Friday, July 27, 2012

Properties of the First Cause: Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

In the book Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology William Lane Craig and James D. Sinclair attempt to defend the claim that the cause of the universe "is plausibly taken to be personal." They give three reasons for this, the second of which is the following:
"Second, the personhood of the First Cause is already powerfully suggested by the properties which have been deduced by means of our conceptual analysis. For there appear to be only two candidates which can be described as immaterial, beginningless, uncaused, timeless, and spaceless beings: either abstract objects or an unembodied mind. Abstract objects such as numbers, sets, propositions, and properties are very typically construed by philosophers who include such things in their ontology as being precisely the sort of entities which exist necessarily, timelessly, and spacelessly. Similarly, philosophers who hold to the possibility of disembodied mind would describe such mental substances as immaterial and spaceless, and there seems no reason to think that a Cosmic Mind might not also be beginningless and uncaused. No other candidates which could be suitably described as immaterial, beginningless, uncaused, timeless, and spaceless beings come to mind. Nor has anyone else, to our knowledge, suggested any other such candidates."
I can appreciate the authors' line of reasoning here, as it seems logical to look for a potential cause among the things that have the characteristics deduced thus far, but I see some problems with it. First of all, I think abstract objects exist due to the universe. They are made possible because of the properties of space, time, energy, matter, etc. So, if there was no universe abstract objects wouldn't exist. Therefore, I don't think an abstract object is a good choice for the cause of the universe. However, Craig and Sinclair don't think it is either, so while we seem to disagree on the nature of abstract objects, we agree that they are not good candidates for the cause of the universe.  Secondly, the existence of disembodied minds seems to be related to the mind-body problem, and as previously mentioned, I've heard there's a growing scientific consensus against the dualist viewpoint, i.e. the mind is separate from the brain and exists independently of the brain. Therefore, I don't think disembodied minds exist. (I don't have any supporting sources to cite at the moment, but neither did Craig or Sinclair cite sources supporting the existence of disembodied minds.) However, the cause of the universe came from without or "outside" the universe. So, although I do not think disembodied minds exist within this universe, do I think disembodied minds exist "outside" the universe? I have no idea. We would need evidence for that, but what would evidence for something outside the universe look like? How would evidence within this universe point to something outside of this universe? I don't know of any evidence for anything whatsoever existing outside of the universe, let alone a disembodied mind, except for the unknown cause of the universe that I have granted in this discussion.

That brings me to another point against a disembodied mind as cause of the universe. If one is going to propose a cause that comes from outside of the universe, then Occam's Razor seems to nearly eliminate the plausibility of a disembodied mind due to the extreme complexity of minds and the lack of justification for the proposal.  In my opinion, to propose a disembodied mind is to introduce a huge amount of theoretical complexity far beyond necessity, and to be unable to think of any other possible causes does not justify it. Therefore, I do not think a disembodied mind is a good hypothesis.

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