist, but something which has no capacity to not exist and whos capacity is kept in existence in terms of "itself", rather than something else. Your argument would leave you with something logically necessary and of derivative existence, but the argument actually leads you to something deeper: something logically necessary and something which is of underived existence; something truly pure act.

Chit-chat / Re: Having doubts
« on: April 24, 2020, 09:11:40 pm »
If you are having doubts emotionally, but are nonetheless convinced intellectually, you should first understand that the relationship between thoughts and anxiety is that the thoughts only have as much power as you give them. The continued contemplation of the thoughts which gives you anxiety notifys your brain that those thoughts are something to be feared, furthering the affect they have on you. If thoughts are giving you anxiety, don't dismiss them, or engage them, or anything. Ignoring them is the key. This tells your brain that the thoughts that were once feared aren't actually anything it needs to be afraid of. I've read a little bit about insrusive thoughts like this (because I've experienced them in a way that significantly affected my mental health) and the ignoring of your thoughts is what helps you get rid of them. I applied this to my own situation and it helped greatly. You can read more about this if you just google instrusive thoughts. Theres more than enough available information about them.

Philosophy / Re: A list of arguments for atheism
« on: April 24, 2020, 08:58:50 pm »
Nigel's book is good; however, he at times seems to get various things about Aquinas' thought wrong. In addition, much of the physics in the book is represented with mathematical equations, but he does explain what they mean and demonstrates their metaphysical implications. I would recommend it, but I don't know if it will be necessary to challenge the ex-apologist. I think it would be more useful to listen to his interview on the classical theism podcast. He explains the physics that would probably be of most importance in this case.

Philosophy / Re: A list of arguments for atheism
« on: April 23, 2020, 09:40:25 am »
Okay. I'm looking foward to it.

Philosophy / Re: A list of arguments for atheism
« on: April 22, 2020, 02:44:28 pm »
Are you going to be posting your responses somewhere? If so, where?

I'm just wondering. How much weight do performative contradictions have, if any?

Philosophy / Re: Why should I accept natural law theory?
« on: April 13, 2020, 01:59:38 pm »
@T N

When I say things like good, I am appealing to my intuitive sense of what good is. Certainly, I do not always use the term good in the same way that a natural law theorist does. For example, I think that it is good that a husband and a wife have sex, with or without the use of various types of contraception. This would be rejected on an analysis of a natural law theorist.

I am also using the term good in an ought sense, not in a way that reduces oughtness to isness (like how goodness is reduced to being).

Philosophy / Feser on Paleyen Design Arguments
« on: February 22, 2020, 09:23:35 pm »
I am working through Fesers book Neo-Scholastic Essays and in chapter 7, he distinguishes the metaphysical assumptions made between the fifth way and the ID-style design arguments; the fifth way assumes that teleology is intrinsic, whereas the ID-style arguments assume that teleology is extrinsic. He then concludes (if I am understanding him correctly) that the consistent thomist would reject the ID-style arguments on the grounds that it assumes an incorrect view of teleology; however, I am inclined to think this is false. Take the following argument:

P1 The bacterial flagellum exists
P2 The probability the bacterial flagellum existing is more likely on theism rather than atheism
C Therefore, God exists

This doesn't seem to me to entail that biological organsims can't have intrinsic teleology, but I may be wrong. I think the mantra of "irreducible-complexity" may be the source of Feser's objection. I think if the claim ID-theorists make was that some natural phenomena can only be explained by theism (is literally irreducibly-complex), than perhaps Feser may have a point, but I am not even really sure if that stands in contradiction with the notion of finality.

I suppose the question I am trying to have answered is: Does finality falsify ID-style theistic arguments? Why or why not?

Philosophy / Re: The Necessity of Creation, Revisited
« on: February 17, 2020, 04:42:41 pm »
“your argument assumes that creation has to have happened” The conclusion of my argument is that creation had to have happened; however, not due to some strict necessitation from Gods being, but rather because of the impossibility of counterfactuality in God’s decision making due to his being timeless.

I feel as if your objection is built on a misunderstanding of what I was trying to argue (which is probably no fault of yours, but of mine) so I will try to more clearly articulate my concern.

P1 Time is a necessary condition for counterfactual possibility
P2 God is timeless
P3 So, there is no counterfactual possibility in God
P4 If there is no counterfactual possibility in God, then God couldn't have chose to create a different possible world; i.e. the actual world necessarily exists
P5 There is no counterfactual possibility in God
C Therefore, God couldn't have chose to create a different possible world; i.e. the actual world necessarily exists

Philosophy / Why should I accept natural law theory?
« on: February 15, 2020, 07:49:31 pm »
I see no good arguments in either direction. It seems to me that you either accept the definition of whats good or you don't, and I see no reason to accept it. I also see no reason that I ought to follow the conclusions either, because there really is no oughtness about it as far as I can tell.

Philosophy / Re: The Necessity of Creation, Revisited
« on: February 10, 2020, 09:08:48 am »
If the object of Gods will can change, then there is internal contingency in God (more precisely, Gods existence would be derivative), for if God's will willed for something other than God, then whatever God wills determines his will and therefore isn't actus purus. In other words, Gods will would be in potency towards whatever he wills. Nevertheless, counterfactual possibility only exists in temporal settings. Unless you are willing to reject that God is eternal, then God wills the world necessarily even if it is only a weaker notion of necessity. I suppose you could say that God exists tomporally but has existed for an infinite amount of time, but then you're left with a neo-theistic conception of God which is undesirable.

Philosophy / The Necessity of Creation, Revisited
« on: February 08, 2020, 11:14:24 am »
The thomist is commited to the idea that God wills himself necessarily, and wills other things in willing himself. This essentially saves creation from existing necessarily in some strict sense; however, insofar as there is no counterfactual possibility in God, then things exist of necessity even if they are not strictly entailed by his being. Although, this might not be as bad as I may have first thought. Lets say that the big bang was the beginning of creation. So, God caused the big bang necessarily, but in a way that isn't entailed by his being. Given that indeterminacy is true and that conscious agents have freewill, then there is still an opprotunity for the "chips to fall where they may", so to speak, and in some weaker sense saving the usefulness or legitimacy of modality. We would then, however, be commited to the idea that there is no possible world in which the big bang is false, but also that there is a possible world where I didn't make this post.

This seems to me to be a very odd conclusion, but nonetheless I think it is probably correct. Thoughts?

p.s. Its pretty quiet around here, which sucks. I'll probably post more in the future with the hope of stemming more conversation.

Philosophy / Re: A Newbie to philosophy asks a question!
« on: December 28, 2019, 12:29:42 am »
Myself, and many others on this forum would adovcate a thomistic conception of God. That being, that God is pure actuality, lacking any potentiality. With that being say, an attribute can only be said to be of God if it can be logically demonstrated that it is a consequence of God being pure actuality. For example, because material things are composite, they are therefore a mixture of actuality and potentiality, so God cannot be said to be material.

I like William Lane Craig, but I have profound philosophical disagreements with him. I recommend Feser's book, Five Proofs of the Existence of God. Apart from the main arguments he presents, it gives one a decent understanding of the underlying metaphysics. It is greatly important that one understand the underlying metaphysics to truly grasp the claims made by, and arguments presented by, classical theists. His book, Scholastic Metaphysics I would also recommend, but only on the condition that you've already developed a decent understanding of the metaphysics. The book goes into greater depth than I think is necessary to efficiently work through the propositions made by thomists, but it will help give you a much deeper understanding.

Philosophy / The Argument from Fine-Tuning and Thomism
« on: December 06, 2019, 10:53:03 pm »
As I understand it, the thomist doesn't believe that laws of nature exist in the sense of its contemporary understanding; rather, the thomist would say that how a thing behaves is built into the thing itself. For example, water freezes at 32 degrees not because the "laws of nature" dictate such, but because it is inherent in water to do so. My question is then, how exactly would a fine-tuning argument be presented on this analysis of laws, if at all?

Chit-chat / Ads on the Forum?
« on: November 25, 2019, 09:17:25 pm »
For the past few days every time I log in, I keep finding ads somewhere at the top of the page. Is any else experiencing the same thing?

Philosophy / Re: God and the Necessity of Creation
« on: November 21, 2019, 11:19:02 am »
I don't see how a formal distinction could really avoid bringing in composition while remaining coherent. The idea of formal distinctions, as I understand them seems to be contradictory. How could the attributes of God be univocal and at the same time not distinct from one another; that omnipotence and timelessness are different but actually the same? I think if pressed, the scotist would devolve into affirming a conceptual distinction.

Although, from what I understand, something is simple iff it is not seperable (to Scotus). Scotus would be correct according to this definition of simplicty but would fail, atleast on a thomistic analysis, to be the most ontologically absolute thing. To Thomas (and to me), Scotus' "formal distinction" is really just a real distinction under a different light.

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