The Instigator
Talib.ul-Ilm
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Rational_Thinker9119
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

The Cosmological Argument Is Sound

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Rational_Thinker9119
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/9/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,653 times Debate No: 34624
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (32)
Votes (1)

 

Talib.ul-Ilm

Pro

The debate is about the Cosmological Argument.

Rules
  1. No swearing.
  2. No insult to character.
  3. No insulting God.
  4. No forfeiting.
  5. No special pleading. (An argument in which the speaker deliberately ignores aspects that are unfavorable to their point of view)
  6. Arguments must be organized, and grammar must be good.
Breaking any rule would result in either loss of points or a forfeit, depending upon the severity of the rule broken.

The Cosmological Argument
  1. Premise One: An infinite regression of instances of change in reality is impossible.
  2. Premise Two: Following premise one, there must be a First Principle in reality before any instances of change in reality occurred.
  3. Premise Three: Following premise two, the First Principle of reality must be either be sentient or non-sentient.
  4. Premise Four: The non-sentient First Principle must have been at one point, not causing instances of change in reality, otherwise the fallacy of infinity occurs. A non-sentient First Principle is incapable of willing itself to activation, to causing instances of change in reality. All examples of non-sentient mechanisms in nature show that they simply exist, or are caused to activate, and do not merely activate on their own.
  5. Premise Five: The sentient First Principle is capable of willing instances of change in reality. Only a sentient, self-aware being can imagine a reality outside of the reality that already exists.
  6. Conclusion: Therefore the notion that the First Principle is sentient is more plausible than it being non-sentient.
First Principle: The first initial point in reality before any instances of change in reality occurred.

Change: The instance of becoming different.

Time: The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.

Quantum Mechanics, An Analogy

Imagine if you will, a string that constantly vibrates. The vibrations can not have always been happening, there must have been a point in time that the string was completely still. The only thing that can cause a string to vibrate is something outside of itself.

String: Quantum mechanics, or the non-sentient First Principle.

Conclusion

As I have argued, there cannot be an infinite regression of instances of change in reality. This means we come to the First Principle, the point in time before any change occurred, the moment before time itself began. I have argued that this First Principle must be sentient, it is Con's duty to show me why this First Principle can be non-sentient, and go from being not active, to active, all on it's own without a sentient, self-aware being to will it. He has to give reasoning as to why the natural mechanism went into motion in the first place. Or he must show me as to how it is logical for the non-sentient First Principle to have simply always existed, producing instances of change in reality for an infinite amount of time.

Good luck.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Introduction

I sincerely thank my opponent for starting this debate, as I believe that the cosmological argument is probably one of the theist's stronger arguments. In this debate, I will show why the argument as presented does not establish the conclusion it tries to establish. This result can be achieved by either showing the argument is invalid, or by showing that at least one of the premises has not been justified as true. Note how I do not have to falsify any of the premises; just undermine the premise(s), or the support in question.

Premise 1 of the Cosmological Argument

Pro claims that an infinite regression of instances of change in reality is impossible. However, Pro gave literally no support for this notion. This means, Pro has committed a bare-assertion fallacy[1] in the first round. Since we were left with no reason to believe this premise is actually true; it can be disregarded.

Premise 2 of the Cosmological Argument

My opponent asserts that there must be a First Principle in reality before any instances of change in reality occurred. Once more, we were left with absolutely no reason to believe this First Principle is actually true. For example, Philosopher Quentin Smith argues that it is not true, and that there actually could not be a "First Principle"[2]. This is because the singularity at t=0 as predicted by The Big Bang theory is a mathematically impossible state. This singularity posits density that is some number "n" over zero, and temperature which is some number "n" over zero (which is mathematically impermissible). This means, there would be no first state for God to cause even if we assume a finite amount of years in the past. One could argue that the instant after t=0 would be the first state if we delete t=0, however there is no moment directly after t=0 as there is a real number between any two real numbers. This means that any state you could point to as the "first state" would actually be preceded by another state no matter how small it is (one could keep dividing by halves, never reaching a first state). This means, that according to Quentin Smith's argument, there is no First Principle even if one accepts that the universe is only 13.7 billion years old. This is because the deletion of the singularity at t=0 is logically and mathematically necessary.

The point of mentioning Quentin Smiths argument is to show that it is not at all obvious that there needs to be a First Principle, as many philosophers actually argue against this very notion notion (including Richard Carrier, Wes Morrison ect.). Therefore, Pro has not met his burden of proof in this regard.

Premise 3 of the Cosmological Argument

The argument here is that the First Principle of reality must be either be sentient or non-sentient. The problem here is that the First Principle has not even been established as true in the first place. However, if this First Principle is true, then I would agree that the First Principle must either be sentient or non-sentient. This is self-evidently a true-dichotomy.

Premise 4 of the Cosmological Argument

The idea here is that a non-sentient First Principle is incapable of willing itself to activation, and causing instances of change in reality. Pro claims that all examples of non-sentient mechanisms in nature show that they simply exist, or are caused to activate, and do not merely activate on their own. However, this is the appeal to ignorance logical fallacy[3]. The appeal to ignorance fallacy presented by my opponent follows this formula:

There is no evidence for P.
Therefore, not P.

Just because we have no examples of P, does not mean P cannot be the case. However, Pro is arguing that because we have no examples on non-sentience that acts "on its own" without the need for will, that this cannot be the case. Thus, the fallacy charge by me is justified. However, is it even true that we have no examples of the change in question? I would say, that this is not at all obvious. For example, a nucleus of Uranium-238 could sit there, motionless and unchanging for many years. Then, one day, it decays. Nothing changed in the external environment, so what caused it to suddenly decay after all of that time? Nothing, as the environments have been tested time and time again with no sufficient cause found where there should be; making the event in question spontaneous[4] according to the most adhered to views involving Quantum Physics. This means, that according to the most widely held interpretations of Quantum Mechanics (indeterministic interpretations), we have examples counter to Pro in which events occur spontaneously without a sufficient cause, and without need for sentience. This propery undermines Pro's argument here even further.

Premise 5 of the Cosmological Argument

My opponent says that the sentient First Principle is capable of willing instances of change in reality. Only a sentient, self-aware being can imagine a reality outside of the reality that already exists. I would agree that only sentient self-aware beings can imagine a reality outside of the reality that already exists. However, Pro gave no good reason to think that "will" or "imagination" is required to explain anything relevant here. Thus, this premise from Pro is rather trivial.

Conclusion of the Cosmological Argument

This conclusion is based on the assumption that the premises have been justified properly. Since I have shown this is not the case; this conclusion is rather meaningless to say the least.

Pro's Analogy Pertaining to Quantum Mechanics

This is just a re-hashing of the First Principle argument. However, it seems as if my opponent is describing String Theory more than Quantum Mechanics. Regardless, if there must be a first "vibration" (which is a process) then I would argue that God requires a first "thought" (as a "thought" by definition is a mental process/ activity)[5]. This would mean God's mind must have began based off of the same logic. If Pro tries to claim this rule only applies to the universe without warrant, then the special pleading fallacy[6] will have been committed.

Conclusion

Pro failed to meet his burden of proof, as his claims either either unjustified or flat out false. Since the burden of proof is on Pro to show that this argument succeeds, as it stands, the resolution has clearly been negated.

Sources

[1] http://fallacies.findthedata.org...
[2] http://www.infidels.org...
[3] http://www.fallacyfiles.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[6] http://www.nizkor.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Talib.ul-Ilm

Pro

I apologize for the delay. I have personal things going on in my life that have kept me from this debate, which will probably be my last.


Premise One

I had assumed Con was already upon this understanding, I guess I was wrong. It's hardly a fallacy either, as the argument above is a summary, and far from a complete exposition of it. Things will naturally have to be explained.

Infinity cannot exist because you would never get to the beginning. Imagine if you will an infinite past of many different universes. Right now, lets say that the universe we exist in is universe D. What universe was the first universe? You would think A, but no, there are an infinite amount of universes, so we would say A, and then go to Z, Y, X, W and so on till you read A once again, only to continue, for infinity.

Premise Two

Con would like to think that there can be no state before the big bang, but this is far from the truth. The metaphysical can exist before the Big Bang, such as quantum mechanics or God. The singularity had to have been caused by something or it has always existed. If it has always existed, then there would have to be an infinite regression of Big Bangs and Big Crunches. But because that is impossible as I have shown you, there must be something metaphysical as the First Principle.

So lets trace through the regression of Big Bangs and Big Crunches, till we find that first point in reality, be it physical or metaphysical. This is what the debate is about. I say that there must be something metaphysical that is the foundation of the physical singularity. And it has to be either non-sentient or sentient.

William Lane Craig has also spoken more in-depth about Quentin Smith's argument here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org...

Premise Three

As I said earlier in this round, the formula for my argument is a summary, and nowhere near a complete exposition, so there is true-dichotomy.

Premise Four

There is no appeal to ignorance. What I cited there is evidence against a non-sentient First Principle, not the lack of evidence.

"The non-sentient First Principle must have been at one point, not causing instances of change in reality, otherwise the fallacy of infinity occurs. A non-sentient First Principle is incapable of willing itself to activation, to causing instances of change in reality. All examples of non-sentient mechanisms in nature show that they simply exist, or are caused to activate, and do not merely activate on their own."

As you can see here, there is a context, and Con is taking what I said out of context. In the beginning, the First Principle had to have been not in motion. So it had to activate, go into motion. After that I said that there are no examples of natural non-sentient mechanisms being able to do this, and that they are always caused to activate or that they simply are. I am not simply saying that there is no example of a natural non-sentient mechanism causing itself to go into motion, I am saying it is illogical, it can't be.

Con wants to bring up the Uranium bit, but this example is about the Uranium decaying, and not coming into existence on its own. There is a big difference. This is also an element, I'm not talking about elements but natural laws, mechanics, things that are not observable.

Premise Five

The sentient being having the ability to imagine a reality outside of its own is just an example alongside of the ability to will.

Will is relevant because before anything was in motion, before any instances of change in reality, there was none. This includes the metaphysical workings of reality as well. I believe it would take a will in order for all of this motion to happen in the first place.

Miscellaneous

Con's argument for God needing a first thought is as ridiculous as the question of: Who created God? It's irrelevant. God has always been, God is purest form of reality. And a mind is still a mind, so God would still be self-aware of His existence even if there was required a first thought. So His self-awareness is the first initial point in reality.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Introduction

I thank Pro for his last response. However, it is not difficult to point out why my opponent's entire case is utterly meaningless.

Premise 1 of the Cosmological Argument

Pro claims that infinity cannot exist because "you would never get to the beginning". However, this is exactly what an infinite past posits in the first place; no beginning point. Just reiterating what an infinite past posits is not an argument against an infinite past. Therefore, my opponent's argument that an infinite past is impossible is a non-sequitur[1], as the conclusion does not follow. My opponent is also committing the fallacy of presumption[2] by just presuming that the universe must have had a first state without sufficient justification.

Additionally, there is nothing logically impossible about infinity. Contemporary Set-Theory (invented by Georg Cantor) makes use of an infinite set mathematically in a completely coherent fashion[3], and Set Theory is widely accepted by mathematicians. In Set Theory, there can be a sequence of infinite discrete ordered sets; each one with a greatest but no smallest member. Each set would actually extend its predecessor by an additional largest element. Therefore, not only do we have no basis for the claim that infinity is impossible, we actually have a good mathematical basis for the claim that it is indeed possible.

Premise 2 of the Cosmological Argument

My opponent starts off here with a straw-man[4] logical fallacy. Pro claims that I would "like to believe" that there could be no state before The Big Bang. However, that is not the argument. Quentin Smith argues that if you delete the singularity at t=0, then there is no moment directly after it as any moment you can point to would be preceded by another point no matter how small (every real number is in between two real numbers). Since Pro has misrepresented the argument at hand; it stands firmly unscathed. Not only has Pro not defended the First Principle, but Quentin Smith's argument does of good job of showing that it is in no way required. Pro then commits the red-herring[5] logical fallacy by arguing that the singularity had to have been caused by something or it has always existed. However, Quentin argues that there was never a singularity to begin with, because a singularity prediction posits a state which is mathematically impermissible (temperature = some number "n" over zero, and density = some number "n" over zero). Pro never addressed this part of my argument. Thus, it stands.

Now, as far as the Reasonable Faith link from Pro which supposedly addresses Quentin Smith's argument; Pro should be extremely embarrassed. The argument William Lane Craig is addressing is Quentin Smith's "A Big Bang Cosmological Argument For God's Nonexistence (1992)"[6]. The argument I am proposing is Quentin Smith's "A Cosmological Argument for a Self-Caused Universe (2008)"[7]. These two arguments are completely different. Thus, Pro's link has no bearing on the argument from Quentin Smith I put forward. I would even argue that a relevant Reasonable Faith link, by itself with no argument, would have no bearing on Quentin Smith's argument as I presented it regardless.

Premise 3 of the Cosmological Argument

I agree that if there is truth to this Firth Principle, then the dichotomy in question is a true-dichotomy. The problem still remains that Pro has left us with no reason to believe this First Principle is true.

Premise 4 of the Cosmological Argument

My opponent denies the appeal to ignorance[8] charge, but the charge is justified and it stands. My opponent's exact words used to support this particular notion were:

"All examples of non-sentient mechanisms in nature show that they simply exist, or are caused to activate, and do not merely activate on their own" - Pro

However, even if we have no examples of non-sentient mechanisms that activate on their own, that does not mean that they cannot exist. This is self-evidently a fallacious appeal to ignorance, and I urge a conduct vote against Pro for his apparent intellectually dishonesty. Regardless, I appealed to indeterministic interpretations of Quantum Mechanics, and gave an example (Uranium-238) of a non-sentient mechanism which changes (decays) on its own. Pro then commits the shifting the goal post fallacy[9] by saying that Uranium-238 does not involve something coming into existence on its own. However, this is not what we are arguing. We are arguing whether something non-sentient can act on its own or not; I gave good reasons to believe it can. Thus, even if there is truth to this first principle, we are left with no reason to believe the First Principle has to be sentient.

Premise 5 of the Cosmological Argument

Pro gives no reason as to why we should believe that a "will" is necessary to explain the universe, and just presupposes this truth without warrant. Thus, this section from Pro can be dismissed.

Pro's Analogy Pertaining to Quantum Mechanics

Here Pro breaks his own rule by committing the special-pleading[10] logical fallacy. This is evident by the fact that Pro assumes that it is possible for God can have an eternal mind (which would be en eternal process of mental activity), but the universe cannot be eternal and engaged in an eternal process. This is clearly a fallacious double-standard.

Conclusion

.
Pro has failed to support any of his assertions

. All of Pro's assertions are tied together fallaciously

. Pro engaged in misconduct by:

(i) Being intellectually dishonest with regards to the self-evidently warranted appeal to ignorance charge

(ii) Breaking his own "no special-pleading" rule

I have clearly met my burden of proof, and Pro clearly has not met his. As it stands, the resolution has been negated.

Sources

[1] http://rationalwiki.org...
[2] http://www.philosophypages.com...
[3] http://www.math.ku.edu...
[4] http://www.nizkor.org...;
[5] http://www.nizkor.org...;
[6] http://www.infidels.org...;
[7] http://www.infidels.org...;
[8] http://www.fallacyfiles.org...;
[9] http://www.logicallyfallacious.com...;
[10] http://www.nizkor.org...;
Debate Round No. 2
Talib.ul-Ilm

Pro

Talib.ul-Ilm forfeited this round.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

I will forfeit this round as well, just to even it up. I still want to give Pro a chance to prove his case.
Debate Round No. 3
Talib.ul-Ilm

Pro

Talib.ul-Ilm forfeited this round.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

I will forfeit this round as well, just to even it up. I still want to give Pro one more chance to prove his case.
Debate Round No. 4
Talib.ul-Ilm

Pro

Talib.ul-Ilm forfeited this round.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

It seems as if my opponent has forfeited the debate. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 5
32 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
@Fanboy, he was doing horrible. He would have lost for sure even without the forfeit.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Why is your brain throbbing FrackJack?
Posted by FrackJack 3 years ago
FrackJack
My brain is throbbing.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Thank you :)
Posted by Carnuntum 3 years ago
Carnuntum
Incredible rebuttal Rational_Thinker!
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
I repeating the word "either" twice at the end, oh well ha
Posted by Talib.ul-Ilm 3 years ago
Talib.ul-Ilm
Bizarre is over exaggerating. Uncommon, sure.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
You are going to get a real debate this time my friend.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
I think talib.ul-Ilm has realized that I am not crazy, and that most everyone else found his rules bizarre as well. Since he has changed them, I am going to accept this debate as the terms are more than reasonable now.
Posted by Talib.ul-Ilm 3 years ago
Talib.ul-Ilm
Bladerunner, you must have ignored my reasoning as to why the burden of proof is shared.

Here. I'll change it up for you.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Fanboy 3 years ago
Fanboy
Talib.ul-IlmRational_Thinker9119Tied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: FF, sad because he was doing relatively well.