The Instigator
drafterman
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
SuburbiaSurvivor
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is Invalid

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Post Voting Period
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after 5 votes the winner is...
SuburbiaSurvivor
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/11/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,567 times Debate No: 24229
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (51)
Votes (5)

 

drafterman

Pro

The classical Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) is as follows[1]:

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. Therefore: The universe has a cause of its existence.

I will be arguing that the KCA is not only unsound, but is invalid! That is, even if the premises (#1 and #2) were to be true, the conclusion (#3) does not logically follow from them.
Beginning of Existence
Herein lies the crux of the argument. What does it mean for something to have a beginning of its existence?

Let us look at the first premise:

"Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;"

Or, as more popularly and succinctly stated:

"Whatever begins to exist has a cause."

What begins to exist? In looking at the world around us, it is clear, even from first-hand observation, that it is transient. It is in a constant state of change. Nothing is permanent or eternal, even if long-lasting. Thus, it would appear that things are constantly coming into, and going out of, existence.

But where do these things come from, and where do they go? Nothing. Even early philosophers recognized rudimentary forms of the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy[2]:

"For it is impossible for anything to come to be from what is not, and it cannot be brought about or heard of that what is should be utterly destroyed" - Empedocles

"[T]he totality of things was always such as it is now, and always will be..." - Epicurus

So, if everything that was, is, and will be, what are we talking about when we are talking about things which begin to exist? When we talk about something coming into existence, say a tree, we are not talking about the creation of the matter that makes up the tree, but rather we are talking about the reorganization of preexisting matter into a configuration we recognize as "tree." The tree, as a material object, doesn't begin to exist, but rather the abstract concept tied to that material object, does.

And that is all we have, relying merely on observation: we have existing matter and energy that is in constant motion. We humans assign arbitrary labels to certain patterns that appear in amid this movement and it is those patterns which come and go, which "begin to exist" and have "causes" for their existence.

From this we use induction to generate the first premise:

1. All observed physical patterns have a cause for their existence.
2. All physical patterns have a cause for their existence.

So, while the first premise of the KCA ostensibly has the scope of "everything," it is clear that the scope can only logically refer to the types of things which we observe coming into existence: things which are merely specific arrangements of preexisting matter.

The Beginning of the Universe

In applying this to the Universe, it becomes readily apparent that it does not quite fit. After all, the Universe, by any definition, includes all existing matter, regardless of the configuration; that is, the label "universe" doesn't refer to any specific set of configurations in the manner of other labels used, such as "tree" or "car." Ergo, the beginning of the universe is not merely the formation of a specific arrangement of matter; it necessarily refers to the creation, from nothing, of that matter.

Why does this matter? It matters because the term "beginning of its existence" is used identically in both of the premises. The use of the same phrase, verbatim, indicates the same kind of event. Indeed, it has to refer to the same kind of event if they are to entail the conclusion. But, as I showed in the previous section, the "beginning of existence" referred to in the first premise is a result of induction based on observations that has its scope in things coming into existence as specific configurations of preexisting matter. The creation of the universe, not being a specific configuration of preexisting matter, falls out of this scope. We must inexorably conclude, then, that:

The manner in which things begin to exist in the first premise is not the manner in which the universe could have begun to exist!

In using the same phrase, the argument implies identical meaning. But they can't mean the same thing, meaning the argument commits the error of equivocation[3]; it is using a phrase which can mean different things in order to try and transfer some logical property tied to one meaning (causes of things coming into existence as we observe) to another meaning (a cause of the universe). Without some additional logic that shows the type of beginning applicable to the universe has to operate under the same rules as the types of beginnings in the mundane objects we see around us, the property of being caused cannot logically be transferred from one to the other. Merely being able to describe both using the same phrase does not grant us magical abilities in spreading logical properties around.

Conclusion and Summary

1. In order for the premises of the KCA to entail the conclusion, the term "beginning of its existence" must refer to the same type of event in both premises.
2. The term "beginning of its existence" does not refer to the same type of event in both premises. It refers to specific patterns of matter in the first and creation ex nihilo of matter in the second.
3. Ergo, the premises of the KCA do not entail the conclusion, making the argument invalid.

SuburbiaSurvivor

Con

Thanks to Pro for instigating this debate and getting right to the meat of the debate! This will save time for both of us.

While this form of the Kalam Cosmological argument means literally the same thing as the Kalam Cosmological Argument Pro attacks, this is the semantic version I will be using:

P1: Everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence
P2: The universe began to exist.
P3: Therefore, the universe has a cause for its existence.

The Resolution, and Burden of Proof

First of all, I'd like to point out the audience that this debate is about the logical validity of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, not the soundness of the argument. While I was expecting a debate on the soundness of the argument, this should still be an interesting debate. The distinction between logical soundness and logical validity is that logical soundness refers to whether each premise of the argument is correct or not, whereas logical validity refers to the structure of the argument. In Round 1, Pro explicitly states that he will be arguing that even if P1 and P2 of the Kalam Cosmological Argument are sound premises, the conclusion doesn't logically follow. Therefore this debate will not be centered around the soundness of P1 and P2 of the KCA, but whether the conclusion logically follows.


If Pro is unable to show that the Kalam Cosmological Argument is invalid, then I have won this debate.

Kalam Wars: The Trilogy

In Round 1, Con offers an in depth argument for why the KCA is invalid. Con argues that P1, "Everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence", refers to material causes only. He then points out that the Universe must have come into existence from nothing. So how does this make the KCA invalid? Well, friends, because the conclusion then does not apply to P1! It would not logically follow. To illustrate Pro's point, imagine we formulate the KCA the way Pro is interpreting it:


P1: Everything that begins to exist ex materia has a cause for it's existence.
P2: The Universe began to exist ex nihilo.
C: The Universe has a cause for it's existence.

This is, of course, an entirely invalid argument! I absolutely agree with Pro that this argument is atrociously bad and no philosopher worth his salt should use this argument in support of anything. However, this is simply not the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

Kalam Wars, Episode I: Rise of the Straw Man

Notice what was required for Pro to invalidate the Kalam Cosmological Argument. He had to somehow show that P1 referred only to material causes. However, this is simply not how the P1 reads. Let us re examine P1:


"Everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence"

"Everything"

Everything in this case refers to literally everything. There is no added distinction, such as, "everything in the Universe", or "everything that we see". The word "everything", in context, literally means everything. One could argue that this premise if unsound because the justification for the premise only extends to what we see within the Universe, but this is irrelevant to the debate at hand, as this debate is about the logical validity of the argument and no the soundness of each premise. "Everything", in context, refers to literally everything.


"that begins to exist"

Begins to exist is literally equivalent to "comes into being". Whether something comes into being from a material state, or not from a material state is irrelevant since both came into being. William Lane Craig further elaborates on this by defining "begins to exist" as "x begins to exist if and only if x exists at time t and there is no time t* prior to t at which x exists". It's important to note that even if time does not exist prior to time t when x begins to exist, the definition still applies.

This is exactly the manner in which the Universe began to exist in Premise 2. Therefore, no equivocation here!

"has a cause for its existence"

Now, this is where we come to the crux of Pro's argument. Pro argues that P1 only refers to material causes, whereas the conclusion does not. However, is this so? We see no language in this premise that indicates any sort of discrimination against creatio ex nihilo, and certainly no special affinity towards creatio ex materia. The premise merely reads "Everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence". The premise certainly doesn't read "Everything that begins to exist has a materialcause for its existence". In fact, William Lane Craig doesn't define "cause" as creatio ex materia orcreatio ex nihilo. Rather, "cause" is defined as an "efficient cause". That is, that which causes change or motion to occur. Aristotle originally coined the terms as he distinguished between material causes and efficient causes [1]. Aristotle argued that a material cause is just the stuff that something comes from, for example, a piece of wood is the material cause of a table. However, an efficient cause is that which brought the table to come into being. So in the case of a table, the carpenter would be the efficient cause of the table. Therefore we see there is no marriage between material causes and efficient causes. Therefore all equivocation dissolves.

Kalam Wars, Episode II: The Republic Attempts to Understand The Straw Man

All of the argumentation that Pro sets forth is better suited for refuting P1, rather then invalidating the entire argument itself. Often Kalam opponents will argue that creatio ex nihilo is impossible, or, that creatio ex nihilo does not require a cause, or, that creatio ex nihilo does not always require a cause. But these are arguments to attack P1, not the logical validity of the entire argument itself! Personally, I have a feeling that Pro became confused about P1 when hearing how P1 is defended. One of the defenses of P1 is to show how literally everything we see in the world has a cause. KCA supporters will argue that we intuitively know that everything requires a cause. This is generally where atheists pop in and say that all observed causes happen ex materia, and not ex nihilo, therefore P1 is not always true. But this is merely a defense of P1, it does not necessarily follow that because one defends P1 by appealing to creatio ex materia, P1 is only referring to creatio ex materia.

Kalam Wars, Episode III: The Kalam Cosmological Argument Strikes Back

In summary, Pro is confused about the first premise. "Begins to exist" has no bearing on whether something comes into existence ex nihilo or ex materia, it merely means to come into being. Subsequently, "cause" is defined as "efficient cause" which is in no way married to material causes. Even without these clarifications, the particular wording of the Kalam Cosmological Argument does not agree with Pro's interpretation. There is nothing about the wording used in the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument that restricts one to material causes. After all, it's confusing why "begins to exist" should mean "begins to exist from something" and nothing else. Similarly it's inexplicable why "has a cause for its existence" refers to material causes and nothing else. In conclusion, Pro sets up a straw man version of the KCA and then refutes. However, in doing so he has failed to show how the KCA is logically invalid. The conclusion logically follows from P1 and P2. Therefore, the resolution is negated.

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


Debate Round No. 1
drafterman

Pro

Beginning of Existence, Revisited

My opponent says:

"Everything in this case refers to literally everything. There is no added distinction, such as, 'everything in the Universe', or 'everything that we see'. The word 'everything', in context, literally means everything."

This is simply incorrect. There is an added distinction: "that begins to exist." The clause "that begins to exist" is a restrictive clause[1] that modifies the noun "everything," limiting its scope within the context of the sentence. With it in place, the scope of the sentence is not literally everything, but everything that begins to exist. Only things that begin to exist are within the scope of this argument.

The scope further depends on what is meant by "beginning of Existence" or, as my opponent has phrased it "begins to exist."

My opponent says:

"Whether something comes into being from a material state, or not from a material state is irrelevant since both came into being"

Ah, but it does. As my opponent has noted, something can come into existence ex materia and something can come into existence ex nihilo. These are two important and distinctions.

So, what is the scope here in the first premise? ex materia, ex nihilo, or all encompassing? My opponent has chosen to invoke William Craig, so let's go to him:

"Let me first review three reasons I have given for believing the first premiss of the kalam cosmological argument. First and foremost, the causal premiss is rooted in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing. To suggest that things could just pop into being uncaused out of nothing is to quit doing serious metaphysics and to resort to magic. Second, if things really could come into being uncaused out of nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why just anything and everything do not come into existence uncaused from nothing. Finally, the first premiss is constantly confirmed in our experience, which provides atheists who are scientific naturalists with the strongest of motivations to accept it."[2]

Let's highlight the key points here:

1. "The causal premiss is rooted in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing"
2. "[T]he first premiss is constantly confirmed in our experience"

And now, to refresh, the points from my opening argument:

"The tree, as a material object, doesn't begin to exist [out of nothing], but rather the abstract concept tied to that material object, does."

"And that is all we have, relying merely on observation: we have existing matter and energy that is in constant motion."

Craig himself states that the first premiss is rooted in the concept that things just don't come out of existence! He dismisses ex nihilo himself!

My opponent says:

"Craig further elaborates on this by defining 'begins to exist' as 'x begins to exist if and only if x exists at time t and there is no time t* prior to t at which x exists'."

Indeed, nothing I have said contradicts this. Rather, all I have done is explicitly identified that, as far as the first premise is concorned the candidates for x are not the material objects themselves, coming into existence from nothing, but the abstract concepts we assign to patterns in preexisting matter.

Based on Craig's on words regarding the first premise, it seems that we have to accept this interpretation.

Causes

At no point in my argument did I restrict the types of causes that can bring things into existence. All I did was to identify the differences in types of beginnings between P1 and P2. For all I care, in terms of the argument, the cause could be David the Gnome waving a magic wand. It's irrelevant and my case does not depend on limiting the types of causes in play here. To restate:

The type of beginning in P1 is limited in scope to the beginning of patterns (to which we assign labels) of preexisting matter.

The type of beginning in P2, however, revers to the beginning of matter itself, from nothingness.

The beginning in P2 is not within the set of beginnings set forth in P1, thus the implication statement in P1 does not apply to P2, and the argument is invalid.

The Alleged Straw Man

My opponent says:

"One of the defenses of P1 is to show how literally everything we see in the world has a cause. KCA supporters will argue that we intuitively know that everything requires a cause.

...

But this is merely a defense of P1, it does not necessarily follow that because one defends P1 by appealing to creatio ex materia, P1 is only referring to creatio ex materia."

The first section reaffirms the quotes by Craig I stated. Since Con agrees with these quotes, then it appears we are operating under the same interpretations of the same argument which questions the accuracy and motivation for saying I am performing a Straw Man.

The second section is right out. It reveals that P1 is rooted in induction: P1 is valid because all of our experiences attest to it! But, the key here is the limits to induction. While we can certainly generalize from our experiences, we have to be careful not to overgeneralize!

Consider the following:
1. Everything we observe beginning to exist ex materia is also observed to have a cause (whatever that cause may be).
2. Generalization: Everything that begins to exist ex materia has a cause.
3. Generalization: Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
4. Generalization: Everything has a cause.

Now, clearly #4 is out of the scope of the argument. Proponents of the argument are careful to limit the necessity of causes to things which have beginnings. Yet, #4 is a generalization of the preceding statements. So why is that generalization dismissed?

It may seem arbitrary for me to draw the line at #2, for Con to draw the line at #3 and for no one to draw the line at #4. But it isn't. My defense of drawing the line at #2 (for P1) has been stated and reaffirmed by Con. It is not merely the fact that all of our observations are only within the realm of the material, but the fact that this is brought up in direct contrast to beginnings ex nihilo, to restate:

Craig: "The causal premiss is rooted in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing"

You can't say that the first premise (the "causal premiss") is rooted in the notion that something cannot come into being from nothing, and then say it applies to things which come into being from nothing!

Summary

I have provided support for the notion that "beginnings" in the first premise of the argument is limited in scope to beginnings ex materia (as my opponent has labeled it). My opponent did not address, and thus implicitly concedes, the fact that the beginning of the universe is NOT a beginning ex materia. These are the only points of my argument, and I make no statements about limiting the types of causes. Given that the beginning of the universe is out of the scope of beginnings defined in P1, the conclusion does not follow from P1 or P2, and the argument is a form of equivocation, and invalid.


[1]Consider the example "The store honored the complaints that were less than 60 days old" (http://www.kentlaw.edu...) and then interpret Con's response as saying the scope is complaints, with no added distinction.
[2]http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
SuburbiaSurvivor

Con

Once again, I'd like to thank my opponent for instigating this debate and providing a timely reply. However, he has completely misrepresented William Lane Craig, drawn an incomplete and false conclusion from one of William Lane Craig's quotes, contradicted himself in regards to "begins to exist", and confused the defense of a premise with the premise itself. In essence, my opponent is profoundly confused about what the Kalam Cosmological Argument actually is and has consequently straw-manned the argument in entirety.

Misrepresenting William Lane Craig

Here my opponent offers a quotation from the answer to the 9th question of William Lane Craig's series of Q&A's on his website. He attempts to show how William Lane Craig believes that it is impossible for something to come from nothing, and that consequently William Lane Craig does not believe in creatio ex nihilo. Pro errs when he derives an incomplete conclusion from the quote. Pro concludes that "the causal premiss is rooted in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing". However, this conclusion is incomplete! Pro has completely forgotten to include the extra language "from nothing" in his conclusion. Indeed, William Lane Craig is defending the causal premise of the KCA by arguing that nothing can come into being uncauses. However, it does not follow that William Lane Craig denies creatio ex nihilo! As William Lane Craig himself argues in the very same Q&A question:

"I think that the principle ex nihilo nihil fit (out of nothing nothing comes) is as certain as anything in philosophy and that no rational person sincerely doubts it. But this principle does not in any way contradict the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing), as the medieval thinkers who espoused both realized. For only in the case of creation is there a cause which brings the relevant object into being"
-[1]

Therefore Pro's claim that William Lane Craig denies creatio ex nihilo is false.

On "Begins to exist"

There are two problems with Pro's argument. First, he attempts to show that the first premise discriminates against "creatio ex nihilo", but then accepts my [and WLC's] definition of "begins to exist" as being "x begins to exist if and only if x exists at time t and there is no time t* prior to t at which x exists'". But in doing so, he inadvertently concedes that "begins to exist" is non-discriminatory in regards to creatio ex materia and creatio ex nihilo! Indeed, this definition of "begins to exist" is applicable to both creatio ex materia and creatio ex nihilo. If something begins to exist from nothing, there is a time in which that something exists and a lack of any time at all prior to that time in which that something exists. So it goes with something coming into existence from pre-existing materials. Indeed, when I was conceived in my mother's womb, that was when I began to exist for there was no time prior to the moment of my conception in which I existed. Therefore, by accepting my definition of "begins to exist", Pro contradicts his position that the first premise of the KCA only refers to creatio ex materia.

The second problem with Pro's argument is in how he attempts to show that "begins to exist" refers only to creatio ex materia. He points out that we only see evidence of creatio ex materia, but we see no evidence of creatio ex nihilo. But this does not at all play into the the meaning of the first premise! After all, the meaning of a literal statement does not automatically change to accommodate the truthfulness of reality. If I say "I am pregnant", my statement does not suddenly change in meaning to become "I am not pregnant", simply because the latter is a true statement. It may in fact be so that creatio ex nihilo is impossible, but this point would only be valid in arguing against the soundness of the first premise, not the validity of the argument itself.

On "Causes"

Pro concedes my point on causes. Thus we can both agree that in this case, cause is defined as an "efficient cause". So far so good. However, he then goes on to reiterate his previous point that there is a difference in "beginnings" between P1 and P2. Unfortunately, such a difference is imagined. Keep in mind that Pro has previously agreed that "begins to exist" means "x begins to exist if and only if x exists at time t and there is no time t* prior to t at which x exists". But what difference is there in the beginning of creatio ex materia and creatio ex nihilo? Both fit the previous definition of beginning to exist. Pro argues that creatio ex materia and creatio ex nihilo are different, but this is largely irrelevant. The first premise contains no language that discriminates against either.

In conclusion, there is no language in P1 that excludes creatio ex nihilo, therefore the argument remains logically valid. The only way to invalidate the argument would be to add language to the first premise, which is precisely what Pro does in the next point.

The Straw Man Is There, I say! He is!

First of all, Pro maintains his misrepresentation of William Lane Craig's position on creatio ex nihilo, therefore all arguments relying on this misrepresentation are automatically invalid. But even more so, he reveals the added language of premise one, offering an argument for why he chooses "Generalization: Everything that begins to exist ex materia has a cause" over "Everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence".

But this is precisely where the Straw-Man comes into play! The first premise reads as the latter, not the former! Pro argues that P1 is rooted in induction, so far so good. He then argues that his #2 "Generalization: Everything that begins to exist ex materia has a cause" is preferable over #3 "Generalization: Everything that begins to exist has a cause" But in context of this debate, how is this even relevant? Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that #3 is false, whereas #2 is supported by the evidence. This would only be a valid argument against the soundness of P1, not against the logical validity of the entire argument! As I have previously stated, it is illogical to argue that the meaning of a statement changes to accommodate the truthfulness of reality.

The Straw Man Begins To Transform Into A Real Man But Then Goes Back To Straw

Finally, Pro comes close, ever so close to correctly representing William Lane Craig's position by finally correctly quoting his position:

"The causal premiss is rooted in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing"

Ah yes, I love the smell of correct representation in the morning. However, Pro then draws a peculiar conclusion! Pro then argues that:

"You can't say that the first premise (the "causal premiss") is rooted in the notion that something cannot come into being from nothing, and then say it applies to things which come into being from nothing"

This statement is confused. First of all, the first premise is rooted in the notion that something can not come into being from nothing uncaused. It does not logically follow then that the KCA has nothing to do with things coming into existence from nothing! Finally, there is no logical contradiction between ex nihilo nihil fit (or, something can not come from nothing uncaused) and creatio ex nihilo. For while it is true that nothing can not come from something uncaused, it certainly does not logically follow that it is impossible for something to come from nothing caused.

Summary

Pro is very confused about the Kalam Cosmological Argument. He misrepresents William Lane Craig, contradicts himself, and confuses the defense of an argument with the argument itself. I have shown that P1 of the Kalam does not discriminate against creatio ex nihilo or creatio ex materia. Therefore the accusation of equivocation dissolves.

[1] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
Debate Round No. 2
drafterman

Pro

Misrepresenting Craig

My Opponent says:

"[Pro] attempts to show how William Lane Craig believes that it is impossible for something to come from nothing, and that consequently William Lane Craig does not believe in creatio ex nihilo."

I was expecting this, and it is false. I did not attempt to show how Craig believes that it is impossible for something to come from nothing, nor did I attempt to show that Craig does not believe in creatio ex nihilo, nor did I even say that I reject creatio ex nihilo (in this debate).

What I showed was Craig's rationale behind P1, and that P1 is based only on our experiences and intuitions, which are necessarily limited to creation ex materia events. Again, to repeat Craig's own words:

"The causal premiss is rooted in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing"

At no point did I extend this to say that this actually means something cannot come into being from nothing, nor did I ever attribute such a conclusion to Craig (since I never made any such conclusion). All this shows is that such events (from nothing) are out of the scope of the causal premiss, according to Craig's own words.

Craigs subsequent statement, "but this principle does not in any way contradict the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo" is irrelevant. I'm not saying that P1 contradicts creatio ex nihilo, simply that creatio ex nihilo is out of scope of P1.

This is further supported by Craig's statement, "For only in the case of creation is there a cause which brings the relevant object into being" (Emmphasis mine)

If creatio ex nihilo is only possible in the case of creation, of which there has only been one case (god's creation of the universe), of which we are not privvy to, then it necessarily falls outside the scope of our experiences and intuitions.

This response also applies to Con's false accusations of a Straw Man.

On Beginning

Con has provided a definition of "beginning" in, "x begins to exist if and only if x exists at time t and there is no time t* prior to t at which x exists'." Which I don't refute. And Con is correct in saying that this definition does not, in itself, discriminate between ex materia and ex nihilo creation. And, indeed, the premise, as stated, either by myself or Con, does not explicitly discimrinate between ex materia and exnihilo creation.

That's hardly the point, nor does it mean equivocation has not occurred. Indeed, the entire point of equivocation is the use of terms which are identical in appearance, but are used in context in a manner that ignores important distinctions and discriminations.

If I were to take the argument at face value, then, yes, based upon reading only what is written, without performing any critical thinking, the arugment would be valid because "begins to exist" appears verbatim in P1 and P2. But I'm not taking the argument at face value. I am looking deeper into the argument and factoring in context and the rationale behind the premises.

There are implicit (that is, unstated) modifiers to "begins to exist" in P1 and P2 whose ommission results in the fallacy of equivocation. The terms are being treated identically merely because they are stated identically. It is this identical treatment which is false. Hidden and unstated are the restrictions to ex materia events in P1.

If this restriction was made explicit, then the invalidity of the argument would be apparant and indisputable. By ommitting it, however, the argument gives the appearance of identical meaning, comitting the fallacy of equivocation. Indeed, it is the existence of this unstated restriction that I have been arguing the entire time. I believe I have been doing this well, as that restriction is supported by Craig and Con's own words to that effect.

Con, here, is basically suggesting that the implicit restrictions don't exist or one simply doesn't exist in this case. However, all Con has done is shown that the restriction isn't explicit, which is hardly a refutation to my argument to it being implicit. Of course it isn't explicit! That's the point! It is, however, there - merely unstated.

On Causes

I don't exactly "concede" the point on causes as much as I noted that it wasn't a point that was ever in contention. He then goes back to restating his rebuttal in the previous section and states:

"[T]here is no language in P1 that excludes creatio ex nihilo..." and illustrates that Con has missed the entire point of the equivocation accusation.

If the language was there (was explicit) then there would be no debate. My assertion is not that the language is there, but that the meaning is there, merely unstated and implicit. This is what an equivocation fallacy is and what I have been arguing. As yet, Con has not refuted this. He restates, repeatedly, that it is not explicit, and I will concede this point everyday of the week and twice on Sundays. That's not the point. The point is that the restriction is implicit. It is there, but invisible. I have supported this claim based upon my rationale provided in Round 1, supported by Craig's and Con's own words in Rounds 2 and 3 (this round).

More Strawman Accusations

Con correctly points out that Craig does talk about uncaused events being against our metaphysical intuition. However, he conveniently ignores Craig's final statement on the matter:

"Finally, the first premiss is constantly confirmed in our experience, which provides atheists who are scientific naturalists with the strongest of motivations to accept it."

Our experiences are limited to beginnings ex materia. Our experiences can't confirm beginnings ex nihilo because we don't experience them. Thus, if this generalization were to include such events, it would be false to say that our experiences confirm it!

Summary

After two rounds of debate, the summary of my position is as follows:

1. Based on my reasoning provided in Round 1, supported by Craig's and Con's own words in Rounds 2 and 3, P1 is implicitly limited only to things which begin to exist ex materia.

2. The failure to make this restriction explicit gives the false appearance that the terms in P1 and P2 refer to the same class of beginnings and falls into the trap of equivocation.

3. Since the terms in P1 and P2 don't refer to the same class of beginnings (when you factor in implicit restrictions), the properties of beginnings identified in P1 don't necessarily apply to the types of beginnings identified in P2 and the conclusion does not follow; the argument is invalid.

The summary of my opponent's position is as follows:

1. No restriction is made explicitly, ergo no restriction exists at all.

Unless Con wishes to assert (and demonstrate) that implicit meanings don't exist at all, then he will need to do more than to just note that the implicit meaning that I refer to isn't explicit, if he wishes to provide a valid objection to my points.
SuburbiaSurvivor

Con

This has been a very interesting exchange. Once again, a huge thanks to Pro for instigating this debate. I have yet to see the accusation of equivocation against the Kalam defended so adamantly. However, Pro once again confuses the defense of a premise with the premise itself. Also, Pro contradicts himself in regards to his representation of William Lane Craig.

Misrepresenting William Lane Craig

In Round 2, my opponent says "He [William Lane Craig] dismisses ex nihilo himself!". This is where Pro misrepresents Craig, because Craig himself explicitly argues that the Universe was created ex nihilo. [1] Pro is being dishonest and inconsistent when he claims in Round 3 that "I did not attempt to show that Craig does not believe in creatio ex nihilo".

Finally, Pro, once again, comes to a false conclusion about Craig's position due to incompletely quoting him. In Round 3, Pro offers the following quote from Craig:

"The causal premiss is rooted in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing"

Pro then goes on to argue that this leaves creatio ex nihilo outside of the causual premiss of the argument. That is, that this metaphysical intuition excludes creatio ex nihilo. But this is merely a quote taken from the beginning of Craig's particular post. In fact, later on in that post Craig goes on to argue that not only is "something can not come from nothing uncaused" not contradicted by the metaphysical intuition, "something can not come from nothing", but that these two statements necessarily entail each other! Let "something can not come from nothing" be (A), and "something can not come from nothing uncaused" be (B) and then consider the following quote that is taken later on from Craig's post:

"I think [B] is logically equivalent to (A). They entail each other. Just consider: suppose someone proposed to refute (A) by saying, “Something can come from nothing if it has a cause!” The proponent of (A) would rightly think that the other person hadn’t understood him. If something has a cause, then it doesn’t come from nothing. To come from nothing is to lack all causal conditions, period. Think of it this way: if something comes into being uncaused from nothing, then obviously it comes into being from nothing (B→A). And if something comes into being from nothing, then it comes into being uncaused from nothing (A→B). So (A) and (B) are logically equivalent. So either (A) or (B) can be used to support premiss (1).
" [2]

Thus we can see that Pro's claim that creatio ex nihilo is outside of the scope of premise one is simply unfounded. Indeed, there is nothing about creatio ex nihilo that contradicts this metaphysical principle, and certainly nothing about the metaphysical principle that excludes creatio ex nihilo. Therefore we certainly see no justification for any sort of abstract implicit discrimination against creatio ex nihilo in P1 of the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

On Beginning (Say, Anyone See Prometheus?)

Here Pro attempts to show that P1 of the KCA implicitly discriminates against creatio ex nihilo by "looking deeper into the argument and factoring in context and the rationale behind the premises". This is precisely what I meant by confusing the defense of a premise with the premise itself. Pro factors in the defense of this premise and then equates that defense with the actual meaning of he premise itself. Strangely though, he does not challenge my definitions of the words within the Kalam Cosmological Argument. He accepts my definition of "begins to exist" and my definition of "cause". Yet as I have explicitly demonstrated, these definitions are in no way discriminatory to creatio ex nihilo. Strangely enough, Pro then goes on to argue that "hidden and unstated are the restrictions to ex materia events in P1". Yet in admitting this he inadvertently admits that such discrimination does not exist in the Kalam Cosmological Argument! Indeed, if language is "unstated", then it is non-existent. Literal statement arguments are meant to be taken literally. The Kalam is certainly not poetry, with "begins to exist" being a metaphor. In essence, Pro's claim of implied discrimination is a textbook example of a bare assertion. There is absolutely no reason to think that such discrimination exists in light of the definitions provided, yet Pro asserts that the discrimination is there. If Pro's argument were valid, then any and every argument could be refuted by appealing to "hidden and unstated" meanings.

I'd also like to point out that we're debating about the logical validity of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, as stated and defined. We are not debating about the logical validity of Pro's imagined version of the Kalam. Remember Pro's comment: "The point is that the restriction is implicit. It is there, but invisible." What Pro is arguing is essentially that the Kalam Cosmological Argument does not really read the way we think it reads. Allow me to reveal the "hidden" language that Pro argues somehow exists:
  1. Everything that begins to exist from material has a cause for its existence.
  2. The Universe began to exist from nothing.
  3. Therefore the Universe has a cause.

This is the Kalam that my opponent sees. This added language, to him, is implied. However, such language does not exist. This is not the Kalam Cosmological Argument. This is a straw-man.

On Matters Concerning Straw

Pro quotes William Lane Craig and once again derives an absurd conclusion that does not logically follow from what Craig states. The quote reads:

"Finally, the first premiss is constantly confirmed in our experience, which provides atheists who are scientific naturalists with the strongest of motivations to accept it."

Now this is a proper quote from Craig, but Con concludes from this quote that "Our experiences are limited to beginnings ex materia. Our experiences can't confirm beginnings ex nihilo because we don't experience them. Thus, if this generalization were to include such events, it would be false to say that our experiences confirm it!" But this doesn't logically follow at all. Keep in mind that P1 of the Kalam is non-discriminatory towards creatio ex materia and creatio ex nihilo. So when we find that our everyday experiences confirm the principle "something can not come from nothing uncaused", we see nothing but the first premise confirmed. However, even if Pro's objection were valid, this would only serve to show P1 false. If Pro is using this as a way to show a fallacy of equivocation, then Pro has once again confused the defense of a premise with the premise itself.

Conclusion

My opponent has:

  1. Misrepresented William Lane Craig and drawn incorrect conclusions from Craig's quotes by incompletely quoting him.
  2. Conceded that there is no explicit discrimination in premise one of the KCA against creatio ex nihilo.
  3. Committed the bare assertion fallacy by claiming there is a "hidden and unstated" discrimination in premise one of the KCA against creatio ex nihilo.
  4. Confused the defense of a premise with the premise itself.
  5. Straw-manned the entire Kalam Cosmological Argument by arguing there is "hidden" language. The result of "revealing" this "hidden" language creates a straw-man version of the KCA.

In summary, Pro has completely failed to meet his burden of proof. While the soundness of each premise is still up for debate, we can clearly see that the Kalam Cosmological Argument is logically sound. The first premise contains no discrimination against creatio ex nihilo. Pro's objection that it does is literally "It's there! It's just invisible!". Therefore the accusation of equivocation is non-existent.

Vote Con, for the love of Comic-Con.

[1] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...

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

Debate Round No. 3
51 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by drafterman 5 years ago
drafterman
Uhm... No. It wasn't a misrepresentation at all.
Posted by SuburbiaSurvivor 5 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
Well, in that case I'll concede that it was an unintended misrepresentation, how about that?
Posted by drafterman 5 years ago
drafterman
No... its only a misrepresentation if if intended it because what i intend determines the content my representation!
Posted by SuburbiaSurvivor 5 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
I never argued that you intended misrepresentation. Merely that you stated a misrepresentation. Sort of like exploiting your opponent's bad move in chess. He may have not meant to make that move, but he did.
Posted by drafterman 5 years ago
drafterman
But if I clarified that what I said did not mean what you thought it meant in terms of it being a misrepresentatIon, why would you still assert I was intending a misrepresentation!!
Posted by SuburbiaSurvivor 5 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
"I meant everything I said. The issue is that you failed to understand what I meant. You interpreted it in such a way as to think it was a misrepresentation. After I clarified that I did not mean it in that way, the issue should have been over."

Perhaps this is a situation of: I mean half of what I say, and say half of what I mean?

"You dishonestly ignored my clarification and kept insisting I meant it in a way that resulted in misrepresentation."

I didn't ignore your clarification. I acknowledged it, but pointed out what you had said. What say and what you mean can be different things. What you say can mean one thing, while what you meant was another thing.

"If you say something that I interpret as meaning "A", which happens to be a misrepresentation, and I call you out on that, but you later clarify that you didn't mean "A", should I continue to assert that you meant "A"?"

Of course not. Now, can I assert that you *said* A? Yes.
Posted by drafterman 5 years ago
drafterman
Except I wasn't refuting that the universe had a cause, just that the types of beginnings in each premise were different. You know, MY ARGUMENT.
Posted by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
Here is the KCA that you were arguing against:

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. Therefore: The universe has a cause of its existence.

If everything that has a beginning has a cause, and the universe had a beginning, then the universe had a cause. That logically follows. However, if you're trying to show that the universe did not have a beginning of its existence like we do, or trees, or any other object within the universe, then you are attacking premise two and trying to show the premise unsound. Even if the premise is unsound, the argument itself would still be valid.
Posted by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
I did. But equivocation is irrelevant in this debate. You are trying to prove the argument unsound, not invalid. The premises can be incorrect but the argument still valid. You did not prove the argument invalid. If your objections were legitimate, the argument would then be unsound. But the argument follows logically from its premises.
Posted by drafterman 5 years ago
drafterman
Key, I was explicitly arguing against the validity referencing the equivocation fallacy. Did you not see any of that?
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by THEBOMB 5 years ago
THEBOMB
draftermanSuburbiaSurvivorTied
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Reasons for voting decision: nvm...
Vote Placed by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
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Reasons for voting decision: No one defender of the KCA equivocates when using it. In fact, Drafterman committed the fallacy of equivocation by trying to redefine terms that were not intended by the KCA. Pro also takes Dr. Craig's words out of context to support his own argument. Con did a great job of defending the KCA. Pro's objections just were not legitimate arguments. You can't redefine a term and claim an argument invalid. You have to rebut the argument using the terms provided.
Vote Placed by ScottyDouglas 5 years ago
ScottyDouglas
draftermanSuburbiaSurvivorTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Both sides had good arguements. But somethings are left unsaid and Con just had to defend his position and did so. I give it a pretty even rate.
Vote Placed by The_Fool_on_the_hill 5 years ago
The_Fool_on_the_hill
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Reasons for voting decision: rfd
Vote Placed by Reason_Alliance 5 years ago
Reason_Alliance
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Reasons for voting decision: rfd