The Instigator
Miles_Donahue
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
wiploc
Con (against)
Winning
17 Points

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is Sound

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Post Voting Period
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after 7 votes the winner is...
wiploc
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/16/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,457 times Debate No: 35660
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (119)
Votes (7)

 

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 think that the KCA is sound.
II. There are no good reasons to think that the KCA is not sound.

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 raises to any premise.

Here are what I see as the fairest rules:

(1) The burden of proof will be on me to establish that the KCA is sound. My

(2) Con must use his first round for acceptance only.

(3) A maximum of 8,000 characters each round.
wiploc

Con

I accept. Thanks.

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, there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sansthe universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful.

5. Therefore, there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sans the universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful.


I will argue that each premise in this argument is 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, and these two types of causes must be kept distinct. For example, when a carpenter makes a table, he is the efficient case of the table. The stack of wood out of which the table was made is the material cause. What I am claiming is whatever begins to exist has something which brings it into being, whether out of preexisting material or not.

By "universe", 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)

We constantly observe that things which come into being have causes, and never observe things beginning to exist without causes. Therefore, we can make an inductive generalization that whatever begins to exist has a cause.


(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, there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sans the universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful.

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.

wiploc

Con

I. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

There's no reason to believe this.

Also, it's self-serving to single out unbegun things as exceptions to this rule. Why not blue things? That would be just as logical.

I.A. Something cannot come from nothing

I.A.1 Self defeating: If this claim is true, Pro's god can't have made the universe.

I.A.2. Pro doesn't get to make up rules about nothing. Maybe nothing has no rules. If so, it has no rule against something coming from nothing.

I.B. 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

I.B.1. Pro apparently believes that nothing exists now. That's clearly wrong.

I.B.1. Pro thinks that if something ever came from nothing, then it must continue doing so, and in ways obvious to him. Nothing cannot continue creating, for instance, pocket universes that Pro is unaware of; no, it must create "lions and tigers and bears … right now" and right here. Again, Pro doesn't make the rules; there's no reason for us to accept his fantasy about nothing.

I.C. Common experience confirms and never falsifies premise (1).

I.C.1. Common experience does not distinguish between the begun and the unbegun. If the common experience is that things are caused, then Pro shouldn't be positing an uncaused god.

I.C.2. Science, on the other hand, does observe virtual particles. The scientific consensus has long been that these are both begun and uncaused. (The Copenhagen interpretation is "the common interpretation of quantum mechanics by physicists since 1927.") [3]

Bertrand Russell said something like, "When the experts are agreed, the layman does well not to hold the opposite opinion. When the experts disagree, the layman does well to hold no opinion."

Pro opines that all begun things are caused, but this opinion is not supported by scientific consensus. Pro's opinion, then, is a personal whim.



II. The universe began to exist.

I don't know of any reason to believe this. Experts may say that time began at the big bang, but−−in my experience−−they always add something like, "At least we can call this the beginning, because we don't know what happened before that." (Isaac Asimov. Steven Hawking, A Brief History of Time.)

So I walked onto campus to get the answer. I found a cosmologist, and asked him whether the big bang was the actual beginning. He was emphatic: "Nobody knows what happened before the big bang! Nobody knows what happened before the big bang! Nobody knows what happened before the big bang!"

Therefore, Pro shouldn't be acting like this is a resolved question. We do not know whether the universe began. We have no reason to believe Pro's second premise is true.

II.A. The Impossibility of an Actually Infinite Number of Things

Pro argues that infinities are impossible, and that therefore we can't have an infinite past, and that therefore we must have begun.

II.A.1. Pro wrote, "An actual infinite … is complete," as if he thinks there is a highest number. He may be parroting arguments that he doesn't understand.

II.A.2. Pro gives familiar examples of how trans-finite numbers don't behave like finite numbers. It's true, they don't; but that doesn't mean they aren't real. Negative numbers don't behave like positive numbers. Irrational numbers don't behave like rational numbers. Imaginary numbers don't behave like integers. Different numerical systems are useful for representing different aspects of reality. You can't impeach one system by saying it doesn't behave like others. What Pro needs to support his position is a consensus of the experts.

II.A.3. But, once again, the experts do not support him. I put this question to three different physicists. Not one of them believed that infinities don't really exist. We have no reason to believe that Pro's claim is true.

II.B. The Big Bang Theory

II.B.1 Pro writes, "any universe which is on average in a state of cosmic expansion cannot be eternal in the past." That's not relevant. Nobody's claiming there was expansion before the big bang unless there was also contraction. Obviously, you can't get to a singularity by expanding from something smaller.

II.B.2. Plagiarism Note: Pro did not use quotes or attribution, but a Google search shows this exact phrasing at "Cosmological Arguments - Science" at www.allaboutscience/cosmological-arguments.htm. (I didn't click through to the site because WOT (Web of Trust) says it has a poor reputation.)

Further research shows that the quote really comes from William Lane Craig (poor reputation of a different kind) and that Craig was also misrepresenting. Where Vilenkin referred to "'almost all' inflationary models," Craig goes with the cockier, "any universe." [1]

II.B.3. Pro quotes Vilenkin sounding very tough, claiming in effect that all reasonable have to agree with him. "There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning." Does Pro mean to suggest that I am stubbornly ignorant? I don't know, but one web site shows Vilenkin himself waffling on this point: "I would say that the short answer is “yes”. If you are willing to get into subtleties, then the answer is “No, but…." [1]

III Therefore, the universe has a cause.

I argue against this conclusion when I think someone is equivocating the meaning of "universe." Pro isn't equivocating, so I grant that, up to this point−−and although there is no reason to accept his premises−−the form of Pro's argument valid.


IV If the universe has a cause, there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sans the universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful.

Plagiarism Note: The above was neither in quotes nor attributed. It is from WLC's Reasonable Faith website.[2] At this point, if I was voting, I would do a full forfeit: all seven points awarded to Con.

Now, to the merits of WLC's argument: It is just word salad. If something doesn't exist in space or time, then it doesn't exist. This is just Pro (or WLC) making things up again. Pro does not get to regulate WLC's fantasy realm.

IV.A. There are only two things which could be

spaceless and timeless: abstract objects, such

as a number, or unembodied minds.

We've never investigated spaceless places or timeless times. If we chose to fantasize about such realms, why not add non-dimensional unicorns? Pro argued against infinities on the grounds that he doesn't understand them. Well, I don't understand unembodied minds. The idea is ludicrous. Timeless unchanging things can't have thoughts. They cannot be minds.

IV.B 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.

Unembodied minds can't cause anything. That's part of what it means to be unembodied. And it follows from being timeless and unchanging. You can't do anything.

Clearly, Craig is just choosing among absurdities, and his choices reflect only which result he desires. He wants a god, therefore there must be a god. He wants his god to be intellectually justified, therefore any mishmash of words must count as a sound argument.

Conclusion:

- While Pro's first two premises are conceivably true, he gave us no legitimate reason to believe them. None of his supporting arguments withstood scrutiny.

- His later premises are patently absurd and not rationally supported.

- His form was valid as far as the first conclusion. After that, not.

- He relied heavily on plagiarism.

The resolution fails.

Vote Con.

===

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

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

[3] Wikipedia: "Quantum Mechanics" http://en.wikipedia.org...

Debate Round No. 2
Miles_Donahue

Pro

(1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause


You’ll recall that I offered three reasons for accepting premise (1):

i. Something cannot come from nothing.

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

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

With regard to (i), my opponent says that if I accept this, I cannot hold that God created the universe out of nothing. This is false, for in the latter statement, “nothing” is meant as the absence of preexisting material, and in (i) “nothing” means “non-being.” In the case of the universe, being (the universe) comes from being (God). He also complains that I cannot make up rules about nothing. Here, and throughout his response, he’s using “nothing” to mean “something”, which is just incoherent. Thus he says things like “…nothing has no rules…it has no rule against something coming from nothing.” He’s talking about “nothing” as if it were something! Premise (1) is a binding rule on all reality, not “nothing”, which is the absence of reality.

Concerning (ii), my opponent says that I believe nothing exists now. I have no idea what this means, none whatsoever. Clearly I exist, and therefore it is false that nothing exists. He continues to use the word “nothing” to mean “something” when he says, “Nothing cannot continue creating…pocket universes…” That’s an incoherent statement and I don’t see what relevance it has to (ii). There just is no reason why lions and tigers and bears (and pocket universes, for that matter) are not coming into being without a cause right now, if premise (1) is false.

As for (iii), my opponent says that common experience “does not distinguish between the begun and the unbegun.” I take that to mean that common experience would also establish the casual principle:

(1’) Whatever exists has a cause.

But (1’) is plausibly false, because something which is beginningless cannot have a cause, because it never came into being and therefore cannot be brought into being by something else. Therefore, we can only affirm premise (1). God never began to exists and therefore cannot have a cause.

He also raises the objection to (iii) that virtual particles begin to exist uncaused, but this is mistaken. Virtual particles fluctuate into existence from the quantum vacuum, which is a sea of roiling energy. It is indeed something. The quantum vacuum functions as the efficient cause of these virtual particles. This is the case even on the standard Copenhagen interpretation.


(2) The universe began to exist.

The cosmologist my opponent interviewed sounds like a bit of a nut-case! I’m kidding of course. Notice, he does not deny that the universe began to exist, only that we don’t know what happened before the beginning. I offered three reasons to think that (2) the universe began to exist:


1. The Impossibility of an Actually Infinite Number of Things

Regarding the reasons an actually infinite number of things cannot exist, my opponent complains that I take infinity (technically aleph-zero) to be the highest number. This is incorrect. Rather, infinity stands outside the set of numbers, so to speak, and is the number of members in set of natural numbers. He caricatures my argument as one that says because infinite numbers do not behave like finite numbers, they therefore cannot exist. This is emphatically not my argument. What I’m claiming is that because the existence of an actually infinite number of things leads to contradictions, an actual infinite cannot exist in realty. Contra Wiploc, a consensus of the experts is rarely reached, and this fact needn’t deter us from drawing conclusions about the worth of an argument.

As for the three physicists he discussed this argument with, I wouldn’t expect physicists to hold that actual infinities cannot exist. Asking a scientist about the worth of a philosophical argument is like asking a golfer his opinion about the war in Iraq. It just doesn’t matter. But for the purposes of debate, here is the following quote from physicists Ellis, Kirchner, and Stoeger:

“Can there be an infinite set of really existing universes? We suggest that, on the basis of well-known philosophical arguments, the answer is No.” [1]

1. The Big Bang Theory

The professional paper about the BVG Theorem can be found here [2], and I did supply a quote from Vilenkin’s very own book validating the BVG Theorem. I have no idea where my opponent’s charge of plagiarism comes from. It seems to me that he's just trying to score debate points. I can’t make much sense of his comments about pre-big bang contraction. He needs to develop these comments into a model which evades the BVG Theorem.

My statement, “any universe which is on average in a state of comic expansion cannot be past-eternal” was not a quote from William Lane Craig. It was a summary of the BVG Theorem. My opponent fails to cite the source of his quote from Vilenkin, so I cannot see the full context of it. Nevertheless, William Lane Craig gives the full quote in his debate with Peter Milican, and Vilenkin is talking about whether the BVG Theorem proves that the universe began to exist, not whether the universe began to exist. See the difference? Either way, he goes on to say that all models that evade the BVG Theorem cannot restore an eternal universe, so for all practical purposes, the BVG Theorem proves the universe had a beginning.

(4) If the universe has a cause, there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sans the universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful. [3]

Giving a premise of an argument without citing where it was originally formulated is not plagiarizing. You might as well argue I’m plagiarizing when I say (2) the universe began to exist, or (2.1) an actually infinite number of things cannot exist. Such a charge is patently absurd. My opponent claims that if something doesn’t exist in space and time, it doesn’t exist. He gives no argument for this assertion. Indeed, his claim assumes that atheism is true, and therefore begs the question! His statement that we’ve never investigated spaceless places or timeless times is logically incoherent. We haven’t investigated these things for the same reason that there are no married bachelors. Non-dimensional unicorns are incoherent and therefore cannot be a cause of the universe.

My opponent cannot simply assert his lack of understanding regarding an unembodied Mind. He needs to give some argument for thinking that such a mind is impossible. He does muse that timeless minds cannot think, but that needn’t bother us. A timeless mind can have a single, changeless state of consciousness (that is, a thought). Again, we’ve seen no argument to the contrary. As for whether an unembodied Mind can cause something, I maintain that without the universe, God is timeless. But with the universe in existence, He is temporal. Because He exercises His causal power in creating the universe, He changes, and is therefore temporal. So long as God is not essentially timeless and unchanging, there’s no problem in Him creating the universe.


Conclusion

It seems to me that most of my opponent’s objections were based on confusion, and I’ve sufficiently answered all of them. I don’t appreciate being called a plagiarizer. If my opponent seriously thought I was plagiarizing, he should have messaged me privately, not accused me publicly.


Notes

[1] G. F. R. Ellis, U. Kirchner, and W. R. Stoeger, “Multiverses and Physical Cosmology,” http://arxiv.org... (18 July 2013), 14. Emphasis mine.

[2] Arvind Borde, Alan H. Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin1, “Inflation is not Past Eternal” http://arxiv.org... (18 July 2013).

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

wiploc

Con

Format Note: Material both bolded and italicized is quotations from Pro's posts.


i. Something cannot come from nothing.

Pro says something cannot come from nothing. I pointed out that if that were true, god couldn't create universes out of nothing. Pro's responses:

1. I should have said "non-being" rather than nothing. This is trivial. And I’m not the one who brought up "nothing."

2. God didn't create the universe from nothing, but rather from pre-existing material, himself. This makes no sense. It is the same as saying that the universe already existed before the beginning.


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

First, that's not an argument. I'm sure Pro would say his god is also inexplicable, but that he is nonetheless true.

Second, Infinite regresses and uncaused causes are both inexplicable. That doesn't mean you can pick one that supports your religion reject the other as false because it is inexplicable. The only appealing thing about infinite regress is that it avoids uncaused causes. The only thing appealing about uncaused causes is that they avoid infinite regress.

Third, Pro does not get to make rules for the inexplicable. He has no authority to enforce his claim that if a universe once came from "non-being" then lions, tigers, and bears are required to spontaneously occur at times and places convenient for his observation.


something which is beginningless cannot have a cause,

Pro rejects the rule that everything needs causes on the grounds that he can "plausibly" make up an exception for things that didn't begin. Objections:

1. He didn't prove that exeption; he just assumed it. He has the burden of proof.

2. It is arbitrary and self serving. If I said the universe started with an uncaused Big Mac, would Pro be satisfied? How about an uncaused big bang? He says things need causes until that rule becomes inconvenient, and then arbitrarily changes it.

3. There is no sense in which god is unbegun and the rest of the universe is begun. For any one definition of "begun," either both are begun or both or unbegun. Therefore, Pro's argument fails entirely.


The quantum vacuum functions as the efficient cause of these virtual particles.

In his second post, Pro carefully distinguishes between efficient cause and material cause. Now he's conflating them.

Pro says virtual particles are caused according to the Copenhagen interpretation. In fact, the Copenhagen interpretation's treatment of virtual particles is the primary reason that we question causation. " In the quantum world … there are no relevant details, just pure chance." [6]


The cosmologist my opponent interviewed sounds like a bit of a nut-case!

Right back at you.

I’m kidding of course.

Right back at you.


1. The Impossibility of an Actually Infinite Number of Things

If this is true, then god (if he exists) began. In which case, Pro's argument fails.

Pro says infinities can't exist. I pointed out that being different from other numbers doesn't make infinities non-existent. Imaginary numbers seem obviously impossible, but we couldn't manufacture computer chips without them. Like infinities, imaginary numbers seem to be accurate descriptions of certain aspects of reality: they seem to be true, real, existent.

Pro protests that his problem isn't that infinities don't behave like finite numbers (but see his examples) but rather that they lead to actual contradictions. But:

1. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea [2] says zero was long rejected by Europeans because it led to actual contradictions. (When you divide by zero.) Ultimately, they had to quit treating it like other numbers.

2. Without infinities, we get as many "actual contradictions" as with. If locations are finite, then there must be sizable gaps between locations. All movement becomes a series of teleportations over gaps that have size without internal locations. That's "inexplicable."


I wouldn’t expect physicists to hold that actual infinities cannot exist.

Physicists don't know math? They aren't the experts at mapping math on to physical reality? It's arrogant philosophers who are never wrong? When I pointed out that Pro hasn't shown Vilenkin's opinion to be the consensus of experts, he waved away consensus as possibly wrong. If even a consensus of experts may be wrong, how much more likely is it that Pro's cherry-picked expert is wrong?


My opponent claims that if something doesn’t exist in space and time, it doesn’t exist. He gives no argument for this assertion.

I'm responding to Pro's claim that things can exist nowhere and nowhen. He can't prove that, but it's vital to his case, so he's trying to shift the burden of proof. It is obvious, self evident, that if something never existed at any time or at any place, then it never existed. Pro wants us to accept all kinds of wild claims without evidence (eg: unembodied minds) but objects when I say something patently obvious.


Indeed, his claim assumes that atheism is true, and therefore begs the question!

The KCA's god was created specifically for the KCA. Refuting the KCA doesn't refute other Christian gods.


My statement, “any universe which is on average in a state of comic expansion cannot be past-eternal” was not a quote from William Lane Craig. It was a summary of the BVG Theorem.

Note that if WLC didn't originate that phrasing then he gave his source. Pro didn't.

Pro also stole this phrasing: "If the universe has a cause, there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sans the universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful." [1]

Pro didn't write those. He copied another's work without attribution. Instead of saying, "Oops, I'll try not to do that again," he's defending plagiarism. Voters, he needs feedback on this.

Plagiarism is "When you copy the exact words or a unique phrase." [3] It is, "using … the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author." [4][emphasis added] "Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s ideas or language without acknowledging that they were not created by you." [5]


Conclusion:

Pro's argument has five steps. He undertook to prove each and every step. If even one step is unproven, then the argument fails.

For reasons made clear above, none of the premises (steps 1, 2, and 3) were proven.

Pro's argument depends entirely on his proving each of these three premises. He can't. His argument fails.

Plagiarism: He is guilty, caught, and unrepentant.

Vote Con.

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


[2] by Charles Seife


[3] OWL: Purdue Online Writing Lab: "Is It Plagiarism Yet?" http://owl.english.purdue.edu...

[4] Dictionary.com: "Plagiarism"

[5] MIT's "Writing and Humanistic Studies: "Avoiding Plagiarism."

http://writing.mit.edu...

[6] University of Oregon: "Copenhagen Interpretation."

http://abyss.uoregon.edu...

Debate Round No. 3
Miles_Donahue

Pro

Preliminary Clarifications

I would like to clarify what I mean by "begins to exist." The following quote should do the job, where t ranges over any non-zero period of time and x ranges over any finite entity:

A. x begins to exist at t if x comes into being at t.

B. x comes into being at t if (i) x exists at t, and the actual world includes no state of affairs in which x exists timelessly, (ii) t is either the first time at which x exists or is separated from any t′< t at which x existed by an interval during which x does not exist, and (iii) x’s existing at t is a tensed fact. [1]

On this understanding, the universe needn’t have a first instant of its existence in order for it to begin to exist. It only needs a first moment (a non-zero period of time) of its existence. It also doesn’t matter whether there was a time at which the universe did not exist. Even if there was no such time, the universe begins to exist so long as it is past-metrically finite and essentially temporal.


(1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause

Let’s review the three lines of evidence I offered for the truth of premise (1):


1. Something cannot come from nothing

I really don’t know how to respond to Wiploc here, because his remarks are so confused. Defining what I mean by the word “nothing” in various contexts is in no sense trivial. I have no idea what he means. Further, I don't think God created the universe out of Himself, though Wiploc seems to think I do. Rather, I think God created the universe ex nihilo, not out of preexistent materials of any sort. My opponent has now put himself in the awkward position of having to show that God created the universe out of Himself, something I know he cannot do.

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

I’ll respond directly to Wiploc’s objections:

First, God is not inexplicable. I hold that He is metaphysically necessary, which means that He exists by a necessity of His own nature. Of course, the kalam cosmological argument does not prove this attribute of God; it merely proves what’s called His factual necessity. But even if there was no explanation for why God exists, it doesn’t follow that the universe therefore can exist inexplicably. Why? Because the universe began to exist, and therefore requires a cause. God, on the other hand, never began to exist.

Second, I never claimed infinite regresses were inexplicable, but rather that the existence of an actually infinite number of things leads to self-contradictions. The same cannot be said for a beginningless, uncaused cause. I’ve already responded to the claim that an uncaused cause is inexplicable.

Third, I’m not “requiring” that lions and tigers and bears must come into being without a cause, but rather that there is no explanation as to why they do not do so.

Common experience confirms and never falsifies premise (1)

My opponent has not criticized this line of evidence, so it stands.

As for Wiploc’s stronger causal premise:

(‘1) Whatever exists has a cause

First, I pointed out that a beginningless entity cannot have a cause, because it never came into being and therefore cannot be brought into being (that is, have a cause). Indeed, the implicit assumption of this premise is that there are no beginningless entities. But if this is the case, you could consider the entire KCA as an argument against premise (‘1), because it lands us with the existence of a beginningless entity.

Second, the cause of the universe cannot be a Big Mac, because a Big Mac is a physical thing and the cause of the universe must be non-physical and immaterial. It cannot be the Big Bang, for the Big Bang is simply the event at which the universe began to exist. The “Big Bang” had a beginning, and therefore requires a cause.

Third, on the above definition of “begins to exist”, God does not begin to exist because He is timeless sans (without) the universe, and one of the requirements of something beginning to exist is that there is no state of affairs in the actual world where that thing is timeless. As for virtual particles, Wiploc didn’t really respond to my claim that the quantum vacuum is the efficient cause of these particles. The quantum vacuum might be a material entity, but it can still function as an efficient cause. Yes, the vacuum is an indeterminate cause, but a cause nonetheless.


(2) The universe began to exist


I offered two reasons to think the universe began to exist:


1. The impossibility of an actually infinite number of things

First, we’ve seen that God does not begin to exist even if there cannot be an actually infinite number of things. He exists timelessly without the universe, and therefore does not endure through an infinite number of events.

Second, imaginary numbers are a prime example of how a mathematical concept can be a useful mathematical device but which has no physical counterpart. Imaginary numbers are the multiples of the square root of -1. Unless my opponent thinks there’s some physical entity which can somehow be described by imaginary numbers, his remarks are irrelevant.

Third, I think zero is a troublesome idea, actually! When we say that that there are no elephants in the room, we do not mean that there are elephants in the room, and the number of them is zero. Rather we just mean there are no elephants in the room. Indeed, the reason infinity and zero can work as mathematical objects is that you're simply restricted from dividing and subtracting by them.

Fourth, I don’t understand Wiploc’s comments here about “sizable gaps between locations.” He might be referencing Zeno’s paradoxes, but I’ve got no idea. He needs to articulate himself more clearly if I’m to respond to his arguments.

Now I didn’t say “physicists don’t understand math”, but rather that they, as
scientists, are not in a position to judge the worth of a philosophical argument. My quotes from Vilenkin were never to validate a philosophical argument, but rather to validate a scientific argument, where his opinion has weight. As for existing outside of space and time, I just don’t have a problem with this idea. Indeed, if the KCA is sound, we must accept such a mode of existence. Indeed, immaterial, atemporal existence is just a different mode of existence from material, temporal existence. Claiming that because the former is not like the latter, it therefore cannot be real is not an argument in any way. I don't know of any contemporary philosopher who thinks "exists" means "to be in space and time."


2. The Big Bang Theory

My opponent has dropped his objections to my second line of evidence for premise (2). On the standard Big Bang model, the universe originates out of nothing and expands to the present state of the universe. Even though we do not yet have a quantum theory of gravity, the BGV theorem still requires the unvierse begin to exist.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I can’t help but smile that Wiploc continues to charge me of plagiarism. I’m sure that most of our readers are smart enough not to be duped by this debater’s trick. I pointed out that if he is to consistently accuse me of plagiarism, he has to say that I'm plagiarizing when I say “(2) the universe began to exist” or “(2.1) an actually infinite number of things cannot exist”, which is just absurd. Nevertheless, I cited my source for premise (4) in the thrid round, so I don't now why he continues to press this charge.


Conclusion

My opponent has neither raised any good objections to the multiple lines of evidence I offered for each premise, nor has he raised good objections to any premise itself. Therefore, the arguments I offered stand, and I conclude that each premise of the KCA is more plausibly true than false. Therefore, the kalam cosmological argument has been shown to be sound.


Notes

[1] Craig, W. L. “J. Howard Sobel on the Kalam Cosmological Argument.” Reasonable Faith. Website. (21 July 2013).

wiploc

Con

… the universe began to exist, and therefore requires a cause. God, on the other hand, never began to exist.

Pro says we can't have an infinite regress. The alternative is that everything began. Pro wants to arbitrarily exempt his god by saying it has a secret timeless aspect. That's gibberish, but if we stipulate that his god is both timeless and timely, then we should stipulate that everything else is too. In which case, nothing began.

When it comes to beginnings, Pro has not established any difference between his god and the rest of the universe. If one began, presumably the other did too.

(Note: This new argument in the final round is a response to Pro's new argument in the final round.)



… God created the universe ex nihilo, not out of preexistent materials of any sort.

Pro said "something cannot come from nothing." Then he said the universe didn't come from nothing. Now he's back to saying it came from nothing, ex nihilo.

If so, then Pro's premise is false. If something can come from nothing, the KCA is not sound.

Lion and Tigers and Bears

Pro said that if the big bang could come from nothing (ex nihilo), then lions and tigers and bears should also come from nothing, and they should do so right here and now where he could observe them. I pointed out that Pro doesn't get to make rules for nothing. Pro said I shouldn't talk about nothing; I should talk about non-being. But I didn't introduce nothing to the conversation; Pro did.

Now Pro properly points out that I have (slightly and benignly) misrepresented him (including in the above paragraph). He didn't say L,T,&B should appear around him now. He merely said it is "inexplicable" (meaning he doesn't know why) that they don't.

That's true, but it's not an argument, unless he means to claim that all unknowns are false. In order then, to lent coherence and relevance to my paraphrase, I substituted "should" for Pro's "I don't understand," so as to have something to argue against.


Common experience confirms and never falsifies premise (1)

My opponent has not criticized this line of evidence, so it stands.

Nonsense. I pointed out that (a) virtual particles seem to begin without cause, and (b) it was arbitrary and self-self serving to single out begun things as being observed in common experience to have cause. Experience gives no weight to Pro's claim.

The weight of experience confirms and never falsifies that minds are not unembodied, but Pro seems to discount experience unless he thinks it supports him.


… a beginningless entity cannot have a cause, because it never came into being and therefore cannot be brought into being (that is, have a cause).

According to Pro's new, eccentric, and pointless definition of "beginning," there's no reason to think anything has a beginning. If Pro's timely god has a timeless aspect, anything else can too. There's no way to tell.

Pro doesn't get to arbitrarily pick one thing and declare that it is the only thing without a beginning. And Pro doesn't get to decide what needs causing and what doesn't. That's fantasy, not sound argument.

Indeed, the implicit assumption of this premise [Whatever exists has a cause] is that there are no beginningless entities.

No, that just implies (not "assumes") an infinite regress.


… the cause of the universe cannot be … the Big Bang, for the Big Bang is simply the event at which the universe began to exist.

That's like saying the cause can't be god, because god is simply the invisible eccentric there when the beginning happened.


The “Big Bang” had a beginning, and therefore requires a cause.

(a) That's a non-sequitur. (See the Copenhagen interpretation.)

(b) Was the big bang was the beginning of the universe? My expert said that the scientific consensus is that nobody knows what happened before the big bang.

(c) Pro hasn't shown that the big bang lacks a timeless aspect.


As for virtual particles, Wiploc didn’t really respond to my claim that the quantum vacuum is the efficient cause of these particles.

I responded: The popular-among-experts Copenhagen interpretation considers those beginnings to be causeless, which destroys Pro's entire argument.

… the vacuum is an indeterminate cause, but a cause nonetheless.

Pro's unsupported personal assertion goes against the majority of expert opinion.

Unless my opponent thinks there’s some physical entity which can somehow be described by imaginary numbers, his remarks are irrelevant.

I'm told that the design and function of computer chips requires imaginary numbers. They don't have the same behavior or application as other numbers, but they do describe the real world. Thus, they are true and actual. Transfinite numbers are the same, as far as I know, and as far as we have been shown in this debate.

Indeed, the reason infinity and zero can work as mathematical objects is that you're simply restricted from dividing and subtracting by them.

That's right! If we avoid using zero in ways that make it misbehave, then zero is a real number. But Pro's "proof" that infinities aren't real consists entirely trying to use them in ways that he thinks makes them misbehave.


… I don’t understand Wiploc’s comments here about “sizable gaps between locations.”

How many locations are on a one inch line? Let's say n. In that case, the gap between locations must be 1/nth of an inch. And that gap can't have any locations in it, according to the no-infinities people.

That's just crazy. Inexplicable. I'm not saying it's not true, because maybe it is. The alternative, after all, is having infinitely many locations in an inch. What I'm saying is that you run into mind-bending paradox whether infinities are real or not. So Pro's declaration that no-infinities is the right answer is self-serving arbitrariness.


My quotes from Vilenkin were never to validate a philosophical argument,

Pro quoted Vilenkin as saying that the universe hasn't been net expanding for infinity. We all agree that it's been expanding since the big bang, but, before that, we don't know. The Vilenkin quote isn't relevant unless Pro shows that the universe was net expanding before the big bang.

BGV theorem still requires the unvierse begin to exist.

On the information Pro has offered us, this is true only if the net expansion of the universe proceeds past the big bang.

Indeed, immaterial, atemporal existence is just a different mode of existence from material, temporal existence.

Except material temporal existence is real, and the other was made up for this exercise.

Claiming that because the former is not like the latter, it therefore cannot be real is not an argument in any way.

Really? Pro thinks it's a great argument when he's talking about infinities.

if he is to consistently accuse me of plagiarism, he has to say that I'm plagiarizing when I say “(2) the universe began to exist” or “(2.1) an actually infinite number of things cannot exist”, which is just absurd.

That not-drawing-the-line fallacy would prove that there's no such thing as plagiarism. Pro could type "the universe began to exist" (5 words) without thinking, without copying someone else, without knowing whether someone else had ever used that phrasing before. But these were copied from others without attribution, as if they were Pro's own words:

  • If the universe has a cause, there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sans the universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful.
  • any universe which is on average in a state of comic expansion cannot be past-eternal

Nevertheless, I cited my source for premise (4) in the thrid round

If you credit your source after being caught, you're still a plagiarist.

Conclusion:

The KCA is a five-step argument. Every step is vital. Pro has undertaken to prove each and every step of the KCA. For reasons made clear in this post and those above, he failed.

Vote Con for persuasion.

Vote Con for conduct.

Note:

Thank's, Pro, for this debate. I admire your clarity, lucidity, and terrifying speed of response.

Debate Round No. 4
119 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
Ok I just returned to this thread after a few day's after Rational-thinkers immature objections I found insulting, I noticed he denies being insulting and accuses me of insulting him first,

Just to clarify,

It does not matter how you define nothing...There is still no scientific rule against something coming from nothing. You just pulled this imaginary rule out of your a*s. Rational thinker

I see the argument that way too, which is why it is such a crappy argument that has 0 merit. Rational Thinker

It's this condescending attitude that annoys me and I will retaliate in kind as I have warned you in the past, Telling me I pull things out of my a*s is deserving to call you childish and also rude and enough to upset me, unless you can speak civily towards me, which I doubt because I have warned you in the past to talk to me civily, then I will take it that you are just seriously immature,

In-fact dude I only lose my temper when it's detrimental to keep it, I found your attitude to be condescending and believe me, you can be grateful that your a million miles away on a key board otherwise I would go toe to toe with you all day long.

And what happened when I tried o post my reply, I typed in the word a*s without skipping the cursor and I couldn't post it, more proof of your intentional foul profanities towards me.

Anyway enough said.
Posted by Miles_Donahue 3 years ago
Miles_Donahue
Oh that is a good idea. Just let me know, Rational_Thinker.
Posted by wiploc 3 years ago
wiploc
I hope you'll move to a discussion thread in the forums rather than private messages. I would like to be able to follow along.
Posted by Miles_Donahue 3 years ago
Miles_Donahue
(; You don't have to do that. Seriously though, feel free to message me your objection to creation ex nihilo. We'll have a good discussion on the problem.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Jk, I'll leave you alone.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"My goodness Rational_Thinker. Will you ever just leave me be? (;"

NEVERRRRR!
Posted by Miles_Donahue 3 years ago
Miles_Donahue
My goodness Rational_Thinker. Will you ever just leave me be? (; I will debate these issues with you some other time, perhaps through private messages. I can't stand debating in the comments section, for whatever reason. Would you message me your objection about creation ex nihilo, in the clearest way you can?

Thanks for your comments, Wiploc.
Posted by wiploc 3 years ago
wiploc
Miles_Donahue wrote:
: I don't appreciate your assuming insincerity on my part (which is what you're doing when you say I'm trying to "baffle-
: them-with-bullshirt").

Not sure how to respond to that from a plagiarist. How about I just quote you setting the tone: "I can"t help but smile that Wiploc continues to charge me of plagiarism. I"m sure that most of our readers are smart enough not to be duped by this debater"s trick."

: If I give an argument in a debate, rest assured that I think that argument is sound.

Then you're a better man than I am. There were times when I couldn't understand what your argument was supposed to be, but I didn't have time to find out. So I had to, as charitably as possible, suppose what you might have meant (eg: god creating the universe from himself) and go with that. In one case, I had to match your ambiguity with my own, so as not to appear to concede a point; I didn't know what either of us meant.

: Attacking my character is completely ad hominem,

I didn't. And I no longer believe you were trying to baffle with bullshirt, which is _why_ I'm asking what you really meant.

: and does nothing to undermine my arguments.

Right, agreed.

: I wasn't "caught" in any sort of contradiction.

One part of your argument requires that things never come from nothing; another part requires they do. It _seems_ like a contradiction, which is why I invite you to explain.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Whether I, an intelligent being, wills a rabbit to pop into existence from nothing, or whether it happens on its own, a rabbit still popped into existence out of nothing! This is the problem.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"God is the efficient cause of the universe and all its contents, even if it has no material cause, so being does not come from non-being when God creates the universe."

Imagine this: Only God exists. Then, you have only God and a universe that exist. There are two options:

(i) God created the universe from himself (ex deo)
(ii) God created the universe from absolutely nothing at all (ex nihilo)

You adhere to (ii), which still entails something from nothing, only this something from nothing would happen by God, and due to God. However, it is still something from nothing. Thus, it still violates ex nihilo nihil fit.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
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Reasons for voting decision: I posted here, instead of the comment section by accident. I may actually judge this debate though.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter all six of Jarhyn's points, Not my first time either, his vote is based upon his personal opinion of WLC, where he offers ad-hominems towards Craig, resulting in a bias vote towards sources. Choosing to represent the KCA and being deducted source points when siding with it's most prominent speaker on the subject, is akin to being deducted source points for citing Richard Dawkins on a debate concerning evolution, also no real content for the debate is given in his RFD, which is unmistakably wrong........ and on a side note to every one else, I do not advocate the KCA, BUT the fact the KCA argues Ex Nhilo is the whole point of the argument, it begins by saying something can not arise from nothing, but in the beginning there was nothing, then concludes by saying only God is able to create Ex Nhilo, which is argued from a biblical viewpoint of refernce, thus God.
Vote Placed by Sargon 3 years ago
Sargon
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by Mikal 3 years ago
Mikal
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Reasons for voting decision: Arguments to con. As a previous voter stated before me, the flaw with Pros argument is that he argued with the pretense that something can not come from nothing. I check the site Con used to show plagarism and it was accurate so for that conduct to con. Arguments to con due to the fact pro could not dispute his argument that something could come from nothing, and that laws today would not apply at that point in time. This is also show by Lawrence Krauss in some of his lectures. Since i am voting strictly on the context of this debate, just for the reason con showed that it was possible to get something from nothing and pro failed to dispute this well. In addition to that Pro never handled Cons claim that because something could come from nothing, his logic for God was counter intuitive. Arguments to con.
Vote Placed by Jarhyn 3 years ago
Jarhyn
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Reasons for voting decision: First, sources to CON as PRO sourced from WLC and did so unattributed, at least initially. WLC is naught but a huckster who is an embarrassment to the philosophical community. Second, convincing also to CON; he dismantled all of PRO's arguments quite handily. That PRO missed the impact and import of CON's arguments speaks poorly to him. Finally conduct to CON for the lack of initial attribution to WLC.
Vote Placed by gordonjames 3 years ago
gordonjames
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Reasons for voting decision: This was hard to assess this debate. Sources go to CON for number of sources. The book by Craig and Sinclair was more clear than this debate. I can't give pro points for argument as he did not convince me so much as his reference made me curious enough to read the whole 100 pages. Good work to all on a huge topic.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
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Reasons for voting decision: The fatal flaw in Pro's argument is the premise that "something cannot come from nothing." con successfully argued that the rules that apply when there is absolutely nothing are not known, because now we are in the domain of the universe existing. Certainly attempting a generalization from everyday experience is unconvincing, because much of physics is contrary to everyday experience. Moreover, con pointed out the if the premise is that physical matter cannot appear in the absence of matter, that absolute applies to God as well. If an exception is made for God, then an exception is available elsewhere. There is controversy over whether quantum mechanics demonstrates something from nothing, but the fact that scientists accept the possibility of it being true means the premise is not proved. Pro plagiarized, but also went astray with "my opponent is a nutcase ... oh I'm just joking" stuff.