The Instigator
Con (against)
8 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
2 Points

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument is Sound

Do you like this debate?NoYes+3
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/18/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,001 times Debate No: 33840
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
Votes (2)




The The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument (LCA) is Sound.



1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or an external cause (Principle of Sufficient Reason).
2. The universe exists.
3. If the universe does have an explanation for its existence, that explanation is God.
4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1 and 2).
5. Therefore, the explanation for the existence of the universe is God (from 3 and 4).

Sound- An argument with both logical validity and true premises.

God- If in existence, the timeless, spaceless, immaterial, powerful, and personal creator of the Universe.

Rules and Such Things:

  1. Pro has the burden of proof in this debate, however Con must successfully refute Pro’s arguments to win the debate. Insufficient argumentation from Pro without Con pointing out any flaws does not grant Con a win.
  2. Pro shall begin his or her argumentation in the first round and shall make no arguments in the final round. Clarifications regarding the resolution, definitions, rules, or any oher preliminary matters should be made prior to acceptance of this debate.
  3. No abusive and/or semantically abusive arguments.
  4. Drops shall count as concessions.
  5. No new arguments in the final round.
  6. Acceptance fo this debate is acceptance of these terms.
I look forward to an interesting debate.



I appreciate Magicr for allowing me to debate this topic with him. In this debate I will be using a type of Modal logic. The purpose of logic is to characterize the difference between valid and invalid arguments. Pro must take the task of making sure that the premises are sound.


1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or an external cause (Principle of Sufficient Reason).
2. The universe exists.
3. If the universe does have an explanation for its existence, that explanation is God.

4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1 and 2).
5. Therefore, the explanation for the existence of the universe is God (from 3 and 4).

The founder of this argument, Gottfried Leibniz once said, "why is there something rather than nothing." Arguments such as these are the most basic fundamental question known to man, "Why do we exist." The final conclusion Leibniz had was that God is the conclusion.

In this debate I must show the premises in the argument are true and that therefore makes the conclusion also true. Unless Con wishes, I see no need to show that the universe actually does exist, we exist and so on, hopefully this premise can be conceded. Therefore, premise two is true. What I need to show is the universe needs a explanation for its existence and the best explanation for that existence is God. Premise one is supported by the Principle of sufficient Reason.

Principle of sufficient Reason(PSR)

The PSR is a principle that everything must have a reason for coming into existence.

"There can be found no fact that is true or existent, or any true proposition..without there being a sufficient reason for its being so and not otherwise, although we cannot know these reasons in most cases." -Leibniz

If Con says the PSR is false that leaves us with no explanation for the universe. Even if Con says the PSR is true we still have no explanation for the universe and that only leaves us with the explanation of God. We cannot just stop and say there is no explanation for the universe or why it got where it is. It is in our nature to look for explanations. When we look at nature we see all things have explanations for their existence. If we just avioded that and said it all just appears or happens, then science becomes useless. It does not seem rational to say things like the big bang theory are false or that things do not need explanations for their existence. It makes since that if we see everything in nature needing causes, then the universe should also need a cause. If one rejects the explanation simply because they do not like it, with no explanation at all, then that does not seem rational either. We should accept the PSR as true until Con shows us otherwise.


To be Contingent is to be dependent on what may happen. To be dependent on some other event or circumstance, maybe unknown. There are two types of things: i) things that just exist necessarily and ii) things which exist contingently. Things which exist necessarily exist by a necessity of their own nature. Things like numbers and other mathematicals exist in this way. On the other side, contingent things are caused to exist because something else has produced them. The choice we are left with is either something caused the universe(as we see happens with everything else) or the universe has always existed. We know of no contingent things that are infinite and the universe would be the exception to the rule. For this assumes that the universe is all there is and without it, there would be nothing. With a finite age of the universe it seems most likely that a cause outside the universe, created the universe. So, premise 1 is more plausibly true than false.

The real question is, Is the universe finite or infinite?

Finite universe

I need to establish the universe as finite because if it isn't then it needs no explanation or cause. I propose that the Big-Bang signals a beginning for the universe. It appears the universe is about 43 billion light years accross. Astronomers have viewed the universe as infinite in all directions, but recent studies of the cosmic background radiation suggest that it's finite, but unbounded, the way the surface of a sphere is finite, but has no edge.

Scientists believe that a collapse of our universe is unavoidable. All things that have a beginning have a end and like so, all things that end had a beginning. With whatever senario you partake the conclusion is satisfied by scientist that we have a finite universe. If our universe will collapse, then it is contingent. Therefore, we have good reason to think it began and there is a reason for it. In the case of contingent affairs, there is either an explanation for why that state of affairs obtains or else an explanation of why no explanation is needed.

The cause

The sufficient reason for the universe cannot be an individual thing, nor a collection of things, nor in earlier states of the universe, even if these regress infinitely. Therefore, there must exist an being which is metaphysically necessary in its existence. It is the sufficient reason for its own existence as well as for the existence of every contingent thing. Natural first causes cannot create themselves because it is confined by the laws of physics.

The first cause would have to be some external cause, an external cause of all physical reality, and there are only two sorts of things we know of that could fit requirement: abstract objects (like numbers) and unembodied minds. But abstract objects can’t cause anything. So the only viable candidate for a nonphysical cause seems to be a unembodied mind. Thus we’re left with a transcendent personal cause of the universe. The possiblility that there is a transcendent personal cause of the physical universe would make atheism much less plausible. All things considered then, "If God does not exist, then the universe has no explanation of its existence" seems very likely true, which thus gives us very strong grounds for accepting premise 3.


i. I established PSR
ii. The universe exist
iii. The universe's explanation is God and it is the most plausible.
iv. Confirmed from iii
v. The premises are true and the conclusion follows.

The argument is not that God must exist but the idea of natural non-contingent causes are more confounding. God can logically explain the universe, time, and matter because God posseses the qualities transcending beyond the physical. The conclusion isn’t that God exist but there must be transcendent personnel cause of the physical universe makes any other explanation less likely. It does not matter if we do not like the conclusion, the argument if presented right is sound and Con must show it as not sound. If Con fails in showing one of the premises as unsound, then I win. I believe theism or Deism gives a more reasonable explanation for the universe, atheism does not.

Debate Round No. 1


Thank you to AbnerGrimm for accepting this debate.

I will note here: Though the second premise deals with a highly interesting epistemological problem, it will not be contested in this debate.

Principle of Sufficient Reason

The reasoning given here is really quite inadequite, not to mention the fact that the premise can be shown to be false a priori.

Pro’s basic argument here is that we should accept this premise as true until I can demonstrate otherwise, and he really offers no substantial reasoning to support the acceptance of this premise. While I do intend to demonstrate this premise to be false, it is worth noting that Pro’s own source describes the PSR as a “controversial” principle, meaning that Pro does have a responsibility to demonstrate its truth, not just to assume as much until otherwise demonstrated.

Pro: Denying the Antecedent

Almost from the beginning of his arguments here, Pro fails to make sense. Pro writes: “If Con says the PSR is false that leaves us with no explanation for the universe.”

This is untrue. Negating the PSR does not entail nothing having a sufficient explanation, merely a lack of a necessity for everything lacking a sufficient explanation. This denies that antecedent, which entails stating:

If p, then q.

Not p.

Therefore, not q.

Obviously, in this case p = the PSR being true and q = the Universe having a sufficient explanation. Such reasoning is clearly fallacious.

With this in mind, Pro’s rambling about looking for explanations being necessary, etc. becomes irrelevant.

Pro: Appeal to Experience

The other (actually really the only) attempt made by Pro at justifying this argument is an appeal to our experiences and say that our common experiences demonstrate that things tend to have explanations. Quite rightly, Pro argues that if things didn’t have explanations, science couldn’t work.

In adressing this, there are two things I’d like to point out.

First, I’d like to reitereate that denying the PSR does not necessitate that nothing has an explanation. All it entails is denying that everything necessarily has an explanation.

Me: Our Experiences Don’t Encompass Beginning of Universe-Type Cause and Effect

Second, I’d like to point out that the bredth of our experience as humans with situations of cause and effect hardly contain the kind of cause and effect that would be occur in the creation of a Universe (at least in all everyday cause and effect observations, this isn’t necessarily quite true universally, pun intended, as it could be argued that quantum events don’t always have sufficient explanations, but I digress).

In our everyday experiences with cause and effect, we only see something physical causing something else physical and we only observe causation in a continuum of time. The conditions in the causation of a universe, however, would be different.

If we accept my opponent’s later assetion that the cause of the Universe must be nonphysical (If we dont’ accept this assertion, the argument still fails overall because then the cause doesn’t have to be God.), then this case would be something nonphysical causing something physical outside of a continuum of time as there would be no time in the state causually prior to the Universe.

Thus, Pro must provide a reason to think that our experiences can be any sort of indication of whether the Universe must have had a sufficient explanation, something he has not done. It is easily statable that events within the current, non-quantum conditions of our Universe have sufficient explanations, a concept to which I adhere, without necessarily extending this principle beyond the reaches of our knowledge.

Me: Backing This Up Modally

In the beginning of this debate, Pro brought up Modal logic, and I’d like to demonstrate why the PSR cannot be confirmed as simply in the way Pro seems to assume it can be, using Modal logic.

Basically, one can conceive of a possible world in which the PSR is false, a world where things happen randomly and for no reason. I see nothing that is logically inconsistent about such a state of affiars, so such a possible world is concevable. If a possible world is conceivable in which the PSR is false, then the PSR is not true necessarily, and cannot be accepted a priori.

Since the bredth of our experience does not give us sufficient knowledge of cause and effects that would have brought the Universe into existence, we cannot confirm the PSR a posteriori either.

Me: Pro’s Style of Reasoning Rejects God aka No Special Pleading Please

We can easily take Pro’s simple “Basic human experiences to too broad applications” style reasoning and turn that against God in the following syllogism:

1. All personal beings have beginnings.

2. God is a personal being.

3. Therefore, God had a beginning.

Clearly, the first premise is confirmed through all of our human experiences in the same way that all of our experiences confirm the PSR, and God, by the agreed to definitions, must be personal, thereby confirming the second premise. I think, however, Pro would find the conclusion to be disagreeable to his case.

So, it’s special pleading to use Pro’s style of reasoning to confirm the PSR, but to reject its use in confirming this first premise.

Me: The PSR is False A Priori

And here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the a priori negation of the PSR. I really wish I had more space to discuss this, but the argument can basically be summed up in the following way:

  1. Assume the PSR is true.
  2. Suppose we list all of the contingent things making up one big contingent proposition, C. For example, our set could look something like this: The Universe exists, people exist, cats exist, milk exists, toothpicks exist, and on and on and on.
  3. Since C is contingent, if the PSR is true, C’s explanation must be necessary, as if the explanation contingent, it would be a part of C and could not be C’s explanation.
  4. Something with a necessary explanation, however, is also necessary.
  5. So, if C was the result of some necessary explanation, then it follows that C must also be necessary.
  6. Yet, C, by definition, cannot be necessary.
  7. Therefore, the PSR is false (MT).

Since accepting the PSR leads to a logical impossiblity, we must conclude that the PSR is false.

God is the Answer.

Me: What Do We Mean By “Universe?”

This is an important question that must be answered before we can proceed with our discussion. Does “universe” mean include all physical things in existence, or does it merely encompass our specific domain in a larger Multiverse or something else beyond our knowledge?

To separate between the two, I will be using a system I have previously seen used in which “Universe” means our specific domain and “universe” means everything.

Random Reader: So?

So, something physical in the broader universe could have cause our Universe. This rejects the necessity of a nonphysical cause.

And, although our specific Universe may be finite as Pro has suggested, I see no reasoning that rejects an infinite universe.

Additionally, as I have already argued, a necessary cause cannot be the explanation for a contingent effect. So, either there must exist an infinite regretion of contingent explanations or eventually we reach a first contingent explanation for which the PSR is not true. Either way, the LCA fails.

Finally, Pro’s grounds for accepting a personal explanation are that the only nonphysical things we have experience with are abstract or personal. I think this is special pleading yet agian, as all of experiences with personal beings are experiences with physical personal beings, not to mention the syllogism I previously presented. So, I think it is plausible that if I conceded the other requirements, the explanation would still plausibly be something with which we have no experience.


I have demonstrated that both the first and third premises of the argument do not stand.



AbnerGrimm forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Unfortunately, my opponent's account is no longer active, so, extend arguments I guess.


AbnerGrimm forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


AbnerGrimm forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Magicr 5 years ago
Cool. I look forward to it.
Posted by AbnerGrimm 5 years ago
Ok, it cool. I'm working on my argument.
Posted by Magicr 5 years ago
Although structure is not nothing, it is not nor does it discuss any specific arguments against the resolution. A summary does further one side, and as it would be written from one side, it would surely be a biased summary seeking to further the affirmation of the resolution.

Also, I'm not sure why you say that I could put the burden on you as you already have the initial burden. I've explicitly stated that the Pro (you) has the BoP. I must refute your arguments, but you have to argue first as I can't refute if you haven't argued.
Posted by AbnerGrimm 5 years ago
You can add the we both present arguments in our second round and only rebuttals for the 3rd and 4th. Or not I don't care about this, it was a idea.
Posted by AbnerGrimm 5 years ago
Actually better yet. You could switch you to Pro and add *is not sound. You have already took a Big Burden. You can be Pro and put some burden on me like you have yourself.
Posted by AbnerGrimm 5 years ago
Magicr, question, Can I post something like a summary or vote analysis in my final round? I am asking because you used your first round for structure which is not nothing. I suggest letting me summarize and vote analysis or just accepting and allowing you to go first. I agree no argumentation in the last round. Personnel opinion on voting and a summary is not arguments. I will agree that any argumentation about the substance of the debate is not allowed.
Posted by AbnerGrimm 5 years ago
Magicr, I will probably accept later tonight or for sure tomorrow.
Posted by AbnerGrimm 5 years ago
I will accept don't worry.
Posted by Magicr 5 years ago
The argument being debated is the same as the Lucky has debated several times, so if that's what you're asking, then yes.
Posted by Bullish 5 years ago
Copied from Lucky_L?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Magic8000 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by ClassicRobert 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:42 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's account was closed before completion, so Magicr gets arguments and conduct. Pro used more sources though, so he gets that.