The Instigator
popculturepooka
Pro (for)
Winning
15 Points
The Contender
Immortal
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The Argument from Contingency is sound.

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after 3 votes the winner is...
popculturepooka
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/14/2010 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,133 times Debate No: 11437
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)

 

popculturepooka

Pro

Thanks to Immortal.

Introduction:

The following argument is from contingency and is, basically, Thomas Aquinas' "Third Way" for demonstrating the existence of God. [1] Robert Maydole slightly tweaked the Third Way but the argument follows the same general form and structure so I will be using his formulation. It can be thought of as a sort of hybrid ontological/cosmological argument couched in the terms of modality. This means that this argument relies heavily on the notions of contingency, [2] necessity, [3] and possible worlds. [4]

"God" will simply mean "supreme being" in this debate and the terms may be used interchangeably; the same with the terms "being" and "thing".

Definitions and clarifications:

Supreme being - A being of which "none greater can be conceived" as Anslem thought. Or, alternately, "a being with the greatest possible array of com possible great-making properties." [5] A great-making property is also called a "perfection".

Perfection - "A property that it is necessarily better to have than not." [6]

Sound - "All premises are true and conclusion follows from the premises." [7]

An Argument from Contingency:

(1) Every temporally contingent being possibly fails to exist at some time.
(2) If all things possibly fail to exist at some time then it is possible that all things fail to exist at some past time.
(3) It is necessarily the case that possible truths are explicable.
(4) It is necessarily the case that something is explicable only if there was not a time when nothing existed.
(5) Whatever is temporally necessary might be unlimited.
(6) Whatever might explain itself is unlimited.
(7) Nothing which is unlimited can be explained by anything else.
(8) Everything which is unlimited is supreme.
(9) Something is temporally necessary if and only if it is not temporally contingent.
.: There exists a supreme being. [8]

Brief defenses of the premises:

P1 - It's obvious that it's *possible* that any temporally contingent thing can possibly not exist in some possible world. Something is temporally contingent if it is possible that it can begin to exist or go out of existence.

P2 - This premise relies on the assumption (for a reductio ad absurdum) that everything is temporally contingent, and if we accept the first premise, then it is possible that everything does not exist (either by not coming into existence or going out of existence) at some specific point of time in the past.

P3 - By "explicable" I mean possible to have an explanation. There is nothing wrong with saying that in some possible world something that is true has an explanation even if in the actual world there is no explanation of that truth.

I will even agree, for the sake of argument, with a popular objection against the first premise of the "Kalam Cosmological Argument". [9] Namely that virtual particles pop into existence, with no cause, unexplained, out of nothing, in the actual world. [10] Even granting that dubious proposition there is nothing suspicious with saying that it is *possible* that virtual particles be explained or have a cause.

P4 - Explicability is a dispositional property. [11] In the sense I mean it for this argument a disposition would refer to something like the laws and structure of nature. To explain this better take an example of a sugar and hot water; sugar is soluble in hot water. This means that there is something about laws of nature and about the structure of sugar and hot water that when the some specific conditions (the initial conditions) are met the sugar will dissolve.

Considering the above point - if there are laws of nature then there *must* be, in principle, *complete* explanations for something. A complete explanation would be possible because what it means to have an explanation is to describe something in terms of it's antecedent conditions. If complete explanations aren't possible, in principle, than explanation loses it any meaning and explanation becomes useless.

For example, I will agree with a popular atheist objection and say that if theists posit God as an explanation for the existence of the universe, but if in turn that God itself needs an explanation for *it's* existence (ad infinitum) theists haven't really explained anything in the first place.

However, explanations are made in terms of something else that already is in existence (the laws of nature or something else). If there are such things as complete explanations then it follows that there needs to be something that has already existed to explain that something. So, anything that might to begin to exist from nothing, inexplicably, like virtual particles, would make complete explanation impossible. But that is absurd as I showed earlier. So, if complete explanation is possible then there being a "time" in which absolutely nothing "existed" is impossible.

P5 - By "temporally necessary" it's meant that it's not possible that a temporally necessary being begin to exist or go out of existence. Something "unlimited" does not depend on anything else for existence or properties. If something was dependent on another thing, in any way, it would be limited. I am obviously limited. I depend on many things for my existence and properties. Surely it's *possible* that something that is temporally necessary is unlimited.

P6 - This means that anything that is limited can't explain it's own existence in and of itself as something limited would have to have it's existence or properties explained in terms of something else preceding it. Of course, something that is temporally contingent is limited. So for something explain *itself* it'd have to be unlimited.

P7 - Something that is unlimited can be explained only in terms of itself. After all, if something is unlimited then it depends on nothing else; it's existence or properties *can't* be explained in terms of anything other than itself!

P8 - By "supreme" it's meant "the property that a thing has if and only if it is impossible for something to be greater and impossible for there to be something else than which it is not greater." [12] Going by what unlimited means then there is nothing that would prevent the supreme from having all com possible perfections as it is not dependent on anything else. Only dependence can stop perfections. So an unlimited being must have all com possible perfections (supremity) because if it didn't than it would be limited in some way making it not unlimited. Examples of perfections would be omniscience, omnibenevolence, omnipotence, aseity, etc. [13] Therefore, if something is unlimited then it *must* be supreme as well.

P9 - Is obvious if you take a look at the definitions of temporal contingency and temporal necessity. Again, temporal contingency simply means possible to begin to exist or possible to go out of existence, and temporal necessity is neither. A temporally necessary thing can't be temporally contingent.

.: - God exists.

Rules:

*NO SEMANTICS!*

Sources:

[1] http://www.sacred-texts.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://books.google.com...
[6] William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland, Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, pg 593
[7] http://www.wisegeek.com...
[8] http://www.bu.edu...
[9] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[10] http://science.jrank.org...
[11] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[12] See [6]
[13] http://plato.stanford.edu...
Immortal

Con

I thank my opponent for challenging me to this debate.

My argument argues that the Argument from Contingency is sound. An argument is sound if and only if the argument is valid and all of its premises are true. [1] Let's analyze the argument by premise:

Premise 1: Every temporally contingent being possibly fails to exist at some time.

This premise may be true. However, I argue that according to this premise, God is temporally contingent. It is possible for him to go out of existence because he's omnipotent. Omnipotence is defined as unlimited power. [2] Therefore, he's temporally contingent.

Premise 2: If all things possibly fail to exist at some time then it is possible that all things fail to exist at some past time.

This premise may be true. Yet, my opponent has to define "thing." Otherwise, he's agreeing with me that God is temporally contingent since it's possible for God to not exist in he past.

Premise 3: It is necessarily the case that possible truths are explicable.

I ask my opponent to explain what is a "possible truth". If the existence of God is true, then there may be nothing wrong with saying that in a possible universe that it has an explanation even if our universe has no explanation of it.

If virtual particles have no cause in our universe, should we assume that there might be in an alternate universe? It is possible that there is. However, without further evidence, there is no reason to believe that virtual particles have a cause.

Are all possible truths explicable? How about the existence of God, logic, laws of reality, and the laws of mathematics?

Premise 4: It is necessarily the case that something is explicable only if there was not a time when nothing existed.

If an theist posit God as an explanation for the existence of the universe, it may or may not be sufficient. Consider the creation of the sound. What caused it? The man slipping on the banana peel. What caused the banana peel to be there? Another man threw it there. Why was he there and why did he threw it? The list goes on and on. Therefore, a complete explanation is unnecessary.

My opponent points out that explanations are made in terms of already-existent things. Since they are already existent, they cannot begin to exist or go out of existence. Otherwise, the explanation is useless and meaningless. Therefore, the laws of reality might be temporally necessary.

Virtual particles might begin to exist from nothing. The universe might begin to exist from nothing. [4] This would render the complete explanation impossible. Before the Big Bang, it might be a "time" in which nothing existed.

Premise 5: Whatever is temporally necessary might be unlimited.

This might be true. Axioms are temporally necessary. They cannot begin to exist or go out of existence.
The list of axioms: Existence Exists, The Law of Identity, Consciousness, Law of Non-contradiction, and Law of excluded middle. They are not dependent on anything to be existed or valid. I do not know if you call them "unlimited."

Let's assume that logic is not temporally necessary and contingent on God. If God created logic, he could make the law of non-contradiction false. Therefore, the proposition and its negation were true at the same time. But that is ridiculous! How can God make it so that the United States is south of Canada and the United States also not south of Canada? Therefore, God cannot alter the laws of logic. [5] In fact, his existence relies on it. How can God exist yet not exist at the same time? The law of non-contradiction prevents him from not existing if he does exist. Thus, since God is dependent on logic, he is limited.

The laws of mathematics is temporally necessary. Mathematical truths such as one plus one making two hold irrespective of the way that the world is. Even if the world was radically different, one plus one would still equal two.
could not have failed to exist.

Premise 6: Whatever might explain itself is unlimited.

How do you explain these?: Existence Exists, The Law of Identity, Consciousness, Law of Non-contradiction, and Law of excluded middle.

All of them can be only explained in terms of themselves. They depend on nothing else. Their existence can't be explained in terms of anything other than itself. The fact that one plus one equals two is also self-explanatory. I'm not sure if logic, laws of reality, and the laws of mathematics can be called "unlimited." I would say they are not.

Premise 7: Nothing *that* is unlimited can be explained by anything else.

This is just the reverse of Premise 6.

Premise 8: Everything *that* is unlimited is supreme.

This premise is false. Logic, laws of reality, and the laws of mathematics are not supreme. Infinity in mathematics is not supreme. Since God is dependent on logic to exist and the fact that dependence can stop perfections, God is not perfect.

Logic can be used to refute that there are perfections such as omniscience, omnibenevolence, and omnipotence.

For Omniscience - This may mean that God can "know" things that are logically impossible to "know". Can God "know" that 1 1=3, even though that's false? Can God "know" that he does not exist? Can God "know" suffering? [6]

For Omnibenevolence - Is God capable of doing evil? If not, to state that God is perfectly good simply means that God is only capable of doing what God is logically restricted to do. [7]

For Omnipotence - Can God create a logical contradiction?

Therefore, logic restricts all these perfections and makes God depended on logic.

Premise 9: Something is temporally necessary if and only if it is not temporally contingent.

This is true due to the law of the excluded middle. The law of the excluded middle states that either the proposition is true or its negation is. The laws of mathematics and the axioms of logic are temporally necessary since they are not temporally contingent.

IN CONCLUSION: The Argument of Contingency shows that logic, laws of reality, and the laws of mathematics are temporally necessary. It does not show how God is temporally necessary or how temporally necessary things are unlimited, and consequently, supreme. Since Premise 8 is false, this argument is not sound.

Sources:
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com...
[4] http://www.infidels.org...
[5] http://www.infidels.org...
[6] http://atheism.about.com...
[7] http://atheism.about.com...
Debate Round No. 1
popculturepooka

Pro

Thanks to Immortal again. I will respond only to his relevant criticisms so I will be skipping some premises.

Premise 1: Every temporally contingent being possibly fails to exist at some time.

The premise isn't just probably true - it is analytically true. Con's rebuttal fails - God's nature is defined as a necessary being (see source 13 in my 1st round) and according to classical theism, which is the concept of God that I am defending, omnipotence means that can God can do all things according to his nature. He can do all things that are logically possible in other words. It would be logically impossible for God to change his own nature and make himself a contingent being - temporally or otherwise.

Con says omnipotence is defined as unlimited power but his *own* source 2 betrays him - from under the "meanings of omnipotence" header: "A deity is able to do anything that is logically possible for it to do". And to further add to this for clarification: "In the scholastic understanding, omnipotence is generally understood to be compatible with certain limitations upon a deity's power, as opposed to implying infinite abilities. There are certain things that even an omnipotent deity cannot do...In response to questions of a deity performing impossibilities (such as making square circles) Aquinas says that "Nothing which implies contradiction falls under the omnipotence of God." [1] This is the definition of omnipotence I hold to. I urge Con and the readers to remember this.

Premise 2: If all things possibly fail to exist at some time then it is possible that all things fail to exist at some past time.

No, I am not agreeing with Con that God is temporally contingent. (See my above rebuttal.)

Remember, I said "thing" and "being" are interchangeable but for clarification a thing is "an entity, an idea, or a quality perceived, known, or thought to have its own existence." [2]

Premise 3: It is necessarily the case that possible truths are explicable.

A possible truth is something that is, well, possibly true. Something like saying in some other possible universe there is a bed made of jello. It is possibly true. It may not a very good bed, but it's possible. :p

I never said that God didn't have an explanation in the actual world or any possible world. I said that God's explanation is only possible in reference's to God's own self which is what the later steps of the argument prove.

Con concedes that it's possible that virtual particles have a cause and that is all I need, but Con confuses a few things.

First, yes all possible truths are explicable *in principle*. However, the laws of logic and mathematics aren't possible truths - they are necessary truths meaning they exist in every possible world. In fact, we couldn't judge what is possible without using them. The "laws of reality", whatever those are (I'm assuming laws of nature?), are possibly true in that they could be different. God would also be a necessary truth in that he could not possibly be different and still be called "God".

Premise 4: It is necessarily the case that something is explicable only if there was not a time when nothing existed.

Con, unfortunately, makes little to no sense here. He dismisses complete explanation *in principle* as unnecessary because...well, I'm not exactly sure. Because of the threat of infinite regress? That's exactly what complete explanations are there for! They would stop the infinite regress of explanations in principle.

And his second point is a complete logical non-sequitur. It does not follow that since something is already existent that it is not possible that that something cannot begin or go out of existence. For an easy example of this: say I explain the fact that my homework mysteriously disappeared with the explanation that my dog ate it (and suppose that is true) it doesn't follow that my dog can't begin to exist or go out of existence. Even better, suppose that a black hole's existence is explained/caused by the death of star, it obviously does not follow that the star can't begin or go out of existence. It only has to exist only up until the point until it collapses.

Considering that his point about the laws of nature possibly being temporally necessary falls flat.

And, again, I *granted* that virtual particles might pop into existence uncaused out of "nothing". But Con already conceded that they may possibly have a cause, which does nothing to refute my argument about complete explanations.

Premise 5: Whatever is temporally necessary might be unlimited.

My opponent confuses several things here.

First, it's possible for there to be dependent temporally necessary things. Only unlimited temporally necessary things are not limited. I'd contend all those things are dependent temporally necessary beings except the consciousness of God.

Second, Con makes several mistakes about what he is attacking. Classical theism doesn't hold that God created the laws of logic making them contingent; it holds that logic is grounded in God's nature, and the laws of logic would be something like divine thoughts.
So, God couldn't make the law of non-contradiction false, as even God cannot change his own nature - that would be a logically impossibility.

God is not dependent on logic; it doesn't even make sense to say God is dependent on his own nature.

Premise 6: Whatever might explain itself is unlimited.

More non-sequiturs. Let's say that I couldn't explain those axioms; it doesn't follow from that they are unlimited. I never said that we have to have complete explanations actually...just that they be possible.

Going back to classical theism I would just say that the laws of logic are just part of God's nature.

By the way, 1+1=2 isn't self-explanatory in the sense I mean it. Con is equivocating. 1+1=2 is a set of mathematical inferences and can be broken down, and he's using self-explanatory as synonym for obvious. I am using self-explanatory as
capable of being explained only in terms of itself. None of those axioms are unlimited.

Premise 8: Everything *that* is unlimited is supreme.

Yes, the laws of logic and mathematics (what are the laws of reality?) are not supreme. That's because they are not unlimited. I am not talking about infinity as a mathematical concept. I'm not even sure where I mentioned infinity. God is not dependent on the laws of logic, as it's part of his nature, so Con's point about the laws logic "stopping" perfections is moot.

Let's take these in order.

Omniscience - doesn't mean that God can "know" things that are logically impossible. That's incoherence. Can you "know" that 1+1=12? Neither can God because it doesn't make any sense.

Omnibenevolence - no God is not capable of doing evil. That would contradict his nature to even be capable of it as he is thought to be perfectly good. And all Con is doing is agreeing with my definition (and about all other classical theists as well) that God can only do what is logically possible to do. That is no knock against his omnipotence.

Omnipotence - No, God cannot create a logical contradiction.

Con has repeatedly asserted that logic "restricts" God, but surely this makes no sense upon further inspection. "Restriction" only makes sense if there is something more to which God does not have access to which would be better for him to have access to. Essentially Con is saying that God is "restricted" because he can't create logical contradictions. But logical impossibilities aren't things God doesn't have access to. But logical impossibilities aren't things at all. Is a square circle a thing? No. So saying God is "restricted" from having these perfections by logic makes no sense. It's impossible to go beyond logic.

In conclusion: Con has done nothing in the slightest to put a dent in the argument and it still stands.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.answers.com...
Immortal

Con

Immortal forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
popculturepooka

Pro

Unfortunately, Immortal has forfeited round 2.

I believe I have sufficiently refuted his arguments so extend my my counter-arguments and original argument.

Thanks to anyone who reads this!
Immortal

Con

Immortal forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by popculturepooka 7 years ago
popculturepooka
lol
Posted by Kinesis 7 years ago
Kinesis
He got owned, that's what.
Posted by popculturepooka 7 years ago
popculturepooka
What happened, Immortal? :(
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by philosphical 7 years ago
philosphical
popculturepookaImmortalTied
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Vote Placed by LakevilleNorthJT 7 years ago
LakevilleNorthJT
popculturepookaImmortalTied
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Vote Placed by popculturepooka 7 years ago
popculturepooka
popculturepookaImmortalTied
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