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Owain_Evans comments on Semantic Stopsigns - Less Wrong

54 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 24 August 2007 07:29PM

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Comment author: Owain_Evans 25 August 2007 10:40:45AM 2 points [-]

Even so, you'd hope people would notice that on the particular puzzle of the First Cause, saying "God!" doesn't help. It doesn't make the paradox seem any less paradoxical even if true. How could anyone not notice this?

Thinking well is difficult, even for great philosophers. Hindsight bias might skew our judgment here.

"About two years later, I became convinced that there is no life after death, but I still believed in God, because the "First Cause" argument appeared to be irrefutable. At the age of eighteen, however, shortly before I went to Cambridge, I read Mill's Autobiography, where I found a sentence to the effect that his father taught him the question "Who made me?" cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question "Who made God?" This led me to abandon the "First Cause" argument, and to become an atheist."

– Bertrand Russell, Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, Vol. 1, 1967.

Comment author: Mets 24 May 2014 07:57:55PM *  0 points [-]

If I remember correctly, Russell thought that if anything could exist timelessly, without a cause, it might as well be the universe and not God. But the problem is, we now know (with some reasonable certainty) that the universe began with the Big Bang. The universe could have been timeless, but it isn't. Postulating that there is a timeless First Cause outside the universe solves this problem, since there is no similar theory that shows God has a cause, though it's not a falsifiable or very satisfying solution.

Comment author: gjm 24 May 2014 09:13:50PM 0 points [-]

We really don't know with much certainty that the universe began with the Big Bang. For instance, if "eternal inflation" is right then what we call the Big Bang was the beginning of "our" universe but not of the universe.