The Instigator
JonathanCrane
Pro (for)
Losing
5 Points
The Contender
philochristos
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

Big Bang cosmology supports atheism over theism.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
philochristos
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/12/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,882 times Debate No: 34669
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
Votes (4)

 

JonathanCrane

Pro

Ave.

Topic: Big Bang cosmology supports atheism over theism.
Position: Pro/For
Category: Science
Rounds: 4
Voting Period: 1 Week
Time to Argue: 72 Hours
Argument Max: 8,000 Characters
Vote Comments: Yes

I am taking the Pro position. It is my burden to prove that Big Bang cosmology supports atheism over theism. It is the burden of Con to prove that Big Bang cosmology supports theism over atheism. The winner of the argument will be the side that demonstrates their case beyond a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, if 51% of the evidence favors one side, that side should win arguments.

There are four rounds in this debate. The first round is for acceptance of the rules and framework. I will present my opening statement in the subsequent round, and the next rounds will be devoted to rebuttals.

The voting period will be one week.

Each side will have seventy-two hours to post each round. The maximum number of characters is eight thousand.

Using pictures in order to demonstrate concepts is allowed. General expectations of conduct should be followed. I will be taking my argument from a debate I instigated with a different account. Please do not accuse me of plagiarism. It is my own work.

God is defined as the personal being which causes the initial state of the universe.

Vale.
philochristos

Con

Sounds interesting. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
JonathanCrane

Pro

Ave.

I'd like to thank Philo for accepting. I'm actually going to appear on his excellent and informing DDO TV show for an interview. This debate should give us something to talk about for a while! Here's a link to his latest episode if you are interested in watching: http://www.debate.org...

I want to make some important notes before I begin. It is not necessary for me to show that Big Bang cosmology absolutely disproves the existence of god. Rather, I only need to show that Big Bang cosmology tips the scales towards atheism as opposed to theism. My opponent has the burden of doing the opposite. I want to remind the audience that I am not arguing for a universe that was uncaused, or existed eternally. No, my argument is much different from that. I accept the casual principle (everything that begins to exist has a cause) and the metaphysical principle that out of nothing, nothing comes. I will try to demonstrate that, even if the universe had a beginning, and these principles are true, Big Bang cosmology still favors atheism over theism

It will be my position that Big Bang cosmology supports the idea of the universe causing itself. I do not mean this in the sense that X caused X. It is logically impossible for the universe to have caused itself in that way. Rather, I am arguing that the universe caused itself in the sense that Z was caused by Y, which was caused by X, which was caused by W, ad infinitum. Allow me to state the premises of my argument, which is based on Quentin Smith and what is called 'cosmological atheology'. [1]


1: Every state of the universe is caused by another state.


2: If every state of the universe if caused by another state, then an initial state is logically impossible.

3: From 1 and 2, an initial state is logically impossible.

4: From 3, there can be no cause of the initial state.

5: According to the definition of god, god cannot exist.


1: Every state of the universe is caused by another state.



Assume that each of these are a state of the universe, where time equals something different in each state. T=4 is caused by T=3. T-3 is caused by T=2. T=2 is caused by T=1. T=1 is caused by T=.9, ad infinitum.* If you assume that we are living in the trillionth state, or some such large number, you can perform the same exercise, but I prefer to keep this simple. The conclusion of this argument is that there is something because there is something else to cause that something, there is no initial state for god to cause, and therefore, god cannot have caused the universe.


Theists argue that the BB singularity represents a state where T is 0, so there is indeed an initial state that cannot be explained by prior states. They point to the Hawking-Penrose theorem which posits a singularity that the universe came from. However, Hawking and Penrose have withdrawn this theorem a long time ago. Why? They realized that, once you take quantum mechanics into account, there is no need for a singularity. Hawking has this to say in his book A Brief History of Time. [2]


It is perhaps ironic that, having changed my mind, I am now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe--as we shall see later, it can disappear once quantum effects are taken into account.”


Quentin Smith, professor of the philosophy of physics as West Michigan University, also says more.


"
The cosmic singularity is a hypothetical time t=0 at which all the laws of nature, space and time break down. It is hypothetical or merely imaginary because if it did exist, it would be a physically impossible state, due to the breakdown of all laws, even the laws required for time to exist. This breakdown at the hypothetical t=0 implies there is no first instant t=0 of the finitely old time-series and that each instant is preceded by earlier instants." [3]

Therefore, there is no T=0. As you move backward in time, you arrive to a place where there are an infinite number of states that are less than one but not exactly zero. This is because there is no 'first decimal' that comes after zero. Any first state you can think of would, in fact, be preceded by another state, because you can keep halving the number. Consider the first state of the universe, where T=1. There is also a state where T=1/2. Then there is a state where T=1/4. Then there is a state where T=1/8. Then there is a state where T=1/16. You never actually approach an initial state, because this exercise can be performed forever.


One may ask how, if the universe began to exist, such an infinite regress of states is possible. I believe that this question can be satisfactorily answered. The universe began in the sense that there is no state that existed before thirteen billion years ago. There are states that existed after thirteen billion years, but there is no state that existed before thirteen billion years ago. That is the sense in which the universe began to exist.


2: If every state of the universe if caused by another state, then an initial state is logically impossible.


The initial state is a state of the universe. It is distinct from the other states because it is the first one. We’ve established in premise one that every state is caused by another state. It logically follows from this that there cannot be a state that exists which was not caused by another state. If an initial state existed, it would not be caused by another other state. Therefore, an initial state is logically impossible.


(This is my support for premise three as well.)

4: From three, there can be no cause of the initial state.

God is defined as the cause of the initial state of the universe. The initial state is logically impossible given the other premises. God couldn’t have caused the initial state because the initial state is a logically impossible state. In fact, there is nothing that could have caused the initial state, because it’s a logically impossible state.

5: According to the definition of god, god cannot exist.

God is defined as the cause of the initial state. From 4, no such cause can exist. Therefore, god can not exist.

Conclusion
BB cosmology removes the need for a singularity, or a T=0 state. This allows every state of the universe to be cauesd by another state, since there is no initial state that requires explanation. This means that it is logically impossible for god to exist, because there is no initial state for god to create. It also means that the universe is explained naturalistically. Once you have explained every part of the universe, you have explained the whole of the universe. My argument does such a thing without reference to god. Therefore, BB cosmology makes god logically impossible, and allows the universe to be explained naturalistically.

Vale.

References
1: http://plato.stanford.edu...
2: http://en.wikipedia.org...
3: http://www.infidels.org...

Notes
* This is because S4 is contingent upon S3, which is contingent upon S2, which is contingent upon S1, ad infinitum. Each state can only exist if the prior state existed.
philochristos

Con

Thank you, Jonathan, for the plug, and thank you, Audience, for coming to tonight's debate.

Let's dive right in, shall we?

Burden of proof

As stipulated, Pro's burden is to prove that "Big Bang cosmology supports atheism over theism," and my burden is to prove that "Big Bang cosmology supports theism over atheism." It is also stipulated that "God is defined as the personal being which causes the initial state of the universe." There is no stipulation, however, about how "atheism" should be defined, but we still need a definition so we can know whether Pro has carried his burden of proof. There are two possibilities.

  • A lack of belief in God. This is often called "weak atheism.
  • A belief that there is no God. This is often called "strong atheism."


For this debate, we should use the second definition for two reasons:

1. Weak atheism is not a point of view. The resolution implies that atheism is a point of view because it is supposedly supported by big bang cosmology.

2. Strong atheism is explicitly stated in Pro's opening statement. The conclusion of his argument is that "God cannot exist."

So Pro should be attempting to prove that big bang cosmology supports the view that God does not exist.

As a side note, I would like to point out that although the definition of God for the purposes of this debate entails that God caused the initial state of the universe, God need not be defined that way. Many theists believe God is a creator in the sense that he creates each moment, thereby continuously sustaining the universe in existence. Some believe God is a creator in the sense that he organized the universe from pre-existing material. Some believe there need not be an initial state of the universe for God to have created it.

Concessions

I concede that Pro's argument is logically valid. I also concede that premises 2, 3, and 4, are true. I am only going to dispute the first premise.

Problems with the first premise

There are several problems with Pro's argument.

First, Pro commits the fallacy of composition when he says that because each state of the universe is caused by a previous state of the universe that therefore the whole universe caused itself.

Second, Pro's argument is subject to the problems of infinite regress. If each state of the universe was caused by a previous state, it would follow that there are a beginningless number of prior states of the universe and they would therefore be actually infinite. But if that were the case, then it would impossible for the present moment to have come about.

Consider the borrower/lender analogy. Suppose I need to mow my lawn, but I don't have a lawnmower. So I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his. But he doesn't have one either, so he asks his other neighbor. And that neighbor asks his neighbor. The only way I can ever get a lawnmower is if somebody actually has one who doesn't need to get it from somebody else. If there is no such person (because this chain has no beginning) then I cannot get a lawnmower.

In the same way, the present moment cannot happen unless there is a moment that happened without there being a prior moment. In other words, there must be a first moment.

Third, Pro's argument suffers from the same problems as Zeno's paradoxes of motion. Using Pro's reasoning, one can "prove" that it's impossible for anything to move. If an object at t=0 is at rest, and at t=1 is in motion, then there is a t=1/2 between t=0 and t=1 at which it is already in motion. Since it's in motion at t=1/2, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, etc., there's no first moment of motion. And if there's no first moment of motion, then its motion can be fully explained by itself without having to appeal to an outside cause to explain why it began to move.

While it may be difficult to figure out where the fallacy lies, surely we can all agree that our reasoning has gone awry somewhere. After all, we frequently see things which are at rest begin to move because they are caused to move by something outside of themselves. For example, a golfer can cause a golf ball to begin moving by hitting it with a club.

So what is the problem with Zeno's paradox (and by extension, Pro's argument)? According to Aristotle, the problem is that he's confusing a conceptual/potential infinite with an actual infinite. It is true that conceptually, you can keep dividing any interval of length or time without end merely by halving them over and over. If, instead of dividing an interval by halving it over and over, you divided it into equal intervals, it would always be finite. Just because you can divide a line over and over doesn't mean the line doesn't have end points. In the same way, if the universe is finite in the past, then there are a finite number of hours in the past. That means there is a first hour requiring an outside cause.

Fourth, Pro's argument suffers from an unsolvable paradox. He agrees that the universe began to exist 13 billion or so years ago in the sense that there is no prior state at which the universe existed. So suppose we place a Grim Reaper (GR) at each moment between t=0 and t=1 such that GR1/2 is placed at t=1/2, GR1/4 at t=1/4, GR1/8 at t=1/8, etc. It would follow, according to Pro's reasoning, that just as every state has a prior state, so also every GR has a prior GR. And just as there is no first state, so also, there is no first GR.

A GR is a being that kills you instantly unless you're already dead. This scenario leads to a paradox. On the one hand, no GR can kill you since by the time you reach any GR, you'd already be dead. But on the other hand, you can't survive a moment past t=0. This scenario cannot be actualized in the real world because it leads to a contradiction. If no GR can kill you, then you should survive. But you can't survive.

Clearly, if you cross a GR, it will kill you, so there must be a first GR however difficult that might be to conceptualize or represent mathematically. In the same way, if the universe is finite in the past, then there is a boundary that marks the beginning edge of the universe. There is a first moment. There's no escaping it.

My case

1. If the universe had an earliest moment, then the universe had a cause outside of itself.

2. The universe had an earliest moment.

3. Therefore, the universe had a cause outside of itself.

I have already demonstrated the 2nd premise above. I suspect Pro already agrees with the first premise, too. The whole reason he thinks God is unnecessary is because he thinks each state in the universe was caused by another state in the universe, so nothing outside of the universe is necessary. That is an implicit admission of a universal causal principle because otherwise there'd be no reason to assume that any state in the universe required a cause whether there was a beginning or not.

According to his definition of God, I have only to show that the cause is a person. I don't get the impression Pro really wanted to go into that in this debate, though, so I won't spend much time on it. I think he mainly wanted to discuss Quentin Smith's argument. But to fulfill my burden of proof, I've got to give at least a short explanation of why the cause is a person.

With any non-personal cause, as long as all of the necessary and sufficient conditions for some effect are present, the effect is also present. So if the cause of the universe were non-personal, then the universe would have no earliest moment. It would be actually infinite in the past. A personal agent avoids this because it can have an intention to create the universe, then act on that intention. Although the intention is sufficient to bring about the universe, it doesn't do so mechanistically since an intention to act can be an intention to act immediately or later. God could, therefore, have a timeless intention to act, then initiate time with his first act.

Since God is "the personal being which causes the initial state of the universe," and since I've shown that the big bang supports such a being, it follows that the big bang supports theism over atheism.

Debate Round No. 2
JonathanCrane

Pro

Ave. (Howdy!)

I agree with my opponent when he states that we should define atheism as the belief that there is no god. The conclusion of the cosmological argument for a self-caused universe is that god does not exist. Therefore, we are dealing with atheism in the logically positive sense (god does not exist) rather than atheism in the logically negative sense (I lack belief that god exists).

You'll remember that, in my last round, I gave reasons for thinking that there is no initial state. The first reason was that the singularity is scientifically unnecessary once you take into effect quantum mechanics. The second reason was that a singularity would break down even if it did exist. These are scientific and mathematical reasons for thinking that the singularity does not exist. In a discussion about cosmology, I believe that these should take precedence over philosophical reasons. Perhaps it's hard to conceive of how we reached the present moment if there is no singularity. Even if I can't solve the philosophical issues of there being no singularity, it does not mean that a singularity existed. This is because we have scientific and mathematical arguments against the existence of such a singularity. Philo may win the philosophical arguments, but he hasn't touched the scientific and mathematical arguments I gave as to why a singularity does not exist. The scientific and mathematical evidence, which are the most important evidences in this discussion, favor the Pro side of the debate. So, when the voters weigh the arguments, please keep this in mind.

Philo's first objection to my argument is that it comitts the fallacy of composition. The fallacy of composition is when you reason that, because something is true of the part, it must be true of the whole. As an example, think of a fence with pickets. I walk by this fence and observe that one of the pickets is brown. Because of this fact, I conclude that the entire fence must also be brown. This is a case of reasoning by composition. However, the cosmological argument for a self-caused universe does not comitt such a fallacy. It does not argue that, because one state of the universe is explained, the whole universe is explained. Rather, it argues that since every state of the universe is caused by another state, the whole universe is explained. What is true of the part is not necessarily true of the whole, but what is true for all of the parts is necessarily true of the whole. The cosmological argument for a self-caused universe defines the universe as all of the states of the universe. Each of these states are casually explained by a prior state, so all of them are explained. It's rather like seeing a fence with ten pickets, and upon realizing all the pickets are brown, you conclude that the whole fence is brown. In logical terms, if U is defined as all of the S, and every S is casually explained by another S, then you have a casual explanation of U.

Philo tries to show that my argument is wrong by implication. If all of the states are caused by another state, and there is no beginning, then there is no way to reach the present moment. However, I think this issue does not apply to my argument. I have developed an argument to demonstrate why this is true.

P1: If my view of the universe required time to exist infinitely into the past, then you would have states where T is greater than or equal to thirteen billion years ago.
P2: On my model of the universe, there is no state where T is greater than or equal to thirteen billion years ago.
C: My view of the universe does not require time to exist infinitely into the past.

If I stated that time was infinite into the past, then the issue of how we reach the present moment would be relevant. I haven't stated such a thing. On my view of the universe, there is no state where T is equal to or greater than thirteen billion years ago. Therefore, time is not infinite into the past, but there is no initial state of time either. (I am saying that time does not go infinitely into the past, but there is no first state of time either, for those who are wondering if I'm contradicting myself.)

Imagine a number line where you have the beginning of the universe thirteen billion years ago, and then the present moment. Starting from the present moment, you can go back a billion years thirteen times, and then you reach a stopping point where you can't go back any further. You can get to an infinite number of T= states that are between 12 and 13 billion years ago, but you can never get to thirteen billion years. If my view of the universe truly endorsed an infinite number of time in the past, such a thing would not hold. You would be able to go from twelve billion years to thirteen, then fourteen, then fifteen, ad infinitum. That is a view of the universe where time is infinite into the past. However, such an exercise is not possible on my view of the universe, because no T= state is greater than or equal to thirteen billion years ago. The ultimate conclusion is that Philo's criticism of my argument does not apply.

I've tried to establish that, on my view, time is not infinite into the past. There is still the issue of whether my divison of time is a real divison, or just a thought experiment. After all, if you cannot divide the T=1 states into 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc., then my view of the universe fails. I think it should be clear, however, that this division of time is very real. Remember that we are talking about time. When you sit down for an hour, you experience half an hour, a fourth of an hour, and an eigth of an hour. You also experience 1/16th of an hour and 1/32nd of an hour, but our brains aren't wired that way. These states of time are very real indeed. They are not just something you can think of.

Philo also makes an objection to my argument based on motion. I think the argument begs the question, because it's based on the premise that there is an object at T=0 with no movement. I don't believe that such a state exists. I think there is potential in this argument, however, if Philo were to reformulate it in the next round. I'll be glad to answer it then.

The Grim Reaper paradox is extremely interesting. I don't doubt that the thought experiment is reasonable. I doubt the strength of the arguments conclusions when compared to other evidence. The GR paradox states that, if there is in fact an infinite number of states between 0 and 1, then you get an ontological self-contradiction. This self-contradiction is that no GR can kill you, but at the same time, you can never survive. I agree with Philo that this paradox has no epistemological answer. However, I argue that there must be an ontological answer. If there is a self-contradiction with an infinite number of states between 0 and 1, then it contradicts a mathematical fact. This is the mathematical fact that there is no 'first decimal' after 0. There is only 0.1, 0.01, 0.001, etc. If an infinite number of states between 0 and 1 leads to a self-contradiction, then it also follows that a mathematical fact is wrong. But a mathematical fact cannot be wrong by definition! Therefore, there is no way for an infinite number of states between 0 and 1 to be self-contradictory. It then follows that the GR paradox has an answer, even if we aren't aware of what that answer is.

I don't have many objections to what Philo says later on. If there is in fact a beginning, then there is an initial state, and that initial state must be caused. I just want to leave Philo with one question on this point. Many theists argue that the explanation of the initial state must be personal or material, and since the latter is impossible, it must be a personal cause that is god. However, why can't the cause be non-material, but also non-personal? If a non-material and non-personal cause of the initial state is at least possible, then the reasoning theists use becomes a false dichotomy. (Thanks to RationalThinker for this interesting point.)


Vale. (See ya'll later!)

philochristos

Con

Howdy! (Ave.)

A clarification

I need to make a clarification about something I said in my last post because I can see how it could be misunderstood. I said that I conceded premises 2, 3, and 4. 3 and 4 read:

3: From 1 and 2, an initial state is logically impossible.

4: From 3, there can be no cause of the initial state.

I did not mean that I concede that "an initial state is logically impossible." What I meant to concede was that it follows from 1 and 2 that an initial state is logically impossible. And I did not mean to concede that "there can be no cause of the initial state." Rather, I meant to concede that it follows from 3 that there can be no cause of the initial state.

That shouldn't change anything. This debate is still over the truth of the first premise.

Science vs. philosophy

Pro claims that we should favor scientific arguments over philosophical arguments. Well, a sound argument is a sound argument, whether it's scientific or philosophical. We shouldn't prefer one argument over another because of what kind of argument it is, but because of whether the argument is sound. Besides that, his argument is philosophical. Anybody familiar with Zeno's paradoxes will notice the similarity. The only thing resembling science in his argument is his claim that Stephen Hawking changed his mind about the Hawking-Penrose model and that he now denies a singularity. But that is an argument from authority, not a scientific argument. And it's a fallacious argument from authority, too, because there's no concensus on the matter. I could just as easily quote cosmologists who still believe in a singularity.

The fallacy of composition

Pro mistakenly thinks the fallacy of composition is when you say that if something is true of a part, then it's true of a whole. He thinks his argument doesn't commit the fallacy of composition since he's saying that because something is true of all the parts, then it's true of the whole. But that is the fallacy of composition.[1] This is an informal fallacy, though, so it's true that there are exceptions to it. His cannot be an exception to it, though, because even if every state of the universe is caused by a previous state in the universe, it wouldn't follow that the whole universe caused itself. The notion of self-causation is incoherent.

Problem of infinite regress

Pro misconstrues my argument here. I'm not saying that Pro's argument leads to an infinite past. I'm saying that Pro's argument leads to an infinite causal regress. Granted, he thinks time is finite in the past, but he nevertheless thinks there is no first state because each state has a state before it. That clearly leads to an infinite regress in which the present state could never be reached. Pro hasn't addressed my actual argument.

Zeno's paradox

Pro responds to this argument by making an irrelevant observation, namely that whereas an object can go from rest at t=0 to motion, he doesn't think there is a state of the universe at t=0. But that misses the point of my argument. His argument is that because there is no first state of the universe, that the universe cannot be caused by anything outside of itself. But it would follow, by the same reasoning, that there is no first moment of motion for anything that moves, and that motion can therefore not be caused by anything outside of itself. We know that motion can be caused by something outside of itself, so by extension, we know Pro's argument is fallacious. Pro needs to answer this argument rather than make irrelevant disanalogies.

GR paradox

Pro doesn't so much answer the GR paradox as he just dismisses it. He admits that he can't answer it, but thinks it must have an answer because there's no first decimal after zero. But that is why in math, when talking about bounded and unbounded intervals, we take limits in which a function aproaches a number but never reaches it. The "first" moment after zero would be represented as an open interval with zero as a limit. You wouldn't represent it with a decimal. When we talk about approaching some number as a limit, we're not talking about actual infinities, but potential infinities. Open intervals still have boundaries, though, even though their edges cannot be represented by decimals. In the same way, a GR will kill you even if you can't assign a decimal to that GR. In the same way, the universe has an initial state even if you can't put a decimal on it.

My argument

Pro doesn't try to refute my argument. He appears to grant that if there is an initial state of the universe, then my argument goes through. I hope that with my critique of Pro's argument above that I have established that the universe does have an initial state.

Pro's question

Pro asked me a question about an argument that I didn't make. Since I still have over 3000 characters left, I'll go ahead and respond to his question, but this should not have any affect on voting. This is just to satisfy Pro's curiosity. In fact, you can skip this section if you want.

Rational_Thinker mentioned somewhere that minds and abstract objects may not exhaust the possibilities for immaterial entities. It's possible that there could be a non-personal immaterial entity that is not an abstract object. Although it's hard to imagine what such a thing might be, I can't see why it isn't at least possible. But that doesn't completely destroy Craig's argument in my opinion. If you have three possibilities, and you can eleminate two, then you'd have a deductive argument for the third. But if you can only elminate one, and you can attach an improbability to the second, then you'd have an inductive argument for the third. You don't have to elminate Rational_Thinker's third possibility in order to make an argument for the cause of the universe being a person. You'd only have to say that it's improbable.

One possible way to do that might be to point out that it's ad hoc and that it's better to look for explanations amoung the known than the unknown. The only time we invoke the unknown is when nothing known is sufficient to explain something. Unless you can give some content to the immaterial, impersonal cause, then I don't see why we should treat it as equally viable as a mind or even an abstract object.

Maybe you could submit the question to William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith web page and see what he says. It's an interesting thought.


*****
Notes:

1. http://www.fallacyfiles.org...


See y'all later! (Vale.)
Debate Round No. 3
JonathanCrane

Pro

Ave.

I want to repeat what my friend Philo said, just so that we have a fair debate. He is not agreeing with the first premise which state that an initial states does not exist. He only agrees that the other premises of the argument follows logically from the first premise. He's trying to make the debate about the truth of the premises rather than their logical validity.

I have my view of the universe, and Philo has his. My view of the universe is supported by science, but weaker on the philosophy. Philo's view is not supported by the science, but is stronger on the philosophy. My contention is that, since we are debating cosmology, the argument that is best supported by the science should be weighted more than the argument that is not. I'm not trying to dismiss philosophy when I say this. I think philosophy is extremely useful and interesting, and we couldn't do much without it. I'm just saying that, in the context of a discussion about cosmology, the scientific evidence should be considered more important than the philosophical evidence. It is true that a sound argument is a sound argument, but science and philosophy seem to contradict each other in this case. This gives us a reason to ask 'Which should be considered more important, the sound scientific argument, or the sound philosophical argument?'. This is cosmology, a scientific subject. Therefore, we should lean towards the former rather than the latter.

Of course, this is based on the premise that the science favors my position. In my opening statement, I gave scientific and mathematical reasons as to why a singularity could not exist. Philo didn't dispute these reasons in the round after my opening statement, but he criticized me in the last round. Philo says that the only science I have given to show that the singularity could not exist is the fact that the Hawking-Penrose theorem was withdrawn. I think it's silly to treat this as if it was a trivial piece of evidence. The HP theorem is the only reason to accept a singularity, so once that's taken out of the way, there is no reason for a singularity. He also accuses me of an appeal to authority because I quoted Stephen Hawking. He goes on to say that I haven't given any scientific reasons for thinking that there was no singularity. Firstly, I wasn't saying that there was no singularity just because Hawking said so. I was quoting him because he gave an argument against a singularity that is based on science. This argument was that quantum mechanics make a singularity unnecessary. I was more focused on what he was saying than who said it. It turns out that Philo has never actually answered the scientific and mathematical reasons as to why a singularity does not exist. He's just misused a logical fallacy. So, we have two facts that have not been disputed about the singularity. The first one is that it does not have to exist when quantum mechanics is taken into account. The second fact is that, if it ever did exist, it would break down because it can't even be actualized. Philo can answer these reasons in his last round, but since it's the last round, they shouldn't be considered when it's time to vote, as I don't have a round to answer back to his new arguments.

I think this whole controversy about the fallacy of composition is just a misunderstanding. I'll try a different approach to work this out. Christian philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig once gave a presentation called 'Worst Objections to the Kalam', where he addressed internet refutations of the KCA. When speaking about the fallacy of composition, Dr. Craig said something that is relevant to this discussion. During this presentation, he gave the same exact example that I gave to show that sometimes, reasoning by composition is valid. Dr. Craig says, 'For example, a fence with pickets that are all green is also a green fence'. This is the same logic of my argument. If you define the fence as its pickets, and all of the pickets are green, then the fence is also green. On the same token, if you define the universe as all of its states, and you give a casual explanation for all of its states, then you've also explained the cause of the universe. Philo seems to agree that there are cases when reasoning by composition is valid when he says 'there are exceptions to it'. However, he thinks that my argument cannot be an exception. Why? He argues that even if every state of the universe is caused by a prior state, it does not explain how the universe caused itself. I think there is a little bit of equivocation though. I think Philo is thinking of the 'X was caused by X' sense of 'self-caused' that I dismissed in my opening statement. This is what leads him to conclude that self-causation is incoherent. Yes, self-causation defined in that way is incoherent, but that's not what my argument means by self-caused. [1]

In my last round, I devoted space to talking about whether the division of time was real or just conceptual. I gave an argument as to why states of time like 1/4th and 1/32 were real things rather than just concepts. I read Philo's argument twice, and I didn't see any response to this. I will assume that he found my answer to be satisfactory.

I actually don't understand Philo's argument from motion, so I'll drop the point. However, Philo also dropped my point about how the division of time is more than conceptual. So, this shouldn't harm either of us when the audience votes on the debate.

There is also the issue of how we come to the present moment under my view of the universe. The words 'present moment' is important. It's a statement about the current state of time. Primarily, it means that we are in the latest state of time. If I'm alive at 5:30 on January 1st in the year of 1944, that's the present moment, because it's the latest state of time. 5:31 on January 1st in the year of 1944 hasn't been actualized. Philo asks how we can come to the present moment if my view of the universe is true. This dilemma only works for universes where time is infinite into the past. That's the problem with Philo's argument, because as I demonstrated, time is not infinite into the past on my view of the universe. The states are infinite, sure, but the time in each state is not. None of these states are greater than or equal to thirteen billion years ago. I think it's irrelevant to talk about the states being infinite, because as long as the time is not, the dilemma does not apply.

I think I did much more than simply dismiss the GR paradox. I took great pains to demonstrate that the GR paradox can be reconciled with an infinite number of states between 0 and 1. Even if we have no epistemological answer to the GR paradox, there must be an ontological answer, because otherwise we would have a logical contradiction. That's the argument I gave, and that's miles away from just rejecting the argument. Philo says that we can represent the first state as an open interval with zero as a limit. I'm not sure how this would work, because such an interval would be 0 < X < 1. What exactly does X represent? There an infinite number of things that X could represent that would make it true. 0.1, 0.01, 0.001, for an infinity. So even if you represented the first state of the universe in such a way, it will still be an infinite number of T= states. [2] See that reference if you're confused over what an open interval with no end points is.

I thank Philo for answering the question. I wasn't really trying to make an argument, but I wanted to keep things interesting for the audience, rather than have a tedious point-by-point discussion. I just might send that to Dr. Craig for his thoughts.

I thank Philo for an amazing debate, and I hope we have a good post-debate discussion on Skype.

Vale.

References
1:
2: http://tinyurl.com...
philochristos

Con

Science and philosophy

Pro continues to pit science against philosophy. But what if you have a good philosophical argument pitted against a bad scientific argument? The fact that a point of view is "scientific" does not give it extra weight. Scientists are always coming up with theoretical explanations about the world, some of which are discarded upon further evidence, and some survive through being tested. In the case of the origin of the universe, there is no proven theory. Hawking has his view, but it's a hypothesis at this point that does not enjoy scientific concensus. It's not THE established scientific view. So to favor it over a solid philosophical argument just because it's "science," is unwarranted.

There's really no tidy distinction between science and philosophy when talking about the origin of the universe. In both cases you use availble information combined with reason to arrive at a conclusion that, at least for the time being, can't be tested. That's why it's called "theoretical physics."

Pro says I didn't respond to his scientific or mathematical reasons. I certainly did respond to his math by showing that it commits the same fallacies as Zeno's paradoxes. It's true i didn't respond to Hawking's quote, but, Hawking didn't make much of an argument. He said he was trying to convince other physicists, and he said the singularity can (not does) disappear once quantum effects are taken into account. That's not an argument; it's a statement. Now granted, Hawking makes arguments in his books, but I shouldn't be required to go look up those arguments and respond to them. I should only have to respond to what is presented in this debate.

Quentin Smith, I think, makes a better argument. He argues that the singularity is physically impossible because all physical laws would break down at the singularity. He doesn't really explain why, though. Supposing that all known physical laws break down at the singularity, what reason is there to think some yet undiscovered physical laws don't govern singularities? Many scientists still think singularities exist in black holes as well as at the origin of the universe.

Even if there is no singularity, it doesn't follow that the universe had no initial state. The initial state of the universe could've been a state in which the universe had some volume. Imagine if God caused a bird to pop into existence in mid flight in the present. Even though the bird did not begin as a singularity, surely it had an initial state. Pro has arbitrarily placed t=0 at the singularity, argued that there is no singularity, then concluded that there is no t=0, and therefore no initial state. But if the earliest extreme of the universe was not a singularity, then it was a mistake to place t=0 at the singularity to begin with. It should've been placed instead at the earlist extreme of the universe, whatever that happened to be. Voila! Then the universe has an earliest state at t=0.

Fallacy of composition

Pro didn't say anything new in response to this argument, so let me just try to clarify why I think his argument commits the fallacy of composition. If it's true that each state in the universe is caused by a previous state, then there is no state of affairs in which the universe comes into existence from a state of non-existence. If there is no state of affairs in which the universe comes into existence, then the universe was not created, neither by God, nor by itself. So it's fallacious to say that because each state was caused by the previous state, that the whole universe was caused by itself.

Problem of infinite regress

Pro gave no response to my rebuttal here. In my rebuttal, I pointed out how Pro had misconstrued my argument and that it's irrelevant to my argument whether the universe is infinite in the past. I pointed out that his argument leads to an infinite regress of "states" of the universe, making it impossible to reach the present. Instead of responding to my original argument or my rebuttal of his initial attempt, he just repeated the same misconstrual he had in his initial attempt. He should've responded to my borrowing/lender argument because it proves that given his infinite regress of states of the universe, that the present state could never be reached.

Zeno's paradox

Pro claims that I didn't respond to his argument about the reality of dividing time into 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc. and that he didn't understand my argument from motion. Well, my argument from motion is a response to his argument. If his argument is sound, then the motion of an object cannot be caused by anything outside of itself; an object's motion can be caused by something outside of itself; therefore, his argument is unsound. That proves that there are not an actually infinite number of states of the universe, but that the division of time is only potentially infinite.

GR paradox

Pro's response here is interesting. He says, "Even if we have no epistemological answer to the GR paradox, there must be an ontological answer, because otherwise we would have a logical contradiction." The logical contradiction comes in the fact that the GR paradox emerges from his point of view. If there's a logical contradiction, it's in his point of view. That's what the GR paradox is meant to illustrate. The epistemological answer to the GR paradox is that Pro's first premise is false. The ontological answer is that there must be a first GR, and therefore an initial state of the universe.

It should be obvious that his decimal argument is fallacious. Consider any t > 0, say t=2. What is the first decimal after that t? Is it 2.1, 2.01, 2.00000...1? As you can see, we're faced with the same problem. We cannot represent the first moment after t=2 with a decimal. If Pro's whole argument is sound, that would mean that between t=2 and t=3, there is no first moment, and that would mean the state of the universe at t=2 cannot be the cause of any t > 2. Every t > 2 is caused by a previous t > 2, and no t > 2 is caused by t=2. But that is obviously fallacious, because if you take this reasoning to its logical conclusion, it would follow that no state in the universe can be caused by a previous state.

The GR paradox proves that Pro's argument is fallacious. If every state of the universe has a prior state, and if that means there is no first state, then it would follow that each state could have a GR, and that there is no first GR. That means no GR can kill you, yet a GR must kill you. Since we know it is impossible to get through all those GR's without being killed, we know there must be a first state of the universe. If the universe is finite in the past, then it has an initial state.

My case

Pro has dropped my case. I take it that the whole debate hingest on the truth of his first premise. If his first premise is true, then big bang cosmology supports atheism over theism. If his first premise is false, then big bang comsmology supports theism over atheism. He dropped my case because he thinks it's sufficient to refute it if he can prove that there was no initial state of the universe.

Conclusion

I gave four arguments against Pro's first premise. If just one of these arguments are sound, then it disproves Pro's first premise. So even if Pro succeeded in refuting three of them, that would not have been enough for him to win. He needed to refute all four of them. He dropped my argument from motion under Zeno's paradox, but that argument refuted his claim that a finite interval of time had an actually infinite number of states, which his argument depended on. That leaves his first premise refuted. That means he has failed to establish the resolve, and I have succeeded in proving that big bang cosmology supports theism over atheism. But I don't think he succeeded in refuting the other three arguments either.

JustinCrane has been a pleasure and a challenge to debate. I've really enjoyed this and look forward to the Skype debriefing.

Thank you.


Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
This is a difficult debate to judge, because in my view neither side made sound arguments. However, the resolution is clarified ask us to judge what is most correct rather than the ordinary standard of Pro meeting the burden of proof. On top of that, we have God defined in a very peculiar way that few would subscribe to outside of the debate context.

The debate grapples with the idea of a "real infinity" contrasted with a "theoretical infinity." I think the message of modern physics is "if you can write an equation for it, and the predictions made from the equation do no contradict observation, then they might be true." Cosmologists are working in eleven (or maybe twelve) dimensions. Objects appearing out of nothing, but in accord with conditions and probabilities, are acceptable to scientists.

Hilbert's paradox of the Grand Hotel is a good example of our inability to use common sense to understand the nature of infinity. Imagine a hotel with an infinite number of rooms, with each room occupied. Not only can one more guest be accommodated by moving the occupant of room n to room n+1. but it turns out an infinite number of new guests can be accommodated. http://en.wikipedia.org...

Pro's theory works within the bounds of science and mathematics. His argument that the theory is true is not very convincing, but it's more convincing that Con's argument that no explanation exists other than a personal god that escapes the confines of science. The "personal" part of the "personal god" seems to me a pure argument from incredulity.

If Pro had the burden of proof, he would certainly lost. But a plausible scientific theory is more plausible than a non-scientific theory.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Nobody else has voted on this yet?! This was a good debate.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Perhaps if I get a webcam I will participate. At the current moment, I am not technologically
equipped for such an endeavor lol
Posted by philochristos 3 years ago
philochristos
I guess that would be the abrasive way to put it. :-( But don't let that stop you from signing up for an interview:

http://www.debate.org...
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"RT, there are a few issues I've thought we might be able to have a good debate on, and with you being one of the best atheist debaters on this site and having the most fresh and interesting critiques of the KCA and issues surrounding it, I've been really tempted to debate with you. What has kept me from it is just the fact that you have an abrasive personality, and I don't enjoy interacting with people like that."

Translation:

"You are good, but I don't like you."

Thanks! Lol
Posted by philochristos 3 years ago
philochristos
RT, there are a few issues I've thought we might be able to have a good debate on, and with you being one of the best atheist debaters on this site and having the most fresh and interesting critiques of the KCA and issues surrounding it, I've been really tempted to debate with you. What has kept me from it is just the fact that you have an abrasive personality, and I don't enjoy interacting with people like that. It completely sucks the fun out of debating.

I'm not sure we could have a good debate on this particular issue anyway, since I've already acknowledge that your third option is a possibility. If we debated, it wouldn't be over whether Craig's dilemma was sound, but over whether an immaterial sentient being was a better explanation than an immaterial non-sentient being for the origin of the universe on the assumption that the universe had an immaterial cause.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
I can just say that a personal cause is Ad Hoc, and is just trying to get around an impersonal cause based on the same logic.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
I would love to debate philoscristos on Dr. Craig's "Origin of a Temporal Effect from a Timeless Cause" dilemma. My third option is not Ad Hoc at all, it only appears that way if you already presuppose the theistic answer is more likely! If you do not, then it is just as viable an option as a personal cause.
Posted by ConservativePolitico 3 years ago
ConservativePolitico
I don't see how the BBT disproves a god in anyway.
Posted by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
gr4o2007, the "point" of the BBT was not to show there was no god. It's the best explanation of the available evidence, that is all.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Fanboy 3 years ago
Fanboy
JonathanCranephilochristosTied
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Reasons for voting decision: If the burden of proof was on Con then he would have lost. If the burden of proof was on Pro he would have lost as well. As Roy Lanthem rightly points out, the problem I have with Pro's argument(as brought up by Con) has to with Zeno's paradoxes of motion. I agree with Con's notion that we confuse actual infinite's with potential infinite's. This is why unlike Roy I will be voting for Philo. Its not theoratical its potential and thats the point. Its not a theory problem, its the problem of confusing conceptual(not in the theory sense, more like Conceptual as Justice is a concept) with the actual. They have great respect for each other, very good debate.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
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Reasons for voting decision: see comments
Vote Placed by calculatedr1sk 3 years ago
calculatedr1sk
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Reasons for voting decision: I really enjoyed this debate, and found it too close to call. I may revisit. First cause seems to me to be one of the stronger theist arguments. I therefore appreciate Pro's bold attempt to find a way to defeat theists on their own turf. I'm not sure he lost, because his argument led me to conceive of time and matter as bending like a vertical asymptote as we approach t = 0 (even though he never explicitly mentioned this word). I thought it was interesting that he partially refuted his own green fence using Craig and respect his attempt to salvage the argument, though I'm not sure it was successful. Overall feel that I can only safely give Pro points for sources. I found rational_thinker's suggestion that there could be a non-personal, non-material first cause interesting, but irrelevant to the debate since this is purely theism vs atheism, and whatever the third alternative would be named, it doesn't seem to neatly fall under either category.
Vote Placed by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
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Reasons for voting decision: To me, it came down to: (i) Con's argument against an actual infinite. (ii) Pro's argument that every real number is in between two real numbers. Both arguments make sense and are compelling, which is why this debate was hard to judge. However, Pro gave no reason to view these decimal points as anything more than mathematical fiction, instead of numbers corresponding to an ontological reality. Con had no such burden when presenting Zeno's paradox, or The Grim Reaper paradox. Thus, the paradoxes stood without need for the additional justification. For this reason, I give arguments to Con.