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Logic and Theism Notes: V-VII


Before getting on with these matters, there is to be considered briefly a popular argument against infinite regresses of generating-causes that Aquinas knows how to deflate (2603).

Note: Answer to argument vs. actual infinite.

Aquinas suggests that, for openers, the question, “If there have been infinitely many previous days, how did the world get to this day’?” should be met with the question, “Get to this day from when?”  (2609)

Hilbert’s Hotel is Galileo’s Paradox In concrete.’ Contrary to William Craig, it does not show how “a basic exposition of the Cantorian system … [can] make … obvious that it is impossible for an actual infinite to exist in reality” (op. cit., p. 72). Difficulties with the hotel are practical and physical. Where could it be(2696)?

[T]hc possibility of a plurality of first members has not been ruled out” (Edwards 1967, p. 106) (2784).

We should want to know more about this first cause of all sensible things before we were prepared to give it the name `God.’ What if it were not a `being’ but an unconscious something, say an infinitely small, infinitely potent, something that simply exploded eventually into all sensible things? No one would give it the name of God (2786).

In saying that there is exactly one first cause in that sense, (8b) may not be saying that this one is now (2791).

(i) there are no good reasons for thinking that infinite regresses of efficient generating causes are impossible; (ii) even if one could demonstrate that there has been for things that have generating causes, unique first generating causes, there are no obvious reasons why each should have had the same first generating cause as every other; and (iii) even if that were well-established, there are no obvious reasons why this unique first generating cause of sensible things should still exist (2807).

First sustaining-cause arguments are `nonstarters.’ The most serious problems with first-cause arguments, for example, generating-cause and moving-cause arguments, are (i) the apparent possibility that first generating and moving causes should no longer exist and (ii) the apparent possibility, conceded by Aquinas and believed in by many, of infinite regresses of generating and moving causes (2890).

A sufficient reason would he a reason ‘with which to stop’. A sufficient reason would not be sufficient merely in the ordinary sense of good enough for purposes at hand. Nor would it explain merely by making probable as do citations of natural causes. A sufficient reason would not merely incline to, but would necessitate, what it would explain; it would, when it was a reason for a proposition, be a deductive reason that entailed it (3083).

Note: Does this undercut The BCNT chapter on Leibniz argument?

6.1 Our Leibnizian argument’s premises are not consistent! The main point for this criticism is that `sufficient reasons’ would be demonstrations, valid deductive arguments from necessarily true premises (3183).

Note: This sounds like Poidevin’s argument.

“the theory of probability [including centrally forms of Bayes’s Theorem] is really only common sense reduced to calculus” (Laplace 1917, p. 196) (3583).

2.2.1 Total evidence. It is important, when assessing an explanation, that one consider not merely the facts to which it is first addressed, but all available facts that are relevant to its explanatory goodness (3618).

Note: First factor bearing weight in best explanations.

Alternative hypotheses. What Cleanthes needs to say is not merely that the Religious Hypothesis explains facts assembled, including facts that trouble it, but that it is the best explanation for them (3624).

Note: 2nd factor

Imagined predictive powers and intrinsic plausibilities. When assessing the Religious Hypothesis, when determining how good an explanation it is of assembled facts, after lining up available competitors, it can help to factor its and their prowesses as explanations of these facts (3626).

Note: 3rd factor

Second, a possible explanation of certain facts is more or less good depending on what would have been its predictive power for them, which is to say their likelihood supposing it, at a time when we were ignorant of them (3630).

Note: 4th factor

of an explanation that is relevant to the support that evidence it explains affords is a function only of its intrinsic plausibility and its would-have-had predictive power for that evidence. (3773).

Other designer-theories. These differ from Cleanthes’ with respect either to the character or methods of his designer (3843).

Note: Six other designer hypotheses.

Nondesigner analogical theories take off from the fact on which proponents of design-hypotheses insist, that it is not only artifacts and products of intelligence that display all the appearances of deliberately intended and imposed order, but, most prominently, also animals and plants (3848).

The negative conclusion of the Dialogues. Both in terms of would-have-had predictive power and in terms of inherent plausibility, Hume was convinced that the Religious Hypothesis fared worse than many of its competitors, and not better than any (3892).

Would-have-had predictive powers. The question here for the Religious Hypothesis: “Is the world considered in general and as it appears to us in this life, [as] a man … would, beforehand, expect from a very powerful, wise, and benevolent Deity?” (Part 11, p. 163). “Indeed not!” is the gist of Hume’s answer. The world as we find it is most certainly not what one would expect beforehand on that hypothesis, not when one takes into account the extent of apparently unnecessary evil in the world (3894).

This One would be an incorporeal being, a mind only, and we have no uncontentious experience of such beings: “No man, Epicurus used to say, has ever seen reason but in human figure” (Part 5, p. 131); “that body and mind ought always to accompany each other … is founded on vulgar experience” (3912).

Note: Intrinsic probability of God designer.

“In all instances which we have ever seen, thought has no influence upon matter, except where that matter is so conjoined with it, as to have an equal reciprocal influence upon it. No animal can move immediately any thing but the members of its own body…. [Y]our theory implies a contradiction of this experience” (3914).

Cleanthes’ designer hypothesis, indeed every designer hypothesis, not only departs in several ways from all of which we have experience, but contradicts exceptionless principles of experience and in several ways challenges comprehension (3925).

Hume wrote Philo’s last words in 1776. Given the facts and theories then known and available for consideration, an amoral intelligence or intelligences somehow responsible for appearances of design in nature seemed to him to be the best of a poor lot of possible explanations of these appearances, and believable. Hume was judicious, and reasonable, in his reluctant conclusion (4069).

Today, however, there are `new facts’ and new theories to be taken into account, and a very different conclusion seems to be in order (4071).

the study of embryos reveals that sometimes, in some ways, ‘ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,’ that is, the prenatal development of individuals recapitulates the evolution through cons of their species (4084).

Note: Myth?

Van Inwagen implies that adding a designer to evolutionary theory might help, and make for a better theory at these junctures. I think that that addition would, by most persons, be found to have just the opposite effect (4118).

INHERENT POSSIBILITIES. Considered apart and in itself, (E + D) cannot be more probable than E. (E + D), this ‘integration’ of E and D, is a conjunction, though not merely of E and D: (4124).

Would-have-had predictive powers. It seems clear that the involvement of D in (E + D), whatever within broad limits its details, will detract from the would-have-had predictive power of E (4144).

The problem here is not with how the designer of D would work its will on the processes of E, but with why it would do that (4146).

Why, in order to make live organisms of present orders of complexity, choose a way that involves organisms eating and being eaten by other organisms, and a way in which the monumental struggles of most kinds, if not all kinds, are rewarded eventually with extinction? Why not, instead of cannibals and doomed species, make self-sufficient and mutually supportive organisms? (4149).

The difficulty of these and other questions of motivation detracts from the would-have-had predictive power of (E + D) for evidence that is particularly supportive of E, and of [E & -(E + D)] (4152).

There is not only a problem with the how of this ‘tweaking’ of the constants, but, before getting to that, a problem with the what of this, ‘on the ground’ (4212).

That makes for me a case to van Inwagen’s general claim that, “[a]s far as our present knowledge goes (aside from any divine revelation that certain individuals or groups may be privy to) we have to regard the following two hypotheses as equally probable: • This is the only cosmos, and some rational being has (or rational beings have) fine-tuned it in such a way that it is a suitable abode for life. • “[MU] This is only one among a vast number of cosmoi, some few of which are suitable abodes for life” (van Inwagen 1994, p. 145). These hypotheses seem to me to be to be equally probable, but to this I add that they are both in my view very improbable (4223).

Voila!! Tuning for black holes that is incidentally sufficient for stars, and so for life. What a nice theory! It at least matches tuner theories in terms of predictive/explanatory powers for as if fine-tuned-for-life parameters, and it bests them without contest in terms of intrinsic plausibilities, free as it is of why’s and of the especially difficult how’s, that plague them (4269).

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