The Instigator
MBill
Pro (for)
The Contender
epicemmy9
Con (against)

God Exists (Cosmological Argument)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/3/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 554 times Debate No: 101642
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (16)
Votes (0)

 

MBill

Pro

In this debate I will be contending for the theistic worldview at the exclusion of the atheistic worldview. Although I am a Christian, I am not here arguing for Christian particulars.

The Cosmological Argument is perhaps the strongest of the arguments for God"s existence. Its premises enjoy both philosophical and scientific backing, and its conclusion is certain. If this argument works, then it is logically impossible that God doesn"t exist. This is very strong language, and it is meant to be.

As an example, it is logically impossible that a square circle exists. What is meant by "square" and "circle" are mutually exclusive things, and so there is no sense in which a "square circle" can exist. If this argument works, then the non-existence of God is as impossible as the existence of a square circle.

So let"s look at the argument:

Premise One: Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

Premise Two: The universe began to exist.

Premise Three: Therefore the universe has a cause.

**Premise One: Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
This premise is hard to argue with. It is common sense that something can"t come from nothing. If something could come from nothing, then why not anything? Why can"t just anything pop into existence for no reason? Why not a python in your pantry or a bobcat in your bedroom? Sometimes people will appeal to quantum mechanics, but this is a mistake in understanding. Quantum mechanics might say that subatomic particles pop into existence out of a vacuum of energy over time, but this isn"t the same as saying out of nothing and without cause. The fact that it is only subatomic particles and not submarines or subway sandwiches shows that there is some sort of a cause and effect process going on. Also, the starting point isn"t nothing. You"ve got space, energy, and time as your starting materials. It doesn"t seem rational to believe that something can come from nothing.

**Premise Two: The universe began to exist.
There is quite a lot of evidence for this. First, the beginning of the universe is predicted by general relativity. Scientists call it the "Big Bang". There are other evidences as well in the form of cosmic background radiation, the red shift discovered by Hubble, and the second law of thermodynamics. Second, we can see logically that time had to have had a beginning. If time had no beginning, then it would stretch backwards for infinity. This would mean that there would be points in time infinitely far in the past from which an infinite amount of time would need to be crossed for it to become now. Since you"d never run out of this infinite time, it could never become now. But it is now! For that reason time had to have had a beginning. Let me sketch out the train of thought:

Premise One: If time stretched backward for infinity, then there would be points in time infinitely far in the past.

Premise Two: If there are points in time infinitely far in the past, then time could never progress from those points to now.

Premise Three: If time could never progress from a point in the past to now, then it cannot be now.

Premise Four: It is now!

Premise Five: Therefore time can progress from every point in the past to now.

Premise Six: Therefore there are no points infinitely far in the past.

Premise Seven: Therefore time does not stretch backward for infinity.

For these reasons, the reasonable person should conclude that the universe began to exist.

**Premise Three: Therefore the universe has a cause.
You might ask, wait a tick, what does any of this have to do with God? We can conclude a few things about this first cause from the things that were created. Since this first cause created time, matter, space, and energy then it cannot be made up of matter or energy, it cannot occupy space, and it cannot be bound within time. It must be timeless and immaterial.

We also have reason to think that it is personal. If the first cause was impersonal, then it would be something like a rock or a star. Some group of particles that churns out universes whenever the sufficient conditions are met. Much like gasoline will catch fire whenever you have a flame and oxygen near it. It doesn"t decide to burst into flame because it doesn"t decide to do anything, it is impersonal. If the sufficient conditions (gas + flame + oxygen) are present, then the flame happens automatically.

Now remember that the cause of the universe had to create time. This means that apart from creating time it existed in a timeless state, nothing changing. If nothing was changing, however, then the sufficient conditions for universe creation couldn"t come about over time. It couldn"t have gradually gotten to the point that a universe would be created because there was no such thing as "gradually" in this state of affairs. Everything that existed had existed timelessly for eternity. If the sufficient conditions existed from eternity past and the cause is impersonal, then it would have created the universe from eternity past. This means we would encounter a universe that was eternally old. We don"t experience a universe that is eternally old, however, which gives us good reason to believe that the cause is personal. Let me sketch out the train of thought again:

Premise One: If the first cause was impersonal, then it would create the universe whenever the right conditions were met.

Premise Two: If time was created with the big bang, then the right conditions would have been met timelessly apart from the big bang.

Premise Three: If the right conditions existed timelessly apart from the big bang, then the right conditions would have been met from eternity past.

Premise Four: Therefore if the first cause was impersonal, then it would have created the universe from eternity past.

Premise Five: The universe was not created from eternity past.

Premise Six: Therefore the first cause is not impersonal.

("Eternity Past" may be a confusing term here, I just mean to say that it"s effect would exist eternally. The point of the argument is that the universe would be eternal if the cause is impersonal, not that it would be a specific age, the age of "eternity past")

Taken together, this line of reasoning shows that a timeless, immaterial, personal creator of the universe exists. If it is logically impossible that something comes from nothing then it is logically impossible that the creator doesn"t exist.

My opponent must show either 1) not everything that begins to exist has a cause, 2) the universe did not begin to exist, or 3) the first cause may not have been personal.
epicemmy9

Con

My opponent has stated many scientific reasons concerning why God must exist. Basically, these are the conclusions my opponent has come to:

1) Everything that exists must have a cause
2) Therefore, the universe has a cause
3) This cause is personal
4) This cause is God

My opponent said that for me to prove his argument wrong, I must come up with reasons regarding why everything that exists does not have to have a cause, or that the universe did not begin to exist, or that the cause of the universe was impersonal. While I agree with the first two statements, I do not agree with the third.

Your statement that this cause is not impersonal makes sense, but how can you make sense that it is personal? If, as you argued, it is impossible for the sufficient conditions to come together to create an impersonal object, it is definitely impossible to create something personal (with soul and intentions) out of non-existent conditions.

The fact is, if everything has a cause, what was the cause of God? My opponent claims that everything that exists must have a cause. I agree. If my opponent wishes to prove that God exists, they must provide evidence of a cause for God. Their argument was "God exists." Therefore, I don't need to prove that God doesn't exist, but my opponent must prove that he does, meaning he must provide evidence that there was a cause for God.
Debate Round No. 1
MBill

Pro

Ok, so I first want to start out describing where my opponent and I agree. First, we agree that everything that begins to exist has a cause. That is to say that we both acknowledge that "out of nothing, nothing comes." After all, if something can come uncaused out of nothing, then why can"t just anything come uncaused out of nothing? Why not a bobcat in your bedroom or a llama in your living room? Why only universes and only 13.5 billion years ago? What is it about "nothing" that makes it so discriminatory?!? Again, my opponent and I agree on this point.

Secondly we agree that the universe began to exist. I won"t belabor the point here, but I provided some evidence for this premise in my opening statement.

Where we either disagree or perhaps there is a subtle nuance is at the statement, "Everything has a cause." That would be a statement that I wouldn"t agree with. I had said before that everything that *begins to exist* has a cause. If something does not *begin to exist* then it doesn"t seem like it could have a cause that brings it into existence. Since time was created with the universe, this cause must have existed in a timeless state. For this reason the cause of the universe, whether or not it is God, could not itself have a cause that brings it into existence. In such a timeless state there wouldn"t be any "beginning point" at which the cause of the universe came into existence.

This also leads into the explanation I gave as to why this cause must be personal. Since the first cause existed in a timeless state prior to the creation of the universe, then the state of affairs could not change over time (since there literally was no time for it to change). This cause must have existed timelessly. Now if the cause was impersonal, then it cannot make decisions. It didn"t *decide* to create the universe. If the cause was impersonal, then it would create the universe whenever the sufficient conditions were met. Since the cause existed in a timeless and eternal state, then the sufficient conditions would have been met timelessly and eternally. But if the cause creates the universe whenever the sufficient conditions were met, and the sufficient conditions were met eternally, then the cause would have created the universe from eternity. In other words, we would experience a universe that is eternally old.

As an illustration, consider our sun. We know that our sun is impersonal, and therefore it produces sunlight whenever the sufficient conditions are met. In the case of the sun the sufficient condition is nuclear fusion in the sun"s core. It doesn"t *decide* to shine, it does so automatically whenever nuclear fusion is going on. Now if our Sun had existed in a timeless and eternal state then the nuclear fusion would have been going on timelessly and eternally. The sunlight coming from the sun would have been shining from eternity past. In the same way, if the cause of the universe is impersonal then it would have created the universe from eternity past (since we know it must have existed in a timeless state in which the "sufficient conditions" could have never changed). We don"t, however, encounter an eternally old universe. Since our universe is not eternally old, and we would expect it to be if the cause is impersonal, then the cause must not have been impersonal.

Let me sketch out the reasoning here:

1.If the first cause was impersonal, then the universe would be eternally old.

2.The universe is not eternally old.

3.Therefore, the first cause is not impersonal.

Let me give you one more reason that the cause must be personal. We know that space, matter, and energy came into existence with big bang at the creation of the universe. This means that the first cause must be spaceless and immaterial. In other words, it must be an abstract object (rather than a concrete object). There are only two types of abstract objects, however, numbers and an unembodied mind. Numbers don"t stand in causal relationships to things, however, so the first cause couldn"t have been a number. Therefore, the first cause must have been an unembodied mind. If it is an unembodied mind, then it must have been a person.

Let me sketch out the reasoning here:

1.If the first cause is immaterial, then it is an abstract object.

2.If the first cause is an abstract object, then it is either a number or an unembodied mind.

3.The first cause is immaterial.

4.Therefore, the first cause is an abstract object. (from 1 and 3)

5.The first cause is not a number.

6.Therefore, the first cause is an unembodied mind. (from 2, 4, and 5)

I have identified the points of disagreement between my opponent and I (that everything that exists has a cause and that the first cause was personal). I have explained why only things that begin to exist must have a cause to bring them into existence and I have given two lines of argument for why the first cause is personal. This leads us to the conclusion that a personal and immaterial creator of the universe exists.

If my opponent is to defeat my argument, then my opponent must do three things. 1) My opponent must show why even something that does not come into existence requires a cause to bring it into existence. 2) My opponent must demonstrate the error(s) in both of my two lines of argument for the personhood of the first cause. 3) My opponent must give us some reason to believe that an impersonal cause is capable of creating the universe.
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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by jakabus 9 months ago
jakabus
How can a God create the universe in nothing? What if we are like children in the womb seeking a mysterious voice? Lets call the fathers voice our concept of God (ironically the bible is referred to as the word) The womb is the universe that we live in... we can't explore beyond the universe until we are born. An unborn infant would have been bought into existence by the parents (lets not be vulgar) its not until sperm makes it to the egg that life starts to evolve. So maybe that could represent the big bang 13. Something billion years ago... This probably made things more complex...well its a complex concept to begin with...

I use to call myself a christian but not anymore but I still believe that a God exists. Ever had a dream but when you woke up, you know you dreamed up something and then racked your brains trying to remember what it was about & what happened in it? Well the dream I had years ago told me "that we are like unborn children in the womb" you can decipher it for yourself what you think that means (I've tried in the first paragraph) There was more stuff in the dream (99.9% of it I can't remember, but I keep searching)
Posted by sboss18 9 months ago
sboss18
@canis No, it's not. Here's what your statement is basically saying:
Subset B exists in A
Subset C exists in A
Therefore, subsets B and C are equivalent

Here's what Pro's statement is saying:
Subset B exists exclusively in A
Subset C exists exclusively in B
Therefore, subset C exists exclusively in A

Hopefully you can see the difference now. Pro's statement, while begging the question and totally flawed, is not inconsistent from a logical perspective.
Posted by sboss18 9 months ago
sboss18
@Edlvsjd Just because your perspective gives the cylinder the appearance of a square, that doesn't make it a square.
Posted by Edlvsjd 9 months ago
Edlvsjd
A cylinder is a square circle. From one perspective, it is a square, from another it is a circle.
Posted by KingofTheSkullServants 9 months ago
KingofTheSkullServants
You explain that there has to be a creator in all of this. However, how does God exist if there was nothing to begin with? If nothing can't create something, then how can something in nothing create something. Let alone there being something in nothing. On top of that, how can something (in nothing) create in the first place. You go into detail of how there has to be something to create something, however you don't go into detail on how something in nothing can create something.
Posted by missmedic 9 months ago
missmedic
If god is perfect, does god need to create. A perfect being has no needs or wants.
To believe God created this world is to go against the character of an immutable God, because that means he changed his mind from being the sole being of existence to many beings of existence.
If god is immutable, he never changes, then how can he change his mind and create.
Posted by canis 9 months ago
canis
Well it is...
Posted by sboss18 9 months ago
sboss18
@canis While I do not agree with the Cosmological Argument, your logic is incredibly flawed. Your statement is in no way equivalent.
Posted by canis 9 months ago
canis
The "cosmological argument" is: My mother can not swimm..A stone can not swimm..So my mother must be a stone...
Posted by missmedic 9 months ago
missmedic
Philosophers have traditionally responded to the question, "why does the universe exist?", in one of two ways. One response is that "the universe exists because God created it" and the other response is that "the universe exists for no reason"its existence is a brute fact". Both these responses are inadequate, since a third response is possible, namely, that the reason the universe exists is that it caused itself to exist. There are at least three ways the universe can cause itself to exist, by (1) a closed, simultaneous causal loop at the first instant of time, (2) beginning with a continuum of instantaneous states in a first half-open second, with each state being caused by earlier states, and (3) being caused to exist by backward causation, where a later event causes the big bang to occur. This suggests that the principle, "if the universe begins to exist, it has a cause" does not support theism (as traditionally has been thought) but instead supports atheism.
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