The Instigator
UchihaMadara
Pro (for)
Winning
35 Points
The Contender
TrasguTravieso
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is unsound

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 8 votes the winner is...
UchihaMadara
Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 10/24/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,677 times Debate No: 62401
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (183)
Votes (8)

 

UchihaMadara

Pro

Thanks to Mr. Travieso for agreeing to debate this topic with me! I look forward to an interesting exchange :)


1. First round for acceptance


2. No new arguments in the final round


3. By accepting the debate, Con agrees to use the following definitions


Kalam Cosmological Argument
- An argument for the existence of a deistic God that is generally framed as follows

P1: Anything which begins to exist has a cause of its existence
P2: The Universe began to exist
C1: The Universe has a cause of its existence
P3: If the Universe has a cause of its existence, that cause is God.
C2: The cause of the universe's existence is God.
C3: Therefore, God exists.

God- an immaterial, eternal, and unimaginably powerful being which is plausibly personal.

Unsound- describing an argument in which either the conclusion does not follow from its premises or in which the premises themselves are false.


Good luck, Mr. Travieso!
TrasguTravieso

Con

I beg your pardon for my delay in answering your challenge. I accept and look forward to a good debate
Debate Round No. 1
UchihaMadara

Pro

Thanks to Con for accepting!
In order to show that the KCA is unsound, I will be contesting both the argument's logical validity (i.e. whether or not the conclusions follow from its premises), as well as the factual accuracy of its premises. Please note that due to the KCA's syllogistic structure, if I succeed in sufficiently refuting its validity or a single one of its premises, the whole argument falls apart.

I will start with showing that the KCA is logically invalid. This primarily applies to the first conclusion; even if we accept that both P1 and P2 are true, the conclusion that the universe has a cause of existence is not really warranted, as it is an example of fallacy of composition-- the fallacious assumption that a rule which applies to a system's parts must apply to the system as a whole, too. Accepting this type of logic allows for complete absurdities to arise; a few examples of such absurdities include: "Each brick in that building weighs less than a pound. Therefore, the building weighs less than a pound," ... "Hydrogen is not wet. Oxygen is not wet. Therefore, water (H2O) is not wet," ... "Your brain is made of molecules. Molecules do not have consciousness. Therefore, your brain cannot be the source of consciousness." [1]. Even if every object in the universe has a cause, we cannot rationally assume that this must also apply to the universe as a whole. Thus, the KCA's first and most important conclusion is fallaciously derived, rendering the entire argument to be unsound.

Refutation of Premise 1
"Anything which begins to exist has a cause of its existence"

The most imminent problem with this premise is that we have *never* witnessed anything begin to exist, as a result of the first law of thermodynamics. Everything we see is merely a change of some sort, be it physical, chemical, or sub-atomic. Without having ever witnessed anything begin to exist, it becomes silly to make broad generalizations about what is necessary for something to start existing-- it is the equivalent of attempting to describe a person who you've never met before or theorize about the social habits of a yet-undiscovered species. We cannot arbitrarily make rules about things with which we have no experience. For that reason alone, this premise is basically rendered to be a bare assertion.

I will go ahead and pre-emptively refute the most common deduction used to indirectly affirm this premise-- the logic that since we do not randomly see objects come into existence around us without cause, we can assume that they must only come into existence when triggered to do so by an external cause. However, this logic ignores the fact that all matter takes up a set amount of space, so objects cannot come into existence where there is already another object. They can only come into existence in empty space, and it is a well-known fact among physicists that there is no empty space within our universe; it is entirely filled by a quantum energy field known as the Cosmological Constant, with even what appears to be absolute vacuum actually having a positive energy density [2]. For this reason, regardless of whether or not the KCA's first premise is true, it would be impossible for new matter to come into existence within our universe-- the entirety of it is already occupied.

Refutation of Premise 2
"The universe began to exist"

This premise relies wholly on the traditional version of the Big Bang theory, in which there was a single big bang approximately 13.8 billion years ago from which the ever-expanding universe as we know it came about. This ignores the fact that there are several equally viable cosmological models which are consistent with all the same evidence, yet lead us to believe in an eternal, cyclic universe. Most of these generally follow the template of an oscillating universe, which theorizes that the universe is perpetually engaged in a cycle of big bangs and big crunches because of a variety of factors including entropy, dark energy, branes, and gravity [3]. In order for this premise to be accepted, we must at least have some reason to believe that the traditional Big Bang model is preferable to cyclical models.

Refutation of Premise 3
"If the universe has a cause of its existence, that cause is God"

The obvious problem with this is that it ignores all the possible alternative causes of the universe. I will specifically be advocating for the alternative cause known as simultaneous causation-- the concept that the universe could have caused itself into existence. This may seem absurd upon first glance, but that is simply because of the bias and limitations of cognition that are inherent in us as human beings-- we cannot coherently conceive in our minds that with which we have absolutely no experience with (a problem that also applies to the KCA's first premise). Since the Big Bang is considered to be the point at which time and space were created, it would obviously have had to happen before either existed; without the existence of time, our intuitions about causality become completely irrelevant, as we have only ever experienced existence within a temporal plane of existence. Once we accept that the Big Bang happened before time existed, the reasoning that "the universe can't cause itself to exist before it exists" no longer holds up because the entire concept of "before" becomes meaningless-- a chronological sequence of events with 'befores', 'afters' and 'durings' cannot exist without time. Simultaneous causation is a viable way to explain what caused the universe; at the very least, in order to accept the KCA's third premise, it must be shown that God is a significantly better explanation.

Conclusion

I have cast a substantial amount of doubt on all three of the KCA's premises, as well as called into question the argument's logical validity, effectively rendering it to be unsound. The resolution is affirmed. I look forward to Con's response!

[1] http://www.logicallyfallacious.com...
[2] http://www.astro.ucla.edu...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
TrasguTravieso

Con

As Mr. Madara has said, the KCA is a syllogism. This means that if it is formally valid and all the premises are true, then the conclusions are unavoidable; if the formal logic is shown to be invalid or any of the premises proved false, then the case falls. I hope to show that he has not succeeded in doing this and, consequently, that the argument stands.

Logical validity

A rule which applies to a system's parts need not apply to the system as a whole.

I agree that it would constitute a fallacy to claim otherwise, but that is not what the syllogism claims. The argument is not based on the premise that "every object in the universe began to exist" but rather that the universe itself as a whole began to exist. The formal logic of the syllogism is what is referred to by logicians (by mood and figure) as an AAA1 syllogism. Given in its skeletal form:

All M is P
All S is M
∴ All S is P

Which could be graphed out like so:
Diagram of AAA-1 Syllogism

This is formally valid.(1)

Premise 1

We have never witnessed anything begin to exist.

I sure have. Just this summer I built a shed. The constituent elements may have already been there (the material cause) but the shed was not: before that moment the shed could in no way be said to exist. To understand where Mr. Madara's misunderstanding lies we must keep in mind that Al-Gazali was very familiar with Aristotelian and other Greek philosophy(2). When he speaks of "cause" he knows how to differentiate between the four causes of Aristotle: formal, material, efficient and final. The material cause of the shed (the wood) certainly pre-existed the shed, but it was not the shed; the formal cause (the pattern of the thing) also pre-existed it, but was not this particular shed; the efficient cause (me) was there before the shed was, and I am certainly not very shed like; and finally the final cause (the purpose of storing things) is what led me to undertake its construction, but is likewise not a shed.

We have, therefore, seen many things begin to exist. The first law of thermodynamics has no bearing on this fact, although it will be worth going back to the laws of thermodynamics when addressing premise 2, which goes a step further to claim that all of time, space, matter and energy began to exist in the finite past.

Premise 2

In order to accept this premise, we need some reason to believe the Big Bang model is preferable to eternal, cyclical models.

To start with the fact that the Big Bang model is based on observation and answers the available data whereas the cyclical models are mere speculation which add nothing significant to modern cosmology. If anything we would need a good reason to accept these cyclical models, which do not address anything other than certain people's discomfort at the idea of a past-finite universe. In any case the early versions proposed by Soviet scientists were disproved by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose(3). Indeed the former (who cannot be suspected of theistic sympathies) insists that any model which posits an eternal universe is necessarily suspect: "if your theory disagrees with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, it is in bad trouble. In fact, the theory that the universe has existed forever is in serious difficulty with the Second Law of Thermodynamics."(4)

The Big Bang theory escapes the problems with the Law of Conservation of Energy because "At a singularity, all the laws of physics would have broken down". The oscillating models do not have that nifty quality, and still have to face the fact of Entropy. If the universe were past eternal than we would today be in a uniform, old and rather cool universe which looks very little like the ordered, young and in certain spots rather hot one we live in now. Both models therefore seem to run into problems with the laws of thermodynamics, but only the Big Bang theory justifies the exception.

Premise 3

The Universe could have caused itself before time existed.

The argument seems to be not that the existence of the universe is a necessary, not that it existed eternally, but rather that although it did indeed begin to exist it was its own cause. Pro says that the idea that "the universe can't cause itself before it exists" cannot hold when we are speaking of the beginning of the universe, because this includes the beginning of time and so standing prior to the effect in a causal relationship does not necessitate standing prior to the effect in a temporal relationship. I agree. The cause of the universe by definition must be a simultaneous cause insofar as time itself is part of its effect and consequently can have no bearing on it. The problem is, however, that the universe cannot stand in a causal relation to itself because it would need to exist in order to have any relationship to anything.

If we posit a thing as its own cause we are speaking in paradox. The problem isn't one of time, but of the very nature of causation. One cannot give what one does not have, if the universe did not exist then it cannot stand in causation to a non-existent universe, because it would have no existence to give. To go back to my shed, in order to be the cause of it the material, formal, efficient and final causes must have existed independently of the shed. If this were not the case they would not have been able to originate the effect. If I took the wood from the shed, for instance, it could not be said that I built the shed, but rather that I dismantled and reassembled it. This becomes even more patently absurd when we posit the universe as the formal, efficient or final cause of itself.

The fact of the universe having a cause necessitates an external cause. This cause must be immaterial, as it will cause matter; timeless, as it will cause time; unimaginably powerful, as a cause is always equal to or greater than its effect; and plausibly personal, as the fact that the existence of the universe is not necessary implies choice, which is a function of the mind and therefore a personal attribute. If the cause lacked any of these attributes, it could not possibly stand in a causal relationship with the universe; and if it has all of these attributes, we would be describing a being which fulfills this debate's definition of God.



Sources:

(1) http://philosophy.lander.edu...
(2) http://www.maktabah.org...
(3) http://www.hawking.org.uk...
(4) http://www.hawking.org.uk...


Debate Round No. 2
UchihaMadara

Pro

Many thanks to Mr. Travieso.
A brilliant defense of the KCA. One that I will now proceed to refute :D
Just as a note, we both agree to the debate framework I set forth-- if any one of my refutations is successful, the resolution is affirmed.


Logical Validity


Con claims that the fallacy of composition does not apply to the KCA because it is based on the notion that the universe as a whole came into existence, rather than individual objects coming into existence within it. This rebuttal could work, but it is inconsistent with his other rebuttals-- in defending the first premise, he claims that we do, indeed, see objects come into existence independently of the universe itself. Without conceding that line of argumentation, he cannot coherently mitigate this argument.


Premise 1


Con puts forth the example of building a shed to try showing that we can see things come into existence. However, he is falsely conflating "beginning to exist" with "transformation". Con claims that because we would not call the materials a "shed" before the shed has actually been built, the shed did not exist prior to it being built; however, what he fails to recognize is that "shed" is ultimately just a meaningless verbal label that we as humans have arbitrarily placed on anything which resembles our conception of a shed. The materials and the shed are, indeed, one and the same-- the only difference is that one has the label of "materials", and the other has the label of "shed". In reality, the shed is nothing more than a different arrangement of the materials; the shed did not begin to exist-- the materials simply underwent a change to become what we call a "shed", and whether change requires a cause has no bearing on whether beginning to exist requires a cause. Hence, my objection stands: we really haven't seen anything come into existence, so it is absurd to make broad generalizations about what is necessary for it to happen.


Premise 2


Con first argues that the cyclical cosmological models are supposedly nothing but speculative hypotheses that "add nothing significant to modern cosmology". In fact, cyclical models serve as much simpler and sounder alternatives to the increasingly problematic traditional conception of the big bang, and would thus actually be preferable, according to Occam's Razor (principle of logic which maintains that the simpler theory is more likely to be true).

"...over the last few decades, more and more elements have had to be added to the Big Bang Theory to make it consistent with what we observe. To explain why the universe is so uniform, we had to a new feature called inflation. To explain the formation of structure, we had to add dark matter. The recent discovery that the expansion of the universe has begun to speed up has required the addition of something called dark energy. Each of these elements have been added one by one to make today"s Big Bang Theory a kind of patchwork of disconnected ideas... We wanted to see if a completely different history of the universe is possible in which all the elements fit together in a tight and natural way. Furthermore, we saw recent developments in fundamental physics -- namely, string theory -- offered a radically new view of the big bang itself -- not as a beginning but rather as a collision... Much to our surprise, we found we could use this picture to reformulate the history of the universe -- recovering all the successful predictions of the conventional Big Bang Theory." (http://www.physics.princeton.edu...)

Con then argues that due to the second law of thermodynamics (constantly increasing entropy), an eternal/cyclic universe is impossible. However, he then goes on to provide a solution to the problem he just created for the cyclic universe when he states that "at the singularity, all the laws of physics would have broken down". As described last round, most cyclical cosmological models do involve big bangs, just like the traditional big bang theory, so this breach of physical laws can occur within an eternal universe as well, thus effectively solving the problem. Thanks, Con! :D


Premise 3

Con claims that the problem with self-causation isn't with time, but with the very nature of causation: "One cannot give what one does not have, if the universe did not exist then it cannot stand in causation to a non-existent universe, because it would have no existence to give". However, this discussion must, indeed, revolve around the issue of time. If time didn't exist, then there would be no difference, chronologically, between when the universe did exist and when it did not, and it would therefore be possible for the universe to have caused its own existence. This is especially true given that this would all have occurred within absolute nothingness, which entails a complete lack of any properties or constraints and thus allows for this sort of self-actualization* to occur, It may sound absurd, but we must remember that all our intuitions about causal relationships, which is what Con's rebuttal is based on, are meaningless, as they are wholly derived from our experience within a temporal existence. Simultaneous causation is a plausible alternative cause to God, regardless of how hard it may be for us to believe it with our oh-so-limited cognitive faculties.


Conclusion

-- Con has inadvertently contradicted his defense of the KCA's first premise in attempting to defend the argument's logical validity

-- his defense of the first premise relies on the false conflation of 'beginning to exist' and 'undergoing a physical transformation',

-- his defense of the second premise is full of faulty attempts at brushing off cyclical cosmological models

-- his defense of the third premise ignores the radical implications of time's non-existence and the lack of constraints within nothingness


The resolution is affirmed.
Back to you, Mr. Travieso!



* I do not own this term. It is the property of dylancatlow and/or Christopher Langan.

TrasguTravieso

Con

Logical validity

The logical validity of a syllogism is not contingent on the content of its premises. If you believe that the the second premise commits the fallacy of composition, that is an objection to the second premise; if you believe that in defending myself against that claim I contradict my defence of the first premise, that is an objection to the first premise. What it is not is an objection to the logical validity of this argument. Formally speaking this is a valid argument, the form of which bears repeating:

All M is P
All S is M
∴ All S is P

Unless Pro finds fault with the rules of formal logic, the logical validity of the KCA stands. The particulars of his objection to what he considers a contradiction between my rebuttal to his charge of committing the fallacy of composition by saying that the universe began to exist and my rebuttal to his objections to the first premise will be dealt with in the section on the second premise where they will be in a more appropriate context.

Premise 1

Con seems to believe that a shed is a "meaningless verbal label we arbitrarily place" on things that fit our conceptions. I say a shed is a thing. It is a thing with a form and a practical use quite different to that of a tree or nails, just as the nail is quite different from the metal which makes them up. To say that a shed is not a thing merely because we have bothered to name it is to cease making sense for the sake of the noble art of missing the point. If we once doubt the shed is a thing because we would then be committed to the idea that it had to start existing at some point in the process of its construction we would then have to doubt whether the conception this meaningless label is placed on exists either, as it was conceived by another reconstituted mass of always-has-been. Either the shed is a thing which was designed to fit a thing called a conception dreamed up by another thing called a man or we must deny that we are ourselves as a necessary expedient to denying God.

I am glad to say we are not committed to this. The point that is missed by this odd line of argumentation is that however you wish to define "beginning to exist" we are arguing Al-Gazali's argument and not Mr. Madara's or my own. Only by accepting his definition of the terms can we address the validity of his argument, as changing what words are supposed to signify will only help us refute an argument that was never made. Al-Gazali was not completely ignorant about the fact that houses are made of bricks, and when he attributed the existence of the house to the architect he was not attributing to him the miracle of creating the mortar ex-nihilo. He understood that when a sesame seed grew into a plant, it was not creating matter as it went, but unfolding potentialities of already existing matter.

Premise 2

To begin let us set aside quickly the charge that to say that sheds begin to exist contradicts the claim that the universe as a whole begins to exist. Pro has failed to show that there is a contradiction there. That universe began to exist has no bearing on things within it having a beginning as well. It is so bizarre a claim as to require greater justification than the mere assertion. As it is we see two distinct premises: 1 That things which begin to exist have a cause of their existence. 2. That the universe itself taken as a whole is one such thing. Nothing in this indicates that what is contained in the universe is not.

Pro seems to consider the fact that the Big Bang theory as formulated by father Georges Lemaitre has suffered changes as more facts were taken into consideration casts an unassailable doubt on the idea that the universe had a beginning. This is the same logic used by opponents of the theory of Evolution who say that there have been so many changes from the theory as formulated by Charles Darwin to that which is commonly defended by biologists today(1) that we ought to completely do away with it in favor of the more uniform and changeless Intelligent Design theory. The addition of inflation and dark matter and energy are not, as Pro's source seems to hint, last ditch efforts to hold up a dying theory, but are rather the best current explanations of observed phenomena. An unchanging theory is not what we expect to find in the realm of science, not even Newton or Einstein's theories have withstood the test of time without modifications.

Mr. Madara now embraces the fact that the laws of physics seem to break down at the Big Bang singularity, admitting that this negates his objection about the first law of thermodynamics. This idea of multiple Big Bangs caused by branes doesn't, however, allow for an escape from the absolute beginning of the universe. One of our friendly neighborhood commenter beat me to the mention of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem(2), which took me a hellishly long and arduous time to read and an even longer time to understand, as well as the previously cited talk by Hawkins(3) share the majority view that cyclical models, while interesting, so not avoid the need for a beginning of the universe. Hawkins insists that the Big Bang is the beginning of everything (time-space and matter-energy) whereas the BGV theorem actually allows for the existence of a multiverse, but then says that the multiverse itself cannot avoid the question as it must by necessity have a beginning as well. They show that any universe that on average expands cannot be past-eternal, and this includes brane models:

"In some versions of the cyclic model the brane space-times are everywhere expanding, so our theorem immediately implies the existence of a past boundary at which boundary conditions must be imposed. In other versions, there are brief periods of contraction, but the net result of each cycle is an expansion."

Premise 3

Pro insists on having his cake and eating it too. He posits a possible turn of events in which the universe does indeed have a beginning to its existence, that this beginning does indeed call for a cause; yet that cause is none other than the universe itself. Time, of course, has nothing to do with it. The fact that there was no time before the creation of time-space and matter-energy does not exempt the universe from the laws of causation or justify us from desisting from scientific and philosophical curiosity when this curiosity might lead us to conclusions we would rather not accept.

The passive object of causation cannot be the originator of the change, because one must have the actuality in order to motive something beyond potentiality. Just as one must be emitting photons in order to give light, something must have heat in order to warm something else or have energy in order to do work on something else. Something must exist in order to bring something else into existence. Pro posits a paradox and hopes we don't examine it too closely.


Sources:

(1) http://epicofevolution.com...
(2) http://arxiv.org...
(3) http://www.hawking.org.uk...
Debate Round No. 3
UchihaMadara

Pro

Logical Validity

Con is correct in claiming that "the logical validity of a syllogism is not contingent on the content of its premises." However, at this point, I am no longer objecting to the logical validity of the syllogism-- I am objecting to the cognitive dissonance Con has created in addressing my original objection. In order to defend the KCA's logical validity, he claims that objects have never individually began to exist, but that only the universe as a whole began to exist; this does succeed in showing that there is no fallacy of composition occurring. However, in his defense of the first premise, he goes on to claim that we *have* seen individual objects begin to exist. He cannot have it both ways-- either individual objects do come into existence or they do not. And due to the argument's syllogistic structure, conceding either of them causes his entire argument to fail.

Premise 1

Con basically dodges the point, here. Just because we see a nail and distinguish it (via meaningless verbal tags) from the metals that were used to make it does *not* mean that they must be different entities, as Con would have us believe; they are still the same exact matter-- the same molecules, only different in their arrangement. Con attempts to use rhetoric to make this sound strange and confusing. Yes, it is weird to think of humans (i.e. self-sufficient reproductive units) and conceptions (I.e. electrical/chemical signals in the brain) as aggregations of ancient matter, but simply saying "I don't like it" doesn't actually refute the facts. It is all ultimately just a red herring which should be appropriately discarded by the voters.

Regardless of how Al-Gazali might have defined "begins to exist", we know that the universe must have began to exist ex-nihilo (i.e. before any other matter existed), and since we have never seen any thing begin to exist ex-nihilo (which Con seems to concede towards the end of his P1 section), we cannot make rules about what is necessary for something to come into existence; we can only make such rules about what is necessary for physical change to occur. This premise is refuted.

Premise 2

Con draws a false analogy from my defense of cyclical models by claiming that I am implying that we should also trash the complex theory of evolution in favor of simpler intelligent design explanations. This is a faulty comparison because creationism has several outstanding flaws in it which clearly make it less plausible than evolution, such as blatantly ignoring the existence of transitional fossils. This does not apply cyclical models of cosmology. Occam's Razor only applies to hypotheses which are *equally* plausible, and that is the case with traditional BBT vs. cyclical universe models.

The rest of Con's case for the KCA's second premise is, unfortunately, a big appeal to authority fallacy. It is nice to know that Con was able to learn a thing or two on physics by reading his sources, but simply linking them is not enough. He cannot just say "Expert X and Expert Y said so", link us to where they did say so, and expect us to buy his point based on that alone. At the very least, he needs to quote the pertinent parts of his sources so that we may actually see the evidence behind those experts' opinions. It has not successfully been demonstrated that we should prefer the traditional BBT, and going off Occam's Razor alone, we would actually prefer cyclical models.

Premise 3

Unfortunately, I have run out of time. I promised Mr. Travieso that I would wait until as late as possible to post this argument due to time constraints on his part, but evidently, I have waited too long.... I will note, however, that the "laws of causation" which Mr. Travieso refers to are based in our temporal intuitions, which as I've demonstrated, hold no weight when discussing what is possible without the existence of time. "Before" and "after" are meaningless terms if events do not occur in a chronological sequence, which is why simultaneous causation is just as feasible a cause of the universe's existence as God is.

The resolution is affirmed.

Thanks to Mr. Travieso for providing a worthy opposition for my first KCA debate!

Vote Pro :)
TrasguTravieso

Con

As this is my last round I will limit myself to summarizing and clarifying. I should also thank Mr. Madara for his kindness in waiting for the last minute to post his argument once he knew that I would not be able to read it over the weekend. His graciousness recommends him.

Logical validity

R2:

Pro asserted that the argument committed the fallacy of composition, which states that what applies to component parts must apply to the whole (therefore saying that since every object in the universe has a cause we must accept that the universe does as well).

I answered that the argument makes no such claim but rather says that the universe as a whole began to exist and must have a cause of its existence.

R3:

Pro offers that this is inconsistent with the defense of the first premise (see bellow) as saying that we see things come into existence independently of the universe itself contradicts the universe as a whole coming into existence.

I answer (in the section on Premise 2) that things coming into existence has no bearing on the universe (time, space, matter and energy) as a whole coming into existence. I further claim that as the contradiction is not apparent, some evidence must be given of it aside from the mere assertion and attempt to clarify by making a distinction between the two first premises; the first claiming that things which begin to exist must have a cause, and the second predicating this "beginning to exist" of the universe as a whole.

R4:

Con concedes the original objection (on the logical validity) but objects once again to the defense against the objection.

I believe the confusion stems from an equivocal use of the word cause. Cause does not mean in every case that all the matter for that object to come to exist, as the matter itself can be included as one type of cause (the material cause) as per R-3. Since this is at the center of the objection to Premise 1 I will address the issue there.


Premise 1

R2:

Pro states that we have never observed anything begin to exist, citing the first law of thermodynamics (the law of Conservation of Energy). All we see is physical, chemical or subatomic change.

To this I answer by pointing out that his definition of "beginning to exist" is not the one Al-Gazali was defending. It does not take a modern understanding of physics to know that things we see come into existence do so from a previous state which is the cause of its existence. He, following the Aristotelian view, would recognize the four causes: formal, material, efficient and final.

R3

Pro says I am conflating "beginning to exist" with "transformation" as everything that the shed of my example is already existed previous to its construction; it was simply rearranged.

I admittedly go off on what my opponent was justified in calling a mere rhetorical flourish in an attempt to show that we recognize by common consent that things which surround us have an existence beyond their mere components when I ought to have reiterated and clarified my original rebuttal, as I will shortly do.

R4

Pro accuses me of dodging the point and reiterates his conviction that our differentiation between a nail and the metal that was used in forging it is a meaningless verbal tag.

As I said in my original rebuttal to his objection, the notion of "beginning to exist" we are discussing here is that used by Al-Gazali in formulating his argument, not that which my opponent favors. Something passes from one state into another, but the particular state it is in is itself is a thing which comes to be and which has a cause. The pre-existing matter is simply what would be considered the material cause, to which we must add the formal, efficient and final causes. Arguing the issue apart from the definition given by the man who formulates the argument is to argue against straw men.

Premise 2

R2

Pro informs us of various theories apart from the classical Big Bang theory which could be consistent with an eternal universe and says we need some reason to prefer the Big Bang theory over those in order to affirm the second premise.

I argue that the Big Bang theory still answers the available observations more directly and cite Stephen Hawkings, both in speaking of his work with Roger Penrose and citing the second law of thermodynamics (increasing entropy) as an objection to both cyclical and static-state models.

R3

Pro claims the changes to the Big Bang theory over the last few decades are problematic and a simpler theory must be preferred.

I argue that the fact that theories are modified over time does not argue against but for them (as in the theory of evolution being increasingly corroborated but modified as well) and show by the objections by Borde, Guth, Vilenkin and Hawkins to these theories cast doubts on the claim that it is in any way simpler.

R4

Pro claims I made an improper comparison between our cosmological kerfufle and the unpleasantness over Evolution and Intelligent Design, as Occam's Razor only applies to equally plausible hypotheses. He then dismisses the rest of my argument as a "big appeal to authority fallacy"

The authority fallacy is that of an improper appeal to authority, citing beloved news anchor Walter Cronkite, for instance, in a conversation on the ideal lunch for a gymnast would be an improper appeal to authority. Speaking of the work of the leading cosmologists on the day whose work centers on the very issue we are discussing and who have no particular axe to grind in favor of the contention I present (Vilenkin is an agnostic, Hawkins a declared atheist, I can find no particular declaration of faith by either Borde or Guth) is a very proper appeal to authority, as appealing to a nutritionist would in our previous case. It is a pity the objection was dismissed offhand, as it serves to show that we are indeed not facing equally plausible hypotheses.

Premise 3

R2

Pro complains that the argument ignores other possible causes of the universe, and posits as one such possible cause the universe itself. Simultaneous causation, he says, is not only possible but necessary if time itself is the effect.

I agree that simultaneous causation is at play, but say that a thing cannot be the cause of its own existence because it would have to exist, not necessarily prior in time, but certainly prior in casual relationship in order to produce an effect. I say that the cause would have to be external, immaterial, timeless, unimaginably powerful and would plausibly be personal. This was never addressed.

R3

Pro insists on time being a possible answer to the conundrum and asserts that the fact that this occurs within absolute nothingness allows for this "self actualization" to occur. He states that this is plausible in spite of the difficulty in grasping it for our limited cognitive faculties.

I bring to my opponent's attention that there is no reason to think that the absence of time should negate all laws of causation, and explain in Aristotle's terms that one must have the actuality in order to cause something to move beyond potentiality.

R4

Pro says that the laws of causation are based on temporal intuitions and are indeed suspect when speaking of the origin of the universe.

This is simply not the case. Pro asks us to believe that the fact that time did not exist means that the universe can be caused to exist by a non-existent universe. That is, he expects us to believe that because time does not exist therefore something can come out of nothing. Not out of the low-level energy of the void, not as virtual particles may come into existence within our universe according to certain theorists, out of literal nothingness, not-anything; absent any properties, absent any constraints, absent any powers, absent anything. This requires far more in the way of justification than a glib reference to our "oh-so-limited cognitive faculties".


Conclusion

We have seen arguments against the first there premises and the logical validity of the argument. Some have been conceded, others have refuted, and yet others have simply been beside the point. As things stand what we haven't seen is any argument that would support the resolution that the Kalaam Cosmological Argument is unsound. I believe the resolution to be negated and await the opinion of our judges.

Before signing off, however, and taking full advantage of the characters I have left, I would like to once again thank my opponent for his condescension (in the positive Latin rather than the negative English sense) with me when I made him aware of my difficulties in continuing the debate over the weekend. I hope this graciousness will be taken into consideration by voters as well, particularly as it did not allow him time to adequately express himself in his final round.
Debate Round No. 4
183 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by CorieMike 2 years ago
CorieMike
Congrats Pro! And thank you both for such an exceptional debate! The debate and the comments were very informative.
Posted by UchihaMadara 2 years ago
UchihaMadara
@bluesteel:

*blushes and dies happy*

@Undeniable:

Thanks! :)
Posted by UndeniableReality 2 years ago
UndeniableReality
Congrats Uchiha. I agree that your argument against Premise 1 was well-done and probably won you the debate.
Posted by bluesteel 2 years ago
bluesteel
No problem. Congrats on the win. And I was really impressed by your arguments under Premise 1. It was a really good articulation.
Posted by UchihaMadara 2 years ago
UchihaMadara
Yep, it certainly was a great debate :)
Thanks for putting up such a challenging opposition, Mr. Travieso!
Posted by TrasguTravieso 2 years ago
TrasguTravieso
Congratulations are in order Mr. Madara! It was a pleasure.
Posted by UchihaMadara 2 years ago
UchihaMadara
Thanks for the RFD and the constructive criticism, bluesteel!

Simultaneous causation is a really fun concept XD
Posted by bluesteel 2 years ago
bluesteel
Or maybe a simpler way of explaining all that is:

Con essentially argues that the premise "A causes A to exist" is incoherent if at the time A was created, A didn't also exist. However, the idea of simultaneous creation may be better conceived as "causation-less creation." Time didn't exist pre-Universe, so Con's idea that "an A must already exist in order to cause something else to exist" breaks down pre-time because absent time, things *will* just seem to spring out of existence out of nothing since cause no longer "precedes" effect.
Posted by bluesteel 2 years ago
bluesteel
Or a better way to argue premise 3: for an argument to be logically sound, a premise must at the very least be more plausible than the opposite proposition. Con has to show that simultaneous creation by God is more plausible than simultaneous creation by the thing itself. Because we've never seen a simultaneous creation and our minds can't even conceive of such a thing, there's no reason to think simultaneous creation by God is more plausible than simultaneous creation by the Universe itself. You can't invoke an example of simultaneous creation to prove that something can't simultaneously create itself and you can't use analogies to transformative creation or non-simultaneous creation because those are entirely different things. The very idea of "causation" without time is not a concept that is coherent to us, so Con invoking that it sounds incoherent to our human minds to talk about a thing causing itself is not really an answer because we can't really conceive of what causation even is in a world where time doesn't exist.

I think a lot of the confusion comes from the word "simultaneous." The use of this word really helped Con. The word simultaneous still implies time. It implies a cause that occurs at exactly the same time as the effect. It doesn't imply "timeless" causation. If time doesn't exist, you can't say that the Universe can't cause itself because the Universe didn't exist yet because the idea of "yet" implies that already exists. When there was no time, it makes sense for something to just spring into being because you can't say, "that was weird, there was no Universe and suddenly there was a Universe," since you're implying that it's weird that in a time before the Universe existed, there was no Universe. If time doesn't exist, the Universe could be said to be "timeless," which means it could cause itself. Outside time, the Universe could be said to have always, but never, existed. It's not incoherent to assert that.
Posted by bluesteel 2 years ago
bluesteel
== RFD == (Part 2)

The arguments over premise 2 don't get Pro any ground. While Con merely does appeal to authority, Pro never tells me why that authority is wrong. If the Second Law of Thermodynamics requires that the multi-verse somehow came into being, even under Pro's alternative models to the Big Bang, some explanation is still requires for how the multi-verse got here.

Pro's arguments about Premise 3 had more potential, but he dropped a key argument because he ran out of time. Con argues that simultaneous causation doesn't make sense because if the Universe didn't exist, you can't say it caused itself, since something that doesn't exist yet cannot be the object of causation. I think Pro could have answered this somewhat easily, but he didn't. This just goes back to the arguments about premise 1: just because we haven't seen it happen before doesn't mean it can't. We've never seen ex nihilo creation; maybe simultaneous creation is possible. Our language reflects our experience of the world. The fact that under our current language, something that doesn't exist cannot be said to bring itself into existence says only something about the current limits of our language and our own cognition. But I think the arguments about Premise 3 are very similar to the arguments about Premise 1: essentially whether ex nihilo creation should be treated as a unique phenomenon.
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by bluesteel 2 years ago
bluesteel
UchihaMadaraTrasguTravieso
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by tylergraham95 2 years ago
tylergraham95
UchihaMadaraTrasguTravieso
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD In the comments.
Vote Placed by Tweka 2 years ago
Tweka
UchihaMadaraTrasguTravieso
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: BoP is on Pro. Con has shown that the syllogism is valid through the intersection of sets. But, Pro still cannot find any faults in the formal logic. Thus, he has conceded that part. Pro has never discussed what Con says that is the cause would have to be external, immaterial, timeless, unimaginably powerful and would plausibly be personal. Again Pro dodges the question. Pro has secretly dropped some important part. Con successfully defended against attacks on all three premises. Thus, my vote goes to Con. Actually, atom can be made/destroyed through fusion/fission.
Vote Placed by Envisage 2 years ago
Envisage
UchihaMadaraTrasguTravieso
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Comments
Vote Placed by Mister_Man 2 years ago
Mister_Man
UchihaMadaraTrasguTravieso
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Slightly better arguments, Con seems to avoid several arguments and tries to change the rules as to what Pro can and cannot refer to. Good job for Con to actually argue for the Kalam so well, though - his rebuttal against premise 2 was actually quite good. But overall, Pro takes the win. Oh, and "vote pro," ...can you guys quit f*cking doing that? Makes me want to vote for Con... you aren't running for president.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
UchihaMadaraTrasguTravieso
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments. Woot, rematch from Uchi against TT! Leaning pro mainly due to the energy/matter creation argument.
Vote Placed by Burncastle 2 years ago
Burncastle
UchihaMadaraTrasguTravieso
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: While I would say that Con adequately defended the second premise and that Pro was slightly unclear in his attack of the third premise, I believe that Pro's objection to the first premise (which Con did not seem to understand very well) as well as the usage of a fallacy of composition give victory to Pro. Indeed, all that was needed for Pro to win was to show that ONE of the premise was not true (or at least not demonstrated to be true) OR that the conclusion does not follow from the premises. Seeing as he did both, victory to Pro.
Vote Placed by philochristos 2 years ago
philochristos
UchihaMadaraTrasguTravieso
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments