Sunday, August 28, 2016

Principle Material Causality: Disproving ex apologist anti-God argument

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Someone calling himself "The exapologiost" argues against the truth of religious belief based upon the assumptions of classical materialism, ie there are  no solid objects that are not createdby material causes. This would rule out any traditional misunderstanding of God. In fact he couches his argumeht in terms of an assault on "cl;classical theism,"[1]
The Argument
The argument I’ll defend can be expressed as follows:
1. All concrete objects that have an originating or sustaining cause have a material cause of their existence.
2. If classical theismcvc is true, then the universe is a concrete object that has an originating or sustaining cause without a material cause of its existence.
3. Therefore, classical theismcvc is false.

Defines classical theism as (1) God is wholly distinct from the world, (2) God is the ordering and sustaining cause of the world (3) created the world out of nothing (4) "classical view of creation" he doesn't say what that means. He asserts what he calls theprincipal of material cause (PMC) which states that "concrete objects have a material cause whenever they have an originating or sustaining cause." Of course God is not a material Cause so thiat let's God out. By material cause he means a cause made of the "same stuff from which" the effect is made.

 When we examine the exapologist's appeal it seems his real concern is incredulity regarding exnihilo creation, It's because he can't accept physical material coming from nothing. He does appeal to an empiricists assumption that since our uniform experience of materialist causes is contradicted then we are warranted in assuming that all causes must be materiel. In addition  to this observatory his only real argument seems to be that apart from matter there's no potential or existence because to exist a thing must be made out of something.

My first argument would be that he had no real reason for thinking p1 is the case. It's basically begging the question. We have to be careful here because the skeptic could liken it unto the reverse situation where William Lane Craig argues that we see no contradictions to principle of causality and things dom't seem to ever pop into existence out of nothing,[2] In fact the skeptic who argues the PMC must agree with the observation. But in limiting reality to just material causes she assumes we know all causes. Craig's argument is just about causes period. We can also assume that there is a point at which we must stop the chain and account for all causes or assert ICR which is illogical [3] The two assumptions are not on a par because Craig's is more general and allows for more possibilities.They are alike in that they both assert the weight of empirical observe to unergird an assumption about reality. But Craig's principle is less assumptive. 

Secondly,  there are aspects of reality that could well be non material causes such as libertarian free will.That would mean we live in an open system. The true cause mystical experience, gravity working at action at av distance, antimatter, since it is matter's mirror opposite wouldn't it have to be immaterial? Moreover,this kind of assumption made bye ex apologia, that we can assert from empirical observatory t o all causes might be the fallacy of composition.Just became each individual physical object has a material cause doesn't mean that the whole does.

Thirdly, it's far from certain thiat we know that there are any material causes, The whole issue is clouded by the limitation of human knowledge, The most fundamental limitation in this regard is our inability to really say what material really means, The exapologist defines it as "cause made of the same stuff from which" the effect is made. But the truth of it is we don't know what mater is made of. We assume there's a distinction between matter and spirit because one is solid and concrete and can be seen and the other can't be seen. That doesn't prove by any means that what we regard as solid and material really is solid or material. After we know it's all made out of atoms and atoms are composed of sub atomic particles. We assume because we have labels for these things we know what they are, That doesn't really tell us what they are made of.
We keep talking about "particles", but this word doesn't adequately sum up the type of matter that particle physicists deal with. In physics, particles aren't usually tiny bits of stuff. When you start talking about fundamental particles like quarks that have a volume of zero, or virtual particles that have no volume and pop in and out of existence just like that, it is stretching the everyday meaning of the word "particle" a bit far. Thinking about particles as points sooner or later leads the equations up a blind alley. Understanding what is happening at the smallest scale of matter needs a new vocabulary, new maths, and very possibly new dimensions.[4]
Do we really know enough about matter and en ergy to say we can rule out all but"material" causes when we don't even know what they are? "But physicists now know that atoms are not solid little balls. It’s better to think of them as tiny electrical, “planetary” systems. They’re typically made up of three main parts: protons, neutrons and electrons. Think of the protons and neutrons as together forming a “sun”, or nucleus, at the centre of the system. The electrons orbit this nucleus, like planets." [5] 

The argument deal with material causes but all matter is energy. Energy is not matter so it's clearly not ture that everything has a material cause. This a technicality since they could just as easily argue "physical cause" and make the same point. Still we don't really know how physical physical things are since we don't really know what they are made of.

He argues against several straw man arguments once is good:

Finally, the theist might resist premise 1 by appeal to agent causal views of the self. Thus, they might argue that there are good reasons to think that (i) humans possess libertarian free will, that (ii) this is best explained on the assumption that the physical realm isn’t causally closed, ... This reply won’t work, however. For even if (i)-(iii) could be adequately supported – contrary to the opinion of the majority of analytic philosophers[8] – the falsity of the causal closure of the physical wouldn’t require positing the creation of concrete objects ex nihilo. Rather, at most, it would require the transferof pre-existing energy from the agent (who acts from “outside” of the natural causal order) to the physical realm.[9] 

Sorry philosophers have as much chance of voting God out of existence as Republicans have of voting in a rational nominee. That's just appeal to authority it is not appeal to expert testimony because philosophers are not experts on free will they are merely questioners.


[1] Ex apologist Philosophy of religion, "Theism and Material Causality,", blog, Dec 4, 2014, blog URL: (accesssed 8/12/16)
[2] William Lnae Craig, "The Existence of God anmd begiominmg of the universe" Reasonable Faith on line resource URL:  (access8/13/16)
[3] ICR illiogical
[4] STFC “are there other dimensions,” Large Hadron Collider. Website. Science and Facilities Council, 2012 URL:
this is from the large Hadron colllider--I think they might something about the subject.
[5] Chris Baraniuk, "How do We Know that Things Are Really Made out of Atoms?"Earth, BBC, Nov 2015 on line URL:
(access 8/12/16)

1 comment:

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