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  1. #1
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    William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Apok was kind enough to quote a debate between Dr Craig and a person with the nick Cyrus.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    FYI, for those interested in why Craig believes that the cause is personal, he explains in a response to someone who objected on the very same grounds as has been made here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-th...f-the-universe

    This is not a rebuttal to anything said in this thread. But since the link was made above to a variety of articles, I thought I'd narrow it down just a little. The link I give, is one of many that tackle the personhood of the cause. I linked only this one because it seemed the most applicable (although, I've not followed the thread closely so I could be wrong).
    Thanks, Apok, for sharing the link. It’s always nice to see Craig in action. What I’m about to argue is that Craig has done a sterling job of not supporting his claim in the link you have provided. I will stick to only one of the issues raised in the exchange between Craig and Cyrus (time and space issues only; I could raise nearly all of them).

    Ok, Look at Craig's answer to Cyrus's question regarding the unembodied mind. I raise that one because that in fact is my very objection (what Cyrus said, not what Craig responded) to Craig's initial argument.

    Cyrus makes a number of arguments regarding the unembodied mind.

    For example, he claims that there's evidencee that an unembodied mind is impossible. He cites our empirical knowledge as evidence. That's clearly wrong because you can't exclude something empirically when discussing matters that can't be subject to empirical observation (precisely the same reason thy Craig fails by trying to use lack of empirical evidence to exclude things that are not minds; but let's let this slide - side note).

    Craig's reply is that the burden is on Cyrus. And he’s right. But, interestingly, instead of citing Cyrus directly ("there's evidence that it's impossible"), Craig asserts that Cyrus' claim was that the unembodied mind is incoherent. "The qualifier 'evidence' is gone and 'impossible' has become 'incoherent'. Craig has rewritten Cyrus's claim into a much stronger claim. Strawman. Why such an interesting change of terminology? I think I know why but I'll leave it for you guys to work out for yourselves. While interesting, it's not important because Craig is correct; insofar as Cyrus' claim goes that there's evidence that an unembodied mind is impossible, the burden falls on Cyrus. And I venture he'll find it very, very difficult to ever discharge this burden.

    But what concerns me more is Cyrus's charge of a false dilemma. Craig proposes that the only two things that could be timeless and non-material and therefore could create the Universe are abstract things like numbers or a mind. He then eliminates abstract numbers (I won’t address whether that’s correct or not, not in this thread) and says that what’s left is a mind. The false dilemma charge asserts that the two choices (abstract numbers and minds) omit a third option: a indeterministic, impersonal cause” (or something we haven’t even thought of yet). In essence, the question is: “Why does the alternative to abstract numbers have to be a mind at all?” Let's consider Craig's reply.

    I quote part by part:


    Quote Originally Posted by Craig
    Finally, your appeal to “an indeterministic, impersonal cause or something else entirely that no one else has thought of yet” simply has no merit as an alternative explanation because we don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.
    It doesn’t matter what we’re talking about. We’re talking about an entity with particular characteristics. Craig conjures an entity with some set of characteristics. He Then gives this entity a name; God. We can also give Cyrus’ concept a name. We can call it what we want, maybe “Frankie” or, more simply, “First Cause”.

    The issue that Cyrus raises is with a characteristic (personhood) of the entity whose existence Craig is trying to prove. Unless that characteristic is necessary for the entity to be able to create the Universe, a premise requiring the existence of this characteristic in the entity is unsupported. And that’s exactly what is happening here.

    Craig’s criticism of the entity proposed by Cyrus is also hypocritical. He accuses Cyrus of proposing an entity of whom we have no idea. Well, we have no idea of any unembodied minds either. Minds have certain mechanisms that we know of. They are temporal, they attached to material bodies, etc. Suggesting a timeless and unembodied entity that is a mind is complete fantasy. It’s not a suggestion of a mind at all. The only characteristic that this entity has in common with a mind (as we know them) is that it’s able to think and make decisions and is self-aware. And here’s the crux of the problem:

    The only quality that Craig’s entity has in common with minds as we know them happens to be the only quality that Craig has failed to support as a quality required to be possessed by an entity that creates the Universe.

    Whatever caused the Universe must have been non-temporal and non-material (let’s suppose). It need not be self-aware or able to think (no support of any claim that it should be). Therefore, it must be something that minds (as we know them) are not. And it need not be something that minds (as we know them) are.
    How can one claim then that it must be a mind?

    I move on….

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig
    If the cause of the origin of the universe is not a personal, indeterministic cause, then it has to be an impersonal, indeterministic cause, that is also uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful. But what is that? What you’ve offered is not an alternative explanation but just empty words.
    Same problem again. What is that? Well what is an unembodied timeless mind, for Pete’s sakes? You give it a name, Dr Craig and you call it “god”. Cyrus didn’t give his proposed entity a name and you criticise him for that. Well, from now on it shall be called “The First Cause”. That might (hopefully) fix that particular problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig
    Note that if this sort of reasoning were allowed to undercut a proffered explanation, science would be paralyzed, for when confronted with any explanation one could always appeal to some unknown “something” as the real cause. I’m sure you would agree that would be crazy.
    Here Craig is shooting himself in the foot. It’s him, after all, who’s appealing to an unembodied and non-temporal mind. Now, if that’s not appealing to an unknown something then I can’t think what would be.

    So I think this argument is a very powerful reason to think that the uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful cause of the universe is also a free agent.
    Now, suddenly freedom of agency comes into play. Not a word of explanation, not a hint of an argument. Just a conclusion (yes, this is a conclusion, starts with “So I think”). But one that lacks a premise. I have no issue with Craig thinking that the cause must be a free agent. I have issue with his reasons why (none given).

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig
    More recently, my work on abstract objects convinced me that there is a much quicker and more direct argument in support of the personhood of the first cause of the universe. I came to realize that the description “uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful” is, except for the last property, a description that also characterizes abstract objects like numbers.
    Yes, that’s true, it does “also” describe abstract objects. But it doesn’t describe minds. Craig is suggesting a special mind, one never heard of. Well, why does this special thing have to be a mind? He has provided no argument at all as to why this special thing should possess the only feature that in fact does characterise a mind; self-awareness (or, if reasoning and thinking comes into this as well, we can include those; I don’t mind, whichever way).

    Moreover, I’m not aware of anything other than a mind or an abstract object that philosophers have considered to possess the properties of being uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, and spaceless.
    Suppose that the above is true. So what? We are eliminating a suggestion because philosophers haven’t considered it? That’s an argument? Cyrus has just considered it and Craig will not respond to Cyrus’s consideration with anything better than “philosophers haven’t considered it” (side note: I guess Craig doesn’t consider Cyrus a philosopher; and maybe he’s right, but maybe not)

    Since abstract objects are essentially causally effete, however, it follows that the cause of the universe must be a mind.
    The circle is closed, back to the same unsupported bare assertion. Craig has not rebutted Cyrus’s charge of false dilemma.

    And that’s the problem with so many (if not all) of these Cosmological Arguments. The jump between First Cause and Self-Aware First Cause nearly invariably lacks justification.

    Note that I am aware of an argument (or two ) in support of the personhood of the First Cause. But it’s not for me to present them. It should have been Craig, in response to Cyrus. Why didn’t he? I don’t know. All I know is that the way he did respond fails to support his claim that the First Cause had to be personal.

    Note also that the arguments for personhood that I’m aware of are flawed. But that’s not for this thread.

    Finally, note that there may be something in some part of Craig’s reply to Cyrus that does address some of my concerns. If there is, I have overlooked it. I did look hard but it is late at night. So, I’m fairly confident that I’m right. But if I’m wrong, I don’t want some gung-ho to accuse me of some deliberate mischief! Life is about the pursuit of excellence.

    BTW, I don't want to debate about expression. Thus, if I used the term "incredibly silly" (I haven't, it's an example), I'm not going to enter into a 30-post argument about whether the thing in question is indeed so silly that no reasonable person would believe it has been said. I want to debate in good faith here. These are important issues as they concern a well-known philosopher and a fairly widespread disappointment with some of his tactics amongst his critics.
    Last edited by Allocutus; April 11th, 2012 at 06:46 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    For example, he claims that there's evidencee that an unembodied mind is impossible. He cites our empirical knowledge as evidence. That's clearly wrong because you can't exclude something empirically when discussing matters that can't be subject to empirical observation (precisely the same reason thy Craig fails by trying to use lack of empirical evidence to exclude things that are not minds; but let's let this slide - side note).

    Craig's reply is that the burden is on Cyrus. And he’s right. But, interestingly, instead of citing Cyrus directly ("there's evidence that it's impossible"), Craig asserts that Cyrus' claim was that the unembodied mind is incoherent. "The qualifier 'evidence' is gone and 'impossible' has become 'incoherent'. Craig has rewritten Cyrus's claim into a much stronger claim. Strawman. Why such an interesting change of terminology? I think I know why but I'll leave it for you guys to work out for yourselves. While interesting, it's not important because Craig is correct; insofar as Cyrus' claim goes that an unembodied mind is impossible, the burden falls on Cyrus. And I venture he'll find it very, very difficult to ever discharge this burden.
    I don't think it's a change of terminology at all. I think Craig interpreted Cyrus's use of "impossible" in the modal sense, meaning "logically impossible". That is, it could not even possibly be the case. "Decoherent" is a fair characterization of something that is logically impossible, I'd say.

    But what concerns me more is Cyrus's charge of a false dilemma. Craig proposes that the only two things that could be timeless and non-material and therefore could create the Universe are abstract things like numbers or a mind. He then eliminates abstract numbers (I won’t address whether that’s correct or not, not in this thread) and says that what’s left is a mind. The false dilemma charge asserts that the two choices (abstract numbers and minds) omit a third option: a indeterministic, impersonal cause” (or something we haven’t even thought of yet). In essence, the question is: “Why does the alternative to abstract numbers have to be a mind at all?” Let's consider Craig's reply.

    I quote part by part:




    It doesn’t matter what we’re talking about. We’re talking about an entity with particular characteristics. Craig conjures an entity with some set of characteristics. He Then gives this entity a name; God. We can also give Cyrus’ concept a name. We can call it what we want, maybe “Frankie” or, more simply, “First Cause”.

    The issue that Cyrus raises is with a characteristic (personhood) of the entity whose existence Craig is trying to prove. Unless that characteristic is necessary for the entity to be able to create the Universe, a premise requiring the existence of this characteristic in the entity is unsupported. And that’s exactly what is happening here.

    Craig’s criticism of the entity proposed by Cyrus is also hypocritical. He accuses Cyrus of proposing an entity of whom we have no idea. Well, we have no idea of any unembodied minds either. Minds have certain mechanisms that we know of. They are temporal, they attached to material bodies, etc. Suggesting a timeless and unembodied entity that is a mind is complete fantasy. It’s not a suggestion of a mind at all. The only characteristic that this entity has in common with a mind (as we know them) is that it’s able to think and make decisions and is self-aware. And here’s the crux of the problem:

    The only quality that Craig’s entity has in common with minds as we know them happens to be the only quality that Craig has failed to support as a quality required to be possessed by an entity that creates the Universe.

    Whatever caused the Universe must have been non-temporal and non-material (let’s suppose). It need not be self-aware or able to think (no support of any claim that it should be). Therefore, it must be something that minds (as we know them) are not. And it need not be something that minds (as we know them) are.
    How can one claim then that it must be a mind?

    I move on….



    Same problem again. What is that? Well what is an unembodied timeless mind, for Pete’s sakes? You give it a name, Dr Craig and you call it “god”. Cyrus didn’t give his proposed entity a name and you criticise him for that. Well, from now on it shall be called “The First Cause”. That might (hopefully) fix that particular problem.



    Here Craig is shooting himself in the foot. It’s him, after all, who’s appealing to an unembodied and non-temporal mind. Now, if that’s not appealing to an unknown something then I can’t think what would be.
    I don't quite understand your argument.

    This is how I understand the situation:

    A certain kind of object O has to exist, call it an "explanation" or a "first cause". It must possess certain properties, say P = {p1, p2, ..., pk}. Craig says that O must be either an entity in class A (abstract object) or an entity in class B (mind). Cyrus says that it doesn't.

    Now, you're saying that Craig is describing an 'unknown something' by saying that O is an entity in class B. But we're familiar with minds; Craig is proposing an extension of our empirical notion of a mind (which is has only been 'observed', to the extent that you can observe minds, in entities with brains). It's not even a novel extension; literature (including academic literature in areas like philosophy) includes many examples of unembodied minds. It is not an unfamiliar concept.

    So Craig is at least saying, "O is like something that we're familiar with."


    But what Cyrus is saying seems a little different. He's not saying that O is like anything we're familiar with. He's just saying that maybe O exists as such; that is, maybe O is simply a real (if immaterial) object possessing all and only the properties in P. Even if Cyrus's claim is true, it is a different kind of claim than Craig's with regard to whether it describes a known/familiar object.

    ---------- Post added at 10:13 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:58 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    Now, suddenly freedom of agency comes into play. Not a word of explanation, not a hint of an argument. Just a conclusion (yes, this is a conclusion, starts with “So I think”). But one that lacks a premise. I have no issue with Craig thinking that the cause must be a free agent. I have issue with his reasons why (none given).
    This is a ******** criticism. Craig cites a source for an explication of the argument:

    First, the argument, inspired by the Islamic Principle of Determination, that only a free agent could explain the origin of a temporal effect with a beginning from a changeless, timeless cause. (See the exposition of the argument in either the Blackwell Companion, pp. 193-4 or in Reasonable Faith [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2008], pp. 153-4.)

    Yes, that’s true, it does “also” describe abstract objects. But it doesn’t describe minds. Craig is suggesting a special mind, one never heard of. Well, why does this special thing have to be a mind? He has provided no argument at all as to why this special thing should possess the only feature that in fact does characterise a mind; self-awareness (or, if reasoning and thinking comes into this as well, we can include those; I don’t mind, whichever way).
    This is also a ******** criticism. You're cutting off his argument halfway through and saying "Look, he hasn't given a good argument yet!" More on this in the next bit:

    Suppose that the above is true. So what? We are eliminating a suggestion because philosophers haven’t considered it? That’s an argument? Cyrus has just considered it and Craig will not respond to Cyrus’s consideration with anything better than “philosophers haven’t considered it” (side note: I guess Craig doesn’t consider Cyrus a philosopher; and maybe he’s right, but maybe not)
    This section, of course, gives the argument that you insisted Craig hadn't offered immediately enough.

    I don't think Craig's point was "If philosophers haven't considered it, then it isn't worth considering." I think he was just saying, "We philosophers haven't thought of anything else that this thing could be." Since Cyrus hasn't proposed any alternative, Craig is left with his disjunctive syllogism.


    The entire debate--Craig's original argument, Cyrus's counter, Craig's response, and your critique--seems almost completely opaque to me. I don't know what standards are being used, so it's impossible to evaluate whether people have discharged their burdens of proof.

    For instance, what would it mean for Cyrus to propose an alternative? Can he just say (using the notation I gave above), "O is an object with all and only the properties in P"? I doubt that Craig thinks Cyrus has failed to provide an alternative simply because he didn't attach a name. So what's the standard at play?

    Furthermore, why can't Cyrus merely describe the object implicitly? Just say something like, "O is an object with all and only the properties in P." Craig then counters, "We don't know what that is! It isn't like anything we know!" Cyrus responds, "Sure, you know it. It's the thing that created the universe, which we know about from the Kalaam cosmological argument."


    I'm also not clear on what you, Craig, or Cyrus means by "mind". How do you know if something is a mind? What are the necessary and sufficient conditions?
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    More on why Craig believes the cause is personal:

    For an external cause of the universe must be beyond space and time and therefore cannot be physical or material. Now there are only two kinds of things that fit that description: either abstract objects, like numbers, or else an intelligent mind. But abstract objects are causally impotent. The number 7, for example, can't cause anything. Therefore it follows that the explanation of the universe is an external, transcendent, personal mind which created the universe, which is what most people have traditionally meant by "God."

    Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/chris...#ixzz1rkI42vYY
    So to summarize:

    1) We can deduce that it is a mind.
    2) The originating source cannot be of the universe. (as per other arguments given).
    3) The originating source cannot be material (for other arguments given).
    4) Leaving us with a source that has a mind.
    5) God is an agent that is an unembodied mind (as per other arguments given).

    I think the problem is Allo, you are expecting all of the arguments to be rolled up into one response, which instead, each argument is built upon another.

    It's kind of like 2 people debating over whether or not it is moral to steal. One says "People shouldn't steal as it violates another person's right to property, therefore it is immoral." And the other person says "People steal all the time, therefore it is moral."

    Here, the foundation is not laid...it is not agreed upon. The very nature of morality is not discussed. The former is operating from a normative view, the latter the descriptive view. Neither has read or understood the other's argument for the foundation upon the "stealing argument."

    Likewise, it is through other argumentation that Craig lays the foundation here. And perhaps I should have provided you with a better link that dealt more specifically with personhood instead of a brief summary of several claimed characteristics of the first cause.

    In other arguments, Craig argues that the ultimate cause of everything (even the catalyst for the Big Bang), must transcend the universe itself, that it cannot be a part of it, nor eternal.

    We've concluded that the beginning of the universe was the effect of a first cause . . . . Now this is exceedingly odd. The cause is in some sense eternal and yet the effect which it produced is not eternal but began to exist a finite time ago. How can this be? If the necessary and sufficient conditions for the production of the effect are eternal, then why isn't the effect eternal? How can all the causal conditions sufficient for the production of the effect be changelessly existent and yet the effect not also be existent along with the cause? How can the cause exist without the effect?

    . . . There seems to be only one way out of this dilemma, and that is to say that the cause of the universe's beginning is a personal agent who freely chooses to create a universe in time. Philosophers call this type of causation "agent causation," and because the agent is free, he can initiate new effects by freely bringing about conditions which were not previously present. For example, a man sitting changelessly from eternity could freely will to stand up; thus, a temporal effect arises from an eternally existing agent. Similarly, a finite time ago a Creator endowed with free will could have freely brought the world into being at that moment. In this way, the Creator could exist changelessly and eternally but choose to create the world in time.

    Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/chris...#ixzz1rkKoBVaR
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  4. #4
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    More on why Craig believes the cause is personal:

    For an external cause of the universe must be beyond space and time and therefore cannot be physical or material. Now there are only two kinds of things that fit that description: either abstract objects, like numbers, or else an intelligent mind. But abstract objects are causally impotent. The number 7, for example, can't cause anything. Therefore it follows that the explanation of the universe is an external, transcendent, personal mind which created the universe, which is what most people have traditionally meant by "God."

    Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/chris...#ixzz1rkI42vYY
    So to summarize:

    1) We can deduce that it is a mind.
    2) The originating source cannot be of the universe. (as per other arguments given).
    3) The originating source cannot be material (for other arguments given).
    4) Leaving us with a source that has a mind.
    5) God is an agent that is an unembodied mind (as per other arguments given).

    I think the problem is Allo, you are expecting all of the arguments to be rolled up into one response, which instead, each argument is built upon another.

    It's kind of like 2 people debating over whether or not it is moral to steal. One says "People shouldn't steal as it violates another person's right to property, therefore it is immoral." And the other person says "People steal all the time, therefore it is moral."

    Here, the foundation is not laid...it is not agreed upon. The very nature of morality is not discussed. The former is operating from a normative view, the latter the descriptive view. Neither has read or understood the other's argument for the foundation upon the "stealing argument."

    Likewise, it is through other argumentation that Craig lays the foundation here. And perhaps I should have provided you with a better link that dealt more specifically with personhood instead of a brief summary of several claimed characteristics of the first cause.

    In other arguments, Craig argues that the ultimate cause of everything (even the catalyst for the Big Bang), must transcend the universe itself, that it cannot be a part of it, nor eternal.

    We've concluded that the beginning of the universe was the effect of a first cause . . . . Now this is exceedingly odd. The cause is in some sense eternal and yet the effect which it produced is not eternal but began to exist a finite time ago. How can this be? If the necessary and sufficient conditions for the production of the effect are eternal, then why isn't the effect eternal? How can all the causal conditions sufficient for the production of the effect be changelessly existent and yet the effect not also be existent along with the cause? How can the cause exist without the effect?

    . . . There seems to be only one way out of this dilemma, and that is to say that the cause of the universe's beginning is a personal agent who freely chooses to create a universe in time. Philosophers call this type of causation "agent causation," and because the agent is free, he can initiate new effects by freely bringing about conditions which were not previously present. For example, a man sitting changelessly from eternity could freely will to stand up; thus, a temporal effect arises from an eternally existing agent. Similarly, a finite time ago a Creator endowed with free will could have freely brought the world into being at that moment. In this way, the Creator could exist changelessly and eternally but choose to create the world in time.

    Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/chris...#ixzz1rkKoBVaR
    Now this is a really interesting argument. I like Pruss's response (I assume it's Alexander Pruss, a boss philosophy professor at Baylor who also has a PhD in mathematics) questioning the causal inefficacy of abstract objects. I'm not quite sure how to proceed with that argument though.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Well...I don't know how it could be defended. The #4 is an abstract object for example. How does it contain any properties to "do" anything at all? It's a construct of representation, not an actual entity. We can't say that 4 apples IS 4. We say that there are 4 apples. It's a language mechanic to convey an idea.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    I don't think it's a change of terminology at all. I think Craig interpreted Cyrus's use of "impossible" in the modal sense, meaning "logically impossible". That is, it could not even possibly be the case. "Decoherent" is a fair characterization of something that is logically impossible, I'd say.
    Let me make sure I understand you correctly. Correctly. Cyrus says that an unembodied mind is impossible because our empirical experience doesn't present us with such entities and Craig confuses this with logical impossibility?



    I don't quite understand your argument.

    This is how I understand the situation:

    A certain kind of object O has to exist, call it an "explanation" or a "first cause". It must possess certain properties, say P = {p1, p2, ..., pk}. Craig says that O must be either an entity in class A (abstract object) or an entity in class B (mind). Cyrus says that it doesn't.

    But since his use of the word "mind" is otherwise unsupported (in that he doesn't support that sentience is required), many terms could be substituted for "known entity". For example "Turtle". A non-material non-temporal turtle. Sure, we don't know of any such turtles (empirical claim) but we equally don't know of any such minds. Cyrus didn't give his object a name, therefore it remains an "object" or "entity". And we are familiar with objects or entities. Craig's complaint is about the lack of a word which can just as easily be inserted there without adding anything at all to the argument.

    Now, you're saying that Craig is describing an 'unknown something' by saying that O is an entity in class B. But we're familiar with minds; Craig is proposing an extension of our empirical notion of a mind (which is has only been 'observed', to the extent that you can observe minds, in entities with brains). It's not even a novel extension; literature (including academic literature in areas like philosophy) includes many examples of unembodied minds. It is not an unfamiliar concept.
    As above. Cyrus is proposing an extension of an object or an entity. Craig gives this entity another (redundant, in my submission) characteristic of being sentient. Cyrus doesn't.

    So Craig is at least saying, "O is like something that we're familiar with."
    I understand your criticism about sets A and B, Clive. It's a very strict logical approach and I don't think it does justice to my objection. But let me address that in another way. Cyrus does propose things we're familiar with:

    "It could be the case that the mind that created the universe is impersonal, much like a brain-dead individual, or lacking libertarian free will, much like a machine."


    But what Cyrus is saying seems a little different. He's not saying that O is like anything we're familiar with. He's just saying that maybe O exists as such; that is, maybe O is simply a real (if immaterial) object possessing all and only the properties in P. Even if Cyrus's claim is true, it is a different kind of claim than Craig's with regard to whether it describes a known/familiar object.
    I've addressed that above. But let's go a step further: What allows us to assume that the cause of the Universe (being outside all known laws of physics and possibly even the law of cause-and effect) is something that we're familiar with? I would say that such a thing (whatever it is) would necessarily be the thing we're the most unfamiliar with. After all, I can't imagine any further removal from familiarity than something that is completely independent of the Universe and all known to us laws.

    Doesn't this make the unfamiliarity argument somewhat irrelevant?

    Note: "I can't imagine" is a figure of speech. It's literary expression. If you're tempted to accuse me of appealing to personal incredulity, don't bother. We know very well, in good faith, what I was getting at




    This is a ******** criticism. Craig cites a source for an explication of the argument:

    First, the argument, inspired by the Islamic Principle of Determination, that only a free agent could explain the origin of a temporal effect with a beginning from a changeless, timeless cause. (See the exposition of the argument in either the Blackwell Companion, pp. 193-4 or in Reasonable Faith [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2008], pp. 153-4.)
    Accepted. And this is one of the arguments I've mentioned in the OP. If I find time, I'll start a thread on that too. I'm keen to discuss it as it's a funny one.



    This is also a ******** criticism. You're cutting off his argument halfway through and saying "Look, he hasn't given a good argument yet!"
    He does provide something later on? Are you referring to the Islamic reference? Or to something else?


    I don't think Craig's point was "If philosophers haven't considered it, then it isn't worth considering." I think he was just saying, "We philosophers haven't thought of anything else that this thing could be." Since Cyrus hasn't proposed any alternative, Craig is left with his disjunctive syllogism.
    He's suggesting that all philosophers who have considered the issue concluded that there must be a god. That's an interesting thought, isn't it?

    That said, it's just as irrelevant as what it was before what "they philosophers" have thought of. What matters is what Cyrus has thought of and put forward. Attack the argument, right?


    The entire debate--Craig's original argument, Cyrus's counter, Craig's response, and your critique--seems almost completely opaque to me. I don't know what standards are being used, so it's impossible to evaluate whether people have discharged their burdens of proof.
    There's some truth in the above, Clive.

    For instance, what would it mean for Cyrus to propose an alternative? Can he just say (using the notation I gave above), "O is an object with all and only the properties in P"? I doubt that Craig thinks Cyrus has failed to provide an alternative simply because he didn't attach a name. So what's the standard at play?
    Cyrus didn't need to provide an alternative. All he had to show is that Craig has failed to support his claim that the only alternative is a mind.


    Furthermore, why can't Cyrus merely describe the object implicitly? Just say something like, "O is an object with all and only the properties in P." Craig then counters, "We don't know what that is! It isn't like anything we know!" Cyrus responds, "Sure, you know it. It's the thing that created the universe, which we know about from the Kalaam cosmological argument."
    That's a very good point. I'm not suggesting that Cryus treated the issue in the best possible way. To the contrary, I've been critical of him as early as in my OP.

    I'm also not clear on what you, Craig, or Cyrus means by "mind". How do you know if something is a mind? What are the necessary and sufficient conditions?
    Well then it would have been helpful if the one who presents the argument in the first place defined the term. If Craig wants to present us with a dilemma between two propositions, then exclude one and leave out the other one, he's the one that ought to ensure that the Clives (no offence intended here at all! Means "readers who consider what they read with some serious scrutiny") aren't left to have such doubts. Unless the term is precise enough to be meaningful to the reader, the argument is but useless and any rebuttal has the potential of being called a Strawman.

    ---------- Post added at 02:13 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:03 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Well...I don't know how it could be defended. The #4 is an abstract object for example. How does it contain any properties to "do" anything at all? It's a construct of representation, not an actual entity. We can't say that 4 apples IS 4. We say that there are 4 apples. It's a language mechanic to convey an idea.
    I agree with that. #4 misses some characteristics that would allow it to create a universe. But wait, so does mind. The Universe might be created by a special #4, or a special mind, or a special elephant. It had to be something special though, that much we know. In fact, it had to be something so unique as to create the Universe (assuming that multi-verse is false, and I'm more than happy to assume that; I hate that theory). Something that's one of its kind.

    Which brings me back to a point I've made to Clive: What entitles us to assume at all that the thing must be (or even probably is) something we're familiar with? The entity in question must be so far removed from anything we've ever perceived (or even, arguably, could ever perceive) that it's equally (and MY GOD, am I being conservative using the term "equally" here) likely to be something we're utterly unfamiliar with.

    We are faced with two propositions:

    1) Whatever created the Universe is more likely than not something we're familiar with;

    and

    2) Whatever created the Universe is more likely than not something we're unfamiliar with.

    Unless (1) is supported in the first place (or show that it's more likely to be true than (2)), any argument that relies on familiarity is moot.

    I'm not trying to change the subject. I can certainly address the quotes you have provided (and I'd argue they do not at all support the "mind" theory) but this issue just occurred to me and I think unless it's resolved, there's no point even arguing about the other issues.


    Also, I've noted your objections above, Apok. I agree, of course. The problem here is, I can't create a thread that will address the entire body of argumentation about every single argument about the existence of a god. I try to address some specific (but, as you can see, very capable of being developed) points in specific threads.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    And to clarify a few more points...

    On specifically why the first cause cannot be impersonal:
    If the argument so far is correct, then we have proved that there exists an uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, enormously powerful, indeterministic cause of the universe. Now the question is, what is it? What entity fits this description? The answer, it seems to me, is clear: a person, an unembodied mind.

    Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/must-...#ixzz1rkUl7hfv
    There are other arguments that addressed certain properties of the first cause. And if these arguments are sound, then we are left with the with a personal cause.
    We can think of this conclusion as an inference to the best explanation. In inference to the best explanation, we ask ourselves, what hypothesis, if true, would provide the best explanation of the data? The hypothesis that there is a personal Creator of the universe explains wonderfully all the data. By contrast, as I said, there’s nothing like this in a naturalistic worldview. Even given quantum indeterminism (itself a moot point), such indeterminacy is a property of changing, spatiotemporal, physical systems. I don’t know of any competing explanation to, much less better explanation than, the hypothesis of a personal Creator. Notice that it is not legitimate to offer as an explanation a hypothesis which simply repeats the data to be explained—for example, explaining that opium induces sleep because it has “dormitive powers.” Saying that the cause of the universe is an uncaused, . . . , indeterministic, impersonal being is like that. It is not to offer an explanation at all. Therefore, it could never be the better explanation. Similarly, it is no good appealing to unknown entities. That just is to admit that one has no explanation, no alternative hypothesis to offer. It would be like saying that fossils are not best explained as the vestiges of organisms that once lived on Earth but were instead the effect of some mysterious, unknown fossil-forming power in the rocks. Again, that could never count as the best explanation.
    To defeat the argument, Craig rightfully points out that merely saying "It can't be an unembodied mind because we don't know of any such thing" is fallacious. He's argued for such a thing (in other arguments). But Craig providing such arguments, isn't really necessary since all he has to do is show that it is a possibility. In other words, it may seem counter-intuitive to some, but that doesn't mean that reason doesn't actually take you there. In order to show that an unembodied mind is incoherent the objector must actually show that it is.

    There are two ways to defeat such an inference to the best explanation: (i) provide an equally good explanation that does not involve the existence of a personal Creator; or (ii) provide overriding reasons to think that a personal Creator does not exist. We’ve yet to see any evidence that the notion of an unembodied mind is incoherent or even any evidence against mind-body dualism in human beings. On the contrary I think that we have good reason to think that anthropological dualism is true; but that’s another story, since it’s the atheist who bears the burden of proof here.
    Lastly, atheists sometimes argue that the cause is a singularity, but that is already responded to in his response to Cyrus:

    Finally, as for the suggestion that the singularity is the cause of the universe, this has the merit of at least positing some explanatory entity. But in question #182, I explained why the initial cosmological singularity cannot be the ultimate cause of the universe, since it is either unreal or else part of the universe and therefore itself in need of explanation of its coming into being.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    Let me make sure I understand you correctly. Correctly. Cyrus says that an unembodied mind is impossible because our empirical experience doesn't present us with such entities and Craig confuses this with logical impossibility?
    Here's the section you're talking about:

    First, even if I can't show that an unembodied mind is logically or metaphysically impossible, that does not mean it exists. One could say the same thing for timeless, spaceless, immaterial turtles who hold the earth up and cause earthquakes such a concept is not explicitly incoherent, but you wouldn't believe in such a thing because of that! But second, I think there is evidence that an unembodied mind is impossible. Every example of a mind we've ever seen is spatio-temporal and constrained to a body, so on inductive grounds alone, we are justified in rejecting the existence of an unembodied mind. Why posit something that literally goes against all of our prior experience? Also, we can understand minds only in temporal and spatial terms; loving, deciding, acting, and creating are all spatio-temporal phenomena, so a timeless, spaceless mind could not possibly have created the universe. To show otherwise, you would have to develop a model in which personal traits could be extended to timeless and spaceless minds, which would then place the onus of proof squarely upon your shoulders.

    This suggests that Cyrus thinks the arguments he's giving are for either the logical impossibility or metaphysical impossibility of unembodied minds. Is Cyrus's inductive argument about metaphysical impossibility?

    But perhaps I mischaracterized Craig's response. Perhaps by "decoherence" he meant to include both "logically decoherent" and "metaphysically decoherent". In either case, I don't think Craig has seriously mischaracterized Cyrus's argument.

    But since his use of the word "mind" is otherwise unsupported (in that he doesn't support that sentience is required), many terms could be substituted for "known entity". For example "Turtle". A non-material non-temporal turtle. Sure, we don't know of any such turtles (empirical claim) but we equally don't know of any such minds. Cyrus didn't give his object a name, therefore it remains an "object" or "entity". And we are familiar with objects or entities. Craig's complaint is about the lack of a word which can just as easily be inserted there without adding anything at all to the argument.
    I think that most people would agree that the definition of a turtle includes things like DNA. That is, if x is a turtle, then x necessarily has a turtle's DNA. Why should I think that something similar is true for minds, that if x is a mind, then x necessarily has a physical presence?

    I don't know what you mean by "his use of the word 'mind' is unsupported". Why does his use of it need support? He's just listing possibilities. Are you suggesting that it's impossible for O to be a mind?

    Even if it were impossible, though, Craig's use of it would still be licit. I can say "2 is either even or odd", even though we know that "2 is odd" is a contradiction.


    I don't think Craig was complaining that Cyrus didn't give his proposed object a name. I think Craig was complaining that the object Cyrus proposed wasn't meaningful. (I'm not saying Craig's complaint is accurate.) Giving it a name wouldn't make it more meaningful.

    As above. Cyrus is proposing an extension of an object or an entity. Craig gives this entity another (redundant, in my submission) characteristic of being sentient. Cyrus doesn't.

    I understand your criticism about sets A and B, Clive. It's a very strict logical approach and I don't think it does justice to my objection. But let me address that in another way. Cyrus does propose things we're familiar with:

    "It could be the case that the mind that created the universe is impersonal, much like a brain-dead individual, or lacking libertarian free will, much like a machine."


    I've addressed that above. But let's go a step further: What allows us to assume that the cause of the Universe (being outside all known laws of physics and possibly even the law of cause-and effect) is something that we're familiar with? I would say that such a thing (whatever it is) would necessarily be the thing we're the most unfamiliar with. After all, I can't imagine any further removal from familiarity than something that is completely independent of the Universe and all known to us laws.

    Doesn't this make the unfamiliarity argument somewhat irrelevant?

    Note: "I can't imagine" is a figure of speech. It's literary expression. If you're tempted to accuse me of appealing to personal incredulity, don't bother. We know very well, in good faith, what I was getting at
    I'm not arguing that Craig's argument is true. I'm just trying to get Craig's response to Cyrus right.

    Here's what Craig said:

    Finally, your appeal to “an indeterministic, impersonal cause or something else entirely that no one else has thought of yet” simply has no merit as an alternative explanation because we don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. If the cause of the origin of the universe is not a personal, indeterministic cause, then it has to be an impersonal, indeterministic cause, that is also uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful. But what is that? What you’ve offered is not an alternative explanation but just empty words.
    Now, you've characterized this critique as Craig complaining that Cyrus hadn't given a name to the 'indeterministic, impersonal cause or something else entirely that no one else has thought of yet'. Do you still think that's an accurate characterization of Craig's point here?

    Craig's point, if I've got it right, is something like this:

    "There's nothing that we know about that is 'an impersonal, indeterministic cause, that is also uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful.'"


    Now, maybe Craig's point isn't all that important. Perhaps this object is unique, and no other object is similar to it. But Craig's point fits in with a certain brand of intuitionism and epistemology grounded in experience: we can only think about things that we're familiar with. If we don't have an intuitive basis for something, we can't meaningfully think about it. So when Cyrus says that an object exists that is 'an impersonal, indeterministic cause, that is also uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful', he's not referring to anything, since he's not actually conceiving of such an object.

    Given the various commitments to empiricism and naturalism that atheists commonly express, I doubt that you have good grounds to attack the basis of Craig's criticism of Cyrus's proposal (although there still might be good, atheist grounds to attack the criticism itself).

    He does provide something later on? Are you referring to the Islamic reference? Or to something else?
    No, I was referring to the part where Craig justifies his use of the disjunctive syllogism:

    More recently, my work on abstract objects convinced me that there is a much quicker and more direct argument in support of the personhood of the first cause of the universe. I came to realize that the description “uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful” is, except for the last property, a description that also characterizes abstract objects like numbers. Moreover, I’m not aware of anything other than a mind or an abstract object that philosophers have considered to possess the properties of being uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, and spaceless. Since abstract objects are essentially causally effete, however, it follows that the cause of the universe must be a mind.

    He's suggesting that all philosophers who have considered the issue concluded that there must be a god. That's an interesting thought, isn't it?

    That said, it's just as irrelevant as what it was before what "they philosophers" have thought of. What matters is what Cyrus has thought of and put forward. Attack the argument, right?
    Now you're just assuming Craig has bad motives. Isn't it clear to you that when he spoke of what philosophers had considered, he was explaining why he came to the conclusion he did (i.e., justifying his disjunctive syllogism)?

    You suggest that Craig should have attacked the 'argument', which I guess means that you think Craig should have considered Cyrus's proposed alternative to the dilemma Craig offered. But Craig did consider it; he argued that Cyrus's proposal wasn't a proposal at all; it was meaningless, and therefore couldn't actually form an alternative in Craig's dilemma.

    Now, maybe Craig got that part wrong, but I think it's crystal clear that Craig wasn't refusing to consider Cyrus's proposals just because Cyrus isn't a philosopher, and philosophers hadn't thought of those proposals before. Rather, Craig was giving an account of why he used the dilemma that he did.

    Cyrus didn't need to provide an alternative. All he had to show is that Craig has failed to support his claim that the only alternative is a mind.
    I don't know about this. Craig seemed fairly open to suggestions. It seems like he honestly can't think of other possible candidates--if you're reading in good faith, of course.

    Well then it would have been helpful if the one who presents the argument in the first place defined the term. If Craig wants to present us with a dilemma between two propositions, then exclude one and leave out the other one, he's the one that ought to ensure that the Clives (no offence intended here at all! Means "readers who consider what they read with some serious scrutiny") aren't left to have such doubts. Unless the term is precise enough to be meaningful to the reader, the argument is but useless and any rebuttal has the potential of being called a Strawman.
    You didn't define most of the terms you're using. Neither have I. Neither did Cyrus. This critique is widely applicable, and 99% of it is based on the medium in which the authors are writing their arguments. Perhaps Craig thinks that his readership knows what a "mind" is, and knows about the philosophy of the mind. This doesn't seem like a serious critique, other than saying "Craig didn't include everything I need to know in order to get his argument."

    Which is true. But that doesn't make it a bad argument, and it doesn't make Craig a bad arguer. Should he have to provide textbooks to you?


    Also, his arguments are written in pretty plain English. If you want an argument with tons of jargon and technical terms, I think you're looking in the wrong place.

    ---------- Post added at 12:29 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:57 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    And to clarify a few more points...

    On specifically why the first cause cannot be impersonal:
    If the argument so far is correct, then we have proved that there exists an uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, enormously powerful, indeterministic cause of the universe. Now the question is, what is it? What entity fits this description? The answer, it seems to me, is clear: a person, an unembodied mind.

    Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/must-...#ixzz1rkUl7hfv
    There are other arguments that addressed certain properties of the first cause. And if these arguments are sound, then we are left with the with a personal cause.
    We can think of this conclusion as an inference to the best explanation. In inference to the best explanation, we ask ourselves, what hypothesis, if true, would provide the best explanation of the data? The hypothesis that there is a personal Creator of the universe explains wonderfully all the data. By contrast, as I said, there’s nothing like this in a naturalistic worldview. Even given quantum indeterminism (itself a moot point), such indeterminacy is a property of changing, spatiotemporal, physical systems. I don’t know of any competing explanation to, much less better explanation than, the hypothesis of a personal Creator. Notice that it is not legitimate to offer as an explanation a hypothesis which simply repeats the data to be explained—for example, explaining that opium induces sleep because it has “dormitive powers.” Saying that the cause of the universe is an uncaused, . . . , indeterministic, impersonal being is like that. It is not to offer an explanation at all. Therefore, it could never be the better explanation. Similarly, it is no good appealing to unknown entities. That just is to admit that one has no explanation, no alternative hypothesis to offer. It would be like saying that fossils are not best explained as the vestiges of organisms that once lived on Earth but were instead the effect of some mysterious, unknown fossil-forming power in the rocks. Again, that could never count as the best explanation.
    To defeat the argument, Craig rightfully points out that merely saying "It can't be an unembodied mind because we don't know of any such thing" is fallacious. He's argued for such a thing (in other arguments). But Craig providing such arguments, isn't really necessary since all he has to do is show that it is a possibility. In other words, it may seem counter-intuitive to some, but that doesn't mean that reason doesn't actually take you there. In order to show that an unembodied mind is incoherent the objector must actually show that it is.

    There are two ways to defeat such an inference to the best explanation: (i) provide an equally good explanation that does not involve the existence of a personal Creator; or (ii) provide overriding reasons to think that a personal Creator does not exist. We’ve yet to see any evidence that the notion of an unembodied mind is incoherent or even any evidence against mind-body dualism in human beings. On the contrary I think that we have good reason to think that anthropological dualism is true; but that’s another story, since it’s the atheist who bears the burden of proof here.
    Lastly, atheists sometimes argue that the cause is a singularity, but that is already responded to in his response to Cyrus:

    Finally, as for the suggestion that the singularity is the cause of the universe, this has the merit of at least positing some explanatory entity. But in question #182, I explained why the initial cosmological singularity cannot be the ultimate cause of the universe, since it is either unreal or else part of the universe and therefore itself in need of explanation of its coming into being.
    (i) seems easy enough to meet. Consider the collection of all objects that exhibit all of the following properties: uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful. Call the collection of these objects O.

    Consider Bob. Bob is a human person with libertarian free will who makes various choices in life. Now, consider Zombie Bob. Zombie Bob is a philosophical zombie; he has a perfect physical resemblance to Bob, and in any situation Zombie Bob acts precisely as Bob would have acted if he were in Zombie Bob's place. Zombie Bob is in fact identical to Bob--except that Zombie Bob has no mind. Zombie Bob doesn't think, doesn't feel, doesn't have values, doesn't have intentions or motivations, and doesn't make choices. But his outward appearance and the actions he takes are all equivalent to Bob's.

    Zombie Bob seems at least logically possible.


    Now, go to O and construct a new set, Z, according to the following rule: an object o is in Z <=> o causes X in situation S if and only if God causes X in situation S. Then Z has at least one member, God.

    Now consider Zombie God. Clearly, in order for Zombie God to exist, Zombie God must be uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful. Otherwise, there would be a situation (e.g., the state of affairs preceeding the creation of the universe) in which God does X (e.g., creating the universe) but in which Zombie cannot cannot possibly do X. Thus Zombie God is in O.

    Similar to Zombie Bob, Zombie God is such that Zombie God performs an act (or, causes an effect) in situation if and only if God would perform that same action (or, cause the same effect) in that same situation. Therefore Zombie God is in Z. But, similar to Zombie Bob, Zombie God does not have a mind. Zombie God does not think, intend, or make choices. Zombie God simply acts (or, simply causes effects).

    It seems that Zombie God is at least logically possible, according to the same reasoning as Zombie Bob.


    But then (i) is satisfied.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Craig isn't arguing from the idea that something is logically possible or logically impossible and therefore, a 'good explanation.'
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; April 11th, 2012 at 01:13 PM.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Craig isn't arguing from the idea that something is logically possible or logically impossible and therefore, a 'good explanation.'
    Its explanatory power is at least as good as the God hypothesis, with respect to the "maximum likelihood" estimation method. Given Zombie God, the probability that our actual universe is created is precisely the same as if we had assumed God existed instead, because Zombie God causes precisely the same effects as God.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    I'm not sure how that is a real objection though. All you are doing is removing what it is to have personhood. Craig argues that God wills creation, He freely chooses to engage in an act of creation and that this type of determinations is necessary (see his source re: Islamic Determination). The zombie scenario doesn't seem to fit.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    I'm not sure how that is a real objection though. All you are doing is removing what it is to have personhood. Craig argues that God wills creation, He freely chooses to engage in an act of creation and that this type of determinations is necessary (see his source re: Islamic Determination). The zombie scenario doesn't seem to fit.
    Zombie God isn't a person. Zombie God doesn't have a mind.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Exactly. All you are doing is removing personhood, like I said. And that's exactly the argument that Craig is offering, one with personhood. I don't see how you've successfully provided an alternative and better possibility.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStables
    (i) seems easy enough to meet. Consider the collection of all objects that exhibit all of the following properties: uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful. Call the collection of these objects O.

    Consider Bob. Bob is a human person with libertarian free will who makes various choices in life. Now, consider Zombie Bob. Zombie Bob is a philosophical zombie; he has a perfect physical resemblance to Bob, and in any situation Zombie Bob acts precisely as Bob would have acted if he were in Zombie Bob's place. Zombie Bob is in fact identical to Bob--except that Zombie Bob has no mind. Zombie Bob doesn't think, doesn't feel, doesn't have values, doesn't have intentions or motivations, and doesn't make choices. But his outward appearance and the actions he takes are all equivalent to Bob's.

    Zombie Bob seems at least logically possible.


    Now, go to O and construct a new set, Z, according to the following rule: an object o is in Z <=> o causes X in situation S if and only if God causes X in situation S. Then Z has at least one member, God.

    Now consider Zombie God. Clearly, in order for Zombie God to exist, Zombie God must be uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful. Otherwise, there would be a situation (e.g., the state of affairs preceeding the creation of the universe) in which God does X (e.g., creating the universe) but in which Zombie cannot cannot possibly do X. Thus Zombie God is in O.

    Similar to Zombie Bob, Zombie God is such that Zombie God performs an act (or, causes an effect) in situation if and only if God would perform that same action (or, cause the same effect) in that same situation. Therefore Zombie God is in Z. But, similar to Zombie Bob, Zombie God does not have a mind. Zombie God does not think, intend, or make choices. Zombie God simply acts (or, simply causes effects).

    It seems that Zombie God is at least logically possible, according to the same reasoning as Zombie Bob.


    But then (i) is satisfied.
    This seems problematic. Cosmological Arguments argue for an efficient first cause. The beauty of a disembodied mind is that a mind possesses will. God creates the universe because He wills to create a Universe. Zombie god, being mindless, lacks will, he simply acts so doesn't this beg the question of what causes that action? Potentially this simply degenerates into an infinite regression. I see potential problems with this counterargument, but I'm tired.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Exactly. All you are doing is removing personhood, like I said. And that's exactly the argument that Craig is offering, one with personhood. I don't see how you've successfully provided an alternative and better possibility.
    It doesn't have to be better. It has to be equally good with respect to the "maximum likelihood" estimation method. Which I think I've shown is true.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Is Cyrus's inductive argument about metaphysical impossibility?
    I don't know. But it doesn't appear to be about logical impossibility. He merely says that "evidence exists" that such a mind is impossible. And I agree with you that "incoherent" does appear to imply "logically impossible"; if something is incoherent, it doesn't agree with itself, one would think.

    But perhaps I mischaracterized Craig's response. Perhaps by "decoherence" he meant to include both "logically decoherent" and "metaphysically decoherent". In either case, I don't think Craig has seriously mischaracterized Cyrus's argument.
    Well, he made Cyrus's claim stronger by omitting "evidence exists" and did imply a logical impossibility claim. Serious or not, it's an unnecessary rewording of the argument into something that has a real potential to be undestood differently to what it was; aka Strawman.


    I think that most people would agree that the definition of a turtle includes things like DNA. That is, if x is a turtle, then x necessarily has a turtle's DNA. Why should I think that something similar is true for minds, that if x is a mind, then x necessarily has a physical presence?
    Wait, this is a special turtle. We don't know of any turtles that don't have DNA; neither do we know of any minds that don't have bodies attached to them and that aren't temporal. Special turtles, special minds. It's all special pleading and that's pretty much my point.

    I don't know what you mean by "his use of the word 'mind' is unsupported". Why does his use of it need support? He's just listing possibilities. Are you suggesting that it's impossible for O to be a mind?
    No, I'm not saying that it's impossible for O to be a mind. But it'f for Craig to demonstrate that the only thing that O can be is a mnd. Remember, it's Craig who mounts the argument. Cyrus (and myself) merely says that Craig hasn't proven his point.


    Even if it were impossible, though, Craig's use of it would still be licit. I can say "2 is either even or odd", even though we know that "2 is odd" is a contradiction.
    Yes, but in order for the example to be applicable to the current situation, you'd have to then exclude the proposition that 2 is even and claim that it's odd. Herein lies the problem, Kind Sir.


    I don't think Craig was complaining that Cyrus didn't give his proposed object a name. I think Craig was complaining that the object Cyrus proposed wasn't meaningful. (I'm not saying Craig's complaint is accurate.) Giving it a name wouldn't make it more meaningful.
    Well Craig hasn't supported that it's not meaningful. How is it not meaningful? It meets the characteristics required of O. Therefore, by the very virtue of the argument, it must be meaningful. One can propose a number of things that don't have all the characteristics of O and that have characteristics that O doesn't have. Turtles have DNA and bodies. Minds have bodies attached. Neither turtles nor minds exist non-temporally. In order to fit any known object into O, you'd need to change the characteristics of that object.

    How is a god more meaninigful a soution than any non-personal solution? That's the issue.

    I'm not arguing that Craig's argument is true. I'm just trying to get Craig's response to Cyrus right.
    I understand. As I see it, other than the reference to the Islamic thing, Craig doesn't address Cyrus' charge of false dilemma. He attempts to address it by appealing to what is "known" but that's a red herring, unless a (smuggled) premise is first supported (that O is more likely than not to be known).


    Now, you've characterized this critique as Craig complaining that Cyrus hadn't given a name to the 'indeterministic, impersonal cause or something else entirely that no one else has thought of yet'. Do you still think that's an accurate characterization of Craig's point here?
    Yes I do, although it's not immediately obvious on the face of it. Craig proposes a non-material, non-temporal mind. That's not an object that's in any way known. It's no more known than a non-material, non-temporal turtle. Now, ordinary turtles have DNA but non-material turtles don't; unless it's non-material DNA. Turtles are known, so are minds. Neither turtles nor minds containing the changed characteristics are in any way known.



    Craig's point, if I've got it right, is something like this:

    "There's nothing that we know about that is 'an impersonal, indeterministic cause, that is also uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful.'"
    He claims that the only thing we know of that could have those characteristics is a mind. But that's bollocks. Anything that exists with those characteristcs is capable of having those characteristics. And we know of precisely nothing that is capable of having those characteristics. In my view, the central part of any mind is self-awareness. In my view, that also amounts to it being personal (I may not agree with Cyrus who suggests an impersonal mind but it's semantic crap anyway). And I don't see any support in what Craig says for the proposition that O must be self-aware.


    Now, maybe Craig's point isn't all that important. Perhaps this object is unique, and no other object is similar to it. But Craig's point fits in with a certain brand of intuitionism and epistemology grounded in experience: we can only think about things that we're familiar with.
    Then his claim should (at the very highest) be this:

    If O is something we're familiar with, it's probably a non-temporal, non-physical mind.

    By skipping the qualification, he is smuggling in a premise that O must be somethign we're familiar with.

    Alternatively, he might say this:

    If O is something we can talk about, it must be something we're familiar with

    Except, the atheist will say "No, we can't say that O is something we can talk about or be familiar with; we know nothing about O, other than that it must be non-temporal and non-material (and I'm only saying this for the sake of the argument, not necessarily agreeing with those either). Stop making **** up". And the atheist will be right.

    If we don't have an intuitive basis for something, we can't meaningfully think about it. So when Cyrus says that an object exists that is 'an impersonal, indeterministic cause, that is also uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful', he's not referring to anything, since he's not actually conceiving of such an object.
    He did conceive of it. He gave it all its necessary characteristics. Sure, he may not know how that object functions, how it works, etc....But the same objection applies to any known version of a god and his/her works.


    Given the various commitments to empiricism and naturalism that atheists commonly express, I doubt that you have good grounds to attack the basis of Craig's criticism of Cyrus's proposal (although there still might be good, atheist grounds to attack the criticism itself).
    I think I have excellent grounds. I think that O is very unlikely anything that we can refer to empirically simply because it is necessarily the most unique thing in existence. It's just as unique (if not more) as the Universe itself. Except, being outside the Universe, it's not subject to any laws known to us. Craig wants to have it both ways. On the one hand, he claims that O is non-temporal and non-material and not subject to the laws of the universe. On the other hand, he steps back within the laws of the Universe to refer to O on the basis of things known to us.



    Now you're just assuming Craig has bad motives. Isn't it clear to you that when he spoke of what philosophers had considered, he was explaining why he came to the conclusion he did (i.e., justifying his disjunctive syllogism)?
    I don't really know about his motives but if it's true that all (or even most) modern philosophers who have considered the issue agree that a mind is the most likely solution then I'm certainly not aware of it. And, in any event, it wouldn't matter. They can think what they want. It's the argument that matters.


    You suggest that Craig should have attacked the 'argument', which I guess means that you think Craig should have considered Cyrus's proposed alternative to the dilemma Craig offered. But Craig did consider it; he argued that Cyrus's proposal wasn't a proposal at all; it was meaningless, and therefore couldn't actually form an alternative in Craig's dilemma.
    Sure. And that's flawed. Of course Cyrus's proposal was a proposal. Cyrus gave all the necessary characteristics of O. The fact that we know nothing that meets those characteristics is immaterial. Why should we know of anything in the Universe that has the characteristics of the cause of the Universe?


    Now, maybe Craig got that part wrong, but I think it's crystal clear that Craig wasn't refusing to consider Cyrus's proposals just because Cyrus isn't a philosopher, and philosophers hadn't thought of those proposals before. Rather, Craig was giving an account of why he used the dilemma that he did.
    I maintain that the appeal (even if true, and that's dubious) to what "philosophers think" is utterly useless.


    I don't know about this. Craig seemed fairly open to suggestions. It seems like he honestly can't think of other possible candidates--if you're reading in good faith, of course.
    Perhaps you're right. But his dismissal of Cyrus's proposed entity is unwarranted. Once again, it doesn't matter that we don't know of any entity with these specific characteristcs. We shouldn't expect to know of one! The entity (O) we're talking about is probably the most unique entity in existence. Hence, there's nothing wrong (and everything right) in stating the necessary traits of O and leaving it at that. Anything further is uneconomical. The turtle proposal is uneconomical. So is the self-aware (personal) mind proposal.

    You didn't define most of the terms you're using. Neither have I. Neither did Cyrus. This critique is widely applicable, and 99% of it is based on the medium in which the authors are writing their arguments. Perhaps Craig thinks that his readership knows what a "mind" is, and knows about the philosophy of the mind. This doesn't seem like a serious critique, other than saying "Craig didn't include everything I need to know in order to get his argument."
    Well I think I know what mind is and I think I know what Craig means by it. I think self-awareness is the essential attribute. A self-aware entity is an entity that possesses a mind. Perhaps one has to be able to think as well, I'm not sure. In any case, a thinking machine that doesn't have self-awareness can't be said to be a personal mind. Thus, personhood (or "mindness") must entail that one characteristic; self-awareness.

    I don't agree with your characterisation of "Craig hasn't provided everything I need to know to get his argument". If indeed there's some doubt about what he means by "mind" (and I personally don't think there is) then what he has failed to do is to define the very central object of his hypothesis. How can he say that the only thing we know of that's capable of being O is a mind if he doesn't make it clear what a mind is?


    Which is true. But that doesn't make it a bad argument, and it doesn't make Craig a bad arguer. Should he have to provide textbooks to you?
    Ibid.


    Also, his arguments are written in pretty plain English. If you want an argument with tons of jargon and technical terms, I think you're looking in the wrong place.
    Plain English is a very precise language, if used skillfully. You are one example of a person who can use plain English in so precise a manner that it doesn't leave any doubts. I know a number of other people with this skill and a number are members of ODN. I disagree that jargon is required to make it clear what one means by "mind". A simple set of defining characteristics is all it would need. It would probably be easier to do using plain English than jargon in the first place.
    Last edited by Allocutus; April 11th, 2012 at 07:38 PM.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    This seems problematic. Cosmological Arguments argue for an efficient first cause. The beauty of a disembodied mind is that a mind possesses will. God creates the universe because He wills to create a Universe. Zombie god, being mindless, lacks will, he simply acts so doesn't this beg the question of what causes that action? Potentially this simply degenerates into an infinite regression. I see potential problems with this counterargument, but I'm tired.
    Can't you just say that it's efficaciously caused? It would be like asking, "But what causes God to create the universe?"
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    But Craig providing such arguments, isn't really necessary since all he has to do is show that it is a possibility. In other words, it may seem counter-intuitive to some, but that doesn't mean that reason doesn't actually take you there. In order to show that an unembodied mind is incoherent the objector must actually show that it is.
    But nobody is suggesting that the concept is incoherent. Craig accused Cyrus of making this objection but the accusation was a Strawman. Cyrus was clearly appealing to the lack of empirical experience of such minds (and, of course, Cyrus was wrong in doing so).

    An unembodied mind is possible, sure. Craig needs to show, however, that self-awareness (the very central attribute of anything that we can define as a mind) is a necessary characteristic of O. He hasn't done it (the "free will" argument aside; new thread for that)

    Also, I don't think (and sorry if I'm wrong) you have addressed my issue about "known". My question is: what entitles us to assume that O has to be anything at all that is known to us? Given O's obvious uniqueness, isn't the opposite more likely (that it's utterly unknown to us)?
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Can't you just say that it's efficaciously caused? It would be like asking, "But what causes God to create the universe?"
    Does libertarian free will need any cause of that will? If not, then that is sufficient cause for God to create the universe and the chain of regression is terminated. That's what I'm saying.
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    Re: William Lane Craig fails to support "unembodied mind"...Craig vs Cyrus

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    It doesn't have to be better. It has to be equally good with respect to the "maximum likelihood" estimation method. Which I think I've shown is true.
    I don't see how you have. Perhaps you can rephrase your argument. Maybe I don't understand it.
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