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The Contender
Pro (for)
6 Points

There Is an External Cause of the Universe

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/30/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,245 times Debate No: 44966
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (82)
Votes (6)




Here's the challenge you requested. If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me about them.

Full Resolution

There is an external cause to the universe.

BoP is on pro.


External Cause: A cause that exists outside of, or transcends the universe.

Universe: The totality of all states of the universe


1. A forfeit or concession is not allowed.
2. No semantics, trolling, or lawyering.
3. All arguments and sources must be visible inside this debate.
4. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed without asking in the comments before you post your round 1 argument. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed in the middle of the debate.

Voters, in the case of the breaking of any of these rules by either debater, all seven points in voting should be given to the other person.

Debate Structure

Round 1: Presentation all arguments by pro
Round 2: Presentation of arguments by con and rebuttal by pro
Round 3: Rebuttal by con and defense of original arguments by pro
Round 4: Defense of original argument by con and a bye round by pro (to make for even rounds; only use one line for your final post)


Thanks to my opponent for the invitation!

(Note to the voter: My arguments will center around logic, not sources. While I will certainly use sources where appropriate, I may find it unnecessary to do so. I'd rather not write in irrelevant sources just to avoid negative votes; so PLEASE do _not_ vote either of us down for sources if they are unimportant in this debate.)

Concerning the definitions, I found the definition of "universe" to be somewhat strange because it includes the word "universe" in the definition itself, but considering rule #2 (no semantics) I think we all know basically what we mean by "universe;" i.e. that thing that we live in and smell, touch, taste, etc.; thus, I'm fairly certain what counts as "the universe" will not be a major issue since we all know basically what is being talked about. My opponent has mentioned in the comments that transcendent causes and God are examples of things external to the universe.

With that I'll move into my primary argument.

I. Infinite Causal Probability

(Plagiarism note: This is a modified argument of my memory of some philosopher who based her/his work off of Hume. I'm afraid I cannot recall the philosopher's name at this time, and preliminary internet browsing has not lead me to the article I read. I am not trying to plagiarize, and I hope to give credit to this person when/if I discover her/his name.)

1. First we must recognize the epistemological possibility that any particular past might not have existed. That is to say, we need to recognize that there is at least one possibility that the entire universe was created 5 minutes ago.

a. One may ask: "But what about my memories of 6 minutes ago? Surly this is impossible." However, one's entire mind might have been created 5 minutes ago equipped with all of one's memories of previous states, including 6 minutes ago. The same analysis may account for all of the previous scientific data, which are based on empiricism. All of the evidence and memories of evidence may have been suddenly caused 5 minutes ago. Certainly the scientists would not be able to distinguish between this 5 minute universe and the 5 billion year universe, so both may be equally-explicable for the evidence.

b. While perhaps this notion is far-fetched, the hypothesis that the universe was created 5 minutes ago is certainly at least a possibility. In fact, the hypothesis that the universe was created 5 minutes ago accounts for all of the same evidence as the null hypothesis (that the universe was _not_ created 5 minutes ago).

c. The possibility of the world being created exactly 5 minutes ago represents one possibility. However, this same analysis may be repeated for all "moments" of time or "instances" of causation. Each particular "moment" or "instance" represents its own, equally-valid possibility. Because there are an infinite number of moments in even a nanosecond, the number of possibilities of creation over billions of years are clearly infinite.

d. In contrast, the hypothesis that the universe was _never_ created (as my opponent's position suggests) represents (optimistically) only 1 possibility. This 1 possibility is not in any way qualitatively superior to these other hypotheses (and in fact might be qualitatively inferior, as I will point out shortly).

e. Thus, there is an infinitely high possibility that the universe was suddenly created, whereas the notion that the universe always existed is one or less.

f. Under the infinite hypothesis, either something caused the universe to exist or nothing caused the universe to exist (despite the fact that it did). If something caused it, this is definitely an external cause. If nothing caused it, or rather Nothing caused it, this Nothingness must also transcend the universe and also must be considered external to the universe, and therefore an external cause.

g. Thus, there is an infinitely strong possibility that "There Is an External Cause of the Universe," while there is at most one possibility of there being no external cause of the universe. The balance of probability is infinitely in the favor of the former. This alone warrants infinitely sufficient proof of the existence of an external cause to the universe.

II: Infinite Regress

a. The notion of there being a non-created infinitely internal universe is far beyond the scope of empiricism (such as science). No matter how far back the evidence goes for the universe, this evidence is not sufficient for an eternal presence. Certainly, physicists may postulate about events long preceding the Big Bang; however, the posit that the universe was always around would need to extend its evidence long before that. In summary, no matter how far back a scientist is able to postulate for the existence of the universe, there is no evidence that the universe is infinitely old.

b. Some physicists may postulate about time in their equations, but their theories can only be applied to the scope of the modern world. While the models themselves may apply to time "infinitely old," there is no possibility to acquire evidence to confirm or deny that time works this way infinitely long ago, for the same analysis as (a).

c. In the absence of empirical evidence, we must take up basic mathematics and logic. Let us pretend, for the sake of illustration, that we are a computer program trying to calculate the possibility of the hypothesis that the universe is infinitely old being true. Start at Time 1: was the universe created or not created? Not created. On to time 2: Was the universe created or not created? Not created. This analysis would go on forever. The possibility of there being an "infinitely old" universe is therefore infinitely small: That is, approaching zero in magnitude.

d. Because there is absolutely no evidence possible for an infinitely old universe, the hypothesis that there is an infinitely small world must be equal to each hypothesis of instant creation. Additionally, because there is literally an infinitely small possibility (for all intents and purposes equal to zero) for there being in infinitely old universe, the hypothesis of there being an infinitely non-created universe must be rejected.

III. "Common Sense"

a. The previous arguments should have been sufficient to prove that the universe has an external cause; however, because my opponent might bring in non-scientific analysis I thought I'd be proactive. Please not that even though I am arguing from the position of "Common Sense," I am not necessarily saying that "common sense" is more important than reason.

b. A universe that creates itself defies all conception. Something creating itself defies both logic and practical reason. For something to be created it must first not exist. For something to create it must first exist. Therefore, something creating itself is illogical and beyond reason. Additionally, it doesn't make sense to most people.

Additionally, please note that a universe creating itself and a universe being created by an external cause are not necessarily mutually-exclusive.

c. Infinite regression defies all conception: One cannot possibly conceive of a universe that has existed for an infinite period. However, the universe being created is easily conceivable.

You might think that infinite regression is also a problem for creation; however, this is not the case. For an external being to cause the universe, its form might transcend the form of the universe, and thus would not be limited to the same rules or same temporal logic as the universe. A God, for example, might reside outside of normal time-space and therefore has always existed. Or, some other unknown possibility might occur for the presence of God. In any case, a human epidemiological limit is understandable in creation; however, it is less understandable in "infinitely old" universe theory. A universe transcending the rules of the universe makes less sense. Additionally, a universe that is "beyond" the universe would be an external cause. Therefore, the only possibility left is a universe that is infinitely old. That is not the case with God, who might have any number of explanations of the creation of the universe and how it fits into temporal-causal understanding.

IV: Ethics/Psychology

I have already demonstrated why it is certainly correct that the universe was caused by something external to it. Now, I will show why it is important to believe this, in case my opponent argues along that route.

a. Psychological benefits

1. Should the universe have been created by an external force, it is not a great leap to suggest that some time and effort was put into its design, especially if the universe was made in the last few seconds. Therefore, this metaphysical perspective opens the door for humans to feel loved. This has been empirically shown to have a plethora of psychological benefits, including longevity [1, 2, 3].

2. Additionally, the model of loving others could foster/model further love a cyclical pattern.

3. People might feel that they are special and important, which might help decrease the risk of depression and suicide [4].

b. Ethics

1. It's true.

2. Humility. Acknowledging that we do not know when the universe was created, or even whether or not it was created seconds ago adds to humanities humility. This would foster the realization that humanity is not superior to nature but part of it. This might help stop their devaluing the non-human experience, which would lead to lower pollution and the more ethical treatment of non-human animals.

3. Responsibility: Since humanity was created, it might help inspire compassionate responsibility in humans who learn this information.

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank kbub for presenting his arguments.

Before I begin, however, I would like to counter my opponent's suggestion that sources not be counted. The arguments I am about to present require a large amount of sources for backup and ideas, and this debate is somewhat of a scientific debate, so sources are not only recommended, but practically required. Sources should mainly be judged on their relevance and credibility, and less on their sheer number.

An External Cause Is Impossible

Quantum superpositions require non-observation to not collapse. Quantum superposition states tha a physical system exists partly in all its particular theoretically possible states (or, configuration of its properties) simultaneously, but when measured or observed, it gives a result corresponding to only one of the possible configurations. This makes an external cause impossible because of the following argument:

P1: An external cause would have an omniscient view of the universe due to its very nature, and thus observes all quantum superpositions.
P2: Observation collapses quantum superpositions.
P3: An all-observing cause would automatically collapse all quantum superpositions. (from 2)
P4: We observe that not all quantum superpositions are collapsed.
C: Therefore, an external cause cannot exist. (from 1, 3 and 4)

Causality Is Not Required

Not everything requires an inherent cause to its existence. Quantum fluctuations are an example of this. During this, a particle and antiparticle exist for a very short time (even shorter than Planck time), and then annihilate with a great release of energy. Because the time of the fluctuation's existence is even shorter than Planck time, it does not technically violate any physical laws because of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. At this, we arrive at a very remarkable conclusion that the quantum vacuum is the source of all potentiality.[1]

This theory isn't as far-fetched as it seems. For example, protons and neutrons, two classes of baryons, particles consisting of three quarks, have a lot of unaccounted-for volume because the mass of those three quarks only adds up to about 1% of the apparent weight of a proton or neutron. "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."[2]

Now that we understand quantum fluctuations and the inherent potentiality in a quantum vacuum, now let's see how this applies to the universe's creation itself. Because space itself was created as the universe expanded, at the instant of creation, there was a singularity - a "point" of infinite density and temperature that held everything the universe now contains, including matter and energy. Because it is an infinite, it is physically impossible to observe, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist (I'll get to more on that later). The black hole is the modern analog to this: "A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not escape. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space." What prevents us from seeing inside is the "event horizon", or the point in space where the space becomes black. This solves two problems - because the force can even pull light in, one time stops, and two, observation is prevented. So essentially, there was no time before the singularity (more on that later as well).[3]

Inside this black hole, quantum fluctuations from energy, which was a net zero (matter is positive energy while that huge gravitational force was negative energy, both of which made the total energy sum to zero), created the universe. The original time constraints are not there anymore because the total energy summed to zero: "[T]he laws of physics place no limit on the scale of vacuum fluctuations. The duration is of course subject to the restriction ΔEΔt = h, but this merely implies that our Universe has zero energy, which has already been made plausible." The first universe epoch was the Planck era - unfortunately, we do not know much about it, but we do think this: "The Universe expands from the moment of the Big Bang, but until the Universe reaches the size of the Planck scale, there is no time or space. Time remains undefined, space is compactified. String theory maintains that the Universe had 10 dimensions during the Planck era, which collapses into 4 at the end of the Planck era (think of those extra 6 dimensions as being very, very small hyperspheres inbetween the space between elementary particles, 4 big dimensions and 6 little tiny ones)."[4][1]

I won't go into much more detail (besides the two quotes below) because I think it's understood that the universe could be created without a cause, because although the Planck time marks the beginning of the universe, the convoluted nature of spacetime in this early phase, with numerous singularities and overlapping event horizons, makes it impossible for matter, photons, or even causality to exist. Matter arises at the end of the spacetime foam epoch as the result of strings, or loops in spacetime. The transformation is from ripping spacetime foam into black holes, which then transmute into elementary particles:

"In general relativity, space-time can be empty of matter or radiation and still contain energy stored in its curvature. Uncaused, random quantum fluctuations in a flat, empty, featureless space-time can produce local regions with positive or negative curvature. This is called the "space-time foam" and the regions are called "bubbles of false vacuum." Wherever the curvature is positive a bubble of false vacuum will, according to Einstein's equations, exponentially inflate. In 10^-42 seconds the bubble will expand to the size of a proton and the energy within will be sufficient to produce all the mass of the universe.

The bubbles start out with no matter, radiation, or force fields and maximum entropy. They contain energy in their curvature, and so are a "false vacuum." As they expand, the energy within increases exponentially. This does not violate energy conservation since the false vacuum has a negative pressure (believe me, this is all follows from the equations that Einstein wrote down in 1916) so the expanding bubble does work on itself.

As the bubble universe expands, a kind of friction occurs in which energy is converted into particles. The temperature then drops and a series of spontaneous symmetry breaking processes occurs, as in a magnet cooled below the Curie point and a essentially random structure of the particles and forces appears. Inflation stops and we move into the more familiar big bang.

The forces and particles that appear are more-or-less random, governed only by symmetry principles (like the conservation principles of energy and momentum) that are also not the product of design but exactly what one has in the absence of design."[5]

To sum the contents of this extremely complicated argument down: "The fact that the Universe exists should not be a surprise in the context of what we know about quantum physics. The uncertainty and unpredictability of the quantum world is manifested in the fact that whatever can happen, does happen (this is often called the principle of totalitarianism, that if a quantum mechanical process is not strictly forbidden, then it must occur)... The same principles were probably in effect at the time of the Big Bang (although we can not test this hypothesis within our current framework of physics). But as such, the fluctuations in the quantum vacuum effectively guarantee that the Universe would come into existence."[1]

In conclusion to this very long argument, causality is not only not required for the universe, causality could not even have existed because of the universe of the universe during its earliest moments. The universe was acausal.

Acausal Explanations

There are a number of other possible explanations for the origin of the universe itself, even though it is acausal.

Ekpyrotic Universe: "...our current universe arose from a collision of two three-dimensional worlds (branes) in a space with an extra (fourth) spatial dimension."[6]

Retro-Causality: "Quantum entanglement is a state where two particles have correlated properties: when you make a measurement on one, it constrains the outcome of the measurement on the second, even if the two particles are widely separated. It's also possible to entangle more than two particles, and even to spread out the entanglements over time, so that a system that was only partly entangled at the start is made fully entangled later on."[7][8]

Simultaneous Causality: Imagine atoms A, B, and C. A comes into existence and instantaneously causes B, which instantaneously causes C, which instantaneously causes A. All of the atoms have causal explanation, and they all begin to exist at the exact same time.

All three of these explanations do not require an external cause, or even a cause itself. All are the result of properties inherent in the universe, and are acausal.


An external cause is not required, is impossible, and there are other ways for the universe to have come about.


[4]: Tryon, Edward P. 1973. "Is the universe a vacuum fluctuation?" Nature 246: 396-397.


Thanks to my opponent for the excellent response.

A word about sources...

*My argument hinges on the idea the empiricism cannot be used to determine whether or not the universe was caused by an external force. That therefore leaves me in a pickle about sources, because I cannot cite scientific evidence or theories without contradicting myself. This is the original reason why I wanted sources not to be evaluated, because from my position they do not matter.

*Seeing as my opponent rejected this idea, we must come up with some sort of fair way of evaluating sources such that I am not forced to automatically lose due to my arguing against the scientific process. The following method I believe will be the most fair to my opponent and myself, and additionally be entirely logical. Should my opponent win the arguments, he will have successfully defended that one ought to use science to solve this metaphysical problem. Under that scenario, sources my be evaluated as usual.

*However, if I win the arguments, then I demonstrate that sources about the original cause of the universe are useless. In such a situation, sources should automatically go to me, since I have revealed that all my opponents sources are faulty, whereas the logic that I offer would be the one acceptable source of knowledge of original causation in this debate. --- In summary, if the arguments are in my favor, I should win sources as well. If the arguments are in my opponent's favor, he should win sources. ---

*This is an extremely generous assertion on my part, because I make myself vulnerable if my opponent claims that sources should go to him automatically. Remember though that my argument attack the idea of scientific sources in the scenario, so the sources points should go to my if my arguments are convincing.

General Rebuttal: Ships Passing in the Night

a. I understand my opponent's wanting to turn the debate to the side of physics, his major. Unfortunately, though, while his analysis of physics is excellent, almost all his arguments not competitive with my model. That is to say, his arguments and mine are "two ships passing in the night." I could theoretically accept all my opponent's evidence and still win this debate.

b. Scientific Process: Science, including physics, is always based on empiricism. Empiricism relies on the gathering of data on "past" phenomenon. This "evidence" of the "past" may be made into scientific theories or mathematical models. All of my opponent's arguments are based off of these scientific theories/data and mathematical models, both of which rely entirely on empirical evidence of the "past."

c. My arguments, however, point out that all empirical evidence is useless in determining whether or not the universe was caused by an external force. The reason for this is fairly simple. The fact remains that we are currently living in the present, and all evidence that we have, physicist or no, is in our minds in the present. It is therefore conceivable that all of the universe was created an instant ago, set up in such a way that there is an illusion of the universe having existed for longer. One's memories of "years ago" may be been formed one second ago. Thus, there is at least one scenario in which all empirical evidence, and therefore all mathematical models and scientific theories/data, are useless in determining whether or not the world was created by an outside force.

d. However, as I point out , there is not only one scenario for this to happen but an infinite number of scenarios. Even if my opponent asserts that the universe is one second old, my opponent has a one-in-infinity chance that that is correct.

e. My opponent claims that the universe was not caused. This means that there is an infinitely small possibility of that happening, because my opponent would have to deny that during each an every location in "time," the universe was not created. Whereas under my model every instance of time represents a possibility that the universe was created by an external force, for my opponent each moment of time represents another forced denial. My opponent claims that this My opponent's scenario is therefore infinitely small, whereas my scenario is infinitely large.

Specific Rebuttals:

a. Quantum superpositions (P1-P4). My opponent's entire argument is based on premises that have been validated only by empirical evidence, which as my argument I asserts, is not actually evidence at all.

Additionally, I see no reason why an external event would have to have an omniscient view of the universe, or even a "view" at all (P1).

P2 says that observation collapses quantum sperpositions, but this only applies in the known universe, whereas we know very little of existences outside of the known universe.

P3 is an assertion well beyond the scope of physics. Physical bases its propositions on evidence of known phenomenon. Something outside of the unvierse is beyond its scope, and therefore it cannot apply its analysis to it.

We therefore have no reason to conclude C.

b. Quantum fluctuations are based on empirical evidence, which as I've stated have an infinitely high probability of being wrong.

*Additionally, this arguments suggests that quantum vaccum is the cause of events. If quantum vaccum is considered a state of the universe, than it does not explain the creation of the universe, but simply dodges the question. If the quantum vaccum is the universe, then we would therefore have to inquire about what caused it.

*Also, my opponent admits that this argument seems far fetched. Apply that to my argument that my opponent's stance does not make sence to the average person.

*The energy of virtual quantum quarks causing the energy we see show one of two things. If the quantum universe is NOT part of the universe, then it demonstrates how the universe is created by an outside source, and I win the debate. If the quantum universe is part of the universe, then my opponent is forced to explain then how the quantum universe came about.

c. "Now that we understand quantum fluctuations and the inherent potentiality in a quantum vacuum, now let's see how this applies to the universe's creation itself." My opponent here admits that the remaining analysis is based on this previous supposition, which I have shown to be faulty. My opponent's arguments therefore fall like a deck of cards.

*Additionally, the remaining arguments are based on empirical evidence, which I have shown to be a faulty attempt at evidence.

*My opponent tries to assert a very complicated theory on the universe creation, but will need to give evidence for each component of it. Right now these theories seem far-fetched--my opponent has not even pointed out the evidence modeling "10 dimentions," but simply point to other researchers. Not only is all empirical evidence faulty, but my opponent does not even present sufficient empricial evidence at all to justify its many components.

* My opponents entire argument hinges on paragraphs and paragraphs of complicated theories of physics. My opponent must prove them all, because his conclusions hinges on all of them being true. If just one aspect is faulty, my opponent is left with no argument (which I suggest is already the case due to my contention 1).

d. Most scientists do not claim to "know" anything, but humbly point out that the empirical evidence points that way, because all science is based off of gathering and organizing data. I have pointed out why this data cannot be trusted; therefore my opponents arguments fail.

e. "Acausal"

Ekpyrotic Universe tells the story of how the universe was created by the collision of multiple dimentions. These dimentions represent an external cause to the unvierse, if it explains at all. Therefore, my opponent is arguing for my side, and this theory shows that I win.

Retro-Causality: This is based off of emprical evidence, which I show to be faulty.

Simultaneous Causality: Even if these components begin to exist at the same time, A (an external cause presumably) still caused these events. This way of dodging time does not make much sense, especially seeing how time is really a measure of causality.

None of these properties give any sort of evidence to my opponent's case, and entirely ignores/does not contradict my own propositions I-IV.


I. There is an infinite chance that the universe is caused by an external event

II. My opponent's propositions is not only infinitely small, but does not make sense in infinite regress.

III. My opponent's propositions deny common sense

IV. My opponent's argument is less ethical than my own, so not only should we prefer mine by default because it's true, but because it's good

All of my opponent's arguments are based on empriricism, which I show to be unsupported. Please see above for my analysis on source points.

Thanks, and good luck!
Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank kbub for presenting his rebuttals.

After actually reading my opponent's introductory arguments and rebuttals, I realize that this is a different debate than I intended. To begin with, pro has the burden of proof to prove that an external cause is necessary for the universe. And two, when my opponent starts arguing that quantum fluctuations represent its own external cause or that the physics of "space" outside the known universe operate differently, it's very hard for me to argue against the resolution. I hope I can get this resolved in the next round.

As for sources, my opponent has failed to present sources that show some sort of evidence for his argument, using them instead to make a philosophical argument. The sources I present provide evidence for the assertions I make, and this well gets factored in to the source vote.

Absence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence

One of my opponent's many assertions is that there might be an unknowable external force that created the universe just a moment ago. However possible this may be, it does not satisfy my opponent's burden of proof. Here is Bertrand Russell explaining why with his famous celestial teapot thought experiment:

"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes.

But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.

If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time."[1]

It's essentially absurd to believe that there is an external cause just because there is the possibility of an unknowable external cause. Overall, my opponent would have to equally believe that there are griffins flying around stars that spew caloric as heat transfer. What I'm trying to argue here is that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence, and there is no evidence that an external cause exists.

Empirical Evidence and the Beginning of the Universe

I take very strongly that empirical evdience cannot be used to show that the universe is acausal. There is easy evidence for the singularity (it is a lot more complicated that this, but this is the basic argument): "Galaxies are moving steadily apart from each other. This means that they were closer together in the past. One can plot the separation of two galaxies, as a function of time... One would expect gravity, to cause the galaxies to accelerate towards each other. This will mean that the graph of the separation of two galaxies will bend downwards, below the straight line... [There would be a time of zero seperation] At this time, the Big Bang, all the matter in the universe, would have been on top of itself. The density would have been infinite. It would have been what is called, a singularity."[7]

What is means is that the universe has to be acausal: "The singularity itself is also regarded in the GTR-based Big Bang theory as uncaused, although for a different reason. It is defined as a point beyond which space-time curves cannot be extended, and thus which cannot have causal antecedents... Consequently, this theory cannot be used to support the thesis that the initial physical states are probably caused and that this cause is God." Overall, the sound evidence for the singularity (unless you take the equally acausal Ekpyrotic view) and the necessary-ness of the singularity being acausal support the view that the universe itself is acausal.[8]

An Infinite Regress Is Not Required

This seems impossible for an acausal universe, but go back to my argument in the first round. I mentioned that, by the quantum fluctuation model, there was no time before the big bang because it was like a black hole: "As you get closer to a black hole, the flow of time slows down, compared to flow of time far from the hole... Near a black hole, the slowing of time is extreme. From the viewpoint of an observer outside the black hole, time stops." What all this means is that an infinite regress is not required for the quantum fluctuation model, as there is a finite time of the entire universe's existence.[2]

As for my opponent's objection to the Ekpyrotic theory being wrong because it makes for infinite time: "In modern physics and cosmology, space and time are physical and are part of the universe. The big bang did not happen in a pre-existing space and time." In general, it is very possible that the universe is infinite in both space and time, but again, these are physical and part of the universe.[3]

Overall, however, we shouldn't even worry about this time before the big bang: "Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang. Events before the Big Bang, are simply not defined, because there's no way one could measure what happened at them." The laws of physics even break down at the singularity because of the infinite (which, consequently, is evidence of an actual infinite): "Even the amount of matter in the universe, can be different to what it was before the Big Bang, as the Law of Conservation of Matter, will break down at the Big Bang."[7]

Common Sense and Science

Science often defies common sense. For example, the heliocentric theory defies logic. The kinetic theory of gases defies logic. However, they are both true. Things are often very different than what we perceive through our senses. For example, the speed of light is finite, and everything we see is not at the exact state of an object at the moment we perceive it, but instead the state the object was in minus the amount of time it took to reach you eye. On the human level, this is very minimal, but on the astronomical level, it is huge. For example, the light we see from the sun shows the sun as it was eight and a half minutes before you saw it.

Carl Sagan once said this: "The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counter-intuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true." And this describes science, especially modern science. Overall, what we see is by no means what really is. Reality is very much an illusion, and common sense is a flawed understanding of how illusions work.[4]

Psychology and Ethics

The belief in a higher power may be comforting to those who are ignorant, but for me, the possible acausal explanations of the universe seem much more appealing to me because they rely on evidence and theory instead of the pure absence of evidence. People need to learn to grapple with the fact that the world has meaning. It could even be argued that looking at the world throuh rose-colored glasses is worse than fully understanding how an acausal universe could exist. Overall, this argument doesn't prove an external cause at all - it only suggests that an external cause should exist.

Quantum Superpositions

I included this because it is necessary to see how I am defining an external cause and differentiating it from an acausal universe. Quantum fluctuations are an example of an acausal universe because there is no cause for quantum fluctuations to occur (more on that in the next round).

Each premise is sound by quantum mechanics or by the very definition of an external cause. For example, "When an external agency (an observer, experimenter) measures the observable associated with the eigenbasis, the wave function collapses from the full [set of eigenstates] to just one of the basis eigenstates.""At present, every experiment has verified the [observation effect]." This proves premise 2 of the argument. Premise 3 obviously follows from premise 2, because an external cause would have to see the universe, or one that transcends the universe that we observe, and therefore observes all superpositions, which would cause all of them to collapse. Premise 4 does seem at first to be contradictory to premise 2, but it has to be true that not all quantum superpositions have collapsed, as that would make the notion of it null. Most of the "proofs" my opponent demands are unnecessary because the statements are axiomatic.[5][6]


[5]: Griffiths, David J. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, p. 106-9.
[6]: Kaku, Michio. Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universe, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension, p. 261.


Thanks for the reply.

On the resolution:

My opponent suggests that I am not being topical in this debate--that I have somehow failed to uphold the resolution. My opponent makes only two claims regarding this:

1. That I have the BoP to show that an external cause is necessary

Rebuttal (1):
*I accept the BoP of showing that "There is an External Cause of the Universe."
*I have not stopped attempting to demonstrate that this is the case since the beginning of the debate. I have no idea what my opponent is trying to say in this claim.
*My opponent designed this resolution and challenged me. There should be no reason why my opponent is unprepared to debate this resolution.
*This is round 3. Why didn't my opponent read my arguments earlier?
*Con's claim that this is not the appropriate debate is not only wrong (I follow the definitions and the debate perfectly) but is also bordering on "semantics," which would be an automatic 7-point loss for my opponent. I would not like to win that way, however, so please don't make this your sole reason for voting for me.

2. That "it's very hard for [Con] to argue against the resolution" because of my suggestion that quantum fluctuations are external causes and " "space" outside the known universe operates differently."

Rebuttal (2):
*I sympathize with my opponent's difficult position in this debate, but I must remind the voters that he challenged me to debate this resolution; thus, he should not complain that his position is too difficult.
*Concerning quantum fluctuations, I merely pointed out that they are either part of the universe or not part of the universe. If they are not part of the universe, than they are "external" to it according to my opponent's definition, and under that scenario I have already won. If it is internal to the universe, it cannot explain the origin of the universe, for quantum fluctuations would then need to be explained (After all, remember that my opponent's definition of "Universe" is "The totality of all states of the universe").
*My opponent has also claimed that it is unfair for me to point out that we have no idea how entities external to the known universe act. This should be obvious since they are, in my opponent's words, "outside the known universe." If they are not part of the "known" then they are "un-known," so it should come as no surprise that we do not know how such entities behave. This is hardly unfair--I am merely pointed out that this is not a good argument for my opponent to make.

*My opponent dropped two of the most important arguments in this debate: My argument part I, and my analysis on "sources." I have written out four paragraphs outlining exactly how sources should be evaluated, and why they should be evaluated in this manner. My opponent merely said:

"As for sources, my opponent has failed to present sources that show some sort of evidence for his argument, using them instead to make a philosophical argument. The sources I present provide evidence for the assertions I make, and this well gets factored in to the source vote."

*My opponent completely ignored my reasons for not providing sources. I argue that all sources on this topic are completely useless in my debate (see part I). I pointed out that the only fair system would be that if my opponent proves me wrong, then sources should be evaluated normally, but if I am right in that my opponent's sources are useless, then I have shown the most proper role of sources in the discourse and therefore win the sources vote. The quality of my opponent's sources do not matter if they are irrelevant--I could provide great sources on gender theory, but doing so would be irrelevent and I'd lose the sources votes.

*My opponent has utterly ignored these arguments (all four paragraphs), so they should automatically flow to me. Please be aware in case my opponent puts in new arguments in the conclusion; I will not be able to respond or point them out.

Part I (Infinite Causal Probability):

My opponent completely misunderstands my first, and most important argument. This argument not only demonstrates an infinite probability of there being an external cause, but also effectively refutes my opponent's entire case.

Here is how the argument went:

a. There is a possibility that the "past" is an illusion that was created along with the rest of the universe 1 second ago.

b. All scientific data is explained just as effectively by the hypothesis that there is no past as the hypothesis that there is a past (beyond 1 second).

*My opponent only addresses points "a" and "b." My opponent suggests that a-b alone is not at all sufficient proof of there existing an external cause of the universe. I emphatically agree. My argument comes from points c, d, e, f, and g; all of which my opponent ignores.

*Thus, Russell's illustration about the teapot has nothing to do with this scenario, because in a-b, I'm only establishing that there is a possibility of this existence. The probability of its existence comes later.

*The only thing I wanted to show in a-b is that there ONE possibility that equally explains all data. Oddly enough, my opponent seems to agree with me: "However possible this may be, it does not satisfy....burden of proof." My opponent does not once contend that this is possible. My opponent also does not contend that this hypothesis equally explains the data, effectively conceding both points I was making in a-b.

*My opponent claims that "absence of evidence is evidence of absence." My opponent is basically claiming that his position is more parsimonious (follows Occham's Razor more closely) than my position. I'm going to flip that claim on its head. It is Con who assumes that this universe existed in the past without any evidence whatsoever. I am the one simply doubting this. My explanation that the universe didn't exist actually removes an unnecessary element (the hypothesized "past-universe"), in favor of something simpler: "some external cause." Therefore, the mythical lion either applies to my opponent's hypothesis or both our hypothesis (1 second ago and however many years ago my opponent is claiming) are equally parsimonious. Even if I am wrong and my opponent is right about this, however, parsimony does not much matter because of my other points state that there is infinitely high probability of an external cause.

Here comes the important parts:
c. Since we know that there is one possibility of the universe being 1 second old, there are at least two possibilities that the earth is 1 or 2 seconds old, and three possibilities of the universe being 1 second, 2 seconds, or 2 and 1/2 seconds old. If you consider all of the fractions of seconds, the universe has an infinite possibility of being caused externally even in the last second. Considering the fact that my opponent thinks that the universe is billions of years old, the number of possibilities that the universe was created by an external force are clearly infinite.
*My opponent dropped "c" entirely.

d. Any one of my opponent's hypothetical scenarios represent only one possibility (optimistically) over billions of years. My position is infinite. Therefore, there is an infinite chance that the universe was created by an external force. Therefore, my position is infinitely more plausible (in effect, proof positive).
*My opponent dropped "d" entirely. Uncontested my assertion that there is an infinite possibility of my hypothesis, I therefore win this debate by default.
*My opponent may be tempted to make a new argument against this that I can't refute. Please be aware of this, judges.

e. This point just reinforces what I said in "d" so my opponent doesn't miss it. Unfortunately it's--

f. Creation of the universe in this manner is caused by something external to the universe, even if it is similar to universe as some of my opponent's hypothesis suggest.

g. Balance of probability is infinitely in my favor.

Empirical Non-Evidence (Ships Passing in the Night):

*My opponent fundamentally misunderstood my first argument. Due to this fact, my opponent, I feel, has misunderstood my entire case, including the reason for my discounting empirical evidence (which I wrote on thoroughly and explicitly last round).

*Basically, because all of the "evidence" of the past might as logically be new memories formed seconds ago along with the creation of the world, this "evidence" cannot be used to predict that the universe is 1 second old, let alone billions of years old.

*My opponent talks about the movements of galaxies billions of years ago, but there is an infinitely small possibility of this "evidence" working at all--a point that my opponent implicitly conceded multiple times in "I: a-g".

*My opponent does not give a single clear argument for why my a-e points of the "Ships...Night" section are incorrect. My opponent basically just restates his scientific evidence and says he thinks they should count.

Extend my all of my "II: Infinite Regress" points. For every second I accept as a possibility of external causation, Con must deny.

III: Common Sense:
*My opponent claims that kinetic energy laws etc. defy "logic," but this is not at all true. You can't defy logic. They do however, defy "expectations," but that is not the point I'm making. My opponent's arguments do not contest the value of common sense. Please extend.

IV. Ethics/Psychology
My whole purpose in IV is to show that I: Infinite Causation is practical and helpful. My opponent does not disagree. Therefore, it is practical. (Btw: I do not assert God's existence.)

Last comments:
*As I've shown in the previous round, none of my opponent's theories are truly a-causal--either they are caused by something external or internal (which wouldn't explain the universe).
*My opponent cannot know the behavior of anything outside the "known" universe, including quantum/physical particles/vacuums

*This last round is to restate the "original arguments." Please make sure Con doesn't make new arguments. Thanks!
Debate Round No. 3


I would like to thank kbub for this debate.

I'll leave the resolution issues aside (I'll refute those more specifically in my defense of my original arguments), and talk about sources before I begin. Regardless of whether or not my opponent realizes this, this is not a purely philosophical debate - science, and ergo empiricism need to be used from both sides in addition to just plain philosophical conjecture. An empirical argument is a probibilistic argument. My opponent accepted the BoP that he has to prove that an external cause created the universe, and empirical physics points showing how an acausal universe could work are not only relevant, but required. However, I'll leave this issue to the voters and let them decide on sources.

Quantum Fluctuations

Before I begin with defending this argument specifically, I would like to say this - it is conceivably possible that the universe was created 5 minutes ago, but to extend that into the realm of probability would need experience of that. He's trying to jump from metaphysical possibility to physical possibility. It is possible that all but the universe just ended a second ago and my mind is just creating the illusion of the universe. Under the same reasoning that is infinitely possible. In other words, it is possible that there is an external cause to the universe, but one, that is only a metaphysical possibility, and two, my opponent provides no proof that an external cause of the universe is required at all - he simply hints at the possibility through metaphysical means. Anyway, on to defending my argument.

As for what I'll call Last Thursdayism, his argument makes no empirical sense. To begin with, it is not falsifiable, "
Falsifiability or refutability is the logical possibility that an assertion could be shown false by a particular observation or physical experiment... Falsifiability, particularly testability, is an important concept in science and the philosophy of science... Popper concluded that a hypothesis, proposition, or theory is "scientific" only if it is, among other things, falsifiable. That is, falsifiability is a necessary (but not sufficient) criterion for scientific ideas." My opponent's idea is not falsifiable, and also does not stand up to Occam's razor, and therefore should not be considered a valid objection to the quantum fluctuation theory. And second, it barely even has philosophical merit. A universe that was just created has a great possibility of unexisting. It also doesn't explain why there is evidence of a past to begin with without invoking a god, which my opponent is not. In other words, this is but a thought experiment and should not be used to determine the strength of the resolution.[1]

On to the arguments directly related to quantum fluctuations. Going back to the singularity mentioned earlier, the universe could cause itself, meaning that the quantum vaccum and singularity are not "external" causes of the universe, but are instead an an example of an acausal universe: "Since there is a Big Bang singularity, the first interval of each length is "past-open," which means that there is no instant t that is the first instant of each earliest interval of any length, be the interval an hour, minute or second, etc. Before any instant in an earliest hour, minute, second, etc., there is an infinite number of other instants. Formulated in terms of instantaneous states of the universe, this means that before each instantaneous state of the universe, there are other instantaneous states, and each instantaneous state of the universe is caused by earlier instantaneous states. Accordingly, the universe causes or explains itself in the sense that, even though it began a finite number of years ago, say 15 billion years, each instantaneous state in any earliest interval is caused to exist and hence explained by earlier instantaneous states."[2]

Again, if we accept the singularity theory - which my opponent makes no attempt to refute, relying instead on the argument that my arguments are unproven; however, I provided a number of sources showing their validity, and therefore negate the resolution that an external cause is necessary for the universe to exist - then causality couldn't exist. "The immediate era after the Planck time is one of pressures and densities so high that spacetime itself is folded and meshed into foam of mini-black holes and wormholes; although the Planck time marks the beginning of time in the universe, the convoluted nature of spacetime in this early phase, with numerous singularities and overlapping event horizons, amkes it impossible for matter, photons, or even causality to exist." There could be no external cause because causality is not possible.[3]

Further, "The singularity itself is also regarded in the GTR-based Big Bang theory as uncaused, although for a different reason. It is defined as a point beyond which space-time curves cannot be extended, and thus which cannot have causal antecedents." As I mentioned in the last paragraph, during the Planck era, the convoluted nature of spacetime made causality impossible.[4][5]

Finally all I said was that the argument has hard to comprehend for someone that is dependent on their everyday perception of what is possible and what is not without a conception of an alternate way to doing things. In much the same way that the heliocentric theory was called incorrect because it defied observation, so is this. And we do know this: "The conservation of energy seems to be violated by the apparent existence of these very energetic particles for a very short time. However, according to the above principle, if the time of a process is exceedingly short, then the uncertainty in energy can be very large. Thus, due to the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle, these high-energy force-carrier particles may exist if they are short lived." These fluctuations are uncaused, due to the nature of the quantum vacuum I just mentioned. "There is observational evidence, albeit indirect, that this uncaused emergence of energy or particles (notably virtual particles) frequently occurs." The theories I presented are entirely plausible in the scope of our current scientific knowledge. While scientists don't claim to "know" anything, it is incredibly possible that the universe is acausal, and this negates pro's BoP sufficiently for him to lose the debate.[4][6]

In conclusion to this argument, and acausal explanation of the universe is very plausible, and throws enough doubt in the debate to sufficiently negate the resolution and undermine pro's BoP.

Acausal Explanations

Ekpyrotic Universe: "In respect of the theory of the acausal, the terms acausality and acausal refer to 'acausal space and acausal time'. That is, and in the context of this theory, both terms refer to a posited continuum different from the causal continuum of observed phenomena; which causal continuum has been described in terms of a four-dimensional space-time; and knowledge of and understanding about which causal continuum can be obtained by means of sciences such as physics, astronomy, and chemistry." In other words, multi-dimensional space is acausal is we can establish an acausal explanation of the universe, which I did in the previous argument.[7]

Retro and Simultaneous Causality: "'The idea of a physical system containing an explanation of itself might seem paradoxical to the layman but it is an idea that has some precedence in physics. While one may concede (ignoring quantum effects) that every event is contingent, and depends for its explanation on some other event, it need not follow that this series either continues endlessly, or ends in God. It may be closed into a loop." Causality is not required for these explanations to take place.[8]


The original objections I had to the resolution and its ambiguity were, in hindsight, not justified. In other words, the resolution was not as hard to negate as I ha originally been led to believe by pro. Pro had to prove that an external cause was necessary for the universe to exist, and he never attempted to prove the resolution, relying instead on invalid objections to empirical evidence and thought experiments with no inherent validity or relevance to actually proving the resolution. Not only has my opponent not met his burden of proof, he never effectively refuted any of my arguments because they still stand on possibility and empirical validity at the end of the day.

I made these points:

I. An external cause is not necessary to create a universe because of quantum fluctuations.
II. An external cause is impossible because the singularities during that early universe made "external" causality impossible.
III. An external cause is impossible because it would collapse quantum superpositins (by an external cause's nature).
IV. There are alternative explanations for the universe's existence, such as the Ekpyrotic universe theory of simultaneous causation.

My opponent never technically refuted any of these points, relying too much on philosophical conjecture and no empirical evidence (which is important) to make his argument.

Here are the errors in his points:

I. Thought experiments are not proof of something or something's existence, especially because they are not falsifiable.
II. Empirical evidence is very important in a scientific debate.
III. Common sense and ethics have no place in this debate because of the resolution.

In conclusion, my opponent never proved his arguments, or refuted my own strong objections.


[8]: Davies, Paul. God and the New Physics.


Per our agreement, I will leave this round blank. Thank you so much Subutai for an excellent debate, and thanks also to the voters for taking the time to thoroughly read this debate!
Debate Round No. 4
82 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by kbub 3 years ago
Thank you. I was an excellent debate. I look forward to doing one again.
Posted by Subutai 3 years ago
Kbub, thanks for this wonderful debate. This had a ridiculous amount of controversy, much more than I ever wanted to happen. I realize that I may not have defined things as much as I should, and I will note that next time. I've never had any of this problems in any of the 100+ other debates I have done, so I was a little unprepared for them. Anyway, again, thanks for your time in this wonderful debate and sorry if things got confusing or tense for a while.
Posted by Subutai 3 years ago
@Maria_Magalhaes: Pro didn't have as heavy of a burden because he didn't have to prove that a personal, omnipotent god exists. Only that an external cause exists. If have had shown that my quantum mechanics arguments were examples of external causes or impossible in creating a universe, pro would have upheld his BoP. Plus, pro accepted that BoP.

The contender can strengthen his or her argument by, in addition to providing the minimum of refuting the instigator's case, should also present a counterargument, as this makes the contender's case stronger. While yes, if the BoP rests on one debater, a counterargument is not required, it does provide an argument to not only refute the affirmation of the resolution, but also to argue for the negation of the resolution.

I never gave myself a "scandalous advantage". My refutations and counterarguments threw enough doubt on the resolution to make a con vote valid. Pro made a rather good case, as his BoP was not as daunting as you think it was. I probably could have done a better job defining the BoP in this debate, but no one was ever meant to prove anything.

As for the debate category, you're drastically overestimating the importance of it. There are a number of approaches to this debate, science being one of them, philosophy being a another, among others. Again, it depends on the potential for how the resolution could be argued.

This makes no sense: "First argument: An External Cause Is Impossible = true; Does it place sufficient doubt on the resolution to negate the BoP? = false" If I show an external cause to the universe is impossible, then the resolution debating the existence of an external cause is negated if there is no possibility that it could exist (by the way, there goes your first point about the possibility/probability BoP problem you mentioned, as both would be negated by such an argument).
Posted by Subutai 3 years ago
The quantum mechanics argument is one of the best to provide a good counterargument for the resolution. If you'd read it (and actually understand your significance), you'd see that my main point was that quantum mechanics shows that the universe must have been acausal, because causality was impossible.

You are right in saying that science should not be used dogmatically, which I didn't do. I simply showed how some scientific concepts show how the universe could not have an external cause. I did not twist anything on the basis of dogmatism, nor did I make baseless statements. In fact, most of my argument was substantiation of the relatively simple concept of acausality by showing how it could be possible.

Finally, as for the transcendent mind argument, you haven't shown how the human mind transcends the universe and its laws, and you also haven't shown that, even given that this is true, how the existence of a transcendent mind requires the existence of an external cause to that transcendent mind. Consciousness arose as a result of biological evolution of microorganisms. It shows nothing about an external cause. You're still not making any sense, nor showing any logic here.

That "snappy-bitchy character" you mention is getting annoying, because you keep missing the point and making illogical statements with no substantiation.
Posted by Maria_Magalhaes 3 years ago
(I'm keeping the snappy-bitchy character for the fun and coherence of our discussion, hope it doesn't bother you too much ;)

So! To win the debate in your terms you didn't need to say anything. Your opponent's never tried to prove the motion to be true. He's just tried to make it plausible and more reasonable, so you would win without having to disprove anything that he claimed.

If he tried an Aquinas approach, your qtm fluctuations theory would come in hand... but he never did, so all your qtm physics argumentation was kinda pointless. -.-

3.If you are aware of the level of fragility and acceptance of the ideas you're using, you shouldn't present them as validated and true, because the idea that you transmit is that you really think that's the case. It still doesn't give you the right to make the claims that you did, using science to support them!

Science is a beautiful concept that shouldn't be corrupted and used to support dogmatic and baseless statements!

4. Your last 2 paragraphs.
I'm glad you followed the reasoning, but you didn't need to explain the notions that I mentioned again. -.- I thought it was already established, that you knew about them , since you've already used them, or derivations of them, to base some of your reasoning.

I accept the anthropic principle as possible. But there there are too many leaps till your conclusion.
Do I need to explain them? No. Because you're already aware of it.

My final point that human mind transcends the universe and therefore an external cause exists makes little sense? It makes very much sense! Makes a lot more sense than saying that an external cause can't exist because of its omniscient observant nature...
I may try to explain why it makes sense and is reasonable, if you don't ask me to prove it to be true. -.-

In life you shall not demand absolute trues. Just ask for reasonable answers that you can live happy with or you will leave empty handed
Posted by Maria_Magalhaes 3 years ago

1. You really don't understand how you gave Pro an unreasonable BoP... --'
The debates about God are not suppose to prove its existence, but to make it more plausible and reasonable to believe in such existence. Like all other kind of debates..The objective is never to prove something to be true, but just to convince people your position is more reasonable or attractive. You may also try to look for weaknesses in your own arguments, to share ideas and to seek a common ground with your opponent.
This idea that the contender needs to prove something is ridiculous, considering the relativity and subjectivity of our realities. That's not a debate.
Even if you take a mathematical paradigm to base the "arguments", where they may be consider absolute, there will be no debating. Because something will be true or false and there will be no ground for discussion, (with some particular exceptions depending always on the extension of the paradigm you're using).

If you put your opponent in a position where he needs to prove something to you and you just need to make it questionable and relative, you're obviously in a scandalous advantage!! How can't you see that??

2.The theme you choose for the debate will naturally affect it. If you chose religion, you can't expect your opponent to argue with you in a scientific paradigm, basing his arguments in scientific theories and physical evidences. However, since you're the one using scientific arguments, you should at least have the decency to use valid theories and not just ideas and made up presuppositions and present them as true, like you did.
You used unproven scientific ideas to cover baseless, non-scientific statements.

First argument: An External Cause Is Impossible = true;
Does it place sufficient doubt on the resolution to negate the BoP? = false;

Like Pro has already explained to you --' the external cause doesn't need to have an omniscient view wtsoever! It's just a baseless, useless argumen
Posted by Subutai 3 years ago
@Kreakin: It's obvious you didn't have a valid understanding of my own arguments, or even the debate structure. Even assuming that quantum fluctuations are a cause (which I'll explain why they're not in a moment), they wouldn't be an external cause, as the resolution mentioned, because it would not exist outside of or transcend the universe, by the definition of external cause that I brought up. But as I mentioned repeated times, quantum fluctuations are not the cause for the universe; by my argument, causality was impossible during the first moments of the universe, and therefore the very nature of causality, even internal causality, would be a moot point. Also, as I mentioned, an empirical argument is a probabilistic argument.
Posted by Subutai 3 years ago
@Wylted: I didn't make the entailment argument, but the sort of phenomenon that I described in my arguments were acausal, as well as not external to the universe. In response to your specific point, it makes no sense to talk about a before the big bang, especially if a singularity is mentioned. An external cause would not be possible in that sense, then.
Posted by Wylted 3 years ago
I'm sorry, can you dumb this down for me. I thought it was pretty simple. The Big Bang even according to science would be an external cause of the universe. The Big Bang created the universe. The universe didn't exist before the Big Bang. So the Big Bang would be the external cause, right?
Posted by Subutai 3 years ago
I don't understand how pro has an unreasonable BoP. Does that mean that every single debate with the resolution that a god or external cause to the universe exists places an unreasonable BoP on the affirmer of the resolution? Well there goes about 2500 years of debate... I didn't place any greater burden on pro than in other debates with the same or similar resolution.

God/external cause debates, again, could be categorized to three different subjects - science, religion, or philosophy. In hindsight, religion probably wasn't the best choice, but it's nothing that affects the debate in any way.

The quantum superposition argument is actually a scientific thought experiment if you will. No, we can't really prove that a transcendent external cause would not collapse superpositions, mainly because we cannot define observation or transcendent, but it is relevant to the debate because it does place sufficient doubt on the resolution to negate the BoP. It wasn't the strongest of my arguments, but it wasn't supposed to be. Also, what exactly is my "first claim"? This? Well this is a reasonable argument.

The many worlds interpretation is just one interpretation of quantum mechanics, and the Copenhagen and von Neumann say that the wavefunction does collapse. The Copenhagen interestingly argues that the wavefunction actually only exists in the mind of the observer while arguing that the wavefunction will collapse upon observation.

Your final point that human action transcends the universe and therefore an external cause exists makes little sense. If you accept the anthropic principle (which you probably don't, but it's still a good point), which states that the observations of the physical universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it, and given my argument on quantum fluctuations, an external cause would not exist.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Kreakin 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: In a universe of infinate possibilities, probability has likely to be valid in arguing the current theories from a physics standpoint are possibily likely to be in some way causal. The probability the universe was created is therefore much more valid to my mind. Even if quantum mechanics is without the need for a cause to explain creation it could be argued that the laws of quantum mechanics were in some way a cause. In probability there is likely a cause. Atleast thats as far as I have got with this..
Vote Placed by bsh1 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This debate had my head spinning. I had to read it over a few times before I felt comfortable voting. Kbub's arguments were easier to understand--they were more "reader-friendly." I do accept that empirical evidence is insufficient to show that the universe is acasual. However, saying that empirics don't disprove the topic, is not the same as upholding the topic. I feel like Pro made some great arguments, but none of them actually upheld the BOP, which was squarely on Pro. Con never convinced me of his position, but he didn't have to. All he had to do was cast enough doubt on Pro that Pro couldn't uphold the BOP. As an aside, I felt Pro's ethics arguments veered off topic. Anyway, I grant argument points to Con. I am not awarding points for sources, as I feel that discussion got a bit muddled. All other areas were equal. This was a fantastic debate--if a bit complex. [Full Disclosure: I was asked to vote by Pro.] After a requested review, my vote stands.
Vote Placed by Mikal 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I think the key issue with this debate is part of the resolution. Pro had to show there is an external cause to the universe as noted in R1. I think what gave con a huge and I do mean huge advantage was how he played this debate. He stringed pro along to the final round and saved some of his rebuttals so she would not have a chance to respond. This is not a breach in conduct and was a great play to win the debate. Some of cons strongest points came in at then when he refined and when into more detail about why an external cause is impossible because it would collapse quantum superpositions. In addition to his he kind of pin pointed some key factors about singularity that showed there is no need for an external cause. This left pro in the dirt and left her holding the fact that there could possibly be an external cause with no real evidence to support rt this. Pro tried the probability angle in ways but when compared to cons argument for no causation it was not enough to uphold the bop
Vote Placed by whiteflame 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: The "no semantics" rule is not helpful in a debate on the universe because it eliminates drawing a distinction between what is in the universe and what is outside the universe. Pro had to prove that there was an "external cause" and that seems to amount to attempting to prove that the universe must have been created by magic, on the grounds that physical explanations are philosophically unacceptable whereas magical explanations are philosophically acceptable. Science allows that anything can happen if the equations for the theory are not contradicted by observation. Con successfully established that there are scientific non-magical theories that can explain the origins of the universe, even if none have been proved. Arguments to the contrary are arguments from incredulity: "I cannot believe in infinite regress or multiverse constructs or bounded time -- but I can believe in magic." Sources count in establishing legitimate scientific theories. It's "surely," not "surly."
Vote Placed by Hierocles 3 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
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Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: On sources: It makes sense why Con would provide sources and Pro would not given their different modes of argumentation. However, it would have benefited Pro to provide evidence to undermine the possible internal natural causes suggested by Con. Pro established that an external cause is indeed possible but failed to uphold his burden of proof by by demonstrating that there must be an external cause, rather than a natural internal cause like quantum fluctuations. Pro can only prove an external cause via negativia by ruling out all other plausible alternative causes. Pro failed to do that, instead he chose to respond by saying that Con's arguments should be rejected simply because he cites empirical evidence. Pro argues empirical evidence is a waste of time because we only need to understand linear causality to deduce there must have been a first-cause, unmoved mover, etc. However, Con challenged this notion of linear time/causality with his evidence about plank-time, pro didn't respond.