Author Topic: Ed Feser Responds to Richard Dawkins on Thomas’ 5 Ways  (Read 758 times)

Offline Geremia

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3304
  • Thanked: 765 times
    • St. Isidore e-book library
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
 
The following users thanked this post: Habitual_Ritual, Xavier

Offline Michael

  • Vizekorporal
  • **
  • Posts: 148
  • Thanked: 26 times
  • Religion: Atheist
Re: Ed Feser Responds to Richard Dawkins on Thomas’ 5 Ways
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2019, 01:33:21 AM »
I think Feser's case for God relies upon the controversial notion of simultaneous causation. I don't think that's necessary, and perhaps incoherent. In any given instant, everything is fully actual. To cause is to bring something about: A brings about B. But in the given instant, A and B are both there already; there's no need for B to be brought about. The atheist can easily just reject the supposed need for an unactualized actualizer needed in every moment. Each non-initial state is fully accounted for in terms of the previous state.
 

Offline Habitual_Ritual

  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3901
  • Thanked: 961 times
  • Religion: Papist
Re: Ed Feser Responds to Richard Dawkins on Thomas’ 5 Ways
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2019, 08:24:38 AM »
The best take-down of Evolution is via math, ie, statistical probability and the average rates of mutagenic change necessary for evolution to have occurred. We simply do not see any empirical data or evidence indicating the necessary rates of mutation.
Vox Day did some work on this recently.
" There exists now an enormous religious ignorance. In the times since the Council it is evident we have failed to pass on the content of the Faith.”

(Pope Benedict XVI speaking in October 2002.)
 
The following users thanked this post: Maximilian

Online Kreuzritter

  • Wachtmeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 1388
  • Thanked: 952 times
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
Re: Ed Feser Responds to Richard Dawkins on Thomas’ 5 Ways
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2019, 07:16:01 PM »
To cause is to bring something about: A brings about B.

And to "bring" something "about" is to cause it? Hume is rolling with laughter from his grave. Can people really be this stupid? That they think such semantic shenanigans have added something to defining the concept of "causation"?

Or we could just be done with it and accept that our idea of "cause" is abstracted from the immediate experience of our own free spiritual act in the process from intending something, acting upon the intention, and seeing it come to be. "Act" is to "cause" what "subject" is to "object", an experience of the self projected into a conceptual world which is foisted upon the phenomenal one.

But I tire of these discussions. When an atheist can explain how one can get from a point at infinity to a finite point by a completable process or how a material state can actually exist without existing for some length of time, then he can claim the universe has existed for an actually "infinite time" or begin to entertain that the universe may have had an initial state that existed by and for no reason before, by and for some reason within itself, transforming itself into the next at a finite point in time. That's not to say I'm impressed by Feser or Aristotle, but I won't be waiting up for atheists offering solutions to impossibilities..
 

Offline Michael

  • Vizekorporal
  • **
  • Posts: 148
  • Thanked: 26 times
  • Religion: Atheist
Re: Ed Feser Responds to Richard Dawkins on Thomas’ 5 Ways
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2019, 11:43:21 AM »
That they think such semantic shenanigans have added something to defining the concept of "causation"?
I don't claim that's it's an exhaustive definition, but it's the basic idea. I shall be reading some David Lewis and J.L. Mackie and their idea of causation. My main point is that causation has to be temporal -- a state of A brings about the state of B, where B didn't obtain before. If A and B are both there already, then what is causing? A mere mental picture where we imagine that if A were removed, B would be removed too?

Quote
When an atheist can explain how one can get from a point at infinity to a finite point by a completable process
I reject an infinite past. I don't think we'd ever reach the present.

Quote
or how a material state can actually exist without existing for some length of time

How can a thinking mind exist without some length of time? God or no God, there was an initial state of reality that was sufficient to bring about a posterior effect (the next state). That initial state could very well be a necessary one (i.e. all possible worlds share the same initial history, which has that state), or it could be brutely contingent. One may say that if an eternal initial state were sufficient to bring about the effect, then the universe should be eternal just like the initial state, but if causation is inherently a temporal process (which I think it is), then the effect would not be simultaneous with its sufficient cause, but comes afterwards (hence time and change).
 
The following users thanked this post: Pon de Replay

Offline Xavier

  • Mary, Queen and Protectress of our Faith, protect our Faith from all the Satanic threats to it. Mary, Refuge of Holy Love, grant us final perseverance in Grace and Holy Love forever.
  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 4084
  • Thanked: 3094 times
  • Indian Catholic
    • Marian Apostolate Life Offering.
  • Religion: Catholic Christian (Roman Rite Latin Traditionalist)
Re: Ed Feser Responds to Richard Dawkins on Thomas’ 5 Ways
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2019, 12:40:07 AM »
Nice. Dr. Feser's work is excellent. We've discussed the Five Ways before here on SD, but I just found this on Marian Apostolate,

"Having established that God’s existence can, indeed, be logically proven through a posteriori demonstrations, Aquinas asserts that “the existence of God can be proved in five ways” (ST Ia, q.2, a.3).  In the first way, Aquinas states that it is evident from our experience that things are in motion.  Aquinas employs abstract philosophical terminology to convey relatively common-sense, easily understandable realities.  In this argument, the Aristotelian terms or concepts “motion,”“act” and “potency,” are used.  For clarity’s sake, the Aristotelian term, “Motion,” can be thought of in four senses: 1. Locomotion – change of place; 2. Growth and diminution – getting bigger or smaller; 3. Alteration – change of quality or appearance; 4. Substantial Change – change of substance or nature.  Thus, when we think of Aquinas’ use of the term motion, we understand that this presupposes the various Aristotelian meanings for the word that have been above explained.  “Act” means simply “what is.”  “Potency” is “what is not but is able to be, or has the potential to be.”  With the above in mind, let us read for ourselves the argument put forth by Aquinas concerning motion and the necessity of a First, Un-moved Mover: “whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.”  In other words, whatever can undergo change or transformation in any of the four senses listed above must itself be changed by another.  And the very thing causing change was once itself changed by something else that came before it, either temporally or logically.  Now, this process of things being put into motion or changing, whereby each thing is changed by another, which itself has been changed, cannot stretch back indefinitely, or infinitely.  The philosophical way of saying this is that there cannot be an infinite regress.  For, if there were an infinite regress, there would be no first-mover, and without a first-mover, no intermediate movers, and finally no present motion whatever.  And since there is present motion or change, there must exist a First-Mover, itself un-moved.  And this First-Mover is God.

The second way proposed by Aquinas is based on the nature of an efficient cause.  In Aristotelian Philosophy, the “efficient cause” is a phrase used to denote those things that temporally or logically precede and give rise to something else – a new thing, other than itself.  For example, my parents are my efficient causes.  They immediately preceded me and caused me to exist.  In Aristotelian philosophy, the “efficient cause” is one of the “four causes” of all things.  According to Aristotle, any substance whatsoever can be understood and explained by addressing and explaining its four causes.  It’s a concept within Aristotle’s metaphysics, which was wholeheartedly espoused by St. Thomas.  The four causes are the material cause, or that which the substance is materially composed of; the formal cause, which is the form, essence or nature of the object; the efficient cause, which is that which immediately precedes it either temporally or logically and gives rise to the things existence; and the final cause, which is the teleological (goal oriented) nature of the thing, or that for which it was created.  An example will better illustrate this concept.  Take man, for instance.  His material cause is flesh and bone; his formal cause is his soul; his efficient causes are his father and mother; and his final cause, or his goal, is the vision of God in heaven.

The argument proceeds along the same lines as the last, arguing from the effect of an efficient cause to the ultimate cause, the uncaused cause: “The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.”

Put another way, everything that exists receives the gift of its existence from another which precedes it.  Nothing can serve as its own cause because it would have to precede itself, and this is absurd.  As with the first argument, an infinite regress of things is impossible, for to remove the cause is to remove the effect.  It is abundantly evident to us that the observable universe is filled with things which have received the gift of their existence from other things, and this goes on and on.  Yet none of these things would exist, much less be observable, if there were no First Cause, uncaused.  And this is God.

The third way has to do with possibility and necessity.  This argument is based on the notion of contingency.  The cosmos is full of contingent beings, that is, beings that do not have to exist.  They are non-necessary.  And every single thing in the created world is a contingent being. Yet, like in our previous two examples, we cannot have an infinite regress of contingent beings.  There must, then, exist a non-contingent being, a Necessary Being.  And this is God.

“The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But “more” and “less” are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God” (ST, I, q. 2, a. 3)

It seems that this argument is fairly self-explanatory.  Simply, there is a gradation to be found in things, and this gradation presupposes a standard of perfection, the highest and most perfect expression of which is to be found in God, the sum of all perfections.

Heretofore, we have witnessed examples of the “Cosmological Argument,” which is to say that we have argued a posteriori from the “effect” of the “cosmos” (hence, the name of this type of argument) to its Unmoved Mover, its First Cause Uncaused, it’s Necessary Being, its Standard or Measure of Perfection, it’s God.  The fifth and final of St. Thomas’ arguments (as they are found and assembled in the Summa) is a different type of argument, known as the “Teleological Argument,” or the argument from design.  As apologist Peter Kreeft states in his wonderfully informative book, Fundamentals of the Faith, the first premise is that “where there is design, there must be a designer.”  The second premise is that “there exists design throughout the universe.”  The logical conclusion, then, is that “there must exist a universal designer,” and this is God.  Why, however, must we admit to the veracity of the first premise, that “whenever we encounter design, we can posit the existence of a designer.”  It’s a truth we admit in practice.  If you were to look at the Mona Lisa for the first time, you wouldn’t say to yourself, “Wow, isn’t it great that all that paint randomly thrown at this canvass formed, by pure chance, this stunning, nuanced work of art.”  Design presupposes a designer.

Thomas presents his version differently, referring to the teleology of natural bodies: “The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.” https://marianapostolate.com/2013/09/04/the-five-ways-of-aquinas-revisited/
Mary, our Heavenly Mother, implores those who receive Holy Communion Daily, or at least Weekly, to Offer their Lives. TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted and pluralized: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, that they may re-unite their flocks with the Catholic Church, and there may soon be but One Fold and One Shepherd. For all the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for Priests, Nuns and Monks, for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, and for All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen." https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/ Please pray this daily and you and your family will be saved. You will avoid Purgatory.

Daily Morning Offering: O my God, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary,  I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus from all the Altars  throughout the world, joining with It the offering of my every thought, word, and action of this day. I desire to gain every Indulgence and Merit I can, offering them, together with myself, to Mary Immaculate, Whom Thou hast appointed the dispenser of the merits of Thy Precious Blood, especially by means of this Scapular  [Here kiss your Brown Scapular] that She may best apply them to the interests of Thy Most Sacred Heart. Amen.

Consecration to Our Blessed Mother: My Queen, my Mother! I give myself entirely to Thee, and to show my devotion to Thee I consecrate to Thee this day, my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being without reserve, Wherefore, good Mother, as I am Thine own, keep me, guard me, as Thy property and possession." http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/morning-offering.htm

"I am the Lady of the Rosary. Pray the Rosary (i.e. 15 decades; 5 decades is a part of the Rosary) every day to obtain Peace for the World." ~ Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima.
 

Offline Davis Blank - EG

  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Wachtmeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 610
  • Thanked: 834 times
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
Re: Ed Feser Responds to Richard Dawkins on Thomas’ 5 Ways
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2019, 08:10:48 AM »
Quote
One may say that if an eternal initial state were sufficient to bring about the effect, then the universe should be eternal just like the initial state

If this were mechanistic, yes.  An alternative is that it was not mechanistic but mindful.
 

Offline Michael

  • Vizekorporal
  • **
  • Posts: 148
  • Thanked: 26 times
  • Religion: Atheist
Re: Ed Feser Responds to Richard Dawkins on Thomas’ 5 Ways
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2019, 01:40:06 PM »
If this were mechanistic, yes.
Why?

Quote
An alternative is that it was not mechanistic but mindful.
How is a mind better? If causation is temporal, then even if the cause (whether an indeterministic mind or an indeterministic mechanistic cause) is sufficient, it will still take time for the effect to obtain.
 

Offline Davis Blank - EG

  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Wachtmeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 610
  • Thanked: 834 times
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
Re: Ed Feser Responds to Richard Dawkins on Thomas’ 5 Ways
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2019, 01:55:16 AM »
If this were mechanistic, yes.
Why?

Quote
An alternative is that it was not mechanistic but mindful.
How is a mind better? If causation is temporal, then even if the cause (whether an indeterministic mind or an indeterministic mechanistic cause) is sufficient, it will still take time for the effect to obtain.
I am not even sure how it makes sense for the initial cause of nature to be mechanistic since its nature that is mechanistic.  Things that are not of nature, such as the mind, are not deterministic.

Discussing anything that is outside of time is utterly baffling.  I will analogize with something in time.  If a car is to be created by mechanistic robots which have always had sufficient conditions to make the car and the robots have always been around, then the car should always have been around as well.  But if the car is instead made by people whom always have sufficient conditions to make the car but have not yet chosen to do so (and assuming the people have always been around), then it makes sense that the car has not always been around, instead its existence is only after the point at which they chose to make it.
 

Offline Stanley

  • Hellebardier
  • *
  • Posts: 6
  • Thanked: 2 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Ed Feser Responds to Richard Dawkins on Thomas’ 5 Ways
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2019, 02:29:01 PM »
then he can claim the universe has existed for an actually "infinite time"

For what it's worth, St. Thomas in ST I,46,2 said that it's not possible to demonstrate from reason alone that the universe did not always exist. That the universe had a beginning depends on the will of God and so can only be known by revelation.