The Instigator
Lucky_Luciano
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Con (against)
Winning
18 Points

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument is Sound - 2

Do you like this debate?NoYes+10
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/2/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,534 times Debate No: 33182
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (30)
Votes (6)

 

Lucky_Luciano

Pro

Resolved: The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument is Sound.

Rounds:

1. Presentation of the LCA/Initial Refutation
2. Clash
3. Weighing/Clash

No new arguments should be presented in round 3 unless in direct response to a new argument presented in round 2.

God is defined as the necessary, personal first cause of the universe.

We should rationally accept an argument as sound if the affirmation of its premises is more plausible than the negation.

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument
  1. Every existing thing has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
  2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
  3. The universe is an existing thing.
  4. Therefore the explanation of the universe is God.

Premise 1

An Overview of Modal Logic

Modal logic is a typology of argumentation that bases its premises in the contingency or necessity of their content. Something is necessary if it could not have failed to exist. The laws of mathematics are necessarily true; it seems reasonable that mathematical truths such as one plus one making two hold true irrespective of how the world may function. The world could exist in the exact opposite manner as it does now and one plus one would still make two. God is also a necessary being, a being that logically could not have failed to exist. It is in the very nature of God that he essentially possess all compossible perfections. Necessary existence is in itself a perfection, and thus God must possess it. That is to say that the very nature of God necessarily explains his existence.

Something is contingent if it could have failed to exist. Most things exist contingently. Each human might not have existed, their respective parents may not have met or had children. Thus, our existence is contingent. The universe appears to exist contingently as well. It seems that the universe may have developed in such a way that the planets were created in different positions, with different respects to habitability. The stars we observe may have been blindingly bright or too dim to see. The Earth itself may not have come into existence. As the universe is contingent, it cannot explain its own existence, for if its own nature entails its existence then it must have necessarily existed.

The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

The Principle of Sufficient Reason claims that all contingent beings must have explanations. I will defend several arguments that support the PSR.

First, it would seem that the PSR requires no defense. All evidence gathered by our sense perception seems to support the universal and undeniable affirmation of this principle. Indeed, if we admit the first premise to be invalid, then there seems to lack any logical reason that things do not simply pop into and out of existence. However, it appears that there is no evidence to prove that this happens. For every existing thing there must also be an explanation of its existence.

I would also like to present a seemingly stronger argument in support of the PSR: The Explanation of Negative States of Affairs. I feel this argument is best articulated by Alexander R. Pruss [1] in his book The Principle of Sufficient Reason: A Reassessment:

Here is a pattern of explanation we all accept [...]“Why did the yogurt fail to ferment? It failed to ferment because none of the usual explanations of fermentation, namely, the presence of bacteria, were there to explain it, and there was no unusual cause. Why did the dog not bark? It did not bark because no stranger approached it and none of the other possible causes of barking caused it to bark.” These are perfectly fine explanations, and they are not elliptical for longer explanations, though of course they are not ultimate explanations since one may ask why no stranger approached the dog.

In these explanations, we explain a negative state of affairs by noting that the positive state of affairs that it is the denial of lacked an explanation. But now observe that this form of explanation presupposes a PSR, at least for positive states of affair, for if such a PSR does not hold, then one has failed to explain the negative state of affairs. If it is possible that a dog should bark without cause, then in saying that there was no cause for the dog to bark we have not explained why the dog did not bark. We may have explained why a nonbrute barking did not occur, but we have not explained why a brute, or unexplained, barking did not occur.

Our acceptance of the preceding explanations as nonelliptical is thus a sign of our tacit acceptance of the PSR.

With these arguments, I hold that the PSR is sound.

Underview of Premise 1

It seems apparent through modal logic that things exist either necessarily or contingently. Necessary existence is explained by its own nature. The same cannot be said for that which exists contingently. However, the PSR successfully provides that all things which exist contingently must have an explanation. Thus, premise 1 holds true.

Premise 2

If the universe exists, it must exist contingently as detailed in my overview of modal logic. The PSR holds that all contingent beings must have explanations. The existence of a contingent being cannot be explained solely by other contingent beings, for those contingent beings would require explanations from other contingent beings ad infinitum. Thus, there must be a first cause, a necessary being that explains the existence of all contingent beings. Bruce Reichenbach [2] argues, "the necessary being cannot provide a natural explanation for [the universe], for we know of no natural, non-contingent causes and laws or principles from which the existence of the universe follows. What is required is a personal explanation in terms of the intentional acts of some eternal supernatural being. Since the argument proceeds independent of temporal considerations, the argument does not propose a first cause in time, but rather a first or primary sustaining cause of the universe."

The argument is not that God must exist because we do not currently have evidence of natural, non-contingent causes but rather that the idea of natural non-contingent causes is irrational. Consider this: a completely material cause is the first cause. This cause, known as N1, or the first natural cause, sparked the creation of the entire universe. N1 is a necessary being because as previously explained, an infinite number of contingent beings cannot explain their own existence. N1 is the reason the spacio-temporal world as we know it was created. It is the reason matter came into existence. But how is this possible? How can N1 create space and time? By definition, natural beings require space to exist within and are temporal. Also by definition, natural beings are composed of matter. How can that which is composed of matter also account for the creation of matter? On the other hand, suppose P1 is a necessary, personal first cause. Now we can logically explain the creation of space, time, and matter because a personal being may posses the qualities of being eternal, and may transcend the physical. Its will allows for the creation of that which it is not, the physical world. As demonstrated a necessary, natural first cause is logically contradictory. Due to the inability for it to be anything but God, God himself must serve as the explanation of the universe's existence.

Premise 3

I do not believe that this premise will be contested by my opponent. If he, however, decides to raise the question of whether the universe exists I will gladly provide evidence in the following round.

Conclusion

The conclusion that the explanation of the universe is God cannot be logically denied if the 3 premises in support of it hold true. As a result, for my opponent to reject the conclusion he must ascertain the negation of any of the 3 premises of the LCA.

Sources

1. Pruss, Alexander R. The Principle of Sufficient Reason: An Explanation. 2006.
2. http://tinyurl.com...;
RoyLatham

Con

Thanks to my opponent for taking up this topic again.

1. The LCA requires violation of natural law

The LCA has three components: (1) God necessarily exists and is necessarily capable of performing miracles, (2) the universe must have come into existence through a miracle and not through natural law, and (3) therefore, God created the universe. People who believe in God may also believe that God chooses to act through natural laws in the natural world. One may believe that God is the ultimate reason for sunrise, while believing that the mechanism for accomplishing sunrise is the earth rotating around the sun in accordance with the laws of motion observed by Newton. The explanation for sunrise involves stating Newtons Laws, verifying their validity, and then showing how they work to produce sunrise.

It seems to me that if God exists and wanted to create the universe through natural laws, He could have. The LCA argues that is not possible, that the universe must have been created miraculously, outside of any mechanism that could be used for a scientific explanation. Science has not come up with proven scientific explanation, although they are making progress. All I must show in this debate is that a scientific explanation is plausible. That would allow the possibility that God chose to act through natural law, contrary to the miracle that the LCA requires for its proof.

2. A scientific explanation of the universe is plausible

All cosmological arguments fail because they mistake beliefs gained by experience with logical necessity. It's vital to the debate to understand this confusion. Pro explicitly calls upon everyday experience as proof that it is impossible for things to simply “pop into and out of existence.” He's quite wrong, but we'll get to that after a simple example of the limits of everyday experience.

Suppose you are traveling at some speed in a vehicle, maybe a train. Inside the vehicle you can run forwards a few steps and momentarily reach a total speed of the vehicle speed plus your running speed. We may think that no matter what speed the vehicle is traveling, we can always go faster by adding some velocity. Is it pure logic that tells us that's true, or is it a product of experience that no matter how fast we are moving, we believe we an always go faster? Einstein theorized that it is not possible to always go faster. The speed of light cannot be exceeded in any inertial frame of reference. Einstein has been conclusively proved correct by observation and measurement. Since the conclusion that we can always go faster is wrong, it cannot have been a product of pure logic.

We can always run in the train, but the speed does not add as we might suppose. Lack of contrary experience allows us to keep the false belief. In debate, an argument from incredulity is an argument believed true because we have had no contrary evidence. Here, the contradiction appears only under very unusual or difficult-to-observe circumstances.

Now consider causes and events. The idea of a "cause" supposes a time sequence wherein some action happens that precedes an observed event, and in which the event would not have occurred without it.. Our everyday experience tells us that everything must have a cause, and we may come to believe that it is a logical necessity that everything that occurs must have a cause. This everyday notion is also false, but again the failure can only be observed under certain circumstances.

"... Physicists have now confirmed that the apparently substantial stuff is actually no more than fluctuations in the quantum vacuum.

The researchers simulated the frantic activity that goes on inside protons and neutrons. These particles provide almost all the mass of ordinary matter.

Each proton (or neutron) is made of three quarks - but the individual masses of these quarks only add up to about 1% of the proton's mass. So what accounts for the rest of it?

Theory says it is created by the force that binds quarks together, called the strong nuclear force. ... The energy of these vacuum fluctuations has to be included in the total mass of the proton and neutron.

... For now, Dürr's calculation shows that QCD describes quark-based particles accurately, and tells us that most of our mass comes from virtual quarks and gluons fizzing away in the quantum vacuum." [1. http://www.newscientist.com...]

We know as fact that contrary to Pro's claim, things pop into existence and out of existence all the time. Well, those are things too small to see. What about big things, like a universe? One possibility is that we don't see new universes because they only appear every trillion years or so, which is one theory. Another theory is that universes coexist in different dimensions so we cannot see them.

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking, perhaps the most eminent scientist in the field:

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," he writes. "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. … It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

While universes are created spontaneously, it may also be possible for a scientist to create a universe in the laboratory. Alan Guth, originator of the inflation theory in the explanation of the Big Bang, believes it is possible. [2. http://www.nytimes.com...] "The seed, Dr. Guth says, would consist of a spatial region of 'false vacuum' - a region charged with the negative energy essential to driving the inflation of the infant universe. Starting from virtually nothing, the expanding space in such a universe would create for itself all the particles of matter and energy that make up a universe like our own."

What happened before the Big Bang created the universe? We think that question makes sense, because out experience is with time moving in our daily lives. But Stephen Hawking writes:

" ... James Hartle of the University of California Santa Barbara, and I have proposed that space and imaginary time together, are indeed finite in extent, but without boundary. They would be like the surface of the Earth, but with two more dimensions. The surface of the Earth is finite in extent, but it doesn't have any boundaries or edges. I have been round the world, and I didn't fall off." [3.http://www.hawking.org.uk...]

Scientists are sure that these theories, though unproved, do not contradict our everyday experience. That defeats the LCA requirement that a miracle must have occurred.

3. God is not a “necessary being”

Pro argues that God must exist as a consequence of the definition of perfection. Kant effectively disposed of the ontological argument centuries ago by observing that existence is not a predicate. [4. http://plato.stanford.edu...] “Existence” is not a property of an object itself, but a relationship of the object to the real world. If it is a property of the object, then we can define a unicorn as a horse with a horn that exists and by virtue of the definition we made one exist. We might also define God as being perfect in every way except for existence. Then the definition makes God not exist.

Moreover, perfection is a relative property. Would Pro assert that a devil that exists is closer to perfection than a demon that does not exist? If existence is an attribute that contributes to perfection, that any being that has it must be more perfect than one that does not. At best it is not a property relevant to perfection.

As I asserted at the outset, defeat of the LCA leaves the God question unanswered. Defeat of the ontological proof also leaves the question open for a different claim of proof or acceptance by faith.

Debate Round No. 1
Lucky_Luciano

Pro

Premise 1

An Overview of Modal Logic

This is a response to Roy's third rebuttal.

God is defined as the necessary, personal, first cause of the universe. The discussion of perfections is a conclusion that could plausibly be derived from the validity of the LCA, but is irrelevant to this debate. My apologies for using the term perfections when speaking of God. That is a topic that ought to be discussed in another debate. Let's just talk about necessary existence. Roy's third rebuttal, at this point, is a straw man. I do not argue that God must exist because I attribute to him, by definition, the quality of necessary existence. My argument is that the first cause of the universe must exist necessarily, not contingently. I then proceed to show that no other necessary cause can explain the universe's existence. As a result of the process of elimination, I conclude that a cause which is both necessary and personal must have been the first cause of the universe. This necessary, personal, first cause is what the LCA defends as "God." Note that this "God" is not attributed any qualities of Christian Theology or common divinity.

The Principle of Sufficient Reason

I have two arguments in support of the PSR.

1. The Argument from Coherence

This is a response to Roy's second rebuttal.

This argument claims that the PSR acts in coherence with all available evidence collected and experiences we have had about the world.

Roy's example paints the image of somebody making the claim that by adding velocity we may go faster. This claim is not referential to possible alternative, i.e. there existing some upper barrier of speed. Because the reasoning in Roy's example is not referential to all possible alternatives, Roy's rebuttal holds true. However, the PSR does look to all possible alternatives, as utilized in the LCA. It defines every type of cause and then uses the process of elimination to reject impossible explanations. At best Roy has succeeded in proving the PSR is fallacious solely based on its own merits, but the LCA provides a more rigorous environment in which we can utilize the PSR. Because the PSR is only used in the LCA when every possible type of cause is known, i.e. every alternative is addressed, we can still hold it as sound for the purpose of this debate.

Roy also tries to claim that quantum fields are responsible for things "popping into existence." This is a classic equivocation fallacy. My argument that things do not "pop into existence" is the principle of ex nihilo nihil fit, from nothing comes nothing. This is not a new formulation of my argument, I clearly concluded that the reason that things do not "pop into existence" is because, "For every existing thing there must also be an explanation of its existence." Ex nihilo nihil fit. In the quantum theory proposed by Roy, the particles are not uncaused, but instead originate as a fluctuation of the vacuum energy that has many physical laws and structure in space, which isn't what is meant by the word 'nothing.' Even in principle we cannot affirm uncaused quantum events, for their experimental setup yield probabilistic emissions. Sure these events don't yet have a best known cause, nevertheless they still have a cause enough - regardless of the interpretation, and this is all that is required for the PSR. Moreover, and since we do not know the true nature of matter, if anything, quantum fluctuations in empty space where photons pop into existence could serve as a "tongue-and-cheek" conceptual example of a caused ex nihilo creation. Insofar as this phenomena occurs, it is evident that a personal cause is to be held responsible.

2. The Explanation of Negative States of Affairs

Roy did not refute this defense of the PSR, therefore even if my first argument in favor of the PSR does not hold, we still ought to accept the PSR as sound due to my second, and as previously stated, stronger argument in it's favor. If a stronger formulation of the same claim is proved true, then the weaker formulation cannot be false for the stronger formulation defends more claims, the weaker formulation included.

Premise 2

This is a response to Roy's first rebuttal.

Roy is misinterpreting the way the LCA addresses causal chains and where in that chain the universe's origin must be placed. I agree that a completely natural cause could have provided reason for the universe, but that cause's existence would either be contingent on a necessary cause, or it would exist contingently on another contingent cause. As I explained, all causal chains must have a necessary cause as it's first cause. Ergo in a causal chain of C1, C2, C3, C4, ..., Cn, we can conclude that Cause 1 (C1) must exist necessarily. Every following cause must exist contingently, as it only exists as a result of the prior cause. The reason that every causal chain must begin with a necessary cause is that contingent existences cannot be explained solely by alternative contingent existences, because those causes will demand further explanation ad infinitum. Because a chain of contingent causes cannot explain itself, there must be a necessary first cause that provides explanation for its own existence.

Roy is arguing that the LCA claims C1 is God and C2 is the universe. This is false. The universe can be any cause, or existence, after C1. Therefore, if we determine that C1 is God, C2 are quantum fields, and C3 is the universe, the LCA still holds true. The LCA does not argue that the universe miraculously popped into existence, but rather derives arguments from the contingent nature of the universe. You could replace the universe in the LCA with any contingent being and achieve the same results. The LCA speaks to a typology of existence, not the directly prior cause of that being. This also addresses his second rebuttal. Even if a natural explanation of the universe is possible, that explanation must be necessary to be the first cause within the causal chain. However, I have explained how necessary, natural, first causes are incoherent. My original argument was that matter could not create matter. The idea is that all physical entities require causal explanation from other physical entities. No physical entity could explain itself. Because no physical entity can explain itself, all physical entities must be contingent. Because a chain of solely contingent causes is impossible, there must be a non-physical first cause at the beginning of every causal chain containing physical properties. Roy offers negative energy as the reason we have matter, but negative energy cannot explain why we have negative energy. Therefore, either a personal being created negative energy, or they created another physical entity that created negative energy.

Premise 3

Premise 3 was not refuted.

Conclusion

To make things simple:

Every causal chain, C1, ..., CN must begin with a necessary first cause. Roy's rebuttals are compatible with the LCA because he simply argues that for any given CN at which the universe exists, C(N-1) is a natural cause. This is perfectly fine given the LCA's validity because the universe may be C3, the quantum fields may be C2, and God may be C1. There may be a larger gap because God and the quantum fields and the LCA would still remain sound. Insofar as natural, or physical, causes of the universe result in an infinite causal chain, we know that the beginning of this chain must have been personal. Insofar as solely contingent causal explanations carry on ad infinitum, we also know that the beginning of this chain is necessary. Ergo, the first cause of the universe must have been necessary and personal. Because God is defined as the necessary, personal, first cause of the universe, the LCA is sound. Essentially, none of Roy's rebuttals are incompatible with the LCA, and even if they were, they are ill-founded.
RoyLatham

Con


Modal logic depends on generalization from limited experience


There are two ways that something is necessarily true. One way is that it is true by definition. The other way is if it follows necessarily from a set of rules. There is some controversy over whether mathematics is true by definition or a consequence of logic, but the correspondence of mathematics to observed events in the real world is not guaranteed. No one doubts the utility of mathematics, but the mathematical formulation of complex problems is open to doubt as to whether the properties of the real world are correctly represented by the math.


There is one other necessity. We know by personal observation that we exist. What that existence comprises is not know with certainty. We might be computer programs generating the illusions of what we see, but we know that something is happening.


Modal logic starts with a false assumption that necessity and contingency can be applied to God and to the universe. We can imagine that an alternate universe might exist, but we don't know for sure. Perhaps our universe has some unique property that rules out alternatives. We doubt that is the case, but we don't know. The assertion that the universe is contingent is derived solely from our being able to imagine a different one.


All the tests in the LCA are whether or not we can imagine something. Our imaginations are limited by our experience, which means all the arguments are arguments from incredulity. They assert that because we have never experienced an exception to some claim and cannot imagine one, then the claim must be true.


God in the LCA


The God in the LCA has none of the properties of a God other than the abilities to exist separate from time and to create something from nothing. That could be a natural law. Here is a proof:


    1. Nothing in nature happens except in accordance with natural law.
    2. The series of causes leading to our universe must have begun with a first cause.
    3. Therefore, there is a natural law that creates something from nothing.
This proof is not valid because, just like the LCA, premise 1 and premise 2 are both arguments from incredulity. Premise (1) derives from being unable to imagine that real magic exists, and (2) assumes that time behaves as an linear sequence. Perhaps we cannot imagine that here are uncaused events, or that time starts and stops, or that time is finite and boundless, but that does not mean that such things are impossible. It only constrains when and how they happen so as to not be readily observable to us.

There is nothing whatsoever in the LCA that requires the derived God to be “personal” unless the ontological argument is invoked. Pro says that the ontological argument is not invoked, so there fore the God it proves is indistinguishable from natural law. The resolution fails because it does not prove a God to exist, but rather only a natural law that Pro calls God.


By comparison, define God as "a being who makes force equal to mass times acceleration.” That's Newton's law, which is observed to be true. Therefore God is proved to exist. The fault is that the proof is not of a God by any reasonable definition.


How does Pro know that an event cannot occur without a cause?

He doesn't know it. He offers no proof. He simply cannot imagine it otherwise. Scientists can imagine it, and they describe the circumstances under which it could happen consistent with the universe that we have observed.

Pro claims that quantum fluctuation is not an example of something occurring without cause, because it occurs as a result of a pre-existing quantum field. That's not a valid criticism because the field does not cause the event. For example, suppose we watched a large tank of water and suddenly a fish appeared and then disappeared. Would we then say, “This is not an example of a spontaneous even because the water was the cause for the fish.” Quantum fluctuations are not predictable and are not in any sense caused by the field. The creation of a particle and anti-particle does not draw any energy from the field, the total mass and total energy of the space does not change.

The quantum field is a mathematical artifice used to perform computations in quantum mechanics. The space is a vacuum. There is a theory that while a vacuum is empty space, it may be possible for the space itself not to exist. One theory is that the universe expands by creating more space, and that the new space created has vacuum energy. The vacuum energy exerts a gravitational field which is detected. The theory is that something, vacuum energy, is created from absolutely nothing. It is created as a property of the created space itself. [5. http://www.astro.ucla.edu...]


Pro contends that quantum events might be caused by some hidden mechanism yet to be revealed. However, he is claiming that uncaused events are logically impossible. Clearly, quantum physicists believe is is quite possible that they are uncaused, and they work successfully under the assumption they are not caused.


How does Pro know that in every sequence of events there must be a first cause?

He doesn't know it. He offers no proof. He simply cannot imagine it otherwise. Scientists can imagine it and describe the circumstances under which it could happen consistent with the universe that we have observed.


The model for supposing a first cause is that time holds an endless linear progression of events that embraces everything that exists except God. I cited Hawking as postulating that time is finite, but boundless. In some theories there are multiple universes, each existing as a bubble of time and space that begins and ends in a mulch-dimensional universe.

Pro does not quote any quantum physicist or cosmologist who demands that everything have a cause, he only quotes philosophers who echo the claim, and they universally cited human experience as the basis for the claim.


Pro does not apply the negative argument for the PSR to the existence of God and the universe. He quotes an example in which a person who asserts that if a dog did not bark, it must be for the lack of a reason. The argument is then that the person so asserting has accepted the PSR. So what? How does that apply the LCA? Specifically, when Hawking claims that time may be finite and unbounded, or that the universe may have created itself, how is he accepting the PSR? It's an outright and definitive rejection of the PSR by a scientist who worries a great deal about conflicting evidence.

Perhaps the answer is unknowable to us


Humans have a limited sensory apparatus and limited cognitive powers. When cosmologists like Hawking provide explanations, they do so by show that the mathematics implied by the theories they propose is consistent with the observed world. Insofar as we have an intuition for what Hawking et al are saying, it is by analogy. Hawking compares time to the surface of the earth being bounded but finite, but I doubt anyone can imagine time in that way. All we know is that the math is consistent with observation.

The LCA fails because it assumes that everyday experience provides us with the ability to comprehend the reality of physics and cosmology. It doesn't. One of the assumptions of PSR is not only that everything has an explanation, but that everything has an explanation comprehensible to our limited minds. Scientist Steven Pinker studies the problem of subjective consciousness, which is how the mechanisms of the brain relate to our feeling of being conscious. He has speculated that the answer may be unknowable to us due to our limited cognitive abilities. How the universe came into existence is probably understandable, but we cannot say for sure. The LCA requires that it be understandable. Pro has the burden to prove that it is.

Debate Round No. 2
Lucky_Luciano

Pro

Premise 1

An Overview of Modal Logic

Rebuttal to: Modal logic depends on generalization from limited experience


This is a strawman created by equivocating the term "necessary." Roy's refutation attacks the epistemological definition of necessary knowledge, whether or not we can know a fact a priori. The LCA operates under the ontological definition of necessity, that an entity's existence is explained by its own nature. In other words, that the entity would exist in all possible worlds. His reference to mathematics simply questions whether or not mathematic axioms are a priori in nature, whether or not they are analytic or synthetic. These are epistemological concerns, not ontological ones. Redefining X to Y and claiming that Z refutes Y does not mean that Z also refutes X. It simply means that Z refutes Y. Don't look at Roy's definitional refutation of modal logic. This dismisses his claim that we only apply contingency to our current universe for a failure to imagine alternative universes. I agree that we do not know what other possible universes could have been like, but that is because those universes do not exist. What we do know is that this universe exists and we know that it exists contingently. At worst my opponent's rebuttal is a strawman. At best it invokes epistemic nihilism in which case we reject it because in the rules it was stated that, "We should rationally accept an argument as sound if the affirmation of its premises is more plausible than the negation" and epistemic nihilism makes it impossible to weigh arguments. That would make it impossible to determine a winner. Even if we accepted epistemic nihilism, however, we could still use this debate as a thought experiment within our skeptical world and assume that knowledge can be obtained for the sake of the debate.

Roy's next rebuttal of modal logic is the claim of incredulity, which leads me to my:

The Principle of Sufficient Reason

Rebuttal to: How does Pro know that an event cannot occur without a cause?

There really ought not be any discussion on the PSR given that my second argument for the PSR has gone unrefuted and is a stroger logical formulation of the first argument. This means that if the second argument, The Explanation of Negative States of Affairs, is true, the first must be true as its conclusions are logically included within the second. Roy's only discussion of my second argument is that, "The argument is then that the person so asserting has accepted the PSR. So what? How does that apply the LCA? Specifically, when Hawking claims that time may be finite and unbounded, or that the universe may have created itself, how is he accepting the PSR?" Let's take this in two parts. First of all, I have already shown that the PSR contradicts Roy's argument for natural creatio ex nihilo. For example, let's assume for a moment that Roy's quantum fluctuations were supposedly uncaused. According to Roy, my argument posits that "if a dog did not bark, it must be for the lack of a reason." The corollary would then be, if a dod did bark, it must be for a reason. Now let's apply this to quantum fluctuations. If a quantum fluctuation did not occur, it must be for the lack of a reason. If a quantum fluctation did occur, it must be for a reason. This very easily applies to quantum fluctions because we can ask, "if quantum fluctuations occur sometimes without cause, why do they occur all the time without cause?" Because quantum fluctuations occur sometimes, and not other times, they must have a reason to occur at the times in which they do, and the times in which they do not occur can be explained by the lack of a reason. We may not know what this cause is, but there must be a cause.

Furthermore, let us exam quantum fluctuations from an ontological perspective for a moment. All beings exist either contingently or necessarily. This does not seem to be something that can be disagreed with. Either they exist contingently and their existence can be explained by an external cause, or they exist necessarily and theri existence is explained by their own nature. For Roy to prove that quantum fluctuations are uncaused he would have to prove that they exist necessarily. If quantum fluctions exist necessarily, they exist in all possible worlds. This again begs the question, "if a quantum fluctuation could not have failed to exist, why do quantum fluctuations only happen at some times, but not others?" Roy cannot argue for a probabilistic occurance of quantum fluctuations because the very nature of probability assumes causation, for there would have to be a reason why sometimes the event occurs and sometimes it fails to occur. Probabilistic arguments from the contingency of quantum fluctuations.

Do not let Roy argue that I in any way must prove my first argument for the PSR true. He conceded the second argument in both rounds 1 and 2, even though I explained that the second argument is logically stronger than the first, and logically inclusive of the first, in both rounds. The rules state that, "No new arguments should be presented in round 3 unless in direct response to a new argument presented in round 2." The logical ordering of the two arguments has been present since round 1. Letting him make this objection in round 3 denies me the chance to refute it, challenging the integrity of the debate.

Do not let Roy expand on the claim that I did not sufficiently apply the second argument for the PSR to the LCA. Not only did I apply the PSR to the LCA directly in rounds 1 and 2, but Roy had the opportunity in round 1 to question the link between the second argument and the LCA and chose not to bring it up. As a result, I was forced to provide the link in round 3 as a response to his round 2 objection. The rules allow for this.

Do not let Roy refute the second argument for the PSR in any way in round 3. He has conceded it for two straight rounds, and I cannot refute his round 3 arguments. The second argument was not introduced as a new argument in round 2, it was introduced in round 1.

Premise 2

Rebuttal to: How does Pro know that in every sequence of events there must be a first cause?

Roy's only new argument here is a re-formulation of Hawking's argument. Hawkin's argument as stated by Roy's source is that time exists both horizontally, real time as we perceive it, and vertically, imaginary time. The universe exists within real time, and has a definitive beginning. In fact, Hawking says himself in Roy's source, "The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed forever." Therefore there is a specific first-cause of the universe, which Hawking calls, again in Roy's source, "The beginning of real time ... a singularity." Do not let Roy suddenly lie about the implications of Hawking's lecture as a last-resort argument.

Rebuttal to: God in the LCA

This is my second premise argument from round one. Necessary, natural first causes are impossible due to their inability to create themselves as confined by the laws of physics. This argument went unrefuted aside from the quantum fluctuations argument which has already been addressed. Therefore the first cause must be non-natural. Anything abstract or mindless is causally impotent, therefore the first cause must be personal. Roy did not refute this directly in round 1, do not let him provide a new argument in the next round. His only leg in the debate is quantum fluctuations, which have been addressed.

Rebuttal to: Perhaps the answer is unknowable to us

Again, this only concludes in epistemic nihilism. Either the debate is unresolvable, or we treat it as a thought experiment and accept that answers are knowable - the purpose of a debate.

Premise 3

Conceded.
RoyLatham

Con

Thanks to Pro for the opportunity to discuss the clash between abstract reasoning from everyday experience with the seemingly impossible realities exposed by modern physics.

The Principle of Sufficient Reason

Pro summarized the KCA by quoting Reichenbach, "the necessary being cannot provide a natural explanation for [the universe], for we know of no natural, non-contingent causes and laws or principles from which the existence of the universe follows." That's exactly how an argument from incredulity is constructed: We don't know of it, and cannot imagine it, therefore it cannot be." We have the direct statement of Hawking, a renowned cosmologist, that it can be imagined. Hawking says that in fact "the universe created itself." The mechanism by which the universe created itself is far outside our everyday experience, upon which Pro critically relies. It involves a space having ten physical dimensions and, in Hawking's formulation, two time dimensions.

In case we missed it, Pro repeats the point in his summary: "Necessary, natural first causes are impossible due to their inability to create themselves as confined by the laws of physics." So we have Hawking, and virtually every physicist in the field of cosmology, saying that natural laws do in fact permit self-creation, while Pro and others who affirm the LCA claim they know way more about what natural law permits.

Pro argues that "All evidence gathered by our sense perception seems to support the universal and undeniable affirmation of this principle." He calls upon incredulity. I do not understand why Pro thinks the negative argument is more powerful, or in fact any different from the positive argument. The negative argument is that if something does not happen, there must be a causal explanation as to why it does not happen. But if an event A can occur without explanation, then A not happening can also occur without explanation.

How does Pro know that in every sequence of events there must be a first cause?

I asked Pro directly in R2, and he responded by quoting Hawking, but we know Hawking believes the universe created itself. The whole LCA is based upon the necessity of god to escape the causal chain.

Pro misunderstood Hawking, and I previously explained the nature of his misunderstanding. Pro correctly quotes Hawking as saying the universe has existed for a finite time. I quoted Hawking to that as well. Hawking says that our universe began with the Big Bang, however, "begins" in Hawking's concept only refers to one of the dimensions of time. In R3 I gave Hawking's analogy to how something can be finite but not have a beginning. The analogy was to the spherical earth. If a person did not know the earth was round, they might look at maps and conclude that everything has a boundary. A person might wax philosophical and argue that either the earth is infinite in extent or has boundaries. The philosophical flat earther could proceed to arguing that it couldn't be infinite, so it must, of logical necessity, have boundaries. Revealing that the earth is round resolves the problem by explaining why the choice was false. The earth is finite, yet the surface has no edges.

Pro simply reasserts his premise that uncaused events cannot occur. He incorrectly claimed that my only argument was to cite quantum fluctuation. No, my argument began with the general observation was that physics has established as fact many things that seem impossible. It seems like a logic impossibility that an object cannot exceed the speed of light, but it turns out that the logic that argues it impossible is wrong. I noted that if new universes are spontaneously created every trillion years or in other dimensions, we wouldn't be aware of it.

It is possible that quantum fluctuations have a hidden cause, but the important point is that scientists fully accept that they might be spontaneous. Thus the idea that uncaused events are logical impossible is false; we have an example in which events could be uncaused without creating any contradiction or inconsistency in our observation of the world.

I also gave the example of new vacuum energy apparently being created spontaneously from truly “nothing,” not even a quantum field. Again, perhaps there is an unknown cause, but it is possible that there is not, and scientists accept that possibility.

Pro argues that a pre-condition is assumed, even if not a cause. Preconditions occur in time, and if time is finite there is no place before time.

How does the LCA claim to prove a personal god?

Pro began by asserting the ontological argument, saying "It is in the very nature of God that he essentially possess all compossible perfections. Necessary existence is in itself a perfection, and thus God must possess it. That is to say that the very nature of God necessarily explains his existence." When I challenged the ontological argument, he backed off of that and asserted that the God being proved had no attribute other than being a fist cause.

The LCA argues that since all the things we see are contingent, there must be one thing that is not contingent. The argument is that all natural laws are contingent, then there must be a god acting without contingency. I asked why the one non-contingent thing ought to be called a “god” or more particularly a “personal god.” The LCA can be construed to prove that there one non-contingent natural law. Pro's only response was repeating the argument from incredulity, that natural laws must have contingency. Scientists don't believe that, but putting that part of the argument aside, where did the “personal” part of the proof come from? Pro did not explain. The LCA is claimed to prove not just any god, but a personal god. I pointed out that the best the LCA could do is prove a god indistinguishable from a non-contingent natural law.

Perhaps the answer is unknowable to us

Pro concedes that perhaps the answer to the creation of the universe is unknowable. Pro says, “Either the debate is unresolvable, or we treat it as a thought experiment and accept that answers are knowable - the purpose of a debate.” No, in a debate the instigator and proponent has the burden to prove the resolution is true. If it is impossible to prove true, then Pro loses the debate. In a jury trial, if the prosecutor cannot prove guilt, then he loses. The explanations offered by cosmologists for the creation of the universe are way beyond the bounds of human experience. If they can be understood at all, it is only by analogy with things we can experience. Perhaps it cannot be understood at all.

I did not argue that general things were unknowable, but rather that the problem of the existence of the universe might be beyond human understanding. I cited the problem of subjective consciousness as possibly being beyond our understanding. Many things are knowable, but perhaps conceiving ten physical dimensions, two time dimensions, and who-knows-what-else is beyond humble humans.

Pro's conceding the possibility that the resolution is unprovable concedes the debate. Meeting the burden of proof requires positive proof.

Conduct

In R3, Pro accused me of lying. He said, “Do not let Roy lie...” with the clear implication. That violates the site rule against insulting another member, and is a conduct violation in the debate. Pro can say I argued wrongly, but I didn't lie and Pro is responsible for saying I did.

The Debate

Pro offered no proof that everything that exists is contingent. It's a pure argument from incredulity. Scientists do not accept it as necessary.

Pro did not prove why the god he claims to be proved has any aspect of being a “personal god.” If proved, the god could as well has been called the one non-contingent natural event.

Pro accepts the possibility that the resolution is unprovable. Therefore he cannot claim to have met the burden of proof.

Debate Round No. 3
30 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by makhdoom5 4 years ago
makhdoom5
i am not atheist who disrespect on TV religious peoples.
i am saying the truth.
he is still a man a good man. and a lesson for others. to keep going.
i am not insulting him.
insulting handicapped man is my own insult.
Posted by TUF 4 years ago
TUF
Post this on my profile please I will try to vote tomorrow
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
The failure of the cosmological argument does not disprove the existence God. It allows that God may act through natural law. Insulting Hawking doesn't' help your case.
Posted by makhdoom5 4 years ago
makhdoom5
well hawkin can say that coz the person who lived his most life on wheel chair can say that, there is no GOD.
but what about others who are blessed.
and are still gets blessing.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
No, I didn't concede that natural causes cannot be self explanatory. My quote from Hawking saying the universe created itself makes that clear.
Posted by Lucky_Luciano 4 years ago
Lucky_Luciano
Yes, but your original argument was, "Non-personal objects cause things all the time. Forest fires cause the death of chipmunks. Earthquakes cause the earth to move. The claim is that there must be a first cause and that first causes cannot be natural. That's entirely a generalization from everyday experience, not a logical deduction." By conceding that natural causes cannot be self-explanatory, you concede that it is not a generalization that first causes cannot be natural, even under Einstein's theory of time that you proposed.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
"The argument is that while natural causes can explain other natural causes, they cannot be self-explanatory, therefore all natural causes must be contingent."

How does that differ from what I said? It says that there must be a non-contingent first cause that is magical, because natural causes must be contingent, right?
Posted by Lucky_Luciano 4 years ago
Lucky_Luciano
No, you created a strawman to make it seem like we agree that natural causes can be explained by other natural causes, and that is the extent of the discussion. This is all you have done in the debate, create strawmen. The argument is that while natural causes can explain other natural causes, they cannot be self-explanatory, therefore all natural causes must be contingent.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
"Forest fires may cause the chipmunks to die, whatever, but forest fires are caused by another *different* natural happening. Forest fires are not explained by forest fires indefinitely."

That's agreeing with what I said. The forest fire and whatever preceded it are natural causes. The only disagreement is whether the first cause can be natural, or whether it must be magical.
Posted by Bullish 4 years ago
Bullish
I see no straw man. Con matter-of-factly spoke of Pro's claim.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Bullish 4 years ago
Bullish
Lucky_LucianoRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RDF in comments.
Vote Placed by drafterman 4 years ago
drafterman
Lucky_LucianoRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: I lost my full RFD. Regardless, I think Lucky was more able to support and defend his arguments, mainly by keeping the focus on the initial points raised.
Vote Placed by WilliamofOckham 4 years ago
WilliamofOckham
Lucky_LucianoRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Please see the comments for my justification.
Vote Placed by Skeptikitten 4 years ago
Skeptikitten
Lucky_LucianoRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct violation in calling Con a liar. Credible source material provided by Con.
Vote Placed by medv4380 4 years ago
medv4380
Lucky_LucianoRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:43 
Reasons for voting decision: Con gets conduct because of Pro's repeated accusations of a Straw-man, and accusing Con of lying. Pro even acknowledge that part of the reason for the straw-man was because of pro's inappropriate use of "perfect". Spelling goes to Pro because of con's "we an always go faster". Sources go to Con because of the quality of Con's sources, and because Pro relied too heavily on a few sources. I also don't like the tinyurl thing. DDO already tightens them up for you, and I have no idea before clicking if it's a malicious URL or not. Please use more direct links. I'm going to vote pro because of an argument Con presented. "Only a natural law that Pro calls God". This is usually why it's a stalemate, but I felt pro needed to better justify his position once it was presented this way otherwise it would have been tied. It came accost as almost an admission of pros argument.
Vote Placed by larztheloser 4 years ago
larztheloser
Lucky_LucianoRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: See comments.