The Instigator
Miles_Donahue
Con (against)
The Contender
Moelogy
Pro (for)

The kalam cosmological argument is sound

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Debate Round Forfeited
Moelogy has forfeited round #4.
Our system has not yet updated this debate. Please check back in a few minutes for more options.
Time Remaining
00days00hours00minutes00seconds
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/3/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 474 times Debate No: 102882
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (0)

 

Miles_Donahue

Con

After a long sabbatical, I'd like to return to Debate.org, and this time by arguing against the kalam cosmological argument. I'll argue that Pro cannot show that the premises of the argument are true, and that's about it. First round, Pro will post his opening statement, and then not respond in the fourth round to make an equal number of contributions.
Moelogy

Pro

You have summarized this arguement perfectly and I think I can defend this. In my estimation, no argument for the existence of God is more powerful than the kalam cosmological argument. "It has", in the words of atheist Quentin Smith, "an attractive core of plausibility that keeps philosophers turning back to it and examining it once again." [1] What is the kalam cosmological argument? Essentially, it boils down to the following five-points:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Having reached the conclusion that the universe has a cause, we then inquire into the nature of said cause and defend an additional premise:

4. If the universe has a cause, there exists a transcendent, personal Creator.
And from (3) and (4) is follows necessarily that,

5. Therefore, there exists a transcendent, personal Creator.
Notice the argument says nothing about the Creator"s moral attributes, or the extent of His power or knowledge. God"s omnipotence, omniscience, and all-good character will have to be left to other arguments. With that in mind, let"s begin!

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

What might be said in defense of premise (1)? Two lines of evidence undergird it. First, we know through mere reflection that something cannot come into being out of nothing. Why? The argument can be stated intuitively like this: when a wooden boat, say, comes into being, the potentiality for that boat first had to exist in a heap of wood. Only then could that potentiality be turned into actuality by a carpenter (if carpenters even make boats!). But for a boat to come into being without any cause whatsoever (including the previously existent pile of wood) would be for it to come into being without even the potentiality of its existence, a feat nearing contradiction. As such, a boat cannot come into being out of nothing (i.e., without any sort of cause). And what is true of the boat is true of everything else.

Second, in our varied and manifold experience of the world, everything we observe that begins to exist has a cause. As such, we can make a simple inductive generalization to the principle that whatever begins to exist has a cause. Notice, this isn"t reasoning by composition (arguing that because every part of the universe has a cause, therefore the whole universe has a cause). Rather, we take the set of all things that begin to exist, whether observed or not. Then we take the subset of all things observed to begin to exist. We see that all members of this subset have causes. We therefore generalize to the conclusion that every member of the whole set has causes. This is inductive reasoning, not reasoning by composition.

In short, we have a strong metaphysical argument for premise (1) and a strong physical argument as well.

2. The universe began to exist

Turn then to premise (2). Is it really the case that all of space and time began to exist at some point in the past? Even if were true, how could you prove it.? Again, at least two lines of evidence support premise (2).

First, it seems that an infinite number of past events could not exist. But if the universe never began to exist, there have been an infinite number of past events prior to today. As such, the universe must have begun to exist. Formally, argument looks like this:

i. If the universe never began to exist, then there have been an actually infinite number of things (i.e., events prior to today).
ii. An actually infiniten number of things cannot exist.
iii. Therefore, it is false that the universe never began to exist.
iv. Therefore, the universe began to exist.

Premise (i) is uncontroversial, and (iii) and (iv) follow logically from (i) and (ii). So it all comes down to premise (ii). Why believe the extreme claim that all things must be finite? Essentially, an infinite number of things would involve contradictions. For example, let"s say I have an infinite number of pizza slices (and I really do love pizza, so this scenario isn"t farfetched). But Bobby, my friend, is hungry. So I give him all of the odd numbered slices. How many slices do I have left? Still infinite number (i.e., all of the even numbered slices). Here infinity minus infinity equals infinity. Now rewind the scenerio. But suppose this time that Sally comes along demanding that she be given an infinite amount of pizza as well. So I give her all of the slices numbered four and above. Now I only have one slice left (remember, all the odd slices were given away, so now all I have left is pizza slice #2). Here infinity minus infinity equals one. But that contradicts the answer we found with Bobby! In both cases, we subtracted an identical quantity from an identical quantity, and got non-identical results. Given that an infinite amount of pizza leads to contradictions, such a collection cannot exist in reality. We can, through similar means, generalize this conclusion to all collections of things. As such, all collections must be finite, including the collection of past events. We must reach a first even in the history of the universe, and that just is the beginning of the universe.

Second, modern Big Bang cosmology supports the conclusion that the universe came into being at some point in the past. The argument has two steps: (1) demonstrating that the standard Big Bang model predicts a beginning to the universe, and (2) demonstrating this prediction is correct (i.e., proving that the standard model is indeed correct). Firstly, the Standard Model uncontroversially predicts a beginning to space and time. Visually, the Big Bang Model looks like this:

As cosmologist P. C. W. Davis has written,

"An initial cosmological singularity . . . forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity. . . . On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself." [2]

The initial cosmological singularity is part and parcel of the Standard Model, so I"ll simply leave it as given that the big bang theory does indeed present us with a beginning to the universe.

Secondly, the big bang theory is correct in its prediction of a beginning to space and time. First, other general predictions of the Standard Model have been verified (e.g., the background "temperature" of the universe, the balance of helium and hydrogen in the early universe, the accuracy of general relativity on which the Standard Model is based, etc.). Second, alternative models proposed to avert the standard Big Bang model have all failed. For example, the Steady-State Theory crumbled when the cosmic background radiation was discovered. Or again, the Oscillating Universe Model has largely been abandoned due to observations of mass-density much lower than that predicted by the model. As each successive attempt to avert the beginning of the universe fails, the Standard Model receives corroboration. Third, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem proves that any model of the universe, whether the Standard Model or otherwise, that represents the universe as expanding throughout its history must entail a beginning to the universe. [3] This is the only assumption of their theorem. Indeed, they don"t even assume general relativity holds at the beginning of the universe. As such, their theorem is applicable to quantum gravity models. And the point is, all models that deny the one assumption of average expansion fail. And I"m willing to defend that claim if my opponent suggests any such model. In short, the beginning of the universe receives strong scientific support from the Big Bang Model.

So then, we again have a strong metaphysical argument for premise (2) and a strong physical argument for it as well.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

If everything that begins to exist has a cause, and the universe began to exist, then the universe must have a cause. But the argument doesn"t stop here.

4. If the universe has a cause, there exists a transcendent, personal Creator.

Finally, turn to premise (4). Such a cause must be transcendent, that is to say, beyond space and time, because it created space and time. As such, it must be timeless (and therefore changeless) and spaceless (and therefore immaterial). But now a problem arises: the only two entities conceived of by philosophers that could be timeless and spaceless are (1) abstract objects (like numbers, sets, and properties) and (2) unembodied minds. But it belongs to the very definition of abstract objects that they lack any causal powers. They cannot be the cause of anything, much less the universe. Therefore, the cause of the universe must be an unembodied mind. And so we reach the conclusion that the cause of the universe must be a transcendent, personal Creator.

To summarize, our case reads as follows:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

a. Something cannot come from nothing.
b. Valid inductive generalization.

2. The universe began to exist.

a. An infinite number of past events cannot exist.
b. The standard Big Bang model predicts a beginning to the universe.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

4. If the universe has a cause, there exists a transcendent, personal Creator.

a. Must be timeless and spaceless, and therefore transcendent.
b. Must be an unembodied Mind, and therefore personal.

5. Therefore, there exists a transcendent, personal Creator.

Notes

[1] Smith, Quentin. "Kalam Cosmological Arguments for Atheism", in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, M. Martin (ed.), 183

[2] P. C. W. Davies, "Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology," in The Study of Time III, ed. J. T. Fraser (Berlin: Springer Verlag )

[3] A. Borde, A. Guth, A. Vilenkin, "Inflationary Spacetimes Are Incomplete in Past Directions," Physical Review Letters 90 (2003): 151301, http://arxiv.org...... (accessed December 29, 2014).
Debate Round No. 1
Miles_Donahue

Con

I really don't know why Pro felt the need to repost my entire previously written opening statement, without even so much as citing it.

http://www.debate.org...

Still counts as plagiarisms, Pro. Also, complete lack of creative thought. Let's not drag this out.
Moelogy

Pro

I literally said "you summarized perfectly before" so i did admit this is your arguement. You are roleplaying you were defending before now you are refuting it? Please attempt to refute this arguement. I already cited it was your argument
Debate Round No. 2
Miles_Donahue

Con

I'm not role-playing anything, Pro. I said you should post your opening statement, not mine! You're making me do all the heavy lifting, instead of arguing the case yourself.
Moelogy

Pro

I did cite it was your opening statement. However there is still one round left so if you could provide a rebuttal and i could provide a rebuttal we could still have a fruitful debate. However, if you would like to debate this again i would not use yours but i will use mine. I just wanted to show everyone you are roleplaying. However, as i said before there is still one round left which we could utilize so please provide a rebuttal and i will provide my rebuttal
Debate Round No. 3
Miles_Donahue

Con

Nowhere in round one did I say I'd be "role playing" - you've just made that up - and no where did I give the slightest suggestion that copying and pasting my own work would be appropriate. This debate is over.
This round has not been posted yet.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Moelogy 1 year ago
Moelogy
Well you cant just defend something and then attack it here and not expect us to troll you.
Posted by Miles_Donahue 1 year ago
Miles_Donahue
@Jonbonbon, for real, two times in a row.
Posted by Jonbonbon 1 year ago
Jonbonbon
Wow this topic isn't working out for you, is it?
This debate has 0 more rounds before the voting begins. If you want to receive email updates for this debate, click the Add to My Favorites link at the top of the page.