if a then b => if !b then !a
Doesn’t that make sense? Why do people act like it doesn’t?
Causality is such a difficult phenomenon to isolate. This is a large part of what makes tragic plays so stimulating–we can argue for hours about what really caused all the dead bodies to pile up at the end; was it Hamlet’s slowness to act? his uncle’s murder? or perhaps Polonius’ regulation of his daughter? The best answer is generally something along the lines of, “it was all these things and more”. For maybe if Hamlet weren’t so prone to depression, if Laertes hadn’t come from France, or the dang Dane, Hamlet the late, had just decided to take his nap somewhere else or a little later in the afternoon, the whole catastrophe could have been avoided. This brings up the whole discussion of chaotic theory on a sociological level. Because perhaps even smaller changes could have been made to the history than the ones I have mentioned if they were made earlier on. Maybe if Hamlet the late had gone to bed earlier the night before, he wouldn’t have needed to take a nap˚. And maybe he would have gone to bed earlier if he weren’t busy doing such and such, and perhaps such and such wouldn’t have had to be done if… We could, theoretically trace the whole history back to the beginning of time; at which point, if a single molecule, floating in space, had been displaced by a fraction of a micrometer, Gertrude might never have married, Hamlet might have never been born, and perhaps even Denmark might never have become a nation.
Personally, I find this is fascinating. It certainly says something about the nature of causality. Every little, fractal detail of the cause has a profound impact on the effect. This is an even bigger deal when it comes to a consideration of the Omnipotent, for He is the beginning of time and the root cause of all reality. I’ve included a definition of the rule of modus tollens at the beginning of this post, with whatever disregard of formal symbols, for this reason. Many a tricky relativist likes to try to weasel his way around causality, often suggesting that every event and quality of reality is the result of nothing and our minds are merely erring in seeking out patterns and reasons for things to result from other things. As far as I’m concerned, that’s fine; if a person doesn’t believe in reality, then I should even less expect him or her to believe in the causal nature of reality. But what doesn’t work, by my assessment, is the attempt to separate causality from the logical scope. Logic, by definition, assumes the principles of modus ponens and modus tollens, or more simply, the concept of an “if then”. Therefore, it seems to be quite impossible to have logic without having causality. For logic assumes that the validity of a premise determines, or causes, the validity of a conclusion.
Within the absolutist scope, metaphysical reality is assumed to be, to some extend, comprehensible via the normative reasoning of the human mind. In a way, reason is the only metaphysical entity that we are undeniably conscious of (if you will pardon my casual use of the term metaphysical). Though reason is expressed as physical phenomena in the brain, the pure properties of logic, that express themselves in the mind, must be considered metaphysical, or as I am using the word, real but not tangible. Because of this, there is a sense in which reason must dictate our beliefs as to the qualities of reality as it exists beyond the purely physical. Just as we assume physical reality to have the qualities which are perceived by our five sense, we must also assume metaphysical reality to have the qualities perceived by our sixth sense–our mind. If the fact that we see in colour leads us to believe that the universe is colourful, then the fact that we reason causally must lead us to believe that the normative is causal. And if we believe there is anything beyond the physical–which we must believe, for by the very act of thinking logically, we are engaging such a realm–then we must believe that reality is ultimately beyond the physical†. Therefore, in the same sense of the word, “reality” is ultimately causal in nature.
This being established, we must consider the nature of causality as it exists in reality to be the same as the nature of causality as it exists in reason. Let us consider what this nature is.
It may be useful here for us to rethink the conventional concept of a logical proof. Proof is commonly thought of as a sort of sequence of steps that lead from a given to a conclusion. This is all fine and well, but let us consider what it really means. If the rules of logic are universal, then a proof is not the act of taking one thing and transforming it into another, but rather the human explanation of why one thing is also another. Take a mathematical proof for instance. If we want to prove that 0over0 equals one in the context of “limit x–> 0 f(x) = sin(x) / x”, we take the function and limit as a given, go through a series of steps, and show why it equals one. But we have not in fact converted one concept into another. We have merely shown that by logic, the one concept is the other, for at the end of the proof, we realise that the given expression is equivalent to the concluded one. There is no conversion process from premise to conclusion; proofs only serve to show us that a premise is the same thing as a conclusion.
In the same sense, we must also consider causality to be, like proofs, a human way of understanding that a cause is, normatively, the same thing as its effect. Therefore, returning to the Omnipotent, He must in this same sense be, as the primal cause, the same thing as His effect. This is why I so often write that He is reality. And thus, if He is everything that is Real, He must possess every quality that is Real. Therefore, if we assume that our reason is Real, then we must believe Him to be rational. To me this is the easy part of the argument. It is self-evident that the cause of all Reality would have to be rational if there is such a thing as reason. Reason must be linked, by causality, all the way to the beginning of existence, the primal cause. And only things that are not real in some sense* may posses “qualities” not possessed by the Omnipotent (see “Theology of Non-being”)˚. All this follows from (or is) what is written above.
And now a point of interest: What also “follows” from above is that the Omnipotent is very large. Certainly, we already knew He was infinite and we are “finite,” but the Hamlet example can give a very good explanation for this. If every effect is affected by smaller and smaller details of its cause the further along the chain of causality that it gets from that cause, then with the Omnipotent having existed eternally before time began, we must believe that we are the effects of his infinitesimals. That is, if the Omnipotent is a giant fractal at the beginning of reality (and really making up all of reality), then we, being effects that exist some infinite distance along His causal chain, must be caused by the smallest possible details of Him, and therefore, are the smallest possible details of Him. However, it is important to note that, with Him being the highest possible order of infinity–paradox that that is–even his infinitesimals must be infinite, and therefore, while He is infinitely greater than us, we are still, in this sense, infinite ourselves, so long as we actually exist.
This means that the Omnipotent is capable of considering us infinitely, while at the same time conceiving an infinite universe, and for that matter making an infinite number of other infinite creations all of which He plans for and cares about infinitely. This seems to present a reasonable rebuttal to the objection that there cannot be a personal God because the universe is so large.
Such is one of the arguments that Richard Feynman brings up in the following video. He doesn’t really focus exclusively on that topic, but he says some other interesting things as well, which I thought made the video worth posting:
˚ Okay, I suppose it was “his custom always in the afternoon”, but still, would he have upheld that custom even if he wasn’t tired? Of course there is no definitive answer to such a question, but that’s my point: the causality is hard to isolate.
† For it is only beyond the physical that we are ultimately able to say that something exists, as the very notion of existence is a normative principle, and all the qualities of reality are normative, because, while we might describe a physical object as having “physical qualities” those qualities themselves are concepts (ex. an apple is red, but redness is a concept). This might just sound like a word game to many, and I realise that I may be over simplifying a much larger issue–and one that is largely disagreed about–but consider it as this: Somewhere in your mind, you differentiate between the way you view and understand the physical and the conceptual. You, by your very nature as a human, attach to those to realms particular values. That is, each of them means something different. Whether you want to call the one or the other “more real” doesn’t really matter much to this argument, so long as you realise that when I discuss reality, I will be referring to the conceptual or normative, and not just as it exists in our minds, but as it actually exists, even beyond them. For I am assuming–the absolutist that I am–that two plus to actually equals four, not that it just happens to in our minds. Without this sort of assumption, there is no actual point in thinking at all (in the same sense of the word “actual”).
* As darkness can be said to be a thing, but is really nothingness, it is the absence of something, so can there be things that are defined by their lacking of realness, they are the absence of realness.
˚ Here is another way of looking at the irrationality of evil discussed in “Theology of Non-being.” Irrationality is allowed to exist in evil, though it is not a quality possessed by the Omnipotent, because evil is, in a sense, “unreal”.