Email sent to Principle Editor of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on December 14, 2016
Dear Dr. Zalta,
I'v been corresponding with Helen De Cruz about her proposed entry on science and religion. You should be particularly interested in my criticism of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry about the existence of God: Cosmological Argument
, which is in the first paragraph here: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The reason you should be interested is that my criticism of your article, I kid you not, is a legal matter in New York State.
What happened is that I offered to give a lesson/lecture on the "cosmological-argument" to the University Chaplain of Columbia University, which supervises about a dozen other campus clubs. Columbia University is committed to the principles of academic freedom. In my opinion, academic freedom is rooted in the drive human beings have to know and understand everything. Civil liberties, on the other hand, are rooted in our freedom of will.
The University Minister declined my offer, and I complained to the National Association of Scholars that Columbia U. is violating the academic freedom of its students and faculty. The President of the NAS said this is not true because the University Chaplain knows all about the "cosmological-argument" and does not need my help. My correspondence with the NAS is here:
You might think that this would be the end of the matter. However, it was not for two reasons: 1) The NAS misconstrued the content of what I was going to explain the students and faculty of Columbia. 2) The University Chaplain did not herself respond to my email. Instead, the General Counsel of Columbia U. sent me a letter threatening me with legal action if I contacted any students or faculty of Columbia about the arguments for God's existence. I filed an ethics complaint against the General Counsel on October 18, 2016, with the New York State Unified Court System.
My ideas about the arguments for God's existence are here: Why People Believe God Caused the Big Bang
Very truly yours,
David RoemerEmail received from Uri Nodelman on December 16, 2016Email sent to the Senior Editor of SEP on December 16, 2016
I'm delighted to get your email. I just got up to the fifth paragraph of the Historical Overview of the entry and thought it would be helpful to show you what I have written so far. My reference will be "The One and the Many" by Norris Clarke,SJ, who was my metaphysics teacher at Fordham. I have this volume in another apartment and won't be able to get it until next week. Cosmological Argument
Among these initial facts are that particular beings or events in the universe are causally dependent or contingent, that the universe (as the totality of contingent things) is contingent in that it could have been other than it is, that the Big Conjunctive Contingent Fact possibly has an explanation, or that the universe came into being. From these facts philosophers infer deductively, inductively, or abductively by inference to the best explanation that a first or sustaining cause, a necessary being, an unmoved mover, or a personal being (God) exists that caused and/or sustains the universe.
The important "initial fact" relevant to God's existence, that is not mentioned in the article, is that human beings have free will and the conscious knowledge of human beings as opposed to the sense knowledge of animals. The sense knowledge of animals is a scientific observation, but our knowledge of human free will and conscious knowledge arises from our ability to make ourselves the subject of our own knowledge.
On the one hand, the argument arises from human curiosity as to why there is something rather than nothing or than something else.
This question does not arise from "human curiosity." It comes from Martin Heidegger who did his work before Etienne Gilson and who was a Nazi sympathizer. The observation that leads to God's existence is that other human beings exist. This means human beings are finite beings. Human curiosity produces the questions: "What causes finite beings to exist?" "What is a human being."Historical Overview
Both theists and nontheists in the last part of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century generally have shown a healthy skepticism about the argument.
There are in fact two arguments for God's existence that are called the "cosmological argument." ( Reference: "One and the Many," by Norris Clarke, S.J.) What this article is discussing is the "first cause" argument by Thomas Aquinas or the argument from design. In my opinion, this argument does not deserve even "healthy skepticism" because it is patently absurd. It is succinctly refuted by saying, "What caused God?" and "Who Designed the Designer?" In the following article, I suggest a psychological theory explaining why people find the argument persuasive: Why People Believe God Caused the Big Bang
The other cosmological argument is the one that makes sense: Finite beings exist. Finite beings need a cause. Hence, and infinite being exists. The above article explains this in more detail. This argument comes from the metaphysics of Aquinas as brought out by Etienne Gilson in the 1920s.
Very truly yours,
David RoemerEmail sent to Senior Editor of SEP on December 22, 2016
I got my copy of W. Norris Clarke's book, The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics
. I'm looking through it to explain why your entry on the "cosmological-argument" is very misleading because it leaves out the rational argument for God's existence based on the metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas.
In the book, Clarke referred to his own article: "A curious Blind-Spot on the Anglo-American Tradition of Anti-Theistic Argument," Monist 54 (1970), p. 181 to 200. This article has been re-printed as you can see from Prof. Edward Feser's discussion of the blindspot afflicting the authors of the SEP entry: Clarke on the stock caricature of First Cause arguments
I'v also attached a lesson plan on God's existence that you might find helpful.
Very truly yours,
David RoemerEmail sent to Senior Editor of SEP on December 23, 2016
The first, advocated by Aquinas, is based on the impossibility of an essentially ordered infinite regress.
In Why People Believe God Caused the Big Bang
, I explain why there can be a "infinite regress" of contingent beings. What I left out of this article is an explanation of why this question confuses people. Consider a finite regress of three contingent beings (A, B, and C):
A is caused by B and B is caused by C.
In the first place, what I mean by a contingent being is either a being that begins to exist at some point in time, a finite being, or a being that is a composition of two incomplete beings. This chain is clearly possible because an infinite being (non-contingent or self-sufficient) may exist outside of the chain and give the entire chain its existence. This is true if there is 4 or 5 etc. contingent beings. According to the mathematical process called "induction," it is true if there is an "infinite number" of contingent beings:
A is caused by B, B is caused by C, C is caused by D, ....
In the order of research, B comes after A, C comes after B, etc. In the order of research, in other words, you never come to the beginning of the chain. However, the order of causality is entirely different: B comes before A, C comes before B, etc.
Another important point I left out of my essay is the meaning of the word "cause." There are three kinds of causality:
- Final cause has to do with human action. If you spend 20 minutes washing your car, the final cause is having a clean car.
- Metaphysical causality applies to a being that begins to exist at some point in time, or is a composition of two incomplete beings (substance and accidence for beings that change in time, form and matter for beings that are in a class of other beings, essence and existence for finite beings). In metaphysical causality, cause and effect occur simultaneously. If the cause preceded the effect in the order of time, there would be a cause not causing anything and an effect not being effected by anything.
- In physics, a causal system is one where the energy is constant. When you drop an object from the tower of Pisa, for example, it seems like the energy is increasing. However, in physics, there is another kind of energy that depends inversely on height. The total energy of the object is constant. That means physicists can calculate the final position of the object from the initial position. One might say, that the initial position causes the final position.
Very truly yours,
David Roemer Email sent to Senior Editor of SEP on December 25, 2016
All the religions of the world summon human beings to believe that perfect fulfillment comes to us after we die when we become united with a transcendent reality. The Near Eastern religions use the terms God, Heaven, and Hell, but the Chinese and Indian religions use a different terminology.
This means that everyone should know and understand the arguments for God's existence. Aristotle said there had to be a "prime mover," and Thomas Aquinas said there had to be a "first cause." Aquinas also gave us the argument from design, which was promoted by William Paley (18th century) and refuted by Richard Dawkins (20th century). With the discovery that the universe did indeed begin to exist as an infinitesimally small particle 13.7 billion years ago (Big Bang) and with our increased knowledge of genetics and epigenetics, many people consider these arguments persuasive and side with Paley against Dawkins. Another God-of-the-gaps argument (fine-tuning) is based on the inability of physicists to explain why the mass of an electron and the gravitational constant are exactly what they are. This causes some of the Dawkins folk to think there are an infinite number of universes and the Paley folk to think there is an "infinite being."
An idea closely related to the question of God's existence is the idea that human beings "have souls," which are given to us at conception and continue to exist after death. There is no evidence for this nonsense and it conflicts with the Christian doctrine of Original Sin and the Second Coming. Many people who think human beings "have souls" think the Big Bang is evidence of God's existence. In my opinion, the Big Bang is evidence that God does not exist because it is evidence that the universe is not intelligible.
There is a rational concept of the human soul. It is based on the observation that human beings have free will and the conscious knowledge of human beings as opposed to the sense knowledge of animals. That animals can see, hear, and solve problems is a scientific observation and part of evolutionary biology. Our knowledge of free will and conscious knowledge arises from our ability to make ourselves the subject of our own knowledge and is not part of evolutionary biology. In other words, human beings did not evolve from animals. What evolved from animals are homo sapiens, which are hypothetical creatures without free will and conscious knowledge.
Morality and civil law, however, concerns human beings. Slavery is wrong but it is okay to own animals and do with them whatever we want because we are indeed human beings. But this gives rise to a paradox. How can all humans be equal to one another and different from one another at the same time? According to metaphysics, a human being is a composition of body (matter) and soul (form). The soul is the principle that makes humans equal, and the body is the principle that makes humans different. The human soul is spiritual because we can comprehend free will and conscious knowledge, but we can't define these terms.
This is the kind of reasoning that provides a rational argument for God's existence. The decision we have to make, however, is not whether or not God exists, but whether or not He cares about our welfare and revealed to us that our past will somehow be gathered up when we die and become the defining point of our lives. One of the reasons to believe this is that people who don't refuse to admit that human beings did not evolve from animals.
Very truly yours,
David Roemer Email sent to Senior Editor on December 31, 2016
I'v been reaching out to philosophers about your query, and have gotten some responses you might look at. This is an article about the cosmological argument by a philosophy professor from Fordham:Aquinas' Real Distinction and Its Role in a Causal Proof of God's Existence
I posted a critical comment about this article because, like the SEP entry, it does not explain the cosmological argument in a way a non-philosopher would understand. What follows is a quote from the article and my comment.
But, in fact, this argument is only a part of a larger argumentation, which as a whole intends to prove the real distinction of essence and existence in creatures and the identity thereof in God.
All of the religions in the world tell us that we pay for our sins after we die. This means everyone should know and understand the arguments for God's existence.
Metaphysics and science are two separate methods of inquiry that stand beside each other as equals. According to metaphysics, human beings exist and a human being is a composition of two principles: essence
. It follows logically from this that there exists a pure act of existence
without a limiting essence
, which the Near Eastern religions call God
Philosophy is a method of inquiry above another method. The question of the best way to do science is a philosophical question. Asking whether or not a human is really a composition of essence and existence is a philosophical question. It is worse than discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy recently asked me to document my criticism of their entry on the "cosmological argument." I asked a prominent Catholic scholar for help, and was rebuffed. What follows is excerpts from my email to him:
Dear Fr. Clooney,
I am trying to understand how a Jesuit priest can say he is not "an expert on the cosmological argument." The Catholic Church teaches that we know God exists from reason. What would you say to a college student who asked you how we know God exists?
My guess is that you would be very troubled by such a question. If you use the scientific argument (What caused the Big Bang?), the student might be intelligent and knowledgable enough to realize this is an absurd argument. If you give the cosmological argument (What causes finite beings?), the student may not understand the argument.
The other possibility is that the Catholic Church in the United States is promoting the scientific argument and you don't want to antagonize your colleagues.
There is another possible explanation I have for your comment. The cosmological argument is just an argument, not a proof. You can refute the argument by saying it is not persuasive, has no content, and is contradictory. You don't know how to respond to this refutation.
The scientific argument, on the other hand, is not even an argument because it is so absurd. It can be totally squashed by saying the argument is an exercise in circular reasoning. You DO know how to respond to this refutation. What you would say is, "You have a materialistic world view."
I have another explanation for your comment. An honest person would have to admit that you cannot prove God exists. But you can prove that human beings are embodied spirits and that human beings did not evolve from animals. What this means is that anyone who denies this is a liar. Following the principle of not "throwing your pearls before swine," you should sever your relations with people who say human beings evolved from animals. You don't want to do this. You want to keep on good terms with atheists.
Evidence that Fr. Robert Spitzer is especially concerned about keeping good relations with atheists is that he is helping the American Journal of Physics cover up the mistake it made in publishing an article about evolution and the second law of thermodynamics. SeeAn Analogy Between Nazi Germany and the United StatesEmail sent to Senior Editor on December 31, 2016
I'v attached an email
I got from a prominent Catholic philosopher praising my fight against bad arguments for God's existence.
What follows is my review
of a book by Thomas McFadden, "Creation, Evolution, and Catholicism: A Discussion for Those Who Believe."
Pseudoscience is lying about science in order to promote your convictions about religion. The author's thesis is that atheistic pseudoscience is the cause of the Catholics losing their faith. My thesis is the reason the Catholic Church in America is in decline is that Catholics apologists engage in worse pseudoscience than atheists and do not know how to refute atheistic pseudoscience. Another possibility is that Catholic apologists do not want to refute atheistic pseudoscience because they want to maintain good relations with atheists.
The author quotes a like-minded author as follows:
The Marist Brothers who taught me at that time would tell their students that Catholics are free to believe that evolution took place, as long as they understood it to be a process begun by God, and one in which human beings were created when God infused a soul into the evolving creature that became man. This was the same understanding taught to me by Jesuit priests at Fordham in the 1960s.(location 631)
To explain my thesis, I will use this quote from an atheist:
Catholics could believe whatever science determined about the evolution of the human body, so long as they accepted that, at some time of his choosing, God had infused the soul into such a creature. I also knew that I had no problem with this statement, for whatever my private beliefs about souls, science cannot touch such a subject and therefore cannot be threatened by any theological position on such a legitimately and intrinsically religious issue. (Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, March 1997 13th paragraph)
McFadden's thesis, if I understand him correctly, is that the Marist/Jesuit point of view is "theistic evolution," which supports belief in evolution rather than belief in the Bible. Hence, the Marist/Jesuit statement supports the atheistic pseudoscience of Gould, and thereby causing educated Catholics to lose their faith.
My thesis is that the Marist/Jesuit quote is more absurd than the Gould quote. Rational people, not knowing any better, will side with Gould.
According to the Catholic Church, human beings inherit the stain of original sin from their parents through sexual generation. The idea that God infuses a soul into an embryo is nonsense. The doctrine of purgatory for the soul that remains after the body dies is just theological speculation. Catholics believe in "life everlasting" and the Second Coming. In other words, the idea that human beings "have souls" is heretical nonsense. It is pseudoscience, if you speak of the "evolution of the body." Gould is quite right to dismiss the Marist/Jesuit concept of the soul in a respectful manner.
Knowing better, I side with the Marist/Jesuit because Gould is a liar. His lie is to say that human beings evolved from animals. The truth is that homo sapiens sapiens evolved from animals, not human beings. A human being has free will and the conscious knowledge of human beings, not the sense knowledge of animals. We know that animals can see, hear, and solve easy problems because we see and hear animals doing this. We don't know how we know we have free will, conscious knowledge, and can create images and other mental beings. This is why human beings are equal to one another and superior to animals. This is why slavery is wrong, but is it okay to own animals and use them for food. A homo sapiens sapiens is a hypothetical creature discussed in biology textbooks. Gould and his like would never admit this. McFadden and his like would never call Gould a liar.
Very truly yours,
David RoemerEmail sent to Senior Editor on January 7, 2016
I thought of a way of explaining the problem with your entry on the cosmological argument: Argument #1
: Homo sapiens sapiens evolved from animals, but human beings did not because a human being has free will and the conscious knowledge of animals as opposed to the sense knowledge of animals. This raises the non-scientific (metaphysical) question: What causes human beings to exist? Assuming or hoping the universe is intelligible means that God exists. Argument #2
: The universe began to exist 13.7 billion years ago as a tiny particle (Big Bang). This raises the scientific (non-metaphysical) question: What caused the Big Bang? Assuming or hoping the universe is intelligible means that God exists.
It should be obvious that argument #2 is an exercise in circular reasoning and has no content. Argument # 1, however, is not an exercise in circular reasoning and has content. The content is that there exists two kinds of beings: God and human beings. The SEP entry only discusses argument #2, not argument #1.Email sent to Senior Editor on January 8, 2017
I'm reading three recently published books on the arguments for God's existence written by Catholic scholars. I found this quote in "Theology Needs Philosophy: Acting Against Reason Is Contrary to the Nature of God," edited by Matthew L. Lamb:
In the above I have not mentioned other readers of Aquinas in our time, such as A. Kenny, P. Geach, N. Kretzmann, and so forth, none of whom were able to cope with Aquinas's doctrine of God as Ipsum esse subsistens. (Theology and the Metaphysics of Creation, Chapter 3, Lawrence Dewan, O.P.)
As I said in the my letter of December 31, 2016, Aquinas's concept of God is that God is a pure act of existence without a limiting essence. Kenny, et. al., are philosophizing about this concept of God not coping with it. What Kenny was coping with if he was coping at all was the possibility he would go to hell. My point is that there is no need to make a decision about God's existence. What we have to decide is whether or not God has communicated to us that there is life after death.Email sent to Senior Editor on January 8, 2016
In my letter of January 7, 2017, I refer to "Argument #1," which is based on an understanding of evolutionary biology. This argument can raise professional difficulties for academics because the science establishment in the U.S. is perpetrating three hoaxes about evolutionary biology with the goal, presumably, of making themselves feel better because they think, like Jean-Paul Sartre, "man is a useless passion." Hoax #1
The theory of evolution is that whales descended with modification from bacteria over a period of about 100 million decades. This theory is judged to be true by rational people and gives rise to the question of what the mechanism for evolution is.
The three mechanisms or theories I know about are natural selection(Pierre Louis Maupertuis), natural genetic engineering (James Shapiro), epigentics (Jean-Baptiste Lamarck). These mechanisms only explain the adaptation of species to the environment. They do not explain common descent, yet many laymen think they do:
They [Pinker and Bloom] particularly emphasized that language is incredibly complex, as Chomsky had been saying for decades. Indeed, it was the enormous complexity of language that made is hard to imagine not merely how it had evolved but that it had evolved at all…..But, continued Pinker and Bloom, complexity is not a problem for evolution. Consider the eye. The little organ is composed of many specialized parts, each delicately calibrated to perform its role in conjunction with the others. It includes the cornea,…Even Darwin said that it was hard to imagine how the eye could have evolved…….And yet, he explained, it did evolve, and the only possible way is through natural selection—the inestimable back-and-forth of random genetic mutation with small effects…Over the eons, those small changes accreted and eventually resulted in the eye as we know it. (Christine Kenneally, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, 2007, page 59)
Many people in the U.S. believe human beings evolved from animals. The scientific truth is that homo sapiens sapiens evolved from animals. Homo sapiens sapiens are hypothetical creatures without free will and the conscious knowledge of human beings. Homo sapiens sapiens have only the sense knowledge of animals. Hoax # 3
This scam got its start from pro-religion, not anti-religion, fanatics. (One might say hoax #1 got its start from advocates of intelligent design.) The initial scam is that biological evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics (law of entropy), according to which a gas fills up the entire container it is in. The evolution of stars does not violate the second law. Rather, the second law does not apply to the evolution of stars. What makes this an atheistic scam, actually a scandal, is that the American Journal of Physics
published an absurd article titled "Entropy and evolution." This article is not being retracted, I suppose, because of fear of this hypothetical exchange:
Religious fanatic: Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics.
American Journal of Physics: The laws of thermodynamics do not apply to biological systems.
Religious fanatic: Does not apply ...violates ...whatever.
There is another matter I want to warn you about. Biological evolution, because of its connection with the arguments for God's existence, causes conflict and anxiety. Anxiety inhibits people from behaving rationally. Jerry Coyne, a fanatical atheist, has a blog titled, "Why Evolution is True," and is a distinguished professor at the U. of Chicago. A college student wrote an article criticizing creationism. Coyne thought the 19-year-old was endorsing creationism and blasted him. I gave a short analysis of evolutionary biology, and Coyne called me a creationist. To his credit, he published my comments in full:NC State student admits that his antievolution diatribe was a satire but a real creationist appears
Very truly yours,
David RoemerEmail sent to Senior Editor on January 15, 2017
I posted all of my correspondence with the Attorney Ethics Committee about the "cosmological argument" here:
The SEP is also mentioned in my review of God at the Crossroads of Worldviews: Toward a Different Debate about the Existence of God
on Amazon.com:What is the Cosmological ArgumentEmail sent to Senior Editor on January 25, 2017
I'v attached a survey I sent to over 7000 academically oriented individuals which mentions the SEP entries on the arguments for God's existence. I got 220 responses. If you want to analyze and see the results, I can make you a member of my team at Survey Monkey.
I am in the middle of an interesting exchange with Graham Oppy who wrote a book about the arguments for God's existence that I refer to in my review of another book about God's existence that I told you about in my email of January 15, 2017.
The fourth question in the survey states,
Homo sapiens evolved from animals. But homo sapiens are not human beings because human beings have free will and conscious knowledge.
Professor Oppy said in an email to me,
I agree that homo sapiens evolved from animals. I disagree that homo sapiens are not human beings. Your survey is designed in a way that does not allow me to register my opinion.
This was my response:
Thank you for the clarification. The purpose of the survey was not to give people an opportunity to express their opinions. I consider it a scientific fact that homo sapiens are not human beings. If you admit to this, I am willing to discuss the metaphysical theory that human beings are homo sapiens. I believe I can prove that human beings are not homo sapiens if you accept an expanded definition of the word proof. Suppose, I tell you that I can prove England is an island and show you all the maps. You respond by saying it is only highly probable that England is an island. I can't tell you friends and family that you are ignorant, stupid, dishonest, or irrational. But suppose I offer to give you free tickets to England, and you say something about England not being an island. I can then tell everyone you are ignorant, etc. In other words, there is a sense in which I can prove England is an island.