The Instigator
sensibletheism909
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Rational_Thinker9119
Con (against)
Winning
5 Points

Resolved; quantum mechanics do not refute the first premise of Kalam

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Rational_Thinker9119
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/20/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,583 times Debate No: 24360
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (33)
Votes (1)

 

sensibletheism909

Pro

Resolved; quantum physics does not require us to abandon the principle that everything which begins to exist has a cause.

Rounds;

1) acceptance
2) opening arguments
3) rebuttal's
4) second rebuttal's and closing remarks.

In this debate my opponent and I both share the burden of proof. I must show that one can hold to quantum mechanics and the 1st premise of Kalam without contradiction. My opponent must show that holding to both is logically incoherent. If I fail to uphold my burden I lose the debate, same thing goes for my opponent.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

This debate caught my eye immediately, I would love to debate this. Present your case.
Debate Round No. 1
sensibletheism909

Pro

It has been claimed by sceptics of all different stripes that quantum physics has shown that something can come from nothing. Mainly they use what are known as quantum fluctuations to build their case. Quantum fluctuations occur when energy particles pop into existence out of empty space for but a fleeting moment then disappear. At first glance such fluctuations do seem to be coming from nothing, but a closer look reveals this is simply not the case. See quantum fluctuations arise out of the quantum vacuum, which is not nothing at all, but is rather a complex structure of interconnecting vibrating fields of energy. Energy particles pop into and out of existence randomly out of this vacuum [1].

Robert C. Koons, professor of philosophy at the university of Texas puts it this way; "Others have used the creation of virtual particles from the vacuum as evidence that things can begin to exist without a cause. If the energy involved is small enough, and the period of existence is short enough, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle allows particles to emerge from "nothing" and to disappear shortly thereafter. However, this argument fails to distinguish between something containing no energy or particles and sheer nothingness. In quantum mechanics, the vacuum is not a nothing. It is the indeterministic cause of the temporary existence of the virtual particles."[2]

Stern Gerlach experiment; A more challenging issue arises in the Stern Gerlach experiment. The Stern Gerlach experiment involves certain properties of an electron called its "spin". At any angle or along any axis an electrons spin is either spin up or spin down. A Stern Gerlach device measures this spin, and can be rotated to measure such spin at any degree from 0 to 360. In the Stern Gerlach experiment 2 of these devices are set to measure an electrons spin at two different axis 90 degrees from one another. Now the probability of the second device measuring the same spin of the 1st is precisely 50%. But the controversy lies in whether or not this is an objectively indeterminate or subjectively indeterminate event. A subjectively indeterminate event is such that the even is determined but our knowledge and awareness of the event is limited so that the even appears indeterminate. Objective indeterminacy on the other hand suggests that there in fact is no explanation of said event. Thus if the spin of the electron is objectively indeterminate then it is uncaused. I would argue that the event described in the Stern Gerlach experiment is only subjectively indeterminate. There are a number of ways this could be the case. The first of which is that there is a hidden variable in the electron itself causing it to spin up or spin down.

This theory is described briefly on Maverick Christians (a student of philosophy in Minnesota) blog; "For example, if an electron has a F property then it has the property that determines a �€œspin up�€� result if measured on the F axis. One version of hidden variable theory says that locality is true�€"which in this case means that a measurement on electron #1 has no physical effect on electron #2 (the denial of locality is called nonlocality). The conjunction of locality and hidden variable theory is called local hidden variable theory. So how does local hidden variable theory account for the electron spins always being opposite when the entangled electrons are measured on the same axis? By having the potential opposite spin results �€œbuilt-in�€� in advance. So if electron #1 is F L R , then electron #2 would be F�€"L�€"R�€" to guarantee that if the electrons were measured on the same axis the spin measurement results would be opposite." [3]
For a more scholarly source and a more detailed description of a hidden variable theory see; http://arxiv.org...

A second possibility which is much more philosophical in nature is described on this website (for the sake of brevity I won't explain it here); http://telicthoughts.com...

Bohm's interpretation of quantum mechanics; Where as most hidden variable theories depend on a concept known as locality (the principle that only particles near one another can affect one another) Bohm's theory shows how much of quantum mechanics can be deterministic without locality. For an interesting analysis of the theory as well as some objections and responses to it see; http://plato.stanford.edu....

If you were attentive you noticed that I seemed to grant that quantum fluctuations occur without explanation, even if they do in fact come from something. So are quantum fluctuations objectively indeterministic? Perhaps, as of yet no probable theory has been formulated to render such an event determined (but note, its still possible). But lets grant that quantum fluctuations are in fact spontaneous, do we have grounds to reject the principle that everything that begins to exist has a cause? Hardly, what we would have in that case is an occurrence of an event with all the necessary physical conditions to make said event possible but do not guarantee the event. Thus quantum fluctuations are very much still caused in the sense that there was the potential for them to exist, there simply wasn't a mechanism to direct its occurrence. I for one, fail to see how this shows that it is possible for something to begin to exist without any necessary conditions.[4]

Of course these are just some of the theories posited to interpret the quantum realm. But I think this establishes fairly well that quantum mechanics does not necessitate that one abandon causality. Furthermore I'm shocked that skeptics take this route so readily. If it is correct that the universe came from nothing and that sub-atomic particles come from nothing then it becomes inexplicable why only sub-atomic particles do so, it also seems unknowable whether something is truly determined or if it only appears to be determined, is it not possible then that everything we see is uncaused and that the external world is thus nothing? How could we know if one event only appeared to be causing another event when really one followed the other without explanation? To reject the causal principle, it seems to me, is to effectively destroy epistemology and science in one swift motion. The curious thing is most skeptics I know are very passionate about science, so why would they adopt a theory of reality which at best severely inhibits science, and at worst renders it completely useless? I can only explain it as desperation to avoid an undesired conclusion, or shear ignorance, or perhaps there is no explanation at all.

1. http://abyss.uoregon.edu...
2. http://www.doxa.ws...
3. http://maverickchristian.blogspot.com...
4. http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

I will not need too much room as far as this exchange is concerned...

Opening Argument


In this debate, I will be showing that even if quantum fluctuations don't occur from nothing, and even if there are deterministic interpretations, quantum mechanics still disproves the first premise (I will not be rebutting any of my opponent's specific claims in this round, as this is my opening argument).

Why do I say this? Well for one, theists seem to believe that something can begin to exist, even if it doesn't begin to exist from nothing. For example, a chair begins to exist, even though it's not from nothing. Thus, even if quantum fluctuations aren't from nothing, if it's possible that they are uncaused, then the first premise is still falsified. Theistic arguments about quantum fluctuations not actually coming from nothing are irrelevant, because they still "begin to exist" according to theistic standards. If the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument was "everything that begins to exist from nothing must have a cause" then sure, quantum mechanics may not undermine or falsify the first premise. Since this is not the case, any argument about how quantum fluctuations don't come from nothing is utterly useless as far as this debate is concerned.

Now many theists will argue that since there are other deterministic interpretations, this would mean that one shouldn't claim that Quantum Fluctuations are uncaused. Of course, this is another irrelevant argument, I will explain why...

The first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument isn't "everything that begins to exist probably has a cause", or "everything that begins to exist most likely has a cause", it's "Everything that begins has a cause". Since this is supposedly backed up by a priori assumptions, then a more in depth version of the first premise is:

"Everything that begins to exist must have a cause" [1]

Therefore, this infers that everything that begins to exist necessarily has a cause. Therefore, all the other deterministic interpretations are completely irrelevant. The very fact that the laws of physics allow for uncaused events to occur disproves the first premise. This is true even in light of interpretations where quantum fluctuations really are caused by something non-locally, it simply doesn't matter. The fact that these indeterministic interpretations which involve quantum fluctuations occurring uncaused even exist, disproves the first premise because this means it's possible that these fluctuations are uncaused even if we don't know whether they are or not. If it's possible that Quantum Fluctuations are uncaused, then this falsifies that notion that everything that begins necessarily (must) has/ have a cause. This is because if everything that begins to exist necessarily had a cause, then the laws of physics wouldn't allow for these events to occur uncaused and no scientist would adhere to it because it would be a true principle. However, the laws of physics do allow for these events to occur uncaused, and there are many scientists who adhere to this notion, so the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is clearly a false principle. Therefore, the claim that "everything that begins to exist must have a cause" is false.

Supporting Quotes

"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...An uncaused beginning, even out of nothing, for spacetime is no great leap of the imagination."" - Taner Edis. Department of Physics Truman State University Kirksville [2]


"Uncaused, random quantum fluctuations in a flat, empty, featureless spacetime can produce local regions with positive or negative curvature..." - Victor Stenger. American Particle Physicist [3]

"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 [3]

Now, a vacuum fluctuation is commonly acknowledged as an uncaused emergence of energy that is governed by the uncertainty relation delta-E • delta-t >= h/(4*pi). However, Alexander Vilenkin's model of comic origins [4] 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).

Basically, there are equations which rely on acausal principles which could plausibly describe the beginning of the universe. The very fact that these comply with the laws of physics, disproves the claim that the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument regarding causality involves a principle that must hold true everywhere, regardless of any deterministic interpretations. Thus, Quantum Mechanics refutes the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

Conclusion

I have shown that even if quantum fluctuations do not occur from absolute nothingness, and even if deterministic interpretations exist, the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is false. This is because the first premise is inferring a principle that must hold true, and necessarily holds true. However, since it's possible that the quantum fluctuations are uncaused and this is allowed by the laws of physics, the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is false (it cannot both be true that x is necessary, and -x is possible).


Sources

[1] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
[2] http://atheism.about.com...
[3] http://www.infidels.org...
[4] Alexander Vilenkin: “tunneling from literally nothing”, 1982,1988 paper
Debate Round No. 2
sensibletheism909

Pro

My opponents opening argument seems to amount to this. The first premise of the KCA equates to it is necessarily true that everything that begins to exist must have a cause. In other words, it is logically incoherent to suggest that something which began to exist did not have a cause. Thus if it is even possible for indeterministic interpretations to be true then it follows that it is not necessarily true that everything which begins to exist has a cause. There are at least two major problems with this assessment.

Problem 1;
First of all it is simply not true that the firs premise of the KCA must be necessarily true. How can this be? Enter Saul Kripke. Kripke is regarded by many philosophers to have established that broadly logically possible may not be metaphysically possible. Kripke uses the example of water to demonstrate this. The proposition; H20 is not water contains no logical contradiction, and yet given what we know from experience water equivalent to H20. In other words we know a-posteriori that water is equivalent to H20. This implies that while it is logically possible for water to not be H20 it is metaphysically impossible for water to be H20. Thus the proposition "water is not equal to H20" could never be instantiated. This is generally what proponents of Kalam mean when they say that everything which began to exist must have a cause. Such a statement is not logically necessary but it is metaphysically necessary. [1] So it can still be logically possible for such indeterministic interpretations to be true, but it may not be metaphysically possible. Therefore I do not have to show a logical incoherence in the idea of indeterministic interpretations of quantum mechanics to show that they do not refute premise 1 of the KCA.

Another way to view this is that simply because an idea or statement is logically consistent, it does not follow from that that there are logically possible worlds in which that idea or statement is true. Philosophers such as Alvin Plantinga and Saul Kripke have defended this principle. Plantinga, for example, points out that simply because an idea is consistent according to first order logic, does not mean that there is a possible world in which that statement obtains. For example; 1 1= 7 or some prime numbers weigh more than Jackie Gleason contain no formal contradictions, and yet it seems that they do not obtain in any possible world.[2]

Now one might object at this point that the reverse might be true, it may be logically possible but not metaphysically possible for deterministic interpretations of quantum mechanics to be true. This would be correct but even given this information my assertion still stands. What this leaves us with is that given our current information quantum physics does not require one to abandon the first premise of the KCA, even though some future discovery could require us to do so.

Problem 2;
I would also like to reiterate that even if my opponent is correct and indeterministic interpretations of quantum mechanics are metaphysically possible it does not show that things which begin to exist can come into being without any cause whatsoever.

William Lane Craig makes this same point in the following way, "...if an event requires certain physically necessary conditions in order to occur, but these conditions are not jointly sufficient for its occurrence, and the event occurs, then the event is in principle unpredictable, but it could hardly be called uncaused in the relevant sense. In the case of quantum events, there are any number of physically necessary conditions that must obtain for such an event to occur, and yet these conditions are not jointly sufficient for the occurrence of the event. (They are jointly sufficient in the sense that they are all the conditions one needs for the event's occurrence, but they are not sufficient in the sense that they guarantee the occurrence of the event.) The appearance of a particle in a quantum vacuum may thus be said to be spontaneous, but cannot be properly said to be absolutely uncaused, since it has many physically necessary conditions. To be uncaused in the relevant sense of an absolute beginning, an existent must lack any non-logical necessary or sufficient conditions whatsoever. Now at this juncture, someone might protest that such a requirement is too stringent: "For how could anything come into existence without any non-logical necessary or sufficient conditions?" But this is my point exactly; if absolutely nothing existed prior to the Big Bang--no matter, no energy, no space, no time, no deity--, then it seems impossible that anything should begin to exist."[3]

Finally my opponent proposes quantum tunneling as an indeterminate theory as to how the universe could come into being. Well for one thing this theory isn't without its problems; http://www.reasonablefaith.org.... But this theory doesn't get you a universe from nothing, there still was a quantum vacuum causally prior to it.

Supporting Argument;
I suppose I'll end with an argument for the metaphysical impossibility of something coming into existence without a cause. Suppose we say that something simply popped into existence. To suggest this immediately implies that there was the potential for that something to exist prior to it existing. This is where the problem arises, because nothingness by definition has absolutely no potential. So to suggest that something came from it would be to give it the property of having the potential to allow something to exist. Obviously this could never occur.

1. http://plato.stanford.edu...
2. http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
3. http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

I thank my opponent for his response. Now, I do not feel the need to dwell too much on my opponent's opening round. I am going to focus on rebutting my opponent's last round due to lack of space.

Everything That Begins To Exist Must Have A Cause

I never once claimed that the first principle of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is known as a logically necessary truth, it is still necessary regardless according to the Kalam Cosmological Argument. The problem for my opponent, is that the first premise of the argument is "everything that begins to exist has a cause", not "everything that begins to exist most likely has a cause". Dr. Craig himself even advocates the notion that "everything that begins must have a cause" [1]. If something must happen, then it is necessary even if it is not logically necessary.

Either way, one could rightfully claim that "everything that begins must have a cause" only if one was either be omniscient, or had some a priori knowledge [2] to back up the claim. Nobody is omniscient so we can rule out that option, all that is left is an a priori assertion. Now my opponent seems to reject that the causal principle is logically necessary, and adheres to the notion that it is based on a posteriori knowledge (judging by his H20 example). However, the only causal principle we can verify a posteriori is one that involves causality above the subatomic level and within space-time. The only physical causal principle we can actually give truth to, would be:

"Everything that begins to exist above the sub-atomic level, and within space-time, has a cause which is also within space-time"

Deterministic Interpretations

There are huge problems with deterministic interpretations of Quantum Mechanics. They are a violation of the law of parsimony and also they would require physicists to abandon locality in this context. Basically, we know due to Occam's Razor that if x can be explained without any unnecessary additions, then the unnecessary additions should not come into the picture. Quantum Fluctuations can be explained in an indeterminate manner without having to appeal to additional non-local events, thus indeterministic models are clearly superior. Now Bell's inequality could be violated by non-local events if they interact with each other faster than the speed of light [3], however we have good reason to believe nothing can move faster than the speed of light at this time (we all know the neutrinos thing turned out to be a dud). Deterministic interpretations are simply not generally accepted, and for good reason.

Grounds For Quantum Fluctuations Being Uncaused

My argument is simple. If everything that begins to exist must have a cause, then we should have no grounds to claim that any certain events are uncaused regardless of whether or not we know if they are uncaused. However, we have grounds to claim these particle and anti-particle pairs pop into existence out of a vacuum uncaused, therefore it cannot be true that everything that begins to exist must have a cause. If it was true, we would have no grounds for claiming certain events are uncaused, but we do (and this is what most physicists believe).

There are 3 reasons to adhere to the notion of quantum events being uncaused.

1) Quantum fluctuations appear to be events without causes

These events appear to be events without causes, that happen without any particular reason for why a certain event happens at any particular time. However, this alone is not sufficient to abandon reasons for why we should still expect some hidden cause. I believe the other 2 reasons do the trick.

2) Quantum Mechanics is extremely counter-intuitive

Intuition above the sub-atomic level has us believing that if an event occurs, then something must have given rise to that event and caused it to happen. However, If we enter an extremely counter-intuitive domain then there is no reason to stick to intuitive ideas gained above the sub-atomic level (it actually, would make very little sense indeed). Since these events appear to be events without causes, and we know for a fact that quantum mechanics are counter-intuitive, then claiming that intuitive causal principles must hold at this level is absurd.

3) Relativity

We know that certain principles seem break down at the sub-atomic level (like Relativity), so what makes any common causal principles any different? It seems to me that if a principle as huge as relativity holds only on average at the sub-atomic level, what rules out any other commonly accepted principles?

Due to the reasons above, and the argument I gave regarding why one should not adhere to deterministic interpretations of quantum mechanics, I believe one can conclude that any causal principle which implies necessity (or a "must") is false when dealing with all of reality.

Necessary Causation/ Sufficient Causation


Pro is basically saying that quantum events have a necessary cause, but not necessarily sufficient causes. Basically, without the vacuum no event could occur thus the vacuum is at least "some type" of cause of the fluctuations according to Dr. Craig and my opponent. This would mean, that the first premise isn't phased because these events still have "a" cause (the quantum vacuum itself being a necessary "cause").

There seems to be problems with this line of thinking for the theist.

If the theist accepts that an event could occur without a sufficient cause (like William Lane Craig has conceded in the past), the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument can be more accurately re-worded:

P1: "Whatever begins to exist must have a necessary cause of its existence but not necessarily a sufficient cause of its existence."

The problem is thinking necessary, but not sufficient conditions can actually cause ("give rise to") something to come into existence, this is because causation requires both as philosopher Wes Morriston has pointed out [4] . If there are necessary conditions for an event to occur but no sufficient cause, then it makes no sense to call the necessary conditions a necessary "cause", there is no causal chain here and it's just semantics.

Imagine a ball that just flies up in the air for no reason at all hypothetically, and someone asks “what caused that?”. If I said “The Earth’s existence”, that would not answer the question being asked. The Earth’s existence is necessary for the event to occur without a cause, but it isn't a necessary cause unless there is a sufficient cause of the ball flying up in the air for this casual chain to exist. The Earth’s existence would simply allow for the ball to fly up in the air uncaused. It cannot be called a necessary "cause" unless there is a sufficient cause as well.

Conclusion

If it was true that "everything that begins to exist must have a cause", then we would have no grounds for claiming any beginnings occur without causation. We do have grounds though, so the principle has to be false. Also, something cannot be a necessary cause unless there is a sufficient cause. Causation requires both necessary and sufficient reasons for an event because it's part of a chain. Thus, if there are necessary conditions which allow for an event to occur without a cause, then calling this an event with a cause simply because there are conditions which need to be in place for this to happen is outrageous.

Therefore, contrary to my opponent's assertions, something wouldn't have to come from absolutely nothing in order for the it to be considered an uncaused beginning of existence (as pointed out by Wes Morriston). We have good reasons to believe this actually happens, and even if we don't know for sure, it still falsifies the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument because the premise deals with the word "must", which infers some type of necessity.

Sources

[1] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://commonsenseatheism.com...
Debate Round No. 3
sensibletheism909

Pro

Everything which begins to exist must have a cause;

The point in my last objection was to say that there are a posteriori considerations in determining whether or not there is a possible world in which something beginning to exist completely uncaused obtains. What this shows is that we cannot reject the principle that everything which begins to exist has a cause a-priori given the fact that there are no logical contradictions in the idea of something coming into existence uncaused. Thus this is not a case of either the first premise of kalam is logically incoherent or necessarily true. Simply because we cannot know the principle is true with certainty doesn't mean it isn't true. Nor do I have the burden to show that there is no possible way that everything which begins to exist has a cause. Because a-posteriori considerations are in place, it is possible someone in the future may discover something which shows it to be false, or prove it to be true. What I aim to show is that the principle is at least more plausible than its antecedent, given the information we have at hand.

I would also argue here that the principle that nothing begins to exist without a cause is intuitive or properly basic. Essentially what this means is without any objections to the principle we should accept it as true. Of course my opponent has given some quite thoughtful objections to this principle to which I'll address. But my point here is if those objections don't hold water, and I don't think they do, then we should accept the principle that everything which begins to exist has a cause. To learn more about this line of reasoning see; http://en.wikipedia.org...

Deterministic Interpretations;

My opponent argues that deterministic interpretations of quantum mechanics places an explanation where none is required and is thus a violation of Occam's razor. I think this is a mistaken assessment of at least the Bohmian interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Whereas Bohmian interpretation does add a new equation for the motion of quantum particles it also eliminate postulates in the measurement process.[2] Thus it seems that Occam's razor is irrelevant in regards to Bohmian mechanics.

Hilary Putnam, a Corresponding Fellow at British Academy and the Cogan University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University stated about his book "A Philosopher Looks At Quantum Mechanics" that, "...In Putnam ([1965]), I rejected Bohm's interpretation for several reasons which no longer seem good to me. Even today, if you look at the Wikipedia encyclopaedia on the Web, you will find it said that Bohm's theory is mathematically inelegant. Happily, I did not give that reason in Putnam ([1965]), but in any case it is not true. The formula for the velocity field is extremely simple: you have the probability current in the theory anyway, and you take the velocity vector to be proportional to the current. There is nothing particularly inelegant about that; if anything, it is remarkably elegant!"[3]

As far as non-locality requiring super-luminal velocities, it has been argued that non-locality is inherent in quantum physics itself, see [2].

Grounds for Quantum Fluctuations Being Uncaused;

1) There may be no fleshed out deterministic interpretations of particle-field theory, but there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel in that regard. See; [2]
2 and 3) In a dissertation on intuition Brian Talbot lays out an argument that intuitions can and should be used in the are of causation. Talbot first defines an intuition as a proposition or principle which simply seems true but not for transparent reasons. Taking this admittedly crude definition of intuition, Talbot argues that our intuitions are formed through our subconscious. Talbot points out that at an unconscious level we process massive amounts of information, and because we are not aware of much of this information, at least some of our intuitions should be considered useful in the field of philosophy. Talbot also argues that factors such as motivation, exposure to certain views (i.e. being told over and over again that a certain proposition is true), and the order in which information is received can affect the formation of our intuitions in negative ways. Thus we should be suspicious of such intuitions. However, according to Talbot, there are at least three which do not fall into these traps because they are formed almost solely through information that our conscious mind does not have access to. They are; responsibility, intention and CAUSATION. Forming intuitions about causation requires our unconscious to pay attention to minute details and changes in our environment, often over long periods of time. This is precisely what our unconscious is good at.[4] I will grant that this argument is extremely complex and involves sophisticated concepts in the realm of psychology, but nevertheless I find it to be a compelling case against my opponents second and third arguments against our intuition.

Necessary Causation / Sufficient Causation;

My point is that if something begins to exist with only a necessary cause it is not beginning to exist without a cause. And so you would have to say that a quantum vacuum existed from which the universe came into existence. There are two major problems with this theory; 1) The quantum vacuum would have had to begun to exist otherwise the vacuum would have spawned a universe at every point, meaning our universe would have collided with another universe as soon as it was created.[5] 2) Quantum tunneling would form a massive amount of messy singularities which wouldn't even be stable enough to expand into the universe we see today.[6]

Closing remarks;

I would like to thank rationalthinker1919 for his time and well thought out responses to my arguments. But I would also like to remind the reader that my burden of proof is not to prove the causal principle is true (though I'll admit I dabbled in arguments for it), but merely to show that quantum physics poses no serious objection to it. My opponent has failed to show that one cannot rationally hold to the principle that everything which begins to exist has a cause and quantum mechanics at the same time, thus I strongly encourage you to vote pro.

1. http://arxiv.org...
2. http://plato.stanford.edu...
3. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu...
4. http://www.leaderu.com...
5. http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

I thank my opponent for his response. While he graced the debate with a variety of different sources to support his case, his arguments ultimately fail despite all the bulk up. Pro also failed to rebut some of my main points (which I may delve into later).

"Because a-posteriori considerations are in place, it is possible someone in the future may discover something which shows it to be false, or prove it to be true. What I aim to show is that the principle is at least more plausible than its antecedent, given the information we have at hand." - Pro

Well most theists I have talked to believe that the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is backed up by a priori assumptions, regardless, we will assume my opponent is correct for the sake of argument. Now, the huge problem with my opponent's argument here is that he is trying to show plausibility instead of necessity(and remember, there are different types of necessity besides strict logical necessity). But the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is not:

(i) Everything that begins to exist plausibly has a cause

It is..

(ii) Everything that begins to exist must have a cause

It seems Pro is trying to support some version of the Kalam Cosmological Argument that I am not familiar with.

Now, my opponent says that the first premise is intuitive and nobody should reject it. The problem is, only a principle involving causality at the macroscopic level within space-time is intuitive. The only way to make a claim about everything is to either be omniscient of have a priori support, but my opponent has even conceded that when it comes to the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, he isn't using any a priori support.

Deterministic Interpretations

Eliminating postulates in the measurement process isn't enough to make up for the extreme leap of inferring some type of non-locality to have get a deterministic quantum interpretation. This is simply not a great response to my law of parsimony point. Also, non-locality may play some role currently in physics but not enough to stand behind deterministic interpretations. Pro also quoted one philosopher who doesn't reject the Bohme interpretation like that somehow makes up for all the physicists who do not accept it and accept the Copenhagen Interpretation [1]. The quote my opponent provided from Hilary Putnam simply was not a good argument from authority.


Grounds For Quantum Fluctuations Being Uncaused

1) My opponent didn't even argue against my point and just referenced a source.

2) and 3) Pro presents a quote from one who argues that intuition plays a huge role in causation. I would agree, causation at the macro-scopic level within space-time is intuitively obvious. However, intuitions have been known to fail us [Video Source]. There is absolutely no grounds for applying a cause beyond space-time, and no grounds for claiming that causality must hold true at the sub-atomic level however. Thus, Pro's argument here definitely has no bearing on the discussion at hand and is utterly irrelevant to say the least.

Necessary/ Sufficient Causation


"My point is that if something begins to exist with only a necessary cause it is not beginning to exist without a cause." - Pro

Once again, causation requires a casual chain. If there is a break in a chain then there was some point where causality didn't apply. Thus, to say there could be a necessary cause but not a sufficient cause fails to make much sense I'm afraid. Philosopher Wes Morriston explains this better than I, but the point is that causation requires both.

If a rock gets skipped for no reason at all, completely uncaused, it wouldn't make sense to say that the event was actually caused by the Earth's existence. However, Earth's existence would be a necessary cause if their was a sufficient cause as well because we would have a causal chain

Thus, it is simply not true that if something didn't begin to exist out of absolute nothingness, it has to be an event with a cause. Particle and anti-particle pairs can indeed pop in and out of existence of an existing vacuum uncaused, one would only reject this due to an attachment to the God hypothesis.

"1) The quantum vacuum would have had to begun to exist otherwise the vacuum would have spawned a universe at every point, meaning our universe would have collided with another universe as soon as it was created." - Pro

This would only be a good response to models where the universe comes into existence from a pre-existing space-time. However, Alexander Vilenkin's model works without inferring any type of of space or time. Plus, the background geometry would decay as the universe comes into being [2] so there isn't any need to imply any other universes.

Therefore, this response has no bearing on my argument. My argument is referring to a model where pre-existing space-time is not a factor.

"2) Quantum tunneling would form a massive amount of messy singularities which wouldn't even be stable enough to expand into the universe we see today."

Since my opponent didn't defend this, it is nothing more than a bare assertion. Also, he posted a number for a source that doesn't seem to even exist. I do not feel obligated to respond to this.

Continued Case

I urge voters to give sources to Pro, I didn't feel like I needed to use many is this debate but regardless Pro definitely deserves the vote here. However, I do not believe he met his burden of proof regarding the debate topic and he failed to respond adequately to my objections. Quantum Mechanics definitely falsifies the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument because it gives us grounds for believing in beginnings without a cause. If the first premise was true, we should find no grounds for rejecting it in reality because it's a principle that must be true, but we do, thus it's safe to say the first premise is a false principle in light of this (the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument isn't worded as an argument simply from plausibility like my opponent claims). Deterministic interpretations have no bearing on the debate either because they violate parsimony and most physicists do not adherer to them anyway. I urge voters to give arguments to Con.

I thank my opponent for his time, and for opening my mind on the subject.

Source(s)

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.infidels.org...

Debate Round No. 4
33 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
===continued===

: Wiploc, seriously your only main objection to my arguments is that I didn't show physicists in support
: of Bohmian mechanics? That's sad.

Tone. Didn't you ask someone for the favor of reading and deciding? And now you're complaining about my performance because you didn't write clearly enough for me to be able to tell that the winner was secretly you?

You're welcome.

What was your case? What line did you think you were taking?
Given the resolution ("I must show that one can hold to quantum mechanics and the 1st premise of Kalam without contradiction. My opponent must show that holding to both is logically incoherent.") I can see three ways to go:

1. The experts agree that virtual particles are caused. If you aren't an expert, you must defer to the experts. You must agree that virtual particles are caused.

2. Screw the experts. I'm going to give you a case so strong that you could face down Einstein himself. I'm going to lay out the facts and logic so that you know I'm right. No "expertise" can stand in the face of patent truth.

3. Well, hey, the experts are largely against me, but that's only 80% of them. The other 20% agree with me. You might wonder whether a lone student in Minnesota is off his gourd, but can you really assume that 20% of cosmology experts are "logically incoherent"? No, you can't. As a non-expert, you have to keep an open mind. You have to regard the question as still open. And---so long as the causation of virtual particles is an open question---we can't say that quantum physics contradicts P1 of Kalam.

You didn't do #1. If you tried #2, you failed utterly. That leaves #3, which you claim is irrelevant.

Makes me wonder whether you think you had a fourth way, one I haven't thought of. But, if so, you didn't communicate it during the debate.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
===continued===

: : And I relax; I'm not doing Pro an injustice. Pro wasn't trying to show that determinist scientists aren't
: : crazy. He was trying to show that we should believe determinism is more likely than not. But Con is
: : wrong about that. If we are to believe anything, we should believe what the experts largely agree on.

: Not necessarily, even the experts disagree,

This should have been your lead. You should have said it in every post. At the beginning and end of every post. Did you say it at all?

If the experts disagree, who am I to form an opinion? If I can't have an opinion, then I can't have the opinion that virtual particles are uncaused. If I can't have the opinion that virtual particles are uncaused, then I can't have the opinion that virtual particles refute P1 of Kalam.

The above paragraph is cogent. If you had said that, I'd have known what your point was. If that was your point, you should have made it clearly and frequently, and been ready to support the claim that scientists are divided.

: one reason, as I may or may not have pointed out is that Bohm's interpretation is largely misunderstood by scientists,

My first reaction is that this makes you sound like a crank. "Yeah, those scientists shouldn't be allowed anywhere near their subject matter. They should all be sent to work in the fields." It's not a claim that I would want to try to support in a debate.

I assume you have support. You wouldn't have made the claim without reason for believing it, but it seems like a hard sell.

: many scientists have not kept up with the latest developments in quantum mechanics, because it is
: more philosophical in nature (which is why I used a philosopher in support of it).

That's an excellent point, worth making in the debate.

===continued===
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
: Oh boy, wiploc you completely misunderstood my arguments.

That may be. But I put in hours of hard work trying to. If I still don't understand them after that, where does the fault lie? I mention this only as encouragement. If your next debate is more lucid and concise, you'll have profited by this one.

: Sure showing that quantum particles don't come from nothing is completely relevant. If they did then
: they, by definition would be uncaused.

That's not the definition. Didn't your god cause something to come from nothing?

: The Stern Gerlach Experiment has been argued to display an event that has no explanation or cause.
: Thus I was putting forward various hidden variable theories to show that there are alternatives out
: there. The most promising one seems to Bohm's interpretation.

I could look it up.

: : That looks like a concession. Maybe Pro is differentiating between causes and explanations? Puzzling.
: Did you read what I put afterward?

Yes. Did you read what I wrote next? The paragraph would have been more persuasive if reorganized.

: : I keep waiting for Pro to show that some physicists, a significant number of non-crazy physicists, hold
: : this opinion. I'm not clear that he ever did so. There was one student, of undetermined rationality.
: : There was a guy who mused, without necessarily even believing in his own theory.

: I fail to see how that would be a significant point in the debate, but I do have a list of its supporters. I'll : have to remember that for my next debate.

If you don't see the relevance, maybe there is none. I may still be confused about what you were arguing.

===continued===
Posted by sensibletheism909 4 years ago
sensibletheism909
Wiploc, seriously your only main objection to my arguments is that I didn't show physicists in support of Bohmian mechanics? That's sad.
Posted by sensibletheism909 4 years ago
sensibletheism909
Oh boy, wiploc you completely misunderstood my arguments.

Sure showing that quantum particles don't come from nothing is completely relevant. If they did then they, by definition would be uncaused.

The Stern Gerlach Experiment has been argued to display an event that has no explanation or cause. Thus I was putting forward various hidden variable theories to show that there are alternatives out there. The most promising one seems to Bohm's interpretation.

: That looks like a concession. Maybe Pro is differentiating between causes and explanations? Puzzling.
Did you read what I put afterward?

: I keep waiting for Pro to show that some physicists, a significant number of non-crazy physicists, hold this opinion. I'm not clear that he ever did so. There was one student, of undetermined rationality. There was a guy who mused, without necessarily holding that his theory was true.

I fail to see how that would be a significant point in the debate, but I do have a list of its supporters. I'll have to remember that for my next debate.

: And I relax; I'm not doing Pro an injustice. Pro wasn't trying to show that determinist scientists aren't crazy. He was trying to show that we should believe determinism is more likely than not. But Con is wrong about that. If we are to believe anything, we should believe what the experts largely agree on.

Not necessarily, even the experts disagree, one reason, as I may or may not have pointed out is that Bohm's interpretation is largely misunderstood by scientists, many scientists have not kept up with the latest developments in quantum mechanics, because it is more philosophical in nature (which is why I used a philosopher in support of it).
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
===continued===
Con's final post:
Con quotes Pro:
: : What I aim to show is that the principle is at least more plausible than its antecedent, given the
: : information we have at hand." - Pro

And I relax; I'm not doing Pro an injustice. Pro wasn't trying to show that determinist scientists aren't crazy. He was trying to show that we should believe determinism is more likely than not. But Con is wrong about that. If we are to believe anything, we should believe what the experts largely agree on.

Con objects to this version of P1:
: (i) Everything that begins to exist plausibly has a cause
preferring this:
: (ii) Everything that begins to exist must have a cause
but the actual KCA P1 is this:
Everything that begins to exist _does_ have a cause.
So it still seems to me that Con is barking up the wrong tree.

: Eliminating postulates in the measurement process isn't enough to make up for the extreme leap of
: inferring some type of non-locality

I can't make head nor tails of that kind of talk. It's as if they wanted this read only by experts in the field.

: Pro also quoted one philosopher who doesn't reject the Bohme interpretation like that somehow
: makes up for all the physicists who do not accept it and accept the Copenhagen Interpretation

Bingo! Lucid, cogent, persuasive.

: I urge voters to give sources to Pro,

No can do. Con's quotations were incisive, persuasive, dispositive. Pro may have had more, but Con's were more telling.

===

That's three hours I won't get back again. If you want people to vote on your debates, you should write clearly and convincingly.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
=== continued ===

: my burden of proof is not to prove the causal principle is true

Right.

: My opponent has failed to show that one cannot rationally hold to the principle that everything which
: begins to exist has a cause and quantum mechanics at the same time

I keep waiting for Pro to show that some physicists, a significant number of non-crazy physicists, hold this opinion. I'm not clear that he ever did so. There was one student, of undetermined rationality. There was a guy who mused, without necessarily holding that his theory was true.

I don't think Pro did that. I don't think he even took up that line. He just tried to persuade readers, on the strength of his own unpersuasive (at least to laymen) arguments.

At this point, though Con will speak yet again, and thus there remains the possibility of a self-goal, I think Con has met his burden of proof, and Pro did not. And Con had more persuasive citations.

=== continued --===
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
===continued===

Final Round:

Pro wrote:
: we cannot reject the principle that everything which begins to exist has a cause a-priori
He's probably not trying to concede. The prose is dense here. He's probably saying something else.

: Simply because we cannot know the principle is true with certainty doesn't mean it isn't true.
Bingo! He buried the lead, but here it finally is. In the final round, Pro effectively points out that the word "must" isn't in P1 of the KCA. This needed to be mentioned, given that Con's efforts are focused on what the implications would be if the word were in there.

Is P1 "properly basic"? Pro would have us believe that it is, based on arguments linked to elsewhere. Nuts to that.

Bohmian interpretation? Means nothing to me. Russell says that the layman does well not to hold an opinion conflicting with that of the experts. And when the experts are divided, the layman does well not to have any opinion at all. It is established that the weight of expert opinion holds that virtual particles are uncaused. Therefore, as a layman, I am right to believe they are uncaused.

Against that, Pro may not offer personal incredulity, nor anything less than clear proof. He needs a slam dunk, not an allusion to matters obscure.

Pro asks us to pit our intuitions against the conclusions of quantum scientists. No thanks.

: if something begins to exist with only a necessary cause it is not beginning to exist without a cause.

Yes, it does. I hope Con makes that point.

Should I try to rewrite the KCA for Pro, so that it has to do with necessary-but-not-sufficient causes? Would it be a persuasive argument if I did so? I've put way too much time into this already. If Pro wants to introduce that variant, and if he can make it work, it is his job to do so. Just to suggest, in the final round of a debate, that one might invent a workable version of the KCA, that is not persuasive.

===continued===
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
Sorry, I didn't indicate the quotation. Let me reproduce part of that last post, corrected:

I still feel like this helps Pro. If we don't know whether things are caused, then P1 may be true, right?

: If it was true, we would have no grounds for claiming certain events are uncaused, but we do (and
: this is what most physicists believe).

Nobody's screwing up grammar to badly enough to cause me to vote grammar points, but this is a teachable moment: You want the subjunctive: "If it _were_ true," means it is not true. "If it _was_ true" means it may not have been true in the past.

And don't use the word "inferred" again, ever, unless you master it.

Con keeps imputing the word "must" into P1. Has Pro disavowed this?

---

Addendum: the throwaway bit, "and this is what most physicists believe," is important. That is, once again, Con meeting his burden of proof. The quotes at the end of round two were nice, very nice, but if they don't add up to this, they are insignificant. So it is good for Con to make this point clearly and often.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
=== continued ===

I still feel like this helps Pro. If we don't know whether things are caused, then P1 may be true, right?

If it was true, we would have no grounds for claiming certain events are uncaused, but we do (and this is what most physicists believe).

Nobody's screwing up grammar to badly enough to cause me to vote grammar points, but this is a teachable moment: You want the subjunctive: "If it _were_ true," means it is not true. "If it _was_ true" means it may not have been true in the past.

And don't use the word "inferred" again, ever, unless you master it.

Con keeps imputing the word "must" into P1. Has Pro disavowed this?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
sensibletheism909Rational_Thinker9119Tied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.