The finitude of the past of the universe does not necessitate that the universe came into being
Many people believe that if the universe has a finite past, that that means it must have came into being. However, I believe this is a mistake. The burden of proof will be shared... I will argue that even if the universe has a finite past, that doesn't mean it came into being. My opponent will argue that the finitude of the past does necessitate that it came into being. The first round is just for acceptance...
I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate. This is an interesting topic because most people believe it is just a given that if something has a finite past; it came into being. However, I am hoping to put an end to this common misconception (especially with regards to the universe). It could very well be true that the universe did come into being, but the finitude of the past of the universe is not enough to establish this conclusion.
Assuming The A-Theory Of Time
If something comes into being, then this entails that prior to the first state of that thing existing, that thing was out of being. This seems like a self-evident truth. For example, we know I came into being because prior to the first state I existed, I was out of being. I existed in 1987, but not in 1986; there is a transition. Basically, what I am saying is that there must be a transition from "out of being", to "in being" for the term "came into being" to have any meaning in context. I will concede that most things that have a finite past do come into being, as there was a point prior to it's first state at which it was out of being. With the universe however, it is self-evidently possible that there is no "prior" to it's first state at all. According to our best science, the universe is around 13. 7 billion years old. This entails that 13.7 billion years ago was the universe's first state (whether it be a singularity at t=0, or something else). What if there was no "prior" to the first state of the universe all that time ago? Then there could be no "prior" to the first state of the universe at which the universe did not exist, meaning that we cannot say it came into being if that was the case; that would be a harsh misnomer. It seems at least possible that there was no "prior" to the first state of the universe 13.7 billion years ago, at which there was no universe (whether a temporally prior, or an atemporally prior). It is possible that "the buck stops" as they say, at the first state of the universe. It would then not make sense to ask whether there was nothing or something prior to the universe, as that question would assume there was a "prior" to the universe in the first place.
In the diagram below, I will use "e" to describe the universe. (i) shows a universe with a finite past that comes into being (as there is a "prior" to it at which the universe is out of being), and (ii) shows a universe with a finite past that doesn't come into being (as there is no "prior" to it at which the universe is out of being).
Since both are metaphysically conceivable scenarios, then it cannot be true that (i) is necessary assuming a finite past of the universe. However. (i) has to be necessary assuming a finite past in order for Con to win this debate; thus I have established the resolution assuming the A-Theory of time.
Assuming The B-Theory of Time
If the B-Theory Of Time is true, then nothing at all comes into being (and this holds even if the universe as a finite past). This is because The Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago would just represent the edge of a 4d or n+1d space-time block that exists tenselessly eternally. If it exists eternally, then it self-evidently cannot come into being. As Christian Philosopher William Lane Craig states:
"From start to finish, the Kalam Cosmological Argument is predicated upon the A-Theory of time. On a B-Theory of time, the universe does not in fact come into being or become actual at the Big Bang; it just exists tenselessly as a four-dimensional space-time block that is finitely extended in the earlier than direction. If time is tenseless, then the universe never really comes into being, and, therefore, the quest for a cause of its coming into being is misconceived." - William Lane Craig
This is not even controversial. If the B-Theory of time is true, then the universe did not come into being even if it has a finite past. To make this easier to conceptualize, William Lane Craig uses the analogy of a yard stick to show that a finite past of the universe (which extends back 13.7 billion years ago) doesn't necessitate that it came into being 13.7 billion years ago assuming B-Theory.
"On the B-Theory of time, nothing really comes into existence. The universe 'begins to exist' on the B-Theory only in the sense that a yard stick begins to exist at the first inch; it just has an edge... The yard stick doesn't come into existence at the first inch." - William Lane Craig
I have proven that a finite past of the universe doesn't automatically mean that the universe came into being. Why? Well, it is possible that there is no "prior" to the first state of the universe 13.7 billion years ago. If there was no "prior" to the universe 13.7 billion years ago, then the universe did not come into being, even with a finite past, as there was no "prior" to the first state of the universe at which it did not exist. Another reason that a finite past of the universe doesn't necessarily entail that the universe came into being is that the B-Theory of time could be true. If this theory is true, then time is tenseless; and nothing comes into being. This holds whether or not the universe has a finite past or not.
I confess to having not sufficiently studied the theories of time before; I was aware of the two main theories in summary form, but not in the detail that I went into this evening. It has been interesting, but left me with little room to debate.
A - theory can be argued to require an indefinite period of time before any "first event."
B - theory cannot, as all events are atemporally present. It does not even necessarily require the universe to have "begun," as the sort of closed manifold involved can be said to have no "outside," and therefore no superior framwork of events to give the term "begun" any sort of meaning.
In short, I find I cannot meet my BOP in this debate; I apologize for wasting my opponent's time and that of anyone who reads this.
I urge a Pro vote.
Thank you for the honorable concession... Moving along.
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