The Instigator
Hyperion1
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Rational_Thinker9119
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points

Kalam Cosmological Argument

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Post Voting Period
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after 4 votes the winner is...
Rational_Thinker9119
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/27/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,351 times Debate No: 23897
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (4)

 

Hyperion1

Pro

1) Whatever began to exist has a cause for its existence.
2) The universe began to exist.
3) Therefore, the universe has a cause for its existence.

Premise 1 is true by experience: we don't observe everyday objects coming into existence out of nothing, or we'd live in a very chaotic world. It's also true by metaphysical intuition: we can't conceive of a possible world where things come into existence uncaused.

Premise 2 is true for two reasons. First, we have scientific evidence that the universe came into existence in a Big Bang singularity, which was the first moment in time for the universe. Second, we know that the universe can't exist forever, because if there was an infinite past then we would never get to the present, and no matter how long we wait there will never be an infinite number of future moments between now and an infinite point in the future.

Thus the argument proves the existence for a cause of the universe.


Craig, W. L. and Sinclair, J. D. (2009) The Kalam Cosmological Argument, in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (eds W. L. Craig and J. P. Moreland), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Premise 1

"Premise 1 is true by experience: we don't observe everyday objects coming into existence out of nothing, or we'd live in a very chaotic world. It's also true by metaphysical intuition: we can't conceive of a possible world where things come into existence uncaused."

My opponent is correct that we don't see objects coming into existence out of nothing, this is because what we would refer to as "absolutely nothingness" doesn't exist. The only thing close we have to "nothing" is empty space, and when it comes to space, when we get down to the subatomic level, quantum fluctuations occur all the time. A particle and anti-particle pair will pop into existence and annihilate eachother in what would be otherwise empty space, and pop out of existence without any "trigger" cause.


This is a generally known fact in physics, and this is allowed due to the Uncertainty Principle, which states that local hidden variables are impossible [1].

"Quantum events have a way of just happening, without any cause, as when a radioactive atom decays
at a random time. Even the quantum vacuum is not an inert void, but is boiling with quantum fluctuations. In our macroscopic world, we are used to energy conservation, but in the quantum realm this holds only on average." - Taner Edis. Department of Physics Truman State University Kirksville [2]

Now what about causal principles? Well, these principles seem to break down at the subatomic level so 
we do have an example of something which resembles spontaneous creation from "nothing" (even if it is
not exactly creatio ex nihilo).

Also, as far as objective causation is concerned (causation would be true, is beings with brains didn't
exist), I would argue:


P1: x has a cause, if x is a consequence of that which occurs earlier to x

P2: There was no earlier to The Big Bang, the Planck Epoch (0 to 10−43 seconds) was the earliest
period [2]

P3: The universe could not have been a consequence of that which occurred earlier to the universe

C: The universe is not something which had a cause

William Lane Craig tries to address arguments like mine, by appealing to simultaneous causation:

"For example, a heavy chandelier hanging on a chain from the ceiling. The ceiling and chain hold up the
chandelier; the chandelier and chain don't support the ceiling... They[Atheists] might say that even
simultaneous causation presupposes time. Yes, the cause and effect occur at the same time. But then
why couldn't such a causal dependency exist timelessly?" - William Lane Craig [3]

The problem is that for simultaneous causation to have occurred, the causal dependency must have
involved the beginning of the existence of the chandelier, chain, and ceiling which occurred temporally
prior to the effect in question. Also, other conditions which existed earlier to this simultaneous causation
must have existed before the effect as well, thus, even simultaneous causation can only occur if it is the
result of that which occurred earlier. So it seems, that even the idea of a timeless causal dependency
doesn't make much sense because even causal dependency presupposes time. It also seems, that Premise
1 of my argument is not phased in light of simultaneous causation.

What does this mean? If God exists he is the cause of the universe, but there are good reasons to believe
that causation does not past the limits of space-time. Theists are simply just using spatio-temporal
experiences and trying to apply them to the universe itself fallaciously. Thus, God probably did not
create, or cause the universe to begin to exist, because there is no earlier to The Big Bang for this cause
to exist.

Premise 2

"Premise 2 is true for two reasons. First, we have scientific evidence that the universe came
into existence in a Big Bang singularity, which was the first moment in time for the universe.
Second, we know that the universe can't exist forever, because if there was an infinite past then
we would never get to the present, and no matter how long we wait there will never be an infinite
number of future moments between now and an infinite point in the future."

Now, it is true that the universe has a finite past. However, philosophers such as Atheist Adolf Grunbaum
and Theist Richard Swineburne have argued that something only beings to exist if there was a time earlier
at which it didn't exist. This makes sense, however there is no "earlier" to The Big Bang in which the
universe couldn't have existed. [4]
Now, lets say that both of those philosophers are wrong, this would mean that the universe had a real beginning somehow, which is supported by Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin’s Past-Finite Universe paper. [5] Alexander Vilenkin has created a model which explains how this could happen, due to something coming from which resembles nothing, uncaused.

Alexander Vilenkin’s model of cosmic origins [6] is mathematically and scientifically plausible (a model which infers the universe arising from a timeless empty geometry). This model describes the universe emerging from a quantum tunneling event (without a cause) with a finite size (a = H-1) and with a zero rate of expansion or contraction (da/dt = 0). It's plausible that the universe emerged in a symmetric vacuum state, which then decayed with the inflationary era beginning; and after this era ended, the universe evolved according to the standard Big Bang model.

Conclusion

"Thus the argument proves the existence for a cause of the universe."

The Kalam Cosmological Argument definitely fails to show logically that the universe requires a cause. It may seem reasonable on the surface, but once you dig into the implications of it's premises it falls apart.

Sources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://atheism.about.com...
[3] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
[4] http://www.colorado.edu...
[5] http://debunkingwlc.wordpress.com...
[6] http://debunkingwlc.wordpress.com...


Debate Round No. 1
Hyperion1

Pro

Premise 1

Particle/anti-particle pairs come into existence from empty space, and Pro correctly defined empty space as "the only thing close we have to 'nothing.'" In fact, even an absolute vacuum is teeming with energy; a cubic meter of absolute nothingness contains 10 to the -9th power joules of energy.(1) So these particle pairs don't come out of nothing, and don't refute the causal principle, which everyone intuitively knows, that "nothing comes from nothing."

Pro is correct that there was no time earlier than the Big Bang Singularity; this necessitates that the cause of the universe is removed altogether from the temporal framework of the universe. Perhaps it exists in a time stream tangental to our own, or perhaps it exists in a timeless realm. There's no conceptual reason why such a thing can't happen.


Premise 2

Pro cites Vilenkin's model of cosmic origins as a model from which something comes from that which "resembles" nothing. Key word: "resembles." Even under Vilenkin's model, this universe would have had to come from something, which in turn would have had to come from something else, which leads to an infinite regress. Also, a theory being "plausible" in this sense only means that it's consistent with the known evidence -- i.e. it's possible. There's a non-zero chance that it's true. That's consistent with there being an extremely low probability that it's true. Most physicists believe that the universe came from a singularity at which space and time began, and few if any physicists suport Vilenkin.(2)

Also, Pro did not address my argument that, aside from the scientific evidence, an infinitely existing universe is metaphysically impossible, because an infinite past would require an infinite number of moments to pass before we reached the present, and an infinite number of moments in the future will never be arrived at no matter how long we wait.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument stands.



(1) Sean Carroll, Sr Research Associate - Physics, California Institute of Technology, June 22, 2006C-SPAN broadcast of Cosmology at Yearly Kos Science Panel, Part 1
(2) http://space.about.com...;
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Premise 1

The only reason the vacuum is teeming with energy is because the fluctuations are occurring. They are occurring in what would otherwise be, empty space. So the only example we have of something remotely from nothing, does so with no apparent cause. Thus, there is absolutely no reason to deny that likelihood that the universe began spontaneously. Thus, the Kalam Cosmological Argument clearly is standing on very shaky grounds at best.


"Pro is correct that there was no time earlier than the Big Bang Singularity; this necessitates that the cause of the universe is removed altogether from the temporal framework of the universe. Perhaps it exists in a time stream tangental to our own, or perhaps it exists in a timeless realm. There's no conceptual reason why such a thing can't happen."

Or maybe there is no cause, this is the simplest explanation. We know of events that don't have any initial causes, like the radioactive decay of an atom and spontaneous quantum fluctuations. There is also no reason to assume the universe came from absolutely nothing either, there is nothing about a finite-past universe (which is all the paper you mentioned demonstrated) which indicates it came from literally absolutely nothing. It could have came from an empty geometry indistinguishable from nothing. My opponent is trying to propose false dilemmas to make a faulty case work.


Premise 2

"Pro cites Vilenkin's model of cosmic origins as a model from which something comes from that which "resembles" nothing. Key word: "resembles." Even under Vilenkin's model, this universe would have had to come from something, which in turn would have had to come from something else"


This is false. The empty geometry from which the universe appeared in Vilenkin's model was a timeless and spaceless geometry. Thus, it didn't need a beginning or a cause by Pro's own standard.

"Most physicists believe that the universe came from a singularity at which space and time began, and few if any physicists support Vilenkin."

My opponent simply doesn't understand Vilenkin's model. Time and space did begin under his model, so she is clearly mistaken (I even mentioned in my opening round that describes his model, and that the geometry is timeless). Also, most physicists I have researched believe Alexander's model is plausible and the claim that they don't support him is simply not true. There is no reason to exclude his model.

Conclusion

My opponent clearly failed to show why the Kalam Cosmological Argument succeeds, and I succeeded to show why it fails.
Debate Round No. 2
Hyperion1

Pro

Since this is my last statement, I want to thank RationalThinker for a great debate. I also invite anyone who reads this to critique my arguments and to make suggestions on how I might have done better.


Premise 1

Pro is in essence claiming that the energy in an absolute vacuum does not produce these particles, but rather consists of these particles. However, he has given no source, no science to show that this is the case.

The Uncertainty Principle speaks only to our inability to predict certain things about particle/anti-particle pairs, radioactive atomic decay, and so on; to say that it has metaphysical implications for the causation or non-causation of these pairs is begging the question.

Pro suggests that an uncaused universe is the simplest explanation. However, preferring simple to complex explanations is a principle that only applies when all other circumstances are equal. If the Kalam argument succeeds, then other circumstances are not equal, for we have strong inductive reasons to think that the universe did have a cause. So by appealing to simplicity, Pro is again begging the question against the argument.

As for the suggestion that the universe could have come from "an empty geometry indistinguishable from nothing," I don't think that such a concept is coherent. A true nothing would lack, among everything else, geometry itself. Unless by "geometry" Pro means something like "the underlying fabric of space-time," in which case he's appealing to something rather than nothing, and something that seems to be part of this universe rather than the metaphysical layer from which it sprang.


Premise 2

Again, unless "geometry" is a code word for something other than mathematical geometry, the only geometry possible in a timeless and spaceless model is a zero-dimensional, zero-time universe. But that describes the Big Bang singularity.

Finally, my opponent has still failed to show why an infinite regress of moments is possible. He did say in his first statement that an infinite number of moments could have been traversed to reach the present, so long as the traverse never began. But consider the counterpart of an infinite past: an infinite future. No matter how much time passes, there will never be an infinite number of moments starting from now and extending into the future. If the concept of traversing moments is coherent in both directions, then no matter how many moments we traverse toward the past, we will never reach an infinite number of moments prior to now. This proves that the universe had a beginning.


Thus, the Kalam Cosmological Argument stands. Thanks again to my opponent for a great debate. :-)
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Well, I thank my opponent for this intellectually engaging deabte, and hope she continues to do more debates in the future.

Premise 1

The vacuum is a sea of fluctuating particles, but if there were no fluctuations then it would be an inert void of empty space.

I already quoted particle physicist Taner Edis, who explains this better than I:

"Quantum events have a way of just happening, without any cause, as when a radioactive atom decays at a random time. Even the quantum vacuum is not an inert void, but is boiling with quantum fluctuations. In our macroscopic world, we are used to energy conservation, but in the quantum realm this holds only on average." - Taner Edis. Department of Physics Truman State University Kirksville [1]


Basically, the quantum fluctuations occur in empty space, and it's the fluctuations themselves that are the energy.

"Uncaused, random quantum fluctuations in a flat, empty, featureless spacetime can produce local regions with positive or negative curvature" - Victor Stenger. American Particle Physicist [2]

It's the very nature of these quantum events, which have many physicists speculating that these quantum events had something to do with The Big Bang. Basically, the conservation of energy appears to be violated for short periods of time (but this is allowed by the Uncertainly Principle) due to the spontaneous creation of particle and anti-particle pairs. It seems, one would have to be blind to not see a connection with this and the The Big Bang and how our universe possibly arose.

"Once our minds accept the mutability of matter and the new idea of the vacuum, we can speculate on the origin of the biggest thing we know—the universe. Maybe the universe itself sprang into existence out of nothingness—a gigantic vacuum fluctuation which we know today as the big bang. Remarkably, the laws of modern physics allow for this possibility" - Heinz Pagals. American Physicist, an adjunct Professor of Physics at Rockefeller University [2]

So, can something "begin to exist" without a cause? Absolutely. There is absolutely no reason to accept the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

"Let's consider the first premise of the argument, that whatever has a beginning to its existence must have a cause. What reason is there to believe this causal principle is true? It's not self-evident; something is self-evident if and only if everyone who understands it automatically believes it. But many people, including leading theists such as Richard Swinburne, understand this principle very well but think it is false. Many philosophers, scientists, and indeed the majority of graduate and undergraduate students I've had in my classes think this principle is false. This principle is not self-evident, nor can this principle be deduced from any self-evident proposition." - Quentin Persifor Smith.Americancontemporaryphilosopher, scholar and professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. [3]

Now, my opponent accuses me of begging the question regarding the "metaphysical implications" of the Uncertainty Principle. Yes, the Uncertainty Principle speaks on our inability to predict certain things regarding quantum events, my point was this allows for acausal events to occur. I wasn't claiming that the Uncertainty Principle states that these particles are required to be uncaused, just that the Principle allows for this to happen, and this is what physicists believe does happen.

For example, Uranium 238 has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. That means that a given U238 nucleus could sit there, motionless and unchanging for billions of years with nothing changing in it's environment, and then all of a sudden it decays. What caused it to decay at that particular time after billions of years? Nothing, it was an uncaused event.

"Pro suggests that an uncaused universe is the simplest explanation. However, preferring simple to complex explanations is a principle that only applies when all other circumstances are equal. If the Kalam argument succeeds, then other circumstances are not equal, for we have strong inductive reasons to think that the universe did have a cause. So by appealing to simplicity, Pro is again begging the question against the argument."

This is ironic, I'm being accused of begging the question, yet my opponent is begging the question against my reasons for why there most likely isn't a cause of The Big Bang (she just assumes her position is more superior, when in reality, it isn't).

"A true nothing would lack, among everything else, geometry itself."

Nobody ever claimed the universe came from truly nothing in the first place though, the universe could have came from something which was indistinguishable from nothing, but not really nothing. I'm not sure why my opponent is so hell bent on the universe coming from absolutely nothing.

"Unless by "geometry" Pro means something like "the underlying fabric of space-time," in which case he's appealing to something rather than nothing, and something that seems to be part of this universe rather than the metaphysical layer from which it sprang."

A mathematical geometry is what Alexander Vilenkin describes the universe came from (hypothetically), which contained no space, no time, and was governed by quantum laws. My opponent is assuming the laws of physics must only pertain to within the universe, however no major physicist that I've researched believes this is the case.

"The state of 'nothing' cannot be identified with absolute nothingness. The tunneling is described by the laws of quantum mechanics, and thus 'nothing' should be subject to these laws. The laws of physics must have existed, even though there was no universe."

- Alexander Vilenkin [4]


Premise 2

"Again, unless "geometry" is a code word for something other than mathematical geometry, the only geometry possible in a timeless and spaceless model is a zero-dimensional, zero-time universe. But that describes the Big Bang singularity."

My opponent didn't even really attempt to explain why Alexander's model was incorrect, even though I explained it in my first round. Regardless, if there is no time and no space, then there is no need for it to have a cause (theists believe that since God is timeless and spaceless, and he doesn't have to have cause). The theist could claim that this geometry is absolutely nothing, but it isn't, and no physicist I have researched believes that this is the case.

"Finally, my opponent has still failed to show why an infinite regress of moments is possible. He did say in his first statement that an infinite number of moments could have been traversed to reach the present.."

I never said such a thing, nothing I mentioned appealed to an infinite regress, I conceded a finite past. Stephen Hawking's no-boundary proposal and Alexander Vilenkin's models of cosmic origins both fit with Vilenkin, Guth, and Borde's paper demonstrating a finite past.

Conclusion

1)
My opponent got carried away with the physics, and completely dodged my syllogism arguing in favor of the universe not requiring a cause, thus is stands. My opponent also completely ignored Grunbaum and Swinburne's argument for what it means to "begins to exist".


2) Untriggered, or uncaused events are allowed in physics, and there is no reason to accept P1 in the first place

3) The universe could have actually began (which is likely), but models of the universe's "origin" work without causation and as far as Hawking's model goes, without a beginning even with a finite past (I wish I had more time to delve into Hawking's proposal).


My opponent had the burden of proof. I believe she failed to meet it, and I suceeded to meet mine in undermining her claims.

Sources

[1] http://atheism.about.com...
[2] http://www.infidels.org...
[3] http://www.secularhumanism.org...
[4] http://debunkingwlc.wordpress.com...




Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Hyperion1 5 years ago
Hyperion1
SuburbiaSurvivor, please give a more detailed RFD when you have time. :)
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
--- continued ---

- I liked your claim that empty geometries that are not nothing, but which are indistinguishable from nothing, are incoherent. Very effective.
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
Rational Thinker is getting good. This is the best I've seen him do.

Sources obviously go to Con.

As for persuasion, Pro staked his case on the claim that if something begins to exist, it has a cause. Con showed that this claim is not a scientific consensus. So Pro would need a one heckofan argument to establish his claim in the teeth of scientific consensus.

But Pro didn't even attempt that. Instead of arguing that quantum fluctuations have causes unknown to science, Pro argued that there was energy nearby. That is tangential; it is not even a claim that they the fluctuations are uncaused.

Persuasion: Con.

Obiter Dicta:

- Pro asked for advice. I'm going to suggest that these two claims don't belong in the same argument:

: Premise 1 is true by experience: we don't observe everyday objects coming into existence out of nothing,

and

: this necessitates that the cause of the universe is removed altogether from the temporal framework of the
: universe. Perhaps it exists in a time stream tangential to our own, or perhaps it exists in a timeless realm. There's
: no conceptual reason why such a thing can't happen.

Con could have had a "turn" here, by pointing out that _you_ stipulated that not observing something means it doesn't happen, so therefore, since we don't observe them, you have effectively stipulated that your tangential time streams and timeless realms don't exist.

- I believe this statement was an error:

: The Uncertainty Principle speaks only to our inability to predict certain things about particle/anti-particle pairs,
: radioactive atomic decay, and so on; to say that it has metaphysical implications for the causation or
: non-causation of these pairs is begging the question.

I believe you are pitting your personal opinion against that of scientists generally. If you hope to be persuasive on this point, you need either citations or great argumentation.

--- continued ---
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
Waterskier:

Pro's argument doesn't have the last step that you object to. Pro argues only that there is _some_ cause, not that the cause is god.
Posted by Meatros 5 years ago
Meatros
RFD: The KCA is typically an argument for the existence of God, yet in the first round, that's hard to discern that this is what the Pro was arguing for. I found Con's argument contra Craig (ie, requirement of pre-existing material) very compelling. Con continues his compelling case into round two with his argument regarding the possibility of no causes. Pro does put up a good fight in the conclusion with regards to complexity. Further, Pro's argument about an infinite regress was largely unaddressed, but while this might have proved a beginning to the universe - a beginning is not what is under contention - what was under contention was whether or not this beginning was caused. To this effect I think Con demonstrated that it is possible that the universe arose without a cause, thereby refuting the KCA.
Posted by waterskier 5 years ago
waterskier
my problem with the cosmological argument is the last step. You can't say the universe had a cause, therefore god. You can use the cosmological argument to prove that the universe had a cause, NOT that the cause was god. If you say the universe had a cause, therefore god you just sound like the ancient aliens guy
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by SuburbiaSurvivor 5 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
Hyperion1Rational_Thinker9119Tied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Not really much of a challenge here. Con gave better arguments and more sources. I'll give a more detailed RFD if one is requested.
Vote Placed by Wallstreetatheist 5 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
Hyperion1Rational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con had more sources and diverse sources.
Vote Placed by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
Hyperion1Rational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by Meatros 5 years ago
Meatros
Hyperion1Rational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.