The Instigator
Rational_Thinker9119
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
yoda878
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

The universe does not necessarily require a cause

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Rational_Thinker9119
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/17/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,134 times Debate No: 23651
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (4)

 

Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Now, I'm not going to be arguing that it's necessary that the universe was uncaused, just that it's not necessary that the universe was caused.

First round for acceptance.
yoda878

Con

I will await your case, thank you for making the debate.
Debate Round No. 1
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro


I would like to thank my opponent, for accepting this debate.
There are many reasons why I believe assuming a cause of the universe, is extremely speculative and 
infer many potential logical contradictions within the assumption itself. First you must ask yourself, what
is causation?


Causation


What is Causation?


Well, it seems that causation is a word we use to describe and explain an effect that applies to movement
of parts within the universe through time. I mean, if a mountain formed, then it had a cause which
occurred earlier in time (the Earth's plates pressing against each other causing the land to lift and fold over
on itself). Another example, would be a ripple in a pond, someone may ask what caused that ripple?
Maybe we wouldn't know, but our intuition would definitely let us know that it was the consequence of
something which occurred earlier.

Premise 1 of The Kalam Cosmological Argument


There is an argument called the Kalam Cosmological Argument which tries to make the bold and baseless
assertion, that "everything that begins to exist has a cause". Of course, it's not hard to see the errors in
this premise, and it's implications.


"Begins to exist"


First of all, what does it really mean to "begin to exist"? Someone may say their car was "made",
"created", or even "formed" in factory A, but I doubt they actually implied that that their car completely
"began to exist" in Factory A. The I mean, all the rubber, steel, metal ect. existed earlier, and all that really
happened was matter got rearranged and changed it's form within a flow of time. It seems that at the very
least,there is some confusion on what it truly means to "begin to exist", and if it can truly be used to
describe something other than the universe coming into being ex nihilo.


"Everything..."


Some people may say that they don't need to be omniscient to know that everything that "begins to exist"
must have a cause, they know this on a priori grounds. Some may even say, the premise itself is self-
evident. Well, this is false, and there are many philosophers who disagree with the idea that the premise
is self-evident as well:


"Let's consider the first premise of the argument, that whatever has a beginning to its existence must
have a cause. What reason is there to believe this causal principle is true? It's not self-evident; something
is self-evident if and only if everyone who understands it automatically believes it. But many people,
including leading Theists such as Richard Swinburne, understand this principle very well but think it is
false. Many philosophers, scientists, and indeed the majority of graduate and undergraduate students I've
had in my classes think this principle is false. This principle is not self-evident, nor can this principle be
deduced from any self-evident proposition." - Quentin Smith (American contemporary philosopher,
scholar and professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan.)[1]


Uncaused events


1) Radioactive atom decay


Radioactive decay is the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by
emitting ionizing particles. The emission is spontaneous, in that the atom decays without any interaction
with another particle from outside of the atom.[2]

2) Scale-free density perturbations


Spontaneous creation of almost scale-free density perturbations in an inflationary universe occur. [3]


Spon·ta·ne·ous

Adjective:

Performed or occurring without premeditation or external stimulus.[4]


Now, I'm sure that people will agree that if the universe requires a cause, it is from the "outside" or it is
"external" to the universe itself. However, we know of many events at the sub-atomic level that operate
without the assumption of causation, and are uncaused (without a trigger, or a reason why it happened at
a certain time, or appeared at a certain location).

"Quantum events have a way of just happening, without any cause, as when a radioactive atom decays
at a random time. Even the quantum vacuum is not an inert void, but is boiling with quantum
fluctuations.
In our macroscopic world, we are used to energy conservation, but in the quantum realm
this holds only
on average." - Taner Edis. Department of Physics Truman State University Kirksville [5]


The Big Bang


The Big Bang Theory describes the early development of the universe, from a singularity to the inflating
and expanding universe you see today. Does it describe creatio ex nihilo? Not at all, there is nothing
within The Big Bang Theory which indicates:


(i) The singularity popped into existence from absolute nothingness, and then, the singularity expanded


But rather:


(ii) The singularity expanded


Maybe, in order for the singularity to have popped into existed from absolutely nothing, it must have had
time to do so. However, for as long as the universe has existed, space-time has too according to the
general consensus in modern cosmology. There simply is no earlier to the Planck Epoch (zero - 10-43
seconds), which is the earliest state of the universe. Since something seems to be caused if it is a
consequence of that which occurred earlier, and there is no earlier to The Big Bang, then how could one
boldly assume a cause of The Big Bang is necessary?


Perhaps on the other hand, Alexander Vile kin’s model of cosmic origins [6] is correct (a model which
infers the universe arising from a timeless empty geometry). This model describes the universe emerging
from a quantum tunneling event (uncaused) with a finite size (a = H-1) and with a zero rate of expansion
or contraction (da/dt = 0). It's plausible that the universe emerged in a symmetric vacuum state, which
then decayed with the inflationary era beginning; and after this era ended, the universe evolveed according
to the standard Big Bang model.

Either way, some may infer some of type of simultaneous causation to combat my argument. So below,
I will address this.


Simultaneous Causation


William Lane Craig tries to address arguments like mine, by appealing to simultaneous causation:


"For example, a heavy chandelier hanging on a chain from the ceiling. The ceiling and chain hold up the
chandelier; the chandelier and chain don't support the ceiling... They[Atheists] might say that even
simultaneous causation presupposes time. Yes, the cause and effect occur at the same time. But then
why couldn't such a causal dependency exist timelessly?" - William Lane Craig [7]

The problem is that for simultaneous causation to have occurred, the causal dependency must have involved the "beginning of the existence" (assuming this line of wording is correct) of the chandelier, chain, and ceiling which occurred temporally prior to the effect in question. Also, other conditions which existed earlier to this simultaneous causation must have existed before the effect as well, thus, even simultaneous causation, assuming I accept simultaneous causation for the sake of argument, can only occur if it is the result of that which occurred earlier. So it appears that even the idea of a timeless causal dependency which causes it's effect in time, may not make much sense because even causal dependency presupposes a temporal duration in the past.
Conclusion:

There are good reasons to believe causation is spatio-temporal (or at least, requires space-time to exist),
and good reasons to think causation only applies at the macroscopic level within the universe. Thus,
there are no good reasons to think that a causal dependency can exist independently of the universe, or
to think the idea is even logical for that matter.
Sources:
yoda878

Con

Pro asked
First of all, what does it really mean to "begin to exist"?

The material cause is the physical matter, the mass of "raw material" of which something is "made" (of which it consists).
The formal cause tells us what, by analogy to the plans of an artisan, a thing is intended and planned to be.
The efficient cause is that external entity from which the change or the ending of the change first starts.
The final cause is that for the sake of which a thing exists, or is done - including both purposeful and instrumental actions. The final cause, or telos, is the purpose, or end, that something is supposed to serve.
Additionally, things can be causes of one another, reciprocally causing each other, as hard work causes fitness, and vice versa - although not in the same way or by means of the same function: the one is as the beginning of change, the other is as its goal. (Thus Aristotle first suggested a reciprocal or circular causality - as a relation of mutual dependence, action, or influence of cause and effect.) Also; Aristotle indicated that the same thing can be the cause of contrary effects - as its presence and absence may result in different outcomes. In speaking thus he formulated what currently is ordinarily termed a "causal factor," e.g., atmospheric pressure as it affects chemical or physical reactions.

It is very necessary that the universe requires a cause, because with in the universe time is working. With time you have to have a cause of the existence.
Let me explain-
Physics, Einstein and scientists around the world have concluded that we live in a space-time continuum.
11. There can be no cause and effect unless there is time.
12. The universe has a cause.
13. Therefore the universe has a beginning in time.
14. The universe cannot have a beginning in its own time dimension.
15. Therefore the universe has a beginning in a time dimension independent of and preexistent to its own time dimension.

unless you can deny the universe of time you cant deny a cause.

Where there is time there has to be a cause that is a physic law.
In common usage, causality is also the relationship between a set of factors (causes) and a phenomenon (the effect). Anything that affects an effect is a factor of that effect. A direct factor is a factor that affects an effect directly, that is, without any intervening factors. (Intervening factors are sometimes called "intermediate factors".) The connection between a cause(s) and an effect in this way can also be referred to as a causal nexus.

It is important to understand this - In the world of sensible things; we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known ... in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of it; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go to infinity, because . . . the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause.... Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect.

We may not know the cause but we know the first cause necessarily had to happen we are here, is here so there was a cause. Otherwise if there was not a cause there is not you, there is nothing. To take the cause away is just silly. But it would be nice a pleasant to think.
Everything that we experience has countless factors that have contributed to its potential right now. But before that, beyond that which holds up our entire universe as we know it in our mind, is the supreme or ultimate reality.

http://www.c4id.org.uk...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://science.howstuffworks.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Aristotle's "four causes"

I am completely aware of Aristotle's "four causes", however I was referring to causation that is strictly independent of human brains (objective causation that we observe, that would be true even if we didn't observe them). "Hard work causes fitness" is still a physical causation anyway, because there are differences between the biology of a fit person (a hard working person), and unfit, lazy person (which would be a change form, or rearrangement of matter as I already alluded to).


To elaborate:

(i) The Material cause falls in line with my argument

(ii) The formal cause infers an intention or planning, but this wouldn't be possible without humans brains, which carry the capacity to plan

(iii) The Efficient cause falls in line with my argument

(iv) The Final Cause infers a final purpose, but this is subjective, and thus, requires a human mind (and thus, a human brain).

The Necessity of a Cause, and Time:

Con claims that it is very necessary that the universe requires a cause, because with in the universe time is working (and with time you have to have a cause of the existence). However, this is a logical contradiction, because there cannot be a cause of time, if time is required for causation to exist in the first place. So it's safe to say, that the argument presented by my opponent is not very coherent to say the least.

I will break down my opponent's syllogism, to demonstrate my point further.

P1: "11. There can be no cause and effect unless there is time."

This is most likely correct, however, this destroys your entire case. You are arguing for the existence of a timeless cause, but this cannot be true by your own premise here. If there can be no cause without time, then there can be no timeless cause of any kind (which falls in line with my argument).

P2: "12. The universe has a cause"

This is a contradiction to your first premise. If causation can only exist if time exists, then there can be no cause independent of time, and the cause of the universe (which would have to to be the cause of time) would be most likely independent of time. Thus, your entire argument fails miserably.

If time is required for causation, then one could look at the universe as:

(i) The set which contains all things which have causes

Of course, there cannot be a cause, of the set which contains all things which have causes. This just brings us to Russell's Paradox (which shows the absurdities of including a set as part of itself).

"Unless you can deny the universe of time you cant deny a cause." - yoda878

This is clearly not the case, as I have demonstrated.


"Where there is time there has to be a cause that is a physic law." -yoda878

This is clearly false. I even posted a quote from a Physicist speaking about uncaused events in physics in my last round, so it's clear my opponent does not plan on engaging much of what I had to say in the last round. Just because time is needed for causation, that doesn't mean that uncaused events cannot happen in time. This is a clear non-sequitur.

"We may not know the cause but we know the first cause necessarily had to happen we are here, is here so there was a cause. Otherwise if there was not a cause there is not you, there is nothing. To take the cause away is just silly. But it would be nice a pleasant to think." - yoda878

Actually, you admitted inadvertently, that the universe could have no cause. If time is required for cause and effect relation ships, then there could be no relationship between a timeless cause and an effect in time (this would be contradictory to the first premise of your syllogism).


It seems (with all due respect), that your entire rebuttal was an utter failure. you failed to address my "untriggered events" point from Quantum Mechanics and my "earlier in time" argument.

So, due to the fact that your response was self-defeating and you dodged many of my contentions, it's safe to say that your refutation can be dismissed.

Continuing My Case: David Hume's Definition of Causation

"Contiguity in time and place is therefore a requisite circumstance to the operation of all causes...Priority in time is...another requisite circumstance in every case.... third circumstance [is] that of constant conjunction betwixt the cause and the effect. Every object like the cause produces always some object like the effect. Beyond these three circumstances of contiguity, priority, and constant conjunction I can discover nothing in this cause." - David Hume [1]


However, a cause of time would be timeless. This definitely does not fall in line with Hume's definition of causation (which is the most famous and influential definition of a cause).

Continuing My Case: When could an event, logically be considered an event with a cause?

I would personally argue:



P1: x has a cause, if x is a consequence of that which occurs earlier to x

P2: There was no earlier to The Big Bang, the Planck Epoch (0 to 10−43 seconds) was the earliest period

P3: The universe could not have been a consequence of that which occurred earlier to the universe

C: The universe is not something which had a cause

Remember, even simultaneous causation should still have causal dependencies which must be in place
temporally prior to the "simultaneous causation"in question. Thus, even if I accepted simultaneous
causation, it would in no way jeopardize the first premise.

Conclusion:

1.
My opponent's refutations were self-defeating, and she didn't even address many
of my main points

2. I logically demonstrated, that it's not necessary for the universe to have been caused.


Source(s):

[1] http://www.infidels.org...
yoda878

Con

You were arguing me a few weeks ago on time and no time and cause and effect and thought I had a gottcha… Looks like you have changed your views. So I'm ganna have to do the best I can with this.

Pro says-
P1: "11. There can be no cause and effect unless there is time."

This is most likely correct; however, this destroys your entire case. You are arguing for the existence of a timeless cause, but this cannot be true by your own premise here. If there can be no cause without time, then there can be no timeless cause of any kind (which falls in line with my argument).
Very good observation now let me copy and paste from my first argument.
11. There can be no cause and effect unless there is time.
12. The universe has a cause.
13. Therefore the universe has a beginning in time.
14. The universe cannot have a beginning in its own time dimension.
15. Therefore the universe has a beginning in a time dimension independent of and preexistent to its own time dimension.

Pro says-
This is clearly false. I even posted a quote from a Physicist speaking about uncaused events in physics in my last round, so it's clear my opponent does not plan on engaging much of what I had to say in the last round. Just because time is needed for causation, that doesn't mean that uncaused events cannot happen in time. This is a clear non-sequitur.
Here is the Quote-
"Quantum events have a way of just happening, without any cause, as when a radioactive atom decays
at a random time. Even the quantum vacuum is not an inert void, but is boiling with quantum
fluctuations."
Adams are timeless, that exist in time, so this does not change that there was a begging of time.
Debate Round No. 3
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro



Refutting My Opponent:


My opponent didn't really make much an argument in her last round, she just basically copy and pasted parts of my rounds, then asserted that atoms are timeless. Lets say we go with the theory that atoms (what matter is made of) are timeless, wouldn't this mean that they wouldn't need to have a cause because beginnings only have meanings to beings in time? Oh ya, that's right, you asserted that atoms are timeless in time, which I'm not sure makes much sense in the context the Theists use to describe the "cause of the universe" as timeless. Since this wasn't really defended, and Con didn't tie this in with this hypothetical necessity for a cause of the universe, it can be dismissed.

Continuing My Case:

Claiming that "something couldn't come from nothing" may be illogical.

Wes Morriston (Prof. of Philosophy at the University of Colorado) has pointed out that "something
couldn't come from nothing" (this referring to absolute nothingness) is ascribing a conditional power
to “nothing.” Saying that something couldn't come from nothing, would be to imply that nothing has the
property of "prevention power" (the power to prevent something from coming from it). However,
"nothing" should have no properties, including the power to prevent something from coming from it.

To say "something couldn't come from nothing" is to say that "nothing" prevents the existence of
something. The problem is, that it is difficult to say why nothing would have such a conditional power.
Surely it makes more sense to say that nothing has no powers at all, including the power to prevent
something. [1]

Many Physicists (such as Victor Stenger) have claimed that what we would think of as "nothing" (no
mass, no energy, no space, no time, no spin, no bosons, no fermions-nothing) would theoretically be
unstable (this is not to be confused with "absolute nothingness"). Simpler systems spontaneously give
rise to complex systems in nature, and "nothing" is assimple as it gets. [2]

You could never continue to have "nothing" in this context.


In some models of the origin of the universe, the vacuum undergoes phase transition to something more
complicated in nature, like a universe containing matter. The transition from what we would call nothing
to something, would need no external cause.

As Nobel Laureate physicist Frank Wilczek has put it, “The answer to the ancient question ‘Why is there
something rather than nothing?’ would then be that ‘nothing’ is unstable.” [2]



Now, simple systems are unstable and spontaneously form into more complex ones, and this is what we
see in nature. The least complex system we could possible imagine is "nothing" (even calling it a system
makes it not "nothing" anymore, this is how unstable it is). Theoretical models such as the inflationary
model of the early universe bear this out. Many simple systems are unstable in nature, that is, have limited
lifetimes as they undergo spontaneous phase transitions to more complex structures of lower energy (like
what we see with snowflakes). Since “nothing” is as simple as it gets, we would not expect it to be
completely stable. In some models of the origin of the universe, the vacuum undergoes a spontaneous
phase transition to something more complicated, like a universe containing matter. The transition from
what we would call "nothing" (even if it is not, "absolutely nothingness" to something), requires no
external agent or cause.
Basically, for as long as the universe has, time has, so there has never been a time when there was nothing (this would be impossible). However, to claim that something couldn't come from nothing is still unfounded.

Because of the arguments presented in the previous rounds, and this one to put the cherry on top, I think I have met my burden of proof.

Conclusion:

None of my arguments were logically refuted, my opponent contradicted herself, and she does not have the upperhand in this debate. I provided logical arguments addressing why the universe does not necessarily require a cause, and have the upper hand in this debate.


Sources:

[1] http://commonsenseatheism.com...
[2] http://www.csicop.org...;
yoda878

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for his research and devotion to this topic.
Pro said- Oh ya, that's right, you asserted that atoms are timeless in time, which I'm not sure makes much sense in the context the Theists use to describe the "cause of the universe" as timeless.
I wasn't arguing God.
But I can -
Closing arguments-

But let me ask you, you say that things can just begin to exist? No cause at all?
They just out of nowhere are here? Nothing caused everything we have?
If nothing caused the universe then where did all the stuff come from?
If you asked me, this shows and proves creation. Things that just begin to exist would prove Creation. Scientist have longed to prove that everything has a cause and the cause was not God. The only way they could prove this is that everything that is here had a cause.
Let's, just look here and think about this a minute, If the universe didn't have a cause then, you couldn't really argue Creation with high expectation. If things can just begin to exist as would be necessary for no cause. Then you could not necessarily argue Creation. That would still show a cause that God would be the cause.
Now with this, I am not and do not have to prove God, I'm just showing how If there is no cause and things just begin to exist that you can't necessarily rule out Creation.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
It's even possible that we are looking for an answer, that doesn't exist. If there is no "before" The Big Bang, then maybe there is no gap that needs to be filled...I just don't see how we can logically take a concept we only know to apply within the universe (causality) and apply it outside the universe. It just seems like a giant leap of faith, only adhered to by people trying to apply aspects of their spatiotemporal experience, outside of space-time.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
My personal opinion, is that maybe for something to come from nothing, it must have had time to do so. However, for as long as the universe has existed so has time. Thus, there never was a time when there was nothing. If that turns out to be false, maybe the universe and time came from something "like" nothing (that had the potential for the universe), but not absolutely nothing. Until we get a solid theory of Quantum Gravity, we won't know for sure (we may never know for sure).
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
@SuburbiaSurvivor I don't think I said that I agreed that something could come from absolutely nothing (giving "absolutely nothing" production powers doesn't seem very logical). However, it's just as illogical to say that something couldn't come from nothing (giving "nothing" preventative powers doesn't seem very logical either). My whole point is that when it comes to "absolutely nothing", we are at a stale mate, we cannot even logically talk about "absolutely nothing" without it becoming "something" (something we are talking about). The concept of absolutely nothing is very complicated, like the concept of infinity.

However, something could have came from "nothing" (a timeless (not to be confused with absolute nothingness). Of course I don't like the term "nothing" because it implies absolute nothingness (physicists sometimes confuse certain philosophers with this wording as well).

"Why don't we see things popping into existence uncaused all the time?"

It happens at the sub-atomic level, all the time, even if you don't see it. If you disagree that they really "begin to exist", then you must also admit that my point about things never really "beginning to exist" is valid.

"If the casual principle is false..."

The first premise of the KCA is no causal principle, it was created and worded specifically in a way to make God exempt from needing a cause. It's clever tactic, but so are used-car sales man pitches, that doesn't actually mean you are buying into anything worth your time.

I think the conservative position which appeals to parsimony the most, is the position that causality is a spatiotemporal principle and only has meaning if the universe exists and it just describes the movement of things . A cause of the universe is a giant leap of faith, that I'm not bold enough to adhere to.
Posted by SuburbiaSurvivor 4 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
*does exist. Not does existence >.<
Posted by SuburbiaSurvivor 4 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
Rational, I'm curious how you would respond to this:

If something can come into existence from nothing outside of time, then is it not inexplicable why anything and everything can't come into existence from nothing whether in time or outside of time? After all, there's literally no quality about nothing that would cause it to discriminate against things popping into existence uncaused in time or out of time. If the casual principle is false, then why don't we see things popping into existence uncaused all the time? What special quality does nothing somehow possess that causes it to allow things to come into existence without time existing yet not allow things to come into existence uncaused when time does existence?
Posted by yoda878 4 years ago
yoda878
wait did you change the time frame for this debate, I thought it said 6 days??
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
The first paragraph wasn't chopped up like like when I reviewed it, my apologies.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
Rational_Thinker9119yoda878Tied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Countering VB, but Rational was more convincing in his argument. Many contentions went untouched, and in general R_T's argument was better laid out.
Vote Placed by t-man 4 years ago
t-man
Rational_Thinker9119yoda878Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Easy win for Pro
Vote Placed by Mrparkers 4 years ago
Mrparkers
Rational_Thinker9119yoda878Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con, make sure you touch on every one of Pro's contentions. I know it's sometimes hard to keep track of, but make sure you respond to each of them. Good debate
Vote Placed by SuburbiaSurvivor 4 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
Rational_Thinker9119yoda878Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro argued better and many of his contentions went unrefuted. Con, work on developing your arguments better and use more sources.