The Instigator
extian
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Yarn
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

The Cosmological Argument for God is a bad argument and people need to stop using it

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/3/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 961 times Debate No: 95175
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (12)
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extian

Pro

I used to believe in God, and one of the last arguments that kept me in theism was the Cosmological Argument. There are a couple of versions of this argument, but the most popular one is the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It goes as follows:

Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
Premise 2: The Universe began to exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, the Universe had a cause.

The argument is valid, but I now realize it is not sound. The first premise can be rejected because we can find evidence that contradicts it, most notably in quantum mechanics. The second premise can be rejected because we cannot say that the Universe had a beginning - theories like the Big Bang only explain the origin of the observable universe, not everything that exists. Furthermore, even if we grant the first two premises, the conclusion only gets you to a First Cause. There is no reason to think this First Cause is God - it only has to be "something" capable of creating a universe. The universe could be a part of a multiverse with an infinite stream of baby universes birthed out of each other. Who knows?

For these reasons, the Cosmological Argument is a poor argument for the existence of God and should not be used by anyone wanting a rational debate. There are many mysteries surrounding the origins of the Universe, and many theists exploit our lack of understanding to smuggle in a god concept without demonstrating the existence of the god first. The Cosmological Argument is basically a giant Argument from Ignorance fallacy and needs to be discarded.
Yarn

Con

Hello, my gracious opponent. Thank you for putting forth your proposition I will now endeavour to answer it.

First let me start off by saying I have no bias for or against the cosmological argument, in that, if you could persuade me to think it was not a good argument to use in a debate I would happily accept that conclusion, however I am currently of the opinion that you are wrong.

I will remind the reader that we are not arguing whether or not the cosmological argument is right or wrong, just whether or not it is a bad argument, and therefore, should not be used in a debate concerning the existence of God.

First I'll address my opponents points:

Definition of Argument in Question:

Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
Premise 2: The Universe began to exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, the Universe had a cause.

My opponent's first point:

"The argument is valid, but I now realize it is not sound. The first premise can be rejected because we can find evidence that contradicts it, most notably in quantum mechanics. "

My reply:

This implies that we are debating whether or not the argument is correct, which we are not. Just whether or not it has enough merit to be used, for which I posit that the argument only has to be possible, not absolutely correct, since a debate by its very nature is over an issue that is not resolved. You even admitted that the argument was valid as your very first statement.

If you are saying the argument is invalidated by quantum mechanics, and therefor can no longer be used, that means quantum mechanics must definitely and provably contradict the cosmological argument, not merely only make it a possibility. In which case I and the readers await your presentation of the evidence from quantum mechanics.

My opponent's second point:

"The second premise can be rejected because we cannot say that the Universe had a beginning - theories like the Big Bang only explain the origin of the observable universe, not everything that exists. Furthermore, even if we grant the first two premises, the conclusion only gets you to a First Cause. There is no reason to think this First Cause is God - it only has to be "something" capable of creating a universe. The universe could be a part of a multiverse with an infinite stream of baby universes birthed out of each other. Who knows?"

My reply:

The weakness in your premise here is that the 'something' capable of creating the universe would have to have many, if not all, of the attributes of God, to the point where it would be a moot point whether or not you called it God or not. If it caused everything, then all power would have to be from it, by necessity, all that is comes from that which is, all that is contains all power, that which caused all power, has all power. And of course you could make the same argument for knowledge, etc. until you had a definition of God.

William Lane Craig makes this exact argument, and rather better than I could.

As to the first point, the weakness or strength of the Big Bang, I think that is your better argument, or at least it would be if you could prove that we lacked evidence for the universe, and all that is, having a beginning. If you could prove that the universe did not have a beginning, or something to that effect, then you would in fact prove the cosmological argument to be a bad argument, and therefore not good enough to be used in a debate.

My points:

I will now lay out my argument as for why the cosmological argument is valid and permissible in debates concerning the existence of God.

While not a perfect argument because it does not completely conclude beyond a shadow of a doubt in the mind that there must needs be a God, the argument still points evidentially towards the possibility that there is a God, and therefore is a valid argument in supporting such a hypothesis in a debate, and certainly not worth being discarded by debaters.

My second point, is that my opponent is making an emotional argument. Having agreed that the cosmological argument was valid, but in their opinion, flawed, does not make it so flawed that it has no merit, so that it should be discarded in a debate by all parties. If the argument was so flawed, it would be less likely to be used for as long, and in as many debates as it has over the existence of God. It is a staple argument, I would argue, and one that has even elicited much thought even among its opponents.

Which leads me to my last point. It is a good debate rhetoric. I think I have proven in my response and opening arguments here, that the cosmological argument is good enough to at least get people to think, even if they disagree, and to elicit conversation, as evidenced even by this very debate itself. This debate is almost self-refuting in that we are both arguing about the cosmological argument itself, which would not itself be a debate unless the cosmological argument has rhetorical merit, which I argue it does. And because it does, it should not be discarded in debates concerning the existence of God.
Debate Round No. 1
extian

Pro

Thank you to my opponent for taking up my challenge. I look forward to a good debate.

Before I address my opponent's rebuttals, I feel that some minor clarification is in order to clear up some confusion, which is probably my fault. My assertion that the Cosmological Argument should not be used was not in reference to any sort of formal debate protocol (i.e., Debate Police forbidding the use of the argument). My opinion is that the argument fails, for the reasons I've presented. Thus, for anyone wishing to successfully argue in favor of the existence of God, the Cosmological Argument would not be the recommended option. I said the argument is valid, meaning the conclusion flows logically from the premises; however, the premises are flawed, meaning the argument is unsound and not persuasive. So in essence, yes - we are actually debating the merits of the argument.

My opponent said:

"If you are saying the argument is invalidated by quantum mechanics, and therefore can no longer be used, that means quantum mechanics must definitely and provably contradict the cosmological argument, not merely only make it a possibility. In which case I and the readers await your presentation of the evidence from quantum mechanics."

I only need to show that the premises are contradicted. The first premise - "Whatever begins to exist has a cause" - is not true in the case of quantum fluctuations, or vacuum fluctuations, which are probabilistic energy changes that allow for particle-antiparticle pairs of virtual particles to appear out of nothing - without any cause. This has been known for almost a century to be a result of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which basically outlines how uncertainty is intrinsic to space-time (https://en.wikipedia.org...). Indeed, it may well have been the mechanism by which the Universe was formed, though that's still in dispute. The point is, at sub-atomic scales, uncaused things happen all the time; thus, the first premise fails.

My opponent's statement,

"...the 'something' capable of creating the universe would have to have many, if not all, of the attributes of God..."

cannot be justified unless you:

1. Define the particular deity we're talking about (the argument assumes one of the classical monotheistic traditions, but I could be wrong about which god my opponent is referring to)
2. Explain how one can determine the attributes of this deity. For this particular argument, the only attribute in question is the ability to create a universe. There's no reason for this 'something' to have any other attributes at all. For all we know, the Universe could have been created by universe-creating fairies who exist outside of space and time.

My opponent said:

"...If it caused everything, then all power would have to be from it.."

However, this ignores what I said about the second premise. There is a bit of an equivocation fallacy regarding the word "Universe" in the Cosmological Argument. As I mentioned, our scientific understanding of the cosmos is limited to the observed universe. Therefore, we are not at liberty to say anything about the origins of everything that exists. I don't need to prove that everything (as opposed to the observable universe) did not have a cause; I only need to point out that we cannot say that everything (all of existence) necessarily did have a cause or began to exist - we simply don't know enough about everything to make the claim because all of our experience with cause and effect is limited to the observable universe.

And even when using both usages of the word "Universe", the second premise doesn't work. If we interpret the word to mean "all that exists", we can't scientifically say whether it does or does not have a cause (and if it's really "all that exists", wouldn't that include God, too?). If we limit the meaning to just the observable universe, the First Cause would only need to be powerful enough to create all that we can observe. Very powerful, yes - but all-powerful, as described by classical monotheism? Not necessarily.

"...the argument still points evidentially towards the possibility that there is a God."

It also points equally as evidentially towards the possibility that there are universe-creating fairies. Or that we are a simulation in an advanced supercomputer from the future. The fact that the argument can be used for anything defined as a necessary cause of the universe means it is a poor argument to use to argue for the existence of God.

"...my opponent is making an emotional argument..."

I fail to see how emotions have anything to do with my argument. My point is that Cosmological Argument fails on both premises, making it unsound and without merit. The structural validity of the argument is virtually meaningless if it is not sound. I could give an argument like this:

Premise 1: All dogs are from Jupiter.
Premise 2: I have a dog.
Conclusion: My dog is from Jupiter.

This is a perfectly valid argument, but the opening premise is so flawed that the argument would be useless in proving that my dog is from Jupiter. The Cosmological Argument suffers from two flawed premises, but it takes advantage of confusion around the word "Universe" and a lack of understanding of physics to seem sound (there are several other problems we might get to eventually). A bad argument is a bad argument - it doesn't matter how many people have used it or for how long. Theists don't do themselves any favors by continuing to use it.
Yarn

Con

For this round I will be addressing my opponents points:

"Before I address my opponent's rebuttals, I feel that some minor clarification is in order to clear up some confusion, which is probably my fault. My assertion that the Cosmological Argument should not be used was not in reference to any sort of formal debate protocol (i.e., Debate Police forbidding the use of the argument). My opinion is that the argument fails, for the reasons I've presented. "

If the cosmological argument is being used concerning the existence of God, it is by necessity in the context of a debate as to whether or not God exists, therefore I feel my phrasing is appropriate. Whether or not the debate is formal, or between two friends is none of my concern. My opponent is trying to re-frame the premise of the debate, remember reader, that we are not arguing whether the cosmological argument is right or wrong, just whether or not it has no merit in a debate concerning the existence of God, and therefore should not be used.

"'Whatever begins to exist has a cause' - is not true in the case of quantum fluctuations, or vacuum fluctuations, which are probabilistic energy changes that allow for particle-antiparticle pairs of virtual particles to appear out of nothing - without any cause. Indeed, it may well have been the mechanism by which the Universe was formed, though that's still in dispute."

Since the cosmological argument is reliant on arguments concerning the beginning of the universe, if the argument in question that you have put forth is 'still in dispute', then that means it does not invalidate the cosmological argument, which also is being disputed.

As far as I can tell, this argument does not sufficiently answer why these quantum fluctuations and other phenomenon exist in the first place. The cosmological argument seems to expect the participant to push back the question as far as it will go, making it a useful rhetoric to use in a debate concerning the existence of God.

"My opponent's statement, '...the "something" capable of creating the universe would have to have many, if not all, of the attributes of God...' cannot be justified unless you:

1. Define the particular deity we're talking about...[.]
2. Explain how one can determine the attributes of this deity...[.]"


This is exactly right. And if we were debating the existence of God, we would do just that. As long as it is possible to define the deity being argued for, and arrive at a list of the diety's attributes, then this argument put forth by my opponent in no way discards the cosmological argument from a debate concerning the existence of God, which he himself admits here.

However, we are debating whether or not the cosmological argument should or should not be used concerning the existence of God. So to define God and start debating as though we were arguing whether or not the cosmological argument were true, would be to re-frame this debate.

"However, this ignores [...] I don't need to prove that everything (as opposed to the observable universe) did not have a cause; I only need to point out that we cannot say that everything (all of existence) necessarily did have a cause or began to exist - we simply don't know enough about everything to make the claim because all of our experience with cause and effect is limited to the observable universe."

It is my opinion that this invalidates the argument that the cosmological argument is so flawed that it should be discarded. Remember, this would only make it a possibility that the argument was wrong, since this statement itself is only a possibility. If anything this strengthens my argument that the cosmological argument is still worthy of keeping in a debate concerning the existence of God.

"And even when using both usages of the word "Universe", the second premise doesn't work. If we interpret the word to mean 'all that exists', we can't scientifically say whether it does or does not have a cause (and if it's really "all that exists", wouldn't that include God, too?). If we limit the meaning to just the observable universe, the First Cause would only need to be powerful enough to create all that we can observe. Very powerful, yes - but all-powerful, as described by classical monotheism? Not necessarily. "

Again, I'm not here to support the correctness or the incorrectness of the cosmological argument, just whether or not it is so flawed a rhetoric that it must be discarded as a support concerning the existing of God. The fact that it has caused so much thought in you, my opponent, and that you can argue against it but not perfectly, causes me to believe it is a perfectly valid, and thought provoking argument.

What's more, the reader has likely noticed that my opponent's arguments against the cosmological argument include phases like 'not necessarily' and 'still in dispute', and do not as yet exclude the cosmological argument from possibly being valid. So it leads me to believe that it is not a worthy argument in favor of discarding the cosmological argument altogether.

"[Myself] '...the argument still points evidentially towards the possibility that there is a God.'

[Pro Rebuts] It also points equally as evidentially towards the possibility that there are universe-creating fairies. [...]"


That's none of our concern in this debate. It also supports evidentially, as you pointed out through agreement with my statement, that there is a possibility of a God, making the cosmological argument a supportive, and rhetorically useful argument in a debate concerning the existence of God.

Closing statement for this round:

I believe that my opponent has offered nothing here towards discarding the cosmological argument from being useful or valid as an argument or supporting argument for the existence of God. I am not convinced, nor do I think the reader will feel convinced, that the cosmological argument is no longer worth being included in such a debate.

I feel my opponent will continue trying to argue for or against the correctness of the cosmological argument for the existence of God and remind the reader that that is not what is being argued here, but rather whether or not the argument should still be used in support of the existence of God.
Debate Round No. 2
extian

Pro

My opponent has accused me multiple times of re-framing the premise of the debate, but I have been consistent in my challenge. It is my contention that the Cosmological Argument is a bad argument - meaning unsound, weak, unsupported - and if one is trying to argue in favor of the existence of God in a debate, the argument is unhelpful and should not be used. I see no other way to counter my contention than to evaluate the merits of the Cosmological Argument itself to determine whether or not it is indeed a poor argument. My opponent is trying to separate the issue of the worthiness of the Cosmological Argument in a debate about God's existence from the issue of the strength or weakness of the argument itself - but the latter issue is supremely relevant in the context of that debate. You cannot claim that the Cosmological Argument is "useful or valid as an argument or supporting argument for the existence of God" without fully dealing with the flaws of the argument itself, which my opponent has not done. The topic of my debate has not been re-framed, but is, at its core, about whether or not the argument is a good argument - meaning logically sound and well-supported. To demonstrate that the Cosmological Argument is a good argument to use in a debate, my opponent must demonstrate that the argument is sound, not just valid. As much as my opponent may wish, s/he cannot avoid defending the argument.

On to my opponent's counter-rebuttals....

"Since the cosmological argument is reliant on arguments concerning the beginning of the universe, if the argument in question that you have put forth is 'still in dispute', then that means it does not invalidate the cosmological argument, which also is being disputed."

My opponent has misread my sentence. I only said that quantum fluctuations as a proposed mechanism that created the Universe was in dispute. The phenomenon of quantum fluctuations itself is not in dispute and has been thoroughly studied for a century, as I mentioned. Their uncaused existence is a result of the intrinsic uncertainty of the universe. The question of "why" they exist is irrelevant, as I only need to show that uncaused things can exist, contradicting the first premise of the Cosmological Argument.

"And if we were debating the existence of God, we would do just that. As long as it is possible to define the deity being argued for, and arrive at a list of the deity's attributes, then this argument put forth by my opponent in no way discards the cosmological argument from a debate concerning the existence of God, which he himself admits here."

Once again, my contention - that the Cosmological Argument is a poor argument - is directly related to the merits of the argument itself, which cannot be evaluated or defended without, among other things, defining the deity whose existence the argument is being used to support. Defining the deity and determining its attributes help clarity in a debate, but do nothing to improve the faults of the argument. If my opponent still believes the Cosmological Argument is not a bad argument to use then the argument itself must be defended.

"Remember, [our lack of certainty about whether the universe began to exist] would only make it a possibility that the argument was wrong, since this statement itself is only a possibility."

My opponent fails to understand that the second premise of the Cosmological Argument - "The Universe began to exist" - is presented as a true statement. I do not need to prove that this premise is false - I only need to show that it is not true, and that is accomplished by simply pointing out that we do not know enough about reality outside of our observed universe. Therefore, the premise "The Universe began to exist" is not true and the argument fails - another reason to discard it.

"Again, I'm not here to support the correctness or the incorrectness of the cosmological argument, just whether or not it is so flawed a rhetoric that it must be discarded as a support concerning the existing of God."

And again, my opponent does not understand that defending the correctness of the Cosmological Argument is precisely what s/he must do to show that it is a worthy argument to use to support the existence of God. Why would a theist want to use a bad argument to support his/her view? And how would you know that the Cosmological Argument isn't such a bad argument without evaluating whether it is sound and correct?

"What's more, the reader has likely noticed that my opponent's arguments against the cosmological argument include phases like 'not necessarily' and 'still in dispute', and do not as yet exclude the cosmological argument from possibly being valid."

It would be helpful if my opponent would put those phrases in their proper context. I've already addressed what I meant by "still in dispute." I used the phrase "not necessarily" in reference to a sufficient cause of the Universe that had only enough power to create a universe but "not necessarily" enough to be considered all-powerful, not to mention omniscient, purposeful, concerned with its creation, etc. - all the attributes commonly associated with classical monotheism. Basically, even if I grant that the premises are true (which they are not), they still require additional arguments to point to a god. This is a clear sign of a weak argument.

I feel that there is a larger misunderstanding on the part of my opponent regarding the word "valid." Throughout this debate, I have only used this term in the formal sense - meaning structural validity. This means that if the premises are true then the conclusion must necessarily follow. When my opponent makes statements like "phases [sic] like 'not necessarily' and 'still in dispute'...do not as yet exclude the cosmological argument from possibly being valid," it makes me suspect that s/he is not using the term "valid" in the formal sense.

I conceded in my opening remarks that the Cosmological Argument is a valid (structurally valid) argument. However, this is not enough to be considered a good argument for the existence of God. The argument must also be sound, meaning that, in addition to structural validity, the argument's premises are also actually true, not possibly true. That's why I brought up the "Dogs from Jupiter" argument as an example. If it is true that all dogs are from Jupiter, and if it is true that I have a dog, then it must necessarily be concluded that my dog is from Jupiter. This is a valid argument - a structurally valid argument. However, it wouldn't take much effort to show that the first premise is not actually true, meaning the argument is not sound. Thus, in a debate about the origins of dogs, the "Dogs from Jupiter" argument would be a poor argument to use. The Cosmological Argument suffers similar flaws. I do not care that the argument is structurally valid - I only care if the premises have been demonstrated to be true, which they have not, meaning that the argument fails and should be discarded.

"That's none of our concern in this debate. It also supports evidentially, as you pointed out through agreement with my statement, that there is a possibility of a God, making the cosmological argument a supportive, and rhetorically useful argument in a debate concerning the existence of God."

No, this is actually a serious problem for the theist. If one uses an argument to support the existence of one particular entity, but that argument can also be used just as easily to support the existence of anything else that one can imagine might share a particular attribute with the first entity (the ability to create a universe, in this case), then the argument loses its explanatory power. The implicit goal of the Cosmological Argument is to present God as a necessary being, not merely a possible being, and it fails in doing so.

Again, I would invite my opponent to defend the Cosmological Argument itself if s/he wishes to argue that it is a worthy argument.
Yarn

Con

I would like to start off by once again thanking my worthy opponent for his continued participation in our debate.

"To demonstrate that the Cosmological Argument is a good argument to use in a debate, my opponent must demonstrate that the argument is sound, not just valid. As much as my opponent may wish, s/he cannot avoid defending the argument."

I only have to defend the argument's usefulness under the premise of the debate.

Let the reader stop and contemplate for a moment what is being argued here.

The following is the debate premise:

The Cosmological Argument for God is a bad argument and people need to stop using it.

My opponent and I are essentially debating on what makes an argument good, or bad, to the point of becoming so without merit, that people should stop using it.

I contest that in order for this to happen the argument would have to be:

1. Provably wrong, or wrong enough so as to render the argument absurd, and also:

2. Without any merit as a rhetorical device - that the argument serves no other purpose that is useful to a debate, for example if it does not provoke thought, does not provoke questions or discussion, adds no value to a debate, and therefore necessitates that it should be discarded.

I am arguing that the cosmological argument is still useful in a debate concerning the existence of God, and is not without so much value as to be discarded.

My points are:

1. That the cosmological argument need not be right, only possible enough to be thought-provoking, and not disprovable, to be used as an argument in support of the existence of God.

2. That the cosmological argument, as a rhetorical device, is in fact useful enough at provoking thought, discussion, and guiding debate, to give it enough merit that it should not be discarded.

If my opponent is willing to debate me on the premise of this debate I think the reader will find the Con position, that the cosmological argument for God is useful enough that people do not need to stop using it, will be evident as the correct resolution of this debate.

My opponent is relying on the re-framing of the debate, and the re-framing of even our understanding of the beginning of the universe, which is a different debate in and of itself.

I'm sure the reader has noticed that my opponent has to use a different frame of reference for the beginning of the universe than the conventional accepted theory of the Big Bang, and has been using his own personal definition of the 'universe' to include only what he deems as helpful to his argument.

My opponent and I are not here to debate whether or not God exists, and we are not even debating whether or not the cosmological argument is absolutely correct, let alone the big bang theory, or his personal definition of the universe. I think the reader is intelligent enough, after reading the premise of this debate, to see through the re-framing of this argument.

"My opponent has misread my sentence. I only said that quantum fluctuations as a proposed mechanism that created the Universe was in dispute."

That is what I understood the sentence to mean as evidenced by my opening statement: "Since the cosmological argument is reliant on arguments concerning the beginning of the universe.."

I am not disputing the existence of quantum fluctuations, only pointing out what you yourself have said, that it is in dispute as a mechanism for the cause of the universe, and since the cosmological argument is also in dispute as to the cause of the universe, its value is not negated by the argument from quantum fluctuations.

"[T]he merits of the [cosmological argument] cannot be evaluated or defended without [...] defining the deity whose existence the argument is being used to support."

The reader can plainly see that the opponent is trying to force the debate of whether or not God exists which this debate is not. If my opponent would like to have that particular debate I would be open to accepting the challenge provided that we finish this debate first.

However, I cannot promise that I would use the cosmological argument.

"'The Universe began to exist' - is presented as a true statement. I do not need to prove that this premise is false - I only need to show that it is not true, [...]

If it is not true, then what is it? False.

My opponent is playing word games, both claiming that he has proven the said premise is not true", and claiming that he is not saying it is false, at the same time.

What he's really saying, the reader can easily see, is that he does not know if it is false, but thinks it is probably false. He's all but admitting that the argument is up for debate, and that is precisely the point of the present debate, whether or not the cosmological argument is valid to be used in a debate concerning the existence of God.

1 Seen only in the full quote.

"It would be helpful if my opponent would put those phrases in their proper context. I've already addressed what I meant by 'still in dispute.'"

The reader will note that I did in fact understand this in it's proper context as answered above.

"Basically, even if I grant that the premises [regarding a cause of the universe having the same attributes as a monotheistic God, including omniscience, omnipotence, etc.] are true [...] they still require additional arguments to point to a god. "

William Lane Craig would argue they do not, I may lean more on your side that they might. But simply not being a perfect argument does not render the cosmological argument as being unsupportive of there being a God. I would imagine that most of the arguments for, and even against God's existence are not perfect, but are still valuable in debate.

"I feel that there is a larger misunderstanding on the part of my opponent regarding the word 'valid.' [Edited for length] When my opponent makes statements like "phases [sic] like 'not necessarily' and 'still in dispute'...do not as yet exclude the cosmological argument from possibly being valid," it makes me suspect that s/he is not using the term "valid" in the formal sense."

The misunderstanding has to do with where my opponent and I are applying the test of validity. My opponent is arguing the validity of the correctness of the cosmological argument, and I am arguing the premise of this debate, the validity of its use in the debate for the existence of God, and for it being valuable enough not to stop using.

"This is a valid argument - a structurally valid argument. However, it wouldn't take much effort to show that the first premise is not actually true." [Referring to his analogy concerning dogs from Jupiter.]

This is the difference between the cosmological argument, and the argument my opponent has set forth as a straw man. While it can be proven beyond a doubt that his made up argument is false, the cosmological argument cannot be proven false in this same way, as we've already seen.

All of the evidence set forth so far against the cosmological argument by my opponent has been in dispute, is debatable, in the same way as the cosmological argument itself, therefore it must be concluded that it is not grounds to discard the cosmological argument from debate.

"If one uses an argument to support the existence of one particular entity, but that argument can also be used just as easily to support the existence of anything else [...] then the argument loses its explanatory power. [...]

Can it be used just as easily to support the existence of anything else? The notion that God is a cause of the universe is much better supported than the notion that it is fairies, as in your first example. This is another straw man.

I replied to much more than this but space restrains me, for this I apologise. I propose we both try to clean up the number of points we make so that we can answer everything in future rounds.
Debate Round No. 3
extian

Pro

In examining the topic of the debate - "The Cosmological Argument for God is a bad argument and people need to stop using it" - my opponent has imposed two conditions, namely that the argument be:

"1. Provably wrong, or wrong enough so as to render the argument absurd, and also:

2. Without any merit as a rhetorical device - that the argument serves no other purpose that is useful to a debate, for example if it does not provoke thought, does not provoke questions or discussion, adds no value to a debate, and therefore necessitates that it should be discarded."

The first condition is an unreasonably high standard to place on any logical argument. The premises of an argument are truth statements meant to support the conclusion. I only need to show that the statements are not true for the argument to fail, and saying the statements are not true is not the same as proving them false or wrong, nor does it need to be. When dealing with the burden of proof in assessing the truth of a premise, the premise must be demonstrated to be true before we accept it. We don't have to prove the premise false. This is an important distinction that I will address in detail later.

The second condition is about the argument's merits as a rhetorical device, and my opponent has listed several qualifiers. The Cosmological Argument is not "useful to a debate" nor does it add value to a debate, because the premises are flawed and the argument fails, as I have shown. The ability to provoke thought, questions, or discussions, is a very subjective qualifier that I must reject. There are a great many fallacious concepts and ideas that have fascinated people and sparked many discussions, but that is irrelevant to the debate. The topic is not "the Cosmological Argument is not a thought-provoking argument," it is "the Cosmological Argument is a bad argument."

"1. ... the cosmological argument need not be right, only possible enough to be thought-provoking, and not disprovable, to be used as an argument in support of the existence of God.

2. ... the cosmological argument, as a rhetorical device, is in fact useful enough at provoking thought, discussion, and guiding debate, to give it enough merit that it should not be discarded."

I disagree with both points. The Cosmological Argument is not used as an abstract thought experiment among disinterested parties; it is presented by dedicated theists as an intellectual underpinning for a foundational belief system. As such, a theist who uses it in a debate would absolutely believe that the Cosmological Argument would have to be right, not merely thought-provoking.

If my opponent's threshold for a good argument is just its ability to provoke thought and discussion, then perhaps my "Dogs from Jupiter" argument should be considered a good argument as well.

"...my opponent has to use a different frame of reference for the beginning of the universe than the conventional accepted theory of the Big Bang, and has been using his own personal definition of the 'universe' to include only what he deems as helpful to his argument."

My language has been entirely consistent with the Big Bang theory, which uses evidence from the observable universe to show how space-time and matter initially developed. The theory makes no proclamations about anything outside of space-time or what caused the Big Bang. It is here that the Cosmological Argument uses an equivocation fallacy to exploit the public's general lack of scientific understanding to imply that "the Universe," in the premise "the Universe began to exist," must mean everything that exists, because that would preclude the possibility of an infinite multiverse or some other state of physical existence that our observed universe resides in (strengthening the case for the necessity of a God). I highlighted the different usages of the terms because the second premise is making a scientific claim, so we must use the most scientifically accurate usage of the term, not the most colloquially accepted. We can say scientifically that the observable universe began to exist, but we can't scientifically say that everything that exists also began to exist (the implicit meaning in the second premise). Yet another reason to discard the Cosmological Argument - it promotes a faulty understanding of science. My opponent could attempt to dispute this if s/he would actually defend the second premise itself.

"...since the cosmological argument is also in dispute as to the cause of the universe..."

I'll admit, I'm not quite sure what my opponent is trying to say here. The premises of the argument are unsupported. Premise 1 says "Whatever begins to exist has a cause," I pointed out quantum fluctuations as a phenomenon that doesn't have a cause, meaning the premise is not true and the argument fails. Failed arguments are bad arguments to use in debates. End of story.

"If it is not true, then what is it? False.

My opponent is playing word games, both claiming that he has proven the said premise is not true", and claiming that he is not saying it is false, at the same time."

There are no word games being played here. My opponent simply does not understand basic logic in regards to truth statements. Put simply - "not true" does not equal "false".

An example: Say I began a logical argument with the premise "I have a red card in my pocket." Is that a true statement? No, because I have done nothing to demonstrate that I have a red card in my pocket, so the statement is not true. But does that mean that the statement is false, meaning its negation - "I do not have a red card in my pocket"? No, you cannot say that either because, again, I have done nothing to demonstrate that I do not have a red card in my pocket. The default position is to say that there is not enough information to say the premise is true or false. An argument is only sound if its premises have been demonstrated to be true, so all I have to do to defeat the argument is show that a premise has not met its burden of proof. "The Universe began to exist" is not a true statement, as I've shown. I'm not required to prove its negation.

"But simply not being a perfect argument does not render the cosmological argument as being unsupportive of there being a God."

We aren't talking about an overall solid argument with a few imperfections - this argument fails on both premises. Failed premises are fatal flaws for the argument - no amount of thought-provoking can change that.

"My opponent is arguing the validity of the correctness of the cosmological argument, and I am arguing the premise of this debate, the validity of its use in the debate for the existence of God, and for it being valuable enough not to stop using."

My opponent has chosen to ignore the lack of soundness of the argument as a disqualifier for its validity (my opponent's definition). If an argument's unsoundness does not prevent one from using it in a debate, then one's standards must be quite low.

"While it can be proven beyond a doubt that his made up argument is false, the cosmological argument cannot be proven false in this same way, as we've already seen."

And as I've already shown, I do not need to prove the argument false, I only need to show that its premises are not true. My "Dogs from Jupiter" argument and the Cosmological Argument both have premises that are not true, hence they both fail.

"The notion that God is a cause of the universe is much better supported than the notion that it is fairies, as in your first example."

This is nothing more than a bald assertion. Assuming one grants both premises of the argument, the conclusion points only to a cause of the universe and nothing more. Without making ad hoc assumptions, there's just as much reason to believe fairies are the cause as there is to believe God is.

I do sympathize with my opponent regarding the space restriction. I have much more to say in response, but I will have to leave that for the final round.
Yarn

Con

"I only need to show that the [premises] are not true for the argument to fail [...]"

I would agree with this. And as we've seen, the Pro position has yet to offer any evidence that is not in dispute that condradicts the cosmological argument.

"Saying the statements are not true is not the same as proving them false or wrong[...]"

It is, everyone reading that sentence can see that it is contradicting itself. If something is false, then it is not true, if something is not true, then it is false.

The only other possibility is that we do not know, which is the answer you have been admitting all along, and the answer you're afraid of, because if we do not know how the universe began it means the cosmological argument is still permissible in debate.

"There are a great many fallacious concepts and ideas that have fascinated people and sparked many discussions, but that is irrelevant to the debate."

I'm glad to see that my opponent is finally arguing the real premise of this debate. This point is not irrelevant to the debate, I must disagree, as this would help determine whether or not the argument in question should not be used again. If the cosmological argument could be found to have no rhetorical merit at all, on top of being patently false, it would indeed have to be discarded from use.

Rhetorical devices are used all of the time in debates, they are not provably true, and in some cases, are provably false, but that does not devalue their usefulness or merit when having a debate.

Consider Descartes, 'I think therefore I am.' Should this no longer be used in a debate? This is the same as saying the cosmological argument is bad, and should no longer be used.

Both Descartes argument and the cosmological argument are arguments, both are not entirely provable, both are not entirely disprovable, and both are useful rhetorical devices for provoking thought, discussion, or illustrating a point within a debate.

"I disagree with both points. The Cosmological Argument is [...] presented by dedicated theists as an intellectual underpinning for a foundational belief system."

Similarly Descartes argument was put forth as a real argument. Even people who disagree with it use it today as a rhetorical device, it has not been devalued.

"If my opponent's threshold for a good argument is just its ability to provoke thought and discussion, then perhaps my "Dogs from Jupiter" argument should be considered a good argument as well."

My opponent clearly thought that his Dogs from Jupiter argument was good enough to use in a debate or he would not have used it. He used it as a rhetorical device, even though he knew it was false, on top of that.

Now this gets to the heart of our argument. While my opponent's 'dogs from jupiter' was a bad argument, as we'd both pointed out in previous rounds, it was not so bad that it should not have been used, because it helped illustrate his point, but imperfectly. Remember the debate premise: The Cosmological Argument for God is a bad argument and people need to stop using it.

I do not blame my opponent for trying to use that argument, and I don't think he should have not tried using it, because even though it was imperfect, it helped support his point, and illustrate what he was trying to say.

The cosmological argument is a better argument than the dogs from Jupiter, so by my opponent's very own standards the cosmological argument passes the premise of this very debate.

"My language has been entirely consistent with the Big Bang theory"

This is true, my opponents language has, but his implications have not. See below.

"[W]e can't scientifically say that everything that exists also began to exist"

If we don't know whether everything that exists also began to exist or not, then it cannot be used to disprove the cosmological argument. My opponent knows he's lost this point and hopes the readers haven't noticed. But we've gone over this exact point in every single round.

"I'll admit, I'm not quite sure what my opponent is trying to say here. [...] I pointed out quantum fluctuations as a phenomenon [...]"

My opponent is confused from making a categorical error - quantum fluctuations are not accepted as a cause of the universe, but the cosmological argument pertains to the cause of the universe, not to phenomenon occurring after the fact.

"Put simply - 'not true' does not equal 'false'."

Now this is just bananas. Don't worry reader, I will not condescend by pretending I have to explain this to you.

"The default position is to say that there is not enough information to say the premise is true or false."

This is exactly the same error my opponent is making regarding the cosmological argument. He admits in the full quote that if you do not know something is true or false, you can't say it is false for sure. Read his illustration about the red card, it's a perfect illustration of his own error.

Whether something is true or not, is not dependent on whether or not we know it. He either has a red card in his pocket, or he doesn't, regardless of how much information we have, it is either true, or false. But he's admitting here, that if we don't know for sure, we can't say. The cosmological argument is the same, and my opponent has admitted it repeatedly. If the cosmological argument is debatable, it is then permissible in a debate.

"[T]here's just as much reason to believe fairies are the cause as there is to believe God is."

There isn't a concept that fairies are all powerful, or are creators of the universe. God is a better qualified concept than fairies, hence it is a straw man argument.

End of Round Statement:

Every word counts in a debate premise, and my opponent clearly added the fact that the cosmological argument should not be used, as a part of the premise.

If he had made a mistake while setting the premise of this debate, it is not the fault of the con position who accepted the debate on what it actually says.

'And it should not be used' would be unnecessary to add, if we were arguing merely for the premise that the cosmological argument was false. But in the premise my opponent didn't say it was false, he said it was 'bad', and he added 'and people need to stop using it'. Which means, what we are arguing is whether or not it is bad, and without use, in the context of debate over the existence of God.

This means that if the argument has any merit that makes it good enough to keep using in a debate about the existence of God, that the con position is correct, that it is not bad, and should not be discarded.

I'm arguing that it is good for several reasons. One being it is not patently false, not so wrong that it can be easily proven wrong, for example, and that even though one can not prove it is absolutely right, you also can't do that with arguments against it, making it perfectly valid in debate.

It also has the merit in a debate of causing people to think, to discuss, and facilitate the debate itself. And furthermore has merit as a rhetorical device, for example in leading the listener to the problem of pushing back the question.

So as you can see, many merits of including the cosmological argument in a debate do not require it to be provably correct. As I've pointed out in an earlier round, the fact that it is not provably correct, or provably incorrect, is precisely what makes it a debatable issue in the first place, and therefore not worthy of being excluded from such debates.

So now the reader can see why, when the opponent tries to make us prove whether or not the cosmological argument is absolutely correct, that it is not within the scope of this debate, which is not here to prove whether or not the cosmological argument is correct or incorrect but is instead here to prove whether or not it is a bad enough argument, without rhetorical merit, that people need to stop using it.
Debate Round No. 4
extian

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for taking the time to engage in this vigorous debate. I have enjoyed the exchange and hope my opponent has as well. I would also like to thank the reader for following the discussion this far.

For my closing remarks, I will address the overall points covered in this debate.

The debate topic - "The Cosmological Argument for God is a bad argument and people need to stop using it" - was chosen because I contend that the argument fails and, because of that, makes a poor defense of the existence of God. I demonstrated the argument's failure by demonstrating that the premises are not true.

My opponent decided to focus almost exclusively on the second part of the topic - "people need to stop using it" - to avoid having to debate the actual merits of the argument itself as a reason why people would need to stop using it. My opponent asserted that the topic was not the argument's correctness, but only its worth in a debate on the existence of God. Furthermore, my opponent contended that the only criteria to make it a good argument is whether it provokes thinking and discussion.

I think most readers would agree that talking about an argument's worth in a debate, without evaluating the argument's actual merits, is an odd strategy in the context of a debate to logically prove the God's existence. Think about it - if a theist is in such a debate, what would mere thought-provoking or discussion do to help his/her case to prove the existence of God? What would be the point of using an argument whose premises are possibly true instead of actually true? I see none, and my opponent has not shown how provoking faulty thinking with an unsound argument is a worthy endeavor.

My opponent's rebuttals seem to largely rest on a poor understanding of formal logic and argumentation. When my opponent gleefully pounced on my admission that the Cosmological Argument was valid, as if that was a self-defeater, I knew that s/he did not fully understand what a premise actually is in formal logic. A premise is not the entire argument - it is a part of an argument that helps support a conclusion (https://en.wikipedia.org...). It is also a truth proposition, meaning it must be true in order for the argument to be sound. All that is required to defeat a truth proposition is to show that the proposition is not true, that it has not met its burden of proof to be considered a true statement.

My opponent believes that because the Cosmological Argument cannot be proven false it is not unsound, and this also betrays a lack of understanding of the structure of an argument. Arguments are not proven false, you show that the premises are not true. Being possibly true is not enough to save an argument from being unsound.

In talking about the origins of the universe, I have tried to be careful to constrain my language only to our most accurate scientific understanding, and have pointed out how the Cosmological Argument does not do this. In talking about cosmology and origins, there is a great deal that we don't know, but my opponent thinks this uncertainty means the argument's premises are possible, as if that was relevant. Remember - the premises of an argument, which are truth propositions, must be demonstrated to actually be true, not just possibly true. If the premises cannot meet their burden of proof then they cannot be considered true. I have demonstrated that the premises of the Cosmological Argument are not true statements. As much as my opponent would like to insist, it does not matter in the context of a debate whether the premises are possible or cannot be proven false or provoke discussion. Once the premises are shown to be not true, the argument is dead and unhelpful in a debate.

Also, regarding my red card analogy, my opponent seems to think we're assessing whether the red card is in my pocket, when in actuality, we're assessing claims about whether the red card is in my pocket. Judging a claim as 'not true' does not necessarily mean the claim is 'false' - all that is being assessed is whether a claim has met its burden of proof. In the same way, the premises of the Cosmological Argument are truth claims that must be assessed before we can evaluate the worthiness of an argument. The fact that the origins of the universe are in dispute means that the premises of the argument, particularly the second premise (a truth claim about the universe), cannot be considered a true statement because it has not met its burden of proof to be considered true.

The difference between Descartes' statement and the Cosmological Argument is that Descartes was stating a philosophical axiom; he wasn't making scientific proclamations in a formal argument, like the Cosmological Argument does. Therefore we must evaluate each rhetorical device differently. The argument veils its fallacies in a shroud of terms that sound scientific but are not, so we use much more rigid, scientific standards to justify discarding it then we would for a non-scientific statement like Descartes'. Take another look at how I used the "Dogs from Jupiter" argument. That fake argument is not a straw man of the Cosmological Argument, it is merely a demonstration of the type of weakness that the Cosmological Argument suffers from - I'm not using that fake argument in this debate anything like a theist would use the Cosmological Argument in a debate about God's existence.

And the assertion that there is no concept that fairies are creators of the universe is not true. I just came up with the concept of universe-creating fairies just now in this debate. There is no evidence that God is a "better qualified concept" than fairies; the conclusion of the Cosmological Argument (if it were sound) only supports a universe-creating cause. We could argue over the evidence for God as a "qualified concept," but that would be a different debate (and isn't that the reason for the Cosmological Argument in the first place?).

In conclusion, my opponent's rebuttals fall short due to two main problems:

1. My opponent thinks that an argument's worthiness in a debate is completely divorced from the actual merits of the argument itself.
2. My opponent does not understand basic rules of logic and argumentation, particularly regarding formal argument structure and assessing truth propositions.

I feel that most honest readers would clearly understand that this debate has been, and always has been, about the Cosmological Argument itself. That my opponent would evade the central issue and choose to focus almost entirely on the "people should stop using it" part of the topic instead of the entire topic is unfortunate. I would ask my opponent - what value is there in using an argument that has been demonstrated to be unsound and that promotes a poor understanding of science and cosmology? If the answer is to promote thought and discussion, while those are not bad things in and of themselves, that is most certainly not the goal of the theist in a debate about God's existence. The theist will want to logically demonstrate that God is not merely a possibility, but an actuality. The Cosmological Argument does the theist no help in this regard, and should be discarded.

I feel that I have successfully defended my contention that the Cosmological Argument is a bad argument for God and should be discarded by theists. I have shown that the premises of an argument are not true, causing the argument to fail - as such, it is a poor defense for the (actual, not possible) existence of God. My opponent has avoided dealing with how to evaluate the argument's value by simply equating rhetorical worth with the ability to spark a discussion. I reject this method because the scientific claims made by the Cosmological Argument demand a more scientific degree of scrutiny in order to evaluate the argument; ability to provoke thought is not sufficient to use it as "good" argument to support the existence of God.

Thank you for reading.
Yarn

Con

"My opponent's rebuttals seem to largely rest on a poor understanding of formal logic and argumentation."

My opponent's argument, that the cosmological argument is bad, rests on his rejection of the law of cause and effect, and of the accepted theory that the universe had a beginning.

What my rebuttals rest on is that the reader can plainly see my opponent is the one actually using faulty logic and argumentation.

Let's remember how he tried to disprove the premises of the cosmological argument.

Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

His refutation of this was that 'whatever begins to exist' might include more things than the universe. That's it, that's his whole argument. Let's take a look:

"[T]heories like the Big Bang only explain the origin of the observable universe, not everything that exists."

Well okay, what else exists other than the universe?

This is my opponent's main argument against the cosmological argument, and I'm positive that the reader does not fall for it. Everything we observe has a cause, hence the law of cause and effect.

He admits it by saying he needs something to exist other than 'the observable universe' in order for his argument to disprove the cosmological argument. He then admits immediately afterward that we have no evidence for any such thing.

And he does this repeatedly, despite the fact that it was refuted in the very first round.

He's rejected the Big Bang, without outright saying it, by implying that there are more things in existence than the entire universe and that something out there somewhere must be existing that did not have a cause that started with the beginning of the universe.

Premise 2: The Universe began to exist.

Most of conventional science accepts that the universe began to exist.

Even naturalist scientists and young earth creationists actually agree on this, that the universe had a beginning, and my opponent is trying to convince you that this premise is false.

Here is the quote from my opponent:

"[T]he premise "The Universe began to exist" is not true and the argument fails - another reason to discard it."

When I pointed out his faulty reasoning what was his response? A word game.

"Put simply - 'not true' does not equal 'false'."

This is basically the same as trying to pretend you never said it. But what he actually meant by the above statement was that 'we do not know for certain it is true', as he later explained, but we've already answered why 'we do not know' in no way discards the cosmological argument.

I have pointed out time and again that 'we do not know' if the cosmological argument is true, or if there is more than 'the observable universe' and so neither should be discarded from a debate.

"The fact that the origins of the universe are in dispute means that the premises of the argument, particularly the second premise [...] cannot be considered a true statement because it has not met its burden of proof to be considered true."

According to conventional science and pretty much everyone except my opponent, the statement that 'the universe began to exist' has sufficiently met the burden of proof.

"[W]hat value is there in using an argument that has been demonstrated to be unsound and that promotes a poor understanding of science and cosmology?"

In fact my opponent is the one who promotes a poor understanding of cosmology by disagreeing with the fact that the universe had a beginning, which the cosmological argument promotes.

When my opponent gleefully pounced on my admission that the Cosmological Argument was valid [...] I knew that s/he did not fully understand what a premise actually is in formal logic.

Not only have I proven I understood your faulty logic, but I haven't resorted to ad hominim attacks by telling the reader what you do and do not understand.

"I have demonstrated that the premises of the Cosmological Argument are not true statements."

He didn't, see above.

"My opponent decided to focus almost exclusively on the second part of the topic - "people need to stop using it..."

This is correct, it is because my opponent didn't spend any time on the second part of the entire debate. While I addressed both whether it was a bad argument, and whether people should stop using it.

"What would be the point of using an argument whose premises are possibly true instead of actually true?"

For support, answered below.

"[W]hat would mere thought-provoking or discussion do to help [a theist's] case to prove the existence of God?"

This is a strawman argument. There are no arguments that definitely prove that there is or is not a God, there are only supports. The cosmological argument both supports that there might be a God, and is useful as a rhetorical device in a debate, as explained in round four.

"[M]y opponent contended that the only criteria to make it a good argument is whether it provokes thinking and discussion."

Now my opponent is lying, that was only one of the criteria in favor of the argument's continued use in a debate, along with other critia including that the argument could not be disprovable, and was not absurd.

"1. My opponent thinks that an argument's worthiness in a debate is completely divorced from the actual merits of the argument itself."

I have included the argument's worthiness as well as other merits that make it useful in a debate. My opponent spends a lot of time telling the reader what I think and understand.

"2. My opponent does not understand basic rules of logic and argumentation, particularly regarding formal argument structure and assessing truth propositions."

I'll let the reader be the judge of that.

Final Statment:

In order to win the debate two things needed to be proven by my opponent, that the cosmological argument is a bad argument, and people need to stop using it.

The con side has consistently given the reader reasons why it is not a bad argument, and also reasons why people do not need to stop using it.

The pro side has given some reasons as to why the cosmological argument may be a false argument. He has not proven that it is a false argument, let alone a bad argument, which is half of the actual premise of this debate.

In addition, my opponent has completely ignored why people should stop using it, that is, he's ignored the whole second half of the debate.

The con position has consistently answered both why the cosmological argument is not a bad argument, and also why people should continue using it in debates concerning the existence of God, for more reasons than just whether or not it may be correct.

In order for the cosmological argument to be so bad that people should stop using it, it would have to be undebatable. The fact that my opponent has spent this entire debate, debating against it, is self-refuting of that premise.

It has been demonstrated here that the cosmological argument cannot be proven correct, or incorrect - which is not the premise of the present debate. The fact that it is not provably correct, or provably incorrect, is precisely what makes it a debatable issue in the first place, and therefore not worthy of being excluded from such debates. And as we've seen, we are indeed debating whether or not people need to stop using it.

To vote for the pro side means you both accept "The Cosmological Argument for God is a bad argument, and that people need to stop using it."

A vote for the con position is to disagree with one, or the other statement, or both.

I would like to thank you, the reader, for your time and steadfast patience in reading this debate as we both eagerly await your decision.

And finally, I would like to thank my opponent as well for his participation in our debate. He has been civil, well spoken, and a worthy opponent.
Debate Round No. 5
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by extian 1 year ago
extian
@kwagga_la -

In the debate, I brought up quantum fluctuations in response to the first premise of the argument - "Whatever begins to exist has a cause." I never asserted that QM explains the origin of the universe (thought it's possible it had a role, but that's beside the point).

"All evidence and theories that Quantum mechanics can provide is based on things already in existence. This means that QM can only offer human opinions based on speculation without evidence."

You seem to be contradicting yourself. The evidence (offered from studying QM) is "based on things already in existence."

The Big Bang theory does not attempt to explain the beginning of the observable universe, it only describes the evolution of the universe after the singularity. No one knows how the universe began - and that includes theists. But there are scientific possibilities that remove the necessity of a god.

"Infinite regression" is only a problem for theists trying to prove the existence of God. It does not pose a problem for scientists, so an infinite multiverse, while not proven, is still a scientific possibility. There is no necessity for a first cause of the multiverse when we do not have any idea how causality works (or if it even does at all) in the multiverse. And if God is everlasting and uncaused, why can't the multiverse be everlasting and uncaused?

As I said in my opening remarks, the Cosmological Argument is an argument from ignorance fallacy wrapped in fancy words. Just because we cannot explain the origins of the universe does not necessarily mean your god created it.
Posted by kwagga_la 1 year ago
kwagga_la
@ extian Your assertion regarding Quantum mechanics are not correct. How do you explain a universe that could be a part of a multiverse with an infinite stream of baby universes birthed out of each other without a first birth or beginning? All evidence and theories that Quantum mechanics can provide is based on things already in existence. This means that QM can only offer human opinions based on speculation without evidence. QM cannot produce something out of nothing (something that does not already exists) and therefore should accept its limitations rather than speculating as if it was a god who knows everything. The Big bang cannot explain the beginning of the observable universe. Was it a benzene molecule? Where did the heat come from? The argument becomes known as the infinite regress argument. The infinite regression argument proves that there is something wrong with the questions asked and assumptions made. It is a logical fallacy. It is like asking what does the color blue smell like. The infinite regression argument has only one logical conclusion and that is that a being who is everlasting and uncreated (therefore not part of creation) caused the universe to come into existence.
Posted by felixmendelssohn 1 year ago
felixmendelssohn
As Con admitted in his paragraphs:
"While not a perfect argument because it does not completely conclude beyond a shadow of a doubt in the mind that there must needs be a God, the argument still points evidentially towards the possibility that there is a God, and therefore is a valid argument in supporting such a hypothesis in a debate, and certainly not worth being discarded by debaters."

If it's only a possibility then it should really be rewritten as I suggested. The problem with this argument is that it states unverifiable thing in an assertive way.

"Therefore, the Universe MAY have a cause."
Posted by extian 1 year ago
extian
felixmendelssohn, we are all in agreement that you cannot prove whether the universe did or didn't have a cause. But this debate was about the Cosmological Argument as it is written (particularly the Kalam Cosmological Argument), which posits that the universe DID have a cause.

If you don't like the word usage, you'll have to take it up with the 9th century Islamic theologians who wrote it.
Posted by felixmendelssohn 1 year ago
felixmendelssohn
I agree with Con that you cannot prove whether the universe had a cause or hadn't. If that's the case, shouldn't the argument be reframed as follow:

Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist MAY has a cause.
Premise 2: The Universe began to exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, the Universe MAY have a cause.

What bugs me is the word usage of the premise, it sounds almost assertive although as Con admitted that we cannot verify the first primise YET.
Posted by ADHDavid 1 year ago
ADHDavid
I'll be casting my vote tomorrow, only skimmed the first arguments for a moment.
This will give me time to read and think about it.
Posted by extian 1 year ago
extian
Yarn, I appreciated the debate as well. This was my first debate on this site, and I found it challenging, engaging, and fulfilling. I agree with you about the quality of the other ongoing debates, so it truly was a joy to debate with you. Hopefully we shall debate again in the future.
Posted by Yarn 1 year ago
Yarn
I would like to extend my thanks to my opponent. I didn't have enough space to let him know just how much I actually appreciate him.

I'm very, very, happy that you were my opponent Extian. I only just joined the site and when I looked at the current ongoing debates, I realised that ours was one of the most serious debates happening right now. I really got lucky to have found a debate partner who is both intelligent and mature, well spoken, and civil, and a truly worthy opponent. Thank you so much for having this debate with me.
Posted by Yarn 1 year ago
Yarn
I should clarify my comment because it can be misread: I recognise where it was said about whether the universe is a set of things, or is a thing in and of itself, or etc. and didn't directly respond to it, but instead responded to the end assumption that would have to be made in order for that to discard the cosmological argument.

In other words, the important thing Zaephou said, was that 'we do not know'. Since it is not known whether or not those speculations that Zaephou put forth regarding the universe are true, then they cannot falsify the cosmological argument.
Posted by Yarn 1 year ago
Yarn
Zaephou

"From an opinionated standpoint, I agree with pro for a several things. The cause and effect argument was purely derived from what is inside the universe, and the cosmological argument is applying rules for things inside the universe to the universe itself, and this is not proven or factual since we cannot/do not know if the universe is a thing, or if it is rather a set of things. We know that the rules for objects in a set cannot apply for the set itself. Also, what makes the first cause so special that it does not need a cause?"

You're making the same mistake my opponent is. We are not supposed to be arguing that the cosmological argument is definitely true, and what's more, there is no proof that anything exists at all outside of our universe, as you've pointed out.

Since we can't prove your premise that there is something else besides the universe, we can't prove that the cosmological argument is wrong, or even absurd. You're accepting that there is more than the current universe out there as a primary assumption.

However, the reason why I don't argue the fine details of the cosmological argument with my opponent like I'm sort of doing with you here, is because we aren't supposed to even be debating whether or not it is completely true, but rather it's validity in use in a debate, which is not dependant on the argument being definitely true. Only on having either substantive merit, or rhetorical merit, or in the best case scenerio, both, in the opinion of the Con.

But anway, thanks for your comment on our ongoing debate.
No votes have been placed for this debate.