Different in degree or kind: Egnor's reasoning God exists (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 22:12 (11 days ago) @ David Turell

A philosophic approach from Aristotle to St. Thomas:

https://mindmatters.ai/2020/03/gods-existence-is-proven-by-science/

"Proof of God’s existence is and must be the same: it must be inferential—it must come from evidence. Natural science uses exactly the same inferential structure: evidence-logic-inference

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"natural theology, which is the science of demonstrating God’s existence using evidence and logic. Natural theology may be contrasted with revealed theology, which is the study of God via revelation in Scripture.

"Natural theology has a massive history—it goes back at least to the ancient philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BCE) (the Prime Mover argument). A high point in natural theology was Thomas Aquinas’s Five Ways, which are scientific (i.e. evidence-based) arguments for God’s existence. In fact, the cornerstone of Aquinas’ metaphysics is that essence (what a thing is) is utterly distinct from existence (that a thing is).

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"Here’s Aquinas’ First Way:
1) Change exists in nature (evidence)
2) Change is the actuation of potentiality and an essential chain of actuations cannot go to infinite regress. A fully actual Prime Mover is necessary (logic)
3) That Prime Mover is what all men call God (conclusion)

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"There are four (explicit and implicit) components to Aquinas’ First Way (Aquinas at right).
First the evidence:

1) Evidence for change in nature. This is obvious. Things change all the time—atoms vibrate, water flows, leaves turn yellow, men get older. Change is everywhere, and the evidence part of Aquinas’ First Way is ubiquitous and more extensive than the evidence for any other scientific theory.

"Then the logic:
2) Change is actuation of potency.
3) Instrumental (essential) causal chains exist in nature, and they cannot go to infinite regress.
4) The law of the Excluded Middle: a thing cannot be, and be its contrary, in the same respect at the same time. Something is either A, or not A, but not both simultaneously.

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"2) Change is actuation of potency: This is perhaps Aristotle’s most fundamental metaphysical insight. Aristotle observed that there are three ways of describing existence: there is non-existence, there is actuality, and there is an intermediate state he called potency. ...When Aristotle and Aquinas say that change is actuation of potency, all they mean is that when something changes in nature, it goes from potentially something to actually something. A green leaf goes from potentially yellow to actually yellow in the fall. An acorn goes from potentially an oak tree to actually an oak tree when it grows.

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"3) Instrumental (essential) causal chains exist in nature, and they cannot go to infinite regress: This is the part that is most subtle but it is true and vital. Causal chains exist in nature—things cause other things. Causal chains mean that potency is elevated so that it acts sequentially in things. A thing is in potency to be something, and it actually becomes that something because something else acts on it.

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"An instrumental (essential) causal chain is different. In an instrumental causal chain, each cause must continue to exist for the effect to continue to exist.

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"Infinite regress is impossible for instrumental (essential) causal chains. The reason is that an instrumental chain of causes (a chain of sticks used to push a rock) can’t get started by itself. Causation entails elevation of potency to act, but potency is not something that fully exists so it must be caused by something that does actually exist.

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"To cause itself, the universe must potentially exist and actually exist at the same time. The universe can potentially exist, or actually exist, but it cannot simultaneously potentially and actually exist. It is logically and metaphysically impossible for something to cause itself. It is logically impossible for a chain of instrumentally ordered causes to cause itself.

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"His Third Way—the proof from Necessary Existence—has a similar structure.

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"The cosmological arguments follow the same formal structure as any theory in science. They invoke evidence from nature (things change, things are caused, things exist), analyze the evidence on a logical framework, and arrive at an inductive conclusion.
The evidence for the cosmological arguments is massive, the logic is impeccable, and the conclusion is inescapable. God exists, with more certainly than we know of the existence of anything in science."

Comments: Read in entirety for real understanding. Very long.


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