Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Let the Atheist From QC Answer This Catholic Apologist From Marikina City (Part 1)

Obviously, this came from a Catholic mind and mind me, the arguments presented are very typical. So let me just explore this "apologist's from Marikina" arguments.

Just like a good Catholic, he starts the argument using Thomas Aquinas' Five Ways...

Talk about Aristotelian physics. Anyways, here Aquinas was just saying that by default everything was static until God flick everything up to start moving. This reminds me of a rows of dominoes - and like a chain reaction, if you flick the very first on the row, it will fall down to topple the second, then the third... and so on. 

The guy from Marikina City is suggesting that this "First Mover," the one who flick the domino, was God.

Now, then who flick God? Why is it only God "fits" this possibility? Why stop there?

The guy from Marikina may say that an infinite regress of causes is impossible. There must be a first cause - the guy who made the first move. But then, why will you say that the "Prime Mover" is God or has the characteristics of your God? We can say that the Prime Mover is already dead, right? Maybe the Prime Mover have used all its powers to make the universe move and by doing so, it automatically ceased to exists. Or that the Prime Mover have turned into the Universe itself after moving it. That can also be a possibility.

Going back to Aquinas...

Anyway, since Aquinas just copied his physics from Aristotle, both conclude that motion is about actuality and potentiality - that motion is always a transition or passage from potentiality to actuality. So? This principle must therefore be applied to the Prime Mover as well. There is no logical reason why we should stop applying that principle at that point.

So since "Proof Number 1" doesn't really hold too much water, we go to Number 2. To answer the hanging question left on Aquinas proof number 1, he then suggest that God, who is the Prime Mover, is also The First Cause. 

The problem of the argument is that even if it is successful in demonstrating a first cause, this first cause is not necessarily God. Aquinas didn't give us a good reason why the first cause must be his god. Just like the issue regarding the prime mover, first cause need not have the properties usually associated with God. For example, a first cause need not have great, let alone infinite, knowledge or goodness. A first cause could be an evil being or the universe itself.

So let us just talk about what most theists meant when they use the word “necessary.”

A Brute Fact?

I’ve notice that whenever God believers talk about the cosmological argument they always start the conversation that God as a necessary Being is a brute fact. That prompts Prof. Richard Dawkins to say, "They make the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress" (The God Delusion, p 101). That means before everything else, I have to accept the fact that God exist.

Getting a little bit technical, that means God is a necessary truth – if you conceive of it as false, you’ll end up contradicting yourself, because its truth is built right into the concept that composed it. To know that it is true, you don’t have to know anything but the meaning of those concepts; you don’t have to know any other facts about the world. So it is either God exist or the whole universe is unexplained. This has something to do with the Principle of Sufficient Reason. According to this principle, nothing can exist without a sufficient reason for its existence.

This is an advance form of Anselm’s ontological argument. According to Norman Malcolm what we have to accept in talking about God is the following: (1) Either God’s existence is logically impossible or (2) it is logically necessary for God to exist. But we can’t select the first option since God is the greatest conceivable being we can think of. For God not to exist is a defect which contradicts the concept of God’s very nature. (Not a very good selection to choose eh?) So when we apply the Principle of Sufficient Reason, then VIOLA! God exist!

And what is the “sufficient reason?”

Bertrand Russell explained that the contingency argument rest on a misconception of what an explanation is and does and singularity on what it is that makes phenomena “intelligible.”

Suppose we have been asked to explain why Benigno Aquino III won the 2010 election. Do we have to look for his genealogy or to go back to Prehistoric Philippines to answer this? We can always answer things like his popularity on his rivals or the fact that because of his famous mom and dad, he became too popular to most Filipino voters. We can think of different reasons (causes and effects) but what matter is that we understand the reason. As stated by Russell, in order to explain a phenomenon or to make it intelligible, we don’t need to posit a necessary being.

God believers says that the Principle of Sufficient Reason can’t be wrong since it has been a part of the scientific worldview for a long time in the sense that scientists are committed not only in figuring out the way the world is but also the reason why it is that way. That’s true, but science is controlled by rules of discourse. In science, necessarily entails objectivity whose propositions are constructed from data.

Going back on the issue, the facts of the matter in the issue of “necessary” is that there really aren’t any established reason to say that the existence of anything (including God) as necessary. Can you tell me one?

Necessary truths are not established on the basis of sense-experience. They are either intuitively analytic or deduced from intuitively acceptable premises. Logical and mathematical truths are generally regarded as the paradigms of necessary truths. It is a difference between “matters of logic” from “matters of facts”.

Want to know the difference?

Ok. It is matters of logic to say that a triangle is an angle with 3-sides. Now to say that it doesn’t, you are contradicting yourself. However, it is a question of fact which logic alone cannot settle whether there’s a giant triangle standing in the middle of EDSA near Cubao’s Farmer’s Plaza on October 27, 2010 at exactly 7:30 AM.

Necessary truth can only be applied to statements because logic applies only on statements. So to accept that God is the most perfect, conceivable being I can imagine is a necessary truth and to say that it doesn’t exist will lead me to a contradiction. But to say that this “most perfect, conceivable being I can imagine” is here, talking to me right now and He’s wearing a pink boxer short…well…we’ll have a problem with that.

Aquinas' Argument from Gradation begins with the empirical observation of different degrees of goodness in different kinds of things in the world.  Hence, this argument is actually an à posteriori argument, and the conclusion is not claimed to follow with absolute certainty.

So as the apologist from Marikina concluded, we measure goodness in a certain standard and the standard must be perfect. Therefore God.


If there is a perfect standard of good, then there must be a perfect standard of evil, right? Because how can we measure evil if there is no perfect standard for it? Evil exists, right? So, am I to believe that there is something opposite to god with the same power and perfection?

The best defense an apologist will do here is to deny the existence of evil, but to deny the existence of evil to give way to this argument, well that doesn't solve everything.  The mere fact that evil exists, give us also a right to conclude that there must also be a perfect standard of evil to compare it - as what Aquinas and the apologist from Marikina wants us to believe.

Ok, so all things have an order or arrangement, and work for an end. A galvanize iron (yero) flying because the storm wind blew it - uh...what's the purpose? How about a rock falling to the ground? Also, why will be the end or purpose points to Aquinas' God? What's the reason? Aquinas never gave us any reason why it should be like that, and same goes with the apologist from Marikina.

If God ordered everything towards himself, then how about those of evil purpose? How about imperfections?

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