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Refutation of existence of an all powerful being.

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And frankly, it doesn't matter *WHERE* your argument is flawed - if any point of your argument is unsound, your entire argument is unsound, but you give the appearance that you wish to retreat to a bastion of verbosity and obfuscation to avoid that issue.

You are correct that it doesn't matter where my argument is flawed. If it is flawed, then it is flawed. However in the course of a debate, the order in which alleged flaws are addressed does indeed matter- especially if objectors bounce back and forth between alleged flaws. It makes it impossible for any coherent debate and it is reminiscent of evasion; whether intentional or not.

Is the above objection against my position (that gravity & energy is an alternative explanation) the only flaw you see in my argument? Are there any more fundamental flaws in my premises/epistemology/etc.. that you wish to point out? I ask because I do not want to back track to those after we've begun discussing the above objection. If we advance with this objection, I will not entertain a retreat back to the previous steps in my argument or sudden fashioning of straw-men.

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Where did the energy come from? Did it cause itself to come into existence? In which case, is energy volitional?

Religion posits that God is eternal - that either he always existed or created himself.

I posit that existence itself is eternal - that energy (as per physics) can neither be created nor destroyed - so that energy ALWAYS existed.

If your God can always have existed, why not energy? After all, we KNOW energy exists - but we DON'T "know" that it "had to come from somewhere".

What physics suggests is that at one point about 15B years ago, all the energy in the universe (or at least the part we know about) was compacted in a tiny space (space itself was small) and that our universe came into being when that energy began to spread out (taking space with it - or space expanded taking energy with it - ask an astrophysicist) and as it expanded, it began to cool (ie become less dense/excited) to the point where sub-atomic matter could form, and then from that we got a lot of H and He. This expansion was uniform and universal, so matter coalesced in every part of the universe in a uniform, universal spread. It was still very hot though, too hot for gravity to really work yet - but space kept expanding and over time it did cool off enough for gravity to take hold and start forming larger particles.

IIRC matter formation was around 400k years after initial expansion, and 1st star formation was in the early millions. Only after the first stars ignited did we get anything more complex than Helium (He).

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You are correct that it doesn't matter where my argument is flawed. If it is flawed, then it is flawed. However in the course of a debate, the order in which alleged flaws are addressed does indeed matter- especially if objectors bounce back and forth between alleged flaws. It makes it impossible for any coherent debate and it is reminiscent of evasion; whether intentional or not.

Is the above objection against my position (that gravity & energy is an alternative explanation) the only flaw you see in my argument? Are there any more fundamental flaws in my premises/epistemology/etc.. that you wish to point out? I ask because I do not want to back track to those after we've begun discussing the above objection. If we advance with this objection, I will not entertain a retreat back to the previous steps in my argument or sudden fashioning of straw-men.

I'm not here to play by whatever rules you fancy today. I've presented problems in your assertions repeatedly and am tired of your verbose obfuscations.

Either you're going to actually discuss this or you aren't, and history so far seems to be repeating. Understand that I have no need to prove you wrong to you - you have not been interested in checking your own premises and I'm not interested in forcing them on you, so either you discuss with me in a conversation on terms I can agree with - and there's only one term: we go where the conversation leads - or we are done.

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Avila, I want to point out that none of the special science arguments Greebo has given are in any way representing an official Oist position on the topic. There is no official Oist position on any special science topic. I for one am a Oist who completely rejects virtually every one of the particular theories he has presented as an "alternative" to your position. In fact the very fact that "energy" fits so nicely as a replacement should give one pause as to the inductive validity of that particular usage of the concept.

Thanks, Plasmatic. I appreciate the clarification.

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But introduce the arbitrary - a concept that has no evidence for OR against it. Epistemologically, you cannot know anything about it - it can not be true or false - it has no evidence thus nothing to point to and say, "X is missing, therefore X isn't here". In computer terms we have a concept for a value that doesn't exist - it's called a null - and when you have a null you can do nothing with it. Null + x = null. If you ask, "Is null equal to 0?", the answer is false. If you ask "Is Null equal to true?" the answer is false. If you ask, "Is null equal to false, the answer to false." You can't do anything with null because null DOES NOT EXIST.

In philosophical terms, NULL is what you get when you cannot say "this concept is true" and you cannot say "this concept is false". The concept itself is impossible to know because it cannot be connected to reality in any manner. And the only proper response when presented with a concept of that nature in a *serious* cognitive fashion is to dismiss any such claims about the concept as false, just like a computer.

Based on this, then, your "alternative" -- that energy is eternal, has always existed -- is equally arbitrary.

The stance of Objectivism is that the concept of God is arbitrary, meaning outside the realm of proof

Then the alternatives presented here to Aquinas's argument are equally arbitrary. Which means that you, as an Objectivist, really ought not to waste any thought on subjects as interesting as the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the nature of existence,......on and on.

Edited by Avila
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In philosophical terms, NULL is what you get when you cannot say "this concept is true" and you cannot say "this concept is false".

Ah yes, ex-atheist Antony Flew's main argument...

I was thinking of all the things that are arbitrary by Objectivist standards. Some Objectivist ethicical position can't be proven. For example, Rand believed (I can find the quote somewhere if you're not familiar with it) that people who place family, friends, and human relationships above creative work are immoral (her exact word). Since one can neither falsify or prove that assertion, it is reasonable to say that Rand's opinion on this matter ought to be dismissed as arbitrary.

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Based on this, then, your "alternative" -- that energy is eternal, has always existed -- is equally arbitrary.

Except for one distinct difference.

Existence exists. We know it exists. We cannot even try to say it doesn't exist without acknowledging its existence by the fact that we exist to say anything at all.

Existence exists and either it came from something else (and what could possibly exist that isn't existence to create existence?) or it is boundless and eternal.

We KNOW existence exists. We don't know any such thing about a divine creator - but even so we do not *know* with certainty if there are origins at all and if there are, what they are.

Then the alternatives presented here to Aquinas's argument are equally arbitrary. Which means that you, as an Objectivist, really ought not to waste any thought on subjects as interesting as the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the nature of existence,......on and on.

NOT being proven yet is not equal to arbitrary. IMPOSSIBLE to prove or disprove is arbitrary.

But do we *know*? No. I was simply talking about what physicists theorize, I wasn't making a philosophical argument, just pointing out the theory. There's quite a few out there.

But they have one thing to their favor over Aquinas' (you do not, btw, write s's, it's just s') arguments. They are derived from observable facts. Yes, they're speculations, but they're speculations based on what has been observed, and further, they at least have the potential to be proven or disproved. Aquinas' have no such potential.

But philosophically, do I think any of those theories are epistemological fact? Hell no. But they are also not arbitrary. If I were to take one of them and consider them true and build on my conceptual awareness of reality with that as an accepted premise, however, that would be arbitrary.

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Ah yes, ex-atheist Antony Flew's main argument...

I was thinking of all the things that are arbitrary by Objectivist standards. Some Objectivist ethicical position can't be proven. For example, Rand believed (I can find the quote somewhere if you're not familiar with it) that people who place family, friends, and human relationships above creative work are immoral (her exact word). Since one can neither falsify or prove that assertion, it is reasonable to say that Rand's opinion on this matter ought to be dismissed as arbitrary.

Yes, bring the citation please.

That would be an interesting one to cite too - because in A.S., she presented a sound illustration of a woman who's sole focus in life was raising her children. Now of course, that woman's children WERE her creative work.

However, you seem to be revealing your ignorance of O'ist ethics here - because there is, in point of fact, a rational, established case for why one should not sacrifice one's creative effort for the sake of others - so you saying such a statement cannot be proven or disproved seems rather to suggest you haven't done your homework.

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"Based on this, then, your "alternative" -- that energy is eternal, has always existed -- is equally arbitrary."

The idea of the eternality of existence is based off of the conservation of matter/energy, that it can't be created or destroyed. The more important point here though is that since there is an explanation that doesn't require conjuring up some entirely new, extra thing, then one cannot invoke necessity for explaining stuff as evidence for a deity/deities.

The origin of life and the nature of existence are NOT outside the realm of proof, that's for darned sure. These things clearly have evidence all around us that we can study. Also, what do you think is required to consider an ethical position proven? There are reasons for ethical conclusions in Objectivism, but I'd like to hear first what you think already before trying to possibly argue against a position which isn't really the one you hold.

Finally, please cease with the logical fallacy of appeal to consequences. Rather than try to tell us we should back off because if our arguments are right you think it would mean things we wouldn't like for some of our own positions, please try to focus on explaining why you think argument are actually incorrect, not just perhaps unsavory.

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Yes, bring the citation please.

That would be an interesting one to cite too - because in A.S., she presented a sound illustration of a woman who's sole focus in life was raising her children. Now of course, that woman's children WERE her creative work.

However, you seem to be revealing your ignorance of O'ist ethics here - because there is, in point of fact, a rational, established case for why one should not sacrifice one's creative effort for the sake of others - so you saying such a statement cannot be proven or disproved seems rather to suggest you haven't done your homework.

From her 1964 Playboy interview:

PLAYBOY: According to your philosophy, work and achievement are the highest goals of life. Do you regard as immoral those who find greater fulfillment in the warmth of friendship and family ties?

RAND: If they place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man's life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite; whereas, if he places his work first, there is no conflict between his work and his enjoyment of human relationships."

A man who places his work above his family is, in my opinion, a stupid jerk. But that's just my opinion. Rand asserts it as an absolute, but based on what scientific experiments? How can one PROVE that it is immoral?

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May I also state two things concerning my positions on some subtopics here:

1. I agree with Plasmatic on the issues he discussed just now, and

2. I do not believe that existence as such can be justifiably called an "entity." Perhaps this can be another thread sometime if any of us desire to debate the issue. To state my case briefly I will say: The quote from Peikoff's lecture given is actually in support of my position that the universe is not an entity. It meets none of his requirements for the usage of the term: it is not a single thing, it is the sum of every thing; it has no definite boundary; and it is definitely not perceptual in scale.

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From her 1964 Playboy interview:

PLAYBOY: According to your philosophy, work and achievement are the highest goals of life. Do you regard as immoral those who find greater fulfillment in the warmth of friendship and family ties?

RAND: If they place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man's life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite; whereas, if he places his work first, there is no conflict between his work and his enjoyment of human relationships."

A man who places his work above his family is, in my opinion, a stupid jerk. But that's just my opinion. Rand asserts it as an absolute, but based on what scientific experiments? How can one PROVE that it is immoral?

"The concept of proof presupposes the existence of axioms from which such proof is derived." - The Letters of Ayn Rand, The Later Years (1960-1981)

The axioms being that existence exists, and only existence exists, that existence is identity, that consciousness is conscious, further that consciousness is identification. Proof presupposes the grasp of the primacy of existence. If one does not have this at the base of their conceptual knowledge, understanding how Rand responded to Playboy in 1964 will more difficult than understanding what is meant in Objectivist literature about the arbitrary.

That being said, an observation in these threads, and from numerous conversations held personally along the same ilk: when what is being discussed does not exist in fact, it is understandable why it is so difficult to stay focused on the topic being discussed at hand.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Where did the energy come from? Did it cause itself to come into existence? In which case, is energy volitional?

I embedded Lawrence Krauss’s talk on this subject earlier on this thread, these are scientific questions and there aren’t Objectivism-specific answers to them. Krauss is expanding it into a book treatment, I’m looking forward to it.

http://www.amazon.com/Universe-Nothing-There-Something-Rather/dp/145162445X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1309703276&sr=8-2

What do you say to the fact that Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design specifically and repeatedly rejects the notion of a necessary being (an outside creator, god(s))? I was going to a Catholic High School when A Brief History of Time came out, and one of the brothers (Marists) would tote his copy around, eager to tell how it proved the existence of God by reference to Cosmology (which, naturally, virtually no HS student could discuss intelligently, myself included). Oops.

A man who places his work above his family is, in my opinion, a stupid jerk. But that's just my opinion. Rand asserts it as an absolute, but based on what scientific experiments? How can one PROVE that it is immoral?

I suggest breaking off the moral argument into another thread, this one is becoming unwieldy.

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A man who places his work above his family is, in my opinion, a stupid jerk. But that's just my opinion. Rand asserts it as an absolute, but based on what scientific experiments? How can one PROVE that it is immoral?

One needs scientific experiments to prove this no more than one needs science to prove that A is A.

Man survives by his own productive effort. To prosper long term, he must produce for the long term, and *if* he cares for his family, he very well may be the one who has to produce *for them* for the long term, as well as for himself.

If he puts family before productivity, he puts his and their own futures at risk.

Rand is not saying to *exclude* family and friends from one's life - but simply to balance them properly - and that one must always be concerned with one's own long term survival and thus with productivity.

To do the reverse, to put family first and sacrifice one's own self for their sake - that is what Rand and all O'ists consider the most reprehensible evil - but that doesn't mean we don't have a place in our lives for our family by any means. I work for the future so that one day my work will work for itself, so that I CAN be free to spend more time with my wife. But if I only did the bare minimum to survive so I could spend all my time with my wife, we'd be condemned to a life of mediocre misery, barely scraping by.

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2. I do not believe that existence as such can be justifiably called an "entity." Perhaps this can be another thread sometime if any of us desire to debate the issue. To state my case briefly I will say: The quote from Peikoff's lecture given is actually in support of my position that the universe is not an entity. It meets none of his requirements for the usage of the term: it is not a single thing, it is the sum of every thing; it has no definite boundary; and it is definitely not perceptual in scale.

RE existence being an entity - I think it does qualify as an entity.

It definitely exists.

It is the sum of everything - but the sum of an equation is an entity. If 2 and + and 2 and = are entities, so must also be 4.

It has a definite boundary - where everything ends, so does it end.

It is, I agree, not perceptual in scale - at least not in our scale - but if you stand at the edge of an ocean, you cannot perceive all of the ocean in scale either, and yet the ocean is an entity. Stand in space, however, and you can see it as the size of your thumb.

We cannot perceive all of existence - YET - but does that mean it CANNOT be perceived in scale? We don't really know that one.

And finally - if existence, as a concept, is not an entity, then how can it be a concept?

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From ITOE: "The units of the concepts "existence" and "identity" are every entity, attribute, action, event or phenomenon (including consciousness) that exists, has ever existed or will ever exist."

From "The Rights of Man": "Since there is no such entity as "society," since society is only a number of individual men..."

Existence is an abstraction from abstractions, as such, itself is not an entity, rather entities are one aspect of the referents which existence is derived from.

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May I also state two things concerning my positions on some subtopics here:

1. I agree with Plasmatic on the issues he discussed just now, and

2. I do not believe that existence as such can be justifiably called an "entity." Perhaps this can be another thread sometime if any of us desire to debate the issue. To state my case briefly I will say: The quote from Peikoff's lecture given is actually in support of my position that the universe is not an entity. It meets none of his requirements for the usage of the term: it is not a single thing, it is the sum of every thing; it has no definite boundary; and it is definitely not perceptual in scale.

Thanks, that helps. It was some of the ideas presented about the nature of existence that prompted my initial questions.

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To do the reverse, to put family first and sacrifice one's own self for their sake - that is what Rand and all O'ists consider the most reprehensible evil - but that doesn't mean we don't have a place in our lives for our family by any means. I work for the future so that one day my work will work for itself, so that I CAN be free to spend more time with my wife. But if I only did the bare minimum to survive so I could spend all my time with my wife, we'd be condemned to a life of mediocre misery, barely scraping by.

The choice isn't between doing the "bare minimum" vs. putting one's own work first: it's between putting one's family first and putting one's own work first. Doing the first requires, of course, that one work to provide for the family -- hardly the "bare minimum". However, putting one's own work above family is a recipe for divorce and estranged children. I don't think Rand understood this, never being a mother. But that's not really the crux of the matter: it's that she makes the assertion that it's immoral. Since it's been explained to me here that that which cannot be proven true or false is arbitrary, why would Rand's statement be given any credence?

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Do you or do you not regard any and all moral matters as unprovable? If so, why and if not, what do you believe is required to prove something is moral and immoral and why?

No, not all. I think we're getting off the subject, though. Probably the subject for another thread. Maybe you can just give me the definitive demonstration that proves that a man who puts his family above his work is immoral, and we can get off this tangent.

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No, not all. I think we're getting off the subject, though. Probably the subject for another thread. Maybe you can just give me the definitive demonstration that proves that a man who puts his family above his work is immoral, and we can get off this tangent.

Maybe you can stay on topic and not make patronizing suggestions to patient members who let you take the topic this far off onto a tangent of your own creation.

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Maybe you can stay on topic and not make patronizing suggestions to patient members who let you take the topic this far off onto a tangent of your own creation.

I was on topic when I pointed out that the explanation I was given as to what made an concept or assertion arbitrary (which was: unable to be proven true or false) would thus render arbitrary the various alternatives that had been offered to a caused universe, as well as moral positions, and gave Rand's assertion about putting work above family as an example. Not off topic yet.... This prompted numerous questions by those patient members. If you don't want to go off on a tangent, then don't ask questions of me if, in answering them, I will then be told I'm taking this topic far off onto a tangent.

Edited by Avila
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