The Instigator
Miles_Donahue
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points
The Contender
DakotaKrafick
Con (against)
Losing
8 Points

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is Sound

Do you like this debate?NoYes+4
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Miles_Donahue
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/10/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,212 times Debate No: 35347
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (95)
Votes (6)

 

Miles_Donahue

Pro

The kalam cosmological argument (KCA) may be summarized as follows:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

4. If the universe has a cause, that cause is a timeless, spaceless, changeless, immaterial, uncaused, beginningless, enormously powerful mind.

5. Therefore, the cause of the universe is a timeless, spaceless, changeless, immaterial, uncaused, beginningless, enormously powerful mind.


In this debate I will defend two contentions:

I. There are good reasons to affirm the soundness of the KCA.
II. There are no good reasons to doubt the soundness of the KCA.

Establishing the first contention will involve giving good reasons to believe the three premises of the argument. Establishing the second contention will involve answering the objections my opponent has to any premise.

Here are what I see as the fairest rules:

(1) The burden of proof will be squarely on my shoulders. I will present reasons to think that the KCA is sound, and my opponent will criticize those reasons.


(2) Con will use his opening statement for acceptance only.

(
3) Each response is limited to 8,000 characters.
DakotaKrafick

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
Miles_Donahue

Pro

Introduction


The kalam cosmological argument may be formulated as follows:


1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

4. If the universe has a cause, that cause is a spaceless, timeless, changeless, immaterial, beginningless, uncaused, enormously powerful Mind.

5. Therefore the cause of the universe is a spaceless, timeless, changeless, immaterial, beginningless, uncaused, enormously powerful Mind.

I will argue that each premise in this argument is more plausibly true than false, and because it is logically valid, the conclusion (5) is therefore more plausibly true than false.

Preliminary Definitions

By cause, I mean an efficient cause. An efficient cause is that which brings its effect into being. Whether that thing also has a material cause is incidental. We must keep these two types of causes distinct. For example, when a carpenter makes a table, he is the efficient case of the table. The stacks of wood out of which the table is made is the material cause. What I am claiming is that whatever begins to exist has something which brings it into being, whether out of preexisting material or not.

By universe, I do not mean everything that exists, or even all physical reality. Rather, I mean a connected spacetime. If two things are causally connected within time and space, then they are part of the same universe. Under this definition, there can be other universes, for there can be other disconnected spacetimes “out there”. All that I’m claiming is that this connected spacetime which we find ourselves in began to exist.

I will leave the rest of the terms to be defined intuitively. We now turn to the evidence for each premise.

(1) Whatever Begins to Exist has a Cause


There are three lines of evidence for premise (1).


1. Something cannot come from nothing

In other words, being only comes from being, being cannot come from non-being. This principle of metaphysics seems intuitively obvious, when you think about it. For how could the potentiality for something’s existence be turned into actuality without something that caused it to do so? In the case of the universe, this should be even more obvious, for in this case there wasn’t even the potentiality for the existence of the universe, for there wasn’t anything prior to the universe!


2. If something could come into being out of nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why anything and everything don’t come into being out of nothing

Think about it. If universes can come into being out of nothing, why can’t horses and potatoes likewise do so? If they can, then why don’t they? Why aren’t lions and tigers and bears coming into being right now, if it’s possible that they can? What would make nothingness so discriminatory? But nothingness isn’t anything, and therefore it can’t discriminate!


3. Common experience confirms and never falsifies premise (1)

Some have appealed to virtual particles as an empirical falsification of premise (1), but this is false. If my opponent wishes to raise this objection, I will answer it. Suffice it to say that premise (1) has experience on its side.


(2) The Universe Began to Exist

Here I will sketch two arguments for premise (2), a scientific argument and a philosophical argument.


1. The Impossibility of an Actually Infinite Number of Things

An actual infinite is a collection of things who’s total number of members is infinite. It is not growing towards infinity, it is complete and actual. An example of this would be the set of all positive numbers. I will argue that an actual infinite, so defined, cannot exist because its real existence leads to absurdities.

Imagine an infinite collection of marbles, numbered 1, 2, 3, and so on out to infinite. Now imagine that you want to give your friend some marbles because he doesn’t have any. You take away all the even numbered marbles and give them to your friend. How many marbles do you have left? An infinite amount, for you still have all the odd numbered marbles. Here infinity minus infinity equals infinity. But now rewind the scenario, so that you have all the marbles again. This time you decide to give your friend all the marbles numbered 3 and above. How many marbles would you have left? Well, 2. Here infinity minus infinity equals 2. But that contradicts the answer we got in our first thought experiment. Because the real existence of an actual infinite leads to contradictions, it cannot exist in reality.

But if the universe is eternal in the past, then there have been an actually infinite number of events in the history of the universe prior to today. Because an actually infinite number of things cannot exist, the universe cannot be eternal. Rather, it had a beginning.

We can summarize our argument as follows:

1. An actually infinite number of things cannot exist.

2. An infinite number of past events is an actual infinite.

3. Therefore, the number of past events must be finite.


2. The Big Bang Theory

In the early 1900s, Albert Einstein formulated his General Theory of Relativity (GR). One of the disturbing implications of GR was that it predicted the universe was either expanding or contracting, which contradicted the then dominant idea that the universe was static and unchanging. A few years later two physicists independently found solutions to the equations of GR, which predicted an expanding universe. Later that same decade Hubble observed the light from distant galaxies was shifting towards the red end of the spectrum, which implied that they were moving away at fantastic speeds. This implied the universe was expanding. This was the first of many empirical confirmations of what later became known as the Big Bang theory.


Because this theory is based on the equations of GR, it does not predict that galaxies are being pushed apart from a central point, but rather that space itself is expanding. As you trace the expansion backwards in time, space gets smaller and galaxies get closer together. The universe gets denser and denser, until you reach a time when everything is crushed down to a point. The density of the universe at this point is infinite. Before this, the universe did not exist.

Some object that because GR breaks down at the first split-second of the universe, we cannot say what happened during that time. This is true, but irrelevant. In 2003, three cosmologists crafted the BGV theorem, which shows that any universe which is on average in a state of cosmic expansion cannot be eternal in the past.

Cosmologist Alex Vilenkin writes:

“It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men, and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place [the BGV theorem], cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” [1]


(4) If the Universe has a Cause, that Cause is a Spaceless, Timeless, Changeless, Immaterial, Beginningless, Uncaused, Enormously Powerful Mind

Having established the universe has a cause, we may now inquire what such a cause must be like. As a cause of space and time, this cause must be spaceless and timeless. It must therefore be immaterial and changeless. This cause must be uncaused, for as we’ve seen there cannot be an infinite regress of causes; you must get back to an Uncaused First Cause. This cause must therefore be beginningless, for anything with a beginning has a cause.

But I think we can go beyond that and establish that this cause is also personal.


1. Abstract Objects vs. Unembodied Minds

There are only two things which could be spaceless and timeless: abstract objects, such as a number, or unembodied minds. But abstract objects can’t cause anything, let alone the universe. That’s part of what it means to be an abstract object. Therefore, the cause of the universe must be an unembodied Mind.



Notes

[1] Vilenkin, Alexander. Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print. 176.

DakotaKrafick

Con

Thank you, Miles, for making this debate possible.

As my opponent has established, he is the one wholly carrying the burden of proof. My onus in this debate is not to prove the KCA unsound, but merely to raise sufficient doubt to Miles' justification for its soundness. For example, if he were trying to prove the resolution "It will rain in New York City exactly three years from now," I wouldn't have to prove that it will be, in fact, sunny in New York City three years from now; I would simply have to refute whatever reasons he gives for predicting rainy weather.

With that in mind, throughout the course of this debate, I will offer a simple yet effective refutation to Miles' justification of the KCA that need not extend further than even the first premise, which is (as stated by Miles) "Whatever begins to exist has [an efficient] cause". He gives three basic warrants to believe this is the case, all of which rest on some pretty basic misconceptions:

(i) Something cannot come from nothing.
(ii) If something could come from nothing, then why isn't that happening right now?
(iii) Common experience confirms and never falsifies the first premise.

The first two points are less warrants for proving his first premise true than they are counter-objections to the claim that the universe came into being ex nihilo (from nothingness), a claim I did not and will not make. Meanwhile, the final point is pretty much just a skeleton of a warrant, stating no more than "virtual particles don't prove this untrue, which I will go into detail about if I must". It does seem true, though, that personal experience only varifies the first premise: everything we witness beginning to exist does so via some efficient cause, but that is only because everything we witness beginning to exist does so ex materia (from pre-existing materials), which is incomparable to the universe itself.

This brings me to what I believe is the KCA's most easy-to-understand flaw and the most salient problem premise one suffers from: its hasty generalization in grouping everything into one category of efficiently-caused things. Certainly, there are things which we know began to exist and are efficiently-caused: tables, airplanes, and even planets and people (efficiently-cased by gravity and parents respectively). But these things all began to exist ex materia, while the universe itself did not. To conclude the latter must be efficiently-caused because the former are commits a rash leap in inductive reasoning, equivilant to concluding that all adult persons are capable of carrying unborn children to term because some female adult persons can.

To uncover the first premise's hidden assumptions, we must break it down into smaller, bite-sized pieces, covering all the different ways something can begin to exist: ex materia, ex nihilo, ex deo, and what I will call "sans ex". Pick your poison, Miles:

Revised KCA I (ex materia; from pre-existing materials)
(P1') Whatever begins to exist ex materia has an efficient cause.
(P2') The universe began to exist ex materia.
(C') Therefore, the unvierse has an efficient cause.

The first premise here is where all of our personal experience and emprical evidence seems to point us. It is more plausible than not that whatever has a material cause also has an efficient cause. Undoubtadly, though, the second premise is false; we're not talking about the true beginning of the universe if there were pre-existing materials!

Revised KCA II (ex nihilo; from nothingness)
(P1') Whatever begins to exist ex nihilo has an efficient cause.
(P2') The universe began to exist ex nihilo.
(C') Therefore, the unvierse has an efficient cause.

This one sufferes from many problems, a couple of which my opponent was kind enough to already explain himself: his first two warrants, especially (i) something cannot come from nothing.

Of course, even if we were to somehow forgive these problems and grant the unlikely truth of premise two, it would still leave the argument disappointingly question-begging, since the only thing which we know of that actually fits into the category of having began to exist ex nihilo is the universe itself! In other words, "whatever begins to exist ex nihilo" can only refer to "the universe itself" and so the two terms are synonymous. Such crippling problems leave the argument looking like little more than "The universe has an efficient cause; therefore, the universe has an efficient cause".

Revised KCA III (ex deo; from God)
(P1') Whatever begins to exist ex deo has an efficient cause.
(P2') The universe began to exist ex deo.
(C') Therefore, the unvierse has an efficient cause.

Speaking of question-begging, I hope I don't need to explain to my opponent why he shouldn't choose this version of the KCA. The second premise literally is the conclusion he is trying to eventually establish.

Revised KCA IV ("sans ex"; not from any of the three "ex"s)
(P1') Whatever begins to exist sans ex has an efficient cause.
(P2') The universe began to exist sans ex.
(C') Therefore, the unvierse has an efficient cause.

Mainly for those curious for answers when all others are shot down, I offer my own interpretation of the beginning of the universe here with what I like to call "sans ex" (not from not from any of the three "ex"s). Only when it is granted that there must be some previously or alternatly existing state of affairs sans the universe for the universe to begin to exist do the aforementioned problems arise. But why must we grant such a idea?

Miles offered two warrants for beliving the universe began to exist: (i) the philosophical argument stating that an actual infinite is impossible, and (ii) the scientific argument stating that the universe's past is finite, beginning at the Big Bang's singularity. Both of these warrants are justification for believing there was a first moment in time, T=0. That there was a first moment in time is enough to say the universe "began to exist" but to the best of our scientific and philisophical knowledge, there was no previously or alternately existing state of affairs in relation to T=0, be it pre-existing materials or nothingness or anything else.

I agree with premise two in this argument, but premise one is as question-begging as it is in the "ex nihilo" version: "whatever begins to exist sans ex" can only, with our knowledge, refer to "the universe itself".

Regardless of which revision my opponent chooses to clarify the context of his first premise, we can see the argument itself suffers from either being too unwarranted, too question-begging, or both. I now give the floor to you, Miles.
Debate Round No. 2
Miles_Donahue

Pro

Preliminary Remarks

I would like to thank my opponent for his substantial criticisms. Other than a few passing remarks, he’s confined those criticisms to premise (1), thereby putting all his eggs into one basket. If the basket unravels, then so does his case against the KCA. In my estimation, this indeed is the case. Let’s turn now to premise (1).


(1) Whatever Begins to Exist has a Cause

You will recall that I offered three lines of evidence for premise (1):

i. The metaphysical principles that something cannot come from nothing.


ii. If something could come into being without a cause, it becomes inexplicable why anything and everything do not come into being uncaused.

iii. Premise (1) is constantly verified and never falsified.

With regard to (i), all my opponent really has to say is that it doesn’t establish premise (1) so much as it’s a counter-objection to the claim that they universe came into being ex nihilo. But I don’t think that’s the case. For the principle “out of nothing, nothing comes” precludes things arising without a cause ex materia, ex deo, and sans ex just as much as it precludes things arising without a cause ex nihilo. Remember, an efficient cause is what brings its effect into being. If a table came into being from a stack of wood without a cause, there would be nothing that brought the table into being and therefore it would come from nothing, even if the materials out of which the table was made did not likewise come into being out of nothing. We have to make a distinction between a thing, and that which the thing is made out of. Reason (i) could be rephrased as “being cannot come from non-being”. Even if something arises without a cause from some pre-existent material, that entity would have no cause that brought it into being, and therefore it would come from non-being.

Concerning (ii), my opponent raises the same objection as he does to (i). But this is plainly false. We could rephrase (ii) as, “If something could come into being without a cause ex material, ex deo, ex nihilo or sans ex without a cause, then it becomes inexplicable why anything and everything doesn’t come into being without a cause ex materia, ex deo, ex nihilo or sans ex.” Therefore (ii) rules out all uncaused things, no matter the origin of the material of which they are composed.

But (iii) did see some substantial interaction. He rightly chastises me for not expanding on this line of evidence, but when the character limit is 8,000, you have to make some cuts. I will expand on my thoughts here. In every day experience, we see that whatever begins to exist has a cause. We have no experience of something coming into being without a cause. Therefore, we can make an inductive generalization that whatever begins to exist has a cause. My opponent says that our experience is only of things beginning to exist ex materia, so we just don’t know whether the same principles apply to things that begin to exist ex nihilo, such as the universe. While this claim could be challenged (it seems quite plausible that a series of mental states is an immaterial sequence of causes and effects), it needn’t be. For, in the absence of any reason to think that things which begin to exist ex nihilo cannot have causes, the inductive generalization goes through. What my opponent would have to show is that we have overriding reasons to think that things which begin to exist ex nihilo cannot have causes, which would serve to outweigh the inductive evidence. His example of male and female persons carrying babies illustrates my point. The reason the inductive evidence that all adult females can carry babies fails to establish that all adult persons can carry babies is that we have biological evidence that males cannot carry babies. But my opponent has given no “biological evidence”, so to speak, that things cannot arise ex nihilo with a cause. Therefore, the inductive evidence goes through.

For these reasons, I hold to the stronger causal principle enunciated in premise (1), that whatever begins to exist, whether ex materia, ex deo, ex nihilo, or sans ex, has a cause.


(2) The Universe Began to Exist


Here my opponent and I are largely in agreement. But, he says, to the best of our knowledge, there was no existing state of affairs prior to the universe. I completely agree. Time began to exist along with the universe, and therefore there cannot be anything prior to the beginning. It seems he’s confused, though, when he says that this implies not even nothingness existed prior to the universe. Here it seems he’s reifying negative terms. By “nothing”, I do not mean something which has the property of nothingness. I mean “no thing.” To say nothing existed prior to the universe is not to say that there was a state of nothingness prior to the universe, but that there was no state of anything prior to the universe. The following exchange illustrates my point:

“Nothing stopped the wave at it crashed down on the city.”

“Oh, thank God the wave was stopped!”

“What? No, nothing stopped the wave.”

“I know! I’m thanking God that the wave was stopped.”

“It wasn’t stopped though!”

“But you said nothing stopped it!”

“No! I meant that not anything stopped it!”

“Well why didn’t you just say so?!”

Again, by “nothing” I mean “not anything.” With agreement reached on premise (2), let’s move on.


(3) Therefore, the Universe has a Cause


This follows logically and necessarily from the two premises, and we’ve seen no objections that imply it does not follow.


(4) If the Universe has a Cause, that Cause is a Spaceless, Timeless, Changeless, Immaterial, Beginningless, Uncaused, Enormously Powerful Mind


Here we’ve seen no objections by my opponent. I would like to add that because the cause of the universe cannot be before the beginning of the universe, it must be simultaneous with it. God’s willing the universe into being is simultaneous with the beginning of the universe, and therefore does not contradict the idea that there was nothing prior to the beginning of the universe.

(5) Therefore, the Cause of the Universe is a Spaceless, Timeless, Changeless, Immaterial, Beginningless, Uncaused, Enormously Powerful Mind


My opponent does make some passing remarks that creation ex nihilo violates my first line of evidence for premise (1), (i) something cannot come from nothing. To avoid confusion, we can rephrase this principle as being cannot come from non-being. Even if the universe is created out of nothing, it does not come from non-being. In this case, the universe (being) comes from God (being). He is the efficient cause of the universe, and therefore being comes from being, and so does not violate (i).

The floor is all yours, Dakota.

DakotaKrafick

Con

Thank you for your response, Miles, and thank you for your important clarifications and your humorous conversation about the tidal wave. Let's take a look again at the three warrants he uses to support his first premise, that whatever begins to exist has an efficient cause, and why they fail.

(i) Something cannot come from nothing

My opponent has clarified his first warrant (i) is indeed, not a counter-objection to the idea that the universe came into being ex nihilo; he says it's not to say that "things can't come into being out of nothingness", but that "being cannot come from non-being" (or, in other words, without an efficient cause). So, to summarize, my opponent's first premise states "Whatever begins to exist has an efficient cause" and his first warrant to support this premise is the principle that nothing can begin to exist without an efficient cause; but this principle and his first premise are one and the same. Basically, he supports his claim by repeating it in a slightly different way: "Everything that begins to exist must have a cause, because nothing can begin to exist without a cause." In light of this sneaky use of tautology, I don't even consider his first warrant a warrant anymore, but a restating of the premise itself. Now his premise is left with two warrants: (ii) if things can begin to exist uncaused, why aren't they now? and (iii) personal experience always verifies the first premise.

(ii) If things can begin to exist uncaused, why aren't they now?/(iii) Personal experience always verifies the first premise

If it is true that the universe came into being ex nihilo or sans ex, then it has existed for all points in time; in other words, there was nothing temporally prior to the universe (which my opponent, of course, concedes). That is the salient difference between the universe itself and the things in the universe which we witness beginning to exist: the former was temporally preceeded by nothing while everything that fits into the latter category was.

So, if we were to categorize things in an even broader way than I did in my previous round into a true dichtomoy, we can say there are (a) things which begin to exist and temporally proceed something else, and (b) things which begin to exist and do not temporally proceed something else.

The only things my opponent has given us are good reasons to believe those (a) things (such as tables) have efficient causes, yet he's done nothing to show us why those (b) things (such as time itself and the universe) must have efficient causes. His third warrant, that personal experience varifies the first premise, holds true only for those (a) things. Our personal experience tells us absolutely nothing about things which begin to exist and do not temporally proceed something else, like the universe. He wants to tell us that his inducting reasoning is valid in this case, but it isn't. Good inductive reasoning would have us conclude that because all (a) things we see have efficient causes, then all (a) things ever probably have efficient causes, but it would not have us conclude anything at all about (b) things.

To respond to the question: "If (b) things can begin to exist without causes, then why doesn't it happen nowadays?" It's because it would be logically impossible; it's not T=0 anymore! We're not living in the Big Bang's singularity; we're living in the year 2013 ACE some billions and billions of years after (b) things ever began to exist! (b) things can't even begin to exist anymore because every thing that begins to exist nowadays does so temporally proceeding something else. The question itself is point-missingly irrelevant.

Without any substantial warrants to support Miles' first premise, we cannot embrace the truth of it or the argument's eventual conclusion. And now I hand the floor to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 3
Miles_Donahue

Pro

In my closing remarks, I’d like to review not only the arguments for premise (1) in light of my opponent’s criticisms, but also the arguments I gave for premises (2) and (4). To premise (1) we turn first.


(1) Whatever Begins to Exist has a Cause


I offered three reasons for thinking that (1) whatever begins to exist has a cause:

i. The metaphysical principle being cannot come from non-being.

ii. If something could come into being without a cause, then it becomes inexplicable why anything and everything doesn’t come into being without a cause.

iii. Common experience confirms and never falsifies premise (1).

Concerning (i), my opponent charges that the principle “something cannot come from nothing” is synonymous with premise (1), so it’s not a warrant for (1) but a mere restatement of it. But I think this is mistaken. (i) is more ontologically basic than premise (1); it grounds the truth of and explains why premise (1) is true. In other words, whatever begins to exist has a cause because being cannot come from non-being. (i) provides a deeper explanation of (1) and is more obviously true than (1). Someone might think that things can begin to exist without a cause, but then reflect that that would entail being coming from non-being, and so change their minds.

William Lane Craig responds to this charge:

“Well I don’t that’s true. I think that the one can provide a deeper explanation for the other and can be more evidently true than the other. Sometimes rewording a claim in a certain way can make it more perspicuous. And I think that the vast majority of people, certainly the vast majority of philosophers, have believed that being doesn’t come from non-being, that being only comes from being and that therefore it is a certain first principle of metaphysics that something doesn’t come from nothing…” [1]

And I think that when we reflect on this metaphysical first principle, we can see that it is true. How could the potentiality for something’s existence be actualized without a cause? There’s nothing to turn that potentiality into actuality, and so it should not happen, right? Indeed, in the case of the universe, there wasn’t even the potentiality for its existence, because there was literally nothing before it began to exist.

With regard to (ii), my opponent says that only things which being to exist at T=0 can do so without causes. If we ask why this no longer happens, as (ii) does, he says that it’s logically impossible for things now to begin to exist as T=0, so there’s no problem. I have three responses to this. First, there’s still no explanation as to why the universe began at T=0 and not root beer, an alien civilization, or even an omnipotent, unembodied Mind (!). Second, there’s no explanation why everything didn’t come into being at T=0. Because it’s possible that every logically possible thing begin at T=0, we are left with no explanation as to why this did not happen. Unless my opponent is willing to accept the absurd proposition that everything that can exist does exist, he shouldn’t allow even one thing to begin without a cause at T=0. Third, there can’t be anything which causes things to come into being without a cause at T=0 and not at later points in time. For if something really comes into being without a cause, then there can’t be anything which constrains nothingness so that things can only begin without causes at T=0 and at no later time. If things can come into being without causes at T=0, then there’s no reason why they do not do so at T=1, T=2, and so on.

Again, William Lane Craig responds to this objection:

“Sometimes critics will say that while it is impossible for things to come into being uncaused in time, things can come into being uncaused with time, that is, at a first moment of time. But until the premise’s detractors are able to explain the relevant difference between embedded moments of time and a first moment of time, there seems to be no reason to think it more plausible that things can come into being uncaused at a first moment than at a later moment of time. If something cannot come into existence at t, where t is preceded by earlier moments of time, why think that if we were to annihilate all moments earlier than t, then that thing could come into existence uncaused at t? How could the existence of moments earlier than an uncaused event be of any possible relevance to the occurrence of that event?” [2]

Finally, let's turn to (iii). Notice, my opponent does not disagree that common experience confirms and never falsifies premise (1). He does point out that we only experience things which are temporally preceed beginning to exist with causes. I’ve already pointed out that temporal priority just doesn’t seem to have any releveance to causality, but I’d also say that there’s no reason why the inductive generalization from “things which are temporally preceded begin to exist with causes” cannot go to establish the broader causal principle “whatever begins to exist has a cause.” In light of the fact that there’s no reason to think that if something has no temporal precursor it cannot have a cause, the inductive generalization goes through. To use my opponent’s terminology, stopping the inductive generalization at (a) is wholly arbitrary. There’s just no reason not to carry it out all the way. Consider the set of all things which begin to exist (c), and consider (a) a sampling of those things. We draw the inference that because everything in the subset (a) has a cause, therefore everything in (c) has a cause. This just is inductive reasoning, and I don’t think my opponent has raised any significant objections to it.


(2) The Universe Began to Exist


We’ve seen no reason to think the universe did not begin to exist, and two reasons to think that it did: (i) the impossibility of an actually infinite number of things, and (ii) the Big Bang theory. My opponent has raised no significant objections to these two lines of evidence, so I think we can all agree that the universe began to exist.


(3) Therefore, the Universe has a Cause


This follows deductively and necessarily from the two premises. Because premise (1) and (2) are more plausibly true than false, we can conclude that the universe has a cause.


(4) If the Universe has a Cause, that Cause is a Spaceless, Timeless, Changeless, Immaterial, Beginningless, Uncaused, Enormously Powerful Mind


We’ve seen no objections to premise (4), and I refer the reader back to my opening speech for the reasons to accept this premise, which I believe demonstrate that it's more plausibly true than false. Accordingly, we can conclude that if the universe has a cause, then that cause is a spaceless, timeless, changeless, immaterial, beginningless, uncaused, enormously powerful Mind.


(5) Therefore the Cause of the Universe is a Spaceless, Timeless, Changeless, Immaterial, Beginningless, Uncaused, Enormously Powerful Mind


This, too, follows deductively and necessarily from premises (3) and (4). Because (3) and (4) are more plausibly true than false, we can conclude that it is more plausibly true than false that the cause of the universe is a spaceless, timeless, changeless, immaterial, beginningless, uncaused, enormously powerful Mind.

Conclusion

It seems to me that I’ve demonstrated that the premises of the KCA are more plausibly true than false, and because it's deductively valid, I’ve in turn demonstrated that the kalam cosmological argument is sound. I ask that my opponent not raise any new arguments in his closing speech, for the simple reason that I cannot respond to them.

I thank him for this mind-expanding exchange.

Notes

[1] Craig, W. L. (Speaker). (10 May 2010) Reasonable Faith [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from www.reasonablefaith.org.

[2] William Lane Craig, and James Sinclair, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument,” http://commonsenseatheism.com...;(18 July 2013), 94.

DakotaKrafick

Con

Thank you for your response, Miles. In my previous round, I outlined two types of things: (a) things that are temporally subsequent to something else, and (b) things that are not temporally subsequent to something else. Most things we imagine are (a) things: tables, people, cars, airplanes, planets, stars, plants, etc. They are things which proceed something else; things which there is some point in time X when they exist and some point in time prior to X when they did not.

Then there are (b) things: things which there was no other thing temporally prior. These include such things as the laws of physics, the laws of logic, time itself, and, indeed, the universe.

If my opponent had merely made the claim "All (a) things which begin to exist have an efficient cause" I would be much less hesitent to disagree; instead, he makes the bold claim "All (a) things and (b) things which begin to exist have an efficient cause". Since I concede the likely truth of the former claim, the only part of the latter claim of any interest to me is that (b) things which begin to exist have an efficient cause.

Can it be proven more plausible than not that all (b) things which begin to exist have an efficient cause? I don't think it can be, though my opponent has partially adopted the tactic of shifting the burden of proof in his most recent round, something done when one's own claim has little to no warrant backing it up. If my opponent and I were medically ignorant and were discussing what caused cancer and he claimed it was demons, he would have to prove to us demons are probably the cause of cancer; if I pointed out he had no evidence to support such a claim, he would be out of bounds to turn it around and ask "If not demons, then what does cause cancer, smart guy?" My inability to answer this question is not to be confused with supporting evidence demons are, in fact, the cause of cancer.

With that in mind, let's take a look at my opponent's three warrants for this claim and why they fail:

(i) Something cannot come from nothing.

My opponent objects to my accusation of warrant (i) being a mere rewording of premise (1), but I'm happy to report nothing he said actually refutes that accusation. He says warrant (i) grounds the truth of premise (1) and explains why it is true; premise (1) is true because warrant (i) is true. We can clearly see that if warrant (i) were true, then premise (1) would also have to be immediately granted, but that is only precisely because they are tautological!

Premise (1) states "If something begins to exist, then it must have an efficient cause" whereas warrant (i) states "If something begins to exist, then it can't have no efficient cause". Sure, premise (1) is true because warrant (i) is true, but that's like saying "It's true that I'm wearing a top hat because it's not true that I'm not wearing a top hat." I haven't proved to you I'm wearing a top hat merely by pleading it's absurd to think otherwise; I simply said the same thing twice and put the word "because" between them.

Which brings me to this line my opponent wrote: "Someone might think that things can begin to exist without a cause, but then reflect that that would entail being coming from non-being, and so change their minds." Someone might think that things can begin to exist without a cause, but then realize that would mean things can begin to exist without a cause, so change their mind... I'm not going to change my mind by simply realizing what it is I was thinking to begin with, regardless of how many times my opponent repeats his claim with different wording.

He asks, "How could the potentiality for something’s existence be actualized without a cause?" But the word "actualized" here implies that the universe is something which did not exist at some point in time (which is patently false); as I've been trying to say for three rounds now, the universe was not "actualized". It did not "come into being" or anything else of the sort. It simply always was; for all past points in time, it always was. The question is therefore misguided.

(ii) If (b) things can begin to exist without cause, why isn't it happening nowadays?

Here, I explained that this question clearly misses the point of distinguishing between (a) things and (b) things. (b) things are those which nothing was temporally prior to. If something began to exist right now, uncaused or not, it would not qualifiy as a (b) thing. My opponent continues to miss the point by stating "there can’t be anything which causes things to come into being without a cause at T=0 and not at later points in time". Firstly, this sentence is utterly meaningless since it talks of something causing something to be uncaused. Think about that. Of course, it makes no sense.

Secondly, it continues to ask "if things could be uncaused at T=0, why can't they be uncaused at T=1 or T=2 or so on?" In other words, if (b) things can be uncaused, why can't (a) things? Because there is a huge difference between (a) things and (b) things, thus the separation of terms: that there are points of time prior to (a) things to enable a chain of causes. Anything which is temporally finite ((a) things) is logically contingent (which is to say, neither logically necessary nor impossible). My opponent would like to use inductive reasoning to conclude that all (b) things have causes because all (a) things do; should we then grant that all (b) things must be logically contingent because all (a) things are? Of course not! For many, if not all, (b) things, we can clearly see they exist because they are necessary, such as the laws of logic. It is not unreasonable to believe that some state of existence (such as our universe in its infancy) is logically necessary.

My opponent claims I can't explain why it is that the Big Bang existed the way it did if it were uncaused and not anything else, like a two-ton giant cheeseburger or something. That's true; I'm a layman when it comes to theoretical physics so, just as I can't explain what causes cancer, I can't explain why the Big Bang wasn't a giant cheeseburger.

(iii) Common experience varifies the truth of the first premise.

Again, warrant (iii) does its job to support premise (1) to the extent of (a) things and no further. As explained previously, there is no reason to grant my opponent's leap in inductive reasoning from (a) things to (b) things; in fact, there is reason to disallow such a grant!

To conclude, warrant (i) is nothing more than a sly use of tautology, warrant (ii) is point-missingly misinformed, and warrant (iii) is irrelevant as our common experience says nothing of the causes (or lack thereof) of (b) things. Thank you, Miles, for partaking in this interesting debate with me and thank you, members of the audience, for taking the time to read and enjoy it.
Debate Round No. 4
95 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Bullish 3 years ago
Bullish
One more thing. I've seen the phrase "sans ex" pop up a few time, but only ever on DDO, I know "sans" means without and "ex" means out of, but he combination doesn't really make sense to me. Anyone explain please?
Posted by DakotaKrafick 3 years ago
DakotaKrafick
@calculatedr1sk: "This was among the best KCA debates I've read in terms of clarity, depth, conduct, and even humor."

Very glad you enjoyed it, though I think all the humor came from my opponent :)
Posted by DakotaKrafick 3 years ago
DakotaKrafick
@Bullish: "I think I may possibly be dangerously oversimplifying the arguments of the debaters."

That means I did well; my argument here is meant to be as simple as possible. And yes, I only raised objections to premise 1. I have objections to the other premises, but find them unnecessary to voice; not to mention I'd go way over 8,000 characters if I did.
Posted by DakotaKrafick 3 years ago
DakotaKrafick
Yes, the KCA is very complex, and as this debate suggests, you can argue all day about just one of the premises. It really blows my mind (in an irking kind of way) when WLC offers all five of his arguments for God in a live debate when he knows full well just one of those arguments (or just one of the premises from one of those arguments) could take longer to debate than they have time for.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
begin to exist*
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
One thing we can all agree on, is that the KCA is a very complicated argument. It really baffles me when people claim it is simple. Even what it means to begin to exists is a debate in itself.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Sargon always takes voting seriously. Which I totally respect.
Posted by DakotaKrafick 3 years ago
DakotaKrafick
Wow, now there's an RFD I can appreciate. Thanks for going so in-depth, Sargon.
Posted by Miles_Donahue 3 years ago
Miles_Donahue
Fair review, Sargon, though I disagree with some of your interpretations. I'll admit, we tread some deep intellectual waters in this debate. Next time, I'll define my terms a bit more clearly.
Posted by Sargon 3 years ago
Sargon
Miles Donahue (Pro) vs. NorthDakotaKrafick (Con)
A Debate Review
Started: 7/10/2013
Concluded: 7/22/13
Category: Philosophy
Debate No: 35347

[1 of 4]

I agree with the two voters who gave sources points to Pro. I don"t think Con should get sources counted against him for the lack of sources, because his argument didn"t depend on sources. I think Con should get sources counted against him because Pro used sources to justify his factual assertions. I"m supposed to be evaluating whom, on balance, made better use of sources. That has to be Pro.

I created a outline of the debate for readability. I think a lot of people were confused about this debate, and didn"t vote on the arguments as a result. So, here"s the best I can give, focusing on the debate over P1.

R2 Warrant: Something cannot come from nothing: if something could come into being out of nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why anything and everything doesn"t come into being out of nothing. Also, common experience confirms and never falsifies premise one.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Bullish 3 years ago
Bullish
Miles_DonahueDakotaKrafickTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:00 
Reasons for voting decision: I think I may possibly be dangerously oversimplifying the arguments of the debaters. PRO seem to argue that since all (a) things are contingent and caused, we can logically induce that all (b) things have the same property, since there are no significant distinctions in time other than where they are. CON argues that it is logical to separate (a) things from (b) things because they differ inherently: (a) things are material while (b) things are material and metaphysical laws. If CON has arguments against the other contentions, which I think he could have, he did not present them. My ignorance makes me unable to decide whether PRO or CON have had the better reasoning. So arguments was a tie unless I become enlightened in the next 22 hours. I don't think the "Sources" votes should count, because this is almost a pure phosophical debate, and I believe that sources are only good for statistics.
Vote Placed by calculatedr1sk 3 years ago
calculatedr1sk
Miles_DonahueDakotaKrafickTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: This was among the best KCA debates I've read in terms of clarity, depth, conduct, and even humor. Both participants should be proud of the work done in this debate, and kudos to Sargon for his excellent review. I was a little bit disappointed that premise 4 was not chosen as a battleground because, for me at least, that one seems the strangest and most question-begging premise, but there was plenty of back and forth to be had over premise 1, so I don't at all feel short changed. Pro did have strong answers to Con's round 2, but by the final round Con was able to convincingly undermine warrants i, ii, and iii, despite Pro's assist from WLC (which at least earned him sources).
Vote Placed by Sargon 3 years ago
Sargon
Miles_DonahueDakotaKrafickTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:25 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments. EDIT: I know this is controversial, but wait until the end to read if you're thinking of CVB. Two extra points to Con in order to counter Chapule's vote. Nothing in his vote indicates that he read this debate. I know it's looked down upon to counter and vote at the same time, but I think it's justified in this case, as there is not much time to analyze the vote and get someone else to counter.
Vote Placed by GOP 3 years ago
GOP
Miles_DonahueDakotaKrafickTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:20 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro actually had the sources, like the other voters said.
Vote Placed by Chapule 3 years ago
Chapule
Miles_DonahueDakotaKrafickTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:20 
Reasons for voting decision: sources to pro by default. The rest was more semantics than facts
Vote Placed by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Miles_DonahueDakotaKrafickTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:20 
Reasons for voting decision: I'm just going to sit this one out as far as voting on arguments go actually. The situations revolving this debate make it extremely difficult to judge. However, Miles had sources, so he gets the source vote.