Sunday, June 5, 2011

Intelligent Design According to Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas, (arguably Christianity's foremost intellect since the apostle Paul), famously submitted five proofs of Gods existence.  (See Article 3. "Whether God exists?" here)  Of the "Five Ways", my favorite - and the one most relevant to ID - is the Fifth Way.

In Aquinas' own words:
"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."
What Aquinas is saying here, put simply, is that:

A) We observe in nature, things with no mind or intelligence, acting as if they have intention, purpose or goals.

B) It is a truth that only a being with a mind can truly have intentions.

C) Therefore, an intelligent being must be responsible for the intentionality we observe in nature.

There, in just a few sentences, Aquinas submits a rational proof that all of nature is intelligently designed!  There is no need to argue, as most ID proponents do, that it is complexity and sophistication in nature that requires design.  No, to Aquinas; even the rocks cry out "Design"!  And this is true of nature everywhere we look!  Everything we see, everything made of matter, has bits and particles within it whose job seems to be simply to maintain and sustain that very thing that they are a part of.  There is absolutely no materialist explanation for this.

It's a beautiful thing.  What's more, if one understands the full implications of Aquinas' simple proof, the designer must itself be outside nature.  You can't cite nature to explain all of nature - so the explanation must be something separate from nature.  Hmm... an intelligent being outside nature... I wonder who that could be?

Which leads me to the other attractive aspect of Aquinas Fifth Way: the fact that it points explicitly to God - not some other being who "may or may not be" God (as ID theory is so fond of saying.) 

It's refreshing to be able to unequivocally say that all of nature (not just the complex stuff) is designed and that this designer must be God.

The further implications of this is that it reduces questions of evolution and abiogenesis strictly to scientific inquiry.  Whether or not nature can produce a lifeform from non-living material has no implications philosophically or theologically.  Either way, God was behind it.  The same goes for the evolution of new biological types.  It's all design, all the way down.

180 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a dreadfully dark, death-saturated image that you have on the top of your web-site.

It communicates your world-view in unambiguous terms.

Daniel Smith said...

You have no idea why I posted that image, or what it means to me, yet you feel free to jump to a conclusion such as that?

I have to wonder what that communicates about your world-view?

Anonymous said...

Good response to the first Anon.

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Daniel,

Interesting web site you have.

I also like this thread. I have been waiting for a chance to discuss your view of Aquinas' five ways with you.

Are you up for it?

Daniel Smith said...

Only if you agree to stay on subject.

Thought Provoker said...

I have no problem agreeing with staying on topic and will. But when you make conjectures about things existing outside of our known universe opens up topic to include things like square-circles as Fifth Monarchy Man found out.
You wrote…
A) We observe in nature, things made of matter - things with no mind or intelligence - acting as if they have intention, purpose or goals.
Is light matter? Maxwell’s equations explains how light is permissible, but there it provides no explanation as to WHY it exists. Quantum Mechanics shows us that “matter” is no more substantial than light of even rainbows.
While you might be tempted to label this view of things as “off topic”, I suggest it is only because you dislike it. There is an implied assumption here. It is an assumption that a lump of “matter” should be totally independent of other lumps of “matter” and, therefore, shouldn’t be acting in the organized manner that it appears to be. It comes from the outdated materialistic worldview of particles and atoms.
If modern physics like Sir Roger Penrose are right, what we call “matter” is nothing but effects of interconnected quantum wavefunctions.
If you want Prima facie evidence there is something manipulating our reality, look at GHZ quantum correlations
“When measurements are performed on several quantum systems in an entangled state, the statistics of the results may contain correlations that can’t be simulated by shared local variables. Such correlations are called nonlocal.”

This is a fancy way of saying these quantum effects defy normal logic. It’s as if some jokester deity is playing a Three Card Monty magic trick with the fundamental basis of reality.

Light exists because it can (at least in this universe). The same is true of the interconnected quantum wavefunction that is our universe. I have no problem with the suggestion all things have at least one purpose and intent, that is to exist.

Existence alone implies intent. The need for intelligence is an implicit assumption.

”B) It is a truth that only a being with a mind can truly have intentions.”
This makes explicit what was already implicitly assumed. Both are assuming a desired conclusion.

C) Therefore, an intelligent being must be responsible for the intentionality we observe in nature.
And the preordained conclusion is thusly made.

“Everything we see, everything made of matter, has bits and particles within it whose job seems to be simply to maintain and sustain that very thing that they are a part of. There is absolutely no materialist explanation for this.”
A presumption of the existence of fundamental “bits and particles” IS the “materialistic explanation” (at least atom version of it). This presumption flies in the face of modern observations.
“What's more, if one understands the full implications of Aquinas' simple proof, the designer must itself be outside nature.”
And in the realm of square-circles and other things which transcend normal logic.
“Which leads me to the other attractive aspect of Aquinas Fifth Way: the fact that it points explicitly to God - not some other being who "may or may not be" God (as ID theory is so fond of saying.)“
Why “YHWU” who art in heaven with empty mansions waiting? (John 14:2)
Why not “Zeus” who art in Olympus?
Why not “Odin” who art in Valhalla?
More assumptions to form a desired conclusion.

Thought Provoker said...

My preceding commment was posted before I was ready, but it is good enough.

Here is a little more. You also wrote...
"It's refreshing to be able to unequivocally say that all of nature (not just the complex stuff) is designed and that this designer must be God."

I applaud your honest conviction, as long as you unequivocally say the same thing when discussing what should and should not be taught in public schools.

It is you religious right to claim that your chosen deity created the universe and everything in it.

Many Hindu believe the same of Brahman.

Just don’t try to force others to see the same Truth you do. Or, at least, give contrary worldview equal consideration in making arguments.

Daniel Smith said...

Me: "We observe in nature, things made of matter - things with no mind or intelligence - acting as if they have intention, purpose or goals."
TP: "Is light matter?"


It doesn't really matter what light is - what matters is what light does. "Matter" is not the important part of the statement.

In fact, I'll restate to clarify:
"We observe in nature things with no mind or intelligence acting as if they have intention, purpose or goals."

Me: "It is a truth that only a being with a mind can truly have intentions.”
TP: "This makes explicit what was already implicitly assumed. Both are assuming a desired conclusion."


No - it is a truth. If you know of something without a mind that has intentions, let me know.

Me: "Therefore, an intelligent being must be responsible for the intentionality we observe in nature."
TP: "And the preordained conclusion is thusly made."


No - it follows from the premises.

Thought Provoker said...

you wrote...
"No - it is a truth. If you know of something without a mind that has intentions, let me know."

It is a declared assumption raised to the level of an axiom; your "truth".

As for examples, how about light?

A rock?

Your conclusion that there must be an unobserved intelligence behind matter's purpose/intention is based on the assumption that all purpose/intention MUST be the result of intelligence.

A classic example of presuming one's conclusion.

Also called "begging the question".

Daniel Smith said...

As for examples, how about light? A rock?

You fail to understand the argument. Do you really think a rock has intentions?

Daniel Smith said...

Your conclusion that there must be an unobserved intelligence behind matter's purpose/intention is based on the assumption that all purpose/intention MUST be the result of intelligence.

Judging from this statement, I don't think you know what purpose and intention are. Of course they require a mind - they are mindful processes. They entail conscious decisions. How can something without a mind "intend"?

Thought Provoker said...

You asked...
"Do you really think a rock has intentions?"

Don't you? In your opening post your wrote...

"Everything we see, everything made of matter, has bits and particles within it whose job seems to be simply to maintain and sustain that very thing that they are a part of."

I agreed with your premise when I wrote...
"I have no problem with the suggestion all things have at least one purpose and intent, that is to exist.

Existence alone implies intent."

I used light as an example. We have a firm understanding as to how light CAN exist (Maxwell's equations). However, we don't know why it DOES.

The Quantum Physics you appear to wish to hand wave away provides insight into how everything in the universe (including light and rocks) are all parts of interconnected wavefunctions. It also looks like the effect we call “consciousness” is directly part of this universal wavefunction.

I have no problem with the suggestion a universal wavefunction implies some kind of universal consciousness which directly manipulates everything via quantum effects.

Calling this universal attribute “YHWU”, “Brahman”, “Zeus” or even “Odin” is one’s religious choice. And the history of men creating their deities with human-like qualities isn’t surprising but mostly supported with self-serving rationalization often called “apologetics”.

The question isn’t whether a particular rock is conscious, the question is whether the universe itself is aware. Is it conscious? Does it have intent?

It the very least, it looks like the universe has the purpose/intent of existence.

Daniel Smith said...

"Don't you? "

No, I don't.

You are missing a key component of Aquinas' argument. It's not that nature actually has intentions - it's that nature acts as if it had intentions. BIG difference!

Daniel Smith said...

"I have no problem with the suggestion a universal wavefunction implies some kind of universal consciousness which directly manipulates everything via quantum effects."

A "universal wavefunction" does not explain the specificity we see in nature. How does the universal wavefunction decide whether this carbon atom becomes part of a tree, a frog, a human being or a star?

Daniel Smith said...

"It the very least, it looks like the universe has the purpose/intent of existence."

There is a lot more intent and purpose in the universe than just that but I'm glad you at least recognize that much.

Thought Provoker said...

You wrote...
"I don't think you know what purpose and intention are. Of course they require a mind - they are mindful processes. They entail conscious decisions. How can something without a mind "intend"?"

It looks like you are starting to see the light.

You are getting down to actually "begging the question".

You are asking me to agree with your conclusion by "begging" me to agree with your semantics and framing.

"Mind" implies a human like brain and thinking but, of course, that isn't what you mean, or is it?

"Consciousness" is more of a more general term.

And followed up with...
You are missing a key component of Aquinas' argument. It's not that nature actually has intentions - it's that nature acts as if it had intentions. BIG difference!

Yes, the "BIG difference" is a dispassionate observation and a biased conclusion.

"nature acts as if it has intentions" is the observation. The prima facie (default) conclusion would be that nature itself has intentions.

However, that doesn't sit well with egotistical men who insist their existence must be somehow special. They insist a human-like intelligence MUST be in charge.

Now, if you want to play a semantic game with the term "intent" we can switch to "purpose".

Thought Provoker said...

You wrote...
A "universal wavefunction" does not explain the specificity we see in nature. How does the universal wavefunction decide whether this carbon atom becomes part of a tree, a frog, a human being or a star?

It appears you just can't let go of the classical materialistic view of bits of matter, atoms.

Do you assume "atoms" exist if no one is looking at them?

Daniel Smith said...

"You are asking me to agree with your conclusion by "begging" me to agree with your semantics and framing.

I'm using standard definitions for the terms "intent" and "mind". You seem to want to redefine the terms to mean something different in order to bolster your position.

Who's "begging" who here?

Daniel Smith said...

"Do you assume "atoms" exist if no one is looking at them?"

It doesn't matter. You are focusing on the wrong part of the argument. No rabbit trails here!

Thought Provoker said...

You wrote...
"There is a lot more intent and purpose in the universe than just that..."

Existence is the real trick. Everything else is trivial by comparison.

Try to imagine how time came to be.

Our universe's space-time geometry truly has four dimensions.

From a universal point of view, all of "time" from beginning to end already exists.

Personally, I think there is no such thing as true randomness. This leads to the conclusion that most, if not all, things that exist, exist because it has to. Otherwise the nothing would exist, including the universe itself.

Thought Provoker said...

You wrote...
"I'm using standard definitions for the terms "intent" and "mind". You seem to want to redefine the terms to mean something different in order to bolster your position.

Who's "begging" who here?"


Word choice is usually at the heart of framing a debate.

You say "mind"
I say "Awareness" with "Consciousness" as a compromise.

You say "Intent"
I say "Interconnected" with "Purposeful" as a compromise

It looks like we need to go to concrete examples if we want to continue.

The Moon cause tides. Is this "intent", "purposeful" and/or simply "interconnected"?

You have provided rock atoms as an example, do you have a better example of your "intent"?

Daniel Smith said...

You have provided rock atoms as an example, do you have a better example of your "intent"?

According to Aquinas, all of nature shows "what looks like intent" (my paraphrase) in that all things regularly tend toward certain ends. Nature behaves reliably (not randomly). If it were not so, we could not do science. If what goes up today goes down tomorrow for no reason whatsoever then science becomes impossible. You brought up rocks and light - both follow regular patterns of "behavior". It's just a common observation that every part of everything acts as if it has a job to do. Some things do their job well, some - not so well. Aquinas' fifth way is based on simple, basic observations - this is what makes it so powerful.

Thought Provoker said...

Daniel,
From your opening post...

"No, to Aquinas; even the rocks cry out "Design"! And this is true of nature everywhere we look! Everything we see, everything made of matter, has bits and particles within it whose job seems to be simply to maintain and sustain that very thing that they are a part of."

While you didn't exactly say "rock atoms", I thought it was a reasonable conclusion to what you meant.

I agree it looks like there is no such thing as randomness, but that doesn’t mean a miraculous deity automatically gets to fill the gap. For example, Quantum Physics provides repeatable and testable observations of orchestration at the fundamental level of “matter”.

If you want to believe "YHWH" is behind it all that is your religious right. There are plenty of Theistic Evolutionists (e.g. Ken Miller) who do just that.

Daniel Smith said...

Quantum Physics provides repeatable and testable observations of orchestration at the fundamental level of “matter”

You're making my point for me!

"repeatable and testable observations" are what Aquinas was referring to. Those are a validation that his first premise is true.

The mistake you are making TP is that you want to lump Aquinas' arguments in with ID type arguments. Aquinas was not making a scientific hypothesis - he was making a philosophical proof. It has nothing to do with 'god of the gaps' or with something science has yet to explain. Even if science had explained everything, Aquinas proof would stand! The only way to counter a philosophical proof of the type Aquinas makes is to show either that one of his premises is false or that his conclusion doesn't logically follow from his premises.

You have done neither.

Thought Provoker said...

Daniel,

You wrote...

"Aquinas was not making a scientific hypothesis - he was making a philosophical proof.
...
The only way to counter a philosophical proof of the type Aquinas makes is to show either that one of his premises is false or that his conclusion doesn't logically follow from his premises.

You have done neither."


Premise - I think, therefore I am.

The truth is what I think is reality is actually reality.

Conclusion - whatever I conclude is correct.

Now, try to prove my premise is false or that my conclusion doesn't follow the premise.

Stating a premise that forces a desired conclusion may be what you call "philosophical proof", but it is a common occurrence by many who simply want to believe what they want to believe.

Using the term "intent" to describe the interconnectedness of matter is just semantics.

Declaring that "intent" requires some kind of being to do the intending is presuming your desired conclusion.

On top of that, you still haven't addressed the questions as to why the alleged being is YHWH and not some other deity like Brahman, Zeus, Odin or any of the many other Gods made in man's image.

Finally, the only example you provided explaining what you mean by matter having intent (Rock’s "bits and particles") you are now walking away from.

I offered the Moon's interconnectness with tides as an example of what I am talking about.

If you don't like the moon or Rock atoms, surely you could provide another example of matter exhibiting a behavior you call "intent".

Daniel Smith said...

Where to start? There are so many errors in your last post, I don't know where to begin! Your answers show that you don't know a premise from a conclusion, that you don't respect or understand logic, that you don't listen, that you don't accept standard definitions of terms and that you haven't even tried to understand Aquinas' argument.

It's very frustrating having a discussion with you. You're just going to keep repeating the same mantra until you wear me out aren't you?

Here's an example: "the only example you provided explaining what you mean by matter having intent (Rock’s "bits and particles") you are now walking away from."

First, I've never said that matter "has intent" - only that it acts as if it does. Second, if you had bothered to read my original post you'd have noticed that the example I provided was "all of nature" not just particles in rocks. You cited quantum mechanics discovering order and repeatable results at the most fundamental levels of existence and I agreed. That's another example that is confirmation of Aquinas argument. If you think I've begun "walking away from" anything, you're delusional!

You gloss over the obvious implications of his argument and try to make it all about semantics.

"Using the term "intent" to describe the interconnectedness of matter is just semantics."

Again: I've never said that matter "has intent" - only that it acts as if it does. Matter regularly and repeatably tends toward certain ends. This can be verified by observation - anywhere you look. It is an indisputable fact. This is goal-directedness, this is consistent with purpose and intent. I've been consistent from the beginning on this and you've repeatedly refused to try to understand that distinction.

"Declaring that "intent" requires some kind of being to do the intending is presuming your desired conclusion."

No, it's also an observable fact. "Intent" requires a mind. Why be dense about it? I've challenged you to show how something that is not conscious can "intend" anything. You cannot.

I'm not going to even get into your silly "philosophical" argument (that would get you laughed out of any "Beginning Philosophy" class), nor am I going to get into the weeds with you over the identity of God. I told you that we were going to stay on topic and you agreed.

Until you can correctly state Aquinas' Fifth Way (showing me that you actually understand it) and then tell me what's wrong with it, we won't be moving to any other topic.

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Daniel,

"You're just going to keep repeating the same mantra until you wear me out aren't you?"

No, my intent is to get you to provide a specific example out of the many observations you claim exist in nature. Just one you are willing to try to defend.

You wrote...
...if you had bothered to read my original post you'd have noticed that the example I provided was "all of nature" not just particles in rocks.

From your opening post...
"No, to Aquinas; even the rocks cry out "Design"! And this is true of nature everywhere we look! Everything we see, everything made of matter, has bits and particles within it whose job seems to be simply to maintain and sustain that very thing that they are a part of."

This is a sweeping declaration lacking any specifics other than rocks which you now deny was a specific example. Instead of providing other specific examples or further explanations you have just repeated your sweeping declaration over and over.

A common term for this is "Begging the question".

Begging by demanding others agree with your and Aquinas's declaration that matter exhibits intent while simultaneously insisting matter can't possibly have intent. Thus concluding, God must exist.

You are assuming your conclusion.

"Matter regularly and repeatably tends toward certain ends. This can be verified by observation - anywhere you look."

Great, then provide an example!

Just one. Not a sweeping generalization. An actual observation.

A rock being a rock?

The moon causing tides?

A photon demonstrating wave/particle duality?

An electron teleporting in a tunneling diode?

The GHZ effect offered in the scientific paper I linked to earlier?

"It is an indisputable fact."

It is an indisputable fact you are declaring your sweeping declaration is an indisputable fact.

You are assuming your conclusion.

"No, it's also an observable fact."
Then provide an observation. Give a specific example. Just one.

""Intent" requires a mind."

A declaration that automatically leads to your desired conclusion.

"Why be dense about it? I've challenged you to show how something that is not conscious can "intend" anything. You cannot."

Examples include...

A rock being a rock.

The moon causing tides.

A photon demonstrating wave/particle duality.

An electron teleporting in a tunneling diode.

The GHZ effect offered in the scientific paper I linked to earlier.

This is where you bring out the dictionary to argue the proper definition of the term "intent".

Guess what that is?

It is a semantic argument bordering on equivocation.

I say what you are observing is the "interconnectedness" of matter. You want to use the term "intent" and then argue semantics.

Can you provide an example which distinguishes between my "interconnectedness" and your "intent"?

"Until you can correctly state Aquinas' Fifth Way (showing me that you actually understand it) and then tell me what's wrong with it, we won't be moving to any other topic."

Since you won't ever concede I understand Aquinas' Fifth Way until I agree with it, we probably won't be moving to any other topic.

So let's stay with this one. Please provide a specific example of the multiple observations you say exists in nature.

Provide just one observation which shows a difference between “interconnectedness” and “intent” that isn’t just a semantic argument.

Thought Provoker said...

You implied I strayed off topic with...
"...nor am I going to get into the weeds with you over the identity of God. I told you that we were going to stay on topic and you agreed."

You brought up the topic of the identity of the mind which is doing the "intending" in the opening post. Quote "Hmm... an intelligent being outside nature... I wonder who that could be?"

However, I agree, this is a side issue. I will drop it as long as you don't bring it up again.

Anonymous said...

TP,

You may find this nourishing reading.

http://thomism.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/coynes-claim-to-miss-no-subtleties-in-st-thomass-arguments/

-Euphrates

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Euphrates,

Thank you for your attempt to help in the conversation.

I notice your link didn't address the fifth way specifically. So far Daniel and I have been focusing on the fifth way only. I would like to continue doing that for the time being (we can go to the others ways after that).

If there is something you would like to point to that is applicable to the fifth way, by all means please do so.

Meanwhile, here is one of the challenges posed that I would agree is applicable...

"St. Thomas denies the infinite regress of per se causes, not the infinite regress of per accidens causes. Explain the difference between the per se and the per accidens."

To save space, a fairly good description can be found here

Did you pick up on the subtlety that my premise that there is no such thing as randomness implies there is no such thing as accidents or chance?

Everything is interconnected.

Daniel Smith said...

"Great, then provide an example [of intentionality in nature]!"

Anything you cited would work as an example: rocks, the moon, photons, electrons, The GHZ effect (whatever that is), anything within the "all of nature" I cited. I've left the door wide open - pick anything you want that you think disproves the premise.

"You are assuming your conclusion."

No, I am (more correctly Aquinas is) putting forth a premise that is readily testable. The conclusion (which comes later) is based on the validity of the premises and logic.

"Examples [of things without minds that can intend] include..."

Nothing you cited would work as an example: rocks, the moon, photons, electrons, The GHZ effect... none of these things can be shown to actually intend anything.

This is where you bring out the dictionary to argue the proper definition of the term "intent".

Yes. I do that because words have definitions. You can't just make them up to suit your arguments.

Can you provide an example which distinguishes between my "interconnectedness" and your "intent"?

Let's review. Here are the two premises:

A) We observe in nature, things with no mind or intelligence - acting as if they have intention, purpose or goals.

B) Only a being with a mind can truly have intentions.

The interconnectedness we see in nature (cited in the first premise) occurs in things without minds, the intent we see (cited in the second premise) occurs in things with minds. They look a lot alike (which is the point!)

And here is the conclusion:

C) Therefore, an intelligent being must be responsible for the intentionality we observe in nature.

Now, here are your choices:
Dispute the validity of the premises rationally and/or show how the conclusion does not follow.

You haven't even shown me that you understand the premises yet.

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Daniel,

I don't know which would be worse; that you think you aren't engaging in avoidance or that you are fully aware and are doing it on purpose.

Either way, I will continue to play the game for a little while longer.

You wrote...

"Yes. I do that because words have definitions. You can't just make them up to suit your arguments."

Then you need to stick to your definitions. If "intent" requires a mind then "things with no mind or intelligence" cannot be "acting as if they have intention" BY DEFINITION!

You are employing equivocation by using "intent" to describe the actions of mindless matter then turning around and redefining it as actions which absolutely must include a being with a mind.

You (and Aquinas) are assuming your conclusion.

"The interconnectedness we see in nature (cited in the first premise) occurs in things without minds, the intent we see (cited in the second premise) occurs in things with minds. They look a lot alike (which is the point!)"

"Interconnectedness" does not necessarily require a mind. You are employing a slight of hand to equate the two terms followed immediately by "begging" how the definition of your word choice absolutely requires what you want to be the conclusion.

It's a semantic trick in an attempt to obscure the fact that you are assuming your conclusion.

You have decided to let me choose your example for you. I fully expect you will run away From that in short order. However, here goes...

The example I gave previously and I give again now is...

"The moon causing tides".

The moon and Earth's tides are clearly interconnected. By what semantic logic are you suggesting this shows the moon acting as if it has intentions?

Are you prepared to update your premise to claim that any and all interconnected activities absolutely require a being with a mind be involved?

If so, then maybe it may be clear to even you your premise directly "begs the question" of your desired conclusion.

You are assuming your conclusion.

Daniel Smith said...

Let's review again:

Your objection to the first premise (that mindless nature acts like it has intentions) is that mindless nature cannot have intentions and that I'm anthropomorphisizing nature.

Your objection to the second premise (that only a mind can intend) is to say that rocks, the moon, photons, electrons, etc. actually do intend!!

You then have the balls to accuse me of using semantic logic!!

Thought Provoker said...

I'm generally flexible about what terms you wish to use as long as you are consistent with their use. It is you who appears to apply importance to specific word choice and definitions.

Words aren't important; it's the ideas behind them.

Terms are arbitrary and transitory. They are symbols on an electric facsimile of words on paper. The form of these scratches could be of just about any form. For example…

намерение

意圖

الترابط

"intent"

If you want to use these scratches to represent the idea of mindless interconnectedness in nature then, temporarily, those scratches represent what mindless matter can do.

A relative question, do you think the moon acts as if it thinks (i.e. acts as if it has a mind)?

I'm interested in which way you would answer that question. Unfortunately, I expect you will continue to engage in avoidance.

Thought Provoker said...

PS. What happened to your "Anything you cited would work as an example...pick anything you want..."?

I picked the moon causing tides.

Are you going to just continue waving your hands in avoidance?

Or are you going to explain how the moon is acting as if it has intent?

Are you going to suggest the moon acts as if it has a mind?

Anonymous said...

TP,

Per accidens entails that the partakers in the casual chain have a causal power independent of each other.

It does not imply randomness or chance. This is made clear in the fifth way.

-Euphrates

Anonymous said...

Personally, I would have stated Daniel's argument like this:

1] Nature exhibits order and purposefulness.
2] This order and purposefulness requires a first cause.
3] Order and purposefulness have only ever been observed to be caused by an intellect.
THE first cause of the order and purposefulness in nature is an intellect.

Of course, you could call this question begging. But then would this would be question begging:

1] I saw a sheep today.
2] All sheep are animals.
TODAY I saw an animal.

Question begging is not when the premises force the conclusion(s), that's just good argumentation.

-Euphrates

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Euphrates,

Thank you again for your constructive attempts to move the conversation forward.

You wrote...
"1] Nature exhibits order and purposefulness."

This is better and exhibits a willingness to avoid a semantic argument. However you slipped in the word "and". Occam's Razor suggests you eliminate that which is unnecessary. Is the term "order" necessary or is it there to make the premise sound more reasonable?

Here is a suggested alternative...

1) Nature exhibits order. This order implies nature exhibits purposefulness.

2] This purposefulness requires a first cause.

3] Purposefulness has only ever been observed to be caused by an intellect.

Ergo) THE first cause of the purposefulness in nature is an intellect.

You noted...
"Of course, you could call this question begging."

Nearly all philosophical arguments are question begging to some degree. However, at least you didn't declare "purposefulness" requires an intellect by fiat (as a "truth" or semantics).

"But then would this would be question begging:

1] I saw a sheep today.
2] All sheep are animals.
TODAY I saw an animal.
"


1] I saw the King of Rock and Roll today.
2] Evil Presley is the king of Rock and Roll.
TODAY I saw Elvis Presley.

Daniel Smith said...

Are you going to just continue waving your hands in avoidance?

I've never done that. You can pretend I have, but that changes nothing. I've noticed that you like to pretend that you have your opponents on the run when in reality you haven't even raised a substantive or rational argument against their position. Don't mistake indifference for avoidance.

Or are you going to explain how the moon is acting as if it has intent?

The moon reliably and observably tends toward certain ends - just like Aquinas' example of an arrow shot at a target. Everything in nature does this. I don't get why you think specific examples bolster your case or hurt mine? You're welcome to continue to bring up examples as much as you want - and to get as specific as you want - anything you can bring up will meet the criteria set forth in the argument. Do you actually think there's something that doesn't? What do you think? Does the moon intend or not?

A relative question, do you think the moon acts as if it thinks (i.e. acts as if it has a mind)?

Yes the moon acts as if it thinks. (The key being "acts as if" so don't go changing that around and start pretending that I'm arguing that the moon actually thinks, because that's NOT the argument!) It acts as if it intends to serve the purposes it does. Do you think it doesn't? Do you think the moon acts as if it randomly bounces from state to state?

So what's your answer? Does the moon intend or not?

Words aren't important; it's the ideas behind them. Terms are arbitrary and transitory. They are symbols on an electric facsimile of words on paper. The form of these scratches could be of just about any form.

You truly do live in an irrational world! If you really subscribe to that philosophy, how can anyone know what you mean by the words you say?

Anonymous said...

TP,

I'll agree to disagree, but I think order does not necessarily imply purposefulness. I can imagine an ordered system that is not purposeful quite easily.

RE: your King argument. If I wanted to dispute it, the way to do it would definitely not be to call it question begging or equivocation (simply because the argument is neither of those things). I would attack the premises (premiss 2 most likely).

You were at your best in this thread when you attacked Daniel's premiss i.e. when you said the laws of physics can explain the order and purposefulness of the universe. Of course, this doesn't really put a scratch on the fifth way because the Thomist would argue the the laws of physics just are a part of nature, thus they are contingent, thus they require a first cause. To be successful in this regard you need to satisfactorily argue that the laws of physics somehow transcend nature and are necessary. This would entail a lot of philosophical assumptions which themselves are prone to attack (as a post in the link I posted earlier said, "Philosophy is hard!").

Another thing to bear in mind when having discussions with Aristotelian metaphysicians is that they are essentialists; because of things like formal and final causes, language directly points to essences/forms etc. In addition, be careful when you accuse someone of equivocation that later on you don't affirm that words are meaningless (which completely undermines the fallacy).

-Euphrates

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Daniel,

You wrote...
"The moon reliably and observably tends toward certain ends - just like Aquinas' example of an arrow shot at a target."

And what are these "certain ends"? An arrow has to end up somewhere. Since time is part of nature and the universe (not outside it), all of the "certain ends" are a given.

Where the arrows land is already part of the interconnected reality that allows the Universe to exist.

The same holds true for the moon's interconnectedness with the tides.

"I don't get why you think specific examples bolster your case or hurt mine?"

Of course you don't, but we are making progress. Note, I don't expect to be able to get you to change your mind. That isn't my intent. I am mostly curious to understand how you can think the way you do.

It's a hobby.

"You're welcome to continue to bring up examples as much as you want - and to get as specific as you want..."

Thank you. However, depending on how this goes, I think the one example will probably be good enough.

"...anything you can bring up will meet the criteria set forth in the argument. Do you actually think there's something that doesn't?"

Since you have committed yourself to saying everything meets the criteria as you have defined it, I'm pretty sure you will repeat the same words regardless of what example I bring up. You did it for the GHZ effect described in the paper I linked to.

Did you even go to the link?

It's not important now since you have already made your ruling on it and there is no way you are going to change your mind, is there?

You asked...
"Does the moon intend or not?"

The moon is an interconnected part of the universe. A universe that contains all of time.

I suggest the moon has no separate "per se" identity (ht to Euphrates) the moon is part of the universe like a wave is part of the ocean or a knot is part of the rope.

It's like asking if my fingers intented to press the keys they do.

The ultimate question is whether or not the universe, itself, has purpose and "intends".

I argue there are repeatable and testable scientific observations which provide evidence that consciousness is just as much a part of the universe as the moon, maybe even more so.

Is it possible there is a coalescence of all consciousnesses (for all time) which makes the universe itself a conscious mass mind that is aware and capable of intent?

I don't know. I suspect the truth is probably more extreme than that and beyond our understanding.

At the very least, it looks like the Universe has at least the obvious purpose of existence.

I think there is a reasonable probability the universe exercises intent.

You admitted to the logical repercussions of your argument and declared...
"Yes the moon acts as if it thinks."

My compliments. You avoided avoidance.

Now for the ramification of this…

By your definition a single conscious being can intend.

How about a group of conscious beings?

Can a committee intend?

How about all of the conscious beings in the known universe?

If sonsciousness is an interconnected part of the universe then all conscious beings in the universe are part of the universe.

Would you admit it is possible the universe itself can intend?

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Euphrates,

You wrote...
"I'll agree to disagree, but I think order does not necessarily imply purposefulness. I can imagine an ordered system that is not purposeful quite easily."

I hope this isn't a precursor to you leaving.

I was enjoying your input.

It's late. I will try to give a more detailed response in a follow up comment. Hopefully, it will intrigue you enough to continue.

Daniel Smith said...

"And what are these "certain ends"? An arrow has to end up somewhere. Since time is part of nature and the universe (not outside it), all of the "certain ends" are a given."

How so? How does time help your cause? How does time explain how the matter that makes up the moon does something different than the matter that makes up the sun?

"Where the arrows land is already part of the interconnected reality that allows the Universe to exist."

No, it ends up closer or farther from the target it was shot at. Without a shooter (an "intender") the arrow would have stayed in the quiver. The target is what was aimed for. The matter that makes up the moon - and the moon itself - act like they are aimed at a target. That target is different from other targets that similar matter elsewhere seems to be aimed at. The matter in your body is similar in many respects to the matter that makes up the Atlantic Ocean, but the matter in your body is aimed at different targets than the matter in the Atlantic Ocean. How does "time", "interconnectedness" or "the universal wave function" explain any of this?

"I argue there are repeatable and testable scientific observations which provide evidence that consciousness is just as much a part of the universe as the moon, maybe even more so."

Isn't that what I've been saying? I say "nature reliably and repeatedly tends toward certain ends as if it intends to do so" and you say "repeatable and testable scientific observations provide evidence that consciousness is part of the universe".

You recognize the "consciousness", but refuse to recognize the "mind".

You seem intent on arguing solely out of distaste for the idea of God.

"That isn't my intent."

That's interesting... What does the word "intent" mean in this sentence? Do you literally mean "That isn't my interconnectedness due to the universal wave function"? Or do you mean "That isn't my conscious decision"?

"It's like asking if my fingers intented to press the keys they do."

Do they? Because you're right - that's a very good analogy of what's going on in the universe.

Thought Provoker said...

Hey Daniel,

You forgot to respond to something...

"By your definition a single conscious being can intend.

How about a group of conscious beings?

Can a committee intend?

How about all of the conscious beings in the known universe?

If consciousness is an interconnected part of the universe then all conscious beings in the universe are part of the universe.

Would you admit it is possible the universe itself can intend."


We need to keep this a two way conversation. I will respond to your comment after you respond to mine.

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Euphrates,

Please excuse the delay.

You wrote...
"I'll agree to disagree, but I think order does not necessarily imply purposefulness. I can imagine an ordered system that is not purposeful quite easily."

I agree, I suggest it is possible ordered systems can exist without purpose.

If this is the case then we need to answer Uncle Willy Occum. Why do we need to bring "purposeful" in if order is good enough?

Or, conversely, why talk about "order" if purpose is the causal link?

You wrote...
"You were at your best in this thread when you ... said the laws of physics can explain the order and purposefulness of the universe. Of course, this doesn't really put a scratch on the fifth way because the Thomist would argue..."
I don't like arguing in the 3rd person. What do you say?

Are both "order" AND "purpose" needed for your argument?

If so, why?

"Another thing to bear in mind when having discussions with Aristotelian metaphysicians..."

Thank you for the advice. Are you an Aristolelian metaphysician?

"In addition, be careful when you accuse someone of equivocation that later on you don't affirm that words are meaningless (which completely undermines the fallacy)."

That is an interesting leap.

I don't care if you call an orange drink a "cola" (as they do in some parts of the world). However, if you turn around and try to argue orange drinks are made from kola nuts then that's equivocation.

I hope you continue your commenting, Daniel could probably use your help.

Anonymous said...

TP,

I think you have the razor backwards. Order and purposefulness are the phenomena. The intellect is the explanation. I cannot see how I can make the explanation more simple in this case.

As for your other questions; I am an amateur philosopher who is partial to Aristotle over Plato, and Plato over Descartes.

-Euphrates

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Euphrates,

You wrote...
"I think you have the razor backwards. Order and purposefulness are the phenomena. The intellect is the explanation. I cannot see how I can make the explanation more simple in this case."

Occam's razor is more subtle than just saying simpler is better.

Saying nature has purpose (i.e. purposefulness) alone is good enough to suggest an intellect is behind it. The term "Order" is unneccesary bling.

It's like saying...

"Leaves are Green and have a purpose, ergo an intellect is behind them."

Daniel Smith said...

"We need to keep this a two way conversation. I will respond to your comment after you respond to mine."

Fair enough, but I'm going to hold you to that!

"By your definition a single conscious being can intend."

Not by "my" definition - by "the accepted English language, in every dictionary in current usage, and as everyone but you seems to agree" definition.

"How about a group of conscious beings?"

A group can agree. A group can all have the same intentions, but a group cannot "intend" unless that occurs.

"Can a committee intend?"

See above.

"How about all of the conscious beings in the known universe?"

See above.

"If consciousness is an interconnected part of the universe then all conscious beings in the universe are part of the universe. Would you admit it is possible the universe itself can intend."

I really don't know how to interpret that statement.

First: We can agree that all conscious beings in the universe are part of the universe so the qualifier ""If consciousness is an interconnected part of the universe then..." is unnecessary.

Second: Are you saying that conscious beings in the universe somehow magically intend for the whole universe? Or, are you saying that the universe is conscious and causes intentions in everything - but especially in the conscious beings within the universe?

If the former, then definitely not.

If the latter, then you're getting warmer. Only it's not that the universe itself is conscious; it's that there is consciousness behind the universe. You can't use the universe to explain the universe.

Anonymous said...

TP: You need to use Occam's Razor on your argument.

E: No, I don't. The explanation is as simple as it can be.

TP: You don't understand Occam's Razor. It's obviously too subtle for you.

Isaac Newton: "We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances."

Who to believe, who to believe....

-Euphrates

Anonymous said...

"Leaves are Green and have a purpose, ergo an intellect is behind them."

This would follow as being like the argument I presented if order/non-order was even remotely close to being the same category as greenness/non-greenness.

-Euphrates

Daniel Smith said...

Hi Euphrates,

Thanks for contributing here. I've been meaning to respond to you - especially the post where you restate my argument and link it to causality - but have a limited amount of time online and have been busy with TP.

Anyway, I think that - while all things eventually get back to causality (Ref: the Second Way) - Aquinas was actually giving an argument for forms and final causes in the Fifth Way. His "arrow shot to its mark" analogy is meant to be understood, I think, in the light of how well (or how poorly) natural bodies instantiate their respective forms.

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,

I have to admit, I've never thought of the analogy that way before. I always thought Aquinas was making an inference from the empirical observation of intentionality (or final causality) to the existence of an Unmeant Meaner.

I tend to think of the five ways as one long argument rather than five compartmentalised ones; which is probably why I tend to state them all in terms of causality.

-Euphrates

Thought Provoker said...

Please excuse the delay.

I had submitted a long comment earlier but it got lost.

Now things have come up requiring my attention.

Daniel Smith said...

Hi Euphrates,

"Unmeant Meaner" huh? That's a new one on me!

"I tend to think of the five ways as one long argument rather than five compartmentalised ones"

Though your approach is probably more cohesive, I've taken the opposite approach; only because they all seemed so similar to me at first. (I figured there had to be differences I wasn't noticing!) I try now to view each one as a stand-alone argument; independent of the others.

The Fifth Way then, seems to me to be the least theoretical of the five - being based on direct observation of how nature acts and direct observation of how minds intend. The only reason it points to God (to my mind anyway) is because the only kind of mind capable of causing the observed intentionality of all of nature could not, itself, be part of nature. It would have to be supernatural.

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Daniel,

Work has ramped up so that I need to work crazy hours and weekends.

However, I told you I would answer your questions, so here I go...

"How does time help your cause?"

As I indicated earlier. The big trick of the universe is existance. The universe exists in its entirety. All of time exists in its entirety.

"How does time explain how the matter that makes up the moon does something different than the matter that makes up the sun?"

There are no "bits and particles" which make up the moon verses making up the sun. It's all part of a single interconnected wavefunction.

Instead of the Sun versus the Moon, think of rainbows versus shadows.

To my saying "That isn't my intent."

"That's interesting... What does the word "intent" mean in this sentence? Do you literally mean "That isn't my interconnectedness due to the universal wave function"? Or do you mean "That isn't my conscious decision"?"

I had intentionally used the word "intent". (and I just did it again).

In both situations, it was my interpretation of how the future path is laid out. We are interconnected. Like entangled photons my spinning one way causes you to spin a different way.

If you haven't figured it out by now, my view of the universe and time is that everything is fixed and deterministic.

That pretty much means I don't actually have free will, but that doesn't stop me from acting as if I do.

If an omnicient God exists, I am obviously acting as he/she/it expects me to.

If God doesn't exist, I am acting as required by the interconnected universe.

All I can do is my best.

I doubt I will be able to give this any more of my attention in the foreseeable future.

Thank you for the opportunity to engage in this philosophical sparring.

Daniel Smith said...

I'm speechless after that one.

Anonymous said...

Hey, here from Black Sabbath Online. I started reading a comment or two but, ugh. Too many ideas at once. I think it is best to go through this one point at a time.

A) We observe in nature, things made of matter - things with no mind or intelligence - acting as if they have intention, purpose or goals

A word at a time even. "We" to Aquinas meant his contemporaries. We, meaning you and I, well, do we even agree on this point? The "acting as if they have intention, purpose, or goals" I mean. I can certainly work myself into a frame of mind where it seems that way, I suppose.

In more detail, "Observing in nature" means, to me, using our senses, our deluded senses, to come to some sort of common sense conclusion. Magic tricks work in this way, leading us to say "the rabbit acts as if it must have materialized out of nothing", "that woman acts as if she is levitating." Our senses deceive us. Science is a means of extending our senses, fine tuning them, getting closer to observing what is "actually" there rather than what our unaided senses tell us, and by "us" I mean our culturally situated minds. You and I shall a cultural frame of Christianity (having been raised at such and such a time at such and such a place.)

Before I continue, let's give a concrete example of a thing made of matter, with no mind or intelligence, acting as if it has intention, purpose, goals. Let's slow down the magic trick to super slow mo, and have cameras set to record every possible angle so nothing is hidden. If we can agree to do that. You mentioned rocks, or rather, the component parts of a rock acting as if they have the goal of being a rock. To me, it seems that it comes down to molecules binding together for some magical reason (by which reason I mean molecular forces). If a non sentient bit of matter has rules governing it's interactions with other bits of matter, it may seem as if it is acting intentionally, but it's just a matter of forces, it seems to me (the word "rules" is a tricky one that presupposes a rule maker. But lets say the rule is covalent bonding of electrons, it's been a while since I studied chemistry, maybe you can enlighten me.) Bringing the general down to the specific is a good way of making sure we are on the same page, to satisfy the "we" part of Aquinas's statement. So please, enlighten me. How do the component parts of a rock seem to act as if they have intention, and, if they do, why should we give that "seeming" any importance (ie. why trust our sense and inferences about it, as with a magic trick?)

I read through this and can anticipate what you might call a flaw. Magic tricks are performed by sentient beings, ie. people, so not the best example on my part. I'm having difficulty thinking of a situation where some natural phenomenon seems to be acting as if it has intention but is rather the result of hidden forces (causes) chancing to interact.

Aha! take the wind for example. One could say that the wind conspired to blow your hat off your head, which is to say you can put yourself in a frame of mind where it "seems"that the wind acted intentionally, but it is simply chance that you happened to be wearing a hat and the wind happened to be blowing. Hopefully that's a better example.

Anonymous said...

The following doesn't prove anything, but just for fun, let's turn this proof on it's head.

A. We observe events in nature, events arising from things made of matter that have no mind - like the wind blowing my hat off my head - that seem to happen merely by chance, although giving the illusion of intentionality.

B. It is a truth that if a mind were behind these events, they would not be left to chance.

C. Therefore there is no creator.

Pretty silly "proof", but I'm sure I could defend it if you were to argue against it by focusing on inconsequential errors in the phrasing of your argument. Might be a fun game if you want to give it a go. On second thought...

Anonymous said...

I think I may have it! Eureka!

A. You observe an action in nature and infer the only way it could happen is if it were somehow directed toward some specific end. You read goal directed motion into nature, you do not simply observe something acting as if it has intentions, you observe something acting and infer (what is meant by "seems to have a goal") it is goal directed.

B. You rightly deduce intention is only possible with sentience, so the thing itself cannot be the source of the apparent teleology.

C. You wrongly deduce that God did it (given the argument). Another possibility is that your initial inference of apparent intentionality is simply an illusion (like deducing "The wind acted as if it meant to knock my hat off my head! Therefore, somebody must have put that intention there!")

In short, somewhere in your reasoning you move from "it seems to be goal directedto such and such a specific goal" to "it is goal directed to that exact goal" (whether by itself or from a creator). That is where the argument fails. Amen.

Daniel Smith said...

Hello Sicko! Welcome to my blog.

We should probably deal with the argument as Aquinas presented it rather than my flawed 'modernization' of it.

Here is his argument:
"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."

One sentence at a time. "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." So he gives his evidence as to why he thinks things "act for an end" in that they act "always, or nearly always, in the same way". This is an undisputed fact of nature. Things in nature have predictable actions (if they didn't, science would be impossible). Now he adds at the end "so as to obtain the best result", and it is my understanding that what he means here is that those things are judged to be 'good' or 'bad' by how close they are to the predictable standard. A heart is a 'good' heart if it pumps blood regularly and strongly. It is a 'bad' heart if it irregular or weak. So, to my mind, there is not much to dispute here.

2nd sentence: "Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end." He is saying here that it isn't chance that causes these things to act, for, if it were, they would not be predictable - they would act randomly, occasionally acting one way, then another. There would be no way to predict what a thing would do. He infers design here, but he backs it up with an example in the next sentence...

3rd sentence: "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." This is the meat of his argument. He is saying here that it is impossible for something that lacks intelligence to move toward an end. Now this seem silly to us today in that we have come to accept that everything is explainable via purely material causes. But is it? Sure we can point to forces that bring things together, covalent bonds between molecules, chemical reactions that take place, etc. But do any of these things actually explain the predictability of nature? An enzyme sits inside a cell reacting with substrates and producing products, regulated by feedback of some sort, just like a little machine... is that explained entirely by chemical reactions and covalent bonds? Or one could argue that things don't really have 'ends' - they just do certain things. But that's just semantics. It doesn't matter if it's called an 'end', it only matters that it is predictable. And the example he gives, "as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer", shows how he arrives at his conclusion. An arrow, lacking intelligence, cannot propel itself toward a bull's-eye on a target - it does not have the capacity to do that - but an archer can cause the arrow to be propelled towards the target because an archer has intelligence.

Continued...

Daniel Smith said...

...Continuing

So, in essence, Aquinas is saying that unintelligent things cannot act predictably because they lack the capacity to do so. They must be designed to do what they do.

I break things down farther than he does because scientific advancements let us observe levels of the material world Aquinas never dreamed of. I think that his observation holds true because, as I said at the Black Sabbath forum, the farther down we go, the more things turn out to be the same. I don't think there is a good explanation for why material things gather themselves into cohesive units, differentiated one from the other, and act in a way that is for the betterment, or at least the continuance, of the whole. If there is an explanation of this, I have not seen it, but I would welcome any attempts to provide one.

Last sentence: "Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God." This is the natural end of his argument. Any being who directs all natural things would be consistent with our definition of "God".

Anonymous said...

Glad to be here, glad to be here. Okay, I'll focus my argument on Aquinas's writings rather than yours. One sentence at a time per post, so each of us has to answer to an individual argument, rather than picking and choosing what we respond to. That makes for a much more "logical" debate. Agreed?

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.

In this sentence we do not have only observations, but also inferences. "We" (meaning Aquinas and the other folks around in the middle ages, who knew nothing of the unpredictability of quantum reality. So, since he does not address Quantum mechanics, we need not address it here.) The observation part of the sentence is that we see non-sentient objects "always" acting in the same way. I would contend the "always" part (as evidenced by using quotation marks.) But, again, let's not focus on that, certainly some things close enough to always act in the same way, and he does provide for that with the "or nearly always". However, that things "act for an end...so as to achieve the same result" is an inference drawn from the observation. If this were just an observation, it would read "the predictable actions result in predictable ends" not that the actions occur in order to produce the ends. Aquinas is not saying objects act as if they are goal directed, or act as if they may be goal directed, he is saying their actions are goal directed, point blank. If a river always acts in the same way to cause erosion, can we logically say the goal of the river (in this action anyways) is to erode the shore? The shore happens to be there, the river happens to be flowing by it, the shore erodes, no intention needed. You could argue that Aquinas says "things" not "all things", and that things have primary goals and there are happy or unhappy accidents that occur along the way. So what is the goal of the river? Maybe the river is not a good example because it is not an actual "thing", but a construct. What the river really is is water collected together. Aquinas didn't observe molecules of water though so he couldn't have meant that. Before progressing we need a concrete example. Speaking of concrete, how about a rock? A rock doesn't act, well, I suppose you could call it's non-action a type of action. The rock sits there. Would Aquinas say the goal of the rock is to be immobile? If a rock intends that or not, it's still not gonna move unless you throw it, or something bumps into it, or water pushes it along, or the ground beneath it gives way, etc. So, maybe you can provide a good Thomistic example that we can agree on because I can't.

Concerning your comments, yes, some things in nature are predictable, some are not. If you are going to bring science into it, you don't have much ground to stand on as to why to leave quantum mechanics out. There was no science in Aquinas's day, he wasn't talking about molecules and such. As far as predictability showing there must be intention, I tend to disagree. In a Turing Test, you can tell whether you are talking to a human or a computer based on the predictability. Humans are less predictable because they have what we'll call free will for lack of a better term. Something acting in the same way every time is evidence of no mind, not evidence of mind or intention. Hearts are judged "Good" or "Bad" based on if they do the job we want them to. The "intention" is ours. And if we are going to talk about hearts, there is a perfectly good explanation for how "good" hearts came to be without any sort of intention being placed there: natural selection. So, as you can see, there is plenty to dispute.

My intention here was to just provide you one argument, I think I may have failed at that...

Daniel Smith said...

I agree that taking it a sentence at a time is a good way to proceed and will help us focus.

Yes, Aquinas writes about natural things as if they are attempting to achieve a result. I'm wondering though, does it really matter whether it's described as an 'attempt' or an 'action' (which would not imply intent)? To me, it makes no difference as the observation remains the same: natural things behave in a predictable manner.

As for examples, everywhere I look I see predictability: water runs downhill and freezes at 32 degrees F, the Sun puts out heat, the Earth orbits the Sun, the Moon orbits the Earth, a squirrel gathers nuts, hearts pump blood, dogs bark, flies produce maggots, (I could go on forever!). I think the Sun is a good example as all parts of the Sun work together to do what the Sun does.

Now I understand the argument that quantum fluctuations are unpredictable (in a sense) but I believe (and I'm no expert) that they are predictable in that, while no one can predict which of the two states will result, they can predict with certainty that it will be only those two states that will result and not some random third, fourth or fifth state. (I apologize if I mistate the science, I'm just parroting what I vaguely remember as an argument against quantum "uncertainty".)

So nature is predictable. I still think that is beyond dispute.

As for your contention that predictability does not equate to intention, I agree that none of these things, though predictable, have intent of their own. A river has no goals, nor does the wind, nor does a heart, yet these things behave predictably. The point is not that these things have goals of their own, but rather that they show an intent of design. In one of your posts at the Black Sabbath forum, you talked about the bricks in your house versus the bricks in a neighbor's house. That was a good analogy in that the bricks themselves have no internal purpose, no goals, no intelligence, yet your bricks support your house (by design) and your neighbors bricks support his house (by design). The key is the intent of the designer, not the building blocks. The same can be said for natural things, they work as they were designed to work. These things have no intent of their own but they are carrying out the intent of another. It's important that you understand that distinction if you want to understand Aquinas.

Anonymous said...

Glad we agree to go a sentence at a time.

Note that in my first post in our latest debate, I did not dispute that nature is mostly predictable, and I agreed we can leave quantum mechanics out (as long as we leave all other science out as well, as Aquinas wasn't talking about science.) But as you note, there are only a certain number of particles and such so there is a level of predictability in even quantum mechanics. On this we agree.

So let's move on to your final paragraph. I understand what Aquinas is on about, not that the objects themselves have intention, but a designer must have intended them to achieve certain goals. It's the "must have" that is in dispute. The example of the bricks is actually not a good one, because people design houses, and, although I promised to not get ahead of ourselves here, neither is the arrow reaching its mark because of a person shooting it. Er, well, those are good examples of intent by design, but they do not work as an analogy to objects that move without people making them do so. An analogy to the bricks that may be admitted into this debate would be the soil in one patch of dirt "working to the continuance" of one mountain, while a patch of dirt elsewhere contributes to the continuance of another mountain. The mountain didn't have to be created by an intelligent being for such a miracle to have occurred (sorry for the irreverence.) And though I said no science, I can't help but once again point to natural selection as a "blind watchmaker". Evolution actually occurs not because of predictability, but because of chance mutations. The "designer" would be reproductive survival sorting out the "good" mutations (those providing an adaptive advantage) from the bad. In short, once again, that a component piece of an object remains where it is can be perfectly explained by forces, and things that work best survive are both alternate, dare I say better explanations for design, or apparent design, than an intelligent creator.

But all science aside, that something appears to be designed does not mean it has been. That in itself is an error in logic "If X got here because of factor B, then Y, which is similar to X, must have also gotten here by factor B". Do you see the very simple error in logic there?

Anonymous said...

I must admit, I made a semantic error in saying "the goal of the rock" in my first post in this line. What I meant was the goal of the supposed designer for the rock, I can see how it may have appeared I was confused there. It's just simpler to say the goal of the object, but I do need to be careful in how I phrase concepts. In any case, I do not mean that an inanimate object can have goals of its own, that would be silly, and I am not silly!

Anonymous said...

Also, you could rephrase my faulty logic proof "X exists because of factor B, therefore Y, which is similar to X, must also exist because of factor B" so it is no longer faulty by "X and Y are both subsets of C. All subsets of C exists because of factor B." But you'd need some kind of hard evidence why all subsets of C exist because of factor B, so given the evidence, it is still faulty.

Daniel Smith said...

Well, for starters this is not a 'creation vs. evolution' debate as neither has any bearing on Aquinas whatsoever. It's not about things 'appearing' to be designed either (does a rock look designed?). It's not an ID or creationist argument so get that out of your head.

Aquinas is arguing about nature at a fundamental level. His argument is not about how things got here, nor is it about how things work, it is about WHY. Why do things in nature work at all? We tend to think that if we understand *how* something works then we've explained the 'why', but that's not the case. We can explain all of the fundamentals of a combustion engine yet that tells us nothing about why Ford put a 289 V8 in a Mustang. We can explain every chemical reaction that takes place in the Golgi Complex but that doesn't tell us anything about why those chemicals are doing that. Chemicals can't care about the well being of the organism just like V8 engines can't care about the well being of a car. Yet these things are actively doing work to fulfill the needs of the organism or the car. If you recognize that the building blocks of nature are mindless particles, you will be at a complete loss to explain why they so actively work together for purposes outside themselves. Yet all of nature does that. Everything is made up of mindless particles actively joined together and doing some kind of work. WHY?

I know you've heard me say it before but I still have not heard a rational explanation as to why the universe does not just descend into chaos. There is no logical reason for it not to. There is no 'advantage' for an element to join together with other elements and start performing work. What difference does that make to a hydrogen atom? So Aquinas has a valid point.

Daniel Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Let's forget about the reasons why things work ( forces, evolution) , in fact let's say those explanations are outside the scope of the discussion. Then let's just say WHY in capital letters. That's a pretty shoddy argument. Yes, there is no logical explanation for elements to "work together" because they don't " work together". They do what they do. And when you say "no logical explanation" you seem to imply that your god explanation is not logical. That's a start! Nowhere in your response to my main point ( just that things seem to be designed doesn't mean they are) did you satisfactorily actually respond. You just keep shooting out the same arguments like you're reciting some kind of a rosary or novena. This discussion does not resemble a debate.

Anonymous said...

I've decided to answer you point by point, just to show what that looks like:

Well, for starters this is not a 'creation vs. evolution' debate as neither has any bearing on Aquinas whatsoever. It's not about things 'appearing' to be designed either (does a rock look designed?). It's not an ID or creationist argument so get that out of your head.

Well for starters the title of your post here is "Intelligent Design according to Aquinas." It is a debate about whether or not Aquinas's "proof" of intelligent design is sound. Nowhere did I say this was a debate about evolution vs. creation, I used evolution to show that something can "appear" designed (which doesn't mean it "visually looks designed" come on now. You're fighting shadows) when it is not. Appearing, seeming, visual analogies for "appearing" or "seeming" to the mind. That was never in my head so it doesn't need to get out. Maybe you've had arguments in the past where this rhetoric actually applied, not here though.

Aquinas is arguing about nature at a fundamental level. His argument is not about how things got here, nor is it about how things work, it is about WHY.

Let's go back to what Aquinas actually wrote. He didn't say "nature at a fundamental level is predictable." He said:

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.

Things are goal directed he says (and remember, whether they have the goals "themselves" or a designer had goals for these things, they "have" goals. I'm not saying a rock "wants to be immobile", I'm saying God wanted it that way. According to Aquinas. So please don't attack another straw man, hay all over the place, messy.) Going one sentence at a time here. He doesn't ask why things got here, he doesn't ask how they work or how they got here, in fact, he hasn't asked a single question yet. He has just made an assertion that actions in nature are goal directed because they seem that way. I say that is a flaw in logic. Please address that and stop arguing about positions I haven't even taken so we can continue in a civilized manner. But, just to answer your digressions, who says there is a "why", some reasonable reason for why the universe exists? Why does the universe not descend into chaos? Because it is held together by forces. Why are the forces there? You got me, it's a frontier of science. You're saying you know why and the why is God. Based on "logic". Please, let's not get ahead of ourselves anymore, focus on the argument at hand. Sentence one, once again:

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.

And my problem with that: You can't logically say objects act for an end, or are goal directed, or have been directed by a designer to produce certain results. You can say it seems that way, you can't say it is that way. Not logically. I'm not sure what the technical name of such a fallacy is. How is that not fallacious? Address that if you will.

Anonymous said...

Just to flesh out exactly what the "fallacy" is: This is a statement, not an argument at this point in Aquinas's line of reasoning, so technically it is not a fallacy, just a false premise (I contend) because of the assumption of intent. Again the sentence in question

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.

As for a possible faulty argument that could lead to Aquinas thinking natural objects "act for an end": If something is A: designed (well-designed) to achieve some specific end then it will B: achieve that specific end always, or nearly always. B: Natural bodies achieve specific ends always or nearly always. Therefore A: they must have been designed to do so. In logic terms: If A then B; B, therefore A. This is called affirming the consequent.

Daniel Smith said...

I apologize for misunderstanding your argument. I will try to focus on what you actually say and not on what I'm reading into your words. I have had tons of debates about ID when I used to defend that position (I no longer do). Aquinas' proof is different from ID. I know the title of this thread gives the impression that it is about ID but that was just a ploy to spur discussion. If you go back and read my initial post, you'll see that it's more a condemnation of the ID movement than anything else.

So let me try to focus on your main argument (you write so much that it's hard sometimes to narrow things down).

Your main disagreement seems to be with Aquinas' statement that things "act for an end". Let's break that down. Do things 'act'? The obvious answer is yes. Do things that act, act predictably? Again I would say that yes is the obvious answer. So what do we call that? He calls that acting 'for an end'. What would you call that predictable action? Forces? Reactions? Evolution? These are not answers, they are part of the question! Forces act predictably. Reactions are predictable. Even evolution is predictable - else how could scientists successfully predict the various 'missing links' they've discovered? So these things are part of what Aquinas calls things that 'act for an end', so if you use "nature" as a counteragrument that is just begging the question.

Part of the problem is that we are isolating one sentence here. He goes on to clarify why he thinks there is intent when he says "Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end." Notice he says "hence", meaning this is a continuation of the previous sentence. So we need to keep these thoughts together as his first premise. His first premise then is this: "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.". So the points in his first premise are three: (1)things lacking intelligence (2)act predictably (3)and not due to random forces. This is the observational part of his argument. Which of those three points do you dispute? Or do you just not agree that that implies intent?

Daniel Smith said...

One thing I feel I have to respond to...
Yes, there is no logical explanation for elements to "work together" because they don't " work together". They do what they do.

I can only hope that you are being completely facetious here. Read a biology textbook and tell me that molecules don't work together. Every molecule in your body right now is working together with other molecules in order to do the things that keep you alive. Look at the sun and tell me that its constituent parts don't work together. If they didn't work together, the sun would not work at all. I'm not sure if you're playing some semantic game here or if you really can't acknowledge that things in nature work together, but it doesn't make your case any stronger when you say things like that.

Anonymous said...

Now we're cooking! Your third point, that they don't act because of random forces, isn't actually stated, but fair enough, I agree it isn't random. Yes, my issue is that he says they achieve their ends by design. It is implied by the observations, but by no means a necessary conclusion. I stand by my statement that he makes the error of affirming the antecedent. Things that are designed do display those qualities, but the existence of those qualities do not mean they must have been designed. Unless you use an if and only if statement, but I don't see how " if and only if" can be confirmed here. Logically speaking.

Anonymous said...

I need to rephrase to avoid confusion: Things that are designed do display predictability and achieve specific ends, but because something acts predictably and achieves specific ends does not mean it must have been designed. It means it could have been designed, not that it must have been.

Anonymous said...

Concerning "working together". They do certainly "work" (act). Since they are all gathered in one spot, you could say they work (act) together. The problem is what "working together" implies. It seems to imply that molecules have a choice, or that they could somehow work in different ways. Because of the forces that exist, and because they are what they are, they do what they do. They do not have consciousness, not that anybody is aware of anyways. When you say they "work together" it brings a commune of farmers to mind.

Here is what you wrote:

Every molecule in your body right now is working together with other molecules in order to do the things that keep you alive.

I would change it thus to eliminate the notion of intent:

Every molecule in your body right now is, in conjunction with the other molecules, keeping you alive.

Not "in order to". That either presupposes they themselves have intent or that they were designed to do so. And again, if we are going to talk about living beings, we have to bring evolution in. If molecules do not contribute to the reproductive survival of a species, or hinder that reproductive survival, the species does not survive. If there is any designer, it is natural selection, which is not an "intelligent" designer.

Daniel Smith said...

As to the logic argument, I had to look it up but... Aquinas is not affirming the consequent in his argument because he doesn't present it the way you do. His statement is closer to this: "Things that predictably act toward an end do so by design. Natural bodies predictably act toward an end, therefore they do so by design."

A side note: What we are talking about is not whether something is designed or not, although that is an implication of the argument, what we are talking about is about whether things exhibit teleology or goal-directedness.

Aquinas and I say that teleology in nature is real, you say no, it is only apparent. But who has the stronger argument? Our argument is that nature exhibits all of the characteristics of teleology, therefore teleology is real. Your argument is that, yes nature exhibits the characteristics of teleology but teleology is not real, only apparent. Let's consider the logic of those arguments. If I say something "looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, therefore it is a duck", no further explanation is required because all of the evidence presented supports my conclusion. If, on the other hand I say it "looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but it is not a duck", further explanation IS required because my conclusion goes against the evidence. I must therefore give my reasons for why the evidence does not support the obvious conclusion. So as regards teleology our case is the stronger, more obvious argument and all of the evidence presented supports it, therefore no further evidence or argumentation is needed. Yours is the weaker argument as it contradicts the evidence, therefore you must provide additional argumentation in support of your conclusion.

So let's review where your argument stands in that regard. You have agreed that things in nature that lack intelligence behave predictably and not due to random forces. In short, you agree that these things give the appearance of teleology. Yet, you do not believe this teleology is real. So far your reasons as to why you reject teleology have been 1) the semantics of the argument are flawed, 2) things that look like they are directed may not really be directed, and 3) that "forces" could be giving the appearance of direction. I must say, these are not strong reasons, surely not strong enough for me to abandon the obvious conclusion.

Daniel Smith said...

Well, I just found out that I'm basically an idiot. While trolling around on Feser's site I stumbled across this article on teleology that shows how badly I defend Aquinas.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/09/teleology-revisited.html

If you're really interested in what Aquinas meant by his statements, you should probably go to the expert and forget about most of what I said...

Anonymous said...

I'll go check out Feser, but I do need to respond first.

As to the logic argument, I had to look it up but... Aquinas is not affirming the consequent in his argument because he doesn't present it the way you do. His statement is closer to this: "Things that predictably act toward an end do so by design. Natural bodies predictably act toward an end, therefore they do so by design."

This doesn't eliminate the problem, it just shifts the problem to the first premise, namely "Things that predictably act toward an end do so by design." Flipping it around to "Things that are designed predictably act toward an end" makes the premise better, but then the rest of the argument falls apart. The way you phrased it "Things that predictably act toward an end do so by design. Natural bodies predictably act toward an end, therefore they do so by design." Would be like stating "Baseballs that land in the outfield get there because the batter hit them there. There are baseballs in the outfield, therefore the batter hit them there." The baseballs could have been thrown there, they may have blown there by the wind, etc. To be precise, the exact problem is that discovering one cause for an outcome doesn't rule out other causes for a similar outcome.

When you say I am the one who needs to provide the evidence, I say, fair enough. For living things we have evolution. For atoms, planets, asteroids and the like, we have the physical constants, atomic forces, gravity and the like. There is actual evidence for those theories, whereas there is none (other than "it seems that way to me!") for God. Your move sir. Putting "forces" in quotes doesn't make them less real by the way. Now you can say "yeah, but where did the forces come from?" And I would say, I don't know, and if you say you do know, and that it was God, well then, burden of proof goes to you.

Daniel Smith said...

When you flip Aquinas' argument around you are no longer using his logic, you are using yours. If you want to say his argument falls apart, then you must critique his argument, not a misrepresentation of it.

As to your evidence, do you think things like evolution, physical constants, atomic forces, etc, absolves you of a need to explain teleology? When you say "for living things we have evolution", how does that explain the observed teleology of living things? Evolution exhibits teleology, its processes- random mutation filtered through natural selection - are predictable, its end - the survival of the fittest, scientists can retrace it's steps because it does what they expect it to do. So you're using teleology to explain teleology. How then does any of your evidence explain teleology? All of your evidence follows the same pattern. You don't actually say how any of it explains anything, you are merely moving 'the thing that needs explaining' around, like a shell game. So any "actual evidence" you can site will support "actual teleology". The findings of science will not contradict Aquinas - they will overwhelmingly confirm his argument. I actually LOVE the findings of science because everything I've ever read about how nature works confirms what I believe!

Anonymous said...

I said the problem with Aquinas's argument here is in the premise, a couple times now, no need to explain it again. Go back and read in context. Evolution explains why living organisms appear designed, natural selection weds out bad models. Forces explain why molecules bind together. You say it's because of magic. This argument is going nowhere because you are more concerned with defending your viewpoint than logic. No use explaining it all over again, read what I wrote carefully, don't cherry pick what might appear like a daily argument when taken out of context

Anonymous said...

Typos: daily =flawed. Weds= weeds.

Daniel Smith said...

You took an argument that was in the form "if A then B, A therefore B", and changed it to "if B then A, A therefore B", (because it made more sense to you that way). You then complained that the argument, not as he stated it but as you stated it, was confirming the consequent. The flaw is with the way you flipped his argument around (those were your words) rather than with his argument.

As for the rest, I will go back and re-read your arguments but I don't think I've cherry picked anything. If you can point to something specific that I've done, I will give it my full attention. It seems to me though that we are at an impasse here because nothing new is being said, we're just repeating the same things over and over and I'm not going to continue doing that. I'm sorry that we couldn't go any deeper. I had high hopes.

Daniel Smith said...

Ok, so I went back and re-read everything said so far and I see an area where I mishandled your point.

You take issue with Aquinas saying "things which lack intelligence... act for an end... designedly". You say that just because something acts predictably doesn't mean it is designed.

From reading Feser's explanation, it is clear to me that Aquinas arrived at his conclusion thusly: if B is predictably the consequence of A, then A 'points at', or is 'directed toward' B as its natural end (consequence or outcome), or more succinctly, B is the natural end of A. The sun puts out heat via radiation, therefore heat via radiation is the natural end of the sun. Aquinas says that we see this throughout nature. This has nothing to do with design (yet). He then gives two options for such an outcome: chance or intent. He concludes intent because the outcome happens "always or nearly always" and not thus is not "fortuitous".

OK, I have given a more refined answer to (what I perceive as) your main objection.

Daniel Smith said...

I will also respond to this:

Evolution explains why living organisms appear designed, natural selection weeds out bad models.
Nowhere did I ask for an explanation as to "why living organisms appear designed". I asked for an explanation for the observed teleology in living things. "Bad models" would have exhibited the same types of teleology as "good models" (ie. 'bad' would be predictably 'bad'), so evolution doesn't explain anything.

Forces explain why molecules bind together.
Nowhere did I ask for an explanation as to "why molecules bind together". Binding together is only a small fraction of what molecules do anyway. Again, you are skirting the real question.

You say it's because of magic.
I have never mentioned "magic", not once. This is a condescending statement born completely out of your own imagination. My answer is the opposite of magic. Magic is an illusion (like you think teleology is).

Someone once complained about "hay all over the place"...

Anonymous said...

You are flailing your arms wildly at this point. When you say that atheists leave your debates because they weren't as prepared as they thought they were, or whatever, you're wrong. Well, at least for me, I'm done because you continually miss the point. What you are doing merely resembles debating. It's been fun anyways, maybe one day you'll look through this discussion and "see the light." I respect that you at least try to make an attempt at careful reasoning. If that sounds condescending, sorry, not everybody can be as wonderful as me :)

Daniel Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Smith said...

As "Sicko" is gone now (that was his moniker at the Black Sabbath forum where our debate began), I'll just flesh out what was wrong with his argument (if only for my own benefit).

Sicko took the words of Aquinas and presented them as an "if A, then B" argument:

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.

If something is A: designed (well-designed) to achieve some specific end then it will B: achieve that specific end always, or nearly always. B: Natural bodies achieve specific ends always or nearly always. Therefore A: they must have been designed to do so. In logic terms: If A then B; B, therefore A. This is called affirming the consequent.

Now Sicko was very careful to point out whenever I strayed from Aquinas' wording so I will be consistent and do the same for him.

Aquinas never said anything even remotely like "If something is A: designed (well-designed) to achieve some specific end then it will B: achieve that specific end always, or nearly always." That part was added by Sicko to aid his own understanding. He takes issue with "act for an end" because it implies intent in his mind. He believes that Aquinas is arguing for design just by making that statement. But Aquinas doesn't introduce intent at all here. When Aquinas says things "act for an end" he clarifies by stating that "this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result" (the "best result" here being the "end” he is referring to). So Aquinas is only stating that things repeatedly act in a certain definable way. That’s it (so far anyway).

The problem for Sicko is that he is focusing on only half of Aquinas' first premise. The premise in full is:

"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 if we want to present that as an "if A, then B" argument, it would be this:

If A: things which lack intelligence act always, or nearly always, in the same way, then B: not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end."

So the "hence" in Aquinas' premise tells us where the "then" goes. Also Aquinas uses the term "fortuitously" to introduce 'chance' as an alternative explanation. This is important as it fleshes out his reasoning. He is not saying "A looks like B, therefore A = B". He is saying that there are only two options to explain this type of behavior: chance and intent, and in this case the repeatable nature of the behavior points exclusively to intent.

So to use Sicko's wording:

If something A: achieves a specific end always, or nearly always, then B: that thing does so by design and not by chance. A: Natural bodies achieve specific ends always or nearly always. Therefore B: they do so by design and not by chance. In logic terms: If A then B; A, therefore B.

Now we need to be careful here as this is still not the full argument as Aquinas presented it, just a portion of it. He goes on to point out that non-intelligent things cannot have intent on their own, it must be supplied by a being with intelligence. And from that point concludes that all of the natural intentionality we see must come from a being capable of supplying it.

Anonymous said...

Sicko here. They won't let us talk about this over there, darn it.

You took my quote out of context. Here is what I wrote, the very important context bolded.

As for a possible faulty argument that could lead to Aquinas thinking natural objects "act for an end": If something is A: designed (well-designed) to achieve some specific end then it will B: achieve that specific end always, or nearly always. B: Natural bodies achieve specific ends always or nearly always. Therefore A: they must have been designed to do so. In logic terms: If A then B; B, therefore A. This is called affirming the consequent. More later.

Anonymous said...

Okay, a bit more. You said:

He takes issue with "act for an end" because it implies intent in his mind. He believes that Aquinas is arguing for design just by making that statement. But Aquinas doesn't introduce intent at all here. When Aquinas says things "act for an end" he clarifies by stating that "this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result" (the "best result" here being the "end” he is referring to). So Aquinas is only stating that things repeatedly act in a certain definable way. That’s it (so far anyway).

Aquinas is stating that things "act for an end." That is different from your condensation (or maybe evaporation) of that phrase to "things repeatedly act in a certain definable way". It is the word "for" that implies intent. "act to an end" would be better, and help to erase the notion that intent is already implied before the argument is fully fleshed out. More later.

Anonymous said...

So, let's just pretend Aquinas used the word "to" instead of "for" so we don't get mired in this part. The fart has been smelled, I sprayed some lysol, moving on.

Anonymous said...

Next you said:

Now if we want to present that as an "if A, then B" argument, it would be this:

If A: things which lack intelligence act always, or nearly always, in the same way, then B: not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end."


We still have the same problem here. Design is presumed to be the only way dumb things can have reproducible results. Introducing the word "fortuitously" as an untenable option doesn't change that fact. Or maybe I misunderstand you?

He is not saying "A looks like B, therefore A = B". He is saying that there are only two options to explain this type of behavior: chance and intent, and in this case the repeatable nature of the behavior points exclusively to intent.

The bolded section still relies on the hidden argument that A. Man made objects exhibit this type of behavior B. Natural objects also exhibit this same behavior C. Natural objects are not made by man D. Natural objects had to have been made by something to act this way E. God did it.

On the Sabbath forum, I pointed to how chemical reactions very much depend on chance encounters of astronomical amounts of molecules. Maybe that is flawed in some way, but that's the type of reasoning, if not the exact reasoning, that Aquinas would have to engage in to show that only intent can lead to reproducible results, it takes more than intuition and assertion.


Anonymous said...

Here's another argument. Maybe you could tell me how this one is wrong:

A. Man made objects exhibit this type of behavior B. Natural objects also exhibit this same behavior C. Natural objects are not made by man D. Repeatable results are therefore not produced only by things that have been designed by man E. Perhaps then, evidence of repeatable results is not evidence of design at all.

Anonymous said...

I must edit my last post

A. Man made objects exhibit this type of behavior B. Natural objects also exhibit this same behavior C. Natural objects are not made by man D. Repeatable results are therefore not produced only by things that have been designed by man E. Perhaps then, evidence of repeatable results is not, by itself, evidence of design.

Daniel Smith said...

You keep wanting to tie the Fifth Way to man-made objects but the argument does not rely on man-made objects at all. It's based on the fact that repeatable results RULE OUT CHANCE. I'll ask again, if not chance, then _____?

Anonymous said...

Where does Aquinas come up with this idea that repeatable results rule out chance? Beyond simply asserting it?

Anonymous said...

Comparing to man made objects, although faulty, would at least include some kind of evidence. Saying that chance does not lead to repeatable results would require a pretty involved mathematical proof. Molecular reactions. Evoltuion. Quantum probabilities. These are the stuff the world is made of, and they all rely on chance. No, not solely on chance, there are also universal constants.

Anonymous said...

And Aquinas does make the analogy to the archer and the arrow.

Anonymous said...

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.

Says Aquinas.

Anonymous said...

So he does not say that because we see man made devices work this way nature must work the same way, you are right. Alas, Aquinas is still wrong, I gave him too much credit with comparing to man made objects actually.

Anonymous said...

And remember, I saidhis argument is "based on the hidden premise" that man made objects, etc. So tell me then, on what is his bold assertion that repeatable results indicate design based?

Anonymous said...

Ok, this is the post you need to read!

Still Sicko by the way (who else?)

I have a 100 sided die. Every time I roll it, each number has a 1% chance of coming up. The maker of the die intended this 1% chance. As such, chance does not rule out intent, and intent does not rule out chance. You could say, however, that a 1% chance every time is in fact a repeatable result. This could be illustrated by having every number on the die be the same. Every time you roll it, you get a 69 (where do I sign up?) Same result every time!

Or is it?

The die still has 100 sides and it still has a 1% chance of landing on each side, regardless of what number is painted on it. You could back up and say "well, there is a 100% chance that the die will land on one of its sides every time you throw it. That is a repeatable result that shows intent". But, as we have seen, intent does not rule out chance, chance does not rule out intent.

In fact, the lack of chance (by which I mean the same 100% chance every time) doesn't actually indicate intent either: Let me offer up this lopsided rock. Every time you throw it, it lands on the same side. Same result every time. Not because it was intended to do that, it happens to be shaped funny and I decided to see what happens every time I throw it.

But ah! It lands on the same side every time because you can always count on gravity, which gives you the same result every time: it draws the rock to the earth. Even there though, there are still remote possibilities that would give us a different result: I throw the lopsided rock in the air and my friend snatches it before it reaches the ground. As I am throwing the rock, a huge asteroid collides with the Earth and sends a chunk flying off, causing the rock to hurtle into space. The rock splinters into two pieces while in the air. Use your imagination, you'll come up with another scenario.

A 100% chance actually never occurs, so there is always chance. The thing that seems to bring chance closer and closer to 100% is a stable set of conditions, which does not require intent, it just requires...stability?

It's late, chew on that a bit, I will too.

Anonymous said...

To sum up though: you say that if it comes up the same every time then there is no chance involved. Yes, that is the definition of coming up the same every time (100% chance = no "chance" involved [two different uses of the word chance there, but I get it]) Intent, however is not the opposite of chance: stability is. So to answer your question: if not chance, then stability.

Anonymous said...

Sicko here.

Here is an article I am not smart enough to understand, but it seems to agree with me so it must be right! By the way, I know you are an opponent of Non-Darwinian ID, but much of what is put forth here seems to apply to ID arguments in general.

http://ramanujan.math.trinity.edu/polofsson/research/Chance.pdf

Anonymous said...

So, sorry for all of these posts, but I gleaned an apparent flaw in what I have proposed. Have I merely shifted the onus from repeatable results to stability? And could you now just move the argument to "the stability of the universe indicates intent"? Yes, you could I think. Even doing that though, the problem remains: Indicates intent how? It is reported, or hypothesized, or shown to be the case using mathematics perhaps, that in a less stable universe, even the laws of physics "break down"(as I recall, sorry for not providing a citation, maybe later). At the moment of the big bang, or in a black hole, would there then be no evidence of intent because of the lack of stability? The universe is stable right now, but hasn't always been, and will not always be. We exist because of the current state of affairs, but we won't one day, and didn't one day. Okay, I'm rambling at this point, I'll try to condense this train of thought to something more wieldy later. It's as if I am at the moment of the Big Bang right now...

Daniel Smith said...

I don't have the time, or the energy, to go through all of your posts argument by argument but suffice it to say that yes, you have just moved the problem around.

Chance, without intent, is based on randomness - it has to be. Randomness may provide repeatable results (repeatably random) but that's not what we see in nature. (I already answered this at the BS forum with the 'marbles in a jar' example from the link you provided.)

Anonymous said...

It's ok, take it an argument at a time when the mood strikes you.

Chance, without intent, is based on randomness you say. Is that the same as when you say repeatable results=intent, or is this some other kind of point? Yes, chance is randomness, with or without intent. However, do you look at a 99% chance the same as a 1% chance? It seems you are making the absurd argument that without intent, dogs would make completely random sounds when they vocalize. Either it barks or it, what, meows? Trumpets? Speaks in complete sentences? Turns into a frog? That would be absolute randomness. In the world of real things, dogs bark, yes, but sometimes loud, sometimes at a higher pitch, sometimes lower, sometimes they whimper (some even make meow-esque sounds, check out youtube). If you simplify everything to ideal rather than real you can make all sorts of dumb assertions. Yay!

Anonymous said...

The point being: Things do not turn out exactly the same way every time. There is an element of chance, randomness, whatever you want to call it, in everything. At what percentage does intent disappear, in your equation? 90%? 75%? If you call it 100% or nothing, then there can be no intent, for there is no 100% (until after the fact)

Daniel Smith said...

I'm going to share a little background information from thomistic philosophy that may (hopefully) shed some light on where Aquinas was coming from. In nature, things have 'natures'. Aquinas would say they have 'forms'. These forms are the 'ends' to which things are directed. Forms, or natures, are at the heart of nature as they differentiate one thing from another. The atoms and molecules at work throughout nature do not differ much from each other, yet the form or nature of whatever they are a part of determines the end they work towards. When he compares acting for an end to an archer shooting an arrow, he's not comparing it to the design of the arrow, he's comparing it to the aiming, or directing, of the arrow toward a target. He could have said 'thrown a rock' and made the same point. It's not the properties of the arrow that matter, it's the fact that it consistently hits the target. The point is that non-sentient objects in nature 'aim at' or 'point toward' definable forms. A dog is not a cat, a rock is not a tree, the sun is not the moon, water is not oxygen, Gravity is not the electromagnetic force, and etc. Each has its own form. And we can tell if a thing is functioning normally or not by how well it conforms to its form.

Now here are some of my own thoughts (as a sort of tangent from Aquinas). Why is there anything other than randomness, chaos and disorder in the universe? The 2nd law of thermodynamics says that entropy, or disorder, must always increase. IOW, the universe is moving from order to disorder. How can that be? How can order exist in the first place if entropy is always increasing? But everything is winding down. The question is, winding down from what?

And no, there is no magic formula to determine intent.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment. I am familiar with the idea of ideal forms from what I have learned of Platonic philosophy. My guess, without looking it up, is that Aquinas is following Plato through the lens of Aristotle, I'm not sure if there are differences between Aristotle's and Plato's ideal forms, but from what you are describing they are at least very similar. My take on ideal forms is that they are mental categories by which we classify the universe, rather than something with any kind of real existence. I also believe that at the heart of Plato's forms was a tacit recognition that nothing in reality actually fits nicely into the categories we ascribe them. Plato would call these flaws in the real, I would say that our categories (what he would call the ideal forms) are what are actually flawed. Given my interpretation of ideal forms, the notion that real objects strive toward these ideals is completely backwards: our ideals are simplified, boiling down of the real for the sake of classification. Our ideals strive toward describing reality, reality doesn't strive to meet our ideals.

Sorry for not addressing your entire post, life calls.

Anonymous said...

The atoms and molecules at work throughout nature do not differ much from each other, yet the form or nature of whatever they are a part of determines the end they work towards.

This is one of our fundamental disagreements. It seems that you are mixing your levels, so to speak, or maybe the problem is you are jumping from the lowest to the highest without examining all of the levels, or steps, in between and proclaiming "you can't get there from here". I am searching for the perfect analogy, having trouble. The best I can come up with right now: take two different man made objects, both made of the same material: a wooden chair and a wooden desk. The wood in both objects does not somehow "work" differently, the wood is simply molded into a convenient shape for sitting or for laying objects on. You could use both objects for whatever you choose though, go ahead and sit on the desk, pile up books on the chair, etc. That last sentence may have been a tangent.

Daniel Smith said...

Re:Forms - Aquinas differs from Plato in that he views forms as intrinsic whereas Plato views them as extrinsic.

Re:Ideals - Natural things differentiate into these 'idealized' categories whether we exist or not. It's not like we're making things up that don't otherwise exist.

Re:Wood,- Yes, you are right, the wood doesn't "work differently", it works the same but is used for different purposes. The same can be said of natural things. Carbon atoms in your body and in the sun don't work differently, they are used for different purposes. This still illustrates goal-directedness.

Anonymous said...

Re:Wood,- Yes, you are right, the wood doesn't "work differently", it works the same but is used for different purposes. The same can be said of natural things. Carbon atoms in your body and in the sun don't work differently, they are used for different purposes. This still illustrates goal-directedness.

I am glad we agree that the basic material does not "work differently" in separate objects. I do take issue with the phrase "used for different purposes", however. The word "used" implies a user, as if the end product, the goal of the final form, somehow "uses" the materials, or that a designer, of whom we have no physical evidence, uses the materials to create the final form. That carbon atoms bond with other atoms in ways specific to their surrounding conditions is a much less problematic way of thinking about it. For a clearer example, take the phases of water. At freezing temperatures, water turns to ice. The "designer" here is the low temperature, the physical state of the water is created by the environment, which I venture to say does not have the goal of turning the water to ice. Nor does a crater have the goal of making water into a crater shape, water simply conforms to the shape of the crater because of its physical properties. Instead of saying that carbon atoms in different objects are "used for different purposes", I would say they give rise to different forms based on their environment. You could retort that is like saying the wood of the chair and the wood of the desk spontaneously generated into their final forms because of their surrounding environment, but the big difference is that we have solid proof that people exist and design those things. The nature of reality dos not imply intent, phrases like "used for a purpose" do.

Anonymous said...

Re:Ideals - Natural things differentiate into these 'idealized' categories whether we exist or not. It's not like we're making things up that don't otherwise exist.

You are right, we are not making up things, but we are classifying them and it is important to keep our labels separate from the reality they describe. "Trees" exist, the word "trees" is an abstract, idealized representation. Our categories are extremely helpful and mostly accurate, I am pro-idealized classification in fact, how else could we communicate? The main point, I believe, is separate from this discussion of ideals in any case.

Daniel Smith said...

First, many of your arguments commit the fallacy of 'begging the question' in that they assume their conclusion. We are debating whether the differentiations we see in nature require a designer. If you say that there is no designer because we "have no evidence", you are ignoring the evidence presented (the differentiations we see in nature) and assuming your conclusion. Or if you argue in the vein that man-made objects are designed but not natural objects, again you are assuming your conclusion.

Second, when you argue that words imply intentionality, you must be consistent. You don't like my words but say things like evolution "weeds out" imperfections or that such and such is "created by the environment". These words also imply intent, but apparently an intent you are comfortable with. If you object to intentionality, try only using words that do not carry a hint of intentionality. And, go ahead and include human action in that as well - since we too are just a product of blind unintentional nature.

Third, our "idealized categories" are based on reality in that they are describing what we observe in nature. Our categories are only accurate to the degree to which they agree with nature. So it's not as if we are inventing things, we are describing them.

Fourth, I started all of this, way back, by saying that your arguments will boil down to two categories: 1) brute fact (that's just how it is) and 2) circular reasoning (the things in nature cause the things in nature to act the way they do). I think the entire discussion has borne this out.

Anonymous said...

First, many of your arguments commit the fallacy of 'begging the question' in that they assume their conclusion. We are debating whether the differentiations we see in nature require a designer. If you say that there is no designer because we "have no evidence", you are ignoring the evidence presented (the differentiations we see in nature) and assuming your conclusion. Or if you argue in the vein that man-made objects are designed but not natural objects, again you are assuming your conclusion.

You have an annoying debating "tactic" where you don't actually answer counter arguments, you just figure out some way that the counter arguments are not "relevant" (they are). And you take quotes outs of context to fit your portrayal of the counter arguments: I did not say there is no designer because there is no evidence. There is no physical evidence of a creator is what I said, I did not say there can be no god because of that. We know that man made objects are designed (thus the name man made), natural objects may or may not have been, that's the nature of the discussion. Talk about begging the question, how about using the phrase "used for different purposes" before reaching your conclusion, in fact, using the premise "used for different purposes" to support that objects are used for different purposes is pretty much the definition of circularity.

Second, when you argue that words imply intentionality, you must be consistent. You don't like my words but say things like evolution "weeds out" imperfections or that such and such is "created by the environment". These words also imply intent, but apparently an intent you are comfortable with. If you object to intentionality, try only using words that do not carry a hint of intentionality. And, go ahead and include human action in that as well - since we too are just a product of blind unintentional nature.

No, the words I use do not imply intent when taken in context. Evolution is not a being so of course it does not have intention, it is a process, a process where bad products are "weeded out", that does not imply intent in any way. Likewise, the environment is clearly not a sentient being, so "created" is clearly a metaphor. You are being intellectually dishonest. And because humans are brought about by blind, unintentional nature as you call it, does not mean we cannot act with intention. That would be a silly fallacy that the likes of the Great Sicko would never commit.

Third, our "idealized categories" are based on reality in that they are describing what we observe in nature. Our categories are only accurate to the degree to which they agree with nature. So it's not as if we are inventing things, we are describing them.

Did I disagree with this?

Fourth, I started all of this, way back, by saying that your arguments will boil down to two categories: 1) brute fact (that's just how it is) and 2) circular reasoning (the things in nature cause the things in nature to act the way they do). I think the entire discussion has borne this out.

You have nowhere shown my arguments to be based on such, at least not successfully. You want evidence of that? You first.

Daniel Smith said...

Which counter argument have you put forth that I did not answer?

Anonymous said...

First that comes to mind is that low temperatures create ice, and that containers make water conform to their shape are both examples of the physical state of an object coming about without intention. You just pounced on the word create and said that nature creating nature is circular (if all is nature then it is not circular, unless you ask "what created nature?" which presupposes it had to be created, begging the question to the nth degree)

Daniel Smith said...

The reason I didn't answer that argument is because I don't take it seriously. You like to use water and wind as examples of things that "take shape" or "act" as a counter argument against intent, saying things like "is the goal of wind to knock off my hat", or "is the goal of water to take the shape of a hole". That's like asking if the goal of a tornado was to blow over my house and not my neighbors - it's a ridiculous caricature of the argument I'm presenting. Water and wind have specificity and direction but their effects are often random. To cite those random effects as examples of the specific directions things take in nature is laughable and I have a hard time treating that as a serious argument. I have cited many examples of things taking much more defined directions yet you have not answered those. If you want to discuss water and wind, let's look at the larger picture and discuss the water cycle and how the specific properties of water and wind combine with predictable results.

Anonymous said...

^^^Yet another example of, rather than answering an argument on its own merit, you dismiss it entirely. That's a poor debate tactic. Wind and water are natural things, are they not? Are carbon atoms more natural or less random somehow? The reason I use water is that freezing and evaporating are simple processes to explain.

Fine, let's use carbon atoms in the sun and in my body. I don't know much about how carbon atoms form molecules in the two different objects and don't feel like looking it up, but I imagine it has a lot to do with what other atoms happen to be in the environment, that one takes place in the earth's atmosphere, the other in space.

Go ahead with your big shot water cycle example, I'm pretty sure it will have the same problems all of your arguments do, and my successful counter arguments will be laughed away for some silly reason.

Anonymous said...

In any case, the point of the water turning to ice example was: Intention is not needed to explain why water turns to ice, it can be explained entirely by natural causes. Is that untrue? That is where your debate should focus, if you were doing it right.

Daniel Smith said...

Ok, I'll try to treat your counter argument with some respect. Water molecules are predictable, they always behave the same. The fact that water freezes at 32 degrees and expands when it does are traits we can count on. Water takes the shape of whatever holes it fills. These traits, and many more are not random, they are fixed. These fixed traits of water show that water molecules do not behave randomly. If water molecules behaved randomly or had traits dependant solely on chance, they would not repeatedly do these things every time. The same thing I just said about water can be said about everything in nature. Yet all natural things are different from one another. None of this presupposes chance. Chance is a bad fit, it doesn't work. You have to shoehorn it in, it doesn't add up.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'll try to treat your counter argument with some respect. Water molecules are predictable, they always behave the same. The fact that water freezes at 32 degrees and expands when it does are traits we can count on. Water takes the shape of whatever holes it fills. These traits, and many more are not random, they are fixed. These fixed traits of water show that water molecules do not behave randomly. If water molecules behaved randomly or had traits dependant solely on chance, they would not repeatedly do these things every time. The same thing I just said about water can be said about everything in nature. Yet all natural things are different from one another. None of this presupposes chance. Chance is a bad fit, it doesn't work. You have to shoehorn it in, it doesn't add up.

That's more like it.(sort of, you still do not answer the actual argument that low temperatures, not intent, cause the ice to freeze, but fair enough, kind of) I agree, the traits are not random, but you are still making the leap "therefore design", a bad explanation because you could easily substitute a number of other possible causes. I also agree that water is not, say, poop. That water is itself does not lead to the conclusion "therefore design." Randomness actually does not ever occur by the way, we use the word chance when we cannot predict an outcome with complete accuracy. Like a dice roll, the outcome is not random, there are simply too many factors involved for us to be able to calculate the outcome. Dice are man made, an example of chance (not randomness) arising through design. This argument clearly shows that design can lead to unpredictable outcomes.

In short, water always freezes at the same temperature, that is not up to chance (on the face of it anyways, although water's specific properties very likely arose from a chance event). You still have not successfully shown how repeatable results indicate design. Until that happens the argument, and Aquinas's proof, fails.

Anonymous said...

In anticipating your response that it's either design or chance, I would like to again point out that chance does not mean random. Chance means there are too many factors to accurately predict an outcome. If the choice were intent vs. randomness, intent would win. But if it comes down to "The universe was created by a supernatural being vs. I don't know how the universe came to be, there are too many factors to say with certainty at the present time" Substituting my definitions (which I would be bold enough to say are pretty darn accurate), what you would call chance is much more reasonable.

Daniel Smith said...

ran·dom (răn′dəm)
adj.
1. Having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective: random movements. See Synonyms at chance.
2. Mathematics & Statistics Of or relating to a type of circumstance or event that is described by a probability distribution.
3. Of or relating to an event in which all outcomes are equally likely, as in the testing of a blood sample for the presence of a substance.
Idiom:
at random
Without a governing design, method, or purpose; unsystematically: chose a card at random from the deck.

Anonymous said...

The existence of dictionary definitions and what an individual actually means can be completely different. What definition of random do you mean, and do you distinguish between chance and random?

The definition I have been using for random is that any outcome, even the impossible, could occur. That also seems to be the one you are using when you argue that a dog is not a cat, water is not helium, etc., with the difference being you imply that impossible outcomes would be possible without design. There does not need to be intent for water to remain water, a dog to remain a dog, etc. The laws of nature lead to both predictable outcomes and the stability of objects, with or without having to bring a designer in. Were the laws of physics designed? Maybe, but only maybe, no way of knowing. Yet.

Daniel Smith said...

My usage of the word is consistent with definition 1. "Having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective". When I say something happens randomly, I mean it happens "without a governing design, method, or purpose". These are standard uses of the word (hence my direct quote of the dictionary) and should not be controversial.

Aquinas said that it is "plain" (obvious) that acting for an end is not "fortuitous". The reason it is obvious is because randomness does not consistently produce the same result. You want to use the fact that random results are predictable in a different way (in that you can predict odds for particular outcomes, the inevibility of mixing, or increases in entropy) as a sort of 'bait and switch' against the kind of predictability I am using in my argument. I am talking about results that are predictably THE SAME, you are just saying that randomness is predictable. Your counter-argument fails to address my argument, hence Aquinas still wins.

The other thing you do is talk about laws of nature as if they are outside the scope of the Fifth Way. They are not. The laws are part of nature, hence part of 'that which needs to be explained'.

Anonymous said...

Aquinas said that it is "plain" (obvious) that acting for an end is not "fortuitous". The reason it is obvious is because randomness does not consistently produce the same result

Let's take an example of something that always comes out the same: The Earth rotates every 24 hours (approximately). Actually, if we were to get technical here, it has not always been that way (used to take about 6 hours), and will not always be (a long time hence it will take about 40 of our days). Yet, the rotation is still predictable, based on the laws of physics. We know why it takes longer and longer, and the change comes about at a steady rate. Why does the Earth rotate? Because of the conservation of angular momentum. That answer is sufficient for me, no need to deposit a designer to make that happen. The regular spin of the Earth resulted from a supernova explosion, which, by chance, affected the cloud of gas that became our solar system, leading to the regular counter-clockwise spin.

There we have chance events leading to regular, repeatable results that come out the same every time.

The laws of nature are not effected by the rest of nature, so they do stand outside in a sense. They can truly be called unmoved movers. Any guess at how they came to be will be a brute fact (they didn't have to be created or they had to have been created, same brutishness with either option.)

http://www.universetoday.com/14491/why-does-the-earth-rotate/

Anonymous said...

One important point that you did not address: When you say, for example, that dogs are dogs, not cats, elephants, zookeepers, etc, you imply that without design impossible things would happen. I say that whether or not the laws of nature were designed you do not get impossible outcomes (ie. outcomes that break the laws of physics).

Daniel Smith said...

Re: the earth's rotation - You are taking something that came about via the regular laws and natures of things and ascribing it to chance. This makes the regular laws and natures subservient to chance and makes chance, not the laws or natures, the essential component of the universe. To say that order results from disorder is to say that the greater is from the less. This is unintelligible and absurd.

Re: laws of nature - The laws of nature do not stand outside of nature. These "laws" merely describe the regularities we see in nature. It is telling that you ascribe certain regularities (idealized categories) to our mental processes yet treat others (the laws of nature) as the very essence of the universe.

Re: the impossible - I do not say that "the impossible" can happen (you actually did say that though), I say that random chance is not capable of producing repeatable results, hence the repeatability we see in a dog cannot be attributed to randomness.

Anonymous said...

The super nova exploding and the drifting cloud of gas happening to be close enough to be so effected was a chance occurrence. Had that not occurred in precisely the way it did would mean no earth, no Aquinas, no you and me. We are here by chance, in tandem with the laws of nature.

The greater can't come from the lesser? Are atoms greater than humans? That's a ridiculous claim.

The universal constants are unaffected by nature, that was what I wrote, and in that sense they stand outside. Do you think the universal constants are affected by natural events? Just about every scientist would probably laugh, point fingers, and blow raspberries at you.

The regularity we see in a dog is part chance, part the nature of existence, universal constants, molecular interactions, etc. Would you say that chance pays absolutely no role in reality? I never said it's all chance, you seem to be pitting intent against absolute chance. That's not the choice I see.

Daniel Smith said...

Every statement you made begs the question.

The super nova exploding and the drifting cloud of gas happening to be close enough to be so effected was a chance occurrence. Had that not occurred in precisely the way it did would mean no earth, no Aquinas, no you and me. We are here by chance, in tandem with the laws of nature.

You are assuming your conclusion that this was a chance event.

The greater can't come from the lesser? Are atoms greater than humans? That's a ridiculous claim.

Your assumption that atoms alone produced humans (which is what you must be saying for this to be an answer to my argument) begs the question. Of course I know for a fact that you don't actually believe that atoms alone produced humans, you will undoubtedly cite a number of other factors and causes. If that's the case however, why make such a ridiculous statement in the first place?

The universal constants are unaffected by nature, that was what I wrote, and in that sense they stand outside. Do you think the universal constants are affected by natural events? Just about every scientist would probably laugh, point fingers, and blow raspberries at you.

I did not say, or mean to imply, that the laws of nature are "affected by nature", I said they describe the regularities of nature and thus are part of the question. To make them part of the answer, begs the question.

The regularity we see in a dog is part chance, part the nature of existence, universal constants, molecular interactions, etc. Would you say that chance pays absolutely no role in reality? I never said it's all chance, you seem to be pitting intent against absolute chance. That's not the choice I see.

You misunderstand the role chance must play in your worldview. If there is a hierarchy of causes, chance must be at the top of your list, else you have lost. If you appeal to the laws of nature, universal constants, the nature of existence... anything besides chance, you are begging the question. Those are the very things we are arguing about and thus MUST BE subservient to chance or Aquinas is proved right.

Anonymous said...

You are assuming your conclusion that this was a chance event.

It reeks to high heaven of chance. Yes, it is an assumption, but one based on reality. Your assumption "God did it!" is based on...

Your assumption that atoms alone produced humans (which is what you must be saying for this to be an answer to my argument) begs the question. Of course I know for a fact that you don't actually believe that atoms alone produced humans, you will undoubtedly cite a number of other factors and causes. If that's the case however, why make such a ridiculous statement in the first place?
Really Wall? Your arguments get weaker and sillier by the minute. I assumed that atoms alone make humans? WTF? If you gleaned that from the sentence I wrote your reading skills kinda blow. It does answer your argument. Atoms are lesser than humans. They lead to humans (through a number of processes): greater from lesser. Evolution: greater from the lesser. You can't get greater from lesser! said the man...

I did not say, or mean to imply, that the laws of nature are "affected by nature", I said they describe the regularities of nature and thus are part of the question. To make them part of the answer, begs the question.

Why do they describe the regularities of nature do you think? Maybe, perhaps, because they are the cause of that regularity? Hmmmm...You really love to say begs the question. Not sure you know what it means.

You misunderstand the role chance must play in your worldview. If there is a hierarchy of causes, chance must be at the top of your list, else you have lost. If you appeal to the laws of nature, universal constants, the nature of existence... anything besides chance, you are begging the question. Those are the very things we are arguing about and thus MUST BE subservient to chance or Aquinas is proved right.

No. You are the one who frames the argument as "Intent or chance". Is nothing left to chance with your view? All is intent? How about the wind knocking the hat off my head (an example you don't like because it proves my point). Given the universal constants, ie. the cause of the regularity, the rest is chance. There is no hierarchy here, to clim one as superior to the other is pretty silly. And yes, the laws of physics very well may have arisen by chance.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/physics/2013/12/frozen-accidents-can-the-laws-of-physics-be-explained/

Does that prove it? No. Does Aquinas's flawed proof prove God: no, no, no.

Daniel Smith said...

Yes, it is an assumption, but one based on reality.

That is not an argument, it's an assertion.

I assumed that atoms alone make humans? WTF? If you gleaned that from the sentence I wrote your reading skills kinda blow.

I said "To say that order results from disorder is to say that the greater is from the less."

You said "The greater can't come from the lesser? Are atoms greater than humans?"

The obvious implication of that statement is that you believe that humans "come from" atoms. And, you must mean 'atoms alone' in order for it to be an answer to my statement because if you actually mean "atoms plus a whole bunch of other stuff" then your "greater from lesser" argument fails. My reading skills are fine. Maybe you should start thinking before you type things.

Atoms are lesser than humans. They lead to humans (through a number of processes): greater from lesser. Evolution: greater from the lesser.

You contradict yourself. So which is the cause of humans: "atoms"? "a number of processes"? "evolution"?

Why do they describe the regularities of nature do you think? Maybe, perhaps, because they are the cause of that regularity?

Sigh

You really love to say begs the question. Not sure you know what it means.

I told you what it means and described how every one of your arguments begs the question.

No. You are the one who frames the argument as "Intent or chance". Is nothing left to chance with your view? All is intent? How about the wind knocking the hat off my head (an example you don't like because it proves my point).

Really? Let me get this straight. I present Aquinas' argument to you. It is plain to anyone who pays attention that the "end" of anything (as Aquinas describes it) is whatever it does when it acts. Whatever it regularly does. Whenever wind acts, it is blowing. That's the only thing it does when it acts. Therefore the end of wind is 'to blow'. This is easy to see and an indisputable interpretation of Aquinas' argument. You then take that, twist it, and derisively turn it into "the wind always blows off my hat, is it the 'goal' of wind to blow off my hat?" Then you complain when I don't take your arguments seriously? OK, I'll take it seriously: yes, it is the goal of all of the wind in the world to blow off your hat. That's what wind is here for. Right now there's some wind working itself up in China just so it can make its way to your neighborhood to blow your hat off. It really is all about you. Happy? Your "example" is a blatant mischaracterization of the argument. It is akin to someone saying "evolution says that man came from monkeys, monkeys are still here, so evolution is not true". If someone says that, you can rightly conclude that they are an ignoramus who hasn't bothered at all to try to understand what they are arguing against. Let that sink in before you respond.

Given the universal constants, ie. the cause of the regularity, the rest is chance.

More assertions that only beg the question. I'm starting to see a pattern here: You fail to understand the question. You fail to see the flaws in your own arguments (even when they are described to you in detail). You make bald assertions. Your assertions beg the question and contradict each other ('it's chance', 'it's not chance'; 'it's atoms', 'it's evolution'). You've lost this argument (and badly) yet you fail to realize it and confidently carry on as if you're winning.

There is no hierarchy here, to clim one as superior to the other is pretty silly. And yes, the laws of physics very well may have arisen by chance.

So there IS a hierarchy.

Anonymous said...

Not answering last post yet (will read and respond later), but you did bring up a good point about "the laws of nature". They are descriptions of how matter behaves and interacts, not some kind of magic spell that was cast upon nature. I still do not see "therefore God" however.

Anonymous said...

That is not an argument, it's an assertion.

And "God did it" is an argument? I know, Aquinas's proof says more than simply "God did it", but that is what the proof "boils down to".

Going forward to the wind, okay, its "intent" (ie. "what it does") is to blow. The "intent" of my hat is to cover my head. When two separate "intents" (two systems, objects, what have you, that act "the way they do") collide, that is a chance encounter. Does God really care enough about my head to have intended this encounter? I would guess no (yes, that's a guess. Would you guess no?)

Likewise, the cloud of gas, if it has an "intent" it is to drift about space. The supernova has the intent of exploding. The two happen to cross paths, the hat flies off (ie the solar system is formed). Maybe God intended that exact thing to happen, maybe he simply intended the gas cloud to drift and the supernova to explode, maybe he just intended matter to behave in a certain way and both the cloud of gas and the supernova were chance results of matter behaving in the way that it does. Why does matter behave the way it does, symmetrically, regularly, "logically"? That is a question that cannot be answered given our current knowledge. I say I don't know, you say you do know and the reason is God, that's the big difference.

Anonymous said...

that was supposed to read "would you guess yes?"

Anonymous said...

You contradict yourself. So which is the cause of humans: "atoms"? "a number of processes"? "evolution"?

I never said any one of those were the sole cause of humans, so there is no contradiction. Do you agree that humans are greater than atoms? molecules? hearts? livers? I say they are. Humans, the "end product" if you will, are greater than any of the things that make it up. Something greater from something(or some things) lesser. Consciousness is greater than matter I would also assert. Consciousness is an emergent property of matter. Thinking from no-thinking. Greater from lesser.

Anonymous said...

The wind knocking the hat off my head is a matter of chance, obviously (unless you really think God intended that.) Chance events (meaning, for the purpose of this sentence, events that were not intended) do happen in the universe, as evidenced by the now world famous hat-wind scenario. Do you agree that chance (again, not intended) events occur? If so, then who is to say (assuming there is also "intent", for the sake of this sentence) where the intent comes in?

Anonymous said...

Now here's the kicker: the fundamental laws (let's call them descriptions) of matter do a pretty fine job of explaining most of what we see as occurring by chance (by which I mean separate systems colliding). They do not explain themselves, they are the final frontier let's say. Your desire to know the answer, the final cause, is good. Your claim to know is not.

Daniel Smith said...

Obviously chance exists. I never said anything to the contrary. In fact I distinguished between the predictable randomness of chance vs. the predictable specificity of events not governed by chance.

That said, I think it might be good for us to take a step back and reexamine where we are. So far, we have not discussed Aquinas' proof, only the first premise.

"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."

You have agreed to everything he said in this premise except for the last sentence, "Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end." Now there is one thing we need to establish: this premise is not about chance events, it is only about those things obviously not governed by chance. That's important. He is not saying that everything, everywhere, always acts by design, and his premise ignores those things obviously governed by chance. Hence the wind blowing your hat off is not part of the premise (unless it really happens that every time the wind blows, anywhere in the world, it always blows your hat off).

The other thing you must understand is that his is not a scientific argument, (i.e. not an appeal to a preponderance of evidence), it is a metaphysical argument. As such, in order to counter it, you must show that either A) his premises are untrue, or B) his conclusion does not follow from the premises. You are attempting to deny his first premise but commit numerous logical fallacies in doing so. (See this list of logical fallacies).

Anonymous said...

Cleaning the slate and starting over is a good idea, now that we have agreed on some basic definitions. Before we do, I must say that I actually do not agree with everything up until the last sentence of Aquinas's premise. Also, you did point out what you saw as flaws in the examples I gave, I agreed with one or two, not all, jury is out.

"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."

One sentence at a time:

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world.

In the first sentence alone, Aquinas says that the world is governed. If something is goverened, there must be a governor, hence God, right? In any case, not essential to the argument, but if it were this would certainly be a case of begging the question. A it is, I'll grin and bear it.

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.

I do wonder what types of bodies Aquinas meant. Did he consider animals to be intelligent? He does provide an example with "such as natural bodies", also not exactly clear what he means by that, maybe planets, water, wood, that kind of thing? Notice, none of that was refuting Aquinas so no need to attack it :) Always good to have specifics, but since this is metaphysical, generalities will do I suppose.

I have brought up before my objection to "act for an end" and noted that "for" in this case may simply mean "to" so I'll again let that one go. However, "so as to obtain the best result" is nothing more than assertion. And insertion, as in, intent is inserted directly into the premise at that point, no way around it. I agree that there are "natural bodies" that always act in the same way, but to say I know the intent behind the action of natural bodies is, I think you will agree, absurd. I could mention some examples of repeatable results that lead to horrific results (this debate for example :p), but then you might say "who is to say what is horrific and what is best? We cannot know the mind of God." To which I would reply "Then how do you know God acts for what is best?" I won't go there though (although I kinda did). So now for that last sentence:

Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end.

The first problem is the word "hence", as the preceding was simply assertion. Let's say we axe the part about "so as to obtain" though, just so we can move on. "It is plain". People often say that when they have no actual evidence (other words like obviously and certainly fit the bill as well) If it is so plain, why not explain it, simply? Plainly he doesn't because yadda yadda (that was intentional). Nothing wrong with adding a bit of humor to a humorless debate now and then. "...not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end". I don't think it is in any way a stretch to say that what this translates to is that repeatable results are only possible through design. It is a conclusion to the rest of the premise that does not follow from the rest of the premise. Two choices: chance or intent he says. First of all, why are those the only two choices? And secondly, why is it only design that leads to repeatable results?

There you go, no science, all logic.


Anonymous said...

Rereading (which I always do) I see that I might be overly picky with calling out "so as to obtain the best result". Oftentimes in nature, bodies repeatedly do the same stuff and the results are often good. Who is to say "best" without comparing to alternatives though, that must be added. Examples come to mind, but I'll leave them out for the sake of metaphysics.

And I do remember your defense of the two choices Aquinas presents, but when you pit chance vs. intent you are opposing two words that are not opposites. Chance vs. "locked in" and intent vs. accident. Chance could arise through intent, I believe you would agree (dice are designed) and something could be locked into a repeating pattern by accident.

Daniel Smith said...

Re: governance. He is not asserting design here, he is just stating fact. And the fact is that something is directing natural bodies to their ends, whether it be something internal or external, there has to be some cause for this effect. That nature is 'governed' by something, be it the laws of nature, God or both, is not controversial if Aquinas is given a fair reading.

Re: best result. This is not an assertion of design either. One thing you must understand is Aquinas' concept of "the good". It is not the modern moral good (although that is included in it). It is a much broader concept, coequal with 'being'. Thus, for something 'to be', is 'a good'. I know it's archaic and confusing but it is not like he thinks God is constantly tinkering with nature out of concern for the morality of plants, animals, planets, etc.

Re: natural bodies. Natural bodies can include anything natural.

Re: it is plain. He presents his evidence first. The fact that he does so in just one sentence does not lessen the impact. Stated simply; that things act for an end is evident from the fact that they always do one thing and not another. That is also the evidence that this does not happen by chance.

That too, is not controversial.

Daniel Smith said...

Re: chance. Yes there are varying degrees of chance, many of which involve intent. If you and I bump into each other on the street, it is an accidental occurrence, yet most everything leading up to it was by intent: my intention to get where I was going and your intention to get where you were going. Stated simply, intent does not rule out chance, nor does chance rule out intent. But, if something happens only one way every time, if I win the lottery every week for example, then we can be sure that the result is no longer due to chance. Now it is possible for something to get locked into a repeatable result by chance, say if the lottery random number generator was broken, but this is a very rare occurrence and not the normal situation (it would be the exception that proves the rule).

Anonymous said...

Re: it is plain. He presents his evidence first. The fact that he does so in just one sentence does not lessen the impact. Stated simply; that things act for an end is evident from the fact that they always do one thing and not another. That is also the evidence that this does not happen by chance.

There is good evidence and there is bad evidence.

That things always do the same thing is not evidence that they "act for an end". It may suggest they "act for an end", certainly a reasonable possibility. However, it is only evidence that they do the same thing, the rest is assumed. Now, if something happens the same way every time, you are right, that means chance is not involved. However, intent is not the opposite of chance, as I pointed out before, and you agreed to that point. So it still seems that things doing the same thing over and over is not, given this "evidence", a proof of design. It suggests it, ys, it is not a proof.

Anonymous said...

Please excuse typos, should read: "is not a proof of design. It suggests it, yes, but it is not proven.

Daniel Smith said...

You're too hung up on the phrase "act for an end". Substitute any phrase you feel describes 'natural things always doing what they do' and you'll be saying what Aquinas is saying - because that's all he is saying by that phrase. He's saying that things tend toward a definable endpoint. It's really no more than that.

As long as you are willing to concede that always doing the same thing precludes chance, we are making progress.

More later...

Anonymous said...

You're too hung up on the phrase "act for an end". Substitute any phrase you feel describes 'natural things always doing what they do' and you'll be saying what Aquinas is saying - because that's all he is saying by that phrase. He's saying that things tend toward a definable endpoint. It's really no more than that.

You, sir, are too hung up on this notion that I am hung up on "act for an end". I already said I would let that one slide. What about "so as to obtain the best possible result." And "governance of the world". Put all three together and it is clear that the trap has been set, each on its own is, eh, whatever. Well, except the best possible result part. Not "good", "the best possible". Come on now. You can't white wash everything Aquinas wrote.

Your lottery machine example is very good, the conclusion "this is the exception that proves the rule" is silly. The exception that proves the rule for lottery machines, yes. You need to have a rule before you can have an exception. What's the rule again? And why are you calling it a rule?

I think I see why Aquinas appeals to you so much. Common sense, simple, unfalsifiable assertions certainly make a fellow appear smart. With all due respect.

Anonymous said...

I did mistakenly use "act for an end" in the previous post. Substitute "so as to obtain the best possible result" then.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way, you also made a mistake, maybe spurred by my mistake of using "act for an end" rather than:

Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end.

That's the thrust of the whole damn debate, of course I'm "hung up" on it. Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

So again (sorry, I can't edit these posts, that's why so many), it is plain that not fortuitously (ie. by chance) do they achieve their end. It is not plain that designedly do they achieve their end. Not only is it not plain, it is also not necessary, proofs require necessity. You provided the example yourself with the lottery machine, in spite of your attempt to brush that aside with (but that's the exception!) As long as it is even a remote possibility as a thought experiment (remember, this is metaphysics, thought experiments are allowed, unless you want to bring science into it, which I don't believe you do) that the laws of physics (ie. the present condition of nature) are "frozen accidents", then the proof fails. ie. the proof fails.

Daniel Smith said...

I'm going to try to ease your mind a bit (hopefully!)
I will edit the bracketed parts until we are in agreement.

"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]."

Here is my first try:
"The fifth way is taken from [the way the world works]. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, [act toward a distinct endpoint], and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to [arrive at the endpoint]. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but [by nature], do they [arrive at their end]."

Your turn...

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what the point of this exercise is. Substituting "by nature" for "designedly" is a real head scratcher. If the point is, "okay you're right sicko, but let's just move on to the rest of the argument" I applaud you, I suppose I can play along and go to the next part:

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."

Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence...

A tree falls in the forest, dislodging a rock which tumbles down a hillside and knocks my hat off. Wait. It would probably be my head in this instance. If not for "the laws of nature" none of that would have happened, true. Let's put in a bracket:

Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by [nature];

Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God."

with brackets

Therefore [nature] exists by [which everything is] directed to [its end]; and this being we call [nature]."

Daniel Smith said...

I thought you were serious about this for a minute there. It is plain that you're not.

Anonymous said...

Dude, how I can I respond seriously to you substituting "nature" for "design"?

Daniel Smith said...

I substituted "nature" for "design" because that's actually closer to what Aquinas meant. His first premise is meant to be an uncontroversial fact about nature. When he says "designedly do they achieve their end", he means that the end is "integral" or "natural" to them (as opposed to happening by chance). How do I know that? I've been reading up on Aquinas and the fifth way, that's how. His argument for design is NOT in his first premise. I figured that if we could word the first premise in a way that is acceptable to you, while still retaining the original meaning, we could FINALLY move beyond it.

You also have to realize that the five ways were not written with 21st century atheists in mind. Aquinas was writing these things for 13th century seminary students. Plus he wrote in Latin, and translations are often from older Catholic sources. So the language is archaic and meanings have changed. You have to cross reference his other writings, plus those of his influences (chiefly Aristotle and Augustine) in order to understand what he's really saying.

Anonymous said...

In that case, the translation is pretty awful. I do have to wonder what sources you referred to, if they were all written by Aquinas apologists like Feser I remain highly skeptical. Can you point to a specific reference for this meaning of designedly?

I use humor to make a point usually, in fact, when I am using humor I am often at my most deadly serious. I know it doesn't come across that way sometimes, sorry about that.

I still have trouble with the premise even if we do take your translation. "So as to" remains a problematic wording,for it implies/signifies goal directedness. The trouble I have with that, more specifically, is that non-intelligent beings cannot have goals, so if they "do" then the goals have to be placed there by intent. In that way, the conclusion is written into the premise and the argument is circular. Would it be fair to say that Aquinas "really meant":

"The fifth way is taken from [the way the world works]. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, [produce regular results], and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way[ ]. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but [by nature], do they [produce these results]."

or have I taken the bracketing too far? Reading it that way I have no objections, but I fear it has been fudged almost beyond recognition.

Anonymous said...

I realized it doesn't make sense that way, it would have to be written:

"The fifth way is taken from [the way the world works]. We see that [some]things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, [act always or nearly always in the same way and thus produce regular results]. Hence it is plain that [the results are not due to chance]."

Anonymous said...

Looking back, you could bracket out the final sentence altogether, for it simply restates that the regular actions produce regular results, emphasizing it is not due to chance. What about:

"The fifth way is taken from [the way the world works]. We see that [some]things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, [act always or nearly always in the same way, not randomly, and thus produce regular results]. [ ]"

Yes, I am being serious.

Daniel Smith said...

Can you point to a specific reference for this meaning of designedly?

While this paper does not specifically address the term "designedly", it helped me understand what Aquinas meant by the entire first premise.

http://philosophy.ucr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Does-Efficient-Causation-Presuppose-Final-Causation.pdf

I don't have time to address your bracketing questions right now, maybe tomorrow.

Daniel Smith said...

I think your bracketed sentences are all pretty much OK.

That said, are you ready to tackle the rest of the argument?

"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."

I can see already that you will probably object to this part: "Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed..." What I can tell you is that Aquinas distinguishes between voluntary and involuntary agents ('voluntary' being things that can decide what action to take, 'involuntary' being those that can't) and builds his logic from that.

No time to explain further. More later...

Anonymous said...

I've seen this with Feser, lots of talk about final causes, efficient causes, the like. It's all very interesting historically, exploring how people thought in the dark ages and such. However, I don't agree with the notion of final causes. It all still comes down to reading telology into nature, which, for me, cannot be supported by logic. By thorough, honestlogic.

Daniel Smith said...

Make your logical argument then (all you've done is make an assertion).

Daniel Smith said...

Re: wind/hat. This just came to me so I thought I'd better write it down. The wind blowing off your hat is a chance event caused by the intersection of two (in)tended actions: 1) the wind tending to blow, and 2) your intending to wear a hat. If the wind did not blow (even though you're wearing a hat), or if you did not wear a hat (even though the wind is blowing), this chance event would not occur. Hence the wind blowing off your hat is not an example of an intended action.

Anonymous said...

I already made that observation about the wind/hat scenario, guess you didn't read it.

Yes, it was an assertion, based on a logical argument I didn't want to expound upon at the time. As a way of working toward that argument, consider:

An example from something we know has intent: A man robs a bank. What was his intention? To rob a bank is the simple answer, but we cannot say why he robbed the bank, that would be reading intentions that we have no access to. No matter the real intent though, we know there is one there, because a man did it (although it could have been an accident, maybe he was sleepwalking, but it is about 99.999999% sure there was an intention). How do we know there is intent? Because a thinking mind was behind it. With nature, whether or not intent is behind it is what is in dispute here. If there was evidence (good, solid evidence) of intent, like seeing a man make matter do these things (no, not silly, that would be evidence, no?) that would be one thing. That some things in nature have repeatable results and thus have repeatable results is not evidence of intent, it is evidence that nature is not random. An analogy to an archer hitting a target does not suffice as evidence either. We keep dancing around this one very important concept and nothing you have said or pointed to has shown me, in a logical fashion, exactly how repeatable results signify intent, hell, you yourself have noted an instance where repeatable results come about from an accident. The main premise that repeatable results means intent is therefore wrong, no way around it.

Daniel Smith said...

Re: empirical evidence. We've already been over that. This is not an empirical argument that succeeds or fails on a preponderance of physical evidence. That's science, this is metaphysics. The first premise (the minor premise in this argument) is based on non-controversial empirical facts but the argument is an appeal to reason, not to empirical data.

Re: intent. The reason I have not provided an in-depth argument for intent is because we haven't gotten to that part of the argument yet. You keep wanting to make the minor premise about intent when it's really not argued for until the major premise.

Re: causes. What about that logical argument disproving Aristotle's four causes? I'm especially interested in you disproof of the material and efficient causes.

Anonymous said...

You just keep dancing around. The only reason "we haven't gotten there yet" is because we bracketed everything out. Final causes I said, I mentioned nothing of the other causes. As with what I said about the wind/hat scenario, I seriously question whether you actually read what I write here or just see a word that you think you can pounce on when taken out of context. The problem with final causes is the impossibility of determining the final cause (the cup rests on the table, the table rests on the floor, the floor is held up by the foundation of the house, which is held up by the Earth, which is held in orbit by the sun, which is held in orbit by the black hole at the center of the galaxy, which is etc. etc.. Oh wait, etc. etc. GOD! Oh, now I get it. (humor is dead serious)

Just to repeat myself, repeatable results do not equal intent.

Ok, moving on.

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.

scattered list of problems with this:

1. Whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end unless God (paraphrasing) he says. It can move though, yes? No, not even that without intelligence (see the first way). This fifth way then seems entirely redundant.

2. Why one intelligent being, why not 57 (oh no, he used humor! I'll call it silly to bypass the argument)?

3. Do things move "toward an end" or do they simply move, and "ends" happen as a result?

4. How many particles exist in the universe, do you think? And does each one have its own end? And move beyond particles to emergent phenomena such as suns, buses, consciousnesses, pebbles, in short, everything there is. Let's just say they all do have an end, for sake of argument. What an incredibly complex situation! An intelligence that could fathom all of that, intend all of it, have ends for all of it, put it what ever way you want, would be infinitely more complex than that infinite complexity. It seems simply beyond any notion of intelligence that we could conceive. In short, extremely unlikely.

5. Empiricism, shmiricism. Evidence I said, logic is a kind of evidence. Pay attention.

Those are just a few problems. Go find your stock answers to those, triggered by words taken out of context, like a chatbot would.

Daniel Smith said...

You just keep dancing around. The only reason "we haven't gotten there yet" is because we bracketed everything out.

No, I have been waiting for you to drop your objections to every hint of teleology in the wording of the first premise. The only way I could do that was to reword it until you were satisfied.

Final causes I said, I mentioned nothing of the other causes. As with what I said about the wind/hat scenario, I seriously question whether you actually read what I write here or just see a word that you think you can pounce on when taken out of context.

You said, "I've seen this with Feser, lots of talk about final causes, efficient causes, the like. It's all very interesting historically, exploring how people thought in the dark ages and such."

So you mentioned both efficient causes and final causes and equated them to "dark age" thinking. You did go on to say that you had a problem with final causes, but given the context, it appeared that you had a problem with the whole "dark age" notion of the four causes.

The problem with final causes is the impossibility of determining the final cause (the cup rests on the table, the table rests on the floor, the floor is held up by the foundation of the house, which is held up by the Earth, which is held in orbit by the sun, which is held in orbit by the black hole at the center of the galaxy, which is etc. etc.. Oh wait, etc. etc. GOD! Oh, now I get it. (humor is dead serious)

The final cause is just what a thing does. It could be one thing, it could be many things. Humans have a wide range of final causes. Not everything has a final cause either. Part of the problem with the term "cause" is that it meant something far different to Aristotle and Aquinas than it means to us today. They used it more like the term "explanation" than our modern usage of "cause".

Just to repeat myself, repeatable results do not equal intent.

Repeatable results are a sign of intent, but they are not the whole of Aquinas' argument.

Ok, moving on.

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.

scattered list of problems with this:

1. Whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end unless God (paraphrasing) he says. It can move though, yes? No, not even that without intelligence (see the first way). This fifth way then seems entirely redundant.


The fifth way is about the need for an ordering intelligence, so it is not redundant.

2. Why one intelligent being, why not 57 (oh no, he used humor! I'll call it silly to bypass the argument)?

The fifth way works in conjunction with the other four. If there were 57 intelligent beings, then 56 of them would have to be contingent.

Continued...

Daniel Smith said...

3. Do things move "toward an end" or do they simply move, and "ends" happen as a result?

Things that repeatedly act the same way have a determined action. That is what Aquinas calls "an end". If they just move, the end would, of necessity, be random. When a voluntary agent (like us) acts for an end, we choose what end we act for. When an involuntary agent (anything that can’t choose) acts for an end, its end must be determined by something else. The unintelligent things in nature don’t have the capacity to determine their own ends, therefore they must be determined for them by something with the capacity to do so.

4. How many particles exist in the universe, do you think? And does each one have its own end? And move beyond particles to emergent phenomena such as suns, buses, consciousnesses, pebbles, in short, everything there is. Let's just say they all do have an end, for sake of argument. What an incredibly complex situation! An intelligence that could fathom all of that, intend all of it, have ends for all of it, put it what ever way you want, would be infinitely more complex than that infinite complexity. It seems simply beyond any notion of intelligence that we could conceive. In short, extremely unlikely.

You've just described the omniscience of God. That's just basic theology. Despite your inability to conceive of such a thing, we are arguing that that is a necessary quality of a necessary being.

5. Empiricism, shmiricism. Evidence I said, logic is a kind of evidence. Pay attention.

You asked for something "like seeing a man make matter do these things". That is asking for empirical evidence.

Those are just a few problems. Go find your stock answers to those, triggered by words taken out of context, like a chatbot would.

Stop being an ass! The constant condescension gets old. You're not the only one whose arguments are being ignored or misread, I just don't harp on it all of the time. I’ve tried to answer every argument you raise rationally and without rancor. If you can’t be civil, we can be done with this.

Anonymous said...

We can be done if you like. You just called me an ass by the way, and have conducted the entire debate with a condescending tone. In case you do wish to continue, I'll address a few more of your answers:

You've just described the omniscience of God. That's just basic theology. Despite your inability to conceive of such a thing, we are arguing that that is a necessary quality of a necessary being.

Oh, I can conceive of such a thing, I can also conceive of a universe without a designer, can you? Whether or not it can be conceived is not evidence of existence anways. I'm talking about likelihood, probability, that sort of thing. The probability of such an extreme intelligence (one that has goals for every bit of matter) is infintesimally smaller than the probability that matter does not have goals (whether placed there or "inherent"). You could say that it doesn't matter how unlikely it is, if it is a necessary cause, the only possible explanation, then likelihood doesn't matter. However, the argument about necessity is another way of saying "there is no possible way all of existence could be goal directed without an outside intelligence". I agree. However, I would just bracket out the last clause ""there is no possible way all of existence could be goal directed[]" Problem solved.

You bracketed out the teleology in the premise so we could move to the next part, yes, but the teleology is in there nonetheless. You claim I am misinterpreting what was written, or that what was written is a bad interpretation. But even if I do take your word for it, that there is nothing about teleology in the premise (these are not the drones you're looking for) then that sort of shoots the whole argument in the foot, for the premise is where Aquinas supposedly lays down the metaphysical evidence for teleology, which is the basis of the conclusion. Look!:

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.

Notice also "all natural things". You disagree with that somewhere, you wrote that not everything has a final cause (unless you are to argue that Aquinas actually meant "all natural things that have an end, not all, are directed by God"). Ah, here it is

Not everything has a final cause either.

One final observation:

Things that repeatedly act the same way have a determined action. That is what Aquinas calls "an end". If they just move, the end would, of necessity, be random.

If things just move randomly the end would be random yes. If things always move in the same way, the only way the end would be random is if everything else moved randomly so you couldn't determine what the result of the action would be.

Why is motion not random? I do not know the answer, nobody does, all we can do is describe what we see. Maybe someday we'll figure it out. That it has to be directed by a divine intelligence is a guess, not an argument.

Daniel Smith said...

Re: probability. Explain how you arrive at your "infinitesimally smaller" probability for God. What do you base you odds on - your feelings? As I see it, given the five ways, a necessary being has a probability of 1. In fact, based on that criteria, the odds that the universe exhibits the order it does without an ordering intelligence are infinitesimal. Not only do you have the natural order - from every particle to the universe as a whole - you also have instances, as in biological life, where components work to circumvent the natural order: things like enzymes and active transport proteins that cause reactions and movements exponentially (even billions of times) faster than they occur "naturally". If you want to cite odds, give me the odds that all of these things happen without God.

Re: teleology. Nature exhibits apparent teleology. That is the first premise. Aquinas worded it without any reference to it being "apparent" (he obviously believes it to be real) but it is not necessary, for his argument to work, that you concede 'real' teleology at that point. The second premise is about how that apparent teleology requires intelligence.

Re: final causes. When I said "not everything has a final cause" I was referring to things like your wind/hat example. Maybe I should have said not every event has a final cause.

Re: motion. Things don't act randomly.

Re: condescension. How about we agree not to insult each other or use name-calling as part of our arguments?

Daniel Smith said...

Re: a world without God. I can conceive of such a thing (barely). If such a universe could exist (I would argue that it couldn't, since existence itself is impossible without something eternal and uncaused to start it all), it would be a place without order, where nothing had "properties", pure randomness and chaos.

Anonymous said...

Rather than answer every point you proposed, I'm going to just answer the last one, as that is probably the most important concept:

Re: a world without God. I can conceive of such a thing (barely). If such a universe could exist (I would argue that it couldn't, since existence itself is impossible without something eternal and uncaused to start it all), it would be a place without order, where nothing had "properties", pure randomness and chaos.

Let's focus on this part:

If such a universe could exist...it would be a place without order, where nothing had "properties", pure randomness and chaos.

Do you propose that there could be nothing without design, point blank? That is not an argument, not that you said it was, it is an assertion. On what is that assertion based?

If you are following a line of thought that no "properties" could exist, only randomness and chaos, it seems that even randomness and chaos could not exist. You would need a creator for each separate random event, every chaotic "happening" could only happen occur with a driving intelligence. An infinite number of unmoved movers bumping into each other and getting in each other's way. In other words, if the universe was completely chaotic and random, that could only happen with a creator, even more so than with the order we see (following your logic that is, for each separate act could not exist otherwise). This is called reductio ad absurdum and is a perfectly fine debate tactic by the way, Feser approves of it. If your logic applies to one case, it should apply to a similar case. If it does not, the logic is likely flawed. What order means to me is that everything operates in the same basic way, with chaos you would have instantaneous rules spontaneously generating every second. Still, those rules could not exist without a creator, yes? So both randomness and design are evidence of a creator. That's not gonna fly.

Daniel Smith said...

My argument is not an assertion. The parts of my statement that you skipped over hint at what my argument would be (if we are going to derail this conversation that is).

Here's the relevant portion: "If such a universe could exist (I would argue that it couldn't, since existence itself is impossible without something eternal and uncaused to start it all)"

The point being you can't get something from nothing. Note, I did not say anything about design. I am talking about existence and causation.

You neglect that part of my conceptual imaginings (and that is all it is), act as if I seriously think such a world could really exist (I clearly said I do not), then use the fact that such a world would be nonsensical (indeed it would) as some sort of refutation? On top of that, you completely ignore the 4 points I raised in the previous post.

Anonymous said...

Once again, you are right, but you missed the point. You argue that the order in the universe means there must be a god, yes? My argument shows that disorder, using the same logic, would also mean there must be a god. So if both order and disorder would be evidence of god, order is not any special kind of evidence. As you have done over and over in this debate, you argue about a debate tactic that would be wrong were it trying to point to what you think it is if taken out of context and thus sidestep the argument. That also ain't gonna fly.

I did not answer your other points for lack of time. If you can't answer this one sufficiently, no need address the others. Unless you now agree to drop the premise that the order in nature means there must be a god.

Daniel Smith said...

"If you are following a line of thought that no "properties" could exist, only randomness and chaos, it seems that even randomness and chaos could not exist."

That is correct. Because we are talking about the fifth way, I made the mistake of imagining a world that exists but without an ordering intelligence. I should have made it clearer that such a world could not exist. If God (full stop) does not exist, then nothing exists. So a "world" without God would be absolute nothingness. The rest of your argument is based on the fallacy (I allowed) that something could exist without a Creator to bring it into existence.

"You would need a creator for each separate random event, every chaotic "happening" could only happen occur with a driving intelligence. Randomness does not require An infinite number of unmoved movers bumping into each other and getting in each other's way. In other words, if the universe was completely chaotic and random, that could only happen with a creator, even more so than with the order we see (following your logic that is, for each separate act could not exist otherwise)."

This presupposes that the creator would make a random world. This does not follow from an ordering intelligence, therefore this is not a valid argument against an ordering intelligence.

"This is called reductio ad absurdum and is a perfectly fine debate tactic by the way, Feser approves of it. If your logic applies to one case, it should apply to a similar case. If it does not, the logic is likely flawed."

My logic is consistent, I just didn't make it clear enough (although I did say that such a world could not exist).

"What order means to me is that everything operates in the same basic way, with chaos you would have instantaneous rules spontaneously generating every second. Still, those rules could not exist without a creator, yes? So both randomness and design are evidence of a creator. That's not gonna fly."

It would be evidence of a creator that had not established any kind of order. All you have done is verify that existence requires God. You have not shown that disorder requires an ordering intelligence so your reductio ad absurdum fails against the fifth way.

Daniel Smith said...

While we are picking low hanging fruit, there are a few points that I let go that I will now dispute.

intent is not the opposite of chance

Chance is, by definition, an absence of intent. If something happens 'by chance', that means it happens 'accidentally', 'not on purpose', 'unintentionally'. Even though everything leading up to the chance event may have been intentional (e.g. our bumping into each other on the street), the actual event must have been unintentional for us to attribute it to chance. Thus intent IS the opposite of chance.

Yes, there is no logical explanation for elements to "work together" because they don't "work together". They do what they do.

The term "work" is a physics term (there is even a unit of measurement - the joule). The term "together" means "in union with" or "in conjunction with". Thus to say that elements in a system "work together" is entirely proper and accurate. Not only that, if their working together routinely produces the same outcome, then we can accurately say that they "work together to produce" said outcome. An ATP pump only pumps ATP, it excludes all other compounds. Therefore to say that the components of an ATP pump "work together to pump ATP" is completely and totally accurate and acceptable.

If you will not admit that these are correct usages of the terms, then I contend that you are not arguing in good faith. Further, it is my contention that you only dispute these wordings because you realize that agreeing to them may challenge your worldview (not a valid reason).

Daniel Smith said...

I need to make a correction to my last post. I said that ATP pumps "pump ATP". That is not correct. ATP pumps use ATP as an energy source to pump specific compounds into or out of the cell. Some pump sodium, others protons, ions, sugars, etc. It doesn't change the argument. The components of an ATP pump still work together to pump a specific compound into or out of the cell.

Daniel Smith said...

Sicko is gone again but I am still researching this subject and in my research I discovered, via the excellent book "God, His Existence and His Nature" by R. Garrigou-Lagrande, that there is a third alternative to chance and intentionality - necessity. Thus there are three choices to explain an action: chance, necessity and intentionality. Chance is the accidental occurrence of one among many possibilities. Necessity is the occurrence of the only possible outcome. And intentionality is the directed occurrence of one among many possible outcomes.

The other distinction I became aware of was the one Aquinas made when he said "every agent acts for an end". By using the term "agent", he was specifically NOT saying "everything acts for an end".