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Reality Rules DESTROYS Aquinas (NOT! )

WhereDoWeBegin
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3/5/2019 6:11:12 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
A few days ago atheist Youtube Rationality Rules posted a video in which he claims to debunk Aquinas' Unmoved Mover Argument.

The video is here: https://youtu. Be/KAHJM9TcoYg

Here"s my response:

Rationality Rules misunderstands Aristotle at several points, And so his criticisms fail.

BLACK SWAN FALLACY

At 9:45 RR argues that Aquinas commits a Black Swan Fallacy. The argument, As RR frames it, Is that it would be fallacious to extrapolate from our limited knowledge of the universe to some generalized principle.

There are two issues with this argument, One specific to Aquinas, One more general.

The more general issue with RR's argument is this: while the Black Swan Fallacy is one of a family of inductive fallacies to which inductive arguments can fall prey, There's nothing wrong with inductive reasoning, _per se. _ Indeed, All of modern science is inductive. But RR fails to distinguish between valid and fallacious inductive reasoning, And this gets him in trouble when at 13:58 he directly contradicts his claim here.

RR (9:45): "We can't honestly assert that _everything_ adheres to the principle of causation. " The specific issue is that neither Aquinas nor Feser makes any such assertion, Nor is such an assertion necessary to the argument. It is enough to assert that change exists. Viz. , _Summa theologiae, _ Part 1 Q. 2 Art. 3:

"The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, And evident to our senses, That in the world some things are in motion. "

Likewise, At 5:00, Edward Feser argues only that, "The Aristotelian argument begins with the fact that change occurs. " Since the Unmoved Mover argument requires only that there be change, There is simply no need to induce any general pattern: as long as _at least some_ things undergo change, The argument goes through.

Since Aquinas' argument is _deductive, _ beginning only with the fact of change (which RR himself accepts) then it cannot commit an inductive fallacy.

FALSE PREMISE

11:46 RR proposes a steel rod analogy to demonstrate that "objects _can_ change or actualize themselves. "

But this is a careless reading of Aquinas. Note the passage RR reads at 11:00: "it is therefore impossible that _in the same respect and in the same way_ a thing should be both mover and moved. " Because RR's steel rod is not simultaneously both hot and cold _in the same respect and in the same way_ his analogy therefore fails to falsify the premise.

Put another way, Note that in his analogy RR makes reference to the two ends of the rod, With one end heating up the other. RR is, In effect, Equivocating on what his "object" is. For the analogy to work he _needs_ there to be but a single object, But in describing the analogy, He is forced to speak as though the rod were itself a composite of parts, And therein lies RR's problem: does he have one object (the rod) or two (the ends)? It is in this equivocation that RR's analogy fails.

DOESN'T SUPPORT THEISM

15:18 "That's literally all it would prove. " RR is arguing that because the argument only gets to an unactualized actualizer, Not so far as a 600-year-old yacht-building man, It therefore doesn't support theism.

First, It seems strange to criticize an argument for doing only so much as it claims to do. Arguing that it doesn't also wash the dishes and walk the dog is simply a red herring.

As to "supporting theism", It depends, I suppose, On what one means by "support" and "theism". Proving the existence of a Primem Movens would certainly seem to go a long way down the road toward full theism, Even if, By itself, It doesn't get you all the way to the Christian God.

But if Aquinas' First Way _doesn't_ support theism, Then why do so many atheists dedicate so much energy to trying to refute it? Seems RR could have simply skipped the rest of his video and started here: "Who cares if it's true? It doesn't support theism. The End! "

SPECIAL PLEADING

At 10:16 RR commits a strawman fallacy: "They insist that their God had the potential to create the universe, That it then actually created the universe. "

But nowhere does Aquinas ever use such language of God. RR has misunderstood the Aristotelian categories of act and potency. Potency inheres the object to be actualized, Not the actualizer. It is not that air has the potential to make Feser's water warm (see 5:05), But that the water itself has the potential to be warm.

Thus Aquinas would never say, "God had the potential to create the universe, " but rather that God actualizes the universe's potential for existence. Thus the Purely Actual Actualizer actualizes without being actualized, And no special pleading is made.

Further, A special pleading fallacy claims an exception _without attempting to justify_ it. But the assertion of an Unmoved Mover, Far from being an unjustified assertion, Is in fact the _conclusion_ of Aquinas' argument. Thus the entire argument just _is_ the justification for the assertion.

APPEAL TO EMOTION

Sorry, But this is petty. Shapiro is speaking extemporaneously here, And is imprecise in his words. By "want" he clearly intends what is necessary to avoid the logical absurdity of an infinite regress, Not what satisfies emotionally.

OTHER

At 11:22 RR claims that Aquinas's third premise is not necessary to the argument and is not included by Feser, But RR is simply wrong on both counts. It _is_ necessary to the argument: if an object could self-actualize, There would be no need for an external actualizer and hence the entire argument would fall apart. And Feser does include it as premise 4 (see 6:20) in his rendition.

At 13:25 RR claims the argument for a First Mover is "primarily based on outdated Aristotelian physics. " But it's not based on any physics at all. It"s based on _metaphysical_ analysis of motion, Actuality and potentiality. Feser spends several pages in his book discussing this.

14:09: Others have already pointed out that RR's gear example simply begs the question: if none of the gears in the circle has the independent power to turn itself, Whence comes the motion? No sense can be made of an infinite chain of instrumental causes, Whether it be linear or circular.
- WhereDoWeBegin: shining the bright light of truth into the eyes of those who refuse to see it.
Harikrish
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3/5/2019 5:05:34 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
WhereDoWeBegin wrote:
A few days ago atheist Youtube Rationality Rules posted a video in which he claims to debunk Aquinas' Unmoved Mover Argument.

The video is here: https://youtu. Be/KAHJM9TcoYg

Here"s my response:

Rationality Rules misunderstands Aristotle at several points, And so his criticisms fail.

BLACK SWAN FALLACY

At 9:45 RR argues that Aquinas commits a Black Swan Fallacy. The argument, As RR frames it, Is that it would be fallacious to extrapolate from our limited knowledge of the universe to some generalized principle.

There are two issues with this argument, One specific to Aquinas, One more general.

The more general issue with RR's argument is this: while the Black Swan Fallacy is one of a family of inductive fallacies to which inductive arguments can fall prey, There's nothing wrong with inductive reasoning, _per se. _ Indeed, All of modern science is inductive. But RR fails to distinguish between valid and fallacious inductive reasoning, And this gets him in trouble when at 13:58 he directly contradicts his claim here.

RR (9:45): "We can't honestly assert that _everything_ adheres to the principle of causation. " The specific issue is that neither Aquinas nor Feser makes any such assertion, Nor is such an assertion necessary to the argument. It is enough to assert that change exists. Viz. , _Summa theologiae, _ Part 1 Q. 2 Art. 3:

"The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, And evident to our senses, That in the world some things are in motion. "

Likewise, At 5:00, Edward Feser argues only that, "The Aristotelian argument begins with the fact that change occurs. " Since the Unmoved Mover argument requires only that there be change, There is simply no need to induce any general pattern: as long as _at least some_ things undergo change, The argument goes through.

Since Aquinas' argument is _deductive, _ beginning only with the fact of change (which RR himself accepts) then it cannot commit an inductive fallacy.

FALSE PREMISE

11:46 RR proposes a steel rod analogy to demonstrate that "objects _can_ change or actualize themselves. "

But this is a careless reading of Aquinas. Note the passage RR reads at 11:00: "it is therefore impossible that _in the same respect and in the same way_ a thing should be both mover and moved. " Because RR's steel rod is not simultaneously both hot and cold _in the same respect and in the same way_ his analogy therefore fails to falsify the premise.

Put another way, Note that in his analogy RR makes reference to the two ends of the rod, With one end heating up the other. RR is, In effect, Equivocating on what his "object" is. For the analogy to work he _needs_ there to be but a single object, But in describing the analogy, He is forced to speak as though the rod were itself a composite of parts, And therein lies RR's problem: does he have one object (the rod) or two (the ends)? It is in this equivocation that RR's analogy fails.

DOESN'T SUPPORT THEISM

15:18 "That's literally all it would prove. " RR is arguing that because the argument only gets to an unactualized actualizer, Not so far as a 600-year-old yacht-building man, It therefore doesn't support theism.

First, It seems strange to criticize an argument for doing only so much as it claims to do. Arguing that it doesn't also wash the dishes and walk the dog is simply a red herring.

As to "supporting theism", It depends, I suppose, On what one means by "support" and "theism". Proving the existence of a Primem Movens would certainly seem to go a long way down the road toward full theism, Even if, By itself, It doesn't get you all the way to the Christian God.

But if Aquinas' First Way _doesn't_ support theism, Then why do so many atheists dedicate so much energy to trying to refute it? Seems RR could have simply skipped the rest of his video and started here: "Who cares if it's true? It doesn't support theism. The End! "

SPECIAL PLEADING

At 10:16 RR commits a strawman fallacy: "They insist that their God had the potential to create the universe, That it then actually created the universe. "

But nowhere does Aquinas ever use such language of God. RR has misunderstood the Aristotelian categories of act and potency. Potency inheres the object to be actualized, Not the actualizer. It is not that air has the potential to make Feser's water warm (see 5:05), But that the water itself has the potential to be warm.

Thus Aquinas would never say, "God had the potential to create the universe, " but rather that God actualizes the universe's potential for existence. Thus the Purely Actual Actualizer actualizes without being actualized, And no special pleading is made.

Further, A special pleading fallacy claims an exception _without attempting to justify_ it. But the assertion of an Unmoved Mover, Far from being an unjustified assertion, Is in fact the _conclusion_ of Aquinas' argument. Thus the entire argument just _is_ the justification for the assertion.

APPEAL TO EMOTION

Sorry, But this is petty. Shapiro is speaking extemporaneously here, And is imprecise in his words. By "want" he clearly intends what is necessary to avoid the logical absurdity of an infinite regress, Not what satisfies emotionally.

OTHER

At 11:22 RR claims that Aquinas's third premise is not necessary to the argument and is not included by Feser, But RR is simply wrong on both counts. It _is_ necessary to the argument: if an object could self-actualize, There would be no need for an external actualizer and hence the entire argument would fall apart. And Feser does include it as premise 4 (see 6:20) in his rendition.

At 13:25 RR claims the argument for a First Mover is "primarily based on outdated Aristotelian physics. " But it's not based on any physics at all. It"s based on _metaphysical_ analysis of motion, Actuality and potentiality. Feser spends several pages in his book discussing this.

14:09: Others have already pointed out that RR's gear example simply begs the question: if none of the gears in the circle has the independent power to turn itself, Whence comes the motion? No sense can be made of an infinite chain of instrumental causes, Whether it be linear or circular.

You are taking your argument to the chicken or egg stage when over 2 billion Christians have accepted God's existence and Jesus the manifestation of God in the flesh. Another 1. 6 billion Muslims have accepted the God of Abraham as their God.
All the video argues is cause and effect. Behind every movement is a mover and so one.

Thomas Aquinas was a Roman Catholic. Did he forget it was the Romans who crucified Jesus the son of God/Christ/God? For him to try to prove causation when the crucifix should be his proof is to betray his own denial that Jesus is proof of God.

Why are Christians reducing God to a logical argument when the evidence of a omnipresent, Omniscient and omnipotent God should be so overwhelming and self evident?

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