William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Summary Against Modern Thought: God Hates Nothing

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

Three quick chapters will little comment. Well, little is needed. We have more meat next week, when we dip back into eternity. There is some interesting commentary about living beings in Chapter 97.

Chapter 96 The God hates nothing, nor can the hatred of anything be ascribed to Him. (alternate translation)

[1] HENCE it appears that hatred of a thing cannot be ascribed to God…

[3] Again. As we have shown above, God’s will tends to things other than Himself, in as much as, by willing and loving His being and goodness, He wills it to be poured forth, as far as possible, by communicating its likeness. Accordingly that which God wills in things other than Himself, is that the likeness of His goodness be in them. Now the goodness of each thing consists in its partaking of the divine likeness: since every other goodness is nothing but a likeness of the first goodness. Therefore God wills good to everything: and consequently He hates nothing.

[4] Again. From the first being all others take the origin of their being. Wherefore if He hates any one of the things that are, He wills it not to be, because to be is a thing’s good. Hence He wills His action not to be, whereby that thing is brought into being mediately or immediately; for it has been proved above, that if God wills a thing, it follows that He wills whatever is required for that thing. But this is impossible. And this is evident, if things are brought into being by His will, since in that case the action whereby things are produced must be voluntary: and likewise if He be the cause of things naturally, because just as His nature pleases Him, so also everything that His nature requires pleases Him. Therefore God hates not anything…

[7] And yet God is said metaphorically to hate certain things: and this in two ways. First, from the fact that God in loving things, and willing their good to be, wills the contrary evil not to be. Wherefore He is said to hate evils, since we are said to hate that which we will not to be; according to Zach. viii. 17, Let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his friend; and love not a false oath, for all these are the things that I hate, saith the Lord. But such things are not His effects as subsistent things, to which hatred or love are directed properly speaking.

[8] The other way is due to God willing some greater good that cannot be without the privation of a lesser good. And thus He is said to hate, since to do more than this were to love. For, in this way, for as much as He wills the good of justice or of the order of the universe, which good is impossible without the punishment or destruction of some, He is said to hate those whose punishment or destruction He wills; according to Mal. i. 3: I have hated Esau, and the words of the psalm: Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity, thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie: the bloody and the deceitful man the Lord will abhor.

Chapter 97 The God is a living being. (alternate translation)

[1] FROM what has been already proved, it follows of necessity that God is a living being.

[2] For it has been shown that in God there are intelligence and will. Now intelligence and will are only in that which lives. Therefore God is a living being.

[3] Again. Life is ascribed to certain things in as much as they seem to be set in motion of themselves and not by another. For which reason, things which seem to be moved of themselves, the cause of which movement is not perceived by the unlearned, are described metaphorically as living: for instance we speak of the living water of a flowing source, but not of a tank or stagnant pond; and of ‘quick’-silver, which seems to have a kind of movement. For properly speaking those things alone are themselves in motion, which move themselves, being composed of mover and moved, such as animate beings.

Wherefore such things alone are said to live, while all others are moved by some other thing, either as generating them, or as removing an obstacle, or as impelling them. And since sensible operations are accompanied by movement, furthermore whatever moves itself to its proper operations, although these be without movement, is said to live: wherefore intelligence, appetite and sensation are vital actions. Now God especially works not as moved by another but by Himself, since He is the first active cause. Therefore to live is befitting Him above all.

Notes Self-movement, in this mechanical age, is no longer a complete definition of life of course.

Chapter 98 The God is a living being. (alternate translation)

[1] FROM this it further appears that God is His own life.

[2] For life in a living being is the same as to live expressed in the abstract; just as a running is in reality the same as to run. Now in living things to live is to be, as the Philosopher declares (2 De Anima). For since an animal is said to be living because it has a soul whereby it has existence, as it were by its proper form, it follows that to live is nothing but a particular kind of existence resulting from a particular kind of form. Now God is His own existence, as proved above. Therefore He is His own living and His own life.

[3] Again. Intelligence is a kind of life, as the Philosopher declares (2 De Anima): since to live is the act of a living being. Now God is His own act of intelligence, as we have proved. Therefore He is His own living and His own life…

63 Comments

  1. Sometimes you wonder if Thomas actually did read the Bible.

  2. In here, David Heddle lists his “favorite inviolate laws of internet atheism”. Go read, it is actually very funny. Point 3. reads:

    “3. The Law of the Biblical Knowledge: Atheists in general know more about the bible than Christians—who in fact only read certain parts of their so-called holy book.”

    Atheism, noun athe·ism \??-th?-?i-z?m\: begins with tragedy, ends up in farce. Atheism, noun athe·ism \??-th?-?i-z?m\: the inevitable, inexorable de-evolution from Lucrecius to Hans Erren.

  3. Apologies, the link is, quite obviously, the wrong one. Here it is. The phonographic rendering is also messed up with ?? where symbols should have appeared.

  4. the inevitable, inexorable de-evolution from Lucrecius to Hans Erren.

    Why the ad hom? Running out of arguments perhaps?
    What gets clearer to me with every Summa posting, is that Thomas’ Ideal God is not the God of the Bible.

  5. @Hans Erren:

    “Why the ad hom? Running out of arguments perhaps?”

    Neither have I committed the ad hominem fallacy anywhere neither you have presented any arguments, let alone any that need responding.

  6. swordfishtrombone

    November 29, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    “God Hates Nothing” I don’t blame him, nothing can be so annoying, can’t it? Creating the entire universe without requiring any energy input, being infinitely finely-tuned as well but not even having the common decency to even bother existing – sooo annoying!

  7. If I were omnipotent, I would hate nothing too. Although I imagine that I would still be capable of hating others, otherwise, I wouldn’t be omnipotent, would I?

    Oh…no, I would hate to be a mortal, powerless being. I spoke too soon; Q in Star Trek just came to mind.

  8. G. Rodrigues would you then care to elaborate your phrase:

    Atheism, noun athe·ism \??-th?-?i-z?m\: the inevitable, inexorable de-evolution from Lucrecius to Hans Erren.

    Ps I am not a native english speaker so I may not fathom your eloquence.

  9. I doubt that the God of the Theist is capable of Hate in the same sense that the Jedi of the Atheist are incapable of revenge. 😉

    But more seriously, much like Infinity, Nothing is an abstraction that actually points to… nothing. It certainly cannot be a logical or mathematical entity. A universe that has been designed, and since our universe follows rules — it has design — cannot have “nothing” in it. Especially since we have no idea what “nothing” is.

    Queue the usual nitwit to jump up and down declaring that there are a million mathematical formulations of “nothing”, which of course, is a confusion with zero, which is not the same thing as nothing. If mathematics does reduce to logic, there can only be true and false, not true, false and neither.

  10. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 29, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Thomas’ Ideal God is not the God of the Bible.

    And no one is more an expert on the God of the Bible than our Hans.

  11. “since our universe follows rules — it has design”

    Why?

    JMJ

  12. Too many wise men here: “the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” Isaiah 29:14

    This chapter is a simple exercise in logic, a proof, starting with assumptions that logically compel a conclusion.

    Atheists cannot be said to be anything. They are a not-thing. Some may know the bible, others the Koran, and yet others the Lord of the Rings, but not because they are “atheist”.

    Anti-theists are not atheists. Anti-theists have carefully studied what they hate, and in order to hate it must believe it! They have as much faith in their belief system as any priest has in his. A simple test is to ask an atheist to describe this God they believe does not exist. An anti-theist can describe this god precisely but it will be a “straw god” largely of his making. A real atheist will consider the question silly; how can there be a definition of a thing that does not exist?

    I knew a LOT more about the bible than my Lutheran grandmother and yet her charity, the thing that God loves, was greater than mine. Knowing words but not living the intent of those words (faith, hope, charity) is a bad combination.

  13. “Anti-theists have carefully studied what they hate, and in order to hate it must believe it!”

    No, obviously they hate the theist’s, not the theology. One can believe that theists exist but consider the theology implausible.

    “A real atheist will consider the question silly; how can there be a definition of a thing that does not exist?”

    In exactly the same way an atheist or a theist can precisely describe a unicorn, yet neither group believe unicorns exist, nor do they necessarily consider the question silly.

  14. ““since our universe follows rules — it has design”
    Why?”

    Lots of good books on cosmology that target the casual reader can help you out there.

  15. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 29, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    “since our universe follows rules — it has design” — Why?

    A “rule” in nature basically means that a thing acts toward an end, or equilibrium state. For example, mechanical systems move toward a point of minimal gravitational potential. A Belusov reaction moves between two equilibria. A tiger cub matures into a tiger, not a tiger lily. A species of things evolves toward greater aptness (“ad-apt”) in its niche. And so on.

    Things lacking intellect cannot order other things to an end.

    There is no intellect in nature.

  16. Rules in nature are described mathematically, they cannot be described any other way for any system that is even slightly complex. Maths does not desire ends. 2 plus 2 does not desire to be 4. The belief in desires and ends stems from the ancients who believed in animism but had reasonable excuses for doing so, and modern day cranks, who have none.

    Machines can follow rules and create order from disorder. Because ends are not required, intellects are not required to order them. This is of course difficult for those with no education in maths or engineering or practical science to understand. What such people believe is derived from their ignorance in combination with their personal sense of incredulity.

  17. Nice attempt of framing michael, care to explain how the biblical narrative proves that god does not hate? Everybody can analyse the logic in a book. A clear example would be the Jacob -Esau love-hate.

  18. Revelation 14:9-11, King James Version (KJV)

    …If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,

    The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels…

    And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

  19. “First, from the fact that God in loving things, and willing their good to be, wills the contrary evil not to be.”

    Liberals cannot understand this. For those that genuinely believe in God, they see his love as all-encompassing, totalistic in its application to the material creation. Yet if God loves everything then this love becomes essentially meaningless.

  20. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 30, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Rules in nature are described mathematically, they cannot be described any other way for any system that is even slightly complex.

    Where can I find Darwin’s Equations?

    Maths does not desire ends. 2 plus 2 does not desire to be 4.

    Where on earth did you get “desires”?

    The belief in desires and ends…

    Don’t mix the two. A sentient being may desire an end, but the desire is not the end, and for non-sentient beings, there is no desire whatsoever. This lioness may desire to chase and eat that gazelle, but this rock does not “desire” to achieve the lowest possible gravitational potential. Nonetheless, the law of gravity works consistently toward the same end and can be described with mathematical precision.

    …stems from the ancients who believed in animism but had reasonable excuses for doing so, and modern day cranks, who have none.

    Actually, they believed that nature works always toward an end because they could see nature working toward an end. Rocks always fall downward, never up or sideways. Sand and fire make glass, not cotton candy. Puppies mature into dogs, not dogwoods. That is, they saw that nature is orderly. Because they had no concept of a machine to use as a metaphor, they concluded that the universe was organic; i.e., finality –> organic model, not organic–>finality.
    The medievals rejected the organic model because it required a host of nature-gods, dryads, nymphs, and so on. They disenchanted the world. Aquinas noted that while Nature acted towards ends, there was, as you agree, no intellect, no “desire” in Nature. That’s why he concluded that natural laws in nature requires something outside nature.
    During the machine age, the dominant metaphor was mechanical. This reached its peak in the 19th century before Heisenberg and his pals blew it up. Now we are working with a software metaphor that resurrects formal causation.

    Machines can follow rules and create order from disorder. Because ends are not required, intellects are not required to order them.

    Machines are artifacts, not natural things. Someone must design and build them, and you cannot design and build a machine without some end in mind. Ditto for the rules/software they follow. Try writing a program without any particular output in mind.

    This is of course difficult for those with no education in maths or engineering or practical science to understand.

    Oh, bother. Perhaps I should hand in my masters degree in mathematics and de-publish my paper.* But what to do with twenty-some odd years working with engineers, chemists, and others on applied statistics and problem-solving? (I admit I took only four semesters of physics.) Maybe I should have chucked it all and gone into computer programming instead.

    (*) “Universal Range Spaces and Function Space Topologies,” fwiw.

  21. Ye Olde Statistician commented, in response to Jersey McJones:

    “since our universe follows rules — it has design” — Why?

    The fact of “design” is easily inferred even if only from an anthropic principle. What is not proven thereby is the existence of a designer. I will have a bit more to write on that thinking in a subsequent post if I get a round tuit.

    The big question is the existence of the Designer.

    “Things lacking intellect cannot order other things to an end.”

    Incorrect. The sun orders the orbits of the planets, they in turn order the orbits of their moons.

    “There is no intellect in nature.”

    Not a lot being shown here in these comments. To the extent that I am a part of nature and I have intellect, clearly you are mistaken as to the existence of intellect in nature.

  22. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 30, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    “Things lacking intellect cannot order other things to an end.”
    Incorrect. The sun orders the orbits of the planets, they in turn order the orbits of their moons.

    That’s begging the question. Would you say the hammer orders the nail? Or the chisel orders the statue? Gravity is instrumental.

  23. Will Nitschke writes: “2 plus 2 does not desire to be 4.”

    Oh? And how exactly is this to be known?

    At any rate, “2” has no existence except as an abstraction in your mind. If I have two apples and I add two apples, do I have four apples? Not necessarily. They might not be mine in which case I might be viewing four apples but I don’t have four apples. But is “4” a property of the apples? No. That concept exists only in my mind. I presume, but cannot be completely certain, that the apples do not know or care about nearby apples, thus the grouping and numbering is a purely anthropic principle. In this sense, 2 plus 2 might very well desire to be 4 if you so desire it.

    “The belief in desires and ends stems from the ancients who believed in animism but had reasonable excuses for doing so, and modern day cranks, who have none.”

    You assume the existence of an Authority to whom one must seek forgiveness from transgression. This is codified in the Lord’s Prayer. Clearly you accept the existence of Authority as otherwise the very thought of “reasonable excuses” becomes absurd. Who is your Authority? To whom do you turn to excuse your transgression?

    “Machines can follow rules and create order from disorder. Because ends are not required, intellects are not required to order them. This is of course difficult for those with no education in maths or engineering or practical science to understand.”

    I think what is missing is an understanding of YOU. Machines are almost always designed with an “end required”, a knitting machine is design to knit socks, hats or other articles of clothing. That is its end, its purpose.

    “What such people believe is derived from their ignorance in combination with their personal sense of incredulity.”

    Fuzzy thinking. Who are “such people”? How can you derive anything from ignorance? It is not possible to derive something from nothing, and ignorance is a word for nothing (in the realm of knowledge). Is there any other kind of incredulity besides personal? I have five senses, maybe six, but I do not number “indredulity” in that list. Maybe it isn’t a “sense”.

    Maybe English isn’t your native language in which case forgive some of my own judgemental attitude.

    If you have a specific belief, and/or a specific person, that you wish to discuss let us proceed to it.

  24. Hans Erren writes: “care to explain how the biblical narrative proves that god does not hate?”

    That is a fool’s errand, an impossible task. The bible proves nothing other than its own existence. The topic under discussion is a purely logical exercise that does not require reference to the bible. It is a variation of Descartes cogito ergo sum.

    Logic:

    Everything exists because of God.
    Nothing exists that God did not will to exist.
    God will not will into existence anything that he hates.
    Thus everything now existing are things he did not hate.

    Correctly attacking this sequence requires to challenge the assumptions at the beginning. Since a certain amount of circularity and anthropic principle intrudes, the assumptions cannot themselves be proven or disproven.

    However, the logic can be reversed. If you DO find something that exists and which God hates, the logic infers that God did not will that particular thing into existence OR for some reason he wills things into existence that he hates, but that changes the meaning of “hate”. These differences are more important than perhaps is obvious; one of the singular differences between Mormons and Catholics (and just about everyone else) hinges upon that very point — the creation of Evil/devil.

    “Everybody can analyse the logic in a book.”

    How I wish that were so!

  25. Mark Citadel writes “Yet if God loves everything then this love becomes essentially meaningless.”

    In the binary thinking of many people, this is exactly the case. It is all love or all hate, no nuances, no ability to prefer one thing to another; no recognition that love is only one of many traits worthy of consideration. A mother will presumably always love her children but might not LIKE some of them that abuse her and with some regret, but also out of love, put them into an institution.

    A great love for Boy Scouts requires to let them suffer a bit, to learn important lessons about being cold and wet at a young age that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. Coddling them, which many seem to mistake for love, dooms them someday to problems you won’t be there to prevent or solve.

  26. Ye Olde Statistician writes: “Would you say the hammer orders the nail? Or the chisel orders the statue? Gravity is instrumental.”

    A good point; yes. The hammer orders the nail, and someone orders the hammer. The sun orders the orbits of its planets, the planets order the orbits of their moons; but the sun itself is ordered by its galaxy with a black hole at the center, the galaxy in turn is ordered by its cluster and supergroup, and so on, right back to the beginning — but was it really the beginning? I don’t know and fortunately I think it doesn’t really matter much. I am intrigued that spending 9 billion dollars on a Large Hadron Collider pushes back understanding a few milliseconds closer to the Big Bang; but if it really is a singularity, then nothing can be learned what came before the Big Bang.

    Keep in mind that I happily use any kind of logic, including conspicuously bad logic, when I am arguing with the same kind of thing. Does 2 + 2 *want* to be 4? Well, maybe it does; what is the proof that it does not?

    So when people argue from assumed but not proven premises, it is interesting and sometimes entertaining to challenge the assumptions and choose the unlikely possibility, the road less traveled. The entire argument then collapses for lack of foundation. Whatever point was trying to be made by creating a straw-man argument is now going to have to proceed with at a new straw-man.

    When you strip all conclusions and stick to just the facts, and that would include claims of facts (ie, testimony), not a lot is left, but more than nothing. I believe in two gods. One is the one I know for sure; but I know very little about him. The other is the one defined by my church; considerably more comprehensive but is not what I know for sure. The church can defend itself; I will defend what I know for sure.

  27. Will Nitschke:
    Define your unicorn!
    mine’s bigger than yours.
    If we all agreed in the exact definitions then we could correctly construct the premise and we would always agree on the answers because not to would be absurd.
    Numbers are just shorthand, sorry to seem insulting.
    Something is not more true because it’s written in English as opposed to French.
    With lose language and insufficient numbers no wonder people argue.
    Science does not negate God.
    “nothing can come of nothing, speak again”
    “nothing?”…end of conversation and the universe.
    Nothing doesn’t exist!
    Just saying.

  28. “Where can I find Darwin’s Equations?”

    Evolutionary game theory would be a good start.

    “Where on earth did you get “desires”?”

    Ah yes, the rhetorical word games of the nincompoop.

    “Machines are artifacts, not natural things. Someone must design and build them, and you cannot design and build a machine without some end in mind. Ditto for the rules/software they follow. Try writing a program without any particular output in mind.”

    Machines are made of natural things and are just as natural as everything else in the world. A distinction without a distinction. Here is a little thought experiment for you. If everyone on the planet died in, say, a global warming holocaust, would the machines still do what they were built to do? Or would they cease to function because human minds ceased to exist?

    The question was: is telos required in nature? The answer is no. Since you cannot argue the point — yet insist on maintaining this ludicrous claim — you inevitably play bait and switch. You want to talk about the designer of the system, if there is one, not how the rules operate. Once one can dispense with the idiocy of telos, then one can talk about the nature of design. In the same way, one cannot proceed to calculus if you haven’t learnt basic maths.

    I don’t believe someone can be utterly ignorant of the last three hundred years of modern science and mathematics and claim to have some sort of education in the subject. But this is not impossible. As I’ve often said, these days, sadly, so called technical people seem largely to be taught recipes by rote, and the only skills they require in qualifying is to have a good memory to past tests. Most are, regrettably, ignoramuses. (I have 30+ years maths and engineering background and a university level science education. But that in and of itself, means nothing unless one has also endeavoured to study and understand modern philosophy. The most foolish of all are often most highly technically educated, because they think because their technical education was, well, technical, they have acquired the magical ability to understand those things they have not studied.) Anyway, the reason why I do not believe you have any reasonable grasp of what you’re talking about is because you demonstrate no knowledge.

  29. Joy,

    “Define your unicorn!”

    It’s a white horse with a Narwhal Whale horn on its head. If you’re complaining there is no ‘exact’ definition of a unicorn then so what? There is no exact definition of a horse, either. All horses are slightly different from one another.

  30. “You assume the existence of an Authority to whom one must seek forgiveness from transgression.”

    The Authority is the community of modern scholars, not God, sadly, as you’d hoped.

    This nonsense about nature being ‘ordered’ is the usual nonsense, at least in the sense it is being used here, which is merely some flavour of everything-in-its-place exercised by the power of Will. The planets revolving around the sun is offered as proof of this order. And the chemical reaction that ignites dynamite… orders what? Hence, one offers a disproof to this silly thesis.

  31. Will Nitschke writes: “The Authority is the community of modern scholars, not God, sadly, as you’d hoped.”

    You write well; your mind reading is dismal. I have anticipated your left wing leaning although of course my anticipation is inconsequential. Nearly all people bend a knee to an Authority; the left wing is revealed by that bent knee to GROUP as if a group acts as a single mind and thus can be an Authority.

    “Community of modern scholars”? That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen all day. There is no community. Y’all are at each other’s throats 7 days a week hurling ancient Greek words such as “telos” as weapons.

    But the left wing is about hive and herd; imagining that a herd can be its own Authority — but as George Orwell explains, some are more equal than others. So, who in this community of modern scholars is your Authority? The person that you believe has the One True Understanding of, say, “telos”?

  32. Michael your absent minded rambling are little tiresome. Firstly, I’m not ‘left wing’ – probably closer to the opposite, if you choose to use such categories. So your powers of perception are rather dismal. This is a philosophical discussion also, so please stay focused or stay out or be ignored. Ignorance is also not a substitute for argument. Try publishing a paper in a reasonably healthy research field such as physics, ‘debunking’ Einstein’s special theory or relativity, and see what that non-existent community of scholars does to your career.

  33. Michael has summarised it nicely: “God” “hates” “nothing”.

    Where we again are witnessing the so well known Thomistic redefinition of meanings of words.

    Case closed.

  34. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 30, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    “Where can I find Darwin’s Equations?”
    Evolutionary game theory would be a good start.

    You’re kidding, right? Consider Newton’s equations (and their Einsteinian expansion). You can use them to make skillful predictions of actual location and motion of macro bodies. Ditto for Maxwell’s equations, relating to electrical charge; Boyle’s and Charles’ laws for volume and pressure of a gas; and so on. Where are the equations for taking a species and calculating its successors– before you know the answers.

    “Where on earth did you get “desires”?”
    Ah yes, the rhetorical word games of the nincompoop.

    No fooling. I mentioned that things in nature work toward an end — giving examples from physics, chemistry, and biology — and you start talking about “desires.” Why are you changing the subject?

    Machines are made of natural things and are just as natural as everything else in the world. A distinction without a distinction.

    A natural thing develops by its own internal logic. The parts of an artifact do not come together naturally but must be put together by a force. The inability to distinguish between a natural thing and an artifact puts you in a camp with Michael Behe and his mousetrap. The distinction is important.
    To be made of natural things does not make something a natural thing. That is the fallacy of composition. You may be thinking “material” rather than “natural.”

    If everyone on the planet died in, say, a global warming holocaust, would the machines still do what they were built to do? Or would they cease to function because human minds ceased to exist?

    Once there was no one to maintain them, they would eventually cease– run out of fuel, lubricant dries up, batteries die, etc. But even if they continued to operate for a time, their finality would still be only a derived finality stemming from the intentions of the designer and builder.

    The question was: is telos required in nature? The answer is no.

    So dynamic systems have no equilibrium manifolds? There are no attractor basins? Natural selection can make dogs out of cats? Combining sodium and chlorine can make daffodils instead of salt? You cannot have an efficient cause A–>B unless there is something in A that “points toward” B. Otherwise, A can lead to anything.

    I don’t believe someone can be utterly ignorant of the last three hundred years of modern science and mathematics and claim to have some sort of education in the subject.

    The scientific revolution shifted the study of nature from a kind of art appreciation to the goal of power and domination (in the words of Descartes and Bacon). Science changed from the handmaiden of philosophy to being the handmaiden of science and industry. To “master and dominate” Nature required a focus specifically on those aspects of Nature that were measurable and controllable, hence Descartes’ mathematical program. (If physics can be expressed in the language of mathematics, he believed, physical theories could be proven with the same certainty as mathematical theorems. Then along came Heisenberg, Popper, and the rest of the spoilsports.) But this simply defined Nature as that part of Nature that is measurable and controllable. Consequently, as Heisenberg pointed out, “what we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” (Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science)

  35. Will:
    Two people of any persuasion will not evidently precisely describe a unicorn. There’s no need to involve the horse.
    My unicorn is most definitely pink so I have shown that your statement was false.
    Near enough is not good enough when claiming the ultimate description of the universe.
    To pitch science against God’s existence is a false argument, an insult to both and born of overconfidence.
    The appeal to authority won’t stand. The simple argument must stand on it’s own.

  36. My last comment was a bit rushed, I will try to approach it more “scholarly”.

    Will Nitschke wrote: “The Authority is the community of modern scholars, not God, sadly, as you’d hoped.”

    I accept this in the sense that a community can achieve consensus on something, in fact consensus must exist for the word “community” to mean something.

    So what common element defines a community of scholars? The answer is embedded in the definition; all it takes to belong to that community is to be a scholar, and the certificate of that is your college degree.

    So what else do they have in common? Anything? Probably not.

    Since the context might have been forgotten, I will restate your comment:

    “The belief in desires and ends stems from the ancients who believed in animism but had reasonable excuses for doing so, and modern day cranks, who have none.”

    Putting these together, you suggest that I need to plead my case, to seek an excuse from, “the community of modern scholars”. To be sure, if I wished to remain in the good graces of that community, there’s a great many dogmas to subscribe to, including Global Warming and, it appears, atheism or anti-theism, world peace, social justice and Government Grants (spending Other People’s Money which isn’t yours anyway because You Didn’t Build That).

    Christianity proclaims God as the ultimate authority but that is symbolic or figurative since he cannot be produced on demand. So you end up with a Person that represents God and a great many people that claim it but obviously not all can be telling the truth (it is more likely all are NOT telling the whole truth save only one and that’s hardly guaranteed).

    This is, to me, a fundamental difference between right and left (and libertarian and anarchist). The left virtualizes the role of Authority, it becomes fuzzy, it becomes fashion — everyone is doing it so it becomes “right”. It is why nearly all the corporation haters at Occupy Wall Street had iPhones. Everyone needs an iPhone because everyone else has an iPhone. Baaa!

    The right wing prefers a focused, real, living breathing Person that represents final authority. Whether he is “right” is almost irrelevant, he is the authority and so long as everyone drives on the same side of the street, it hardly matters whether it is the right side or the wrong side.

    Narcissists are their own Authority and wish all others to obey and show allegiance. Libertarians distribute authority far and wide; you can be an authority over your areas of expertise while someone else is an authority over something else.

    “This nonsense about nature being ‘ordered’ is the usual nonsense, at least in the sense it is being used here, which is merely some flavour of everything-in-its-place exercised by the power of Will.”

    While I disagree with it being nonsense, I would agree with an assertion of futility should you care to make that observation.

    Maybe things were willed into existence, maybe they just distilled from the Big Bang and maybe all Big Bangs produce the same cosmic constants and maybe they don’t. Can we tell? No of course not; we are a product of that process and thus cannot step outside the process to see it.

    “The planets revolving around the sun is offered as proof of this order. And the chemical reaction that ignites dynamite… orders what? Hence, one offers a disproof to this silly thesis.”

    The chemical reaction that ignites dynamite reveals… I know the concept but my chemistry was quite a long time ago and I’ve forgotten the proper word for it — an excitation potential sufficient to break some bonds that are weak and re-attach to bonds that will be stronger, but the atoms do not know that a stronger bond is available until they are excited enough to discover it.

    Hydrogen and oxygen atoms can happily co-exist in gaseous state without combining until an ignition source causes enough vibration to that the hydrogen and oxygen atoms discover each other and bind more strongly, releasing energy which excites neighboring molecules to separate and recombine as water.

    So the order is revealed in part by the Periodic Table of the Elements, in particular the electronegativity. How did each element obtain its particular value of electronegativity? Was it by Will or Accident?

    I’m of the opinion that it is *both*. The bible says the Earth brought forth all living things; God’s involvement was to pronounce it “good”. That creates enormous wiggle room for just how involved God might be, ranging from almost uninvolved to imagining every single atom into existence.

    Can we tell? No. In fact, no proof exists we were not imagined into existence yesterday. But that leads to futility nor does it matter. Many people have shaped my thoughts and I shape others — your character is revealed by what you do with the knowledge you have. If there is an ultimate judge, and if this life is just a test of character, well then what difference does it make?

    Still, if I were absolutely positively certain (a nearly impossible level of certainty) that there was no God, no judge, no afterlife; well then my responses in this life would probably, but not necessarily, be quite different; for I have chosen behaviors because of my religion. These behaviors I believe are good and honorable but I see many people obtaining advantage by not being good or honorable.

    But it is all moot, for I know there is a God; I just don’t know how particular he is about what I do.

  37. Will Nitschke “…and see what that non-existent community of scholars does to your career.”

    I do not bend a knee to a community of scholars. I am glad that many such communities exist finding knowledge but they are not my authority.

    “Firstly, I’m not ‘left wing’ – probably closer to the opposite”

    Unlikely. Is there such a thing as a right wing community of scholars? Probably not. Can there be such a thing? Probably not. Obviously it depends somewhat on what one means by the words. I use as a “tell” indications of a virtual authority that exists as an emergent property of a group; that no member of the group is an authority but the group collectively IS somehow suddenly an authority; a type of magic that aligns herring and herds.

    Most scholars live on the public dime; either taxes, tuitions, government grants or combinations. Competition is intense and job security almost non-existent and fickle. So who would be attracted to it? Those that have no business acumen or desire (me, for instance). I should be a left-winger. But I am also attracted to structure. As it happens the Vietnam war intruded and made most of my choices for me. The left is all about ordered society; its problem is lack of single point of authority.

    The right wing determines authority by force of arms. Whoever is strongest and can impose his will on others is the authority. He may not remain there for very long, a problem Rosseau examines in his writings about social contract. A society that binds right and wrong to something that transcends a human lifetime will thus last longer than those bound to a particular person. In the United States, that transcendental document is the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; but the D of I depends heavily upon “God” — all men were created equal. If they are not “created” they cease also to be “equal”.

    I propose Libertarians use skill as the decider of authority. Ansel Adams is recognized as an authority in photography and his certificate is his work. In the realm of science I recognize many authorities in their specialties; I have on my desk right now “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out” by Richard Feynman.

    “if you choose to use such categories. So your powers of perception are rather dismal.”

    As are yours. But that is the purpose of conversation.

    In this context, the purpose of identifying Authority and “wing” is relevant as nearly all anti-theists seem to be left wing, and yet each has an Authority; but it is nebulous, flowing, unstable; what is obligatory today may be wrong tomorrow and illegal after that; conversely what was illegal 40 years ago is suddenly legal and may become a social norm, if not exactly mandatory.

    How can a society exists when the rules change every generation? I propose it cannot; it will be many societies immiscible like water and oil; war would break out if ever the water and oil separated such that a clear division could be made. The Soviet Union had that problem; too much diversity, no national identity or society.

    You MUST have a code of conduct, ethics, right and wrong; it must be universally subscribed to and it must be believed to your innermost consciousness to be right. Religion achieves that; Humanism is an attempt to be a godless religion — a good idea but there must be a WHO, an Authority, and people must subscribe to it, but why would they? What is the promise?

  38. Hans Erren: “Case closed.”

    You didn’t open it, not for you to close it. What you can do is let your prosecution (or defense) “rest” and let the jury decide. The jury is the readers.

  39. Hans Erren writes: “Michael has summarised it nicely: God hates nothing”.

    That well may be true; his response was to create Something. Not sure what or how.

  40. YOS,

    “Where are the equations for taking a species and calculating its successors– before you know the answers.”

    Never heard of Mendel either, apparently. Where are the calculations to predict where a feather blowing in the wind will be in 6 months from now? (Surely nobody can make the sort of idiotic assertions and basic confusions that you are making yet claim to have some sort of scientific background?)

    I also find your style of word play pointless and idiotic. Don’t like the word ‘desire’? Swap it for goal, end-purpose, telos, or any other word you want to pull from the dictionary or your nether regions. It’s all exactly the same nonsense and doesn’t help you in the slightest with your argument.

    ” But even if they continued to operate for a time, their finality would still be only a derived finality stemming from the intentions of the designer and builder.”

    Or in other words, you wish to declare that physics is dependent on telos but can only speak of beginnings and ends. The middle part, where everything actually happens, you continually duck. Of course, obviously.

    “You cannot have an efficient cause A–>B unless there is something in A that “points toward” B. Otherwise, A can lead to anything.”

    Yes, this was what was believed in the 17th century. But you claim you have scientific training? Where is the cause and effect in a mathematical model? Where is the purpose? Does one set of equations seek to be transformed into a new set of values? Causal relations are only ever used in science when the subject matter is poorly understood. I.e. a drug study on a complex organism. As soon as something is well understood, there is no need for causality any more. When engineers build systems and solve complex problems, something I do every day, I work with mathematical relations, not causes & effects. Those of us who build complex systems do not think this way. Self taught bible study teachers in Sunday school, perhaps imagine things work this way.

    Science and engineering is done today the way it is done because it works. It’s not done in the sort of fantasy way that you describe.

  41. Joy,

    “My unicorn is most definitely pink so I have shown that your statement was false.”

    Nope, you’ve just confused yourself. What is the definition of ‘Game’ ?

    If I describe soccer and you describe snooker, is either description wrong? Of course not. But perhaps you’re confusing a description with a definition. I gave a description. My definition would be: “A magical creature that looks like a horse with a Narwhal Whale style horn on its head.”

    Your unicorn can be pink and mine white and we all still know perfectly well what a unicorn is. Although I would expect to have a discussion of this sort with a 10 year old child being introduced to philosophy and not an adult…

  42. YOS,

    Consider a mobile phone. It is made of two primary functional systems. A Turing Machine and a mathematical model. A Turing Machine cannot have any ‘Telos’ in it as it has no ends, causes, will, means, desires, or whatever gibberish here you prefer. Doesn’t matter. A TM by itself, without instruction, does exactly nothing at all.

    We also know the ‘Telos’ is not in the second functional system, the mathematical model that drives the TM. These are only numeric rules. Numbers don’t have wills, desires, ends, causes, or whatever gibberish word you prefer to use.

    So where is it?

    You’ve suggested it came from the maker/designer of the phone. What happens to your iPhone if the designer of the iPhone dies from, say, brain cancer? Presumably all iPhones don’t stop working. Therefore, the ‘Telos’ which is a kind of magical pixie dust, transfers itself, using some sort of voodoo, into the phone, passed to it by its creator, where it resides indefinitely or until the machine is destroyed.

    So since we know the ‘Telos’ is not in the TM or the mathematical functions, nor in its creator who no longer exists, where is it? It’s not needed to explain the operation of the phone. We have a complete description of everything the phone can and will do, without appeals to this pixie dust. It’s not, apparently, an observable or measurable thing. It’s within the phone, like other forms of pixie dust, because you believe it is there. That is ultimately what this is all about, correct?

  43. Michael:

    Hans Erren: “Case closed.”

    You didn’t open it, not for you to close it. What you can do is let your prosecution (or defense) “rest” and let the jury decide. The jury is the readers

    You are mistaken, Aquinas did the closure himself. Aquinas does not apply logic in this apologetic work. It is a careful construct of the Ideal God. This God by definition does not hate. Unfortunately there is a lot of hate related bloodletting and suffering in the Holy Scripture. Hence the Ideal God is not based on the Scripture but solely on the apologetic motives of Aquinas.

  44. Adults should be able to discuss the subject of unicorns without resorting to insults.
    You miss the whole point.
    My unicorn isn’t magic.
    You need to know a lot more about my unicorn. You are too confident!
    You chose to mention unicorns I picked you up on an obvious false statement and now you imply that unicorns are for 10 year olds?

  45. Will Nitschke writes: “Therefore, the ‘Telos’ which is a kind of magical pixie dust, transfers itself, using some sort of voodoo, into the phone, passed to it by its creator, where it resides indefinitely or until the machine is destroyed.”

    Yes, this seems about right, although it does not transfer itself any more than the phone into which it is transferred created itself. A phone’s purpose is not known to the phone (presumably) but nevertheless is there.

  46. Hans Erren writes: “It is a careful construct of the Ideal God. This God by definition does not hate.”

    Well stated! All descriptions are necessarily idealized to varying degree.

    I have used similar logical exercises in the distant past to imagine alien species in science fiction. My attempt to be published was doomed but the exercise worthwhile. My thinking was that “evil aliens” would never get off the ground; the degree of social cooperation required is enormous and will not be found among species too preoccupied each with himself. But for drama, I allowed for the possibility of them unwisely allowing their technology to fall into the hands of others not as socially cooperative or “good”.

  47. Joy writes: “You chose to mention unicorns I picked you up on an obvious false statement and now you imply that unicorns are for 10 year olds?”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089469/ Tom Cruise in “Legend” featuring a white unicorn with narwhal horn. I doubt it was aimed at 10 year old children, especially the longer international version which is the one I saw first.

  48. Michael 2 & will
    No, mine’s pink.
    It is premises which are debated here if we agree on the premise we agree on the conclusion and there’s nothing clever about agreeing on arithmetic.. The obvious premises about the universe can never be defined or described accurately.

    It’s wise to make true statements before making overt claims of superiority can we agree on that?
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-17/linkedin-s-hoffman-says-half-of-tech-unicorns-may-not-thrive

    Bloomberg’s as we speak!
    I hope they don’t start a row unicorns can be controversial.

  49. The obvious.. ” sentence should start
    “Obviously premises…”

  50. “The God hates nothing, nor can the hatred of anything be ascribed to Him. … Therefore God hates not anything…”
    – So says St. Thomas….

    But the Bible says quite explicitly otherwise:

    Proverbs 6:16-19 New International Version (NIV)

    16 There are six things the Lord HATES,
    seven that are detestable to him:
    17 haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
    feet that are quick to rush into evil,
    19 a false witness who pours out lies
    and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

  51. Joy writes “It’s wise to make true statements before making overt claims of superiority can we agree on that?”

    I’m not sure but I am also not wise.

    Some people start with a claim of superiority (narcissists for instance) and make no special effort to make true statements. I don’t consider them wise but they can be smart and clever until their world collapses for lack of true and faithful friends.

    I’m aware of the possibility that wisdom might call for some cleverness maybe even deception at times.

    Since this is taking place in the context of religion I am reminded of several instances of strategic misrepresentation or at least dodging that seems to have not produced heavenly correction, starting with Abraham misrepresenting his wife as his sister. That might actually be true but the intention was to misrepresent her relationship to Abraham.

    The pharisees tried to trick Jesus a few times and he dodged the questions artfully, such as the “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”. Jesus also advised to be cunning as serpents but harmless as doves in conjunction with the parable of the servant who upon learning he was about to be fired, invited his master’s debtors to come and have their debts reduced; so that when he was fired, he had made “friends from among the children of mammon”.

    Moses sent spies to Canaan presumably they did not go around announcing their true identity and allegiance.

    There’s a bit of a gap between full disclosure always telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and bearing false witness. One might choose to bear no witness at all, for instance.

    Wisdom is probably seeking a worthy goal and not letting little obstacles derail the worthy goal. These obstacles can be obedience to a lesser law, carefully arranged to make you choose which law of God to disobey; so having some sense of situational ethics seems “wise”.

    Adam faced such a test. Eve was about to be exiled from the Garden of Eden, meaning Adam could stay there, perhaps forever, but unable to fulfill the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. He was in a position where he could not obey all of God’s commands, so he considered which was the more important — creating life and filling the earth seems to have been God’s purpose, therefore that is the purpose to be honored even at the price of disobeying other commandments.

    In the game of chess, one such trap is called a “fork” because it is a doom from which there is no escape and it is somewhat difficult to see it coming; even worse when you do see it coming but cannot stop it. What makes it a fork is the rules of the game. Any time you have rigid rules it creates a boundary, fence, cage or box and someone can push you up against that box with no room to move.

    Wise is perhaps to anticipate these possibilities and have already worked out what one will do.

    Another example is Peter denying Jesus three times. Jesus told Peter this would happen, before it happened. Well, when it happened Peter felt terrible, and yet, he was also given permission or justification; for Jesus knew it in advance and did not tell Peter what to say or do nor condemn Peter. What Peter did is what needed to be done. He still felt terrible about it.

    But since I am not wise I cannot advise others what is wise; for even if I knew, I would know it only for me, and not for you.

  52. Ken “But the Bible says quite explicitly otherwise”

    Ah yes, pit bible against bible. A fun game but futile, although in the attempt one might find wisdom, nuances of the word “hate” for instance.

    Speaking of nuances, I note that you are not speaking of God, but instead are speaking of the Lord:

    “16 There are six things the Lord HATES”

    So the Lord hates some things but God does not.

    My feeling is that there is nothing existing that God hates, but there is plenty existing he doesn’t want in his house. I am similar in that regard. I don’t hate you for smoking but I won’t have it in my house. It creates a social separation.

  53. Ye Olde Statistician

    December 1, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    But the Bible says quite explicitly otherwise:

    Don’t we all love Bible-thumpers like Ken?

  54. Ye Olde Statistician

    December 1, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    “Where are the equations for taking a species and calculating its successors– before you know the answers.”
    Where are the calculations to predict where a feather blowing in the wind will be in 6 months from now? (Surely nobody can make the sort of idiotic assertions and basic confusions that you are making yet claim to have some sort of scientific background?)

    Who was it who wrote:
    Rules in nature are described mathematically, they cannot be described any other way for any system that is even slightly complex.
    I simply asked where are Darwin’s Equations, for surely Darwin enunciated a rule, one taken by many as basic to all biology, and surely then it must be “described mathematically” and “cannot be described in any other way.” So I simply asked for the mathematical description.

    Never heard of Mendel either, apparently.

    Surely. He was the Augustinian monk (trained as a physicist, natch) who introduced designed experiments into biology as part of his monastery’s research program to improve agricultural output. He saved the Darwinian bacon by providing a “digital” model for inheritance to replace the then-dominant “analog” model. For so long as scientists believed that offspring inherited a blend of the “blood” of the parents, they could not believe in Darwinism, since new traits would be “diluted out” within a few generations. But the mathematics of Mendel’s genetics modeled inheritance, not natural selection and speciation.
    You will also find math used in biophysics and biochemistry.

    Don’t like the word ‘desire’? Swap it for goal, end-purpose, telos, or any other word you want to pull from the dictionary or your nether regions.

    An accurate word is always better for an argument than mixing words that have different meanings. “Telos” does not mean “desire.” “Purpose” is one of three kinds of telos; there are others. An “end” is not necessarily an “end purpose.” This may be why you have persistently misunderstood the nature of “telos” and say silly things like “2 plus 2 does not desire to be 4.”

    But even if [machines] continued to operate for a time, their finality would still be only a derived finality stemming from the intentions of the designer and builder.
    Or in other words, you wish to declare that physics is dependent on telos

    Physics is a construct of the human mind. Natures have teloi. These show up in the physics in the form of equilibrium manifolds, in chemistry as completions, in biology as adaptations and other such states.

    The middle part, where everything actually happens, you continually duck.

    I confess I do not understand what you mean by this “middle part.” Surely, a machine is built for some purpose. It’s an artifact. And so long as it continues to operate it is achieving that purpose. But the machine itself has purpose only insofar as the human or beaver or other designer has built it in order to do something.

    “You cannot have an efficient cause A–>B unless there is something in A that “points toward” B.
    Yes, this was what was believed in the 17th century. But … Where is the cause and effect in a mathematical model? etc.

    A mathematical model is not a thing in nature. Mathematics is not physics. The cause of the model is the mathematician. The effect is the output the model provides.

    Does one set of equations seek to be transformed into a new set of values?

    Seek? That’s silly. Equations are abstractions, not things. Now, an equation will in fact transform some set of input variables into output variables, but that is only because some intellect has decided that it will. For example, plugging the mean and standard deviation of X into the transfer equations will produce the mean and standard deviation of Y.

    Causal relations are only ever used in science when the subject matter is poorly understood. I.e. a drug study on a complex organism. As soon as something is well understood, there is no need for causality any more

    Then how can you know that when you ignite so many pounds of propellant that the rocket will achieve escape velocity? You have to believe that the propellant somehow causes the rocket to rise. It’s not rocket science…. Okay, actually it is, but work with me here. Similarly, one must believe that the sodium and chlorine cause the salt; that the coitus caused the baby, and so on. The dream of Bacon and Descartes to subordinate science to engineering and industry and harness it to the purpose of creating useful products is impossible under your outlook. Unless A really does cause X, you have no reason to expect that by setting A to some target value or manipulating A you will achieve the desired results on X.
    Al-Ghazali killed natural science in the House of Submission by taking your stance. He said that fire does not cause the cloth to burn. God causes the fire; and God causes the blackening and disintegration of the cloth and it is only the habit of God that one usually follows the other. Hume said the same thing, except he left out the God part. Scientific laws were simply long-standing coincidences. Of course, such correlations could only be used and applied by rote, as you yourself complained in an earlier comment.

    When engineers build systems and solve complex problems, something I do every day, I work with mathematical relations, not causes & effects.

    IOW, you do not deal in the physics, but in mathematical abstractions from the physics. Why do I suspect you are a computer programmer? The physicists I know would not agree. You work with the map, not the territory. However, you must be aware of George E.P. Box’s caution that all mathematical models are wrong, because the actual physical system is always more complex than the model. Ockham’s metaphysical principle tells us to include only as many variables as necessary to obtain useful results. But we are always leaving something out. Hence, the elusive feather blowing in the wind.

    Science and engineering is done today the way it is done because it works.

    IOW, you claim it is purely pragmatic and does not require any understanding of nature itself. You simply take equations and apply them in appropriate circumstances? However, science and engineering still “worked” even when it was done differently. Go figure.

    It’s not done in the sort of fantasy way that you describe.

    Is that why there has been no major breakthrough in physics for a hundred years? But the fact that I do not need A to do B does not mean that A does not exist; only that I don’t find it useful.

  55. Ye Olde Statistician

    December 1, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    A Turing Machine cannot have any ‘Telos’ in it as it has no ends, causes, will, means, desires, or whatever gibberish here you prefer. Doesn’t matter. A TM by itself, without instruction, does exactly nothing at all.

    Consider the word “instruction.” You are introducing telos by the back door.
    (And again, you are confusing telos with “will,” “desire” and other gibberish.)

    So where is it?

    In the mind of those who designed and built the mobile phone. The telos of a mobile phone is to provide communications over a wireless link. (And in fact it is only a part of a larger network of artifacts.) It does not “contain” abstractions; it contains parts and components. Each of these components are in the phone for a purpose, too. Think of the designer’s Main Basic Function. What is the Top Assembly supposed to do. There are also: Secondary Basic Functions: responding to other must-be needs, as well as Nonbasic Beneficial Functions, Supporting Functions, Assisting Functions, Correcting Functions, and the ever-popular Harmful Functions, which are unintended, unwanted, negative actions caused by the method used to achieve a useful function.

    What happens to your iPhone if the designer of the iPhone dies from, say, brain cancer? Presumably all iPhones don’t stop working.

    Again, more silliness. You seem to be far more mystically inclined than you suppose I am. The I-phone has still been built with the purpose of facilitating communications of various sorts. It doesn’t matter if the source has died, since it is accidentally ordered, not essentially ordered. If you like, think of it as a sort of “inertia.”

    the ‘Telos’ which is a kind of magical pixie dust, transfers itself, using some sort of voodoo, into the phone, passed to it by its creator, where it resides indefinitely or until the machine is destroyed.

    You are correct that the phone continues to function as a phone after its designer has died. What’s the big deal? Why do you insist that a design engineer is using “pixie dust” and “voodoo” in designing an artifact for some purpose? Surely, you don’t imagine telos as a substance!

    It’s not needed to explain the operation of the phone.

    Although it is the reason why that assemblage of parts and components is a phone and has those operations. Are you complaining that final causes are not the same kind of thing as efficient causes (which you also deny) or as formal causes (i.e., the mathematical formalism)? We already know that. Perhaps you do not.

    We have a complete description of everything the phone can and will do, without appeals to this pixie dust.

    You implicitly assume telos when you say “everything the phone can and will do.” The phone has been designed in order to do those things. Otherwise, when a number is punched in, why does the assemblage not produce a silk purse? Oh, wait. “Everything the phone can and will do” has been built in by the intent of the designer. You can’t be claiming that the engineer is an automaton, who had no particular grasp of the thing he was designing!

    [Telos is] not, apparently, an observable or measurable thing.

    Right. Sort of like the differential equations describing the vibration of a drumhead can’t be observed or measured. (The vibrations can be observed and measured; but that is physics, not math. The math is abstracted from the physics.)

  56. Unicorns aside, any statement made that attempts to be logical must, by definition, be pure or true from start to finish otherwise it’s a work of literature. Conversely a work of literature is not necessarily by definition a work of pure logic.
    Language is too complex so we use maths (not me of course, I’m an applied maths agnostic.) I mean that statement without sarcasm. I accept it has use but know it has limits.

    My “wise” word was used in accordance with it’s meaning but in fact you illustrate my point. If you/we are prepared to disagree on the premise, (in this case the wise word use) then even a simple statement of logic can become apparently unresolvable! Logic and maths are supposed to stop all ambiguity but the universe is ambiguous, so are unicorns.

    Put it another way and I wasn’t aiming at you Michael.
    one should not shoot the argument in the foot by claiming validity based on an appeal to authority fallacy. That sort of claim turns people off the argument even if it were true.

    Your knowledge of the bible is better than mine but I can’t say I interpret all it’s stories literally. That’s not to say I don’t think there’s truth within them. That was the case before I learnt about evolution at junior school. This is one of the reasons I don’t think it’s fruitful to apply science in it’s reading. It’s not done with shakespeare or Chaucer.
    John Lennox quotes CS Lewis and remarks that atheists tend to approach the bible as more than a work of literature but treat it as less than one.

  57. John Lennox quotes CS Lewis and remarks that atheists tend to approach the bible as more than a work of literature but treat it as less than one.

    If we can’t use the bible as the “Acts of God”, but treat it instead as literature, then all Aquinas’ claims about God are moot.

  58. Ye Olde Statistician

    December 2, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    If we can’t use the bible as the “Acts of God”, but treat it instead as literature, then all Aquinas’ claims about God are moot.

    Except that Aquinas’ conclusions were not based on the Bible.

  59. CS Lewis hit on the problem.
    It is a work of literature. That is separate to whether it is the “work’ or ‘word’ of God, obviously.
    language expresses thought which must be the fourth dimension which describes the second and the third. I can’t help seeing maths as a trap. can’t reach into the dimension which it ultimately wishes to define. That’s a prediction which is forbidden but it has the same validity as the Dawkinses who say that it can and will.
    There is an unending false assertion that faith in God is intellectually inferior or
    worse! immature. I just say they’ve made their minds up too soon, like another Thomas, Hardy in his poem “The Darkling Thrush.” Which is one of the most beautiful pieces of literature that deals with “nothing?”

  60. Joy writes “any statement made that attempts to be logical must, by definition, be pure or true from start to finish otherwise it’s a work of literature.”

    Agreed. Logic works only in the case of mutually accepted premises. Mathematics is a type of numerical logic; methods applied to premises (the starting numbers) but at its most fundamental it still is acceptance on faith and belief that, say, 2 + 2 = 4. I can think of no proof for this, only a demonstration, and a definition; we define “4” by counting out four objects; then demonstrate that you can count out two; then two more, and the result is four. But that works only for persons that can count and accept the meaning of “one”, “two” and so on.

    The space station exists, therefore, because many people believed in their parents and/or first grade teachers who taught them to count.

    “If you/we are prepared to disagree on the premise, (in this case the wise word use) then even a simple statement of logic can become apparently unresolvable!”

    Yes; however that does not eliminate usefulness. Suppose I say “Let x=y. What is x?” I would say, “y”! and you would be none the wiser. But someday this relationship might become important.

    So children are taught algebra even though at that moment in time they probably have no use for it. But they learn the methods.

    Learning the structure of a religion at a young age, as with math, provides a framework of ethics and values that needs only a validation someday. Since it is not possible to prove the nonexistence of God (*) it remains an open question until existence is proven.

    * It is possible to prove the non-existence of certain carefully constructed gods; as for example if you define god as never letting children die, and you observe children die, that kind of a god is disproven to exist.

    “Logic and maths are supposed to stop all ambiguity”

    Deductive logic has that property, but inductive logic does not eliminate ambiguity. Indeed, when you have ambiguity you must use inductive logic if you attempt to approach it.

    Religion is mostly inductive. The visible facts seldom explain their provenance. Consider the challenges to be faced one goldfish trying to prove the existence of “water” to another goldfish. They’re swimming in it, but knowing nothing else, probably haven’t even named this omnipresent substance. A fish might jump out, and in the last moments of its life, say, “ah hah! So that is water, and this is air.”

    Whatever we are IN, we have been in it our entire lives, only upon leaving it can we know for sure what we have been IN. But that’s a one way trip for everyone or nearly everyone (I cannot claim to know whether everyone or nearly everyone is more correct).

    “one should not shoot the argument in the foot by claiming validity based on an appeal to authority fallacy.”

    Appeal to authority is not a fallacy in the case that the authority is either the author of the thing being discussed or adequately trained in a specialty. Hence the word AUTHORity; the author of a particular religion is the undisputable authority thereof.

    “That sort of claim turns people off the argument even if it were true.”

    At times. I have never learned what turns people off, or that there’s a thing that works on everyone in the same way. I have perhaps spent more time learning what turns people on, or hooks them into continuing a conversation. With narcissists its pretty easy and the Peter Principle provides the clue — a challenge, but he must perceive that you are less than he, but not by much; at which point “the only way to lose is not to play” (Willard of ATTP blog restating a phrase made popular in “War Games” movie where the WOPR computer dismisses Tic-Tac-Toe as a meaningful game, saying, “Strange game — the only way to win is not to play.”)

    “Your knowledge of the bible is better than mine but I can’t say I interpret all it’s stories literally.”

    Or to be more precise, you most definitely do not interpret all of its stories literally. Rather a lot of is isn’t meant to be interepreted literally (Proverbs, Psalms, Song of Solomon for instance). The most literal parts are simply the recitations of history and genealogy.

    By a similar token, I don’t take all of the new bible (IPCC SPM’s) as literal truth either, and for the same reason. Both existed, in large part, to service the governments in power at the time.

    “That’s not to say I don’t think there’s truth within them.”

    Yes, that is the challenge. What parts were intended to be true, and are true; what parts were intended to be true but are not true; what parts were never meant to be taken literally, what parts simply don’t translate meaningfully to English, what parts are true and important since quite a lot of it is probably true but not particularly important.

    “That was the case before I learnt about evolution at junior school.”

    I learned about evolution from Life Science Library in second grade (7 years old, and yes, I could read quite well by then). But I didn’t *feel* it until teenage years sitting on a rock that was composed almost entirely of fossils.

    However, I have never learned nor believed in 7, 24-hour days of creation so it wasn’t necessary to unlearn anything. The plain reading of the bible shows no “ex nihilo” creation; the Earth is already here from the very beginning. The story just starts with the creation of life; but who actually creates life? The Earth. Says so right in the bible. Most people seem not to read the plain meaning of the words. God saw that it was good; but it was the Earth that brought forth life.

    Then there was this fellow on Compuserve that explained the Hebrew language doesn’t have a word for “day” in the sense it exists in English; the word used to denote days really denotes the end of one period and the beginning of the next; hinted even in English “the evening and the morning were one day”. I interpret this as “epoch”. Note that the daylight portion is not named, only the darkness that separates one light-period from the next. It is the periods of darkness that defines the advance of “days”.
    http://www.gotquestions.org/evening-morning-Genesis.html

    “This is one of the reasons I don’t think it’s fruitful to apply science in it’s reading. It’s not done with shakespeare or Chaucer.”

    Well, not by you or me. I apply science regularly in my reading of science fiction and if they get the science conspicuously wrong my enjoyment is disturbed.

    Surprising, science CAN be applied to the “true bits” and helps identify them. Consider the story of making a woman out of a man. In modern theory that is actually possible; but you cannot make a man out of a woman.

    Here’s how it would work: You take two stem cells, they exist in bone marrow and so you need a bone you can spare — a rib will do nicely. Take an “X” chromosome from one of the stem cells and replace a “Y” chromosome in the other. You now have XX, and it will grow to be a woman; an exact clone of the man except being a woman. How’s that for equality?

    Also, of all creation myths everywhere, “Let there be light” seems to be unique. It’s also Sumerian. Much mystery there.

    “John Lennox quotes CS Lewis and remarks that atheists tend to approach the bible as more than a work of literature but treat it as less than one.”

    Many atheists are obsessed with the bible. They ought to put as much effort into debunking the Urantia Book. Not much of a challenge I suppose.

  61. Hans Erren writes “If we can’t use the bible as the Acts of God, but treat it instead as literature, then all Aquinas’ claims about God are moot.”

    Your logic does not flow. Perhaps it is missing some steps.

    The problem with your claim is an exclusion principle not demonstrated; being literature does not prevent it, or parts of it, from also being true (or false). Unless of course for you “literature” is synonymous with “fiction” but even then there’s no guarantee that the fiction writer inadvertently described something that actually exists but he didn’t know it to exist.

    Consequently the truth of any claim is independent of the claim, or the style by which the claim is made.

  62. When our goldfish jumped over the side he didn’t utter a word.

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