It seems Aristotle’s argument leaves us with three options:
1) potency has been transitioning into act eternally, i.e. infinite regress;
2) the initial transition from potency to act arose from absolute nothing, i.e. creation ex nihilo;
3) the initial transition from potency to act arose from an unmoved mover of some sort.
For those who accept the third choice, the key question becomes which type of mover is the best explanation, which often gets defined as the the more parsimonious explanation. Paring down even further, we find two sub-options for the third choice: either the first unmoved mover is some sort of conscious entity with intent, or some non-conscious, impersonal self-organizing emergent process of matter. Beginning around here, commenter Dominic and myself exchanged along these lines in the Introduction.
In particular, I’ve noticed a consensus among atheists who object to describing Aristotle’s unmoved mover as any sort of conscious entity or God. They typically offer some variant of an Occam’s razor complaint, arguing that such requires “extra steps” or is “not parsimonious.” I would respond that merely asserting that something “isn’t parsimonious” isn’t an argument – it’s an assertion – and I’ll address the “extra steps” claim in today’s post.
One reason I haven't posted anything new in over two weeks is because we had a really good thread going off the last post. However, that's not the only reason.
Over the past two weeks I've been rethinking positions I'd previously been more or less 100% committed to. At least provisionally, although I am a believer, I still hold that no successful ontological argument for God's existence exists, meaning I do not believe there is an argument that logically requires a skeptic to accept God's existence as the only response. Nonetheless, I agree that at least philosophically, life requires an explanation — and I agree that depending on how they're delineated, First-Cause arguments can certainly be cogent — but I've just never felt they logically required the skeptic to accept God's existence. Today I'm not so sure.
Sorry, but the title's a little misleading. This post has nothing to do with evolution. Rather, I was on a thread recently when a commenter whose name I like and would enjoy hearing an explanation of (Mike aka MonolithTMA) made a passing comment that got me thinking:
I always wonder why theists bring up Ockham's Razor as it points about as far away from God as possible, (March 26, 2009 7:44 PM)
I thought that comment was interesting, but I didn't say anything at the moment, just tucked it into the "parsing" file. A few more Ockham's Razor -related comments were subsequently thrown out, the next from the blog owner, Karla:
Ockham's Razor to go with more simple answer that fits. . . To me it would appear that suggesting infinite un-caused universes is more complex than the answer of an eternal being.
Anonymous: And, you would be wrong, as I've explained. god is the most complex "answer" anyone can propose, because the level of complexity for a god would be far and away higher than any other explanation, not to mention all the additional questions it raises, the added layer of the supernatural over the natural universe, and the fact that it can't get off the ground scientifically. You can continue to ignore all of this and erroneously assert that "goddidit" is simple, but it clearly is not.
Does anyone else see the rational difficulties here?