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Wednesday, 03 October 2012

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Congratulations!

Your better half will have been due a second clasp on her LS & GC medal (although I suspect she probably deserves the VC for services 'above and beyond'). When is the award ceremony?

As for yourself Sir, you just count all those blessings ;-)

Ha ha - superb post. Only a few philosophers write anything worth reading and I strongly suspect Mr Feser isn't one of them. Avoid these guys like the plague, they try to drown you in words.

Congratulations to you both and have a great lunch.

Mr Duff,

If you had heeded the old saying, you would not have removed all doubt. I pointed you to Edward Feser because he provides a fairly easy and accessible introduction to the understanding of such arguments in question (which is by no means an easy thing to do). Neither he nor anyone else, however, can make you sufficiently intelligent to understand the most basic distinctions and logical principles. If you are not even able to tell the difference between two very different statements, namely, “Everything has a cause” and “Everything that comes into existence has a cause”, and if you cry out “Whoa!” every time you are confronted with a basic element of (classical) logic (e.g., either A or not-A), then of course the arguments cannot work for you. As you intimate, albeit without full realisation, the fault lies with you and not with the arguments. There are, of course, intelligent objections to the arguments, but you have not even bumped into one yet.

Note 1: the argument is empirically and rationally grounded. It is meant to appeal, in the very beginning at least, to a basic empirical perception and rational understanding of the world. In this respect, merely ask yourself: Do you believe that the objects of your experience have a cause, a reason, or an explanation for their existence (irrespective of whether you know what that cause, reason, or explanation might be)? Or do you think, when you see a tree or a peanut or anything else in your experience: Hello, this thing has mysteriously popped into existence without prior cause, reason, or explanation. Fancy that! It is completely inexplicable even in principle! If the latter, then you have not reached even the level of magical thinking. (Magical thinking would at least posit as a reason the action or the will of a witch or a sorcerer or something; i.e., it would be more rational than your belief.) If, however, you have at least a basic rational stance towards the world, you will think that a thing’s existence is not completely inexplicable in principle at least, even if you do not know (or cannot know in practice) what the cause, reason, or explanation might be. All rational endeavours – including science – are based on this stance towards the world. If, say, scientists tomorrow were to adopt the belief that the objects of their study were inexplicable even in principle, then of course it would be rationally absurd for them to continue in their endeavour. No doubt the world of performance-art would be blessed by their presence.

Note 2: this particular species of argument does not deal with a temporal first cause, but an ontological first cause. The argument does not depend upon the impossibility of an infinite causal series ordered per accidens , but rather only upon that of an infinite causal series ordered per se . (You can look them up.) The argument is logically independent of the truth or falsehood of the big-bang theory, the steady-state theory, or any other scientific theory one might propose for the beginnings or otherwise of the universe. In other words, it is compatible with (because not logically dependent upon) an eternal universe or a time-bounded universe. Aquinas, for instance, though believing that the universe had a beginning, held that it could not be philosophically proven. No doubt he would have been glad to see that science came to the acceptance of the big-bang theory (and I dare say not a little gladder to see that it was proposed by a Catholic priest). But confirmation or not of his belief in the beginning of the universe makes not a jot of difference to his argument. Yet, regardless of all of the above, you insist on treating the argument as though it were a scientific hypothesis to rival others (and it is of no consequence whether you call it merely a hypothesis or Barbara), and you do so because you haven’t the slightest understanding of it. As with your moron-friend above, it is to you as though it were all just words in which you could drown.

46? Congratulations D's, you are ten years ahead of us (less a week)!

Flowers and a slap-up lunch are on the plan I hope.

And NOT garage flowers, of course - that would be worse than none at all.

Have a nice day.

Congratulations, Mr. Duff. Sympathies, Mrs. Duff.

Deogolwulf

Please include me in your group classification of moron since having read your response I have yet to see how you have indicated in any way in which the two statements quoted differ. Your entire diatribe concentrated on articles with demonstrable existence, please give an example of that which has none (ideas/theories/hypotheses do demonstrably have an existence if not material in form).

Unfortunately all I have seen you demonstrate is your willingness to disparage and denigrate anyone who chooses to differ in opinion on this matter, in other words doing exactly what our esteemed host has indicated is a problem he sees with the author (with whom you have obviously invested personal 'emotional' capital).

To quote a self-important authority

"Neither he nor anyone else, however, can make you sufficiently intelligent [or self aware] to understand the most basic distinctions and logical principles. If you are not even able to tell the difference between two very different statements, namely..."

... these are opinions and interpretations and IS nothing more than a hypothesis!

“Please include me in your group classification of moron”

No problem.

Regarding the two statements, I am struggling to think of how to make the distinction basic enough for your understanding, but let’s settle with: one states that everything has a cause, and the other one doesn’t. A major, glaring distinction, wouldn’t you say?

“Your entire diatribe concentrated on articles with demonstrable existence, please give an example of that which has none (ideas/theories/hypotheses do demonstrably have an existence if not material in form).

Demonstrable existence is the whole bloody point of the argument in question! (Seriously: are you pulling my leg?)

“these are opinions and interpretations”

No, they are facts, but I wouldn’t expect you to be able to tell the difference.

However, if it is any consolation, I feel like a moron too: I have tried, as it were, to play chess with monkeys.

Thank you, I feel much better knowing I belong to the normal (as opposed to geek) crowd for a change.

'A glaring distinction'?

"everything has a cause" "what comes into existence has a cause"

"one states that everything has a cause, and the other one doesn’t"

In which world (since the buses obviously don't stop where you live) do these statements make the the distinction you claim? Yes, the argument put forward is that these are two distinct sets, with one being a subset of the other. The question remains valid when you apparently cannot define a single example of the superior set which does not belong to the subset, in other words they are identical.

For the record, I personally found Mr Fesers arguements cogent and well stated (whilst those on the Coyne thread seemed almost desperate and defensive). Compare and contrast with your own.

Facts? Perhaps you should more closely follow the recent developments in quantum entanglement before making generalisations which you clearly haven't any real knowledge of. Oh, and reading what someone actually writes as opposed to what you think they wrote would probably help a little too.

"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand."

Monkeys? Whereas I feel much as I have when dealing, professionally, with solipsists and sociopaths (possibly with a touch of malignant narcissism) which disturbs me!

It's been fun.

Have you been eating mushrooms? The statements themselves are distinct from one another — they make different claims, which is what you and Mr Duff bizarrely doubted: “I have yet to see how you have indicated in any way in which the two statements quoted differ.”; “I can detect no difference in the essential meaning between the two phrases”. And I tried to explain as a basic distinction — oh, great Prime Mover, why did I bother! — that one statement claims that everything has a cause, and that the other one claims no such thing. But in this world of contingent objects, in this world where the buses stop, indeed where the buses start and stop existing, in this the only world which we have ever experienced, there is nothing — not buses, not trees, not peanuts, not little fluffy rabbits — that is without a cause, or a reason, or an explanation for its existence. And that is the starting-point of the cosmological argument, not the more general claim that everything has a cause. If you want to believe that everything has a cause, that’s your business, but it has nothing to do with the argument.

“I personally found Mr Fesers arguements cogent”

Since you do not even understand them, that is not possible.

“Perhaps you should more closely follow the recent developments in quantum entanglement”

Quantum physics: the last refuge of the bullshitter. (And no, that is not an attack on quantum physics; it is an attack on bullshitters.)

“reading what someone actually writes as opposed to what you think they wrote”

I am quite sure I was reading what you wrote. Your quoting Russell does not make sense in this context. I heard the drivel from the horse’s mouth, as it were.

“I feel much as I have when dealing, professionally, with solipsists and sociopaths (possibly with a touch of malignant narcissism)”

Thanks for the free session. You forgot to mention my strong urge to strangle.

“It's been fun.”

I cannot deny that the motive has started to become that of fun, for which sin I now feel guilty. I should consider becoming a Catholic.

"Everything has a cause"

"Everything that exists has a cause"

“Everything that comes into existence has a cause"

Gentlemen, can we please, just for a moment, drop the knockabout stuff whilst I try to grapple with Deog's insistence that there is a material difference between these statements.

For the moment let us forget about the "cause" bit because it seems to me that the key word is "everything". Now as far as I can work out the only possible thing outside of that all-inclusive word is ... no-thing! In other words, some entity that does not now exist nor has ever existed.

In the second phrase the notion is more explicit and definitive because it stipulates "everything that exists", so not much doubt there.

Similarly, in the third which moves "everything" into the future tense, I can only take the word "everything" as literally everything with absolutely no exceptions, which again, leaves you with nothing. (Some people might quibble over pronouncements concerning the future but that is a seperate argument so please, please, let sleeping dogs lie!)

None of what I have written now questions whether or not these various 'everythings' have or have not a cause, so before we move on, perhaps Deog, you would be kind enough to tell me if I have the correct meaning for "everything". And please, Deog, drop the patronising tone, I am not challenging you, I am trying to learn.

"But in this world of contingent objects....there is nothing....that is without a cause, or a reason, or an explanation for its existence."

Let us change that to the observable universe (since real scientists concede this point unless of course they are all morons too?).

"not the more general claim that everything has a cause"

As such, any exception would depend on your claiming that something exists in the unobserved portion of the universe that does not fit the cause-effect paradigm? Are you really proposing that this is probable? Not to do so is to validate the very assumption you rail against, does it not?

The point seems moot since experimentation (by real scientists yet again) has shown that effect can precede cause. This becomes a false arguement in that without the cause, whenever it occurs, the effect is not observed.

"I heard the drivel from the horse’s mouth, as it were."

Ah, of course, whilst I see no reason to doubt you, the fact that you so cavalierly dismiss the opinions not only of a pleb like myself but Bertrand Russells (or are you, badly as per usual, attempting to state you despise Mr. Feser instead. Please try to be clear, I understand that typing in a straight-jacket is hard, but do try a little harder) as well would give me 'ideas above my station' if it were not for the fact I suspect that there is literally no one you would allow as has a valid opinion other than yourself. The list of ailments you exhibit grows by the minute!

"I should consider becoming a Catholic."

But surely that would be in conflict with your role as the founder of the Deogolwulf cult?

"Have you been eating mushrooms?"

Whilst they may help in understanding your 'explanations' I'd personally consider a pre-frontal lobotomy as more effective - not necessarily because it would aid in understanding (although I suspect it would), but the pain and suffering would be a more favourable experience than anymore of your 'waffle'.

Oh and to clarify, I said Mr Fesers arguement was cogent, not that I agreed with it. Thank you again, I'll let you get back to your colouring before the nurse comes with your night meds.

Now, Deog, before you and Able get at it in the ring, please, please, just answer my simple question above as to whether or not I have the right sense of "everything".

Apologies esteemed host. The previous post occurred before I was aware of your own. In defence I would say that, in comparison to 'discussions with colleagues', this was 'extremely polite' and 'facetious' comments apart, I felt I was getting both some clarification and (shamefacedly) enjoyment from the proceedings (and there was I thinking all those academics were sensitive, delicate souls). I shall retire to the lurking sidelines, and continue to learn.

Uhm David?

Somebody with the email handle of "Father Something-Or-Other" sent, I take it by mistake, but your's is only one of the two (nominally civilians) of the eight internet domains with the ".uk" who is not otherwise engaged somehow with Her Maj's military.

Confused? Me too.

Something about "stealing flowers from the churchyard."

You wouldn't know anything about what this fellow's going on about would you?

David

I hope you and your blushing bride had a great anniversary. May you have many more.

David

"
"Everything that exists has a cause"
“Everything that comes into existence has a cause"


While it may not make much difference to selling cars or practicing law there is difference of some importance in philosophy.

The second swtatement supposes that there is something that has always existed so it could not havecome into existence. This something is usually referred to as god in the most generic sense (it would not require that this god be as understood in Christianity, etc.)

How could the first thing have been caused since there was nothing to cause it?

Much ink has been spilled on the subject, usually by people who would never use just one word when the could use ten.


http://eclecticmeanderings.blogspot.com/
Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

Please let us be polite and so far as possible brief otherwise we are unlikely to learn much. May I suggest we go by small steps as if on stepping stones and try out the trustworthiness of our stones as we go.

I think I see some difference here. If I make a plum pie then the existence of the plum pie has a cause - me, I made it.

So, 'Everything that comes into existence has a cause'. Put in homely terms this seems not the same thing as my making a plum pie - although the plum pie did not exist its ingredients and recipe did exist already. The 'everything' word means - (but am not sure) - we are talking about 'things' here - things we can touch and eat rather than ideas. So sticking to an earthly setting I think this phrase means 'physical things that were not there before in whatsoever form that suddenly or gradually arrive in our world have a cause'.

In homely terms I think (but am not sure) this means that a plum pie that suddenly appears in my locked up kitchen has a cause. Further it is made of stuff that was not in our world before - it is of new existence - the Earth weighs a little more - a plum pie's worth more possibly. So yes I would say such an event ought to have a cause, we can't have plum pies appearing willy-nilly - there must be an explanation.

So, have I understood in any way this first step in The Cosmological Argument? If not please explain, politely if possible.

Busy morning today so briefly, a big thank you to all of you who sent good wishes on our anniversary - of which, more later.

JK, not for the first time you have been the cause of something - my confusion! Can you explain your comment?

Able, no need to apologise. Normally I enjoy a 'good knee in the groin, thumb in the eye' set-to but I just wanted to calm things down whilst I struggle through Philosophy 101. And don't stay on the side-lines, your contributions are welcome.

Hank and Roger, I appreciate your offerings - and the plum pie sounds delicious - and when I return at lunchtime I will try to get to grips with this 'little local difficulty', and perhaps Deog will have made an appearance by then.

Mr Duff,

“I am not challenging you, I am trying to learn”

No, you were slandering as a shyster a clever and decent man (Dr Feser) who has spent years on a difficult matter, and you did so simply because you could not understand him after ten minutes. That is not just ignorant; it is indecent.

“Now as far as I can work out the only possible thing outside of that all-inclusive word ["everything"] is ... no-thing!"

Correct.

I think, however, I have understood the source of your confusion, namely, that between intension (implication, connotation, or content of ideas and terms) and extension (application, denotation, or scope of ideas and terms).

Consider a further two statements:

(1*) All objects in this bowl are fruits.
(2*) All objects in this bowl are apples.

The intension or implication of the two statements differ. Conceptually or connatatively they mean something different. However, the extension or application of the statements may or may not differ depending on whether or not all objects in the bowl are apples. In the case that all objects in the bowl are apples, then the extension or application of the two statements is the same, i.e., both statements equally apply to the objects, with no remainder, whilst of course they remain distinct in implication. If, however, one of the objects in the bowl is an orange, then the extension or application will differ, and statement (2*) will be false.

Note that with statement (1) “Everything that comes into existence has a cause” we are trying to stay within the bounds of rational-empirical justification. (A Humean-sceptic would, of course, claim that we do not remain within these bounds.) We have no experience of necessary, self-existent being — whether or not it exists. We have experience only of contingent beings. Statement (1) is as narrow as our experience and our rational stance towards that experience. On the other hand, statement (2) “Everything that exists has a cause” goes beyond the bounds of rational-empirical justification. (The Humean-sceptic would agree a fortiori.) It presupposes something without warrant. Statement (2) excludes without warrant anything that might lie outside our experience, which is what is at stake. So, whilst statement (1) applies (or rather: purports to apply) to everything in existence which we know by experience, statement (2) may or may not apply to everything in existence, but is unjustified in that it goes beyond what we know by experience.

To sum up: if some typical non-Humean atheist is right, then statements (1) and (2) are both true, since they would have the same extension (though not the same intension). In other words, if such an atheist is right, then “everything that exists” and “everything that comes into existence” are co-terminous in extension, or, to put it another way, they would denote the same thing in application, though of course they connote different things and remain distinct in implication. If the typical classical theist is right, however, only statement (1) is true. But if statement (2) were made the premise in the argument (and again I stress that it is not the premise of the cosmological argument, since there is no rational-empirical justification for making it such), it would beg the question against the classical theist, and an argument that begs the question is not a good one.

Apologies are indeed in order, to yourself, your contributers and even to Deogolwulf since I keep forgetting that this interweb thingy does not allow the nuances of expression and body-language to temper the verbal outbursts (although it does prevent colleagues from throwing objects and themselves literally into the discussion which does keep things a little calmer, although I do miss the odd debating scar - I still limp from the Battle of Chaos Theory in '82).

I'm afraid I must come clean in that my science base has perhaps made me more 'sensitive'. Whilst causality is indeed debated by both philosophers and statisticians it is, in my humble opinion, only physicists who have both knowledge of the physics and, more importantly, the maths (the language to describe causality) who can debate the subject in any legitimate fashion. Without an understanding of the implications of special relativity, quantum mechanics, field theory, entanglement and Bell's Theorem effectively the debate becomes 'a group of neanderthals critiquing and expressing opinions on literature they have not only not read, but cannot because they cannot read'. I fully admit that this is a personal and unpopular viewpoint.

For what little I can discern, the differences in the terms we have discussed are simple variations (Aristotelian vs. Kalam cosmological arguements, and we know how much Deog hates Aristotle lol) and appears, to me, to be nothing more than semantics. For others try:

http://www.theopedia.com/Arguments_for_the_existence_of_God

the Wiki articles discus all these in some detail too, although how clear they are is, again, debatable.

;-)

Rogerh,

“Put in homely terms this seems not the same thing as my making a plum pie - although the plum pie did not exist its ingredients and recipe did exist already.”

But, as you note, without you, the ingredients and the recipe would have remained just those alone – and the pie would not exist. Pies don’t make themselves. You are a cause of the pie’s existence. In homely terms, the ingredients are the material cause; the recipe is the formal cause, i.e., the form or determination to be imparted to the pie; the purpose or reason you have in mind for the pie is the final cause; and your actions, along with heat, utensils, etc, are the efficient cause.

Although we are mostly talking about physical things here, the word “everything” by itself does not connote every physical thing. The latter includes an additional connotation, namely, “physical”. If physicalism is true, then everything is a physical thing. By its truth, “everything” and “every physical thing” would have the same extension, i.e., there would be nothing beyond physical things. But to redefine “everything” simpliciter to mean “every physical thing” would be to beg the question against the non-physicalist and in favour of the physicalist. “Everything” in its barest determination (i.e., without additional presuppositions and hence not begging the question against any party) just means every being or entity, whatever its mode of existence might be.

“a plum pie that suddenly appears in my locked up kitchen has a cause”

You would be rational to believe so, even if you did not know or even could not know in practice what the cause or the reason for its existence might be. As I said earlier, even the believer in magic believes that things appear through a cause or reason, although he fancies the cause or reason to be something inherently unintelligible. Someone, however, who doubted that a thing which came into existence did so without a reason or cause would exhibit sub-magical thinking. (In fairness to Hume, I should let him present his denial: “But allow me to tell you that I never asserted so absurd a Proposition as that anything might arise without a cause”. (Letter to John Stewart, Feb. 1754, in The Letters of David Hume, Vol.1, ed., J. Y. T. Greig (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932), p.187.))

“Further it is made of stuff that was not in our world before - it is of new existence - the Earth weighs a little more”

No, we mere mortals cannot create new physical stuff in that sense. We merely impart to matter new forms.

“So yes I would say such an event ought to have a cause, we can't have plum pies appearing willy-nilly - there must be an explanation.”

Quite.

Deogolwulf

Perhaps it would also be useful to clarify/contrast the philosophical definition of nothingness with the physicists (and the man in the street) understanding of the term, or we could end up with the Fester-Siegel arguement all over again? (something from nothing being accepted by physicists as obvious, whilst an anathema to philosophers)

From your above succinct clarification it is clear that the difficulties we have are related more to the specific meaning of the language used, rather than the concepts. Terms meaning widely different things in differing specialties.

Able,

Handwaving to physics again — along with giving us another dose of the "arguments-I-do-not-understand-are-just-semantics" nonsense.

Still, by the wisdom of physicists, do you have men like Lawrence Krauss in mind? A man who calls something "nothing" and then declares that something can come from nothing. Now, that is word-juggling. (Mind you, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.) Bill Vallicella gives the man a good kicking here.

Oh, and DD, I believe JK was intimating the possibility that the bouquet you presented to your better half may have been purloined from a place of worship.

I think. Did herself like the wreath by the way?

Able, yes, JK e-mailed me privately to explain his subtle jest. Alas, my poor, befuddled, 'deogolwulfed' brain is so engaged with "everything", "cherry pies", "peanuts" and The Meaning of Life that I really didn't get the joke. Anyway, enough already, I must get back to Deog's explanations and, yes, my lips are moving as I read it!

@Deog:

(1) “Everything that comes into existence (has a cause)”

(2) “Everything that exists (has a cause)”

Let us for the moment forget the possessive phrases which I have placed in brackets. I suggest that because I am happy to go along with 99% of the 'causal proposition'.

Whilst I can see the difference between "fruit" and "apples" in which one is more specific than the other, I'm afraid I can see no difference between your two (foreshortened) phrases. "Everything" is everything, no exceptions, no cop-outs, no absentees - everything.

The only slight, and I think, trivial, variation is that (1) implies 'everything', past, present and future; whilst (2) implies 'everything' that exists now.

However, as "everything" means everything with no exceptions - what's the difference?

Just for the moment I would prefer not to move into the area of thoughts, please, let us just stick with 'things'!

"the philosophical definition of nothingness"

What it normally means. Not-anything. Zilch. Bugger all. Not laws of physics. Not virtual particles. Not fields of potentiality. When it is said that "out of nothing, nothing comes", the first "nothing" does not mean the laws of physics, which is something and from which indeed something can come. Renaming the laws of physics (or the proto-laws of phyisics, or the proto-proto-laws of physics, ad infinitum) "nothing" does not get you something from nothing. It rightly gets you called a logical bungler. Modern physicists of the old school (e.g., Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Eddington) would never have made such a dim (or dishonest) mistake. But this is the jazz-age: anything goes.

Deogowulf?

Do the philosophers address "lost causes"?

Mind, I see the, er, reality of ya'll really having a go of it. Neither seems to be achieving much - except perhaps like the situation at Thermopylae before the goatherder guided the Persians to the backdoor.

Perhaps Deogo, you might let go the peanuts and cherry pies and hire yourself somebody who shuffles goats around the countryside.

Then Deogo, you could feint and probe like a wulf in sheep's clothing. D&N is better suited for harebrained stuff, not so much for figuring out "How the I got into this skull."

Popping in quietly and quickly to wish you and your bride a happy anniversary! I must ask who is going to clean up the mess when this debate is over?

The difference apparently is that whilst physicists deal with reality, facts, evidence - philosophers deal in imagined, and impossible, intellectual constructs. Is that meant to denigrate philosophers, no, you make take it so but it is not intended as such.

Nothing was taken to mean no mass, no energy to physicists, as such a 'physical' understanding. Philosophers use the term in a metaphysical sense, the perfect intellectual construct (Not-anything. Zilch. Bugger all). They state 'out of nothing, nothing comes' not in the sense of reality, existence, but as an intellectual exercise (whether such a state does, did, every will, or even could exist).

Everything to a physicist means the entirety of the universe/multiverse (depending on which faction you belong to). To a philosopher even that is insufficiently perfect an intellectual construct (although the sophistry necessary at times is a delight to behold).

To a physicist there is now no room in everything for there to be nothing.

I find it amusing that so much rancour can occur in attacking a hypothesis (supported by experimental evidence) in supposing it supports (or attacks) some metaphysical/theological belief in a supposed Prime Mover when in fact it makes the arguement irrelevant.

As to the "good kicking" I'd suggest that reading the comments on the post would indicate that was not quite what happened.

Mr Duff,

“‘Everything’ is everything, no exceptions, no cop-outs, no absentees - everything.”

Indeed so. But one should not assume what is to be proven (which would be begging the question). It seems, however, that you are assuming that everything that exists is everything that comes, has come, or will come into existence (time is not important in this respect), which is to assume what is to be proven, and which is also why you are having trouble seeing the distinction. By importing this extensional assumption into the intensional meanings of the statements, you have falsely made:

(1) Everything that comes (has come, will come) into existence

intensionally equivalent in your mind to:

(2) Everything that exists.

Now, whilst these statements clearly differ in intension (i.e., connotative meaning; see remarks above), they may or may not differ in extension; in other words, you may be right in believing that everything that exists is everything that comes, has come, or will come into existence, although you are not rationally-empirically justified in assuming it – it goes beyond the warrant of experience. The cosmological argument, however, does not make this mistake. It does not import an assumption of extensional equivalence. It does not assume that everything that exists is everything that comes, has come, or will come into existence. It merely takes as a starting-point that everything that comes, has come, or will come into existence has a cause, a reason, or an explanation for its existence.

(The argument is better stated in terms of causal dependency and contingency, so that there is no confusion over time or any assumption of a universe with a temporal beginning, but we’ll let that pass.)

The objects you bump into every day are objects that have come into existence (or better stated: are contingent). You have never bumped into a necessary being, that is to say, a being which, if it exists, cannot not-exist. Such a being, if it exists, which is not to be assumed but to be proven, would be something that exists but which has not come into existence, i.e., an eternally self-existent being, and hence:

(1) Everything that comes (has come, will come) into existence has a cause, a reason, or an explanation for its existence

would differ in extension and not just in intension to:

(2) Everything that exists has a cause, a reason, or an explanation for its existence.

JK,

Yes, sorry. Enough is enough.

Oops. Thankee kindly Able. Both for pointing DD to the correct answer to what I was attempting to get at with my first comment and then secondly, to this:

"...whilst physicists deal with reality, facts, evidence - philosophers deal in imagined, and impossible, intellectual constructs..."

Belay the less than adequate descriptive Deogowulf, make that, "I see the, er, reality" rather, I see the impossible reality.

The suggestion to hire a goat-herder stands.

Thank you for your good wishes, Miss Red, but, um, I rather thought *you* might be able to pop in and hoover up the bits and pieces of shredded arguments when we are finished - wearing your nice maid's uniform, natch!

David, http://missredmuses.blogspot.com/2012/10/some-debates-just-leave-mess.html

Rather like a drowning man, Deog, I seize with a half sob of relief the flotsom of one sentence bobbing on the ocean of words:

"It [the cosmological argument] merely takes as a starting-point that everything that comes, has come, or will come into existence has a cause, a reason, or an explanation for its existence."

99.99% AGREED! Let's not quibble over "reason" which some nit-pickers (who? us? never!) might think indicates purpose. And, I hold back a teensy-weensy escape clause (well, I was once a second-hand car dealer) because the proposition that nothing was ever created "in the beginning" because everything that exists now has always existed and will continue to exist, ad infinitum (and that's the limit of my Latin!) backwards and forwards in time still has its attractions.

So, for the sake of moving the conversation on I am going to ignore your other sentence:

"the word “everything” by itself does not connote every physical thing"

because the peanut that is my brain starts throbbing every time I read it!

Instead, let me accept the proposition you put forward that everything has a cause and move on to the next question or three: who? what? why? By which I mean, who or what was the first 'causer' in your opinion, and is there any discernible, underlying reason for it all? I realise that there can be no proof but are there any respectable theories that are worth more than five minutes thought?

Dear Miss Red, simply too, too delicious, you may start first thing tomorrow and don't bother about references!

DD?

While I can only be, "fairly certain" I think perhaps Deogowulf grasped the terms of my particular offerred truce.

Now for you, I'd think "the fog of war" might be appropriate. Myself as well, generally speaking.

Thermopylae - where two great forces clashed, the lesser being the more effective, the greater being the less effective.

Until the intervention of the very apparently least - yet also, very apparently mightiest of all - a sole goat-herder decided the ultimate outcome.

Of course that leaves open what could have possibly motivated the s/he to let loose the inevitable chaos.

Are you offering yoru services as a goat-herder, JK?

"let me accept the proposition you put forward that everything has a cause"

I give up, Mr Duff.

"Are you offering yoru services as a goat-herder, JK?

Posted by: David Duff | Thursday, 04 October 2012 at 20:23"

Well David, I know you are able to correct the spellings in your posts and (presumably) correct any other errors you might post, ... well, I suppose "Yoru Services" whether originating from Frau Merkel or ... well yourself for instance, leaving my own mis-spellings intact or dare I say, exaggerated I suppose you might be able to say so.

Whether DD you are able to [?]correct comments I dunno, but you typing responses to me in "Yoru" suggests you're more involved with Frau Merkel than I'd otherwise believed.

I will, David readily admit to my expressing wishes to emigrate to the UK so I can train for Mr. Romney's plan to energize the US economy by becoming a goat-herder in England.

Flip side of the coin - I will not accept your offer to contribute to America's diversity inequities by your offer David Duff - to, er, come within America's sheep population.

Me, too, Deog. As this conversation has gone on it has become clear to me that we are speaking different languages, English and über-English. There was a perceptive comment left above by someone - Able, I think - to the effect that logic can only be expressed in a watertight way by using the language of mathematics. It is, I suppose, a sign of the difference between mathematics and English that Russell wasted several dense pages proving that one is one! (Although, no doubt, someone else has since come along to prove that it isn't!)

I'm sorry that I was not a very good pupil but nevertheless I am grateful for your instruction and I have enjoyed the conversation immensely even if I did wince once or twice. DM frequently gives me 50 or even 100 lines for my errors, I suppose you being a philosopher it will be an infinity of lines from you!

Also my thanks to everyone else who contributed to the conversation. Alas, we never actually reached a conclusion but, hey, this is philosophy, right? And when did any of them ever agree on the time of day?

I'm in a Huff!

I sat around for hours waiting, in the hope of catching a glimpse of Miss Red in her fetching and revealing (Gulp!) attire attending to the detritus as promised- all to no avail.

I'm devastated, distraught I tell you!

;-(

Man up, Able, she will return - she promised!

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