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Featured The Existence of God & The Kalam Cosmological Argument

Discussion in 'Christian Philosophy & Ethics' started by Tetra, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. Tetra

    Tetra Active Member

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    One of my favorite arguments has always been the Kalam cosmological argument.
    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
    2. The universe began to exist
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause
    Some may know of it, some may not, but it's a simple argument that when combined with others... can be quite powerful to make a case for the existence of God.
     
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  2. CrystalDragon

    CrystalDragon Well-Known Member

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    The problem with that is that everything that exists may have a cause to have it exist. If we make the claim that God was the "first cause", that completely nullifies that argument from point 1 that everything that exists must have a cause if we just say God is the first cause.
     
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  3. Tetra

    Tetra Active Member

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    This is a common criticism, but note, it says whatever "begins" to exist. Not, everything that simply does exist has a cause, then I'd agree with you. :)
     
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  4. CrystalDragon

    CrystalDragon Well-Known Member

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    Though since the premise only applies to things that began to exist, saying that the universe had a cause doesn't automatically mean that cause was God. You could also say that it was caused by the colliding of two universe membranes, or a collapsing universe cycling into another one, or a collision between matter and antimatter, or the singularity of a black hole, or a bored alien in a lab creating an explosion. Just because something has a cause doesn't automatically mean that cause is suddenly God and there's no further questions that can be made.

    And on another note, how can we say that the eternal being of God is exactly how we think he is? If the "first cause" in the cosmological argument is God, how do we know it's the God as we find described in the Bible? How do we know the truth about God's nature wasn't of another group, or even something that was never written down?
     
  5. Anguspure

    Anguspure Slave Supporter

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    The argument does not posit God as a cause, rather it simply contends that there is a cause.
    "God" as a cause is established on other grounds that consider the necessary properties of the cause that has been established on the KCA.
    As Tetra notes in the OP:
     
  6. Anguspure

    Anguspure Slave Supporter

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    Not everything that exists has a cause, however everything that exists does have a reason for its existence. This is not the KCA argument though and the confusion between a cause and a reason is a common one when dealing with this argument.
    An argument for the existence of God from reason for existence is: Leibniz’ Contingency Argument | Reasonable Faith
     
  7. Anguspure

    Anguspure Slave Supporter

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    If we consider that the Cosmological uncaused cause is a person, The "I AM that I AM" of Moses' burning bush fame seems to fit the profile better than any other.
     
  8. Tetra

    Tetra Active Member

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    We would agree, in part why I specified when it's combined with other arguments in the OP. :)
     
  9. jasonwrites

    jasonwrites New Member

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    The argument is logically unsound as it contains an assumption: that anything exists that did not begin to exist. Of course, it only works if that assumption is true, i.e. that God never began to exist, His existence is eternal. Otherwise you get trapped in the causality loop of "If God created the universe, who created God?"

    When the Big Bang Theory was first posited, many scientists at the time were essentially rooting against it, due to fears it would embolden theists. Here you had a theory that states that in one moment, everything came from nothing, and even if we can understand the cause-and-effect sequence of everything after the Big Bang, there is still that infinitesimal "gap" that's unaccounted for, (on the order of 10^-43 second) wherein there has to be a cause for the singularity to go bang.
    A First Mover or Uncaused Cause, Creator, God seems required.

    Alas, in recent years Stephen Hawking has put forth a sound scientific argument as to why a Creator is not required for the Big Bang to occur. CrystalDragon explained many of the alternatives in a previous reply. So we are now at a point where we should really accept that the existence of God cannot be proven-- or disproven, for that matter-- and is purely a matter of faith.
     
  10. Tetra

    Tetra Active Member

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    I'd very much disagree with your position.

    Whatever begins to exist does have a cause, the only way there can be a causality loop if I was to state, whatever exists has a cause. Well of course that would be silly.

    Belief in God doesn't necessarily require "faith" as it were, at least that isn't how I came to know God. There are many arguments for the existence of God, and I tend to believe, once studied, there is enough information to rationally justify His existence.
     
  11. jasonwrites

    jasonwrites New Member

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    I very much respect your disagreement with my position, but allow me some elaboration...
    I state this position as I do as a result of much back-and-forth with atheists on a certain Q&A site and it has become painfully clear to me that no atheist is going to accept that "there is enough information to rationally justify His existence." They will contend the need for hard, empirical, falsifiable, repeatable evidence-- not a philosophical justification.

    I just know that I've wasted hours of my life in these arguments that are ultimately futile. You aren't going to change their (atheists) mind with any of the many arguments for God's existence. Therefore it is best that you concede it is a matter of faith. You can resort to the contention that science and religion are non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA), which does have a pre-eminent scientist as an advocate: Stephen Jay Gould, in his book Rocks of Ages:
    Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life: Stephen Jay Gould: 9780345450401: Amazon.com: Books
    However, many atheists won't even accept the validity of NOMA.
     
  12. Anguspure

    Anguspure Slave Supporter

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    God is timeless, not eternal. There is a difference.

    Hawking says that the universe exists because the laws of physics exist. But the laws of physics exist within the context of the universe, and break down at the point of singularity.
    So 2 problems:
    - Something that exists contingent of something does not explain the cause of the thing;
    - Laws do not stand in causal relationship to anything but only serve to describe the normal behavior of physical things.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
  13. Anguspure

    Anguspure Slave Supporter

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    The evidence called for assumes that the God can be observed from a world view of materialism and then denies the finger print of God on creation on the same assumption.

    Atheists do themselves out of God because they refuse to acknowledge other way of knowing apart from the empirical, refuse to acknowledge metaphysical possibilities that do not necessarily manifest in a physical world view, and then deny the validity of their own physical observations when these all to obviously supply evidence of things unseen (Biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose. Richard Dawkins).

    Of these it is written: since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1)

    Although it is good to contend with opposition to arguments put forward and we should be concerned with the validity of the same, we should be careful about putting to much stock in the position of fools who simply want to keep the foot of God out of the door.
     
  14. Tetra

    Tetra Active Member

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    Let me ask you a question though, can you be swayed to alter your position? I don't know if you are or aren't, but sometimes I think we forget how stubborn we can be holding onto our own worldview, and then apply a different rule set to an atheist. For me, I generally try to concede a point if I truly believe it has validity. I suspect however, their refusal is no different than anyone else with a worldview.

    I think a distinction should be made between arguing for theism / deism, or arguing for Christianity. I think many atheists would have an easier time rationalizing, say deism, over Christendom. The move to Christendom would most likely require "faith" as it were.
     
  15. jasonwrites

    jasonwrites New Member

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    I'm not quite sure what you mean by alter my position.

    There is indeed an entirely different sort of discussion when you are engaged in an inter-faith dialogue-- Christian to Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, etc., versus a theist vs. atheist discussion. The strain of American atheists who like to argue (which I suspect is a minority subset of the whole population thereof) usually fine-tune their points to focus on either Christ specifically or the Abrahamic God more generally, since those are the by far the predominant religions in the U.S.

    But they also like to respond to any assertions of God's existence by saying "Which god?" and go on to say there is absolutely no difference between Christ, Yahweh, Allah, and Zeus or Thor or Quezacoatal (sp) or (their favorite for illustrating absurdity) The Flying Spaghetti Monster, because all have equal evidence of existence, and that is exactly zero evidence, in their view.

    And then they'll go on to say how naive it is to just decide you're going to believe in something and base your life on that, and how it's childish to base your actions on gaining either eternal reward or eternal punishment, and that belief in any kind of higher power is not necessary to have a strong moral compass (that one I kind of agree with, to a point).

    These arguments are unwinnable, as both sides are convinced they're correct and they're not going to change the mind of the other.

    Now, if the discussion is with an agnostic, someone who says they just can't decide for sure whether or not God exists, then you are going to be drawn into the paradox of omni-God, that is, how can God be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent all at the same time. I admit that this is where I still struggle, because ideas like unconditional election and limited atonement horrify me. They suggest that God creates human souls, sentient beings in His own image, who were damned from the beginning of time. I'm not the only one who can't reconcile that thinking with the idea of God being all-good. But that is a discussion for another thread.
     
  16. jasonwrites

    jasonwrites New Member

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    Although it is good to contend with opposition to arguments put forward and we should be concerned with the validity of the same, we should be careful about putting to much stock in the position of fools who simply want to keep the foot of God out of the door.[/QUOTE]

    I agree. I suppose, for me, I have a fascination with science, especially cosmology, and I want to rationally reconcile what I've learned with my faith in God. Although I do understand that, the more you learn, the easier one can slide towards disbelief in the divine, I think there are some Christians (as well as theists of other religions) who have taken an anti-science tact out of fear-- fear they're going to be convinced to lose their faith. Unfortunately this translates to a larger anti-science and anti-intellectual agenda that creates, in the most egregious example, climate change deniers. There are people who think the cosmos is only 6,000 years old, that dinosaurs and other fossils were placed in the ground by Satan to intentionally delude us, that the Earth is flat... in the 21st century.

    But I feel that when we are commanded to love God with all our MIND as well as heart, that He intends for us to think, to question, to use this incredible consciousness He's blessed us with to its fullest extent. Just like money and all other inventions of man, science is neither good nor bad on its own; it's all about how it's used. I believe it's a tool we have to discover the design of Creation. It ultimately doesn't matter HOW God created the universe, only that He DID.

    I apologize for going off on a bit of a tangent there.
     
  17. Paul Yohannan

    Paul Yohannan # Staff Member Trainee Supporter

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    The main problem with this argument is that it requires causality, which in turn requires dualism, with time becoming a separate eternal entity, or rather spacetime.

    If we say God created spacetime, this act of creation must be understood as transcending causality.
     
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  18. Anguspure

    Anguspure Slave Supporter

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    I think the way that this is dealt with is by saying that God enters spacetime concurrent with the point at which He creates it. That the Timeless God at the point of creation has now become the Eternal God subsequent to His creation and interaction with time.
     
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  19. EatingPie

    EatingPie Blueberry!

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    The logic itself here strikes me as somewhat problematic.

    "Whatever begins to exist has a cause."

    I see this as a form of "hasty generalization" (though decidedly less hasty than others). We may have observed many (many!) things which point to a cause / effect nature. But at what point do we call our sample group "adequate"? EG What "caused" the vacuum of space? Or matter?

    "The universe began to exist."

    As far as I know, this remains purely theoretical. Let us take the Big Bang as a "causitive" event. Some Big Bang proponents postit an infinite succession of Big Bangs - Bang, expand, contract, Bang, expand, contract, Bang... So we have no first Big Bang. In this regard, the Big Bang is merely one aspect or state of the way the universe exists (eg right now, the universe is in a state of expansion).

    At the very least, I believe the second statement fails, so we never even get to the third... much less to this providing evidence of the existence of God.

    -Pie
     
  20. Anguspure

    Anguspure Slave Supporter

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    Everything that has ever been observed to begin to exist has a cause, without exception, and you regard this as an inadequate sample group? Really?
    I think the rational thing to say is that the sample group may be regarded as adequate when it consists of everything that might be observed to exist or conceivably exist.
    At the very least the assertion can be said to bear the weight of all of the available evidence and is therefore vastly more plausibly true than the alternative which would leave us wondering why all manner of things don't just 'pop' into existence all over the show.

    Again you can be all hand wavy and vague here but your contention has been tossed around before and the weight of the evidence is against you: “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.” Alex Vilenkin
    Vilenkin’s verdict: “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.” | Uncommon Descent