The Instigator
Philosopher
Con (against)
Tied
7 Points
The Contender
vorxxox
Pro (for)
Tied
7 Points

The Cosmological argument is evidence for a God.

Do you like this debate?NoYes-1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Con Tied Pro
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/19/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,230 times Debate No: 6282
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (2)

 

Philosopher

Con

Hello, this is my first debate so I felt inclined to thank my opponent for this debate, whoever they may be. I intend to argue that the cosmological argument does not count as evidence for a God.

A cosmological argument is an argument derived from one particular piece of evidence: the origin of the universe.

Generally, cosmological arguments go like this:

1) If the universe requires a cause, then the cause of the universe must be God.

2) The universe requires a cause.

3) Therefore, the cause of the universe must be God.

This argument is valid, because the conclusion logically follows from the two premises. But is the argument sound? That is, are the premises true?

My opponent will need to show that the existence of God can be inferred from the fact of the origin of the universe. I will herein define God as a supernatural, personal being that is not subject to the laws of nature, and so can perform miracles.

Having laid out my position and the definitions of the debate topic, I feel it pertinent to wait for my opponent to lay out their argument from the origin of the universe to God's existence, as I would not like to attack 'straw man' versions of the cosmological argument.

That being said, I eagerly await my opponent's opening statement, and from thereon, will attempt to show that their argument is not evidence for God's existence.
vorxxox

Pro

First of all, I would like to thank my opponent for posting such an interesting topic, and it is my first debate too.

First, I would like to start by stating that as not only a christian, but as an educated philosopher and one with a passion for science, the definition of god is creator of the universe. Therefore, god would exist no matter what you believe, simply because the universe is something that was created. To clarify that, if you believe that the universe created the universe, the universe would be god ^_^. Amit Goswami calls the universe "self aware," therefore the universe as whole is intelligent and has control of the universe, so therefore god is ruler of the universe, and of all existence.

Supernatural as defined by merriam - webster means: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe

The universe being infinite, something we can never fully observe, god is therefore something we can never fully percieve or observe, and is therefore still supernatural

First debate, critics cut some slack, cheers.
Debate Round No. 1
Philosopher

Con

Alright then. On to the counter arguments.

"First, I would like to start by stating that as not only a christian, but as an educated philosopher and one with a passion for science, the definition of god is creator of the universe. Therefore, god would exist no matter what you believe, simply because the universe is something that was created. To clarify that, if you believe that the universe created the universe, the universe would be god ^_^. Amit Goswami calls the universe "self aware," therefore the universe as whole is intelligent and has control of the universe, so therefore god is ruler of the universe, and of all existence."

I didn't define God as the creator of the universe; that's pretty much what we're arguing about, whether a being which I defined in my opening post created the universe. I don't think the universe can be defined as a supernatural, personal being that can perform miracles.

Amit Goswami, a theoretical physicist at the University of Oregon [1], does believe that the universe as a whole is conscious, though he is in the scientific minority, and has been criticized by fellow scientists of "quantum quackery" [2].
Nonetheless, stating that Professor Goswami calls the universe "self aware" isn't evidence for this claim, and one would be hard pressed to argue for pantheism (The belief that God is the universe) scientifically.

"Supernatural as defined by merriam - webster means: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe

The universe being infinite, something we can never fully observe, god is therefore something we can never fully percieve or observe, and is therefore still supernatural"

Is the universe infinite? We cannot see past the observable universe, and so cannot know whether the universe is infinite or not [3].

Finally, the universe is constrained by the laws of nature, and hence, if the natural universe is all that exists, then it seems that miracles, interruptions of the laws of nature, are excluded. For these reasons, the universe itself couldn't be called God, as I have defined the term God.

I am grateful for my opponent's reply, but I think it would be easier to tell whether his arguments are valid or not if he put them in the form of syllogisms, like the general cosmological argument I alluded to in my opening post.

Basically, my opponent needs to show that premises (1) and (2) are more likely true than false.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[2] http://www.csicop.org...

[3] http://www.nasa.gov...
vorxxox

Pro

Supernatural as defined by merriam - webster means: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe

"Is the universe infinite? We cannot see past the observable universe, and so cannot know whether the universe is infinite or not"

That only proves my point.

Let me be a little clearer. I was pressed for time, and I meant not to define God creator of the universe, but the creator of the universe as God. Think about that for a second. Whatever created the universe, call it God.

Now, as far as the cosmological argument, it's simple causality. Everything that exists does for a reason.

THIS is the argument,
1.Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2.The Universe began to exist.
3.Therefore, the Universe had a cause

Whatever caused the universe to exist is god.

I think my opponent will need to explain how something can exist without a cause, which to me or to the laws of physics logic doesn't make any sense. Otherwise, I'm the victor of this debate.
Debate Round No. 2
Philosopher

Con

"Let me be a little clearer. I was pressed for time, and I meant not to define God creator of the universe, but the creator of the universe as God. Think about that for a second. Whatever created the universe, call it God."

This is not the definition of God supplied in the opening round. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in agreeing to participate in this debate, you agreed to argue for the God I defined. Isn't this why you tried to argue that the universe was self aware in the opening round? Sure, there are many definitions of what 'God' is, but I am arguing over whether a certain type of God exists. Hence, arguing that the universe has a cause isn't enough; the cause has to be shown to be self aware, supernatural, and capable of performing miracles.

"THIS is the argument,
1.Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2.The Universe began to exist.
3.Therefore, the Universe had a cause"

This form of the cosmological argument is known as the Kalam argument. Both premises (1) and (2) can be argued against.

First, premise (2), "The universe began to exist", assumes something about the nature of time. The term, "began to exist", in the usual sense means that it once didn't exist, and then did, or:

2'. If x began to exist, then there is a time t at which it does exist, and a time prior to t at which it does not.

So, to say that the universe began to exist assumes that time passes, that the universe moves from one period of time to the next. This is called the "A theory" of time, and proposes that the future and past do not exist in the same way that the present does. That is, to the outsider, the universe is a three dimensional entity that changes as time passes [1]. The Kalam argument depends on this theory, as the Kalam argument's most outspoken supporter, William Lane Craig, suggests:

"On a B-theory of time the universe never truly comes into being at all... neither coming into or going out of being. The four-dimensional space-time manifold is in this latter sense eternal." [2]

The B-theory of time states that the universe is a four dimensional structure, the fourth dimension being time, laid out like the other spatial dimensions. The past, present, and future are all equally real, and the passing of time is an illusion, that someone observing the universe in its entirety would not understand. But more importantly, this would mean that the universe exists timelessly, much like God is said to exist outside of time. If this is the case, then the universe does not begin to exist.

There is no philosophical consensus as to which theory, A or B, is more likely, and I do not favor one over the other. But, the kalam argument rests on the A theory, so premise (1) can be reasonably disputed.

Now, premise (1) can also be disputed. It suggests that, if premise (2) is correct, and the universe begins to exist, then it requires a cause. I defined "begins to exist" in detail in (2'), as a transition from not existing to existing. Everything in the universe that begins to exist used to not exist. The computer I am typing this on has a history to it. It was bought, and before that was made, and before that did not exist. I can point to a time in history when the computer did not exist, and a time after it when the computer did. [3]

However, even if we assume that the passing of time is not an illusion, the universe did not begin to exist in this way. The current cosmological theory of the universe's origin is that there was a big bang, that spawned the universe as we know it, arising from an initial big bang singularity. before this big bang event, there was no time; the big bang is the beginning of time itself. So, there was no actual time at which the universe did not exist. Before the big bang, there was no "empty" state where time existed but the universe did not. Hence, the universe did not "begin to exist" in the conventional sense, as there was no transition from non existence to existence, or from potentiality to actuality.

Hence, unlike things in the universe, like my computer, the universe itself was never merely potential. It did not require some force to move it from non-existence to existence. Hence, the fact that things in the universe require a cause, does not show that the universe itself requires a cause. The fact that my computer requires a cause doesn't give us reason to believe that the universe must require a cause, because it at no point in time failed to exist. The universe has existed for the whole of time, even if time is finite.

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...

[2] William Lane Craig, 'Naturalism: A Critical Analysis, (2000), p232-3

[3] This objection is based on a paper by Wes Morriston: http://stripe.colorado.edu...

Finally, I would like to wish everyone on debate.org a very merry christmas, and a happy winter all round!
vorxxox

Pro

Interesting...

To everyone at debate.org, hope you've had a merry christmas. Have a happy new year.

Well for my rebuttals

Resolution: The Cosmological argument is evidence for a God.

"I will herein define God as a supernatural, personal being that is not subject to the laws of nature, and so can perform miracles."

I do not accept this definition, for its not from an adaquate source. You tried to set barriers to my argument. That's basically like stating this resolution, and then later stating "By god I mean Thor, god of thunder." Ooooooooh no you don't.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but in agreeing to participate in this debate, you agreed to argue for the God I defined."

Your wrong.

I just stand affirmative on the given resolution.

God is best defined as one who is worshipped as creator and supreme ruler of the universe (merriam webster). I'm only arguing his existence, not his abilities other than to create the universe.

First of all, you say the universe doesn't require a cause. That's practically saying it doesn't have a beginning. Explain to me how something can exist without a beginning.

"However, even if we assume that the passing of time is not an illusion, the universe did not begin to exist in this way. The current cosmological theory of the universe's origin is that there was a big bang, that spawned the universe as we know it, arising from an initial big bang singularity. before this big bang event, there was no time; the big bang is the beginning of time itself. So, there was no actual time at which the universe did not exist. Before the big bang, there was no "empty" state where time existed but the universe did not. Hence, the universe did not "begin to exist" in the conventional sense, as there was no transition from non existence to existence, or from potentiality to actuality."

1) So, before the big bang, there was no time?

2) So what existed before the big bang?

3) A singularity of all the matter in the universe just existed infinitely before the big bang?

4) So that singularity had no prior?

5) What caused it to start?

6) It just "happened". I guess your right. Things can start for no reason. Without a cause. It doesn't make any sense though, does it?

No, it had a beginning, and whatever it may be, it will fit under the definition of God.

Therefore, the cosmological argument is evidence for a God.

I win unless my opponent can prove how the universe is exempt from the laws of causality

Sorry if I was rude at all.

I urge a PRO ballot

:)
Debate Round No. 3
Philosopher

Con

Philosopher forfeited this round.
vorxxox

Pro

vorxxox forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Philosopher 8 years ago
Philosopher
I'm sorry that I didn't respond in the fourth round. I was unable to use my computer for five days due to extenuating circumstances. If Vorxxox wishes to challenge me or be challenged by me to a shorter debate regarding this topic, I will be more than happy to participate.

I will very briefly respond to his points here. He said that my definition of God isn't from an adequate source. While I find the term "adequate source" contentious, I did not state in the opening round that we were arguing about the dictionary definition of God. I made it very clear what I meant by God, and in agreeing to this debate, and arguing that the universe had the properties that I listed in the first round, he implicitly agreed to this definition. Again, If Vorxxox chooses to challenge me, he can define the terms of the debate, and I can choose to debate him or abstain accordingly.

Vorxxox didn't challenge my objection based on the reality of time. For the cosmological argument to hold, he has to show that the A theory of time is likely to be true.

Against my second objection, my opponent suggested I suppose that the big bang singularity created the universe for no reason. I never stated this, and only suggested that the universe has always existed, first in the form of the singularity, and grew into the universe we know now. It is alright that we don't yet know every step in this process, but this doesn't mean that we need God to explain it.

"I win unless my opponent can prove how the universe is exempt from the laws of causality"

What does this mean? When did I bring the laws of causality into this? I have merely pointed out that the universe may have always existed, even if only for a finite amount of time.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
"which to me or to the laws of physics"

Quantum mechanics :). Not only does this field of science warrp our intuitive thinking of causility, it has many other philosophical implications I'm surprised not many people look into it. Law of Non-Contradiction? Take a look at quantum mechanics. An electron can spin "up" and spin "down" simultaenously.
Posted by Philosopher 8 years ago
Philosopher
Feel free to challenge me on the topic, askbob.
Posted by askbob 8 years ago
askbob
UGH I can't believe I missed this one!
Posted by Philosopher 8 years ago
Philosopher
Thanks, Brian.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 8 years ago
I-am-a-panda
Has this guy heard 'Big bang theory'???
Posted by InquireTruth 8 years ago
InquireTruth
An atheist epistemological foundationalist.
Posted by brian_eggleston 8 years ago
brian_eggleston
Nice opening argument, I hope you get a worthy opponent.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by rougeagent21 8 years ago
rougeagent21
PhilosophervorxxoxTied
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:70 
Vote Placed by vorxxox 8 years ago
vorxxox
PhilosophervorxxoxTied
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