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1/11/2018 12:50 pm  #1


Why is there God instead of Nothing?

I read this article by Edward Feser a while ago: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.si/2013/10/why-is-there-anything-at-all-its-simple.html

The more I think about it, the more I feel that Feser is missing the point. While I agree with him on 90% of things, it seems that he is confusing things here. The question “Does God exist?”, regardless of how you answer it, is not the same question as “Why is there Something instead of Nothing?” or, once you’ve established the existence of God, “Why is there God instead of Nothing?” It would seem to me that this is one of those mysteries that only God Himself knows. After all, not even Thomists say that God is 100% intelligible to us.

Feser writes about divine simplicity, classical theism, the ultimate source, actuality and potentiality etc., which is all well and fine, but what does it have to do with the question here? If there were Nothing, there would be no source or anything at all, simple or composite, actual or potential. We can argue to God precisely because, the way things are, we see that there are composites and potentialities, but what does that have to do with the absence of Everything, where there would simply be Nothing instead of Pure Actuality or The One, etc.?

I’m sure there is a reason why, in fact, there has to be God instead of Nothing, but I don’t think we can really know it with our limited minds.

Am I missing something here?

Last edited by Dry and Uninspired (1/11/2018 1:00 pm)

 

1/11/2018 1:12 pm  #2


Re: Why is there God instead of Nothing?

Dry and Uninspired wrote:

I’m sure there is a reason why, in fact, there has to be God instead of Nothing, but I don’t think we can really know it with our limited minds.

Am I missing something here?

The ontological argument.

 

1/11/2018 1:13 pm  #3


Re: Why is there God instead of Nothing?

DanielCC wrote:

Dry and Uninspired wrote:

I’m sure there is a reason why, in fact, there has to be God instead of Nothing, but I don’t think we can really know it with our limited minds.

Am I missing something here?

The ontological argument.

 
Which one? Leibnizian?

     Thread Starter
 

1/11/2018 1:33 pm  #4


Re: Why is there God instead of Nothing?

Dry and Uninspired wrote:

DanielCC wrote:

Dry and Uninspired wrote:

I’m sure there is a reason why, in fact, there has to be God instead of Nothing, but I don’t think we can really know it with our limited minds.

Am I missing something here?

The ontological argument.

 
Which one? Leibnizian?

Yes, the modal argument. More generally God is a necessary being and this necessity follows from various divine attributes such as perfection or simplicity.

Arguments such the PSR Cosmological Argument prove that a necessary being exists but they don't give an account of what it is in the nature of said being that makes it necessary. I have written about this just recently in the context of that argument:

http://ontologicalinvestigations.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/five-proofs-critique-rationalist-proof.html

I agree that 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' though historically venerable is not the most illuminating way of phrasing that question. What is really meant is something like 'why do contingent beings' exist?'

Last edited by DanielCC (1/11/2018 1:33 pm)

 

1/11/2018 1:51 pm  #5


Re: Why is there God instead of Nothing?

DanielCC wrote:

Dry and Uninspired wrote:

DanielCC wrote:


The ontological argument.

 
Which one? Leibnizian?

Yes, the modal argument. More generally God is a necessary being and this necessity follows from various divine attributes such as perfection or simplicity.

Arguments such the PSR Cosmological Argument prove that a necessary being exists but they don't give an account of what it is in the nature of said being that makes it necessary. I have written about this just recently in the context of that argument:

http://ontologicalinvestigations.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/five-proofs-critique-rationalist-proof.html

I agree that 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' though historically venerable is not the most illuminating way of phrasing that question. What is really meant is something like 'why do contingent beings' exist?'

I think that you might be missing the same point that Feser is here. I’m just not good enough at technical philosophy to make it more clear what it is.
 

     Thread Starter
 

1/11/2018 6:53 pm  #6


Re: Why is there God instead of Nothing?

I understand your point, Dry and Uninspired. You are saying that Feser is showing that God must exist, but we can always ask why things are as they are. The problem here is the limits of discursive reasoning. What is necessary must be, but our discursive intellects have a problem assimilating that. The answer is, in fact, because God is - he is his own reason and explanation, but to fully appreciate this answer goes beyond what discursive reason can give.

 

1/11/2018 8:21 pm  #7


Re: Why is there God instead of Nothing?

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

I understand your point, Dry and Uninspired. You are saying that Feser is showing that God must exist, but we can always why things are as they are. The problem here is the limits of discursive reasoning. What is necessary must be, but our discursive intellects have a problem assimilating that. The answer is, in fact, because God is - he is his own reason and explanation, but to fully appreciate this answer goes beyond what discursive reason can give.

 
Yeah, thanks, I think that’s about right.

     Thread Starter
 

1/12/2018 6:18 am  #8


Re: Why is there God instead of Nothing?

Dry and Uninspired wrote:

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

I understand your point, Dry and Uninspired. You are saying that Feser is showing that God must exist, but we can always why things are as they are. The problem here is the limits of discursive reasoning. What is necessary must be, but our discursive intellects have a problem assimilating that. The answer is, in fact, because God is - he is his own reason and explanation, but to fully appreciate this answer goes beyond what discursive reason can give.

 
Yeah, thanks, I think that’s about right.

I am not following you two. Of course one can always ask what the explanation for something is, that explanation either being found in the nature of the being itself (reported by the states-of-affairs) or in the nature of another.

Also: I might be failing to answer the question (if so sorry) but I am not giving the same answer as Feser, since he, like all his Thomist brethren, is notoriously triggered by the ontological argument. If people want more on this subject I'd recommend Brian Leftow's essay Divine Necessity in The Cambridge Companion to Christian Philosophical Theology. Message me for the PDF if you don't have access.
 

 

1/12/2018 9:27 am  #9


Re: Why is there God instead of Nothing?

DanielCC wrote:

Dry and Uninspired wrote:

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

I understand your point, Dry and Uninspired. You are saying that Feser is showing that God must exist, but we can always why things are as they are. The problem here is the limits of discursive reasoning. What is necessary must be, but our discursive intellects have a problem assimilating that. The answer is, in fact, because God is - he is his own reason and explanation, but to fully appreciate this answer goes beyond what discursive reason can give.

 
Yeah, thanks, I think that’s about right.

I am not following you two. Of course one can always ask what the explanation for something is, that explanation either being found in the nature of the being itself (reported by the states-of-affairs) or in the nature of another.

Also: I might be failing to answer the question (if so sorry) but I am not giving the same answer as Feser, since he, like all his Thomist brethren, is notoriously triggered by the ontological argument. If people want more on this subject I'd recommend Brian Leftow's essay Divine Necessity in The Cambridge Companion to Christian Philosophical Theology. Message me for the PDF if you don't have access.
 

 
I don't think thomists have a problem with the ontological argument as a sort of explanation or elucidating way to show why God exists. It would, after all, pretty much follow from the thomistic view of God as Pure Act, and Anselm's own view was based on divine simplicity.

The problem is with the ontological argument *as* an argument to show *that* God exists, because then we have to either give proof of the first premiss (in which case the argument is insufficient) or show it is likely, but in that case the probability of the first premiss is equal to that of the existence of God. These are my problems with it anyway.

However, the OA can be very useful to do a modal tweaking of premisses in different arguments (e.g. Cosmological). So we can have Scotus's cosmological argument, or the Gale-Pruss argument.

 

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