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Thread: Causal Determinism?

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    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Causal Determinism?

    Several arguments against the Philosophical Naturalist Causal view are often paired by Theist apologists such as the 'Brain in a Vat,' Objective Morality, and strict version of Causal Determinism. The view of strict Causal Determinism is that every cause and effect event is predetermined by antecedent causes and events and natural law. The following is a reasonable definition and description of this view. The section of Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is an interesting discussion of the problem.

    Source: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/


    Causal determinism is, roughly speaking, the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature. The idea is ancient, but first became subject to clarification and mathematical analysis in the eighteenth century. Determinism is deeply connected with our understanding of the physical sciences and their explanatory ambitions, on the one hand, and with our views about human free action on the other. In both of these general areas there is no agreement over whether determinism is true (or even whether it can be known true or false), and what the import for human agency would be in either case.

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    The argument usually follows the line of thought that if Philosophical Naturalism is true then all possible events in the world would be mechanistically determined. Humans would be robotic in nature. The problem with this line of reasoning is the fact that the reality of the natural world, and human nature is not mechanistic and strict causal deterministic, nor are humans entirely robotic in nature.

    Objectively natural determinism is clearly been demonstrated in Methodological Naturalism, but this reality is not rigidly deterministic. If nothing else the fractal nature (Chaos Theory) of our our existence creates an immense diversity from how our universe exists down to the nature of human will and behavior within the limits and constraints of natural law. The question of human will has not been resolved as whether Free Will exists and to what degree, but the reality is the nature of most decisions in human nature fall within the parameters of a deterministic nature. Nonetheless I believe this fails to adequately describe the nature of potential Free Will decisions in human nature.

    The biggest elephant in the room for these arguments by some Theist apologists is that contrasting worlds cannot be compared, one where the Theist God exists versus one where God does not exist. The nature of our physical existence and the nature of what is human is what it is, and any argument either way must accept that and begin with this, and not propose hypothetical 'other' worlds that cannot be demonstrated to exist.
    Last edited by shunyadragon; 12-22-2016 at 06:36 AM.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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    tWebber guacamole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shunyadragon View Post

    Objectively natural determinism is clearly been demonstrated in Methodological Naturalism, but this reality is not rigidly deterministic. If nothing else the fractal nature (Chaos Theory) of our our existence creates an immense diversity from how our universe exists down to the nature of human will and behavior within the limits and constraints of natural law. The question of human will has not been resolved as whether Free Will exists and to what degree, but the reality is the nature of most decisions in human nature fall within the parameters of a deterministic nature. Nonetheless I believe this fails to adequately describe the nature of potential Free Will decisions in human nature.
    In what context do you feel that natural determinism has been demonstrated in Methodological Naturalism. I know that some neuroscientists think it has, but my understanding is that their interpretation of results is up for debate. Is there another, more shut and dried case?

    The biggest elephant in the room for these arguments by some Theist apologists is that contrasting worlds cannot be compared, one where the Theist God exists versus one where God does not exist. The nature of our physical existence and the nature of what is human is what it is, and any argument either way must accept that and begin with this, and not propose hypothetical 'other' worlds that cannot be demonstrated to exist.
    I disagree with most arguments about what the world would or would not be like underneath such and such a circumstance. However, isn't it the whole point of thought experiments? To try to construct a simulation for ideas?

    fwiw,
    guacamole
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    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guacamole View Post
    In what context do you feel that natural determinism has been demonstrated in Methodological Naturalism. I know that some neuroscientists think it has, but my understanding is that their interpretation of results is up for debate. Is there another, more shut and dried case?
    Do not confuse what science has 'demonstrated and falsified' with anything being an 'open and shut case.' Yes there is considerable unknown concerning the science of the relationship between the brain, and the mind, human will and consciousness, and it is unlikely that any scientist claims that everything has been resolved between this relationship. What we only have, is the falsifiable objective evidence of this relationship. I was very clear in the previous post that all questions are indeed not answered. When we think, act, sleep or whatever neurological activity is observed in the brain. We have not found anything that contradicts a natural explanation.

    Caution: Arguing that many things concerning the mind/body relationship are unknown, or even unknowable, is 'arguing from ignorance.'

    I disagree with most arguments about what the world would or would not be like underneath such and such a circumstance. However, isn't it the whole point of thought experiments? To try to construct a simulation for ideas?
    Is the purpose of these thought experiments to form convincing arguments for those that do not agree or believe as you do? Hypothetical 'such and such circumstances' will not convince anyone unless you can demonstrate that it represents a real alternative reality.



    fwiw,
    guacamole[/QUOTE]
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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    tWebber guacamole's Avatar
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    Even if we grant that the brain is the mind, for all intents and purposes, how would that show determinism?

    I suppose that it is correct that a simulation is useful only to the extent that anyone agrees with its accuracy.

    Fwiw,
    Guacamole
    "Down in the lowlands, where the water is deep,
    Hear my cry, hear my shout,
    Save me, save me"

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    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guacamole View Post
    Even if we grant that the brain is the mind, for all intents and purposes, how would that show determinism?

    Fwiw,
    Guacamole
    That (the relationship between the brain and mind) in and of itself does not 'show?' determinism. Determinism, and how it is defined, is a much broader subject concerning the nature of determinism of our physical existence.

    This will be discussed in more references; there is not just one form or view of the nature of determinism.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    This thread was actually inspired by grmorton's post here: Post #14; http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/sh...universe/page2

    Quote Originally Posted by grmorton
    One thing I would add to the thread. Because knowledge of the qualia comes first to us, and knowledge of the universe, determined or not, and because we can't derive how it is that we feel warm or cold etc and can not derive equations which apply universally to qualia-sensations, it seems to me that this speaks highly of the existence of what was classically known as the Spirit. How would we have an equation to describe how I feel as I write this? Or you as you read this? What are the variables? What outcome equates to what input?

    One other thought came to me as I went into bed last night, concerns free will. If the universe is determined, as so many secularists proclaim (like it is a religion and it is), then logically this:

    Universe is deterministic.

    Everything that happens is predetermined by preceding events.

    Therefore, the outcome of every scientific experiment was predetermined by preceding events.

    If you look at the above, there is nothing in the above that proclaims that the outcome of scientific experiments is predetermined to reveal the truth to us about nature. One needs a guarantee that everything is determined to tell us the truth but we know that is patently false. Humans, we know are fantastically subject to illusions and delusions. All our knowledge comes to us via the qualia--what we sense. And we think it is not perfect. to paraphrase St. Paul said, we think through a glass darkly. When I sit at home, alone, I sometimes see someone moving just out of the corner of my eye. I turn my head not to find a ghost but to find nobody. I think everyone has had that experience, so our senses are not perfect and we can not guarantee that they reveal to us what actually happened. Yeah our psychologists and medical people have explanations for these things, but as with our knowledge of matter, all such explanations rest on their qualia first, in order to be explained. A granite head doesn't come up with explanations for illusions.

    Now if we wish for scientific experiments to tell us the truth, we must add that assumption

    Universe is deterministic and truthful.

    Everything that happens is predetermined by preceding events.

    Therefore, the outcome of every scientific experiment was predetermined by preceding events.

    Scientific experiments tell us the truth about nature.

    The problem is that demanding that we live in a universe that answers our queries truthfully is an assumption--an act of faith (something the faithless secularists eschew). Why and how can we know or require that Nature tell us the truth?

    The upshot of all this is that if the world is deterministic, then the world is unknowable. We can not guarantee that all the experiments we run actually reveal the TRUTH about nature. In a deterministic world, I can think of no postulate that requires scientific experiments to reveal the truth. They might all reveal untruth, or while each experiment is perceived by our qualia to be consistent with that same experiment when run over and over, it is a certitude that consistency doesn't mean TRUTH.

    Without knowing the universe is telling us the Truth, it seems to me that if the world is deterministic, knowledge is impossible. The secularists forget today that the early scientists were Christian and that they trusted that their God would not lie to them nor set them in a universe where the outcome of experiment can't be rigged. In my opinion, this theological trust in God is what allowed the Europeans to exceed all other cultures in science. When the Chinese academics at court heard about Newton's theory of Gravitation, they laughed at it. This was not because they were not smart; it was because they knew the issues I raise. Culturally, Huang Di, their highest deity was not the same as the Christian God. In China one had to be loyal to his teacher and never question. Confucius (Gong Fu zi) taught that the heavens would not muddy themselves in the material so no one could trust that experiments on nature gave the correct answer. So when news of Newton reached the ears of the academics, they laughed. (Tony Rothman and George Sudarshan, Doubt and Certainty, (Reading, Mass.: Perseus Books, 1998), p.xv)
    In science, the universe (our physical existence) does not tell us the Truth, nor the TRUTH. Science uses the tool box of scientific methods and math to understand the nature of our physical existence through the falsification of theories, and hypothesis, and consists of a constantly evolving body of knowledge that is always subject to change as new information becomes available. Determinism in science rests on and is defined on the principle of predictability as described by Karl Popper in The Open Universe (1982), and not on the quest for TRUTH. If one claims TRUTH, the quest ends and stagnation of knowledge and mind begins.
    Last edited by shunyadragon; 12-23-2016 at 07:45 AM.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by shunyadragon View Post
    Several arguments against the Philosophical Naturalist Causal view are often paired by Theist apologists such as the 'Brain in a Vat,' Objective Morality, and strict version of Causal Determinism. The view of strict Causal Determinism is that every cause and effect event is predetermined by antecedent causes and events and natural law. The following is a reasonable definition and description of this view. The section of Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is an interesting discussion of the problem.

    Source: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/


    Causal determinism is, roughly speaking, the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature. The idea is ancient, but first became subject to clarification and mathematical analysis in the eighteenth century. Determinism is deeply connected with our understanding of the physical sciences and their explanatory ambitions, on the one hand, and with our views about human free action on the other. In both of these general areas there is no agreement over whether determinism is true (or even whether it can be known true or false), and what the import for human agency would be in either case.

    © Copyright Original Source



    The argument usually follows the line of thought that if Philosophical Naturalism is true then all possible events in the world would be mechanistically determined. Humans would be robotic in nature. The problem with this line of reasoning is the fact that the reality of the natural world, and human nature is not mechanistic and strict causal deterministic, nor are humans entirely robotic in nature.

    Objectively natural determinism is clearly been demonstrated in Methodological Naturalism, but this reality is not rigidly deterministic. If nothing else the fractal nature (Chaos Theory) of our our existence creates an immense diversity from how our universe exists down to the nature of human will and behavior within the limits and constraints of natural law. The question of human will has not been resolved as whether Free Will exists and to what degree, but the reality is the nature of most decisions in human nature fall within the parameters of a deterministic nature. Nonetheless I believe this fails to adequately describe the nature of potential Free Will decisions in human nature.

    The biggest elephant in the room for these arguments by some Theist apologists is that contrasting worlds cannot be compared, one where the Theist God exists versus one where God does not exist. The nature of our physical existence and the nature of what is human is what it is, and any argument either way must accept that and begin with this, and not propose hypothetical 'other' worlds that cannot be demonstrated to exist.
    A problem I notice with the theistic argument of a first cause is that unless and until they can explain how their stand alone mind, i.e. god, thinks and acts freely, i.e. has thoughts and acts upon those thoughts, without the existence of antecedent causes for its thoughts and resulting actions, then they have no legitimate argument for the existence of a first cause, or God.

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    tWebber guacamole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    A problem I notice with the theistic argument of a first cause is that unless and until they can explain how their stand alone mind, i.e. god, thinks and acts freely, i.e. has thoughts and acts upon those thoughts, without the existence of antecedent causes for its thoughts and resulting actions, then they have no legitimate argument for the existence of a first cause, or God.
    Supernaturalism covers a variety of sins--in this case the "as on earth, so above" mistake that simply because human minds require a first cause to decide (which I still don't understand how that definitively means determinism), that doesn't mean that a supernatural mind--one that is entirely other-requires it to be so.
    "Down in the lowlands, where the water is deep,
    Hear my cry, hear my shout,
    Save me, save me"

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    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    A problem I notice with the theistic argument of a first cause is that unless and until they can explain how their stand alone mind, i.e. god, thinks and acts freely, i.e. has thoughts and acts upon those thoughts, without the existence of antecedent causes for its thoughts and resulting actions, then they have no legitimate argument for the existence of a first cause, or God.
    This is part of the argument by Atheists and strong Agnostics, particularly when theists argue from the perspective of an anthropomorphic Biblical God, but not subject of the thread.

    The subject is the issue of determinism and how it is defined and described differently by philosophers, scientists, apologetic Christians, Theologians, and of course others like yourself. The first issue is how some apologist arguments, like grmorton's, emphasis the rigid causal determinism as what scientists and secular humanists have to deal with. I do not agree with this, and there are different ways determinism is considered among scientists, philosophers and secular humanists that do not rely on this extreme view.

    Review grmorton's posts in the other thread referenced here, and you will find this view classically described. Also, please challenge his view and posts as referenced. Also his view on TRUTH and science is highly suspect.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

  10. #10
    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guacamole View Post
    Supernaturalism covers a variety of sins--in this case the "as on earth, so above" mistake that simply because human minds require a first cause to decide (which I still don't understand how that definitively means determinism), that doesn't mean that a supernatural mind--one that is entirely other-requires it to be so.
    An interesting point to consider is Theists may believe in 'Determinism' in that they believe God is the Creator and agent of Determinism.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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