The Instigator
Paradigm_Lost
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
beem0r
Con (against)
Winning
24 Points

An teleological and ontological question

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/11/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,543 times Debate No: 3599
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (11)

 

Paradigm_Lost

Pro

Following the train of logic, does the summary below indicate that the universes' existence have a purpose and does it uncover intent? If so, what are some of its philosophical implications?

"1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.

2. The universe began to exist.

2.1 Argument based on the impossibility of an actual infinite.

2.11 An actual infinite cannot exist.

2.12 An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.

2.13 Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.

2.2 Argument based on the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition.

2.21 A collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite.

2.22 The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition.

2.23 Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence."
beem0r

Con

You didn't really make it clear what you were arguing for and what you expected my position to be, so I will simply attack the argument you put forth.

The logic is completely sound, but that does not mean it is a good argument.

"1. All men are retarded.
2. I am a man.
3. Therefore, I must be retarded."

This is logically true, but it is false in reality. This is because I use a false premise. Premise 1 is simply a lie. 3 is a conclusion drawn from a lie, and therefore it is not necessarily true (it could be, though, but I assure you it isn't).

Now, I will attempt to show why the argument you provided is inherently flawed.

First, premise 1 is somewhat ambiguous. It may be true that when moving through time, the next moment will always be based off something earlier, something that has caused it. Our observation of this is consistent. however, our observation of this is limited to viewing things on a timeline. What about before time existed? Our only concept of a cause is something that happens 'before' something else, and leads to that something else. However, this means absolutely nothing when we remove time as we know it from the equation.

2.11 says that an actual infinite cannot exist. This is speculation, there is no data from which this conclusion can be logically drawn.

2.13 relies on 2.11, and is therefore not necessarily true.

2.21 relies on 2.11 and 2.13, so it is invalid. (If either an actual infinite or an infinite regress of events could exist, than an actual infinite could come about through addition.)

2.23 relies on 2.21, so it it invalid.

2 relies on a bunch of invalid premises, therefore it is invalid.

3 relies on 2 and 1, both invalid premises, so it it invalid.

Keep in mind that even removing one premise from the argument would invalidate the argument. I, however, have shown that most of these premises are without warrant. 2.12 and 2.22 were the only premises I did not disagree with.

For the reason that it is an invalid argument, this argument has no implications whatsoever. It does not indicate a purpose to the universe, nor would it if it was valid.

I suppose I look forward to hearing what my opponent has to say. As I said, I'm unsure if this is what he was expecting, but the debate resolution is not very clear about what the sides are arguing, and my opponent's opening round did not have a real stance behind it that I could see. Hopefully he can clear that up for me.
Debate Round No. 1
Paradigm_Lost

Pro

Thanks for your response. I look forward to the debate.

"PREMISE 1 IS SOMEWHAT AMBIGUOUS. IT MAY BE TRUE THAT WHEN MOVING THROUGH TIME, THE NEXT MOMENT WILL ALWAYS BE BASED OFF SOMETHING EARLIER, SOMETHING THAT HAS CAUSED IT."

There is no ambiguity, or at least there shouldn't be. Allow me to explain why. Everything that exists only exists because of a specific cause. And of that cause, it is outside of itself. What do I mean? Anything that exists in the material universe has to attribute its existence to something outside of itself. For instance, you did not simply spontaneously generate without cause. Your parents had sex, spermatozoa and ovum united, you incubated for nine months, and out you came.

I naturally defy you to prove that anything in the known universe can exist outside of a cause.

"WHAT ABOUT BEFORE TIME EXISTED"

A nominal familiarity with physics will demonstrate that time, matter, and space are intimately connected; and not just intimately connected, but homologous. If time does not exist, then space cannot exist either. If there is no space, then there is no material object to exist within, because all material takes up space. Where (space) does it exist? When (time) does it exist? You obviously can't have one without the other.

This is why the inflationary big bang model was an important theorem. Hubble demonstrated that time, space, and matter could be traced back to a singularity. The universe in which we live had a beginning, and all observable data testifies to that.

"2.11 SAYS THAT AN ACTUAL INFINITE CANNOT EXIST. THIS IS SPECULATION."

Its not speculation on my part if an actual infinite has never been demonstrated, and indeed can't. In fact, all the speculation to the contrary is stemming from you. Since I cannot give evidence of a negative in positive way, meaning: if something does not exist, then I cannot prove the non-existence of something, then you taking the positive position in affirming that it is speculation, the burden of proof therefore lies with you to demonstrate it.

"IF AN ACTUAL INFINITE OR AN INFINITE REGRESS OF EVENTS COULD EXIST, THAN AN ACTUAL INFINITE COULD COME ABOUT THROUGH ADDITION."

No, it cannot and this is why: Its a simple deduction. If you can add or subtract to anything, then it isn't an actual infinite. You can't have infinity + 1 or 2 or 3, right? And because you and I were born, there is not an infinite amount of people. It's important to distinguish between an actual infinite from a potential infinite. An actual infinite is a collection of things having a proper subset which has the same number of members as the original collection itself. In contrast, an actual infinite is not like a potential infinite, which is a collection of every point in time finite, but is growing toward infinity as a limit. In other words, a potential infinite can exist, but an actual infinite as it applies to time/space/matter/energy does not exist.

"KEEP IN MIND THAT EVEN REMOVING ONE PREMISE FROM THE ARGUMENT WOULD INVALIDATE THE ARGUMENT"

I suppose that it would invalidate it supposing that any of your objections were proven to be true. Alas, they weren't, as I have demonstrated. You have neglected to refute any of the arguments. You've simply raised ambiguous objections without demonstration and without introducing wild speculation. I have demonstrated through the laws of physics and mathematics that your objections are false.

I want to thank CON again for accepting the debate. The debate looks very promising.
beem0r

Con

In combating my response to premise 1, my opponent has challenged me to show one thing in the known universe that can exist without a cause. This would be impossible in one respect, since everything we have observed at least would seem to have a cause. However, I will provide an argument based on something we should be very familiar with by now.

2.11 An actual infinite cannot exist.
2.12 An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.

If we agree with these above premises, then there cannot be an infinite chain of causes. There must be some "first cause." Therefore, by my opponent's own argument, things do not necessarily require causes. And if we are to accept my opponent's reasoning for why the universe must have began to exist, we can also apply the same line of reasoning to this "first cause."

2.11 States that an actual infinity cannot exist. My opponent says that it is my burden to show that an actual infinite can exist. However, this is untrue. My opponent is the one making the claim. It would be ridiculous to ask me to provide an example, because humans have no means by which to observer physical or temporal infinities. Do you really expect there to be data about infinite regresses of temporal events? It's obvious to someone who thinks for even a second that if these did exist, we would not have chronicles of them. My opponent is simply saying "I have no examples of them, so they CAN'T exist!" This is bad reasoning, especially when used with something we could not have data for if it did exist.

My opponent then, for some reason, tries to argue against my statement that "If either an actual infinite or an infinite regress of events could exist, than an actual infinite could come about through addition." (yes, I used the wrong then)

He then uses an example which has nothing to do with adding actual infinites or adding in an infinite regress of events.
I'll spell it out though. If an actual infinite can exist, adding X + an infinite creates an infinite. If an infinite regress of events is possible, then simply adding something over this regress creates an infinite. Heck, to make it more simple, the infinite regress, as it goes from start to end, just add one for every step. You'll get infinite. I was simply showing that without premises 2.11 (and 2.13 through it), premise 2.21 does not work. If my rebuttal of 2.11 ends up invalid, then so does this. Since it doesn't matter HOW MANY of the premises are invalid, there's no use defending against this point, since it requires that I've already shown that 2.11 is a premise without valid warrant.

So basically, I have 2 independent points. First, I have shown that by my opponent's reasoning, there must be a first cause (since an infinite regress of causes could not exist). To not be temporally infinite, it must have began. By my opponent's own arguments, this means that it must have had a cause, which it doesn't by definition. This is internal inconsistency, and an internally inconsistent argument cannot be entirely valid.

Next, I believe I have shown that 2.11 is a presumptuous assertion. It has no valid warranting, since even if in actual infinite was possible, we would not be capable of observing them, due to our many finite limitations.
Debate Round No. 2
Paradigm_Lost

Pro

"THERE CANNOT BE AN INFINITE CHAIN OF CAUSES. THERE MUST BE SOME "FIRST CAUSE." THEREFORE, BY MY OPPONENT'S OWN ARGUMENT, THINGS DO NOT NECESSARILY REQUIRE CAUSES."

Ah, young grasshopper, you are wise beyond your years! :) I absolutely agree that philosophically there needs to be a First Cause. I do not deny that in the slightest. What I challenge is whether there is a naturalistic explanation that doesn't ultimately lead to an infinite regress -- essentially, a constant deferring of ultimate causation.

For instance, lets state the obvious truth here without injecting any theological or metaphysical speculation first. Lets assume momentarily that all life can be attributed to natural causes. But there is a conundrum here. Allow me to break it down:

As I stated earlier an actual infinite cannot exist in the universe by virtue of the fact that you cannot add to an infinite. Being that there is nothing in infinite quantity, we knew, at least philosophically, that the universe surely had a beginning. When Hubble's "Red Shift" discovery was made known it basically proved through hard observation that the universe had a definite beginning. But how?

If all physics is essentially cause and effect, reducing precipitating causes leads us to one cause -- the First Cause. Nothing tangible has ever been demonstrated to exist without cause. Moreover, the cause for anything that exists is always outside of itself -- meaning, nothing that exists could create itself before it existed. Seems axiomatic enough.

So for a long time now, we have just had to settle that all we know is what is referred to as "Planck's Time" (10 to the -43 seconds after the universe began). What happened prior to the singularity is not known empirically. Some speculation has been raised in order to get around it. For instance, I thought of a way to get around it without injecting some theological suppositions. What I came up with is a multiverse theory (note that I was not original in this. Other people apparently thought of this long before me, but I did surmise such a theory independent of my knowledge of it).

Anyhow, I thought to myself, we live in a universe -- strong emphasis on the prefix "uni." Uni, as a prefix, means "one." Obviously the prefix "multi" means many. So I thought that it were conceivable that the universe we live in, as vast as it is, could be but one of many, and that the end of another universe could have been the beginning of ours. A dying universe in the death throes of a Big Crunch, with completely different laws of physics could have existed before our preconditions. The death of that universe could have spawned this universe, the one in which you and I live.

As attractive as it sounded theoretically, I realized that I was leading myself in to a trap of sorts. I was appealing to an infinite regress. In essence, I was still not answering the "First Cause" question. I was merely delaying it like everyone else, and so I was no closer to unraveling the mystery than when I began the quest.

I then endeavored to answer Ockham's Razor. If the simplest answer tends to be the correct one, then the easiest answer is that whatever the first cause is, it must be outside of the realm of physics. The First Cause is the creator of physics and is therefore not subject to it.

"MY OPPONENT SAYS THAT IT IS MY BURDEN TO SHOW THAT AN ACTUAL INFINITE CAN EXIST. HOWEVER, THIS IS UNTRUE. MY OPPONENT IS THE ONE MAKING THE CLAIM. IT WOULD BE RIDICULOUS TO ASK ME TO PROVIDE AN EXAMPLE."

It would be more ridiculous for me to prove a negative. What do I mean? If something doesn't exist, I can in no way prove that it doesn't exist. If you assert that it does, WHICH YOU HAVE, then you must provide a reason why that it is true since you are taking the positive position on that.

"MY OPPONENT IS SIMPLY SAYING, "I HAVE NO EXAMPLES OF THEM, SO THEY CAN'T EXIST!"

I am saying that there is no reason to assume anything to the contrary. The reason we call them the "laws" of physics is because they are timeless, changeless, constant, etc. They don't yield to anything other than its own rules. That isn't bad logic, that's testable observation! What you appear to be doing is lazy debate. Your argument amounts to, "well, I can't disprove anything you've said, so I'll rely on the conceptual possibility and then demand that my opponent refute a negative." That's bad reasoning. I think I was being reasonable.

"IF AN ACTUAL INFINITE CAN EXIST, ADDING X + AN INFINITE CREATES AN INFINITE."

Ah, but that is the best indication to know that such cannot exist as an actual infinite, only as a potential infinite. Secondly, you are putting the cart before the horse. You are placing 2.13 before 2.11 and 2.12.

"I HAVE SHOWN THAT BY MY OPPONENT'S REASONING, THERE MUST BE A FIRST CAUSE."

There is no contention with that. In fact, that was going to be my next point. I agree completely that there has to be a First Cause. My question to you is can you have a First Cause in the material universe without deferring to infinite regressions in order to make your claim?

"I BELIEVE I HAVE SHOWN THAT 2.11 IS A PRESUMPTUOUS ASSERTION."

Supposing it were, would it somehow be less presumptuous than the myriad of intransigent speculations you've made? You've basically stated that the laws of physics aren't really laws, which is patently absurd.

But lets take a look at 2.11 again. An actual infinite cannot exist. There is nothing in the universe to demonstrate this whatsoever. First, it totally undermines the Big Bang, secondly it scoffs at well-attested observation, and it lacks cogency within a philosophical context.

Besides the observable evidence that the universe had a beginning, what are some other ways to logically determine that it cannot be infinite. An infinite universe would not be able to be added to since infinity encompasses all areas, has and would have an infinite number of matter. This is not the case.

Not even time, space, and matter existed prior to the singularity. So not only is it impossible for it to have come by way of some naturalistic explanation in actuality, it does not even have the potential to do so. Why?

Conventional wisdom simply cannot account for it. The casual inference of man in his understanding is based on the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come from absolutely nothing. A pure potentiality cannot, in it's own right, actualize itself. In the case of the universe, whether we speak of boundary lines, fixed points or the infinite, there was not anything prior, to the singularity.

If you can manage to sift through the rhetoric and get passed all of the fluff, the underlying naturalistic message is: 0 + 0 = everything. Because the materialist cannot account for such an inequality he must ultimately rely on infinite regressions. Speaking about Planck's Time in regards to the First Cause question, renown astrophysicist Stephen Hawking one stated, "What's north of the north pole?" In essence, he is implying that anything before the singularity is inconsequential. Is that really the case? I think to state with a straight face that something comes from nothing is intellectual and scientific heresy. In his defense, however, I agree that quantum indeterminacy is a given because no one was there to view it. We cannot know with Newtonian precision what happened prior to Planck's time. My issue, however, is not that we cannot know definitively what happened. My issue is that to disregard it and view it as unimportant is extremely neglectful.

I am looking forward to your next reply and any future debates we might have had. And if it means anything, I am glad that you picked this topic. I see that you are a thinker, and it is much appreciated. Thanks for your participation.
beem0r

Con

Rather than summarizing everything, I will simply go over one thing.

To say that the universe must have been caused is a bit like saying whatever caused the universe must have been caused. Without the universe, there was no time. Without time, we have no way of knowing whether or not causation exists. Any and all observations of causality we have rely on time. Something can only cause something, as far as we know, if it is BEFORE it. Since there would be nothing BEFORE the universe (since time wasn't around), it does not require a cause.
One of the main points of my opponent's argument was that the universe needed a cause. However, for the same reason that a 'first cause' wouldn't need a cause, the universe does not need a cause. Only things that happen in the context of time require a cause, and the universe was created outside the context of time.

Sorry for the long wait and the short conclusion, I've been busy with other stuff and not too motivated to respond to this debate. It was engaging though, so thanks for the debate.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by beem0r 9 years ago
beem0r
Or a non-temporal non-causality. I was simply trying to show that without time, causation is meaningless. Perhaps our time itself came about without a cause; there certainly wasn't anything 'before' it to cause it.

Regardless, it was a somewhat bulky point, so I didn't really hold onto it so tight in my round 2.
Posted by Bitz 9 years ago
Bitz
Also keep in mind the "What about before time?" Is in itself, an illogical question since before in itself is a word used to desctibe a position in time, Unless one can prove a non-temporal causality, which is somewhat hard to do...
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