Hi i'm Josh and I am new to Atheist Republic.
I am a Theist but want to learn more about Atheism, especially about its response to the Kalam Cosmological Argument. I'm sure this is an argument most of us have heard of before and would like to hear some of your responses to it. In case anyone does not know the argument, it goes like this:
1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause
2) The universe began to exist
3) Therefore, the universe has a cause
To further explain premise one, it is important to understand the Law of Causality, which means that every effect in our universe has a cause. Nowhere in our universe do things move, change, or begin to exist without a cause. Also, it is impossible to have a being come from a non-being (by being I mean something that has existence). In other words, every being that has a beginning is dependent upon another being for its existence.
Premise two is based in various scientific discoveries and principals. These include the Second Law of Thermodynamics, universal red shift, radiation afterglow, galaxy seeds, and the logical impossibility of infinite regress. These can easily be found online so I wont go into detail but am happy to explain if needed.
With these two premises, the conclusion must be that the universe had a cause for its existence. Understand that I am not arguing that this cause is God but this cause must be uncaused, outside of, and independent of the universe. I am curious about your responses and open to discussion/ any questions you may have.
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Argument seems trivially valid; but I'm skeptical of both postulates.
Re: What "caused" our universe?
...*handing over plaque*... Here is your Trophy of Participation. Thank you for playing. Next contestant, please.... *round of applause from audience*...
@Josh: Kalam: The Kalam is the most useless argument theists have come up with in centuries. It never mentions a God. It gets you no place close to a magical creator being.
1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause: "White Swan Fallacy"
This is a temporal assertion. Everything that we know of, seems to have a cause. What is the cause of particles called gluons, randomly popping into existence and disappearing again? What is the cause of the universe? There are obviously things that seem to begin about which we do not know the causes. Because you have never seen anything begin without a cause, does not mean nothing has ever begun without a cause.
But - for the sake of argument - let's pretend that everything that begins to exist has a cause. .... I will concede point one.
2. The Universe Began to exist? Really? How do you know this? Even if I concede the first point, how did you determine the universe began to exist? How do you rule out an infinite universe. How did you rule out a universe created from an existing cosmos? How did you rule out an eternal universe? Aren't you getting ready to argue something can be eternal and uncreated? Wouldn't that be an utterly stupid argument after you just asserted things can not be eternal and uncreated. Are you getting ready to present a "Special Pleading Fallacy." "The only thing that can be uncreated and without a cause is my god?"
But for the sake of argument lets assume 1. Everything has a cause that began to exist. 2. The universe really did begin to exist. I have given you way more than I need to. Still, I will concede points 1 and 2. Let's look at 3.
3. Therefore the universe has a cause? SO WHAT? It gets you no where near a God. If it does, you will have committed a "God of the gaps Fallacy." How did you rule out all possible natural causes? How did you rule out a race of intelligent Aliens? How did you rule out magic omnipotent Unicorns? How did you rule out Blue Universe Creating Bunnies? How did you rule out the Big Yellow Universe Creating Banana? The Kalam stops here. Right in the middle of nothing? It makes no assertion what so ever about a God. END OF STORY!
You have not proved the universe had a cause and you have certainly not gotten to a God.
RE: "it is impossible to have a being come from a non-being" How in the fuck would you know this? Have you ever seen 'nothing/non-being." Did you ever do an experiment with nothing/non-being? Can you prove "nothing/non-being " is something real? If it was something real, wouldn't it be something? What in the hell are you talking about when you say "non-being/nothing." If you are referring the mathematical nothing or the philosophical nothing, they are mental constructs that have not yet appeared anyplace in reality. What are you talking about when you assert "IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE A BEING COME FROM NOTHING/NON-BEING." your assertion makes no sense at all. Prove a "non-being or nothing " is real. The boogie man lives under my bed but it is "nothing/non-being. It has no effect on me or the world around me and is responsible for nothing.
RE: Premise two has NOTHING AT ALL DO DO WITH the Second Law of Thermodynamics, universal red shift, radiation afterglow, galaxy seeds, or the logical impossibility of infinite regress. It is an inane assertion.
RE: Red Shift is used to assert the expansion of the universe --- NOT ITS CREATION.
RE: The ‘afterglow of creation’ – commonly known as the cosmic background radiation – is the left-over heat from the fireball of the big bang in which the Universe was born 13.7 billion years ago. DO YOU UNDERSTAND, THE BIG BANG IS NOT THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE. IT IS THE "EXPANSION OF THE UNIVERSE AFTER CREATION." YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND BIG BANG COSMOLOGY AT ALL. THE BIG BANG SAYS NOTHING ABOUT A UNIVERSE FROM NOTHING. IT SAYS NOTHING ABOUT WHERE EVERYTHING CAME FROM OR WHETHER OR NOT IT WAS ALL ORIGINALLY HERE IN A SINGULARITY. IT ONLY ASSERTS THAT THE UNIVERSE BEGAN TO EXPAND.
RE: "logical impossibility of infinite regress" I WILL DO YOU A FAVOR: "The operative principle in the Cosmological Argument is that if each cause of A were itself in need of a cause, then no cause of A could exist and hence A itself could not exist. Since A does exist and does need a cause, it follows that not all of A’s causes are in need of a cause. In other words the need for causes must come to an end: there must be or have been a cause that was not itself in need of a cause.
Kai Neilsen and a number of other philosophers such as Paul Edwards and Ronald Hepburn reject this argument. They see no reason why an endless series of caused causes could not do the same job that is done by a series ending with an uncaused cause.
YOUR PROBLEM HERE IS THAT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND INFINITIES. INFINITY IS NOT A NUMBER BUT AN IDEA.
If a series were literally infinite, there would be no need for there to be a first cause to get the causal order started, for there would always be a causal order since an infinite series can have no first member."
RE: "With these two premises, the conclusion must be that the universe had a cause for its existence." NOT EVEN CLOSE ---
THE SHORT ANSWER TO ALL OF THIS IS SIMPLE - You have not met your burden of proof. The argument is fallacious at its core and there STILL is no good reason to believe in God or Gods.
A universe from nothing is quite likely --- plausible ----- NOT FACT ---- WHAT WE MEAN BY 'SOMETHING' AND 'NOTHING' HAS COMPLETELY CHANGED.
1. We can only apply cause and effect within the temporal condition of the known physical universe, and not to unknown conditions existing prior to the big bang. Thus this premise is little more than unevidenced assumption, dressed up as scientifically valid. It should also be noted that not once has a supernatural cause for anything been evidenced, so an odd contradiction there as well to use inductive reasoning to try and claim a cause that the law of cause and effect has never evidenced even once.
2. The universe and time as it is being applied in the KCA had a point if origin, this is not the same as the law of cause and effect positing a start, as time did not exist prior to the big bang.
3. This predicates an endless loop, unless we simply assume an "uncaused cause", which of course is precisely what this argument does. Indeed many would point out it's what it is intended to do.
Of course even if one accepts this shaky argument with its flawed misuse of cause and effect, it doesn't argue for a deity, and apologists like William Lane Craig simply make a string of assumptions at this point to add the deity from their a priori religious beliefs.
Most tellingly of course is that science doesn't support this argument at all, though apologists like to pretend this is not the case. Where science points out they don't know, religion forges ahead with pure assumption that favours their chosen beliefs.
How often have we seen religious apologists greet an admission of not knowing with gleeful triumphalism, as if this somehow validates their own unevidenced claims. This of course is no more than an argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy, a god of the gaps polemic, nothing more.
Including unevidenced assumptions about characteristics of an unevidenced deity in the argument for that deity is also of course a begging the question fallacy.
So two known logical fallacies at least, means this argument is irrational as well as having no scientific basis since it makes unevidenced assumptions and appeals to supernatural causation that is neither evidenced nor has any explanatory powers whatsoever.
I'm sure the argument hold some philosophical merit for the thinking of the epoch it was first created. However in a contemporary setting its flaws are all too evident, and shows why science has superseded its precursor of philosophy as our best method of explaining and understanding reality.
I don't see too much wrong in what you're trying to assert, given you haven't specifically committed the god of the gaps fallacy.
However, It must be noted that whilst everything does appear to have a cause, they are all tied to the following conditions:
- Naturalistic causation
- Follow the laws of nature
- Follow the laws of physics
In order to even consider the god hypothesis, one must demonstrate that supernatural phenomena is objectively true and can be demonstrated.
Many theists (I being one myself in my past), find the Kalam argument persuasive as it is simple and understandable.
However, on closer inspection it begs far more questions then it actually answers.
Such as, What was the mechanics involved in that first moment? Why would this entity even bother?
Given that our lives, like our planet and our home star are all finite, isn't it pointless?
I'm very fond of Occam's razor. That's probably because I'm a weak philosopher so need to keep things as simple as possible . I apologise in advance if wiser heads are able to dismantle my response, or explain why I've been a bit too simple :.
Your syllogism is logically valid, but untrue.
Logic is not a reliable tool to determine truth.
All rules of inference begin the same; IF------
The inference of your syllogism is true IF AND ONLY IF the premise is true.
Your premise "Everything that begins to exist has a cause" has not been proved to be true
.At least one competent physicist argues us the universe came from nothing .Can't claim to understand the physic but claim sees to be true . A single exception invalidates your syllogism .
The video linked below features Lawrence Krauss,. It is introduced by Richard Dawkins, but don't hold that against him :
The better argument is, what is nothing? can you describe or simply put, can you point to it?
Of course not, we have absolutely no concept of what actual 'nothing' really is.
Also the terminology Krauss uses, "Virtual particles popping in and out of existence", makes me uncomfortable.
Because are they really popping in and out of existence? or is that a claim that is just privileging the observer.
I would argue that they are in a super-positon and to even ask where the virtual particle is, would be the wrong question to ask.
I take your point about privileging the observer , I think that's what I've done. I think it's it's intellectually dishonest of me to accept an argument, and then admit I don't understand as if that validates my position. It doesn't.
So where am I now? I think it's acceptable to argue that the premise of the syllogism has not been proved as a principle. in that there seem to be doubts.
Is it an argument from authority to accept there is another theory from a physicist which needs to be properly considered?
I have a headache.
I don't believe it to be an argument from authority in that particular case.
If you argued that, "X has to be correct because Y says so and he/she is an expert in their field".
That would be the logical fallacy.
But showing there is evidence to the contrary is perfectly valid as a position to take,
Furthermore, I wouldn't say Krauss is wrong btw, just his way of putting it across to an audience.
But perhaps that is simply done to make things more understandable.
@Josh: Here is a side thought for you. The Kalam was originally made to prove the existence of Allah. "Kalam" Does it sound like a Christian name? If your argument can prove any other god, other than the god you are asserting exists. it is a fallacious argument. Christians stole the Kalam from the Muslims. The Arabic term Kalām means "speech, word, utterance" among other things, and its use regarding Islamic theology is derived from the expression "Word of God" (Kalām Allāh) found in the Qur'an.
Josh, you will have to prove all three steps.
I do not get past the first step, because how can one define "nothing"?
And even if all three propositions are true, that does not prove a god, it just proves the known universe came out of nothing.
@David Killens: He he he he ... "Why didn't I just say it that way?" I have way to much time on my hands,
Josh, I’ll comment on just one thing you wrote, “Nowhere in our universe do things move, change, or begin to exist without a cause.”
You have data to back up this assertion? Please share it with us.
You are committing a "straw man" fallacy by misinterpreting my argument. The first premise says "Everything that BEGINS to exist has a cause" and yet you say "you just asserted things can not be eternal and uncreated." It is everything that has a beginning that has a cause -- not everything. You are refuting an argument I did not make.
To answer your question, I have ruled out the possibility of an infinite universe because it is logically impossible. I found the link you sent very interesting but I find it problematic. Neilson argues that a series still has causal order even without a first cause because it is "literally infinite" but we would never reach today if it was literally infinite. To explain-- if the universe has always existed, then an infinite number of moments must have existed before today. This would mean that we could never reach today. Since today is here, there cannot be an infinite number of moments before today because today represents the end of a moment in history. Think of it as an endless bridge in which there are an infinite number of planks between you and the other side. You will never reach the other side (today) because it is an infinite series. Once again, today is here which marks the end of a moment. Even if the infinite series has causal order like Neilson said, we would never reach today. Because of this, infinite regress is still impossible.
Finally, I have not committed a "God of the gaps" fallacy because I never said this cause was a god. In my last paragraph, I specifically said "Understand that I am not arguing that this cause is God but this cause must be uncaused, outside of, and independent of the universe." I never said I was arguing for the God of the Bible, simply for an uncaused first cause. This cause may very well be aliens or unicorns. The Cosmological Argument never asserts the cause is God. The argument is simply proving that an infinite regress is impossible, as show by the paragraph above.
"The argument is simply proving that an infinite regress is impossible, as show by the paragraph above."
As I move my finger to type in a letter, it moves half-way towards the keyboard. In one half of the previous time, my finger moved one half of the remaining distance. In one half the previous time, my finger moved one half of the remaining distance. In .. shit, my finger touched the key, and a letter was entered.
Oh well, so much for this infinite regress crap, I just beat your laws of physics and logic.
That isn't always true. There are ways to set up a problem like this where you can cross an infinite number of locations in a finite amount of time; not unlike what David Killens mentioned above.
@Josh: I made no such assertion. Whatever the hell you think you are reading is not what was written. Do you understand English?
Re: "The universe is logically impossible." You are ignorantly repeating a talking point. Prove it!
RE: Read it again. I NEVER STATED YOU MADE A GOD OF THE GAPS FALLACY. Your problem is that you do not know how to read/ Pull your panties out of your ass, stop being defensive.
RE: The argument is simply proving that an infinite regress is impossible.
The argument does no such thing. It only asserts that an infinite regress is impossible.
This is an atheist forum. If you want to go and argue with the experts on your possibility of infinite regression, go visit a physics forum.
All 3 of the premise can be rejected. If the premise is wrong, the conclusion is wrong..... (Unless of course you get amazingly lucky.)
"I have ruled out the possibility of an infinite universe because it is logically impossible."
Please explain why.
You'd need to offer some evidence for that assertion. You'd also need to explain why this logic doesn't rule out an infinite deity. After all we know it is possible for a universe to exist, the same cannot be said of any deity.
This assumes the universe existed always in it's current state, we know this is not the case, as time as we now understand it did not exist prior to the big bang. Your reasoning would of course also apply to a deity, and again it's a poor argument if all you do is wave this away with unevidenced assumptions about the nature of that deity. You could use such assumptions to logically imply the existence of literally anything.
Then it was pretty misleading (see quote below) to addressed your argument specifically to atheists in your OP?
That's unevidenced assumption, how do you know there were not several causes prior to the one you're assuming "caused" the universe we currently observe? Also how do you claim to know the universe in it's current state was not caused by whatever state existed before it? The scientific world would be eager to share your knowledge I'd bet.
Already lots of real good responses so I will keep mine real short.
1. You mention law of causality, when you describe it you say "everything in our universe"
Key word "In" So by definition you just excluded the universe itself, just everything within the universe as it is now. Also as science advances, it is increasingly challenging the law of causality, the law may soon have enough exceptions that the "law" collapses entirely.
2. That is an assertion without any proof. Basically your number 2 point is meaningless. Many other possibilities are as equally valid here. This is not a point at all, but instead is: gibberish, child speak, uninformed, etc.
3. Well since number 1 is in big trouble, number 2 is a blank assertion that is meaningless point 3, the: "therefore" part is invalid since it is not supported by points 1 and especially point 2.
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The "law of causality" is not a scientific law. It is an assertion by some philosophers (who generally don't even agree on what exact form this law should take).
@Nyarlathotep: Law of Causality: ?? Thanks! I didn't know that. I am off to do a bit of research. Another flaw in the cosmological argument. I am off to hit the books.
@Nyarlathotep: Are you referencing "Top Down Causality?" Top-down causation refers to the effects on components of organized systems that cannot be fully analyzed in terms of component-level behavior but instead requires reference to the higher-level system itself....
LOL - If not... I still found some really interesting stuff to read and a couple of cool videos.
While it is argued that causality breaks down in the top down model, most of science still follows the reductionist bottom up model.
If this is not what you are talking about, let me know and please cite a reference.
I'm guessing that isn't what was meant by the OP's usage of "law of causality", but like you, I can't be sure. I'm guessing it is just the mantra "everything has a cause", that creationists like to endorse; whom immediately make special exceptions to try to exclude their deity from that statement.
So sorry I can't cite a reference; if I had a reference, I wouldn't be grasping at these straws!
@Nyarlathotep: No Problem.... I still know of no cause for gluons. They just pop in and out of existence for no apparent reason at all.
"At the quantum scale, space is a writhing, frantic, ever-changing foam, with particles popping into existence and disappearing in the wink of an eye. This is not just a theoretical idea—it's confirmed."
A singularity is also at the quantum level. "Even though in classical physics we are taught that energy is conserved, which means it cannot change, one of the tenets of quantum mechanics says that energy doesn't have to be conserved if the change happens for a short enough time. So even if space had zero energy, it would be perfectly OK for a little energy to pop into existence for a tiny split second and then disappear—and that's what happens in empty space. "
Empty space is not empty - it is teeming with energy and activity.
I was going to suggest that photons are just as nuts (and give a real world example we've all see), but I'll let Feynman do it (I'd recommend watching 10 mins from the video position I linked below):
Josh: "With these two premises, the conclusion must be that the universe had a cause for its existence. Understand that I am not arguing that this cause is God but this cause must be uncaused, outside of, and independent of the universe. I am curious about your responses and open to discussion/ any questions you may have."
There is nothing in the Kalam which asserts that the first cause must be uncaused.
Thank you for your input.
"Aren't you getting ready to argue something can be eternal and uncreated? Wouldn't that be an utterly stupid argument after you just asserted things can not be eternal and uncreated." Once again, I am repeating what you said straight out of the text. I am making sure you understand that something MUST be eternal and uncreated if a being is dependent on something for its existence. Said another way, there must be a being that is identical to existence itself. Another way to explain this is the Argument from Dependency. Every being that begins to exist is called a "dependent being" because it is dependent upon a prior existing being. Beings that exist (like you and me) have both potentiality and actuality. They have the potential to exist and they actually exist. But, their actual existence is reliant upon a prior existing being that is already in actuality and then acted to cause them to exist. Dependent beings, by definition, cannot bring themselves into existence -- there must be an independent being that exists and acted to bring the first dependent being into existence. This being is also known as pure actuality -- it just is existence itself. There is absolute no potential for it to exist because it is identical to existence. Think of a individual suspending chain link. It is dependent on another link in order to hang, but an infinite number of the same kind of link cannot explain the suspension (this would be an infinite regress). There must be a link different from the rest to ground the whole chain (a pure actual being). This argument is very philosophical and can be difficult to digest but it is important to understand, as it is a stronger argument than the big bang argument from causality.
That is an enormous postulate you are asking us to swallow.
I completely understand. However, this being is necessary to support the existence of dependent beings. There cannot be an endless chain of dependent beings, something must ground their existence (by being I mean something that exists). Something must have pure actuality (existence itself) to actualize the existence of potential beings. This pure actual being is similar to a hook on the ceiling that the dependent chain links hang on.