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Talk:Infinite regress

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I do not see how the view of nontheistic evolution does not also run into the issue of infinite regress. I see how a theist must appeal to the first cause and use it to explain itself, but how does the Darwinian evolutionist avoid the same pitfall? If the nontheistic evolutionist appeals to a rapid expansion of matter throughout the universe as the result of a significantly large application of energy, one immediately asks, "From where did the matter, the energy, or the space and time in which it occurred come?" If we appeal to an alternate universe colliding with this one as the source for the energy, the problem of the origin of the matter and of the alternate universe is still there. The Darwinian evolutionist and the intelligent design adherent both fall into infinite regression. So it seems the two views are in a stalemate within the context of the origin of the universe. User:Rb116

  • You do realize that the theory of evolution says absolutely nothing about the origins of the universe because it has nothing to do with that and instead deals with the diversification of species and such, right? What you're asking would be akin to someone saying that the theory of evolution tells us nothing about gravity... it's not supposed to. Perhaps you should first read up on what evolutionary theory actually says, instead of asking questions about things it doesn't cover in the first place. Nergali (talk) 04:25, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
    • Hey Nergali! No, I did not realize that Darwin's theory does not touch on origins of the universe. I have not finished his historic work on the origin of species yet. I was under the impression that he assumed a nontheistic origin to everything, and thus to species. You also did not mention the origin of species, you only mentioned "diversification," but Darwin also wrote about their origin.

The article did not fully explain how the two are so clearly distinct, and implied that there was some relation there. I think the confusion is in the article not specifying exactly what the creationist finds problematic with Darwin's theory that he or she feels the need to appeal to the origins of everything. I've yet to hear a creationist not talk about the origins of the universe when talking about the origins of species, and I've also yet to hear a Darwinian evolutionist not talk about the origins of the universe when talking about the origins of species.Rb116 (talk) 20:16, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

Examples of Infinite Regression[edit]

Infinite regression affects a lot of areas. The origin of time can be argued to fall under this, for example. The significance of this is that this section currently focuses on religious concepts of a 'designed designer', which makes it appear as if we Atheists are somehow immune to its effects. For example, this argument has been used against the Big Bang theory, regarding the origin of energy, as energy cannot be created or destroyed, meaning that its existence must be ad infinitum, and if time is not ad infinitum, then it would seem as if energy would've needed to predate time, somehow. Whilst I appreciate that we do like to be critical of religion here, infinite regression is more than just a atheistic critique, and has terrified many philosophical/religious/scientific concepts, so this section should be tweaked to treat it as the bully that it truly is.

Unfortunately, I'm inept at editing wiki pages, and so I don't really know how to make these edits myself. So please, feel free to give that extra 'oomph' to the article, specifically regarding examples of infinite regression.

RyanHutchinson (talk) 12:47, 21 December 2017 (UTC)

Chicken and egg[edit]

Isn't infinite regress the same as asking, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Of course, evolutionary biology provides an answer to that. --Gospatric (talk) 14:23, 21 December 2017 (UTC)

Yep, that's a good example of the concept. So, if I asserted that 'all chickens come from eggs, and all eggs come from chickens', my argument would naturally be unable to justify the origin of chickens, and therefore the origin would be impossible, as I would have to assume that one chicken came from a parent chicken, then a grandparent chicken, until I'm eventually justifying any chicken's existence with an infinite number of ancestors! Naturally, this is not a good point for an argument, so infinite regress needs to be avoided, for sanity's sake, at least. Unfortunately, if I propose that 'energy cannot be created or destroyed', hardcore creationists would have a free shot at highlighting the inconsistency of this claim (even though the 'designed designer' puts us both into the same boat, just saying), as energy would've needed to exist for an infinite amount of time, as there could be no point in time where it could not exist. Infinite regress plagued Plato's concept of knowledge, our concept of time's beginning, the concept of God's beginning, or energy's beginning, or... I think you understand. Arguments cannot always be given a nice bookend based on the available evidence, with a defined beginning and end of the argument, and IR is visible in many arguments, and is extremely difficult to resolve. For example, the Greeks didn't understand the concept of chickens and eggs, and it would've been nigh impossible for them to solve it back then through accurately inducing the concept of evolution. Easy to commit, tough to solve. That's why infinite regress can be such a beast. RyanHutchinson (talk) 15:39, 21 December 2017 (UTC)

Actually the age old question "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" can be answered quickly and simply with "The egg." due to the vagueness of the origins of the egg in question. Simply put the question never specifies that the egg must come from a chicken, thus leaving the door open for examples such as dinosaur eggs. GrammarCommie (talk) 15:49, 21 December 2017 (UTC)
[EC]The question "which came first, the chicken or the egg" is trivial, the egg came first. The more difficult (but still easily answerable) question is "which came first, the chicken or the chickenn's egg. If you define a chicken's egg as an egg containing a chicken, the egg came first (almost-chicken lays egg containing something just chickeny enough to be called a chicken), but this would imply that unfertilised eggs laid by chickens aren't chickens, a nonsensical claim. A chickens's egg is therefore an egg laid by a chicken, meaning the chicken came first (but only by one chicken generation). Christopher (talk) 15:52, 21 December 2017 (UTC)

I hate to be a spoilsport, but we were never trying to answer which came first. As was mentioned in the very first post, evolutionary biology has already answered this. The first egg which led to a chicken was not laid by a chicken, so the egg came first. This, however, is irrelevant to the discussion, sadly. On the topic of infinite regress, the chicken/egg problem is not at all trivial, as its origin was in ancient Greek times, and it absolutely stumped Greek philosophers. Why? Because their beliefs were that the eggs were only laid by chickens, which was a fallacious belief, caused by their lack of knowledge of evolution. This fallacious belief led to infinite regress, as they could not answer the question, and this made it paradoxical. Therefore, the chicken/egg problem is a GREAT example of infinite regress, as it historically plagued individuals like Aristotle. We do not commit infinite regress when we answer this question nowadays, but they did in the past, and I apologise if my previous statement implied that we commit it. Thank you.--RyanHutchinson (talk) 23:40, 21 December 2017 (UTC)