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Argument for the existence of God

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The subject is very important in the concept of objectivity. Not everything that takes into account the nature of the subject is subjectivism. He's just saying the concept of "order" applies from the point of view of human knowledge. We would not even be able to conceive a "disordered universe," since all that would mean is that A would be non-A. So the argument from design just doesn't get us to the necessity of an intelligent designer.

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"There is no "order" in the universe, there is only "ordered" understanding of its many interacting elements."

This is so subjective -- are you saying that the order that we see in the universe is merely a product of our minds, that ithe order wouldn't exist if we weren't there to see it?

The order that we see in the universe is a product of our minds. This product is the result of several processes. The organization of the sensations, a result of the causal interaction of objects with our sense organs, into percepts performed automatically by the brain is an overview of one process. The processing of the percepts by the mind via differentiation and integration based on the perceptually given similarity into first level concepts is an overview of another process.

Note that the process is the transformation of the raw materials via a given process into a new arrangement.

The light (the raw material) refracted off the object to the eyes (the process) registering as a sensation (the new arrangement)

The sensations (the raw materials) automatically integrated by the brain (the process) into percepts (the new arrangement).

The precepts (the raw materials) processed by consciousness via differentiation and integration (the process) into concepts (the new arrangement)

The three stages listed here (the raw material) organized in such a way that the new arrangement is the raw material for the next step (the process) aides in abstracting the concept order (the new arrangement).

The order is produced by the mind by processing (transforming or reorganizing) the raw materials or data it observes (existence).

It is also worth noting here that the order described above is not in the mind of a young child. The young child has the sensations organized by their brain into percepts automatically for them, but what order exists in his or her mind of what he or she is observing?

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He is of the opinion that the ordered universe we experience is, mathematically speaking, so improbable that the positing of a Creator is no more implausible than the modern preferences of the current flavor of the day (Dawkins, Hawking), and of cour4e to extraterristials).

Good for him?

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"The order that we see in the universe is a product of our minds."

Then the perception of ourselves as "rational" beings would be just as much a product of our minds, a completely human construct. Which means that Objectivism is simply one person's ideas (Rand's) about how a person ought to live -- no more "true" (another human construct) then anyone else's.

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The order that exists in the universe (no, it's not a product of our minds) stems from everything in the universe acting solely in accordance with its nature. Hydrogen always behaves like hydrogen because it is part of the nature of hydrogen to do so, masses respond to gravity in a specific way because they are masses and it is part of the very nature of masses to respond to gravity in that way, charged particles respond to electric fields in a certain way because they are charged particles and it is part of the nature of charged particles to do so.

Someone pointing this out to Ayn Rand (was it Phil Donahue?) elicited the following rhetorical question: "What would a disordered universe look like?"

The insistence that order implies a planner totally ignores the concept of order arising spontaneously from the fact that everything in existence can only act in certain limited ways.

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I can't even get a nod that rain is "good," apparently because in certain extreme cases it can threaten property and life.

Why is it important to get a nod that rain is good? You sound like you are taking something personally when all we (or perhaps I should just stick with I) are trying to do is put something into an objective perspective. Hurricanes and flooding resulting in death and property loss occur several times every year, so cases of rain threatening property and life are not so "extreme". Evaluating whether or not something is good or bad requires a context. Though you seem to keep resisting that idea, you keep providing a context every time you explain why rain is good to you. Rain is rain. Sometimes it is good for some people, sometimes it is bad for some people. Why is that idea so offensive to you?

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Then the perception of ourselves as "rational" beings would be just as much a product of our minds, a completely human construct. Which means that Objectivism is simply one person's ideas (Rand's) about how a person ought to live -- no more "true" (another human construct) then anyone else's.

Recognizing, identifying, and labeling "rationality" is definitely a human construct. However, it would be meaningless if it didn't correspond to reality -- and it is true if it does correspond. Observation of reality itself was what prompted the discovery of rationality in the first place. However, reality, and all of its elements, just "are," interacting with each other in their limited ways (as noted by Steve). Our particular human method of discovery doesn't change the nature of reality.
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We are using "order" in two different contexts here.

The epistemological context of order, that is organizing the perceptual data based on the "order" observed metaphysically arising from an objective understanding of the law of causality.

The order is epistemologically established by consciousness as identification of existence as identity. Hydrogen acts as hydrogen. Oxygen acts as oxygen. Electricity acts as electricity. A process that involves hydrogen, oxygen and electricity, each acting according to their nature, results in water. The description of this is epistemological.

The data this description was derived from is metaphysical. Relating the concept 'hydrogen' to the entity 'hydrogen' is a process of validation. Relating the proposition describing water as the result to the laboratory exercise involving the actual entities described is a process of proof.

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Why is it important to get a nod that rain is good? You sound like you are taking something personally when all we (or perhaps I should just stick with I) are trying to do is put something into an objective perspective. Hurricanes and flooding resulting in death and property loss occur several times every year, so cases of rain threatening property and life are not so "extreme". Evaluating whether or not something is good or bad requires a context. Though you seem to keep resisting that idea, you keep providing a context every time you explain why rain is good to you. Rain is rain. Sometimes it is good for some people, sometimes it is bad for some people. Why is that idea so offensive to you?

There is an evasion that occurs when "context" is invoked to argue that a thing isn't good (or bad). Rain is good, in the context of man living on Earth. Did I imply a larger context than that? Do you really need to parse the context down to a particular rain shower on a particular day on a particular plot of land with a crop that is required for the nearby village to survive, to say that "rain is good?" What if that village is a bunch of Nazis intent on wiping out your village - does that make rain bad ----- "in that context?" ???? How do you identify principles, or avoid bogging down in rank subjectivist evasions when you insist on counting rare events (floods, hurricanes) as valid counter-contexts to the relevant context of man's existence?

Do you insist on parsing contexts that closely when you hear someone say "freedom is good?" "Reason is good?" "Capitalism is good?" "Objectivism is a good philosophy?" etc?

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There is an evasion that occurs when "context" is invoked to argue that a thing isn't good (or bad).

You can think of it however you like. I don't invoke context, it exists independent of me. If you can't get your mind around that, that's not my problem. Have a nice one.

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Do you insist on parsing contexts that closely when you hear someone say "freedom is good?" "Reason is good?" "Capitalism is good?" "Objectivism is a good philosophy?" etc?

The difference lies in the metaphysically given vs. the man-made. The metaphysically given is neither good nor bad, it simply is. Judgment of the man-made is proper.

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One of the things I have found to be effective for me is to simply not engage the question of whether or not there is a god. I am not an atheist or a deist and find the whole discussion rather ridiculous and leading nowhere. I simply do not engage the argument or think about it.

What is, is.

If there is a god, we don't know him and don't know what he is or what he isn't.

God is a cartoon character and all of his authors write their own scripts.

I agree also with Rand, who said that god was something man created in his own image and likeness.

There is no point whatsoever in discussing the existence or non-existence of god. Waste of time.

Let's say for a moment that the idea of god had never been discussed before on planet earth and someone just all-of-a-sudden came up with it, "Hey, consider this for a moment... what if there were this omniscient, omnipresent super-being of the universe floating around out there, watching every move we made, judging us and pulling our strings from behind the scenes."

Most would likely find this entire discussion ridiculous and dismiss it as a mere figment of someone's imagination -- while others, irrational others, would likely try to find a way to ca$h in on this false idea, false concept and false belief...

We'd all end up where we are now.

The whole argument, to my mind, is completely pointless and useless.

If there is a god, what do you propose to do about it?

If there isn't a god, what do you propose to do about that?

We're completely powerless any way you look at it. The whole discussion is nonsense, like children discussing their make-believe friends. But we tolerate it because we know it's just a child enjoying his imagination.

God is a cartoon character and all of his authors write their own scripts.

If I wanted to get really rich by destroying the minds of others, one of the first things I would do is invent a god and a religion and sell my cartoon strip to blank-outs and nit-wits.

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If there is a god, what do you propose to do about it?

Assuming the traditional notions of "god", if there is a god, then contradictions can exist (A is not A), and all knowledge - as well as the very ability to know and communicate - is invalid. Such a world is not capable of being understood with certainty, so there's no point in trying to pursue your values. Best to simply stop existing.

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"The order that exists in the universe (no, it's not a product of our minds) stems from everything in the universe acting solely in accordance with its nature. Hydrogen always behaves like hydrogen because it is part of the nature of hydrogen to do so, masses respond to gravity in a specific way because they are masses and it is part of the very nature of masses to respond to gravity in that way, charged particles respond to electric fields in a certain way because they are charged particles and it is part of the nature of charged particles to do so."

Thanks, Steve -- but in essence, this boils down to "there is order because there is order".

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Thanks, Steve -- but in essence, this boils down to "there is order because there is order".

Exactly - it is axiomatic. That which exists has a specific nature which can be identified by a conscious entity. It is invalid to ask why there is order (i.e., why everything acts in accordance with its nature), as any answer must presume what it intends to show.

Edited by brian0918
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You can think of it however you like. I don't invoke context, it exists independent of me. If you can't get your mind around that, that's not my problem. Have a nice one.

Here is where you invoke context:

Evaluating whether or not something is good or bad requires a context.

My context is: man's existence on earth. Rain in a universe in which man does not exist is neither good nor bad, because the context required, that which involves the existence of a rational being capable of judging, is missing. Context exists, not independent of you, but in conjunction with you and your ability to recognize it. There is no context without consciousness.

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The metaphysically given is neither good nor bad. It simply is. Existence does exist independently of us. It is what man does in conjunction with existence that is always to be judged, not existence itself.

While the rain may be good or bad for the crops needed for a village to survive, the context is still one of that of the man-made vs. the metaphysical. It is not the rain that is good or bad, but for the man-made aspects the knowledge of how the rain serves in that purpose.

It is not "the rain is good" in and of itself. The rain simply is. The rain is only good in the relationship it serves to the crops, and how that serves to survival.

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The metaphysically given is neither good nor bad. It simply is. Existence does exist independently of us. It is what man does in conjunction with existence that is always to be judged, not existence itself.

I'm not sure what the purpose is of bringing up the distinction between the metaphysically-given vs. the man-made. Rand made the distinction for metaphysical reasons, not moral reasons. All examples of good or bad things are contextual - they are all good/bad for someone. That's true for both metaphysically-given and man-made circumstances. I cannot find any quote in the Lexicon that claims that the metaphysically-given cannot be considered good or bad, depending on the individual context.

The only possible way I can see that this part of your statement can be valid is to say that we can only morally judge the man-made, not the metaphysically given. One could never call a tsunami "evil" for wiping out an island, but one could certainly say it was a bad thing for the islanders.

Edited by brian0918
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Then I may not be getting the gist of the discussion. It appeared that may have been the distinction missed. The rain is good for crops (a man-made phenomenon, which relies on the m.g. of rain, seeds, ground,etc, but the rearrangment of nature to serve a purpose the aspects of nature are required a.k.a. good for that purpose.)

To me, a tsunami is neither good nor bad until considered in relation to the man-made choice of where to live, build, produce - at which point Japan serves as a recent example of the role it can play in the destruction of those factors.

A rogue wave is simply a rogue wave. Add the element of the man-made: ship, navigation, trip etc., a rogue wave is not a necessay element to sail across the ocean, thus it would be considered bad in that context.

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"Exactly - it is axiomatic. That which exists has a specific nature which can be identified by a conscious entity. It is invalid to ask why there is order (i.e., why everything acts in accordance with its nature), as any answer must presume what it intends to show."

I don't think it's axiomatic -- it's a bit like saying "grass is green", but then positing that it is "invalid" to ask why it's green. We'd never know about photosynthesis, let alone any other process, with this mindset.

"Assuming the traditional notions of "god", if there is a god, then contradictions can exist (A is not A), and all knowledge - as well as the very ability to know and communicate - is invalid. Such a world is not capable of being understood with certainty, so there's no point in trying to pursue your values. Best to simply stop existing."

It depends upon which "traditional" notion of God you have in mind. Since many (if not most) scientists have been Christian, this would appear to contradict your assertion. This author contends that modern science is possible largely because of the Judeo-Christian concept of God:

http://periodicals.faqs.org/201110/2468648881.html

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"What, if anything, do you consider to be axiomatic, esp. in a philosophic sense?"

The statement "Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another", would appear to be axiomatic. One cannot logically imagine a different conclusion. I can certainly imagine what a disordered universe could be like, as well as no universe at all.

I think my real problem is the idea that if something is declared to be axiomatic, that any "why" questions that follow are "invalid". Invalid to whom? There are scientists who engage in speculation and theories as to WHY the universe is the way it is -- are they invalid scientists?

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"What, if anything, do you consider to be axiomatic, esp. in a philosophic sense?"

The statement "Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another", would appear to be axiomatic. One cannot logically imagine a different conclusion. I can certainly imagine what a disordered universe could be like, as well as no universe at all.

I think my real problem is the idea that if something is declared to be axiomatic, that any "why" questions that follow are "invalid". Invalid to whom? There are scientists who engage in speculation and theories as to WHY the universe is the way it is -- are they invalid scientists?

The issue of order isn't "why the universe is the way it is" in the sense of what makes the grass green...

Were the grass blue, there would still be some ultimately apprehendable reason for that. Or yellow, or what have you. As we speculate about other possible universes, one thing that would remain constant is: that things would act in accordance with their nature.

The reason why questioning "order" itself is invalid is because, were "order" anything other than it is -- were contradiction metaphysically possible -- then a person would not have any grounds upon which to question anything. A scientist is able to investigate the nature of the universe (and discover that chlorophyll is the cause of plants' greenness) precisely because he understands that there exists order in the sense we're discussing. To remove that understanding -- to take seriously the idea that "there might be a universe in which things do not behave according to their nature" -- would eliminate the very possibility for science, or rational thought generally. If things did not behave according to their nature, then we would have to allow for "square circles" and the independence of cause and effect, and the possibility for eating one's cake and having it too, and... you see? It just doesn't make any sense at all. (Incidentally, it would also render moot your suggested axiom where things equal to the same thing are also equal to one another; given contradiction, this is not necessarily so.)

Earlier you mentioned your mathematician friend and the long odds against this universe, and I consider these related issues. Here's how I see it:

Suppose you win the lotto. You're stunned (beyond the boon of winning) because your winning was highly improbable, which is indisputably true. The chance that your particular combination of numbers would come up was always microscopic... and yet... that doesn't mean that there was some particular design behind it. Some combination of numbers was always bound to come up, and the chances of any combination of numbers was equally small.

Sometimes I feel like we're cosmic lottery winners, marveling at the fact of having won. While it's true that many things had to "fall right" for us to have this conversation, had it been some other way, perhaps other people (though differently constituted) would be discussing how "perfectly designed" their universe was -- just so as to allow for their lives -- and how that order constitutes evidence for an intelligent designer (in their image, naturally).

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The statement "Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another", would appear to be axiomatic. One cannot logically imagine a different conclusion. I can certainly imagine what a disordered universe could be like, as well as no universe at all.

I think my real problem is the idea that if something is declared to be axiomatic, that any "why" questions that follow are "invalid". Invalid to whom? There are scientists who engage in speculation and theories as to WHY the universe is the way it is -- are they invalid scientists?

A simple starting point for grasping axiomatic could be:

ax·i·om·at·ic adj \ˌak-sē-ə-ˈma-tik\

Definition of AXIOMATIC

1: taken for granted : self-evident <an axiomatic truth>

Declaring something to be axiomatic does not take into account what something needs to be in order to qualify as axiomatic.Something can only be declared to be axiomatic if, and only if, it meets the criterion established by the concept. In order for something to be self-evident, it must be so without the use of proof or reason. If you are attempting to appeal to proof or reason to substantiate a claim, then the claim is not axiomatic. Appealing to proof or reason to substantiate a claim requires the use of concepts. Concepts in turn require the use of reason to form and use them correctly. Certain concepts are considered to be axiomatic, not in the sense they are reached without the use of proof or reason, rather that any attempt to apply proof or reasoning, that is to analyze them (i.e. reduce to other facts or break into component parts) is not possible and that they are implicit in all facts and knowledge. Can you name any concepts which would be subsumed by this criteria.

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I think my real problem is the idea that if something is declared to be axiomatic, that any "why" questions that follow are "invalid". Invalid to whom?

To reason. Note the part in bold from my original reply: "It is invalid to ask why there is order (i.e., why everything acts in accordance with its nature), as any answer must presume what it intends to show." In other words, it is invalid because you are asking "why do things act in accordance with their nature and have a specific identity", since the "why" already presumes that things act in accordance with their nature and have specific identities. The act of questioning existence and identity presumes existence and identity. That is why they are invalid questions.

This is not simply an opinion on my part, but a contradiction on yours that you fail to notice. And I am not simply "declaring" that identity is axiomatic. I recognize that any attempt to disprove the validity of identity must necessarily assume identity is valid.

If you do not understand this most basic, fundamental point, then you must be very little acquainted with Objectivism. I would recommend the first few chapters of Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Edited by brian0918
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