Bottom-up causality

purity

I realize this is very rough, but I’m just floating an idea for now:

Some people argue for bottom-up causality. That physics (such as the motion of subatomic and atomic particles) causes chemical processes which cause biological processes which cause psychological processes. Something along those lines.

However, this view seems to be in tension with our mind. Human consciousness. That’s because the mind can work in terms of top-down causality.

To take a concrete example, I can will my hand to type a specific sequence of keystrokes on a keyboard to produce this sentence. It’s not the physical forces acting on various subatomic particles telling my hand to move. Or if we go higher up to the molecular and cellular level, it’s not action potentials carrying neuroelectrical signals, neurotransmitters crossing synapses to act on neuronal receptors, and so on telling my hand to move. Rather, my mind is the origin or source of my hand movement. My mind is telling my hand what to do and neuroelectrical signals and so on respond in order to move my hand. That’s top-down causality, not bottom-up causality.

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Meet me in heaven

John Wesley in letter XLII [42] to Charles Wesley on July 10, 1747:

For, to say the truth, I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between these two boundless oceans; and I verily think the daily consideration of both highly becomes all men of reason and religion.

John Donne in sermon CXXVI [126] preached at St. Dunstan’s on April 11, 1624:

What sea could furnish my eyes with tears enough to pour out if I should think that of all this congregation, which looks me in the face now, I should not meet one at the resurrection, at the right hand of God!

Charles Spurgeon in All of Grace:

[M]eet me in heaven! Do not go down to hell. There is no coming back again from that abode of misery. Why do you wish to enter the way of death when heaven’s gate is open before you? Do not refuse the free pardon, the full salvation which Jesus grants to all who trust him. Do not hesitate and delay. You have had enough of resolving, come to action. Believe in Jesus now, with full and immediate decision. Take with you words and come unto your Lord this day, even this day. Remember, O soul, it may be now or never with you. Let it be now; it would be horrible that it should be never. Again I charge you, meet me in heaven!

Why is there something rather than nothing?

leibniz

Steve Hays notes:

Even if (ex hypothesi) the universe is eternal, it may still be contingent.

Good point! I think this is important to highlight.

It seems to me modern cosmological arguments like William Lane Craig’s kalam argument depend on the universe having a beginning. Hence the need for supplemental arguments such as arguments for standard big bang cosmology and arguments against the possibility of an infinite regress.

However, suppose standard big bang cosmology is mistaken. Suppose the universe had no beginning. Suppose it is possible to have an infinite regress. Nevertheless, Leibniz’s famous question remains: why is there something rather than nothing? Why is there an eternal universe rather than nothing?

As an aside, it seems to me it is possible to have an infinite regress at least in theory if not actuality (e.g. Zeno paradoxes).