Is the Kalam Cosmological Argument Valid?
Debate Rounds (5)
So, a while back, FruityTree and myself had a disagreement centered around the kalam cosmological argument, and so we shall attempt to resolve that disagreement in an exchange that I hope will be thought-provoking, informative and interesting. As the one making the claim, the burden of proof is on my opponent to show that the premises of her argument are correct and that the conclusion follows from them. With that, I will turn over the floor and leave it to my opponent to present her argument. Let's have a good debate.
Thank you Boss for instigating this debate. hoping our disagreement will be solved through this debate, or at least that we'll understand one another reasoning.
I have the burden to prove the validity of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, by showing its two premises are true , and its conclusion logically follows.
The universe being All matter and energy, including the earth, the galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space, regarded as a whole.
1-Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence
The first premise of our argument is plain comon snese, if something didn't exist prior a certain point in time, then started to exist from that point, then there necessarily needs to be a cause that triggered its beginning.
There is not one example that we know about in modern sceinece where something starts to exist "spontaneously" and uncaused, we can go further and say , if things were able to start to exist "on their own" with no cause, there would be no science. for one of the most basic principles in science is the causalty , or assuming causes in any beginning or any change.
Rebuting this premise is very simple, yet impossible!
2-The universe has a beginning of its existence
As the universe is the energy and matter forming the galaxies of our world, science so far assumes it has a beginning, and the theory of the bigbang happens to be the most favoured beginning to the universebased on empirical observations.
Let us still check the "possibility" of the universe being infinitely old, and having a periodic process of re-starting.
the problem with this theory is as the universe is infinite, it doesn't depend on time, but as it dies off, it does depend on time, and when it doesn't exist it still would need a cause to exist again. It isn't possible for matter and energy to come back to life after it dies off without external help.
and if the universe existed independently of time, what change and events could even occur to it ?! it would be static and never would change , it ouldn't decay nor expand, nor explose . for nothing can change it.
This theory just has an infinite number of flaws..
3-The universe has a cause of its existence
The conclusion of the argument, that couldn't follow more logically, now that we know the universe does have a beginning, it only got to have a cause. The argument doesn't reffer to what the cause ought to be, but it universally is assumed as being A sentient infinite creator known as the uncaused cause.
For only a sentient being could be inifintely old, This sentient being is even what allows change to happen (ie : time to pass) for time is only the concept of the possibility of change to happen.
--Now to the next round where I expect the first rebuttals of my opponent.
Alrighty, well I want to thank my opponent for accepting this debate, let's get down to it.
(P1) Everything that has a beginning of it's existence has a cause of it's existence
Common Sense vs. Objective Observation
My opponent begins by making an appeal to common sense, however common sense does not have a great track record when it comes to making true claims about the natural world. If one were to step outside and look around, common sense would lead them to the conclusion that the earth is flat, and that our sun was orbiting it, after all, on the length scales we are used to working with, the earth, barring the odd hill or mountain, looks flat in all directions, and when we look up to the sky, the sun certainly looks like it is spinning around the earth. Objective observation however, tells us that the earth is in fact not flat, but is in fact an oblate spheroid, which orbits around the sun, not the other way around.
The assertion that everything that begins to exist has a cause, is just that, an assertion, it isn't derived from any known law of physics or nature, and in fact is contradicted by natural phenomena. In quantum mechanics, particles can pop into existence before immediately annihilating each other, and indeed as it happens, assuming the truth of the big bang theory which you granted in your opening remarks, the universe in it's initial stages would have been so small that it would have been governed by quantum laws.
The Fallacy of Composition
But lets for a moment assume there is a hitherto unknown law of physics that confirms the truth of your first premise, everything that has a beginning has a cause. The problem here is that the laws of physics as we know them only explain phenomena in our universe. It would be nonsensical for one to take a scientific principle that describes the universe around us, and then attempt to apply that same principle to a state in which our world did not yet exist. This is known as the fallacy of composition. It arises when one attempts to make an inference about the whole system from the properties of a part of that system.
As an example, if we take an example of a whole system (a planet in this case) and then attempt to draw a conclusion about the properties of that system via an inference from the properties of a smaller part of said system (atoms) we would be lead inevitably to the conclusion that a planet and an atom behave in the same way and are governed by the same laws, which is obviously incorrect. The same can be said about the cosmological argument. Planets and galaxies are just a small part of the universe, and it is just as fallacious to assert that the whole universe plays by the same rules as a planet as it is to say that a planet plays by the same rules as an atom.
There is also something of an ambiguity in the phrase "beginning of it's existence". Does a chair "begin" to exist? When a carpenter makes a chair, he makes it out of preexistent material, wood, and when the chair is finished, if one looks at the atomic composition of the chair, nothing has been created, no atoms exist that did not exist before the chair was finished, the only thing that has changed is how the atoms are arranged. The same can be said to be true of everything from a table, a house, a car, a planet, a galaxy etc. The only thing that has changed is the arrangement of a set of atoms. In what sense can we say that they "began to exist".
The only type of creation that has ever been observed and therefore the only kind that we can make any kind of empirical statement about is "creation ex materia", creation from previously existing material. If the universe was created ex materia, then the question must be asked where that material came from, and if it that material was it's self created ex materia ad infinitum, then the argument creates an infinite regress. The alternative to creation ex materia is creation ex nihilo, creation from nothing. This is quite possibly an even bigger problem for the argument, because a causal relationship can only exist between two things that already exist, in fact any relationship can only exist between things that already exist. This forces the proponent the KCA into a devastating trilemma.
1. The cause of the universe (which we'll call God even though the argument doesn't explicitly mention him) affected previously existing material (creation ex materia) to produce the effect of creating the universe. This option however only puts the dilemma back a step, because the question must then be asked "where did the previously existing material come from.
2. God affected nothing (creation ex nihilo) to produce the effect of creating the universe. This is logically incoherent, one can not affect nothing and if nothing is affected, then there is no effect
3.God did not create the universe.
3. Is the only position that is logically coherent and to escape it would require redefining causality into utter meaninglessness.
Unfortunately due to time constraints, I can't give a adequate response to P2, but I need only refute one of the premises to refute the whole argument. I shall give P2 more attention in my later rebuttals, but for now I turn the floor over to my opponent and look forward to hearing her first rebuttal.
Iwould like to thank Boss for his first rebutals. As he focused on the first premise I will address his points regarding that..
1- Common sense :
My opponent commists a great mistake by expecting Common sense to follow from natural laws or from physics, It's the opposite that is true , the laws of physics are derived from our use of our human common sense and let me use the same example he took, which is flat fixed earth ..
Common sense doesn't tell us much about something we're in except that we should either go outside the box in order to get an idea on how earth looks like, or use any hints we can get inside the box to determine the shape and state of it. then it would be up to our judgement and how correct and precise it is.
Common sense doesn't give us direct answers but it tells us what to do in order to acquire proper natural, or physical or psychological knowledge.
And the Knowledge we gained so far in all fields is based on our use of the first premise of the argument of our debate, if anything pops up in front of us, we won't believe it's an accident, we would always assume there is something behind it, a cause to it.and we will try to explain it, and even if we ignored the cause, we would still know there is a cause, for the entire universe works on this basis.
2- The example of quantum mechanics:
I'm not pretty sure if you gave this example to strengthen the first premise, as to say the cause of the universe can be actully caused by a quantum fluctuation, or if you are claiming the actual fluctuation is uncaused ? I wish you could be more precise so I can reply to this point.
As the first premise isn't a law of phisiscs but an actual common sense, the premce as a rule can transcend to the outer-universe, for it isn't related to the universe or space, but rather to time.
Basically if something has a finite past, it's clear it started at time t=0, then we always expect that something else caused it to start, and triggered its beginning.
A thing begins to exist if it didn't exist prior a cetain time t, so a chair begins to exist, even if it's composed of alredy existing components. and a universe begins to exist even if it is the result of any form of phenomena caused to the empty space that existed before.
But the cause isn't the physical explanation , as for the chair, you can't expalin it by saying it's caused by the assemblage of processed wood from pre-existing trees, the direct cause id the human being who made it.
For the possible ways you'd interprete the God as the cause, 2.God affected nothing, and nothing is actually empty space, which is what our universe is actually expending into.
And he could also have affected Himself, so there is a way you didn't think about. but he definitely was needed to start the first event (at least) that led to the existence of our universe.
Back to Con..
Thank you FruityTree for your response, I apologise that mine are coming so very late.
You made a few responses to my first set of rebuttals
On Common Sense
"My opponent commists a great mistake by expecting Common sense to follow from natural laws or from physics, It's the opposite that is true , the laws of physics are derived from our use of our human common sense and let me use the same example he took, which is flat fixed earth .."
I must disagree, I made no such claim that our common sense must follow from the laws of physics, my point was in fact that one should not inform the other. Common sense isn't always a good way to deduce things about the natural world, and again, I go back to the example of the earth being flat and the sun orbiting it. We look up and we see the sun and it appears to be going around us, that is what our senses are telling us, but objective observation tells us just the opposite, that in fact we are orbiting around the sun.
"And the Knowledge we gained so far in all fields is based on our use of the first premise of the argument of our debate, if anything pops up in front of us, we won't believe it's an accident, we would always assume there is something behind it, a cause to it.and we will try to explain it, and even if we ignored the cause, we would still know there is a cause, for the entire universe works on this basis."
"I'm not pretty sure if you gave this example to strengthen the first premise, as to say the cause of the universe can be actully caused by a quantum fluctuation, or if you are claiming the actual fluctuation is uncaused ? I wish you could be more precise so I can reply to this point."
With regards to quantum mechanics, I used that example to show that uncaused things can and indeed do happen and happen all the time at the subatomic realm. A quantum fluctuation is not the cause, the fluctuation is the effect, and it has no apparent cause other than the energy of space it's self. Now, I myself don't subscribe to the idea that a vacuum fluctuation could have given rise to the universe as a whole, after all, one needs space to begin with for it to work. Why then do I bring it up? I will answer that a little later on in my rebuttals.
The Fallacy of Composition
"As the first premise isn't a law of phisiscs but an actual common sense"
Bingo. The first premise is not a law of physics. There is no known law of physics that demands that everything that begins to exist has a cause, the only thing the first premise is based off is intuition. The actual big bang event is something that our intuitions can give us absolutely no understanding of whatsoever because the idea of the whole universe being compacted down to the size of a proton is utterly alien to our everyday experiences, our intuition has no business trying to make any kind of claim about such an event.
"the premce as a rule can transcend to the outer-universe, for it isn't related to the universe or space, but rather to time."
This sentence is just riddled with assertions. Why does the fallacy of composition only apply to the universe or space? How do you know an "outer universe" even exists, or what it even is? Why does time transcend our universe but space doesn't? You haven't given argumentation for any of these points, you've just asserted them, and that which can be asserted without argument can be dismissed without argument, but I will make one anyway. There is no reason to think that time extends beyond our universe unless space does as well, because the two are interconnected. Relativity tells us that if you move at a speed approaching the speed of light through space, you also travel more quickly in time. And how exactly is the first premise not related to the universe? It's the first premise in an argument that attempts to show that the universe must have a cause, if it's not related, then why are we talking about it?
"No Boundary" proposal
"Basically if something has a finite past, it's clear it started at time t=0, then we always expect that something else caused it to start, and triggered its beginning."
Not necessarily. A universe can have a finite past, without having a beginning. In order for something to "begin", then there must be an earlier time when it did not exist, and a later time when it did exist. If we grant that space and therefore time came into existence at the big bang, it logically follows that there was no such thing as a "before" the big bang, because there was no such thing as a time before the big bang. It is therefore incorrect to say that the universe "began" to exist, as we would understand the term, because there was no time at which the universe did not exist. You yourself say just below this quote in your rebuttal, "A thing begins to exist if it didn't exist prior a certain time t" In this sense, the universe did not begin to exist, but it is not eternal either, it has a finite past, but it doesn't have a beginning. This is known as the "No Boundary" proposal.
"But the cause isn't the physical explanation , as for the chair, you can't expalin it by saying it's caused by the assemblage of processed wood from pre-existing trees, the direct cause id the human being who made it."
The assembling of wood from trees is the process by which causality happens, the wood from the trees is what is being affected, with the effect of the end result being a chair. But again notice that this is creation ex materia, the chair has been fashioned out of pre-existing materials, and even though in everyday conversation we may use the word "creation" when describing a carpenter making a chair, there is no creating happening, nothing is being created, all that is happening is that the carpenter is taking a collection of atoms and molecules, and reshaping them into a different configuration of those atoms and molecules. Nothing has actually been created, just rearranged.
"For the possible ways you'd interprete the God as the cause, 2.God affected nothing, and nothing is actually empty space, which is what our universe is actually expending into."
Nothing is not empty space. Nothing is no thing, simple as that. Empty space is something. If something is something, then it logically can not be nothing. This is insurmountable, the two words are mutually exclusive. Empty space is something. It can be bent and warped by the presence of mass. But return with me if you will to my first rebuttal of this round
"Now, I myself don't subscribe to the idea that a vacuum fluctuation could have given rise to the universe as a whole, after all, one needs space to begin with for it to work. Why then do I bring it up?"
This is why I brought it up. I reject the notion that the universe could have sprang into existence from nothing as the result of a vacuum fluctuation because you need space in order for that to happen, space that I don't think was there... but my opponent does. Unfortunately, if she asserts that in the beginning there was in fact empty space, then 1. The universe didn't begin to exist (which we've already established anyway) in so far as space is a property of our universe and it existed at the beginning, therefore the universe in some sense already existed before big bang, and 2. our universe now has a mechanism by which the big bang can happen because we have empty space, and that's all we need because then we have vacuum fluctuations which, given enough time, will produce any arrangement of matter you could care to think of, including a universe.
I want to emphasize that this is not a point of view that I am arguing, I don't think this can totally explain the universe as we see it because we need empty space in the first place, but if my opponent insists on contorting the definition of "nothing" into "empty space" then she has to deal with the consequences of that redefinition.
Well, there are a few points that I just didn't have the time to respond to with just over 10 minutes left until the deadline, I must turn the floor over to my opponent for her rebuttals, and I will address them and her new responses in my next round.
Thanks again Boss, I will try to respond to your rebuttals as well..
By common sense I certainly don't mean the conclusion , as two different people may use common sense and have different conclusions, but it's still on the basis of common sense that we got science and physics amongs other things that help us understand our world, but science and physics are limited so far by this universe, when reason and common sense can go beyond. so the first premise really.
You were expecting the first premise to be a physiscs law and it is not! it doesn't speak about what anything could be, and if it did , it's not talking about physical process, but about the direct cause, the instigator. physics and science aren't the right tools to know the direct cause, reason and common sense are..
What is the evidence that this fluctuation has no cause ?! and when did it begin to exist ? Isn't this a thing that happens that you don't understand and jsut accept there is no cause for it?! what else do you know that doesn't have a cause ?
The Fallacy of Composition
Since the universe past is finite, the before universe exists, which is a time when the universe didn't exist yet, you want to assume time only started to exist with the universe, but this is impossible, for the universe couldn't have existed if time didn't already exist.
Why ? I give you just 2 reasons:
first , the definition of time is totally independant of the universe, we know time because of the successive events that happen arround us, time is simply what allows events to be.
the universe as one event in time couldn't exist if time didn't exist.
the rotation of the earth and stars is only a way for us to measure time, just as objects are ways for us to measure space.
so you really can't say time started with the universe, or you'll have to give a good definition of time with a good reason I should beleive time began to exist, as long as you don't, time is infinite and can't be restricted to an event!
As for Space, the space isn't only the space inside the universe, as the universe does expend, and what we get more inside our universe is just space in between the galaxies, it's very fair to assume we're geting the empty space form outside the boudaries or our universe, the universe isn't all the space, the universe is very related to matter, if we arrive to a place where there are no more galaxies, then it's the edge of the universe and the begining of nothing.
Whatever it is , a transformation is accepted in the language and in this debate as a creation and falls under the KSA.
Nothing when you speak about the universe can only be empty space, it cannot be the true nothing that never existed.
We always say nothing in referece to something , not any thing, and the thing here isn't the space, but matter and energy that are the main objects or our universe.
You reject it without evidence, for some reason you want to believe space and time are things of our universe only and can't be independant, but their definition say they can! or what are space and time ?
Remember eventual empty space prior to the universe existence isn't part of the universe. even if the universe collapses the space (and time) still exist !
And I beleive so far that we really need to agree about universe, space, time definitions otherwise we won't be talking about the same thing.
And as you say about empty space and quantum fuctuations that they would explain the existence of the universe, they still don't give the cause, for the cause isn't the process by which you get a universe, but the direct reason behind it's existence.
Ok I hope you could further develop on quantum mechanics , time ,space and universe definitions, I need absolute definitions that are true always (or as long as time exists :) )
Back to Con..
"as two different people may use common sense and have different conclusions"
I could just stop here because I couldn't put it any better than you just did. Person A could come to conclusion x and person B could come to conclusion y through the exact same mode of inquiry because our common sense, our intuition is molded by our life experiences. Common sense says if we drop something, it will fall, because every time we've ever dropped something, it has fallen. For dealing with everyday matters, common sense may well be an acceptable adjudicator of what is and is not true, but the beginning of the universe is about as far removed from an every day event that one could possibly get, so our intuitions are useless in such circumstances.
"science and physics are limited so far by this universe, when reason and common sense can go beyond."
Let's assume for the sake of argument that another universe exists independent from hours, with a completely different set of laws of physics, a completely different way of working, are you saying that our intuitions, formed from experiences on one tiny planet in the corner of one average galaxy, indistinguishable from the other countless billions in our own universe, are you saying that these intuitions, our common sense, whatever name you care to give it, could tell us anything about this other universe? Why can reason and common sense go beyond our universe? Our reason and common sense can barely grapple with phenomena in our own universe, things like black holes totally baffle us. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and the idea that our common sense can tell us anything about what happens outside our own universe is about as extraordinary as it gets.
"physics and science aren't the right tools to know the direct cause, reason and common sense are.."
Two assertions for the price of one here. Why would science, the methodology with the greatest track record in history for deducing things about the natural world, suddenly be useless when trying to describe how that world began, and why would common sense, which has a poor track record when it comes to finding things out about the natural world (I've provided two examples in earlier rounds for this) and which flat out can not grasp things like black holes and the more abstract ideas in quantum theory, why would it suddenly be the only tool we have that could tell us anything about the beginning of the universe?
"What is the evidence that this fluctuation has no cause ?"
This is a fallacious question because it's demanding a negative proof. When Carbon-14 decays into Carbon-12, it is a totally random, unpredictable event, absent of any discernible, apparent cause. Carbon-12 started to exist, without cause, it wasn't caused to exist by Carbon-12, it began to exist, and the only reason to think that it was caused to exist would be an ideological one, such as the idea that everything that begins to exist must have a cause. Ditto with virtual particles bursting into existence from nothing, either explain exactly how such events are caused, (and claim your nobel prize for doing so) or amend your first premise
"Isn't this a thing that happens that you don't understand and jsut accept there is no cause for it?"
Even if this was true it wouldn't matter. As it happens quantum mechanics is very well understood, not by common sense, but mathematically, which is all that really matters, that's all the theory needs to function, but even if it wasn't, even if our saying it was uncaused was just a product of our lack of understanding, you have still made a universal claim (everything that begins to exist has a cause), I have still provided a counter example to that claim (C-14 decay, virtual particles), and your only options are to explain how the counter examples are not actually counter examples, or amend your universal claim.
On Space and Time
"time is simply what allows events to be."
It must be remembered that time is not an independant thing in and of it's self. General Relativity tells us that space and time are in fact united and interconnected. Time can be twisted, bent and warped in the same way that space can. This line of discussion however isn't particularly relevant. If time always existed, then space always existed, which means that the conditions capable of producing a big bang always existed, which would seem to make the big bang inevitable rather than dependent on an external cause.
"As for Space, the space isn't only the space inside the universe"
If there were space beyond our own universe, wouldn't that be part of the universe. You said the universe included all energy, well, empty space has energy, why wouldn't it be a part of the universe?
"if we arrive to a place where there are no more galaxies, then it's the edge of the universe and the begining of nothing."
Well it can't be the beginning of nothing, empty space isn't nothing, and nothing doesn't "begin", time can not have any effect on something because there is nothing for it to effect.
There are two different types of creation, a point I have laboured to make over the course of this debate. If you want to say that the universe was created from nothing, "creation ex nihilo", then you can't use examples of creation ex materia to support this claim without committing the fallacy of equivocation.
Nothing can not be empty space because empty space is not nothing. Nothing is A and empty space is B, A does not equal B.
I don't talk about nothing in reference to something, that would be logically absurd, the two are antonyms
You accept it without evidence, there can be no evidence that such things exist or even make sense outside our universe because we can't experience anything outside our universe, there is no reason to even think there is an outside of our universe.
"Remember eventual empty space prior to the universe existence isn't part of the universe. even if the universe collapses the space (and time) still exist !"
You defined the universe as "The universe being All matter and energy, including the earth, the galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space, regarded as a whole." So if the universe is all energy, and empty space has energy, then why is empty space not a part of our universe?
"And as you say about empty space and quantum fuctuations that they would explain the existence of the universe, they still don't give the cause, for the cause isn't the process by which you get a universe, but the direct reason behind it's existence."
This is circular, you have assumed there is a cause and then criticized my response because it does not provide a cause, when it is whether or not the universe has cause that we are arguing about in the first place. It is totally irrelevant if empty space and quantum fluctuations aren't in fact a cause, because you have not demonstrated that a cause is required.
Back to pro
Fruitytree forfeited this round.
I would like to thank my opponent again for his argument and coutesy.
I will not take advantage of this round for that would be unfair, I wanted just to clarify 2 points.
First about common sense when I said 2 people could use common sense but come to different conclusion, that is because common sense can be missused, some people are more experienced on when use what,
The second point is about the time ans space definitions, my opponent basically didn't give a definition of time, how can we agree on areguments or premises if we don't even agree about the definitions ?!
I thank again My opponent , whom I would debate with pleasure in the future.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
|Agreed with before the debate:||-||-||0 points|
|Agreed with after the debate:||-||-||0 points|
|Who had better conduct:||-||-||1 point|
|Had better spelling and grammar:||-||-||1 point|
|Made more convincing arguments:||-||-||3 points|
|Used the most reliable sources:||-||-||2 points|
|Total points awarded:||4||0|
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.