The Instigator
KeytarHero
Pro (for)
Tied
11 Points
The Contender
Rational_Thinker9119
Con (against)
Tied
11 Points

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is Sound

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/8/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,618 times Debate No: 24175
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (102)
Votes (6)

 

KeytarHero

Pro

In this debate, I will be supporting the premise that the Kalam Cosmological Argument is sound.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is as follows:

1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2) The universe began to exist.
3) Therefore, the universe had a cause.

First round will be for acceptance, second round for arguments/rebuttals, third round for rebuttals, and fourth round for rebuttals/closing statements.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Present your case.
Debate Round No. 1
KeytarHero

Pro

I wish to thank Rational_Thinker for agreeing to debate this with me.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is as follows:


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

Premise 1 -- Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

This is pretty self-explanatory, and pretty uncontroversial. The principle of causality is a first principle. In other words, it is self-evident. According to this fundamental principle, every effect has a cause and as such, non-being cannot produce being.


Premise 2 -- The universe began to exist.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics affirms that the universe is running out of usable energy and, hence, cannot be eternal. We also see that the universe is expanding, and at an accelerated rate. [1] As we see the universe is expanding more and more rapidly, and the universe is running out of usable energy, the universe will inevitably run out of usable energy and result in a "heat death." As the universe is expanding and not static, we can see that the universe, indeed, had a beginning as it is not eternal.


We can also approach this from a philosophical viewpoint:

1) If an infinite number of moments occurred before today, then today would never have come, wince it is impossible to traverse an infinite number of moments.
2) But today has come.
3) Hence, there was a finite number of moments before today; the universe had a beginning. [2]

Conclusion -- Therefore, the universe had a beginning.

This shows the argument valid (as the conclusion follows from the premises), and that it is a sound argument. It can be scientifically and philosophically shown that the universe had a beginning, and therefore had a cause.


But what of this cause? Can we know that this cause was intelligent and not just a natural cause?

I believe we can.

As was already stated, the universe had a beginning. Without God, there would have existed nothing before the universe, and nothing cannot produce something without intervention from an outside force. Nothing is a state of non-existence. Nothing, not the universe, not the world, not humanity, but nothing would be here right now if there wasn't a God.

However, God pre-dates the universe. The KCA states that everything that begins to exist has a cause. However, God is eternal. He has always existed and therefore has no cause. We humans are contingent beings. Our existence was began (caused) by God and we can only be kept alive at God's pleasure. We are contingent beings. A contingent race of beings could only have been created by a necessary being (i.e. God). God is a Necessary being because it is in His nature to exist. He has no beginning so He logically will have no end.

As it would be impossible for the universe to have come into existence on its own, the only way it could exist is if there was an intelligent Creator.

I look forward to our next round.

[1] http://news.nationalgeographic.com......;
[2] Geisler, Norman L., The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Books, p. 399.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

It will be fun to debate this topic again with a very worthy opponent. Hopefully, we can tie up more loose ends and bring some more ideas to the table which were left out in our last exchange.

First, are there any reasons to believe that the Kalam Cosmological Argument isn't logically valid?


Russell's Paradox

The Kalam Cosmological Argument seems to be invalid. Here is an argument with the same type of logic:

P1: Any apple that I gather at any time can produce cider

P2: I gathered an orange today
P3: Therefore, the orange I gathered today can produce cider


The above argument is invalid because “oranges” do not belong to the set of “apples”, oranges are simply not apples. If we look at the Kalam Cosmological Argument one can easily spot that the “universe” does not belong to the set of “things”, the universe cannot be any “thing”.

To explain this further, advocates of the Kalam Cosmological Argument adhere to the traditional definition of “universe”:


universe

n

  1. (Astronomy) Astronomy the aggregate of all existing matter, energy, and space [1]


u·ni·verse

Noun:

  1. 1. All existing matter and space considered as a whole; the cosmos [2]

“The universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists..." [3]


These classical definitions are critical to the theistic arguments, because these definitions imply that no matter, energy or space can exist without the universe existing.


Now the classical definition infers that the universe is the sum, whole, aggregate, or collection of all items or “things”. Bertrand Russell, who was one the largest contributors to logic in the last century explained that
a set can be a member or subset of another set, and it can be considered a subset of itself, but a set should not be considered a member of itself because this leads to contradiction. Now, a set is a collection of items, thus the universe is the set of all “things”.

I can illustrate what seems to me your fallacy. Every man who exists has a mother, and it seems to me your argument is that therefore the human race must have a mother, but obviously the human race hasn't a mother--that's a different logical sphere." – Bertrand Russell [4]

Advocates of the Kalam Cosmological Argument are basically trying to put the universe (the set) in the same logical sphere as “things”, however a set cannot be a member of itself, because if the set was “thing”, then the set couldn't’ be the set which contained all “things”, because the set itself would be a “thing”. This is called Russell’s Paradox.

So, lets assume that the first premise and the second premise of the KCA are true for the sake of argument. The conclusion does not logically follow from the premises, because the universe cannot be considering any “thing” (just like an orange cannot be considered an apple). Thus the Kalam Cosmological Argument ends up being a non-sequitur, and isn’t even logically valid (let alone sound).

Also, “who"ever refers to a person/ being, “where"ever refers to a place/ location and “what" ever refers to a thing/ object. So changing the argument from “everything that begins to exist…” to “whatever begins to exist…” does not solve the issue at hand. The universe is not a "thing".


Premise 1: Everything That Begins To Exist Has A Cause


My opponent here seems to simply bare assert that this principle is self-evident (this is a logical fallacy called proof by assertion), and it was also is inferring that this is a fundamental principle which applies to all of which we would consider reality. However, there is absolutely no reason to accept this causal principle as fact. To say it is "uncontroversial" seems to be contradictory to much that I have researched as well. Regardless, what does it mean to be self-evident?


"In epistemology (theory of knowledge), a self-evident proposition is one that is known to be true by understanding its meaning without proof" [5]

However I am a rational being who rejects this principle, and for good reason. There are philosophers who adhere to this position as well:

"Let's consider the first premise of the argument, that whatever has a beginning to its existence must have a cause. What reason is there to believe this causal principle is true? It's not self-evident; something is self-evident if and only if everyone who understands it automatically believes it. But many people, including leading theists such as Richard Swinburne, understand this principle very well but think it is false. Many philosophers, scientists, and indeed the majority of graduate and undergraduate students I've had in my classes think this principle is false. This principle is not self-evident, nor can this principle be deduced from any self-evident proposition." - Quentin Persifor Smith. American contemporary philosopher, scholar and professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan.[6]

Since my opponent has not even presented an argument supporting the first premise, there is absolutely no reason to interpret this principle as true. Until my opponent meets his burden of proof on this issue, it seems my response to the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument has been adequate.

Premise 2: The Universe Began To Exist

My opponent refers to the Second Law of Thermodynamics to illustrate that the universe is running out of usable energy. However, this is under the assumption of the A-Theory of time (which I will get into later on). Also, this neglects the First Law of Thermodynamics which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, which doesn't fair too kindly in favor of a creator (or a creative "cause"). The only example we have of any violations of the conservation of energy, seem to do so without any real cause of an event at any point in time:

"Quantum events have a way of just happening, without any cause, as when a radioactive atom decays at a random time. Even the quantum vacuum is not an inert void, but is boiling with quantum fluctuations." - Taner Edis. Department of Physics Truman State University Kirksville [7]

This of course, undermines the first premise of the argument at hand event further.

Also, with regards to the argument from an infinite regress of past events, a finite-past does not automatically equate to a beginning.

Stephen Hawking calculated that time can behave like another direction of space, and even though there is a finite past there may not be an actual boundary. This would mean that the universe didn't have an actual beginning (this is consistent with Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin’s Past-Finite Universe Theorem), and thus had no cause.

The main criticism to this is Hawking's use of "imaginary numbers", however there is no reason to think they are not useful in explaining reality.

"[Imaginary numbers] turn out to be invaluable in many applications of mathematics to engineering, physics, and almost every other science. Moreover, these numbers obey all the rules which you already know for ‘real’ numbers” (John Conway and Richard Guy: The Book of Numbers, pg. 212).

Something From Nothing

Well one could talk about a mathematical geometry governed by the laws of physics with no space-time or energy being nothing, because laws are no-"thing". However absolute nothingness (what a rock dreams about) seems logically incoherent. However, if theists accept that abstract things like 'facts' are real, then absolute nothingness is impossible. If absolutely nothingness exists, then the fact that absolutely nothing exists, exists. Thus, it is not relevant to the conversation anyway.

Conclusion

My opponent failed to meet his burden, and I met mine in undermining/ falsifying his claims.

Sources

[1] http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
[2] http://oxforddictionaries.com...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://www.infidels.org...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://www.secularhumanism.org...
[7] http://atheism.about.com...
Debate Round No. 2
KeytarHero

Pro

I wish to thank Rational_Thinker for once again taking me up on this challenge and for approaching it from a side that I haven’t considered before. Also, a quick retraction. I copied and pasted my argument from another debate where I was using the KCA to argue for God’s existence. I didn’t proofread very well before posting, but the KCA is not, on the surface, concerned with what the cause of the universe is, just that the universe had a cause. Therefore, my opening argument should have ended before the paragraph where I asked “what of this cause?” Thankfully Rational didn’t engage any of these arguments so he didn’t use up any needed space in his argument.

The KCA, to reiterate, is as follows:

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

The KCA is definitely a valid argument, in that the conclusion naturally follows from its premises. An argument can be unsound but still be valid. But it is a sound argument? I believe it is, and the analogies Con used do not accurately reflect the KCA.

Russell’s Paradox

The first argument Con used, when compared to the KCA, are like apples and oranges (pun most definitely intended). Con is correct that oranges do not belong to the subset apples. However, the universe, in this argument, does not belong to the subset “things,” but “things which begin to exist.” If it can be shown that the universe began to exist, then premise one would show that the universe had a cause.

Con, himself, realizes that the traditional definition of universe is in mind here with the KCA. This is appropriate, since the Cosmological Argument dates back to the ancient world. And if modern philosophers or scientists try to disprove the CA (or the KCA) by using a different definition for “universe” than that which is intended in the argument itself, they are guilty of the fallacy of equivocation. In fact, even well-respected Atheists agree with this definition. Carl Sagan once expressed the idea that “the Cosmos is all there is, all there was, and all there ever will be.” [1]

I don’t see that Russell’s objection that the universe cannot be a “set” of itself is valid. First, the universe is an actual existent entity, not an abstract concept like numbers. Furthermore, it is a contingent entity made up of many parts. If all of the parts that make up the universe were to suddenly vanish, the universe, itself, would vanish.

So the claim that the universe is not a “thing” has not been supported. The universe is an entity, which is defined as, “something that has a real existence; thing.” [2] The universe certainly has a real existence, or we would not be here right now to question its very existence.

Premise 1 – Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

When I say this is “uncontroversial,” I mean that it is certainly a scientific concept. Nothing happens without a cause. My door cannot open unless I physically open or the wind blows it open. A ball will not roll unless someone pushes it. Even a ball cannot roll down a hill unless someone first places it (or rolls it) onto the hill in the first place.

However, even using Con’s definition of self-evident we can see that the principle is, in fact, self-evident. Con defines it as a proposition that it known to be true by understanding its meaning without proof. Professor Smith says that something is self-evident if everyone who understands it automatically believes it. But that’s not what the definition says. It is self-evident because it is true unto itself, even without proof. Contrary to Professor Smith, one does not have to accept the fact as true for it to be so. Additionally, one would only reject this principle if one has agenda: trying to disprove the philosophical concept that non-being cannot produce being (that is, that “something” cannot come from “nothing”). This is what quantum mechanics asserts, but I will get to that in a moment.

Premise 2 – The universe began to exist.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics does not neglect the First Law. First of all, it does not rely on the A-Theory of time (with apologies to Dr. William Lane Craig, I don’t believe the KCA necessitates the A-Theory of time). Secondly, the First Law of Thermodynamics only applies within the universe itself. This does not refer to Creation. God created the universe ex nihilo, and created it in such a way that it would eventually run down. The universe was never meant to last forever. Once the universe was created, the laws of thermodynamics were set in place. There is no reason to believe that the creation of the universe would be subject to these laws.

Here is where scientists equivocate on the word “nothing.” In philosophy, “nothing” is literally “nothing.” It doesn’t even exist. It has no qualities. “Nothing” is literally “non-existence,” and non-existence cannot create existence. The “nothing” of quantum mechanics is a “sea of transient particles.” The scientist that Con quoted even affirms that the “nothing” of quantum mechanics is not really nothing, and therefore cannot be used to refute the KCA. Noted Atheist Sam Harris doesn’t even seem to buy it. [3]

Regarding Con’s argument from how time acts, I don’t think this can actually be proven. We humans live in a linear flow of time. We cannot go back in time, and we can only go forward at the rate we currently do. Time travel may or may not ever be possible, but we can only speculate about that which is beyond our means to experience. But I believe the philosophical evidence to be stronger that there has not been an infinite series of moments. Just as it would be impossible to traverse an infinite amount of steps, it would also be impossible to traverse an infinite amount of moments, so “today” would never have arrived.

I don’t think Con has sufficiently shown how there can be no boundary with a finite amount of time or how that would mean there really was no beginning, aside from an appeal to authority by quoting Stephen Hawking. It seems that if there was a finite amount of time, then there must have been a beginning. Humans are only alive for 70 to 80 years, on average, so we can pinpoint a time when their lives began.

Something from Nothing

Claiming that a rock “dreams about nothing” is a category error fallacy. Rocks cannot dream about anything. And claiming that they “dream about nothing” is to misunderstand what “nothing” really is. There are times humans seem to dream about nothing, but in reality everyone enters REM sleep every night (unless their sleep is interrupted) and they dream, despite not remembering it. So even dreams don’t actually describe the “nothing” of philosophy. And Con continues to misunderstand what “nothing” actually is. Absolute nothingness is the absence of all existence; it literally does not exist. If there was no existence, only absolute nothingness, then it would not be correct to state that absolute nothingness exists.

Conclusion

I have adequately supported the KCA as a valid, sound argument. Con has not undermined it. You cannot use quantum mechanics to undermine the KCA, and Russell’s Paradox is not a comparative analogy to the KCA. I look forward to Con’s rebuttal.

[1] Sagan, Carl, Cosmos, 1980, p. 4.
[2] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[3] http://www.samharris.org...

Rational_Thinker9119

Con

I thank my opponent for an intriguing response.

Russell's Paradox

Well, it seems opponent's main objection to the argument regarding Russell's Paradox is as follows:


"However, the universe, in this argument, does not belong to the subset “things,” but “things which begin to exist.”"

"Things which begin to exist" would still belong to the set of "things" (like how "apples that get eaten" still belong to the set of "apples"). If the universe had a beginning of it's existence, then it would be a different type of beginning not like a "thing", so it is fallacious to place the universe in the same logical sphere as "things" regarding any causal principles.

Also:

"I don’t see that Russell’s objection that the universe cannot be a “set” of itself is valid. First, the universe is an actual existent entity, not an abstract concept like numbers."


Merriam Webster defines "thing" in the context we are applying the word to, as "any single entity distinguished from all others: each thing in the universe" , and as also "existing as an individual, distinguishable entity; specif." [1]

Thus, to be a "thing" or "entity" is must be distinguishable from other "things" or " entities" within a larger set containing other "things" or "entities". For example, to say I ate a strawberry is to also say I did not eat a carrot, because these things are distinguishable from one another and must belong to another set (the universe).

Since the universe is the set of all things as defined, even if the universe had a beginning of some sorts (which I am not conceding), the conclusion does not follow from the initial premise that every "thing" that begins to exist has a cause. Therefore, Russell's Paradox still stands because if the universe is the set of all "things", it cannot itself be a "thing".

Premise 1: Everything That Begins To Exist Has A Cause

"When I say this is “uncontroversial,” I mean that it is certainly a scientific concept. Nothing happens without a cause."

This is false, considering many physicists adhere to the acausal principles involved with Quantum Mechanics.


A vacuum fluctuation is commonly acknowledged as an uncaused emergence of energy that is governed by the uncertainty relation delta-E • delta-t >= h/(4*pi). However, Alexander Vilenkin's model of comic origins [2] describes the universe emerging from a quantum tunneling event (without a cause) with a finite size (a = H-1) and with a zero rate of expansion or contraction (da/dt = 0).

Basically, there are equations which rely on acausal principles which could plausibly describe the beginning of the universe. The very fact that these comply with the laws of physics, disproves the claim that the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument regarding scientific causality involves a principle that must hold true everywhere.

Also:

"My door cannot open unless I physically open or the wind blows it open..."

You are describing events you see occurring within space-time above the sub-atomic (causation) and trying to use it to support a cause existing beyond space-time fallaciously.

"Additionally, one would only reject this principle if one has agenda: trying to disprove the philosophical concept that non-being cannot produce being"

I could just as easily say, one would only reject the acasual principles acknowledged in quantum mechanics if they had one agenda: trying to disprove any evidence that may contradict argumentation for God. This is not a good argument.

Also, I think there is some equivocation going on regarding this "principle" involving two different meanings:

(i) Something cannot come from nothing (philosophical and metaphysical)

(ii)
Pre-existing physical events and situations cause other physical events and situations (scientific, above the sub-atomic level within space-time)

My opponent simply has failed to demonstrate that any "causal principle" is universal and applies above the sub-atomic level, or that this principle has any meaning past any hypothetical limits of space-time.


P1: The Universe Began To Exist

"The Second Law of Thermodynamics affirms that the universe is running out of usable energy..."

As far as the universe running out of usable energy is concerned (the Second Law of Thermodynamics), my opponent hasn't shown how this indicates beginning of the universe instead of a transition from a perfect symmetry of some kind before it broke. Thus, this argument from Pro does little to ground reasonable belief in a true beginning.

"Regarding Con’s argument from how time acts, I don’t think this can actually be proven."

When it comes to the B-Theory of time, there is no "begins to exist at t" (Dr. Craig is correct, the Kalam Cosmological Argument only works if you assume A-Theory). Also, the universe would just exist tenselessly as a four-dimensional space-time block that is finitely extended in the earlier than direction instead of having an actual beginning. Many scientists, and philosophers believe this view is proven:

"It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four-dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three-dimensional existence." - Physicist Albert Einstein

"…special relativity [by itself] appears to provide a definite proof of the block universe" view." - Philosopher Rudy Rucker

Until my opponent provides argumentation for A-Theory besides a subjective experience of time, then Pro's whole case is baseless.

"Here is where scientists equivocate on the word “nothing.” In philosophy, “nothing” is literally “nothing.” It doesn’t even exist. It has no qualities."

Alexander Vilenkin's model of cosmic origins involves a universe coming from an empty geometry with no time, space, energy, or anything, as I already explained. (of course if this geometry is timeless, then asking about it's origin is futile according to theistic standards). The laws of physics existed, however, laws are no "thing". Laws describe how "things" act, or could potentially act.


Now my opponent says that something cannot come from this metaphysical nothingness, and that it has no qualities. This is contradictory, because saying that something couldn't come from it is ascribing the quality of "being able to prevent something" to this metaphysical nothingness. Pro also implies that "literally nothing" necessarily "doesn't even exist", this would mean however that something necessarily exists, and thus, must exist within a larger set of things to even be some "thing". This would mean the set of all "things" (the universe) is necessary.

"It seems that if there was a finite amount of time, then there must have been a beginning."


Well lets assume that A-Theory is true, philosophers such as Atheist Adolf Grunbaum and Theist Richard Swinburne have argued that something only "begins to exist" if there was a time earlier in which it didn't exist (which makes sense based on experience). This wouldn't apply to the universe however, because the Plank Epoch (zero-10-43 seconds) is the earliest period of time, so there could not have been a time earlier in which the universe didn't exist. So there are philosophical reasons to back up this notion, not just scientific reasons from Steven Hawking or from any B-Theorists.

Something From Nothing

I have made my position clear on this subject in this round already.


Conclusion

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is not logically valid, because the universe is not a distinguishible "thing", it is the set of all "things" as defined. My opponent also hasn't met his burden of proof in regards to the first premise, and I falsified the notion that it is self-evident by citing a model of cosmic origins which neglects this causal principle. Pro also failed to show how A-Theory is true (the theory the Kalam Cosmological Argument rests upon), or how the universe had a beginning based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Thus, the resolution seems to be negated.


Sources

[1] http://www.yourdictionary.com...
[2] Alexander Vilenkin: “tunneling from literally nothing”, 1982,1988 paper
Debate Round No. 3
KeytarHero

Pro

Thank you again to Con for his rebuttal.

I have already given a definition for the universe which shows that it is, in fact, a thing. It is an existence entity to where if all of the individual parts which make it up are to vanish, the thing itself (the universe) would likewise vanish. For an example, a cube is made up of six individual squares. Each square is a thing, but the cube itself is likewise a thing. They are different kinds of things, but they are still things. Additionally, a brick wall is a "thing" just like each brick that makes up the wall is a "thing." Remove enough bricks and the wall will collapse in on itself, ceasing to be a wall.

Now, if we are to take scientists' hypothesis that there is a multiverse, then we would, indeed, having something to compare our universe to. In fact, philosophers reason from the concept of "possible worlds" all the time. In this case, the universe would be distinguishable from other universes and belong to another set, the multiverse.

Premise 1 -- Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

The Copenhagen interpretation is only one of many interpretations of quantum physics. There is no reason to accept this interpretation over the others, which say that everything in the universe has a cause. Also, even if one accepts this particular interpretation, that would only show that the effects seem uncaused, not that they actually are uncaused. After all, the reason we have scientific endeavors is to find answers; the question of where these particles come from may one day be answered. To claim these particles have absolutely no cause is to make an argument from ignorance.

If you accept this model of quantum mechanics, it only pushes the problem back a step or two. Where did these quantum fluctuations come from? In fact, why is it only universes and subatomic particles that can come into existence uncaused? Why not trees or Beethovens? Con needs to justify why only particles on the sub-atomic level can come into existence uncaused.

Con tries to turn my words around, regarding acausal principles, but it doesn't work. There are reasons to reject acausal principles because we (meaning lay people, not scientists who study quantum physics) don't observe effects happening without a cause. It seems much more reasonable to reject acausal principles than to reject causal principles, due to what we observe in nature.

Finally, there is no equivocation on my part, but there is on Con's. He is equivocating the meaning of "comes into existence." From existing materials or from nothing is irrelevant. We see that everything that comes into existence needs a cause, so it is entirely reasonable to suppose to our universe needed a cause of its existence, as well.

Premise 2 -- The universe began to exist.

The reason this shows a beginning is that if the universe were eternal, it would have always existed this way. Meaning that it would be static, not running out or gaining energy, just eternally existing in the same state. An eternal entity does not change.

I am still not convinced that an A-Theory of time is required for the Kalam Cosmological Argument. In the B-Theory of time, the past and future are just as important as the present, but there is still a point in time at which things begin to exist. For example, I was conceived roughly in December of 1980, born in July of 1981. Even if the past is "equally real," it is still incorrect to claim that I existed a hundred years ago. In fact, if we invented a time machine and went back to 1970, I would not exist at that time. You could not look me up and find me. Things still begin to exist (there is a point at which the universe began to exist, there is just no past beyond that point).

Con continues to misunderstand the meaning of "nothing." Nothing literally does not exist and has no qualities, whatsoever. It doesn't even have the quality "does not exist." However, the Theist position is not that before the universe there was "absolutely nothingness," since obviously God existed before the universe (causally prior, not temporally prior). Also, the fact that God existed doesn't negate the KCA, since the KCA is concerned with the universe having a beginning. Arguments for God's eternal existence can be found elsewhere. So even before the universe, there was not "absolute nothingness." There was no universe. The universe literally did not exist, and it could not have come into existence (i.e. "from nothing," or "from nonbeing") on its own.

Now, considering Grunbaum's and Swinburne's rebuttals to the argument, there may not have been a "time" in which the universe didn't exist (since time didn't begin before the universe), but there was a point at which it did not exist. This was causally prior, not temporally prior, to the universe's creation.

Conclusion

The KCA is a valid argument. Con's assertion that the universe is not a "thing" is simply baseless. The premises have been affirmed.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con


Russell's Paradox

My opponent's final objection to Russell's Paradox is that he offered a definition of the word "thing" which would include the universe, and his case would be even further established by the fact that if there is a multiverse, our universe would be distiguishible from other universes. However, my opponent himself in Round 3 claimed:


"Con, himself, realizes that the traditional definition of universe is in mind here with the KCA. This is appropriate..."

It seems clear that that apealing to other definitions of the universe (which one would have to do in order to appeal to a multiverse) isn't very logical when dealing with the Kalam Cosmlogical Argument in this context. Thus, even though my opponent would be correct that if the multiverse existed, the universe would be a "thing" due to it being distuinguishible, I already made it known my opening round that the Russll's Paraodox argument appeals to the traditional definition of the word "universe". Therefore, my opponent's apeal to a multiverse here is ultimimately irrelavent.


Now, Pro claims that the six sides of a cube are all "things" and the cube that is made up of these sides is a "thing" is as well, this is supposed to be analogous to the idea that all the parts of the universe are "things" because if they didn't exist, the main "thing" the universe wouldn't exist. However, the implications of this analogy goes against the traditional definition of the universe (which my opponent concedes, is appropriate for this debate), which is the totality, or sum of every "thing" that exists. This means, that the universe by definition cannot be a "thing" because if it was, it couldn't be the set of all "things" due to itself being a "thing". A better analogy than Pro's involving a cube, would be to look at a "cube" as:

(i) A set containing 6 sides, and involving only 6 sides in total necessarily

We'll translate this to:

(ii) A set containing 6 x's, and involving only 6 x's in total necessarily

It would be a logical contradiction to call a "cube" an x, because if it was, then we would be talking about an x containining 6 x's, and involving only 6 x's necessarily. This is contradictory, because an x containining 6 x's would be 7 x's in total, but a "cube" in this context can only involve 6 x's in total necessarily.

So with regards to this debate topic, the universe is the set of all x's ("things") as commonly defined and therefore, cannot be an x ("thing") itself.

Since my opponent's objections were simple mere misunderstandings of Russell's Paradox, the argument still firmly stands.

P1: Everything That Begins To Exist Has A Cause

The fact that the Copenhagen Interpretation is the most widely accepted interpretation by physicists, and that the Uncertainty Principle allows uncaused events to occur seems to not only undermine the first premise of the Kalam Cosmlogical Argument, but falsify. The argument we are debating isn't infering that everything that begins to exists probably has a cause, or most likely has a cause, but that everything that begins to exist must, and therefore, necessarily have a cause (on a priori grounds apparently).


However, even the possibility of these quantum events being uncaused due to the fact that many physicists adhere to this notion, and the fact that this is allowed in physics seprerate from subjective opinon, disproves that everything that begins to exist must, and therefore necessarily have a cause. Also remember, theists believe that something can "begin to exist" even if it's not from absolute nothingness, like a chair. Thus, fluctuations can "begin to exist" even if it's not from absolute nothingness using the same logic.

Now:

"why is it only universes and subatomic particles that can come into existence uncaused? Why not trees or Beethovens?"

In Alexander's Vilenkin's model of cosmic origins (which Pro failed to refute, and still stands), the universe begins as an uncaused quantum event and this is all allowed by current laws of physics. Trees and Beethovens popping into existence is allowed by no laws of physics.

"Once our minds accept the mutability of matter and the new idea of the vacuum, we can speculate on the origin of the biggest thing we know—the universe. Maybe the universe itself sprang into existence out of nothingness—a gigantic vacuum fluctuation which we know today as the big bang. Remarkably, the laws of modern physics allow for this possibility" - Heinz Pagals. American Physicist, an adjunct Professor of Physics at Rockefeller University

There are other reasons, but I have limited space...


My opponent's main claim here though, is the claim that I'm appealing to ignorance. Basically, just because I don't know exactly how these events could be caused, doesn't mean they are not. However, just because we don't know exacty how they events are uncaused, doesn't mean they are not. What reason is there to believe they are uncaused? Well, since these events are extremely counter-intuitive (it's inituition backing up this causal principle in the first place), and they clearly appear to be events without causes (unlike hearing a vase smash behind you), then if anyone is appealing to ignorance in favor of their position it's my opponent I'm afraid. It's more rational to accept the notion that not all principles obtained
above the sub-atomic level necessarily hold at the sub-atomic level (look at relativity), than to outright reject uncaused events due to intuition gained above the sub-atomic level.

P2: The Universe Began To Exist

My opponent fails to realize that his argument with regards to the the Second Laws of Thermodynamics does not rule out no boundary proposals. The universe could have a finite past, with a finite amount of usable energy, and still not have an actual beginning (like how a sphere has a finite surface, but no beginning point). It's not only an idea adhered to by Stephen Hawking, but by many other physicists as well. Anthony Aguirre proposed this idea is well an a paper called "Inflation without a beginning: a null boundary proposal"


Debate Round No. 4
102 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by warpedfx 4 years ago
warpedfx
//See when I offer a litany of reasons and cite Pro's brick wall analogy, you never respond. Now you say, I never gave a reason. It is baffling. Either you are conversationally challenged or do not pay attention.//
I did respond, and i pointed out how your example do not apply since as far as we actually know for certain there aren't anything side of the "bricks" or "brick walls" as the analogy goes, therefore pro fails to actually maintain his point.

//As to your statement on "NO cosmologists posit a creation ex nihilo" That would be a Red Herring as science cannot work outside of physicality.//
not a red herring but a valid point- considering that science never even posits a NECESSITY of a creation ex nihilo it means you're effectively pulling out your claims from the wrong end.

//We have entire academic fields of study for that. That is the realm of philosophers and Theologians, which the majority consensus does posit creation ex nihilo. Chew on that?//
theologians simply make up answers. philosophy applies logic and reason, though as far as the topic is concerned can you really prove the existence of say a chair in the real world through logic alone? to make it sound, science is necessary. philosophy is at its core simply a tool on how to think.

//So again I affirm that Pro stands abundantly correct in stating that the paradox, which Con did not cite any academic source validating this paradox applies. Pro's analogy of the brick wall stands.//
let me make this clear for you- in order for both the universe and its subsets to fall under an overarching umbrella, there needs to be something outside of it. you can assert there is all you like but to assume this is to commit question begging.
Posted by Gileandos 4 years ago
Gileandos
@Warped,
"instead of offering reasons all you do is re-iterate this like it changes anything. "

See when I offer a litany of reasons and cite Pro's brick wall analogy, you never respond. Now you say, I never gave a reason. It is baffling. Either you are conversationally challenged or do not pay attention.

As to your statement on "NO cosmologists posit a creation ex nihilo" That would be a Red Herring as science cannot work outside of physicality. We have entire academic fields of study for that. That is the realm of philosophers and Theologians, which the majority consensus does posit creation ex nihilo. Chew on that?

So again I affirm that Pro stands abundantly correct in stating that the paradox, which Con did not cite any academic source validating this paradox applies. Pro's analogy of the brick wall stands.
Posted by warpedfx 4 years ago
warpedfx
Actually I forgot to point out another thing- NO cosmologists posit a creation ex nihilo, so chew on that for a while. Not BVG, not Hawking. Nobody. Sure, a "nothing" like how for example Krauss uses the word "nothing", but you yourself would charge that is not really "nothing" so that's really a no-point.
Posted by warpedfx 4 years ago
warpedfx
//Again on Guth, a subset concept of cosmology is not the consensus and speculative.//
that time did not begin at the big bang is the general consensus, even if it is still speculative to a degree given the wall that is the planck time. That being said, NOTHING beyond that the big bang was a cosmic expansion is agreed upon.

//We have to work within the mainstream consensus, unless you give a HUGE warrant not to do so.//
and that, ladies and gentlemen, was the sound of the point going straight over Gil's head.

//As with your rock all you did was agree with me that it exists 'differently' than numbers, not that numbers do not have properties also.//
rocks don't have causal properties.

//And again, KCA does not violate the paradox, you still have yet to offer any verification.//
instead of offering reasons all you do is re-iterate this like it changes anything. the fact is that your charge that the universe isn't simply the biggest subset under which all other subsets of "things that begin to exist" reside in is completely without evidence or warrant i guess never went through your head despite my pointing out of it repeatedly. you just ASSERT that there is another set under which the universe falls in which its subsets are simply other members of the same set when you have not demonstrated thus, nor have you even made an inkling of realization that ANY and ALL known "things that begin to exist" are SUBSETS of the universe. Because of this, when you call the universe also a "thing that begins to exist" you ARE committing the paradox.
Posted by Gileandos 4 years ago
Gileandos
@Warped,
Again on Guth, a subset concept of cosmology is not the consensus and speculative. We have to work within the mainstream consensus, unless you give a HUGE warrant not to do so.

As with your rock all you did was agree with me that it exists 'differently' than numbers, not that numbers do not have properties also.

And again, KCA does not violate the paradox, you still have yet to offer any verification.
Posted by warpedfx 4 years ago
warpedfx
//This seems like you are deliberately putting silly words in my mouth. Of course numbers are not physical. Even if I stated a rock is real and physical it still does not state that it 'exists like you exist.'//
except it does. a rock exists concretely, and it has causal properties. numbers do not.

//You still have not shown in any of those posts how KCA falls victim to the paradox.//
I have. you're just being obstinate and stubborn about it. the fact is that your categorization is entirely asserted without evidence. all we have evidence for as "things that begin to exist" are things within the universe, and hence are subsets of the universe. to call the universe as such is thereby calling the set itself its by its subset.
Posted by warpedfx 4 years ago
warpedfx
Gil,

//Your last quote by Guth is not relevant.//
now this is just puzzling. how is a quote regarding the big bang as NOT an origin point of time and therefore the universe irrelevant in ANY sense? Not to mention it kind of craps all over your notion of what big bang is.

//Also, as to Craig's belief, I will reach out to him directly. The link you cited seemed to suggest your position on his beliefs, then does not actually give his validation or current view, but others.//
the link I cited flatly states he is a nominalist and describes his views on abstract objects. It doesn't actually matter though because just the fact that the position exists refutes your claim only a certain specific view entails a position against the reality of abstract in the sense of say a chair.

//As for the Big Bang, there are only two single point origination theories, eternal single point or non eternal single point held in academia and eternal single point is by not by many and typically an atheist view. Either or, you have a static single point, or a creation of everything into a single point, you still have a cause.//
except that nobody demonstrated the big bang was a creation to begin with, but an expansion.
Posted by Gileandos 4 years ago
Gileandos
@Warped,
"except that's not me. Or anybody else here. I simply delineate difference in "existence", or are you saying a number exists like how I exist?"
This seems like you are deliberately putting silly words in my mouth. Of course numbers are not physical. Even if I stated a rock is real and physical it still does not state that it 'exists like you exist.'

You still have not shown in any of those posts how KCA falls victim to the paradox.
Posted by Gileandos 4 years ago
Gileandos
@Warped,
Your last quote by Guth is not relevant.

Also, as to Craig's belief, I will reach out to him directly. The link you cited seemed to suggest your position on his beliefs, then does not actually give his validation or current view, but others. that I have heard him defend differently very recently. That numbers find themselves sourced within the essence of God. So as objective moral values are objectively real and also sourced in his nature, numbers are within the same framework.

As for the Big Bang, there are only two single point origination theories, eternal single point or non eternal single point held in academia and eternal single point is by not by many and typically an atheist view. Either or, you have a static single point, or a creation of everything into a single point, you still have a cause.
Posted by warpedfx 4 years ago
warpedfx
I forgot to add, before the last quote by Guth he also said: "So far, it's been made to sound, I think for the purposes of simplifying things, that until the cyclic model, all scientists had believed that the big bang was the origin of time itself. That idea is certainly part of the classic theory of the big bang, but it's an idea which I think most cosmologists have not taken seriously in quite a while. That is, the idea that there's something that happened before what we call the big bang has been around for quite a number of years... In what I would regard as the conventional version of the inflationary theory, the Big Bang was also not in that theory the origin of everything but rather one had a very long period of this exponential expansion of the universe, which is what inflation means, and, at different points, different pieces of this inflating universe had stopped inflating and become what I sometimes call pocket universes." same source
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by KRFournier 4 years ago
KRFournier
KeytarHeroRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con seemed to engage in some semantics regarding the definition of universe the Russel Paradox. That being said, Pro's defense seemed to overlook some critical rebuttals. B-theory was written off based on Pro's misunderstanding of it. On balance, while I agree that the KCA is sound, I just don't think Pro defended it as well as Con critiqued it.
Vote Placed by SuburbiaSurvivor 4 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
KeytarHeroRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Edit: CVB removed. RFD in the comments.
Vote Placed by Gileandos 4 years ago
Gileandos
KeytarHeroRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Arguments to Pro for giving clear refutation of any of Con's detractions and holding KCA as sound. Also sources to Keytar for citing the elements apropriately and also against Con for sourcing defeated concepts and semantics. RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by Reason_Alliance 4 years ago
Reason_Alliance
KeytarHeroRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: rfd
Vote Placed by TheOrator 4 years ago
TheOrator
KeytarHeroRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: the paradox sealed it fairly well for me. Pro may want to look up more philosophy before another rematch.
Vote Placed by warpedfx 4 years ago
warpedfx
KeytarHeroRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: pro provided only a so-so defense of the KCA with elementary understanding of the requisite philosophy and science while con easily eviscerated it with sources as well as arguments.