The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Con (against)
Losing
78 Points
The Contender
KRFournier
Pro (for)
Winning
92 Points

The Following Arguments for the Existence of God are Valid - 1K

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/31/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 9,563 times Debate No: 9896
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (89)
Votes (29)

 

TheSkeptic

Con

Note: the "1J" notation in the Topic title is simply for searching purposes.

[Definition - Existence]
http://dictionary.reference.com.........
1. the state or fact of existing; being.

*NOTE* I am not debating whether or not a God exists in one's MIND, but rather in REALITY.

[Definition - Valid]
http://dictionary.reference.com.........
1. sound; just; well-founded
2. Logic. (of an argument) so constructed that if the premises are jointly asserted, the conclusion cannot be denied without contradiction.

*NOTE* Stemming from the second definition, I don't intend for my opponent to create a syllogism. Simply put, my opponent needs to construct an argument of which I can't successfully defeat (of course, this is to the opinion of the voters). So in other words, it needs to be logically valid and sound. Let's try to avoid semantics, and get a good hearty debate going.

Additionally, I require that my opponent argue for whatever deity they are proving with the intent of showing that it is PROBABLE/DEFINITE the deity exists (through their argument). Saying that something is possible does not necessarily mean it exists.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is how the debate will play out:

Round 1: This is my Round 1 for clarifications and guidelines. For PRO, he/she will either state that his following arguments will affirm a specific god (i.e. Christian God, Muslim God, etc.) or a metaphysically supreme being. If my opponent chooses to affirm a metaphysical supreme being, then he/she need to define it's properties (otherwise there will be nothing to debate). Then, my opponent will LIST his/her ARGUMENTS with at least a brief EXPLANATION for both (I don't want just a line of titles).

Try to not list too many, ranging from 1-3 is preferable.

Round 2 - 4: I will refute his/her arguments and it will go back and forth as such.

I hope we have a good debate!
KRFournier

Pro

I thank TheSkeptic for creating another forum for this topic and look forward to a rigorous and edifying debate.

I am first and foremost arguing for a personal creator of this universe. However, to keep this debate interesting, I will do extra credit to also show that the personal creator is in fact the Christian God. Since the Christian God is complex and not adequately reduced to a mere four adjectives, I offer the Westminster Confession of Faith [1], which is arguably one of the most complete descriptions of the Biblical God.

Since TheSkeptic and I are known to get long winded in our defenses and rebuttals, I am going to stick with this one argument for God's existence, an extension of the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

P1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.

This premise needs little defense given the absurdity of something coming from nothing. Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence of anything in this universe coming into existence from nothing. My opponent might appeal to quantum particle pair production as one such scientific example (particles being created and destroyed at random). However, this turns out to be a conversion between energy and matter, thus we still have something coming from something. I will leave my argument brief on this point and await my opponent's response.

P2. The universe began to exist.

It is impossible to have an actual infinite of something. While something like the universe is indefinite--that is, it may grow indefinitely--it does not follow that it is infinite or can even be infinite. The notion of an actual infinite is logically absurd. In an actual infinite, you could add and remove things to the set and the set would not change. It would be the same as saying, "I've added more, and it's the same. Then I removed a lot more than I originally added, and it was still the same." If a set grows when thing are added, then it is not infinite even if it is quite large. Likewise, if a set is infinite, then it already encompasses everything and cannot be modified.

Science also strongly supports this premise. The universe is expanding, as first discovered by the red shifts in the stars. [2] Thermodynamics and the discovery of dark energy remove further doubt; the universe will continue to expand until heat death is reached. [3] The expansion of the universe implies that the universe is not eternal, since an eternal universe would necessarily be at a state of equilibrium.

C1. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

If whatever begins to exist has a cause (P1) and the universe began to exist (P2), then the universe has a cause.

P3. The first cause must be eternal.

As argued in P1, there cannot be an actual infinite, so there cannot be an infinite number of effects in time. Therefore, even if my opponent were to argue that the universe was begat by another temporal object, he would simply be appealing to another event. The only way to rationally stop the regression is to assert that this universe, directly or indirectly, was caused by an uncaused entity. Since causes and effect are by definition temporal, any uncaused entity would necessarily be eternal.

P4. All eternal causes of temporal effects must be personal.

An eternal cause would be one of two things: teleological (personal/intelligent) or non-teleological (mechanical). The non-teleological option can be eliminated as the cause of the universe because a non-teleological entity is by definition dead and inoperative. An eternal object MUST be in equilibrium; it is logically contradictory to assert an eternal object that is changing. Remember, change is only logically valid within the context of time. Thus, a dead eternal entity is incapable of causing anything, much less the temporal effects of space-time as we know it.

A teleological eternal agent on the other hand can fit the definition of equilibrium and still create temporal effects. A personal agent implies an agent with a will. It is logically possible for an eternal personal agent to freely choose to create effects in time without necessitating change in its own properties. Since the same cannot be said for non-teleological eternal entities, we are left to conclude that any eternal cause of a temporal effect must be intelligent.

C2. The universe was caused by a personal creator.

If the universe has a cause (C1), and the cause must be eternal (P3), then the universe has an eternal cause. If the universe has an eternal cause and all eternal causes of temporal effects must be personal (P4), then the universe must have been caused by a personal agent.

At this point, I have offered enough evidence to assert the existence of personal creator. But in the interest of education, I shall take my argument further.

P5. Given a personal creator, miracles are logically possible.

Once a personal creator is established, it is logically permissible for that creator to intervene in this universe in the form of miracles, events that defy the constraints of the universe. Such intervention does not necessitate a change in the eternal being, nor does it invalidate the set laws of this universe. This premise is straight forward, so I'll leave it to The Skeptic to rebut this point as he sees fit and defend it as needed.

P6. The personal creator probably intervened in this universe by resurrecting Christ

Given the historical reliability of the Bible [4], we can conclude that the stories regarding Jesus Christ are testimonies of real witnesses. The question is not so much whether or not these witnesses were confused or ignorant about what they saw. The real debate is whether or not these witnesses were deceived or liars. However, any theories regarding Christ either faking his death or the resurrection being a scam are easily refuted by the behavior of the witnesses following the event. Given the validity of miracles and the testimony of so many witnesses, it is parsimonious to accept that the Gospel is probably describing a real event.

There is much to be said on this point for sure, but I do not have the room to elaborate much further. I am merely offering a summary of my arguments here and will await my opponent's rebuttal before expanding on this premise further.

C3. The personal creator of this universe is probably Christian God.

If the personal creator can intervene in the form of miracles (P5) and the miracle of the Resurrection probably occurred (P6), then the Bible is probably the revelation of this universe's personal creator. In which case, the creator of this universe is probably the Christian God.

CONCLUSION

Even if I am unsuccessful in showing the existing of the Christian God as probable, I have logically shown that there does exist in the very least a personal creator with the capability of creating this universe. This should sufficiently meet TheSkeptic's generic definition of God.

SOURCES
1. http://www.reformed.org...
2. http://skyserver.sdss.org...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
4. http://www.leaderu.com...
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Con

I thank KRF for accepting this open debate - our previous one was very enjoyable, so my expectations of this one are high :). I'm also pleased that my opponent has decided to use Kalam's cosmological argument (KCA) for the very fact that it brings a diversity to our religious discussion - it can get sometimes get monotonous when rehashing the same issue over and over.

I accept my opponent's definition of the Christian god, and am quite surprised by the burden he has placed upon himself. I will not concentrate on his defense of the Christian god, but rather the generic definition of God that the KCA can only demonstrate to exist. I will leave my remarks concerning my opponent's defense of the Christina conception in a separate section towards the end. Before that, my criticism of KCA:

======================
Notes on my opponent's syllogism
======================

P1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
P2. The universe began to exist.
C1. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
P3. The first cause must be eternal.
P4. All eternal causes of temporal effects must be personal.
C2. The universe was caused by a personal creator.
P5. Given a personal creator, miracles are logically possible.
P6. The personal creator probably intervened in this universe by resurrecting Christ
.: The personal creator of this universe is probably the Christian God.

The above was my opponent's argument. He has conveniently supplied me with a clear and intricate argument, and I will take this opportunity to organize certain group of points per section and attack them there. So here we go:

====================
Criticism of P1, P2, and C1 -- Concerning the empirical information surrounding the universe's existence
====================

P1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.

My opponent Craig confidently state that the premise "something can't come out of nothing" is obviously true. There are several problems with such a claim, both philosophical and scientific:

First, what reason do we have to believe such a claim is true? If we take the stronger interpretation of it and read it to mean that anything that begins to exist MUST have a cause then we are bankrupt for any reason why this is so. It's not obviously not self-evident since even famous theists such as Richard Swinburne (and many others) understand it very well and yet reject it - for a self-evident claim is one if and only if most people who understand it accept it. Neither is there any scientific principle that negates it; I'd welcome my opponent to find one.

However, if we are to be more charitable and grant the weaker interpretation, then it would read then there is a scientific generalization that things that begin to exist have a cause. However, even this claim is absurd - for what COMES into existence? Nothing we know of does such a thing; the universe is predicated by change only. Humans do not come into existence, they are simply a reorganization of molecules. The universe did not come into existence, the matter contained always existed.

Indeed, there have been growing excitement among theoretical physicists, particularly in quantum gravity, about proposals for the origin of the universe. A popular one is the universal wave function[1], advocated by the likes of James Hartle and Stephen Hawkings. Among have several instances of confirmed observational evidence, it solves the question of how the universe began uncaused - Hawings "supposes that there is a timeless space, a four-dimensional hypersphere, near the beginning of the universe. It is smaller than the nucleus of an atom. It is smaller than 10^-33 centimeters in radius. Since it was timeless, it no more needs a cause than the timeless god of theism[2]." There is very good reason to believe the universe began without being caused; at the very least, this theory has more support than the theist counterpart.

P2. The universe began to exist.

My opponent states that it is "impossible to have an actual infinite of something". By definition, an actual infinite[3] is a completed set with an infinite amount of elements in it. To add on to this, my opponent reminds us that "if a set is infinite...it cannot be modified". My opponent's claim here suffers on the basis of philosophy of and of set theory.

An important German mathematician by the name of Georg Cantor demonstrated that there can be something larger than infinity...namely another infinity[4][5]! While seeming counterintuitive and scathingly rejected at first, it has been lauded as a ground mark discovery - refer to my details for a full explanation. This discovery in mathematics would seem to undermine my opponent's notion of infinity.

However, the bigger problem is the age old groups of Zeno's paradox - which were known even during Aristotle's time. According to Zeno, things such as MOTION ITSELF did not exist on the basis that actual infinities can't exist. Take his example of the runners[6]: if the distance between point A and point B were 10 meters, anyone walking along this path would first have to come across point C, which is the midway point between A and B (thus being 5 meters from point A). However, before one gets to point C they must embark on point D, which is the midway point between A and C (thus being 2.5 meters from point A), and so on. As you can see, we have a common day example of an actual infinite - so does motion not exist? Of course not, actual infinites can exist in reality and I'll be glad to explore it more with my opponent.

C1. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

This would work if my opponent's premises were valid, but since they aren't...

====================
Criticism of P3, P4, and C2 -- Concerning the nature of the first cause
====================

P3. The first cause must be eternal.

This premise is once again invalidated, since it relies on the premise that an actual infinite can't exist - which DOES.

P4. All eternal causes of temporal effects must be personal.

Not only does this premise also rely on the idea of there having to be an eternal cause (which also relies on the premise about actual infinites), my opponent uses a frankly shaky reductio argument to show that a personal creator is viable. First, what part of an object being "dead" means it is not in "equilibrium"? Secondly, if your characteristic of the cause is correct - that no change is possible - then you submit that said cause CAN'T MAKE DECISIONS.

C2. The universe was caused by a personal creator.

As is with all conclusions, if the premises are unsupported than so is the conclusion.

====================
Criticism of P5, P6, and C3 -- Concerning the Christian God
====================

The odd thing about my opponent's attempt to prove that the cause of the universe was the Christian God is that he doesn't use KCA but others, such as historical reliability - which is fine, but is another argument. This is why alone, KCA fails to prove that the Christian God is the creator of the universe as opposed to the infinite amount of other possible gods.

Nonetheless, I will gladly allow him to have this point. After all, even if he shows that Christianity fits best with KCA, if I demonstrate that the KCA is unsound to begin with then there's no foundation for my opponent's argument.

====================
Conclusion
====================

My opponent's argument is practically LITTERED with scientific and philosophical holes. Ranging from developments in quantum gravity, mathematics, philosophy of time, and general contradictions. While Craig's a reformulation of KCA is admirable, he does little to show it's merit.

As the philosopher Quentin Smith remarks, the most reasonable belief is that we came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing.

---References---
See comment section
KRFournier

Pro

Before I being my defense of KCA, I will officially drop premises five and six and the conclusion that follows thereafter. It is clear that neither The Skeptic nor I wish to hamper the space allocated for KCA itself with premises that could be (and have been) a debate in their own right.

P1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.

This premise, which I will heretofore refer to as the causal principle, is constantly affirmed in our experiences. David Hume, noted for his insistence that we are not justified in believing this principle still believed it to be true when he wrote to John Stewart in 1754, "But allow me to tell you that I never asserted so absurd a Proposition as that anything might arise without a cause: I only maintain'd, that our Certainty of the Falsehood of that Proposition proceeded neither from Intuition nor Demonstration, but from another source." [1] Even J. L. Mackie, an opponent to KCA had to admit, "Still this principle has some plausibility, in that it is constantly confirmed in our experience (and also used, reasonably, in interpreting our experience)." [2]

So, my opponent has no grounds to claim that "we are bankrupt for any reason why this [principle] is so." Indeed, to accept that something can begin to exist without cause is to accept all sorts of nonsense. Think of any field of science, from meteorology to physics, and you'll find the insatiable pursuit of cause. So when my opponent says there is no scientific principle that affirms it, in a way he's right. The causal principle is not a scientific law but a metaphysical law upon which science relies. That is to say, science does not show the causal principle to be true, but without it, science is unintelligible.

My opponent later engages in semantics when he says, "For what COMES into existence? Nothing we know of does such a thing; the universe is predicated by change only." When we speak of "things," we do not speak of the parts but of the whole. When I say the earth began to exist, it is irrational to say, "No, silly, the earth is just matter and matter has always existed." This is why the term "begins" appears in the principle, because we are ultimately concerned with cause and effect. In all our observations--and I challenge my opponent to find a defensible exception--things that begin have been caused. The real question is: does this apply to matter in the universe as well? That is the aim of the second premise.

In rebuttal to P1, my opponent refers to the work of Hawkings. I am moving my refutation to P2 where it more accurately applies. The beginning of the universe is separate from the causal principle in general.

P2. The universe began to exist.

The Big Bang Model of the universe is the result of traversing the general relativity equations back in time to a singularity, where time reaches infinity. Anything before this singularity is incalculable. Hawking's universal wave function (also called quantum cosmology) is accomplished using imaginary numbers for the time variable in Einstein's gravitational equations, which converts spacetime into Euclidean 4D space, which is by definition timeless. It works mathematically but is philosophically not cogent.

It is not unusual to convert time into a space dimension using imaginary numbers for certain problems, but physicists typically revert back to normal spacetime dimensions when dealing with anything in the modern universe. If quantum cosmology is a realistic description of the universe, than we should be using imaginary numbers for all our time variables. Since in reality we do not, my opponent is too hasty to conclude "there is very good reason to believe the universe began without being caused."

In fact, the work of Alexander Vilenkin (who preceded Hawkings and Hartle in quantum cosmology), developed a unifying theory in 2003 with Arvind Borde and Alan Guth. This theory, which is independent of our universe and therefore applies to all models of universes, shows that all expanding universes must have a singularity and therefore a beginning. (See link [3] for description). This is direct, recent scientific support of my premise. Vilenkin, who worked in the past on modeling a timeless universe, now says, "Cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning." [4]

Regarding infinity, I admittedly misused my terms in my opening round. To clarify, there are two types of infinity: potential (∞) and actual (ℵ). "Potential infinity refers to a procedure that gets closer and closer to, but never quite reaches, an infinite end." This is different from an actual infinity, which is "an infinity that one actually reaches; the process is already done." [5] When I said an actual infinity is impossible, I meant an actual infinity is physically impossible. While an actual infinity is a meaningful mathematical concept, it is not possible to have an actual infinite number of things, particular in nature. Matter is finite.

My opponent engages in equivocation when presenting the Zeno paradox, which does not illustrate an actual infinity, but a potential infinity. The set will grow forever, but an actual infinity is--by definition--already complete. I agree the universe is boundless and therefore potentially infinite in time, but an actual infinite number of events is impossible.

The best example of an actual infinity is Hilbert's Grand Hotel paradox. A hotel has an actual infinite number of rooms and all rooms are occupied. When new guests arrive, the proprietor is able to give that guest a room by shifting the guest in room 1 to room 2, and so on for infinity. So, even though the hotel is full, it's not full. In short, the hotel is simultaneously always full and always has vacancies. Likewise, to claim the universe has an actual infinite number of events is to assert that simultaneously all events have already occurred and all events have yet to occur.

P3. The first cause must be eternal.

My opponent's rebuttal on this point depends upon his ability to prove that an actual infinite number of things can exist. Unless he can do that intelligibly, this point remains unanswered and therefore valid.

P4. All eternal causes of temporal effects must be personal.

If all premises up this point hold, then we have to determine how an eternal entity can spontaneously cause something different than itself. A non-teleological entity is impossible. There are two non-teleological possibilities giving the necessity of equilibrium in an eternal entity: an inactive entity or a perpetual machine. The first obviously cannot cause anything as it is eternally still.

For the second option imagine a perpetual machine that causes and consumes universes. While the machine itself is conceivable, the fact that it is a machine in perpetual motion implies design. Such a machine could not have evolved, since evolution is change over time. It could not just "be" because motion is change over time as well. At best, something designed it, but then we have a paradox, for a designer of an eternal machine would have to be eternal as well, landing you in the predicament of a machine that was designed both before and after the designer designed it.

Indeed, by the impossibility of a non-teleological agent, we are left with an agent that with a Will. My opponent says an eternal agent exhibits change when making a decision. In my last round I stated, "It is logically possible for an eternal personal agent to freely choose to create effects in time without necessitating change in its own properties." A Will is a fixed, unchanging property of the entity. Decisions can be made within that Will without invoking change in the entity itself. Thus, the eternal cause is most intelligibly personal in nature.

SOURCES
See Comments
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Con

Seeing as how my opponent has dropped his last 3 points, and wisefully so, then I will assume along with him that our discussion will thus focus on the rest of the argument. Furthermore, given that there has been a slight weight lifted off our shoulders, I will title most of the sections in correspondence with one premise only. Lastly, In light of his clarification on his ambigious use of some words, I will be forced to change some of my arguments - though in no way does this hamper my chance of success (there are multiple ways of defeating KCA).

=====================
P1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
=====================

My opponent makes two interesting claims in his response, one being about the nature of causality while the other being about my "semantical attack on the phrase of coming into existence". I will demonstrate not only is he precepts about the causal premise irrevocably misplaced, but that he hasn't paid enough attention to the claim that something "begins to exist". To say the least, my opponent's defense of his causal premise is lackluster. He supplies no philosophic reasoning, even though he correctly points out that it's a metaphysical issue, and instead gives me several quotes and a supposed satisfactory example from the conduct in the fields of science.

First and foremost, Hume rejected the idea that we could have perception of the causal process -- and stating that we have no right to believe in causality. To touch upon all the issues why he believes this, and what consequences this has after, is a very big topic. I ask of my opponent...does he want to defend Hume? Because not only would I be interested, but obviously there is the nature of Hume's claim being COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to my opponent's goal.

Secondly, you state that if we were to think of any field of science, it would seem that to say something can exist without a cause is to accept all sorts of nonsense...but you fail to follow through with why this is so. I'm puzzled - in what way does reflecting on the fields of science reveal the absurdness of something coming out of nothing, as it is referred? There doesn't seem to be any fundamental scientific principle barring this from happening, especially since there is no such thing as a perfect vacuum -- aka "nothing" -- to begin with[1].

My opponent states that my analysis of the use of "beginning to exist" is semantics, but I see that pulling the card "semantics" is too heavily abused, especially on this website. As it stands, there can probably only be two interpretations of such a statement: either it states that certain things have come into form but obviously the matter that gave it form was always there (such as the earth example), or it literally came into existence. As my opponent would seemingly agree, the former example is definitely plausible while the latter is not. If he agrees, then unfortunately he is also burying his own grave. Because by his own admission, he agrees that more or less that for him to ask whether or not matter always existed is nonsensical - after all, what can COME INTO existence? If you ask me what caused matter, why can't I respond by saying it has always existed? If you point to every other instance of causality, I can simply point out that it was all fundamentally instances of matter being reformed.

This problem stands in stark contrast with your causal principle; that things can have simply always existed or come out of "nothing".

=====================
P2. The universe began to exist.
=====================

"If quantum cosmology is a realistic description of the universe, than we should be using imaginary numbers for all our time variables."

----> This is a problem, because the issues that quantum cosmology/quantum gravity/etc. deals with are highly theoretical, and are concerned with situations in which the physical laws present in reality now weren't so back then. Indeed, during the first few moments of the Big Bang, many of our scientific laws were meaningless given the conditions.

Regarding your alternative proposal, I can simply defer you to this simple reminder: it still helps my case. Because ultimately to get into a cosmological debate will not only subsume this entire debate into a debate about physics, that no undoubtedly is out of either of our expertise, but more importantly, it's the fact that you bring up a theory that can support a nontheistic explanation of the development of the universe. What's more interesting is that the physicists you have cited give very compelling models to the origin and development - Alan Guth, who originated the very well supported inflationary universe theory, advocates a multiverse system, in which universe do begin but they are among an infinite amount of other ones who inflate as well. Indeed, we can go on about what these physicists advocate but ultimately they give convincing models without a theistic element. I simply presented Hawking's example as a case in which even the idea that the universe needs a beginning can be doubted.

Of course, this won't stop here since you will undoubtedly refer to the idea of an actual infinite being impossible, in the context of their being an infinite past. This would point seem to be validated if you argue the universe had a beginning point - fine with me, I can even run with that assumption. Therefore, I will strike the notion about time down in the following section:

=====================
Cardinal assumption about the nature of time
=====================

A key assumption of the KCA is that it is in support of the A-series, in contrast to my support of the B-series. A good summarization can be found here[2], in which "according to The B Theory, there are no genuine, unanalyzable A properties, and all talk that appears to be about A properties is really reducible to talk about B relations. For example, when we say that the year 1900 has the property of being past, all we really mean is that 1900 is earlier than the time at which we are speaking. On this view, there is no sense in which it is true to say that time really passes, and any appearance to the contrary is merely a result of the way we humans happen to perceive the world." The A-theory is the opposite, in which it employs singular predicates as a model of time (two days in the past, two days in the future, etc.) and claims that time is not a mind-dependent phenomena.

While seemingly off topic, it makes a substantial point - an infinite past CAN exist. This is because given the B-theory, which I find to be superior (for reasons I will disclose further on), an infinite past is feasible in this new perspective. This is why Hilbert's Grand Hotel paradox prove useless against it, since it is essentially a dis-analogy. People often ask if the past was infinite how do we reach this point; they would be missing the point because they assume there is some "flow of time", when in fact there isn't given the B-theory.

I will defend this claim by briefly supplying three faults of the A-series: it has inherently contradictory properties (being future in some cases, then in others being the present, etc.); ambiguous terms that can't be resolved without using the relational properties, and it's failure to find an absolute frame of reference.

====================
Conclusion
====================

I haven't responded to the points about the creator being eternal, because though I find extreme faults in then, my opponent has -- whether knowingly or not -- potentially breached into other philosophical topics such as what constitutes a "change" in an entity. Such a discussion is very ambigious and would need a lot of fleshing out, which my character limits can not afford. So I will simply allow him to have that point, though it obviously still relies on his defense of a model of time.

---References---
1.See comment sections
KRFournier

Pro

P1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.

"I ask of my opponent...does he want to defend Hume?"

My objective in bringing up Hume and Mackie was to point out that even opponents to the justification of the causal principle were quoted as admitting to the causal principle as being rational and practically useful. The fact that such great thinkers could oppose its legitimacy yet be forced to accept its rational necessity favors my cause. Citing these men was done to reinforce the futility in denying the causal principle. Indeed, Hume's work in general was skeptical and would be more in line with my opponent's thinking, so I do not wish to leap into that rabbit hole.

"In what way does reflecting on the fields of science reveal the absurdness of something coming out of nothing, as it is referred?"

Reflecting on the fields of science is to analyze our human experience and determine whether or not our theories are reflected in that experience. My opponent says there doesn't seem to be any fundamental scientific principle that refutes the causal principle, which is exactly what I said. However, to say that the principle is unfounded is refuted by direct observational evidence of human experience. Scientists use the causal principle to guide their research with remarkable effectiveness. In science, to say that something is uncaused is to be done with science. If there is no cause, then there is nothing left to test or explore.

The absurdity, therefore, is manifested when one selectively chooses to deny the casual principle when it is most convenient. Certainly my opponent would not stand for it if I were to conveniently deny the causal principle when arguing for miracles. He would insist there being a cause of such extraordinary claims. That is the real point I am making, here. The causal principle is consistently verified and appealed to in our daily experience.

"There doesn't seem to be any fundamental scientific principle barring this from happening, especially since there is no such thing as a perfect vacuum -- aka 'nothing' -- to begin with"

How does he know this? According to his source, "In modern physics, there is no such thing as 'nothing.'" Of course not. How can modern physics, which are bound by physical laws, describe something without physical laws? So, it's not that a perfect vacuum doesn't exist; it's merely that such a thing is not discoverable via scientific method. So, this really isn't an argument against creation ex nihilo. Really, it's a semantical argument over the meaning of "nothing."

"This problem stands in stark contrast with your causal principle; that things can have simply always existed or come out of 'nothing'."

But this is never observed. Even our quantum observations show that the effects have a cause. This is the point of this premise. The only possible example of something being uncaused, that my opponent can think of, is matter. But that begs the question. Whether or not space-time is caused is what we are debating. My opponent is reasoning in a circle. He refutes P1 by assuming P2 as improbable.

I challenged my opponent to present an observable and defensible exception to the causal principle. The issue of matter and time are not observable, are contingent upon this debate, and are therefore wholly inadequate. My opponent can say the causal principle is incoherent all day long, but his inability to present an observable exception speaks with much greater authority.

P2. The universe began to exist.

My opponent seems to cling to the idea that alternative cosmological theories constitute adequate refutation of this premise. It is non sequitur to claim that just because one can conceive something doesn't mean it's true. Indeed, my opponent would never grant me such a luxury. This is really the opposite of argument from ignorance. It is fundamentally fallacious to argue that simply because he can conceive infinite time, it does not follow that the universe is timeless. He must SHOW why a timeless universe is more probable than not.

My opponent points out that my cited physicist, Alan Guth, had his own theory of cosmology. Thank you! That is PRECISELY why I cited him. It was several years FOLLOWING this theory that he worked with other physicists--who had their own infinite universe theories--to develop a theory that debunks their past work! Guth, Borde, and Vilenken's 2003 theory shows that ANY expanding universe--including Guth's inflationary universe--must have a singularity.

I want the readers to pay close attention. TheSkeptic calls Guth's inflationary universe model "well supported" and that, in general, the physicists I've cited have proposed "very compelling" cosmological models. Yet, I have shown that these SAME men have shown those very SAME models to be neither supportable nor compelling. My opponent, therefore, is offering little more than hot air when he states that "ultimately they give convincing models without a theistic element." If the authors of these theories are not convinced, then on what basis does TheSkeptic find them convincing in general?

TheSkeptic's introduction of the B-Theory of time is interesting, to say the least, but is ultimately a red herring. As we've discussed up to this point, regardless of how you conceptualize time, the fact remains that the universe has a singularity. Discussion of B-Theory constitutes a bait-and-switch tactic in which he shows CONCEPTUALIZED time as being actually infinite whereas science has indisputably shown DIMENSIONAL time as finite. [1] The reason so many physicists have endeavored to eliminate the singularity altogether is because it implies that both space and time have a beginning.

Just so I am not accused of glossing over the issue, I will discuss B-theory a bit. The idea behind B-theory, essentially, is that all events--past, present, and future--already exist. What we call cause and effect is simply a matter of linguistics. Given that events simply exist, it is conceivable that there are an actual infinite number of events.

However, this theory does not solve the logical problem of an actual infinite number of things. According to B-theory, events are actual entities. They really exist. Therefore, B-Theory still suffers from Hilbert's Grand Hotel paradox; you cannot have an actual infinite number of real things. You see, my opponent is trying to discount the actual infinity problem by conceptualizing it away. Yes, mathematically, there can be actual infinite sets. Yes, conceptually, there can be actual infinite events. However, this does not refute the impossibility of a realized actual infinity.

My opponent has offered weak alternative theories and possibilities, but nothing to tie those alternatives closer to reality. My opponent must do more than to say, "The universe doesn't NEED a beginning." That is not what is at debate here. The question is, "Does the universe HAVE a beginning?" I have offered plenty of scientific evidence to rationally accept that it does.

CONCLUSION

I have shown real cosmological theories and the more recent theories that refute them. I've argued that cause and effect are observed and used in practical everyday science. My opponent, on the other hand, offers plenty of alternatives that are conceptual, but not applicable.

My opponent has chosen to allow my other points (P3 and P4) to go unanswered for now. I will extend them as is in the event he wishes to address them. However, I submit that if he does not, then any reader that finds my defense of P1 and P2 adequate should consider my remaining points valid as well.

TheSkeptic, as always, is a worthy challenger. I look forward to our final round and the discussion our debate will inevitably generate.

SOURCES
1. http://www.big-bang-theory.com...
Debate Round No. 3
TheSkeptic

Con

First and foremost, I want to thank KRF for this debate about the existence of God - it's been highly enjoyable and informative; hopefully we can have another debate in the near future.

=====================
P1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
=====================

"The fact that such great thinkers could oppose its legitimacy yet be forced to accept its rational necessity favors my cause."

----> When dealing with philosophic issues, there is little to no use in citing the beliefs of prominent philosophers if you're trying to prove or even give suitable support for a premise. Unless the focus of study you are dealing with is the history of philosophy or advancing an interpretation of someone's theory -- in which quoting a philosopher is obviously paramount -- there really isn't a point otherwise. I could probably also find many prominent philosophers who believe that it is legitimate to believe that nothing can come out of nothing, but it's a fruitless endeavor.

Furthermore, your example of science is an equivocation. I agree that science more or less primarily relies on the casual principle, but to say that is the only thing science can tolerate is absurd. To accept the premise that nothing can come out of nothing is NOT THE SAME as saying nothing always comes out of something -- it is indeed a phenomena that does not always happen.

"If there is no cause, then there is nothing left to test or explore."

----> Is not randomness inherent in the universe as says the Copenhagen interpretation[1]? If so, then you submit that randomness can exist, and thus science can't explain such phenomena insofar they can't explain every detail of it's causality -- given there is a randomness factor to it. And yet, the vast majority of physicists are not only comfortable with this but delighted; there is nothing unscientific about indeterminism.

"Certainly my opponent would not stand for it if I were to conveniently deny the causal principle when arguing for miracles."

----> I have never heard of an argument justifying miracles on the basis they happened from acausal means. Furthermore, if you do attempt to do so then all I need to do is ask for some experimental documentation. After all, even if such a phenomena happened there can still be documentation on it.

"The causal principle is consistently verified and appealed to in our daily experience."

----> This is your biggest problem here; just because we always experience your causal principle does NOT mean we are allowed to then say it's an universal principle -- especially since it's a metaphysical principle. It's interesting to note that this is Hume's territory, in which he talks of the problem of induction. Does our daily experience of the world see randomness happen? No, and yet we know it exists in the quantum world. Interestingly enough, we don't see randomness in the macro world; though a discussion for why this is so is best served in another debate. My point is, just because you see your causal premise in work in our daily experiences does not mean it's exceptions are excluded.

"So, it's not that a perfect vacuum doesn't exist; it's merely that such a thing is not discoverable via scientific method."

----> No, it's more like science is saying there is no such thing as a perfect vacuum because energy/matter always existed. The reason there is no perfect vacuum is because of the ground state[2], in which even the lowest state has some energy in it.

"My opponent can say the causal principle is incoherent all day long, but his inability to present an observable exception speaks with much greater authority."

----> Well that's just disingenuous, I gave you an entire article that cites examples of creation ex nihilo. Here it is again[3]. Sure, you could say that it still presumes energy and matter still exist, which brings us to the question of whether or not it's sensible that matter has always existed -- and indeed, I'd argue there's no reason to believe this is not the case. You say I'm reasoning in a circular fashion...but by refuting P1 in arguing that P2 is improbable? This is in no way circular; it's obvious that there's an obvious dependent relationship between P1 and P2 for the validity of P1 or P2 affects the other.

The problem is that you have yet to supply any scientific or philosophic reason to believe in your casual premise. The only rationale you use is that it's been confirmed by our daily experience and that there is no dis-confirming instances of it. The first reason fails because by the same reasoning randomness wouldn't exist, and the latter crumbles since I have done such.

=====================
P2. The universe began to exist.
=====================

"TheSkeptic calls Guth's inflationary universe model "well supported"...Yet, I have shown that these SAME men have shown those very SAME models to be neither supportable nor compelling."
----> Before I begin, I want to point this out: where in the world does this appear? The three men may reject an infinite-past universe, but not model's such as the inflationary universe model. In fact, more than anything they should accept it -- especially with things such as the direct results from the first Cosmic Background Explorer in 2006[4].

My opponent misses the entire point of our discussion in this section. As I stated before, the competition between scientific theories supporting a finite universe or an infinite universe doesn't really matter to me since they all are plausible WITHOUT a God in the picture. So let's assume the universe had an origin and go along with that:

He states that my discussion of the B-theory of time is interesting but a red herring...what? Your premise that an infinite-past universe is contingent on accepting the A-theory. If I can show that this is false, then the fuel behind your argument is gone. So even if I were to let you assume the universe had an origin, if I can show that this can arise from purely physical means, have always existed, or simply came out of nothing then there is no room for God. All probable explanations are ATHEISTIC.

His responses to the B-theory once again hinges on the alleged impossibility of an actual infinity. Yes, it seems compelling this is true but what we are talking about is an ACTUAL infinity, not an actual infinite number of real things. For example, do we not have an infinite future? Furthermore, he has stated before that Zeno's paradoxes do not give an adequate answer...but shows no reason why this is so. I'd argue it's a brilliant counterexample -- the movement between point A and point B takes an infinite amount of finite events (spatial and temporal) by the simple virtue of division, which I'd argue shows the feasibility of actual infinites.

Given the B-theory we don't have to worry about an infinite-past DUE TO IT'S CONCLUSIONS. Given there is no flow of time, B-theory isn't distraught with the same problems concerning infinities; it escapes it.

======================
Conclusion
======================

I want to clarify that the reason it seems that I am shift with my position on cosmological theories is that it doesn't matter for the purpose of the debate. Because ultimately, it's the case that all probable explanations of the universe' origin are ATHEISTIC -- they are not written with problems that my opponent so alleges. All cosmological theories, whether infinite-past or not do not have a theistic element. Assuming there was a singularity, the problem of past infinity is no trouble given the acceptance of the B-theory of time. If both pillars are gone, what foundation does the theist have for this argument at all? None.

The last two premises are, to be honest, riddled with philosophical holes but that best serves for another debate. Even granting their validity, this debate boils down to P1 and P2.

---References---
See comment sections.
KRFournier

Pro

I once again thank TheSkeptic for this courteous yet rigorous dialog.

P1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.

My opponent rightly points out that "just because we always experience [my] causal principle does NOT mean we are allowed to then say it's an universal principle." I will admit that Hume's problem of induction gives us reason to doubt the principle as a universal and abstract law. However, I still contend this principle is rational. It is more parsimonious to assume this principle is true for at least three reasons:

1. It is consistently observed. (We see cause and effect everywhere.)
2. Science presupposes it. (What caused that?)
3. It is a property of time. (Events caused by prior events.)

Using a favorite atheist quip, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is reasonable to consider anything uncaused to be extraordinary. It is important, however, to note the difference between uncaused and indeterminate. This principle does not deny the unpredictability found in quantum physics, since something random can very well still have a cause. Indeed, quantum physicists have not given up the search for cause, even though the causes of such random events will indeed prove elusive. Why would science continue if not for this principle?

My opponent uses a straw man argument when he argues that premise P1 and P2 are interdependent. In so doing, he can use his rejection of P2 to reject P1, a simple defeat of an argument I am not making. I submit that the causal principle stands on its own and have done so from the beginning. To say that such interdependence is "obvious" without substantiation is further evidence of this straw man tactic.

While this principle is not a universal law that can be induced, it is nevertheless rational. Logically accepting this premise as valid should at the very least be considered more rational than to call upon it when it is convenient but reject it when dealing with metaphysical topics such as these.

P2. The universe began to exist.

My opponent puts all his eggs his basket as made evident in his concluding remarks. He says, "All cosmological theories, whether infinite-past or not do not have a theistic element." This is a blatant straw man attempt to win the debate. I NEVER used P2 to argue for God's existence! It was he that chose to ignore P3 and P4, which bridges the gap between a universe with a beginning to a personal creator.

My only purpose in this premise is to show that the universe had a beginning. The Inflationary Universe model places our expanding universe into a larger EXPANDED universe of expanding universes. Guth, the one that developed the model, later showed that ALL expanding universes must have a singularity and, therefore, a beginning.

My opponent's discussion of B-theory is quite simply poor scholarship. He says we are talking about ACTUAL infinity and not an actual infinite number of real things. Thus, he is ignoring my argument by appealing to an abstract concept. I already pointed out the difference between these things. Let me reiterate:

1. Actual infinity (a concept of an infinite set that is already complete. Also called a Complete infinity.)
2. Potential infinity (a concept of an set that grows indefinitely but, at any given point, is finite.)
3. Actual infinite number of things (a realized complete infinity.)

1 and 2 are valid as they are conceptual and useful. Number 3 is impossible. My opponent has not shown that it is impossible except to appeal to Zeno's paradox. He says I never showed Zeno's paradox to be inadequate. Allow me to quote from Round 2, "My opponent engages in equivocation when presenting the Zeno paradox, which does not illustrate an ACTUAL infinity, but a POTENTIAL infinity." (emphasis added) I don't know how to make my objection any clearer than this.

B-theory does not escape the problem of an actual number of things because it ASSUMES it. Therefore, B-theory is not an adequate refutation of my assertion that an infinite number of things are impossible. Furthermore, my opponent did not answer my objection that B-theory deals with conceptual time rather than dimensional time. Dimensional time, according to general relativity, has a beginning.

I think I have adequately supported this premise by using modern cosmological models, correcting my opponent's misuse of actual/complete infinity, and refuting the applicability of B-theory.

C1. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

If whatever begins to exist has a cause (P1) and the universe began to exist (P2), then the universe has a cause.

P3. The first cause must be eternal.
P4. All eternal causes of temporal effects must be personal.

My opponent has simple written these off as "riddled with philosophical holes." He is confident that he has shown P1 and P2 to be inadequate to argue for God's existence. As I already pointed out, P1 and P2 were never meant to argue for God's existence--only that the universe has a cause. While I was willing to drop P5 and P6 in Round 2, I never conceded these arguments. They are vital to my case and their dismissal should not go unnoticed to the voters.

C2. The universe was caused by a personal creator.

If the universe has a cause (C1), and the cause must be eternal (P3), then the universe has an eternal cause. If the universe has an eternal cause and all eternal causes of temporal effects must be personal (P4), then the universe must have been caused by a personal agent.

CONCLUSION

I thank the readers for taking time to consider this dialog. No doubt there will be many readers that think one side had the better position, but I respectfully ask you to vote on the merits of our arguments themselves. Even if you disagree with my position, if you feel I argued more effectively, I ask you to give me the vote for convincing argument. The same goes for the reverse. However, I feel a conduct vote for me is merited given my opponent's dismissal of arguments and attempts to merge arguments that I purposely separated. That being said, I recognize that voting remains solely your discretion.

Thank you again, TheSkeptic, for forcing me to exercise my debate skills. It's always a pleasure to debate you.
Debate Round No. 4
89 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
And you did that by demonstrating different possibilities for the Bing Bang that did not require God. One of those was the Multiverse. I just think that Pro's arguments were better: more comprehensive, less flawed, and more likely to be true and hence they were "arguments for the existence of God" that were valid.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
You guys are missing the point of my argument...I wasn't supporting an alternative theory to the Big Bang, I'm just saying that all likely alternatives to the question of the cosmos can be fulfilled without God.
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
I agree with Pro in this case. Causality occurs within the context of time; if there is no time then there can be no causality. The initial state of the singularity could be an uncaused initial state at t=0; then time & physics begins: cause & effect, etc. To even ask what happened before t=0 is illogical because the question has no meaning.

On the other hand, I disagree with Pro in the sense that I do not believe in the MWI. Instead, I think that the singularity at the beginning of Universe is the ultimate singularity. As such, it must contain all that is; otherwise, it is not the Universe and would lead to certain contradictions as it evolves.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Absolutely untrue, I never states that there is no scientific findings suggesting the universe had beginning - my point is that he had no reason to affirm his casual principle. He didn't present any scientific or philosophic reasoning for it; saying it's an important question in physics is a red herring. Do you?
Posted by Mangani 7 years ago
Mangani
One more thing- if Pro had not dropped everything but P1, P2, and C1 he would have easily lost in my opinion. Half of his first argument is garbage considering the logic in the first half.
Posted by Mangani 7 years ago
Mangani
As to the argument regarding the beginning of existence, though Con claims there is no basis for such a claim, in fact it is this question that drives almost every scientific inquiry into the universe. Indeed there are various theories discussing the "origins" of the universe, and you cannot discuss the "origins" of anything without attempting to answer the question of when that something began to exist. Con took his arguments regarding this question as the defining argument of this debate, and supposed that because there is no scientific findings suggesting the universe had a beginning, rather it always existed, and therefore Pro's argument is invalid. I did not find that Pro had to "prove" that something in existence "has" to have an origin, rather as a judge he easily convinced me that this is a logical argument. And that is why I voted Pro- Con cites philosophers, scientists, etc., but citing them does not require agreement from the audience, especially when their citations are not convincing in their own right.

I didn't feel Con ever adequately negated the premise- something exists, it came into existence, it had an eternal cause, ie. God. Though there were flaws in both arguments, perfection in argumentative style and delivery would negate the need for debate.

Before/After- Pro
Conduct- Tie
S&G- Tie
Arguments- Pro
Sources- Pro
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
I too had a problem with the statement "begins to exist"; however, I think that it might refer to begins to exist as what we know to be the Universe. In other words, it existed previously in another state. If not, then it would certainly be a contradiction in and of itself because it would imply something coming from nothing. As far as knowing whether "something can come from nothing", this most certainly is a contradiction because "nothing," in this context, is a contradiction in meaning. Nothing does not exist because it has no real meaning; contradictions do not exist (physically.)
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
RFD:
Conduct: Tie
S&G: Tie
Sources: Tie
Arguments: Pro

I think that there inaccuracies on both sides but more so on Con. I think more definitions in the beginning would have eliminated certain inaccuracies. Time is one of those terms as well as Universe.
Posted by sashaperry 7 years ago
sashaperry
I voted Pro, even though i am Bias towards the con. I feel that the Pros arguements were much better exicuted!
Posted by Floid 7 years ago
Floid
The voting issue to me was the arguments hinging on "begins to exist has a cause of its existence."

The con was right in saying that pro has no basis for assuming this true. In the context of what is being discussed here, we have absolutely no experience in something "beginning to exist" so we don't know whether "something can come from nothing" or not. Our only experiences are with pre-existing matter and energy changing forms to more (or less) complex configurations. In those cases we see that there is always a cause for this changing of forms. But we have no experience with matter or energy coming into existence (besides the referenced quantum mechanics phenomenon), so we do not have the proper information to make any such claim as "that which begins to exist has a cause".
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