The Instigator
Apeiron
Pro (for)
Winning
21 Points
The Contender
Illegalcombatant
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The Cause of the Universe is Plausibly Personal if the KCA is True

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Apeiron
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,528 times Debate No: 30655
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (200)
Votes (6)

 

Apeiron

Pro







Definitions

First Cause: The aggregate of all first causes



Introductions


I thank Illegalcombatant (Con hereafter) for his willingness to debate this topic. This debate will concern the content discussed in this forum over the last couple of posts,


http://debate.org...

Con tried to put forth the strange notion of a non-personal timeless cause of the universe if the Cosmological Argument is true.



Burden of Proofs


Note the resolution says that if the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) is true, then, by conceptual analysis of the very nature of the case of a transcendent cause, it is more plausibly personal. That's the resolution, thus we're taking for granted that the KCA is true, and that the universe, all of space and time, in fact has a transcendent cause of it's creation. This means that by the very nature of the case the transcendent cause must be spaceless, timeless, unimaginably powerful. And the only contention between Con and Pro is that this cause is also personal (or not).


With that said, I affirm that the transcendent cause of the universe is more plausibly personal, since a will or volition is required to change from a timeless state into a consequential state of being in time. It must, in effect, choose to change states, if we understand what a timeless state is. Thus my BoP to bear is to show, by conceptual analysis of a transcendent cause, that the cause more plausibly has volition, and is therefore personal. This will be easy to do. Also I must refute or rebut Con's case.



Con on the other hand has a remarkable BoP to bear, he must show that it is somehow more plausible that a transcendent cause of the universe is more plausibly non-personal, that is, natural; that a natural transcendent cause of the universe was necessary and sufficient to bring about a change from a timeless state to a state of being in time and space and matter and energy, etc. This seems like an impossible task, but not only that, Con must also refute or rebut my case.
Let's reason together.





Why The Cause Is Personal


Personal Over Scientific Explanation

If you walk into your kitchen as ask, "why is the kettle boiling?" two types of explanations can be given but only one is sufficient - the first type is a scientific explanation: that the water is heated to a point where atoms speed up their collisions, etc. But the second explanation is a personal one in terms of will or volition, "I wanted to make you tea." (Want some?)

In some contexts it would be inappropriate to give one explanation over the other. Now the universe can't be given a scientific explanation since it's the cause of space and time we're talking about here, there's no spatio-temporal thing before or beyond space and time so it couldn't be accounted for in terms of laws operating on initial conditions. It can only be accounted for in terms of personal explanation in terms of volition, a personal explanation.[1]



Timelessness & Immateriality

The only entities we know of which can possess such properties as timelessness and immateriality are either minds or abstract objects like numbers. But by definition abstract objects cannot cause anything.[2][3] Numbers and sets can't cause anything for abstract means causally impotent! Therefore, in the question of which came first, the mind or the matter- if matter is what began, then mind must have caused it.




Origin of a Temporal Effect from a Timeless Cause

Free agency accounts for the origin of a first temporal effect from a changeless cause. The cause is in some sense eternal, and the effect which it produced is not eternal but began to exist a finite time ago. If the necessary and sufficient conditions for the production of the effect are eternal, then why isn't the effect eternal? How can all the causal conditions sufficient for the effect be changelessly existent and yet the effect not also be existent along with the cause? How can the cause exist without the effect?

There must be an absolutely first event, before which there was no change, no previous event. Why is not the effect co-eternal with the cause? The best way out of this dilemma is of course agent causation. Where the agent freely brings about some event in the absence of proper determining conditions.


Collective Properties of the Universe

The First Cause is an entity that has produced a universe apparently fine-tuned for life, containing beauty and creatures attuned to beauty, containing moral obligations and creatures aware of them, a universe containing conscious beings with free will, a universe some of whose contents have objective functions (eyes are for seeing, and so on). Thus the First Cause is more plausibly a highly intelligent and very powerful person acting purposively is highly plausible given all this data.[4]




Why the Cause Is Not Non-personal


Without Coherence
Con wants to say that the candidate for a transcendent cause is a non personal timeless cause. That is, the transcendent cause of all things we consider natural, is, well, natural. Clearly this seems contradictory. Nevertheless it at least seems that this position is less plausible, if not impossible. For one there are no potentialities of a timeless non-personal entity which would constrain what it can (or can't) cause. Also, without a volition to will another state other than the one it's in, namely, a timeless state, it seems inexplicable why a universe would be the only thing, if anything at all, is what is somehow chosen to pop into being a finite time ago. What's so special about universes that has this natural timeless entity creating it? Surely this seems metaphysically absurd! Con therefore faces the dilemma spoken of under, "Origin of a Temporal Effect from a Timeless Cause." He therefore owes us a third alternative other than a mind.



Without Content
The notion of a non-personal cause of time and space, which is itself timeless, is as yet without content, we can surmise no matters of fact about such a timeless non-personal immaterial and extremely powerful cause other that why it should be a mind instead. Simply, a timeless non-personal entity can't logically cause from a timeless state since that would require volition or a will to do so. For by the very nature of the case, a timeless non-personal cause has no potentialities to cause successive events. A will on the other hand, does.



Without Potentialities
Furthermore, as mentioned before, there's nothing qualifying what potentialities a non-personal timeless cause has. If Con honestly wants to say a natural, non-personal being causes a change of states from one state to another so that time comes into being; he's got to show us how such a notion can be accomplished without a will. Unless and until he does that, then I think it's more plausible that a transcendent cause of time willed time from a timeless state.



Conclusion

I'll await Illegalcombatant's reply, but so far we've seen four good reasons for thinking a transcendent cause of the universe is personal, and we've also seen three good reasons for thinking it isn't natural or non-personal.



Citations

1. Richard Swineburne, The Existnece of God, rev. ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1991), 32-48.

2. http://plato.stanford.edu...;

3. Craig, Copan, Creation Out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2004), p.168-70.

4. Alexander R. Pruss, Cosmological Arguments, https://bearspace.baylor.edu...
Illegalcombatant

Con

What this debate is about and burden of proof

I thank Aperion for creating this debate. For those who are unaware the Kalam Cosmolgical Argument (KCA) is as follows...

1.0. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2.0. The universe began to exist.
3.0. Therefore, the universe has a cause. [1]

Of course even if the universe has a "cause" this in it's self doesn't prove that the universe has a personal cause. Aperion wants to go one step further and argue that if the universe has a cause then the universe is more plausibly personal than non personal, the question here is what is the justification for this.

This has some implications for this debate....

1) Pro need not prove that the universe has a cause, but rather IF the universe has a cause then that cause is more plausible to be personal than non personal.

2) I the Con don't have to prove that the IF the universe has a cause then that cause is more plausibly non personal than personal. If Pro is not able to provide a good argument for the plausibility of a personal cause vs a non personal cause then we are left with no reason to think that one type of cause is more plausible than the other and thus Pro has not meet their burden.

I ask the reader to keep in mind throughout this debate, even if the universe has a cause, what reason/s have we being given to think that the cause is personal ?

Supernatural timeless personal cause vs Supernatural timeless non personal cause

Pro says..."The only entities we know of which can possess such properties as timelessness and immateriality are either minds or abstract objects like numbers"

The mind vs abstract objects is a false dilemma, In order for Pros argument to get off the ground clearly they have to assume that a supernatural timeless personal cause is at least possible (If they didn't this debate ends very quickly). If Pro can have just the mere possibility of a supernatural timeless personal cause, I as the Con can have just the mere possibility of a supernatural timeless personal cause.

Pro says..."Con wants to say that the candidate for a transcendent cause is a non personal timeless cause. That is, the transcendent cause of all things we consider natural, is, well, natural"

This is a misunderstanding on Pros part. I take it that Pro is talking about a timeless personal supernatural cause. When I ask about how a non personal cause got ruled out, I mean it within that context, that is to say how did a timeless non personal supernatural cause get ruled out ?

Pro says..."If Con honestly wants to say a natural, non-personal being causes a change of states from one state to another so that time comes into being; "

Again same mistake.

Collective Properties of the Universe

Pro brings up some general points about such things as eyes and beauty. Pro then concludes that its more likely the cause is personal. There is no argument here, just the assumption.

Even on the surface the assumption of intentionality is questionable as Christopher Hitchens explains...

"This, there's a certain arrogance to this assumption all of this"all of this extraordinary development was all about us and we were the intended and the desired result and everything else was in the discard. The tremendous wastefulness of it, the tremendous cruelty of it, the tremendous caprice of it, the tremendous tinkering and incompetence of it, never mind at least we're here and we can be people of faith. It doesn't work me, I have to simply say that and I think there may be questions of psychology involved in this as well" [2]

Appeal of agent/personal causation in the face of ignorance

In order for Pro to justify the plausibility of a personal cause of the universe then Pro needs to provide justification for this claim on its own merits. Sam Harris elaborates...

"Religion was the discourse we had when all causes were opaque, we didn't know the basis of anything. We didn't know why we were here, we didn't know how disease spread or what disease was, we didn't know why people died early and why others flourished, we don't know what is causing thunder storms or why crops fail and we very naturally and as a cognitive and behavioral imperative form descriptions of the world and try to figure out what is going on. [3]

There is an important logical point here, ignorance about non personal causation does not equal therefore a personal cause. Yes this logical point also extends to questions about the causation in regards to the universe. To merely ask questions about how can a timeless non personal cause do such and such ? but why does a timeless non personal cause do such and such ? is to just take advantage of ignorance on the matter and hope people conclude its personal agency at work.
Consider where Pro asks the question..."What's so special about universes that has this natural timeless entity creating it?"

I don't know Pro, maybe cause we don't know we should now conclude therefore the cause of the universe is personal ?

There is no temporal gap between a timeless cause and it's effect

To ask such questions as how a timeless cause cause can exist without its effect makes no sense, as there is no temporal gap between a timeless cause and its effect as Wes Morriston explains..

"A timeless personal agent timelessly wills to create a world with a beginning, or else does not so will. There can be no temporal gap between the time at which it does the willing and the time at which the thing willed actually happens. In this respect a timeless personal cause is no differentfrom a non-personal cause.To see this, suppose that a timeless and non-personal cause, {s}, is causally sufficient for the existence of a physical universe, alpha, having a temporal duration of thirty billion years. Suppose further that the beginning ofalpha coincides with the beginning of time, so that alpha "comes into being" only in the extratemporal sense. Craig's argument is supposed to show us that this is impossible. If {s} is really eternal*, then alpha cannot have a beginning. Why not? Because no matter when alpha begins, {s} would already have produced it' [4]

Unsubstantiated claims about the impossibilities of a timeless non personal cause
Pro is admirably explicit in his claim that its impossible for the universe to have a non personal timeless cause as he says..."Simply, a timeless non-personal entity can't logically cause from a timeless state"

And would Pro like to tell us explicitly the justification for this claim ? and by explicit justification I mean more than just a series of questions.

Pro shifts the burden

Pro says..."Con honestly wants to say a natural, non-personal being causes a change of states from one state to another so that time comes into being; he's got to show us how such a notion can be accomplished without a will. Unless and until he does that, then I think it's more plausible that a transcendent cause of time willed time from a timeless state.

Pro tries to shift the burden here, he doesn't get to sit back and claim until his impossibility assertion is proven false he is right by default.

The brain & mind connection

1) When we encounter minds we observe that they are acommpained by brains
2) When the brain changes for example by alcohol or brain injury we observe that the mind changes

Does this evidence suggest that mind is dependent on the brain ? yes.

Conclusion

At the core of Pro argument is a claim about the impossibilities of a timeless non personal cause, but its merely asserted by Pro and has not being justified.

I look forward to Pros reply.

[1] The Blackwell Companion Guide to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig & J.P.Moreland, Page 102.
[2] http://hitchensdebates.blogspot.com.au...
[3] www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQgI4bHpAlA
[4] http://www.colorado.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
Apeiron

Pro







Burdens of Proof
By accepting the terms of the debate spelled out in R1, Con accepts his BOP of a more plausible non-personal cause. Thus if Con fails to provide evidence for the cause being more plausibly non-personal, then either we tie or I win if I succeed in my arguments.


Why The Cause Is Personal


Personal Over Scientific Explanation

Here, Con makes the argument that it's an argument from ignorance to rule out the possibility of a natural cause of the universe. But not only does such promissory scientism beg the question, but it's clearly false. I'm not basing my case on what we don't know, but on what we
do know about agent causation, scientific explanation, fine-tuning, the philosophical nature of timeless and immateriality, and the nature of the origin of a temporal effect from a timeless cause.

Instead, it is namely Pro who is making a case from ignorance. He argues for a natural cause based upon his apparent ignorance on how such an entity would cause only universes. In response to my question of what makes universes so special that it's the only thing that a non-personal transcendent causes create, Pro confesses, "I don't know!"


Timelessness & Immateriality

Here Con plays a game of tit for tat, he says, "If Pro can have just the mere possibility of a supernatural timeless personal cause, I ... can have just the mere possibility of a supernatural timeless personal cause."

First, I argued for the plausibility of my cause. Second,
how does it follow that given the obvious coherency of a transcendent personal cause, that therefore a transcendent non-persoanl cause is equally coherent? This begs the question on Con's part. Whereas for a transcendent mind, there's vast tracts of literature defending dualism as even a plausible view for finite beings such as ourselves! It just seems obvious that minds can possible be independent of physical states, and there's nothing remotely incoherent about a mind having access to all his thoughts at once in a timeless state.

On the other hand, if a cause is immaterial, timeless and non-personal, how then does it differ from nothing at all, much less a coherent causal power? All Con argues is a weak inductive argument for mind-brain dependancy. But I don't deny that humans operating in a physical world are fundamentally minds that use physical brains much like a pianist uses a piano. If the piano is damaged or keys are missing, of course the pianist will be unable to utilize his instrument in a musical context. Likewise, if the brain is damaged, all that can be concluded is that the mind has no causal access to such malfunctioned physical states. But God, like humans, can still cause physical states with their minds.


Origin of a Temporal Effect from a Timeless Cause

It's perfectly sensible to ask the question of why the effect isn't co-eternal with the cause? In state-state causation, think of a bowling ball resting on a couch from eternity past, the depression on the couch (effect) would be co-eternal with the bowling ball's weight (cause). But with agent-causation, as in the case of the beginning of the universe, we have a transcendent cause who must have been timeless, that is, in some sense eternal. But then the effect of the eternal cause is finite! Agent causation easily succeeds as a way out of this dilemma where state-state causation fails.

Now Morriston's objection is based on his assumption of state-state causation rather than agent causation. He supposes that God's changeless state of willing the universe is sufficient for its existence. But there's a difference between God's timeless intention to create a temporal world and God's undertaking to create a temporal world. Thus creation ex nihilo isn't an instance of state-state causation and is therefore not susceptible to Morriston's objection. For God must be temporal since creation even if He is timeless without it. Morriston simply fails to differentiate between God's timeless intention to create a temporal world and God's undertaking to create a temporal world in his objection.[5]



Collective Properties of the Universe

Con claims that the Fine-Tuning of the universe for beauty and complex life capable of moral apprehension is merely an assumption. First, it's ridiculously obvious the amount of mathematical beauty in the world and simplicity with which nature is ordered. Second, fine-tuning is a neutral term meaning that very small deviations from the actual values of the universe’s constants and quantities would result in a life prohibiting universe. For the range of life-permitting values is exquisitely narrow compared with the range of assumable values.[6]

Hitchens complains of hubris to think that the world was designed for us. Such a sneer is irrelevant, for it's still the case that not only is a finely tuned universe more probable given a personal mind, than given a non-personal mind, but a personal mind also seems to be a better explanation of such exquisite fine-tuning. We can summarize our reasoning as follows,

  1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design
  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance
  3. Therefore, it is due to design

For the crucial premise 2, it can't be physical necessity since the notion that a a life-prohibiting universe is physically impossible seems outlandish, for if the primordial matter and antimatter had been differently proportioned, or if the universe had expanded just a bit more slowly, or if the entropy were marginally greater, then life would’ve been impossible.

Nor could the fine-tuning be due to chance, for the odds of these values falling into a life permitting range can’t be reasonably faced. Out of the possible universes, a life permitting universe is enormously improbable, and therefore we're more rational to affirm that the best explanation of the fine-tuning is due to design. Which is more plausibly the result of a personal mind.



Why the Cause Is Not Non-personal



Without Coherence

Here Con charged that a transcendent non-personal cause isn't "natural," as in the sense of metaphysical naturalism; where no entities have will or volition whatever, but rather that such a cause is supernatural, and that such a notion merits legitimacy. But rather than Con demonstrating the legitimacy of his case, he merely asks the question, "why not this?" … This amounts to pure speculation without any sort of argument of the amount and caliber that I've provided in my positive case.

Con then says that I've not supported my claim about the impossibility of a timeless non-personal cause of a finite universe. But this is clearly false, for since agent causation is the only way out of the dilemma mentioned earlier, then Con faces such a dilemma without an appeal to agent causation. Consider that the only two alternatives to agent causation is state-state and event event causation. But neither can produce the first state or first event from an eternal state or event. Since it's cause must, by definition of causation, be co-eternal.


Without Content

What does Con mean by a "Supernatural timeless non-personal cause"? Content must be given here otherwise it seems quite meaningless and contrived, and therefore we are free to reject it as an arbitrary alternative to a personal supernatural cause. Con goes out of his way to avoid this task of giving his strange position content, Extend Arguments


Without Potentialities

Here Con just asserts that I made a mistake, Extend Arguments



Conclusion

Con wrongly assumes that he doesn't bear a burden, and I've easily beared mine both in showing the impossibility and implausibility of a natural cause which incoherently transcends nature, and in defending the plausibility of a personal cause which coherently transcends his natural creation.



Citations
6. See J.D. Barrow and F.J. Tipler’s, “The Anthropic Cosmological Principle” and, Sir Martin Rees, Robin Collins, et al
Illegalcombatant

Con

I thank Aperion for their reply.

[Corrections]

If Pro can have just the mere possibility of a supernatural timeless personal cause, I as the Con can have just the mere possibility of a *supernatural timeless personal cause.

* That should be supernatural timeless non personal cause

[Burden of Proof]

It wasn't clear that was a condition of acceptance rather than an argument within the debate. There is background to this debate, this debate came about because of various claims by Aperion about causation concerning the universe. Specifically if the universe has a cause what can and can't be the case concerning its causation.

[Supernatural timeless personal cause vs Supernatural timeless non personal cause]

Pro keeps arguing against a natural cause of the universe. Yes I get it Pro, we are debating the cause of the universe ergo by definition "supernatural". I am not suggesting a "natural" cause.

[Appeal of agent/personal causation in the face of ignorance]

Pro asked the question...""What's so special about universes that has this natural timeless entity creating it?"

My apologies, I thought the question was what's so special about universes that a supernatural non personal, timeless cause creates it. My answer is ...I don't know. Now what conclusions do we draw from this established ignorance ?

1) Therefore it does not exist
2) Therefore it may or may not exist

To conclude that therefore it does not exist would be an argument from ignorance. As I said before..."There is an important logical point here, ignorance about non personal causation does not equal therefore a personal cause. Yes this logical point also extends to questions about the causation in regards to the universe"

Also note that the lack of content charge against a cause that is supernatural, timeless & non personal doesn't justify therefore lets conclude the supernatural cause is personal.

Pro asks the question..."On the other hand, if a cause is immaterial, timeless and non-personal, how then does it differ from nothing at all, much less a coherent causal power"

Because as a supernatural "cause" it would be something and as such would not be nothing.

Pro claims that a supernatural cause that is timeless, non personal, immaterial is incoherent, I reject this charge.

A logically possible proposition is one that can be asserted without implying a logical contradiction. This is to say that a proposition is logically possible if there is some coherent way for the world to be, under which the proposition would be true. [1]

Consider the following propositions...

1) A supernatural cause that is personal, timeless, immaterial
2) A mind existing without a brain
3) "A mind having access to all his thoughts at once in a timeless state."
4) God is timeless without the universe, God is temporal with the universe

And assuming that God = the mind Pro is talking about...

5) A timeless mind that is not dependent on a brain having access to all it thoughts at once in a timeless state that is timeless without the universe and temporal with the universe
6) A supernatural cause that is is non personal, timeless, immaterial

Now Pro seems to have no problems with the logical coherency of 1,2,3,4,5 But when its comes to 6) Pros throws his hands up, No no no he says, its logical incoherent, disregard this non sense, no content, nothing to see here people. I could claim that a timeless mind that is not dependent on a brain having access to all it thoughts at once in a timeless state that is timeless without the universe and temporal with the universe is "logically incoherent" too ya know.

Pros claims here about what is and isn't logically coherent is merely asserted to suit their own purposes.

[Collective Properties of the Universe]

Pro misunderstands Hitchens here, the assumption isn't about the existence of things like eyes, beauty, the Ebola virus. The assumption comes into play when people just assume its the product of intent.

[Intelligent Design ?]

Neil Tyson brings up the following...

Earth

1) Earth quakes tsunami's, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, lighting strikes
2) Mass extinctions, disease, climate shift, killer asteroids
3) 90% of all life that ever lived is now extinct

[Humans]

1) Aggressive child hood leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's
2) We eat, drink, breath though the same hole, guaranteeing some of us will choke to death each year, more common in babies & children. [2]

Does this evidence suggest that we are the product of some extra cosmic plan ? No.

[Argument from fine tuning/life permitting universe]

Peter Slezak explains...

"The immense improbability of some event is often a good argument for an underlying cause or intelligent purpose and design...but not always, it depends on the context and background theory for that context"

"David Hume argued in his dialogues concerning natural religion, we have no background theory for how universes can come into being, the way we have for how writing comes into being. What alternative theory has scientific support that would makes chance a worse explanation in this case. How can you compare the entire universe to how a watch or house is made ? that is David Humes question."...&..."So unless you know something else about the background the mere fact of the improbability on its own doesn't tell you anything that is contrary to the possibility of chance." [3]

Pro doesn't have the background information necessary to make a probability judgment here, Pro just appeals to a fallacy of improbability. Also notice how he just asserts that a life permitting universe is more likely if it was chosen to be that way. I doubt he can justify that, he can only appeal to something like, the odds are so astronomical !!!

[Observer selection effects/Life permitting universe]

We live in a life permitting universe, if we didn't then we wouldn't exist, and that's the catch. You can't infer a necessary precondition was "chosen" to be like that, just because unless that necessary pre-condition wasn't the case you wouldn't exist, even if the odds are astronomical. This is the kind of assumption Hitchens warned about and fallacy of improbabilities that Slezak explained.

[There is no temporal gap between a timeless cause and it's effect]

Pros bowling ball analogy isn't applicable because the cause that is the ball in pros analogy is eternal in the sense of having endless duration producing its endless duration effect of the depression in the couch. But we are talking about a timeless cause, and whether its personal or not giving rise to an effect that is timefull, either way the timeless cause can't exist before (temporally) before the effect.

[Unsubstantiated claims about the impossibilities of a timeless non personal cause]

There is no dilemma here until Pro proves that a timeless cause must be personal to give rise to a timefull effect.

[Occams razor]

Occams Razor enjoins us to not add any unnecessary assumptions. Even if the universe has a supernatural, timeless, immaterial cause, it would be a violation to add a "will" or "persona agency" until it is shown necessary.

[The brain & mind connection]

Pro here just asserts dualism, and what God is and can do. Just assertions.

Pros analogy of the piano player who wants to play his piano but can't because of the missing keys is inept as Sam Harris explains..."You damage area's of the brain, faculties are lost, it's not as if everyone with brain damage has their soul perfectly in tact and they just can't get the words out, everything about your mind can be damaged by damaging the brain" [4]

I look forward to Pros reply.

Sources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oEl9kVl6KPc#!
[3] www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqqESXhZAqE
[4] www.youtube.com/watch?v=Juriylw7B0
Debate Round No. 2
Apeiron

Pro








Why The Cause Is Personal


Personal Over Scientific Explanation
: Extend Arguments


Timelessness & Immateriality
Here, Con only offers a taughtology, that since a supernatural-natural cause would be something, despite it's being immaterial, timeless and non-personal, then it would be something.
Con's anti-dualism falls by the wayside since I showed it's possible that minds aren't dependent upon physical states given the coherency of dualism. Harris' quote only offers correlations of brain states with mental states, yet nothing is given as to how the latter is necessarily dependent upon the former to exist. Insofar as it is inexplicable how material bodies could act on minds to produce ideas, there's no reason why a substance-Mind is incoherent. We even identify with ourselves as minds, for the brain isn't jubilant or sad, the mind is!


Origin of a Temporal Effect from a Timeless Cause
Con misunderstands my bowling ball analogy, it only represented simultaneous causation. And Con made no argument for why a personal timeless cause can't exist in a timeless state.
Then Con asserts that his alternative cause doesn't face the state-state/event-event causation dilemma. But even if it were true that I didn't show that a timeless agent can instantiate a temporal effect, it still wouldn't follow that his alternative cause is out of the dilemma. For we still haven't heard why the effect isn't co-eternal with Con's natural cause! Yet in agent causation, the agent freely brings about some event in the absence of proper determining conditions in a timeless state, and so therefore a timeless personal cause can clearly give rise to a temporal effect: for the cause and effect would be simultaneous, but not co-eternal, given volition.

Lastly, Agent causation doesn't violate Occam's Razor since I've given 4 reasons for why agency is more plausibly necessary.


Collective Properties of the Universe
With the Hitchens quote, notice that he just asserts that the contents of the universe indicate "bad intent" sometimes, but never no intention. First, this point is irrelevant, we're not inferring the moral nature of the personal cause from the moral ambiguity of the world he created. Rather we're observing the fine-tuning of the created cosmos, and inferring that the best explanation of that fine-tuning is due to a personal designer. Thus Con's sloppy add on of the problem of evil is irrelevant, and has even been answered here,
Second, natural disasters of which Tyson bespeaks is necessary for our evolution and therefore our existence in the first place. Such anthropic conditions cannot logically count against the existence of agent causation. Darwin's colleague TR. Malthus also showed that extinction is also necessary for life. Malthusian Dynamics showed that since all populations tend to increase exponentially, then a struggle for existence is necessary if most populations are to be in equilibrium across the planet.

Third, evolution is irrelevant to the fine-tuning argument. For if some of these cosmic variables were altered by less than a hairs breadth, there wouldn't even be matter let alone galaxies for life to evolve on. For a discussion on the evolutionary PoE go here,


http://www.debate.org...


Regarding Slezak's objection, he misunderstands that we're talking about the specified probability of a universe being life-permitting. As Dembski explains, the way we detect intelligent design is by the combination of high improbability +
an independently given pattern. In the case of the universe it's the pattern of variables necessary for intelligent life + the improbability that these variables all occur by chance which indicates a personal design.

Hume's quote is irrelevant to the Fine-Tuning Argument (FTA) on two counts. First since it questions premise one of the already granted KCA. Second, my FTA doesn't use inductive probability calculus, rather it's in the abductive form of the "Inference to the Best Explanation."[1]

Regarding Observer Selection Effects (OSE), atheist J.L. Mackie explains that, "this is not a good reply… There is only one actual universe, with a unique set of basic materials and physical constants, and it is therefore surprising that the elements of this unique set-up are just right for life when they might easily have been wrong. This is not made less surprising by the fact that if it had not been so, no one would have been here to be surprised."[2]

So just because we observe a high probability of finely tuned values, doesn’t mean that therefore a finely tuned universe has a high probability to exist! How are OSE's even relevant to the FTA? If I observe that I'm awake at 3am, then therefore I am sometimes awake at 3am! Hence arguments with OSE's aren't always bad. For suppose that my net is bound to capture exactly one 10'-long fish. The hypothesis that this fish's parents were about 10' is preferred to the hypothesis that its parents were 1' if my net catches a 10' fish! "The fact that I couldn't have caught a fish of a different size seems wholly irrelevant."[3]



Why the Cause Is Not Non-personal


Without Coherence
First, Con is suggesting a natural cause, for "many contemporary thinkers adopt a naturalist view of the mental realm because they think that otherwise we will be unable to explain how mental processes can causally influence non-mental processes."[4]

The non-mental state of a naturalistic, timeless, immaterial being is incoherent because naturalism implies physicalism, and since physicalism implies material states, then the actual cause of such material states logically can't be material, and therefore can't be natural! Con wants us to believe in non-sense over coherence; a supernatural-natural cause over a supernatural-personal cause…

Con merely complains in the same old tit-for-tat manner that if a personal cause can enjoy coherency, then a non-personal cause can too. This is just a miserable objection. I've already demonstrated the coherency and plausibility of a personal cause while showing a non-personal cause as incoherent. Con has yet to demonstrate the coherence of his case let alone its plausibility!


Without Content
Con is correct that the lack of content for his supernatural-natural cause doesn't justify the conclusion that the supernatural cause is personal. But first, I gave 4 arguments for thinking why the cause is in fact personal, not just a lack of content argument. Second, what the lack of content charge does show, is that Con's supernatural-natural cause is meaningless; it has no content.


Without Potentialities
Con repeats ignorance on why it's only universes that his natural cause somehow creates from a state lacking any potentialities. But my argument here isn't:


1) since we're ignorant on why it's only universe's this natural cause has the potential for creating, so therefore a natural cause of the universe doesn't exist


…rather my argument is:


2) if a natural cause is to be established as a more plausible candidate for the cause of the universe, then we must know how such a cause has the potential to change a timeless state to another state so that time comes into being without it choosing to do so with a will.


For if Con can't offer a possible potentiality, then it's not to be preferred to a known potentiality; agent causation. Thus 2 isn't an argument from ignorance, but Con's is! For he argues that we don't know what potentialities a natural cause would have, so therefore it's more plausible than a personal cause.



Citations
1. http://plato.stanford.edu...
2. JL Mackie, "The Miracle of Theism"
3. Plantinga, "Where the Conflict Really Lies"
4. http://plato.stanford.edu...
Illegalcombatant

Con

I thank Aperion for their reply.

Important debating point

We have to debate within the 8,000 characters per round, other wise I can counter with posting links of my own while not having to use up space in the debate round. I don't think people want a link fest here.

As such I ask that people disregard arguments that are NOT contained within the debating rounds.

Supernatural timeless personal cause vs Supernatural timeless non personal cause

Pro says..."He argues for a natural cause based upon his apparent ignorance on how such an entity would cause only universes"...&..."but Con's is! For he argues that we don't know what potentialities a natural cause would have, so therefore it's more plausible than a personal cause."

Look at what I said last round..."Pro keeps arguing against a natural cause of the universe. Yes I get it Pro, we are debating the cause of the universe ergo by definition "supernatural". I am not suggesting a "natural" cause."

Why Pro continues to go down the "natural" cause road I have no idea. Maybe Pro thinks that all supernatural causes must be personal, so by refuting a "natural" cause then this means the supernatural cause must be personal, but the claim that a supernatural cause can ONLY be personal has not being established by Pro.

You will recall how I pressed Pro on his claims about what is possible and impossible concerning a supernatural cause that is timeless & non personal. I think it should be clear now that Pro claims here are at his own convenience, as such Pro doesn't get to dismiss out of hand the proposition...6)A supernatural cause that is is non personal, timeless, immaterial just on his say so.

Appeal of agent/personal causation in the face of ignorance

You will recall how I have said...""There is an important logical point here, ignorance about non personal causation does not equal therefore a personal cause. Yes this logical point also extends to questions about the causation in regards to the universe"

It should also be noted that when you are ignorant about something it will "lack content", this doesn't justify the lack of logical coherence charge by Pro in regard to a supernatural cause that is not personal. As such all the unanswered questions concerning a non personal supernatural cause of the universe no more justify a supernatural personal cause of the universe anymore than all the unanswered questions of seizures justify a personal cause (demon possession) or all the unanswered questions about earth quakes justify a personal cause (divine punishment).

Argument from fine tuning/Life permitting universe & Observer selection effects

Pro quotes J.L as saying..."There is only one actual universe, with a unique set of basic materials and physical constants"

Correction: There is only one actual universe that we are aware of. It would be a brave and possibly foolish for some one to claim for all time that this is the only universe or the only universe that exists with a certain range of physical constants. I would also add that being surprised isn't a justification for inferring intelligent design.

Consider where Pro argues..." In the case of the universe it's the pattern of variables necessary for intelligent life + the improbability that these variables all occur by chance which indicates a personal design."

This confuses an immense improbability of something as the same as an independent pattern that infers intelligent design, they are not the same.

To establish a pattern that infers intentionality, first you need evidence of the pattern being repeated, a once off isn't enough, where is the evidence of this pattern being repeated ? Then you need background info that allows you to justify that that pattern is happening in such a way that the pattern would not or would probably not have emerge had it not being for intent. We don't have that information and evidence when its comes to universes even life permitting ones, or at least life as we know it.

Christopher Hitchens retorts....

For most of its lifetime Christianity taught that the earth itself was the center of the universe and we had been given exclusive dominion as a species over it; could not have been more wrong. How are we going to square the new cosmology, the fantastic new discoveries in physics with the old dogmas? Well, one is the idea of this fine tuning about which I've only left myself three and a half minutes. I'll have to refer some of this to later in the discussion. This is essentially another form of pattern seeking on the basis of extremely limited evidence. Most physicists are very uncertain, as they have every right to be, in fact I would say for physicists as they have the duty to be, at the moment, extremely uncertain about the spatio-temporal dimensions of the original episode, the Big Bang at it's sometimes called. We're in the very very early stages of this inquiry we hardly know what we don't know about the origins of the universe. We're viewing it from an unimaginable distance, not just an unimaginable distance in space, perched on a tiny rock on an extremely small suburb of a fairly minor galaxy, trying to look, to discern our origins, but also at a very unbelievable distance in time and we claim the right to say, "Ah, we can see the finger of God in this process." It's an extraordinarily arrogant assumption. It either deserves a Nobel Prize in physics, which it hasn't yet got I notice (I don't know any physicists who believes these assumptions are necessary), or it deserves a charge of hubris" [1]

Without the necessary information, there is no "independent pattern" that infers intelligent design and is just another way of trying to infer intelligent design because an outcome is immensely improbable.

There is no temporal gap between a timeless cause and it's effect & Unsubstantiated claims about the impossibilities of a timeless non personal cause

Pro asks..."For we still haven't heard why the effect isn't co-eternal with Con's natural cause!"

Even if we add the correction of supernatural to replace natural here, that's the best you get from Pro here, he just asks the question and hope no one notices that he himself has not justified HIS claim here, not good enough. As such without the necessity of a timeless cause needing a "will" to produce a time full effect, occams razor enjoins us to not add this unnecessary assumption.

At this point my argument here is that in light of my objections and counter-arguments that Pro has not given us a good reason to justify that even if the universe has a cause it is more plausible to be personal than non personal.

The brain & mind connection

Pro retorts even in light of the evidence it still doesn't rule out the possibility of a mind existing without a brain. Well sure, but it's also possible that mind IS dependent on the brain. To take page out of Pros book, if mind is not dependent on the brain then its inexplicable why we find ourselves constantly where our brains is and we don't find our minds existing without their corresponding brain. This is what we would expect to be the cause if mind was dependent on brain.

As such the argument here is that since the mind is probably dependent on the brain the universe was probably not caused by a mind existing without a brain.

Intelligent Design ?

Pro makes the point that the evidence doesn't logically contradict intelligent design. Well sure, but that's the dirty little secret of intelligent design, you can make it fit with anything, and if worse comes to worse in light of any evidence that suggests the contrary, hey the intelligent designer works in mysterious ways.

But the question here is does the evidence I bought up SUGGEST that we are part of some extra cosmic plan ? No.

I thank Aperion for the debate.

Sources

[1] http://hitchensdebates.blogspot.com.au...
Debate Round No. 3
200 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
(sorry for the double post)
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"Well ok, God's watching haha ;-)"

Lol
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"Well ok, God's watching haha ;-)"

Lol
Posted by Apeiron 4 years ago
Apeiron
Well ok, God's watching haha ;-)
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"Haha, dude nobody's watching.. it's just you and me here ;-)"

Nobody is watching us eh? How does it feel to be an Atheist! Jk lol

"Everything you said was pretty much just more of the same"

Not at all, I made significant progress. Your EXACT words were:

I agree with you that an unactivated mechanical transition function, without mechanical sufficient conditions, allows the dilemma in question to be easily brushed by: but that comes in the form of a will. Why think it doesn't? - You

This means that you concede that cause I mentioned sideswipes the dilemma, if I could show that it did not entail free will. I actually showed that it could not entail free will. Thus you agree I found a way out of the dichotomy.

"it still doesn't seem that what you call non-sentience is in fact non-sentience at all"

Why not? A sentient being can pull matter together and have pieces fling in random directions, so can the mechanical nature of gravity. It doesn't seem as if there is a physical creation that is a product of free will, which couldn't be delivered from an alternative mechanical end.
Posted by Apeiron 4 years ago
Apeiron
Everything you said was pretty much just more of the same, it still doesn't seem that what you call non-sentience is in fact non-sentience at all, I'd like to see you qualify this for once and you haven't apart from the same tautology over and over.
Posted by Apeiron 4 years ago
Apeiron
Haha, dude nobody's watching.. it's just you and me here ;-)
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"Yes things can be changeless and not without being immutable, but that's only if it has a will"

Special pleading. On top of that, you have only argued that a "will" fits the description, but it doesn't follow from that, that only a "will" could fit the description. Most importantly, I even showed that a free will could not fit the desciption in question.

In conclusion:

You have conceded that a necessary condition with an unactivated transition function, lacking mechanical sufficient conditions, side steps the dilemma. Thus, I have side stepped the dilemma unscathed, as I have shown how the mechanical necessary condition does not entail free will.

"Oh and btw, I'm sort of embarrassed to say this since any naturalist would know"

You should be embarrassed, because I never claimed to be a naturalist.

"Yes a mechanical condition cannot pertain to free will but by what strokes is your condition in fact"

I never said it was fact, I'm agnostic on the cause of the universe (can you read well?). And Did you hear that folks? That's called the goal posts switching. You said the cause I mentioned sideswipes the dilemma, if I could show it did not pertain to a free will. I did that. Thus, I side wiped the dilemma. Personal cause argument debunked.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"Sure we don't experience ourselves as timeless but there's nothing incoherent about such a mind having access to all its thoughts in a timeless state"

There is nothing logically incoherent with rapist unicorns. What's your point? Where are the scientific implications?

"The fact that the cause must be timeless spaceless and immaterial just cashes out from the kalam ... so that would be one heck of a mountain to pass.. good luck with that."

What mountain am I trying to pass? I granted a timeless, spaceless, and immaterial cause for the sake of the argument.

"Do you really think this stuff over BEFORE writing it to me?)"

I could ask you the same thing...A necessary condition, containing mechanical transition function, with an inherit nature specific to the actualization of symmetry breaking is actually free will? Lmao...Good luck with that.

"You've not yet shown how a a thing can have essentially both change and non-change WITHOUT sentience (that you call non-sentience by bare assertion). "

Appeal to ignorance. Just because you are ignorant to reasons as to how it could be that change and non-change can occur without sentience, doesn't mean that it couldn't (or most plausibly couldn't). You would have to deductivey show that it couldn't, to show that your option is the most plausible. No matter where you go in this maze of yours, you cannot escape your burden of proof.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"Again I'm not arguing from what I don't know I'm appealing to causes known to exist."

This assumes that the cause of the universe most plausibly adheres to what humans know exist. However, everthing we know exists does so within space-time, and we are talking about a cause beyond space-time. If anything is embarrassing, its your reasoning.

"And in fact an immaterial spaceless will is what we're MOST acquainted with in everyday experience!"

Not a timeless or changeless will however. Also, the mind is not some immaterial object, it is just a function of a working physical brain. It does not take up space, but is still is dependent upon that which takes up space (a brain). This means that it is not truly spaceless or timeless via causal dependency. It something is dependent upon space and time, then they cannot be fully timeless and spaceless. Simply being able to conceive of a mind that is not dependent on a brain does not make it plausible. Why should we rule out the option that all minds are probably depend on brains? If you want to go with "what we know" so much, why not be consistent and lets make a prima facie case here? It certainly seems that minds are being dependent on brains is plausible from a scientific standpoint. Without need to simply imagine it.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Typhlochactas 4 years ago
Typhlochactas
ApeironIllegalcombatantTied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by Sola.Gratia 4 years ago
Sola.Gratia
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's case seemed highly reasonable given the truth of the KCA. A personal mind simply cashes out deductively and I'm surprised that there were actually 4 independent arguments to back this up! ... Con on the other hand contradicted himself, and never met his burden of proof, not even once, he simply just played the typical atheist card of, "the burden is all on you" even though he was advancing another alternative out of the dilemma Pro spoke of! Thus Pro is awarded for arguments.
Vote Placed by Nur-Ab-Sal 4 years ago
Nur-Ab-Sal
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Reasons for voting decision: Well, this was a pretty straightforward vote for me. Pro's opening was extremely direct in arguing that the KCA's conclusion leads to a personal Creator. Most of Con's points were irrelevant (i.e. 'religious ignorance') or unjustifiable (physicalism). Pro's case was never deconstructed by Con, who (I got the impression) was still under an 'explanatory' mindset -- i.e. which of these is the best out of an array of explanations, rather than under a 'demonstrative' mindset -- i.e., given these premises, this conclusion has to be the case. I'm pretty sure this is the reason Con never quite attacked Pro's arguments, but used trivial nonsense like 'religion is primitive.' Arguments to Pro.
Vote Placed by wolfman4711 4 years ago
wolfman4711
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Reasons for voting decision: Cons response were good but he dropped arguments after he realized his opponents were better. I also didn't like the way con responded on third round about intelligent design. Though this was a very good debate and enjoyed reading it.
Vote Placed by AnthraSight 4 years ago
AnthraSight
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Reasons for voting decision: I've always wondered about the gap of inferring a personal being from the cause of the universe. Con brought up some good points but Pro's case was stronger because it was more modest, and therefore easier to defend. Convincing arguments go to Pro because not only did Con drop arguments and failed to meet his burden, but also wasn't convincing in making Pro's 4 arguments less obvious. Sourcing also to Pro since he cited more and with greater quality.
Vote Placed by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro and Con were talking past each other by using "natural" in different ways. Pro meant "non-personal," whereas Con mistook him to mean "part of the physical world." It would've been a strawman if that's what Pro meant. At first, I thought the fine-tuning argument was irrelevant because we were trying to figure out if the cause of the beginning of the universe was personal. Pro convinced me that it was relevant, but I just don't think he had enough room in this debate to launch a strong enough case for intelligent design, and Con did enough to undermine the argument. Ultimately, I gave arguments to Pro for two reasons. First, because of his agent causation argument, which I don't think Con adequately refuted. Second, because of the "no content" argument. It wasn't enough for Con to raise the mere possibility of an impersonal cause, and he needed to give content to the notion of such a cause. Pro at least had "mind." All else were negative properties--immaterial, timeless, etc