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I am trying create a logical approach to the question of whether there's a creator or not, but I have a few questions. Before that though, I'll outline what I have currently:

Something started everything. That something is the prime mover, or unmoved mover, as Aristotle called it. That something may be external or it may be the universe itself; in which case, the universe is its own starter. The universe being its own cause may seem impossible, but when dealing with subjects like these, at the edge of and beyond our existence (and therefore comprehension), ineffable possibilities must be considered. If time is circular, then the last moment of the universe starts the first moment of the universe, and in such an event, the universe creates itself.

So, that's the first dichotomous question. Was the universe started by something outside of the universe, or did the universe start itself? Is an external force the prime mover, or is the universe itself the prime mover? Then comes the second dichotomous question: is the prime mover conscious or not? Now, exactly what consciousness is, is a scientific, semantic and philosophical mess. So, for the purposes of simplicity and universality, I've defined conscious as any level of experience (and thus awareness). If the prime mover experiences existence, it is to some degree aware of existence, and is therefore by my definition of consciousness, conscious.

So, the prime mover may be conscious, or it may not. If the former, there is a creator, if the latter, there is not. Again, for simplicity, I'm defining the creator as the conscious prime mover. The prime mover may not have consciously created the universe, but if they are conscious, and they created it, then they are the creator. Here's a diagram.

My original thought was then that this means there's a 50% chance of there being a creator and a 50% that there isn't one. This is based on the fact that the creator is not necessarily bound by our universe. They are not necessarily materialistic. As such, for both of those reasons, we may not have access to any information regarding the probability of whether there's a creator or not. There may not exist any possible proof (if going by our current understanding and knowledge, there are no proofs that could prove a creator, though the possibility of a currently ineffable proof provided by the creator themselves must be considered). Science deals strictly with the falsifiable and material, so there's no help there either. Essentially, we have no objective information supporting one side or the other. Because of that, the probability of what the correct answer is is dictated by the number of options. There are two options, as such, the probability of either being correct is 50%.

Alright, so here are the questions:

  1. What if there exists another possibility; a superposition between the existence and non-existence of a creator. This, to our human logic, seems impossible. However, quantum mechanics showed us that our human logic is not the supreme truth, by showing us completely absurd truths. If a particle can exist in a superposition between to states, why can't the creator exist in a superposition between existence and non-existence? As stated before, ineffable possibilities must be considered due to the subject matter.

  2. To expand on this further, what if neither is true? This seems utterly impossible to me. If the prime mover isn't conscious, non-conscious nor in a superposition of the two, then what is it? Either something is conscious or non-conscious, or both, right? Well again, surely the principle of the possibility of ineffability applies here too?

  3. Lastly, I have a question that is kind of mathematical, but I believe philosophical as well. If no information is available on a question, except the number of possible answers (n-amount), isn't then the probability of any given answer being correct 1/n? Probability is dictated by our knowledge reference, and when we have no other knowledge than the number of possible answers, won't the probability be based solely on that? Furthermore, what if we know about a certain number of possible answers, but we also know there might be more possible answers, but we don't know what those other possible answers are, nor how many there are? Is the probability of any of the known answers then changed? Since we don't know about the contents or the number of the unknown possible answers, surely they make up the "outside region" of our knowledge reference, and thus do not factor in on the probability? As such, the ineffable answers of "both" and "neither" may exist outside of our knowledge reference, and therefore not play in on the probabilities. If they don't, the probability of either answer remains 50%. If they do, then it is changed to 33.33% or 25%, depending on if one or both of them are factored in.

EDIT:

@armand had a comment with a very important criticism. There may not be a prime mover at all. Now, this is something I had considered before, in combination with the assumption of a definite start point for the universe. How there cannot be a prime mover if the universe has a start point perplexes me, as then the universe would be its own starter? However, there is the possibility of a universe with no definite start point, but rather with an infinite causal chain. As such, I must change my model to fit this.

Here's the new diagram.

With this new possibility, there's only a 50% chance that there is a prime mover in the first place, which means there's a 25% chance that there is a creator. And that's without taking into account the other potential possibilities, such as the superposition and the neither option.

Then there's a criticism to be had about the variety of ways to define consciousness. I am aware that consciousness is so ill-defined that it pretty much means nothing, and my definition of it in this post is arbitrarily subjective. However, it doesn't really matter. One can define the creator as whatever one wants, and the argument remains the same; since we don't have any evidence supporting the existence or non-existence of a creator (however one defines creator within the plethora possible interpretations of consciousness and creation), the likelihood that this creator exists will be equal to 1 divided by the number of options, which according to this post is known to be between 2 to 4. However, I am open to the possibility that even more possibilities exist, though I don't know how this possibility plays in on the probabilities of the options.

However, there's a problem with this Bayesian approach to probability as far as I'm aware. Since, in the absence of information, the number of possibilities creates the likelihood for any of them being true (given our knowledge reference), then any dichotomy, however absurd, would create a 50% of either absurd and arbitrary option being true.

For example, let's ask this question: "Is the creator a cat?" If we take it as a yes or no question (let's ignore the superposition and neither options, as the question still holds), then there's a 50% chance of either being true. But here's the thing, what if the creator has no body? That's another dichotomy; "does the creator have a body or not?" For it to be a cat, it must have a body, so then the probability falls to 25%. But the original dichotomy still holds, and 50% != 25%. Well, I think I actually answered this question as I wrote it.

It depends on how you define a cat. Is a cat necessarily material? Some would look at a "cat soul" as a cat, whereas some wouldn't. If a cat soul is a cat, then the creator may be a cat whether they have a body or not. As such, the probability remains 50%. If one defines a cat as necessarily material, then the aforementioned dichotomy is only a linguistic dichotomy, but not a logical dichotomy. Given a materialistic definition of a cat, two criteria must be met for the statement of "the creator is a cat" to be true. Those two criteria are; "the creator is material and the creator is a cat". So then the question is, where do those criteria point to? Well, they point to collections of possibilities. The first criterium points to collection of two possibilities; "material or not material". The second criterium points to yet another collection of two possibilities; "cat or not a cat". Given that the latter is dependent on the former, the probability then becomes 25%. So, the probability is not equal to the number of options in the sentence, but rather equal to the product of the respective probabilities of the respective criteria being correct, those probabilities being dictated by the amount of parallel possibilities there exists to the respective criteria.

So then comes the question of intersectionality. What if one poses the same question, but with a different object? "What if the creator is a dog?". That too has either a 50% or 25% of being correct, depending on if one necessitates a dog to be material. "What if the creator is a chimpanzee?" Suddenly there's three options, all (if given the former definition) 50% likely. One can continue like this infinitely, going through the infinitely long list possible conscious objects, which then creates 0% that the creator is just a cat. If all the other options are 50% likely, and infinity divided by 0.5 is still infinity, then there's 100% that the creator is one of those infinitely many options. However, if the creator is both a cat and a dog at the same time, for example, is it still a cat or a dog? Some would say no. Again, we return to the question of definition. If one defines a cat as being solely a cat, then there is a 0% chance that the creator is a cat. This is because the criterium of them being a cat exists alongside infinitely many parallel possibilities, and if the definition of a cat is that it is solely a cat, then the creator cannot be cat, because that means that infinitely many possible options happened to not be the case, which is impossible (in math at least). Therefore, if the probabilities of 50% or 25% is to hold for the creator being a cat, or a dog, or whatever, the definitions of these must allow for intersectionality, due to their infinite competition.

Now, this actually means that given our knowledge reference, there's a 0% that the creator is any one thing, and a 100% that they are everything, because infinity minus anything finite is still infinity. So, no matter how many things the creator may be, there's still infinitely many other things they may be, leaving a 100% chance that they're something else as well. Adding that "something else" still leaves an infinite amount of possibilities left, which means the probability is still 100%.

I hope that came out clearly.

EDIT 2:

I made an assumption when assuming that the creator can be infinitely many different objects. Since the creator is by definition conscious, this consciousness may put restrictions upon the things it can be. Certain arrangements of matter, energy or whatever else the creator may be made of, may not allow consciousness. As such, this is another dichotomy; is there a finite or infinite number of objects of which the creator can be? If the former, than it is only extremely unlikely for the creator to be solely a cat. If the latter, then it is impossible for the creator to be one thing only, and necessary for the creator to be everything at the same time. So, if one assumes the creator exists, then there's a 50% that the creator is everything and 50% chance the creator is not everything.

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    "Something started everything." We don't know that.
    – armand
    Jul 8 at 22:36
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    @armand What's the other alternative? Nothing? Because if nothing started everything, doesn't that mean that everything started itself?
    – A. Kvåle
    Jul 8 at 22:48
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    Well, didn't your "prime mover" started itself? Or it was there eternally. Why what is good enough for the prime mover is not good enough for the universe? Also, it could be something else we can't even fathom. "I can imagine no other possibility so it must be this" is a flawed and presumptuous reasoning, assuming you have exhausted the whole domain of possibilities. Especially when you acknowledge in the rest of the question that "human logic is not the supreme truth". I'm not claiming to know it started from nothing, I say "I don't know".
    – armand
    Jul 8 at 23:22
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    The alternative is an eternal universe without a boundary in time. This resolves the question of an almighty creator. Jul 8 at 23:25
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    @DescheleSchilder An eternal universe without a boundary in time is one alternative. Another alternative is simply that the notion of causation does not hold everywhere. And why should it? We can imagine many mathematical objects that do not have causation. Causation is not logically necessary everywhere, it's something we empirically observe in our immediate vicinity. In physics causation breaks down around the Planck length, and along closed timelike curves.
    – causative
    Jul 9 at 0:44
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The question of the existence of a creator can never be solved logically. To create assumes a time prior to the creation. If there wasn't time yet it (time) couldn't have beenn created by a process taking place in time. That is why the big bang picture fails. The universe can't have created itself.

So to logically try to find out about the existence of a creator is doomed to fail. Even when quantum mechanics is involved.

If your logic makes use of ideas that give creation a non-temporal meaning then the situation is of course different. Giving creation a non-temporal meaning is required as the temporal meaning leads to difficulties. Only the adoption of a non-temporal causation offers an answer. In that case god(s) might have created the world complete with spacetime. Even in six days...

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  • This answer assumes that beings must exist in time. There are philosophies that explicitly deny that.
    – Mary
    Jul 9 at 2:50
  • @Mary Thats what I mentioned. But you have to applly a different logic for that. Jul 9 at 3:41
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This comes with questioning whether logic can be used to prove some belief, as long as the person is willing to add additional assumptions to support their belief (taking the concept of "logic" for arguments - that is, concatenations of propositions - are valid, not if they are true). Logic can "rationalize" a belief. Much in the evolution of philosophy has addressed exactly this issue. Platonic dialogues concern the evils of specious reasoning of the sophists and rhetoricians, who taught how to "prove" both sides of any question, an art still studied by lawyers and politicians. Reasoning can rationalize both sides of any question; logic can tell if the reasoning is correct; but, in the modern sense, only evidence-supported induction (roughly oversimplifying) can conditionally prove that a synthetic belief is correct.

The arguments developed by Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Aquinas, and also the perspective of Descartes. General revelation evidence, so to speak (which I consider invalid). They use logic to prove their argument is valid/invalid. Not that it is true or false, nor that the propositions used in the argument are either true or false.

The reality is that axiomatic logic can also systematically describe meaningfully corresponding to reality, so it depends on what logic we are referring to.

"Logical pluralism is the thesis that there is more than one correct logic. The main opposing view, logical monism, is the thesis that there is only one."

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Discussion of assumptions

One difficulty in verbally reasoning about extra-universe topics - like the modes it came into being - is that we have no insight whether any of the aspects involved in this reasoning bear any significance outside the context of the universe. When it comes to time in particular, our models of nature expressly describe (space)time as an in-universe phenomenon.

However, in conceptualizations a human mind entertains and their representations in natural language certain assumptions on properties of the universe are pervasive (for the sake of argument, consider events as observable changes in some discrete properties of the universe; eg. the change of a continuously accelerating car's speed from 'slow' to 'fast'):

  • Time is unidirectional:
    You cannot go back in time. The past cannot become present again.
  • Events are temporal:
    They are tied to specific points in time. That does not mean that anyone would be capable to pinpoint this moment, just that there is a moment at which the event takes place.
  • Cause and effect:
    Events do not 'just happen'. They can be traced back to a set or prior states and events tied to an earlier point in time. These prior events or state may be sufficient or necessary preconditions for the event under consideration. Note that this still allows for non-determinism.

The claim is not that these were actual properties of the universe. The claim is that the default mode of thinking and the analysis of language ( which encompasses the connotations of vocabulary items and idioms ) build on these premises. It is of course possible to think around these constraints, even using natural language. However it is not straightforward to do so, especially not without the help of strict formalisms.

Moreover, cause and effect, and to a lesser extent the temporal ordering of events underlying the concept of reasoning.

Another facet needs to be considered as well: All discussions about the universe are actually discussions of a particular model of the universe (as an aside, this includes religion). Such models are necessarily abstractions so the properties of the universe model and the 'real' universe will diverge at some point.

Your analysis appears to hinge on some of the tacit assumptions outlined above and disregard some of the constraints:

Something started everything.

Not necessarily. 'Start' implies the existence of time - however, (space)time might just have come into existence with 'everything'. That something might have come into existence without a cause, ie. an extra-universe state from which the coming-into-existence of the universe would follow.

That something may be external or it may be the universe itself

This conceptualization seems to be self-contradictory: If the universe starts itself, it has to exist. So it cannot start itself, because it is already there.

If time is circular, then the last moment of the universe starts the first moment of the universe, and in such an event, the universe creates itself.

This conceptualization seems to be self-contradictory as well: If time is circular, there is no 'first' or 'last' moment. Conceding that 'first'/'last' may be used as technical terms to denote the termination/re-initiation of the universe, it still does not follow from 'circular time' that the universe 'created itself' (ie. it could still be the effect of something extra-universe). Moreover, if the universe exists in a perennial cycle, it would not come into existence at the 'first'/'last' moment in time but would exists in eternity. Contrary, if consecutive incarnations of the universe were distinguishable, the universe would not create itself but one universe would create its successor (and the caveat that the next realization is an effect of something external to the predecessor universe still holds).

Answers

ad 1.
The concept of superposition of states is a descriptive means to illustrate a 'something' that only becomes definite in the moment of observation, where the actual state observed depends on the modes of observation. Any 'Prime mover' would be something external to the universe. As 'observable' (in particular 'observable' as used in describing experimental observation in quantum physics) is tied to this universe, the concept of superposition would not apply here.

One may argue that 'observable' need not be tied to this universe; however, if it was possible to 'observe' something external to the universe, the fundamental question follows suit what the meaning of 'universe' should be then.

One might also argue that the superposition could be applied as an abstract notion to the problem detached from its conventional meaning. However, this mandates a precise redefinition of what 'reasoning' should mean here, ie. which logic formalism should be applied (as classical logic cannot handle this kind of 'superposition', tertium non datur). If successful, this leads to the question why the selected logic should be an appropriate model to frame the question of God.

ad 2.
Afaik, consciousness is a concept inextricably tied to individuality. It is questionable for that reason alone to apply the concept of consciousness to some Prime Mover. as a simile, you would not apply the dichotomy of square/non-square to a 3D object as the domain of the dichotomy is 2D (to be precise: if you'd apply the dichotomy to 3D objects, none of them would be square, which makes it a [non-discriminating] tautology)

ad 3.
Probability is a well-defined mathematical structure rooted in certain set-theoretic modelling. It is not an innate property of some real-world situation or a model describing this situation. You need to flesh out the latter model in order to make it probabilistic. If your model are n possible answers to a question and you have no further information on the problem, any assignment of n non-negative numbers summing up to 1 to the possible answers is a possible probabilistic model, and mathematically they are all on the same footing; as you have no additional information, they are all equally 'appropriate', regardless of how you define that term.

A thought experiment may illustrate this. Assume you observe somebody throwing a dice. Your question is 'What number will show ?', the possible outcomes are the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6. You have no further information, so a suggestive model might be to assign the probability 1/6 to each of these outcomes. You briefly consider a model that assigns probability 1 to the outcome '1' and 0 to all the others. As based on your knowledge, none of the outcomes materially differs from any other apart from the attached label, you dismiss this model as implausible. Instead you assign equal probabilities. Based on your insight, this is a 'good', actually the 'best' model.

However, let's assume that unware to you, the dice is unfair: its mass distribution is skewed and the center of mass is located just below the surface opposite to that labelled '1'. The person throwing the dice is aware of that and has developed a technique to throw the dice in a way unsuspicious to any observer. Advanced physics modelling would reveal that it is actually impossible for the dice to roll any other number but '1'.

Your chosen probabilistic model would be very 'poor' in the sense that it is fairly unfit in predicting which numbers will appear at which frequency. In fact the model you considered and dismissed would have been a perfect fit for the purpose. However, you were lacking the information to see that.

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  • "(...) and mathematically they are all on the same footing; as you have no additional information, they are all equally 'appropriate', regardless of how you define that term." Could you elaborate on this? With no information, the default is a uniform dispersion of probability on every alternative, because no info suggests discrimination should be done. How is it then logical to heterogenously assign the probabilities?
    – A. Kvåle
    Jul 14 at 16:58
  • @A.Kvåle [1/2] You are correct if we are talking about seting up your belief system - as you have zero information beyond the alternative outcomes (i will revisit that aspect later on), there is no reason for you to believe any given outcome to be more likely than any other, and that's what you express by positing a uniform distribution. However, you are writing about 'the probability of any given answer being correct' - you do not refer to your belief system but to the abstract structure underlying the actual outcome.
    – collapsar
    Jul 14 at 22:19
  • @A.Kvåle [2/2] In particular, the correctness of a given answer does not depend on your belief system. If you had total information, ie. full insight into the underlying structure, and that structure were deterministic, a specific outcome would be guaranteed and the correctness probability distribution would be degenerate. Between total and zero information there is a continuum of information structure, and each point might another probability distribution for the answers. Again, this distribution would not necessarily coincide with the distribution of your belief system.
    – collapsar
    Jul 14 at 22:19
  • [1/2] What you're saying is obvious, and touched on in my post. Is probability not based on one's knowledge reference? The knowledge reference in this case is the number of alternatives, and since no more knowledge is given, logic dictates that the probability is 1/n, uniformly spread. Of course this probability is not necessarily the same as the true probability (if reality is deterministic, any probability not 1 is necessarily not the true probability).
    – A. Kvåle
    Jul 17 at 17:34
  • [2/2] But that's kind of the point about probabilities, they're not necessarily right. They exist because of incomplete info and/or indeterminism. In this case, we know that we have incomplete info, but that doesn't make the probabilities wrong. The probabilities are derived from the incomplete info. All I'm asking is if I derived these probabilities using valid logic. I'm not asking whether there is a God or not, or in the case of an indeterminite answer, what the "true" probabilities are. I'm asking, "given the info, are these probabilities correct"? I don't see how they're not.
    – A. Kvåle
    Jul 17 at 17:37

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