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Refutation of argument from - SaintGeorge - 02-23-2009

Excerpted from the famous Fr. Coplestone vs. Bertrand Russell debate, wherein Russell proves to be a complete idiot whom I am ashamed to claim among my own as a mathematiciam:

Coplestone Wrote:Well, for clarity's sake, I'll divide the argument into distinct stages. First of all, I should say, we know that there are at least some beings in the world which do not contain in themselves the reason for their existence. For example, I depend on my parents, and now on the air, and on food, and so on. Now, secondly, the world is simply the real or imagined totality or aggregate of individual objects, none of which contain in themselves alone the reason for their existence. There isn't any world distinct from the objects which form it, any more than the human race is something apart from the members. Therefore, I should say, since objects or events exist, and since no object of experience contains within itself reason of its existence, this reason, the totality of objects, must have a reason external to itself. That reason must be an existent being. Well, this being is either itself the reason for its own existence, or it is not. If it is, well and good. If it is not, then we must proceed farther. But if we proceed to infinity in that sense, then there's no explanation of existence at all. So, I should say, in order to explain existence, we must come to a being which contains within itself the reason for its own existence, that is to say, which cannot not exist.

Spoiler alert: Mr. Russell fails miserably to assault this argument. However, I think I myself might have a rebuttal. For those of you who are diehard Thomists (as am I), what Fr. Coplestone is presenting is the Third Way, and particularly Leibniz's version of it. Here is my counter-argument.

We wish to disprove that the existence of contingent beings in a universe implies the existence of a necessary being. Suppose A and B are contingent beings such that A depends on B for its existence and B depends on A. Define a universe U such that U = {A, B}, or in plain language, A and B are the contingent beings forming the universe U. Assume A and B have always existed. Then, there is no need to postulate a necessary being to explain their existence, since A gets its existence from B and vice versa. Thus, there exists a universe U where the existence of contingent beings does not imply the existence of a necessary being.

Q.E.D.

Critiques?


Refutation of argument from - 7HolyCats - 02-24-2009

I think in some ways all you have described is Trinitarianism, in some sense. Obviously, God is an interdependent communion of three persons. But the ultimate point about non-contingency remains, because the communion as a whole has no reason outside itself.



Refutation of argument from - SaintGeorge - 02-24-2009

The disproof can be extended if it is proposed that all things in our universe depend on one another for existence.  In this case, the universe is self-existent and needs no God.  If all the contingent beings depend on each other and are always present in some form, they need no explanation beyond themselves.

Use induction to expand my previos disproof.