Pantheism and Ockham’s Razor

When viewed under the lens of Ockham’s Razor, pantheism appears to rise above its competitors. Ockham’s Razor favors the explanation that makes the least number of assumptions while accommodating all relevant data.

In a previous article we presented a logical summary for a proof of God:

Argument Summary
  • Humans are composed of elementary particles or fields of “energy”.
  • Human mental states result from these field interactions.
  • Every complex physical property results from the shaping of simpler forms of that property in a system’s interacting subsystems.
  • It would involve special pleading to claim that mentality works dramatically differently from physicality.
  • It is therefore irrational to assume that a property like mentality would magically arise from nowhere when fields interact.
  • Therefore fields have simple mentality.
  • Field interactions shape this mental state making it more complex.
  • The more and sophisticated the interactions, the more complex the states.
  • The Universe is composed only of interacting fields.
  • Therefore the Universe must have some kind of mental life.
  • Ergo God.

Now this argument contains a couple of assumptions relating to panpsychism. 1) mental states don’t simply spring out of non-mental stuff; 2) mental properties arise the same way as physical properties.

These are all extremely reasonable assumptions. Physical phenomena don’t spring out of non-physical stuff so why would we entertain that mental phenomena could spring out of non-mental stuff? There is no justification whatsoever that we should treat mental phenomena completely differently than physical phenomena in that regard. In other words, we can’t plead that mentality is a special case with respect to physicality. We can’t engage in special pleading.

But pantheism’s chief competitor, materialism, does make two truly outlandish assumptions: 1) mental states spring out of non-mental stuff by some unknown unjustifiable process; 2) mental properties arise in a completely different way than physical properties. These are monumental assumptions. Since they require some as yet unknown mechanism, they are in fact supernatural assumptions.

Something is supernatural if it transcends the laws of nature. Materialism’s assumption that the mental strongly emerges from the physical seems to meet that definition. There is not a single solitary concrete example of the strong emergence of anything. So strong emergence goes against everything we know about the laws of nature. Strong emergence is in fact supernatural.

Bad Atheist Arguments

If you ever ask an atheist to prove their claim that God doesn’t exist, chances are you’ll hear some truly atrocious responses. Below you’ll find some of the worst atheist arguments.

You can’t prove a negative!

This may be the most common response. Somehow many atheists have come to the conclusion that it’s not possible to prove negative claims. That begs the question as to why they would frequently make them! At any rate, this claim is clearly false as any competent logician will tell you.

There is no flat Earth.

This is a negative claim that can be easily proven true. Also, any positive claim can be negated. e.g. Prove God doesn’t not exist.

The burden of proof is on the person making the claim! You prove God exists!

This is just bizarre but it’s surprising how many times it is used. Somehow many atheists believe that the person claiming that God doesn’t exist is not making a claim. Also, they are admonishing you for daring to request justification for that claim. To top it off they shift the burden of proof onto you.

Prove Zeus doesn’t exist!

This is another odd one. Instead of justifying their claim that God is imaginary, they try to shift the burden of proof onto you for a different claim.

That God doesn’t exist is the null hypothesis!

Atheists sometimes attempt to ague that because “God doesn’t exist” is the null hypothesis to the claim that “God exists” they do not have to prove their claim. The null hypothesis is the claim that there is no difference between groups or no relationship between variables. So for every claim you are trying to support, there will an alternate “opposite” claim that you must reject. If you find a relationship between your variables, you have disproven the null hypothesis.

If you claim that God exists, the null hypothesis is that God doesn’t exist. But if you claim God doesn’t exist, the null hypothesis is that God does exist. Simply because a claim has a null hypothesis does not mean that the null hypothesis claim by itself doesn’t require support. When you make any claim, you have a burden of proof to support that claim.

Which God?

When asked to prove an atheist’s claim that God doesn’t exist they might proclaim “which God?”. That’s like saying “which Supreme Being?”. A being can only be supreme is there is only one such being.

Atheism is about belief! Agnosticism is about Knowledge!

This claim is made when stating that a weak atheist is the same as an agnostic. It is false because knowledge is justified true belief, so both positions involve belief. Also, when Thomas Huxley coined the term agnosticism he specifically meant it to refer to a lack of belief and lack of knowledge of God.

Are you also agnostic about fairies!

Here the atheist is trying to argue that it’s rational to believe that things that cannot be justified do not exist. This however involves committing the appeal to ignorance logical fallacy. That is, fairies don’t exist because they haven’t been proven to exist. The rational position on the existence of fairies is in fact one of agnosticism.

The Special Pleading of Mentality’s Strong Emergence

Humans are ultimately composed of elementary particles or fields. Every complex physical trait we have can be traced to primitive versions of this trait in these fields. Every physical thing we do is a form of movement. We can only perform these movements because the fields we are composed of have the ability to move.

These movements require energy. Our bodies have mechanisms to absorb and use energy to perform these movements. The same holds true with our elementary particles.

The ability to move our limbs doesn’t magically appear out of thin air at some point of development. It is instead directly traceable to each of our subsystems: cells, atoms, subatomic particles and elementary particles. There is not one physical attribute that is an exception to this rule. As such, complex physical phenomena are said to weakly emerge from the interactions of subsystems that possess simpler forms of these physical phenomena.

A rational person therefore would assume that this weak emergence rule would apply to our mental abilities too. That is, every complex mental phenomena we are capable of would have a simpler counterpart in each subsystem. This would mean though that the cells, atoms, subatomic particles and elementary particles that compose us would have simple forms of mentality too. That is, panpsychism is a reality.

The alternative to our subsystems possessing mentality involves the idea that mentality strongly emerges from physical sources that lack any mental capabilities. This odd scenario assumes that mentality is somehow inexplicably special. It is a unique case that applies only to mental capabilities but not physical properties. Yet no justification whatsoever has ever been presented for this special case. This is the very definition of special pleading.

Special pleading is a fallacy in which something is cited as an exception to a general or universal principle, without justifying the special exception. Those who oppose panpsychism necessarily must embrace the strong emergence of mentality. They dogmatically adhere to this irrational outlook with only the rudimentary logical fallacy of special pleading to justify it.

It is high time that all sane scholars reject the raving irrationality of mentality’s strong emergence and instead embrace the only rational alternative, panpsychism.

Proving Panpsychism

Panpsychism is the view that all things have a mental component. That is, all things, from quantum fields to atoms to the Universe itself have some kind of mental life.

The proof for panpsychism is exceptionally simple. The main “argument” against panpsychism is not an argument but a purely faith-based belief propped up by ridiculous pseudoscience and absurd pseudo-logic.

Basically, the claim against panpsychism is that mentality is emergent. That is, mentality magically arises from non-mental stuff at some indeterminate point in evolution. Proponents of emergence strongly dispute that this process is anything magical. But magic involves supernatural occurrences. A new property, mentality, simply occurring at some indeterminate point for no known reason out of nowhere and from nothing would most certainly be a supernatural occurrence.

Now we actually understand emergence very well in physical systems. Every emergent physical property that we understand, is an illusion that is explainable by the physical properties of the system’s constituent parts. Take the hardness property of iron. Iron is made of iron atoms which are not hard but have bonding properties which result in them combining together. We interpret this bonding as hardness. The property of hardness is an illusion that only exists in our reality but not at the reality of the atomic level. That is, if you were able to shrink down to the level of the atom you would not experience hardness. You would instead see atoms packed together.

There is no reason to believe that mentality works in a different way. In fact, it would be an extraordinary claim that mentality would operate in an entirely different way than physical processes. Particularly when there is not a single shred of evidence or even a logical argument to support such an oddly magical explanation.

So in effect, refuting the magical emergent argument for mentality is actually panpsychism’s proof. As far as we know, all emergent physical processes are explainable by simpler physical processes of a system’s component parts. Therefore mentality will be explainable by the simpler mental properties of the system’s component parts as well. Since magical creation from nothing is impossible or at the least unjustifiable, the smallest system should have the simplest level of mentality. When these simple systems organize into complex systems we get not only complex physical properties but we can get complex mental properties too.

Argument Summary

P. Either mentality arises from non-mental stuff or all stuff has simple mentality that can be arranged into complex forms.
P. There is no justification whatsoever that mentality can magically arise out of nothing. Therefore this claim can be rejected.
P. Further, it is impossible for complex things to arise from nowhere. Such an explanation can therefore only be supernatural.
P. All complex physical properties result from the arrangement of simpler versions of these properties in a system’s subsystems.
P. It would involve special pleading to claim that mentality would operate in a dramatically different way than physicality.
C. Therefore panpsychism must necessarily be true.

When there is only one rational explanation for something, that explanation, while not technically proven true, is the one only the irrational will reject. When an explanation appeals to supernatural magical forces, that explanation will only be entertained by the non-rational.

Conclusion

So human mentality is in fact emergent. But it doesn’t magically arise out of thin air from non-mental stuff. Complex mentality instead emerges from a multitude of simple mental systems operating together in a complex system. That is, human-level mentality emerges exactly the same way as the physical human being emerges as cells grow and multiply. Panpsychism is therefore an undeniable fact that philosophy and science needs to come to terms with.

Proving the Existence of God

In rational pantheism, God is synonymous with the Universe. So, the Universe is a conscious supreme being. Can such a notion be proven? Yes it can. To accept the reality of God’s existence you simply need to understand a simple logical argument.

The Argument

From biology we understand that thinking humans are collections of individual living entities called cells and that these cells are composed of molecules. From chemistry we know that molecules are composed of atoms. From physics we understand that atoms are composed of subatomic particles which ultimately are composed of elementary particles. Elementary particles are excitations of quantum fields.  The Universe itself is composed only of such fields.

Everything that a human does can be traced down to interactions of these fields. Nothing we do can be caused by anything else unless you believe in the existence of magical paranormal forces. So, the only logical conclusion is that human mental states result from the interactions of fields. The Universe itself is one massive complex system of interacting fields and therefore must also have some kind of mental life, however primitive. Thus the God of pantheism is an established fact.

It’s important to understand that interacting fields wouldn’t cause a mental state to magically arise out of nowhere. Fields themselves must have the simplest possible default mental state. Field interactions would then shape this state. Interactions in a complex system would give rise to complex mental states.

All complex physical states in a complex system result from the shaping of simpler physical states in the simpler subsystems. It would involve special pleading to claim that mental states are somehow an exception to this process.

So to summarize, we have one very important assumption: there is no magic. Matter cannot be magically created from nothing nor can mental states. Simple forms of matter can be organized into complex structures. Similarly, simple mental states can be organized into complex mental phenomena. Since the simplest form of matter we know of are elementary particles, these particles must contain the simplest kind of mental state. So mentality is a property of particles just as mass is.

Argument Summary
  • Humans are composed of elementary particles or excitations of quantum fields.
  • Human mental states result from these field interactions.
  • Every complex physical property results from the shaping of simpler forms of that property in a system’s interacting subsystems.
  • It would involve special pleading to claim that mentality works dramatically differently from physicality.
  • It is therefore irrational to assume that a property like mentality would magically arise from nowhere when fields interact.
  • Therefore fields have simple mentality. i.e. Panpsychism is true.
  • Field interactions shape this mental state making it more complex.
  • The more and sophisticated the interactions, the more complex the states.
  • In a complex system advanced forms of consciousness emerge.
  • The Universe is composed only of interacting fields.
  • The Universe is the most complex system there is.
  • Therefore the Universe must have some kind of mental life.
  • Ergo God.

Rejecting the above argument banishes you to an irrational netherworld where the absurd assumption is made that mental states magically arise out of nowhere at a certain point in human development. We never see this magical creation out of nothing anywhere else in any of our scientific investigations so why would a rational person assume it happens with mental states? We do see complex physical systems composed of smaller simpler physical systems, so a rational person would assume that mental systems probably work in a similar way. One better, a rational person would see mental and physical as the same thing; monism as opposed to dualism.

Rejecting the God of pantheism involves: ignoring science, rejecting logic and accepting a plethora of impossible supernatural assumptions. So even Ockham’s Razor is telling us that atheism is an absurd belief system.

Atheist Criticisms

The above argument has received several weak criticisms from members of the atheist community.

  1. “You are pronouncing that God exists but provide no proof whatsoever!”
    The argument providing the logically derived proof of God is found under the section entitled “The Argument”.
  2. “Simply calling the universe God is no different that calling a rock God!”
    We’re not simply equating God with an inanimate object. We are actually saying that the Universe, the sum total of all things, is a being with some form of mental life.
  3. “Your argument is childish, is full of fallacies and proves nothing at all!”
    This is the most ridiculous “criticism” of all. It is simply a pronouncement of faith. Atheists claim to be reason based but when presented with an argument proving their position wrong, most just fall silent and return to their faith. Some of them however, possess only the rudimentary intellect to simply proclaim their faith in atheism by insulting the threatening argument and its proponents. If an argument has problems in it, reasonable people would point out specifically what those problems are and support their case with reason, not faith based claims.

The best atheist response to our argument is the claim that it commits the fallacy of division. That argument is easily dealt with here.