• posted a message on Most competitive "burst" general(s)?
    For something to achieve that goal - kill one person and one person only, by combat - Xenagos is probably the best bet. And build like this, it will not be very good at winning. Also, it will be very inconsistent, as are all decks trying to win before Turn 6. But, ramping Xenagos into Berserk into some other doubler will get the job done.

    Also, Kalemne is really good against passive players. If you ramp hard enough, you might be able to access enough things like Brute Force in time.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Causality and God
    Quote from DJK3654 »
    If they described something as nothing, then my response will be predicated on my understanding of that word. If they meant something different to that understanding, that's not really my fault unless my understanding of nothing is somehow unreasonable (not that is necessarily theirs either).

    If a misunderstanding not being my fault made the misunderstanding true, well, I would not spend so much time on online message boards. I would be the best Wall Street trader ever, and I’d be taking over the world soon.

    Are we debating the merits of creationism, or are we just debating who is right and wrong about what so and so said?

    Quote from DJK3654 »
    It doesn't matter how you distinguish wholes and parts, any form of interaction is sufficient, any change observable from any point of reference, any point of difference. If you can draw a line between things, then something interactive is going on.
    If god created the universe from himself, then he didn't create it from nothing.

    I feel like we’re going to be stuck endlessly circling around definitions here. This statement at the end, once again, is predicated on your definition of “nothing”. There’s a difference between what you and I are each claiming that the ex nihilo apologists are saying preceded the Universe:

    You: “God”, then “nothing” as null set, empty set, etc
    Me: “God”, then “nothing” as that which doesn’t pertain to “God” (granted, very circular definition)

    What my previous post was intended to show is that my “nothing” is no less nothing than yours. That is because what constitutes “God” in this argument is not defined by any extrinsic properties. There is nothing that you can “take out of God” in order for “God” to “create the universe out of himself”. The character of something being “God” is not finite in such a way that you can add something or take out something in such a way that you don’t have “God” anymore.

    As in the “heap” example, no number of grains being added/subtracted causes something to cease to be a “heap”, except it does if you can express what constitutes a “heap” in finite terms. Craig in his Kalam argument used the example of guests going in and out of a Hotel (much more at length, much better read).

    Or, Highroller’s example of a human creating a baby is fine. You pointed out that a human baby is created out of a gamete. Your point holds because a gamete is a distinct, physical aspect of a human being. You can take away gametes from a human until what you have doesn’t meet the definition of “human” being used here (as that which can create a baby). A human being is finite, so any physically discrete thing will do disprove that, and that’s the point.

    Now the key here, imagine something named “God” with property “blank”, such that taking out no amount of “blank” will cause “God” to cease to be “God”. This “blank” is nothing. If it were the opposite of nothing, say "something", then taking out enough of it would alter the character of God. So, it's nothing. But this "causation" here is stating that in doing this act of “taking out” this "nothing", what you have is the Universe. If you sense a contradiction here, that’s because it's exactly what the Kalam argument is saying. That because everything we know of is finite and discreet, everything has to have a beginning, except necessarily one thing, “God”, that couldn’t possibly be finite and discreet, and which albeit very circularly, preceded all things that are finite and discrete, including his own attributes. There is nothing to distinguish from within "God" as that which God created the Universe, because there is nothing, by definition, to be distinguished about "God" to begin with.

    Any more clear?

    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on Causality and God
    Quote from DJK3654 »
    [quote from="Jusstice »" url="http://www.mtgsalvation.com/forums/community-forums/debate/religion/755344-causality-and-god?comment=63"]First of all, it's not really a strawman to argue a point based on what you think the definitions of thew words they used are. Yes, it may not be what they meant, but you are being true to what they said.

    Well, you are getting close to fallacy of intentionality here then. How is it that you know what they said? Well, you use your definitions for the words and make your own argument. Again, imperfection of language.

    I hardly think that all of the thinkers the argument is attributed to believed that they were wasting their time, because the bare dictionary definition of the word “nothing” was perfectly apt to describe what they were saying. The reason they went on for hundreds of pages each one is because it’s extremely difficult to define what preceded the Universe.

    Quote from DJK3654 »
    Secondly, if I remember correctly, Craig, to continue with this same example, does use nothing to mean no thing- I don't think god existed alongside anything else in his opinion, nor did god create the universe out of himself.

    Quote from DJK3654 »
    God existing does not mean nothing doesn't apply here, because the nothing refers to what god makes the universe out of- i.e. he doesn't make the universe out of anything. Causing something to exist ex nihilo is not dependent on whether nothing exists.

    Ok, the question is what God made the universe "out of”? If I’m understanding correctly, you’re saying something is necessary alongside God in order to be acted upon (affected element in your OP). Making that assertion does imply some sort of infinite regression. For something to be caused, two things are necessary - both a causal agent and an effected agent. So, effectively there could be no state with simply a causal agent, there have to always be two things.

    But, how do you differentiate between what these Theists are arguing constitutes God, and what this argument would have as God, plus this thing that is acted on to create the universe? Is there any meaningful distinction?

    See sorties paradox. It’s also called “paradox of the heap”, where what constitutes a “heap” of sand is said not to depend on one grain, so it’s possible to keep taking away grains until you have 0 and still have a “heap”. When an intrinsic property is said to depend on extrinsic things, the paradox results. If there’s anything to be concluded from it, it’s the idea that logical absurdities automatically result when finite models are used to prove something that is altogether not quantitative. This is a true issue that various mathematical models (logic models without intervals, multiple infinities, fuzzy logic, etc) have tried to solve, with little practical success.

    Point is, being “God”, a “causal agent”, or “affected element” is an intrinsic property. It does not depend on how much of something you have. It’s not clear how little is needed to be that thing, or how much is so much that it would stop being that thing. It’s transfinite. It has no point of reference. You can’t conclude that it’s not there, or that it is there, by measuring it against some reference.

    So as I pointed out before, it’s in the very definition of what’s being argued. These Theists, albeit very circularly, are defining as “God” whatever existed before the creation of the Universe (whether one thing, two things, or *smirk* a Trinity of things). Adding one element to the margin, this “affected element”, doesn’t do anything to change the character of that thing. It’s included in the definition.

    What’s being pointed out by arguments like the Kalam argument is that everything is finite, except the one thing that cannot possibly be due to infinite regression, and that thing is “God”. No other element or point of reference required.
    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on Causality and God
    Quote from DJK3654 »

    Yes, but the whole point of a definition is to attempt to describe the thing you are trying to describe. Yes, the definition you use isn't always what you mean, but that doesn't mean your argument is based on that definition. The other person cannot see inside your head to see what you mean. If you are using the wrong definition for what you mean, you change it, and if the other person is using the wrong definition (as with equivocation) you correct them on that. Definitions are the bridge between meaning and word. A discussion about any term is dependant on the definition of that term as to what the meaning is. There is no other pathway.

    Agreed entirely. Lots and lots of volume in dialectic debate is taken up deciding on just what is in the mind of the person putting forward the argument, and then redefining terms when an inconsistency is found. As in, everything written by Plato, ever.

    But, the original post started out along the lines of… “The Kalam Cosmological Argument/Creatio ex Nihilo is ‘logically incoherent’, because nothing is nothing, nihilo is nihilo.” If you advance your own argument, you can use your definition of nihilo/nothing. If someone else advances an argument, it uses their definition. But you are using your definition to repurpose someone else’s argument, refute that repurposed argument, then claim that the original argument is refuted. That is the literal definition of “Strawman fallacy”.

    (And yes, this might be the first time that the internet says that something is a Strawman, and it actually is.)

    Quote from DJK3654 »

    Definitions are arbitrary. There is no truly meaningful connection between any word and it's meaning other than that is the meaning. Significance is practical. If you don't accept the definition that just means the words change. The point stands on its own. If you don't accept "nothing' to mean, when used strictly, 'no thing', then I'll call it something else and nothing of much substance has changed. If you would like to argue that no significant number of people exist that premise 3 applies to because those who agree with the phrase don't use nothing to mean no thing, then fine, I'll say those people probably need to be more strict with their language so people can actually know what they mean if not the most straightfoward definition of nothing. If nothing does not mean no thing, what does it mean? What objective standard could we use to determine it?

    I think you’re on the right track here. There is endless, endless discussion on what actually existed before the creation of the Universe. Theists might call that “God”. Physics theorists might call it a “Quantum Singularity”. The premise that it is literally “no thing” or “empty set” is one argumentative position, but it’s not to be inferred by someone’s use of the word “nothing” or “nihilo”, particularly when they are stating directly in their argument what it is that created the Universe.

    Specifically, the Kalam Cosmological Argument that you brought up offers mountains of persuasive evidence on the idea of “finitism”, specifically that the Universe is finite. Things being finite, they must have a beginning, and therefore something must have existed prior to that beginning in order for it to be distinguished as a beginning. The fact of there being a beginning means that there was something before it. So, these Theists are not arguing on the idea of “nothing”, based on the dictionary definition. They are arguing that only supernatural things (e.g. God) could precede the Universe.

    Quote from DJK3654 »

    My argument isn't much of a proof, it's based on assumptions taken to be reasonable and practical that most people accept for those reasons. This is only about the sensibility of an idea, not the absolute truth of it.
    Also, the complexity of WLC's arguments say nothing of their validity or soundness. Note that WLC's argument has a central syllogism, as does mine. Neither represent the entirety of the argument.

    Well, I’m not saying that those arguments must be true because of how much was written on it. What I am saying is that WLC concedes plausibility to the opposing position, based on the fact that mathematical and logical models which are finite can’t prove the idea of “finitism”, since that would involve circular reasoning. And it’s because the argument is offered in persuasion that evidence from such a variety of different places is marshalled to support it.

    Maybe you are conceding the same point that this “nothing” has to be defined, but I’m not seeing that here. I’m hearing you say that something can’t be created from “nothing”, because of how you define nothing in the dictionary. That sounds like a proof. Even if you are arguing in persuasion, what you are essentially saying then is that because we have a word called “nothing”, and everyone can be made to mutually understand this “nothing”, we must refer to this “nothing” in arguing what preceded the Universe. That amounts to what you claim is reasonable, sensible, and practical here. The bare fact that we can all understand a word.

    So as I said above, it’s just not persuasive. You’re just arguing for the empiricism of words here, not ontology.
    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on Causality and God
    Quote from DJK3654 »

    Any argument is dependant on the definitions of the bloody words you are using. This is not a distinguishing feature of this argument, it is a feature of all arguments.

    Um, what? Maybe you want to rethink that?

    Logic definitely was not invented along with the invention of language by humankind. Rather, language was invented to describe logic, and other things like it. Words are signs of things, not the things themselves. And they are shown repeatedly to do a less than perfect job at it. Case in point, there are a host of informal logical fallacies that arise specifically because of the imperfection of language (Equivocation, Sorties fallacy, argument on etymology, intentionality fallacy, referential fallacy, etc)

    Point being, the ability of language to articulate a concept so that it is mutually understood by speaker and listener is no indication that this mutually understood thing actually exists. It’s not representative of reality, it’s just a concept expressed by a word. This character of “nothing” as it pertains to the origin of the universe might be of a different character than what is understood by the word.

    Quote from DJK3654 »

    This is a strict philosophical argument, so it is not inappropriate that I am using a strict philosophical definition of nothing. To go back to a point I made earlier, if virtual nothingness is considered true nothingness, that is working against the whole point of distinguishing creatio ex nihilo from creatio ex materia in the first place. There is a very important distinction to be made here with true nothing.

    So as here, I agree that your distinction of “true nothing” is important to the argument. That’s exactly what I’m saying. You’re setting forth that definition as being “the empty set”, proof by assertion. Then, you’re going on to prove/disprove a whole host of things about the actual universe based on the assertion.

    But, who gets to define “true nothing”? You can define it for your purposes, provided you confine the argument to your own definition. But if you’re extending it to things like the Kalam Ontological Argument, which you point out that others are making, then it’s going to be up to them to define this “true nothing”.

    In fact, William Lane Craig (who you cited) goes on for hundreds of pages about particle physics, mathematics, relativity, cosmic singularity theory, all in support of the premise that everything is finite. It’s with that understanding, not yours, that he defines this “true nothing” that you’re talking about as it relates to the Kalam argument. And even in the end, he makes the reservation that his claims are only in persuasion, not proof, and concedes plausibility to other claims. Simply stated, transfinite models can’t be used to prove all things are finite, since they implicitly rely on that being the case in order to make any logical sense.

    Consider that the side you're claiming to refute has offered all of that mountain of evidence only in persuasion of what’s being discussed, and all you’ve done is asserted your definition of terms. And you’re arguing in proof. Not persuasive.

    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on Causality and God
    Quote from DJK3654 »
    Nihilo is by definition an empty set, it is nothingness. That's what it means.

    Quote from DJK3654 »
    Nihilo means nothingness. That is all it means. Creatio ex nihilo means something coming into existence from nothing. These are uncontroversial definitions.

    Quote from DJK3654 »
    By my definition, at the very least, if something is capable of doing things, it is not nothing. Period. Because, again, nothing cannot have positive properties. Nothing has every negative property, that is what makes it nothing- it has no form of existence and cannot interact with other things in existence because it does not exist. Actions are things of existence, nothing is the exact opposite- it is nonexistence itself. How can a nonexistent thing influence existence? If something influences existence, it exists.

    Now, there is torturing words, and there is strapping words to a wooden table like Mel Gibson until they yell - “Freedom!”

    From what you’re saying, your entire argument is based on the dictionary definition of the word “nihilo”. The only reason you’re arguing that the Universe can’t be created from “nothing” is because of how you define “nothing”. That’s all. Even if we all bend our cognitive understanding to the limitations of the words in the English language, how can you believe that this is a persuasive indication of anything actually related to the origin of the Universe? I am sure that whatever happened there, the forces at play have more bearing on cosmic truth than the board of lexicologists at Mirriam-Webster’s.

    Also FYI, even the Wikipedia available version of the arguments you claim Theists are making don’t rely whatsoever on the character of this state of “nihilo”. Wikipedia – “Stating that the mathematical conventions stipulated to ensure the logical consistency of transfinite arithmetic have no ontological force, Craig believes that finitism is most plausibly true.”

    So, strawman? Tautology? Begging the question? Whatever this line of argument comes down to, it’s just not persuasive.

    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on Do You Believe in God?
    My religious belief is a lot like my political belief, neither side will claim me. I don’t think everything in the Universe has a natural cause, which puts me at odds with most non-Theists in any debate that actually happens. But also, I don’t believe in any of the highly particularized notions of God that define religious groups. If it's too specific to have a basis in evidence or argument, I'm not inclined to believe it.

    Also, I find it helpful to actually segregate the events that people attribute to “God”, since they’re distinct. And they also happen to give rise to this sort of Cartesian Doubt that forms my own beliefs. They are:

    1) Origin of Species/Intelligent Life – Darwinist. I don’t find any objection to the idea that man, and all life, evolved from single celled organisms, which happen to also have the ability to reproduce. I believe anything that self-perpetuates at one level of complexity can have the natural tendency of increasing complexity.

    2) Origin of Life – Unnatural Causation. I am on board with the natural genesis of amino acids, and things that resemble cells. However, I believe that is a far cry from something that is both at an unstable level of complexity (which all life is), and also finds itself naturally self-perpetuating at a rate that outpaces that instability. Every phenomena in the universe other than organic life on Earth suggests to me that those two conditions are mutually exclusive, entropically.

    3) Origin of the Universe – Unnatural Causation or No Causation. My unimaginative mind is better able to grasp the notion of no Earth than it is of no Universe, so the cosmologist in me is at a disadvantage. But I am also not inclined to find a Naturalistic explanation for something, based on nothing other than the mere prompting to disbelieve Supernatural things. I can sense an overwhelming bias in this drive shared by a lot of people to reach toward unfounded explanations, simply on the merit of them not involving any intelligence in the Universe other than man. Plausibility is a poor substitute for knowledge in my mind. Also, if I am to accept a theory based only on plausibility, I find myself constrained to extending that principle to theories on both sides of the Theism line.

    Where I instinctively depart from “Theists” is on the character of these unnatural/supernatural causes. A supernatural force doesn’t need to be omniscient, omnipotent, or even benevolent or immortal to deposit life on Earth, so it doesn’t follow that the creation of the Universe is attributable to the same force. I find myself somewhat of a reductionist here, that I’m hesitant to attribute things to the same supernatural cause. I’m even more hesitant to imagine for myself the character of that cause, especially if it only seems to suit some personal fancy of mine, or provides justification for people to act on base desires.
    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on Causality and God
    Quote from DJK3654 »
    Is there a difference between tautologically and logically incoherent?

    A tautology is the logical construction where you are simply saying the same thing twice - A, therefore A. It’s considered a fault in argumentative style, because you are not arriving at any new conclusions. That’s the difference.

    As here with Creatio ex nihilo, it depends on how you define “creatio” and “nihilo”. If you define “nihilo” as literally an empty set, then “creatio” is not within the set of “nihilo”. It’s an empty set. So, it will be true that no single thing is in it, no matter what that is, cause, effect, affected object, what have you. But that is only because you’ve defined “nihilo” as the empty set.

    The argument is nothing, therefore nothing. That’s a tautology.

    Quote from DJK3654 »
    Firstly, I'm only talking about causing something to exist ex nihilo, not acausal creatio ex nihilo. Not all scientific theories about origins are causal.

    So, “nihilo” excludes things that are “causal”, but could include things that are “acausal”?

    Again, it’s asserting the bare premise of your definition of “nihilo”, and it ends up being a tautology. If you define it as containing “acausal” things, or naturalistic things, then that is your definition. A Theist might say it includes some things that are “causal”, specifically God. But neither side is offering any support of that premise, only making the bare assertion.

    Quote from DJK3654 »
    I'm not sure what that even means, causality isn't a statement about reality.

    Causality becomes a statement about reality when you assert that all things have causes.

    Your definition, bolded for emphasis: “Causality refers to the interaction between an causal agent, an affected and an effect. In order for an effect to be produced, there must be a prior interaction involving something that is causally influenced.”

    The premise that all effects have causes is an assertion, and would need support.

    Quote from DJK3654 »
    Sure, so that's an alternate account of how god 'made' the world. That's very much a valid response for any theist to take, the important thing is that it seems many hold to the idea of causing it to exist ex nihilo.

    Well by the definition of “nihilo” you seem to be arguing, no Theist actually believes it. No person believes that there are any elements in an empty set, by definition.

    What these Theists seem to me to be actually saying is that this “nihilo” can be defined, albeit very circularly, as that which existed before all causes that are not “God”. So now with causal agents in existence that are not “God”, there is no more “nihilo”, and that event in time is/was creation.

    The problem with this line of discussion and others like it (the 747 gambit by Dawkins, etc) is that people think they are arguing Theism against “not-Theism”, or Theism against Science, or what have you. What’s actually being argued is the ontological premise of Theism versus Naturalism. Not-Theism is not its own argumentative position. It's just failure to hold the position of Theism. It doesn't lend itself for any platform of argument, whatsoever. You're just saying that you're not taking someone else's position.

    And so by asserting the premise of Naturalism in support of the conclusion of Naturalism, what you have is either the fallacy of begging the question, or a tautology as above. But Naturalism is actually an affirmative claim. You’re saying that everything has a cause, those things that are not Natural are “acausal”, or whatever you want to use. It’s one big exercise in question begging.
    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on U.S. Legal System: How is this just?
    Quote from Magicman657 »

    It's not always going to be like that, but if this is happening even just 10% of the time it's still a sickening miscarriage of justice brought on by a system that prioritizes convictions over determining guilt and doesn't respect a person's 6th amendment rights. I'd rather 10 guilty men walk free than see 1 innocent man go to jail.

    Well, I wouldn't characterize the role of the adversarial trial system either as getting convictions, or as determining guilt. Nothing short of omniscience would be able to determine guilt. The purpose of the 6th amendment has been held out by the Court as the right of someone to put their case through "the crucible of adversarial testing", not give people equal quality of legal defense. So, the role of the system was never to make people sleep better at night that all is right with the world. Rich people are still rich, and it still sucks to be poor.

    From the point the police detain a person, every mechanism of the US system is designed to do one thing - exonerate innocent people. The article said, criminologists best estimates of "false guilty" pleas are from 2-8%. These stats still show if they didn't do it, they are telling their lawyer.
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on U.S. Legal System: How is this just?
    Rather than circling back on the same points, let me just set up a scenario for the sake of argument. Let’s say that we have a defendant who stands accused of a felony narcotics charge, and some assortment of combined conspiracy charges, “aggravated” charges, and other types of charges one side is claiming give prosecutors too much leeway in recommending sentences. So for argument’s sake, 25 years worth of charges at trial, 2 years worth on a plea deal. Arguments aside that the prosecution may be letting off a serious criminal with 2 years, or that the defense may be feeling browbeaten into the deal and loathe to defend an innocent person because of workload, let’s just take that that that scenario in itself.

    And finally of course, let’s suppose that our defendant is, in fact, innocent. Of the two admittedly terrible alternatives below, what do you think an innocent defendant in the current US justice system is more likely to choose:

    1) Pleading to a 2 year sentence that financially ruins them, makes them unemployable, and ruins them for life.
    2) Pleading innocent, going to trial, and risking a 25 year sentence that ruins them for life.

    Is it crazy to assume that innocent defendants are more likely to plead innocent?

    Statistics from one of the articles linked above (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2014/11/20/why-innocent-people-plead-guilty/ ) shows that between 95% and 97% (depending on jurisdiction) of felony cases are resolved by plea deal. Well, the Innocence Project also mentioned in the same article states that, of the approximately 300 people they proved were wrongly convicted, 10% of them entered a plea of guilty.

    So 95% - 97% of all defendants plead guilty, but at least among this subset of wrongly accused people that we know about, 90% of them plead innocent.

    Sure, giving people more money helps them get a better lawyer. Investing more time verifying someone’s guilt makes for greater certainty that we are getting it right. And, it’s always horrible when an innocent person is jailed. But the innocent people still seem to me to be pleading innocent an overwhelming amount of the time.

    So now, would it be better to focus on making our attorneys better so that people who plead innocent get a better trial? Or hobble the minimum standards of the profession in some misguided attempt to reduce costs of private representation, and make our attorneys worse? Say it was you sitting there totally innocent and looking at prison time. Would you rather that the attorney the state appointed for you be overworked, or stupid?

    Put another way, should the role of the justice system be to exonerate the innocent, or make ourselves feel better about people who we're locking up?

    So hey, maybe like I’ve been saying, the problem is with what acts we've chosen to criminalize, not the justice system.
    Posted in: Debate
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