woensdag 19 oktober 2011

A metaphysical principle entailing theism?

Take the following metaphysical principle, connecting logic, knowledge and truth: 'If it is logically impossible to know that p, then p is necessarily false'. This principle seems to be cogent. For, if a given proposition p could be true, then, plausibly, there is a possible world in which some subject knows that p is true. In other words, if in all possible worlds all subjects do not know that some proposition is true, then, plausibly, that is because that very proposition cannot in fact be true.

Well, on a cartesian view of knowledge, that is, to know p is to be certain that p is true, the above principle has an interesting consequence. For, take for p the proposition 'God does not exist'. It seems reasonable to hold that it is impossible to know that God does not exist. For, whatever the arguments against God, there will always be some (perhaps an extremely remote) possibility that God does exist after all, so that we can never truly say, on the cartesian view, that we know that God does not exist. But then it follows that it is necessarily false that God does not exist. Hence, it is necessarily true that God exists.

One might object that it is also impossible to know that God exists. And thus, by similar reasoning, it would follow as well that it is necessarily true that God does not exist. However, I would argue that there is a possible world in which some subject can truly say that he or she knows that God exists. Take a possible word in which God exists and in which there is an afterlife, such that all who enter the afterlife in that world will encounter the divine. In that case, those subjects who enter the afterlife will in fact know that God exists. So, it is not impossible to know that God exists.

Note that a similar move to reject the argument for theism is not open to the atheist. For, if God does not exist, then, plausibly, there is no afterlife. And besides, even if there would be an afterlife, then entering it would not bring a subject in the epistemic condition of knowing that God does not exist.

98 opmerkingen:

Jeremy Fantl zei

I think the first principle is false. (Also, the second premise, but just focusing on the first principle):

Let p be the proposition that no one knows anything. It is logically impossible to know that no one knows anything. But it is not necessarily false that no one knows anything: there are possible worlds in which no one, after all, exists, let alone knows anything.

Let p be the proposition that no cognizers exist. It is logically impossible to know that no cognizers exist. But there are possible worlds in which no cognizers exist.

More substantially, let p be the proposition that there are no unicorns or the proposition that Abraham Lincoln doesn't exist or that Santa Claus doesn't exist or that Shakespeare doesn't exist. As you say, "whatever the arguments against p, there will always be some (perhaps an extremely remote) possibility that [the relevant entity] does exist after all, so that we can never truly say, on the cartesian view, that we know that [the relevant entity] does not exist." So, according to the metaphysical principle, it's necessarily true that there are unicorns, Abraham Lincoln, Santa Claus, and Shakespeare. But this is false. So the metaphysical principle is false, too.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Jeremy,

The principle on which my argument is based is that every proposition that is possibly true is also possibly known. Your counter example to this principle is quite similar to other counter examples that have been suggested on prosblogion. I believe there is an adequate way to avoid them by opting for a slightly different, more realistic, rendering of my argument. For that I need three definitions.

A state of affairs exists within one or more possible worlds. First, let a ‘c-state’ be a state of affairs of one or more concrete particulars, having each zero or more properties, and standing to each other in zero or more relationships. Second, let a ‘c-proposition’ be a proposition that either affirms or denies there being some c-state, such as for example “The car of Peter is blue”, “Eva is a friend of James”, "There are no horses”, "Jim does not know anything”, “Linda knows that snow is white”, “God exists” or “God does not exist”.

Third, let a K-world be a possible world in which at least something is known. Now, only subjects (i.e., agents or persons) can know things, thus a K-world is a world that contains one or more subjects. And, vice versa, a world that contains at least one subject is also a K-world. For, every subject knows at least that he or she exists. Beside, according to the negative introspection axiom of S5 epistemic modal logic, if a subject S does not know p, then S knows that S does not know p. So, indeed, every subject knows at least something.

Given these definitions, my principle can be alternatively rendered in the following way: ‘If p is a c-proposition that is true in at least one K-world, then there is a world in which p is known’. I would say that this principle is quite similar to the original one, except that it is more modest. For, it only applies to c-propositions, and its antecedent now also requires that there must be a K-world in which p is true. Moreover, it seems more realistic than the original rendering. For the proposition p in the antecedent is quite basic in the sense that it is about concrete particulars. Besides, p is already required to be true in at least one world that contains one or more subjects that know things. So, in a sense, p is “closer to” the possibility of there being a subject that knows p.

Well, the aforementioned counterexamples, including yours, do not apply to my alternative rendering of the principle. For, to limit myself to your counter examples, the propositions "no one knows anything" and "no cognizers exist" cannot be true in a K-world.

Now, let p be the c-proposition that God does not exist. As argued before there is no world in which p is known. Hence it follows that there is no K-world in which p is true. Therefore God exists in all K-worlds, including ours.

Note that the proposed alternative rendering of the principle comes with a price. It now no longer follows that God is a necessary being. After all, for all we know there might be one or more non-K-worlds, and in those worlds God (being a subject) does not exist. But still, it follows that God exists in all K-worlds, and thus also in our world.

And, moreover, we could opt for an even weaker version of the principle. Let us consider the world that we actually inhabit. Now, we might only hold as a principle that at least everything that is true of our world is possibly knowable. That is, for every truth of our world there is some possible world within which there is a subject that knows that truth. But then, by parallel reasoning, it follows that God exists in our world, either necessarily or as a brute fact.

(continued...)

Emanuel Rutten zei

(continued...)

Now, regarding your second objection, let us take the proposition that there are no unicorns. Take a possible world in which (i) space-time is relatively limited in extend, and (ii) physics and technology are extremely advanced. In this world it might be the case that intelligent agents are able to scan the whole of space-time for specific objects. In that world one would then be able to establish that there are no unicorns. Or, alternatively, suppose the agents in question are able to establish that the planet they live on is the only location in space-time that allows for intelligent life. Let us further suppose that their physics and technology are so advanced that they are able to scan their entire planet for there being unicorns. In that case they would be able to know that there are no unicorns.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Matthew C. Baldwin zei

Unicorns are in a different category than God (i.e. observable entities). Your initial proposition sounds plausible to most only because, as theists and atheists agree, in harmony with the gospel of John, "no one has ever seen God."

The Gospel of John sketches a possible world in which a revealer figure "has made [God] known." But to claim that therefore it is possible to know that God exists and ergo he exists is just Anselm all over again.

There are possible worlds in which Odin Thor and the Gods of Valhalla are known to exist (fictional worlds) and in every other religious system of mankind, the invisible Gods, are affirmed as having their essential being in a mode that is beyond limited human perception; they cannot be known not to exist. Therefore all the Gods exist. All of them.

The fallacy here is what I would call the fallacy of fiction; everything fictional exists. Akhileus exists, and his conversation with Athena is real... in the pages of the Illiad.

Aaron zei

The argument doesn't quite work in a couple of different ways.

Firstly, and less importantly, it isn't a reasonable assumption that God cannot be known to not exist. In much the same way that a square triangle can be known to not exist, if God is a logical impossibility, then it can be known God does not exist.

Secondly, and much more importantly, the entire argument rests on the assumption that there is a possible world in which can be known to exist:

"Take a possible word in which God exists and in which there is an afterlife, such that all who enter the afterlife in that world will encounter the divine. In that case, those subjects who enter the afterlife will in fact know that God exists. So, it is not impossible to know that God exists."

However, if God actually does not exist, then there is no such possible world. If God does not exist, there is no world where it can be known that God exists.

The entire argument seems to come down to the statement that 'if God exists, then God exists" which is hardly revelatory.

Anoniem zei

Can't this argument with slight modification be run by the atheist, too. That is, can't the atheist argue thusly:

Take the proposition 'God exists'. It seems reasonable to hold that it is impossible to know that God exists. For, whatever the arguments for God, there will always be some (perhaps an extremely remote) possibility that God does not exist after all, so that we can never truly say, on the cartesian view, that we know that God exists. But then it follows that it is necessarily false that God exists. Hence, it is necessarily true that God does not exist.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Matthew,

Let me define God as being an uncaused concrete particular that is the direct or indirect originating cause of all other concrete particulars. Note that from this definition it follows that there can be at most one God. For, if G1 and G2 are both Gods, it follows that G1 is the direct or indirect originating cause of G2, which is impossible since G2 is uncaused. Now, the first alternative rendering of my argument establishes that God exists in all K-worlds. But then there is only one God in those K-worlds.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Aaron,

You object that the concept of God might be logically self-contradictory (i.e., contradictory in all possible worlds if we, plausibly, take it that the fundamental laws of logic are true of all possible worlds). I believe that this objection is not convincing. Consider for example the following conception of God: ‘An immaterial uncaused person that is the direct or indirect originating cause of all other concrete particulars’. This definition, I would argue, is logically consistent. And there are many similar examples. So, there is a possible world in which God exists. Hence, in order for your objection to have force you would at least have to suggest some sketch of a proof that the concept of God is logically contradictory.

Further, you write: "However, if God actually does not exist, then there is no [possible world in which God exists]. If God does not exist, there is no world where it can be known that God exists". These claims are both incorrect. My argument does not rely on the claim that God is by definition a necessary being. So, even if God does not exist in the actual world, then still, since the existence of God is logically possible, there is another possible world in which God exists.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear 'Anoniem',

Your slight modification fails since there exists in fact a possible world in which it is known that God exists. For, as argued above (see my response to Aaron) the existence of God is logically possible, that is, there is a possible world, say W, in which God exists. Now in W is it known that God exists. After all, in W God knows that God exists!

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Matthew C. Baldwin zei

Your final comment, Emanuel, is revelatory. Your argument is a species of the Cartesian cogito argument, "God thinks therefore God is." The one being certain to know of God's existence is God. So you are saying that God exists because (in some possible world) God knows that God exists. In some possible world this is so if God's self knowledge is entirely inscrutable to us.

Yet I think that, in another possible world, God does not exist at all and nobody knows for certain that he does not exist, yet he still doesn't.


Incidentally, it is only in the monotheistic tradition of Israelite/Jewish/Christian/Islamic thought that a being called a God has the attribute of being "uncaused." Your original argument doesn't seem to rely on positing a definition to God.

And doesn't the logic of your original argument permit us to exclude any number of potential attributes of the deity?

Here we go.

"If it is impossible to know that P, then P is false."

I'd like to see this tried out with P = "God is uncreated" "God is not Zeus" "God is Ares" "God is strife" "God is chaos" "God is eternal" "God is the originating cause of other beings" "God is omniscient" "God knows all truths" "God is a person" "God is YHWH" "Jesus Christ is God" "God is wise" "God has knowledge" "God is a female" "God is one" "God is three in one" "God has feet" "God is alone" "God is evil" "God is good" "God is darkness" "God is light" "God created angels and gods" "God is love" "God hates fags"... how are these different than the equivalent attributes "has existence" or "exists" or "is real"?

Presumably some of these P's would have merit in your thinking, and others you would claim are excluded. But it seems to me that such judgements depend entirely on how you fudge the terminology of "plausibility" and "possibility" and that you are very willing to stipulate what is meant by "God" in your P in such a way as to make some of these statements illogical. But your original "logical" proof depended not on the content of P or on the definitions provided for terms in P, so that while you want the proof to be logical, in the end it depends on defining the terms in such a way that the "plausibility" (I think this is a self-evidently culturally relative, historically conditioned category) of assuming that someone knows P is assured.

NChen zei

Though I disagree with the Cartesian notion of knowledge (in fact, I think it is obviously false), for the sake of argument I'll focus on the other issues. I think that the two scenarios sketched are symmetric: that we cannot know, in the Cartesian sense, either that god exists and that he doesn't exist and thus that symmetry functions as a reductio of your argument.

In your example of the possible world with a god and where someone dies and meets god in the afterlife, this example seems to be susceptible to the same kinds of cartesian doubt used to doubt any atheist's belief in the non existence of god. For example, the person may argue that he didn't really die and go into the afterlife but it is all a dream, or he may argue that the "god" he meets is really a hallucination, demon, or computer generated being, etc.

Josh Brown Kramer zei

It is pretty amazing that the New York Times linked to this.

First of all, the opening metaphysical property "If it is logically impossible to know that p, then p is necessarily false" is known to be false. See Godel's incompleteness theorem.

Heck, you don't have to get that fancy. Put a single die in a sealed opaque container and shake it. Now shake it again. It is impossible to know that after the first shake, "1 was rolled", therefore by your metaphysical property, 1 was not rolled. Similarly, "2 was not rolled", etc. So you can conclude that no face was rolled!

Turning this argument around: In one minute I will roll a die. Since there is a possible world where that die comes up 1, it is logically impossible for me to know that it is not one. By your metaphysical property, it WILL come up one.

It's astounding that your argument rests on the existence of God in a POSSIBLE world. Your arguments "proves" that anything that exists in a POSSIBLE world exists in THIS world.

NChen zei

To be fair to the author, Josh Brown Kramer, I don't think the examples you gave were counter examples to his principle that "If it is logically impossible to know that p, then p is necessarily false."

It is logically possible, in his sense of logically possible, to know what the first role of the dice was in your second example. It's not possible in our world because of physical constraints but it is certainly possible in some possible world which is what he meant by logical possibility.

I also don't think the Godel example is a counter example since Godel's incompleteness theorem says nothing about it being impossible to know some theorem which isn't provable, just that some are not provable in the axiom scheme. One may know any potential theorem by, perhaps, intuition, proof in some other axiom scheme, etc.

Anoniem zei

Hi Emanuel,

I am not so sure your response is successful. Consider this:

There is a possible W* in which there is a being X such that X is just like God in W, yet X just popped into existence 5 seconds ago. In other words, X in W* has all the same memories that God in W has, but most of X's memories (i.e., all of its memories prior to 5 seconds ago) are false memories.

Now if W* is a possible world then it seems that God in W would not be able to tell the difference between it and W. And If God in W would not be able to tell the difference between W and W* then God in W would not be able to know for certain if he were God in W or X in W*. And if God in W would not be able to know for certain if he were God in W or X in W* then God in W would not be able to know for certain that he was God in W. And If God in W would not be able to know for certain that he was God in W then it seems reasonable that it is impossible for anyone to know if God exists. And if it is impossible for anyone to know if God exists then it's necessarily false that God exists. Thus, it's necessarily false that God exists.

What do you think?

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Matthew,

You write:

"Your argument is a species of the Cartesian cogito argument, "God thinks therefore God is." The one being certain to know of God's existence is God. So you are saying that God exists because (in some possible world) God knows that God exists."

Well, my argument has nothing to do with the assertion "God thinks therefore God is". My argument is, in a nutshell, that it is logically impossible to know that God does not exist, and therefore, following my alternatively rendered principle, God exists in all K-worlds, including ours. So, the assertion "God thinks therefore God is" indeed plays no role in my argument at all.

Further you say that there might be a possible world, say W, in which there is no God and in which nobody knows that there is no God. However, if my principle is correct, that is, if every truth in our world is known in at least some possible world (here I take the weakest rendering of my principle), then it follows that God does exist in the actual world, so that W cannot be actual.

Third, you propose to use the logic of my principle to exclude any number of potential attributes of the deity. However, as I explained earlier, it it at least logically possible that God exists. In other words, there is a possible world W in which God exists. But then, surely, in W God knows whether each example you provide is true or false. Hence, it is not logically impossible to know the truth or falsehood of each of these examples.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear NChen,

You write: "In your example of the possible world with a god and where someone dies and meets god in the afterlife, this example seems to be susceptible to the same kinds of cartesian doubt used to doubt any atheist's belief in the non existence of god. For example, the person may argue that he didn't really die and go into the afterlife but it is all a dream, or he may argue that the "god" he meets is really a hallucination, demon, or computer generated being, etc."

Now, I already responded to this objection in my original presentation of the argument on prosblogion. For, I wrote there:

"#3
The atheist might refute my response to the first objection. After all, someone could, even encountering God in the afterlife, believe that he or she is dreaming, or hallucinating, or being deceived. Therefore, on the Cartesian view of knowledge, it is impossible to know that God exists after all. But then, by parallel reasoning, it also follows that, necessarily, God does not exist. And thus the new argument fails. My response would be that even if someone could always think that he or she is dreaming, hallucinating or being deceived, it still does not follow that it is impossible to know that God exists. For, take a possible world in which God exists. In this possible world there is a subject that knows that God exists, namely God. Indeed, in that world God knows that God exists. So, it is not impossible to know that God exists."

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Josh,

Your write: "First of all, the opening metaphysical property "If it is logically impossible to know that p, then p is necessarily false" is known to be false. See Godel's incompleteness theorem."

Now, I already responded to this objection in my original presentation of the argument on prosblogion. For, I wrote there:

"#4
Another objection would be to argue that there might be some true mathematical Gödel sentence G that cannot be proven by any proper mathematical system. Hence, G is unknowable. But then not all truths are knowable, and therefore my principle (which entails that all truths are knowable) fails. My response would be that G is in fact knowable. For, there is a possible world in which G is known. Take again a possible world in which God exists. In that world God can be taken to know (at least) all mathematical truths by direct immediate intuition, and therefore God knows G as well."

Further, you object: "Heck, you don't have to get that fancy. Put a single die in a sealed opaque container and shake it. Now shake it again. It is impossible to know that after the first shake, "1 was rolled", therefore by your metaphysical property, 1 was not rolled. Similarly, "2 was not rolled", etc. So you can conclude that no face was rolled!"

This objection is missing the point of the argument. I'm not saying that everything that is true in our world should be able to be known in our world. Of course not, for that would be clearly false, as your example shows. My principle has it (in its original rendering) that everything that is unknown in *all logically possible worlds* must be false. And your example is not a counter example to this principle. Indeed, it is quite easy to construct a logically possible world in which it is in fact known by some subject that after the first shake, "1 was rolled". Take for example a possible world in which there is some extraterrestrial species that observes every event on earth (perhaps without us knowing it, although this is not relevant for the construction) and is able to see through walls and other closed surfaces. Such a world is surely logically possible, and therefore the proposition "1 was rolled" is not unknowable. So, indeed, your example does not refute my principle.

Finally, you say that my argument "proves" that anything that exists in a possible world exists in this world. But this is not the case at all. My principle is, in its weakest form, that every truth in our world is known in some possible world. And the second premise I use is that it is logically impossible to know that God does not exist. Now, from these two assertions it does not follow at all that anything that exists in a possible world exists in this world, as can be quite easily verified.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Anoniem (from 28 oktober 2011 08:00),

Interesting objection. Yet, I believe your objection is an objection to the Cartesian conception of truth as such, since it would apply to each and every subject that claims to know something. Now, I would agree that, under the Cartesian view of knowledge, it is definitely the case that in many situations one is not sufficiently justified to claim to know something. But then, of all possible epistemic situations, the situation of God believing that God exists, is surely the most adequate, the most ideal, situation for which we would be justified to hold that the subject in question can be taken to be sufficiently certain about the proposition in question, and thus we are in fact justified to assert that in those possible worlds in which God exists at least God can be said to know that God exists,

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Anoniem zei

Hi Emanuel,

I think you're right that my argument is mainly an objection to the Cartesian view of knowledge. I suppose I was working under the assumption that your argument was based on it. Is it not? (I'm sorry if you've already explained this over at Prosblogion. I haven't had the time to read all the comments and your replies over there, yet. But I will; for this is a very interesting line of thought.)

I suppose my main concern is that the phrase "to be certain" in your argument needs some fleshing out. Does it mean (a) to be sufficiently justified or (b) impossible of being wrong? If (a) then knowledge of God's non-existence doesn't seem impossible; for it seems logically possible that God not exist and that someone can be sufficiently justified in believing God doesn't exist. If (b) then the argument seems open to something like my objection.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Hi Anonymous,

I think the issue can be resolved if we make use of the concept of ideal epistemic situation. There is no ideal epistemic situation in which a subject S would be justified to say that S has certain access to the fact of there not being a God, whereas, there is in fact an ideal epistemic situation in which a subject S is justified to say that S has certain access to the fact of there being a God, namely God in all possible worlds in which God exists.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Anoniem zei

Hi Emanuel,

It seems to me that there may be an ideal epistemic situation for the atheist, too, though perhaps not for the naturalist.

There are certain sects of Buddhism that claim that enlightened beings, i.e., buddhas, are omniscient and that they know that no God exists. It seems to me that this is a logically possible state of affairs (even if false) and if so then there is an ideal epistemic situation in which a subject S would be justified to say that S has certain access to the fact of there not being a God, namely the buddhas in all the possible worlds in which they exist.

Perhaps your argument then is not really against atheism per se, but rather against naturalism.

You might run your argument thusly: It seems impossible to know "for certain" that naturalism is true. If it's impossible to know "for certain" that naturalism is true then necessarily naturalism is false.

What do you think?

NChen zei

Hi Emanuel,

I see that you have responded already to that kind of objection but I still don't think it is a good response because even god can have reasonable cartesian doubt he is a god. on the other hand, there may be worlds where a non-god may have certain knowledge of there is no god. He or she wouldn't need to be a god, just have certain kinds of epistemic superpowers.

Josh Brown Kramer zei

Alright, I understand your point that God is different from other kinds of entities, such as rolls of dice and their outcomes, in that he cannot be logically proven to not exist. But doesn't that mean that there is no criterion that would differentiate a world in which God exists from a world in which God doesn't exist? If I ask you "what are the practical implications of the existence of God?" I would expect you to say things like "people benefit from being prayed for" or "controlling for all other confounding variables, Christians are less likely to starve than non Christians".

But these are empirical hypotheses, so there are possible worlds where they are false. But if these were actual implications of the existence of God, then proving them false would prove that God does not exist. But in your conception, it is impossible to prove that God does not exist. Hence the empirical consequences I've listed cannot actually be empirical consequences of the existence of God. And similarly, NO empirical statement can be a consequence of the existence of God.

So while God exists in the very specific epistemological system that you have constructed, this existence does not have any consequences for my understanding of how the world works or how I should operate in it.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Josh,

Let me get one thing clear. I do not believe that Christians are less likely to starve than non Christians.

I agree with you that from the basic concept of God no *specific* empirical claims can be logically deduced. But this is not a problem. In fact, it is what we should expect. For, why should it be the case that the basic concept of God logically entails one or more observational sentences? This seems indeed clearly false. It does not logically follow from the basic concept of God that Christians are less likely to starve than non Christians. Nor does it logically follow from the basic concept of God that people benefit from being prayed for. Sure, it might be the case that people benefit from being prayed for, but even so, this would not be a logical consequence of the basic concept of God (it might, if true, for example be grounded in God's free will).

You also write: "So while God exists in the very specific epistemological system that you have constructed, this existence does not have any consequences for my understanding of how the world works or how I should operate in it".

Well, the conclusion of the argument, that is, God exists in the actual world, provides an interesting starting point for your journey ;-)

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Anonymous,

You write: There are certain sects of Buddhism that claim that enlightened beings, i.e., buddhas, are omniscient and that they know that no God exists. It seems to me that this is a logically possible state of affairs (even if false) and if so then there is an ideal epistemic situation in which a subject S would be justified to say that S has certain access to the fact of there not being a God, namely the buddhas in all the possible worlds in which they exist."

Now, there is clearly a quite substantial, and epistemically relevant, difference between S asserting that S exists, and S asserting that some other subject external to S, say U, exists. For, in the former case S has direct access to its own mental states, whereas, in the second case, S does not have direct access to U, or to U's mental states. Therefore, while the former case, S asserting that S exists, is properly said to be epistemic ideal (certainly in the case of a possible world in which God asserts that God exists), the second case is not epistemically ideal, in fact, due to worries like 'Is there an external world?' and 'Are there other minds?', it's far from being epistemically ideal, I would argue.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear NChen,

Please see my response(s) to Anonymous. Thanks.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Kris C. zei

Hi Emanuel,

I just wonder if you have replied to Matthew's point about the fallacy of fiction in his first comment? Because that is the very problem which came up to my mind when I read your post: if the principle entails God's existence, then it seems it entails every logical possible object's existence.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Kris,

The principle does not entail every logical possible object's existence. It only entails the actual world's existence of object's whoes non-existence is logically impossible to know. Take for example an unicorn. Now, surely, there is a possible world that does not contain unicorns and in which it is known that there are no unicorns. Perhaps because in that world everything is created by that world's God and that world's God knowns that unicorns are not part of creation. But then the principle will not help to conclude that unicorns actually exist.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Kris C. zei

Emanuel,

Thanks for the explanation. I think its pretty smart, in the unicorn case, to use the omniscience of God to prevent the unwilling consequence.

But, in the God case, can't we just suppose that, in a possible world, there is a omniscience human being (or alien) who is able to know that God doesn't exist in that world?

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Kris,

Actually that world's God doesn't have to be omniscient. For the example to work it's enough for that world's God to know that unicorns are not part of creation.

In fact, I explicitly did not add omniscience to my argument's basic conception of God. For, we do not have sufficient ground for asserting that omniscience is logically possible, that is to say, it's not clear at all that positing an omniscient subject would not result in contradictions (see for example Dennis Whitcomb's interesting argument that omniscience is logically impossible).

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Kris C. zei

Emanuel,

I think you are right here. Let me have another try, then.

In the case you mentioned, does God in the position to know that "if I didn't created X, then X doesn't exist"? In the circumstance, can God rule out the logical possibility that unicorn exists even though he did not create it?

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Kris,

For the possible world in question we might assume that that world's God created a static universe in which evolution does not take place. But then, indeed, in that world it would be true (and that world's God would know it) that if God didn't create X, then X doesn't exist.

Or, alternatively, we might posit a possible world in which God exists but in which God did not create anything. But, then, surely, God will know in that world that there are no unicorns.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Kris C. zei

Emanuel,

Thanks for the explanation.

I agree in that world it is fairly true that if God didn't create X, then X doesn't exist. But what you need here, it seems to me, is "necessarily, if God didn't create X, then X doesn't exist." Can God guarantee this?

And here is another question. Is it fine to shift the subject of "If it is logically impossible to know that p, then p is necessarily false" from human being like us to God? (If this point was discussed, please just let me know)

Sorry about making so many questions. But I just can't swallow the consequence that God necessarily exists.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Hi Kris,

No, we cannot add 'necessarily' to that, since there might be a possible world in which unicorns come into existence via natural evolution. All we need is that in the specific possible world in question God knows that there are no unicorns (because God in that world created a static universe or nothing at all).

Further, the two premises on which my argument are based apply to all subjects (i.e., agents or persons), human or non-human. I see no problem with that.

And, you don't have to swallow the consequence that God *necessarily* exists. For, one of the weaker renderings of my principle has it that 'all truths of our world are possibly known'. And from this weaker rendering it "only" follows (taking into account the second premise of my argument that it is impossible to know that God does not exist) that God exists in the acutal world (either necessarily or as a brute fact). Thus, this weak rendering of my argument, although still logically entailing that God exists in our world, is perfectly consistent with there being another logically possible world in which there is no God.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel

Now, let p be the c-proposition that God does not exist. As argued before there is no world in which p is known. Hence it follows that there is no K-world in which p is true. Therefore God exists in all K-worlds, including ours.

But not knowing that God does not exist doesn’t make it true. You’re saying that because we don’t know that God doesn’t exist it follows that God exists ‘necessarily or as a brute fact’.

In addition to this, there’s no evidence, epistemologically, that God exists in this world or any other.

And yes, you have the right to tell me to piss off.

Regards, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

You write: "But not knowing that God does not exist doesn't make it true". Well, of course not. But I'm not saying that at all. My first premise has it that what is logically impossible to know, that is, what is unknown in all logically possible words, must be a falsehood, which is an entirely different statement.

Moreover, the proposition that God exists is known in at least one possible world. See my comments above if you want to understand why. In short, there is a logically possible world in which God exists, but then in that world God knows that God exists.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel,

Thanks for your response. I won't engage further unless I can think of something. Personally, I'm not trying to prove whether God exists or not because I don't believe it can be proven.

And I'm less interested in proving you wrong then trying to understand for myself where your argument is wrong. Basically, I don't believe that pure logic trumps evidence in epistemology, as science demonstrates.

Regards, Paul.

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel,

I know I said I wouldn’t bother you any more, but there is a fundamental problem with your argument, and it would be remiss of me if I didn’t point it out.

In reality, we don’t know that God doesn’t exist with any more certainty than we don’t know God exists. So the problem with your argument is that its conclusion contradicts what we actually know.

Regards, Paul.

Kris C. zei

Emanuel,

Thanks for the explanation.

Kris

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

If you want to criticize my argument, then you have to either argue that its conclusion doesn't follow from the premises, or you would have to argue that one or more of its premises are inadequate (for example by providing a convincing counter example).

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel,

Actually, I only have to argue that the conclusion doesn’t agree with the evidence.

You are cleverer than me – lots of people are – and I admit I can’t find fault with your argument, but I know its conclusion is unsubstantiated. You say: God ‘necessarily exists or is a brute fact’. This is a very strong claim, and strong claims require strong evidence, yet there is no evidence to support it.

Science is a dialectic between theory and evidence. String theory makes extraordinary claims for which we have no evidence to date. No one questions the logic or mathematics behind string theory but no one makes the claim that it’s necessarily true or is a brute fact’.

Regards, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

You cannot refute my argument for the existence of God by simply claiming that the existence of God doesn't agree "with the evidence", for that would be begging the question.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Clayton,

You have responded to me on prosblogion, but I'm having technical problems to get my responses on that blog. Alexander Pruss is aware of this, but a technical solution has not been found yet. Therefore I post my response to your last reply below. Please also post here if you want to respond to me directly. Thanks.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

-------------------------------

Clayton:

I would say that no rational agent S can believe that God understands S's atheism. For, believing this would entail that God exists, which contradicts S's atheism. Perhaps I should restrict the scope of my metaphysical principle to propositions P for which there is a possible world in which some rational agent could believe P.

Moreover, I thought that for you o-knowledge is more or less the same as justified belief. Therefore I agreed that there might be atheists who o-know that God doesn't exist. But, if o-knowledge entails truth, then, surely, if my argument is sound, there is nobody who o-knows that God doesn't exist. For, if o-knowledge entails truth, then a falsehood cannot be o-known.

Further, I would indeed say that there is a possible world in which God exists, and in which God knows all mathematical truths by, say, direct intuition.

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emmanuel,

Excuse me, but begging what question?

You claim that 'God does exist', and, to refute you, I only have to demonstrate that we don’t know.

Just to clarify, so we don’t end up arguing at cross purposes: I’ve no argument against 'first cause' per se. But first cause can be the laws of nature or a set of equations; it doesn’t have to be an anthropomorphic God. If God is a metaphor for the laws of nature, as alluded to in the title of Paul Davies’ book, The Mind of God, then I’ve no argument.

Regards, Paul.

Paul P. Mealing zei

Sorry, Emanuel, I spelt your name wrong.

Regards, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

From my metaphysical principle it follows that there is no possible world in which the first cause is a set of equations. For, there is no possible world in which some subject could know, by logical proof or by direct intuition, that the first cause is a set of equations. Indeed, think about it for a moment, equations are abstract, causally inert, objects. They describe things, but they surely cannot cause things.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel.

Thanks for your response. Just answer this one question:

If God was defined as a non-sentient process, would your proof still hold?

Regards, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

First, it is not logically impossible to know that there is not a non-sentient first cause. For, take a possible world in which there is a personal first cause S that knows that S is the first cause. In that case S knows that there is not a non-sentient first cause. So, my metaphysical principle does not entail that there is a non-sentient first cause. It is important to point this out, since it would have been a problem for my argument if it would have entailed that there is a non-sentient first cause. After all, the premises of my argument entail that God exists, that is, they entail that there is a personal first cause. And, surely, there cannot both be a non-sentient first cause and a personal first cause!

Second, it is in fact impossible to know that there is a non-sentient first cause. For, a non-sentient first cause is not a person (i.e., not a subject, not an agent) and hence not able to know that it is the non-sentient first cause (since only persons can know things). Moreover, on the Cartesian view of knowledge, no person is able to know that there is a non-sentient first cause, since there being a non-sentient first cause is not something one could know by logical proof or by direct intuition. But then it follows from my metaphysical principle that it is false that there is a non-sentient first cause, that is, there is no non-sentient first cause.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel,

So by my definition of God, your argument is irrelevant and I don’t have to refute it, which is what I expected. Though it would be equally irrelevant if your proof held for my definition.

What you’ve demonstrated is that your argument is critically dependent on your definition of God. In fact, God must be necessarily defined in order to be proved to necessarily exist. Specifically, God must necessarily be both self-conscious and first cause.

You haven’t proven that there is no non-sentient first cause. Your argument simply assumes that God is a sentient being – it’s part of your definition of God.

You say: ‘…it follows from my metaphysical principle that it is false that there is a non-sentient first cause, that is, there is no non-sentient first cause.’

Your metaphysical principle is: 'If it is impossible to know that p, then p is necessarily false.' The problem with this statement is that we don’t know, that which is impossible to know, is non-existent. So no one knows if an impossibly known non-sentient first cause is non-existent.

Regards, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

Necessary existence is not part of the definition of God that I employ for my argument. Necessary existence is a consequence of my argument, not a starting point. And, surely, 'being a first cause' and 'being a person' are both part of the definition of God, which is unproblematic.

Further, the premises of my argument entail that God exists, that is, they entail that there is a personal first cause. Now, persons are sentient beings. But then, since there is at most one first cause, it follows that there is not a non-sentient first cause.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel,

And, surely, 'being a first cause' and 'being a person' are both part of the definition of God, which is unproblematic.

Well, no. There’s no reason for God to be anthropomorphic – it’s an obvious projection.

But then, since there is at most one first cause, it follows that there is not a non-sentient first cause.


No, it doesn’t.

I would recommend you read Paul Davies’ God and the New Physics (1983). Davies is a highly respected physicist, philosopher, astro-biologist and prolific science writer. Chapter 16: after lengthily discussing Alan Guth’s ‘free lunch scenario’ for the universe, ‘….all you need are the laws [of nature] – the universe can take care of itself, including its own creation.’ This is speculative, of course, but obviously not impossible.

In fact, there are a number of cosmological theories that do not require a sentient first cause: Alan Guth’s inflationary model (referred above); the Hartle-Hawking model that starts without time; and Roger Penrose’s cyclic universe.

According to your argument, the difference between the possibility and impossibility of God’s existence is whether God knows that God exists. If God doesn’t know that God exists then God can’t exist. The corollary to this is that God can only exist if God knows that God exists. This is a circular argument.

Regards, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

Note that the features of 'being personal' and 'being a first cause' are part of the *definition* of God. Now, providing a definition of God is of course not sufficient to hold that God, defined as such, actually exists. Of course not! For that we need an *argument*. And, as mentioned before, the premisses of my new argument logically entail that there is a personal first cause. But then, by definition, my argument entails that God exist. Moreover, I explained before that my new argument does not work to deduce that there is a non-sentient first cause (in fact it entails that there isn't a non-sentient first cause), the reason being that a non-sentient first cause is not capable of knowledge, whereas a person is (see above for the details). And, again, the claim that there is a logically possible world within which God exists and within which it can be taken that that world's God knows that God exists, is *not* the same as claiming that God actually exists. So, my argument is not circular at all. This has all been mentioned before.

Regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel,

You’ve completely missed the point of my argument. The circularity of your argument is a direct consequence of your rebuttal of my definition of God. A non-sentient God obviously does not know God exists, and, in fact, this was a key reason for you claiming it was impossible.

God knowing that God exists (being sentient) is what separates your definition from mine, and also makes mine impossibly non-existent and yours necessarily existent.

By your own assertion, God can’t exist if God doesn’t know God exists (that is a non-sentient first cause). So God only exists because God knows God exists. Or God knows God exists, therefore God exists. This is circular.

Regards, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

Again, for my argument I'm only assuming that it is *logically possible* for God to exist and to know that God exists. That is, I'm only assuming that there is some *logically possible* world in which God exists and in which that world's God knows that God exists. But this is of course not the same as assuming that God does in fact actually exist! For that would be clearly circular. So, even if God would not in fact exist, my assumption that there is a logically possible world in which God exists and in which God knows that God exists would still be true. In other words, even if God does not in fact exist, it would still be true that it is logically possible for God to exist and to know that God exists, and this is all I need for my argument. So, there is no circularity at all. You cannot refute my argument so easily. I suggest you study the whole discussion on Prosblogion, and here on my own blog, in depth.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

You still misunderstand the argument and its defense. As I wrote earlier: "Second, it is in fact impossible to know that there is a non-sentient first cause. For, a non-sentient first cause is not a person (i.e., not a subject, not an agent) and hence not able to know that it is the non-sentient first cause (since only persons can know things). Moreover, on the Cartesian view of knowledge, no person is able to know that there is a non-sentient first cause, since there being a non-sentient first cause is not something one could establish by logical proof or by direct intuition. But then it follows from my metaphysical principle that it is false that there is a non-sentient first cause, that is, there is no non-sentient first cause."

(And, as explained before, it is not impossible to know that there is *not* a non-sentient first cause, since there is a logically possible world that contains a *personal* first cause, say S, who knows [note: persons are capable of knowledge, contrary to non-sentient beings] that S is the personal first cause, so the premises of my argument cannot be used to infer that there is a non-sentient first cause. Again, this is very important because else my argument would be problematic.)

So, again, it follows that there isn't a non-sentient first cause. And, moreover, it does follow that there is a *personal* first cause, since it is logically impossible to know that there is not a personal first cause (after all, there not being a personal first cause is not something one could establish by logical proof or by direct intuition), and, as my metaphysical principle has it, everything that is logically impossible to know is false.

(And, as explained before, it is not logically impossible to know that a personal first cause exists, since there is a logically possible world that contains a personal first cause and within which the personal first cause, say S, knows that S is the personal first cause [note again: persons, contrary to non-sentient beings, are capable of knowledge]. So, the premises of my argument do not entail that there is not a personal first cause. And again, this is very important because else my argument would be problematic.)

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

I'm sorry but while adjusting my previous post I by accident deleted your previous post. This was unintended. I've been trying to retrieve your previous post, but I can't find it in the system anymore.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel,

It's okay, I think this has gone far enough. I wrote this and it will be my last post.

So, the premises of my argument do not entail that there is not a personal first cause. And again, this is very important because else my argument would be problematic.)

Yes, exactly. Your argument is dependent on your definition of God being both ‘personal’ and ‘first cause’. A God who is not ‘personal’ can’t be proved.

I don’t need to address the circularity of your argument or even refute it. I just need to adopt a different definition of God.

I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve: to understand for myself where your argument is wrong.

I’ve found a way around your argument and I can defend a non-sentient God despite your protestations to the contrary.

Thanks, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

"A God that is not personal can't be proved", as you write. Indeed, as I explained before many times, my argument entails that there is a personal first cause, and, as explained as well many times, the argument entails that there is not a non-sentient first cause, which is precisely why my argument can be understood as being an argument for the existence of God.

So, again, if you would define God as, say, the non-sentient first cause, then the premises of my argument actually imply that such a God doesn't exist. But if you define God as the personal first cause, then my argument does in fact entail that God exists. Thus, in short, my argument does imply that God (understood as personal first cause) exists, or, yet even shorter, it shows that there is a personal first cause, which is precisely what theists refer to as God.

The rest of your last response doesn't do any work. I therefore have no choice than to refer you to my previous explanations, such as the last two.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel,

Sorry, this just occurred to me.

If God necessarily exists in our world then he must necessarily exist in all possible worlds, which would indisputably make your argument circular.

What makes our world special that God necessarily exists here but only possibly exists elsewhere?

Regards, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

If some entity (God or anything else) exists necessarily, then that entity exists in *all* possible worlds, including ours. So, our world is not special in that respect at all. What makes our world special though is that it is the single possible world that is 'actual', that is to say, it is the single possible world that obtains.

Regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Thanks Emanuel,

That’s what I thought you’d say.

Regards, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

You'r welcome. And, to conclude, don't forget that my argument is not circular, for the proposition that God exists and that God exists necessarily is the *conclusion* of the argument, definitely *not* it's starting point.

Regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel,

Again, this is what I'd expect you to say. I'm not an expert logician, obviously, but you start off with the possible existence of God in a possible world and end up with the necessary existence of God in all possible worlds. If it's not circular then it's certainly sophistry.

Regards, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

No. And the reason is quite simple. Possible existence (given that 'necessary existence' is not part of my definition of God) does *not* entail necessary existence. To get from possible existence to necessary existence you need *additional* premises, and that is precisely what my argument offers.

Regards,
Emanuel

Paul P. Mealing zei

Hi Emanuel,

I know your argument is sophistry because I know that you can’t prove an imaginary entity is real without any supporting evidence. Epistemologically, that’s pretty fundamental.

And don’t tell me that ‘first cause’ is evidence, because ‘personal first cause’ is based on mythology (therefore imagination) not science.

Regards, Paul.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Paul,

As mentioned before, the two premises of my argument are the support needed to get from the possible existence to the actual existence of God (defined as personal first cause).

Regards,
Emanuel

Anoniem zei

Emanuel,

The assumption that it's impossible to know that there is no such thing as god is a bit tricky.

Do you mean knowledge like absolute knowledge? Or empirical knowledge? If you mean scientific knowledge at all, you are wrong. When there are two theories in a race you can choose for example the most probable one. From debates and scientific works from for example Prof. Philipse it is evidential that a god hypothese is less probable than secular hypotheses.

This means that your assumption, which says that it is impossible to know that there is no god, only holds when you reject a lot of scientific methods.

Niels

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Niels,

My argument is based on the Cartesian conception of knowledge. See the initial post and the subsequent discussion above.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Pieter zei

Your reasoning is based on the principle:
‘If p is a c-proposition that is true in at least one K-world, then there is a world in which p is known’

What is the proof that this principle is true?

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Pieter,

This alternative version of my principle is similar to the original principle I defended, except that it is more modest. For, it only applies to c-propositions, and its antecedent now also requires that there must be a K-world in which p is true. Thus, my motivation of the original principle also constitutes a motivation for this alternative weaker version.

Moreover, the alternative version seems more realistic than the original rendering. For the proposition p in the antecedent is quite basic in the sense that it is about concrete particulars. Besides, p is already required to be true in at least one world that contains one or more subjects that know things. So, in a sense, p is “closer to” the possibility of there being a subject that knows p.

Regards,
Emanuel

Hein zei

Dear Emanuel. I can not read all of the above, so perhaps you have already treated this.

Here is a question:

can this argument be used to prove that evil exists?

I am not sure, what are your thoughts?

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Hein,

The argument establishes the existence of a personal first cause. It doesn't entail anything about the moral nature of this person. For that other arguments are needed, such as the moral argument.

Regards,
Emanuel

Hein zei

Dear Emanuel,

Thank you.

I know what the argument intends to establish, and I certainly was not referring to the moral nature of a first cause.

My question was simply whether you would take the following argument to be valid and whether you would accept the premisses and conclusion as true:

take for p the proposition 'evil does not exist'. It seems reasonable to hold that it is impossible to know that evil does not exist. Hence, by your principle 'If it is impossible to know that p, then p is necessarily false', it follows that the proposition 'evil does not exist'is necessary false, etc...

I am simply inquiring into the scope of your argument. I do not think that if the above adaptation of your argument is valid, it needs to pose any problem for theism.

hein zei

cont:

it would simply show that the problem of evil immediately pops up if you accept this kind of argument. This I find interesting and constitutes the background of my question. But again: there are plenty of different arguments that can be used to solve that problem.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Hein,

Thank you for your further explanation. It seems to me that it is not impossible to know that evil does not exist. Consider a possible world in which God exists, in which God is not evil, and in which God doesn't create anything at all. In that world God, being the ground and source of the world, knows that there is nothing besides Himself. But then, in that world, God knows that evil doesn't exist.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

hein zei

Dear Emanuel, thank you. One final question (I am sure you treated this somewhere, but the blog is too long).

Your response, and some of the debate above, now lead me to ask the following simple question.

Can we not say that there is a possible world in which God does not exist and this is known by some subject? This could be construed as a logical possibility, but you would have to deny this, because it contradicts one of your premisses. You would have to argue that it is logically impossible that a subject can know that God does not exist, and I do not immediately see why that would be the case.

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Hein,

On prosblogion and above I indeed explain why it is impossible to know that God does not exist. In short it amounts to the following. One cannot exclude the possibility of God's existence by empirical observation, by direct intuition or by testimony. Moreover, since the concept of God, i.e. personal first cause, is logically consistent, one cannot exclude God's existence by a priori logical analysis either. But then it is in fact not possible to conclusively establish that God does not exist.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Hein zei

Dear Emanuel,

Thanks. I. think it is à Nice argument . I Will study when I have time. The above seems rather strong .

Best wishes

Hein

Anoniem zei

The cartesian view of knowledge is a bit false. Certainly when "to know" is limited to the proposed "entity" itself. Then it's circular.

So, what's the worth of this principle to you, Emanuel, knowing that it's conclusion is detached from actual and factual reality?

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Anoniem,

We do not have to concede that the cartesian conception of knowledge exhausts the analysis of knowledge in order to accept the premises of my new argument. After all, these premises are about cartesian instances of knowledge, and for accepting their plausibility we do not have to be cartesians ourselves, that is, we do not have to admit that there are no other types of instances of knowledge.

Kind regards,
Emanuel

Anoniem zei

Thanx for your respond.

But what's the worth of the argument Emanuel? Let's say I have a tool by which I can measure the earth is flat, but that's due the limitation of the tool.

I think your argument only stands with lots of unlogical assumptions about God. In possible worlds, anything is possible. Also unicorns that can't be scanned by any future technologie.

So the only thing your argument says to me is that God can 'exist' in fantasy. But that's nothing new.

Greetings,
Anoniem

Emanuel Rutten zei

Anoniem,

Your response doesn't do any work, for it contains no objection against my argument. I did not say that the cartesian conception of knowledge is limited. Its not limited at all, its just one of many accounts of what is required for a subject S to know proposition P.

And again, we do not have to defend the cartesian view of knowledge in order to claim that certain properties of this conception are plausibly true, such as those expressed by the two premises of my argument.

Consider the following analogy. You do not have to embrace the classic conception of beauty in order to accept premises about this conception. By parallel reasoning, you do not have to embrace the cartesian conception of knowledge in order to accept premises about this conception.

Regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Anoniem,

You also write: "In possible worlds, anything is possible. Also unicorns that can't be scanned by any future technologie."

Well, indeed. But that doesn't constitute a problem for my argument at all. For there is at least one possible world in which it is known that unicorns do not exist. As mentioned before, take a possible world in which God exists and in which God is alone since God decided not to create anything. Now, in that world God does in fact know that unicorns do not exist. Hence, my metaphysical principle cannot be invoked to conclude that unicorns necessarly exist. This has all been discussed before.

Regards,
Emanuel

Anoniem zei

Hi Emanuel,

"I did not say that the cartesian conception of knowledge is limited. Its not limited at all, its just one specific account of what is required for a subject S to know proposition P."

Yes, but in your argument, this subject S is proposition P. So 'to know' is limited to the proposition itself and therefore a circular argument, limited to itself. We can only know that IF God exists and is self-conscious, THEN God would know of his (hers?, its?) existance.

Further on, the concept of God in your argument is in my opinion completly meaningless and therefore misleading, cause the word is personally associated with properties that can't be included in your argument.

Any philosophical statement about (existance of) God has to be accompanied with a clear definition. In your argument, it says nothing more then 'a possible self-conscious subject S knows object S.

Greetins,
Anoniem

Anoniem zei

Hi again Emanuel,

You also responded: "For there is at least one possible world in which it is known that unicorns do not exist. As mentioned before, take a possible world in which God exists and in which God is alone since God decided not to create anything. Now, in that world God does in fact know that unicorns do not exist."

In a world where God is alone God can not know God exists, cause to exist is relative.

And in the same way we could argue that there is at least one world in which it is known that God does not exist. Take a possible world in which unicorns exist and in which they are omniscient about all possible worlds and know that God does not exist.

Greetings,
Anoniem

Emanuel Rutten zei

Anoniem,

This subject S *is* proposition P? Now, this assertion does not seem to make any sense.

Yes, if God exists then God knows that God exists. This is precisely what I affirm as part of my defense of my argument.

My concept of God is not meaningless at all. I define God as personal first cause, that is to say, a person that is uncaused and that is the originating cause of everyting else. And this definition is not meaningless at all.

You write: "In a world where God is alone God can not know God exists, cause to exist is relative.". Now, this is an unsubstantiated claim. For, surely, there is a possible world in which a person exists who has the power to create a cosmos. If this person does not use this power then it does not follow that that person doesn't exist.

You conclude: "And in the same way we could argue that there is at least one world in which it is known that God does not exist. Take a possible world in which unicorns exist and in which they are omniscient about all possible worlds and know that God does not exist.". In the discussion above (and on Prosblogion) I have already responded to equivalents of this objection. In short it amounts to the fact that one cannot exclude the existence of God by empirical observation, by direct intuition or by testimony. Moreover, since the concept of God is logically consistent, one cannot exclude God's existence by means of an a priori logical analysis either. But then it follows that it is in fact not possible to know that God doesn't exist.

Regards,
Emanuel

Anoniem zei

Hoi Emanuel,

First, sorry to make you go over some arguments you already made. It's just my try to explain why I don't agree.

You wrote: "Now, this is an unsubstantiated claim. For, surely, there is a possible world in which a person exists who has the power to create a cosmos. If this person does not use this power then it does not follow that that person doesn't exist."

And

"My concept of God is not meaningless at all. I define God as personal first cause, that is to say, a person that is uncaused and that is the originating cause of everyting else."

This means that God should also be the originating cause of all possibles worlds, including the one where God decides not to use this power, thus creates nothing. In this case, there can not be any possible worlds where God exists.

This God, as the first person that is uncaused and that is the originating cause of everyting else, eliminates the possibility of Gods own existance.

But it's you, the thinking subject, that creates a possible world for God to exist. And that leades to the old saying: not God created men, men created God.

Greetings,
Anoniem

Emanuel Rutten zei

Anoniem,

God does of course not have to be the cause of all logically possible worlds. You do not seem to be familiar with the basics of modal logic and its possible world semantics. See for example http://bit.ly/11mwT6

God is indeed the first cause according to my definition. In other words, God is the uncaused cause of everything else, that is to say, God is the uncaused cause of everything besides God. Thus, my definition of God does not eliminate the possibility of God's existence.

And further, holding that God possibly exists, that is, holding that there is a possible world in which God exists, is obviously not the same as holding that God actually exists, that is, exists in our world. (Compare the following. Holding that John possibly loves Esther, that is, holding that there is a possible world in which John loves Esther, is not the same as holding that John actualy loves Esther.) So, it is not the case that possible worlds theoreticians create God as a mere thought. This is elementary, I must say.

Regards,
Emanuel

Anoniem zei

"You do not seem to be familiar with the basics of modal logic and its possible world semantics."

It's not my daily cup of tea, but I understand perfectly what your point is.

That's why I already asked, what's this argument of a possible God existing in a possible world worth?

Because you are referring in your foreword to our world about theism and atheism.

"Note that a similar move to reject the argument for theism is not open to the atheist."

So that seems to suggest you see your argument as valid against atheism, but if God is just a possibility in a possible world, it doesn't say anything about our world, nor about atheism.

Greetings,
Anoniem

Emanuel Rutten zei

Anoniem,

The conclusion of my argument is that God actually exists, that is, God exists in the actual world, i.e. our world. Thus, it is not the case at all that my argument only establishes that God possibly exists.

Regards,
Emanuel

Anoniem zei

Hi Emanuel,

I see no arguments for your conclusion. Even the argument for a possible existing God in a possible world has its fundaments in a circular argument, for your defense is nothing more than a presumed existing God needing itself to confirm its own existance. That is circular. And without this defense, your argument doesn't stand.

Greetings,
Anoniem

Emanuel Rutten zei

Anoniem,

You clearly do not understand the argument, nor its defense. The argument, in its initial form, consists of two premises and a single conclusion.

(1) For all propositions p, if p is possibly true, then p is possibly knowable.
(2) It is impossible to know that God does not exist
(3) Therefore, God exists necessarily, and thus actually

Remarks
1. On prosblogion I present an alternative version of the argument, using c-propositions and K-worlds, that does not entail that God exists necessarily, although it still follows that God exists actually.
2. Possible existence refers to the metaphysical or broadly logical notion of existing in at least one broadly logically possible world.
3. Contrary to what you say, my argument does not require at all that God needs to confirm its existence in order to exist.

Regards,
Emanuel

Anoniem zei

Hi Emanuel,

You clearly don't understand the refutation of your argument. That is, the conclusion (3) only stands with your defense which is a circular argument and therefore not valid.

By making a little detour within, with the argument we cannot know God does not exist, that circular argument isn't broken. Thus your statement stays circular but is not consistent.

Thanx for sharing thoughts.


Greetings,
Anoniem

Emanuel Rutten zei

Anoniem,

My defense of my argument consists of various responses to objections raised. So, to which objection(s) and to which response(s) of mine are you referring when you say that my defense is circular?

Regards,
Emanuel

Anoniem zei

Emanuel, your first premise

"For all propositions p, if p is possibly true, then p is possibly knowable."

is false. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that it is impossible to know the position and momentum of a particle simultaneously, yet particles have position and momentum.

Your second premise, "It is impossible to know that God does not exist" is also false. If a God can exist then one can possibly be created. Mankind is advancing and may some day create such a God (or one could spontaneously appear). Yep, "our" God wouldn't be that sentient first cause, but it would have all the other characteristics you're attributing to God, so "our" God would know whether "your" God exists. It is possible that God is possible but doesn't exist yet.

Next, let's return to the unicorn example. It is impossible to prove that unicorns do not exist because the event horizon precludes our seeing further than the speed of light allows us to perceive, and all sights/sensations are actually of the past. We can't see the present. The further away something is, the further in the past we see it. Unicorns may exist on a planet 5 billion light years away. There could be aliens there who know that unicorns don't exist there, but those aliens can't know that unicorns don't exist here.

Essentially, the "doesn't exist" proof either for God or unicorn relies on godly powers that transcend physics and the untold limitations of physical life. Given that we don't currently have godly powers, it just means we're arguing from ignorance (so far).

You should also make clear that your argument gives no logical support for Christianity or any other religion. God does not even have to be aware that humans exist. It could be happily watching the teensy galaxies twirl, unaware of the bits of life on the small planet we call home.

Take care,

Richard

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Richard,

Your objections fail. For my argument, God is defined as being personal first cause. This does not entail christianity, but it surely entails bare theism and refutes naturalism and atheism.

Your Heisenberg objection fails as well since there are possible worlds in which quantum mechanics does not apply (take some classic deterministic possibl world) and in which the position and momentum of a given particle can actually be known.

And then the unicorns again. There is in fact a possible world in which it is known that unicorns do not exist. Take a possible world in which God exists and in which God is alone because God does not create anything. Now, in that world God knows that there are no unicorns.

Regards,
Emanuel

Emanuel Rutten zei

Dear Richard,

One small addition. Perhaps you think that I restrict my princple to human knowledge. Now, surely, that would be incorrect. For, there are many things that are impossible for us to know, while still being true. This is evident. So, precisely for this reason, my argument quantifies not just over human subjects, but over all metaphysically possible types of subjects, which renders your objections inadequate.

Regards,
Emanuel

Bert Morrien zei


A Critical Assessment of Contemporary
Cosmological Arguments
Towards a Renewed Case for Theism
http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/handle/1871/38278
=== Quote from the above document ===
The Implications Of The Idea that reality Is Ultimately Metaphysically Intelligible

Below I present and assess in full detail my third suggested argument.
Take the following modal-epistemological principle, connecting possible worlds, knowledge and truth: ‘If it is metaphysically impossible to know p then p is necessarily false’. This principle seems cogent.
For, if a given proposition p could be true, then, plausibly, there is
some possible world in which some subject in fact knows that p is true.
=== End Quote ===

Let me rephrase the sentence starting with 'For':

For, if the a priori assumption is made that that in some possible world p is true, then, plausibly, there is
some possible world in which some subject in fact knows that p is true.

Whether or not 'plausibly' is applicable here, depends on the plausibility of the actual truth of p.
If p is actually true, then, maybe, there is possibly a world in which some subject in fact knows that p is true.
If p is actually false, which is also an acceptable a priory possibility, then supposing that p could be true is nonsense.

To say that a proposition could be true does not imply that this proposition is actually true in some possible world.
Concluding, nothing is said about the cogency of the principle: ‘If it is metaphysically impossible to know p then p is necessarily false’. The principle is only applicable because of the a priory assumption that it is impossible to say something about nothing in the classical sense; in the quantum mechanical sense, it appears that this principle does not hold.

We cannot change reality, so we must accept it as it is. So far, it seems that God does not exist outside the human brain, to assume otherwise seems unreasonable. Rutten is a man who believes in a God with a capital ‘G’. Maybe this God interferes with his judgement.