Damascene Cosmology – On the Impossibility of an Infinite Regress

An infinite regress is impossible

Since the “if/then” is contingent upon an infinite regress being impossible, we must look to see if an infinite regress actually is impossible. Those who argue for an infinite regress usually make the followings points:

1)   It is not impossible to think of something that is infinite regressive. If we imagine a man is stacking books in a library and he’s stacking books on an infinite number of shelves, then it’s not impossible for us to imagine he’s been doing this for eternity.

2)   It’s not impossible to imagine something existing for eternity and impacting other things. If we think of an atom that has existed for eternity, we can imagine it wandering around space, moving and containing energy, without ever have being created.

If we take such views prima facie then an infinite regress does indeed seem possible. However, I would contend that such analogies misconstrue the issue of an infinite regress and do not align with reality. That is to say, while it is possible to imagine an infinite regress (and in fact mathematically we can use infinity in equations), there cannot be an actual infinite regress when applied to reality, especially in light of modern science.

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What’s Wrong With the World – Sex and the City Syndrome

Related Book: Whatever Happened to the Human Race? by Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Coop.

In exploring what is wrong with the modern world, one problem sticks out that is quite prevalent; cultural materialism. Cultural materialism is distinct from philosophical materialism (that matter is all there is and there is no supernatural) in that cultural materialism is simply, “material progress at any cost.” It’s an obsession with all things fashionable, all things popular, and with people who live exorbitant lifestyles.  We can call this “Sex and the City Syndrome.”[1] I choose to use that term for a few reasons:

1)   It’s humorous, so it’s easy to remember

2)   Sex and the City is a show about women being rich, buying expensive items, and attempting to change modern morals (i.e. they try and show that it’s okay for women to sleep around and it’s okay for men to sleep around)

3)   Sex and the City gained a huge popular following and the first movie did well, even though the series has absolutely no redeeming value (i.e. it says nothing about the deeper things of life and how we should deal with them

The show/movie exemplifies what it is to be a cultural materialist. In a materialistic culture, progression at any cost is seen as good. In fact, progression is valued as a virtue while tradition or anti-progression is viewed as a vice. To tell someone, “You’re living in the past” or “You’re using a 2,000 year-old book” is viewed as an adequate negation of a person’s beliefs. If we can show someone that his beliefs are old, we automatically think that we’ve somehow proven that our path is the correct one.

When we buy into cultural materialism, we evaluate our worth by what we have and not by who we are. In fact, we often view who we are by what we can do and what we have. This means that whoever has the most recent toys wins. In fact, there was a popular “No Fear” brand t-shirt in the late 90’s that said, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” While catchy, it completely ignored the fact that he who dies still dies. The reality is, in death all men are truly equal. You could have over one billion dollars and die in a plush bed and have a golden casket or you could die in the streets, penniless, and simply get thrown into an unmarked grave, but one constant remains; you’re still dead. Thus, “he who dies with the most toys wins” is an asinine idea.

The above shows  what cultural materialism is and why it poses a threat to a stable society – it creates an unthinking, immoral, shallow society. Such a society cannot sustain itself.

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The Cosmological Argument of St. John of Damascus

St. John of Damascus

For those unfamiliar with philosophical terms, “cosmological”  simply means “an explanation of the beginning.” So to say something is a “cosmological argument” merely means, “It’s an argument about why everything exists.”

I have been reading bits and pieces of St. John of Damascus’ book The Orthodox Faith. I’m currently re-working my way through Peter Kreeft’s Socratic Logic mostly so I can read the first part of St. John’s book Fountain of Knowledge (I’m rusty on my terms). In reading over the third chapter of The Orthodox Faith, St. John presents a solid cosmological argument:

All things, that exist, are either created or uncreated. If, then, things are created, it follows that they are also wholly mutable. For things, whose existence originated in change, must also be subject to change, whether it be that they perish or that they become other than they are by act of will. But if things are uncreated they must in all consistency be also wholly immutable. For things which are opposed in the nature of their existence must also be opposed in the mode of their existence, that is to say, must have opposite properties: who, then, will refuse to grant that all existing things, not only such as come within the province of the senses, but even the very angels, are subject to change and transformation and movement of various kinds? For the things appertaining to the rational world, I mean angels and spirits and demons, are subject to changes of will, whether it is a progression or a retrogression in goodness, whether a struggle or a surrender; while the others suffer changes of generation and destruction, of increase and decrease, of quality and of movement in space. Things then that are mutable are also whollycreated. But things that are created must be the work of some maker, and the maker cannot have been created. For if he had been created, he also must surely have been created by some one, and so on till we arrive at something uncreated. TheCreator, then, being uncreated, is also wholly immutable. And what could this be other than Deity?

St. John had a classical education, so he puts the argument in the form of a syllogism. If we were to break that syllogism down it would read something like this:

(1) All things are either created or uncreated
(1a) If they are created then they are changeable
(1b) If they are uncreated then they are unchangeable
(2) All beings that fall within our experience are changeable
(3) All of these things have therefore been created and require a creator
(4) The creator, by logical necessity, would have to be uncreated and therefore unchangeable (we can’t have an infinite regression of “p created q who created r, ad infinitum“).
(5) By definition, such a creator would be called God

Logically, this is a solid argument. The premises follow one another and therefore provide a proper conclusion. If something is changeable, then it is created and requires a creator. If something is unchangeable, then it is not created and therefore does not require a creator.

Though the argument is valid, the question then becomes if the premises and conclusion are true. In a valid argument, the conclusion logically follows the premises, thus if the premises are true and the argument is valid, then the conclusion is also true.

So let us look at the premises:

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The Superiority of the Judeo-Christian Worldview

Let me say upfront that I understand this article it not a proof for Christianity. Rather, I am explaining that if one cares for the weak in society, then one must adopt the Judeo-Christian worldview. Likewise, if one is a naturalist, one must not care for the weak or, at the very least, admit that one is contradicting one’s naturalism in caring for the weak.

Within Western culture a great divide has grown between the metaphysical views of materialism and supernaturalism and such a divide has slowly impacted how Western society treats its weak.[1] The vast majority of lawmakers in Western culture, regardless of religious claims, operate under a materialistic worldview. Such a worldview lacks a proper justification for absolute morality and in many cases justifies the extermination of the weak. The Judeo-Christian worldview alternatively, provides the best justification for an absolute morality that protects the weak. The Judeo-Christian worldview best fits with what humans know a priori to be right, namely that a society should take care of its weak rather than bring them harm.

The Naturalistic Metaphysic

The naturalistic metaphysic is, without question, the predominant metaphysical view of most of Western academia and government officials. In Europe, the naturalistic metaphysic is slowly becoming the metaphysical view for the majority of the populace. America stands out as a lone exception in the Western world in terms of the metaphysical view of the populace; however, even America’s academia and government leaders tend to, at the very least, function under a naturalistic worldview. With it being the predominant metaphysical view for Western leaders, it is vitally important to understand what naturalism entails.

Naturalism, or materialism, teaches that the entire world can be explained purely in natural terms. Whereas the ancients would often implore some supernatural explanation for a physical cause, the naturalist views the universe as a closed system, one where only natural explanations can be used. The metaphysical view of naturalism begot the epistemological teaching of empiricism, that is, all that can be known absolutely must be physically verified. If something cannot be physically verified, then that something is non-absolute or non-existent. Thus, the naturalist creates his own self-fulfilling epistemology so that not only does he begin with the presupposition that the physical world is all that is there, but then stacks the odds by saying one can only prove one’s case under the arbitrary guidelines of empiricism.

In explaining the origins of the universe, a naturalist must advocate that the universe, in some form or the other, has always existed. As David Mills writes,

“…the universe, in one form or another, in one density or another, always existed. There was never a time when the mass-energy comprising our universe did not exist, if only in the form of an empty oscillating vacuum or an infinitely dense theoretical point called a singularity, consisting of no volume whatsoever.”[2]

According to Mills and other materialists, the universe and all within has always existed, but just not in its current form. Explicit in such a teaching is that the foundations for life were entirely impersonal, meaning that any sense of personality is truly an illusion. Under materialism, the “personable-ness” of a creature is irrelevant and ultimately an elusive mystery as empiricism has yet to explain the immaterial nature of personhood. After all, empiricism has failed to explain emotions, rationality, transfer of knowledge, and other immaterial acts. All of these are considered vital to being a person, but under empiricism, such acts are, at best, illusionary. Naturalism is left without an explanation for what makes humans human.

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