Debate:Is infinite regression ever valid as a form of reasoning, or acceptable as a way the universe works, or came to be?
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No. Infinite regression is a cop-out. It is closely akin to circular reasoning, except that the line of reasoning is not so much a circle as a spiral, into the infinite past or at least through an infinite number of prior steps. For example: How did life originate on earth? It didn't--it couldn't have. So where did it come from? Did God create it? No--no God-talk in scientific circles. (Francis H. Crick once wrote a nasty letter to Winston Churchill suggesting that a brothel would be just as appropriate as a chapel at Oxford University.) Therefore, life was deposited on earth from the outside. How? By a ballistic missile or a comet's tail. Where did that life come from? From another planet. But how did life arise on that other planet? It didn't--couldn't have--too much information. Did God create life on that other planet? Oh, no. Therefore life was deposited on that planet as well. Where did that life come from? From another ballistic missile. And so on, and so on, for an infinite number of steps.
Am I the only one who recognizes such a line of reasoning as absurd? And not merely absurd, but self-serving of the interests of those seeking to deny God's existence and His role as Creator. It is a very travesty of logic, and that is why I sought to classify it as a logical fallacy.
Why, then, is it not a logical fallacy? Can an infinite regression ever exist in nature? I'm waiting for the evidence.--TerryH 23:40, 6 March 2007 (EST)
Postscript: This is a special-case type of page. The "article," as such, is discussion. That's the nature of a debate topic.--TerryH 23:41, 7 March 2007 (EST)
Comment. There is no a priori reason to rule out infinite regression in all circumstances. It may seem a superficially unsatisfying explaination to state "it's turtles all the way down", but that doesn't mean that infinite regression cannot exist. Of course, if there is a finite limit to the problem at hand, such as the age of the universe in the panspermia problem, then infinite regression cannot work. Nematocyte 11:45, 8 March 2007 (EST)
- Counter. That is precisely the problem. The age of the universe is limited. No reputable astronomer accepts a steady-state universe anymore. The most that anyone will accept is a cyclic universe--but Albert Einstein held that a cyclic universe is impossible, because our universe doesn't have enough mass to stop expansion and bring everything back into a clump again. Einstein was slow to realize that, of course, but in the end he yielded to the demands of logic, his own wonderfully self-consistent theory, and observations that he could not controvert.--TerryH 12:23, 8 March 2007 (EST)
- Firstly, I am not arguing for a "big crush" model. I defer to the opinions of my phycist collegues who assert that a massively old and thus dilute universe could provide the conditions for new "big bangs" or useful material. If it is possible, then there is no a priori reasons to dismiss infite regression out of hand. Furthermore infinite regression relates to more than temporal regression. You will be familure with cells being explained in terms of chemicals, chemicals in terms of atoms, and so on until we reach quantum theory, or more controversially string theory. There is no a priori reason to simply assume than this line of explaination stops there, or even ever stops, although I think it probable that it does eventually stop. Nematocyte 12:30, 8 March 2007 (EST)
Please forgive me if I use inappropriate formatting for a discussion page, I'm new to wiki formatting, and I'm very open to guidance on how to use it properly.
I'd like to make a couple of comments here. Fact: All the matter, energy, space and time of this universe began at it's original Creation. As far as this universe goes, there is absolutely no naturalistic explanation for causation beyond the origin of this universe--simple logic reasoning. Any attempt to do so is by it's very nature inherently a super-natural (metaphysical) appeal. Therefore (I'm assuming it's acceptable here in discussions to make personal assertions, again correct me if I'm wrong...) let's have no further statements proclaiming 'infinite regressions' beyond the definite finite temporal bounds of this universe. It certainly is logically a priori impossible.
On the question of life: The origin of life (not any subsequent changes thereto, just the simple origin problem alone) poses an insurmountable problem to the materialist origin of life researcher. There is not the slightest possibility of any stochastic mechanism alone providing satisfactory explanation for the incredible sequence of events required to form even the simplest of living cells (particularly amidst the seriously hostile conditions which were known to exist here on earth at physical life's beginning) during the known-to-be finite timespan (and everyother-span) of this universe.
On fallacies: The preeminent fallacy committed by typical science researchers today is the idea of methodological-naturalism, I.E., You can make no appeal to any causation beyond the boundaries of observable nature. That is implicitly a biased point-of-view, and is a fundamentally flawed agenda if the actual goal is the pursuit of truth no matter where it leads--ostensibly the sovereign goal of science research itself (I know, I know...I'm probably just a naive idealist :^). All other current reasoning errors in science and philosophy research stem from this basic issue.
- You have ignored my comments about infite regression applying to more than temporal explainations, and are not fully grasping the current scientific understanding on the topology of space/time, the origins of the universe, and the nature of causality. I don't think it's worth continuing a discussion on in-depth areas of science and philosophy without that understanding. Nematocyte 11:22, 12 March 2007 (EDT)
Let us continue the discussion on whether the universe has an outside here. I have already moved that content to the new debate topic. No offense meant, but a valid topic needs a forum of its own.--TerryH 11:43, 9 March 2007 (EST)