The Nature of the Universe, 1 A short Lesson in Logic
Where was your best selfie taken?Click thumbnail to view full-size
We need to lay some ground rules for thinking. We all think, we all use these things every day and every time we speak or think or listen to someone else speak.
The most basic ground rules or fundamental principles are the simple rules of logic, and, if you are not familiar are very simply a must be true. They lay the foundation for knowing anything at all. They are really not hard and you should go through these every day for a few weeks. There are only four basic rules.
The First Four Laws of Logic
Really, they are not hard and will help you think clearly, and there are only four, at least to start with, so here goes.
- The Law of Identity: “A = A”
- The Law of Non-Contradiction: “A ¹ Non-A” or, “A” does not equal “non-A”
- The Law of Excluded Middle: “A v Non-A” (where v stands for "either, or" so you read this as “either “A” or “non-A”)
- Rational Inference (words strung together have inference beyond actual meaning)
How do you know when someone is telling the truth? I do not mean intuition or reading their body language, I mean thinking about what they say and checking it out. Sometimes this is easy, other times it is quite hard, but the rules above are the most basic part of this.
America’s Funniest Home Video’s has several clips that are funny because you know something the other person does not, and here I am thinking about the mother who asks the child if they have been in the chocolate and they ardently deny they have and do not realize it is all over their face.
Now apply these rules to that. The law of identity, chocolate is chocolate, and it is all over the face. The child denies it, so the second rule comes in, you cannot both have been in the chocolate (he obviously had) and not been in the chocolate. Lastly, the third rule, the excluded middle, it can’t be both ways, it is one way or the other. Of course that is why it is funny, it is obvious the child has been in the chocolate and he is denying this, and that break if funny.
Truth Corresponds to Reality
Let’s jump way back to Aristotle to the correspondence rule, truth is that which corresponds to reality. This is funny because things are out of place. Chocolate belongs in the body not spread on the face, and not on the walls, and, people should tell the truth, so multiple things are out of place.
There is propriety to things, a real and natural order, and truth corresponds to that, to being, to reality. The farther you are from that order, the farther from reality you will be, and believe me, I have known many people who are far from reality.
Now, if you are of the type that you don’t like the video because the child is not telling the truth and you think they should be punished for that so you think you should frown while everyone else laughs, grow up, and drink some wine. I say that because I would bet you don’t, or, if you do, you drink excessively.
Note that I did not say to get drunk, I will not advocate that, but one glass of wine for women and two for men every day and you will be happier, you will sleep better and your circulation will improve. I promise.
There is a term you need to know also, and that term is “equivocation” or to equivocate. You tell me you are hungry, I tell you I have an apple. You assume from that chain of conversation that I have a piece of fruit which you can eat, but I have equivocated the term to pull a little joke, what I have is an Apple computer on which we can search for something to eat. So, again, something is out of its proper order, and is funny because of this particular equivocation.
Equivocation is the changing of a term from one thing into something else, something out of place or out of order. In the above case, you expected an apple, the fruit, and I equivocated the term and used Apple, the computer.
Equivocation can be funny, or deceptive. Jack Benny used to equivocate his own personality to be funny. He portrayed himself as a penny pincher and played the violin poorly on TV. That is he portrayed himself as a want-to-be violinist. Neither were true. He was not only an accomplished violinist but a generous philanthropist.
Let’s look at some other terms and how I will use them so we don’t equivocate terms as we move on. These are fairly standard, except “universe” which is a little different but not entirely unconventionally used.
We need to define some terms so we are all on the same page and understand what I mean by those terms. These are not new definitions, but some of you will not understand them if I don’t define them for you. You can reference other books to check the terms.
Other Terms You Need to Know:
In the discussions below you will hear certain terms that you must first understand, or at least understand how I am using them to prevent ambiguity or equivocation.
1) Necessary: Something that is absolutely required. In other uses, it might mean simply required by or required for something else. For instance, required to make a recipe work, or for a car to work. In this usage, it simply means something that is absolutely required to be so, something that is uncaused, something that must have always been and must always continue.
2) Contingent: The opposite of necessary, non-necessary, that is, something that was caused by something else, something caused by something else. Something that may not have been, or may not be. Your great, great grandchildren are contingent on a succession of events, specifically, your children having children, and so forth. They might not be. Perhaps a tragedy wipes out you and your children so they never come into being. So they are contingent on you and your children, etc. Some families were wiped out on the Titanic, and so all future contingent children were unborn.
3) Fundamental: Similar to necessary or perhaps foundational, those most basic things that are required for existence per se, something basic, or the lowest component, the general principle, or most basic things other things exist in or on.
4) Requisite or Prerequisite: Something required of necessary for something else, a precondition, something essential, a prior condition, integral with the word or phrase or element it is attached to, something indispensable. In this book, usually something required for the meaning of another word, such as “time” being a requisite of “eternity” since “eternity” means endless time.
5) Universe: Unless qualified or modified by the word “physical” as in “physical universe” the word is used to mean exactly what the word means, entire, or all, literally, to turn into one, a unity describing “everything that is,” or “everything all together.” So when I use the word I include everything that exists including, if he exists, God, the spiritual realm, angels, Satan, demons, etc., etc., that is all dimensions and all domains and things in them. By this I am not including or mixing the spiritual realm with the physical realm at all. This is the naturalistic way Einstein used the word “god,” that is, in a pantheistic manner, only the organizing force of the physical and natural universe much like the term “Mother Nature.” If there is a creator God then he must have created something outside of himself, it was different from him, not a part of himself (apologies to my Hindu friends). Pantheism is false, but the use of the word “universe” can be used to incorporate everything that exists in all realms, and this is how I will use it here. Yes, you can choose to use it differently, but to understand what I claim here you need to understand how I will use the word. In Latin it means “belonging to all” or “everything together.”
6) Nature: Generally, the physical universe and all it contains. The space-time domain (see below) and matter, laws of nature, etc. That which we can see, measure, touch, smell and hear, and the rules or laws which normally govern the physical universe. Things the standard practice of “natural science” can test.
7) Space-Time: The domain where the physical universe resides. Used here we will use it with a slight bias as that where and which naturalistic science can test, that is, a bit isolated from other domains just for clarity, that domain wherein our physical universe resides. That domain is where our senses operate to give our mind data about it.
8) Metaphysics: That which is after, past, or beyond physics, from Aristotle’s order of writing first about physics then about our other experiences. This is a domain (see below) that is different from the space-time domain (see above), but one we all experience, and in fact use when you think. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that treats of first principles (so, here, some overlap with logic), but includes ontology (the nature of being, and so, the subject of this book) and cosmology (we deal with the structure of the universe, causality, and space-time), and is intimately connected with epistemology (the origin and nature of human knowledge, how do we know things?). So this book is a metaphysics treatise or dissertation. But also personality and all that entails including thoughts a memory, ideas, theories goals, purpose, intentionality, and so forth are all metaphysical things. The mind is metaphysical, the brain is physical. We can show very credible and testable evidence that this is true with near death experiences. (Several books classify any state wherein the person is clinically dead as a death experience and I will not dispute that idea, but it complicates the language of coming back, but his is a language issue. I would not dispute a person saying ‘I died and came back.” Rather I would incorporate those experiences into this “near death” term.) The evidence is recalcitrant, persistent, and simply staggering, and so this is not metempirical (that is, beyond our experience), but metaphysical, or beyond physics, but specifically within our experience, but not physical. The Psyche, or self, or soul is that which we identify ourselves with in this realm or domain, so, psychology deals with the self and mind and how we think. Psychiatry deals with malfunctions of the brain and so uses chemistry at points because sometimes things go wrong in that domain. Unfortunately sometimes people choose the wrong doctor to handle a problem the other should be handling.
9) Naturalism: The idea, theory, or presupposition that nature is all that exists. This can be called physicalism, or materialism also. If you like things is different flavors, there are hundreds of flavors of naturalism. It is a moving target that dances every time someone takes aim at it. Despite Churchland, Goetz, Taliaferro and others insisting on naturalism as being “common sense,” however, it is not. The term common sense relates to things believed or thought or held commonly by most people. If naturalism were common, then 99% of all people who have evert lived would not think there was some form of deity, something other than nature. That entails a form of dualism verses the monism of naturalism. What is common to man is theism or deism, or the belief in some supernatural being. A goal of strict naturalism is to reduce the explanation and expectation of free will, choices, desires, ideas, beliefs, and all mental processes and reduce them to physical terms, and so, your personality, all those things that make you human are reduced as nothing but meaningless, purposeless chemical reactions. But why? What is the purpose of this reductionism? The goal is to eliminate the need for a God. Strange, because again, where did that purposefulness come from? If it is only a purposeless random chemical reaction, why do we need to pay any attention to it, or assign value to the idea? Ask Churchland, Rey, Dennett and the others that posit this absurd idea based on their own presuppositions. It isn’t science it is a philosophy about science. They will have to explain why they think their own thoughts are only chemically determined reactions in an organic brain, but also deserve any attention at all.
10) Scientism: The presupposition that the only things that should be believed are things already proven by science. I wonder where they discovered that philosophical idea. Has it been tested and proved by the scientific method? No? Why? Because it is an idea that cannot be tested, it is a philosophical presupposition was not discovered, and therefor by its own standard, is false. If it is false, then you shouldn’t believe it. OK, thi is a bit beyond just a description.
11) Supernatural: Something that is above, or outside of nature itself.
12) God or god(s): The capitalized word God always means the one true and living God, if there is one, I this is true. A lowercase “god” can mean a false god or a concept of God bad enough that I pejoratively penalize the theory or theology by using a lower case, that is, close enough to be a false idea of God. Yes, there are many words for God in many languages, this is not meant to be entirely exclusive as the Jehovah’s Witnesses use the term “Jehovah,” a German word, the original Hebrew would sound something like “yeh-ho-vah,” which is a personal name, and sometimes I use YHWH to replace the original Hebrew letters. Muslims use the term Allah, like the Hebrew ‘elohiym it is a generalized term again that can be used for the one true God. Any person, most persons may have multiple names, titles, and descriptions, however, “God” is not a term one can use to describe, say, one of the 12,000,000 Hindu gods or the Greek pantheon of gods, and so forth. However, if there is a God, as some 99% of all people who have ever lived believe, then belief in him is not a religion, it is belief in reality. (See “Religion” below.)
13) Mysticism: The belief that the ultimate reality or God or gods have a direct mystic (unexplained) union with a person, and knowledge thereof is intuitive or subjective to the individual, or to the leader. There are simply too many of these to list, and all religions have forms of mysticisms. I have yet to hear one that could be true.
14) Religion: A belief about God or gods developed by man to attempt at explaining why things are the way they are, as, in mystic religions to defend your theory about an alternate reality can be so, but these always rely on some special knowledge only revealed to the initiated, or non-mystic religions which believe God has spoken. Both are quite commonly human, and virtually ubiquitous. For example Islam is non-mystic since it believes God has spoken, and the core belief surrounds belief in those writings, however, within Islam mystical elements arise where someone claims some special knowledge beyond those writings. This happens in all non-mystical religions. Note here that the information flows in the opposite direction. Note also that if this is true, then people can still make up certain aspects of their belief system, and become progressively more “religious” and less real, which would create a spectrum of beliefs, or a gradient of truth and religion. In Christianity, this can be an explanation for the hundreds of denominations, each claiming to be the correct way to believe even though the core belief is that there is only one true way.
15) Belief: Something you think is true.
16) Faith: Acting on what you believe. Everyone uses terms ambiguously at times. I have heard the term “faith” used repeatedly when the word they meant was “belief.” “I have faith in God” really should be stated as “I believe in God.” Conversely “I have faith in evolution” should be stated “I believe evolution is true.” I can tell if you have faith in his existence and the Bible if you act according to what it tells you but what is true if you want to express your faith in evolution? Do you go out and hope your dog will breed and have something other than a dog? Faith produces action. Belief sometimes produces faith.
Once more, these are definitions I will work from. This prevents ambiguity.