Property of Hardness

Recently I put the following question to two persons both of whom are atheists:

“Can you name a single thing in nature that has the property of hardness but that is not hard itself?” 

Reply from one person was this: “That does not make sense.”

However the second person’s reply was that it is sand. After getting this reply I wrote back to him again:

“So you are saying that sand has the property of hardness although it is not hard itself. As sand is not hard itself and as despite that it has the property of hardness, so do you think it has received this property of hardness from something outside of it?”

Perhaps my reply alarmed him somehow and so he changed his stand immediately. He wrote back to me this:

“I would like you to stop for a moment and think about what you are saying.

“Single grain of sand is hard. On scale of hardness it is about 6-7 I think. But the sand itself, consisting from millions of grains is not that hard.

“So that philosophical thing you were trying to say is just… not relevant I think.”

After getting this reply I further wrote back to him:

“My question to you was this: can you name a single thing in nature that has the property of hardness but that is not hard itself?

“And your reply was this: sand.

“Although I was shocked by your reply, yet I did not express my shock. Rather I wanted to proceed with whatever you have said as a reply. A hard thing will have the property of hardness simply because it is hard and not due to any other reason or factor lying outside of it. But if there is a thing in nature that has the property of hardness but that is not hard itself, then we cannot say the same thing about it that it has the property of hardness because it is hard. In that case we will have to admit that it must have this property of hardness due to some reason or factor lying outside of it.

“Then you made everything clear. You admitted that single grain of sand is hard. So you are also admitting that a thing can have the property of hardness if, and only if, it is hard and not due to any other reason or factor lying outside of it. This is because if something can have the property of hardness due to some reason or factor lying outside of it, then in that case a thing that is not hard itself can also have this property.

“Now what I am going to write is for the sake of argument only. I am not asserting anything here.

“Let us now suppose that what is really impossible has actually become possible, that there is a thing in nature that has the property of hardness but that is not hard itself. In that case what will we have to conclude from this? We will have to conclude that the thing in question must have received this so-called property of hardness from something external to it (say A). Now it may be the case that A has also received this property from B, B has received it from C and so on ad infinitum. So here there will be an infinite regress. In order to stop this infinite regress we will have to ultimately posit the existence of a hard thing in nature from which the thing in question could have received its property of hardness.

“That means if we find a thing in nature that has the property of hardness but that is not hard itself, then that thing will give us the evidence that there is at least one hard thing in nature.

“Am I clear up to this point?”

The above appeared to him as probability babble and he expressed his impatience to waste time in probability babble.

Now I want to know what should be the take of a rational person on this? If there is a thing in nature that has the property of hardness but that is not hard itself, then can we not conclude from this that that thing is giving us the evidence that there is at least one hard thing in nature?

 

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