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Serious atheist responses to kalam argument

Hardtruthmerchant
Posts: 13
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1/22/2016 4:59:15 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
The kalam argument is formulated like this

1. everything that begins to exist has a cause
2. the universe began to exist
3. therefore, the universe has a cause

Defenses of premise one:
1) nothing comes from nothing, everything has to be brought into being by something else
2) if things could have no cause for their coming into existence things could pop into existence out of nothing
3) we see everyday objects come into being due to a cause or causes outside themselves

Defense of premise two)
1) Big Bang cosmology suggests the universe has a beginning to its existence at t=0
2) Red shift suggests the universe has been contracting from a point where no space-time existed
3) second law of thermodynamics- suggests that energy will on average turn into entropy over time and become unusable. Since there is clearly some usable energy in the universe, the second law suggests the universe cannot have existed for an infinite period of time

Analysis of the cause of the universe suggests it would have the following properties. It would be timeless and spaceless (at least sans the universe) because it would be outside space-time. It would be immaterial since it would predate matter. It would be enormously powerful because it would have created spacetime and energy and matter out of nothing. It would also be personal since it would have to have caused a finite effect (our universe) from an inifnite cause (the Big Bang). Also only numbers and abstract objects like a mind could have the properties I listed up to the property of being personal. However a number can't stand in a causal relationship with anything else. Therefore the cause of the universe would have to be a mind, which is a personal entity.

Please critique the argument while leaving your feelings on the subject of God and religion at the door.
Illegalcombatant
Posts: 4,008
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1/22/2016 5:12:04 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/22/2016 4:59:15 AM, Hardtruthmerchant wrote:
The kalam argument is formulated like this

1. everything that begins to exist has a cause
2. the universe began to exist
3. therefore, the universe has a cause

Defenses of premise one:
1) nothing comes from nothing, everything has to be brought into being by something else

Thats not the argument, cause if it was its self refuting for the God who has no cause.

Rather the argument is everything that begins to exist has a cause. Thus it is said that since God did not begin to exist according to this rule it need not have a cause.

2) if things could have no cause for their coming into existence things could pop into existence out of nothing
3) we see everyday objects come into being due to a cause or causes outside themselves

Defense of premise two)
1) Big Bang cosmology suggests the universe has a beginning to its existence at t=0
2) Red shift suggests the universe has been contracting from a point where no space-time existed
3) second law of thermodynamics- suggests that energy will on average turn into entropy over time and become unusable. Since there is clearly some usable energy in the universe, the second law suggests the universe cannot have existed for an infinite period of time

Analysis of the cause of the universe suggests it would have the following properties. It would be timeless and spaceless (at least sans the universe) because it would be outside space-time. It would be immaterial since it would predate matter. It would be enormously powerful because it would have created spacetime and energy and matter out of nothing. It would also be personal since it would have to have caused a finite effect (our universe) from an inifnite cause (the Big Bang). Also only numbers and abstract objects like a mind could have the properties I listed up to the property of being personal. However a number can't stand in a causal relationship with anything else. Therefore the cause of the universe would have to be a mind, which is a personal entity.

Please critique the argument while leaving your feelings on the subject of God and religion at the door.
"Seems like another attempt to insert God into areas our knowledge has yet to penetrate. You figure God would be bigger than the gaps of our ignorance." Drafterman 19/5/12
Illegalcombatant
Posts: 4,008
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1/22/2016 5:22:28 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/22/2016 5:12:04 AM, Illegalcombatant wrote:
At 1/22/2016 4:59:15 AM, Hardtruthmerchant wrote:
The kalam argument is formulated like this

1. everything that begins to exist has a cause
2. the universe began to exist
3. therefore, the universe has a cause

Defenses of premise one:
1) nothing comes from nothing, everything has to be brought into being by something else

Thats not the argument, cause if it was its self refuting for the God who has no cause.

Rather the argument is everything that begins to exist has a cause. Thus it is said that since God did not begin to exist according to this rule it need not have a cause.


2) if things could have no cause for their coming into existence things could pop into existence out of nothing
3) we see everyday objects come into being due to a cause or causes outside themselves

Defense of premise two)
1) Big Bang cosmology suggests the universe has a beginning to its existence at t=0
2) Red shift suggests the universe has been contracting from a point where no space-time existed
3) second law of thermodynamics- suggests that energy will on average turn into entropy over time and become unusable. Since there is clearly some usable energy in the universe, the second law suggests the universe cannot have existed for an infinite period of time

Analysis of the cause of the universe suggests it would have the following properties. It would be timeless and spaceless (at least sans the universe) because it would be outside space-time. It would be immaterial since it would predate matter. It would be enormously powerful because it would have created spacetime and energy and matter out of nothing. It would also be personal since it would have to have caused a finite effect (our universe) from an inifnite cause (the Big Bang). Also only numbers and abstract objects like a mind could have the properties I listed up to the property of being personal. However a number can't stand in a causal relationship with anything else. Therefore the cause of the universe would have to be a mind, which is a personal entity.

Please critique the argument while leaving your feelings on the subject of God and religion at the door.

Since you want serious............

http://spot.colorado.edu...

http://spot.colorado.edu...

I hope you find this enlighting and informative. To give you a taste of objections raised to the Kalam argument........

"It is also worthy of note that the empirical route is quite a dangerous one for the
friends of the kalām argument to take if they want to conclude that the universe was
created out of nothing by the will of a timeless and immaterial person a long time ago.
Here are some other well-attested empirical generalizations, each of which is
incompatible with that hypothesis about the origin of the universe.

(A)Material things come from material things.
(B) Nothing is ever created out of nothing.
(C) Nothing is ever caused by anything that is not itself in time.
(D)The mental lives of all persons have temporal duration.
(E) All persons are embodied.

It might of course be said that while these generalizations apply within the natural order, they do not apply to the natural order as a whole or to its cause. But then, of course, one could reasonably ask why the same should not be said of the claim that whatever beginsto exist has a cause.

It is also worth pointing out that prima facie, at least, quite a number of these
generalizations have as much claim to be metaphysical truths as Craig"s premise 1. One
might be left with the impression that the friends of the kalām argument are picking andchoosing metaphysical principles to suit the needs of the argument they want to make"
"Seems like another attempt to insert God into areas our knowledge has yet to penetrate. You figure God would be bigger than the gaps of our ignorance." Drafterman 19/5/12
Burzmali
Posts: 1,310
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1/22/2016 5:23:51 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
One of the better responses to this that I've ever heard is a critique of premise 1. It's based in the idea of mereological nihilism. Nothing that we describe as beginning to exist actually began to exist at a point beyond the big bang. Everything is just made up of "simples," or the smallest possible distinct thing (for lack of a better word) that can exist. The universe, be comprised of space and these simples, is the only thing we know of that may have begun to exist. So we have a sample size of one event with regard to the idea that everything that began to exist has a cause, and we don't actually know if the big bang/universe had a cause. In other words, premise 2 is based on premise 1, which could only be based on premise 2, etc. Therefore the argument isn't valid.

Do you have a rebuttal for mereological nihilism?
DPMartin
Posts: 1,096
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1/22/2016 4:26:03 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/22/2016 4:59:15 AM, Hardtruthmerchant wrote:
The kalam argument is formulated like this

1. everything that begins to exist has a cause
2. the universe began to exist
3. therefore, the universe has a cause

Defenses of premise one:
1) nothing comes from nothing, everything has to be brought into being by something else
2) if things could have no cause for their coming into existence things could pop into existence out of nothing
3) we see everyday objects come into being due to a cause or causes outside themselves

Defense of premise two)
1) Big Bang cosmology suggests the universe has a beginning to its existence at t=0
2) Red shift suggests the universe has been contracting from a point where no space-time existed
3) second law of thermodynamics- suggests that energy will on average turn into entropy over time and become unusable. Since there is clearly some usable energy in the universe, the second law suggests the universe cannot have existed for an infinite period of time

Analysis of the cause of the universe suggests it would have the following properties. It would be timeless and spaceless (at least sans the universe) because it would be outside space-time. It would be immaterial since it would predate matter. It would be enormously powerful because it would have created spacetime and energy and matter out of nothing. It would also be personal since it would have to have caused a finite effect (our universe) from an inifnite cause (the Big Bang). Also only numbers and abstract objects like a mind could have the properties I listed up to the property of being personal. However a number can't stand in a causal relationship with anything else. Therefore the cause of the universe would have to be a mind, which is a personal entity.

Please critique the argument while leaving your feelings on the subject of God and religion at the door.

Where is eternity in this equation, or thinking? If there is a eternity, then how did and do things begin and end?

By the by, this is the religion section of this site, so your request to keep religion out of it, isn't correct. Philosophy might have been more fitting for this thread.
Double_R
Posts: 4,886
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1/23/2016 4:03:57 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/22/2016 4:59:15 AM, Hardtruthmerchant wrote:
The kalam argument is formulated like this

1. everything that begins to exist has a cause
2. the universe began to exist
3. therefore, the universe has a cause

Defenses of premise one:
1) nothing comes from nothing, everything has to be brought into being by something else
2) if things could have no cause for their coming into existence things could pop into existence out of nothing
3) we see everyday objects come into being due to a cause or causes outside themselves

Premise one, just like all of your defenses for it are mere assertions. Cause and effect is a law of the known universe, yet you are asserting that this applies outside the universe. Without any experience or knowledge of what if anything exists outside of the universe you have no basis to make this claim.

I would however accept this to be the most plausible belief on the basis of induction but this takes us right back to the point I just made, induction is worthless when dealing with that which you have no experience with or knowledge of.

Defense of premise two)
1) Big Bang cosmology suggests the universe has a beginning to its existence at t=0
2) Red shift suggests the universe has been contracting from a point where no space-time existed
3) second law of thermodynamics- suggests that energy will on average turn into entropy over time and become unusable. Since there is clearly some usable energy in the universe, the second law suggests the universe cannot have existed for an infinite period of time

Big bang cosmology does not say anything about the state of the universe before plank time, thus we don't know if the universe came into existence at the point of the big bang or if this is the point at which it began to exist in it's current form.

Analysis of the cause of the universe suggests it would have the following properties. It would be timeless and spaceless (at least sans the universe) because it would be outside space-time.

A "timeless cause" is a completely incoherent concept. In your construct, time itself is the effect. A cause must come before the effect. If the effect is time, then the cause must be "before time", however "before" is a product of time. It cannot be if there is no time.

It would be immaterial since it would predate matter. It would be enormously powerful because it would have created spacetime and energy and matter out of nothing. It would also be personal since it would have to have caused a finite effect (our universe) from an inifnite cause (the Big Bang).

Please define "personal" and explain how you're definition fits into this argument.

No need to list the rest since the rest of your argument follows from the idea that the cause is personal, which as far as I can tell is nothing more than a mere assertion with no coherent basis.
distraff
Posts: 999
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1/23/2016 5:21:46 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/22/2016 4:59:15 AM, Hardtruthmerchant wrote:
The kalam argument is formulated like this

1. everything that begins to exist has a cause
2. the universe began to exist
3. therefore, the universe has a cause

Defenses of premise one:
1) nothing comes from nothing, everything has to be brought into being by something else
2) if things could have no cause for their coming into existence things could pop into existence out of nothing
3) we see everyday objects come into being due to a cause or causes outside themselves

Defense of premise two)
1) Big Bang cosmology suggests the universe has a beginning to its existence at t=0
2) Red shift suggests the universe has been contracting from a point where no space-time existed
3) second law of thermodynamics- suggests that energy will on average turn into entropy over time and become unusable. Since there is clearly some usable energy in the universe, the second law suggests the universe cannot have existed for an infinite period of time

There is no evidence that anything truly begins to exist. For example, even the atoms in your body comes from the stuff you eat. In the womb, your atoms came from your mother and she got hers from the food she ate. We literally are what we eat. All things simply come from a different form.

There is no serious example I have ever seen of something ever being created from nothing whether by spontaneous generation or guided by a designer. Nothing comes from nothing no matter what a designer tries to do to nothing to turn it into something. Even scientists say that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Any defense of the nothing from nothing argument threatens your defense of premise #1.

The universe itself may have come from another form. This does run into the infinite causes paradox but then so does God. Any argument to defend God from the paradox can also be used to defend the argument of the universe being in another form outside space-time.

Analysis of the cause of the universe suggests it would have the following properties. It would be timeless and spaceless (at least sans the universe) because it would be outside space-time.

You can't assume that the space-time in the universe is the only space-time out there. I can't agree with you here.

It would be immaterial since it would predate matter.

You are assuming that the only matter in existence is in this universe. There might be other matter that predates this matter.

It would be enormously powerful because it would have created spacetime and energy and matter out of nothing. It would also be personal since it would have to have caused a finite effect (our universe) from an inifnite cause (the Big Bang).

Ok this does not make any sense. I disagreed with some of your previous arguments but at least they made rational sense. This argument makes no sense. How is the big bang an infinite cause? You would first have to define this term very well. Also why are personal things able to do finite effects from infinite causes while impersonal causes are not?

Also only numbers and abstract objects like a mind could have the properties I listed up to the property of being personal. However a number can't stand in a causal relationship with anything else. Therefore the cause of the universe would have to be a mind, which is a personal entity.

How do minds have these properties? How do you know they actually exist? There is no scientific evidence there is an invisible thing from another dimension controlling your brain and working directly with it. So there is no evidence that our "mind" is actually immaterial.

Also, how could a mind do anything without space-time? Thoughts happen within time. With no time the mind would be frozen. So there is no evidence that the mind is timeless.

Also there is no evidence that the mind has any impact on the world without a physical body. Without a body your mind would be a ghost wandering around. So there is no evidence that a mind is by powerful at all. It is really the body that is powerful.

Also, just because there are only two things you can think of with these attributes (timeless, spaceless, immaterial, powerful, etc) from your limited human perspective inside space-time does not mean there are things outside the universe that can do them too. Its like the ancient Greeks trying to contemplate what is in the heavens. They just didn't have the knowledge to even get close to the truth.

I think you have gotten so deep into philosophy that you have lost touch with practical reality. Plato had this problem too.
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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1/23/2016 6:01:38 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
Hi HTM,

Thank you for your question.

Before digging into the reasoning, as an atheist I should point out that even if you hold the universe created (a conjecture I don't object to), that is not an argument for religion or gods, because you've yet to demonstrate why you should worship, revere, or hold as moral authority any creator(s): why they're admirable, engaged, worshipable, or even knowable.

But with that said, I hold that Kalam is an invalid line of reasoning anyway, to argue for a created universe.

It's invalid for both ontological and epistemological reasons, in that it's:
1) ontologically incoherent; and
2) epistemologically invalid.

Either objection is sufficient to invalidate the argument, and Kalam fails both. Here are my objections in detail.

Ontological Incoherence

Ontologically, the universe we jointly apprehend is the generally understood to be the totality of everything that we can observe or infer rigorously from observation. So we can jointly observe planetary motion, and infer gravity. Thus, we may independently conclude that planets, their motion and gravity are part of the universe. Arguably, anything we cannot observe, or infer rigorously from observation may not be said conclusively to be part of the universe, until we can establish that it exists in the universe and not only in our subjective apprehensions.

Causality then, is either part of the universe, or we can treat it as a subjective apprehension. If it is a subjective apprehension then we may differ in our apprehension of it, and therefore reasoning on such matters is ineffective, since apprehensions are arbitrary, and thus the argument collapses. However, if it is part of the universe, then by our earlier definition it must derive from what we can either observe, or rigorously infer from observation.

Yet if the universe has ever not existed, then causality cannot then exist as part of our shared universe. Thus talking about the cause of the universe is a category error: we have switched from presuming the objective to embracing the subjective, and in subjective matters, inference is ineffective. So the term 'cause of the universe' is incoherent until we can explain how to make it as objective as the universe itself.

We can make the same argument on the term 'beginning'. Either a beginning is part of the universe or it is incoherent -- a subjective idea that might mean anything to anyone.

Thus Kalam's ontology is invalid -- too sloppy to work with reliably.

Epistemological Invalidity

Let P be a well-defined conjecture about our shareable, objective experience. We say that P is falsifiable if we can specify a reliable observation which, if independently observed, would falsify P.

For example, the statement 'All crows are black' is falsifiable, in that we can define a crow so well that it is independently recognisable, and the colour black so that anyone can reliably discern whether any colour is or is not black. 'All crows are black' is falsifiable because we can systematically count every crow in a square mile around us, and establish whether there are only black crows. Then we can repeat this process for as much area as we want, and say to within any degree of statistical confidence whether all crows are black.

Let us say that a statement is objectively valid if it is independently falsifiable in this way -- i.e, it is so transparent, accountable and well-defined that anyone can follow an agreed procedure to independently verify or refute the statement.

Now, consider the premise 'everything that begins to exist has a cause'. How can it be falsified? This is a challenge: you must first specify a procedure to locate and identify everything (an ontological challenge), and whether and how it began to exist (ditto), and then track down its cause. Yet, how will you know whether you have located everything, or if you fail to identify a point at which it began to exist, or if you fail to track down a clear cause, how will you if that is lack of diligence, or because it has no beginning or no clear cause?

If you cannot stipulate how to locate everything, or how to know when anything didn't begin, or has no cause, then the statement is objectively invalid. Essentially, this statement appeals to subjective intuitions, and in the matter of subjective intuitions, inference is ineffective, since intuitions are arbitrary.

So Kalam is epistemologically invalid too, since it relies upon an objectively unfalsifiable premise.

QED.

(And by the way, being invalid doesn't make it true or false -- it just makes it too weakly-formulated to deserve any truth-value.)

I hope that may be useful -- or at least interesting. :)