The Instigator
kenballer
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Thrasymachus
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

The God Hypothesis qualifies as the best scientific explanation for the origins of existence

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/14/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 958 times Debate No: 21155
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kenballer

Pro

The God Hypothesis indeed qualifies as a scientific explanation for several reasons. it is a rational hypothesis, it does not violate occam's razor, there is enough evidence that would describe the nature of this cause and connect the data points to this cause, and its falsifiable:

1. Logically, there cannot be an infinite regress of causes, which means there has to be an uncaused first cause. Since this is the case, this cause would have to be limitless and have no flaws or weaknesses. In addition, This first cause could not be the universe itself because if time was infinite we would of never of gotten here.

2. Now, its time to connect the data points to the God Hypothesis:
The Space-Time Theorem of General Relativity clearly shows that space, time, and matter and energy all had a concrete beginning. This means whatever caused it could not of been a natural cause where there is measurable dimensions to it. If there could not be any dimensions to it, then there cannot be a beginning or end to the cause. If there was not time before it, then the cause would be timeless. Thus, the attribute of this cause would be omni-present, eternal, and immaterial.

The fundamental laws and constants of nature came into being immediately after the big bang perfectly calibrated ,within an infinite set of values, to allow the existence of intelligent life. This not only suggest that the cause is intelligent but the degree of intelligence and knowledge would be infinite for the cause to choose the right values every time within an infinite set. Thus, the attribute of this cause must be omniscience.

Our universe was created out of nothing perfectly fine-tuned to support life from the very beginning. This is the definition of a miracle which is something that defies the laws of physics. Thus, the attribute of this cause must be omni-potent.

Life could not and did not exist around the time the singularity expanded and "life comes from life?" , according to existing data. In addition, Information only comes from minds and outside of a system and the DNA has an unbelievable amount of information. This along with every other empirical oberservations show that only intelligent life can create other intelligent life. There is virtually no observations showing simple life forms becoming or creating complex life forms. Thus, the cause of the big bang would not only have to be the cause for the existence of life but intelligent life.

Lastly, this cause would have to be a personal disembodied mind for it to have the personal desire to create the universe and then freely choose to act upon that desire to create a finely tuned universe that allows the existence of intelligent life from the very beginning. Then, choose the planet Earth, over a trillion other planets, to inhabit intelligent life.

3. The God Hypothesis does not violate Occam's Razor, which is the simplest explanation should always be favored over the complex ones. The reason why the God Hypothesis is the simplest explanation is because its a rational hypothesis that is also supported by many points of data as I demonstrated earlier. It postulates only one cause and its falsifiable, which leads me to my last segment here.

4. If you could demonstrate how the cause of the universe could still be natural, then it would completely negate and falsify the God hypothesis entirely. you can either do this or do it the hard way and falsify each of my claims I made about the universe.

Its your call
Thrasymachus

Con


Thanks to Kenballer for the topic. Given PROs account, it would seem sufficient for me to knock over the evidence PRO offers to successfully defeat PROs resolution and win the debate. If PRO doesn't like this, I'll happily introduce positive arguments (like evil) in later rounds. I don't intend to challenge simplicity or Occam's razor issues: we don't need to talk about simple hypotheses when God doesn't explain the data.


PRO points to three lines of evidence:



  1. The 'beginning of the universe'

  2. Cosmic fine tuning

  3. Origin of life


Suggests each of these firstly are inexplicable on naturalism, and also do some work filling in the properties of the divine creator. Let us defeat these in turn:


The beginning of the Universe


PRO asserts that, "Logically, there cannot be an infinite regress of causes, which means there has to be an uncaused first cause. Since this is the case, this cause would have to be limitless and have no flaws or weaknesses. In addition, This first cause could not be the universe itself because if time was infinite we would of never of gotten here."


This seems wrong on all counts. There seems nothing logically impossible that there be an infinite regress of causes - I can conceive it without contradiction, and some sets just don't have a first member (cf. the negative integers). Further, we don't need to say that the universe being first cause entails a past infinite, and even if we did that doesn't mean we'd 'never have gotten here', as we can have (for all we know) hypertasks and things like that. So PRO has simply provided no support that the only option to explain the beginning of the universe is God, let alone this is more plausible than other counter-offers.


PRO also urges that this cause must "have no flaws or weaknesses", "omnipresent, eternal, and immaterial". Yet none of his reasoning demonstrates these conclusions. There's nothing to say that the cause of the universe could just be some naturalistic phenomenon (there's nothing saying there can't be a physics of the singularity), or a quirk in the aether (there's nothing demonstrating this cause need have any sense of agency), or even that it still exists now (maybe our cause was expended in the Big Bang). Until PRO provides reasons to rule these out, then the cause of the universe does not need to have suitably God-like qualities.



Cosmic fine tuning


Pro points to cosmic fine tuning, "The fundamental laws and constants of nature came into being immediately after the big bang perfectly calibrated ,within an infinite set of values, to allow the existence of intelligent life."


Yet PRO (or anyone else) has no idea about the range of values, or what proportion of these are life permitting. The best he could offer is "as far as I can tell, life is rare in my local field of epistemic possibilities given the laws of physics as we know them". Yet this is woefully insufficient to motivate his case. So we have no evidence of 'fine tuning' in the sense PRO requires.


Even if he did have such a case, another putative explanation would be a multiverse ensemble that exhausts all relevant possibilities. PRO has said nothing to rule it out.


It also strikes me as obvious you don't need to omniscient to know what the relevant values of the constants are to have a life permitting universe. So even if we accepted cosmic fine tuning, that wouldn't demonstrate the omniscience of the fine tuner.



Origin of Life


PRO mashes together a variety of concerns to make his origin of life case, "Life could not and did not exist around the time the singularity expanded and "life comes from life?" , according to existing data. In addition, Information only comes from minds and outside of a system and the DNA has an unbelievable amount of information. This along with every other empirical oberservations [sic] show that only intelligent life can create other intelligent life."


No argument from me there wasn't life at the big bang. However, we have a pretty neat (albeit incomplete) account of how life kicked off and developed billions of years later: evolutionary biology and abiogenesis stuff, respectively. The evidence for evolutionary mechanisms is pretty overwhelming, and although mechanisms of abiogenesis are controversial, there seem several plausible candidates with tangential evidential support (RNA world, PNAs, etc. etc.) It seems PRO would need to show not only are these accounts wrong, but that we should believe there is no prospect of any satisfactory account being made.


PRO's case doesn't do that. We don't have direct empirical observations of abiogenesis, but we also don't have direct empirical observations of metamorphic rock formation, gravitational forces between superclusters, or the french revolution. Yet we allow ourselves to piece together what happened based on clues we can observe - so there's no in principle objection to natural history, and any in practice objection needs to engage with the field (which PRO has not done).


Standard information theory says nothing like "Information only comes from minds" (maybe ID does, if so: so much the worse for public conceptual literacy). On standard measures of information (like Shannon Entropy, Komolgorov complexity, and others), you get information all the time as an inverse of entropy. Low entropy states (like crystals) have high mutual information as you can infer where other atoms in the crystal are from the fact it is a crystal; conversely, high entropy states (like gas), have low mutual information, and so a lot is unknown.


In the case of DNA, the information (in the sense scientists use the term) of the string can be increased by duplicating it and fiddling with the 'second copy', amongst many other things, without recourse to divine intervention (you could also do it by scrambling repeat sequences, adding on more bases, etc.) As an aside, DNA doesn't have an 'incredible amount of information' - I can store the information in your genome, wholly uncompressed, with a couple of gigs of hard disk space.


Further, PROs case, even if it was show, does not demand some moral agency choosing life as he suggests. Non-conscious vivogenic principles in the universe (or aether) are epistemically possible.



The story so far


None of PROs putative evidences are remotely plausible. Even if they were, they do not go far enough in suggesting a God in any recognizable (let alone Theistic) sense of the term.


Debate Round No. 1
kenballer

Pro

1."There's nothing to say that the cause of the universe could just be some naturalistic phenomenon (there's nothing saying there can't be a physics of the singularity), or a quirk in the aether (there's nothing demonstrating this cause need have any sense of agency), or even that it still exists now (maybe our cause was expended in the Big Bang). "

CON did not explain exactly how the cause could still be natural since the Space-Time Theorem of General Relativity, which shows that space, time, and matter and energy all had a concrete beginning, clearly preaches against this possibility. If he did explain and demonstrate how it could still be natural, he would falsify the God hypothesis. Plain and simple. I await his response.

According to the Space-time theorem,This cause must be changeless, timeless, and immaterial being which created the universe. it must be timeless and therefore changeless without the universe because it created time. Since it also created space, it must transcend space as well and must therefore be immaterial not physical. There are only two possible candidates that can possibly fit such a description: either an abstract object (like a number) or a disembodied mind (or consciousness). However, abstract objects do not stand in casual relationships. For instance, the number 9 cannot anything and therefore it follows logically that the transcended cause of the universe is an disembodied mind.

2. Now, CON claims that even if we accept the notion of a cosmic designer, it would not follow that this cause is all knowing.

I have already explained this.The laws and constants fall under an extraordinarily narrow range of life permitting values. If constants were to be altered by less than a hair, the life-permitting balance would be destroyed and life would not exist. This cause was able to choose the right value every time. Then, it also follows that this cause new to not choose all the wrong values within an INFINITE set of values. Therefore, the knowledge of this being would be infinite.

3."However, we have a pretty neat (albeit incomplete) account of how life kicked off and developed billions of years later: evolutionary biology and abiogenesis stuff, respectively."

CON never really explains or demonstrates how life can come from non-life, so I cannot effectively falsify his objection. He is going to need to be clearer. Experiment after experiment shows that life comes from life and complex life forms create other complex life forms. That's what the evidence points to today. CON has not provided evidence that shows life comes from non life or that simple life forms can produce complex life forms.
Thrasymachus

Con


Last time I demonstrated that none of PROs contentions withstood scrutiny, and thus PRO had failed to support his resolution. As PRO's latest reply is mainly a repeat of arguments and claims already refuted, I’ll take the opportunity to further extend and elaborate on my rebuttals.



‘Beginning of the Universe’


PRO started off by claiming the best explanation of the universe was a timeless, immaterial etc. God. PRO seems to think that general relativity somehow proves there must be some generative cause of the universe, and this cause must lie ‘outside’ our usual physical stuff like time and space.


Yet GR says no such thing. It doesn’t demand there be some ‘kick off’ cause to the universe, still less this cause must be timeless spaceless etc. Indeed, GR says the opposite: that the universe had no cause at all. For if B-theory (that past present and future exist as some n+1D block), then:


On a B-Theory of time, the universe does not in fact come into being or become actual at the Big Bang; it just exists tenselessly as a four-dimensional space-time block that is finitely extended in the earlier than direction. If time is tenseless, then the universe never really comes into being, and, therefore, the quest for a cause of its coming into being is misconceived. (Craig and Sinclair 2009.) [1]


It just so happens that B theory is the prevailing view amongst physicists, philosophers of physics, philosophers of time, etc.[2] So far from our modern physics being best explained by good, our best physics suggests the universe had no cause whatsoever, leave alone one with appropriate divine attributes.


Grant for argument’s sake PROs claims about physics. Would it follow that the cause has divine attributes? PRO relies on a bizarre false dichotomy where the only options are abstracta and immaterial minds (and so eliminating abstract guarantees the cause must be an immaterial mind). Yet why on earth think these are the only two options? Why not have some sort of non-naturalistic aether without agency, for example? Or a generating principle without agency? Or (as we’ve seen PRO’s ‘must be timeless/spaceless/immaterial because GR’ case is actually turned) why not just some pre-Big bang naturalistic state of affairs? No reason is offered.


So PROs reliance on GR to arrive at a non-naturalistic cause of the universe is not actually supported by the science – indeed, the science best suggests a tenseless, uncaused universe. So this reason doesn’t get off the ground.


PRO originally claimed that an infinite regress of causes was impossible. PRO has not responded to my rebuttal (R2) demonstrating that infinite regresses are conceivably possible, and that the universe being part of an infinite series of causes implies we’d ‘never have gotten here.



Fine tuning argument


PRO has not responded to my rebuttal that we lack access to say there is fine-tuning, as we don’t know the field of possibilities to say whether life permitting universes are rare. Until he does so, this reason has no merit.


PRO also offered nothing to rebut a multiverse ensemble, which would also explain the fine tuning data without recourse to a divine being – again, until he does, this reason has no merit.


PRO asserts this round (again) that you’d need infinite knowledge to be able to know what the right constants would be because they are from an infinite range of values. Again this is false. The only thing a putative cosmic designer would need to know is the solution for what values are needed, which will be no more than a few numbers. To rebut omniscience, I merely need to show some proposition this designer need not know yet still be able to create a life permitting universe. This is really easy (“I like cake” would be one among the uncountable set of propositions). So PRO has no case for omniscience (although such a case would require PRO to show there really is fine tuning, which he has not done).



Origin of life


PRO seems to think it is my job to come up with a story of origin of life, and then so long as PRO can rebut it he has evidence for God. Not so. For the origin of life stuff to provide evidence for God, he’d need to show that the god explanation is more plausible than naturalistic counter-offer. Onus is on PRO to show that naturalistic explanations of these things are sufficiently deficient that we’d favour the God explanation.


So I’ve simply settled for showing PROs offered reasons are unreasonable. I’ve pointed out previously that the fact we don’t have experiments of life ‘coming from non-life’ is not evidence against abiogenesis, any more so than our lack of experiments of rock ‘coming from sand’ is evidence against geology (PRO repeats this point despite me making this rebuttal last round). Slow processes like these are not directly observable by experiment. What we can do is look into the past and try and infer what happened with our best understanding of the mechanisms involved. The fields of evolutionary biology and abiogenesis do this, and their conclusion is not “there is no hope of finding a naturalistic explanation of life coming from non life, or complex life forms from simple ones”. Until PRO shows why we should think otherwise, he has no case.


I note PRO dropped the information argument re. DNA.



Conclusion


The objections I have made last round and which PRO has dropped this round would be sufficient to defeat PROs case even if everything he said in R2 was true. However, PROs R2 consists of repeating arguments I have already defeated, or offering new reasons I have shown to be flawed. For my part, I’ve further extended my criticisms, showing the following:



  1. Our best understanding of science means the universe has no cause at all. Even if it did, there is no warrant to say this cause has any divine attributes.

  2. We have no grounds to say the universe is fine-tuned. Even if we did, there is no warrant to say the designer would need attributes like omnipotence.

  3. The facts of our natural history remain fertile and fecund grounds of scientific inquiry, with an excellent track record of filling in explanations. So assuming they cannot provide satisfactory explanations of evolution or abiogenesis is unwarranted.


For these reasons, PROs case is moribund.


Thrasymachus



References


(1) Craig, W L. and Sinclair, J D. (2009) The Kalam Cosmological Argument. pp. 183-184 In Craig, W L and Moreland, J P. (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Blackwell Publishing: Oxford.


(2) Philpapers Survey here: http://philpapers.org....... Note that B theorists outnumber A theorists 2:1 generally, and this ratio increases when considering relevant specialists.


Debate Round No. 2
kenballer

Pro

kenballer forfeited this round.
Thrasymachus

Con

Extend all arguments, etc.
Debate Round No. 3
kenballer

Pro

Beginning of the Universe

1."Yet GR says no such thing. It doesn't demand there be some ‘kick off' cause to the universe, still less this cause must be timeless spaceless etc. Indeed, GR says the opposite: that the universe had no cause at all"

If CON is arguing that the causal principle only operates "temporally" between "temporally" related entities, then he is assuming a big burden of proof. What he is saying is just an assertion NOT a fact. The onus is on him. Otherwise, CON will be engaging in what is called the "Taxi-cab" fallacy "when one hops in and assumes a certain system of thought or worldview in an attempt to make a particular point but then jumps out of the system of thought when it suits their fancy".

In science, every effect has an explanation but CON wants to arbritraily stop at the beginning of the universe. In other words, he would be special pleading and violating the Principle of Sufficient reason.

2. "Yet why on earth think these are the only two options? Why not have some sort of non-naturalistic aether without agency, for example? Or a generating principle without agency? Or (as we���?��?�ve seen PRO���?��?�s ���?��?must be timeless/spaceless/immaterial because GR���?��?� case is actually turned) why not just some pre-Big bang naturalistic state of affairs? No reason is offered."

CON is unable to articulate or clarify in better terms what he means, so I don't feel obligated to explain why those cannot be the cause. If CON really feels the cause can be metaphysical but yet have no agency, then he needs to explain and demonstrate more clearly how. I have to be able to falsify this metaphysical claim or it cannot be considered a scientific explanation. Remember the title of the debate is about the best SCIENTIFIC explanation not philosophical one. The God hythopothesis is falsfiable making it one of the reasons why its a scienctific explanation even though the cause is metaphysical in nature.

Now, in terms of a naturalistic cause, CON has yet to demonstrate how it could still be a natural cause despite what the space-time theorem implies. If he can successfully demonstrate this, then he would falsify the God hypothesis. I still await for this from CON.

3."So PROs reliance on GR to arrive at a non-naturalistic cause of the universe is not actually supported by the science ���?�" indeed, the science best suggests a tenseless, uncaused universe."

Again, CON did not demonstrate, explain or provided evidence why things can come into being without a cause.

4."There seems nothing logically impossible that there be an infinite regress of causes - I can conceive it without contradiction, and some sets just don't have a first member (cf. the negative integers). Further, we don't need to say that the universe being first cause entails a past infinite, and even if we did that doesn't mean we'd 'never have gotten here', as we can have (for all we know) hypertasks and things like that. "

Well first off, its one thing to concieve of an infinite regress of causes, but its another thing to translate it in the physical world. So CON conceiveing of it in his mind does not count, he must demonstrate how by giving an example of an infinite set within the real world like proving the universe is infinite. For instance, a perfect circle is mathematically possible but actually drawing a perfect circle in general is impossible.

If the universe never began to exist, then the number of past events would be infinite. For example, if I told someone that before I go to bed to sleep I would flip the light switch for an infinite amount of times, would I be able to go to bed still? the answer is NO. Since Time is part of the universe and therefore signifies the motion of matter, then it follows that if time was infinite we would of never of gotten here in the first place.

Lastly, again, CON needs to remember the title of the debate. What's the best SCIENTIFIC explanation NOT philosophical one. I was not using the first cause argument as an actual argument for God's existence. I was using it to establish an hypothesis that can be translated within the physical world, which is what the scientific method would require, that would eventually show that the God hypothesis is the best explanation for origins of the universe.

Fine tuning

5."PRO has not responded to my rebuttal that we lack access to say there is fine-tuning, as we don?t know the field of possibilities to say whether life permitting universes are rare. Until he does so, this reason has no merit."

Well first off, PRO has not any even explained how there could be more than one universe in the first place so posing these alternatives makes his point moot. However, for the sake of argument, let's assume there is more than one universe that could exist outside of our own.

Second, to clarify my fine-tuning, Fine-tuning just means that the laws and constants fall under an extraordinarily narrow range of life permitting values in which the right value was chosen every time. Therefore, this is called fine tuning, but it does not mean its design. A cosmic designer would be one of the explanation of this fine-tuning that I am advocating but the terms are not synonymous.

An alternative explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe is physical necessity ( i.e. laws of nature) which is what CON is referring to in the above quote. The problem with this being the explanation is that the fine-tuning constants and values do not apply to the laws of nature and are independent of them. So this explanation has to be automatically ruled out.

6."PRO also offered nothing to rebut a multiverse ensemble, which would also explain the fine tuning data without recourse to a divine being ? again, until he does, this reason has no merit."

The other alternative explanation is based on chance. The problem with this explanation is that it does not answer the question as to why this "life-permitting" universe exist. All it does is just beg the question of "well, it just has to exist" because under a large number or infinite number of universes its possible that there could be at least one life permitting universe from an infinite or large number of chances.

7."PRO asserts this round (again) that you?d need infinite knowledge to be able to know what the right constants would be because they are from an infinite range of values. "

Another reference to why we can conclude this being to be all-knowing. Principle of Universality states, that the same general scientific principles are probably true throughout the cosmos.This principle can bring us to the conclusion that by extracting from the unknown amount of intelligence in the natural sciences to the most likely degree of intelligence that is applicable throughout the cosmos.

Since the universe is semi-infinite in the future, there's potentially an infinite number of mathematical relations out there to be discovered. Each of these relations by definition represents a small amount of cosmic intelligence waiting to be understood, so it follows that the universe must necessarily possess an infinite degree of mathematical intelligence.

Origin of life

8."The fields of evolutionary biology and abiogenesis do this, and their conclusion is not ?there is no hope of finding a naturalistic explanation of life coming from non life, or complex life forms from simple ones?. Until PRO shows why we should think otherwise, he has no case."

The origin of life argument was suppose to be connected to the beginning of the universe and the fine-tuning claim. If the data point from the beginning of the universe and fine-tuning claim are true, then it follows that the origin of life and complex life forms came from the same source. Therefore, we would have reason to believe in the God hypothesis explanation. So tell you what, I will just push aside this data point and just focus on the other references of fact in order to be reasonable for now.
Thrasymachus

Con

Welcome back.

The beginning of the universe

In the past rounds I demonstrated that our best physics suggests there is no (temporally) first cause of the universe, and there is only a beginning in the sense of our spacetime block having a finite boundary in the earlier than direction. So this knocks out Kalam-esque claims for the 'cause of the universe'.

Now PRO opts for Leibnizian style concerns about explanation of the universe.[1] So the universe requires some sort of metaphysical cause or explanation. There seem to be several (independent, and sufficient for rebuttal) options here.

  1. Deny the PSR. Certain bits of physics (like Bell’s inequality)[1], seem to violate PSR in that there are no explanations for particular events rather than particular other events. Even if we had no empirical refutation, our evidential support for the PSR is in a narrow set of circumstances – extrapolating from these to the universe itself is unwarranted.
  2. (related to 1) Hold the universe (or this particular universe) is a brute fact. Brute facts are explanatorily not great, but we’d need a better explanation in the offing somewhere, and Theism would only be superior if we held (stipulated to be) metaphysically necessary entities as superior explanations, which seems tenuous. Besides:
  3. You can always claim the universe itself is necessary. For all I know it is.

PRO might want to accuse me of the taxi-cab fallacy (whatever that is). If so, he’s in error. What is really going on is PRO is gesturing at (although never explicitly stating) a particular line of argument, I clarify it and show a variety of ways this argument would not be successful, and then PRO changes tack to another sort-of-but-never-presented argument. So here we are again.

PRO went on to argue this explanation/first cause/whatever of the universe must be a sort of God, thanks to a crazy false dichotomy that the only possible explanations are abstract objects or disembodied minds. When I point to some third option (like a universe-generating aether), he says that isn’t on:

“I have to be able to falsify this metaphysical claim or it cannot be considered a scientific explanation. Remember the title of the debate is about the best SCIENTIFIC explanation not philosophical one[sic]. The God hythopothesis [sic] is falsfiable[sic] making it one of the reasons why its[sic] a scienctific[sic] explanation even though the cause is metaphysical in nature.”

I don’t think many philosophers of science are Popperian falsificationists anymore.[2] But even granting that there is no reason why with respect to this datum God is better falsifiable over metaphysical objects like universe generators. The available data simply underdetermines whether it is God or some non-naturalistic whatever. Anyway, to make it falsifiable, just suppose it is some Dharmic conception of the divine which would be falsified by the lack of the right sort of transcendental experience.

PRO repeats his assertion that the ‘spacetime continuum’ somehow shows naturalistic causes to be impossible. He’s never argued for this, and I’ve refuted my own charitable reconstructions. He also repeats his claim that infinite regresses are impossible (not answering the hypertask possibility I raised back in R1).

PRO has not provided any good cosmological-style evidence for the existence of God. And even if he did, the data woefully underdetermines whether it would be God or something else entirely.

Fine tuning[3]

I demonstrated in previous rounds that we lack access to say whether our universe is fine tuned, that a multiverse ensemble is a plausible counter offer, and besides, the fine tuner need not be omniscient (or even conscious).

PRO misunderstands the first objection. Although he points to ‘all these other possibilities’ that are not life permitting, we don’t know whether they are real possibilities. We have no idea how the ‘values were set’ at the universes generation: perhaps it is necessarily just this way, or maybe the possibilities range to wholly alien physics. If we use physical or metaphysical possibility, we have no access to say the universe is finely tuned (as we know of no such possibilities that are not life permitting), if we use epistemic possibility, we have to consider the epistemic space of all possible laws of physics, which is impossible. So we have no ground to say the universe is fine-tuned in the ‘out of the space of possibilities the universe could have turned out, life permitting universes are really small’.

PRO wants to rule out multiverses because it is not explanation: but surely it is. Seeing ourselves in life permitting universe is unsurprising if there are vast numbers of universes and the weak anthropic principle, in the same way it’d be unsurprising to see me keep drawing royal flushes if a mad alien race meant annihilated the universe if I didn’t draw one. So yes, if there are multiverses, a life permitting universe does ‘just have to exist’.

PRO answered the wrong bit of my ‘no grounds for omniscience’ claim. Here’s what I wrote:

PRO asserts this round (again) that you’d need infinite knowledge to be able to know what the right constants would be because they are from an infinite range of values. Again this is false. The only thing a putative cosmic designer would need to know is the solution for what values are needed, which will be no more than a few numbers. To rebut omniscience, I merely need to show some proposition this designer need not know yet still be able to create a life permitting universe. This is really easy (“I like cake” would be one among the uncountable set of propositions). So PRO has no case for omniscience (although such a case would require PRO to show there really is fine tuning, which he has not done).”

PRO quotes the italicized part, the introductory sentence, and repeats his claim about infinite knowledge etc. Sadly, he neglected to deal with the rest of the paragraph, which refutes him.

Origin of life etc.

No further remarks, as PRO has declined to advance it.

References

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...

(2) Collins, R (2009) The teleological argument: an exploration of he fine-tuning of the universe. In Craig W. L., and Morland, J. P. (eds) The Blackwell Companion to Natural theology. Blackwell publishing; Oxford



[1] Note that at no stage has PRO actually presented any formal argument for any of his contentions, so I am having to do PROs work for him.

[3] PROs R4 remarks on this argument are completely confused, likely in his desire to reduce them to Craigs ‘chance’, ‘necessity’, or ‘design’ triumvirate. I recommend Collins (2009)(2)

Debate Round No. 4
kenballer

Pro

Beginning of the Universe

1. "In the past rounds I demonstrated that our best physics suggests there is no (temporally) first cause of the universe, and there is only a beginning in the sense of our spacetime block having a finite boundary in the earlier than direction. So this knocks out Kalam-esque claims for the 'cause of the universe'."

IF the B-theory of time was true, then it would damage the Kalam or First cause argument. However, CON has the burden of proof and has his work cut out for him to demonstrate that the B-theory of time is true because all of our experiences tell us that the A-theory of time is true. Just because physicists and philosophers of time believe in the B-theory in survey is NOT evidence or proof that its true. CON is going to have to do better than that to justify his assertion and is sorely lacking substance. We would would have to a entirely different debate on this subject, So I cannot go any further with this.

2. "Deny the PSR. Certain bits of physics (like Bell�€™s inequality)[1], seem to violate PSR in that there are no explanations for particular events rather than particular other events. Even if we had no empirical refutation, our evidential support for the PSR is in a narrow set of circumstances �€" extrapolating from these to the universe itself is unwarranted."

Well first off, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of its absence", just because scientists cannot find a cause for some quantum events does not mean its evidence that some things don't have to have a cause. As physicist David Bohm, has pointed out, there are many "hidden variables" at the quantum level of reality, of which anyone could contain the sufficient reason for a certain quantum event.

Second, Quantum fluctuations or events do not take place in "absolute" nothingness. It actually takes place out of a larger quantum field ,which is a part of physical reality, that enables particles to come in and out of existence. Without this field there would be no quantum events. This is another reason why its not accurate to say that a particular quantum outcome is "uncaused". Therefore, the Principle of Sufficient reason still stands strong and the burden of proof is still on CON to convince the rest of us why everyone should belief that this is the ONLY exception in terms of sufficient reason.

Now, If CON is going to say that nothing is not nothing anymore and refer to the quantum field as the "nothingness"�, then CON would not only be highly illogical but arbritrary in doing so. It is true that you cannot be purely philosophical when making any kind of argument in the scientific field, but it goes both ways. Without some type of reasonable standard of logic, Science becomes blind and ,in the process, unscientific.

3." even granting that there is no reason why with respect to this datum God is better falsifiable over metaphysical objects like universe generators. The available data simply underdetermines whether it is God or some non-naturalistic whatever. Anyway, to make it falsifiable, just suppose it is some Dharmic conception of the divine which would be falsified by the lack of the right sort of transcendental experience."

Again, abstract objects, which would include the universe generator since its an abstract object, do not stand in causal relationships since they are timelesss and immaterial. We are not aware of any abstract objects standing in casual relations nor does it make sense. Therefore, Only an unembodied mind would stand in causality since minds are metaphysical and have free will. Otherwise, it would be impossible to explain how you can get a temporal effect with a beginning from an eternal cause. If the cause is there, then the effect would have to be there once the initial conditions of the effect are given.

Now, CON may argue that we don't have evidence of minds operating without a brain since minds are dependent on them. Well this whole debate is about me providing evidence of a disembodied mind. If CON wants to demonstrate that abstracts objects like his universe generator can stand in casual relations and explain the logic behind, then he can go ahead, but CON cannot just assert this as he has been doing with many other claims. He must prove that this is a real scientific explanation as well. I have already explained why it cannot be because its unfalsifiable and CON was not able to articulate CLEARLY how the Universe generator is falsifiable under scientific standards or how this is even rational.

4."PRO repeats his assertion that the �€˜spacetime continuum�€™ somehow shows naturalistic causes to be impossible. He�€™s never argued for this, and I�€™ve refuted my own charitable reconstructions. He also repeats his claim that infinite regresses are impossible (not answering the hypertask possibility I raised back in R1)."

In 2003, Borde, Guth,Valenken in their theorem were able to prove that ANY universe which is on average in a state of cosmic expansion greater than 0 throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past, but must have a past space time boundary. This theorem holds even when we don't have a quantum theory of gravity of the early universe. In addition, even if we are just a tiny part of a so-called "multi-verse", their theorem would STILL require an absolute beginning from this multi-verse as well. Since there has to be an absolute beginning when its all said and done anyways, CON can deposit as many universes or versions of the multi-verse as you want. It still would not weed out the God hypothesis as the actual explanation for these universes AND for the fine-tuning of the universes.

If CON tries to put it out of context by mentioning Victore Stenger's letter, here is a youtube response:

"It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, 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." - Alexander Vilenkin.

Its very simple: If u have an expansion greater than 0, the universe began. Period.

Fine tuning[3]

5."PRO wants to rule out multiverses because it is not explanation: but surely it is. Seeing ourselves in life permitting universe is unsurprising if there are vast numbers of universes and the weak anthropic principle, in the same way it�€™d be unsurprising to see me keep drawing royal flushes if a mad alien race meant annihilated the universe if I didn�€™t draw one. "

Well again, CON has not made the effort to explain how there could possibly be another universe in the first place in-spite of the Space-time theorem. Anyhow, it does not matter because It still would not weed out the God hypothesis as the actual explanation for the fine-tuning of the universes since there has to be an absolute beginning regardless. CON would just be advocating a certain way God can design the universe.

6."If we use physical or metaphysical possibility, we have no access to say the universe is finely tuned (as we know of no such possibilities that are not life permitting), if we use epistemic possibility, we have to consider the epistemic space of all possible laws of physics, which is impossible"

Well again, these supposed metaphysical universes CON asserts are not falsifiable and he is even admitting it in this quote. The God Hypothesis on the other hand is indeed falsifiable making it a scientific explanation as well as the best one.

7. "PRO answered the wrong bit of my �€˜no grounds for omniscience�€™ claim"

CON does not realize that I was not responding to his objection about omniciensce but providing other instances of omniciense

Origin of life

8."No further remarks, as PRO has declined to advance it."

I did not advance it any further because CON did not make any additional objections or arguments for me to respond.
Thrasymachus

Con

Beginning of the universe

PRO started off implying a Kalam-esque argument:

1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause

2) The universe began to exist

3) The universe has a cause.[1]

I showed our best physics suggests B-theory, and so P2 is false. PRO accepts this, but says “Just because physicists and philosophers of time believe in the B-theory in survey is NOT evidence or proof that its[sic] true.” Au contraire: consensus of expert opinion is excellent evidence. Across the scales PRO appeals to our folk intuitions: “all of our experiences tell us that the A-theory of time is true” – yet it seems our intuitions regarding the physical world (leave alone the metaphysics of physics) are unreliable (all of my direct experiences tell me the world is not in motion, for example). So my evidence trumps PROs evidence, P2 should be rejected, and the KCA fails.

PRO has not responded to my defence of an infinite regress of causes via a hypertask (see my R4). He did talk about BDV theory demonstrating the universe had a past finite boundary, but this isn’t relevant. Hypertasks purport to cram in infinite causal events in a finite length of time, so you can get infinite regresses in finite time, a bit like points in an asymptote. As he didn’t rule this out, no need for a first cause, and the KCA fails.

PRO switched tack in R4, talking about explanations rather than beginnings, and LCAs instead of KCAs:

4) All concrete contingent states of affairs have an explanation of their existence (or whatever PSR variant you like)

5) The universe is a concrete object

6) The universe has an explanation for its existence

Against this, I’ve argued we should be sceptical about the PSR due to physical (Bell’s Inequality), and philosophical (its dodgy to induct from common course grained experience a necessary truth, or even a truth applicable to all concrete objects) reasons.

Pro attacked the physics objections by saying i) Bohm said there could be hidden variables behind Bell’s inequality, and ii) the underlying vacuum these events take place in are not nothing. Neither helps him: even if a vacuum explains why there are these events, the ‘why is there an event here as opposed to there?’ question remains unanswered, and so breaks PSR. And although some physicists are Bohmians[2], it is not the dominant (or even most popular) view, so we should still think it is plausibly the case that some events do not have sufficient explanation.

PRO did not respond to my counter-claim that the Universe (for all we know) is metaphysically necessary. Nor did he respond to my undercutting defeater to his “all events we see have explanations, so all events have explanations” move. Both are individually sufficient to defeat the LCA.

I’ve also argued that even if we grant the universe had a first cause of explanation of existence, this need not be anything we can recognisably call a god. PRO continues to assert that the only options are abstract objects or disembodied minds. When I suggest that some (mindless, non-naturalistic) ectoplasm of aether could be the ‘pre universe’ stuff, he just begs the question by asserting it would be an ‘abstract object’ (no it’s not!) Or he asserts it is ‘unfalsifiable’. He never argues why we should be popperian falsificationists about scientific explanations, nor does he show why these others offers can’t be falsified (I noted last round a Dharmic conception of the divine would provide just the sort of mindless non-naturalistic substratum that explains our experiences of the world, and could be falsified by the lack of the right sort of mystical experience. PRO dropped this.)

Fine tuning

PRO raised an argument about fine-tuning. As he never stated it explicitly, I shall:

7) P(LPU|N) << P(LPU|T)

8) Prime principle of confirmation

9) Theism is confirmed over naturalism[3]

[LPU = Life permitting universe, N = Naturalism, T = Theism]

The idea is that the fact we live in a world with just the right values for life is much better explained by Theism than Naturalism, and so is evidence for Theism over Naturalism.

A multiverse ensemble makes P(LPU|N) high, and no longer much lower (or lower at all) that P(LPU|T), and so defeats this argument. PROs response is inapposite:

“Well again, CON has not made the effort to explain how there could possibly be another universe in the first place in-spite of the Space-time theorem. Anyhow, it does not matter because It still would not weed out the God hypothesis as the actual explanation for the fine-tuning of the universes since there has to be an absolute beginning regardless.”

The space-time theorem (whatever that is) doesn’t rule out a multiverse. Indeed, one of the accounts of Quantum mechanics stipulates many worlds. It is just wrong to say an absolute beginning somehow guarantees a design argument: a (past finite) multiverse exhausting all possible cosmological constant values makes being in a life permitting universe wholly unsurprising on Naturalism.

Even if we rule out multiverses, the design argument still doesn’t work, because we don’t have access to talk about whether the universe really is fine tuned: we lack access into all the infinite ways the laws of physics might have been structured to say life permitting combinations are rare ‘by chance’. PRO again misunderstands the argument:

“Well again, these supposed metaphysical universes CON asserts are not falsifiable and he is even admitting it in this quote. The God Hypothesis on the other hand is indeed falsifiable making it a scientific explanation as well as the best one.”

A design argument demands we can use these possibilities, even if epistemically. Unless we can say “if the universe had variables like this, it is unlikely intelligent life would arise”, we cannot talk about fine-tuning. The idea that the universe ‘could have been different’ is completely unfalsifiable, so either PRO should dump the design argument or dump his falsificationist philosophy of science. Either way, the argument loses.

PRO says that he “was not responding to his objection about omniciensce [sic]”. If so, then my omniscience objection is unanswered: even if there was a cosmic designer, we need not think he is omniscient.

Origin of life

PRO did not advance this argument after my objections in R2. So I refer readers back to that for my defeat of God as an explanation for abiogenesis.

Conclusion

PROs arguments lie defeated. I have shown we have no compelling reason to affirm the universe ‘has an explanation’, and expert consensus suggests it did not ‘begin to exist’, deflating both LCA and KCA. I have shown how a multiverse would adequately explain ‘fine tuning’ and, in any case, we do not have access to say whether life permitting universes really are rare in the space of all possible physics. I have pointed to the progress of modern science that neither our natural history, nor our first life form, nor the information in DNA demand ‘God did it’ explanations.

And even if we really needed something else to explain these things, PRO never showed this something else had to be God. When I counter-suggested other possible explanations (like aether, like a completed physics of the singularity, a non-omniscient designer) he dismissed them out of a tendentious view of science as falsifiability (a standard his own arguments do not meet, my counter-offers can accommodate, and one we should reject anyway), or just making inapposite objections.

For these reasons, PRO has provided no grounds that God is the best scientific explanation of the universe. Vote CON.

Enjoy life,

Thrasymachus



[1] I probably should have introduced the formal arguments earlier. Then again, it wasn’t my job to make these arguments in the first place.

[2] It is worth noting PROs assent to the hidden variable view contradicts his own falsificationist views on science. For hidden variables are unfalsifiable: either we find them and confirm it is true, or we don’t find them and just assume they’re out there and we need to look harder.

[3] Adapted from Collins (2009)

Debate Round No. 5
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