"Er, the whole idea of an axiom is rather that it is a self-evident starting point, no?"
From Wikipedia, "an axiom or postulate is a proposition that is not proven or demonstrated but considered either to be self-evident or to define and delimit the realm of analysis". Neither causality nor continuity (non-contradiction) are necessarily true, but rather appear well-justified because of the believed exclusivity of the extended results. That makes them axioms of the latter type, which require external arguments from purely self-evident premises to provide a proper, non-circular proof.
And "existence exists" is a trivial statement because the issue at hand is determining the proper contents of existence. The central goal for this discussion is the indication of which sources of data are conclusively real and thus form the primary grounds for analytical proof.
Additionally, I reject your application of the Ontological Argument in these conditions. In the same way, you're assuming that simply defining a concept as "exists" makes that necessarily true. I contend that you are instead making a null (or potential) statement which is indeterminate in the sense that it is insufficient to define its contents, and thus cannot be considered physically actionable. Until you can locate entities which conclusively exist, "existence exists" and "God exists" are value-less statements which can neither be affirmed nor refuted (they take a Null value instead).
It's not Postmodernism in any sense to argue against epistemological sloppiness. I ascribe to an Objective Reality philosophy, which is directly contrary to Postmodernistic tendencies, but it also happens to discard the concept of Physical Necessity at the epistemic level. So while my philosophy is generally very compatible with MCT's (I would agree with most points), I consider his unsupported axioms to be incorrect and falsely limiting to his analytical scope (the initial issue of non-temporal or origin-related topics).
The axioms are supported by reality. They square with observation. They square with reason. There is no contradiction in them. It is not sloppiness. I'll tell you what's sloppy, non-temporal mechanisms. How can you say that ascribe to an objective philosophy, when you favor contradiction over certainty? Every time you open your eyes, pay your taxes or breath, you are affirming that reality exists.
Causality is those things, but your non-contradiction (my continuity) is nothing of the sort. It has been refuted by observation and only serves as an intellectual shortcut in simple analysis. Further, your strictly subjective, humanistic epistemology is utter nonsense for a purportedly objective approach. Certainty is what your framework is least capable of providing, for all the exhaustive reasons I have shown you, but I understand that dogmatic belief can fill in even the widest gaps.
I have been unusually exact and comprehensive in the arguments I have provided, so I'm calling this the point where I'm done dealing with your ceaseless Straw Manning. If you can't actually follow a coherent argument without spinning off into your own tangent of deprecating assumptions (as Aaron R already explain to you), then there's no reason to pretend we're arguing over the same topics any longer.
As I very plainly stated, self-evident axioms (rather than delineative ones) are the "ultimate" foundation you should attempt to find for any complete philosophy. As this discussion is specifically about epistemology and foundational questions, that was the central focus of discussion.
In later-stage analysis it's common and reasonable to use delineative axioms to set your scope and resolution, but we were not discussing topics with that kind of leniency.
Bleh, I managed to wipe out my original reply with a Back hotkey, so this will have to be more of a cliffnotes version:
1. I'm arguing that the knowledge has literal form as interactional patterning and structural arrangement in physical entities, while the mind attempts discover knowledge by emulating physical systems. The mental acquirement of knowledge is a representation, not a literal form, so it is irrelevant to the functioning of knowledge itself. This leads me to reject your subjective perspective of learning knowledge in favor of an objective reality in which knowledge implicitly exists in physical systems.
2. Despite the impression from our biological sensory equipment that the physical world is continuous, advanced machinery has aided us in extending our perceptions until we were able to observe physical discontinuities. I am only concerned with physical data, not the subjective limitations of the natural human senses, so I am by no means demanding "omniscience" for you to acknowledge what we have already observed.
3. Causality and continuity are unsupported delineating axioms which you justifying by the effectiveness of the conclusions and your belief that they are exclusively true. I have demonstrated a contrary framework with comparable effectiveness that directly invalidates the exclusivity of your post-justification. Even without a specific counter-example, there are fundamental logical constraints which prevent you from proving the exclusivity of a solution, so your post-justification is strictly inconclusive. That only leaves the remaining option of additional arguments from purely self-evident grounds that conclusively support your delineating axioms, but no such argument has ever been historically successful in proving either causality or continuity (non-contradiction).
4. The 'basics' you missed is that a priori statements are atemporal as an existent property, not extra-temporal as an existent state. The physical form of a priori knowledge is embedded metadata, so it cannot exist pre-temporally even though the conclusions are atemporally true. To be technically exact, a priori knowledge requires a multiverse with at least one universe (which then sustains speculation about other universes). That support condition leads to the secondary requirement of a posteriori confirmation to connect a priori conclusions to our particular universe without a hanging dependence on unconfirmed universes.
5. "Non-temporality" is a variation of the a priori multiverse condition that recognizes that Null states (as unactualized form or "Nothing") are indistinguishable across all universes. This uniformity allows for automatic satisfaction of the a posteriori localization requirement, so temporally-generated, experientially-localized, atemporal knowledge about Nothing can simply be reduced to "non-temporal" knowledge. That's how one discusses the origin of the universe and other such topics without becoming mired in excessive qualifiers.
There is a name we have for everything that exists. It is called the universe. There is nothing more than what exists. If the universe is everything, what the hell does it mean to have 2 universes. You have contradictory concepts throughout your worldview.
The only place in the universe knowledge can exist is in a brain or other sufficiently complex representational machine. Two trees in a forest with no observers is not knowledge of two trees. It is just two trees. A person, whether he or she is right next to the tree or somewhere else after seeing tree, can have knowledge of it in their head, but two trees existing is not knowledge of any kind, until integrated by a mind. It is only knowledge when a person recognizes it as validly and truly representing reality. Knowledge independent of a mind is just irrational.
For you to notice your discontinuity of reality you must be outside this reference frame or attempting to peer below the limit of our perception. You cannot properly use your confusion about these conditions to show that the causal law your interpretation and thought depends on is not valid for the parts of this world that we can have valid knowledge about. "See, since I cannot know what is irrational, our process of knowledge acquisition is never certain."
Why must you continue to write about an origin? What do you mean origin? Like a beginning? What beginning?
Change up the words all you like, things only do what is in their nature to do, based on their structure and momentum. This is universally true about things we can have valid knowledge about and when we measure anywhere near the microscopic distance or accuracy limit of our perception is the only place that the world appears to demonstrate discontinuity or randomness, but we do not have and likely cannot have enough information to fully integrate this stuff, therefore, you cannot use the results of your double-slit experiment to negate the very laws that allow you to set up any experiment.
Your sentences do not make sense often; it is hard to follow. You write that statements are atemporal. Right off the bat, I cannot follow since a statement implies and depends of changing thoughts and concepts that are inter-related. All things have change of some sort as a necessary essential characteristic. There is no place knowable that there is no change, even your static qualities, like say, green or greenness, is dependent on time. There can be no greenness or reflection of a particular wavelength of light without temporality. If you are not talking about temporality without time, then use another word. I suspect however, that you are using it as a metaphor and just denying the essentially partially incorrect representation that goes with all metaphor.
We do not speak mumbo-jumbo, so if you wish to make sense, stop making up more and more qualifiers, as you think you are not, and speak plainly. Try to make a sentence that doesn't hold a contradiction in itself.
The question itself, whether or not there is a 'god,' is built on the false premise that there is a supernatural being to begin with. The ontological argument for the existence of 'god' does not even qualify as a hypothesis, because by definition, a hypothesis must be first and foremost testable and falsifiable. That's why all religions are a philosophy, or a strain of biased thought process.
An Atheist may rationalize that the Universe (or a fabric that built Universe(s)) always has been, and always will be (perhaps), so why transpose on top of that observation that there is a magical being built coincidentally like a bipedal hominid that has the exact same properties? Both conjectures lead to an infinite series of non-explanations, so why keep projecting fairy-tales on top of fairy-tales to an already convoluted question? Adding complexity (and silliness) to this or any question does not make the answer any more tenable. Why stop with one 'god'? Why not create one more that created the first one, etc...etc...? It adds nothing.
The question may be framed wrong in the first place. Just because two possibilities are given in the question, doesn't mean that choosing one will produce a proper answer. Chances are, the question is nonsense to begin with. Which came first, the chicken, or the egg? Answer: Neither, it was complex aromatic molecules built in star dust that came first.
Look at the size of our thinking organ compared to the size of the Earth, and then compared to our galaxy. It is utter nonsense to think that our species just happens to be equipped with the computational power to even approach the question in the first place. What I've observed, is that religious philosophies thus far has only projected the human fear of death and a need for primate survival. Any sentient beings in any Universe will always face the same dilemma.
Drake and MCT,
MCT, I never bought the cogito ergo sum thing and I think you are skirting the issue. Sensing something comes first; it is the same problem using yourself to prove yourself.
I suspect that you are correct that even the quantum world is causal but how can we be certain? You attribute the apparent uncertainty to the absence of clarity at the limits of our perception. But that is just a guess, no?
No, I think it is pretty much a fact that we cannot classically measure both the position and momentum of very small things. It is apparent to me that this is the nature of reality, proven by science and consistent with reason. We can be certain that anything that acts or exists obeys causal law because if it didn't we could not assign essential characteristics to things in nature to form concepts, understand our world and communicate about it. Language itself, wouldn't merely break down, it would never have been.
Sensing something, at first appears to come first, sure. But upon further analytical contemplation, sensing something implies the existence of a thing with identity to sense. There is no alteration of matter and energy between an existent's identity and our perception of it. We perceive directly. The photons from an apple have no choice, but to do what they do. All perception is of something. That's what perception is. You cannot have a thought, without first there being a world to think about. A world in which existence starts from consciousness does not make valid sense. It's all right here, I did not skip over it: The first bit of awareness is not that you are thinking. It is of something. Something in reality. You sense first, then you think. It takes a multitude of sensations before you can have thought, or the manipulation and integration of concepts. As such, the very first statement, if you will, or thought you can make or the base of all cognition, epistemology and therefore philosophy is not 'I think therefore I am', but 'there is something I am aware of'. This entails an existent with identity and a consciousness to be aware of it. Existence comes before consciousness. There is one reality and we perceive it. Our view is subjective, but the world itself is not.