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An Objection I Heard Graham Oppy Raise

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  • An Objection I Heard Graham Oppy Raise

    I believe he made this objection during a debate with Rasmussen, but I could be mistaken. I also don't make the claim that this is exactly what he said because I could be mistaken. But nevertheless, the objection is as follows: cosmological arguments seek to find something about the physical world that seeks an explanation, and then deduce from various premises that the explanation for this thing is God; however, the atheist could just say that the fact to be explained is actually just necessary, rather than positing some necessary being. In the very least, we now have two equal explanations, but we might be able to go as far as to say that we ought to favor the atheists response because it is simpler; it doesn't posit causes beyond necessity (in this case, God). To give an example, the argument from motion. We could say that God is the sole provider of motion, or we could just say that motion exists of necessity. Or to give another, instead of positing God as an explanation of the beginning of the universe, we could just say that the big bang happened necessarily.

    I think this objection, at least for the thomist, may be able to be diverted by appealing to some sort of metaphysical composition. As far as the proponent of the Kalam, I am not sure. I think in general, the objection seems ad hoc. As far as I am aware, we have no reason to believe why the various things that we claim need an explanation are in fact necessary. I think the intuition of the contingency of these sorts of things provides defeasible evidence that they are in fact contingent.

    Thoughts?

  • Atno
    replied
    Originally posted by ClassicalLiberal.Theist View Post
    Atno
    "in addition, it could be argued that a necessary motion like that would be impossible" Could you elaborate?
    If a being's potential is actualized (instead of just being purely actual), then how could it be necessar? Prima facie it would be possible for it to not be actualized, since in itself it is just a potency; and in any case if it were necessary i would have to be a derivative necessity, because if it is an actualized potency then it does not simply exist by a necessity of its own nature (otherwise its nature would be purely actual).

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  • ClassicalLiberal.Theist
    replied
    Atno
    "in addition, it could be argued that a necessary motion like that would be impossible" Could you elaborate?

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  • Atno
    replied
    1) to say motion is necessary but doesn't need an actualizer helps nothing with the thomistic arguments. We still need an explanation of how a potency is actualized, and making it modally necessary would not remove the need for a cause especially if you accept the causal principle that whatever is moved is moved by another (in addition, it could be argued that a necessary motion like that would be impossible). Likewise, for the Kalam, saying it is necessary that something must come into being uncaused would simply be absurd to anyone who accepts the causal principle;

    2) how can a natural thing be contingent? All physical entities are corruptible, pass in and out of being. Etc. even fundamental particles are convertible with kinetic energy and vice-versa. They don't have to exist, their nature is not existence or does not entail existence; they are still cotingent in this sense. Moreover it seems absurd to suggest the universe with this specific geometry this specific amount of mass etc. had to exist and we could not have gotten a universe with different degrees etc. (unless someone tries to say all possble universes exist, but this raises complexity and also atguably destroys induction, so it is not an option);

    3) there are still all other problems involving PPC, etc. in which theism has an advantage.

    Cosmological argument has been right for thousands of years, etc., no one will refute it, period.

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  • Kwlsk
    replied
    Originally posted by Scalia View Post
    Both theists and atheists can appeal to necessity, but how does naturalism or physicalism account for necessity? That's where nontheistic systems run aground. Since they cannot account for change and composition, they lack the footing to appeal to necessity. Oppy's remark is, if you accurately state it, a bare assertion.
    Good point, Scalia. The Leibnizian question has to be reformulated to "Why is there anything contingent at all"? I don´t know of any good naturalistic answer. And what are your options? Deny contingency? This can´t possibly be right. And like I said above, it wouldn´t help a metaphysical naturalistic worldview. Other than that, I can only see the appeal to brute facts. Claiming otherwise pretty much forces one to accept the PSR.

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  • Scalia
    replied
    Both theists and atheists can appeal to necessity, but how does naturalism or physicalism account for necessity? That's where nontheistic systems run aground. Since they cannot account for change and composition, they lack the footing to appeal to necessity. Oppy's remark is, if you accurately state it, a bare assertion.

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  • Kwlsk
    replied
    Doesn´t that commit him to necessitarianism? Then the PSR applies and we are left with Spinozism or something Leibnizian.
    Also, it is way to easy to claim that theists just say that this first cause has to be God, it is rather that the attributes the necessary first cause would have, are the same generally associated with God. I qualify here since e.g. the Kalam argument makes the attributes "very" instead of "omni", but if we already reached this point, then the debate is over.
    Lets grant for the sake of the argument that the big bang could have been necessary. Do we posit necessity to the other phenomena that are troubling? Is life necessary? Consciousness? Rationality? Conscience? Especially consciousness and rationality (and intentionality) are problematic if we argue for the necessity of the lowest physical facts. Panpsychism seems unavoidable, add to that rationality and pantheism or panentheism have to be true. So no, we aren´t even forced to retreat to Thomistic philosophy, the argument has very limited force and brings huge problems with it. I think Oppy is aware of those problems and wouldn´t bring it up as a serious alternative outside of debates, where there is the goal to "win".
    What I grant him is the impossiblity of the empty world (I upload a small paper by Rutten for that one). So the Leibnizian question "Why is there something rather than nothing?" is the wrong question, though its headed in the right direction. Something exists necessarily is very different to necessarily something exists. The atheist should use the latter.

    Btw, I might be wrong about that, but is Oppy arguing for atomism here? In that case a upload a second paper by Rutten using that principle arguing for a first cause. He is pretty awesome.
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