February 14th, 2014
So, my pal JT told me about this film The Sunset Limited, which is free on YouTube. The whole film takes place in the dank apartment of a subway janitor (Samuel L. Jackson) and a professor (Tommy Lee Jones). The professor is an atheist who tried to jump in front of a train but the janitor stopped him.
The prose begins in the apartment and the rhetoric is fantastic. The whole movie debates morality, the Bible, angels, God, the problem of evil, sin, etc. It’s a conversation and not an academic debate. They each have good points to make, which is why both Christians and atheists should watch it. For instance, the professor says, “Why not give up? God gives up. As far as I know there’s no ministry in hell.” Now, that objection has answers but rhetorically, wow, that’s hot! Also, the story about how the janitor became a believer (spoiler: beats a man badly) and the professor questions if disfiguring a man was worth his belief in God. It’s amazing.
The janitor isn’t the most educated person, scholastically speaking, but he’s very intelligent. Just watch out for his semi-Pelagian switching around in his rhetoric when they discuss original sin and the Bible.
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October 3rd, 2013
Below is the attachment for my lecture on the Fine-Tuning argument and the multiverse lecture PowerPoint. I used this lecture [and updated material] for three years while I was a GA teaching a Philosophy 201 course to no less than 200 students (as well as four individual sections that were assigned specifically to me). It’s time to retire this lecture. If I were teaching it again anytime soon I’d update some of the material but it’s enough to get a good framework for the issues.
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May 8th, 2013
(I’d like to note that someone who is actually making this objection is quite removed from the field of the philosophy of religion.)
Today, we look back on the ancients and ridicule them for thinking that volcanic eruptions were the result of the will of the gods. We now know the geological structure of the planet and how tectonic activity functions and tends to behave in certain areas and layers of the earth. We can see the effect of the volcano’s eruption and extrapolate the causes to the movement of the iron core of the earth. Our scientific knowledge in the field of geology and volcanology have progressed since the ancients. So, has our scientific knowledge of the universe, of all that there is, progressed to the point that we can explain all that there is without having to invoke an uncaused causal agency? First, before one proceeds with any scientific account for an explanation, one must notice the metaphysical aspect of the question. This question is a philosophical question, not a scientific question. Can we extrapolate all causes to have the first cause be self-caused? Using something within the system of “all that there is” to explain the system itself (“all that there is”) is circular. The whole notion is self-defeating.
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April 21st, 2013
Interestingly, there is an argument used by atheists to demonstrate that God is impossible, which picks up on the ontological argument. This argument is traditionally called the reverse ontological argument. Instead of demonstrating that God a maximally great being that exists necessarily, the reverse form is used to demonstrate that God is impossible. To give a context for the atheistic argument here are the two most popular versions of the theistic ontological argument:
The Anselmian Ontological Argument (Theistic)
- God exists in the understanding
- God is a possible being
- If X exists only in the understanding and is a possible being, then X might have been greater
- Suppose God exists only in the understanding
- God might have been greater (2, 4, 3)
- God is a being than which a greater is not possible
- So, a being than which nothing greater is not possible is a being which is greater is possible
- Since 4 led to a contradiction 4 must be false
- God exists not only in the understanding alone—God exists in reality as well
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April 6th, 2013
The fine-tuning argument argues that when physics and the laws of nature are expressed mathematically their values are ever so balanced in a way that permits the existence of life. I’m merely arguing that the universe is finely tuned for the essential building blocks and environments that life requires.
- Given the fine-tuning evidence, a life permitting universe (LPU) is very, very unlikely under the non-existence of a fine-tuner (~FT): that is, P(LPU|~FT & k) ≪ 1.
- Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPU is not unlikely under FT (Fine-Tuner): that is, ~P(LPU|FT & k) ≪ 1.
- Therefore, LPU strongly supports FT over ~FT.
Defense of 1: Given the fine-tuning evidence, a life-permitting universe is very, very unlikely under the non-existence of a fine-tuner.
So what are some of the evidences for fine-tuning?
- Roger Penrose calculates that the odds of the special low entropy condition having come about by chance in the absence of any constraining principles is at least as small as about one in 1010^123.
- Strong Nuclear Force (Strong nuclear force coupling constant, gs = 15)
- +, No hydrogen, an essential element of life
- -, Only hydrogen
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April 5th, 2013
The following argument is an abductive Thomistic cosmological argument from contingency, which I presented at my recent Ratio Christi debate.
- There are contingent constituents to the universe.
- Given the contingent constituents of the universe, the existence of the universe (U) is very, very unlikely under the hypothesis that these constituents are themselves uncaused or self-caused (~Cu): that is, P(U|~Cu & k) ≪ 1.
- Given the contingent constituents of the universe, the existence of the universe is not unlikely under the hypothesis of a first uncaused cause (Cu): that is, ~P(U|Cu & k) ≪ 1.
- Therefore, U strongly supports Cu over ~Cu.
The constituents of the universe include galaxies, planets, stars, cars, humans, leptons, bosons, and other particles. For the constituents of the universe to be uncaused that would mean it is metaphysically necessary. For something to be metaphysically necessary that means that it could not have failed to exist—it exists in every possible world.
For something to be self-caused it must be simultaneously antecedent to itself to produce itself as its own effect. But this contradictory. This would be akin to the ultimate bootstrapping trick.
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