Pure Logic

“Pure logic cannot tell us anything about facts; only experience can.”
James R. Flynn

This is also the single largest criticism one can make of those who rely only on abstract thinking. It is why theist apologetics cannot be compelling. I can reason that the world was created by the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent Flying Spaghetti Monster, who defies all attempts to measure Him by actively interfering with the instrumentation of scientists (though judicious application of His noodly appendage) yet reveals himself to the faithful in ways that only He can understand; until there is evidence of my claim, however, you would do well to reject it out of hand. Believers are loath to consider that their arguments apply equally well to the FSM, if not significantly better for its lack of contradictory dogma. When it comes to claims of truth, the following quote should be ever-present in our minds:

“What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”
Christopher Hitchens

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10 responses to “Pure Logic

  1. It is very thought. Thank you for a provocative article.

    I believe you are right to some degree. But I think we are creating unneccessary dichotomy between logic and experience role in understanding facts. I found classical Christian philosophy as both presenting logical arguments for God to which mordern Cosmological field is providing good evidence/what we experience to affirm them.

    Example a leading cosmologist, Alexander Vilenkin stated ” All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.” and that multiverse,if exist, also must have a beginning.

    I found Hitchens claim “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” not useful because he asserted it without giving evidence for it. 😀

    FSM is not a problem for classical theism because spaghetti is material, thus cannot be the cause of material. FSM attribute of flying, meaning taking space, spaghetti, meaning physical and material is not the same attributes of the cause of the universe given by cosmological arguments, timeless, immaterial, spaceless, non-physical and neccessary.

    Let me know what you think.

    Prayson

  2. Example a leading cosmologist, Alexander Vilenkin stated ” All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.”

    Sure, but having a beginning is not the same thing as that beginning being a god.

    and that multiverse,if exist, also must have a beginning.

    Maybe. Not necessarily. It’s conceivable that the cosmos might be eternal. It’s also conceivable that all conceptions of time break down in the absence of space, and so “before the big bang” might not be coherent.

    I found Hitchens claim “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” not useful because he asserted it without giving evidence for it.

    I appreciate the humor, but there is evidence for this claim, even if I didn’t explicitly provide it alongside the quote. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Claims that are offered without evidence are more likely to be false. To avoid believing foolish things, skepticism should be the baseline, and only positive instances of evidence should sway us away from our doubt. As evidence of this claim, I offer you the following statement: I am the king of the world, and you owe your allegiance to me.

    spaghetti is material, thus cannot be the cause of material

    You mistake the representation of the FSM for the FSM itself. The FSM chooses a corporeal form that pleases Him, and spaghetti is but one possibility. He is not limited to a material form, and indeed, this is not his default state. His noodles are of a purely spiritual nature. Thus, he is timeless, immaterial, spaceless, and non-physical only until he chooses to interact with the world. He is necessary because, in addition to the traditional apologetic arguments, he is full of deliciousness, which is the motivator for all life.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Hej Collin,

    Thank you for a brilliant reply. I believe you misunderstand what I meant Collin. I wanted to show you that creating a dichotomy between logic and experience is unneccessary.

    Pure logic told classical theist philosophers the fact that the universe had a beginning. Cosmology is providing evidence that the pure logic was correct.

    Vilenkin put it this way: “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning”(Alexander Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One (New York: Hill and Wang, 2006), 176.)

    Collin, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin,I believe, proved that any universe that has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary. Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, Collin, is independent of any physical description of the very early universe. Their theorem entails our universe, which could be just a tiny part multiverse, and the multiverse must have an absolute beginning.

    I believe if you give FSM those attributes then that FSM is simply what classical theists call God. If x all attributes of human, then it does not matter if I call x, y. As long as y has all attributes of x, then I believe that y is x.

    Let me know your thoughts Collin.

    Prayson

  4. I wanted to show you that creating a dichotomy between logic and experience is unneccessary.

    I agree, but I’ll actually go one step further: creating a dichotomy between the two is entirely inappropriate because they are mutually necessary. We’ve used our experiences to distill a subset of observable objective facts into the laws of logic. The scientific method teaches to use our experiences but also to regard them as suspect; we’re very good at fooling ourselves–too good, even–so we have to use a logical, consistently valid and reliable system to guarantee that our experiences are accurate.

    Pure logic told classical theist philosophers the fact that the universe had a beginning. Cosmology is providing evidence that the pure logic was correct.

    You have to be very careful here. The universe that we live in had a beginning, yes; this beginning was the big bang. The reason that being careful is important, however, is that there is more to the story than that. What caused the big bang? Are multiverse theories accurate? Is the cosmos (which is a different concept from the universe) infinite and/or eternal? These questions are not entirely settled. So yeah, cosmology suggests that logical reasoning was accurate that our universe had a beginning; this alone tells us little. Furthermore, that philosophers got this right does not make anything else they said more likely to be right. Aristotle was a great thinker, but because he had no way to verify his conjectures, he was able to justify believing in the world being made up of four elements. Thus, we see that evidence is paramount.

    There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning

    Except there may very well be an escape. Some interpretations of string theory allow for the existence of an eternal cosmos.

    [the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem] entails our universe, which could be just a tiny part multiverse, and the multiverse must have an absolute beginning.

    That may be the case, but there is no scientific consensus, so we cannot say that the multiverse “must have had” anything. Other cosmological models do not rely on the cosmos having an absolute beginning. I think the key thing to keep in mind is that we can’t draw any certain conclusions beyond “we don’t know yet.”

    I believe if you give FSM those attributes then that FSM is simply what classical theists call God.

    Well, no. The “God” character (spelled with a capital G like that) applies only to the Christian conception of their god as the commonly used proper noun. Thus, God and Allah generally refer to specific entities (the Christian and Islamic conceptions of their god, respectively). The FSM may share some qualities with God, but the FSM is not “God” because the FSM would never create such a backwards religion. Indeed, I would suggest that if we adopt a Pastafarianism perspective, it is likely that the Abrahamic religions plagiarized heavily from the FSM’s divinity.

  5. Collin that was a brilliant reply. You have what I call a beautiful mind.

    If Collin you say to a Classical theist(CT) that x has the attributes Ax(viz. timeless, spaceless, immaterial, non-physical, existing neccessary by neccessity of its own nature and is an cause of the universe/multiverse), then x is what the CT understand God to be. We may call it FSM or Chikaka, or a Dancing Tree(DT), it does not really matter. What x is called does not affect the attributes it has.

    Illustration:(let “=” be attribute of)

    1. God = Ax
    2. FSM = Ax
    3. DT = Ax

    This mean that God = FSM = DT

    Thus we may change the name but that does not mean that we are going to have two or more beings.

    Let me know your thoughts Collin.

    Prayson

  6. Right, there’s an important difference between the signifier and the signified (to use Ferdinand de Saussure’s classifications). In what you’re describing, the signifier may differ (the label), but the signified is still the same basic idea. However, this is only true if you omit the doctrinal baggage that comes with any given religion. What you’ve described there could easily be applied to Yahweh, Allah, Brahman, Great Mystery, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. What Christian theologians do is argue for a being that has the attributes Ax with one additional one: the Biblical stories. (Muslim theologians do the same, but with the Qur’an instead. Hindu theologians, I am sure, have their own arguments to accomplish the same apologetic goal.)

    With the god/God distinction, the former is just an ordinary noun while the latter signifies a specific god; thus, it adds an extra attribute not present in the Ax model. I think you’d be right to suggest that this is not necessarily the case (historical deists, for example, still wrote the capitalized form “God” to refer to their non-interventionalist god, which by definition could not have been the Christian god), but it is heavily suggested in contemporary religions discussion by using the capital G.

    I should also note that I find arguments for any being’s “necessity” deeply underwhelming. In my experience, they amount to nothing more than arguments from ignorance (“I don’t know how to explain the universe, so it must have been created by a god”).

    I gather that you’re not a native English speaker, so I’d also like to mention how impressed I am by your ability to have this conversation. Your skill is inspiring. (If I have misjudged you, my apologies! It’s possible your English just comes from a dialect I’m not familiar with, I suppose…)

  7. Thanks Collin. I am Tanzanian, Swahili is my native language. Danish and English are my second.

    If one argues “I don’t know how to explain the universe, so it must have been created by a god” then it’s pure and simple an appeal to ignorance. But I don’t think any cosmological argument is close to that.

    Prayson

  8. Well, religiously grounded cosmological arguments have to be disguised better than that or they wouldn’t be compelling. “Something cannot come from nothing” is one of the most repeated cliches in the discussion, but it is an equivocation (or at best an unsubstantiated claim). This comes up a lot in the case of debates between a theologian and a secular speaker. In that context, I take it to mean, “I assume that before the big bang, there was only philosophical ‘nothing,’ which, by definition, cannot lead to something. Therefore, a god must have interfered.” Apologists like to present this as an argument against scientific models, but when scientists discuss a period before the big bang, they do not mean the “nothing” that philosophers have constructed. (Thus why I call it an equivocation.)

    This is also an excellent illustration of why “pure logic” cannot stand alone. They have defined the construct “nothing” to mean something that it does not seem to really mean, and they resist outside attempts to redefine to make it align with reality.

  9. I think it is Krauss, Mlodinow and Hawking who are redefining nothing (which they have not give reasons why that would obviously have been the initial default state of the universe) as “the quantum vacuum” viz. positive energy and the negative energy adding up to zero and not the traditionally definition of non-being. David Albert(non-theist professor of Columbia University) did a wonderful job is showing the problem with this new redefinition. 🙂

  10. Yeah, I’ll agree that it’s the physicists who are trying to redefine nothing, but such a thing is not at all unprecedented. I’m not sure coining a new word for it would be practical, however, given that the new scientific models address so many of the same questions from classical philosophy. In the sense that what they’re describing is the absence of the universe, it seems likely that whatever remains in that context should be describable as “nothing.”

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with any philosopher’s preference to use the word “nothing” to describe the absence of all things (including quantum vacuums or what have you), but I don’t think this state of attributeless-ness is what any non-philosopher means when they say “nothing” (e.g., “There’s nothing on the table” or “What did you do yesterday?—Oh, nothing.”).

    which they have not give reasons why that would obviously have been the initial default state of the universe

    I’m not well read enough to respond to this claim directly, but I will point out that philosophical nothing (e.g., a state of absolute attributeness, or alternatively a state in which only a god can exist) is not above this charge. The fundamental difference, as I see it, is that cosmologists seek to explain the universe using observational data, while philosophers have not traditionally done this.

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