Brute facts as pointers to cosmological arguments

Science doesn’t reduce everything to brute facts: diabetes does not reduce to an autoimmune attack on T-cells from the ATP/P2X7R pathway as a brute fact but because that’s what diabetes is, likewise with the reduction of malaria to a parasite. There are other times when things are reduced to brute facts, like when the motion of one part of a system is explained by the motion of another part, or the time of one clock is coordinated with the time of another. There are good reasons for this sort of reduction – namely the unification of many phenomena to some primary instance – but they are to be divided from the sort of explanation that actually tells us what something is. But if explanations should reduce to seeing what something is, and brute facts are sometimes appropriate ultimate explanations of physical things, then Brute facts are appropriate explanations only when the what-something-is is non-physical. We take some mover as a brute fact because the First Mover transcends the physical; we take some cause in a physical system as a brute fact because the First Cause likewise is supernatural; we take the conserved (and therefore necessary) existence of matter, momentum, energy, etc. as brute facts because what is necessary in itself is not and cannot be a physical being. Such facts, therefore, are the opposite of an alternative to a cosmological argument. They indicate the physical being proximate to divine causality, in exactly the same way as Aristotle’s primum mobile is the physical being proximate to the First Unmoved Mover.


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