The Instigator
kohai
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Contradiction
Pro (for)
Winning
49 Points

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/16/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,928 times Debate No: 18816
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (98)
Votes (12)

 

kohai

Con

Thank you, contradiction, for agreeing to debate Kalām cosmological argument. In this debate, I shall show how the KCA is a poor argument and really holds no water.

In the first round, I will allow contradiction to post his arguments.

ROUNDS
1) Opening arguments from contradiction
2) First rebuttals
3) Second rebuttals
4) Closing arguments/fourth rebuttals.

Good luck and I am looking forward to am engaging debate.
Contradiction

Pro


For the purposes of this debate, I take the sign of a poor argument to be that the negation of the premises are more plausible than their affirmations. With that in mind, kohai must demonstrate that the following premises are probably false:

KCA

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

We come first to premise (1), which is confirmed in virtually ever area of our sense experience. Even quantum fluctuations, which many suppose to be uncaused, are causally conditioned in that they depend on the existence of a pre-existing quantum vacuum. Indeed, if we suppose (1) to be false, then there is nothing preventing just anything and everything from popping into existence anywhere and at any time. But obviously this doesn't happen -- the universe exhibits regular law-like behavior.

In fact, we see that (1) is a logically necessary truth, the denial of which is self-contradictory. As David Oderberg argues:

We are asked to countenance the possibility of the following situation: the nonexistence of anything followed by the existence of something. The words “followed by” are crucial — how are they to be interpreted? What they cannot mean is that there is at one time nothing and at a subsequent time something, because the nonexistence of anything is supposed toinclude time: to say that at one time there is nothing whatsoever is self-defeating because it is to say that there is a time at which nothing exists — hence something did exist. But it is hard to see how else we are supposed to understand “followed by”; or when the denier of the causal principle says that it is possible for something to come from nothing what are we to understand by “from”? Again it cannot have a causal sense because something is supposed to have come into existence uncaused. All that appears to be left is a timeless contradiction — the existence of nothing and the existence of something. [1]

Moreover, even if it was shown that there could be such things as effects without causes (Nevermind that it would destroy the idea of causal regularity as we see it), this only barely scratches the KCA. We can simply recast the argument in inductive terms, arguing that it is probable that whatever begins to exist has a cause, and from that draw the conclusion that the universe probably has a cause. Even this less stringent formulation of the KCA is enough to satisfy the conditions of being a good argument.

Dan Barker (Who my opponent is sure to cite), argues that P1 is question-begging because the only member of the class of objects which do not begin to exist is God. Hence P1 becomes "Everything except God needs a cause." However, this criticism is grossly off-point. First, the modified-P1 is simply not logically equivalent to P1. If we recast the KCA using M-P1, then the argument becomes structurally invalid. Second, M-P1 confuses meaning with reference. The two premises may refer to the same object, but their meaning is obviously different. Third, whereas M-P1 is framed in terms of being an existential statement (One which asserts the existence of something), P1 is a universally quantified statement. Consider the formalized version of the argument:

1. (x) (Bx -> Cx)
2. Bu
3. Cu

Where B = begins to exist; c = cause, u = universe.

Universally quantified statements do not commit one to the existence of classes of objects, whereas existential statements (Such as Barker's M-P1) do. Hence P1 and M-P1 are not logically equivalent.

Premise 2

If premise (2) is false, then it follows that the universe never began to exist. But, if the universe never began to exist, then the number of past events must have been actually infinite in duration. This assumes that the existence of actually infinite sets in re is possible. But if in fact actually infinite sets cannot exist in reality, then (2) must be true.Several types of arguments can be advanced in favor of this thesis. I will mention two.

Hilbert's Hotel

Suppose that we have a hotel with an actually infinite number of rooms and that an actually infinite number of guests arrives. The manager easily accomodates the guests, and that's that. But now suppose that another guest arrives. "No problem!" says the manger, and he moves the guest in room #1 into room #2, the guest in room #2, into room #3, and so on. In a flash, the fully occupied hotel suddenly has one more room. But how can this be? The hotel was already full!

Now suppose that an actually infinite number of new guests arrives looking for rooms. Without breaking a sweat, the manager moves each guest into a room that is twice his own. As a result, all of the odd numbered rooms become vacant, and the guests are accomodated without issue. But again, how can this be? The hotel was already full prior to their arrival! But now suppose that all of the guests in the even numbered rooms check out. It would still be the case that the hotel had just as many guests as before. In fact, with some re-arranging, the manager could turn his half empty hotel into one that's jam-packed. But how can this be?

Hilbert's hotel is rightly absurd, and it illustrates the absurdities that could result if actually infinite sets did exist in reality. Because mathematical operations involving actually infinite sets lead to contradictions, they cannot exist in reality.

The Grim Reaper Paradox

This can be seen as an argument in itself, and as an argument to support Hilbert's Hotel. If Hilbert's Hotel is possible, then the Grim Reaper Paradox is possible, but if the Grim Reaper Paradox is not possible, then Hilbert's Hotel must be impossible at well.

Suppose that there are a countably infinite number of grim reapers (GR) who want to kill you between 10AM and 11AM, meaning that you will not survive past 11AM. Now suppose that each GR wants you kill you at a time 1/n from 10AM. So:

GR-1 will strike at 11
GR-2 will strike at 10:30
GR-3 will strike at 10:15
etc...

We see that for every GR which could have killed you, there must have been one before it which would have killed you. But since there is an infinite number of grim reapers, it follows that you will not be killed. Yet it is true that you will not survive past 11AM. So we seem to have a contradiction here in the idea of a backwards infinite sequence of events. How is this relevant to P2? Alexander Pruss argues the following [2]:

1. If there could be a backwards infinite sequence of events, Hilbert's Hotel would be possible.
2. If Hilbert's Hotel were possible, the GR Paradox could happen.
3. The GR Paradox cannot happen.
4. Therefore, there cannot be a backwards infinite sequence of events.

These two arguments support the truth of P2. There are also scientific arguments for P2, but I will not cover them in my opening argument.

Premise 3

It must be noted that since there is nothing prior to the cause of the universe, it cannot be explained scientifically, as this would imply the existence of antecedent determining conditions. Because there are no prior determining conditions, the cause of the universe must be personal and uncaused, for how else could a timeless cause give rise to a temporal effect? Moreover, the cause must transcend both matter and time to create matter and time. Finally, in order to create the universe ex nihilo, this cause must be enormously powerful, if not omnipotent. One is warranted in concluding that therefore, God exists.

With that, I now turn it over to kohai for his opening argument.

___________

Sources

1. David S. Oderberg, "Traversal of the Infinite, the “Big Bang” and the Kalam Cosmological Argument", Philosophia Christi 4 (2002): 305-36
2. Alexander Pruss, "From the Grim Reaper Paradox to the Kalaam Argument" http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com...
Debate Round No. 1
kohai

Con

I would like to personally thank contradiction for accepting this debate. I anticipate a tough debate and I hope that I learn something from you.

“Everything that begins to exist has a cause”

This premise is not true. “Everything that begins to exist has a cause” is demolished in our understanding of quantum mechanics and decay of Carbon-14 atoms. Scientist found that particles of energy may come into existence, completely uncaused, in empty space [1]. Furthermore, another exception is the decay of C-14 atoms. C-14 has a half life of 5730 years, half of the C-14 present is identical, yet they decay at different times. If all atoms are exactly the same, should not they decay at precisely the same time? Because they do not, we have came to believe that the decay is spontaneous and hence uncaused [2].

Hence, we see that it is possible that vacuum fluctuations are possibly what caused the Big Bang. It is interesting to note that this possibility is perfectly possible [3].

Contradiction responds by arguing that although some quantum mechanics appear uncaused, they still have certain necessary preconditions before they can occur. My objection is that these quantum events are still uncaused, even if, for example, quantum fluctuations can only occur in a quantum vacuum. We must recognize that many quantum events are not necessitated by some earlier state. Could it be that the universe was a completely spontaneous thing whose existence is completely independent of what existed before? If not, why not.

“The universe began to exist”

This premise is somewhat problematic. The fact that the universe had a beginning does not mean that physical existence as a whole had a beginning. For example, some cosmologist believe that at our universe began in the black hole of another universe. Hence, if this is true, then it may be that there were universes giving rise to even more universe through black holes.

An Actual Infinity?

“Imagine a library with an infinite number of books. Suppose that half of the books are blue and half of them are green, so that for every blue book there is a green book, and vice versa. It follows that the library contains as many green books as the total books in its collection (an infinity), and as many blue books as green and blue books combined (also an infinity). But this is absurd. Therefore, actual infinities cannot exist.”

I believe that it fails because finite numbers cannot be expected to behave as infinite numbers. By this logic, one must reject the belief in God as he is supposedly an actual infinite.

Moreover, we do know that an actual infinity does exist! To demolish this point, allow me to bring up both definitions of a singularity:

1: "A gravitational singularity or spacetime singularity is a location where the quantities that are used to
measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system.
These quantities are the scalar invariant curvatures of spacetime, which includes a measure of the
density of matter."[4]
2: "A point at which a function takes an infinite value, esp. in space-time when matter is infinitely dense, as
at the center of a black hole"[5]

Thus, I have shown that this point is false. Moreover, my question is that how is God able to be infinite without special pleading? If it is because of the fact that he is transcendent, I ask, how can a being outside time do any thinking (or anything) at all?

So, what we have seen is that if the Big Bang is true (which Contradiction agrees with), then it is possible that the universe could have began in a singularity, which is an actual infinity.

Begging the Question

Dan Barker asks a few questions that I would like to ask my opponent which sheds light onto the failure of the Kalam Cosmological Argument [6].

In order for the Kalam Cosmological Argument to be salvaged, theists must answer these questions, at least:

  1. Is God the only object accommodated by the set of things that do not begin to exist?
  • If yes, then why is the cosmological argument not begging the question?
  • If no, then what are the other candidates for the cause of the universe, and how have they been eliminated?
  1. Does the logic of Kalam apply only to temporal antecedents in the real world?
  • If yes, this assumes the existence of nontemporal antecedents in the real world, so why is this not begging the question?
  • If no, then why doesn't the impossibility of an actual infinity disprove the existence of an actually infinite God?
  1. Is the universe (cosmos) a member of itself?
  • If not, then how can its "beginning" be compared with other beginnings?

Thank you, Contradiction, and I await your responses.

References

[1] http://universe-review.ca...

[2] Stenger, Victor. God: The Failed Hypothesis, pp132-125

[3] Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time, The Isaac Newton Institute Series of Lectures (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 20.

[4] Gravitational singularity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.).Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved October 18, 2011, from <http://en.wikipedia.org...>

[5] http://tinyurl.com...

[6]. Barker, Dan. Cosmological Kalamity. http://www.infidels.org...

Contradiction

Pro

Kohai makes several false claims in his opening argument. In this round, I will elaborate on his errors and further defend the KCA.

PREMISE ONE

Kohai argues that the spontaneous decay of Carbon atoms/quantum fluctuations pose a counterexample to the principle that whatever begins to exist has a cause. This is simply false.

First, he confuses epistemic indeterminancy with ontological indeterminancy. That science isn't able to furnish a clear causal scenario does not mean that the event in question is uncaused. Indeed, it is likely that this unability is merely epistemic. If the causal principle really is false, then why does causal indeterminancy (Understood in an ontological sense) only happen at the quantum level? There should be no reason not to suppose that it can also be true on a macroscopic level. It is thus more likely that there is indeed a cause, but our inability to detect it is only an epistemic limitation that does not have any ontological implications.

Second, the force of this objection depends on what prior interpretation of quantum mechanics one adheres to. There are more than a dozen such interpretations, all of which are empirically equivalent. Many of them (Such as the Bohmian interpretation) are thoroughly deterministic. It is far from unclear why we should prefer a non-deterministic interpretation over a deterministic one, especially considering that the latter types of interpretations are less ad hoc.

Third, Kohai confuses causal necessitation with causal conditioning. "Let us suppose", as Doug Geivett points out, "that quantum events are indeterminate so that they are not causally necessitated by antecedent states of affairs. It does not follow that they are not causally conditioned. In fact, they are. If they were not at all causally conditioned, they wouldn't be repeatable under controlled circumstances in the physicists's laboratory." [Emphasis mine] [1] Indeed, atomic decay exhibits certain law-like behavior. If it were truly random, then we couldn't trust Carbon-14 dating.

Fourth, even granting that a strong version of P1 is false, it does not phaze the KCA at all. We can simply recast the argument in inductive form, arguing that the conclusion has a higher probability than its negation. [2]

PREMISE TWO

Kohai writes, "The fact that the universe had a beginning does not mean that physical existence as a whole had a beginning." This is mistaken. First, if the philosophical arguments I put forth are sound, then the fact that the universe began to exist does mean that our physical existence as a whole had a beginning. To assume otherwise is to simply beg the question. Second, this is false given the standard big bang model. On such a model, the universe literally begins to exist ex nihilo at the initial singularity. As Quentin Smith has said, the singularity constitutes a boundary condition, such that nothing can exist prior to it.

Actual Infinites

Kohai argues against Hilbert's Hotel-esque paradoxes by stating that "finite numbers cannot be expected to behave as infinite numbers." But this is a gross misunderstanding of the argument! Such paradoxes do not begin with a finite number and then proceed to reason that there is something problematic. Indeed, they stipulate that actual infinites are possible in reality and then proceeed to show that inverse operations of mathematics cannot apply, as they will lead to contradictions. As such, actual infinite cannot exist in reality. This type of argument is known as a reductio ad absurdum. So far from critiquing the argument, Kohai doesn't even understand it.

He then attempts to draw a parallel between actual infinites and the infinity of God. This is false, as it equivocates between qualitative and quantitative conceptions of infinity. The arguments against the existence of actually infinite sets only show that there cannot exist an actually infinite number of things. That is, the term "infinite" here is understood quantitatively. When theists speak of God's infinity, they do not mean that God has an infinite number of parts. Rather, "infinity" here is just an umbrella term used to refer to God's superlative properties of omniscience, omnipotence, etc...

Kohai's final argument is that the very idea of a singularity must be an actual infinite. This is false. Again, when cosmologists speak of a singularity as having infinite density, they do not mean that it has parts. Rather, they mean that at such a state, the universe has a zero scale factor. That is, it is dimensionless. [3]

FINAL ARGUMENTS

Kohai pastes several objections to the KCA posed by new atheist Dan Barker. I have already responded to Barker's caricature of the argument in my opening argument and in this round, hence I will refer Kohai to that.

Conclusion

The Kalam cosmological argument remains unbloddied and unbowed. The same cannot be said for Kohai's (and Barker's) objections. We can conclude that his attempts to refute the argument are an abject failure.
________

Sources

1. Douglas Geivett, "The Kalam Cosmological Argument" in Beckwith, Craig, and Moreland (eds) To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview (IVP: 2004) 72
2. Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (IVP: 2011) 216
3. W. L. Craig and J. D. Sinclair, "The Kalam Cosmological Argument" in Craig and Moreland (eds) The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Blackwell: 2009) 125-127
Debate Round No. 2
kohai

Con

Since I have changed usernames, innomen asked me to close this account. Therefore, I humbly resign this debate. I'm doing this so you we can quickly get this to the voting period.
Contradiction

Pro

Thanks. Also, for those interested, here's the audio of William Lane Craig debating Stephen Law: ;
Debate Round No. 3
kohai

Con

I urge a pro vote. Sorry for a terrible debate.

I think you are changing my views somewhat.
Contradiction

Pro

That's always good to know :)

Here's a cool video to end the debate: ;
Debate Round No. 4
98 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ThinkBig 5 months ago
ThinkBig
Wow @ lannan13, way to bring up a debate that hasn't been voted on in more than 4 years.
Posted by narmak 3 years ago
narmak
It is not valid to say that an infinite amount of time is impossible as our understanding of time is not yet complete. Also understanding how infinite works is another thing that people do not understand they use scenarios like Line up infinite number of bills starting from 1 dollar then take out all the even number bills and you are still left with an infinite number of bills. they think this means that infinite - infinite=infinite but that is not true.
It may look like it is true but it is not this is where it goes wrong. First step in this scenario is they take infinite and divide it into two seperate groups. We have EVEN bills(Yinfinite) and odd bills(Zinfinite).Lets call all bills xinfinite.
when x infinite is diveded by two we are left with the two cases of infinite z and y. then we remove the even bills soo we is taken out and the reason we still have an infintie number of bills is because of our 2nd case of infinite. z infinite
Posted by warpedfx 5 years ago
warpedfx
Why does the existence of universe require time? You accuse my definition as being too expansive, except that's what universe IS. The local spacetime expansion is simply a subset of it (should another "universe" of that ilk should exist) and their origins do not violate the first law of thermodynamics. We don't know which pre-planck cosmology actually describe the origins of the spacetime, but we do know that none of them posit creation ex nihilo, or the creation of energy. In fact Vilenkin's previous paper posits the origin as conveye in the BVG as being the mechanism as to how the past-incomplete geodesic could have arisen, via the initial energy density leading to a false vacuum from which the quantum nucleation takes over and kickstarts the spacetime.

As for the rest of the premises, the first premise is restricted to this definition of "whatever has a beginning of existence ex nihilo has a cause of its existence". Except you don't have this because we do not have any examples or evidence of things beginning to exist in such a fashion.
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
"is time required for existence? if not, why does the universe"

Why does the universe what? Also, "all that exists" is too expansive a definition, since that would include (1) abstract objects and (2) God, if they exist.

Rather, a better definition would be that the universe is all of spatio-temporal reality, which is a subset of reality (Which would include God, if he exists).
Posted by warpedfx 5 years ago
warpedfx
is time required for existence? if not, why does the universe (defined as all that exists, and not simply the spacetime expansion)?
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
he already has another account. He shouldnt have made another til he'd finished his debates
Posted by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
I'm not surprised. You bombarded him with a whole bunch of scientific jargon and words over 12 letters long. He probably couldn't even understand your rebuttal, much less refute it.
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
Deactivated? Oh come on.
Posted by drafterman 5 years ago
drafterman
Another note: The GR Paradox only argues against dividing time infinitely. It doesn't argue against all infinite series. The ability to pick two points and say that you cannot infinitely divide among them does not prevent those points from, themselves, being part of a larger infinite series.
Posted by Meatros 5 years ago
Meatros
Also, how does the A theory explain the relativistic notion of simultaneous "presents"? It's my understanding that they would say there are no such thing. The 'explanation' is that the instruments that we use to measure time are somehow wrong - is this understanding correct?

(yes, I know, it would probably be better to read X book on this and I actually do have several X books in my 'que').

Thanks
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