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The Contender
Con (against)
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The Kalām Cosmolgical Argument attempts to prove very little.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/11/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,881 times Debate No: 25114
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (21)
Votes (3)




"The Kalām Cosmological Argument [KCA] is a variation of the cosmological argument that argues for the existence of a First Cause for the universe. Its origins can be traced to medieval Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers, but most directly to Islamic theologians of the Kalām tradition." [1.] The classical argument is:
  1. Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;
  2. The universe has a beginning of its existence;
  3. The universe has a cause of its existence.

There are modern variations of the argument, including one by William Lane Craig:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

There have been many debates on as to whether the KCA is a valid argument or not. Many people are interested in the argument, so I won't argue that it's not interesting. People are naturally curious, an it's an interesting puzzle. I maintain, however, that not much of importance depends upon whether or not the argument is true.

How is "very little" to be judged? The KCA is presented as proof of the existence of God, and it's sometimes taken s proof of the existence of the Christian God or a similar God. I will argue that if it proves any god at all, it proves an uninteresting one. "Very little" is still subjective, but it is to be determined in that context.

The Debate

Thanks to my opponent for accepting this challenge. He has a strong record of debating on the side of religion. I hope readers will find our debate informative.

The burden of proof in this debate is shared, meaning that the better case should prevail. In legal terms, it is the preponderance of evidence that determines the outcome.

This opening round is for definitions and acceptance only. The Pro case will be given at the start of the second round.

This debate is part of the "99th Percentile tournament." [2.]


Standard debate conventions apply. I list them here for the benefit of new debaters and readers. I believe there is nothing tricky or eccentric. Both sides agree to the following rules, and that violating the rules is a conduct violation, with anything contrary to the rules to be ignored by readers judging the debate:

DR 1. All arguments must be made in the debate. Evidence may be cited or linked from the debate, but only in support of arguments made in the debate. Arguments made in Comments are to be ignored.

DR 2. Source links or references must be included within the 8000 characters per round limit of the debate. No links or sources are permitted in comments.

DR 3 Any term not specifically defined before use is to be taken with the ordinary dictionary definition of the term that best fits the context of the debate. The definitions given in the challenge stand as a condition of acceptance.

DR 4. No new arguments shall be made in Round 4. Arguments and evidence may be presented in R4 in rebuttal to any previous argument, but no new arguments.

DR 5. Dropped arguments are not counted as concessions. They may be taken up again or left to be judged as part of the case.

DR 6. DDO site rules always apply. Neither side may add or modify rules for the debate once the challenge is accepted.



I accept Roy's rules and terms.

RoyLatham and I have both been members of DDO for three years, so it's amusing that are now debating for the first time. I'm looking forward to this.
Debate Round No. 1


1. Morality is important, the God question alone is not

In a classical story from Buddhism, a man confronts the the Buddha and demands to know whether God exists, saying the Buddhist teachings can only be trusted if the Buddha can answer his question. The famous response from the Buddha was, “If you were shot with a poisoned arrow, would you demand to know who shot it before you removed the arrow?” Life poses challenges of what is moral and what is proper. Those challenges must be met when they occur, and they must be met whether or not God exists. Hence, the Buddhist teaching is to focus upon the resolution of moral issues and not to be concerned with whether or not God exists.

If God exists and mandates a moral code, that would be important, but the KCA is so far removed from a moral code as to be irrelevant. The following chain of needed proofs is required to get to a god-given moral code from the KCA:

  1. The universe has a first cause.

  2. The first cause is a god or gods.

  3. The god still exists today.

  4. The god is concerned with human affairs.

  5. The god is good and has moral authority.

  6. The god prescribes a moral code.

  7. The god communicates the moral code to humans.

  8. Humans are able to recognize the moral code.

  9. Humans are able interpret the moral code unambiguously.

  10. Thus we know what is moral.

Morality isn't the only issue of concern, but if we consider worship or salvation or other religious matters, they all follow the same pattern. Most religions take step 7 as an act of faith; they assume that God exists and has communicated a moral code. Many religions posit that the moral code is revealed in the scripture of their faith, but Jains, Buddhists and Deists believe that the moral code is revealed by applying reason to observation of human nature. Buddhists refuse to consider the god question. Some atheists, naturalists, also derive a moral code from human nature, believing that there is a moral code, but it is not given explicitly.

2. A KCA first cause might be natural

A common pattern in the history of religion is for people to attribute unexplained natural events to be the work of deities. Why do volcanoes erupt? Why does it rain or not rain? These natural events were attributed to the work of gods. If the volcano erupts, that was then offered as proof that the volcano god exists and was displeased. If it rains after religious rituals are performed, that was cited as proof that the god was satisfied. If it did not rain then that was proof of a god still displeased. Either outcome confirmed the god.

Why were natural events attributed to gods? Because alternate explanations were, at the time, not plausible. They were arguments from incredulity. It must be so because no alternative could be conceived.

If the KCA is true, it proves there is a first cause. However, the first cause could be a natural event. Renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking argues that the universe exists of it's own nature.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," he writes. "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. … "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going." [3.]

How is such a natural event possible? Many people to this day do not understand the causes of volcanoes or rain. Nonetheless, we accept the judgment of scientists who understand the natural processes involved. Hawking believes the mechanism is explained. Physicist Michio Kaku outlines the theory:

“... we believe, though we cannot yet prove, that our multiverse of universes is 11-dimensional. So think of this 11-dimensional arena and in this arena there are bubbles, bubbles that float and the skin of the bubble represents an entire universe, so we’re like flies trapped on fly paper. We’re on the skin of a bubble. It’s a three dimensional bubble. The three dimensional bubble is expanding and that is called the Big Bang theory and sometimes these bubbles can bump into each other, sometimes they can split apart and that we think is the Big Bang. So we even have a theory of the Big Bang itself.” [4.]

Ah, but what of the origins of the multiverse? It exists outside of time, so it gains immunity from the question of first cause. That's exactly how God gains immunity from being subject to the Kalam argument for first causes. Asking why the multiverse exists is like asking, under the assumption that KCA is true, why God exists. If the KCA proves a god, then it must have also proved a space outside of time for the god to exist.

So if the KCA is deemed true, the debate only moves to whether the first cause is natural or supernatural. Because the KCA does not prove the existence of any deity, resolving it favorably does not advance the proof of a god.

If the KCA is false, then a god may still exist. God may exist separately from the physical universe, which many religious people have always maintained. So if the KCA is found false, it does not advance a disproof of god in any way other than science explaining things previously explained by deities.

3. The Kalam god is amoral

Assume that the KCA is true and further that a god is defined as being the first cause. The only defined property of that god is being an uncaused cause. The god need not care at all about humans or their affairs, the god need not be omnipotent or omniscient or good. The Kalam god need only perform the one task of creating the universe. In fact, after creation of the matter and energy of the universe, the Kalam god may cease to exist. The Kalam god may or may not have the power to cease to exist, but the possibility cannot be excluded.

The Kalam need not even be able to reason. Some creatures have no reasoning ability, but accomplish things through instinct. Birds build intricately designed nests solely by instinct. Beavers build dams, a task beyond many people, without high-level reasoning. So the Kalam god might have no function beyond reflexively creating one or more universes.

Of course, the Kalam god might have other properties, but arguing that requires evidence beyond Kalam. That starts with Step 2 on my list of needed proofs.

Note the KCA began with ancient Greeks and was advanced by Islam and Christianity. It is therefore consistent with a variety of concepts of God, including various requirements for morality and a host of other religious beliefs. KCA does not contradict any of the diverse faiths. Consequently it is irrelevant to the issues and doctrines of importance.

My arguments are independent. For the KCA to prove somehting important, all of my arguments must be overcome: While any moral consequences of God are important, mere existence is not; the KCA first cause may be natural; and the KCA does not prove any property of God at's important.



What makes this debate more interesting than the myriad other KCA debates on this website is that we are looking at the implications of the argument rather than its soundness. It is my assertion that if the KCA is indeed sound, then the implications are quite remarkable. In fact, if I've done my job rightly, then atheists will have even more to strike the KCA down.

1. The KCA points to a personal creator.

A common criticism of the KCA is that it only points to a first cause, and that the cause might be anything. This couldn't be farther from the truth. It is possible to determine several characteristics of the first cause through transcendental necessity, all of which point to something that looks more like God than my opponent would have us believe. The necessary qualities of the first cause are as follows:

Timeless. Our universe is temporal, and any first cause would by necessity have to transcend time. Time is finite due to the impossibility of the contrary. An actual infinite number of past events is logically absurd. While infinity as a concept is useful in mathematical abstractions, an infinite number of things is entirely unintelligible. It cannot even be accurately thought in the mind. Since time is finite, anything that caused our temporality must be outside of it. It would be absurd to say that our time begat our time.

Let it not be said that our time was caused by another time and consider the matter closed. When we talk about the first cause, we are talking about the ultimate first cause, not merely the cause of our present cosmos. All temporal entities require a beginning for the reason I stated above. Thus, at some point, we come to a being that must transcend temporality altogether.

Spaceless. Just as our time cannot beget our time, our space cannot beget our space. Thus, the first cause is ultimately spaceless, at least insofar as we experience it. It would certainly be absurd to think that the first cause was merely two-dimensional, for such a being would have no way to think of a third-dimension, just as we can't accurately think of what a fourth dimension of space would be like. Minimally, the first cause is extra-dimensional, but it could also be spaceless altogether. Either way, it must transcend our spatiality.

Changeless. By transcendental necessity, anything that is timeless must also be changeless. Change itself is an event, and events are temporal.

Immaterial. By transcendental necessity, anything that is changeless must be immaterial. Anything with material existence is modally contingent. Material-ness is defined by its temporality. Something is never truly believed to have come from nothing. Only abstract entities, like the number 2, are truly changeless. The number 2 does not need time and space to be the number 2, and it will never not be the number 2.

Unimaginably Powerful. Our cosmos is massive in scope. While the laws that govern it are simple, the sheer amount of energy contained within it is beyond our ability to fully comprehend. The sheer amount of matter is astonishingly great. Therefore, whatever caused our universe is incredibly powerful. Its resources and energy must exceed that of this cosmos. And if the cause of this cosmos was another temporal cosmos, then the first cause is even more powerful still.

Personal. There are only two kinds of things that are both timeless and immaterial: minds and abstract objects (like the number 2). Since abstract numbers cannot stand in causal relations to the universe, by process of elimination, we can rightly conclude that the first cause is a mind. Moreover, the first cause is a free agent. An impersonal mechanically operating cause is not a possibility since such a cause cannot exist without its effect. If such a machine contains within it the sufficient condition for a temporal effect then it must also have temporal effects built into it as well, which defeats the aforementioned timelessness.

Only an immaterial mind that freely chooses to create time can do so without defeating the necessary precondition of timelessness and changelessness, since such a thing does not require any antecedent determining conditions in order to produce a temporal effect.

What we find is that, if the KCA is sound, then it points to a timeless, spaceless, changeless, immaterial, powerful, personal cause. Of course, the existence of such a being has its own implications as well.

2. The KCA undermines naturalistic presuppositions.

There are many that might grant me the above conclusions and say, "so what?" Just because the cause was a mind doesn't necessarily mean the cause is involved in this universe. Cynics would say that, at best, I've only argued for deism. Such skepticism, however, fails to account for the impact that even deism has for naturalism.

The fundamental presupposition of naturalism is that the cosmos is all there is, ever was, and ever will be. If the KCA is true, then naturalism is patently false. As naturalism falls, so does all purely naturalistic explanations of human experience. Naturalistic views on morality and science cannot be taken for granted. If the KCA is sound, then it is utterly irrational not to consider the possibility that morality comes from outside our cosmos, even if the first cause is inaccessible to us. If the KCA is sound, then it is utterly irrational to entirely discount the possibility of miracles. If the KCA is sound, then science cannot possibly be the final authority on what is true.

3. The KCA makes the resurrection plausible.

Theists are often asked to provide extraordinary evidence for their extraordinary claims. Christians, in particular, hold to the actuality of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead. Since the KCA points to a personal creator and renders naturalism false, there is no rational basis upon which the resurrection can be dismissed as too extraordinary to have occurred. The existence of a personal being with immeasurable power makes it completely plausible, no matter how unlikely.


The KCA does not prove the truth of Christianity or any other specific religion, but that hardly means it proves very little. On the contrary, the implications of the KCA's conclusion are far reaching and worldview shattering. It points to a powerful personal creator, which in turn defeats naturalism. As a result, miracles cannot be dismissed as impossible and opens up resurrection as a plausible event. To think that these three things are "little" is dubious to say the least.

As a courtesy to my opponent I am withholding my rebuttal until the next round so that he may use all his allotted characters in rebuttal rather than having to spread himself thin in both rebuttal and defense. This should keep the debate focused for the readers and each other.

Debate Round No. 2


Virtually all of my opponents claims were addressed in my opening arguments, to which he did not respond.

Con says, “It is possible to determine several characteristics of the first cause through transcendental necessity ...” What does transcendental necessity mean? It seems to mean his claims.

Timeless. Con argues that time if finite because if it extended infinitely far back it would be “logically absurd.” That's a classic argument from incredulity, claiming that something must be so because the person cannot imagine it otherwise. For example try, “There cannot be an upper limit to the speed of an object, because no matter how fast it is going we cannot imagine that it cannot go faster.” That's convincing, except that Einstein's claim that it is false has been verified. What we can imagine is a limitation of ours, not a limitation of the universe we observe. Other religions, e.g., Buddhism, have no problem with the past being infinite.

However, the objection is overcome even if time is finite. Con postulates a space outside of time where God exists. Modern physics postulates a multiverse that exists outside of time. As Kaku analogized, our universe together with it's time is a bubble in the multiverse. There is no requirement that time exists everywhere in the multiverse. One scientific theory is that time will ultimately end in our. Other universes will continue with their own dimensions of time. The modern theory may not prove correct, but the conceptual alternative exists. So if the KCA is true, the debate over whether the first cause is natural or supernatural will continue.

Let's suppose that the modern cosmology is wrong because there is no space outside of time. If so, then God cannot exist outside of time either. We then are back looking at an unsolvable problem, which the KCA did not advance. Any argument that claims God is exempt from some limitation can be equally applied to the multiverse.

Spaceless. Con argues, “Just as our time cannot beget our time, our space cannot beget our space.” That is consistent with an 11-dimensional multiverse that spawns four-dimensional universes. Moreover, the analogy is invalid. Our present universe is expanding and literally creating more space. Nothing prevents it.

Changeless. Con claims, Change itself is an event, and events are temporal.” When the universe is created there is no time, so creation is one exception to all events being temporal. Time only exists after it happened, so we can look back and find the time when it happened. But before that, there was no time, so it didn't happen in time.

This is “inconceivable” in the sense that no one can relate to “time beginning” in terms of ordinary experience. What scientists do is write equations and attempt to show that the equations are consistent with what we experience. The question of “can we imagine it?” is not part of the calculation. If a theory proves true, it does not require that we be able to imagine it.

Immaterial. Con says, Something is never truly believed to have come from nothing.” That's purely a consequence of limits in Con's imagination. It is not proved by physical theory. Since we don't see things appearing from nothing in ordinary experience, the circumstances under which it happens are certainly not everyday circumstances. For example, there is good evidence supporting the theory that vacuum energy is created on the edge of the universe as it expands. Vacuum energy exerts a gravitational force that, apparently, is accounts for the universe to expand at an accelerating rate. The new energy at the edges is pulling the universe apart. [5.]

Unimaginably Powerful. Con says, “While the laws that govern it are simple, the sheer amount of energy contained within it is beyond our ability to fully comprehend.” Con has told us three times that he cannot imagine anything but a God cause. However, the ability to imagine large amounts of something is not an argument for or against anything. However, Con's next argument, “Therefore, whatever caused our universe is incredibly powerful.” does not follow. Consider, “The energy unleashed by an atomic bomb is enormous. Therefore the humans who created the bomb must be of even greater physical power.” Not at all. Nor does it require a mhuman to move the snow in an avalanche.

The argument also fails in presuming a creator. Consider, “The force of gravity that holds a galaxy together is unimaginably great. Therefore, there must be a powerful gravity god that facilitates it.” There isn't. Physical forces do not need gods to operate them. Large forces are typically associated with unintelligent nature. The sun converts 4 million tonnes of matter into energy each second without any intelligent guidance.

Personal. Con says,There are only two kinds of things that are both timeless and immaterial: minds and abstract objects ...” This is flatly false. The multiverse, as conceived, is both timeless and immaterial. It contains material universes, but the multiverse itself is not bound by material.

Con's assertion that minds are timeless and immaterial is not proved. In our everyday experience, minds are only observed to exist within material bodies. In our experience, a mind without an operable physical body has no power to create anything other than thoughts. We do not understand the mechanism of subjective consciousness beyond the level of the biology of brain activity. At that level, the “mind” is a time series of electrical events. Therefore a mind that exists outside of time is not conceivable to us. Being inconceivable is not decisive, but we can at least write the equations for the multiverse to show that it works in theory. There is nothing that remotely suggests a mind that works independent of time.

The KCA does not undermine naturalistic presuppositions

Con says, “The fundamental presupposition of naturalism is that the cosmos is all there is, ever was, and ever will be.” Perhaps there is some conception of naturalism that makes that assumption, but I've never heard of it. The Buddhist thinking I quoted was that it is irrelevant to know anything about God or the cosmos to resolve moral issues. The Deist sentiment of the Declaration of Independence is “We hold these truths to be self-evident ...” Self-evident means apparent from what is observed. In particular the nature of mankind as observed. Deists believed that God created the universe and will return in judgment, but that moral laws could only be found through naturalism.

Naturalism does not discount the possibility of miracles, nor the existence of God. Miracles are events that are inexplicable based upon our current knowledge. As discussed, religion has traditionally explained volcanic eruptions and everything else otherwise unexplained.

The question for religion is not whether God exists, it is what God wants if He exists. Deists argue that God exists and morality is made evident by human nature. Buddhists say that it doesn't matter whether God exists, because morality is evident in human nature. Scientific naturalists say that God is unnecessary, but not impossible, but that in any case morality is self-evident.

KCA does very little to support Christ's resurrection

What must be explained is the story of Christ's resurrection as told in the Bible. Consider the probabilities of:

a. the events didn't happen, but were added to the Bible to enhance Christianities appeal

b. the events apparently occurred, but were staged as a hoax to appear miraculous

c. the events apparently occurred, but were staged by space aliens to set humankind on a path

d. the events actually occurred, but were the work of beings from another dimension

e. the Christian God did it

The Christian God is the least plausible of the explanations, with or without the KCA. Since even then the KCA is seven steps of proof away from the Christian God, it proves very little.



"Virtually all of my opponents [sic] claims were addressed in my opening arguments, to which he did not respond."

This bold statement is wildly inappropriate. In one sentence, Pro claims that his arguments naturally refute mine yet mine are implied to not naturally refute his. It will be seen throughout this round that my opening arguments do in fact respond to his position. Moreover, I explicitly stated that I was withholding my direct rebuttal for later. Shame on Pro for causing me to waste 500 precious characters pointing this out.


R1. Morality is important, the God question alone is not

Morality is indeed so important that the existence of God factors greatly into the discussion. This premise begs the question via the Loaded Words fallacy. [1] By accepting that the either/or proposition is valid, I end up buying into unwarranted naturalism. In other words, the proposition only works if God is already proven not to exist. If he does exist, then it changes the whole ballgame. My opponent must first prove that the two subjects are mutually exclusive before we can even begin to consider the rest of the arguments for this proposition.

R2. A KCA first cause might be natural

This premise was rebutted in my opening round when I argued that the first cause must be personal. Any cause of this universe that is also temporal suffers from the same philosophical problems. It cannot be eternal unless it is abstract. Pro's premise is a red herring. My opponent wants the reader to focus on the cause of this universe and ignore the fact that such causes do not solve his dilemmas. We are talking about the first cause, which could be the cause of any other temporal universe leading up to ours. He cannot get away with such diversionary tactics.

R3. The Kalam god is amoral

This premise only matters to Pro's case if his first premise is true, so this third premise is also a red herring. Pro is twice asking us to prematurely accept that morality is an independent subject from God. Pro throws in a lot of random assertions in this third premise as well, such as God possibly not being able to reason. However, my opening round directly counters such a notion when it argues that the first cause must be a "mind" (which by definition entails reason) rather than other abstract entities such as numbers.


For my opponent's benefit, transcendental necessity simply means that we determine the necessary conditions of the first cause using process of elimination, impossibility of the contrary, etc.

D1. The KCA points to a personal creator.

Timeless. Time cannot be infinite:

  • An actually infinite number of things cannot exist
  • A beginningless universe involves an actually infinite number of past things
  • Therefore, a beginningless universe cannot exist

Pro is mistaken in calling this the fallacy from incredulity. It's not that I personally find the idea too wacky to be believable. I can't even think it if I wanted to. It is logically incoherent. An actual infinity of things leads to a violation of the law of non-contradiction. Hilbert's Hotel exposes the problem. It leads to the claim, "it is true that the hotel is full and that the hotel is not full."

Pro's multiverse is 11-dimensional, which includes time. The multiverse suffers the same problem as any temporal existence: the problem of an actual infinite number of past events. Therefore, even if the multiverse is the cause of this universe, it must itself have a beginning. The only way to avoid an infinite regress is to have a non-temporal cause.

Spaceless. Space is also cannot be actually infinite. Infinitely expanding space relies on infinite time, so Pro's rebuttal fails. The only entities that can exist without time are abstract entities such as minds or numbers, neither of which are spatial. Therefore, we can rationally conclude that that the first cause is spaceless.

Changeless. My opponent rebuts this characteristic with circular reasoning, saying that there was no time, even though he has been appealing to a multiverse with a time dimension. I guess he wants it both ways. If there was no time, then the first event came from nothing. Jim Sinclair best summarizes the problem this poses for Pro:

"If things can pop into being, then anything and everything can, without restriction and with no probability attaching to the fact. Thus you can't say, 'It can happen, but only for universes.' . . . The full implications of this would be the maximum skeptical scenario: no thought, no observation, nothing at all could ever be safely attributed to some evolutionary process based on physics. . . If knowledge is possible, then there must be a metaphysical principle 'Ex nihilo nihil fit,' meaning 'Out of nothing nothing comes.'" [3]

Immaterial. Pro's rebuttal is equivocating nothing (no being) with nothing (no matter). Vacuum energy is still something. If things come from total nothingness, then we can't know anything because we can never be sure that anything didn't just come from nothing. Pro's rebuttal completely obliterates the science he relies upon to make his case.

Personal. I'm not sure how Pro thinks the multiverse is timeless. It has 11-dimensions precisely because it needs those dimensions in order for the universe bubbles to have any of those dimensions. How can it have 11-dimensions of its own and produce 11 different dimensions in the bubbles? Pro goes on to argue that minds aren't abstract because we only observe material brains. In philosophy, a mind is "one of two basic modes of existence, the other being matter." [4] Pro is just yet again equivocating terms.

D2. The KCA undermines naturalistic presuppositions.

Naturalism is a worldview that presupposes that "all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws." [5] How am I misrepresenting this? Even if a naturalist admits that there might be something outside of the cosmos, they reason as though it doesn't matter anyway. So, we have another red herring instead of a real rebuttal here. The fact is, if the KCA is sound, then attempts to reason as though there is not a personal creator is fallacious. That refutes the resolution that the KCA proves "very little" as it undermines everything my opponent wants to rely upon this debate: multiverses, natural first causes, naturalistic morality, etc.

D3. The KCA makes the resurrection plausible.

My opponent is correct that the KCA does not directly prove Christianity, but this debate is about the KCA having inconsequential implications or meaningful ones. The number one criticism against Christianity is the probability of resurrection, which my opponent brings to our attention. However, the only reason to reject the resurrection on probability is alone is if plausibility of miracles is ignored or denied. The KCA points to a personal free agent with total power over creation. Therefore, if the KCA is sound, then the resurrection must be denied on grounds other than or in additional to probability. That is hardly a "little" issue for the non-theist.


This debate is about the implications of the KCA, not about the KCA itself. As such, my opponent wants us to accept that even if the KCA is sound, it proves "very little." This is the philosophical equivalent to plugging your ears and saying, "I'm not listening!" He is using naturalistic probabilities, alternative naturalistic theories, and naturalistic views of morality to make his case, yet the implications of the KCA kicks naturalism to the mat. My opponent wants to show that the KCA proves very little using theories that the KCA itself undermines, making the KCA something that proves much more than "very little."


Debate Round No. 3


It's always appropriate to question responsiveness. Readers will decide if Con has addressed the whole chain of logic needed to get from the KCA to issues of importance.

Morality is important; the God question alone is not

I derived step-by-step that God is only important to morality if God exists, is concerned about humans, imposes a moral code, communicates a moral code, and the moral code is understood unambiguously. Buddhists recognize this situation and consider the question of the existence of God irrelevant. They instead consider the questions of morality directly. Deists believe in the existence of God, but that God does not reveal a moral code so it must be derived from observation. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and others agrees that a moral code is mandated by a God, but do not agree what the moral code is. Many atheists reject the existence of God, but derive a moral code by observation of human nature. Religions generally agree on some important moral principles, but Buddhists, Deists and non-believers agree on those points as well.

The sole fact of the existence of God does not settle moral questions, but moral questions are what is important. If the KCA were settled, and additionally it were proved that the first cause is a god, Virtually no one would change their moral behavior as a consequence.

I do not understand Con's rebuttal. He says, “the proposition only works if God is already proven not to exist.” Not only is it possible to consider that question of the importance of the existence of god to morality without presupposing the existence of God, I cited many who have done in a very serious way.

A KCA first cause might be natural

I referenced modern theories of multiverse in which temporal universes are “bubbles” within the multiverse. While the multiverse has temporal universes within, they appear in a space that does not have time. Con incorrectly argues that because some of the multiverse has time, all of it has time. Physicists Hawkins and Mikaku contradict Con's unsupported claim. Modern physicists accept that anything that can be described by equations can exist, provided it agrees with observations.

Con makes an argument from incredulity, that a multiverse without time cannot be imagined and therefore cannot exist. However, Con also argues that God can exist outside of time and even can have thoughts and plans without the temporal sequence we ordinarily believe inherent in a thought process. So Con finds a God that exists outside of time acceptable, but a multiverse that exists outside of time is claimed inconceivable. Note that God's universe has a temporal part forming our universe, but God is allowed to keep our universe distinct while the multiverse is not. If the same standards of credulity are applied, God cannot exist either.

Modern cosmology seems to support the universe beginning with an uncaused cause, but a natural one.

The Kalam god is amoral

Con says I “prematurely acceptthat morality is an independent subject from God.” There is no doubt that in practice morality is independent, because believers do not agree on morality. Deist, Buddhists, and naturist atheist derive morality from human nature. Those who believe in revelation accept the moral code as an act of faith, no as a matter of dependence from the KCA.

A god that causes the existence of a temporal universe has no properties other than than needed to cause existence. Con asserts that a god that causes existence must be a “mind.” If so, the mind need not do anything but think of causing existence. The god need not be concerned with morality or human affairs, nor have powers other than being a first cause. So even if Con is correct, it has no relevance beyond what a purely natural first cause implies.

Arguments from incredulity

Con claims that arguments from incredulity can be valid. He says, “It's not that I personally find the idea too wacky to be believable. I can't even think it if I wanted to.” That is a fundamental mistake. I cannot even think of a God that personally controls every particle in the universe; the bandwidth alone is inconceivable. Yet I grant my inability to think of it proves nothing. I pointed to the speed of light being an absolute limit. Can one even think of that? All of ordinary experience tells us that no matter how fast we go, we can always go faster. That we cannot go faster is incredible. Physics is resplendent with such inconceivable facts, ranging from wave-particle duality to vacuum energy. Yet they are proven true, despite our inability to conceive of them.

What science does is ignore whether things are conceivable to us or not. Scientists write equations and see if nature conforms to the equations. If the equations work, our ability to conceive of the mechanism is irrelevant. What makes something impossible is contradiction with observation, and nothing else.

Con argues that time extending into an infinite past is impossible. If the equations work and the implication agree with observation, then it is possible. Nothing else counts. Actually, to my understanding is that modern theory is that time starts and stops in universes that appear in the multiverse that exists outside of time. Time start and stopping is no more conceivable than time being infinite.

Con says, “Therefore, even if the multiverse is the cause of this universe, it must itself have a beginning.” No, because beginnings are phenomena of time, and the multiverse exists outside of time. Con has no problem conceiving of God living outside of time, without a beginning. The multiverse is the same in that respect, but the multiverse is simpler.

Spaceless. Con is wrong in his claim that only abstractions can exist outside of time. Physical theory is developed to the contrary.

Changeless. Con again errs in asserting that because a multiverse has a time dimension, that all of it must exist in time. That is like saying that if a house has glass, all of it must be made of glass.

Immaterial. “Being” in the from of the multiverse is postulated to exist a level above matter and time.

Personal. Con does not explain how a mind can exist independent of time, unless there is a higher space than time. He asserts that for God. That may also be the case for the multiverse.

The KCA has very little effect on naturalism

Con argues that he cannot even think that a first cause could be a natural cause, but scientists have no trouble with conceiving of a natural first cause. Whether current multiverse theory is true or not, the concepts that allow a natural first cause are already in play. Scientists have not ruled it out based upon arguments of it being inconceivable. If the KCA is proved, then the naturalists will accept that a first cause is likely a natural cause.

Let's suppose the KCA is somehow also proved to imply a creator god. Naturalists would become Deists, but none of their moral beliefs are likely to change. Deist Jefferson wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident ...” That is exactly what a naturalist has always maintained. Proof of a divine first cause does not even go as far as Deism, because Deists further assumed a God that would return in judgment. Those are additional needed proofs. KCA makes no difference to people who always believed, and it makes no difference to those who always found morality in human nature.

The KCA makes resurrection little more plausible than without it.

I gave many ways the story of resurrection might be plausibly explained, all much more probable than a religious miracle. Con did not deny any of the alternatives, so the KCA does not advance the plausibility. All of the alternative are so much more probable, that skeptics would not be impressed. Many religions recount miraculous events, so would proving the KCA put all miracles on solid ground? I think it would advance none.

No one's beliefs are upset by the KCA. It proves very little.

The resolution is affirmed.



My first reaction in reading Pro's final round is that he read my words but didn't make a sincere effort at understanding them. So much of his rebuttal takes my previous round out of context that I will be hard pressed to correct his many misrepresentations.

Morality is important; the God question alone is not

My opponent commits argumentum ad populum when pointing out that people are still able to approach morality regardless of belief in God. It does not matter whether or not everyone in the world agrees on moral principles. Pro argued that morality is a more important question than God but uses public opinion as his only defense. What about metaphysical necessity? What about moral absolutes? Neither of these questions can be answered by polling Buddhists, atheists, et al.

If the KCA were settled, and a personal creator exists, even if it leads to deism, it still points to universal mind that in the very least means sociological and naturalistic explanations of morality can't automatically be adopted. It changes the conversation entirely. All religions can no longer be tossed aside like yesterday's newspaper. So, when my opponent says the question of God is not important, he's simply wrong. If the KCA is true, then the question of God moves to the forefront of philosophical discussion. That's not at all "very little."

A KCA first cause might be natural

Pro criticizes my assertion that the multiverse is temporal, citing that Hawkins and Mikaku contradict my claims. Really? Pro's citation of Hawkins speaks nothing of the multiverse whatsoever, and the link to Mikaku makes it quite plain when calling it an "11-dimensional arena." In fact, Mikaku goes on to say, "But within 11 dimensions you can have bubbles that are 3 dimensional, 4-dimensional, 5-dimensional." Mikaku is clearly indicating that the multiverse can only contain bubbles that exhibit as many or less dimensions. The multiverse doesn't have 11 dimensions, it is 11 dimensions.

Once again he accuses me of incredulity. It's not that I have trouble imagining that the mutliverse is timeless—the multiverse is temporal as a matter of fact. My opponent has completely failed to show otherwise other than to appeal to authority without citation. If the multiverse is temporal, then it has the exact same problem as our temporal universe and does not solve the problem of infinite regress.

The Kalam god is amoral

I get what Pro is trying drive home here. Just because the creator is personal doesn't automatically mean he is morally good and we are morally accountable to him. So what? This premise only matters if Pro's first premise is true: that morality is a more important question than God. However, if God is indeed a very important question, than this statement is just a mere guess at his nature. If the KCA is true, then it is intellectually dishonest not to examine all the world religions as possible candidates for his revelation. This premise fails to show that the KCA proves very little. It's just an arbitrary claim based on wishful thinking.

Arguments from incredulity

When I say something is unthinkable, I'm not saying it is unimaginable or just too darn hard to think in my little brain. I'm saying it is nonsensical in every traditional philosophical sense of the word. I thought I made that clear when I showed that it violated the law of non-contradiction. Instead of a rebuttal to that claim, he just falls back on the good ol' argument-from-incredulity.

Pro claims that so long as equations work with observations, then it doesn't matter. That is a very serious claim on Pro's part that cannot simply be ignored. Does he really want us to accept that math always represents reality? Do imaginary numbers represent the real world? I've never once observed a bushel with i apples in it. No one has ever once observed an actual infinite number of things. This is pure wishful thinking.

Pro argues that God suffers from time as well since we've only observed thoughts to operate in temporal sequence. Now who's arguing from incredulity? Of course our minds are limited to temporal sequencing, but the definition of "mind" that I provided refers to the abstract notion of rational intelligence itself. My opponent is equivocating "mind" to a "brain," but true abstract minds are entities of pure thought and reason independent of time. A mind is the abstract notion of intelligence, just as a number is an abstract notion of matter. Even if there were no universes, the number 2 and the notion of logic would still exist. They are metaphysically necessary.

Spaceless. Pro's rebuttal is a bare assertion without evidence to support it. He didn't even name an example of something other than abstractions that can exist outside of time except for his multiverse, which I already showed to also be a bare assertion on his part.

Changeless. Pro continues to rely on the multiverse for his win, but he still doesn't substantiate anything. The multiverse is clearly not changeless. In fact, it has bubbles expanding and contracting over time. Therefore, it changes, and anything that changes needs time to do it. An abstract mind is does not have this problem because it is the abstraction of rationality and will. For a mind to will something is not to alter the nature of the mind, and therefore it is changeless. If, however, the mind were a brain (like a computer), then it would no longer be changeless or timeless. Thus, changelessness and timelessness go hand in hand, and Pro has failed to show otherwise.

Immaterial. All hail the multiverse again, assuming of course we buy into Pro's bare assertion that the multiverse is timeless, which his own source flatly denies.

Personal. I think I've adequately explain how a timeless mind works above and I've certainly beaten Pro's timeless-multiverse claim to death, and then some.

The KCA has very little effect on naturalism

My opponent once again glides over my actual argument here and fails to actually deal with the dilemma I've placed before him. I never argued that naturalists have trouble coming up with natural first causes. The point is that, if the KCA is true, then naturalism as a whole cannot be taken for granted. Taking naturalism for granted (and treating it like it is the only unbiased epistemology) is exactly what my opponent has done all along. That's the irony. He wants to argue that the KCA proves very little using naturalism, when the KCA undermines naturalism. Pro refutes himself.

It's not enough to simply say that the KCA replaces naturalism with deism. Once the KCA is accepted, than all world religions must at minimum be placed under philosophical scrutiny. To simply move to deism and stop there is intellectual ignorance. Therefore, the KCA is a pretty big deal and naturalists are better off refuting it altogether.

The KCA makes resurrection little more plausible than without it.

Probable alternatives are just that, probable alternatives. Context is everything, however, and if the KCA is true, than any alternatives (no matter how probable) must be examined in light of the existence of a creator. Therefore, resurrection itself becomes an even more probable alternative, even if my opponent is personally turned off by the idea.


The only thing Pro has shown is that he is personally unimpressed. But that's not his burden. His burden is to show that the KCA proves very little and he has attempted to do so with presumption and bare assertion. He has failed to use his own sources with accuracy and he has misrepresented my arguments repeatedly. I showed the KCA to point to personal creator, which undermines naturalism and brings religions into academic discourse. I contend that, on balance, I have done much more to advance my position than my opponent has done to advance his. Therefore, I think it reasonable to vote in negation of the resolution.

I thank the readers for their time and consideration and respectfully request that all voting be done responsibly. Thank you.

Debate Round No. 4
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by s.carter 5 years ago
It's simple; if the argument is that all things must have a first cause - what is the first cause of this God? hence it may be possible for something to not have a first cause; be it the universe or a deity. And only one of those two has evidence of existence.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
Hawking et al are arguing for a first cause that is entirely natural. The argument that any first cause must be a personal god is an argument from incredulity. Only religious people believe it. Few modern cosmologists, I don't know of any, see the logical necessity of a god in a first cause. Denying the argument for the logical necessity of god is not a personal attack, it just claiming the belief to be invalid. That's the position of ordinary science. I wont say that a natural first cause is a done deal yet, but it's close. Why that gives strength to theism is beyond me.
Posted by phantom 5 years ago

While I do believe roy succeeded in weakening the Kalam argument, I don't think he did enough to demonstrate it attempts to accomplish "very little". Proving that the universe had a first cause would give a lot of credibility to theism. Even if we did say it didn't prove God, it would still move theism one step closer to accomplishing it's burden of proof. The argument would be moved to whether the universe would be cause naturally or super-naturally. I think con made good enough arguments against a natural cause. While I don't think he necessarily proved God would be the cause, he certainly pushed the likelihood towards the theists favor. There are good arguments that say an infinity cannot exist. While pro attempted to prove the multiverse could exist outside of time, I believe con showed God was more plausible as a being who transcended time.

Even if morality were more important than God like pro argues, I don't believe that undermines the significance of a God existing. Both are very important questions. It would also give more credence to the non-natural arguments for morality.
Posted by CarlosMarti123 5 years ago
"A naturalist thinks a miracle is a natural event whose cause is unknown."

That is not a definition of 'miracle' I have ever seen. In that case, all unknown phenomena would qualify as 'miracles.' The accelerated expansion of the universe would be a 'miracle.' The deviation of Mercury's orbit from the orbit predicted by Newton's theory of gravity would have been a 'miracle.' Radioactivity would have been a 'miracle.' Yet no naturalist of any sort would call or would have called these events with unknown causes 'miracles.' Your use of terminology is so loose as to deprive it of meaning.

"Naturalism is obtaining all knowledge from nature."

And there lies the problem. You have failed to define 'nature' as it is defined in naturalism. If by 'nature' you mean reality or existence, then this definition of naturalism becomes entirely meaningless.
Posted by KRFournier 5 years ago
Except that I never once argued that it was unbelievable. I always argued that for logical necessity, either by using process of elimination or logical impossibility of the contrary. Thus, I might have expected the fallacy of false dichotomy or something along those longs, i.e., a criticism that I did not take something critical into account.

The problem with using the fallacy of incredulity at multiple turns is that it also comes across as a personal attack as it serves to paint my actual arguments as being utterly ignorant rather than failing to make all the necessary points. There's a difference, and I don't think it's subtle.

I think it's safe to say we both felt personally attacked, but it only makes sense given how frustrated we were at our disparate use of terminologies.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
@KRF, An argument from incredulity is declaring something impossible impossible because you can see no mechanism for it. Whether a particular argument is or not is a subject for debate. Implying I didn't read your arguments is a personal attack.

@Carlos, A naturalist thinks a miracle is a natural event whose cause is unknown. Many such events are known. Deists believe God exists, but all knowledge is obtained from nature. Naturalism is obtaining all knowledge from nature.
Posted by CarlosMarti123 5 years ago
"The KCA does not undermine naturalistic presuppositions...
Naturalism does not discount the possibility of miracles, nor the existence of God."

That's a pretty strange definition of naturalism you have there then, RoyLatham.
Posted by Reason_Alliance 5 years ago
And yes I'm a religious vote. But I've been unconvinced of many theistic arguments. The Kalam isn't one of them and you've not changed my mind- that's where we're at. I've read Hawking & Mikaku and responses to them. I'm familiar with the discussion. You've given me nothing new with this debate. Accept my critique as well as an atheistic critique.
Posted by Reason_Alliance 5 years ago
Hawking has philosophical crisis of his own. Roy you just chose the wrong argument for this debate. You must first argue against cumulative cases prior to saying that any one argument in Natural Theology is uninteresting, lest you presuppose a bias against cumulative cases and be called out on it.

Anyways, now I can tell you're just desperate for a vote when you whine about nit-pickity conduct. This tells me you're not really interested in "scenarios in the real world" as it were. And arguing with one's own terminology though confusing, shouldn't be a reason to lose.
Posted by KRFournier 5 years ago
Roy, you misrepresented me when you called me incredulous, repeatedly, when in fact I had clearly stated that I was arguing for impossibility. Moreover, I only rebutted your sources in the last round because it wasn't until your last round that you clearly indicated that the multiverse was timeless. Perhaps you eluded to it earlier, but it didn't cross my mind that you actually believed that. In fact, I asked in round 3 how the multiverse--being 11 dimensional--didn't include time. Your only response was just to say that it was timeless.

I get your frustration if only because I was equally so. The fact that you say I was writing a monologue is more of an indication that we were talking past each other.
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Reasons for voting decision: I agree with Pro that many of Con's assertions are arguments from incredulity and as such, his case for a divine first cause is unsupported. However, as Con pointed out, affirming the existence of a first cause would still give many of the world's religions greater philosophical standing and their dismissal would thus require greater scientific and philosophical examination. The existence of a naturalistic explanation no longer flatly eliminates them as possibilities, which is significant.