Dismiss Notice

Welcome to Christian Forums, a friendly forum to discuss Christianity in a friendly surrounding.

Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
  • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
  • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting after you have posted 20 posts and have received 5 likes.
  • Access to private conversations with other members.
  • Less Advertisements! Members see fewer ads and have the option to upgrade their account to ad free!

We hope to see you as a part of our community soon and God Bless!

Featured The Existence of God & The Kalam Cosmological Argument

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

  1. Everybodyknows

    Everybodyknows Nothing

    Messages:
    299
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +242
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    I've stated why. Tell me why not? Or actually, run me through your reasoning of how you arrive at causality applying in the timeless.

    I'm working off this definition:
    If you have a different definition then we need to come to agreement on that before we can progress.

    Causes must precede effects in time. If there is no time then one event cannot be said to be before another.

    Why is 'timeless cause' contradictory. It follows from my reasoning above. A cause must precede and be coupled to its effect in time.

    I prefer Anguspure's wording of a 'potential timeless cause' becoming an 'actual cause' upon entering time. If that is what you mean we can agree, otherwise I'm not understanding how it is at all logical.
     
  2. YouAreAwesome

    YouAreAwesome ☝✌

    Messages:
    1,390
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +520
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    You have both conceded premise 2. Rather than arguing that 2 is a truth statement, you are now arguingthe premise is more likely than it's conjugate based on the evidence. This should be inserted into the premise because by conceding this you agree the argument as presented in the op fails.
     
  3. Anguspure

    Anguspure Slave Supporter

    Messages:
    1,036
    Ratings:
    +431
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    Sorry to burst your triumphant bubble but I have done no such thing.

    What I have conceded, in recognition of the nature of the scientific endeavour, is that at some future time real evidence (as opposed to creative speculation) may become apparant that contradicts the premise.

    My concession is not different to the statement made by W. Lane-Craig in his book OnGuard:
    The truth of a statement such as "The universe began to exist" is assesed on the available evidence.

    On the available evidence premise 2 is indeed a truth statement.
     
  4. YouAreAwesome

    YouAreAwesome ☝✌

    Messages:
    1,390
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +520
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    So when someone reads...

    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
    2. The universe began to exist
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause

    ...they should really be taking from the argument that the universe LIKELY has a cause? Is this really what is being argued? If you are arguing that it is somewhat likely the universe has a cause, I see this as very different to saying "THEREFORE THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE". My whole aim in this thread has not been to prove the conjugate of the argument, but to highlight the flaws in the argument; that it has holes, i.e. the universe does not necessarily have a beginning. But now you seem to be arguing that you agree with me? That the universe didn't necessarily have a beginning, or a cause, but the evidence seems to point in that direction?
     
  5. Anguspure

    Anguspure Slave Supporter

    Messages:
    1,036
    Ratings:
    +431
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    I think that what you are saying here realistically goes without saying for any argument that a person might make about anything. I apologise for any confusion caused by my confidence in the truth of the statement.

    When the philosopher (or I) states that the universe began to exist he is making a confident assertion on the grounds of the evidence which he is prepared to present in defence of that statement.

    I made the concession becuase it appeared to me that this was not being recognised in the debate, that the opposition presented to the statement seemed to consider that we think that we have reached a state of all knowledge on the subject before a confident assertion on the evidence is made.

    W.Lane-Craig again:
    So to labor the point, I am confident in the truth of the statement of the premise: the universe had a beginning, and I am prepared to defend the premise on the available evidence, all of which points to the truth of the statement.

    Another thought, at the risk of sounding conceited I suppose, any concession I might make to the opposing view could be considered not a concession of the premise in question but is really an expression of my confidence in the strength of the evidence.
    I don't really consider that the efforts of those who seek to show the universe is beginnless will be by any means succesful.
    When I've got such a big mound of chips in front of me, I can probably afford to throw a couple on the table in the name of goodwill.
     
  6. Anguspure

    Anguspure Slave Supporter

    Messages:
    1,036
    Ratings:
    +431
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    Another thought, because it occurs to me that we have perhaps forgotten, that even if the Scientific evidence can be consider as provisional, that the Philosophical argument against an actual infinity (and therefore a beginingless universe) is necessarily true.

    So, given that you may have forgotten that thread of the argument, I can see why you might have considered a concession in respect of the Scientific evidence a concession of the whole premise, when in fact only a partial concession was made on the Scientific part of the argument without any concession whatsoever being made in respect of the Philosophical argument.
     
  7. YouAreAwesome

    YouAreAwesome ☝✌

    Messages:
    1,390
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +520
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    Yes, thank you, so the question is: How certain are we that Premise 2 is true (and Premise 1)?

    I believe there is strong evidence that Premise 2 is highly uncertain. Rather than finding just one reason Premise 2 is uncertain, I must now find multiple reasons. But I would also like you to present the rest of the evidence (the BGV is not convincing as I've already shown).

    Problem one: Quantum mechanics makes "causes" difficult to find and there is no certainty they even exist.

    Problem two: the Big Bang is not an event. Similar to the arguments presented by @Everybodyknows , an event must take place within a space-time context. The Big Bang cannot be considered as a physical event occurring at a point in time. Maybe it's easiest to quote Hawking "the finite universe has no space-time boundaries and hence lacks singularity and a beginning" (Hawking, 1988). Thus time might be multi-dimensional or imaginary, in which case one asymptotically approaches a beginning singularity but never reaches it (Reichanbach). Without a beginning the universe requires no cause. The best one can say is that the universe is finite with respect to the past, not that it was an event with a beginning (see Rundle, 2004) - and also for a recent overview of the cosmological argument see Cosmological Argument (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy/Winter 2016 Edition)
     
  8. YouAreAwesome

    YouAreAwesome ☝✌

    Messages:
    1,390
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +520
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    I'm not sure there needs to be an infinite past to remove the possibility for no beginning.
     
  9. anonymous person

    anonymous person Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,892
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +387
    Marital Status:
    In Relationship
    Faith:
    Christian
    I think something Bill Craig said in response to Carroll's similar objection is pertinent here.

    A grad student and friend of Bill Craig pointed out to him that some would object to premise 1 because, "it presupposes an Aristotelian conception of causality, according to which substances stand in causal relations to one another, whereas contemporary theories of causation think of causal relations as obtaining between other entities, for example, events or states of affairs. The contemporary causal theorist would not say that God is the cause of the universe, but, for example, that God’s creating the universe is the cause of the universe’s coming into being."

    Craig goes on to say, "Now I think that the view that causal relations obtain between substances (as well as between events or states of affairs) is perfectly defensible.1 We say that God created the universe, just as Tolstoy wrote Anna Karenina or Picasso painted Guernica, which statements posit causal relations between these things. But I’m constantly engaged in honing my arguments to make them more immune to possible objections, so I re-formulated the first premiss to make it as neutral as possible with respect to one’s theory of causation."

    This re-formulation can be written as:

    1. If the universe began to exist, then there is a transcendent cause which brought the universe into existence.

    Craig goes on to say regarding his debate with Carroll, "My opening speech actually includes a footnote at this point (which, of course, was not delivered orally) which reads:

    (1) does not presuppose a particular analysis of the causal relation. It requires simply that the universe did not come into being uncaused. For the universe to come into being without a cause of any sort would be to come into existence from nothing, which is worse than magic.

    (1) leaves it entirely open whether the transcendent cause is a substance, an event, a state of affairs, or what have you.

    Notice the justification of (1): it’s obvious. In magic, the magician makes a material thing come into being without any material substratum. But if (1) is false, then the universe came into being without either a material or a productive cause, which is truly worse than magic. Anyone who denies (1) should therefore also have no problem with magic."

    Read more: Some Reflections on the Sean Carroll Debate | Reasonable Faith

    So it seems to me that as long as you dont think that the universe could have come into being from nothing, by nothing, then you would accept the revised premise without any misgivings regarding the concept of causality. Accept that it is at least more plausible than its negation.
     
  10. anonymous person

    anonymous person Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,892
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +387
    Marital Status:
    In Relationship
    Faith:
    Christian
    The Wikipedia article states that causes are thought to generally precede their effects in time. This isn't really controversial and I dont take issue with it, that is, if we are talking about causal relations that occur in time. I think that goes without saying don't you? For example, when we see lightening flash across the sky, we understand that we are looking at an effect that comes about in time.

    If however, we are talking about spacetime itself as an effect, then the notion of a temporal cause being responsible for it is demonstrably false, because time would have to exist before it existed, which is absurd. Rather we would simply say that there had to have been a state of affairs wherein the cause of spacetime existed timelessly and then in time at the first moment of time.

    Once again, unless you maintain that spacetime could have created itself or that spacetime came into being from nothing by nothing, then you should have no misgivings in accepting the claim that a cause transcending time caused spacetime to come into being.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  11. SolomonVII

    SolomonVII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    19,400
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +2,730
    Marital Status:
    Private
    Politics:
    CA-Conservatives
    Faith:
    Catholic
    Anything beyond the Big Bang and the beginning of space and matter and time from essentially nothing, goes beyond the capabilities of science, and likely even human neural ability, and therefore is no longer a scientific endeavor anymore, but a matter of pure conjecture.
     
  12. Anguspure

    Anguspure Slave Supporter

    Messages:
    1,036
    Ratings:
    +431
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    The evidence for the standard model, to the point of a singularity is, I think, uncontroversial and mainstream so for me to present the evidence for it wouldn't really be useful, especially since I also recognise that the physical laws of the universe breakdown at the quantum level resulting in an uncertainty as to the nature of whatever lies beyond in the Quantum world. So I will try to address your problems.

    What Quantum mechanics makes difficult is the observation of "causes" so that the people working in the field under the assumption of the scientific method and perhaps under the assumption that the basic reality is in "things", are unable to make a certain determination as to what has taken place.

    So when a particle appears from the Vacuum, there is no way of observing a cause that is a thing and they declare that the particle came from nothing.

    But what reason is there to suggest that the very foundational concepts upon which all human thought is based breakdown at the quantum level?

    To be frank I'm trying to get my head around this, please bear with me.

    Initially this strikes me as hair splitting over the point at which an event begins to take place, and so by placing the point at which the effect takes place beyond space time, in some unobservable place called "nothing", then invoking Mr Zeno again (to which I respond by getting up and walking around the table), and some highly speculative hypothesis about time, they think they can remove the beginning.

    It seems to be a bit like if I was to hide the end of a piece of string, declaring that the end doesn't exist and that we have no reason to beleive that the end actually exists.

    The point is, I think, that clearly an event begins to take place at the point which the cause begins to have an effect and if this lies beyond our observation point I don't see what valid reason we might have to deny that nevertheless the event had a cause or a beginning of the effect for that matter.

    I'm sorry, I'm not a physicist or even a philosopher, I can see that this sort of stuff is really fun and creative thinking (assuming that its not laced with the desperation of trying to keep Someones foot out of the door), and I have a great admiration for it, but I do know the difference between hypothesis and theory.

    I suppose I need to do a little more study on the subject in order to give you a better response but for now this is where I've got to (not that what I have written above is reflective of it):
     
  13. Everybodyknows

    Everybodyknows Nothing

    Messages:
    299
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +242
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    Glad we agree. This is the point I have been trying to make all along.

    I see you are both essentially saying the same thing here, nicely written Anguspure.

    Unfortunately this is where I start to have troubles though. What the cause was outside of time is irrelevant with respect to time. All that is important is what the cause is once it enters time.

    My main problem here is that the timeless potential cause manifests as an actual cause instantaneously in time and occurs simultaneously with it's effect. This I see as a violation of causality's underlying principle of temporal succession. If simultaneous cause and effect are possible then a chain of any number of successive causes and effects would also be possible. We simply don't observe the universe working this way. As I've said before I find this notion as absurd as retrospective causality.

    Furthermore I am doubtful that a cause (or anything for that matter) can occur instantaneously in time. Every cause must actuate in time for some non-zero amount of time. For example, we can't have a force that acts on an object instantaneously. A force that acts for zero length of time is the same as no force at all. The force must act over some non-zero time to actuate its effect. Instantaneous in time is synonymous with not existing. If an object were to only exist for an instant it would not have existed at all.
    Again I can't agree with your conclusion here because I take a different approach to this issue. I agree that things cannot create themselves and I dislike the idea of something from nothing as much as yourself.

    Lets imagine timeless state of affairs (sa). Now (sa) can only be in one state. In (sa) we have God timelessly existing. Now if we want to say God created the universe then it follows that the embryonic universe must also be included (sa) and inextricably linked to God. In fact a state of affairs where God exists without the embryonic universe is not possible as this would require (sa) to progress from one state to another implying that its not after all timeless (God alone -> God + embryo universe). I then conclude that it's better to say that the embryonic universe existed timelessly with God, and that embryo had the inherent property of time beginning. The timeless embryo uncreated and uncaused in much the same way we accept that the timeless God is uncaused. In this way I get around the problems of something from nothing and a breakdown of the causal principle.

    I see why Christians would shy away such an approach because one could remove God from the equation altogether and it still make sense.
     
  14. anonymous person

    anonymous person Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,892
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +387
    Marital Status:
    In Relationship
    Faith:
    Christian
    Actually, all that is important is that you accept premises 1 and 2 as being more plausible than their negation. If you do, then the conclusion follows necessarily because the argument is a deductive argument.

    A conceptual analysis is where we actually get into discussing and analyzing the cause and what it would be.

    I would not say that the cause "occurs" simultaneously with its effect. I would just say that the cause of spacetime exists timelessly sans creation and in time subsequent to it. The cause is not an action which occurs. It is an agent which acts and produces an effect.

    The causal principle is a metaphysical principle and thus applies to any state of affairs whether said state of affairs is a temporal one or a timeless one. For example, imagine a state of affairs wherein there is no spacetime, i.e. a timeless state of affairs i.e. one devoid of a universe. Let us call this state of affairs (s). Now imagine that an entity we shall call (e) comes into being in (s). The causal principle tells us that if (e) comes into being, then there is a cause for it doing so. The fact that (s) is timeless is irrelevant because once again, the metaphysical principle applies to all of reality, i.e. all states of affairs, not just a temporal state of affairs. That is what is meant by metaphysical.

    Therefore this principle has no underlying principle of temporal succession. You simply have misunderstood what the principle is.

    I think we do observe causal relations which are simultaneous in nature. A ball striking a pane of glass for example. The glass breaks the moment the ball strikes it. We would say the ball causes the glass to break the moment it comes into contact with the glass. Or a seat cushion being acted upon by my butt. The indentation occurs the moment I sit down on it. The indentation does not occur a second later or a minute later, but the moment my butt touches it, i.e. instantaneously.

    A moment is a non-zero amount of time. Refer to the previous examples of causes creating effects instantaneously.

    Instantaneously has the word "instant" in it, i.e. a moment. As I said earlier and I reiterate, a moment or an instant is NOT a "zero length of time". It is a moment of time.




    Correct. It acts in a moment or instantaneously.

    Your notion of instantaneous is incorrect and I hope I have helped you see why.

    From the Oxford Dictionary:

    Instant:

    noun
    • 1 A precise moment of time:

      ‘come here this instant!’

      moment, time, point in time, moment in time, minute, second, hour
      View synonyms

    • 2A very short time; a moment:

      ‘for an instant the moon disappeared’
    Fortunately, it seems your trouble is simply due to a misunderstanding of what the term instantaneous means.

    I noticed you said you disliked the idea of something from nothing but you did not say that you agree with me that something cannot come from nothing.

    It is not that I dislike the idea of something coming from nothing, it is that the idea is impossible, just like the notion of something being self caused.
     
  15. YouAreAwesome

    YouAreAwesome ☝✌

    Messages:
    1,390
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +520
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    Yes, the Big Bang and inflation from a singularity are only disputed on the fringes. But this is not evidence for a cause, it is evidence for a singularity, right?

    Yes, the observation appears to affect the results and the quantum fluctuations appear to have no cause.

    The idea is mathematical and relates to Limits. Time approaches a beginning but never reaches it (hence the word "asymptotically"). Perhaps a creative way to describe it has to do with fractals. You can zoom in on particular fractals infinitely and it will continue to change shape infinitely. Time may be the same, just because we are moving towards the past infinitely, doesn't mean we will "get to a beginning".

    You quoted Craig:

    In sum, we shouldn’t be misled by appeals to purely theoretical claims in abstraction from what the physical evidence indicates is actually the case. I also observe that if George Ellis is correct that we have reached the physical and observational limits possible for human beings, then these conclusions will not and cannot be overturned by any future scientific discoveries.

    Most theoretical physicists and philosophers disagree with Craig, and not because he's a christian, but because the arguments are not solid. Physical evidence breaks down and theoretical claims are all we have for now. If Ellis is correct then it is not impossible for there to be a beginning, but it is also not impossible for there to be no beginning.
     
  16. YouAreAwesome

    YouAreAwesome ☝✌

    Messages:
    1,390
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +520
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    I'd like to also join @Everybodyknows and strongly dispute Premise 1. I notice a problem in the Premise after thinking through the discussion that I didn't notice previously that I'm semi-confident completely debunks it.
    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
    As noted there are two different ways we can think about beginning to exist. The first is a reordering of matter such as a table, or a planet, or a person. These things did not exist until something caused them to exist, by rearranging the matter. But the matter within all of them previously existed, just in a different form. A tree later becomes a table. Or dust later becomes a person. If we think of beginning to exist is this way, then we are not talking about matter itself beginning to exist, we are talking about reordering matter into a newly existing state. However, Premise 2 is not talking about this kind of beginning to exist. Premise 2 is talking about matter itself beginning to exist

    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
    2. The universe began to exist
    So Premise 2 is talking about matter beginning to exist, not about tables beginning to exist.

    Problematically, the wording of Premise 1 is misleading as it leads the reader to think about how things in our observable lives began to exist by causes (tables, people etc). But the "whatever begins to exist" only applies to one thing, the universe. Rather than saying "whatever" the Premise should only say "the universe" because there is nothing else that fits the Premise. So Premise 1 is actually saying:
    1. The universe began to exist and has a cause
    And this is exactly the conclusion. So in stating Premise 1 and 2 the KCA is actually stating the conclusion because only the universe began to exist in the sense the argument is using the phrase "began to exist".

    In short, we don't know if anything has begun to exist in the sense of not existing followed by existing with regards to physical matter so Premise 1 is nonsensical. Kalam Cosmological Argument defeated.
     
  17. anonymous person

    anonymous person Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,892
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +387
    Marital Status:
    In Relationship
    Faith:
    Christian
    If the universe comes into being then there exists something other than the universe which brought it into existence. You know perfectly well that if it has a beginning it did not create itself nor did it just pop into being from nothing.

    You want to resort to claiming the universe never began to exist i.e. that it is eternal. That's fine. All the evidence is against you however. God has made His existence known through His creation and you deny this. Once again, you are free to do so. The Kalam is not an argument that is going to grab you by the shirt and force you to agree with it. It will not nor is it intended to compel assent.

    Maybe you can tell us why you think nothing can create the universe and why nothing is so discriminatory as to only create universes?

    Please also feel free at anytime to offer evidence that the universe has always existed.
     
  18. Everybodyknows

    Everybodyknows Nothing

    Messages:
    299
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +242
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    I don't yet, that is the whole reason I'm here.

    Ok clearly you are better versed in philosophy than I, but you have lost me here. I'm not seeing how the causal principle can hold in the timeless. Aren't we violating the law of identity by defining causality as a temporal succession of events and then saying it can be something other than that in the timeless. Maybe you could just point me to some sources for the sake of brevity.

    Again you've lost me here. Are you actually arguing that timeless God must have a cause? I'm sure you're not but that's how I'm reading it.

    You see I view (s) as static, it is how it is and can't be any other way. That its what I meant by saying it could only occupy one state. I simply don't see how (e) could begin to exist in (s). That would imply (s) would progress from an initial state where (e) does not exist to a final state where (e) exists. What I am describing temporal succession. But if we have defined (s) as being without time then we could only say that (e) either exists or it does not.

    What if there was also entities (f), (g) & (h) in (s)? Are you saying we could determine which have begun to exist and which have always existed without cause?Could they be connected in some meaningful network of causal relations?

    Again, I'm lost before we even get to talking about causes.

    Simultaneous causal relationships are just an illusion of our perception.

    On an atomic level in slow motion we would observe something very different. The ball would approach the glass and the electrons on the surface of the ball and glass would begin to build up a repulsive force. This force would eventually become large enough to begin distorting the glass. We would see a shock wave begin to propagate through the glass at a finite speed. When the force became large enough to overcome the sheer strength of the glass we would see cracks opening up and propagate through the glass at a finite speed, etc.

    Not to mention you threw the ball!

    I'm still unconvinced that simultaneous cause and effect are possible and see no reason to give cosmic beginnings an exception.

    There are 2 ways of looking at it in mathematics. As a coordinate which is dimensionless it is indeed 0, or as an infinitesimally small non-zero subdivision. Both are used depending on what you are doing.

    Nonetheless my bigger problem is with simultaneous rather than instantaneous. So perhaps this disagreement isn't so relevant to the point.


    Agreed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  19. anonymous person

    anonymous person Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,892
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +387
    Marital Status:
    In Relationship
    Faith:
    Christian
    I'm glad you are interested in the Kalam and that you are here seeking to learn. I commend you for taking the time to hear us out on what we have to say.

    Tell me, what interests you about the Kalam argument?

    Are you wondering if maybe God exists?
     
  20. Everybodyknows

    Everybodyknows Nothing

    Messages:
    299
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +242
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    Oh I believe God exists, but I have not arrived at that through logic. I'm far more interested in discussing his nature rather than his existence.

    I've heard Kalam before but never looked into it in great depth. I find it an interesting argument , but for me it raises far more questions than it answers.

    I also enjoy a bit of debate if it remains amicable. I like to be challenged and discover other points of view.