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Brute Facts - do they really exist?
 
SUMMARY

 

A brute fact is something that is true just because it is true.

 

There are brute facts as in what is real.  Or there are abstract brute facts.  For example, God is a brute fact and said to be real.  Another example is how 1 and 1 cannot be 100.  The latter is an abstract fact.

 

What do you mean by the reason for something’s existence? Just existing can be a reason. It is a reason. Whether or not we believe in God we believe even more that things happen by chance or without reasons.

If something exists it is stupid to ask why. There does not have to be a why for everything. Even religion says there does not need to be a plan for everything in the universe. A plan in some things is enough to prove there is a designer God.

The reason for something's existence can be part of it or outside of it.

Some say that, "Nothing is really random. To be truly random, an event needs to be totally uncaused." Can it be partly random? Yes for each cause is really a set of causes. There are direct and indirect causes for everything.
 
PRINCIPLE OF SUFFICIENT REASON
 
The principle of sufficient reason which states, “Everything that happens or exists has a sufficient reason for happening or existing.”
 
There has to be something without an explanation.

That would mean that the something is just a brute fact.

It is forgotten that a brute fact IS an explanation. It usually is not but there are exceptions.
 
The Church says the existence of anything at all needs an explanation.
 
But we all know that if there were nothing that would be a brute fact and need no explanation. There would be no question of why nothing rather than something?
 
Introduction
 
Philosopher Bertrand Russell stated that the universe is just there and that is all there is to it. Others say that he could be right but that maybe it is not just a brute fact. Russell was saying not everything needs an explanation. He says the existence of all things does not need an explanation.
 
It is not just philosophy that says it. Sean Carroll is an extremely gifted theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He stated, “There’s certainly no reason to think that there was something that ‘caused’ it; the universe can just be.” Christians water down what he said by saying he is only saying what he thinks. He does not sound like he is merely giving an opinion. He is a scientist and trained to avoid opinion.
 
So is the existence of the universe explainable, even if we do not know what the explanation is, or not explainable ? Neither stance accepts that the universe is self-explanatory so they are thought to be denying The Principle of Sufficient Reason. The principle claims that nothing can exist unless there is a sufficient reason for it to exist.
 
Some think the truth could be in the middle, maybe a combination of brute facts and explanations were at work which is why we have the universe. 
 
Belief
 
What about the thought, "The universe may have an explanation or it may not. The question is that if there is no scientific evidence either way then should we believe there is an explanation? We are not rejecting the possibility of an explanation but the believability of an explanation"? If correct then we are left with agnosticism.
 
The hidden premise
 
Nobody wants to think that all things just popped into existence from nothing. Why? The reason it is hard to think that is because the universe seems so well organised. Do not be mistaken. Believers would have no problem with a scenario where nothing existed but one atom. They would say it was a brute fact and easy to believe it was. So when they say the universe is not a brute fact and cannot be they are really thinking of the design argument which says design means a designer.
 
If one atom is not a problem then why should billions of them be? Again we see their concept of a designed universe is getting mixed up in their arguments against a universe that is a brute fact. It is there subliminally.
 
Religion does not really believe God is the explanation
 
Oddly enough, with the doctrine of creation by God out of nothing religion is saying the existence of all things is a brute fact though it is reluctant to admit it. If God uses nothing at all to make things then there is no making. Religion says all God did was tell things to exist. That is magic. That is not making in any meaningful sense at all. As magic is irrational, then if doing magic brings you money that is down to luck and not the magic. The magic might not have responded at all. So if God just told things to exist and they came into being we should STILL not say God had anything to do with it. Magic makes its own choices.
 
God is alleged to be the explanation for the universe and for life. But how do we explain God? If God needs no explanation then the universe might need no explanation and so there would be no need for God.
 
If God makes himself maybe the universe made itself and was made from a substance like God but impersonal that transmuted into all things.
 
But what does explanation mean? It means something to us. Religion says that only God understands how to explain God but he cannot really share much of that with us. So what we really have is, "Man cannot explain God. Only God can do that. Therefore God is the explanation for himself and for the universe." That is a misuse of the word explain.
 
Also, what is the most important? God being explained or the universe? In practice religion and science treat the universe as what needs explanation. That is dishonest for if God really cannot be explained then the universe cannot be explained either. If God is the cause of the universe then it will not do if we explain why one exists and not the other. And as the universe is said to be nothing in comparison to God the infinite perfection and infinite intelligence the explanation for God is what matters. Religion says that you cannot really explain much about a grain of sand but you can explain how the grains can be built into a sandcastle. That is irrelevant to the notion of God for God is spirit and is nothing like an atom or sand or anything we can imagine.
 
Why is God a brute fact?
 
 
The believer who says God is a brute fact and the atheist who says the universe is a brute fact seem to be as bad as each other. Are they really?
 
No.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Some answer that believers do not think God is a brute fact. But there is no denying that most do. The argument that the reason God exists is because he is existence makes no sense to us. Nobody really believes it. Yet the argument is essential if you want to believe. It calls God a brute fact and hides it. A God who exists because he has to exist is a brute fact.
 
Ordinary life
 
If you find a loaf in your oven you don't say it it is possible it just popped into existence ready made and its a brute fact.
 
Or what if it is your perception that the loaf just appeared that is the brute fact? If a loaf can come from nowhere so can your perception of something.
 
Our answer is that there is no need to assume brute facts other than the origin of the universe. The origin of the universe is wholly different from any loaf in your oven.
 
And God can surely create brute facts? If God controls everything there is no randomness and we are puppets. If he creates randomness then he can create brute facts because randomness and brute facts are the same principle: it just happened that is all.
 
Dependence
 
Creation is based on the notion that all that exists depends on something to exist.
 
Every dependent thing needs something to depend on. The universe is a dependent thing. Therefore the universe needs a power to depend on. This power is non-physical - it is God.
 
Talk about God as creator of all things when there was nothing at all before, is based on the doctrine that all things exist for a reason. The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) enunciates that idea.
 
"The PSR is closely related, if not fully identical, to the principle “ex nihilo, nihil fit” (“From nothing, nothing comes”). One of the most interesting questions regarding the PSR is why to accept it at all. Insofar as the PSR stipulates that all facts must be explainable, it seems that the PSR itself demands an explanation just as much. Several modern philosophers attempted to provide a proof for the PSR, though so far these attempts have been mostly unsuccessful." 
 
 http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sufficient-reason/
 
Thus the notion that we need God to account for our existence is just a guess. It rings true to many but it is not as simple as they make it out to be.
 
Why are we told about the Principle of Sufficient Reason? Why is not the Principle of Necessary Reason? Sufficient gives it away that they are not as sure as they let on.
 

Believer or not, you believe in brute facts. You know they exist even if you don't know what they are.
 
The universe then could be a brute fact. Even if it is not, the fact remains that goodness is factual whether God or anything exists or not so there is still no ground for faith in the Christian God. God would have to be a brute fact but he cannot be so there is no God.
 
Hume affirmed that if the universe did start it does not mean anything started it
 
Thomas Aquinas argued that the universe came into being and so must have had a cause.
 
David Hume argued that we were not there and there is too much mystery about the origin of all so nobody is entitled to say they know a cause was involved.
 
The two men are actually in agreement. Aquinas uses the word cause wrongly. A God who does not make but who simply commands things to exist is not a cause. Commanding is not causing. Aquinas uses the word cause where he means magic. Magic is defiance of cause and effect.
 
Read page 38 of Philosophy of Religion for A Level for OCR, Anne Jordan, Neil Lockyer and Edwin Tate, Nelson Thornes Ltd, 1999).
 
The objection to Hume is that science shows that the universe did have a beginning. Religion despite pretending to have nothing to do with science swallows this up. It pretends because it is afraid of science disproving or challenging it.
 
Physics
 
Is there a personal Creator God? The theory of everything seeks to reconcile the theories of physics. The theories make sense on their own but taken together they seem to contradict one another. Maybe we will never be clever enough to think up a theory of everything. Maybe we will just have to settle for saying the universe and its origin and how it is here is all a paradox. If so, then the existence of all things will be seen as a paradox. It would make as much sense to say that an impersonal intelligence made all things as to say that a personal God did it if not more. Why go as far as saying it was a personal God?
 
The notion that creation is not a brute fact

Conclusion

 

Stephen Hawking met Pope John Paul II at Vatican cosmology conference in 1981.  Hawking tells us some interesting things about this intercourse: "He [the pope] told us that it was all right to study the evolution of the universe after the big bang, but we should not inquire into the big bang itself because that was the moment of Creation  and therefore the work of God. I was glad then that he did not know the subject of the talk I had just given at the conference - the possibility that space-time was finite but had no boundary, which means that it had no beginning, no moment of Creation. I had no desire to share the fate of Galileo, with whom I feel a strong sense of identity, partly because of the coincidence of having been born exactly 300 years after his death!" Brief History of Time (page 116).

The Pope was trying to engage in damage limitation for Hawking was clear that there was no big bang at all and thus the universe is just a bruate fact meaning not only was a God not needed to explain it but is an “is”.  For religion the “is” is God alone.  So it is both a dismalla of the need for a God and a refutation of God.

And it should be.