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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Potential Versus Actual Infinites

  1. Two Types of Infinity: Actual and Potential
    1. Actual Infinite – A timeless totality that does not increase or decrease with the number of members it contains.
      1. Example: The number of points on a line is an actual infinite; there is no exact number.
      2. Problems with actual infinites:
        1. If an actual infinite exist, there are problems that arise. Following are some examples.
          1. Consider an infinitely long line of dominos in the universe. If we take half of them, we still have an infinite number. But, 1/2 of the original infinite contains the same number of dominos as the original infinite. This would mean that one half of the whole is equal to the whole. This cannot be.
          2. An infinitely old clock. The hour hand makes its circuit around the face of the clock 2 times a day. The minute hand 24 times a day. But, an infinite amount of time results in both the minute hand and the hour hand having an equal number of rotations even though the minute has 12 times as many rotations as the hour hand. This cannot be.
          3. Therefore actual infinities do not exist.
    2. Potential Infinite – A Potential Infinite is comprised of a finite set that increases its number through time by adding members to its set. Each addition results in a larger finite set.
      1. Example: Dividing line in half, and then in half, and half again, results in a finite set of divisions. It is possible to continue to do this, but with each division, a finite number of divisions still exists.
  2. Cannot Cross an Actual Infinite
    1. Imagine a timeless, infinitely long line of dominoes
    2. By traveling along the line of successive dominos, in order to arrive at any particular domino you would have to traverse an infinite number of them in order to arrive at that particular domino. But an infinite number of dominos cannot be traversed—otherwise it isn’t infinite. So, we cannot have an actual infinite number of dominos.
    3. Likewise, if each domino represents one second of time and each domino were falling one after another, representing successive moments in time, the line of dominos could not be infinite in length in the past because…
      1. There would never have been a first domino that fell. If there is no first, there can be no second, no third, no fourth, and so on.
    4. Therefore, an actual infinite (timeless infinite number) of successive events in the past is logically impossible.
  3. Summary: an actual infinite of successive events in the past is logically impossible because
    1. It would require traversing an infinite number of events which cannot be done.
    2. There would be no first event. If there is no first event, there cannot be a second, or a third, and no following series of events. Therefore, there must be a beginning of events.

Cosmological Argument

  1. The universe exists
  2. There are only two options available to account for the Universe
    1. The universe either had a beginning or it had no beginning
      1. “Beginning” and “no beginning” is an antonymic pair.
      2. Antonyms are opposites. i.e., beginning/no beginning; personal/non personal. There can be no third option in these antonymic pairs. Therefore, these pairs are not false dichotomies since no other options are possible.
  3. If the universe had no beginning, then it is either Eternally Static or Eternally non-Static (Oscillating)
    1. Eternally Static Universe: The universe has always existed.
      1. This does not agree with Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) which shows the universe had a beginning.
      2. The universe always existing would be impossible since it would mean the universe had an infinite number of successive events (atoms moving, stars forming, etc.), before we got to now. But this is impossible as we have seen above.
      3. Conclusion: The universe is not infinitely old. It had a beginning.
    2. Eternally non Static, or Oscillating Universe: The universe has come in and out of existence as it expands and contracts, forms, collapses, forms, collapses, for an infinite amount of time.
      1. This does not agree with the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The universe, as a whole, is a closed system. There is no known mechanism for a 100% efficient exchange of energy in formation and reformation.
      2. An eternally oscillating universe would require an infinite number of oscillations but this is impossible since it would mean the universe had an infinite number of successive events.
      3. Conclusion: The universe had a beginning and could not have been eternally oscillating.
  4. If the universe had a beginning, then something brought the universe into existence.
  5. There are only two options to account for the cause of the existence of the universe:
    1. First Option: Impersonal Cause
    2. Second Option: Personal Cause
  6. First Option: Impersonal Cause of the universe
    1. Only two possible options
      1. First Option: The universe brought itself into existence
      2. Second Option: The universe was caused to exist
    2. Impersonal Cause, First option: the universe brought itself into existence.
      1. This is not possible because in order for an action to occur, something has to cause the action. A cause is itself an action. An action results from something that exists prior to it. But if something has no existence (nothing), then it has no prior existence, no properties, no abilities, and cannot perform any actions. Therefore, nothing comes from nothing and the universe did not bring itself into existence.
    3. Impersonal Cause, Second option: The universe was caused to exist by an impersonal means.
      1. Whatever caused the universe to exist, existed prior to the universe.
      2. This existence was ontologically prior (essence/existence), not temporally prior to the universe.
        1. In Mr. Tabash’s debate with Phil Fernandez he said at 54:44, “We can’t even speak of a cause [of the universe] because there was no time and space for sequential causation to play out before the big bang occurred.”
        2. Two things to note here:
          1. Mr. Tabash denies temporality before the universe.
          2. Mr. Tabash, by his own admission, cannot offer us a cause of the universe.
      3. An impersonal, ontologically prior cause either existed in a timeless and changeless state or it did not.
        1. Quentin Smith (an atheist), Professor of Philosophy who is listed under Suggested Links on Eddie Tabash’s site (tabash.com) said, “…that the cause of space-time exists timelessly.”
        2. Timeless, Changeless state: An impersonal, ontologically prior cause existing in a timeless and changeless state cannot do anything since it can’t suddenly decide to do anything. It just is.
          1. Conclusion: an impersonal, ontological prior cause could not have brought the universe into existence.
        3. Non-Timeless, Changing state: If the impersonal, ontologically prior cause existed in a non-timeless, changing state then whatever caused it to change is a prior cause which would be a cause external to itself.
          1. We then must ask what caused that prior cause, and the cause before that, etc. This would mean that no matter how far back we go, we would never find the first event. With no first event, there can be no second, third, etc., and nothing would ever happen.
          2. Remember: an infinite regression of prior causes would mean there is an infinite regression of uncaused causes which would have to be traversed before we found the cause of the universe, but this is impossible per Point 3 above (Summary: an actual infinite of successive events in the past is logically impossible.
        4. Conclusion regarding an Impersonal Cause of the Universe:
          1. Neither the Impersonal Timeless, Changeless State or the Non-Timeless, Changing State can account for the beginning of the universe.
        5. Two Options: When we have only two options to account for something (impersonal and personal) and one of them is negated, then by default the other is validated. Since the impersonal cause cannot account for the beginning of the universe, the only option left is the personal cause.
        6. The universe was caused to exist by a Personal Cause.
        7. That Personal Cause is God.
  7. Second Option: Personal Cause of the Universe.
    1. There are only two options to account for a Personal Being to Act to create the universe: External and Internal Cause.
      1. An External Cause which only brings the issue of causation back to its prior causes, for infinity, which cannot happen since we cannot have an infinite regression of causes.
      2. An Internal Cause in a Personal Being which would be self determined, a Decision to Act.
    2.  Therefore, the personal Cause of the Universe made a decision to act and created the universe.

I have wrestled with this idea for some time mostly in it's application to cosmology. I had a friend present me with a Mobius strip as some sort of demonstration as to how the universe or time might work. I don't think that the two are in any way analogous. It's as if we had traced our finger along the strip to reach a certain point. Consider our fingertip is the current frame of reference. We must start tracing to reach any point. We were not tracing for an infinite duration of time. In that same manner, I see that we are currently at a frame of reference in the universe and to reach this frame it must have traversed a finite number of frames before it. i don't think this is in any way attributed to a failure of human understanding. It's just the way things are. I'm not seeking to confuse my reasoning to imagine something that is just not so...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Connecting the Dots: Part Two

We've established, not even by cosmology but logical necessity, that the universe requires a beginning. Everything that begins to exist requires a cause. What sort of criteria would then apply to this cause? I will attempt to put it all together.

1. That which caused the universe to exist must itself exist outside of the universe. The million dollar word is "transce
ndent".
2. The cause must be generated from conscious or personal being as opposed to unconscious and impersonal force. That which is unconscious cannot choose to act on it's own. That which is personal contains a will and can choose to create.

This, my friends, is the reasoning behind the necessity for that which caused the universe to be not only transcendent but also personal. I know that not everybody believes in the notion of God but at least you know now that not everybody follows blind faith. Some of us do employ reason.

Connecting the Dots: Part One

According to current scientific observation, our universe is expanding and it's rate is increasing. What does this mean to us? There are two options. Either it will continue to expand indefinitely and experience what is known as thermodynamic heat death or it will reach the threshold of elasticity and finally collapse upon itself prompting another iteration of the big bang/big crunch cycle. Either
 way, the universe cannot itself be eternal and must have had a definitive beginning of it's existence. I'll explain why.

Indefinite expansion under the eternal universe hypothesis:
1. The process leading to thermodynamic heat death would have had an infinite duration of time to reach it's conclusion.
2. Our universe has not experienced thermodynamic heat death.
3. The eternal universe hypothesis cannot be true under the indefinite expansion model.

Oscillating universe model under the eternal universe hypothesis:
1.Our universe is currently in a state of expansion.
2. Assuming the universe were eternal, we would have an infinite number of iterations of this cycle.
3. To reach any iteration of the cycle, there would therefore be an infinite number of cycles that must be traversed.
4. Infinity cannot be traversed.
5. Therefore, the eternal universe hypothesis cannot be true under the oscillating universe model.

Either way you look at it. The universe have had a beginning of it's existence. Everything that begins to exist has a cause. Therefore, what caused the universe to exist? What criteria must be fulfilled in this cause?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Our Greatest Desires: Caused or Chosen?

In my search for reconciliation regarding the free-will and determinism paradox, I have delved deep into questions that probe the very nature of our being. One question that has taken preeminence as of late is the question pertaining to our desires.

I know that any decision we make is based on competing desires but from whence do these desires ultimately originate. Is it merely physical causality? A caused B and B causes C and so forth leading to the set of circumstances creating and influencing our greatest desires. This is the deterministic model but how does quantum mechanics change this picture?

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle dictates that one cannot simultaneously determine the position and momentum of a particle but, quite frankly, am not to certain how this has any bearing in the philosophical realm. It seems to me that this principle only affects the precise observation of causes not the effect of them. I could be wrong; however, but I'd really like to hear why that could be.

In any case, I rest comfortable in the compatibilist view of free-will until someone can concretely relate how the uncertainty principle precludes that possibility.
As I see it, our greatest desires are a result of a combination of environmental and internal causes (chemical, biological, hereditary). Therefore, the factors that bring about our desires are a product if factors within our but also independent of our own volition. Can we be held responsible if it is God that ordained the deterministic causes for our desires and subsequently our decisions. I would say strongly that the answer would be a resounding yes. Why would we not be held accountable for decisions we made? We made them regardless of whether they are preordained or not.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ambiguity of Revelation

This has been a topic that has often fascinated me. Why would God seemingly create order, design, and good in a universe but also allow the existence of disorder, chaos, and the things that we collectively define as evil? This seems counterintuitive for a deity that is "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9) Why then do we have this apparent ambiguity?
To understand this, we must also realize a few things about love. For one to love, it is necessary for the same to have the freedom to not love. There seems to be some divisive factors that cause a polarizing effect among individuals. We must examine these criteria for one to arrive at the decision to love or not love God

What criteria is readily available for one to love God? The following is a list I have compiled and is not necessarily in order of precedence:
  1. His deep longing for a personal and intimate relationship
  2. The degree of that longing exhibited by the sacrifice of His only begotten Son
  3. The reliability that can be derived from God's attribute of immutability
  4. The hope that can be derived from God's demonstrated faithfulness throughout Scripture and affirming archaelogical evidence, as well as the existence and prosperity of the Israelite nation in spite of adversity
  5. The consistency and order of the universe that allows for scientific observation
  6. The apparent fine-tuning of minute variables that has evidently enabled our species to inhabit a relatively safe area in a mostly hostile universe
In order to be fair, I will try to find reasoning that atheists may employ to justify either the passive act of not loving God or their active act of hating the Judeo-Christian God. Therefore, the reasoning I provide for choosing not to love God is as follows: (Not necessarily in order of precedence)

  1. Lack of conclusive evidence for the existence of God
  2. Apparent inconsistency within divine revelation
  3. No means of empirical verification of the supernatural
  4. The notion that belief in the supernatural causes conflict between humankind often resulting in violence
  5. Not too shabby, huh? The atheists seem to wield quite a formidable arsenal at first glance. The seasoned Christian apologist will know;however, that much of this argumentation stems from ignorance or distorted views of the reality and/or nature of God. People assume that God is obligated to accomodate their expectations no matter how foolish they are. It just doesn't work that way.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Free Will and Determinism Paradox

This has been a topic which has grieved me greatly and has led me on a arduous search for information ranging from philosophy, the quantum mechanics uncertainty principle, and seemingly random radioactive decay. Yes, I've been all over the place.

Essentially, free will in the manner in which I am referring to is the faculty that allows us to bear the moral responsibility for our choices. If our will was not free, how can we be held accountable. This didn't mesh well with my currebtly held concept of a completely deterministic universe. It appeared to me that will was utterly dependent on causality and causality I saw as being in complete control of by God Almighty.

This posed a myriad of problems towards my existing paradigm. I had to seek reconciliation or I faced the possibility of living under a perception of reality that doesn't make sense or to abandon faith altogether. Personally, that latter would be exceedingly difficult as I strongly feel I have experienced divine providence. I could attempt to chalk it up to a psychological phenomena but some of the peculiar things experienced were externally verifiable and/or witnessed. More to follow...