There are no good arguments to show reality is more likely impersonal in its metaphysics than Personal....

  • Based on the logical law of excluded middle there are only two options as to what the metaphysical ontology of reality could be; that being the ontology of the metaphysics of reality is either Personal or Impersonal....

    So the two options in more detail are:

    (1) Reality in it's metaphysics (fundamental forces and processes) is impersonal: that is to say it is intentionless, purposeless, meaningless, unguided, unaware and lacks teleology.

    (2) Reality in its metaphysics (fundamental forces and processes) is personal: that is to say it is intentional, purposeful, meaningful, guided, aware and has teleology.

    Now position (2) would normally be classed under Theism and thus atheism being the absence of Theism (that is what the "A" means in Atheism, just like Asymmetrical means the absence of symmetry on a specific aspect of reality) would fall under position (1).

    Now if a person says either position is more likely than the other to be true, they have a burden of proof.

    Now I have never really seen any good positive arguments for position (1) from any atheists (both from academic or laymen - there are only a handful of positive classical atheist arguments which are all weak). The best I have seen atheists try to do is knock down any arguments for position (2). But even if they did that successfully and knocked down every argument for position (2) they have only reached a likely hood of either position being true on a 50/50 basis (but most just seem to assume position (1) with no positive justification after attempting that).

    Imagine a debate on the number of stars; We have Evenstarists and Oddstarists. Now lets say the Evenstarists make a terrible argument that looks like this:

    (Mock Evenstarist argument)

    P1: My mother is a great counter.

    P2: My mother counted the stars by the naked eye last night and the number was even.

    Conclusion: The number of stars is even.

    Now the Oddstarist might show premise (2) to be objectionable because you can not see all the stars in the universe especially with the naked eye, thus the argument fails.

    Does that now mean Oddstarism is true? Of course not, to then assume Oddstarism is true would be a fallacious position (the Oddstarist by knocking down the argument for Evenstarism has only reached an agnostic position of a 50/50 likely hood of either position being true) until positive arguments are presented for Oddstarism. So people who support position (1) not only have to knock down all the arguments for position (2) but then in there place erect their own arguments (which hold up) until they can then claim position (1) is more likely than position (2).

    So on that note, does any one actually know of any good deductive arguments for position (1 - atheism), (as there are plenty of powerful arguments for position 2 above)?

    If so can you type down the best deductive argument you know for position (1) - (please make sure it is in deductive form though, so just put down the premises for your argument and then if you like you can expound each premise in a description below - oh and no links either please).

    God bless



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  • "So people who support position (1) not only have to knock down all the arguments for position (2) but then in there place erect their own arguments (which hold up) until they can then claim position (1) is more likely than position (2)."

    This here is the error in your argument, so are you saying that a person who asserts that reality is impersonal can only do so by "disproving" all possible assertions which claim the universe has a purpose? This would essentially entail disproving all religions, and even claims which are not religious like, but still assert a metaphysical being created the universe. So some person can come along and assert the universe is created by some alien and you are now saying a realist must disprove it?

    That seems rather odd, as you are saying in order for an individual to believe a prop 1 they must disprove prop 2 in all it's forms. You say they are 50/50 but you have just unconsciously given prop 2 priority for no reason other then it holds up the position you seem to take. If one makes a claim one must support that claim, so if one says that reality is impersonal they have to establish that through evidence and science. If one says reality is personal and goal directed the same rules apply, you do not get to set up prop 2 as suddenly above prop 1 by saying that must be disproven first.

    This whole piece of logic sorry to say is nothing but an obfuscation which tries to hide the fact you're placing prop 2 in a position where it carries no burden of proof.



    Updated 27 months ago by the author.
  • @Kate...

    Thanks for your response.

    I feel that you have missed my point somewhat, I do agree position (2) requires a burden of proof from a person who claims it is more likely true than (1). But it is also the case if a person says (1) is more likely than (2) they have a burden of proof too :)

    I am asking only people who claim (1) is more likely true than (2), what their best argument is for this (otherwise they have no rational justification to believe this and should admit based on what they know it is a 50/50).

    God bless

  • @Kate...

    Now I have a bit more time I would like to respond to some other points you made which I feel shows you are not grasping the logic behind the situation.

    You said:

    //////////

    This here is the error in your argument, so are you saying that a person who asserts that reality is impersonal can only do so by "disproving" all possible assertions which claim the universe has a purpose? This would essentially entail disproving all religions,

    //////////

    You are missing a distinction here, you would not need to disprove every religion particularly.

    There is the belief the metaphysics of reality are personal, then there is the belief about what type of personality that is (this is the religion position).

    The second part hinges on the first part, so if you disprove the first part you by definition disprove all beliefs of the second part which rest on it.

    For example, there are two claims below:

    (A) The universe is Symmetrical

    (B) The universe is Asymmetrical

    Now if any one claims one is more likely true than the other, they have a burden of proof as they are making a postive knowledge claim.

    Now it might be the case many people hold secondary beliefs which hinge on (A), like: The universe is a square, or it is a circle, or it is a rectangle etc...

    Now a person who adheres to (B) does not need to prove each shape false from the above list, they just have to show what it is they know about the universe which makes it Asymmetrical, and by doing that they disprove all symmetrical shape claims which are built on (A).

    God bless

  • @Yochanan

    "Now a person who adheres to (B) does not need to prove each shape false from the above list, they just have to show what it is they know about the universe which makes it Asymmetrical, and by doing that they disprove all symmetrical shape claims which are built on (A)."

    And I am saying that is not how this works, that is a false dichotomy. You assert a connection between the two claims that simply is not there. The real world is far muddier then what you are implying here, they both make claims, they both seek to provide evidence. This is not a mathematical proposition we are talking about here, the supporting of one does not cut out the other and vice versa. What we are dealing with is degrees, not absolutes, it is the degree and quality of the evidence and arguments which matter here.

    My argument is that the claim that the universe is impersonal is far stronger then the other. For example the laws of physics as we understand them depend on the assumption that the universe is impersonal and consistent. Physics predicts all sorts of things in the universe like planetary orbits, supernova, and cannon ball ballistics. I would say physics success is a good start towards showing the universe is consistent and impersonal; I would also say every day we experience consistency is a notch towards a greater statistical likelyhood that the laws of the universe is not at the whim of any metaphysical being. Where as the other claim seems to only have assertions which muddy a meaning they wish to find with objects and situations in the everyday world; a dangerous subjective exercise to say the least.

  • @Kate...

    I am not stating which type of evidence is required, but you have to have any type of evidence to form an argument as to why one claim is more likely than the other.

    So if it was the case that we were epsitemically limited and could not possibly acquire evidence for Theism or atheism then that would just lead to hard agnosticism (the position that we don't know which position is more likely and we could never know which is more likely).

    But it is the case that if atheism is true everything is evidence for atheism; and if Theism is true everything is evidence for Theism; the issue is articulating why we think certain aspects of reality reflect either to be more true than the other.

    OK addressing your argument, you said:

    " For example the laws of physics as we understand them depend on the assumption that the universe is impersonal and consistent"

    -

    I would say to approach science from a criteria of methodological naturalism, yes we would have to assume the uniformity of nature (not necessarily that that physics is impersonal).

    But I do not see why physics being uniform proves there is no meaning behind the laws of physics (If I for example programmed a system on my P.C. the system is entirely uniform but that does not at all show whether the code is from an intelligent or non-intelligent source).

    Also you are only focusing on this as if Newtonian physics were the true picture, but at a quantum level there are causation's which are of a totally different type (and they underpin everything we know physically).

    So could put your argument in deductive form for me as to how a conclusion forms from some premises (that way I can review the premises); otherwise I could just assert the laws being uniform point to a Personal metaphysics (as I am not giving any more reason why that is the case, I am just asserting it with out any type of syllogistic reasoning).

    God bless

  • @Yochanan

    I would say to approach science from a criteria of methodological naturalism, yes we would have to assume the uniformity of nature (not necessarily that that physics is impersonal).

    But I do not see why physics being uniform proves there is no meaning behind the laws of physics (If I for example programmed a system on my P.C. the system is entirely uniform but that does not at all show whether the code is from an intelligent or non-intelligent source).

    If this is the case why assert it at all? if we have a metaphysical being that created the rules but does nothing to influence them, why make the assertion that it was there to begin with? Seems to me this creates a unnecessary addition which is not connected to the reality we experience and therefore not subject to evidence.

    But it is the case that if atheism is true everything is evidence for atheism

    You are going after a straw man here regarding atheism, if you look at what atheism is it is "without god" not "there is no god" there is a big difference. Granted there are atheist who assert the latter I am not one of them. I do not assert the nonexistence of anything, I just don't assume it's existence. Meaning when someone comes along and makes a metaphysical claim for god I will challenge them, but I do not go around trying to prove atheism, I don't need to. Again you are ignoring some very complicated areas in assertions like this.

  • @Kate...

    I am not worried about what was formally known as agnosticism (people who hold either as likely true), just those that hold one is more likely true (that is why I asked for an argument).

    OK you said:

    //////////

    If this is the case why assert it at all? if we have a metaphysical being that created the rules but does nothing to influence them, why make the assertion that it was there to begin with? Seems to me this creates a unnecessary addition which is not connected to the reality we experience and therefore not subject to evidence.

    //////////

    OK, but the person who claims they are impersonal is making an unnecessary addition also; what we do agree on is they are at least generally uniform.

    Now there are two ways to view this, viewing reality from the Newtonian picture and viewing reality from the quantum picture.

    Firstly lets view it through the Newtonian picture: OK lets say that a intentional causation is non-uniform (that is one identity to it at least for arguments sake) and that physics is always uniform, this would show us two things:

    (a) If physical laws have purpose and intent behind them, that intent and purpose would have to be front loaded (it it is not a direct and dynamic intentional force).

    (b) and also people have an ontology which is more fundamental than the laws of physics (so conscious intentionalality is more foundational than the material world, because the laws of pshyics don't affect it, but rather it affects them) and thus by definition is immaterial. So I think this would lead to an argument for God, because there must be some metaphysically fundamental intentional force (as physics is not more fundamental), but this is a side note.

    Now lets view this situation through the picture of quantum physics: Quantum physicists now are heading towards the belief that our minds (not our brains) function in our brains on a quantum level. Now Quantum mechanics is not a uniform model, which opens up the room for an intentional force which is not uniform. But if that is the case we have to remember that all of reality is built on quantum mechanics, so a personal metaphysics could be steering all of reality and shaping it as a Dynamic will at the quantum level (in a similar way as we move and interact in the world through our brains, God could be doing this through all of reality).

    **********

    Here are some links you might find interesting:

    >>>Is Science the Only Sure Path to Truth<<<

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s66gPYl4lqs

    >>>Do the Laws of Nature Exclude Miracles?<<<

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L63NEWRxUuY

    >>>Alvin Plantinga: Divine Action<<<

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5DPneR-Rtc

    **********

    Here is a quick summary of an argument for why the metaphysics of reality are personal based on the fine tuning of the universe:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpIiIaC4kRA

    Here is a longer presentation:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtupHkRKimc

    Here is an argument I wrote from my FB page, it is based on morality (if you respond to this argument please do it on this forum rather than the note it's self):

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/atheist-answers/argument-for-god-from-the-existence-of-morality/1567186243502719

    I run a FB page called Atheist Answers, please feel free to check it out (but also please read the rules before commenting on any posts, they are found in the descriptions section):

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Atheist-Answers/1400753406812671

    God bless

  • P.S. I made some mistakes in my last post and edited it, maybe it reads differently to what you first read it as now :)

  • "OK, but the person who claims they are impersonal is making an unnecessary addition also; what we do agree on is they are at least generally uniform."

    I don't see how, physics just is, it assumes things stay consistent and are not subject to sudden changes, how is making them impersonal asserting anything? if they are not subject to how I feel or how anyone feels regarding them, if it is assumed it is not subject to changes by a metaphysical being that is just stating the facts. If physics is consistent across time, not dependent on how I feel about it, and is not subject to sudden changes by a metaphysical being then they are by definition "impersonal." it is not adding anything at all.. The only thing that is an addition is saying that these impersonal rules have a metaphysical being who created them but does not change them, meaning we can't see it. Show me how calling the laws of physics impersonal is an addition to anything.

    "(b) and also people have an ontology which is more fundamental than the laws of physics"

    Really and why do stars have life spans greater then the human species? The universe does not spring into existence when people suddenly do. That is the nature of physics is assumes it is consistent across time, that means that stellar physics is has been the same from 3.1 billion years ago to now. It does not matter if people are around to see it, it is still there burning their protons, doesn't matter what we use to describe them the predictable rules still happen. It would happen if we described it in base 12 math and it happens when we describe it in base 10 math.

    Now lets view this situation through the picture of quantum physics: Quantum physicists now are heading towards the belief that our minds (not our brains) function in our brains on a quantum level.

    Quantum mechanics operates on scales that are small in system which are constrained, do you know that given all the interference which scales upward when we start talking about QM at levels of the human brain? and to even attempt to say that QM has anything to do with our minds is a whole slew of assertions which needs serious backing up. At a certain level QM becomes classical mechanics, QM mechanics is not how the universe works on all scales, I cannot walk trough walls so obviously things like superposition and what not are not relevant at the scales of people. Much the same way Classical mechanics works on our scale but we need Relativity on bigger scales.

    I am not reading any of those links as you were so kind at the start of this thread to say you were going to give the same courtesy.

  • @Kate...

    Addressing your first point...

    We all agree the laws of physics are uniform, but that is different to saying "the laws of physics are uniform and impersonal". It is just as much an addition to say "the laws of physics are uniform and impersonal" as it is to say "the laws of physics are uniform and personal".

    You are making uniform synonymous with impersonal.

    Now if you want to make an argument why uniformity infers that it is more likely a force which is impersonal (which you did), that is fine (but I addressed your reasons and I did not find them to hold much weight).

    You said:

    //////////

    Really and why do stars have life spans greater then the human species? The universe does not spring into existence when people suddenly do. That is the nature of physics is assumes it is consistent across time, that means that stellar physics is has been the same from 3.1 billion years ago to now. It does not matter if people are around to see it, it is still there burning their protons, doesn't matter what we use to describe them the predictable rules still happen. It would happen if we described it in base 12 math and it happens in base 10 math.

    ////////

    Firstly this a red herring point. Your point makes no difference to my argument, the age of a star makes no difference on the ontological aetiology of a intentional will.

    Also your idea of the universe being here with no consciousness to see it is heavily disputed in quantum physics (which points strongly to Idealism).

    Here is a short video explaining the double slit experiment (which is one example):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwXQjRBLwsQ

    You said:

    //////////

    I cannot walk trough walls so obviously things like superposition and what not are not relevant at the scales of people.

    //////////

    Actually it is true that larger things like tennis balls are much less likely to go through walls (based on the uncertainty principle) than particles (but not never go through walls), but given enough trials there could be a time when every particle in a tennis ball acts the same and sends it through a wall (in the same way a particle would act, you just need all the particles to act the same at the same time which makes larger things much less likely to act like particles at the atomic level).

    So to cut a long story short you have not given me any good reasons why a uniform physics (even though they are not ultimately uniform) points to it having a impersonal metaphysics over a personal one (if you disagree could you actually write your argument in deductive form, so I have a line of syllogistic reasoning). Thus ultimately what we have here is still a lack of any argument for an impersonal metaphysics (but I have provided two above for a personal metaphysics - but even if you destroyed both these arguments I have above, you still have only reached a 50/50 likely hood until you provided positive argument for the impersonal position).

    God bless

  • Physics is not personal, it is by it's very nature not dependent on how an individual feels about it. The nature of calling something personal is to say that it is at the whim of an individual or subjective perspectives. I would be very hard pressed to say physics changed from person to person. So yes physics is uniform, but it is also not personal, I don't see how anyone can argue that it is.

    My argument is simple, physics is uniform, but also since it does not depend on the personal feelings or situations it is impersonal. If physics describes the universe consistently makes accurate predictions then we can assume that it is describing the universe as accurately as possible for us humans. If the universe was at the whim of a metaphysical being what would we expect to see? the rules would not necessarily be uniform as this metaphysical being could change them to sit it's needs we could also assume that people Could change the rules of physics based on individual circumstance as allowed by this being, meaning physics becomes personal.

    Everyday we experience a world which is uniform and the reality of the world we live in does not radically change suddenly. I could be really tongue and cheek and say if it did there would be a lot more people throwing themselves of buildings to test their faith in god to catch them. Furthermore we have continuity of history and geology, that speaks to this uniformity. There are converging streams of evidence which point directly to both continuity and uniformity over time and a lot of this evidence says that the world existed before people did. And if the rules of the universe were at the whim of a metaphysical being this continuity and uniformity seems suspect.

    As for the observer paradox, it all comes down to what you call an observer no? You seem to make that assumption that the consciousness creates the collapse of the wave function, when in reality it is the instrument doing the measurement which does the collapsing to quote Wikipedia;

    "In science, the term observer effect refers to changes that the act of observation will make on a phenomenon being observed. This is often the result of instruments that, by necessity, alter the state of what they measure in some manner. A commonplace example is checking the pressure in an automobile tire; this is difficult to do without letting out some of the air, thus changing the pressure."

    "makes no difference on the ontological aetiology of a intentional will."

    As for this what do you even mean to say by this? I know what each of these words mean and for the life of me this sentence is saying nothing. If you want say something say it, don't feed me lines of pseudo intellectual gibberish. My point about the star was to show the evidence we have that things obey physical constrains even when people are not around; such as the evolution and death of stars; which gives greater strength to the impersonal nature of physics. Especially when we can observer stars that are millions of years old to confirm the fact they do follow the same rules.

  • @Kate....

    You have said a lot of things that just have such big logical holes in them, are incoherent with each other and which are just based on so many assumptions.

    I can not possibly address points which come out in large paragraphs of rhetoric.

    Can you please write me out your argument in deductive form (with premises and a conclusion, so a line of syllogistic reasoning to follow - you can then put underneath the argument an expounding of each premise if you like), I do not believe in anything you said I can find a coherent line of reasoning (so it makes it impossible to address such a blurb of rhetoric via text - as there is no true premises and conclusion).

    P.S. It has been proven in the 2010 tests done recently that there is no escaping that the observer effects the collapse and not the equipment. Wiki needs serious updating, the Copenhagen interpretation (which is the orthodox view in QM) was proven correct as much as it was attempted to be proven false.